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How You Can Capture the Mobile Consumer

Friday, September 21, 2012 by

Mobile Commerce

Mobile users spend 144 minutes a day — 26% of the nine hours they use various media — with their mobile devices. For the first time, television came in second with 141 minutes. This is according to this Business Insider article, where people were asked how much time they spend interacting with all forms of media.

In fact, a survey by InMobi, a mobile ad company, found that people now spend more time watching their phones than watching TV.


Interesting findings include:

  • 55% of those surveyed used their mobile device to shop.
  • 59% said mobile advertising impacts their purchasing decisions, compared to 57% who said television advertising did.
  • 24% of users said their mobile influenced their in-store purchase.
  • 69% of people used their mobile to find local resources.

Retail chains, take note.

It is clear mobile's popularity (both tablet and phones) is steadily increasing, and the influence of traditional channels like television, desktop, radio and newspapers is declining. But how can you reach your audience if your current multichannel marketing mix isn't working? What should omnichannel retailers do? The answer: Go where your audience is.

How Big-Ticket Retail Can Succeed with a Refined Mobile Strategy

Adapting to a world that embraces mobile can seem daunting even for those who have already taken their retail stores online. But via a multichannel analysis, there are some quick and easy steps that you can take so that your mobile viewers can convert into mobile purchasers. Following the best practices of SoLoMo (Social Local Mobile), you can ensure shopping experience that is optimized for anyone on the go. At Blueport Commerce, we help our big-ticket retail clients not only transition to e-commerce, but provide their customers with an optimized mobile shopping experience.

1. So (Social Media): Include social sharing buttons. Many mobile users spend hours on social media sites such as Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Twitter. Often, if they are following their favorite e-commerce stores, this can be their first source of information about an upcoming sale or in-store event. By including these buttons, all it takes is one quick click by the consumer to share his favorite sectional on his Facebook wall for all of his Facebook friends to see in their newsfeeds. Congratulations, you've just advanced your multichannel marketing strategy, and better yet, have had others do it for you.

2. Lo (Local): Get found – both online and in person. Because 69% of people use their mobile devices to find local stores, having a store locator app (which automatically finds the user's current location with GPS or allows them to plug in a preferred zip or postal code) can be the difference between making or breaking an in-store sale. In many instances, buyers feel the desire to see, touch and feel big-ticket items in person. By leading them to your brick-and-mortar store, they feel more confident completing their big-ticket purchases. Additionally, offering localized content for big-ticket items, such as less expensive delivery or shorter wait times, can help close a sale.

3. Mo (Mobile): Make your e-commerce website mobile-friendly. Shoppers on mobile devices tend to be on the move and cannot wait for slow-loading, complicated graphics or a disorganized site that renders strangely on a portable device. You can either reevaluate the mobile version of your website or create a unique mobile experience.

The Big-Ticket Retail Takeaway

Big-ticket items, such as furniture and appliances, often have long purchase cycles and require more research before potential buyers will pull the trigger on purchasing. By including social sharing buttons, offering localized content and a store locator app, and optimizing your e-commerce site for mobile, you're leading your mobile customers to what they're really seeking: more information. And as you lead them further down the funnel, closer to purchase, you are creating engaged, informed online shoppers who are interacting with you through their chosen medium.

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Newspaper Advertising Falls to 1950s Levels, While Online Skyrockets -- How Are You Spending Your Ad Dollars?

Friday, March 2, 2012 by

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Retailers must advertise online to compete in today’s market. We’ve showed you that customers are online, and we’ve shared data that proves the direct correlation between online advertising and increased in-store sales.

We continually talk to our clients and other big-ticket retailers about the merits of advertising online vs. sticking with what some still call a “tried-and-true” newspaper advertising strategy.

The times, they are a changing. This week, a little graphic has been making its way around the Web, showing the decline in print newspaper advertising revenue, adjusted for inflation.

