Feb 12, 2015

Part 1: How to Identify your Most Valuable Consumers: Gaining Awareness by Leveraging Consumer Behavior to Define Consumers Value

GUEST POST: Ring in the New Year celebrating your best and most loyal consumers: 2015 work smart, sell more with this three-part guest blogger series focused on helping Amazon Webstore merchants identify their most valuable consumers (MVC’s), increase average shopping cart size, and learn how retention campaigns are the key to a successful marketing plan.

Today, merchants have the ability to get inside consumers’ heads and understand them like never before. Technology has unleashed the ability to better recognize how, when, where, and why consumers want to be engaged. Which means that brands can now leverage multidimensional avenues for collecting data that uncover shopping tendencies, purchase actions, loyalty triggers, and brand affinities.

The emergence of advanced consumer management, which is the ability to strategically track, measure and optimize consumer behavior, has empowered brands to effectively shift offerings and promotions in real-time as their consumer base engages and even disengages with the brand cross-channel.

Many Amazon Webstore merchants are laser-focused on just selling more products and acquiring new consumers, which isn’t in itself a bad goal at all. However, while you likely excel at attracting consumers who are purchasing a healthy volume of merchandise, you also need to ask, am I spending my marketing dollars on the right things? Acquiring new consumers critical to running a business, but what about your existing consumer base? How can you get more from what you’ve already worked so hard to build?

The reality is that you have tiers of consumers that all live within specific value segments. There are your new consumers that have just discovered your brand, repeat consumers who have shown some additional value, and then you have your loyal consumers, your super users. These are the consumers that advocate for your brand and come back time and time again as loyal customers and may even be evangelists that promote your brand to other consumers. These are the most coveted, top-line consumers who provide tremendous value to you as a merchant. So the real question is: How do you get more of your customer base to look like your MVCs?

The problem is that while most merchants understand the potential benefits of finding their most valuable consumers (MVC’s), many struggle to uncover them and often identify them based on a single dimension—the total spend. While total spend is important and reveals a straight-line view of the relative value a consumer provides, focusing on the transaction value of a consumer only delivers a narrow perspective and can easily exclude consumers who provide tremendous value on an array of other measurable dimensions.

Instead of focusing solely on how much each consumer spends, merchants have to start diversifying their perspective and definition of value and focus more on the details; what drives behavior, engagement, spend, advocacy, etc.

Here are four tips to use data to unlock hidden value of your existing consumer base:

  • Rather than focusing solely on spend, look for consumers that purchase a number of items in one checkout. Identifying items that are commonly purchased in tandem will help you direct your marketing efforts to consumers that may have only purchased one of those items and can help generate follow-up sales. Relevance is key.
  • Refer-a-friend capabilities: There is no stronger acquisition strategy than enabling a loyal consumer to endorse your brand. Offering loyalty points for referrals is a great way to encourage advocacy and evangelism.
  • Loyalty, rewards, and incentives must all be in your brand’s vocabulary. Without them there is no vehicle for collecting that coveted data that can identify and track your MVC’s.
  • Be smart about your incentives: Don’t just give discounts for the sake of giving discounts. Leverage historical data to know which segments respond to which discounts. Why give 20% off when 15% will do the trick?

Identifying your MVCs is a multidimensional approach that is easily achieved with a Consumer Management platform. This allows you to get a comprehensive view in order to uncover each segment of your consumers ultimately allowing you to determine what a successful consumer looks like. Without that knowledge, achieving genuine customer loyalty becomes nearly impossible. It’s your data…now put it to work!

Photo of guest blogger Jenna Flateman Posner

Jenna Flateman Posner is Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for Clutch, a leading provider of advanced Consumer Management, intelligence and loyalty solutions for many of the world’s premier brands. Click here to learn more about how Clutch’s loyalty integration for Amazon Webstore merchants can help grow your business. You can follow Jenna on Twitter @JFlateman and

Clutch @clutchsuccess.


Feb 10, 2015

How First My Family Survived a Zombie Apocalypse

Zombie survival kit

First My Family founder Andrew Torres spent nearly two decades counseling large tech companies on how to be ready if an emergency or crisis arose before hitting on a business idea; those very same people needed to know their families would stay safe during a disaster, too. First My Family, a line of 72-hour disaster preparedness kits, was born.

