Headless Commerce: Part 3— Optimizing E-Commerce Infrastructure

Nogin and Coresight Research’s three-part report series, Headless Commerce, explores the emerging commerce-as-a-service (CaaS) space in the US and the key trends in the market. We leverage findings from an October 2021 Coresight Research survey of e-commerce leaders in the US to identify the key challenges and benefits in building and using e-commerce infrastructure and tools.

In part three this report, our analysis and insights focus on mid-size companies, covering the following topics:

• Challenges in current e-commerce operating models
• The value of external support
• The right combination of internal and external resources
• Desirable features in e-commerce infrastructure

In case you missed it, you can also download the first report in the series, Headless Commerce: Part 1—The Evolving State of E-Commerce Infrastructure.

Why Mobile Responsive Web Design is Important For Your Ecommerce Website

mobile optimization

Mobile responsive web design is essential as ecommerce continues to evolve. Today’s consumers want to easily access to purchase products and browse your site, especially on mobile devices. 

Mobile ecommerce sales were projected to hit $314 billion in 2021, accounting for an estimated 54% of total ecommerce sales. To stay competitive, it’s essential you have a mobile responsive web design for your retail website. 

Consumers want to navigate your website intuitively—regardless of whether they’re on a desktop computer or mobile device. Mobile is the fastest-growing channel and users expect to have the same intuitive, seamless shopping experience on their mobile device as they do when visiting your website on a computer. 

The importance of responsive web design cannot be overstated, especially as shoppers continue to purchase more and more from their mobile devices.

Below we compiled the most frequently asked questions about responsive web design, how it affects your bottom line and how to avoid common pitfalls.

What is Responsive Web Design?

First off, let’s cover the basics. A responsive web design adjusts to fit into any size screen displayed on desktop, tablet, and mobile devices. Responsive web design ensures your website provides an optimal experience for your visitors regardless of which device they use. 

Many standard websites are designed for desktop navigation. However, when users explore a tablet or mobile device, the on-page elements are distorted or not scaled to fit. Unresponsive websites diminish the user experience and give a poor impression to viewers, not to mention possibly deter them from making a purchase.

A quick list of possible elements that need to be made response include:

  • Buttons: Need to adapt to the appropriate size and margin to avoid errors
  • Phone Numbers: Need to be numbers, not images, so users can easily tap to call
  • Menu Navigation: A separate menu navigation may need to be set up to ensure proper sizing and padding 
  • Form Fields: Increase size of fields so it’s easy to fill out and submit when on a smaller screen

A responsive website will adjust the layout based on the device and will improve the time visitors spend on your site. Users will have an enhanced experience which will result in increased repeat visitors and conversions. 

As an added incentive, since Google and other search engines favor websites that give users the optimum experience, responsive web design will help improve the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of your website. It will also help improve page speed time which is a crucial factor that Google accesses when determining which sites appear in search results. 

The first step of developing a successful ecommerce marketing funnel is to make sure your site is responsive on all devices, so your visitors can easily explore your website. A responsive web design will also help improve virtually all crucial ecommerce key-performance indicators

By making it easier for your customers to navigate your website and complete purchases, you’ll provide a superior customer journey, ensuring  they return to your retail site. One bad experience on a subpar website can tarnish your brand and dissuade return visitors.  

What is Mobile Responsive Design?

Many people have used the terms “responsive web design” and “mobile responsive design” interchangeably, but there is actually a difference. An important difference to any brand trying to increase sales through their retail website.

Mobile responsive design creates a seamless experience from desktop to mobile. It is the most essential device to focus on for your business since mobile purchasing continues to rise. If your website does not cater to mobile visitors, you risk losing customers in the long run. 

How Does Responsive Web Design Affect the Perception of Your Brand?

In many cases, a website is a consumer’s first impression of your brand. They get an email from you while out and about so they click on the link to open your site on their mobile device. They’re waiting for their child to get done with their music lesson and happen to remember seeing something in your storefront display when they walked past your store. These moments could determine if they make a purchase on your retail site or move on to another.

One report states shoppers are 62% less likely to make a future purchase from a site they had a negative experience on. So each visit to your retail website is important.

While you have probably hired an individual or team to take ownership of your website design, it’s still your brand. We highly recommend browsing your own site on mobile every once in a while to ensure nothing has broken or renders incorrectly. It’s also important to view your site through different browsers, they are not all the same and some changes may be required to ensure your site appears correctly on Chrome, Safari, FireFox and Internet Explorer.

Why is Responsive Web Design Important?

The user experience is everything. In November 2021, TechJury reported mobile accounts for over 67.2% of all ecommerce. If the consumer is unable to easily find the information that they are looking for on your website via their mobile device, you risk losing them as a potential customer.

In addition to the layout and presentation of your brand looking its best, the investment into a mobile responsive web design makes managing your website on the backend less of a headache. The alternative to a non-responsive website is one that is not easily viewed on mobile at all, or hosting a separate mobile site with a separate layout and navigation designed solely for mobile, which is twice the work and splits your SEO optimization between two site URLs.

Mobile responsive design also decreases the need for major upgrades in the future. Fast-advancing technology means that the screen sizes for handheld devices are constantly changing. A responsive website is not a victim to constant layout updates every time a new screen size is introduced because it intelligently works for any size screen.

We live in a day and age where most everyone owns at least one mobile device, from elementary school aged children to grandparents. Even if there were no statistics to share, it’s clear online retailers have to provide a shopping experience tailored for those on mobile devices so they don’t risk losing their foothold in the market.

Do You Feel Like You’re Constantly Competing with Amazon?

