Wednesday 11th December 2013 Holiday Sales and Big Data Feedback
The holiday shopping season kicked off with its usual fanfare this year, as the twin retail shopping leaders Black Friday and Cyber Monday drove even larger sales volumes worldwide than ever before. Originally the domain of the American holiday shopping season, the phenomenon has been so successful that it has finally spread across the Atlantic and landed in the United Kingdom. While only the grocery chain Asda has adopted the trend so far, the sheer scope of their success will no doubt pave the way for more widespread adoption of the practice by retailers in 2014.
One of the most interesting changes in the popularity of the two shopping days was visible thanks to the scope of big data. Thanks to some careful mining of consumer mentions throughout social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter, social analytics firm SAP was able to determine that North America was abuzz with mentions of the two days, showing an increase in mentions of almost 500% for Black Friday and almost 300% for Cyber Monday, as compared to 2012.
Another of the more interesting tidbits to come out of this analysis was the firm's ability to track the general sentiment among consumers regarding the two days. While Black Friday enjoyed a much more widespread reach, consumers were far more likely to pair Cyber Monday with a generally positive statement. Additionally, as we've discussed in the past, the apparel sector has been making huge inroads into the e-commerce world, with apparel mentions up an almost unbelievable 1900% compared to 2012.
The true value of this study becomes visible when retailers consider the possibility for a real-time monitoring situation of general sentiment on social networks regarding big sales events. If customers are consistently reporting problems, a careful and attentive social media presence can avert negative trends almost as soon as they start. Thanks to the ubiquity of mobile devices and their omnipresent access to social media, customers often voice their opinions - positive or negative - while still in the store, giving retailers a chance to reach out and correct problems. Working in conjunction with a competitor tracking system, retailers are poised to take the advantages of big data and social media all the way to the bottom line - and then straight to the bank well ahead of the competition.
Posted on December 11th 2013 at 02:27pm by Ade
Saturday 07th December 2013 Amazon One of Several Testing Drone Deployments
In the ever-changing world of online commerce, the one unavoidable real-world concern is that at some point, a physical product has to be shipped out the customer. A number of different types of solutions have been posed for this problem, and we've discussed a number of them in the past. Centrally-located pickup stations where customers can retrieve their own packages, Sunday deliveries, free shipping deals to tempt buyers, and most recently, online retail giant Amazon has even begun to test out the feasibility of using their own Amazon branded trucks to complete deliveries in major cities in Europe and North America. But never being satisfied with the current system is one of the hallmarks of CEO Jeff Bezos' business philosophy, so he's looking even further into the future.
Even though it sounds like it belongs in a science fiction story, Amazon is currently testing out the viability of using miniaturized flying robotic drones for delivery. Yes, you read that right. The small drones, known as 'octocopters', will be capable of delivering a package weighing up to 5 pounds (2.25 kg) within a radius of up to 10 miles from your friendly neighbourhood Amazon fulfillment centre. The goal? Delivery of packages within a 30 minute time window.
Once the story first broke over the American Thanksgiving weekend, it rapidly went viral and could be found on virtually every single news and social networking site. Speculation began almost immediately that this was actually carefully calculated timing by Bezos, which resulted in huge amount of free advertising just in advance of the much-vaunted Cyber Monday, the digitally-based counterpart to Black Friday.
Naturally, the drone deployment project is still in the very early testing phases, and a huge number of hurdles will have to be cleared before the devices are operating legally in the United States, but if the program is successful, the incredible convenience is likely to reshape the entire e-commerce industry. Amazon is hardly the only company interested in the applications of this technology, although they are certainly one of the largest. In Australia, textbook rental service Zookal is experimenting with using drones for rapid delivery, and in China, SF Express, a large delivery company, is also testing out drone deployment for more general courier services in the city of Dongguan, in the Guangdong province.
Whenever they are finally cleared for widespread use, the face of e-commerce retail will be changed forever, as rapid, personalized deliveries will be available for a large number of household and convenience items that are currently impractical to purchase online. As the system grows, the technical hurdles of weight and speed will also no doubt be improved, opening the door for even greater possibilities.
