Super Bowl In-Store Marketing: A Story to Be Told

While most individuals are stocking the fridge with beverages out in team colours and making certain that their new home theater is ready for the audience on Sunday, we are already thinking about Super Bowl 2021. Specifically, the way to make the season even better next year.

There are loads of fans visiting the stadium in only a few days, but you will find even more enthusiasts planning tailgating and house celebrations. According to the National Retail Federation, a whopping 43 million people plan to host a party this season, with the typical viewer spending 14 percent over last year. No surprise then to find gains in searches on Pinterest for”home theater design” in 368% and”sound room” in 803% over last year at this time.

If football is an whole season, the Super Bowl is its main holiday. Each year, people anticipate the significant brands to control advertising with pricey commercials, expensive in-store screens and big competitions. But why should these brands catch all the spotlight? Why not offer the famous brands along with your clients the gift of the unexpected for Super Bowl 2021?

Shake It Up

Our thoughts? Join the celebration and shake things up. Make those popular Pinterest searches come to life by creating brand partnerships and translating them into visually exciting store environments.

Brand Partnerships Help Tell the Story

Imagine heading to your neighborhood supermarket, Game Day list in hand, and coming upon an elaborate Game Day Party Pop-Up directly from the seasonal aisle. There, you can:

*Test the luxury of the most recent leather sectional from La-Z-Boy whilst marveling at the authentic cinematic quality of this new LG Signature Z9 88″ 8K Smart TV.

*Shop for your favorite team gear by scanning a lifestyle photograph that has been invisibly tagged to take you to a myriad of buying options on your smartphoneinstantly.

*Use your smartphone to scan an icon onto a Tostitos bag or screen to start a Snapchat filter–that enables you to”paint” your face with your favorite team colors. Then post the photo on social websites with a hashtag to be entered into an internet contest! (All from the comfort of the brilliant sectional).

Expand Your Reach

While hanging out at a 25-degree parking lot in January is not our pint of beer, lots of individuals wake up on Game Day instead of doing exactly that–why not establish a Tailgate Zone on your shop parking lot? The change in location from inside to out provides a Chance to go bigger and do more:

*Partner with a local dealership and bring in a luxury SUV or pickup truck for a few swank realism.

*Set up a tent and invite a local chef or food truck to show the way to best cook favorite tailgating recipes while”on the blacktop.”

*Showcase outdoor heating units, sound and furniture systems. Invite a local kitchen shop to present a line of cookware for the demonstrations.

The diverse nature of the in-store Game Day Pop-Up and the outside Tailgate Zone allows manufacturers with limited budgets to have a presence in places they ordinarily wouldn’t have access to, while introducing their products to new audiences. For the shopper, these memorable, curated happenings are a stadium for unexpected experiences, brand combinations and sensory experiences that are both memorable and sharable. And that’s one huge touchdown for the merchant.

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CPG Brands: Boost Shelf Space with Creative Merchandising

With a change in consumer behavior comes a growing demand for CPG creative merchandising so as to rise above other manufacturers. (A quality product will not shine on merchandise display shelves if shoppers can not find it.) To get an advantage, CPG brands may use creative signage and display, sudden cross-merchandising and engaging on-the-floor interactions which make clients stop and look.

Capture attention with imagination

Normally, clients shop for grocery, household and specialty items at least twice per week–with many visiting more than five shops at one time. That’s almost ten opportunities for brands to capture customer attention a week. CPG brands need prime positioning to earn their way in shops, and to do so, they have to demonstrate the ROI supporting the products.

Creative strategies include:

  • Develop eye catching signage and exhibits
  • Create out-of-the-box partnerships
  • Deliver experiential marketing engagements

Eye-catching signage and retail displays educate clients and diversify the shop environment. Out-of-the-box partnerships spur impulse buys and inspire pairings. And experiential engagements–anything from sampling to an in-store event–give customers a tangible appearance, taste or texture of the product, leaving a memorable impression.

Whether you are a small or large manufacturer, these components are crucial to demonstrate the sales-driving effect of your product.

Bringing ideas to life

The in-store displays and existence you produce are just as important as the item itself–if not more so–since they’re exactly what a shopper will see in the middle of an aisle or on the end cap.

This year’s long-anticipated East Coast launch of meatless Impossible├ö goods in pick Wegmans stores was met with a great deal of buzz. In Wegmans, they stacked the Impossible├ö cooler with ground”beef”–then place it in the middle of the meat section, with simple, punchy signals:”Cooks like ground beef” and”Tastes like ground beef.” The signs compel a double-take enticing clients to envision ground beef and check out the item.

Timed to Super Bowl LIII in 2019, Old El Paso and Dos Equis teamed up to pair taco kits with beer at towering Game Day screens, in large foot traffic-areas of Publix supermarkets. On an normal taco dinner night, the average consumer may not reach for a Mexican beer with their Tex-Mex fare, but for large scale Super Bowl parties, this creative partnership functions.

Greek manufacturer Olive Roots partnered with East Coast-based grocer Fairway to get a collection of in-store sampling events and cooking classes, giving shoppers ample opportunities to participate with the products and forcing consumers in shops. Clients were able to sample regionally sourced items from an extensive product range and get a flavor of the brand. A large-scale activation similar to this might not work for each brand. But participate in smaller events can still place your products and advertising security front and center–and offer a terrific chance to get noticed.

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Inspire the shop buyers

Many grocery and specialty retailers still purchase based on the status quo–so it is up to manufacturers to shake up the landscape and demonstrate the need to stock quality, artisanal products. Consider the following:

  • Explore brand partnerships which no competitors have done.
  • Craft signage/displays that control attention and clearly convey your message.
  • Position your brand for in-store sampling and occasions and set your most powerful marketing collateral forward.
  • Make sure your approach speaks to your audience, particularly with so much diversity in shopper demographics.

Gateway Retail: Reach Your Clients Where They Go

For years, retailers have targeted customers where they live, work and play. But when customers visit another environment, the chance to reach them expands exponentially. Retailers can capitalize on new relations –created through gateway retail minutes –by offering psychological and purchase-inspiring touchpoints that encourage the customer experience.

The combination of an endorphin-inducing place and experiential retail components is a superb setting to gain your audience’s interest. We have talked about pop-up out-of-area shops , but why not extend the concept with a more permanent site?

Here is how retailers can integrate gateway retail in their strategy and build an experiential marketplace.

Reaching customers through their pursuits

Most retail marketing strategies are tied to clients’ sex, age, income or other demographic traits. With gateway retail, the approach is all about tapping into customer interests in real time. Are you seeking to appeal to an outdoorsy audience? Beachgoers? Runners? Your target audience’s in-the-moment activities –instead of their demos–will be the key to creating an inclusive environment that will appeal to all who pass through.

Experiential marketing touchstones and strong in-store components leverage the place, while also assisting you to connect with shoppers. Think outside the boundaries of conventional in-store messaging and vision. Instead, think about the big-picture story that you want to tell.

  • How do your message enable or educate customers?
  • Does your vision illustrate the (literal) travel customers are going to go on?
  • What experiential elements can encourage this journey?