Print newspaper advertising revenue adjusted for inflation, 1950-2011

The image was created by Dr. Mark J. Perry, a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan in Flint. One of his more striking observations? “It took 50 years to go from about $20 billion in annual newspaper ad revenue in 1950 (adjusted for inflation) to $63.5 billion in 2000, and then only 11 years to go from $63.5 billion back to about $20 billion in 2011.” Said another way, in the last decade, newspaper advertising has fallen back to 1950s levels.

As an article from The Atlantic explains, newspapers have been losing advertising revenue to websites, because the softer sections of the newspapers that actually sell the ads, like “the car section, the style section, the travel section and the classified” all have online counterparts. “Ad dollars started flowing to websites that gave people their car, style, travel, or classifieds directly. So did the readers. And down went print.”

What is it about print advertising that still has some retailers hooked? Print ads are expensive, can’t be personalized and the ROI is often hard to track. Meanwhile, online advertising has numerous capabilities for localization, personalized targeting and tracking. They reach shoppers not when they are reading a news article, but when they’re searching online for the goods that you can sell them.

As the print advertising industry has been collapsing, the folks at the Interactive Advertising Bureau have been tracking online advertising growth, and have a very different story to tell.

In the third quarter of last year, US online advertising revenue hit nearly $8 billion, reaching double digit increases despite the lagging economy. “The ongoing increases in internet advertising revenues points to a new paradigm within the advertising world -- one in which digital is taking a bigger seat at the table,” said David Silverman, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, in the IAB press release. “Moreover, even with a softened economy, digital advertising is making tremendous gains.”

Overlay these two trends since 2000, and the message becomes even clearer: Advertisers are fleeing newspaper advertising for the improved ROI of online.

Compare how you spend your advertising dollars to this trend. Are you spending like it’s 2012, 2000 or 1950?

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Copyright 2010, Official Blog of Blueport Commerce

Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday -- How Did E-Commerce Do?

Friday, December 2, 2011 by
Combined together, Thanksgiving Day's couch commerce, Black Friday's mobile shopping on the go and Cyber Monday’s work surfing all made the official opening to this year’s holiday shopping season quite the event. Numbers across the board have been record-setting, and both brick-and-mortar and online retailers are excited as this is just the start of the holiday shopping season.

Here’s a roundup of articles and blogs reporting on these successful online shopping days and what might come next:

Thanksgiving & Black Friday

TechCrunch – Thanksgiving Day Online Holiday Sales Up 39%; Mobile Shopping on the Rise: “As we heard a few weeks ago, retailers were expecting Thanksgiving Day to be a major online shopping day as more and more consumers are hitting their laptops, tablets and more to get a head start on sales in between Turkey time. It looks like early results point to the day being a profitable one for retailers. According to IBM’s Coremetrics retail data, online Thanksgiving 2011 sales were up 39 percent over Thanksgiving 2010.”

E-Commerce Times – E-Commerce Rings Up Boffo Black Friday: "Though Black Friday is typically the day shoppers make a beeline for the big box stores and malls, there were plenty of sweet e-commerce deals to be had, and shoppers swarmed online to snap them up. On Black Friday alone, $800 million in online spending occurred."

Business2Community – Black Friday Saw Strong Increases in Online & Mobile Sales: “As many could have predicted, consumers continued to turn to online and mobile to make purchases on Black Friday. And as it turned out, brands with a strong, integrated retail marketing strategy in place took the cake. According to IBM Smarter Commerce CSO, brands [that] came out on top were those [that] ‘delivered a smarter commerce experience with compelling, relevant deals that people could easily access from their channel of choice.’”
Cyber Monday

New York Daily News – Cyber Monday Sales Break Records, Soaring 33% As More Shoppers Do Their Holiday Buying on the Go: “Cyber Monday turned out to be a monster hit for retailers. On the heels of a supersized Black Friday, Cyber Monday broke the record for the most e-commerce sales ever, with sales rising a whopping 33%, according to IBM Benchmark.”

Wired – Cyber Monday Pays Off Big Time: “Cyber Monday, until last year the often over-hyped alter-ego of Black Friday, has not only broken over $1 billion for the second year in a row, but has seen last year’s billion and raised some. There was a time when the busiest online shopping day of the year was generally sometime closer to Christmas, when people were getting last-minute gift-shopping done. But now the race is on hours after Thanksgiving, in both the bricks-and-mortar and virtual worlds.”

