What Are Common Issues with Social Media Marketing Plans? The Best Social Media Marketing Tips, Tricks, and Techniques to Build an Ecommerce Brand

social media marketing strategies for e-commerce

Social media is one of the essential promotional tools for ecommerce brands. It gives a chance for ecommerce businesses to share their story, reach new customers, and hopefully guide potential customers down their ecommerce marketing funnel

Social media platforms are constantly evolving. Some of the most popular platforms are virtually non-existent today (think, MySpace), while others seem to emerge out of nowhere and become the next big thing (think, TikTok). 

Leveraging social media paid and organic channels is imperative for ecom businesses to build an audience and increase ecommerce revenue. Fortunately, Jess McPhail, Nogin’s top Social Media Manager, dives into how ecommerce brands can use social media to grow their business and create positive customer experiences. Check out the full, Nogin Chats episode below:

Top 5 Social Media Marketing Strategies for Ecommerce

Whether you are a luxury ecommerce brand or starting a dropshipping brand from scratch, make sure to save Jess’ top 5 social media strategies to grow your ecom brand. 

1. Understand the Goals of the Social Media Platform You’re On

Every social media platform is different, but most algorithms reward content that keeps visitors ON the platform. For ecommerce businesses, this can be tricky because most of the time, we want to take them off the platform and get them shopping on the brand’s website. 

It’s also more challenging for brands to get data on their customers after the iOS update. If you want to run paid ads on social media platforms, understand that your reach will be lower, and the customer acquisition cost may be higher when you direct customers outside the social media platform. 

To reach customers and get the most ROAS on their paid efforts (if you aren’t familiar with that lingo, check out our top ecommerce KPIs guide), make sure to incorporate tantalizing offers to make it worth your viewers’ while to check out your store. Leverage scarcity and urgency to drive them to take action. 

Offer discount offers, use gated content to capture their contact info and continue communication through email, or use captivating product photography or leverage celebrity collaborations to make an impression. Experiment with old-school advertising strategies and product listing strategies to hook customers and get them to convert. 

At the same time, don’t saturate your social media presence with pure sales content. Incorporate compelling brand stories, testimonials, or fun posts for your audience to enjoy. Remember, people scrolling on social media want to be entertained, not sold. 

“The biggest challenge is understanding the goals of the social media platforms and seeing where they conflict with what we’re trying to do and then finding creative workarounds. The goal of any social platform is going to be to keep them on the platform. Our goal is to get them off the platform.” – Jess McPhail. 

2. Focus On Messaging and Connect With Your Customer

Social media allows brands to communicate with their customers directly. Having dedicated team members active across social media platforms to chat with customers, respond to comments, and interact with them can increase brand presence and equity. 

For instance, MESOA offers premium skin care products to men. They utilize TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to educate men on their products. For many cosmetics ecommerce brands, simply telling them some of the ingredients in their products and conveying the market superiority and differentiation is sometimes enough to make a sale. 

“I think the most important thing that most people don’t think of when they think of social media is messaging related, so getting into DMs, getting into comments, that is where you make real connections with your customers. The reason that brands struggle with it is because it’s hard to do it on a mass scale in a genuine way.” – Jess McPhail. 

3. Stay Active on the Top Three

Social media platforms all reward consistency. Brands will receive higher reach as they post regularly on social media platforms. Stay on top of your social media channels and subscribe to a social media management tool like Sendible to schedule and send posts to all your channels from one location. Also, make sure to respond to comments and interact with your audience. 

“The three top ones right now are Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. You’re going to get the most discovery on TikTok, and ad spend is probably a little bit better there right now too. Facebook ads used to be the gold standard, but now with the iOS updates, it’s really hard to target customers, so you’re seeing your return on investment that return is going down and investment going up.” – Jess McPhail. 

4. Follow the Kids

You can always count on the kids to know the next big thing. Younger generations will gravitate towards new, cool social media platforms months before older generations even know they exist. 

Actively research the latest ecommerce trends, and social media platforms teens and young adults are on. Although they may not have enough money to shop, it will indicate the next big platforms for advertisers to reach customers. Best of all, the newer the social media platform, the easier it is for brands to have higher reach, engagement, and affordable ad costs. 

“You have to follow the kids. It’s not just because the younger generations are spending that money, but it’s because if they’re going there, that will be the next thing, and then the older generations follow, the people with pocketbooks. In addition to that, it’s a more relevant space. It’s good to see what is relevant to the next generation because that’s your future customer; even if they’re not your customer right now, that’s your future customer. So knowing what is important to them, knowing what kind of content they like to consume is key to any brand that wants to survive.” -Jess McPhail.

5. Follow Your Competition

When it comes to business, it’s always important to monitor what the competitors in your space are doing. Whether it’s their marketing strategies or the keywords used for their product pages, brands can take the best approaches and incorporate them into their social media efforts. 

Follow your competitors on social media and monitor what posts receive the most shares, likes, and engagement. See what your competitors are doing and take the winning strategies and incorporate them into your social media strategy. 

“Research what other people in your space are doing. Follow your competition and see what’s hitting for them.” -Jess McPhail.

