5 Things Retailers Need To Know About Magento 1 End Of Life

5 Things Retailers Need To Know About Magento 1 End Of Life

2 MIN READ

If your website is running on Magento 1, by now you’ll probably know about the end of support coming in June 2020. But what does this mean? And do you really need to migrate your website? Here are 5 things you need to know if you’re considering staying on Magento 1.

1. Website functionality is likely to become broken

When it comes to online shopping, customers have more choice than ever before. If a site doesn’t provide a seamless and enjoyable experience then they are likely to purchase from somewhere else instead.

For Magento Community 1, and many versions of Magento Enterprise 1, quality fixes have already ended. Without maintenance, the features and functionality on these websites will gradually become more and more broken.

The longer retailers leave it to migrate, the more likely they’ll be left with a non-functioning website while they complete the re-platforming process.

2. Magento 1 websites will be vulnerable to security breaches and hacks

By far the most worrying aspect of Magento 1 End Of Life is the end of security patches. This will leave websites vulnerable to security breaches and hacks.

Hackers are likely to see Magento End of Life as an opportunity to automatically hunt out security holes on the remaining Magento 1 websites. DDOS attacks, spam registrations and brute force penetration attacks are just a few of the ways that Magento 1 sites are likely to be targeted.

3. There will be no official support for merchants

Retailers who continue to use Magento 1 after June 2020 will be on their own. No official support means that developers and merchants will need to rely on forums and community support to resolve any technical issues with their websites.

By this point, Magento 1 will be seen as a dead platform so it may also be difficult for retailers to find developers or agencies willing to help them.

4. There will be no way to protect customers’ data and payment details

As security patches will end in June 2020, Magento 1 checkouts may no longer be secure. This means that hackers may be able to access customer data and payment details. Not only will this result in lost sales and a damaged reputation, but could also see retailers in breach of GDPR so having to pay large legal fees, fines and compensation to customers.

5. There will be no new features or improvements to existing features

It’s an exciting time for eCommerce with technology evolving at a rapid rate. Offering new features such as subscription models, chatbots, mobile payments and same-day delivery can help retailers to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

With no first-party platform improvements or third-party extensions being developed, retailers who remain on Magento 1 will find it hard to keep up with consumer demands in terms of performance, convenience and functionality.

Final thoughts

With less than 200 days to go, the time to act is now! If you need to migrate before the deadline, why not take advantage of our free migration offer available until March 2020.

Less us guide you through a stress-free migration to our Venditan Commerce platform in just 90 days.

Fill out the form to register your interest.

Stephanie Fenton
3rd December 2019

Turning Showroomers Into Shoppers: Converting Your Bricks & Mortar Visits

Turning Showroomers Into Shoppers: Converting Your Bricks & Mortar Visits

Showrooming: the practice of visiting a shop or shops in order to examine a product before buying it online at a lower price.

– Oxford Dictionary

Showrooming is not a new phenomenon, it’s been a hot topic amongst retailers for years. Driven by our desire to touch and see items in real life before committing to buying them, it’s an essential part of the customer buying journey – especially when it comes to high-ticket items. So why do so few retailers have a solid strategy in place to convert showroomers into shoppers? With increasingly regular news articles about the death of the high street and the rising cost of running bricks-and-mortar stores, isn’t it time that retailers upped their game and stopped running showrooms for their competitors?

A recent Salesforce study found that 71% of shoppers use their mobile while in-store. What’s more, 36% of these shoppers use their phones to compare prices. This means that potential customers are likely to be looking at your competitor’s website(s) while in your store.

So how can store owners better meet the needs of today’s mobile-assisted visitors? Here are 7 ways to turn showroomers into shoppers.

