The Power of Celebrity Collaborations (How to Collab with Brands)

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Celebrity endorsements are as old as Pheidippides running from the town of Marathon, Greece, to Athens in 490 B.C wearing his Nike sandals, well maybe not actually Nike, but you get the drift. Celebrity brand endorsements are nothing new, and whether we like it or not, celebrity endorsements have become such a common factor in people’s daily lives that our world has become heavily influenced by their social commentary. 

They are powerful, and moreover, successful. However, today’s celebrities are going beyond simple endorsements and are actually collaborating on new product lines. Celebrities are well aware that they can become a marketable product and many have created personal brands that keep them in the spotlight well past whatever made them a star, especially in the luxury ecommerce space. 

Consider one of the most well-known collaborations between Michael Jordan and Nike; he hasn’t laced up a pair of basketball shoes competitively since 2003, however his brand is still iconic within the athletic apparel industry. Going well beyond a simple product endorsement, Jordan became a brand, and many more celebrities are now leveraging the spotlight to influence similar brand partnerships.

Let’s dive into some of our favorite brand partnership examples and if you need help improving your ecommerce operations, make sure to check out our other great content on:

The Best Brand Partnership Examples and Celebrity Collaborations

Some of our favorite successful celebrity collaborations include:

Kanye West, Adidas, and the Yeezy Brand

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Kanye West and Adidas co-branding the Yeezy brand. The combination of Kanye’s personal brand and Adidas’ growing streetwear segment has been incredibly successful with almost a 14% increase in earnings for Adidas since the partnership began feeding on the cult-like frenzy of the Yeezy following.

Rhianna and Puma

Grammy award-winning artist Rhianna went beyond a simple spokeswoman role with PUMA when she became a brand ambassador for an entire women’s line overseeing collaborations in apparel, footwear, and accessories. 

Beginning in 2015, when she released her first footwear collaboration, the Creeper, which sold out within hours of its presale launch, she has since gone on to create an entire fashion line called FENTY PUMA by Rhianna

Based upon her experiences growing up and having to wear uniforms to school, she wanted to create a line that was completely different and fun. Not only has the line been praised by fashion critics and bloggers alike, but PUMA has also had over a 180% increase in searches on their site since the collaboration began.

A$AP Rocky and Guess

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GUESS teamed up with rapper A$AP Rocky to create a collection of apparel and accessories for both men and women, based upon his well-known style and interest in the fashion industry. Focusing on the $ to replace the “S” in throwback 90s GUESS patterns, the nostalgic line utilized his platform to “show kids what they missed out on”.

David Guetta and GH Mumm Champagne

In 2014, Maison Mumm announced a collaboration with world-famous DJ, David Guetta. Together, they redesigned the famous G.H.Mumm Cordon Bouge champagne bottle. The special limited collector’s edition bottle was a perfect fit to leverage Guetta’s brand. It featured a platinum design that emulates a mirror to reflect nightlife and DJ LED lights to create a stunning and attractive effect. G.H.Mumm launched the limited-edition champagne in tandem with Guetta’s new music video Dangerous. 

The collaboration is a perfect example of how a luxury brand can position its product with a celebrity that appeals to a valuable target audience. The champagne was sold in nightclubs to command a premium price markup, fit the environment, and the packaging grabbed the attention of anyone on the dance floor. 

Taylor Swift and Keds Footwear

Keds footwear collaborated with Taylor Swift back in 2013 to develop a sneaker line featuring some of Swift’s favorite things, including mini guitars and polka dots alternating with paw prints. Swift’s audience loved the sneakers because they helped them connect with their favorite artist. The variety of designs at an affordable price meant they could purchase multiple sneaker designs without breaking the bank. 

The collection was available worldwide on Keds.com, TaylorSwift.com, Nordstrom.com, and Journeys.com. All styles were only $50 and each pair featured a silver heart of Swift’s favorite number, 13, or a guitar pick with Swift’s logo. Keds perfectly leveraged their partnership with Swift to appeal to a specific target audience and give them sneakers that incorporated their idol’s favorite things to create a unique, tangible appeal. 

Fashion Nova and Cardi B

And we would be remiss to leave out Fashion Nova’s collaboration with Cardi B. The “Bodak Yellow” rapper who turned her social media clout into a successful music career, sold out her first line of 82 styles raking in over $10M last November, while her latest line sold out within minutes of its release making over $1M in under 24 hours.

How to Find the Best Target Celebrity Partnerships

Brand collaborations are nothing new, especially in the fashion world. Utilizing a particular fan base in order to develop target audiences, is exactly the type of data point that Nogin can take advantage of to help drive sales for a brand.  

Take for example Nogin’s partnership with Blue-Star and Bebe Rexha. The two-time Grammy-nominated artist, Bebe Rexha has partnered up with fashion brand bebe for their empowering national marketing campaign ‘BEBE LOVES BEBE’. The campaign was created to celebrate the powerful idea of loving and accepting yourself, feeling incredible at any time, all the time. 

With the help of Nogin, Rexha has been appearing in the brand’s Fall 2019 campaign, which has been running throughout the U.S. on social, out of home, and in print since the launch of Vogue’s September issue.

Nogin is a full-spectrum ecommerce partner and leading provider of customized, end-to-end digital commerce solutions for retail brands. Underpinned by first-in-class technology, the company’s mission is to help brands navigate the complex online environment to effectively attract, retain and increase customer leads. 

Nogin’s enterprise ecommerce solutions include website development, performance marketing, business intelligence, merchandising and planning, brand-focused design, retail imaging and video, full-scale warehousing and fulfillment, and world-class customer care. Our exclusive ecommerce platform seamlessly merges with your company’s current eCommerce provider to leverage more efficient operations and greater data capabilities to increase revenue while saving on marketing and operating costs. 

Check out some of our impressive case studies, including Blank NYC. We were able to build their website from the ground-up and helped them experience 100% growth in the first year and a 50% increase in conversions. We also helped Muck Boots build a multimillion-dollar online business by leveraging our Core Logistics® technology to grow their online business by 300%. 

We can also help you find the best celebrity partnerships to help your brand explode its growth. Our company has the resources to not only provide you the best eCommerce solutions to outperform the competition, but our comprehensive services can take substantial weight of your own internal operations. Keep up-to-date with our latest news and send us a message below to chat with a member of our team. We can chat about your brand’s current struggles and how we can leverage our services to lessen your load while exploding your growth. 

The 3 Ultimate Online Retail Pricing Strategies to Increase Sales

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How important is pricing to your e-commerce business? Considering that 80% of people say that the most important aspect of shopping at a store is competitive pricing, the answer to the question is “very important.”

Implementing a tremendous retail pricing strategy will dramatically help entice visitors to click “add to cart.” We have some great techniques to increase your online storefront profitability for emerging ecommerce titans or companies with multi-million dollar annual revenues. Let’s discuss the key terms you need to know and our top strategies to dominant your ecommerce competitors and optimize your listings for profitability. 

What’s Retail Pricing?

Many factors determine retail pricing. However, it would be best to consider the cost of the item and the markup percentage you make to determine the net profits for any item. Use the following formula to decide on your ideal retail price:

Retail Price = [(Manufacturing cost of item) / (100-markup percentage)] x 100

For example, if your product costs $1.00 to manufacture and you hope to make a 75% profit, your ideal retail price would be:

[(1.00) / (100-75)] x 100 = $4.00

What Are Your Retail Pricing Objectives?

Although selling as much inventory and making the most profit is the most apparent pricing objective for any company, there are many other goals to pursue when setting your retail cost. A small business may offer a heavily discounted price as part of a paid promotion to get more traffic to their website, increase market share, and obtain new customers in their CRM. They may also offer a discounted price to move old inventory and increase sales volume. 

Some of the most common retail pricing objectives include:

  • Pricing for Profit: A price point that maximizes long-run or short-run profitability. 
  • Survival: Setting a price for survival. Businesses may need to accept short-term losses to increase sales and cover essential operating costs. Once the business weathers the storm, they can return to higher price points. 
  • Increase Market Share: If a business is trying to maximize customers and take business awareness from competitors. A company can measure its market share by comparing its sales to all other competitors in the same industry. Sellers may employ a penetration strategy to purposely lower price points to entice price-sensitive buyers and gain market share. Once you gain more customers, it’s imperative to maximize your customers’ lifetime value through upsells. 
  • Competitive Matching: If sellers sell a product that other businesses sell, they may have to set a price that matches their competitors or is below their price point. For instance, if your company sells a particular product for $5 and a competitor sells it for $4.50, you will have to lower your price or provide additional value to entice your audience. 

Before setting your price, make sure you have identified the product’s objectives in relation to your business to reach your goals. 

What is Optimal Price?

The optimal price is a price point that helps sellers maximize profits. It takes some experimentation to figure out the ideal price point for an item. Selling at a heavily discounted price will help you move more inventory, but your profit margins will be slim. Conversely, if you sell too high, you may have a lot of units sitting around. 

