All posts by Kelly Kucera

Head of Global Marketing

“Are You Ready for a Micro Moment?”

Picture this.  You’re in line at the airport, waiting to board that 6am flight to Atlanta.  You look to your left and notice the perfect smart carry-on luggage.  You try to look more closely to capture the brand.  As you board the plane, you take out your smartphone and Google the item name.  You scroll for the product specs – the size, the color.  A moment later, as you buckle your seatbelt, you hit ‘Add Item to Cart.’  The passenger sitting next to you pulls out the latest headphones du jour.  Is it compatible with your laptop? You take out your smartphone again.  What’s the show he’s streaming?  Who’s that actor?  Take out your smartphone and find out.  They’re serving breakfast now and you wonder what’s healthier – the bagel & cream cheese or the poppy seed scone?  No need to wonder, just check your smartphone one more time.  

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“Silos – A Roadblock to Omni-Channel Victory”

Silos: an insular management system incapable of reciprocal operation with other, related information systems.

No matter your company size, it’s quite likely you’ve seen “silos” in action.  Or maybe you’re struggling with this right now.  The power struggles, the lack of collaboration and the loss of productivity. Ultimately, your business, your ability to sell and market better will suffer.

Chances are that you know what it looks like – various isolated groups, with little incentive to the team and little information sharing.  You might see leaders focused on their own agendas and the inevitable result is poor productivity and missed opportunities.  For example, many retail organizations have IT systems that are a decade or more old. In many cases, the technology infrastructure that supports the channels of online, mobile, catalog and in-store operate in silos which result in a huge problem.  Data silos, by virtue of their inherent characteristics, breed data distrust.  One group owns branding, the other product specs or nutritional info, so if they aren’t talking, the data (product information) will not be optimized.

We know that consumers don’t view these as different channels, they expect (and assume) that their experience will be the same, no matter how they are choosing to shop.  Unfortunately, with silo’d technologies, the inconsistencies may proliferate across channels. It’s a key reason why products may not look the same to consumers; from the store, to the circular, the website, or the mobile app. Consider the consumer journey.  The nature of marketing, selling and customer onboarding today will likely mean a journey through a dozen different touchpoints and business systems. In order to overcome these challenges, retailers must remove the silos, and implement integrated technology and information strategies.

It starts with infrastructure – systems, process and content.  All of these have to be in place, and must work seamlessly across your organization for different channels to be supported. Omni-channel leadership requires a mastery of detailed, relevant and trusted product information. This is exactly where the 1WorldSync Omni-Channel Product Information Cloud can help.

1WorldSync helps to remove roadblocks to Omni-channel victory by enabling suppliers and retailers to deliver rich and trusted product content, including digital assets and insights – to engage customers and consumers – regardless of location or medium.

This Summer, we announced several value-added apps including merchandising and sales tools including a sales kit, merchant kit, and a universal content feed solution for all customers.  This release includes significant benefits for our customers that are organizing for Omni-Channel sales growth and making their products digital, discoverable and highly shoppable. New apps in this release include information and syndication capabilities to sell products through Walmart and other global retailers, and eCommerce providers.

The 1WorldSync Product Information Cloud enables businesses to move beyond foundational product content management, to drive sales and merchandising efforts while aiding in distribution, customer integration, consumer product transparency and regulatory compliance.

Interested in finding out more about Common Roadblocks to Omni Channel?  Check out our newest Infographic.

 

“Great News for Suppliers: Walmart’s Acquisition of Jet.com”

Consolidation: To bring together (separate parts) into a single or unified whole; unite; combine.

Generally speaking, market consolidation – be it health insurance, airlines or phone carriers – has not necessarily been good thing for consumers. Rather, it’s traditionally meant the potential for future price increases as a result of less competition. But faster than you can click BUY NOW on your shopping app, that’s all about to change. Enter in the biggest news in business and retail – Walmart’s deal to purchase Jet.com, one of the hottest new names in e-commerce. The world’s largest retailer has been getting a lot more aggressive in e-commerce over the past year in the quest to expand its online inventory and set aside $2 billion over the next two years to grow on the web.

