If you didn’t make quota, own it.
If you lost the deal, own it.
If the customer is threatening to leave over price, own it.
It you missed your forecast, own it.
If the competition is creeping into the account, own it.
If your pipeline isn’t big enough, own it.
If you don’t understand your customer’s business very well, own it.
If you don’t know the product, own it.
If you’re not asking enough questions, own it.
If you don’t have the business acumen you need, own it.
If you didn’t make enough calls today, yesterday or all of last week, own it.
If you didn’t follow up on the leads fast enough, own it.
If you’ve failed, messed up, are struggling or still learning, own it.
Ya see, when we own something, we take accountability for it. We commit to improvement. When we own it, we do our best to make sure it doesn’t happen again. When we own it, we learn from our mistakes. When we own it, we embrace it as a challenge, not a problem. When we own it, we’re open to coaching, criticism and feedback. When we don’t own it, we’re not open to anything!.
When we don’t own it, we’re not growing and when were not growing we’re going no where — in a hurry!
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Google has a long history of applying its own strategic goals to the broader Internet, and due to market share, it is uniquely possible for them to actually accomplish it. The strategic intent associated with Panda deals with website content quality. It has been used to punish website owners for not going the distance to create useful content as a service, and it has the potential to change many features of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) with the next update.
Read on, and some predictions about possible changes to the Google search algorithm based on past updates as well as comments by Matt Cutts, the Google webspam liaison, will be outlined and described for your convenience.
While backlinks have tended to be a focus of Penguin, another of Google’s updates, Panda still considers them. Rather than focusing on penalties for links, though, Panda focuses on ranking and weighting inbound links according to quality to be used in SERPs.
You can expect to see further improvement in the way Google collates data like anchor text, link popularity, and relevance to surrounding content. It is important to remember that Panda penalties tend to be longer lasting than being dinged by Penguin. While the latter tends to resolve itself once a manual penalty is removed by Google, the effects of Panda penalties fade slower because of how it uses multiple, historic elements to determine quality.
Highly monetized sites were one of the first targets of Google Panda. This targeting was largely because of the often-used tactic of putting black hat sites up that provided nothing but a platform for advertising. You can expect Google to continue to fine-tune the exclusion process for sites that have no secondary purpose outside of revenue generation. Since there is such a heavy focus on usability,
Panda should also begin to weed out sites with ads that disrupt good user experience (UX) such as those with automatically playing audio, video, and sharewalls. Sharewalls have long been a contested tactic used by blog and news sites, which force users to stop perusing content and decide whether to share the site on social media like Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
Panda is best known for its use and advance of machine learning. The update provides the search algorithm with guidance about brand popularity, but one of the biggest worries in the exclusion process is the prospect of singling out and punishing businesses with a real market-following and demand.
Going forward, Panda is likely to continue to advance the ability to recognize and promote popular brands, but it should also begin to better deal with viral phenomena. This is an area in which social media is great for dissemination, but search engines are less well suited to delivering the newest and most popular memes.
Panda represents a first step away from paginated ranking. In the past, webmasters were able to focus on specific areas of their websites for quality content while neglecting others. The update attempts to look at websites holistically for ranking all of the pages. Blog sites with great content but badly implemented landing pages and problems with navigation are an obvious target. Going forward, Panda is likely to continue to improve how it is able to rank sites to weed out those that just focus on a narrow range of the UX. The most recent softening in Panda 4.0 was a nod to the fact that small businesses are often penalized, so more fine tuning is likely to take place before year’s end that helps identify and differentiate between lopsided SEO as a tactic and honest small businesses trying to build a brand.
One area that has not seen much more than lip service by Google is the concept of over-optimization. They have discussed penalties in the past, but no clear line has been established to determine what it means to go too far. However, some clues are available in Webmaster Tools. The fact that Google has attempted to regulate and minimize the use of rich snippets and structured data with their Highlighter tool means that overuse of these tactics may soon come under fire. Use of this type of markup provides search engine guidance similar to how meta tags once worked, but the highly technical nature of their use tends to restrict how many webmasters use it. As use increases, though, Panda is likely to be enlisted to minimize the SEO power of schema and other standards of data enrichment.
Thin content was an original focus of Panda, and it has remained central to the theme of the update. However, the softening of Panda that came with 4.0 shows that Google recognizes that small businesses are often targeted erroneously.
You can certainly expect Google to further fine tune this aspect of exclusion in order to help differentiate between badly planned sites and those meant to act as accessories to real businesses. That aforementioned softening resulted in the return of rankings to many small businesses, but it also resulted in BlackHatWorld lighting up with reports of spammer website rank increasing overnight. Fixing this is likely to be a primary focus for Panda going forward.
This is especially true given the substantial hit to ranking that industry leaders like EBay, RetailMeNot, and StarPulse took on the day the softening went live. Estimates of total organic traffic loss on those sites range from 33 percent to as high as 80 percent.
Duplicate content has been a focus of Panda, and it will likely continue to be so. However, Google is moving towards a model that penalizes for similar content rather than just content that has been duplicated verbatim. Content spinners have been an effective grayhat tool of content managers for years due to the ability to easily foil duplicate checkers like Copyscape.
Matt Cutts has come out and said that simply rewriting old content should not add value to a site. You can expect to see less organic search traffic from spun content or rehashes of old concepts as more installments of Panda are made.
High Quality Content
The focus on quality content under Panda’s guidance has never wavered, but it has evolved. The fact that you were once able to target misspelled longtail keywords as an SEO tactic highlights this fact well. Matt Cutts has made statements about the importance of ensuring that your content is grammatically correct and free of spelling errors. There is a good chance that proofreading and editing will become an absolutely crucial aspect of web design and content management very soon. Much like Hummingbird and Penguin created opportunities for writers, Panda stands to place copy editors in a much more vaunted position related to web development.
