All posts by Kelly Kucera

Head of Global Marketing

Shoptalk 2017 Recap

It was a great week at Shoptalk 2017.  Connected Commerce is the name of the game…companies are mobilizing behind mobile and beyond!  From sessions on how online is going offline to rising mobile commerce in China;  with major retail and brand speakers like eBay, Nordstrom, Walmart, Kimberly-Clark, Mondelez, Samsung, HSN, Apple, Lowe’s and on and on and on….the discussions were insightful and engaging.  Not to mention the appearance of the Bumby’s for fair and honest appraisals of attendee appearances.

So for our loyal 1WorldSync followers, let’s boil it down on a few key insights relative to product content.

  • Shoppers will start and end their purchase journey in different places.  It’s a fact.  Brands and retailers alike must make their cross-channel commerce capabilities and content in those channels consistent, authentic and engaging.
  • Omni = Om-need…one speaker coined a phrased that omni really means om-need.  As a brand, you need to have your product content available when the shopper wants it, needs it, and when they ask for it.  Is it a Dash button?  Store Display? Alexa? Challenges abound!
  • Content is global, distribution is local.  Content is not “one-size-fits-all;” yet, brand reputation, recognition and market position has to be consistent globally.  However, consumers around the world consume that information differently – it must be tailored for local markets.  Product content strategies are following global commerce strategies and no longer siloed within channels.
  • The “connectivity of things” means product content is traveling and traversing mediums in exponential fashion.  Voice search to physical outcome is not easy.  Natural processing language and search context are just the start of challenges (or opportunities) facing retailers and brands on the consumer path to purchase.

All this points to the fact that connected commerce is growing, changing, evolving, iterating, exploding and imploding…all at once. Product content in this environment must be trustworthy, authentic, consistent, relevant and timely.  Brands and retailers need partners to help them in this quest for delivering frictionless commerce.  The eco-system is growing, these global power houses are choosing trusted, experienced experts to help them on their journey!

 

Thank you Shoptalk for another great year of rewriting the commerce blueprint!

Walmart Unleashes Bold Strategy To Take Amazon Head-On

Walmart has just issued its strongest response to the growing Amazon threat, since its acquisition of e-commerce newcomer Jet.com last summer.

Last week, Walmart announced an unlimited free delivery program offering free, two-day shipping on over 2 million items, with no need for a membership fee.

  • Walmart has done away with it’s  “ShippingPass” program that charged customers $49 a year, just about half the cost of an Amazon Prime membership.
  • Walmart said that ShippingPass customers will receive a refund on their membership, since the program is no longer required in order to take advantage of free shipping.
  • Last week, Wal-Mart announced free two-day shipping program to compete with Amazon Prime program. Wal-Mart also decreased its minimum order amount to $35 from $50, but experts think that Arkansas-headquartered retailer giant is far from denting Amazon’s business.

A new Slice Intelligence report suggests that Amazon.com, Inc. captured over 53% of total online e-commerce growth in the US in 2016, up from 40% a year earlier. Other ecommerce and retail players were battling for the rest of the 47% of the market share.

However Walmart has become agile and is now operating like a start-up reacting quickly to test ideas to capture new customers that includes this free shipping strategy.

Walmart U.S. eCommerce Marc Lore stated in a media briefing “I couldn’t be more excited. We are moving at the speed of a startup. In today’s world of e-commerce, two-day free shipping is table stakes. It no longer makes sense to charge for it.”

Battle of the Brands: David vs. Goliath – Does Size Matter?

In a crowded commerce world, it’s critical to move quick to capture new customers and drive conversion. 1WorldSync has you covered with our new eBook, ‘Battle of the Brands: David vs. Goliath’ that includes strategies on how to move quick to capture new eCommerce market share. This eBook will demonstrate that bigger doesn’t always mean better and how David can compete with Goliath all year long!

Download the eBook now

Are You Ready to Get Your Products to Walmart.com and Jet.com? Learn more

1WorldSync Product Information Cloud solutions help 25,000 global customers engage the elevated expectations of today’s omni-channel shoppers.