Then serendipity struck again when Andrew and his co-founder and wife, Angie, learned that the hit zombie show, AMC’s The Walking Dead, was in the market for a branded line of emergency kits. After negotiations with AMC, First My Family was chosen to create, market, and sell the product. On top of their new partnership, they were also seeing their sales of kits to corporate clients expand exponentially as well.

With this onslaught of an unknown quantity of business, First My Family needed an eCommerce solution that would allow them to evaluate demand, boost their website’s bandwidth to handle increased traffic, and offer the ability to fulfill orders in a customer service-driven fashion.

Read more about First My Family’s journey from mom-and-pop startup with just a few thousand dollars in yearly sales to becoming an established eCommerce business with sales in the mid-six figures in the First My Family case study, Harnessing the Power of Zombies.


Jan 30, 2015

Social Commerce: 4 Tips to Start Out Strong

Your eCommerce site is up and running, and sales are starting to hum. Congratulations! And now how about tackling the things you’ve been stalling on…like a social media strategy to reach additional customers where they hang out online?

We use the term social commerce to describe the process of generating buzz about a brand or product by posting original, free content on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest, and Instagram. Social commerce may drive traffic to your store directly or indirectly, and in some cases transactions may occur within the network.

However, the real focus of social commerce isn’t sales, it’s customer engagement, although sales is of course a worthy supporting goal. With so many platforms and practices to choose from in the social realm, where to start can be overwhelming.

To that end, here are our suggestions for initial steps to begin participating in social media, along with examples from Amazon Webstore sellers who’ve done it well.

Don’t worry at first about being the best or building an audience of thousands, instead get out there as best you can and start working on building your brand’s social identity. Let these words of Mark Twain be your guide: “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.”

1.   Ensure your eCommerce site is social-friendly

Before you create a presence on external social media sites, first make sure your eCommerce house is in order. Here are three social capabilities to include on your store:

  • Social media share buttons. Include buttons on your store pages that let customers link to your products in their social media posts.

    Amazon Webstore includes default buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest; others can be custom-engineered.


  • Product ratings and reviews. Enable customers to provide feedback on your products, and if possible respond to customer questions or comments right in the review thread. Social media is all about back-and-forth conversation.

    Martian Watches creates community on their Amazon Webstore by enabling product reviews.

  • Blog. Sure, blogs take a lot of work. But a well-maintained blog can be worth every bit of effort in the dividends it can pay back and the reach it can give even fledgling eCommerce sites.If you’re not quite ready to deal with blogging software like WordPress, why not create a PDF online newsletter? Even an occasional missive from your company can remind potential customers that you exist, drive sales, and up customer loyalty.

    Fit & Fresh does a fabulous job of providing useful information in their blog.

    2.   Create a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

    The list of social media platforms you could be on is large and ever-growing. But in the beginning we suggest you start with the biggest hitters. And Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are where the most people are.

    For each of these platforms, you’ll want to make sure your profile page reflects your store design by using the same or complementary images, logo usage, colors, fonts, and so on. Beyond that, here are some platform-specific suggestions:


    With 864 million daily active users in September 2014, according to their own numbers, Facebook is the king of all social media. You probably have a personal Facebook presence to keep up with friends and family, and it’s a business savvy idea to get your business on Facebook, too. To begin, check out their guidance for how eCommerce sellers can make the most of their Facebook pages. These two advertising options can have a big impact on traffic:

    • Facebook Ads. Create ads that appear in several different places on Facebook pages, including News Feed mobile, News Feed desktop, and the right column of Facebook.
    • Facebook Offers. Bring people to your business by creating an offer they can claim and share with their friends.


    Twitter has a great online guide to growing your business by tweets and bounds. These are some of our favorite tips:

    • Handle. Choose a Twitter handle that is short, sweet, and easy to search for. Don’t use underscores or symbols, which are hard to type.
    • Hashtag. Create clever, easy-to-remember hashtags for your brand or products, which customers can adopt to help you spread the word.
    • Integration. Connect your Twitter account to your Facebook page, blog, and store to leverage your multiplatform presence.
    • Media. Use an advertising feature called Twitter Cards to attach photos and videos to tweets. Rich media performs well on Twitter, so it’s a great way to drive traffic to your website.