Each of these factors has historically been a focus of the Panda algorithm. Due to the highly inductive method necessary for puzzling out update details, few hard clues are provided other than videos by Matt Cutts. Given the ever-evolving nature of search engine networks like Google, it is likely that Panda will expand into even more realms of website analysis associated with quality. After all, Panda was intended to put high quality sites at the top of SERPs
|ARTICLE SOURCE: This factual content has not been modified from the source. This content is syndicated news that can be used for your research, and we hope that it can help your productivity. This content is strictly for educational purposes and is not made for any kind of commercial purposes of this blog.|
The next generation of ‘social shopper’ is expected to emerge as a force to be reckoned with by 2021 with 41 per cent of the UK’s consumer population expected to be influenced by or using social media to make a purchase, according to new research from Barclays.
Amongst 25 to 34 year olds this figure is much higher with nearly half (45 per cent) of this age group already engaging in s-commerce. By 2021, the figure will have jumped to 73 per cent.
Richard Lowe, Head of Retail & Wholesale at Barclays, said: “Shopping has always been a social activity right back to the days when people bartered rather than paid for goods. It wasn’t until the arrival of e-commerce that the social aspect of shopping was removed.
“For most consumers the social element is fundamental – shopping it is a leisure activity in the British psyche – so being able to reintroduce this aspect into the online purchasing process is a powerful tool for retailers”.
Around 70 per cent of online shoppers are already active users of social platforms but the number of social shoppers is set to grow further as social micro-blogging websites, such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest increasingly blur the boundaries between retail channels in the same way mobile technology has done.
Where social media is really coming in to its own is as an influencer and multi-channel integrator rather than a direct sales channel. Users are receptive to new ideas, suggestions and recommendations when on social networking sites but are not in an active state of mind to purchase. Translated into revenues, in the next five years influenced sales are expected to more than double from £1.4 billion to £3.3 billion. This contrasts with direct sales which are expected to rise from £210 million to £300 million.
The retailers enjoying the greatest uplift in sales as a result of social media’s increasing influence are fashion, footwear, music, film and grocers.
Richard Lowe continues: “When someone you know and trusts makes a recommendation it’s extremely powerful and we’ve seen that the social shopper isn’t afraid to express online how much they want, love or dislike a product or service.
“This in turn creates a feedback loop on a product or brand. As more people post reviews, more people read them and, in turn, they give their own feedback which is picked up by a new group of consumers. Retailers should be exploring ways to tap into these communities in order to create more personalised shopping experiences”.
|ARTICLE SOURCE: This factual content has not been modified from the source. This content is syndicated news that can be used for your research, and we hope that it can help your productivity. This content is strictly for educational purposes and is not made for any kind of commercial purposes of this blog.|
It’s an exciting time in which we live, with an amazing array of interfaces and ecosystems offering up new ways to connect and converse with customers. In the world of digital marketing, frontiers are shifting as technology becomes more ubiquitous and our relationship with digital devices ever more personalized.
Behind every remarkable and successful connected customer experience – from mobile payments at Starbucks to prescription refills at Walgreens and movie viewing on Netflix – you will find a deep organizational commitment to building a secure, scalable, and unique digital experience platform that truly reflects the native capabilities, competencies, and assets, both online and offline, of each individual company.
To develop innovative business models requires a Digital Experience Platform that can handle every interaction of consumer engagement across an ever increasing number of touchpoints – mobile, tablets, laptop, wearables – while maintaining brand identity.
Building a platform for the Digital Experience places new demands on your CMS, ecommerce systems and the functional requirements of data. Historically, content management and ecommerce acted as two separate but complementary systems which performed separate but complementary tasks for separate but complementary departments.
The Digital Experience is no longer about building web pages and storefront checkout. Instead, the ability to place laser-focused points of monetization along the customer journey is required, such as embedding a fully transactional ski promotion – one where the customer can select dates and book the holiday – without leaving the experience of the digital magazine.
Requirements need to be gathered across CMS and ecommerce
As such, requirements gathering transcends the previously siloed nature of ecommerce and content management, and should now include the widespread and integrated demands of digital and omni-channel.
For example, requirements for publishers might include dealing with royalties, digital rights, modular content monetization, plus multiple businesses that are independent yet interconnected. Complexities will arise with product information because some product information plays a part in the ecommerce transaction, and other product information that has nothing to do with ecommerce, but is very important to the customer experience and purchase decision.
For retail, it may encompass the omni-channel journey across the offline / online divide, and the challenges of maintaining a cohesive customer profile, such as being able to recognize a customer when they walk into the store and knowing their previous online purchases.
The Digital Experience requires data to be available to perform two key functions:
Prior to the rise of omni-channel and the Digital Experience, ecommerce systems were by default silos of their own data. While many companies fed purchasing and profile information into the data warehouse and utilized business intelligence tools for a business-wide view, the new Digital Experience forces the need to embrace a new holistic approach to data called Master Data Management.
MDM allows for the same data available in ecommerce system to be available on the web, in-store and in the call center. Solving master data management in context of CMS and ecommerce is a starting point that will enable a seamless customer experience across non-web touchpoints.
Importance of APIs and quality and architecture of integrations
The creation of new business models, campaigns, promotions, offers and products, and a seamless customer journey across all touchpoints places an increasing importance on the quality of connections interconnecting your back end systems, and whether or not they aid in making data digestible for your front end systems.
For more information on the essential role APIs play in the Digital Experience please visit How Ecommerce APIs Drive Digital Experience.
Roles and Responsibilities
As enterprises prepare their platforms for the Digital Experience, expect roles to change and areas of responsibility to shift. Look for the rise of Chief Digital Officers and Chief Experience Officers as owners and arbiters of the Digital Experience Platform.
Also look for the changing role of the Chief Marketing Officer. In the era of Web Experience Management marketers only had Acquisition and Engagement to worry about. With ecommerce functionality now embedded within the CMS, monetization is within their reach. As such, marketers will require tools that are more powerful and far-reaching than ever before to create highly personalized and contextualized offers. These tools need to be easy to use, surfacing the functionality of backend systems while hiding the complexity.
