Online Retail Today

Kibo’s Marketing Minute: The Story Behind Google’s EU Fine

 

Striving to keep up with the ever-changing world of eCommerce?  Join Bryant Goodall of Kibo’s Digital Marketing team for a minute.  

In this minute, find out why Google was fined by the EU, and how to make sure you have smart digital strategy.

 

Transcript below:

Hi and welcome to Kibo’s Marketing Minute where we share digital marketing tips, trends and news from the ecommerce industry in about a minute. I’m Bryant Goodall, the Digital Marketing Manager at Kibo and here’s what’s happening.

As you’ve no doubt heard, Google’s in trouble again. A couple of months ago, the creator of the world’s most visited website, was found by the EU to be giving preferential treatment to their own Google Shopping over competitor price-comparison sites. The European Union fined Google $2.7 billion, ruling that Google’s behavior was illegal and anti-competitive. The commission responsible for the ruling gave Google 90 days to begin ranking its own shopping comparison the same way as the other sites or face additional fines.

Although this doesn’t have a specific impact outside of the EU right now, it does serve as a reminder to all online retailers that even paid solutions can share the volatility of other channels on the internet. Just imagine if Google Shopping went away right? As the online channels continue to merge, it’s certainly smart that you not go all-in on just social, paid search or just SEO. It’s a lot like building a foundation on part of the house while the other parts are sinking into the mud.

Welp, that wraps it up. Quick right? but check out more great information on the Omni Channel and let’s keep the conversation going in comment section below.

Holiday Season Customer Service

Tips For The Best Customer Service This Holiday

As the holiday season revs up, many sellers are focused on their promotional calendars, hoping that savvy discounting strategies and big wins on key dates such as Black Friday will bring success. But just as important, though often overlooked, is customer service — a core component of the shopping experience that can make or break brand loyalty.

Given that few brands can compete on price with discounting juggernauts such as Amazon, customer service is increasingly a key differentiator for small- to mid-sized merchants. Those who promote and deliver on the promise of stellar service — from helpful pre-purchase interactions to on-time order delivery to convenient returns — stand to retain customers and earn word-of-mouth buzz. Those who’ve had positive prior experiences spend an average of 140% more than those who ran into customer service roadblocks, according to the Harvard Business Review. And thanks to social media, the potential downside to poor service is significant: Fully 46% of consumers — and 56% of Millennials — have called out brands on social networks for poor customer service, according to Sprout Social.

Customer service is so important that Kibo’s customer success team devoted an entire holiday readiness webinar to the topic. Among the priorities they identified:

 

Spotlight holiday shipping deadlines now.

Given that some 40% of shoppers have begun their holiday gift-buying in October or earlier, according to the National Retail Federation, merchants should stack the deck of free shipping promotions in favor of early purchasing and spotlighting those specials now, along with shipping timelines for the pre-season as well as the peak period after November. To further stimulate planning and early purchasing, merchants should message holiday cutoff dates early and often via multiple touchpoints — from triggered email messaging to social media.

And “early” doesn’t just apply to the holiday calendar — it’s also relevant for the path to purchase. Shipping processes and timeframes should be tailored to the item level and displayed on the product detail page as well as in the cart and checkout. For perishables, large items, and other merchandise requiring special handling, information should be tailored and specially flagged. Overall shipping cutoff dates and holiday delivery services can even be promoted via banners from the home page and category pages, as well as on advertising landing pages.

Vet BOPIS order process end to end.

Speaking of order fulfillment, merchants should cater to the 79% of shoppers who use Buy Online, Pickup in Store, aka BOPIS, services as a speedy and free way to take possession of their goods. For starters, sellers should list BOPIS options alongside home delivery options wherever shipping information is displayed — and highlight BOPIS in particular, especially as delivery cutoff dates speed past.

In addition, merchants should vet their BOPIS experience thoroughly in advance of peak crowds to make sure messaging is accurate and consistent, from the first inventory lookup option on the product detail page through to the in-store signage directing shoppers to the pickup desk. While it’s late for major technical overhauls, sellers can tweak verbiage to clarify the process, adjust in-store merchandise displays to tempt pickup customers to make additional purchases, and find ways to proactively message about any potentially confusing hurdles that might lead to dissatisfaction or delays.

