The Focus & Future of the Automotive Aftermarket

The Focus & Future of the Automotive Aftermarket

We’re all used to self-service on the web, whether it’s managing our own finances or booking a flight or a holiday. Why can’t it be the same for car parts?

According to the SEMA 2022 Future Trends report, electric vehicles, connected cars, and eCommerce, among other trends, may lead to the redistribution of 30 to 40 percent of aftermarket profits along the value chain and change the industry landscape in the next 10 to 20 years.

With an increase in demand for aftermarket parts, many retailers are taking a hard look at their ability to meet the demand and provide the experience their customers are craving – convenience, extensive product selection, consistent availability, and fast delivery. To meet this demand, many retailers have a web store in place, but it’s commonplace that those sites were built years ago and may not have been set up to handle the increased inventory options and transaction volume that the current eCommerce environment demands. If you are not offering a seamless experience from browse to search to purchase, you risk being left behind. Now is the time for you and your team to face the facts: What are we doing to provide a better eCommerce experience?

In this blog post, we will discuss some of the key factors that are contributing to aftermarket parts success and how you and your team can be strategic in maintaining a competitive position in a rapidly-changing environment.

Key Factors Contributing to Aftermarket Parts Success

Dramatic changes are in motion within the automotive aftermarket. These include changing customer expectations, accelerated adoption of new technologies, and shifts in competitive power.

Automotive aftermarket eCommerce retailers are seeing growth on just about every front. Why? There are not enough new vehicles to meet consumer demand, according to SEMA. Not surprisingly, this means more and more people are keeping their vehicles and spending more of their money maintaining them.

But that’s not all bad news, as this provides retailers the opportunity to increase their bottom line and take advantage of this aftermarket acceleration. Let’s explore some of the key factors contributing to this rise in reliance on aftermarket parts and services.

  • Low auto inventory levels: New-vehicle inventory at the end of July was higher than it was a year ago, when the global computer chip shortage began hurting production, but supply remains low compared with pre-pandemic times, according to Cox Automotive’s analysis of Auto Available Inventory data. In addition, domestic production of new motor vehicles in the United States was down 16.5% from 2019 according to SEMA. Vehicle sales over the same period were down 9.6%, which has led to historically low inventory.  People have reported waiting on an average of six or more months to receive their new vehicle. Low inventory levels likely mean demand for new vehicles will remain strong over the next year, as auto manufacturers work to repair supply chains and produce more vehicles.
  • The rise in technological advancements: Aftermarket parts such as catalytic converters and electronic chips are in high demand as owners invest in their older vehicles trying to make them more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly. In addition, people are always on the lookout for new features to add to their older vehicles.
  • Government regulations: Stricter car emission regulations have put pressure on manufacturers to produce more environmentally friendly and high-efficiency parts.  This demand is expected to excel at a fast pace in the future and is a trend to stay on top of.
  • More disposable income: More people are self-made millionaires, demanding more luxuries, including wanting to design or remodel their vehicles, which is increasing the demand for aftermarket products.

Overall, aftermarket retailers should feel optimistic about the future. The strong demand for aftermarket products will continue to grow in 2022 and beyond. However, challenges loom on the horizon. Ongoing supply issues will likely constrain available supply and increase prices.

What’s next for your business and retailers alike?

Many retailers are taking a hard look at their ability to provide a better online buying experience for their customers and asking themselves some tough questions such as:

  1. Are we prepared to handle increased online sales? 
  2. Can our current technology help us stay on top of the supply chain issues?
  3. Is our existing store technology a problem?

This hasn’t stopped consumers from making a purchase. Shoppers simply switched brands or went to another retailer to get what they needed. What does this mean for you? Don’t let technology get in the way of your business and profits.

Side Note: According to the SEMA report, nearly ⅔’s of people reported they wanted to purchase something from an online auto aftermarket retailer, but it was out of stock.

Let’s take a look at how you can get ahead of issues like this with eCommerce:

  • Extend your geographical reach: Whether you sell parts B2C, B2B, or both, eCommerce extends your geographical reach and provides your customers with 24×7 access to place orders. Fully integrating third-party codes where customers can view their complete purchase history and status of current orders from anywhere, anytime is just the beginning of building your customer base beyond your brick and mortar.
  • Improve customer experience: Elevate the buying experience by allowing customers to manage parts and pricing while having immediate access to inventory. 

Get professional help updating your eCommerce site: InteractOne offers full-service website custom design and deployment, using Magento. Take a look at how we helped turn a static automotive aftermarket site into a responsive, custom-designed one and how we can do the same for you.

Bringing it all Together

With the accelerating growth of eCommerce – which creates opportunities to modify business models and adopt new ways of interacting with customers – automotive suppliers and distributors face increased pressure to transform now. How come? Retail giants are quick to fill gaps and expand their footprint into new industries like automotive. But the one thing the big retailers can’t match is the automotive experience and expertise of companies that are already established and successful in the industry – this is where you and your team can gain a strategic advantage with FitmentPro.

FitmentPro is our solution to gaining this automotive advantage. Not only will this software tool help keep your automotive catalog up to date with the aftermarket trends, but it will also empower your customers to find the perfect part in record time and so much more. Click here to learn more and book a demo with a member of our Dev team today. You’ll be blown away when you see how this feature can help your site perform at top speed while serving the product catalog search results for your customers.

    Get expert help today!

    An InteractOne Senior Team Member will get back to you within a day.

    Drop Us a Line At:

    Or, if you prefer an old-fashioned phone call:
    Phone (USA): (513) 469-3346

    4665 Cornell Rd. Suite 255
    Cincinnati, OH 45241

    Most Costly Adobe Commerce Problems – And How to Fix Them

    Most Costly Adobe Commerce Problems – And How to Fix Them

    A lot of different factors are involved in the development of an eCommerce website and it is ultimately those same factors that will decide the fate of your business. They will also play a large role in  how users are going to interact with or find your website. 

