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How Tony Hsieh Changed Your Life

Whether or not you realize it, Tony Hsieh changed your life. When he became the CEO of Zappos at the turn of the century the world of online shopping was nothing like what it is today. A handful of creatively named start-ups like ShoeBuy.com, OnlineShoes.com, and Shoes.com tussled alongside Zappos over the wide-open frontier of digital commerce. Tens of millions of dollars of venture capital poured into the category as investors saw a rare opportunity to grab early market share in an emerging industry. By 2015, nearly all of the early online shoe retailers were extinct or irrelevant while Zappos surpassed $2b in revenue.

When Tony took over at Zappos in the year 2000, less than 1% of all commerce happened online. The ecommerce experience was still nascent and consumers generally preferred shopping in stores. Footwear was a particularly tough category. While selling online allowed retailers to offer an incredibly broad selection, most consumers didn’t want to buy shoes without first trying them on to see how they looked and felt. People buying shoes in stores almost always wanted to try on multiple pairs before buying. It was a barrier that was holding the entire category back.

In 2003 Zappos made one of the most radical changes in the history of online commerce. Not only did Zappos offer free shipping on any size order, but they allowed customers to return any sized order for free for up to 60 days. With this one change, Zappos broke down the biggest barrier in the entire category. The change was so radical that competitors were not willing to offer the same to their customers. They worried about costs, logistics, investor pushback, and every other fear that came with radical innovation.

Tony and his team saw it differently. They realized that if they could provide customers with a radically different experience customers would shop with them over and over again. They were not hung up on the economics of every single order and focused on the lifetime value a customer would generate. It was perhaps one of the biggest gambles in the history of online commerce, but Tony’s fundamental belief that customers would reward businesses who gave them a radically better experience drove him to take a leap of faith.

The first time I shopped at Zappos was around 2005. I had just gotten married and my wife had been a Zappos customer for about a year. She swore by them. Being a size 14 shoe, I always had trouble finding shoes I liked in stores. I remember my disbelief when my wife first told me I could order as many pairs as I wanted to try on and return what I didn’t want. It didn’t make sense. How could a company offer that? How come no one else did? I remember the 5 boxes showing up to my house and the convenience of trying on shoes in the comfort of my home. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to return them. For the past 15 years nearly every single shoe I have purchased – casual shoes, basketball shoes, dress shoes, sandals – has come from Zappos. The same is true for my wife. This one simple innovation captured nearly all of my business for 15 years straight.

Over time, Zappos made countless other innovations to the customer experience. For example, most companies have measured the success of their customer support teams based on how quickly they could resolve issues and how many customers they could help in a given period of time. It was always viewed as a numbers game. Customer support was treated as a “cost center” for which needed to be optimized around efficiency. Tony didn’t see it that way. Customer support was another touch-point between the customer and the company and needed to be treated thoughtfully and with care. Tony shifted his company’s focus from speed and efficiency to happiness. Zappos is famous for having customer service calls that could sometimes last longer than an hour as agents simply shot the breeze with customers.

Tony’s innovations didn’t stop with Zappos customers. Tony understood that in order to create a revolutionary customer experience companies needed a radically different culture. Many of the cliches of today’s start-up culture were direct copies of or derivatives from practices at Zappos. Zappos was one of the first companies to have two interviews for every candidate: one for capabilities and one for culture fit. Zappos was one of the first start-ups to publicly define and hire for core values.

Tony’s vision and approach built the company that defined consumer ecommerce and start-up culture for the past 20 years. His book, Delivering Happiness, became a must-read for every ecommerce, DTC, and DNVB management team (and had a major influence on me). Zappos Net Promoter Score became the benchmark for the category. (When Pitching investors, I would nearly always compare our NPS score to Zappos). His ideas shaped commerce for some of the biggest ecommerce success stories of the past decade (Amazon, Chewy, Warby Parker, Casper, Stitch Fix, etc.). Entire customer-support infrastructures were created to allow companies to offer the same types of customer experiences as Zappos (ZenDesk, Helpscout, AskNicely, etc.)