Price optimization is the process of setting a price on an item that strikes the perfect balance—it gives customers a sense of value while giving you a good profit. How your business optimizes prices may be different from how another business does it—there are many factors to consider, including prices at other sites, demand for an item and your company’s sales goals, and the parameters you’ve chosen by which to segment your customer base. Nonetheless, there are some core tenets that all e-retailers should keep in mind when developing a successful price optimization strategy.

How to Calculate Optimal Price Point

First, you’ll need to establish a price range for each item that you sell. How low can it be priced to attract customers without a loss of profit on the sale? Conversely, how high can an item’s price go that isn’t considered too high by shoppers? 

This kind of flexibility helps because price optimization is a fluid, never-ending process. Knowing your parameters allows you to be responsive to demand and change prices quickly when needed. Marketers call this dynamic pricing.

There will also be certain times when you will want to change your prices. Perhaps a competitor has lowered its prices, and you want to remain a viable option for potential shoppers, so you may also drop your prices. You can also adjust prices for sales to make way for new stock and attract new customers. Dynamic pricing can take various factors into account and use specific algorithms to determine the best prices to use at certain times.

Check out this great optimal price calculator to help you find the sweet spot. 

What is Socially Optimal Price?

Every product or service consumed in the world has a societal impact. The social cost of any good includes the sum of two components:

  • The financial costs of consumption, such as delivery, costs of material, and labor. 
  • The societal costs of consumption, including environmental consequences and health impacts. 

Resources are limited, and as they deplete, competition for the remaining resources increase. Sellers must consider the marginal private benefit (MPB) of their goods or the highest price consumers would pay for a unit. The higher the price, the fewer people are willing to consume it. The lower the price, the more consumers are willing to spend money on the goods or services. 

3 Online Retail Pricing Strategies to Optimize Your Ecommerce Listings

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Online retailers must know their audience and price their products not only to keep them interested but drive them to purchase. 

Use Your Analytics and React To Your Customers’ Behavior

Sellers can leverage many different verticals to reach their audience. Whether it’s a social media campaign or product promotion at Costco, sellers must purposefully test their product and use data and consumer insights to inform their pricing strategies. 

For instance, if they notice that Friday is their most profitable day for a particular item, they could run a social media campaign only on that day to maximize their budget. If they notice that bundling their humidifier with a free bottle of essential oil drastically increases sales in a Costco, they should use the same strategy on their online storefront. 

Your customers’ online shopping habits can also be used in price optimization. Has a particular shirt earned a lot of likes on your social media channels? If the demand is increasing because of this exposure, perhaps the price can be adjusted upwards accordingly. 

Conversely, if you see shoppers are putting a particular item in their cart but not following through on a purchase, you may be able to close the sale with a lower price tag. Some businesses even set prices that are slightly less than a round number, so customers think they are getting a deal.

Track your crucial analytics metrics, such as organic traffic, ROAS, and bounce rate monthly and use it to adjust your marketing campaigns and pricing to maximize sales. Check out our guide on the key ecommerce KPIs metrics to track. 

Leverage Your Layout

The layout of your ecommerce site can also play a role in enhancing price optimization. Product description content should have an action-oriented copy encouraging a purchase, and sellers should showcase the product itself in a “Customer Favorite” or “Buy Now” display. 

Use a ticking clock for prices on a temporary discount to leverage urgency. Infomercials use this strategy on TV to urge viewers to take action and call to take advantage of an offer. Additionally, Include the number of remaining inventory on the page to prompt visitors to purchase before the product is out of stock. It will help position your product as high-demand.

You can also group similar items such as purses together to do a mini-price comparison, highlighting the most popular product. Sellers should always strategize towards the ultimate goal of improving their conversion rate and profitability.

Price Setting

Another important aspect of price optimization is the model used in price setting. Some retailers use the traditional method of adding a markup to their wholesale costs to develop an item’s price. Another pricing model looks at the profit made from selling products in quantity so you can get the desired return on your investment. 

Well-established brands may turn to value-based pricing, which bases the decision to set higher prices on consumers’ trust and relationship with a company. Basically, shoppers will be willing to pay more for the brand they are loyal to than for a similar and cheaper alternative from another brand. And speaking of competitors, it’s always smart to keep an eye on the marketplace and see what other e-commerce sites like yours are selling and how much they are selling it for.

What Are the 3 Types of Pricing Strategies to Profitability?

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There are many different types of pricing strategies. As we discussed earlier, picking the best one for your product comes down to several factors, including pricing objectives and the socially optimal price. Let’s examine three types of pricing strategies you can use if your main goal is to sell more and make more profit. 

Competitive Pricing

A competitive pricing strategy is a standard approach, and sellers can leverage it differently depending on the products they are pushing. The key to a competitive pricing strategy is to position your product or brand not only different from the competition but superior. 

You must specify and highlight unique selling points (USPs) that separates your product from the rest of the pack. Also, investing in a premium online storefront, graphic design, and packaging can provide a valuable impression on your customers, especially for luxury ecommerce brands. It’s also essential to have stellar onsite customer service to help reduce ecommerce return rates

There are two main types of competitive pricing strategies:

Below Competition Pricing

Pricing below the competition is an excellent way to undercut your competitors’ price to simply position your product as the best possible deal. To leverage this strategy, you must negotiate with your supplier for the lowest possible wholesale price, reduce operating costs, and execute a marketing strategy highlighting the market value. 

A below-competition pricing strategy can sometimes become a sticky situation if your competitors try to retaliate by lowering their price and start a price war. The best way to leverage below competition pricing is to present it as a temporary price to make visitors feel more inclined to purchase and not get accustomed to bargain rates. 

Above Competition (Prestige) Pricing

Above-competition pricing is always ideal for profits, but it only works if you are moving inventory. Sellers must justify higher prices with factors such as exclusivity, superior customer service, elevated brand experience, and scarcity. 

Jewelry is an excellent industry to use prestige pricing, especially if you have sufficiently developed a luxury image. Brands like Tiffany can command higher prices due to their brand’s equity. The diamonds may not necessarily beat the competition in quality, but customers will pay the higher prices due to a sense of prestige. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and so is your brand’s value. Focus on developing an elevated brand image to charge higher prices and increase profit margins. 

Psychological Pricing

The brain is a mysterious thing, and there are some clever tricks marketers can leverage to price items in a particular way to sell more. Psychological pricing positions a product at a price point that conveys a fair, attractive bargain. Here are several techniques you can apply to help increase sales:

Odd or Charm Pricing

Customers prefer prices that end in odd numbers such as 5, 7, or 9 and trigger impulse buying. It also gives the impression that they are receiving a deal. The most common way retailers leverage this method is to change an item’s price from a whole number, such as $9, to $8.99. The brain interprets the $8.99 as $8 and rounds down, making it appear as a better bargain price. Studies show that when people spend money, they may feel a sense of pain or loss. Retailers can leverage charm pricing to help lessen the cognitive agitation and increase the likelihood their visitors make a purchase. 

In his book Priceless, William Poundstone documents that charm pricing helped increase sales by 24% compared to rounded price points. Additionally, researchers at MIT and the University of Chicago found that the best number to leverage charm pricing is 9. During an experiment, they tested a woman’s clothing item at three different price points: $34, $39, and $44. They discovered that $39 outsold the $34 price point. 

Decoy Effect or Introducing a “Useless” Price

The best example of the decoy effect to price items is at the movie theater. The cinema wants you to purchase as much popcorn as possible, but most people will never finish the large bucket of popcorn at the theater. However, using a useless price will help customers rationalize picking the large size. 

National Geographic conducted a study to prove the effectiveness of the decoy effect. They ran the first test and offered a group of customers the option to purchase a small popcorn for $3 or a large one for $7. Most customers decided to buy the small option. However, things changed once they introduced a medium bucket into the equation. 

For the second group, they presented three options: a small bucket for $3, a medium bucket for $6.50, and a large one for $7. Since the medium size is only 50 cents cheaper than the large, customers purchased the large option more than the previous group. The decoy effect of the medium price helps customers rationalize buying a large bucket because it appears to be a bargain (even though it’s the most expensive option). 

Anchoring: Include a Reference Price

Including a reference price compared to the actual price point of your item has a significant effect. The anchor price is juxtaposed with the current price rate, and the visitor perceives it as a better deal than without one. Retail stores utilize this technique and sometimes include more than just one reference price. 

Let’s say you find a luxurious, brand-name cashmere sweater in a department store. You notice that the original price tag is $150, the sale price is $110, but the final price is $70. The anchoring effect makes the person base their decision on the original anchor price they encounter. 

Since they know it was initially $150, they would jump at the opportunity to purchase it at the heavily discounted rate, especially since this is the second time it was on sale. However, do you think they would feel as compelled if the only reference price was $70? They would feel more reluctant to purchase because $70 is still $70. Sellers can increase sales by presenting a higher reference price to give a perceived discounted value and take action while the item is on sale. 

