Why Direct-to-Customer (DTC) Is Here to Stay

Why go direct-to-customer? In 2020, 10 years of e-commerce growth occurred in just 90 days. Consumer behaviour as we know it has shifted for good especially when it comes to the perception of convenience and the experience of shopping online. While shopping on the Internet is no longer such a big leap of faith even for the most senior amongst us, this comes with new expectations in the realms of communication, customer experiences and brand connection.

Image Source: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/five-fifty-the-quickening

What we’re experiencing now is a upwards acceleration of trends that existed before the pandemic – industries that did well are doing even better, whilst ones with poor performance, plummeted. Consumer brands equipped with resilient, future-ready business models with their customers at front of mind have pulled further away from their industry peers, and those with legacy business models maybe left in the lurch. 

Exploring a mix of business models has emerged, and while many companies are positioned to sell on ever growing marketplace platforms, something about the direct-to-consumer model is taking hold. What’s even more interesting, is that direct-to-customer (DTC) businesses that are hitting maturity at this point, have become some of the fastest growing eCommerce business successes – turning over billions.

Riding the D2C Success Wave

Take Dagne Dover, for example, a feedback based luxury bag brand that pre-sold nearly $40,000 worth of their high-end totes (their products range from $125 – $500). Recently, they have had over $1 million dollars worth of sales since launch and received $1.25 million from angel investors related to brands like Coach and Warby Parker.

Another DTC success story comes in the form of the Dollar Shave Club, a name now synonymous to the subscription model. They have just been snapped up by Unilever for $1bn. Just this week, Amazon-backed Indian D2C beauty brand MyGlamm has just raised $71 million in investment.

Even legacy companies are acknowledging the D2C appeal. FMCG company Emami Ltd has just increased its stake by 15% to 45.96% in Helios Lifestyle, a male-grooming products seller under The Man Company brand. Hindsutan Unilever Ltd, India’s largest packaged good maker, is also set to make product lines available direct-to-customer via mono brand sites. Even Nike aims to grow the share of its DTC sales from 30 percent today to 50 percent in the near future.

It’s clear that things are looking promising for DTC. While there are some added details and logistical costs to consider  such as warehouses, customer service and order fulfilment  there are still many benefits of going the D2C route for eCommerce businesses. Here are a few:

Reasons to Go Direct-To-Customer

  • Fuels innovation: With direct access to customer feedback, D2C provides the insight that closes the gap between R&D and product innovation. Having that immediacy to evaluate and test brings the brand closer to their customer’s needs, creating even more specific solutions.
  • Drive sales: Brands may need ways to resolve middlemen conflicts especially if they are already selling through retailers, outlets and distributors. An option would be to create e-Commerce exclusive product lines while being on the forefront to proactively share customer feedback and insights with its channel partners.
  • Customer-insight generation and community building: We’ve seen the impact of fan bases and follower-ships through the lens of celebrity for years. Creating that kind of loyalty and advocacy for brands isn’t that farfetched, especially when customer insight is evidently being used to benefit customers themselves. Free samples, involving them in test phases and feedback-based changes invites a sense of equity and provides direct learning for brands to stay in touch with their customers.
  • Brand building and differentiation: Having an in-depth understanding of the ‘direct’ part of DTC can set a brand miles ahead of the competition. As many options as there can be for customers, there will be just as many opportunities that DTC channels have to reinvigorate that customer relationship and to do what the brand has set out to in the first place – making life easier for its chosen audiences.

Conclusion

At the rate things are going, competition is growing dramatically and it seems as though everyone is jumping on board the eCommerce train. While it’s never been easier to start a business, scaling it is where the hard part lies. Though there can be longevity and many benefits to the D2C business model, sustainable growth calls for more: a knowledge of evergreen performance optimization implementations, an urgency to connect and adapt with customers, and a persistent desire to better customer experience overall.

Need an eCommerce marketing agency that has your company’s back? Find out how we can help boost your business. Book a free strategy session here. Or, better yet, check out our agency secret to helping your business grow with less effort over time.

Finding the Right eCommerce Agency Partner For You [ Updated 2021 ]

So, you’re ready to take things to the next level and outsource your digital marketing activities. The next step would be to hire an eCommerce marketing agency. But what goes into hiring the right one for you? How do you ensure that you’re both looking at the same goals? How do you know if they’ll work with your budget?

Like every partnership, the getting-to-know-you phase can feel treacherous and nerve-wracking, and there’s just so much at stake. A lot of things can only be revealed in time, and it does feel like this leaves a lot up to chance. But this process doesn’t have to cost the earth (or your sanity!).

  1. Demystify your needs: Ask yourself some specific questions about your business – what do you need help with right now, how do you envision growth in the next 6 months and what’s needed to get you there? No one knows your business or the ethnographic of your industry better than you do. So first, analyse the kind of assistance you need, whether it’s a one-off or an ongoing need, the pace that suits your business growth, your forecasted budget, and narrow down your list from there.
  2. Clarify your short-term and long-term goals: In a nutshell, you need to make sales to make money to invest this back into your business (it’s a whole chain!). Therefore, your ecommerce marketing agency’s approach should be geared toward sending customers a relevant message that’s designed to incite an action — to learn, subscribe, follow, or buy. If you have an idea of the big picture – great! But every little step counts. Your agency should take into account the very specific incremental actions that get you to the point you want. Like getting people to spend more time on the website, increasing average order value, building your email subscriber list, improving the customer retention cycle, etc.
  3. Focus on metrics and desired outcomes: Getting on the right side of your priorities is key and having a clear idea of what success looks like to you gives agencies the idea of accountability. For example, things like increasing return on ad spend by 13 percent, boosting website traffic by 30 percent, increasing YOY sales by 40 percent, 2x product upsells, add 110K more subscribers in 18 months

The Benefits of Having An eCommerce Agency Partner

  • having help saves you time so you can focus on the day-to-day
  • allows you to manage other issues like staff management, logistics, etc.
  • your agency partner will have industry insight you might not be privy to and keep you up to date
  • acts as an extended arm of your business to help you profit on a different level

Hiring An Agency vs. Hiring An Employee

Would hiring someone in-house trump hiring an agency? Depends on your situation and requirements. Let’s have a quick look at the benefits of hiring an employee to work in-house:

  • Your staff works exclusively for you, so (in theory) you should have their undivided attention.
  • Budgeting is sometimes more straightforward.
  • They’ll get an intimate understanding of your brand, values, and objectives.

