May 29, 2014

Guest Blog: SEO Internationalisation in a Multichannel World Part 2

Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 09.28.26In Part I of this blog series, guest blogger Jeremy Clutton shared strategies on using SEO to increase your visibility overseas. In the second and final part of the series, he dives into specific e-commerce channels and regions worth exploring.

Using Multiple Channels to Reach Overseas Customers

More and more companies are branching out with international websites, displaying their shop windows to the world. In my last post, I looked at some of the decisions you’ll need to make when adapting websites, and how to increase their visibility. But they aren’t the only way to sell your goods or services overseas.

EBay logoUsing international marketplaces, paid search and comparison shopping engines to promote your wares will significantly increase your visibility and drive a much higher volume of sales. For example, eBay reaches 124 million potential buyers in 27 countries.


TmallResearch the most popular sales channels in your target market, and analyse what your competitors are doing. Any company targeting China’s vast online population should consider Tmall Global, its dominant marketplace, which is used by major brands. Its shopping festival last November became the world’s largest shopping event, with $5.78 billion in transactions during 24 hours. Other key sites include 360buy.com, and Taobao, which is similar to eBay.

Many US and UK companies have struggled to succeed in China, the largest e-commerce market. This is often due to a failure to modify their business model to suit Chinese consumers. Retailers often underestimate the importance of word-of-mouth referrals and marketplaces with a social element, such as Taobao, which are more successful than pure-retail sites.

Brazil is another market where social media plays an important role in e-commerce, with many companies using networks such as Facebook to tap into new revenue streams and reach customers.

Staying Ahead of the Crowd

Online retail is growing fast, as more of the world’s population gets connected. The landscape is constantly changing, with mobile and tablet accounting for a higher proportion of sales. Successful companies need to stay ahead of the curve and adapt their strategies to meet changing consumer expectations.

While Europe and North America might seem like the obvious places to start, at least for UK retailers, many of the most exciting opportunities can be in emerging markets. Retailers can benefit from fast-growing internet populations and a relative lack of competition.

Figures from eMarketer show that consumers in the Asia-Pacific region will spend more online than North American shoppers for the first time in 2014. Indonesia (the world’s fourth most populous nation) is one country seeing an explosion in e-commerce, with sales predicted to soar to $10 billion by 2015.

Social commerce is evolving, and customers are increasingly looking to social networks for information, reviews and special offers. While it can be difficult to measure the return on investment from social media, these channels can be a vital part of the consumers’ overall brand experience.

Going global is no easy task, even for the largest businesses. But by researching their markets and using multiple channels, companies can maximise their chances of success in the global marketplace.

Blog post by Jeremy Clutton, strategic account director, Lingo24.

Agile CBTWant to learn more about expanding internationally? Download our Agile Cross-Border Trade bundle for steps to success. 

 

  

May 27, 2014

Australian Webinar: How to Sell Online with Trade Me

Accounting for 70% of New Zealand’s domestic page impressions,1 Trade Me has fast become the country’s third most visited website and is surging in popularity among local and international retailers alike.

At ChannelAdvisor’s recent Insite Melbourne event, Simon Bruce, director of Box13, told attendees that “if you’re not on Trade Me, then you really are missing out.”

If you’re considering expanding your reach beyond your webstore or scaling your business, this marketplace in the Southern Hemisphere offers the perfect avenue for Australians to test the waters of cross-border trade.

Webinar - Trade Me

In a country of 4.5 million people, 3.4 million are Trade Me members.2 And with no language or cultural barriers for Australian retailers, Trade Me is an easy and cost-effective vehicle for getting products seen by millions of potential customers.

While Trade Me boasts 700,000 visitors and 35,000 items sold every day,3 the marketplace isn’t saturated with stock or competition, making it an ideal avenue for retailers looking to take advantage of supply gaps and see immediate selling success. Street Moda, a US-based apparel retailer, for example, experienced a 328% growth in sales in the six months since it first launched on Trade Me.

Together with Power Retail and Trade Me, ChannelAdvisor will host a webinar that will provide retailers with an introductory guide to entering and selling more on New Zealand’s biggest marketplace.

The webinar will cover:

  • Background on Trade Me
  • A snapshot of New Zealand and the status of the e-commerce market there
  • How Trade Me and ChannelAdvisor work together to help retailers grow their business through marketplaces
  • And more!

The webinar will be held on June 4, 2014, 1:30-2:30 p.m. AEST with Mark Gray, ChannelAdvisor managing director, APAC; Hamish Macdonald, Trade Me's global development manager; and Georgina McGowan, head of supply at Trade Me.    

Register for the webinar today! 

 

1 Nielsen Market Intelligence

2 Nielsen Market Intelligence

3 Trade Me monthly stats

 

Blog post by Shani Flynn, ChannelAdvisor marketing copywriter, APAC


ChannelAdvisor Trade Me Power Retail Webinar

 

 

Don't miss our joint webinar with Power Retail and Trade Me on June 4, 2014. Register today.

