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Posts Tagged ‘ecommerce’

There’s Treasure Everywhere: Turning waste into profit

February 9th, 2018
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Hobbes: Why are you digging a hole?

Calvin: I’m looking for buried treasure!

Hobbes: What have you found?

Calvin: A few dirty rocks, a weird root, and some disgusting grubs.

Wait for it … Wait for it …

Hobbes: On your first try??

Calvin: There’s treasure everywhere!

I thought of this cartoon by Bill Watterson (which he also used to name a cartoon collection book) while reading the Harvard Business Review article Searching for New Ideas in the Curious Things Your Customers Do by Taddy Hall and Eddie Yoon.

Turning a waste product into a $500 million brand

Hall and Yoon tell the story of Steve Hughes, now the CEO of Sunrise Strategic Partners. He was walking through a Tropicana factory when he noticed some workers on break taking the excess pulp (a waste product in orange juice production) and mixing it into juice they would drink themselves.

Instead of ignoring the workers or just assuming their behavior was odd, Hughes got curious and asked them about it. They explained that it made the juice taste fresh squeezed. This interaction gave Hughes the idea to launch Tropicana Grovestand  “the taste of fresh-squeezed orange juice,” which after four years became a $500 million brand.

That is just one example of turning waste into profit. Throughout history, curious business people have not only used this process to launch complementary brands in their own company like Hall and Yoon’s Tropicana example, they’ve also launched entirely new companies off their company’s waste (Kingsford was created when Henry Ford turned wood scraps from Model T manufacturing into charcoal briquets) and launched new brands off other companies’ waste (I interviewed TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky back in 2007, and since then, the company has made everything from pencil cases to furniture out of other brands’ waste).

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Winning the Negative Moment of Truth

January 19th, 2018
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As a student in the Communicating Value and Web Conversion graduate certificate program from the University of Florida and MECLABS Institute, I recently read the ebook “Winning the Zero Moment of Truth” by Jim Lecinski.

Even though it is obvious content marketing for Google, it’s still a very good book. It’s six years old at this point, so I’m sure you’ve heard the term Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) by now, but there are still many good ideas you can get from the book to improve your content and other digital marketing.

The power of ratings and reviews

As he explains in the book, Lecinski’s ZMOT term is a play off a quote from Procter & Gamble CEO A.G. Lafley (p. 11, Lecinski, 2011):

The best brands consistently win two moments of truth. The first moment occurs at the store shelf, when a consumer decides whether to buy one brand or another. The second occurs at home, when she uses the brand — and is delighted, or isn’t.

That got me thinking of creating my own play off of ZMOT that ties into Lafley’s Second Moment of Truth.

In much of the book, Lecinski explains how important ratings and reviews are for a range of products thanks to how friction-free getting this information is on the internet versus the pre-internet days. No longer are people only reading the print edition of Consumer Reports to get reviews on cars and washing machines, now they search reviews on everything.

“When I go to a presentation at, say, a Hilton Hotel, I tell the audience this: ‘There are more reviews online for the Bounce Dryer Bar than there are for the hotel we’re sitting in right now.’” he says (p. 38, Lecinski, 2011) He says that 70% of Americans now say they look at product reviews before making a purchase (p. 10, Lecinski, 2011).

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3 Quick Tips to Help You Get the Most Out of the Remainder of your Holiday Marketing Efforts

November 30th, 2017
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For B2C marketers, the holiday gift-giving season is the time of year when we drive the most revenue. So, to get the most out of the last 24 shopping days of the season, we thought a bit of insight and inspiration from your fellow marketers could be helpful. Here are a few of our favorite tips from ecommerce marketers interviewed at the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE that you can apply immediately to your marketing efforts.

Whether you’re working at a startup like Mitch Goldstone, ScanMyPhotos.com, and Gaston Frydlewski, Hickies, Inc., or are part of a larger organization like Mark Friedman, Steve Madden, these tips can be applied to your customer-first marketing efforts this holiday season and throughout the upcoming year.

Tip #1: Turn those holiday shoppers into brand advocates by going above and beyond in your customer service

“When someone receives their order, their digitized photos, they [become] my marketing team,” said Mitch Goldstone, CEO, ScanMyPhotos.com.

Since ScanMyPhotos.com digitizes physical photographs, Goldstone and his team are often privy to a very personal aspect of their customer’s lives, their old family photos. Because of this, it is important to the team that they humanize the customer experience as much as possible.