However, when it comes to eCommerce stores, especially in the areas of SEO, design, web development, and marketing, agencies might provide more benefits. Plus, agencies offer a competitive edge due to their specialist skills and technical expertise, along with the following benefits:

  • On-demand services are more cost-effective
  • Helps to build custom experiences that makes you stand out against the competition
  • Optimised performance
  • Quality Assurance

Conclusion

Selecting the right eCommerce agency can be complicated. There are thousands of agencies everywhere. However, knowing the basics of what each does and how they work can help make the process easier. Experience is key. Your agency list should consist of companies who have a proven track record in marketing and growth. This helps you to find companies who are reliable and can deliver the results you’re after. Getting started with an eCommerce marketing agency can be intimidating but there are tips you can follow which can make the process easier.

To reach your desired goal, you need to seek out the right combination of skills, experience and resources. Although there is no set formula, it is essential to work closely with an agency partner who can help you accelerate your growth and proactively spot opportunities. At the same time, look for consistency in treatment, progression and an overall sense of confidence that the job will get done.

Finding these things in an eCommerce marketing agency isn’t easy; but worth the effort. Especially if it leads to not just an uptick in dollars, but increased self-awareness in a wider business sense, a more adaptive approach to failure (especially in these changing times) and challenged cognitive biases that lie outside of your periphery.

Looking for an eCommerce marketing agency that has your back? Find out how we can help boost your online business. Book a free strategy session here. Or, better yet, check out our agency secret to helping your business grow with less effort over time.

The Power of Email Marketing & First Party Data In a Cookie-Free World

So this is how the cookie crumbles…or is it? Concerns over data security has certainly raised some eyebrows. With tech giants taking matters into their own hands (Hello, iOs updates!) and Google phasing out support for third-party tracking cookies in Chrome, are marketers ready to face a cookie-less future? As far as we can tell, this isn’t just an issue for the marketing department, but impacts ecommerce businesses as a whole. While abrupt, these changes do present companies with a unique opportunity to redesign the ways they can strengthen bonds with their customers. Meaning, a little less stalking without your customer’s realisation, a little more direct permisssion-seeking.

The secret ingredient of it all lies in first-party data. First-party data is consent-driven. As consumers gain more and more control over their own data, this control will reshape their expectations around customer experience (CX) in general. Third-party tracking has always given richer insight to fuel CX, but without it, it’s wise to beef up your 1st party data strategy as a way to move forward – and this is how email marketing can help.

But first, what exactly is first-party data?

This customer-first data is sourced directly from a prospect or customer. It includes information that someone proactively provides to you (this is called zero-party data) – like email addresses, contact numbers or birthdays. First-party data is observed by a brand about someone on their owned properties, like what products they clicked on your website. All customer-first data can be used to create special and highly personalised customer experiences and communication.

So What Do I Do Now?

  1. Rethink measurements. ROAS are becoming harder and harder to track because of the reduced visibility around user activity, many marketers are being forced to revisit the way they think about attribution completely. One thing that is proving to be popular is ditching platform-specific metrics in favour of measuring your marketing efficiency ratio (MER). MER (also known as blended ROAS) refers to evaluating the return on investment (ROI) of all online advertising compared to other channels. More specifically, MER looks at your total revenue divided by total advertising spend. 

2. Evaluate what makes sense and dollars when it comes to product promo strategy. Aim for a higher average order value (AOV) through paid promotions around product bundles and high-ticket items.

3. Work with what you have. A little resourcefulness goes a long way when it comes to the customer data you already have. Leveraging off of lookalike audiences, or multiples of these, is a great way to segment and gives you a defining point of what a high value customer looks like to your business.

4. Use lead ads to collect email addresses. Spell out the benefits customers will receive when they share their info. Stop relying on paid-ads for one-off sales and instead, use them to build a customer base that wants to stick around. Or better yet, refer you onto more people!

How Is Email Marketing the End Goal?

From a big picture perspective, your email is an existing two-way communication channel that can give you the insight you need to deliver and enhance your customer’s experience. And that’s gold! Here are some ways to power this so you’re fully making the most of what you have and leverage the tools that email marketing provides.

  1. Clever Cart Segmentation: Do more segmentation with cart abandonment based on cart value. If a customer’s cart qualifies for free shipping, include that in an email. If they haven’t, consider suggesting complementing products on offer that make up the difference to encourage the purchase.
  2. Personalised Messaging: There are endless ways to tweak messaging to motivates buy-ins. At the end of the day, you may think that customers are inundated by content, but it’s the businesses that provide helpful, relevant solutions that stand out.
  3. Better Post Purchase Experiences: Communicating with your customers doesn’t end at the purchase. Creating worthwhile experiences mean going the extra mile to consider what might be useful for customers in the future, like lesser known information about products and similar ones on the horizon. Personalising rewards and loyalty programs based on their last purchases, for example, will incentivise them to shop again without relying on ads.
  4. Focus on Lifetime Value and Repeat Purchase Rates: Customer acquisition is important, but it shouldn’t devalue the customers you already have in your ecosystem. By evaluating and assessing this touchpoint at every part of the funnel, you’ll get closer and closer to discovering what is relevant to your customers and makes your brand stand the test of time.

Want to see more articles like this? Let us know!

Sources: https://www.klaviyo.com/marketing-resources/customer-first-data

Looking for an eCommerce marketing agency that has your back? Find out how we can help boost your online business. Book a free strategy session here. Or, better yet, check out our agency secret to helping your business grow with less effort over time.

