Direct-to-Customer Commerce

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

Mobile Commerce Trends … real data

The Elastic Ecommerce Blog has a great post on mobile commerce trends.  It shows real data over 20 months … and the growth rate is dramatic.

This makes a great case for knowing whether your customers are part of this mobile trend.  And if they, you should do something about it.

Filed under: Direct Commerce, Ideas, , ,

10 Ground Rules for Content Marketing

Useful reading about Content Marketing by Ann Handley at Marketingprofs.com.  These rules also apply to Social Media Marketing.

Filed under: Ideas, , , ,

The fifth step to multichannel commerce

Step five is building a content management system … a nice overview of CMS appears in Wikipedia — click here.

The principle idea behind CMS is to both capture all the content you develop about your company, your products, your services, your people, etc.  And make it available, in a consistent way, for use in any media.

Of course, the most common use is on web sites and in emails.  But it can also be used in the social media … and should be.  Because at its essence, social media is a private publishing solution, which enables you to build your own subscriber base, present your own content, and advertise your own company.

Thus, content becomes a significant asset, which should be created, maintained and leveraged as much as possible.  A CMS enables these functions.

When you consider how difficult it can be to create good content for your company, and the increasing opportunities to leverage that effort across multiple media for multiple purposes, the obvious value of content management simply explodes.

Filed under: Ideas, multichannel commerce, Opinion, , , , , , ,

Big Data v Small Data

Here’s a link to a great post on this point from Kevin Hillstrom’s blog:  MineThatData

In very elegant terms, he shows how Big Data fails because people can’t comprehend it and the ability to utilize Big Data is beyond the capability of most people.  So you need to make the most of whatever you have … and then communicate it well.

Great post.  You should sign up for Kevin’s blog.  He’s full of good material.

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

What’s the impact of the new FedEx rates?

Parcel Magazine has published a piece entitled, Assessment of 2012 FedEx Express Rate and Accessorial Increases.

If you ship via FedEx, this is a worthwhile read … and then adjust your forecasting shipping costs based upon the noted increases.

Filed under: Direct Commerce, News, , ,

The fourth step to multichannel commerce

Step 1 = a single, unified product master

Step 2 = a cross-platform, multi-channel order management system

Step 3 = a single view of inventory, updated in near-real-time.

Step 4 = a warehouse management system capable of item-unit-picking and parcel shipping (fulfillment processing)

More and more warehouse operators are coming to an appreciation of the differences between shipping to stores and shipping to consumer.  For those who don’t, the most typical problem is that both processes use similar terms, but the definition of the term varies with the environment within which you’re working.

Picking for a shipment to a store, is often at the case level.  Picking for a consumer is almost always at the unit level.  A case contains multiple units of a single item.  Pallets contain multiple cases, which may be of a single unit or mixed units — but all in cases.

Fulfillment of consumer orders usually requires:

  • more complicated picking instructions
  • variable picking strategies
  • more difficult packing (read “slower”)
  • slotting optimization (to reduce picker travel time)
  • more sensitive cut-offs for picking orders
  • coordination with multiple parcel carriers (USPS, UPS, FedEx, DHL and others) for pick ups based upon class of service (ground or expedited)
  • near-real-time updating of order status and inventory status

These are just the highlights … the actual list goes on much longer.  I’m only trying to highlight the differences between retail fulfillment and consumer fulfillment.

More and more Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) are capable of handling both retail and consumer fulfillment.  So, the more difficult matter is personnel management and scheduling.  In a typical retail operation, staff peaks in August-September for shipping Christmas inventory to stores.  And the staff increase is 20-30 percent over base levels.

However, for consumer fulfillment the increase in staff may reach 200-500 percent and run from early November thru mid- to late-December.  This dramatic increase puts a premium on the ability of Human Resources to hire quickly and well; plus the ability to train new people on any specialized tasks.

Filed under: Ideas, Opinion, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The State of Social Marketing — a report

Awareness Social Media Software has just released a set of three white papers under the heading of The State of Social Marketing.  You can register and download the reports at their web site.

Of course, the purpose of the reports is to promote their Social Marketing Hub, an integrated solution for social media marketing management.  I’ll leave you to evaluate that.

However, these reports are pretty interesting reading.  And informative.  They’re worth a look.

Overall, the reports tell me that social marketers still have not figured out what this is about.  There seems to be a tendency to measure things that are relevant to social media, but not relevant to increasing sales.  One of the reports, entitled “New ROI Framework” presents some real world formulae for calculating meaningful measurements of social media.  Very useful.

I continue to believe that too many businesses engaged in social media don’t know why there are there … they just believe they need to be there.  Which is probably true, but without a rationale and strategy — a point-of-view — a business can spend a lot of money without knowing the value.

I continue to believe social media should be viewed as private publishing — subscribers, content/editorial, advertising — it’s all under your own control.

Developing content may be the most difficult for a business to get their hands around.  But just as in any publishing business, content is the reason for the channel’s existence — from a business’ point of view.

Filed under: Ideas, Opinion, , , , , , ,

The third step to multichannel commerce

Step 1 = a single, unified product master

Step 2 = a cross-platform, multi-channel order management system

Step 3 = a single view of inventory, updated in near-real-time.

This really is a tall order, because, unless you’ve bought into a major software solution, which has this capability built-in, it’s a pretty complicated process.  You have to set up numerous rules about inventory allocation, updating various channels (do you treat all channels the same or do some channels get priority over other channels).

Many merchants find it difficult (if not counter productive) to try to sell the “last available unit” on a web site, but will sell it from a store or the call center.  However, optimal inventory utilization calls for making inventory available where demand is … so you have to find the right balance for your business.  And it may take you time to get comfortable with all of the implications of this problem.

If you can sell any unit thru any channel, you’re most likely to get the highest value for that unit.  And that is likely one of your objectives.

However — and this bears repeating — synchronizing inventory across multiple channels (especially, if it includes brick & mortar stores) is a tall order.  High five to you, if you’ve put this in place.

Filed under: Ideas, Opinion, , , ,

The State of E-commerce Checkout Design 2012

Here’s a great article on check-out design.  I don’t agree with all of Chris Holst’s conclusions … but he makes a well documented case.  Well worth the time to read it.  Click here for the article.

Filed under: Ideas, News, , , , ,

Customers are thinking Omnichannel … and Brands should, too

worth reading, from Chief Marketer

Filed under: News, , ,

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