Archive | ecommerce RSS feed for this section

The Push Back Against Gray Thursday

2 Oct

It’s not exactly news that retailers have been pushing Black Friday earlier and earlier until well, it’s Thursday. One retailer, Staples, after having opened on Gray Thursday for the last few years, has decided to close up and let its workers spend the holiday at home. Bravo for them!

In a press release,the chain announced that the deals will only be online, and that stores will stay closed…On Thanksgiving Day, customers can shop from home on Staples.com and then continue their shopping in stores starting at 6 a.m. on Black Friday,” the company’s president of North American stores and online shopping, Demos Parneros, said in a statement.

Companies that choose to stay closed on the holiday should be applauded. I hope that those who choose to be good communitity citizens harvest online goodwill and good publicity, to offset any loss in sales.
Some reports show Black Friday weekend sales are actually falling, so maybe other retailers will take the high road as well.

108 Days Until Black Friday: Everybody Waits for a 100 day countdown. Are you everybody? — Black Friday 2015 Marketing Tips

11 Aug

No need to panic but Black Friday is right around the corner. And as the good little marketers, executives and decision makers that I know you are, I know you’ve put a ton of energy and effort into your holiday planning and you are probably feeling pretty good about it. You have some promotions and special offers that are sure to excite, your social strategy is primed and ready to start conversations with the faithful, and IT is ready to handle the crush.

Time to feel good?  Of course not, there is more to do! Let’s talk numbers:

Highlights from Black Friday 2014:

2014 Black Friday online sales were up 9.5% over 2013, peaking at 8:55 a.m. PST.

>>> Pump those special offers via social media to less peak times to maximize revenue throughout the day and minimize website performance issues.

 

  • Historic Mobile Milestone Spurs Online Shopping: Thanksgiving Day mobile traffic accounted for 52.1 percent of all online traffic – the first time mobile devices have outpaced their PC counterparts for online browsing. Black Friday mobile traffic reached 49.6 percent of all online traffic, an increase of 25 percent over last year. Black Friday mobile sales accounted for 27.9 percent of total online sales, up 28.2 percent over 2013.

>>> If your website isn’t mobile friendly, shame on you. Mobile is the wave of the future (and if you attend any conferences, it has been for the last ten years…sorry omni-channel you are so-ooo 2000). But with Google promising to penalize websites that aren’t mobile friendly and using it as a ranking factor in search, there really isn’t any excuse.

 

 

  • Thanksgiving Eats Into Black Friday Sales: Thanksgiving Day online sales increased 14.3 percent over 2013, with Black Friday up 9.5 percent year-over-year. Average order value on Thanksgiving was $125.25, down 1.8 percent over 2013; Black Friday was $129.37, down 4.4 percent. This trend may indicate that shoppers are becoming more comfortable and digitally savvy in how they use online coupons and rebates to secure the best bargains. Black Friday online sales were 63.5 percent higher than Thanksgiving Day. This is a decrease from 2013, however, when it was 70 percent higher as Thanksgiving online sales continue to eat into Black Friday shopping.

>>>After turkey, people sit down on the couch and plan out their Black Friday shopping. And then they start shopping when they realize they really don’t want to line up at 4am to get a $5 toaster. So plan on reaching out a little bit earlier this year and consider having a separate strategy for turkey day itself.

  • Top Five U.S. Cities for Online Shopping: New York City claimed the top spot for Black Friday online shopping followed by Washington, D.C.; Atlanta, GA; Los Angeles, CA; and Chicago, IL. New York City shoppers spent on average $121.91 per order on Black Friday.

>>> Do you have geo targeted PPC, social and SEO in place?  Consumers are looking for product, model #, features etc…and looking to get it locally. Think about combining structured data coded onto your site with price, reviews, location, etc to stay visible during the holiday season.

