4 ways to future-proof your business by using the right subscription tools

No one can predict the future. But as economic uncertainty and major data tracking changes loom, now is an important time for brands to prioritize future-proofing their businesses by developing strategies to minimize the effects of any potential downturns. Recurring revenue from subscription models can be a great way to generate predictable, long-term income. As a best practice, focusing on maintaining solid relationships with customers and ensuring a superior customer experience will help retain them in the long run. During hard times, it will be the most loyal customers who stay committed to your brand. Plus, with acquisition costs rising, focusing on retaining current customers is a much more sustainable option. In this post, we’ll share how you can future-proof your business by building a strong subscription model that attracts subscribers and show you the tools you need to do it. 1. Focus on Subscribers First, rely on subscribers, as they are the most loyal and valuable customers who chose your brand over numerous competitors. Keeping these customers is critical for brands, as it is much less resource-intensive than acquiring new customers. Build your growth strategy around gaining subscribers’ trust, delighting them with exclusive membership perks, and allowing them to advocate for your brand. Throughout the subscription experience, provide flexibility and transparency to establish trust with customers. Specifically, demonstrate transparency by displaying details of what the subscription program entails, emphasizing that customers have the authority to change, skip, or cancel their subscription at any time. You can offer the most relevant subscription options by analyzing customer buying behavior data; for instance, monitor your customer’s average frequency selection when deciding which subscription option should be defaulted on the product page. Offer flexibility from the beginning by allowing customers to adjust the cadence in which they would like to receive the product and how much of it. Letting customers choose the quantity and frequency of their subscriptions solidifies this trust. Your customer won’t feel like they have to fully unsubscribe because they can mold the subscription program to their specific lifestyle, ultimately increasing your retention. That way, you’ll avoid losing valuable customers just because they needed fewer products during a certain month. [tip]See how brick-and-mortar staple Grind scaled DTC sales 50x in 3 months through subscription selling.[/tip] 2. Create a Brand Engagement Hub Transform your brand’s customer account portal into an engagement hub to increase retention and lifetime value for subscribers. Providing access to a consistent, branded customer portal helps develop strong relationships with customers which plays a critical role in retaining them long-term. Customize your customer’s account portal to adhere to your brand guidelines and craft an experience that aligns with the products that you are selling. Intuitive, straightforward tools built directly into the portal empower customers to serve themselves independently and make them more likely to continue doing business with you rather than switching to a competitor. Frictionless account management gives customers the opportunity to manage their subscription journey the way they see fit with intuitive options to gift, skip, swap, or send now. Having an easy customer support function within the customer account portal is mutually beneficial for your brand and your customers, as it saves your Customer Service team’s time and leaves customers satisfied. Typically, customers would rather solve an issue on their own without needing to contact a customer service representative. So saving them time and avoiding any frustrations further decreases the likelihood of them churning. 3. Build Brand Champions Take your subscriber’s loyalty and expand on it as much as possible with customer loyalty features that give customers a reason to come back. This includes subscriber-only promotions and discounts, exclusive gifts, early access to new products, and one-time add-ons. As a best practice, use retention data to create a strategic subscription program. For example, use a retention cohort analysis to determine if you are offering too high of a discount on first subscription orders. Merchants may find customers canceling their subscriptions after the first order when the subscriber discount is too high. By keeping a pulse on these metrics, merchants are able to course correct by getting rid of large, upfront discounts and instead, reward subscribers based on loyalty. Help improve average order value by placing strategic upsells based on data that identified top-performing products or products commonly purchased together. Then recommend these products for a tailored customer experience. Offer early releases of new products and allow loyal subscribers to give feedback, making them feel even more special and valued as customers. Try giving subscribers “X% off of their X order,” free products with orders, or birthday gifts. Create brand awareness with referrals and gifting features built directly within the account portal. Aim to get loyal customers to continue to buy your products, buy more products, and gift products so that your brand awareness extends to friends and family. Many brands take advantage of referrals like “Give X, Get X,” where if you refer a friend, you each receive a discount. Not only does this ensure that subscribers directly benefit from their referrals, but also that friend now has the ability to try your product and later on subscribe themselves. This creates champions of your brand who continue to spread the word and love to friends and family. 4. Littledata and Smartrr Having subscription management software that fits with your main data reporting tool is critical in subscriptions. Google Analytics and server-side tracking give you the first-party tracking you need to understand your buyers and make data-driven decisions that benefit your store. You can use a subscription tracking service to see complete sales data, including one-off purchases, subscriptions, and refunds. Using Littledata and Smartrr as your subscription management and analytics stack allows you to: Calculate marketing attribution for all transactions, including recurring orders Set up custom dimensions to calculate LTV Use information to strategically use upsells, gifting, add-ons, and more Send Smartrr subscriptions data to Facebook Ads via the Facebook Conversions API Conclusion Each of these strategies helps to build a solid foundation to retain customers and ultimately, future-proof your business. Make strategic business decisions by tracking the key performance indicators that drive your business, such as average order value, sales by specific product, churn over time, lifetime value, and subscription revenue growth. Retain customers by crafting a seamless experience through a consumer-focused subscription program with an intuitive account portal that includes features to engage subscribers and build brand champions. Retaining your highest lifetime value customers will help solidify recurring revenue from subscription models and ensure predictable, long-term income. This is a guest post from Anna Jacobson, Marketing Associate at Smartrr—the premium subscription app for DTC Shopify brands. Built with your end consumer in mind, Smarter increases brand engagement and LTV with a variety of out-of-the-box subscription models, a beautifully branded subscriber account experience, member-only benefits, and more.

