Digital Customer Experience, and the Curation of it All

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Author: Maggie Walsh

Aesthetics and ease are the two most important components of the digital customer experience (DCX). Websites aren’t just selling product anymore. They’re selling experiences. Customers want to enter a digital world and feel like they belong, or that they aspire to belong. And they want it to be simple and pain-free. The companies that prioritize these ideals create a winning DCX, and ultimately, customer retention.

Companies like Glossier and Bando have a vibe that makes their customers feel like part of a lifestyle.  The photos are curated and interesting, product descriptions are pithy, and graphics add to the overall feel of the company - all of it elevating the DCX. In online retailing especially, the product can’t speak for itself the same way it can in a brick-and-mortar retail store. The website has to assist in telling the product story to make customers buy into the products, and by extension, the brand.

Aesthetics include not only beautiful product and graphics, but quality. Quality of a website enhances the DCX, making the customer feel comfortable entering their personal and financial information. Professional and secure websites are instrumental in gaining a customer’s trust and loyalty.

Of course, there are always exceptions to any rule. Amazon, the online giant no one can slay, has arguably the worst aesthetic of any online retail superpower. What they have done right is make it so easy to shop, it’s sincerely hard for any customer not to. Amazon Prime, recommended/related items, and Alexa have created a user-friendly online eco-system that keeps a customer enmeshed in the Amazon of it all. One-click purchase and high page loading speed prevents frustrated customers from abandoning their cart. A January 2018 article on Inc.com proves the importance of technical ease, “just a 1-second delay in load time can hurt (purchase) conversion rates by 7 percent.” Amazon has made it a priority to make the journey from product search to order confirmation a frictionless process. What Amazon lacks in beauty, it makes up tenfold in utility.

DCX extends to all digital platforms – including social media presence and mobile friendliness. Customers are increasingly online shopping from the comfort of their phones.  A difficult experience during a mobile session is a surefire way to lose a customer. If your website isn’t easy to navigate, the customer will find one that is. Websites have to translate their aesthetic to social media in a way that makes sense for the brand, while creating interesting content that customers want to see beyond product placement.

There aren’t a lot of subjects I consider myself an expert in, but online shopping is one of them. While waiting in line at Starbucks, I’m just as likely to be browsing dresses on Shopbop as I am to be scrolling through Instagram. The sites and brands I return to again and again are the sites that are fun to look through and easy to navigate. They feel most adjacent to walking into one of my favorite stores. That is the winning formula for DCX.

 

 

 

 

 

Endangered List:  Chief Digital Officer

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Author: Maggie Walsh

When it comes to C-Suite positions, executives can generally count on the staying power of their position. Most companies will always need a CEO, a CFO, and a CMO. But what about the relatively new Chief Digital Officer (CDO)? Can they count on a tenured spot within the company? The strategy for most CDO positions is a relatively short-term one. Companies expect a CDO to come on board, right the digital ship, and then move those maintenance and update responsibilities to parallel executives, like marketing, technology or information.

A November 2017 study predicted that the CDO will be phased out of most companies by 2025 (gartner.com). That feels counter-intuitive, given how digital-driven life has become in 2018. The reason for the disappearing CDO is twofold. One, a lot of the responsibilities that belong to the CDO are duplicates. Two, the main goal for the CDO is to take a company who is behind in their digital strategy and bring them up to speed. Luxury fashion, for example, is an industry that is notoriously behind the technological times. Luxury has felt somewhat exempt from the digital revolution for all these years. However, they are finally realizing they can no longer hold out, and are modernizing their strategies with the help of CDOs.

In a study conducted by PwC, only 19% of organizations reported having a CDO in 2016, and 60% of those CDOs were appointed between 2015 and 2016 (pwc.com). What seems like such a vital piece of a company’s overall health appears to be in the hands of, essentially, temporary employees. The CDO comes in when the digital situation is dire, and they improve the internal and external digital user experience, and move on - acting as digital “fixers”. The CDO of Shiseido succinctly described the purpose of the CDO to Glossy.com, saying, “CDOs are temporary. We are here to inject a new way of working, one that is about ongoing experimentation, trial and error, fail forward, push forward . . . We can be successful in this job if we are out as fast as possible.”

CDOs face the exciting challenge of reviving a company’s digital scope, while maintaining its original DNA. While this can be difficult, it is a high risk/high reward situation - especially in retail, where revamped web sites historically produce a stronger revenue stream, an easy measure of success. Getting there can be difficult, as CDOs often aren’t given their own team, but rely on various marketing or tech employees for strategy execution.

Why do CDOs only exist in a short burst? Why don’t companies want to continue to evolve their digital footprint and experience even after tech mistakes have been corrected? Isn’t there room for a CDO as the importance of user experience, systems, and a company’s digital face continues to grow with the technology available? In order to continue to NOT have a digital problem, it feels essential for companies to keep a CDO who will continue to grow the digital side of the business. I guess we’ll have to wait until 2025 to get the answer to that question.

