Guest Post: Prospering in the E-Commerce Market

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There are many e-commerce stores popping up right, left and center. The online market is like “Perfect Competition” described in economic studies; in perfect competition, there are no barriers toand exit and no single player can influence price. It is very easy to set-up an e-commerce store but with thin margins and cut-throat margins it is very difficult to survive and prosper in this segment. Many e-commerce stores are closing down, and yet at the same time, new big players like Walmart are entering into the market by purchasing websites like Jet.com in multi-dollar deals! Amazon is continuously expanding and is now currently pushing to capture a greater market share in India. The market has potential but only for the most determined. For the small players right now, it is especially a daunting challenge, as the market is in consolidation stage and most of the big players are combing and pushing slower businesses out or buying them out.

So the point comes what can you do for success in the e-commerce world?

  • Digital advertising is the key to success

You need to stay up-to-date with the latest trends in online advertising, for it may look easy but it is actually quite challenging. Thanks to the advent of traditional Google ads will no longer cut it. Also charging your credit card on Facebook is also quite the expensive option and you cannot just rely on Facebook alone. So what do you do? You keep abreast of latest trends, for example right now Video ads are one way of getting around ad blockers.

Besides ad-blockers, video ads make more sense. Video consumption across devices has increased thanks to falling data charges in most countries and increasing smartphone and internet penetration.

  • Look inwards

Right now the e-commerce market is cut-throat. You can only maximize margins to a certain level. To stay competitive against giants you need to cut every possible cost. You need to look inwards and see where you can save money. Find a cheaper toll-free number, a cheaper shipping service or find ways to save on packaging. Negotiate better credit periods and see your bank charges and negotiate for each and every cent you can. It is difficult but every cent saved helps to add towards the bottom line.

This is especially a must for start-ups, often being helmed by fresh graduates who also have to worry about paying off their student loans. Every strive and profit you make out of your business not only helps you scale but also helps to get your personal finances in order avoid problems like delayed student loans.

  • Keep track of customer satisfaction rates

Customer satisfaction rates are often treated like a fire putting exercise. They often come into the limelight once sales start to fall. By then, restoring customer satisfaction and restoring goodwill lost becomes an uphill task. All businesses heavily rely on customer satisfaction thus one should keep a constant track it. Monitor your total sales and then draw up a meaningful sample that represents the whole population. Follow up with this sample and understand the customer satisfaction levels. Also keep a good track on customer reviews. Pacify disgruntled customers fast because they are the ones who are more active at commenting on public pages.

 

About the Author

Rachael Everly is an undergraduate student who loves to write on the topics related business, finance, technology and education. Follow @RachaelEverly for further updates

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Guest Post: 1202 Social Media Alone is Not Enough. Your Small Business Needs a “Big” Website

Social Media has truly been a game changer in how businesses connect with their customers. What used to be a cumbersome and expensive activity has been made very easy, but at the same time it has also become a constant battle for customer attention.

Social media has also helped the customers. It is much easier for them to connect with businesses. No longer do they have to rely on the traditional 1-800 number, enduring long hold times. They can simply post a question and then the business can answer them (within the same day hopefully). On the flip side, angry customers can post their scathing reviews for the world to see. Over all social media has really become a necessity for business if they want to stay valid in this world. And many businesses have been milking social media for all its worth, some even going as far as using it as a substitute for having a professional website. While social media is necessary for achieving success, especially for small businesses it can in no way substitute a business website. In order to truly milk social media, you have to pair it with a website.

Why do you need a big website along an efficient social media presence?

Recently Facebook added the sell feature on to pages, in short turning business pages into small business online stores. This feature again raised a slew of questions that why do we need a website anymore? You can even have a proper e-store running on a Facebook page. This question is especially asked by small businesses or start-ups who have limited budgets. Why should they put a strain on what are often shoe-string budgets to make a website, when they get almost the same level of functionality from a social media presence alone?

The market is not what it was 15 years ago

15 years back you could do without a website till you got to a level of financial success. However the market dynamics have considerably changed since then. Internet penetration in first world countries is especially at levels we had never nearly considered. And the speed at which the online world is expanding puts it a level where we can say that the virtual online world is one that exists in parallel of real one. It is that vast.

So if your business does not have a concrete presence in the online world then you do not appear as a credible business. Before we go anywhere, we Google it. If I only get Facebook page results, that makes your business look like an amateur set-up and makes it lose its credibility. Just like it is expected for a store to have a billboard, consumers expect businesses to have their own websites, just for the sake of contact details and address if not anything else.

Many years ago it used to be a shop front that served as the first impression of the establishment. Now it is the website that makes for the first impression. You need a good website to ensure you grab people’s interest and convert that interest into a sale.

A website is effectively your businesses own branch on the virtual world

You can put up your products up for sale on Facebook, but that is just like putting your products on some other store’s shelves. You cannot influence the environment of the store to shape customer experience. Your products are the mercy of someone else. You cannot control customer shopping experience on Facebook. Facebook even changes the themes when and as they wish. But a website is somewhere you are in full control and give the customer a shopping experience you feel would be the best way to market yourself. For example some e-stores do not opt for a traditional slider and go the “Tinder” way that is the customers view one product at a time.

Also a basic feature that having your own website gives you is recommending customers their next possible purchase, based on their present viewing history. This is something that you lose your products on social media.

Social media has also restrictions on photo sizes that you can upload. This may be a drawback as intricate details may be lost when you compress file size.

Also many people might not want to buy from Facebook, so not having a website means lost sales. And a website along with a brick and mortar store is the perfect combo. Your brick and mortar store gives the customers who want to “feel and buy” what they want and online customers get the feasibility of buying from wherever at whatever time they want.

