6 Things to Look for in an Ecommerce Email Service Provider

Email marketing is one of the most successful marketing activities to build into your ecommerce strategy. It usually has the highest conversion rates, the lowest costs and can be a fantastic way of engaging with both existing and potential customers.

However, finding the right email service provider can be hard. There are many tools on the market which offer varying levels of functionality and flexibility. 

What should you be looking for in an email service provider?

#1 – An easy-to-use email campaign builder

One of the first things to look at could be how easy the campaign builder is to use. Whilst you may be making the decision of which email provider to use, it may be other members of the team who will create and manage your email campaigns.

A clear and simple campaign builder will help you brand your email campaigns effectively, and provide an excellent customer experience.  

An easy to use campaign builder will make everyone’s lives easier and reduce the time needed to onboard and train your wider team.

#2 – Comprehensive automation and workflow features

The traditional email strategy of ‘batch and blast’ no longer works. Modern email strategies need segmentation and workflows to offer a personalised customer engagement strategy.

Some email service providers offer simple automations, whilst others offer more complex data-driven workflows. 

Even though you may not use all of the comprehensive features that the tool will offer, you may grow into them as your brand continues to experience high growth.

#3 – Built-in integrations with your ecommerce platform

It makes sense to prioritise an email service provider that has easy built-in integrations with your ecommerce platform.

Some providers are ‘baked in’ to Magento to make the integration easier, and others have Shopify Plus apps to help you get set up quickly.

It can sometimes be costly and take longer to set up if your email provider does not have a quick and easy integration. 

#4 – Advanced reporting

Retailers now have a plethora of data available and many email providers can use this data to offer advanced reporting and dashboards.

Depending on what your targets are, you may want to look at an email provider that can offer custom reports, alerts and more.

#5 – Wider marketing and engagement tools

Whilst your focus may be on looking for an email provider, many email platforms also offer wider marketing and engagement tools such as on-site personalisation, SMS campaigns and more.

This extra functionality will allow you to effectively communicate with your customers at more touch points, and cover the wide spectrum of the conversion funnel.

These features are good to grow into and can often be an easy add-on to your core functionality.

#6 – Strong delivery rates

Email providers will have various delivery rates and whilst on the most part, they will all be similar, you want to make sure that you use an established and trusted provider with strong delivery rates.

You want your emails to be delivered and not sent to spam folders. 

#6 – Excellent team support

The final thing to look for is excellent team support. Depending on your package and plan, you may be able to take advantage of the email platform’s customer service team.

Even if you have an in-house team and work with a specialist agency, you may still need the expert advice and support of the platform you are using.

Some email providers offer more support than others, but it is worth understanding exactly what support you think you may need.

Working with expert technology

There are some fantastic email platforms out there including dotdigital, Klaviyo and Emarsys. It is worth drawing up a list of your needs and working with your ecommerce agency to find the right agency for you.

If you need help with your ecommerce technologies and are looking for ecommerce consultancy, then get in touch.

After a site launch, there are likely going to be bugs and errors that need fixing. No matter how great your team is or how enterprise level your ecommerce platform is, there will be things you need to fix or would like to improve on.

However, if you work with a proactive agency on your site launch or migration, you can minimise the number of bugs and errors you may encounter.

What are some of the most common ecommerce bugs and errors? How can you plan and prepare for them?

#1 – Missing product data

The most common errors are usually because of missing product data. You will encounter a huge number of issues if you haven’t uploaded all of the correct data for your products, including sizes, colours, descriptions, imagery, specifications, or even titles.

This can have an effect on product pages, checkout, filtering and sorting, warehouse management systems and more. Issues could be minor such as an issue with site search, or they could be major such as an issue with adding products to cart.

When you are uploading products to your site, or are working with your agency on a migration, make sure that you have a checklist for all of the product data you need and prioritise making sure it is all accurate. 

#2 – Promotions and discounts not working 

There’s nothing worse than spending weeks planning a sale or promotion, and then there are issues with your launch. Either the discount doesn’t work for your customers, or a bundle offer doesn’t work properly.

This could be for a number of reasons, including an incorrectly set up pricing or discounting structure or poor product data.

Make sure you plan and set up your promotion at least a week before and review with your ecommerce team to ensure there are no conflicts or errors. 

#3 – Missing redirects

One of the most common ecommerce errors during a migration is missing redirects. This can have a huge impact on your organic search presence, your paid search strategy, and your customer experience. 

Whilst you may catch all of your key pages and set up redirects, there are likely going to be secondary or tertiary pages that are easily missed. 

Any proactive ecommerce team should be able to help you with setting up all of your redirects and help you map out all of your pages, or you may want to work more closely with an SEO agency to do so.

#4 – Payment methods not working

A rarer ecommerce error, but one with huge consequences, is when your payment methods aren’t working properly. 

Depending on whether this is your core payment method or a PayPal or Apple Pay method, it can cause major issues with your checkout experience if your customers cannot make a payment.

More often than not, this may be due to wrong information set up in your payment settings. This could be an easy fix but it’s always worth speaking to your ecommerce agency and your payment partner to make sure there are no wider issues.

#5 – Poor tracking from marketing activities

If you have poor tracking from your marketing activities, then this can have consequences for your wider ecommerce strategy. You need to make sure that you have appropriate UTM tracking for any campaigns. If you don’t, you may be reporting inaccurately and you could be making the wrong decisions for your growth.

Make sure you review all of your UTM tracking and have your reporting set up accurately.

#6 – Slow loading imagery

Customers may not recognise a fast site, but they will definitely recognise a

slow loading site. Whilst a slow site can be for any number of reasons, one of the causes of a slow site can be imagery.

If your image files aren’t compressed, then you may have issues with slow pages on-site and a poor customer experience. 