Watch the full interview below to learn how thinking outside the box when it comes to customer service (sending flowers along with completed orders), has resulted in ScanMyPhotos.com customers becoming brand advocates and content contributors.

Tip #2: Utilize user-generated content to drive more traffic to your ecommerce site this season

Are you getting the most out of those blog and social media posts that your brand is tagged in? Is there really a better way to advertise your product than letting your customers do your bragging? Take a note from the playbook of Mark Friedman, President of Ecommerce, Steve Madden, and make sure you’re using this user-generated content to its fullest extent.

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Ecommerce: Northwestern University study on how online reviews affect sales

August 15th, 2017
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Every week (as the name suggests), I write the Marketing Sherpa Chart of the Week email newsletter. And so, every week, I come across interesting research and data, along with sources that add analysis and color to that research.

Usually, that analysis is confined to the MarketingSherpa Chart article. However, this week, my cup especially runneth over with good ideas and analysis that I thought you might find helpful on your ecommerce sites, especially as you set the groundwork for your holiday marketing initiatives.

When I interviewed Tom Collinger, the Executive Director of the Spiegel Research Center at Northwestern University, and Edward Malthouse, professor at Medill Northwestern and the Research Director of the Spiegel Center, we went well over our allotted time.

You can see their data and some of their analysis in this week’s Chart of the Week article — Ecommerce Chart: Star ratings’ impact on purchase probability. But if you’d like a deeper understanding of their research into how online reviews affect sales, I’ve included a lightly edited transcript of our conversation below. To make the transcript easily scannable for you, I call out key points with bolded subheads

Bringing evidence to the answer of how newer forms of consumer engagement with brands drive financial impact

Daniel Burstein: Why don’t we jump in and you give me a high level of the type of work you’re doing here? I believe, Tom, we may have had you as a source in the past at one point.

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Quick Analysis: Amazon could have bought any food retailer. Why Whole Foods? And how should retailers react?

June 16th, 2017
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Much of the buzz about Amazon’s agreement to buy Whole Foods has focused around the new physical distribution channel, especially for fresh food, that Amazon will now be able to leverage. And bricks-and-mortar retailers — especially grocers — are woefully behind in the use of technology in commerce. Of course.

But if that was the case, Amazon could have bought any retailer. Why Whole Foods specifically? Why a company that was likely more focused on the Amazon rain forest than Amazon.com until today?

Whole Foods Market is a high-touch, decadent customer experience company. Amazon is a low-touch, high-efficiency company. This is not a natural fit. It would have been more of a natural fit for Amazon to start experimenting with a regional, low-price-oriented supermarket like Southeastern Grocers (sure, they wouldn’t get the instant national presence, but they would acquire a large testing lab to optimize the business model).

While Amazon acquired Zappos, Soap.com, Diapers.com, etc. — it is not a particularly acquisitive company. And while much news has been made about a hedge fund’s involvement, this acquisition doesn’t reek of financial engineering like so many other M&A deals have.

So what data are we missing that Amazon has?

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‘Twas the Night Before Sending: How Ebates created a compelling holiday email send in one day

November 11th, 2016
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As marketers become fully entrenched in the hectic holiday season, it’s easy to just keep to the schedule while letting customer engagement opportunities pass by.

Derek Kazee, Director of Retention Marketing, Ebates, and I spoke about this issue in the Media Center at MarketingSherpa Summit 2016 about how his team overcame the biggest holiday season obstacle cutting through the noise.

By reacting quickly after some holiday inspiration, Derek and his team quickly mobilized to engage with members about current and upcoming promotions in a fun and informative way.

“I got an idea to do something different, which was actually to remind and to preview all of the promos we were going to launch because I was having trouble keeping track of it myself,” he said.

Derek came into the office with that idea and challenged his team to come up with something that would be informative, non-promotional and engaging at the same time. As a result, one of the copy writers rewrote “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” and it was designed in just one day.

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Startups 101: How and why a green retailer chose to bootstrap instead of accepting venture capital

August 26th, 2016
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If you’re an entrepreneur running a startup and begin to find some success, you will likely face a crossroads:

  • Should I bootstrap, funding the business myself with personal savings and/or ongoing revenue?
  • Should I procure funding and give away ownership interests to a venture capitalist or private equity firm?

To help you make this decision, we interviewed Brian Fricano, Founder/CEO, Sustainable Supply. He is an entrepreneur who has weighed the pros and cons of each option and made this decision for his own startup.

Brian and his wife launched Sustainable Supply seven years ago as a business with a social mission. “The core of what we were trying to do was sell products for commercial buildings that save water and save energy,” Brian said.

