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In today’s world of retail, consumers demand a certain experience, and brands must deliver. However, those desired experiences can vary drastically from one consumer to the next. There are two buckets that retail customers generally fall into: those driven by the “deal” and those driven by the experience. Those always chasing the deal want the best price as quickly as possible, through whichever channel is most convenient. Those seeking the best experience aren’t necessarily price averse, but they crave a tailored experience.Transactional Loyalty
Marketplaces like Amazon, Overstock, and Ebay are among the best at winning over shoppers who are transactional loyalists. These are shoppers who want access to a sale on their schedule, at the best price, with perks. Sites like these offer low pricing with free shipping, and often additional extras like free returns. The old adage “Content is King” doesn’t fit this consumer, because content hardly plays a part in their purchasing decisions. If there is a better price somewhere else, they’re gone.
However, according to the 2014 Gallup Report State of the American Consumer, customers only shop based on price when there is no emotional connection to a particular brand or retailer — when they are not engaged. They shop based on price when price is the only thing separating competing offerings.Emotional Loyalty
Emotionally loyal shoppers are the ones that we would call “engaged,” and they are a different breed entirely. These shoppers want to feel catered to, and in return for this personalized service they become brand loyal. They get to know the brand, the brand gets to know them, and a sort of relationship is formed.
A brand that fosters emotional loyalty is likely to have a much more devoted customer base, with higher repeat sales and customer retention. While Amazon and Overstock may be popular sites, their customers will abandon those sites for a better deal. Let’s say, for instance, that one day Amazon decides to increase their margins, or drops their free shipping. One simple move like that eliminates their edge and those once loyal shoppers will be gone in an instant.
Enter retail and online giants like Target and Walmart. Their business models and store experiences are relatively similar, but they’ve developed two separate types of shopper loyalty. Target shoppers are emotionally loyal -- they know the Target mascot Bullseye, the brand name, and the brand story. Walmart shoppers are transactionally loyal, dedicated to the best price possible, and the convenience that Walmart stores provide. But the question remains -- what keeps a customer around for the long haul?
As the multi-channel retail world becomes increasingly competitive, brands will need to focus on building that customer connection. According to the Gallup State of the American Consumer report, fully engaged shoppers make 44 percent more visits per year to their preferred retailer than disengaged shoppers. The increase in visits pays off, says Gallup, as these loyal shoppers spend twice as much as other customers. Makes a pretty strong point for creating that brand-to-consumer connection, no?
Retailers that survive on price competitiveness alone will have to incorporate other ways to turn their transactional shoppers into brand advocates, or risk a lifetime of low margins and customer discounting. While a transactionally loyal shopper may never be as as devoted and long-term a customer as their emotionally loyal counterparts, they can be swayed to make a purchase, and if a brand can deliver on what sways them, then they’ll keep that customer coming back.
Showing the transactional loyalist some extra attention might also turn them into emotional loyalists by appealing to their desire for the deal. Maybe you give them a free shipping offer at a time in the sales cycle when that customer regularly abandons their cart, or offer them a limited time coupon code. Or maybe you deliver a product recommendation that fulfills their need at the exact time they need it, based upon what they’re been searching for. This shows the customer that you care enough to provide personalized service, and that you’re paying attention to why they’re visiting your site.
While price or a specific offer may bring them to visit your site initially, you can personalize the service you provide and build an emotional connection. And if you can build an emotional connection, you’ll win almost every time.Tags: retail commerce customer loyalty
Here in New England, the sun is finally shining, the snow mountains are finally melting, and yet we can’t wait to jet cross country for the next duo of commerce conferences. In April, our commerce team will be attending two major industry events, the 2015 Demandware XChange Conference (April 13-15) and the Magento Imagine Commerce 2015 Conference (April 20-22) -- both held in warm, sunny Las Vegas. We’ll be armed with two of our commerce pros -- Ray Grady and Kelly O’Neill -- at each event, who will be ready to talk commerce -- Acquia Commerce, Demandware, Magento, and how we can all work together to create outstanding digital commerce experiences.
Commerce is already booming, but getting some of the brightest commerce minds together in one place is what leads to even greater innovation, ideas, and improvements. We’re excited to see what ideas -- big and small -- come out of these events. Here’s a bit about each, and why we’re thrilled to be a part of the action!
First and foremost, we’re one of Demandware’s professional LINK solution partners, so we like to be involved with them whenever we can. The XChange conference brings together industry thought leaders and retailers on the cutting edge of commerce, which is precisely the audience we’re hoping to connect with. Together we’ll get to experience two and a half days of presentations, workshops, strategic conversations, networking events, and opportunities for collaboration. Ray Grady (Senior Vice President, Commerce), Kelly O’Neill (Senior Director, Commerce), and John Dolce (Solutions Architect) will all be on hand at this event -- please stop by for a chat!
Now in it’s 5th year, the Magento Imagine Commerce conference brings together more than 2,400 businesses and individuals from more than 40 countries to discuss the state of the commerce. So the real question is, how could we not be there? Ray Grady and Kelly O’Neill will be at booth # 31 at the Magento Imagine Commerce 2015 Conference, and they look forward to meeting you!
About our commerce pros
Ray Grady has an extensive background in ecommerce. He was a member of the Executive Management team and helped to start the Acquity Group, and during his tenure there developed a go-to-market strategy and sales organization that resulted in a CAGR of more than 40 percent. Prior to Acuity Group, Ray was a VP and Principal at marchFIRST.
Kelly O’Neill has an expertise in the world of commerce, with a strong background in commerce technology and systems from her years spent at Oracle and ATG. She has her finger on the pulse of news across the commerce industry, understands the technical backend of commerce systems, and is an incredible asset to our commerce team.
John Dolce is a Solutions Architect focused on the Acquia Commerce product. He brings over fifteen years of experience to the job, delivering knowledge driven technology solutions, with a specialization in Enterprise Content Management and Mobile Development. He delivers on all phases of the software development lifecycle including writing proposals, defining architectures, leading development efforts, and introducing new solutions.
We see both of these conferences as a fantastic opportunity to meet with folks in the industry, build some new relationships, and exchange ideas to help the world of commerce grow. If you are a current or potential Demandware or Magento customer, we look forward to discussing your business needs, and how Acquia can help you achieve them!
Yesterday, Amazon announced a great new feature for S3: cross-region replication. It is yet another in a long list of improvements that increase the value and power of AWS.
However, before you jump on the bandwagon, there is an important safety tip: Check the pricing carefully! AWS charges the normal S3 data transfer cost when S3 migrates objects from one region to another. Storing 1 GB in S3 costs $.03/month. Transferring 1 GB from one S3 region to another costs $.02/GB. In other words, it costs 68% as much to transfer data to another region once as it does to store it for an entire month.
If you are making one remote-region backup of a stable object that you are going to keep for a while, that can be a perfectly reasonable price to pay. However, if you are thinking, "Hey, now we can store our nightly backups in the local region and in a remote region for only twice the cost, with no extra effort!," think again. Transferring an object from one S3 region to another every night will increase your total monthly cost for those objects by twenty times, because 30*68% = 20.4. That cost might still be fine for you, but you should certainly be aware of it. Caveat emptor. :-)
That said, we are already evaluating using S3 cross-region replication for several use cases and believe this is once again a great demonstration of AWS innovation.Tags: bjaspan's blog aws
Sometimes we can’t plan for it. Sometimes we have a moment’s notice. Other times it’s our most anticipated day of the year. No matter the situation, every organization has experienced a time when their digital properties could not fail—or the business impact would be devastating.
In this blog series, we’re showcasing what it meant for three of Acquia's largest customers to have a site that could not fail. We’ll highlight both business and technical preparation, continuous improvements, platform insights, and the importance of always listening to those providing feedback on the experience.The Story
In the summer of 2014, a major publisher experienced one of largest traffic spikes in the brand’s digital history. This media and entertainment conglomerate was given the exclusive story to cover one of the biggest news stories in sports all year.
During the publisher’s weekly standing check-in call with Acquia, the customer said that they were expecting a high traffic event—in just a few minutes. The publication's team had just been notified themselves, and they still did not know what the actual event would be, just that it would be big. Not a lot of time, but Acquia was up to the challenge.
While still on the phone, the Acquia technical account manager filed a ticket to Acquia’s support group. But traffic was already starting to spike; the announcement had been made.