This is an issue to review before any site launch or migration. You can either compress and review all images before the project or use an image compression app or module on-site. 

Work with proactive partners

Every ecommerce project is different and so there are hundreds of bugs and errors that can’t be caught, however if you work with proactive partners then you can minimise the number of issues you will encounter by preparing and planning for them beforehand.

Planning for reactive ecommerce work can be difficult, but working with the right agency can change your business. 

If you’re looking for an ecommerce agency and want to know how we work, then get in touch.

The client-agency relationship can be a hugely rewarding one when you have the right agency to work with. You will have the resource, the ideas and the passion from another team who are invested in your brand and can help you take your store to the next level.

However, you may be finding that the relationship you currently have isn’t working out and you are exploring your options and sourcing a new ecommerce agency. Your current agency might not be proactive enough or they have made a major mistake with a campaign.

What are the key reasons why you should find a new ecommerce agency?

#1 – You may have outgrown your agency

The first question to ask is if you’ve just outgrown your agency. It’s fairly common for a small agency to work with a small retailer and there comes a point where the retailer becomes a multi-million international brand and the agency hasn’t grown alongside them. 

This causes issues with agency resource, communication and expectation management. If you’ve outgrown your agency, you may need a larger agency with a more strategic setup for your business.

#2 – Your agency isn’t proactive enough

One of the most common reasons why retailers approach us is because their previous agency isn’t proactive. Most retailers are looking for an ecommerce growth partner who can offer recommendations and make improvements to their site and their strategy on an ongoing basis. 

However the reality is that there are a large number of agencies (some of them well established with big brand names) who are just not proactive when it comes to the retailers they work with. 

#3 – Your agency doesn’t communicate well

Similarly, another common reason why retailers leave their previous agency and approach us is because the agency doesn’t communicate well.

The key to a strong client-agency relationship is communication. The agency needs to be able to manage expectations, handle requests efficiently and be clear about the project.

If you find yourself having to chase your agency or they’re not clear enough about what work needs doing, then you may need to start exploring other options.

#4 – Your agency can’t report on success

Your agency should be able to report on the success of your site or your campaign, and should be able to demonstrate ROI. Most agencies don’t have the tools to be able to do this and some fall short when retailers ask for regular ecommerce reports. 

If you’re experiencing rapid growth, you will need to be able to understand how your site or campaigns are performing with enough detail to make data-driven decisions. 

If your current agency is unable to do this, then this may be another reason to explore other options.

#5 – Your agency made a major mistake with a project or campaign

You may be exploring other agencies after a major incident such as Black Friday downtime or issues with a migration project. 

Depending on your vertical and your size, issues like this are unacceptable and can quickly turn a client-agency relationship sour and begin to cause distrust. 

If your agency has made a major mistake which has directly affected your revenues and orders, then this is a reason to look elsewhere for your project or campaign management.

#6 – Your agency has mishandled a number of smaller projects

Sometimes it may be not a major mistake that your agency has made, but instead they’ve mishandled a number of smaller projects and you may not even realise how much of an impact they’ve had on your success.

These may be simple mistakes such as promotions and discount codes not running properly, or they haven’t fully explained how an integration with a secondary technology works. 

The impact of these smaller issues can add up and can be another reason to find a new ecommerce agency.

#7 – You need a platform or campaign specialist

Another major reason you may want to find a new ecommerce agency, which is no fault of your current agency, is that you need a platform or campaign specialist. 

If you’re built on the Magento platform for example, you will want to work with a Magento Solution Partner, and if you’re built on Shopify will need a Shopify Partner.

If you’re running PPC campaigns, you will also want to work with an appropriately accredited Google Partner or Microsoft Advertising Partner.

These accreditations are crucial for making sure you’re working with agencies who know your platforms and campaigns inside out. All partners must have shown demonstrable success in using the relevant applications and resources. When you work with an official partner, you can be certain that you are working with a fully-committed, partner-vetted and approved partner who has been trained in all aspects of the platform or campaign.

#8 – Your agency doesn’t have strong partnerships with technologies

And finally, you may want to work with an agency who has stronger partnerships with both the technologies you work with and other technologies you may want to explore in the future.

If you’re currently working with a partner who doesn’t have a relationship with Klevu, LoyaltyLion or Nosto for example – but these are tools you are using – you will be missing out on partner-specific offers, guidance and resources that could be maximising your opportunities. 

The ecommerce agency search

The ecommerce agency search is challenging and finding a new agency can have a huge impact on your business. You may find it easier to stick with your current agency to minimise disruption (‘better the devil you know’) but you could be missing out on opportunities to truly take your store to the next level of high growth.

We understand retailers don’t just need an ecommerce agency, they need a partner. They need a proactive partner who can help with wider ecommerce growth.

If you’re interested in how we can work together on your Magento or Shopify Plus store or PPC campaigns, then get in touch.

Finding the right ecommerce agency can be challenging – whether you’re looking for a Magento or Shopify Plus agency for a specific project or you need an ongoing support agency for ecommerce growth. 

You may have an existing shortlist of three to five ecommerce agencies and are struggling to identify the top team to work with. 

How can you narrow down your ecommerce agency shortlist?

#1 – Which agencies do you feel comfortable with? 

Gut feelings are important. Whilst this isn’t something you may want to finalise a decision with, it could help you narrow down the shortlist.

If you have a cultural fit with the ecommerce agency you work with, the project will run a lot smoother and you will be able to have an honest, reliable and sustainable relationship with the ecommerce agency team.

It can be helpful to ask to meet the wider team to get a better feeling, and meet your potential account managers.

#2 – How do the agencies communicate with you? 

Communication is also key. Whilst it’s not easy to understand how communicative the agencies on your shortlist will be, you can mark how communicative they are during the RFP process. 