You Need Help Socializing?

Plug into our intelligent ecommerce platform to gain the tech and expertise you’ll need to reach your customers on social media. We have the tools and people to provide outstanding social media marketing to deliver a superior brand experience across the platforms that resonate with your target customers. 

If you are unfamiliar with Commerce as a Service (CaaS), learn why it’s the best option for mid-size ecommerce retailers to scale their business. Find out how you can compete with Amazon, what marketing automation is all about, and download part two of the Coresight Research report for free about the evolving state of ecommerce. 

If you want to check out more excellent ecommerce expert content, click on a link below to become an ecommerce master:

Ecommerce Fulfillment Solutions to Help Brands Increase Profitability

ecommerce fulfillment services

Fulfillment is one of the biggest challenges for ecommerce brands trying to scale their business. It’s almost impossible to compete with Amazon and their network of fulfillment centers that offer Prime members free, two-day shipping. Brands leveraging warehousing and fulfillment services struggle to maintain profitability due to storage, packaging, and fulfillment costs. They cannot offer free, two-day shipping to customers that don’t wholly eat into their profit margins. 

Nogin offers a better approach to fulfillment using a Commerce as a Service (CaaS) business model. Our omnichannel infrastructure and headless commerce platform allow our clients to connect all their efforts from one succinct dashboard intelligently. They gain the transparency and flexibility to view the entire scope of their operations. Machine learning and AI allow our clients to lower their marketing, operation, and fulfillment costs constantly. 

dropshipping-solutions

Our EDI software integration and 3PL ecommerce fulfillment solutions are the best scalable option to allow independent brands to stay in control of their business while gaining the tech, support, and infrastructure to grow their business. Hear from Henry Henderson, the Director at one of our Fulfillment Centers, on how Nogin solves common ecommerce fulfillment challenges and how our order fulfillment software works. 

Dropshipping and Fulfillment FAQs

Before we dive in, let us answer some of the most common questions concerning ecommerce fulfillment: 

What is a Fulfillment Center?

A fulfillment center is where companies send their inventory to a third-party logistics provider to handle the storage, packing, and fulfillment of orders placed for their ecommerce business. It is often larger than typical warehouses that an individual company would rent. 

What is Fulfillment in Ecommerce?

Fulfillment in ecommerce encompasses the entire process behind getting an order to a customer once it is placed online, including storing inventory, processing orders, picking and packing them, and shipping them to the customer’s address. 

How Do Fulfillment Centers Work?

Fulfillment centers handle every aspect of inventory management and allow brands to scale their business as they grow. Brands connect their ecommerce business platform with their fulfillment provider to coordinate efficient and seamless fulfillment. Fulfillment centers help reduce shipping costs and handle every aspect of inventory management, including picking, packing, and shipping.

Top Ecommerce Fulfillment Challenges and How to Conquer Them

Hear from Henry on how to solve common fulfillment challenges: 

Consistency

Brands must deliver consistent shipping and fulfillment to satisfy customers to provide positive customer experiences. It is one thing to bring customers down your ecommerce conversion funnel. Still, once they make a purchase, you must provide superior shipping solutions to avoid negative reviews. Your 3PL must also handle return solutions and transparent tracking of orders. 

“One of the biggest challenges is providing that consistency from a standpoint of predictability and service. As we work through that, that’s what we do, and that’s what we’re good at. That’s part of the thing we’re challenged with every day to be able to provide that predictability and consistency and providing service to the customer when they place the order.” -Henry Henderson.

Connecting Your Channels

Out of all the latest ecommerce trends, one of the most prevalent changes in the integration of omnichannel shopping. Brands must connect all their shopping channels, and leverage intelligent ecommerce software that maximizes customer data to deliver superior messaging that resonates with customers at every stage of the shopping experience.

“There’s ecommerce where the order is placed by the customer online, and then there’s the aspect of B2B like Macy’s and Nordstroms of the world, and then there’s another channel out there in the boutique fashion like a small mom and pop store that is taking a larger quantity than an ecom order or a little less than a big major retailer. Our ability to be able to service really all those channels is what differentiates us from a Nogin standpoint. We’re able to hook into those channels technology wise to be able to take the orders in all aspects and be able to provide the right information as it pertains to the shipping side of it because B2B is slightly different than the ecom world… Having that ability to provide that service to a brand is significant because there’s not a lot of technology out there that can do it… Nogin gives us a suite of being able to move product in different ways to drive revenue.” -Henry Henderson.

Focus on Customer Experience

Whether you are using traditional marketing strategies or experimenting with new customer retention strategies, brands must deliver a superior customer experience once someone makes a purchase. Amazon has set the standard, and shoppers expect fast shipping times, easy tracking, and responsive customer support if needed. Check out some of our go-to guides to help elevate your customer shopping experience below: 

“Amazon has set a standard across the board from the standpoint of ecommerce and fulfillment, and that is providing the best customer experience. My biggest piece of advice is to find a business partner that can help provide the best customer experience… From the time they place an order online to the time that they get it, it really has to be fast and efficient and cost effective, and I think that’s the biggest challenge.” -Henry Henderson.

