Black Friday and Cyber Monday are right around the corner, so it’s time for manufacturers to do a prep-double check. Most manufacturers are thinking "my job is done, it's all up to retail and my partners". Think again. Today original manufacturers can make a major impact on holiday sales - regardless of whether you sell direct or not.
It’s not too late! There are still a few key things you can do to help boost holiday sales.
1. Make sure your main website is ready for prime time
A recent study found that 65% of shoppers visit a manufacturer's direct website to research a product prior to purchase. Your website needs to present your products in a clear, salable, format—whether you take sales or not.
This starts with polishing your product details. A full 70% of manufacturer sites we’ve studied have missing or inaccurate product information on the main site. This includes everything from inaccurate specs to missing images and even missing products. The time is NOW to do an audit and get to work cleaning up and completing critical product details.
While you’re at it, take a peek at your “Where to Buy” page. If it’s inaccurate and out-of-date (or absent), shoppers will go scurrying right back to Google, where they’ll be bombarded by search results featuring the competition.
2. Audit your online product pricing
The days of the "fake" MSRP/list price are over. Yeoman has found that sites with bloated “list prices” had 25-30% lower quality visitors than sites that posted more accurate “street prices.” Shoppers were 5X more likely to leave the "list price" site without looking at "Where to Buy" OR adding anything to their cart. You can keep the list price for comparison, but Yeoman highly recommends showing a sale price that is 5-10% above the average street price. This provides three major benefits:
- Gives shoppers an accurate price that won’t scare them back to Google.
- Supports your channel with a price that is slightly higher than theirs, giving them the extra edge—especially if you integrate “Where to Buy” right on your product detail page.
- Lets YOU take the order. Yes, a growing percentage of consumers want to buy direct regardless of the product. Up to 5% of B2C customers and 5-15% of B2B customers are looking to buy direct.
3. Audit your Amazon—and other ecommerce channels—presence
Now that you’ve got your own house in order, it’s time to tackle your ecommerce channels—especially Amazon. It’s critical to check your product details and images to make sure that they accurately represent your products. You also need to make sure you have your brands registered and the proper plan in place to provide updated and accurate information to Amazon.
Next, check the reviews for your products and manage any negative reviews to keep them from sandbagging sales. Key suggestions:
- Address the reviewer’s complaint and acknowledge the issue
- Offer a resolution or refund if needed
- Do not engage in a back and forth in the review system, have the user contact you directly (and say that in the review)
- Ask the etailer to remove any reviews that do not comply with their review guidelines
Before you move onto the next item on the list, take a moment to protect your brand from piracy. Unfortunately, as Amazon and other etailers have grown, so has the number of fake products being sold—sometimes piggy-backed onto your own listing. If you detect a pirate, you can report them to Amazon; be sure to check all your etail platforms for their policies and procedures.
4. Use paid channel support programs
At Yeoman, we’re always on the lookout for new services that help manufacturers increase online sales. Some of our favorites from this year include:
- Google affiliate location extensions: original manufacturers that sell their goods in retail chains can now begin promoting those locations to nearby consumers within their own AdWords ads (https://goo.gl/tFq3ff).
- Bazaarvoice: syndicates customer ratings, reviews, questions, and stories across the web to reach shoppers wherever they are (www.bazaarvoice.com).
- Hooklogic: gives manufacturers a clear view into channel sales resulting from online ads (hooklogic.com).
5. Polish up your social media presence
Just like any other time of the year, social media campaigns need to be carefully planned and executed to align with the rest of your marketing efforts. If you haven’t started thinking about social media for the holidays yet, it’s not too late—but it will be soon. In addition to planned social media campaigns, it’s also important to have a “live” presence on social media, to interact naturally with followers, and for the inevitable customer service requests that come in through these channels.
Relax and enjoy the holidays!
These 5 steps are the perfect action items for the lull that most manufacturers see right before the holidays. And the benefits extend well beyond Christmas, to help you have more integrated online plan in 2017.
If you’re overwhelmed by where to start, feel free to give us a call to help you get a handle on it.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, so most manufacturers have 'checked out' on the holiday season. If you walk around a manufacturer's or publisher's office this time of year, you wouldn't think it's the busiest time of the year. Most organizations are focused on 2016 budgets, new product plans, and 2016 forecasts, with the occasional glance at the POS reports.
To quote one manufacturer: "all of our heavy activity is leading up to the holidays; our partners take it from there. We don't sell direct." That may have been true in years, past, but original manufacturers have a major impact on holiday sales - regardless of whether or not you sell direct.
A recent study of 5,000 shoppers found that 65% of have visited a manufacturer's website as part of researching a product over the last year. Not presenting your products in a clear, salable, format is just a mistake. Key things you can do this week to help sales include:
1. Polish the product details on your site: Yeoman found that 70% of manufacturer sites we studied had missing or inaccurate product information on the main site. This included everything from inaccurate specs to missing products. The #1 reason for this screw-up? The main website was not part of any new product release plans and was often overlooked when rolling out new products.
