3 Ways Retailers Can Align Their Sales Funnel to Digital Strategies

UDAYAN BOSE | March 28, 2019

article image
During the 2018 holiday season, retailers saw stellar e-commerce year-over-year growth of over 15 percent. This upward trend was seen across retail categories, desktop and mobile. Average order values also indicated that even though shoppers took advantage of sale items, they spent their savings and then some on additional items. Of course, some retailers didn't perform as well as others. Those that invested heavily in integrated e-commerce strategies delivered the strongest YoY gains. In order to be an overachiever, retailers need to create a unified approach that goes beyond their digital strategies and aligns the overall marketing plan with their entire sales funnel. Below are the three priorities for retailers to meet this challenge in 2019.

Spotlight

Sutherland

Sutherland is a process transformation company focused on helping companies rethink the way business gets done. Whether transforming your financial processes, applying analytics to customer care, or leveraging experience design to build a customer journey map, we are experts in reengineering process.

OTHER ARTICLES

Traffic to US retail stores has almost entirely vanished due to Covid-19

Article | April 1, 2020

At many malls and retail stores around the US, foot traffic has been in decline for some time. Even so, they’ve never seen anything like this. In a research note sent to clients today, investment firm Cowen and Company estimated total foot traffic to US retailers was down 97.6% for the week through March 27 compared to the same time last year. It has come to a “near complete halt,” Cowen said, following the outbreak of the new coronavirus. Many stores across the country are closed, of course, so shoppers couldn’t visit even if they wanted. Retailers have voluntarily shuttered stores to protect workers and help slow the virus’s spread. Simon Property Group, the largest mall owner in the US, closed its malls through at least the end of March.

Read More

We Have No Idea What We’re Doing

Article | December 15, 2020

Prior to the pandemic and quarantine, less than 8% of commerce was online. As of Q3FY20 eCommerce grew north of 14% of all commerce. So while the Retailpocalypse was in its last phase, physical retail still outsold eCommerce by at least 7:1. The failure rate of crowdfunding campaigns is 85%. The failure rate of eCommerce store owners ranges from 80 to 97%. What if there were a way to bridge the gap between these three failure rates? What if we could bridge what people consume online with what they purchase offline before waiting for brain-computer interfaces (BCI)? In short what if we could bridge social and commerce? (Example use case.) Mostly missing are the memorable, meaningful, measurable and monetizable responses from people interested in stories about beagles, princesses and pitbulls, pets, car repair, raspberry blueberry vinaigrette gyros, budget-saving techniques for holiday travel, getting stuck at airports in blizzards, rental cars and Cup o’ Noodles, My Fair Lady and @Instacart, dining out at the delicious Banana Leaves café, cooking kosher halal gelatin-free, blue #1 artificial dye-free egg nog flavored marshmallows, 50th anniversaries and chocolate ganache, adventures camping with youth groups, birdhouses built by kids, rainbow hair dye, artificial dye-free cakes DIY for your child’s birthday party, and Halloween gingerbread houses and Greek Mount Olympus costumes. Other than ad revenue Youtube collects which most of it’s video posters see little of, monetizing the DIY craze has proven quite tricky. Ditto for Christmas shopping, smartphone accessories, buying a new luxury Subaru online with no salesman, how to get hard to find contact lenses and vitamins for kids, how Amazon often has thrift store prices on inventory thrift stores rarely carry, the challenges of buying clothes on Amazon that don’t fit but you don’t realize that until the clothes arrive, DIY car repair, funny car repair, glorious victory of car repair, diaper cakes and muscle aches, drones and honey scones, Triple A baseball and blue-tailed skinks, favorite foods, fasting, and Boston, fused vertebrae and buried treasure, where to buy school supplies when most stores are sold out, creameries and charcuterie, Bridging social media with eCommerce has been the white rhino of many investors and start-ups for many years. Instead of working toward such solutions, we have VC’s and stockholders asking about vanity metrics: - How many people looked at your website? Instead of: How many people subscribed or how many purchased an item?- - How many downloads per month does your app have? Instead of: How many of the people who downloaded your app have note removed it less than 30 days later? - What’s your ad revenue? Instead of: How can your product capture or create more value? In reply entrepreneurs answer these questions, they often present their increased spend on marketing followed up with vanity milestones: “We’re using Google Analytics and similar providers to track every movement of the supply chain, to ensure when the purchaser’s journey is completed, there’s no delay in delivery. This will lead to more frequent purchases ideally of higher priced products, and… We are pitching to Chipotle on Friday!” This leads to concentrated research on Chipotle’s SWAT, followed up with an excellent pitch including a demo via Zoom. The result of this pitch is usually: 1. The person loved the pitch and accepts your invitation to meet again with his/her manager next week. 2. The person you pitched to is not the decision-maker 3. The person you pitched to doesn’t quite understand what you’re pitching 4. The person you pitched to had 3 other projects due by COB and wasn’t fully present and listening to your 10-minute pitch 5. You provided too many facts too quickly, trying to build rapport 6. You shared how you’re product can reduce shrink, increase ROI, decrease costs, increase retention, and cure cancer. The person you pitched to doesn’t believe all those promises. 7. The person you pitched to is afraid of advocating change; the risk from change that results in lesser results can lead to negative repercussions. The risk of “business as usual” is minimal. Forgotten by almost all eCommerce platforms and store owners are the facts that: - People behave differently when they are observed (best behavior vs. average behavior). Despite this, we are seeing an incredible number of start-ups that offer to help track everything your customers do. “We’re Palantir for eCommerce” is essentially the ethos of these companies. - The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwarz – too many choices overwhelm the person making the choice, to the point that no decision is made. If you don’t train your mind to buy what you want even if you have to look on pages other than Amazon and Google Shopping, you might end up buying the product you almost wanted. - The concept of incentivized virality – when PayPal gave $20 to each person who referred another person who joined, and when DropBox offered free data storage to people who referred friends who joined – which Reid Hoffman and Chris Yeh brilliantly detailed in Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies. So now each eCommerce platform tries to copy Amazon who built their model on the opposite of physical retail. Consider your last experience renting a car at an airport vs. Amazon: - Do you want to refill the gas tank or would you like us to? - Would you like liability only or more comprehensive types of insurance coverage? - Would you like a GPS? - Would you like to join our exclusive members club? etc., etc. Adding to what @ElevateDemand said, “ B2B marketing is broken,” Raj De Datta, CEO and cofounder of @Bloomreach said, “The future of B2C marketing looks like B2B marketing,” Kevin Marasco, CMO of @Zenefits correctly said “marketing is going back in time from B2B to B2C” or person to person. Smart speakers in every phone, tablet, laptop PC, TV, and car succeeded by BCI, which @Facebook and @Neuralink are pioneering, hold great potential. Until those products arrive or after their R&D phase, @Homemaide’s object recognition and image recognition models can provide the sorely needed bridge between Social and Commerce.

