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3 Ways to Personalize the Online Store Shopping Experience

May 30th, 2013 Ashley Harbaugh No comments

With the Internet allowing shoppers to access information with just a click of the button, and with smartphones and tablets enabling people to do so from any place at any time, a person looking to buy a particular item has a ton of options to choose from. Just think about it – simply Googling the word “shoes” is going to bring up over a million search results, with different companies, styles, brands, etc. all vying for the attention of that individual investigator. 

Customers know this too. They understand that with the Web providing consumers access to companies all over the globe, companies want to entice as many of those consumers as possible. Shoppers aren’t naïve – more purchases mean more revenue, and increasing revenue is the bottom line goal of any for-profit business. So they also understand that companies try to cast their nets wide in order to capture as many customers as they can, which sometimes means sacrificing attention to the individualized shopping experience in order to appeal to the greater population. 

But this understanding leads to another reaction by customers – they want the personalized shopping experience. In fact, many shoppers expect it – “I’m not some nameless, faceless nobody; if you want my money, it’s your job to persuade me to spend it with you.”

And the only way a merchant can effectively persuade that customer is by truly understanding their needs, wants, and behavior, and then tailoring their e-commerce site to reflect and respond to that behavior. By following this strategy, online retailers communicate their focus on best serving the customer – meaning that their e-commerce site focuses on the customer as a flesh-and-blood person, not as an abstract dollar sign.

By showing your customers that you are attuned to their individual needs, you create a deeper connection, and this connection helps make your store stand out from the rest of your competitors – which encourages your customer to keep returning. Read our three suggestions on how to personalize your online store for greater customer conversion success.

1. Product Recommendations

By identifying and catering to shoppers’ interests, merchants provide customers with the products or services that are most relevant to them – which naturally lead to greater customer attention and conversion.

According to an article in Internet Retailer magazine, a report from the research firm E-Retailing Group Inc. found that out of a survey of 1,108 consumers who have shopped online four or more times in the previous year and spent more than $250 online, 44% of respondents said they find it valuable if the retailer offers product recommendations tailored to their personal tastes and shopping histories, up from 37% eight months earlier. In addition, 39% said they buy more from retailers that present personalized product recommendations based on their on-site browsing and past purchases, up from 35% eight months earlier.

Product Recommendations

Product recommendations are a valuable way to leverage customer interests and promote cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.

Putting in a “Related Products” and “Customers who purchased this product also purchased” section is an important way to engage with the customer’s browsing activity. Instead of displaying only the product on the product page, including helpful recommendations and suggestions of other merchandise related to that specific item signals your attention to the customer’s selection. And with the recommendations you offer, you also demonstrate your understanding of what a customer interested in that product is looking for, and your ability to anticipate and serve those potential needs. 

2. Store Keyword Search

Allowing a customer to get from locating a product to purchasing the product as quickly as possible is a crucial process in the personalized e-commerce approach. Because just as a loyal customer of a brick-and-mortar store enjoys being able to pop into the store and quickly pinpoint the product they seek (since they would be familiar with the store’s layout), an online store shopper must have that same ability with an e-commerce storefront. People are not going to visit, or return to, a store where they can’t quickly and easily find what they need, regardless of whether it’s a virtual or brick-and-mortar location.

Store Keyword Search

Store Keyword Search

Allowing auto-fill in search functionality for both keywords and SKUs help your shoppers to not only find specifically which item they are looking for, but it also gives direction to shoppers who are simply browsing.

Placing your search box in a prominent, intuitive place is an important starting point for customers looking to navigate through your store, because if customers don’t know where to start, their frustration will make them leave – not try harder.

Also, providing auto fill in capability for word search is helpful in enabling customers to locate the item they want. This functionality also carries the cross-sell bonus of notifying customers of other items similar to their search intention, encouraging them to check out other areas of your online store.

3. Integration with Facebook/Twitter

Shopping at brick-and-mortar stores carry the advantage of allowing customers to turn shopping into a social activity – we enjoy going with friends because we like their company, and also because we like getting their opinions on the items we’re thinking of buying (“Do these shoes look okay?” “What do you think about this laptop?”).

