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U.S. sues Amazon in a monopoly case that could be existential for the retail giant
Amazon delivery trucks are parked in Richmond, Calif., on June 21. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images hide caption
Amazon delivery trucks are parked in Richmond, Calif., on June 21.
U.S. regulators and 17 states sued Amazon on Tuesday in a pivotal case that could prove existential for the retail giant.
In the sweeping antitrust lawsuit , the Federal Trade Commission and a bipartisan group of state attorneys general paint Amazon as a monopolist that suffocates competitors and raises costs for both sellers and shoppers.
The FTC, tasked with protecting U.S. consumers and market competition, argues that Amazon punishes sellers for offering lower prices elsewhere on the internet and pressures them into paying for Amazon's delivery network.
"Amazon is a monopolist and it is exploiting its monopolies in ways that leave shoppers and sellers paying more for worse service," FTC Chair Lina Khan told reporters on Tuesday.
"In a competitive world, a monopoly hiking prices and degrading service would create an opening for rivals and potential rivals to ... grow and compete," she said. "But Amazon's unlawful monopolistic strategy has closed off that possibility, and the public is paying dearly as a result."
FTC sues Amazon for 'tricking and trapping' people in Prime subscriptions
Amazon, in a statement, argued that the FTC's lawsuit "radically departed" from the agency's mission to protect consumers, going after business practices that, in fact, spurred competition and gave shoppers and sellers more and better options.
"If the FTC gets its way," Amazon General Counsel David Zapolsky wrote in a post , "the result would be fewer products to choose from, higher prices, slower deliveries for consumers, and reduced options for small businesses—the opposite of what antitrust law is designed to do."
Broadly, Tuesday's case escalates a long-running criticism of Amazon: It both owns the online platform that many sellers use to reach shoppers, and it sells products on that very same platform. What's more, it owns the shipping and delivery network that everyone on the platform is incentivized to use.
Around 60% of items purchased on Amazon are sold by third-party sellers, company executives have said. The FTC says Amazon's fees are so high that sellers effectively keep only half of what they make on the platform.
Lina Khan is taking swings at Big Tech as FTC chair, and changing how it does business
The federal lawsuit did not immediately seek a breakup of the retail giant. Instead, the FTC and states are asking the court for a permanent injunction, although this could change down the road. The case, filed in federal court in Amazon's hometown of Seattle, is expected to play out over several years.
FTC leader has focused on Amazon for years
Though Amazon's growth has slowed, it's the most popular online store in the U.S., capturing over 40% or more of all online shopping, according to private and government research. About two-thirds of U.S. adults are members of Amazon's subscription service, Prime, as estimated by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.
Amazon has built up one of the largest delivery companies in the U.S. with a web of warehouses, air hubs and trucking operations that ship more packages than FedEx . It has also ventured into healthcare , home security, filmmaking and other fields — becoming one of the world's most valuable corporations, worth $1.3 trillion.
United States takes on Google in biggest tech monopoly trial of 21st century
Amazon's extensive reach and sway have long worried FTC Chair Khan. She rose to prominence as a law student in 2017, when she published " Amazon's Antitrust Paradox ." The paper argued that the tech giant was anti-competitive even as it gave consumers lower prices and concluded that the company should be broken up.
Later, as Democratic counsel for the House Judiciary Committee's antitrust panel in 2020, Khan helped write a 449-page report that called for "structural separations" of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. They "have become the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons," the report said.
Big Tech's power at heart of lawsuits
Indeed, the FTC's new lawsuit against Amazon could stack alongside some of the most highest-profile federal antitrust cases, including Standard Oil more than a century ago, Microsoft three decades ago, or Google most recently. (Its domination of the search-engine market is the subject of a trial playing out in federal court right now.)
The FTC previously sued Amazon in June in federal court in Seattle. The agency alleged the company for years "tricked" people into buying Prime memberships that were purposefully complicated to cancel. An update to the suit specifically named three Amazon executives and disclosed their internal interactions with employees who had raised concerns.
Planet money on antitrust: the paradox.
The company this year also paid more than $30 million to settle two other FTC lawsuits , which alleged that Amazon failed to delete data on children's conversations with voice assistant Alexa, and that its employees monitored customers' Ring camera recordings without consent.
As FTC chair, Khan positioned herself as an aggressive regulator, unafraid to challenge companies in court and undeterred by the prospect of some losses.
Indeed, the FTC this year lost a lawsuit against Facebook parent Meta over its acquisition of virtual reality company Within Unlimited, and later struck out on its attempt to block Microsoft's purchase of videogame company Activision Blizzard.
