E-commerce investment pays off for Walmart

Following a summer of acquisitions and growth from Amazon, a larger narrative began to form for legacy retailers. They were viewed as stagnate and doomed to fall to the growing e-commerce market. However, shifts in business strategy coupled with a newfound omni-channel blend has lead to encouraging results for big-box retailers. Walmart has been one of the major companies leading the charge into this new, e-commerce-fueled era.

Walmart, who recently re-adjusted their e-commerce strategy, showed their ability to aggressively compete with Amazon. Recent earnings and growth have left many market analysts feeling as if they underestimated the legacy retailer’s ability to build a presence on the e-commerce market.

As part of their new strategy, Walmart went on an acquisition spree similar to Amazon’s. To start, Walmart purchased Jet.com, an American e-commerce company, for $3 billion in August of last year. According to a press release on Walmart’s official website, the acquisition was intended to build upon Walmart’s existing e-commerce foundation and expand upon their efforts to integrate their online and in-store shopping experience. Walmart bought other “e-commerce-friendly” companies such as ModCloth, Shoebuy and Bonobos.

“Walmart.com will grow faster, the seamless shopping experience we’re pursuing will happen quicker, and we’ll enable the Jet brand to be even more successful in a shorter period of time. Our customers will win. It’s another jolt of entrepreneurial spirit being injected into Walmart.” – Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

The aggressive acquisitions have paid off for the legacy retailer, as Walmart recently reported online sales were up 50 percent for Q3. Following such growth, Walmart has looked to continue to expand their e-commerce efforts. The company has been experimenting with new ways to integrate Walmart.com with their physical stores.

Walmart now offers lower in-store prices for food and household items, according to the Wall Street Journal. For instance, a 32-ounce bottle of Heinz ketchup which is $3.38 online costs $2.83 in-store. Additionally, Walmart now offers free two-day shipping on orders over $35 and self-service “Pickup Towers” for customers picking up online orders in-store.

Heinz Ketchup

 

Walmart and other large legacy retailers are now pursuing omni-channel routes to combine their offline and online sales efforts. However, these methods and strategies aren’t exclusive to large conglomerates. Dirxion online catalogs give both retail and B2B companies a tool to create an omni channel approach for their businesses and aids any e-commerce operation. Both versatile and optimized with HTML5, Dirxion online catalogs ensure cross-platform and multi-browser performance standards are met.
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Consumers, aided by e-commerce, began their holiday shopping earlier than ever

For some Americans, the holiday shopping season begins on Black Friday. But for many others, e-commerce and pre-Black Friday online deals have continued to push holiday shopping earlier and earlier in November. Earlier in November, Adobe predicted holiday shoppers would spend $107 billion during the holiday season (officially Nov. 1-Dec. 31). At this point in time, U.S. shoppers are on pace to spend $109 billion.

Holiday Shopping

 

E-commerce holiday shopping on Black Friday could even generate more sales than Cyber Monday, the traditional day most businesses and consumers allocated for online deals. Last year, Black Friday generated $3.34 billion in online sales which was just below the $3.45 billion generated by Cyber Monday sales. However, from a growth standpoint, Black Friday online sales have increased at a much faster rate than Cyber Monday. According to more data collected by Adobe, Black Friday online sales have grown by 21 percent whereas Cyber Monday online sales have grown by 12 percent year over year.

“Holiday online shopping continues to trend earlier and earlier each year, with this year eclipsing last year by about a week” – Bob Buffone, Founder & Chief Technology Officer at Yottaa

Consumers and Mobile

Mobile devices continue to play a role in the e-commerce market well into the holiday season. Projections from Salesforce indicate smartphone traffic will generate 60 percent of online traffic to retail sites during the holiday season.Additionally, conversion rates for mobile devices are expected to rise during the holiday season. Mobile devices will account for $1 of every $4 made from e-commerce sales, according to comScore. The majority of purchases made on mobile devices are expected to be smaller, less-expensive items whereas larger purchases will be made on desktop or larger electronic devices, as predicted by Kevin Bobowski, senior vice president of BrightEdge.

Dirxion online catalogs offer businesses the ability to tap into shopping trends and habits during both the holiday season and throughout the year. Dirxion online catalogs also serve as a complementary product to any e-commerce operation. Both versatile and optimized with HTML5, Dirxion online catalogs ensure cross-platform and multi-browser performance standards are met.