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Improving the customer experience

It’s a traditional family holiday scenario: someone forgot the sunscreen, and now you’ve got to stop to pick some up. If you see a retailer that stocks other shore essentials–sunglasses, straw hats, swimsuits–you are that much more likely to purchase something else then and there.

1 approach to gateway retail is improving the customer’s experience –for instance, providing items or equipment that will add value to their trip. If you sell products customers commonly neglect to pack or can buy if they are ill-prepared for the requirements or climate, you have a excellent chance to use your store fixtures and displays, signage, and in-store security to educate customers. The place can be a beacon for travellers –and a gateway into an improved adventure.

Outdoor retailer REI lately opened an adventure-themed place just outside the White Mountains in New Hampshire, a comparison from their predominantly urban and suburban locales. Rather than buying these products in their home cities, clients can simply stop by the shop before heading on the road. There, they can get a pair of hiking boots, read up on outside tips from signs around the shop, and partake in additional offerings like group trekking clinics.

An immersive shop environment can give clients the assurance they need to start on their journey–and consequently, they will happily purchase items which will get the most out of their trip–and their precious time.

Embedding to the customer experience

Retail locations may also become a destination , adding to the other actions a client typically enjoys in the region. Believe L.L.Bean at Freeport, Maine or the Magnolia Market in Waco, Texas. However, you don’t have to make an iconic, sprawling retail centre. Even within a limited footprint, you can make your shop a destination in an assortment of ways: offering participating shop components like digital signage, in-store sampling, workshops, guided tours, information and service kiosks, or arranging the shop around a specific theme.

Take Cherry Republic, a local gift store in Traverse City, Michigan that shares gourmet jams, artisanal drinks, and much more made from Michigan’s famed cherries. The shop samples nearly all their goods and offers something particular to the location–which makes it a destination in its own right.

Experience-based merchant Build-A-Bear is also embracing a gateway mindset by opening shops in family-friendly spots. The retailer has set its sights on tourist attractions such as New York City’s FAO Schwarz, Carnival Cruise ships, and indoor waterpark Great Wolf Lodge. Their retail version is innately interactive, displays brimming with stuffed animals and personality-filled accessories waiting to be taken for their forever homes.

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Developing a retail environment that is worth the trip

Gateway retail is not just taking your current retail version and placing it in a brand new locale. Your shop, the environment, and client activities will need to have synergy.

Some things to consider when planning your “retail destination”:

  • Your retail concept should encourage the’why’ a client would take some time from their trip to go to. Consider how you are improving, teaching and adding value to the experience, or eliminating a barrier to extreme enjoyment.
  • Shop elements should be engaging–such as signage about the local wildlife which may be found steps outside your door, or even a cooking demonstration with regional spices.
  • All your elements are an opportunity to enable the consumer on their experiences –think about the vision and messaging you are projecting through your signage and exhibits.

Retail Management Strategy – The Fallacy Of Doing More With Less

I thought about my mother’s baking lately as I heard more forecasts of retailers needing to do”more with less.” In actuality, a Google search resulted in over six million results. More with less.

My mother tells tales of growing up with her seven sisters and brothers baking a couple of loaves of bread, a couple of pies, rolls, and cakes for Sunday dinner. Even as a single mother, she often made rolls or bread for us . I would see her as I got old; she never used a recipe. “Why not? “I asked.

“Do not need to, it is basic science what needs to go in and what proportions.” She was after all a science instructor.

Should you add more flour to bread dough, it will not rise. Why? Since the yeast can not lift the additional weight. If you reduce the yeast in half and use the identical quantity of flour, the dough will not work . Either way, less remains less – something suffers.

So how do you get more with less? Retail management is wearing too many hats; are they supposed to wear another one? Rather than adding employees, are merchants supposed to provide present staff even more duties? Is a shop department manager supposed to handle an extra department’s employees?

In all these cases, something has to give because the fact is, less remains less.

This reminds me of another old saying I heard a great deal at NRF lately,”perception is reality.” No, only reality is reality. If I perceive I am Tom Cruise – sorry – it does not make me Tom Cruise. I think that makes me delusional. Only reality is reality.

Hoping to do more with less, cutting beyond the fluff and the fat to the marrow of a retail organization, has contributed to:

  • Deterioration of fundamental merchandising and display techniques
  • Deterioration of employing criteria
  • Fewer people on the sales floor
  • Less training from the few who operate the sales floor
  • An emphasis on looking backward at info Instead of selling at the moment

So what should you do? Make a list every morning of what you wish to accomplish. Then prioritize it. Work through your list. What is left daily may be insignificant or important. After a while, you’re probably going to see that lots of significant things were left undone.

 

Are You Desperately Promoting Your Business With Daily Deals Like Groupon? Stop It

I got an email the other day regarding marketing that said,”I have been doing business with Groupon and they have essentially become my partner…I’m searching for ways to convert referrals to clients, but can’t appear to find the correct bait. It has been exhausting. I hope you could give some guidance and help save my company from the everyday deals. When we began the business many years ago it looked like a great idea, but since then it’s though we can not escape their grasp.”

As I read it I thought, are not we done with daily deals yet?

At the time Groupon reported its fourth-quarter earnings as $925.4 million.

Is it that people were ignoring my advice?

Or maybe I just had not offered as robust an investigation as I could have…

OK, here goes…

I randomly searched several similar bargain websites and discovered the following:

$100 of live plants for only $50.

This 1 retailer had sold almost 800 of those certificates prior to the DealSaver expired. I will break down the actual costs of the bargain to the merchant in only a minute, but first…

Let me reiterate that having a bargain website to attract customers is the most effective way to advertise your company. The DealSaver Breakdown:

800 certificates offered for total revenue of $40,000.

Half goes to the bargain supplier = $20,000.

Cost of inventory in the vendor, assuming a keystone markup that for plants generally includes freight = $40,000.

Your COGS for conducting the garden center including center, labour, etc. that still need to be paid along with the stock = $36,000.

Your normal garden center profit you must have received on these goods at full price (between 2-5percent ) depending on trade magazines = $4000.

Additional revenue required for to break even for the retail value generated under the daily deal = $80,000.

I guess that an isolated incident is not such a big thing. . .or is it?

While exploring this blog, I discovered a rival who had just launched the identical promotion, in precisely the exact same area.

It must have worked for the other guys, right?

This is the danger of people sharing what functions for them best-practice stories among traders that are similar. If you are not considering how promotions affect gains, any success is termed effective.

Meanwhile, Groupon’s gross profit as a percentage over the local company category was 32%.

Could that garden centre’s cash are better spent?

Yes.

For a fraction of the true, hard costs of bringing cheapskates to their shop, they might have sold what they had.

For full price.

With accessories.

To customers who appreciate an exceptional experience.

To customers who do not only show up when there’s a fire sale.

The Lesson

Market to cheapskates and they will find ways to provide the minimal out of their pocket to get the maximum from the bottom line.

Have a look at these remarks that followed a Washington Post article on clients coming in and just buying one thing:”I never go through the upsell hassle” and”We do not purchase any of those electronic gizmos and gadgets so nobody could upsell me on anything anyway. My 10-year-old Tracfone reverse phone works just fine.”

