Magento 2.2.2 – Available Today!

In December’s Magento Partner Aspire Call, the Magento team told us all about the 2.2.2 release coming on December 12th, 2017.

The latest version of Magento has some great new features including:

• Streamlined Instant Purchase Checkout
• Advanced Reporting powered by Magento Business Intelligence
• Integrated DotMailer capabilities
• Advanced Multi-Carrier Shipping and Fulfillment

All of these new features will be available on both Open Source and Commerce versions of the platform.

Streamlined Instant Purchase Checkout

Because of the recent expiration of Amazon’s one-click checkout patent, merchants everywhere are now able to take advantage of this technology to reduce checkout steps and increase conversions for their customers.

Instant Purchase is Magento’s new streamlined checkout process that allows shoppers to use a default shipping address, their last created Vault payment method and automatically selects the cheapest shipping method available.

Please Note: Instant Purchase requires customer registration with a saved payment method.

Instant purchase is easy to activate on the back end, and just requires that Braintree Vault is enabled.

 

Advanced Reporting Powered by Magento Business Intelligence
But NOT replacing MBI Essentials or Pro

Advanced reporting is now readily available in the back end with 20 user friendly reports for Products, Orders and Customers. It is automatically enabled in the back end, and is easily configured.

Don’t forget, Advanced Reporting is not a substitute for Magento Business Intelligence Essentials or Pro.

 

Integrated Dotmailer Capabilities

Dotmailer’s email marketing automation is now integrated with Magento 2.2.2. Magento is the first eCommerce solution to include Dotmailer with their core product.

What Dotmailer programs are included with 2.2.2?

 

Advanced Multi-Carrier Shipping and Fulfillment
Perhaps the greatest change coming to 2.2.2 are the additional shipping features that will now be available, including:

  • Multi-carrier integration
  • Real-time rate management
  • Multi-location management
  • Custom packaging
  • Static in-cart quotes
  • One-stop fulfillment
  • Standardized tracking
  • Carrier compliant shipping labels and documentation
  • International shipping

Merchants looking to learn more about Magento Shipping can fill out this form. Pricing will be tiered and available at 4 levels: Starter, Essentials, Pro and Enterprise.

Interested in learning more about Magento 2.2.2 or upgrading your store? Call us today at 888-429-4803 or email us at info@eystudios.com.

4 Tips for Using Your Data to Inform Holiday Marketing Decisions

When it comes to data, there is no shortage of it floating around just waiting to be captured and categorized. One of the fastest growing trends in mining data is for marketing purposes. Without an effective marketing strategy, there is no way to inform potential buyers that you are in possession of a product they simply must have.

Without a doubt, marketing data is valuable all through the year, but it is extremely important to interpret your data correctly in time to benefit from the holiday rush. Most commercial businesses record roughly 20% of their yearly sales during the holidays, so you want to use your metrics to formulate a great marketing plan.

Types of Data

Data capture comes in two types—unstructured and structured—and the amount mined by businesses is increasing at an astonishing rate. Unstructured data includes information gathered from non-traditional technologies and tools, such as customer service experience comments placed on social media. Structured data is information obtained directly, such as data relating to purchase transactions.

With the advent of advanced technologies like in-memory database systems, mobile platforms, and the cloud, it is increasingly easy to capture and analyze data in ways that are cost-effective. What this gives us are new ways for customer engagement and extended reach being discovered almost daily. Consumers are using technology in more advanced ways than ever before, and it is affecting the way they make purchases.

Holiday Marketing Know-How

The push for holiday marketing campaigns begins long before the final quarter of the year. While the real world is still focused on summer BBQs and trips to the beach, experienced marketing teams have stepped over to the virtual holiday rush dimension.

The goal is to skyrocket sales during the holiday shopping season, and the only way to do this is by creating a marketing campaign that grabs the attention of shoppers and gets them talking. Depending on your business, this could mean finding new ways to market classic products or going all out to promote your newest lines.

Marketing requires knowing and understanding your customers—what their likes and dislikes are, how they engage with your business, and, above all, what they want. Data is where you will find the answers to these burning questions.

Making the Data Yours

This may sound like a simple process, but correctly identifying key sources for data collection can be confusing and complicated. Several questions must be asked if your business is to benefit at optimum levels from data. Are there missing data sources? How vital are they to the overall picture? How much and what type of value do they provide?

After all the available data sources have been noted, they need some assessment for underlying details. The assessment falls into three categories—timeline, resources, and feasibility. Does your business have the proper resources to tap the data source? Will you be able to complete the process promptly? Is it even possible to capture the data from this source?

1. Data integration for marketing is vital.

Having piles of data is a great first step, but you must be able to use it effectively. Do customers prefer to see bright colors or neutral ones? Do they respond better to snowmen or Santa Claus? Would they rather receive a written text message or a photo message?

