Archive for the ‘eCommerce’ Category

Help DIY-ers Get Things Done this Summer

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

DIY photoThe weather’s warm. The days are long. Some call it summer. For others, it’s do-it-yourself season – and it officially kicks off with the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.

Online sales for hardware and home improvement retailers continue to grow, and it’s no wonder.

The Internet boasts an endless supply of project ideas, before-and-after galleries and video tutorials. Most recently, Nifty’s “stuffed animal zoo” video made the rounds on my Facebook feed, and it was enough to make me want to try my hand at building something. (I didn’t but I still might.)

Customers with varying levels of expertise (me versus a professional) is one of the challenges retailers in this space face. Another issue is that certain products – appliances versus building materials, for example – are searched for in different ways. Appliance or décor purchases may be driven by price, brand or appearance, whereas those looking for a tool or part need to match a particular specification, such as gauge, thread size or dimension.

However, the right e-commerce solutions can help you overcome these hurdles and deliver an exceptional shopping experience.

Provide Highly Relevant Search

If shoppers can’t find what they want in the first page of results, they are likely to believe you don’t carry the item and abandon your site. Show customers the most relevant items first and you’ll increase the likelihood that they’ll make a purchase. Automatically present relevant products, images and other information as soon as visitors start typing letters into the search box.

Search by Various Measurement Units

Are your products specified by measurement in fractions or decimals? Site visitors don’t always search for products using the same unit names or symbols. Whether they search “8.5 x 12.375” or “8 ½ x 12 3/8,” your site search should accommodate searches with standard or metric units so customers are always presented with the right products.

Match Full or Partial SKUs or Part Numbers

Many tools and building materials are referenced by a SKU instead of a product name. Additionally, customers visiting your site may only have a manufacturer’s part number as a reference for what they need. Make sure your search can match full or partial SKUs, making it easy for customers or customer service teams to find a product quickly.

Target Your Customers by Location

Your customers’ needs and your ability to deliver might be different based on geography. Make sure your site search can integrate geolocation services to allow deeper segmentation of products by location. This allows you greater control over regional variations in price, function or other attributes. Additionally, you can point them to the closest store.

Index Educational Information & Specs

Whether you target B2B or B2C customers, education is an important factor in your e-commerce site. New homeowners may want basic information on how to make repairs, while contractors or architects may need technical specifications. Keep all of your documents, online articles, video tutorials, reviews and other non-product content easily searchable, so customers always find what they need.

For more tips, check out the SLI industry brief Do It Yourself: Hardware, Appliances and Tools.

Fighting for Better E-commerce, Everlast Finds Its “Big Win” in SLI

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

Everlast Image for Blog 10May16

Each time I interview an SLI customer for a case study, it’s a privilege to hear firsthand how our solutions make a significant impact on retailers’ growth. One of my most recent interviews was with Everlast E-commerce Director Mike Ebert, who told me that site search was one of the first things he looked at when he joined Everlast in mid-2014, and that implementing SLI was one of the biggest “wins” he’s had in the changes made since.

“I’ve known about SLI forever and wanted to work with you guys since I was on the agency side,” Ebert said.

“At Everlast, one of the first things I looked at was how easy it was for people to find things on the site. I typed in red boxing gloves and didn’t get any boxing gloves, which was a problem! Only 1% of traffic was engaging with search and only 0.15% of that traffic was converting. It was a blip in what it contributed to Everlast’s revenue,” he said.

Everlast, whose brand is older than the zipper (the company was founded in 1910), controls about 85% of the boxing products market, according to SportsOneSource LLC. Mike knew it was time Everlast.com became a larger revenue-contributing part of the global business, and he set out on a number of new projects to make that happen.

Search First

First, Mike worked with SLI to implement SLI Learning Search®, SLI Rich Auto Complete™ and SLI Learning Navigation®. Moving from Yahoo site search to SLI, Everlast immediately resolved the problem of customers not being able to find the products they were looking for. The results were clear: with SLI, conversions for site search increased 6x.

“I knew I could get SLI up and running quickly and deliver benefits right away,” Ebert said. “It didn’t take much and it produces results.”

Everlast’s success is showcased in an SLI case study.

Replatforming Second

After solving the problem of product findability, Ebert next tackled the job of looking for a new platform and a design agency to create a modern, mobile-friendly site.

