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Using Shopify With Lightspeed POS: A Comprehensive Guide For Retailers

In this article, we look at how Lightspeed and Shopify integrate and what merchants can do to get the most out of each solution, used together.

Alice Cresswell

Loyalty & Marketing Expert

When building your tech stack, it's only natural to want the best. This is especially true for retail businesses, which have many moving parts—including point of sale (POS), ecommerce, customer loyalty, payments, and more. You want these elements to work seamlessly together while at the same time ensuring that each component is robust and tailored to fit your specific needs.

And that's why many retailers use Lightspeed Commerce with Shopify. As two leading software vendors in the POS and ecommerce markets, they offer complementary strengths that can streamline operations and enhance customer experiences.

In this article, we look at how Lightspeed and Shopify integrate and what merchants can do to get the most out of each solution, used together.

Quick links

 


 

About Lightspeed

Lightspeed is a POS and payment platform for retailers, restaurants, and golf courses. On the retail side specifically, Lightspeed offers an intuitive point of sale system and built-in payments that enable merchants to quickly ring up sales using a computer or mobile device. 

Lightspeed also has robust inventory capabilities, enabling retailers to order and receive products, track and transfer stock between different locations, conduct full and partial inventory counts, and more. 

In addition, Lightspeed has an ecommerce platform that allow merchants to set up an online shop and manage their digital presence. That being said, Lightspeed is built for brick and mortar retailers first, so merchants that require advanced and deep ecommerce capabilities may not get all the features they need from the platform — hence the need to integrate with other solutions.

About Shopify

Shopify is built for the ecommerce sector first and has everything you need to sell online. The platform offers a user-friendly interface for creating and customizing online stores with a wide range of themes and templates. 

Shopify also has powerful shipping capabilities through Shopify Shipping and the Shopify Fulfillment Network, which lets you outsource fulfillment and returns. 

Plus, Shopify supports various sales channels, including social media, marketplaces, and in-person sales. It also provides powerful marketing and customer engagement tools, including social media integrations, live chat, and email marketing.

Pros of using Shopify and Lightspeed together

Many merchants use Shopify and Lightspeed, and it’s easy to see why: if you want the best of both worlds (ecommerce and brick and mortar), it may make sense to integrate the two solutions. 

Access to the best tools

Between the two platforms, Shopify and Lightspeed are typically the first to market with new tools and features in their respective focus areas. As such, you can always have access to the latest and greatest features for each sales channel, giving your business a competitive edge.

Avoid messy (and expensive) migrations

If you've started on your retail journey—i.e., you already have an existing Lightspeed or Shopify account—choosing the integration route vs. migration will likely be more cost-effective.

Migrating all your data from one platform to another can be tedious and time-consuming because you need to transfer extensive records, reconfigure settings, and ensure everything works perfectly. It can also lead to downtime when the migration process isn't implemented correctly.

Cons of using Shopify and Lightspeed together

As with many integrations, users can have pain points and disjointed experiences when connecting different solutions, and the Lightspeed + Shopify integration is no different. 

Challenges with finding integrations that work with both solutions

When creating a tech stack, you need to ensure that each part "plays nice" with all other components. Naturally, this task becomes increasingly complex the more apps you have. This issue can be seen in Lightspeed and Shopify.

Lightspeed and Shopify each have their own marketplaces with different apps, so it can be challenging (but definitely not impossible) to find apps that work with both. 

Breakage points between the two systems

When set up correctly, Lightspeed’s Shopify integration serves most retailers well. But no integration is perfect 100% of the time. The reality of connecting different solutions is that issues can arise. Sometimes, data won't sync. Or maybe one platform experiences an outage, leading to disruptions in your operations. 

There have been some reports of inconsistencies and data mismatches between Shopify and Lightspeed merchants. Some retailers, for example, report that Shopify orders aren't syncing with Lightspeed or that not all data (e.g. images or product details) are imported seamlessly.

Usually, these issues only arise with more complicated use cases — for example, franchises, or set ups that use parent accounts. Anything that deviates from the standard Lightspeed and Shopify set up can be a bit trickier to get right.

Solutions to address integration issues

While there are real concerns about connecting different apps, successful software integrations are totally possible. If your business doesn’t use a standard set up, you just need to find the right solutions and systems. Consider the following.

Choose apps that work on both platforms

Our first tip? Choose your apps wisely. If you're using Shopify with Lightspeed and want to extend the capabilities of these platforms, set your sights on apps that can connect to both solutions. You can find them by browsing Lightspeed's and Shopify's respective marketplaces and ensuring they are listed as compatible with both systems. 

An example of one such app is Marsello. All our loyalty and customer engagement tools work perfectly with Shopify and Lightspeed, so you don't have to worry about disconnected data or a disjointed customer experience. More on this in a bit.

Implement middleware

You can deploy middleware—i.e., software that acts as a bridge between different applications to facilitate communication and data flow. These apps are built specifically to help with the connection between Lightspeed and Shopify. Middleware can provide an adequate workaround, but keep in mind that they can be unreliable and setting them up is typically labor-intensive.

We would recommend only using middleware if you have a complex or unique store set up (for example, a parent-child store set up in Lightspeed, or if you're running a franchise model).

Custom development

If you have the dev resources, you can also go the custom development route by leveraging Lightspeed's and Shopify's open APIs to build a bespoke integration. This is ideal for merchants who need highly-customized integrations or extra-tight and robust connections.

Best apps when using Shopify and Lightspeed

Ready to connect your sales channels? Here are the apps we recommend for retailers using both Lightspeed and Shopify.

Marsello: Loyalty & Marketing

Marsello is customer loyalty and marketing software for omnichannel retailers. If you're looking to launch a rewards program that lets shoppers earn and redeem points across digital and physical channels, Marsello can help.

Key features of the software include customer rewards (including awarding points for non-purchase activities), email marketing, win-back campaigns, gift cards, and more. 

Of course, Marsello integrates really well with Lightspeed and Shopify, so you can manage your loyalty and marketing efforts seamlessly across both platforms.

Marsello featured as a 'best practice' app at the Shopify conference

Above: Marsello was featured as a Best Practice app at Shopify’s 2024 conference, Editions.dev. 

Lightspeed Advanced Marketing: Loyalty & Marketing

When it comes to describing Lightpeed's Advanced Marketing capabilities, TechnologyAdvice.com said it best:

"Lightspeed operates with store sales in mind, so it truly excels at multi-store and multi-location sales tracking. It also has an unrivaled omnichannel loyalty program that bridges in-store, online, SMS, and email and is highly customizable."

Simply put, Lightspeed Advanced Marketing has you covered on multiple fronts—from loyalty marketing to customer comms. Lightspeed Advanced Marketing is powered by Marsello, but runs natively in the Lightspeed environment.

Klaviyo: Email Marketing

Klaviyo is an email and SMS marketing platform designed to help businesses create personalized and automated marketing campaigns. It offers robust segmentation, detailed analytics, and easy-to-use templates to create engaging emails and messages that drive customer engagement and sales. 

With integrations with Lightspeed, Shopify, and Marsello, Klaviyo is an excellent option for retailers who want to streamline their marketing efforts and enhance customer outreach across multiple channels.

Wrapped: Omnichannel Gift Cards

If gift cards are a big part of your business, you'll want to look into Wrapped. As a self-described "out-of-the-box gift card solution that integrates with POS, eCommerce, and mobile ordering platforms, all wrapped into one," this app makes managing gift cards simple and efficient.

With Wrapped, you can sell gift cards that customers can use wherever they shop—in-store, online, or both. Gift card data syncs between your POS (Lightspeed) and ecommerce software (Shopify), so balances are updated across both solutions. 

Judge.me: Product Reviews

Judge.me enables you to add widgets to your online store to display reviews and Q&As. It's a nifty tool that makes it easy to share social proof and build trust with potential customers.

Judge.me also has some handy review management capabilities. Effortlessly generate reviews through automatic review requests. You can even A/B test different messaging to see which ones generate the most engagement. And when you need to manage your reviews, you can do so with Judge.me's built-in features for sending replies and following up with reviewers. 

NetSuite: ERP & CRM

NetSuite is a comprehensive cloud-based business management software suite that covers ERP, CRM, and ecommerce functionalities. It provides you with tools for financial management, inventory, customer relationship management, and more. 

NetSuite's real-time data and analytics help businesses make informed decisions and streamline operations. With its robust integration capabilities, NetSuite can seamlessly connect with both Lightspeed and Shopify, ensuring smooth data flow across your entire business ecosystem.

Retailers who use Lightspeed and Shopify

Now, let's take a look at merchants who have been using Lightspeed and Shopify successfully.

HobbyTech Toys 

HobbyTech Toys is a sports and hobbies store in Australia known for its extensive product range. With a wide catalog that it sells across ecommerce and physical retail, HobbyTech Toys needs best-in-class solutions, which is why the owner, Jordan Hepburn, uses Lightspeed and Shopify. 

Beyond having powerful selling tools, Jordan leverages a data-driven approach to marketing and operations. This is where Marsello and Klaviyo come in. 

HobbyTech Toys utilizes Marsello for integrated loyalty programs, automation, and seamless omnichannel data management. Additionally, Jordan syncs all in-store transaction data with Klaviyo, enabling him to run effective email campaigns.

That data sync is critical, as it allows Jordan and his team to get a comprehensive view of customer behavior and preferences.

"It's good to be in that position where we've got so much access to data, and it helps us make informed decisions," he says. 

Pace Athletic

More than just a sporting goods store, Pace Athletic is dedicated to breaking down barriers to running and fitness. Founded by Will and Stu, two fitness enthusiasts, the store aims to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all. 

Pace-Athletics-Omnichannel-Loyalty-Program

Pace Athletic uses Lightspeed, Shopify, and Marsello to create a seamless and engaging experience. Lightspeed's POS system enables efficient in-store transactions, and Shopify's ecommerce platform complements this by providing a user-friendly online shopping experience.

Marsello ties these components together with intuitive marketing and loyalty tools. Pace Athletic’s loyalty program, powered by Marsello, contributes to 28% of their revenue — which is a testament to the power of having an engaged community (and the benefits of tightly-integrated marketing tools).

Super Butcher

Super Butcher is a chain of butcher shops with a growing online presence. With the rapid expansion of both its physical stores and online shop, the team needs to integrate customer data across channels.

Super Butcher relies on Shopify, Lightspeed, Klaviyo, and Marsello to create a seamless shopping experience for its customers. Lightspeed and Shopify power the company's POS and ecommerce, while Klaviyo facilitates personalized email marketing.

Meanwhile, Marsello complements these components by powering Super Butcher's omnichannel loyalty program and bringing in-store sales data into Klaviyo for extensive customer insights.

Marsello's multi-site reporting shows customer behavior across physical and digital channels so that the team can make better marketing decisions. 

"Marsello helped link everything together. Now we have a seamless loyalty program that's easy to use," says Jaden of Super Butcher.

TennisGear

Driven by his passion for tennis, Mark, an avid tennis enthusiast and accountant, decided to purchase a four-court tennis center with an attached retail store. This bold move set the foundation  for TennisGear, a flourishing multi-channel retail and coaching business catering to tennis lovers across Australia.

Lightspeed POS provides a robust foundation for managing in-store transactions and inventory across multiple locations. By integrating with Shopify, TennisGear has a solid ecommerce presence, allowing customers to shop online effortlessly. 

As for Marsello? Our platform provides marketing and loyalty tools so TennisGear can segment its customer base and create tailored campaigns. 

This integrated approach has yielded significant results. TennisGear experienced a 2.5% increase in its customer database after implementing Lightspeed POS prompts, which remind staff to add customers to sales. Marsello's automation capabilities help recover abandoned carts and incentivize lost customers to return, which boosts engagement even more. With a centralized data hub, TennisGear can execute highly targeted marketing strategies and drive repeat business. 

"I think Marsello is the only solution that we found that had a native integration between all the systems that we are using. Now we can really easily separate our in-store and our online customers. In terms of loyalty, campaigns, and everything, it's certainly the best solution that we found," remarks Declan, Project Manager at TennisGear.

Brandini Toffee

A specialty foods company based in Southern California, Brandini Toffee offers gourmet toffee products through both their brick-and-mortar stores and their ecommerce platform.

brandini-standing-brandini-toffee

With its retail stores powered by Lightspeed and ecommerce shop set up via Shopify, Branidni Toffee keeps all data flowing across both channels through the softwares' tight integration. 

Marsello enhances these systems with comprehensive marketing and loyalty tools, enabling Brandini Toffee to drive customer engagement and retention across all channels. The integration helped Brandini triple its revenue from 2019 to 2023. 

"The integration is super important for us between our brick and mortar stores and ecommerce," explains owner Brandon Weimer. "Having loyalty aspects is a key component to growing those channels."

Conclusion

Should you use Lightspeed with Shopify? 

The reality is that most omnichannel retailers use both because each platform excels in different areas — Shopify for its robust ecommerce capabilities and Lightspeed for its powerful point-of-sale and inventory management features. This is especially true for retailers with complex inventory needs. 

If you’re trying to decide whether or not to integrate, it helps to take a closer look at how you currently work and what tech you’re already using to make sure everything will fit together. Also, think about doing a cost analysis to see what kind of investment you'll be looking at and if it’s worth it.

And if you decide to go for it and need a loyalty program and marketing solution that works with both, Marsello is a great choice. It syncs perfectly with Shopify and Lightspeed, providing a unified customer engagement experience.

Request a demo to see our platform in action


 

Need help? Get advice from an expert.

Speak to an expert

 


 

Read more: 7 Steps To Building A Profitable Loyalty & Rewards Program

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    BigCommerce Apps to Help You Thrive Through COVID-19

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    These BigCommerce apps help to ramp up your customer service and run your business in the wake of Coronavirus (COVID-19) as it continues to develop.

