Where Do We Spend Our Money Online

With $13.6 billion Clothing is the leading e-commerce category. The e-commerce business brokers at Digital Exits have put together this infographic with more interesting numbers and a breakdown that looks at in-store vs online. The anticipated increase in total online sales between 2011-2016 is 162%. What is more interesting is where customers spend their money. After clothing come books, music, furniture, electronics and food. For more on the future of how we shop – checkout our previous post.

what-to-sell-online-edit_02

Posted in Apparel Ecommerce, Channel Sales and Comparison Shopping, E-commerce Trends, Mobile eCommerce, Reports and Analytics | Tagged | Comments Off

Why and When Should a Brand Go Direct-To-Consumer

Is your company at the crossroads, trying to determine if a full investment in Direct-to-consumer e-commerce is worth it?

Are you having doubts about the effectiveness of your current site?

Do you believe that your market is growing, while you are not?

If you answered “Yes” to any of the above – this post is for you.

For many brands the main reason for investing in e-commerce comes down to “Because everybody is doing it and we need to be competitive”. There are endless examples of brands failing to maximize their online selling, due to non-technical reasons.

The main issue is balancing of the relationship with your resellers or channel partners. This can be a powerful motivator to set prices that “don’t compete” with your retailer network. Nobody wants to piss off their resellers.

Untitled

Source: Marketingland.com

That’s one way to ensure that your e-commerce will never take off. Losing the sale to one of your resellers means losing the relationship to the customer. One of the key benefits and primary reason for going direct is this opportunity to have direct access to the people who are buying and using your product. As a retailer – you get the golden chance to convey your brand’s message, to present your product and your business in the best possible way.

Together with the brand message, retailers also get the chance to build a relationship – a direct, two-way connection with the shopper. This can often dramatically increase the lifetime value of a customer and drive down the acquisition costs for new ones. Ultimately retailers will be best served when they figure out how to turn the customer into a fan. (More about this here.)

Possible Issues:

The Economics Need to Work

Is going direct the best option? Certainly not for everyone. Some retailers are faced with powerful competitors, who already have dominating web-presence. This means that e-commerce success will depend on a heavy upfront investment. It will be up to each individual retailer to determine what good return on this investment means for them and if going direct-to-consumer will result in an acceptable level of increased profits. In some cases the conclusion may be that DTC will only force the company into increased and unnecessary competition with rivals who have deeper pockets.

The Competition

The same argument is valid when the space one is competing in is really crowded – with tons of online presence and activity. This may require extra efforts ($$$) just to get noticed and these efforts will not always pay off. Or in situations when price is the primary driver for the purchase decision. In that scenario – one will be competing with Amazon and we all know how this ends.

Are You a Start-up?

Another possibility to consider is for young businesses. When you are a start-up brand in apparel for example – growing consumer awareness and driving organic growth can be tough on the web. At the same time a deal with a wholesale channel can offer product exposure at a faster pace. As a result, many young businesses may be better served by delaying the direct-to-consumer decision.

Why DTC Works:

Focus on Brand

The Direct-to-consumer approach will force your company to focus on the brand. Up to now you may have been wholesaler, manufacturer or good at building retail networks. By changing the focus your company will see the competitive landscape in a new way. The opportunities will look different too and even your team may need shaping up.

Screenshot 2014-07-11 15.28.08Image Source: http://smartblog.wordpress.com/

Some may argue that they already have great sites, which are focused on the brand and deliver the message just as they need it. The question then becomes – do you smack e-commerce “functionality” on top of your branded site, or do you build a separate site?

Both choices have their shortcomings. A well working brand site may not be served well with the e-commerce as an add-on for two reasons: 1. E-commerce will most likely dilute the message and weaken the brand connection with the fans. 2. Having the e-commerce as secondary and add-on will not maximize your DTC potential.

Building a separate site for e-commerce is a slightly better option with one key drawback – as a new site- everything will be from scratch. Think about building traffic, SEO, history with the search engines, organic growth, etc.

This is why I usually advocate for a third approach. As a brand you already have a strong site with good ties to your community and sizable customer interactions. Then consider turning this main site into your flagship e-commerce store. Sure there might be some who would reject the focus on e-commerce. But your direct-to-consumer site is focused on those who would buy from you online. The rest can still enjoy the community links and functionality in a sub-section of the main site.