These aren’t profitable customers to draw…

Oh right, you still do not believe me?

How about another garden centre that found out the hard way about using Groupon to advertise their business….

I inquired Chellie Zimmerman, owner of Black Horse Farms Market in upstate New York in case the money she dropped doing a daily bargain was real. She replied,”Yes that’s REAL money LOST! Another bad thing is that your routine purchasing clients jump on Groupon when they’d have been just as happy spending $100. Of the 500 we sold around 25 percent were present customers and possibly we gained 2% as new clients.”

And from your neighborhood newspaper and DealSavers to a significant number of internet companies operating like Groupon such as LivingSocial, Tippr, and much more, their version appears to always be the same. They’re eager to take half of everything you offer with no obligation for fulfilling those certificate sales.

One woman I spoke to last Sunday told me her friend offered a daily deal to entice new clients to her spa. She is now so reserved taking care of bargains that her regulars can not get in for 2 months and are moving elsewhere.

So, like I wrote in my book, Groupon: You Can Not Afford It – Why Deep Discounts are Bad for Business and What to Do Instead, remember,”The Purchaser’s devotion is to Groupon, never for you. The client loyalty is going for their webpages, their offers, their friends – none. Your business is merely the deal of the day. After all, you did not give them the discount — Groupon did.”

The Bottom Line

I get it, you are trying any way you can to get more clients in the door. But using high-cost apps like daily prices will leave you far worse off than benefit you.

Now imagine if you took a fraction of the money and invested in your employees…

Imagine if you trained them in how to market so you would not settle for crumbs, but got the entire feast…

And once they had been well-trained, maybe you gave them a boost?

You would still have paid a fraction of what the can not overlook daily deals cost you.

So to answer the first business proprietor question….

Boost Retail Sales with Laughter

A shared laugh at a store makes everybody relax. Laughter whilst purchasing and selling lets us reduce our defenses and opens us. I can tell an excellent retail store by simply listening. Can not you?

When both shoppers and partners are having fun, it can be appealing to everyone in the shop.

When you are attempting to increase retail sales, it is not just about what you hear, it may be what you do not hear…

One of the results we find when circumstances are right at a retail shop is that individuals are:

  • Relaxed.
  • Open.
  • Confident.

And bliss ensues.

Laughter…

The sound of joy, acceptance, and yes…

Making the purchase.

Laughter as in a simple joke, an aside, or gentle kidding. I have seen the best salespeople deliver it in spades in many different sales situations.

Is laughter something which may be trained or driven?

Doubtful.

That is why I’ve avoided writing this post for some time. I can hear the Analytical character styles today,”So are we supposed to learn a whole lot of jokes and use them on everybody?”

No.

But I am saying, if you create a fantastic hire, train them encourage them not to be a robot by stating the exact same thing to everyone, you will find laughter in your sales floor.

And laughter is among the most effective ways to surprise and delight customers.

Nope, surprise and pleasure are not achieved with a reduction, another Friends and Family afternoon, or tax-free advertising.

No.

Laughter indicates a client has found a true person. Open, engaging, engaged.

I have not heard plenty of laughter in many stores – which was pre-pandemic.

After almost thirty years as a luxury sales trainer, I will tell you this much about retail sales coaching; it has a great deal of mystery around it.

That is because what people state they need, and what they really want are usually two distinct things.

As customers, we initiate the conversation with what we want . That’s where the cluttered clerks flourish asking,”Can I help you?” – looking to fill the stated needs like a point-and-click on the net.

To get past that needs retail workers who can be permitted to be themselves. But that requires a base of building rapport first.

You do not joke with people that you haven’t developed rapport with.

So how can you try to find laughter? Some will say you will need to have several funny stories to pull out at a minute’s notice.

An experienced professional may be able to do so, but not most people.

The trick to using laughter is allowing it begin with the customer. When they’re laughing, you can laugh and discover different minutes to make the laughter infectious.

Five fast rules to increase sales with bliss:

  • Listen to your client to describe a situation or problem that makes them laugh.
  • Do not make fun of a person’s nationality, looks, or background.
  • Keep it light, not dark.
  • Self-deprecating comedy is always a fantastic place to start.
  • If a joke does not land, and it may not, don’t attempt to make your customer laugh by forcing a laugh . Simply return to the client by asking a question.

And bear in mind, the purpose of bliss is sharing a moment on the way to making a sale. Occasionally associates get caught up in trying to be funny that if retained at more than a couple seconds, gets older and costs them the sale.

Selling the product takes plenty of practice and tools so the partner feels confident to engage a stranger.

See also, How To Engage Retail Customers Begins With A Wow Moment

In Sum

Your employees have to be comfortable in your sales floor, not stressing someone is looking over their shoulder to take their personal style.

Your team should be generating laughter with the folks in front of them, those they’re serving. Not between themselves or on the telephone but with the clients.

Retailers Elephant in the Room – It’s about us

Ever been jilted and blame the other person for being a jerk? All of us have. Not until a good friend tells us like it’s that we aren’t that good to be around, do we look in the mirror and change.

Dear Macy’s, Best Buy, Pottery Barn, and such, today is your wake-up to check in the mirror!

For the last twenty years, you’ve given us your thought of hearts and flowers: 20 percent of vouchers, secret Saturday earnings, family and friends nights, and purchasing for charity tie-ins. These have all danced round the elephant in the room – like using a dull date who just talks about himself, we just don’t need to visit you.

You’ll continue to attempt and get us to”come home” for the holidays. When we finally break down and go, we will take the bargains and run. Then you will keep contacting us such as the Jon Favreau character’s awkward answering machine scene in the film Swingers.

Here is some news for you. We are just not that into you, it is about us.

Many significant retailers tout”experience” but in most instances – can we just admit it – you are only Wal-Mart with less polyester.

The exact same unenthusiastic, bored workers seeing their lives slip away you would find at a mass merchant. The hive mentality that allows them locate security stocking shelves, averting customers, and sticking together behind the counter has left us shoppers aloof and alone. Your pleas to go back undetected because we know you have not changed.

Sure you will try pop-up shops and special events but the headlines will continue reading Shoppers Hold Back since you expect we will change, not you.

The retailers which are increasing market share – and they are out there – are taking the long view of this pandemic as an chance to change.

Looking to increase sales whether you are a significant player or mom & pop? Look in the mirror – it is time for a makeover. Now! Otherwise, we will just sit at home eating our Chunky Monkey ice cream until somebody better comes along to sweep us off our feet. And that is the next elephant in the room.

Retail Pricing Strategies – Six Reasons To Prevent

A retailer has to be extremely conscious of their pricing plan to make certain that their pricing is completed correctly and in a timely fashion.

Failure in this seemingly straightforward matter may result in all sorts of difficulties, from accidental”loss leaders” that sap gains, to confused clients that become indignant if a wrong price can’t be honored.

Listed below are 6 pricing mistakes which retailers should avoid:

1. Phony savings

A recent narrative about JC Penney illustrates one of the greatest pricing mistakes for retailers: setting price tags that are higher along with initially labeled items that were reduced.

