Posts categorized ‘Shopping’

Black Friday & Cyber Monday Rapid Reactions

A few weeks ago we previewed what we (and others) thought would be a historic couple of days for e-commerce on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Believe it or not, those shopping days are now in our rearview mirror as we’re now into December and the Holiday Season. The numbers are already out, most of them originating in the IBM 2013 Holiday Benchmark Reports. What happened on the internet in the past couple days?


As was expected, the total online sales on Black Friday once again toppled the $1 billion mark at $1.198 billion. This number represented a 15% increase, according to comScore , from Black Friday online sales in 2012.

Shopping Cart

Additionally, a new day is emerging in the e-commerce calendar: Thankful Thursday. Thanksgiving Day, the holiday around which Black Friday and Cyber Monday were created, is actually the fastest growing online shopping day in the past five years. Shopping online on Thanksgiving presents none of the logistical problems that in-store shopping does, nor are there any lines. It makes sense that as people are relaxing with their families getting ready for the turkey, they are breaking out the tablets, laptops, and smartphones, and getting a jump on great deals.

For Cyber Monday, USA Today posted an article late Monday night as numbers were being reported. Depending on the time when data was pulled, overall sales were seen to be up between 17 and 20 percent from last year.

Specifically Mobile

The strong numbers posted on both shopping days can be attributed in large part to the rise of mobile. Black Friday saw mobile traffic account for 39.7 percent, which is a 34 percent increase from the same day in 2012. These metrics come from a report from Gigaom aptly titled “Black Friday shopping by the numbers: Mobile-optimized sites win”. All significant metrics related to sales were also up from 2012.


USA Today’s reporting on Cyber Monday stated that 29.4 percent of online traffic came from mobile devices, representing a 61 percent jump from last year. The same data suggested that “shoppers used smartphones to browse but were more likely to make purchases on a tablet.”


Cyber Monday has already stretched into “Cyber Week”, as many deals did not end with Monday. Where will it end? Deal-seeking online shoppers will be active throughout the month of December, preferring sites that are engaging and user-friendly across multiple devices. The increase of online shopping, specifically the use of mobile devices to shop and research, shouldn’t be alarming. Zmags’ solutions are designed to help marketers and retailers engage with deal-seeking shoppers during these high-volume periods.


(Photo Credit: Online Shopping )

(Photo Credit: Add to Cart )

Retailers Turn to Mobile for Fall Promotion

With back to school on the horizon and the anticipation of the leaves changing (depending on your geographical location), retailers are getting ready to launch into their fall and winter lines. Goodbye bathing suit season, and hello corduroys. But this season, in particular, is debuting more than just new clothes…

2013 has proven to be a shifting year for retailers, specifically, when it comes to mobile presence and outreach. Mobile and digital campaigns have only been on the rise the past few years but this season it’s front and center. A recent article on Mobile Commerce Daily highlights major brands like Gap, J.Crew and Oscar De La Renta who have engaged everything from Tumblr to Instagram and Pinterest to reach their key audience.


Brahmin Fall Lookbook


Typical fall fashion promotion has been done in the form of catalogs and direct mail pieces. Now, that paradigm is shifting and the extremely cost-effective digital approach is being rapidly adopted. Here are a few of the many reasons why this whole shift makes sense, not only for retailers, but for most brands in general:

  • Wider Audience – Social media avenues tend to have a wider brush stroke than direct mail, or even email at times. Customers today are more apt to pull to a brand, rather than being pushed. Giving an address or an email to a retailer is getting less popular (do we really need more spam?) so customers tend to seek out these brands via social media. “Liking” a brand on Facebook or following them on Instagram is a personal choice, and non-invasive. Therefore, when that brand wants to push information out to their social community they are actually reaching a wider audience.
  • Dicks CatalogImage Focused - For the same reasons why models still walk the catwalk with the latest fashion, images and lifestyle photography are critical to showing off the look and interpretation of the latest trends. It’s very easy to create digital image-favoring campaigns that can be shared on a website, app, or social media outlet. This allows users on a multitude of devices to absorb a brand’s message as if they were at fashion week watching it with their own eyes.
  • Cost Effective - Digital campaigns of all types are inherently less expensive than print campaigns. Printing catalogs and direct mail pieces are usually produced in several different versions and printed in the hundreds of thousands. This is not only expensive but final. The beauty of digital campaigns is the ability to:
    • Test certain images and styles
    • Track a direct ROI
    • Change course if something isn’t working. It’s easy enough to swap out an image or style in real-time than to reprint a direct mail piece

The Zmags Connection

Zmags is an essential asset to any digital campaign. Having the ability to upload, optimize and deploy a variety of digital content in a matter of minutes is a no-brainer. The Zmags platform meets the main criteria mentioned above as well as working across social channels, websites and more. The platform also includes a robust analytics offering which makes tracking campaigns and their success even easier. Dick’s Sporting Goods, Brahmin and Joules are just a few brands that are pushing their digital campaigns to the max with the help of Zmags.


