VSG/Oracle Commerce – Providing Choices

As we continue into 2016, it has become apparent that many customers are looking to launch a less complex commerce site in the cloud.

Oracle has recently introduced their Commerce Cloud solution to complement their Enterprise Acceleration offering around B2B and B2C.

Commerce Cloud provides all the benefits of a “Software as a Service” solution with even faster implementations and lower costs.

VSG Commerce is proud to have been the first Oracle Commerce partner to launch a Commerce Cloud site in 12 weeks on behalf of Hollander Sleep Products and their Live Comfortably site.

Why This Matters to VSG

VSG Commerce is a company of specialists working over the last decade on the pursuit of the Oracle Commerce platform. Oracle strategy dictates the addition of cloud-based solutions to complement enterprise products. The timing and support for VSG to grow is perfect, as we have remained consistent, dedicated and loyal to the core Oracle Commerce solutions, which has been rewarded with opportunities and a growing customer base.

VSG will be expanding into other Oracle CX applications, such as Sales, Service, CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote), Marketing and Social Cloud offerings, in the near future.

The Benefits of Oracle Commerce Cloud

  • Launch quickly and move fast with a configurable, fully responsive storefront and intuitive tools for business users.
  • Oracle Commerce Cloud is a modern SaaS solution designed to ignite business innovation and rapid growth for online businesses. The solution emphasizes simplicity, allowing online businesses to quickly launch feature-rich, responsive storefronts across all devices.
  • Marketers and merchants get a configurable storefront with all of the out-of-the-box features you’d expect from the commerce experts–as well as an open API-driven framework to customize to differentiate their businesses.
  • The Storefront leverages the most modern technology available: JavaScript frameworks to simplify implementation and adoption, API-first architecture, and an HTML5 user interface. Businesses can customize and deploy quickly without sacrificing features and control.

About Oracle Public Cloud

  • Rest easy with a company you can rely on. With 99.9% up-time guarantees, elastic scaling, Level 1 PCI Compliance, pod isolation for enhanced protection and 24×7 support, companies trust Oracle.
  • Reduce costs with the proven infrastructure, protection and scale of the Oracle Public Cloud. Oracle Public Cloud processes 22 billion transactions a day via 19 global data centers.
  • Plug in to the broader Oracle Customer Experience applications portfolio to engage your customers and grow your business.

To learn more about how VSG can get your web site up and running quickly on Oracle Commerce Cloud, contact VSG by visiting www.go-vsg.com or calling 847-854-5990 x102 today.

 


2015 Year In Review

It’s hard to believe 2015 is already over and we are well into the New Year!

Our success this past year can be directly attributed to our client partnerships and the people and processes we have established together! Our clients’ hard work and dedication does not go unnoticed.

As we look to the remainder of 2016, we at VSG have a few objectives. In these coming months, we will be focused on continually improving our digital focus, marketing services, delivery quality and operational excellence as we grow our business into additional value-added solutions.

We look forward to celebrating successes and working hard to create new ones in 2016 and beyond.

Sister Act: In early January 2015, the www.knobs4less.com site launched, along with over a dozen of its sister micro-sites.  The MyKnobs.com corporation is now home to over a dozen successful micro-sites, making finding knobs and handles as easy as possible.

Need a lift?: This past year, JLG did! Thanks to a growing industry need, they came to VSG to launch a new website offering quality used equipment. At www.jlgused.com, online shoppers are now able to find used equipment from the most trusted name in the business.

Diners, drive-ins, and dives, oh my!: Professional and home chefs alike are welcome to shop the incredible products sold on the www.chefswarehouse.com site.  Whether it’s cheese, pasta or a unique and exotic spice, this new site allows online customers to shop for any ingredient on any device. These high-quality products deserved a high-quality website, which VSG launched this past year.

Not in my house or on my site!: No bugs of either kind, web-related or crawly, are allowed. Bugs met their match this year after the VSG team worked to build the www.terminix.com site, which allows consumers to learn about various services available in their local area and even schedule a service on any device!

Frog in your throat?: No, but there can be one in your shopping cart! With Carolina Biological’s new site, www.carolina.com, users have been thrilled with the ease of searching and Endeca’s searching advances. This updated site went live this year, helping schools around the country purchase biological learning tools and supplies.

