Ecommerce Frequently Asked Questions

The Components of a Sound Omni-Channel Retailing Strategy

Developing an omni-channel presence is crucial to increasing sales and a vital aspect of maintaining market share.  A recent survey conduct by RIS revealed that omni-channel consumers spend 15 to 30 percent more than consumers that shop through a single channel.  These customers also tend be loyal brand followers and are influencing others to patronize their favorite retailers.  Consumers.

The Benefits of Storing & Managing Product Information in the Cloud

For years companies have managed their MDM and PIM systems in an on-premise environment.  However the proliferation of cloud-based versions of these systems has been a source of debate around the benefits and potential drawbacks of storing and managing data (in this case product data) in the cloud.

ClaraStream Version 2.0 Release

We are very excited to announce the release of Version 2.0 of our product information management and omni-channel commerce platform.  The suite of features that define Version 2.0 go a long way in facilitating growth for retailers by simplifying the process of managing product information across multiple locations and increasing revenue by bringing products to market faster across those.

Takeaways From IRCE 2014

Last week members of our team were at IRCE 2014 where we attended a pre-conference workshop on ‘Capturing The ROI of Product Information Management Systems’.  The panel of presenters included Ryan Lee of Gorjana & Griffin (one of our clients) and Cynthia Rodgers Maignan of Office Depot.  In addition to providing some great insight, the overarching them of Ryan.

Methods for Improving the Quality of Your Product Data

The pressure to deliver relevant, precise, targeted product data is ever increasing. E-commerce retailers know that accurate, rich product information is crucial to increasing sales and driving customer satisfaction.  This pressure is compounded by the need to increase visibility across multiple customer segments.

Accurate product information is essential to both customer-facing aspects of the business and to the internal integrity.

The Importance of Customer Segmentation & Product Data in Multi-Channel Retailing

Customer segmentation is a method for dividing a customer base into common attributes. This allows the business to cater to each segment with relevant product information. Understanding your customer’s needs and providing the right audience with the right information improves user experiences and increases conversion rates. Additionally, this practice will lead to increased brand loyalty and repeat business. E-commerce.

Harnessing the Power of the Long Tail to Increase Product Sales

E-commerce businesses are often built around the opportunity to provide specialty items; products that are oftentimes not available in the local big box store.  Consumers of such products are willing to invest time and effort to research a product before buying.  This type of shopper is much more likely to convert and is best reached through “the long tail”.

4 Ways A Product Information Management System Can Increase Revenue

Implementing a product information management (PIM) system streamlines business activities and simplifies many of the tasks associated with running an e-commerce company.  Eliminating waste from product information management processes reduces resource burdens and provides a consistent brand/product image. When fully executed, a PIM system has the potential to increase businesses revenue in at least four of ways.

March Features Release – REST API

This month we are announcing the release of our REST API.  The introduction of our REST API allows retailers to streamline back office operations by connecting and integrating multiple systems and platforms and improving the flow of product information throughout the organization.  In doing so, retailers can utilize ClaraStream as a single cloud-based point of input and management.

The Importance of E-Commerce Product Category Structure

E-commerce category structure is vital to creating an highly converting and profitable site.  The ease with which a user navigates through the shop will be a determining factor in the amount of time and money they are willing to spend. Descriptive product information written in engaging and informative prose will capture the shopper but only after they have easily.

Four Steps To More Easily Managing Product Information From Multiple Suppliers

The management of product information is a vital aspect of operating a successful e-commerce business.  For most business owners, information comes from a wide variety of sources and arrives in varying formats.  Integrating all of this valuable information into a uniform data set can be challenging.

Steps to Successfully Migrating Your Product Information to Magento

When your business was young it is probable that you elected to utilize a solution that was inexpensive and readily available. As your business has grown it has become obvious that it is time to upgrade your platform. Magento is an endlessly scalable solution that will provide your e-commerce business with a level of professionalism and depth.