Further, 1WorldSync is a strategic partner of Walmart and has been facilitating product content exchange for Walmart manufacturers and suppliers for more than a decade. As a certified Content Service Provider to Walmart, we can help you get your product content to Walmart.com and Jet.com.

Ringing In The Retail: Does Size Matter?

Currently, there are 28 million American small businesses, which account for 54% of all U.S. sales (Patriot Software 2016).

In the Internet Retailer 2016 Second 500 Guide, the most successful e-commerce companies in the middle tier have outperformed their larger rivals by identifying and leveraging their sweet spots (Internet Retailer 2016). Second 500 web merchants, whose 2015 web sales fell between $1.7 million-$28.3 million, are solid proof that small can indeed be mighty. As a group, they grew their online sales last year by 14.9% to $6.99 billion, ahead of their larger Top 500 competitors, who grew at 13.5%.

Many smaller retailers rely on Small Business Saturday, an initiative launched by American Express (CNBC 2016). In its seventh year since the recession, Small Business Saturday events and entertainment encourage consumers to shop at small businesses versus big-box stores and malls that draw in Black Friday shoppers.  

However, as a smaller retailer, competing for e-commerce dollars during the busiest shopping season of the year is no easy feat. With higher than ever stakes, how do you tackle the big retailer squeeze?

Avoid Getting ‘Amazoned’ This Holiday Season

Smaller retailers face the constant struggle of having to match the convenience that Amazon offers, while personalized and trusted product content, including digital assets and insights, to keep streams of loyal consumers returning.

The only way is to create a better end-to-end user experience that is driven by customer insights. Failure to deliver on this experience will mean leaving revenue at the door – revenue that Amazon will be happy to gobble gobble (pun intended!).

86% of companies want to excel at customer experience. But only 27% even qualify as “good” in the eyes of their customers (Forrester Customer Experience Index 2015). One thing is for certain regardless of your size as an organization:

Consumers expect a seamless path to purchase from discovery to delight across all channels and devices.

Agile Is The New Black

One of the greatest benefits a small business has is that they can react much more quickly than most larger corporations or big box stores. In other words, if you see an opportunity to introduce a new vendor, you can make this happen more quickly than the many steps necessary it would take at a big box store.

For example, if you see inventory sales have gone cold turkey (pun intended!), you can help move it through displays, employee engagement and even marking it down to help it sell faster.

Big retailers have the advantage of large scale systems that optimize processes. However giant companies suffer when they lose touch with the granularity of their businesses. As a smaller retailer, you can better understand how swiftly consumer needs change prior to larger competitors because of direct contact. You are better equipped to deal with changes in the environment and test new ideas quicker among customers without obstacles.

Retail Is Big On Small Business

Gaining a national footprint no longer relies solely on big brand partnerships – with the right attitude, resources and strategy, small business have the power to go it alone.

And if a little support is needed to survive holiday pressures, there may even be opportunities to partner collaboratively with industry giants. Smaller retailers may offer flexibility and a more intimate customer experience but when coupled with their larger, wealthier counterparts, the global market offers an array of quality goods and services. If you can’t beat them, join them!

References

1 “The State of Small Businesses in the U.S” Patriot Software. 2 May 2016.  https://smallbusiness.patriotsoftware.com/small-businesses-in-the-us-infographic/?utm_source=FRB45&utm_medium=article&utm_term=smallbiz_sat&utm_content=GBL

2 “Keeping up with innovation keeps smaller retailers in the game” Internet Retailer. 13 June 2016. https://www.internetretailer.com/2016/06/13/keeping-innovation-keeps-smaller-retailers-game

3  “A secret weapon to help small retailers on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday”. CNBC. 23 November 2016. http://www.cnbc.com/2016/11/23/ai-software-aids-retailers-on-black-friday-small-business-saturday.html

 “The US Customer Experience Index, Q1 2015.” Forrester. 6 October 2016 https://www.forrester.com/report/The+US+Customer+Experience+Index+Q1+2015/-/E-RES117482

Back to the Future of The Evolution of E-Commerce – Part 2

Coping and competing in this new environment of always-connected, highly informed consumers can be rewarding when done right.

