TheFind’s Merchant Blog

Ecommerce Authenticity

Take a look at these tips from Huffington Post on how to inspire an authentic online shopping experience for customers!

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Credit: Blue 16 Media

Reviews: In order to build the authenticity of your brand and gain trust from shoppers, it is important to encourage customers to write reviews. Reading about other people’s shopping experiences impacts the decisions of future buyers. Enhance your company’s credibility by responding to reviews as well.

Put a Face to Your Brand: Many online shoppers have a hard time trusting sites. Some people often feel like they are going be scammed or taken advantaged of. Putting your face on your brand brings comfort to shoppers because it displays your willingness to put your name, face and reputation behind your brand.

Endorsements: Endorsements can be extremely beneficial to your online store, but it can also be detrimental. When choosing a third party endorser, make sure to consider what type of influence they can have on shoppers. If you look at all different aspects of how an endorser can inspire growth, your company will definitely reap great benefits.

PR: Expose your online store to different social media platforms. Public relations is a great strategy for promoting your products to the public. When you appear on different media types—from online to radio—shoppers will begin to see that you are important and reputable.

For more tips on establishing your online store as an authentic brand, visit the article on Huffington Post.

How E-Mail Marketer’s Can Prepare for the Holiday Season

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Credit: MIS

The Holiday season is quickly approaching, which means online shoppers will be making abundant purchases within the next few months. Be sure to have your emailing system prepared with appropriate responses for confirmations, returns, coupons, etc. Here are some tips from Internet Retailer on how to prepare for the holiday shopping season!

-       Wrap up Website Infrastructure: If you are planning on making any changes and/or improvements to your online store, make sure to complete everything by the end of October. Then, send out an email to shoppers explaining what changes have been made so they are aware of how to navigate the new site.

-       Wish List Functionality: Improve your wish list feature by creating contests like encouraging shoppers to pin your products on Pinterest. This will help get more advertisement for your products. Draft an email to customers about “most pinned” items.

-       Apology Email: Brainstorm different situations that you would need to apologize for. For instance, this will be a busy season and increased online traffic can potentially cause your website to crash. Prepare for this in advance by drafting an apology email.

-       Holiday Template: Incorporate festive holiday designs for your email template. Adding a Thanksgiving or Christmas themes will brighten your emails and help promote seasonal purchases. Subscribers will love it!

These are just a fraction of great merchant tips from Internet Retailer. Make sure to check out their article for more advice!

TheFind Employee Spotlight: Mercedes Ruiz – Senior Manager, Business Development

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Our first employee spotlight features TheFind’s very own senior manager of business development, Mercedes Ruiz. A Chicago native, Mercedes is the 11th of 12 children—all from the same parents! She attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she received her Bachelor of Arts in International Studies. After college, Mercedes moved to San Diego, and then Santa Barbara before finally finding her home and heart in San Francisco. She has worked at TheFind for nearly four years. Take a look at what Mercedes has to say about her time at TheFind!

My average day at TheFind…

Focuses on managing the Affiliate and Direct Partner programs. Most of my day is working directly with our retailer partners – making sure we’re aligned with their goals and helping them reach TheFind Shoppers in a valuable way.

I love my job because…

I work with some really hilarious and smart people, so I’m always laughing and learning a lot. No complaints there.

My coworkers would probably describe me as…

A tiny bit obsessed with sandwiches, Pinterest… oh and my dog, Django.

Working at TheFind has taught me…

A ton about mobile shopping! I’ve also come to appreciate a comprehensive product data feed – it can be a beautiful thing.

Describe TheFind culture / environment in 10 words or less.

Quirky. Not your typical Silicon Valley company. Fooseball is King.

What are some online shopping tips you’d like to share with consumers?

It’s easy to get overwhelmed during the holidays. Save time and let us do the digging for you. We offer every product from every store in one single location. There are so many great promotions during the holidays – don’t pay full price if you don’t have to. Take advantage of all of the information we have aggregated for you like online only promotions and Free Shipping offers.

What are your favorite features on TheFind? How do you use them?

I’m usually shopping on the go so I use the price comparison feature a lot. It’s also helpful that TheFind will show me where store locations are and even customer service phone numbers so I can call and see if the particular store carries the product I need, before I make the trip.

What are your favorite brands / stores / fashion trends?

Patagonia is my favorite brand, hands down. I love their photography, their mission and their commitment to the environment. I admire the company in a lot of ways.

When working, you can often find me listening to:

Sam Cooke and/or Jenny Lewis.