Bundle and Multiple Pricing

Bundle pricing is an excellent way to sell multiple products and make each conversion more significant on your site. Sellers can give a lower rate for customers to purchase items together rather than individually. It is not only a great way to move inventory, but your customers will perceive more significant value and savings when they purchase bundled packages (even though they are spending more money). 

To execute an excellent bundle pricing campaign on your ecommerce site, include several bundle options on the same product page and have how much they’ll save when they purchase a package. For instance, if you sell a premium Charcoal smoker grill, you can easily present a bundle package that would entice your visitors. 

Since they are purchasing a new grill, you know they will need other tools and products to cook a meal, such as a spatula, charcoal, grill cleaner, and grill table. If a visitor chooses to purchase a big green egg, they have already committed to the activity, knowing they will eventually need the bundled items when they cook. By bundling the items together, you are selling more inventory, the customer saves money, and your profit margins increase. 

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Third-Party Logistics (3PL) Ecommerce Fulfillment and Solutions Guide

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Order fulfillment is one of the most integral aspects of any online storefront. As an ecommerce business manager, setting up an efficient and cost-effective fulfillment strategy is essential to scale your business and satisfy your customers. 

However, some ecommerce businesses must rely on additional shipping support from outside their internal resources to improve operations and improve ROI. One of the most prevalent solutions for enterprise businesses is to utilize third-party logistics (3PL). Let’s discuss how third-party logistics works and some of our top ecommerce fulfillment solutions. 

What is 3PL Fulfillment?

3PL (third-party logistics) fulfillment is when an ecommerce business uses an outsourced entity to handle retail operations, including receiving orders, inventory management, packing, shipping, and storing products. Some organizations leverage 4PL to free up additional bandwidth from their organization. 4PL allows enterprise ecommerce businesses to have another party handle coordinating with their outsourced shipping and end-to-end supply chain management. 

Why 3PL is Important?

3PL is important for many growing businesses because it helps alleviate time-consuming internal operations so companies can spend more time growing their business. The most appealing advantage of 3PL is that it not only frees up time but that it’s the most cost-effective solution to coordinate, store, and ship inventory to customers. 

How Do 3PL Companies Work? The Stages of Ecommerce 3PL Fulfillment

Every 3PL partnership is different, but third-party logistics primarily includes storage, shipping, packing, and fulfillment. A 3PL partner can consist of several different entities, including warehousing companies, distribution centers, or fulfillment services. 3PL partners can help lower shipping costs, improve shipping times, optimize logistics, manage returns, and provide better customer service. 

3PL partners are essential for many growing businesses to scale their business. Handling inventory management, storage, and shipping can drain a lot of a company’s internal resources, so an outside partner can free up significant bandwidth to save an organization’s time and money. Let’s break down the entire 3PL process from start to finish. 

Storage

A business first must coordinate sending their inventory to their 3PL provider so that they can have their products at their disposal. Typically, a company will fill out a Warehouse Receiving Order (WRO) to document the quantity and product names they plan to send. Once a business records its inventory and transmits it to 3PL partners, they will store the items at their fulfillment centers either on shelves, pallets, or bins. They will categorize and label inventory accordingly to have it ready for when customers place orders. 

Orders

When a customer places an order online, the 3PL will begin the fulfillment process. The most efficient 3PL ordering processes integrate the online store with the fulfillment center. As soon as a customer places an order on the company’s website, the 3PL party is notified and sent the necessary information to complete the order. A warehouse packing team member will collect the order from storage and send it to the packing and shipping division. 

Packing and Shipping

The warehouse team will begin to package the item. Businesses can specify how to package their products based on costs and weight. They can also customize the packaging material to highlight the brand. The 3PL will place a shipping label on the product and have their daily inventory ready for carrier pickup. 3PL partners will send an order and shipping confirmation to their partners, and the 3PL can handle any possible returns. (PS: You can help reduce ecommerce return rates with our helpful guide.) 

6 Best Ecommerce Fulfillment Solutions

There are many reasons why businesses choose to leverage a 3PL partner. Whether it’s handling the fulfillment, storage, or supply chain management, a 3PL can be the MVP for your ecommerce business. Here are some reasons why you and your business could benefit from third-party logistics:

1. Time

You probably didn’t get into fashion retailing to spend hours packing orders. Working with a 3PL gives you the time you need to focus on your big-picture business strategies. There are countless tiny details involved in order fulfillment. Contracts with transportation drivers, tracking lost orders, figuring out how a storm on the East Coast may affect deliveries to the region—these are the kinds of small but important details you no longer have to worry about with a 3PL in place.

2. Money

When an outsourced provider handles your order fulfillment process, that can cut down on expenses. For instance, a 3PL with a warehouse means you don’t have to spend money on your own storage facility for excess inventory. You also don’t have to hire and pay extra staff members to handle fulfillment on your end. Plus, if you work with a 3PL with multiple other clients, it can often translate to lower shipping rates for everyone because the 3PL is shipping at high volume.

3. Convenience

Using 3PL is a terrific e-commerce business solution because it can handle every aspect of order fulfillment. Your vendors can ship merchandise directly to the 3PL warehouse, where it can be synced to your in-store inventory to keep everything organized for you. When orders come in, the 3PL handles all of the packing, labeling, and shipping. If an order is returned, the 3PL takes care of restocking. An experienced company that professionally and reliably administers all these logistics can be a game-changer for your business.

4. Customization

A 3PL can cover every aspect of order fulfillment for you. But 3PLs can also offer customized solutions tailored to your specific needs. Are you focused on adding next-day or same-day shipping to your e-commerce site? Find a 3PL with those capabilities and the warehouse network to support that. Do you want to provide gift-wrapping services or need temperature-controlled packaging? There are 3PLs out there that can handle every kind of fulfillment issue. The best firms will listen to your needs and develop a comprehensive plan to optimize your order fulfillment.

5. Flexibility

A 3PL boosts your company’s responsiveness to e-commerce demands. Suppose you’re planning a huge holiday sale, for instance. In that case, your 3PL company can adjust accordingly and make sure it has enough transportation solutions and fulfillment staffers in place to meet that higher order volume. Conversely, you don’t have to let go of your workers if there is a lull in orders; the 3PL can quickly ramp down, depending on your needs. 

This scalability is especially valuable if you are at a crucial stage of growing your e-commerce business. There are few things worse than not being able to meet increased customer demand—it can tarnish your brand’s reputation. Plus, taking advantage of a 3PL’s warehouse means you may be able to carry a higher volume of inventory, so you can save money by buying merchandise in bulk and serve more customers with more orders, which can benefit your bottom line.

6. Quality Assurance

By doing your homework and partnering with a trusted 3PL company, you are leaving order fulfillment in the professionals’ hands. These intricate, heavily detailed logistics are their bread and butter, and you can be assured that your fulfillment process is in the best possible position to benefit your e-commerce business. A well-oiled fulfillment process reflects well on your business and enhances customer satisfaction and your brand’s reputation.

Let Us Take Care of Your Coordinating Your 3PL Operations

The decision to work with a 3PL can be a wise one, but only if you use a company focused on meeting your ecommerce needs and can provide you with quality service and practical solutions. We’ll help you improve your entire business operations so you can not only meet but exceed your ecommerce KPI goals. 

Connect with us and learn more about our global logistics solutions to optimize all of your ecommerce operational needs. Schedule a quick time to chat with us below, and we can discuss the best solutions for your business. 

In the meantime, learn more about how to improve your ecommerce business using our informative guides:

Coronavirus and the Future of Ecommerce

Future of ecommerce

It’s no secret that the world is facing a severe global health crisis thanks to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. It has not only become a public health pandemic, but it’s also having a critical impact on global supply chains, and markets worldwide have been on a rollercoaster as a result of what economic impact it may have.

As the coronavirus continues to gain traction in the U.S., there have already been considerable consumer behavior changes. Self and mandatory quarantines, along with emerging consumer worry about public places, will provide opportunities for ecommerce businesses to thrive over the next few months and potentially permanently.

As consumers turn to digital options to avoid physical shopping environments, the behavior change may impact longer-term habits. For instance, we are all keenly aware of the modern shift in holiday shopping behavior when ecommerce sales rise sharply compared to the rest of the calendar year. Therefore, it is highly likely that we will see similar shopping patterns possibly lead to a “step-change,” one in which consumers will not return to previous behaviors.

Let’s discuss what a post-pandemic ecommerce shopping environment will look like and the best ways to revise your business model for success.

How Covid-19 Affected Consumer Shopping Habits

Due to quarantines, ecommerce sales in specific categories like consumer product goods, grocery, and staple items, have already seen marked increases, and Amazon Prime has already noted significant increases in membership along with sales within these categories. Grocery delivery is also seeing a boost. In Target’s recent investor call, the company discussed new ways for people to shop with pick-up, drive-up, and delivery to cater to their new customer habits. All of which could potentially be the foundation for the ecommerce step-change that the internet promised 20 years ago.