This past weekend Tony tragically passed away at the age of 46. His impact and influence on Catch Co. cannot be overstated. Tony’s vision, passion, and bravery have built a legacy which may never be matched. Few other CEOs will ever inspire such radical change across so many companies so as to leave all future consumers better-off for it. Consumers owe him thanks for making our lives easier and happier through the innovation he spawned. Digital commerce companies owe him tribute for showing us the pathway to success – an unwavering and unrelenting focus on customer experience. We must always challenge ourselves to continue Tony’s legacy in the way we conduct ourselves and our business.

Rest in peace, Tony Hsieh.

Published on medium: https://itsrossg.medium.com/rest-in-peace-tony-hsieh-559173f3137e

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Best way to create product catalog on Instagram?

Hi everyone! I would like to set up my Instagram biz profile to have the product catalog so my products can be tagged on Instagram. It looks like my options are to either:

1) Connect my website to my Facebook page and generate the catalog there that will link to Instagram

2) Manually create a product catalog on Instagram

Can I ask which method you all have used for this and why? Are there advantages to doing it one way or the other? My natural instinct is to link online store to facebook page because that is likely a lot less work than adding products manually to Instagram. But I thought I would get some ideas here first.
Any other tips or good info on having on products on Instagram? I am all ears. Thank you!

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20 Free Twitter Tools for Small Businesses

Twitter is the place for real-time news. It’s also a powerful platform for promoting and communicating your brand. And with the right tools, Twitter can help a small business reach a big audience.

Here is a list of Twitter tools for small businesses. There are tools to track and manage followers, discover and share content, monitor brand presence, run group chats, and more. All of these tools offer free plans. Many also have premium versions with expanded features.

Twitter Tools for Businesses

TweetDeck is a dashboard application for Twitter with customizable columns for real-time tracking, organizing, and engagement. Track the user’s Twitter timeline, mentions, direct messages, trends, hashtags, tweets, and more. Monitor multiple timelines in one easy interface. Schedule tweets. Filter searches based on criteria such as engagement, users, and content type. TweetDeck is available as a web app, macOS app, and a Chrome app. Price: Free.

TweetDeck home page.

TweetDeck

Buffer helps plan, collaborate, and publish content on social media to build an audience and grow a brand. Create drafts, get feedback, and coordinate and refine content as a team. Run a preset publishing schedule for each social account. Tailor your posts for each social network. Price: Free plan provides three social channels and 10 scheduled posts. Paid plans start at $15 per month.

Tweet4me lets you schedule tweets via direct message. Send a direct message with a prefix that says when you want to schedule the tweet. Tweet4me schedules the tweet, posts it, and notifies you via Boxcar. Price: Free.

ContentCal is a platform to plan and publish social media posts. Collaborate on upcoming posts, share ideas with the team, and use approval workflows for content. Reply to tweets, Twitter direct messages, Facebook comments, and Facebook Messenger. Select top-performing content, assess individual posts against relevant metrics, and report on monthly results. Price: Free Hobbyist plan allows up to four social profiles, one calendar, and 10 posts per month. Paid plans start at $17 per month.

Home page of ContentCal.

ContentCal

SocialMention is a social media search and analysis platform that aggregates user-generated content into a single stream. Track and measure what people are saying about you, your company, your product, or any topic in real-time. SocialMention monitors 100-plus social media properties directly, including Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, YouTube, Digg, and Google. Price: Free.

Twitonomy is a web and mobile app for Twitter analytics — to monitor, manage, track, optimize, and report your activities. Get in-depth statistics on any Twitter user, insights on your followers, mentions, analytics on hashtags, and more. Monitor your interactions with other Twitter users. Easily find out who you follow but don’t follow you back. Price: Free. Premium plan is $19 per month.

Followerwonk is a social analytics tool to track and analyze Twitter followers. Track your follower gains and losses, compare Twitter accounts, run global searches in Twitter bios, and analyze any account’s followers. Price: Basic is free. Paid plans start at $29 per month.

Home page of Followerwonk

Followerwonk

Daily 140 provides a daily email with the most recent follows and favorites of Twitter users. Learn from influencers, keep tabs on competitors, and explore via others’ social activities. Price: Free.