The deal could help Walmart become the No. 2 online retailer and position the company for even faster e-commerce growth in the future by expanding customer reach and adding new capabilities. And that’s GOOD NEWS for consumers because according to the folks at Walmart, they plan to win by staying laser-focused on one thing: the customer.

That plan includes adding 1 million products per month, primarily through third-party vendors selling via Walmart.com. And that right there is GREAT NEWS for suppliers. Suppliers that were smart to get into Jet.com now are a part of Walmart’s community and their products will be shopped even more than ever. Not already on board? Then your company could have the potential to be one of those one million products added.

Make it easy and partner with 1WorldSync. Our Catalog1 solution allows suppliers to organize and centralize all of their product information in one place in the cloud. When ready to extend Catalog1 for sales, distribution and compliance, there are a number of value added applications that can be added. Your company’s products can get to Jet.com, Amazon, Google and beyond.

Want to find out more? Download our new eBook, “How Suppliers Can Conquer the Product Information Challenge To Grab the First Mover Advantage,” and gain the competitive edge you need in this every changing, ever growing eCommerce world.

How Shoppable Are Your Products?

According to the National Retail Federation, 73% of back-to-school consumers plan to shop approximately a month or two before school starts. Armed with school supply lists and cranky kids, parents are beginning the annual pilgrimage for folders and number two pencils. But lists have become longer and more specific.  And certainly college-bound students have precise notions about dorm room furnishings and decorations.  A simple comforter will not do.  Enter matching sheets, pillow cases, silverware and fancy lighting.  These shoppers know what they want.

As any growing manufacturer and supplier, your products are your business.  Pure and simple, your success is predicated on getting your products onto as many shelves – and screens – as possible.  And as we’ve seen, customers determine when, where, and how they will interact with YOUR brand.   Consumers search and shop in-store and online, they expect access to richer product information to make informed decisions. To remain truly “shoppable” and competitive, suppliers must deliver on that expectation.  If not – customers will move on to someone who can.   Not convinced?  Take a look at these recent stats.

  1. 81% of consumers scour through product information online to find or verify the data about a product they are considering.
  2. Four in 10 (42%) shoppers say they’ve given up on an online purchase because they didn’t have enough information on the purchase.
  3. 88% of them say that detailed product content is extremely or very important to their purchasing decision.

Yes, product information matters – the quality, the completeness and the accuracy matters.  And as suppliers connect and partner with multiple retailers, the need for accurate, complete product information is even greater.  For example, consider Google’s 2016 mandate for GTINS (Global Trade Item Numbers which help classify and display products on Google Shopping) now needed for all products.   As of May 16, 2016, Google will disapprove relevant products that don’t meet the GTIN requirements, so it’s critical that suppliers double check that product data is correct and up to date. And according to Google, the financial implications can be significant:  “Merchants who’ve added correct GTINs to their product data have seen conversion rates increase up to 20%.”

The Google GTINS mandate demonstrates that they understand that product content (descriptions, feature bullets, images, videos, reviews) is a critical factor in driving conversion.  Consumers demand to know exactly what they are buying – and the right content makes for a great consumer experience.

At 1WorldSync, we’ve been helping thousands (21,000+ globally) of suppliers and brands to align on the product information governance strategy to apply GTIN standardization, AND implement for Google and beyond.  We work with our customers to build scalable processes to capture their product information and scale globally across the portfolio of brands in an effort to ensure the highest impact, consistency, and levels of quality.

1WorldSync’s Omni-channel solutions helps suppliers and brand owners get their products to Google, Amazon, Walmart and beyond: mobile, desktop, storefront.

How shoppable are your products? Download are latest eBook “5 ways to grow your top line by making your products #SHOPPABLE everywhere?!

Download our free eBook on Shopability today!

The Dream of a Product Shelf. How to Get Your Products Online and Selling.

