Mobile Wallets Create Fragmented Liquidity: The Opportunity for Payments Evolution

This blog was co-authored by Eddie Chin and Phillip Jackson. 

An acquaintance of mine who has spent a lot of time in China told me how he uses the barcode on his WeChat Pay app to pay for everything there, including when he buys a cup of coffee from the street vendor outside of his office. He can’t remember the last time he touched a physical Yuan.

Digital and mobile wallets aren’t just big in China and India; they’re attracting consumers all over the globe. According to Payments Dive, some 2.6 billion people had some type of digital or mobile wallet in 2020, up significantly from the year before, and that number will grow to 4.5 billion by 2025.

Much of the uptick in usage was driven by the pandemic. Jodie Kelley, CEO of Electronic Transactions Association, told CNBC that safety concerns prompted consumers to adopt contactless payment options. She predicts digital and mobile wallets will continue to be a preferred source of payment.

How is this trend affecting our everyday lives, both as e-Commerce brands and consumers? Like all emerging trends that are upending major aspects of the economy, there are exciting opportunities to offer more services, and challenges that are a direct result of exponential levels of choice.

Continue reading this blog at Rightpoint.com.

Web3 and Non-Fungible Tokens Signal New Era of Direct-to-Consumer

This blog was co-authored by Justin Kaufman and Phillip Jackson. 

There is a coming shift in how e-Commerce platforms are architected, and this shift is foreshadowed by recent technologies. You may have heard a lot of press about NFT and cryptocurrencies lately — digital artist Beeple sold an NFT for $69M, or Elon Musk is sending a dogecoin to the moon — but beyond the hype and the internet culturalization of digital currencies, there are real implications for how we transact online that are being formed by this current moment.

To understand where the market may be going, a hyper-brief primer on these technologies may be in order for some. The next incarnation of the web — Web3 — will enable a future in which people (and machines) can interact with data and counterparties through an underlying layer of peer-to-peer networks, without any third parties being involved. But it’s more than the absence of third parties; the key to Web3 is that it is completely decentralized. Centralization means control by a single party. For example, US dollars are controlled by a central authority, the U.S. Government, while bitcoins are decentralized and not controlled by anyone. Similarly, the Internet is decentralized, and anyone can host a website (although key infrastructure remains under the control of a small few).

Non-fungible token, or NFT, refers to a special type of record in the blockchain. Because every token has a unique number, they can be used to uniquely identify a digital item. When I buy a bitcoin, I’m buying a piece of data. We all know that data is infinitely copyable, so how do I retain the value that I invested in that cryptocurrency? The principles underlying NFT ensure that my bitcoin is unique and cannot be replicated. It also ensures permanent scarcity and value.

A blockchain is a digital record of transactions. The name comes from its structure, where collections of transaction records, aka “blocks,” are linked together to form a public ledger open for anyone to review and audit. Blockchains allow groups of people with no formal affiliation to exchange data and funds in a trustworthy and secure way.

The Ethereum blockchain is an evolution of blockchain technology that enables entirely new use cases through the creation of Smart contracts. Smart contracts allow Ethereum users to define and run automated processes on the Blockchain, almost as though it were a community-owned computer. The implications are head-spinning. Smart contracts allow developers to establish that the digital thing they create, whatever it may be, hasn’t existed before.

These are heady concepts many really smart people claim are going to change the world but in what ways? And when?

Want to read the rest of the blog? Head on over to Rightpoint.com.

Content and Commerce Complement Each Other Using Adobe’s Experience Cloud

As technology advances and consumers’ desire for new content remains unsatiated, commerce has evolved to weave itself more effectively into the content itself. A recent example can be found at NBC Universal, who recently unveiled their One Platform Commerce solution for brands who would like to advertise during the network’s shows—such as a pop-up banner ad, offering a QR code to scan or submitting an image to be displayed on the pause screen. Many traditional media sites, including Buzzfeed and Vice, have also begun offering similar services.

Currently, there exists no out-of-the-box e-commerce platform that can handle all of these touchpoints. But the Adobe Experience Cloud offers best-in-class solutions to the entire content + commerce ecosystem across its suite of applications. Experience Manager can handle content while Magento takes care of your commerce needs. Adobe’s Analytics, Target and Audience Manager programs further the development of a strong content and commerce strategy by offering key data points from which to inform one-to-one customer personalization.