A good agency will ask questions, share ideas and research and will ask you to clarify certain requirements. This can be a good marker of which agencies you can narrow your shortlist to.

#3 – Which other retailers do the agencies work with?

Another good marker is which retailers the agencies work with. If there are some agencies with little to no experience in your retail vertical, then you may want to explore other options.

If an agency works with other retailers within your vertical then they are certainly worth having a conversation with. They will know the ins and outs of that industry and will be able to offer specific insight into unique challenges you may be facing.

If you’re a retailer with a wholesale or B2B offering then you will need to work with an ecommerce agency with specific experience here. The unique challenges that can come with B2B ecommerce will need specialist insight from an agency ith B2B experience.

You would also benefit from asking to speak with the retailers they work with for an honest testimonial. Ask to schedule a short call with their flagship client and ask them questions about what it’s like to work with the agency.

#4 – How do they manage both proactive and reactive work? 

An agency should be reactive to issues and new work from the client, but they should also be advisory on proactive recommendations in order to grow your ecommerce business. A successful ecommerce agency will be an additional member of your ecommerce in-house team, to advise and support on both proactive and reactive work.

It may be important to you that an agency is able to jump onto urgent issues and fix bugs in a sufficient amount of time. In order to meet expectations, there should be an understanding, from the beginning, of what an agency classes as ‘urgent’ and what the expected time frames are for different types of bug fixes so that both parties are happy.

When you also approach the agency with new work, changes and feature requests for your website, it is important to know what the process will be.

Do they have a brief template? Will they provide a quotation? What happens if they go over the estimated hours in a quotation? Are jobs charged ad hoc?

You can read more info about what questions to ask when looking for a support agency here.

#5 – Are they ecommerce platform accredited?

There are many agencies out there who have Magento or Shopify Plus experience and knowledge, but it is important to identify whether they are an official solution partner. 

This means the agency has had to meet very high quality standards, demonstrated through exams and training in order to become certified. All developers, project managers, and account managers will have extensive Magento or Shopify Plus knowledge from having such a close relationship with the platform.

You may want to explore other options if there are some agencies on your shortlist without these specialist accreditations.

#6 – What relationships do they have with technology partners?

Both Magento and Shopify Plus are great ecommerce platforms, but can become much more powerful with the appropriate technology partners. An ecommerce agency should have good relationships with technology partners and be able to advise on the most appropriate technical tools to fuel your ecommerce growth. 

It will be rare that you will want to use either Magento or Shopify Plus without any add-ons or supporting technologies such as payments, personalisation, site search and more.

#7 – How do they price against other agencies? 

Of course one of the factors you will be considering in your shortlist is price. How do the agencies price amongst each other?

However, you shouldn’t make any decisions on price alone and you should compare value. What value would they add to the project or campaign? 

#8 – How do they demonstrate return on investment?

More importantly, how do the agencies on your shortlist demonstrate return on investment?

This will likely vary from project to project, but if the agencies can demonstrate or estimate return on investment, it can be a good sign of their proactivity and data-driven approach to how they work.

It may be that they use a conversion rate model (if a new site improves conversion rate by X%, how much extra revenue would it drive), or they may use a % of sales model if they are a PPC agency too.

This can help you to visualise your investment and how the agency will work to help you achieve ecommerce success and grow.

Finding the right ecommerce agency is challenging

We understand retailers don’t just need an ecommerce agency, they need a partner. They need a proactive partner who can help with wider ecommerce growth.

If you’re interested in how we can work together on your Magento or Shopify Plus store, then get in touch.

For many retailers, an ecommerce consultant or agency with a consultancy service can add significant value. In the challenges of the day-to-day running of an online store, it can be rewarding to work with a partner who can take a step back and pinpoint any issues within your setup but also offer up opportunities for high growth. 

For those exploring working with an ecommerce consultant, what should you consider?

#1 – Do you want specialist insight or a general overview?

The first question to ask is whether you are in need of specialist insight or if you’re looking for a general ecommerce overview.

This will depend on what challenges you’re having, and which technologies you are using.

If you are struggling with ecommerce positioning, marketing, customer service etc. then you may benefit from a general overview.

If you are built on Magento or Shopify, you’ll benefit more from specialist insight into those platforms. Similarly, if you’re having challenges with Amazon you will want a specialist who can best inform your Amazon marketing strategy.

#2 – What type of ecommerce consultant are you looking for?

The second question to ask yourself is what type of consultant are you looking for? Ecommerce consultants work in different ways – some may be freelancers, some may have a team. The type of consultant you’d want to work with will depend on what advice you need.

A freelancer consultant has its benefits and they could work as an extension or advisor to your team. They’re likely to give you a general overview.

An ecommerce consultant with a team can also be beneficial as you will then have different perspectives and opinions to pull from. This type of consultant may be able to give you both a general overview and some specialist insight into platforms or technologies.

You may also want to work with an agency who has an ecommerce consultancy service. An agency will likely have a wider set of skills and perspectives to pull from and may have more established partnerships with technologies and other similar agencies. Depending on the agency setup, they will be able to give you highly technical and specialist insight with a cohesive top-level overview. 

#3 – What types of retailers do they work with?

An easier question to ask when looking at potential consultants is what type of retailers do they work with?

First of all, if they work with other retailers within your vertical then they are certainly worth having a conversation with. They will know the ins and outs of that industry and will be able to offer specific insight into unique challenges you may be facing.

Second of all, if you’re a retailer with a wholesale or B2B offering then you will need to work with an ecommerce consultant or agency with specific experience here. The unique challenges that can come with B2B ecommerce will need specialist insight from a consultant with B2B experience.

