Top tips for moving your business online

Due to the impact of COVID-19 a huge number of independent brands who are traditionally wholesale are rushing to take their business online. As retail shops remain shut across the UK those brands with an online presence have been able to maintain or even grow their business in recent weeks.

Whilst the demand for certain sectors has dropped dramatically, the consumer appetite for others such as homewares, DIY, beauty or food have skyrocketed. However, with the rush to take business online many brands who are unaccustomed to direct to consumer selling are making mistakes and missing the opportunity.

With this in mind, we have put together our top tips for small brands to consider ideally before taking their wholesale proposition online. We understand that now is not the time to spend 6 months creating a carefully considered strategy BUT there are things crucial to think about before just replicating your wholesale business online.

1. Who are you going to be selling to?

As a wholesale business you are likely to have very limited information about the end consumer, those who actually buy your product. You may get top level information from your stockists, you may already have a social media following that you can take a detailed look at, but these won’t be a representative sample of who may be buying your products once you start selling online. Don’t assume for example if someone has bought your product before from John Lewis that they will automatically be interested in buy from you directly. The online customer is often very loyal to the retailers they already shop with online. You will be starting your own customer database from scratch. So do take the time to have a good think about exactly who it is you think is most likely to want to buy your products directly from you online. What is important to them and how do they like to shop? Every decision you take from this point should be tailored to making sure your direct offering gives these people every reason to want to buy from you rather than anyone else.

2. How will selling direct impact your wholesale relationships?

Moving from a wholesale only business to a B2C brand means that at some point you will end up in competition with some of your stockists. Make sure before you launch that you have considered that and made plans for it. Are you going to communicate with them before launch what you are doing? Have you checked your contracts to ensure you haven’t agreed that you WON’T sell directly online? Make sure you have pricing agreements in place, so you don’t end up in in a price war with your own products as that benefits no-one.

It’s common place for brands to appear next to stockists online so that shouldn’t be a barrier, just make sure you don’t surprise your wholesale customers.

Tips for not annoying your wholesalers are:

  • Sell a slightly different range on your site
  • Never undercut them
  • Notify if you are going to be promoting any items
  • Don’t keep all the good content for yourself, make sure the product info and pictures you supply them is just as good as that you save for your own site. You do, however, want to avoid having exactly the same product information as your wholesalers online as Google will view that as duplicate content and ignore one of your sites.

3. Why will people buy directly from you?

Consider the reasons why potential customers will want to buy online from you instead of your stockists? What can you offer that others are not able to? What experience can you give on your site that will make people want to engage directly with you? Often the reason a smaller brand can compete with larger online retailers is through a personalised experience and a real connection with the brand, your values and the people behind it.

Make sure you tell your story, communicate your values, show the people behind the brand. As well as the expectation of a slick buying experience the modern consumer likes to emotionally engage with a smaller brand before buying. Make sure you give them a reason to.

Also consider the product range you will offer. It is a beneficial practice for a smaller brand who sells through other online retailers to keep back a selection of exclusive stock for their direct site only. There is no competition with wholesalers and customers have to purchase from you directly to get the product.

4. What range will you put online?

A common mistake for brand when launching direct for the first time is to put everything online. This is not necessarily the right course of action. There may be some products which are just not profitable for you to sell online. Their volume is too low to warrant the stock storage, they may cost too much to send via mail or courier, the margin is too low if you are not selling in bulk. Before you launch, pick a selection of the products that are likely to sell well and have enough margin in them. Choice for the consumer is of course good but make sure the products you put online are going to be the right ones for the type of customer you are going after. Better to have a slightly smaller but more relevant range of product that you can be more focussed with your marketing for.

5. How are you going to sell and fulfil?

You need to give your customers the best possible shopping experience, but also need to turn this around in the shortest amount of time. Therefore, using a ready-made ecommerce platform for most brands will be the best option. There are a wide range available but the most affordable / commonly used and those that will plug into the most 3rd party finance, stock, reporting tools are as follows:

a. Shopify basic

b. Woo Commerce

c. Wix

d. Squarespace

e. Magento

All have readymade and tested templates that can be easily repurposed and then refined at a later date.

Make sure you have thought about your delivery options and how much it will cost both you and your customers for delivery. Can you make a small profit on each delivery? Will you offer a free delivery threshold? Make sure you have factored in the cost of packaging too.