How Costco Uses Zmags to Generate Footfall

laptop browseZmags is a very versatile digital publishing platform and can be used to drive revenue in several ways. The most obvious way would be by using Zmags’ Commerce solution to facilitate the product purchase directly from the page in the catalog/brochure online. This will seamlessly synchronize with the existing ecommerce infrastructure and allow products to be added to cart in the same way it would from any other product page.

What might not be so obvious is how an online flyer or catalog can help a marketing team to generate footfall to their stores.

I came across this fantastic example from Costco UK today, who present their coupon books 16 times a year through Zmags.

Encouraging Results:

The results we can see from these campaigns are very encouraging. Costco promotes these wholesale offers to its  members via email and print distribution. 40% of the visitors spend 2-5 minutes just going through these pages, and the very nature of the content means that around 80% of the visitors view every single page in the Zmag – this is incredible engagement for something which users can then print or save to use in-store. As the offers are only available to the wholesale trade, the aim is that the user takes these offers and buys in-store.

Costco UK screenshot

By using specific codes which track the source of the coupon, Costco is able to attribute the source of the revenue to the various campaigns, which along with the comprehensive Zmags analytics allow them the get a full view of how this is working to achieve business objectives.

Do you have similar goals from your online marketing efforts? Are you looking for new ways to generate footfall from online efforts? Get in touch today to get a demo, or speak with a consultant about how this might fit strategically for your business.

MITX Mobile Migration Summit: Why to Focus on Tablets for Ecommerce

At last week’s MITX Great Mobile Migration Summit, I spoke to an audience along with Joan Connor from PartyLite, a home fragrance direct selling company, on “Why Tablets Will Outpace Smartphones:  Trends And Tips To Optimize Every Customer Interaction“.

photo 2

Our main objective?   To provide marketers and agencies with some creative ideas on how to capitalize on the distinctions between tablets and smartphone users – with the goal of helping them improve the digital experience for their customers.

Tablets are used more during leisure time (at night and during the weekends), while smartphone users tend to be on-the-go, looking for quick-hit website searches, directions, etc.  So, consumers are in a more relaxed mindset on tablets, often lingering on websites longer and viewing more content and pages – with up to 1.7x more pages viewed on tablets than on smartphones.  This multi-screen behavior of “couch commerce” while watching TV can lead to impulse buying and larger average order values among the tablet segment of shoppers.

tablets vs smartphones

Here are the Top 5 Tips we covered in detail

1.  Design for digital using HTML5
2.  Shoppable online catalogs
3.  Sales enablement
4.  Device recognition
5.  Tablet apps



PartyLite has been a Zmags client for several years, but has been printing catalogs for nearly 4 decades!  At first, PartyLite’s Zmags were just digital replicas of its print catalogs.  Several pages, such as candle ordering grids, did not translate well on screen – forcing shoppers to spend extra time just zooming in on all of the details.   At Zmags, we noticed this in the data, and recommended designing for digital, using interactive elements and a streamlined layout to create a better user experience, especially on tablets.

Joan’s team at PartyLite took this advice, and have since had incredible success with new optimized digital catalogs that focus on key collections they want to promote in their assortment, instead of long, comprehensive books.  The response has been extremely positive among Consultants (direct sellers) and their customers.   The PartyLite creative team, seeing the clear benefits, now photographs and designs for digital FIRST and print SECOND!

Take a look at PartyLite’s latest Zmags catalog, a great example of the rich photography and crisp layout that works well to inspire purchases on tablets.PartyLite ScentGlow

For a complimentary copy of the presentation, please contact us!


Ensuring a Truly Integrated Experience Across Multiple Devices

Consumers now access content through multiple devices. The diversity of touch points is not just limited to devices such as desktops, tablets or smart phones, but also to mediums such as web browsers, dedicated apps, Facebook and others. The challenge before marketers is to not just ensure that their content remains optimized across all these multiple touch points, but also ensure that the content presentation, and by extension, the customer experience, remains consistent across the diverse channels and devices. Side by side, the marketer needs powerful analytic capabilities to understand what works and what does not work, and the extent to which the popularity across content, segregated by touch points, actually translates to revenue.