From all the sources that data is obtained, it then must be transformed into compatible and cohesive blocks from which the critical information can be extracted. With the relevant data analyzed, the next step is to distribute actionable awareness presented with simple and easy user interfaces on mobile platforms.

For companies to make better-informed decisions quickly, it is necessary to integrate technology and data platforms. This in no way guarantees your decisions will be better overall—only that they are made once you have all the key facts together. Once you have the appropriate data in hand, it can be used to inform your holiday marketing plan and then stored for future use and comparison.

2. Link to strategy.

Holiday marketing strategies need to focus on both short and long-term goals. Gather your marketing team together to allow everyone to review all past and current data collectively. Focus on locating any gaps that may exist between your marketing strategies.

Part of reviewing your collected data portfolio is being able to visualize the link between the data and your business strategies. Every step for effective marketing must ensure each action complements or contributes to the strategic plan you have in place.

3. Choose effective platforms.

You have decided on a marketing strategy, and now you need to put it into place. Where should you focus your efforts? The data you have been collecting will lead you down the correct path in making this decision.

Do your customers engage with your brand most often over social media? If so, target your campaign as a blitz across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Does your blog have a large interactive following? Start blogging about holiday specials, new products, contests, etc., and encourage feedback from your customers. To pique interest, consider releasing daily “teasers” until the final unveiling.

Depending on the budget and the preferences of your consumers, you may choose to integrate visual campaigns such as email, text messages, social media, and stunning in-store displays. Keep careful track of what is and isn’t working since this will be valuable information for next year.

4. Create a content funnel.

Even with the right platform, your marketing campaign will go nowhere if the content does not lead to generating revenue. This is where data capture is vital in making decisions on the type of content that resonates with your audience. Let’s look at a simple example to illustrate this point.

Company X posts a picture on Facebook featuring its new products on a holiday background with a short descriptive blurb. It receives 4,000 likes, 500 shares, 300 clicks on the link to purchase the product, and 40 confirmed sales.

Then Company X also creates a holiday-themed video of its product in use with great visual and auditory components, which is posted on YouTube. It receives 240,000 likes, 125,000 shares, 100,000 clicks on the purchase link, 75,000 new subscriptions, and 40,000 confirmed sales. Which strategy sounds better to you?

Creating content that engages and entices buyers will put them on the path to purchase.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to holiday marketing, you are competing with almost every other business on the globe for a piece of the revenue. Every business has a holiday marketing strategies, so yours must be truly spectacular to stand out from the crowd. Additionally, customers are a finicky bunch and what worked last season may not garner the same results this year.  This is one reason why keeping track of data is so essential to the way we do business today.

As technology continues to advance, so will the ways we reach out and engage with both current and prospective customers. However, the need for data will never decrease. When robust analytics and data platforms are effectively designed and implemented, each organizational level becomes enabled to make well-informed decisions regarding marketing at lightning speed. All this culminates in enhanced profitability during the busiest season of the year.

Customer Life Cycles: Getting and Keeping Your Best Customers

How do the best brands turn first time shoppers into loyal, returning customers? We’ll look at the customer life cycle from first visit to brand evangelism and examine what turns a good shopping experience into a great one.

First Impressions Matter.
Your site must look good, load fast, and be usable across desktop, tablet and mobile devices. Imagine you’re shopping at mall and you go into a store where the salespeople don’t greet you and the whole place is dirty and disorganized. You don’t know where to start, and nothing is on display. You’d turn around and promptly leave, right? After all, it’s easy enough to just walk into the store next door and get what you need. The same goes for an eCommerce storefront, except, it’s even easier to leave a store and find a new one, and because of that, merchants need to keep these key elements in mind:

• Your site should load quickly and work well across all devices.
• Once it does load, make sure you have great product merchandising.
Clear navigation, quality search, and filtering are all a must.
• On item pages, make sure to feature good photography, accurate specs, and product reviews.
• At checkout, make it simple:

– Offer “wallet-less” payment options like PayPal, AmazonPay and ApplePay.
– Reduce unnecessary fields.
– Give the shopper options to create an account, or checkout as a guest.
– Offer Free Shipping! Even if it’s after a certain dollar threshold. (I never pay for shipping and will absolutely abandon a cart if that’s my only option.)

Inviting Them Back
When shoppers on your site for the first time, you want to plant the seeds for a return visit. By that I mean, you’ve got to give them something to come back for:

In-Stock Notifiers bring consumers back to sites for items that we unavailable during their previous visit. Check out the custom notifier EY built for Pink Coconut Boutique.
• As mentioned above, My Account features allow people to save addresses, card information, etc. all of which allows them to complete future purchases with ease.
• The ability to create Wishlists or “Favorite” items to purchase later.
• Offer a Rewards Program that gives people points or discounts to redeem in the future.
• Continually connect with them through regular newsletters and social media outreach.