2022-08-30

How to recover more failed payments with detailed ecommerce analytics

Question for the day: If your subscription business could recover failed payments, how much would that add to your monthly revenue? Ah, failed payments—the bane of subscription businesses and membership sites. Unfortunately, these happen more often than one might think. In fact, a 2020 study from LexisNexis Risk Solutions reported that failed payments have cost the global economy an estimate of $118.5 billion in fees, labor, and lost businesses. Pretty alarming, right? When a payment fails, it means your business just lost revenue. Right there and then. Plain and simple. However, here’s some good news: not all failed payments are lost causes. Read on to learn more about how your brand can recover failed payments. Why do payments fail? Did you know that you’re losing 10% of your revenue due to failed payments? Let’s take a look at the most common causes behind failed payments: The credit card has already expired The customer’s credit card is already at the maximum spending limit The credit card used or payment method doesn’t have a sufficient balance The payment gateway has detected suspicious or fraudulent activity and blocked the card or payment method from being used Human errors such as incorrect card number typed or typographical error All of the reasons listed above have one thing in common: they are all involuntary. The customers didn’t do this on purpose. In fact, there’s a big chance that they may not even be aware that their payment failed. How can you recover failed payments? Since most of the reasons for failed payments are involuntary, the possibility of recovering your lost revenue is high—if you play your cards right. Here are three strategies to help recover failed payments. Set up a dunning email automation Dunning emails are the automated emails sent when customers’ payments fail. These emails remind your customers to settle their pending payments—usually in sets of three to five emails. There are also various dunning software options that can help bigger companies set up and monitor their dunning attempts. But while dunning emails are a good attempt to recover failed payments, some business owners are not comfortable with this strategy—mostly due to their own bad experiences of receiving badly written dunning emails. Here’s a tip: Create a personal approach, and avoid sounding too generic or even robotic. Personalized emails can give you higher transaction rates (up to six times). Plus, badly written dunning emails can result in customer complaints after multiple follow-ups instead of the desired outcome of recovered revenue. Reach out via outbound recovery calls and emails Some businesses prefer doing manual outbound calls or emails instead of setting up an automated system. For example, start-ups and smaller companies usually do this because their outbound specialist can still handle the number of “lost” customers. Though it can be tedious and time-consuming, the greatest advantage of this strategy is the amount and quality of personalization you can put into the customer experience. If you are considering this strategy, here are some quick tips for outbound calls and emails: Identify the customers to reach out to and familiarize yourself with their profile and their customer journey so far. Review the individual customer’s subscription and payment history. Take note of two things: why the payment failed and the last dunning email the customer received. Use this information for a super personalized conversation when you call your customer or when you send out an email. Use the opportunity to build an actual conversation so you can guide your customers through the process of payment. [tip]If you can’t reach your customer via phone call and if they are not responding to emails either, try leaving a voicemail message. Don’t forget to leave a number they can call back if they want to.[/tip] Outsource failed payment recovery specialists As your business grows, the instances of failed payments will also go up. While reasons will vary from technical issues, involuntary churn, or suspicious acts—it will get to a point where it will be too tedious for you to handle. At the same time, you can’t just ignore the slew of failed payments. So what should you do? Consider hiring a failed payment recovery specialist who can solely focus on handling the entire recovery process. They can also implement outbound communications via email, chat, or phone to expand and complement your existing dunning system. Because a specialist can focus on recovering failed payments, you can focus on other aspects of your business such as strengthening your customer retention strategies, product development, and operations. How to use ecommerce analytics to recover more failed payments Regardless of the strategies you choose to execute, you will need to assess, monitor, and evaluate the results by looking at the numbers. That way, you’ll know what’s working and what’s not so you can figure out the payment recovery strategy that works the best. Here’s where data tracking and ecommerce analytics come in: Check your customers’ purchase and engagement history so you can further personalize your approach. Review recurring charges and subscription product performance to pinpoint the exact instance of the failed payment. Access demographics of your churned customers to have a better understanding of how to reach out to them. For example, their location will give you an idea of the best times to call them. One important thing to note: data tracking and analytics are not limited to the recovery process. With access to powerful and comprehensive data, you can set up your entire customer lifecycle strategy to be data-driven. You’re not just moving around blindly trying strategy after strategy. You’ll be moving along efficiently with strategies that are backed by data. Here are some examples of how you can maximize a data analytics platform: Study your churn rate patterns by comparing numbers from different time periods. Pinpoint the reasons for churn to see if there’s a recurring reason that you can tackle. Analyze demographics, purchase behavior, and marketing channels to determine where revenue comes from. Connect the platform with your other tools. Littledata, for example, integrates with Shopify, BigCommerce, and even Recharge. Get an overall view of how your eCommerce store is really doing—so you can act accordingly depending on what’s needed. The better your customer experience is, the less you’ll have to worry about customer churn. While failed payments may still occur, your brand already has an established relationship with your customers. Recovering your lost revenue will be a much smoother process. Wrap up: Use eCommerce analytics as your strategy’s foundation Data is literally power and knowledge at your fingertips. Start making better business decisions with accurate data across all touchpoints and channels. Combine Littledata and Recover Payments and start recovering more failed payments—you’ll be surprised at how much more revenue there is. This is a guest post from Regina Ongkiko, content writer at LTVplus. She is passionate about creating content that provides value and impacts businesses. You can read more of her work at reginaongkiko.com. She loves getting her inspiration and ideas from the great outdoors.