The Benefits of Integrating Your E-Commerce Platform With A POS

Brick-and-mortar store fronts have long realized the benefits of a robust point-of-sale (POS) solution.  Such systems manage inventory, customers, sales and vendors through a user-friendly interface.  Tracking financials, timelines and customer data is automatic; making it easy to pull sophisticated metrics.  Such information and ease of use is a requirement in the fast-paced world of retailing. E-commerce platforms focus.

Increasing Sales By Optimizing Site Search in Magento

Many shoppers online are straying away from site navigation and utilizing the search bar instead. It is much faster to type “blue shoes” into a search bar than it is to click through several layers of categories. Most users will quickly move on if the search does not return the exactly what they had in mind.

Using Related Products to Increase Sales

The costs associated with gaining a new customer far exceed those of retaining a customer. Additionally, order totals increase dramatically when customers return to a site to make subsequent purchases. The key to getting the most out of a marketing dollar is to tap into the resource of existing customers as well as maximizing the value of first time customers.

3 Ways To Automate Inventory Management in Magento

Integrating a Magento storefront with an ERP will efficiently update inventory levels on products as purchases are made and deliveries from vendors are received. Many ERP solutions offer tools that export data as .csv files. The files can then be prepared for import by verifying that dates, currency and all other numbers are formatted correctly.

Integrating Magento With Quickbooks

Quickbooks is a powerful and intuitive accounting program. Businesses of all sizes and shapes benefit from the Quickbooks’ simple inventory management, point-of-sale features and product information management. Many ecommerce retailers find themselves managing Quickbooks and Magento separately; manually entering data from one into the other. This setup leads to increased overhead and data errors.

Product Information Management and The Importance of Workflows

The movement and transformation of content is managed through business workflows. Generally, workflows are designed to add value or remove cost at each step of acquisition, management and distribution. The process ensures that the data moves through the hierarchy of operations, appropriate division of work and optimizes the use of time and resources.

ClaraStream September Feature Release

ClaraStream Version 1.8 brings users the simple and familiar interface of spreadsheets powered via ClaraStream’s API and direct integration with the Magento platform.

The new spreadsheet interface now gives retailers the ability to easily make bulk updates and edits to previously published product information and instantly publish those changes to  their e-commerce storefront.

Managing Categories and Attributes in Magento

The ability to create a fully functioning, searchable store in Magento requires the implementation of all available assets that the application has to offer. Products must be configured within Categories and then assigned Attributes to ensure searching and customization capabilities are fully utilized.

Managing Categories and Attributes in Magento

The ability to create a fully functioning, searchable store in Magento requires the implementation of all available assets that the application has to offer. Products must be configured within Categories and then assigned Attributes to ensure searching and customization capabilities are fully utilized.

ClaraStream August Feature Release

E-commerce retailers have long lamented the arduous task of managing and uploading their product data and the errors that inevitably result during the conversion process. With the advent of ClaraStream’s Data Validation feature, retailers will quickly and easily locate and fix data errors.

3 Ways to Use E-Commerce Product Information to Increase Sales

Think of product descriptions as the virtual equivalent of your ideal salesperson; creating an experience that is so engaging the product becomes something that the shopper cannot live without it.  By creating strong product descriptions you can not only increase conversions but drive more qualified traffic to your storefront.

Importing Data From an ERP Platform into Magento

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is utilized by many types of businesses to organize and maintain the expansive amount of variables required to run a business.  While there are many players in the space, the big two are Sage and NetSuite.

Utilizing Data Cleansing For Better Product Information Management

Product information comes from a variety of sources and arrives in many forms. Importing, combining and managing this data presents difficulties in that it rarely arrives as a clean, uniform set. Data cleansing is a process by which inaccurate, corrupt and/or irrelevant records are identified, modified, replaced or deleted.

Tips For Increasing Magento Speed and Performance

There are several aspects to consider when optimizing the speed and performance of Magento. A great place to start is look at Magento’s cache system, APC and the chosen hosting partner.

Enable Cache: Ensuring that cache is enabled will quicken response times and create a smooth running interface.

Importing & Managing Configurable Products in Magento

Configurable products in Magento allow users to tie product variants and multiple SKUs / multiple simple products together to form one product which is displayed on the front-end in a single product detail page.

