Amazon receives an average 5.2 billion visits each month. The hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt has over 346.5M views on TikTok. 75% of global shoppers have used a Google product within the last week to assist with their shopping.
These staggering stats show that digital channels are proving to be a great way for retailers to stay connected with their customers.
This is combined with the fact that shoppers spend an average of eight seconds per day looking at products online, making it more important than ever to make it easy for customers to shop.
Retail TouchPoints sat down with Sharon Gee, GM of Omnichannel at BigCommerce, to discuss the latest omnichanneltrends and how merchants can offer seamless experiences across channels using BigCommerce.
Let’s take a look at some key points from their conversation.
Interview with Sharon Gee from BigCommerce
Retail TouchPoints: Which trend do you think was the most influential in 2021?
Sharon Gee: “In 2021 the ubiquitousness and need for an omnichannel strategy will be absolutely the biggest trend.Online shopping is the hottest trend, and merchants must have a plan for how to present their products wherever shoppers are.
RT: What trend do you think will be the most popular in 2022?
SG: “I believe we will see more social commerce.”
TikTok reached a billion users within two years. Facebook took around ten years to reach that point.
“We are also going to see the integration of ads, marketplace channels merging in order to create experiences that focus on delivering an omnichannel shopper experience.
“Shoppers want information about the product they are looking for.Is it in my area?What is the cost and when can I get it? They want that information regardless of whether they are browsing Instagram to shop or going directly to a retailer site to find out more about a product.
Shoppers desire seamless checkout with Amazon.
“So the rise in social commerce and the reduction in friction in the Omnichannel shopper experience I think are the most important trends and focus areas we’re seeing.”
RT: Which tech should retailers prioritize to ensure the best customer experience?
SG: All of these channels need product data.You won’t convert if you send the same product listing information across all your channels (Google, Facebook, TikTok, Amazon, and TikTok).
“The product attributes data are what’s required to make these channels display your products in search and marketing algorithms.To increase conversion .”
RT: Do you think there are any retail brands that offer the best customer experience?
SG: “We have Skullcandy, Solo Stove and BigCommerce brands that are leading in experience across Omnichannel — whether it’s exploring new channels and creating seamless experiences with our native integrations into Facebook or Instagram, or leveraging product data to surface it across a variety of channels that drive traffic to their direct-to consumers experiences.”
RT: What should BigCommerce expect in 2022?
SG: “We will continue to invest in being the world’s most trusted platform for omnichannel commerce.”We will continue to expand international and offer use cases that enable merchants to sell more everywhere em>, regardless of whether it’s B2C or B2B.
An omnichannel strategy is not a luxury, it’s essential for any ecommerce business.
BigCommerce lets you meet shoppers wherever they are on social media, marketplaces, and other advertising channels. All from your control panel.BigCommerce Channel Manager allows merchants to seamlessly integrate and leverage data across channels via listing partners such as Feedonomics.
When we refer to “product”, we don’t mean just products you can touch or feel.Shopify is being used by many entrepreneurs to sell just about anything and everything.Shopify offers many unique business ideas that go beyond the traditional path of selling physical goods.
Many service- and experience-based businesses were affected by the global pandemic. However, those that adapted to virtual alternatives survived.The latest consumer trends indicate that online experiences will be around for the long-term. This makes it easy to start a low budget business at home, and not have to maintain inventory.What products will you be selling on Shopify?
Shopify has 12 other ideas than physical products.
Expand your thinking beyond tangible goods if you are embarking on a new venture or looking to make a career change.We’ll show you what Shopify can do for you, with real examples and app suggestions.
Online bookings can be made easy for both in-person and virtual business owners.Contractors and music schools can offer virtual consultation time slots as well as in-person services via an online store.
In addition to selling physical products, stores can add services (free or for a fee) to their website.Toufie is an online footwear company that offers custom-made shoes. They offer appointments to ensure the perfect fit.Meliza Salim, co-founder of Toufie, says that appointment bookings are an integral part of a hassle-free shopping experience for customers.We and our customers can book a fitting appointment in a matter of minutes thanks to an app.
How it works: Appointment-booking apps provide a dynamic calendar that allows customers to book their preferred times slots and has real-time availability.An app such as Appointly syncs to Google Calendar and automatically sends you and your customer confirmation emails.
As a means to continue receiving financial support, many non-profit organizations depend on paid memberships.Creators can also use memberships to offer exclusive content to their most loyal fans.Selling memberships online is a great way to secure long-term commitments from customers than just selling one-off products.
While single-visit tickets are available at the Buffalo Botanical Gardens, it encourages visitors to purchase memberships that give them year-round access and exclusive perks.
These business types all have the ability to sell memberships through Shopify by simply downloading an app.Memberships function in the same way as subscription business. They rely on recurring payments functionality and customer account management tools.
How it works: An app such as Bold Members lets merchants sell one-time and recurring memberships online. It can also be used to manage members-only access on a website or for physical businesses, like a yoga studio.
You can sell your expertise online.An online store can be used by anyone, from interior designers to trainers, to book or sell in-person consultations online.
Consultations can be a great addition to any brand that sells physical products, especially if you are an expert in the area.Healthy Habits sells nutritional products via its online store. Owner Carly Neubert also offers customized nutritional assessments that can be purchased on the website.
Consultations may be offered by brands that offer customization services or make-to-order products.Taryn Rodighiero, founder of Kaikini offers online consultations that help customers with the ordering and measuring process.
How it works: A app like BookedUp allows customers to book consultations on your website. It syncs with Calendly to prevent double-booking.Shopify’s invoice generation tool is also available. This allows you to bill custom services that are sold through consultation.
Digital products are anything that you can sell in virtual form. These include course content, music files and fonts as well as other design elements.Note: We’ll be diving deeper into the topic of selling courses later in this article.
While Thread theory founders Matt Meredith and Morgan Meredith sell paper patterns and scissors, they also offer a cheaper option: digital sewing patterns that can be downloaded virtually.Others selling printed materials, such as magazines and journals, may offer digital versions that customers could print at home.
How it works:Apps such as Sky Pilot or Easy Digital Products instantly send files to customers following a purchase. Or, they can provide a link to download the files.
Businesses that are experience-based can include adventure and travel providers, winery tastings, camps for children, and even kids’ camps.These businesses offer online scheduling and advance ticket purchase options to enhance the customer experience.
Aspen Expeditions Worldwide offers rock climbing, international guided trips and camping expeditions through their ecommerce store.Aspen Expeditions organizes information by adding tabs in the product description.To draw potential customers into the experience, Aspen Expeditions uses video content.
How it works: Experience-based or travel-based businesses might need additional information such as emergency contact numbers and medical concerns.To create flexible and robust forms, use Powr’s Form Builder.Use video to your advantage. Shopify’s online video maker is free and can help you create marketing videos by using footage taken from real experiences.
6.Workshops and classes
Independent fitness businesses suffered a huge blow during the pandemic. Many were forced to close their physical studios and stop programming.However, courses can be transferred to an online format easily.Online classes were popularized by boxing gyms and yoga studios. Participants could purchase class passes online and then attend classes.
If You Made is a course that creates creative content for industry professionals and distributes programming digitally to students. But it didn’t begin this way.Emily Newman, founder of Wedding Styling 101, says that it started as an in-person workshop curriculum.To make it more accessible and portable, we then brought that content online.Our courses include video, PDFs, worksheets and videos.