Posted on December 07th 2013 at 03:39pm by Ade
Wednesday 04th December 2013 Big Data for Brick and Mortar
Over the last several years as e-commerce companies began to truly appreciate the wealth of data that was being generated by the customers who used their websites, brick and mortar businesses have struggled against the competitive advantage conferred by so-called 'big data'. Buying habits, preferences, and even uncompleted purchases could all be combined to create an incredibly vivid profile of customers, both present and potential. Offline generation of 'big data' has traditionally been limited to the realm of loyalty programs and rewards cards, and it pales in comparison to the breadth and depth of information being captured and leveraged by the e-commerce world.
With the debut of a new program from startup Swarm Mobile, that may be set to change. Driven in large part by the ubiquity of mobile phones and their users' equally-ubiquitous desire for free Wi-Fi internet access, Swarm Mobile is betting that customers will be willing to submit themselves to in-store tracking in exchange for free internet access. Swarm will track what customers are browsing online while they're in the store, in one of the most innovative gambits to counteract the plague of showrooming. All customer internet access will be collated and analyzed in a real-time dashboard accessible via the store staff. If a customer has just found better retail prices online, staff can send them a targeted digital coupon for the specific product that they're interested in.
When combined with a general price tracking system designed to ensure retailers are matching the industry pricing trends, Swarm Mobile might be the best answer yet to the problems faced by brick and mortar businesses in the modern era. There are two major hurdle to their widespread adoption, the double-edged sword of privacy and engagement. Getting consumers to consent to being tracked while online in store may be a tough sell, and even if they do agree, the second edge comes into play. As we discussed a week or so ago in an article about digital coupons, customers aren't yet ready to embrace them. Only roughly 5% of UK customers said they would be highly likely to use a digital coupon they received in-store, although that number is doubtless soon to drift upwards.
Is Swarm Mobile the answer to the data woes of the offline world? Maybe, but it's likely to work best as part of a larger, carefully planned and integrated system designed to keep prices competitive. Time will tell, as the march of progress rolls on and the lines between the online world and the offline world grow blurrier every day.
Posted on December 04th 2013 at 03:27pm by James
Friday 29th November 2013 Coming Opportunities for Location-based Retail Advertising
We've all heard the hype about the way mobile phones are impacting the retail landscape around the world. The ubiquity of mobile phones is a game-changer. Mobile is the next revolution. Online/offline crossovers are the next great marketing channel. The list of aphorisms goes on, but up until now, aside from check-in kings Foursquare, not many services have been able to capitalise on this much-touted mobile advertising revolution. In coming months that may change thanks to a new location-based system cleverly named 'Earshot'.
Earshot, while billed as a social media CRM (customer relations management) solution, allows companies to create location-based advertisements and social interactions with customers, based on the geolocation information supplied by their mobile device. As a potential customer moves throughout a city, tweeting or posting on Facebook, Earshot filters through the multiplicity of social media feeds for posts that are both relevant to client businesses and located near brick and mortar stores - in other words, within 'earshot' of the storefront itself.
This novel solution to the question of targeted advertising in the real world has the potential to gain real traction, especially within retail sectors based around impulse purchases. High volume shopping days - especially those such as today's Black Friday bonanzas and other holiday sales events - would be perfect applications for Earshot, when many stores run out of inventory for high demand items. Disappointed customers venting their frustration on Twitter could be contact by smaller stores who still have the sought-after item in stock.
The rapid pace at which mobile is impacting the retail world makes it impossible to ignore. Companies who are ever ready to try implementations of new technological innovations are almost guaranteed to be the forward thinkers who will gain a competitive advantage over their entire industry. Technologies like Earshot will become even more widespread as the idea catches on and it's forced to deal with its own competitors, but in the mean time, a savvy company that combined Earshot with a well-executed competitor price monitoring solution would be extremely well positioned in their market, possibly even dominating their retail sector in their city.