Read More

3 SEO Lessons from Amazon for Ecommerce Product Pages

Article | March 8, 2020

Product detail pages on Amazon rank for roughly 34 million keywords in Google in the U.S. In this post, I’ll address three tips for optimizing the product pages on your own ecommerce site using lessons from Amazon. The name of a product greatly influences organic search rankings. Product names are typically in title tags, heading tags (H1, H2), and other metadata. Search engines use product names for relevance signals, and shoppers use them to scan search-result pages. Product names are important for Amazon’s site search. Thus merchants tend to go overboard there. The principle, however, is the same for optimizing search on Google or Amazon. Highly descriptive product names such as “Deck Plus #10 x 3-in Ceramic Deck Screws” leave little doubt both to searchers scanning the results page and to search engine algorithms. However, when a product name is more general, such as “Cuisinart Electric Cordless Tea Kettle,” neither searchers nor engines know with certainty what’s on the page. Which Cuisinart electric kettle is it? Stainless steel or plastic? Big or small?

Read More

How To Avoid Overpaying On Your POS Processing Fees

Article | May 19, 2021

Running a small business requires a tight eye on profits. More than likely, you will face scenarios in which you incur higher transaction fees you didn’t expect and could have avoided in the first place. Knowing how to navigate processing fees is a key part of your success. Whether you run a single location, a multi-location business, or even a mobile business, avoiding unnecessary fees should be part of the game plan. Unfortunately, less-than-reputable POS providers are out there, and understanding fees associated with taking payment from customers isn’t easy, but knowing what to look for will help. In this article, we cover fees to keep an eye on and how to save more on your processing fees. How To Avoid Paying Unnecessary Credit Card Processing Fees Unfortunately, if you want to accept credit and debit cards as a form of payment in your business, you’re going to experience processing fees. The financial benefits outweigh the transaction costs, but you can still save some money on your POS system and credit card processing. Negotiate Your Processing Fees The reason it can be so hard to understand the actual cost of processing fees is that many merchant service providers bury fees in the fine print, and these fees can come back to haunt you. In general, the more upfront a company is about all its charges, the more trustworthy and reliable they are because they have nothing to hide, and typically those rates will be fair. But it also helps to keep an eye on certain aspects of a contract. You can then negotiate them or repackage services to boost your profits. Transaction Fees: Choose The Right Plan When setting up your contract, you are given the option of a range of credit card pricing plans. Here are three of the most common pricing models. Interchange Plus Fee Pricing This option offers different transaction rates for different card types, bank issuers, methods of transactions, and more. By understanding these fees when processing transactions, you can benefit financially by encouraging the usage of certain cards or procedures that are least costly. Tiered Pricing In this scenario, you are charged different rates for different tiers created by your provider. It’s important to evaluate this option carefully because most transactions can fall into a less favorable tier rate. Flat-fee Structure Pricing This fee allows for one charge for card-present (CP) transactions and another for card-not-present (CNP) transactions, regardless of card type. This predictable, one-rate pricing model is easy to follow, allowing you to encourage a lower cents-per-transaction option and formulate special pricing deals. However flat-rate can sometimes come out as more expensive than interchange-plus pricing. How To Avoid Monthly PCI Compliance Charges A semi-regular fee many merchants run into is not falling in line with PCI Compliant in how they handle payment information. Being PCI compliant means maintaining important standards for customer data protection, and it is taken seriously. Compliance is required for major credit cards such as Visa and Mastercard and is becoming more popular as businesses continue to shift to online sales. Rule enforcement is most often the responsibility of payment processing companies. Your provider will charge you two fees: a PCI compliance fee – which is once a year – and a PCI non-compliance fee – which occurs every month you have not completed your yearly PCI Compliance audit. Providers are free to charge however much they like for each service, and it can range anywhere between $30-$99 a month. Monthly charges are done both directly or indirectly via higher monthly fees, processing rates, or both. In some cases, the charges begin months after originally signing up with the processors hoping you won’t keep a close eye on all your ongoing processing fees. As a merchant service provider, we at BNG Point-Of-Sale have a long and reliable history in helping our customers practice PCI Compliance within their business and avoid