(Merchants who don’t offer BOPIS should move it to the top of the 2018 priority list — and consider Kibo’s industry-leading omnichannel solution to create a seamless customer experience.)

Make returns a win-win.

Given the uncertainties of ordering items online without touching and trying them, it’s no surprise that fully 30% of eCommerce customers go on to return purchases — a percentage that jumps during and after the holidays, when gift returns are rampant.

So given how prevalent returns are, they needn’t be the end of the customer relationship; rather, they can be an opportunity — if the process is painless. Indeed, fully 92% of shoppers returning items say they’re willing to consider purchasing from the same merchant again based on the ease of the returns experience. Shoppers who can return online orders in-store may reward that convenience immediately: 70% make an additional purchase during their visit.

During the holiday season, merchants should highlight convenient return policies — from free return shipping to in-store returns for items bought online. And while it may seem self-defeating to promote returns even before orders are placed, such transparent messaging signals a commitment to service that can boost trust and brand loyalty. Proactive messaging about returns via social media and on the eCommerce site can reassure harried holiday shoppers that their gift picks won’t go to waste if they’re not a perfect match.

Use chatbots sparingly and transparently.

Shoppers have ever-heightening expectations for swift customer service, especially when it comes to social media. Upwards of 40% of shoppers who use social media to reach brands expect a response within an hour, according to research from The Social Habit.

With this need for speed, it’s tempting for merchants to turn to artificial intelligence and chatbots to handle customer service complaints instantaneously. But chatbots that merchants attempt to pass off as human rarely succeed, and can alienate shoppers with generic or irrelevant responses that complicate rather than speed resolution of their requests.

To ensure both speed and satisfaction, merchants should triage incoming requests and route complex questions to live humans; chatbot usage should be limited to use cases where responses are clear-cut. Whatever chatbot interactions do occur should be clearly labeled as such, and easy access to live human help — via a link or toll-free phone number — should be readily available. Given that 90% of support requests are for order status updates — a task easily handled initially by chatbots — sellers can still realize cost savings in the call center even if that’s the sole service topic they delegate to AI-driven systems.  

To help slow the tide of incoming requests in the first place, merchants should also beef up their self-service content. A growing number of shoppers consult FAQs and customer-contributed Q and A resources before even trying to reach live help, and 39% of Millennials turn to self-service help first and foremost. As the holidays approach, merchants should review Q&A content for top products, update FAQs, and incorporate common responses into core product page information.

 

Looking for more holiday readiness tips? Read the first and second blog posts in the series here. To ramp up the shopping experience for 2018, check out Kibo’s omnichannel commerce solution and gain access to strategy expertise during the holidays and year round.

The Case Of The Missing Omnichannel Strategy

Omnichannel is the goal, but where do retailers stand?

As the industry starts to focus more on how omnichannel technology influences the customer experience, it’s become important to see how far retailers have come, and where they currently stand.

View this infographic to explore what you might be missing from your current omnichannel strategy in regards to:

  • Fulfillment and Inventory
  • Personalization
  • Price Consistancy
  • In-Store Signage

 

The State of Omnichannel Commerce, Omnichannel Strategy

Omnichannel Experience

New Research: Kibo Study Reveals Crucial Gaps In Omnichannel Experience

There’s good news and bad news in Kibo’s latest survey of retailers’ omnichannel offerings. While merchants are making great strides toward a unified brand experience, the “last mile” of the omnichannel path-to-purchase leaves much to be desired for consumers — which means dollars left on the table for sellers.

Kibo’s 2017 “State of Omnichannel Commerce” report details the result of mystery shopping forays both online and offline at more than 30 mid-market and leading retailers.  On the surface, it reveals that the vast majority of merchants have adopted best practices when it comes to integrated online and offline experiences. For example, some 87% of merchants offer online shoppers the ability to view product availability at local stores, and store associates at 97% of retailers can view inventory enterprise-wide.