Posted on November 29th 2013 at 04:16pm by James
Tuesday 26th November 2013 Anti-Showrooming Tactics Still Leave Much to be Desired
For owners of brick and mortar stores, foot traffic has always been the gold standard of commercial viability. The more people enter your store, the more potential customers you have, and at that point it's up to your in-store displays and sales staff to turn potential into money in the bank. To the chagrin of many retailers, this metric has begun to lose its value in recent years thanks to a practice that has come to be known as 'showrooming'. Driven by the growing ubiquity of smartphones equipped with high speed internet access, showrooming was named after the fact that it began to relegate brick and mortar stores to the status of showrooms instead of commercial establishments. Potential customers visit a store to see a product in person, to handle it and perhaps test it out, and then - often while still in the store - use their smartphones to search out better prices online, and make their actual purchase somewhere else.
This has left physically-based retailers scrambling to catch up to the ever-advancing march of technology, and as a result a number of potential solutions have been floated. Technologies such as location-aware applications and digital in-store discounts are two of the most popular, but they are still struggling to gain a foothold. In fact, according to a study performed in June of this year by retail research agency Conlumino in the United Kingdom, just over 5% of respondents said they would be highly likely to use a digital coupon they received while in-store. The number gets a bit more reasonable when you include the almost 23% who said they're fairly likely to use one, but remember that doesn't include those who are actively showrooming, just a random sampling of customers, indicating that there is still a great deal of headway to be made against the practice in general.
Rather than investing heavily in technological distractions, one of the simplest and most direct solutions would be to employ a price monitoring solution that provided daily updates on pricing trends across the web, so that in-store prices could be updated in order to ensure that customers aren't lost to showrooming.
Posted on November 26th 2013 at 10:08pm by Ade
Friday 22nd November 2013 Elusive Markets Transitioning to E-commerce
Ever since the very first years of the e-commerce boom, some industries have made huge inroads into the online market while others have seemed perpetually entrenched in the brick and mortar world. While electronics and books were enjoying the brave new world, everything from fashion to food to cosmetics seemed unable to capitalise on new delivery channels. A number of theories have been floated about this, but they all seemed to come back to the same conclusion (if you can call it that), which was that some things people just wanted to see before they purchased. However, thanks to a number of different technological innovations and trends, this is finally starting to shift.
Online grocery shopping is still have a difficult time competing with the offline model, although newer offerings from Amazon combined with smaller 'eat local' online initiatives should start a shakeup in the marketplace. Fashion is also beginning to overcome their traditional blockages, with a host of new online tailoring options popping up every day. JackThreads, a men's fashion brand, has boasted huge success in a very difficult market, and they're only one of many new fashion success stories. ASOS, a fashion house based in the UK, is also enjoying tremendous e-commerce success on both sides of the Atlantic.
With all that in mind, it should come as no surprise that UK online consumers have finally embraced the elusive cosmetics industry - but it might anyways. In Q3 of this year, cosmetics related searches have increased by a whopping 48% compared to the previous quarter, according to new research published by e-commerce trend analysis firm eMarketer this month. While most of the searches wind up with results leading to Amazon or eBay, the prospect of capturing 2.5 million monthly searches on Google alone should have cosmetics and beauty product retailers gearing up for a heavy online push.
There is some speculation that this dramatic increase is partly related to the upcoming holiday season, as UK consumers ranked the sector as tied for second-most popular gift ideas, but the timing isn't close enough to explain the entirety of the increase. Showrooming may also be responsible, as customers in-store start searching online for cheaper prices, but that still offers online retailers a huge incentive to finally break into this lucrative market.
Posted on November 22nd 2013 at 01:21pm by Ade
Wednesday 20th November 2013 Dedicated Shopping Engines Gain Traction
One of the largest barriers for e-commerce consumers lies between seeing an item they want to purchase offline and finding it online. No matter how well they remember an item, not knowing where to purchase it can stymy even the most savvy searchers. Naturally, search engines by their very nature have attempted to solve this problem, with Google Shopping and other similar services that aim to leverage the search capabilities of the best search engines. No matter how well they integrate, however, they are going to be based on a model that is originally derived from search for information instead of products.
Enter the shopping search engine, a niche search engine geared specifically towards finding products for sale. In the past, they've been plagued by inconsistencies and outdated data, dramatically reducing their effectiveness. These problems have been solved by one of the new rising stars of the shopping search market, TheFind. Originally conceived in 2005 and built from the ground up with shopping search in mind, TheFind recently published some impressive numbers that help define the scope of their operation.