Twitter appears to be testing a new feature that will let users buy items directly through links embedded in retailers’ tweets.
Yesterday, Re/code reported seeing “Buy Now” links embedded in tweets from shopping app Fancy. The links were no longer visible today, suggesting the feature may have accidentally been turned on for a period of time before being taken down again.
Although one user said the Buy Now buttons took them to a checkout page inside of the Twitter app, Re/code said the buttons did not work when it tried to click through. The buttons were visible on mobile, but not on Twitter's desktop interface, according to the report.
In screenshots, a picture of the merchandise appears with a description and price next to the merchant’s name. In one image, a Nest Learning Thermostat is priced at $250 million, confirming the feature is still very much a mock-up.
The new move would mark a first for Twitter, which is already being used as an e-commerce tool by other companies. Earlier this year, Amazon found a way to sell directly to Twitter users by launching the #AmazonCart hashtag, which allows users to add items to their Amazon shopping carts through tweets. The Amazon feature, however, still does not allow users to check out through Twitter.
Twitter doesn’t earn any revenue from #AmazonCart as it does from sponsored tweets but it's unclear what the revenue sharing terms will be for a new feature like the Buy Now button. The new function, however, could allow users to make purchases from inside of Twitter without broadcasting what they’re buying to all of their followers.
1. Merchandising beyond the storefront
Most ecommerce sites are based on an online catalog – with category browsing, search, product pages and a checkout process. This simple structure has been enhanced with reviews, cross-sells, personalization and rich media, but is this as good as it gets?
Merchandising beyond the storefront involves embracing new ways of taking catalog information and injecting it into new experiences (mobile and tablet apps, in-store kiosks, wearable devices, in-video, shopping aggregators, 2-D signage, social networks, and the like).
There’s much potential for taking catalog assets and delivering them to new touchpoints, but little application today. We’ll be covering the who, what, why and how of this opportunity as technology and innovation press ahead.
2. Product pages 2.0
On one hand, the digital experience is enhanced by taking catalog content and delivering it to various touchpoints. The reverse can also be effective – harnessing content that exists in other touchpoints and baking it into product pages to provide customers with the ultimate product information. For example, using image recognition technology such as Ditto, which can spot your brand marks in photos across social networks, or pulling reviews from across domains (rather than rely on only reviews provided through your site).
Do product pages have to function the way they do today, or might they be completely re-invented?
3. Commerce in-context
Authors of Age of Context: Age of Context: Mobile, Sensors, Data and the Future of Privacy Robert Scoble and Shel Israel identify five forces of context that impact the future of buying: mobile, social media, data, sensors and location. We’re already seeing technology like Bluetooth Low Energy (iBeacon) in retail shops. Big Data offers the potential for harnessing intelligence far beyond your ERP and web analytics data, and new devices like Google Glass, FuelBand, Nest (and whatever’s next) will play a role.
The holy grail for marketers in the Age of Context is “pinpoint marketing” — the ability to deliver hyper-personalized and contextual messaging and offers to the individual. But with all personalization, there’s much room for mis-targeting. The arms race is to develop predictive tools that minimize this margin of error.
Another important element of contextual commerce is understanding the relationships between things and their relevance to search intent. This is the direction Google Search is moving with its Hummingbird update. A better understanding of these relationships between things provides better results, and in the ecommerce space, this translates to higher usability and conversion rates.
Traditional product discovery on an ecommerce site involves using a search box, with results matched to keywords. The quality and appeal of results depends on how well the site search tool can deliver and rank results. “Searchandising” and personalization may be layered into the experience, but even the most advanced ecommerce search experiences lack the capabilities of Google’s emerging Knowledge Graph.
Imagine an ecommerce search tool that understands a query like “show me the top 3 Android phones with the longest battery life”? Or “show me handsets with more battery life than iPhone 5″? And instead of typing in a search box, the query was simply spoken? A search tool with an artificial intelligence that understands natural language processing, semantic relevance and works like a helpful salesperson, without the limitations of the human brain? Imagine “search results 2.0″ that resemble Google Now cards, with different presentations for different query types and product groups.
Google’s vision for Knowledge Graph is far from realized, and I don’t expect ecommerce will get there first. But there’s much about the way we shop digitally today that can evolve with these technological advances, and some will catch on to this opportunity far sooner than others — perhaps even leapfrogging Google (with regards to ecommerce site search and guided selling).
The research highlights how changes in the e-Retail industry have driven retailers to amend their range of delivery options and charges, since last research in November 2013.
The results give an interesting insight into online shoppers’ needs and preferences, particularly highlighting the most popular days and times for deliveries.
• Standard and next day orders are most likely to be delivered on a Thursday (29.2% and 23.34% respectively). Named day orders are 27.92% on
Saturdays, and Tuesday is the most popular day for Collect from Store (16.68%).
• Almost 50% of retailers now offer a Saturday delivery service, up 4% points in just 6 months.
• The number of retailers offering a post 18:00 order cut off has increased to 35% of the sample and is now the most popular cut off time category
(in November this was 15:00-18:00).
• 61% of retailers now offer a cut off time after 15:00, up from 31% in October 2009.
Click and Collect is on the rise again:
• Click and Collect has once again increased by 8% points, with 54% of retailers now providing the service.
• SMS is increasingly being used to provide consumers with more detailed information about their Collect from store orders. 73% of e-Retailers
offered information on how long the item would stay in store before being classed as ‘uncollected’ and returned to the distribution centre.
Delivery charges are reducing, with better informed consumers now abandoning fewer baskets before purchase:
• The average standard charge for delivery has reduced by a significant amount, £1.33 to £3.43, with next day charge also reducing by £0.32 to £5.96.
• Standard delivery charges have dropped an average of £0.75 on each delivery order.