Make the Unpleasant Stuff Easier
Don’t forget that it’s not just about selling people stuff. It’s about an ongoing relationship and keeping people satisfied. Many times, the deal breaker between a few purchases and a long-time consumer is how returns and customer service issues are handled. While a satisfied customer might tell a few of their friends, an unsatisfied customer will tell an average of 10 PEOPLE. Yikes.

For returns, make it easy and pain-free for customers to return items they’re unhappy with.

• Consider a My Account feature that will allow consumers to start the return process online.
• Offer FREE returns and the ability to print return labels from your site. Free shipping and free returns makes the purchase very low risk to the consumer, and will almost guarantee a higher order value.

Make sure customer service is readily available, friendly, and helpful.

• While you may not be able to provide 24/7 support, make sure you’re well-staffed during business hours at least, and the customer service hours are clearly posted on your site.
• Consider multiple channels such as a 1-800 number, email, live chat, etc.
• Make sure your customer service staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and has the autonomy to make decisions about refunds, discounts, etc. without escalating every decision to a manager.

Remember that any poor experience can be turned around and made a positive one with great customer service.

I’m a big fan of the meal delivery service Hello Fresh and have been using it for months now. I recently received a box where one of my packs of raw chicken had leaked out of the box, getting all over the counter and everything else. I was disappointed to say the least and emailed them the next morning to let them know how my package had arrived. Within minutes I had an apology and a full refund for that meal. How great is that? Not only was I happy with the result, I came in to work and told my coworkers about the positive experience.
Through moments like this, they’ve evolved me from a repeat customer to a brand evangelist. I post pictures of my recipes to social media and I tell all my friends and family about how much I enjoy the service.

With a quality product, easy to use site, and a strong customer service team, you can turn more of your first-time visitors into repeat customers.

Interested in having your site’s overall user experience reviewed? Want to add any of the features or functionality we’ve mentioned above? Reach out to us at 888-429-4803 or email us at info@eystudios.com.

Assistant Devices and eCommerce

According to a 2017 study by Artificial Solutions, 68% of people are already using a voice activated assistant. Of those, 40% use it on a daily basis. This group of people is already accustomed to not lifting a finger in order to ask questions, find out about the weather, and check sports stats. Now they’re able to do the same thing when they need paper towels, shampoo, or even shoes.

Devices like the Amazon Echo or Google Home are making shopping easier than ever. With just a few spoken words, you can avoid a trip to the store, or a trip across the living room to pick up your cell phone, tablet, or computer.

For Echo users, shopping with Alexa is as easy as having an Amazon Prime account. Alexa makes it simple to buy frequently purchased products with quick commands such as “Alexa, reorder dry shampoo.” Alexa will confirm the product and place the order. For the more indecisive shopper, who want to state things like “Alexa, buy shoes,” the device will respond with options to narrow the search. (Like a voice activated game of Guess Who?) These can include style, brand, variants, color, and size.

A couple perks of shopping with Alexa: you can use voice commands to check order status, ask “where’s my stuff?” for shipment tracking, and all orders placed with Alexa are automatically eligible for free returns. Not to mention the Alexa-exclusive deals they run for holidays like Black Friday.

Google Home operates similarly in that you have to have shipping and payment options set up in the Google Home app, just like you do with your Amazon Prime membership.

This ease of use is creating serious customer loyalty. Amazon Prime Members are already devoted Amazon shoppers, but the ability to order groceries (or make a grocery list for later) while cooking, is taking this obsession to a new level.

Both devices offer users the option to add a product to your “Shopping List” and checkout later. Creating a list without finding a pen? Sign me up.

The 2017 Holiday shopping season could shape up to be easier than ever with assistant devices sitting in more than half of Americans’ homes.

For more information on Voice Activated shopping and assistant devices, reach out to us at info@eystudios.com or (888) 429-4803.

First of Three Sites for Bergeron Companies Launches on Magento

Long-time EYStudios client, Bergeron Companies, was looking for a platform with more flexibility, scalability, and ease of management for their multiple stores; Keekaroo, Adaptive Mall, and Special Tomato. The companies focuses on designing innovative, safe, and useful products for children and families.

We began the replatforming process by building out Keekaroo.com, Bergeron Companies’ wholesale store, on Magento 2 Cloud. Magento 2 gives them the unique ability to share products among their three stores, all while managing the stores in one convenient admin panel.

Keekaroo’s site was last designed several years ago, and it was time for a complete overhaul. The brand is vibrant, youthful, and solutions oriented, and the site was not portraying that personality as well as it could. The team from Keekaroo loves that the new site tells a story and speaks to both of their two audiences: wholesalers coming to purchase product, and consumers coming to seek out information. From a branding perspective, it was important that the site reflect their modern, kid-friendly products.