May 22, 2014

Ask a Retailer: Deckers Outdoor Corporation

With more consumers, competition and channels, e-commerce is only growing more complicated and overwhelming. Sometimes, all you want is a frank conversation with someone in a similar position to ask them for advice.

Welcome to that conversation.

Our new series, Ask a Retailer, will seek to share insights from e-commerce retailers across various verticals.

This first installment features Katherine Romero from Deckers Outdoor Corporation, a successful footwear designer of brands like UGG® Australia and Teva. Katherine brings a unique perspective to maintaining multiple brand identities online — and talks about the channels that have been most successful for Deckers so far.

DeckersHi, Katherine. Before we get into the specifics of Deckers’ branding and marketplace strategies, tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s your role at Deckers?

Hi. I’m senior marketing manager of e-commerce, in charge of new customer acquisition for each of our Deckers brands. Deckers owns seven globally known footwear brands, some of which include UGG® Australia, Teva and Sanuk. Our brands operate in the luxury, fashion, outdoor and lifestyle footwear space.  

I oversee SEO, PPC, marketplaces, affiliates, comparison shopping engines, display and content marketing and, through these channels, drive new customer acquisition.

What’s your goal for Deckers as a brand?

We have many goals for each of our footwear brands, both domestically and internationally, online and offline. Specific to my function, building each of our brands in the digital space is my primary goal. Through building our brands and growing brand awareness online, we’ll drive new customers to our websites, into our flagship and outlet stores and to our retail partners’ stores and sites.

What made you want to start selling on Amazon? Why have you focused exclusively on that marketplace?

What’s the number one way consumers research products, regardless of whether they ultimately purchase on or offline? They search for it. Obviously that means the big search players like Google and Bing. But broadening out one ring further, we’ve found that also includes Amazon. That search box at the top of Amazon is a key product-discovery tool for any brand that wants to build its brand online. We can reach consumers who are searching for our specific brands, but we can also reach consumers who don’t know what brand they want yet. For example, maybe a consumer only knows they’re in the market for slippers and doesn’t yet have a brand preference. We have the opportunity to introduce the UGG brand’s line of slippers to consumers through that search box.

Another advantage is Amazon Prime, which creates extreme consumer loyalty to Amazon, to the point that Prime customers may only shop from brands available on Amazon. The way we see it, if you don’t have your brand on Amazon, you’re not reaching a very important segment of online shoppers.

Is Amazon important from a brand reputation standpoint?

Yes, we also view Amazon as an important reputation management play. We want to maintain the brand positioning that each of our brands has worked hard to achieve. If we’re on Amazon, we can influence and help correct incorrect images and missing or incomplete product descriptions.

We’ve focused exclusively on Amazon to date, as we haven’t had brand-appropriate, compelling reasons to extend to other marketplaces. That said, we’re taking a hard look at a few other select marketplaces that have come to us with significant offerings to grow new customer acquisition while maintaining each brand’s positioning.

UGGIn addition to your own presence on Amazon, various other retailers sell your products on Amazon and other marketplaces (eBay, Zappos, etc.). How do you ensure brand consistency?

It’s not as difficult as you might imagine. We provide many tools for our retail partners to ensure a visually seamless experience for the consumer. There are places each retailer can go to get our latest creative, have custom creative developed and pull product images and information.  

What sort of success have you found with Amazon Product Ads? Do you find that consumers would rather purchase from the brand manufacturer than a reseller?

We love Amazon Product Ads! For one, it’s a strong direct response marketing channel for us — we see a great a conversion rate and return from them, which is obviously a fantastic thing for us. But they also allow us to extend our brand to consumers who don’t know about us yet. We can introduce our brands to shoppers who are early in their purchase process and are open to learning about who we are.  

It’s rare that you find a channel that can both create brand awareness and drive conversions all at the same time. So yes, love, love, love Amazon Product Ads. Same with Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs) — all the same applies there, and that’s another key channel for us.

TevaCan you tell us more about your Google PLA strategy?

Our PLA strategy is equal parts direct response and brand awareness. In the direct response realm, we have high expectations that this channel will drive strong conversions, especially as PLAs take up more real estate on the search engine results page. We’re seeing more clicks go to PLAs than our pay-per-click (PPC) ads and organic listings, which also still convert very well for us. To drive those high conversion levels we expect, we’re continually optimizing the data feed quality and bids to ensure that consumers are reaching the intended product for their query.  

It would be easy to set it all up once and let Google decide which products to show, but Google doesn’t know our business as well as we do. Often the PLA algorithms Google uses to decide page placement don’t align with what we’d like. Tight control is critical for us.

As far as using PLAs to drive brand awareness, because PLAs are so visual, we can introduce consumers to products that they typically wouldn’t expect from us. For example, many consumers know UGG for the iconic classic sheepskin boot. Not many know that UGG also carries handbags, apparel, men’s footwear and items for the home.