Studies show that consumer behavior is influenced by environmental, economic, and sociological factors, all three of which are evident with the current COVID-19 crisis.

According to data analysis from Quantum Metric, coronavirus is driving U.S. consumers online. Ecommerce retailers based in the U.S. experienced a 52% growth rate in online spending during the fifth to eighth weeks of 2020 (the period when the virus began rapidly spreading outside of Asia) compared to the same weeks of 2019. According to Quantum Metric, consumers may have increased their online shopping because their local stores have run out of stock due to delayed shipments, stockpile items, avoid busy public places, or take advantage of direct shipping options bulk purchases. Once consumers have become familiar and comfortable in the ecommerce space, they are likely to continue to make future purchases in this same manner.

Tamara Gaffney, VP of strategy for Quantum Metric, posted to her blog, “Without a doubt, the digital retail experiences customers have been having these past few weeks, good or bad, will have a lasting impact on (retailers’) ability to build much-needed loyalty into their consumer-base.”

Consumer habits are hard to change, but when events such as this happen on such a large scale, it forces the market to change. This is a change that consumer marketing has been preparing for since the birth of the internet. Still, it may have just taken a cataclysmic event to unleash the true latent potential of ecommerce, and it would seem the restraints may have been broken forever by Covid-19.

Fortune favors the Bold for Retail-Rebuilding Post COVID-19

Coronavirus Shopping Trends

The longer Covid-19 persists, the faster online sales are being driven online permanently, thus cementing the long-awaited ‘ecommerce revolution’ once and for all.

The ongoing pandemic has swiftly brought on unprecedented social and economic change on a global scale. Many business sectors, including travel, hospitality, and nonessential retail, came to a screeching halt throughout March and April. While still, other industries have seen unprecedented demand. Consumer packaged goods, food and beverage delivery, educational software, health and wellness, and video conferencing software have increased 10-fold.

However, many categories are still in flux. Take fashion as an example. Those brands that sell heavily in wholesale and retail channels have been a transformative experience, leaving many in crisis. Other brands heavily focused on ecommerce and direct-to-consumer have seen expectantly strong results. The reality is that most of these brands have some mix of retail and online sales.

COVID-19 Ecommerce Statistics

A closer analysis of marketing and ecommerce sales across 24 brands shows precise results:

  • Brands that have restricted their marketing spend (greater than 40%), whether out of caution or necessity for cost-cutting in the face of the loss of sales, are seeing their online DTC sales struggle (-40% vs. the same period a year ago).
  • Those who maintained their marketing spend have seen online sales weather the storm after the initial dip in sales seen at the crisis’s onset.
  • Those that aggressively pushed forward with marketing and promotions are seeing unprecedented year-over-year sales growth.

Faced with precipitously falling sales the first two weeks of March, many brands had no choice but to cut their ad spend by about 50 percent, according to analytics firm MediaRadar. But not all brands took this approach. Those in categories like streaming, virtual conferencing, and food delivery took an aggressive approach, as expected. But a few retailers such as Muck Brands and Karen Kane have doubled down on direct-to-consumer. 

With the assistance of Nogin, both brands have come out swinging. They leaned heavily into promotions relying on A.I. consumer profiles driven by the Nogin ecommerce platform. In doing so, Muck US has seen over 120% growth, well ahead of projections for 2020, while Karen Kane has been booming at 160%. Relying on the enterprise ecommerce solutions, both marginally increased marketing to get their message out, first to customers and eventually to prospects based on overwhelming response. Both brands have found a silver lining in this challenging environment.

Many might be surprised by this outcome, but they really shouldn’t be after looking at the data. According to a study in The Economist, consumer discretionary spending is down by more than 50%. However, consumers are still shopping online; the inability to spend on things like travel, restaurants, and childcare and reduced costs for things like necessary transportation mean that there is still strong discretionary spending on ecommerce beyond essential goods. Throw in the fantastic discounts being offered all over the place, and it makes sense why, outside of a dip in mid-March, overall, nonessential ecommerce has fared well.

Adjusting Your Ecommerce Shopping Strategy

Depending on the chosen strategy, individual brands are seeing wildly different outcomes. While overhead for brick and mortar, such as rent and payroll for sales associates, is the cost of doing business in the retail world, digital advertising on Instagram, AdWords, and Facebook (among others) is the price of doing business online. While brands that have pulled back on marketing may conclude that online demand is soft, it is hardly the case. The brands that are fighting for it are taking the share of wallet.

Brands with both large retail and wholesale presence face difficult choices. They know cutting back on marketing will harm the bottom line. Many brands are opting to save their resources for a few months awaiting for stores to reopen. Although this seems to be a logical move facing a significant sales channel’s closure, people’s timeline to return to retail shopping is very much still in limbo. 

As states and retail commerce begin to open back up, consumer fears may still slow the return of retail. The longer consumers remain hesitant to return to brick and mortar establishments, the more likely it is we will finally realize the commerce capabilities the internet has promised since the first “.com” boom of the 1990s.

Despite toilet paper hoarding and panic buying, many consumers are trying online purchases for the first time; others increase online purchases because it is the only option. Either way, through the sentinel event effect, simple psychology tells us that many of these short-term consumer behaviors will lead to a permanent shift. And although some of this behavior will stick, and with states gradually re-opening retail, the presumption is that a return to normalcy is just around the corner. 

Everyday sociology, however, tells us that although retail stores will open, the expected rush of customers in June might never come. As we have already seen in states like Georgia, stores could likely re-open to a flood of week-one returns and very lukewarm subsequent traffic. It may take a long time or even a vaccine before consumers fully return, if they do at all, to some semblance of their pre-pandemic shopping behavior.

In the face of such uncertainty, decision-making can be strategically challenging. Moreover, rushing blindly into the digital world is not the right move for any brand. But taking the time to hone your messaging and getting your ducks in a row to define your re-opening promotional strategy is crucial. This is your opportunity to define your strategy with the specific goal of building your online sales channel.

Right now, you have the opportunity to redefine your brand. Take this opportunity to design market tests that validate your online marketing efforts. Begin to develop testing strategies to weigh your promotional successes, however incremental they may be. Dive in to rebuild your ideal customer profile and scale into new markets, and “always be testing.” 

Hone in on what messaging strategies, based on observable data, can effectively drive online purchasing behavior. Utilize this time to determine your cost of acquisition effectively, and figure out what makes sense for your business to spend. Transform your brand digitally to meet your target audience. The longer you wait for normalcy to return, the more likely you will be to wake up six months from now with multiple under-performing sales channels.

Retail Shopping Trends Post Pandemic

Tens of thousands of retailers have closed their doors to help stop the spread of the coronavirus across the country, either by choice or through government mandate, and according to industry experts, they may not be rushing to revert to the old days of retail anytime soon.

On its face, things do not look well for retailers. The widening pandemic could permanently shutter more than 15,000 stores across the U.S. While some stores begin to re-open in accordance with eased limitations in some states, nonessential retail largely remains closed for the foreseeable future. Moreover, more than two-thirds of America remain on stay-at-home orders.

E-commerce has seen a noticeable uptick. However, analysts are skeptical that it will make up for sales lost due to store closures. In an interview with Retail Dive, Doug Stephens said that luxury brands that hadn’t yet fully embraced ecommerce would be one of the biggest-hit sectors and that fear of viral contagion could also hurt the resale market.

The re-opening of retail couldn’t come sooner. 

According to Retail Dive, department stores only have about five to eight months of liquidity before a cash crunch becomes a risk factor. Companies such as J.C. Penney, Macy’s, and Kohl’s have reported only about 5-8 months of available cash, while analysts have pegged Nordstrom to have about a full year. Therefore, with physical locations likely to remain shuttered for a while longer, the pandemic has many retailers in a tough spot.

But that’s only the half of it. Just because stores are being given the green light to re-open in many places, consumers seem to be less than eager to return to traditional physical shopping. Surveys show that consumers continue to have lingering fears of infection, with two-thirds of respondents telling the Washington Post they wouldn’t feel safe going into a retail clothing store. 

Moreover, a survey from Fluent found that only 34% of respondents were even comfortable with governors lifting stay-at-home restrictions. Ethan Rose, EVP at Nogin, was previously interviewed as saying, “the longer this pandemic lasts, the more fear and uncertainty will necessitate an evolution in the consumer processes.”

Bob sat down with the executive staff of Nogin this week to get their insights as to what the future of retail holds when things attempt to “return to normal”

Here are some of their most insightful thoughts on the issue:

We Won’t Return to Any Sort of Normal Without a Vaccine

Jan Nugent, CEO at Nogin: As we know, sheltering in place was meant to slow the virus, not cure it. And as we move back to somewhat normal life, there has to be an understanding that, in essence, nothing has changed. Without a vaccine, businesses cannot guarantee the safety of their employees, vendors, and customers; but some precautions, like facemasks and daily testing, can be made to limit exposure. 

