Direct-to-Customer Commerce

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Strategic insights into the direct commerce industry, including ecommerce, direct marketing and related fields

Our worldview casts a shadow in the words that resonate — Seth Godin

worth reading

Our worldview casts a shadow in the words that resonate

Seth elaborates on how our world view filters our understanding.

 

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Filed under: Uncategorized

Rationale v Emotion

You’ve probably read about the need to emphasize benefits rather than features in your advertising.

Another way of viewing that contrast is rationale v emotion.

Nearly everyone wants to think they make decisions rationally.  Just give me the facts.  I can assess them and come to the best decision for me, my family or my business.

The truth is not so black & white.

Sure everyone needs some facts.  But we look at those facts, so differently, from such different points of view, it’s almost impossible to predict, with accuracy, what the important facts are for every buyer.

You need to present enough facts so the prospective buyer can rationalize their decision.  But their decision is far more likely to be emotional — based upon perceptions, which you do not control.

So advertise using different themes to different markets.  Focus on different emotions.

You may even need to engage different members of your staff to lead these efforts, because even they are constrained by these different emotions and different perspectives.

Sometimes, marketers conclude they must select the single most effective strategy.

Maybe we need to select any, and every, marketing strategy that is profitable.

Filed under: Direct Commerce, Ideas, Opinion, , , , ,

How to improve the ROI on your marketing expenditures

Try to eliminate marketing expenditures, which reach non-buyers.

A huge percentage of your marketing expenses reach people who will never buy your merchandise or services.  While you may be able to ignore that fact, if your profit margins are high enough, you’ll do better if you know how to avoid spending marketing dollars sending your message to people who are not interested or have rejected your products.

We read a lot in the trade press about how to identify prospective buyers.  Maybe we should spend some time thinking about identifying known non-buyers.

If you can eliminate non-buyers from your target audience, the ROI on your marketing expenditures will automatically improve.

Filed under: Direct Commerce, Ideas, Opinion, , ,

9 Components of Successful Direct Commerce

These are the nine component systems, which should be in place, to execute a successful direct-to-customer retail commerce strategy.  The order is significant in only one point — marketing should be last.  But I’ve found this sequence is generally correct

  1. product master
  2. order management system
  3. single view of inventory
  4. warehouse management system
  5. product delivery
  6. content management system
  7. customer service
  8. web store
  9. marketing

In addition, this applies to e-commerce, brick-and-mortar, mobile, catalog — this is the infrastructure you need.

Filed under: Direct Commerce, multichannel commerce, Omni-Channel Commerce, , ,

6 Components of a Direct Response Fundraising Strategy

There are six components that result in an effective direct response fundraising strategy:

  • Donor Acquisition — inspiring someone to give the first time.
  • Donor Renewal — inspiring a donor to give a second time and then repetitively over an even longer period of time.
  • Donation Frequency — inspiring a donor to give multiple times each year
  • Donor Upgrading — stimulating donors to give larger amounts
  • Donor Longevity — encouraging donors to continue giving for years and years
  • Donor Recognition — saying thank you appropriately, to encourage continued giving

Filed under: Direct Response Fundraising, Ideas

Insights on Email Marketing

I don’t know anyone who does not feel like they get too much email.  So, if that’s true, how does it effect what you do in your email marketing.

I think it emphasizes three things:

  1. If and when possible, tie your emails to something happening in the news and put the link in the subject line.
  2. There should be a reason why your Call to Action is important right now.  Otherwise you email is just another of the hundreds of emails I get every day.
  3. If you cannot leverage one of the first two points, then inundate your customers, donors or prospects with your offer, repeatedly over some period of time — because all you can hope for is opportunistic matches between what your offering and your customers’ needs.

Just a little food for thought.

Filed under: Direct Commerce, Ideas,

More on Content Marketing

Content Marketing should prove that long copy sells.

It’s a myth that buyers don’t read long copy. In fact, buyers are the only people that read long copy — because they are interested. People who don’t read long copy are not interested in what you’re selling. So, don’t write for them. Write for the people who are interested in buying. They will self-select.

