Lunch with Littledata: Q&A with Chad Rubin, CEO of Skubana

This week, we're kicking off a new Q&A-style segment on the blog: Lunch with Littledata! We sat down (virtually) with Chad Rubin, Co-founder and CEO of Skubana, a multi-channel inventory management and ERP software working largely in the Shopify ecosystem. Let's dive right in! Q: How are your customers handling COVID-19? Thriving? In a drought? Somewhere in between? What we're seeing is essentials thrive. Brands that are providing non-discretionary necessities in the household are doing exceptionally well, and that's where we're building our pipeline. But also it's how Skubana has historically been built, through customers selling essential finished goods across multiple channels with multiple warehouses. Overall, what you're seeing in ecommerce is a shift of spending behavior. With quarantine in effect, the only way to purchase right now is online, not in store. So while ecommerce isn't necessarily immune to recessions, given the pandemic, we're seeing customers on the Skubana platform behaving in a way that is inconsistent with what we'd expect in an economic downturn. Q: How has Skubana adapted to the pandemic era? Honestly, as a retail operations platform, we're at the epicenter of this rush to be online and supply this surge in demand. Skubana enables both brick-and-mortar and online purchases, whether that's on Shopify, Amazon, eBay, you name it. As a business, we're also extremely focused on our employees. Once the risk of COVID-19 was made clear in early March, we implemented a company-wide work from home policy. It was the first time we allowed that to happen. And I believe that it's going to become the future of this company, to flourish "remotely." [note]At Littledata, here's why we believe remote work is more productive[/note] We've been able to adapt pretty quickly from a company perspective, but it's not all rosy. We've already had some disappointing casualties from customers who have been on our platform for years. So while there's a lot of momentum and encouragement, there are some cases where customers have closed-up overnight or have sought relief. And we work with those individual customers to help them see this through, given the circumstances. We've been very action-oriented and proactive in our efforts to make sure that they come out of this alive and in business. Q: You also run your own DTC store on Shopify. As a seller, how do you mitigate the costs of unpredictable shopper behavior, both before and after checkout? In addition to co-founding Skubana, I also run a direct-to-consumer home essentials e-commerce business called ThinkCrucial. So it's great that ThinkCrucial is an "essential" business. We supply home appliance parts and accessories. Again, we're right in the epicenter of panic buying, of people stocking up. And a symptom of that could be stock-outs. Luckily, we have  Skubana to forecast the demand, to mitigate if we're running low on certain channels, to allow us to be flexible with inventory deployment, and so on. So that's been just an incredible case study for us. It has automated our entire business and allowed us to be more efficient and resilient. I initially built Skubana because of these issues I was experiencing with ThinkCrucial. I was unable to find a solution that could help me with all of these things at once. Another cool thing that we've done is implement the  Bold Upsell app. Within the Skubana platform, it's easy to identify high-velocity products that people are buying all the time, especially in this environment. And we've been upselling those people with additional products that they should be buying as well. And that strategy has worked very well for us. That's a simple app that we've installed that we didn't have pre-COVID that has increased AOV for us. [tip]Did you know Littledata has an advanced Google Analytics connection for Shopify and Bold subscriptions?[/tip] Q: What are some "hidden" challenges of cross-border ecommerce? And some underrated solutions? First, I just want to shout out one more app that I think we've been leveraging more heavily during this time which is called  Tone. It's a Shopify app that leverages SMS to re-engage customers who abandon their cart. So as people abandon their carts, we've enabled this app to catch that customer that left to get them back into the sales funnel, which also lowers acquisition costs. We've been able to recover lost dollars and lost baskets because of it. [tip]Struggling to reduce cart abandonment? We have you covered[/tip] In terms of cross-border commerce, it's been just business as usual for us. I think everyone's well aware that there are fulfillment delays during this time as warehouse employees are social distancing, and air cargo availability has decreased. The most important thing you can do is make sure you have the infrastructure to enable the movement of parcels. And of course, we use Skubana to make that happen. [tip]4 tips