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Amazon launches ‘Smart Stores’ in India to win mom and pop

For Amazon, it’s never too late to try something in India. The e-commerce giant is exploring ways to further spread its tentacles in the largely offline, technology-free neighborhood stores in one of its key overseas markets.

The American firm’s latest attempt is called “Smart Stores.” For this India-specific program, Amazon is providing physical stores with software to maintain a digital log of the inventory they have in the shop, and supplying them with a QR code.

When consumers walk to the store and scan this QR code with the Amazon app, they see everything the shop has to offer, as well as any discounts and past reviews from customers. They can select the items and pay for it using Amazon Pay . Amazon Pay in India supports a range of payments services, including the popular UPI, and debit and credit cards.

Amazon told TechCrunch that it piloted this project two months ago and is formally launching it now after seeing the early feedback. More than 10,000 shops, ranging from mom and pop stores to big retail chains, including Big Bazaar, MedPlus and More Supermarkets, have deployed the company’s system, it said.

The company said these “digital storefronts” are a win-win for both consumers and shop owners. Consumers do not need to stay inside the store and worry about handling plastic cards or cash — that is, to maintain social distance — and they will also get rewards for using Amazon Pay.

Amazon's QR code at display at a store. Photo: Amazon

Customers also get the ability to use Amazon’s Pay Later feature that enables them to pay for their purchases in installments. All of this means that merchants, most of whom shut stores until recent weeks to comply with New Delhi's lockdown order in late March, are seeing increased footfalls and improving their sales. Amazon said it is not taking any cut from merchants or customers.

The company has been aggressively engaging with physical stores in India in recent quarters, using their vast presence in the nation to expand its delivery network and warehouses and even just relying on their inventory to drive sales.

The company’s push into physical retail, which accounts for the vast majority of sales in India, comes as Facebook, Flipkart, Google and Reliance Jio Platforms, which recently raised $15.2 billion, also race to capture this market. On Thursday, Google said it plans to offer loans to merchants in India by the end of this year.

These mom-and-pop stores offer all kinds of items, are family-run and pay low wages and little to no rent. Because they are ubiquitous — there are more than 30 million neighborhood stores in India, according to industry estimates — no retail giant can offer a faster delivery. And on top of that, their economics are often better than most of their digital counterparts.

“Amazon Pay is already accepted at millions of local shops, we are trying to make customers’ buying experience at local shops even more convenient and safe through Smart Stores. Further, through EMIs, bank offers and rewards, we seek to make these purchases more affordable and rewarding for customers, and help increase sales for merchants,” said Mahendra Nerurkar, chief executive of Amazon Pay, in a statement.

Amazon's tardy but increasingly growing interest in the Indian physical retail market is not surprising. The company has often taken longer than most firms in India to study the market, then adds its own spin to tackle those challenges. Another recent case in point: Its foray into the food delivery market in India.

Despite ubiquitous interest in the physical retail market, one thing that no company is talking about yet is just how they plan to commercially incentivize these merchants.

The technology solutions built by these companies is unarguably driving sales for them, but a significant number of these small businesses take cash and under-report their revenues to pay less tax. That incentive is multifold of any other incentive for many of them. 

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Snowbirding with a Family

Terrell and Penny Miller are the founders of CattleMax.com, a company designed to cut record-keeping time for farmers and ranchers. Today they join the show to discuss how they have created a lifestyle that allows them to snowbird between Texas and Colorado, depending on the weather. Listen in as they share how they manage their real estate when migrating between the two states, their pro tips on dealing with home-schooling, and more.

You'll learn:

  • How to snowbird with children
  • Advice on home-schooling
  • How to manage your real estate when living in two places

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

(With your host Andrew Youderian of eCommerceFuel.com and Terrell and Penny Miller of CattleMax.com)

What Was Mentioned

The post Snowbirding with a Family appeared first on eCommerceFuel.

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Carrefour launches food marketplace in France

Carrefour has launched an online grocery marketplace in France. The platform will feature up to 100,000 products from more than a hundred different retailers by the end of this year. These items complement Carrefour's daily product range.

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How to Bulletproof Your Online Business

Learn the best ways to implement online business security from a variety of threats including fraud, hacking, theft, revenue fluctuations & more.

The post How to Bulletproof Your Online Business appeared first on A Better Lemonade Stand.

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Now is the Time for a Conversational Approach to CX – and Other News

Enjoy our weekly roundup of top news stories across the Customer Experience (CX) landscape.