Earlier this year, they finally reached the impressive achievement of hosting 1 billion shopping searches, with customers viewing over 100 billion products in total. TheFind indexes over 500,000 stores and upwards of 500 million products. To counterbalance the data issues that plagued shopping search engines in the past, their database is updated daily to the tune of 100 million listings being adjusted to reflect changes in pricing, discounts, availability and other factors.
Interestingly, TheFind also seems to easily overcoming some of the other challenges that comprise the holy grail of online shopping: adaptive algorithmic and socially-driven recommendations are included by default, and they have already launched an iPad application that helps create the 30% of their total traffic that comes from mobile devices.
This truly levels the playing field when it comes to putting small retailers up with larger ones, as small retailers in obscure niches often have a difficult time reaching customers. When coupled with the recommendation algorithms from TheFind, the online shopping experience truly begins to rival that of an offline experience, where simply wandering down the High Street or through a shopping mall can expose customers to products they didn't even realise they wanted.
Posted on November 20th 2013 at 12:58pm by Ade
Friday 15th November 2013 The Spread of Digital Coupons
As everyone in the world is aware, the last few years have been rife with economic turmoil in almost every nation. Unsurprisingly, this lead directly to dramatically increased price and value consciousness in consumers for almost every retail sector imaginable. Discounts and deals have become almost the norm instead of specials, and the trend shows no sign of stopping now. When combined with the general expansion of e-commerce around the world, it should be no surprise that the coupon's digital twin is rapidly growing in popularity as well.
In fact, a recent projection from e-commerce retail analysis firm eMarketer suggests that more than half of the internet users in the United States will redeem digital coupons at some point during the 2013 fiscal year. Data acquired during the first two sales quarters of 2013 indicated that their initial annual project was too modest, and they revised their adoption figures upwards to reflect the growing trend.
The ever-expanding mobile space plays a part in this growth, with over 42 million adult smartphone users expected to redeem digital coupons during their regular purchasing habits, an whopping increase of over 40%, following a growth of over 60% in the previous year. Tablet users in the United States are even more likely to redeem digital coupons, with over 45 million consumers projected to take advantage of these savings, and rapid growth is projected for the next two years, when the tablet-owning population will have roughly doubled in size.
Clearly, this is a market ripe with opportunity for savvy businesses. With the 2013 holiday sales season fast approaching with the one-two punch of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there's no better time to roll out a digital coupon marketing solution. A rapid rollout in time for these blockbuster sales days is the perfect chance to test-drive your solution to prepare for the even more lucrative holiday and end of year sales that always close out the holiday season.
With consumers so keenly attenuated to differences in price, a well-planned digital coupon solution give you a chance to get the drop on your competitors this holiday season. If you combine your planning phase with a price monitoring solution, you can tailor your coupon codes to ensure that consumers choose to buy from you instead of the competition!
Posted on November 15th 2013 at 03:13pm by Ade
Wednesday 13th November 2013 Amazon Debuts New Shipping Pilot Project
It's no secret to either e-commerce retailers or their customers that the problem of shipping is one of the biggest hurdles for the industry. Time and time again, the question of shipping appears on customer satisfaction surveys, and is one of the major concerns for customers looking for a blend of speed and convenience when it comes to purchasing decisions. In the United States, at least, Amazon is hoping to solve this problem with it's newest innovation, an unprecedented partnership with the United States Postal Service which would result in Sunday deliveries of Amazon products.
The service is currently only in a 'pilot project' testing phase, and will be rolled out in New York and Los Angeles - although if the project is a success, they plan to roll out the service to other major metropolitan areas across the United States. Sunday deliveries will available free to members of the Amazon Prime service, and non-members can still take advantage of the service for free if they cross a certain order size. For Prime members, this can mean ordering Friday for delivery on Sunday, which is likely to tip the balance in favour of Amazon purchases over taking a trip to the store for many consumers.