 

 

Anything to make that online business run.

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Technology, ecommerce and all things digital. Anything to make that online business run. We’ve launched a new series focusing on three key themes that surround our industry network and the clients we serve. The future of retail, technology we (can) leverage and the impact on talent acquisition. 

Retail & Consumers

  • Why do consumers make the purchases they do?
  • How do we understand consumer expectations?
  • The new challenges with digital advertising and digital customer engagement.

Technology 

  • What are the implications of 3D printing?
  • Understanding AI and what does it mean?
  • Virtual changing rooms the solution to online returns?
  • What’s the best way to use videos in digital marketing?

Talent Perspective 

  • What is the role of digital executives and what challenges do they face today and in the future?
  • Technology decisions in leadership. The need for an overall understanding of opportunities that impact decisions across the entire business. Can we solve the internal feuding of retail and ecommerce teams?
  • The search for talent; experienced and can hit the ground running. How to find and attract digital and ecommerce talent.

We certainly don’t claim to have all the answers. Curiosity often seeks discussion and a range of view points. We hope you’ll join the conversation. 

Artificial Intelligence in Online Shopping

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Author: Maggie Walsh

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is making its way into the lives and homes of modern consumers. And for good reason - the personalization that comes with increased data collection pays off for the retailer and the customer. Just look at the Echo’s effect on Amazon for proof. 20 million Amazon Echoes were sold in 2017. Echo owners spend 50% of their total online dollars on Amazon after purchasing an Echo, and increase their Amazon spending by 10% after purchasing an Echo (source: NPD Group Study). It’s a win/win. The customer gets a better experience, and the retailer gets loyalty and more comprehensive customer information.

AI is a fix for inherent online shopping issues in categories that require a more personalized fit - such as makeup or jeans. AI can be the difference between an abandoned cart and a click to purchase that the customer needs to get off the fence. Rugsusa.com has a feature where the customer can upload a photo of the room they are buying the rug for, and can test out any number of rugs in the space via photo. This feature can create confidence for an online shopper who feels uneasy making such a purchase without seeing the item first.

Everyone talks about Amazon, and how they are changing the retail landscape, consumer buying patterns, and their effect on brick-and-mortar. But because of these challenges, the winners in this economy are the brands/websites/retailers that differentiate themselves and provide customers with a personal experience in some way. This explains the success of subscription services. You can go into a subscription service and input your preferences and taste, and you will be provided a curated set of items sent to you. Some of this work is being done by actual stylists, but companies are becoming more tech savvy and creating algorithms to generate products based on your data. Something as simple as being able to choose from a range of colors or patterns make the buyer feel like they have a voice.

As technology continues to advance, so do the customer’s expectations. We expect ship times to be shorter, and for the things we buy online to work just as well as the items we buy in person. Try-before-you-buy has been a profitable business model for companies like Third Love, or Warby Parker, who sends each customer multiple options to try on at home before deciding which they want to keep. All of these examples point to a more confident and personalized experience for the customer. The biggest hesitancy in online shopping is the dread of receiving an item that doesn’t work for a litany of reasons. AI can help bridge that gap between online and in-person.

There was a time where people thought the internet was a fad, and wouldn’t compromise the newspaper, or music industries. The companies who adapt with the times and technology are the ones that will succeed. What is now a special feature, will be expected in the future – which is what will become of AI technology and the online shopping experience, in my opinion. I, for one, can’t wait until AI advances enough that I can skip the dreaded swimsuit try-on experience and buy one online that fits me perfectly.

 

Industry Leaders Have Tried Personalized Pricing, Does It Work?

As long as there has been commerce, there has been personalized pricing. A merchant would watch how a customer moved, looked at a product and how that person dressed to determine if offering a different price might secure a sale. It was not unusual that a merchant approach a customer who clearly wants to buy something and say "for you, the price is $15" and guarantee a sale.

Such personalized pricing in physical stores could only go in one direction - down. Now, with many businesses offering products and services online, software exists that makes personalized pricing easier and gives it the ability to take personalized prices higher as well as lower. The acceptance of such pricing is split, however. Merchants see it as a possible way to increase their bottom line but customers are hesitant.

Merchants that have tried personalized prices have run into consumer resistance. One of the main reasons consumers are concerned is that they feel there is an invasion of privacy involved in obtaining the information used to offer pricing personalized for them. Most of the information used is from previous sales if the consumer is a previous customer of the site but people feel it is unacceptable to use such personal information to direct marketing specifically at them.

Other information used may be cookies from previous visits and IP addresses. Amazon and a few other online retailers have found that some regular customers have discovered they will see different pricing after deleting cookies or browsing anonymously. They are particularly upset when the price they see as a regular customer and logged into their accounts is higher than the price they see for the same product when they view the site as an anonymous visitor. This price they see as a regular customer is what is often known as a "reservation price". This is a price that is just below the price that would cause a person to have reservations about buying that product. The fashion industry is particularly interested in how this type of pricing could benefit them.