Tips For Easier Product Uploads In Magento

Uploading products into Magento can be a very time consuming task, especially when you need to upload several hundred or even several thousand products.  Fortunately there are some shortcuts that you can take to make this a quicker process.

Increased Traffic and Conversions Through Improved Product Categorization

For e-commerce merchants the equation is simple:  traffic  X  conversion rate  = revenue.  However, what’s not so simple is how to increase both traffic and conversion rate.  One of the more effective ways to improve both of these variables is through the use of on-site product categories.

Product Detail Page Elements That Improve Conversion Rates

It has been said that a good conversion rate is the holy grail of e-commerce. A strong conversion rate requires a lot of testing, not to mention a lot of work, but once attained it will pay numerous dividends for an e-commerce retailer.

5 SIGNS YOU’RE READY FOR A PIM SOFTWARE SOLUTION

1. You have two or more full time employees managing product information.
When entering new product information or updating existing product information consumes so much time that you have two or more full time employees executing these tasks, it is time to start considering a product information management (PIM) software application. The right PIM solution will significantly reduce the amount of administrative time that is required to upload and update product information.

2. Data resides in numerous systems.
Data residing in multiple systems and locations can create a data management nightmare. It can make simple tasks like updating information or pushing product information out to customer facing platforms even more challenging. A PIM solution will give you the ability to consolidate all of your product data into a single location. Data residing in a single location will allow you to more easily make updates, in addition to pushing product data out to multiple locations.

3. You are selling products on multiple domains and online marketplaces.
When you are selling products on multiple domains or 3rd party marketplaces like Ebay and Amazon traditional methods of managing product information will require you to make multiple updates and create multiple data feeds. A PIM solution will allow you to easily make all of these updates from a single location, thus eliminating an enormous amount of administrative time and effort.

4. You are constantly receiving new product information and updates.
Standard methods of updating product information are inefficient, not to mention time intensive. A PIM software application will eliminate a lot of the inefficiencies associated with updating product information and automate this process.

5. Product data is in multiple formats.
Often times when a retailer is receiving product information from multiple vendors this data will reside in multiple formats. Simple data points like price, sizes, or SKUs will be in varying formats. This creates a scenario where there can be inconsistency in customer facing product information and a greater likelihood of errors. Creating consistent data (otherwise known as data standardization) is imperative for successful product information management. This is a daunting task if approached manually. Again, a PIM software solution will often provide functionality that makes data standardization an easier process. You can read more on data standardization in our post ‘Data Standardization for E-Commerce Product Data.’

About Us: ClaraStream is a cloud based application which helps retailers more efficiently upload and manage their e-commerce product data. It offers a faster, more cost effective alternative to standard methods by minimizing and automating many of the processes commonly associated with uploading and managing product data. ClaraStream also gives retailers the ability to consolidate their product data into a single location, allowing for easy updates and synchronization across multiple customer facing platforms.

INCREASED TRAFFIC AND CONVERSIONS THROUGH IMPROVED PRODUCT CATEGORIZATION

For e-commerce merchants the equation is simple:  traffic  X  conversion rate  = revenue.  However, what’s not so simple is how to increase both traffic and conversion rate.  One of the more effective ways to improve both of these variables is through the use of on-site product categories.

In e-commerce more products (if properly optimized) usually equals more traffic.  This also holds true for product categories.  Category pages which have all the elements of proper SEO in place can do a very nice job of capturing long-tail search traffic.  Many retailers miss out on prime opportunities to capitalize on this by getting lazy with product categorization.   Take for example a furniture retailer who sells coffee tables.  Instead of providing a single on-site category for all of the coffee tables offered,  that retailer could offer a master (parent) category with all of their coffee tables, and then provide sub-categories break those coffee tables down by material, color, manufacturer,  style, etc.   By doing this a retailer has created 3, 4, or even 5 or more categories from what used to be a single category.  With more categories they would now have more landing pages, more keywords, more pages indexed in search results, and subsequently the opportunity to generate more long-tail traffic.