Nonna in Italy made the same decision. In response to the drop in tourism in 2020, she converted her pasta-making classes to an online format and delivered them worldwide through her Nonna Live website.You can also sell virtual or in-person classes through Shopify. This includes art, music and coding.
How it works:An application like Courses turns your Shopify store into an online course platform that allows you to create lessons for sale online.Shopify’s online video maker allows you to create course content and then sell it repeatedly.Bold memberships are a great choice for fitness studios that want to offer access to a series of courses.
Renting businesses provide physical products for customers for a set period of time.Customers pay for the convenience of having an item available for a short time without long-term storage costs or maintenance.
Mannequin Madness rents out temporary props and sells them to other shops via its online shop.Judi Henderson-Townsen, owner and accidental entrepreneur, says that he saw a mannequin for sale on Craigslist. He wanted to purchase it for an art project.“When I found out that the seller owned the only mannequin-rental company in town, and was leaving the state,” I purchased his entire inventory. While the rental catalog is online, Mannequin madness uses a contact form for customers to evaluate their needs before processing the rental.
Dress rental company The Fitzroy uses a self-serve model. Customers are asked to choose a rental period by using the date selector option on its product page.The app is simple and clear, with a FAQ page and clear instructions for customers. It also makes it easy for staff to return and rent the item.
Adobe is committed to empowering the developer ecosystem to create superior experiences and services for all customers.We are pleased to announce support for extensions subscription models, starting November 30, 2021. This will allow us to further serve developers and customers of Adobe Commerce and Magento OpenSource.Developers can provide ongoing support and investments in established products to give merchants greater security and lower maintenance costs.
Multiple extension vendors have moved to the subscription model as the market for ecommercesoftware continues to embrace a subscription licensing structure.Numerous prominent software marketplaces and ecosystems only operate under the subscription model.Numerous Magento extension builders, including Amasty and Mageplaza, Aheadworks and Mirasvit have announced that they will be switching to an annual subscription model.Most extension vendors will soon announce or implement similar changes based on community feedback.
Adobe Commerce Marketplace subscription licenses do not limit the use of code already downloaded and installed on merchants’ computers.An active subscription is required in order to receive upgrades, support, or any other services or features that the vendor may provide as part of the license.Merchants have the option to cancel their subscription at any moment.
Subscription license extensions will include basic support in the subscription price.The Marketplace does not support multiple subscription tiers nor subscription add-ons at the time of release. However, we plan to expand this and other features in future releases.
Existing SKUs cannot be converted to subscription license. Merchants will not automatically be subscribed to products that move to the subscription licence.Vendors may opt to remove some of their Marketplace SKUs and create new products under the subscription license.This will allow merchants to consent to the purchase of the subscription.Extensions under the subscription license must comply with the same Marketplace requirements and EQP requirements.
Marketplace and Commerce Developer Portal will enable vendors to allow a 180-day grace period for sellers who have previously purchased extensions.The new SKU will be connected to the Store and the extension removed from it.Merchants that have the extended extension will be informed that they have a 180-day grace when signing up for the new product.
The same 25-day return policy applies as for the initial purchase.
Your brand’s success is directly tied to eCommerce CRO.It is not worth driving people to your website if they don’t buy anything.
Many retailers fail to increase their conversion rate once customers have landed on their website.It can be difficult to know where you should start. If you don’t know what you need, you could end up doing more damage than good.
Fear not, because this post will cover nine common mistakes made by eCommerce CROs.We’ll also share tips on how to fix them.We’ll be looking at:
Let’s get started if you want to increase your conversion rate and boost your sales!
Don’t Worry about eCommerce CRO!
Making small changes to your website can make a big difference in your conversion rate, whether it is positive or negative.You could let profit slip by if you don’t regularly analyze your conversion rate and look for ways to improve it.
Let’s suppose that you convert one visitor to your store for every 100.You could improve this number to 2% by making improvements, such as fixing a broken link or simplifying the payment page.It may seem low, but it will instantly double your revenue.
What does an eCommerce CRO do?
Data is the key to a successful ecommerce CRO strategy.Without data about your site’s performance, it will be difficult to spot where conversions are dropping.The first step is to analyze conversion data on your site and to hypothesize about what can be done to improve it.
Be careful.Changes can have a negative effect on your business.To ensure reliable results, A/B testing is a scientific approach.
You can test a new version or page of your website using A/B testing. By segmenting your visitors, 50% will view the new variant while 50% will continue to see the original.You can compare both the results to determine which one has the highest conversion rate and then decide whether you want to adopt the change or not.
There are many types of tests. Some are simple, but they have significant impact. Others are more complex and cost-intensive, but result in a lower conversion rate.Hypotheses must be prioritized. The easiest wins should be given first, while subtler changes should be left for last.The A/B testing of each change allows for further improvement.
There are a few things that all ecommerce sellers should know. These are the essentials that customers want in an online shopping experience.These are key to increasing your conversion rate and generating more revenue.
Let’s look at some easy ways to increase your store’s conversion rate.
eCommerce CRO 9 Reasons Shoppers Leave Your Store
Now that we have the why and how of eCommerce CRO, let’s move on to the easy wins and mistakes for our store.
It is now a non-negotiable to have mobile-first ecommerce designs.Statista predicts 72.9% of global retail ecommerce will be driven by mobile users in 2021. This is an increase from 58.9% in 2017.
A beautiful desktop design won’t be of much value to your customers if it isn’t mobile-friendly.
If customers feel your website is not responsive, as shown below, it will make it less likely that they complete their purchase.
Make sure to test your mobile site carefully. This will ensure that it looks great and provides a seamless customer experience.
2.Slow Page Speed
Online shoppers want a quick and easy way to shop.Slow loading pages can frustrate customers and cause them to leave your store.
A study by Portant has shown that conversion rates drop by an average of 4.42 percent for every second that passes between page loading and the time it takes to load.This is a serious setback for your eCommerce CRO efforts.
It’s important to grab customers’ attention quickly, with so many competitors just a click away. This means optimizing your website for speed.
3.Too many distractions
Customers who are focused on buying the product they desire will find it difficult to navigate messy and disorderly pages.Your customers will be more distracted by too many images and text on your pages than they are encouraged to buy.This is an example of the monstrosity that we discovered earlier.
Keep your website simple and product-focused, from landing pages to product pages and payment pages.Limit the number buttons per page. There’s no reason to have 10 buttons when three is sufficient.A clearer path to purchase will be made by limiting the number of choices your customer must make.
Make sure your product photos are consistent in size and shape so that you can easily understand the layouts of your pages.Color schemes and fonts that are easy to read and do not distract from products will help you achieve the highest ecommerce CRO scores.
4.Faulty Search Function
It is much easier for customers who know what they want than to just browse.These customers will visit your website to verify that you have the product they are looking for.They don’t want to be overwhelmed with too many options. Instead, they will want to be directed to the product that interests them.
High-converting customers will find it easy to find what they are looking for by making your search function obvious.
Make sure all your products are properly tagged and that you have a good search function.To help customers narrow down their choices and prevent them from scrolling through many pages, you’ll need to provide a variety of filters.
Online shopping has one major drawback: customers can’t touch or see the product.They need to have enough information to make informed purchasing decisions.