Every business person starts their journey with an idea.  An idea they hope will be life-changing.  For many, these entrepreneurial dreams hark back to summer lemonade stands, paper routes or garage made inventions.

Dessert queen, Debbie Fields[1] famously took to the streets, passing out freshly baked chocolate chip cookies to any passerby.  (Her Mrs. Field’s Cookie products are now sold in her namesake retail stores, grocery chains and an online bakery.) ScrubDaddy[2] (an ergonomically designed kitchen sponge) plied its wares on TVs Sharked Tank.  (Since the pitch, they’ve moved 10 million units for total sales of more than $50 million.)  Let’s not forget Joy Mangano, the entrepreneur known for inventions such as the self-wringing Miracle Mop.  Her first appearance on QVC helped the Miracle Mop sell out—more than 18,000 mops in less than a half an hour.

Of course, not every product has the benefit of a TV launch.  Far faster and far easier, it’s about selling your products online.  And yes, selling your product (s) on your own company online store is great and has its own benefits.  But far better is getting placement on one or more of the larger online retailers.  So how will you get your company ready for the selling with the big guys (think Amazon, Google, Walmart, etc.) so that you’re discoverable and comparable across all digital properties?

Correct Product Content

The first step is providing robust and accurate product data for your customers.  Every product online has a large amount of data associated with it, but it can be difficult for mobile applications or web pages to distinguish between two comparable products if the product data is inaccurate or incomplete.

Inaccurate or incomplete product data is extremely problematic for your customers.  Today’s consumers demand rich product information.

Is there enough detail?  Are there photos?  Is there enough detail for them to make a decision?  If not, the likely result is a lost customer and sale.

Consistent Product Content

Ensuring that the product displayed online is the exact same product sent from the fulfillment center can be a challenge.  It’s important to consider solutions that will ensure that product and package variations are managed properly in the fulfillment process so that consumer expectations are met.

Streamline Product Content Management

As consumers, we know the types of content we expect on retail websites and apps. But as a product supplier you know creating, compiling, managing, hosting, updating and publishing this content across all shopper touch points is complex and time-consuming.

For this reason, many retailers and manufacturers are working with 1WorldSync to streamline product information and content management. 1WorldSync’s Omni-channel solutions ensure product information is complete, accurate and consistent. Further, these solutions improve the consumer experience by delivering high-quality and complete data about the product in stores fortifying consumer loyalty and growing sales.

Learn how Dot Foods Increased Sales Using 1WorldSync: View the Case Study

References:

[1] http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2012/11/20/how-to-build-a-multimillion-dollar-company-the-story-of-mrs-fields-cookies/2/#4df04bfc78d3

[2] http://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/082415/10-most-successful-products-shark-tank.asp

Game, Set, Match. Online Shopping Takes the Lead.

We confess.  We do love online shopping.  There’s nothing quite like the thud of a big brown box (or red/white/blue box) hitting your front door.  For a moment or two, it’s almost a mini Christmas morning.

Here’s confession number two – it’s happening more and more (insert festive emoji here).  So frankly we’re relieved to hear that we’re not alone.

In fact, for the first time, consumers say they bought more of their purchases on the web than in stores, according to an annual survey of more than 5,000 online shoppers by United Parcel Service Inc.  The shoppers now made 51% of their purchases on the web compared with 48% in 2015 and 47% in 2014, according to the June 2016 survey by UPS.[1] (“Although the findings are skewed toward consumers who already gravitate toward the web, and exclude the $602 billion bricks-and-mortar dominated grocery store industry, they nonetheless represent the latest in a steady climb over the past few years, as consumers become more comfortable buying items on the web.” [2])

The latest results of the survey—now in its fifth year—illustrate the degree to which the adoption of online shopping is accelerating. This year, 44% of smartphone users said they made a purchase from their device, up from 41% a year ago. It also helps explain why retailers are having so much trouble adjusting to the new cybershopping era.