    In this blog, we are going to share the most common issues encountered with the Adobe Commerce platform that your team might be experiencing and how to solve them. If you want to learn a little more about the powerful and exclusive money-making features of Abobe Commerce check out our blogs The 5 Most Valuable, Exclusive, Money-Making Features on Adobe Commerce and Future Proof your Webstore with Adobe Commerce 2.4.5

    Slow Performance

    Having a fast-loading, high-performance website is crucial to your eCommerce business. Why? Because the speed of your web pages play a vital role in your user experience, conversions, and Search Ranking. Unfortunately, too many eCommerce merchants place a priority on having a site with too many bells and whistles and an overly sophisticated website design, all of which slow the site rendering speed. 

    A slow-loading site can cause major conversion rate issues that dramatically affect your sales.  Some extensions (and extension providers) are notorious for breaking Adobe Commerce’s cache and not working properly with JS bundling and CSS/HTML minification.  These extensions can create very slow page loads and poor performance across the site.

    Your site speed is important for the overall user experience you are trying to create and if your site takes a long time to load (especially on mobile) causing impatient customers to leave your site, increasing l your overall bounce rate and reducing the average time spent on your site. Slow loading sites also get lower SEO scores from Google and affect your business’s conversion rates; which further exacerbates the problem. In fact, the highest eCommerce conversion rates occur on pages with load times between 0-2 seconds, with nearly 70% of consumers admitting that a page speed beyond this impacts their willingness to buy from an online retailer, according to a study by Portent

    Every extension should be reviewed by a senior developer before being installed and a full regression test and possibly a load test of the site should be performed before releasing the extension to production. For more information on factors that might be affecting your site speed, check out our blog, Perfect Page, Poor Traffic? Why Site Speed Matters. 

    Conflicts

    For the eCommerce teams that do not plan their websites correctly, it is easy to go overboard and install extensions that affect your website’s functionality. That can be easy to do with the 3,800 extensions that the official Adobe Commerce Marketplace offers. This is because sometimes it’s not possible for all 3rd party extensions to be tested against one another. They also might not be of top quality which may hinder your customer’s experience. Another conflict your team might be experiencing is incorrect database configurations. If you are using Magento 2.4 or above, it is essential that your team upgrade your database to MySQL 8; which can take your performance to the next level. According to a report, this database upgrade can improve the performance of a website twice as much as its previous versions.

    To help stay on point with your sales strategy while improving your performance and experience on your website, the solution to this issue is to ensure that full regression testing and load testing are routinely performed before releasing any extension into production. In addition, you can set indexers to ‘update on schedule’ rather than ‘update on save’ to help eliminate Adobe Commerce performance issues in case of large volumes of traffic, especially around the holidays or other particularly busy times. 

    Support

    Sometimes extension providers are slow to respond to support requests or they simply stop supporting their extension.  Although not common, we have seen this happen several times in the past.  The most significant impact can be when an extension provider decides to stop supporting their extension altogether.  This means the merchant is forced to either pay a developer to keep upgrading the extension to match overall site upgrades or replace that extension with something else.  

    One of the most popular extensions to lose support recently has been the Ultimo theme.  This extension was used by many merchants, all of whom were left with no support when the Ultimo theme developer decided to no longer support or upgrade their theme.

    The recommended solution to this issue is to only purchase extensions from the bigger and more well regarded providers like Aheadworks or Magefan who have more resources for support and are not likely to fold up shop anytime soon.

    Solutions

    Slow loading pages, especially for mobile users, are by far the most important and costly of the issues outlined above when it comes to improving conversion because these issues involves not only a lot of quality assurance testing, but the following interdependent processes:

    • Analyzing all 3rd party extensions and custom code to find which modules are causing performance issues.
    • Any necessary work to resolve those issues (replacing modules, refactoring code, etc.).
    • Full regression testing of the site to ensure the resolutions work properly.
    • Identifying any unused or bloated Javascript code causing performance issues.
    • Any unforeseen work that might be required to remove/replace or refactor Javascript code.
    • Full regression testing of the site to ensure the proper functionality is in place based on the above task. 
    • Minimize CSS/HTML and Javascript
    • Full regression testing of the site again.
    • Work with full page caching and CDNs to further optimize page loads and image sizes etc.
    • Full regression testing of the site again.

    After these steps are followed to correct and improve your site speed, your team can determine which approaches to take for further conversion improvement, such as A/B testing or hiring a third-party expert.

    Side Note: ​​If this all seems like a lot that’s because it is. If you’d like to speak with an expert click here.

    Bringing it all Together

    Before proceeding to make any changes to these third-party codes or any performance issues, it is important to make sure you understand where the bugs and issues reside and how to fix them; which can quickly turn into a larger task than originally anticipated. That’s where we come in. It’s vital to have a team of experts that understand your needs and who provide the right solutions to help you stay at the top of search results and ensure a better return on your investment. Please feel free to reach out if you’d like to talk.

      Get expert help today!

      An InteractOne Senior Team Member will get back to you within a day.

      Drop Us a Line At:

      Or, if you prefer an old-fashioned phone call:
      Phone (USA): (513) 469-3346

      4665 Cornell Rd. Suite 255
      Cincinnati, OH 45241

      Now Available – Future Proof your Webstore with Adobe Commerce 2.4.5

      Now Available – Future Proof your Webstore with Adobe Commerce 2.4.5

      Adobe’s (Magento) latest and greatest update is arriving tomorrow, August 10th – Adobe Commerce 2.4.5.

      Adobe Commerce 2.4.5, marks a new step forward in commerce capabilities, security, and performance. The advancements in this release set the foundation for the next several years of Adobe innovations to ensure your commerce business continues to be resilient. This release strategy also ensures that customers maintain the ability to adapt to changing market trends with continued flexibility to customize.

      In addition to platform quality improvements and enhanced security, Adobe Commerce 2.4.5 includes improvements to payment methods, accessibility, Adobe Commerce branding, integrated Google Modules, and Adobe Commerce IMS integration (single Adobe account login). 