for Shopify Plus merchants selling internationally[/tip] Q: What are some "tricks of the trade" larger stores use (especially those running on Shopify Plus) to handle busy shopping seasons? This virus is preying on weak businesses. We've seen that COVID-19 is having the biggest impact on retailers that don't have their operations buttoned up, and still working with inefficiencies. One of those weaknesses is that people aren't leveraging technology to replace low-value, repetitive tasks. Right now, people should be leveraging any downtime to reinforce and build the foundation of their business with resilient operational software. That means implementing software that is nimble, agile, and not painful to deploy. Software that connects to all of their channels and warehouses to properly forecast and demand plan. That's table stakes right now. On top of that, brands need to focus on technology that facilitates customer connection and retention. You need to reach out to those customers and communicate with them to convert them into buyers. And not just one-time buyers, but consistent repeat buyers, which of course, extends their lifetime value (LTV). We're looking at new apps all the time on Shopify. We already have our foundation built on Skubana, but we're constantly trying to figure out how we "one-up" others and excel or accelerate our progress in this environment. Q: How does ecommerce look different for larger Shopify stores vs. smaller/mid-sized stores right now? So I think this downturn has been beneficial for many small businesses. I see good and bad with these unprecedented circumstances. We know that Shopify stores have been seeing Black Friday traffic every day of this pandemic. Additionally, we saw Amazon restrict certain items to FBA, which ultimately reinforces the need for diversification and a multi-channel strategy. Those that are positioned and diversified across multiple channels that have the right infrastructure to be able to support this uptick have been able to benefit. And a lot of those SMBs have built their sites on Shopify, so I think that's a huge positive for the small to medium-sized businesses.  We saw sellers who focused exclusively on Amazon become significantly affected because they couldn't replenish the products during the FBA block. Also, Amazon didn't let you add new listings to their catalog for some time. So actually, we saw sellers move to Walmart and eBay because they were able to accept new products onto their platform. So a lot of new merchants and brands embraced other channels during this period and opened up. Another thing to note is that Google started offering free product listings. So I think that there might be a shift coming out of Coronavirus to expand as an SMB across many other channels. Q: How important is it to have accurate Shopify tracking & reporting? It's essential. If you're using multiple point solutions, like a purchase order app or a forecasting app, and you're just duct-taping them together, but they were never meant to talk to each other, your data is not going to be accurate. If you're using multiple point solutions, and you're just duct-taping them together, but they were never meant to talk to each other, your data is not going to be accurate. I've tried every other software out there. I developed Skubana out of the pain that I've experienced deploying those other point solutions and those fragmented pieces of software. Having everything in one place is vital so that you're able to ensure your products are in-stock and making you money. It means you are not spending your precious time doing manual labor to calculate how much inventory to reorder, when to buy, where to ship that new inventory to, which vendor needs the most lead time, etc.  [note]Here's how you can get 100% accurate Shopify tracking[/note] Q: How do Skubana customers (merchants) use tracking to optimize performance? When you have a holistic solution for every part of your business, you're able to make more decisive decisions regarding growth, expansion, replenishment, and even cutting back. When you have a holistic solution for every part of your business, you're able to make more decisive decisions regarding growth, expansion, replenishment, and even cutting back. You need to have accurate data not just on orders coming in but on the  inventory available across all warehouses, 3PLs, FBA, and fulfillment operations. Automating that is invaluable. And replacing human labor so you can have your team doing higher-value activities is the name of the game. To survive this, you need a resilient business that can scale as needed. As a retailer, you have to be more efficient with your staff and your business, and that's what Skubana merchants are doing with our platform.   Quick links What you can track with Littledata's Google Analytics app for Shopify Littledata's top-rated Google Analytics app for Shopify Try Littledata free for 30 days (full month of accurate Shopify data)  