Oracle CX in the News:

TCS implements unified partner commerce platform for Zebra Technologies – Business-standard, 6.24.20

  • TCS leveraged its Business 4.0 thought leadership framework and deep contextual knowledge of ecommerce to design and implement a solution using the Oracle CX unified ecommerce platform, offering Zebra partners self-service capabilities, product recommendations and region-specific catalogs.

 

Industry News:

Putting Hassle And Friction Into Customer Service – Forbes, 6.21.20

  • Today’s customers know what good customer service is supposed to be, and their frustration can only last so long before they walk away.

4 Actionable Customer Experience Statistics For 2020  – Forbes, 6.23.20

  • No matter what industry you’re in, the issue of customer experience was likely rising to the surface, even before the coronavirus pandemic began.

Now Is The Time For A Conversational Approach To Customer Experience  – Forbes, 6.17.20

  • NTT’s Customer Experience Benchmark Report 2020 report found that only 24.5% brands claim “good or complete consistency…..across contact channels.”

 

Oracle CX Social Content:

  • Working virtually is just one example of how #marketing teams are adjusting how they work right now. Our Senior Director of Marketing, @GlobalHeike shares 4 insights she has gleaned from managing a marketing team during #Covid19: http://ora.cl/YH51a
  • We're proud to be named a 'Leader' in the Gartner 2020 #MagicQuadrant for Customer Engagement Center, based on our ability to execute and our completeness of vision: http://ora.cl/Pi23d #custengagement #CX
  • Watch this #webcast to hear directly from executives at @Broadcom and @Deloitte on how they worked together to adopt and standardize on #OracleCX #Sales and #CPQ solutions: http://ora.cl/P5sp1
  • In a beyond crowded market, your #eCommerce experience has to stand out. Here are three ways to make that happen: http://ora.cl/i1xE3 #CX
  • Transforming #digitalselling experiences with #Commerce and #CPQ and much more in a #webcast: http://ora.cl/Cq00c
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What’s Your Plan for Measuring Marketing Outcomes?

Once it defines the objectives of its business or marketing campaign, an ecommerce company should decide how to measure outcomes.

“There is one difference between winners and losers when it comes to web analytics. Winners…have a well structured Digital Marketing & Measurement Model. Losers don’t,” wrote Avinash Kaushik, co-founder of Market Motive, on his blog, “Occam’s Razor.”

Planning and documenting how to measure outcomes from a marketing or business effort should include specific metrics in Google Analytics.

This Google Analytics measurement plan is a means by which you can align business objectives with Analytics reports and configuration.

Conversions

To begin developing a Google Analytics measurement plan, first think about conversions — macro and micro.

A macro-conversion is the most important and most broad.  For ecommerce, likely that is a sale.

Smaller conversions that lead a shopper to completing a sale are called micro-conversions. Examples are adding a product to a wishlist, signing up for an email or SMS subscription, reading content, or rating a product after a purchase since it might entice other shoppers.

For your ecommerce business, try making a list of the macro- and micro-conversions to track. This is the first step toward developing a Google Analytics measurement plan.

Associated Strategies and Tactics

A new ecommerce marketing campaign should include a set of objectives that can be measured.

Imagine, for example, a Fourth of July sale at a men’s clothing store. The campaign’s objective is to sell more clothing. It will use pay-per-click ads, social media ads, and email marketing.

All of these tactics are associated with the macro-conversion of completing a sale and micro-conversions of (i) viewing one or more product detail pages, (ii) adding a product to a shopping cart, or (iii) adding a product to a wishlist.

There is a sense in which a conversion is also a key performance indicator. An ecommerce marketer running a PPC campaign will want to know that it is generating sales. Although in the context of a measurement plan, a KPI could be a micro-conversion.

Set Up Google Analytics

Google Analytics includes a dizzying amount of data and reports. While insightful, the information could be more useful if it were configured around the KPIs associated with the business or marketing campaign.

Configuration — such as tracking when a shopper rates a product — can provide specific insights that will lead to more effective marketing and operations.

A Variety of Processes

Thinking about conversions, associating those conversions with tactics, and setting up Google Analytics to ensure you’re tracking the right KPIs should help an ecommerce business develop a useful measurement plan. But Google Analytics is not the only way.

Many organizations have defined measurement strategies.

Kaushik, again, offers a five-step plan.

  1. “Identify the business objectives upfront and set the broadest parameters for the work we are doing. Senior executives play a key role in this step.”
  2. “Identify crisp goals for each business objective. Executives lead the discussion; you’ll play a contributing role.”
  3. Write down the key performance indicators. You’ll lead the work in this step, in partnership with a data person if you have one.”
  4. “Set the parameters for success upfront by identifying targets for each KPI. Organization leaders play a key role here, with input from marketing and finance.”
  5. Identify the segments of people/behavior/outcomes to understand why we succeed or failed.”

