4 Ways to Expand Your Mobile Strategy

The debate about whether you need to design a mobile experience for consumers has been settled. With Google’s algorithmic changes last year that favor mobile-ready sites and the fact that the majority of adults use smartphones, if you have not yet optimized your site’s mobile user experience, do so now. As you build and improve your mobile user experience, remember that mobile isn’t a new or separate avenue of ecommerce; it’s an integral part of the consumer journey that provides new opportunities to personalize a shopper’s experience. It allows you to strengthen the relationship between them and your brand. As you plan your mobile engagement strategy, consider utilizing the following four tactics:

  • Social engagement rewards
  • Make email contact mobile-friendly
  • Utilize mobile-ready interactive ads
  • Craft your strategy for how customers use mobile today, but consider how to respond to future technology

Encourage Social Sharing

Consumers are already engaging heavily with social media via mobile. With devices constantly in hand, sending incessant notifications to interact, the average adult spends significant screen time on their phone. Capitalize on this this level of interaction by adopting strategies to capture consumer attention while they are on their mobile devices.

social sharing word cloud on chalkboard

As previously discussed on this blog, reviews provide unique content that helps with SEO and building consumer trust. But they have the added benefit of drawing people in via social networks. Mobile devices have become an important method for consumers to find recommendations and discover new product. This is both because shoppers browse reviews while in-store (showrooming) but also because they rely increasingly on their social networks for product suggestions and insight. Millennials in particular place more trust in peer opinions posted on social media than in product descriptions supplied by ecommerce retailers.

Offering an engagement-based rewards plan can capitalize on both of these trends. It generates SEO-friendly content, like reviews, that builds trust and engagement. By rewarding customers for sharing products and reviews via social media, you reach their social networks and benefit from the credibility a peer recommendation provides. The more ways you offer customers to engage – by connecting on social media, ‘checking in’ when visiting brick and mortar retail locations, sharing purchase via social media, adding items to wish lists or registries – the more opportunities to expand your brand’s visibility and customer base.

Make Email Mobile

With the average U.S. consumer spending 5 or more hours a day on their smartphone, it’s likely they will access emails from your business via their mobile device. Taking the time to consider the unique mobile experience provides you an opportunity to better engage customers based on how they engage with your site. Develop a strategy that reflects the different ways people consume email on mobile as compare to via desktop or other device. Often, reading email on mobile means a quick scan to capture essential information before clicking away. How can your marketing strategy encourage longer interactions that lead to conversions? Thoughtful personalization will catch consumer attention and boost sales.

browsing email on a mobile phone

Use Interactive Ads

Smartphones are becoming the primary screen for consumers. As Erika Maguire explains, “consumers are now more powerful than ever. Their always-connected status and ability to find information in seconds puts them in control of their own experience, and this trend has forced marketers to rethink how they engage and connect with their customers.” No longer can you put up a site and trust that consumers will find it and the products they want – and purchase those products from you – without any intervention on your part. Fortunately, there are great new tools to capture customer attention.

Connected consumers want to engage with your brand on their terms, so consider ways you can both attract and retain their attention while they’re using their mobile device. Interactive video is one way to achieve this. According to Brett Relander, interactive ads are a growing trend for user acquisition in the mobile sector; they require the consumer to take some kind of action which can result in more meaningful data than other ads users view passively. The customer is more engaged by virtue of the interaction and you can glean more useful data about their shopping and purchase preferences.

Build for Today, Plan for Tomorrow

When planning mobile strategy, it can be useful to design for behavior, rather than screen size. Consumers use smartphones for shorter, more focused tasks like price comparisons and reading reviews. This should factor into how you attempt to catch their attention now, but not at the expense of how you might engage with them in the future. How consumers use mobile today is as different as how they used desktops five years ago, and as different from how they will use desktop, mobile, or wearables five years  from now. As mentioned above, these different shopping channels won’t be mutually exclusive, but part of a broader consumer journey. Take both past habits and possible future trends into consideration as you build your strategy for the near term.

social share buttons
Give mobile users the best possible experience for the device they’re using to access your site, whether desktop, mobile, or – one day – wearable. Take the time to consider how they want to interact with your business and provide a tailored experience to match their behavior on each platform – both during the browsing and searching process and in follow-up communication. Use the power of social and interactive media to foster relationships with consumers – reward them for connecting with you, for building community around your brand, and leverage the data you collect from interactive ads to better craft their mobile experience. Lastly, consider how you can plan for consumer behavior in the future; utilize cross-device tracking to capture the customer journey to understand how and when they’re using various devices. This can provide insight into how you might engage or incentivise customers who are using multiple devices simultaneously, and plan for what the future of mobile ecommerce will look like.