1. Give shoppers easy access to product information

 

Offer Free WiFi: It may seem counterintuitive but offering complimentary WiFi in your store can actually help with conversions. Not all potential customers who use their mobiles in-store are looking for the cheapest deal. Many will want to read customer reviews or find out about how the product works to make sure that it meets their requirements. If they can’t get any reception or WiFi, they may feel as though they don’t have all the information needed to make their buying decision. If they need to leave the store to complete further research online, there’s a chance that they may not return.

Provide Detailed Signage: For high ticket and bestselling items, make sure that you’re displaying detailed signage. Many shoppers will use their mobiles to check things like dimensions, assembly instructions and available colours. Save them a job by providing key information alongside product displays e.g. if you’re selling suitcases, provide shoppers with baggage restrictions for the most popular airlines so they don’t need to search for them online.

Invest In Employee Training: Make sure that all shop floor staff are passionate and knowledgeable about the products they’re selling. Hold regular training sessions for staff. Provide product demonstrations where applicable, and explain the features and benefits of using/ owning the product. Make sure that they know who the product is and isn’t suitable for, which other products complement it, and what previous customers have thought of the product.

Use Mobile To Your Advantage: No matter how knowledgeable your staff, some customers may just want to complete their own research. To prevent customers from visiting competitors’ sites, provide easy access to product information on your own site. One way of doing this might be to display QR codes linking to your own product detail pages on shelf edges or swing tickets. Make sure that your website is optimised for mobile, that your product pages are detailed and that they are displaying customer reviews.

2. Be competitive on price

Price Match: As mentioned, many shoppers are going online to compare prices so give them an offer they can’t refuse – offer to price match. This way they will know they are getting the best deal out there but you won’t be devaluing your brand.

Use SMS: Not only do shoppers go online to check out competitors prices, they also check if they’ve got any offers and promotions. Before they get the chance to do this, use beacons to send out special offers to customers when they enter the store. When they pull out their phone, they’ll see the offer from you and may be less likely to go online to check if there are other offers out there.

Payment plans: Although finance and payment plans don’t reduce the end cost to the customer, they do often make high ticket products more affordable.

Prevent shoppers from completing their research and running by giving them a reason to make their purchase there and then.

3. Create a sense of urgency

 Time-sensitive offers: Prevent shoppers from completing their research and running by giving them a reason to make their purchase there and then. This could be as simple as offering time-sensitive special offers that are only available in-store or running double loyalty points days.

 Remove any fear of commitment: Offer a deposit scheme so that customers don’t feel as though they’ve been rushed into a decision but can still take advantage of special prices. Making shoppers aware of your returns policy will also take away their fear of commitment.

Don’t make customers wait: In busy periods, provide sales assistants with iPads so that they can take payments from the shop floor – this will prevent shoppers from changing their mind as they’re queuing at the till.

4. Be the most convenient option

Home delivery: Many shoppers will choose to browse in-store but buy online so that they can get products delivered to their home address. If you sell large or heavy items make sure that you’re offering home delivery if a customer wants to make their purchase in-store.

Payment options: Give customers as much choice as possible when it comes to payments. Allow customers to apply for finance in-store and give them the option to pay with alternative payment methods such as bank transfers, e-vouchers and contactless mobile payments.

Out of stock items: Offer to transfer out-of-stock or custom made items in to store or have them delivered to the customer’s home address.

In-store kiosks: To prevent customers from becoming frustrated by having to wait in long queues at the till provide in-store kiosks that allow customers to place home delivery orders themselves.

Speak to brands about whether there is a possibility for you to collaborate on an exclusive line of products that no other retailers will stock.

5. Have an exclusive offering

Exclusive products and free gifts: For competitive ranges, make sure that you are offering something that no other retailer can.

Speak to brands about whether there is a possibility for you to collaborate on an exclusive line of products that no other retailers will stock.

Request samples that you can give out as free gifts when a customer makes a high-value purchase. For example, Clinique and other beauty brands, provide department stores with sample sets that they can give out to customers with the purchase of 2 or more items. This works for the store as it gives the customer a reason to buy from them over their competitors. It works for the brand as the customer will try out new products which hopefully they will go on to purchase in the future.