Perhaps just as valuable as the benefit of increased traffic from an increased number of product categories is a higher conversion rate.  Shoppers often times have a pretty good idea as to the type of product they are looking for when they initiate their search as well as the attributes they are looking for in that product.  The longer it takes them to search for that on your site the less likely they are to stay.  More specific categories make a shopper’s job of sifting through hundreds if not thousands of products far easier.  This creates a scenario where people will find what they are looking for in a shorter period of time which will have a positive impact on conversion rates.    Furthermore, specific product categories will allow you to run highly targeted PPC campaigns directed at those category landing pages, thus further enhancing the positive effects these category pages can have on conversion rates.

With an increased number of product categories on site comes an increased level of responsibility to properly organize and structure these categories in a fashion that makes practical sense to even the most novice shoppers.  Before adding categories it is wise to create a blueprint as to how master categories and sub categories will be structured on site.  Filtered navigation is a feature that can have a huge impact on front-end usability and for retailers with dozens of product categories is an almost indispensable on-site feature. No doubt the addition of deeper, more specific product categories will give you the opportunity to increase traffic and conversion rates.  But implementing these changes is certainly no small undertaking and will take a continuous effort in order to properly maintain your new site structure.

About Us:  ClaraStream is a cloud based application which helps retailers more efficiently upload and manage their e-commerce product data. It offers a faster, more cost effective alternative to standard methods by minimizing and automating many of the processes commonly associated with uploading and managing product data. ClaraStream also gives retailers the ability to consolidate their product data into a single location, allowing for easy updates and synchronization across multiple customer facing platforms.

PRODUCT DETAIL PAGE ELEMENTS THAT IMPROVE CONVERSION RATES

It has been said that a good conversion rate is the holy grail of e-commerce. A strong conversion rate requires a lot of testing, not to mention a lot of work, but once attained it will pay numerous dividends for an e-commerce retailer. Displayed information and design elements on the product detail pages of your site are low hanging fruits you should initially pursue when looking to improve conversion rates.

Photos: The product image is undoubtedly the first thing a shopper will see when they land on a product page. Poor quality photos will kill your conversion rates, especially for higher priced items. It is imperative that you not only provide high quality, high resolution photos, but also, in some cases, provide multiple photos of an item from varying angles. Offering photo zoom capabilities is another feature that will enhance the shopping experience for your customers.

Clear Call To Action: The goal is to get your customers to buy your products. Don’t make this a challenge. Make your “Add To Cart” button large, bold, and above the fold. Make sure you don’t leave any doubt in the shopper’s mind as to how to buy a specific product. Furthermore, certain colors have proven to be more effective as it pertains to a call to action like this. Shades of blue convey a sense of strength and security, whereas shades of green imply “go” or “proceed”.

Related Products: Providing highly relevant related products on the product detail page will further engage your customers if they don’t like the primary product on that page. Furthermore, depending on the traffic source a product detail page may be the first page shoppers see when they land on your site. By displaying related products you will decrease your bounce rate and subsequently see an increase in your conversion rates.

Details, Details, Details: Although this may seem obvious, many retailers gloss over this and don’t provide adequate product information. Shoppers want details about what they are buying and if they don’t find them, will usually move on to the next retailer before taking the time to ask for more information on a product. However the key is to provide this information in a format that is easy to follow and does not clutter your product detail page.

Customer Reviews: Customer reviews are quickly proving to be one of the most helpful tools when looking to boost your conversion rates. This is something that will take time to accumulate, but if you work with the right service provider it should be fairly easy to implement.

Integrating these suggestions into your e-commerce business will certainly provide a good start in increasing your conversion rates. Conversion rate optimization is an on going process that requires an immense amount of effort but will yield incremental improvements over time.

About Us:  ClaraStream is a cloud based application which helps retailers more efficiently upload and manage their e-commerce product data. It offers a faster, more cost effective alternative to standard methods by minimizing and automating many of the processes commonly associated with uploading and managing product data. ClaraStream also gives retailers the ability to consolidate their product data into a single location, allowing for easy updates and synchronization across multiple customer facing platforms.