Your product descriptions should be concise and simple. This will make your products more appealing to customers.For eCommerce CRO, high quality photos of products (including lifestyle photos) and a detailed product specification are key.
Customers should have easy access to information about the brand values so that they can both buy your products and become a part of your brand.
6.Absence of urgency
Your site may not be available to every customer who visits it.They’ll likely leave your site if there isn’t an sense that urgency. There’s no guarantee they’ll return.
Give buyers compelling reasons to make a purchase right away.Here’s an example of how Airbnb encourages customers to act now:
There are many ways to increase urgency and encourage action, whether it’s by offering buyers time-sensitive offers or making them feel like they are competing with other customers for a desired product.
After your customer has made their purchase, they want the checkout process as simple as possible.Customers may abandon a purchase if they are faced with lengthy, complicated forms on multiple pages.
When requesting information, keep custom fields to a minimum and offer users the option of continuing as a guest.
Try to keep your checkout process to just four steps
It is important to capture an email address. This will allow you to follow up on abandoned carts and convert customers at a later time.
A progress bar can be added to the page to reassure customers and encourage them onward.
Customer adds an item into their cart based upon the price of the item and the perceived value.Customers don’t want to be surprised by an additional cost when they get to the payment page.This will not only change the customer’s perception of the product’s value, but it can also damage their trust in the brand if they feel misled.
To avoid unpleasant surprises at checkout, you can provide pricing information upfront on taxes, exchange rates, and delivery costs.To calculate shipping costs, you can use customer information at the shopping cart page. This will let customers be aware of it early.Customers can also choose from multiple shipping options with different costs to control the cost of their purchase.
9.No purchase confirmation
Although your conversion rate for the initial purchase might not be affected, it is crucial that you have a purchase confirmation page when converting customers who are returning customers to life-long customers.
Buyers who do not receive confirmation emails or a confirmation page will be confused.This is a great way to increase future sales and improve customer experience.
Imagine for a moment that you were living there instead of going to the shopping mall.
Imagine that the mall was not just a piece of real estate with many national retailers tenants selling largely the same merchandise. Instead, it was transformed into a highly distinctive mixed-use space with the sole purpose of catering to you and other people like you. It is surrounded by commercial offerings that reflect your wants, needs and values.
Say goodbye to the shopping center of the past and welcome to the “retaildential compound”, just one of many consumer engagement areas of future. This commercial offering is designed to improve your quality of life as well as the fortunes the retail realty industry, currently in a state of flux between a 21st-century revival and near collapse.
The baby boom was the main driver of the growth in malls and shopping centres.When Edina’s Southdale Center opened in Minnesota on October 8, 1956, the oldest boomer was only 10.The idea of central buying spaces was loved by boomers’ parents. This led to the rapid growth of U.S. shopping centers that outpaced the population for much of the 1960s, 1970s.
However, things have changed.
Similar story: Pruning is the Right Thing to Do for Our Overgrown Retail Landscape.
The oldest boomers will be 85 years old by 2030 and the youngest will be 65.They will compete for attention with five generations: the Silent Generation (Gen X), millennials, Gen Z and now alphas. The youngest boomers will be five years of age in 2030. This will force mall operators to develop designs that are compatible with specific cohorts or create retail offerings that cross multiple cohorts.
We see retaildential spaces as curated “life stage centers,” offering demographic-specific and appropriate sets of retail, restaurants, entertainment and services to everyone from young urban hipsters and single-and-staying-that-way 40-somethings to seniors and other such enclaves.
Aeon Co., an American developer, has already begun to repurpose malls in Japan to meet the needs of an aging populace.These spaces are pioneer retaildential.Senior retaildential spaces will include housing, medical services and pharmacies, exercise equipment, lawyers specializing on geriatric law and accountants specializing estate planning. There will also be a wide range of entertainment and shopping choices.
For young urban hipsters, Retaildential spaces might include high-end technology shops, luxury furniture shops, microbreweries and bars, gourmet food stores and meet-and-greet spaces.
A retaildential center, which is strategically located near large numbers of people, might offer integrated living, shopping, entertainment experiences, as well as easy accessibility to essentials such as food and dry cleaning services.These types of centers will become more popular as urban cores repopulate.
What does this retaildential consumer engagement space have in common?These spaces will have deep customer understanding, thanks to sophisticated data collection systems and processing systems.Technology will serve as the center’s invisible backbone.Monitoring health data for seniors, or possibly the musical preferences of Gen Z urban residents in urban centers.
All transaction activity will be driven by technology, including capturing trends and selling to ensure intra-center deliveries arrive on schedule and spotting trends before they become a problem.These environments will be smart, regardless of clientele. They can learn from and reflect real-time learning.
One idea to repurpose underperforming commercial properties is retailtainment.While we focused on one space for consumer engagement in this article, a wide range of formats is examined in our full report The Future of Shopping Centers.
Retail Sales in the United States Increased 0.6% by March
After three consecutive monthly drops, U.S. retail sales saw a rebound in March as consumers increased their purchases of large-ticket items and motor vehicles. This suggests that consumer spending is picking up momentum for the second quarter.On Monday, the Commerce Department reported that retail sales rose 0.6 percent in March after a 0.1 percent drop in February.The January data has been revised to reflect a fall of 0.2 percent rather than the reported 0.1% drop.Retail sales increased by 4.5 percent in March compared to a year earlier.Retail sales increased by 0.4% last month, after remaining unchanged in February.These core retail sales are closely related to the consumer spending portion of gross domestic product.
Total Retail’s Take: Positive close to the first quarter by retailers.Economists predict a strong 2018, driven by rising consumer confidence and job growth.Retailers have plenty of opportunities to keep the momentum going into spring, with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day as well as graduation and wedding seasons.It will be interesting to see how the weather affects brick-and mortar sales as winter continues into April in many areas of the country.
Black Friday shopping began with fewer people lining up at stores. This suggests that retailers may have offered early discounts and that online shopping has taken over. According to CNBC , there were fewer shoppers in the shops as Black Friday shopping started.Spot checks revealed that there were fewer shoppers this holiday season, as retailers started offering discounts earlier than normal to compensate for the shorter holiday season.According to Adobe Analytics data, the holiday shopping season is starting well online.At 9:59 a.m. ET this morning, $600million had been spent online. This represents 19.2 percent year-over-year growth.The holiday season is showing 14.9 percent YoY growth. Between 11/1 and 11/28, $57.2 billion was spent online, which represents a comparable* rise of 16.0 percent YoY.The YoY growth calculation is made using an additional week from 2018, since Thanksgiving falls on a Tuesday this year.
Total Retail’s View: This slow start at brick-and mortar stores on Black Friday morning is indicative two trends. One, more shoppers prefer to shop online from their homes and not have to queue up in store.Black Friday is becoming an online shopping event similar to Cyber Monday, with many deals available online that match those in-store.Two, retailers are launching holiday deals more frequently in November, which is de-emphasizing Black Friday’s importance as the start of the holiday shopping season.
Black Friday was the second most popular online day, with $7.40 billion spent by its end.The $7.40 billion figure represents a 43 percent increase year-over-year.The average order value for Black Friday was $168, a record setting figure that rose 5.9% year-over-year.Adobe also released the following holiday results:
To pick up their goods, consumers flocked to brick and mortar stores.CClick-and-Collect Orders increased 43.2 percent over the previous year, which is a sign that online and offline retailers are successfully bridging these two markets.