Establish Feedback Loops

This includes implementing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) as well as social media integrations. As soon as you establish a base-line and start watching trends, and analyzing data you will start to get ideas how to respond to improve performance. As a side note – at this stage it becomes critical to have a reliable and proven ecommerce partner, who will help you grow your business and save you from making mistakes. We do this extremely well here at Upshot Commerce.

Background

Image source: Statusboom.com

Scale and Leverage Your Online ‘Shelf-Space’

With a retail distribution network your brand often lacks the right amount, position or size of shelf-space. We all know how the competition has become mad. In 1980 there were 6 brands of jeans – now we have more than 800 and this is excluding the knock-offs. To get fair visibility for all your products, product variations, etc. – you have no other choice but to go direct. Will this have a positive effect on your sales? Without a doubt.

One Final Consideration

We have heard a brand say: “I know how to ship a pallet to a distributor, not a box to a customer” This is a valid concern as some of the top e-commerce platforms have shied away or completely ignored this kind of customer. Here – at Upshot Commerce we have invested extensively in providing the best possible solution with B2B and Direct-to-customer in one platform. Check out our 3PL service here .

Going back to the initial questions. Your Direct-to-consumer decision may be the most important for the future of your company and once you make it – it is critical that you find the right e-commerce partner. Do you want to talk to some of our customers about the kind of partner we are?

Posted in Apparel Ecommerce, Channel Sales and Comparison Shopping, Customer Management, E-commerce Trends, Inventory Management, Merchandising Manager, Mobile eCommerce, Order Management, Reports and Analytics, SEO and Marketing, Shipping and Fulfillment, Wholesale Management | Tagged | Comments Off

Fans, Not Audiences! Customers, Not Conversions!

Everything is becoming a machine. Marketing is a machine. We automate processes, campaigns, segmentations, customer acquisition, content distribution. We do landing page optimizations, Call-To-Action A-B testing, localizations and social monetizations. In e-commerce we make everything better, faster, more efficient, more profitable … hopefully.

This is all good as long as we remember the goal of e-commerce – any commerce really. At the end of the transaction a customer pays for a product and needs to be satisfied with both the product and how they got it. Because even the top conversion rate in the industry will not help you have a business next year, if today’s customers are consistently not happy with your product or how they bought it.

In e-commerce we concern ourselves with the “how”. We help businesses get that e-commerce machine running and at Upshot Commerce – we do that well. We also try to help businesses remember – behind each site visitor is a person and behind each conversion is a human being. So what are some of the things e-tailers can do to make sure they attract fans, not audiences?

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Source: Bryan Eisenberg

Segmentation
Sometimes the answer can be very simple. Marketers do customer segmentation and we offer the tools to do it right. We can make it easy to treat that anonymous site visitor in a way that will turn them into a fan. How would you treat each visitor if you knew upon arrival where they came from? For instance – you probably want to serve different content for each of the following segments:

• direct visitors
• marketing referred
• search referred
• social media referred
• specific (landing) page referred
• newsletter referred

Ideally you want to design a special “path” for each segment. Think through what might have made them come to your door and how you could tweak your message to fit with their expectations. Then your fan-to-visitor ratio will explode.

Here are the top drivers for increasing of online spending from the 2014 Walker Sands’ Future of Retail Study

Bars

Personalization
What if you knew the name of the person who is on your site? Use it then. “Hi George! It’s good to see you again”. Generally people like to see and hear their names and this can bring more of this feeling of human connection. Go a step further – show them a message about the items in their wish-list. Are any of these items on sale for instance? Or if you don’t know the site visitor – offer a friendly greeting: “Welcome to our site! What can we help you with today?”

Social Integration
We live in the age of the 24/7-share cycle. Your customers are no exception –they like to share and increasingly they will share when they find a great product or a great site. So – use this – engage your visitors (or was it fans) and tell them about the new products that you love. Or measure and show what the other shoppers are buying – people like social validation for their choices. The same goes for product recommendations and with a platform like Upshot Commerce it is really easy to set up recommendations based on purchase history.