by Nico
2020-05-19

Here's what Shopify merchants need to know about CCPA compliance

The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is now in effect, and every serious ecommerce site doing business in the USA should take note. So what do you need to know? The CCPA comes on the heels of a year rocked by privacy scandals and data inhibitions (e.g. Facebook and now Google), and California is the first US state to enact a complex online privacy act that appears to be up-to-date with how businesses actually transact online these days. Other states are expected to follow suit. In the words of the California Department of Justice itself: The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), enacted in 2018, creates new consumer rights relating to the access to, deletion of, and sharing of personal information that is collected by businesses. It also requires the Attorney General to solicit broad public participation and adopt regulations to further the CCPA’s purposes.  We certainly aren't lawyers here at Littledata. But we do help Shopify sites audit their analytics and ensure that no personally identifiable information (PII) is collected by Shopify stores in their Google Analytics setups, including Google Tag Manager (GTM). So while we don't have specific features aimed at CCPA compliance, we do have a number of features designed to help Shopify merchants follow best practices for data collection and reporting. Here's a quick guide to what you need to know about CCPA.   My first dine-in restaurant CCPA notice. Not sure how I feel about it. pic.twitter.com/vU6ZiTCF8o — Jad Boutros (@secplusplus) January 4, 2020 What is CCPA compliance? In short, the CCPA is an attempt at limiting what can be done with consumer data, and making sure that companies don't use it without consumer knowledge. The media has often described the CCPA as California's version of GDPR, the European regulations that went into effect in 2018 (has it been that long already?), but in my view it's actually quite a bit different — both more comprehensive in terms of targeting what's actually done with consumer data after it's been harvested, and more specifically aimed at larger merchants, which in Shopify's case generally means successful DTC brands and others using Shopify Plus. It's clear that the act was written in a state known for both technical innovation and political hardball, though how it will be enforced is an open question. Initially it looks like civil penalties will be limited to $2,500 USD per 'violation' or $7,500 USD per each 'intentional violation'. The act has continued to go through a number of revisions and clarifications, including a number of new modifications posted for review on February 10th 2020. Some of the most interesting, in my view, are attempts at trying to define a 'household' that uses a website. The recent revisions suggest changing this: “Household” means a person or group of people occupying a singledwelling To this: "Household” means a person or group of people who: (1) reside at the same address,(2) share a common device or the same service provided by a business, and (3) are identified by the business as sharing the same group account or unique identifier. It makes sense that they're trying to clarify the end users here. But I wonder: are we going to get to a place where devices are 'people' under the law, corporations are 'people' under the law, and people are...ones and zeros? But I digress. You can read the complete law text of the CCPA online, and the California DoJ has also posted a legal overview with all versions of the law. But I've also included links to useful summaries below — the written law itself is pretty confusing if you aren't a lawyer! Who needs to comply? In short, if you're a larger ecommerce site with customers in California, you need to pay special attention to the CCPA. You are subject to the CCPA if you meet one of these conditions: Have an annual gross revenue of more than $25 million USD Annually buy, sell, receive for commercial purposes, or share for commercial purposes the personal information of 50,000 or more California consumers, households, or devices Derive 50% or more of your annual revenue from selling California consumers’ personal information (yikes!) And if you're selling globally, as are an increasing number of our larger customers here at Littledata, remember that you need to pay attention to privacy laws everywhere you do business. So if you have customers in the EU, remember to pay attention to GDPR for ecommerce sites too. CCPA for Shopify Plus Shopify has put together a number of resources to explain how Shopify complies with the CCPA, including a timeline and white paper. Here are some of the most useful links from Shopify itself: CCPA timeline CCPA thresholds Shopify’s position on sale of personal information How CCPA affects you Processing CCPA data requests And Segment too!   A number of Littledata's enterprise users are also using our Segment connection for more accurate Shopify data.   Check out Segment's quick guide to CCPA compliance, including an outline of their privacy portal and an API for user deletion and suppression (to make sure that you honor customer requests about privacy). Again, it's unclear whom they'll be targeting. California is now the world's fifth largest economy, surpassing even the UK, but nobody's sure if the state will be using CCPA to clamp down on successful DTC brands, for example, or if it will be taking a strategic line against larger fish like Facebook and Google (i.e. what happened in 2018 when seven consumer groups filed GDPR complaints against Google in Europe). Confused? You're not alone. The increasing number of cookie popups and disclosures seems to only be confusing consumers, and nobody — including the businesses putting them in place — is interpreting them in a consistent manner. Part of this is being called a 'plague of popups' and (a la GDPR) 'banner blindness'. But even if you aren't doing $20M a year yet, it's worth a read through the law so you can refer to it with your internal team.  Just like how Littledata doesn't fix historic data for your Shopify store — only your data collection going forward — it's essential to be forward-thinking about potential privacy regulations that might be enacted in the future, taking steps today to ensure smooth sailing later on. Google Analytics consultants are a good place to start. Plus, sometimes it just comes down to common sense. When you're the consumer, how do you want your data handled?

