Online Retail Today
4 Reasons Retailers Should Ship-from-Store

4 Reasons Retailers Should Ship-from-Store

Welcome to swimsuit season! Swimsuits are flying off shelves to adorn hard bodies at an alarming rate. That is, until fall fashion rolls in. That’s when swimsuit prices are slashed and swimsuits are relegated to dangle on a haphazard clearance rack. But what about the stores in the land of eternal summers and severe droughts aka California? Their stores have high demand and thus nothing in stock, and the stores in the north have way too many end of season swimsuits. This is the continual, inevitable, retail cycle. This, in conjunction with online competition, has retailers trying to figure out their next move.

Ship-from-store allows online orders to be fulfilled from a physical retail store. Like those northern stores with all those swimsuits. A good order management system will allow you to customize the routing of an order based on specific parameters which will assign it to the optimal location for fulfillment. Parameters such as inventory availability.

Ship-from-store allows you to reduce cart abandonment, move stale inventory, reduce costs, and deliver on customer expectations.

 

1. Reduce cart abandonment

A shopper is more likely to find the item they want when all available inventory across the entire company is made available online. This helps to avoid purchase abandonment. According to Forrester Research, “Our interviews with retailers revealed that when online stores are able to sell both store and online inventory, a profound uplift in online revenue in the region of 10% to 30% can be achieved.”1

Not only does ship-from-store reduce online shopping cart abandonment, but it will also reduce in-store sales loss. If a customer walks into a store and the inventory is low or out of stock, a store associate can route the desired item from a different location to fulfill the order.

 

2. Move stale inventory from stores and decrease markdowns

Reduce end of season markdowns by fulfilling online orders from stores with the slowest moving inventory. Instead of discounting end of season inventory like those swimsuits, use ship-from-store. According to Forrester Research, “One retailer we spoke to reported a 30% improvement in in-store inventory margins after optimizing its ship-from-store program to avoid markdown situations.”1

Also, returned items that are no longer in season won’t have to be in an automatic markdown situation. That item can be sold online, and the store that has the item will fulfill the order.

 

3. Reduce Costs

Reduce carrying costs when you fulfill and ship online orders with items sitting on your shelves. This increases inventory turns, and as a bonus gives retailers a better idea of the items they want to sell in their stores. During seasonal peaks when retailers would need more people to fulfill online orders at a distribution center, retailers that utilize ship-from-store have the opportunity to save costs on temporary workers by spreading that workload out to the retail locations.

Additionally, an order can be routed from the store closest to the consumer, saving on shipping costs. In a report done by Forrester Research, they say, “Retailers with an operational ship-from-store program have the opportunity to ship locally from a store in geographic proximity to the customer’s delivery address….Consider that the standard cost of shipping a one-pound package via UPS ground from New York State to California is $7.71, versus $6.24 for shipping the same package within California.”1 This is convenient for either party who may be paying the shipping.

 

4. Deliver Superior Customer Satisfaction

Ship-from-store opens up a wider range of inventory. When an online customer can’t see store inventory, they don’t have a full view of the items available for purchase. As a result, you might have an avoidable out-of-stock scenario where the item might not be available in a distribution center or warehouse, but is available in retail stores. This could lead to a disappointed customer who will leave a retailer’s website and go search elsewhere on a competitor, like Amazon.

The current ways of buying and selling need to change. Customers demand more, and retailers want to give more while also succeeding and surpassing business and customer expectations. Ship-from-store is quick to implement and easy to use. Ship-from-store can be the tool that will improve sales, build greater customer satisfaction, and even change the way you look at end of season swimsuits.

 

Consider this information from Macy’s: The number of Macy’s stores doing ship-from-store grew from 23 to nearly 300 in 2012, with 200 more planned for 2013. Macy’s made plans to ditch distribution centers and instead implement ship-from-store fulfillment. Terry Lundgren, CEO of Macy’s explained, “We’re no longer going to need fulfillment centers anymore. We’ve got 800 of them, and they’re called Macy’s stores.” Innovators like Macy’s chose to turn their stores into assets by utilizing ship-from-store.

 

Contact us today to find out how you can easily implement ship-from-store.

 

  1. Why Every Online Retailer Should “Ship from Store”, Forrester Research, Inc., May 1, 2014.

New Research: The 2017 Consumer Trends Report

Kibo is pleased to share our newest research on consumer desires and expectations. As a follow up to our consumer trends report from last year, the 2017 edition sheds more light on the customer and helps demystify the kind of technology needed to provide shoppers with the experiences they want.