My favorite movie is…

If I had to name one, Groundhog Day.

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Seattle Hit List: An Itinerary for Newbies

Shop.org is here and as I prepared to head to Seattle for a first time visit, I decided to ask a handful of people where to go for the best coffee, dining and shopping experiences. What happened next turned out to be a standard response from my sample of friends and acquaintances that have visited the city several times already. Not only did their eyes open very wide but they had a look of utter astonishment and excitement (as if they had just tasted chocolate for the first time) and they began to tell me how much they absolutely love Seattle. They love Seattle so much that they did not simply rattle off, in passing, a bunch of places I should try as I would expect most people to do. Instead, each one of them thoughtfully emailed me a list of what my Seattle “Hit List” should be for the weekend. Since there were too many incredible suggestions to choose from, I shortened the list (a difficult but necessary task.) The following is my newbie itinerary.

But first, coffee:

Not only is Seattle the birthplace of the first Starbucks to ever open in 1971, but it’s been said that people in Seattle consume more coffee than in any other American city.

Victrola Roastery and Cafe Wednesdays at 11 AM free public coffee cuppings. Discussions of regional differences in coffee production, processing differences and the roasting and selection process. The cafe and roastery is built in a classic 1920′s auto row building (how cool is that?) 310 E Pike Street.

Milstead & Co. Featuring fine coffees from renowned roasters Stumptown, Intelligentsia, Coava, Bows & Arrows, Heart and Wrecking Ball (an SF favorite.) 770 N 34th St

Analog Coffee  Dispenses kegged coffee on tap (what the?!). Regulars can come back for seconds (and most likely do) even bringing their own growlers for a coffee refill. 235 Summit Ave. E.

Where to binge on oysters and other delightful treats:

The Walrus and the Carpenter Casual comfort meets local fishing pub. Most if not all food served is locally sourced. 4743 Ballard Avenue NW

Sitka & Spruce A rustic but chic restaurant specializing in simple but delicious food. 1531 Melrose Avenue

Delancey Cozy restaurant in the historic Ballard neighborhood known for their wood fired pizza. 1415 Northwest 70th Street

Mighty O Donuts: Located in an old historic building in the Wallingford neighborhood. Pride themselves on no added chemicals, GMOs or animal products. 2110 N 55th Street

Shop ‘til you drop!

Glasswing: Clothing, books, furniture in a Pacific Northwest kind of way. 1525 Melrose Avenue

Sip & Ship A one-stop shop. Buy a coffee, eat a pastry, find a special gift and ship it to your friends and family, all-in-one location.  1752 N.W. Market Street

The Elliott Bay Book Company Allegedly the best book store in the entire Northwest. Over 150,000 titles. 1521 Tenth Avenue

REI  Last but not least, a must for visiting Seattle. REI’s Flagship store will have everything I need from comfortable shoes, to backpacks and of course rain gear for my visit. 222 Yale Avenue

There will be walking, lots of walking. There will be coffee, donuts and other baked goods. There will be oysters (but these I will not share with my travel companion.)

This is the perfect itinerary to segway into a 3 day exhibition at the annual Shop.org conference, this year taking place in downtown Seattle. TheFind Team will be at booth #623.

 

– Author Mercedes Ruiz is the Senior Manager of Business Development at TheFind.

Don’t Worry Be App Happy

This article was originally published in Internet Retailer’s Mobile 500 report.
 

How retailers can drive app downloads and keep customers coming back
by Ramneek Bhasin

We now live in a world where more mobile phones are activated each day than there are babies born. And, overall, U.S. tablet penetra­tion will rise from 46.2% of the population in 2014 to 52.1% in 2018, according to research firm eMarketer. Not surpris­ingly, our mobile obsession is fueling mobile commerce. U.S. m-commerce transactions reached $41 billion last year, up nearly 70% from the year before, according to eMarketer. The combined sales of all U.S. merchants ranked in the 2015 Mobile 500 will increase an estimated 74% in 2014 to almost $59 billion.

As more consumers purchase smartphones and tablets and keep their devices within reach all day, marketers have taken note. In the past few years they have flooded the landscape with mobile apps, hoping to stay connected with the growing mobile user base. As of July 2014, both Google Inc.’s Android mobile operating system and Apple Inc.’s iOS had more than 1.2 million apps each, available for download.