Abandoned shopping cart
Nearly 68% of online shoppers abandon their carts before checkout. No need to say this is a very large number. Does it make sense to ignore this, forget about it? What if they just got distracted – the dog ran outside and got in a fight with the neighbor’s cat … Well – a shopping cart is always an opportunity to re-connect in a friendly manner. Send a personalized email with their cart contents and ask if they’re still interested in any of these items. If you want to go a step further – offer a discount, or another incentive to buy. A well-targeted message can bring a lot of customers back and help turn them into fans, and may be they’d refer you to their friends. Just ask some of our customers.

So to wrap it up – while making sure that your e-commerce machine runs well for your metrics, remember to make it run better for the humans too. Turn your site visitors into fans and customers.

Tweetables
Sites spend $92 to bring traffic for every $1 they spend to convert this traffic into customers. Tweet this
When buying a product, 36% of consumers now turn to personal referrals, followed by trusted websites and email. Tweet this
67.45% of online shopping carts are abandoned before the shopper completes a sale. Tweet this

Posted in Apparel Ecommerce, Channel Sales and Comparison Shopping, Customer Management, E-commerce Trends, Mobile eCommerce | Tagged | Comments Off

Leveraging Customer Data for Ecommerce Success

Businesses in the digital economy are increasingly dealing with tons of data. Supplier data, traffic data, site performance data, sales and promotions data, AB testing data … Big Data. How do you sort it all out and have the confidence at the end of the day that you are not missing what’s important? Oh well – you are right – the title gave it away. The most important data for a business to organize well and leverage is the customer data. The goal of course is to attract, keep and grow the number of customers. Or is it? Let’s see.

Understanding the Customer

The key question a retailer needs to ask is – what customer data do I have, or can I easily obtain? Data that will help me learn about my customers, their affinities, their influencers, how they prefer to buy, what deals are they most likely to respond to, what time of the day or the week are they most likely to engage and interact with my brand, how often are they likely to make a repeat purchase and in what circumstances.

The answers to these questions will help the retailers to segment their customers better, to make the right offers at the right time, to capture up-sell and cross-sell opportunities. Based on customer data over time the marketers can determine if acquiring new customers at a low cost is more profitable than nurturing and cultivating existing customers to become repeat customers.

Segmenting the Customer

According to the 2014 RJ Metrics Ecommerce Benchmark report – the top 1% of customers, spend 30x as much as the average customer. Do these 1% get more attention? Can you use your customer data to increase these 1% to 2%?

1-percentSource: RJ Metrics 2014 Ecommerce Benchmark Report

What about the average spent per order? Is it possible that your best customers not only spend more often, but also spend more per order?  Not only possible, but according to RJ Metrics – they spend 5x more per order than the average customer.

5xSource: RJ Metrics 2014 Ecommerce Benchmark Report

Based on behaviors of the best customers, identified through customer data, marketers are getting better at influencing repeat purchases. Tactics like group buying, subscription commerce, flash sales and VIP sales are winning more and shifting the focus on building long-term customer relationships.

So – going back to the goal – attract, keep and grow the number of customers. I would like to redefine this to – attract, keep and grow the number of repeat customers. Talk to us today and we will help you see how you can attain this and more with the tools of the Upshot Commerce platform.

Posted in Apparel Ecommerce, Channel Sales and Comparison Shopping, Customer Management, E-commerce Trends, Mobile eCommerce, Order Management, Reports and Analytics, SEO and Marketing | Tagged | Comments Off

The Future of How We Shop

By 2016 the global e-commerce retail sales will reach $1,321 trillion (with a “t”). The expected increase from 2011 is 67%. Shopping is moving online quickly and here are some of the drivers behind this trend:

The Death of the Queue

There are no lines online and this saves time. A UK study discovered that the British, who used to be famous with their respect for the ‘queue’, do not feel this way anymore. 59% of UK shoppers refuse to wait in line. 32% prefer online shopping if there is a queue and 18% will go to another store if faced with a queue.

Mobiles in the Store

21% of all shoppers are already m-shoppers. This means that they use their mobile devices, while in retail stores – in order to improve their shopping experience. This is a fast growing trend and increasingly retailers are finding ways to convert these m-shoppers into e-commerce customers. In-store applications like endless isle enable customers to buy online, while in the store and to have the items delivered.

Pre-shopping

Speaking of mobile – more than 90% of e-commerce customers already use their mobiles for pre-shopping tasks. Increasingly these pre-tasks turn into full sales transactions.

Social Shopping

Social media shopping is on the rise and one in three shoppers prefer social media over telephone customer service. 86% of US retailers have social media presence.