New TV on your Christmas list?: Santa must have received a lot of requests for electronics this year, as traffic on the new P.C. Richard site has increased! Prior to the holidays, the new www.pcrichard.com went live to continually support growing traffic, conversion and sales. Adding the Endeca Search and Experience Manager modules while migrating to a new hosting partner added several moving parts into this large site. What positive results for P.C. Richard!

Long Winter’s Nap: And you thought nothing could be as comfortable as a new bed! Turns out, the experience of shopping on the new Live Comfortably site is just as luxurious as one of their products! This site was the first Oracle Commerce Cloud implementation going live before Oracle Open World, creating a buzz for the client and for VSG! Live Comfortably, which is owned by Hollander Sleep Products, can be found at www.livecomfortably.com.

To learn how VSG and the Oracle Commerce platform can help you grow your e-commerce channel in 2016 and beyond, contact VSG today or call 847-854-5990 x102.


Proactive Customer Service Can Make You a Front-Runner in E-Commerce

Offer customers a positive experience and you’re almost sure to see financial returns.

Time and again, consumer studies reveal that people will pay more for—and remain loyal to—businesses that deliver outstanding service. (Want back-up? Try Harvard Business Review and American Express.)

But many companies fail to measure up—maybe because they limit customer service to reactionary steps: solve this problem; answer that question; fix what’s broken. These actions aren’t wrong, but they are not enough.

A proactive approach to service can drive increases in customer satisfaction, loyalty, and sales.

Proactive service can make you a front-runner in e-commerce. With Oracle Commerce and Oracle Social Relationship Management (SRM), you can gather and maintain information that spotlights opportunities to delight your customers. By paying attention to the data available in these tools, you can identify perfect moments to create “wow” experiences that turn one-time shoppers into lifetime customers.

Handwrite a thank you note. Handwritten notes have become so rare; they’re sure to stand out in a stack of bills and computer-generated form letters. A handwritten, heart-felt “thank you” can go a long way toward building loyal customer relationships that drive ongoing business. Appoint someone with excellent penmanship to write thank you notes to:

  • New customers
  • Shoppers who make large purchases
  • Loyal customers who’ve purchased from your site three times in the past six months
  • People who attend a grand opening
  • Anyone who offers a positive mention of your company in a blog or social post

Send a thoughtful gift. Anyone can send a free gift, but the right gift at the right time can really make an impact. With Oracle SRM, you can monitor social networks to find out what your customers are talking about, and then use that information to delight them with desirable gifts:

  • When a customer tags your brand in a Facebook post saying how much she loves a certain product during the holidays, send her a sample and thank her for being a loyal customer.
  • When someone tweets a complaint about how long it takes to receive orders from another vendor, send him a small gift (overnight, of course) and a note to say that your company ships orders the next day.

Follow up with customers via phone or email. You might extend thanks or congratulations, invite feedback, or present a special offer. Consider moments like these:

  • After a large purchase
  • Anniversary of a customer’s first purchase from your site
  • Holidays, traditional or otherwise (like Star Wars Day: May the 4th be with you!)
  • Birthdays (or half-birthdays, if you want to be quirky)
  • Other life events such as graduation, marriage, or the birth of a baby
  • Household events such as the purchase of a new home or relocation to another city

Step into transactions in progress. Monitor customer activity on your site, and intervene when they stop short of a purchase:

  • Did a customer abandon his or her cart at the shipping step? Send a follow-up email about alternative shipping options, along with ideas for reducing cost—such as meeting a threshold for free shipping or picking up in-store for free.
  • Offer real-time assistance when a customer appears to be stuck on a step—such as during an online reservation or ticket purchase. When shoppers accept your assistance, offer to help them through to completion so they have a positive experience and you get the sale.

Generously share your expertise. The more educated your customers become, the more they will appreciate what you sell, and the more valuable they will be to your business. Go beyond FAQs and other help-related content. Use blog posts, webinars, white papers, seminars, and free coaching to teach people how to make the most of your product or service. Information like this does more than educate, it motivates. For example:

  • A chiropractor holds frequent classes on topics that complement chiropractic care: diet, exercise, and reducing toxins. At each class, satisfied patients share their personal success stories.
  • Educated patients purchase nutritional supplements, detoxification products, and exercise gear from the chiropractor.
  • Inspired by their new knowledge and potential for improved health, they refer friends and family to the practice.