6. How are you going to get people to your store?

Ok so you have created a website with the right product and experience for your target customers. From a starting point of zero how are you going to tell people about it? At this point if you have never done any direct marketing before I would definitely get an expert involved to give you a plan, train you up, help you find people to do the things you can’t. The old adage “build it and they will come” just doesn’t work in a cluttered online world. If you have only been wholesale before you can’t just email customers to let them know. If you have a social following, then great that is a good place to start but remember don’t assume that those who follow you are not already loyal to one of your stockists. There are a number of ways you can launch and gain immediate brand awareness and site visitors but you need to pick the right one for your brand and budget. Paid search and social ads are the most immediate way of driving traffic, but you must make sure you are going after the right people with the right message or you will be throwing money down the drain. Longer term promotional work can often be more cost effective such as SEO, content, brand collaborations but they require a much longer period to get going and time resource as much as money. The best way to plan your activity if you have limited time and budget is to go back to your answer on the 1st point. Who are you going to be selling to? Have a real think about the following questions:

  • Where do they hang out on the internet?
  • How might they research a purchase?
  • Who else do they buy from?

Using the answers to the above just pick a couple of ways you can get your message in front of them at the right time? Perhaps just a single social ad campaign, a joint giveaway with just the right brand or influencer, or a very specific set of Google Ads will be enough to get going.

Pick and choose your battles and don’t be afraid to ask for advice.

 

As you can see just the above considerations can take a large amount of time and thought to get right, especially if this is the first time you have considered direct selling. Time however is not on anyone’s side at the moment. To speed up the process and help you get online quick the best thing to do is get someone to help you who has done this all before and can walk you through as you go.

If you want help in answering the above questions and getting online as soon as possible but in the right way, then please do speak to us. Email [email protected]apfrogg.co.uk or call 01273 322830.

Preparing for the festive season

If you are a retail business then I’m sure plans are well under way for the upcoming festive season. As a smaller, boutique retailer there is often a great deal at stake around this time of year, you have huge competition and it’s hard to compete on heavy discounts and offers especially around days such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Amazon Prime Day and the high pressure run up to the 25th December.

 

The market is saturated at this time of year but how can you stand out in the crowd? It’s all about the experience!

Consumers are becoming a lot more focused on connecting emotionally with brands that are aligned with their personal values and life choices. So this is how smaller brands can make a real difference around Christmas. It’s not about how much you drop your prices (to a certain extent!) it’s the delivery of your messaging and experience that will bring in the sales.
A recent report by customer journey experts, Yieldify on ‘The Shape Of Peak To Come’ reveals plans and predictions for peak trading season, surveying 400+ US & UK marketers to unlock key insights into the mad frenzy of retail in the run up to Christmas. Some of the most interesting stats and predictions being:

  • Black Friday – the first ‘peak within peak’ – is no longer a one-day event. Only 15% are treating it as such. When it comes to participation, online-only retailers are the most likely to opt out, with 1 in 5 choosing not to take part this year.
  • Pureplay e-commerce retailers are leading the pack when it comes to going against standard peak expectations. As well as opting-out of Black Friday, they were also the most likely to run discounts across longer periods. This seems to have led towards a greater focus on acquiring and retaining customers throughout peak, with website personalization their top-rated method for doing so.
  • For everyone else, email is still the king of marketing strategies. This was cited as a top tactic for promoting peak offers as well as converting visitors into customers. Retailers will need to have a solid lead capture strategy in place long ahead of peak to capitalize fully.

With the above in mind here are some quick tips to get your head above the sand.

Identify your key target audience for this time of year

Delve into previous year’s data and create a new segmentation lists including customers that previously bought in the run up to Christmas as well as your loyal/frequent purchasers. These should be your main focus at this time, they are far more likely to convert having had previous interactions with your brand. Gaining new customers around this time of year isn’t completely absurd but it might be harder to do so due to the saturation of the market.

Personalised content

Now you’ve segmented your data and created new customer lists to target, think about the content strategies that will convert for these audiences. Look at previous campaigns and take inspiration. Your strategy should include content for email campaigns and also the personalised messaging/offers on your website if you have these capabilities. You can also tailor your social media strategies accordingly and use different posts to target different segments.

Target key influencers for these audiences

Although influencer marketing is still under scrutiny by customers and also marketers it is still hugely beneficial to smaller/boutique retailers. It’s these close relationships with influencers that love their brand that makes independent retailers shine and create a loyal following. There is no doubt that influencer’s can directly inform consumer purchasing behaviour. The content and relationships can be very believable, especially if there is a strong connection with the influencer & brand values.

As part of your Christmas social media campaigns, if you have influencers you know well and trust, why not involve them at the ideas stage to curate unique, emotive and believable content that will appeal to your target audience.

Our advice on a low budget would always be to stick with micro-influencers with a following of under 5k. They tend to have a more engaged audience and wont cost the earth to work with.

Ask for feedback/feed forward

We’ve touched upon this before in previous posts but it’s so important to business growth and future success, especially at this busy time of year. After a purchase or interaction create a simple feedback form to gain insightful knowledge on their experience and what they might look for when making future purchases. This is not only useful for making quick tweaks to current campaigns and strategies but also pre planning for the following year. It’s never too early to plan for the next festive season!