      Other updates include PWA 12.5, Live Search B2B support, B2B Shared Catalog scalability and performance improvements, GraphQL Caching Performance improvements, Page Builder 1.7.2, and updates to Channel Manager and Upgrade Compatibility Tool.

      Adobe Commerce is not only growing in its offering and abilities but it is also continuing to increase in its complexity; which can feel overwhelming for eCommerce managers and teams. That’s where we come in. We’ve been a Certified Adobe partner for 14 years now, all the way back to the launch of the original  ‘Magento! version’. Book your consultation with a senior member of our development team to implement these changes and updates once the launch is live.

      Stay tuned for more information on release notes and how Adobe Commerce 2.4.5 will directly affect you and your brand.

        Get expert help today!

        An InteractOne Senior Team Member will get back to you within a day.

        Drop Us a Line At:

        Or, if you prefer an old-fashioned phone call:
        Phone (USA): (513) 469-3346

        4665 Cornell Rd. Suite 255
        Cincinnati, OH 45241

        GA4 has Landed. Explore the Next Generation of Google Analytics

        GA4 has Landed. Explore the Next Generation of Google Analytics

        According to Forbes, 50% of businesses say that big data and analytics have fundamentally changed practices and strategies in their marketing departments. And with the growth in analytics technology, end-user privacy has become one of the most demanding aspects of every business. Browsers and other platforms are making changes to core technologies such as the collection and use of tracking cookies. Meanwhile, end-users themselves are demanding more transparency and control over how their data gets used.

        At the same time, the amount of data generated from countless touch points and platforms continues to increase exponentially. Therefore, businesses these days are investing more and more in managing and understanding website analytics. To attempt to navigate all of these without a modern measurement solution, you are leaving essential insights on the table that will impact your bottom line.

        Against this backdrop comes the introduction of Google Analytics 4, your new cross-platform analytics solution, as Google will begin sunsetting Universal Analytics — the previous generation of Analytics — in 2023.

        This blog post will provide you and your team with an analysis of Google Analytics 4 (GA4) vs. Universal Analytics (UA). We will also highlight the major differences between the two to help you to determine when is the right time to make the switch before Universal Analytics properties stop processing information.

        What is Google Analytics 4?

        Google Analytics 4 is a new version of Google Analytics that helps you and your team with your data analysis. GA4 is designed with visitor privacy at its core. It will help your business meet the ever-evolving customer needs and user expectations, with more comprehensive and granular controls for data collection and usage. Perhaps most importantly, GA4 will also no longer store IP addresses. These solutions and controls are especially necessary for today’s data privacy landscape, where users are increasingly expecting more privacy protections and control over their data. Now that you have a bit of background, let’s dive a bit deeper into the differences between the GA4 and UA.

        Google Analytics 4 (GA4) vs Universal Analytics (UA)

        GA4 is the new update on the block and is primed to officially dethrone UA on July 1, 2023; which means UA will stop processing site visitor activity on that day. Preparing your team and your business for the switch is critical. Let’s compare the two before UA’s final send-off so you know what to expect and have sufficient time to prepare.

        Universal Analytics, was released in 2012 and is a version of Google Analytics that you have been using for years to gain insight into your website’s visitors. For instance, it has provided user IDs, tracking codes, and analytics configuration options. With these, you can gain more in-depth information about user behavior. For comparison’s sake, here’s a recap  of UA’s features:

        Side Note: UA was built for a generation of online measurement that was anchored in the desktop web, independent sessions, and more easily observable data from cookies. This measurement methodology is quickly becoming obsolete.

        • User IDs: enables better activity reporting. When a user visits your company’s site — no matter how many browsers or devices they use — they’re recorded as a single person. This allows your developers to track your unique site visitor counts more accurately. Additionally, you can access Cross Device reports that will give you more in-depth information about user behavior.
        • Tracking codes: these are meant to help your team collect data on-site visitors. For instance, UA introduced Google Analytics Software Development Kits (SDKs) to track activity on mobile, and Analytics.js to measure how visitors are interacting with your site. 
        • Offline data: ​​lets you track data from outside sources like call centers. As a result, users can better understand customer behavior via offline data.
        • Custom metrics and enhanced eCommerce: customization options are available so you can gain specialized data that fits the goals of your business and learn more about your campaign’s progress. 
        • Organic Search Sources: Account owners can configure how organic searches get reported. Google Analytics will separate search traffic, labeled organic search traffic, from ads.
        • Session and Campaign Timeouts: This configuration considers how people can visit sites and then leave them open on their devices in favor of doing other things. This can skew your data reports or analytics on session length. So, you can adjust UA’s settings to end sessions after set periods.
        • Eliminating Referral Sources: In contrast to organic search traffic, you can find traffic from other sources, which you can label referrals. UA can log the domain name your user was on before getting to your site. So, you can take out domains from the referral source report.
        • Ignoring Search Terms. You can see what keywords Google users use to find your website in your analytics reports. Unfortunately, you can’t see every logged query, but you can see some of them. But, you can ignore some search terms so they won’t be counted as search traffic.

        Some challenges with Universal Analytics

        Now that you have a good understanding of how Universal Analytics works, it is now important to understand some of the challenges the tool presents:

        • Data processing latency is 24-48 hours in UA and generally results in any reports you or your team run only being refreshed once a day.
        • UA does not support Cross-Device Reporting, you currently have to integrate a third-party software for this purpose which could be an extremely complex task.
        • Every user interaction can be sent to UA as an individual hit, but the number of hits is limited for each session and there is zero assurance that the excess hits will be processed. Here’s a screenshot from Google documentation showing how GA4 will improve upon this challenge which we will also discuss in more detail in the next section:

        Now that we’ve looked at Universal Analytics features and functionality and some of the challenges it presents, let’s switch gears to Google Analytics 4. Below we explore just a few of the new features that come packed in Google Analytics 4 that are designed to better support your business.