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Effective Search Functionality and Design

Data indicates that customers who arrive on your site ready to search for something are more likely to convert than those who come just to browse. On-site searching plays a role in as much as 40% of online purchases, so it’s essential that your site offers fast, useful search tools to help customers find what they are looking for. Pay equal attention to search design – such as placement, colors, and calls-to-action, as to functionality – such as facets, filtering, and spelling suggestions.

A cardinal rule of ecommerce design is to make navigation as intuitive and seamless as possible. Search is no different – your search bar should be easy to locate as soon as a customer lands on your homepage.

Achieving this may involve:

  • prominent placement in the top center of your header
  • highlighting the search bar in a contrasting color
  • using an unconventional, but intuitive, call to action
  • buttons that match your contextual design

REI search

How you present results to customers is an equally important component of design. Filter the results page in ways that suit your products. These include conventional filters, like category, color, style, brand, model, etc., as well as ones specific to your catalog and which reflect how customers browse your site. Determining what unconventional filters to use may require testing and review of analytic data, but one place to start is to consider product details. Any product specification deemed important enough to list in the description should also be available as a filter.

Consider how customers search for items and refine their searches. As many as 25% of customers will refine their initial search to get better results, so it is important to offer them the right options to effectively narrow their queries. Is your clearance merchandise particularly popular, or do customers narrow searches to focus on sale prices or new items? What effect does popularity have on customer intent to purchase? Add search filters for new, clearance, or sale items; allow sorting by social rankings such as most popular or best sellers. This will forestall any frustration customers may encounter with not finding their exact item immediately.White Flower Farm Roses Search Results

To offer useful search to your customers, you need the back end functionality to support it. Use a method, like Solr, that indexes your data and allows you to group items together under in variety of ways. This improves overall search performance and is more likely to provide customers with an array of legitimately useful results. Fuzzy searches, for example, will return more relevant results and provide a selection of results to further filter. Additionally, employing tools that intelligently autocomplete searches or make suggestions based on incorrect spelling will ensure customers find results that match their query. Even more complex, semantic-based results aim at user intent – whether very specific or very vague – and can lead to better conversion rates (and lower cart abandonment rates) as customers are more likely to find the item they were seeking.

For all that you do to implement effective design and useful search functionality, make sure that every search provides some results – even if no items match a query. Never leave a customer with a search results page that simply says ‘No results found.’ Provide upsells, related products, or display matching but temporarily sold out items – content that will keep them engaged in the search process and prompt them to continue browsing until they make a purchase.

Creative Gifts Search Recommendations

Moreover, use site search data to improve your ecommerce site. When coupled with accurate tracking from Google Analytics, this data can be powerful, highly useful information. It can help you determine future AdWords campaigns, more effective ways to merchandise products, and how to rethink the customer experience to improve conversions and reduce cart abandonment. But to unlock that data, you need well-designed site search with the backend capability to provide results your customers are looking for.

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9 Tips for Stellar User-Generated Content

Most consumers today turn to the internet to research purchases, regardless of what they’re shopping for. While detailed product descriptions and catchy marketing copy are foundational to persuasive product pages, research indicates that most people trust content generated by other users over any content you might write. happy customer with shopping bagsAccording to Bazaarvoice, 51% of Millennial shoppers were more persuaded in purchase decisions by consumer opinions on company website than by recommendations from family or friends. Additionally, a recent Zendesk survey found that as much as 90% of online consumers are influenced by product reviews – both positive or negative. If you aren’t utilizing user-generated content yet to engage and persuade customers, you should start now.

If your site isn’t currently set up to showcase user-generated content, where do you start?

First and foremost, ask customers for their opinions!

Customers across demographics are enthusiastic to share their experiences and building up content may be as easy as providing a forum for them to do so. According to Bazaarvoice, two-thirds of Millennials want ways to share their opinions about products – and it doesn’t necessarily matter to them how their opinions are distributed. Not asking for their views is a missed opportunity, but you can solicit feedback in numerous ways:

  1. Add calls to review on product pages. This can be helpful in soliciting reviews from returning customers who purchased a product before you began asking for them.cosabella love stories
  2. Send follow-up emails thanking customers for their purchase and asking them to take a minute to review. These can be especially effective if sent out shortly after anticipated delivery of the product when excitement is highest.
  3. Incentivise reviews. If you already offer a rewards program, offering people the opportunity to garner more rewards can be a great way to build up reviews.