Because commerce and content are becoming further intertwined, it’s important to understand how this fact impacts the digital customer journey and the employees that service them. The omnichannel journey weaves online and offline, web and mobile and even phone, text and chat. This channel fluidity represents a challenge in balancing strategic partners versus technical implementors. Thankfully, Rightpoint — a Forrester CX Strategy Challenger-rated consultancy — is an Adobe Gold certified solution partner, with every capability to weave together touchpoints in the modern customer journey.

Want to continue reading this blog? Head on over to the Rightpoint blog.

Privacy-First Changes Have Far-Reaching Commerce Platform Implications

Essentially, Apple and Facebook have declared war on one another. For its part, Apple has decided to take a stance on privacy, calling it a fundamental human right and using that stance to differentiate itself from all other tech giants. Recently the company released an ebook, A Day in the Life of Your Data: A Father and Daughter Day at the Playground, that explains in plain English just how extensive personal data collection has become.

In late January, Apple announced some iOS 14 updates that are designed to offer users more stringent privacy protection. One of its features, App Tracking Transparency (ATT), will, “require apps to get the user’s permission before tracking their data across apps or websites owned by other companies. Under Settings, users will be able to see which apps have requested permission to track, and make changes as they see fit.”

Want to learn more about this? Head on over to the Rightpoint blog.

5 Problems Your Brand Will Face in 2021 (And How to Avoid Them)

If consumers were not familiar with digital commerce before the pandemic, they certainly are now: The decline of in-store shopping has led to a rise in online purchases and the proliferation of e-commerce platforms. As a result, we have witnessed companies beginning to scrutinize their digital experiences and syphon funds towards that effort.

But through our research and recent work with top brands, we must preach caution—budgets are tight, and you can’t afford any mistakes.

Head on over to the Rightpoint blog to check out the list of the top five problems your brand will face in 2021, including steps to address them before they derail your customer experiences.

A Year — Or Was That a Decade? — In Review

As I sat down to write this year in review I was struck by the way 2020 felt more like a decade rather than 12 months. In a typical year of ecommerce we’ll have just a handful of high notes, most of which tie to seasonality — a record-breaking Amazon Prime Day or a sales-smashing Singles Day. I think we all miss the normal ebbs and flows we’ve come to expect, but 2020 was not to be so.

Nobody, of course, wants to read another article about the pandemic and the way it has upended our lives and businesses. Yet it’s impossible to talk about ecommerce, or even retail, without talking about its huge outsized influence. COVID-19 is the elephant in the room.

The pandemic has caused major upheavals in the way we shop, socialize and get our news; we’re not likely to return to “normal” whatever that is, anytime soon. The sustained fear, long lockdowns, and urgent desire for contactless everything has elevated the role of digital and permanently altered our behavior. It really is rather extraordinary.

COVID Accelerated Digital Shopping

Without a doubt the overarching theme of 2020 is our new-found dependence on digital for everything. In a year when hand-sanitizer, rubber gloves and face masks became de rigueur, contactless shopping was a top priority. It wasn’t just the usual convenience of shopping via Amazon (although the pandemic has been good for Amazon’s sales), we bought everything online, including groceries and cars. Forbes reported that coronavirus-induced demand for grocery delivery enabled Instacart to turn a profit for the first time ever.

According to a McKinsey Report, COVID-19 crammed ten years worth of expected growth in ecommerce into just 90 days. Many question McKinsey’s methodology for arriving at those numbers, such as lumping online auto-sales into the mix. Still, no one questions the way the virus increased the number of people who now regularly shop online, as well as the range and the quantity of products we now acquire through digital channels. 

Every brand that made digital a central focus of its strategy, from the recently launched DTC company to the legacy brands that spent the last five years embarking on a digital initiative, saw their sales rise exponentially over these past eight months.

Likewise, our preference for digital accelerated the demise of retailers and brands that were dying a slow death, as Scott Galloway pointed out. COVID, he says, has or will kill off thousands of well known, though debt-saddled or otherwise imperilled, brands. 