        • Predictive analysis: you will now be able to track both websites and apps. Tracking app data was not a function of UA. GA4 uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to get more insights across more touch-points along your customer’s journey. Therefore, you can gain the data needed for predicting your audience’s next move.
        • Reports and automated table customization: Much like UA, GA4 has plenty of data tables. The difference? GA4’s tables are much more customizable in terms of dimensions and metrics and reports on landing page traffic. 
        • Anomaly detection: This feature deals with machine learning and AI, as well.You can adjust the anomaly detector’s sensitivity and time periods, allowing  Google to monitor your site and notify you when it detects anomalies or anything that was supposed to happen but didn’t. In a nutshell, GA4 can tell if a particular metric has something to do with your statistics or if something needs to be fixed on your website, saving you the time it would take to discover and investigate the anomalies yourself
        • Segment creation: you can now create audience segments with GA4. The incredible thing about this feature when comparing GA4 vs UA is that you can make segments without needing to save them with the new comparisons tool.
        • Events tracking: you can track most events in GA4 such as the basic, automatically tracked, and enhanced measurement events. If you can’t find desired events, you have the option to create new ones. Another perk of GA4 vs UA is that GA4 allows you to create 300 events for a property versus 22 in UA. 
        • Configuration tracking: you will now be able to mark events as ‘Conversions’ more easily. For example, in UA, you could track 20 permanent conversions, but with GA4, you can track as many as 30 conversions. Another new perk? Your team can delete them whenever you want.
        • Privacy consent mode: GA4 will now automatically anonymize IP addresses.

        GA4 operates across platforms, does not rely exclusively on cookies, and uses an event-based data model to deliver user-centric measurement.

        Bringing it all together

        Although Universal Analytics offers a variety of privacy controls, Google Analytics 4 is designed with privacy at its core to provide a better experience for your website users. It helps businesses like yours meet evolving needs and user expectations, with more comprehensive and granular controls for data collection and usage. Most importantly, GA4 will also no longer store IP addresses. 

        By bringing in these new functions, Google Analytics is continuing to improve the platform and provide solutions for you and your customers at every step of their user journey. These solutions and controls are especially necessary for today’s international data privacy landscape, where users are increasingly expecting more privacy protections and control over their data.

        This may seem like a lot because it is. What’s your biggest concern about these updates and the health of your website?  Drop us a line with your concerns and questions. We live this stuff and would enjoy the discussion.

          Get expert help today!

          An InteractOne Senior Team Member will get back to you within a day.

          Drop Us a Line At:

          Or, if you prefer an old-fashioned phone call:
          Phone (USA): (513) 469-3346

          4665 Cornell Rd. Suite 255
          Cincinnati, OH 45241

          Meta Descriptions: Small Detail Costing You Big Traffic

          Meta Descriptions: Small Detail Costing You Big Traffic

          The list of elements on your webstore that ‘need work’ is seemingly endless. It’s easy for minor tasks to not receive priority when managing your firm’s growing eCommerce efforts. Meta descriptions are one of those small tasks that often get forgotten. Although Google has said meta tags are not a ranking factor, they are one of those small on-page SEO tasks you should incorporate into your content marketing strategy to optimize results.

          In this blog, we will ​​provide a quick guide about what meta descriptions are, why they are important. how to write them so they stand out in search engine result pages, and other tips to keep in mind when focusing on your site’s meta tags.

          So, what is a meta description?

          In short, a meta description is the short section of text that appears below a link in the Search Results page or in the preview section when you send a link. The purpose of a meta description is to describe what the page’s content is about, so people looking through a search results page know what to expect before they click. You can either write your own directly in your website’s CMS or search engines will pull content directly from your site to fill it in automatically.  Do you want to leave this sort of customer-facing assignment up to a computer program? It is important to write your own – so you control what visitors see and can ensure the description is an accurate representation of what your site is about.

          It is also important to note that meta descriptions are not a direct ranking factor. However, they can influence whether people will click on your webpage and indirectly influence your organic traffic.

          Why are meta descriptions so important for your SEO?

          Even though there is no direct correlation between meta descriptions and higher rankings on Google, meta descriptions do play a vital part in SEO. Google uses click-through rate (CTR) as a way of working out whether your link is a good result. What this means is the more people that click on your site, Google considers you to be a good result and will – based on your position – move you up the rankings. This is why optimizing your meta description is so important.

          How to write a meta description effectively

          Simply put, if you don’t put work into your meta descriptions, you may be missing out on quality website traffic, new leads, and customers. So, how can you start writing powerful meta descriptions that drive clicks? Follow the guidelines below:

          Aim for the optimal length: ​​The right length doesn’t exist because it depends on the message you want to convey to a specific audience. However, Google generally truncates your meta snippet to 120-160 characters. Therefore, it’s best to keep meta descriptions long enough that they’re sufficiently descriptive, but short and snappy at the same time. Keep in mind that the “optimal” length will vary depending on the situation, and your primary goal should be to provide value and drive clicks.

          Use action-oriented copy: If you think about it, a meta description is just like call-to-action copy, it tells the audience exactly what visitors can do if they click. You should start your meta descriptions with action words like “Learn,” “Discover,” or “Grab” and then follow up with specific details about what your potential site visitor will get if they click.

          Include keywords: If the search keyword matches a part of the text in the meta description, Google will be more inclined to use it and highlight it in the search results. This will make the link to your site even more inviting. Google sometimes even highlights synonyms. In the example below, both the Academy Awards and Oscars are highlighted. Getting your results emphasized like that makes them stand out even more.

          Write compelling copy: Think of your meta description as advertising copy – if your snippet is boring what would motivate someone to click on your link? A page’s meta description should intelligently employ the page’s target keywords, in a natural, non-spammy way that compels the user to click through to the page. Google and other search engines often bold keywords from the user’s query in the description display, which draws the eye of the searcher. Try to match your descriptions to valuable search terms as closely as possible without over-optimizing them.

          Avoid quotation marks: When double quotation marks (“…”) are used within meta description HTML markup, Google recognizes them as signals to truncate the description from that point and will automatically cut off the rest of the text from the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) snippet. To prevent this from happening, your best bet is to remove all non-alphanumeric characters from any of your meta descriptions. On the other hand, if quotation marks are important in your meta description, you can use the HTML entity rather than double quotes to prevent truncation.

