Not right now.

Insights from the eTail 2013 Retail Technology Spending Report

Saturday, June 15, 2013 by

In an effort to uncover technology spending habits, eTail surveyed over 100 retailers in a number of verticals in apparel, sporting goods, consumer electronics, travel and hospitality, mass market retailers and specialty retailers. Among the key trends of interest to us are what retailers plan to spend the most and least on in the next year, and what primarily influences their purchasing decisions. Furniture retailers take note: efforts in the online channel win best in show.

Retail spending over the next year

It’s not surprising that retailers surveyed in the eTail Retail Technology spending report are taking advantage of online opportunities to spend their hard earned dollars.

Here are the numbers:

  • 58% of retailers are planning to spend on online video
  • 55% on content management/e-commerce platforms
  • 40% on merchandising and visualization

In addition, 60% of respondents are planning to spend more in the next year on SEO, SEM, personalization, mobile (site design) and social engagement (earned). Areas that didn’t make the cut and that retailers will certainly spend less on were CRM systems, display advertising and media (paid advertising).

For Blueport’s furniture retailers, enabling their e-commerce platforms is top of mind for business success, but merchandising and promotions in unique ways (like with online video) go hand in hand with the effort.

Influences on Purchasing Decisions

When it comes to deciding on what areas will most benefit retailers, there are several influences in purchasing decisions. The ones that are most paramount to us are:

  • 36% of overall spending decisions are based upon a management decision
  • 12% mobile site design decisions are made based upon time to market
  • 25% mobile apps are based on competitive pressures
  • 15% of content management solutions are based on ease of execution

So what does this information mean for furniture retailers? 36% of content management/e-commerce platform and global technology decisions are also based upon a management decision. Furniture retailers who are looking to take advantage of enabling their businesses for e-commerce not only have to compete with overall spending decisions at the management level, but also the decision to enable their platforms for e-commerce. And, as we’ve discussed time and again, mobile plays a large factor in retailer success. An overwhelming majority of retailers surveyed answered that mobile would see the most growth in the next year.

No matter where retailers are planning to spend on technology in the next year, the front runners are clearly in many aspects of the online channel. And, at Blueport Commerce, we’ve got our furniture retailers covered on their e-commerce platforms, merchandising, mobile and content management needs.


About Blueport Commerce

With Blueport Commerce, furniture retailers can build an integrated, branded e-commerce platform online, elevating their brands and creating an ultimate online superstore. Blueport Commerce is the only e-commerce technology and services company that localizes furniture retail online. We serve the top furniture retail chains with billions in sales interested in selling furniture online. Blueport Commerce is a full-service solution that combines a decade of experience, innovative technology and customized marketing services to meet the unique, localized needs of furniture retail chains. Learn more here. And, if you’re interested in working for Blueport, check out our e-commerce jobs on our careers page.

Email’s Not Dead for E-Commerce, But a Little Relevance Goes a Long Way

Friday, August 17, 2012 by

With stretched resources and even more marketing channels than ever, the upcoming Q4 is a looming proposition for many retailers. Now is a great time to take a hard look at your digital marketing tactics, and allocate your resources based on what really works. And many retailers will see that good, old email is still a winner.

But Why Email?

With social media this and Instagram that, how can old-fashioned email compete? Well, we’re not necessarily talking about old-fashioned email, but we’ll get into that later. First, take a look at these stats from ExactTarget’s 2012 Channel Preference Survey:

  • 77% of consumers prefer emails for their permission-based marketing.
  • 91% access their email daily, compared to 57% who access Facebook at that same frequency.
  • 66% have made a purchase as a result of an email message.
  • 63% use email to share content with friends and family.

So now the question of why email becomes how can you, as an e-commerce retailer, use email to get consumers to purchase? The answer is creating relevant touch points between you and your customers.

Send Targeted Emails

Email targeting is not just about including your customer’s name, although that sometimes is a nice touch. Better targeting is about sending the right emails to the correct customer base, leveraging data you have to make it a meaningful interaction, ranging from recent product views to recommendations and interests based on third parties. “This strategy is not only effective in short-term results, but my research has shown that it also greatly improves overall engagement of your subscribers. If someone is only receiving emails based on topics that they have proven to be interested in (and therefore not receiving emails that don't interest them), they will begin to trust your brand more and be more likely to open messages and interact further with your company on a long-term basis,” says a ClickZ piece titled “Breaking News: Email’s Not Dead!

And Trigger Emails

Trigger emails are those that get sent to a customer based on an action, like registering for the website, abandoning the shopping cart or even recently visiting the website. Often automated, these triggers tie right into the action your customer recently took. Triggers can be a powerful reminder and incite action. According to one MarketingSherpa case study, a motorcycle dealer receives an average 52% open rate and a 7% conversion rate. We’ve achieved similar results for our clients with trigger email programs.

Has this sparked some ideas for how you might optimize your own e-commerce email programs?

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Are Trigger Emails the Real One-to-One Communication for E-Commerce?

Friday, January 27, 2012 by
For years, the promise of one-to-one communications with customers has made online marketers giddy with the personalized messages they’d be able to deliver and the resounding results they’d get back. Sadly, reality isn’t always the same as what we can dream up.