Nothing makes clients madder than peeling a price tag, in this example, a men’s short sleeve shirt on sale for $13.99 discounted from $20 with an original price tag below revealing it originally sold for $10. Outfit your price-changers using a razor blade if necessary to scratch all the other prices away – nobody wants to emulate J.C. Penney.

2. Mispricing

Even though a POS system will charge the right price when scanned, the client will require the posted price on a mismarked product. Customer support demands that you comply but your team needs to be trained to fix this situation immediately on the whole inventory of the product still in the shop. When they don’t, you risk losing your profit margin on each one of the items sold.

Likewise, an item that’s correct from the POS system, but retains a higher price on the shelf could cripple the turn of the line. The fix? Always have someone spot-check.

3. Markup Errors

Assessing the markup on a product isn’t especially difficult, particularly since every smartphone comes with a calculator. Finding someone to do it sensibly and properly is another story. Over- and underpricing occurs if the shop owner or manager doesn’t figure out the right selling price when they purchase the product.

4. Magnified Perception of Value

Sometimes you get a whole lot on a line and you vigorously mark it up. It pays, however, in both stock turnover and gross margin, to charge a price like that of similar products from other vendors.

There is usually a reason you have a wonderful price on something — your vendor knows something you’ve yet to find — it does not sell.

5. Under Perception of Value

Pricing a product under keystone since it won’t transfer in the price it ought to be marked to deflates the trust you’re going to be profitable on the item. You did the job in locating the item, paying to send it there, and showcasing it on your leased retail space; you also need to reap the reward.

Prices too low means when you must set the item on clearance, you’re paying clients to take it away.

6. Struggling to Stay Current

Sheer laziness accounts for a lot of the mistakes that happen with pricing merchandise. Do not let it stop you from assessing your current costs at the vendor level and upgrading your prices on reorders as needed. Otherwise, you might end up discounting yourself from this market by undercutting your profit margin.

How To Boost Retail Sales With Suggestive Selling

You have made the big drive in updating your retail shop. You have curated a group of brands that make you stand out. You have hired much better than the other guys, but you still have to do more.

Have a look at your suggestive selling, or as I call them, your add-ons in which you actually make your gain. Selling another thing or as some call it upselling, when you have already realized all of the marketing costs on the initial is the simplest way to juice your own profits.

Here’s the key…

The joy for the client can be doubled with the ideal add-on.

Let’s say a client is buying a new RV using a pop-out section. A good salesperson will know to indicate an extra cover so that when parked under a walnut tree, all of the pine needles and dirt which have dropped on top of this pop-out won’t fall into the new RV.

If the salesperson presents it with a heartfelt connection and paints a picture of the way that pay makes RVing better, the client will appreciate the add on purchase each and every time he shuts the pop-out.

The same idea holds true in a pool industry. Every time you put in a pool, you should suggestively sell a cleaning service so the client can always enjoy a clean pool. It’s also advisable to suggestively sell a volleyball net and ball so more people can enjoy the pool for longer hours at a time.

If you are a nursery centre and your client is picking up several apartments of flowering plants, then you need to reveal that the right planting mix so the plants burst into bloom.

For a gentleman, it may be indicating a bottle of wine to choose the forgive me bouquet.

If you’re a camera shop, your thoughtful accessories permit the client to take better images.

The purpose is to make it easier for your clients to enjoy this first product which comes from not only displaying them but suggestively selling them an add-on.

Some call this cross-selling.

Whatever you call these add-ons, they’re the insider’s secrets to getting the most from a item. If your salespeople approach suggestive selling in that fashion, they’re sharing tips which produce the consumer respect their desktop and treat them like a friend.

Do not think of add-ons as a means to earn more money first, or your workers will take a look at your customers as though they’d dollars in their eyes. That repels clients from the add-ons they certainly appreciate.

Add-ons always return to creating the initial product either be fun or more efficient or the one-stop store, so the customer doesn’t need to look at a rival to get the rest of it.

Young employees can get caught up believing I am making them do something they do not wish to perform or I am sleazy or I am phony like they have seen in some bad movie.

But in the end of the daythey have to know they’re helping a client get more from their first purchase. You and everyone on your staff have to know that.

In Sum

Add-ons are all about what the joy the customer get’s out of the products jointly; it is not that you are making the customer purchase something they will never use just so that you can make a sale.

These cross-selling tips should also be utilised as your workers move around the counter and stand near the customer for a friend, showing them the secrets they should get more out of their main purchase.

4 Girls reveal the career advice they Provide others

Advice is not only for people starting out in their careers. We can all use a reminder of the importance of advocating for ourselves, surrounding ourselves with the correct people and keeping our eye on the prize.

Ahead of the appearance at the Equality Lounge in NRF Retail Converge, June 21-25, we asked four female executives: What is one piece of advice you’d give someone climbing the corporate ladder?

Mercedes Abramo is president and CEO in Cartier North America.

We tend to have this notion that leaders are the people doing all of the talking. In fact, however, you can not be an excellent leader without doing a great deal of listening first. Lead by example, with dedication and enthusiasm. Listen, and be open-minded.

Hear more from Abramo in: The pursuit of a diverse and inclusive workplace

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Sharon Leite, The Vitamin ShoppeSharon Leite is CEO of The Vitamin Shoppe.

When I am asked this question, I usually say… Love what you do this you don’t have to work a day in your life. Stay curious, yearn to learn. Be prepared to take risks and constantly ask for what you need.

Hear more from Leite in: The pursuit of a diverse and inclusive workplace

Julie Lodge-Jarrett is chief people officer at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

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Julie Lodge-Jarrett,
Dick’s Sporting Goods

Get comfy with being YOU! Too often we try to alter who we are to fit in, be like others, or conform to a perceived standard. This is not an excuse to forgo feedback or not look for constant improvement — but when we try to behave like anyone aside from our authentic self, we are not at our best. This will not serve us as individuals, or the organization. Adopt your differences and recognize the special value which you can bring!

Hear more from Lodge-Jarrett in: Hacking diversity: The best way to retail gift when change is the only constant

Corey Yribarren is chief people officer at Sephora.

Among the main things that I’ve learned in my career journey is the value of nurturing relationships with those around you. As you climb the’corporate ladder,’ you will encounter many challenges. You’re likely to take risks and you might not always get it right the first or second attempt — and that is OK.

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Corey Yribarren, Sephora

If you are a working mother like myself, it adds even more layers of complexities if you are figuring out how to balance a fast-paced career with your family life. However, in those learning moments, it is important to listen and to trust the people around you — your teams, your mentors, your loved ones, etc..

I know in my career, I have had mentors who had been my strongest supporters, who believed in me, even when I did not always believe in myself. That’s something I keep in the back of my mind as I direct my HR team now. Sephora has great ability, and it is important for me as a leader to enable our employees and provide them the opportunities to flourish. It is not always easy, particularly in a digital setting, but I encourage open conversation since cultivating these relationships with my group, and all groups, are a huge part of the success of our brand.