    People from every walk of life turn to Pinterest for inspiration. Help meet that need by creating your own business account and generating themed boards of related products. Where should you start? The Pinterest guide for businesses, naturally.

    3.   Create content that engages rather than promotes.

    Once you’ve created a social media presence, the question is how to use it to connect with customers. While it’s OK to occasionally share info about special sales and new items, the bulk of your social content should provide value rather than promote you or your products. The material can take many forms, such as the following:

    • Informative videos. This is one of best ways to elicit interest and be helpful. For example, sewingmachine.com provides handy instructional videos on their Facebook page, with topics like Hooping Hats on Your PR Series Embroidery Machine. And check out this post for more ideas on how to use video effectively in eCommerce.
    • Contests, quizzes, and polls. Who doesn’t love to play? Use Twitter or Facebook to engage customers in fun activities with desirable rewards. Encourage discussion amongst customers by posing questions. While not a poll per se, Isaac Mizrahi’s series of “Awkward Gift Guide” holiday posts elicited lots of charming chatter, as with this entry.
    • Inspiring messages. Branding is all about generating positive feelings for your products and company. One great technique is to share a pithy quote or arresting image via social media. Try not to smile at this image from Lullaby Lane.
    • Customer content. Encourage customers to share photos of themselves using your products. When one man asked a clerk to hide an engagement ring in a box of candy from London-based Rococo Chocolates, it made for a perfect tweet (and rest assured, his fiancée said ‘yes’). Delight your customers by retweeting, sharing, and favoriting your favorites of their posts.
    • Announcements and offers. When you do use your social network for sales promos, give members an exclusive discount. They’ll thank you for it in their shopping carts! First My Family has used Facebook Offers to promote special deals like free shipping. And during the holidays, Stand Up to Cancer UK used their Facebook page to get the message out about a big 60% off promotion on branded apparel and merchandise.

    4.   Explore the use of Shoppost to enable Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest users to shop from in-stream posts.

    Last but not least, when you’re ready for an even bigger plunge into social commerce, consider using the social app from Zantler named Shoppost, which lets people purchase from you while they remain on their social media network. It’s the epitome of easy economy!

    Spiegel has started using Shoppost in association with their Amazon Webstore and Facebook and Twitter accounts. They appreciate how Shoppost streamlines the purchase process—which is especially important to younger customers—and how its metrics help them identify how much sharing comes from each platform. For more, check out this interview with Spiegel creative director Richard Lowe.

    Mostly, just remember that social media isn’t something to be afraid of. It’s a powerful tool that can help you build a loyal community of brand enthusiasts. Now get out there and get started!


Jan 22, 2015

How Fit & Fresh Found Personalized, Scalable eCommerce that Drove Significant Growth

Fit & Fresh has worked hard to bring their unique brand of healthy lifestyle food storage containers and solutions to the wholesale market. And they’ve had a lot of success, finding distribution in big box stores like Walmart, Staples, Walgreens, and Amazon. But with that achievement came the realization that they were ready to move into the direct-to-consumer marketplace. But how?

Fit & Fresh needed to find an eCommerce solution that would easily stretch to meet their unique needs. Their website traffic can explode in an instant because of targeted television appearances and sophisticated promotional campaigns.

On top of that, Fit & Fresh manages a slew of sub-brands that require a lot of customization. They needed an eCommerce platform that could easily handle on-the-fly modifications, fluctuating site traffic, and a fast-evolving marketplace with a minimal amount of management.

Read more about how Fit & Fresh have leveraged their existing wholesale business into a direct-to-consumers online marketplace that has tripled online orders in six months, doubled their YOY sales in 2014, and boosted their SEO traffic by 35% in the Fit & Fresh case study, Refreshing eCommerce.


Jan 16, 2015

How PowderHuffer.com Elevated Their eCommerce Sales Model

Skiers trekking across snow

PowderHuffer.com, a boutique online ski store at the forefront of the freeski products market, had a problem. While they were having a lot of success selling in the Amazon marketplace, the eCommerce platform they were employing on their own branded site wasn’t quite up to huff snuff. They needed a solution that would streamline their sales process to help them cut down expenses, eliminate hassles, and increase sales.

