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How to Increase E-Commerce Sales without Discounting [Infographic]

Every consumer will ultimately tell you that they love a good deal.  Who doesn’t? Because of this most retailers offer discounts to help drive sales.  Sales increase and customers are happy.  Research has shown that discounting e-commerce products can provide long term harm to your business. Slant Marketing has put together a very useful and informative infographic that covers the topic of discounting in e-commerce sales..and how to increase e-commerce sales without slashing prices.

The graphic covers the dangers of discounting.  There can be short-term benefits, however discounting of the long-term does more harm than good in e-commerce sales. E-commerce companies should focus on addressing the real problem at hand, and that’s why people are not buying your products. There is some really cool information presented on what stops customers from buying and also what keeps customers buying.  Anyone involved in e-commerce sales could benefit from the information presented in this infographic.

Key Trends Affecting Retailers This Holiday Season

Whether online or in-store, retailers count on the holiday season to drive towards their annual goals. This year, many retailers are facing a variety of challenges and changes that will affect their ability to capture market share and wallets across the country. Let’s look at some of these key trends affecting retailers this holiday season.

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Labor Shortage

If you follow economic data, and I do, you know the country’s official unemployment rate is at or near full employment. That means retailers are going to have a harder time finding their temporary holiday employees to staff their registers, stockrooms and fulfillment centers. Macy’s announced its hiring 85,000 temporary holiday employees, Wal-Mart, 60,000. And they’ve started hiring early because they know they’re fighting an uphill battle for help.

Lessons In Customer Loyalty From 3 Successful Businesses

Whether you’re a local mom-and-pop shop or an international business, there’s a common thread that your business relies on: loyal customers. A happy customer is one that will bring you business again and again, and cut down on your own efforts to attract new business, since they’re usually willing to refer their friends to you.

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I spoke to three distinctly different companies to see how they foster customer loyalty: my local video store (yes, video), a payroll processing brand, and a well-known computer technology company. Here are the lessons in customer loyalty that you should glean.

Loyal Customers Bring Endangered Genre Back by Popular Demand

When I moved to my neighborhood and saw a video rental store, I scoffed. In this era of Netflix, how on earth could such a relic survive?

4 Ways to Get Your Customers to Do Your Marketing For You

I’m big on being lazy. If there’s an easy way to do something, I take that path of least resistance. I’m the same when it comes to marketing. If there’s an easy way to get more business, by all means, I’m in favor!

Did you realize your customers are willing to do the heavy lifting for you? They’re great brand advocates, and if you know how to work them, they’ll help you find new customers. Here’s how.

1. Ask for Reviews

Whether you run a restaurant and want reviews on Yelp, or a mobile app and want reviews on app stores, you’ve got to ask for them. Happy customers are ones who are willing to tell others through online reviews, so start by providing stellar customer service. Then ask for reviews in a followup email, or even in-person.

Social Media Customer Support: The Wave of the Future is Here Right Now

You already know that social media is a fantastic marketing tool for your small business. However, social media also has another important application that more and more companies are beginning to use, and that’s utilizing social media for customer support. I think social media is a great tool for customer service, and was happy to see the recent report from Software Advice, the online reviews and comparisons hub for CRM buyers, that stated the number software vendors offering social media tools for customer support has increased by 150% since 2010. To learn more about why more companies are demanding automated tool for customer service, we asked Craig Borowski, the researcher and author of this report, a few questions.

Social Media Customer Support: The Wave of the Future is Here Right Now

Your recent report shows an uptick in brands using social media for customer support. Why do you think there’s been such an increase?

Great question! The short reason for why brands are increasingly using social media for customer support is because that’s where many of their customers are. Now, a half-glass empty narrative you often hear is that companies only turn to social media customer service after they discover that customers are using it as a platform to publicly complain about a poor experience with a company. In this context, companies are turning to social mainly for “damage control,” to protect brand reputation. While this is still somewhat accurate, for some companies, it’s really only a small part of the picture. The best companies, those finding the most value in social media, are those that use it to open new dialogues with their customers.

How are customers demanding more advanced social customer service tools?

Customer demand for specific customer service channels can be tricky to gauge. Most often, their demand is only made clear by looking at which companies they spend their money with, and then connecting the dots back to what drives those purchase decisions. When connecting those dots, it’s important to remember that the less effort customers need to expend to complete their customer service issue, the more likely they are to consider the service good. Every small hoop they’re made to jump through — for example, being asked to repeat details, to call instead of email, or to email first then call — increases the effort, measurably degrades their overall satisfaction and raises the chances they’ll shop elsewhere in the future. Unfortunately, few companies track their customers experiences closely enough to accurately pinpoint each and every hoop.

Customer Experience Lessons From a Michelin-Starred French Restaurant

First, let me say: it’s good to be home. I’m just back from an extended vacation in France with my family. [Cue jealousy.]