It took the Acquia team less than two minutes to triple the amount of virtual hardware they provisioned.
Good thing. Because over six million viewers came to the publisher’s website to learn more about this event. For six hours, traffic poured in at record levels. It didn't settle down to normal for three or four days. All during this time, "the public had no idea that things were anything but rosy," Acquia’s technical account manager recalled.
"As soon as we saw the load going up, we started adding virtual web servers and upsizing the balancers," he added. "We dug through logs to tune and improve performance."
The publisher’s website didn’t crash. It didn’t topple over from the largest single event-driven day of traffic it had ever seen. It continued to deliver on the promise it made to its readership: that high quality content would always be engaging and accessible.
"Because of the level of monitoring we do and the automation tools we use, we could see the problem and respond by scaling and tuning, even before word of the event got around Acquia," the Acquia technical account manager said.
A recent global survey of more than 500 businesses for the Reducing Customer Struggle report found that companies are losing nearly a quarter of their annual online revenue due to a bad website experience. That’s billions of dollars lost and customers who won’t come back because of a digital experience that left a bad impression.
Whether you’re a publisher experiencing an unexpected spike, an enterprise facing transformation in an industry where digital transformation is lacking, or a smaller brand on the cusp of breaking into a new market, your digital presence can’t fail.
And bottom line: Acquia’s robust platform, based on the open source Drupal software, combined with expert support and operations staff wouldn’t let this publisher’s site fail.
"This was a situation that was either going to be the best day of the year or the worst day of the year,” Acquia’s technical account manager said. “It's very satisfying that it turned out to be one of the best."Behind the Scenes
When it comes to capacity planning, some organizations plan for a worst-case scenario. They purchase larger-than-necessary capacity to be permanently available. But this is wasted money. Conversely, some organizations under-plan for traffic. Without the means to increase capacity on demand, they suffer outages and, ultimately, loss of revenue.
With Acquia Cloud, the guesswork is eliminated. You only pay for what you need. Acquia Cloud scales with burstable and elastic resources, which can be added quickly and easily on demand. Our operations team can scale up resources for any period of time, and then return resources back to normal levels when traffic subsides.
We know that scaling is complex, so we do the work for you. We add resources in real time to address changing traffic conditions seamlessly when a site needs it most. Scaling on Acquia Cloud does not require risky architectural changes like migrations and resizing. But we do scale the ecosystem, not just the hardware. We scale across all layers of the environment––web servers, file systems, databases, and load balancers. The architecture scales across the MySQL database layer using data replication and the file system layer utilizing GlusterFS to ensure syncing. The web server layer is scaled up by running active web servers in multiple availability zones. We run dedicated Memcached servers for sites with high workloads and multiple load balancers to ensure traffic is distributed. This level of Drupal-aware customization doesn't exist outside of Acquia.
As part of the scaling enablement strategy, it is important for customers to have a site insulation strategy so that visitors are not aware of traffic increases. Acquia uses Varnish caching in front of all traffic to speed up sites. Additional features such as geolocation, mobile redirection, and CDN implementation can be enabled. Acquia has over 25 personnel across our Professional Services, Technical Account Management, and Support organizations who specialize in performance, focusing load testing, database query rewriting, stack tracing, and more.
At Acquia, our passion is customer success. Because of that, your site doesn’t become the next headline. Your best day doesn’t become your worst; your biggest events are uneventful behind the scenes. In essence, we don’t sleep, so you can. Our team of experts is on hand 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year so that you don’t fail. You get a true partnership with Acquia.
No matter the time of day, or the size of the traffic spike, we have your back. So instead of downtime, your traffic spikes yield growth and success.Tags: web platform hosting drupal
I met with a Fortune 500 company earlier this month who is considering building their own web content management system from the ground up. This would mean spending millions of dollars architecting and coding a custom system to replace the existing legacy custom system they have already invested millions of dollars into, building bespoke CMS technology that still doesn’t meet their requirements. Build-your-own content management systems have been part of the world from the earliest days of the Web. Ron Miller, a well known TechCrunch writer covering the CMS space, published on this topic a couple years ago. His conclusion? In some cases, such as Media & Entertainment publishing properties, the decision to build their own was driven by the feeling the available tech couldn’t meet their needs or drive the important strategic role a CMS plays in their business mode. Miller makes a great cautionary point:
... when you decide to roll your own, you head down a slippery slope, one that many companies learned about the hard way in the 90s. Sure that system might meet your needs today and even next year, but with a constantly evolving publications marketplace, how can you possibly adapt and change the system quickly when those inevitable changes are required. You could find yourself with an expensive, obsolete system in short order with very few options available to you for upgrading. How many of the older systems could adapt to mobile delivery or easily incorporate social media?
The evolution of the Web as it progresses in sophistication and capabilities means the role of content management has been transformed from the earliest days of the mid-90s to today, when digital experiences mean so much more than merely browser-based websites:
Dries Buytaert recently published his thoughts on The Big Reverse of the Web. He covers the transition from consumers “pulling” web experiences to the new model of expecting highly relevant and data-informed-experiences being “pushed” to them. In essence, in the early days of the web, a Website with static content did the trick. To deliver static sites, Custom CMS solutions were often the only way to launch and manage websites in those early years. Then so-called “Web 2.0” brought about the dawn of site experiences that were highly dynamic and started to cross into the first social and mobile channels. Keeping up with the ever-increasing opportunity wasn’t possible with custom-built solutions which had proven to be too rigid and unmanageable.
In this timeframe, hundreds of proprietary point solutions were created to address each new opportunity. You needed a mobile experience? There were/are app providers galore. You needed to build a customer community? There was/is an entire selection of social business software to choose from. Email platforms, web content management platforms, social media marketing… the list goes on.
The result for most was a sheer mess. Today organizations are saddled with complex, legacy systems that have become unaffordable, impossible to integrate, and incapable of keeping pace with innovation and customer expectations. These patchworks of custom code, point solutions, and the need to integrate with legacy back office systems means most organizations are unable to harness customer and user data, and proliferate that data across their solutions to ensure each system delivers for each user’s personal context.
So we get to today’s technical decision point: How is an organization going to architect data-driven, contextualized experiences? What investment will achieve this goal and not leave them in the same spot 2-3 years down the road?
This is why “Build” is coming back: the perception of control and the desire to be in control of their own fates, the hope that cost will be more easily managed, and that greater flexibility and control will come from releasing the shackles that have chained enterprises to proprietary tech roadmaps. In the past, their tech didn’t move fast enough, or integrate well enough, and being a customer was more like being a prisoner.
But control is the wrong decision criteria. These are the decision criteria that should drive today’s technology investment decisions:
- Agility - How easy will it be to change this system? Add features? How quickly can this be done?
- Flexibility - Can this approach easily integrate with solutions I don’t want to or can’t leave?
- Freedom - Do I have some level of control over my own roadmap? Can I change vendors without too much pain?
- Sustainability - Will this solution evolve with the pace of technical change? When the next “Pinterest” launches, will I be able to integrate that into my digital experience quickly and at a low cost?
- Resiliency - Can I trust this approach to deliver my experience reliably even among unplanned traffic spikes?
- Manageability - Will this approach simplify the existing technical environment for my business and technical teams?
So how is Acquia reframing Build vs. Buy? It’s pretty simple. It’s a redefinition of what it means to Build. In fact, everyone who has created a site with Acquia is a builder. But Acquia customers don’t build from scratch. They don’t build the foundation, instead benefitting from the innovation of Drupal, one of the largest open source projects in the world. When Acquia customers build, they build differentiation - the 20% of every project that really matters the most.
Repeat: Our customers are builders. The difference? They don’t build the foundation, they build differentiation.
We offer customers a foundational solution - The Acquia Platform. They own their core application by taking advantage of open source Drupal, and are therefore in charge of their digital destiny and not held to an exclusively proprietary roadmap. We ensure their success by helping them start their build near the finish line.Tags: web content management wcm
Every organization needs to harness technology and strategies to transform its business, and to move forward fast in a digital-first world.
If you do this right, you're ready to empower your customers and deliver personalized digital experiences across websites, mobile, social, and commerce platforms. You've embraced Age of the Customer thinking.
It also means you have the chance to apply digital technology to become a more efficient operation across sales, marketing, customer service, support, and even manufacturing and R&D. The digital enterprise is here.