And lastly, you also want to consider the size of retailers they work with, the types of products they sell (FMCG, luxury, repeat purchases etc.), the demographics they sell to, the markets they sell in and more. The more experience a consultant or agency has with your challenges, the better.

#4 – Identify what partnerships the consultant has

Another consideration is the type of partnerships a consultant or agency has. As mentioned, if you’re a store built on Magento or Shopify you will need a consultant with a strong partnership with those platforms.

Similarly, you will likely benefit from a consultant with partnerships with your email platform, reviews platform, payment providers, loyalty and marketing platforms etc. In the world of ecommerce, partnerships can be key and can help you fix problems faster and identify growth opportunities for your business.

That’s not to say that if a consultant doesn’t have these partnerships then they will not add value, but it certainly helps. 

#5 – Is there a strong cultural fit with the consultant?

The last consideration is cultural fit. You will be spending a lot of time with the consultant or agency and need to be reassured that you have the same values and ethics in order to have a good cultural fit.

Any partnership is built on trust and vision and if you don’t align here, then it may not work.

Consultancy can add value to your business

Whether you work with a freelancer consultant or work with an agency with a consultancy service, you will find that it does add value to work with an outsider who can identify challenges and opportunities.

Whether you’re approaching ecommerce for the first time, or you’re an established ecommerce business, growing online can be a complex challenge. We offer ecommerce consultancy as one of our key services to help you create a plan for ecommerce growth. Our ecommerce consultancy framework helps retailers understand what they need in order to experience rapid growth, from platform choice and integrations through to expansion and customer acquisition strategy.

If you need advice or support with your ecommerce store, then get in touch.

Customer expectations are higher than they’ve ever been – and this couldn’t ring more true than for health and beauty shoppers. In this guest blog from HubBox, we explore how the health and beauty industry can manage these expectations.

For decades, a hyper-competitive industry has meant that to be successful, brands and retailers have had to be at the very forefront of customer experience when it comes to product choice and shopper engagement.

As health and beauty has moved online, and the industry becomes increasingly digital, today’s health and beauty customer demands the same engaged and personalised experience at every step of the customer journey (even through to delivery, expecting retailers to meet them wherever they are, whenever they want.

The demands of today’s health and beauty shopper

The high demands of health and beauty shoppers when it comes to customer experience are nothing new. Long before ecommerce, dedicated counters – both in brand-owned and department stores – have enabled shoppers to engage with their favourite beauty brands, providing them opportunities to test and interact with products, demonstrated by experts. Few other industry verticals offered shoppers such product choice or brand engagement.

Many of today’s health and beauty retailers have built on these successful offline engagement foundations and adapted them to ecommerce.

Customers are now rarely being sold to in department stores, but via video tutorials across social channels. The last 10 years have seen retailers such as Amazon, Glossier, Cult Beauty, Feel Unique, Look Fantastic and allbeauty among others, further elevate the expectations of shoppers when it comes to choice, value, shipping, delivery and consequently, convenience. Indeed, Birchbox and Glossybox have built whole businesses on providing customers with a choice of products in a selection box, conveniently delivered every month on subscription.

In a vertical where multiple retailers often sell equivalent branded products, ensuring that customers expectations are met across every element of their proposition becomes paramount – else shoppers will go elsewhere.

This resonates when it comes to delivery, and especially delivery within health and beauty. We know that 60% of ecommerce shoppers will shop elsewhere if the delivery options offered by a competitor are more convenient. (MetaPack) We know that today’s shoppers will compare and choose ecommerce delivery options across sites in the same way they compare and choose products. Indeed, health and beauty shoppers, in particular, expect (and are well-versed in selecting from) a wide range of options when it comes to convenience and delivery.

In line with this, ensuring customers are offered the choices they expect when it comes to delivery, becomes a key differentiator for brands and retailers alike.

What do customers expect when it comes to delivery?

Lifestyle patterns are changing. Whilst home delivery is popular now with much of the country at home during this public health crisis, trends leading up to the virus outbreak showed that it suits fewer shoppers now than it has ever done.

When the UK finally emerges from the current COVID-19 lockdown, it’s undeniable that people’s remote and office working patterns will have become more flexible. Traditional ecommerce delivery methods, such as standard and next-day-delivery, will no longer cut it as people’s lives become unpredictable from one day to the next. Customer expectations will be higher and shoppers will need choice, so that there’s a delivery option available that suits them, at the particular moment they are checking out.

Alongside providing choice, the delivery options offered have to be convenient. Next day delivery, as the sole alternative to standard delivery, is only convenient for those shoppers who know they will be at home the following day. For many, the lack of certainty of where there’ll be day to day means that more flexible, convenient options must be made available to meet customer demand. Research by Barclaycard saw 42% of consumers say that they rely on click and collect services because they are out during the day, and a further 15% select this option because they cannot have deliveries sent to work.

Finally, consumers are increasingly aware of the environmental impact of their shopping habits. We’re having the ever-growing macro conversation around the damage to the environment and our carbon footprint. Indeed, Nielsen reported 53% of Gen Z are planning on using direct home delivery less in the future to reduce their carbon footprint. When it comes to ecommerce delivery, it’s more important than ever to ensure shoppers are offered greener options – and this couldn’t be more true than in health and beauty.

Clean Beauty, Sustainable Delivery

Consumer spend in health and beauty continues to grow, with clean health and wellness set to grow dramatically over the next decade. (Edge by Ascential). 

The issue of sustainability is now of greater importance to beauty and health retailers. We’ve seen Sephora invest in specialised stores for eco-friendly and clean beauty products, with this type of initiative aligned with the demands of their shoppers. The establishment and growth of brands like all-natural skincare company, UpCircle, who only sell products made from byproduct ingredients, helping avoid landfill waste, supports this further.