In Google’s app marketplace, Google Play, more than 23,000 apps are available to consumers in the shopping category, but only about 5% of these have more than 50,000 downloads. In this competitive landscape, how can retailers vie for consumer downloads and, more impor­tantly, engagement? Mobile use has become an ingrained habit in consumers’ daily lives, and consumers using their devices to shop today often turn to search. Mobile search still drives almost half of retail traffic, according to Nielsen and Google research. More than other types of app developers, retailers must place their mobile strategy bets to address both mobile web use and mobile apps. One way to do this is to invest in promoting an app via mobile paid search. Once downloaded, retailers should consider the customer payoff for using an app. For retailers, customer satisfaction and expectations in and around the shopping journey are key.

A recent IM Research study examined consumer satis­faction with specific aspects of mobile shopping apps and identified features they value most:

  • Making it easy to find and apply valid coupons, check prices, and find the best deals available and ease the checkout process.
  • Finding local availability of products and enabling multichannel purchase functionality (for example, completing a purchase on a phone or tablet, then picking it up in a store).
  • Providing fresh content such as new products, reviews, information and trends.

Target Corp. and Crate & Barrel are two retailers fol­lowing these steps above. For example, Target’s Cartwheel app offers in-store coupons and Crate & Barrel offers gift registry via an app.

Consumers use their smartphones and tablets in their day-to-day lives in very different ways. Therefore, as a retailer develops a mobile app, it’s important to under­stand how these devices can enable and enhance the shopping journey. Due to size, tablets are used primarily at home, school or work and less often while out and about. Smartphones, on the other hand, are only an arm’s length away from shoppers, so these devices are more convenient and are being used extensively to find, compare and pro­vide information like store hours and locations.

Session lengths tend to be longer on tablets versus smartphones. This is due partly to context. Tablet users are at situated in one spot for a while instead of on-the-go. Screen size also plays a role. With their larger screen sizes, tablets are ideal for more detailed exploration of content and products whereas smartphone usage tends to come more often, but with shorter durations. That means a tab­let might be more suited for rich imagery and multimedia such as videos, look books and editorial content, while smartphone apps should be easy to navigate and quick to load.

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To illustrate how retail brands use mobile apps differently, we looked at the iOS apps for Blue Nile Inc. and Tiffany & Co. Both apps focus on engagement rings but take very differ­ent approaches. The Blue Nile app is functional and contains all the necessary information to research, select and purchase a diamond engagement ring. Centering on BlueNile.com’s “Build Your Ring” func­tionality, this male-targeted app is a solid example of a commerce-focused app. Shoppers can select their specific diamond cut, setting and price to build a complete ring step-by-step and make a purchase right in the app

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Tiffany & Co.’s app is centered on exploration and browsing for such a consid­ered purchase. Targeting both men and women, the app balances functional information like product images and educational con­tent with brand experiences that inspire, like the “Try it on” feature that allows a user to share a picture of a Tiffany ring on her hand with friends and family. A user cannot purchase in-app, but they can make an appointment to speak with a Tiffany diamond expert.

 The secret to finding, growing and maintaining a group of app users is to develop highly relevant, sticky apps that give a reason for shoppers to come back. Understanding the needs of customers and how they use tablets and smart­phones differently is critical. To do this, a retailer should develop mobile app experi­ences that:

  • Foster brand loyalty through features, functionality and content.
  • Are personalized right from the start and can be easily tuned for users on an ongoing basis.
  • For tablet apps, provide rich browsing experiences large images, alternative views, videos and reviews, while leveraging touch interfaces.
  • For mobile apps, enable ease of sign-in and fast checkout.

App approaches will vary by retailers based on a range of factors such as business goals, techni­cal resources available to design, build and maintain mobile apps and capacity to invest in driving adoption and continued engagement. Regardless of whether a retailer is focused on sales, brand engagement, or both, apps should be easy to use and provide a reason for shoppers to not only keep them on their mobile devices but also to keep opening them.

RAMNEEK BHASIN is general manger, mobile and vice president product for TheFind Inc.

Big Data for Ecommerce

Data management plays a crucial role in the ecommerce industry. It is important for merchants to analyze trends and patterns in shopper behavior so that they can conduct future planning for the growth of their businesses. Here are three tips from Practical Ecommerce to consider when managing data.