Do You Feel Like You’re Constantly Competing with Amazon?

It goes without saying, Amazon has changed the way customers make purchases online. From fast shipping to free returns, Amazon has influenced expectations of online shoppers across the globe.

Many brands with retail websites feel like they have to compete with Amazon by:

  1. Offering free shipping
  2. Offering free returns
  3. Selling their products through Amazon

While these are definitely great ideas to keep your shoppers happy and your product in the faces (or screens) of potential shoppers, we’d like to offer some alternatives by looking at what some other brands have done to successfully grow their online stores.

To start, let’s eliminate the thought that if you’re not Amazon then you’re competing with Amazon. While Amazon does appeal to a wide audience, you have something great and wonderful to offer consumers.

Invest in Technology 

If you’re not already, it’s time to invest in technology, a variety of technologies that is. We have no doubt you have thousands of visitors coming to your retail website each month, it’s time to start using that readily available data to improve your shoppers’ experience and increase sales.

Predictive analytics is a great technology to incorporate into your site. For some shoppers, offering free shipping may be the perfect way to get them to hit that “Submit Order” button. However, you may have other shoppers who have exhibited behaviors that indicate they would still purchase even if they did have to pay shipping. 

Competing with Amazon

Let’s say you offer clothing for men and women on your retail website, do you know which of your customers are buying just women’s clothing, just men’s clothing or both? With this information you could create a more personalized shopping experience based on which audience they fall into. What products you should suggest or what promotional offers would be most effective to get them to purchase.

Where else can you implement new technologies? Your warehouse. Metapack’s 2018 State of Ecommerce Delivery found 70% of those surveyed prioritized purchasing goods from one ecommerce site over another because it provided more delivery options. So what’s going to make your options standout from the competition?

We won’t go into all the details here (we’ve got so much more to discuss below!), but stop to think about what the impact would be on your delivery service and available options if you implemented real-time inventory tracking? And then, continuing down through the delivery process, having your warehouse technology paired with a last-mile delivery solution. Just a couple of things to think about if you’re focusing on improving the delivery options and experience for your buyers.

Focus on SEO

“SEO” has become quite the buzzword (or term) over the last decade, and rightfully so. If done correctly, SEO (Search Engine Optimization for those of you who haven’t heard the buzz yet) can be a powerful and cost effective strategy to bring shoppers to your website. 

Your store is online and your potential shoppers are searching online for exactly what you offer. So how are they going to find you? Yes, digital advertising and marketing is one way, and a great way. But it’s not the only way. Let’s be honest, you probably can’t afford to pay Google, Facebook or Instagram to show ads for every item you offer on your website whenever someone from your target audience is searching for it. But you still want people searching for all of those items to find you.

Elephant in the room

This is where SEO tools can be your hero. With careful planning and a strong SEO strategy, you can build out product descriptions, keyword searches and category descriptions that will help place your product on Google’s page one of search results. We know, you’re probably like us and have been taught being number one isn’t everything. But when it comes to Google search results, being number one is critical.

According to Search Engine Journal, 25% of people will click on the first organic (not ad) search result. They go on to report the 10th search result (the last on page one search results) gets just a 2.5% click through rate. We don’t even want to think about what happens to all those poor results showing up anywhere other than page one.

I’m sure you’re thinking “SEO sounds great! I’m going to start implementing my own SEO strategy today so I can start getting more customers to my site tomorrow!” And we’re going to kindly caution you to sloooooow down. SEO IS great and it IS powerful. However, it takes some time and definitely takes some expertise. It may require investing in a person (or two or three) or hiring an outside partner to help execute an effective strategy that gets results.

Show Your Customer You Know Them

Yes, Amazon can make suggestions of what a shopper should look at based on their previous search history or simply based on what is their “Deal of the Day”. But that’s not a tailored experience, that doesn’t make a shopper feel like Amazon knows them. Let’s be honest, shoppers may wish brands wouldn’t do this when the suggestions start becoming too frequent and/or completely off base from their interests.

So how can you create a better experience for your shoppers? Well, first we’re going to have to circle back to one of our previous points, data. You can’t show your customers you know them if, well, you don’t. 

What has a shopper purchased in the past? What complimentary items do you offer? If you’re a CPG retailer, when was the last time a product was purchased? Is it possibly time to refill/replace their last purchase? Maybe offer a discount for that product when they visit your site, whether they’re on that product page or not. You know they purchased that item, and you know what the average timeframe is to purchase again (because you have the data, right?), so serve them up the right message with the right offer at the right time.

Now, maybe you’re an apparel retailer. Let’s not assume your clothing only lasts a certain period of time or that your buyers maybe don’t fit in their clothes quite the same way they used to. Instead, let’s look at creating an audience based on their purchases. You can find similarities (again, using technology) within these audiences. Shared interests, hobbies, other retail websites they visit, and build an experience for them.

An example of an online retailer who has done this well is Lululemon. They’ve created a community (quite literally, they call it #thesweatlife online community) where anyone can access workouts as well as meditation sessions. Really, if you’re buying workout clothing you just might be interested in workout classes, right? 

Lululemon took the time to research and recognize what interests their customers have and evaluated the needs Lululemon could fill. This was especially powerful during the pandemic when people were turning to the internet for workouts in a way they never had before. They even started a Facebook group people could join to connect with others.

Now that you can clear your mind of thoughts of competing with Amazon, it’s time to focus on  what you can do to get more retail shoppers to your site and create the best buying experience possible to keep them coming back.