Secondly, your customers may already be talking about your product – on social media, on other online forums.

While getting customers to add their thoughts to your website is best, there are ways you can capitalize on existing conversations.

sideshow superman customer review quote

  1. Review what customers are saying on your social media. They may already be posting valuable content that you can link to from product pages.
  2. Link to external sites where customers are commenting on your product, if appropriate. This kind of integration needs to be managed carefully, as you will have significantly less control over what is posted to away from your site.
  3. If you provide customer support via social media, consider requesting use of positive interactions. These can serve as compelling testimonials across your site.

Lastly, consider ways you can encourage vocal supporters to share their opinions of your products.

  1. If you have a blog on your website, you can approach knowledgeable customers or experts in your field to provide guest content. These guest posts may relate directly to your merchandise, or more generally to the lifestyle of your customers. In addition to providing unique content, these guest voices provide authenticity and fosters community. Offering this guest content taps into what specialty sites have that enormous retailers like Amazon lack – space for customer interaction. It can help establish your website as someplace customers can visit for insight on your area of expertise – to learn how to do new things, to hear about new products,  or to share experiences with like-minded people.j stockard fly fishing guest blog
  2. Provide samples to target audience members, such as popular bloggers or fans with wide social media reach, in exchange for their thoughts on your products. This tactic should be used prudently as consumers are often skeptical of promoted content. However, these reviews can be invaluable in establishing a base of quality user-generated content.
  3. Once feedback starts to come in, engage and respond to it. Nearly three-quarters of consumers feel that companies only care about customer reviews because of how such feedback will look to other customers. By taking the time to respond to those consumers who have provided feedback, you will illustrate your commitment to customers and quality support. This will help build consumer trust, encourage others to share their opinions, and may even help you improve your products.

User-generated content helps your company build trust with consumers and can help build an enthusiastic community around your brand. Having unique content with a voice different from that of your marketing team illustrates why your products are compelling, enriches your brand story, provides broader perspective on your product, and comes across as authentic and candid. Good testimonials help customers better relate to your brand identity and can help overcome the hesitations of even the strongest skeptics.

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Replatforming – Total Overhaul or Gradual Update?

To stay competitive in ecommerce, it’s important to periodically assess the effectiveness of your ecommerce platform. Are the tools available to you meeting the demands of your business? Has the design become outdated or ceased to be user-friendly? Have customers expressed frustration with the frontend shopping experience? Is it challenging or time consuming to make the smallest changes to the site – either to the frontend or in the back office? Has your business outgrown your existing platform, or beyond the expertise of those currently managing your site? If so, it may be time to update your ecommerce platform.Replatforming - Taking the leap

After assessing the capabilities of your current platform, you may conclude that while updates are needed a complete overhaul of your site is not feasible or appropriate in the short term. So what are you to do? Is it better to stick with your current site, hoping to make it last until you do have the necessary resources to replatform? Or look for a solution that will let you gradually update your site and systems until you have the features you need?

Overhaul or Update?

Your course of action – complete overhaul or gradual adoption of new systems – will stem from the specific reasons you want to update your site.

Reasons to replatform now:

  1. The size and complexity of the site has made it difficult or time-consuming to manage. Even basic design updates or simple inventory actions require significant staff time or custom coding.
  2. Legacy systems you have relied on in past are no longer matching the demands of your business. It’s time to start from scratch with tools that more closely align with how you operate your business today, and how you expect to grow in the future.
  3. There is immediate need to improve the efficiency of your back office tools. A unified back office or OMS provides ample opportunity for process improvements and cost savings. If your business has adapted a variety of programs over the years to meet back office demands, replatforming is an excellent opportunity to bring those tasks into one area and allow your employees to become more efficient and effective.
  4. Your business has grown beyond the technical capacity of your existing platform. Many ecommerce companies start small, sometimes relying on in-house technical capacity. But as online shopping has evolved and grown, so to have the technical demands of maintaining your site. It is important that your platform be capable of supporting your current and future business demands. Replatforming with a scalable ecommerce provider will ensure you can and will.
  5. Mobile responsiveness and site speed are concerns. As moreand more customers shop from their mobile devices, having a site that can provide an optimized experience no matter the device is crucial. If your site is not already mobile-ready, then replatforming with a responsive or mobile-ready design and attendant speeds is your best option.
  6. You have committed time and thought and outlined business needs and goals for your new platform. The more detail you have about what features you need in an ecommerce platform – and how those features will help your business grow and succeed – the more successful your replatforming effort will be.