This post elaborates on some of the trends that took place this year  that we introduced a few days ago!

  • Regulatory Compliance Drives Product Transparency Initiatives: Global companies may face different challenges than their domestic-only counterparts when it comes to product data management. With the emergence of multi-channel commerce, and mobile/social engagement, international regulatory and industry initiatives exacerbate pressures on manufacturers to provide a more robust set of trusted, quality product information.

Organizations all over the world are driven by these local, federal, and global regulations to streamline their product information distribution systems for accuracy and transparency. The complexity of compliance in cross border commerce is prevalent and impacts multiple categories and industries including:

    • Product Health & Safety (e.g. RoHs, MSDS)
    • Food & Nutrition (SmartLabel, EU1169 & Food Safety)
    • Product Traceability (UDI Device Traceability)
    • Product Sustainability & Social Responsibility
    • Security and Counter Terrorism

Noel Geoffroy, senior vice president of morning foods marketing and innovation at Kellogg’s, says: “The expectation of transparency from brands is increasing, and we believe in maintaining an open and honest conversation with consumers” (American Marketing Association 2015).

As the leading product information network, 1WorldSync offers a comprehensive solution for addressing transparent and compliant product information across your supply chain. The 1WorldSync Transparency & Compliance solution helps global businesses to simplify and manage the process of exchanging and managing product  information, certificates and documentation, across trading partner communities around the world.

  • Predictive Commerce Uncovers Unprecedented Insight

Retailers have finally begun to embrace predictive models and analytics in the hope of determining the intent of their customers and tracking valuable user behavior.

After 36 months, predictive intelligence influenced 34.71% of brands’ total orders (Predictive Intelligence Benchmark Report 2014). With the ability for more effective marketing, happier and more engaged customers, higher profits and more controlled outgoings it’s easy to see why predictive analytics have become a critical component to an ecommerce retailer.

At times, consumers may not be able to vocalize what they like. But predictive analytics can still recommend the right products. Intelligence gained through predictive analytics helps build a culture of better decision making, where any question that is raised can be modeled using the right data inputs. Without the deep understanding of customers and their shopping patterns, retailers will be flying blind when trying to create an experience  that drives conversions.

Done well, it enables online retailers to target consumers on the basis of their behaviors. Then retailers are in a great position to offer complementary and/or alternative products, search options, and brands, send targeted product promotions even when a shopper is offline.  The added bonus for retailers is that they’re able to keep visitors on their site longer to help drive traffic, boost sales and enhance experience.  

Investing in predictive analytics is a must for retailers also looking to analyze purchasing patterns to configure pricing algorithms as well as reduce fraud.  

Retailers that can harness predictive data can offer relevant, targeted promotions to individual consumers. Moreover, retailers will also be able to achieve other goals that will change the consumer experience, boost conversions, and even improve margins such as predicting the next best-selling product, preventing out-of-stock scenarios, and ensuring proper staffing at stores.

Be the Retailer That Consumers Want to See In the World

2017 unveils a unique opportunity for agile retailers looking to embrace and incorporate trends sweeping the industry in the form of higher conversions, enhanced engagement, and a loyal army of consumer advocates.

References

“Kellogg Lifts the Flap With New Transparency Effort”-American Marketing Association. 17 Feb 2015, https://www.ama.org/publications/eNewsletters/Marketing-News-Weekly/Pages/kellogg-open-for-breakfast.aspx

“75 Digital Marketing Stats from Salesforce Marketing Cloud Research.” Predictive Analytics Benchmark Report. 18 November 2014. https://www.marketingcloud.com/blog/uk/75-digital-marketing-stats-from-salesforce-marketing-cloud-research-2/

Back to the Future of The Evolution of E-Commerce – Part 1

Hide your stocking stuffers and savor sips of eggnog…2017 is here! Ecommerce continues to grow rapidly, but with the huge market acting as a magnet to brands large and small, competition will ramp up faster than the total growth of the market.  This means that customers will be harder to win, easier to lose and fussier on price and user experience.