Kibo’s Consumer Trends Report, 2017 Edition
Many organizations have omnichannel plans or implementations in progress, and this year’s report explores the pulse on consumer trends to help business decision-makers determine and understand how to best move forward with omnichannel initiatives as they head into 2017. Most specifically, this year’s survey revealed the following:

  • 94% of consumers do research online before visiting a store
  • 81% of consumers said they have looked up inventory on a retailer’s website before visiting the store and 80% are less inclined to visit a store if a website does not provide current product availability
  • 92% of consumers reported interactive content influences them to make a purchase. In the past six months, 93% of consumers have reviewed product ratings before purchasing an item

What is the number one factor influencing purchasing?
Between choice of payment, brand of website retailer, brand of product, online shopping experience, speed of delivery, range of delivery options, and price, 70 percent of consumers said price is the most important factor when making purchases online. Product brand is the second most important factor— influencing 12 percent of consumers—and retailer brand the third most important factor at six percent. The results this year are quite similar to last year when looking for the number one factor influencing purchasing. Price is the clear winner for two years in a row, showing a trend in the direction of price over loyalty.

While price is the number one factor in the above options influencing purchasing, our research discovered other factors that influence a customer on their path to purchase. In the 2017 Consumer Trends Report, learn more about the importance product reviews, personalization, and simplified shopping carts play in the buyer’s journey.

Finally, many in the industry are accepting the importance of a cohesive online and eCommerce strategy that drives consistent experiences for their customer (as evidenced by the first two stats of this blog). This report’s recent results point to the desirability of a unified omnichannel shopping journey giving equal importance to both. The report goes into detail about how the consumer is using omnichannel in store, their fulfillment expectations, and their reasons for using Buy Online, Pick-Up In Store.

As consumer behaviors, expectations, and demands continue to rise, the retailers and manufacturers equipped with the latest data will stand to win in the new year. Gain full access to all the research by downloading the report here.

Using Texts to Optimize eCommerce Mobile Messaging in 2017

For most merchants, mobile is no longer merely a priority topping a project list — it’s an essential component of their overall growth strategy. As they heed the imperative to innovate, merchants shouldn’t overlook a commonplace, but potentially effective, eCommerce mobile communications channel: SMS (or text) messaging.

Mobile’s dominance of online shopping is by now evident. Not only does mobile account for the majority of time spent interacting with retail brands, but mobile phone shopping is the leading driver of online-influenced store sales, accounting for some $1 trillion in revenues in 2015. And by some estimates, in just two years the majority of all Web traffic globally will originate on mobile devices — meaning that merchants who haven’t adopted “mobile first” as their guiding principle will struggle to remain competitive.

As a result, when merchants were asked to name their top priorities for 2016, mobile topped the list, as merchants scramble to stay ahead of consumer expectations for seamless experiences wherever and however they choose to shop.

Amidst the rush to innovate, it’s easy to forget about text messaging, that most basic of mobile tools, which predates smartphones. But while it may not be flashy, text messaging is ubiquitous; some 96 percent of smartphone owners use it. And users not only read text messages, but engage further:  57 percent of consumers report taking action directly after reading a text message – making it a potentially effective channel for driving interactions with merchant brands.

Perhaps in response to this potential for immediacy and engagement, merchants are awakening to the SMS messaging opportunity. Some 51 percent of marketers report using mobile text messaging in 2016 — more than double the percentage in 2015.

Holdouts may be stymied by the high threshold of relevance needed in order to justify the immediacy and potential intrusiveness of a text message. Some 24 percent of consumers who unsubscribed from mobile messaging alerts said they did so because message content missed the mark, while another 52 percent said messages were too frequent, another sign that SMS campaigns are mis-aligned with recipients’ needs.

The good news is that merchants can hone their SMS priorities for maximum relevance, even if they haven’t achieved the holy grail of a unified omnichannel customer profile or instituted beacons or geofencing in stores. To develop an effective eCommerce mobile messaging program, merchants should consider:

Focusing on customer service first and foremost
In the past 12 months, 35 percent of consumers have used SMS for customer service — more than have used Twitter for that purpose. Merchants who offer customer service-related text notifications such as shipping updates, back-in-stock alerts, and in-store pickup instructions are delivering highly pertinent information in a portable format that shoppers can use immediately or summon when needed. And customer service by text can go beyond automated triggers; one-to-one text dialogues can help merchants stay connected with shoppers anywhere until issues are resolved, demonstrating a commitment to follow-through.

Promote localized deals to in-store shoppers
Given that more than two-thirds of smartphone owners report using their devices to look for coupons and 60 percent conduct research on their phones while in stores, merchants should use prominent store signage to promote on-demand messaging that delivers the latest store specials and coupons. Ace Hardware advertises its in-store SMS coupon service with end cap displays and point-of-sale signage.