by Ari
2020-02-18

Black Friday discounting increases next season’s purchasing

Black Friday Cyber Monday appears to be big business for ecommerce merchants. But what happens after the promotions? I knew Black Friday had reached ‘late adopter’ stage when a company I’d bought fencing panels from – fencing panels – emailed me their holiday season promotions. But the real question is this: will all these promotions actually drive customer loyalty, or only attract bargain hunters? Looking at the data At Littledata, we looked at aggregate data from 143 retailers who participated most in 2016 Black Friday, versus 143 retailers who did not. For the first 23 days of November 2017 – before Black Friday – the median year-on-year increase in sales was 13% for those pushing discounts the previous year, versus only 1% growth for those avoiding Black Friday discounting *. Our conclusion is that retailers who discounted most heavily on Black Friday 2016 saw a lasting benefit in extra sales a year after the sales period. However, we don’t know whether these extra sales were profitable enough to pay for the seasonal promotions. Another possible explanation is that higher-growth retailers are more active in marketing Black Friday, but in either event the discount season has done them no harm over the following year. Looking at 2016, it seems Black Friday was bigger than the year before for our cohort of 270 UK retailers – but at the expense of sales later in the season. Yet in the UK, we are not close to US levels of hysteria yet, where a much greater proportion of the last quarter’s sales are done on that weekend. What sectors does Black Friday affect? The other interesting question is what sectors does Black Friday affect? It may be a surprise that the biggest boost of over 100% average increase in sales comes for Health & Beauty stores, whereas technology and computer stores saw an average boost of 40% for the week. The graph below shows the difference with the average sales volumes in November & December 2016, by sector, for 3 selected weeks: Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised by those fencing panels: business and industrial sites saw a big boost too! Interested in tracking online sales activity for your own site this holiday shopping season? Littledata's ecommerce analytics software provides accurate data and automated reporting to help you track promotions and drive conversions and customer loyalty. [subscribe] *The statistical detail I took a group of 573 retailers we have tracked for at least 2 years, and looked at the ratio of Black Friday weekend sales (Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday) to the 2 month average for November and December. Those in the top quartile (trading 2.6 times above average during the Black Friday season) were deemed to have participated; those in the bottom quartile, showing a dip in trading over that weekend were deemed not to have participated. I then looked at the year-on-year growth in revenue between November 2016 (first 23 days) and the same period in November 2017, for the discount versus non-discount group. A t-test between the groups found an 18% probability that the two groups had the same mean, not allowing us to dismiss the null hypothesis. [note]This Black Friday ecommerce strategy post was originally published in November 2017 but has since been updated.[/note]

2019-11-11

How much does customer engagement affect conversion rate?

Whether you're using Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, Salesforce Commerce Cloud or another ecommerce platform, it's crucial to drive high traffic volume to your site. But important as it may be, it's not the deciding factor between a sale and a cart abandonment. If your traffic doesn't convert, the volume of traffic doesn't matter. Customer attraction is only half the battle — customer engagement, however, is what leads to higher conversion rates, which means more product sales for your store. Conversions are the lifeblood of product marketing. So your main goal is not attraction, but persuasion — collecting an email for lead generation or retargeting, completing customer transactions, getting signups up for your newsletter or anything else of measurable value for your store. As a merchant, you know conversions are the name of the game. You'd think every merchant would have it down to a science. In fact, the data suggests otherwise. What's a healthy conversion rate? While your average ecommerce conversion rate will vary by product type, price point, location of sale and other factors, here are some reliable industry benchmarks we've nailed down: Just recently, our team surveyed 1,127 stores and found the average conversion rate for stores was just 1.4%. This means a conversion rate above 3.1% would put your store in the 80th percentile, with a rate higher than 4.8% in the 90th percentile. Our test also found an ecommerce conversion rate (all devices) of less than 0.5% would put your store in the 20th percentile, with a rate of below 0.2% ranking your store among the worst-performing: Converting sales isn't getting easier, either — reaching the 1.4% industry benchmark can be a challenge for online stores, especially those that: don't price competitively (with the help of historical data) don't use conversion rate optimisation best practices don't optimise their store to increase customer engagement Speaking of customer engagement, we'll dive into how to boost your ecommerce conversion rates (here are some bonus tips on improving CRO). But first, let's overview what customer engagement really is. [subscribe] What is customer engagement, really? Customer engagement is the strongest indicator of how a customer feels about your brand, your products and your online shopping experience. There are many conduits for measuring customer engagement (e.g. email open rates, page views, landing page clicks, average time spent on page, bounce rates, etc.). With a 500-person sample of marketers, a Marketo survey found the following: 22% of people thought customer engagement was a brand awareness tool 63% considered it customer retention, repeated purchases and renewal rates 78% thought it was something that occurred in the final stages of the marketing funnel In other words, modern merchants don't exactly have a solid definition of what customer engagement really is. Even as data analytics experts (a.k.a. data geeks), we consider customer engagement to be more than a measurable set of customer data or online actions — it's also an emotional connection to a brand as well as a tool for brand awareness, chiefly driven by data, measured by data and optimised by data. See the pattern? Customer engagement isn't just short-term set of actions. It's a strategic, long-term play that informs product sales performance, marketing attribution and customer delight. Without accurate, reliable data to support decision-making, it's difficult to move the needle for your store — and especially hard to optimise your conversion rate. Luckily, our commerce connections for top platforms like Shopify, Shopify Plus, Magento and BigCommerce are available for merchants of all sizes. And of course, you're free to try our smart analytics app free for 14 days, including our top-rated Google Analytics connection (free) and highly-rated Shopify app.