To learn how the Oracle Commerce Platform and Oracle SRM can help you gather and use customer profile information so you can provide proactive customer service and drive customer loyalty, contact VSG today or call 847-854-5990 x102.


Repetitive? Yes. Interesting? We Hope So.

Every family has a storyteller. You know the one: the person who always has something to say—even if they cover the same subject every time you meet. You may roll your eyes and mutter, “Here we go again.” But you listen, because you’re curious. Will today’s story take a different turn? Will it make you laugh or shake your head or say “hmm”? What if, this time, the story is about YOU?

We hope this is how you approach the VSG blog: a little “here we go again” tempered by a lot of curiosity.

In the “here we go again” department, you can count on VSG to mention a few themes every chance we get:

  • Oracle Commerce. This is the platform we recommend. It’s our specialty, and we’re passionate about it. Get us started, and we’ll talk all day about reasons to choose Oracle Commerce.
  • Acceleration. We’ve poured our years of experience and success into a methodology that delivers rapid results for clients. With our VSG Starter Store, you can even launch a site with Oracle Web Commerce in as little as three months. We’re fast, and we’re proud of it.
  • Personalization. People expect a personalized shopping experience, so that’s what we help clients deliver. We hear ourselves telling this story all the time—but from different angles, because there are so many ways to tailor a site.

Knowing we tend to repeat a few ideas, we do strive to keep our stories interesting.

First and foremost, we brag about our clients. Every single project brings us new problems to solve, and every successful solution gives us a new story to tell. You’ll find great variety in our success stories.

We also share business wisdomsome of which you might not expect from an IT firm. We know “if you build it, they will come” is not true for e-commerce sites. Marketing is a must. We’re determined to help clients drive traffic, increase conversions, and get repeat business.

What keeps you interested?  If there’s something you’d like to learn, please tell us. We want to keep you coming back for more. To share a suggestion, contact VSG or call 847-854-5990 x102.


Say Yes to the Test

“Analytics and Optimization.” It’s a task that never drops from an e-commerce to-do list—because your customers and markets are always changing. Besides, most companies have no shortage of ideas on how to improve the customer experience. There’s always a way to add value.

The real challenge is choosing the right set of initiatives to maximize value. But where do you start?

First, define a goal based on user action. When people visit your site, what do you want them to do? Do you want them to complete a form? Subscribe to a newsletter? Download information? Buy something? Be specific about the actions you want visitors to take, so you know precisely what and where to optimize.

Next, dig into your analytics. Once you’ve defined a goal, you can use Google Analytics to identify pages that are having the biggest negative impact on the total number of people “converting,” or achieving that goal. Google Analytics won’t tell you what the problems are, but the data can point you to pages where your site could be stronger. Oftentimes, the weakest links are landing pages and conversion funnel pages. For example, a high landing page bounce rate (more than 50%) suggests that the page isn’t driving visitors to your intended action. In a conversion funnel, watch for significant number changes from one step to the next. For instance, a large decrease from the “add to cart” step to the “checkout” step may signal an issue with your checkout process flow.

Now, test those pages. At VSG, we recommend and support multi-variant testing, which tracks through to conversion (or not), so you can quickly and easily implement changes to drive action and increase sales. Testing pages is an inexpensive and effective way to:

  1. Determine what works
  2. Learn what your customers like and dislike
  3. Evaluate alternatives
  4. Experiment with new ideas
  5. Increase advertising ROI

In our experience, testing increases the effectiveness of actions a business is already taking. Typically, the results don’t call for an entirely new strategy. Rather, they highlight opportunities to adjust execution and delivery.

As testing enables you to increase conversions—whether they’re sign-ups, subscriptions, downloads, or purchases—you’ll see a greater return on investment in marketing and development. With that incentive, we can’t imagine why any company would say “no” to testing.

To learn how the Oracle Commerce platform can help you capitalize on opportunities through analysis and optimization of your site, contact VSG today or call 847-854-5990 x102.