For PowderHuffer.com’s owner, Christon Horstman, it all came down to finding an eCommerce solution that could offer reliability, limit merchant processing liability, and lighten the burden on his employees so that they could focus on what they’re really good at: identifying the hottest new freeski gear and bringing it to market.

Find out more about PowderHuffer.com’s transition from a brick-and-mortar store to an exclusively online business, the thought processes behind the steps that they took, and the truly amazing way they were able to increase their sales by 50%, in the PowderHuffer.com case study, Taking Business to New Heights.


Dec 29, 2014
Lisa Marie

Lights, Camera, Conversions: 6 DIY Solutions for Increasing Sales with eCommerce Videos

Everyone knows that the value of a picture is worth a thousand words, but do you know how valuable a video can be? For eCommerce, the answer is priceless.

The great thing about eCommerce videos is you don’t have to guess about their effectiveness because you can easily tell exactly how many views they get. How many conversions they drive. How many new buyers they attract. And how much customers love you.

OK, maybe that’s going too far, but you get, ahem, the picture.

And the even better news is that, for sellers of all stripes and sizes, videos can reap incredible rewards. Just search “why include video in eCommerce” for some impressive stats on how adding videos to your site can up your visibility in search engines, humanize your online marketplace, motivate consumers, and up engagement on your website.

You don’t have to hire professional actors or Spielberg to create compelling videos that drive results. In fact, there are a lot of solutions for getting the impact of a video on a shoestring budget. Here are our six favorite types of eCommerce videos, along with tips on how to produce them simply but effectively.

1.   Product in action

Ah, the basic workhorse, the product video. Someone wearing a garment, taking a few steps, and twirling. A chef using a gadget. A gamer at play. A power drill at work.

Along with photos and text descriptions, product-in-action videos give shoppers essential info they need to make a purchase decision. But video trumps the other two in terms of making online shopping relatable and in forging an emotional bond with customers. Essentially, product-in-action videos allow customers to experience the products in a way that allows them to see how that product would fit into their own lives.

Any videos you put on your site need to be high-quality, but they don’t need to be fancy. Zappos helped to pioneer the art of using employees in product videos. It’s a persuasive (and cost-effective) approach, because “regular folk” can appear to provide more of a personal recommendation than a sales pitch.


It’s great if you have the budget for professional video production, but you absolutely  can do a terrific job on your own.

Regardless of who creates your videos, use a great camera and professional-level lighting, sound, and post-production. Show the item in close-up and from all angles. Keep the video short, from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. And wherever possible, include people in the videos, even if all you show is their hands.

2.   Product demos

In this type of video, you drill down to show how features work, how to assemble an item, and any other topic that reassures shoppers that, no problem, they can use the product with ease. Think infomercial in brief.

An Ultra Paws product demo video shows how to put on Rugged Dog Boots and includes training tips to help ensure you’re satisfied after the sale. It’s hard to resist the pull of cute dogs frolicking (a great example of video’s power to help you connect emotionally with customers).


Be sure to be friendly and authentic. Don’t just hold an item and wave it around, but instead actually use it. Feature real people in real settings, so shoppers can personally relate.

Naturally, any kind of product videos work well on product pages, but don’t hesitate to add them to section pages, search results pages, and blog posts as well, to really help capture your customer’s attention through every step of the sale’s funnel. And what about including links to videos in your email campaigns. According to the 2014 Digital Marketer Benchmark and Trend Report, email subject lines containing the word “video” get higher open rates and fewer unsubscribes than those without.

3.   Expert videos

Here you’re not trying to sell, per se, but instead position your brand as a helpful guide to tricks, techniques, and trends in your industry, such as how to apply makeup, how to rebuild a car, or just about anything that relates to the consumer group you are targeting.

The important thing is to include valuable, practical information.

Cost Plus World Market created a viral sensation with their series of videos on how to tie a scarf. What juicy info do you have to impart that would be equally compelling? Remember, you don’t have to “go viral,” instead the goal is to connect with an audience who could potentially be your future-consumers.


Naturally, the principle of sharing applies outside your site, too, for all types of eCommerce videos. Add them to your Facebook site or a dedicated YouTube channel. And encourage consumers to share your videos on Pinterest, Vine, Vimeo, Instagram, and any other social media site they frequent.