 

  • Smartphones Browse, Tablets Buy:As the new digital shopping companion for many consumers, smartphones drove 34.7 percent of all Black Friday online traffic, more than double that of tablets, which accounted for 14.6 percent of all traffic. Yet, when it comes to mobile sales, tablets continue to win the shopping war – driving 16 percent of online sales compared to 11.8 percent for smartphones, a difference of 35.5 percent. Tablet users also averaged $126.50 per order compared to $107.55 for smartphone users, a difference of 17.6 percent.
  • iOS vs. Android:iOS once again led the way in mobile shopping this holiday season, outpacing Android across three key metrics on Black Friday:
    • Average Order Value:iOS users averaged $121.86 per order compared to $98.07 for Android users, a difference 24.3 percent.
    • Online Traffic:iOS traffic accounted for 34.2 percent of total online traffic, more than double that of Android, which drove 15 percent of all online traffic.
    • Online Sales:iOS sales accounted for 21.9 percent of total online sales, nearly quadruple that of Android, which drove 5.8 percent of all online sales.

>>> Your website should be optimized for the device being used by your visitors. Responsive or adaptive design (your choice, don’t get me in that mess) means better user experience and better conversions. Don’t let those visitors bounce!

 

  • The Desktop is Not Dead: When consumers did choose to use their PC or desktop, they spent more with an average order value of $135.33 compared to $116.02 for mobile shoppers, a difference of 16.6 percent.

>>> When the real big dollar items need to be purchased, and multiple sites need to be reviewed and compared, the desktop wins.  If you are selling big ticket items, or products that are routinely reviewed, neglect the desktop user at your peril!

 

  • Social Influence – Facebook vs. Pinterest:As marketers continue to rely on social channels to drive brand loyalty and sales, IBM analyzed trends across two leading sites on Black Friday – Facebook and Pinterest. Facebook referrals drove an average of $109.94 per order compared to $100.24 for Pinterest, a difference of nearly 10 percent. Facebook referrals converted online sales at more than twice the rate of Pinterest

>>>Loyal customers also serve as brand advocates, engaging with your brand online and speaking well of it offline. These customers drive 33% more sales and 18% more traffic than regular customers so engage them regularly with quality content tailored to them.

  • Less Frequent, More Targeted Email Promos*:Retailers sent an average of 5.3 emails on Black Friday 2014, decreasing more than 11 percent over the same period in 2013, as retail marketers continue to send more targeted — and less frequent — messages to shoppers. Open and click-through rates – when someone opens an email and clicks at least one link – were 12.9 percent and 2.4 percent, on Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day, compared to 15.4 percent and 2.8 percent respectively, last year.

>>>For the love of all that is decent and good, stop cramming emails down your customers’ throats. One great email tailored to one customer/segment is far more productive than mass emailings indiscriminately spraying the intertubes with your product juice.

Perform some analysis on your customers. Think about the ones who have spent the most or bought most frequently, or simply those who have been long-time supporters of your company. Send them a targeted, segmented email explaining that they are VIPs to your company and that you are doing something special just for them.

 

The four hottest retail categories this past holiday season:

  1. Department Stores: Black Friday online sales grew by 22.9 percent over 2013, with mobile percentage of sales increasing by 25.7 percent. Average order value was $143.16, a decrease of 2.5 percent year-over-year.
  2. Health and Beauty: Black Friday online sales grew by 56.9 percent over 2013, with mobile percentage of sales increasing by 31.8 percent. Average order value was $72.78, an increase of 9.8 percent year-over-year.
  3. Home Goods: Black Friday online sales grew by 43.2 percent over 2013, with mobile percentage of sales increasing by 3.8 percent. Average order value was $238.46, an increase of 6.8 percent year-over-year.
  4. Apparel: Black Friday online sales grew by 22.6 percent over 2013, with mobile percentage of sales increasing by 25.2 percent. Average order value was $114.96, a decrease of 6.8 percent year-over-year.

>>> My prediction for this holiday’s hottest categories? Pet rocks and tea cozies!black-friday

Adobe Study Finds 198 million adblocking users, growing 47% YOY; Advertising to lose $21bn in 2015

10 Aug

adblock

An Adobe/Page Fair report, says that 16% of the US online population blocked ads in Q2, 2015  and that ad block usage grew 48% during the past year. Chrome, with its ease installing extensions, and with Chrome’s growth as the browser of choice have made it the major blocker of ads.