Digital expectations at a physical world

What is hot in retail can at times be tricky to predict since creations and adoptions are moving so fast. The pandemic taught us that new behaviours are constantly popping up, but we are still figuring out which ones are here to remain.

Jason”Retailgeek” Goldberg is the primary trade strategy officer at Publicis Group and has been a go-to retail pro for business leaders for ages. In NRF Retail Converge, he will be moderating a panel on unique marketplaces and how retailers like Crate & Barrel and social networking sites like Pinterest are leveraging them.

He combined Retail Gets Real to chat about what’s happening in technology and the way customers are helping drive innovation.

“Generally speaking, the world will stores less. Now, fantastic news, we are spending as much or more than ever, right? So, great retailers do good,” Goldberg said. “Retail actually had a good year last year notwithstanding the pandemic, but we are using the shop in a really different way. We buy more stuff once we go to the shop.”

Register today for NRF Retail Converge to learn more about the ways retail is evolving.

The function of the shop is changing permanently. As customers become more adapted to the selection and offerings of digital, Goldberg said they will have elevated expectations of these digital amenities when they see bricks-and-mortar stores. Even if they are just using a curbside pickup service, customers may see digital signage to remind them of their impulse purchases they are used to at the checkout line.

Goldberg said he is seeing interesting marketing strategies being set up to lock pandemic behaviours in post-pandemic consumers. Meanwhile, restaurants are reminding folks about all the things they missed in 2020. Both ends of this spectrum are turning the story in their favor in a fascinating sport of messaging tug-of-war.

Listen to the event to find out more about consumer behaviours, attitudes about sustainability and how retailers are benefiting from evolutions in marketplaces.

3 Keys to Drive Online Discovery of Your Products

This holiday season, the nation’s favourite pastime, going shopping, will be more difficult for customers to practice. And changes to customer behavior mean modifications to your’product discovery’ strategies to safeguard your sales growth is not in danger. Discovery shopping is an important driver of growth for retailers and brands. In actuality, as one of our June 2020 surveys uncovered, 24% of active US customers have bought from new brands and retailers because the COVID-19 outbreak they had not shopped with before.

How can you stick out in an extremely competitive space?

Throughout the 2019 gifting season, 86 percent of in-store purchases were researched online. Furthermore, according to a customer survey we conducted in August of 2020, 42 percent of shoppers responded they researched products online more today before purchasing in-store than they did because the international health crisis started.

With 52 percent of US shoppers planning to shop online more often than before the pandemic, and 49% planning to do more of their holiday shopping and gift buying online in 2020, more brands are focusing on gaining the interest of consumers online.

This means more competition for you and less visibility to your products.

The electronic landscape was extremely challenging to browse in’normal’ conditions. However, with more businesses fighting for the interest of the consumers, it is no wonder that raising ad spend is among the top strategies for increasing vacation peak sales this year. These stats were found during a survey conducted by ChannelAdvisor in the United Kingdom in November, in collaboration with Retail Gazette:

  • 39% plan to increase Facebook ad spend
  • 28% plan to increase Instagram ad spend
  • 20% will record on more marketplaces
  • 30% will provide more vacation promotions compared to last year
  • 21% plan to increase digital advertising spend on Google
  • 16% plan to increase digital advertising spend on Amazon

If you would like to drive better discovery to your merchandise, you’ve got to be ready to spend more attention — and money — to those plans in the months and years ahead.

1. Rethink the way you leverage specific stations

With the pressure to deliver results, many actions and internet strategies end up almost entirely focused on the utilitarian aspect of advertising, leaving little room for investment in forcing discovery. With the ideal targeting, optimization and effort segmentation, some stations which have traditionally fit a specific mold (detection or functionality ), can function as full-funnel channels.

If there’s a channel that requires rethinking, it is social media advertising. Consumers are spending more time on social media (36 percent of customers are spending more based on our latest consumer study in August 2020) and finding new products.

But they’re also proactive. In April 2020, we conducted a consumer survey that signaled 30 percent of respondents researched products on Facebook and 28 percent on Instagram. And as of August 2020, those numbers had increased to 34% and 30%, respectively.

You can leverage paid advertisements on social media to induce discovery for your products once your target audiences are researching your goods or not. Segmenting your audiences, campaigns and targeting to cover the complete funnel will let you adjust investment accordingly in addition to give merchandise discovery a push whenever is required.

1 other channel which has historically been perceived as fully-focused on one part of the funnel is paid search advertisements. This is still another example of a station which may be leveraged for the complete funnel when you’ve got the ideal setup, targeting and optimization strategy.

2. Create experiences

Creating in-store experiences has been in the forefront as an choice to revive the physical sector. But online experiences are just as important — if not more — given the present situation.

Focusing on enhancing online experiences to finetune conversion rates is vitally important, albeit somewhat basic. If you market online, you are likely to have a responsive and quick website in addition to a streamlined checkout procedure.

But what can you do to guarantee the customer stays engaged with your shop and comes back?

  1. Give the possibility of trying on your own products virtually.
  2. Supply as many high quality photographs and videos of your merchandise as possible from all angles. Think of what your customer would be interested in seeing and arrange your photoshoots accordingly.
  3. Provide useful content such as guides, lifestyle photographs or neighborhood styling suggestions.
  4. Be accessible in case your client needs support with virtual assistants.
  5. Provide multiple delivery options (standard, expedited, click and gather, etc.) as well as free delivery choices.
  6. And finally, make sure there are no discrepancies between the internet and in-store experience since the vast majority of customers today plan to research online more before visiting the store.

Failing to invest in your shoppers’ buying experience will cost you, both in the short term and the long term.

3. Improve Your content

According to Forrester Research, 74 percent of buyers get frustrated with sites which present content that’s not pertinent to their interests. If you’re then using this content to populate your product listings for shopping and social advertisements, you might actually wind up paying more for advertisements rather than showing your ads in front of important audiences.

Writing great content to your goods, having improved product feeds and investing in generating content for inbound marketing won’t only enable the consumer to make a choice however, it will also help you rank better, both organically and compensated.

Each viewer might value a different type of content. Based upon your target market and product choice, invest time in prioritizing the data points that matter most to your prospective and present customers. By way of instance, younger shoppers often prioritize visual and video content, whereas older shoppers appreciate detailed product descriptions.

Google Q3 Earnings: Bounce Back Time

The year 2020 has certainly seen its share of special events. One of these happened after Q2 finished, when Google reported a decrease in earnings for the first time in its history. And while that statement may pale compared to the other historical events of 2020 when we look back on it ten years from now, the information was still quite impactful for those people in e-commerce that had never seen it before.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Google bounced back strongly with a more optimistic story as it reported its Q3 results. Revenue increased 14% for the quarter led by strong growth in YouTube and Cloud.

Some highlights in the quarter:

  • Revenue increased 14 percent for the quarter (15% on a constant currency basis) totalling $46.2 billion.
  • Advertising revenues were $37.1 billion — an increase of 9.8%.
  • Search revenues were $26.3 billion — an increase of 6.5%.
  • YouTube ad revenue was $5.0 billion — growing 32.4%.
  • Google Cloud revenue was $3.4 billion — growing 44.8%.
  • Other revenue, which includes Google Play, Hardware and YouTube’s non-advertising services, was $5.5 billion — growing 35.3%.
  • Operating income was $12.6 billion, up from $10.7 billion a year ago.
  • Hiring lasted, and Google now has 132,000 workers.
  • Paid clicks rose 27%, average cost per click diminished by 15%.