Others have proposed helpful variations.

The best approach is the one that works for your ecommerce company.

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What Is Adobe Commerce Cloud and Is It the Right Choice for Your Business?

In the spring of 2018, the multinational software giant Adobe announced they had entered into an agreement to buy the ecommerce platform Magento Commerce, making it a part of Adobe cloud services. 

According to their press release at the time, this acquisition meant that Magento Commerce could now be “seamlessly integrated into the Adobe Experience Cloud.”

Many saw the move as a natural one for Adobe to take. Magento had a strong reputation as an ecommerce platform for both B2C and B2B instances, and was a logical choice to fill a hole in Adobe’s existing offerings. 

Less than a year later, in March of 2019, Adobe announced the official launch of Adobe Commerce Cloud. This solution is essentially a fully managed, cloud-based version of the Magento platform that easily syncs with already existing Adobe Experience Cloud tools like Adobe Analytics Cloud, Adobe Marketing Cloud, Adobe Advertising Cloud, and Adobe Experience Manager. 

If you’re already a fan of Adobe products and interested in learning more about their digital commerce offering, this is the article for you! We’re diving deep into what Adobe Commerce Cloud can do, who it’s a good fit for, and how it compares to other products on the market. 

What is Adobe Commerce Cloud? 

We touched on this above, but here’s a description of Adobe Commerce Cloud right from the source:

Adobe Commerce Cloud (ACC) is a new bundled offering that provides companies with a flexible and scalable end-to-end platform to manage, personalize, and optimize the commerce experience across every touch point and across the entire customer journey.

 

Marketing speak aside, what does that mean? Adobe Commerce Cloud was built on the Magento platform. Magento is an open source ecommerce platform written in PHP. Magento has historically had a free version (Magento Open Source) which anyone can download, self-host, and customize. They also offer managed Enterprise versions (Magento Commerce on premise and Magento Commerce). 

Adobe Commerce Cloud takes Magento Commerce (the enterprise offering, not the open source version of Magento) a step further by making it possible to integrate with Adobe Experience Manager seamlessly. 

Is Adobe Commerce Cloud Affordable? 

Adobe Commerce Cloud operates with the same model as Magento Commerce Cloud, meaning their public pricing is not available. However, here is some general information to help you estimate pricing.

To create, launch, and maintain an Adobe Commerce Cloud store, you will need a developer, in-house IT team and/or an agency to manage the build and upkeep. Magento (and thus Adobe Commerce Cloud) has an extremely extensive setup which leads to high costs to complete the builds. Building an Enterprise-level store can cost over six figures and can quickly scale with the complexity of the build, design, extensions and additional integrations required. 

That doesn’t cover the licensing fees for the use of the Adobe software. This will vary based on the size and complexity of your business. 

Adobe Commerce Cloud and BigCommerce Core Features Compared

Now let’s dive into Adobe Commerce Cloud’s core features. We’ll also be comparing them against what can be achieved on the BigCommerce platform. 

1. Hosting. 

Adobe Commerce Cloud, as explained above, is a cloud-hosted deployment model of Magento (equivalent to Magento Commerce, but integrated into the Adobe Suite.) We’ll cover how “cloud-hosted” is different from Software-as-a-Service or SaaS below, but you can also find a more detailed breakdown here

Adobe Commerce Cloud

As the name would suggest, Adobe Commerce Cloud is cloud-hosted. This means hosting is provided by Adobe as part of the cost of licensing the software. Where cloud-hosting differs from SaaS is that the onus is still on the merchant to make updates and handle maintenance.

Keeping up with the security patches and version updates necessary to have the latest secure version of Magento or in this case ACC is time-consuming and labor intensive. It’s also work that’s best handled by Magento certified developers. 

Let’s consider the level of lift that merchants on Magento had in the past year, as Adobe Commerce Cloud is built on the Magento system. In 2019, Magento released a range of security patches in addition to 3 different version updates (2.3.1 to 2.3.2 to 2.3.3). Merchants wanting to stay on the most current version would have had to install 6 different security patches over 2019 and an additional 3 patches by the end of April 2020. 

BigCommerce

As a SaaS platform, BigCommerce not only provides hosting as part of the monthly cost, but also handles maintenance, security, and updates. You’re always on the latest version, and your development team can save time and resources on making these changes.