Integrated technologyReasons to update gradually:

  1. Your site works largely as designed, but needs some minor but not comprehensive performance improvements. The back office systems meet current demands and allow you to provide the quality of customer service desired. Moreover, these systems are well understood by your team, or retraining is not within the current scope of the project.
  2. If you plan to migrate mission-critical integrations to your new ecommerce platform, it is crucial to take time and set them up correctly. Working with a customizable, flexible ecommerce platform, will allow you to retain existing processes and it may be worth the extra time – and gradual adoption of a new platform – to get these connections right
  3. The visual layout is still user-friendly and provides a tolerable mobile experience for customers. The design may need refreshing but generally meets customer demands. A more comprehensive redesign may be necessary in the future, but the need is not immediate.
  4. While you understand the need for making changes, the demands of your business are evolving, making it difficult to define the features you need from a new platform. You may be expanding into new markets, shifting focus from one audience to another, or rolling out a new catalog of products. As stated above, well-articulated business goals make the redevelopment/replatform process more effective and more efficient. If you aren’t able to identify those for your entire business, but can for one area (e.g. back office functionality, frontend user experience), a gradual approach is the better way to go.
  5. Even if replatforming is the better option, limited resources may require a moregradual approach. Find an ecommerce partner that is willing work with you to understand the long term aim of your decision to replatform, and who is willing to work with you through the challenges currently standing in the way of those goals.

A new platform and site design can improve traffic and conversions, increase AOV and reduce abandoned carts. They will provide you with tools to more effectively engage your customers, to respond to the shift towards mobile, and take advantage of the new ways people are using social media for ecommerce. The right platform will help you meet current and future business demands, and allow you to grow in ways you might not be able to anticipate. Whether your business is ready to commit time and resources to replatform your ecommerce site, or if your situation needs a more gradual approach, now is the time to consider the potential rewards that a revitalized site can bring.

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Top 5 Things to Look for in a New Ecommerce Platform

Consumer expectations in ecommerce evolve rapidly. It’s important to stay responsive to those expectations in order to stay competitive in a diverse and growing field. This doesn’t mean adopting every new trend as it comes along in an effort to stick to the cutting edge of ecommerce innovation, however. It’s much better to implement features most suited to your business needs exceptionally well, rather than partially implement a myriad of features that won’t suit your clients. As your business grows and evolves, staying responsive to customer expectations may mean replatforming your site. The decision to do so requires significant consideration and planning. Moving to a new platform shouldn’t mean enduring the same shortcomings as the platform you recently left behind. Make sure any new platform you consider has the following five features:

  • Customizability
  • Scalability
  • Built-in OMS
  • Robust marketing tools
  • Ongoing client support


A platform that allows you to customize features, link to modern APIs, and design to your specific business needs is essential. Many platforms offer generic packages that don’t account for the unique requirements of individual ecommerce businesses. If a tool that is essential to your company is only available in one package, you are obliged to select that package, no matter what else may or may not be included – and no matter what the cost may be.

Mobile devices. Laptop, smartphone and tablet pc.

As you search for a new platform, consider what features are most important to your business. These may include tools you use every day for managing inventory, processing orders, and more, or may be features that you have missed out on with your current system. They may require connecting to external APIs to ensure data consistency or real time updates. Find an ecommerce provider that will provide you with all the features you need – without requiring you to add on features you don’t want, or forcing you to pick from limited packages that don’t meet your needs.

Additionally, make sure you can get the site design best suited to your business from your new ecommerce provider. This may be a responsive theme that works for any device, or unique desktop and mobile designs that allow you to customize the mobile experience for your customers.


As much as ecommerce has changed in the last several years, it will change even more in years to come. There is no reliable way to predict how technology will change and how you will want your site to adapt to those changes. But having a platform that can grow and respond to new demands is imperative. A platform that can grow with you as your business grows is imperative.