Some Fun Before You Leave: Check Out Our Fulfillment Center Robots!

Now that you are a certified ecommerce fulfillment expert, thanks to Henry’s advice, check out another huge innovation in dropshipping and ecommerce fulfillment: robots! Learn how Nogin lowers shipping costs and improves fulfillment times thanks to our fulfillment center robots. 

Ready to Ship Smart?

If you need comprehensive ecommerce fulfillment along with the tech and ecommerce support to scale your business profitably, you need Nogin. Plug into our intelligent ecommerce platform to gain the tech and expertise you’ll need to deliver an omnichannel shopping experience that lowers fulfillment costs and customer acquisition. 

We also offer an enterprise-class fulfillment service for SMBs that deal primarily in the DTC world. SmartShip is an end-to-end fulfillment service That gives businesses the visibility to see the entire scope of their shipping operations from one intelligent dashboard. (Learn more about SmartShip.)

Shipping is one of the biggest profit killers for ecom brands. Learn how a Commerce as a Service (CaaS) business model solves profitability issues from the brand new Coresight Research report.

Ecommerce Merchandising Strategies From a Certified Expert

ecommerce merchandising strategies

Ecommerce merchandising isn’t as simple as just having products in stock. For an ecommerce business, the difference between great and subpar merchandising is the difference between excellent and poor conversion rates. Elevating your customer experience through advanced merchandising strategies will help your customers find the products they want and help your business increase average order values and revenue along with other essential ecommerce KPIs.

Most ecommerce strategists love to focus on the ecommerce conversion funnels, product listing strategies, and customer retention strategies they can use to entice visitors to purchase inventory and keep them coming back. Although all of those are crucial to an overall marketing strategy, the evolution of ecommerce has seen the rise of omnichannel experiences, machine learning, and the need for brands to create truly personalized user experiences through advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence. 

If independent brands want a chance to compete against big retailers like Amazon and the endless competition, they don’t need to work harder; they need to work smarter. Nogin offers omnichannel infrastructure and technology to all our partners. Our tech automatically deploys marketing campaigns based on customer data to create predictive commerce. 

Along with continuous research and development, our tech automatically deploys the most profitable tactics from each of our clients’ stores, so everyone wins. Along with lower shipping costs, increased ROAS, and ecommerce experts available to manage your store, brands can finally focus on doing what they do best: growing a brand. 

Hear from our Director of Buying, Merchandising, and Planning in Brand Management, Gaby Haffer, on the Nogin difference and the best merchandising tips you can use to grow your business. 

What is Ecommerce Merchandising?

Ecommerce merchandising encompasses how ecommerce businesses sell their products to visitors, including branding, images, and placement to increase customer engagement, satisfaction, and conversions. 

Brands should focus on merchandising to position their products in a natural way that entices customers to complete a purchase. It’s not only about how you display products but utilizing a compelling call to action, pop-ups, offers, browsing history, and other messages or sequences to keep customers engaged and on the path towards a purchase. 

At Nogin, we constantly A/B test different merchandising techniques across our brands to determine what works and what doesn’t. We can continuously run different merchandising strategies thanks to our tech’s machine learning and AI capabilities. Our platform automatically determines what works best and ditches merchandising approaches that don’t work. 

Our partners benefit from the information from other brands under the intelligent commerce suite, so your store will automatically implement the most effective merchandising techniques that convert customers and improve profit margins. 

Ecommerce Merchandising Trends

Ecommerce changes every day. Although utilizing traditional marketing strategies is essential, brands will need to invest in the tech and talent required to deliver a superior online shopping experience. 

Online customers expect convenient and personalized shopping experiences. Brands will need to integrate an omnichannel infrastructure to compete with online shoppers. Utilizing social media or PPC ads to convert a shopper into an impulse purchase is one thing but keeping them engaged and coming back is another challenge. 

Let’s discuss some of the top ecommerce merchandising trends and how your brand can evolve with the times. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

We are just at the beginning of the AI revolution in ecommerce. Brands will have to leverage AI tech to elevate their stores. Brands integrated on an intelligent commerce platform with AI and machine learning capabilities will deploy the most effective product page optimization and user experience strategies that automatically show personalized product recommendations, offerings, and experiences that convert customers. 

Headless Inventory

Headless commerce platforms offer many advantages to ecommerce brands, but one of the biggest is headless inventory management. Headless inventory management analyzes inventory data and transactions across a brand’s omnichannel network to inform buying and merchandising decisions. 

Personalization

Creating a personalized experience is essential to connect with customers and increase sales. For a truly personalized experience, brands must utilize an omnichannel platform that integrates all their channels to collect data on which customers are engaged and where and how to reach them best. Messaging to a new customer versus a loyal, frequent shopper is much different. 

Intelligent commerce collects customer data on all parts of the user journey. Using machine learning and AI integrated into your website and all other customer touch points allows brands to deploy curated and unique messaging tailored to each customer. 

Whether it’s a particular Facebook ad they viewed, a PPC ad they clicked, or a blog they read, our advanced ecommerce software takes that information. It automatically implements effective messaging to continue to drive customers down their marketing funnel towards a conversion. 

