Positioning for Real, Sustainable Growth
As you likely know at this point in your browsing of Appath, or as one of many satisfied customers, Appath offers tools to effectively automate and streamline your ecommerce order processing operations across multiple channels. The key to this successful automation is Appath’s bridging of communication between your selling channel systems, shopping carts and outlets.
In utilization of such tools, one can sit back and expect the cash to flow in from customers from all over the webosphere, correct? Well, while the perfect scenario of the perfect world would provide an affirmative answer to this, that would neither be responsible nor correct.
The key to garnering Appath’s maximum value is to realize that the automation offered by the integration application enables your organization to stop acting like a hamster in a wheel and start acting like the most effective retailer you actually are, at heart. After all, you likely did not go into ecommerce to spend days neck deep in order entry. Your motivation, the heart of your entrepreneurial or organizational drive, was to sell, sell, sell. Let’s get you back to that.
True Retail Optimization
Appath will automate your order and inventory processes. The rest is up to you. Now that your employees likely have more time on their hands, how can they be most effectively utilized to garner maximum sales impact? Perhaps a case study will clarify the best approach.
Near Death Experience
Actual case study quick facts:
- Internet Top 400 Retailer
- 14 year old organization
- Staff reduction of 60% in prior six months, by means of layoffs
- Low staff morale, misappropriated talent focusing on customer complaint resolution and “status quo” to keep suppliers happy
- New marketing leader resigned after two months in role
- Insufficient revenue to break even, collectors calling, near bankruptcy declaration
- Proprietary systems were breaking down, antiquated, second-generation encoding, over 10 years old
- Historically low sales volume for all periods over the past year: daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually, low and high seasons and holidays
- Owner, an early internet tech talent, was stuck in a mindset of “PPC, PPC, PPC,” throwing over $25,000 monthly into PPC campaigns as a daily gamble, intensely seeking the precise keywords and PPC magic
This is a sinking ship. Sinking ships require quick triage, quick action and quick repair. Or, you simply do what the incoming marketing leader did and jump overboard to swim before the vessel sinks, taking you with it.
Let us examine the snapshot of this company only ten months later:
- 7 new marketing staff members added
- Team cohesion and heightened collaboration, through goal attainment
- 30% revenue growth to $20.8 million in ten months
- Time available to redesign old sites using more universal and aesthetic CMS
- Record sales volume, record individual cart totals and record shoppers for all periods
- Low season sales actually outperformed historic high seasons
- PPC reduced to under $10,000 per month
- 45% operating cost reduction
- 95% order fulfillment standard, lowest performance in one day at 92%
- Renewed supplier trust and satisfaction
How did such a drastic and all-encompassing turnaround occur? Simple: Enhanced automation. Once Appath has taken command of your order and inventory process organization, you too will have time to breathe. Then, focus on actively selling.
If you, too, have been stuck in that hamster wheel of customer service and order processing across multiple sites, you have lost your focus on what matters just as much in ecommerce. That is, marketing.
The above company was quickly and effectively turned around, thanks to order, shipping, inventory and processing automation. The true and visible financial growth came from the next phase of changes, post-automation time appropriation. When focus is no longer on status quo and can then be on growth, big things can happen.
The first steps to maximizing and facilitating ecommerce growth are to review, update and enhance merchandising strategies. If order processing has been a struggle, the organization has likely dropped the ball in marketing. The great news is that this is where the most visible growth and momentum are experienced, even rapidly in scenarios such as our factual case study.
Tactics for Success
To enable post-automation financial momentum and gain new customers, apply quality marketing tactics. These are the exact ones employed to bring our case study brand out of despair and into profitability just ten months following automation implementation:
- Perfect SEO in merchandising copy. You’ve heard it all before, but SEO matters. Analyze keywords and keyword strings using Google’s Keyword Planner. Make sure your copy flows well, but include the keywords which count, such as brand names, product identifiers and trending descriptors. Use long tail keywords when possible and think like the searching shopper.
- Alt tag ALL images. This is a major undertaking, but incredibly worthwhile. Alt tags should include the keywords of the copy to which the image is attached. Don’t neglect this.
- Write a blog with fresh, relevant and original content every 2 to 3 days. Forget, “Build it and they will come.” Today, the mantra is, “Educate your shoppers and they will come.” Teach them something useful with an entertaining style.
- Use header tags, such as H1, H2, H3. Include one or more of these in a structured format on each page of streamlined content.
- Tell shoppers who you are. Include your brand name, facility address and other key customer service info on every page.
- Incorporate brand or product reviews on each product page. Shoppers and search engines love these.
- Link. Link. Link. Link deeply between products, blog to product, product to relevant blog, off site to educational insights, to your social media channels, throughout your site…you get the picture.
- Develop a blogger network of advocates and influencers. Engage them and keep the relationship going so they will help promote you as part of a win-win relationship. Be loyal to them and they will be loyal to you.
- Ensure your site design is responsive, attractive and “sticky” as a shopper experience.
- Work hard on social media. Build the following. Inject elbow grease. Host online events, promote blogs, hold contests and allow the winners some social media fame, be professional, but make it fun. Include all of the major channels, including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and any other relevant site.
- Take the time to get rid of the crappy, poorly selling products. They waste your time, cost more to manage than they are worth and if customers do not want them, why should you? Focus on quality products which reflect your brand tenets.
The bottom line is that you cannot effectively sell if you are too focused upon basic survival and order fulfillment. Take care of the processes, then become proactive in pursuit of sustainable growth and your brand will reach new heights.