The same is true with Teva — we have the iconic Teva sandal, but we also carry hiking boots, casual shoes and fashion boots. PLAs allow us to invite consumers into those extensions and experience the full brand online.

Are knockoff or bootleg versions of your products a concern from a branding perspective?

Yes, for our UGG brand we have many fake sites spinning up counterfeit products. And being on marketplaces like Amazon and having a healthy relationship with eBay’s trademark team helps us make sure our customers only get the authentic product. Marketplaces end up being very beneficial to our brand.

Katherine, we appreciate your sharing this peek behind the curtain into the day-to-day vision for Deckers. We wish you and Deckers all the best in your continued success.

Read about Deckers and their e-commerce success in this case study, or hear more from them directly in this video.   


How to Avoid or Fix 10 Costly Amazon MistakesFor more information on Amazon and specific ways you can maximize your presence there, download our eBook How to Avoid or Fix 10 Costly Amazon Mistakes.

 

Guest Blog: SEO Internationalisation in a Multichannel World Part I

Uk-ebook-international-expansion-1
Even if you’re not selling internationally, chances are, your competitors are. Cross-border trade is growing fast. Entering new markets is becoming easier through the growth of third-party support for budding global retailers.  A recent survey by OC&C Strategy Consultants predicted that global sales from US online retailers will be worth $11 billion in 2014, soaring to $50 billion by 2020.

With more and more of the world buying online, displaying your wares in the global marketplace can result in a high return on investment. But knowing how and where to start is still a challenge.

Of course, with millions of other sellers shouting about their products, you’ll need to try even harder to get yours in the mix. Thinking that if you build an international website, buyers will come, is clearly no longer true (if it ever was).

Today’s web-savvy consumers are using a number of channels to research and make purchases. They’re well-informed and looking for the best deals. To be successful, you need to adapt your strategy and find out where your buyers are.

A multichannel approach is likely to be the best option. In addition to adapting your own website, marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon are leading channels for international e-commerce, with a significant percentage of their sales coming from overseas buyers. Specialist sites, such as Etsy and Fruugo, are also growing internationally, while country-specific sites are the key to reaching many markets, such as China and Japan.

Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 09.31.49Using International SEO to Increase Visibility

The first step to reaching global customers is adapting your website. Some marketers favour country-specific sites for each market, with top-level domain names (such as www.mycompany.it for Italy), while others recommend subfolders of a single international site (e.g., www.mycompany.com/it).

The first option is best for some markets, such as France, where a country-specific domain name is seen as more trustworthy. Subfolders need to be set up to geotarget each market correctly, but once this is done, they can be easier to manage. Many businesses experience a drop in traffic when they move their website to an international domain. Setting up redirects correctly and taking time to geotarget each market can help you avoid this drop-off.

Language is an essential factor to consider when targeting overseas markets. Research by the Common Sense Advisory found that most people are reluctant to buy goods without information in their native tongue. For optimisation purposes, it’s important to research keywords in the local language, rather than simply translating them, and use native-speaking professional translators to incorporate them seamlessly into your site content.

As well as translation, it also pays to localise your site for each target market. This involves considering everything from the preferred payment methods and currencies to any cultural quirks in your target market. You might choose to adapt the style and level of formality, or select different images, depending on the culture.

Translation and localisation will both help your site appeal to search engines, as well as potential customers. Google uses clues such as the currency and addresses to identify the relevant country your site is aimed at. And all things being equal, a professionally translated site will rank higher than one with poorly written or machine-translated content.

Once your websites or subfolders are ready to be launched, you’ll want to promote them through strategies such as social media and pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. One advantage to targeting non-English-speaking markets is that a relative lack of content can often mean that PPC advertising is more cost-effective.

Of course, your own website is only one way to reach out to global customers. In my next post, I’ll look at the advantages of using multiple channels to target new markets.

Blog post by Jeremy Clutton, strategic account director, Lingo24


Uk-ebook-agile-cross-border-trade-bundle-imgWant to learn more about expanding internationally? Download our Agile Cross-Border Trade bundle for steps to success. 

 

May 21, 2014

Selling Internationally - Tips for Australian Retailers: Part 2

In our last post in this series, we examined how retailers can best leverage technology to automate and optimise some of the pain points of selling across borders. Once you've invested the time and money towards expanding your business into new regions, how do you make sure you're making the most out of the ample opportunity and not falling into the trap of thinking every market is alike? You want your products to be seen on the global stage, and we're here to help.

Selling Internationally

By this point, you're probably aware of the importance of product data management in any online retail venture, but it’s especially relevant when attempting to coordinate your product listings and quantities across a number of marketplaces. The laws of product data apply to an even greater degree when moving from selling locally to internationally. You're competing against sellers with years of experience not only with their buyers, but also with the local terminology and culture.