non-compliance fees. PCI Compliance is necessary and it does require some work by the processors, so the charges aren’t a hoax, but there are some ways to keep costs down: You can take on the responsibility of PCI Compliance yourself and forgo the processor’s fee; however, you will be on your own if issues arise. In today’s world of increasing e-commerce, it’s not recommended. You can prevent the risk of non-compliance fees by working with companies that handle compliance internally. If they (not you) are the source of customer purchasing data, they are automatically in charge of it. Square and PayPal are examples of companies that handle all PCI Compliance, and we often account for these services when onboarding our customers and annually remind them to follow PCI Compliance. At first glance, it may appear you are not charged by these companies for compliance and non-compliance, but in reality, compliance is still built into the standard fee for service; you just won’t see it specified. Still, you won’t be responsible for non-compliance fees since they own the data and are fully responsible for it. The amount of compliance required of your business depends on how you take in payment and store customer data. Since processors have numerous clients and prefer not to get specific about it, they may charge a basic fee to cover most issues. This means you could be overpaying, so it’s a good area to evaluate this price of the packaged service vs. when it is priced individually. There may be companies that don’t charge for compliance, but they are rare and may be suspect. In most cases, any free compliance is covered with higher fees in other areas. How To Avoid Chargeback Fees Chargeback fees should be avoided since they are more expensive than traditional transaction fees – especially if you are categorized as a “high risk” client. The first step is to avoid chargebacks in the first place. Chargebacks can be the result of sales errors by you and your team, a misunderstanding by the customer, or the result of identity theft. Here are some ways to combat each. Reduce Transaction Errors Know when to stop a transaction. If an error occurs, push the cancel/hold button inside the transaction. If you are unable to do this, the transaction has already been claimed by the processing company. Accurately process credits as credits and sales as sales. Receive an Authorization Approval Code (AAC) before running a transaction. Before batching your credit card processing at the end of the day, review all charges to verify all charges are correct and not duplicated. Keeping this as an active daily routine can prevent costly mistakes. Ensure shipped items arrive to the customer to avoid disputes. Select the “ship product to billing address” to alleviate data error. Keep Records Of Voids Provide records to your customer of any proof of voids and include companion documentation for any disputes showing details of each purchase. Decrease Risk Of Theft If your processor charges more for card-not-present transactions, which most do, it’s because the risk of theft is higher. By requiring a driver’s license and signature and doing manually keyed-in card payments in person rather than over the phone, you lower the risk and enjoy lower charges per transaction. Try to avoid non-qualified processing (when a card isn’t present or keyed or is missing billing information.) This type of processing is considered a high-risk factor, and processors charge accordingly. When Possible, Run Orders On Debit Cards Debit cards are considered a lower risk than credit cards and, in turn, the transaction rates are quite a bit less. This has mostly to do with the fact the purchase is a direct bank-to-bank transaction, but other factors make a difference such as PIN verification and signature requirements, bringing these purchases into a lower risk category. And typically the rates hold. You will still experience rate differences among debit cards related to how the purchases are conducted and who the issuing bank is. Special incentives such as loyalty programs for debit card users help to easily boost profits. A Final Thought On Keeping Processing Fees Low As you can see, several variables can affect your processing rates. From fines to the pricing model your merchant service provider recommends, there’s a lot to consider. As tempting as it can be to just try and find the cheapest option, be careful going with the lowest bidder. Remember, all POS and payment processing providers have to make some money to cover the costs of support their merchants. If you choose a processor with incredibly low fees, you run the risk of getting what you pay for when it comes to supporting your business. If you’re not sure if you’re overpaying on your processing fees and want a free analysis, let our team review your current monthly statements and we’ll let you know if you’re getting a good deal or not.

Read More

Spotlight

Sutherland

Sutherland is a process transformation company focused on helping companies rethink the way business gets done. Whether transforming your financial processes, applying analytics to customer care, or leveraging experience design to build a customer journey map, we are experts in reengineering process.

Events