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E-commerce takes hold in economies with underdeveloped retail markets

Consumers have reaped the benefits of the rise of e-commerce by capitalizing on its emphasis on speed, convenience and accessibility of information. Despite that growth, retail and physical store locations remain dominant due to their legacy status and long-term prominence in the economy. However, in regions where retail locations have yet to take hold, the effects and benefits of e-commerce reach a greater magnitude. The accessibility and reach of modern e-commerce systems make these regions accessible to businesses of all sizes, not just the largest players in the market.

India has become one of the most sought-after markets to capitalize on, with some of the largest international e-commerce businesses competing for market share. As one of the fastest growing e-commerce markets in the world, India has seen an influx of e-commerce activity as Internet access and smartphone ownership grow in recent years. According to Statista, as early as 2015, only 26 percent of the Indian population had access to the Internet; however, that’s 10 times larger than it was nearly a decade ago. That trend is expected to continue, as Forrester predicts India’s compound annual growth rate will be over 30 percent until 2021.


Retail eCommerce Sales

 

E-commerce businesses have also begun to take stake in adjusting the retail experience to integrate online and offline logistics and data along a single chain. Chinese B2B e-commerce business Alibaba, who accounts for a tenth of all Chinese retail sales and 75 percent of online sales, has begun investing in unused retail space in Shanghai and has taken stake in other retail companies to provide big data capabilities to legacy retailers.

In many isolated incidences, smaller economies can outgrow larger economies in e-commerce. Chinese cities are categorized into tiers one to four, based on GDP, government structure and population data. E-commerce penetration for Tier 1 and 2 cities amounts to 89 percent as compared to Tier 3 and 4 cities, which is 62 percent. E-commerce businesses have been expanding their logistical and infrastructure capabilities in order to expand to these more rural markets.

“The online shopper base in Tier 3 and 4 cities is 257 million, a population number that is larger than that of almost all countries in the world (except India, China as a whole, and the United States). That is serious market potential.” — Sara Hsu, Forbes, 2016

Dirxion online catalogs give B2B businesses an opportunity to tap into the developing global e-commerce market. Businesses that fail to include and accommodate for an international market essentially choose to leave sales on the table. Dirxion online catalogs can support a variety of languages. For example, Dirxion customer Kennametal has a language toggle feature on their online catalogs to support languages such as French and Japanese. By eliminating shipping and printing costs, Dirxion online catalogs helps businesses to expand their content marketing into new markets previously unreachable, even in international markets.

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Adobe Flash officially terminated, Adobe encourages move toward HTML5

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Adobe announced recently that it has officially initiated plans to end-of-life Adobe Flash, which means they will no longer update or distribute the Flash Player by 2020. Included in the brief, Adobe made mention to other open source languages, such as HTML5, and encouraged developers and content creators to migrate over to these industry standards. Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla all made announcements following the release of the news, who outlined how the Flash withdrawal would operate on their platforms and offered developers resources to ease the transition into other open source languages.

B2B sales teams and e-commerce work in tandem, increases productivity

The Internet has created a new dynamic and structure for B2B businesses in which marketing teams, sales teams and e-commerce tools converge to maximize revenue. Some industry studies have painted a bleak future for sales teams, one in which they’ll be phased out entirely and replaced with automated e-commerce stores. The assumption is often backed up with data indicating a shifting consumer preference towards e-commerce. Even though Internet accessibility and overall technological adaption rates are increasing globally, e-commerce and traditional sales roles have integrated together. New studies and industry reports have now suggested B2B businesses can reinforce their existing channels while simultaneously integrating new technology such as e-commerce.

In a Forrester Research study of B2B businesses, 89 percent of businesses surveyed indicated that implementing e-commerce increased their annual revenue. The modern business world is dominated by efficiency: who can attract the most customers, who can capture new markets the fastest and who can get the highest return on their investments. E-commerce websites have allowed sales teams to become more efficient, especially within the B2B market. Sales team members save time and become more productive when an e-commerce website is available for customers to fill out their own orders through a spreadsheet ordering format.

Proface America Online Catalog

Allowing e-commerce software to take some of the tasks that were previously completed manually by sales teams and digitize them increases productivity. Founder of B2X Partners Justin King analyzed B2B sales from Forst & Sullivan, which are expected to reach $12 trillion by 2020. “If a sales team is looking at e-commerce as a threat or as a hit to their personal income, they won’t get behind an effort like this,” says King. “Bringing them into the fold early and incorporating them into your e-commerce team early is important.”