• Retailers have reduced ‘nasty surprises’ at the end of the online process, with more transparent delivery costs information upfront for the consumer.
The ‘Returns’ sector is a crucial part of the online shopping experience. Retailers are realising the importance of communicating their Returns processes to consumers upon purchase:
• 51% of assessed retailers offered a free returns option for consumers; only 3% of online stores had shown a definite returns cost price with the average return being £4.16.
• 48% offered free returns with labels and freepost.
Click and Collect is still continuing to grow at pace, and the new on-demand style of shopping is showing a continued trend in the online shoppers’ week. It’s all about Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, or after work, for the consumer now, and the e-Retailers are responding in their droves.”
Sales isn't easy. It if were, trust me, everyone would be doing it. It amazes me how so many non sales people in an organization think sales is some sort of lottery ticket, where sales people sit around making mounds of money they didn’t deserve. BTW: I always welcome those people to put 1/2 their salary on the line and join the ranks of sales. Surprising, not many folks take me up on that offer.
Hmm? I just don’t get it.
For those of us in the know, sales is hard. It takes grit, and determination. It takes an amazing aptitude for solving problems. It requires out of the box creativity. Selling is no joke and it’s hard.
With that said, what makes selling difficult or hard varies from sales person to sales person. So, I’m curious. What’s the hardest part of selling or sales to you?
Let’s see if we can get a good conversation going in the comments and find out what it is that sales people find most difficult about sales.
Ecommerce from its beginning until now has largely been about shopping online in a traditional web storefront. Now things are changing and the lines between offline and online are becoming increasingly blurred. We are literally only seconds away from a piece of glass that gets us connected anywhere – mobile phones, tablets and a number of emerging gadgets even act as “second screens” in front of our computers and televisions. At any given moment, you are connected.
Always On, Always Connected
Whether you’re consuming a piece of content, playing a game, researching a company or trying to find your friends or photos, your experience is always available, all the time. Companies now have to figure out how to live in this world. How do they put themselves in front of their customers 24×7 in a way that tells their story, engages and delights their customers, and pulls them into their community to ultimately generate revenue?
In this always-on world with its multi-touchpoint devices, you may be walking down the street with Google Glass and spot something that’s interesting. You may want to buy it, learn more about it, or you might just want to send it to a friend to see what they think.
Companies need to find a way to foster this engagement. Instead of sending a person to a website to do the browse-find-discover-buy process over again, instant engagement captures customers at their “zero moment of truth.” No matter where customers are, they can be one interaction away from purchase.
It’s all about the Customer Experience
Marketers want to delight their customers by creating brand experiences on apps, mobile sites, interactive billboards and a variety of emerging touchpoints. It’s all about the experience and it’s all about the customer – what people want to buy, when they are ready to buy.
With a traditional online storefront, all you had to do was create an efficient, good looking website that was simple to use and served the purpose of that shopping experience. But now, ecommerce capabilities that once were the domain of IT now must be made available to the business user, causing a seismic shift in roles and responsibilities.
In order for marketers to create these really awesome customer experiences, IT has a set of technologies that are what are traditionally call backend systems or systems of record. This is where a lot of the data lives. All your business rules and logic – everything that your business does is somehow contained in these systems, such as your ERP systems, CRM systems, databases of all types and Content Management System.
These are not technologies that IT or businesses treat lightly. They have invested in them, built them over time and protected them so they don’t change very quickly. That’s one side of the coin.
The other side of the coin is, as a marketer, half the technologies and half the scenarios that you are trying to wrap your head around didn’t even exist three years ago: devices like Google Glass, smart watches and applications like Pinterest, Vine and Snapchat that have come out of nowhere.
The way marketers need to interact with their customers on the front end is moving at the speed of light. Meanwhile, front end systems have to interact with these slow moving pieces on the backend. That’s a real problem.
New Architecture for a New Paradigm
What’s needed is something in the middle that can bridge this gap.
So that’s what we did with our new Cortex API orchestration layer, which brings both ends of that spectrum together in an entirely new way. Cortex organizes and federates transactions and data going to and from back-end platforms, and exposes them as a simplified, streamlined level three REST API that is much more manageable and useful to marketers. Instead of working with the IT department for months to integrate enterprise capabilities into new digital experiences, internal business groups, agencies, and systems integrators can access them easily via a Cortex API – accelerating innovation, and making it realistic to quickly develop amazing new customer experiences.
We’re currently doing just this for same great global brands like Pearson, Google, Symantec and Western Union. These companies are on a mission, and they’re looking for ways to bring their vision of tomorrow’s digital customer experiences to life.
They love Cortex because they understand where their customers are, the changing landscape of social, mobile and context and they know they need to be there. They are big companies with big backend systems, facing all the IT challenges of every other customer, but keeping with the pace that their customers are at. That’s what makes them great companies.
They’ve invested in Elastic Path to get the technologies they need to pull all the business pieces together so that they can surface them quickly to build great customer experiences that they can generate revenue from.
Opportunities at the New Frontier
I’m excited to announce the next release of our flagship products, Elastic Path Commerce Engine 6.9 and Cortex 1.9 to the readers of Get Elastic. Together, they represent the industry’s first modular and headless ecommerce solution – one specifically designed to provide merchandising and monetization capabilities as an API service that can very easily be integrated into other products and technologies, like content management systems, customer experience platforms, and mobile app development frameworks. It’s a radically new way to engineer an ecommerce platform, and it sets the stage for an amazing new product that we’ll be announcing right before the Adobe Digital Marketing Summit in March.
Online retail is at an all-time high, and forecast to grow further. The Centre for Retail Research (CRR) recently predicted that 21.5 per cent of all UK sales will be online by 2018. In this increasingly competitive environment, responsiveness to customer demand is crucial as customers seek efficient delivery and low prices.