Amazon has tried, without success, to have Khan recused from FTC cases about the company. A review, disclosed in a footnote of an internal FTC memo , found no federal ethics grounds to prevent Khan from participating in cases related to Amazon.
NPR's Dara Kerr contributed to this report.
Editor's note: Amazon is among NPR's financial supporters and pays to distribute some of our content.
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FTC Sues Amazon for Illegally Maintaining Monopoly Power
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The Federal Trade Commission and 17 state attorneys general today sued Amazon.com, Inc. alleging that the online retail and technology company is a monopolist that uses a set of interlocking anticompetitive and unfair strategies to illegally maintain its monopoly power. The FTC and its state partners say Amazon’s actions allow it to stop rivals and sellers from lowering prices, degrade quality for shoppers, overcharge sellers, stifle innovation, and prevent rivals from fairly competing against Amazon.
The complaint alleges that Amazon violates the law not because it is big, but because it engages in a course of exclusionary conduct that prevents current competitors from growing and new competitors from emerging. By stifling competition on price, product selection, quality, and by preventing its current or future rivals from attracting a critical mass of shoppers and sellers, Amazon ensures that no current or future rival can threaten its dominance. Amazon’s far-reaching schemes impact hundreds of billions of dollars in retail sales every year, touch hundreds of thousands of products sold by businesses big and small and affect over a hundred million shoppers.
“Our complaint lays out how Amazon has used a set of punitive and coercive tactics to unlawfully maintain its monopolies,” said FTC Chair Lina M. Khan. “The complaint sets forth detailed allegations noting how Amazon is now exploiting its monopoly power to enrich itself while raising prices and degrading service for the tens of millions of American families who shop on its platform and the hundreds of thousands of businesses that rely on Amazon to reach them. Today’s lawsuit seeks to hold Amazon to account for these monopolistic practices and restore the lost promise of free and fair competition.”
“We’re bringing this case because Amazon’s illegal conduct has stifled competition across a huge swath of the online economy. Amazon is a monopolist that uses its power to hike prices on American shoppers and charge sky-high fees on hundreds of thousands of online sellers,” said John Newman, Deputy Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition. “Seldom in the history of U.S. antitrust law has one case had the potential to do so much good for so many people.”
The FTC and states allege Amazon’s anticompetitive conduct occurs in two markets—the online superstore market that serves shoppers and the market for online marketplace services purchased by sellers. These tactics include:
- Anti-discounting measures that punish sellers and deter other online retailers from offering prices lower than Amazon, keeping prices higher for products across the internet. For example, if Amazon discovers that a seller is offering lower-priced goods elsewhere, Amazon can bury discounting sellers so far down in Amazon’s search results that they become effectively invisible.
- Conditioning sellers’ ability to obtain “Prime” eligibility for their products—a virtual necessity for doing business on Amazon—on sellers using Amazon’s costly fulfillment service, which has made it substantially more expensive for sellers on Amazon to also offer their products on other platforms. This unlawful coercion has in turn limited competitors’ ability to effectively compete against Amazon.
Amazon’s illegal, exclusionary conduct makes it impossible for competitors to gain a foothold. With its amassed power across both the online superstore market and online marketplace services market, Amazon extracts enormous monopoly rents from everyone within its reach. This includes:
- Degrading the customer experience by replacing relevant, organic search results with paid advertisements—and deliberately increasing junk ads that worsen search quality and frustrate both shoppers seeking products and sellers who are promised a return on their advertising purchase.
- Biasing Amazon’s search results to preference Amazon’s own products over ones that Amazon knows are of better quality.
- Charging costly fees on the hundreds of thousands of sellers that currently have no choice but to rely on Amazon to stay in business. These fees range from a monthly fee sellers must pay for each item sold, to advertising fees that have become virtually necessary for sellers to do business. Combined, all of these fees force many sellers to pay close to 50% of their total revenues to Amazon. These fees harm not only sellers but also shoppers, who pay increased prices for thousands of products sold on or off Amazon.
The FTC, along with its state partners, are seeking a permanent injunction in federal court that would prohibit Amazon from engaging in its unlawful conduct and pry loose Amazon’s monopolistic control to restore competition.
Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin joined the Commission’s lawsuit. The Commission vote to authorize staff to file for a permanent injunction and other equitable relief in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington was 3-0.
NOTE: The Commission issues a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest.
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9 Case Studies That Prove Experiential Retail Is The Future
Table of Contents
What is a pop-up shop? Everything you need to know to try short-term retail > 23 Smart Pop-Up Shop Ideas to Steal From These Successful Brands > 9 Case Studies That Prove Experiential Retail Is The Future
What is experiential retail, and how can experiential retail benefit your business?