E-Commerce Times – Cyber Monday Racks Up Impressive Gains: “So far, so good for e-commerce this holiday season. Both Black Friday and Cyber Monday saw robust sales with surprising gains over last year's performance. Whether consumers will continue to spend beyond expectations, however, is questionable.”

Marketing Pilgrim – Cyber Monday Beats Black Friday: "Cyber Monday is over and the results are in. It’s a HIT! According to IBM Benchmark, Cyber Monday sales were up 33% over last year. The average order value also rose from $193.24 to $198.26. Unlike Black Friday, there were two peaks during the day, one at 11:05 PST and again late in the evening…. Except for the early morning hours, Cyber Monday beat the pants off online Black Friday buying to the tune of 29.3%."

Sign on San Diego – New Shopping Pattern Emerged on Cyber Monday: “The biggest surprise this Cyber Monday was that consumers didn't do most of their shopping at work, according to an IBM analysis of online activity. In the past, people would shop online mostly during the work day. But this year, they did a significant amount of shopping before and after normal commuting hours, using everything from PCs to laptops to iPads.”

Cyber Week & Beyond

ZippyCart – Cyber Week Off to a Successful Start: “Holiday shopping season 2011 got off to a great start with retailers reporting record-breaking Black Friday sales in both brick-and-mortar and online storefronts. According to research by comScore…online sales in the US surged on Black Friday and generated an estimated $816 million, up from $648 million last Black Friday…. The report released by comScore showed that ecommerce spending on Black Friday jumped 26% this year, even though researchers thought brick-and-mortar store deals would detract from the amount of consumers opting to shop online.”

Yahoo! Finance – Cyber Monday’s Unintended Consequences & Other Key Themes Emerging in Retail: “With Black Friday and Cyber Monday behind us, it's time to move past the retail euphoria and look ahead to the sustainability of strong retail sales through the key holiday shopping season. The effects of this season's earlier sales onset and increased doorbuster openings is a must-watch situation moving forward, according to Sucharita Mulpuru, e-commerce analyst at Forrester Research…. ‘All of the research that we've seen is that when there is a really, really strong Cyber Monday and free shipping offers, what we see in the days that follow is some softening,’ Mulpuru says.” – Retailers Extend Cyber Monday Throughout Week
: “Some U.S. online retailers extended Cyber Monday sales through the week as shoppers spent a projected $1.2 billion on the year's biggest online shopping day.”

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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

Will You Make Back Your Online Advertising Spend in Store Sales? Yes!

Friday, June 3, 2011 by
All retailers want to know that the money they spend online is coming back to them some way, somehow.  It's become a mantra that the majority of consumers who buy in stores research online first, but in truth, it can be hard to follow customers from their keyboards to retailers’ registers.

We at Blueport see the value that local e-commerce and online marketing bring to our brick-and-mortar clients every day.  But, it certainly helps when a company like Google offers Online to Store research that quantifies cross-channel results.

Google set out to prove that online advertising leads to in-store sales.  For one national retailer, testing keyword advertising specific to one product category not only lifted in-store sales for that category by 3.6%, but the online advertising had a halo effect, lifting sales in all other categories by 1%.  And, the bigger the ticket, the better the results were.

HP Case Study Shows ROI Is Higher with Bigger-Ticket Items

The Google Retail Advertising Blog post about Hewlett-Packard and the study discusses the following findings:

  • Overall, HP’s online to store campaign had a 530% overall return on ad spend
  • The top 25% of markets in the test had a 1,090% return on ad spend
  • Higher-end models correlated with a higher increase in store sales.
How Can You See Your Own In-Store Return on Your Online Presence?

In an interview, analytics evangelist Avinash Kaushik offers some ideas for getting quantitative information on how your online efforts contribute to in-store sales.