    Marsello-BigCommerce-Apps-Covid-19

    As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to impact businesses nationwide, many eCommerce retailers know that providing customers with exceptional shopping experiences is vitally important. These useful apps can help you to ramp up your customer service and run your business more smoothly.

    Sales and Marketing

    With fewer customers making purchases from online retailers, it’s especially important to attract Internet shoppers who are in the market for your merchandise. Innovative sales and marketing apps will help you to convert web browsers into paying customers.

     

    Marsello logo

    Marsello

    Marsello’s customer loyalty program rewards customers for engaging in behaviors that help to grow your store. You can also use Marsello to launch promotional offers, super-effective one-off SMS and email marketing campaigns, and automated, customizable emails that trigger at the perfect time, to the right customers.

     

    Benefits for Your Business

    By implementing a well-crafted customer loyalty program and complimenting that with seamless automated marketing, you’ll build “win-win” customer relationships that will help your business grow. Worldwide, omnichannel stores (those that sell across multiple sales channels) are adapting to a new way of retail and communications with built-in customer rewards are absolutely essential for keeping your customers coming back!

     

     

    Answerbase logo

    Answerbase

    Answering your customers’ product questions encourages them to make a purchase. Answerbase helps ease the load of this by adding a product Q&A feature to your product pages. Your team’s product experts can address questions and drive people closer to a purchase decision.

     

    Benefits for Your Business

    Answerbase helps to increase your conversions by giving them the info they need while they’re shopping. You’ll also improve SEO and organic search rankings because you’re adding quality content to your product pages.

     

     

    fomo logo

    Fomo

    Shoppers often want social proof before they’ll purchase a product from an online store. The Fomo app provides that validation by showcasing product reviews and real-time orders on your storefront. After customers view a Fomo notification, they can easily add items to their shopping cart without exiting the page.

     

    Benefits for Your Business

    When shoppers see customers buying your products, they’ll likely be enticed to make a purchase. As a result, you’ll see an increase in your store’s on-page sales conversions and completed sales.

     

     

    affiliatly logo

    Affiliatly

    Maintain full control over your affiliate program with the multifunctional Affiliatly app. Track each affiliate’s user visits and customer orders. Manage your affiliates’ earning methods and income percentages. Customize the app so it blends with your store’s appearance.

     

    Benefits for Your Business

    By definition, affiliates build links and help to promote your store. You’ll have full control over how the affiliates perform those activities and can structure your affiliate interactions to benefit your business.

     

     

    Financials

    Maintaining an accurate picture of your business’ financials is important, especially in today’s economic climate. These beneficial apps make it easy to view your store’s sales, expenses, inventory, and other relevant functions.

     

    QBO logo

    QBO

    The efficient QBO app collects data about your products, orders, customers, shipping charges, taxes, and more. Next, QBO transfers this vital data directly from your eCommerce store to your Quickbooks Online account.

     

    Benefits for Your Business

    Using the QBO app eliminates the need for manual data entry. Potential data entry errors are also a thing of the past. Using this time-saving app enables you to devote your efforts to higher-level business growth tasks.

     

     

    Xero logo

    Xero

    The Xero online accounting app makes it easy for your small business to copy operations data to your accounting program. Xero syncs your products, orders, customers, shipping, taxes, and other charges to your accounting software. Automate frequently completed tasks such as creating invoices, recording expenses, and generating reports.

     

    Benefits for Your Business

    Xero frees you up from endless data entry tasks, giving you valuable time to work on higher-level operations goals. You’ll also eliminate the possibility of manual data entry errors that can completely skew your accounting results.

     

     

    Taxman logo

    Taxman

    If your eCommerce store sells regulated products such as alcohol or nicotine, Taxman will automatically calculate and charge the correct excise tax for these product sales. You just need to define the geographic zone and tax rate, and Taxman takes care of the rest.

     

    Benefits for Your Business

    With help from Taxman, you’ll navigate an often-forgotten type of product sales tax. Even better, you’ll remain compliant with all applicable tax laws.

     

    Social Media

    With increased time on their hands, more people are browsing their social feeds, looking for something to buy. Toward that end, you should introduce compelling social media initiatives that will draw them to your eCommerce store.

     

    Here are some BigCommerce apps that can help.

     

     

    Elfsight logo

    Instagram Feed by Elfsight

    Elfsight Instagram Feed will blend your eye-catching Instagram content into your eCommerce store website. Use numerous customization options to match the app’s widget to your website style and color scheme.

     

    Benefits for Your Business

    Your Instagram-enhanced website will see increased audience engagement, and you’ll also get more Instagram followers. Most importantly, you’ll see a boost in your eCommerce website’s conversion rate.

     

     

    ContentPlum logo

    ContentPlum

    ContentPlum provides shoppers with multiple social feeds, and adds intriguing relevant content, to promote better social engagement and social trust. The app can be used for Shoppable Instagram Gallery, Social Hub, Social Wall, Social Contests, Social Campaigns, Media Buzz, and more.

     

    Benefits for Your Business

    By inviting viewers to engage with social media widgets on your store’s site, you’ll enhance social trust and build credibility. Because customers are more likely to buy from someone they know and trust, you’ll improve the likelihood that these visitors will turn into paying customers.

     

     

    Promote your eCommerce store’s products on up to 14 social media networks without duplicating your efforts. The highly efficient Outfy app helps you to create visually appealing product videos, high-impact sales promotions, and automated posts designed for social media audiences.

     

    Benefits for Your Business

    Outfy’s broad social reach will help to attract more viewers to your eCommerce store. Over time, you’ll see an increase in your product sales.

     

     

    Take advantage of free, customizable social sharing buttons for popular social media networks. You don’t need coding skills to build and load the mobile-friendly buttons. In addition, the installation process won’t slow down your store’s website.

     

    Benefits for Your Business

    By installing the social sharing buttons, you’ll see an increase in followers and social shares. This increased viewership gives you the opportunity to promote product specials and collect more emails for your marketing list.

     

     

    Analytics

    Generally speaking, retailers want to know what’s working and what hasn’t met their expectations. They want to maximize their revenue sources, solve their financial problems, and set themselves up for success. These powerful apps can play a key role in that ever-evolving process.

     

    Shogun logo
     

     

    Build custom eCommerce website pages with Shogun’s versatile drag-and-drop page builder. Professionally designed home page, landing page, blog pages, and product pages templates are compatible with your existing theme. Compare completed pages for metrics’ results, and evaluate marketing campaigns with targeted analytics.

     

    Benefits for Your Business

    Your well-coordinated eCommerce website will enhance your business’ online credibility. Concurrently, you can compare the effectiveness of different pages and marketing campaigns. The comparisons’ results will help you make adjustments that can move your business forward.

     

    Price2Spy logo

    Price2Spy

    Monitor your competitors’ prices with the real-time Price2Spy app. Applicable to businesses of all sizes, this service enables online retailers to track competitors’ prices and price changes. Track multiple competitors’ websites for maximum benefit. Determine which of your eCommerce store’s products can vary in price, and easily make these price changes.

     

    Benefits for Your Business

    Price2Spy's comprehensive pricing reports will display incremental market changes. The reports will also show whether your competitors are ramping prices up or easing them down.

     

    Lucky Orange provides insights into your'eCommerce store’s functionality. View visitor recordings of site transactions, and learn why some shoppers don’t make a purchase from your store. To change that, Lucky Orange helps you answer visitors’ questions through live chat and offers live view to co-browse with them to help them find the product they need.

     

    Benefits for Your Business

    When you learn why most site visitors don’t convert to paying customers, you can take steps to turn the situation around. By tweaking your eCommerce site, you’ll be well-positioned to increase your conversions and sales.

     

     

    Customer Service

    Top-notch customer service can help you rise above the competition and promote long-term customer loyalty. Adding the right communications tools to your eCommerce retailer’s toolkit can streamline the process and convert customer questions into sales.

     

     

    To chat with shoppers while they visit your eCommerce store, install the LiveChat + Product Cards widget on your website. You can also provide product suggestions and assist customers through the buying process.

     

    Benefits for Your Business

    The LiveChat + Product Cards app enables you to interact with shoppers while they’re actively engaged on your eCommerce store’s site. When you answer their questions or provide other customer support, you increase your chances of making a sale.

     

     

    Social messaging platforms, including Quick Facebook Chat, are fast becoming preferred communications venues. With Quick Facebook Chat, your customer can easily use Facebook Messenger to get product-related assistance and gain satisfaction.

     

    Benefits for Your Business

    By using Quick Facebook Chat, you’ll avoid the need for third-party live chat agents. Customers can “Like” your store’s Facebook page from the chat window, which increases their engagement. These Messenger encounters can also help you to cross-sell products and introduce new items.

     

     

    While you’re on the Slack communications platform, use the Live Chat for Slack app to chat with visitors. Customize the chat backdrop with your logo and other helpful visuals. Then, send visitors directly to your eCommerce store. While they’re browsing your site, convert them to email list subscribers and followers, and ideally to paying customers.

     

    Benefits for Your Business

    By putting Live Chat for Slack into your communications mix, you’ll save money on a third-party chat platform. You’ll also maintain better control of the customer conversion sequence, increasing your chances of turning visitors into paying customers.

     

     

    Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

    You may need to temporarily tighten advertising purse strings. To get customers to your eCommerce sites and brick-and-mortar stores, you must take steps to drive organic traffic to your business.

     

    Let’s say you edit, optimize, and analyze your eCommerce store’s titles and meta descriptions for categories, products, and pages. FavSEO streamlines that process, enabling you to perform those operations at a single location. You’ll also uncover new keyword opportunities, track your keyword rankings in Google, and submit your sitemap for review.

     

    Benefits for Your Business

    FavSEO’s one-stop optimizing tool saves you valuable time, freeing you up for other important tasks. By tracking keyword rankings and getting an SEO audit, you’ll improve your SEO program’s effectiveness. In turn, this helps to increase your store’s visitor traffic.

     

     

    ProSEOTracker logo

    ProSEOTracker

    Optimizing your SEO metadata and content and managing your blog and SEO issues is easy with ProSEOTracker’s one-stop SEO hub. Monitoring your competitors, and working with Google Analytics or AdWords, are simpler tasks when you’re not visiting multiple websites.

     

    Benefits for Your Business

    With your SEO analysis and optimization resources in one place, completing SEO-related tasks will be a less laborious and time-consuming process. You’ll also realize increased efficiency by viewing the data from one location.

     

     

    Search engines (including Google) often display extra features on your eCommerce store’s search results. These features, such as product prices, review stars, and availability, work together to make the search results more useful and increase clicks to your site.

     

    Benefits for Your Business

    With the SEO Rich Snippets App, you’ll be able to create FAQ pages, “How To” pages and Video structured data that combine to increase your site’s appeal. Over time, these features will bring extra traffic to your store, and should help to increase your sales.

     

    Inventory Management & Order Fulfillment

    With “stay at home” orders in place, consumers have plenty of time to browse and buy from eCommerce retailers. As such, you must have a reliable order fulfillment program so customers get their products on time.

     

     

    Lightspeed

    Lightspeed

    Manage your eCommerce + physical store’s inventory with Lightspeed’s cloud-based sales and inventory app. Edit product features in bulk, and reorder stock automatically. Lightspeed Retail also sheds light on key retail metrics in real time to help you make the best decisions.

     

    Benefits for Your Business

    Lightspeed’s one-stop POS, inventory, and retail management system puts an end to tedious product entry and tracking work. At the same time, you’ll have access to a powerful cloud-based sales and inventory tool that provides all the data you need to keep your physical shop and eCommerce store’s inventory under control.

     

     

    The small business-friendly Sendle app enables affordable door-to-door package delivery. When Sendle integrates with your online store, you’ll receive live shipping rate quotes that you deliver to customers. Sendle also enables efficient order processing and tracking. Oh, and Sendle’s delivery service is 100 percent carbon neutral.

     

    Benefits for Your Business

    Sendle’s combined shipping rate quote, order processing, and package tracking services offer your customers an all-in-one shipping solution. Sendle is also a time saver, as you won’t have to wait for delayed shipping rate quotes that could delay order completion.

     

     

    Endicia logoEndicia

    If you regularly ship products via the United States Postal Service (USPS), the Endicia eCommerce integration offers several helpful services. With your no-fee Endicia account, you’ll save up to 51 percent compared to USPS Retail and USPS.com Click-N-Ship prices. Give your customers real-time USPS shipping quotes, and print shipping labels from your computer. 

     

    Benefits for Your Business

    The Endicia eCommerce integration will save you money. In addition, offering real-time shipping quotes and printing shipping labels gives you control over each step in the process.

     

     

    The Store Pickup + Delivery by Zapiet app invites customers to decide how they want to receive their purchased products. The customer can opt for traditional shipping, local delivery, or in-store pickup.  

     

    Benefits for Your Business

    By offering the customer several product receipt options, you’ll likely be perceived as highly responsive to their needs. That favorable attribute can play a key role in building customer loyalty.

     

    Your turn

    Did we miss anything? What other BigCommerce are helping retailers through COVID-19? Let us know in the comments.

     

    How to Encourage Ecommerce Sales Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

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    To help you navigate post-pandemic retail and knock it out the park, we’ve compiled some tips on using online channels to encourage sales and engagement.

    No matter what type of retail store you have, there’s a high chance that your business has been severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

    Cities all over the world are enacting ‘Safer at Home’ orders and quarantine measures, and these actions have left many retailers no choice but to temporarily shut down their physical operations. Some countries are even requiring businesses to close unless they’re deemed an essential service.

    With most consumers staying home, it’s quite evident that the only way to reach them is through digital channels.

    Here are some tips on how to use online channels to encourage sales and engagement during this period.