6. Go the extra mile

 

Demos: Shopping in-store should be a memorable experience – you should aim to add value that an online store can’t. If you sell beauty products, offer to give your customers a complimentary makeover where you can demonstrate how to use the products you are selling. If you sell cooking equipment, have sales assistants cook up tasty samples while shoppers watch.

Style advice: If your products have aesthetic value, offer shoppers complimentary style advice. For example, if you sell homeware, train your staff up as interior design experts so that they can help customers to select which colour scheme to go for.

Many clothing stores, such as The Dressing Room, offer a personal shopping service where an experienced style advisor will help customers to find clothing and accessories for a specific occasion. This not only makes the customer feel confident with the purchase but it adds unique and personalised value that they won’t be able to get online.

Workshops & training: If you sell products such as mobile phones or laptops, offer in-store workshops or training sessions to help your customers get the most out of their purchase.

Home installation: Offering to set up the customers purchase in their own home could be a real selling point for some customers. For example, when John Lewis sell a washing machine, they offer to disconnect and dispose of the old one. Then connect, test and demo the new machine. If you’re able to offer anything similar for your product ranges, make sure that your sales staff are letting every customer know.

7. Make sure you have the stock

Another common reason why shoppers use their mobiles in-store is to find a product when their size or colour preference isn’t available on the shelf. As some shoppers might not want or have the time to ask an assistant to check the stock room, make sure that you’re regularly printing off lists of sold items to replenish the shop floor.

For bestselling items, make sure that you always have a minimum level of stock available in store. Venditan Commerce has an automatic internal shipping request function that will alert the warehouse to transfer stock to a branch if stock for an item falls below a predetermined minimum level.

Once you’ve converted your in-store customers, don’t forget to collect their email address at the till so that you are able to create a full picture of your customer’s behaviour and preferences across all channels.

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Stephanie Fenton
7th November 2019

5 Reasons To Take Your Distribution Business Online

5 Reasons To Take Your Distribution Business Online

4 MIN READ

Driven by the demands of millennial trade customers and the need for real-time visibility of sales and stock, many distributors are choosing to take their businesses online. If you’re still unsure about the opportunities digitalisation could bring and whether it’s right for your business, here are five ways you could receive an instant return on your investment.

Allow trade customers to place orders with you any time of the day or night

Over the past few years, the buying behaviour and expectations of trade customers have changed. They are no longer happy to sit through long sales pitches or shift through paper catalogues. Instead they want to be able to complete research, consult with colleagues and place orders in their own time.

According to Forrester, 93% of business buyers prefer to buy online when they’ve decided to buy. Offering a transactional B2B eCommerce website, on top of your telesales team, instantly gives your customers the option to shop at their own convenience. Busy independent business owners will be able to place orders with you 24/7, from any device and any location.

Increase sales without increasing staff 

Another benefit of having a B2B eCommerce solution is that you’ll be able to provide customers with a personalised experience without the need to increase sales and customer service representatives. You will always want to give your customers access to these teams, however by providing answers to common questions, custom product pricing, credit limits and online order tracking, you will reduce the number of telephone enquiries you receive significantly.

Having a single view of your customer data will also allow you to anticipate your buyers needs automatically. You can upsell with on-site product recommendations based on their previous buying behaviour, send out relevant follow-on marketing campaigns suggesting new products, and send replenishment reminders when you think their stock may be running low.

Get your products live fast

 

If you still offer your customers traditional paper catalogues, you’ll know how much work goes into each one, from content to organisation, design to proofreading, layout to imagery. Even once you’ve finished planning your catalogue, you still need to wait for it to be printed and posted before you can get it in front of your customers! With a digital catalogue, your new products can be in front of customers within a matter of hours. Product details and specifications can be uploaded in bulk via a spreadsheet and automatically formatted into a pre-designed, clean and easy to navigate layout.