          Don’t be misleading: If your meta description misleads your audience with content unrelated to what users should expect once they click they’re likely to leave quickly. That’s one sure way to get high bounce rates. Not only that, you might risk losing a viewer’s trust and/or mentally being blacklisted from them ever clicking on your site in the future. Be honest about who you are and what you do.

          Below are a few good examples of meta descriptions that incorporate all of the above tips:

          Hellofresh: They rank for the search query “recipe box subscription” and take a different strategy by using short, snappy sentences to make it enticing for a user to want to click to learn more.

          Mailchimp: When you see this search result for their pricing page, you can see the total package they put together with the compelling meta description and rich snippets. The description is concise but says everything it needs to. Then the rest of the rich snippets show more information on the same topic.

          Why are meta descriptions so important for your SEO?

          Meta descriptions on their own might seem like a small thing and many businesses might overlook their importance, but they are your chance to create the first impression of your site to visitors. By using our best-practice guide on how to write a great meta description, you will not only improve click-through rates, but also decrease bounce rates to gain even more traffic in the future. 

          Spend time to fix your metadata today and begin seeing the results of that effort tomorrow. And if you need help with this or other Search Engine Optimization challenges, let us know, below. We’re digital marketing pros and are here to help.

            Get expert help today!

            An InteractOne Senior Team Member will get back to you within a day.

            Drop Us a Line At:

            Or, if you prefer an old-fashioned phone call:
            Phone (USA): (513) 469-3346

            4665 Cornell Rd. Suite 255
            Cincinnati, OH 45241

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            2022 Shipping Rate Changes: how to prep & what to expect

            2022 Shipping Rate Changes: how to prep & what to expect

            It seems like every year there are changes and updates made to shipping costs and this year is certainly no exception. Between the labor shortage, fuel costs and an unexpected backup-at-the-ports, carriers are definitely looking at an increase in costs which they will no doubt be passing along to you, the shipper. If you ship in the United States using UPS, DHL, or USPS you can count on an increase in shipping rates.  In this blog we’re going to review some of the changes made to shipping and what you can do about it in 2022.

            USPS

            Effective Date: January 9th, 2022

            -Retail rates for First Class Package Service will increase by $0.50 for packages weighing 1–4 ounces, $0.30 for packages weighing 5–12 ounces, and $0.80–$1.70 for packages over 12 oz.

            -Retail rates for Priority Mail Express will increase by 3.1% overall

            UPS

            Effective Date: December 26th, 2021

            Not waiting until the new year, UPS implemented their new charges the day after Christmas. UPS published rates will increase by an average of 5.9%.

            -UPS is making changes to the costs for value-added services and other charges.

            Effective Date: January 9th, 2022

            -The ZIP codes for which area surcharges apply will change. These include Delivery Area Surcharge, Extended Area Surcharge, and Remote Area Surcharge. Click here to see the full list of applicable ZIP codes.

            DHL Express

            Effective Jan 1, 2022 DHL Express retail rates will increase by an average of 5.9% for DHL Express Worldwide shipping service.

            Canada Post

            Effective January 10, 2022, Canada Post rates will increase by an average of 3.5% domestically and 2.8% to the US and internationally.

            How to optimize your shipping strategy

            The options available to you are largely based on your current shipping strategy; fee, flat rate or calculated shipping. Depending on which shipping option(s) your brand offers you will need to adjust your strategy accordingly.

            Free Shipping

            If you offer Free Shipping here are some options available to you:

            An Increase in product prices – If you’re still dead-set on maintaining your ‘free shipping’ options then an increase in product prices may be where you make up the loss incurred from the increased shipping costs. If you increase your products’ prices by the same percentage as these shipping increases you will maintain your magins. Although, your repeat and loyal customers may notice an increase in price, which could lead to an impact in their purchase frequency and shopping habits. This may be something worth A/B testing. 

            You could just do nothing – If you choose this route then you’ll need to absorb the increased cost of shipping yourself. Confirm your margins and your profitability before taking this route. 

            Consider a switch to ‘Free Shipping Minimums” – There is a compromise to be found between increasing your product prices and doing nothing. And that compromise is to add a free shipping minimum. This tactic has been shown to increase the average order value, which will help to offset the increased cost in shipping. This strategy will also pass along the cost of shipping directly to your customers if their order fails to reach the minimum threshold.

            Flat Rate

            If you offer Flat Rate Shipping here are some options available to you:

            You could just do nothing – Same as with Free Shipping, if you choose to do nothing then you’ll have to eat the cost yourself. Confirm this plan’s sustainability and long term functionality. 

            Adjust or introduce Order Value Ranges – There’s no rule that says your flat rates need to be the same for every order. Consider offering a higher flat rate on smaller orders and lower flat rates as orders and cart sizes increase. This will help off-set the increase in shipping costs. 

            Increase product prices – If you increase your products’ prices by the same percentage as these shipping increases you will maintain your magins. Although, your repeat and loyal customers may notice an increase in price, which could lead to an impact in their purchase frequency. 

            Increase Flat Rate Shipping – This increase may lead to similar results as an increase in product prices and it may impact your abandoned cart rates as customers will see this charge later on in the sales process. Consider altering the messaging and frequency of your Cart Abandonment emails if this is the path you choose.

            Calculated Shipping Rate

            If you offer Calculated Shipping here are some options available to you:

            You could just do nothing – If you use a calculated rates provider or app and you choose to do nothing then these new charges will be automatically updated as soon as they are implemented. 

            Decrease Product Price – Since your shipping rates are going to be automatically updated via your carrier extensions and applications a decrease in product price is an option. Once again, ensure that your margins are sustainable and pricing remains consistent and strategically in-line with the rest of your product line and your competitors.

            Adjust for 2022 and beyond

            While your current 2022 budget may need to be adjusted to account for some of these new charges, this might be a blessing in disguise. You could use this opportunity to rethink your entire shipping strategy from the ground up. If none of your calculations hit on your target margin, pricing strategy or shipping rate then it is time to go back to the drawing board. The team here at InteractOne is experienced and knowledgeable and ready to help craft a shipping strategy that works for you and your plans.