This messaging tactic puts shoppers in control of whether to receive store-specific information, thereby eliminating the “creepy” factor from location-based alerts. As part of the triggered message, merchants can seek permission to subscribe shoppers to ongoing SMS updates.

Coordinate and standardize messaging across SMS, apps, and social
Thanks to the proliferation of direct-messaging tools built into social platforms such as Facebook, as well as newer social messaging networks such as WhatsApp and Snapchat, there are more avenues than ever for merchants to deliver direct text messages. However many messaging channels merchants use, they must strike a balance: avoid blizzarding shoppers with multiple duplicate notifications, while at the same time ensure that messages across touchpoints are consistent in tone and content. For example, staff providing support via SMS should follow the same protocols as those responding to social media direct messages, with the same access to information and the same latitude when it comes to offering discounts or free shipping.

What eCommerce mobile messaging or SMS strategies have proved most effective for your business?

8 Tips For Mobile eCommerce Email Success

That eCommerce emails must be “mobile-first” is now accepted best practice — but with the array of devices on the market, it can be hard to know what formats and content are most appropriate for mobile consumption. With the season of stepped-up email cadence fast approaching, merchants should ensure that their emails meet all the criteria for mobile effectiveness and eCommerce email success.

With fully 54 percent of all email messages being read on mobile devices, there’s little question about the importance of optimizing for mobile. What’s perhaps more surprising is how harshly consumers punish sellers whose offerings aren’t mobile-friendly. Forty-five percent of shoppers report unsubscribing if emails or eCommerce website content didn’t render on their devices and more crucially, more than a third of shoppers have marked email as spam when it didn’t work on their mobile devices, a move that potentially endangers deliverability across the board.

Given how much is at stake for merchants, it’s crucial to deliver email messages that not only meet expectations for formatting, but present content and offers that are compelling and appeal to mobile shoppers. To win opens, clicks, and sales, merchants should:

Adopt usability best practices.  

  • Optimize the email subject line for mobile and use pre-header text. Ensure that mobile users scanning their inboxes can get the gist of your messages by placing critical text in the first 30 characters of the subject line. In addition, use pre-header text so that the first-line preview of message content that’s displayed in the inbox displays pertinent content, not global header information.
  • Buttons and calls-to-action sized for clumsy fingers. Giving shoppers adequate white space around calls-to-action that are at least 44px tall and wide is imperative to prevent launching the wrong content and frustrating shoppers.
  • Activate click-to-call for any and all phone numbers. Ensure that shoppers who actually want to use their mobile devices to make a call to a local store outlet or customer service center can do so seamlessly. Providing click-to-chat links, including for Facebook Messenger for Business, provides another easy way for email recipients to reach one-on-one help easily.

Entice mobile engagement with the right content.

  • Design image-rich campaigns. Even as merchants must keep email load times down, they should endeavor to put mobile-appropriate images front and center, as the color and content of eye-catching photos can do much to engage mobile email skimmers.  Merchants should also experiment with in-email video as up to 45 percent of video views occur on mobile devicesKibo merchant Intermix provides a mix of on-model and product shots in mobile email campaigns, with a magazine-style format that features plenty of white space to make the curated selection stand out.
  • Feature social media in content, not just in buttons. Social media is now “mobile-first,” with the majority of social users logging into their networks of choice via mobile devices — often several times per day. Merchants should tap this activity by not only encouraging shoppers to connect with their branded social outposts, but by using social content to populate email campaigns.
  • Put the emphasis on distinct product features and information. Since mobile shoppers conduct research on the go, merchants should be sure to provide them with the fodder they seek. Email campaigns should feature links to in-depth product information, comparison tools, and, for the holidays, expert gift guidance, and should call out unique product attributes within the email content, as this message from Kibo merchant G.H. Bass does. The image calls attention to craftsmanship, while the accompanying text highlights the benefits of choosing hand-sewn products.
  • Integrate physical store promotions and information. The impact of mobile research on store shopping is indisputable: some 50 percent of those who search for local shopping information go on to visit a store within a day, and nearly 1 in 5 of those make a purchase. Merchants should do more than link to a store locator in email promotions, and rather fully integrate in-store offers and events with online links to convince shoppers that they’ll receive consistent access to products, services, and discounts wherever they choose to shop.

How are you optimizing email campaigns for mobile users?

Social Media Basics

Checklist: Before Snapchat, Master These 3 Social Media Basics

With the holidays fast approaching, merchants are scrambling to formulate the strategies that will engage shoppers amidst heavy competition. Social media offers plenty of shiny new opportunities — but for maximum effectiveness, merchants would do well to cover established best practices and social media basics first.