We hope that these quick tips will get you thinking about what you can do now if you haven’t already begun preparations. Good luck and let the best man win!

T-minus 92 days.

How to build trust as part of the customer experience

Would YOU buy from someone that you just didn’t trust? One of the foundations of excellent customer experience is trust. Consumers are savvier, more unpredictable and increasingly ethically minded these days especially when it comes to saving the big rock we live on!

 

 

Retail brands that are transparent about their story, supply chain and distribution can use that to build a trusting relationship with customers, gain a loyal following, improve repeat purchase rates and develop brand advocates.
Here are our tips on how to build consumer trust.

Take a stand! And shout about it.

As mentioned above, these days many consumers (but not all!) are more conscious of the impact their lives have on the environment and climate change. Increasingly people are looking for brands that take a stand on sustainability and are able to take a lead on helping to save our planet.
Brands that share their ethos on sustainability and the supply chain of their products will attract these passionate consumers, who are likely to be more vocal about the brands they love to their friends and family.

So, how best can you communicate your brand ethics? It’s simple, use the power of content. One of our client’s, Asquith, is a great example to share. The Asquith site has a dedicated page on ‘Our ethos’ including: ‘Our Mission’, ‘ECO Fabrics’, ‘Our Factory’ & ‘About Us’.

The best aspect about this content is the honesty about their products and the impact this may have on the environment. They’re transparent about the fabric used, how they source it and they explain how using organic bamboo excludes them from contributing to the microbeads issue that synthetic polyester fabrics does, but that using bamboo still has some environmental impact.

Asquith also share information about who makes their products by including content about the factory, alongside a picture of the lovely, happy ladies that make the clothes in Turkey with their Global Organic Textile Standard certification. This is very powerful, words can say a lot but imagery adds so much more, being able to visualise the people that make the clothes helps you to connect on a deeper level with the brand and product.

Many brands tell their story online but only those brand stories that feel honest and transparent truly engage and build strong connections with audiences.

Partnering with trustworthy influencers

Influencer marketing is still on a journey, with recent concerns over the last year regarding the authenticity of partnerships and the enforcement of #ad. There is no doubt that influencer marketing is a winning strategy but it’s crucial to make sure those partnerships are the right ones for your brand and your customers.

One successful approach to influencer marketing is to build trust with the influencer first. A good example of a successful influencer strategy is from watch brand Daniel Wellington’. Their strategy is built on authenticity and gives those working with them a level of autonomy and control over their posts rather than being told what to say and do. This helps the content to remain fresh and varied with an injection of the influencer’s creativity and personality. Below you can see an example of the brand reposting content curated and shared by an influencer.

They also repost user generated content by picking a #DWpicoftheday winner for what seems like every day! This encourages advocates and unknown influencers that are fans of the brand to create their own content in the hope it will be featured on the DW channel.

Customer insight can be hugely beneficial for finding out what types of influencers your customers follow. Sending out customer surveys with questions around interests, values, hobbies and influences, can then adapt the strategy according to the results and identify influencers that will connect with your customers on a personal level. This will not only increase engagement but also customers will be more likely to see this content in their own time, within their own social space which will make the whole experience more authentic.

Ask for opinions

Another fundamental aspect of trust building is giving customers a platform to voice their opinions and have their say. It’s not just about asking for feedback but asking customers for ‘feed – forward’. By involving customers on future decisions not only builds brand advocates but also helps you create a customer centric strategy.

Brands can ask questions about new product lines, loyalty schemes, events, basically anything you’d like to get an opinion on. When people feel like they are being listened to, it’s a basic human instinct to form bonds. So why not start putting your trust in your customer and see what happens!

So, retailers ask yourself these three questions:

1. Are we transparent about our brands ethos, products and distribution?
2. Do we work with influencers that would connect with our customers?
3. Have we asked our customers their opinion in the last 6 months?

If the answer is no, for any of the above, then it’s time to make some changes….

Do you have your Christmas 2018 Strategy in place?

As we sit in a baking hot office in the middle of another heat wave, we long for cold winter nights, wrapped up by the fire, sipping mulled wine and snuggling under a thick duvet. You might think it’s too soon to start thinking about Christmas 2018, but it’s not, especially if you’re in retail. If you haven’t already it’s time to get your festive hat on………. or maybe a nice cool straw hat for the time being.

 

So what can the marketing teams be planning now, here are some tips to start future proofing your success for A/W 18:

Get your trend on

Look at the fashion, interior and Christmas trends predicted for Autumn/Winter 2018. Start pre-categorising your A/W product range into these trends. Re-write product & page copy ready to upload to dedicated pages, when the time comes, to maximise on natural search results.