From ethical sourcing and testing to reduced plastic and recyclable packaging, today’s health and beauty consumers are passionate about the sustainability credentials of every brand they invest in. They’re just as discerning when it comes to delivery options and ensuring the method they choose at checkout doesn’t add to their carbon footprint. They’ll know that 5 different delivery vans delivering customers’ items to 5 different addresses on the same street isn’t sustainable – and will prioritise cleaner alternatives either, where possible, via electric vehicles or, more commonly, via click and collect where drop-offs can be aggregated.

When expectations are met, shoppers reward their retailers

Shoppers spend more when they choose click and collect. When customers know that items won’t be left on their doorstep, or their deliveries won’t be returned to the delivery depot because they’re not at home to receive them, ecommerce shoppers are willing to spend more and add more items to their cart. Last year, we saw that when click and collect was selected at checkout, basket values were, on average, 15% greater than home delivery.

Furthermore, customers that predominantly choose click and collect at checkout make online purchases three times more frequently than shoppers who predominantly chose home delivery.

Looking forward…

These are unprecedented times. The effects of the COVID-19 lockdown will have accelerated the growth of ecommerce as a proportion of retail and reduced that of traditional brick and mortar retailing. Indeed some reports state that 4000 retail units may not open again.

For retailers whose store locations remain, in-store click and collect will play an important role in driving lucrative footfall into stores and engaging shoppers with brands. Equally, for those without stores or who once had stores, local collection points will provide an invaluable footprint so customers can still benefit from click and collect.

As the world of retail changes ever-faster, it’s becoming more crucial than ever that retailers adapt to ensure they are well-positioned to meet the demands and expectations of their ecommerce customers once normality resumes.

Health and beauty retailers that are using this time to focus on how they can meet, and exceed, the delivery expectations of their customers, put themselves in the strongest position to succeed.

About HubBox

HubBox is the UK’s first courier-independent nationwide click and collect service, available to any sized online retailer. We’ve removed the barriers to entry that have prevented retailers from offering the popular click and collect option. We’ve developed the technology to install our solution seamlessly at the retailer’s checkout, branded to match the website and available on all the major ecommerce platforms, including Magento, Shopify, WooCommerce, and Demandware.

We operate a nationwide network of Collect Points hand-picked from premium high street shops like pharmacies, dry cleaners, and convenience stores.

The health and wellness industry is booming and with an estimated worth of $4.2 trillion, and a market that’s grown by 12.8% in the last two years, there’s no sign of growth slowing down any time soon. In this guest blog from LoyaltyLion, we explore the best in the business.

With hundreds of new health and wellness apps, products and services launching on an almost daily basis, promoting everything from crystals and herbal teas to make-up and yoga equipment, it’s becoming harder and harder for brands to attract and retain loyal customers. 

Retaining customers should be a number one priority for beauty and cosmetics ecommerce brands. On average, 53% of your revenue comes from the top 20% of your most valuable customers, so it’s clear that harnessing the interest and loyalty of these shoppers will positively impact your revenue. 

Creating relationships with customers beyond what they purchase is crucial to turning existing customers into advocates on your behalf, and the most effective way to do that is to create a sense of community. Show them that you care about them on a personal level by adding them to a special tier of your loyalty program, gifting them exclusive experiences or rewarding them every time they refer friends to your site. Not only will this start to build trust and a sense of community, but you’ll benefit from both new customers discovering you, and your devoted customers seeing their loyalty rewarded. 

Let’s take a look at some of the brands who are doing this really well.

Vitabiotics

A pioneer in nutritional health, Vitabiotics offers a range of vitamins and food supplements focused across a number of health categories. Their holistic loyalty program incorporates a range of strategies that put loyalty at the heart of the customer journey. 

To increase customer acquisition, Vitabiotics have implemented a one-click referral model that sits prominently on their loyalty page. Customers can simply click a single button to generate a unique Vitabiotics referral URL, which they can use to send invites to friends or family members. 

Loyal customers can have up to double the lifetime value of existing customers. That’s why it’s important to turn existing customers – who might just be passing through – into loyal customers who are incentivised to repeatedly purchase from you. Vitabiotics encourages existing customers to sign up to their loyalty program through pop-ups across the website that highlight their loyalty program and the 15% discount they’ll receive if they sign up. This keeps the company’s loyalty program at the forefront of customers’ minds as they move around the site and makes sure they’re fully aware of the immediate benefits they’ll receive once they join.

Vitabiotics also regularly remind customers of the points value that certain products hold, so that customers can see what they’re losing out on if they choose not to sign up. They  further incentivise purchases by highlighting how close a customer is to earning their next reward when they add that product to their cart. If the customer is nearing a rewards or tier threshold, Vitabotics recommends related items to encourage the customer to increase their order value in order to hit the next target and gain a reward. 

While it’s important to prompt customers to join your loyalty program via multiple touch points across your website, it’s important not to overlook the checkout experience. Checkout is one the most important parts of the customers’ journey and anything that’s complicated or confusing to a customer can result in an abandoned cart. Vitabiotics use a check-out slider that allows customers to easily select how many points they want to use and redeem, directly in the cart interface. 

Finally, Vitabiotics send out regular loyalty emails to highlight VIP perks such as double reward events. These keep customers engaged and feeling special, reminding them why they joined the loyalty program in the first place and giving them renewed impetus to actively participate with it. 

Vitabiotics

Your Super

In a world that’s increasingly time-poor, convenient subscription services are in incredibly high demand, with the subscription box market set to be worth £1 billion by 2022. Recent research has found that more than 50% of businesses surveyed see subscriptions as a major focus in the future, with 58.6% saying they intend to invest in new or existing subscription services over the next 12 months. 