“In most cases, a few sales reps will naturally latch onto the idea. Bringing them into the fold early and incorporating them into your e-commerce team early is important.” — Justin King, 2017

E-commerce can be used as a tool for B2B sales teams. E-commerce websites can take large amounts of data and condense them into a portable fashion, essentially allowing your sales representatives to access your entire inventory from anywhere. Dirxion online catalogs serve as both a reference tool to sales representatives and a familiar, fully-integrated e-commerce experience for customers. For instance, Dirxion customer Proface America uses spreadsheet ordering functions in their online catalogs, which allows customers to independently place orders, freeing sales representatives from having to complete the process manually. Dirxion online catalogs can also be easily updated, thanks to in-house production and development teams, ensuring all sales representatives, no matter where they are, has access to fully-updated product lines and prices. In doing so, Dirxion customers mitigate production, printing and distribution costs previously associated with constructing print catalogs.

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Alfred Angelo closes, David’s Bridal offers impacted brides some help

How IAB guideline changes really marked the end of Adobe Flash

Quickly — think of an industry that is still rooted in Adobe’s Flash technology?

Yes, a technology that has been on a downslide since the advent of smartphones; a technology that is nearing further disability from major browsers for its security vulnerabilities; and a technology that now exists in pseudonym (see “Adobe Animate”) because its creator so desperately wants to move on.There are a few answers that come to mind, like computer gaming and video streaming, both of which are realizing the need to wriggle out of Flash’s development grips and find their way toward a more-reliable future. After all, Chrome and Firefox unexpectedly blocked Flash technology a little less than a year ago today. The block, though temporary, sent a grim message across the web to Flash developers: move on or risk having nothing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The industry that Dirxion is concerned with, of course, is digital publishing. This industry is stubborn and resilient in its use of Flash, even though Adobe wants more to be recognized for its own transition to HTML5. Still today, nearly 10 years since the release of Apple’s first iPhone, most digital publishing kits are brought to you by Flash.

Actually, let me paraphrase the question — what industries sell online advertising for their websites?

It’s not a trick question. Too many to even count.

Each of these industries has been touched by Adobe Flash. Let that passive voice sink in for a moment. Anyone who has posted online advertising in the past five years has likely been relying heavily on Flash. It is that pervasive.

But now, nearly a year has passed since the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) laid out an overhaul to its display creative guidelines that make HTML5 the new standard in interactive marketing. The efforts further encourage agencies to move away from Adobe’s Flash, which for years has been the unofficial standard. It was a hugely-important-but-unsurprising move by IAB. It really marked the end of Adobe Flash, and here’s why.

Google is no longer accepting Flash-based ads on Jan. 2, 2017. Go ahead and put that on your calendar as the execution date for Flash. In the U.S., Chrome is leading the web browser marketshare and trending further upward. It would come as no surprise if the other major browsers followed suit. There is little doubt that IAB’s guidelines precipitated such a plan.

Google said the move will “enhance the browsing experience for more people on more devices.” It will also force a bevy of online advertisers to shape up before next year. Changes will come even sooner, with June 30, 2016, being a prominent date on which ads built in Flash can no longer be uploaded into AdWords and DoubleClick Digital Marketing. If things aren’t clear enough, Google deliberately points out that “it’s important to update your display ads to HTML5 before these dates.”

Some loyalty to Flash is easy to understand: since its invention, Flash has been the lifeblood to industries like digital publishing. Dirxion, along with everybody else providing such services, was at one point deeply entrenched in Flash.

But IAB, Google and a whole wide world of HTML5 developers wants to show us that Adobe Flash is the past, HTML5 is the future and too many of us are stuck in a messy in-between. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem like there is an option, and it is mobile-or-bust in a smartphone-entranced society. HTML5 will eventually prevail.

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MSC Industrial showcases online catalog with tab pull-out

MSC Industrial is one of the largest distributors of metalworking, repair and operations (MRO) products and services for manufacturers worldwide. They take pride in having over 1 million product offerings, many of which are itemized in their annual Big Book, a master catalog that is over 4,000 pages.

One of MSC’s primary goals is strong customer service, hoping to ensure supply purchases are fast and easy. That poses a challenge for the online version of the Big Book, a challenge that Dirxion helps MSC overcome every year.

msc website

In order to create a fast online catalog experience, Dirxion uses custom processes to provide an optimal experience. Because of the scope of this project — a few thousand pages, hundreds of thousands of product links — our production engineers fine tune page outputs and set up a unique linking algorithm to connect the Big Book to MSC’s e-commerce pages.