While no plans have been announced to partner with the Royal Mail in the United Kingdom as of yet, if it goes as smoothly as planned in the United States, it's sure to be rolled out wherever demand is great enough to justify the additional operating costs. When combined with the billions that Amazon has been investing in warehouses and other types of infrastructure around the world, it's clear that the new future of online retail will be geared towards merging convenience shopping with the speed of visiting a local store.
In the United Kingdom, Amazon is instead beginning to experiment with delivering its own packages on Sundays, launching pilot projects in some of the more heavy-volume delivery areas of London during the tail end of 2013, hoping to capitalise on holiday sales volume. Assuming they can keep their costs below what they charge to send via the Royal Mail, a whole new wave of Amazon-centred delivery services may be in the offing. Either way, other e-commerce giants will soon have to begin to follow suit or be eclipsed by Amazon's ever-expanding e-commerce empire.
Posted on November 13th 2013 at 01:36pm by James
Saturday 09th November 2013 Gearing Up for Black Friday and Cyber Monday
As the holiday season approaches, the traditional seasonal frenzy starts off in the United States with the post-Thanksgiving blockbuster sales weekend duo of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In years past, Black Friday has always been an amazingly profitable day for brick and mortar stores, but it reached a new height in 2012, with over $1 billion in online sales alone. As if that wasn't enough, the more online-oriented Cyber Monday smashed that record with over $1.5 billion dollars in sales. Remember, these are numbers for single days of shopping - and even if you're not based in the US, you can still capitalise on these sales frenzies with some good planning.
First of all, make sure that your discounts and sales for those days are specifically branded with the right names, as customers will be browsing to make sure they're getting the best deals. Even if you're planning on offering a sale or discount during that time period anyways, you may want to consider showing a special version of your site aimed at American visitors that contains Black Friday/Cyber Monday branding.
Especially if you're not based in the US, consider adding in a 'Free Shipping' deal, as shipping costs can become major barriers to purchase if items must be shipped globally. Defray the cost of this offer by setting a minimum purchase amount to qualify, which often pushes customers into purchasing more than they had initially planned in order to qualify.
Another cheeky trick you might want to try out is the idea of a countdown to the days in question. While it may have a slightly detrimental effect on your sales during the run-up to the weekend, it will more than make up for it with the number of users who flock back to your site to ensure they get a chance to make their purchases in what they perceive as a very limited time discount.
One other concern for e-commerce retailers during this rush period is to ensure that the servers hosting your website and payment processing can handle a sudden and dramatic increase in traffic. Most of you won't have to worry about this, but smaller stores may want to speak to their hosting companies to determine what volume of concurrent visitors they can handle - the last thing you want to happen to your site is for it to be inaccessible to people who are eager to purchase from you!
Posted on November 09th 2013 at 12:50pm by James
Thursday 07th November 2013 Companies Boosting Mobile Marketing Budgets
Companies around the world are finally truly the coming dominance of mobile commerce over the retail market, according to the latest joint research study conducted by BuyDesire and Econsultancy. As many as 70% of retailers polled said that they would be increasing their budgets for mobile marketing over the coming year in order to cater to the advertising demand created by increasing mobile usage. At the moment, relatively few companies are actively advertising in the mobile space, but this is poised to change dramatically.
The slow adoption of mobile marketing is driven by several issues, namely that content providers have had difficulty finding useful and effective ways of incorporating advertising into the limited screen real estate offered by mobile devices. In some cases, such as those of Google and social media giant Facebook whose entire valuations are based on advertising, this was causing some concern among shareholders, as mobile usage grew without a corresponding ability to advertise to that user segment. However, the problem is being addressed in a number of different ways, and retailers are finally getting on board to help.
In addition to advertising on those popular channels, many companies are embracing the need for websites specially tailored for the mobile market. Almost a third of companies polled indicated that they will be deploying sites aimed specifically at tablet users, which are geared towards touchscreen with smaller screens that desktops and laptops. Additionally, companies are beginning to embrace location-based marketing for GPS enabled smartphone users, and mobile commerce in general, with 20% of companies deploying m-commerce solutions over the coming year.
