customer experience, data, logic

Spaghetti on the Wall

pasta with vegetable dish on gray plate beside tomato fruit on white table
Photo by Trang Doan on Pexels.com

How do you test to see if your pasta is done? Are you an advocate for throwing it against the wall until it sticks or do you prefer a more systematic approach to create a tasty dish?  Why don’t we start with a practice that we learned in grade school:

sci·en·tif·ic meth·od
noun
  1. a method of procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.
conversion, customer experience, data, ecommerce, four-wall, merchandising, omnichannel

What’s Up with Pop Ups?

1. What is a pop-up shop?

  • According to BigCommerce, a pop up shop is a temporary storefront space operated by an online merchant.
  • The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as : a store that opens suddenly and usually exist for a short amount of time: A temporary pop-up store often appears when retailers take advantage of empty retail space.
  • Shopify.com describes a “pop-up shop” as is a short-term, temporary retail event that is ‘here today, gone tomorrow”. Pop-up retail is the temporary use of physical space to create a long term, lasting impression with potential customers.

2. How does one impress potential customers with a pop-up shop?

A customer needs to make some connection with the location. To connect, there must be an experience. As a physical space with human guides, how does an online business make that three dimensional visit memorable when EQ comes into play?

We know that online businesses greatly value data, as do four wall businesses. Both measure conversion, average transaction value, units per transactions, bestselling merchandise, slow selling merchandise, etc, etc. Both have financial plans and staffing models as well as visual presentations. The skills required in getting the customer over the proverbial threshold, engaged with the product, and serviced to best fulfill their needs require eye contact and conversation in a physical space. As we develop in this omnichannel environment, the expertise of the physical environments needs to be valued to the same degree that the digital expertise is respected. Unless the goal of the pop-up shop is to serve as a glorified billboard with minimal exchange and engagement, it would behoove the online businesses to welcome some four wall experts into their midst when concepting and executing. Best practices in both channels will only enhance the total business with greatly improved customer experience.

data

Lies, Damn Lies and Analytics

Easy to get caged in your analytical playpen when you don’t know the why behind the data.  Learn to ask the tough questions.

The beauty of a dashboard is that access to statistics and results can be immediate.  With the press of a button, google analytics provides a host of information on a websites performance. The daily sales dashboard from the data warehouse has some good stats. The unfortunate result of that is proclamations of success or failure at any given point without comprehension of the why, can drive action which does real damage to an assortment, a marketing campaign, revenue drivers, purchase projections.  You name it.

The downfall of a dashboard is that many observing it don’t understand the why behind the current results.

  • The average order value to our customer is continuing to increase annually.  We’re doing such a good job providing them with the goods and services they demand.  What do you mean the customer base is decreasing?  We need more customers!  Let’s grab them from our competition.
  • Traffic to the website is spiking.  We’re brilliant!  Oh.  What do you mean that 500,000 catalogs landed in mailboxes this week?  That’s print.  Print is dead.  It’s all about our website.  Look at that increase in conversions!  Look at the average order value!
  • Look at the revenue we’re driving with that discount coupon!  We’re up 30% in revenue!  We need to keep up price promotions on the entire site!  Our customer base is eating this up!  What do you mean we’ve lost 600bps in margin?  We’ll make it up in margin dollars!  Why are we out of our bestselling products?
  •  Revenue in category A increased from 10% of the total to 20% of the total for a 100% increase in sales. Genius!   Really?  Give me the $.  Sales and margin.  If total revenue increased from $100,000 to $105,000, then category A increased from $10,000 to $21,000 which is 110% increase in sales in the category, driving an overall 5% increase in revenue.  Unfortunately, category B and C, which have higher margins than category A dropped in penetration due to downtrending product, or delivery issues, or price increases due to tariff changes, etc.  So overall gross margin came in at $32,000 vs. $38,000 LY, leaving less to cover overhead.  Where do we cut?

Basic arithmetic and an good understanding of the foundations of a business are all you need to dissect a dashboard.  How many times do you hear the why questions being asked?  Sure, traffic and page view increases to a site make everyone feel good.  More feet through the door are exciting.  But if they don’t funnel through with increases in conversions and order values, the story can be misleading and may not end well.  Give me facts tied to actual products and categories any time.  The right mix combined with more customers will have happy ending.