Ecommerce Merchandising Challenges

Brands can face several tough challenges when it comes to online merchandising. Gaby Haffer, Nogin’s Director of Buying, Merchandising, and Planning in Brand Management, lists her top three ecommerce merchandising challenges. 

1. No Physical Stores

One of the biggest challenges, especially for apparel brands, is that customers can’t try out or try on products before purchasing them. A fundamental obstacle for an ecommerce brand is building trust with visitors. Many luxury ecommerce brands will rent a physical store to create tangible brand experiences or pursue celebrity collaborations. Ecommerce brands must have the right content, testimonials, and marketing collateral to entice visitors and lower their action threshold to complete an online purchase. 

By utilizing an omnichannel system to reach customers at the right time, nurture them down your funnel, and leverage smart data to elevate their shopping experience, brands can develop a viable connection and enlist loyal brand enthusiasts using intelligent commerce. 

Gaby Haffer expands on this fundamental challenge, noting, “I think one of the most challenging parts of our jobs in an ecom business is that we don’t have any physical stores for our brand. So that makes it a little bit more challenging because the customer is not really able to go into one of our stores, touch the product, feel the product, and really fall in love. For us (Justice), the customer is a 10-year-old girl, so the nagging factor is very important where she makes sure that her mom buys her what she wants. Without having a store, it’s a little harder to build some of that loyalty we have. Nogin is very helpful because we are able to use our blog to communicate our mission statement, and we’re able to communicate our fit through our platform. The photography we use definitely uses a diverse customer so that every girl can see herself wearing our product.”

2. Affordable Shipping and Average Order Value (AOV)

Shipping is always a costly challenge to conquer in ecommerce. Amazon is big enough and has the infrastructure to support fast shipping solutions for customers. Prime items are eligible for free, two-day shipping, and they’ve scaled to a level where expenses still result in profitable outcomes. 

Unfortunately, many mid-size brands must leverage 3pl fulfillment or dropshipping companies. It is not only expensive but often, holes and inefficiencies drive up costs. Not to mention, affordable free shipping is rarely a tangible option. Brands also need to try to increase average order values to receive workable margins. If customers purchase $5-10 products, brands can’t afford to ship them out for $2-3. 

Gaby expands on the issue of fulfillment, mentioning, “One of the biggest profit killers for ecommerce business is shipping. Obviously, with the state of the world, shipping is just more and more expensive. The good news is that the Nogin venture has so many brands that they service and partner with that we can use those mass scales to definitely get the best rate out there for shipping.”

Nogin has several fulfillment centers, the omnichannel infrastructure, and tech to deliver affordable shipping costs to our partners. Brands on our headless platform are plugged into our 3pl EDI software integration. Our tech uses machine learning and AI to optimize shipping coordination to lower costs and maximize profitability continuously. 

Agility

Many independent ecommerce retailers are stuck when it comes to tech. The enterprise solutions are expensive, inflexible, and require manual specialist oversight to execute tasks. Nogin offers the agility of smaller shops with the enterprise capabilities brands need. Our team and tech make it a breeze to implement new promotions, shift categories, and handle all things merchandising efficiently. 

Gaby expands, saying, “I think in the retail sector, agility is key, and what I think Nogin’s technology does better is offer us the agility to make changes in real time, and that has been a real blessing for us. For example, we are able to change a promotion in real time. We are able to change pricing if we see some things that aren’t right. And that really has helped us. Also, within merchandising, we are able to merchandise by choice as opposed by the entire style, which has also been very helpful to really drive better results.”

Ecommerce Merchandising Tips and Best Practices

Here’s a quick list you can save that details our expert ecommerce merchandising tips:

  • Invest in Intelligent Browsing Solutions: Make it easy for your customers to find products that align with their customer data using modern site search solutions. Invest in modern autocomplete and Natural Language Processing (NLP) algorithms.
  • Use Omnichannel Infrastructure: Migrate on an omnichannel system that continuously uses customer data to deliver products and a personalized brand experience for each customer. 
  • Save Returning Visitor Products: Have previous visitors view their browsing history and list recently viewed items when they come back to your online shop. 
  • Geolocation Capabilities: Utilize visitor IP addresses to offer personalized offers based on customer data. You can also use geolocation to show products applicable to their environment. For instance, displaying winter jackets and beanies to visitors browsing your website from Canada in November.
  • UTM Parameters: Personalize landing pages by establishing UTM parameters to segment traffic based on customer behavior. 
  • Dynamic Pricing: Plug into intelligent software that can intuitively display dynamic pricing to beat competitors and increase conversion rates. 
  • Filters and Faceted Search: Break down and filter results into manageable subcategories that allow customers to find the products they want faster and easier. 

Learn More About Nogin’s Intelligent Commerce Suite

Plug into our intelligent ecommerce platform to gain the tech and expertise you’ll need to deliver an optimal merchandising experience to your customers. Learn more about the proven research behind Commerce as a Service (CaaS) and why it’s the best option for mid-size ecommerce retailers to scale their business. Download Part two of the Coresight Research report for free to learn how to solve profitability issues in ecommerce. 