Experiential retail is a term used to define a type of retailing that aims to provide customers with a unique and memorable experience. Experiential retail is typically characterized by one or more of the following features: the use of unique and interesting spaces, objects, or experiences; high levels of customer engagement; and the use of technology to enhance customer interactions.
One key aspect of experiential retail is the ability to create an attractive and welcoming environment for staff and customers alike. This can be achieved through a combination of factors, including good design, cleanliness, and lighting . Another important factor is how well the store reflects its brand identity.
Although there are many different types of experiential retail outlets, they all share certain common elements: they are designed to provide a memorable experience for their customers; they are focused on creating an enjoyable atmosphere for staff members as well as the public; they offer an appealing mix of products and services, and they use technology to enhance customer interactions.
Finally, experiential retail is not just about selling products or services. It is also about building strong relationships with customers that go beyond transactions.
Experiential retail is the future. For years we’ve heard about the decline of physical retail and the rise of the internet. However, the desire for retail experiences is on the rise with 52% millennials saying of their spending goes on experience-related purchases. This introduces the concept of ‘retailtainment’.
Because of this, retailers have evolved their offerings. By focusing on so-called ‘ retailtainment’ and immersive retail experiences, brands are able to provide customers with fun, unique and in-person experiences that elevate shopping to new heights.
With retailtainment, the retail industry is shifting attention from a features-and-benefits approach to a focus on immersive shopping and customer experience . To be successful, retailers must offer consumers a desirable retail experience that in turn drives sales.
What is meant by Retailtainment?
The term “retailtainment” is used to describe the trend of retailers using entertainment to attract customers and encourage them to spend more time – and money – in their stores. This can take the form of in-store events, interactive displays, and even simply providing a comfortable and enjoyable environment for customers to shop in. The goal of retailtainment is to create a unique and memorable shopping experience that will keep customers coming back.
With the rise of online shopping and brick-and-mortar retailers have to work harder than ever to compete. By offering an enjoyable and entertaining shopping experience, retailers can attract customers who are looking for more than just a transaction. Retailtainment can be a powerful tool to build customer loyalty and drive sales.
How does retailtainment fit in today’s retail experiential strategy?
As shoppers’ expectations become more demanding, retailers are turning to retailtainment to create a more engaging and memorable shopping experience. By incorporating elements of entertainment into the retail environment, retailers can create a unique and differentiated customer experience that will help them stand out from the competition.
There are a number of ways that retailtainment can be used to improve the customer experience. For example, retailers can use interactive technology to create an immersive shopping experience that engages shoppers on a personal level. Additionally, retailers can use entertainment to add excitement and energy to their store environment, making it more inviting and enjoyable for shoppers.
Ultimately, retailtainment can play a key role in helping retailers create a customer experience that is unique, differentiated, and memorable.
What is the difference between retailtainment and experiential retail?
Both retailtainment and experiential retail are designed to make the shopping experience more enjoyable and engaging. However, experiential retail goes a step further by creating an emotional connection with customers. This emotional connection can lead to brand loyalty and repeat business.
Thus, while both retailtainment and experiential retail are important trends in the retail industry, experiential retail is more focused on creating a lasting impression and emotional connection with customers.
Here are our 8 favorite examples of Experiential Retail and retailtainment in action:
Marvel: Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N provides fans with interactive brand building experience
The Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. is an immersive exhibit that has toured the world since the first Avengers film. It has appeared in key retail areas such as New York Seoul Paris , Beijing, London and Las Vegas, and always pulls in huge crowds. Based on the global box-office film franchise, Marvel’s The Avengers, the store features real life movie props and interactive displays.
There are Marvel-branded items for sale but the goal of the project is not to shift T-shirts and mugs. It is about delivering an in-person experience to fans and bringing the brand to life.
The Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. is a great example of retailtainment and experiential retail in action. Visitors are fully immersed in the fictional world they adore, further cementing their affiliation and love for the Marvel brand.
For a brand as strong and iconic as Marvel, it would be easy to sit back and take popularity for granted. However, through the use of retailtainment they are continuing to delight their customers beyond the screen.
Farfetch: Creating a retail experience of the future
Image via Bloomberg
Farfetch is as an e-commerce portal for luxury boutiques. It’s successfully positioned itself as a technology provider for brands; combining technology and fashion to provide unique in-store experiences.
José Neves, CEO of Farfetch, has spoken about his concern that physical retail is diminishing; it accounts for 93 per cent of sales today, but by 2025 is predicted to account for just 80 per cent.
Enter: Farfetch’s Augmented Retail Solution
Neves’ vision for retailtainment includes advancements in technology to make the consumer experience more human. He produced Farfetch’s Store of the Future, an augmented retail solution that “links the online and offline worlds, using data to enhance the retail experience.” In its retail store in London, Farfetch provided connected clothing racks, touch-screen-enhanced mirrors and sign-in stations that pulled data collected online to use in-store.