In the mobile space, Firefox and Chrome are responsible for 93% of mobile ad blocking.

400 non-blocking ad users were asked what would make them change their mind (I’m shocked that, “I didn’t know I could!” wasn’t the top answer):

  • Misuse of personal information was the primary reason to enable ad blocking
  • An increase in the number of ads was more important among millennials
  • 1 in 4 respondents aged 35-49 do not have any desire to ever use ad blocking so”ware.

I use Chrome with Adblocker Plus as well as a noscript extension to limit ads. For those sites that responsibly show ads and act as a resource for me, I try and be a good user and white list them. The problem with adblocking isn’t that it exists, it’s that so many websites are reckless and irresponsible with display advertising. Until that changes, the percentages of ads being blocked can’t help but to increase.

How do you handle display ads? Is your professional attitude different than your private behaviors? Would love to hear from you.

Amazon Prices, Repricing, Toilet Paper and the Airline Industry

5 Sep

Interesting article at the Wall St Journal on how merchants on Amazon are taking a page from the airline (among other) industries to maximize revenue with fast changing pricing based on sales volume and competition.

 

It used to be only airfares that changed every minute. But now, prices of everything from clothing to toilet paper are fluctuating dramatically online. Julia Angwin explains on The News Hub.

The fast-moving Internet pricing games used by airlines and hotels are now moving deeper into the most mundane nooks of the consumer economy.

Deploying a new generation of algorithms, retailers are changing the price of products from toilet paper to bicycles on an hour-by-hour and sometimes minute-by-minute basis.

The pricing wars were fought last month over a General Electric microwave oven. Sellers on Amazon.com Inc. AMZN -0.16% changed its price nine times in one day, with the price fluctuating between $744.46 and $871.49, according to data compiled by consumer-price research firm Decide Inc. for The Wall Street Journal. Best Buy Inc. BBY +1.58% responded by lifting its online price on the oven to $899.99 from $809.99 after the Amazon prices rose, then lowering it again after Amazon prices for the oven dropped.

The most frequent price adjustments are occurring among Web stores selling products on Amazon, which encourages ruthless competition between retailers vying for the top spot among search results. Sellers such as children’s clothing store Cookie’s use software to change prices every 15 minutes in order to stay on top of Amazon rankings. The store’s owner, Al Falack, said he often sells clothing cheaper on Amazon than at his bricks and mortar store in Brooklyn, N.Y.

“We’re finding that we’ll receive something fresh and new in the season and before we give it a chance to sell, we are selling it for less than we wanted,” Mr. Falack said.

In the 1990s, airlines became known for constantly changing prices, based on how many seats they had available on a flight and prices charged by competitors. Hotels soon followed with their own “yield management” systems, that allowed them to change room rates constantly.

image

Now, Internet retailers are using similar software. A goal is to maintain the lowest price—even if only by a penny—so that their products will show up at the top of the search results by shoppers doing price comparisons.

One crucial difference with the travel industry is that Internet retailers are usually competing against a lot of different competitors with identical products. By contrast, airlines and hotels have a fixed number of competitors, and certain players dominate certain markets.

Mercent Corp., the company that provides the software used by Cookie’s, says it changes the price of two million products an hour. Mercent says it makes price decision based on a variety of factors such as competitors’ prices, competitors’ shipping prices, manufacturer price restrictions and seasonal sales. Retailers pick their settings to determine how frequently prices are adjusted, which products are tracked and which competing websites are ignored.

The most frequent changes are for consumer electronics, clothing, shoes, jewelry and household staples like detergent and razor blades.

“The long-term implication is that a price is no longer a price,” said Eric Best, chief executive of Mercent, which tracks prices for more than 400 brands.