2022-08-23

10 simple strategies for reducing CAC for Google Ads campaigns

Is your business feeling the squeeze of the current economic climate? With costs rising across the board, profit margins are shrinking. The last thing you want to be doing is handing over a huge slice of what’s left to Google, especially when costs per click were going up long before everything else! In this article, we’ll look at ways of reducing CAC (customer acquisition cost) for Google Ads campaigns. We’ve got some simple strategies to help you preserve your margins or even improve them to drive growth for your business. What is Google Ads CAC? Let’s first set out what we mean by Google Ads CAC. Your customer acquisition cost is the amount it costs you to get a new customer from your Google Ads. Google Ads metrics like CPA (cost per action) and CPC (cost per conversion) factor in only your ad spend. Remember your CAC for Google Ads actually includes all the spend that goes into your ad campaigns, including design, copywriting, salaries, commissions, and admin. How to calculate Google Ads CAC Before starting to look at ways of reducing CAC for Google Ads campaigns, you first need to know your current CAC. This can be calculated by simply taking the total amount you spend on Google Ads in a particular period and dividing it by the number of new customers acquired via those ads. That gives you the average amount it costs to get a new customer from Google Ads. Keep in mind that it’s the total amount you spend on Google Ads, not your total Google Ads spend. Factor in the things we’ve mentioned above, like the time that’s spent on creating, maintaining and reporting on Google Ads. You’ll need to put monetary values on all of those things in order to accurately calculate your CAC. Strategies for reducing Google Ads customer acquisition costs Let’s take a look at some of the best strategies for reducing Google Ads CAC so you can lower the cost of bringing new customers to your business. 1. Ditch low-performing ads If your Google Ads campaigns are running profitably, it’s easy to bring some low-performing ads along for the ride inadvertently. Dig into the details of your campaigns to find out which ads are bringing in new customers most cost-effectively. Stop ads with high CAC and especially stop those that are not bringing in sales at all. Even for ads that are working well, use split-testing to improve performance. Test colors, copy, calls-to-action, and audience targeting — see what lowers CAC for your ads, then do more of it. 2. Ditch low-performing keywords It is a very simple point, but one worth reiterating: do your keywords actually match your ads? If not, this could be generating clicks on your ads that do not ultimately result in sales. Deadweight keywords that are not driving the right people to your website eat up your budget and inflate CAC. Google rewards ads that already have closely matched keywords with better placements and cheaper clicks, both of which will reduce CAC. So that’s definitely the way to go. To optimize your keywords: Choose keywords that are closely related to your ad intent Check the search terms tab in your Google Ads account every couple of weeks, adding low-performing terms to your negative keywords list and top-performing search terms to your campaign keywords list Monitor quality score, which is Google’s measure that your keywords match your landing page Use a manageable number of keywords (ideally less than 20) per ad group Don’t let Google Ads settings like broad match keywords undermine your good work 3. Delve into your CAC in Google Analytics Your Google Analytics data could contain the answer to lower Google Ads CAC. Take a look at conversions from your Google Ads campaigns and consider: Which days are best for conversions? What times are best for conversions? Where are new customers based? Which devices do new customers use? Maybe your Google Ads are most successful when targeting people in Belgium using desktop devices on Saturdays. Tailor your ad campaigns to reach the right audience at the right time to reduce CAC. McDonald’s Hong Kong is using this approach to increase app orders. Collecting real-time ecommerce data via Google Analytics 4, McDonald’s used predictive audiences to find the customers most likely to order again within seven days. These predictive audience segments were then exported directly to Google Ads. The resulting campaign increased conversions by 550% and decreased acquisition costs by 63%. [tip]Littledata's Google Ads to Google Analytics connection gives you accurate reporting for better CAC calculations and improved retargeting.[/tip] 4. Improve your tracking If you’re not able to get the sort of data we’ve just discussed from your Google Analytics, you might need to improve your tracking. This will ensure you can accurately determine: Which Google Ads campaign has driven a particular click What that potential customer did when they landed on your site Whether it converted into a sale 5. Tackle your hidden CAC We’ve already discussed how CAC goes beyond CPA, which is the tip of the iceberg. That figure is based on your ad spend — but what about the cost of time and resources managing your Google Ads campaigns? Using Juni’s Google Ads integration you’ll be able to reduce administrative costs with features like Google Ads automatic receipt generation, a centralized overview of your ad accounts in real-time in a single dashboard, and monthly invoices pulled automatically from your account. 6. Create and test landing pages It’s tempting to find an ad that converts, direct people to your homepage or a category page, and wait for the sales to come in. That’s great, but how much higher would your conversion rate be (and consequently how much lower would your customer acquisition cost be) if you created a custom landing page dedicated to the proposition of your ad? Once your landing pages are in place, you can run A/B tests to improve your conversion rate. Map software Radar created a suite of landing pages on which the copy was tailored to the intent of the ad that the potential customer had clicked. The result was a 50% increase in conversions and therefore a huge reduction in their Google Ads CAC. Create further savings by using: Sitelink extensions, which allow you to create links to multiple landing pages within a single ad Image extensions, which places a CTR-boosting image next to your ad Callout extensions, which enable you to add extra text to promote free shipping, discount, price matching and other benefits within your ad 7. Use remarketing Remarketing — the Google Ads version of retargeting — allows you to reach people who have already visited your website via Google’s display network. Warmer leads usually result in a higher conversion rate. That higher conversion rate should translate to a lower CAC on Google Ads. Fintech company IndiaLends used remarketing to reduce its customer acquisition costs by 53%. Just keep in mind that this approach still needs people to find their way to your website initially. 8. Use bidding strategies One way to make your ad budget go further and reduce acquisition costs is to use bidding strategies. There are a range of options for bidding strategies within Google Ads automated bidding. These include enhanced CPC, maximise conversions, maximise clicks, and target return on ad spend (ROAS). Any of these options may offer a route to lower CAC. For something that’s right on the money, experiment with target CPA, which essentially allows you to name the CAC you want to achieve. But remember, Google Ads is not one size fits all. Octopus Energy cut acquisition costs by 36% when it switched bidding strategy from target CPA to target ROAS. There are also third-party apps that will help you to implement bidding strategies. Cosmetics brand Charlotte Tilbury Beauty used Scibids and was able to cut its acquisition costs by 29%. 9. Test user-generated content User-generated content tends to perform better and costs less per click across all platforms. Run tests to see whether this applies to your Google Ads accounts. You could choose to use user-generated content from YouTube videos, customer reviews, Google Seller Ratings, or find another way of incorporating user-generated content within your ads. Danish ecommerce brand Cykelpartner reduced its acquisition costs by 11.14% — saving the business more than €40,000 per year on Google Ads in the process — by incorporating reviews within its ads. 10. Get cashback on your Google Ads spend A simple way to boost ROAS and reduce CAC is to get some of your Google Ads spend paid back to you. That’s exactly what Juni offers. When you pay with your Juni card, you’ll receive 2% cashback for your first 30 days, and up to 1% cashback thereafter. Excellent Sneakers gets more than £1,000 paid into its account every month as cashback on its ad spend. The result is that each click, conversion and customer acquisition costs less than would otherwise be the case. Start reducing your Google Ads CAC now As with any process for optimizing paid media, reducing CAC for Google Ads is going to involve some trial and error. Different brands, products, and audiences need different approaches. You can get to work immediately on some of these strategies and start to build up an idea of what works for you. For some quick wins: Study Google Analytics for useful conversion insights and update your campaigns accordingly Find underperforming ads, mismatched keywords, and other Google Ads basics that are pushing up CAC Create and test landing pages that are closely aligned with specific ad groups, keywords, or campaigns Start earning cashback on your Google Ads spend This is a guest post from Juni, the financial platform built for ecommerce that ties together physical and virtual cards, accounting, analytics and digital advertising platforms, giving businesses a holistic view of their finances. Get 2% cashback on your Google Ads spend for 30 days, and up to 1% cashback thereafter, when you get Juni.

