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Tech Guest Viewpoint: Three Ways to Have Singles Day all Year Round

BY Rob Gonzalez

Alibaba generated a record $14.3 billion in sales in a 24-hour period on Singles Day (Nov. 11) this year. That is roughly five times what Cyber Monday is expected to generate.

Clearly, Alibaba is doing something right and is setting a precedent for what other retailers worldwide hope to achieve. It’s worth looking at why Alibaba was so successful. So what can retailers take away from the Singles’ Day experience to maximize sales and give customers a great experience this holiday season, and throughout 2016?

Here are three recommendations for retailers who want to build and keep Singles’ Day-type momentum year-round.

Demand and support great content
Only 43% of 200 market-leading brands active in e-commerce that were recently surveyed by Salsify believe that consumers buy based on product content, yet according to a study by comScore and UPS, 73% of consumers reported that detailed product information is the single most important factor in the search and selection process when buying online.

Despite this clear consumer demand for detailed product content, only 41% of brands listed improving their product content management systems as one of their top priorities.

Retailers know that content drives commerce, so they are demanding an increasing amount of content from brands all the time. But brands don’t yet understand why. What’s worse, retailers do not help and, in some cases, actively hinder brands’ ability to comply with their requests.

This is where centralized product content management for brands comes in. Of brands that have already started implementing some sort of product content management system, 68% believe in the power of content to drive sales.

These brands are 55% more likely to know how to capitalize on the growing e-commerce and mobile markets, and 92% more likely to feel ready to adapt to future shopping channels. This is all great news for retailers as we move toward the mobile- and online-driven future of e-commerce. Demanding great content from brands is where retail success begins, not just on one promoted holiday, but year-round.

Think mobile and social
Mobile purchases accounted for 69% of Alibaba’s Singles’ Day sales. That number is staggering, given that only 29% of brands surveyed agreed that their organizations know how to capitalize on the growing e-commerce and mobile commerce markets. Alibaba continues to invest significant resources into honing its mobile strategy, and with ever-increasing consumer demand for an excellent mobile shopping experience, other retailers should follow suit.

The Chinese market is in general more mobile-friendly than the U.S. market, as many consumers’ only (or primary) means of accessing the Internet is their smartphone. Because of this, it is a great market to experiment with new strategies at scale and take lessons back the U.S.

Mobile is a good place to start, but retailers can’t forget about Facebook, Twitter, Google’s “Buy Now” button and connected wearables. Only 25% of brands surveyed believe their organizations are ready to adapt to future shopping channels, but collaboration along the global supply chain can help retailers increase SKU counts on the digital shelf. Retailers should work with their brand and supplier partners to optimize content for new shopping channels.

Celebrate beyond the sale
For Alibaba, Singles’ Day was more than just a date on the calendar. It was a hashtag. It was gamification of their app that allowed shoppers to accumulate points (discounts) two weeks before the day. It was an event. Even James Bond showed up.

By celebrating Singles’ Day beyond the sale, Alibaba very effectively drove participation on the actual day, and built anticipation and sharing beforehand.

This is a great lesson for retailers in creativity and driving engagement with consumers. Brainstorm innovative ways you can use the content you have to relate to consumers through new channels. Communication and collaboration between brand and retail partners is key, and there is always room for improvement.

Agreeing on a dedicated focus on product content will undoubtedly result in a more synergistic relationship – and more importantly, a satisfied customer at the back-end. All year long.

Rob Gonzalez is the co-Founder and VP of business development at Salsify.

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Jet.com secures more funding to build brand

BY Dan Berthiaume

Online retailer Jet.com has secured an additional $350 million in funding and joined the ranks of startup unicorns whose valuation exceeds $1 billion.

According to Re/code, Jet.com closed on $350 million in new funding and has verbal commitments for another $150 million, meaning the company has raised $720 million, much of which will continue to be spent building the brand and convincing shoppers it offers a superior approach to online retailing.

Jet.com launched to the public in July and soon thereafter abandoned the idea of charging an annual fee of $50. CEO Marc Lore told Re/code the company’s sales in October were $33 million and that its business model is working.

To read the Re/code article, clickhere.

To view a list of the 156 private companies deemed to be unicorns because their valuations exceed $1 billion compiled by Techcrunch, clickhere.

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Want to sell more expensive items online?

BY Dan Berthiaume

Retailers looking to maximize online revenues should utilize one specific digital promotional solution to create a sense of pleasure.

According to new research from the University of Miami School of Business Administration, online shoppers are 79% more likely to choose a product focused more on pleasure than function, even if the more pleasurable option is more expensive, when video is used.

For instance, a person shopping online for a hotel room showcased with video instead of photos and text is more likely to choose a more expensive room with a marble bathroom and sunken bathtub than a cheaper one with a functional benefit such as free parking.

Study results were the same whether the product was an "experiential" product like a hotel room, or a tangible good like a coffee maker or shampoo.

"It is clear from our study that online retailers, particularly those selling a product that beats the competition less on function and more on attributes about pleasure and enjoyment, can substantially increase their sales and profits by systematically incorporating more dynamic presentation formats like video to convey their product and service offerings," said Claudia Townsend, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Miami School of Business Administration. "Whatever kind of business you are in, there is no question that investing in richer media for your website is an investment that will pay off."

Retailers have increasingly been using video for promotion and even direct sales. This study confirms that video offers a unique opportunity to create an immersive and entertaining experience which can lead to more frequent and profitable purchases.

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