Thursday Oct 01, 2015

Why Millennials Don't Buy Black Friday

Millennials are killing the one-day holiday shopping event. It won’t be this year or the next, but it’s coming. 

The fact is, Black Friday and Cyber Monday aren’t really even one-day events anymore. “Holiday” has evolved in to a season of rolling discounts and events, with Amazon and other major retailers setting the pace by publishing their entire promotion schedule and lowest set seasonal prices right after Halloween.

The holiday season will always bring an element of shopping craziness, but the path to win the sales holiday sales war is changing. It’s no longer rock-bottom prices and doorbuster sales. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are great tools for retailers to get shoppers in their stores and not their competitors, but this model won’t hold up as millennials take center stage.

Millennials have shopped online their entire adult lives. In their eyes, Black Friday incentives rarely outweigh the hassle and frustration of setting foot in a crowded store, rolling the dice with limited options and inventory. They may take in the decorations with a gingerbread latte, and want a hands-on experience for select gifts, but the reality is they steer clear of the mall for holiday shopping.

Cyber Monday is more appealing to millennials, but it is still a one-day event that doesn’t excite them as much as it does older generations. Managing Cyber Monday sales and sitting at the computer in the early morning hours is becoming the new, stressful Black Friday sidewalk campground. Outside of being part of the competition and excitement, Millennials know they can get deals after Black Friday and Cyber Monday. They don’t want to be pressured to make buying decisions with certain retailers and certain products on specific days. Most of the population doesn’t have their act together in the days after Thanksgiving – and frankly, they don’t need to. In 2014, more shopping was done December 20th – 24th than during the hyped-up shopping days, and the deals continued to come right up until Christmas Eve.

As more and more Boomers gravitate to online shopping and Cyber Monday numbers continue to climb, retailers need to think three steps ahead to how they will address the next wave of shoppers - millennials (and it goes way beyond price).

The Millennial Shopper: Super Efficient, Lots of Expectations

What do millennials want during the holiday shopping season? Fewer of them are braving the stores to shop, so they take to screens. Millennials are mobile research experts/addicts. They get lots of targeted emails (an incredibly effective way to reach them) and know they can get deals on an ongoing basis. They’ll wait for sales. They’ll research all of their options. They’re not in a rush.

Millennials expect a deal. They expect free and fast shipping, which takes the pressure off to get gifts early in the season; they can screech in to the curb waiting for the right products and prices. 7-10 day standard shipping may as well be an eternity (or a non-starter if they’re shopping the week before Christmas), so shipping options must be fast, and pick up in store (if applicable) should be available. They also expect free returns. Many millennial shoppers over-buy with the intention of returning much of it. Managing this along with shipping is a major challenge and roadblock to innovation for many in retail ecommerce – but it’s critical to compete.

Millennials use technology to do their legwork. If they are price-conscious, they’ll use an app like Shopsavvy to crawl the Web.

They also tend to purchase large amounts of holiday gifts from a smaller number of retailers to simplify things and to get cleared for free shipping thresholds or tiered discounts.

Millennials love to discover new brands and new products through social media like Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook and word-of-mouth. As creative gifts and niche brands become widely available through sites like Etsy, hitting the perfect gift bull’s-eye with something unique can be more appealing than getting a deal.

These demanding shoppers will spend the most in the coming years. Standard retail tactics like discounts, sales, and events won’t guarantee success. It will become more about building relationships with brands that are easy to do business with.

Engaging Millennial Shoppers During Holiday (and Year Round)

How can retailers start selling to the millennial shopper now to get a jump-start on competitors? While discounts and coupons excite shoppers of all ages, think outside of pricing alone.

Be fast. If you can get the products shoppers want the fastest (at a fair price) – you win. Shoppers will spend more to get something the next day (or even same day in some markets) with a hard stop like December 25th. Checkout is still a huge barrier to conversion, so make the process painless – one page, few steps, limited questions (especially on mobile).

Over communicate. Email reaches a fever pitch in December, and while inboxes get flooded with noise, use this influential tool to differentiate your brand. You don’t need to extend rock-bottom prices, but keep an active email conversation to stay top of mind. Offer deals of the day. Integrate with social media. Extend exclusive VIP offers. Experiment with opt-in texts. Retailers like Target, Best Buy and JCPenney are have been collecting emails and phone numbers to send exclusive alerts.