The Dreaded Customer Returns Strategies That Can Help Reduce Returns

Reducing return rates

The Dreaded Customer Returns Strategies That Can Help Reduce Returns

Online retailers know there’s no way to completely avoid returns, they are a part of the online shopping experience. How you choose to manage (or battle as some would say) them can have a drastic impact on the success of your business.

But before we go too far down the road of how you can handle the dilemma of returns, let’s take a quick glance at the numbers provided by the National Retail Federation

  • An estimated $428 billion of merchandise was returned in 2020
  • $102 billion of merchandise returned in 2020 was originally purchased through online retailers
  • 12.2% of merchandise returned in 2020 was apparel 

While it may be difficult to embrace the situation, online retailers don’t have much of a choice. So let’s see if we can find some potential ways to at least ease the effect.

Customer Personas

In every business you have personas, right? Let’s look at some of the different personas that exist for your shoppers who make returns. We can place similar shoppers into buckets or audiences to help us designate which persona that most align with.

  • Unhappy with the product received. We hope this is a small audience for you. Ideally you want every customer to love everything they buy on your site, but sometimes that’s not the case. However, you can keep this audience small by producing high quality products and ensuring the images and descriptions provided on your retail website are accurate.
  • Not sure about sizing. You can provide all the sizing charts in the world and shoppers will still be unsure which size is going to fit them best. Maybe they’re in between sizes or more comfortable in a smaller/larger size depending on the style of clothing they’re purchasing. You know you have customers who will buy multiple sizes of the same item, fully intending to return at least one of them.
  • Items received were damaged. We know sometimes this is out of your control. If the service delivering the items isn’t careful or leaves the package sitting in a puddle and it ruins the contents, you can’t control that. However, if the item is damaged at the warehouse during fulfillment, you may have a situation you need to address.

So now that we know who is returning their purchases, what next?

How to Solve for Returns

Strategies to Reduce Return Rates

Develop Optimal Return Policies

If you’ve heard us say it once, you’ve heard us say it 100 times. Technology. By collecting the data from your buyers and their activity you can formulate the optimal return policy available for your online shoppers.

Yes, you could create a return policy and just wait to see how it works. But why waste your time and possibly your profits? Whether you purchase the technology directly and have your internal team analyze it or you hire a third-party partner to help, you have the data you need. You just need to get access to it (if you don’t already) to make an informed decision.

Predictive Analytics

All right, that was just one way you can use technology on your retail website to help alleviate the burden of returns. With the use of predictive analytics you can customize the experience a customer receives. 

Identify online shoppers who have returned more items than they’ve kept. Or new shoppers you may want to entice into placing a purchase with the offer of free returns. Or shoppers who have a high rate of returns, but also keep more than they return. 

Some retailers, Zappos for example, have found that customers who return the most also purchase and KEEP the most. According to the authors of “Business Ethics: Ethical Decision Making & Cases” Zappos states their customers with the highest return rates are also their most profitable customers. In Zappos’ case, they’ve opted to keep free returns for all customers based on this data.

You’re not the only one who knows returns are going to happen, so does your shopper. According to the Narvar Consumer Report, Making Returns a Competitive Advantage, 95% of respondents said they would shop at a retailer again after having a positive returns experience. The only thing worse than online shoppers returning purchases is online shoppers returning purchases and then never returning to your retail website to make another purchase because they had a negative experience making a return.

Creating a positive return experience doesn’t have to be painful for you either. Retailers who have built their online retail site on Shopify have a variety of applications to choose from that can help!

Improve Sizing Accuracy

The last idea we want to discuss is reducing the amount of returns based on sizing issues by improving the accuracy of a purchase. We know this won’t completely eliminate the return of items that don’t fit correctly, shoppers return items due to fit even when they’ve had the chance to try them on before they purchase them. But let’s see if we can at least reduce the number of returns.

Try going beyond the typical size chart with a fit quiz. Based on the knowledge you have about your products and how they fit, build out a quiz that asks questions that go deeper than simple measurements to help shoppers better decide which size would be best for them.

This could also be a great solution if you’re a CPG retailer. By incorporating a quiz into your shoppers’ buying experience, you can help guide them to the right product. Again, you know your products best, help your shoppers find the item (or items) that will fill their needs by asking them what their needs are. 

Returns will continue to be a part of the shopping experience, you and I are guilty of it as well. However, implementing one or two new strategies can help alleviate the pain for both you and your shopper.

If You’re Not A/B Testing Your Ecommerce Site, You’re Missing Out

AB Testing Ecommerce Siste

If You’re Not A/B Testing Your Ecommerce Site, You’re Missing Out

There are plenty of strategies online retailers can implement on their ecommerce sites to increase sales. One of the simplest, yet most important, is A/B testing. 

With the number one goal of an ecommerce site being to bring in more sales, we know brands are dedicated to doing everything possible to improve a customer’s experience while on their website. Read on for a quick look at what A/B testing is and our recommended top five website variables to test to help drive more sales.

What is A/B Testing

Just to make sure we’re all on the same page, let’s take a quick look at what A/B testing is. Instead of reinventing the wheel, we’ll turn to our friends over at Shopify for a quick definition.

“A/B testing, sometimes referred to as split testing, is the process of comparing two versions of the same webpage, email, or other digital asset to determine which one performs better. “

A word of warning before we dive into our top A/B testing variable recommendations, A/B testing shouldn’t be rushed. We feel that’s important enough to say just once more, A/B testing shouldn’t be rushed. Productive and effective A/B testing is a continual process that incorporates a sufficient number of users to make a determination (Convertize provides a great walkthrough of how to determine your sample size). 