But a deeper dive into the results show that these implementations still lack the complete fluidity today’s consumers demand. To fully realize the potential of their universal inventory and fulfillment operations, merchants must:

 

Cater to mobile shoppers, not just BOPIS buyers. Kibo’s survey found that not only do most merchants display in-store product availability on their eCommerce sites, but in most cases, shoppers who locate relevant products can secure them immediately for pickup, with 77% of sites offering “buy online, pickup in-store” (BOPIS) or ship-to-store capabilities. Some 78% of consumers report having bought online to pick up in-store in the past six months, according to Kibo’s Consumer Trends Report.

But not every online shopper is set to whip out a credit card. Indeed, while two-thirds of online interactions with brands now occur on mobile devices, mobile transactions remain a small piece of the overall retail pie, which means that the vast majority of online sessions do not result in an immediate purchase. Mobile browsing and research does lead to in-store buying, however, influencing a whopping 31% of all retail sales — which means that sellers should cater to those shoppers heading out the door to buy in-store immediately.

Shipping and Delivery

Shipping and Delivery

So far, though, most merchants are missing a crucial component of the puzzle: just 35% of sites display inventory quantities, leaving consumers in the dark if they’re unwilling to wait up to a day for their order to be processed, picked, and packed via BOPIS, or even longer for ship-to-store orders. Shoppers headed to the store now want to know how many items are in-stock and even where to find them; especially during the holiday season when top sellers fly off the shelves, such information is crucial. Mass merchant Target’s product page display of fulfillment options both offers the ability to purchase on the spot and lets shoppers know exactly how many items are in store, as well as the aisle number.

 

Untether store associates from the register when conducting omnichannel business.  Enterprise-wide inventory visibility for store staff is a boon, given that more than half of consumers expect associates to be able to find items that are in stock elsewhere, whether on-site or at another location. But while access to inventory for associates is nearly universal, they can only rarely access the information they need while in-aisle with customers. Rather, fully two-thirds of associates must return to a register or terminal to look up inventory. As anyone knows who’s had to trek from a big-box store aisle to the nearest service desk, such an undertaking is rarely quick — undercutting the flow of the associates’ sales interaction and reducing convenience to the shopper.

Furthermore, if associates go on to help shoppers purchase one of those items located elsewhere, a whopping 92% of them must conduct those transactions at a register or computer terminal, rather than completing orders in-aisle. And 24% of associates can’t even help place such orders at all, forcing shoppers to fend for themselves if they want to claim items at other locations. In an era when self-checkout is ubiquitous and checkout-free prototypes such as Amazon Go are establishing new expectations for seamless in-store transactions, such hurdles are increasingly unacceptable. Merchants should invest in solutions such as Kibo’s mobile point of sale to give associates the flexibility they require to meet shoppers’ needs wherever in the store interactions take place.

 

Read more about Kibo’s mystery shopping survey and download the full report for more omnichannel insights, including:

  • which personalization techniques are most common — and most overlooked;
  • popular price matching strategies; and
  • assessment of store layout and signage
mobile paid search

Five Ways To Boost eCommerce Success In The Era Of Mobile-First Paid Search

Mobile paid search was once considered a bargain buy. Now that the majority of searches occur on mobile devices, however, CPC bids are catching up to reality. ECommerce merchants must invest their paid search dollars more wisely than ever to execute an effective mobile paid search strategy that drives omnichannel sales.

Smartphones are now the dominant search tool in terms of both clicks and search volume, according to a study from Google and ROI Revolution, with phones surpassing desktop and laptop computers and tablets for the first time in 2016. And 55% of clicks on ads in the popular Google Shopping format are on smartphones, according to Marin Software.

This surge in mobile paid search usage is boosting CPC rates for search ads targeted to mobile devices. Although smartphone ad rates still trail desktop by some 20%, according to Marin Software, that gap has closed by 9 percentage points, or 30%, in the past year. During the peak holiday shopping period, competition is particularly intense, with mobile CPC rates jumping 5% year-over-year in 2016, compared with price declines for desktop computers and tablets, according to the Google/ROI Revolution study.