2. Analytics. 

Data is increasingly important so ecommerce stores are better able to measure their successes and failures and make business decisions based on concrete information. Choosing an ecommerce platform that provides tools for data analytics may be an important factor for your business to consider. 

Adobe Commerce Cloud 

One of the advantages of Adobe Commerce Cloud is that it integrates with Adobe Analytics which can help businesses better visualize and understand their data. 

BigCommerce 

BigCommerce embraces an open platform for data. Our platform facilitates an open ecosystem that makes it easy for best-in-breed solutions to share data between systems so that data can be used to generate key customer and business insights. 

3. Omnichannel. 

Your store needs to be where your customers are shopping. Is that on Amazon or other marketplaces? On social media? Internationally? On mobile? Having a good omnichannel strategy means your site can reach your customers or potential customers wherever they choose to shop. 

Adobe Commerce Cloud

This platform has the core features and order management to provide an omnichannel experience to host your product catalog across some channels; however, you will need to do the heavy lifting. This isn’t native functionally, so the extensions still need to be installed, which can come with issues. The extension to sell on Amazon does not have the best reviews. There was also a Google Shopping integration that was sunset in April of 2020. Additionally, Adobe Commerce doesn’t have any native social integrations. The documentation seen here only directs you to code for adding a button. 

BigCommerce

BigCommerce also has the features necessary to create a seamless omnichannel experience so that businesses can easily manage inventory across all the channels where they sell including Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, Google Shopping, Pinterest, and more. Some of these channels are extensions, but it is overall a much easier set-up process

4. Flexibility. 

Flexibility can mean a lot of things when it comes to your ecommerce platform. Here we mean: Is it able to be customized to work with your business specifications and also scale with your growth? 

Adobe Commerce Cloud

Because Adobe Commerce is built on the open source Magento system, it has the ability to be highly-customized for your needs. If you need the ultimate in flexibility having access to the source code may be a benefit. However, these changes will require heavy development costs (see section on costs above). Additionally, the more you modify the source code, the more complexity your developers will have to manage. (This incidentally, is what causes those costs to go up.) Essentially, having the ultimate flexibility is also a double-edged sword that comes with some serious drawbacks depending on the amount you want to invest just in your tech stack. 

BigCommerce 

BigCommerce is an open SasS platform which means while the source code is not available, the platform is geared toward providing flexible, extensible solutions. This is accomplished through APIs that make it possible to connect to best-in-breed solutions. This can provide a comparable flexibility as with Adobe Commerce Cloud — without the cost and maintenance of modifying the source code. 

5. Headless Offering. 

As ecommerce has grown significantly over the last two decades, so too has what consumers expect from an ecommerce site. They want an engaging digital experience with a friction-free journey to checkout.

Standing out from the crowd in ecommerce means having a site that makes it easier to have the customer experience that will draw in and convert your audience. Headless commerce is one way to achieve this by allowing you to use a frontend CMS, DXP, PWA or other solution that specializes in your needs and then connecting it to your ecommerce platform on the backend through APIs. 

Adobe Commerce

One of the exciting advantages of Adobe Commerce is that it connects seamlessly with Adobe Experience Manager. If that’s your frontend of choice for creating your shopping experience, then Adobe Commerce may be a good fit. Adobe Commerce also supports the use of progressive web apps (PWAs). Beyond that it’s up to you as the merchant to develop your own extension or vet third-party solutions. 

BigCommerce 

BigCommerce is one of the leading open SaaS platforms for midmarket and enterprise brands. This is in part because we’ve invested heavily in making our platform open to a number of popular frontend solutions through pre-built integrations and flexible APIs. BigCommerce has pre-built integrations for WordPress, Sitecore, Drupal, Bloomreach, Adobe Experience Manager, and Deity Falcon. The platform also makes it easy to connect other third-party and custom-built solutions. 

Who is Adobe Commerce Right for? 

Adobe Commerce is marketed as a tool to help both B2B and B2C businesses. For businesses who need a great deal of customization or who already use a number of Adobe products, there are some definite advantages to working with Adobe Commerce Cloud because you have a hosted website with a lot of ecommerce features that integrates with Adobe Experience Manager. 

However, Adobe Commerce Cloud is far from the right fit for all merchants. Adobe describes it as an enterprise product, while Magento commerce is marketed more for midmarket. For many lower to upper midmarket businesses, the cost of Adobe Commerce Cloud and the development work necessary to not only get it up and running but to maintain it, are not worth it. For these businesses, working with a SaaS platform like BigCommerce that allows for customization but has a lower total cost of ownership, can be a better choice. 