Give options. Get ahold of your supply chain and make the digital customer experience frictionless. Millennials expect flexible fulfillment options (buy online pick up in store, fast shipping). Make returns simple (and free if you can). Be present on social media with an authentic brand message that allows shoppers to discover products.

To win millennial business, retailers must be easy to do business with during holiday and year round. Retailers must deliver a painless customer experience and lots of options. The days of retailers setting up their holiday Web sites and freezing code in the summer won’t be around forever. Brands should invest in solutions that grant them the agility to adapt versus curating static experiences. Experiment. Tell your brand story in an authentic way in an engaging, efficient shopping experience. Millennials expect it.

Monday Sep 14, 2015

Coming Soon: Collaboration is Commercial Norm

Has anyone else noticed that the peer-to-peer commerce space is really taking off?

Also known as P2P, ‘the sharing economy’, ‘the collaborative economy’, and probably many other terms I’ve not yet come across, peer-to-peer commerce is where individuals are directly connected to each other to trade goods or services.

Ok, so the concept is not new. People have been trading and bartering for centuries. Even online, peer-to-peer is not a new concept. Napster pioneered P2P file sharing in the late 90s, and eBay is now in its twentieth year.

Still, it’s only in recent years that P2P has been really disrupting traditional commercial business models.

Two of the more familiar P2P businesses - Airbnb, a website for people to list and rent out their accommodation; and Uber an app that connects people with taxis, private car drivers and rideshares, have both faced controversy and lawsuits, mainly because competitors are uncomfortable with P2P becoming the new normal.

But the P2P commercial model is gradually becoming the new normal. Some of the more established companies are seeing huge growth. Airbnb for example, has more than 15 million users worldwide, while Uber is available in more than 300 cities. Plus, the start-up space is scattered with hundreds of new collaborative economy businesses.

Here’s a quick overview of some of the P2P companies on my EMEA watch list:

[Read More]

Thursday Aug 27, 2015

Bigger Than Ever - Oracle’s Commerce Solutions at OpenWorld 2015

There are a lot of great reasons for Oracle Commerce customers to attend OpenWorld at the end of October including in-depth product updates, many customer success stories, hands-on labs, and networking events.  Attendees will walk away with a better understanding of how Oracle’s commerce solutions can help them stay competitive in today’s rapidly changing commerce market. 

What’s New and Different?

Meet Oracle Commerce CloudThe Newest Addition to Oracle’s CX Applications Portfolio – See demos, learn about the roadmap, and hear directly from our first customers leveraging this new product

Hands-on Labs – Attendees will see how they can quickly stand up an online storefront with Oracle Commerce Cloud

Interactive Customer Showcases in the CX Commerce Demo Zone featuring Oracle Commerce and Commerce Cloud Customers

All sessions and the demo zone for commerce will be located on 2nd floor of Moscone West in San Francisco.

Conference Sessions

Commerce attendees can explore best practices and share knowledge with over 20 commerce focused sessions including:

  • Roadmap and release updates
  • An in-depth look at Oracle Commerce Cloud
  • Thought-leadership sessions featuring Oracle Strategy Experts
  • Customer Panels featuring both Oracle Commerce and Commerce Cloud Customers
  • Experience Manager and Business Control Center Best Practice Sessions
  • Customer and Partner Case Studies
  • Take part in more than just commerce-focused sessions and explore all that CX Central @ OpenWorld has to offer
[Read More]

Thursday Aug 06, 2015

The Dos and Don’ts of Visual Commerce – It’s all about balance.

After my last post on what visual commerce actually means, I decided to start a list of some do’s and don’ts when working with visual content on commerce sites. With global B2C ecommerce sales expected to reach $1.7 trillion in 2015 the stakes are high for companies to out-pace their competition. Visual commerce is one area that companies are betting on to help get them to the front of the pack. I plan to keep updating this list but here is a start – feel free to add to the discussion in the comments!