     

    1. Keep your channels tightly integrated


    If you have an existing brick-and-mortar store and want to bring your sales online, the first step you should take is to integrate your online and offline systems. 

    Doing so will help you set up your sales channels correctly, so your inventory and sales data will be synced between your physical and online stores. Plus, you’ll save time from having to re-enter your product information and you can eliminate human error due to doubling up on data entry. 

    It’s best to use systems that are already compatible with each other, so get in touch with your POS solution provider and ask them about the eCommerce platforms that they integrate with. Be sure to discuss the types of data that are synced between systems and talk to your provider about how to get set up quickly and efficiently. 

    For best results, choose solutions that can also connect to your marketing software, so you can seamlessly launch email, SMS, and customer engagement campaigns for driving sales. 

    Pro tip: Did you know that Marsello integrates with leading POS and eCommerce platforms? Connect Marsello to your existing solutions so you can easily automate your loyalty marketing efforts and deliver a seamless customer experience.

     

    2. Promote relevant products


    The needs of your customers during the current coronavirus health crisis have shifted, so your marketing has to evolve along with these changes. Part of doing that involves promoting products that are relevant to what your shoppers are experiencing. 

    Go through your current catalog and look for items that consumers need at this time. For example, if you’re a furniture retailer, then now would be a great time to promote your office products, since most people are working from home. Selling books or gift items? Look for products that people would help people navigate what could be a high-stress situation.

    Here’s an example from the crystal store Energy Muse. Since many people are experiencing coronavirus stress and anxiety, Energy Muse recently sent out informative content on how to use the crystal Black Tourmaline to alleviate negative emotions.

    What’s good about Energy Muse’s message is it led with informative content. Rather than a hard sell, the email’s first call to action took people to a video in which Energy Muse’s founder-led viewers through a guided visualization to relieve stress and anxiety. 

    And should people choose to purchase the crystal, there’s a second CTA towards the lower part of the email. 

     

    Energy Muse uses a one-off email campaign to communicate clearly with their customers.

     

    Note: While this tactic can be effective, your marketing efforts shouldn’t be exploitive. For example, if you’re an apparel retailer that’s suddenly selling hand sanitizer, you’ll only forge distrust with consumers – and potentially get your ads banned.  

    Sites like Facebook are prohibiting exploitive tactics in ads by banning promotions for things like face masks.

    If you’re planning to market relevant products, stick with items that are already in your catalog or ones that are truly in line with your brand. 

     

    3. Tap into influencer and community marketing


    Digital content consumption is likely to increase in the coming days and weeks as more people turn to the web. Consumers are spending more time on websites and social media – with most doing it to pass the time, keep up with the latest news, and seek inspiration and entertainment.

    Consider tapping into that online attention by teaming up with influencers or even your existing customers. Send them product samples or create joint content pieces together. 

    Encourage your community to tag you in their posts. Emphasize the fact that with many businesses being forced to close, customer engagement (even if it comes from no-cost actions like liking or sharing posts) goes a long way. 

    Check out this post from home decor store Pretty Little Home, which thanks customers for the support that the community has shown the business. 

     

    Pretty Little Home uses influencer marketing to reach out to more customers.

     

    “Whether it’s a like, tag, share, or order on the website... It really means the world especially at a time like this,” read the post. 

     

    4. Spread the goodwill


    We’ve known for a while that good deeds and corporate social responsibility can drive customer engagement and loyalty. That’s why if your business can afford it, consider launching an initiative designed to help those in need during this crisis. 

    It can be a charitable campaign, a special offer for the less fortunate, or even a job opportunity. One brand that’s doing this well is the fitness store Gymshark. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many gyms have been forced to close their doors, resulting in trainers and fitness instructors losing their source of income. 

    To help out, Gymshark announced that it’s offering an hourly rate to personal trainers struggling to find work. Trainers would be doing online workouts in partnership with the brand and earn money while they’re at it. 

    The post was widely shared on Instagram and thousands of people liked and commented on the post. 

     

    Gymshark offers personal trainers a covid-19 deal.

     

    5. Constantly reassure your customers


    Building trust is more important than ever. You won’t be able to drive sales if shoppers don’t feel safe and secure buying from you. That’s why you need to constantly reassure your customers about the health and safety precautions that you’re taking to keep everyone safe from COVID-19.

    How often are you cleaning and sanitizing your store? What are you doing to protect your staff? What measures are you taking to protect your customers? Be specific and outline everything in your customer communications assets (e.g., email, social media, in-store signage). 

    A good example of this practice in action comes from LA Cafe in Downtown Los Angeles. While the restaurant is closed to diners, LA Cafe still accepts online orders that can be picked up or delivered. 

    To make people feel safe about ordering, LA Cafe published a detailed post outlining everything that it’s doing to address COVID-19 concerns. 

     

    The LA Cafe uses Instagram and social media to communicate COVID-19 changes.

     

    6. Run promotions


    If sales are slow (and they likely are during this period), it may be a good idea to run a promotion to entice people to buy. 

    Do note that you’ll be competing with plenty of other brands for shoppers’ attention, so you want your promotions to be as relevant as possible. The best way to do this is to send offers based on each customer’s shopping history and brand interactions. 

    Consider the case of the designer footwear retailer Bulo Shoes, which couples Marsello's loyalty program with email marketing automation to send marketing messages that are always on-point. With Marsello’s help, Bulo Shoes’ automated emails are set up in segments based on customers’ previous behaviors. The store runs separate automated campaigns for first-time customers, abandoned cart recovery, lapsed customers, and to wish customers ‘Happy Birthday’. 

    By sending automated emails that are triggered by customers’ actions, Bulo Shoes are able to reach out to customers in the most relevant and timely way, and thus maximize both revenue and customer engagement.

     

    Bulo Shoes use automated emails to run promotions that target their customers following actions like making a purchase.

     

    What if you can’t sell or fulfill orders?


    The new measures and policies around COVID-19 have been particularly tough on SMBs that are deemed “non-essential”. In addition to store closures, some businesses have been forced to shut down their offices, facilities, and fulfillment centers to slow the spread of the virus. In such cases selling and fulfilling orders – even those made online – isn’t achievable at this time. 

    If you’re in this predicament, try the following tactics:

    Delay shipments and offer generous rewards

    If you can still technically sell online but are unable to fulfill orders, you could run special promotions to get people to buy. That’s what Madame Fancy Pants, a Wellington-based retailer is doing. Due to the coronavirus, the team at Madame Fancy Pants are unable to ship out products in the time being. But they’re still taking orders online, with the commitment to fulfill those orders once isolation measures have been lifted. 

    To encourage people to buy, Madame Fancy Pants sent out a one-off email campaign using Marsello. The email lets their customers know that Madame Fancy Pants will be rewarding shoppers with double loyalty points for their full-priced purchases.

     

    Madame Fancy Pants keeps customers up to day using Marsello’s One-off Email Campaigns

     

    Enable Wishlists

    Another tactic for keeping your customers interested and excited while you’re unable to fill their orders is to allow them to create wishlists of the items you usually stock. Check out our recent blog on top apps for Shopify for ideas on which apps you could use to integrate this feature into your store. 

    Wellington-based pet products retailer, Smack Bang, have done a wonderful job of communicating this recent update with their customers through their social media channels. Check out this Facebook post (note that they’ve even pinned it to ensure customers see the update) that lets their customers know that although they’ve had to shut up shop with the COVID-19 lockdown enforced in New Zealand, their customers can now create wishlists on the Smack Bang online store. 

     

    Smack Bang uses Facebook to let their customers know that they can now create wishlists.

     

    Consider digital products 

    If possible, sell digital products like ebooks, digital art, online consultations, or even courses. 

    One retailer that’s currently promoting digital products is Vroman’s, Southern California’s oldest independent bookstore. Like many other retailers, Vroman’s had to temporarily shut down its operations because of the coronavirus. 

    To continue driving sales, Vroman’s is encouraging shoppers to purchase its ebooks and audiobooks instead, and the bookshop provides instructions on how to do this on social media and on its website. 

     

    Vromans goes Omnichannel

     

    Sell gift cards

    If you’re not offering gift cards online yet, now is the time to sell and promote them. Digital gift cards give your customers the chance to support your business so you can secure much-needed income. In turn, your shoppers can enjoy your products and services once this crisis is over. 

    Consider the example of Pink Marble Studio, which offers lashes, nails, and waxing services. The company recently started offering gift cards online that customers can redeem at a later time.

     

    Pink Marble Studio offers gift cards

     

    Retail tip: For more results, sell these gift certificates at a discount rate to further entice your customers to make a purchase. 

     

    Keep up with social media and content marketing 

    Just because you can’t sell online, doesn’t mean you can’t connect with your customers. Maintain an active presence online by regularly updating your social media accounts and sharing valuable, ‘non-salesy’ content with your audience. 

    Doing so will help you grow your platform, traffic, and follower counts so that when business picks up again, you can hit the ground running. 

    We love this example from Australian wholefood retailer, Bare Wholefoods:

     

    Rough &amp; Bare uses Instagram to update customers and encourage them to keep shopping.

     

    Bare Wholefoods cleverly show that they’re still actively and safely delivering customers’ orders with a photo of outgoing orders ready for shipping. They add a message of genuine gratitude to their customers for their continued loyalty and support. Updates like this help customers to feel confident that they will get the products they’ve ordered, and also gives them the morale boost of knowing they’re helping support the local economy. 

     

    Notify customers with stock updates

    Chances are you’ll find that changes to shipping or production translate to slower restocking times – you may even find yourself out of stock or running low before you can restock, but there’s plenty you can do to keep your customers shopping with you.

    We’ve mentioned using wishlist tools that enable customers to create lists of items they’d like to buy that aren’t currently available, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Why not let your customers know when their desired items are back in stock and actively prompt them to shop with you.

    Online multi-brand retailer, The Iconic does a great job of this. When an item or size is out of stock, customers with a registered account are prompted to automatically at the item to their wishlist and sign-up for a ‘back in stock’ email, all through a beautifully designed pop-up. Notice the clever addition of product recommendations that may get customers to shop in that session anyway.

     

    The Iconic ties their Wishlist and Back in Stock tools to create a seamless experience for customers.
     

    It’s tough, but hang in there

    We know that the current retail environment can feel far from ideal. The best thing to do right now is to focus on things we can control. If you’re a retailer, these include your customer communications and marketing messages; do your best to stop on top of them, so you can keep driving sales. 

     

    16 BigCommerce Apps that Can Help You Run a Better Retail Business

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    BigCommerce have an impressive selection of apps available to support BigCommerce stores. Read on to find the best BigCommerce apps to meet you

    BigCommerce Top Apps

    BigCommerce is cementing itself as a popular eCommerce solution offering merchants a range of competitive features, no transaction fees, and an incredibly user-friendly platform. 

     

    Whether you're a brick and mortar shop looking to go online for the first time or have already run eCommerce sites in the past, you'll get the hang of BigCommerce in a snap. 

     

    The platform also offers an expansive selection of apps that easily integrate to support merchants – no matter whether they need solutions for accounting, inventory, or sales. 

     

    An expansive selection is great, of course, but of the hundreds of apps in various diverse categories, a little guidance can go a long way in selecting those that are going to best support your retail business.

     

    To save you hours sifting through reviews and user information, we've gone and done it for you and found the best BigCommerce apps to meet your store's needs.

     

    Lightspeed-Logo 1. Lightspeed

    Point of sale, inventory, and reporting tools are a must for every merchant, both online and offline, and Lightspeed brings users all of those tools – POS, inventory, and reporting, as well as customer engagement – to remove the hassle of managing a business. 

     

    The Lightspeed app makes it easy to manage sales, customers, products, and inventory from one easy to use platform. BigCommerce merchants can integrate with Lightspeed, so their sales, inventory, and customer data are synced seamlessly across both platforms. 

     

    Lightspeed and BigCommerce give you everything you need to power your retail business online and in-store.

     

    With these two solutions, you can remove the complexity out of going omnichannel. You can on top of your sales, stock, and customers while Lightspeed POS and BigCommerce stay perfectly in sync. You can even sell on your favorite social media and marketplaces!

    - Francesca Nicasio, Content Marketing Manager, Lightspeed Retail

     

    Engaging and communicating with your customers is a MUST if you want to keep them coming back, and this one of the reasons why you want to have Marsello in your retail toolkit. 

     

    Marsello is marketing automation and loyalty software that enables you to run personalized, data-driven campaigns at scale with added tools like customer segmentation and feedback collection. You can use Marsello to create email and SMS campaigns tailored to each user based on their purchase history, behavior, and previous interactions with your brand. 

     

    On the loyalty side, Marsello lets you create a rewards program that works seamlessly across your eCommerce and brick and mortar shop, so your customers can earn and redeem perks no matter where or how they're shopping!

     

    Accounting is a task that very few business owners enjoy. However, thanks to the beautiful integration of Xero Accounting on the BigCommerce platform, accounting need not be a chore. 

     

    Your store can be easily connected with your accounting software for a seamless flow of information, with your online and offline data and accounts perfectly in sync. Xero covers payments, payroll, inventory, invoicing, expenses, and performance reporting, which is all mobile compatible for quick insights. 

     

    Importing, managing, and shipping orders is an arduous process that requires tech power to reign in and refine. ShipStation is just the tool to cover BigCommerce users.  

     

    With ShipStation, eCommerce merchants can import orders from all selling channels into a single platform, manage them with custom automation, and ship through all the best carriers. The platform also makes returns easy, allows for next-level branding and marketing, and offers first-class user support. 

     

    With ShipStation, you can say "goodbye" to copying and pasting. Seamlessly sync your orders from BigCommerce and all your selling channels into a single platform to automate nearly every step of your shipping process. Save time and money with the fastest, easiest way to get products to your customers and provide an exceptional post-purchase experience and a little peace of mind with your own branded tracking page. 