Farfetch provided customers with a sign-in screen to search their purchase history and wish list, which provided valuable customer insight for the sales assistants. There was also a smart mirror to request different sizes, alternative products or pay without leaving the dressing room.
This innovation led them to be labeled as “ The Retailer of the Future ”, allowing customers to enjoy an effortless in-person experience that harmonizes the best parts of boutique shopping with the speed and convenience of online shopping.
Read More: Excess Inventory Post-Holiday? Open a Pop-Up Shop
Huda Beauty: Cosmic experience in Covent Garden
Huda Beauty , one of the world’s fastest-growing beauty brands, ran an immersive retail experience pop-up store right in the centre of Covent Garden, London, to launch a new product range and reach new customers.
Huda used the location ( sourced by Storefront pop up space rental ) to deliver a sci-fi themed experience in support of their new eye-shadow palette Mercury Retrograde.
The entire exterior of the pop-up resembled a multi-faceted, metallic mass of geometrical shapes. This was echoed inside with various ‘galactic’ elements, all manner of mirrored surfaces and shimmering fixtures and elements.
As part of the event, visitors could sit on the throne Huda used in her launch material, all set up to encourage as much social media activity and engagement as possible.
Huda Beauty caught the eye and wowed its visitors. Introducing a whole swathe of new customers to the Huda Beauty brand.
Read More: 4 Beauty Brands Who Successfully Launched A Pop-Up Store
Vans: A shopping experience to remember
Image via Skateparks
The House of Vans in London lives up to the company motto of being “off the wall”. A location where art, music, BMX, street culture and fashion converge, you can find almost everything you can imagine across the 30,000 square feet building. Amongst a cinema, café, live music venue and art gallery, the bottom floor holds the most unique feature of the building: the concrete ramp, mini ramp and street course.
Nothing better epitomizes the Vans brand than a space where young people can not only shop but spontaneously socialize. The House of Vans is the perfect example of how experiential retail can be used to empower a shopping experience.
Read More: How The Music Industry Is Making The Most of Pop-Up Stores
Ikea: Using social media to power a unique retail experience
Ikea brought 100 Facebook competition winners to one of its warehouses and let them stay the night. They were able to select the mattress, sheets and pillows to fully give them a fully tailored experience. A sleep expert was on hand with tips for getting a good night’s rest, including how to find the perfect mattress for any sleeping style.
This was a clever and unique way to obtain visibility and get fans to focus on what Ikea has to offer and try it out for themselves.
This idea came from understanding their consumer insights on social media. Lois Blenkinsop, Ikea’s U.K. PR and internal communications manager, said: “Social media has opened up a unique platform for us to interact directly with our customers. Listening to what they want is what we do best, and the Big Sleepover is just one example of how we’re using such instant and open feedback to better inform our marketing activity.”
From using social media they were able to apply experiential marketing to their retail strategy and provide their customers with a memorable event that brought the brand a ton of visibility and engagement.
Space Ninety 8: showcasing the art of retailtainment
Image via @Space90
As a spin-off from Urban Outfitters, Space Ninety 8 is a shared retail space that spans 5 floors, hosting retailers, galleries and even a rooftop restaurant and bar.
Scanning their Instagram, you can see the variety of what Space Ninety 8 offers beyond solely retail. Advertised next to yoga classes is an album signing by Big Boi, alongside pictures of art classes and Lady GaGa merchandise. By reflecting the flexible nature of modern life, the brand created a versatile store that emphasizes experience, perfecting the art of retailtainment.
TOMS: creating an immersive experience through VR
Experiences don’t have to be a permanent feature of a store in order to make an impact on customers. In 2015 TOMS’ placed VR headsets into 100 stores, enabling them to virtually transport players to Peru to see the impact of their One for One giving campaign on local people.
As you walk through the village stores with locals smiling and waving at you, it is impossible not to feel warmed by the friendly atmosphere. Not only did this retail experience improve awareness of their social corporate responsibility and promote their giving campaign, it also gave customers an unforgettable and immersive experience they were unlikely to forget.
[Check out Toms’ continued focus on immersive retail experiences here]
How to Provide Retailtainment that Drives Traffic and Sales
These case studies all stress the importance of providing an in-store experience. By exceeding expectations you drive emotional reactions. There are five consistent elements each use in their stores to ensure a remarkable customer shopping experience:
- Interactiveness: All of these retailers ensure that the senses are connected – memories of what we feel, hear, see, smell, and touch, may last a lifetime.