Ebert chose the Magento platform, then worked with e-commerce site development specialists Blue Acorn to create a sleek new fitness-inspired site, based on Magento Edition 1.14’s native responsive functionality. The new design makes use of Everlast’s stunning product photography, creates a better user experience and makes administrative management much easier. Read more about this process in Blue Acorn’s case study with Everlast.

Merchandising Third

Everlast also solved its need to showcase products in unique ways with the SLI Merchandising Console. With the ability to create banners on results pages and promote specific products, Everlast is now able to merchandize to two separate customer groups – its longtime customer base of boxing enthusiasts, and a new group of customers looking to add boxing to an overall fitness routine.

For additional promotional efforts, Everlast began working with Bronto to improve its email communication. Now when new customers come to the Everlast site and sign up for emails, they receive a “Welcome” series of emails – these drive 38% of total email revenue, while accounting for only 2.3% of email sends.

“SLI is our big win,” Ebert said, “Now revenue from search represents 10% of Everlast’s revenue.”

He added: “You guys and Bronto are the best tech implementations we have.”

We’re glad to hear it, Mike. Keep fighting for better e-commerce!

Infographic: How We Shop for the Love of Mom

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

Mother's-Day-Infographic2may2016_blog

Aussie Retailers Imagine the Future of E-commerce at Annual Summit

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

SLI Connect AU photo 2SLI Systems welcomed leading retailers and e-commerce experts from across Australia to the second SLI Connect Sydney summit last week. Hosted at the iconic Sydney Opera House, the event featured a strong lineup of top brands, including Krispy Kreme, Nisbets, Shopbot, eStar, Braintree, Temando, ChannelAdvisor and Bronto Software. Throughout the day, speakers and guests alike discussed the future of e-commerce and how retailers need to evolve in a fast-changing world.

Change is constant in the e-commerce industry

Consumer purchasing habits are changing. Smartphones and tablets now account for 55 percent of time spent shopping online. And we no longer make purchases through one channel alone.

As Tim Davies, known in the industry as “Mr. eBay” explained, “sometimes we begin buying on one device and then move onto another before making a purchase. Brands need to respond with an omnichannel approach.”

Importantly, it’s no longer just millennials who are digitally savvy. The older generation, those known as digital dinosaurs, are now taking their shopping habits online. And with more disposable income, they offer a new opportunity for e-commerce retailers.

SLI Connect AU photoRetailers embrace new technology to remain competitive

Despite acknowledged challenges from international competitors, there was a real sense of optimism in the room. Retailers are taking steps to remain competitive, with nine out of 10 having updated their e-commerce strategies in the last year and adopting new technologies, such as optimising for mobile.

One of our keynote speakers, Krispy Kreme’s Digital Business Manager, Richard Schulman, emphasised the role of e-commerce tools in providing a high-quality customer experience and, ultimately, driving sales.

“It’s no secret that e-commerce retailers need to streamline their websites and make sure that they are easy to use for the average punter, but the secret is how,” he said. “Most businesses don’t realise how easy it is, or how important it is.”

It’s time to go mobile

The importance of mobile was a key theme throughout the day. Mobile commerce now accounts for 11% of e-commerce sales – and this figure is set to rise.

The growth in mobile has huge implications for e-commerce. No retailer wants to provide a poor mobile user experience as it creates friction for shoppers in finding and buying.

More than half of the retailers at SLI Connect had optimised their website for mobile and tablet – and those who hadn’t, have made it a priority for 2016.

No “silver bullet” for long-term success

Looking to the future, Blair Cassidy, VP of product management at SLI Systems, painted a compelling vision for the role of virtual reality in the future of e-commerce. He challenged innovative retailers to take the lead in implementing this promising technology.

But while virtual reality and other online retail technologies have much to offer e-commerce in the future, a key takeaway from the event was that no single approach or tool holds the key to success.

“There is no ‘silver bullet’ for success,” said panel member, John Menagh, director of sales at eStar. “Retailers must ensure their online and offline strategies are in harmony, so that consumers receive a consistent, high-quality experience of your brand, where ever they are.”