Yet I’m still amazed when I encounter enterprise leaders and organizations that only pay lip service to adopting new digital technology, or ignore the need for real digital transformation effort. The true threat? It’s not taking this seriously. Your market and your customers will gladly pass you by.
Becoming an effective digital organization offers huge rewards. It also poses a huge risk if you don’t get it right.
I know, I know. There are many (many!) barriers to success, such as:
- New digital technologies for managing content, personalizing experiences, and leveraging customer data. They are coming at you faster than your capacity to adopt and put them to use.
- Your customers, who are constantly demanding more, better, faster –more personal!– digital experiences and online engagement, and threatening to defect to your competition, making execution even harder.
- C-level execs demanding rapid growth and measurable results through digital business execution – right now – because they know that to fall behind in a digital-first world means they’re likely to lose their jobs, planning be damned.
But there’s a radical truth to embrace if you want to start getting things right.
Simply put, to be successful at digital transformation and to deliver great digital experiences to customers, you must align your technology and your business efforts. Break down the silos. Learn to cooperate, not be at each others’ throats. And, take the time to define a strategic plan aligned with business goals.
In my dozen or so years in the WCM and digital experience world, the lack of cooperation and strategic alignment between IT and Business teams may be the most common reason why it’s difficult to overcome the three barriers to digital transformation listed above, and why digital initiatives fail.
It’s usually not due solely to technology. It’s usually not due to lack of desire to change. Too often, it’s the lack of alignment between traditional IT leaders and Business leaders, so change – however wanted – can’t get accomplished. New technology decisions get pushed off; the priorities of IT clash with those of marketing; control over web and digital priorities becomes a battleground and nothing gets done.
I’ll follow this up with other posts about the IT-Business problem and provide some guidance on how you can fix it. I’d love to hear your experiences (named or anonymous).
Does your organization suffer from IT-Business problems? Are operational silos standing in the way of digital transformation? How are you attacking the problem? Let me know in the comments or drop me a note with “IT-Business” in the subject line.Tags: digital transformation IT business organizational structure organizational change
The unique appeal of Snapchat from a brand marketing perspective is the allure of the elusive images. Traditional “snaps” only last for 10 seconds before they disappear forever. This means that unlike a pin on Pinterest or a post on Instagram -- which exist indefinitely -- a snap’s lifetime is finite, and if not “consumed” during it’s lifetime, it’s lost. This creates an unusual opportunity for brands to interact with their customers, and to target them on a platform that is frequently used in their daily lives. Business Insider recently suggested that they’re nearing nearly 200 million active monthly users -- that’s a lot of eyeballs for a brand to capture!
Brands from retail, media, entertainment, and publishing industries are buying into the power of Snapchat. Victoria’s Secret and People Magazine recently launched a campaign through Snapchat’s new publisher portal, Discover -- the app’s first official offering for brand advertisers (currently only in a limited rollout). Michael Kors hopped on board in an attempt to brand build themselves, and to connect with their target audience of fashion-minded millennials. Media companies like Universal have used Snapchat as a venue for pushing out new movie trailers, and publishing companies like Cosmopolitan, as another channel for sharing new content.
To Snap or Not to Snap
So how do you determine if Snapchat is the right platform for your business? The question of whether to Snap or not to Snap is a relatively easy one. Snapchat has a very specific demographic, so that either works for your brand or it doesn’t. Companies targeting a predominantly female crowd between the ages of 18 and 24 will see the most success here.
Brand Building and Engagement
Before brands entered the Snapchat game, it was used only as a means for regular people sharing tidbits of their day with a friend -- especially those moments that you didn’t necessarily want to share with the whole world.
Now a user could just as easily get a peek into the life of their favorite brands, and that behind-the-curtain look and more intimate level of communication is very unique. This gives brands an opportunity to craft and refine their personality, using quirky, edgy, or even provocative images to pique the interest of a consumer. Snapchat lets your brand story be told, often with different content than other channels, and in situations -- like fashion week -- where brands can give consumers a peek of moments they aren’t regularly exposed to. The use of beautiful, evocative images that inspire and excite will leave your buyers always wanting more.
Coupons and Exclusives
Snapchat is also a great avenue for pushing out promotions and customer exclusives -- an effective yet unobtrusive way for retailers to build brand affinity. Whether it’s a coupon or giveaway, a snap of a limited availability item, a limited time offer for select shoppers, or a behind-the-scenes peek at the brand, exclusive offerings can create intrigue and excitement, both of which translate into a more positive brand image.
One practical way this can be applied is through the distribution of coupons. Given the perishable nature of snaps, users can’t view the snap until they are ready to purchase, which means they will have to go through the entire browsing and selecting process before they can open the Snapchat and apply the coupon to their purchase. Additionally, retailers can somewhat control where they drive their traffic -- online or in-store -- by denoting where the offer is valid.
New Offerings and Future Potential
Snapchat has rolled out both their “Stories” and “Discover” features, two different mediums brands can use for engaging their customers. These are more official ways of brand advertising, and arguably allow for a higher level of engagement, but they also come with a price tag.
So what comes next?
Beacon and bluetooth integration is one really interesting idea that could be a tremendous opportunity in the future. We’ve been talking about beacon technology forever, but it’s something that really hasn’t come to fruition. Through an integration with a platform like Snapchat that is purpose built for push notifications and alerts, beacon technology’s location-based targeting capabilities could be tapped into for deep engagement opportunities that simply don’t exist anywhere else.
Bottom line: get creative! Snapchat is a highly visual platform that allows for an exceptional amount of freedom to be creative, to tell a story, and to let your brand’s personality shine through. It’s social nature makes it ideal for the media-obsessed age of today’s consumer, and for brands, it’s a rare opportunity to express a more human side. By utilizing Snapchat, you’re opening your brand up to a new world of opportunity.Tags: social commerce snapchat social selling
Republished from The Digital Economy Report
Digital has changed everything in today’s world of online commerce. Personalization of digital experiences is no longer an extra, but an expectation. If a customer has visited your site once, they expect you to recognize them on subsequent visits and they expect a tailored experience.
A study by Janrain showed that the majority of consumers – 75 percent – like it when brands personalize messaging and offers. Personalization is a win-win; customers are presented with what they want to see, and in turn they’re more apt to have higher conversion rates and greater satisfaction.
In fact, O2’s study The Rise of Me-tail shows that adding personalization to a shopping experience could lift sales by 7.8 percent. In order to provide a personalized experience, businesses must leverage data from multiple sources, and apply that data to serve customers with relevant content, product recommendations and services based on intent, location, and interests.
Contextualization – knowing your customer’s interests, behavior, and content preferences across all channels – is a more thoughtful and comprehensive approach to personalization that is quickly becoming a key component of the customer experience.
A single action or purchase should not be the only insight a company uses to dictate what content and offers a customer receives. Businesses should be constantly monitoring behaviors, collecting data, and using those observations to inform and improve future experiences. Contextualization looks at a customer’s browsing history, demographic information, browsing activity prior to landing on your site, the device they’re using and more.
Thinking about contextualization requires your business to consider the entire path a customer might take over the course of multiple site visits. This includes what pages, products or offers you’ve driven them to, as well as what content they have interacted with on their own. Having a clear understanding of all browsing paths and interactions leads to a better view of the customer’s experience.
While contextualization is often seen within retail, all businesses and industries can benefit from this customer-centric shift. Media, entertainment and publishing companies, for example, can improve engagement and readership by looking at audience data and delivering customized content with each and every visit.
The vast majority, as much as 95 percent, of site visitors are typically anonymous, but that doesn’t mean they are unknown. From the very first visit to your site, information is collected from each user, which becomes the foundation for building their unified customer profile. This profile will continue to grow with each new visit, whether the customers identify themselves or not.
Then ideally, if they choose to sign up for an e-mail or register a product, their known profile will be merged with their anonymous one, creating a cohesive view of who they are, what interests them and how they have interacted with your brand in the past.
Unified customer profiles extend beyond your site to all touch points where your customers interact with your brand, both on and offline. It’s not enough to have a personalized experience on your main site alone, but across all your sites, across all devices and in your physical locations as well.
A study by Content Plus found that 70 percent of consumers prefer getting to know a company through content rather than advertisements, which means personalizing a site experience through delivery of effective, relevant content is even more imperative for creating a seamless experience across all channels.