Scalability is also important to handle known challenges that lie ahead for your ecommerce business. Are you planning to expand into international markets? Are you planning to expand from your current B2B market by going direct to consumer? Do you want to offer separate ecommerce sites to your existing B2B and DTC customers, using a multi-tenant system? Your new platform should have the flexibility to grow and support these ventures – and any others that arise along the way.

Built-In Order Management

Efficiency is critical to improving effectiveness of any business. A platform that provides a unified order management solution will not only save time and money, but will facilitate even greater process improvements. With a single OMS provider, you don’t need to work with multiple external partners to coordinate processes. When issues arise, you can identify, isolate, and resolve them quickly.

Workers In Warehouse Preparing Goods For Dispatch

We’ve previously discussed three reasons to integrate your ecommerce systems, all of which provide great opportunities for improving efficiency. In addition to those, a single OMS system better enables you to track and prevent fraud; handle payment authorizations, refunds and returns; manage the pre-order or backorder of inventory; and provide multiple solutions for order fulfillment (e.g. in-store pick-up, drop-ship, ship to store, etc.)

Robust Marketing Tools

Customer expectations evolve almost as quickly as you can adapt to them. You need an ecommerce platform with a robust suite of marketing tools that allows you to target your audience in a variety of ways. Whether through customer-driven personalization, segmented banner ads, or innovative merchandising campaigns, be sure your new platform has multiple ways to target and attract customers. If you are looking to expand into multilingual or international markets, ensure that your new platform supports these growth opportunities. The same tools can be used effectively to target international customers, as well as domestic ones.

With the number of online purchase via mobile poised to grow dramatically in the coming year, ensure that your new platform includes the tools needed to market specifically to your mobile customers. Take advantage of the opportunities posed by a distinct mobilestrategy – your customers will notice and respond.

Ongoing Client Support

Maintaining an ecommerce site is an ongoing task. Whatever your level of experience, having a responsive and supportive client team behind you can make a huge difference in your ability to match market demands, respond to customer expectations, and meet your growth potential. You need a team that not only will shepherd you through the replatforming experience smoothly, but will remain available after your updated site launches and orders start coming in.Black Business woman in conference with associates

An ecommerce partner that provides ongoing client support will be better positioned to respond to your business needs as your site grows and evolves. They can respond quickly to and resolve issues, or incorporate customer feedback into new or improved platform features. If you maintain integrations with existing systems, a responsive client team can help support those connections as long as you need – and help you migrate off those systems in the future if necessary.

Replatforming is a significant undertaking and will affect your entire business. Finding the right ecommerce partner to guide you through the process is crucial to your eventual success. You want a partner that has been through the process numerous times, who understands the importance of maintaining your hard-won customer relationships, and are experts at migrating the strong SEO you have built into your existing site. (Read more from Acceleration Partners about the importance of bringing your search rankings to a new platform here.) Look for one that lets you customize the platform to take advantage of the features you need; that offers scalability to keep pace with your anticipated growth; that includes built-in order management; that provides robust marketing tools to let you target customers in dynamic ways; and one that above all provides quality, ongoing client support.

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Upshot Commerce 2015 – A Year in Review

2015 was a great year of growth for Upshot Commerce and our loyal brands. Our expanding team developed numerous improvements for our platform that benefited our existing partners and new clients we on-boarded this year. In addition, our digital strategy team has seen big wins for our brands in accelerating online growth.

A few details about what we’ve been up to in 2015:

Upshot 2015 in Review

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Use Brand Persona to Stand Out from the Crowd

Finding your brand’s voice is as important as setting your site’s design. Customers respond to authenticity and consistency; without these, your brand will struggle to succeed in the crowded ecommerce landscape. While it is easiest to craft brand tone when first launching an ecommerce site, it is worthwhile to periodically review and clarify tone guidelines as your company evolves. If you haven’t generated a brand tone guide, now is the time to create one. Creating a brand persona is an invaluable tool for developing your brand voice and also determining how to best reach target customers.

Once formulated, a brand persona will:

  • set a tone for social media posts
  • assist in goal setting
  • help engender familiarity and trust
  • provide customer service with a framework for consistent, quality support

brainstorming developing brand persona

Building a Brand Persona

  1. Identify a brand speaking voice

Identifying a speaking voice is an essential first step in creating a brand persona. Is your brand speaking  voice funny, serious, cheeky, informative? Select phrases your brand voice would say – and phrases it would never say – and come up with sample scenarios and responses to help illustrate what your brand voice sounds like. Compare the voice you are cultivating with your competitors. How does your brand speaking voice stand apart?