In the case of one-to-one marketing, the tools technically exist. Companies have rich data on their customers and e-mail systems have the ability to target based on them, but the missing ingredient is the content that has to be generated to create this truly unique messaging. Is the content creation and its associated cost worth the return on investment, or is there a better way?

Here at Blueport, we’ve worked to achieve true one-to-one communication for our clients and have seen few returns. But trigger messages based on the customers’ lifecycle has been a completely different story. We’re able to segment users and send them relevant messages based on actions they’ve taken on the website. If marketers get too specific, the messaging becomes hard to maintain without becoming more useful .

Apparently we're not the only ones to come to this conclusion. According to a recent article on ClickZ, “Triggered communications are being widely adopted. This is messaging that, while not necessarily personalized in content, is triggered in response to specific behaviors or events, giving each recipient the feeling that the message was personal due to contextual relevance. Whether it's time, location, or behaviorally triggered, such messaging can feel extremely personal and engaging even though it may be being sent to thousands of recipients each day.”

This year, I have seen our retailers embrace the trigger/lifecycle message concept as a requirement to how they do business thanks to its positive ROI and high user engagement. It's just one way we're making ourselves relevant to our customers and not just another retailer in the crowd.

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Copyright 2010, Official Blog of Blueport Commerce

Consistency Is Key in This Multichannel Retail World

Friday, July 1, 2011 by
We’ve all read the news – most likely on a tablet or e-reader of choice – that brick-and-mortar bookstores are closing left and right as their electronic counterparts comparably flourish. But recently, I needed a book.

As do many shoppers, I began with online research. I went straight to a major book retailers’ website and located the title. I was disappointed that I could no longer order the book online for in-store pickup or even find out if my local store had the book in stock. But I could locate the closest store, which took some doing in light of the above-mentioned closings.

In-store, the item was priced 30% more than on the retailer’s website. The manager explained it was for the convenience of coming into the store, and no, it’s not confusing, because the company gets the money either way. I left unlikely to buy from the store or the e-commerce site again.

A Seamless Experience Between Online and In-Store

Of all the retail categories to know the right way to sell in a multichannel retail environment, you would expect books to have it mastered. After all, e-commerce began with bookselling.

Seeing where the book retailer got it wrong, while we here at Blueport are able to get it right as we help our retailers sell big-ticket items online, reminded me of just how new e-commerce and getting different retail channels to work together is.

But consumers are ready, and delivering a consistent experience between all of your retail channels is a must, particularly for considered purchases like furniture and appliances. This is why we tie into our retailers’ existing systems to show their customers consistent local pricing, real-time availability and a way to see the items in a store or to order online. We allow our retailers to give their customers control, so they can get the information they need, whenever and however they want it.

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Copyright 2010, Official Blog of Blueport Commerce

How Does Your Ecommerce Shopping Software Manage Stock-Outs?

Thursday, April 14, 2011 by
New research from Oregon State University finds that, in addition to lost revenue, online stock-outs can also cause long-term brand damage due to customer dissatisfaction, a decrease in return visits and negative word-of-mouth.

Consumers' negative reactions were all linked to how B2C ecommerce websites manage stock-outs. Online retailers that do not notify customers until checkout that an item is out of stock are rated significantly worse than stores that let their customers know about avaialbility earlier in the shopping process.

Blueport's B2C Ecommerce Solution for Managing Stock Online

We designed Blueport Commerce's ecommerce shopping software to help big-ticket retailers mitigate this negative reaction to stock-outs. We integrate directly into a store’s inventory system and display updated, real-time product availability information. And we've designed our clients' websites to display important availability information for the consumer right on the product page based on stock, incoming purchase orders or inter-store transfers. Consumers know the local in-store availability and delivery dates before they add an item to their shopping carts.

Customer satisfaction can make or break your business. You need to leverage the right ecommerce CRM software to help keep your customers on your website -- after all, your competitors are only a click away.

Copyright 2010, Official Blog of Blueport Commerce

Ecommerce CRM Becomes More Meaningful in a Multichannel, Social World

Wednesday, October 20, 2010 by

If you are an ecommerce marketing professional today, you're pretty lucky. Social media allows us to reach out to our customers -- and prospects -- in ways we never could before. We can join in on our customers’ playground (aka, social networks), and in many cases, they’re welcoming us with open arms. The ways in which we can interact with customers and market to them based on how they use and access social networking sites allows for a deeper level of ecommerce CRM than ever before.

Thanks to technology, we have so many ways to reach out to our customers: email, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Groupon and more. And our customers have more ways to access the content we push out. They no longer need to be near a computer or mailbox to receive our latest messages. And based on their interactions with us and their networks, we know more about our customers and can market to them as such. There’s a lot more for ecommerce marketers to manage when it comes to customer relationship management.

The Most Exciting Aspect of Ecommerce CRM

As a marketing veteran, I think the most exciting innovations in ecommerce CRM form around being able to join in the conversation. We can easily tap into what customers are saying about our companies. We can thank for them the good and reach out to remedy the bad. Ecommerce CRM is more about relationships with give and take now than ever before.