Taking this cross-channel approach ensures that your customer receives the same personalized experience regardless of where they are interacting with you. As they engage across channels, this gives your brand the opportunity to collect more and more data, and to continue to improve your customer’s experience, gain their trust, build loyalty and set expectations.
The brands that conquer contextualization are those that intuitively know each of their customers, and can dynamically and continuously update their user profile to deliver personalized content and offers.Tags: personalization content commerce data
Retailers are experimenting with alternative commerce experiences to make the shopping journey easier and provide it across all channels, from brick and mortar to online to mobile and beyond. The most successful retailers unite their messaging and media across channels, taking a “channel-less” approach to interacting with the consumer, and enabling commerce wherever the consumer is. Here are a few ways retail is embracing ways to make browsing and shopping possible everywhere.
Bring the store to the people
To be able to shop anywhere, you need a cash register everywhere: the shopping cart on a mobile device, the ‘Buy’ button on Facebook, or the online site within a site. During the 2014 holiday season, Amazon rolled out a holiday marketing campaign throughout the NYC subway system, targeting commuters with brand messaging and holiday promotions through touch-screen kiosks set-up in subway stations. Early in 2015, they opened their first on-campus pick-up location for students at Purdue University. The brick and mortar location is the first staffed Amazon storefront where customers can pick-up online orders and drop-off returns.
Shoppable content, online and off
Providing the ability to shop everywhere also means providing the ability to browse everywhere, through a Tweet, a blog post, or an online lookbook. Websites like Suitsupply, Anthropologie, French Connection, are enabling this kind of commerce through stylishly laid out rich content in the form of lookbooks, online catalogues and magazines, blogs, and more.
In 2013, Kate Spade debuted “shoppable windows” where passerby could interact with touch-screen windows, browse clothing colors, sizes, and styles, and order the desired products right on the glass.
Mobile in-store checkout
In 2011, Apple revolutionized in-store checkout by offering shoppers a way to check themselves out using their smart phones. I was recently shopping at a Nordstrom Rack, and there was a sales kiosk set-up in the women’s department with an employee, her iPhone, and a receipt printer. Right there in the middle of several racks of jeans, I returned one item and bought a couple new ones, without waiting in line or even having to walk more than a handful of steps. Other companies like URBN, DSW Shoe Warehouse, and more have also added mobile checkout options in-store to streamline the process.
GameStop recently announced a new program using Microsoft’s cloud services to enable mobile shopping in their brick and mortar stores. The system enables shoppers to browse and add items from their smart phones to their mobile shopping carts, and then have a store associate collect those items and have them ready at check-out in-store.
Turning traditional advertising avenues into sales channels
In 2014, H&M piloted a program where consumers with internet-connected Samsung smart TV’s could purchase a pair of briefs shown on David Beckham, with the simple click of a remote during television advertisements. Burberry has simulcast their fashion shows around the world, and enabled pre-sale options -- thereby giving avid shoppers exclusive access to coveted new products, while simultaneously gaining valuable insights into popular styles in the coming year. Delivery Agent, an interactive commerce company, turned the Super Bowl XLIX halftime show into a shoppable event, enabling viewers to purchase through smart TV’s, Twitter, and more.
A Store Within a Store - brands and retailers working together
This cross-channel retail world also offers new and innovative ways for brands and retailers to work together. The Samsung and Best Buy partnership is one of the most notable to date. When you visit a Best Buy store, you’re now able to shop a Samsung “store within a store,” where you can browse Samsung products in a space that adheres to their own brand guidelines, but that lives within the confines of a physical Best Buy location. The same goes for BestBuy.com, where you can peruse a similarly branded “Samsung Brand Page.” The benefit for Best Buy is increased foot (or site) traffic, and rich content to help shoppers make the right purchase, and for Samsumg, a new sales channel for purchasing and product discovery that comes with brand and messaging control.
Social sites integrating commerce
Pinterest recently announced its plans to add a ‘Buy’ button to its website, which will allow users to purchase without ever leaving Pinterest. Facebook and Twitter already have on-site and in-app purchasing capabilities. Site browsers will be able to browse and buy without navigating away, enabling a new platform for social commerce, and undeniably a channel with untapped potential for retailers.
The message here is clear: Diversify your channel strategy, and distribute your commerce. Meet the consumer where it’s impossible for them to miss you, and the increased sales will reflect the integrated and innovative approach.commerce omnichannel online commerce social commerce mobile
Un retour sur investissement de 944%. Du jamais vu... jusqu’à présent. Acquia vient de publier une étude TEI (Total Economic Impact) conduite par Forrester Consulting, montrant l’impact financier considérable que peut avoir la mise en œuvre d’Acquia Cloud Site Factory en permettant de :
- Réduire les coûts de développement et de support des sites
- Économiser les ressources informatiques et de marketing digital
- Améliorer la normalisation et la gouvernance
- Accélérer le time-to-market
- Renforcer l’évolutivité
- Délivrer des expériences web optimisées
Ce n’est un secret pour personne : délivrer des expériences digitales exceptionnelles à grande échelle peut constituer un réel défi. L’expansion des marques, l’évolution des produits et la disponibilité de nouvelles offres imposent aux sociétés d’adapter leur présence digitale. Les équipes doivent s’accorder sur l’identité de la marque, les messages, le flux de travail et la vision de leur société. La gestion de nombreux sites représente une difficulté supplémentaire. Comment garantir une évolution adaptée ? Qui est responsable du lancement des sites ? Et, plus important encore, comment garder la maîtrise des sites et instaurer un modèle de gouvernance qui permette à votre organisation de prospérer et de progresser ?
Acquia Cloud Site Factory facilite la gestion multi-sites grâce à un processus simple pour la duplication des sites et un tableau de bord unique permettant un contrôle sans précédent sur des centaines de sites. Tout en réduisant considérablement le time-to-market, Site Factory garantit l’absence de restriction créative, de limitation quant aux caractéristiques ou fonctionnalités personnalisées, et de goulot d’étranglement dans les flux de travail.
L’étude de Forrester montre comment quatre clients Site Factory, qui étaient auparavant confrontés à ces problèmes, tirent désormais profit de cette plateforme de gestion multi-sites. Forrester estime que pour une « organisation composite » basée sur les caractéristiques de ces quatre sociétés, l’adoption de Site Factory permettrait :
- Un retour sur investissement (ROI) de 944%
- Une réduction de jusqu’à 80% des coûts liés aux sites
- Une économie de 1,1 million de dollars en évitant de recruter du personnel informatique supplémentaire
- Une réduction de 20% des taux de rebond sur les sites web grâce à une plus grande cohérence de la marque
- Un accroissement de 50% de la productivité
Et ce ne sont là que quelques uns des nombreux indicateurs positifs. Le rapport contient des données et des témoignages clients montrant comment ces marques relèvent les défis de la révolution digitale avec une solution qui leur a donné la possibilité de reprendre le contrôle de leurs sites web et d’établir un modèle de gouvernance propice à la création d’expériences exceptionnelles à grande échelle.
Little beats an afternoon at the ballpark or a night sitting court-side. Yet diehard sports fans follow their favorite teams every day, all year round -- through forums online, investments in fantasy leagues, bets on brackets, squares, and pools, and team merchandise purchases. In this saturated market, there's an abundance of resources for fans to get the latest news, scores, schedules, and other team updates that they seek.
Fans get their sports news and information from networks like Fox and NBC, who like ESPN now have 24/7 broadcast and digital sports operations. Digital media offers a constant stream of news and updates in real-time, while regional print and broadcast media are committed to carrying play-by-play coverage and analysis too. Teams have their own media division; many offer amazing, immersive resources for fans. As leagues and franchises up their media game, they have an amazing opportunity to bring fans inside the lines and disrupt the entire fan experience.
Athletic leagues and their sanctioning bodies are certainly eager to grow their fan loyalty, but how? Solving this problem means finding a platform that supports the building and deployment of agile, integrated, and engaging digital experiences. And it’s possible to do just that with Acquia and WPP agency VML.
We recently announced a partnership to develop a solution that will help both pro and amateur sports organizations deliver improved digital experiences, by integrating rich content, active fan communities, and commerce capabilities. Essentially, we’ve created an application for the rapid delivery of beautiful and interactive sports sites.