Mix social + product content

Mixing in imagery and reviews from social media sites can help consumers see your product(s) in a different light, but don’t rely solely on social content. Consumers still want to see your product up close through product imagery and need to know the specifics that only you can provide – what colors/sizes are available? What are the dimensions? Etc. Mixing these types of content on your site will allow consumers to discover everything they need to know all in one spot.

Use video and interactive content when possible

Beyond imagery, consumers want to see products in action. In fact, according to TV Page, brands are seeing a 79% increase in conversion rates after [consumers] watch a video. And, while videos are able to help your customers visualize how your product works or how it will look – remember to make conversions easy by embedding links directly to your product so consumers can purchase. At the very least, lead them to your home page or a category page if you are worried about managing inventory or having to frequently update your videos.

[Read More]

Thursday Jul 30, 2015

Branded manufacturers ready for next-gen direct to consumer eCommerce sites

The last couple of years brought a crop of first-generation websites from manufacturers going direct to consumer. After some initial hesitancy, big names in apparel, electronics, footwear, and cosmetics launched branded sites that were fairly basic compared to their retail predecessors (and anxious channel partners). During their short online evolution, these brands have narrowed in on how their eCommerce site fits in to their overall company strategy – and are seeing great results.

In recent conversations with brand manufacturers, there are consistent themes across verticals when it comes to direct-to-consumer eCommerce:

  • The vast majority of brands with transactional sites have met or exceeded revenue targets.
  • While it can still be touchy, many have discovered ways to alleviate channel conflict with omnichannel capabilities.
  • To most brands, it simply doesn’t matter how consumers choose to buy their products (although nothing beats direct to consumer margins). Many are in the process of aligning their organizations to measure overall revenue, rather than dissecting who gets sales credit.

Brands are looking back with some relief that direct to consumer eCommerce is paying off across channels, and are energized to figure out how the next rev of their site can drive more results company-wide. Even luxury brands (the last eCommerce holdouts) are realizing the opportunity, with Chanel, Tom Ford and Fendi announcing that they are going transactional this year.

So where should brands focus their next-generation eCommerce sites?

1. Remember the role of the site in the overall business

The site should serve as the brand’s authentic voice, with the goal to get consumers to fall in love with the brand experience and it’s products. Brands selling online are realizing the nuances of research, shopping, and ongoing engagement. Those having the most success understand that the site must cater to various goals, and that shoppers may choose to purchase their products anywhere.

2. Unite storytelling and selling

Creating a destination site where visitors can research, buy, or engage with the brand is all about unifying content and commerce to support sales in all channels.

The site must be optimized for the most common task: consuming content. The ability to purchase products should be woven in to editorial content. Investing in product content will inspire shoppers to make informed purchases in any channel. Cultivating amazing product content like glossy images, videos, downloads, and optimizing site content for scannability should be a core focus of the site.

One of the greatest benefits of a branded site is the direct relationship the manufacturer gets with end users. Brands must include social elements to engage consumers in active dialogue, allowing shoppers to serve as an advocate loving their products. Burberry does this incredibly well. Email and social marketing are other major areas of investment, channeling users to the website as the hub of activity. Mining the data social and marketing brings will improve experiences on-site and company-wide.

3. Elements of exclusivity.

Why would a consumer come to a branded website versus shopping with a retailer? There needs to be a draw – whether that’s amazing content, exclusive products, or interactivity.

Where’s the only place you can design your own custom Jordans? Nike has figured out how to create an online experience that attracts loyal brand advocates with unique experiences and exclusive products.

Personally, I go to branded sites to see the full range of product, whether it’s jeans or car seats. A manufacturer’s eCommerce site is usually the only place to research and purchase from the entire product line (versus a subset of SKUs in retail).

Selling products on a branded site that are not sold in retail helps to alleviate channel competition, and also serves as a platform to test new products, sell limited edition goods, and reduce inventory with special sales.

4. Simplify buying anywhere

No matter when and how they want to buy, invest in features that make it seamless for shoppers.

