Business > Merchant Voice

For 2017: Better marketing, better products, better automation

I have been using the holidays to plan a three-point strategy for 2017.

  • Create better targeted marketing.
  • Fine-tune my product range and pricing for better profitability.
  • Streamline customer service with automated emails where possible.

This is what I plan to do to boost my sales and profits for 2017.

Better targeted marketing

Since June 2015, My Wedding Décor has been listed under two categories with the wedding directory Wedding Club (formerly The Knot): “Decorations & Effects” and “Bomboniere” (also known as “Guest Favors”).

After noticing a poor return on investment on the leads from Bomboniere in comparison to Decorations & Effects, I have requested Wedding Club change my Bomboniere category to “Party & Furniture Hire,” which better reflects my business areas.

I also plan to introduce Google Shopping ads, but will do that only after I have assessed profitability of all products — more on that later.

Last year, I installed three apps on my site — Quantity Breaks, Product Options, and, for a short time, Product Upsell — by Shopify app company Bold Apps.

Quantity Breaks offered customers tiered discounts for purchasing increasing quantities of décor items.

The total value of purchases (i.e., not items for rent) in June-December 2016 rose 347 percent over June-December 2015. However, in the last six months, not one customer has ordered more than the minimum set of 10, 20, 50 or 100 items to access the five-, 10-, 15- or 20-percent discounts.

With this app costing $16.99 per month (AU$23.58), it does not justify its inclusion.

Product Options remains essential: It allows customers to vary their order via color, size, flavor, and type, and to provide such information as custom names and dates to speed their order along the customization process.

Last year I tested Product Upsell, which enabled me to create such up-sell offers as LED pillar candles with lanterns and mirror bases with tea light holders.

The coding of this app coexisted with Product Options. However, all products available for tiered discounts that utilized both Product Options and Quantity Breaks became very buggy when Product Upsell was added, as too many variations were required to make it work properly.

Now that I have deleted Quantity Breaks, I plan to reintroduce Product Upsell to increase the average order value.

I also plan to install the Order Metrics app (ranging from free to $99 per month, depending on revenue), which lets me track the inventory cost and actual shipping expense of each order — including discounts and promotions — to improve profitability.

Fine-tune product range

My business is likely in line with others, wherein the top 20 percent of products are sold or rented 80 percent of the time, but the bottom 80 percent of products are sold or rented only 20 percent of the time. This is the 80/20 rule.

When I assessed the items that have been rarely or never rented or purchased, I was surprised to find that most were sub-$100 products. With these deleted from my product range, I will be interested to notice the impact (if any) on sales.

A tedious but necessary task is to assess the changing profitability of each product. Unfortunately there is no “notes” section within the Shopify administration of my product pages to add the supplier pricing. So I currently do this by spreadsheet.

Items imported from the U.S. and U.K. need frequent watching thanks to currency exchange fluctuations and differing shipping prices.

I will soon assess which of my most popular products to offer upsells with the help of the Order Metrics app.

Streamline customer service

Answering emails takes time. Converting enquiries into solid leads takes skill. Having less of the former and not enough of the latter, I have recently added a new app called Event Temple, which was designed by a wedding industry professional.

The app allows online retailers in the event industry (like me) to create a series of five automated emails that have been tested and proven to produce higher than usual response rates — and, even better, higher conversion rates.

I have now created these automated mails for inquiries on my Contact Us page and for leads from the Wedding Club directory. I will watch and monitor these with interest.

What are you planning for your ecommerce site for 2017?

Elizabeth Hollingsworth
Elizabeth Hollingsworth
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