2022-08-16

4 tips for creating a powerful subscription experience

Creating and delivering a memorable subscription experience is a must in today’s competitive ecommerce subscription market. Not only is the market competitive, but the ecommerce subscription model is growing. It's estimated that 54% of online shoppers have subscribed to an ecommerce subscription box. Every touchpoint that a subscriber sees and engages with is an opportunity for your brand to impress your subscribers and drive a lasting impression. Building a strong subscriber experience will help your ecommerce subscription business in a number of areas, including: Growing your brand loyalty. It is estimated that existing customers are 50% more likely to try new products and spend 31% more on average compared to new customers. By creating a powerful brand experience, you instill trust in your brand with subscribers, leading to more loyalty. Differentiating your offer. A generic subscriber experience does little to separate you from the thousands of other competing brands. By creating an engaging subscription experience, you stand out from the crowd and become memorable. Driving growth. By deploying a beautiful, frictionless subscription experience for your subscribers, you make it easier for them to shop with you. Thus, you're driving the growth that you need to take your business to the next level. While working on bringing an ecommerce subscription model to life and building out an experience may seem time-consuming and costly, it is actually just the opposite. Apps like Upscribe help your subscription business deliver a great customer experience and grow through out-of-the-box tools (more on that later). Here are four tips that you can follow to deploy a beautiful, memorable customer experience that drives brand loyalty and growth. 1. Match your subscription experience to your “regular” shopping experience When building an ecommerce subscription experience, you want to make certain what you're creating is connected to the rest of your brand's overall shopping experience. A disjointed experience could create confusion and friction in the eyes of the customer, hindering your ability to convert sales and drive brand loyalty. A mismatched subscription vs. one-off purchasing experience could lead to a few challenges for your brand, including: A decrease in the number of customers signing up for your subscription offering. Consumers could be confused as to what brand they are shopping with or may encounter friction going through the checkout process if the subscription experience feels different than the “regular” checkout process they're accustomed to. Increased churn. The enemy of any ecommerce subscription model is churn. If you're deploying a fragmented customer experience that makes it challenging for a subscriber to get what they want when they want it—they're more likely to churn from your subscription offering too. Less brand advocacy. If your ecommerce subscription model is delivering a sub-par experience, your subscribers will be less loyal to your brand and will be far less likely to tell their family and friends about it. Referrals play a large factor in growing your revenue, as it is estimated that customers acquired through referrals have a 37% higher retention rate than those acquired through other mediums. Having a brand that drives a high number of referrals puts less strain on your acquisition funnel which saves your brand valuable budget. Creating an ecommerce subscription model for your business may seem daunting, but it's actually rather easy to do. Assuming that you have an existing ecommerce business, you don’t need to build an entirely new website when adding a subscription model to it. Think of creating a subscription model the same way that you would think about adding a new product. Make sure that new product is part of the brand that you have built and that purchasing the new product (or in this case the subscription) follows the same process and path as purchasing any other item on your site does. The more connected your experiences are, the more seamless it will be for your existing customers to become subscribers. [tip]Learn how to track subscriptions in the Shopify checkout and improve the shopping experience for your customers.[/tip] 2. Build an on-brand customer portal As a fast follow to creating a connected experience, the subscriber customer portal that you deploy must match your brand aesthetics. This includes adding your brand's fonts, colors, and logos. We don't advise deploying a customer portal that has a different look and feel than the rest of your website experience. If you go down this path, it will negatively impact your brand loyalty as subscribers will be confused about what your brand looks and feels like. Creating an on-brand subscriber portal allows you another opportunity to build brand recognition and drive loyalty by enforcing what your brand looks and feels like. Plus, creating this on-brand customer portal for your ecommerce subscription business is relatively straightforward. As an example, by leveraging Upscribe's WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor, a merchant can easily select their brand colors, logos, and fonts to deploy a beautiful customer experience in a matter of minutes. No need to worry about complicated, time consuming and costly coding customizations to the portal. Because Upscribe was built from a subscriber's perspective, all of the tools in the Upscribe tool kit are designed to make merchants look professional and save time. [tip]Discover 3 ways to better your subscription sales through a combination of the right strategies and tools.[/tip] 3. Make the subscription experience frictionless While aesthetics are important and highly visible, it’s just as important that the actual subscription experience is as frictionless as possible. Not only will this make subscribers' experience better—it also helps to reduce the customer support debt your team could face. We’ve all been locked out of an account or forgotten a password. In fact, a recent survey indicated that 65% of respondents will forget a password unless they write it down. Prevent this issue from happening in the first place by enabling Passwordless Login for subscribers in just a few clicks. Once enabled, when a subscriber wants to get into their account, they will get a secure email sent to their inbox and with a click they can login to their account, no password or headaches required. Similarly, it’s important that you meet subscribers where they are and let them manage their subscriptions directly from email or SMS. This reduces the friction of them needing to navigate complicated processes to add or edit a product in their subscription. Removing as many hurdles as possible so that buyers get what they want fast is the key to creating a frictionless and memorable experience. By implementing these tactics, you will be doing your part in creating a loyal and growing subscriber base. You'll also be more likely to see a jump in the metrics that matter most for your ecommerce subscription business, including average order value (AOV) and customer lifetime value (LTV) since you will be making it simple for your subscribers to add items to their subscription. [tip]Learn to leverage these metrics and more with our complete guide to subscription analytics.[/tip] 4. Leverage your data to deliver subscribers smart recommendations Whether you use Klaviyo or another email service provider, customer data is more readily available than ever. However, it is not enough just to have access to the data. It’s important that you use your customers' data to deliver smarter, more personalized recommendations to them to make their subscription experience better. Doing so will not only grow your business, it will make your subscribers more loyal. Here are a few examples of ways you could engage with your subscribers to deliver them a more personalized and memorable experience: Send them a message on the anniversary of the first time they purchased a subscription from your brand. This small engagement point can go a long way in making a subscriber feel special and is a great way to differentiate your ecommerce subscription model from other competitors. Provide subscribers a discount on an item that goes well with their subscription. For example, if they subscribe to receive a pound of coffee every month, send them a coupon for a new coffee mug. In the message with the promotion, talk about how the mug is the perfect accessory to go along with their coffee. Give subscribers access to an exclusive pre-sale only for subscribers. This will not only make them feel wanted and special, but it will also give you the opportunity to increase subscriber LTV—a metric that every ecommerce subscription business is after. These touchpoints and sample engagement tactics are ways to show your subscribers that they matter. Even better, they allow you to prove to them that they aren’t just another “one” of your customers. These tactics are simple to try, but go a long way in building your brand, developing loyalty, and creating an experience that subscribers won't forget. Creating a memorable experience that fosters loyalty from subscribers and charges your ecommerce subscription experience has never been easier than with Upscribe. Upscribe gives you all of the tools that you need to grow your subscriber business and deploy a beautiful customer experience in a matter of clicks. Dan is the Marketing Lead at Upscribe. Prior to Upscribe, he spent time at Klaviyo and Shopify. When he is not working, he likes to run, golf and work on his side hustle business, a sock brand named Neon Bandits.