ECRM Guide offers 10 tips for using social media to improve CRM. Here are a few of my favorites from the list:

  • Use tools like TweetDeck to monitor what is being said about your company on Twitter.
  • Respond to customers on Facebook, Twitter and your blog in a timely manner.
  • Use social media to include your customers in product decisions, like finding out which sales offer they’d prefer.
What's your favorite new way to market?

Approaching E-Commerce Applications With The Wisdom of Maturity

Monday, March 8, 2010 by

Blueport Commerce approaches technology with the wisdom of maturity.  The Blueport technology team has experience in the e-commerce space dating back to the 1990s and has experienced firsthand the full panoply of technology hype from that era and since.  With this experience we conservatively maintain loyalty to cost effective e-commerce applications while aggressively adopting proven new technologies.

Our core infrastructure is based on products from Microsoft, Adobe, HP, Cisco, F5, and Akamai.  We utilize Microsoft’s .Net software development platform and SQL Server database engine as the foundation for our proprietary e-commerce platform.   Visually engaging client side e-commerce applications are built with Adobe Flash.  We implement secure connectivity with a range of Cisco IOS products.  Our server farms are principally made up of HP servers running Microsoft Windows.  We manage demand for our client web portals with F5 load balancers.  Akamai provides us with geographic edge caching of content.  None of these technology partners were born after Y2K but all are excellent with proven staying power.

Our e-commerce platform, shared by all of our clients, represents 10 years of evolution shaped by the unique requirements of “big ticket” e-commerce - from local branding, regional product availability, regional pricing and sale events, coupons, consumer financing, variable lead times, and the CRM and CMS systems to support them.  With this library of processes and functionalities available to us, we can focus on the unique requirements of our clients rather than reinventing these complex processes or trying to repurpose an “off the shelf” e-commerce platform designed for simpler transactions.

Our custom platform can also adapt easily to partner systems.   The long service technologies making up our core have naturally evolved integration pathways with most other competitive products.  We leverage these to work freely with partner systems rooted in Oracle, IBM, and other, less well known companies.

Best Practices for Big-Ticket Ecommerce CRM

Thursday, February 25, 2010 by

In big-ticket retail, purchase decisions take longer for a variety of reasons: products tend to have higher price tags, customization is part of the process, and often the input of another party is sought before making a final decision.

Retailers in this space need ecommerce CRM and email marketing tools to help them actively persuade customers during the decision-making process, by finding the combination of personalized content and offers that drive a customer to buy. These same tools assist retailers in making sure a first-time customer becomes a customer for life.

With a robust ecommerce CRM database solution retailers can capture customers' online shopping behaviors, account information and satisfaction scores. Store information can be cross-referenced for a complete picture of a customer's online and offline activity, which is key for big-ticket ecommerce.


Going Beyond Your Standard Ecommerce Platform: A Big-Ticket Retailer's Wishlist

Thursday, February 25, 2010 by
Unlike most retailers looking to sell their products online, big-ticket retailers need an ecommerce platform that is specifically designed to address the "big-ticket" barriers that have prevented them from going online.

Unlike their mass merchandise counterparts, big-ticket retailers need a platform that will help them overcome challenges such as:

  • Merchandising products that are challenging to sell online because they are expensive, unbranded, not well understood or highly customizable
  • Managing shipping requirements and costs for products that have complex delivery requirements that can't be met by standard parcel services
  • Integrating franchise or co-op models where brand, product offering and distribution is controlled locally by independent dealers
  • Greater emphasis on cross-channel shopping

These retailers need a system that goes beyond just a standard ecommerce platform.  They need a business solution that integrates their ecommerce store into a seamless multi-channel strategy offering. 

Key ecommerce platform requirements for big-ticket retailers include:

  • Localization
  • Custom System Integration
  • Online Merchandising
  • Online Marketing
  • E-Commerce
  • Order Tracking
  • Franchise/Co-op Extranet
  • Store Intranet
  • CRM & Email Marketing
  • Inventory Management
The Blueport platform represents a decade of big-ticket learning in a specialize, comprehensive, hosted solution used by retailers representing billions in big-ticket sales. 

Driving Big-Ticket Sales With Personalized Email Marketing Programs

Friday, February 19, 2010 by
For big-ticket retailers, email marketing programs can play a significant role in guiding customers along the path to purchase. To be successful, these email programs will require careful planning and robust data but the benefits are significant.

A robust ecommerce email marketing program enables retailers to track every registered user and leverage ecommerce CRM data for personalized marketing. Based on this information, retailers can create customized email marketing campaigns to help actively persuade customers during the big-ticket decision making process.

Use the items a customer left in their shopping cart, their number of visits to the site, the categories they shopped and the items they viewed to craft personalized, automated ecommerce email marketing programs that reach out to talk about new products, sales or promotions to match an individual customer's preferences. 

If you're outsourcing to an email services provider, look for an ecommerce email marketing system that supports segmentation of email content, offers, subject lines and timing to personalize campaigns and maximize results.