And, while we’re in warning mode, let’s also mention that just because something appears on another ecommerce site, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s working nor that it’ll work on your website. It’s great to see what other retailers are doing and use those ideas as “inspiration”, but you always need to test it with YOUR audience to determine if it’s the best option for your ecommerce site.

Now let’s dive into our A/B testing recommendations.

5 A/B Testing Variables for Ecommerce Site Quick Wins 

1) Placement of “Add to Cart/Bag” button on the product page

Like many A/B testing variables, just a slight difference in the placement of your “Add to Cart/Bag” button can have a huge impact on your ecommerce site’s conversion rate. Below are two examples of different  button placements, one on bebe.com and the other on JunkFoodClothing.com

Bebe has opted to place their “Add to Bag” button above the product details. Meanwhile Junk Food Clothing has placed theirs under the product description. This may not be something your website shoppers would ever notice or think about, however, it can have a significant impact on the number of clicks it receives.

bebe
JunkFood Clothing

2) Font color of call outs 

Let’s take a quick look below at examples we found on ShopJustice.com and Hurley.com

Justice has kept the font color of their pajama promotion consistent with their main brand font color. Hurley, however, has chosen a color that compliments their main brand colors. This strategy ensures the discount and the callout to be notified when the product is back in stock, are in a color that stands out from the other text on the product page. 

Justice Clothing
Hurley

3) Announcement/callouts to create a feeling of urgency

For this variable, let’s look at two very different examples. Bebe.com offers a pop up on their product page after a set amount of time notifying the website visitor how many other website visitors are considering that product. But they didn’t stop there, it also includes the fact product availability is limited. 

Meanwhile, TheFryeCompany.com includes a callout right under the product name. This callout alerts the shopper how many other shoppers have viewed that product in the last 24 hours. Before discovering the price, size availability or product description, the shopper is made aware of how popular the product is with other website visitors.

bebe
The Frye Company

4) Promo placement on homepage/callout through interior pages 

For this variant, we’ll take a look at Hurley.com again but also take a glance at CPG retailer, Silipint.com

Hurley’s Winter promotion is front and center on their homepage, giving the entire header image (aka prime real estate) to the promotion. Meanwhile, Silipint offers a pop up offer in exchange for an email address. Silipint is ready if the pop up is closed out without a submission, a persistent offer in the bottom left corner appears just in case the website visitor changes their mind.

Hurley
Silipint

5) Shop Now/Start Shopping button on homepage

Not every ecommerce site has a promotion running all the time, so we also need to look at ways a brand can test their homepage to push visitors to shopping quicker.

Taking a look below, you’ll see how Junk Food Clothing offers their navigation menu at the top of the page but also encourages website shoppers to checkout their newest selections. They not only include a “Shop Now” CTA (Call-To-Action), but also a headline encouraging shoppers to find something for themselves and add it to their cart ASAP (these folks clearly don’t feel the need to beat around the bush).

Meanwhile, KennethCole.com tries to get the right shopper down the right path as quickly as possible. Their homepage offers a “Shop Men’s Shoes” CTA as well as a “Shop Women’s Shoes” CTA. This could be a great variable to test to see which one leads to not only more items in cart, but also which leads to a higher number of actual purchases.

Junk Food Clothing
Kenneth Cole

And, as always, don’t forget to test these variables on mobile. With more and more shoppers visiting ecommerce sites from their mobile devices, it’s imperative to find what resonates best with that unique audience.

Markets change. Consumer buying habits change. Competitors’ strategies change. It can be difficult for brands to keep up with it all. However, by implementing A/B testing on your ecommerce site, you not only decrease your risk of falling behind the changes, but increase your ability to stay ahead of the changes. And for more on optimizing your product pages, check out “How to Optimize Your Product Pages for More Sales”.

Increase online sales with personalized experiences

Personalized Experiences

Increase online sales with personalized experiences

There are thousands, if not millions, of technologies available for direct-to-consumer (DTC) ecommerce brands. Just check out Shopify’s App Store for a glimpse into some of the 6,000+ apps they currently have available. 

This article was initially supposed to focus on the top technologies we believe DTC ecommerce retailers should incorporate into their business in order to increase sales. However, that plan quickly shifted once I started outlining the importance of creating a personalized experience for customers through technologies.  

This could no longer be just one part of an entire post. The overwhelming amount of data and information that surfaced while researching the topic made it very clear the topic deserved its own post. And I’m pretty sure that by the time you reach the end of this post (even if you just skim over it as, let’s be honest, we all typically do at least at first), you’ll agree.

While we won’t be going into specific technologies, we will be covering why DTC ecommerce brands need to prioritize creating personalized experiences for their customers, how they can do it and some of the obstacles that exist as well as how brands can overcome the challenges created by those obstacles.

Why You Need to Prioritize Personalizing Customer Experiences

We know this is not a new concept. We’re not the geniuses who suddenly uncovered a pain point online retailers aren’t aware of, let’s just get that out of the way now. However, knowing it exists is not the same as knowing how to solve it. Nor does it mean brands know how important it can be to growing a brand and increasing sales.

Even though we are all aware of the pain point, we also all still experience it as a consumer on a regular basis. The generic pop up on websites we’ve shopped at before. Receiving the garden-variety emails where it’s clear you were dumped into an audience with a bunch of other people who, at some point in time, made a purchase from a retailer. No personalization whatsoever.

So what are the consequences of that kind of customer experience?

By no means does it mean you’re going to lose all your customers and never make a profit. However, it does mean you may be missing out on potential purchases from 78% of your audience. You could also be missing out on the opportunity to increase your current conversion rate. 