4.   Company intro videos

Once your videos start making their way in the world—both on your site and elsewhere—you’ll probably be driving a lot more traffic to your site. That’s in part because videos can help dramatically improve your SEO results, particularly when they’re embedded into web pages and not in pop-ups and include a transcript that can be “read” and indexed by search engines.

Greet visitors with company intro videos that give them a glimpse into your company vision and culture. Feature real employees in your offices or warehouses to give a behind-the-scenes feel. Help humanize the experience for your consumers.

On their About page, the men’s footwear site Greats has an irreverently charming but informative intro video featuring their two founders. Not only do we get a feel for what the company is about, but it also helps build our trust in the company.
Video buyers’ guides are another great way to spark sales and introduce shoppers to your brand and product lines. Gifts for grads, holiday shopping, award-winning educational toys, cool office supplies—the sky’s the limit.

REI has a great guide on how to fix a tire. They don’t suggest specific products, but you certainly could.


To make the most of this type of video, build special sales promotions around the products in your buyers guide like email campaigns, sales, or gift baskets.

6.   Testimonial videos

Our final type of eCommerce video is a marketing classic—the testimonial. And all we need to say about this is that sometimes it’s best to let your customers do all the talking.

Consider creating a special testimonials page on your site. A great example of this in action is the retail site Shutterfly. By using testimonial videos liberally in all your online marketing efforts. Seeing that other regular joe consumers have had a wonderful experience with your company and products can help your customers feel more confident in their decision to buy from you.


We love creating testimonial videos at Amazon Webstore, and invite you to check out this one and that one and the other one. If appropriate for your brand, include bloopers or casual repartee along with more straightforward talk.

You can produce the videos yourself as we’ve done, or invite customers to create their own. One idea is to run a contest on micro-video sites like Vine or Vimeo for the best testimonial videos and offer up a prize for the best submissions. Or explore the use of a tool like Storybox to embed technology into your pages that makes it easy for customers to post testimonials.

And a few technical tips…

At the outset, be sure to optimize your videos for SEO. Mark video appropriately, and update your video sitemap. Make use of video transcription sites  to make certain the search engines can index the ideas in your videos.

Test your videos to make sure they work seamlessly on a variety of browsers and devices. Your videos won’t achieve any of your sales or marketing goals if they don’t load properly.

Once your videos are up and running, be sure to monitor video metrics—not just the number of views, but also how long they’re watched, how many comments or shares they receive, where video watchers move after watching the video, and how many conversions they drive. Because you can make the most of the power of video by enhancing it with the thoughtful use of data used early and often.

Most importantly, just remember that you know your product the best. Think about ways that you can leverage that knowledge into videos that connect with your consumers, engender trust, and help drive sales.




Sep 5, 2014
Zoey Collier

Amazon Webstore Review: Bandai Namco Games

Bandai and NAMCO, both entertainment companies, combined and enhanced through the new BANDAI NAMCO Games. With a new level of sophistication in entertainment, BANDAI NAMCO Games’ mission is to inspire people around the world and help them enjoy their gaming time to the fullest. BANDAI NAMCO Games moves forward with an unrelentingly passion to take on new challenges as it aims to become the world’s most admired video game maker.

Company Name: Bandai NAMCO Games

URL: http://www.bandainamcogamesstore.com/

Solution Provider: Explore Consulting

Type of Products: Video games

With aggressive goals and timelines to transition from their existing platform, Bandai NAMCO Games worked closely with Explore Consulting teams to ensure Amazon Webstore was the best fit for their business. Explore Consulting worked to understand their business needs and built a custom solution that is both technically complex and visually striking. Additional features include: multi-level cart interactions, custom content display, gated age-appropriate limitations, pre-orders, and support for multiple console platforms including digital fulfillment of Steam Key purchases.

“Under a tight deadline with specific needs for re-launching our online store, we turned to Explore Consulting to help us with our Amazon Webstore site. They captured our vision for the new store design and functionality, provided constant communication, and managed the project with a high degree of professionalism. Working with Explore Consulting has been a wonderful experience and we look forward our continued partnership with them.” – Abelina V., Ecommerce Specialist & Laura Y., Director of Channel Marketing


Sep 5, 2014
Zoey Collier

Tips for Holiday Flash Sales Success

The holidays are the most wonderful time of the year for both shoppers and retailers. With the continued growth in online shopping, it’s important to start building holiday strategies now.