So that’s it for this year’s SLI Connect Sydney! A big thank you to all who attended, guests, speakers and sponsors, and for making our second SLI Connect such a success. The next SLI Connect event is planned for September 15, 2016 in New York City at the magnificent Carnegie Hall! Save the date and stay tuned – registration will open soon. Click here to view survey results from SLI Connect UK, which was held in March.

Your Shoppers Shouldn’t Need Luck

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

cloverSome people are just born lucky. You know the ones. It doesn’t matter if they are at a garage sale, flea market or thrift store, they are going to find exactly what they are looking for every time. It’s going to be the perfect size, the hottest color and an outrageously good deal. Their natural good fortune seems to be the only help they need.

Good for them, I say. But luck is not everyone’s lot in life.

What about the unlucky ones. The ones who can’t find a parking spot let alone a pair of Jimmy Choo’s for a screaming discount in the exact right fit and shade.

Yes, I know this is a first-world problem. But life is hard enough for the I-never-catch-a-break crowd. Shopping shouldn’t be a burden too. I can hear them muttering, “Why bother looking for a new dress. I never find anything I like anyway.”

Online retailers, you have the power to make even your most unlucky shoppers feel like they’ve won a million bucks.

First of all, I’m going to assume that if you are reading this blog you value site search. Hopefully, you are already delivering amazingly relevant search results based on what shoppers are most likely to buy. (If you have any questions about this, feel free to call us.) OK, moving on.

Give good recommendations. Almost every site has recommendations these days. That doesn’t mean they are any good. Don’t clutter the shopping experience by displaying random products. Smart recommendations provide a personal shopping experience. For instance, people who bought that lipstick also bought this blush. It’s like a knowledgeable salesperson is walking your shoppers through your store, and that makes shoppers feel cared for and understood.

Build buyer confidence. If you think you are unlucky, you might be hesitant about making an online purchase. After all, you might want to see the product in person before deciding to buy. Help shoppers overcome this mental hurdle by showing them every angle of the product in easy-to-view photos. In addition, catwalk and customer videos provide that almost in real life experience. This can be helpful when selling everything from clothes and accessories to dirt bikes and motorcycles.

Provide a seamless experience from any device. Don’t even try to ignore this one. We are a society addicted to our phones and tablets and phablets. Make sure your shoppers can shop at any time from any device. In addition, if your site is not mobile-friendly, it will hurt your site’s ranking in Google’s organic search results. (By the way, you’re invited to the upcoming Internet Retailer webinar: Mobilegeddon: Not Over Yet.)

The bottom line is this: The smarter your site is, the luckier your shoppers will feel. And who doesn’t like feeling lucky?

For more tips on improving your shopping experience, check out our Big Book of Site Search Tips.

Win Parent Shoppers with a Baby-Friendly Site

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

What once was considered a niche market is now a booming billion-dollar industry. Savvy parents are ready to spend a pretty penny to give their bundles of joy the best start in life. Despite declining birth rates in many countries, the global baby care market is growing at a CAGR of 7% and is expected to reach $66.8 billion by 2017, according to Transparency Research (2014).

surfstitchYou don’t have to have a dedicated site for baby products to win these valuable customers. Many health and pharmacy retailers are catering more to the “parent and baby” demographic. Even lifestyle and outdoor retailers are adding infant and toddler items to their product offerings.

Here are a few ways that any online retailer with baby or toddler products can gain a greater share of parents’ and grandparents’ spending.

Focus on Mobile

Browsing the Internet with both hands free is considered a luxury for new parents. Swaying back and forth with a tiny infant in arms and a smartphone in hand is a much more common scene. Consider your site new-parent ready if the desperately sleep deprived can find what they are looking for while only using their thumbs. You’ll want to enhance the real estate of smaller screens while delivering relevant results with speed.

bodenIn addition, think about how best to streamline the purchase process for mobile shoppers. The fewer clicks, the better. Make sure shoppers have the option to save payment and shipping information so they only have to enter it once.

Make the Experience Highly Personal

A few months make a world of difference when it comes to what a baby needs and what parents want to buy. For example, moms and dads of newborns are searching for the perfect swaddle while parents of 6-month-olds are introducing solid foods and encouraging their babies to sit on their own.