    - Adam Foster, Content Marketing Director at ShipStation

    Shogun  5. Shogun

    Successful eCommerce stores need sites that visually stun and captivate audiences. Shogun enables BigCommerce users to create this through their powerful page builder and content management system. 

     

    BigCommerce users can build landing pages, blog pages, product pages, and more with the intuitive Shogun drag and drop page builder. These pages are then easily optimized to perform through AB testing, and once in use, the system also provides analytics and marketing features to schedule campaigns, and measure performance.

     

    Bigcommerce merchants have discovered that the simplicity of using our page builder not only gives them control over their storefront, but it's also helping them save on costs by greatly reducing development hours and time to market. It's empowering their marketing teams to maintain and implement site changes quickly without having to submit engineering tickets.

    - Phill Moorman, Director of Marketing, Shogun

     

    Understanding why your visitors don't convert is the most valuable tool to enable you to make changes to your business to ensure that they do. Lucky Orange helps you to do this. 

     

    Lucky Orange eliminates guesswork and gives merchants clear insight into how to optimize their site for more sales. They do this by tagging and tracking visitor behavior in all areas of the site's usability with Sales Chat, Recordings, Form Analytics, Dynamic Heatmaps, Polls, and more.

     

    “BigCommerce merchants use our software every day to find ways to turn more visitors into customers. The most important thing we want merchants to understand is that getting more people to “add to cart” isn’t guesswork. You don’t have to rely on assumptions to find the problems people are running into on your website when you can watch a session replay of exactly where a person clicked and scrolled on your site or look at form analytics to see where most people are getting stuck and abandoning your website.”

    - Danny Wajcman, Chief Operating Officer, Lucky Orange

     

    Order and inventory management, when done well, significantly increases business performance. While it's the universal goal of merchants to boost business performance, managing orders and inventory can require a helping hand. 

     

    Integrated with BigCommerce, Pulse Commerce helps merchants with real-time visibility and control of their inventory, orders, and customers across all sales channels – i.e., in-store, eCommerce website, and marketplaces.  With a 360-degree view of each customer order and interaction history, modifications are easy, and issues resolved quickly. 

     

    Dealing with customers abroad can prove challenging, but there are tools like Zonos Checkout to simplify the process for merchants and make international transactions and interactions much more streamlined. 

     

    The Zonos BigCommerce integration makes cross border transactions simple with landed cost, localization, and compliance to enhance the buying experience for international customers. The Zonos app covers duties and taxes, currency conversion, payment solutions, and fraud coverage. 

     

     

    Without backups, an unexpected crash or hack can bring down your entire eCommerce business. Without a backup, there is nothing to bring back, and a new build may be required. To ensure that never happens to your store, you can leverage Rewind Backups.  

     

    Rewind Backups on BigCommerce completes daily, automated backups to keep essential data stored, secure, and retrievable should something unexpected occur. It also allows you to quickly undo unwanted changes in just a few clicks, eliminating the need for CSV exports and saving significantly on downtime. 

     

    Rewind® protects the data that runs your eCommerce business. BigCommerce backs up its platform – not your store. This means product catalogs, pages, themes, and more can be lost should something go wrong. Human error, malicious attacks, or third-party apps can all compromise or accidentally delete your data. And recreating a store can take hours, even days. With Rewind, you can quickly undo unwanted changes and never worry about making an irreversible mistake again.

    - Ryan Gibson, Content & Comms Manager at Rewind.io

     

    AfterShip 10. AfterShip

    In need of shipment tracking and delivery updates software? Look no further than the Aftership app for BigCommerce users, which supports all your carriers, including UPS, FedEx, USPS, DHL, and 400 more.

     

    The free Aftership app allows BigCommerce users to track all of their shipments in one place while giving their customers a powerful delivery experience where they can check the delivery status, and submit requests in just a few clicks. Tracking pages can also be customized with the merchant's logo, store URL, and imagery to boost brand recognition.

     

     

    Printful.com 11. Printful

    Want to sell custom-designed apparel and other goods but don't want to hoard stock? Printful, through BigCommerce, is a print-on-demand dropshipping app that allows merchants to print branded products, without needing ever to have them in-house. 

     

    Printful helps with free design templates, warehousing, order fulfillment, and discounted samples so that merchants can try products before they sell them, as well as 24/7 customer support. 

     

     

    Kudobuzz 12. Kudobuzz

    Positive product and brand reviews have the power to boost conversions and compel new customers to buy. It makes sense, then, to use them on your eCommerce site, wherever possible to influence your customer to act. 

     

    Kudobuzz makes this process easy. Through the Kudobuzz app, BigCommerce users can collect reviews from social channels like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and more, to then show them on the eCommerce site via clean, customizable widgets. Reviews from other apps are easy to import into Kudobuzz for future use.

     

    Pixlee 13. Pixlee

    Customer content is a powerful tool to harness in the exercise of branding. Just as customers trust the reviews of their peers, they also trust the social pictures of their peers using products that they are considering. 

     

    Pixlee helps BigCommerce users to connect with and leverage customer content to deliver personalized content in any marketing channel. The platform allows merchants to connect with their customers, collect customer-created content identified through tagging or hashtags, gain permission, and publish, all from one place. 

     

    Skubana 14. Skubana

    Skubana is a distributed order management platform that facilitates fulfillment, inventory, and business intelligence for brands operating across multiple channels. 

     

    Through BigCommerce, Skubana synchronizes data from sales channels, warehouses, 3PLs, POS systems, and wherever else it can be found, so that merchants can focus on what matters: customer experience. With Skubana, merchants can sell direct-to-everywhere, automate operational responsibilities, and transform multi-channel complexity into singular clarity.

     

    LiveChat 15. LiveChat

    Instant customer service chat is powerful to resolve questions and help customers move through to make purchases. The LiveChat chat widget for BigCommerce makes it incredibly easy to set this up and go live. 

     

    LiveChat allows brands to communicate with shoppers while they browse, answering all incoming sales and support questions, and even making product recommendations in the live chat widget. The app comes with a pre-installed chat dashboard and lets merchants monitor the results of the chat activities, right in the BigCommerce dashboard.

     

    Affirm 16. Affirm

    Alternative payment solutions are becoming increasingly more common across the world, and of them, buy now, pay later (BNPL) is one of the most widely adopted by both customers and merchants. 

     

    Affirm is one such app that integrates with BigCommerce and allows shoppers to pay their goods off over time, giving merchants the ability to secure more sales, while offering more agile solutions to their customers. The Affirm app shows customers what their payments could look like based on their shopping cart price. And on the backend, it provides merchants with insights into their customer's journey and preferences.

     

    Final Words

    While there's no magic bullet that can solve all your retail problems, the apps mentioned in the post can certainly help you take your business to the next level. Whether you have a brick-and-mortar store, an eCommerce site, or both, you can use the solutions mentioned above to streamline your operations, increase customer loyalty, and boost your bottom line 

    13 Shopify Apps to Take Your Retail Store to the Next Level

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    Shopify has a growing marketplace of apps and solutions that can boost your business' revenue and reach. Read about our top picks for 2020 and beyond.

    Shopify is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms, allowing merchants to create an online store in just a few steps. In addition to giving eCommerce and brick-and-mortar store owners all the tools they need to build, launch and grow their business, Shopify also has a growing marketplace of apps and solutions that can extend the capabilities of the platform. With the developments of Coronavirus (COVID-19), now is the perfect time to be analyzing which apps will help you to master the management of an omnichannel store.

     

    To date, the Shopify’s app store offers upward of 2,400 apps to its users, and on average, 33,000 are downloaded each month. 

     

    But not all apps are created equally, and with 2,000+ to browse, it can be challenging to find which app is going to get the best results for your business. 

     

    So, we've saved you the hassle of browsing thousands of solutions and identified the 13 best Shopify apps to get you through marketing, analytics, accounting, staffing, merchandising, and much more. 

     

    When it comes to loyalty marketing and automation for your Shopify store, look no further than Marsello

     

    Our app equips you with powerful tools that can help you run delightful marketing campaigns across physical and digital channels. Want to set up a loyalty program that seamlessly works online and offline? We got you covered. Need to send targeted messages via email and SMS? You can do that too! 

     

    Marsello also puts the power of AI at your fingertips. The platform uses customer segmentation to organise and track customers based on their shopping behavior (i.e., purchase history, recent interactions, etc.), helping you to run the right campaigns at the right time.

     

     

    eCommerce support is critical to keeping customers on your site, engaged with your brand, and moving through to purchase. Kiri assists with just this through the use of artificial intelligence.  

     

    Kiri allows store owners with an eCommerce site to increase their profits and customer satisfaction with automatic replies, intelligent sorting, and assessing the customer value and risk, so support staff know which conversations to prioritize. 

     

     

    Wishlists enable customers to identify and store items they like. Smart Wishlist helps merchants to make this process as smooth as possible, even before customers have registered or logged into your site. 

     

    Smart Wishlist is a simple tool that gives customers the ability to add to their wishlist in just one click, no sign-in needed, and no coding required from merchants.

     

     

    Tagalys logo

    4. Tagalys

    The Tagalys Personalized Recommendations app for Shopify allows you to tailor the product categories and recommendations shown on your website, based on the interest of the user as well as what’s trending. 

     

    Tagalys lets you create data-driven product listings and recommendations, so your website displays products that shoppers are most likely to buy. Product recommendations on your online store, in turn, keeps customers on your site and helps to increase conversions and revenue.

     

     

    Easyship logo 5. Easyship

    Shipping is a crucial piece of the eCommerce business puzzle, and finding the right shipping solution can help businesses to save drastically – both their time and money. 

     

    The Easyship app for Shopify gives merchants access to low shipping costs all over the world. With more economical shipping costs offered to customers, the barrier of freight is removed, paving the way to increased conversions and more repeat purchases, not to mention cost savings for both sides.  

     

    SEO Booster logo
     

    6. SEO Booster

    Being seen online is the primary battle in building a customer base. To be seen, your eCommerce site needs to be search engine optimized and to be optimized, you either need an in-house team, or you need systems working to support you. 

     

    SEO Booster by Secomapp helps eCommerce sites to boost their SEO with no prior SEO skills required. With a number of automatic functions, tools, and insight features, the SEO Booster app helps your site to set up SEO like a pro. 

     

     

    Setup Optizen logo

    7. SEO App ‑ Setup Optizen

    We've said it already: SEO is critical to getting seen online. But, thankfully, there are many ways that eCommerce businesses can improve their SEO, and SEO App - Setup Optizen is one handy app to help you do just that. 

     

    SEO App ‑ Setup Optizen by EcomXSEO allows merchants to add content below product grids on collection pages, which boosts the relevance of the page, making it more SEO friendly and thus better ranking. With the SEO App ‑ Setup Optizen app for Shopify, you can include more internal links and heading tags, bringing validity to improve product page rankings. 

     

     

    Bulk Products logo

    10. Bulk Products Editor

    Editing product information in bulk can be a nightmare, no matter whether it's tens of items or thousands. To counter this, SpurIT developed Bulk Products Editor for Shopify users to streamline the process and make it possible to edit in bulk from one page. 

     

    Through the app, merchants can edit product and variant details in bulk, with just a couple clicks, all from the same page. This could be bulk tags, vendor details, product titles and descriptions, SEO information, or bulk price changes. 

     

     

    Staffy logo 9. Staffy

    With smoother staff management, retail store owners and managers can focus less on admin and focus more on important work – such as growing your online and offline sales, keeping your customers happy, and strategizing where to take your business. 

     

    To that end, Staffy is a Shopify app that helps you stay on top of employee management, scheduling, and payroll. With quick and easy shift scheduling, salary calculation systems, payment integrations, and team communication tools, Staffy is an all-rounder system for sites managing staff. 

     

    Staffy is a platform that is made to ensure teamwork productivity and payroll in Shopify. It's designed for merchants that rely on remote teams, physical employees, and/or POS store retail employees. Staffy's time tracking capabilities ensure that employees are working during business hours, no matter if they're at home, or at your fulfillment center.  Staffy also comes with in-depth integrations to provide key features and insights such as custom made reports, one-click payroll, project management tools and more - all while being fully integrated with your Shopify system. 

    - Harel Ishay, CEO at Staffy

     

     

    Matcha logo10. Matcha

     

    They say content is king, but unfortunately, it can also be tough to measure, and many eCommerce businesses have historically struggled to learn what content is converting. 

     

    With Matcha for Shopify, merchants can see exactly what content their customers respond to and what impact this content has on their revenue. With these insights, Matcha also assists merchants in creating content strategies with conversion, not just engagement, in mind.  

     

     

    PriceWhiz logo

    11. PriceWhiz

    Applying changes to products can have a significant impact on how they sell, and this can be particularly difficult to track. PriceWhiz gives Shopify merchants an app to easily measure these changes by setting goals that measure how long it takes to sell an item against how long you want it to take to sell.

     

    With better measurement, eCommerce owners can make smarter decisions through experimentation, rather than guesswork, with a full report on the number of orders from each product line within the goal time. 

     

     

     

     

    Analytics tools are what makes the Internet go round and allows eCommerce businesses to get ahead of their competitors. For Shopify sites, Conversific ‑ Store Analytics is the analytics tool of choice, bringing up actionable analytics and reports so that merchants can make sense of and harness their data.

    With no need to develop technical skills, merchants can optimize for traffic and conversion, access benchmarking and insights tools, and master Google Analytics to boost their online sales.

     

    Simprosys Product Questions and Answers Logo

    13. Product Questions and Answers 

    The modern consumer is a research savvy, internet literate individual with a penchant for seeking answers to hunt down the best deal. Answering questions all day, however, is time-consuming for merchants or customer service teams; hence Product Questions and Answers become so valuable. 