TrustPilot found a brand’s online conversion rate can improve by 8% just by offering personalized experiences on their website. TrustPilot also found 74% of consumers surveyed get frustrated by content that isn’t relevant to their lives (we can also understand what that feels like can’t we?).

There are over 9.1 million online retailers in the world, 2.5 million of which are in the US. Your shoppers have options. If they have a poor experience on your site or receive a generic email that doesn’t reflect them as a person, they have plenty of other places they can visit. So how do you make your brand stand out and show customers how valuable they are?

How You Can Create a Personalized Experience for Your Shoppers

DTC ecommerce brands need to make sure every part of their customer’s journey (whether in-person, on the phone or online) is all about THE CUSTOMER. This is going to take some time and effort. Just like any relationship you have, whether it’s with a significant other, friend, family member, etc, you’ve got to put in the effort to make it work and make it last.

By combining data stored in your customer relationship management (CRM) tool, marketing automation tools and transactional systems, you can get a pretty good idea of who your customers are. Digging into the data can unearth what they like, what they don’t like, how much they tend to spend, where they live, what language they speak, how they prefer to pay and so much more. The possibilities of what you can do with that information are virtually endless. 

Personalized Customer Experiences

Let’s take your buyer’s location as an example. Anyone who’s lived in Southern California knows there is hardly ever, if ever, a need for a true winter coat. While locals might love the way they look and want one because it’s trendy in February, the need is not that high. However, your customer who lives in Michigan, where the wind chill is enough to make anyone want to stay indoors for three months, needs and WANTS a great winter coat. 

So when you have extras of those great winter coats sitting in a warehouse or winter is coming to an end and you’re ready to bring in the spring and summer styles, why not start promoting discounts on your great winter coats to your Michigan customers? Use a catchy subject line about not packing away their winter clothes just yet, they’re missing next year’s most important piece. Tie in your knowledge of them and their experiences to get that sale.

You can also go even deeper into your data to make sure you don’t accidentally create a poor customer experience in an attempt to create a positive one. For example, you know your customer has purchased a certain style of jeans multiple times. Unfortunately, though, that particular style is going to be discontinued. You think it would be great to notify customers who have purchased this style about its future discontinuation so they can purchase some before it’s too late. And that IS a great idea! Unless you only have sizes XS and XXL available and you notify customers who always purchase a M. They get the email, they click on the link, and they find they’re size isn’t even available.

Just think of that experience, it’s cringe worthy! A customer being notified of a product they love being discontinued isn’t great news but they appreciate you telling them. However, you’ve not only told them too late but you just showcased how little you know about them. Even though you have all the data you need! Instead, make sure your team is taking that extra step to create a truly personalized experience. 

Obstacles to Overcome When Creating Personalized Customer Experiences

This post wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t acknowledge that there are, unfortunately, obstacles to obtaining all the right data needed to create spectacular customer experiences. Telling you all these great things you can do with data you don’t have is, well, it’s just plain rude.

Let’s talk about tools needed to collect, store and utilize data. According to Forrester, 53% of digital experience delivery professionals they polled stated they lacked the right technology to personalize experiences. While technology is an investment, the ROI on investing in the right technology could be exponential (notice how we specific the RIGHT technology). 

Make sure your team is taking the time to do their research and test out as many technologies as possible to ensure you’re investing in the right one for your needs and desired results. What kind of integrations do they offer? Can one tool fulfill multiple needs? Can multiple teams benefit from it? Identify your goals before setting out on any attempt to purchase tools for your team, otherwise you’ll end up right where you started. Just with less of a budget available.

Now to the biggest hurdle, actually GETTING the data you need without violating privacy laws. As more and more avenues pop up protecting consumer data, the more brands need to discover new ways to collect data. But don’t despair, there are plenty of ways you can collect the data you need (and sometimes they offer even better value than the old ways)!

Try incorporating a loyalty program. By offering discounts or birthday specials, you give shoppers a reason to want to hand over their information. If they get value from it they’ll be willing to provide things like gender, date of birth, location, etc. 

Another option is to experiment with offering a newsletter subscription. Choose a cadence you can commit to (monthly, quarterly, etc.) and make sure you deliver quality content that is relevant to the audience receiving it. If you offer household goods, give spring cleaning tips when April rolls around. If you’re selling women’s clothing, highlight upcoming trends (that you just happen to offer, of course). Consumers are willing to provide their information in return for something they find valuable. 

An added benefit of a newsletter subscription is that it offers the potential of a broader audience. Consumers who aren’t sure they’ll buy from a brand are less likely to sign up for a loyalty program. However, if they’ve made it to your site they more than likely have some interest in what you offer and, therefore, have an increased likelihood of finding a newsletter with related content of interest. You may even, at some point, be able to offer various newsletters on different topics. You can allow subscribers options of which topics they’d like to receive newsletters about, creating, yet another, personalized experience.

It’s time to get personal on your website. Everyone wants to feel seen and valued, even when they’re sitting at a computer shopping online. And stay tuned for the next in our ecommerce technologies series to learn even more about ways you can improve your DTC ecommerce website.

Celebrity Collaborations Brought Big Wins in 2021

Celebrity Collaborations

Celebrity Collaborations Brought Big Wins in 2021

Brands took full advantage of the power the right celebrity collaboration can offer in 2021. We saw some returning stars as well as some new pairings. From coffee to shoes to diamonds, it seems like everyone is jumping on the celebrity collaboration band wagon. And we are here for it.

It’s clear to see why brands are collaborating with celebrities more and more each year. According to Morning Consult, 40% of the Gen Z population said they would be more likely to go to a fast-casual establishment if it was endorsed by a celebrity. Considering Gen Zers account for approximately 30% of the population, that 40% isn’t a number that can be ignored.