3 Ways to Use E-Commerce Product Information to Increase Sales

Think of product descriptions as the virtual equivalent of your ideal salesperson; creating an experience that is so engaging the product becomes something that the shopper cannot live without it.  By creating strong product descriptions you can not only increase conversions but drive more qualified traffic to your storefront.

Product Copy:

The goal is not to describe the product; it is to sell the product. To accomplish this, address your ideal buyer. Consider personality traits, humor and vocabulary. Think about how you would address this customer in a store when selling face-to-face and incorporate some of the same language into the product copy.

Highlight the benefits of every product feature. A list of technical or physical specifications does little to communicate the feeling and thus skates around the most important of all appeals: the emotional appeal. How will your product make the user feel? Will they be happier, healthier, smarter, better looking? Address the problems that your product solves. Provide detailed and specific discussions that communicate an experience, not just the item.

Understand that superlatives (best, fastest, easiest) will sound insincere unless true. If it is true, be sure to provide substantial evidence of that fact; detail explanations of the features that separate your product from the pack. Don’t forget to include a feature/benefit discussion of your company. Why should someone choose to do business with you? What sets your company apart?

Use sensory words (smooth, crisp, bright) and mini-stories to create a user experience. Readers cannot actually pick-up and hold the product, but they can imagine themselves doing so. Effective product copy excites the imagination and creates an emotional investment.

In developing all of this shining content, be sure that the layout has “scanability.” Use bullets, white space and clear breaks to increase readability. The most important details should clearly standout; while the full text should cover all aspects and eventualities. The description must be complete enough to address all of the shoppers’ questions and concerns.

Clear, compelling and complete information presented in an appealing manner will increase conversion rates and drive sales.

Rich Media:

Engaging product images are arguably the most important selling tool on an e-commerce site. Show products from all possible angles and use images that are zoomable. Large-format, high-quality pictures and 360° rotating images that show the product in use, in all of its configurations, build trust and set expectations. Customizing options have a gaming quality and require an investment from the shopper, thus increasing conversion rates.

A better understanding of the product being ordered increases purchase rates and reduces the chances that the product will be returned. The best product images are taken in a way that shows character and carries the brand. Avoid using stock photos that breed distrust and are mostly ignored.

Videos of the product in use will also contribute significantly to conversion rates. Consider allowing users to upload personal videos and/or images of the product after purchase. Not only does this allow potential buyers to see the product in action but also shows that previous buyers are so excited by their purchase that they came back to share their experience. Video tutorials (where applicable) can replace in-store demonstrations and aid in eliminating questions regarding use, features and functionality.

“Quick-look” options allow a shopper to read short descriptions of products, view images of the item in multiple configurations and variations and make a buy decision without navigating away from the screen. The shopper can then continue browsing through search returns without multiple clicks. This will contribute to increased purchases by simulating the “toss it in the cart” experience of brick and mortar stores.

Advanced imaging techniques enhance the shopping experience and further serve to eliminate questions and set expectations.

Time-to-Market:

Product availability is a no-brainer. Have what people want when they want it. There are a few scenarios to which this is particularly key: useful life and market demand.

The sale of seasonal items and technology is particularly impacted by useful life. No one wants a swimsuit in January. No one wants last year’s iPhone. When marketing items with a short shelf life it is important to make sure that the inventory needed to meet the demand is available. Consider the holiday shopping season. The “hot” toy will command a much higher price before December 25; afterwards, the price as well as the demand will plummet. This also applies to regular publications such as magazines, journals and newspapers.

The market demand scenario is less predictable. Products can become best-sellers over night as the result of a celebrity sighting or endorsement. Capitalizing on these trends requires merchants to get their products to the market as quickly as possible. Days or even hours translate into considerable gains or losses when dealing in these scenarios.

E-commerce software that connects all parties in a supply chain will aid merchants in the race to the market. Setting up such tools in advance ensures availability and thus increases profits when stakes are the highest.

The e-commerce market is ever expanding. Set your store apart by providing users with product copy that reduces questions through clear and detailed descriptions. Utilize rich media to create a virtual experience that engages the imagination and emotion of your ideal buyer and capitalize on market trends and useful life scenarios to ensure the most return on investment.