2022-07-28

How to improve multichannel order fulfillment

Going multichannel is an important step for any growing ecommerce business. Whether you start on Shopify, Etsy, BigCommerce, or your own direct-to-consumer store, diversifying to other channels allows you to spread risk, find new markets, meet new customers, and secure your business against changing platform requirements. At the same time, that diversification can introduce a nightmare of logistics issues. Selling through multiple channels can mean overselling, needing overstock to prevent overselling, and other warehousing issues. You might quickly find that your job changes from store manager to warehouse manager. Taking steps to streamline the process will save you time, reduce inventory management headaches, and ensure your customers have a consistent and positive experience – no matter which channel they buy from. In this article, we’ll talk about leveraging outsourced solutions, mastering your distributed order management data, and other fulfillment best practices. [tip]Related reading: 4 tips for Shopify Plus merchants selling internationally.[/tip] Leverage outsourced solutions As your ecommerce store scales, you’ll have to make a decision between investing in inventory and order fulfillment infrastructure or outsourcing it. For most small-to-midsize stores, outsourcing is the way to go. It’s cheaper thanks to economies of scale, faster thanks to enhanced efficiency, and scalable thanks to wider warehouse networks. Many ecommerce organizations don’t have the budget or the resources to set up a fulfillment and distribution network. Relying on a partner that specializes in fulfillment enables you to quickly leverage infrastructure to enable the kind of fast, traceable, and reliable order fulfillment your customers want. Third-party logistics providers Third-party logistics (or 3PLs) include a range of services—all basically amounting to paying for logistics as a service. Often, this includes warehousing, pick and pack, fulfillment, and returns handling. 3PL providers may also maintain a network of geographically distributed warehouses, allowing them to ship products from closer to the point of order. In other cases, they’ll use their own shipping networks as well. 3PLs also offer other advantages, like: Existing warehouse management software and infrastructure Shipping volumes high enough to offer negotiated postage rates from shipping providers Integrated order tracking with automated pick and pack and warehousing management Affordable packaging and labeling capabilities The ability to meet packaging requirements per channel – e.g., Amazon boxes for Amazon sales and Walmart boxes for Walmart sales. Of course, not all 3PL offer the same services. Not every provider will offer a good trade-off between control of inventory and costs. However, you can research and choose an option that suits your business well. How to find the right fulfillment partner Your fulfillment partner should be a partner to your organization. This means they should be able to adapt and make changes for your business, should meet all existing needs, and should have a growth plan in line with your own. In addition, you’ll want to look for: A warehouse management or inventory management system that integrates into your own software solutions AND sales platforms Order tracking capabilities in every market you sell in Support for features/offerings you need (geographic locations, type of inventory, certifications, returns, etc.) Flexible order fulfillment options (so you can offer different types of shipping, different packaging, etc.) Packaging and labeling options (for custom branding, packaging inserts, discounts, return labels, etc.) Data-driven inventory management/analytics (so you can see costs, rate of sale, inventory flow, etc., to better inform your own inventory automation and planning You’ll also want to look for an organization that is communicative, able to respond to your growth, able to adapt features to meet your needs, and otherwise able to be a partner rather than solely seeing your business as another revenue stream. [tip]Littledata provides accurate and deep analytics on every aspect of your store, from the customer journey through to fulfillment and subscription order tracking.[/tip] Marketplace fulfillment solutions In addition to 3PLs, many marketplaces provide their own fulfillment solutions exclusively for purchases made on their platforms. Of these, the most popular comes from Amazon. Fulfillment by Amazon Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is Amazon’s in-house logistics service, which operates globally and is famous for lightning-fast delivery speeds. In addition to excellent customer experience, FBA provides advantages when selling on Amazon. Quality guarantees, boosts to product visibility in search, Amazon returns, and the ability to easily expand to a global market are just some of the benefits. For example, FBA listings can get the Prime badge, indicating the fast fulfillment speeds that consumers look for. However, whereas many 3PLs can accept shipments directly from your manufacturer or provider, Amazon has specific packaging and labeling requirements, so you’ll still have to be hands-on about FBA prep. Master your inventory management While a 3PL will cover fulfillment, you’ll still have to stay on top of inventory and order management. Doing so means adopting good software, deciding on an order management system, and optimizing that over the long term. While there are many options for managing inventory across multiple sales channels, you’ll normally either have to choose between splitting that inventory or using software to synchronize sales in as close to real-time as possible. To split or not to split inventory Splitting inventory is the process of creating a separate inventory or stock per channel you sell on. In some cases, this can be a good idea. For example, if you make sales on Amazon using FBA, you might run into FBA stock limits, especially during the fourth quarter. In addition, stockout events could harm your listing. Plus, if you don’t utilize Amazon’s multi-channel fulfillment solution, FBA only ships to Amazon. In this case, retaining at least some stock to ship from your own warehouse or another provider would be a good idea. You can sell at a higher volume than FBA allows – while preventing selling out of product. In most other cases, it doesn’t make sense to maintain separate inventory pools for each channel you sell on. Separate inventory pools increase costs, add overhead cost calculating delivery per channel, and increase complexity—aka the likelihood of things going wrong. For example, if your product sells more quickly on Walmart Marketplace than eBay, your product could sell out on Walmart. You’d lose sales while more inventory sits, unused, in your warehouse. Similarly, if you’re splitting inventory, you have to buy for peak sales across all channels – meaning you’ll overstock. If something goes wrong or the product loses popularity, you’ll be stuck with a lot more dead stock. For this reason, split inventory is generally avoided unless it has a practical purpose, like trialing a new channel or supplementing FBA. Utilize distributed order management software Distributed order and inventory management software is built to handle the needs of multichannel sales. Often, that means automation that uses API to synchronize inventory across channels – so sales show up in your central inventory management near real-time as possible. Here, tools like Flxpoint offer centralized product and inventory management complete with order fulfillment processes, automation, and data integration for both suppliers and sales platforms. Flxpoint also offers custom price points, categories, and product descriptions per channel, distributed order management to automatically select the warehouse nearest to the customer, and purchase order management with automation linked to total product stock. Tools like this allow you to track sales across channels – ensuring that you don’t oversell – by synchronizing and automating data import/export. When a product sells on Amazon, it updates the central inventory via API, which is then pushed out to update available inventory on all other channels. So, available inventory is always up to date. That same centralization also adds value in direct fulfillment, where orders are pulled into a centralized system and can be managed in one place. Even if you’re running your own warehouse, you can see everything in one location, making it less likely that you’d miss sales going through a less-busy channel. Eventually, that improves your full order fulfillment process, allowing you to get in control of incoming/outgoing, stock, and actual sales data across every channel. Keep an eye on sales trends A good order fulfillment solution and good inventory management software will solve most of the problems you might have with multichannel inventory management. However, there’s always room to improve by auditing sales and acting on predictive trends to optimize your logistics. Audit your sales regularly. Taking the time to understand where sales are actually happening can help you to optimize your warehousing and order fulfillment options. For example, if you know that one product most often sells on Amazon, you could move it to FBA. If you rarely sell it on Amazon, moving it out of FBA could save you significantly while improving your Inventory Turnover rating. If you know where sales are coming from, you can optimize fulfillment for that channel, that geographic location, and more. [tip]Tracking sales trends is easier when you have the right tools, like Segment's robust data reporting source which reports sales data along with detailed insights.[/tip] Invest in a cohesive buyer experience While many channels don’t require that you offer fast shipping, it’s important to offer a cohesive experience across every channel. Customers often research and look up brands across multiple channels. If you offer free 2-day shipping with Amazon Prime, most customers will choose that unless you also offer free 2-day shipping on your other website. That holds true for other aspects of fulfillment like shipping options, free shipping thresholds, customer service offerings, return offerings and other aspects. These should be as cohesive as possible across every platform you sell on – because you’re building a brand not just meeting platform requirements. Wrapping up – streamline your multi-channel fulfillment for better results Ultimately, the key to good multichannel order fulfillment is having all of your inventory management in one place, having good infrastructure with which to support that, and ensuring you have traceability between orders and delivery on every platform. Utilizing a 3PL partner and implementing multichannel inventory management software will get you most of the way there – however, you’ll still want to invest in data management so you can make smarter decisions with that centralized data. Rachel Go is a content marketer and strategist at Flxpoint, an enterprise ecommerce operations platform. Flxpoint enables merchants and brands to unify and automate every aspect of your ecommerce operations, and scale without manual processes or custom development slowing you down.