Given these pricing pressures, small-to-mid-sized merchants must wield their paid search investments more carefully than ever to ensure maximum impact. By matching segments with the appropriate ad types and content, sellers can demonstrate their brand’s relevance and boost omnichannel conversion. Among the best practices:

 

Check landing page speed. One key to driving mobile search ad conversions has nothing to do with the ads themselves. Mobile site speed is crucial to winning conversions, with pages that load in less than 3 seconds earning peak conversion potential, according to the Google/ROI Revolution study  — so merchants should do everything in their power to ensure that paid search ad landing pages not only clearly convey key product information, but are also swift to load on smartphones.

Don’t forget the “phone” part of smartphones. Merchants should take advantage of click-to-call features within paid search ads, and ensure that the numbers listed actually reach live people. Geo-targeting ad content to feature local store phone numbers puts shoppers in touch with merchants’ local representatives, who can help them address questions with store resources in mind.

Geo-target store-related promotions. With mobile commerce conversion rates still lagging mobile browsing and research, merchants would do well to remind searchers of the services and promotions available at nearby outlets. In addition to experimenting with Google’s Local Inventory feature, merchants can promote buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) and other fulfillment services, along with store events.

In addition to geo-targeting, store promotions can also be prioritized for delivery to prior mobile site visitors who left without purchasing — in effect, creating retargeting campaigns letting shoppers know they have alternatives to buying on their phones.

Narrow the field for Google Shopping ads. With competition for popular Shopping ads intensifying, and screen real estate limited on mobile devices, merchants should do their utmost to use these compelling image-and-text ad formats as efficiently as possible. To do so, they should experiment with:

  • Targeting prior buyers. Those already familiar with the brand, who have presumably enjoyed a positive purchase experience, are more likely to act on a Shopping ad alerting them to product availability from a trusted merchant.
  • Showcasing exclusive products. Attempting to compete in the Shopping space for commoditized products is a losing proposition for most merchants, whose paid search budgets are smaller than mass merchants and whose product prices may not compete with big players’ deep discounts. Instead, merchants should shine the Shopping ad spotlight on their unique finds and private-label items. To promote visibility of these items for shoppers not yet familiar with the brand’s niche offerings, merchants should use natural language descriptors in the ad text.
  • Bidding on specific vs. broad search terms. To reach shoppers who are nearing a purchase decision, merchants can throttle their bids to focus on keywords with a higher degree of specificity, such as precise brand or even product names.

Experiment with paid search spend on social platforms. Social networks are overwhelmingly mobile, with close to 80% of time spent on social media occurring on mobile devices, whether through apps or the mobile Web, according to measurement firm comScore. For that reason, merchants should think beyond Google when it comes to making placements, and explore paid search, retargeting, and programmatic ads on platforms such as Facebook and Youtube, where fully 70% of viewership occurs on mobile devices.
How are you optimizing paid search dollars for mobile audiences?

Customer Experience

Three Tips To Provide A Better Customer Experience

It seems that in this era of the savvy, smart shopper, the key way for retailers to differentiate from their competition is to showcase their commitment to customer experience. Consumers want a great experience with a brand or store, and research from Defaqto even highlighted 55% of consumers would pay more for a better customer experience.

With this in mind, here are our considerations on how to achieve the optimal customer experience:

Know Your Audience
Let’s  start with the obvious yet often overlooked: know your target audience.  In order to achieve optimal customer experience you need to know your market and your target audience. For example, a popular beauty retailer recently re-evaluated how their audience wants to connect with them.  Perhaps motivated by some varied profit reports from Ulta Beauty, they are tackling this head-on and investing heavily in their website, mobile platforms, targeted marketing, and a loyalty scheme.

However, they haven’t forgotten that their target market likes to engage in-store to try new products in person or receive instruction or guidance from a store associate. They were able to combine digital and in-store through one omnichannel approach, where a strong online offering has resulted in 62% online growth this quarter. This has been bolstered by an additional 100 stores that not only provide a venue for consumers to come and test products, but somewhere to showcase exclusive lines and provide “a level of customer service that cannot be replicated online”, all of which provide an additional reason to visit, and an overall great customer experience.