In addition, online product pages contain far more information to help buyers make their decision. You can, and should, include multiple images with the ability to zoom, demonstration videos, detailed specifications, frequently asked questions, customer reviews, and customised pricing once the user has logged in.

Reach new customers

Listing and selling your products online automatically opens you up to multiple new audiences. You are no longer restricted to selling to the select few who receive your paper catalogue. SEO is one of the best ways to increase the visibility of B2B eCommerce sites.

To improve your chances of being found by trade customers on Google and other search engines, provide as much unique information about your products and services as possible. Identify phrases that your customers are likely to query when searching for your products then use them in your product page’s meta title, meta description, H1 tag, image and video file names, image alt text and naturally throughout the description and specification.

If in the future, you find that you are receiving a high amount of traffic from overseas, an online catalogue means that you can easily provide translated content, currency converters and international delivery information for your new customer base without having to set up a large native-speaking customer service team. For more tips on expanding overseas, see our 7 Steps To International Success.

Reduce admin and keep data in sync

Taking your distribution business online gives you the opportunity to manage your entire B2B and B2C operation through a single platform, reducing the time, money and headaches involved in transferring data from one system to another.

Having one cloud-based solution will also allow data to flow around your business in real-time so that every team has a clear, up-to-date view of stock, accounts, and orders. This means:

 

  • Buying will have visibility of stock and sales across the business.
  • Finance can quickly pull up outstanding invoices or cash availability.
  • Customer service teams can accurately predict when stock will be replenished or when a customer’s order will be delivered.
  • As soon as orders are placed, they are sent directly to the warehouse and worked into picking lists, leading to faster and smarter fulfillment.
  • Orders can be fulfilled from multiple locations to get them to your customers in the most efficient way possible.

If you’re a distributor interested in finding out more about how Venditan Commerce could help you to survive in the digital age, take a look at our Bradshaw Taylor case study.

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Stephanie Fenton

22nd October 2019

Loyalty And Other Customer Retention Strategies

Loyalty And Other Customer Retention Strategies

4 MIN READ
Research by Hubspot has indicated that a huge 93% of customers are more likely to make repeat purchases with companies who offer excellent customer service. 

 

Ask any retailer and they’ll tell you that their most profitable customers are the ones who come back time and time again. So why are so many retailers fixated on acquiring new customers rather than looking after their existing ones? 

According to research conducted by Bain & Co, increasing your customer retention rates by just 5% can increase profits by 25-95%.

If that isn’t a statistic to make retention a priority for you, then I don’t know what is! 

We’ve put together our top tips on how you can keep your customers happy and increase repeat purchases.

Implement a loyalty scheme

 

Loyalty schemes are a great part of any customer retention strategy. Give customers more of an incentive to shop with you by offering them a reward every time they do. Not only will these rewards make them feel valued but they can help prevent them from swaying towards your competitors. 

The kind of loyalty scheme that’s right for your business will depend on your customers and the products you stock. For frequent low-value purchases, points-based schemes are often preferred but for higher value items, tiered rewards schemes are popular – encouraging customers to spend that little bit extra every time they shop.

If you have both an online and bricks and mortar store, make sure your loyalty scheme is multi-channel so that customers can redeem their rewards both on your website and in-store.

Don’t let customers forget about you

 

The buying cycle doesn’t end when a customer makes a purchase. Make sure that you’re using post-purchase email marketing to keep customers engaged with your brand. 

As a starting point make sure transactional emails include brand personality, are engaging and inform the user of any important aftercare information. You can even use these emails to tempt customers back to the site to purchase complimentary items or to read your recent blog posts.

A big no-no when it comes to email marketing is to bombard every customer in your database with every newsletter you produce. If you do this you’ll most likely see low open rates and high un-subscription rates. Instead, send your user’s personalised emails based on their previous purchases and browsing history. If you have the customer’s birthday it’s a nice touch to email them with a discount during their birthday month – a technique that works well for a number of retailers we work with.