Profitable from day one

They started the business without any outside funding, according to Brian.

“Bootstrapping has forced us to be profitable from day one,” Brian said.

Without a cushion of outside funding, the company had to be creative, and launched with a “drop shipping” model, in which products are shipped directly to customers after they purchase and not to a retailer’s warehouse.

“We signed up dozens of suppliers that were willing to drop ship on our behalf, so we were able to become a virtual distributor, never taking possession of inventory,” he said.

Not only did the drop shipping model allow Sustainable Supply to start operations without the need to invest in inventory, it also tied into its social mission by reducing the carbon footprint and pollution generated from shipping products twice (first to the retailer, and then to the customer).

Success brings offers of capital

Sustainable Supply was successful, and was named the fifth-fastest growing retailer on the Inc. 500 list of America’s fastest-growing companies. This attracted the attention of venture capitalists interested in investing in high-growth startups.

This decision has worked for his company for two reasons. First, Brian would have diluted his ownership if he accepted the investment.

“Our growth after that has [grown four times over] since we made the Inc. 500 list. Had we brought on investors, we would have given away too much too early in the process,” Brian said.

Sticking to its social mission

In addition, his company has a social mission. Its tagline is “Build. Work. Green.” While there are a few exceptions, most venture capitalists are focused on growth and profitability, and less concerned with a social mission.

“Each venture capitalist has its own specialty, not a lot are specialized in sustainability…there’s not a lot out there that have a social component to them,” Brian said.

You might also like

Inbound Marketing: Medical startup increases website traffic 600% year-over-year with content marketing

Email Marketing: ‘Go Green’ campaign lifts revenue $30K for bookstore chain

Watch more interviews from the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE 2016

Customer-First Marketing: Understanding customer pain and responding with action

August 5th, 2016
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It’s all too easy to think of our jobs narrowly: “I’m a marketer. I’m in ecommerce. I’m in the apparel industry. I work in tech.”

But what we really do, or at least what we should be doing, is much too big to be constrained by a single job title or industry.

To give you an example, I came across an interesting story while conducting interviews at the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE 2016. As you would expect, most of the interviews focused around hot ecommerce topics like Amazon Marketplace, Snapchat, and funding a startup.

But I had a deeper conversation with Joe Peppers, the Ecommerce Market Sector Leader at The Weitz Company.

But previously, Joe went to West Point and served three tours of duty in Iraq as a Captain in the U.S. Army, before going on to work in ecommerce for Amazon, Apple, Fanatics.com, and now The Weitz Company.

I discovered some interesting lessons from military service that can be applied to ecommerce, so we sat down to talk about it…

Personally, I have two big takeaways from this conversation.

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Direct Marketing vs. Wholesale Marketing: How Steve Madden organizes and optimizes its $1.4 billion shoe empire

June 9th, 2016
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When your business is 80% wholesale like Steve Madden, how do you carve out a unique value proposition for your direct ecommerce business?

 

Watch the full interview to find out

“The value proposition of our site is that we have the deepest selection [and] we have it before anyone else.”

So said Mark Friedman, President of Ecommerce for Steve Madden, yesterday during a live interview at the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE 2016.

Additionally, Mark mentions the company’s community of rabid Steve Madden fans in social channels and through the SM Mag.

“It’s crazy how people feel about the brand. We incorporate that into the site, and that gives others some perspective of how some people are wearing it. You’re getting to see not only the product that they bought, but their complete look and how they put it together,” Mark said.

Of course, because the business is 80% wholesale, Steve Madden can’t just leave partners out in the cold. To balance its relationship with partners, Mark mentions the team employs a variety of tactics, including:

  • Syndicate product photography done in-house
  • Syndicate product reviews that were written on SteveMadden.com

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How NakedWines.com Used Email to Maximize Lifetime Value

April 15th, 2016
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How do you turn a name on a list into a loyal and engaged subscriber?

Ecommerce site NakedWines.com has accomplished this by establishing a community of customers and “Angel” members. These customers fund independent wine makers in return for access to hand-crafted wine at a lower cost.

At the MarketingSherpa Summit 2016 Media Center, Julia Fox, Marketing Manager, NakedWines.com, spoke about how her team wanted to maximize member lifetime value during the early phases of the customer journey.

 

“Since we’re all ecommerce, email is obviously a huge part of our success,” Julia said, adding that most of the company’s revenue comes from these “Angel” members, which means nurturing new customers into Angels through this channel is especially important.

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