There’s a reason that merchants persist with social media, despite its oft-bemoaned lack of direct revenue generation: social networking audiences are huge, growing, and constantly engaged. Two-thirds of U.S. online adults now use social media, and thanks to mobile devices, they check their favored networks frequently: some 45 percent of Facebook users visit several times a day, as do a third of Instagram users and more than 20 percent of Twitter users.

Given the audience and the frequency of engagement, it’s no surprise that merchants find social media a worthy investment, even though immediate clicks on the “buy” button are still rare. Merchants report spending some one in 10 digital marketing dollars on social efforts, and those investments pay off.  Close to 80 percent of consumers globally report being influenced by social media when it comes to purchase decisions, according to consulting firm PwC, with more than 40 percent saying that reviews and comments and promotional offers factor into their buying patterns. And the majority of those who’ve interacted with merchant brands on social media report being favorably influenced by the experience.

With so much influence at stake, it’s understandable for merchants to be tempted by new social networks and the potential new audiences they represent. Cresting the waves of social media popularity are social media messaging services such as WhatsApp and Kik, the image-messaging service SnapChat, and streaming video apps such as Periscope for Twitter and Facebook Live; all these services and apps have experienced phenomenal growth since their launches, and especially among the coveted younger demographic.

But for most merchants, these new social mediums represent significant potential investments for as-yet-undefined rewards. Especially for those still struggling to justify social media investments, experimenting with new formats shouldn’t be a top priority. More than a decade has passed since Facebook first launched, and before they branch out into the great unknown, merchants should follow what are by now established best practices for eCommerce sellers on social media. Among them:

No. 1: Optimize paid Facebook plays. It may be considered staid at this point, but Facebook still has overwhelming appeal among all demographic groups. Fully 84 percent of younger consumers aged 18 to 29 use Facebook — more than the 71 percent average for the entire U.S. online population — and unlike newer social phenomena, the site also attracts more than half of all online consumers aged 65 and up. For that reason, merchants should ignore Facebook at their peril.

At the same time, Facebook is notorious for tweaking its news feed algorithms to favor personal relevance versus commercial content — so it’s worthwhile to invest in paid placements to supplement the “organic” exposure gained through the news feed. Among the opportunities to explore:

  • Remarketing items browsed but not bought
  • Carousel product ads showcasing the breadth of the merchant’s product offering
  • Geo-targeted ads for in-store promotions
  • “Buy” buttons for popular and top-rated items

No. 2: Let shoppers tell the story. Social media is said to put shoppers in control by giving them the power to comment, like, and share — but many merchants don’t capitalize on this potential asset. Instead, many sellers’ social content feeds are still one-way conversations that do little to showcase their audience or followers.

For starts, merchants should fully equip shoppers to promote products and content with ubiquitous sharing tools, especially on mobile devices, where social networking activity is most prevalent. Through users, merchants can gain visibility even on social networks where they don’t have official branded outposts — which can also be a useful way of discovering which new networks are popular with potential customers.

Merchants should also showcase how shoppers influence their brands, from user-generated content contests to hashtag campaigns to email and website promotions that quote customer reviews and other contributions.

Kibo merchant Gund has connected social promotion with charitable giving, a potentially potent combination. Gund donates stuffed animals to charitable organizations based on how many “hugs” campaign participants earn through liking and creating social content. The campaign is featured on the Gund homepage as well as on social media.

No. 3: Extend stellar, one-to-one service. As we’ve written recently, some two-thirds of consumers have used social media for customer service, and expectations are high for speedy and effective responses. Merchants should ensure that they’ve covered the customer service bases by setting the parameters for service hours and response times, and then exceeding those standards with personal service that goes well beyond the canned response.

In particular, merchants should explore Facebook’s private-messaging option as a way to deliver instant, personal, and one-to-one service using an app many shoppers already have installed on their phones. If they opt to use Messenger, merchants should optimize it with auto-responses that help set expectations for service speed, as well as take advantage of location services that connect shoppers with the nearest physical outlet.

How are you making the most of social media heading into the holidays?

Personalization Technologies

Creepy or Cool? Three Ways to Honor eCommerce Privacy While Delivering Relevance

As personalization technologies become more pervasive, the line that divides creepy from cool is difficult to discern. But as merchants gear up to experiment with new tactics for the holidays, they must strive to stay on the right side of that eCommerce privacy line, or risk repercussions that last into 2017 and beyond.

Shoppers’ attitudes toward personalization and privacy have always been contradictory. Expectations for relevance are high — more than half expect to be recognized across touchpoints with personalized messages and more than a third say they’re frustrated when past interactions with merchants aren’t factored into marketing messages. But at the same time, 41 percent say that no incentive would motivate them to sacrifice their personal information, and more than a quarter have used ad blockers or “do not track” browser settings to avoid marketing messages.