by Nico
2019-08-15

How to fix marketing attribution for Safari ITP 2.3

The latest version of Safari limits the ability for Google Analytics (and any other marketing tags) to track users across domains, and between visits more than a day apart. Here’s how to get this fixed for your site. This article was updated 3rd October to clarify changes for ITP 2.3. How does this affect my analytics? Safari's Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) dramatically changes how you can attribute marketing on one of the web's most popular browsers, and ITP 2.1 makes this even more difficult. How will the changes affect your analytics? Currently your marketing attribution in Google Analytics (GA) relies on tracking users across different visits on the same browser with a first-party user cookie - set on your domain by the GA tracking code. GA assigns every visitor an anonymous ‘client ID’ so that the user browsing your website on Saturday can be linked to the same browser that comes back on Monday to purchase. In theory this user-tracking cookie can last up to 2 years from the date of the first visit (in practice, many users clear their cookies more frequently than that), but anything more than one month is good enough for most marketing attribution. ITP breaks that user tracking in two major ways: Any cookie set by the browser, will be deleted after 7 days (ITP 2.1)Any cookie set by the browser, after the user has come from a cross-domain link, will be deleted after one day (ITP 2.2)Any local storage set when the user comes from a cross domain link is wiped after 7 days of inactivity (ITP 2.3) This will disrupt your marketing attribution. Let’s take two examples. Visitor A comes from an affiliate on Saturday, and then comes back the next Saturday to purchase: Before ITP: sale is attributed to AffiliateAfter ITP: sale is attributed to ‘Direct’Why: 2nd visit is more than one day after the 1st Visitor B comes from a Facebook Ad to your latest blog post on myblog.com, and goes on to purchase: Before ITP: sale is attribute to FacebookAfter ITP: sale is attributed to ‘Direct’Why: the visit to the blog is not linked to the visit on another domain The overall effect will be an apparent increase in users and sessions from Safari, as the same number of user journeys are broken in down into more, shorter journeys. How big is the problem? This is a big problem! Depending on your traffic sources it is likely to affect between a quarter and a half of all your visits. The update (ITP 2.1) is included in Safari version 12.1 onwards for Mac OS and Safari Mobile. It does not affect Safari in-app browsing. Apple released iOS 12.2 and Mac OS 10.14.4 on 25th March 2019, and at the time of writing around 30% of all web visits came from these two browser versions on a sample of larger sites. The volume for your site may vary; you can apply this Google Analytics segment to see exactly how. The affected traffic will be greater if you have high mobile use or more usage in the US (where iPhones are more popular). Why is Apple making these changes? Apple has made a strong point of user privacy over the last few years. Their billboard ad at the CES conference in Las Vegas earlier this year makes that point clearly! Although Google Chrome has overtaken Safari, Internet Explorer and Firefox in popularity on the desktop, Safari maintains a very dominant position in mobile browsing due to the ubiquitous iPhone. Apple develops Safari to provide a secure web interface for their users, and with Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) they intended to reduce creepy retargeting ads following you around the web. Genuine web analytics has just been caught in the cross-fire. Unfortunately this is likely not to be the last attack on web analytics, and a permanent solution may not be around for some time. Our belief is that users expect companies to track them across ­their own branded websites and so the workarounds below are ethical and not violating the user privacy that Apple is trying to protect. How to fix this There are three outline fixes I would recommend. I’m grateful to Simo Ahava for his research on all the possible solutions. The right solution for your site depends on your server setup and the development resources you have available. If you’re lucky enough to use our  Shopify app the next version of our script will include solution 1 below. Contact our support team if you'd like to test the private beta version. For each solution, I’ve rated them out of three in these areas: Quick setup: how much development time it will take to solveCompatibility: how likely this is to work with different domain setupsLongevity: how likely this is to work for future updates to Safari ITP Update: Solutions 1 and 2, using local storage will no longer work with ITP 2.3 Solution 3: Server-side cookie service Quick setup * Compatibility *** Longevity *** In the long term, ITP may target the local storage API itself (which is already blocked in Private browsing mode). In ITP 2.3, the local storage is wiped after 7 days, along with cookies. So solution 3 securely sets the HTTPS cookie from your web server itself, rather than via a browser script. This also has the advantage of making sure any cross-domain links tracked using GA's linker plugin can last more than one day after the click-through with ITP 2.3. The downside is this requires either adapting your servers, proxy servers or CDN to serve a cookie for GA and adapt the GA client-side libraries to work on a web server. If your company uses Node.js servers or a CDN like Amazon CloudFront or Cloudflare this may be significantly easier to achieve. If you don’t have direct control of your server infrastructure it’s a non-starter. Also, a caveat is that Apple recommends settings cookies as HttpOnly to be fully future proof - but those would then be inaccessible by the GA client tracking. Full technical details. What about other marketing tags working on Safari? All other marketing tags which track users across more than one session or one subdomain are going to experience the same problem. With Google Ads the best solution is to  link your Ad account to Google Analytics, since this enables Google to use the GA cookie to  better attribute conversion in Google Ads reporting. Facebook will no doubt provide a solution of their own, but in the meantime you can also attribute Facebook spend in GA using Littledata’s  connection for Facebook Ads. Are there any downsides of making these changes? As with any technical solution, there are upsides and downsides. The main downside here is again with user privacy. Legally, you might start over-tracking users. By resetting cookies from the local storage that the user previously requested to be deleted, this could be violating a user’s right to be forgotten under GDPR. The problem with ITP is it is actually overriding the user’s preference to keep the cookie in usual circumstances, so there is no way of knowing the cookie was deleted by the user … or by Safari supposed looking out for the user! Unfortunately as with any customisation to the tracking code it brings more complexity to maintain, but I feel this is well worth the effort to maintain marketing attribution on one of the world's most popular browsers.