- Originality: These ideas were all authentic and natural, making the customer feel as if they entered a different world.
- Connectedness: Customers must feel that the experience has been created for them.
- Unexpectedness: These unique experiences are critical to ensure your brand is remembered.
- Reliability: The experience is executed through tested methods to achieve consistency and excellence.
The future of experiential retail
As the world of retail continues to evolve, so too must the way brands create memorable experiences for their customers. With the rise of digital and mobile technologies, consumers now have more choices than ever before when it comes to how they shop and what they buy. To stay ahead of the curve, brands must find new and innovative ways to engage with their customers and create unforgettable shopping experiences.
One way to do this is through experiential retail – using physical spaces to create immersive, one-of-a-kind experiences that cannot be replicated online. This could involve anything from in-store events and workshops to augmented reality and virtual reality experiences.
Experiential marketing isn’t about spending millions on fancy gadgets for your retail store. Sure it can help, but it’s mostly about a personalized shopping experience and providing an unparalleled retail experience for your guests and customers. The brands that delight their customers are the brands that drive loyalty and advocacy. Couple this with excellent customer service and you’re on to a winner. These case studies all demonstrate how it is possible to follow similar steps to overcome the challenges eCommerce has brought.
The brands that use their physical stores to focus on the customer experience are the brands that will do the best. The dynamic between physical and online retail has shifted and the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic has only accentuated this.
Planning your own experiential retail project and need some help? Drop us a note and we’ll help you out.
For more on launching temporary retail stores and one-off events, download our Ultimate Pop-Up Guide and make your ideas happen.
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19 Ecommerce Case Studies You Need To Steal From
You’ve heard it before - always be testing.
But if you’re running an eCommerce business then the tasks of analyzing your site data and identifying leaks in the funnel usually get pushed to the bottom of your to-do list. Let's face it, you’ve got 97 other things you SHOULD be doing today.
So with that in mind, we've pulled together the following 19 real-world eCommerce lessons to help you cut straight to the chase in implementing some simple solutions to increase your online sales.
The ultimate growth marketing playbook
The exact 41 strategies we used to grow from 4-figure to 6-figure traffic in one year.
Send me the guide
In a hurry? Here are some eCommerce studies you need to steal from:
- How to improve Conversion: Envelopes.com achieve 40%
- How to improve Communication: Budapester increased mobile conversion by 29%
- Make small changes: Edible Arrangements increases same-day sales by 8%
- Make product benefits clear: Amerisleep increased checkouts by 13.9%
- Reduce website friction: Company Folders increase conversion by 68%
- Try cross selling products: Furniture retailer increased its AOV by 4.6% in 41 days
- Reduce clutter and distractions: Taloon.com ditched social buttons
- Use influencers to reach customers: Gwynnie Bee saw 5.85% CTR from Youtube influencer
- Reduce risk of purchase: Express Watches provides authenticity stamp
- Use events to drive sales: eCommerce companies saw a 27% spike during football world cup
- Remove distractions: Underwater Audio bump sales by 41%
- Get customers to take the next step: Kettlebell Kings’s takes advantage of user generated content to drive sales
- Use comparison data: Paperstone took out their competition with data
- Test and measure results: MVMT generated $90M in revenue in five years
- Find alternate channels: ECCO Shoes decreased customer acquisition costs by 14%
- Move past the product: Away generated $125M by standing out
- Drive inbound through content marketing: Bavarian Clockworks reached $1m in sales
- Build loyal engaged followers: Frank Body hit $20M in annual sales
- Be relevant to your customers: Society Socks improved survey response rate by 200%
Save this guide: 19 eCommerce case studies
Learn from these 19 eCommerce case studies to see what problems they identified and how they implemented simple solutions to increase sales.
Send me the guide
[eCommerce case study #1] How to improve Conversion: Envelopes.com achieve 40%
A common eCommerce problem is prospects exiting the page before completing their order. As consumers, we've all done it before. So the team at Envelopes.com wanted to see if they could “rekindle the flame” and land some sales from hot leads using target followups. These are visitors who created an account and put an item in their shopping cart, so we can see some real intent to purchase at some stage down the track.
The Envelopes.com team were confident that sending targeted follow-up emails generally resulted in sales but weren’t sure of the best timeframe to send them. So they tested out email sends at two alternate time lapses post cart abandonment; the first group sent the following morning at 11 a.m. and the second group 48 hours post cart abandonment.
The emails sent at 11 a.m. the following day delivered:
- an open rate of 38.63%
- a click-through rate of 19.54% and
- a conversion rate to a sale of 27.66%
The emails sent after 48 hours delivered:
- an open rate of 38.01%
- a click-through rate of 24.71% and
- a conversion rate of 40.00%
Although sending these emails on the following day post cart abandonment had a slightly higher open rate, the most important figure, conversion to sale was significantly lower.