To navigate this conundrum, merchants must wield their personalization powers with nuance and transparency. A flexible eCommerce platform that enables custom privacy messaging and the ability to adapt signup, opt-out, and checkout routines to prevailing best practices is the foundation on which merchants can build shopping experiences that tailor to shoppers, without raising the red flags that signal privacy invasion. A few guidelines:

 

The red flag: Unrelated offers from unfamiliar brands
The solution: Pledging —  and keeping —  strict data control

Whether the perception is accurate or not, consumers believe that consenting to share some information leads to a flood of spam offers from merchants they don’t know for products they don’t need. When Pew Research asked whether a shopper would sign up for a retail loyalty program that tracked purchases and shared data with third parties in exchange for discount offers, 47 percent of consumers said such a tradeoff was acceptable —  but voiced concerns primarily about the “third party.” As one participant put it:

Sharing it with a third party generally indicates that you will be inundated with unwelcome email offers and you may even get unwanted calls.”

To combat this concern, merchants should keep their data to themselves and avoid using rented or other third-party lists. Data practices should be communicated transparently and prominently at multiple points of engagement and information exchange across screens and touchpoints.Armani Exchange IRCE 2016

Kibo merchant Armani Exchange limits its email signup window to a single required field and includes an explanation that data will be used solely to send email newsletters. The text also notes that information will be kept safe and secure. Shoppers can optionally personalize messages by selecting their gender, but no further demographic information is collected.

 

The red flag: Unreasonably persistent messaging
The solution: Timely data hygiene

While shoppers may consent to limited-time offers from merchants, their signup doesn’t signal carte blanche to message them in perpetuity on every available touchpoint. Merchants should keep the timeframe short for winnowing lists and dialing down the cadence of marketing alerts. Among the techniques:

  • After the holidays, give shoppers easy access to opt-down and other account preference tools. Gift seekers who may have signed on for one particular promotion may or may not want to stick around for year-round offers, so by all means entice them to stay on the list, but make sure they can control their data destiny.
  • Limit the scope and duration of retargeting campaigns. Ads promoting products consumers have perused without purchasing are among the techniques consumers perceive as ultra-creepy —  especially when those offers follow them endlessly from site to site. Merchants should keep a close eye on the frequency and timing of these offers and set a maximum number of ad exposures to avoid oversaturation.

 

The red flag: Getting too personal too soon
The solution: Let shoppers set the pace

While shoppers expect to receive relevant offers, they’re wary when personalization leads to over-familiarity they didn’t invite. Promotions based on aggregate data or browsing behavior is one thing; offers that suggest merchants have insight into personal information unrelated to shopping activity is another. Merchants should not only collect only the information they need and seek consent to do so, but they should give shoppers the ability to tap personalized offers at their own pace. To do so:

  • Use in-store beacons to deliver discounts, not stalk shoppers. Beacons that detect when shoppers are in stores can help merchants deliver offers that are geographically relevant and timely —  functionality 40 percent of consumers would welcome. But for two-thirds of shoppers, using that same technology to send a store associate to hail them by name would cross the line.
  • Over-communicate the basis for recommendations. Using aggregate customer reviews to create categories of top-rated items and displaying cross-sells based on what others who viewed the product also bought (a la Amazon) are ways to tap shoppers’ behavior without setting off over-familiarity red flags. And merchants can present individualized recommendations by clearly labeling how those products were selected — for example, “based on your recent purchases,” “based on what you’ve browsed, we thought you’d like these” and so on.

How do you avoid creeping customers out while delivering relevant offers?

pop-up stores

A Guide to Starting Your First Pop-Up Store

Pop-up stores are a decades-old concept. Previously confined to the role of a seasonal store, today’s new breed of pop-up retail opens a new channel for brand manufacturers and retailers to get creative, innovate, and define their customer relationships.

Just as the food truck craze has changed the way people experience new foods, pop-up stores — whether standalone, store-within-a-store or motorized (think fashion stores on wheels) — provide merchants an opportunity to impress consumers with a unique shopping experience differentiated from online or traditional retail environments. Pop-up stores can be a low risk, low cost entry into a market, or serve as a cost efficient testing ground or go to market strategy for new products.

In addition to fostering unique shopping experiences, pop-up stores can also be very profitable (worth an estimated $50 billion annually in the USA), making them an important part of a savvy retailer’s overall strategy. According to Storefront, pop-up stores can be 80 percent less expensive than opening a traditional storefront location.

Launching Your First Pop-Up Store:
There is no one-size-fits-all design when it comes to pop-ups because the key factor for success is the individual way you let your brand speak to consumers through your creativity. Your pop-up model will be driven by your brand, and a copycat model will be quickly noticed by consumers. While each pop-up model model is unique, when strategizing your first pop-up retail initiative, Kibo recommends you consider the suggestions in these four stages:

Stage 1: Planning
When planning your pop-up campaign, consider your customer base, your relationship with them, and the main goals of launching the store. If your aim is to promote a new product launch, nurture customer relationships, or simply sell product at an event, the pop-up model you choose must resonate with your customers and create an environment that encapsulates your core brand values.