Though women love to get a bargain on their fashion purchases, doing so on sites that use data mined from previous visits is unsettling for them. Sites selling fashions that have used personalized pricing software may find it has backfired on them and cost sales rather than increased sales. Some companies that, like Amazon, offered regular customers items at slightly higher prices than anonymous visitors, they have had to reimburse customers the difference between the price paid and the price offered non-regular customers.

Online fashion houses and boutiques are interested in using personalized pricing in a manner that lets them offer items to a wider range of customers while leaving them feeling their privacy is still secure and they are getting a good price on the items they purchase.

Some retailers are considering the use of software from companies such as Blue Yonder and Dunnhumby that uses a pricing method known as "dynamic pricing". This is a method of merchandise pricing that changes over time based on such things as inventory, prices offered by competitors and consumer demand. Though this type of pricing works quite well for travel sites, it may also do well for fashion sites since what may be at the top in fashion now might not have a high demand next week. This solution keeps pricing appropriate while not leaving customers feeling violated.

 

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Photo: Etsy

How To Reach More Customers Through Mobile Commerce

Ecommerce designs are now dependent on mobility. The mobile commerce experience is given much emphasis, especially when it comes to getting more customers. Most consumers demand more from online businesses while they are on the go. That is why retailers should focus on reaching out to mobile customers.

Mobile commerce is seen as an opportunity to show more and sell more of your products. It is the best way to reach out to more potential buyers. If you want to provide an excellent mobile experience to your site’s guests, then you should be prepared to make the necessary changes. If you already have the mobile commerce strategy, next thing you should do is find out the trends that influence or affect that strategy.

1. SEO

Your local SEO is locked in on giving results to users or guests, depending on their location. Most people are always on the go, so expect mobile inquiries and logins in your website. They often use their phones in searching for any information they need. If your guest searches for the nearest boutique in the area and your store happens to be close, then you may show up at the top of the search.

2. Near Field Communications (NFC) and Beacons

NFC and beacons are transmitters, capable of delivering targeted information to any mobile user. As long as they have the enabled app and they are near the transmitter, they are sure to get the personalized messages. iBeacon has been introduced by Apple as their version of a beacon. This is installed in their stores. With it, the customers are happily greeted as they enter the Apple store. At the same time, they receive promotions and product information. They can also pay without even getting in line anymore.

Beacons allow retailers to deliver targeted messages to their clients. They are brilliant bridges from online to offline stores.

3. Barcodes

You can scan barcodes with your own camera. Items inside the home can be scanned and then added to the shopping basket.

4. Mobile payment methods

Offline payments such as cash and checks are starting to become obsolete. Mobile payment methods via mobile devices are quick and convenient. With just a few clicks, your customers can pay for that outfit or pair of earrings in a few seconds, while they’re waiting for their blended coffee drink at the mall.

5. Mobile responsive emails

Many brands are now ensuring that their promotional emails can be seen through small smart phone screens. If your website can load quickly in smart phones, then you are sure to haul in more profit.

6. 4G connection

Fast Internet connectivity also affects mobile commerce because mobile consumers expect your page to load faster than on their desktop computers.

7. Aversion to Apps

Mobile consumers would rather go to your business site to order that dress than download an app to get it. Connectivity is made stronger by smart phones and other mobile devices. Apps are beginning to die off.

8. Innovative and simple design of mobile sites If you want a responsive smart phone version of your fashion website, make it simple. Remove all the fluff that you have in your desktop version. The simpler interface allows faster page loading. It does not divert the page or show errors to customers or guests. A company can always count on mobile commerce in getting more conversion.

 

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Photo: Equals Creative

Boost Profits With This Mobile-Commerce Strategy

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The explosion of mobile innovations has paved a smooth pathway for fashion brands to reach more consumers. It is apparent that most people use their mobile gadgets in browsing and even in handling their business. Suddenly, mobile connectivity is the superhighway of communication and purchasing. Since the majority of consumers have mobile devices, the best way for businesses to reach their customers is through mobile commerce. How can you successfully develop and implement a mobile-commerce strategy? Here’s how:

1.     Use a responsive, smart phone only design.

Most consumers only have smart phones with them. A smart phone’s screen format is different from that of a tablet or a desktop. The tablet and desktop screen formats are similar. Smart phone screen formats are entirely different. This is why you will be able to reach more consumers if your site has a responsive, smart phone design. It should be responsive, despite the small screen. Both consumers and retailers benefit from the responsiveness of the smart phone only design.

2.     Integrate social log in.

If you want to reach more consumers with just one person, integrate a social network log in option to your apps. It is convenient for mobile customers to opt for the mobile log in because they do not have to enter their information anymore. The retailers can obtain the necessary information they need from that one social login. A huge 77% of consumers prefer this. Social logins also boosts conversions up to 50%. Since smart phones have small screens and touch pads, it lessens the customer’s frustration in typing information.