  1. Consider the choices your brand makes

This exercise is an important extension of developing a speaking voice. Pose a series of questions and answer them as your brand would. Choices we make shape our voice and personality; they can help shape your brand persona as well. Would your brand choose coffee or tea? Lease or own? Take a beach vacation or go on hiking trip? Live in the heart of the city or opt for space in the country? These choices will help you determine what ‘authenticity’ means for your brand and help you build campaigns that appeal to your target customers.

  1. Tell your brand story from the perspective of your brand persona

Every brand has an origin story. Sharing that story helps build a relationship with your customers and position yourself in relation to competition and like-minded brands. Telling that story in the brand speaking voice you have identified will help solidify that voice. It also provides a useful opportunity to foster brand engagement across your company; have various members of your marketing and content teams work on drafts, then blend and polish them to illustrate the vocal strengths each draft identified.

Strategy idea sketching on green chalk boardPutting Brand Persona Into Action

Once your brand voice and persona are fully developed, you can put them to use for content creation and customer relations. They can guide social media content creation – both language and visuals to go along with them. With a robust persona, you can quickly and easily identify the kinds of content your brand should share across social media channels.

Additionally, thorough guidelines make it easy for diverse teams across your company to produce content with a coherent vision. There is no need to review copy unnecessarily to ensure email campaigns use the same brand tone as Facebook posts, which in turn match the tone of product descriptions. A comprehensive brand persona guide, akin well-developed style guide, ensures consistency effectively and efficiently.

Brand persona can also help you set and meet goals. Primarily – how do you want your company to be perceived? How do you want customers to interact with your company? How do you want to engage them? What kind of reaction – emotional, intellectual, otherwise – do you want to elicit? A developed brand persona will make it easier to tackle and answer these questions in ways unique to your company. It will also make it easier to generate visual content to engage customers effectively.

Engaging Customers with Brand Persona

Beyond content marketing, a brand tone can make customer service more effective. If your service representatives understand your brand persona and tone, it can guide them in customer interactions. If your company tone embraces levity, this can be useful when providing chat support or customer service via social media. Studies show that people are often more inclined to remember how something is said than what precisely is said, how an encounter made them feel rather than what the eventual outcome may have been.

When executed appropriately, having your brand persona extend into customer service will set you apart from competition. For this to work effectively, however, your customer service team must fully understand your brand persona and nuance found in the brand voice. Levity in brand voice should not be an excuse to blow off customer concerns.

Bullseye on target

Whether just starting out in ecommerce, or burnishing the voice of an established brand, taking the time to identify a brand voice and develop a comprehensive brand persona will be worthwhile. It will make content creation more consistent and more effective with target customers. It will allow you to provide a consistent experience for customers across many channels – from social media to product descriptions to customer service. A well-articulated brand persona is invaluable and buy-in across company departments will ensure it makes you stand out from the competition.

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Target Apparel Customers with Segmentation

The ecommerce apparel landscape is ever more crowded. Companies catering to niche markets may find themselves defining their brand against equally niche competition. To succeed, you need to find a balance between broad appeal and targeting content for your most loyal and highest value customers. Segmenting customers by specific characteristics will allow you to both target your customers broadly and also appeal effectively to your highest value, loyal customers. Segmentation allows you to:

  • provide relevant content and build customer relationships
  • focus marketing resources for greatest impact
  • target customers in specific ways
  • offer country-specific content to international customers

Share Relevant Content

People are much more likely to respond to content that is relevant to their interests. By segmenting customers, you can target your email campaigns more discretely, aiming for better match between customers and content and improving click-through rates. A site offering specialty pet products will see better results by identifying and targeting dog owners differently than they would cat owners.

Patagonia Localism

Image from http://www.patagonia.com/us/the-new-localism/

For a specialty outdoor company like Patagonia that has worked hard to distinguish its brand identity, it may be fruitful to segment customers not by their preferred outdoor activity, but also by causes they demonstrated passion for. Patagonia develops content that illustrates their brand interest and which excites customer interest. By segmenting customers, Patagonia can target customers with interest in localism and climbing to promote a video relevant to those interests, better engaging customers and providing greater value to the content they share.