However, we can’t forget that people (aka consumers) also tend to have short memories. Morning Consult also found only about 16% of those surveyed were able to match a celebrity with the brand they’d worked with. This means brands have to continue to innovate and, at times, reimagine their current and/or future celebrity collaborations.

Let’s take a quick look at five celebrity collaborations we saw win big in 2021:

Tiffany & Co. + Beyonce and JayZ

Tiffany & Co. has been working to appeal to the key demographic, Gen Z, and what better way to do that than with an appearance by the Queen Bey herself, Beyonce (and yes, JayZ was there too). This wasn’t Tiffany’s only attempt to attract a younger audience, they recently launched their marketing campaign “Not Your Mother’s Tiffany’s” to bring the spotlight on themselves and gain attention from more Gen Zers. But we digress, let’s get back to Beyonce.

Notably, Tiffany’s “About Love” collection marks the first time Beyonce and JayZ have appeared in a campaign together. And Tiffany’s didn’t hold back when it came to the promotion of the collection. They released a video campaign with the same name as the collection that featured the couple and included Beyonce singing a cover of “Moon River” (made famous in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” for those too young to know the reference). 

Check out the video below to see how well this video not only showcases Beyonce’s vocals but also gives us a glimpse into Beyonce and JayZ’s relationship and love for one another. Oh, and of course, the stunning jewelry.

Adidas + Beyonce

We already know Beyonce’s amazing vocal range, but now we’re going to take a look at how far her style and celebrity range is. From 128 carat diamonds to leisure wear, Beyonce can fit right in with both audiences.

In February 2021 she launched her third Ivy Park collection with Adidas, Icy Park. What makes this collaboration unique is that Beyonce actually owns the Ivy Park brand (because there’s nothing Beyonce can’t do apparently). The collection was announced just weeks before its release and was completely sold out in days.

While a celebrity being part of a brand is a huge selling point, it was more than just Beyonce’s name and face that made this collaboration so successful. Both Adidas and Beyonce share a commitment to creativity, equity and creators. According to Adidas, the relationship is based around a “set of core principles including the importance of women in leadership, shared ownership, empowerment, and collaboration.” 

Adidas Collab with Beyonce

Crocs + Justin Bieber

Yes, you read that correctly if you didn’t already know. 2021 saw a second collaboration between the rubber clogs manufacturer and singer. This time Crocs released a Classic Clog in lavender (Justin’s favorite color, there’s a whole story behind it) along with a pair of socks and Jibbitz charms.

This 2021 celebrity collaboration really showcased the unmatched impact of digital promotion of a celebrity collaboration. Launchmetrics tracked online and social activity from March to July 2021 and found placements that mentioned the collaboration generated $6.6M in Media Impact Value™ (a Launchmetrics algorithm that associates a monetary value to posts, articles and interactions). Additionally, Justin Bieber’s participation contributed to $1.6M in Media Impact Value overall. 

Crocs and Justin Bieber

Reebok + Cardi B

The collaboration between Reebok and Cardi B started in 2019 and has been going strong ever since. Their latest collection was released in August 2021 and was described as “a visual representation of Cardi B’s real, raw persona.”

One of the key factors that has made this collaboration a success (besides having Cardi B a part of it) is the inclusivity the collections offer. The Cardi B collections are available in inclusive colors, materials and sizes that range from 2XS to 4X so all Cardi B fans can enjoy.

This collaboration also showcases the power of partnering with a celebrity. One example is the fact that one of the shoe styles part of Cardi B’s collection, the Club C, sold out in the US in under 30 minutes. 

A big contributor to this type of demand is the celebrity’s social media reach. According to a Social Studies Intelligence Report, Cardi B’s 2020 Instagram followers grew nearly 50% from 2019, adding more than 25 million followers. When it came to her collections with Reebok, Cardi B shared pictures of her wearing apparel from the collection and promoting the release. 

So how far can one post really reach? During a single week in October 2020, Cardi B shared 11 posts and experienced 40.82 million interactions to those posts. When choosing which celebrities to collaborate with, brands have to take into account the digital reach celebrities bring with them.

Cardi B

Dunkin’ Donuts + Charli D’Amelio

Fashion and apparel brands aren’t the only brands who see big results when collaborating with a celebrity. 

In Fall 2020, Dunkin’ Donuts partnered with Tik Tok star Charli D’Amelio to introduce “The Charli”, a cold brew with whole milk and three pumps of caramel, D’Amelio’s go-to order. In February 2021, Dunkin’ and D’Amelio partnered again and launched the “Charli Cold Foam”, “The Charli” with Sweet Cold Foam and cinnamon sugar on top.

So why the encore so soon? Well, because the launch of “The Charli” brought a 57% increase in mobile app downloads on the first day of its release. Additionally, the company sold hundreds of thousands of the beverage in the first five days of the launch. Reportedly boosting Dunkin’s cold brew sales by 20% on the first day and 45% the following day. 

With numbers like that, how could they not expand the collaboration? D’Amelio came into the collaboration with over 100 million Tik Tok followers, that’s an audience no brand can buy. 

Dunkin’ did a fantastic job not just relying on the promotion of “The Charli” from the Tik Tok star herself. D’Amelio promoted a contest through her Tik Tok account that allowed followers to enter for the chance to win their own signature drink on the menu at their local Dunkin’, along with a personalized video shoutout from D’Amelio.