3.     Use Paypal mobile express checkout.

Mobile shoppers want everything as fast as they can get it. They want to be done with the payment methods in just a few clicks. This is where the PayPal express checkout comes in handy. If your customer wants to buy that dress or handbag immediately, it is always a plus if you offer the express checkout option before they pay.

4.     Optimize mobile page load speeds.

All mobile users have slow Internet connections, but they expect your site to load more quickly on their smart phones than on their desktops. The loading of your site’s page is influenced by the Java Script tags, the size of your images and the sophisticated interface that you use. If you want to have a faster page loading experience for your customers, keep your site simple.

5.     Optimize your emails for mobile opens.

Focus on the increased engagement of your customers and not the conversions.

6.     Use predictive searches (autosuggest).

Looking for something in your site is easier when you use predictive searches. When your customer wants to search for a specific type of dress or shoe, it is more convenient for them to skip typing the entire word in the search box. Autosuggest tools enable conversions to increase for your site.

7.     Optimize your content for gestures.

You site should allow customers to zoom in on your products or other site information.

8.     Autofill wherever possible.

This feature streamlines payment methods because the customer does not have to type in information repeatedly anymore.

9.     Make sure your mobile site can handle desktop links.

See to it that the pathway of smooth for your customers. You cannot afford flashing a 404 or redirects. These disrupt the overall experience of your customers.

10.   Make your desktop site available for smart phone and tablet users.

When your site works on a desktop, make sure it also works on mobile devices.

Mobile commerce is an opportunity and is fast becoming the brand new standard in providing content for consumers. The expectations of mobile consumers differ from those of desktop or offline ones. They are always on the move and when they purchase something, they want excellent service. This gives business owners, including those who are in the fashion niche, a dilemma. If you are willing to make the necessary changes to your site, then be prepared for more customers and more profit.

 

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Photo: Unsplash

How These eCommerce Leaders Disrupted The Market

The internet is most famous for changing the way that we are entertained, and the way in which we communicate. What the internet has also done, is change the way in which we consume and do business. The rise of ecommerce has seen companies expand rapidly in sales and financial turnover. Amazon is a prime example. This leading ecommerce retailer is worth over $90 billion, trades stocks at over $420 per share, and has a market capitalization of over $197 billion. Although Amazon deals in fashion, they’re not primarily a fashion business. With such a successful example, how do the ecommerce leaders in the fashion world stack up?

Many don’t realize that ecommerce has its roots in the Electronic Data Exchange (EDI) and Value Added Network (VAN) technologies that were introduced almost half a century ago. Since that time, ecommerce has made leaps and bounds when it comes to innovation and technology. What many consider ecommerce today began in 1995 when Amazon first started as an online bookstore. Since then, hundreds of companies have introduced online store fronts where consumers can browse and purchase goods from their home, or anywhere that they have an internet connection.

ShoeDazzle, although a relative newcomer to ecommerce, quickly asserted itself as one of the leaders in online fashion retail. Unlike most online sites, ShoeDazzle attempted to recreate the high end shopping experience that shoppers would find in real boutiques. The site offered a VIP membership program which asked users for a $39.99 subscription fee. This fee gave users an expertly curated and reviewed selection of designer footwear. Even with the fee, the site was a huge success. By 2011 the startup had secured over $60 million in investment, and by 2012 the site had over 13 million members.

Farfetch is another leader in fashion ecommerce. Earlier this year the company became one of the newest fashion ‘Unicorns’, having exceeded a market valuation of over $1 billion. Like ShoeDazzle, Farfetch is a site that focusses on boutique fashion brands. They use their online store to sell products from over 300 partner boutiques. The New York Times reported in 2013 that the average Farfetch customer spends $680 per order, which is in stark difference to the majority of online retailers that deal in relatively small transactions. Farfetch is also a leader in the way that they choose unique fashion designers and brands to promote. They have helped grow brands from countries like Brazil, and even independent brands from established economies like the United Kingdom. The advantage for these small boutiques working with Farfetch is that they can reach a global network of customers that might otherwise have never engaged with their brands. Independent designers and fashion companies generate an average of 30% of their sales through Farfetch.

A 2013 report from eMarketer found that over 17% of all ecommerce sales are fashion related. This is the leading segment, followed closely by foods and beverages. There’s no doubt that there’s still room for businesses to disrupt the fashion industry by tapping new areas of the online market. As Farfetch and ShoeDazzle have shown, it only takes a unique approach and a compelling service to bring tens of millions of consumers on board. With ecommerce being the fastest growing area of retail, it’s likely that we will see new names and innovative services become commonplace over the next decade.

 

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Take Advantage of The Digital Boom With These eCommerce Solutions

Best Practices and Solutions for Ecommerce Executives in the Fashion Industry

Apparel and Footwear sales are experiencing a tremendous boost through online transactions. Ecommerce executives in the fashion industry need to take stock of how they can claim a share of this boom for their companies. Here are three of the best practices and solutions that can help them take advantage of this positive trend.