Spend Intelligently

Every ecommerce retailer knows most customers never bother to open email messages – even ones they may have opted into. By tailoring campaigns to specific customer groups, you can get more out of your investment. You can be more specific in your messaging, offer deals that may appeal more effectively, and see greater click-through rates and higher sales.

Tea Facebook Flash Sale

One way to improve this is to segment by how customers reach your site. By tracking this information, you can develop marketing strategies and promotions aimed at groups based on how they surf the internet – a coupon for Facebook referrals to people active on social media; an exclusive item for people who engage via your blog; segmented sales to people who found you via Bing or Google to better understand customer habits.

Target Specifically

You can take advantage of segments to offer exclusive sales opportunities to groups of customers. Target your most loyal customers for exclusive sales or preview events. This has the dual benefit of driving traffic and sales, and also creating excitement through exclusivity. When deployed effectively, exclusive events can encourage customers to deepen their commitment to your brand – opting in for more communication, becoming fans of social media streams, even signing up for premium services (like Amazon Prime during Prime Day).

tea private preview

In thinking about your customers, are there any promotions you can offer to select groups to help them feel recognized, or part of an exclusive event? Upshot client, Tea Collection, offered a targeted Black Friday Preview sale for select customers in advance of the holiday shopping season and saw significantly increased traffic to the site throughout the sale period, kicking off a strong season.

Personalization Drives Results

Geographic segmentation can also be used to offer localized content. By identifying where customers are shopping from, you can automatically offer personalized content based on location or language. Offering native-language personalization in particular can produce tangible results and secure customers in new and emerging markets.

Customer segmentation is an invaluable means for better understanding and appealing to potential customers and more fully engaging existing customers. Targeted content will make your communications more valuable – both for your customer and for return on your investment.

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3 Tips for Driving Sales in Niche Markets

Creating a sense of urgency in ecommerce is a potent tool in driving conversions. The fear of missing out on a great deal or an exclusive item can persuade indecisive customers to take action sooner rather than later. As Amazon’s recent Prime Day sale illustrates, successfully fomenting that urgency produces results. Generating this excitement is particularly effective when your merchandise is highly collectible or limited edition, and your customers are passionate about your product.

Make “New” and “Exclusive” Items Pop

As online product catalogs can reach hundreds or thousands of items, it is important to provide new and returning customers with ways to quickly identify items that may be of interest of them. Using “New” or “Exclusive” badges on product images, or having search filters that display items that meet those criteria, are effective ways to do this. For returning customers, “New” badges highlight items that have been added since their last visit, allowing them to focus on what might be of greatest interest to them – ones they haven’t considered before. Highlighting new items with “New” tags in navigation on the landing page can also draw customers further into your site, keeping them online and browsing longer, improving the chance of a sale. “Coming Soon” tags foster excitement and build anticipation.

modcloth fomo

For all customers, “Exclusive” badges highlight content they won’t be able to find anywhere else. Among highly loyal customers or passionate collectors, this can prove motivation enough to make a purchase. When paired with limited availability, a countdown to release, or pre-order options, an “Exclusive” badge can be a powerful motivator in conversion.

3… 2… 1… It’s Here!

Groupon FOMO

As anyone who has attended a midnight release party can attest – countdowns can foster significant enthusiasm and help drive sales. As recent surveys show, a ticking clock (such as those featured on Groupon pages) drives hyperconversions – or conversions from customers who arrived as “window shoppers” with no firm intent to make a purchase. The urgency engendered by a countdown has a tangible effect on consumer behavior. You can feature a countdown-to-release to foster excitement for when an item will become available for purchase – and provide customers an opportunity join a mailing list to be alerted. You can feature a countdown-to-preorder for highly-anticipated items, which can be particularly effective in creating a fear of missing out on limited edition items.

Hype Up Customers with Pre-Orders & Social Sharing

Providing a pre-order option is particularly useful when selling exclusive or limited edition collectibles or highly-anticipated items such as video games. Pre-ordering allows you to capitalize on customer excitement immediately and is especially effective in industries with high customer loyalty and enthusiasm. The risk a customer will forget or change their mind prior to release and choose not to purchase is mitigated when they have the option to pre-order an item. Moreover, it sustains their excitement by providing another milestone to look forward to.

sideshow thor preorder

You can further foster excitement for upcoming item releases with social sharing. When customers pre-order an item, offer them the chance to post about it to their social networks. This raises your profile within their cohort and expands the reach of your marketing efforts. Seeing that a peer has purchased a highly-desired, limited edition item can help drive additional sales with other potential customers who don’t want to miss out.