Do the math for your business. What are your priorities and must haves? Can they be met on a platform that will allow you to spend less on tech and free up cash flow for innovation or do you truly need extreme customization? These are questions only you can determine answers to. 

Conclusion

Adobe Commerce Cloud is a powerful ecommerce platform and the combination of the Magento platform and Adobe Experience Manager can be a good fit for the right merchant. 

However, many merchants can achieve much of the same features, functionality, and flexibility with a lower total cost of ownership and without the maintenance headache by using an open SaaS platform like BigCommerce. You will also want to be cognizant of time to market and how quickly your chosen platform will be able to help you launch. 

Use this free RFP guide to help you better understand what will be the right fit for your business needs. You can focus on just the criteria that’s important to you. 

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Apple temporarily re-closes 14 more Florida stores as COVID-19 numbers surge

After closing stores across four states, this was no doubt a bit of an inevitable: Following reporting earlier today, Apple has confirmed that it will be shutting down an additional 14 stores in Florida, joining the two it closed last week.

The company sent a statement to TechCrunch that is essentially identical to the one it gave us last week, reading, “Due to current COVID-19 conditions in some of the communities we serve, we are temporarily closing stores in these areas. We take this step with an abundance of caution as we closely monitor the situation and we look forward to having our teams and customers back as soon as possible.”

The move comes as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in the southern states. On Wednesday, state officials reported north of 5,000 new infections for the second straight day. In all, Florida has experienced more than 114,000 COVID-19 cases and 3,000 deaths, ranking sixth among all states by number of infections.

As noted last week, Apple had earlier confirmed the possibility of closed locations as soon as it began to reopen select locations in May. The full list of newly closed Florida stores includes:

  • The Galleria
  • The Falls
  • Aventura
  • Lincoln Road
  • Dadeland
  • Brickell City Centre
  • Wellington Green
  • Boca Raton
  • The Gardens Mall
  • Millenia
  • Florida Mall
  • Altamonte
  • International Plaza
  • Brandon

The Waterside Shops and Coconut Point stores were closed last week. Locations in Arizona and North and South Carolina have also been closed following reopening.

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Facebook Pixel: How to Create Better Facebook Ads for More Conversions

Woman Looking at Phone

Facebook pixels help you advertise to people who have visited your website and track how well those ads are performing. This kind of information can be used to make your advertising campaigns more effective.

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When will California’s retail foot traffic return to normal?

Looking only at the data for the first two months of 2020, you might have been tempted to declare — and not without good reason — that it was shaping up to be a banner year for brick-and-mortar retailers. In the last week of February, national in-store traffic was up 3.5% compared to the previous year. California’s walk-in numbers were just a hair below the 2019 figures during that same period, hovering in the 97%-99% range. The U.S. had experienced 23 consecutive quarters of GDP growth, one of the longest such periods in modern history. It felt to many like there was nothing that could cool down America’s red-hot economy.

And then, beginning in early March, the bottom fell out. As the novel coronavirus outbreak proliferated across the country and around the world (and as state and local governments wrestled with how to control it), foot traffic dropped precipitously across the board. By the end of the month, nationwide retail walk-ins were at a paltry 27.1% of the previous year’s figures. California didn’t fare much better, with foot traffic falling to 30.3% at month’s end. Furthermore, both California and the U.S. as a whole hit foot traffic low points in mid-April, with walk-ins at a mere 26.1% and 25.2%, respectively.

One particularly interesting insight we’ve gleaned from our data is that this steep decline in retail foot traffic began well before most states had issued shelter-in-place orders. For context, only eight states had implemented quarantine orders by March 23, and yet nationwide walk-ins had already dropped by 59.7% from the level they were just two weeks prior. California experienced a nearly identical drop of 58.8% in that same span.

This early decline was likely due (at least in part) to the fact that some of the earliest states to issue shelter-in-place orders were also among the most populous. In addition to California (#1 in terms of population), New York (#4), Illinois (#6) and Ohio (#7) were also among the first eight states to close down. However, that explanation does not tell the full story. Consumer concerns about sanitation and safety almost certainly played a role as well.

So what does all this information tell us? When can we expect consumer foot traffic to get back to a level we could consider normal in California?

September 19. Let’s dig into the data.

Elaine Brubacher, a 79-year-old retiree living in Southern California, has explicitly altered her shopping habits during the pandemic. Prior to the spread of COVID-19, she would generally go shopping twice a week. Now, she says simply, “I don’t go out.” Brubacher has limited her shopping trips to once every ten days, and even then, only for the necessities. “I'm not doing any shopping other than what is absolutely necessary — the grocery store or the pharmacy. I'm not comfortable with “general shopping.”