A website is a business you control and shape

Unlike Facebook you are in complete control. How your business works in completely on you. Just like Facebook gives you a free “shelf” to display your products, businesses with successful e-commerce website have gone on to sell “shelves” on their websites. A website has a huge potential for revenue making and is only limited by your imagination. A small business gains by investing in a website as they gain the option of multiple income streams from one smart investment!

One last thing to mention is that it is very important you choose a professional company to do the development for you. This is because you might require after-sales services, and freelancers are not that reliable.

 

About the Author

Rachael Everly is an undergraduate student who loves to write on the topics related business, finance, technology and education. Follow @RachaelEverly for further updates

 

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One Big Step for Commerce, One Giant Step for Salesforce

Salesforce’s $2.8 billion acquisition of Demandware will serve as the company’s Commerce Cloud. Demandware and Salesforce have a series of joint customers. This acquisition will enable more e-commerce for Salesforce along with Salesforce’s customer relationship management tools. CEO’a are realizing the value of platforms vs. point solutions and the trend is going towards the vendors creating more holistic platforms that offer a continuous marketing, sales, service process. In truth, only companies separate those aspects of their companies into different departments. But customers don’t see a company as separate departments. So the departments really need to act as a whole and software as a platform can be the key to that.

The acquisition will grow the sales “funnel” for Salesforce. There is the possibility to expand the relationship with existing customers. So it gives Salesforce a new group of customers to upsell for the other services that it already offered, from marketing and online analytics through to back-office software for sales and other IT functions. Who is Demandware working with now? Some customers include Design Within Reach, Lands’ End, L’Oreal and Marks & Spencer.

With more and more people buying on their phone and online, commerce and e-commerce is more and more important. This is a smart move by Salesforce.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering customer-facing applications that make great customer experiences

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SAP Hybris -Commerce / IOT / CRM Event 2016

After attending the SAP Hybris IOT/ CRM event, I was very impressed to see a vendor really connect the dots between commerce and customer service and customer experience. Commerce is really where the rubber meets the road. At the end of the day, if the customer experience is poor, customers will abandon shopping carts and revenue will suffer. But SAP Hybris is helping customers handle this. SAP Hybris is looking to become partners with brands in their digital transformation. They deliver  customer data management, context-driven marketing tools and unified commerce processes for all a brand’s channels.

  • SAP Hybris Commerce Solution: This solution helps brands to target and engage with your customers better, wherever they are. As the world of commerce continues to change, this can give customers a consistent and meaningful experience – across every channel, every time.  The core hybris solution ranks consistently among the top commerce software platforms worldwide. Their B2B and B2C commerce applications include an Omni-Channel Offering, Product Content Management (also known as Master Data Management or Product Information Management), Order Managementhybris Marketing Conversion, and powerful search and merchandising. And Hybris, at its core, is omni-channel. The commerce software helps integrate all digital and physical customer touchpoints onto a single platform – including online, mobile, point-of-sale, call center, social media and print. Regardless of your industry, SAP can help to create contextual, personalized and relevant customer experiences that boost loyalty and increase sales. Brands can kick-start their commerce project in just a few months through the hybris Commerce Accelerator. Omni-channel solutions are pre-configured for B2C and B2B, and for specific regions and industries.
  • SAP Hybris Marketing: This solution combines superior customer insight with a highly agile and scalable platform. Brands can reach their customers at all points of their journey, and boost loyalty by responding to real-time data to deliver the best possible customer experience. Note that traditional marketing campaigns can fall short at engaging the individual customer. They can lack the basic knowledge of customer’s wants and needs and blast indiscriminate messages to the masses. However, Hybris Marketing enables marketers to develop a deeper understanding of customers; i.e., to know what they have done, what they may do and most importantly what they are doing now. Brands can gain real-time insights into the context of each customer and leverage these insights to deliver highly individualized customer experiences across channels. Here are some of the benefits:
  1. Understand Real-Time Customer Intents. Dynamically capture and enrich customer profiles across all sources into a single view, leverage implicit customer signals to gain insights into customer’s real-time intents
  2. Deliver Unique Customer Experiences. Convert ‘in-the-moment’ opportunities to dynamically deliver contextually relevant customer experiences across channels. Create new engagements to increase online community participation and customer loyalty
  3. Market with Speed and Agility. Proactively react to customer opportunities with increased visibility and alignment of the marketing process, resources, and performance.
  • Products for Billing: SAP Hybris Billing helps brands to monetize their digital transformation and renovate their revenue management processes with a highly agile and scalable platform. SAP allows customers to build flexible pricing models to meet their B2C and B2B customer needs as well as share revenues with partners of their business network.

SAP /IOT: Devices of all types now communicate over the Internet, creating unprecedented potential for sales and service in the utilities industries. IoT items include smart home appliances, thermostats, meters and monitoring software, cars, alternate power devices, irrigation technology, fleet vehicles, store sensors, networked sensors, and software integrated with machinery. All of these support a new and diverse collection of customers and consumers: more aware, expecting individualized service, and a radically changing the supplier/customer relationship. The connectivity and communication abilities of devices of all sizes will vastly change every aspect of marketing, delivery, and support of utilities, as it has done with other industries. Countries, cities, and individual consumers are making significant changes in their consumption and usage of utility-related resources. Some of these include:

>> More reliable connectivity, increased data availability, and lower price points make virtually anything connectible

>> Every business must now consider itself a digital business, regardless what product or service is being sold

> Every business must own its data and make it available across the organization and to consumers

Businesses are preparing for a future where software becomes more important than hardware and data becomes more important than products. A new generation of consumer (the prosumer) is becoming an active partner in the production and distribution cycle. What are the benefits?