2022-07-14

How Littledata Helps Velir Shorten Time to Value and Improve the Odds of Project Success

As the VP of Data Activation at Velir, I always encourage my team of analysts and analytics engineers to demonstrate the business value of data as early and often as possible. This helps avoid the ‘data death spiral’ where lack of understanding in a data project’s value can lead to reduced investment and further difficulties in showing value. That’s why Littledata’s ability to reduce the time to value for data integrations has been a critical input to success for Velir and our clients. There’s no better demonstration of this than our joint work building out johnnie-O’s customer data infrastructure. Building the stack johnnie-O is a leading men’s apparel brand that blends East Coast prep with Southern California surf style. After a surge in ecommerce sales, johnnie-O uncovered cracks in its marketing technology stack that were holding it back from its full potential. Its analytics reports were unreliable, and most of its shoppers received a static, non-personalized experience. In response, johnnie-O engaged Velir’s Data Activation team to deploy the customer data platform, Segment, and connect it to Shopify to produce advanced analytics and personalization capabilities. Littledata’s Segment connector saved the day by streamlining the integration and allowing us to bypass what would have been months of planning and development work implementing an ecommerce tracking plan from scratch. The final solution allowed johnnie-O to ingest high quality data into its CDP and revolutionize how johnnie-O understands and interacts with its customers. Getting a deeper dive into data Like many other businesses seeking to become more data-driven, johnnie-O doesn’t have any full-time data engineers on staff. For this reason, Velir recommended tools that provide turn-key integration over those that would require custom development. Included in this recommendation were Twilio Segment, Fivetran, and Littledata. Each of these tools focuses on making high-quality, timely data available to downstream systems with as little setup and maintenance as possible. Similarly, Snowflake was selected as a cloud data warehouse platform because of its low administrative overhead. The final data infrastructure shown below allows johnnie-O to flexibly handle both real-time and batch data workloads with ease. How Littledata links apps together Like other ecommerce retailers, johnnie-O faced challenges in coordinating the number of tools needed for its marketing operations. Twilio Segment is well-known for its ability to seamlessly synchronize data across marketing tools, but building and implementing an ecommerce tracking plan can take several months. During that time, no data is flowing into the CDP which means that no business value can be derived until after the data collection phase is complete. Littledata stepped up to the challenge by providing a full implementation of Segment’s ecommerce tracking specification from day one. This included tracking for events such as: Pageviews Product impressions and clicks Checkout steps Add to cart (server-side) Orders (server-side) Refunds (server-side) With these events in place, johnnie-O was able to forward them to tools such as Google Analytics for website reporting, Klaviyo for personalized messaging, and Power BI for business intelligence reporting. Why server-side tracking matters in data reporting Littledata’s server-side tracking capabilities were especially important to johnnie-O's reporting goals. While collecting order data through client-side JavaScript (like Google’s gtag.js) is possible, the quality can suffer due to variations in user browsers and behaviors. As a consequence, businesses like johnnie-O are often stuck jumping between different reporting systems to view ad performance, revenue, and behavior metrics. With Littledata’s server-side order tracking in place, johnnie-O was able to consolidate reporting in Power BI which had full visibility into orders, returns, behavior data, as well as shipping and other costs. This meant fewer places to look when stakeholders needed to answer questions and higher reliability in the data being presented. [tip]Learn how to create powerful, dynamic ads on Facebook using server-side tracking.[/tip] Conclusion Today, johnnie-O enjoys easy access to customer data for personalization and reporting. Segments of users like "high AOV boys clothing shoppers”, or "gift-givers" can be easily created and targeted with emails, SMS messages, and advertisements. The johnnie-O marketing team is able to unleash their creativity in crafting sophisticated, cross-channel personalized journeys without having to worry about the underlying data integrations. As a result, johnnie-O has seen increased engagement with personalized content and has been able to make smarter decisions about marketing spend and product purchasing. Importantly, johnnie-o has an enterprise-class solution that will keep up with their ambitious growth targets over the years to come. This is a guest post from Adam Ribaudo, who leads Velir's Data Activation Services. His group is focused on helping businesses convert data into business value through data engineering, advanced analysis, and data strategy. He holds a Master's degree in Data Science from Northeastern and has 16 years of experience helping marketers make the most of their marketing technology and customer data.