What eCommerce Businesses Can Learn from the Australian Survivor TV Show [2021]

The latest season of Ten’s Australian Survivor is providing us all with the lockdown respite we need. For the unfamiliar, this reality show is all about putting ordinary people to the test under extreme conditions designed to test their competitiveness, cunningness, and creativity. From an eCommerce business owner’s perspective, it’s like constantly being upheaved by your competitor’s latest product innovation or store update. After being quite intrigued by the dog-eat-dog mechanics of the show (and its entertaining component of ‘Brains VS Brawn’ outcomes) I can’t help but draw similarities to current strategies eCommerce businesses can benefit from.

Things eCommerce Businesses Can Learn from the Australian Survivor TV Show

  • The importance of being resourceful: Make the best of what you have. Way too often, shiny object syndrome has a way to get the better of us and getting the latest solutions seem to be only way out. But try giving your team a moment to assess – really think about the issues at hand and devise a plan. This develops creativity, credibility, collaboration and innovative mindsets that would offer unique solutions to your customers in the long-haul.
  • Adaptability: The show’s crazy changes really goes to show that staying complacent is no longer an option. Having the ability to move, swerve, and yes, our favourite word, pivot, has almost become a mantra for most business owners during the pandemic. Obviously, making agile decisions that don’t compromise the integrity of your product and services is easier said than done. However, we’ve seen that doing the opposite does more irreversible harm than good.
  • Not just survival of the fittest: Like we see on the show, winning Survivor requires a whole host of things – strong social skills, being able to think on your feet, becoming a good team player, as well as the ability to strategise. It’s never just one thing. While your eCommerce website could be functioning well, it takes a good understanding of your audience needs, a grasp of logistics & supply, a solid strategy and strong customer retention plans that keep your business growing and thriving.
  • You have to survive for more than one day: Competition is everywhere. Just a slight delay in your site loading speed and customers are free to hop onto another site. Sure, this is inevitable in business, but playing to your strengths is a timeless mantra. Being persistent about your unique values-based offering, engaging your audiences, focusing on your customer’s convenience, and always optimising your business growth plans. These are long-term aspects that will earn you a spot in the forefront and show that you’re here for the long haul. Not just making heated, in-the-moment snap decisions purely to survive.

Want to see more articles like ‘What eCommerce Businesses Can Learn from Australian Survivor’? Let us know!

Looking for an eCommerce agency partner that has your back? Boost your online business growth with us today and see how we can help. Book a free strategy session here. Or, better yet, check out our agency secret to helping your business grow with less effort over time.

The Latest eCommerce Insights Australia and Asia-Pacific [July 2021]

Australia has made the jump from the 10th largest eCommerce market to the 7th in the world. The latest eCommerce insights show that this contributes towards the worldwide growth rate by a staggering 26% (2020). With eCommerce tapped as a key economic growth driver, the internet has broken down barriers of previous confines reserved for bigger players that bear larger resources to expand. Given its location as well, Australia is logistically primed to service the APAC region with more innovations and products as both regions ride the significant eCommerce expansion wave. Whilst potential and opportunities are clearly available, it is also important to note the current headspace of customers, how you’re able to meet them at the point where the value your products present, whether it meets their current needs, and the price point they are comfortable with, converge.

Here are a few things that outline the eCommerce growth potential and consumer perspectives for both Australia & APAC:

Key eCommerce insights for Australia & APAC

  1. The top five largest categories in E-commerce Australia are: Fashion (26% of total revenue in Australia) Food & Personal Care (26%), Toys, Hobby & DIY (19%) Electronics & Media (18%) and Furniture & Appliances (11%).
  2. Locad, a specialist eCommerce logistics and supply chain management integrator based in Singapore, has raised US$4.9 million in a funding round led by Sequoia Capital India’s Surge. It aims to provide a fully integrated solution that looks to resolve some of the common pain points within eCommerce, particularly the slow and often complex supply chain systems.
  3. Asia Pacific account for 75% of global retail growth and 64% of eCommerce sales.
  4. Search interest for things like “air fryer” rose by 190% in Singapore during lockdown compared to earlier in the year. Whereas Vietnam saw a 68% growth for “blender,” and queries for “coffee maker” grew by 33% in the Philippines.
  5. As much as online shopping is a thing, customers are watching their wallets — 55% of Singaporeans said they would wait for a promotion before buying their delayed purchase, and 40% said they are looking to trade down to a cheaper alternative.
  6. In Australia, 59% of 18 – 29 year olds say a savings account is more important now than before the pandemic. They also say an everyday savings account (53%), stocks or equity investments (46%), and comprehensive car insurance (36%) are more important to them now than they were prior to the pandemic.
  7. 50% of Aussies claim YouTube helps them decide which brand or product to buy.
  8. Over 50% of Aussies said that brands can be most helpful to them right now by setting realistic expectations regarding the availability of their products and services.

Looking for an eCommerce agency partner that has your back? Boost your online business growth with us today and see how we can help. Book a free strategy session here. Or, better yet, check out our agency secret to helping your business grow with less effort over time.

Why Does Amazon Want To Track Your Sleep?

So Amazon has gotten the go-ahead to track your sleep. What does this mean? Amazon made an initial request to the FCC which was filed on June 22nd (according to SlashGear), claiming that its planned use of radar would enable “touchless control of device features and functions without causing harmful interference to co-frequency users,”. The main aim for this would be to help elderly users, or those who have limited mobility or speech difficulties. Amazon also says that the new sensors can be used for “sleep tracking and could help improve consumers’ awareness and management of sleep hygiene.” It has been confirmed, however, that this roll-our will not include mobile devices.

Given the recent privacy concerns, particularly heightened by Apple’s iOS updates, users will continue to have more of a say over their data and how much they are willing to disclose. While sleep tracking isn’t new, tracking adds another layer to the role that IoT products will play in the consumer lifecycle. Despite the list of concerns when it comes to this, hands-free devices have been amazingly well-received by people in wheelchairs or those who are blind. With this go-ahead, Amazon has free rein to roll out a new version of the Echo that will let turn off your TV or set alarms using a nod or a hand wave and, hopefully, sign language. Doing this also cements Amazon a spot against current leaders in the health-monitoring game: Apple & Google.