While our tools will do much of the heavy lifting for you, here are a few more details to keep in mind before leaping into international marketplaces:

  1. Localisation: Selling items abroad isn’t as simple as listing your products in the correct language. Keeping a region’s culture and idioms top of mind is important. If you don’t localise, you instantly erode trust, reduce the likelihood of a positive Google search and risk unhappy customers and a tarnished reputation.
  2. Customer Service: If you decide to sell into a region where the dominant language is one you're unfamiliar with, machine translations won’t be enough. If you want to sell in Germany, for example, you should have someone on hand who speaks German. 
  3. Country-specific marketplace requirements: Each eBay and Amazon regional site has subtle differences and understanding the intricacies of each marketplace is vital to staying competitive. Categories, browse notes and item specifics can differ greatly, for example. If you sell a T-shirt on eBay Australia, all you need to provide is the size and colour, but if you do the same for eBay in the US, you need to list size, brand and colour. Amazon US requires even more information, including size, brand, colour, material composition and barcode number. Product titles on Amazon can be up to 120 characters, whereas eBay Australia allows no more than 80 characters. 

While cross-border trade offers a wealth of opportunity, the key takeaway for retailers is to acknowledge that each marketplace is different and understand what each is expecting before taking the new-region plunge. But you need not wade through all the information alone: ChannelAdvisor Managed Services, our team of e-commerce experts, will ensure that you avoid those learning-curve mistakes and costly rework, leaving you to focus on sculpting and implementing strategies for success and ongoing growth.

With offices all over the world and a partnership with eBay spanning more than 13 years, ChannelAdvisor is ready with the tools and know-how to help you sell more. 


Ebook-agile-cross-border-trade-bundle-img

 

 

Want more information on international expansion? Download our free Agile Cross-Border Trade eBook bundle. 

 

 

May 14, 2014

Selling Internationally - Tips for Australian Retailers: Part 1

In my previous post, we looked into possible methods a retailer can use to ensure the best fulfilment process when selling internationally. Once you’ve navigated the challenges of shipping products from one country to another, making sure you can either fulfil the stock or have stock available to be fulfilled domestically, how do you then make sure that you're listing your products correctly in different marketplaces across the global stage?

If we work for the moment with the example of an Australian clothing retailer selling products in

the US, most would be forgiven for thinking that no translation is required. After all, our collective Western identities are similar, and 'English is English'. In this case, however, most would be incorrect — just try listing your 'thongs' for sale on eBay US and you'll see what we mean. Since thongs (in most other countries) are referred to as 'sandals’ or ‘flip-flops’, it's important that your data feed is updated to reflect this language change. However, when listing directly to eBay Australia and eBay US, making sure that all of your products adhere to the local dataset can become time-consuming. Not only do you need to update your inventory when initially listing to a new locale, but you also need to ensure these changes are reflected in every new item you list.

Given these minutiae that every retailer must master, what are the best ways to deal with these challenges and improve performance on international marketplaces? By far, the easiest way to streamline the process and manage your data is to enlist a third-party platform to do some of the heavy lifting for you. You may already be aware that when partnering with ChannelAdvisor, a retailer can provide one spreadsheet of data with one set of product information, and then use this same set to list into different countries.

Just why is this so beneficial? Here, we outline a few pain points involved with selling internationally and how you can best utilise ChannelAdvisor tools to help you sell more. 

Cross-border Trade

 

Issue: How will you know what strategy is best for each region?

In the previously outlined case of flip-flops vs. thongs vs. sandals, the information you currently have might not necessarily be the best approach for the market you're trying to list in. How do you keep up with these regional and channel differences and make sure you’re adapting to updates? 

Solution: When listing internationally through ChannelAdvisor, our Actionable Retail Insights can help you keep pace with the evolving landscape. In the Marketplaces Dashboard, we provide a feed of suggestions based on performance data. For example, you might need to increase the size of your image to boost your ranking on the eBay site, or offer an express shipping option to help you win the Amazon Buy Box. The system also knows that, for example, within the 'shoes' category in eBay Australia, 'thongs' should be defined as 'flip-flops'; it will show these insights for each region you list in, helping you map and supply the correct attributes for the product type. EBay will then run an algorithm that ensures that if a shopper searches for ‘thongs’, the site will show him your flip-flops, improving the performance of your products in each different location.

Actionable Retail Insights will also help you focus on your best performing products and the actions to take to guarantee continued success. For example, the tool might encourage you to relist items that have been popular in the past or suggest changes in price or shipping based on current competition in the region.

 

Issue: How will you find the time to alter listings with so many variables?

Let's say you're an Australian retailer selling on a single marketplace. Chances are, you know who your competitors are and you're going to be able to keep an eye on their prices so that they're not undercutting you and you're not losing out on potential buyers. But as you start to expand and list in more regions and on more marketplaces, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep track of all that information, especially because you're asleep when competitors are changing their prices. 