But as simple as that sounds, this is an unprecedented time (unless you were alive in 1918). However we proceed, it must be with caution. Facemasks and wide-spread daily testing will be the norm. Distancing availability, fewer people per space, and hospitals will have to be equipped to handle the increased caseload.

Understanding Your Customers’ Needs

Rikke Alderson, Chief Growth Officer: Now more than ever, truly understanding your customers’ needs will be paramount to current and ongoing success for businesses.

Brands need to understand that most society is now working in a completely different environment from just a few months ago. 

In that time, shopping patterns have drastically evolved, necessitating a shift in strategy by virtually everyone. For example, shopping habits seem to have shifted regarding the traditional role of seasons. We are already seeing up-tics in footwear, loungewear, athleisure, and negative flows within formal wear or cocktail fancy attire, which are relatively abnormal buying patterns for this time of year.

As such, the opportunity to leverage search engine query volumes correlative to fashion and apparel will be super edifying around what consumers are looking to purchase today versus last year at the same time. Moreover, once stores begin to reopen, with the initial phase of curbside pick-up versus browsing and the like, we expect stores to see greater clarity from the consumer on what they are looking for versus opportunistic buying.

Public Safety Comes First

Kurt Lohse, SVP: Nonessential stores should only reopen after the Coronavirus transmission rates have dropped to federal, state, and local safety regulation levels and when it is safe for workers and customers to interact. Active measures should be taken to provide 6′ distances during work hours, and protective masks and gloves should be required until an effective vaccine is made available. 

Retailers and shoppers alike may adopt protective gear for some time. The three most significant changes I see relate to additional space becoming a requirement to maintain 6′ distance guidelines, limited in-store customer volume control, and added extra cleaning measures to be taken regularly to ensure virus-free surface transmissions.

Companies Should Focus on Their Operations and Digital Footprints

Henry Henderson, Logistics & Supply Chain Executive: Due to the struggles keeping up with demand amidst consumers’ anxiety and protecting front-line sales associates, it’s impossible to pin down a date when things may even resemble returning to normal in the retail world. So until we have a definitive answer as to when people will be back in stores, brands and companies should be focusing their operations and go-to-market strategies around digital fulfillment.

In the absence of in-person experiences, consumers focus on the essentials, and the transition to digital fulfillment has been swift. This crisis has highlighted the absolute need for last-mile connectivity, apart from reimagining traditional single-carrier dependency models and centralized warehousing. In effect, this translates to creating micro-fulfillment centers leveraging the omnichannel capabilities of the store. If nothing else, we see the importance of agility and connectivity being the fundamentals your brand will need in the new normal.

Leave It to the Scientists

Geoff VanHaeren, CTO: As we are already seeing, the opening is being done on a state-by-state basis, as data presents itself. This is key; all decisions surrounding states’ opening needs to be based upon science and empirical data. Of course, people are getting stir-crazy and can make their own decisions, but this needs to be handled from a top-down approach.

Consumer feelings can not be what directs the opening of society. I don’t have experience with infectious diseases, so I am not qualified to respond to “when” questions. What I do know is that the virus doesn’t care about people’s feelings. I will leave those decisions to scientists.

6 Strategies to Reduce Your Ecommerce Customer Return Rate

ecommerce-return-rate-strategies

Did you know that one out of every three products purchased online will be returned? And in luxury fashion ecommerce, the return rate can be even higher.

While some brands chalk up these unfortunate statistics to consumer behaviors that are outside of their control, the reality is that 67% of the time these returns are actually the retailer’s fault. Some informative ecommerce return statistics show:

  • In 23% of returns, the customer had received the wrong product
  • In 22% of returns, the product was different in appearance than advertised
  • In 20% of returns, the customer had received a damaged or defective item

High return rates can attack profit margins, affect customer retention, and impact overall company growth—and major e-commerce brands are responding in a variety of innovative ways, including ecommerce third-party fulfillment

Amazon has begun closing the customer accounts of serial-returners. Other companies, such as Stitch Fix, have adopted a try-before-you-buy model that offers a monetary incentive to consumers who keep items. Still, others are offering promotions only to certain customers based on their prior return-risk or adopting extended return policies to increase overall growth and improve customer retention.

With online sales now firmly established as a large segment of fashion commerce, and free shipping—both ways—becoming standard practice, the cost of returns has become a significant problem.

Here are some of our top tips to help reduce e-commerce returns, increase profit margins, and satisfy more online shoppers:

1. Optimize Product Visuals

High-quality photography can help bridge the gap between product reality and customer expectations. Photos should display multiple product angles, allow 360-degree views, offer a zoom feature, show lifestyle images, and, when appropriate, play product videos. Images for all product color options and other variations should also be provided. Along with professional photography, consider embedding an Instagram gallery onto your site. This element will seamlessly show your products being worn or used by a wider variety of consumers.

2. Describe Products in Detail

Customers can’t touch or feel online products, so written product descriptions matter. A well-written one will allow the customer to virtually experience the product through all five senses, as well as present all applicable product details—such as materials used, special care instructions, and other reasons why your product is unique.

3. Provide Accurate Sizing Information

Returns due to poor fit are an inherent problem in fashion e-commerce. Because customers can’t try on apparel before ordering, it is very important to calculate sizes accurately and consistently, along with providing measurements and brand-specific size charts on your site. Some companies now offer calculators that allow customers to type in their height and weight for best size suggestions; AI fitting assistants are another increasingly common option. By providing enough pre-purchase sizing information, a customer can confidently order a single size that will fit well—instead of ordering multiple different sizes and styles, then returning all but the ones they like best (In the luxury space, 51% of shoppers do this, a practice known as “bracketing.”).

4. Collect Customer Feedback

Gather information about why customers are returning your products on return forms. Read online reviews. By taking the time to understand what is prompting returns, you can then address those issues by taking appropriate action: add more product views, write improved descriptions, correct size discrepancies, etc.

5. Check Orders for Accuracy

Placing internal measures to ensure the correct items are being shipped out initially is well worth the time investment. This will ultimately prevent lost sales, negative customer experiences, extra shipping costs, liquidated products, and time spent processing returns and exchanges. This is also the right time to confirm that all items are shipped in packaging to prevent potential damage.

6. Establish Generous Return Policies

Establish generous return policies. While this may seem counter-intuitive, return rates actually decrease when there’s no urgency to return a product. This may be related to customers growing attached to these items that they keep around longer. Zappos is a good example of a brand that has successfully embraced this model by offering a 365-day return policy.

It’s no secret that hassle-free returns and exchanges encourage consumers to buy from certain brands and improve the overall customer experience. 95% of customers will shop at a store again that offers easy returns. You can keep this process customer-friendly by including a prepaid address label or envelope with shipped items and allowing returns at retail locations.

Need Help Reducing Your eCommerce Return Rate?

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While there will probably always be customers who take advantage of generous return policies, the bottom line is that the majority of customers prefer not to have to deal with returns. Connect with Nogin and learn how we can help your brand implement strategies to decrease high return rates—and, instead, increase profits. 

We offer the most advanced ecommerce software platform and enterprise ecommerce solutions. Schedule a quick chat with our team to learn how our platform can explode your ecommerce growth. In the meantime, check out some more of our ecommerce content to help improve your online operations:

Luxury Fashion Brands: 15 Ecommerce Tips to Sell More Online

Luxury Fashion Brands Tips

Building a luxury fashion brand is not easy. Many brands are beginning to shift focus from physical storefronts to online mediums to sell their products. Fashion is the largest B2C ecommerce market segment. A total of $525.1 billion products were sold globally in 2019, and experts predict the market will grow by 11.4% per year. By 2025, the global market size will reach more than $100 billion.

If you want your fashion brand to survive, you need to invest in your online storefront rather than the in-store cucumber water. To compete with the big retail, your brand will need to leverage a superior ecommerce platform and graduate to enterprise ecommerce operations.

Let’s dive into the ins and outs of fashion ecommerce and learn the best strategies to explode your brand’s online sales.

What is Fashion Ecommerce?

Fashion ecommerce is the process of selling fashion products electronically on the internet. Successful luxury fashion brands sell more than just clothing. They sell an experience, an image, and a lifestyle that aims to elevate their customers’ appearance.

A successful ecommerce fashion platform must replicate its in-store experience to its online storefront. If a brand expects their customers to spend hundreds of dollars for their apparel, they must provide superior customer service, user experience and embody their story on each site page. If your online experience is subpar, you can expect subpar sales.

What Makes a Luxury Brand?

A luxury brand must employ superior manufacturing, superior designs, and superior service to provide superior products for their customers. Whether it is a worldwide brand like Louis Vuitton or a new designer trying to make a name for themselves, each brand must source the finest materials, provide flawless service, and avoid any shortcuts to earn a luxury status.

You can’t just sell a shirt for a hundred bucks and claim your brand is luxurious. Your customers must understand why your logo on a plain white shirt makes it worth five times more than a shirt from Old Navy. Ensure that when a new user lands on your website, they are immersed in an experience that reflects your brand’s value.