When parents sign up to receive emails, gather the dates of birth, sex and names of their children. Tailor email campaigns and curate landing pages with products that match the baby’s age and each exciting developmental stage. In other words, send emails specific to celebrating a baby’s first birthday when the child turns 1, but avoid cluttering up your customers’ inboxes with irrelevant messages about newborns when their baby is already a toddler.

Your clickthrough rate on emails will be higher when parents know you are giving them valuable information specific to their kids. Also, keep in mind that parents will open a majority of those emails on a smartphone or tablet, so make sure both the email and the landing pages are tailored for the mobile experience.

Is it a Binky, Paci, Dummy, Soother or Comforter?

Does your site speak Baby? The pacifier alone has more than 100 pet names. Learning your customers’ language means they will more likely find the products they had in mind. Alternatively, ignoring synonyms, misspellings and popular pet names could lead to search queries ending in a “no results” page by mistake.

In-Store or Curbside Pick Up

Out of diapers and wipes? Need a humidifier for baby’s first cold? Sometimes even overnight delivery isn’t fast enough. If you are a retailer with brick-and-mortar locations, consider allowing customers to complete their purchases online and pick up products the same day at the store. Or even better, deliver their orders curbside to their cars. This will save parents time and keep them from having to wake a sleeping baby.

Chemist Direct Mother & Baby ExampleCater to Moms

Babies aren’t the only ones who need special care. Retailers can gain brand loyalty before the little one even arrives by helping moms-to-be navigate fertility issues, morning sickness, stretch marks and postpartum preparation. These categories are often labeled “conception,” “pregnancy” and “maternity.”

For more tips on delivering an exceptional online shopping experience that will win over parents and grandparents shopping for baby and toddler items, take a look at our E-commerce Baby Boom industry brief.

The Path to Selling Includes Sharing

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

How-to Videos for E-commerceYour online retail site is about more than just the products you sell. It’s also a valuable resource for your users. It should be engaging, offering unique photos, videos, articles and features that shoppers won’t get anywhere else. This content is a powerful tool that you can use to boost your brand and elevate your sales.

The creative use of content can give e-commerce customers a unique and memorable shopping experience – one that creates brand loyalty and convinces customers to buy.

There are many types of non-product content you can use to enhance your shoppers’ experience, and ultimately lead them to a purchase. Some of the top content types used on retail sites are social posts, blogs and how-to articles.

Showcase social posts

A social media strategy is a given for any online merchant today. When you integrate content from your social media networks into your main website, you can deliver more information to buyers and get them excited about purchasing your products. Show that your social pages offer reliable, valuable content and it will compel users to keep coming back for more.

Social content is especially important because it gives the consumer a window into how others are using the products they’re considering purchasing. Some photos, videos or blogs might appeal to a consumer’s practical decision-making by showing the quality and price of the item. Other posts might strike an emotional response, creating a desire for the item because it’s fun or in-fashion. Either way, social content can be a strong influencer in motivating shoppers to buy.

To take your social strategy to the next level, you can also tune in to the Tuesday, March 8 PracticalEcommerce webinar: 5 Ways Social Listening Can Drive Ecommerce Sales.

Be a blogger

A blog is an excellent way to incorporate great non-product content into your retail site while also showcasing your brand’s individual voice. It can also generate some great organic traffic to your site, since search engines like Google and Bing rate quality, consistent content higher in the rankings. A relevant blog naturally improves your SEO. As search engines increase in sophistication, the days of stuffing blog posts with relevant keywords are over. When you create posts that are relevant to your brand, they will naturally place high in search rankings. It also follows that other sites will want to link to this useful content, increasing the reach of your blog posts.

Giving customers insight into your company helps shoppers feel like they can get to know your brand and what it stands for, which helps to create loyalty that will drive future sales.

Offer how-to articles and videos

Inform your customers not only about what your product is, but also about what it can do. Offering how-to articles, particularly in the form of nicely edited videos, display your brand’s expert knowledge to users. When shoppers see that your company is an authority in the field, they will return to your site as a reliable resource again and again. Maybe they’ll come for those valuable instructions, but they are also very likely to come back to make purchases.

Make it Easy to Find

Whichever type(s) of content you integrate into your retail site, you have to be sure users will see it. Be sure it shows up in your search and navigation results. Then feature it prominently using tabbed results pages.

For the full set of tips and examples of integrating content into your e-commerce site, download our e-book: Use Creative Content to Convince Online Shoppers to Buy.