            Supply Chain Strain – Solutions for your Business 🚚🚢 🎁

            Supply Chain Strain – Solutions for your Business 🚚🚢 🎁

            We all remember the early days of the pandemic when toilet paper was the scarce commodity, but now the world seems like it is running out of everything from computer chips to ketchup. To make matters worse, an unprecedented labor shortage has left business owners bracing for a holiday season in which demand is likely to overwhelm resources.

            Unfortunately, it’s clear that the supply chain disruption plaguing the American economy is not a short-term crisis. While you can’t fix the broken supply chain, you’ll need to steer your business through this crisis and be able to explain delays to your customers when necessary. To do so, it’s important to understand what’s behind any and all supply chain disruptions.

            In this blog, we will highlight some of these disruptions and help you be better prepared to keep your business thriving – sometimes without a fair warning.

            What is supply chain management?

            The supply chain is the journey products take from where they’re mined, grown, or otherwise made all the way to their eventual destinations in the hands of consumers.

            Supply chains are made up of so-called “nodes” and “links.” Nodes are stops a material or product makes along the way, like at a factory, port, warehouse, or retail store. A link, on the other hand, is the time material or product spends in transit between nodes—usually on a cargo ship, train, freight aircraft, or semi-truck. If all of that seemed confusing to you then this video might help.

            Supply chain disruption root causes:

            Shortages for a number of goods have been a hallmark of the pandemic-induced recession and recovery; which is why it is so important, as a business, to understand what is driving these issues and if there is a way for you to fix them. As we look at the causes of supply chain disruptions, we find some intertwined factors leading to the disruptions and delays your company and customers might be experiencing:

            • The pandemic: The pandemic is the overarching reason for supply chain disruptions. Outbreaks and lockdowns limited productivity in factories and the transportation of goods around the world. At the same time, consumer demand for certain products has increased dramatically as many people have more disposable income and spend more time at home.
            • Just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing: The JIT manufacturing model serves to meet demand instead of creating a surplus before an item is needed. While it can lead to cost savings and reduced waste, the practice also means manufacturers don’t keep extra supplies on hand. As a result, the delay of a single component can stall an entire production line—such as when, earlier this year, Ford had lots filled with nearly complete trucks awaiting semiconductors.
            • Lack of shipping containers: Increased demand and a limited supply have led to a shipping container shortage and a big jump in associated costs. Partially, this is because PPE supplies were shipped to parts of the world that don’t have many exports, and the containers were left there, sitting empty. The Independent Commodity Intelligence Services reports that it cost $20,000 to ship a 40-foot container from Asia to the U.S. in September 2021, up from $4,500 the previous year.
            • Staffing shortages: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs in August 2021 and an additional 4.4 million quit in September. If you’re a small business owner, you’ve likely felt the strain yourself—workers are not easy to come by or retain. Notably, there’s been a multi-year shortage of truck drivers in the U.S. Though there’s a massive push underway to recruit truck drivers, people can’t learn to drive 18 wheelers overnight. The same goes for operating a crane, especially when shipping containers are stacked high and accessing the right one means playing a high-stakes game of Jenga. Major ports like the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach will soon be operating 24/7, but that won’t help unclog the traffic jam if the truck driver shortage persists.
            • Overwhelmed docks: Increased activity and worker shortages are also leading to delays at U.S. ports. According to NPR, 52 cargo ships were waiting off the coast of Los Angeles one day in late October. Off the Port of Savannah, The New York Times reported that cargo ships were anchored up to 17 miles off the coast, waiting at times more than 9 days for their turn to dock and unload their shipping containers. While some of these ports are setting records for volume coming in,  it may still take weeks (instead of days) for containers to be picked up by a truck—which only adds to delivery delays and a shortage of available shipping containers

            Plan ahead for a brighter future

            In some dire or unexpected scenarios, operations may come to a halt, but even in these instances, preparation can make all the difference in how quickly a business can repair supply chain issues. Below are some tactics you can start implementing as early as today:

            Create a supply chain emergency plan: Just as it is wise to have a go-bag at home in case of emergency, a family plan in case of fire, and a winter supplies bag in the car for icy situations, it is equally wise to maintain an up-to-date supply chain emergency plan. This can include an emergency budget for use in the face of disruptions alongside plans around how to move goods around, maintain supplies, and continue operations in the face of different types of supply chain problems. 

            Build up inventory, when possible: If your business relies heavily on certain inventory to continue operations, consider stockpiling essential supplies so that your business could weather disruption that endures for several months. 

            Conduct a supply chain vulnerability audit: Risk analysis is a good way to spot weak links in a supply chain and it is something businesses should engage in seriously and regularly. Armed with information, finding replacements becomes a more straightforward task in terms of priority. 

            Identify backup suppliers: This is not always a viable option given where your products are coming from and what they are, but are there other suppliers that could provide the products needed to continue business if a go-to supplier is not able to fulfill supply needs. One important factor to consider when seeking out backup suppliers is their geographic location. For example, if your original supplier is hit with a natural disaster or similar issue, having suppliers who are further away from the event site can help guarantee continued supply.

            Diversify supply base: As mentioned above, diversification of suppliers helps mitigate risk just as a diversified investment portfolio does. Geographic diversification is critical, but another important factor to consider is further up the supply chain. Even if three of your suppliers are in different areas, they may share a supplier amongst them which could leave all three in the wake of disruption. Diversify in as many areas as possible and begin to build relationships with these suppliers well ahead of potential disruptions. 

            Looking at the bigger picture and not focusing solely on short-term issues, such as meeting the upcoming holiday season demand will help your business in the long run.