But wait, there’s more! Dunkin’ also knows how important it is to consumers that brands they support are giving back. For their second collaboration, Dunkin’ committed to donate fifty cents for every “Charli Cold Foam” purchased during a specific two day period – up to $25,000- benefiting the Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation.  

The Charli

2021 brought us a number of surprises, including some surprise celebrity collaborations. But one thing remained consistent, brands partnering with the right celebrity can see big results. The power of a built-in audience and ability to create a collection for that audience is unmatched. We love seeing the unexpected collaborations, the collaborations that recognize the need for inclusivity and how brands can use their celebrity collaboration success to give back. We can’t wait to see what celebrity collaborations 2022 will bring us!

Top 5 Benefits of an End-to-End Ecommerce Solution

Ecommerce Solution

No matter if you’re a large retail organization that has experienced significant growth but have recently “hit a wall” or you’re a smaller brand that has great potential but don’t currently possess the headcount and/or talent needed to grow to the next level, a direct-to-consumer (DTC) ecommerce solution could be the solution you’re looking for.

But what exactly is a direct-to-consumer ecommerce solution? And how does it compare to a more traditional outsourced agency solution?  Below we’ll cover the difference between more traditional, old-school agencies and actual ecommerce solutions as well as outline what we believe are the top five benefits brands should look for in an ecommerce solution.

By doing so we’ll uncover which solution should be the right fit for your ecommerce business.

The Difference Between an Agency and a Solution 

Let’s first start with what sets an ecommerce solution apart from agency outsourcing since, at a cursory glance, the two can seem very similar. The main differentiator is that, when it comes to outsourcing to agencies, each agency works within a silo. Whichever agency is working to get people to your website is not always in communication with the agency managing your website and tracking online conversions. However the lines of communication are set-up, the results can often end up being a tangled mess. 

However, when utilizing an end-to-end direct-to-consumer ecommerce solution, you gain an entire team of ecommerce experts who are united in their goals, to help you grow your brand and increase your online sales. Additionally, they are in constant communication with one another to help accomplish these goals. Think of them as an integrated solution.

Top 5 Benefits Of an Ecommerce Solution

1. Best-in-Class Ecommerce Technology

There are plenty of website development agencies out there that can build you a beautiful website, but that’s basically where their expertise ends. The competition for online retailers is fierce, you need the benefits of technologies built specifically for direct-to-consumer ecommerce brands to help increase online sales. These include:

  • Insights to understand and optimize customer journeys
  • The ability to diagnose problems and implement solutions in real-time
  • Optimizing internal workflows and processes
  • Self-learning predictive analytics

2. Digital Marketing and Advertising

Saying a direct-to-consumer brand selling online needs to focus on their digital marketing and advertising may invoke a “Thank you Captain Obvious” response. And rightfully so. However, the fact that it’s obvious does not mean every agency out there promising to increase website visitors and sales actually knows what they’re doing.

Are they industry experts? How well do they understand the buying behaviors of your target audience? Do they have a full understanding of how ecommerce works along the entire journey? 

Just imagine a marketing agency putting more money into an ad group for a specific product because it’s performing well only for the website visitor who clicked on that ad to find that product is actually out of stock. Not only have you wasted your marketing spend but you may have just lost a potential customer forever.

When partnering with an ecommerce solution you get a cohesive team of experts who work together, no matter their department, to ensure your brands’ success.

Not only that, but more importantly, the ecommerce solutions provider’s profits might be tied directly to how well your brand succeeds. Incentive to perform is a great thing.

3. Brand Strategy

Your brand. That’s really what it’s all about, right? Consumers trust brands, they’re loyal to brands. Consumers buy FROM brands, not a store. Your brand strategy is, without a doubt, one of your most important initiatives. 

However, one of the biggest struggles brands experience is how to evolve and grow in a way that allows them to maintain their uniqueness all while avoiding becoming “stale”. No one wants to become the next Von Dutch, experiencing an explosion of global popularity before becoming a brand people have forgotten about.

Many brands have successfully maneuvered through changes in trends, economic ups and downs, even pandemics, and have managed to maintain their foothold in the market. How? With a partner who is as invested in their brand strategy as they are. A partner with R&D resources not available to most brands without a more hefty price tag. 

A true end-to-end ecommerce solution understands your success lies not just what buyers see when they open a website browser, but will also provide the resources to help you manage your brand strategy for growth. They will have access to resources, such as R&D related to their product/service, an individual brand typically would not.

4. Website Optimization

Those loyal customers we mentioned above, what will they see when they get to your ecommerce website? Are they going to have a positive experience with fast page loads? Will they be greeted with a navigation menu that makes it easy for them to find what they’re looking for? Is there a prominent “Add to Cart” button to help push them to a sale faster?

By partnering with a team of ecommerce experts who understand the value of your website and have a deep understanding of your buyer’s journey, you get a team that is continually working to optimize your website so it’s at peak performance at all times. 

To ensure website optimization, they will conduct A/B tests on various website elements to make sure the font colors, button placement, promotional banners and product descriptions are displayed in a way that maximizes conversion rates. By conducting regular site audits and testing on both desktop and mobile (never forgetting the power of a mobile device) you know your online shoppers are receiving the best user experience.

5. Warehouse Fulfillment

This benefit, while last on our list, isn’t last due to its lack of importance. In fact, we feel warehouse fulfillment is an often overlooked and critical benefit. While warehouse fulfillment is “behind the scenes” and not something a buyer probably ever even thinks about, it can have a massive impact (for better or worse) on the overall shopping experience.

This is another element that some retail brands may outsource. However, some of the headaches that may arise with outsourcing can be avoided when working with an end-to-end ecommerce solution (this being the second “end” in “end-to-end”, but we’re sure you knew that already). 

