Archive for the ‘e-commerce’ Category

Non-profit organisation the eCommerce Foundation has today launched a free e-commerce benchmarking tool that aims to help businesses compare activity with competitors anonymously – and for free. 

The benchmark’s website takes the shape of a straightforward questionnaire, intended for B2B or B2C merchants and retailers.

Created in collaboration with software company hybris and product information specialist Unic, this is the first global initiative of the eCommerce Foundation.

To take part, simply visit the website, answer some questions and you’ll be given direct feedback on over 100 e-commerce KPIs.

You’ll then be presented with a report that covers four key areas:

  • Website: this relates to website traffic and its sources, conversion ratios, page views, bounce rate and visit length.
  • Financial: average transaction costs, ICT costs, fulfilment costs per order and budget allocations.
  • Internal Organisation: takes into consideration the positioning of the e-commerce department within the organisation, number of fulltime equivalents (FTE) per position and such.
  • Innovation: focus points for innovation, innovation plans and innovation budget allocation.

The foundation says that this provides participants with instant access to detailed information that is relevant to decision making at a board level.

These results can then be used to create a more accurate roadmap with targets that should help businesses to improve overall online performance, including stronger results.

As participants are able to enter the required data via a non-company address to ensure entire anonymity, each benchmark that enters the system is manually checked to detect any false data that might have been submitted and to ensure the benchmark remains true as possible.

Professor Cor Molenaar from Erasmus University and one of the eCommerce Foundation’s key supporters explained that retailers are understandably reticent about disclosing business critical data.

This has acted as a barrier to entry of any previous industry benchmarking tools, but security of data is paramount.”

Though this project seems to be fairly US-focused, this could prove to be a useful benchmarking tool for e-commerce businesses, though will become more so as participants grow. The only trouble will be policing it, since even manual checks can’t catch every mistake – purposeful or otherwise.

 Originally published by Vikki Chowney – E-consultancy

… pioneering initiative paves the way for retail revolution …

hybris, a global leader in multichannel commerce solutions, has announced the development of a new plug-in for its B2C Commerce solution, in association with the world’s leading family leisure, baby care and toy megastore, Toys “R” Us. The plug-in enables the retailer to link directly to customers searching for products through the Google Local Shopping (GLS) service with the reassurance that its product information and availability is completely up to date.

Local Shopping is a service offered by Google that is designed to bring together local stores and people who are shopping online. Retailers submit the products in their bricks and mortar stores through to Google, enabling them to reach out to customers searching for specific items, and communicating the availability and location of the product at a store close to their own location.

The hybris plug-in has been developed for Toys “R” Us (www.toysrus.co.uk) in partnership with Neoworks, hybris’ specialist ecommerce solutions partner. Neoworks has been responsible for integrating the hybris B2C Commerce platform for the retailer as part of its multichannel strategy in the UK.

Toys “R” Us delivers its stock figures directly from the mainframe each morning, and Neoworks processes these through hybris B2C Commerce in order to deliver three feeds directly to GLS. The first provides up to date details on the locations of stores in the UK, opening times, and other store information. The second confirms the product catalogue available through GLS, and the third is an update of prices and availability of products.

Will White, Head of eCommerce at Toys “R” Us, said: “The hybris plug-in allows us to maximize the Google Local Shopping service by ensuring that information available to customers is always up to date. We are particularly targeting customers who use mobiles to research and locate products, offers and availability of stock. This is an enhancement to our Click & Collect service putting our online customers in touch with our stores to locate and purchase products quickly and easily.”

hybris and Neoworks have further developed the GLS plug-in feature as a built-in function of the new version of the hybris B2C Commerce stack, which is due to be launched in December 2011.

Ariel Luedi, CEO at hybris: “The Google Local Shopping plug-in is a fantastic example of how we can maximise the combined engineering and product development expertise of our own and the Neoworks team. The feature is delivering rich data that enables Toys “R” Us to connect with a broader range of customers and attract them into stores across the UK. Our next step is to roll-out this feature across other European countries.”

Originally published by Hybris

Google prepara-se para lançar Google Offers

Google está a preparar o seu próprio serviço de ofertas diárias, que dará pelo nome de Google Offers. O projecto surge depois da tentativa da gigante tecnológica adquirir o site de compras colectivas Groupon por 6 mil milhões de dólares (mais de 4 mil milhões de euros).

«Um novo produto que ajuda os clientes a encontrarem bons negócios na sua região, através de um e-mail diário», é como é explicado o funcionamento do novo serviço, num documento publicado pelo Mashable. A Google confirmou que está num processo de recrutamento de pequenas empresas para participarem no teste de um programa de ofertas, uma iniciativa que demonstra o seu esforço em lançar produtos «que liguem negócios e clientes de novas maneiras», avança o Mashable.