Take your customers on a journey with interactive media, gorgeous imagery, and separate your brand from the pack. Make your customer feel like they are part of something exclusive, something special, something that makes them a trendsetter rather than a follower. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and so is your brand’s value.

What is Luxury Ecommerce Customer Service Experience?

Luxury prices command luxury service. Customer service is essential to the success of a luxury brand. They service an audience who expects nothing but the best, and in a physical storefront, it is more manageable to ensure your customers are treated right. However, online users need even more support when they navigate your ecommerce storefront.

Brands must elevate their web experience to cater to a pleasant and hassle-free journey. You must make your sales funnel bulletproof so that your visitors can find and purchase the products they want without having to ask questions. You must have integrated customer support on your website ready to help but should focus on creating an intuitive platform that is easy to navigate.

Brands must create product pages with informative product descriptions, multiple images from multiple angles, and detailed measuring charts. Make the visitor feel like they are touching and trying on the clothes in person. Fashion brands should also carefully define and examine their key performance indicators (KPIs) to understand where their users leave their site or fail to convert. Your guests should feel as comfortable purchasing a product online as when they are in the store. If you don’t make a connection, you won’t make a sale.

How to Successfully Sell Luxury Fashion Products

Ecommerce Sales

Gone are the days of relying on elite, seasonal runway shows and elegant, upscale department stores to sell exclusive, high-end fashion brands. These days, tech-savvy millennial consumers of luxury products are looking for personalized, interactive, direct-to-customer shopping experiences — and they expect to find it all on tiny, mobile screens.

It’s no surprise that some luxury brands have struggled to translate lavish, in-store shopping encounters involving all five senses into two-dimensional, ecommerce platforms. Fortunately, ecommerce tools are rapidly evolving to help carry that much-desired, larger-than-life runway glamour over to the smallest of digital devices — where customers are increasingly making their purchasing decisions.

Let’s discuss the most essential ecommerce tips you need to know to take your luxury brand to the next frontier.

1. Offer a Luxury Experience

Just as high-end retail stores exude opulence by being clean, well laid-out, and uncluttered, your ecommerce site should appear similarly luxurious. The site needs to display high-quality images that allow customers to see, touch, and feel (virtually) your products and contain content that appeals to the emotions historically triggered by the brand. It also needs to display plenty of white space, be simple to navigate, load quickly, and provide easy-to-find sizing information.

Luxury product consumers expect individualized, specialized sales treatment, and this expectation does not change when they shop online. Be sure that your site offers easy access to customer service representatives on every page — via live chat, phone, and e-mail. Provide free, expedited shipping, gift-wrapping services, and other perks to loyal customers. A luxury experience involves the feeling of getting something exclusive beyond what is offered to the general public.

2. Use Personalization Tools

In an industry steeped in heritage, tradition, and exclusivity, you might be surprised to learn that artificial intelligence (AI) has a central place in modern-day fashion. AI-powered personalization tools can be a powerful method to collect online data about customers’ shopping habits and recommend relevant products to create a more satisfying shopping experience. Directing customers to tailored product suggestions with prompts of “You may also like” or “Recommended for you” can help speed up (and up-sell) the entire shopping process.

3. Integrate Augmented Reality

Stunning, high-quality images that display multiple product angles and offer a zoom feature are an excellent start to any ecommerce site, but to really up the ante, explore ways to incorporate augmented reality (AR) into the shopping experience. When possible, allow customers to try on virtual products with an online avatar or with photos of themselves.

4. Strengthen Communication

While you should make your brand presence known on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, it is also essential to find ways to cross-market between all sales channels. This multi-channel approach will keep your customers more consistently engaged and interactive with your brand.

Get creative. Embed user-generated social media videos into your website to show how much customers love your brand; live-streaming behind-the-scenes videos from your office or production facility; posting shop-able Instagram posts; using AI features on smartphones to enhance retail shopping excursions, and generally encouraging online communities to rave about your products. All of these channels give you (and your customers) the opportunity to tell the compelling stories behind your brand.

5. Benchmark Brands that Have Made the Leap

One successful example is Nogin’s client Halston — an iconic fashion powerhouse that recently launched a contemporary diffusion line, Halston Heritage. Halston’s approachable digital strategy supports its ready-to-wear brand with direct customer communication on a highly shop-able flagship ecommerce site through expanded retail locations, various social media platforms, and multi-channel marketing techniques. In other words — anyone, anywhere, can now discover the Halston brand and purchase their products.

6. Reach Out to Emerging Global Markets

The world is at your fingertips — and, reciprocally, your brand is at the fingertips of a global customer base. Think bigger and create country-specific ecommerce storefronts that cater to local languages and appeal to various international inclinations.

7. Embrace Change

There’s little doubt that ecommerce is having a profound impact on the fashion industry and luxury enterprises. For continued success in our digital, global economy, high-fashion brands everywhere embrace various ecommerce sales strategies to share brand stories and simultaneously appeal to consumers’ senses and emotions.

With the help of rapidly developing technology, today’s ecommerce strategies can effectively capture the quality, tradition, and appeal of luxury products. Learn more about how Nogin technology can fuel best-in-class ecommerce services and solutions for your brand.

8. Focus on the Emotional Experience

Luxury fashion brand shoppers seek more than just new clothes or accessories — they expect a complete physical and emotional transformation. Luxury shoppers want to look good, feel good, and, ultimately, be noticed. Because they are shopping with their hearts and wallets, the most successful brands engage their customers’ emotions to sell products successfully.

9. Fashion Shoppers Expect to be Entertained

High fashion and entertainment have always been intertwined as consumers look to fashion brands for excitement, exclusivity, pleasure, and even comfort. Fashion brands — now almost co-operating as media organizations — answer the call for entertainment with everything from extravagant runway shows and fashion blogs to frequent social media posts and next season’s video lookbooks. To remain competitive, brands need to continually engage customers through constant communication, using various marketing channels.

10. Customers Take a Leap of Faith when They Click “Buy”

If you’ve ever abandoned an online shopping cart because you’re not sure whether an item will fit right or look good, then you’ve experienced firsthand one of the inherent weaknesses of fashion ecommerce. Customers often don’t know if the clothing items they admire online will fit well or flatter them “IRL.” Fortunately, newer technologies and strategies are developing that provide additional information to any customer who might be giving pause.

Some of these include: high-quality professional images that offer multiple angles and 360-degree views, in-context product videos, improved sizing charts, more details on materials, and cutting-edge solutions like digital dressing rooms. Such strategies are increasing online conversion rates — and even reducing returns.

11. There’s a Virtual War on Returns

Return rates — as high as 50% — continue to be a problem in the fashion industry. One of the most frequent reasons cited for product returns is a poor fit. However, with improved online sizing information and other virtual fitting solutions, retailers can expect a future reduction in this area. For now, to convince customers to take the risk, offering free returns and exchanges is essential to reduce your ecommerce return rate.

12. Focus on Personalization

These days, it’s all about personalization tools: augmented reality, smart fitting technologies, or AI-driven recommendations for products based on consumer searches or purchasing histories.

The more a brand can tailor product suggestions to the individual customer, the more likely it is she will not only complete check out but also purchase additional products — both right now and in future transactions. Today’s busy consumers don’t want to spend time searching, making it easy for them to locate their personal preferences.

13. It’s an Omni-Channel World Out There

Consumers expect seamless transitions between brick-and-mortar stores, ecommerce sites, and mobile devices. They will often use more than one channel to complete a purchase. For example, if they see something they like in a store, they might look up additional colors or care instructions on their mobile phones. If they browse your brand on a smartphone, they might complete the sale on a laptop. (Make sure that cart contents transfer between platforms!) If they send an inquiry via your website, they might want the response via text message. Always explore your full brand experience through your customers’ eyes to make online and experiences as fully integrated as possible.

14. Presentation Matters

Let’s face it; fashion consumers care about appearance. Be sure your online brand appears luxurious by maintaining a well-designed site, using consistently high-quality images, ensuring a smooth check-out process, giving as much information as possible upfront about your products, providing superior customer service, and frequently communicating with your customers about how your products can improve their lives. Also, a celebrity collaboration with your brand can do wonders to support a valuable image.

15. Don’t Twist Yourself into a Knot

The importance of being flexible in this rapidly changing world of fashion ecommerce cannot be emphasized enough. As technologies develop, trends change, and digital natives continue to impact the overall digital landscape — today’s effective strategies will need to be adjusted to meet tomorrow’s demands.

5 Common Myths about B2B Ecommerce, Debunked

myths-of-ecommerce

If you’ve been hesitating to move forward with a business-to-business (B2B) ecommerce site, there are some essential things you should know:

  • B2B ecommerce is rapidly expanding.
  • Millennials are increasingly influencing professional purchasing decisions.
  • Global revenues are predicted to top a staggering $6.6 trillion by 2020.
  • B2B ecommerce is growing twice as fast as business-to-consumer (B2C).