Get Ready for Bunnies & Blooming E-commerce

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

Boden SpringLove was so last Sunday. Now spring is in the merchandising air.

Never mind the polar vortex hitting the East and Midwest. Easter and its Bunny are arriving Sunday, March 27 – a full three weeks earlier than last year when it hopped onto the scene April 20.

With this year’s abbreviated shopping season, every merchandising day matters. Whether your shoppers celebrate Easter or just long for spring, this is the time to remind them that warmer weather is on the horizon.

Easter is historically the fifth largest spending holiday of the year (after Valentine’s Day but before Father’s Day, Super Bowl, Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day), according to the National Retail Federation.

Candy WarehouseEven if you’re boasting the most beautiful in-store displays, there’s good reason to focus your attention on winning online spring shoppers. Last year, online Easter shoppers planned to spend an average $221.39 – a whopping 58 percent more than brick-and-mortar Easter shoppers, according to the National Retail Federation.

What will shoppers put in their baskets? Food, clothing, gifts, candy and flowers are the top five spending categories for Easter. But don’t make your visitors hunt for what they want.

Boden dressesRead their minds. If shoppers type “Easter” in your site’s search box, make sure your site returns relevant results right away. Candy Warehouse is crushing this by instantly showing search suggestions and product results.

Curate a collection. Boden is using a banner to prompt shoppers to “Make room for new-season dresses.” But the merchandising doesn’t stop there. Clicking on the banner takes shoppers to a collection of spring dresses.

H&D EasterShow the love. Harry & David’s search results not only showcase the most relevant products, but shoppers can quickly see which items have the best and most reviews. This is a great to give browsers the social proof they need to make a buying decision.

For more tips on improving your e-commerce merchandising, download our free white paper Use Site Search Data to Improve Merchandising.

Help Cupids Find the Perfect Valentine’s Day Gift

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

Cupids (disguised as last-minute shoppers) are aiming their arrows at the hearts of their beloveds. Guide them to the perfect gifts with insight from last year’s Valentine’s Day e-commerce trends, as well as by following these 5 tips to help online shoppers find what they’re looking for this Valentine’s Day.

Another way you can give love a nudge and fuel romance is to follow the tips and tricks in the infographic below from The Shelf. (Hint: If you aren’t marketing to men between 25 and 34 years old, you are missing the mark.)

download-(27)_edv3

Amazon & You: How to Win

Friday, February 5th, 2016

Last week SLI Systems sponsored the Internet Retailer webinar Amazon & You: Top New Competitive Strategies for 2016. eShopportunity founder Fahim Naim and Medelita CMO Dan Stephchew took a look at what is emerging as the best ways for online retailers to compete with Amazon.

The webinar was jam-packed with examples from the recent 2015 holiday shopping season (including how to gracefully opt out of Black Friday without killing your sales).

While Amazon is undeniably a Goliath, you can beat the e-commerce giant by turning its weaknesses into your strengths. Here are a few key takeaways:

Help shoppers find what they are looking for. Amazon isn’t the easiest place to shop. It can feel like you are wandering through a huge warehouse without a soul in sight to help you. You have little choice but to base your purchasing decisions on price and reviews.

Fahim advises, “Do a better job of helping customers engage and find relative products.”

An effective way of providing a more satisfying shopping experience is by delivering relevant site search results. Engage customers further by offering a product or gift finder, which suggests a collection of products based on a series of questions. This level of personalization is impossible to deliver via the Amazon interface and it allows you to build brand loyalty.

Treat shoppers differently. Amazon is one-size-fits-all. There is no room to massage your message for different audiences. As a result, you miss the opportunity to create tailored offers for different shoppers, like first-time buyers and loyal customers. You can outshine Amazon in this area by leveraging your email marketing with content and offers designed to reach specific shoppers.

Own long-tail search terms. It’s OK if Amazon wins broad keyword searches. Shoppers who find your site via long-tail search terms are more likely to find exactly what it is they want to buy. You can build landing pages specific to these keywords. (To learn more about this, check out the webinar Advanced Data Mining.)

For more competitive strategies, watch the Internet Retailer webinar. To see how SLI Systems can help you implement these strategies, join us for our next live demo on March 8.