Direct-to-Customer Commerce

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

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, , , , , ,

You don’t have customer until the second purchase

When a customer buys from you the first time, it’s a test.  It’s a test of you and your business:

  • is the product what I expected?
  • was it easy to complete my purchase
  • did they treat me right?
  • did it arrive when and as expected?
  • if I have an issue, will they resolve it quickly and the way I want it resolved?

The answers to these questions will either increase or decrease the likelihood of a second purchase.  And if they do buy a second time, you probably really have a customer — good for you.

11 Personal Gestures to Turn Casual Buyers into Lifelong Customers  — this is a post from Practical Ecommerce that suggests additional things you can do to make a tentative Customer (that is, first-time buyer) into a Lifelong Customer.

Good points to consider for your business

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

Low Cost Digital Marketing leads to Lazy Marketing

Digital Marketing … especially, email and social media … is leading to marketing the easy way.

Marketers are just buying keywords, or blasting emails to everyone on every promotion, disregarding whether any part of the target market is already a customer.

I’ve bought vitamins from the same company for over ten years.  They send them every 60 days.  Once or twice a year, I start seeing Ads by Google for this company, everywhere I go.  Why?

Lazy marketing.

There are two broad categories of lists:  compiled lists and response lists.  In the digital world, we haven’t figured out how to “purge” our existing customers from email campaigns or PPC campaigns, because we perceive that the cost to purge them exceeds the cost of including them.

But, we’re ignoring the cost of irritating our customer base.  Denny Hatch, writes in Target Marketing, this month about getting a promotion from Amazon for two books he’s already bought from them.  How long before Denny just marks Amazon promotional emails as “Spam” and never looks at them?

There is a sense in which the Golden Rule applies to marketing as well.  Your customers are likely annoyed by the same things you’re annoyed by … pay attention out there!

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

Is show rooming a problem?

Well clearly, it is for some brick & mortar retailers.  At least they think it is.  It’s even reached the pages of the NYTimes (subscription required).

The NYTimes article even postulates that retail merchants should prepare a script of what to say when they catch customers using their store as a show room.

This is a losing battle.

Customers are going to use your store for a show room … at least if you’re selling products where there is a lot of content, a lot of price competition, or the products are simply expensive in the eyes of your prospective buyer.  You cannot stop it.

But you can combat it … but only by differentiating your business from the competition:

  • provide better prices
  • provide better customer service
  • provide a better guarantee
  • provide training
  • provide more information (content)

If you think show-rooming is bad now, this is only the start.  Younger buyers are ever more dependent upon their smart phones.  As they continue and increasingly dominate the buying public, show-rooming will become more and more prevalent.

This is a disruptive pattern.  Consider yourself disrupted.

Now what are you going to do about it.

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

How Seamless Are You?

How Seamless Are You? is a study by Accenture on omni-channel retailing, from the customer’s point-of-view.

In my review, I found nothing earth shattering … because it told me what I expected:  customers want to be able to do business with you on their terms, rather than on yours.

Customers expect uniformity in products, pricing and promotions across all available channels.

So, if your organization is complaining about the negative impact of “show rooming” on your sales, then you should immediately consider the fact that your business may not be competitive in these three areas.

There seems to be some reluctance, among some retailers, to recognize that you win and keep customers by being the best company to buy from.  That may mean the best products, or the best prices, or the most attractive promotions.

But you can’t just sit there doing everything like you’ve always done things and expect to preserve your place in the market.  You must be better at something.

You must be more convenient, have a better selection, more available inventory, lower prices … something that differentiates you.

The principles of success have not changed … only the tactics required to implement those principles in the most effective way.

Filed under: News, Omni-Channel Commerce, Opinion, , , , , , , ,

How to use Social Media as a Customer Service Tool

This headline is taken from a post you can find here.

The younger your customer base, the more important it is that you pursue this strategy.  Granted, it’s not exclusively relevant to younger customers.

In additional to the Social Media, you should also add SMS capability to your customer service arsenal (if I can use that term).  I’m sure you’ve noticed how many younger people use the phone less for talking than for texting.

That’s a trend you should not fight … instead, go with it.

While I don’t think you can avoid using social media for customer service — over the long term — I’d also push people towards texting, if you can.  After all, texting is at least private, by default.

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

More on Same Day Delivery

Anyone engaged in ecommerce operations is probably following the trade press reports on same-day-delivery.

It’s a gee-whiz offer, but does it increase sales?  Is it profitable?  Is it cost-effective?

For some merchants, it makes all kinds of sense.  In fact, for some, such as florists, it’s almost a requirement.  It makes sense even for office supply stores, and some high-end merchants — Macy’s, Nordstrom and similar companies.

All of these companies have inventory widely dispersed and can take advantage of local courier services or even, as in the case of most florists, have their own existing delivery infrastructure.

But what about everyone else?

Here’s an interesting story from StorefrontBacktalk.com, reporting on Amazon’s recent experience.  It reports that Amazon saw a conversion increase of 20-25% when they offered same-day-delivery,  but few of customers actually asked for same-day-delivery.

Demonstrating a great point:  Marketing is one-thing, but what customers actually want, need or use may be another.

Now, you just have to figure out where you fit on this new paradigm.

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

Customer Engagement v Customer Service

I’m going to write about this again later, but here’s a link to a blog post by Seth Godin on Customer Service.  It’s entitled, The only purpose of ‘customer service’.

He makes a great point about customer service, so contemplate what he says about customer service.  Then, consider how, when talking about social media and marketing, so many people are discussing customer engagement.

I don’t mean to infer that customer engagement is the same thing as customer service.  I don’t think it is.  But I probably do think customer service is more important than customer engagement.

We’re using words in marketing these days, which suggests we can create a nearly intimate relationship between a business and its customers.  And I think that borders on the ridiculous.

I admit, I’m a real fan of Five Guys, a franchise that sells hamburgers and fries.  Their second store is right near my home and I’ve been eating there for a long time.  But I remain a fan, because their burgers remain among the best I eat.  And they’re a good value, from a price point of view.  So, I’m a fan because they continue to provide me a good product at what I consider a good price.

When they fail to do that, they may lose me as a fan.

If you want to set customer engagement as a goal for your company … go for it.  But only after you get everything else correct, first.

Filed under: Direct Commerce, multichannel commerce, Opinion, , , , , ,

The State Of E-Commerce Checkout Design

An article by this title was posted last week at Smashing Magazine, a publication about web design and programming.  Very much worth reading.

However, a careful reading highlights factors that have always been true in the larger direct commerce marketplace.  Some of the characteristics of checkout design vary, based upon the size of the merchant (in sales) and the nature of the market which the merchant services.

Thus, when you read about what “best practices” are; or what factors are “common” or “typical”, you should certainly consider those practices.  But you should also conduct A:B tests to confirm these practices make a difference to your customers.  Because their the only customers that count … or should count.

Filed under: Direct Commerce, News, , , , , ,

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