2019-05-24

Are you looking at the wrong Black Friday metrics?

Paying attention to the right ecommerce metrics can help you establish the best customer base and shopping experience for long-term growth. But many retailers still focus only on the most popular metrics -- especially during the online shopping craze of Black Friday and Cyber Monday (#BFCM). Over the next few weeks ecommerce managers will be obsessing over data, but which stats are the most important? Two popular metrics -- ecommerce conversion rate and average time on site -- may be misleading, so I recommend looking instead at longer-term benchmarks. Here's how it all breaks down. Littledata's ecommerce benchmark data now contains indicators from over 12,000 sites, making it an ideal place to get a realistic view of Black Friday stats. Last year we found that the impact on Black Friday and Cyber Monday was larger in 2017 than in 2016. Using that same data set of 440 high-traffic sites, I dove into the numbers to see how this affected other metrics. Metrics to avoid I think that overall ecommerce conversion rate is a bad metric to track. From the leading ecommerce websites we surveyed, the median increase was 30% during the BFCM event last year...but nearly a third of the stores saw their conversion rate dip as the extra traffic didn’t purchase, with this group seeing a median 26% drop. Some stores do extremely well with deals: four sites from our survey had more than a 15-fold increase in ecommerce conversion rate during BFCM, and nearly a quarter saw more than double the conversion rate over the period. But the real question is: will tracking conversion rate hour-by-hour help you improve it? What could you possibly change within in day? Another misleading metric is average time on site. You may be looking for signs that the the extra traffic on the holiday weekend is engaging, but this is not the one to watch. The time on site for visitors who only see one page will be zero, which will mask any real increase from engaged visitors. Where to focus instead Now, do you know what good performance on funnel conversion metrics would look like for your sector? If not, have a look at Littledata’s industry benchmarks which now cover over 500 global sectors. Littledata’s benchmarks also include historic charts to show you how metrics such as add-to-cart rate vary for the average retailer in your sector month by month. Next try the ‘speed’ performance page to see how fast a user would expect a site in your sector to be. If you see site speed (as measured in Google Analytics) drop below average during Black Friday trading it’s time to pick up the phone to your web host or web operations team. Then, are you tracking return on adverting spend for extra Facebook Ads you're running during the quarter? Ad costs will spike during the peak trading period, and you make not be getting the same volume of traffic conversion into sales. Here are some quick pointers. Facebook Ads. Littledata’s Facebook Ads connection will ensure accurate data, with a dedicated Facebook report pack for automated insights. Shopify. If you're running your site on the Shopify platform, read up on which metrics are most important for Shopify stores and check out Shopify's BFCM Toolbox for seasonal online marketing. Missions. Use Missions in the Littledata app to make permanent improvements to your user experience. BFCM may be over before you can make the changes, but customers will keep buying the rest of the year. For example, can you increase add-to-cart rate with tips such as highlighting faster selling items or recommending an alternative to out-of-stock products? So focus on some clearer metrics and I hope Black Friday brings you every success! [subscribe]

2018-11-19

Should you outsource your ecommerce operations?