Take home message
Send a follow-up email to people who abandon their carts, if you’re not already doing it. Though Envelopes.com found that 48hrs later was the best performing time, a different cadence and time lag may work better with your customer base, so test out multiple alternatives. If you're looking for some assistance on the creative messaging front, we have included the exact email creative used by Envelopes.com here:
(Envelopes.com Reminder Email 1)
(Envelopes.com Reminder Email 2)
(Envelopes.com Reminder Email 3)
[eCommerce case study #2] How to improve Communication: Budapester increased mobile conversion by 29%
As anyone in the eCommerce realm can attest to, it can be pretty disheartening when a major influx in traffic doesn’t lead to an equally major spike in sales.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened to German luxury fashion retailer Budapester a few years back.
Astoundingly, the brand’s website had been seeing hundreds of thousands of visitors each month—but its conversion rates were absolutely abysmal. The problem was even worse on mobile, where Budapester’s conversion rate was less than half that of its desktop alternative.
Upon realizing something needed to be done, the company’s first order of business was to communicate its unique selling propositions and other offers and policies more clearly to its visitors. This meant displaying information regarding free delivery, shipping options , and product availability prominently within its individual product pages:
(Budapester website | Source )
Along with this, Budapester also tweaked its site’s header—specifically, decreasing the logo’s size, and adding the above-mentioned info at the very top of the page. Again, this made it much easier for visitors to learn about these policies and offers right away.
Finally, the team also tweaked the appearance of its shopping cart page. From this...
( Source | Budapester shopping cart – Before)
( Source | Budapester shopping cart - After)
Once more, the above information is now prominently displayed to the consumer—this time in two ways. In addition to the change to the header, the website now displays the company’s offer for free shipping in a green font that stands out at the bottom of the screen.
The end result of Budapester’s efforts, as Growcode explains :
“Its overall conversion rate increased by 12.5%, with its mobile conversion rate going up by nearly 30%. All in all, this equated to an additional 120,000€.”
There are three main lessons to take away, here:
Firstly, it’s essential that you communicate your value to your potential customers in a clear and concise manner. If you offer something of value—say, free shipping on orders over $100—but you don’t tell your visitors about it...how are they supposed to know?
On the other side of this, you want to avoid including redundant or unnecessary information anywhere on your eCommerce website. Not only might this be distracting to your visitors, but it also takes up physical space on your site that could have been put to better use.
Finally, it’s worth pointing out that optimizing your site might not mean you need to do a complete overhaul. As was the case with Budapester, a few tiny, seemingly insignificant tweaks can be all your site needs to start generating a massive amount of conversions.
[eCommerce case study#3] Make small changes: Edible Arrangements increases same-day sales by 8%
Edible Arrangements had a fairly typical marketing challenge . They offer customers a same-day delivery option (and have done so for years) but people weren’t taking advantage of the offer because they didn’t know about it.
To educate customers about this option they significantly increased visibility with a large banner in an extremely prominent position on the homepage, just below the navigation bar. This created urgency around the offer by featuring a countdown timer to the deadline for same day delivery. It was impossible to miss or misunderstand.
(Edible Arrangements website)
The result of this simple countdown feature? An increase in same-day sales by 8% !
You don’t need a new product to promote something. People might not know about a product or service you already have in play, so by increasing visibility to your existing audience, you may be able to snap up some quick wins. As a side note on this particular example, creating some urgency is always a good sales strategy. Encourage your audience to act now, instead of later (or never).
[eCommerce case study #4] Make product benefits clear: Amerisleep increased checkouts by 13.9%
Online mattress retailer Amerisleep had a problem that was quite similar to Budapester’s:
The company was seeing a ton of traffic on its website, but its conversion rates were nowhere near where the team would have liked them to be.
However, with the help of Growth Rock , Amerisleep decided to take a different approach to improving its website:
Rather than adding or deleting certain information, the team decided to focus on improving the messaging of the site’s copy—in a few ways.
First, the team dug deeper into the true benefits their products provide their customers. In Amerisleep’s case, this meant going beyond promising “a good night’s sleep,” and instead focusing on how getting a good night’s sleep every night can be absolutely life-changing.
(What would you do with more energy and less pain? | Source )
Secondly, the team aimed to reduce hesitation among its visitors by addressing the importance of immediate action. Rather than discussing the above benefits in a more hypothetical manner, the site’s copy was adjusted to address the idea that every night spent tossing and turning is another night visitors will never get back.