Some ideas you might be able to implement for your retail business:

  • Offer an online survey as consumers exit your website, asking where they plan to buy and how likely they are to buy based on the experience they’ve had online.
  • In-stores, include a call-to-action to take an online survey for a chance to be entered into a sweepstakes and ask questions about where their interactions with your brand began.
  • Use a store card program, where you have a number attached to customers when they interact with and buy from you online and in-store.
  • Allow customers to order online and pickup in-store, and then track additional in-store purchases as a result of the pickup.
We're just at the beginning of this trend.  As localized e-commerce gains traction and enables synchronized web to local store marketing, we'll start to see new sectors of retail get even more involved (and see even better results).  In the meantime, even this simple test shows how stores can -- and in today's world, must -- harness the power of online marketing.

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 Copyright 2010, Official Blog of Blueport Commerce

Ecommerce Marketing: Multichannel Analysis Is a Must!

Monday, October 11, 2010 by

If you’re an ecommerce marketer in the 2010s, then your marketing efforts likely span multiple channels: SEO, pay-per-click, banner ads, retargeting banner ads, email, social media and more. Like so many others, you are doing more with fewer resources and with a higher need to show your return on investment.

Determining ROI Begins with Multichannel Analysis

What are you doing to determine which of your channels are working the best for you? Here at Blueport Commerce, our multichannel analysis begins with tracking, tracking and more tracking. We tag and track everything, but we also know even that does not give us the full picture.

Today’s marketers and analysts must be forensic scientists, piecing together the information from our multiple channels with an overlay of our own site data and sometimes even gut instinct. And in this multichannel world, beyond data, we need to communicate a story.

Use Multichannel Analysis to Tell the Marketing Story

Perhaps someone makes a purchase seemingly through a pay-per-click ad on search. That’s not surprising, since the majority of consumers begin their online shopping at search engines. But is it solely that pay-per-click text ad that sealed the deal?

With a little further analysis, you may find that user also saw your banner ad the day before on a news site and received an email from you earlier that week. Does this make pay-per-click more valuable than your other marketing channels, or does this tell you that there is a buildup that crescendos by being in front of the consumer at the right place and the right time?

From my perspective, it's different channels working together to make the sale. As time progresses, we'll likely learn that different marketing combinations better attract a certain type of customer or more quickly lead to different types of conversions. But one thing is for sure: Putting all your marketing eggs in one basket is not the best strategy in this  multichannel age.


Big Ticket vs. Small Ticket: <br>Why disaggregating e-commerce matters.

Friday, March 5, 2010 by

There’s no shortage of e-commerce conventional wisdom - sweeping pronouncements that online is growing at a certain rate. That one tactic works, another doesn’t.   That a multi-channel strategy is increasingly important. 

I love such analysis and opinion – back in the day, as a consultant at McKinsey, I performed and provided my fair share.    However, I will point out the need to dig deeper. What is loosely called “e-commerce” is dramatically different in its application depending on what you are selling. 

A few things to keep in mind as you digest the latest e-commerce wisdom or evaluate a vendor:

E-commerce expertise correlates with where money has been made to date, not where it will be made.

Well known e-commerce experts, agencies and technology companies become so because they’ve been doing it for a while and have been well paid for their work. As such, their experience tends to be in those categories that went online early and successfully, yielding enthusiastic clients and customers who could pay.

There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as you are also in those categories. If not, think about whether what you are being told makes sense for your business.

One example: It’s been said that 65% of e-commerce keyword searches include a manufacture name and/or model number. Most online agencies build keyword strategies around that fact. And, it works well in those categories that have dominated e-commerce in the past.

But, say you’re a furniture retailer. 

Most of your prospective customers have no idea who manufactured the sofa they already own, much less the one they are thinking about buying.   Model number? Forget it. Conventional wisdom is out the window - how will your agency react to not being able to rely a favorite approach?

Beware sweeping pronouncements and general statistics. Dig for what’s happening in your market.

I’m an e-com stat addict. There are outstanding analysts out there providing the pulse of e-commerce on a regular and accurate basis. That said, it’s important to pull apart e-commerce statistics and trends to find those that apply to what you do. 