The act of drop-shipping, whereby stock is delivered direct to the consumer from the manufacturer or wholesaler rather than from the store, is becoming a progressively popular solution to the dual challenges of efficient stock management and customer delivery preferences. The technique is becoming common practice due to the cost savings and shortened delivery time provided. By cutting out middleman distribution centres, retailers can achieve significant reductions in their handling and storage costs, but more importantly it can help to meet the increasing consumer expectations on delivery to suit their individual preferences.
However, before adopting drop-shipping, there are challenges with the process that need to be thought through, the main one being visibility. Customers expect a retailer to know when their product has been shipped, where it is in transit and when delivery will take place. Without this information, the customer will consider customer service to be unacceptable. Also, there may be times when sales volumes are high (such as Christmas and other seasonal times) when packages are at an increased risk of being improperly labelled, incorrectly routed or even lost. How these situations are handled matter greatly.
In the past business-to-business (B2B) relationships between traditional brick and mortar retailers, brand owners and distributors were heavily focused on electronic data interchange (EDI) for just the most basic order-to-cash transactions, such as the purchase order and invoice. In the effort for businesses to gain more control in this multichannel era, GXS has seen a shift to wider B2B programmes and the use of an extended range of business documents including a sharp increase in the use of advance ship notices (ASNs).
Implementing ASNs into the drop-shipping process provides retailers with key information about customer orders, including the transportation carrier, point of origin, expected arrival date, package dimensions, content weight and the shipment tracking identifier. Once received from the supplier, the ASN data can be stored in the retailer’s system along with the customer’s order. The shipment information is available for display on the retailer’s website and for customer service personnel in the call centre. This way, all of a consumer’s questions about the status of the delivery can be answered accurately and quickly using either information directly from the ASN or using the shipment tracking identifier to find out where it is in transit.
Alongside the increasing necessity to provide visibility for customers on their deliveries, retailers are also faced with growing pressure to make their operations more efficient. The CRR found that operating costs for retailers have risen by 20 per cent since 2006, compared to a 12 per cent rise in consumer spending, so efficiency savings have become an imperative to ensure profit without price rises.
This has resulted in the adoption of a number of other advanced delivery methods that can provide a powerful competitive edge in terms of efficiency for retailers in all sectors, and like drop-shipping they also rely on the visibility provided by ASNs.
Direct store delivery (DSD) works in a similar way to drop-shipping in that it helps to bypass unnecessary storage, with manufacturers or suppliers shipping products directly to the point of sale or consumption. This is a particularly effective approach for items delivered in bulk as it saves needlessly unloading, checking and storing shipments. It is also an especially useful technique for perishable goods like fresh produce where every day diminishes value.
Similarly, cross-docking is a related technique that reduces wasteful and time-intensive loading and unloading. It enables the transfer of goods/materials from an incoming truck or railcar directly into an outbound vehicle. As the products spend no time being stored, shipping costs are reduced and inventory costs are minimised.
The use of electronic communications between the retailer and its suppliers in all of these delivery methods helps to ensure the smooth flow of accurate and timely data that enables a choice of delivery options via a more efficient delivery process.
Retailers that aren’t at least considering implementing ASNs into drop-shipping and other processes together with the supporting electronic communication (EDI) may be losing sales opportunities, suffering from gaps in their supply chain information, all of which could be embarrassing for them and frustrating for their customers. The ability to adapt to the demands of the consumer with a modern supply chain is critical to retail survival in today’s fast moving and ultra-competitive environment.
We are hurtling towards the mid-point in the “selling- season” and as all my clients will confirm at this time of year, I always urge maximum effort: I do not like the “hockey stick” syndrome; you know the one that dictates that we close the most business in the last month of the quarter, or the last quarter of the year.
My preference is to get ahead of the numbers as early as possible, and to come out of the traps flying. There is no room on my teams for those who want to spend the first few months of the New Year either reflecting on their success, or worrying about their disappointments from the previous year.
In sales, as in sport, you are only as good as your next victory!
But it takes courage, and a real sense of realism to focus in on what is probable – not just possible!
This is not a time to be optimistic. We need realistic.
You can’t manage what you can’t measure, and if you can’t measure your pipeline, then you can’t improve your productivity. There are a number of Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) that can be measured, monitored and managed to ensure achievement of sales targets:
Pipeline Opportunities - These should be measured in value and the number of opportunities in the pipeline.
Opportunities by Milestone - Once these milestones and their different probabilities of closing have been calculated, these figures ensure greater accuracy of forecasting.
Average Deal Size - This ensures better focus on larger deals and ideally will increase steadily each year.
Sales Cycle Time - Shortening this can have a huge impact because of the cumulative saved time available for prospecting.
Profitability - Margins can be tracked to ensure that there is sufficient contribution to enable ongoing account handling.
Conversion Ratio - The number of opportunities won and the % of pipeline potential converted.
Finally, do remember that there are no prizes for having an overly pregnant pipeline – the prizes are reserved for closed business, and for the winners!
The reality is that for a number of reasons, 30% of the opportunities currently residing in your pipeline will not happen – do you know which ones they are?
If you weed them out early, you will give yourself so much more time to work on those that will happen.
Just get your head out of the clouds!
The holidays may be over, but now there is a different kind of shopping rush to prepare for! Right on the heels of the December holiday shopping season comes Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and graduations. Clearly, the shopping season never really ends – Read on for tips on staying prepared for high-volume shopping events all year-round!
Your local drugstore starts decorating for Easter before the Valentine’s Day candy is off the shelves. Why? This is because many customers start thinking about holidays long before they creep up on the calendar. Mother’s Day, for example, occurs in May, but shoppers have it on their radar in March or April … sometimes even earlier!
5 Tips for Staying Prepared
Make a list of holidays with dates that change from year to year (such as Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day), as well as popular international holidays that your buyers across borders may want to commemorate (such as Canadian Thanksgiving). Now that you’ve marked holidays on your calendar, here are a few tips to generate additional sales during these high-volume shopping events:
The Bottom Line
When it comes to high-volume sales, December isn’t all you need to count on. Anticipate other gifting occasions, promote your products, set apart your site, and look at extras like gift options and add-on items, and you may find yourself dealing with a flurry of sales year-round!