  • Mobile: Many retailers prioritize mobile and tablet experiences over desktop, and for manufacturers, this is an absolute must. These site visitors are deep in to product research, want inspiration, or want to purchase an item easily. Make sure the site is Responsive, search is optimized, and checkout is streamlined.
  • Omnichannel: Allow shoppers to transact however they please and fulfill in a variety of ways. Let them buy online, buy online and pick up in store, and provide a Store Locator to use retailers as a fulfillment channel (making them happy). Brands can also automatically redirect to retailer sites if their merchandise is out of stock. Make it easy for shoppers with orchestration between order, fulfillment, and inventory systems.
  • Market expansion: Expansion in to new markets is a big growth area for brands in the next year. Making eCommerce storefronts available in regions without retail stores is an opportunity to quickly experiment with new products, markets, and pricing.

Direct to consumer eCommerce will continue to be a disruptive force. Consumers increasingly want to know who’s behind the products they’re buying. Meanwhile, brands need to band together with their channel partners to create stellar customer experiences that drive positive company-wide results. Brands who come out on top will make it incredibly easy (and enjoyable) for consumers to get to know them and buy their products. 

Thursday Jul 09, 2015

It’s Time to Get Omni-Geo: Applying Omnichannel CX Rules to International Selling

eCommerce growth in the more mature European markets has plateaued and many brands are looking to new country markets to achieve continued sales growth. But dealing with customer expectations becomes trickier as brands expand internationally. The headaches around offering shoppers a seamless, omnichannel experience on home territory simply multiply with each new country market.

Shoppers won’t understand if a product isn’t available to them when it’s available to customers in another country. The same is true of promotions, and delivery options.  Shoppers may expect to place an order using a money-off coupon in one country and collect from a store in another country, while adding points to their loyalty card. They won’t understand why that’s not possible – it’s all through the same brand after all.

Some brands try to tackle this issue by not allowing customers to see other country websites at all by geo-blocking, i.e. blocking access to websites based on location, or diverting the page back to a local browser - a practice which only further frustrates consumers.

So why don’t all the rules that apply to omnichannel – such as brand consistency, service offerings and stock consistency – also apply across geographical borders too?

[Read More]

Thursday Jun 25, 2015

Visual Commerce – Content + Commerce Evolved

Unlike a lot of folks around my age who are migrating toward city living and fighting a move to the suburbs, my husband and I recently took the opposite approach.  With a toddler, a massive dog, and a baby on the way, we made the decision to pick up our life in Boston and move to a more laid-back (read: less expensive) place to call home - Montana.   There have been many positives to the move, but one major downside is the lack of local retail options I’d become accustomed to in Boston.  I’ve always been a big fan of shopping online for items such as clothes and make-up but I was use to being able to go into a store to touch and feel bigger purchases – like furniture, sporting equipment, etc.

As if the move wasn’t complex enough, we purchased a home that needs a complete renovation.  If you’ve ever gone down the renovation path, you know it requires lots of imagination, creativity, and of course new, big purchases – everything from cabinets to light fixtures to furniture.  How was I going to do this with the limited options of physical retailers in my area?  Luckily, a lot of brands are taking the next step with their online sites to improve the experience, but I was surprised by how many brands still don’t incorporate anything more than standard product shots to help shoppers make decisions.    

In my quest for the perfect new purchases for my house I started thinking a lot about the types of experiences brands are offering to bring their products to their customers so they can visualize how the product looks, feels, and functions while shopping online.   I want to see what that new couch will look like in my living room, know how the motion activated on/off feature of the facet works…you get the picture.   The term visual commerce is used often to describe this type of content or experience but what does that actually mean?

[Read More]

Wednesday Sep 03, 2014

Oracle Commerce is Open for Business at OpenWorld 2014

There are a lot of great reasons for new Oracle Commerce customers and legacy ATG / Endeca customers to attend OpenWorld later this month. Oracle Commerce has scheduled more than 25 sessions presented by leading customers and implementation partners, as well as product management and consulting services.

Commerce @ CX Central—Moscone West, Floor 2
We know how important it is for attendees to  connect with Oracle product experts, implementation partners, and customers with similar interests and challenges. Therefore, all Oracle Commerce sessions will be consolidated on the second floor of Moscone West. Commerce @ CX Central will be the headquarters of all things Commerce at OpenWorld.