Screenshot 2014-05-29 12.25.53

Source: Gift-Library.com

We can continue the list with more statistics about mobile wallets, shopping apps, contactless payments and new platforms like Uber. The picture however is clear – the future of how we shop is digital. There is one clear conclusion from all that and it is – anyone in retail needs to start taking their e-commerce even more seriously.

Tweetables:

Global retail e-commerce will reach $1.3 Trillion in 2 years. Tweet this

84% of shoppers used their smartphone in store. Tweet this

Mobile accounts for 20% of eBay sales. Tweet this

 

 

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2013: A Year in Review (with Infographic)

2013 has been a great year for Upshot Commerce, and to celebrate,  we put together an infographic to highlight some statistics and important milestones we achieved this past year.

2013

We’ve completed a lot of challenging projects this year. Here are the highlights from just a few of our favorite new features and extensions for 2013.

PCI Security

Security has always been a primary concern for our team at Upshot Commerce. This year, we made a number of improvements to our platform in order to increase security and obtain official certifications of compliance. Our official security improvements include:

  • PCI-DSS Level 1 Compliance
  • FIPS Compliant
  • PII encryption

The process for obtaining these certifications is complicated and extensive; so much so that not all ecommerce platforms are able to complete the process. As such, we are very proud to have reached this important milestone in our company’s development. To learn more about PCI Compliance, check out our blog here: Did You Know That Upshot Commerce is PCI Compliant?

Purchase Order Extension

Knowing what to order is a constant challenge for many retailers, which can consume entire departments and numerous man hours. The new Purchase Order Extension allows for queued ordering and receiving of purchase orders, as well as restocking statistics to let admins know what needs to be ordered. The system is fully integrated into the Upshot Commerce inventory system in real-time, which allows for greater stocking accuracy, with better visibility.

Backorder & Drop Ship Extension

Accurately managing backorders, pre-orders and drop ships is often a challenge for many retailers. The new backorder and drop ship management extension automates a large part of the backorder process, handling backorders and in stock items harmoniously under one system. Importantly, the extension can be adapted to work with many different business rules with regards to charging of backorders and drop ships, splitting shipping charges across packages, and combining backordered items with in stock and drop shipped items. When used in conjunction with the purchase order extension, the backorder & drop ship extension makes the entire ordering and fulfillment, alerting the administrator in real-time of any pending backorders or drop ships that need to be fulfilled. When items are received from the supplier, the extension automatically allocates stock into waiting orders, ensuring that customers receive backorders as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Design Feature Enhancements

We’re committed to offering all of the latest design and merchandising features to allow our clients to create fully modern and optimized sites to deliver the most conversions. New features include:

Express & One Page Checkout – speed up the checkout process and increase conversions by reducing the number of pages your customers need to pass through to complete an order. Repeat customers can place an order very quickly, bypassing the traditional checkout steps.

Screen Shot 2014-01-08 at 12.31.26 PM

Endless Scroll Category browsing & Lazy Image Loading – Create seamless long pages with minimal load times to reduce a customer’s need to navigate to other pages

Screen Shot 2014-01-08 at 12.47.54 PM

Solr Search Improvements – better search capabilities with full-text search, multilingual options, real-time auto suggestions and more

Screen Shot 2014-01-08 at 12.50.08 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drag and Drop Category Sorting – organize categories dynamically with easy to use tools, aimed at the a more visual experience. Perfect for apparel retailers.

Screen Shot 2014-01-08 at 12.52.55 PM

For a full list of all our new features, enhancements and extensions, check out our What’s New List.

What’s on Tap for 2014

There are a number of features and projects that we will be working on for 2014. Here are just a few to look forward to:

Back Office Redesign

We’ve incorporated client feedback and best practice concepts to develop a host of new backend features that are more intuitive and more customer-friendly, yet still packed with all the functionality that Upshot Commerce clients have come to expect.

eCommerce Accelerator Theme

Start your new site off on the right foot; our new accelerator theme is designed out of the box to incorporate all the best practice concepts to give your site the ideal foundation to begin and build on.

Mobile Executive Dashboard

More than ever, business is 24/7 and extending outside of the office. Our new executive dashboard is designed to give admins and business managers a working view of the Upshot Commerce back office, allowing them to view and manage orders, access reports, inventory data, and other timely information, all from a mobile device.