    With this free app on Shopify, eCommerce site owners can create product-specific FAQ sections on various product pages. Not only does this answer consumer questions, but it also helps with SEO and product questions and answers.

     

    The biggest benefit [of Product Questions and Answers ] is it helps merchants maintain the FAQ page for each product on their respective product pages. Plus, questions and answers are rendered via In Page HTML and via JS rendering. This helps Search Engines read the content of the pages more efficiently.

    - Amit P Jivani, CEO at Simprosys InfoMedia 

     

    Bringing it all together

    Retail success requires you have a strong presence on both physical and digital channels. If you’re a brick-and-mortar store looking to go online, then installing some of these apps from the get-go will help you kick off on the right foot. Already have an online store? These apps will optimize it further so you can take it to new heights! 

    Communicating about Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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    Explore examples of retailers communicating with their customers, then discover the tools you need to communicate pandemic-related changes with customers.

    Communicating about Coronavirus (COVID-19)

    Coronavirus (COVID-19) is now a global pandemic, and with the effect this is having on retail, communication with your customers is essential! Lightspeed notes that you, as the retailer, is to adjust how you’re trading (we’ll get into this a little more down the line). But how do you let your customers know you’re making these adjustments? How do you keep your customers up-to-date while still helping them to feel comfortable and confident to shop with you safely?

     

    In this blog, we draw on examples from three retailers to help you craft your own COVID-19 communication strategy. 

     

    Be specific:

    AllBirds communicate about Covid-19 on Instagram

    Now is the time to give your customers as much information as you possibly can. AllBirds do a great job of this through their social media channels. In the following example, pulled from their Instagram account, AllBirds share their empathy, understanding, and, most importantly, critical details about their operations. 

     

    Take note of the second paragraph in which they state, “Our corporate staff are now working from home, and our stores in the US and Europe will be closed from March 15th through the 27th”. They then go the extra mile to support their staff and reassure their customers that by continuing to shop with AllBirds, they support an ethical and socially conscious brand: “All employees will get full pay and benefits during this time.

     

    Following their operation updates, AllBirds also add that as the details surrounding Coronavirus develop, so may their plans. They acknowledge the importance of communication and promise to stay connected through their ‘digital channels’.

     

    AllBirds are careful to keep their customers informed by sharing essential updates while also strengthening their customers’ confidence in AllBird’s company ethics and genuine care for the situation surrounding COVID-19. They do this by updating all of their digital channels, which includes using email marketing. Although tools like social media are a powerful way to reach your customers, it’s also easy for your update to be lost amongst the rest. Make sure you’re sharing your information across all channels, starting with email marketing campaigns

     

    Showcase your brand:

    Iko Iko emails customers about in-store changes during Corona Virus

    Lightspeed retailer, Iko Iko, is known for their eclectic and colorful branding, and they don’t let the chaos of a worldwide pandemic get in the way of their charismatic communications. Take note of the way that they reiterate that they will be taking extra measures to sanitize their brick-and-mortar store’s high-touch zones: “We are taking a few extra hygiene precautions as recommended by the Ministry of Health. The staff are regularly cleaning high contact surfaces including our eftpos machines [point-of-sale card machines] and countertops …”. By assuring their customers that hygiene is at the forefront of their business practice, Iko Iko helps their customers to feel secure in their decision to continue to shop with the store, particularly because the majority of Iko Iko’s sales are generated in-store.

     

    Iko Iko also let their customers know that the coming weeks may be difficult for them as a business, and they reiterate that customer loyalty is the key to their ongoing success. Finally, they end the email with customized links to their social media accounts, clearly giving customers access to more information from Iko Iko as it’s released.

     

    Iko Iko have done a beautiful job of informing their customers while also showcasing their store’s branding. This not only helps their customers to recognize who the email has come from, but also further entices their customers to shop. The additional graphic design is on-brand with colorful patterns and block colors, but still tasteful and respectful. 

     

    Get on top of your COVID-19 communications with campaigns that are easy to create and schedule.

     

    Think outside the box:

    Warby Parker created a landing page and floating banner to communicate about Coronavirus (Covid-19)

    Warby Parker is a household name; known for their standing as a socially conscious eCommerce and physical retailer for prescription glasses, and they’re acutely aware that the products they offer help people each and every day. They want all of their customers, new and loyal, to feel connected and considered. For this reason (among many others), they created an additional landing page on their website dedicated to COVID-19 updates.

     

    They cut right to the chase and let their customers know that they “have decided to temporarily close all of [their] stores through March 27 for the safety of [their] customers, [their] employees, and the general public.

     

    Special mention: notice that they’ve included a floating banner at the top of their website that lets all online customers know that Warby Parker’s brick-and-mortar stores will be closed from March 15 - March 27. Now that’s one way to keep your customers informed! 

     

    Nevertheless, Warby Parker are careful to highlight that they are still open for business with their online stores, accentuating this with bolded text. They offer several stand-out services, including a ‘Home Try-On Program’, which is still in operation. They also list the ways that customers can get in contact with them, should shoppers have any questions, helping customers to feel cared for and catered to. 

     

    Replicating these examples:

    So how can you take the above examples and use the key information for your own COVID-19 communications? 

     

    We’ve whipped up and broken down a quick example that you can build on. Make sure when communicating with customers that you’re careful to include all relevant details affecting your own business and be specific. For example, if your store is solely online, then you don’t need to add a paragraph about increasing the hygiene standards of your store.


    Example introduction:

    Here at [Store Name], We’re committed to the safety of our team and our community – you. 

     

    With the rapidly changing developments of Coronavirus (COVID-19), we believe it’s important that you’re kept up to date, and you feel confident that your health and safety is a priority. As we learn how to contain and manage the spread of COVID-19, we are doing everything in our power to ensure the safety of our customers, employees and extended community. 

     

    You should only include key information that is relevant to your customers. Have you increased your hygiene practices for your brick-and-mortar stores? Are your online stores up and running, but seeing delays in shipping? Whatever you have decided is best for your business, make sure you describe this clearly without going into too much detail. And make sure that any information you add to your communications is accurate. Some examples could include the following.

     

    If your eCommerce store is seeing delays in shipping, you could include something like the following paragraph :

     

    Our online store is operating as usual, although we are expecting delays in shipping. We are working to guarantee the safety of our employees while also fulling your orders as quickly as we can. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us here: 

     

    Hygiene practice adjustments for brick-and-mortar stores (ensure these practices are in place before you notify customers):

     

    We understand the need for extra precautions and have additional sanitization practices in place, with a particular focus on high-touch zones like door handles and card machines. We will ensure that can maintain the highest possible standard of hygiene by keeping hand hygiene stations stocked throughout our store(s).

     

    Finally, let your customers know that any of this information could change at any time as the conditions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic develop. This could include a paragraph similar to the following:

     

    As the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to develop and change, our strategies and practices may too. 

     

    This is an opportunity to add your social media icons and direct customers to follow you if you plan on also updating customers there. And make sure to let your customers know how they can stay up-to-date with your store practices. 

     

    Finally, sign off in a way that includes your store name and add some reassurance – a little positivity can go a long way too! Don’t be afraid to follow Iko iko’s suit and fit your brand into the messaging.

    We appreciate your ongoing support and understanding in these uncertain times. 

     

    Stay safe and healthy,

    [Store Name]. Or [Your name], from [Store Name].

    Adjust how you’re trading

    We touched on this a little in the intro so let's break it down. With many people practicing social-distancing or even self-quarantining, some brick-and-mortar stores may find a reduction in foot-traffic – some countries are even requiring stores to close. Look at this as an opportunity to develop your business and cater to more online customers. If you’re in-store only and you have to shut up shop for a while, now is the perfect time to work on getting an omnichannel operation set up and starting an online store, or giving a little more love to your online store if it already exists. Set up automated email campaigns while you’re at it, and actively retain online customers without any additional manual work.

     

    It’s reported that eCommerce could account for 40% of all retail purchases in the UK as a direct result of COVID-19. Just think about how huge that is on a world-wide scale and get excited to embark on a new frontier of online shopping. Omnichannel stores are not only a strong retention marketing channel, they’re a fantastic way to keep the local economy going without having to be physically present in-store – even some supermarkets offer online shopping! If it’s within your margins, why not offer customers free shipping, even if it’s just locally? This will encourage customers to shop with you. Adding incentives for customers to share your store with their friends (think: discount codes for proven referrals) will help you to acquire new customers. 

     

    Adaptability and resilience is the key; many retailers are revamping their in-store hygiene practices, implementing social-distancing strategies to protect their employees and customers, and putting countless other changes in place to protect their customers and their businesses. Just don’t forget, transparency is your friend. If you’re expecting delays in shipping, add this to your email campaigns and digital channels. If it’s taking a little longer than usual for your new stock to arrive, using tools that allow customers to ‘wishlist’ or save items could be a nice touch too.  

     

    Final words:

    Now is the time to take note of Warby Parker’s example again – do you want to compile this information on a landing page? Perhaps you could instead direct customers to follow you on social media if an additional landing page isn’t quite your speed; or, perhaps now is a great time to try adding SMS campaigns to your toolkit

     

    However you chose to do it, the bottom line is that communicating clearly with your customers is essential. Whether it’s affecting your shipping times, forcing the temporary closure of your brick-and-mortar stores, or just creating added stress, it doesn’t hurt to let your customers know how you’ve been affected and remind them that they are what keeps you trading.

     

    If you’re looking to email your customers to communicate about COVID-19, you can get started with Marsello’s campaigns feature for free. Email marketing is the perfect way to communicate with your customers and set expectations, so when you’re back to trading at full-capacity again, don’t forget to shout it from the rooftops throughout all your communication channels, starting with a one-off email campaign. 

    Mailchimp for Shopify: Getting through the eCommerce break-up of 2019

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    If you’re a Shopify retailer who previously used Mailchimp, you’re probably trying to find an email marketing solution. Learn about your options here.

    You’ve likely heard about the statement released by Shopify. On May 12, 2019, it was announced that Mailchimp would no longer have native integration with Shopify due to poor merchant experience as a direct result of Mailchimp’s refusal to respect Shopify’s Partner Program Agreement.

    If you’re a Shopify eCommerce marketer who uses Mailchimp, you’re probably thinking about what to do now. There are two options: look for an alternative, or use a third party to sync Shopify to Mailchimp. Let’s explore them both:

     

    Looking for a Mailchimp Alternative

    If you had been using Mailchimp to automate emails triggered by customers’ shopping behavior in your Shopify store, the good news is – there are alternatives. When it comes to email automation, some Email Service Providers (ESP) are more powerful than others, some are easier to set up than others, and some have better reporting than others. Here’s a helpful comparison of the leading alternatives.

    If you’ve already gone through the process of setting all this up in Mailchimp, you’re probably dreading having to do it all over again. The good news is, using an app like Marsello, everything is ready to go and defaulted with best-practice email flow settings and triggers, and pre-designed templates. All you have to do is add your business’ logo and turn each email flow on, or you can customize the designs and settings to suit your brand. You can do everything you could do with Mailchimp Automation (and more with easier to set-up product recommendations, Shopify discounts, and segmentation):

    Encourage new customers to shop again. To make a great first impression and bring new customers back to your store again, say thanks with a First-Time Email.

     

     

    Look after your best customers. Automate an email flow that encourages your best customers to keep shopping. If product recommendations in the first email don’t motivate a purchase, automatically follow them up with an exclusive discount just for them.

     

     

    Build loyal relationships on customers’ birthdays. A cheerful ‘Happy Birthday’ message or offer designed to delight your customers will get them shopping again, and help move them to more desirable segments.

     

     

    Win back At Risk customers. Bring back at-risk customers with an automated email flow designed to win them back. If product recommendations in the first email doesn’t motivate a purchase, automatically follow up with a limited-time discount email.

     

     

    Recover abandoned carts. Automate great-looking abandoned cart emails to be sent when your customers don’t complete a purchase and leave items in their cart. Go the extra mile and pull through product images from their cart and a button to take them back to complete their order.

     

     

    Send one-off email campaigns. Update your customers with on-brand, creative, and easily built one-off email campaigns. Send and schedule newsletters, promotions, or new stock emails to your entire database or to a certain customer segment with just a few clicks.

     

    Marsello-one-off-email-campaigns.png

     

    So how do you make the switch? All you need to do is install Marsello on the Shopify App store with a 14-day free trial (no payment details required). Marsello has been built for Shopify, so all of your customers will automatically sync. Still have questions about migrating from Mailchimp? We’ve put together a helpful page of FAQs on making the switch.

    Still can’t decide what to do? Ask our marketing experts for help.

    SEO Series Part 3: Common Mistakes SEO Mistakes for Retailers to Know

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    Solve common SEO mistakes before ever even making them with Part 3 of our SEO mini-series.

    In this article, we’ll be talking about the common mistakes online retailers make when optimizing their websites for search. Many eCommerce retailers make errors during their quest to improve their SEO without realizing it. They end up sabotaging their own efforts in small ways; small errors can build up over time to become a major barrier to their top-of-page-one aspirations.

    How to improve your retail store SEO ranking

    Fortunately, fixing these isn’t as complex as you might think; a few quick adjustments will have you on the way to a higher ranking in no time.

    Read the points below and see if you’re making these mistakes on your website:

     

    Mistake 1: Not optimizing your product URLs

    URLs might seem like a minor consideration, but they are extremely relevant to eCommerce SEO; this is because they play a significant role in how Google indexes each page of your site.

    The URLs of your product pages should help search engines to work out how the different parts of your site relate to each other. This is especially important for your broader product categories (e.g. ‘dresses’). You want these categories to rank well because this is how your potential customers can access your catalog from the search engine results page (SERP).