There’s definitely been a dramatic shift as over time, people are getting more and more comfortable shopping online.  And unfortunately, that has hit retailers hard (conversely, Amazon accounted for 60% of total U.S. online sales growth last year alone).

Though millennials make 54% of their purchases online, the rate of adoption by older people is growing at a faster rate. Non-millennials made 49% of their purchases online, according to the survey, compared with 44% in 2014. And as for shopping by smartphone users: the survey found that 63% of millennials use their phones to shop, while 19% of baby boomers and 8% of seniors use their phones to make purchases.

Fortunately, 1WorldSync customers are well positioned to continue building on this trend.  Our customers are able to provide better quality product images and information, while reducing the cost data acquisition.  Ultimately, their customers (online shoppers) will experience fewer errors when searching for products, resulting in more time to concentrate on growing their business.

[1] https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/

[2] http://www.cnbc.com/2016/06/08/digital-buyers-becoming-even-more-loyal.html

“Retailers & “Summer-itis” – 3 Tips on How Online Retailers Can Avoid the Summer Blues”

“Summeritis”

“A rapidly spreading condition occurring every year when the weather begins to warm up and summer approaches. Symptoms include: extreme laziness, distraction and sudden lack of effort.”

Yes, indeed it’s a real disease (according to the Urban Dictionary). So here we are, with Memorial Day in our rear view mirror and summer literally days away.  And of course, with summer comes…. vacation and people wishing they were on vacation… and full blown cases of what we call “shopping summeritis.”  While this may be a joyous time of the year for many, online retailers may not exactly share the same excitement. Don’t believe us?  Well, there’s research to confirm that. When temperatures rise, online sales go down – way down.

“When consumers start reaching for sun block and ice cream rather than their credit cards and tablets, that shows up on e-retailers’ bottom lines. An analysis of online shopping habits in the summer by SumAll shows gross sales for online merchants in July decline 30% from December highs, and average order value falls nearly 5% below the annual average in August.”[1]

Well, have no fear.  We have a few great suggestions that will help keep your shoppers engaged and avoid the dreaded ‘summer-itis.’

  1. Leverage Monday Madness

Online shoppers spend the most per item on summer Mondays ($41.13) and the least on summer Fridays ($34.74). So it’s a great opportunity to incorporate sales incentives, such as free shipping for orders of $100 or more on Mondays. This will help push consumers to purchase higher priced items.

  1. Increase your Social Media Engagement

Remember those millennial shoppers we’ve talked about?  Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall, no matter what the season, you can always count on millennial’s heavy usage of social media.  This means that their phones and tablets are still within reach. Take advantage of this opportunity to constantly update your social media channels to engage with your customers. Whether you are showing off a new product or providing a discount code. One day to focus your energy towards is Wednesday. During the summer, Wednesday accounts for a very high number of sales throughout June to August, according to Internet Retailer.

  1. Information, Information, Information!

While people may not be reaching for their keyboard or laptop, their mobile device is always within reach. Take this opportunity to create a summer focused communication sharing information pertaining to discounts, new products and special promotions. Provide links to product specifications, photos & videos and customer comments.  Don’t underestimate the power of relevant, complete and trusted product information to boost your online sales this summer.  It might just be the antidote you need to combat the dreaded summer blues.

[1] Internet Retailer

How to make a ridiculous, drool-worthy and perfectly dangerous online shopping experience

“I shop all the time – on my commute, at work, at home, during the weekend…..The ability to find exactly what I want at the moment I’m thinking about it can be dangerous.” Lisa Green, head of fashion & luxury brands at Google, NYC[1]

Consumers today have more places and ways to shop….and have increasingly shorter attention spans. So if you have an ecommerce business, and you want online shoppers to click BUY NOW , then you need to be able to grab their attention, keep their attention and convert the sale. Yes, I’m sure you already know this…but how?

Product Content is King.