While privacy concerns are there, the variety of benefits to this roll-out opens up a new expanded market for diverse audiences. This allows more opportunities for businesses to integrate conveniences into existing products that will assist and include a large range of audiences. But, whether or not your sleep data will turn into fodder for ad-targeting in the future is something that is still up for debate.

Looking for an eCommerce agency partner that has your back? Boost your online business growth with us today and see how we can help. Book a free strategy session here. Or, better yet, check out our agency secret to helping your business grow with less effort over time.

Bytedance Sells TikTok Tech: How This Could Change eCommerce

BytePlus only launched in June 2021 (according to the Financial Times) but already has several clients around the world, including US-based fashion app Goat, an Indonesian online shopping start-up, a Singaporean travel booking site, and a social gaming platform in India. ByteDance, Beijing-based company’s new division behind TikTok & DouYin, is called BytePlus. Created with the aim of reportedly selling its TikTok AI-powered tech to customers looking to replicate the video sharing platform’s success in their eCommerce apps and services.

TikTok’s Interaction-based Algorithm

What drives its so popular is the very recommendation algorithm that TikTok uses. As the social media platform that boasts the highest overall engagement rate, the videos you get shown on TikTok’s For You feed is based on how you interact with videos you’re shown.

These interactions are based off of which videos you like, share comment on, or create; including video information, such as captions and hashtags; and device and account settings including what device you’re using, your language preferences, and your location settings. Through buying the AI from BytePlus as a business, you will also gain access to automated speech and text translation and real-time video effects along with data analysis tools.

What This Means for eCommerce’s Future

The success of its recommendation algorithm, which now allows with businesses to personalise it according to customers, will offer a whole new insight to how content marketing will be delivered. The feed – also known as the ForYou Page – has been serving very varied feeds and wildly claimed by audiences to know them better than they know themselves. From medical diagnoses, to age-based preferences and personality tests, the app’s uncanny ability to relate and curate to each user has long been part of its highly addictive scroll-worthy appeal.

  1. Accelerated innovation on R&D: By gaining insight to user meta data and interactions, eCommerce businesses will get a better grasp on how users engage with their products and innovate accordingly.
  2. Gain effective measurements on content strategy: If the goal for an eCommerce business is to increase Lifetime Customer Value, consistently driving engagement and having a strong nurture process is key. In many instances, content strategies and campaign deliveries can be hit-and-miss, but via the algorithm, this allows marketing teams to test and optimise campaign outcomes in a more effective manner.
  3. Stickier solutions: Having data that drills down to customer behaviours, will give you the ability to create relevant and niche customer solutions that actually solves needs and desires.

Feel like your eCommerce business is ready for a spike? Boost that growth with us today and see how we can help. Book a free strategy session here. Or, better yet, check out our secret to helping your business grow with less effort over time.

The Power of Marginal Gains: How Your Online Business Gets Big Boosts from Small Tweaks

There’s a lot to be said about the power of little things – particularly when the eCommerce climate is in a constant state of flux. The ‘Marginal Gains’ theory ( popularised by Sir Dave Brailsford CBE, one of the principal architects behind Great Britain’s gold medal winning cycling team, Team Sky ) is the idea that making 1% improvement in a whole host of areas creates a significant change in performance as a whole. But how does this principle translate to the performance of your online business? And most importantly…how true is it?

They May Come If You Build It, But Will They Buy?

It could be that you’ve had a thriving online store for quite some time. Things were ticking along just fine. Then, out of nowhere, your results become stagnant. Sales have just stopped…or worse, dipped. Has complacency set in? Where could you be going wrong? Alternately, imagine building a brand new website, spending considerable amounts of time on the images, branding and using precious time and marketing resources to promote it. Yet your conversion rates are devastatingly low. Whether it be the former or the latter, it’s important to identify where these gaps are happening and what actions to take. This is where applying a marginal gains perspective would help immensely.

Here are some small tweaks that can help:

  • Don’t put the hard work on the user: always apply a fresh consumer perspective to your store design. If someone has to search high and low for more info about something they want to buy (though you might think it’s fine after having been on the site for hours), it’s a good chance that they will quickly go somewhere else.
  • If a lot of crucial info is TLDR, make sure it’s summarised or easily spotted: be succinct when it comes to copy and strategic about placements and positioning with buttons, section headings, and call-to-actions. Making these as obvious as roadside neon signs will lead the customer towards info they want (or you want them) to have.
  • Speed it up: nothing irks shoppers more than sites that take forever to load. No matter how appealing or striking the videos you worked hard to create can be, consider the weight that it adds to your website and what you can do to boost your page load speed.
  • The 101 on your 404: Have you factored in your ‘Error 404’ message? Adding a reminder to return to the store or having a more playful take on this will help and engage a lost shopper to find their way back. More so than just the stock standard error message.
  • Shoppable social media: Instagram, TikTok and Facebook are boarding the eCommerce train and for good reason. As entertaining as they are, social media platforms collate a strong consumer network that are watching real-time reactions to products on their personalised feeds. Find out what social platforms your customers are interacting on and why they are engaging with certain content. This helps you create content that trigger purchases and promote the ways your product benefits them.
  • Always be automating: Identifying gaps, testing subject titles, or requesting reviews at the right stages of the cart abandonment process is key. And once you’ve refined the process, automating all of this would lift a weight off your shoulders too.
  • Simplify the checkout process as much as possible: 3 clicks and strike – you’re out! Obviously, customers are used to clicking, filling in fields and providing some info at this stage. But making this process more tedious than the experiences they’ve had on other sites is a danger point. You don’t want them changing their mind because of there being too many hoops to jump through.

While marginal gains rebukes the idea of one grand overhaul that solves all your eCommerce problems, it makes sense. Given the ever changing nature of the digital landscape, the online businesses that thrive are the ones that continuously measure the small stuff and identify adaptable solutions in these small improvements over time.

Feel like your eCommerce business is ready for a spike? Boost that growth with us today and see how we can help. Book a free strategy session here. Or, better yet, check out our secret to helping your business grow with less effort over time.