(1)  Optimal Use of Social Media

There is no denying that social networking has contributed to changing the retail landscape. Social networking sites have made it easier for consumers to browse through buying options and do the necessary product research. Through sites like Instagram, FaceBook and Twitter, consumers are able to stay in tune with the trends for their age group and social circle. They are able to compare prices, connect with popular designers, and validate their choices.

Leaders in the ecommerce sector of the fashion industry need to focus on harvesting this minefield of opinion for their products. Even big name brands with brick and mortar outlets have taken to creating their own FB pages where visitors can leave comments. Some companies even go as far as assigning a social team to create a flurry of responses through a variety of sites, including Instagram.

(2)  Brand Personality

A product’s brand will is vital to establishing its market. Therefore, leaders and decision makers in the ecommerce fashion industry must invest in creating a brand that their market can relate to. Brands will generate product loyalty if these succeed in convincing consumers that the product will meet their needs. However, this all begins with catching the consumers’ attention; this happens when a brand is imbued with personality, the clear and indefinable “oomph” that makes a brand stand out.

The ecommerce executive must lead in crafting a brand that will consistently exhibit the traits that make a product different from the rest. This brand must also target the market that the product aims attract.

Some experts believe that consumers tend to choose brands that reverberate with their own personality type. Predictably, the sophisticate will gravitate towards a suave and cultured brand, the practical buyer will seek a brand that guarantees quality and utility, while the adventurer will go for a brand that spells excitement.

(3) Easy Access Across Devices

The e-commerce fashion industry needs to maximize the use of mobile phones and tablets as sales channel.  According to Michael Zargosek, Apple’s former Director of Marketing Communications and expert on interactive marketing, a basic rule to remember is keeping things simple. As a rule, when the process is too complex or time consuming, prospective buyers can click away – even when they would have wanted to buy the product.

If executives in the ecommerce sector of the fashion industry want to make use of all selling opportunities, they need to grab a hold of the most efficient mobile sales tools.

 

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Photo: 99 Robots

Achieving Customer Satisfaction In Omni-Channel Retailing

In the U.S. today, the web influences slightly more than 50% of all the retail purchases made. That number is expected to rise to 60% in the next two years.  This digital revolution has brought about a commerce revolution and traditional brick and mortar stores must evolve with the changes in order to stay afloat. The ways in which consumers shop are changing and in order to compete, retailers must create a seamless experience between their online and physical stores. While this may be a challenge, it also offers huge opportunities for increased sales due to the many available channels through which customers can be reached. The very channels that allow multi- channel commerce ( or Omni-channel commerce as it is often called),  and present these opportunities, also create a new set of challenges for the retailer.

Consumer Expectations

Consumer expectation is higher than ever. Particularly when it comes to millennials, they want instant gratification in both advertising as well as the shopping experience. In a fast paced, digital society, time is of the essence to the consumer. They want to be able to purchase what they want, when they want it, and on any type of device.

Changes in Technology

There are a huge number of apps being developed for online shopping, but it seems that keeping up with them is nearly impossible. What's shiny and new today may be obsolete by tomorrow. Finding technology that works well for your business is imperative to success.

Global Competition

While having an online presence means that you reach more potential customers, it also means that you are experiencing an entirely new field of competition. Globalization is a reality and distinguishing yourself from the competition is a must. You are now competing not only with the shop down the street, but with those around the globe.

Retailers must take all of these things into consideration when creating a seamless shopping experience. They must also play on the advantages of their physical stores. What can customers get from a physical store that they can’t get online? Superior, one on one, customer service. Combining the online browsing experience with the customer service available in a physical store is one of the most important things a retailer can do. It’s gratifying to a consumer to know that the pair of boots that they just viewed online is at a store just a few miles away. In that way, your online presence can boost sales tremendously. While it is nearly impossible for every store to stock all of the items that are available online, knowing which products are most popular and making them available in your stores is the perfect place to start.

In addition, your online and physical stores should have a similar look and feel. Creating these consistencies between your physical spaces and your online channels is very important. To consumers, your brand is viewed as a whole and it should be presented that way. Your store’s visuals should be updated as frequently as your other channels in order to produce a cohesive shopping experience between online and brick and mortar stores.

Use your online channels to further personalize the customer service in your physical stores. It is inherent to humans to want a personal experience that is completely tailored to the individual. Online stores access customer records, including browsing and purchase history. With this information, they know the likes, wants, and needs, of the customer and can personalize that customer’s interactions based on those criteria. The site uses shopping and browsing history to provide recommendations that are tailor made to each customer.

The logical step is for retailers to use that data that already exists online to bring that personalized experience that customers get online, into their stores. The key is using technology that enables you to identify customers who shop in your store. This can be done by using a customer’s email address, a loyalty card number, or even a telephone number, allowing you to access not only the purchases made in physical stores, but online as well. In order to do this however, sales associates must be given the technology to enable them to access customer data easily. This, in turn, personalizes the shopping experience even further and allows associates to make reference to it and even suggest things that the customer might be interested in. For example, with purchase history data, an associate might suggest a pair of shoes that would complement a recently purchased outfit or handbag.