Matt Cutts, a spokesperson for Google, announced that the Google search algorithm was going to consider speed of loading as one of the factors in ranking websites. This led to all hell breaking loose in SEO circles. People ran helter skelter, trying to shave off milliseconds from their load times.
While the search engine optimizer's overreaction is understandable, it is not the way an ecommerce business owner should be thinking. Fast loading ecommerce websites were necessary far before Matt Cutts made his famous proclamation. Think about it: why does Google think it is important for a website to load faster? The answer is obvious: slow websites create a bad user experience. So why would you wait for Google to point that out to you?
I would go so far as to say that Google's job is to select the best websites for users. Your job is to be the best ecommerce website for users. So, why not just focus on presenting the right user experience, and let Google do its job.
What can you do to speed up your website? The complete list would be encyclopedic, so I am focusing on the top few ideas to give you the maximum bang for your buck.
1. Have Many Images, But Optimize Them
There was a time when one could have advised you to have fewer images on your ecommerce website. Bandwidth is not as scarce today as it once was. And we know that images help you sell products on your website. So today I would not recommended avoiding images. But I would certainly recommend optimizing them. Two of the easiest types of optimizations are:
a) Lower the filesize of the images.
b) Ensure that you are using images with the correct dimensions, and resizing them using the "width" and "height" tags in html.
2. Code Your Website Better
If you understand technology, here are some things you can do that are easy to implement, but make a lot of difference to your website speed:
b) Eliminate scripts that are really not required. Reduce the size of scripts and CSS that is required. Combine multiple files where possible. You may think that you cannot combine image files, but ask your technology person to combine images into "sprites." Combining files does not reduce the amount of data that needs to be transferred. But it does reduce the number of calls that need to be made to the server, and speeds thing along.
3. Get Your Website Settings Right
Here is a quick and easy setting: use browser caching to your advantage. Most pages -- their text and images -- do not change frequently, if at all. So, you should set an extended cache expiry date. I know of people who set it for a full year.
4. Use Better Hosting and a Content Delivery Network
This one should be a no-brainer. If your servers are overloaded, or do not have enough memory, or enough processing power, then your website will be slow regardless of the amount of optimization. As a result, evaluate your hosting, and move to a better host if required.
While you are at it, consider moving some static objects to a content delivery network (CDN). This will reduce the load on your server, and also speed up the loading of objects such as scripts, images, and videos.
A fast loading website allows a customer to sail smoothly through your navigation. Think about it: among other objectives, you hope to harvest your customer's impulse buying behavior. Wouldn't you want the customer to be at your payment gateway before losing the impulse to buy?
What do Phil Jackson, Steve Jobs and Google Have In Common?
All of them use meditation to improve performance and creativity. So what does this meditation stuff have to do with hitting your sales quota? Well, perhaps everything.
Nicknamed the “Zen Master,” Phil Jackson talks about working with the Los Angeles Lakers in his book, Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success. As their new coach, Jackson noticed that his basketball team seemed eager to learn; however, the players’ attention spans were short. When he would begin talking, they would fidget, look at the ceiling or shuffle their feet. (Doesn’t that sound like a few sales meetings you’ve attended?)
To remedy the problem, Jackson engaged psychologist George Mumford. Together, they designed a daily meditation practice for his players. Jackson’s goal was to increase their awareness and focus on the court so they could consistently execute the playbook. And it worked as the LA Lakers went on to win five NBA titles from 2000 to 2010 while he was their coach. During his career, Jackson has won 11 titles and is widely considered one of the greatest NBA coaches. He also has the highest winning percentage of any NBA coach (.704).
Let’s move beyond athletics to business. The late Steve Jobs credited meditation for his ability to concentrate and ignore distractions. The mega company, Google, has an in-house mindfulness program called “Search Inside Yourself.” It incorporates meditation to help free up space for creativity and bigger thinking. This program offers a proven method for enhancing mindfulness and emotional intelligence in life and work.
Meditation and Downtime = Hitting Your Sales Quota
For many years, I have preached the importance of downtime. For me, downtime helps me reflect on how I choose to show up to work each day. On those days that I don’t show up mentally prepared, downtime helps me figure out what I need to change or do to be more productive. Meditation and downtime allow you to think clearly and creatively which are both important attributes to be successful in sales.
Go to a quiet, non-technology place and ask yourself these following questions:
I teach clients to get clear on what emotion they are feeling, why they are feeling the emotion and the way it affects how they show up. Once you figure out the what and why of emotions, you can change the how to get the desired results you want to achieve.
There is probably some hard core, always trying to close type of salesperson reading this blog. And you are wondering, “Yeah, but what about selling skills?” I agree that they are very important. Great salespeople are good at pre-call planning, creating compelling value propositions, effective questioning skills, and decision making.
But here’s the big HOWEVER. I will refer back to Phil Jackson. This champion-building coach knew that his players had the hard skills of playing basketball. However, on the court, in the heat of the battle, he knew victory is won by the power of the mind. The ability to focus, manage emotions and execute efficiently wins the game.
Get some downtime. Start practicing meditation. You will be in good company as many CEOs of large companies such as Ford, Salesforce and Huffington Post are incorporating such behavior into their daily lives.
Soft skills do produce hard sales results. Go and pursue your winner’s ring for sales success!
If you’re like many businesses without a brick-and-mortar building, you may need to jazz up your the storefront to your e-commerce business in order to grow your small business. Have you ever stopped to consider how your prospective customers see your online storefront? Do you think your website attracts customers and entices them to purchase your products without being able to touch or try them until they show up on their doorstep?
For small businesses that sell online exclusively, this is a common problem that is all too frequently overlooked. In fact, businesses that make use of the web are expected to grow 40 percent faster and are almost two times as likely to create jobs. This just reiterates the importance of making sure your businesses maximizes its web presence.