After you've created an ecommerce startup, the initial goals are all about recovering costs and expenses. As soon as the profit margins rise and you've broken even, you face some big decisions that will decide the growth of your online business. First of all, should you start outsourcing? Because many first-time entrepreneurs think it's more cost-effective to do everything on their own, it is a common mistake to pass on hiring freelancers. In this post I’ll highlight the core benefits of outsourcing your ecommerce operations. Focus & growth There are many aspects to promoting your product, and ecommerce operations is an integral component of your company's growth. By outsourcing your ecommerce operations, you have the time to focus on the goals and growth of your company. When hiring a freelancer from a reputable marketplace such as FreeeUp.com, your contract will protect both parties. The roles are clearly defined and you get expert advice in key areas. Your time is valuable, and when you free up your days to re-focus on growing sales, the sky is the limit. Short-term & long-term options First of all, this isn't an all-or-nothing decision. Hiring freelancers can be short-term or long-term depending on the needs of your business. By delegating specific tasks to various experts, your business has the opportunity to grow and flourish as you originally intended. You also have the unique opportunity to scale as needed without the commitments that traditional employment requires. And experts are exactly that - experts! Why reinvent the wheel? The need for a skillset As your company grows, your knowledge grows. Creating an ecommerce startup has a steep learning curve, however, and outsourcing for expert advice makes a lot of sense. Coaching a freelancer is not required as they are already specialized in their skillset. By hiring freelancers, your business can grow outside of your core expertise. For instance, why spend time learning about optimizing landing pages for conversions when you can just hire an Optimizely expert? Furthermore, professionalism is a must when running a business. Your company will gain a professional profile with experts at your side. Until you've gained the expertise, winging it is just bad business. If you've spent countless hours (or possibly weeks) researching ecommerce operating skills, it is time to consider hiring outside of your skillset. Freelancers are highly knowledgeable in their specific niches, and outsourcing your ecommerce operations (and other important roles such as social media and marketing), will benefit your business. Working at full capacity Being more efficient with your time is a smart business decision. When you're stretched too thin or feeling overwhelmed with all the tasks of the company, hiring a freelancer is a no-brainer. Avoiding business burnout is key. As the owner/founder/boss (and probably CMO/CEO to boot), your business needs you to be working at full capacity. Making a list of the tasks that need to be completed is a smart business move. The next step is to start outsourcing as needed. You can learn from these experts and expand your business while optimising your time in the areas you already know -- while maintaining a clear overview of your ecommerce site. [subscribe] Excellent customer service (doesn't necessarily start with you) There's no question that customer service is a key component for the success of your business. Platforms like Shopify have emphasized this to their merchants to help them grow. Today's consumers are demanding, and catering to your customers’ needs can quickly take all your time and energy. Remaining professional requires focus and support, which is why hiring freelancers to maintain exceptional customer service is a key component to the growth of your company. Upgrades & maintenance Ultimately, the goal is to keep everything running smoothly. When you regularly hit profit margins and your goals are being met, upgrades and maintenance will be an ongoing issue. You might want to expand your server capacity due to increased traffic, for instance, or revamp your blog. It's no surprise that the top benchmarks for growing a Shopify store include page load speeds and server response time. Even though upgrades and maintenance to support growth are positive issues, it can be time-consuming to keep everything afloat. Moreover, once you meet your goals, you’ll want to expand. Hiring freelancers allows you to make sure that everything runs smoothly as you venture out into new areas or even new businesses. The bottom line is that one person cannot do it all. Outsourcing for various skillsets will make a world of difference for your company -- and your peace of mind. Start outsourcing your ecommerce operations The benefits of outsourcing your ecommerce operations to freelancers are countless. By outsourcing your ecommerce operations, you free up valuable time to remain focused and goal-oriented. Your business started from passion -- it is important to maintain that vision and hire freelancers to help meet your targets and objectives.   This is a guest post by Connor Gillivan, CMO and co-owner of FreeeUp, a rapidly growing freelance marketplace making hiring online simpler (check out their info on hiring for ecommerce). He has sold over $30 million online and hired hundreds of freelancers himself to build his companies.