Our massive dependence on digital doesn’t end with shopping. It’s now the basis of community for people who are isolating at home, and it’s how we get our news.

Social Commerce is Huge… To Some, That’s a Worrying Development

Headless commerce blew-up this year with social commerce leading the charge. Shopify and Snapchat strengthened their partnership by announcing an initiative to make it easier for retailers to create ads and set-up campaigns via the Shopify platform. We also saw Instagram commerce roll out in bigger and better ways than ever before. 

Platforms like Pendoo and ShopShops, purpose-built for influencer selling, are incredibly effective at prompting impulse buys, richly rewarding the influencers and encouraging them to spend a lot of time livestreaming product placements

But not everyone is thrilled with their success. The uptick in sales is accompanied by an alarming increase in shopping addiction, the likes of which we have seen since QVC in the 1990s. That, in turn, has led to a spate of interesting legislation in Asia and elsewhere seeking to curb this behavior. China for instance, now limits on the amount of time influencers can livestream. 

Will those laws succeed in dampening shopping addiction? Perhaps, but ecommerce is everywhere these days, so it will likely be a case of whack-a-mole.

News Organizations are Becoming Commerce Centric

News and entertainment have been colliding for 20 years now, but what really changed in 2020 is the way media brands became more commerce-centric.

Take BuzzFeed, long considered more like pop news but in recent years has been building its journalist chops, famously breaking “Steele Dossier.” From the get-go BuzzFeed exhibited a deep understanding of the millennial generation, offering the kinds of listicles and click-bait that get their attention.

This year BuzzFeed has upped its commerce game by seamlessly weaving shoppable and editorial content together. Nilla Ali, who runs ecommerce for BuzzFeed, told me and my colleague, Brian Lange that this melding is the future for all media companies.

She’s probably right. NBCUniversal released its NBCUniversal checkout this year — a significant development given the sheer number of properties owned by the company. I predict that shoppable content will soon be so ubiquitous that consumers will consider it a normal way to shop. Many may forget that they ever once had to visit an actual online store in order to buy stuff.

Every Experience Will Be Shoppable

Going up a level, it seems as if every experience is destined to become shoppable in one way or another. Whether it’s written word, passive consumption, watching TV, streaming a video on your phone, the opportunity to buy will never be more than a few pixels away. 

This drives home the overarching theme of 2020: digital rules everything around us, and everything digital is shoppable (or will soon be). The line between what is shoppable and what is experiential has blurred, and that’s game-changing. An increase in sales is inevitable, digital is just so freaking effective at monetizing our impulses … are we surprised that our shopping addiction is growing?

One other thing worth noting about this trend: headless commerce will kill the shopping cart. We have no need to mimic the offline shopping experience online, as more and more sales become single-SKU purchases generated from social media and news sites.

The Experience Economy Moves Home

We’ve also seen a re-appropriation of the experience economy from the world at large to the home turf. We used to experience the world outside of the house, and when we talked about experiential retail, it meant going someplace special, like a flagship store, a cruise ship or some exotic location. Now we have those experiences at home.

2020 has also changed the way we share (read: boast about) our experiences. In a year where one is unable to flaunt one’s wealth by sharing selfies from a beach in Grand Cayman, people now post selfies meditating next to their $75 candle. 

What we’ve seen over the past eight months is an ever-powerful cycle of digital leading to connection leading to shopping. Our reliance on social media for human connection and news for entertainment — along with their direct connection to commerce — won’t end once it’s safe to go out again. These are trends that will govern our behavior for years to come.

 

Is your brand prepared? Contact us to discuss your ecommerce strategy.

Future-Proof: How an Ecommerce Center of Excellence Enables CPG to Thrive in the DTC Era

The modern enterprise has a number of aging investments in digital. A center of excellence is a set of stakeholders, processes, practices, and best-in-class examples of a brand investment in digital commerce.

This eBook will explore how an ECOE can benefit an Enterprise looking to invest into the modernization of its eCommerce and direct to consumer digital investments. This ebook is for an enterprise brand Chief Digital Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, and Chief Technology Officer, and their counterparts in partnering agencies and technology vendors.

Download our eBook now.

10.10 Sales Day Big Event or Sales Day Arms Race?

Remember back in the pre-pandemic days when consumers complained about retailers pumping the holiday season the day after Halloween?

Brace yourself: there are forces at play that seek to jump the gun even more. Per Bloomberg, a new sales holiday is in the offing: 10.10 Sales Day. Why that name? It’s basically a play on of Singles Day (11/11), the biggest shopping event on the planet (a phenomenon we’ve written about before on this blog). More urgently: why yet another sales event? And if you host a sales event, will customers come?

Let me state upfront that I get the rationale behind the new 10.10 Sales Day event. Back in June I encouraged retailers to move their Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales up to June or July as a hedge against a potentially bleak Holiday Season in Q4. As I said back then, consumers weren’t feeling maxed out yet … those who were unemployed had additional financial support from state and federal governments, and there was talk of another stimulus package.  In Q4 there could be different financial situations for consumers.

Here we are, a few months later, and Deborah Weinswig of Coresight Research is seeking to, “pull holiday shopping into October from closer to Christmas so retailers can cope with limits on both shipping capacity and available merchandise.” If shopping isn’t pulled forward, she warns, it might not happen at all.

According to Weinswig, more than two dozen national retailers have agreed to participate in 10.10 Sales Day, although no names have been released as of yet. The rewards app, Shopkick, is on board, and plans to launch a 10.10 site, so it’s pretty clear both Weinswig and the retailers mean to give it all they got.

It’s noteworthy that Coresight Research is encouraging retailers to move their holiday season up to October. The firm made headlines last year when it accurately predicted that 2019 would be the year of a retail apocalypse with up to 12,000 stores closing across the country. This year they anticipate anywhere from 20,000 to 25,000 stores to close permanently, so it’s no surprise that Weinswig is encouraging retailers to at least try to save their hides with an earlier holiday shopping season.

An arms race of holiday sales day

10.10 Sales Day (which if it isn’t obvious is scheduled for October 10th) will mark the official start of the holiday shopping season, like it or not. Amazon Prime Day will follow close on its heels on October 13 and 14. Less than a month later will be Singles’ Day, which Coresearch says will be far more global in scope, with “retailers offering Singles’ Day sales in the US, Europe, Southeast Asia, Russia and Brazil.”

If you wait to launch your holiday campaigns, or are pinning your hopes on Cyber Monday, you may be sorely disappointed with your sales. There are a lot of big guns with deep pockets aiming to get consumers to spend in October, and they may have crossed everyone off their lists by the time you launch your 2-for-1 or free shipping special.

And don’t count on riding the Black Friday wave of major retailers driving traffic to malls with door-busters. Analysts say retailers will begin rolling out their Black Friday sales before Halloween, and others, like Home Depot and American Eagle Outfitters intend to roll theirs out on November 8th. In all likelihood, Black Friday will have come and gone long before Thanksgiving.

Besides, retailers are not likely to invest a lot of resources into promoting doorbusters if the pandemic flairs back up and consumers stay away from stores.

Open questions

The 10.10 Sales Day holiday, which actually began in Singapore in 2018, raises some interesting questions, beginning with, what happens to Halloween?

In 2019, Americans spent $9 billion on Halloween decorations, candy and costumes, making it one of the top 5 most profitable holidays for retailers. It’s pretty clear that trick-or-treating is likely to be curtailed throughout the country, taking a bite (no pun intended) out of sales revenue. But will consumers still splurge on pumpkins and mums? Or will they have exhausted their Halloween budgets on Christmas shopping the week before?

In other words, will retailers cannibalize their Halloween sales in favor of holiday ones?

Another question: Will consumers “get” that they’re supposed to begin shopping in earnest on October 10th? Retailers are obviously gearing up for the event, but consumers need to as well. Have they even thought through who they want to buy for this year, especially now that COVID will prevent many from traveling to see family during the holidays? What happens if these retailers launch a great sales event and consumers don’t show up

And even if they do show up, are they likely to buy random tchotchkes in October when the All-New Xbox will arrive in stores on November 10, and the long-awaited PlayStation 5 arrives two days later? Both will sell for $499 and are arguably big ticket items even in flush times. One wonders if parents will opt to limit their spending to a new game console which they’re kids will play with all year round.

Finally, what happens if 10/10 Sales Day is a smashing success? Will it become the de facto start of the holiday season going forward? Or will it be a one-off strategy deployed in the worst year in recent memory?

Going forward

If I may, I’d like to return to the article I wrote for Retail Touchpoints and my recommendations to retailers. It’s too late to implement some of the strategies I proposed to increase sales by broadening your customer base and product line, but they’re long-term tactics that just may future proof your business.

For instance, I recommended forming partnerships with brands that sell adjacent categories to your product line, the way Tom Snyder does with Aesop.

I suggested that one way to get customers to spend more with you is to offer more products, which you can do quickly and easily by leveraging marketplaces like Mirakl or Logicbroker. These marketplaces can connect you to a wide variety of vendors whose products you can then sell on your site. You don’t need to warehouse or ship the inventory; you simply take the order and pass it on to the vendor who dropships it to your customer.

And if you’re in the Home & Bedding space, we laid out six omnichannel strategies to growing your business in our free eBook, which you can download here.

No doubt you have your hands and head full thinking about how to capitalize on the accelerated holiday season (especially if this is the first time you’re hearing about 10.10). But it’s important to keep in mind that 2020 has upended more than just the holiday season, and now is the time to look at fresh ideas to future-proof your own business.

The Importance of Scenario Planning

During economic downturns we tend to see a rush of articles and panel discussions about scenario planning. But in reality, scenario planning is something that all businesses should do 12 months a year, in good times and bad. And to a large degree, most businesses actively engage in scenario planning, though they might not think of it as such. In fact, all human beings scenario plan instinctively on a continuous basis. Let’s say you’re driving along and come to a four-way stop. The first thing you do is look around, assess the situation, identify a few scenarios, and plan for each. That’s scenario planning.

Scenario Planning in Ecommerce

Scenario planning in ecommerce is a bit unique because growth is dependent on three specific drivers: website traffic, average order value (AOV) and conversion rate. Scenario planning looks at those three drivers to determine the overall impact on the business if one of those drivers changes.

Let’s say you want to increase the AOV of your orders, and settle on a strategy of offering more premium products. Before you implement that strategy you’d be wise to test its impact on your conversion rate, and ultimately your sales revenue. Conversions will likely decline as the more costly products dissuade your budget-conscious customers, but will the higher AOV make up the revenue? Will you need to launch costly AdWord campaigns to attract more affluent shoppers to your site, and if so, how will those higher costs affect your profit

Scenario planning is the only way to answer those questions. For instance, you can calculate the impact on revenue and profits if your conversion rate declines by 10%, 25% and 50% but your AOV increases by 25%, 35% or 50%.

Knowing the impact of each scenario on your business will allow you to identify triggers that indicate a harmful impact on your business, and ultimately make smarter decisions.

Planning for Failure

Every business has grand plans for the future. If I launch this campaign, offer this service, or implement this technology my customers will benefit, and consequently, so will my business. That’s the hope, but what if things don’t go according to plan? You need to be ready with plan B, C, D and E.  In many ways, planning for failure is the essence of scenario planning.

But here’s the thing: the more you scenario plan to assess what could go wrong, and the more you develop contingency plans in the event those disappointing scenarios pan out, the more you will be in a position to mitigate the negative impacts on your business. In other words, a scary scenario is far less scary if you’ve thought through that eventuality and have a plan in place to respond.

By the way, scenario planning isn’t only about failure; you can also plan for unexpected boons. Let’s say you’re a business that sells to budget conscious consumers, and economic downturns tend to inflate your customer base. You can test tactics — dramatically increasing campaigns to drive traffic to your site vs. relying on increases in organic traffic — to assess their impact on your conversions, AOV and profitability. You just might find that a 30% increase in AdWord spend will deliver 120% more sales.

Scenario Planning Use Cases

Seasonality

By now, assuming you’re an online retailer, you’re deep into your holiday-season planning, and have a range of tactics you plan to deploy to ensure that your Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales meet your expectations.

There is a lot of scenario planning that goes into such activities. Obviously, you need products on hand in order to make sales. How do you ensure you have enough inventory to meet demand during your peak selling season? No doubt you have some exercise that you conduct to assess how much inventory you’ll need, based on past performance, the current economic situation, current trends and a host of other factors that are relevant to your sector. (This is demand planning, which is a whole other discipline.)

Having enough inventory on hand to sell isn’t necessarily an ecommerce tactic, but AOV and conversion can be harmed if you can’t fulfill what visitors come to your site to buy. All the traffic in the world won’t change that reality.

Here’s where scenario planning comes into play: What happens if you don’t have enough inventory on hand? How will that affect your conversion rate, AOV, sales revenue and profits? How can you mitigate those negative impacts on your business? In other words, what’s your plan B, C, D and E? Will you, say, promise to waive shipping if a customer places an order anyway and agrees to wait until the item is back in stock? Do you offer a discount on a higher-priced item to win the sale? If so, what is the deepest discount you can offer and still end the year profitability? What bundles can you offer in order to boost AOV in such cases?

You may never need to deploy any of those strategies, but just thinking them through will help you identify levers and triggers that tell you when it’s time to deploy a plan B or C in order to save your holiday season.

Environmental Factors

2020 has been the year of environmental factors, some of which no retailer had really planned for…who considered the impact of a virus forcing lockdowns in March of this year? But other factors, such as economic conditions, are scenario-planned regularly.

As mentioned above, there are many businesses that see an economic boost in uncertain economic times: Price Club, Sam’s Club, Costco, BJ’s, among others. These brands have products in categories that remain durable regardless of economic climate. Their volume of sales per customer may go down, but their brands attract the price conscious and value based consumer who shop elsewhere in a strong economy. In other words, the addressable market of these brands grow as shoppers leave other, full-priced channels.

Here’s where scenario planning comes in for non-discount retailers. Let’s assume that in the next 12 months the economy continues its downward trajectory, and you’ll need to plan for this eventuality. There are a number of strategies you can deploy. One is to compete directly with the Sam’s Clubs of the world by launching a membership option that defrays some of the cost to the consumer in order to keep your brand attractive. To come up with that sweet spot you’ll need to conduct a number of what-if scenarios: what is the cost of launching a membership program that lowers the customer’s shipping costs over a set period of time, say 90 days, 6 months or a full year?

By the way, membership is a strategy deployed by Italic, a brand for whom membership buys the consumer luxury goods “at cost.”

Another tactic you can deploy is a subscription model. Subscriptions are a good way to stem customer attrition because the customer has already invested in your brand and wants to get the most value out of that investment. In this case, the scenario plan is: if I’m in the highly competitive vitamin sector and every day I face a new competitor, will a subscription offering keep customers loyal to me? How should I structure those subscription tiers to incentivize the consumer and ensure profitability? How will I know this is a successful and profitable strategy for me.

And this, in a nutshell, is scenario planning. It’s a fancy term for thinking about what the near future might bring, and having a plan at the ready.

If you need help with your scenario planning and growing your ecommerce business in a strategic way, reach out to us, we’d love to help.

Building a DTC Playbook

Growing up the same

We hate to make generalizations, especially when speaking about innovative DTC brands that are turning their categories on their heads, but when it comes to the underlying technology that supports the sale and marketing of their products, most digitally native brands have followed the same trajectory. We call it the DTC playbook.

There’s a reason why most DTC brands adhere to the playbook: it supports their business as they grow. If you’re a newish brand and want to get a glimpse of what your future marketing tech stack is likely to look like then read on!

Most digitally native brands launch as small operations, relying on free and low cost infrastructure to get them through the first year or so. As their marketing ambitions and skill sets grow, they begin to look for additional tools that easily integrate into their existing tech stack and let them achieve their goals.

Most frequently, we’ve found that within five years these brands will adopt:

  • Klaviyo: Brands come to Klaviyo when they want to automate their email and SMS campaigns. The platform also allows users to segment customers into logical categories (e.g. high-spenders, fashion enthusiasts, etc.) using data from all touch points, including social media. You can then use that insight to A/B test your personalization, segmentation, and messaging strategies. There’s a free version that many brands start with before upgrading to a paid subscription. The paid subscriptions are dependent on list size, but they hardly break the bank.
  • Nosto: Nosto helps brands leverage behavioral data and machine learning to create website experiences that are relevant to the individual visitor. Nosto also lets brands launch a loyalty program and social proofing, and has the added advantage of integrating with Klaviyo.
  • Klarna: Run by a Swedish bank, is a super interesting payment platform that brands use for a variety of strategies, such as enabling customers to pay for premium products in installments — a modern day layaway program. But here’s the thing: your customer may pay in installments, but you get the full price for your product from Klarna straight away. It also offers other features, including some seller protections.
  • Yotpo: As you gain experience in loyalty programs and social proofing, you may decide to up our game to the more robust social proofing stack, Yotpo. Yotpo offers a full suite of solutions for customer reviews, visual marketing, loyalty, referrals, and SMS marketing. Yotpo also integrates with Klaviyo and it offers a free tier.

 

Why do you need a marketing automation stack?

Good question, especially when one considers the suite of marketing tools built into Magento Commerce, Shopify Plus, BigCommerce and so on. Why bother learning and paying for duplicate tools?

In the beginning of a brand’s lifecycle, the ecommerce platform serves as a kind of all-in-one platform that provides all the tools you’ll need to engage with your customers. Nowadays, however, an ecommerce platform for a modern and maturing brand is really just a content and catalog management tool. Even logistics and payment are done outside of the platform via a gateway.

For the modern DTC brand, the ecommerce platform is now seen, not as a point of sale, but as a showroom. And the way that you, as a marketer, engage with that showroom, both up funnel and down funnel, is with these tools. In other words, if you want to personalize your showroom to a specific customer persona, you do so via Nosto.

The prevalence of these tools  — Klaviyo, Nosto, Klarna, Yotpo — cannot be overstated. Over the past five years, hundreds and hundreds of venture-backed brands, supporting millions of customers, have deployed and market-tested these tools. That adoption rate has made them more capable, as well as easier to implement and onboard data. They’re nothing like the rigid legacy tools used by enterprise businesses, and they can be implemented at much more affordable price points.

Playbook as a timeline

The playbook, as I see it, is a timeline. Let’s say you’re a new brand that launches with a narrow set of products that are evergreen, highly differentiated in the marketplace, supported by very clever branding and have some stated mission or purpose behind them. In other words, your DTC brand is the antithesis of the run-of-the-mill tee-shirt company (Interestingly, today we see a lot of single-category businesses that just wouldn’t have been able to exist 20 years ago, but that’s a subject for another blog post).

Now as your brand begins to grow up you probably want to deploy strategies like encouraging repeat business. One way to do that is to launch more products by expanding into adjacent categories, which you’ll then need to introduce to your past customers. That requires you to deploy remarketing strategies via email and SMS campaigns, as well as display and social media ads. Enter Klaviyo, a tool that will help you build your retention business and re-issue your brand values to past customers.

After a while, your skills become increasingly sophisticated, or you may sell highly consumable products, which means you’ll want to build a customized loyalty or rewards program, which you can do with Nosto or Yotpo. And, to drive stronger conversion rates on higher priced products, you may launch a social proofing initiative, offering onsite product reviews or user generated content.

Then as time goes by you may make the strategic decision to increase your average order and lifetime values of your customers by launching a more premium-priced product line. Of course, such a move will have a negative impact on your conversion rate, but you can counteract that decline by offering installment purchases with the aid of Klarna.

What I’ve described above is a natural progression of a brand as it grows. That growth tracks nicely with individual software suites described here because they solve the individual needs faced by modern brands as they evolve. It also tracks with Something Digital Bullseye.

Something Digital’s Partners

If you think of the DTC playbook as the evolution of a brand as they track very closely to the software they’ll acquire, then you’ll understand the rationale behind Something Digital’s partnership strategy. We’ve formed very strategic partnerships with Klaviyo, Nosto, Klarna and Yotpo because these software suites allow a single operator on the brand side accomplish what it would have taken a team of ten to do a decade ago. Much of that boost in productivity is a direct result of automation, and interoperability between these tools.

Growing your marketing skills and ability, and acquiring the right toolset is paramount to growing your brand. Don’t be alarmed or frustrated if you find yourself bumping up against the limits of your existing tools. It simply means it’s time to evolve.

If you need help building your DTC brand reach out to us, we’ve helped tons of other brand grow their business.