Solution: Enter ChannelAdvisor Repricer with Pricewatch. This feature allows you to sit back while it updates your prices for you based on a series of rules you supply. Though the Repricer is currently only available for Amazon, retailers can take these competitive Amazon prices and use them as a pricing model for their other marketplaces. The Repricer allows you to create rules for a number of possible occurrences:

  • Reprice against Amazon, against top-rated sellers, or against your competitors.
  • Set an upper and lower threshold for how ChannelAdvisor automates the price change.
  • Set increments, e.g., always being cheaper than the lowest price, but only by 7 cents.
  • Set goals to reprice to, e.g., total price inclusive of shipping, beat the person who currently has the Buy Box, include or exclude certain competitors. 
  • Sort products based on how important it is to have the price constantly evaluated, assigning products to three tiers of pricing: maximum (repriced minute by minute), accelerated (every hour or two), and standard (once a day).

 

Issue: How can you effectively keep track of inventory without wasting valuable time?

Another potential roadblock to success when selling on both local and international marketplaces is keeping track of availability. As you list into new regions, your inventory will need to be broken down to allow for different pricing, languages and quantities.  In the case of retailers not using Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) and having to ship everything from the same place, if an item sells in the US, the Australian stock will also need to be updated to prevent overselling. The more marketplaces you list on, the harder it becomes to track across multiple points of sale.

Solution: Enter Quantity Management Strategy. This tool enables you to share quantity across multiple marketplaces, creating a pool that links your accounts together, all working from a single quantity figure. Instead of needing to update your stock manually in your US, UK and Australian accounts, it allows you to upload all inventory changes to one account and see the changes immediately reflected across all others. If a product is sold or new products come in, it will update all changes for you, saving you from an endless stream of manual changes.  

Rather than focussing on the all the tedious, day-to-day tasks associated with expanding to new regions, leveraging available technology will give you more time to optimise for each channel and build a global strategy.

In our next post, we'll delve into a few often-forgotten considerations when beginning to sell internationally and our tips for first-time success.

Blog post by Sam Clarke, ChannelAdvisor Sales Engineer, APAC 


 

A Retailer's Guide to International Expansion

 

Want more information on selling internationally? Download our free A Retailer's Guide to International Expansion eBook.

May 08, 2014

Amazon Fresh: Big Radish or Bad Kiwi?

Earlier this week, we brought you news of Amazon Prime Pantry. Here, guest blogger Kevin McCarthy explores a similar Amazon service, Amazon Fresh, which has been up and running locally in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

I’ve been a big fan of home delivery of grocery and convenience products for a long time, first as a Kozmo customer, then Webvan/HomeGrocer, and in the modern era, Safeway.com and Amazon Fresh. In this post, I’ll take you through how Amazon Fresh works — with a focus on its home market, my hometown of Seattle.

Amazon Fresh is currently available in Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. The programs offered in each market are pretty dramatically different, but here they are at a glance:

Seattle: Anyone can place an order and pay a delivery fee. There appears to be no tie-in with the Amazon Prime program. Delivery fees range between $7.99 and $9.99.

  • If you spend $300 in any calendar month, you achieve “Big Radish” status, which means that deliveries on orders of $50 or more are free each time.

    Big Radish
  • You can apparently also include “normal” e-commerce items in your cart, but they have to be purchased (somewhat confusingly) through the Fresh website, which includes product pages similar to the ones you’d find on Amazon’s main site — but still different.     

San Francisco/Los Angeles: In a completely different business model, after a free trial, you have to pay $299 each year for an Amazon Prime Fresh membership. It’s like a normal Prime membership that comes with free same-day and scheduled delivery of all orders over $35. If there’s anyone who has experienced the California version of Amazon Fresh, I’d be curious to get your take in the comments.

The Experience

I really like the Amazon Fresh experience. Think of it as a high-end food-delivery service that also offers groceries. In Seattle, Amazon Fresh has partnered with a ton of high-end local foodie-type shops, including Top Pot Donuts, DeLaurenti Specialty Food and Wine, Eltana Bagels, Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery, Blue Streak Chocolates and literally dozens of other merchants.

Before Amazon Fresh, if I wanted a bagel from Eltana, I’d have to drive five miles in tons of traffic and spend my $3 for a bagel. Now, often with less than 24 hours’ notice, I can order from any of these tasty merchants and have my order delivered to my house the next day. There isn’t a delivery charge, per se, for any individual merchant. I just pay the delivery fee for the entire order to Amazon, or once I’ve achieved Big Radish status, I get free delivery for 30 to 60 days on every order over $50.

One thing that’s interesting to me is that when you order from many merchants in a single Amazon Fresh order, they charge your credit card for many individual purchases, as shown below:

Amazon Fresh bill

I’m not sure why they do that, but as a consumer it’s a little confusing, and tough, to add up the totals to verify my order.

Delivery

You can schedule delivery to be attended or unattended (meaning you will or will not be present). Your delivery will arrive on your doorstep, and even frozen food is rated to stay good for at least an hour. Each bag is incredibly well insulated and contains frozen pouches to maintain a cool temperature.