Black Cart: Could Try-Before-You-Buy Shopping Shape the Future of e-Commerce?

Imagine this: sighing dejectedly at your reflection when yet another outfit you bought online – the one that looked perfect on the the model – looks way less appealing on you? Despite the true-to-size size guides, videos and 3D product close-ups, getting a try-before-you-buy option is a massive confidence booster for a customer who was intending to purchase anyway.

Given that 57% of European shoppers still find e-Commerce uninspiring compared to offline, there’s still a race to bridge the gap between the tangible nature of offline shopping and the seamless convenience of digital experiences. Enter BlackCart, a Canadian fashion tech start up that raised funding rounds of $8.8 million entirely over Zoom.

What Is It

A try-before-you-buy platform that integrates with e-Commerce storefronts, BlackCart allows customers to ship items to their home for free and only pay if they choose to keep the item after the end of a “try on” period (set by the retailer).

What Is The Promise

In their own words,

“BlackCart was founded on the premise of making the experience of online shopping less painful for customers, while enabling merchants to deliver the same fitting-room experience to consumers everywhere.

As the first technology provider to bring try-before-you-buy to market, our expertise stems from the many experiments we’ve conducted to ensure a model that delivers results. By taking a methodological approach, we help merchants maximise conversions, create happier customers, and boost bottom-line sales.”

How It Works




Images: How It Works – BlackCart

In the form of a simple plug-in that works with most e-Commerce platforms, the lifecycle of every order is automated. With BlackCart having its own technology in terms of returns, payments, and overall user experience, it shoulders all the financial risk on each transaction associated with fraud, damaged, or unreturned items. This removes the need to take hold of the shopper’s credit card for authorisation.

Each customer’s account would be adjusted if the item was kept or returned. If no actions occur by the end of the trial, it is assumed that the items are kept and the customer will be automatically charged. BlackCart makes money via a rev share model meaning retailers gets charged a percentage of the sales where the customers have kept the products.

Things to Consider

“Retailers are catering to a new generation of non-committal millennials who have massive spending power in conjunction with massive uncertainty, and it’s a profound shift for nearly every consumer spending category.” – Danny Ouyang, CEO, BlackCart

With the pandemic driving up online sales and more customers sticking to this mode of shopping, it makes sense that Try-Before-You-Buy options would drive customers to make quicker purchasing decisions. Here are a few reasons as to why retailers would consider this as a viable way to complement their current e-Commerce strategy.

  • It decreases returns. Having this option deters the common practice of customers purchasing in bulk to try, and returning items that don’t live up to expectations.
  • Increases buyer confidence in high stakes purchases that have massive spending potential (bridal/occasion wear, shoes, mattresses, luxury items, etc.).
  • Removes the barrier-of-entry for newer brands as customers feel more encouraged to try out new products they won’t normally opt for.
  • Trust building. Trust is the essence of every good business. By taking on the risk and inviting test-drives, it shows that brands stand by the integrity of their product and its capability to provide value.

Other players in the try-before-you-buy industry include: Nok and TryNow.

Feel like your eCommerce business is ready for a spike? Boost that growth with us today and see how we can help. Book a free strategy session here. Or, better yet, check out our secret to helping your business grow with less effort over time.

What To Do About iOS 15’s Effects On Your Email Marketing

On top of an overarching bid to offer users more control over their own personal data, Apple’s latest iOS 15 updates (happening anytime between September to November) also boasts powerful ways to help users stay focused, featuring enhanced on-device intelligence to discover information, and expanded ways to explore the world through Maps, Weather, and Wallet. One major change that will leave marketers reeling again though, will be its impacts on email marketing.

What the iOS 15 Updates Mean

Apple users will now be able to:

  • Turn off open tracking
  • Hide their IP addresses
  • Hide their email addresses

It’s quite likely that users will be turning off the open rates, should actions follow in line with the previous Apple updates. When Apple released iOS 14.5 and its app tracking update, a whopping 96% of its users decided to leave tracking disabled. So it should come as no surprise that a similar adoption rate will happen with iOS 15.

Apple commands up to 58% of the email client market share and a full 90.5% of all mobile email opens happen on an iPhone, so the update will certainly be a huge turning point for email marketers everywhere. But as most marketers & eCommerce businesses know, a solid email marketing strategy is more than just measuring open rates. A few issues to note:

  1. Retention and re-engagement strategies need to be revisited
  2. List hygiene will be impacted
  3. Campaign and automation workflows will also need to be adjusted

How to Pivot

A good marketer is more than their tools so adapting your strategy in a deliberate and informed way is going to be crucial. Preparing yourself by deciding on new data and metrics to measure your email campaign success is key. Seeing that a full release of iOS 15 is to come in October, making the right plans now buys you a bit more time should further adjustments need to be made. Here are some of the things you can do to stay ahead of these changes:

Focus on Click-rates

Leaning on this metric more will give you an idea of your email content effectiveness and what resonates the most with your customers.

Expand Your Engagement Based Segments

Moving the focus away from open-rates centric measurements is essential. Include action-oriented activity that spurs clicks and purchases to lead you to an albeit smaller, but much highly-targeted audience pool.

Test, Test & Test Some More

Start A/B testing email content and email subject lines that boost clicks. No one audience list is the same. While different audiences resonate and engage with a variety of different subjects, now would be a great time to find out what sticks when it comes to clicks and focus on creating winning content.

Get More Out Of Your Shopper Analytics

If the end-goal is sales and not engagement, it’s much more beneficial for customers to receive create high-value content that serves their convenience. Looking at shopper recency, order value data and purchasing history would also give you a better idea on how to segment your audiences. Not only does this help you carve a more data-driven approach, but it also allows you to consider the aspects that go into your customer’s real purchasing journey.

Conclusion

Let’s face it – the shift to a world where customers can take ownership over their personal data is in general, a better one. While this may present its own set of obstacles, businesses and marketers would need to adapt and shift to rise to the challenge. Whether it’s creating more innovations in personalisation, or finding more ways to offer customers value in exchange for info, or even utilising existing customer data in smarter ways; it would be interesting to see how this would push the shift across all measurements in success moving forwards.