Experiment with some of your paid search spend – what trend related search terms could you appropriately target to pull further traffic into your product pages?

Ensure your social team are incorporating relevant trend hashtags into their posts about your products, you could inspire engagement from a new audience if you’re visible.

Include nods to the trends that sit best with your products with any seasonal photography, to ensure your imagery stays fresh and ahead of the curve

Try product placement or developing a relationship with key influencers within each trend niche – featuring in their marketing and media not only positions you well within a trend, but is worth PR riches.

The top fashion trends as cited at Paris Fashion Week in March are:

1. Head to toe animal print
2. Leather dresses
3. Cape crusaders
4. Silver, holographic and Sci-Fi
5. Tweed
6. The 70’s – think shearling & crochet
7. Pleats
8. Silk
9. Obvious logo/brand placement
10. Layering coats

Interior design colour trends are:

Colour trends

1. Navy Blue
2. Autumn Maple
3. Neutral Gray
4. Toast
5. Scarlet Red
6. Tawny Port
7. Golden Lime
8. Shaded Spruce
9. Light Blue

Christmas 2018 trends as shown at Christmas World are:

Vivid heritage
A mixture of traditional handicraft skills from different cultures combined with strong colours similar to Golden Lime, Scarlet Red and Shaded Spruce. Think embroidered patterns inspired by folklore and ethnic tradition.

Eclectic Gathering
This trend includes reflective, shiny and sparkling materials such as crystal, foil, mirrored glass and mother of pearl incorporated with lively details, over the top shapes and patterns. Colour palette combines pink, lemon, mandarin, azure, rosé, black and gold.

Balanced Sobriety
A mixture of matt brass, light coloured wood and shiny black surfaces with a Japanese influence. Colours range from pure white to rose gold, a shiny but cool grey, a deep red and black.

Splendid History
Think historical treasures. Lace, feathers, semi-precious stones, pearls and marble combined with dark, saturated colours with accents of aquamarine and gold.

Plan ahead for big shopping days

Don’t get stung by Black Friday or Cyber Monday but embrace them and create a plan that works with your business. Also look back at last year’s data and see what your best shopping days were and use them as additional opportunities.

You don’t have to discount all your products to keep your head above the water but create exciting deals for your existing customer base, that could also entice new customers. This could include exclusive offers and enhanced loyalty offers.

Think cleverly around your content strategy on all your platforms. Create a content plan specifically for the run up to and including big shopping days which includes engaging content in partnership with key influencers.

For smaller brands, Black Friday or Cyber Monday can actually be an opportunity to catch the eyes of new customers. Yes they’re hunting for the best deal but remember they are also looking for a great experience so make sure that you have all your ducks in a row and the experience from pre purchase through to post purchase is seamless. A great returns policy goes a long way!

Not forgetting the importance of resource. Ensure you have enough staff clued up and your website and team can handle the high volume of customers and sales. Your customer service team need to be super charged and understand all the many things that could go wrong so they are fully prepared to diffuse any situation that might arise.

Connect with your customer

Get the customer involved by sending out a small survey to see what they want around Christmas, exclusive offers? Exclusive content? Tips and how to guides etc. This sort of priceless insight can help to shape your content plan as well as boosting your customer engagement by making an emotional connection.

Christmas can be a joyful experience for most but also very stressful for those that have big families entertaining large groups or those that just dislike Christmas! Think about how you can alleviate some of that stress for your customers. Try and tap into your customers’ needs and help solve their stressful shopping problems. This sort of insight can be gained by using the survey. Content can then be created around the specific pain points and drip fed across all your channels in the run up to Christmas.

If you have a physical presence, connect online with offline by offering unique services instore to gain footfall like a free gift wrapping service, instore product demonstrations or personal shopping services. Try and make the shopping experience as enjoyable as possible as it can become quite the chore.

Listen to your customer

Did you get any bad reviews, feedback or complaints last year? Take a look back at what issues your customers voiced and make sure everything is fixed for 2018. This could be delivery problems, product information, site speed, checkout issues, the list can go on but ensure you have all of them ironed out and content updated so that your customers don’t face any of the same issues.

The key thing to remember is that a retailer’s main focus around Christmas is to inspire customers and take the stress out of the largest shopping event of the year which will lead to more revenue. Try and make it fun and interesting but most of all be prepared!

If you want any help or advice in putting together your 2018 Christmas marketing strategy give us a shout on [email protected].

5 Top Tips to Tackle GDPR

GDPR can be a little daunting, especially to small businesses that don’t have the resource to analyse and implement a compliant procedure. There is so much information out there it’s hard to define what needs to happen.