Planning for 2015: What’s On Your E-Commerce Wish List?

For many of us, the fourth quarter is time to plan for next year. Metrics. Schedules. Resources. Budgets.

Budgets. The very word sucks energy right out of a room, doesn’t it? Budget = limits. It’s not exactly the vernacular of blue-sky thinking.

So let’s change the vocabulary. As you plan for e-commerce in 2015 and beyond, strike the word “budget” and borrow a concept from online retailing…

Create your e-commerce “wish list.”

What are your company’s goals? What features and technology will it take to achieve those goals? Make a list—then prioritize the elements and allocate resources strategically.

Not sure where to begin? Here are a few capabilities B2B and B2C customers will be expecting in 2015. Maybe some of these trends will influence what ultimately fits into your e-commerce shopping cart.

  • Mobile and tablet shopping: Today, 55% of retail sales take place via smart phones and tablets. By 2018, retail sales through tablets are expected to triple. Consumers expect your website to perform flawlessly on their mobile devices. They want to shop and complete transactions on the go—from whatever mobile device they choose—without having to touch a computer. Also, to be competitive, you may need the edge that comes from mobile-specific advertising and promotions. Are you meeting customers where they are, with a responsive site and relevant content?
  • Personalization: As shoppers provide more and more personal information online, retailers have the data they need to cater directly to an individual’s precise interests. By paying attention to a shopper’s Internet activity, you can target offers and product to not just a demographic, but an individual person. This attention to detail increases the likelihood that a visitor to your site will become a customer of your business. Are you capturing and using this kind of data?
  • Same-day delivery: Until now, the distinct advantage of brick-and-mortar stores was immediacy of purchase. Want it now? Come see us in person. Amazon and Google are changing that game, now offering delivery of certain products the same day as purchase. Other companies are sure to follow suit. How about yours?
  • Changing social networks: Social networks are innovating their formats and features to attract and retain participation. Google+, for example, lets users make group meetings, post images, share documents, and exchange ideas. People who engage in this kind of comprehensive, integrated experience will expect more from you as a result. E-commerce businesses need excellent, interactive design and responsive, meaningful content—with messages that resonate and carry across platforms. Does your voice carry into social media? Is it clear and distinct?
  • Speed: Internet speeds continue to increase, and users have no patience for web pages that are slow to load. Online retailers must provide as much content as possible at a glance, without creating lag time. Shopping sites also have to allow rapid search, so customers can quickly find what they need, no matter what they enter in the search bar. The best search algorithms predict the most likely results—regardless of the shopper’s choice of search words. Do customers get fast results from your site?
  • Wearables: Google Glass and Apple’s iWatch are putting the Internet within extremely easy reach—giving retailers new opportunities to engage consumers at ideal moments. Imagine: just as a customer approaches your brick-and-mortar location at the mall, his iWatch beeps, signaling a special promotion or in-stock availability of a product on his wish list. How could your business benefit from moments like these?

To meet these expectations, the Oracle Commerce platform offers products and services to deliver the next generation of e-commerce. That’s our specialty. To learn how VSG and Oracle Commerce can satisfy your e-commerce wish list for 2015 and beyond, contact us today or call 847-854-5990 x102.


Launch your Site with Oracle Web Commerce In As Fast As Three Months

Although retailers vary wildly on the features they would add to an e-commerce implementation, they’re unanimous on what to subtract. Time and cost. But how can you possibly get more function for less time and money? How can this possibly be a balanced equation?

VSG has created the solution: the VSG Starter Store, a pre-built, pre-hosted (in the Amazon Cloud) website that is quality-tested and almost complete—ready for your brand’s touch, catalog, and content. In just three to five months, your unique, branded, feature-rich site can hit the market. That’s about half the time of a typical e-commerce implementation, and with substantial cost savings as well.

Why are clients choosing the VSG Starter Store?