Ecommerce Marketing Automation Software and Services: Why It’s Essential

ecommerce marketing automation

The evolution of ecommerce has accelerated rapidly. The post coronavirus ecommerce marketplace is exciting. Many brands have shifted their focus from physical to online storefronts to sell their products and reach their audience. eMarketer estimates that the global ecommerce market generated $4.89 trillion in 2021. In 2019, online purchases comprised only 13.6% of sales, but in 2021, 19.5% of sales were generated online (a 48.5% increase). 

As consumers continue to shift to online marketplaces to buy anything from a new Kindle to groceries, many businesses are lost on how to capitalize on the shift or even where to start. A brand may know the ins and outs of selling their products from a mall storefront but coordinating 3pl fulfillment, mobile responsive website design, or EDI software integration can sound like a foreign language. 

Digital Marketing: Where to Begin?

Perhaps the biggest challenge for most businesses is online marketing. Social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Snapchat are powerful tools ecommerce businesses use to reach their target audience. Google PPC campaigns help brands connect with their ideal customers based on the keywords users enter in search engines. 

Although brands can still leverage traditional marketing strategies, many companies still want to utilize the latest marketing analytics to guide their advertising campaigns. Platforms like Facebook and Google analyze user data through cross-site tracking and third-party cookies to guide campaign targeting. However, the new iOS 14 update adjusted the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) policy, allowing users to choose whether or not they want to share their personal data with advertisers. 

Businesses will have to get smarter with their marketing efforts, and marketing automation is the ultimate solution. Marketing automation is one of the fastest-growing technologies, and it has become more practical for small or medium-sized businesses. Marketing automation technology shows a 14% compounded annual growth rate over the next five years and solves dozens of challenging ecommerce problems. 

There are many ecommerce business platforms to use, but if you want the best marketing automation software and marketing automation software, an intelligent commerce solution is the best option for independent brands. Part of our Commerce as a Solution (CaaS) infrastructure is the world’s first multichannel automation tool. It helps create better customer experiences through automated campaign management, machine learning, and A/B testing. It will help with customer retention and reaching your ecommerce KPI goals. 

Let’s discuss the ins and outs of marketing automation, how it works, why it’s essential, the benefits, and why you’ll need it to stay competitive in your retail space. 

What is Marketing Automation?

what-is-marketing-automation

Marketing automation uses automated messages and workflows from email, web, social, and text touchpoints. Marketing automation saves time and money while increasing both revenues and maximizing your marketing efforts. 

Marketing automation is ideal for helping businesses scale, but it also helps create more personalized marketing experiences while increasing the overall ROI of your campaigns. Brands can streamline and automate marketing efforts while gathering rich segments of data. Excellent marketing automation software automatically assesses and refines campaigns based on data collected. 

Automated marketing will segment audiences to create ideal nurture sequences to increase lead generation. Coupled with an ideal ecommerce marketing funnel and product listing strategies, brands can expect better marketing returns and more conversions from their customers. 

How Marketing Automation Works

Marketing automation starts by collecting data across your various marketing channels, including email, website visits, social media interactions, or app engagement. Once enough data is collected, your marketing automation software will begin to analyze the data and segment audiences based on how they interacted with your content or how they fit within your ideal marketing profiles. The software will deploy customized messaging tailored to each customer across your marketing channels with supreme efficiency. 

Partners on the Nogin intelligent commerce suite leverage our multichannel marketing automation tool that maximizes returns based on their goals and budget. Our software integrates with Shopify and other ecommerce platforms and uses intelligent campaign management. It combines real-time and historical inventory, sales, and traffic data to maximize sales and customer acquisition. 

Our proprietary marketing automation tool uses continuous testing and machine learning to automatically refine your social and paid media campaigns. The software analyzes consumer behavior and shopping interactions to execute optimal campaigns that maximize conversions and marketing returns without the need for an expensive marketing team. The intuitive dashboard makes it simple for partners to view their campaigns without any marketing expertise. Simply put, it’s your own supercharged marketing agency without the conflated costs and errors. 

Workflow Marketing Automation

Marketing automation uses workflows that automate manual tasks based on the conditions and criteria the marketing manager sets. For example, suppose a visitor performs a specific task such as downloading an ebook or clicking on a link. In that case, a workflow can automatically perform a response based on the action, such as sending a follow-up email. 

Workflows use the touchpoints in the brand’s marketing funnel to trigger an action that coordinates with the user’s behavior. Marketing automation is effective because it can test various follow-up actions based on the conditions and refine the sequence that reflects the campaign’s most effective results. 

Why Marketing Automation is Important

Marketing automation is essential because it allows brands to quickly scale their business and execute highly effective campaigns without an expensive marketing agency. Most brands have to outsource their marketing, which means they have to pay for the marketing budget fueling their PPC and social media ads and the agency overseeing and managing their campaigns. There is also a learning curve for marketing agencies to learn about their client’s industry and the ideal way to reach their audience. 