Feel like your eCommerce business is ready for a spike? Boost that growth with us today and see how we can help. Book a free strategy session here. Or, better yet, check out our secret to helping your business grow with less effort over time.

“Should TikTok Be In My eCommerce Strategy?” What We’ve Learnt So Far [July 2021]

What exactly are retailers doing with the Gen Z centric platform? Should your business be prepped with a TikTok eCommerce strategy? As one of the fastest-growing and most talked about channels, it’s getting harder and harder to ignore TikTok’s hype. Keep reading to decide if bandwagon-hopping is worth it.

Where TikTok Is At

Following in the footsteps of Vine, TikTok has cemented its status as having a strong engagement footprint as well as a deepening cultural impact.

The results of #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt (3.3 billion views) is staggering to say the least. American Eagle CMO Craig Brommers was even quoted as saying: “What TikTok creators wear, American Eagle sells.” While companies may now be trained to listen to their audiences, savvy customers are now just as quick to see t brand’s authenticity or if they’re just on TikTok for the hype.

Strong Consumer Ecosystem

It’s no secret that products that go viral on TikTok, sell out. From leggings to car essentials, items that deliver exactly on what they claim to do (no matter how hyperbolic) will capture the attention (and purse strings) of avid TikTok scrollers with ease.

Given that the recommendation algorithm is unique to every user, it’s no wonder that products that appear in your feed can seem to be exactly what you “need in your life”. To further justify this level of accuracy, TikTok Australia general manager Lee Hunter says the algorithm considers things like the types of videos a person likes, shares and comments on: “a whole range of things that give us a sense of who you are”. 

Matt Cleary, TikTok’s director of retail and dining global business solutions, says, “The reason #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt is such a huge trending hashtag is because of this idea of community commerce…fueled by discovering and sharing new ideas, new products, new brands.” With our world being in a constant state of flux, TikTok’s adeptness at feeding consumers not just the latest trends, but highly personalised recommendations at that, is clearly resonating.

Product Quality Matters

The channel’s highly visual nature elicits an immediate reaction in customers, creating an impact that’s more concrete than merely a text review. In fact, being able to see how customers react to a product in realtime leaves a deeper impression on viewers overall. However, a positive reaction still remains a byproduct of a brand’s commitment to actually making quality products.

It’s important to assess your consumers, what they resonate with, and why they are using social media to engage and communicate. Ultimately, it’s vital to see if your brand values align with the nature of this channel. Whether a TikTok eCommerce strategy is one that makes sense for your services and if you can authentically engage its fast-paced audiences. At the risk of seeming like a parent desperately trying to relate to their Gen Z-er, approach this with clear goals and well weighed-out intentions. The classic adage of tailoring your campaigns to suit your chosen platform and relaying your product benefits in a clear, enjoyable and delightful manner, still holds true.

Feel like your eCommerce business is ready for a spike? Boost that growth with us today and see how we can help. Book a free strategy session here. Or, better yet, check out our secret to helping your business grow with less effort over time.

Shopify Online Store 2.0: The Latest Updates [2021]

At its annual Shopify Unite 2021 event, the Canadian eCommerce powerhouse announced its largest set of platform investments to date for a stronger, better, faster and more flexible future of eCommerce; specifically through Shopify Online Store 2.0.

Given the staggering boost pandemic lockdowns triggered in online shopping, it’s only expected that the understanding for better customer experiences will give way to more customisable updates, better brand story-telling and checkout efficiency.

As per the announcement,

“The internet is the world’s largest city, and Shopify is building its commerce infrastructure,” said Tobi Lütke, CEO of Shopify. “Especially over the past year, we saw independent businesses succeed by showing up creatively and uniquely in this city. The future of commerce on the internet relies on creative expression at every touchpoint. Together with developers, we are building the infrastructure to make this possible.”

Key Points from Unite 2021

  • Shopify unveiled “Online Store 2.0” and customization was at the forefront. This includes a big upgrade to Shopify’s Liquid platform, allowing business owners to get the best from developer features, without the need for coding. A new editor experience will be on its way too, with theme app extensions and a Shopify Theme Store, available from July 15; along with a fresh default theme in the shape of Dawn. The new Storefront features code-free design capabilities and a “Theme Store.” Netflix even used the new platform to launch its first e-comm store.
  • Shopify Checkout will be even faster, giving any shop the capacity to handle tens of thousands of purchases per minute. The stated goal is for a single merchant to be able to sell 300,000 pairs of sneakers in just over eight minutes, and for each shop to have the ability to handle as much sales volume as was served across all of Shopify at the peak of Black Friday Cyber Monday in 2020.
  • Shopify revenue share is now 0% for the first $1M app developers make annually on the platform. This share model will also be rolled out to Theme Store developers. Currently, Shopify charges 20% revenue share, so this aims to increase the opportunity for developers to build and grow their businesses.
  • The introduction of Hydrogen, a new React framework for developers to build custom storefronts and Oxygen, the future hosting platform for custom storefronts on Shopify.
  • Merchants, with the launch of Metafields, can now add things like products and product variants, with more upgrades to happen later in the year.
  • Built on top of the new Metafields infrastructure, the upcoming Custom Content will serve as Shopify’s Content Management platform. Providing merchants capability to store content of any format within Shopify.

For more detailed breakdowns of these upgrades, head to Shopify Unite 2021.

Feel like your eCommerce business is ready for a spike? Boost that growth with us today and see how we can help. Book a free strategy session here. Or better yet, check out our secret to helping your business grow with less effort over time.

Online Store Features Customers Love in 2021

72% of Aussie shoppers say they wouldn’t give an online retailer a second chance if they had a bad experience. Online shoppers were savvy before, but how much has the pandemic changed our online shopping expectations? For starters, there are more than a just a few online shopping trends we’re holding onto. In this article, we highlight some of the top online store features customers can’t do without. So if your online business is looking to make the most of the e-commerce surge; consider implementing these features if you haven’t already.