Cyber Monday, Black Friday, and even Free Shipping day are all among the top holiday shopping days of the year. One way to make the most of these “shop-idays” is to tap into one of the hottest trends in eCommerce by creating secondary sites to support or extend your already successful brand.

  • Flash Sales for short-term inventory liquidation, e.g., to make room for new products.
  • Outlet stores offering discounted products that may be out of season or discontinued.
  • Specialty brand sites that target specific new audiences or launch new product lines

With Amazon Webstore creating a fully customizable secondary site is quick and easy. From a simple countdown timer to a password protected secondary site for loyal shoppers, Amazon Webstore can meet your needs.

Here are a few benefits of starting holiday planning now:

  • Search engine ranking –The sooner you stand up your site, the more time search engines have to crawl and rank your site.
  • Brand awareness – It’s never too early to build your list. Promoting flash sales now can also help avoid getting lost among other similar offers.
  • Time-sensitive sales – The holiday season is a great time to liquidate short-term inventory. Starting now will enable you to plan and schedule these flash sales with ease.

Here’s what other Amazon Webstore sellers are doing:

Home & Cook hired a third-party Solution Provider, Atmosol, to build a flash sale site for a Good Morning America featured promotion. The countdown timer coupled with exclusive password allowed Good Morning America viewers to take advantage of the special promotion without a hitch.

Building and launching a complete flash sales site in record time is easy with Amazon Webstore. Download this case study to discover how one seller drove $7.5M of additional revenue in a five-day holiday flash sale with Amazon Webstore.


Sep 4, 2014
Zoey Collier

Amazon Webstore Review: BORSAbag

This post is part of a series reviewing new sites launched on Amazon Webstore.

It all started with a beautiful leather handbag and some rain in New York City. Stemming from the need to protect the leather from getting wet, the idea of BORSAbag was born. BORSAbag’s unique and stylish design aims to equip customers with a quick and easy way to protect their handbags.

Company Name: BORSAbag

URL: http://www.borsabag.com

Type of Products: Totes and travel luggage

There are a few things we like about the new site:

  • Simple elegance. The site is simple, yet elegant. The white on grey background keeps shoppers laser focused on the content. We also really like the simplicity of the navigation: how it works, how to order, and testimonials.
  • Colorful hero images. The colorful, in-use product images displayed on the homepage are a great way to showcase the various styles of BORSAbag. The colors pop and the images capture your interest.
  • Amazon Wish list. BORSAbag includes the “add to Amazon wish list” option on every product listing. This gives customers the ability to add product links and comments to the highly used and visible Amazon Wish Lists and Registries – a great way to potentially drive traffic to your site!

“Choosing Amazon Webstore was easy and essential to me because I want my products available worldwide. Doing business online is the most convenient, cost-effective, and quick way to introduce my products to everyone.” – Diane P., Founder of BORSAbag



Aug 5, 2014
Zoey Collier

How Cold One Made eCommerce Efficient with Amazon Webstore

Cold One, a leading brand of compression ice wraps for treating muscle injuries, suffered a serious drop in revenue at the outset of the 2008 global economic downtown. Costs related to both their eCommerce site and physical infrastructure hindered their ability to recover.

In 2011, as an act of survival, Cold One completely changed its structure by moving its online presence to Amazon Webstore and integrating Amazon’s Fulfillment by Amazon services. This decision enabled Cold One to unload its expensive warehouse, improve management visibility into company finances, and ultimately increase revenue while reducing expenses.

Today Cold One is experiencing growth in sales worldwide, managing expenses for greater efficiencies, and enjoying a far healthier bottom line than even before the economic downturn.

“Now that it’s all in place, with the implementation we’ve got — by letting Amazon manage almost all of our entire business — I just couldn’t be happier with the decision.” – Rob Goodwin, CEO and Founder, Two Cool, Inc.

Watch this video to see how Cold One made eCommerce efficient with Amazon Webstore.

Download the full case study here.