An ecommerce solution can offer a seamless connection between endless sub catalogs, end points, warehouses and stores. By providing direct communication between all the systems involved in the buying process, brands enjoy a streamlined process with no “hand off” until the packages are placed on a delivery truck. 

Whether inventory is low, out of stock or shipping may be delayed, teams and systems are communicating with each other so steps can be taken to ensure buyer expectations are met and they have a positive buying experience that encourages them to return.

And there you have our top five benefits of partnering with a direct-to-consumer ecommerce solution! There are many more benefits that brands can gain by this type of partnership, but we chose to focus on the ones we know, from experience, are the most valuable to brands of all industries and sizes. Utilizing a unified solution that scales with your brand can deepen your customer’s experiences and grow your online sales.

Top 4 Ecommerce Trends in 2022

Every new year brings excitement and new possibilities, and new year’s also bring new trends to the world of ecommerce. COVID-19 and the scarcity it has brought along with it has had a massive impact on online retailers, and brands need to stay relevant and up to date. We believe that these ecommerce trends will help you keep your foothold on your market in the coming year.

We’ve included our top four ecommerce trends to look for in 2022 below. These are definitely not the only trends to look out for in 2022, but we narrowed our list down to the four we feel will have the biggest impact on online retailers.

Increased AI Use

As an online retailer, you know the value of a personalized experience for your shoppers. In fact, Epsilon research indicates 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when they’re offered a personalized experience. But how do you create that personalized experience? Increasingly, retailers are turning to Artificial intelligence.

AI’s machine learning can do more than any number of human brains could possibly do for your retail website. With its constant collection of data and ability to group that data into meaningful segments, AI gives you what you need to create a more personalized experience for your shoppers.

Whether you’d like to serve up relevant promotions or encourage shoppers to pick up where they left off, or suggest an item that is complementary to one they have in their cart, AI can help provide the necessary data to make those determinations.

Highly Optimized Websites to Maximize Conversions

Just like fashion trends, online shoppers’ buying habits and behaviors change on a regular basis. Therefore, you need to routinely test your retail site to ensure it’s highly optimized to bring in as many conversions as possible.

The easiest way to do this? A/B testing. We’re not saying test out two different colors for an ‘Add to Cart’ button for a week and call it a day. If you really want to stay ahead, you need to be testing out various elements (headlines, font color, font size, button placement, layout, etc.) to find what combinations produce the best results with your shoppers.

There are easy-to-use tools available (Google Optimize, Optimizely, VWO to name just a few) that your team can utilize to start testing out various elements. However, since you don’t want to test multiple elements at the same time (how will you know what actually performed better?) you’ll want to continually test to find the overall best experience for your shoppers.

And then, when you add new features to your site, you’ll want to make sure you test them as well. Maybe you add on the ability to choose from various payment methods, you’ll want to make sure new and returning shoppers are aware of this. Test out where on the page layout you notify shoppers, what the font color is, at what point in the buying journey is it shared with them, etc.

Increase in Mobile Shopping

This has been a trend for the last few years and it isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. According to Statista.com, mobile shoppers accounted for 52.4% of ecommerce sales in 2016. Fast forward to 2021 and mobile shoppers accounted for 72.9% of ecommerce sales.

On one hand, yes, there are more mobile devices in more hands now. Everyone from teens to grandmothers probably owns at least one mobile device. However, in addition to the increase in devices, is the improvement in functionality on mobile devices.

Gone are the days of staring at your phone as the blue bar at the top slowly made its way from left to right as the page loaded (unless you’re in the middle of the desert with no reception). And the designers of mobile devices have done their research to find out what size and design people are most comfortable with and, therefore, more likely to use than their desktop. Not to mention increased consumer confidence regarding buying online as a result of the pandemic.

In order to keep up with the improved functionality of mobile devices, you need to make sure your retail site is mobile responsive. Click here to learn more about responsive web design and how it can affect the perception and performance of your brand.

Multiple Payment Options to Reduce Abandoned Shopping Carts

Have you been tracking your shopping cart abandonment rate? According to Truelist, the global average rate of cart abandonment is 75.6%. We’ll give you a second to read that again. 

We would also suggest tracking whether the shopper was on a mobile device or desktop because Truelist also reports the average abandonment rate on mobile phones is even higher at 85.65%. If you’re not already tracking your retail site’s cart abandonment rate it’s time you start.

While these statistics may seem staggering, one of the ecommerce trends we’ll see in 2022 is the increased availability of multiple payment options which can greatly influence your shopping cart abandonment rate. One of the major factors at play in this trend is the age of your audience, something else you should be tracking if you’re not already.

A survey by Paysafe found Gen Z shoppers vary their payment options more often than Gen X shoppers. In fact, when comparing each age demographic from Gen Z to Baby Boomers, Gen Z and Millennials were comparable in regards to awareness of alternative payment options. If your retail website caters to a Gen Z or Millennial audience, alternative payment methods may soon become a necessity to compete at all.

The most popular payment methods today are:

  • Google Pay
  • Apple Wallet
  • PayPal
  • Payoneer
  • Credit cards (traditional and contactless)
  • Stripe
  • Cryptocurrencies 

While we’re not claiming to be psychics, nor do we have a crystal ball giving us a glimpse of the future, we’re confident these are trends ecommerce brands will be seeing in 2022 and continue to be on the rise in the years to come. No one likes getting left behind, but when it comes to your retail website, you really need to keep up with these ecommerce trends. Because there’s a good chance your competitors will be.