Over the last year, we discussed the practice employed by some more tech-savvy consumers known as 'showrooming', in which consumers visit a brick and mortar store to actually see and use a product, but then wind up searching for a better price using their mobile phones, effectively relegating physical stores to product showrooms. However, this increase in awareness of the value of mobile commerce and the growing mobile market should encourage companies to invest the money in a viable mobile solution that will work to enhance the customer's in-store experience. If handled correctly, 'showrooming' can be made a thing of the past, with brick and mortar stores enjoying a channel crossover that will boost sales and encourage customers to visit physical locations.
Posted on November 07th 2013 at 06:23pm by James
Friday 01st November 2013 Upcoming Holiday Season Predictions for Retailers
After a number of difficult years in the global economy, retailers finally have a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of the 2013 holiday shopping season. According to a recent report issued by retail and business analysis firm Deloitte, shoppers are planning on increasing the amount of spending for the first time since the now-infamous 2008 global economic downturn. While the Deloitte forecasts are specifically for the United States, it's not unreasonable to project these expectations across a broader audience of North American and European retailers.
The best news in the report was directly geared towards e-commerce retailers, as for the very first time since its inclusion in the survey, online shopping became the number one purchase destination for consumers. A whopping 47% of all shoppers said they would be making online purchases for this holiday season, compared with the more typical leader from previous years, discount/value stores, which came in at 44% for this year. The convenience of online shopping was considered the most compelling draw for customers, with 76% of respondents listing it as their main consideration, so retailers should take note and ensure that their infrastructure is capable of scaling to meet increased demand this year. Nothing is more frustrating for customers than having gifts arrive late because of a logistics problem, and unprepared businesses could lose huge profits to the competition if they run into similar snags.
As we've discussed in the past, omni-channel consistency is one of the most important things for companies to implement, and the reasons couldn't be more clear in this report: those customers who bridge the gaps between mobile, online and in-store shopping reported planning to spend as much as 76% more than those who shop in-store only. It's possible that this sales boost alone could allow businesses to quickly recoup the investment costs associated with expanding into multiple channels.
Overall, the picture is generally rosy for retailers across the board for the first time in many years, but retailers, especially those who focus on e-commerce, should note that another critical sales driver for customers is holiday promotions, with 73% of respondents saying it would influence their shopping decisions. Make sure that you stay on top of the discounts and price changes that are typical of the retail holiday season by using a robust price monitoring solution, and you can ensure that your business will have as joyous a holiday season as your satisfied customers!
Posted on November 01st 2013 at 12:50pm by Ade
Wednesday 30th October 2013 Amazon Gears Up to Challenge Paypal
There may be promising changes on the horizon for both customers and smaller online retailers, as Amazon unveiled a new service earlier this October. The new offering, named perhaps somewhat unimaginatively 'Login and Pay with Amazon', is poised to enter a market that is currently dominated by Paypal and the usual credit card suspects. At participating third-party websites, customers will be able to use the login details, payment details and shipping information associated with their existing Amazon account to complete their checkout.
There are a number of advantages to the Amazon system, in terms of both security and speed. The system is essentially a streamlined checkout process, as customers won't have to take the time to enter any of their personal information, and no payment details are being stored by the retailer, decreasing the potential of fraud and other types of abuse. This makes it a perfect entrant to the mobile shopping space, as in recent months we've seen both Paypal and Facebook begin to test out similar systems.
The prospects for Amazon have something of a mixed potential in this particular arena, however. While they have an incredible initial advantage simply due to the number of accounts they currently possess - almost 215 million accounts being used regularly, a 40% lead over rival Paypal - many retailers are wary of partnering with Amazon, as they are seen as direct competition in many markets.
Additionally, retailers have recently begun to truly appreciate the value of the data they collect from e-commerce sales, and are thus far less likely to be willing to forgo the valuable credit card and related information that they would typically receive. Those who use 'Login and Pay with Amazon' will not be provided with that data.
The real area where Login and Pay with Amazon will shine is the burgeoning mobile commerce marketplace. As we've pointed out in the past, m-commerce sales are poised to become the next big thing, if retailers can overcome the hassle of entering long strings of data on small-scale screens, which is a major cause of shopping cart abandonment. Login and Pay with Amazon is ready-made to solve this problem, but retailers will have to make the choice of whether to forgo valuable customer data in order to make mobile sales effective - and with Paypal and Facebook looking to gain a quick advantage in the sector, we may seem some dramatic policy changes soon.