Marketing automation software leaves out the guesswork. Brands can integrate our intelligent commerce suite directly with their Shopify or ecommerce shop. It will automatically run an AI-powered marketing audit to assess the client’s industry and, using statistical modeling and machine learning, develop the most effective marketing campaigns. The powerful marketing tool runs hundreds of test campaigns to determine the most effective advertisements to reach your customers while boosting your conversions and lowering your marketing costs.

Cut the expensive costs of a marketing agency while maximizing your budget using advertisements you know will work. Use your Nogin and more effectively run:

  • Email marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • PPC advertising
  • Lead generation 
  • Website personalization
  • Audience segmentation 
  • Cross-channel marketing campaigns

Is Marketing Automation Easy to Use?

Marketing automation is effortless to use. You can create campaigns from your marketing dashboard. After the automatic marketing audit, all you have to do is specify your budget, and the campaign automation tool does the rest. It will assess your brand’s current marketing spend and returns to determine the best growth opportunities. 

Brands can also plug in their specific growth goals, and our marketing automation tool will use predictive analytics to determine the budget needed to meet them. It uses cross-references of historical revenue to generate a customizable campaign calendar that will meet your monthly revenue goals. 

Schedule promotions and adjust your campaigns based on recommendations that align with your goals. Our tool creates assets across your multiple ad channels, which are deployed automatically. Our intelligent commerce suite tests your campaign tactics and adjusts your plan based on the data to refine your marketing collateral until it is a conversion-generating machine. 

Simply put, Nogin’s intelligent commerce suite is like having a marketing agency work for you 24/7 without human error. Increase conversions, maximize your marketing dollars and do it at a fraction of the cost of a traditional marketing agency. 

Can Small Businesses Use Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation is the best option for small businesses. It is an effective way to produce effective marketing advertisements across advertising channels that don’t drain too much time, money, and other resources. 

Some of the top reasons small businesses should use marketing automation include:

  • Build rapport and trust with your audience. More personalized messaging and workflow sequences that align with visitor interests develop stronger relationships.
  • Keep potential customers engaged and increase the likelihood of future conversions. Workflows with follow-up sequences can encourage visitors with abandoned shopping carts and keep users in your sales funnel. Automated reminders, exclusive offerings, and other tactics will help facilitate site transactions. 
  • Advanced analytics and machine learning better track customer journeys. Syncing your marketing channels into your marketing automation software allows brands a complete view of their customer journeys. From your dashboard, you can easily access how long your customers interact on your site, what landing pages lead to higher conversions, what keywords drive clicks, and other crucial information to lead to better marketing ROI. 

Benefits of Marketing Automation

There are numerous benefits of marketing automation. Let’s discuss the five biggest benefits and why you should invest sooner rather than later.

benefits of marketing automation

1. Better, More Personalized Customer Journeys

Marketing automation allows brands to tailor their customer journeys to fit each visitor. By utilizing workflows and customer data, brands can engage users with content and offers that maximize conversion opportunities. Automatically generate ideal product recommendations for each user and reach individuals with content that resonates with them at each stage of their journey. 

Marketing automation uses retail pricing strategies, retail markdown strategies, and other pricing tactics without actively adjusting your campaigns. Customers will receive relevant content at the right time through omnichannel touchpoints integrated directly into your storefront. Visitors will automatically receive the right correspondence from mobile messaging, emails, push notifications, group messages, and more to convert prospects into loyal customers. 

2. Free Up Internal Marketing Resources

Marketing automation allows brands to free up internal marketing resources. Automated tasks mean that marketers don’t have to spend hours creating, testing, and executing campaigns. Brands can create their campaign goals, budget, and workflows and let their marketing software do the rest. 

Machine learning and artificial intelligence will analyze the data for you and generate ideal test campaigns. Once workflows and campaigns are tested, your marketing automation platform will refine them until they generate maximum results to meet your ecommerce KPIs. 

3. Limit Marketing Inefficiencies and Get the Most Out of Your Budget

Automated workflows based on specific criteria of customer interactions ensure your marketing messaging resonates with each visitor. Marketing automation uses buyer personas and omnichannel messaging to create personalized communication at each stage of your conversion funnel. 

Your staff will no longer have to review touchpoints and parse through dense marketing data manually. AI and machine learning will ensure your marketing is the best it can be while boosting your bottom line. 

4. Track User Engagement and Deliver the Right Content at the Right Time

Digital marketing automation software tracks user engagement across your marketing funnel. You’ll be able to capture, manage, and assess leads and implement marketing messaging based on their engagement. Machine learning will determine all your marketing touchpoints and processes and deliver the ideal content at the right time to increase the chances of conversions. 

You can also use retargeting and recirculation to engage with consumers hovering around in your funnel. 97% of visitors leave without buying anything or returning to a website, but retargeting helps continue the conversation. Retargeting ads receive 10-times higher CTR than regular display ads, and retargeting can increase conversions by almost 150%. Marketing automation is the easiest way to launch retargeting campaigns and the most effective. 