Subscription services give businesses more control and allow greater revenue predictability, based on regular and repeated purchases. Typically, subscribed customers have a higher customer lifetime value compared to non-subscribers. These models offer the opportunity to tie customers into a long-term relationship that will yield more customer insights and give businesses a chance to service customer needs long-term, establishing greater trust. 

Plant protein mix brand Your Super have successfully leveraged the subscription model to increase loyalty, through a paid-for subscriber tier within their loyalty program. With this model, they have increased member spend by 38% and added 21,000 new loyalty program members. 

Their unique subscriber tier is called “Your Super Member”. It allows subscribers to unlock a 20% discount on every purchase and claim subscription rewards that can be used across multiple orders. 

Your Super uses a simple and user-friendly customer portal that enables customers to claim and apply subscription discounts on the same page. Members can see their subscriptions, points, rewards, next order and voucher code on a single page, which allows customers to increase their average order value by purchasing new products without going through the checkout process again. 

By giving subscribers a number of reasons to remain loyal, Your Super has increased its subscribers by 60% and has seen a 79% increase in repeat purchases being made by these customers.

Pacifica Beauty

Vegan and cruelty-free beauty brand Pacifica have put their core values and beliefs at the heart of their loyalty program. With 62% of consumers stating that their loyalty is motivated by the knowledge that rewards they redeem have a positive social impact on the causes they care about, it is key to communicate your brand values upfront to attract more members to your loyalty program. 

To demonstrate that responsible plastic use is their priority, Pacifica Beauty has visibly incorporated a recycling program into the customer experience. Customers can now send their used bottles back to Pacifica Beauty for them to be reused and given new life. To encourage customers to follow through with this, they include a prepaid shipping label and award customers 100 loyalty points each time they do this.

Customers want their money to go towards supporting something they believe in. In fact, 71% of 16-24-year-olds say that they feel strongly or very strongly about corporate social responsibility and 89% of shoppers would switch to a brand that is associated with a good cause, given similar quality and price. For that reason, it’s important to communicate your values and make clear what you’re doing to take positive steps in that field. 

Pacifica Beauty do this well, publicly sharing their core beliefs through emails to customers, outlining their principles around animal cruelty, their aspirations to reduce plastic waste and detailing exactly what steps they’ve been taking to make a positive contribution to the environment. 

Pacifica

Further, Pacifica Beauty’s loyalty page is incredibly easy-to-use and engaging. Their program, “Girl Code Points” blends seamlessly with the rest of their site. Using the same icons, fonts and colour schemes, they make sure their loyalty program is a key proponent of their store and an integral part of the customer experience. 

Pacifica’s loyalty program is prominently advertised across the customers’ entire online journey. When a shopper hovers over the cart icon, they can see their potential point balance for the items contained in their cart. When they click to view their cart in full, they are shown the total points value of their order alongside how many points they would still need to redeem before they can claim a free gift. This way, customers are incentivised to increase their basket size – with their research showing that their loyalty program members spend up to 22% more with them than non-members. 

Mirenesse

Beauty brand Mirenesse make their most-valued customers feel special by giving them early access to sales and products before anyone else. They also offer double point events for their loyalty members. 

Mirenesse

To create even more exclusivity, they have a paid member tier, known as the “Gold” tier, for their most loyal customers. 

In exchange for a $10 monthly membership, members of this VIP tier get a number of additional perks. These include receiving two points for every dollar spent, exclusive access to secret sales, a tester panel where they can register to trial new products, as well as the “Gold treatment” – which gives them the ability to jump the queue.

These premier benefits encourage customers to engage more by letting them become part of an exclusive club. Through this, Mirenesse has secured a collection of loyal customers who are totally committed to long-term spending cycles with the brand. This approach has proved itself – in just three months, Mirenesse has seen over $500,000 worth of purchases made through their loyalty program. 

Their redeeming members have a three times higher lifetime value and, because of this VIP treatment, more existing customers are referring their friends. It’s crucial to keep those friends and family members coming through the digital doors, as referred customers are four times more likely to buy when they have discovered a brand through someone they trust.

In Summary…

The health and wellness industry is huge and still growing fast. However, competition is fierce with new products and services being launched all the time. Because of this, its businesses must harness the power of loyalty to keep customers engaged and purchasing from them again and again. 

A number of health and wellness brands including Pacifica Beauty, Mirenesse and Your Super have expertly shown how this can be done, employing a variety of holistic loyalty and retention strategies. 

A few of their key strategies have been: 

  • Subscription services within their loyalty program 
  • Integrated loyalty pages using seamless fonts, colours and imagery that reflect the rest of the website 
  • Communicating key messages via email to build a firmer sense of community 
  • Paid membership tiers with exclusive perks that go above and beyond 
  • Easy one-click referral URLs for friends and family  

Access LoyaltyLion’s Health and wellness and Beauty and cosmetics ebooks to find out more.

About LoyaltyLion

This post was written by LoyaltyLion. LoyaltyLion is a data-driven loyalty and engagement platform that powers ecommerce growth. A loyalty program is about more than points and rewards. It is about unlocking real insights to increase customer lifetime value. With LoyaltyLion, you can build a better understanding of what drives longer-lasting customer relationships, and use those insights to connect and accelerate your existing marketing efforts. Proven to increase retention and spend, LoyaltyLion is trusted by thousands of fast-growth ecommerce merchants worldwide.

Most ecommerce teams feel like they’re fighting fires every day with new problems that need solving and new work needed on the site. It can be hard to balance the act of being proactive where you can, and reactive when it’s needed.

As much as you plan ahead and work closely with your agency to schedule in work, there are always going to be immediate and urgent tasks that need looking at by either your internal team or your ecommerce agency. These could relate to bug fixes, security issues, new legislation or even unexpected demand.

How can you plan for unexpected ecommerce development work?

Have clear priorities and targets

The best way to make sure you can balance your development schedule is to understand what your priorities are.