I know one person who had a “predawn unattended” delivery and then had their groceries stolen. This was in a very quiet semi-suburban neighborhood. I’m guessing that some thieves must drive around searching for these pre-dawn deliveries? Or maybe they’re tailing Amazon Fresh trucks? Either way, this might be a larger problem eventually. Amazon paid for the whole order for my friend, which was good customer service.

Here’s a look at the delivery bags, which as you can see are hardly conspicuous:

Amazon Fresh bags

Delivery has also been amazingly prompt — seriously, unbelievably so. For a scheduled 7-8 p.m. delivery, they have shown up three times in a row now exactly at 7 p.m. They must be parking up the street and counting down the seconds until they’re supposed to arrive.

Amazon Fresh salami

Once you unpack your goods, you get some really nice treats. Because you’re shopping at higher-end places, you get whatever level of service the local merchant originally offers. In the case of DeLaurenti, they wrap rows of salami in wax paper, seal the package up in cling wrap, and wrap it in butcher paper.

Most recently, I got a few not-so-tasty treats, too. A bad kiwi and a partially opened yogurt were delivered to me. In Amazon’s defense, this was the first time anything like this has happened to me, but here’s the evidence:

Amazon Fresh kiwi     Amazon Fresh yogurt
   
    

Costs

A GeekWire review of Amazon Fresh prices in Seattle estimated certain items to be about 10% higher than a local Fred Meyer store (similar to a Super Walmart). My experience has been roughly the same. I think you’re going to find more shoppers looking to Amazon Fresh for convenience rather than savings.

Personally, I think it’s an amazing service, chock full of innovation, and could lead to a huge nationwide business for Amazon, while also broadening  the company’s home-delivery network to include thousands or tens of thousands of new merchants. I think it’s more of a Big Radish than a bad kiwi.

Blog post by Kevin McCarthy, a former ChannelAdvisor employee and currently the founder of McCarthy Music.

May 06, 2014

Amazon Prime Pantry - Walk through for this new offering from Amazon

Prime_pantry_logo

In late April, Amazon introduced a new service exclusively to Prime members called Prime Pantry.  The day it launched, we put Prime Pantry through its paces and found the experience to be quite innovative.  In this blog post we'll walk you through the user experience (UX) because we feel it's important for sellers to understand how this new feature works.  In our first run through the Pantry, all items were 1P (sold by Amazon directly).  But knowing Amazon they frequently open these types of programs to third parties, and if they do it would be via the FBA service for third parties.

Why is Amazon doing this?

In the world of e-commerce there are items in the 'death quadrant' that are:

  • Heavy -This can be both true weight (liquids like Tide) or be high volume (e.g. paper  products like toilet paper or paper towels).  These types of products are expensive to ship, so are generally unavailable to Prime members (with the exception of some subcription items like diapers).
  • Low ASP - Typically these products are under $50 individually an often lower than $10.
  • Top sellers - your initial thought maybe, well this is heavy and cheap, why sell it?  Well if you looked at a 'wallet' for your family, these products typically are a big part of your non-food expenses.

Amazon insiders historically call this type of product CRAP (Can't Reach A profit).  CRAP product is the mainstay of warehouse clubs, which is one segment of offline retail that Amazon hasn't disrupted.  Amazon has tried several different programs (Amazon Fresh for example) around this product and Pantry is the latest and greatest.   In our experience, it's a strong offering that I think many Prime users will try and because most of these types of products are re-ordered, the feature set around that will make Prime Pantry quite sticky.  In the Amazon Prime Pantry, Amazon calls these 'everyday essentials'.

Finally, this type of product is frequently couponed by the manufacturer and the redemption rates on those are historically low (clip the coupon, remember it, marry it to the right item, redeem, etc.).

Introducing Prime Pantry

Prime Pantry is literally an entirely new way to shop on Amazon. Essentially you buy items that are 'flagged' Prime Pantry in a sub-section of Amazon and as you shop you fill up your Prime Pantry box.  This creates an entirely new (and I have to admit fun) experience of 'filling/maximizing' your Pantry box.  As you'll see in the walk through, there's a persistent box and every item tells you the % of a box that it utilizes.  This is delivered in the UX as a UI metaphor of a little box that you fill as you go through.  Each box costs $5.99 and takes 1-4 business days.

Prime Pantry walk through

When you start the buying experience, there is a good explanation of how the site works as well as a coupon center if you prefer to start that way:

Prime_pantry_pic1

The first thing I did was click on a promotional item, which happened to be some Ivory body wash.  Here you see a good view of the Prime Pantry item page and what makes it unique:

Prime_pantry_pic2

First in the Ivory soap above, you see that the coupon is integrated right on the item page which is handy.  Second, you see that this item fills 4% of your Prime Pantry Box, also handy for gauging how many items to put in the box.