But no longer is online shopping a solitary activity. With social networking sites connecting us to our loved ones at any time and in any place, e-retailers can provide their customers a platform for getting the input and attention of a social shopping experience. Allowing customers to post links to products from the products’ pages on their personal Twitter or Facebook accounts makes online shopping an interactive, collaborative activity.   

Integration with Facebook/Twitter

Giving customers the ability to share links to your products on their social networking sites creates an interactive online shopping experience – which can directly influence customers’ purchasing decisions.  

The ability for friends and relatives to weigh in on a potential purchase is a persuasive influencer in a shopper’s purchasing decision – because it’s hard to refute a trusted source when he or she says a product is great, or that it’s perfect for you, etc. Also, having customers share links to your merchandise on social media generates greater brand awareness and site traffic – because if a friend is sharing a cool, interesting product, it’s highly likely that it will catch the attention and curiosity of another friend.

If you would like more information on how Ignify can improve your online store’s customer personalization capabilities, please email ecommerce@ignify.com.

Ashley Harbaugh is a Product Marketing Specialist at Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of ERP, CRM, and eCommerce software solutions to businesses and public sector organizations. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for 5 years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine and ranked as one of 100 most innovative companies in the world in the Red Herring Global 100 in 2011.

Winning Customer Referrals: 5 Tips for Transforming Customers into Company Champions

May 12th, 2013 Ashley Harbaugh No comments

“It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.”

On the one hand, most of the business world can agree with this quote from The Godfather. Decisions and courses of action are made to support the health and growth of an organization, and sometimes those decisions are not always favored by all individuals in the company (or by all the customers they serve). Those decisions may even cause hurt feelings, or anger – not intentional, perhaps, but it happens.

But on the other hand, this quote is completely wrong – business IS personal. The quality of a person’s work output is directly correlated to their emotional connection to their company – the greater the passion, the greater the quality. People who feel most connected are the ones who are going to go above and beyond what’s required to produce outstanding, extraordinary work.

And that goes the same for a company’s customers. The more enthusiastic a customer is about your products or services, the greater their efforts to evangelize your brand. To keep business expanding, companies need to leverage their customer base to generate those crucial customer referrals. Even one single customer (with the social circle they center) offers a doorway into a new, untapped, potentially huge market – and the only way that businesses successfully get through is by invitation only.

So by getting customers to forge an emotional connection with your company, you not only reap the cost-savings benefits of customer retention, but you also gain access to new potential customers. Check out our five tips for hooking your customers’ hearts.

  1. Offer Outstanding Customer Service

    Customers will care about you if you care about them – and the proof of that is in your customer service. If a customer reaches out to you with a question or problem – whether it’s by phone, email, or by walking up to a physical cashier stand – your team needs to provide that customer with an immediate, and satisfactory, response.

    Implementing customer relationship management (CRM) technology empowers your employees with the right knowledge for handling customers’ questions and needs. For example, Microsoft Dynamics CRM offers a comprehensive database for holding not only customer contact information, but histories of past conversations between the customer and company representatives. This is a powerful capability – by having an easily accessible record of past interactions, representatives are able to intelligently discuss those past interactions and get a better understanding of how to work with the customer. And for the customer, knowing that the company keeps track of all issues, complaints, and questions – as well as that the company troubleshoots any problems quickly and painlessly – signals that the company really is focused on providing individual attention.

    And with today’s technologically savvy consumer able to easily and quickly access your competitors with the click of a button, giving that individual attention is a crucial way to build valuable goodwill. Because a reputation is an easy thing to gain (a good customer service experience can retain a customer and make that customer spread the word) and destroy (one bad customer service experience is enough to drive a customer away forever – and encourage others to stay away too).