Don’t underestimate the power of high quality images – with the ability to zoom in and see multiple angles and views.  Shoppers find images incredibly reassuring and helpful in identifying that this is in fact the actual product they will purchase.  Don’t assume the more commonly recognized or generic products (batteries, diapers, etc.) might not need that level of visual appeal.   Countless studies and surveys have made it abundantly clear that visuals are the most influential factor affecting purchase decisions (*92.6% of shoppers say visuals seal the deal[2]).

“The most important piece of information a manufacturer can provide to help sell their products is an image. Most sales people tell us this significantly increases their odds of closing a sale. In fact, the trend seems to be that they won’t even suggest an item without one.”

Chief Commercial Officer, Major Food Distributor

What did other customers say?

90% of consumers read online reviews and 88% of them trust the online reviews as much as personal recommendations. In other words, more people read reviews as part of their pre-purchase research before purchasing a product or service.  In fact, customer reviews are trusted 12 times more than a marketing piece from an organization and will specifically seek out websites with reviews[3].  By making ratings and reviews easily accessible across every touchpoint, brands can ensure a positive customer experience.  And there’s more!  Enabling customer reviews on your ecommerce site can have a positive effect on your company’s organic results. Each product review increases the amount of authentic and robust content offered… “meaning you’ll be seen as having higher authority, more relevance, and, as such, a higher chance of getting those pages ranked.” Forbes.

Trusted Product Information

Your shopper wants to know what they’re buying:  How big? What color?  Place of origin? Technical requirements? Add-ons Plug-ins.  Images, video clips, specifications, customer reviews and more are all part of the giant need of trusted and accurate product information.  The quality and completeness of product presentation in online retail has a quantifiable and direct impact on product sales.   On-line retailers that offer compelling, engaging, and complete content to shoppers will be rewarded by repeat purchases, lower levels of returns and long-term loyalty.

What’s a Retailer to Do?

A successful omni-channel shopping experience is dependent upon the depth and accuracy of trusted product content.   Working with 1WorldSync, etailers and retailers alike help to provide better quality product images and information, while reducing the cost of data acquisition. Your users will experience fewer errors when searching for products and you will have more time to concentrate on growing your business.

[1] Vogue, March 2016

[2] Invodo Marketers Summary, 2015

[3] Econsultancy, 2015

4 Reasons Why Consumers Heart Online Shopping

Welcome to the leveled playing field of eCommerce.  A field paved with opportunity, growing market shares and reduced barriers of entry.  Forget traditional store fronts and other demands of maintaining a physical presence.  Who needs costly advertising in Yellow Pages, newspapers, or magazines when there are free search engines, email campaigns, low cost banner ads, or other online promotional tools like Google AdWords.  And as a consumer, why brave the snow, sleet and rain to purchase the latest “toy” when your heart’s desire is merely a click away?

Because, along with banana slicers, live lady bugs and canned unicorn meat (yes, you read that correctly), you can officially buy just about anything online.  Even craft beer is getting into the act, such as AB InBev, hoping to engage fans of craft beer by embracing e-commerce.  Overall, 70% of Americans (and 85% of the world’s population) are regularly shopping online and the reason isn’t just for the beer.  So why the online shopping explosion?  Here’s what we think.

It’s so easy.

Yes it is easy.  Certainly the proliferation of mobile devices has been the driving factor (4 out of 5 shoppers are mobile shoppers).But whether by phone, laptop or tablet, you can shop anywhere and at any time.  You don’t have to drive, park and battle with long lines.  You shop at your own pace – whether laser focused for one item – or leisurely scrolling for next year’s Christmas gifts.

More to choose.

If you’re an online business, you have an advantage over traditional retailers in that you aren’t limited to the amount of shelf space available when considering which items to stock. Adding selection, therefore, may help you appeal to online buyers, as can keeping your prices below traditional competitors and streamlining your purchase process to create a convenient experience for shoppers.

Comparison shop.

Try spending a Saturday afternoon comparison shopping for a new flat screen TV.  How many brick and mortar stores will you hit on your quest for the best value and the best product for you?  Sound exhausting?   Ironically, you’ll likely spend more money on gas than you are planning to save.