The digital age has brought about many changes to retailers, but if you adapt with the changes, your business will thrive as it never has before. Taking all of the information available about your customers allows you to put them at the center of your business and give them the seamless, personalized shopping experience that they are looking for.

 

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Photo: BoF

eCommerce Questions and Answers

If you’ve purchased an item online, there’s a good chance you believe you have experienced the future direction of shopping. While digital commerce is certainly a part of the future of shopping, this doesn’t really scratch the surface. To help you gain some additional insight, here are a few questions and answers on this topic.

Question: Which Brands Have Digital Commerce Down to a Science?

Answer: The truth is, several brands are handling different segments of digital commerce well. As of now, no single entity has mastered the art. Although,  more are working towards a seamless customer experience where customers are having an exceptional experience.

Question: Realistically, What Elements are the Most Important for a Major Company to Have Success in Digital Commerce?

Answer: The entire digital commerce landscape goes beyond just one element. It begins with a major brand coming in and opening the doors for others. This brand then brings in social channels and builds a powerful platform that brings customers to it.  The consumer than can view products, differentiate between several options and review the content in a single location.

Question: Are Traditional Retailers Out of Luck with digital Commerce, Or Can They Use it To Boost Sales?

Answer: Yes, a brick and mortar company can find success in a digital landscape. To do this, they do need to drive online traffic to their website and reach out beyond their local market. Doing this requires having exceptional SEO skills and some kind of brand leverage. You may also want to include things like PPC advertising and ads on social media.

Question: How Can Physical Retailers Adapt to the Changing Shopping Landscape?

Answer: Online retailers don’t want you to know this, but the truth is most purchases still happen in a physical store. More brick and mortar locations are not only presenting their inventory in a better manner, but they are choosing to be more experimental with what they have in stock. Physical locations have an advantage, because provide instant gratification to a customer, who doesn’t have to wait a long period of time to obtain an item. They also aren’t faced with shipping fees either built into the price of an item for “free shipping” or on top of the low prices that are listed.

Question: Should I Turn to Amazon to Sell My Fashion Products Online?

Answer: If you are an established company, no. While Amazon is a great place to sell your products, there is a downside to using them. First, you lose some of the margin you would make off an item. Secondly, you end up losing valuable customer data.

Question: What Role Will Brick and Mortar Stores Play In the Future of Shopping

Answer: Realistically, your physical retail locations aren’t going anywhere. While the number of major brand stores like JC Penny’s, Macy’s and similar locations might dwindle to offset costs, there will always be a physical location open for consumers to go to. After all, if you need a dress in two hours for a major interview or event, you can’t order from somewhere like Amazon and still make it to the event on time. Keep that in mind, the next time someone tells you that digital sales will doom traditional shopping.

 

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Increase Your Conversion Rates With This One Tactic

TURNING FASHION WEBSITE VISITORS INTO CUSTOMERS

Sometimes, an innocent window shopper can turn into an unexpected buyer. This phenomenon is common in retail stores. Fashion somehow has a strong influence in those who just came to “check out” some things at a store. The same thing can happen when you visit online retailers. One moment you are just browsing. The next thing you know, you are in the checkout page, entering your payment information. How does this happen? How does a fashion retailer transform an unsuspecting site visitor into a customer?

Every online business has techniques to attract customers. The most effective ones know their visitors well enough to come up with creative promos. These present their visitors, certain incentives whenever they purchase something from the site. Targeted offers give your website visitors the power to make their purchases more worth their time and money. As a result, more customers funnel into your site. Once they decide that your products are of great value for their money, they end up waltzing their way to your checkout page.

How do you materialize this kind of dream stream of activity in your fashion site? Read on and find out!

Section your site visitors

When you manage an online retailer, it is important for you to cater to your clients’ diverse needs. This can be a challenge, since you cannot conduct a one-on-one conversation to each of hundreds or even thousands of visitors. It becomes more daunting when your visitors increase exponentially. Sectioning comes in handy in solving this dilemma.

Fashion site visitors can very well be at the top of the funnel or at the bottom of the funnel. All you have to do is to study and determine the purchasing behavior of your visitors. Those at the bottom of the purchase funnel are just waiting for something to fall into the checkout page. If you come up with a smart promotion, then you can have more purchases every single day.

Sectioning your fashion site visitors involves grouping together those who are like-minded. These visitors behave similarly. You van base your groupings on many factors, such as those who have just visited the site, those who have already made successful purchases, or those who keep on visiting a certain page. Take note that customers who have bought something before can buy something again.

Acting on sectioning

Once you have grouped your visitors, create tailored messaging to target each group. The special messages have to make sense to the groups of visitors that you have. Take note that messages for new visitors should be different from messages for guests who have bought something before. Sectioning your site visitors does not always get many quick interactions, yet you know you are bringing them lower into that purchase funnel. Sending emails with promo codes or price cut-off announcements can turn visitors into conversion. If you manage to release the correct message at the right time, you gain more profit.