Just last year in Australia alone, 1.3 million households were first-time shoppers – 93% of them making their very first purchases between March and December 2020. With these increasing numbers, e-commerce businesses must not only anticipate changing customer interests, but also consider just how diverse shopper demographics can be. In case you’re worried about getting a case of shiny object syndrome, here’s what’s worked well so far.

In a survey according to Savings.com, the most valued feature for 49% of American customers (compared to a year ago) is having convenient payment options. Other features include:

•   Fast shipping options 46%
•    Simple returns process 44%
•    Easy-to-navigate website 43%
•    Pricing information clearly shown 37%
•    Rarely out of stock 35%
•    Quick checkout 35%
•    Fast websites 31%

There are also differences between men and women when it came to the following options.

Preferences from Female Shoppers vs. Male Shoppers

•   Fast shipping women 51%, men 41%
•   Simple return process women 48%, men 40%
•   Easy-to-navigate website women 50%, men 36%
•   Pricing information clearly shown women 42%, men 32%
•   Rarely out of stock women 42%, men 28%

72% of women shop online compared to 68% of the men.

So what does this mean for the role of innovation in user experience? A need for timely, engaging and personalised touch points. Whilst a digital-first approach gives way to more innovative online shopping experiences, we can see that (amongst Australian consumers in particular) having an online store that brings them as close as possible to the offline experience is great step in the right direction. 63% of Australians say they’re looking forward to being able to shop in-store for pleasure, which is considerably more than the 55% global average.

Online Shopping Trends & Store Features Australian Shoppers Love

  • Faster page loads: 48% of Aussies with a household income of less than $50,000 would switch for a faster experience, 63% of those with incomes over $150,000 would change.
  • Simple and free returns: 86% of cross-border shoppers say easy returns are important to their purchasing decisions. BigCommerce found that 62% of ANZ shoppers have switched online stores for free returns.
  • Easy, accurate checkout and order review: 44% of Aussie shoppers have abandoned purchases because checkout took too long or was too complicated. 40% said they’d left before buying to avoid creating an account first.
  • Free Delivery : 71% of Australian shoppers say that free delivery is a priority when ordering online, while only 19% prioritise fast deliveries.

What Aussie shoppers would like to see more of in online stores (Emarsys)

• Augmented reality features to try on products take the lead – 40 %

• In-app quizzes to ensure products are personalised to individual preference – 28 per cent%

• Having the ability to track down products worn by influencers/celebrities online and automated stylists that recommend products based on previous purchases – 26 %

Sources:

Savings.com Survey: https://www.savings.com/insights/consumer-shopping-preferences

https://www.warc.com/newsandopinion/news/aussie-shopping-preferences-survive-pandemic-but-online-migration-gathers-pace/44333

https://www.thebusinessconversation.com.au/news/2021/03/29/bigcommerce-reveals-online-shoppers-priorities-2021/1616978016

Ready to book your first free strategy session with us? But first, find out how we can help boost your eComm growth.

7 Traits Successful e-Commerce Entrepreneurs Share

Elon Musk was recently quoted as saying, “If you need encouragement, don’t be an entrepreneur”. While severely realistic (and a tad harsh), this merely states the tenacity and resilience it takes to face the struggles of owning and growing your own business with or without the pat on the back. Like it or not, small to medium e-Commerce businesses have to work harder than ever to cut through the noise and stand out from competitors who can afford bigger campaigns. Despite it being a great time to leverage the e-Commerce shopping boom, entrepreneurs have to consistently re-prioritise their focus and hone their instincts towards elements that actually work for the business against those that don’t.

Amidst the noise, there are identifiable patterns in the ways great entrepreneurs and leaders work. Here are 5 key traits that top eCommerce business owners share:

  1. They are obsessed with the customer online buying experience
  2. They continually optimise, experiment and improve
  3. They know their metrics inside-out
  4. They choose the right partners
  5. They understand the importance of adaptability
  6. They embrace change and are ready to change their opinion when new information is presented
  7. They are results-focused and solutions driven

In a space that never stops changing, successful online entrepreneurs make it a point to be aware of their own strengths, weaknesses, privileges, their motivators and the motivations of others as well. While the traits mentioned form the main pillars and characteristics being displayed repeatedly, the most successful entrepreneurs know that growth is an endless pursuit.

Being relentless at sharpening their skills, having an eagerness to collaborate effectively, validating the impact of their products and the insatiable need to create convenience for customers lies at the heart for most successful online business owners today.

Why a Great Discount Strategy Helps Elevate Your Brand

Your e-Commerce discount strategy shouldn’t make you look cheap. The truth is, more than 59% of online consumers look for discounts before buying anything, and more 64% do not make a purchase unless it’s on sale.

What’s the sweet spot between giving customers the incentive to hit ‘Buy’ and be seen as a bargain store? While discounts and coupons are an effective tactic to incite action, having a strong strategy behind your discounting i.e. understanding the objective behind your discounts, and knowing when and where to use discounts, will help customers see your sales events as an opportunity, not a devaluation.

💫 55% of consumers believe receiving targeted promotions and discounts would create a more enjoyable email experience (from Dynamic Yield). Customer focused promos like limited time early-bird discounts on new products or personalised abandoned cart discounts,  when used sparingly, will compel customers to take more action. 

💫  When you discount certain products, consider if you want to offer a percentage discount or dollar amounts. Always go with the option that has the highest perceived value. For example, use “25% Off” as opposed to “$5 Off”.


💫  Rewarding referrals in the forms of product samples or free gifts is a great way to get new customers into your funnel. According to ReferralCandy, 83% of satisfied customers are willing to refer products and services. But, only 29% actually do, so another way to do it would be to offer a discount to referral & referee. Win-win!

For more tips, keep on top of our blog updates.

Magento 1’s End of Life (EOL) and What This Means For Online Businesses

A platform upgrade brings with it all sorts of bright, shiny promises. It accelerates your plans to grow, rise above your competitors and provide your customers with the best experience possible. But for most e-Commerce business owners, making the move from one one e-Commerce platform to another (otherwise known as replatforming) can be extremely risky and costly. 