With these facts in mind, it’s probably time to implement online ordering for your B2B customers. If your brand is resisting this essential update, consider whether this might be a result of any of these common misconceptions about B2B ecommerce:

1. We Don’t Need a B2B Online Store

If you’ve already launched a luxury ecommerce site that offers your wares directly to consumers — that’s great! But you mustn’t stop there. If you aren’t also offering wholesalers, retailers, organizations, or resellers the opportunity to purchase your products online, you are almost certainly missing out on business. Companies can also accurately track ecommerce KPIs to help gain available insights into customer buying habits.  

Many online brands are both B2C and B2B — and you don’t need separate websites to manage both. Personalized browsing experiences can be established for B2B clients using customer group logins on your current site. (This works well for VIPs, too!)

2. B2B Customers Don’t Want to Order Online

The days of relying on sales representatives for product information are gone. Instead, today’s tech-savvy millennials conduct extensive online research before making purchasing decisions — and they expect to be able to order online. This demographic of buyers — an entire generation of digital natives (ages 18-24) — now accounts for almost half of B2B online researchers.

Millennials, in general, tend to avoid interacting with salespeople actively and instead turn to online reviews, peer recommendations, or outside experts when conducting product research.

They expect all of the conveniences of their personal online shopping habits to carry over into the business segment and prefer to order independently, with 24/7 research capability and total purchasing control. You can also save money and improve your profit margins by leveraging:

3. B2B Customer Service Can’t Be Managed Online

B2B customers expect quality customer service, and this doesn’t change when they’re shopping online. Existing ecommerce tools allow for excellent customer communication via e-mail, phone, text, or online chat. Because today’s buyers have a do-it-yourself ethic, it is also valuable to develop online, self-service information centers.

In the past, personal relationships were integral to B2B customer satisfaction, but today, the key to success lies more with speed. B2B customers expect near-immediate answers to their questions and quick resolutions to their concerns. If you are unable to provide this, they will find another company that can.

4. B2B Ecommerce Sites Can’t Handle Complex Pricing

We understand that B2B pricing can be more complicated than B2C. In most cases, B2B pricing concerns like pricing fluctuations, customer-specific pricing, bulk ordering, and custom orders can be resolved online by implementing the right B2B platform, especially in luxury ecommerce.

For instance, pre-negotiated pricing can be hidden from the general public by placing it behind customer logins. If customers need a custom quote, a quote engine can allow them to request a quote at any time; for future reorders, an individualized reorder button can be provided. Information on freight and volume shipping options can also be provided on your site.

5. B2B Sites Don’t Need to be Mobile-Friendly

Like direct product consumers, B2B customers also do mobile product research, read reviews, compare features and prices, and, more than ever, make purchases directly on their smartphones. If your site is not optimized for mobile users, you will lose business.

If any of these common misconceptions have been preventing you from developing or optimizing your brand’s B2B ecommerce site, now is the time to look towards some custom solutions. Nogin can assess all of your ecommerce needs, and soon, your business customers will benefit from more immediate, effective, convenient, and reliable online buying experiences.

Need Help Improving your B2B Ecommerce Storefront? Leverage Intelligent Commerce Using Nogin

If you need help optimizing your entire B2B ecommerce storefront, leverage the most advanced ecommerce operating system with Nogin. Set up a time to chat with a team member to learn about our comprehensive suite of services to catapult your business from a medium enterprise to a big-retail juggernaut. Our innovative process has helped dozens of brands increase online sales while reducing operating and marketing costs. 

Evolution of Ecommerce: Trends, Innovation, and What the Future Holds

evolution-of-ecommerce

The world has changed quite drastically over the first half of 2020. The ongoing pandemic has forever altered the way people work, live, and shop. The ecommerce revolution that was once promised with the dot-com boom of the 90s seems to have finally come to fruition.

People are shopping online more than ever before, and ecommerce is growing and evolving in real-time. Large or small, the digital landscape has forced retailers to overhaul their entire operations and move towards omnichannel software solutions. Large retailers are building their platforms and whole teams of web developers to make the shift, while smaller brands find themselves hamstrung by the development costs and operational shifts necessary to make the change.

So, where does ecommerce go from here?

Every day more and more platforms are popping up to accommodate the need for ecommerce. For every entry point software like Shopify, three new companies pop up. Even Salesforce has moved quickly into the space with its CommerceCloud suite. So how do these platforms compare? How do they distinguish themselves from one another? We know that nothing is certain. This revolution started 30 years ago, and the coronavirus pandemic has exponentially sped up the process.  

However, when looking at the last 30 years, it becomes pretty clear where these trends are taking us. Moreover, by analyzing those trends and insights, we can better understand where online retail goes from here. Let’s discuss how ecommerce has transformed business in our country and the latest trends that will guide the future of commerce. 

How Has Ecommerce Changed the American Economy?

ecommerce-trends-statistics

There are between 12-24 million ecommerce sites across the world, and new merchants continue to enter the marketplace to capitalize on consumer shifts to online retail. In 2020, the new coronavirus ecommerce landscape launched online shopping into the stratosphere. Online shopping accounted for 21.3% of total retail sales in 2020 alone, compared to 15.8% in 2019. Additionally, consumers spent $861.12 billion online with U.S. merchants in 2020, a 44% increase from the $598.02 billion spent in 2019. 

Ecommerce is the fastest growing sector in the United States marketplace. Businesses can run more efficient and cost-effective operations using online storefronts by leveraging 3pl ecommerce fulfillment and ecommerce conversion funnels. Also, online retailers have access to a bounty of informative analytics to help them understand their target audience and refine their marketing strategies. They can establish ecommerce KPIs and effectively assess their results month-over-month to improve their operations. 

Why is Digital Commerce Important?

Digital commerce is becoming more important for businesses since customers continue to shift their time, attention, and money towards online mediums. It will be tough for a company to survive if they have little online presence and can only rely on foot track for transactions. 

Consumers rely on digital content, such as written descriptions, images, and videos, to learn more about the products and services they want to buy. No longer can a shopper ask retail employees for recommendations or physically touch a product before checking out. 

Businesses must invest heavily into their online presence and create a dynamic and attractive experience for visitors. 65% of customers feel that a company’s app or website impacts their overall experience. 92% of people also are more likely to purchase from a company that provides an emotional journey. 

Merchants must develop a comprehensive online experience and shift budgets towards ecommerce rather than a physical storefront. They have to create a complete marketing plan that encompasses social media, SEO, PPC, and digital content to attract customers from various avenues. They have to cater to mobile shoppers because mobile transactions continue to become more prominent. In fact, 51% of website traffic comes from mobile alone. 

If you need help building your online empire, invest in the best ecommerce software and enterprise ecommerce solutions to dominate your market before your competitors take your spot. 

What Percentage of Ecommerce Businesses Fail?

Around 90% of ecommerce startups fail within the first four months of operations. Merchants cite the main reasons for failure include poor marketing and search engine visibility. It is especially hard for new brands and merchants to reach their audience if they are battling goliaths in their industry. Many top brands invest millions into marketing to capture and convert leads. 

If you want your business to thrive, it is imperative to carve out a niche and develop an effective marketing funnel to draw in your target audience. Check out our guide to learn how to properly scale your ecommerce business from scratch and our ultimate product listing strategies to ensure your customers convert. 

The Impact of Ecommerce on Emerging Markets and Consumer Behavior

Ecommerce has changed the way people approach shopping. The ecommerce industry is part of the larger digital ecosystem, and different components influence how consumers find and buy products. Social commerce is an integral part of electronic commerce, and digital social interaction is directly tied to the online shopping experience. For instance, brand partnerships and celebrity collaborations can support a product’s growth and entice consumers to purchase items. The marketing is embedded into social media posting rather than a traditional advertisement. 

Online merchants can employ retail pricing strategies coupled with their marketing efforts to entice consumers. People can discover discounted products by searching for particular items in search, and PPC links can display links to exclusive deals. They can also run A/B tests to evaluate the best prices for their products. 

Consumers also are much more invested in a company’s mission rather than just their products. For instance, a visitor may feel more compelled to purchase from a particular brand if they work with charitable organizations or humanely produce their products. Ecommerce has transformed how sellers must approach branding and interaction with their customers. They must design a storefront that is not just a place to buy something but an immersive experience to guide consumers on a journey, especially in the luxury ecommerce industry. 

How to Grow a Category in Ecommerce

There are many ecommerce myths out there, but there are several strategies that are sure to compel your business to the next level:

  • Develop content with high-purchase intent. Once consumers land on your product listings, make sure to include value-based descriptions, high-definition images, and video demonstrations. 
  • Have a comprehensive marketing plan that encompasses web and search engine optimization, social media ads, and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads. Test which channels are best for reaching your audience and generate the best return on ad spend. 
  • Use a variety of keywords to categorize your product listings. Always have a main category listing but use subcategories to help match user search intent with your product pages. 
  • Utilize testimonials on your website and compel your customers to leave reviews on your Google My Business listing or product pages. Products with many high-star reviews are an excellent way to demonstrate your product’s quality and build trust with new visitors.