Once you know which tasks are high priority and which are low priority, you can know what can be pushed back and what absolutely needs to stay scheduled in.

This will make your life a lot easier when unexpected work comes in. You will know what other work can be rescheduled to make room for urgent fixes.

Plan your support retainers in advance

Another way to make sure you can plan for unexpected work is to plan your support retainers in advance with your agency.

Once you have all of your schedule-able upgrades, migrations and improvements planned in advance, you will have an idea of how much time you have left for any reactive work.

For more insight, here are our tips for how to plan support retainers in advance.

Reserve a % of your retainer for reactive work

You should work with your agency to reserve a percentage of your retainer for reactive work so that you can plan your proactive work around this time.

You want to work with your ecommerce agency to set this percentage as it will vary from retailer to retailer. An average amount is 30%.

If you don’t have any time leftover for reactive work, there will always be certain tasks that are forever on the back burner. By having a reserved amount of time for reactive, unexpected work, you can make sure that all of your tasks can be achieved.

Share your ecommerce plan with your agency

There are many retailers who don’t share their ecommerce plans with their agency. Whilst there may be good reasons for doing so, it certainly puts your agency on the back foot when trying to understand your priorities and key upcoming milestones.

If your agency is aware of your targets, products, milestones and marketing campaigns, they can best steer your ecommerce development schedule to fit what you need.

You may be unaware of certain ecommerce challenges that these upcoming plans will bring, but your ecommerce agency will be able to share insight into these challenges with you.

Have a clear testing strategy in place for all development work

If there is no testing strategy for development work, you will likely come across bugs and issues that need fixing regularly – which can quickly eat into your retainer.

Your ecommerce agency should have a testing plan in place for all tickets and work they do, but you may want to implement your own testing process too as a backup.

Your agency may only have a testing plan in place that focuses on technical bugs, whereas you may want to have your own process that looks over messaging issues or impact on marketing campaigns.

Having a testing strategy in place will make sure that you minimise bug fixes and therefore have more time leftover in your retainer for other reactive work.

Make sure you work with a proactive ecommerce agency

One of the biggest concerns that retailers have when working with an agency is wondering if the team will be proactive enough.

Many agencies don’t plan well in advance and don’t give proactive recommendations. At Fluid, we work closely with our clients to offer recommendations, insights and advice on how to best maximise success on their ecommerce sites. However, many others don’t offer this as part of their support retainer.

A proactive agency will put you in the best position when balancing proactive, predictable work and reactive, unexpected work.

A successful agency will be an additional member of your ecommerce in-house team, to advise and support. Take a look at these questions you should ask when looking for a Magento support agency (which also works for looking for a Shopify agency too).

It’s okay to be reactive

It’s okay to be reactive when it’s needed. There will always be things that cannot be planned in advance and have an element of reactivity.

Whether you work with an agency like ourselves, or you have an internal team, the most important thing is to plan, plan and plan!

Our Magento 2 support packages and Shopify support packages are flexible and tailored so you can choose the most appropriate level of support for your ecommerce needs, with monthly retailers and booster packages. If you want to find out more, get in touch.

There are ecommerce verticals seeing incredible growth during lockdown due to the impact of coronavirus. Gifting ecommerce is certainly one vertical experiencing high growth.

It is understandable why gifting ecommerce has become more popular at this time, with customers feeling the need to send more gifts to show support and gratitude to family and friends (as well as having some cross-over with Mother’s Day and Easter).

Some gifting retailers may be experiencing their first growth peak and others may have seen slow growth over the past few months for it now to skyrocket.

How can gifting ecommerce retailers maximise growth during this time of uncertainty. How can they survive and thrive?

#1 – Build a loyalty and referral scheme

If you provide a good experience for your customers (and those receiving the gifts), it can be easy to bring them back again and again and position yourself as a trustworthy gifting retailer.

However, you can encourage this further by building a loyalty and referral scheme that rewards your customers by making repeat purchases. This can be with points (that can be redeemed for discounts or free products), or with tiered rewards (that provide benefits such as free delivery after a certain value of spend has been reached).

You can partner with a loyalty scheme provider such as LoyaltyLion or Yotpo to make this seamless for your customers.

#2 – Personalise your online experience

Another fantastic way of making sure that your customers are having a positive customer experience online is by adding an element of personalisation.

If a customer has a trend of buying a certain type of product for their family or friends, then you can customise their next visit by promoting this product category again and speeding up the process. The quicker they can find the product they’re looking for, the more likely they are to make the purchase.

You may also want to personalise on a more top-of-the-funnel basis by providing a slightly different experience for new and returning customers. If a customer is visiting your site for the first time, you should be promoting more messages about your brand and your story. If a customer is returning, you may want to promote more reinforced messages such as free delivery or even give them a discount.

There are a number of personalisation platforms out there including Nosto, Segmentify, Bunting and Pure Clarity (who are also offering a three month trial for retailers who sign up before April 30th 2020).

#3 – Set up a welcome email series for your new customers

If you are seeing growth, there’s a good chance that you’ve seen a significant increase in new customers. What does your welcome experience look like for these new customers?

A quick win is to set up a welcome email series for customers who make a purchase and sign up to your newsletter. There are dozens of welcome email examples, but the idea is to send an initial email on sign-up, followed by another a few hours or days later if they haven’t purchased (or if they abandoned their cart), and then another in a few days perhaps with a discount (if they haven’t still purchased), etc.

Once these are set up, they will be automated to fire every time a customer signs up to your newsletter.

Here’s a handy guide from dotdigital with welcome email best practices.

#4 – Make sure to collect and encourage reviews

With an influx of new customers, you don’t want to miss out on their reviews and feedback.