However, the main concepts and principles of the current data protection act don’t differ too greatly to the new law, therefore if you’ve already got a comprehensive procedure in place that’s a great starting point you’ll need to enhance some elements and change a few points along the way. In particular the new law has greater emphasis on the data controller’s documentation and the individual’s rights.

Here are our 5 top tips:

Communicate

Ensure that you communicate within your business about the impending change to the law. Having input from key stakeholders within the business can help to identify risk of compliance. If you have a team working together from different areas of the business then you’re likely to uncover any problems quickly.

Ensure you designate a Data Protection Officer if you carry out large scale systematic monitoring of individuals and large scale processing of special categories of data or data relating to criminal convictions and offences. The role of the DPO is to implement procedure, be accountable for the processing of data, to monitor compliance of GDPR and data law and be the first point of contact to supervisory authorities and the individuals whose data you process. However, allocating a GDPR project manager will be very beneficial in reaching compliance if you are a small business and you do not carry out any of the above.

Some aspects of GDPR will have more of an impact on businesses than others so with a team of key personnel you’ll be able to highlight which parts will have the biggest impact and then prioritise your planning.

Take a step back

Yep! It’s time to take that famous step back to audit and document the personal data you currently hold, this includes customer data but also employee data and why and how you process it. You must ensure that the data is correct, in date and relevant. If you have any incorrect data this needs to be rectified and documented. This is also proof for the GDPR’s accountability principle, you must be able to show your path to compliance which brings me to the next tip……….

Create policies and procedures

If you have policies and procedures or not, you’ll either have to create from scratch or adapt what you have to ensure you’ve taken on the new changes in the law. If you have all the relevant documentation for your data processing you’ll be able to prove your compliance quickly and easily.

Get consent

I’m sure you already gain consent to record and process data but you’ll need to review your messaging and ensure the following:

  • Be granular, clear and specific
  • Make sure the message is prominent and not hidden or in small type
  • Include a positive opt in – the individual needs to physically tick or sign to give consent
  • Properly documented
  • The ability to easily withdraw

Clarity is King!

You must be transparent in your privacy notices about what data is held, how it is used and for how long it will be held for. Clearly state the above and make sure it’s easily accessible to the individual so they fully understand how their data is stored and processed.
You need to include the following:

  • Your lawful intention for processing the data and how it might be shared
  • How long you will retain the data
  • The individuals rights: to complain to the ICO, to request access to their data free of charge in a commonly used format and within one month, to request correction or deleting of data and to object to data processing

These tips just scratch the surface of what the new law implicates, but this gives you a framework to tackle GDPR within your business. GDPR not only effects marketers and retailers, it effects any business that processes data. These tips come from how we’ve approached the changes in data law that GDPR is enforcing.

For detailed resources visit the ICO’s Guide to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

If you’re a small retail business looking for help then please contact our sister company Digital Team on Demand who will be able to swoop in a GDPR hero to help you plan for compliance by 25th May 2018.

Note that this blog post is not intended to construe legal advice or offer comprehensive guidance on GDPR. This is just our professional opinion.

Using Christmas 2017 trends to grow sales

As well as keeping on top of developments in retail strategy, our many years living and breathing retail has made the Leapfrogg team keen design trend spotters.

Although not always relevant to a consistent or seasonal product strategy, understanding how design and visual trends are developing is important when helping us make recommendations on how to keep merchandising and marketing imagery fresh, how to ensure email marketing is on trend and how your product images stay fresh and engaging on social media.

Rosie is a frequent speaker at Pulse and this year, came back with three main trends that had been spotted at the show:

Bloomsbury Christmas

Rosie’s favourite, Bloomsbury is a festive celebration of the dark interiors trend, rich, dark colours and textures, with big blooming florals. Layering is key to create a luxurious, sumptuous feel.

Rich burgundy, deep plum tones and navy are accentuated with the satin textures of orchid, magnolia petals and pearl.  Think luxe, butter soft leathers, with hints of opulent gold and richly scented candles to create an intimate and luxurious mood.

Decorate table tops with lavish floral arrangements and collections of exotic, metallic trinkets

A brand that brings the Bloomsbury Christmas to life is interiors stylist and designer Anna Hayman, for more inspiration on this trend, follow her on Instagram (her gold leather curtains are our particular fav!).

Nomadic Christmas

Gwen’s favourite, Nomadic Christmas is a combination of this year’s global nomad and scandi themes; the bare woods and simple, clean lines of scandi interiors are softened with rustic finishes, artisanal soft furnishings and oodles of greenery

This trend is embodied by a cool and calm palette of eucalyptus greens, warm greys, navy, charcoal and dark denim blue. Rich browns and pops of dusty pink add an earthy element.

