TECHNOLOGY

Online retailer brings baby products cross-border

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

As demand for American baby products increases among Chinese shoppers, Babyhaven not only saw an opportunity, it ran with it.

Babyhaven is an online retailer of baby and children’s merchandise in the United States. Like other brands however, the company is feeling pressure from competitors like Amazon, Walmart, and other traditional category retailers, such as Babies “R” Us, that can not only compete on price, but can offer speedier delivery windows.

“It is getting increasingly difficult to compete on price, as well as service,” said Babyhaven's CEO Jason Becker. “To compete on service, you need to operate more warehouses in order to get product to customers faster.”

However, Babyhaven saw an opportunity in an unlikely place — China. As the world’s largest e-commerce market, China represents a lucrative opportunity for U.S. and foreign retailers seeking new growth overseas. In fact, Chinese cross-border trading volume reached $ 920 billion (USD) in 2016, up 26% from 2015, according to data from iiMedia.

Further, Chinese consumers are demanding safe, high quality baby products — merchandise that is hard to come by in China. In fact, demand is so high that mom and baby products are the second most popular category for e-commerce sales in China, behind only cosmetics and personal care, according to iResearch.

It was this demand that pushed Babyhaven to establish a Chinese cross-border e-commerce site. By adopting a fully-managed platform from e-commerce provider Azoya International, the online retailer is creating a direct market presence in China that can be accessed online or through mobile devices.

Azoya helped Babyhaven develop a website that features localized content, and caters to the shopping behavior and tastes of Chinese customers. Azoya is also providing localized logistics solutions and operational services to ensure Babyhaven delivers a smooth customer experience overseas.

Babyhaven has big hopes for the site, which went live on May 11. “We hope that by the end of 2018, we will constantly see between 300 and 500 sales day on the Chinese site,” Becker said, adding that domestically, it processes upward of 6,000 orders a day.

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TECHNOLOGY

Study: Email subscribers on the rise, post-engagement lags

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

New subscribers are bolstering marketers’ subscription bases by leaps and bounds, yet click rates continue to decline.

New subscribers make up an average of 6% of marketers' subscriber bases. This is an 8% increase year-over-year (YoY), and 30% jump over the last three years, according to “Q1 2017 Email Marketing Compass: The New Age of Email Marketing,” a report from Yes Lifecycle Marketing.

Subscriber motivation to open brand emails has also increased. Open rates grew 4% quarter-over-quarter (QoQ) and 9% YoY to reach 16.1%, the highest it's been in the last four years.

However, click rates have consistently declined over time. In Q1 2017, the average click-to-open (CTO) rate decreased by 13% YoY and 22% over the last two years, indicating that brands are not giving consumers what they're looking for in the long run, the study revealed.

"Our findings show that, contrary to what some may believe, consumers actually want to receive marketing emails," said Michael Fisher, president of Yes Lifecycle Marketing.

"At the same time, however, the decline in click rates shows that marketers' content isn't meeting subscribers' expectations,” he said. “To maintain an engaged subscriber base, marketers need to offer valuable, relevant, and personalized information at every stage of their customers' lifecycles.”

According to the report, one of the best ways for marketers to combat engagement challenges is by implementing triggered campaigns. While triggers are growing in adoption, they made up less than 7% of total emails sent in the first quarter of 2017. Yet, they generated almost five times the click rate, almost double the open rate, and nearly triple the CTO rate of business-as-usual emails.

Other findings include:

• The average order value for triggered retail messages was $61.54 compared to $56.34 for non-triggered messages, a 9% increase.

• The average click to open rate was 8.9%, which remained about the same QoQ and decreased 13% YoY.

• With the exception of Q4 2016, Saturday emails have been the best for conversions three out of the last four quarters.

"It's evident that marketers are working toward mastering subscriber acquisition, but they still struggle to create engaging, long-lasting relationships with their customers," said Michael Iaccarino, CEO and chairman of Infogroup, parent company of Yes Lifecycle Marketing. "Marketers need to communicate faster, smarter, and better at every step of the customer journey.”

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Online home furnishings retailer delves deeper into AI

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Wayfair is streamlining the way its shoppers navigate its vast online catalog as they search for specific looks.

The retailer launched “Search with Photo,” a new feature that leverages artificial intelligence to make it easier for shoppers to find their desired furnishings. Shoppers can now simply snap a photo to find and purchase specific products that match the looks they see and love.

Based on a single image, visual search allows shoppers to quickly and conveniently find matches and similar styles from Wayfair’s selection of more than eight million products. By leveraging AI and other innovative technologies, the company is reinventing the shopping experience, according to Wayfair.

Here’s how it works: Shoppers tap the camera icon in the Wayfair.com search bar, which allows them to snap a photo or upload one from their photo library. Users can then browse visually similar items from Wayfair’s millions of options within seconds. They can make a purchase immediately or add products to an idea board to save for later, or share with others.

“We know that everyone has a unique vision for their home and that ide-as and inspiration can come from anywhere,” said Steve Conine, co-founder and co-chairman, Wayfair.

“While finding a look you love may be easy, finding the specific prod-ucts to bring that look to life can be time-consuming and require a lot of searching,” he said. “With visual search, shoppers can now search for and find a particular product or style instantly. Combining our selection with innovative machine learning techniques, Wayfair lets shoppers bring their unique vision of home to life with convenience.”

Conine describes the solution as the latest tool to help the company achieve its goal of delivering a seamless shopping experience and “mak-ing it easier and quicker to find just the right items for their homes,” he said. “Giving shoppers the ability to search with a photo is just the first of many exciting applications for our computer vision system.”

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