Black Friday was a record-breaking day for mobile shopping with sales of $2.9 billion from smartphones.A smartphone accounted for 39% of all ecommerce sales, an increase of 21 percent over 2018.
Other smaller retailers saw success too, with nearly quadrupling revenue compared to the average day last month and a 140 per cent increase in sales between Thanksgiving and Black Friday.Although small retailers were more successful than large retailers in getting customers to add products to their carts (13 per cent better on mobile and 51 per cent better on desktop), large retailers were 60percent better at convincing consumers to make a purchase on the desktop.
Cyber Monday will be the biggest online shopping day in American history. It is expected to generate $9.4 billion in sales and increase 18.9 percent year over year.
“BlackFriday broke all mobile shopping records with $2.9 billion in sales through smartphones alone,” stated Taylor Schreiner (principal analyst, head of Adobe Digital Insights).“Shoppers were buying almost 41 percent more online than they did in stores when they went to pick up their purchases,” said Taylor Schreiner, principal analyst and head of Adobe Digital Insights.
Total Retail’s Take: Does this mean that we won’t see people running around the mall trying to grab the hot holiday item of the year on Black Friday?It seems so.The foot traffic in malls and stores across the U.S. over the holiday weekend was not as strong this year, ShopperTrak (a division at Sensormatic Solutions) reported.Comparatively to last year, the number of shoppers who visited physical stores on Thanksgiving Day as well as Black Friday fell by 3 percent.While there was a 6.2% decline in Black Friday traffic compared to 2018, there was an increase of 2.3 percent in Thanksgiving Day traffic.There was also a slight shift in in-store traffic from the beginning to the end of the week into Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday. This dispels the notion that in-store visitors are moving away from the holiday and more into November.
Brian Field, ShopperTrak’s senior director of global retail consultancy, stated that Black Friday is still the busiest day to shop.Consumers still enjoy shopping in physical stores during holidays.Retailers are looking forward to a successful holiday season, with eight of the 10 busiest shopping days yet to come, including Super Saturday which falls on Dec. 21.
Gen Z, the generation born after 1997, is the first generation to be digitally native. They are the most tech-savvy generation ever to walk in a mall.We asked 20,000 Americans about their shopping habits in malls to celebrate National Mall Walking Day, which was held on October 8.We were surprised by the results and you may be, too.
Our research revealed that 90% of shoppers visit malls across all generations, with 60% visiting the malls monthly and almost 20% visiting weekly.This mall-walking group is led by Gen Z, believe it or not.
We often think of Gen Z as preferring digital shopping over brick-and-mortar.Our data shows that Gen Zers are the most frequent shoppers to malls, with 39% visiting them monthly, as opposed to 22% for baby boomers.Nearly 44 percent visit more than five malls per month, allowing them to enjoy “IRL” experiences and a break from social media.
However, this discovery does not change the fact that Gen Zers still rely on their smartphones when shopping in-store .This trend can be capitalized by retailers using a variety modern mobile strategies, such as BOPIS (buy in-store, pick up online) and push notifications for new releases and deals, which encourages in-store shoppers to engage with the retailer.
Our data showed that 52 percent of shoppers are seeking experiences in shopping.Pop-ups, installations and even lounge areas can be implemented quickly to encourage shoppers of all ages to go to the mall more often.This experience shines brightest at the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN. It covers 4.6 million square feet.Although not all malls can accommodate an amusement park or a large mirror maze, it is possible to attract mall visitors of all ages by following MoA’s lead and enhancing mall with a focus of exciting experiences.
Malls and retailers can evolve as consumers continue to rely on technology.The world’s youngest shoppers will continue to shop in stores and spend their money at the counter, thanks to more mobile-friendly and Instagram-worthy experiences.
Sephora is a major retailer with big growth plans at a time many other retail stores are closing their doors.The beauty retailer is owned by Louis Vuitton parent company LVMH. will open 100 stores by 2020.This is the largest expansion of its real estate, more than double its store growth in 2019.This growth will not be limited to shopping centers.Sephora’s next set will have fewer stores than the existing 5,500, and it will span approximately 4,000 square feet.The company will place a greater emphasis on hair care and fragrances, two areas where it claims to have seen great growth.
Total Retail’s View: There are some positive brick-and mortar retail news that is a welcome addition to the industry.In recent years, beauty has been one the most successful retail categories. This is due to the success of Ulta and other online retailers like Sephora and Glossier.Sephora plans to capitalise on this momentum by expanding its stores in suburban areas and urban centers.The role of physical retail has been changing with the rise of omnichannelfulfillment programs like BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store) and Ship from Store (ship from store).Sephora believes that customers will continue to shop in-store with Sephora because of the services and experiences it offers.The numbers show that they will, at least so far.
Even though the Metaverse may not live up to the fantasies of science fiction writers, it will likely produce trillions of dollars as a new computing platform and content medium.The Metaverse, in its full vision, becomes the gateway for most digital experiences. It is also a key component of all physical experiences and the next great labor platform.
It is obvious that being a key player, if you don’t call it a driver, in such a system can be of great value. While there isn’t an “owner” of the Internet, nearly all the top Internet companies are among the top 10 most valuable publicly traded companies on the planet.The Metaverse may be a functional “successor”, but with greater reach, more time spent and more commercial activity. There will likely be more economic upside.The Metaverse will offer the same variety of opportunities as the web, with new companies, products, and services able to handle everything, from payment processing to identity verification to hiring, content creation, security and so on.Many incumbents today are likely to be pushed aside.
The Metaverse, more broadly speaking, will change how we allocate and monetize our modern resources.As the scarcity of real-estate and labor waned , developed economies transformed over time.The Metaverse will allow potential laborers to take part in the “high-value” economy through virtual labor.We’ll see more shifts in the places we live, how we use our infrastructure, and who does what tasks as consumers shift to virtual goods, experiences, and services.Take, for instance, ” Gold Farming“.Soon after the in-game trading economies were established, many “players”, often in higher-income countries and employed by larger companies, would spend their day collecting digital resources to sell inside or outside of the game.These sales were usually to West-based players with higher incomes.This “labor”, while it is often repetitive and menial and only limited to a handful of applications, will continue to grow in value and diversity as the Metaverse.
CHAPTER 3 – BUILDING THE MEETAVERSE
To make the Metaverse work, it will need a multitude of new technologies, protocols and companies.It won’t be created immediately; there won’t be a “Before Metaverse”, nor “After Metaverse.”It will emerge slowly over time as various products, services and capabilities combine and merge.It is helpful to consider three essential elements that must be in place.
One way I think of these three areas is from a procedural perspective, using the Book of Genesis. First, one must create the universe (“concurrency architecture“), then one must define the laws of physics (“standards” and protocols”), then fill it with worthwhile and evolving content (“content”) that resists selection pressures.God doesn’t create or design the world like a miniature model. He allows one to expand on a mostly empty tableau.(
The technology is not available at the foundational level for hundreds of millions of people to share a synchronized experience.Take Fortnite‘s 2019 Marshmello performance.The event was witnessed by an astonishing 11MM people.They did not perform the feat together.There were actually more than 100,000 Marshmello concerts, each one slightly out of sync, and the number of participants was limited to 100.Epic could probably do more today than this, but not into hundreds of thousands, let alone millions.