VML has a deep history working with sports right holders, helping them to create impactful digital experiences. The Acquia Platform marries an organization’s existing business tools with our own solutions to target, test, and recommend relevant content and offers to site visitors. This partnership enables a solution that will bring increased integration across both physical and digital experiences using rich media, real-time content, and direct interaction amongst fans, athletes, and the greater community. The latest scandals, draft day information, free agency updates, real-time scoring, and every other integral detail to a sports fan can be accessed through one enhanced experience that is owned by the league or team. Instead of hopping around from site to site for different pieces of information, fans -- your team’s best advocates -- will be able to do it all with you.sports VML WPP partner Acquia partner partnerships
I just came across an article on TheStreet called Can Target Escape the Stigma of Having Been Slow to Digital? It paints a pretty dire picture of Target’s digital commerce failures, according to Target's Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer Casey Carl.
"As consumers rapidly embraced digital, we reacted too slowly," Carl said. "We played catch-up, and we treated the businesses separately, while competitors who doubled down their investments and moved to integrate their organizations grabbed market share.
Target noted that is was "too reliant on third-party vendors" and lacked "a strong bench of in-house expertise. In other words, Target didn’t take digital transformation seriously. It initially outsourced its platform to Amazon.com, then tried to run digital commerce as a separate business, while competitors like Walmart and Amazon took a “digital-first” mentality to the future of commerce. And now Target has a long climb ahead to re-establish itself in the highly competitive retail market.
And what happened to Target can happen to any business in any industry. Consider the financial services industry. I was recently introduced to Venmo as a fast and fun way to send money. Many on the marketing team at Acquia use Venmo multiple times a day. Sure, they still log into their bank website to check balances or pay the occasional bill, but Venmo owns the engagement by providing far more compelling experience… and it supports Emoji’s! Is Venmo a threat to the stoic financial services industry? Absolutely.
Sustainable business success all comes down to agility and innovation. Companies who embrace digital, win. Companies who fight it and hold onto legacy business models, lose.
photo credit:Dean Hochman
Personalization is paramount in the retail world of 2015. If you read our piece on Banana Republic’s failed attempt at personalization, then you know the kind of powerful impact that can have on a previously devout, brand loyal shopper. Today’s consumers have developed savvy sensibilities and a distinct BS meter to weed out the retailers who do it right, and those who don’t. The difference between delivering a personalized, contextual experience with relevant recommendations vs. one that is manufactured and mis-timed is a matter of lost sales, lost customers, and a poor brand image. If retailers aren’t ready to dive in and get their hands dirty using hard data to inform their recommendation algorithms, then this could be the year that they start to really fall behind.
After recently noticing an updated Amazon.com homepage, a few of us at Acquia tested out what appeared to be an amped up recommendation engine. I received some relevant book recommendations, and was pleased to see a few new-to-me author and title suggestions. The experience encouraged me to engage more than I intended. It did precisely the job that good content should do.
My colleague, who had recently purchased a set of green curtains, was delivered a recommendation to buy the same curtains, only this time in blue. Had Amazon recommended a set of curtain rods or another household accessory, they might’ve made another sale, but instead they delivered redundant content that did more to dissuade a purchase than to encourage another one. What worked in the case of the books -- recommending different titles within the same product category -- did not work with the curtains. The algorithm needs to be smart enough not just to differentiate between product types, but product categories, colors, titles, authors, and any other variables that exist both in the catalogue of SKUs but also in the shopper’s mind.
The same issue apples in a multi-channel environment, where a shopper might buy curtains online, and matching pillows in store. So what recommendations does this person get next? The solution is complicated, because there isn’t just one right answer. Perhaps your algorithm would recommend a rug, or a side table, or a lamp for the side table -- context is absolutely imperative here, to be sure that the shopper is continually being delivered relevant recommendations that are smart. Unifying the online and offline customer data you have collected is imperative here, or your recommendations could completely miss the mark. One single, synchronized view of the customer is the only way forwards.
This, in a nutshell, is the difficulty and challenge of digital personalization and recommendations: they must be made in the correct context, and they must be delivered by sophisticated algorithms. Today’s shopper is savvy -- they know when they’re being genuinely catered to, and they also know when they’re dealing with a less-than-perceptive piece of bad artificial intelligence. Think of it as the modern version of Alan Turing’s “imitation game”: if the shopper sees poor recommendations, then the Wizard behind the curtain gets exposed. In the case of those blue curtains, Amazon took the purchase at face value instead of looking at it within the context that the customer did, and that is where they fell short. In the words of Acquia’s Senior Vice President of Technology, Chris Stone: “All too often, technology meant to power digital marketing only ends up exposing the marketer’s ignorance.”
In the last few years, there has been a major uptick in the number of companies with some level of personalization on their websites. What started first as targeted search results -- ‘if you like X then you might like Y’ -- geo-targeted offers that sussed out one’s rough location through IP address lookup, or simply a site remembering to welcome you back by name with a cookie -- has grown into something much more advanced, intuitive, and contextualized. Today’s best personalizers are all about delivering the right content at the right time in the right context - not just personalizing an experience, but predicting behaviors and crafting recommendations based off of those. The stakes of the new Imitation Game are more than proving that if machines can pass as people, it’s the difference between being a brand that gets its customers as people, or one that treats them like just another number.
In the case of those curtains, this shift in thinking and capabilities means understanding that a curtain purchase isn’t followed by another nearly identical purchase, but perhaps by the purchase of matching decorative pillows, or a cozy throw blanket. The customer bought the curtains in the context of addressing a need in his home -- that need was filled, so Amazon needs to be smart enough to anticipate the next need, and deliver on that instead.
Personalization takes careful planning, research, and implementation. One prominent CEO in the high tech industry once told us -- in reflecting on his days running the website for an extremely well known global tech company -- that the biggest miss in his career was the botched delivery of an ambitious personalization project. Achieving true personalization is getting harder and harder as people expect a higher touch digital experience. Personalization has been a part of the broader retail and commerce conversation for many, many years, but today’s version of personalization -- contextualization -- means catering towards a consumer that is far more particular, discerning, and smart. In order to properly personalize for today’s shoppers, a retailer must know their customers inside and out -- their pain points, their primary concerns, their wants and needs, their preferred device(s), and what kinds of content and offers will get them to click and convert. For many companies, this is a major initiative this year. Walmart is launching their own personalization algorithm in Q1 of 2015, with many more brands sure to follow.
Consumers aren’t stupid. We all understand how this game works now, and for retailers to get it right, they need to deliver smart and tactful recommendations based off of data that informs next purchasing decisions, not that replicates behavior patterns from the past. They also need to be able to maintain a cohesive experience across channels, so that a mobile experience is no different from a desktop or tablet experience. Too often recommended products miss the mark (think retargeted ads that follow you around the internet), and instead of having the intended positive effect on the consumer, they leave a sour taste in our mouths and a frustration with the brand that doesn’t lead to good things.
In order to adequately personalize, the engine or algorithm working behind the scenes to drive the front window of the website needs to be sophisticated, and the information being fed into it needs to be the right information. It all comes back to knowing the customer -- first their basic demographics, then their browsing and buying habits, their most commonly searched terms, their most frequented areas of the site. Without more in-depth data and a robust, integrated system for implementation, brands will continue to fall short as Amazon did in this instance, and brand loyalty cannot be built out of a place of irritation.Tags: commerce commerce personalization personalization
Today at the Adobe Summit, Adobe announced a new addition to Adobe Experience Manager called “Screens”. Here’s how VentureBeat described it: "New capabilities in Adobe Experience Manager allow marketers to create personalized interactive content experiences — with images, 3D interactive models, video, and other content — in those life-sized displays we’re beginning to see in retailers or hotels, and even in screen-equipped vending machines. Not to mention ATMs, gas station pump screens, car dashboard screens, and appliances."
In typical Adobe fashion, the showmanship of the reveal was amazing. The product demonstration showcased an Adobe executive publishing a new video to the Coke billboard in Times Square.
— Aseem Chandra (@aseemchandra) March 10, 2015
So Adobe showed updating content and publishing content to a non-traditional screen. That’s it. Companies do this millions of times a day. This isn’t news. It isn’t a revolutionary, magical new capability. It’s a slick demo created by a slick marketing team. Hey, I appreciate great marketing and demos as much as anyone.