The Future of Retail? Look Into The Past

Have you ever heard the saying “You can’t know where you are going until you know where you’ve been?” We will take a look back on the high-impact trends that shaped 2016 and will likely drive 2017 forward.

  • Demand for Complete and Accurate Product Content: Having a great product is truly only step one of the equation. More and more companies are presenting new content regularly, and in unique and compelling ways that not only garner consumer  attention, but  also engage to forge an emotional connection for the consumer to the brand.  

88% of consumers say that detailed product content is extremely important to their purchasing decision (Google Shopping Guide 2016).

Good product content (descriptions, feature bullets, images, videos, reviews) that helps consumers by being informative, educational, and/or inspirational will increase sales and loyalty dramatically over time. Product content is now more important than the product itself. Consumers demand to know exactly what they are buying – and the right content makes for a rich consumer experience, and ultimately makes the consumer hit ‘Buy Now’.  

  • Multi-Channel Makes or Breaks a Business: Shoppers who interact with more than one channel spend 18% to 36% more than those who interact with a single channel (Bazaarvoice 2012).  Customers expect to use all channels as though they are a single experience, requiring tight integration across those channels. Retailers have had  the logistics and physical stores in place, and continue to invest in the physical store experience they are supplementing this with online channels to expand their reach.

Recognizing this, many retailers have pushed to check off all the multichannel boxes: robust physical presence, e-commerce site, social channels, and mobile apps. All of these elements are important, but their mere existence doesn’t ensure success. Understanding the importance of integration of dynamic ecommerce capabilities across all channels and devices is crucial. It’s now clear that the big winners will be the retailers that can blend the online and offline— the digital and the physical—into one seamless, omnichannel shopping experience.

References

1 Google Shopping Guide, 2016

3 “Four social trends already changing your business.” Bazaarvoice. June 2012. http://www.bazaarvoice.com/research-and-insight/white-papers/Four-social-trends-already-changing-your-business-2012-trends-report.html

Still Struggling with the Complexities of Omni-Channel Retailing?

Blame it on the growing millennial generation’s one click mentality but instant gratification is shaping the future of retail.  Whether a baby boomer, generation Xer or millennial, in today’s world, consumers generally rely on e-commerce sites or apps to search for products, access information about those products and make purchases – when they want and how they want.  And retailers and manufacturers have listened to the omni-channel call and have acknowledged that in this multichannel age, consumers expect that the way they shop in store and online be the same.  In fact, with tech-savvy consumers demanding seamless shopping experiences across all channels, some 62% of retailers have responded by introducing Omni-Channel services, according to a survey by JDA Software Group.

Yet why are so few retailers doing it well?  Certainly, the benefits are extraordinary – companies with omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain on average 89% of their customers, compared to 33% for companies with weak omnichannel customer engagement. (Aberdeen Group).  Some experts argue retailers are making strategic errors across phases of their omnichannel initiatives. Why is this so challenging? It’s not for lack of trying, as we see many companies are making the investment.   But the “how-to” on developing that seamless experience between brick-and-mortar, mobile and e-com – is the big knowledge gap.

Embrace the Consumer

Omnichannel efforts must be designed around the user, allowing them to move easily from one channel to the next.  Consumers of course, don’t consider them different channels, and frankly they don’t care.

Embrace a Unified Experience:

Provide customers with personalized recommendations across all your channels. Give your consumers a seamless experience and feelings on every channel. Take for example apparel/lifestyle brand, Vineyard Vines.  At last month’s Salesforce DreamForce event, they spoke about the importance of integrating dynamic ecommerce capabilities across all channels and devices.  Encompassing the catalog, website and store, they are connecting their brand to their customer in one seamless experience.

Embrace Predictive Commerce:

Predictive models and analytics can help businesses determine the intent of their customers and are valuable to track user behavior.  Done well, they enable online retailers to target consumers on the basis of their behaviors. Then retailers are in a great position to offer complementary and/or alternative products, search options, and brands, send targeted product promotions even when a shopper is offline.  The added bonus for retailers is that they’re able to keep visitors on their site longer to help prompt purchases.