Upgraded Reporting Dashboards

Reports are what make data actionable. Our new reporting dashboards will allow our clients to easily view reports to display the important information that they need, quickly accessible with the click of a button.

Data and Asset Scheduling

This feature will allow data managers to roll out site changes in an organized and fluid manner, by holding certain updates to all occur at a pre-scehduled time. This means no live products without images, or pages with partially filled in data; just seamless updates.

Detailed Auditing

Tracking issues and piecing together how a problem occurred can be have the work on the way to the resolution. This service will offer more detailed accounting of order, site and inventory changes over time. This will allow admins to see not only what specifically was changed, but also what representative made the changes.

If you have any questions about our new features, or about projects we have in development, please do not hesitate to contact us!

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Did You Know That Upshot Commerce is PCI Compliant?

Feature-PCI-1Today is an important milestone for Upshot Commerce. It has taken a lot of work, time, effort and expense, but it is all worth it. We can now proudly say that Upshot Commerce is not only PCI compliant, we are also FIPS compliant with PII encryption!  To many of you, that may not mean anything, so lets explain:

What is PCI-DSS Level 1 Compliance?

The Payment Card Industry Data Standard is a worldwide information standard created by the Payment Card Industry Security Council.  This standard was created to establish a series of increased controls surrounding data, with the intent of preventing credit card fraud online.  This standard applies to organizations that hold, process and exchange credit card data.

In order to achieve official PCI compliance from the Payment Card Industry Security Council, organizations need to pass a series of costly requirements and tests over a period of time. The entire process often takes 12 months or more to complete.  At the end of the process, approved organizations receive an Attestation of Compliance, which confirms and renews the certification as required. Level 1 is the highest level of compliance that an organization can currently achieve.

What is FIPS and PII Encryption?

Federal Information Processing Standards are publicly recognized technical standardizations developed by the US federal government for use by non-military government agencies and government contractors.  The purpose of FIPS is to ensure that these agencies follow the same guidelines regarding security and communication according to government standards.

These standards include requirements for encryption data encoding. Personal Identifiable Information (PII) encryption is a process for securing personal customer information according to required US privacy law and information security standards.

Upshot Commerce is one of the first ecommerce platforms to official meet FIPS and PII encryption, making the platform an industry first in government security requirements.

Why is it Important?

Breaches in data security can lead to direct financial losses through credit card fraud and fines.  Even more so however, these breaches can lead to a loss in consumer confidence, based on the belief that personal information is not being protected by the businesses they have come to patronize and trust.  Complying with PCI DSS standards lowers financial risks associated with account payment data compromises, and helps to boost consumer confidence and trust.

What Does this Mean for Existing Clients?

As an existing Upshot Commerce customer, there are no changes that you need to make to your platform or security settings.  It simply means that our data security and software meets the highest standards possible, giving you even greater peace of mind.

How Can I Prove to My Bank that Upshot Commerce is PCI Compliant?

Your bank will ask for a copy of our Attestation of Compliance. Simply request a copy of our AOC, and we’ll be happy to send it to you.  Then, just submit to your bank.

 

If you’d like to learn more about the security features that we offer, please visit our Security, Fraud and Chargeback Prevention page.

For more information about PCI and FIPS Compliance, check out these resources below:

https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/

http://www.pcicomplianceguide.org/pcifaqs.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Information_Processing_Standards

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Should You Be Upgrading Your Images?

Are your images good enough?

Most ecommerce retailers develop a bucket list over time of improvements they’d like to make to their sites—invest in an ERP system, improve meta tags, perhaps revamp merchandising efforts.  For the most part, these improvements can be done on your own schedule. However, for merchants selling on major sites such as Amazon, eBay and Google Shopping, the time to invest in improving image quality, is now.

Recently, Amazon and eBay sent out a list of new image requirements which they will apply to most retailers.  You can view the total list of Amazon requirements here and the list of eBay requirements here.  A few of the Amazon requirements include:

  • Images must accurately portray the product and show only the product for sale, with minimal or no propping.

  • Main image backgrounds must be pure white (RGB 255,255,255).

  • Main images must show the actual product (not a graphic or illustration), and must NOT show excluded accessories, or unnecessary props that may confuse the customer, additional text, graphics, or inset images.