 

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What Customization Means For The Future of Retail

There’s an old cliché, the shirt makes the man. In the right dress shirt, a man can appear sophisticated, successful, and even wealthy. That is especially when the shirt is perfectly tailored and designed for them. So if you pulled a homeless man off the street washed them up and put them in the same shirt, would anyone know the truth?

Chances are, they wouldn’t. With that in mind, how does the philosophy of a dress shirt apply to the future of retail? In this case, think of it as a way to present yourself in a fashion that delivers results. Today, you have hundreds of companies who specialize in different areas who are vying for your business. When you make a decision on the company you go with, who do you choose? Chances are, it isn’t the one with the best price or the highest quality. It is the one who presents themselves in a manner that is appealing and lets you believe their claim they are the best, even if it is just a perception.

Now, say you are looking for a dress shirt and you found a company that will customize the same shirt for you. They take your measurements online, tailor it and send it directly to your home for an affordable price. With this shirt, you don’t have to worry about sleeves that are too long, a collar that’s too tight or a length that is too long. It is perfectly crafted to fit you so that you look your best.

Companies like Trumaker do that. The brainchild of Michael Zhang and Mark Lovas, the company is focused on getting the best fitting shirt on your body. This is also done with information the user inputs into the system and an algorithm helps to create the best design options for the individual. The individual then chooses what they want and the plans are sent to a shirt maker who uses the pattern to create the shirts. This customization allows a person to have more of a say in the product they receive and to look polished in a one of a kind shirt.

More importantly, there is almost no overhead for the Trumaker team. They outsource the shirts to Malaysia to make and only have to produce the patterns they want created. This is similar to the approach Dell took to making computers in the 90s and early 2000s. At this time, they had a small inventory and built computers based on the specifications a customer needed. They could then charge a premium price customers were willing to pay, since the system was handcrafted to their needs.

The company also experiences another benefit. There are no leftover designs and styles that need to be reduced to cover their associated costs. That also means no patterns or sales are required and no staff necessary to handle the bulk of the transaction, since the computer is able to automate almost the entire process.

Today, more companies are going to this highly customized development concept. Where startup is inexpensive and customers get an exceptional product for a fraction of the price. In fact, most customers find they get a better deal when compared to purchasing manufactured items. The reason is the reduced overhead allows higher quality upgrades to be offered for a fraction of the cost. In the case of the shirt, buttons can be upgraded, as can fabric and even embroider for considerably less than it costs to pick up a premium shirt in a store with costly overhead.

What this means is the future of retail needs to look beyond having one size fit all stock. Instead, they should reduce their inventory and allow for on the spot customization that allows for individuality and significant savings for the company.

 

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Will eCommerce Be Luxury's Undoing?

Will eCommerce Be Luxury's Undoing?

Prada is one of the many luxury brands that still do not totally embrace ecommerce for selling their merchandise now that Yoox and Net-a-Porter are merging their online fashion stores. Companies that hesitate with online marketing include well-known brands like LVMH's Christian Dior, Prada, Chanel, Hermes, and LVMH's Louis Vuitton. Why are these brands so reluctant to make use of the Internet when other retailers sell millions of dollars’ worth of goods online?

Create A Unique Shopping Experience With This Software

Software API and the Usability of the System

A problem companies have when they look at Omni-Channel software, is that the API system doesn’t meet their needs. Frequently, companies prevent you from effectively using this software, in order to have you buy directly from them and pay them to make the software useable for you. A true Omni-Channel industry leader is someone who worries more about delivering a product that works for you.

API is the application programing interface. For this portion of the software, you need it to do a few things for your online business. First, the software should effectively use the internet and browser features to create the best online buying experience for your customers. Secondly, it should maximize the use of SOAP and REST to effectively run your website.

The next area the software should excel in is architecture. The system should include a database that is easy to navigate and it should allow for information to appear on the screen.

Customization then ties into that. Ideally, the best software is one that allows you to fully customize it. It should allow businesses to create a shopping experience that is unique to them and their brand. All of this should be achievable without having to add any additional code to the software in the process. After all, software should be ready to go for your company from the start.

Multi-Channel leadership is a must. In 2015 and beyond, this is vital for the success of an online business. If any program doesn’t offer this to you as a customer, begin looking at other options that are available. Most exceptional programs will advertise this feature and go through how flexible they are in terms of options. That is something to look for when you are considering the software as a possibility.

Finally, it is important to ensure there is an ecosystem in place that delivers. You want something that allows you to choose from a number of add ons that can seamlessly integrate and benefit your business.

To help you get started, here are a few products you can consider. Keep in mind that this is only a tiny sample of the options you have available to you:

•    Lightspeed •    Microsoft RMS •    Netsuite

Omni-Channel software will continue to evolve. While there was a time when the best you could find was a batch system that updated to a central hub on occasion, massive advances have been made since then. Today you will find software that updates in real time, and that allows you to better track inventory and improve the experience of your customers.