But still, any modern web content management platform provides the ability to separate content from how it's presented, allowing content to be delivered in the right format to any screen. For example, Princess Cruises is using Acquia to drive its Princess at Sea experience, delivering content to its mobile app, video on demand system, and over 120+ screens on each of its cruise ships.
So, welcome Adobe to the brave new world of multi-screen publishing. Join us in the revolution to keep internet-connected devices like vending machines, ATMs, and gas station pumps full of vibrant, engaging experiences.
We’ve been doing this for a while, and we’re glad you’re finally here.
Drum roll, please! After a competitive application process with strong participation across the partner community, the Acquia MVP 2014 cohort has been selected.
The purpose of the MVP program is to recognize outstanding contributions from our partners that highlight, embed, and extend Acquia products. We believe the 2014 cohort reflects the technical strength of our partners across a broad range of Acquia products and focus areas.
And now, without further ado, we present the winners!
A robust set of APIs and Acquia Cloud hooks exist for partners to tightly integrate their own preferred devops process on top of Acquia Platform’s industry-leading Drupal-tuned application stack. Four members of the MVP 2014 cohort -- Justin Emond of Third and Grove, Richard Jones of i-KOS, Leonid Makarov of Blink Reaction, and Mike Miles of Genuine Interactive -- aptly demonstrate that the agnostic approach lends itself to complex site development requirements, including:
- Creating a templated site platform that enables clients to self-provision site instances to their own docroot
- Managing and enforcing best practices across many sites
- Triggering and rebuilding automated tests on new tag deployment custom release dashboards
The Acquia Cloud Site Factory solution for many sites was championed by Karl Kedrovsky at VML. In addition to forming an internal delivery practice centered around Site Factory, Karl worked with Aquia product teams to identify requirements for the Campaign Cloud product extension for agencies in WPP and other Acquia Agency Partners.
Extending the Acquia Platform was another common theme among the MVP 2014 cohort. Seth Gregory of Navigation Arts, Byron Kam of Janrain, and Oleg Ciubotaru of Propeople tackled projects as diverse as integrating Acquia Cloud with a RabbitMQ messaging transport, extending Acquia Search with a color matching algorithm, and integrating website registration and social single sign on with Aquia Lift.
Content-driven commerce remains a focus area for Acquia. During 2014, this initiative was bolstered by the development in the Acquia Commerce Cloud product offering. Ricardo Arteta of Globant was an early adopter and contributor to the platform, specifically integrating Drupal with the Demandware commerce platform on the Acquia Commerce Cloud.
A final theme for the 2014 MVP cohort was partner sponsorship and participation in the development of Drupal 8. Lucas Nascimento Arruda and Jean Kemparski Ribiero, both at Ci&T, served as senseis at a Drupal 8 hackathon that spearheaded the upgrade of many modules from Drupal 7.
And that’s a wrap for Acquia MVP 2014! While not all submissions could be chosen, we encourage partners to apply again this year with the 2014 cohort as a benchmark for the strength and quality of submissions.Tags: Acquia partner
De huidige ontwikkelingen binnen de retail industrie volgen elkaar in hoog tempo op. Hierin valt de laatste maanden een groot verschil op tussen de traditionele retailorganisaties en de organisaties die een vernieuwend concept nastreven. Grote verschillen worden hierin zichtbaar tussen de bedrijfsprocessen en kostenstructuur van traditionele organisaties en online verkopers. Een mooi voorbeeld stond onlangs in Sprout magazine. Deze infographic maakt direct inzichtelijk waar de grote verschillen zich voordoen, met name op het bieden van gemak voor de klanten, zoals ‘openingstijden’, en het verschil in kosten voor ‘arbeid’.
Het blijven innoveren binnen de retail blijft essentieel. Begin 2015 zagen we dit terug bij de ‘kwestie V&D’, waarbij werd aangegeven dat er de laatste jaren onvoldoende is ingespeeld op de klantbehoefte. De consument liet V&D links liggen en de omzet liep drastisch terug. Eenzelfde zagen we terug bij de onlangs aangekondigde reorganisatie van Blokker. En zoals aangegeven in verschillende berichten, ziet Blokker nog voldoende draagvlak om het tij te keren en een nieuwe strategie te lanceren die aansluit bij de huidige behoefte van de consument en inspeelt op online aankoop gedrag.
Beide organisaties hebben aangegeven om meer te richten op ‘online’. Te laat of niet, de digitale transformatie wacht op niemand, ook geen gevestigde retailketen uit het jaar 1887.
Eén van de organisaties die de laatste jaren volledig op het ‘klantgevoel’ inspeelt is Lush. Een goed voorbeeld hoe een retail organisatie een geweldige digitale beleving creëert en een omzetgroei realiseert in de huidige economische situatie. Lush is een uniek merk. Vandaag de dag is het nog steeds een familiebedrijf dat wereldwijd zo’n 900 fysieke winkels heeft. In de basis verkoopt Lush cosmetica en bad producten, maar de onderliggende laag is wellicht nog interessanter.
Het bedrijf heeft een zeer sterk gevoel voor identiteit en ethiek. Deze sociale insteek lijkt soms zelfs sterker en belangrijker dan het verkopen van het product zelf. Andy Russell, Creative Director bij Lush Digital, omschreef het onlangs als: “The bottom line doesn’t drive everything”. Met ander woorden: Er is meer nodig dan alleen het verkopen van het product. Lush is vervolgens, in tegenstelling tot bijvoorbeeld V&D, tijdig ingesprongen op de online mogelijkheden. Daarvóór was met name de 'sociale onderlaag’ zichtbaar in de fysieke winkels, maar er werd snel duidelijk dat dezelfde beleving ook online naar voren diende te komen. Hierdoor is Lush Digital een feit geworden en werd het online kanaal een uitbreiding van de organisatie. De groei die online werd doorgemaakt ging alle verwachtingen te boven en het werd al snel duidelijk dat online een sterker focusgebied diende te worden. Een stabiel en schaalbaar platform om digitale belevingen te creëren was hierin essentieel, zeker met de verwachte groei en expansie. Deze groei ging niet alleen op voor de online verkopen, maar leidde ook tot een hogere omzet in de fysieke winkels.
In de volgende blog omtrent het Acquia Platform een verdere uitleg over hoe Lush deze omzetgroei heeft waargemaakt door het inzetten van een consistente klantbeleving.
Field Marketing Manager Benelux & Nordics, Acquia
Every year, brands spend millions of dollars on content management systems to overhaul their digital strategies and create order from the chaos that has resulted from the unprecedented amounts of information they produce. Often they fail to realize that a content management system is only as good as the web governance model supporting it uses. And without a strong one, they end up right back where they started—with powerful technology done in by bad process.
Web governance is an organization’s structure of staff, systems, policies, and procedures for managing its websites. Effective web governance models inspire efficiency, control, and productivity—enabling organizations to be “well-oiled machines” with regard to creating, editing, approving, and publishing digital content. However, few organizations employ a successful web governance model—if they have one at all.Effective Web Governance
So what makes for great web governance? It’s important to understand that it is not an item on a checklist of tasks your organization needs to accomplish. It isn’t a one-time agenda topic for the weekly staff meeting. Web governance has to be an inherent part of your organization’s DNA. And like your digital strategy, it too must evolve over time.
Effective web governance begins with a well-defined doctrine that identifies key principles and procedures and answers some key questions:
- What’s the end game—the ideal picture of your organization’s strategy for the web and for web content management?
- What specific goals do you want to achieve?
- Why is web governance important for the team, department, and organization?
- What problems or challenges will it solve?
- How will success be measured? Based on gains in efficiency? Reduced time-to-market?
The next step is to identify key roles and responsibilities, especially around web content management. Who provides content? Who reviews content? Who approves content? Who directly implements content changes? Essentially, who is on the working team that needs to be in sync and in constant communication? Having a chain of custody and command in place will make collaboration seamless.
It’s important to note that adopting web governance may require organizational change—from how teams are managed to how they collaborate. Web governance must be synergistic, but it must empower rather than hinder individuals and teams. Namely, marketing, corporate communications, and web teams must be given greater control throughout the workflow in an effort to move faster. Centralizing control with IT only increases the ever-growing backlog and causes bottlenecks and delays.