    With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, you’re able to view and track all customer issues as they come in, where they originated from, the representative assigned to those cases, etc. You’re also able to more closely analyze that data by displaying it in a visual chart or graph format

    With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, you’re able to view and track all customer issues as they come in, where they originated from, the representative assigned to those cases, etc. You’re also able to more closely analyze that data by displaying it in a visual chart or graph format.

  2. Follow Up with Customers

    A sale does not mark the end of your company’s relationship with an individual – it marks the beginning. And just as with any of life’s relationships, it’s essential to put in some one-on-one time to make that relationship flourish.

    Schedule follow up calls and emails with customers to check how they’re doing, how their products are working out for them, or any feedback/criticism they wish to volunteer about your company. And not only follow up after a sale, but also a few days after a customer service issue was resolved. Maintaining these touch points with customers indicates your desire to make them happy, and your appreciation of their business. Everyone likes to be appreciated – and it’s important to share those tokens of appreciation.

    When you do reach out to customers, make sure you truly listen to what they have to say. Don’t make following up with customers just a perfunctory, mark-the-checkbox type of action – people can spot the difference between appreciation and obligation, and they respond in kind. In fact, it should be viewed as an imperative – what better way to get into the mind of the customer then to talk to the customers themselves? And what better way to deepen the connection with your customer?

    Because if you pay attention to what your customer tells you, and if you act on the suggestion/criticism/request for help that the customer relays, then you reap the reward of a customer feeling their worth to your company – in other words, you make them an active partner in your company’s success. 

    Technology is crucial in managing customer interaction. In Microsoft  Dynamics CRM, representatives are able to easily schedule activities and tasks  with customers, which helps maintain communication and strengthen  relationships

    Technology is crucial in managing customer interaction. In Microsoft Dynamics CRM, representatives are able to easily schedule activities and tasks with customers, which helps maintain communication and strengthen relationships.

  3. Give Away Freebies

    People love getting stuff for free. And not only do people love getting something for free, they also love sharing that they got something for free – which gets picked up by their fellow freebie-loving friends and family.

    Giving away freebies doesn’t necessarily mean giving away free products – you could if you want to, but that’s not the only thing you can offer. For example, you can offer free webinars with interesting/educational topics. Provide insightful white papers/research/blogs for no cost. Or post cool, informative videos on your website – videos that maybe showcase how a particular product of yours works, videos that offer tips on how to best use one of your products or services, etc. If the content is interesting, people are going to check it out. And if your content is great, you 1) establish credibility as an expert; 2) make your site the go-to hub for information; 3) build goodwill by giving it away for free.

    And remember: the greater the content, the greater the chance that people will share it. So put some thought and effort into your freebies. A freebie is not a throwaway; it could potentially be the deciding factor in getting a customer to seal the deal, or the next viral hit that sweeps social media.

  4. Show Your Appreciation with Special Offers

    Expressing appreciation for someone’s hard work is not only a nice thing to do, but it’s also a significant motivational tactic. For example, according to a study by Globoforce, 82% of employees surveyed in Spring 2012 said that being recognized actually motivated them in their jobs— up from 78 percent in Fall 2011. The study states, “Employee engagement is linked again and again in studies to motivation, productivity and increased earnings and profits for companies.”

    Customer engagement is no different. When customers feel that their decision to use your company is recognized and appreciated, then they’re going to continue visiting you. Express your gratitude with reward programs – give discounts on products and services, provide special offers, give customers an opportunity to purchase a brand new item before it’s offered to the rest of the public, etc. These extra little treats create a nice bond between the customer and your company, because it shows that you’re not content to just let a customer walk away after a purchase – you care about them coming back.   

    And make your rewards even more special by setting up different customer levels in your program. If a customer is a loyal, frequent visitor, then it’s only reasonable to give them a perk that’s different from the customer who is a once-in-a-while guest. The word gets out on reward program benefits – if people hear that a friend of theirs is getting really cool stuff for using a certain company, they will want in too. 

    Segmenting customers into different levels in your reward program gives  you better insight into your customer base, which leads to more effective  customer engagement

    Segmenting customers into different levels in your reward program gives you better insight into your customer base, which leads to more effective customer engagement.  