The Metaverse requires infrastructure that is not currently available. Furthermore, the Internet was never intended for this kind of experience.It was created to transfer files between computers.The Internet’s underlying systems revolve around one server communicating with another server or an end user device.Today, this model is still in use.This model continues today.Text chats were the first pseudo-synchronous program. However, you are still pushing static data to a server in order to pull the most recent information when/where/how/as required.The Internet was not designed to allow for continuous (or persistent) communication. Nor can it be used for persistent communication that is synchronized in real-time with countless other people.
The Metaverse is more like video conferencing or video games to operate.These experiences are possible because they use persistent connections to update one another in real-time with a level of accuracy and precision that other programs don’t usually need.They don’t have high levels of concurrency. Most video chat programs can only handle a handful of people. Once you reach 50, you will need to broadcast a broadcast to your viewers rather than sharing a two-way connection.These conversations do not have to be live, and they are not.
This is why battle royale is so popular in video games. It’s not possible to play with other players live.Some games that have the highest concurrencies, like Second Life and Warcraft were around for over twenty years. However, these games essentially spoofed the experience through “sharding” and dividing users into different “worlds”, and servers.Eve Online can have over 100,000 players technically, but they are divided across different galaxies (i.e.Server nodes.A player can only interact with a handful of other players at a time.Travelling to another galaxy requires disconnecting from one server to load another. The game can narratively “hide” this by forcing players to run at light speed to cross the vastness.The system was slow to a crawl when Eve Online reached battles that involved hundreds of players.This was because the gameplay mechanic relied on ship-based, large-scale combat.These slowdowns would not have been possible if it were a fast-twitch game like Rocket League and Call of Duty.
Many companies have been working tirelessly to resolve this problem, including the Improbable.This is a huge computational challenge that challenges the fundamental design/intent behind the Internet.
Standards and Protocols, and Their Adoption
Standards and protocols are the basis of how the Internet works today. These include file loading, visual presentation, communication, graphics, data, etc.These include everything from consumer-recognizable .GIFs filetypes to the websocket protocol that underlies almost every form of real-time communication between a browser and other servers on the internet.
A wider, more complex and resilient set of S&Ps will be required for the Metaverse.We will need to reduce the number of standards we have and create a smaller set for each function due to interoperability and live sync experiences.There are many image file formats available today, such as.GIF and.JPEG.While the web is built today on open standards, a lot of it is proprietary and closed.Although they use similar technologies, Amazon, Facebook and Google are not designed to be integrated into each other. Just as Ford’s wheels don’t fit on a GM chassis, so are Google and Facebook.These companies are also resistant to sharing data or cross-integrating their systems.These moves may increase the overall value and utility of the “digital economic”, but they also reduce their network effects, which are extremely valuable, and make it easier for users to move their digital lives around.
It will take years and be extremely difficult.The more interoperable and valuable the Metaverse, the harder it is to reach industry consensus on topics like data security, data persistence and forward compatible code evolution.The Metaverse will also require new rules to control censorship, communications, regulation enforcement, tax reporting, prevention of online radicalization and other challenges we are still grappling with.
Although the establishment of standards involves actual meetings, negotiations, debates, standards for the Metaverse will not be established in advance.The standard process is more messy and organic. Meetings and opinions can change on an ad-hoc basis.
To make a meta analogy of the Metaverse, think SimCity.The “Mayor”, i.e.In ideal circumstances, the “Mayor” (i.e. player) would design their mega-metropolis and then build from day one.As in real life, however, it is not possible to just build a city of 10 million people in the game.Start with a small community and then optimize it for its needs (e.g.You start with a small town and optimize for it first (e.g., where are the schools, roads, utilities, etc.You build around it as it grows. Sometimes you will need to tear down or replace “old” sections. Other times, only when there is a problem (insufficient power supply) or a disaster (a fire).However, unlike SimCity there will not be one mayor. Their desires and motivations will often clash.
We don’t know what the Metaverse will require, nor how existing standards will be transferred over.It is important to think about how Metaverse emerges and not only around any technological standard.
The On-Ramp’ Experience
The standards for the Metaverse cannot be simply “declared”, so consumers and businesses will not accept a proto-Metaverse just because it is available.
Take into account the real world.A mall that can accommodate a hundred thousand people, or a hundred shops does not necessarily attract a single customer or brand.To meet existing commercial and civilian needs, “Town Squares” are created organically from existing infrastructure and behaviors.Any place of worship, whether it be a bar, basement or park, museum, or merry-go round, is visited because of what or who is already there and not because it is a place in itself.
Digital experiences are no different.Facebook, the largest social network in the world, failed to succeed because it declared it would be a “social networking” but rather because it started as a campus hot or not, and then evolved into a digital yearbook, photo-sharing, and messaging service.The Metaverse must be “populated”, not just “populable”. This population will then fill this digital world with content and things to do.
Fortnite is not a videogame or interactive experience.Fortnite started as a game. But it quickly became a social space.Its users log in not to play, per se, but rather to connect with their virtual and real world friends.In the 1970s and 2010s, teenagers used to come home from school and spend three hours on the phone.They talk to each other on Fortnite but not about Fortnite.They talk about movies, school, sports, news and other topics.Fortnite does not have an IP or story – the plot is how it happens and who is there.
Fortnite has also been rapidly evolving into a platform through which brands, IP and stories can express themselves.This includes the live Marshmello concert last year.These examples have expanded rapidly since.Star Wars released a short clip of the highly-anticipated film in Fortnite, as part of an in-game audience interactive event. This included a live mocap interview and a live mocap with J.J. Abrams.This event was explicitly mentioned in the film’s opening minutes.Weezer created a custom island for fans where they could listen first to their new album while dancing with other “players”.Fortnite also has several “limited-time modes” that feature the likes Nike’s Air Jordan or Lionsgate’s John Wick movie series.These “LTMs” can transform Fortnite into a miniature virtual world. This allows the player to change the look, feel, and items of the game.This includes the universe of Borderlands, Batman’s hometown in Gotham, as well as the old west.
Fortnite, which is one of few places where DC and Marvel’s IP intersects, is a good example of this.In Gotham City you can wear the costume of a Marvel character while interacting with people wearing NFL uniforms.This has never happened before.It will be crucial to the Metaverse.
A whole sub-economy has been created on Fortnite where players can create (and monetize!) their own content.This could be as simple as digital outfits (“skins”) and dances (“emotes”), or more complex.It has quickly expanded to create new games and experiences with Fortnite’s engine, assets and aesthetics.It includes simple treasure hunts to immersive mashups of the Brothers Grimm and parkour culture to a 10-hour scifi story that spans multiple dimensions, timelines.Actually, Fortnite‘s Creative Mode feels almost like a protometaverse.A player can load their avatar, which they use in all Fortnite-related activities. Once they land in the lobby, they have access to thousands of “doors”, (i.e.Space-time rifts allow players to travel to thousands of worlds, with as many as 99 other players.
This speaks to Donald Mustard’s longer-term vision for the game.Fortnite may not be the Metaverse but it is close in spirit to one and it is obvious how the “game” might eventually support one.
Over the BFCM weekend, your customer’s inbox will be as full as a belly after thanksgiving dinner.
And as an ecommerce merchant, that’s a problem. Because with so many folks competing for your customers’ attention, it’s easy for your deal to slip under the radar.
So the question is: How can you make your Black Friday emails stand out? Because between design, copy, and tactics, there sure is a hell of a lot to consider.
