A seamless retail customer journey

| February 5, 2018

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In today’s customer journey, personalized experiences that span both digital and physical environments will be critical to meeting consumers’ expectations. Learn how Microsoft and its partners enable retailers to deliver seamless, personal and differentiated experiences throughout the shopping journey.

Spotlight

Foodstirs

Based in Santa Monica, CA, Foodstirs was co-founded by successful entrepreneurs Galit Laibow, Greg Fleishman and actress and author Sarah Michelle Gellar. Foodstirs is remaking the baking mix category with USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified baking mixes that are superior on every level. The brand meticulously creates its recipes based on four core principles: ultra-sustainability, easy-to-make, affordably priced and incredibly delicious from-scratch taste. In addition to regenerative and direct-sourced ingredients like Biodynamic(r), the brand uses organic identity-preserved unbleached heirloom flour.

OTHER ARTICLES

5 Shopify Alternatives in 2020-21 that Make Ecommerce Simple for Beginners

Article | October 16, 2020

In 2004, Tobias Lutke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Luke established an online website to sell snowboards. They tried a bunch of online store builders but were not satisfied with the status quo. So, they decided to build a tool that could operate their website. Soon, they realized that the tool was more powerful than the website's business. And hence, Shopify was born. Eventually, Shopify became one of the largest eCommerce store builders in the world. By 2009, the company had $100 million in sales and decided to launch its own API as well as an app store. More than a decade later, Shopify is now supporting over 800,000 stores globally and is a $125 billion company. While the company has shown remarkable growth in its business, it would be ignorant to say the market's needs have been fulfilled by the Shopify platform. Shopify's eCommerce platform works for a lot of businesses, but that does not mean it will work for every business. Here is why Shopify is Not the Right Fit for Every Business: Shopify's growth over the years shows that the company has taken several steps to address the market's inherent needs. However, the presence of several other companies and the issues still faced by merchants show some significant gaps in Shopify's offerings: 1. Cost of Setting Up: Each price-point offers a fixed set of features and functionalities. If you want anything over and above that, you will have to buy the subsequent package. For instance – something as conventional as a Gift Card is not available in the $29 per month package; to get it activated, pay as much as $299 per month. 2. Cost of Operations: The additional functionalities and features cost extra in your package. Even basic features like transaction or credit card processing attract an additional fee. To add to that, you have to purchase the app to activate the feature from the Shopify app store. Even though some apps are free, the apps that offer maximum value tend to cost north of $39.99 per month. 3. Limited and Expensive Themes: The entire Shopify store has a total of 73 themes, with the prices going as high as $180 a theme. This means that as a merchant, even after paying the high price, you may end up with an eCommerce platform that hardly stands out from the crowd. In short, while Shopify was started with great intentions, the cost of using it has started outweighing the probable value it has to offer. This issue gets further highlighted when one starts looking at the Shopify alternatives. Best Alternatives of Shopify While Shopify suits the needs of a certain set of merchants, here are the alternatives that can suit the merchants looking for more tailored, affordable, or customizable solutions: 1. Quick eSelling Quick eSelling is one of the most affordable and easy to deploy ecommerce store builder among the Shopify alternatives. It can be deployed in under 10 minutes for the basic variant. Its free variant has some prolific features like a native Android app, responsive website, and a catalog that can support up to 1000 products. The free package requires a 5% transaction fee, which gets eliminated the moment you upgrade to a paid plan. All the paid plans have a fixed monthly fee and no setup costs. The list of standard features includes a wide set of functionalities like customizable web-store themes, SMS & Email marketing, comprehensive payment gateway integrations, detailed analytics reports, inventory management systems, social media plugins, discount coupon codes, and even live chat. The premium package which costs around 50% the price of the $299 Shopify package, comes with a dedicated account manager and enterprise-level integrations. Ideal for: Merchants who are seeking an affordable, easily usable, and quickly deployable solution. 2. WooCommerce WooCommerce is popularly considered one of the most preferred alternatives for Shopify. It is quite convenient for website owners as it is a plugin for WordPress. Unlike other tools in the list, WooCommerce is designed to make WordPress sites work as functional eCommerce platforms. And in that particular aspect, it does a great job. However, if you are not already using an established WordPress site with high traffic, running WooCommerce can become quite expensive. On average, a website owner has to spend as much as $1000 in setting up a WooCommerce store with a moderate degree of customization. Even if you are not customizing a lot, running a WooCommerce store can cost you as much as $150 in a month. This would cover your hosting, themes, shipping plugins, security, and SEO. You will pay additional 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. Ideal for: Someone who has a successful WordPress website and now wants to convert it into an eCommerce store. 3. Yo!Kart: Yo!Kart is a popular self-hosted multi-vendor platform for building online marketplaces. Unlike Shopify, it is a standalone platform that comes with a lifetime license and rich ecommerce features. The platform is fully customizable and scalable. Yo!Kart packages start from $999 and every package comes with a 1-year free technical support, free installation, and full source code. There are no monthly or yearly recurring fees. Considering it is a comprehensive platform, you may need some technical training to understand the system. Ideal for: Business owners who want to start ecommerce websites like Amazon or ebay where multiple sellers are selling under the same roof. 4. PrestaShop PrestaShop runs on the basic premise that creating an online eCommerce store should be an affordable exercise for any merchant. That is the reason why it is available for free and comes without any additional monthly fees. Its features include eCommerce functionalities like CRM & Email Marketing, Inventory Management, Multi-Store Management, and SEO Management. You can get a basic eCommerce store running by paying the registration fee for the domain and the hosting fee dues. While this may seem like a great alternative, given the fact that it is practically free, there is one major caveat – you cannot deploy or personalize your PrestaShop eCommerce store unless you know how to code. The entire platform has been designed, keeping in mind people who can code at professional levels of proficiency. The cost of hiring a developer who can add features to your store or modify the theme can be very costly. In addition to this, some basic features like promotions & reviews management, data security, and mobile access are not available on the platform. Ideal for: The merchants who have access to programming talent and don't mind a basic eCommerce store. 5. Wix Wix became popular as an online website builder. It also offers interesting eCommerce functionalities. For as low as $35 a year, you can have the Business Basic package that comes with a free year of using the domain, analytics reports, and 20 GB of storage. If you want greater control of your eCommerce platform but are not a professional programmer and are not interested in hiring one, Wix can be a great alternative. Its most expensive package costs about $80 a year. It comes with features like email marketing, SEO management, inventory management, data security, and promotions management. The challenge is – most of the charges marketed by Wix are very affordable for the first year in operations. After a year, many of these features, like the domain, will become payable elements. This way as soon as the first year of your operations is over, your cost of running the eCommerce platform will dramatically go up. Ideal for: Merchants who want to have greater control of their website's design without the need for coding skills and those who want the first year of operations to be largely affordable. Conclusion: Shopify can work for you if you are seeking a limited set of features. However, for lesser price-points, the alternatives for Shopify offer great functionalities. Quick eSelling is good for cost-effective and rapidly deployable eCommerce websites that come loaded with native features. WooCommerce is a viable option if you have a WordPress site and want to convert it into an eCommerce store. Yo!Kart specializes in building multi-vendor marketplaces. PrestaShop can be handy and very budget-friendly if you have access to coding talent. And Wix is good if you want greater control over what your store looks like, without getting into the programming aspects.