Top Ecommerce Trends and Innovations

ecommerce-trends

Let’s discuss some of the most noteworthy ecommerce trends and innovations in the industry and how you can use them to your advantage:

1. Your Store lives on Social

People live their lives on social media. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, WhatsApp, Tumblr, or another burgeoning platform, most people share their lives on some medium of social media. It’s only natural for shopping to evolve to be a part of that experience.

Over the last year, social media has gained tremendous momentum in the world of ecommerce. According to Forbes, there has been a 146% year-over-year growth in online retail orders alone, and almost all social platforms now have some sort of commerce offering.

Understanding the value of placing products where people shop, Facebook first introduced Marketplace in 2007. Although it may have been a bit ahead of its time as it never really gained traction and was spun off to Oodle, they continued building the platform. They re-introduced a new marketplace in 2017 with the idea of engaging shoppers through social interaction.  

Likewise, in March of 2019, Instagram launched an ecommerce checkout feature to allow brands to meet customers where they live. The feature enables users to make product purchases without ever leaving the app while enabling IG brands to build actionable consumer profiles.

Instagram order screen

Seamless purchases through social media are essential in today’s marketplace. If consumers find your brand in their social feeds but have to leave the platform to make a purchase, chances are, the sale is lost. Whether it’s email marketing, webpage optimization, or social sales, the fewer clicks it take to complete an action, the better, and conversion rates agree. An impulse buy should never take more than three clicks.

Suppose your brand is not utilizing all that social media offers. In that case, you are quite simply missing a critical opportunity to connect with your audience (and future audiences) on a far more profound, emotional level. From chasing trends and hashtags to laser-focused audience targeting and utilizing influencer marketing, brands should be using every tool they can to access those that directly align with their brand.

2. Tell Your Audience What They Want

Predictive analytics is nothing new, but it is primarily utilized by big box stores and those brands with billion-dollar budgets. However, through the growth of Big Data and machine learning, coupled with the surge of online shopping, platforms such as Nogin have helped brands leverage their data to deliver solutions to brands at a much more affordable entry price.

Predictive Analytics allows brands to:

  • Predict what people are planning to purchase
  • Determine a successful pricing strategy
  • Improve logistics
  • Grant more significant insights into promotions
  • Minimize fraud

The future of retail is entirely reliant on predictive data, regardless of product or vertical. If your brand isn’t utilizing statistical techniques, data mining, predictive modeling, and machine learning to analyze historical data and make predictions relevant to your business, you are left behind. Understanding customer behavior is one of the keys to competing with big retail.

3. Improved Logistics: The Future of Ecommerce Delivery

Consistent delivery across all of your sales channels is pertinent to a brand’s success. When Amazon can ship almost any item within 24 hours at no cost to the brand, this can seem like a daunting task for small to mid-market brands to keep pace. Brands need to self-reflect on what they can deliver and be honest with their customers as to delivery times. That may still leave your brand behind and needing to pay for a logistics solution that can compete, which can shrink profitability.

Finding a solution to handle all three flows of logistics while maintaining competitive SLAs can be difficult. Therefore, your primary focus must start with inventory management; knowing where everything is along your supply chain is critical. Utilizing a system that manages reordering, deliveries, fulfillment, and more is essential.  When completed, you will have created that high-level view of your inventory. It becomes time to focus on a delivery service that aligns with your brand’s needs.

Once your brand has determined the necessary services, the next step is to ensure they display them everywhere. They should ensure that they appropriately optimize them for search rendering with quick access to delivery options.  Every page should clearly present the offer and a link to the delivery options. 

Merchants should display shipping rates, delivery time, and other information clearly and concisely throughout the buyer’s journey.  Then repeat it. And repeat it again at checkout.  Managing customer expectations can be a brand’s greatest promotional tool.

4. Talk to Your Customers

To put it into terms that Visa gave us:

Getting a customer to your website: $10 in SEO. Getting direct one on one conversation with your potential buyer: Priceless.

However, hiring the staff necessary to handle direct inquiries does have a price. It wouldn’t be financially feasible for many brands to hire an entire call center in-house to deal with direct customer interactions.  Therefore many brands have created AI chatbots loaded with answers to common questions to limit human customer relations.  

Over the years, these chatbots have become unbelievably proficient in solving customer’s needs, and in the future may be impossible to distinguish between a real human interaction.

As brands continue to fight to improve their customer service with chatbots and various instant messaging applications, outsourcing to a call center is always an option. Either way, ensuring that the potential customer has productive, practical, and timely information in response to their inquiries is once again critical to the success of competing with larger retailers.

The Art of a Deal: Sitewide and Exclusion Sales

sitewide and exclusion sales

It’s a given that consumers love sales, but they’re also a necessary part of doing business online beyond being a key driver for purchases. Whether it’s a sitewide sale or a special promotion where exclusions apply, a lot of thought goes into crafting a deal that benefits both the brand and its customers.

Let’s discuss some of the best strategies for your ecommerce sitewide sales and the best retail markdown and promotional strategies to maximize your profits. 

Why Sales are Important?

Ecommerce storefronts carry costs of keeping products in inventory. Businesses can use markdown strategies and promotional cycles to lower costs while also driving revenue to move products off the shelves. They are especially important for fashion brands, where many of the products have a shorter shelf life—roughly a 2-3 month cycle—due to seasonality and style trends.

Sales are an excellent tool for moving merchandise quickly, but there is more to sales strategy than meets the eye. “When planning a sale, a brand first needs to figure out the end goal,” says Jeff Deisner, Nogin’s Chief Customer Officer. “Is the goal to drive people to the site to purchase a lot, drive top-line revenue numbers, manage a level of profitability on the storefront, or something else completely?”

That goal can help influence the decision on what kind of promotion to offer. Sitewide sales are the simplest to execute, but in many cases, exclusions make sense—perhaps they’re a better fit for the nature of the overall promotion, or perhaps brands want to avoid discounting an item they’ve already discounted.

Running a promotional sale on social media or a Google ads campaign is an excellent way to bring attractive leads through your ecommerce conversion funnel. Entice viewers by highlighting the sale, the minimal quantity, and specify it is a limited-time offer to drive urgency and scarcity. Both elements are essential to any product listing strategy or retail pricing strategy

The Three Best Sales Promotion and Retail Markdown Strategies

There are three key concepts to keep in mind when formulating sales offers:

  1. How are brands promoting the product?
  2. How will brands reach out to customers to let them know about the promotion?
  3. What is the end goal for the product?

To help you answer these questions, use our three best sales promotion strategies to guide your efforts. 

Listen to Your Audience

For pricing, Deisner says brands should study how their customers. For example, do a particular brand’s customers prefer sitewide sales, buy-one-get-one-free deals, gift-with-purchase promotions, or percentage- or dollar-based discounts? To determine what will work best, brands can leverage data on past purchases or examine larger industry trends. This is where it can be helpful for brands to partner with an ecommerce specialist. By integrating advanced ecommerce software, ecommerce businesses can access deeper insights into their customers’ buying habits to optimize their storefront for conversions and improved retention. 

“We recently worked with a brand that traditionally ran percentage-based promotions, 30% or 40% off, and it was clear there was an uptick in consumer demand for those products,” Deisner says. “We’d seen success in other areas where we took a dollar amount off and tied it in with something like free shipping, and we wondered if it would have more of an impact for this brand. We alternated those promotions: one week, it would be a percentage off. The next, it would be a dollar amount. We ended up finding that the percentage off was much more enticing, especially if it was a sitewide sale. We made a sitewide sale with a small number of exclusions, so we didn’t discount already marked down products too significantly, and we messaged it the right way.”

Make Your Promotional Product the Star

In terms of messaging, brands should advertise their sales on their sites and mention any applicable exclusions. “Generally, we find that when a website makes it clear what product is being promoted, it’s a big contributing factor in driving conversion rates higher for the promotion,” Deisner says. “We leverage strikethrough pricing, which is a way to present the original price crossed out, with the sale price beside it. Customers can see the price difference and know it’s a good deal.”

A good sale announcement will spark a lot of interest right away, but brands will want to sustain that momentum. Emails can effectively communicate promotional offers to customers along with social ads and SMS texts. Brands can craft campaigns around them that run throughout the sale period. To reinforce a sense of urgency, brands may put time limits on promotions or advertise a limited stock of items on sale.

Partner With an Ecommerce Expert to Guide You

Sometimes sales get an overwhelming customer reaction with products flying off the shelves; other times, a promotion just may not be taking off. In either case, Nogin gets real-time results that help brands respond quickly, for instance, by ordering more inventory for sale or crafting different messaging to get the word out.

“There is no magic wand for brands to figure out how best to promote and sell their product,” Deisner says. “They will benefit from engaging a partner like us that can drive decisions based on past experience and understanding best practices, for the greatest likelihood of success.”