Feature furniture pieces are made from bleached wood, draped in patch work and geometric patterned rugs and heavy rustic fabrics.

For the Christmas table, think heavy linens, crackle glazed artisanal bowls, miss-matching plate settings and wooden serving spoons.

For inspiration on this interiors trend, check out blogger Kate Young on Instagram.

Indulgent Christmas

Lucy’s favourite, the Indulgent Christmas trend explodes with excesses of glitter, tinsel, clashing brights and glitter, plenty of glitter!  High shine metallics and over the top decorations in man-made fibres and plastics, a room decorated in the Indulgent Christmas trend looks like a bomb went off in a party poppers factory and some unicorns tried to put it out with a glitter cannon.

Colours are vibrant and clashing, with Miami inspired colour combinations of turquoise, orange, pinks and lilacs adding lightness to the usual Christmas reds and golds

More is more with this interiors trend, so spray paint objects pink and tie them to the tree and cover everything in rainbow glitters – including yourselves!

Read blogger Sarah Akwisombe’s Christmas styling posts for inspiration on how to bring this trend to life.

We’ve put the following tips together to help you make the most of these trends:

  • Go through your product portfolio and identify any that could sit well into a trend, refresh the product copy if relevant and optimise for any trend related natural searches
  • Experiment with some of your paid search spend – what trend related search terms could you appropriately target to pull further traffic into your product pages?
  • Ensure your social team are incorporating relevant trend hashtags into their posts about your products, you could inspire engagement from a new audience if you’re are visible
  • Include nods to the trends that sit best with your products with any seasonal photography, to ensure your imagery stays fresh and ahead of the curve
  • Try product placement or developing a relationship with key bloggers within each trend niche – featuring in their marketing and media not only positions you well within a trend, but is worth PR riches

 

Tips to help retailers win in 2017

With today’s warnings from high street bell-weather, Next, on the challenging year ahead, there’s no denying that the perfect storm of economic climate, tighter spending belts from cannier consumers and shifts in the sale seasons we’ve seen as the UK embraces Black Friday, has had a knock on effect on Christmas shopping patterns and a detrimental impact on retail revenue this season.

It’s now more important than ever to have a solid January to make up any shortfall from Christmas and put good foundations in place for a successful 2017.

We’ve put together some tips for retailers to get 2017 trading off to a good start:

Do you really know who your customers are?

The key to successful retailing, is of course, acquiring and retaining the right type of customer for your business. This is, in turn, reliant on being able to identify who they are and how to attract them.

When was the last time you had a look at your transactional data to explore who your best customers actually were, what they buy from you, how often and what they actually want from your product range and marketing?

If you don’t know that now, with 2017 set to be another fierce year competing for consumer £££s, you must spend January digging into your data and learning everything you can about your customer.

Don’t market to your customers – give them a great experience!

The luxury retail trend of providing customers with a fabulous in-store experience has finally filtered onto the high street, with TopShop and John Lewis both launching in-store facilities that brought the shopping experience to life in 2016. Creating a shopping ‘environment’ isn’t a trend that is going to go away, it’s how clever retailers now ensure retention of happy customers and it’s not confined to bricks and mortar.

When you know what your customer wants from you, emulate that experience online. Is excellent customer service more important to them than price? If so, invest in live-chat, or a better presence on social channels to answer customer queries. Do your customers ask friends and family for advice before committing to a big purchase? If so, make sure your reviews are showing up in your internet search results or work with key industry influencers to give you that editorial cache.

Most importantly, do you have the right team to deliver?

Does your existing team have the skill set to cope with the shifts in consumer expectations and the cannier digital execution needed to retain them?
Digital disciplines established in silos for years; SEO, social media, affiliates and PR are seeing a convergence like never before and you may find that a team that was previously structured beautifully now has glaring gaps from those experts who can see the bigger picture of what a customer wants and have the ability to develop quick solutions to provide it.

Use January as a time to take an objective look at the team you currently have in the business and identify where you may need to skill up.

With these foundations in place, you can look forward to 2017 and coping with all the retailing challenges it throws at you.

3 Christmas marketing tips you still have time to action

Well folks now that Halloween is over all thoughts are now firmly with the approaching Christmas sales season. Most retailers are now heading into their busiest time of year whether that is pre-Christmas gift buying or post-Christmas sales.

 

 

We always recommend that the Christmas marketing wheels start turning in July but for those retailers who have left it late (I hope not many of you!!) there are still things you can action now to maximise Christmas sales over the coming weeks.

Here are our 3 top tips that can be easily implemented now.