Commerce Kick-Off and General Session

  • “Commerce at Oracle: Commerce + CPQ Cloud Vision and Strategy,”  Tuesday at  10:15 a.m. and 12 noon, Moscone West, Room 3003 [TGS8714]
  • “The Future of Oracle Commerce: Roadmap and Release Update,” Tuesday at 4:15 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., Moscone West, Room 3003 [CON7518]

[Read More]

Tuesday Apr 08, 2014

2014 B2B Commerce Survey Reveals B2B Businesses Continue to Struggle With Complexity While Increasing Focus on the Customer to Drive Growth

The results are in!  We surveyed B2B commerce IT and business professionals to see where their organizations have invested in the last year, challenges they are facing, and key investment areas for 2014 and beyond.  Here are some of my key take-aways from this year’s survey:

Complexity grows in 2014 as businesses strive to increase market share
B2B organizations have always operated in complex environments – even before the internet came along.  Now having to contend with new and growing digital channels opens up new forms of complexity. 28% of survey respondents support 10 + brands / websites online and 31% support 5 + languages adding to the complexity of their business.  Complexity across pricing, products, channels, online experiences, and back-end systems all remain a challenge for businesses selling to other businesses through digital channels with 98% of respondents dealing with complexity in their org. 

Online channel drives revenue in 2013 BUT is expected to take an even bigger piece of the pie in 2014
There is still a lot of opportunity for growth with only 39% of respondents seeing 20% or more of their revenue coming from the digital touch points.  Survey respondents agree with 86% expecting at least 5-10% growth online in 2014.  But, how will businesses achieve growth in their online channel?  Many respondents believe that their customers are looking for key capabilities such as custom pricelists, search & navigation, and mobile web/apps when buying online.  To provide these features B2B organizations are making a higher investment in their commerce infrastructure and multi-channel tools. 

Customer satisfaction not only a priority in 2014, but a key success metric
Growing market share was the top priority in 2013 and still is for 2014, but other company-centric priorities of 2013, such as growing profit margins, have shifted to include more customer-focused areas such as customer loyalty and retention and increasing the cross-channel experience.  For example, only 8% of respondents said customer loyalty and retention was their top area of focus in 2013, but 45% said it was going to be one of their top priorities in 2014.  And, 28% of respondents say they measure customer loyalty as a key measure of success.   The impact that B2C experiences are having on B2B expectations still remains important in 2014 with 77% of respondents agreeing that customer expectations have changed due to B2C practices. 

Mobile is now table stakes for customer experience, but not yet driving significant direct revenue
Mobile is no longer a nice to have in B2B but is beginning to be a must have to meet customer expectations.  40% of respondents said that mobile is a key capability B2B buyers need but only 2% of respondents said that mobile is drove significant revenue in 2013.   I predict that mobile will begin to be a key revenue driver for B2B commerce in 2014.   Do you agree?  

Want to see the complete survey results, click here to join a live webcast April 16th.
[Read More]

Thursday Feb 06, 2014

Now Available! Oracle Commerce Version 11 -- What's New?

It’s here! Oracle Commerce Version 11

Oracle Commerce Version 11 is an exciting release because we’ve taken what’s possible in customer experience and business tooling to the next level. Our customers are already delivering the most innovative omni-channel experiences today, but V11 enables them to push the boundaries of their omni-channel commerce vision and keep up with changing consumer and market demands like never before.

From the end-shopper’s perspective, V11 is all about delivering relevant, persistent commerce experiences wherever they are. From an internal operations perspective, V11 makes creating and scaling these experiences simpler. 

We’ve made strategic headway toward unifying commerce, content and experience, so that our customers can deliver great experiences regardless of whether shoppers are looking to buy, explore a brand, or discover products. We’ve made it simpler and faster for our customers to get live. And our flexible and battle-tested platform puts even more control in the hands of business teams and supports continuing innovation.

The Oracle Commerce V11 release continues four major themes, which are in direct response to challenges our customers have shared with us:

·       Synching Commerce, Content & Experience
·       Simplified Business Tools
·       Greater support for Omni-channel Commerce
·       Integrations

[Read More]

The place to get informed about customer experience and how it impacts your success.

Stay Connected

Subscribe to our RSS feed.


« December 2015