  • Better use of a utility’s products and services, making consumption and customer relations healthier
  • The opportunity to upsell and/or to offer upgrades for newer, better, and more effective products and services
  • Predictive service based on warnings, alarms, or analytics sent by the devices themselves
  • Tailored pricing – flexible entitlements based on usage, frequency or time, and metering
  • Wider range of services– extension into new service areas
  • Enables direct conversations between customer devices and business platforms
  • Analyzes large quantities of data in real-time against defined business KPIs
  • Lower regulatory risk and cost of compliance through increased visibility and response.

The event was a very important one in the history of SAP. These are key aspects to the digital transformation of any company and SAP’s ability to help their customers transform key aspects of their business are critical. This is certainly not your grandpas’ CRM.

@Drnatalie Petouhoff

Covering Customer Experience, Marketing, IOT and Digital Transformation.

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Capgemini Announces Expanded Collaboration with Amazon Web Services

Capgemini Is Helping Clients to Migrate Application on AWS. Capgemini announced that it is dedicating more global resources to help enterprise customers build and migrate applications on Amazon Web Services (AWS). As part of its extended cloud services program, which includes cloud advisory, migration and managed business services, ‘Capgemini Cloud Choice with Amazon Web Services’ will see Capgemini further invest in its dedicated migration factory, leverage AWS technology and develop sector-specific IP solutions hosted on AWS.

How Big is the Team? The Capgemini migration factory for AWS, in Chennai and Bangalore, will support customers’ migration of enterprise applications to the AWS Cloud. More than 1000 professionals are anticipated to be trained across India, the UK, the US, Netherlands and France by the end of 2016. The migration factory will use the AWS Cloud Adoption Framework (AWS CAF) planning tool as part of its methodology to enable enterprises to migrate workloads faster and more efficiently to the AWS Cloud. 

A Note From the Executives: Terry Wise, Vice President of Worldwide Partner Ecosystem, Amazon Web Services, Inc. said: “We are delighted to be working with Capgemini as they expand their commitment to AWS customers including a dedicated migration factory. With our respective strengths and methodologies, Capgemini and AWS help enterprise customers become more agile in building and migrating applications, thereby accelerating their transformation to the AWS Cloud.”
What Are the Key Goals Of Capgemni’s AWS? A key goal of Capgemini’s increased focus on AWS will be to develop cloud advisory, migration to AWS and managed offerings specifically for the financial services sector, based on Capgemini IP hosted on the AWS Cloud. One of the offerings already available in this area is Capgemini’s Insurance Connect , a fully managed business service insurance platform which enables core processing, digital services and insights and analytics on AWS. For insurers facing significant variance in workload demands, access to the highly scalable AWS Cloud provides a cost-effective way to integrate functions (such as CRM, policy administration and underwriting) and increase computing capacity on a pay-per-use basis with minimal upfront investment.

What Other Industries Will Benefit from Capgemni and AWS? Asset-intensive industries (such as energy and utilities) will also benefit from the extension of this working relationship, as Capgemini already provides its Digital Industrial Asset Lifecycle Management solution  as a managed business service built on AWS. This on-premises offering is now also available on the AWS Cloud and provides an environment which can be up and running in as little as fifteen minutes. It gives access to a scalable and fast–to-deploy digital asset hub, enabling organizations to advance their digital transformation journey, as well as an accelerated path for improved health and safety compliance, reduction of project costs and improvement of operational efficiency. 

SAP Customers:Customers looking to migrate their existing SAP® solutions to the cloud or to adopt SAP® S/4HANA will also greatly benefit from this expanded collaboration between Capgemini and AWS, with the ability to either get on the latest release of SAP solutions, optimize their workload on the cloud or consume through an integrated delivery model. Also, Capgemini’s SAP certified BAiO (Business All-in-One)  industry specific and Line of Business IP solutions are now available on SAP HANA, optimized to run on the AWS cloud and allowing customers in most industries to be up and running in as little as 6 weeks.

How Long Has the Capgemini and AWS Relationship Existed? Capgemini shares a longstanding relationship with AWS which dates back to 2008, with both parties working to bring business solutions to enterprise customers leveraging Capgemini’s industry expertise coupled with AWS’s technology such as Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and Amazon Redshift. Examples of past innovations include Capgemini’s SAP OnePath and COMPLETE. Capgemini is a Premier Consulting Partner in the AWS Partner Network (APN).

Capgemini’s increased focus on AWS is an essential component of Capgemini’s Cloud Services program, ‘Cloud Choice’, enabled through collaboration with a broad ecosystem of cloud partners, and includes a range of services: Business Cloud Assessment and Strategy, proof of concepts, migrating applications to the Cloud, Platform as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service, Business Process as a Service and Cybersecurity. 

Want more details on the journey? A Note From The Executives: Franck Greverie, Capgemini’s Global Leader for Cloud Services adds: “The continued execution of our client-centric strategy demands even more targeted solutions and responses for our clients’ most challenging business demands. Cloud Choice with Amazon Web Services combines the strength of Capgemini’s Cloud Services global capabilities and delivery assets with the on-going technology innovation from AWS to continue to develop and deliver the right cloud solutions to our collective clients with speed, predictability, risk mitigation and sustainable business impact.” Click on this video link where Lanny Cohen, Group CTO shares his thoughts on the collaborative opportunities and the history of Capgemini’s seven-year alliance with AWS.