2018-08-30

How Littledata helps Shopify stores comply with GDPR

When the GDPR regulation comes into effect later this month, it will impact all websites trading with EU citizens. That means any ecommerce site with customers in Europe! Is your Shopify store ready to comply? We recently updated our Shopify app (since release 7.8) to help Shopify stores which use Google Analytics comply with GDPR. In addition to automatic fixes to help your store comply, we include recommendations for how to update your site content (such as Terms and Conditions), and how to deal with the new 'two year rule'. If you're running a Shopify store, the time to act is now. Automatic fixes with our Shopify app The first two steps are done automatically when you install our GDPR-ready Shopify app. If you're already using Littledata's Shopify app, these two fixes can be applied when you upgrade to our latest tracking script (version 3.2). Here's what they address. 1. Anonymise customer IP addresses The IP address of your website visitor is considered personal information under GDPR, and to remove any risk that this is sent to Google’s servers in the USA, our script scrambles the last few digits of the IP address. Google already promises not to store the IP address, so this step is an extra level of safety. This slightly reduces the accuracy of tracking which city your visitor came from -- but we believe that this is a small price to pay for ensuring anonymity. 2. Filter personal emails and ZIP/postcodes from pageviews Many sites accidentally send personal data in the page URLs or titles tracked by Google Analytics. For example, apps with their own checkout often send the user email as a URL parameter like ‘/url?email=myname@gmail.com’. Our script now filters that personal data out at source, so the page path you’ll see in Google Analytics is ‘/url?email=REMOVED’. Additional manual steps There are two additional manual steps to ensure that Google Analytics for your Shopify store is GDPR-compliant. 3. Update your terms and conditions You need to update your website T&Cs to ensure users are aware of the Google Analytics Advertising Features that our Shopify app activates and Google uses to identify user demographics, such as gender and interests. We are not lawyers, but we suggest using something similar to these sentences to describe what data is collected, how you (and we) use the data, and how how users can opt out: Our site uses Google Analytics Advertising Features to deduce your gender, age group and interests based on other types of websites you have visited. We use this in aggregate to understand which demographics engage with areas of our website. You can opt out with Google's browser add-on. 4. Remove user-specific information after 2 years You should also change the data retention period for your Google Analytics web property, so that Google removes all user-specific information from their database after 2 years. To make this change, logging to your GA account and go to the Settings cog, and then Property > Tracking info > Data Retention. Use the 'data retention' drop-down menu to select to keep user data for 26 months, and mark 'reset on new activity' to ON. This means that after 26 months, if the user has not come back to your website, any user cookie will be deleted. We think this sensible to comply with the Right to Erasure without making any practical limits to your analysis. [subscribe] Right to Erasure feature coming soon! We're also working on a feature to help websites comply with the Right to Erasure or Right to be Forgotten. Here's a summary of that aspect of the regulation, from the summary of key changes at EUGDPR.org. Right to be Forgotten Also known as Data Erasure, the right to be forgotten entitles the data subject to have the data controller erase his/her personal data, cease further dissemination of the data, and potentially have third parties halt processing of the data. The conditions for erasure, as outlined in article 17, include the data no longer being relevant to original purposes for processing, or a data subject's withdrawing consent. It should also be noted that this right requires controllers to compare the subjects' rights to "the public interest in the availability of the data" when considering such requests. Littledata's Right to Erasure feature will ensure that when you delete a customer from your Shopify admin interface, any references to that customer are deleted from Google Analytics. This won’t affect aggregate reporting, such as number of web sessions or transactions. When do GDPR regulations take effect? The official enforcement date for General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is 25 May 2018. At that time any organisations in non-compliance may face heavy fines. In short, we recommend implementing the fixes above ASAP for your Shopify store. All you need is Google Analytics account and our Shopify app. And do check our blog regularly for updates. This is the best place to hear about new Littledata features relating to GDPR, as well as news and analysis about how the regulations affect different types of online businesses, including ecommerce websites, subscription businesses, and membership-based sites such as large charities and nonprofits. Looking for additional support? Contact us about GDPR consulting for analytics setup.

2018-05-02
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