Some recent examples:

E-Commerce Growth Statistics

Pundits seem to be in general agreement that in 2009, e-commerce grew or shrank by single digit percentage points. In the face of brick and mortar declines, this is touted as strength – ecommerce holding its own despite significant economic headwinds.

All true – but there’s more to the story. Big ticket online took off in 2009. 

Big ticket (think things that cost more and can’t ship via UPS…consumer durables like furniture, appliances, flooring) is 45% of the US Retail Economy, $550B in annual retail sales.  It’s never done much online – until now.

Consumers are online and big ticket retailers are now meeting them there. Forrester reports customers feeling comfortable buying furniture and appliances online just in the last 18 months. Big ticket players Blueport works with are seeing monstrous comp increases for online sales and even bigger benefits in stores. 

If you happen to be in big ticket markets, this is an opportunity you can’t miss…but easily could, if you just look at broader online growth stats.

E-Commerce by Channel Statistics

Similarly, stats show roughly 45% of e-commerce transacted by Web-only players and catalogers (i.e. pure plays), 15% by manufacturers, and 40% by retailers.

Beneath this stat is a dramatic big ticket vs. small ticket schism in who is winning in e-commerce. 

For traditional (small ticket) e-commerce, pure plays have tremendous cost advantages. With no store costs, they can price low. Their products are well known, approaching commodity status, and the shipping is fast, cheap and risk free. In categories from books to shoes, pure plays are cleaning up.

Not so in big ticket. Here, consumers know less about the product. They want to touch and feel in a store. They look for trusted brands – not only for the product, but for the retailer who can deliver and service it. And, they are highly focused on delivery times and costs. Here, retail chains, with trusted brands, local stores and fast, cheap local delivery have the upper hand. 

Combine these advantages with the growth noted above, and it’s a good time to be going online if you’re a big ticker player. And, if you’re a retailer in these categories, there’s certainly more than 40% of the online marketplace available to you.

The Importance of Cross-Channel Commerce

There’s significant recent buzz about “multi-channel” or “cross-channel” commerce as the next big thing. We couldn’t agree more – with emphasis on the “big”.

For small ticket items, I don’t think cross channel is that important. Anyone think that opening Zappos bricks and mortar stores is on any of the whiteboards at Amazon?

Conversely, in big ticket, cross channel is critical. The key differentiating factors in big ticket online are store based. Big ticket online and offline channels must be synchronized, as consumers move between them constantly. 

This is why we’ve architected our platform to be localized. Big ticket commerce comes down to the local relationship between a consumer, a store, and the inventory in her area. If you’re in big ticket and you’re not reflecting this reality online, you’re missing the point.

Balance online conventional wisdom against what you know about your customers. 

Ultimately, e-commerce comes down to a combination of persuading and enabling consumers to buy, using the internet.

Here again, how your consumers do this may not be the same as in “traditional” e-commerce categories.

To grossly over simplify traditional e-commerce shopping, it comes down to finding a product and deciding you like it. After that, the assumption is that UPS takes it from there - you will have your product cheaply, quickly, and some nice brown-shirted gentleman will take it back if things go awry.

As such, most e-commerce wisdom is focused on search and merchandising, helping consumers to find and buy (maybe getting a deal).

These areas are critical (and unique) in big ticket as well, but there’s more to the story – specifically, the part of the story that UPS takes care of in traditional, small ticket e-commerce.

With a sofa or a fridge, more goes into the shopping process than features and price. Customers want to touch and feel in a store. They may want to speak to an expert. They want to know how fast they can get something, and that delivery is as cheap as it can be. They may want financing options. They want to be sure the product can be serviced, and that, worst case it can be returned.

If these are questions your consumer is likely to ask, be sure to push beyond UPS-based ecom conventional wisdom. If you’re a retailer, you’ve got some of the best possible answers to these questions – be sure your online presence takes full advantage (see localization above).

*             *             *

As consumers look to buy more products online, and e-commerce pushes beyond the simple, UPSable products that were the first wave of e-commerce, the importance of disaggregating e-commerce increases. The opportunities online have changed. E-commerce conventional wisdom soon will too.

Copyright 2010, Official Blog of Blueport Commerce