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WFH? Here’s how to manage your ecommerce order deliveries successfully

Article | April 6, 2020

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has turned the whole world upside down. No one is sure about anything anymore. And that scares us. Luckily, the culture of remote working has been catching on. There are a gazillion tools that help you get rid of the snags of WFH. Regardless, managing your team as an ecommerce business owner remotely is no joke. Especially during a time when you cannot afford to lose business or customers. Here’s a cheat sheet to stay on top of your orders in the age of social distancing. Real-time shipment monitoring: The good news is that there is a greater push for shopping online. More and more customers are seeking comfort in the ease of ordering products online. In the US, there has been a surge in the ecommerce order volume for health and beauty products. The real challenge is staying on top of order fulfillment. You need a unified portal that tracks and monitors your packages in real-time.

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How does Technology help in Business Growth?

Article | February 12, 2021

For every business leader, growth is the key goal. No matter what the size of the business one leads, their strategies revolve around the overall growth of the company. However, the main challenge that they had to face is to gain the lead most cost-effectively and feasibly. Nowadays, businesses are utilizing technology to integrate, automate or redesign their process operations. It has helped them in acquiring streamlined processes, minimal cost, and enhanced production. But how technology can help in strategizing for business growth? Here, the digital transformation of the business is the force driving success and growth. So let’s understand what is needed to gain exceptional results. Cloud Computing & Business Cloud computing has been around for a long time now. It can not only increase efficiency but also offers better security and fast process operation. To make it highly effective and enjoy its full benefits, it’s important to take help from an experienced team. Also, businesses can choose from the wide range of cloud service providers available in the market according to the requirements. Applications Honestly, the number of smartphone users has increased in recent years. So to make the product and services reachable to a larger range of customers, organizations need to hire developers and develop web or mobile apps that are responsive and user friendly. It is the best way for gaining success in any business. Social Media Social media like Instagram, Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, etc. have changed the way people interact with each other and brands. It makes the social media platform a gold mine for businesses. All that an enterprise needs to do is create a business profile and start targeting the potential customers while connecting and engaging with them. It helps in increasing attracting, offering, and sharing products or services with the audience. Big Data Analytics The last and most important factor in any business growth is data. The growth strategy of a business should be supported by relevant and valid data. To use data effectively, business leaders need to learn the way to collect data around the internet and analyze it for achieving valuable insights. With the right data in the pocket, companies can easily adapt powerful strategies, approaches, and plans instantly to give an unbeatable boost to their business. Conclusion Undoubtedly, technology gives a high potential for strategizing foremost business plans. But, the entire process of digitizing business will take time. However, by listening to the customer and identifying the right tools, businesses can enjoy digital value. All that organizations need to do is keep themselves updated with new technology tools and trends that can highly impact the business growth.

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Factories shift operations in scramble to restock supermarket shelves

Article | March 16, 2020

With supermarkets stripped of food and many other essentials, consumer product companies halted factory runs of niche items such as scented bleach in order to speed up production of more basic merchandise that is in high demand. Brick-and-mortar retailers have warned that hoarding toilet paper, cleaning supplies and food staples was fueling shortages. Amazon.com (AMZN.O), the biggest online retailer, said it sold out of many household staples after orders spiked. As the fast-spreading coronavirus continues to alarm consumers across Europe and the United States, Trump held a phone call on Sunday with 30 executives from grocery stores including Amazon.com’s Whole Foods, Target Corp (TGT.N), Costco Wholesale Corp (COST.O) and Walmart Inc (WMT.N). Trump Administration official Larry Kudlow assured television news viewers that U.S. supply lines were “working pretty well.”

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Spotlight

Foodstirs

Based in Santa Monica, CA, Foodstirs was co-founded by successful entrepreneurs Galit Laibow, Greg Fleishman and actress and author Sarah Michelle Gellar. Foodstirs is remaking the baking mix category with USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified baking mixes that are superior on every level. The brand meticulously creates its recipes based on four core principles: ultra-sustainability, easy-to-make, affordably priced and incredibly delicious from-scratch taste. In addition to regenerative and direct-sourced ingredients like Biodynamic(r), the brand uses organic identity-preserved unbleached heirloom flour.

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