Bring Online In Store
Online and offline need to work in tandem to deliver a seamless and enjoyable shopping experience. The majority of shoppers expect instant gratification and want results quickly. These same expectations are present in store and consumers want store associates to be able to help with their enquiry at the drop of a hat. Perhaps surprisingly, we found 74% of consumers expect store associates to access their customer history while shopping in store. Consumers clearly want some element of personalization and understanding.

Customer experience means more than just providing a friendly and helpful service. Consumers expect the right level of technical support around store associates so they can go above and beyond. Retail is almost a victim of its own success, shifting consumer expectations from accepting whatever is in store to comparing it with what has been seen online and at other retailers. To address this, store assistants need the tools to not only check inventory levels across the organization, but potentially price check against the competition so sales can be finalized. We’ve seen some forward thinking retailers bring online in store with tablets or mobile point of sales (mPoS), and 84% of people we surveyed are influenced to purchase when store associates are equipped with them.

Multiple Fulfillment Options
In such a competitive market, customers want what they want, when they want it, and of course they don’t like when an item is out of stock. However, customers have a solution, and that is to go elsewhere. In fact, Deloitte found that 76% would shop from another retail brand if their item was ‘out of stock’.

Customers  also want choice when it comes to fulfillment. More than half (55%) of consumers surveyed in our Consumer Trends Report said they would switch retailers if their preferred fulfillment option isn’t available. And 66% say multiple fulfillment options influences willingness to complete a purchase.

A great example of improving the customer experience with fulfillment is Walmart. Walmart’s Pickup Today function has grown 27% since last year, as the CEO states, “customers’ love being able to order an item with an app and get it that day.” In March they rolled out new capabilities in their app – allowing customers to skip traditional service and use the ‘express lanes’.

The ability to deliver such service relies on the back end order management systems knowing exactly what stock is where and the best way to route it to the customer. Retailers need to think beyond the warehouse, instead utilizing the huge amount of stock they have in store that is far more accessible to customers.
These are just a few considerations for improving customer experience. Although each focus on a different area, the common factor is they all have to work  together in order to create a seamless customer journey. In the short term there will be costs associated with implementing these improvements, but as markets become more competitive and profits become squeezed further, customer experience will become the biggest differentiator.

Four Ways to Think Store First with Mobile

Four Ways To Think “Store First” With Mobile

To no one’s surprise, mobile is merchants’ top priority for 2017 — reflecting the runaway growth of mobile shopping activity. Amidst a bevy of potential priorities, merchants can reap the most benefit from mobile initiatives by adopting a “store-first” mentality that emphasizes connecting shoppers with physical retail outlets.

There’s no doubt that mobile shopping activity is soaring. More than two-thirds of all online shopping activity occurs on mobile devices, and mobile sales are growing exponentially: in the fourth quarter of 2016, for example, year over year mCommerce sales shot up 45% compared with 2015, and accounted for almost 21% of all online sales, according to measurement firm comScore.

Overall, 31% of U.S. consumers now say they’ve made purchases on mobile devices — a 24% increase since 2014, technology researcher Forrester found. It’s not surprising, then, that merchants participating Forrester’s annual retailer survey ranked  mobile at the top of the list of strategic priorities for the fourth year in a row, with an emphasis on achieving ROI through continuing mobile revenue growth.

But while mobile commerce sales are increasing, the $60 billion total is still just 1.3% of all retail sales, and 15% of all online sales. The much larger, if more difficult to measure, benefit of mobile comes from its influences over sales across touchpoints, and especially in stores, which Forrester estimates at more than a trillion dollars — or a whopping 31% of all retail sales and counting.

Given that fully 40% of shoppers now use multiple touchpoints when shopping, mobile’s sphere of influence should come as no surprise – but most merchants’ efforts to use their mobile sites for engagement and research, not just as mini-eCommerce sites, still leave much to be desired.

To encourage shoppers to use mobile devices to connect with physical outlets — and drive physical store sales — merchants should adopt not just a “mobile-first” approach, but a “store-first” mentality within mobile experiences that goes well beyond a store locator to prioritize potential connections to in-person experiences.