Lastly, the team tweaked some rather ambiguous copy comparing Amerisleep’s products to its competitors’ and made it more clear.
Originally, the website had made claims such as “No mattress is more carefully engineered.” The problem, here, is that this could be interpreted as “No mattress is more carefully engineered—but many are engineered equally as carefully as ours.”
The new copy read:
“Our innovative and proprietary materials let us build one of the most comfortable mattresses ever”
Much stronger, no?
Again, these relatively minor tweaks had major implications for Amerisleep: That 13.9% increase in conversion rate we mentioned equated to millions of dollars in added revenue over the course of the next year .
The overarching takeaway here is to write your copy with your audience in mind at all times.
- Ensuring they understand the true value your product will bring to their lives, and what it will enable them to do or accomplish
- Instilling a sense of urgency in your visitors, so they not only understand what they have to gain from using your product, but also what they have to lose by not using it
- Double- (triple-, and quadruple-) checking your copy to be absolutely certain it means what you want it to mean—and that your visitors will interpret it in the same way
[eCommerce case study #5] Reduce website friction: Company Folders increase conversion by 68%
Company Folders is an established business but had a website that their CEO admitted was “obviously last year”, which is putting it gently.
The main problem they wanted to remedy was their online quote function. This is a vital step in their marketing funnel, so making the process as smooth as possible was essential to ultimately driving more sales for the business.
This sounds a simple task but with over 15 million product combinations, the current quoting system was highly complex. Further to this, there was a very high rate of prospects dropping out of the form partially completed.
Intuitively they assumed that getting the form onto a single page would help get prospects through the process, but after surveying their best customers, they realized that a redesign was necessary.
They took a cumbersome single step process with lots of options and broke it up into a multi-step bite size process (pictured below). Doing this resulted in a whopping 67.68% increase in total quotes .
(Company folders website)
Take home message #3
Breaking down a complicated system into manageable smaller steps can help keep people focused and increase conversion . Though additional clicks can often be seen as new opportunities to lose customers, the Company Folders experience tells us that streamlining to shorter stepped forms is the way to go right now.
How to take your business Direct-to-Consumer: The ultimate guide
Strategies, insights, and tips on how to start and scale a Direct-to-Consumer business.
[eCommerce case study #6] Try cross selling products: Furniture retailer increased its AOV by 4.6% in 41 days
(Note: For this study, the company did not wish to be named, so we will, of course, respect their privacy)
Perhaps the only thing better than getting potential customers to convert in the first place is getting them to add even more items to their cart before converting.
Our anonymous furniture company knows this—which is why they had been aiming to cross-sell a conditioning kit to customers purchasing leather furniture from their online store.
While sales of the company’s “main” products (i.e., furniture) were pretty decent, sales of these smaller complementary items weren’t all that great. The main problem was that most customers simply weren’t even aware the company offered the conditioning kit in the first place. Basically, the only way they would be exposed to the product is if they were to actively browse for it on the company’s website.
(We should also note that the price of the item being cross-sold costs only about 6% of the company’s average order value, while still adding a ton of value to the main product. In other words, making the additional purchase should have been a no-brainer.)
Knowing they needed to do a better job promoting such smaller-ticket items, the company decided to include a call-to-action directly within the shopping cart page when customers added an applicable big-ticket item to their cart.
So, the page went from looking like this:
(Your Shopping Cart | Source )
...to looking like this:
( Your Shopping Cart | Source )
Customers were then able to add the supplementary item to their cart with a single click (by clicking the plus sign), and could also visit the smaller item’s product page by clicking anywhere else within the pink bar.
The results were nothing short of amazing: As per Growth Rock’s data , the company’s average order value had increased by $55 (4.6%) in only 41 days . This equates to an additional $180,000 in monthly revenu e!
The first takeaway, here, is that successfully cross-selling relevant items that add value to your bigger-ticket items (and that add value to your customer experience ) can have a major impact on your overall revenues.
But simply offering such supplementary products isn’t enough on its own. You also need to promote these items specifically as supplementary to the more valuable and expensive items you offer.
(For example, it’s more likely that consumers visiting a furniture eCommerce site will purchase leather cleaner if they’re in the market for leather furniture. That being the case, you’d want to focus on promoting the product specifically to these individuals.)
Going along with this, you also need to present your cross-sell offer at just the right time to get your customers to bite. Here, the company did so as visitors showed a high probability of making a large purchase — a prime moment to add extra value to their overall experience with the brand.
[eCommerce case study #7] Reduce clutter and distractions: Taloon.com ditched social buttons
Taloon.com got caught up in the trend towards social proof, with "Like” and "Share“ icons on their product pages. However, they noticed unusually low conversions on pages with those social sharing buttons.
