Direct-to-Customer Commerce

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

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.

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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, , , , , ,

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, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Pros and Cons of eCommerce Replatforming

I ran across this post in a LinkedIn discussion within the Ecommerce Solutions group:  Pros and Cons of eCommerce Replatforming:  Considerations for the C-Suite.  It was posted by Olivier Pepin, Senior Director, Technology at Optaros.

You could quickly conclude that Olivier is promoting Optaros solutions in his post, but look past that and you’ll find a well considered piece.
 
 
However, I also want to add to Olivier’s thoughts.
 
 
Especially for the C-Suite.
 
 
What differentiate’s your business from your competitors?  Products?  Price?  Customer Service?  Business Rules?  Inventory availability?  or, your web site?
 
 
It’s certainly possible that your web site is what differentiates your business; but I don’t think that’s true for most business.
 
 
The features and functionality of your web site need to comparable to that of your competitors.  Not too far ahead or behind.  Because your customers have expectations of how to do business with you on the web.  If you have new features that are so “gee whiz” you may end up spending more time explaining the features and not enough time selling product.
 
 
The fundamental of retailing have not changed.  We’s simply added a new channel, in which the proven principles now manifest themselves in new ways.
 
 
Don’t get carried away with the technology.

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

The Importance of Ecommerce Strategy

click here for a great post on this topic.

There is a persistent tension between deciding what to do and the actual doing of it.  That’s why companies have Chief Executive Officers and Chief Operating Officers.

This post reflects on how this applies even to a small-medium business.

The fact is, you have a strategy, whether you know it or not.  If you strategy is accidental or unintentional, then your business is not all it can be.

Filed under: Ideas, Opinion, , , , ,

9 Steps to Multichannel Commerce

This is a slide deck, which I produced and uploaded to slideshare.net.  Click here.

Filed under: multichannel commerce, , , , , , , , , ,

Ecommerce Technology is more than the sum of it’s features

One of the essential parts of my consulting practice is vendor identification, evaluation, selection & transition.  Typically, a lot of the time needed for such an engagement is the development of the requirements document … an attempt to document every possible feature a client might need in the operations area being addressed.

But there is more to such an engagement than the rather mundane process of listing the set of feature requirements, and comparing it to what each prospective vendor claims they can provide.

An article in Multichannel Merchant, just today, makes this point well.  Entitled, 5 Tips for Choosing an Ecommerce Technology Provider , click to read it for yourself.

Matching up with the features & functions you need is an important place to start.  But as Raj Kumar Waghray writes, there are other broader, and ultimately, even more important factors:

  • evaluating your existing partnership
  • understanding your unique needs (my emphasis on understanding)
  • serving your needs?
  • collaboration quotient (not only theirs, but yours as well)
  • eager to serve mindset

There is a business culture component to matching up technology users with technology providers — don’t ignore it.  It is often the biggest factor of the long term success of your business relationship.

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

The Impact of Omni-channel on Retail

The Wall Street Journal published a story this week about Macy’s, which focuses mostly only the perceived impact that an omni-channel strategy is having on their business, going forward.  It’s worth reading here. (subscription required)

What struck me in this story is the twist on the concept of localization.

Most of my conversations with ecommerce folks, in which “localization” comes up, the subject is a reference to localizing a web site to a country.  And, of course, the resulting need for translation, alternate payment processing methods, separating inventory, separating marketing campaigns.  All to be expected.

What Macy’s professes to recognizing is that a store in Fairfax, Virginia (where I live) may demand a different inventory and different marketing than a store in Dallas, Texas.

Now, we’ve all recognized those type of differences — up to a point.

But with the tools available to us now, we can buy uniquely for each store, vary marketing by micro-segment, and attempt to match available inventory (and by extension our merchandising & buying tactics) to these clearly identifiable segments.

But where is the balance … can we focus one segments that are so small, we cannot manage to them profitably? And if that’s true, then what is the smallest segment we should isolate to maximize profitability?

A whole new form of optimization!

 

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

Dept of Commerce stats on Electronic & Mail Order Sales for 2012

The Dept of Commerce has released it’s final report on Retail Sales for 2012.  Below is a graph of the monthly report for Total Retail Sales (the blue line against the left axis) and Electronic & Mail Order Sales (the green bars against the right axis).

Total Retail sales grew 3.7 percent, over 2011, and totaled just short of 4.9 trillions dollars.  Electronic & Mail Order Sales grew 13.2 percent, over 2011, and totaled 324.4 billion dollars.  Electronic & Mail Order Sales represent 7.4 percent of Total Retail Sales.

I don’t want to over analyze what all of this means.  But it is clear that Electronic & Mail Order Sales (what I call Direct Commerce) is growing faster than Retail Sales over all.  And the growth curves changed noticeably, at the beginning of the last recession (late 2008)

Retail Sales by Month

 

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

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