TheFind’s Merchant Blog

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.

Ignoring Ecommerce is Retail Suicide

In the past year, mobile commerce retail revenue grew 97%, totaling $18.2 million, FierceMobileIT recently reported. Shoppers are not only browsing items on their mobile devices more frequently, but they are completing more purchases. Trinity Ventures investment firm associate, Phil Carter says “moms, millennials and multinationals” make up most of the ecommerce market surge, though they aren’t the only groups in the ecommerce increase.

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Credit: Compete Pulse

Ecommerce is an essential part of the shopping experience that retailers can’t afford to neglect. TheFind can help ensure your products are seen by mobile shoppers, even if they aren’t using your store’s app or site. Simply register for free online and submit your products to ensure shoppers using TheFind to search for items will be able to easily find and purchase yours store’s products.

Why Do Consumer’s Prefer Mobile Shopping? To Get the Deal

Ever wondered what drives people to shop on their smartphones? MediaPost recently reported that the biggest mobile shopping motivator is getting a good deal. 91% of consumers identify their smartphone as their preferred in-store device, 40% of consumers that plan on buying an item will wait until it goes on sale and more than a third of shoppers look for deals on their mobile devices.

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While it’s no surprise that sales attract shoppers, it is essential for consumers to be able to find your store’s deals with their mobile device. With TheFind’s option to refine searches by sale and in-app coupons feature, savvy shoppers can easily find deals. Be sure your discounted products show up on TheFind by registering for free online and submitting your products.

U.S. Mcommerce Grows Over 150% Per Year: Don’t Miss Out

Fortune recently reported that in the past four years, mobile shopping in the U.S. has grown 19-fold to total $40 billion. While many shoppers tend to wait until they get to a tablet or computer to buy more expensive items, the report found that more than a third of visits to online stores come from mobile devices and that these users are indeed making purchases while on the go.

Credit: Fortune

Don’t miss out on this quickly growing market. If your store lacks have a mobile platform, TheFind can help. Simply register for free online, submit your products and shoppers can search for and purchase items from your store on their mobile devices via TheFind.