  5. Build a Social Networking Community

    The rise of social media cannot be overstated – it’s one of the primary tools we use to interact with people today. (Be honest: how many times did you check your Facebook already today?)

    Establishing an active presence in the social media landscape not only gives you a one-on-one connection with you customers, but it allows you to stay connected at any hour, during any day. You get a connection with your customers when they visit your locations (either brick-and-mortar or online), but that connection is temporary – customers can forget about you when they walk out, or when they click a different link. But if you link with them on social networking sites, you remind them of that connection; you make them remember why they like you, and it encourages them to visit you again.

    Social media also provides a valuable platform for broadcasting information quickly and easily – and it facilitates the sharing of that same information by others just as quickly and easily. For example, if you post an awesome special promotion on your Facebook or Twitter, it only takes a click of a button for your followers to share it with their followers, and so on – which translates to you generating crucial awareness with minimal effort.

    So remember to fully take advantage of the valuable customer interaction opportunity that social media offers. For example, if someone tweets a question at your company, answer it. If someone posts an issue they had with a product on your Facebook wall, respond to it. If someone praises your company, thank them for it. These small efforts lead to big payoffs – if your company develops a reputation as being accessible, open, and responsive on social networking sites, your sites will inevitable attract more followers. More followers mean more potential business.

Differentiate Your Business by Building Customer Relationships

It’s very easy for customers to be fickle these days, which is why forging emotional connections with them are so important: it helps your company break through the mass of competitors. So don’t separate business from the personal – if you share how much you value your customer, your customer will prove that value.

If you would like more information on how you can improve your customer relationship management processes, please email us at crm@ignify.com.

Ashley Harbaugh is a Product Marketing Specialist at Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of ERP, CRM, and eCommerce software solutions to businesses and public sector organizations. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for 5 years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine and ranked as one of 100 most innovative companies in the world in the Red Herring Global 100 in 2011.

Management Reporter for Microsoft Dynamics AX Rollup 5 is Out

May 7th, 2013 Sandeep Walia No comments

Management Reporter Rollup 5 is now out and provides several new capabilities:

  1. Open Management Reporter (MR) Reports from within Microsoft Dynamics AX: The ability to open Management Reporter Designer from within Microsoft Dynamics AX General Ledger and Budgeting areas (See the first link under Reports) as opposed to separately opening the Management Reporter Designer. When clicked it launches the Designer and logs you into the same company that you are logged into Microsoft Dynamics AX. Only users that have security rights for designing or viewing these reports will view these reports.

    Management Reporter Designer (below) is launched from Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2.

  2. Web Viewer: Ability to view Management Reports from a web interface such as an Intranet or a SharePoint document library. Below is a report showing Profit and Loss for a department with Budget to Actuals variance. Notice the sharp, clean lines in the report. There is easy capability to zoom in and out and to download into multiple formats such as Excel, PDF, etc.

The web viewers maintains all the security privileges. For example, the company has multiple departments but the user here only has access to Administration, Production and Sales Departments, and is only able to see the Profit and Loss for these departments.

If you have questions or would like more information on Microsoft Dynamics AX, please email us at dynamics@ignify.com.

Sandeep Walia is the Chief Executive Officer of Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of ERP, POS, CRM, and eCommerce software solutions to mid-market and enterprise businesses and public sector organizations. Ignify is winner of the Microsoft Partner of the Year award in 2012 and 2011. Ignify offers Microsoft Dynamics AX, Dynamics AX for Retail POS and the Dynamics CRM Loyalty Management solution for retailers and to several other businesses. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for 5 years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine and ranked as one of 100 most innovative companies in the world in the Red Herring Global 100 in 2011 and 2010. Sandeep was ranked in 2010, 2011 and 2012 in the Microsoft Dynamics Top 100 Most Influential People List by DynamicsWorld. Ignify has offices and team members in Southern California, Northern California, Arizona, Tennessee, Illinois, Washington, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Philippines, and Indonesia.