5. Better Qualified Leads

Finding qualified leads is the biggest goal of marketing, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. 37% of marketers cite budget restrictions limiting their ability to create an efficient marketing automation strategy, and 61% of B2B marketers claim the acquisition of highly qualified leads is their biggest challenge. 

Marketing automation is a scalable solution to lockdown qualified leads and gain conversions through personalized offers, content, and interactions. Delivering the right messages at the right times through the proper channels based on segmentation and machine learning ensures your online storefront becomes a magnet for qualified leads. 

When Is The Right Time to Invest in Marketing Automation?

There is no better time than now to invest in marketing automation but to make sure you are set up for success, follow our quick checklist:

  • You have mapped out your ideal marketing funnel. 
  • You have optimized landing pages following SEO best practices.
  • You have informative, long-form content that qualifies leads and builds rapport and trust with your readers. 
  • You are struggling to capture qualified leads. 
  • Your marketing resources are exhausted and costing too much money. 
  • You are spending too much time on tedious and repetitive marketing tasks. 
  • You have comprehensive marketing channels set up, including email, content, social, and PPC accounts. 

How Do I Choose the Best Marketing Automation Solution for My Ecommerce Business?

ecommerce marketing automation software

Nogin is your ecommerce partner that offers comprehensive enterprise solutions. We offer superior ecommerce talent combined with a full-stack ecommerce platform that includes R&D, sales optimization, and machine learning, along with artificial intelligence-driven marketing and fulfillment. Known for helping global brands keep pace with big retail and drive predictable profitability, Nogin gets brands to be world-class and profitable within 90 days of putting them on their platform. 

We’ve helped notable brands, including Honeywell, Hurley, Bebe, Justice, ModCloth, and Kenneth Cole, not only meet their goals but exceed expectations in all facets of their ecommerce business operations. 

Soon, we will offer new marketing apps for smaller businesses to leverage our intelligence commerce to drive exponential results, including: 

  • Ship Genius: Intelligent ecommerce order storage and fulfillment.
  • Smart Payments: Customizable subscription and dynamic pricing options to boost sales.
  • Nogin X: The world’s first multichannel marketing automation tool. Automate and optimize your marketing campaigns at the click of a button. Integrate Nogin X with your Shopify shop and access real-time and historical inventory, sales, and traffic data to craft advertising campaigns that maximize sales and customer acquisition. 

In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about partnering with our company of ecommerce experts (AKA, Nogin Nerds), contact us to see if you qualify for a free consultation and site audit. We will come up with a game-winning ecommerce strategy to increase revenue and lower internal operating costs. Take the headache out of ecommerce and use your Nogin. 

How is Amazon Beating the Competition and How Your Brand Can Finally Take the Lead

How can retailers compete with amazon

Before we talk about Nogin, let’s talk about Amazon. You may have heard of them. Started by a guy named Jeff Bezos who wanted to sell books online. Ecommerce has become a standard for many American consumers, but back in 1994, when Amazon started, the idea of buying something over a cumbersome computing device that beeps and boops when you start it was about as alien a concept as civilian space travel. 

It turns out that more than a couple of decades later, ecommerce has become a norm for American consumers. Today, you can purchase just about anything online, from groceries to household appliances to anything that can be shipped in a box. Oh, and the same guy who started Amazon has since retired and become a civilian astronaut who likes to wear cowboy hats. Welcome to the 2020s.  

How is Amazon Beating the Competition and Who Can Stop Them?

Just as Walmart drove out Mom and Pop businesses throughout the country during their rise to brick-and-mortar dominance, Amazon has become a seamlessly unstoppable force in the ecommerce world. They may not have a technical monopoly on selling goods online, but their monolith business has virtually every advantage over independent brands trying to scale and grow their ecommerce business. 

Amazon and its third-party merchants encompass 43.5% of digital spending in the United States in 2021, an increase from 41.8% in 2020. Unfortunately, their dominance will most likely continue to grow as the decade progresses. Independent retailers operating on their own cannot match the convenience or prices Amazon offers. Since they have fulfillment centers across the country, they can offer free, two-day shipping at affordable rates for both their merchants and customers. They have billions invested in research and development to ensure they integrate the latest ecommerce technology to make their shopping experience optimal for their customers. 

Although customers enjoy the Amazon shopping experience, merchants and sellers are beholden to Amazon’s exorbitant referral, seller, FBA, and shipping fees. Although sellers may sell a ton of inventory on Amazon’s marketplace, the retailers rarely win. Amazon’s referral fees range from 6-45%, along with other expenses like their 3pl fulfillment that shrink their profit margins to a fraction of what they could be. 

How Can Retailers Compete? The Problem With Staying Independent and Growing an Ecommerce Brand

Independent online brands have been between a rock and a hard place for too long. If they sell independently on their website, they must manage their inventory, hire ecommerce experts to oversee marketing efforts, purchase expensive SaaS, find a practical fulfillment solution, invest in research and development, and manage the countless other tasks needed to run an online brand successfully. 