 

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The New Innovations Making Department Stores Irrelevant

Will traditional department stores as we know them become irrelevant to the fashion world? The founders of some fashion startups say that it is becoming easier than ever to take fashion brands directly to the consumer. This can be done with business models, such as subscription, as well as with various mobile apps that consumers can keep up to date on the latest trends.

Rent the Runway has opened the door to new shopping experiences for customers. One of the ways is subscribing to receive items monthly. Chief executive and co-founder of Rent the Runway, Jennifer Hyman states that “A huge part of our business is subscription.”  Though the subscription service was launched just last year, the company has been in business since 2009 and has nearly 5 million customers.

Companies are also combining the use of physical stores with their online and subscription models to help reach customers directly with new brands. This effectively negates the necessity of sharing margins with multi-brand stores or malls. Rent the Runway, which has multiple physical stores, is just one example of this strategy. The stores were opened after the launch of the e-commerce platform and witnessing the success of physical stores launched by other brands such as Warby Parker with the eyeglass startup.

Subscription companies like Birchbox, with its beauty items, Netflix, for movies, and ClassPass, for workouts, have paved the way for consumers to embrace new ways to buy things and new ways to have them delivered. The innovative new mobile app Spring gives vast numbers of fashion brands the opportunity to display, as well as sell, their products within the app. With the development of these, as well as other innovative methods, startup founders maintain that multi-brand retailers are becoming less of a necessity than in the past.

Previously, one aspect that made department stores necessary was the exposure that they gave to new brands. In the technologically connected society of today, the exposure that they once offered has become less relevant to sales. A large portion of new product discoveries are now being made via Pinterest for women and Instagram rather than in stores and malls. These social media platforms serve as virtual catalogues and virtual malls for women around the world today.

Similarly, the Spring mobile app aids consumers in the discovery of products from a multitude of brands. In addition to discovering these items, the brands themselves manage not only the shopping experience, but the packaging as well as shipment of their products. This is something that isn’t possible with department stores.

Chief executive and co-founder of Stowaway Cosmetics, Julie Frederickson, believes that these new models are bringing about the “end of wholesale.” By being enabled to directly reach consumers, new companies are able to avoid the inefficiencies inherent to the wholesale fashion business. Ms. Frederickson went so far as to say that if a company such as Sephora offered to distribute her cosmetics she wouldn’t hesitate to reject the offer.

Will traditional department stores become irrelevant? Probably not in the near future, but with the age of technology in full swing, consumers have more choices than ever before when it comes to how and where they shop.

 

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Consider This Before Investing In Digital Fitting Rooms

Consider This Before Investing In Digital Fitting Rooms

In the world of fashion it is common to see retailers get caught up in the hype caused by the most recent digital trend. While these trendy new toys have their place, the focus placed on them often causes retailers to fail to deliver the user experiences and content that the consumers really want.

The Guide To Selecting The Best Omni-Channel Software

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When buying Omni-channel software, you’re presented with a number of factors to consider. In order to find the software that is right for you, it is important to understand that not all software is designed with the user in mind. In a way, it is similar to the barcode boom of the 1970s.

At the time, there were different presentations of barcodes on the market. Each was marketed at the retailer with a claim that it was the best choice possible. To cash in on the barcodes, companies began to manufacture registers designed for each barcode, in the hopes of speeding up the checkout process. But these early barcode machines didn't have any other benefit to the stores they were used in. It wasn’t until the UCC128 barcode (Target, Wal-Mart and others use this today), that the full power of the barcode was found.

Ecommerce software is very similar in the sense they do simple things for the customer, but don't handle all their needs.  Most of them fall short of what they can offer to you and your customers. Some might not have a way to review the full order history of a client. Another may prevent you from applying payments to invoices in an effective manner. Another might give you both of these but feature an ineffective layout. As technology advances, we need to make it a point to find one that does all of this and helps you to move products. Ideally, the software will contain options like:

  • Active media the customer can interact with (such as video)
  • Customer experience management
  • Endless digital aisles
  • Real time inventory status
  • Supply chain integration

Based on your company size, you may need additional features that can help you. It is important that you have a list of the essentials of any software and determine whether or not it will actually meet your needs.

One way is to evaluate the system with certain ideas in mind. To begin with, think about what requirements you have for the system. This includes the following:

  • Does it give all users the best direct experience possible?
  • Is there a section which allows for users to post their reviews?
  • Are forums provided in the software so customers can discuss and debate the products in greater detail?
  • Can partners come in and provide testimonials which help customers to make further informed buying decisions?
  • Will the system allow you and customers to further add media to the display, in order to help you further sell a product?

With this, it is also useful to sit down and take a look at how the software is already impacting the industry you are in. Begin to look for the direct experience other customers are having with it and ask if that experience is positive.

If you take the time to do this, there is a better chance you’ll find the right software for your company.

 

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