Opportunities for Mid-Market Companies
For mid-market companies, there is no better time to get into e-Commerce.
The margin opportunity alone by selling direct to customers, not to mention building customer loyalty and repeat purchases, makes e-Commerce more attractive than ever.
Plus, the increasing buying power of Millenials who expect a seamless shopping experience across any device is a trend that doesn’t show any signs of slowing down based on data from the Federal Reserve.
Note: E-Commerce retail sales over past twenty years showing exponential growth. Source: Federal Reserve Economic Data.
Successfully scaling your e-Commerce business to match the above macro trend, even with massive competitors like Amazon in the ring, starts and ends with data. When you own your data and leverage it effectively, it’s possible to create stellar digital experiences and foster repeat business.
Scaling e-Commerce on NetSuite
We’ll cover a simple framework for getting started that spans:
Phase I: Unify
Getting all your data clean and in one place
Phase II: Simplify
Applying statistical models to simplify the hard analysis
Phase III: Amplify
Using artificial intelligence (AI) to amplify your e-Commerce efforts
Phase I: Unify Your Data
Goal: Getting all your data clean and in one place.
Why This Matters: Holes in your data prevent you from tapping the insights that can help you scale efficiently and lays the groundwork for artificial intelligence.
Unify Your Data
Data is everywhere these days and yet poorly organized and thus poorly understood. So what do we all do? Ironically, buy more tools to generate more data.
It makes sense why executives are eager to invest in software solutions. Capturing data is the promise many believe will allow them to stay competitive and run a successful e-Commerce company.
Interestingly enough, while leaders are readily willing to adopt new SaaS software, 70% of change management initiatives fail, resulting in underutilized software and actionable data left floating around in the cloud unrecognized.
It gets even worse when it comes to understanding all the juicy data surrounding your customers. In fact, only 11% of firms effectively use a wide variety of data types in a unified customer profile, according to research by Forrester.
One reason for high failure rates and underutilized data is software solutions that help you track products, customer information, and campaign data, which are plentiful, feature-rich, and convoluted, making it difficult for the average employee to leverage the full potential of the respective solution.
Data Storage and Junk Drawers
Most mid-market companies treat their data strategy and storage much like the junk drawer we all have in our homes. You have to paw through birthday candles, paper clips, and rubber bands in the junk drawer to find that pen.
Which means it takes technical skill and sophisticated strategy to analyze the information from all your various apps and data sources, glean the right insights, and use that information to create relevant marketing campaigns and product decisions in a timely manner.
In a fast moving digital global economy these delays mean lost sales and wasted budget.
Thankfully, it’s possible to overcome this problem and come out on top. Let’s talk about how.
Step 1: Sync and organize your data sources
The first step to getting the most out of your SaaS apps and business data is to organize your data across all marketing, customer, and product data platforms.
This means adopting a solution that syncs NetSuite’s data, third-party data platforms, and invaluable customer data into a single platform for automating and scaling insights.
The ability to have your most critical data sources in real-time provides you with:
- A unified source of truth. Rather than logging into several apps to access customer, inventory, and campaign data, you can look to a single platform that provides a focused and comprehensive data story all of which are live organisms interacting with each other daily.
- On-point e-Commerce customer lifecycle analysis. Tracking the user journey from the first Google search to the order confirmation email, and everything in between, allows you to measure and optimize every step of the customer journey. This provides you with the ability to act on customer data in real-time and deliver relevant campaigns in a cost effective way.
- Advanced segmentation capabilities. An amazing thing happens when you continually monitor customer, marketing, and inventory data as a whole. You glean insights into why and how your customers shop and what they buy (as individuals and as customer groups or cohorts). These learnings provide you with an incredible advantage over your competitors as you can quickly segment and grow your most profitable accounts by maximizing customer lifetime value.
- Automation. When your data is at your fingertips, you can use those insights to automate personalized, lifecycle-based marketing campaigns, and you can do it in real-time and across multiple channels like Search, Paid and Email channels. This is the dawn of machine learning (ML) and the time to start is now for scaling your revenue without adding massive headcount.