In some cases, that may mean building an app that enables immersion in the merchant’s branded experience and facilitates connection to store services. But with or without an app, merchants can go “store-first” by:

  1. Find ways to measure mobile influence, not just sales. Merchants should go beyond tracking mobile sales and conversion rates to capture more ineffable connections, such as usage of in-store wifi, usage of online tools to set in-store appointments, and downloads via store-specific QR codes or other custom URLs. Social media monitoring should include tracking of store check-ins and photos tagged with store locations.
  2. Grant universal inventory visibility to mobile shoppers. By now, the evidence is overwhelming that shoppers desire flexibility when it comes to order fulfillment. More than three quarters of shoppers used “buy online, pick up in store” (BOPIS) services in the past year, Kibo found — and the lack of such inventory transparency can actually hurt sales: 80% of shoppers say they’re less inclined to visit stores without the ability to see whether desired products are in-stock locally. While merchants are increasingly making this information available — some 53% already offer in-store pickup services, according to Kibo’s “In-Store Meets Online” merchant survey — deployment to mobile channels is uneven, with a few hapless merchants even offering BOPIS to shoppers using desktop browsers, but not those accessing mobile Web sites.Kibo merchant Helzberg Diamonds prioritizes connections to physical outlets by offering not only a store pickup option for orders transacted via the mobile Web site, but an appointment feature that allows shoppers leery of buying big-ticket items online (or especially on their phones).
  3. Prioritize product content for researchers. Fully 94% of shoppers now conduct research online prior to a store visitaccording to Kibo’s latest consumer trends report. And given that accessing product information and pricing are the top three research activities shoppers undertake on mobile devices, merchants should spotlight customer reviews, product how-to videos, product comparison tools, and sizing and fit calculators within the mobile environment. By enabling research — regardless of whether shoppers choose totap “buy” on their mobile screens — merchants demonstrate an authentic desire to help shoppers find solutions that fit their needs.
  4. Factor stores into marketing campaigns. When it comes to mobile marketing, store locations should be front and center. Mobile search campaigns should showcase nearby physical outlets, SMS campaigns should be tailored to regional conditions and local outlets, and even email campaigns — two-thirds of which are now opened on mobile devices — can at least include prominent links to storelocators.Kibo merchant Party City routinely includes in email campaigns links to coupons for in-store use alongside online promo codes, as in this recent promotion, which also features a highlighted link to the store locator.

How are you using mobile to connect shoppers with store shopping experiences?

 

10 Mobile Metrics to Track Now Before the Holidays

7 Ways To Measure Omnichannel Performance

When it comes to eCommerce analytics, the buzzwords are by now well-worn. Say a merchant needs to develop a “360-degree view of the customer,” and she’ll likely respond, “Yeah, yeah. Tell me about it!”

As many have discovered, while the goal of understanding consumer behavior across touchpoints is worthwhile, the means to achieve that goal remain elusive. Despite a burgeoning array of big-data tools and social listening platforms feeding ever-more-complex recommendation algorithms, merchants are still struggling to derive the meaningful insights that lead to more satisfactory experiences for shoppers — and, in turn, earn more revenues and loyalty.

In 2016, just 41% of digital marketers participating in an Adobe/eConsultancy survey agreed that they have the staff and technical capabilities in place to collect the right data and put it to good use. And shoppers report that clumsy efforts to wield data erode confidence in merchant brands: 23% of shoppers said they were put off by “incorrect data” in personalized messages, while one in five reported receiving promotions for products they’d already purchased.

And yet, it’s clear that merchants must forge ahead in their quest to better understand shoppers’ needs regardless of where and how brand interactions occur. Shoppers no longer distinguish between siloed channels when searching for products and services online: for example, 43% of consumers say they favor retailers offering consistent service online and offline, and overall, more than half say it’s important for merchants to recognize them across touchpoints and tailor content and offers accordingly.  Merchants must adapt their organizations — and metrics — to match these expectations.