    Even the biggest eCommerce sites still make persistent errors in this area. See below this link from the clothing giant H&M:

     

    H&M product page url

     

    Would you be able to tell what the item was by looking at this URL? No chance. It contains no keywords, so it’s only by clicking that you’d know the item is a V-neck dress. This is exactly the kind of link you want to avoid; it looks messy and chaotic, so no one is likely to click on it.

    A messy URL also makes your site more difficult to navigate. If your customers can’t retrace their steps back to other parts of your site by reading your URLs, there’s a good chance that Google will struggle as well.

    What to do instead: focus on website hierarchy

    Your links should be offering a solid road map of your site. An optimized link would follow this structure:

    https://example.com/category/sub-category/product

    The pet care retailer Bobbie Dogs has a great URL structure – their URLs have a logical flow from the broader elements of the website (e.g., homepage, category pages, etc.) to the more specific parts (e.g., the product in question).

    As such, both Google and shoppers alike will find it easier to understand what the page is all about. Check out their URL below and note the logical mapping of data within the URL; it’s easy to follow, understand and remember.

    Bobbie dogs url
     
     

    Mistake 2: Keyword stuffing your product titles and descriptions

    In SEO, keywords make the world go round, so it’s a smart idea to incorporate them into your web copy. And since product descriptions make up a sizeable chunk of your on-site content, it makes sense for you to optimize them with the right search terms.

    Product descriptions help Google determine the relevance of your pages in response to a search query, so it’s vital that they show up on the search engine’s radar.

    But trying to write for Google instead of your customer through keyword stuffing will make your copy look stilted and awkward. Plus, the practice can really hurt your rankings because the clunky sentences make it look like you aren’t trying to be informative.

    Here is a prime example from a listing on Etsy:

     

    Keyword stuffing in an Etsy store product listing

     

    This description is very wordy and dense, using the keyword ‘top’ multiple times. It also uses far more descriptors than necessary, making it more likely to confuse customers than inform them.

    What to do instead: Sprinkle in keywords and don’t overdo it

    Use your keywords moderately and only in places where it’s natural to do so. Try putting yourself in the position of your customer when you read your copy. Is it relevant, useful and compelling? If so, that’s what will make them want to stick around – and Google, in turn, will reward your website for it.

    Check out this example from Triangl, a highly successful Australian swimsuit brand. In the following product page, you’ll notice that Triangle lightly sprinkles relevant keywords (e.g., ‘bikini’) throughout the content without going overboard.

    Triangls product listings are concise, clear, and helps to sell their products

    Mistake 3: Not having an internal linking strategy for your product pages

    What often gets overlooked in discussions about algorithms is that site ranking really boils down to usability.

    Translation: your site architecture needs to be on-point, and this is judged in part by how easy your site is to navigate. The purpose of an eCommerce site is to have customers buy products, so you need to gear your link structure to this end. There’s no point in only having navigational links to your site’s ‘about us’ and ‘contact’ pages. This won’t take your customers anywhere near the shopping cart! If your customer is looking for something specific, the links they come across in their searching need to be relevant and useful.

    What to do instead: Improve your site’s usability with the right internal links

    Internal linking really boosts your site usability. If you link between ‘similar’ product pages, whether they be companion products or products with similar features, this massively improves the user experience of your site. Keeping your customers browsing between products for longer periods sends positive ranking signals to Google, which helps you in the SEO department.

    Take this example from women's fashion store, Osmose:

     

    Osmose's product recommendations listed below their product pages

    On this page, Osmose has included a plug-in that recommends similar products to customers as they browse This aids a customer’s shopping experience because they’re able to find relevant products much easier.

     

    Mistake 4: Not optimizing your site for mobile

    Having a site that isn’t mobile-optimized may not be killing your SEO rankings just yet, but in July 2019, Google will begin using a ‘mobile-first’ indexing system – this means that your site will get judged according to its mobile-friendliness. Google’s new system replaces a previous update in 2015, which used a mix of mobile and desktop signals to dictate search results.

    So even though it currently makes no difference if the majority of your traffic still comes from ‘desktop-based’ searching, Google has basically confirmed that mobile is king. Moral of the story? If your site isn’t mobile-optimized, your ranking could be taking a hit in a few months’ time.

     

    What to do instead: Implement responsive web design

    Rather than having your mobile customers struggle with a shrunken version of your desktop site, you should install a responsive layout. Responsive Web Design (RWD) is the approach recommended by Google because it doesn’t create separate URLs for desktop and mobile, which can get confused as duplicate content (a real SEO headache). RWD instead adjusts to the layout needed for each user, whether it be mobile, tablet, or desktop.

    Google’s free mobile-friendly test allows you to analyze each page of your website by entering the URL, providing feedback on any issues.

    And here’s the good news: some of the best eCommerce platforms, including Shopify and BigCommerce, now provide responsive themes. So, it’s worth checking if you need to update to the latest version, or else switch to a custom theme.

    Mistake 5: Publishing low-quality content


    It’s easy to fall into the trap of ‘content for content’s sake’ to improve your ranking, particularly when it comes to your blog.

    Many SEO experts agree that having a blog is an important part of SEO strategy because they’re a great tool for adding more indexed pages to your site. Google’s ‘crawlers’ treat pages as individual search results that show up if they match a query. The more indexed pages you have, the more queries that your brand will get associated with. So, it’s tempting to churn out tons of short, hastily-written content each week, simply to get your indexed page count higher.

    But Google is well-aware that this strategy is used to ‘trick’ its algorithm, and the search engine penalizes websites with a high number of pages ‘thin’ content.

    What to do instead: Choose quality over quantity

    Switch to a strategy that prioritizes high-value content that engages, informs, and entertains your readers.

    In terms of the content itself, your focus needs to be less about the semantics of SEO. Being perfectly optimized for keywords isn’t what makes a blog interesting! So, what does? Content that is well-researched and contains insights that people can use or learn from.

    Check out the skincare specialist, Sigi Skin. Many of their posts are highly actionable and contain pointers that their customers can do on their own.

     

    Sigi Skin Blog
     

    Mistake 6: Not optimizing your images for SEO

    There are a number of key errors that eCommerce merchants make when it comes to images. They include:

    • Using larger-than-necessary images - It's a known fact that page speed is a ranking factor for Google. Using large images increase a page's load time, which in turn hurts your rankings.

    • Not having the right image titles and tags - Search engines crawl image file names and alt text to figure out what image is about, so by failing to optimize these components, you're missing out on giving Google valuable information about your images.

    • Using images to replace text - Some merchants use images that contain words, to avoid dealing with text formatting issues. While this may seem like a smart shortcut, it does nothing for SEO. Again, this practice prevents you from fully communicating with search engines, thereby hurting your rankings in the process.

    What to do instead: Always consider SEO when using images

    Optimize your image file names and alt-tags by using descriptive words. Let's say you're posting an image of a red party dress. Instead of naming it "IMG_0321111.jpg" use the file name "red-scoop-neck-dress.jpg".

    The same thing goes for your alt text. According to BigCommerce, in addition to serving as "an alternative when websites can't render the image for some reason," alt text "describes the image to search engines so they can understand them."

    The best thing you can do to optimize your alt text is to sprinkle in keywords that clearly communicate what the image is. Just make sure not to overdo it by keyword stuffing.

    As for your image sizes, BigCommerce recommends keeping your images under 70KB. Also opt for JPEG instead of PNG or GIF, because it “allows higher quality with a smaller file size.”

    Finally, avoid using images as a replacement for text. Remember, search engines determine your rankings primarily by crawling the text on your website, so make sure you have enough word-based content on there to give Google a clear idea of what each page is about.

     

    Creating a webpage as an image

     

    Final words


    SEO can feel like a real minefield for both new and experienced eCommerce merchants. Ultimately, though, the most important thing to keep in mind is that both you and Google have the same goal; to give your customer the best user experience possible. Focus on that and you’ll be on your way to better SEO rankings.

    Have you seen the rest of the SEO Series? Check out Part One and Two in the links below.

     

    Take me to part 1Take me to part 2

    SEO Series Part 2: Making Search Engine Optimization More Affordable

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    Part 2 of our SEO series gives you actionable tips on getting started with eCommerce SEO while taking the DIY route!

    Marsello's SEO blog series Part 2

    Welcome to the second instalment of Marsello’s eCommerce SEO series. In our previous article, we talked about the basics of Search Engine Optimization and the initial steps you should take to kick off your efforts.

     

    This week, we’ll be discussing the costs of Search Engine Optimization and the things you can do to get more bang for your buck.

     

    A 2018 study by Ahrefs found that the most popular hourly rate for SEO professionals ranges from $101-150 per hour. For those that charge monthly retainer fees, the range of $500-$1,000 per month was the most popular pricing tier.

     

    And while those figures aren’t surprising, they’re far from being chump change, especially if you’re a small business.

     

    So what does an SMB to do?

     

    While your exact steps will depend on how much SEO work you need, we’ve put together some expert-backed pointers on how you can save money on search engine optimization costs.

    Let’s have a look.

     

    Educate yourself

    If you have some time on your hands and don’t have the budget to pay someone $100+ an hour for SEO services, then going the do-it-yourself (aka DIY) route could be a good way to go. Just remember, though, that your results from your DIY efforts will only be as good as your SEO knowledge.

     

    That’s why if you’re not well-versed in Search Engine Optimization, the first thing you should do is educate yourself.

     

    “There are so many resources available online now to do your own SEO, even for online merchants,” says Ben Hanzel, chief editor at BestCompany.com

     

    He adds that eCommerce-centric SEO is different from the average website, which is why he recommends consuming SEO resources specifically for eCommerce merchants.

     

    Alex Ratynski of Make Bank Blogging echoes this advice. “In my years of experience as a professional SEO, I have worked with a number of brands and businesses big and small. For those smaller businesses in eCommerce, I think a lot can be done by just simply educating themselves beforehand. This will help whether they work with a consultant or not.”

     

    To start with, Alex suggests the comprehensive eCommerce SEO guides from Ahrefs, Backlinko, and Neil Patel. Guides such as these give a good grounding for the information eCommerce retailers need when getting started with SEO and it’s a great idea to get this base-understanding as early as possible.

     

    Hire a consultant who can offer advice

    If you have funds to spare, Hanzel recommends using it on a consultant. But rather than paying an SEO specialist to work on your site for 20+ hours a month for a year, you can choose to spend a fraction of the cost by consulting with an expert who can tell you what to do.

     

    “It may be worth getting an hour consultation, to know where to start,” he says. “Some SEO companies even offer this for free, as long as you're willing to sit through a sales pitch at the end of it.”

     

    Another option is to hire someone as an ’overseer’ rather than a full-fledged service provider. According to Ratynski, one thing you could do is bring in someone "for a few hours every few months to do full audits, give clear actionable improvements, reasons for those, and then give you the option to do it yourself.”

     

    With that said, if you decide to hire a consultant or advisor, make it a point to take action on their recommendations. “SEO does take time, so make sure you're putting in the effort and time to fully dedicate yourself to it, and you'll reap the benefits for years,” says Hanzel.

     

    To reiterate Hanzel’s point, SEO can take months even to seem to make a difference, and even then it’s not static. You will need to update your store, information, and content frequently to be sure that it’s relevant. The basic idea is that Google and other search engines see your site, process that information as valuable to the search requests of your potential customers, and prioritizes your site in the search results. The higher your store appears in that list; the more likely a customer is to click on it and convert to purchasing with you. SEO is a long game, but it’s undeniably important.

     

    Marketing professional uses diary and computer to make SEO plan.

    Go the DIY route

    Once you have the SEO info you need (either by reading up on Search Engine Optimization or consulting with an expert), it’s time to take action on what you’ve learned. The specifics will vary, depending on your site, but generally speaking, the success of your SEO efforts will hinge on how well you do the following:

    • Keyword research

    • Content creation

    • Link building

    Let’s look at each of these components in more detail.

     

    Keyword research

    As we mentioned in our previous post, keyword research is the cornerstone of any Search Engine Optimization strategy. Before getting to the ‘optimization’ part of SEO, you first need to identify the keywords that your customers are searching for.

    As we mentioned previously, the best keywords are the ones with a high search volume (because it means many people are searching for it) but with a competition level low enough for you to compete with.

    But there's another key component that makes a search term worth targeting, and that's intent. When doing your research, you need to discern whether or not a keyword is backed by a consumer's intent to buy.

    For example, a person searching for keywords like ‘where to buy a coffee mug’ or ‘travel porcelain mugs’ likely has a stronger buying intent than someone who's looking for information on just ‘coffee’ or  ‘how to clean a coffee mug.’

    When identifying keywords to use in your copy, ask yourself: "does this search term reflect an intent to buy?". If the answer is no, then it's not a good keyword to target.

     

    How to find keyword ideas

    There’s no shortage of SEO tools dedicated to keyword research. Some of the industry’s favorites include Ahrefs, SEMRush, and Mangools, though we should note that these come with a subscription fee.

     

    And since this guide is for merchants looking to save on SEO costs, we’ll be focusing on the free tools you can use to find keywords.

     

    Google Keyword Planner

    Google’s Keyword Planner is a great starting point for search term ideas. Simply enter keywords related to your product, and the tool will make numerous suggestions based on what others are searching for. Google will also display a search volume and competition level for each keyword.

    For instance, when you enter the word ‘mug’ into Google’s Keyword Planner, it’ll serve up nearly a thousand relevant ‘mug’ related keywords you can sift through.

     

    Google Ads keyword planner

     

    Ubersuggest

     

    Online marketing guru Neil Patel created a nifty tool called ‘Ubersuggest’, which can be an excellent source for ideas. Much like Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest displays search volume estimates and competition info. Even better, Ubersuggest offers keyword difficulty insights that can estimate your chances of ranking in the top 20 search results.

     

    Ubersuggest keyword search volume

     

    Amazon

     

    Another easy way to surface the right keywords is to use Amazon. Just start typing your keyword into the search box and take note of what the autocomplete feature will display.