Originalmente publicado na Marketeer na segunda-feira, 24 de Janeiro, 2011

Posted By: Stephanie Reese in The eMarketer Blog

Groupon’s quick success has spawned dozens of copycat daily deal sites, but will these sites continue to flourish? Only if marketers become savvier to the new breed of consumer in today’s digital world.

From a consumer point of view, the problems with the Groupon model are these:

Problem #1: Deals aren’t targeted enough. Groupon subscribers are offered great local deals, but “local” doesn’t always equal “relevant.” A recent visit displayed discounts on everything from jewelry to indie film club subscriptions to colon hydrotherapy sessions. (And let’s face it, some things, like sushi and Botox, just shouldn’t be purchased at a discounted price.)

Niche deal sites—like Plum District for moms and Scoutmob for hipsters—seek to solve this problem, though right off the bat they’re limited by scale.

Although it spurned Google’s acquisition offer, Groupon is taking a page from Google’s do-it-yourself ad-placement playbook in the next iteration it is rolling out. Groupon Stores will allow local merchants to set up deals for themselves without going through a Groupon salesperson. Customers will have the option to follow stores they like, and be alerted to new deals as they’re posted, which if used will make the process more customizable and the ads—potentially—more relevant.

Problem #2: Merchants lose control. Do marketers really need Groupon to blast their own deeply discounted offers (especially when they’re being charged a commission to do so)? Furthermore, wouldn’t they prefer to have control over the deal than cede it to a third party?

Gap, for example, has received lots of buzz as Groupon’s first national partner. While most observers saw the Gap deal as a success, Augustine Fou, chief digital officer at Omnicom’s Healthcare Consultancy Group, said in a Mashable post that the Gap effort “is a prime example of when NOT to use Groupon.” He said that the more press Gap got the more money they lost, estimating that the retailer was out at least $7.5 million from the campaign. Unless that money is considered part of an advertising budget, it’s a dingy deal for big-name national stores.

Once large retailers figure out how to do it, there’s nothing to stop them from hosting their own daily deals. Neiman Marcus, for example, has already followed in flash sales site Gilt Groupe’s footsteps by launching its own branded “Midday Dash” sales. Local retailers with smaller marketing muscles, on the other hand, might find a one-time Groupon run worthwhile for drawing in new customers.

Problem #3: It goes against consumers’ natural instincts. What’s amazing about Groupon is that in a world where consumers have become accustomed to instant gratification, they’ve managed to get people to pay for goods and services they might not cash in on for months—or (as was the case with a spray tan I purchased on a whim) for goods they’ll never remember to use.

Although merchants benefit from this arrangement because they don’t actually pay for marketing until they get a customer in the door, how many times can we expect consumers to take a gamble with their money?

To make their offers more enticing for customers, some deal-of-the-day sites have shied away from the group-buying model. Instead of promising retailers a certain return, they give subscribers a passcode that will get them a discount at the time of check out, or when the restaurant bill is paid.

My favorite example of this kind is BlackboardEats, which sends coupon codes to users for 30% off to a pretty fantastic range of restaurants. No payment up front, no buyer’s remorse and a friendly reminder of the specials you’ve acquired.

Plus, BlackboardEats only features restaurants selected by their staff of experienced food editors, giving it a more exclusive feel. Wonderful for diners—not so wonderful for restaurants when the discounts cut into their slim profit margins (although BlackboardEats, unlike Groupon, doesn’t charge restaurants a fee to participate).

Problem #4: Whether merchants will see return customers is questionable. The success of Groupon tells us that consumers are willing to try new products and brands, but these types of deal sites don’t necessarily encourage brand loyalty. After a consumer has received a great deal on flowers from one vendor, will they return to that same vendor, or look for a great deal on flowers from a vendor of seemingly equal quality?

According to Crain’s New York Business, some restaurateurs are convinced daily deal sites don’t work in their favor. “A lot of them are like mosquitoes on your back,” said Tracy Nieporent, a partner in Myriad Restaurant Group. “They suck your blood and give you a little sting, and they all perceive us as a way to make money.”

And it isn’t only restaurant businesses that are displeased. In fact, in a study done by Rice University, 40% of merchants said they wouldn’t run a Groupon deal again. (However, Groupon CEO Andrew Masonmaintains that 97% of participants want to be featured on the site again.)

For merchants whose goal is simply to bring in large numbers of new customers, Groupon-like deals work well. Scott Bankey, co-owner of the New York restaurant Nolita House can vouch for this. His “Buy $20 dollars worth of food for $10” deal with Groupon exceeded his expectations. His restaurant saw increased exposure through voucher-holders who brought friends, and he got to pocket the money from voucher-holders who didn’t show up at all, he told Crain’s.

Will Bankey participate again? Maybe, but he’s already begun running his own $10-for-$20 promotions, so what’s the point?

Problem #5: Groupon cheapens brands. Even if a consumer does become a fan of a product after purchasing it from a daily deal site, how willing will they be to pay full price for the jeans or gym membership the next time around? As Crain’s points out, Groupon feeds this kind of deal addiction, and as a result consumers will be unlikely to go where they can’t get a good deal.

That is, unless a brand has maintained prestige by never offering mass deep discounts in the first place.

The opportunity for marketers. As consumers become accustomed to never paying full price, merchants and retailers will need to react, without cheapening their brands in the mean time. Maintaining exceptional quality and providing great customer service will always help develop true brand advocates.

But smart brands that want to compete with Groupon will pay more attention to their returning clientele, and offer these best customers more generous and exclusive rewards. “You want first shot at deeply discounted unsold inventory? It’s all yours. A new coupon with every purchase? Here, have two. By the way, have you heard about our friends and family sale? Just keep the tweets coming, please.”

The bottom line: Consumers will always love a good deal. But they’ll also fall harder for their favorite brands when their loyalty is rewarded with great, exclusive deals.

Posted 15 December 2010 by Seth Godin in Seth Godin’s Blog

Some things sell for not much more than they cost to make. Things like steel.

Others? They sell for high multiples of cost. Spa services, fancy ties, long haul airplane tickets, coaching, books–these are things that might cost a bunch to set up, but once the factory is rolling, the marginal cost of one more unit is really low. The challenge, then, is to find a way to get new customers without alienating the folks that have paid full price. Even better, to turn those new trial customers into loyal customers.

One of the challenges of selling to new customers cheap is that you might end up with a price shopper, someone who is always cheap, someone who will never convert into the kind of customer your high margin business needs to survive.

Priceline was a pioneer in figuring out how to isolate one customer type from another. The reason the original Priceline was so incredibly difficult to use (with blind reverse auctions, etc.) was that they wanted it that way. Anyone who was willing to through that hassle and anxiety to save $100 bucks for a ticket on Delta was clearly not someone Delta was going to have an easy time selling a regular ticket to. In other words, Jay Walker had figured out how to create a second type of air travel. One for cheapskates. The alternative to Priceline was a bus ticket or no travel at all… And Delta was fine with offloading excess seats to them, because they didn’t have to worry about alienating their core customer.

Groupon is a very different thing. Here, it’s not a hassle, it’s the fun factor. Buying this way is exciting, you never know what’s next, you do it with friends, the copy is funny, it’s an adventure. As a result, many Groupon customers in fact do convert to becoming long time patrons of the place they tried, because they’re not inherently cheap shoppers. When they’re on Groupon they’re hunting for fun. But if you offer an astonishing product and great service after they try you, they may convert into shopping with you for the long haul, not because you’re a Groupon replacement, but because you bring them more than the alternatives.

And the magic basket? Tim Ferriss just finished offering more than $1600 worth of high-margin items in a basket to people who bought 30 copies of his new book. The marketing partners get trial among a group of people who are each paying more than the cost of a single item in the basket, these customers are proving they’re not among the ultra-cheap. And the products are quasi-aligned, appealing to the same sort of consumer. Is there a cheaper way for one of these companies to reach this precise person? I’m not sure there is.

Imagine taking this even further and leaving out the book part. A basket of aligned items, all high margin, none from the market dominator, each holding out the possibility of future business… You could do this with an 8 pack ofcomputer games or phone apps, or drink coupons from a dozen bars in the same town, or even clothing for guys size 38. Alex has experimented with this atSwagapalooza. I’m betting that there’s quite a lot to be done in becoming this market creator/differentiator/middleman.

What’s missing so far is an intelligent way to get permission, to follow up, to further organize those that do a trial and teach them and connect them so that they see a further incentive in sticking with the thing they just tried.

What’s also missing is a willingness on the part of high-margin marketers to use their products and these sort of interactions as a replacement for the unmeasurable and largely ineffective lifestyle advertising they use now.

The net, once again, is making it easier to find and organize tribes of people, even for short durations. When you intersect these aligned groups with high-margin products, you can create fascinating commerce opportunities.