So how do you demonstrate your differentiators like your values, involvement in the community and customer service? Here are 5 ways to jazz up your online store:
Share Your Story.
A great way to appeal to your online customers is to share your story. If you know your target audience, find things to share that resonate with them to generate a response. For instance, if you sell food that’s made of locally grown, organic ingredients, share this on your website.
Remember to also introduce yourself and your team. Share your passion, your background and your goals. Don’t forget to use images and videos so your customers can see your face and meet you virtually.
Use Refined Images That Engage Customers.
When it comes to telling a story online, images are a must-have. If you’re not skilled in the area of photography, consider hiring a professional or someone who’s good behind the camera to best showcase the products you sell. Make sure the photographs on your website flow in a way that makes sense to your prospective clients and show a true representation of your brand.
Don’t forget about your logo. Does it portray your business the way you desire? Will your customers remember it? It’s worth the money and effort to get your logo right.
Extend Your Online Presence.
Use social media to build a community around your business. Find the places where your customers are and let them interact with you. Promote your social media presence in your emails and on your website so your customers know to like you on Facebook and follow you on Twitter.
A fifth of consumers (20 per cent) ranked online retailers as providing the highest standards of customer service against a list of 13 organisation types in new research* into consumer satisfaction with online retailers. Additionally, 79 per cent are either satisfied or extremely satisfied with the quality of service received from online retailers.
The new study, conducted by contact centre software provider, Aspect Software, found that not a single consumer expressed dissatisfaction with the overall customer service received from online retailers. This is despite other markets faring much worse, such as telecommunications, which saw almost 1 in 10 consumers dissatisfied with the service provided. On top of this, only 2 per cent can recall a particularly bad customer experience from an online retailer over the past 12 months.
Aspect’s Consumer satisfaction benchmarking report 2013 reveals that although online retailers are leading the pack in terms of service provided to consumers, only 7 per cent can recall a particularly good experience from an online retailer over the past 12 months. Further, 36 per cent of official complaints to online retailers go unresolved in the eyes of the customer, with only 9 per cent of complaints considered resolved during the first interaction with the business in question.
Mark King, Senior VP, Europe and Africa, Aspect explained: “The modern British consumer is demanding more and more from the customer service they receive. With the competition just one click away, online retailers are having to engage with us shopaholics through a variety of channels, and it’s clear to see that in terms of giving consumers want, online retailers are setting the standards for other organisations. But nobody’s perfect, as it’s clear that they still have a little way to go in achieving an optimal service.”
He continued: “Considering that 3 in 10 consumers would stop using a retailer as a result of just one incidence of ‘bad’ service, ecommerce would do well to ensure that such lapses are resolved as soon and as efficiently as possible, or risk losing significant volumes of business.
“Consumers are becoming increasingly demanding of the customer experience they receive from service providers and retailers – bricks and mortar, purely online or multi-channel – must adapt to our changing habits, lifestyle choices and shopping expectations, and ignore customer satisfaction at their peril. As we have seen in the media, those that have failed to do so are struggling or disappearing. For those that can, there are lucrative opportunities. By optimising their technology investments across multiple channels, retailers can maximise the performance of their customer engagement strategy and maintain a loyal and happy customer base,” King concluded.
Other key findings:
• - 57 per cent of consumers are either satisfied or extremely satisfied with the way their complaint was dealt with
• - Email is the preferred method of contact with online retailers, with 69 per cent stating this
• - Only 2 per cent stated they would not use social media to contact online retailers, making online retailers the most accepted organisation type for communication through social media channels
• - 48 per cent stated the reason for not using social media to contact and online retailer is because other contact methods get a better response.
One of the things I enjoy about what I do is the variety of people I get to observe doing their work across a range of verticals and locales. While on the one hand many of these people are in sales, their buyers are in so many different categories. After years of watching and learning, I have come to the conclusion that if business people would get comfortable with and adopt one word, they, their companies, their entire ecosystems, and by extension the world, could become measurably more productive, and probably happier.
Contrary to what some may be thinking, the word, and more importantly the outcomes it delivers is not big, uncommon, academic, or any of the sort. It is a small two letter word that packs a big message. The word is NO!
I truly believe that if buyers, sellers, and almost everyone in business would just embrace the word, and say it when they know they should, millions of dollars would not be squandered, hours of productivity can be recouped or redirected towards better use.
Looking at prospects who say things like “call me back”, or “send me some info”, or any of the common euphemisms for “no I don’t want that”. By using this cop out, they all but assure that they will be interrupted again, no matter how skillfully they think they can use voice mail. What’s funny is the second call, because they finally say what they should have said on the first call, or they come up with another line. Either way they have wasted some of their time, and while not as important, some of the seller’s time. In the process creating a stalker, because they gave the seller a whiff of a possibility instead of just doing what Nancy said, “Just Say No”.
Sales people are no better, they can’t say no to prospects, clients, or their peers. Imagine how much more money they would make if they just said no when colleagues ask them to grab a coffee, do this, or help with the football pool, or any of the things that regularly take sales people away from their task, or even just break their concentration or flow. They should say no to buyers making unreasonable demands that not only limit profitability, but waste the most precious of all resources, time. The effort required to negotiate internally to deliver something they should have said no to, is at times greater the effort required to go out a find a better prospect.
Of course the biggest enabler to enabling a sales person to say no, is a healthy pipeline. If you know you had enough, or more than enough viable prospects in your pipe, you would say no to silly demands, you would not pin hopes in empty promises like “please send me some info”. No, you would see it and call it for what it is.
The biggest no sellers can learn to say, is to that voice inside that beckons you to see things that are not there, ignore the brightest red flags, and to pretend that even when the buyer does not use the word, he clearly means no!
If you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur who already has their website ready to go, you’re on the path of success. But you should also make sure you have a business solutions that will help make your products or services stand-out on your website so that customers who are ready to buy close the sale.