Embrace Technology

Several technology trends — the proliferation of cloud services, easier integration through application programming interfaces (APIs) and big data and real-time analytics, among others — are enabling big retailers to converge the business, employee and customer processes of those physical and virtual stores in increasingly sophisticated and comprehensive ways.

This is where the 1WorldSync Omni-Channel solutions helps brands achieve success by providing access to authentic and trusted information helping businesses organize for cross channel sales growth by making their products digital, discoverable and highly shoppable. Request a consultation today and take the first step in overcoming the complexities of Omni-Channel retailing.

It’s The Holiday Season for Omni-Channel Retail

We know it’s only October, but believe it or not, a survey by CreditCard.com says that 1 percent of Americans, or 34 million Santas, say they are done with their shopping. Already. Before the first week of October.  Whether these folks are looking for bargains or are just hyper-organized, experts say those who had their Christmas shopping wrapped up before fall officially arrived likely made their purchases online.  

What about the remaining 99%?  They’ll be shopping, too. On Tuesday, Oct. 4, the National Retail Federation announced that it anticipates holiday sales to increase 3.6% to $655.8 billion.  While in-store purchases will continue to dominate, with 91% of holiday shoppers planning to spend at physical stores, that leaves about 8% or so shopping online (though about 85% of holiday shoppers will likely research online before making in-store purchases). Clearly, holiday shoppers are expecting an omni-channel experience this season with physical and digital retail converging, trying to get consumers to spend.

According to The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), “shoppers intend to take advantage of the diverse options for shopping, spending across channels. Most prominently, consumers are reliant upon omni-channel retailers versus pure play online or solely physical retailers.”

Brands and retailers will have lots to do in order to drive higher conversion rates, so here’s a quick hit list of reminders:

  • Go Digital: Centralize and digitize product content for omni-channel.
  • Get Discovered: Connect with new buyers and category managers to create new opportunities.
  • Sell Everywhere: Showcase and promote products on any channel.
  • Deliver Content Efficiently: Engage and integrate product information with Omni-channel customers.

It’s a crowded omni-channel world especially during the holidays! Can all of this happen in time to take advantage of the anticipated big boost in holiday spending? Absolutely. 1WorldSync omni-channel solutions can help your products stand out and engage the elevated expectations of seasonal shoppers.

How The Consumer Experience is Driven by “I Need to Know Moments”

According to Forrester’s 2015 Customer Experience Index (Forrester, 2015), 86% of companies want to excel at customer experience. But only 27% of brands even qualify as “good” in the eyes of their customers.

Today’s omni-channel consumers expect brands to address their needs in real-time and turn to their mobile devices when contemplating making a purchase.  A wealth of information is a mere tap away via our smartphone apps and a poor experience can be easily replaced with another viable option a click away.

These intent-driven moments of decision-making and preference-shaping have fractured the consumer journey into hundreds of real-time “I want to buy” micro-moments of decision-making and preference-shaping, as termed by Google.  

Today’s Shoppers Demand Information Right Here & Right Now

Welcome to the new world order of 24/7 great expectations shaped by customers who expect to be able to make more intent driven decisions with a seamless experience.

Today’s shoppers demand product information in real-time. Whether it be trusted and authentic reviews, product photos or nutritional information, as consumers we’ve come to want exceptional experiences exactly when and where we want it.  And nowhere is it more apparent than in retail.  

  • Fully stocked shelves bursting with variety? Done.  
  • Loyalty program? Goes without saying.  
  • Free overnight delivery? Naturally.  

But these great expectations go beyond the “what” and are firmly rooted in the “how.”  And that’s all about “Omni-channel” being touted as shopping’s new norm.  The bar has been raised and the expectations are clear.  Consumers expect that retailers will/better deliver a seamless and consistent experience across channels and devices.

Omni-Channel Shoppers: An Emerging Reality for Retailers

For the retailer, omni-channel requires overlapping to ensure that the customer remains delighted and perceives a seamless experience from end to end. Helping a customer through their entire buyer’s journey means knocking down internal barriers to hold their hand at each stage, making sure that each hand-off is perfect. (BigCommerce, 2016)

An Aberdeen survey (Internet Retailer, 2013) cites that companies with omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain on average 89% of their customers, compared to customer retention rate of 33% for companies with weak omnichannel customer engagement.