  • The product must fill 85% or more of the image frame.

  • Images should be 1000 pixels or larger in either height or width.  The smallest your file should be is 500 pixels on the longest side.

The eBay requirements are similar.  In addition, Google is recommending that Shopping feed sellers make all images a minimum of 800 pixels— and they are likely to follow suit with requirements similar to eBay and Amazon soon.  For ecommerce merchants who have been getting by with low resolution images taken on a wood floors, this represents a major change and potentially a daunting expense.

However, these major sellers aren’t enacting these requirements simply to make the lives of merchants more difficult.  They are doing this because time and again, studies have shown that good images SELL.  With the creation of visually-focused sites like Pinterest, and new image-oriented operating systems on the rise, showing your product has become just as, if not more important than describing it accurately.

So where do you start?  Upgrading all of your images may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be.  Here are a few tips for improving your site imagery:

Make an Assessment

Before you go deleting all the images on your website and starting from scratch, take an assessment of all of your product images.  For Upshot Commerce retailers, an easy way to do this is to view your image gallery.  All of our websites have this feature; it is simply an easy way to see one searchable listing of all the product images on your site, along with a few pieces of important information.

If you want to see all the product images that are under the required file size, for example, you can simply filter results by that file size.

Work with Manufacturers

Many retailers rely on product manufacturers for images– which often will not meet the requirements of Amazon or eBay.  Does this mean that the retailer’s only recourse is to create new images themselves? Of course not! Work with the manufacturer, and see if they are willing improve their images.  After all, it is in their best interest to give you high quality assets so that you can sell their product as effectively as possible.

Outsource Image Cropping

If your images don’t meet the pure white background requirement, doing manual cropping in Photoshop might be the best option for you. However, employing a graphic designer to crop all of your images professionally can be time consuming and expensive.  Fortunately, there are a number of companies out there that crop images for you very inexpensively— because that is all they do! A few of these services include: Clipping Path and Remove the Background

Take Advantage of Technology

Just because you haven’t updated hundreds of images in 5 years doesn’t mean its going to take as much work to update them as it did the first time around.  Technology has advanced, and many of the processes of taking good quality images, editing and implementing them has improved.

The Upshot Commerce Platform takes a lot of the busy work out of image management, cutting down the amount of time needed for image preparation considerably.  Capabilities include:

  • Automatic image resizing:Upload one image for detail images, thumbnails and category page images. We resize automatically for you!

  • Watermarks: Don’t waste time applying watermarks to every image– just upload your watermark once, and we’ll take care of the rest.

  • Batch FTP uploads: No need to manually assign images to each product; just give the file the correct name, send it to the upload folder, and we’ll put it exactly where it needs to go.

  • Lossless image compression: We automatically reduce the size of your images without compromising on quality. This means improved site speed and SEO ranking.

  • Caching framework with updates via CDN: This means your updates process faster and more efficiently.

Simple, easy, done.

 

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Case Study: NuGlow Cosmaceuticals

NuGlow Cosmaceuticals is a specialty skincare company focused on providing only the highest quality products to improve the appearance of skin. Established in 2003 in La Jolla, California, NuGlow was founded on the principle of providing high quality products and service at the lowest possible price using a direct to consumer model. Their skincare products, including their lead product line containing patented Copper Peptide Complex with more than 17 U.S. patents and 80 foreign patents, are designed to enhance skin appearance, reduce signs of aging and provide other skincare benefits.

The Challenge

When NuGlow CEO Steven Sheiner and his staff began looking for an ecommerce solution to distribute their growing product line to online customers, he knew immediately that he didn’t want to reinvent the wheel.

“I was looking for an SAAS platform that was feature rich and easy to operate,” says Sheiner.  In the past, Sheiner had explored many other ecommerce platforms that, while functional, lacked the full spread of features that he knew his new site would require.  ”It really wasn’t so much about cost savings, it was more about not having to worry about building new features and having to worry if the site is down and my developer is out of town.”

NuGlow needed not only a robust ecommerce platform loaded with features, they also needed an ecommerce partner with knowledgable developers, capable of customizing their platform to their needs and providing them with ongoing support to resolve issues and ensure security.

The Solution

In Upshot Commerce, Sheiner found the feature-packed, service-oriented platform he was looking for. “What attracted me to Upshot was the fact that they’d already developed most of the features that I would have had to have developed if I’d chosen to go with a different solution.” says Sheiner.