2022-06-08

How to protect your ecommerce website from cyber threats

Among the many positive things to have increased online since 2020, like entrepreneurship and ecommerce demand, cyberattacks unfortunately remain among the negatives to have increased as well. In fact, the average cost of a single attack increased in 2021 to $4.24 million per breach — in total costing the global economy around $1 trillion. While some companies—ecommerce merchants included—have searched for skilled developers to beef up their cybersecurity, McAfee found in 2020 that only 44% of companies had a response plan ready in case of an attack. With the ecommerce industry continuing to see record growth, strategies on how to protect not only customers but online stores as a whole from cyberattacks have become must-haves for store owners. Below we will discuss why cybersecurity is an essential part of a successful ecommerce website, the most common types of cyberattacks, and learn about the possible solution your business can implement to withstand cyberattacks. Why cybersecurity is important for the ecommerce industry It’s hard to overstate the importance of cyber security because so many things depend on it. Beyond vulnerable company information, your store also holds data on credit cards and other sensitive customer information. The frequency and severity of data breaches have significantly increased since the COVID pandemic, as most companies moved fully remote. IBM found when remote work was a factor in a cyberattack, the cost of the damage increased by $1.07 million compared to attacks when it was not a factor. You might already be familiar with some of the most high-profile cyberattacks, like when hackers gained access to Microsoft and the US Department of Defense’s SolarWinds servers, giving them remote access to users’ devices and sensitive data. In 2020, hackers exposed almost 500,000 Zoom accounts and posted them for sale on the dark web, including customer emails, passwords, personal meeting URLs, and even host keys. Taking everything into account, it’s clear how essential it is to pay attention to cybersecurity and not underestimate the dangers of poor cyber protection. Building a dependable cybersecurity infrastructure brings peace of mind to both your store and your customers. Cybersecurity threats for ecommerce websites Cyberattacks can take on many different disguises, but here are a few of the most common to keep watch for. Financial fraud Financial fraud happens when a hacker accesses your bank account, meaning they can steal money directly or use it for illegal purchases. This kind of fraud also takes place when hackers create fake return requests, leading stores to spend heavily on fraudulent delivery charges. To prevent financial fraud, it’s important not to allow any customer credit card or bank information to be visible at any step in the buying process. Phishing Phishing has long been one of the most popular types of cyberattacks. This kind of fraud uses mass email campaigns with senders pretending to be a legitimate website—most commonly a popular brand or even a social networking site. The emails are designed to trick recipients into entering sensitive data into a fake login or form, handing hackers access to whatever sensitive information lies behind the profile login, and in some cases even bank account details. The best way to help your team avoid this problem is by teaching them how to distinguish fraud messages from legitimate emails and avoid opening them. SQL injection Hackers use an SQL injection—or an injection of malicious code to a website—to get access to a database, then change records or steal sensitive data from it. This type of attack most commonly occurs using a malicious form or link. Because SQL injections pass through existing security measures, they allow hackers to modify, move, or even delete data from your database. Malware and ransomware Malware is a virus that hides in plain sight, pretending to be a legitimate application. Relying on undetectability, they give hackers access to a device and provide a pathway to steal sensitive data. Ransomware specifically is a type of malware that limits or locks users completely out of their access to files—and in some cases, an entire device or network—until the victim pays a ransom to the hacker to remove it. Using a good firewall is a strong deterrent for malware, and it never hurts to add a malware-checking program like Malwarebytes to scan your device for existing viruses. Designated Denial of Service (DDoS) attack DDoS attacks flood a victim's website with requests, making it impossible to access. Regular DDoS attacks can harm a website’s reputation and, in turn, the amount of real traffic it receives. Using a DDoS protection service, like Cloudflare, is the best deterrent here. E-skimming The attacks listed so far are common for many different kinds of websites, but e-skimming is the most popular among ecommerce websites. This occurs when hackers add skimming code to the payment processing page of a store. When a customer enters their payment details on the checkout page and proceeds with payment, hackers capture the information, including all personal data, card details, and account numbers. Preventing e-skimming comes down to keeping your store’s software up to date and strong data management, which we’ll touch on again later. Cross-site scripting Hackers use cross-site scripting attacks (XSS attacks) to insert malicious scripts into websites. These scripts can extract sensitive user data that must be protected by the web application. Often, these scripting attacks are not used for theft exactly, but instead to find out if a website has any vulnerabilities. Cybersecurity solutions to protect your ecommerce website Now that we're aware of the threats, the first step toward protection is done. Next, we need to know how to protect our ecommerce websites and keep both our stores and our customers safe. Here are some of the easiest—and most effective—prevention methods you can use to protect your store. Secure payment gateway If you want to keep your clients’ payment data secure, it’s best not to keep that information in your own database, unless you are sure you have strong security protecting it. Instead, use options like PayPal, Stripe, or Shop Pay, as they have invested in high levels of security for their databases. Multi-factor authentication Multi-factor authentication (MFA) helps keep user data safe by requiring not only a password to log in but additional information only the true account owner would have. Some of the most popular options for MFA include fingerprints, one-time passwords, and authentication codes. SSL certificates Adding an SSL certificate to your website (aka getting the https:// instead of http:// in your URL) encrypts all information shared between your website visitors and your store website. It’s not only essential to avoid browser-based warning screens telling visitors your site may be unsafe, but also helps to decrease the chances of fraud and other cyberattacks on your site. DDoS mitigation DDoS mitigation services like Cloudflare (mentioned above) protect your website from possible DDoS attacks by using specific network equipment connected to the cloud. This helps offload the effect of a DDoS attack to keep your site up and running. Data backup One of the best ways to protect your data is by backing it up regularly. It’s safest to do this on a separate server not located in your company’s office. It’s also a good choice to automate your data backups so you don’t lose anything in case of an emergency. Device encryption Keep your devices updated to the latest software version and encrypt them for better security. The keeps your devices ready and ahead of new potential threats and cyberattacks. Some devices have symmetric encryption that uses one key for the encryption. Using an asymmetric key increases the level of security of your device. Wrap up For ecommerce companies, protecting clients' data is essential. The more secure your store, the more trustworthy you are to any customer. Remember, being aware of the cyber threats described in this article is just the first step. Once you’ve educated your employees on cyber protection, prevention by backing up data, enabling website encryption, and using secure payment methods, should be high priority items for any store that has not already taken care of security. This is a guest post from Iryna Bilyk. Iryna is an expert content marketing manager at YouTeam — a marketplace for instant engineering team extension. She passionately discovers and writes about technology, innovations, and software development solutions.