1.Christmas gift curation

If you sell products that are suitable as a gift then tell your customers about it! Create a separate category on your site labelled Christmas and put in it a selection of products you think are most likely to sell at Christmas or you want to particularly push. Use your paid search and clear links on the home page to drive customers to it that may be looking for gifts. In our time pressured society many consumers want you to make recommendations of great gifts to buy and why, so make it easy for them. Create sub categories “gifts for him” “gifts for her” “gifts under £20” etc. and include in your product descriptions why those products make great gifts and how quickly you can deliver them.

2.Talk to your customers about giving your products as gifts

I know it sounds obvious but you have a whole load of customers who have bought from you before that may not be thinking of you when it comes to buying presents for others. Make sure as part of your ongoing email marketing program that you are sending emails with content related specifically to Christmas gifting, not just Christmas offers (hopefully linking through to the Christmas section on your site).

3.Don’t forget key seasonal dates

Yes of course everyone knows about Black Friday, Cyber Monday etc. but just make sure you have your ducks in a row on what you are going to offer and when. Amazon have moved the goal posts again only this week by announcing 52 days of Black Friday sales with discounts galore up until 22nd Dec. They have even created a Black Friday section of the site. Whatever your take on promotional activity around these dates make sure you know what you are offering, for how long and how you are going to promote that activity across all of your channels. One tip is make sure you up weight your paid budgets for key sellers and key discounted products as well as brand around those key events to make sure you don’t miss out on traffic.

This post is short and sharp but is probably all you have time to digest in this busy season. Combine these quick tips with those from Lucy and Gwen in our previous Christmas marketing posts and you should be in a much stronger position this festive season not only to gain new customers but maximise their value into 2017.

Boost your festive ROI
Using the Christmas rush to build 2017 sales

Using the Christmas rush to build 2017 sales

For most retailers, the run up to Christmas is a very busy time, when sometimes planning and strategy fly out of the door to be replaced by ringing tills and fast and furious seasonal transacting.

But approached with thought, your Christmas rush doesn’t just need to be a short sharp peak in your annual sales figures, but can be coaxed into something a lot more meaningful for your brand.

In this blog post, we look at 3 simple tips to keep your Christmas rush paying throughout the year.

Collect, collect, collect:

Make your data collection process as quick and simple as possible.

For ecommerce retailers, as well as collecting data during the check-out process, ensure you enable relevant pop up data capture points at key areas on your homepage and as browsing customers leave the site.

For bricks and mortar retailers, investigate how you can capture email addresses along with transactional data at till point. Can you email your customers a receipt? In its simplest form, can you ask customers to leave their email addresses while the transaction is going on, with the offer of January discounts?

Ensure the process is as easy as possible, so your full time staff can fit it in to the conversation at a busy till point and seasonal staff don’t feel awkward asking. If relevant for your business, reward staff for the number of email addresses and data captured to keep that data being collected.

Segment, segment, segment:

Once the Christmas rush is over and we’re in the February lull, take the time to look through the transactional data and see what sparkly Christmas treasures it holds.

For online retailers and those bricks and mortar stores who were able to capture data electronically at till point, you should be able to segment Christmas sales into at least three simple segments:

  • Existing customers buying more at Christmas
  • Brand new customers who have never bought before
  • Those who bought last Christmas and came back for more

Each of these segments can then be nurtured with different messaging over the coming months to turn them from Christmas customers into loyal, year round shoppers:

Existing customers – communicate your thanks, ask them if their friends and family liked their gifts, (or if they enjoyed their own Christmas treats!). Offer them a friends and family incentive for those who they bought gifts for, or a thank you offer for being such a loyal customer (to coincide with any SS17 collection, obviously…).

Brand new customers – welcome them into an engagement programme, share with them your social and blog content, involve them in what you’re doing as a brand and motivate them to return to purchase.

Christmas (or sale) only customers – ask them why they don’t shop with you at any other times of the year, you’re sure to find out something useful; thank them for their input and pop them on the back burner to re-invigorate at your next sale period or Christmas.

If you can’t segment, just say thanks:

For those retailers without the ability to cross reference transactional data with customer data, a simple “thank you” can often work wonders.

Tell them you were grateful for their custom, that they made a difference to you and offer them an incentive to come back soon.

Happy Christmas!

Boost your Festive ROI – Five top tips to maximise Christmas sales

With £24 billion spent online in the UK in the 8 weeks running up to Christmas in 2015 and a further 11% rise predicted for 2016, how prepared are you to take advantage of this years bumper sales season? In this post I am going to explore five top tips to turn up the dial up on the activity you are doing already to boost ROI.

 

Dedicated Landing Page / Onsite Content

Your onsite strategy must include bespoke landing pages dedicated to Christmas, ideally getting pages live in October so they have time to bed in and become well established in time for the busy period.

Make sure your customer is at the heart of your content, consider how they might be searching, who are they buying for, what budget will they spend? Creating relevant onsite content that is useful, engaging and that has a clear call to action will be key to driving conversion.