BuzzSumo lets you analyze what content performs best for any topic or competitor. Enter a keyword or domain to discover top content and the number of shares across Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Reddit. Price: Basic is free. Pro plans start at $79 per month.

Mentionmapp is a tool to see a “map” of your Twitter community. Each user is connected to the people and hashtags mentioned the most in recent tweets. On the map, click a node to explore its “neighborhood.” Price: Free.

Home page of Mentionmapp

Mentionmapp

Tweriod provides you with the best times to tweet. Analyze your tweets and your followers’ tweets (up to 1,000 followers) to start tweeting when it makes the most sense to reach others. Price: Free.

Trends24 lets you track the latest Twitter trending topics and hashtags — globally or in your country or city. In the timeline view, see trending topics for each of the last 24 hours. Cloud view lists the topics that are most talked about. Price: Free.

Warble Alerts is a free tool for once-a-day email alerts for Twitter. Track keywords, phrases, hashtags, mentions, and more. Price: Free.

Home page: Warble Alerts

Warble Alerts

Twubs is a registry to schedule a hashtag for an upcoming Twitter chat. Also, through Twubs chats show up instantly on the feed. Price: Free.

Mention is a platform to monitor content across the web to pinpoint conversations, uncover and analyze trends, and publish posts. Get alerts and reports. Filter and analyze posts from multiple sources. Plan and manage multiple social accounts. Price: Free plan allows three social accounts and up to 1,000 mentions. Paid plans start at $25 per month.

SocialRank lets you identify, organize, and manage your social media audience. Create a report to sort your followers based on their influence, follower count, or engagement metrics. Filter follower data by location, interests, and bio identifiers. Price: Basic Twitter account is free. Paid plans start at $99.99 per year.

Home page of SocialRank

SocialRank

Trendsmap shows you the latest Twitter trending hashtags and topics from anywhere in the world. Browse by locations or tops tweets. Paid plans let you analyze historical info (hours, days, weeks, months) to find trends, and provide alerts. Price: Free. Paid plans start at $25 per month.

Pablo is a tool by Buffer to create engaging images quickly for your social media posts. Type in your text and choose and images via Unsplash, or upload your own image and then style it and the text to create your post. Price: Free.

Commun.it is a community management tool for small businesses. Monitor your mentions and conversations — with high-value content first. Track negative and positive tweets. Find and share top curated content with your followers. Discover new followers for your business. Post at ideal times, and keep track of your progress. Price: Free for one social profile and a limit on daily analytics and weekly engagements. Paid plans start at $19.99 per month.

Periscope is Twitter’s app for broadcasting live video from your smartphone. Going live will instantly notify your followers, who then can join, comment, and send you hearts in real-time. When you broadcast live on Twitter, you’ll tweet a link so that Twitter followers can watch on the web or in the app. Price: Free.

Home page of Periscope

Periscope

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Tracking info shows “delivered” / customer claiming they didn’t receive it

Hey Everyone. How do you or how would you deal with customers who say they didn’t receive their order, but tracking info says it was delivered? Just bite the bullet and send a replacement or are there any follow up questions I can ask before resorting to a free replacement?

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Omniva drops parcels in safe location when addressee isn’t home

Starting today, couriers from Estonian post and logistics company Omniva will hand over parcels using a simplified procedure. When the addressee isn't home, couriers may now leave the parcel in a safe location or hand it over to a neighbor.

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‘Shop local’ applies to ecommerce businesses, too

The pandemic has altered the behavior of consumers, moving from in-person shopping to online. We have experienced it here in the U.K. Online ordering has increased significantly. Once the initial fear of ecommerce has subsided, consumers see the benefits of convenience, delivery, price, and more. For many, it will become a permanent habit.

When the U.K. went into its second lockdown, online retailers increased their advertising in the hopes of picking up even more business. Interestingly, however, so did local, physical stores. Many started advertising on Facebook and local media, emphasizing their local roots and community involvement. Local delivery and click-and-collect are now popular.

All too often ecommerce companies forget the local angle. We focus on national and international sales and forget the shoppers just outside our doors.

Local ecommerce

So why not start a shop local campaign? Consider offering same-day delivery to nearby customers as well as a click-and-collect option. “Shop local” applies to ecommerce businesses, too, who employ close-by residents and otherwise participate in community commerce.