1 trend we observe very closely is the slowing growth rate of Google’s core search marketing business. For Q3, Google Search revenues were up 6.5% that was significantly better than Q2 nevertheless still was supporting the growth rates reported by Facebook (22 percent ) and Amazon (51 percent ).

During the past several months — since the pandemic took hold — Google extended free possibilities for merchants. In the beginning, merchants were given the capability to list products for free at Google Shopping. More recently, Google announced the Purchase on Google program will have zero commission rates also. These changes are all about improving the”comprehensiveness” of heart Google Search. The concept, of course, being that if customers do not feel as their search results represent the universe of products that are available, they will search elsewhere. Based on Q3 results, it does not appear that these changes have negatively affected the growth in paid clicks. In actuality, maybe the opposite is true. Paid clicks rose by 27%, which was the maximum growth rate since Q2 2019.

So, is Google back? We would argue that, for retailers and brands, the search giant went anywhere. And it’ll continue to be among the main channels for reaching consumers both online and in-store.

It’ll be interesting to see how the holiday season shakes out as everybody in e-commerce prepares for another record season for online shopping.

Bloglist: Steve Delgado With Arial Software

Title: Steve Delgado, Marketing Director

Company: Arial Software

In Bloglist, we request ecommerce professionals to identify their favourite blogs. With this setup, we asked Steve Delgado, Marketing Director of Arial Software, a company which creates email marketing software and solutions.

Copyblogger.com

The king of copywriting tips for internet marketing success. Sometimes short. Sometimes sweet. Sometimes sassy. Always succinct. Copyblogger is a site for the author’s author (defined as the advertising writer who spends time tweaking the message, reviewing outcomes, then tweaking the message ). This is the individual in your company who’s always searching for a better way to state it. Of special note: Try the free report called “Teaching Sells.”

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Sethgodin.typepad.com

Marketing guru and Google darling Seth Godin has been post new advertising wisdom with an entrepreneurial turn. Consistently the promoter of change, Godin’s posts can vary from a 36-item pre-“Mail Checklist” to”Seven Tips for Amateur Form Designers,” a fast text and design primer for readers designing their own PowerPoint presentations.

Marketingprofs.com

Ann Handley and Allan Weiss have been generating relevant internet advertising advice for almost eight decades now. Since 2000 this former website has evolved into a free (and paid) mixture of articles, case studies, newsletters and much more.

Marketingsherpa.com/sherpablog.html

Blogged information directly from MarketingSherpa Founder Anne Holland. With entries titled”Caution: Cease Pounding Your Email List with Special Offers!” And”Five Ways to Boost Blog Outcomes Today,” Holland continues the no-nonsense, leave-your-fluff-at-the-door heritage she started at MarketingSherpa.com

Directmag.com/magilla

Writer magazine editor Ken Magill aggressively covers the email advertising industry like it is everybody’s business. While not technically a blog, Magill’s writing style carries the identical sharp wit and lack of PC filtering that lots of bloggers always use and abuse. It would take you thousands of dollars in travel expenses and many late night industry trade show mixers to learn the exact things as an hour of studying Magill’s webpage would.

5.11 Tactical Grows to $10 Million in Six Decades

5.11 Tactical is a company that sells specialized clothing and equipment to law enforcement and fire protection professionals. Its business model largely is based on a merchant network, but even so, its ecommerce website grosses roughly $10 million each year. That is not bad for a small section of the organization, and we recently spoke with 5.11 Tactical’s ecommerce manager Brian Rogers to learn how the site got to this level of earnings.

PeC: Tell us about 5.11 Tactical.

Brian Rogers:“The present ecommerce model has been around for a little over six decades. We’re a maker of apparel for the public safety market that includes police, fire, EMTs, and any public safety professional.

“Our company generates approximately $130 million annually, and ecommerce is about 7 to 8% of that.”

PeC: How many SKUs are on the Website?

Rogers:“We load and unload several SKUs through the year as new products become available and we stop some, but it is about about 15,000 SKUs.”

PeC: Do you have a physical place in addition to the website?

Rogers:“We do not. We are a dealer-based company where most of our supply goes to our traders. Our physical address is in Modesto [California], but we don’t sell products in our physical location. It is just mainly our warehouse and all of our offices.”

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PeC: Do you have a catalog surgery?

Rogers: “We do. We ship about 1.5 million catalogs out to public safety organizations out there in the market.”

PeC: Inform us about the shopping cart and order management system employed by your business.

Rogers:“We have a fantastic partnership with a company named eOne Internet Commerce, a division of MICROS-Retail. They made our shopping cart and that is the system we have. The order management system is via ABS (Apparel Business Systems).”

PeC: What about accounting software?

Rogers:“It’s enterprise level accounting software that’s all done through a enormous financial group, and I am not sure what software we use for this.”

PeC: Can you do any email marketing?

Rogers:“We really do a lot. We try to reach our client base approximately once weekly. Our main advertising provider for this is Lyris, and we burst out approximately 600,000 emails each month.

“Largely our offers are pushed off previous purchase behaviour. We’ve got all our clients segmented into purchasing cycles–when was the last time they purchased, and what they purchased –and it helps us create a special offer for them. However, nearly all of our emails are only informational due to the conflict that may exist between our dealer base and our ecommerce performance. Approximately 90 percent of our mails are informational, mainly simply to illustrate new product offerings, like a December reminder of top gifts for the holiday season.”

PeC: Which are the primary advertising vehicles for your ecommerce website?

Rogers:“Our primary marketing vehicle is through a great deal of SEO [search engine optimization] and a great deal of search engine advertising [pay-per-click]. We think those are the two greatest sources with which we could make the largest impact for our organization.

“For search engines, we are optimized. We are now around 10,000 keywords. We have that all the way through our trademarks and almost all of our core products [since ] we really like to keep the top spot. We found that our normal search generates approximately 60 percent of our overall business.

“Search engine optimization is used to fill in the gaps where we do not have a strong search engine optimization presence. Moreover, we utilize the search engine marketing side to drive business to our traders, also. Pay-per-click is our primary vehicle. We market a few on Yahoo! and MSN, but largely it is through Google. Where we have gaps where we are not number one, or we are not on the first page, we utilize pay-per-click to fill in the gaps”

PeC: Can you handle marketing activities in-house or do you outsource it?

Rogers:“It is kind of a hybrid version. We use a company named Pepperjam to handle our affiliate network, another huge advertising avenue we use. And, Pepperjam helps us handle our PPC campaigns. In-house, we do all of the keyword research and research to determine what our best keywords will be. Like most merchants and merchants on the world wide web, we know our business better than anybody, and so we essentially hand off those keywords and allow Pepperjam do the purchases for us.”

PeC: Tell us a few of the successes that you have had along the way and possibly mistakes which might have been made.