  • World-class functionality of the Oracle Commerce 11.1 suite: Endeca Experience Manager, Endeca Search, and ATG Commerce
  • Dozens of out-of-the-box features and functionality for both B2C and B2B customers
  • Implementation via VSG’s proven methodology to ensure rapid time to market
  • Pre-integration with third-party applications for ratings and reviews, social media, payment processing, tag management, analytics, address verification, and location services
  • Custom branding and personalization using Endeca Experience Manager
  • Significant cost savings from pre-built, pre-tested functionality
  • Ready for launch in the Amazon Cloud

VSG is an Oracle Gold Level Partner with a history of more than 200 Oracle Web Commerce implementations in the services, retail, and manufacturing sectors for consumers, customers, suppliers, and employees. Our Starter Store enables both B2B and B2C companies to create high-end websites quickly and cost-effectively.

masthead-1-small-flattened

For the B2C Company:

  • Multi-site architecture and administration tools allow merchants to easily share resources such as carts, catalogs, promotions, software components, and integrations across sites.
  • Custom site design capabilities, key usability improvements, personalization scenarios, and targeted marketing are highlights of the VSG Starter Store, demonstrating effective ways to drive higher conversions.
  • Responsive design and social media are leveraged in the VSG Starter Store to show an integrated, unified, cross-channel platform.
  • Reward Points, In-Store Pickup, and Auto Renew functionality incorporate design and usability improvements to increase administrative and operational efficiencies.

For the B2B Company:

  • Complex Integrations: The VSG Starter Store is built for B2B e-commerce platforms that require complex integrations with existing enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), and inventory and manufacturing systems, as well as customer data and contract terms.
  • Central Repository: VSG aggregates product information into a central repository that provides a single, consistent, accurate, up-to-date view to customers and connected channels on demand, regardless of which back-office system contains any part of this information.
  • Customized Versions: We support customized versions of the VSG Starter Store for different customers based on role, location, contract, customized catalogs, or assortments. This makes it easy for customers to get the information they need and place orders that comply with their contracts.
  • Self Service: B2B customers require self-service access to a complex range of information—such as order approvals, order history, order sheets, replenishment cycles, contract terms, multiple-ship-to management, customer establishment, and purchase authorizations. Through options such as self-service, real-time chat, and voice services, organizations can resolve issues quickly and recognize each customer as an individual to create a stronger, more profitable relationship.
  • Segmentation & Personalization: The VSG Starter Store allows targeting of customers with effective content—such as offers, useful information, and promotions—to help drive business based on data such as role, customer size, business unit, browsing behavior, buying cycle stage, purchase history, account history, website and call center interactions, demographic information, and more.

VSG Managed Infrastructure Services can support your existing application architecture or help build a new foundation for future growth.

Whether you are considering the Oracle Web Commerce solution or looking to upgrade from a previous version, the VSG Starter Store can accelerate development of your e-commerce site. You can benefit from our years of experience and success. We’ve poured it all into our services—and the VSG Starter Store—to ensure that you start well ahead of the competition. Contact us
to see for yourself. 847-854-5990 x102


PureFormulas: Growing Business with the Finest & Friendliest in E-Commerce

PureFormulas provides “the finest health supplements under the sun”—with friendly flair, dedication to the customer, and a guarantee of perfection. They have available online more than 25,000 nutritional products with free shipping on all orders.

pure-formulas-masthead-flattened-500

When this Internet Retailer Top 500 company engaged VSG to develop a new e-commerce site, they expected:

  • The utmost in user-friendliness
  • A highly personalized customer experience
  • More opportunities to sell products and grow business

Together, PureFormulas and VSG designed a complete Oracle Commerce solution that weds superb service and support with shrewd technology. The resulting site makes use of personalization and dynamic, targeted content throughout the site from the Home, Category, and Product pages to the Cart, navigational elements, and transactional emails. To reinforce the technology, we developed new branding, creative design, and usability to highlight new products, promotions, and sale items. And, through segmentation and faceted search, we ensured that the PureFormulas site drives the right products to the right customer at the right time.