            Bringing it all together

            Although you can prepare on some level, there’s no true silver bullet solution for the supply chain woes. The only thing that fixes this is time. While you might be waiting for the supply chain disruptions to unsnarl and catch up, the name of the game will be survival. This will be especially true during the holiday season when big box stores are likely to have much more inventory than small businesses.  And it means that you will need to get creative, sourcing products and goods locally as often as possible and finding ways to repurpose existing inventory. Customers who care about shopping locally will make every effort to support mom and pop, but it will be vital for small business owners to communicate clearly with their customer base, explaining delays and offering frequent updates.

            Need help giving your business every available opportunity to see optimal growth by getting ahead of some of these disruptions as much as you can? Contact one of our experts today.

            The October 2021 Orange Report

            The October 2021 Orange Report

            October 2021 ORANGE REPORT

            The October 2021 Orange Report features our best & most recent blogs and guides on Magento, Big Commerce, eCommerce, and Digital Marketing.

            Conjure Sales & Build Trust – The Magic of Mobile Marketing

            In Part 1 of our Mobile series you’ll learn the benefits and best practices of SMS mobile marketing, including how to stay compliant with examples of customer texting done well.

            Video Case Study: Automotive Aftermarket

            See for yourself how InteractOne migrated an Automotive Aftermarket website from Volusion to Magento 2 and improved mobile-responsiveness and functionality.

            How to Run a Successful Mobile Marketing Campaign

            In Part 2 of our Mobile series we’ll provide some great examples of mobile messages to send to your customers including special promotions, mobile coupons and encouragements.

            Apple’s iOS15: One person’s privacy is another’s marketing strategy

            Privacy concerns for users are real, and Apple is about to strike a blow in how business is done that could change the marketing landscape in a major way.

            How to Run a Successful Mobile Marketing Campaign

            How to Run a Successful Mobile Marketing Campaign

            SMS Marketing has become an incredibly powerful marketing channel for retailers and it is precisely what it sounds like – a way to connect with customers at every stage of their purchasing journey using text messages.

            Retailers can use texting to send customers special promotions, mobile coupons, announce a special or event or simply encourage them to come back to your store. 

            In our previous blog, Conjure Sales & Build Trust – The Magic of Mobile Marketing, we addressed some benefits and best practices of SMS marketing for retailers, including how to stay compliant. As a follow-up to that article, we will outline how to run a successful campaign and provide some examples of customer texting done well in this blog.

            How to run a successful SMS campaign

            Starting an SMS marketing campaign is not just a matter of deciding you want to get into this type of marketing. These campaigns require thought and attention to yield amazing results. Follow these best practices to get the most out of your next SMS marketing campaign to boost sales.

            • Get permission: Encourage people to sign up for your campaign with reminder prompts, just ensure you ask for permission separately from email marketing requests.
            • Keep it to the point: All of your SMS messages should stay under 160 characters as additional characters will be automatically cut off. Try AB testing to find the right mix of messaging and see what works best for your audience, but be concise. For example, do your customers like emojis, or do they find them annoying? Do they respond well when you include their first name? If so, try pairing personalization with a unique offer linked to a landing page and see if your conversion rates increase. If on the other hand, you do not see conversion rates increase, try another format until you get it right.
            • Start a drip campaign: Drip campaigns are a form of marketing automation where pre-made messages are fired at specific customers when they meet your defined parameters. For example, if a customer has been subscribed to you for six months, an automated message with a special deal could be used to reward them. These types of campaigns are simple to set up and require almost no ongoing maintenance, so it’s a great way to bring automation into your business and a first step at creating a good customer experience for your customers.
            • Get a short code for mass text messaging campaigns.
            • Stay professional, respectful, clear, and on-brand.
            • Make it clear exactly how your shoppers can benefit from your offer.

            How to stay compliant

            Once you tackle getting your SMS marketing automation in place and building up your list of subscribers you can start to focus on the type of campaigns you want to run. Below are a few common SMS campaigns to get you started.

            Welcome your newest shoppers with a quick text. Typically, these should also include a promotion or coupon intended to encourage the shopper to return soon.

            Customer service follow-up: this might be the safest and most direct way to integrate SMS marketing into your plans. It gives you the chance to check in on a recent experience or purchase to see how the customer is doing while also providing them the space to address any issues that they may have with a purchase before they take it to a review site or simply abandon shopping with you altogether. It also gives your customers the chance to select if they would like to receive SMS updates on their order once completed. When customers opt-in to receive fulfillment text messages, you can continue to upsell to boost conversions and bring in more sales, just keep it consistent and do not overdo it.

            Product updates: Send shoppers updates about your most popular products or new items you have in stock. Add some urgency and combine these with promotions.

            Loyalty notifications: Merge your SMS marketing with your loyalty program. This gives you the ability to notify shoppers when they earn points, redeem points, or provide exclusive benefits like flash sales, member-only events, and special offers. It also creates a sense of belonging and special treatment which means subscribers are more likely to come back to your store and make a purchase.

            Personalized notes: Your SMS marketing campaign can also nurture existing client relationships by offering your shoppers personalized notes about birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

            Bringing it all together

            If you are looking to expand your market share while also offering your customers a faster and more secure way to receive updates about your products and events immediately, SMS marketing could be the answer you are looking for.

            Keeping up-to-date with this trend will help you to adapt your eCommerce strategy quickly and get ahead of the competition. Ready to take the next step to grow your business efficiently and cost-effectively? Connect with one of our experts today to discuss your needs!

            Get in Touch

            Connect with one of our experts today to discuss your eCommerce needs!

            Contact Us
            Conjure Sales & Build Trust – The Magic of Mobile Marketing

            Conjure Sales & Build Trust – The Magic of Mobile Marketing

            It’s no secret that developing relationships with your customers takes a lot of work. If you want to reach them, you can’t simply just wait for them to come to you – you have to be proactive and go where they are. We are not suggesting that you start going door to door to all of your prospective customers – that would be madness, but you could implement the next best marketing tactic out there – send them a text.

            Whether you own a clothing business, a small boutique, or sell products of any kind, sending your customers a text through SMS marketing is a great way to attract and connect with customers while standing out from your competition. The one thing to keep in mind though is not to overdo it. And you must ensure to strike the right balance and tone of voice when sending prospects a text.