2022-03-14

How to win with subscription selling on BigCommerce

The era of subscriptions is upon us. Subscriptions are the fastest growing sector in the ecommerce industry and show no signs of stopping. If you’re not selling by subscription yet, now is the time to start. If you are selling by subscription, make sure you’re using the right tools to get the best return on your efforts. Recharge is the leading subscription payments solution to help launch and scale your subscription business on major ecommerce platforms like BigCommerce. Subscriptions help you build meaningful relationships with your customers; Recharge empowers you to make the most of those relationships. Is now the right time to start selling by subscription? The short answer? Absolutely. For a bit more detail why, we can look at a few industry statistics and trends. First, market projections point to the subscription ecommerce industry being worth over $246 billion by 2025 — a greater than 9,400% increase since 2016. Selling by subscription also provides a highly sought after benefit: consistent, recurring revenue. Having a predictable income source frees up time for your management team to focus on planning promotions, investing in future products, and maintaining inventory, all while more accurately projecting profits. What if I’m new to subscription selling? Thanks to the huge amount of growth in the space, there’s no time like the present to jump into subscriptions. In their 2021 State of Subscription Commerce report, Recharge identified that most successful subscription sellers each follow three strategy points: cultivating loyalty, offering flexibility, and choosing the right key integrations. Incorporate these traits into your store, then carve out your niche in the market. Compete on speed, agility, and innovation and you can challenge existing top brands with new, innovative products that make your store unique. Boost retention with flexible BigCommerce recurring billing Customer retention is key to the success of any brand—but for recurring revenue businesses, it’s particularly crucial for maximizing the benefits a subscription business model has to offer. You can increase the lifetime value for your BigCommerce store by reducing churn with Recharge’s subscription payments solution. With Recharge, you can: Reduce churn by allowing customers to freeze deliveries or edit their delivery scheduleAdd special one-time purchases and product swaps so customers get exactly what they needEmploy strategies to improve payment conversions and avoid involuntary churn, such as automatic payment retries and dunning Create custom workflows with powerful APIs What kind of subscription experience do you want to create for your customers? Whatever your vision, Recharge’s APIs help you make it a reality by allowing you to create workflows to customize your subscriptions as much as you like. Looking to incentivize shoppers to sign up for a subscription? Create a free trial workflow. Trying to increase AOV? Build a workflow that offers free shipping once customers hit a set minimum purchase amount. You can even customize the perfect customer portal for your online store. If you’re serious about subscription analytics, though, data and reporting will play an essential role in your success. Measure your performance with data and analytics Data-driven decisions are the most critical part of any strategy toward scaling and growth. Thriving ecommerce businesses depend on accurate analytics to assess customer acquisition strategies, inventory orders, potential product launches, and everything in between. Recharge’s analytics features give you greater insight into what your subscribers want and need so you can meet them where they are and achieve your goals. With Recharge’s enhanced analytics suite, you can: Assess the health of your BigCommerce store through key performance indicators like AOV, LTV, and churn rateAnalyze different customer groups using cohort selection capabilities so you can fine-tune your business strategy to better meet customer needsBuild dashboards to track trends in revenue and visualize your performance in new ways Advanced tracking and reporting in Google Analytics Littledata’s Recharge connection for BigCommerce is an advanced tracking solution for any merchant using GA to get granular data about subscriptions, customer behavior, marketing and customer lifetime value. Once activated, it unifies data in the background using webhooks from BigCommerce and Recharge. Littledata makes it easy and convenient to do Recharge subscription analysis in Google Analytics by setting up dedicated views for first and recurring subscription orders placed via Recharge checkout. Plus, it’s a flexible data platform. Many Recharge merchants use the data Littledata sends in connected tools such as Glew, Tableau and Data Studio. The connection is a plug-and-play solution for advanced analytics, letting you: Automatically track one-off purchases, first-time subscriptions and recurring transactions in Google AnalyticsCalculate marketing attribution for subscription revenueTrack browsing behavior and the check-out funnelImprove marketing attribution with Littledata’s unique combination of client-side and server-side tracking Tip: Learn more about how to take a data-driven approach to subscription commerce in Littledata’s Ultimate Guide to Subscription Analytics. Ready to get started? With the subscription selling market continuing to surpass growth milestones and consumer demand for subscription products skyrocketing, now is the time to establish your subscription selling channel and claim your share of the market. With Littledata and Recharge for BigCommerce, you can make that leap with the tools to power success now and in the future. It’s easy to install both Littledata for BigCommerce and Recharge for BigCommerce from the BigCommerce Apps Marketplace. Once installed, Recharge opens within your store (or you can access it via Apps and selecting Recharge Subscriptions). You’ll automatically be on Recharge’s Standard Plan with the Advantage support plan. Visit the Recharge pricing page to see what’s included in your plan, and to learn more about the Recharge Pro Plan or the Enhanced support plan. This is a guest post from our friends at Recharge.

2022-02-11

Try the top-rated Google Analytics app for Shopify stores

Get a 30-day free trial of Littledata for Google Analytics or Segment