To supplement that strong, core solution, PureFormulas made a number of smart choices that contribute to the new site’s power and appeal:

  • Personalized the shopping experience based on preferences of consumers within unique market segments
  • Added personalization slots to many site pages to drive relevancy, relationships, and sales
  • Introduced a “Puristas” page, where customers can get acquainted with the people who work at PureFormulas (and they’re fun!)
  • Included “favorites” lists that can be shared on social networks or emaled
  • Improved checkout by implementing auto-ship, an auto-ship order discount, express checkout, and closeness qualifiers
  • Added free samples to the checkout process to drive additional sales
  • Created the ability to cross-sell and up-sell to increase overall order value
  • Implemented faceted, sortable search with “type ahead” capabilities
  • Used Oracle’s multi-site architecture to support expansion
  • Built a loyalty module to maintain Rewards Points

To root out complexity and complete this project efficiently, VSG applied the Oracle Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure delivery model—ensuring rapid, high-quality delivery of the new site’s design, development, quality assurance, and environmental deployments.

The Oracle Commerce Stack includes:

  • Endeca Experience Manager
  • Endeca Search
  • ATG 10.2 Commerce
  • ATG Commerce Service Center
  • JBoss EAP 5.1
  • Oracle 11g Database

With this friendly, hard-working site in place, PureFormulas is in an even better position to strengthen relationships with customers, build customer loyalty, and drive continual increases in sales through e-commerce.

To learn more about how the Oracle Commerce platform could help grow and support your e-commerce business, contact VSG today or call 847-854-5990 x102.


Wish Lists: 10 Ways to Enrich E-Commerce by Granting Customer Wishes

September is here. That means Grandma has started her holiday shopping, and she wants everyone’s wish list. Once upon a time, she gathered these lists by phone calls or handwritten notes from the kiddos. But now that Grams and the kids are online, wish lists are all about the click.

Click…Joey adds an item to his list.
Click…Joey shares his list with Grandma.
Click…Grandma purchases Joey’s gift.

How do you encourage these clicks? What can your site offer customers that other sites won’t? How will you differentiate yourself from the masses to engage customers and drive sales?

For starters, make sure wish list functionality is part of your Oracle Commerce platform—and integral to your marketing strategy. This valuable feature can boost sales, create engagement, increase brand awareness, and provide valuable insights into customer needs.

But don’t stop there. Merely having wish list capabilities won’t compel people to use them. And just making a list is no guarantee that a customer will share it. To encourage these behaviors, you need to design a smart wish list function (which is easy with Oracle Commerce) and then include wish lists in your marketing strategy.

How? Here are 10 ways to make the most of wish lists on your e-commerce site during the fast-approaching holiday season:

  1. Offer an exclusive holiday deal for all list makers who provide their email address and answer a couple useful questions. Consider: “Of the following five gift options, which would you rather receive?” or “What’s your spending limit when buying a gift for a co-worker?” With this approach, you give shoppers a reason to engage more deeply with your brand. In return, they supply data that will help you tailor your merchandising to their desires.
  2. Discount wish list items. In addition to inspiring purchases, reduced prices can have the added benefit of reducing a list maker’s guilt about asking for “too much.” Knowing loved ones will receive a discount may encourage these shoppers to create longer lists or choose pricier items.
  3. Present special offers to potential gift buyers. For instance, when a customer shares a wish list, extend to those contacts an exclusive incentive for purchasing an item from the list. How about a gift card, a BOGO offer, or a coupon for use next month?
  4. Host a wish list contest to increase engagement and brand awareness. Promote a select list of desirable items, urging customers to add them to their wish list. List makers who add a contest-eligible item and provide an email address will be entered into a contest to win their chosen item. By promoting this fun activity on social media, you’ll spread the word not just about the contest—but about your brand, products, and specials, too. And when the contest is over, you’ll have great insights into your customers’ best-liked products.
  5. Let shoppers promote your wish list for you. Incorporate an opt-in invitation during the account-creation step, so shoppers can recruit friends and family to create wish lists on your site. Make this feature easy and visible, so people will want to spread the word.
  6. Spotlight the most popular wish list items—not just on your site, but on social media as well. Share the “Number-One Wish List item this week” or the “Top 10 Most Wished-For Items of the Month.” Showcasing these items gets desirable products in front of a broad audience, raising the likelihood of sales and visits to your site.
  7. Reward customers for reaching wish list goals. For example, if the goal is to get seven out of ten items on the wish list, offer a discount on the eighth.
  8. Use incentives to promote sharing. Reward list makers who share their lists with potential gift purchasers with an offer like this: “Share your wish list with 10 people and get 10% off your next $10 purchase.” Also, consider rewarding shoppers who successfully recruit others to make their own wish lists. For example: “When 10 of your friends create a wish list, you’ll earn a chance for a free gizmo.”
  9. Encourage longer lists by exposing list makers to additional products. As shoppers add items to their wish lists, your site can serve up “you might also like…” options they can easily tack on with a single click. Having just chosen a slow cooker, for example, a shopper might also want to add a cookbook, some spice blends, or a set of food storage containers.
  10. Follow up on unmet wishes. When the holiday season is over, email list makers who may or may not have received everything they wanted. If they didn’t, offer a discount or incentive if they shop their own wish lists before a set date. What about those lucky shoppers who had all of their wishes granted? Thank and congratulate them—and invite them to start a new list!