At Tadpull, we leverage our Built for NetSuite(™) app, the Tadpull Pond, to sync and organize all these datasets in real-time which frees our clients up from the hours and hours of “Excel jockeying” to find the signal in the noise.
Step 2: Begin owning your 1st party data
Data is an asset and if you doubt it, just look at the world’s most valuable companies: Google, Amazon, Facebook – all built on the foundation of incredibly rich datasets.
When it comes to owning data, every e-Commerce executive must face a hard truth. Industry giants like Amazon, Google, and Facebook hold a monopoly on 1:1 customer data. They have advanced personas, innovative AI, and robust machine learning capabilities that help them cater to the masses off this asset.
You should have access to this business asset too.
But, just because you don’t own massive amounts of data like Amazon and Google today, doesn’t mean you can’t begin to own your first-party data and use it strategically to serve your customer base.
Wait, what’s first-party data?
By first-party data, we mean all the interactions around your customer that allow you to identify, assist and reward them for their loyalty. Dimensions of this can include which marketing campaigns they came from, order history, Net Promoter Score and even customer support interactions.
When you own and understand your first-party data, you can:
- Create personalized campaigns that resonate with your target audience.
- Send messages to the right people and at the right time in the buyer’s journey on your site.
- Manage your product inventory efficiently based on customer preferences.
- Predict and take advantage of seasonality based on purchase history or geography.
- Build targeted online ad campaigns off statistical models for who your best customers are and acquire more that look like them.
This doesn’t require an engineer team like Facebook or Google but it does require a vision and some technical data tools to start building this invaluable dataset on your own website.
It is possible to own your data, understand your data, unify your data, and use it to your advantage every step of the way to go up against the Goliaths in the digital space.
Step 3: Scaling by consolidating and owning your data
We’ve talked about how unifying and owning your data benefits you when it comes to connecting with your customer base in relevant ways, but are there other benefits?
Unifying your data also helps with the following for scaling:
- Save on overhead costs. Think about how much time it takes you to log in separately to NetSuite, Google Analytics, Bronto and other critical data apps, download reports, aggregate the data, crunch the numbers, and then work to understand and visualize the data. Now think about how much time you could save by bringing all your critical data sources into one single location with key insights available on your phone.
- Simplify things internally. Not only does it save you and your team time to unify your data, but when you can view critical insights for e-Commerce in one platform, gone are the days of arguing over opinions on what should be done next. The data doesn’t lie.
- Act on real-time data. Another advantage of a unified and automated data platform is the ability to move on the data in real-time. For example, let’s say you capture a low Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey result upon checkout. Your team can immediately respond to customer feedback on a 1:1 basis and make things right. Similarly, if you notice digital campaign numbers starting to go off the rails due to stock-outs, you can make immediate adjustments to save budget while inventory comes back into line.
- Automate. A complete view of your customer across campaigns and purchase behavior lays the foundation for automation (which we’ll cover later). Unified data empowers business leaders with the ability to segment and interact with their best customers based on comprehensive data, not just bits and pieces. A full 360’ view yields the best results. Just ask Amazon.
Invest today in building an organized container for all the data that impacts your e-Commerce efforts and ensure you can use it in a timely manner.
A Case Study
One of Tadpull’s clients that built Facebook campaigns off the 1st party datasets in the Tadpull Pond spent $1,648 in ads and made $47,680 in 10 business days. A Return on Ad Spend of over 7000%.
Don’t believe it?
According to research by Forrester, firms that are effectively using a wide variety of data types are 2.5x more likely to increase customer lifetime value because of unified data management.
Phase II: Simplify Your Data
Goal: Use data science to simplify the insights across your datasets.
Why This Matters: The complexity to pull insights from your data today is crippling and time consuming. Applying statistical models to identify key insights from your data is a must for scaling your e-Commerce business.
Simplify Your Data Across 3 Pillars
So, now you have a plan for unifying your data in one place and hopefully see the huge potential that exists for saving overhead costs and acting on the insights in real-time across all the datasets.
Now comes the nerdy part – using statistics and predictive models to help simplify what needs to get done and when.