Every time someone visits the MSC site, the online catalog is available through a tab on the left-hand side that opens an embedded version of the Big Book. Once opened, pages click through effortlessly with minimal loading time through unique compression settings. Thousands of pages, hundreds of thousands of links, all loading for MSC’s customers near-instantaneously.

From here, you can search for specific items, add to cart and check out. If you need to come back to a page, simply bookmark the page. There’s a variety of features available in the MSC online catalog, and no features were compromised in creating this custom display.

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Online and print catalogs combine to boost online sales

The print catalog market has been slowly recovering following its decline during the recession. As reported in The New York Times, the number of catalogs mailed in 2013 increased to 11.9 billion, 60 percent of what it was in 2007. Many businesses are discovering increasing care in print catalogs has resulted in a boost in online sales. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company Bonobos discovered 20 percent of their new customers place orders after receiving a catalog. Customers who received the catalog also spent 1.5 times longer shopping as opposed to customers who didn’t.

Catalog Comeback

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The science behind print catalogs better explains their effectiveness as a marketing tool. As reported by Elizabeth Holmes of The Wall Street Journal, print catalogs deliver a complete brand message. As opposed to catalogs in previous years, which were full of all the products a company offers, modern catalogs aim for more of an on-branded, visually inspirational experience. Patagonia catalogs, for instance, have opted to focus on long-form marketing materials and commissioned essays. Some of their catalogs are themed and have hardly any products featured.

Targeting and versioning, the industry term for making different versions of a catalog for specific customer segments, have become easier thanks to massive amounts of data collected by e-commerce websites. According to the Harvard Business Review, companies can look at frequent visitor data and cross-reference industry databases containing information of millions of households. In doing so, they can send smaller sized catalogs to customers who are more active on the website as a method of multi-channel marketing, inspiring customer loyalty.

The developments and advancements of the print catalog industry have translated to the online catalog market. Dirxion customer Restoration Hardware’s Chairman and CEO Gary Friedman is quoted in the Harvard Business Review saying, “We believe that what we are doing is moving beyond an intellectual connection to an emotional one. We are beginning to express those things we deeply believe in a way you can see it.” Product markets have become more alike and the Internet allows customers to access those products at a faster rate. It’s increasingly more important for a brand to differentiate itself in as many ways as it can. Dirxion online catalogs provide businesses with another avenue in their multi-channel marketing strategy that can meld the visually compelling aspects of a print catalog with the interactive and highly-mobile elements of online content.

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MSC Industrial increases customer support to match growing e-commerce

As reported by Digital Commerce 360, MSC Industrial attended the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition June 6-9. Senior Director of E-Commerce Mike Roth discussed the company’s balance between investing in the digital shopping experience while still retaining a personal customer service experience. The article points out MSC’s high ranking (72/300) on the 2017 B2B e-commerce 300, a list of high-profile B2B companies that represent 72 percent of B2B e-commerce sales in the U.S.

Steve Baruch, senior vice president, chief strategy and marketing officer, also spoke at the presentation. He highlighted the positive relationship between digital and customer experience and how when digital presence rises customer support has to follow. He and Roth then go on to describe the three ways a B2B business can successfully combine e-commerce and customer service.

MSC Online Catalog

 

1. Know your audience. According to the article, MSC has applied a variety of digitally-driven marketing research to supply their sales teams with information valuable in making personal connections with their customers. By examining certain customer habits, MSC gained valuable information about their customer’s buying behaviors. Such data opens news doors for MSC’s sales team.

2. Listen and respond. By gathering and evaluating customer feedback from a multitude of avenues, MSC has been able to evolve their customer interaction methods. For instance, after analyzing feedback data, the company realized customers wanted their shipping data in real time and changed their website to include shipment tracking. The company adjusted to the changing needs of their customers.

3. Build loyalty by winning your customer’s trust. MSC knows the preferred communication and ordering methods of a business can vary. Baruch mentioned, for instance, that some small customers prefer to work through the website for communication, order management and inventory control but prefer to speak to a dedicated customer care team for real help. MSC also pushes to promote their customer care phone number as a way of balancing online presence and personal care.

 

Dirxion provides MSC with new ways to meet the growing e-commerce needs of their customers through Dirxion’s online catalogs. MSC’s Big Book is embedded within their website and can be accessed from anywhere without having to leave the site. This allows customers to work within their preferred methods of ordering. Other Dirxion features, such as Google Analytics support, allows MSC to know what products their customers are interested in and interact with the most. Dirxion’s customization capabilities keeps the catalog on-brand, an aspect of building brand loyalty and earning customer trust.

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