Rogers:“One of the primary things that we heard most about our company is who our client was. When we were smaller, we had a difficult time determining which sort of business we could anticipate every year from repeat clients, and then figuring out how many clients we would have to bring into our website in order to hit our revenue objectives. So, we took all our information and looked at who is purchased from us, what they purchased from us, and how many times they purchased. We put it out over the course of five decades and then did lots of research on who the client was. That helped us more than anything to understand budgeting and how we can use some of those methods to maximize our organization.

“Another thing is pay-per-click. A whole lot of people think you should simply throw some cash at PPC, put up a landing page, and you are likely to have immediate success, which wasn’t true for us. We needed to do quite targeted landing pages and very targeted advertisements to make sure we had been honed in on what we wanted to do with the firm.

“For example, our key word, 511 strategic (that we do a good deal of bidding on)– when we first startedwe just simply set the landing page and [a message which stated ]’come to 511 strategic, direct provider of all your tactical equipment.’ And then we threw the landing page to our site, which converted quite low and we ended up spending plenty of money. We [pointed the landing pages] to our group pages and our product pages and discovered our conversions went significantly greater. When we first began sending to our site, we were getting about 1.5 percent conversion off those folks, but when we took them to group pages, we found that increase to approximately 100 to 150 percent across the board.”

PeC: Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?

Rogers:“Be cautious with SEO. There are a whole lot of snake oil salesmen out there that think they can do a great deal of things with SEO. It requires hard work, it takes some time, it requires a commitment to excellence, and ensuring that your content is aligned with your own keywords. Specifically, it requires writing plenty of content, placing it on your website and learning how to intertwine those keywords in your content so that it is reasonable.

“Get expert advice on SEO because it can make or break your company.”

Quick Query: ProStores Exec Lin Shearer

The beginning of the year brings fresh energy and energy for many online merchants. A lot of them are trying to jump start sales, cut costs and grow and improve their businesses. For ideas to help merchants will all this, we talked with a seasoned ecommerce pro. He is Lin Shearer, a senior marketing manager with ProStores, a leading ecommerce platform. He talked with us in this “Quick Query”.

PeC: What ideas do you have for ecommerce merchants to jump start sales for the new year?

Lin Shearer:“One of the best things you can do today is to give your shop a makeover. I am not talking about the appearance and feel, the design of your shop, but about small improvements that could go a long way to convert more browsers to buyers. To do that, there are three places I think that you can focus on to push people conversion rates up. To begin with, get shoppers to trust you. Secondly, get them interested. Third, keep it simple.”

PeC: So, how can you tackle each of those?

Shearer:“To inspire confidence, ask yourself whether your online shop make shoppers feel comfortable doing business with you. Does your shop look professional? Again, you do not need a fancy layout necessarily to inspire confidence, but you want to deliver a professional appearance and expertise. So, no missing pictures, correct spelling, and decent product descriptions will go a long way in that respect.

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“Secondly, be transparent. In case you’ve got third-party suppliers like dedicated SSL certificates, Better Business Bureau badges, any sort of verifiable third-party standing builders which you can display on your website go a long way in demonstrating potential buyers that you are a secure place to shop.

“Finally, another idea that I think is getting plenty of popularity is customer testimonials. You can show people who you have got an existing customer base that stores from you and provided some comments on the products you sell. That may go a long way also. One of our very own ProStores’ merchants, CurrySimple.com, really enhanced their conversion rate by over 50 percent, quarter over quarter, the conclusion of the past year just by incorporating product reviews.”

PeC: Are those testimonials searchable and spiderable by search engines?

Shearer:“That is the additional benefit of getting that content there. These reviews are searchable, and it may help you generate frequently updated relevant content that search engines love. If it’s possible to create more of this through product reviews, all the better.”

PeC: What thoughts do you need to cut costs and save money?

Shearer:“Any company can benefit from having a look at costs. I think small companies, particularly, are taking a close look at that. I believe one of the best places for you to concentrate on is to get smarter about stock, to truly understand what your clients are buying, what is selling the finest, and carry that, and if at all possible, just that. In this economic climate I do not think we can afford to go deep across a wide product catalog. We saw a significant number of our clients streamlining their stock last holiday season and we expect it to continue.

“Also, consider expanding your relationships with existing clients. I believe that the product reviews we just talked about are a good example there. It costs much less to sell again to an existing client and market more to an existing client than it does to go out and attempt to attract more new clients. So, check out building on what you have already established.”

PeC: Could that be through extra stock, or is it for improved cross-selling opportunities?

Shearer: “Yeah, absolutely. The way that CurrySimple managed to drive that sort of increase in conversion speed was they’d repeat customers, but there were certain products that they simply won’t buy. They would return specifically for something they’d bought before and would not look at other products. Well, once they added the merchandise testimonials, that then reduced the perceived dangers of those buyers for purchasing a product they have never attempted before if they saw someone else had tried it, then they were more comfortable buying that. So, just by doing this, he managed to get people to expand what they had been purchasing from him.”

PeC: Can CurrySimple moderate those reviews? How can that work?

Shearer:“Typically with that solution, you have the chance to go in and take a look at the reviews that people are setting up there. Now, they are about CurrySimple’s products, so I do not know that it’s a good deal of incentive to only put up the fantastic reviews. I mean if it puts up just the good reviews, then when someone receives a product that they are unhappy with, then it does not do him any good in the long run. My understanding is that a good deal of buyers perform their own filtering things such as this and make a determination about whether the inspection is reputable or credible. Again, it appears to be working for CurrySimple. Authenticity is key there.”

PeC: Do you have some other ideas about marketing channels or advertising ideas that merchants might not have considered during the last couple of years?

Shearer:“I think everyone is talking about social networking. It is actually consistent with cutting costs, also. It’ll take up more time, but I think if you are smart about it, we have seen lots of examples where you can cut costs from items like expensive paid search and such a thing and expand your client base.

“For instance, another ProStores merchant, Exquisitecanes.com, really cut paid search altogether. They were very smart about how they engage through social networking and started to drive business like that. They have got a Facebook fan page and they socialize on Twitter, but they did not just go in there and just start setting up promotional offerings and things like this. They went out and were real about establishing relationships with groups that had shared interest in themthat were in accord with their product line; then once they cultivated a relationshipthey then could put out special offers for men and women in the groups and induce people to their shop like that.

Social media is simple except in the sense that it does occupy your time. Butif you are smart about it, I believe that’s a fantastic way to go for this coming year.”

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PeC: What trends do you see happening in ecommerce in 2010?

Shearer:“I think that the economic climate is still likely to be a variable. I believe we’re beginning to see some things turn around and as a matter of fact, the great news was that this last holiday season, was that brick-and-mortar was basically flat. Online sales grew by about 6 or 7 percent. ProStores merchants’ sales are right in line with that trend and, actually, are growing faster than ecommerce overall right now for an assortment of reasons. They’ve identified a fantastic market product, selling at exceptionally competitive prices, but still in a gain. Thus, we anticipate our merchants to continue to have the ability to grow their internet business.