Once you have the “who” identified, you need to determine the “when.” Each person or team involved in the process must be held accountable to an SLA that defines their output and associated timelines.
Once people and processes are documented and agreed upon by the working team, get executive support for your web governance strategy. This is crucial because the only way it will be adopted is if it is blessed and backed by those at the top.Putting Your Strategy Into Action
Finally, the fun part: putting your web governance strategy into action. Sometimes organizations plan but don’t execute. They spend countless hours in meetings planning for it and talking about it, but they don’t actually implement it. In the words of Nike, just do it.
And when you do, make it agile. There are many benefits to web governance, one of which is that it allows you to execute like an editorial team. Create, edit, publish, and share content as fast as a major media company. At first, the fast pace may be intimidating and the process in and of itself may seem tedious. But don’t underestimate its importance for achieving brand consistency, staying relevant to your customers, and transforming as an organization.Tags: web governance
This blog series - Redefining Commerce - highlights retail brands that are elevating traditional online commerce experiences, pushing the boundaries of what it means to be an online retailer, and delivering unparalleled consumer experiences.
Shopping is a very visual activity -- online or off, being able to see and feel materials, textures, colors, and patterns is vitally important when deciding whether or not to make a purchase. While online shopping is easy and convenient, it lacks the tactile experience a shopper gets when they visit a brick and mortar store. For this reason, online retailers have a challenge in front of them: to create an experience that delights and converts without the customer ever physically interacting with a product. Few retailers have really mastered this, but Born Shoes is one of the select few that have.
The Born Shoes website is truly a work of art. Their stunning visuals and beautiful brand story are captivating for shoppers, delivering an experience that evokes feelings in a way that many traditional commerce sites cannot. At every touch point across the site, you’re immersed in their brand story -- a beautiful union of written content, product, and graphics. They use clever language, video, and stylized photography to weave their story throughout each and every page, while delivering precisely the information that a shopper might want, and nothing more.
Craftsmanship is a cornerstone of their brand, and is a clear focus across the site. Their “hand-sewn” story is an online interpretation of their high-quality, hand made construction, which is clear if you have a chance to actually wear a pair of their shoes. It’s another point at which they have expertly reinvented their in-store experience online.
They use beautiful photography and clever copy to tell the story of their “artisan crafted footwear,” and tout their products as an “artful interpretation of nature expressed in beautiful organic designs.” The above images outline the user flow from homepage to product page, which is visually cohesive, relevant, and informative. Individual product pages not only include all the desired product information, but their craftsmanship story is included there as well, to reinforce their commitment to quality.
They also have an impressive integration of user generated content, as seen above in their product page Instagram feature. Shoppers can join the Born Community to share photographs and favorite Born looks with other Born Shoes enthusiasts. Encouraging users to interact on their own volition - with the brand and with each other - is the best way to develop lasting customer connections and deep brand loyalty. This social integration is completely seamless, and creates an easy path between their website and social channels, while remaining well-branded and well incorporated, so the user content looks right at home.
It’s clear after spending some time on the Born site that the brand knows itself inside and out, and they know their customers too. They speak to a certain shopper with a defined voice and personality that is interesting and compelling, and really resonates. The Born website does an incredible job of creating a true user-centric experience that engages and excites, and effortlessly merges written and visual content with commerce for an integrated user experience that will keep shoppers coming back.
- Brand Imagery That Tells a Story. Born’s entire web presence is built around their visual brand representation. They have a story that they want to tell, and they do it through using truly beautiful imagery that incites emotion and effortlessly incorporates product.
- Integrated User Content. Users experience is front and center across the site, but incorporating user generated content on individual product pages goes a step above to really unite the customer experience with the brand experience, and also gives the brand stronger validation.
- Hand-Sewn Craftsmanship Story. The craftsmanship story is robust and meaningful, and helps to unify the in-store vs. online experience for Born products. Integrating this information across the site and product pages really drives the point home that quality is a major brand pillar, and something they rest their hats on.
- Mobile-Style Navigation. The Born homepage pays homage to a more mobile-friendly format, with a collapsible menu in the upper right corner that is discrete but easily accessible, allowing for their beautiful imagery to really be front and center.
In the last post of our media and entertainment blog series, I highlighted the fact that now almost one-third of U.S. mobile web traffic is driven by the Facebook mobile application. What that means for content publishers is that they have to focus on tailoring their content for distribution and consumption on the Facebook platform.
The prominence of the Facebook mobile application begs the question: Can media brands do well with their own applications and drive the audience to these branded experiences?
Media Brands Must Have Distribution Options
The Atlantic’s Alexis C. Madrigal highlighted the dependence some media brands have on Facebook by using a farm analogy:
“Digital media companies have grown reliant on Facebook’s powerful distribution capabilities. They are piglets at the sow, squealing amongst their siblings for sustenance, by which I mean readers. Think about how this weakens the basic idea of a publication. ”
Bleacher Report’s Chief Content Officer Rory Brown tells Digiday in a recent interview that the sports site is looking beyond optimizing content for Facebook because the social media platform could change its algorithms which would impact its ability to reach audiences. Brown to Digiday: “You want to establish as many traffic channels as possible. If Facebook or Twitter made some kind of algorithm change, it would affect us too, but not as much as some of the others.”
Bleacher Report seems to be getting it right: 40 percent of its traffic comes directly to the site while it’s also the eighth most shared publisher on Facebook, according to the latest Newswhip/Spike data for January 2015. That means Bleacher Report will be able to get to the one-third of the audience who use Facebook as its gate to the mobile web, while also having a direct-to-consumer relationship via its site. Contrast that with Buzzfeed, who just announced that only 5 percent of 950 million monthly video views happen on its own site.
Mobile Apps versus Responsive Design for Mobile
Beyond delivering content via the Facebook mobile app, what kind of mobile experience do you deliver to keep people engaged with your media brand’s content on their device? A responsive mobile optimized site or a mobile app?
Most media companies today offer both experiences for consumers. A responsive site means the media company can deliver an experience that is not dependent on any particular mobile operating system or web browser. The digital experience should display and work in a beautiful and consistent manner across devices.
It may cost more to develop and deliver an app that works on various mobile operating systems, yet applications allow a push environment for media companies to broadcast to audiences. An application will inform an audience with a constant stream of new articles, videos, podcasts, or slideshows. In addition, app notifications will remind audiences of social engagement around content - e.g. new likes, shares, and comments - which encourages fans to join in on the conversation in the brand’s app.
Monetizing Media Apps - Tens of Billions of Dollars
There are several ways media company apps can be monetized. They can be subsidized with in-app advertising revenues, or money can be earned by charging consumers for the initial download. Some apps have a recurring subscription cost. Regardless of the path to make money, there’s a lot of it being made. Research by Asymco shows that just the iTunes Store alone brought in $10 billion in revenues for app developers in 2014. That’s more than the US box office take for the year.
Asymco Chart Showing App Sales on iTunes overtaking the U.S. Box Office Revenues
An app allows a media brand to create more interactive calls to actions (examples: voting, sharing, rating) that creates a deeper set of user behavior data. Such user data can be leveraged to personalize a media experience. NBCUniversal just rolled out an app that packages 40 years worth of Saturday Night Live content. By learning what skits you like to watch, your favorite comedians, characters, and seasons of SNL, the app will then personalize your experience by choosing specific videos from the some 5,000 plus pieces of content. Advertisements in the new SNL app will also be tailored to an individual's viewing experience creating more high value advertising opportunities for NBC. Even though the app is free, it’s a revenue generator.
Media Companies Missing from Top App Charts
In 2015, major media brands are missing from the top downloaded or accessed apps. Again, a majority of the media content is accessed via the Facebook app. No traditional media company ranks in this list of top mobile apps, created by Comscore from mid 2014. The Weather Channel (disclosure, an Acquia customer) is a media company ranking at #15.
Still this Comscore data does not paint a complete picture of how media companies are performing in the marketplace for mobile apps.
Media Companies Must Gamify Their Brands
App Annie has the most detailed app analytics data and it’s worth visiting their charts on a regular basis to look for break out hits and how media companies are faring with mobile.
Taking a look at the stats around February 20th 2015, App Annie shows Warner Bros has the #3 downloaded app: a trivia game called “Heads Up”. The app is featured on Ellen DeGeneres’ Ellen TV show which is also produced by Warner Bros.