What Does This Mean To You Brand? Many companies are starting to realize the benefits of migrating their systems to the cloud. The question is how to get there. With this partnership, companies can be guided to move to the cloud. Where are you on your cloud Journey?

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research
Covering Cloud and IoT That Drive Better Business Results and Awesome Customer Experiences
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Mobile Customer Relationship Management: Mobile is the New CRM

Will The Mobile Device Ever Live Up to It’s Potential? Everyone in mobile commerce has been waiting to see mobile commerce take off. While individuals report it’s the one device they always have with them, the change in mobile commerce and CRM has not grown as fast at most experts expected – at least until now. There is a mobile customer relationship management company that is scaling fast. Intact, it has increased its revenues by 500% since their series A funding of $10M last  year. In addition they have added a new Chief Revenue Officer. The compHelpshift Logoany is call Helpshift. They are the first CRM solution built specifically for mobile applications.

HelpShift Is Adding New Team Members To Help It’s Growth: In addition, Helpshift also announced the appointment of Kevin Grant, seasoned enterprise and mobile executive from AT&T and Boku, as chief revenue officer, to advance Helpshift’s efforts in enterprise sales. Abinash Tripathy, founder and CEO of Helpshift was quoted saying, “I am extremely proud of Helpshift’s success thus far, and am excited about our future. The sky’s the limit and we have big plans for the rest of the year. Our focus is to keep growing the product and our position in the market. We’re thrilled to welcome Kevin to the executive team; his extensive client list and wealth of experience in the mobile space will only increase our current rate of success.”

With the addition of Kevin Grant to the Helpshift roster, the company is poised to continue its rapid growth. Grant’s experience working with Enterprise and Mobile industries will help solidify Helpshift’s customer base and triumphs in the market. Kevin Grant was quoted saying “Helpshift’s approach to mobile CRM is truly revolutionizing the customer service industry. It’s a great opportunity for me to work with such a smart group of leaders and engineers who are changing how merchants think about mobile customer care. I’m enthusiastic about the future of Helpshift, and look forward to helping our clients prioritize an amazing customer experience for their consumers. I love win-wins!

What is Helpshift? Helpshift is an in-app customer engagement platform that enables businesses with mobile apps to improve customer experience, drive higher ratings, and increase retention. Helpshift’s SDK allows companies of any size to have a direct in-app conversation with their customers. To date, Helpshift is installed on more than one billion devices and serves 300+ million mobile customers monthly, resulting in 70 percent faster resolution times. Just two years ago, Helpshift began as a small group of engineers in India and a small sales team in San Francisco. Helpshift now has a team of more than 50 engineers in India, and well-established account management, finance, customer success, sales, and marketing teams in San Francisco.

Why Is Helpshift so Important?  The companies that are making a fortune in the new mobile economy have sewed an exceptional customer experience into the very fabric of their company. Support doesn’t just add value — an exceptional customer experience is the value. But the current support solutions were never intended to support the mobile experience – you can’t pour motor oil into a jet engine and expect it to fly, and CRMs and helpdesks just don’t meet the needs of mobile users. Which is an issue, since there are more apps competing for a brand’s customer’s homescreen every day. The world is moving to mobile and shoving a web view into a native app isn’t good enough. Helpshift wants to offer businesses the ability to provide that unparalleled experience wherever their customers are. Helpshift makes it easy to create that exceptional experience in native mobile apps, transforming customers into the most passionate sales team you could hope for, and loyal for life.
Who Are Some of HelpfShift’s Customers? Helpshift has built applications for Target, DoubleDutch, Clash of Clans, Outlook, Family Guy and Mercari.

What Does Pricing Look Like? Helpshift has everything from the freemium model, with 10,000 users and 1 team members to 300,000 users and 3 team members to custom pricing.

With the mobile device being the one we all carry with us, it makes sense that increasing that customer experience would be key. Looks like Helpshift is out to make that a reality!

@DrNatalie VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Don’t forget to enter the Super Nova Awards!

 

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New Report: Delivering Top Experience Management across the Web, Mobile and Commerce

In this new report we look at some of the key concepts for defining the elements required for superb experience management in the digital business disruption era. Clients can use document as a source for planning and work closely with both the business and technical teams to ensure success to deliver on the brand’s promise. It is especially important as the shift to digital marketing and commerce as well as mobile interactions brings a massive transformation to how brands and organizations engage prospects and customers. For many organization’s customer experience management is a major pillar in their efforts to engage and retain their customers and partners.

There are many points along the customer experience journey where something could “fall through the cracks” and not meet expectations. Market leaders realize the future requires proactive digital enablement of the business to support the future strategy of their organizations. The challenges to driving integrated customer experience management include:

While are most brands are recognizing they need to provide superb, integrated experience management, challenges include the conceptualizing, creating, executing delivering this integrated experience, and in particular integrating the website, social, mobile and commerce experience and interactions. The perception that creating a superb customer experience is easy, is the downfall of most organizations.