Some people may not think that online sales are as important as the sales generated inside the stores but the truth is that more and more people are moving towards doing their shopping online and even on their mobile devices. It’s a quick and easy way for them to find what they need and make a decision on the spot. So having those options available in your store or online shopping cart can open tons of doors to your small business.
Let’s talk about four things you can do to increase sales from your online store.
1-Showcase Your Products or Services
No matter what you’re selling; you should always highlight the benefits of the products or services you offer. A good place to do that is in the product description so your customers can be reassured that’s what they need to satisfy that need and click that ‘add to cart’ button.
Remember that making the product or service a personal experience for that potential customer can make all the difference. Ask yourself questions like these:
These types of questions can help you tell the amazing story of why your product exists and attract interest.
You should also have product pictures to show your customers or prospects what they are going to receive once their order is complete.
Now, if you have a service company and you’re probably thinking “this doesn’t work for me. I don’t have a tangible product.” Well, here’s where I say that you CAN make this work.
The Versatility of Video
If you have a service company (as well as for those who have products to sell) video is an extremely powerful tool.
Post a video where you demonstrate how the services you provide (or products you sell) work and help satisfy that need. This is an excellent way to engage the potential customer or even up-sell to those existing customers who may be looking for the next big thing or want to show their friends that their service or product really works.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to video and the benefit is that anyone can do it for little to no cost. Remember, make it personal and tell a story.
Here’s an example of how video can make a product unique by describing the benefits and characteristics of it.
In the case of a service, this video by airbnb shows a person talking about how the service works and why she loves it. This company allows people from all over the world to communicate with one another and rent rooms or homes for vacation at a better price than a hotel would. Check it out.
The average online shopping-cart abandonment rate is more than 70%. So if people are on your site, be sure you’re ready to show the product description, images and/or videos. You should also make the prices available and link to other products or services that could be combined with the one they’re looking at. “Other people who bought this also liked…” you get the idea.
This will help make your customer comfortable with your site and not have to click off it to find valuable/ relevant information.
Also, if you have a limited number of products, make sure to state how many are available so your customer doesn’t feel like you dropped the ball. If you’re out of stock make sure the customer can’t make that purchase and perhaps implement an option to ‘email’ the customer when it’s back in stock. This will allow you to keep them interested as well as see what products are most popular on your site.
3-Warm and Fuzzy Sales
When people buy a product they normally feel an emotion that makes them want to complete the purchase. But to avoid unnecessary returns, justify the emotional with the facts of why your product is the right fit for your customers.
People may tell their friends that they bought an expensive car because of how great the features are, but really they just wanted a prestigious car that lets them belong to the crowd that drives luxury vehicles.
To ensure satisfaction, make sure you also have a clear return or money back policy that is visible at the time of purchase. You should also provide the option to update their cart if they decide to change the quantity or add/ remove a product or service and include shipping pricing and information- a preventative business solution.
4-Engaging with Real Life Examples
Testimonials or customer reviews are a great asset when it comes to building trust amongst your customer base and show new or potential customers that you have a high satisfaction rate.
Telling people how you’ve helped others is just what they’re looking for so, you can scatter these happy experiences throughout your website.
You can use these tips however it bests suits your business. But having open communication channels with your customers or prospects as well as keeping product information accessible and up-to-date will increase customer satisfaction.
Annual reviews are valuable tools for evaluating the activities of an account, their industry in general, their competitors and your company’s strengths and weaknesses with your customers. Re-analyzing your market segments and accounts periodically will help you reclassify and prioritize accounts, if necessary, and give you insight into new markets and trends.
When you conduct your annual review with your customers, encourage an open and honest discussion of where you have been and where you’re going together. This will give you additional feedback about your customer’s level of satisfaction, provide an opportunity to introduce new products or services, convey you care, and strengthen the trust bond between you.
With ‘A’ customers, meet in person; with ‘B’ customers, conduct the annual review over the phone; and with ‘C’ customers, do the annual
review via mail or e-mail. Give some thought to making the meeting effective, especially with ‘A’ customers:
Getting your ecommerce site off the ground takes dedication as well as reliable know-how. To create a solid business that is in it for the long haul, you’ll want to consider these tips that can help you achieve your business goals. Building your business, of course, also requires researching ideal ways to enhance your ecommerce endeavor with best practices. The following tips will support you as you work to grow your business and manage it as effectively as you are able.
For most business owners, overnight success is a fairy tale. In fact, most businesses and successful business operators realize that a substantial time commitment is required for a business’s ultimate success. Moreover, this time commitment may not be temporary. Prepare yourself to spend full time and then some on your ecommerce business. This work, however, may truly have its reward. Your dedication will reap benefits and the experience of building your business is something you’ll take with you to every endeavor.
Schedule in Tutorial Time
Part of your time commitment should involve educational pursuits relative to your business. To that end, simply setting aside time to learn from an ecommerce tutorial can help you discover many tips that will help you as your develop your business plan. You’ll learn through the experiences of other entrepreneurs who are willing to share the secrets of their successes and failures. Consider these tutorials part of your business research. Moreover, you may learn about many good ideas that are applicable to your ecommerce business.
Find a Business Mentor
When you lack experience or simply need to run your ideas past someone else who understands what you’re involved with, a business mentor can be a powerful asset. There are organizations that help pair professionals for an effective mentoring experience. You can even learn from one another as you discuss your strategic plans and share marketing tips. A mentor can provide the expert sounding board you need to lay the groundwork for your business or to move to the next level.
Rely on a Great Team
Depending on the size of your ecommerce endeavor you may be a one-person show or have a small staff. Hire people that are exceptional at what they do. Moreover, hire people you can trust and will promise the same dedication you do. Your team will provide the heart of your business. Take time to choose candidates who have experience as well as good on-the-job manners. An untactful or unkind employee can wreck more than just a few days. Choose people that understand your business is a team effort and will work to promote and nurture that team.