Furthermore, better tracking across touchpoints can help justify investment in online initiatives that don’t necessarily result in direct online sales. After all, fully 51% of all retail sales are set to be influenced by the Web this year — dwarfing the 11.8% of revenues directly generated by online purchases.

For these reasons, merchants would do well to focus performance measurement initiatives on uncovering the metrics that illuminate and quantify the Web’s broad sphere of influence over offline shopping activities. Among the tactics to consider:

 

Scrutinize attribution models closely. It’s tempting to set percentages to apportion credit for online revenues among the marketing touchpoints that preceded a sale as a means of capturing indirect influence — and indeed, such models are an improvement on “last-touch” attribution that credits only the source that directly referred the sale. But modeling is still far from perfect, as biases among target audiences can skew results. Merchants would do well to scrutinize attribution results closely, adjust as necessary, and use the models as just one factor when determining where to invest marketing dollars.

Map and market to store influence zones. Marrying online behavioral data with geographic input relative to store locations has the potential to wield significant insights, as merchants can track usage of features such as “buy online, pick up in-store,” and “reserve online, buy in-store” and determine the size of the zone influenced by store locations as a result.

While it’s tempting to allocate revenue based on this modeling, such an exercise is likely to prove a zero-sum game: after all, just as store outlets deserve credit for handling fulfillment activities for online purchases, the eCommerce site can help spur additional store revenues when shoppers visit to pick up items bought on the Web. Rather than split hairs over which silo gets how many dollars, merchants would do better to use store-zone performance to influence geo-targeted marketing offers and messaging.

Understand in-store usage of online assets. As discussed previously, shoppers rely on their mobile devices to conduct in-store research — so merchants would do well to identify and report on this distinct activity in order to justify investment in technological upgrades such as in-store wi fi, tablet apps for sales associates, informational kiosks, location-specific downloads and coupon offers, and even beacons and geo-fencing tools.

Standardize and measure customer service across touchpoints. Traditional call center metrics must be modernized to account for increasing usage of live chat and social media for customer service, so that successful practices can be identified and shared across the organization. Usage of self-service customer service tools, such as FAQs and Q and A features, should also be factored in.

Recognize loyalists and advocates. To uncover usage patterns among repeat customers — and encourage more buyers to return — merchants should track redemption of loyalty points or perks online versus offline and on mobile devices. Similarly, referral programs that reward (and track) both the referrer and the recipient of the referral can help merchants identify and serve segments of customers who deserve tailored VIP treatment.

Invest in identity matching tools and test continually.  While the much-vaunted “360-degree view of the customer” remains elusive, merchants should do their utmost to unite disparate data sets and stay at the vanguard of innovation when it comes to identity matching. Continual testing, analysis, and adjustment to third-party tools will help put the holy grail within reach.

Add omnichannel metrics to routine analytics reporting. If they haven’t already, merchants should expand their performance dashboard to include metrics that go well beyond conversion rate and revenue. Among the data points that should be collected and segmented by screen size and location:

  • Use of inventory lookup via the eCommerce/mCommerce site and app
  • Use of “buy online, pick-up in store” and other in-store fulfillment options
  • Online registrations for in-store events, personal shopper appointments, and the like
  • Browsing, cart additions, and purchases occurring within store locations
  • Online orders placed via employee point-of-sale apps or tool in stores
  • Use of the “save cart” feature to move between digital touchpoints
  • Use of the “print cart” feature
  • Use of “like” and “share” buttons from product pages
  • Email signups from the Web site, social media, and app
  • Mobile app downloads
  • Usage of stored payment data within apps or the mobile site
  • Usage of alternative payment methods

 

How are you measuring performance to reflect today’s omnichannel reality?

 

Does Your Mobile Commerce Strategy Demand an App?

It goes almost without saying that the mobile commerce revolution is underway. Billions of smartphones connect users to exactly what they want instantly. Many would argue we are post revolution and just living in the new reality of mobile.

The growth of mobile is powered in part by the highly contextual nature of the smartphone. Many in the space refer to these interactions as ‘mobile moments.’ These quick encounters with the smartphone add value to everyday interactions. This behavior can be leveraged by retailers if they are ready with the right apps and mobile optimized sites.