Finding the right strategy to generate enthusiasm and excitement for your product within your target audience may take some trial and error. But once you find the right balance, the urgency your marketing strategy creates will help drive conversions – with loyal, repeat customers, with casually-browsing, undecided prospects, and with new customers in your target audience.

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Injecting Creativity into Apparel Merchandising

As people browse and shop more online – and increasingly on mobile – how you present merchandise to customers is key to winning sales, improving average order value, and securing conversions. There are many ways to effectively merchandise individual items – by offering dynamic swatches to show an item in all its available colors, by offering a “quick view” of products to help customers quickly select items, or by utilizing faceted browsing and flexible search terms. We discussed many of these tools on the blog previously. Beyond merchandising individual items, however, there are many ways to display items collectively – as part of an outfit or as part of a category on your site – that can provide richer shopping experience for your customers. Taking advantage of the right tools – creatively showcasing your merchandise and your brand identity – is essential in setting your store apart from competition.

Merchandising By Outfit

Brick-and-mortar stores have product displays and other tangible tools to market apparel to customers; ecommerce retailers have lookbooks, outfit bundles and mix-and-match galleries. Some customers arrive at your site looking for a specific item; others come to browse, looking to enjoy the shopping experience and uncertain of what or how much they might purchase. Merchandising by outfit provides stylistic guidance to those latter customers, offers inspiration to help them find items that meet their intangible needs.

  • Lookbooks function as a shoppable catalog page – customers can scroll through outfit images and when they see one they like, they click to add items from the look to their cart. Depending on your lookbook settings, customers can choose to add individual items to their shopping cart – in the appropriate sizes – or buy the entire look.
    lookbook quick add shopping cart
  • Outfit bundles take guesswork out of making stylish choices, and pairing pieces this way can increase average order values. Bundles can be especially effective if you offer school uniforms. With just a few clicks, parents have their children set for the coming school year.Zutano Toddler Boy Look
  • Mix-and-match galleries provide another way to browse and choose items. Customers scroll through a curated selection of tops and bottoms, for example, and find a matching set that suits their tastes. These galleries allow for a bit more creativity on the customer’s part, while still offering subtle guidance in creating a look they will love.Tea mix match orange

Merchandising With Attributes

Good categories are foundational to a successful ecommerce store. A logical category structure makes it easy for customers to quickly find a specific item they are looking for, or to spend time browsing around until they find something they need. Categories are also great for creatively merchandising apparel in curated groups – taking advantage of logical rules will allow you to control numerous factors in how items appear to customers.

  • Creatively manage the order in which items appear on category pages. The most adaptable platforms will let you present merchandise by whatever characteristics make sense: by color, by cut, by length, or any others. You can place new arrivals at the top with badges or relegate sale items to the end of the list. Moreover, each classification of merchandise can have its own structure – have all your items follow the same display structure, or sort in a way that makes sense for each collection. Organize dresses by cut; organize shirts by color; organize pants by function. It may even make sense to set up custom orientations, so that complementary items appear next to each other, improving the likelihood customers will purchase items together.
    merchandise by color
  • Develop category pages that are built around apparel attributes. Based on your merchandise, you can use individual attributes or a combination of factors to display your products in creative ways. Each grouping can focus on different attributes. For dresses, color may be the most important attribute – highlighted prominently in thumbnails. For pants, cut may be the more important attribute to focus on. Product pages provide the extra information that may or may not be important to a customer’s purchasing decision.
    merchandise by theme
  • Group items together in unconventional ways – similar to merchandising by outfit, but with a looser structure. These customized collections allow you to go beyond the usual – pants, shirts, skirts – and get creative. Group together items for special occasions (e.g. wedding night, honeymoon, hiking), season (summer essentials, winter wear), or customer favorites. For customers who visit your site to browse, these collections provide style guidance and inspiration.

There are numerous tools to creatively and compellingly merchandise your apparel to customers. While it is crucial to effectively display items on their own, take time to think beyond individual items and consider how they might work as part of an outfit, or when grouped into an unconventional category. Grouping products together in unconventional ways can improve average order value, help you illustrate your brand’s identity, and strengthen the bond between your company and your customers.

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