Well, in this post, I’ll share 9 of the most unique Black Friday email examples I’ve seen. You’ll get ideas and best practices to help guide you through the process.
By the end, your brain will be humming with inspiration, and you’ll be ready to build your best Black Friday email campaign ever. Plus, I’ve included a Black Friday Email swipe file with over 30+ emails to fuel your creativity.
Let’s get to it!
1. The Tension Builder – Tinker
Sometimes what makes your Black Friday email stand out isn’t the email itself, but the tension you’ve built in the days leading up to the sale.
Here you can see how watch brand Tinker creates a buzz around their offer by teasing their audience with a mysterious outline of a new product.
The copy and design are laced with intrigue, teeing up their Black Friday email to stand above the rest by piquing their audience’s curiosity.
This approach so powerful because it creates a mental itch that needs to be scratched. And the only way to scratch it is? Yup, you guessed it: to open your BFCM email.
Humans are a naturally inquisitive bunch. Use curiosity to drive engagement in your BFCM email campaign.
Keep your message crystal clear by using simple designs and eliminating wordy blocks of text.
2. The Preliminary Reveal – Google
In contrast to the tension-generating email above, this pre-Black Friday email from Google comes right out and shows shoppers the goods before the sale goes live.
Sending multiple emails in the build-up to BFCM helps keep your brand top of mind
For higher-ticket items, customers may need more time to consider their purchase
Use dynamic retargeting to follow-up with customers when BFCM arrives
3. The Early Access – Eve Sleep
As we mentioned in the introduction, with hundreds of emails assaulting your audience’s inboxes on Black Friday itself, standing isn’t easy.
But by sending early access in the week leading up to Black Friday, you can capitalize on the increased appetite for spending while avoiding the torrent of competing offers.
That’s precisely what mattress retailer Eve Sleep did last year. Instead of making their customers wait until Friday to claim their offer, they grant early access mid-week.
Opening up your Black Friday offer early allows you to pick up buckets of opens, clicks, and sales before the big rush begins.
To add exclusivity to this kind of email, you might consider opening your BFCM deals to VIP customers only. Adding a reason for granting early access will encourage shoppers to take action.
It’s easier to grab attention on Mon-Thurs of Cyber Week.
Opening up your offer to a segment of loyal shoppers ensures none of them miss your offer in the heat of the moment.
Low-key GIFs can make your email pop.
4. The Multi-Channel Approach – Nuheara
With over 400 million emails being sent out on Black Friday, you’ll stand the best chance of engaging with your list by taking a multi-channel approach.
One way to boost your uptake is by getting out of your subscribers’ email and into their SMS. Why? Well, SMS boasts a whopping open rate of 98%. Plus, over 90% of the SMS message you send will be read in under 3 minutes.
Audio brand Nuheara used this Black Friday email last year to push subscribers onto their SMS list in advance of the big day.
By stepping away from the hyper-competitive email inbox and moving to SMS, Nuheara ensures interested subscribers don’t miss out on a great deal.
You can also encourage subscribers to follow you on social media in the days leading up to the big day. That way, while other brands are only hammering email, you’ll be able to reach your audience across multiple touchpoints and boost the chances of making a sale.
Attention is the gateway to your customer’s wallet. Relying on email alone means customers may miss your message among the flurry of offers.
Coordinate your email, SMS, and social channels to ensure maximum engagement
5. The Soothing Balm – Aesop
Black Friday is renowned for being a frenzied affair. With the sudden barrage of offers merchants fling at consumers, it’s easy for one huge discount to melt into the next. It can be hard to hear anybody when everyone is shouting the same thing.
That’s where cosmetics brand Aesop takes a different approach to their BFCM marketing campaign. Their Black Friday email is memorable precisely because of its understatement. There are no ‘rock-bottom’ prices or ‘one-off deals’ to be found here.
Instead, Aesop uses a calming color scheme and copy that appeals for calmness amid the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. The beautiful design allows their products to come to the fore and do most of the talking.
It’s a message in stark contrast to what we’ve come to expect of Black Friday. By tapping into the feeling of pressure, many of us feel at this time of year, Aesop has crafted an email that reads like a relaxing mental message. And that just so happens to be the same feeling they want you to have when using their products.
Dial-in your copy and design to appeal to your ideal customer
Huge discounts aren’t a requirement – Free shipping can be enough to entice customers to buy
Put your products center-stage in your email
6. The Good Cause – Everlane
Increasingly, there’s a growing trend of conscious consumerism growing around the world. More folks are opting to shop with companies that hold similar values to their own.
Everlane runs a unique Black Friday campaign each year known as the Black Friday Fund, in which they donate a portion of profits to a non-profit or charitable organization. Last year, the brand is planning to donate $300,000 to help fight the use of single-use plastics and marine pollution.
While this is an honorable thing to do in its own right, the research shows it’s also good for business.
For example, according to a study in the Journal of Consumer Research, consumers perceive products from socially conscious brands as being superior to those with average levels of social consciousness.
Consumers perceive products from socially conscious brands as being superior to those with average levels of social consciousness.
What’s more, supporting a cause your customers care about can boost brand loyalty, enhance your reputation, and indirectly drive more sales. So, if you haven’t already, think about how you can incorporate a charitable element into your Black Friday campaigns.
Supporting a cause your audience cares about is good for the cause and good for business too.
7. The Anti-Deal – Cards Against Humanity
While we can’t promise you many sales, one way to get noticed is by taking inspiration from Cards Against Humanity’s Black Friday Email.
For the last few holidays, they’ve run crazy campaigns that showcase their disdain for excessive consumption. One year they sold actual bull shit in boxes, and last year they ran a hilarious 99% OFF parody deal site.
In this email form a few years back, instead of offering customers a discount, they gave their subscribers the opportunity to give them $5 in return for, well, nothing.
While you’re unlikely to break your sales records using such unconventional tactics, Cards Against Humanity gets buckets of free media coverage for their stunts. And while that’s probably not their intention, it is nonetheless useful for growth.
The key here is that Cards Against Humanity has created a campaign that’s bursting with brand appeal. Just like their product, their black Friday promotions are risqué and somewhat offensive.
Build a Black Friday email campaign that matches your brand’s personality. Your brand integrity is always more important than short-term profits on the day.
8. The ‘Don’t Miss Out’ – reMarkable
Black Friday is all about scarcity and urgency. Carnage-filled scenes in department stores across the country are a testament to that.
Tapping into these collective feelings of undersupply is a powerful tactic that reminds customers they need to act now. Once you’ve launched your initial email, it’s a good move to send an email similar to this one by digital notepad brand reMarkable:
How effective are these types of emails? Well, Experian found that emails conveying a sense of urgency had at least 14% higher open rates and 2X the transaction rates compared to standard promotional emails.
Experian found that emails conveying a sense of urgency had at least 14% higher open rates and 2x the transaction rates compared to regular promotional emails.
reMarkable conveys urgency by using a countdown timer. Other approaches would be to show the customer how many items are left in stock or set-up an offer where there’s only a limited number of discounts to claim.
Of course, it goes without saying that scarcity works best when it’s genuine. If customers catch wind that you’re misleading them, you’ll do much more damage to your business than a few quick sales can cover. So always keep things above board.