Filed under: Direct Commerce, Ideas, Omni-Channel Commerce, , ,

The Challenges of Direct-to-Customer Commerce

Where the market is today 

  • Direct-to-customer sales are growing faster than retail overall
  • The most profitable customers buy through multiple channels – store, catalog, online
  • Customers want a uniform brand experience across all channels
  • Debate of Sales/Use tax nexus and collections
  • Impact of shipping cost on order size, shopping cart abandonment
  • Advertising revenue for radio, newspaper is declining, while online ads are nearly sold out – based largely on the ability to target customers
  • Brands adapt to fit the direct-to-customer space

Where the market is going 

  • Channel conflict is losing its influence
  • As affluence increases, the importance of convenience grows
  • Direct-to-customer channel will continue to grow
  • Customers expect a online presence where they can research and buy
  • Customers expect to interact with the brand via email or online
  • Customers will post their opinions and stories about your brand online where everyone can read them
  • Merchants are still learning the nuances of customer acquisition, customer retention, life-time-value, and share-of-customer – all well established principles of direct marketing.

The problems of getting there…do it myself or outsource 

  • Running a direct-to-customer business is different than running a wholesale business or retail-store-based business.
    • Direct-to-Customer distribution is a different skill set than retail distribution
    • Assorted SKU cases v. unique SKU cases
    • Case picking v. Item picking
    • Residential delivery v. Commercial delivery
    • Merchandise planning
    • Demand planning & forecasting
    • Daily shipping deadline (when the truck pulls away)
    • Package presentation/merchandise presentation is important
  • Direct-to-Customer care is a different process than in-store service
    • Pre-sale product inquiries — what do these really look like and feel like?
    • Where is my order?
    • Returns & Exchanges
    • Anywhere, anytime
  • Direct-to-Customer technical systems operate on a different scale and at a different speed than retail systems
  • More exceptions, because we have less influence over customer behavior
  • Systems must support unexpected customer requests
  • Order volumes can be thousands per day, rather than hundreds per week
  • Pure volume of data explodes
  • Systems must be scaled and optimized to support intraday peaks of calls, orders, shipments
  • Use of multiple payment options especially the use Stored Value cards with credit cards.
  • Ability to customize marketing offers beyond the basic free shipping.

What you need to get there 

  • Execution expertise in the direct-to-customer supply chain
  • The ability to expand on short notice
    • Key stats on orders handled, calls answered, shipped sales, shipments
    • Network map
  • The ability to adapt your processes to support your brand
    • Technical integrations to web sites, ERP systems, data warehouses
  • Monitor and manage to meet or exceed your target Service Levels, improving customer satisfaction
  • Persistent effort to improve your processes and lower expenses

Filed under: Direct Commerce, multichannel commerce, Omni-Channel Commerce

Eight email failures … Seth Godin

Seth is a great observer and writer and he hit the nail again with this post:

Eight email failures (and questions for those that want to do better)

It’s not so much based upon any decisive research … but rather just a lot of common sense.  I think one of the burdens carried by the new generation of marketers, is the ease of using short cuts to the execution of marketing programs, and often the associated low cost of most digital-based messaging.

This short cut has allowed many marketers to be less discriminating about what works with whom and boasting about remarkable ROI’s because of the low cost.

Seth’s insights are worth examining … and marketing management should consider the impact of excessive digital marketing on the customer experience / satisfaction / annoyance.

Filed under: Direct Commerce, Opinion, , , , ,

5 Things to Put in the Shipping Box

Here’s a link to this post at Practical Ecommerce … click here

Armondo Roggio posted this late last month.  Of course, it’s not just about ecommerce, it’s really about anytime you’re shipping product to a buyer.

Here are his five things:

  • put coupons in the box
  • put free merchandise in the box
  • put a treat in the box
  • put a review request in the box
  • put a catalog in the box

Of course, I can make the case that for specific companies this list should change.  But Armondo makes the underlying point that the box you ship to your customers is very important.

For example … the treat or free merchandise may do more for your customer loyalty than a frequent buyer program

And the follow up question for Armondo is this:  how to you make sure your customer sees all of this material?  Do you put it on top of the purchased merchandise to make sure they see it?  Or, do you put it underneath … because the first thing they should see is what they bought?

And of course, it’s really easy to overthink this stuff, too.

Filed under: Direct Commerce, Ideas, , , , , ,

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