The Warner Bros produced game launched in 2013 and is obviously doing well almost two years on after launch, in part because you can keep buying new trivia categories to keep your game playing activity fresh. It’s also really intriguing to see a TV personality who is owning a top downloaded and top selling app and that the app itself is owned by their employer, the TV studio.
But looking at the overall App Annie stats, Warner Bros appears to be the only traditional media company with a top 10 app on the iTunes or Google Play store charts. Beyond Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, game developers like King Digital with it’s line up of Candy Crush games, or Mojang with it’s Minesweeper game, are the winners on the charts.
App Annie Store Stats Top iOS apps for February 20th. Note only one traditional media company, Warner Bros, has a top selling app.
App Annie Store Stats Top Google Android apps for February 20th. Note only one traditional media company, Warner Bros, has a top selling app.
Microsoft saw Mojang’s success with the Minecraft game and wound up buying the company for $2.5 billion in September 2014. Big Fish Games which also appears on the App Annie Store Stats February 20th top apps chart for its mock gambling apps like Big Fish Casino, was bought by Churchill Downs last year for $885 million. The company is an owner of famous horse racing tracks like the famous Kentucky property Churchill Downs and also owns casinos and other gaming properties. Obviously, the company saw how gaming is dominating the world of mobile apps. I expect to see traditional media companies to buy some of these mobile game developers to enter this lucrative app market, which again just for Apple iOS apps sales alone was $10B in 2014. For example, just recently major TV and film studio Lionsgate invested in game maker Telltale Games, rumored to be a $40 million stake. Telltale also licenses TV show content to create games, for instance titles based on AMC’s “The Walking Dead” or HBO’s “Game of Thrones”. Tech news site TheVerge hints that Lionsgate will move beyond simply leveraging Telltale to make games based on their own content and push the game maker to develop TV series titles that are game like. Celebrities do just as well as media brands with mobile games: Glu Mobile, a game developer made $74 million from the Kim Kardashian : Hollywood mobile app in 2014 and now plans to license Katy Perry’s likeness for a mobile game this year.
Traditional media brands can license their content titles to game developers or develop in house; the latter approach may be harder to scale. The App Annie 2014 Retrospective reports that mobile game apps related to movie titles did well in 2014, and in “some cases extended the life cycle of the intellectual property (IP), fostering brand loyalty and keeping users engaged between movies.”
For instance, a game related to the animated movie Despicable Me ranked among the top 10 games by worldwide December downloads 18 months after the app’s initial release. Note that France’s giant developer Gameloft built the Despicable Me game by licensing the film content from Universal Pictures. ”Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff” appealed to show enthusiasts, but also attracted new audiences and was a top performer. Again the model here was that Fox partnered with San Francisco game developer TinyCo to create the popular game. App Annie believes the 2014 success of games based on media brands, “sets the stage in 2015 for more traditional media brands acquiring and monetizing mobile users through existing game structures refreshed with their well-known IPs.” (App Annie Index: 2014 Retrospective — Top App Trends of 2014)
Moving Media Apps Beyond Gaming
According to Comscore’s US Mobile App Report 2014, mobile app usage accounts for the majority of digital media time spent, at about 52 percent. Mobile apps drive the vast majority of media consumption on mobile devices - about 7 out of every 8 minutes Also of note is a majority of mobile app engagement comes from only a few select categories. So beyond gaming, media companies can also enter the app market by offering social networking (messaging) and radio / music apps, as these along with games, contribute nearly half the total time spend on mobile apps.
Media companies do not necessarily have to buy their way into the app market or license their content to app developers, they can build successful digital brands on their own. A good example is global media giant Bonnier who launched a line of “digital toys” called Toca Boca to find success in the mobile app market. In 2014, Bonnier reported 70 million downloads of Toca Boca apps just a few years after launch of the division.
The App Annie 2014 Retrospective notes that Disney The New York Times, and IAC Corp did very well in both app downloads and also revenues. Note these App Annie charts exclude game apps or game publishers. The full report can be accessed here.
App Annie 2014 Retrospective: Top non-game apps, and top publishers by app revenues.
Beyond gaming, social networking and chat apps, and music it’s important to look at how media brands are performing with their news apps. Turner Broadcasting’s CNN holds the spot for the top free news app on iOS, but is in the 4th spot on the Google Play store, while Yahoo News tops the Google chart but is absent from the top 10 on iOS. So it’s clear media companies have made particular investments in designing and marketing their apps to specific mobile operating systems and app marketplaces.
Buzzfeed and Fox are the two news apps that do very well on both major mobile platforms in terms of downloads, but compete against several new media start ups and news aggregators like Daily, Flipboard, and a few readers that pull content from the social news platform Reddit.
NBC and BBC are not top 10 performers on the iTunes store, but are on Google Play.
Interesting to also note in the news category that military news focused apps and police scanner apps are popular.
Finally, the top earning news apps in terms of revenues are from well known media brands charging you a premium to have mobile subscription access including Time Inc, The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, New York Times, and The Economist. In the case of The Economist, the company recently developed a morning news briefing called “Espresso,” which now is the #8 top earning app on the Google Play in the news category. This is a separate experience from the main Economist app, and it’s designed for the busy executive who needs a single place to get briefed on the day’s news.
App Annie Store Stats Top News Apps for iOS - February 20th
App Annie Store Stats Top News Apps for Google Play / Android - February 20th
The Media Briefing also took a look at UK app store results to see how the UK media brands are faring in the market, and it’s worth a read. Their main take away - The Guardian app is the fourth-most successful non-game app in terms of revenues the UK but mainly due to the success of in app purchases for The Guardian’s crossword puzzles. The Media Briefing found this ironic as News UK and Telegraph Media Group have a much greater commitment to paid content but generate little revenue from their news apps.Tags: media and entertainment mobile mobile apps
Anecdotes and hard evidence about open source software driving innovation and economic growth abound; capturing data and trends about the growth of open source is vital. The annual Future of Open Source Survey (FoSS) --open through March 6-- captures the voices of the global open source community. So, we encourage you to take the survey; your contribution will add to what I think is one of the best sources of data on what’s happening with open source (and you’ll get access to the findings).
This is the ninth annual FoSS survey, led by Black Duck Software and North Bridge Venture Partners, with support from dozens of open source leaders including Acquia.
It’s fair to say it’s a far different world today compared to nearly a decade ago, when the first FoSS survey occurred. Open source software has risen up the foundations of the enterprise technology stack (think the Linux operating system) to leading-edge business applications driving digital customer experience (hello, Drupal.) Even companies that have built global empires around proprietary software are taking a more open stance on open source (see Microsoft open sourcing parts of .NET).
Today, you don’t have to look far to find vocal open source proponents pointing at real results. One of the clearest voices I’ve heard is that of Gail Roper (@gailmroper), CIO for the City of Raleigh, North Carolina.
Raleigh is often referred to as the first “open source city” -- and it’s easy to see why.
Raleigh (pop. 431,000; 1.2 million metro region) has gone all-in with the Open Raleigh Initiative. The city adopts, where feasible, open source software, as it aims to deliver better, more efficient government services. But that’s just part of it. They’re investing in open source code, open access to government data, and open connectivity to create more transparent government and better serve and enable businesses and constituents.
When Roper speaks, she hurdles past the technology to get to the point: Raleigh is betting on open source tools, technology and mindset to drive 21st century economic development, entrepreneurship and education.
Go back a few years and choosing open source was often a response to limited funding for technology projects. In Raleigh, “open source” quickly gained momentum as “a catalyst to (enable the City) to interface with the public, citizens, and to use data and information (in) problem solving solutions,” she said at last October’s All Things Open conference, which was held in Raleigh.
This idea of open source powering growth and opportunity is happening across vertical markets in all sorts of organizations. In Acquia’s world, that means helping organizations succeed with Drupal to create and power digital experiences and customer engagement. Drupal -- among the largest open source software projects in the world -- is a technical foundation (for web content management, commerce and community), in service of business transformation and results.
The future of open source is ever evolving - by which I mean its use and adoption is constantly growing, and new value is constantly being extracted from open source solutions. The FoSS survey is THE annual report on the state of open source. If you haven’t taken time to participate yet (no matter your role), it’s important that you take a few minutes and take the survey today.Open Source OSS Drupal Acquia Survey Raleigh digital government