“Also tied to the market, typically, recessions are drivers of entrepreneurial activities. So, that exact same dynamic that’s allowing our current merchants to expand, and we hope to see more people seeking to create their own opportunities by starting an internet business or as a brick-and-mortar shop bringing that company online and developing their business like that.”

PeC: Which are the top three ecommerce suggestions to help merchants as we begin 2010?

Shearer:“First of all, I would say focus your company. We see a good deal of merchants trying to sell a wide assortment of products and also our most prosperous merchants have a solid focus. I believe that the two examples I have already talked about are amazing examples there. So, being smart about your stock, taking a look at the 80/20 principle that a large part of your earnings, 80 percent of your revenue is most likely coming from 20 percent of your product line, and actually have a look at focusing, finding a niche and then promoting that market.

“In accordance with that, the next thing I would say is get into social networking, but be smart about it and get it done right. Engage with your people who have similar interests, not as someone there that simply sell them, but actually look to establish real relationships with them and I think you’ll discover from that you are ready to bring in new clients.

“Finally, think like a buyer. Offer your shop a makeover. Small merchants in particular get very involved in the shop as kind of an extension of who they are and have a very specific vision of what the store should look like, but beyond appearance and feel, beyond layout, go through your shop and feel like a buyer. Inspire trust. Again, tell your own story. Let them know who you are and keep it simple.

“So, focus your company, give social networking a try but be smart about it, and think like a buyer and give your store a makeover.”

Quick Query: Volusion COO on Platform Upgrades, Tips to Merchants

Volusion is an early-day hosted shopping cart platform which has grown to represent 18,000 online shops. The business has recently upgraded its platform and to describe those updates, among other ecommerce topics, we talked with Volusion’s chief operating officer, Clay Olivier.

PeC: Tell us a little history of Volusion.

Clay Olivier:“We have been in business since 1999. The business was founded by my spouse, Kevin Sproles. Actually, it is a great start-up story itself. He began in his parents’ bedroom with allowance money and he began designing websites. Like a great deal of entrepreneurs, he just put it all back into marketing and gradually built it up. In 2003, I left Dell Computers, where I had an extremely successful career, and was prepared to begin my own business.

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“I started an online shop using Volusion applications and found it on likely page three of Google, and it was this remarkable platform. There was not a whole lot of marketing there since it was really a programmer, Kevin, who’d initially started it, and I just adored the platform. It was better than everyone else and so I started using it.

“I really became an angel investor on the bargain and opened up an office in Austin [Texas], and immediately hired a sales and marketing group and the rest is history. We have worked with over 100,000 entrepreneurs in addition to a whole lot of small companies and Fortune 500 brands, and we have had tremendous success. And lots of it’s because we actually listen to our clients. We are really focused on ensuring they are effective and frankly just have a terrific time. We are entrepreneurs in mind.”

PeC: What is your customer count now?

Olivier:“We have over 18,000 busy shops. The huge majority are small businesses, but because our platform is scalable and we’ve got all of the safety things that all the bigger brands need. And we have had a whole lot of success there since we are so competitively priced and actually offering sort of a one-stop store.”

PeC: What is the selection of prices for your products?

Olivier: “It starts at $24.99. That really includes everything merchants need, such as hosting.

“With regards to small business, plans ranges up to about $159 for a month; then for individuals with bigger needs, [we’ve ] custom pricing because of quantity and items of that nature.”

PeC: Are there any transaction fees?

Olivier:“No, there are no transaction fees in any respect. It truly sets us apart from people like Yahoo! and ProStores.”

PeC: Your company has just announced updates to your platform. Please give us a summary of these.

Olivier:“A lot of these [ideas for the] updates came from our customers, as we have ecommerce specialists in-house that really try to listen to our community.

“We included Soft Add to Cart, a feature that actually helps enhance the shopping experience by allowing customers to add their products in the cart without leaving the product details page; and, gift registry, which was something that people have been asking for, for quite a long time. A new social feature we added is named Insert This. It helps online shoppers to split the products they see on the actual merchant’s site across a hundred social networking networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, Kaboodle, StumbleUpon, and much more. Things like this help elevate brand awareness and get more people to purchase.

“We also made two improvements to our government area. There are far more intuitive navigation tabs and menus. We redid our order-processing page. There are a few new performance indicators. We really built out a completely different user interface group and, this year we will see some really big improvements on this front.

“Also, we greatly improved our search capabilities for all our merchants. The refinement we added actually takes it to another level. It allows grouping of additional key words or terms like key words, refinement by manufacturer, prices, and custom fields. For bigger merchants that have a good deal more SKUs, it is critical because it helps people find what they are actually searching for.

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“My Rewards is what we’re calling our loyalty reward program, which is a really major thing. We also made the software so you can actually change any field on the shops. So, essentially, you can translate your applications or your site into any web-safe language. There are a whole lot of little things which were also added, but those were a few of the sort of important features.”

PeC: How do you balance all the characteristics which Volusion provides against a new merchant only coming in trying to get up and running?

Olivier:“I think that, though we do have a great deal of features, it’s quite easy to use a whole lot of it. So as to produce a product, you just have to fill out three fields, which I think is product name, product price, and product weight. The new version definitely has improved lots of that.

“I believe one of the things which you will see from us in the future is truly trying to separate out some of the innovative features from the entrance level attributes to ensure when a new merchant comes in from a consumer‘s perspective, all they see is only those basic capabilities. So, though there are three fields you need to fill out to really create a product, there are probably 50 to 75 more areas which will let you actually do anything about your product you could want. If you truly need to scale and grow, those are things you are going to need to do because it’s very competitive out there. If you’re simply displaying a product online and you are not wanting to do any sort of sophisticated vouchers or you do not need to actually deal with search refinement, it will really hinder achievement; and as time goes on, having the performance helps distinguish our merchants out and for the people that we’ve seen succeed are utilizing a whole lot more of those features.”

PeC: Anything else on your mind for our readers?

Olivier: I feel a really major concern is security. PCI certification is truly a big deal, and there are a whole lot of providers out there that, regardless of the claims they make in their sites, are really not certified.

“If you visit Visa’s site or to Google, you type in’Visa PCI,’ and on this page if you click on the international list of PCI/DSS Validated Service Providers, you will see everybody that is actually certified. No amount of advertising spent can alter that. And, so we’d really like to see folks be certain they’re being certified. [Editor’s Note: The Visa listing to which Mr. Olivier refers is for hosted shopping carts. Another list, for PCI accredited licensed carts, appears on the [PCI Security Council website ] (https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/index.shtml)

“I would also tell people to use some negative keywords [in pay-per-click marketing campaigns]. I know a whole lot of people could go,’Yeah, most of us know about negative keywords,’ but we think that it’s one of those things that entrepreneurs do not do enough of. We have particular campaigns that we run and at one ad group, we’ve got as many as 950 negative key words for the Volusion ad that we run. Negative keywords can literally save your organization thousands of dollars. Not only can it improve your quality scores and the relevancy of your ad, but also it actually can optimize your performance. Using things such as the keyword suggestion tool, looking at what your competitors are doing using SpyFu and things like that really can help you optimize your campaigns.”

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