What are the exciting trends in eCommerce technology & consumer behavior?
💁♂️ Derric Haynie (DH): The applications of A.I. have increased manifold, and if used right, can empower smart eCommerce brands to take their business to the next level.
A few examples where A.I. is being leveraged are:
Front-end A.I. integration for a better, more enhanced shopping experience.
"Returns can become a problem during the BFCM season. Hence, the goal is to prevent returns from the get-go. Here, A.I. tools can accurately size up based on customer information, allowing customers to get what they want and eliminating returns."
A.I. in customer service: A.I. is now becoming first responders instead of humans.
A.I. for landing date predictions: A.I.-driven tools like Advisor help decode unstructured data, categorize information, and trigger processes efficiently.
"It can get tricky to predict the landing dates around BFCM due to crazy logistics. But if you have, say, 5 years of data, A.I. tools like Advisor can help in predicting accurate land dates. This keeps customers informed, reduces customer service inquiries, and brings down returns and complaints about the brand, increasing the chances for five-star ratings."
"Pencil will take all your brand assets and put them together into a video for you. Such A.I. tools can create hundreds of micro-variations on your ad assets to test them in the market, get real-time feedback, and find the 'right one where the return on ad spend can compete with others.”
A.I. for product recommendations & data: Using data-analytics tools for understanding data in-depth and craft effective strategies for more revenue, profitability or customer gain—the 3 goals of any BFCM campaign.
"In the beginning, most eCommerce brands did not have the right tools for putting out discounts or promos, etc. And so they’d be like it's a Black Friday sale with 30% off, 50% off, 80% off on products. But nobody stopped to look at the data to check how the discounts affected revenue, profitability, or customer gain. Now, merchants are getting a lot smarter, and data tools help brands to understand that perhaps they may not have needed that extra 10% discount on X product. It could have had a 20% instead of 30% and made the same sales."
A.I. for eCommerce messaging:
“Perhaps, you use tools that manage eCommerce communications, like a single marketing automation platform for email, SMS, WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram, D.M.s, and customer service emails. And your marketing or customer service team will organize and send promotional messages and other news at the right time, based on your data findings.
In the future, you won't have to decide all of this at all—you will know precisely when to send those messages out, to whom, and you'll only have to instruct the A.I., and you’ll have an it'll be hyper-personalized and fully automated. But right now, it's more like A.I. can tell us, or we can look at our data and decide. But we're getting very, very close to making it a reality.
What are The Best Tips for Getting Your Shopify Store Ready for BFCM?
Tip #1: Bundling strategies > discounting strategies
Based on your BFCM goals for the campaign, Derric recommends bundling products together instead of discounting them separately.
"Analyze data to understand whether you need to adopt a discounting, bundling, or combination of both strategies. If you select bundling, align your strategy with your inventory management strategy, supply chain strategy, all the way through to a shipping strategy."
Tip #2: Set 1 goal for BFCM & create a strategy framework around it
Are you looking to get more revenue, earn profits or acquire more customers? Select 1 goal, and thoughtfully align your BFCM strategies around it.
“Say you’re looking to acquire more customers around BFCM, then retention & building customer loyalty becomes the ultimate goal here. With this goal set, now, the focus should be on creating strategies to engage with them, delight them, get the product delivered to them on time, get the product review from them, reward them with loyalty points, understand them better, who they are, and how to strategically communicate with them, etc."
Tip #3: There are more sales opportunities & holidays today
1 day can have 5-6 ‘special days’, all made for commercialization & promotion. Focus on creating a strategic sales schedule for the year on holidays relevant to YOU.
"Instead of heavily focusing on BFCM, maybe there's another better time when you can nurture the existing database and customers when everybody else is NOT spending, spending, spending & the advertising cost isn't at an all-time high. Based on your findings and data analysis, you decide where to go and if the BFCM frenzy helps you achieve your goals or not.
If BFCM helps, at least remember not to overspend on ad platforms or throw money at influencers during this time when noise and the prices are high too."
Tip #4: Test, Test, Test
Split test as many tools & technologies as well as website pages. You can use Nostra that does hundreds of split tests all at the same time, a relatively new tool in the conversion rate optimization space.
Any app/technology recommendations for eCommerce companies looking to run successful holiday campaigns?
💁♂️ DH: Understanding your landscape, strengths, and weaknesses as a company and its people combined with your data findings, followed by selecting the right automation tool or any other technology, is key to increasing your eCommerce conversion rate or a high CRO—that's probably the most critical area you need to focus on for BFCM campaigns.
How can eCommerce stores leverage automation this BFCM?
💁♂️ DH: Automate everything. The automation tools should help in managing & improving the experience across the board—whether it's spreadsheet automation or automated response that gets to the customer faster.
A human can jump in there to fix any issues as long as it's transparent, but analyze whether these tools integrate with your existing stack.
And check whether you have the budget?
Do you have the resources to implement this appropriately, among other questions.
How do you ensure customers find store offers unique during BFCM season?
- Decide from a brand strategy perspective, when, what and how to deploy discount offers.
“If your price is zero, everybody will buy. If your price is infinite, nobody will buy it. So there's some elasticity inside those two numbers where more and fewer people buy. And so, where do you fit in between the two edges? Say an X technology brand doesn't like conducting a sale or offering discounts frequently. There's only an offer on either buying early or on a bundle but they provide a value exchange proposition to customers.”
2. Think from the perspective of the primary target customer as well.
“So if they are bargain hunters, you offer exhaustion. Like they're just the ones that will only buy through that. However, is there a way you can move into a different market segment to a different customer segment?
Maybe you need to upgrade the quality of your product. Maybe you need to upgrade the brand aesthetic of the website.
You need to build trust and bridge gaps with your customers or things like that. And those are the ways you move outside of offering offers after offers that breed redundancy. It is tough to give the exact solution here because say, you as a brand stop doing any discounting tomorrow, it could kill your brand. On the flip side, you might not be profitable by offering those discounts. You could be in the negative or just so break even that you're barely scraping by. And that it can be frustrating for that to drive you nuts.
So think about how you can drive a wedge between existing trained discount buyers and move into an audience profile that is more in that prestige upmarket associated with your brand component and sell to them."