Scarcity and urgency are two powerful cognitive biases that you can use to drive more sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
9. The Extended Sale – Forever 21
In recent years, online retailers have been extending their BFCM campaigns beyond the traditional Friday to Monday limits. And with analysts predicting that consumers will have more disposable income to spend this year, it’s a tactic that could help you mop up a nice chunk of additional revenue.
But you can’t just go and say to customers, “I know we ended the sale yesterday, but here’s another!”. You’ll just end up like the boy who called wolf. Instead, you need to frame your offer in a way that provides a reason for why it’s happening.
Case in point: Forever21. The fashion retailer extended their 2019 sale by positioning it as an extra chance for VIP customers to pick up a special deal. This intelligent positioning totally changes the feel of the campaign from “They’re trying to get as much money as possible from me” to “Wow, a special offer just for me?”
This type of email could be even more potent if it was personalized and showed the customer’s name along with some product recommendations.
If you don’t want to extend your campaign, you could simply try sending out abandoned cart emails that allow shoppers to pick up their order at the same BFCM price.
What Black Friday Emails Will You Send?
Black Friday is a brilliant opportunity to finish your year on a high. And at the heart of every Black Friday marketing strategy is a reliable email campaign.
Between designing your emails, crafting the copy, and everything else, building a great Black Friday email can be a little daunting. Hopefully, these Black Friday email examples have provided you with the inspiration you need to reach your most ambitious Q4 goals.
If you’re eager for more inspiration – check out some of the 30+ Black Friday Emails in our free swipe file now 👇
An open-to-buy plan is a purchasing budget for future inventory orders that a retailer creates for a specific period. It helps a retailer stock the right amount of the right products at the right time by showing the difference between how much inventory is needed and how much is available.
Having a solid handle on your inventory is the best way to guarantee you’ll always have enough stock on hand to meet demand. Excess inventory, or too much of the wrong product, can slow your cash flow and reduce profits, especially if you’re forced to mark items down. It’s this supply and demand imbalance that causes retailers to lose out on an estimated $568.7 billion in out-of-stock items.
At the same time, underbuying a product can result in missed sales opportunities, hurt your profit, and damage the customer experience. When products are out of stock, just 27% of shoppers go to a retailer’s website or return to the store to purchase the item when it becomes available. The majority will look in another store or skip the purchase entirely.
Creating an open-to-buy plan can help retailers decide how much inventory to buy or manufacture while keeping cash flow positive. This guide shares how to create one for your retail store.
An OTB can be calculated in units or dollars, but is usually calculated in terms of cash, as there are variations in costs between products. OTB plans are also incredibly flexible—apply one to a single product category, a department, or across your entire retail business.
When to use open-to-buy planning
OTB planning is an inventory management practice used by all types of businesses, though it’s especially useful for retailers selling large numbers of SKUs—like fashion and apparel brands. You can plan merchandising budgets for future items based on historical data of how well products in t-shirt, shoes, and purchase categories have sold.
Because of this, some retailers strategically spend only a part of their OTB budget so they can take advantage of special buys. Your manufacturer might give discounts on summer products when the season ends, for example. A higher OTB budget here means you can capitalize on low-cost items in preparation for next summer.
“In September and October, we know that pricings for summer patio furniture drop and we can expect an influx of buyers taking advantage of these deals in preparation for when they’ll be enjoying time outside again. We therefore make sure, earlier during the year, that we will have enough stock to meet these demands.”
Now that you have a better grasp of the concept behind an OTB plan, here’s a look at how to calculate OTB, along with definitions of some of the terminology involved.
The open-to-buy formula will help you create forecasts for your OTB plan. The values in your open-to-buy are projections, so they may not be perfectly accurate. But a sensible way to check your numbers is if your actual month-end inventory is within 5% of your prediction.
💡 PRO TIP: Ready to leave your spreadsheets behind? To see your ending inventory, view the Month-end inventory snapshot report in Shopify admin.
Here are definitions of terms used in the OTB formula:
Planned beginning of month inventory: How much retail inventory (in dollars) you expect to have at the beginning of the month.
Planned sales: How much retail sales (in dollars) you forecast during a given month.
Planned open-to-buy dollars: The dollar amount that you have available to buy more inventory at the end of the month.
Planned end-of-month inventory: A forecast of balance inventory (in dollars) at the end of the month. End-of-month inventory carries over to become the beginning-of-month inventory for the next month.
The OTB formula looks like this:
Planned sales + planned markdowns + planned end of month inventory – planned beginning of month inventory = open-to-buy (OTB)
Here’s an example of an open-to-buy plan for a single month:
$15,000 (planned sales) + $350 (planned markdowns) + $25,000 (planned end of month inventory, October 31) – $30,000 (planned beginning of month inventory, October 1) = $10,350 OTB
How to calculate your open-to-buy at cost
Initial markup (IMU) is the calculation used to determine the retail price of an item in your store. For example, if you have a wallet that costs you $15 to make or to purchase at wholesale, then the IMU is the measurement of how much you mark up the wallet when you sell it to the customer.
If your IMU is 75%, you would use this calculation to determine your retail price: cost or wholesale price / (1 – IMU %) = retail price.
Convert the markup percent into a decimal: 75% = 0.75.
Subtract it from 1 (to get the inverse): 1 – .75 = 0.25.
Divide the wholesale price by 0.25.
The answer is your retail price.
For example: $15 (cost or wholesale price) / (1 – 0.75) = $60 (retail price)
While your initial retail price must cover the cost of the product and the selling expenses that are associated with the item, remember to factor less obvious costs into your retail price. Consider covering a portion of your business’s day-to-day overhead, such as the cost of your website each month and marketing. You want to be left with some profit, right?
To figure out your OTB at cost, multiply the OTB value by the initial markup. If your initial markup is 75%, for example, your open-to-buy at cost is $10,350 x 0.25 = $2,587.50.
Managing inventory is one of the biggestchallenges for retailers of all sizes. There’s a sweet spot between:
Having too much inventory. With too much inventory, you lose money by keeping items in expensive storage or distribution centers—or worse, they become unsellable if they’re kept in storage too long. A food retailer that has unsold meat sitting in storage for two months is a recipe for disaster.
Having too little inventory. “Sorry, this product is out of stock” is a phrase you never want your retail team to have to say to customers. But inventory shortages happen, with complete stockouts costing retailers $1 trillion every year.
OTB planning, however, helps retailers find the middle ground between bloated and sparse inventory levels. You’ll know exactly how much inventory you have and how much you’ll need for the upcoming period, giving you a clear budget to spend on purchase orders for new products.
If you have more inventory than you need, you are wasting money, space, and personnel dedicated to caring for that inventory. If you have variation, inventory can end up lost, damaged, or hidden, which can result in less stock and unsatisfied customers.
More flexible inventory
Unlike quarterly or yearly inventory replenishment, most retailers do their OTB planning on a monthly or weekly basis. Your budget will change accordingly, giving you the flexibility to order more (or less) inventory on any given week or month.
Let’s put that into practice and say you’re planning to do a last-minute pop-up shop in your local area next month. You’ve already done your quarterly inventory planning without factoring in the extra stock you hope to sell at the event. By doing an OTB plan the month prior, you know exactly how much inventory you need to order—both in terms of SKU quantities and the dollar amount you have to spend.
When managing inventory, it’s safe to assume that there’s always more than meets the eye. What seems like an obvious trend isn’t always as accurate as you might think.