For e-Commerce professionals, simplifying data means identifying the relationships across three critical pillars: customer data, product data, and campaign data. Let’s review how each component helps you scale your e-Commerce business.
Pillar I: Customer Data
As we discussed, 1st party customer data is the core of your business. The more you can do to capture the right customer data on a 1:1 basis, the easier it will be to scale your business.
In fact, firms that improve their customer data practices produce better business results, including revenue growth, increased profitability, and higher customer lifetime values, according to research by Forrester.
Forrester lists the advantages of unified customer data in its report as follows:
- 71% say a unified customer profile is important or critical to personalization.
- Unified customer profiles deliver on marketing priorities, including improving personalization, content marketing, and focusing on customer-focused business priorities.
- Customer engagement data helps organizations achieve superior customer experience.
- 75% say the ability to improve the experience of their customers is a critical or important objective when it comes to the use of customer engagement data.
- By tapping into current customer software data solutions, leveraging third-party solutions, and unifying all your customer data, you can improve the use of data analytics and create on-target customer profiles.
Pillar II: Product data
Customer data isn’t the only critical piece of mastering the e-Commerce data puzzle. Effective e-Commerce means digging in on the operations side of the business. Hidden within your NetSuite’s ERP data are gold nuggets around how your inventory is performing for turns and Gross Margin Return on Investment (GMROI).
Advantages of looking at this operation dataset include:
- Understand high performing products as well as supply and demand.
- Make real-time adjustments to deliver the right products, to the right audiences, at the right time.
- Fine-tuning paid ad campaigns against margin data.
- Pairing campaigns with deep in-stock items.
- Driving promotions off high margins items or quick turns for generating cashflow.
Without the help of a tool like NetSuite, product data is unstructured, disorganized, and scattered. Bringing all relevant product data from NetSuite, and other data sources, into one software solution provides real-time visibility and actionable insights that guide product creation, distribution, inventory, and sales.
Pillar III: Campaign Data
64% of marketing executives say that data-driven marketing is critical in today’s economy.
And research from Attomdata indicates that companies with data-driven marketing are six times more likely to be profitable year-over-year, and 75% of companies see increased engagement when they use data-driven marketing.
Moving to a data-driven campaign approach presents the following benefits:
- Better visibility into what moves for products and on which platforms.
- Predictability for cashflow based on seasonality.
- Balancing short-term goals with long-term customer acquisition and retention.
- Increasing credibility with investors and leadership, showing metrics and value creation.
- Understanding the entire customer journey across SEO, paid, email and social media.
While it’s clear data-driven marketing is a surefire way to connect with customers and drive meaningful campaigns, surprisingly, data is still underutilized by marketing directors. In fact, 87% of marketers say data is their company’s most under-utilized asset.
81% of marketers, according to an Ascend2 and Campaign Monitor study, report that implementing data-driven marketing strategies is somewhat to extremely complicated.
You may relate to these marketers. But, here’s the catch.
Gleaning insights from data to make smart business decisions doesn’t need to include every possible campaign data metric or be overly complicated like Google Analytics.
There is software on the market, like the Pond from Tadpull, that uses smart algorithms to simplify data. These algorithms focus on bringing only the right type of campaign data into one centralized location.
When you focus on only the data you need to understand what is, and what isn’t, working with your campaigns, it’s easy to make smart, data-driven marketing decisions. Meanwhile, you never come in contact with the plethora of other distracting campaign metrics.
In regards to campaign data, sometimes less is more.
When you focus on only the data you need to understand what is, and what isn’t, working with your campaigns, it’s easy to make smart, data-driven marketing decisions.
Leverage Your Data
Mid-market companies today have to track and react to a ridiculous amount of data. Our mission is to bring all this info into one place for easy analysis and surface just-in-time insights to increase efficiencies and profit.
Take a look into how Tadpull is unifying and simplifying data to amplify our client’s eCommerce businesses.
Phase III: Amplify Your Business
Goal: Grow profit through automations.
Why This Matters: Cranking up growth without expenses eating your profit is possible by surfacing and amplifying opportunities across your customer base.