Little Tykes / Play Power, a seller of playground equipment has deployed Zmags Professional solutions to ensure all these, and more.

Little Tykes Zmags Verge

Apart from ensuring a consistent brand image across devices and channels, Zmags Verge spruces up the catalog and facilitates slick, tablet-optimized navigation. The attractive visual representation of the playground equipment complete with descriptions and pop-ups to relevant links apart, catalog viewers can configure the playground equipment in different colors and settings, visualize how kids interact in different equipment, mix and match different equipment, read social media reviews, and do more, all without leaving the catalog.

Zmags also provides for a truly integrated experience by allowing the consumer to complete the shopping within the catalog itself, meaning that the consumer can complete the entire marketing lifecycle right from initial product enquiry or curiosity to actually making the purchase and even providing feedback, without having to stray from the catalog at all.

How can you improve your customer lifecycle marketing with digital catalogs?

How Online Catalogs Support Personalized Sales

Today’s customers are highly informed and access information about products through various digital touch points (like online catalogs!) by themselves. The role of the marketer is now to guide the customer through the buying process, to provide them with a good experience in whichever channel or medium they choose, rather than dictate terms. This requires a shift from the product centric marketing campaigns to customer centric campaigns, and this, in turn rests on the marketer customizing the engagement with the customer. At the same time, the marketer also needs to ensure a consistent voice and message across the different channels.

Online catalogs as a marketing tool facilitate this trend, which is evident from the experiences of PartyLine, a niche maker of candles, candle warmers, fragrances and premium home décor products.

PartyLine Zmags Catalog

The company’s online catalog, powered by Zmags Verge, retains its almost one hundred year old reputation of providing personalized service and striking a lasting relationship with customers. The company managed to create lasting relationships by delivering top quality, sustainable and durable lifestyle and home décor products.

The Verve powered catalog, slick in design and optimized to provide the perfect medium showcase such strengths. The rich imagery that radiate the beauty of the products takes on from where the glossy print catalog left and even improves the experience for the consumer.

The catalog, instead of listing each item on stock, lists only a few products with bigger images, and a curative experience when the consumer browses the catalogue. The company merchandises the products exactly the way they want online shoppers to find them.

A preview tab allows the consumer to see the product coming up next, allowing them to delve into it or side step it to some other product.

The rich, in-depth, flexible and engaging experience offered by Zmags PartyLine catalog gels perfectly with at-home parties where the sales agent connects with the potential clients.

How can you use an online catalog to engage your customers?

Optimized Digital Catalogs Allow Brands to Position Themselves for the Holiday Season

One of the main reasons why digital catalogs have seen a surge in popularity is its ability to showcase products in its natural settings, while providing the consumer with rich insights without disrupting the navigation or the experience.

A catalog that exemplifies such ability is Joules Christmas Lookbook, developed by Zmags. Joules’ new Lookbook, for the winter shopping season, incorporate statement pieces, key looks and outfitting ideas that aims to showcase the wardrobe, and provides the consumer with a fresh flurry of styles, prints and gift ideas.

Joules Holiday Lookbook by Zmags

The catalog highlights the statement pieces in their natural setting. Each product has a tag attached to it, clicking on which will open a pop up that provides a better image of the product, brief product description, the ability to select the color, size and quantity and add the item to the shopping bag. The pop-up drills down to detailed product description, delivery options, information on exchanges, allows the consumer to share the product through various social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, and even send an email. All this is without disruption to the catalog navigation, which still remains at the same page, allowing the consumer to resume the shopping experience even after checkout and purchase.

An extensive yet unobtrusive top header menu allows the consumer to locate exactly what they look for and land at the relevant page directly. Alternatively, a footer popup provides a preview of the upcoming pages, providing the consumer with an insight as to what lies ahead even without leaving the current page, useful to make up your mind when browsing! A slide-bar attached to the popup allows for quick and direct navigation to the required page.

Needless to say, catalogs allows brands to position themselves in the best possible manner during this holiday season.