While most leaders understand that they need to deliver on superb experience management, organizations often can not move fast enough for three reasons:

  • Outdated systems and platforms that can not delivering on an integrated customer experience. Most brands, when they began CRM or their experience management strategy, did not anticipate the need to integrate the website with mobile and commerce. Often each of those disciplines were owned by different parts of the company and rarely did they speak, much less put their heads together to figure out how to deliver on an integrated approach. Thus, brands are left with legacy, point solutions that leave much to be desired.
  • Technology platforms didn’t provide truly integrated. Frequently brands tried to bring point solutions together, often hiring system integrators and management consulting firms to integration those solutions. But unless a platform is built with it’s very core centered on driving more than the old CRM (transactional customer relationship management), hundreds or millions of dollars or more were spent trying to piece technology together, only to result in thwarted attempts to create experience management across channels like web, mobile and commerce.
  • Organizations lack leadership and governance for experience management success. Excellence in experience management requires a cross-functional team strategy, but because companies have functioned in silos, this is more the exception than the rule. Along with a team and strategy, experience management requires budget decisions, often shared among various functional areas. Budget is never an easy topic, but experience management is pushing organizations to face these difficult conversations. New roles and expertise will also be required, with skill sets that span more than one functional area.

 MY POV: The solution is to formalizing an interdepartmental, multi-functional department collaboration using strategy, technology and best practices for customer experience management. As brands realize experience management is key to their overall strategy and long-term growth, Constellation Research recommends considering the following to deliver an integrated web, mobile, social, email and commerce experience:

  • Decide Who Will Lead The Experience Management Strategy: A Competitive Advantage
  • Choose Multi-disciplinary Skill Sets for Chief Experience Management Officer
  • Evaluate Experience Management Technology and Integration
  • Consider an integrated, interconnected technology platform
  • Strive for unity among channel connectivity
  • Use predictive insights to deliver real-time, optimized responses
  • Evolve commerce with interaction and behavior pattern analytics by putting big data to work

Unfortunately, in almost every segment, Constellation estimates that the top three competitors control from 43 percent to 71 percent of market share and 53 percent to 77 percent of the profits. In the technology space, only 80 companies since 2000 have made the billionaire’s club in annual revenue. Meanwhile, intense competition, short-term shareholder and management thinking, and minimal investment hamper the pace of investment and innovation required by business leaders to survive today’s competitive landscape.

Percentage of Profit Rays Book

It’s time to get serious about customer experience, social and digital media. Here’s a link to the report.

@drnatalie, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research, Covering Marketing, Sales and Customer Service to Deliver Amazing Customer Experiences

 

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4 Factors that Drive Great Customer Experience And Commerce

We just finished some new research that shows the correlation to customer experience and commerce / revenue. Below are some of the highlights of the research and a link to a snapshot of the paper is here.

The Four Factors that Drive Superior Customer Experience Engagement

1. Know who the most profitable customers are online

  • Stat: Only 52 percent of U.S. and 53 percent of U.K. brands were very effective in knowing who their most profitable customers are.
  • This means that nearly half of their time is spent with the wrong customers (low value) or, if they are spending time with the right customers, the customer experience does not provide a high conversion rate.
  • Thus, brands require a new approach.

 2. Know where (which channels) their high value customers are coming from.

  • Stat: Only 58 percent of U.S. and 48 percent of U.K. brands were very effective in knowing where (which channels) their high value customers are coming from.
  • In this context, channels include social media, websites, search engines, etc. Basically, brands are guessing at where to spend their marketing and ad dollars to provide the highest return on investment.

3. Know which high value products customers are interested in.

  • Stat: Only 59 percent of U.S. and 56 percent of U.K. brands were very effective in knowing which products customer are most interested in.
  • Consequently, brands may not be displaying the best products to the highest value customers, thus losing revenue and profits.

4. Know which high value products customers have viewed.

  • Stat: Only 60 percent of U.S. and 56 percent of U.K. brands were very effective in knowing which products customer have actually viewed.
  • When brands understand the customer’s journey, they can direct their spending and messaging to the moments of maximum influence.
  • When they do this, they will have a much greater chance of reaching customers in the right place at the right time with the right message, producing higher conversion rates.

How does your company stack-up compared to these companies? What have you done to improve your customer experience so that it results in better revenue and customer experiences?

@drnatalie, VP and Principal Analyst, Covering Marketing, Sales, and Customer Service to Great Amazing Customer Experiences

References:
Harris Poll Research and Primary Constellation Research

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Continuity of Customer Experiences Drives the Future of Commerce

Continuity of Customer Experience Drives the Future of Commerce. I just finished some new research on how improving online customer experiences boosts customer loyalty and revenue in matrix commerce. This survey report provides online businesses with insights into e-commerce challenges, tools used for success, and plans for e-commerce usage in 2015-2020.  The goal is to ensure better experiences and understand what experience-driven continuity means to online business leaders, learn how organizations rate their own brand’s online experiences today, discover what they do to engage with customers across devices, and find out how organizations would rate the emotional connection that customers have with their brand online.

How End Users Should Use This Information: Clients should use this document as a best practices guide in planning for the developing online customer experiences required for success to drive enhanced revenue in matrix commerce initiatives. Here are 6 Pillars of Customer Experience and here’s a link to a snapshot of the paper:

Here’s more of the details of what we learned:

Six Pillars of Customer Experience Commerce Must Haves

Start in one channel, finish in another.

  • Stat: Only 29 percent of U.S. and 22 percent of U.K. brands reported that it was extremely easy for their customers to start the buying journey in one channel (e-mail, chat, video chat, mobile chat, co-browsing, etc.) and complete the purchase in another channel
  • Customers expect to start the buying process in one channel and finish in another of their choosing.
  • It is paramount to reach out to consumers at the moments that most influence their decisions.
  • If a customer cannot easily transition from one channel to another in the buying process, a company will not be able to reach out to the customer at the moment the customer has questions, wants advice or needs help in making a decision.
  • The customer journey must involve continuous interactivity and a two-way conversation with the brand at the right time, with continuity at its core.

Start on one device, finish on another.