For vendors that sell on Amazon, having the lowest price on a product is the quickest way to get space in the coveted “buy box,” Mr. Best said. A product in the buy box, or the default box that adds a product to a shopping cart, is picked more than 95% of the time by shoppers, he said.

Mr. Falack of Cookie’s said that changing prices more frequently has boosted sales dramatically, but requires a lot of attention. First he set the software to beat his competitors by a certain percentage. Then he set a floor price below which he wouldn’t go. Then he restricted his competitors to those who had at least two stars out of Amazon’s five-star rating system.

For consumers, the result is more volatile pricing. Once the low-price vendor for a particular item sells out, rivals selling the same product can immediately lift their prices without fear of being undercut.

Hugh Lee, a 32-year-old from Seattle, said he extensively researches products and prices before pulling the trigger on a purchase. And even after buying something online, he monitors the price and asks for a price adjustment if it is lowered. “It’s a lot of extra work,” he said.

So far, shoppers are winning the price game about as often as they lose—with about half of price changes going down, and half going upward, according to Decide.com, which tracks prices of products over time to determine the best time to buy them.

The price changes can be dramatic. Last month, retailers on Amazon.com changed prices on a Samsung 43-inch plasma television four times over the course of a day, between $398 and $424, according to Decide.com. Around midday, Best Buy boosted the price to $500 from $400 before dropping it back down, while electronics retailer Newegg in the morning raised its price to $600 from $500. Amazon, Best Buy and Newegg declined to comment.

Before software, stores would send employees to their competitors’ stores to jot down prices by hand, said Rafi Mohammed, founder of Culture of Profit, a Cambridge, Mass., consulting firm that helps retailers with their pricing strategies. Once e-commerce took off, companies scanned their competitors’ websites to make adjustments, he said.

The new software has greatly speeded up the process. Online home goods retailer Wayfair changes hundreds of thousands of prices daily, said CEO Niraj Shah. When it finds pricing discrepancies—like if a product is priced 5% higher than a competitor—the company quickly makes adjustments.

The pricing works both ways. If Wayfair finds that it is selling a product for much less than its competition, it can then raise the price to be more in line with the market’s pricing, said Mr. Shah.

“In the age of the Internet, fixed prices are a thing of the past,” said Oren Etzioni, professor of computer science at the University of Washington and co-founder and chief technologist at Decide.com.

Nooooo!!! Ads on Google Home Page

28 Aug

Nexus 7 being pimped on the Google home page….I feel so unclean.

*warning once see it cannot be unseen*

 

Amazon Offering Locker Delivery

26 Jul

Amazon really is determined to deliver as quickly as possible and in as many ways as possible. Arlington and other Northern Virginia locales have joined the list of areas where Amazon.com is offering its“Amazon Locker” self-serve delivery pickup service.

Two 7-Eleven stores in Arlington, VA have been outfitted with a bank of electronic, Amazon-branded lockers. Residents ordering from Amazon can opt to have their package delivered to the locker instead of to their house or apartment.

If you choose locker delivery, Amazon will email you a code once the package has been delivered to the locker. You then tap in the code at a touch screen display, and your locker will open. Just don’t procrastinate after getting the email — if your package isn’t picked up for three days, it will be sent back to Amazon and your money will be refunded.

In addition to Northern Virginia, Amazon Locker service is also available in Seattle, New York City, and London. The company is billing the service as “a new and easy way to receive your Amazon packages.

Speaking of Internet Retailer….in Chicago

31 May

Want to hear about the new changes and get free drinks at the same time? Well, Google and Mercent executives will be at the 2012 Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition (IRCE) held next week June 5-8th in Chicago at McCormick Place West.  Executives will be on hand at the Mercent Booth #529 at to discuss today’s announcement. In addition, Google is an exclusive panel participant at the private retail executive event Mercent is hosting Tuesday June 5th at Chicago’s legendary Shedd Aquarium following the IRCE Welcome Reception.

If you have an interest in learning more or in , free drinks, free food or you have a fish fetish…let me know @ jeff.buechler@mercent.com and I’ll see what I can do about getting you in.

%d bloggers like this: