Shopify enables retailers to offer shopping in 3D

Shopify has added an augmented reality function to its eCommerce platform, which allows retailers to add photos of goods that can be then brought to life for end-users who can see what that object will look in their home. Shopify uses Apple’s AR Quick Look to enable these 3D models to be viewable in AR directly through the Safari browser on iOS 12 devices—without the need for a separate mobile app or a clunky headset.

From the release: “Shopify AR provides an accessible toolkit for businesses to create their own AR experiences, including our services marketplace of 3D modelling partners, the 3D Warehouse App to store your models, and an easy way to add AR Quick Look support to your store,” wrote Daniel Beauchamp, leader of the Virtual and Augmented Reality team at Shopify, in the Shopify Blog. “As the full potential of AR shopping experiences continues to unfold, our goal is to make them more accessible and more valuable for our merchants and their customers.”

Link: Shopify Blog

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ZhongAn lunches business process tool for the insurance industry

Insurance technology vendor ZhongAn has released Graphene, the newest product in its  S-Series Insuretech series. Graphene enables insurance companies to link up their channels within a week, process over 2 billion insurance policies, and launch new products in one to three days, thereby propelling cost-saving and efficiency. At launch, Graphene was available to the Chinese-language market.

From the release: “Insuretech has become more mature after the first few years of development. At first, technology empowerment in the insurance sector emphasized on channels innovation, while it has gradually moved towards the crucial stage of refined management and innovation. Internally, we will further reshape risk control, claim settlements, etc. with technology, while building ZhongAn ecosystem by marketing technology solutions in China and globally, navigating financial regimes and deepening technology inclusion,” said Jeffrey Chen, Chief Executive Officer of ZhongAn Insurance.

Link: Business Insider

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Bridg launches CDP for restaurant industry

Identification technology vendor Bridg is launching a customer data platform built for offline retailers and the restaurant industry. Bridg CDP takes valuable point of sale transaction data, and combines it with loyalty and ordering data to create robust, individual unified customer profiles. Profiles are then augmented with social media and other marketable identities, making it possible for brands to engage previously unreachable guests.

From the release: “Our research shows that the average brick-and-mortar business today is, at best, able to identify 15 to 20 percent of their consumers via a loyalty or other ‘opt-in’ marketing program,” said Amit Jain founder and CEO of Bridg. “The Bridg Customer Data Platform gives operators access to an entirely new revenue opportunity – the other 80 percent of their guests existing in their historical POS data. Given the evolutions taking place across the restaurant and retail worlds, we believe precision, data-driven marketing is among the single largest opportunities for margin growth.”

Link: Nasdaq

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Summit launches comparison shopping service tool Productcaster

eCommerce agency Summit has launched a Comparison Shopping Service (CSS) approved by Google as part of its move to increase competition in its Shopping ad space across Europe following the EU’s antitrust ruling last year. Productcaster is a product-feed powered publishing engine designed to help retailers have their products reach the widest possible audience across all digital channels. An official Google Comparison Shopping Partner, Productcaster enables retailers of any size to improve their PLA performance by entering the Google Shopping Ads auction at a more competitive media rate via a Comparison Shopping Service partner.

From the release: “We recognised the desire amongst retailers for a trusted, transparent CSS partner that offers sensible fees and a reliable service,” Hedley Aylott, CEO of Summit, said. “When we became aware of this opportunity for retailers we created the Productcaster service to get our clients and agency partners live on CSS within a matter of days across Europe. They are already seeing a 15-25% benefit in CPC savings through Productcaster. We want to make it as easy as possible for retailers and agencies take advantage of the lower media fees in an ever-competitive market as fast as possible.”

Link: PR Newswire

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Shopify launches free apps to ease customer communications

Shopify has launched Ping, a free iOS app for Shopify merchants. Ping consolidates messages from other apps used to interact with customers through social media, a merchant’s online storefront and email in a single interface, making it easier to manage conversations and respond in real-time. Ping comes with Shopify’s free virtual assistant, Kit, which helps eCommerce brands plan, create and manage marketing activities in a conversational interface.

From the release: “Shopify merchants are conducting many business conversations across multiple apps every day, not only to run their day-to-day operations, but also to manage customer inquiries. Shopify Ping was created to make all of this easier to manage,” said Michael Perry, Director of Product at Shopify. “It’s a one-stop messaging app that lets them spend more time on what matters most – running their businesses seamlessly and deepening customer relationships.”

Link: Business Wire

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St. Louis Tag adds data management tools to individual hang tags

St. Louis Tag recently enhanced its hang tag business by incorporating new data management and variable data (VDP) technologies. Businesses can now customize the audience’s marketing experience based on the product type, buyer persona, or other characteristics while simultaneously tracking sales and inventory.

From the release: “St. Louis Tag now has the ability to use interchangeable text, graphics or images within a single order to give each tag unique marketing and tracking characteristics,” said Bob Barenholtz, President of St. Louis Tag. “For instance, each individual tag in an order of 1,000 tags could have a unique message or function depending on the information the customer provides. We can transform a tag into a printed piece that can help manage inventory or promote a personalized marketing message. Our personalized hang tags are used for asset control, inventory, logistics, warehousing applications and more. The retail hang tag could direct the perfect marketing message to the right audience.”

Link: PR Newswire

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Adobe announces it’s acquiring Magento Commerce

Adobe announced it will acquire Magento Commerce, a market-leading commerce platform. The addition of the Magento Commerce Cloud will enable commerce to be seamlessly integrated into the Adobe Experience Cloud, delivering a single platform that serves both B2B and B2C customers globally. The Magento Platform brings together digital commerce, order management and predictive intelligence into a unified commerce platform enabling shopping experiences across a wide array of industries.

From the release: “Adobe is the only company with leadership in content creation, marketing, advertising, analytics and now commerce – enabling real-time experiences across the entire customer journey,” said Brad Rencher, executive vice president and general manager, Digital Experience, Adobe. “Embedding commerce into the Adobe Experience Cloud with Magento enables Adobe to make every moment personal and every experience shoppable.”

Link: BusinessWire

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Snapchat Lenses adds AR tools for shoppable content

Snapchat has updated Snapchat Lenses with “shoppable augmented reality.” The tool encourage users to overlay their products or features onto selfies which will now include a call to action button, leading users to a brand website, promotion, or app.

From the release: “Shoppable AR Lenses give brands a new way to leverage our unique scale — more than half of the 13-34-year-old population of the U.S. plays with our AR Lenses each week on average — to drive real and measurable ROI, whether that’s through sales, downloads, lead gen, or video views,” added Peter Sellis, director of revenue product at Snapchat.

Link: VentureBeat

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Sellics launches platform for vendors selling wholesale to Amazon

Sellics, producer of All-in-One Amazon software for third-party sellers, has released Vendor Edition, the first Amazon optimization platform developed for vendors selling wholesale to Amazon. Sellics’ Vendor Edition software enables brands to optimize for Amazon search marketing, automate Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) ad campaigns, manage customer reviews, and monitor Buy Box ownership.

From the release: “Global brands are increasingly aware they need an Amazon strategy. However many are at a loss of how to get started and struggle to identify the tools they need to drive sales growth and ensure their Amazon operations run smoothly,” Franz Jordan, CEO of Sellics, said. “Interestingly when Sellics was launched in 2014, it was the third-party Amazon sellers who first recognized the need for a dedicated Amazon strategy, personnel, and software.”

Link: Martech Series

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You’ve Built Your Online Store, Now What? Full Speed MarTech

Here you are; a brand-new website, ready to reap the rewards of eCommerce. Well, almost.

In order to help you bring in the big bucks there are a number of technical tweaks you can make to your store. This will ensure that your customers are getting the most out of you, and that you are getting the most out of them.

But it doesn’t stop at your store — the more people you get onto your site, the more chances you have to make a sale. Don’t be afraid to mix up traffic-generation campaigns; a varied marketing mix is more likely to be effective. Here are some options to keep in mind as you design your eCommerce strategy.

Video engagement strategy

Seasoned MarTecheads will be well-acquainted with the power of video to engage an audience – 85% of marketers say video is an important part of their marketing strategy, while 72% of consumers would rather use video than text to learn about a product or service.

You don’t need to spend the earth to develop a video strategy that will engage your store visitors. What’s important is that you select the right video platform to integrate the data that’s behind your videos, and that you keep them short and snappy so that they can be shared across social media and email as well as displayed on your store.

Be careful of vanity metrics. Knowing who has watched your video, where they have watched your video, and what they have watched it on, is more important than just knowing how many people have watched your video.

Automated product recommendations

There are a number of ways you can use data to boost conversions. The oldest and easiest way comes in the form of product recommendations. Start by suggesting items that compliment the contents of their cart, or use predictive analytics to pre-empt purchasing habits.

You can also alter the items that show up on your front page depending on which ad the user clicked, where they came from, or which device they’re using.

Your application of analytics to product recommendations can be as deep or as superficial as you want — but depth will allow for a more personalized, immersive customer experience.

Even a sold-out product page or product category doesn’t mean you should give up: provide a great on-page experience and signal the user on to any relevant products or pages.

Referral & loyalty programs

Using a referral model is a valuable way of increasing the value of your existing customers — get them to refer your brand and business on to their friends and family. Use incentives and vouchers to help them feel special. Alongside a store affiliate program, all of this can be easily automated by using referral software or customer loyalty software — a great way to maximize customer acquisition ROI and lifetime value.

Start with a simple system of loyalty. Have your customer build up points as they shop, and remind them that they have points available in your follow up emails. Perhaps offer them bonus points in some emails to encourage them to come back, and give them the feeling that they’re getting something tangible by receiving your emails.

Mobile SEO & voice search

Google’s mobile-first index is set to complete some time in 2018, and sites found to be incompatible with mobile could see their rankings plummet as a result. Mobile users can also impact your SEO via voice search.

The number of people actively using their voice to make Google searches is on the rise, and it has a real impact on the keywords you should be targeting in your marketing. People don’t type their searches in the same way they speak them.

Natural Language Processing (NLP) is the technological leap that your online store needs in order to be able to walk tall among the Gen Z of present day searching. Read more here.

Influencers

Sponsoring social media influencers to promote your brand or product is a cost-effective way to add a personal touch to your marketing. For eCommerce newbies, it’s a no-brainer.

While you can have all the fancy gadgets possible to add to your online store, sometimes it’s the human touch of a charismatic individual that you need to get people enthused about your brand.

Thankfully there’s a fancy gadget that allows you to get access to any number of charismatics and influential humans! Test out an influencer marketing platform like FameBit, Hypr, or InstaBrand to make bringing together influencers and your eCommerce businesses as simple as possible. More options here.

Social proof

Your customers prize the thoughts of their fellow customers highly – 88% of shoppers value online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

Amazon has long been the master of using customer reviews to drive sales. Their reviews are some of the most popular pieces of content on the entire Amazon — and some have even reached cult status.

Take this example: Super Mario Odyssey has a perfect rating from over a thousand customer reviews – already it’s whetting your appetite as an “Amazon’s Choice”…

Credit: Amazon

If that wasn’t enough, you are then hit with a series of individual reviews that hammer home the quality of the product:

Credit: Amazon

Services like Yotpo, Rate Me, and Rich Reviews are great ways of adding customer reviews to your online store and letting your shoppers do the hard work of marketing your brand for you. Automate your review acquisition as much as you can to scale your social proof strategy quickly, and allow customers to engage with each other’s reviews if you can.

Here are how some eCommerce fashion brands use reviews to grow their sales.

Test, test, and test some more

The first law of eCommerce. Everything comes back to testing. You might like a certain change, but if the stats say it hurts conversions, then that’s all there is to it.

But you have to be smart with how you test. Sales are inconsistent, so when you’re monitoring a change you need a large sample size and you need to limit the number of variables. Otherwise you might end up wrongly attributing a massive upswing in sales to the color of the checkout button.

All of these steps are important but you can never truly ‘complete’ them. There are always new ways to keep improving your online store’s sales strategy. Explore new tech and tools as they launch, and look beyond the horizon to things like VR, AR, and chatbots to help give your store ‘the edge’.

Victoria Greene is an eCommerce branding consultant and freelance writer. On her blog, VictoriaEcommerce, she loves to share her experiences from the digital trenches. She’s a woman with big ideas and a tiny dog living out of downtown Chicago.

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