  • Stat: Only 35 percent of U.S. and 23 percent of U.K. brands reported that it was extremely easy for their customers to start the buying journey on one device and complete the purchase on another device and keep all the information for the order correct and complete.
  • Customers expect to start the buying process on one device (desktop computer, tablet, smartphone) and finish on another.
  • Leaders should make the business case for not only the technology to make it possible to start the buying process on one device and finish it on another, but also the staff and the training for them to help customers when they transition from one device to another.

Proactively deliver contextual agent assistance during the purchase process.

  • Stat: Only 46 percent of U.S. and 48 percent of U.K. brands could provide excellent agent or human-assisted service through voice and chat while keeping intact the context about the customer’s search, previous purchases and likely purchases.
  • Stat: In addition, only 49 percent of U.S. and 41 percent of U.K. brands could anticipate when a customer may need human assistance while on an e-commerce site.
  • What this means is that brands are not able to provide the human touch often required to close a purchase or understand the context of customers’ potential purchases and help them make the best choice.

Create performance reports viewed as a dashboard or downloadable for reporting and analysis.

  • Stat: Only 51 percent of U.S. and 34 percent of U.K. brands had technology that could provide a variety of e-commerce/website performance information as a dashboard.
  • Without an easy way to look at analytics, the numbers can be lost on many people.
  • Actionable insights must be provided in a dashboard fashion, with trends and easy-to-interpret “next best actions” in order to optimize e-commerce conversions.
  • Stat: In addition, only 50 percent of U.S. and 34 percent of U.K. brands had technology that provided them with site performance reports that were downloadable for reporting and analysis.
  • Without this capability, it is difficult to communicate to senior leadership about the trends, the progress or what is needed to convert more sales and drive higher profits.

Detect if customers need pre-purchase assistance and then support them and send help.

  • Stat: Only 27 percent of U.S. brands and 19 percent of U.K. brands reported that it was extremely easy to send the customer help.
  • When respondents were asked if they were able to detect when customers need pre-sales or pre-purchase support, the survey also asked them how they were able to determine the customer’s need.
  • The breakdown of how respondents currently can determine (or not) whether customers need help indicate a very rudimentary approach.
  • The way brands currently are able to determine if a customer needs pre-sales help is if there is general movement throughout the e-commerce site pages because they are toggling between products or because they are on a page for a long time.
  • Brands need to be smarter than this and the right technology can help here.
  • However, if the brand is not able to reach out to customers with the right information at the right time, it is unable to convert these in-need customers in time into purchasers.
  • The various forms of assistance included being able to send a knowledge base article or offer a proactive, pre-sales chat designed to stop the customer from abandoning the site or the shopping cart.

 Get high lead conversion rates from demand generation content.

  • Stat: In order to secure the resources for content marketing to generate demand for products, brands need to be able to have a high lead rate for the content they create.
  • This means that brands do not understand what type of content customers need to make up their minds and purchase the product. Content generation can be expensive and require additional staff.[2]
  • Content is not something to be taken for granted. It takes budget, people, and process to deliver relevant content to engage customers and drive commerce.

Next Steps?  Have you gotten your customer experience in shape so you can ultimately drive revenue and commerce? If so, what did you did you do? What do you think most brands are missing on this topic?

@drnatalie, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research Covering Marketing, Sales and Customer Service to Create Amazing Customer Experiences.

References

[1] Harris Poll Survey and Constellation Primary Research.

[2] How to Staff the Team for Effective Content Marketing: From Ad Hoc to Professional, Learn What It Takes to Staff for Success, Constellation Research, Dr. Natalie Petouhoff and R “Ray” Wang, April 10. 2015

 

 

 

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Excerpt from “Like My Stuff”: Why Do Business on Facebook?

Why is it important for brands to have a Facebook e-commerce capability? Mike Fauscette, an Analyst at IDC Consulting says, “In three to five years, 10 percent to 15 percent of total consumer spending in developed countries may go through sites such as Facebook.”

 

Why might Fauscette make this prediction? Facebook users spend 700 billion minutes per month in an active, relaxed environment. The average Facebook user is connected to 130 friends. They belong to 80 interest groups. Through their detailed profiles and by posting on average 90 pieces of content per month, Facebook users make their preferences known. Word-of-mouth (WOM) recommendations or buyer-beware messages are prevalent.

 

Today’s social customer is not shy about posting their thoughts about a brand, its products and services, or the experiences they have with the brand. The unique selling opportunities Facebook can offer has gotten the attention of digital marketer’s and PR professionals. As social media plays an increasingly more important role in purchasing decisions, brands are allocating larger parts of their marketing budgets to engage with their consumers on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

 

Many brands, big and small, are wondering if they should go down this path. How is this different than the e-commerce they already offer? And does f-commerce mean that you have to get rid of your traditional e-commerce platform? Are there pitfalls to social commerce or commerce on Facebook? It’s these and other questions we will address in this e-book.

 

Be Where Your Customers Are

For many brands, Facebook is where their customers are online. And the mantra in social media? A brand needs to be where their customers are within the social net. A brand can’t expect that their customers will come to them (or their site.) The theory of f-commerce is that customers should be able to buy wherever and whenever they like. If they are on Facebook then they should be able, among many other things, to purchase products while they interact with their friends and family.

 

Some people have questioned whether it’s even possible to sell customer products in the midst of them using Facebook to catch up with their friends and family. Perhaps that’s all people want to do while on Facebook, i.e., they don’t want their social network to sell them stuff while they are socializing. And if that is the case, then perhaps brands should keep their commerce offerings on their e-commerce sites.