There’s our list. Now, what’s your wish?

If you want your e-commerce site to accomplish more this holiday season, let’s talk about the Oracle Commerce platform’s wish list functionality. We can help enrich your business by granting customers’ wishes. Contact VSG today or call 847-854-5990 x102.


Make Social Marketing Plans from a Comfort Zone of Strategic Thinking

You’re an e-commerce executive. Your workdays are hectic. The pace is fast. The decisions are many, and the stakes are high. Your spare time is…well, spare. In your downtime, the last place you want to be is online. You steer clear of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all those other time-sucking sites. Your LinkedIn profile is current, but that’s about it.

Sound like you?

You’re not out there alone. But when it comes to marketing your e-commerce business, you might feel a little out of your comfort zone.

VSG’s clients are decision-makers who may or may not be at ease with social media. Because they’re retailing online, they see the need to be marketing there, too. They understand the importance of reaching beyond targeted e-mail campaigns to engage customers and build brand loyalty. They want to occupy a place on the social platforms that consume so much of consumers’ time and attention. But how?

We advise these leaders to form their social marketing plans in the comfort zone of strategic thinking—just as they would make any business decision.

Define goals.
What, specifically, do you want to achieve through marketing? A few of the many possibilities include:

  • Build brand awareness
  • Move fans to your opt-in email database.
  • Drive sales
  • Advertise new products
  • Increase SEO rankings

As with any performance goal: the more measurable, the better. Set a stake in the ground about how much change you expect from your social marketing efforts.

Choose a direction.
Knowing what you want to accomplish, determine the audience you need to reach, and discover which social media channels they use. Twitter? Facebook? Pinterest? Something else? Decide which of these channels is appropriate for your business. That is where you must go: the social platforms where your business and your target customers intersect.

Provide meaningful content.
Plan the stories and information you will share. Of course the content will be about your brand or business or products or services; but it must be relevant to your target audience. If your customers are passionate about the environment, emphasize “green” products. If they are budget-conscious, offer money-saving tips and coupons. If they are a DIY crowd, provide how-to instructions. If they love great design, share Pin-worthy images. If they want to feel like insiders, invite them to exclusive events.

Whatever you share, remember that social posts travel fast and can stay in view for a long time (forever). Keep your content professional, true to your brand, and absolutely free of errors.

Build relationships.
Once you’re feeding content into your chosen channels, you can start building relationships. Ask questions. Invite input. Respond to comments. Engage and interact with current customers. Have conversations with potential customers to help build your brand and generate sales.

To engage customers and generate social activity, you can offer incentives. Offer coupons or exclusive products, for example, when people “like” your Facebook page or use your Twitter hashtag.

Stick with it.
To ensure longevity and consistency in your social marketing, designate a specific individual or group to handle the work. Depending on the scope of your business, this need not be a full-time job, but it must be a daily job. Social platforms have immediacy. When customers post opinions or questions, they expect fast response. Social marketers must manage a company’s social presence throughout the day, every day.

Finally, once you start using social media, don’t stop or slow your efforts. Customers who find you on social platforms will expect you to engage. If they post a comment or question and never get a response, the complaints can spread far and fast—and that’s not the viral attention you want.

***

One of the most effective ways to embrace these principles is to integrate social marketing into your e-commerce platform. At VSG, we recommend and help clients use Oracle’s Social Marketing Cloud Service. To learn more how this approach to social marketing could help support and grow your e-commerce business, contact VSG today or call 847-854-5990 x102.


 
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