Posted on October 30th 2013 at 11:38am by James
Saturday 26th October 2013 Start Early for This Year's Holiday Season
It's no secret to retailers the world over that holiday seasons make for great sales numbers. Customers flock to retail outlets both digital and physical, and often spend well above their original intentions. As a retailer, it's important to capitalise on this brief period where customer confidence and spending increases, and you can rarely start preparing too early. In fact, according to this year's annual eHoliday survey from Shop.org and Prosper Insights & Analytics, almost three quarters of online retailers started planning for the holiday season during July. Additionally, over half of online retailers intend to start their holiday promotions before Halloween this year!
That's not all that's on the mind of e-commerce retailers, however. Most have accepted the fact that mobile commerce is going to be the next big thing, and more than half of all respondents indicated that they have spent time and money improving their mobile website experience in preparation for the holidays, and almost 40% have focused specifically on the user experience for smartphone devices. Perhaps surprisingly, one in four have developed a mobile commerce app specifically for the smartphone market.
Many companies are also dramatically expanding their usage of social media during the upcoming months, to ensure that customers are properly informed about all their various discounts and promotions, with 55% of retailers increasing their presence on Facebook, and in another surprise, almost 60% have increased their attention on the up-and-coming social image sharing site Pinterest.
One of the largest concerns for customers making holiday purchases is shipping pricing and timing. 27% of retailers say they will expand their free shipping holiday promotions to start earlier than last year, as a result of the global economic forecasts, and over 30% are expanding the date range of their holiday promotions.
If you're operating an online retail business, it's important to stay on top of these trends. If you haven't already begun planning your holiday season promotions, it's time to dust off your marketing cap and really get down to business. If you're looking for an easy way to monitor your competition for specialised discounts and promotional information, Change Detect from Competitor Monitor is an excellent solution that will inform you instantly whenever the competition updates their website. Don't get left behind this holiday season - make sure it gives your business a great sales boost!
Posted on October 26th 2013 at 12:47pm by James
Tuesday 22nd October 2013 What the Global Market Wants from Online Retail
Without a doubt, one of the most exciting aspects to e-commerce is the potential for creating a truly global reach for your business. With the increase in high-speed internet availability and improvements in global shipping practices, it's possible to include almost everyone in the developed work in your target demographics. Despite the widely varied cultural quirks of nations around the world, there are surprisingly consistent demands among consumers no matter where they happen to live. A recent study from the well known e-commerce analytics firm comScore highlighted this fact, after interviewing almost 15,000 online shoppers from around the world, showing clear parallels in what customers expect in terms of their satisfaction with their shopping experience and what services or improvements they would like retailers to implement.
The majority of online shoppers demands fell consistently into three general categories. The most prominent of these was the desire for free shipping, often with as many as half to three-quarters of all customers saying that they have added extra items to their shopping carts in order to reach a retailers 'free shipping' threshold, highlighting the value of this technique as a sales driver.
The second most popular demand was the ability to quickly and easily return products that were purchased online. This likely poses the most problems for retailers, as many customers hoped for the ability to purchase online and then return unwanted items in store - obviously problematic if your business doesn't maintain a physical presence in the customer's home country. However, as Amazon and other retailers are experimenting with 'pickup' locations, where customers can order online and then pick up their purchases at a centralised location, this also suggests a market gap for a logistics company able to process returns for others.
Finally, as we have indicated in previous posts, many customers are looking for a consistent experience across multiple channels. Mobile and social media integration and consistency were regularly mentioned as effective marketing channels, with many customers joining social groups on Facebook or Twitter to receive special promotions.
Also interesting were the discrepancies between nations, most notably in the massive emerging marketplace that is China. China had the highest percentage of mobile device owners who used their tablets or smartphones to make purchases, with 78% of smartphone owners and 81% of tablet owners making purchases. To drill deeper into the data to ensure a competitive advantages in the global marketplace, check out the full range of statistics from the comScore report here.
Posted on October 22nd 2013 at 03:58pm by James