Stage 2: Choose Your Location Wisely
Just as merchants are intimately knowledgeable of their customer demographic and how to best find them on the web, so too should your pop-up be placed where your prospective customers will likely visit. If you’re selling clothing to Millennials, you’re likely going to locate on or near the high street, and if you sell automotive or motorsports products, you will want to set up at a racetrack or car show.

Stage 3: Get the Word Out
Marketing your pop-up can be as innovative as the space itself. Social media can be a powerful driver for your temporary store, and the word of mouth environment adds to the urgency and exclusivity. If you can engage with influencers to promote the event or pop-up, this can help generate buzz. Additionally, cross promoting with other non-competing brands can be a clever strategy to facilitate communication about your temporary space.

Stage 4: Deliver on the Promise
Pop-up stores are like an open house for a brand. You should be welcoming customers with open arms in an effort to cultivate powerful brand loyalty. To create a successful pop-up experience, keep a focus on creating a connection with your customers. After all, they have made the decision to visit your store because they expect something unique – don’t disappoint them. Today’s shoppers are savvy to tired marketing efforts and want to feel a part of something special. Remember that expectations are high, so you must deliver on the promise, or risk losing your customers.

Some Questions to Ask When Starting Your First Pop-Up

  • What time of the year is best suited for my pop-up? Do I offer seasonal products that might benefit from a pop-up experience?
  • How long should my pop-up store last? Some stores are open for three days, others for three weeks or three months.
  • What are my potential location options?
  • What is my optimal store design layout?
  • What merchandise and products should be featured in the pop-up? Exclusive offerings? New product launches?
  • What technology will I need to operate my pop-up store? Do I need a checkout or will a mobile, tablet-based POS allow for a better experience? Does my technology offer endless aisle functionality, helping me maximize inventory space in the pop-up?
  • How do pop-up stores fit into my overall omnichannel strategy?
  • Pre-promotions: Can I leverage celebrities or other influencers on social media to drive traffic to the pop-up store? Do I have a marketing campaign in place to provide the initial traction needed?
  • During event promotion: Am I encouraging customers to share the experience by providing social media campaigns/competitions and hashtags?

Once at the pop-up, it’s up to you to welcome your customer into your space and capitalize on the opportunity to impress and build loyalty. With the right technology in place, such as a Cloud-based mobile POS complete with endless aisle capabilities, merchants can maximize every square foot and provide a full product selection to shoppers, creating a memorable shopping experience.

Pop-up stores are a unique channel to improve your reach and differentiate your brand from the competition. With the right use of creativity and leveraging the latest technologies, pop-up stores can set your brand apart.

Three B2B Email Strategies to Drive Engagement, Sales and Loyalty

Three B2B Email Strategies to Drive Engagement, Sales, and Loyalty

B2B merchants are increasingly borrowing B2C strategies to grow their online businesses—and they should follow suit when it comes to their B2B email campaigns. By delivering messages relevant to the individual and the stage of the customer lifecycle, B2B merchants can win sales and earn lasting loyalty.

B2C is influencing the world of B2B with good reason: a quarter of B2B vendors currently conduct more than half of their sales online, and fully 52 percent of those vendors believe they’ll do so within three years. As more B2B buyers turn to the Web to research products and services and conduct transactions, expectations for B2C-like features and functionality are growing — and that includes a desire to view merchant offerings through a personalized lens. More than half of consumers say they expect brands to recognize them across touchpoints, from the store to the mobile device to the eCommerce site and back again, and say they buy more from merchants whose offers take into account past purchases and interactions (both online and offline).

The personalization mandate is even stronger when it comes to email and mobile messaging. To stand out in corporate buyers’ crowded inboxes, B2B suppliers must move beyond “batch and blast” techniques and generic top-of-funnel messaging to present unique and compelling offers for every stage of the customer lifecycle. B2B merchants should consider:

Compelling and seamless on-ramps for first-time browsers. With more than half of B2B buyers saying they prefer to conduct research about corporate purchases online, B2B merchants have a ripe opportunity to entice these browsers to engage more fully via email or mobile messaging updates. But this opportunity is often squandered by the temptation to move into “lead gen” mode, overwhelming potential customers with lengthy signup or registration forms before the brand’s relevance has even been demonstrated. More than two-thirds of B2B buyers say excessive form field requirements are a deterrent to requesting further information, with close to 60 percent saying both phone number and postal address are irrelevant for at least initial signups.