Amplify Your Business Off Your Data
Let’s say you’ve unified your customer, inventory and campaign data by bringing it all into one smart platform. You’ve also simplified your data by focusing only on the three pillars of e-Commerce data to identify patterns for growing revenue and increasing customer lifetime value while moving inventory more efficiently.
So, what’s next?
Now is when you use that data to your advantage to automate your growth, strengthen your brand, provide personalized customer experiences, reduce capital risk for inventory and dream up spot-on marketing experiences that resonate with your target audience.
But amplifying your efforts is a journey across two initiatives.
1. Automate using Artificial Intelligence (AI)
The best news about scaling your e-Commerce business is it’s not all up to you and your team of marketers to make sense of the data and apply it in real-time. This is especially powerful for mid-market businesses on NetSuite who often have to do more with less as they compete with Big Box distributors.
But as your data sources begin to grow, AI will continually learn from your data points and begin to automate your data story. You get better insights and better automations.
So, just like our 401K, data compounds in value over time. The better (and cleaner) the data is across the three pillars, the more you are setup to harvest from your investment with AI.
As AI goes to work for you, you’ll have a complete understanding of customer preferences, behaviors, and attitudes along with which inventory moves quickly and through what digital marketing campaigns.
2. Always look at the complete data story
Remember, data should never be scattered or siloed. Every piece of customer, product, and campaign data have to work together to tell a complete data story and provide the crude oil for the robots to perform their magic. Without one pillar, the structure crumbles.
When you look at all your data pieces as a whole, you understand who your customers are, what they want, what products they like, and what they are demanding from your brand.
For example, monitoring product data like top-selling products, high margin items, and fast movers next to your best customers can inform you on which products will resonate with your audience in a new email marketing campaign.
The process is cyclical, and every data set contributes to business decisions as a whole – and compounding in value along the way.
Executing on your data matters. It helps you make better inventory choices, customer profiles, product decisions, marketing campaigns, and more.
You want the power of AI to help you identify the right customer, with the right product, at the right time.
A Case Study
To use a real-world example, Jackson Hole adopted Tadpull. Through research, they were able to determine that the needs of new visitors and returning visitors were drastically different, and create accurate customer profiles.
Then, they used these customer profiles to create dynamic experiences for each user persona. Furthermore, Jackson Hole continues to leverage user insight to develop and execute SEM campaigns that help their target audience.
The results? Jackson Hole saw a 21% increase in lift ticket revenue and a 9% increase in conversion rates.
It’s true that Amazon currently dominates e-Commerce, but does that mean there is no place for mid-market e-Commerce companies like yours? Does it mean you’ll be edged out by “Big Brother” with no room for growth?
Let’s turn to a young Steve Jobs for an answer to that question. Remember back in 1894 when Steve Jobs introduced the revolutionary “1984” video at the Mac launch?
If not, here’s a quick run-down of what Steve Jobs said:
“It is now 1984. It appears IBM wants it all. Apple is perceived to be the only hope to offer IBM a run for its money. Dealers initially welcoming IBM with open arms, now fear an IBM-dominated and controlled future. They are increasingly and desperately turning back to Apple as the only force that can ensure their future freedom. IBM wants it all and is aiming its guns on its last obstacle to industry control: Apple. Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry? Was George Orwell right about 1984?”
While the example is silly, the sentiment behind the example is important. No matter how much dominance one company has in an industry, there is always room for movers and shakers. Interestingly, Apple is now the most valuable public company in the world.
Even if your e-Commerce company doesn’t become the next Apple, or beat out Amazon, the market still needs you. People are begging for consumer-brand connection, more value-based e-Commerce companies, and personalized shopping experiences. Gen Z is even willing to provide their data for more personalized experiences.
As you work to become more data-driven by unifying your data, simplifying your data, and amplifying your data, you’ll be well equipped to give your customers more of exactly what they want.
Are You Ready To Scale Your e-Commerce Business?
To get started with the Unify phase of the e-Commerce framework, and to build a roadmap for how to Simplify and Amplify your data, sign up for a discovery audit.