We can see this in action with fashion retail stores. It’s obvious t-shirt sales would spike just before summer, right? But OTB planning research shows that trend starts to accelerate earlier than you’d expected—throughout April you see increased t-shirt sales.
Going without an OTB plan altogether means you’d get to April and not have enough inventory to cater to the shoppers buying t-shirts earlier than expected.
Not only that, but creating an OTB plan factors in sales and promotions. Retailers lose $40.2 billion when their marketing departments don’t communicate upcoming sales or promotions with their supply chain team. Inventory falls short; customer experiences are ruined. Shoppers don’t get the amazing deals they were promised if there’s no stock available to buy.
OTB planning takes all of those factors into account. You’ll see upcoming flash sales and year-round seasonal patterns, like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when planning your inventory budget. The result? No stockouts during peak sales seasons.
OTB not only helps you better plan inventory purchases, but it’s also a financial budget that can help you tighten your belt.
For example, you might have a total of $100,000 tied up currently in your retail inventory. Creating an OTB plan can help you carefully manage retail merchandise across your business for the year. As a result, this kind of planning can help you find “slack” in your inventory investment budget. Even a 10% cost-savings in this example means you’d have an extra $10,000 to invest elsewhere.
The limitations of open-to-buy
It’s not ideal for staple items
Staple items are products that customers rely on your store to stock. A grocery store’s staple items are bread, milk, and eggs. Staple items for a brick-and-mortar store selling home decor might be the plush throws you’re known for.
Regardless of what these staples are, it’s important to have them well-stocked at all times. OTB planning may not be the best method for staple items, since there’s a risk of losing order quantity discounts. Buying $300 worth of bestselling inventory every month won’t give you a volume discount. A $2,000 order every six months might.
The supply chain industry is also in limbo. Shipping containers are gridlocked and there’s a shortage of HGV drivers in some countries. Ordering your inventory one month in advance—using OTB planning—leaves you exposed to risk. Should something go wrong, you don’t have much time to fix it before shoppers visit your store for staple items and leave empty-handed.
Inventory budget should be set well in advance, as inventory purchasing should begin no later than one month prior to opening to account for potential shipping delays and merchandising needs adequately.
It needs to be supplemented with other metrics
An OTB retail plan takes only six metrics into consideration. However, inventory management and financial planning is like a machine with several cogs. You might run into problems if you’re not looking at the bigger picture.
Supplement your OTB plan with other metrics that could impact those you’re using in the OTB formula. That includes:
Order cycle time. Also known as lead time, this shows how long it takes for a product to be acquired, manufactured, shipped, and sold. OTB planning isn’t the best budgeting method for inventory with longer order cycles because of its short-term forecasts.
Inventory carrying costs. How much does it cost to keep your inventory in storage? If your planned end-of-month inventory is costing $3,000 to store but is only worth $3,500 in sales, consider cutting down your OTB budget.
Demand forecast accuracy. You have sales data to go off when predicting future sales. But unpredictable and unavoidable things happen (take COVID as the most extreme example). When OTB planning, look back over previous predictions to see how accurate your forecasts were.
Inventory shrinkage. Planned and predicted inventory are totally different from your actual inventory count. Stock can go missing for many reasons, including employee theft, return fraud, or admin errors. OTB planning doesn’t take shrinkage into consideration, meaning your predictions could be inaccurate.
How to create your own open-to-buy plan
Ready to create an OTB plan for upcoming stock replenishment? Here’s how to set an OTB budget that works for your retail store.
1. Know your inventory turnover
Part of creating an OTB budget involves planning inventory turnover—a calculation that measures how fast you sell through inventory and need to replace it. The quicker a retailer “turns” its inventory, the more it will need to buy or make in a year.
Calculate your inventory turnover using the following formula: Sales / inventory = turnover rate.
For example, if you sold $50,000 worth of product and had $25,000 worth of inventory, then your inventory turn would be $50,000 / $25,000 = 2. You turned over your inventory two times during the given time period.
Most retailers don’t set turns at the same level for every product or category, since it’s common for products to sell at different speeds. With the right open-to-buy plan, you can manage your product categories and stock levels by planning inventory turns for each.
OTB planning doesn’t have to be anything complex. Many small- to medium-sized retailers plan their OTB month-to-month, but for businesses with high spikes in seasonal sales, try creating a weekly OTB plan.
You can start by creating a six-month open-to-buy plan in a spreadsheet. For each product you’re forecasting inventory budgets for, add the following rows for each month or week:
Planned end of month inventory
Planned beginning of month inventory
Take this financial planning off your plate with open-to-buy software like Inventory Planner. The app pulls your Shopify ecommerce and POS data to forecast inventory and create budgets for restocks.
3. Sense-check your predictions
Over time, you’ll learn and adapt your OTB plan each season or year based on your unique business’ sales and markdown history. But regardless of which method you chose, make sure you carefully review each number and ask yourself if it’s realistic before you put your retail OTB plan into operation.
Example open-to-buy plan
Unsure what an OTB plan looks like? Alexis Damen shares an example OTB plan a fashion retailer might use over the Christmas period.
Peak shopping months—December and January—have higher planned sales, hence why the OTB budget for those months is higher. February’s OTB budget is even higher to account for depleted inventory in the months prior.
Using open-to-buy planning for your retail store
Each year, countless retailers have to close up shop due to mismanaged inventory.
Use an OTB plan to stop going under or over budget. Know your inventory turnover, run the formula, and sense-check any predictions by comparing them against previous sales data. It’s a great starting point to creating accurate retail merchandise budgets.
For a visual walkthrough of how to fulfill in-store pickup orders in Shopify POS, watch this tutorial video.
Use local pickup to deliver ultimate convenience to shoppers
One of the main challengesretailers face is unifying their online and in-person channels and letting shoppers use whichever mix is most convenient to them—but merchants who deliver on that expectation of multichannel convenience stand to reap the benefits.
Local pickup helps your online and retail stores complement one another and leverage each other’s strengths, resulting in a unified shopping experience for your customers and a straightforward fulfillment process for your retail teams.
WooCommerce and WordPress have long offered the benefit of combining content and commerce.WooCommerce 3.6 introduces eight new product blocks, which allow you to insert products on any page or post in your store.
This means that store owners no longer have to show products only in the product archive or on product pages. They can seamlessly integrate commerce and content across all their stores, on any page.
Note: WooCommerce 3.6’s new product blocks require store owners to have WordPress 5.0 installed.
There are eight new product blocks to choose from
Gutenberg introduced a new user interface in WordPress 5.0 that allows store owners to choose from a variety of predetermined groups and create a custom list with hand-picked products for display on any page or post.
This interface provides a preview of the selection once it is published. Store owners can adjust the order and layout to fine-tune the appearance.
The store owner can organize the layout in a certain number of columns and rows, and order products by newness or price.
Featured Products: Choose and display one product in a new, high-impact format.You can adjust the text alignment, hide/show the price and description, add color overlays, change the button call to action, set a custom height and override product photographs.
Hand-picked, individual products: Display products of your choosing in a grid.
Bestsellers/top-rated: Display a grid of your best-selling products, filterable by category.
Latest products: Show a grid with your newest products. Filterable by category.
Products on Sale: Display a grid of products for sale, filterable by product category.
Products that have specific terms or attributes: Show any products which have been given a particular term or multiple attribute terms.
Or Add all your products to any page, or post in the store!