Instead, B2B merchants should take a page from B2C eCommerce leaders and streamline the signup process, while highlighting the unique benefits or access accorded to subscribers. Kibo merchant O’Reilly, a publisher serving both B2C and B2B customers, greets new website browsers with a signup offer in a lightbox window that highlights the company’s popular “Deal of the Day” offers. One-step signup forms are also available from the right-hand column of the home page. And those who go on to register with the website are offered a bevy of convenient options, from a simple email/password account creation routine to the ability to use an array of social login tools.

    

Timely check-ins during a long consideration phase. While ordering office supplies might not require a huge amount of planning prior to making purchases, a number of B2B products and services have higher price tags that demand more research, comparison, budgeting, and internal buy-in before corporate purchasing agents can click the “buy” button. To stay in touch with these potential customers during a long consideration phase, B2B merchants should message them with relevant periodic updates and check in as to their continuing interest. Message topics could include:

  • Price drops or special offers related to products under consideration
  • New awards or industry reviews of products or services under consideration
  • New updates or enhancements available
  • Information about technical or other product support, including customer testimonials or reviews that praise the company’s customer service
  • New content—including product comparison tools, videos, or buyer’s guides—to help B2B buyers make purchase decisions

Editing tool Grammarly entices users of its free service to upgrade with a discount offer coupled with social proof – a compelling combination.

Robust post-purchase support options.  While more than 90 percent of B2B buyers say they want to complete purchases online independently, two thirds say they’d like help if products require installation or servicesignalling an opportunity for B2B merchants to step up messaging and outreach once B2B shoppers have become buyers. In addition to developing robust transactional email messaging in the immediate post-purchase period, B2B suppliers should extend invitations to user or customer communities, remind customers about their options for connecting with live help, and send reminders when updates or maintenance are required.

Computer manufacturer Lenovo delivers a comprehensive array of post-purchase options to customers who have registered their new products. The email message contains links to live help as well as social media channels, and includes purchase options from service upgrades to accessories.

How is your B2B business delivering relevant messaging to prospects and customers?

10 Mobile Metrics to Track Now Before the Holidays

10 Mobile Metrics to Track Now Before the Holidays

Mobile devices have reshaped the shopping landscape. But despite impressive growth, mobile revenues still account for only a small percentage of online sales, and a minute slice of the overall retail sales pie. Merchants seeking to quantify the true impact of mobile commerce — and justify ongoing investment — must dig deeper to establish the right metrics for success.

By now, merchants are well aware that mobile commerce should be a central component of their online strategy. Two-thirds of the total time spent with brands online is via mobile devices, and revenue from smartphones grew a whopping 53 percent from 2014 to 2015.

But with mobile revenues continuing to lag mobile visits by a significant margin — some 44 percent of traffic comes from mobile devices, compared with 31 percent of revenues — and with those revenues contributing a minuscule amount to the overall company bottom line, merchants must find more ways to measure mobile impact.

So far, the 62 percent of retail merchants who say they’ve established mobile measurement of any kind have stuck to tried-and-true methods: 92 percent of those with established mobile KPIs report using “engagement” metrics such as traffic, and 77 percent track revenue metrics such as sales and conversion, but less than half use metrics to measure total business impact.

The imperative to identify and track key benchmarks is even more urgent now, as the calendar moves into the second half of the year and merchants finalize their plans for the all-important holiday season, when mobile is poised to play a pivotal role. In 2015, for example, mobile traffic topped desktop/laptop traffic to eCommerce sites on Black Friday.

To establish a solid baseline before the holidays, merchants should consider the following metrics to capture a fuller picture of total mobile impact on their businesses:

Site and Social Content

  • Mobile on-site search usage. Mobile users are by and large task oriented, so measuring how well on-site search serves their needs is crucial.  
  • Video watch time and conversion on mobile. The majority of product videos in Q4 of 2015 were viewed on mobile devices, so merchants should monitor what duration of videos mobile shoppers watch and whether they’re convinced to add to cart, share, or save items afterward.
  • Use of social sharing tools from mobile devices. Social network audiences are predominantly mobile, so merchants should not only make it possible for mobile users to like, pin and tweet about products, but should monitor usage of those tools.

 

Offline/Online Interaction

  • Conversion and fallout for site-to-store options. Merchants should apply the same analytical techniques they use for the cart and checkout to options that route shoppers into stores, such as “buy online, pick up in store” and personal shopping appointment scheduling tools.  
  • Use of saved carts and wish lists. Merchants should track mobile usage of tools that enable shoppers to “pick up where they left off” and access products of interest, whether they’re in stores or on desktop or laptop computers.
  • Product research from within stores. A whopping 82 percent of shoppers use their phones while in stores to research potential purchases – activity merchants should segment and analyze for opportunities to smooth the path to purchase. To identify which mobile usage comes from within stores, merchants can track usage of in-store WiFi, store-specific URLs or QR codes, or request access to device location data.
  • Redemption of mobile coupons at store point-of-sale terminals. One in four shoppers have used their phones to redeem coupons in stores, and merchants should track this activity to understand which promotions are effective drivers of mobile-to-store sales.