One of the most memorable experiences we had was dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant, Le Table de Patrick Raingeard. While sipping my champagne and feasting on perfectly cooked duck, I reflected on what a good job the restaurant had done to ensure our customer experience was elevated.

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You might not be one of the best restaurants in France, but these are customer experience lessons you can put to good use, too.

1. Anticipate Needs

The staff at the restaurant was well trained. We visited for brunch, which included free-flowing champagne. Now, being a connoisseur of the champagne brunch in the United States, I was accustomed to draining my glass before the harried server came over to refill. Not the case here. Before I was even halfway done with my champagne, the waiter would silently glide over and refill it. I was kept happy.

2. Make Customers Feel Like Family

I was a little concerned about feeling like we didn’t belong in such a fancy place, but I needn’t have worried. From the hotel concierge who greeted us by name and personally escorted us to the restaurant to the director of the restaurant (I imagine he’s like the maitre’d), everyone engaged in witty repartee and made us feel like they wanted us there. The young man whose job it was to help people navigate the buffet, after I inquired about items I might be allergic to, went to the kitchen to make sure he’d told me of all the potential shellfish pitfalls. Turns out there was another—on my plate, no less—that I should avoid. I was pleased that he went out of his way to make sure I wouldn’t bring up my delicious and expensive meal later.

Making the Most Out of Business Travel

Business travel is often a necessary evil: security lines, smelly cabs, long flights. But you and your team can get more value from business trips than just the original meeting. When travelling, especially for business, I think about maximizing my time by cultivating relationships that will pay off in the near future. I work with my teams to do the same. Here’s how we do it.

How To Improve Your Customer Service with Texting and SMS [Infographic]

Text and SMS notifications are a form of communication that more and more brands are using to connect with their customers regarding their customer service experiences. Studies show that SMS and texting engagement rates are 6-8 times higher than email messages. Some customers are turned off by receiving unwanted texts even though it is a very easy and convenient way to interact with your customer base. West Interactive has put together a list of smart solutions for interacting with your customers via this form of communication.  Would you interact with your customers this way?

Enhancing the Customer Experience with Interactive Voice Technology [Infographic]

When it comes to customer service, customers like to have their opinions heard. Voice communications is still the most popular form of customer engagement with over 92% of all customer service interactions being phone based. Interactive voice technology is one of the most popular and efficient ways for businesses to interact with their customers over the phone.  West Interactive has put together a really informative infographic about customer service 101 over the phone.  Check it out below.

Marketing Unplugged: Three Benefits of Offline Marketing

We seem to be captivated by gadgets with flashing lights and things that go “bing.” If it doesn’t have a plug or a battery, we consider it out of date and behind the times. This is especially true for advertising and marketing. We think banner ads on websites, and TV spots for the local market. We are rightfully considering new ways to get our message onto the consumer tech market with which everyone is so fascinated.

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But in the process of chasing the next thing, we may be prematurely leaving behind a valuable resource that has worked for a very long time, and still has a lot to offer. I am referring, of course, to print media. Believe it or not, there are still things print can do better than digital. Here are three benefits to offline marketing like print:

Complete Control and Customization

In the grand scheme of things, print is easy. There is no HTML, JAVA, or CSS to learn. Print provides the least amount of friction between your marketing idea, and an actual product. You can sketch something up on a napkin and have a pretty good idea of what the finished product will look like.

Utilizing the expertise of custom printing services, a marketer or promoter can bring an idea to life without a college-level course in Adobe Photoshop. It is much easier to be a part of the creative process when one is familiar with the medium at hand. We all understand print well enough to work closely with a print professional to get exactly what we need. Few understand the language of the web to be effective at back-end customization. That disconnect results in a loss of control over the process, and to some degree, the message.

How Small Business Owners can Benefit from Trade Shows (Even When not Exhibiting)

Small business owners benefit from trade shows when they exhibit. Among other perks, they will increase the awareness of their brand, gain access to the biggest players from their industry, and get exposure to a number of potential customers and/or clients they would otherwise be unable to.

How Small Business Owners can Benefit from Trade Shows (Even When not Exhibiting)

But what about a small business owner for whom exhibiting at trade shows is still too pricey? Is there a way in which they could benefit from trade shows from their industry? The answer is a resounding yes and following are just some of the reasons why the answer is affirmative.

1. Simply put: trade shows are ginormous

It does not matter if we are talking the biggest trade shows and conventions in the most popular industries or more modest trade shows and fairs that are in the industries that are not the flashiest, the situation is the same. These trade shows will (most likely) be the biggest events in that given industry, attended by all the most important decision-makers.

This, of course, means that when a small business owner attends an event like this, they are in the epicenter of it all; they are in the place to be when it comes to their field of expertise and when it comes to what their own business is all about. This, in turn, means that there is very little that can happen in a given industry that they will miss out on.

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