Fortunately, many online retailers and suppliers have already enabled omni-channel functions and are clearly seeing the benefits. They’ve made the required investments in understanding their consumers’ needs and then tailored the rest of the organization to meeting those needs.

It’s An Omni-Channel World After All: Engaging Consumers and Connecting Trusted Product Data Everywhere

By enabling products to stand out in a crowded omni-channel world, 1WorldSync delivers rich and trusted product content, including digital assets and insights – to engage customers and consumers – regardless of location or medium. 1WorldSync’s Omni-Channel solutions helps leading retailers capitalize on product information to drive conversion.  

Walmart is one such retailer that views the omni-channel shopper as its sweet spot. At its annual shareholders meeting last year, Walmart’s CEO, Doug McMillon addressed the importance of an omni-channel strategy (Marketing Land, 2015). He said that Walmart will keep making technology top of mind when it comes to internal and external customer facing initiatives.

“I want us to stop talking about digital and physical retail as if they’re two separate things. The customer doesn’t think of it that way, and we can’t either. One customer can shop with us in so many different ways – in stores, on their phones, at homes, a pick-up point. But they just think they’re shopping at Walmart, at ASDA, at Sam’s Club.”

Exceeding Expectations and Creating Stellar Experiences For Omni-Channel Customers

Conversely, there are countless other retailers that are lagging behind – whether they’ve taken a few wrong turns or are just late to the game.  The consumer’s great expectation remains regardless.

A survey by Synthetix (Synthetix, 2016) indicates that 9 out of 10 customers expect to receive a consistent experience over multiple channels. They expect a valuable, memorable and story-worthy experience.  They expect detailed and consistent product content to aid in decision making.  They expect to see this same level of detail when shopping for another product in another department. They expect a single view with a wide array of efficient and convenient options. And they expect to shop at any time from any number of devices – such as their PCs, smartphones and tablets.

Clearly, given the consumer’s mighty requirements for an integrated omni-channel shopping experience, retailers and suppliers must move quickly to deliver on those soaring expectations or risk the curse of any industry irrelevance.

 

  1. “The US Customer Experience Index, Q1 2015 – Forrester.” 6 Oct. 2016<https://www.forrester.com/report/The+US+Customer+Experience+Index+Q1+2015/-/E-RES117482>
  2.  “Omni-Channel Retail and The Future of Commerce – BigCommerce.” 2016. 6 Oct. 2016 <https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/omni-channel-retail/>
  3. “Why an omnichannel strategy matters – Internet Retailer.” 2013. 6 Oct. 2016 <https://www.internetretailer.com/2013/12/31/why-omnichannel-strategy-matters>
  4. “Walmart positioned to drive omni-channel marketing in global retailing.” 2015. 5 Aug. 2015 <http://marketingland.com/walmart-positioned-drive-omni-channel-marketing-global-retailing-137007>
  5. “The rise of demand for multi-channel online customer service – Synthetix.” 2016. 6 Oct. 2016 <http://www.synthetix.com/website_documents/Synthetix_Online_Customer_Service_Survey_2012.pdf>

The Supplier Side – Must Do: Leveraging Walmart’s Store Assortment Online Initiative

Consumers continually demand a seamless shopping experience across all platforms. So, the flip side of course is that if a customer can’t find the right product online, it becomes a source of frustration and likely a loss sale. The quest for omni-channel supremacy continues for retailers across the board. Mega retailers, such as Walmart, are investing heavily in e-commerce (think Jet.com acquisition).

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Retail: The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated

A recent headline: “Out of whack weather, gluttonous inventories and changing consumer spending patterns have shouldered much of the blame for sluggish retail sales.”  Sluggish?   Well, we tend to agree with Mark Twain on this.  The reports of retail’s death are indeed greatly exaggerated.  In fact, most retailers — including some large ones — are finding plenty of growth.

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