E-Retailers Made Merry During the Holiday Season

E-retailers expected increased sales during the peak holiday shopping days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and their expectations did come true.

e-retailers statistics 2012Among the top performers during the just concluded holiday season was CVS Caremark Corp, who recorded a 30% increase in traffic compared to the 2011 holiday season. Mobile commerce through tablets and smart phones accounted for a significant chunk of this increase, as evident from the 300% growth this segment enjoyed compared to the 2011 holiday season.

Many retailers wound up with more mobile traffic than expected. American Apparel Inc., for instance anticipated four times the mobile traffic from Cyber Monday 2011 and actually ended up with 20 times more traffic from tablets and smart phones.

Apart from the obvious reason of customers wanting to shop in comfort of their homes, avoiding holiday crowds at the streets and the brick and mortar shops, what made mobile ecommerce succeed this shopping season was many online retailers offering online only discounts.

The range of discounts offered by many online realtors this time extended to innovative and imaginative promotions that invoked the curiosity of the customers. This included, among other promotions, mobile-only “door buster” discounts early morning, “mispriced mystery products” that allowed shoppers to go on a treasure hunt, “FreeFall” offers where customers could buy as much as they wanted for a limited time frame during which time the prices kept on dropping. Many retailers also went aggressive with referral programs, offering gift coupons and discount vouchers to their customers who persuaded non-members to register and purchase from the e-retailer.

The increasing use of tablets for shopping also has a significant impact on when people did their shopping. The bulk of the mobile shopping was in the evening, and with mobile sales now a significant chunk of the total sales, the overall peak shopping period during this holiday season was between 8 P.M. and 11 P.M.

Overall, if you’re a retailer, you need to become an e-retailer to really compete in the space.

Insights Into Tablet and Smart Phone Commerce Gender Demographics

Tablets and smartphones are increasing their market penetration rates and have now become preferred digital touch points to make online purchases. However, an analysis of tablet and smartphone demographics reveals that the spurt in popularity is not uniform across all demographics.

Shopping on mobile deviceOverall, US mobile shopping data indicates that women purchase less than men do. This does not however mean that men shop more than women do! Women tend to use mobile touch points more for product research and deal savings than for actual shopping.

The demographic differences also extend to what people shop for, when using tablets and smartphones. More men purchase digital content, consumer electronics and entertainment tickets using tablets and smartphones, and they pay relatively high prices for these products. 30 percent of men purchase digital content as opposed to 20 percent of women, 27 percent of men purchase consumed electronics as opposed to just 8 percent of women and 23 percent of men purchase entertainment tickets as opposed to 11 percent of women.

Women, on the other hand are more inclined to use the tablet and smart phone to shop for apparel, shoes, accessories, and house related products. 56 percent of the women purchase these products compared to 41 percent of men. Women also tend to use more mobile coupons than men would. 44 percent of women used the mobile to access online coupons compared to 34 percent of men.

Overall, one out of every two males who use a mobile device for shopping will shop more using the device this year compared to the previous year whereas one out of every three women who use a mobile device for shopping will shop more using the device this year compared to the previous years.

Are you tailoring your experiences to attract both demographics?

Digital Catalogs Create Clickthroughs and Purchases for Retailers

More and more retailers are launching digital catalogs as the benefits of using these catalogs is becoming obvious. Nothing more exemplifies the popularity of digital catalogs than the fact that the Apple app store now has a separate category for catalogs.

Purchasing items in a digital catalog on a tabletEcommerce encourages a “search-find-buy” pattern where a customer will have to search for a product, locate it and make the purchase. This works well when people are looking to buy a specific product, but this is not how the bulk of retailing takes place in the real world. Leading retailers have traditionally encouraged their customers to discover their products and engage with the customer to provide them with a positive experience. The catalog is styled on a “discover-engage-buy” pattern, which relates more closely to what the customer wants.

The digital catalog provides viewers with an inspiring visual experience, educating them about the uses of the products and taking them through how they can best use the product on offer. Traditional paper-based catalogs has a big limitation in that even after providing such an experience, the customer had to break off and approach the retailer separately on their own. With digital catalogs now integrating the shopping cart, the retailer can hope to cash in the positive experience much better and faster.

Consumers spend about three to six minutes on average when browsing through a retailer’s website whereas they spend an average of 30 minutes on a digital catalog accessed through a tablet or a smart phone.

Digital catalogs simplify the online shopping process. Rather than wait painstakingly to input the search parameters, refine it repeatedly to identify the right product, all the while waiting multiple times for the browser to load and then use the keyboard to review and select the product, the digital catalogs allow completing the entire process with a few clicks of the mouse or a quick swipe of the finger.