            In this blog, we will outline the benefits and best practices of SMS marketing for retailers, including how to stay compliant with examples of customer texting done well.

            What is SMS marketing?

            Short Message Service (SMS) Marketing uses permission-based mass text for promotional campaigns or transactional messages. These messages are designed to communicate time-sensitive offers, updates, and alerts to existing and potential customers, locally and internationally, who have consented to receive these messages from your business. These messages appear on your customers’ phones within seconds. Depending on the user’s mobile phone settings, they may receive a push notification as soon as your message is delivered. 

            It is important to note that there are different types of SMS marketing that retailers can consider. These include mass texting for campaigns and transactional texting.

            • Campaign SMS – focus on reaching a mass audience with a single message. They come in the form of promotions, updates, alerts, coupons, tickets, surveys, polls, event invitations, and so on. These are a staple in mobile advertising
            • Transactional SMS –  “one-to-one” messages that are triggered by a certain event or behavior from your customer. An example of this would be an order confirmation or shipping notification for a purchase on your website and/or to communicate relevant and timely information to an individual.

            How to stay compliant

            It can be frustrating for businesses and marketers alike to spend time and effort collecting cell phone numbers with the hopes of sending them text messages only to find out that the way they went about collecting their data is not ‘carrier compliant’ or compliant with the new Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) guidelines.

            Why is it so important for retailers to remain compliant? Because breaking the rules can cost you up to $1,500 a message. This is one of the main reasons a lot of business owners have shied away from SMS marketing and although SMS does perhaps seem more intrusive than other common marketing channels, it’s no more regulated or difficult to navigate or comply with. Still, there are certain laws and regulations that businesses must follow to avoid costly fines and penalties. Let’s outline some of them below: 

            Make sure your contacts have opted in to SMS: receiving permission from your contacts to send them SMS messages is the most important rule to remember. SMS has an extremely high open rate, but this won’t help you if you’re sending messages to people who don’t want them or who have never asked for them. And it’s important to note that consumers have to opt-in to SMS separately from email subscriptions.  So, you should always  try to get email addresses when asking customers for phone numbers for SMS. This way, if they unsubscribe from text messages, you’ll still be able to communicate with them via email campaigns. 

            Be mindful of the timing of your messages: Unlike email, which is only checked a few times daily (at most), people open text messages almost immediately. This is great for urgent messages, such as tracking information about a customer’s order or a limited-time offer that expires soon, but you don’t want to abuse this power by disturbing contacts at odd hours in the day. For instance, is your customer running out to use a coupon that just woke them up at 2 a.m. on a Wednesday? Most likely not. In fact, this would not only get you removed from a prospect’s ‘mailing list’, but it would also likely earn you a very unpleasant communication from an unhappy person. In addition, if your business is international in its scope, some countries have laws about when you can send marketing text messages (e.g. France does not allow SMS marketing on Sundays, holidays, or anytime after 10 PM) and the United States does not allow texts between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. in the recipients’ time zone as they are considered “quiet hours.”

            Include your company’s name in your SMS: When sending bulk SMS messages, most providers send them through a shortcode, which means your contacts won’t know it is coming from you. Therefore, it is important to not only mention your company but to explain to your customers what types of messages they will receive and give them an option to opt-out, if they choose to do so. 

            Failure to follow these guidelines can lead to not only fines, as mentioned above, but consumer complaints and messages getting flagged as spam. Telecom companies can also audit you or cut off your messaging campaigns entirely. 

            The benefits of incorporating SMS marketing into your business plans

            Using text marketing has many benefits as it allows you to reach your audience via a device they are already using rather than making them go outside their comfort zone to read a billboard, poster, or even email. Here are some benefits of SMS marketing to consider:

            • Provide best-in-class customer service: retailers can use SMS to respond to customer service questions to drive more revenue. Many apps can be integrated into your campaign to assist with this, such as WeSupplyLabs and DotDigital, to not only help improve your workflow but also form a two-way conversation with your customers to make the return or order tracking process easy and build brand loyalty if the experience is effortless for them.
            • Enter an unsaturated market: According to MobileMonkey, about 61% of marketers still don’t use SMS as a form of marketing, so being an early adopter can help you gain a competitive advantage in customer service and engagement.
            • Increase your open rates:  This is one of the key benefits of text marketing. Compared to other digital marketing techniques like email newsletters, SMS offers have a much higher open rate. For instance, SMS open rates are 98% when compared to 20% for email, at best. And unlike email campaigns, SMS messages have zero bounces because even when a user’s mobile phone is turned off, they’ll still receive your text.
            • Lower your advertising budget: Traditional forms of advertising like print ads, TV and radio tend to be expensive and their effectiveness is difficult to quantify as there is no way to truly pull statistics. SMS marketing is less expensive and offers full reporting capabilities to understand click-through rates, conversion rates, and more.
            • Segmentation made easy: An SMS campaign needs to have its target audience. Therefore, to get the proper demographics, businesses perform market segmentation which increases the effectiveness of each of their campaigns. Proper targeting and segmentation also ensure that you are sending tailored messages to the right recipients. Five segmentation categories you can consider include location, customer behavior, SMS engagement, order information, and customer attributes. Analyzing this information can help inform you what and when to send your customers text messages.
            • Complements Other Marketing Channels: SMS isn’t meant to replace all other marketing efforts – it’s the perfect companion to other marketing channels, especially for updates post-sale.
            • Meet newer generations where they are at: A large demographic of consumers have abandoned email and have turned to text messages. Show your client list that you are keeping up with the technology by sending targeted promotions via text. It will give your company a head start in winning the battle for the next generation of shoppers. This can be a great strategy for smaller businesses that are looking to create a buzz locally.

            Bringing it all together

            Check back for Part II where we will dive deeper on how to build a successful SMS campaign with plenty of examples.

            If you’re interested in making the most of your marketing efforts and expanding with new opportunities hit the link below and contact us today.

            Get in Touch

            Connect with one of our experts today to discuss your eCommerce needs!

            Contact Us