    What’s great about this method is that since Amazon is already a shopping site, most (if not all of the keywords) it suggests would be high-intent search terms.

     

    Amazon search suggestions

     

    Google

     

    Google (the search engine) also has a great autocomplete feature that you can mine for keyword ideas. Again, just type in a search term and see what the tool suggests.

     

    Google search suggestions

     

    Do note that that with the last two suggestions (i.e., Amazon and Google) you won’t get any data on search volume and competition. That’s why if you’re using these sites for keyword ideas, you’ll need to take note of the keywords you want to target and enter them into a tool (like Google Keyword Planner) that shows you how many people are searching for the term and what the competition looks like.  

     

    Content creation

    Once you've figured out the best keywords to target, start incorporating them in your copy. There are a number of key places to do this, including your title tags, meta descriptions, headers and subheads, and product and category descriptions.

     

    A great example of a website that does all of the above is Zazzle. Their website is one of the top search results for ‘funny mugs’ and for good reason. As you’ll see below, all the key areas of Zazzle’s category and product pages are optimized for search.

     

    Title tags – In addition to telling search engines what the title of a page is, the title tag is also text that shows up on search results, so it's also one of the first pieces of information that potential visitors see. In eCommerce, the best places on which to optimize your title tags are your category pages and product pages.

     

    Meta description – As we mentioned in our previous post, meta descriptions don’t directly affect your rankings. However, they still show up in search results, so they can influence a searcher’s decision to click through your site. For this reason, it’s important that your meta description still contains relevant keywords

     

    Zazzle meta description

     
    Headers and subheaders – Headers and subheaders can have a lot of SEO value, as Google factors them in when determining if a page is relevant to a particular search term. From user's perspective, headers can act as signposts that help visitors easily skim your content or jump to the section that's relevant to them. In the world of ecommerce, your headers usually come in the form of your product titles and subtitles, so make sure they're optimized for search.
     
    Creating webpage headers and subheaders

     

    Product or category descriptions – Your product and category descriptions essentially tell customers and search engines what your merchandise is all about. In addition to peppering in relevant keywords, you want to make sure your descriptions are unique. Google doesn’t like duplicate content, so using the product descriptions of your manufacturers – or worse – copying another website’s description, will lead to poor rankings.

     

    Creating SEO-optimized product titles

     

    Link building

    After you’ve optimized your content for SEO, the next step is to build links for your site. While no one knows for sure how Google's algorithm works, pretty much everyone agrees that links are a critical ranking factor.

     

    According to Search Engine Journal, “Backlinks remain an important Google ranking factor, but over the years, Google has learned to weed out the bad links from the good. More links will still result in a higher score, but only if they’re from a number of diverse and authoritative domains.”

    In short, the more high-quality links pointing to your site, the better your chances of ranking.

    So, how do you build those precious backlinks? Consider the following ideas:

     

    Get featured on relevant blogs

    Build relationships with bloggers in your niche and see if they can feature you on their site. An effective tactic here is to send them a free sample in exchange for an honest review. You could even assign a promo code or affiliate link that allows bloggers to earn a commission when someone buys your product through their site.

     

    For instance, when Tarashaun Hausner reviewed Daily Harvest on her blog Blender Babes, she included a special promo code that gives readers 3 free cups when they sign up. Her post also contains affiliate links, so she can earn revenue for each signup.

     

    Daily Harvest used influencer marketing for SEO

     

    Do press outreach

    Connecting with members of the press is another great way to obtain backlinks. Find journalists who are writing a story relevant to your industry and volunteer yourself as a source for their article.

     

    You can easily do this using a tool called HARO. Short for “Help a Reporter Out,” HARO is a service that lets journalists submit queries asking for expert input for their articles. When you subscribe to their service, HARO sends you daily queries from journalists, which you can then respond to. If the journalist likes your input, they’ll include it in their article and will often link back to your website.

     

    Here’s an example of what query looks like. The journalist sends in a description of an article that they’re writing along with a request for sources. Members subscribers receive the query in their inbox and can choose to respond if they’re a good fit for the article.

     

    Marketers can use Haro to submit and create research requests

     

    Create share-worthy content

     

    Another way to gain backlinks? Produce link-worthy content. Create a piece of content (e.g., guide, video, blog etc) that’s so engaging that people would naturally want to link to it.

     

    Dollar Shave Club is a master at this strategy. The company regularly creates useful and entertaining content for its website; in addition to helping DSC engage their followers and subscribers, all that content is also helping them gain backlinks.

     

    For example, DSC’s ‘Original Content’ homepage currently has 285 backlinks, many of which are from high-quality sites.

     

    Dollar Shave Club's backlinks

     

    DSC is also doing well with video. The company has produced several hilarious videos about their product, which earned them backlinks from the likes of The Wall Street Journal, Vox, Entrepreneur, and more.

     

    One of their top videos currently has more than 25 million views and over 53,000 backlinks.

    As you can see, effectively gaining backlinks doesn’t just happen. Getting others to link to your site requires active outreach and content creation, so it’s critical to incorporate these tasks into your SEO strategy.

     

    Take advantage of free or affordable tools

    Depending on the SEO tasks that you’re doing, you can save a lot of money by choosing your tools wisely. We’ve already mentioned several free tools above, but here are additional SEO solutions you can use to optimize your website:

     

    Yoast – Yoast is a plugin made for WordPress. The free version enables you to optimize your blog posts through tools like keyword optimization and Google preview. Yoast can also check your content for readability and make on-page recommendations on how to improve.

     

    Keywords Everywhere – This is a free browser plugin for Chrome and Firefox that displays search volume, CPC, and competition data for the keywords that you search on sites like Google, Amazon, YouTube, Answer the Public, and more.

     

    LinkMiner – Another Chrome extension, LinkMiner helps surface broken on any website. Broken links can be harmful for SEO, so this tool makes it easy to find those pesky links so you can fix them.

     

    Can I Rank? – Can I Rank is an AI-powered tool that analyzes your website and gives you insights on what you can do improve? It provides insights like which pages are ranking well (and why) and you'll get suggestions for content ideas, link opportunities, and more.

     

    SERP Preview Tool – Curious about how your website will appear in search results? Portent's SERP Preview Tool can help. Just enter your title tag, meta description, and URL and the tool will generate Google search result preview for you.

     

    The tools mentioned in this guide are just the tip of the iceberg, though. If you’re looking to dive deeper into various SEO tools, we recommend the following resources:

    If you must outsource, know which tasks to do yourself and which to leave to a pro

    If you have a full plate and don’t have the capacity to fully shoulder all things SEO, consider adopting a hybrid approach where you do some tasks yourself while outsourcing others.

     

    How do you determine the right balance? Start by making a list of the SEO tasks that need to be addressed (e.g., link building, creating content, creating a site map, etc.). From there, figure out your strengths and focus your efforts on the things that you’re good at.

     

    As Catherine Giese, SEO associate at Fundera puts it, “SEO encompasses a lot of time-consuming techniques such as keyword research, site structuring, and link building. That's why it's often at least one person's job, if not that of an entire team,” she says.

     

    Giese continues, “take stock of your strengths to determine how to prioritize. For example, if you're an engineer, you may be able to do site structure, but may not be comfortable with doing outreach for link building purposes.”

     

    Follow her advice when you’re mapping out your strategy. Before diving into various SEO tasks, iron out the specific jobs that need to get done, figure out what you can do yourself, and then outsource the rest.

     

    Visual business chart with an agent showing how to interpret marketing metrics.

     

    Be smart about working with agencies and freelancers

    If you decide to outsource your SEO, do your research and make sure you select a reputable agency or freelancer who can optimize your site using ethical and white hat tactics. One of the best ways to go is to ask for referrals from merchants you know that are ranking well on Google. Then once you have a handful of prospects, request for case studies and references so you can see the results they’ve achieved with other businesses.

     

    In terms of working arrangements, we recommend avoiding long-term contracts, as the last thing you want is to be tied down to an agency or freelancer who isn’t a good fit.

     

    As Matt Antonino, Head of Operations at the marketing agency Digital Eagles points out, “many agencies have 12-month contracts but if they don't perform you are stuck with a long-term relationship that costs and has little value.”

     

    Antonino adds that “long contracts don't create an incentive for the agency to continuously help improve your business... thee and six-month deals may make more sense.”

     

    Once you know who you want to work with, be smart about the tasks you assign to the agency or freelancer. You want to make sure you get the most value out of their efforts, so figure out the best use of their time and resources.

     

    “The trick to keeping costs down is to ask yourself if what you want that expert to do is their highest and best use,” says BJ Enoch, VP of Enterprise Accounts for SocialSEO. “If you're looking for someone to do alt image tags across 1,000 products or fix internal broken links, is that something you really need to pay an expert, or could you be doing it yourself?”

     

    Enoch adds that you can lower your costs even more by taking care of content yourself.

     

    “Content is one of the most labor intensive and expensive parts of an SEO strategy (and one of the most important). There are some content elements that should have some expert insight, but making sure you've got unique product descriptions and resolving duplicate content on your own can save a surprising amount of money with a consultant or expert.”

     

    SEO doesn't have to be expensive

    While search engine optimization requires an investment (in both time and money), you can lower your costs significantly by being smart about the tasks you take on and the SEO experts that you hire.

     

    With the right SEO education, some patience, and competent experts on your side, it’s totally possible to take your SEO game to the next level.


    Have you seen the rest of the SEO Series? Check out Part One and Part Three in the links below

     

     

    Take me to part 1Take me to part 3

    5 Ways to Measure Retail Customer Lifetime Value

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    How much are each of your customers worth to you and how much should you invest in each of them? Learn how to calculate your customers' lifetime value.

    The saying “You have to spend to make money,” is quite true in the world of retail. As a store owner, you often have to invest in marketing and advertising to acquire new customers and generate revenue. The question is, exactly how much should you spend on customer acquisition to ensure that your efforts are worth it?

    To answer that, you need to calculate your Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).

    Sometimes referred to as Lifetime Value (LTV), this metric is the amount of revenue or profit that your business stands to generate from each customer during their lifetime. So, if your CLV is $50, then that tells you that it shouldn't cost more than $50 to acquire each new customer.

    There are a number of formulas for computing CLV, and the right method will depend on your business model, customer behavior, and available data, among other things.

    To help you figure out the right CLV calculation method for your business, we’ve put together some of the most common CLV methods used by eCommerce merchants. Check them out and see which one is the best fit for your business.

     

    Download the free CLV Calculator
    Use Marsello's free calculator to quickly estimate your average CLV.

     

     

    1. Use the simple CLV formula.


    The no-frills way to compute your CLV is to subtract the cost to acquire and serve customers from the revenue that you’ve earned from them. To do this, use the formula:

     

    LTV = Lifetime Customer Revenue – Lifetime Customer Costs

     

    So, if you earned $200 from a customer over their lifetime and you spent $140 acquiring and serving that customer, then their lifetime value is $60.

    Since CLV is often defined as the profit you’ve earned from your customers, then it technically makes sense to subtract your customer costs from your revenue. That said, this takes a very simplistic view of CLV, and it becomes problematic when you’re calculating the CLV of entire customer groups or segments.

    That’s because this formula doesn’t take into account the fact that not all your customers spend the same amount at your store. Not to mention, shoppers don’t all stay active within the same time period i.e., certain customers are active for 2+ years, while others just purchase once and then become dormant.

    For this reason, it’s a good idea to use more complex CLV calculations to ensure that you’re able to factor in different customer variables.

    And that brings us to our next formula...

     

     

    2. Determine CLV based on customer revenue distribution


    Another way to calculate your customer lifetime value is to look at how revenue is distributed across your customer base. You can do this by benchmarking customer spending in your business and then grouping your customers based on those spending thresholds.

    Let’s say that spending in your company typically falls into the following buckets:

    • Customers who spend $25

    • Customers who spend $50

    • Customers who spend $75

    • Customers who spend $100

    The next thing you need to do is to figure out how many customers fall into each bucket. So you might list them as follows:

     

    No. of customers Revenue
    98 $25
    80 $50
    102 $75
    68 $100

    You’ll want to sum up the lifetime value of all your customers using the formula

     

    (# of customers 1 x revenue) + (# of customers 2 x revenue) + (# of customers 3 x revenue) & so on

     

     

    So the example above would be:

    (98 x 25) + (80 x 50) + (102 x 75) + (68 x 100) = 20,900

    You can divide that amount by your total number of customers to get the CLV

    = 20,900 / 348 = $60.05

     

    This is a good calculation to use especially if your basket sizes vary from one customer to the next. As The Balance explains, this CLV formula accounts for the fact that “some customers may be one-time or occasional buyers, versus the regular purchasers on the other end of the scale who have a higher LTV and generate the most profits.”

     

     

    3. Multiply customer value by average customer lifespan


    This CLV calculation is the one recommend by Shopify. What’s great about it is that it factors in a number of variables, including average order values, purchase frequency, and customer lifespan.

    This method uses the formula:

     

    Customer Value x Average Customer Lifespan = Customer Lifetime Value

     

    Let’s break down what each of these components means.

    To determine Customer Value, multiply your Average Order Value (AOV) by Purchase Frequency. You can find your AOV by dividing your Total Sales by the Number of Orders.

    Meanwhile, to determine Purchase Frequency, divide the Number of Orders you have gotten over a certain time period (say 1 year) by the Number of Customers you have within that same time period.

    Once you know your AOV and Purchase Frequency, multiply those figures and you’ll get your Customer Value.

    Next, let’s talk about the Average Customer Lifespan. This figure pertains to the length of time that a customer is active. You may need to examine your purchase history to figure this out, though some experts say that 1-3 years is a good estimate.

    Once you’ve determined your Average Customer Lifespan, you can go back to the formula above, Customer Value x Average Customer Lifespan to find your CLV.