Reviews can be highly valuable as the majority of online shoppers will read and evaluate reviews before making a purchase (especially if it’s a purchase for somebody else). With a significant increase in new customers, you have a golden opportunity to make sure to take advantage and collect reviews.

Whilst some shoppers will leave reviews anyway, you may want to send an email to your customers a week after purchase to encourage them to do so.

This is a particularly useful strategy as your online store will continue to benefit from reviews after this peak, and you can put your online store in a position to thrive for the months and years to follow.

#5 – Take advantage of automation

With any uplift in sales, comes new issues with workload – along with pressure on your logistics, operations, marketing, reporting and more.

You want to take advantage of as much automation as possible so that you can reduce the number of manual tasks your team needs to work through.

If you can automate customer segmentation, orders and inventory management, discounting and promotions (and more), you are in a position to scale and grow.

Most platforms have an element of automation, but Shopify is one of the key players here with their Flow and Launchpad tools.

#6 – Ramp up your paid search efforts

If you are seeing an increase in sales and interest, then there is natural demand for your product and brand. If this is the case, you may want to ramp up your paid search efforts to maximise the amount of traffic and sales you generate.

Customers are searching for gifts for loved ones and the first go-to is often Google (or Amazon).

There are many brands at the moment who are pausing paid search efforts (or scaling back), and so there are spaces in each vertical where you can win market share. Every brand will respond differently – some will increase activity if they recognise an opportunity, and some will pause activity entirely.

Paid search can be a dynamic way of increasing traffic and driving sales in times of opportunity.

Prepare for growth and scalability

For gifting retailers, there is an opportunity to survive and thrive. Consumers are looking for ways to support and show gratitude for others and gifts are a simple way to do so.

Prepare for growth and scalability by getting your loyalty, personalisation, email, reviews and paid search efforts in order. Support this with automation and you are in a good position to achieve ecommerce success.

Support for gifting retailers experiencing high growth is out there. Whether you need ecommerce support, or you need help with PPC strategy, we are happy to offer our expert insights. Get in touch and we can explore how we can help.

Ecommerce retailers have been heavily impacted by the current global COVID-19 pandemic (as most businesses have), but multichannel retailers are facing some specific challenges.

With the country in self-isolation and the majority of shops closing temporarily, multichannel retailers are now at a crossroads – do they stop trading for the time being or do they focus online?

Each retailer will approach this decision differently and it will depend on your staff, your product, your agency and many other factors. At the time of writing this guide, online retailers can still trade and the majority of warehouses and supply chains are still operational.

If you are a multichannel retailer who can continue trading and focus on online, how can you adapt, survive and thrive?

#1 – Get your online store in order

The first thing a multichannel retailer should do to adapt is to get your online store in order. For many multichannel retailers, an online store is secondary to your offline channels and so it is important that you invest initial time and energy into getting this in order.

Is your Magento store up to date with the latest version? Are your order confirmation emails updated? Is your site secure?

By getting your online order up to date and ready for trading, you will be in the best position to survive and thrive.

#2 – Accept in-store loyalty cards or discount cards online

If you are a multichannel retailer, you may have separate systems for loyalty and discounts. You may have in-store only loyalty or discount cards which cannot be used by your customers online.

During this time of uncertainty, you want to really focus on customer retention and looking after your existing customer base. If your most loyal customers can no longer purchase online using their existing loyalty or discount cards, then you are at risk of losing them.

Depending on how your schemes are set up (and how manual or automatic they are), this may be difficult. You can speak to loyalty experts such as LoyaltyLion to get an idea of how to integrate or migrate this online.

#3 – Explore personalisation for your online store

Loyal customers who visit your high street stores may become familiar to your team who can recommend products based on previous purchases, or who can recommend repeat purchases (depending on the product).

It can be hard to replicate an offline experience on your online store but personalisation is a good way to do this. By personalising experiences for your existing customers, you can improve conversion rate significantly and make the most of your online store without investing heavily in new customer acquisition.

There are a number of personalisation platforms out there including Nosto, Segmentify, Bunting and Pure Clarity (who are also offering a three month trial for retailers who sign up before April 30th 2020).

#4 – Prepare as many delivery and click and collect options as possible

Delivery and click and collect options have undoubtedly changed. Your customers need different delivery options than what they needed a few months ago.

This is the hardest change multichannel retailers will need to make, but perhaps one of the most important.

Do your customers now need next day delivery for purchases that they would normally have visited your store for? Do they need nominated delivery so they can choose the day that they need delivery for? Do they need ‘click and collect’ so that they can pick up their purchases at the same time as their supermarket shop? Some customers will be at home and won’t mind when they receive their delivery. However, ‘key workers’ with unpredictable shift patterns or volunteers who are supporting local causes will need more convenience.

The most important thing here to consider is to give your customers as much choice and convenience as possible. For more insight into how the delivery and ‘click and collect’ landscape has changed, watch our interview with HubBox here.

#5 – Drive online footfall with paid search

Once you have your online store maximised, you need to make sure you can drive online footfall. Whilst there are many ways to do this, paid search can be an effective strategy for driving conversion-ready traffic to your site.

At the moment, we are seeing decreased cost-per-click metrics, and so it may be a good opportunity to build and manage your paid search campaigns now in order to make sure your online store and your products are visible in search.

Survive and thrive

It is a challenging retail environment and there is a lot of uncertainty. However, retailers who are surviving and thriving are those who are listening to their customers and providing a strong customer experience.

Support for retailers is out there. Whether you need advice on Magento 1 end-of-life, or you need help with PPC strategy, we are happy to offer our expert insights. Get in touch and we can explore how we can help.

Contact us

Kickstart your project with us today. Let’s have a chat about how we can help you with your Magento or Shopify project, PPC campaigns or Amazon strategy.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.