If you don’t want customers to forget about you then don’t forget about them! If a customer hasn’t bought anything from you in a while then send them a personalised “We Miss You” email with a discount to encourage them back. 

Don’t forget to join up to dots by providing email receipts in-store. This will allow you to merge in-store and online customer data and prevent customer frustration. There’s nothing more annoying than receiving an abandoned basket email with a discount code for something you’ve already bought in-store! 

Integrate with a third-party review site

 

Reviews are not only great for creating trust, but they will also help you to provide better customer service and can be a key part of your overall customer retention strategy. 

Third-party impartial review sites give you the opportunity to find out where there are problems within your business and prevent them from happening again. 

Not only this, the star ratings that can be pulled from third party reviews are great for improving your click-through-rates from the SERPs.

It goes without saying but where customers do make complaints or leave bad reviews, make sure that issues are resolved quickly and that the customer is left feeling satisfied.

Provide great customer service

A bit of an obvious one but something that a lot of retailers are currently overlooking, and should be one of the most important customer retention strategies you use. With the growing use of the social media spotlight for brands and customers to interact, it’s so important to get this right first time. 

Great service starts as soon as someone lands on your website or enters your store. Make sure that every interaction a customer has with your brand is a good one. Don’t neglect your website’s user experience and make sure you’re getting feedback from shoppers on a regular basis. 

When the customer is on your website, make sure you’re providing contact telephone numbers on key decision pages and offer the use of a chatbot to help customers find what they’re looking for.

Customers’ delivery expectations are far higher than ever before. Customers expect delivery to be fast, precise, and most of the time, free. With retailers like ASOS and Boohoo offering 1-hour delivery windows and lots of retailers offering next day delivery when you order before 10 pm, the competition is high. Depending on the volumes you are shipping, these offerings may not be realistic for many small independent retailers. 

One thing smaller retailers can do is to constantly review their delivery offering and make sure that it is the best they can possibly provide. Couriers are continuously bringing out new services and solutions that may not have been available when you first integrated with them. You can also speak to your eCommerce provider about implementing a hybrid shipping solution that will work out the best service and price for both you and your customer on an order by order basis.

It’s the bane of every retailer’s business but a percentage of returns will always be inevitable – especially when trading online. For those customers who do want to return an item, make it as easy and convenient as possible. If they have a nightmare trying to get their order back to you it’s unlikely they’re going to order from you again. 

 

If you want to have a push on increasing your retention rates this year, speak to us about how our Venditan Commerce platform can help you to track customer behaviour and implement some of the techniques mentioned above.

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Stephanie Fenton

5th September 2019

Boost Your eCommerce Sales With These 4 Strategies

Boost Your eCommerce Sales With These 4 Strategies

5 MIN READ

Looking for ideas on how your can give your online revenue a boost? Here are four effective strategies you can adopt to grow your eCommerce business in 2019.

1. Optimise your checkout for mobile conversions

 

Thanks to the recent rise in mobile-first websites, customers are now confident completing the whole shopping journey on their phone. Take advantage of this by ensuring your mobile checkout is as easy and pleasant to use as possible.

Complete regular testing and analysis of the checkout funnel to identify areas for improvement. Mobile users can easily become frustrated so make sure that their checkout journey is made clear and simple to follow.

At the account creation page make sure that you aren’t asking for any unnecessary information such as date of birth or gender. If you’re asking for the customer’s mobile phone number, make sure they know why you need this. If the user has already registered with you, prepopulate any known fields.

Ask yourself if your delivery options are as convenient and competitive as they could be. If not, speak to your suppliers to see if they are offering any new services such as same day delivery or if they are willing to negotiate on rates. Don’t forget to offer click and collect from either one of your physical stores or a local delivery collection point e.g. CollectPlus or DPD Pickup.

Finally, reduce the amount of typing the customer needs to complete by offering 1-click-payment options such as Apple Pay, Amazon Pay and PayPal.

