We're taking a little extra time to kick off the summer season this Memorial Day weekend and hope you're able to do the same.
Here's to warm summer sun, sandy beaches, backyard BBQs, and lazy days at the river!
With the ever-growing trend of online purchasing, the ability to gauge your success and popularity becomes a critical venture. A vast sea of competition has always been one of your greatest challenges as an ecommerce vendor. Figuring out how to stand out among the rest, as much as possible, is a worthwhile goal to focus on in the short term.
There are established strategies for measuring customer experience attitudes. These generally fall into four categories: Customer Satisfaction Survey (CSAT), Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Effort Score (CES), and Customer Churn Rate. We’ll briefly explain each, but note that your operation may be too small to take on a full-scale task at the moment. If so, see the last paragraph for welcoming news.
While these formal, data-driven methods offer an accurate measure of success, they may be more than you can handle right now. But your efforts need not be that official. Don’t forget the power of personal contact. Your customers may be eager for a vendor who wants to know them. They might respond positively to an organic outreach with tailored questions and solicitations of how you can do better even in small ways. Never forget that the epic divide between brick-and-mortar, conventional retail and digital shopping is rooted in the human touch.
Trends come and go in the ever-evolving world of consumerism, making it extra essential to stay on top of developments if you hope to keep your online business relevant and thriving. Product mixes, technology, marketing – all of these create daily implications for managing an ecommerce biz. What isn’t so unpredictable is the vast, often under-tapped market most skip right over: business-to-business, or B2B selling.
Typically the narrative of a business that caters to fellow merchants rests on wholesalers, banking, payment processors, and other niche industries that have kept large and small businesses going for ages. Maybe it’s time to shift the thought process and see what opportunities might exist for attracting a customer base among other sellers who are not competitors.
Companies servicing online sellers represent a hefty $6 million-plus in annual transactions. It’s true: to be a fixture as a B2B provider, your service or product must be one of two things. First, it must be of high quality and in demand, and reflect updated technology or demand conditions. Second, it absolutely must feature competitive pricing.
Perhaps you can’t offer discounts deep enough to entice fellow retailers who might use your products to add to theirs. Then again, perhaps you can. That’s for you to decide.
The majority of B2B entities serving ecommerce merchants, obviously, are either big-time wholesalers or behind-the-scenes tech and financial firms. But as the scope and direction of internet-based purchasing morphs, nearly any online sellers can take advantage of their unique needs. The secret lies in research, reputation, marketing, and adaptation.
Do your homework
Once you figure out the types of other ecommerce companies you might best serve, go to work developing a promotional strategy by studying the needs of that seller, and its niche. If you are able to deliver products that will streamline their sales and service functions, there’s no reason to assume they will pass you by in favor of a big-time operation.
The most common element in product sales is, well, products. It’s surprisingly easy to leverage an existing relationship with your suppliers to set up a brokering arrangement that takes the acquisitions and supply chain responsibilities off of other vendors. If you’ve done your due diligence in regular research of your own product mix and niche, you should be more than familiar with the tailored demands of that industry. Put your knowledge to work with networking, and with a reworked attitude that focuses not just on what you sell, but on how you can help wholesalers or other retailers make their operations more efficient.
The best part? You won’t need to abandon your core business model and product mix. That B2C function may smoothly co-exist alongside a B2B sideshow. In fact, maintaining a robust site devoted to selling will impress potential businesses considering your services.
It should go without saying that before even considering branching out to a B2B model, be 100 percent sure that your site is slick, engaging, and easy to navigate. The more knowledgeable and reputable you are within your niche, the easier it will be to make pitches to others in a similar position to sell.
Put away your airline mileage card and skip the scheduling resets to be out of the office, because one of the big events attracting retailers every year is set to unfold over a computer screen. After a full year of scaled down sales, drastically altered strategies, and personal sacrifices, the National Retail Federation’s Retail Converge 2021 conference is still on, scheduled for June 21-25. The best part? You won’t need to leave home (or work) to attend.
The NRF bills itself as the “Voice of Retail.” Its annual Converge event offers networking, team building, trend information, and a host of useful ideas for making a new or existing retail business successful. Like most industry-based annual shindigs, it features a litany of great speakers from varying walks of life.
The best industry soirees take place in summer, so count on Converge to kickstart a busy sales season while focusing on tweaked strategies that adapt to the current state of consumerism. It’s increasingly happening online. With educational sessions, sponsor-led sessions, lunch-and-learn sessions, product demos, and interactive roundtables, few stones are left unturned.
Note that NRF’s 2021 marquee event is over, having attracted an impressive crowd. “Forward Together” provided inspirational material and guest speakers to whet the palate of all sellers. But they aren’t done, and the Converge event is a great way to discover how others in the retail biz are coping with this uncertain, chaotic time in history.
Get a feel for the timing and nature of each individual event on this page. It offers an easy-to-read schedule that will allow you to zero in on whatever intrigues you.
Are you feeling more connected to merchants operating in brick-and-mortar locations? You should. It seems as if each year that passes, the chasm between ecommerce and commerce-commerce shrinks. This is a telling moment in time, and a perfect opportunity for the two disparate entities find common ground.
The Converge conference is self-explanatory, as it draws a variety of merchants together to address issues related to commerce in general, including asset protection, supply chain, data privacy, marketing, corporate strategy, and leadership. It also incorporates ecommerce, digital, and mobile, to reflect the merging platforms on which merchants sell.
Tune in for motivational deliveries from Valerie Jarrett, a former senior adviser in the Obama administration, and Elizabeth Spaulding, president of Stitch Fix. Save time for the Speaker Spotlight address by the inimitable Diane von Furstenberg, an icon who has had to adapt to shifts in trends and regulatory influences over the decades. Other notable industry influencers are also slated to offer their expertise.
The Retail Converge conference may ignite a spark to cure the blues many are enduring after a year of uncertainty. Fees range from $395 for $595 for individuals, dependent on date of registration, and $250-$350 per person for retail team members (also contingent on timing). Register to participate here, and come prepared to experience invigoration.
The National Retail Federation’s mission statement includes the following language: “The (NRF) has represented retail for over a century. Every day, we passionately stand up for the people, policies and ideas that help retail thrive.”