We recently hosted “Profitable and Painless: The Path to Ecommerce Bliss,” a mediaspa ecommerce panel event with a few of our great technology partners (Bronto, Temando, and Optimizely). We had a great discussion and an open Q&A about the current state of ecommerce and what is on the horizon.

Here is a summary of a few ecommerce pain points merchants asked the panel to address concerning email marketing, shipping, and Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).

For email marketing, what are the next steps after batch-and-blast?
Matty Wentworth from Bronto

Getting Started: Even within starter Email Service Provider (ESP) platforms, you can execute rudimentary testing, automation, and personalization, such as A/B testing subject lines, automating subscription welcome series, and offering a user profile preference center with fields like Gender and Birthday.
Next Level: Once you make the move to an enterprise-level ESP, it is important to remember “data for the sake of data is the pitfall of the modern marketer.” In other words, there is a mighty chasm between the wealth of data we collect and the ability to compile it and act upon it, so don’t get lost in the weeds – be realistic and start “high-level” and actionable.  For example, you can target loyal customers with a rewards program discount code email, or send out a “complementary products” email to follow up a purchase. (Please note: that was “complementary,” not”complimentary!”)
On the Horizon: The future of email marketing involves making the online shopping experience resemble the brick-and-mortar more closely through personalization. For example, if someone browses an item, or even a category online, send them an email about that specific product or category, and thus extend the shopping experience beyond the session by showing you care about what the shopper is interested in and would like to know how to better assist them along their buyer’s journey.

How can merchants continue to compete with Amazon on shipping?
Sarit Chalamish from Temando

Getting Started: Customer expectations have skyrocketed over the last few years, so retailers must measure what consumers want against what can reasonably be offered. The reality is most merchants cannot compete directly with an Amazon in the “free shipping” arena, but they can take steps to compete in terms of shipping options. According to Temando, 71% of retailers now offer multiple shipping options.
Next Level: Diversify your carrier portfolio. This will further expand your shipping menu and allow you to leverage those relationships when negotiating shipping contracts. According to Temando, only 40% of retailers currently use multiple carriers.  Also, make returns easy! Consumers feel a greater sense of security and freedom when offered things like shipping options and a simple returns process, and, as a result, most retailers experience a bump in conversion rate when they implement these features – without incurring an offsetting increase in actual returns, I might add!
On the Horizon: Going forward, the priorities for shipping include bringing distribution hubs closer to the consumer to enable faster/same-day delivery options, and developing streamlined international/cross-border shipping capabilities with fees like tariffs, duties, and taxes built in and paid for at checkout to help make the delivery process hassle-free.
 

How do I grow my company’s Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) initiative?
Brandon Frankel from Optimizely

Getting Started: Keep it simple. Research basic, proven, industry-tested principles, pick a handful, prioritize, and then review them for implementation “effort versus impact.” Start with simple A/B testing. Once you start seeing ROI and gain some experience here, you will be able to get into multi-variate and multi-page testing, later followed by targeting, segmentation, and synchronization.
Next Level: After gaining some momentum with basic testing, consider crowd-sourcing for test ideas within your organization. Everyone shops online, and everyone has ideas about how to improve the experience, so tap into that!  By making it a group effort, you will increase buy-in, get some great testing ideas, boost team morale, and help develop company culture.
On the Horizon: Optimization will move toward predictive segmentation while continuing on the path to personalization by using multi-channel data collection to deliver highly-personalized shopping experiences to all channels. (See our post “Personalization – Why You Should Care” to learn more about the “Path to Personalization.”)
 

I hope this summary was helpful!

Pictures from the event can be found here, and videos can be found here.

 

Andrew Potkewitz

Director, Client Success - mediaspa