For more ideas on how to improve the shopping experience on a mobile, read our post – 6 Essential Mobile First Features For Your eCommerce Site

2. Develop a better post-purchase relationship with your customers

 

It costs five times as much to convert a new customer yet many retailers focus the majority of their marketing efforts on acquisition. To make more of your marketing budget and give your revenue a boost, make it a priority to nurture your existing customer relationships.

Excel at post-purchase customer service – give your customers several ways to get in touch with you so that they can choose their preferred method. Some customers may want to speak to you on the phone whereas others may prefer to get in touch via live chat or email. Remember that if new customers aren’t provided with the level of service they expect, they will be less likely to place further orders with you.

Host focus groups, send out surveys and request customer reviews to get feedback on the quality of your products and services. Address any issues raised and provide additional training based on any negative feedback.

Delight customers by sending out relevant and personalised follow-up content, either about the products that they’ve bought or complementary items. Tell stories about your brand and products so that you are always front of mind when the customer is looking to replenish, replace or order similar items. For example if you have customers who bought school shoes last August, the chances are they’ll need to order replacements 12 months later, so send out marketing towards the end of July showcasing this year’s styles and offers.

At the checkout, always make sure that you are requesting consent to use the customer’s data for marketing purposes.

Design and automate the post-purchase funnel utilising customer data from all selling channels. This will ensure that every opted in customer receives a consistent but personalised experience based on their orders, location and interests.

Reward loyal customers with a tiered loyalty scheme that will make them feel special and encourage them to spend more with your brand.

3. Look out for international growth opportunities

 

International markets present huge growth opportunities for retailers. If you already receive orders from overseas then you could be missing out by not optimising your offering for those audiences.

For countries where you think there could be a growth opportunity, complete some analysis into the competition to see if you could compete on price and delivery. If you can then make sure that you accept the favoured payment methods for that market. For example, if you think your products could be popular in France, offer the option to pay with Cartes Bancaires. Similarly, for Japan offer the option to pay with JCB.

To increase awareness of your brand in the new market, partner with local influencers and complementary businesses who can showcase your products to your target audience.

If not an English speaking country, consider investing in website translation so that you are able to provide your new customers with an experience that competes with local retailers.

For more advice on expanding overseas, read our 7 Step Guide To International eCommerce Success.

4. Offer a subscription model

 

Subscription models for TV streaming, car leasing and mobile phone contracts have been part of consumers’ lives for some time now, but the past couple of years have also seen a boom in eCommerce subscriptions. Royal Mail forecast that the subscription box market will be valued at £1 billion by 2022, putting its popularity down to convenience and flexibility.

Look at your order data, are there any products that customers purchase on a recurring basis? For example, beauty products, vitamins, pet food or contact lenses. Take advantage of the possibility that customers might welcome the saving in time and money that a subscription model could bring. By automatically replenishing their products when they run out you reduce the threat of them shopping around and potentially being enticed by one of your competitors offers.

In addition to replenishment plans for products, consider offering an annual subscription for delivery. This works particularly well for next-day or international delivery which would normally cost the customer a significant amount. Instead of paying for delivery each time they order, they pay a larger one-off cost that gives them access to free delivery on all their orders throughout the year. This can help you to offset the cost of free delivery while still making sure that the customer feels like they are getting a good deal. This strategy has been particularly successful for Amazon (Amazon Prime) and Selfridges (Selfridges+ global delivery charge). By having an annual subscription with your brand, you will always be their first choice as they want to ensure they get value!

Make sure that your eCommerce platform is right for your business

 

Finally don’t forget to make sure you are using the best eCommerce platform for your business. If your current software doesn’t allow you to easily implement any of the above ideas then it might be time to consider alternative options.

You need to choose an eCommerce supplier that pushes you to grow and a scalable platform that can create efficiencies through automation and flexibility.

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Stephanie Fenton
31st May 2019