Becoming more involved with your local area can drive sales. For example, here in Norwich, which is roughly 100 miles northeast of London, local internet retailers have helped food banks by providing warehouse space, packing materials (for food parcels), and general logistical support. This has generated substantial goodwill and no doubt increased local orders to previously unknown businesses.

First-time buyers

Many local consumers have likely never purchased goods online. Consider how to help these prospects place their first order. A telephone order option could help. Many folks are hesitant to put their credit card details online. What can you say or do to help? You could be much more flexible with local shoppers. Examples include special discounts, easy re-order mechanisms such as a mail-back form, a telephone contact, or a personal email address.

When processing orders to first-time buyers, it is crucial to communicate all stages. Let them know you have their order as well as when it will ship, who is delivering it, and when it will likely arrive.  The more you can keep them informed, the happier these nervous customers will be.

Repeat buyers

The pandemic has ushered tens of thousands of consumers online. They are not hardened bargain seekers with no loyalty. They are first-time buyers who could become repeat customers if treated well by your company. And we all know that selling to repeat customers is far more profitable than acquiring new ones.

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Best way to send out unique API keys when subscribing?

Hi,

So I'm in the process of building an ecommerce store selling an online tool where you would need an API key to activate the tool. The API keys are being generated by a supplier I'm working together with so as of now I have x-amount of API keys already generated that need to forwarded to the user when signing up.
I currently use WordPress/WooCommerce as check-out module and Reepay as a payment gateway.

How would you automize this in the best possible manner? Thanks.

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An easy way to validate influencers. Use this to acquire yourself a small and effective army of ambassadors.

I’ve written before (find it in my post history, if you’re interested) that most “influencers” are broadcasters—not influencers, meaning that they have the ability to get a message out to a lot of people, but no authority over their buying decisions.

The challenge—from a vendor perspective—is to distinguish between influencers and broadcasters. It’s borderline impossible to look at post quality, engagement rate, authenticity of comments, and draw an accurate conclusion over whether or not this person could influence people to buy your products. It’s fairly easy to spot shitty broadcasters and to know who won’t be helpful, which helps to an extent, but to really know who does have the power to influence their audience, you need to try it out.

What I’ve found that works great is to go for quantity, offer really generous commissions for a limited time, and build longer relationships based on the results.

Find as many micro influencers in the niche as you can, and negotiate a simple and short commission based deal. You'll quickly learn the approximate audience threshold where they won't do just commission. Stay below that. This threshold depends a lot on the niche and how lucrative your shop seems.

Be super generous with your commissions short-term. The point is to get as many on board as possible. Obviously use your judgement on determining the fit of the audience. There's no point in wasting anyone's time.

Analyze results and see if any deals gave good results in relation to what they posted and what their audience size is. Start working on longer-term relationships with these influencers. Be honest about the fact that you can't offer the same deal as before, but definitely make sure you can offer a fair deal.

If all went well, you just validated some influencers. Rinse and repeat to build an effective group of influencers to work with long-term. I’ve seen this work wonderfully with many businesses. Good luck!

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Saloodo launches globally

Logistics startup Saloodo has announced it's now ready to be used globally. The road freight platform was launched by DHL Group in 2017 and was already available in some markets in Europe.

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You need to study your competition.

Hey Guys,

As we all know, studying our competition is necessary, and one of the most important things to study is their ad strategy. You can understand a lot about their messaging, creative and funnel strategy when you look at their ads.

Here's a simple way to understand what your competition is doing in terms of their ad strategy:-

  • Google "Facebook Ads Library".
  • Write your competitor's page name.
  • Look at their ads, and scroll to the bottom.
  • If an ad is running for a month, or more, chances are that they are getting good conversions from it.
  • So study their copy, their creatives, click on the ad, and see what their funnel is, what their landing page looks like, what action it wants you to take, what mail you get when you do that action, etc.

This will help you learn from them, get creative ideas, and actually do things better than what they are doing.

I've done this for multiple businesses, across various industries, and this always saves me money (and time) to test things, especially in the initial stages.

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