 

However, while some people are of the opinion that people visit Facebook just to catch up with their friends and family, a  JWT (James Walter Thompson) study showed that 48 percent of millennials (aged 20–33) would like to buy directly on Facebook from the places they shop. In a another study industry study, 25 percent of customers aged 18–34 years old stated they use Facebook to interact with merchants. How many companies are planning to increase their funding for social commerce according to this study? Ninety percent will increase funding for social commerce initiatives by 8 percent.

 

There is a trend, and that trend is the blending of social networks with e-commerce. The skill with which brands do this will directly affect the success not only for their own individual brand, but for the industry as a whole. If social networking shopping sites are not delivered in the spirit of what the customer wants, it will fail. If not for this point alone, brands need to pay attention to f-commerce as an example of how shopping can be integrated within a social network.

 

The Future of One-Stop Facebook Shopping

So let’s say you have a vacation coming up. You want to look for good rates on airline tickets. What’s the difference between logging onto an airline website vs. being able to research and purchase tickets inside of an already established social network? First, you may want to ask your friends what airline they flew on, how the service and food was, and what to watch out for. You might find that information on a travel site, but you may not be able to ask your friends their opinions.

 

So the point is that when you are on a regular e-commerce site you may be just getting the “take” from people you don’t actually know. This input is important, because you aren’t just trusting the brand’s marketing spin. You are getting the take of other human beings. But on a social networking site you are connected to your friends and your friends know you and the things you care about the most. You also might want to make plans with a group of people and instead of sending a bunch of e-mails, you might want one place for everyone who is going on the trip to chime in, to plan, and to orchestrate the festivities. Doing so could make coordinating lots of people easier and fuel the enthusiasm for the trip.

 

If you went the traditional route, you’d think about which airline you think you’d like to travel on. You might also think about your favorite travel site, knowing that there are a number of them that aggregate fares and try to provide the best possible deal. So you make your choice and log onto the airline or travel website.

 

Hopefully you’ve saved your log-in name on the computer you are on or you can remember it. It might depend on whether you’ve been to that site before or not. That might also depend on whether you have an account with them or not. If you can’t remember your log-in name then you have to either ask for a password reset or log in as a guest. The first option takes time. Not a lot of time, but it can “feel” like a hassle with all the sites and passwords we all have these days.

 

Once you’ve chosen that path, then you start your search for dates and times for your destination. Once you’ve researched that, you choose a flight and pay for it. Then there’s the step of entering the payment information. That entails your credit card or PayPal-type account information, your billing address and TSA information. If you are renting a hotel and/or a car, that same payment scenario might have to be repeated for each of those transactions unless it’s integrated.

 

In this short scenario, using Facebook could help to lessen the hassles of the travel transactions. With Facebook’s f-commerce tools, you could get the opinion of your friends about each travel item: airline, hotel, car rental, even restaurants in the area. Then you could just hit a Facebook button for each—either while on your laptop, desktop, tablet, or phone and be on your way.

 

Why? Because you are already logged into Facebook, and so have a community of like-minded people to help. Then, since your identity and payment details are already authenticated within Facebook, completing the transaction is as simple as pushing a few appropriate buttons.

If your business could take advantage of f-commerce to make your customer’s experience as quick and easy as possible, think about the spike in revenue you’d get.

 

Social Network Fatigue and Opting for F-commerce

The business decision to use Facebook as part of your e-commerce strategy depends on where you think your customers are going to be online. With more potential consumers on Facebook than there are people logging into eBay and Amazon combined, many companies are betting on the fact that once customers are in Facebook they won’t want to leave to shop. With the number of sites people log into each day, this may well be the trend of the future—meaning that people are starting to suffer from social network fatigue.

 

The reasons for this fatigue include how time consuming it is to log into a bunch of different sites as well as to remember your passwords. Another contributing factor is time allocation. One of the things that most people don’t talk about is the amount of time out of their life social networking takes. While it may be easier to keep in touch with more people and see what is happening with them via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn, it does takes time out of one’s day.

 

Having too many social networks means that people may not want to go to a bunch of different sites or URLs. If people have the choice to log into one place to interact with their friends and family and then are required to go to other places to shop, they may opt to participate in a social network that includes not only their favorite brands, but also the ability to buy products and services from them.

 

How Facebook Could Provide Better CRM

Knowing who the people are and details about them allows Facebook to provide customers with an interesting and entertaining online experience, but also provides businesses with information on likes, dislikes, and preferences in the context of their personal and professional relationships. This is different than the data businesses have gathered from traditional Customer Relationship Management or CRM systems.

 

CRM is an acronym that stands for the relationships companies build with their customers during and through the process of marketing, sales, and service. Having social data augment the CRM system could constitute what many call social CRM. While there isn’t any one vendor that truly provides best-in-class social sales, social marketing, and social customer service all in one suite, the concept of combining social data with traditional CRM data could be the missing link to driving more customers through the marketing funnel and getting a return on investment for social media.

 

Facebook Social CRM
Social networking sites like Facebook have massive amounts of individual and social crowd data. That data means something because people have signed up using their real identity. In forums or other crowd-oriented communities, people sometimes remain anonymous. So one of the first advantages of f-commerce is that people are using their real identities.

 

In addition, Facebook started as a site to connect with other people and part of finding people to connect with is to see what they have in common other people. Most people who put up a Facebook page include some personal preference information. This initial data can be very important to companies in understanding their customer’s behavior through knowing about their hobbies, what they like in music, food, travel, and a wide variety of other interests.

 

Companies using Facebook as a marketplace not only have people who have identified themselves, but also user data and analytics that reveals what people talk about, and with the right analytics a business could extract even more data about them as potential customers.