When you do a search and/or look at a category you can see that each summary highlights how much of the box it will fill and when you 'hover' over an item it shows you a little picture of your box and how full it is.  In the following example, my box was ~10% full and adding a big tide bottle pushed it to 21%:

Prime_pantry_pic3

Part of the fun of Prime Pantry is getting my box as close to 100% as possible.  I have to admit this caused me to buy more than I wanted.  Here I had it at 95.8% and I was able to add a package of granola bars to get it right up to 98%.

Prime_pantry_pic4

In this view of my cart, you can see the "% of box" column and the coupon clipping is reflected right in my cart which is different than the normal non-Prime Pantry buying experience.

Prime_pantry_pic5

In this view, I have completed checkout and my items are scheduled to be delivered 1-4 business days in the future:

Prime_pantry_pic6

The package arrives!

True to form, Amazon delivered the box in 1 business day and here's what it looks like:

Prime_pantry_pic8

Note the HEAVY sticker. I thought it was pretty impressive that on the first day of the program, there was branded tape on the box already.  Here's a close-up:

Prime_pantry_pic9

 

After opening the box, there was a pleasant surprise.  Inside it is two 'interior boxes' and they are designed to be able to be removable and come with handles.  This made lugging the heavier items around the house very helpful and we have already re-used these sub-boxes for several other sitatuations:

  Prime_pantry_box

A couple of minor glitches in the pantry

Like any new offering there were a couple of un-Amazon-like glitches. For example, one of the highly promoted items was a 5-pack of Kraft Mac+Cheese, which was unavailable (and shouldn't be promoted).

Prime_pantry_pic7

Another thing I found a little clunky is at the beginning I wasn't as tuned in to the box % metaphor and kept spilling over in to two boxes unexpectedly.  It would have been nice for the UI to give me a warning - this jumbo can of kitty litter is going to cause you to add a Pantry box, do you want to do this?

 

Conclusion/thoughts on the experience

Minor nits aside, based on this early walk through Amazon Prime Pantry provides a great user experience, and as an existing Prime user, I plan on using it pretty frequently.  One nice feature I didn't cover here is a handy re-order feature.  This got me thinking about creating a two-week box (snacks and beverages), monthly (tide and stuff) box and every-other month box and getting the whole thing automated. 

We will keep an eye on this offering and recommend third-party sellers experiment with it to see if they want to work within the program if/when it opens up to third-party sellers (it would need to be through FBA most likely).

This blog was written by Scot Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor.

 

 

 

 

 

May 05, 2014

#AmazonCart Walk through - a look at the new Amazon and Twitter integration

Amzn_twtr_pic8_logo

Today Amazon and Twitter announced a partnership that allows an Amazon buyer that sees a tweet of an Amazon product to automatically add it to their cart using twitter.  In this blog post we walk you through how this works via a real-world example.

The use case for #AmazonCart

Several folks I talked to about the new integration thought it was a 'solution in need of a problem' as they have never seen an Amazon product tweeted they wanted to add to their cart.  That makes sense, but in a way e-commerce + social don't interact that much because it's not easy, intuitive and doesn't leverage the power of the social network.  Imagine if you had a friend that was a camera buff, or a gadget geek or your trusted wine recommender and they tweeted a product.  Now instead of spammy product tweets, you have a product tweet wrapped with a trusted recommendation.  

What if you are tweeting about an upcoming party you are hosting and want to recommend something to someone?  What if you follow Amazon's lightning deals/gold box twitter account  and are on your phone when a great deal comes out.  With #AmazonCart you can 'grab it' and then checkout on your Amazon app without having to search over on Amazon.

The future of #AmazonCart

The feature works surprising well for being announced and released today.  The obvious next step is to go ahead and have it married to your oneclick settings and then you could just go ahead and buy the item without having to go to the extra step - something like @AmazonCartOneClick.  One tough problem that isn't solved is attributes.  What if someone tweets a pair of shoes in size 8 and you are size 10? The last thing you want to do is inadvertently order the wrong size/color and there's no real easy way to do that in a tweet as you have no idea what the options are to even hash tag them or something.

 With that being said, here's what the user experience looks like for this and a real-world example.

Walk through of the #AmazonCart Twitter+Amazon integration

First, you have to marry your Amazon and Twitter accounts by going to:  amazon.com/AmazonCart

You enter both your Amazon and Twitter credentials and link the two together:

Amzn_twtr_pic1_authorize

You can decouple Amazon and Twitter (and FB BTW) via your social settings, part of your Amazon account:

Amzn_twtr_pic2_social_settings

Now let's say it's May 5th and my friend tweets about a cool party favor he is looking at, say an inflatable sombrero cooler:

Amzn_twtr_pic3_amzn_prod_tweet

All you have to do is reply to the tweet with #AmazonCart:

Amzn_twtr_pic4_reply

Before I could open a window to check my cart over on Amazon to see if the magic worked, my email chimed and I had this in my inbox:

 

Amzn_twtr_pic5_email

When I went to Amazon, sure enough, my cart had something in there:

Amzn_twtr_pic6_cart_loaded

Boom!  Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Amzn_twtr_pic7_cart_view

 

I did test a product that has sizing information, and what happens is when you tweet a product with attributes, it picks the first of each category (e.g. size 1, blue) which works if we are just talking about products, but as mentioned won't work if there are plays to actually 'buy from twitter'.