2. Make sure the “Where to Buy” page is accurate: These often get created when the website first goes live, then are left to gather dust. An inaccurate, out-of-date (or absent) “where to buy” page can send your potential customers right back to Google, where they’ll be bombarded by search results featuring the competition.
3. Find out the real "street price" for your products: The days of the "fake" MSRP/List Price are over. Online users expect to see an accurate price for any product when they look online. Don't believe us? We studied sites that had high "list prices" versus sites that had accurate 'street prices.' The 'fake' list price sites had 25-30% lower quality visitors than the street price sites regardless of brand or volume. Users were 5X more likely to exit the "list price" site without looking at "where to buy" OR adding anything to their cart.
You can keep the MSRP/List price for comparison, but Yeoman highly recommends showing a sale price that is 5-10% above the average online price. This provides three major benefits:
- Immediately shows the user an accurate price they'd pay without having to go back to Google
- Supports your channel by having a price that is slightly higher than theirs, giving them the extra edge (works great if you integrate where to buy right on your product detail page)
- Let's you take the order! Yes - every manufacturer should be willing to take a direct order (B2C or B2B). A growing percentage of consumers expect this and want to buy direct regardless of the product. The actual percentage will vary by industry, but you can estimate that 1-5% of B2C customers and 5-15% of B2B customers are looking to buy direct.
4. Audit your Amazon presence: The online giant will likely surpass 1.2 billion visitors this quarter. That volume is higher than the top 5 competitors combined. It doesn't matter if you love or hate Amazon, every manufacturer needs to manage them. It is your responsibility to check your product details, reviews, and images to make sure that they accurately represent your products. Don’t think it’s an issues for you? A recent Yeoman audit found 70% of items had incorrect data! Your retailers or sales team won't fix this for you. A manufacturer needs to make sure they have their brands registered and the proper plan in place to provide updated and accurate information to Amazon.
These 4 steps are the perfect action items for the lull that most manufacturers see at the holiday. The benefits extend well beyond Christmas and will help you have more integrated online plan in 2016.
If you’re overwhelmed by where to start, feel free to give us a call to help you get a handle on it.
Just Do It - living your motto. Can a manufacturer sell direct and not kill their channel? It's a question every manufacturer or publisher asks in every industry You've heard all the objections:
It will cause too much conflict with our existing channel
We can't fulfill small orders
We won't be able to generate any sales
It will cost too much
Nike had the same questions too, but dug in and took their own logo to heart. They started a 'direct model' a few years ago; combining online and a retail presence to engage customers directly. Stores are hard; but online clothing is one of the toughest ecommerce transactions to support; size, color, and fit all require great data or you'll be swamped with massive returns.
How have they done? How does a 50% increase in online sales sound? And that's not 50% of 10 million. E-commerce sales surpassed the $1 billion mark last fiscal year. In fact, their entire direct-to-consumer sales topped $6 billion this year—a full 20% of the company’s total revenues.
So how did this nearly 50-year-old apparel manufacturer ace the transition to ecommerce to become an online sales champion? They did it by focusing on the entire customer experience across online and offline. This includes:
- Continuing to develop and nurture some of the best channel relationships in the business. YES Nike worked to expand their footprint with their retail partners providing them consistent pricing, top quality digital content, and support for their online efforts.
- Investing continuously in digital programs including app, ecommerce, and digital campaigns.
- Using data to drive decisions. Not all of their digital initiatives worked, but Nike tracks and monitors all of them, revising, tweaking, or killing as needed.
- Focusing on their 'real' competitors. Nike competes with Adidas & Rebook, not Foot Locker or Wal-Mart. Elevating the competitive focus to target other manufacturers got them out of the natural channel conflict that can occur. Don't get us wrong; conflicts still happen. But the primary focus is on being better than competitors both direct and through retail partners.
The lesson for manufacturers - You can “Just Do It,” too
This isn't about marketing, it's about sales and channel management. Any manufacturer can take a few tips from Nike’s playbook:
- Understand that a strong digital presence is required to support the overall channel, and make it a priority
- Ensure you have strong data quality and accurate pricing to flow downstream to support your channel partners
- Sell direct when possible: the net $ to your company for direct sales is 3-4x a channel sale
- Make the needed investments in technology, logistics, and people to support this
But just like going “from couch to 5K” this isn’t going to happen overnight and without some hard work. Investment in technology and logistics is key along with some plain old grunt work to get your data quality up to snuff. That’s where Yeoman comes in. If you’re not sure where to start, or if you just need extra hands for the heavy lifting, give us a call. It’s what we (just) do.
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