The primary pain point with the previous site was the lack of Quick Order functionality for Keekaroo’s wholesale customers. The process of adding more than one quantity of any item was excruciating, and it was the first thing the EY team needed to address. With Magento 2.2 still several months away, and their unique ordering specifications, our team built a custom module to meet this pressing need.

Next steps for the Bergeron Companies brand is to build out their B2C site, AdaptiveMall.com, and their proprietary material site, Special Tomato.

Minnesota Wild And Magento: An eCommerce Power Play

The official team store of the Minnesota Wild, StateofHockey.com recently moved from Magento 1 Open Source to Magento 2 Open Source and changed their URL to HockeyLodge.com. The store carries Minnesota Wild fan gear, as well as merchandise for the North Stars and Iowa Wild.

The main goal of the redesign was to update their ERP System that was reaching end-of-life in March 2018. EYStudios worked with partner Red Rook to integrate NCR Counterpoint which allowed them to use the same database for their 3 Hockey Lodge brick-and-mortar retail stores as well as their online store.

In addition to updating their ERP system, a redesign was needed to optimize the site and improve the overall user experience across desktop, tablet and mobile. As such, EY took the site responsive and re-imagined the navigation. We also worked to make the new site easier to update, so that anyone on the Minnesota Wild staff could easily make changes without the help of a developer.

Check out the dramatic changes to the design here, and visit the new HockeyLodge.com to get your Minnesota Wild gear today.

Magento Order Management

Magento unveiled their new Order Management system in January 2016 and a number of merchants have already been able to reap the benefits. Those merchants include eyewear retailer Devlyn, fashion brand Tous and transport company Fraport.

While we’ve been long aware of the offering, we didn’t want to pass up the recent opportunity to sit in on a demo of the product and learn more. We were both impressed and pleasantly surprised at what we learned:

PLATFORM AGNOSTIC

  • The product is a standalone offering and is platform agnostic! That means that it’s capable of integrating with any front-end sales channel where orders can be generated, and any back-end system.

CLOUD BASED

  • Magento Order Management is SaaS based so it’s self-hosted and monitored securely.

ORDER MANAGEMENT AND FULFILLMENT

  • It can provide inventory information across all channels and all warehouses.
  • The system reads the metrics of an order and decides the optimal fulfillment scenario:
    • Best fulfillment location
    • Best logistics
    • Lowest shipping costs
    • Fastest fulfillment
  • The system can also split shipments to the corresponding fulfillment locations.
  • It has the ability to easily connect to a drop-shipper’s ERP.
  • Offers the ability to connect across sales channels such as Amazon and eBay.

IN STORE FULFILLMENT

  • Provides tools for supporting picking and packing, creation of shipping documents, carrier integration and endless aisle.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

  • The system provides access to all order related information including return management, appeasements, exchanges and cancellations.

Here’s a great graphic that was included in the demo that illustrates the overall flow of the system from sales channels to fulfillment methods:

 

The overall goal of the system: provide centralized inventory, order and fulfillment capabilities that enable commerce businesses to deliver a consistent, low friction, omnichannel experience to the customer.

Want to learn more about Magento Order Management? Talk to one of our eCommerce Consultants today by calling 888-429-4803 or emailing us at info@eystudios.com

Shoppable Video- A New Idea for the New Year

It’s a new year and there’s no better time to explore new avenues to increase conversions and AOV on your eCommerce site.

With shoppable video, marketing and sales intertwine allowing the viewer to shop the products marketed on the spot. A few big names such as Kate Spade, Ted Baker, and Puma have experienced an increase in conversion rates by utilizing shoppable videos. The ability to engage your target audience and convert new customers is guaranteed to increase your AOV by getting products in front of shoppers right where they’re at.

Video has proven to be an effective tool for targeting audiences. As a result, eCommerce stores are taking video a step further by creatively driving consumers to their checkout. Shoppable video is the bridge that allows viewers to become customers by simply clicking products embedded within the video.

For shoppable video to be an effective tool, creation is key. It is important marketers create lifestyle footage that appeals to the target audience. The use of lifestyle footage engages the viewer through the purchasing journey, increasing click rates on products.

Tools like Cinematique and TV Page give brands the ability to create touchable videos. These “touchpoints” allow companies to build an immersive experience and lead viewers to their products, fueling customer engagement.

With the ability to add external links to YouTube videos, it’s easier than ever to utilize your existing digital content to drive consumers to your site. Projections show that video traffic will be 82% of all consumer internet traffic by 2021. As such, retailers have even more reason to pursue creating shoppable videos.

As a new year fast approaches, closing the gap between marketing and sales is key for your eCommerce site. This unique marketing tool continues to gain traction from merchants providing instant access to purchasing products. Shoppable video could be a game changer for driving your sales in 2018.

 

For more information on what Shoppable Videos could do for your store, or other exciting ideas, call us at (888) 429-4803.