     

    Total sales + No. of orders = Average Order Value

    No. of orders (1 year) + No. of customers (1 year) = Purchase Frequency

    Average order value x Purchase frequency = Customer Value

     
     

    4. Multiply lifetime value by profit margin


    Another way to approach CLV is by multiplying Lifetime Value by Profit Margin. According to Clever Tap, this method takes your expenses into consideration so you're able to figure out the net value that you get from each customer.

     

    Lifetime value x Profit margin = Customer Lifetime Value

     

    The formula for this method is: Lifetime Value x Profit Margin, wherein Lifetime Value is Average Order Value multiplied by the Number of Transactions, which is then multiplied by Average Customer Lifespan.

     

    Average order value x Number of transactions x
    Average customer lifespan = Lifetime Value 


    Lifetime value x Profit margin = Customer Lifetime Value

     

    Once you have that, then simply multiply the Lifetime Value by your Profit Margin  – i.e., Lifetime Value × Profit Margin to find your CLV.

     

    Download the free CLV Calculator
    Use Marsello's free calculator to quickly estimate your average CLV.

     

     

    5. Let your marketing software do it for you

    Calculating customer lifetime value can be a complex task, which is why it’s often better to use software when figuring your business’ CLV.

    A growing number of marketing platforms (including Marsello) can now use artificial intelligence to accurately calculate your CLV. These solutions do this by analyzing your customers’ purchase behavior in your business (as well as in stores similar to yours) to determine their lifespan and the amount of value that you can gain from them.

    Even better, AI marketing solutions even let you compare your CLV with your industry’s average. For example, since Marsello can analyze shopping trends across multiple industries, we can figure out the average lifespan values of stores in specific verticals, and then surface those insights for you. That, in turn, can give you valuable knowledge of how your business measures up and helps you improve your marketing and advertising efforts.

     

    Knowing your CLV is a must!


    Regardless of how you decide to calculate your customer lifetime value, it’s essential that you do it regularly. CLV can help you make important decisions including, how much to spend on customer acquisition, which channels to invest in, and how to provide even more value to shoppers.

    That’s why if you haven’t done so yet, now is the time to figure out your CLV ASAP. And if you need help doing that, feel free to get in touch.

    FAQs


    What are the common challenges or pitfalls in gathering accurate data for CLV calculations, and how can they be overcome?

    Overcoming challenges in gathering accurate data for CLV calculations entails employing advanced analytics, maintaining high-quality customer data, and integrating various data sources for a comprehensive view.

    Can CLV be effectively used to predict future business growth, and if so, how?

    Effectively using CLV to predict future business growth involves analyzing trends in CLV over time, segmenting customers based on their value, and applying predictive modeling techniques to forecast changes in customer behavior and business outcomes. These approaches require a blend of statistical analysis, customer insight, and strategic planning to enhance accuracy and usefulness.

    Measure your CLV with Marsello

    Plan and schedule social posts, email & SMS campaigns, and automations. Run loyalty and referral campaigns. Track and measure the impact of all your marketing on revenue.

    Start free trial

    5 Ways to Capitalize on Your Holiday Marketing Strategies

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    How do you get your store noticed in a sea of marketing during the holiday season? Discover 5 actionable tips for holiday email marketing to maximize ROI.

    Black Friday featured in bold on a laptop screen.

     

    Holiday Marketing is Worth The Effort

    Cyber Week, the holidays stretching from Thanksgiving to the following Monday, is the golden goose of retail revenue, and it lands right in the middle of the holiday season stretching from Halloween, right the way into the new year. CNBC reported that Cyber Monday (the Monday that follows Thanksgiving) is the single biggest day of the year for online shopping making it an essential focus for retailers.

    BigCommerce reported in their blog, Black Friday: An eCommerce Survival Guide that “the few short days from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday draw about a fifth of holiday sales all season long”. This stat alone cements Black Friday and Cyber Week as unmissable marketing and revenue events for retailers, just as much as they are unmissable shopping events for customers. With approximately 58 million people shopping online and 51 million choosing to shop in-store, it’s easy to see the value in retailers tapping into that revenue through marketing campaigns.

    So there’s no doubt that tapping into Cyber Week is a key revenue agent for retailers. For these reasons and more, we're focusing this holiday marketing blog on the single biggest revenue weekend of the year, although the tools you take away from it can be applied for pretty much any event!

    So how do you get your store noticed in a sea of marketing during a busy holiday period, and how do you do it quickly?

    If you’re unsure where to start, sometimes it’s best to take your cues from the best trends of recent years. Consider 2017 the year of personalized, holiday-themed email flows and curated gift guides.

     

    Holiday marketing sales statistics

     

    But before you consider how you can approach the ideas from previous years, check out the following tips picked to help you prepare for the impending Cyber Week madness.

     

     

    A Holiday Marketing Plan to Showcase Your Brand

    A 2015 study by the National Retail Federation suggested that effective marketing of your brand before and during Cyber Week can increase sales by up to a shocking 30%, this even increases to 40% in some industries (such as jewelry). Use this knowledge to your advantage! Even if you’re behind on your email marketing, you could try to find a moment to create a series of email flows that offer exclusive discounts and deals for your store during the Cyber Week chaos.

    This is a great time to mention that Marsello's email templates library is a great place to find ready-made templates that will allow you to easily design and send emails even in a time-crunch. 

    Just to be thorough, here’s an example of a manually created email flow which could be the the push you need to see holiday success and marketing ROI.

    Let’s break these down:

    Email 1:

      • Campaign Launch! Announce your enticing Cyber-focused deal/sale and give a clear call to action to your customers to shop with you – an idea for a first email is a gift-guide or staff-picks announcement.

      • Include some branded, appropriate and fun graphics to make your email instantly recognizable as a Cyber Week related email which is also linked to your brand.

      • Add another call to action at the bottom which suggests the customer checks out more products or visits you in-store at a list of your brick-and-mortar locations.

    Extra note: you could segment this email flow so that those who are making a first-time purchase are offered a similar email immediately after their purchase, but their email includes a coupon code valid only for cyber-week, incentivizing them to shop again with you in the near future.

     

    Email 2:

      • Your call to action needs to remind your customers that your sale or deal is ending soon and convince them to shop before it ends. A simple ‘Our sale is ending soon/ on [date/day of the week]. ORDER NOW!’ is a tried and true CTA.

      • Your cyber-week visuals for this should be fresh and attention-grabbing, reminding your customers that you’re creative and current.

      • Include your shipping costs or terms so that your customers are reassured about their shopping experience with you.

      Email 3:

      • Your sale ends today, tomorrow, or in [X] hours. With an imminent end, remind your customers that this is the last day to shop and they shouldn’t miss out.

      • Graphics and images could be changed to include themed gift-guide ideas or suggestions from popular purchases throughout the week.

      • Marsello offers an email flow option which shows the customer similar items to those that they’ve previously purchased. Including smart AI that personalizes the email will help your customers to feel as though your items meet their needs.

    • Email 4:

      • Thank those of your customers that made a purchase during Cyber week for shopping with you. Or you could send everyone a reminder of the next holiday in your calendar or that it’s simply coming up to the festive season and now is the perfect time for them to get on top of their shopping.

      • You can always add themed graphics which say thank you but why not show off some of the top-sellers from the week if you haven’t used this already.

      • If there are any delays in shipping or updates, make sure to let your customers know why this is the case.

    Get Creative & Be Consistent

    We’ve compiled a shortlist of these 5 ways that you can make the most out of your marketing and see results from just a few quick changes:

     

    1: Add themes and graphics to your website and social media marketing.

    Whether this is just updating your website’s banner with a cute graphic that includes some of your products, or a fully adapted homepage/landing page, the end-game is to narrow your customers’ focus onto the products you’re hoping they will buy. Some stores even use a product countdown or time-until-sale-ends timer so that customers feel the pressure to shop and avoid missing your store’s deals.

    Australian pet-product store, Peticular, is a seasoned pro at seasonal and festive marketing. Check out the way they’ve used social media to advertise their Halloween-specific items by including this adorable photo of a bandana-wearing pooch. They are also quick to update their store and email marketing with similar graphics which show off their brand but also their products.

     

    Peticular's halloween-themed Facebook post

     

    We love that they’ve cleverly included the item’s price, clearly displayed with the additions of a ‘products shown’ button below the image. Peticular have also gone the extra mile and included a link in the description to even more bandana designs. They do a great job of using their marketing to show off their in-season and cutest items. We recommend keeping an eye on them for inspiration.

    One key part of your holiday marketing to remember is making sure that your images are optimized and meet the needs of your customers. Think of all those stores with beautifully branded festive images and how much more inclined you are to buy from them. 

     

    2: What deals can you offer in terms of shipping?

    Maybe free shipping isn’t an option, but what if customers are spending over $100? In a survey conducted by BigCommerce, 80% of Americans cited shipping costs and speed of shipping as a major factor in determining where they shop, with 66% deciding not to buy entirely because of shipping costs. Even a small token to show that you understand this could be the difference between a sale or not.

    While you may not be able to offer free shipping, no matter the amount of a customer's purchase, perhaps you could offer it to local buyers and specific locations, or perhaps you simply offer fast-tracked shipping with a tracking code. What about free returns? Giving your customers a sense of security over their online purchases will make them feel even more justified in their choice to shop with you.

     

    Bobbie Dog's shipping information email

     

    Consider creating a seamless shipment and tracking system so that your customers feel your support, even at the busiest times of the year. One example of this as a store ad-on is Aftership. Basically, you’re giving the power back to your customer to follow where their item is at, and when to expect it. Cut yourself out at a middleman and forget the days of chasing couriers.

     

    Jevo Home Living using AfterShip to help customers track their orders

     

    3: Be clear about what your deal or sale terms are.

    Your customers are less likely to buy from your competitors if they feel the sense of urgency that the impending end of a sale brings, particularly if they’ve shopped with you before and trust you to look after them at such a busy time of year.

    While we’re talking sale ends, don’t be afraid of extending that sale as well. Sometimes giving people an extra dale to check your deals out is the extra push they need to make a purchase. There’s a lot of demand in the days that follow on from holidays – give your customers a little push and remind them why your products are worth the extra purchase.

    Giving a clear explanation of your timeline shows that you’re only doing this deal for a limited time, even if it’s a little beyond that of other store’s sales, says to your customers perhaps this is the best time for your customers to hunt down that item they’ve wanted for so long or to tick another item off their gift-list.

    It’s worth a quick mention that a flash sale or one-day deal isn’t outdated. With the rise of websites that offer a deal for just one day, there’s room to compete, just remember to keep it on theme. Cyber week means that it’s cyber exclusive so this is a great time to out some select items on sale and advertise them through your emails and social media with that theme present. BigCommerce agrees – it’s the prime time “to capture the target market’s attention and up-sell your other products.”

     

    4: Speaking of gift lists, why not spice up your blog as a form of gift guide?

    Gift guides were the go-to marketing form of 2017 and for good reason – they work! They’re a simple way to show off your most appealing, beautiful or theme-appropriate products and to funnel your customers to your site. They also boost customer confidence, which leads the way for customer loyalty.

    A shopping guide says to your customers, “I understand what you need, why you’re here and how I can make your life easiest for you.” It’s a low-key ‘look no-more’ that your customers will find easy to navigate, so the more inviting you make your gift guide, the more successful it’s likely to be. Besides, this is one of those cases where everyone is doing it, and you should too but because of that, you need to stand out.

    Check out this example from Anthropologie who have a whole landing page dedicated to ‘gifts’ that sits in their navigation. Their products are all beautifully displayed in a similar style with clean lighting, pastel backgrounds, and essential details.

     

    Anthropologie's Gift Guide

     

    Gift guides don’t need to be restricted to just your website, they make an effective email flow with a clear call to action that says ‘Shop now and score great deals on these products, and more!’. Great Lakes Northern Outfitters, a Minneapolis-based men's apparel store, did a great job of this last year. The following email shows a careful selection of their favorite items. They followed these up with links directly to the items which corresponded to the numbered item from the photo.

     

    The Horse's Christmas gift guide

     

    5: Create and promote a loyalty points system.

    Offering your frequent shoppers and brand-lovers an incentive to shop in the form of holiday season loyalty points is a simple way of winning customers back and developing customer loyalty. If you’re running a loyalty program (if not, check out Marsello’s easy-to-use loyalty program), you’ve already got access to a golden egg in the form of loyalty. If you haven’t tapped into this yet, make it a priority. As BigCommerce point out, customer loyalty is a multi-faceted focus point with long-game benefits.

    Customers love to feel special, so let them feel appreciated and looked after in the form of exclusive deals but look beyond the short few months of the holiday season. Use this busy time to direct your customers to your loyalty program, incentivize them to join with exclusive deals or a limited time points bonus for first-time buyers who sign up.

    It can be tricky to know what deals or offers will best benefit your store in particular. Marsello has you covered here too! Marsello includes smart suggestions to recommend the optimal reward settings for your particular store, offering your customers the ideal rewards.

    Our top tip? Make sure that you can keep up with that marketing from now until the end of your promotional period.

    Automation is the best way to do this – take some of the pressure off yourself by scheduling as much of your marketing as you can. Clearly branded email campaigns with simple, enticing call-to-actions, scheduled SMS campaigns, boosted campaigns, loyalty points promotions are all ways that you can ramp up your marketing... and, let's be real here, a little planning before the madness begins can go a long way to easing the stress of a busy holiday period.

    Just remember the key is to show off your brand in a stand-out, flattering and appealing way. Offer deals where possible, and give your customers incentive to remain loyal throughout the rest of the holiday season.

    And if you haven’t gotten a head-start on your holiday marketing yet, get started with a deep-dive into campaigns and the templates library.

     

    Learn more about campaigns

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