How does a retailer make sure their mobile strategy hits the right chord with customers?

The first thing to understand is that there are varying degrees of mobile strategy and the strategy selected depends on the customer base.

Here are the options:

  1. Just use a mobile site: Don’t bother with an app. This option is great for retailers who’s users aren’t inclined to use an app or they don’t see the value-add of keeping and using an app on their mobile device. As long as sites are responsive, this is the easiest of the options.
  2. Recreate the mobile site in an app: This is probably the most common type of app out there, but the value-add is unclear. Consumers see right through a mirror copy of the mobile site. With space at a premium on mobile devices, each app has to earn its place.
  3. Create a new app experience: The most potentially rewarding, but also the most technically demanding and difficult to implement. This is a great option for retailers who want to really engage their customers and give them a great brand experience, typically by offering a service not found on the mobile site.

While mulling over the options, consider this advice: CEO and co-founder of mobile agency 64 Labs, John Duncan, advocates for a hybrid approach of Nos. 2 and 3 that allows retailers and branded manufacturers to use elements of the website where appropriate, but also offer the unique things an app can do. This avoids reinventing the wheel but also delivers app-specific benefits.

And what are the benefits of a mobile app anyway?

The true power of the phone is its ecosystem, as explained below:

  • Social apps: Customers are very likely to be already logged into social apps such as Instagram or Facebook on their phones. With one tap, they can share items from an app, whereas there may be multiple steps in mobile web or desktop environments.
  • Mobile wallets: Integrating mobile wallets lowers transactional friction, as customers don’t have to reach for their credit card to make a purchase. Also, integration is less of a technical hurdle because of its native functionality.
  • Location services: For omnichannel retailers, location awareness can add context to in-app interactions. Think of the power of an app interaction that knows your customer is in one of your stores. It can also be a powerful tool for engagement when combined with push notifications to create beacons.

At the end of the day, the most important part of an app strategy is knowing the customer base, the same as the retail core competency. If an app is right for the users it can be a rewarding venture. These loyal customers are the greatest advocates, and should be used to iterate on your app and make it better.

Making design and development choices that make an app easier to maintain should also be a consideration. Apparel retailer Bluefly chose Kibo’s native mobile app for their app experience because they could change the content in the app using the same CMS as the rest of their site.

Finally, an app is a long-term commitment. Duncan notes, “Having an app is like having a pet. You can’t get one and forget about it.”

What do you think? App or no app for your business?

[Infographic] How Mobile is Transforming the Retail Landscape

How Do Your Cyber Week Numbers Compare to Kibo Customers’ Numbers?

The initial numbers for Kibo’s omnichannel retailers and branded manufacturers have been reported and, similar to last year, Kibo clients are performing above the industry average. Black Friday sales, year-over-year, show the industry average up 11.4 percent, while Kibo clients are up 14 percent. And like the industry at large, Kibo customers saw a huge increase in purchases and traffic over mobile devices (both smartphones and tablets).

Mobile Cyber Week Success:

It’s no surprise to find that more and more consumers are using some type of mobile device to make Cyber Week purchases. Leading up to Thanksgiving, industry influencers were forecasting strong mobile use, and they were right. According to Amazon, Thanksgiving has now become one of the busiest mobile shopping days on the retailer’s site in the U.S.

For Kibo clients, 58 percent of transactions took place on mobile devices this Black Friday, compared to the industry average of 40 percent. Additionally, if you compare this year’s Black Friday mobile percentage to last years, you’ll discover that Kibo retailers and manufacturers are up 8 percent. Cyber Monday also made a good showing for mobile use, with Kibo clients reporting that 42 percent of transactions occurred on mobile, compared to the industry average of 35 percent.

Overall, Cyber Monday saw about $3.3.9 billion spent online, setting a record for the largest day in U.S. eCommerce history. Kibo clients definitely saw that windfall, with Average Order Values (AOV) coming in at $173 on Cyber Monday, compared to the industry average of $139.

Congratulations to all Kibo customers on a great Cyber Week!