Operating a simple Shopify website can be profitable and scalable when brands are smaller. They can steadily make a name for themselves and target their consumers with ads or invest in PPC campaigns to drive customers to their websites. They may waste money along the way to test campaign strategies and connect with their ideal customers, but as long as they are mindful of costs, they can steadily grow their brand and lower acquisition costs. However, once many independent brands reach the $1-2 million annual revenue mark, they are faced with a grim reality. They can not maintain profitability.

Independent brands handling their own online marketplace face numerous challenges that destroy their margins, so they can never make it to the next level. They are forced to utilize inflexible, slow, and expensive enterprise systems, such as Salesforce and Magneto. They must not only license the SaaS but hire dedicated specialists to use the costly tool and hope they do a good job. 

Often, independent brands don’t have the budget to purchase the SaaS, team, and services needed to even remotely compete with Amazon. Most people instantly go to Amazon when they want to make an online purchase. If they consider buying the same product on another marketplace, they will inevitably get it from Amazon because they offer cheaper products shipped faster 49% of the time. In fact, 53% of consumers start their online shopping on Amazon. 

Amazon doesn’t have to invest in PPC, SEO, social media campaigns, and other marketing efforts since they have superior brand recognition and a magnetic marketplace. They’re already the default option for most online shoppers. Customers can quickly set up an account and enjoy one-click purchases for whatever products come to mind that arrives in a couple of days. It’s hard for any independent brand to compete with that level of convenience and selection. 

However, their third-party merchants will invest in Amazon advertising to get their products prime real estate in search results for various competitive keyword queries. Amazon doesn’t need to invest in Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) campaigns to sell its products. They have thousands of third-party merchants paying them for prime positions to sell their products, and if they make a sale, they take another cut from the pie. 

How Amazon Always Wins

Amazon keeps its vendors’ data under lock and key for a reason. Third-party vendors must bend the knee and pay the fees to earn the privilege of selling their products on Amazon. While vendors hustle to optimize their listings and invest to beat other vendors, it’s a win-win-win for Amazon. They collect all user data on their shoppers’ behavior, leverage their analytics to improve the Amazon shopping experience, continuously scale and grow their business, and rake in endless fees from vendors advertising and selling on their platform. 

Third-party vendors are pitted against one another to push inventory while their profit margins are snatched in various fees to Amazon. They can’t even install a tracking pixel on their Amazon landing pages to learn about their customers. Third-party vendors aren’t much more than medieval peasants renting a plot of land and handing their profits to their feudal lords. 

The Problem With Trying to Compete With Amazon On Your Own

If brands want to go the indie route, they will need a considerable budget to get their ecommerce brand up and running. Unfortunately, they must rely on multiple SaaS solutions to improve their shopping experience, oversee re-platforming their storefront to adhere to the constant innovations in online commerce, invest in multiple marketing channels to reach their customers, hire expensive and in-demand marketing talent to oversee and launch their campaigns, warehouse fulfillment, customer service, and so much more. 

When it comes to marketing, extensive testing is needed to reach a profitable return on ad spend. Since independent brands start from scratch, they will need to begin with fairly open targeting and cast a wide net to narrow down their target audience and identify customer avatars. 

The more money they spend, the more accurate they can assess their ideal shoppers. Still, the catch is they have to pay a lot of money not only on the social media and PPC budgets but also to the specialists maintaining and launching their campaigns. This leads to another problem where specialists operate in silos, and multi-channel marketing efforts are not integrated effectively. 

For instance, strategists overseeing an Instagram campaign will need to manually chat with the PPC team to work together to improve campaign performance. It is not only an inefficient and ineffective way to approach marketing, but brands must pay for their team and marketing costs which will further eat into profit margins. 

Average brands overspend 40% on their marketing efforts, and to entice customers to click on their ads; they must offer high discounts and promotions to convert users. They also have to spend 11% on free shipping and fulfillment and return costs.

Even some of the biggest apparel brands globally are barely profitable, if profitable at all, due to the overwhelming powers of Amazon and big online retailers. Amazon offers more selection, better pricing, faster and cheaper fulfillment, and most Americans already have an account set up so they can purchase items will one click. 

If you want to stay in control of your brand and fight Amazon’s monopoly over ecommerce, it starts with a smarter approach. 

Plug Into Intelligent Commerce and Take the Headache Out of Running an Ecommerce Brand

If you want to fight against big retail, you’ll need the same tools as big retail. Commerce as a Service (CaaS) allows our partners to deploy on our intelligent ecommerce platform. Powered by machine learning, AI, and our data lab, our proprietary tech deploys the best strategies across our brand partners to scale businesses faster while lowering operating costs. 

Each of our partners receives the infrastructure, tech, and ecommerce-specialist support to ensure their business grows. Our partners never have to worry about re-platforming again, and our partners do not need to invest in upfront costs to get started. Our approach to ecommerce allows our partners to liberate themselves from the endless responsibilities and oversight required to scale a brand. Stay in control and view your operations from our integrated dashboard and focus on growing your brand while we handle the rest. 

To dive deeper into how Nogin solves profitability issues and allows our partners to scale faster and compete with big retail, download the second Coresight Research report. 

Check out more of our in-depth ecommerce guides to learn the strategies to scale your ecommerce brand below:

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”.