Without right planning and technical know-how, crucial customer data could be lost in the move, your hard-earned SEO rankings could disappear, and who knows what else. However, Adobe’s announcement 2018 of Magento 1’s end of life this year, has very well made a ‘nice-to-have’, inevitable for many online businesses. 

So it’s a no-brainer that the move is imminent. Though, as the reality of switching from Magento 1 to Magento 2 came into focus, it’s clear that this wouldn’t be a simple upgrade. To move from one to the other correctly, the steps required looks pretty much like a full migration.

Does this End of Life (EoL) spell the end for its businesses, too?

After the official date of June 30, 2020, Magento will no longer support Magento 1 (both Magento Commerce 1 and Magento Open Source), ending all support services, security patches and quality fixes for these systems. E-Commerce stores that choose to stay will suffer the risks of security hacks, spelling disaster for their hard-earned customer trust and loyalty. What else? Keep reading for the full list.

  1. No Security Patches

It goes without saying – the digital landscape is changing at the break-neck speed, forcing every linked system to change with it. When developers stop maintaining systems (in this case – Magento 1), the system will be more and more vulnerable to security breaches and with no solutions – it basically becomes a ticking time bomb.

  1. Missing out on upgrades and other e-commerce innovations

Magento 1 doesn’t come packed with the updated features that Shopify or Magento 2 have. People have set expectations from their eCommerce platforms, like speedy load time, real-time analytics, easy integration with other applications, extensive community, being able to scale easily etc.  Magento 1 is like living in the past. The future may be uncertain, you should at least allow yourself a fighting chance in the present.

  1. Lack of support

When there’s an emergency and you break the glass, usually some relief follows knowing that help is on the way. Sticking to Magento 1 means you’re left in the cold. You could be missing out on so many sales if your online store had to be put on the brakes just so you can fix one glitch and worst of all….you’ll be doing the troubleshooting blindly on your own. 

  1. Routine updates will start taking longer

As time goes on after the EOL, extension developers will stop maintaining their own plugins, meaning no updates, meaning…no edge over competitors, no enduring traffic and no more innovation for your store. A glitchy checkout process is never a good sign for customers. Not only will this add costs to your business but will also damage your brand reputation. 

  1. Goodbye, mission-critical third-party extensions

The 90s vibe may be trending aesthetically…however, if a store seems like it’s still operating on dial-up, it loses its appeal fast. The majority of developers who contribute to the ever-growing Magento Marketplace will eventually stop releasing Magento 1 extensions and themes. This leaves you in a position where you’d have to maintain, audit and fix any third-party extensions and themes – which isn’t a viable option for most busy business owners.

Are you one of the estimated 200,000 companies stuck in Magento 1? Need a migration without the migraine? Get in touch with us now.

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Aussie Consumer Behaviours During COVID-19

[Key Insights from Australia Post: Online Shopping eCommerce Industry Report 2020]

A new ‘not-so normal’ or a looming consumer trend that was just biding its time? Thanks to COVID-19, shoppers in Australia who once revelled in ‘popping down to the shops’ have found themselves becoming more and more accustomed to promo codes, online checkouts and delivery windows. 

According to the latest Australia Post reports, 5.2 million Aussie households shopped online this year – a whopping 31% increase from the previous year – while 200,000 Australians made their very first foray into the world of online shopping. It’s also helpful to note that Australians have a heightened love for sales events and speedy deliveries, with many purchases made centred around key dates and 20% next day deliveries.

More interesting takeaways from the report (April 30, 2020):

  1. Traditionally a quiet month for retail, April 2020 instead saw a 6.8% increase in online sales compared to the previous largest recorded period.
  2. 91% of all deliveries in April 2020 were sent to homes.
  3. Variety Stores were the biggest winners in 2019. Over 57% of Australian households purchased from this channel, accounting for 35.5% of total eCommerce purchases for the year.
  4. Purchases made on mobile have declined due to less commuting and less people being on the go. Laptop purchases have risen to 36% compared to 33% in the previous year.
  5. For March 2020, total retail spend (excluding cafes, restaurants and takeaway) was up 15.5% YOY, a growth largely driven by bulk purchases in food retail.
  6. Fashion shoppers are highly engaged when browsing online, spending an average of just over 7 minutes on websites, a minute or so more than beauty and cosmetics – and well ahead of the 4 minutes and 46 seconds that shoppers spend browsing for homewares and appliances.
  7. In the 8 weeks since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, eCommerce sales growth soared up by a whopping 80% year on year. 
  8. Regional areas in Australia accounted for the highest growth in specialty food sales, while city slickers ranked higher for liquor
  9. Fashion and apparel remains the most popular items bought online, followed by Home and Garden as the second most sought after category.
  10. Point Cook in Victoria retains its place as the suburb with highest volume in online bought goods for the fifth consecutive year.

So what does this mean for online business owners everywhere?

Clearly, online shopping is here to stay. The expectation of a smooth, undisrupted online shopping experience is a given, and any site that takes forever to load can be the dealbreaker that causes customers to look elsewhere. At this point, ensuring a smooth shopping experience alone could just well be the tip of the iceberg. If you’re looking at making the most of this, the key would be to center your marketing around your customer’s intensified digital behaviours to boost brand relevance, see where your product fits and find new audiences that need your products and services. 

At the end of the day, increased shoppers flocking online means more opportunity for your online business to thrive. However, that doesn’t guarantee you the piece of the pie unless you know exactly what you need to measure to help reach your goals, what to do with your customer insights, and what tangible actions will further that growth.

Own an online store? Some things to consider:

  • Are you ticking all the boxes to grow your online business or is your store as good as it gets? 
  • Are you making the most of this ecommerce uptake? What opportunities can you explore?
  • Is your store up to scratch and what are you doing to set yourself apart?
  • What are your current marketing goals actually achieving?
  • Are you striking the right balance between acquiring new interests and retaining existing customers?

See Australian Online Shopping eCommerce Industry Report 2020 here .