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Credit: Measureful, Stack Overflow

  1. Hire Data Scientists: Practical Ecommerce suggests that retailers should hire data scientists to handle all of their data records. By hiring employees, a merchant is able to have an “in-house” way of discussing data trends. Important things to consider when hiring employees are software systems. Investing in a database software system is vital to the success and direction of your company. You want to purchase a database that is “robust” so as your company grows, it is able to “handle the increased loads.”
  2. Outsourcing Data Needs: This is a good option for retailers who want to focus solely on selling products, customer service and profit. Outsourcing your data needs to a firm will allow them to handle all of the data collection, entry, and analysis. This helps takes some pressure off of retailers.
  3. Use Free or Inexpensive Tools: For merchants that are on a tight budget, there are inexpensive databases that enable you to manage data on your own. Some of these include Google Analytics, Crazy Egg and Kissmetrics. These options may be limited in providing extensive data analysis, but they are affordable and definitely a better alternative than not handling your data at all.

For more information on handling your data, visit the article on Practice Ecommerce.

From Browser to Buyer

“Your website must look and function in a way that caters to their [shoppers] convenience.”

-Entrepreneur

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Credit: Entrepreneur

The ecommerce industry is able to financially prosper as a result of online shoppers purchasing products. The key word to consider here is “purchasing.” Although many people browse the web for items, not all individuals actually buy anything. In order to generate promising purchases, it is important to structure your marketing in favor of the shopper. Entrepreneur suggests four strategies on how to turn a shopper from browsing to buying:

  1. Synchronize – To keep your customers from your competitors, it is beneficial to create “a multi-channel sales department” and synchronize multiple marketplaces to appear on your website. By doing this, shoppers will not be exposed to similar products from different retailers.
  2. Be Where Your Customers Are – Entrepreneur states that buyers spend a significant amount of their time on Facebook, therefore, making the social media site a huge platform to market products. Paying attention to online traffic trends is crucial to distinguishing where you want to advertise your goods.
  3. mCommerce – As stated above, it is essential to consider what platforms are popularly used among browsers. The use of mobile apps is continuously increasing and developing a way to shop on the go will allow your company to grow. Shoppers are more likely to buy when it favors their convenience.
  4. Room to Expand – Consider expanding the size of your company internationally. Check out Multichannel Merchant to see how translating your market according to global consumers can benefit retailers.

Personalize Your Customers’ Shopping Experience

The ecommerce industry has made huge headway in establishing online shopping as a significant platform for consumers. The success of ecommerce and mcommerce has been made possible not only because of technological advancements, but also because of retailers’ strategy to personalize their customers’ shopping experiences.

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Credit: MarketingProfs

Although many retailers send emails addressed to their customers’ names, there is much more to truly personalizing their shopping experience. According to Fourth Source, “…brands are personalizing much more than just email based on name and location; they’re using a combination of explicit behavioural and implicit interest data natively collected from all channels, allowing them to build a true single customer view.” This means that these companies customize their emails according to a single client’s repeated shopping patterns. They send out emails with subject lines that suggest products relating to the customer’s previous purchases. It is crucial to understand the needs of your customers; when you know what they want, it is much easier to market specific products to them. Prioritizing your consumer’s demands is a useful strategy in growing your company.

TheFind Contributes to Mcommerce Research Report

The ecommerce industry is taking advantage of shoppers’ increased use of smartphones during their shopping experience, with online retailers progressively catering their sales strategies around the mobile app industry. On August 19, Internet Retailer published their annual Mobile 500 report, which details the growth and statistics around ecommerce’s top 500 retailers.

As an official data partner on the report, TheFind provided quantitative research around mobile apps among top retailers, including apps for different platforms as well as app and commerce features. 10.11.13_TheFind_iphone

With Internet Retailer predicting a 74% growth in U.S. mobile commerce sales and that 42.4% of mobile sales will stem from mobile apps in 2014, it is clear that retailers who prioritize their sales strategies around mobile apps are in a position to reap huge financial rewards.

The mcommerce industry is still relatively young and TheFind’s contributed research around app proliferation supports Internet Retailer 500’s prediction that there is only more room to grow. Be sure to check out Internet Retailer’s website for additional information around the report’s findings.

Shoppers Use Smartphones to Research Products Before they Buy Them

In addition to using their mobile devices in-store to see if they are getting the best deal, many are also using their phones to do more in-depth research on the product they’re buying, Internet Retailer recently reported. Smartphone users engage in a variety of activities to help them decide if they are going to purchase a product—27% read customer reviews, 22% read product details, 18% scan a QR code and 17% check in-stock status at that retailer’s other stores or website.

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Credit: MultiChannel Merchant

TheFind’s mobile app provides easy access to product details, a QR code scanner, price comparison and a list of retailers where a product is in stock, making it an ideal app for shoppers that want to do product research on their smartphone. Ensure your store’s items show up in TheFind search results by registering for free online and submitting your products.