One of these features included an advanced auto ship extension. The advanced auto ship extension was applied to NuGlow’s platform to allows their clients to sign up for automatic monthly deliveries of their specialized skincare kits.  Not only does this auto ship system allow customers to receive automatic shipments of needed products, it also allows for a wide array of members only benefits.   “The auto ship extension allows retailers to offer exclusive pricing and discounts to members that is separate from advertised on site pricing.,” says Upshot Commerce CEO Neal Kaiser.  “It also allows them to offer all sorts of promotional discounts and offerings only available to members as well.”

In order to ship these lotions, creams, cleansers and specialized skincare kits, NuGlow also employed a third party fulfillment center to get orders out fast and efficiently.  Upshot Commerce also was able to create an integration to allow a seamless flow between their online shopping cart and their fulfillment center.  “Working with a separate shopping cart and fulfillment system can mean all sorts of difficulties and headaches for ecommerce retailers,” says Milanie Cleere, Chief Strategy Officer of Upshot Commerce.  “Their fulfillment center integration took away a lot of those headaches and drastically reduced the potential for errors.”

Success

With the new site recently launched, Steve Sheiner sees a bright future developing for Nuglow, with better customer features than ever before, and an ecommerce team behind him to help achieve his goals.

I’ve worked with a lot of developers and programmers over the years and I’ve never had as positive an experience as I had working with Upshot.” Say Sheiner.  ”From the first day the project started I’ve always felt confident that they knew what they were doing, cared about the outcome and were vested in the process.  The Upshot team worked with me to create the milestones and in every case they met them. ”

“I would most definitely recommend them to other companies.”

Services and Extensions

Upshot Commerce Core Platform

Auto Ship Extension

Shipping & Fulfillment Management

 

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Secrets to Great Customer Service

We’ve discussed before how one of the best ways that smaller retailers can distinguish themselves from big box stores and ecommerce giants is by offering superior services.  Enterprise retailers may not be able to afford to offer product discounts at a loss, but what they can offer is a better user experience, and more personal customer service options.

Think customer service doesn’t matter that much? Famed shoe seller and customer service trendsetter Zappos.com certainly does, and cites it as a key reason to their success and continuing motivator.  Apple, notably has similar policies aimed at customer satisfaction and superior IT services.  Not only do these companies believe that good customer service is key to their success, customers also frequently cite positive company interactions as a reason for their continued patronage.

Fortunately, good customer service isn’t something that requires huge investments in warehouse machinery or website overhaul.  Often, it just requires a few dedicated, knowledgeable representatives, and a basic infrastructure of policy and systems to support them effectively.

Fast response times

Even if you can’t afford a 24/7 call center, small ecommerce businesses can still strive to maintain consistently responsive customer service.  Answer every email and determine what a fast response time means to your company—perhaps 5 minutes, perhaps an hour.  And then make sure that you are sticking to it!

No Hassle Returns

In the ecommerce environment, returns are nearly inevitable.  For this reason, it is important that your customer service department maintains a clear and hassle-free policy that will allow customers to buy with confidence, and encourage them to continue to patronize your business, even if the first purchase may not have been their cup of tea.  Offering free shipping on future purchases, store credit, or simply a fast, efficient return process can go a long way.

Reward loyal customers

Everyone appreciates being treated well, and customers are more likely to continue shopping with you if they are rewarded for their loyalty.  This can be done with exclusive sales, rewards programs, and even occasional shipping upgrades.

A robust, integrated help desk

Understandably, dealing with a wide variety of customer service issues in a fast, effective and also personal manner can often be very challenging.  For this reason, good customer service is about more than good policy, it is also about maintaining a system that works with representatives to maintain best practices.

This is where a system like the new Upshot Commerce Help Desk comes in.  Designed with your business infrastructure in mind, the application is fully integrated into the Upshot Commerce platform, allowing you to easily create help tickets that are connected into your database of customers, orders, and products.  Because all of your information is in one place, this means that issues are easier to resolve and easier track, ensuring that problems are followed through until they reach a resolution— and beyond!

We’re very excited to unveil this new, and fully integrated Upshot Commerce extension to our ecommerce retailers.  To find out more about the Help Desk Extension and how it can be customized to work with your platform, just contact us!

 

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