 

This blog post was written by Scot Wingo, CEO, ChannelAdvisor

 

April 30, 2014

Amazon Takes On Delivery: How Retailers Should React

Amazon boxesDrones. Last mile. Robots. AI. These sound more like words from an abstract for the latest sci-fi film than strategies from the largest e-commerce retailer on the planet. However, these words actually describe Amazon’s latest fulfillment strategies that are shepherding the world into an era of same-day gratification for online shoppers. The latest in this lineup: a test in San Francisco to own the “last mile” delivery of select Amazon products, with similar availability to be tested in other US cities, such as Los Angeles, in the coming year.  Amazon will operate its own trucks and use its own delivery staff to take products from Amazon fulfillment centers directly to your front door, with no middle man (e.g., UPS, FedEx, USPS) involved.

Amazon is arguably taking a large portion from the e-commerce buffet, but is the company now looking to eat delivery as well?

With services like Amazon Fresh, a grocery-delivery service in San Francisco, southern California and Seattle, Amazon is already dabbling in the same-day delivery spectrum under its own brand. Combine that with tens of millions of Prime users accustomed to free two-day delivery and instant streaming of books and media, and it’s an easy stretch to envision this appetite extending to same-day physical goods and having a huge market. We’re watching these offerings closely to determine the impact they’ll have on traditional shipping giants UPS and FedEx, which struggled to keep up with Amazon’s shipping demands during the 2013 holiday season.

Other e-commerce leaders have picked up similar strategies, so Amazon won’t be the only one playing in this space. EBay offers local delivery in one to two hours with its eBay Now service in five major urban regions: Chicago; Dallas; Manhattan and Brooklyn; Queens and San Francisco. For just $5, customers can shop for products sold in local stores and have eBay Now deliver them to their door within a couple of hours.

We tested eBay Now recently at our User Conference in San Francisco and had great results (our order was delivered just as I was writing this section on the program). Google is also piloting a similar service called Google Shopping Express, available in San Francisco, San Jose and the Peninsula, that delivers within the same day for $4.99 per order — a fee that’s now being waived for six months with a recent promotion running through June 30, 2014.

How This Affects Retailers

Amazon has over 100 global distribution centers.* It’s clear that having goods close to consumers is part of the company’s strategy to deliver expedited service options and reinforce buyers’ habit of looking to Amazon, rather than local stores, for products they want quickly.  

Prime plus same-day delivery could be a huge game changer if online customers become accustomed to accelerated delivery options. If you’re a traditional pure-play retailer, then chances are, you’re warehousing in one location or region. If that location happens to be on the East Coast, then you’re automatically at a disadvantage when West Coast shoppers are considering purchasing from you. Shipping carriers offer expedited options for your West Coast clientele, but you’ll incur more costs in exchange for shaving days off your delivery time. Take a look at your distribution network and see what delivery times you’re offering your domestic customers. Where do you have coverage gaps? How are you going to compete in this new era of e-commerce where customers want products quickly without a lot of extra expense?

How You Can Compete

ChannelAdvisor believes that warehouse proximity is the next big thing on the savvy retailer’s horizon. One strategy that many of our customers are taking is to partner with Amazon and use the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) service to sit on the backbone of Amazon’s wide distribution-center footprint. (Learn more about ChannelAdvisor and FBA in this eBook.) Other retailers aren’t as eager to trust an Amazon partnership more than necessary and are looking to do what they can to make their own distribution network work better and smarter for them. In our recent 2014 Spring Release, we’ve delivered services and functionalities that do just that.

The Multiple Distribution Centers feature, for example, part of ChannelAdvisor Marketplaces, takes your distribution center network and makes it smarter. Upload quantity for each of your fulfillment options (warehouses, drop shippers and even FBA) and we’ll manage the quantity for you as you offer your goods for sale on your webstore and multiple marketplaces, routing your orders to your distribution centers based on your customized fulfillment strategy. Our Proximity Order Management feature allows you to reduce your shipping speed and cost to US customers by fulfilling your orders from the distribution centers closest to the buyer’s address.

We’ll be talking about Multiple Distribution Centers and other recent product developments in our Spring Release webinar on May 1, 2014 at 2 p.m. EDT. Register now to join us and learn more about how ChannelAdvisor can help you create a smarter fulfillment network. To speak with a ChannelAdvisor expert sooner, please contact us at info@channeladvisor.com or call 866-264-8594.

Blog post by Rachel Miller, product marketing manager, ChannelAdvisor

*Note: This post originally stated that Amazon has hundreds of distribution centers in the US, which is incorrect.