Curate your best edit into a Christmas Gift guide, price band filtering to easily aid customers who have a specific budget in mind, along with ‘Gifts for him’, ‘Gifts for her’, ‘Gifts for kids’ to direct users to the most relevant content.

Getting your onsite content nailed then allows you to integrate your offsite strategy and funnel people to the most relevant content. Creating a consistent message on and off site, increasing awareness, engagement and ultimately conversion through a targeted approach.

Make sure messaging, offers and promotions in your offsite activity are clearly detailed on the landing page you are directing customers to, there’s nothing more frustrating than landing on a page without the relevant information on the offer, promotion or product you’ve seen.

Brand Paid Search

Brand Paid Search can be used cheaply and effectively to promote onsite messages and promotions. Creating consistent messaging across touch points.

“But no one is bidding on my brand term” I hear you cry “why would I pay for traffic I am getting organically?!” A very valid question…

Not all retailers run brand Paid Search year round, if you have no competition on your brand terms why would you? Competition or not, tactical use of Brand and Brand + Product Paid Search gives you seasonal and time sensitive flexibility in your message, that your well optimised but generic Natural Search listing can’t. Using site links to drive traffic to your Christmas content, gift guides and dedicated landing pages, plus call out extensions to highlight key messages such as delivery, price matching, returns etc.

If you haven’t already completed your trademark authorisation with Google, this allows you to associate your Adwords account as the trademark owner, create a list of authorised resellers if appropriate. We’ve seen clients brand CPCs drop after they have claimed and managed their Trademark authorisation.

Personalisation of offers

Use your data wisely, tap into your customer segments and personalise your message across touch points. Offering your customers relevant and timely offers that will drive them back to the site to buy.

Not all site visitors are made equal, use your remarketing lists and customer segments to create a more personalised message depending on the visitors site behaviour.

Abandon baskets being the Holy Grail and those primed to buy. Often retailers are all too quick to go straight in with a discount, when people can be tempted back without taking a big hit on your margin. We have seen great success with a tiered offering, for example:

No purchase within 24 hours – Free Next Day Delivery
No purchase within 1 week – Gift with purchase / free gift wrapping
No purchase within 2 weeks – X% discount

New vs returning – Depending on your strategy whether that be acquisition, retention or both! Use your remarketing list for search ads to show new and returning visitors different, relevant and personalised messages e.g. introductory offer to new customers, returning visitor promotional code. Also optimise bids based on behaviour so perhaps a 25% bid increase for returning customers.

RLSAs will also allow you to target terms you wouldn’t normally target, it opens up keywords that perhaps would be too expensive and perhaps broad, just for visitors who have been to the site or who have converted before.

Create sense of urgency

Black Friday was the busiest trading week last year with estimated sales of £4.3 billion last year, up 62% on 2014. In just two years the shift from Black Friday being a Bricks and Mortar event on a single day to a week of online offers.

Why have we all gone so crazy for Black Friday and Cyber Monday? Creating that sense of urgency with time sensitive offers is a brilliant conversion tactic to push people to purchase, however don’t over use it or people will learn to ignore it.

  • Some examples on how to do this:
  • Flash sale / promotions for a limited time period
  • AdWords dynamic countdown ads are a great, they have proven to significantly increase CTR and drive more traffic to the site
  • Sneak previews for your VIPs – let them have access to say the Christmas edit, Sale or similar 24 hours before it’s unveiled to the general public
  • Shipping offers for a limited period
  • Last order dates to get in time for Christmas
  • Stock levels for products with limited availability

Social commerce

So you’ve spent 2016 gaining followers, driving engagement, so how can you monetise social further in the busy period?

Optimise your calls to action, for example on Facebook:

  • Shop Now – direct fans to your website if sales are the primary objective
  • Send Message – Allows fans to send a private message directly to your Facebook account, where you could start the order process
  • Call Now – you get the idea right!

Facebook Shop:

Most ecommerce platforms now have an app or plugin to pull your site inventory into Facebook. We saw sales increase 50% after launching a Facebook Shop and promoting through Paid Social ads. With the rise of mobile commerce people are far more comfortable buying direct from their phone and through social commerce.

Content Optimisation:

Ensure that content is optimised for each channel. This will ensure a high quality appearance, better visibility within users’ timelines and increased engagement. One size does not fit all!

Promoted Content:

Organic reach has declined dramatically on all platforms, particularly Facebook. Boosting posts on Facebook and Twitter with small amounts of budget can drastically increase reach and engagement, as well as driving fan acquisition.

Ultimately these tips are designed to help you squeeze the ROI out of activity you are already doing, maximising visibility and efficiency of budget and time invested over the next 10 weeks.