 

Customer Service

  • Click-to-call usage and call tracking. Merchants should track click-to-call usage and consider implementing call tracking — bespoke phone numbers for different touchpoints or campaigns — in order to better understand not only what site pages prompt calls to live help, but also activity originating with ads that prominently list phone numbers, which may not register “clicks” but may drive business.    
  • Use of live chat from mobile devices. Nearly 60 percent of online shoppers have now used live chat for customer service, and merchants should understand how usage varies from mobile to desktop. The growing use of Facebook Messenger as a live help channel ups the mobile imperative, given that it accounts for 2 percent of all minutes U.S. consumers spend in apps; merchants experimenting with Messenger should track its usage closely to optimize its revenue-generating — and cost-saving — potential.  
  • Use/abandonment of loyalty account services via mobile. More than half of consumers say the ability to access and redeem loyalty rewards is an important mobile payment feature. Merchants should not only develop and promote these capabilities, but track their usage — and abandonment — to understand how best to spur purchasing among committed brand followers.

 

What metrics are you tracking to capture mobile’s total impact?

Why Aren’t Stores Better at Saving the Sale?

As consumers become increasingly more demanding in their desire for an efficient and unified shopping experience, the role of the retail store is shifting. Brick and mortar fulfillment solutions, such as ship-from-store and in-store pick-up, are gaining in popularity and retailers are working diligently to incorporate these offerings into their omnichannel strategies.

And it makes sense – In-store pickup is a win-win fulfillment option for all involved. In-store pickup helps shoppers get their products quickly and on their schedule, while eliminating shipping expenses and driving in-store sales for retailers.

But just because in-store pickup is a smart strategy doesn’t mean it is easy to implement. If you look at the retail landscape today, who is doing in-store pickup, and more importantly, who is doing it well? To find out, Kibo paired up with Multichannel Merchant and the e-tailing group to develop a buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS) mystery shopping study that would shed light on the consumer experience. Of the 30 leading retailers we mystery shopped, we discovered many interesting insights, but perhaps the most eye opening was this:

We found that 90 percent of store associates had access to store inventory, and that 87 percent of them could place orders through a register (81 percent), mobile POS (19 percent) or tablet (7 percent).

But when we requested the item in a different color or size that was not in stock in the store, only 7 percent attempted to save the sale.

So nearly every retail store gave its associates access to inventory and the ability to place an order for the customer, but only two of the 30 retailers attempted to save the sale. Where is the disconnect? Traditionally, the divide falls into two categories:

No. 1: Cumbersome technology: How easy is your store technology to use? Are you asking employees to place orders and look up inventorythrough your warehouse management system, inventory management system or legacy point of sale software? To encourage store associate engagement,empower them with an intuitive retail associate platform that easily shows inventory availability and customer history in one simple screen.

To today’s digitally savvy store associates, cumbersome and clunky interfaces, with ugly screens and disjointed tools are obstructions to accomplishing a task. Give them the tools found in a modern point of sale solution to make it easy to place an order. One simple screen, with large images, customer history, related product suggestions and access to the same promotions and discounts offered on the website will help your store associates save the sale.

And don’t underestimate the power mobile technology can bring to the table. By giving store associates the intuitive tools right at their fingertips, you can make it easy for them to help an employee from anywhere in the store, on a device they are familiar with.

No. 2: Organizational misalignment: While omnichannel fulfillment may be a top priority at HQ, it doesn’t always trickle down to the individual store associate. Empowering store associates to embrace your omnichannel initiatives, such as in-store pickup, requires not only the right technology, but a devotion of resources and training to obtain your desired shopping experience.

When looking to implement in-store pickup, or tweak an existing strategy, ask yourself: What programs do I have in place to train employees? Is the retail associate platform easy to train on? Do I offer incentives or rewards to employees who save the sale? How often do I work with my associates to make sure they understand our omnichannel objectives every time a customer walks in the store?

No one will pretend that empowering store associates to embrace your omnichannel strategies is easy. But instead of introducing roadblocks with outdated, clunky technology, you can make it easier for store associates by giving them an intuitive, easy to use mobile point of sale system.

Download the full Buy Online, Pickup in Store Mystery Shopping Study here, complete with in-store pickup must-have requirements and areas for improvement, and begin planning and optimizing your in-store pickup strategy.