 

Many businesses have just focused on using that data to display hyper-targeted ads. And while there is value for this, the idea that Facebook could be an online virtual mall where friends ask friends what to buy, share what they bought, and thereby influence word of mouth is a reality for many brands.

Like My Stuff_Guide To Facebook Commerce by @DrNatalie Petouhoff

Facebook’s Potential for One-to-One Marketing

One-to-one marketing has long been the dream of many marketers. In fact two of my favorite authors, Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, wrote several books about it, including The One-to-One Future: Building Relationships One Customer at a Time, and The One-to-One Fieldbook: The Complete Toolkit for Implementing a 1-to-1 Marketing Program. The theory was that with competition for customers fiercer than ever, with products and services only a mouse click away, with so many choices, and with many products becoming commodities, customers’ loyalty changed. As a result, the way a brand could attract and keep customers would be to personalize how they marketed and sold to a customer. That field of endeavor became known as one-to-one marketing.

 

While most brands bragged about how customer-centric they were, in reality many were at a loss for identifying and attracting a loyal and profitable customer base. CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems back in the late 1990s were supposed to provide the infrastructure necessary to support one-to-one marketing. There was a lot of marketing hype around the features, functions, and benefits of CRM software.

 

The issue with CRM systems then was that they were more like a CTM, or customer transaction management system. They didn’t have all the rational database information that marketers could readily use to provide personalized relationship marketing and certainly not enough of the personalized, one-to-one marketing data.

 

Most companies implemented operational CRM, meaning they had a database of contact information about their customers. And that information definitely helped with marketing. But most companies didn’t deploy analytical CRM, meaning the type of CRM that would provide the analytical wisdom about your customers to enable one-to-one marketing and sales. Out of the frustration for the lack of that data developed the field of business intelligence or BI. Separate BI point vendors began to specialize in gathering and mining data about customers to be used to drive customers through the marketing funnel. An industry that was successful at this was the Las Vegas casino system. They developed loyalty programs that could measure the offers sent to customers and subsequent behaviors. Studying these patterns allowed marketers to direct their one-to-one marketing efforts very effectively. But most industries failed to excel in one-to-one marketing.

 

Fast forward to today, where we now have Web 2.0-type technologies that allow interactions between brands and customers. With the enhanced Facebook Open Graph API and supporting tools that it announced in April 2010, Facebook can be seen as a social CRM system. This is especially true if you define CRM as the opportunity to do personalized, one-to-one marketing, sales, and service. What has been missing in CRM is the relationship between the customer, their likes, dislikes, and their friends and family in a context where their reactions and comments are honest, authentic, and updated daily.

 

Facebook API: A Graph of What People Care About

Imagine that Facebook is a graphical representation of connections between people, photos, liking, sharing, commenting, shopping, and the interrelatedness between them and their friend and family relationships liking, sharing, commenting, and shopping. If you took a picture of each of those things and pasted it on a piece of poster board, you’d have a visual representation of that person’s life and what’s important to them as well as poster boards of their friends and families and what is important to each of them as well as the overlaps in interests. This is called a “social graph.”

 

Facebook offers businesses a way to connect to that information via an API. An API is an acronym for application programming interface. Instead of having to write a bunch of complicated code to connect to the data, you just have to connect to the API. The API provides a much simpler way to access the information.

 

The Facebook Open Graph API allows you to easily access all public information about a person. This means that it can retrieve the likes and interests of your customers, and your customer’s Facebook connections. And thus the social graph data provides marketers new ways to understand a customer’s preferences, passions, and connections and by doing so allows a brand to create a personalized experience with each and every customer.

For instance, a customer might live in Los Angeles, listen to Sting, work at Citibank, ride bikes along the Santa Monica Pier, eat at the Cheesecake Factory in Marina Del Rey as well as connect with their network of friends and family. With the Facebook Open Graph API, brands can make personalized offers to that individual based on the information he or she has shared on their page.

 

Deals that might interest this customer are mortgages or refinancing information from Citibank, coupons for free drinks at Cheesecake factory, a sale on bikes or bike accessories, and a special appearance by Sting on the Santa Monica Pier. With contextualized data like this, brands can customize their marketing campaigns based on the information customers share about themselves.

 

Another example is that a brand might show the upcoming birthdays of Facebook Friends as well as their gift Wish List. How would a brand populate this list? The brand can access that friend’s profile data, which might include a list of their favorite electronics, clothes, food, and music as gift suggestions. Normally, it would have to create a system that would ask the customer directly about their favorite items, then get permission to use this information. The Social Plug-ins, mentioned earlier in this chapter, allow a brand to build the social graph by seeing what the customer “Liked” on Facebook. That is assuming the customer opts to share this information publicly among their own individual group of friends. Brands seeking to use this information would need to ask the Facebook member to share this information with them as well.

 

The downfall to getting data is the individual Facebook privacy setting. Each Facebook page’s privacy settings are handled and decided upon by the customer who owns the page. Customers are asked to provide permission to allow their page to be seen by the brand. This determines who can see what. I’ve included some screenshots in the case studies in the following chapters so you can see how brands ask for permission to see what a customer is talking about.

 

Dr. Natalie: voted Top 20 In Social Media HuffPo
Dr. Natalie’s ebook: voted as one of the Top Ten Most downloaded Social Media ebooks- On smROI

Click here to watch my videos on Social Media ROI:
Video 1: Building the Business Case for Social Media
Video 2: How to Measure the ROI of Social Media
Video 3: How Social Media Benefits the Whole Company


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