Conversely, online shopping is ideal for comparison shopping.  Product details, specifications, photos, customer reviews and pricing are easily searched and weighted according to a customer’s needs.  As consumers spend more time researching product purchases online (71% of in-store shoppers use smartphones for online research), the importance of high-quality product content becomes paramount for retailers, manufacturers, CPG firms and distributors alike.

Find More.

One of the best benefits of ecommerce for customers is they can get robust information that is not possible in a physical store.  As talented as instore salespeople can be, they’ll likely have challenges responding to customers who are looking for information on different product lines. But ecommerce websites offer additional information to their customers in a much more direct and thorough manner.  All the given information is provided by vendors so that their customers find it easy to purchase products with information.

This is where 1WorldSync’s Omni-channel solutions help.  We put authentic, trusted content in the hands of your customers and consumers; empowering them to make the right choices, purchases or health and lifestyle decisions.

What Makes a Trend… a Trend?

Rubik’s Cube.  Leg Warmers.  Juicers.  Boom Boxes.  Atari, Tivo, Game Boys. Chances are good that you bought in to one of the many product trends from the last couple of decades.  After all, whether its fashion, toys, gaming or foods (think “artisanal” cheese), who can resist jumping on a trendy bandwagon?  Admittedly, some trends are best left to the pop culture history books, but today – in 2016 – we’re seeing a definite trend towards trends becoming more than trends (did you get that?).

Consider eCommerce.  It was only 15 years or so ago that online sales were left to Amazon or eBay. For others in retail, online shopping was a nice add-on.   The theory was that the consumer wouldn’t abandon the brick and mortars.  Consumers wanted to see, touch and hold their purchases. So what was considered a trend in the year 2000 (15 ½ million households shopped online in September 2000), has evolved into a full-fledged way of life (spending a total of $4.2 billion online – an average of $272 per person).  Today, consumers are spending an average of $2,466 per person on online purchases.  Even traditional grocery items are added to the list, with online grocery growing at nearly twice the rate of any other industry.

Convenience, value and the proliferation of mobile devices have been key drivers in changing consumer shopping behaviors.  So what’s a growing retailer to do?  How can retailers capitalize on current eCommerce buying trends, while building for the future?

  1. Invest in digital technologies that enhance the Omni-Channel experience whether in-store, online or anytime. For example, consider tools that enable online chats and video merchandising to help describe and demonstrate how an item looks or works.  Curated content, suggested buys & upsell, on-line shelves and eCarts are varied components of an engaging on-line shopping experience. Walmart recently announced making a move to marry the retailer’s online and mobile assets with its 11,500 stores worldwide..  According to Fortune Magazine, “Walmart said it was merging to the two divisions to create a new unit called ‘Walmart Technology.’ Walmart pointed to the recent launch of its Walmart Pay mobile payment service as an example of the kind of collaboration between the teams that it hopes the merger will spur.”
  1. Offer a convenient shopping experience that responds to the consumer path to purchase. One-stop-shopping convenience is no longer about selling everything from a single supercenter or website. It’s more profitably targeted at giving a seamless Omni-Channel experience to shoppers who are budgeting for both time and money. Consider retailers that are offering services that combine their in-store and digital capabilities, for example ‘click-to-curb’ for groceries, ‘site to store’ at mass retailers or virtual dressing rooms for apparel.
  1. Content, content, content…did we mention Content?

We encourage retailers to focus on enhanced content and content distribution strategies to provide differentiated levels of product information for customers and consumers.  As research indicates, rich content, more content and trusted content will make a consumer click BUY NOW and continue as a repeat customer online and in-store.  Conversely, if a consumer cannot see a picture of the product they want to buy…they go elsewhere, and likely never return.

What sets a seller of goods apart from competition is their ability to give the buyer what they want, how they want, where they want it, when they want it.  Omni-Channel is not a trend – it is a full-fledged way of commerce and consumerism: yesterday, today and tomorrow.