To test what was going on they created two variants of the same page with and without the social share icons.
They assumed that by de-cluttering the page, it would keep customers focused on the task at hand - checking out.
“Pages without social share icons saw an improved “add to cart” click-through by 12% ”
Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t make it right. Always put yourself in the mindset of your customer, and keep them focused on the main task you want them to complete. Declutter pages with unnecessary actions to focus on making the sale.
[Ecommerce case study #8] Use influencers to reach customers: Gwynnie Bee saw 5.85% CTR from Youtube influencer
By now, you’re probably well aware of how effective influencer marketing can be in spreading brand awareness and social proof, and increasing engagement among your target audience members.
A few years ago, rental clothing e-retailer Gwynnie Bee realized this exact same thing. While the team had experienced a decent amount of success using a number of other marketing strategies (such as Facebook Ads), they knew they could be generating a lot more business than they were.
So, the company partnered with Reelio to get the ball rolling.
Working with Reelio, Gwynnie Bee began digging through YouTube’s massive database of influencers in search of those who aligned with the clothing company’s target market.
(Search results for "plus size" on Youtube)
The team’s first order of business was to create a list of potential candidates who fit the “surface-level” characteristics of their target market. This meant finding influencers who were female, aged 18 or older, and who typically wore clothing of sizes 10-32.
Now, here’s where Gwynnie Bee diverged from the “typical” path most brands take. Rather than looking specifically for individuals who often worked with other fashion companies, GB also considered those whose audience overlapped with their own. This meant looking at influencers who create content related to more tangential topics, such as lifestyle, accessories, food, and more.
The team then developed guidelines for their chosen influencers, which enabled them to create content that was authentic and non-scripted—but that also aligns with Gwynnie Bee’s overall marketing goals, as well. In addition to creating content to be presented on the influencer’s channel, GB’s influencers also created a virtual “closet” on the brand’s website to showcase the specific items they loved most.
The results of Gwynnie Bee’s influencer campaigns were...well...pretty darn good. While the average click-through rate of all influencer campaigns hovers around the 2% mark, GB’s campaigns saw a CTR of 5.85% — nearly three times the average .
If you’re just getting started with influencer marketing, the main thing to focus on is finding content creators with an engaged audience full of consumers who align in some way with your own target market. They don’t have to overlap entirely, but you, of course, want to be sure that the people who end up seeing your products will have a genuine appreciation for, and interest in, your brand.
As far as content creation goes , you’ll want to provide your influencer’s with almost completely free rein in order to ensure authenticity. This will communicate to your influencer’s audience the idea that the influencer actually uses your products, and aren’t simply promoting them because they’re getting paid for it.
Finally, you might also consider inviting your influencers to create content on your channels as well as their own platforms. Again, this will prove to their audience that they truly are superfans of your brand who actively engage with everything your company has to offer.
[eCommerce case study #9] Reduce risk of purchase: Express Watches provides authenticity stamp
This is a classic problem for online stores; Do you boast the lowest price or the most authentic products ?
The team at Express Watches were debating whether to communicate a ‘lowest price guarantee’ versus a stamp of authenticity on their website. They tested variants with both, each telling a different story about the clientele: bargain hunters vs aficionados. The results were pretty surprising.
(Lowest prices vs highest authenticity)
By labeling the site with a badge of authenticity, Express Watches saw an increase in online sales of 107% . A huge differential from the price based messaging, simply from a little seal of authenticity.
You may think you know what your audience wants, but testing out some alternate value proposition could surprise you.
[eCommerce case study #10] Use events to drive sales: eCommerce companies saw a 27% spike during football world cup
The Soccer/Football World Cup is not only the most-watched sporting event on television of the 21 st century – it is the most-watched event of any kind, period.
Needless to say, such an enormous audience makes for some major opportunities for eCommerce companies all over the world.
Of course, it also made for heft competition for brands operating in niches like sporting goods, clothing, and memorabilia.
As SEMRush explains, the brands that came out on top were the ones who:
- Increased their presence on the right channels (specifically, social media),
- Adjusted their ad copy to target soccer fans from specific nations (e.g. whose teams were making a run for the World Cup)
- Developed relevant and valuable offers to address time-sensitivity (e.g. fast and free shipping to ensure orders were received before the Wolrd Cup had ended)
The opportunistic initiatives led to some MASSIVE revenues for eCommerce companies. In Brazil, eCommerce purchases spiked by $16.6 BILLION, or 27% above the average . After Germany ended up winning, German-based eCommerce activity increased by a whopping 75%!
First and foremost – and this goes any business, online or brick-and-mortar – you need to recognize an opportunity when it comes up and strike when the iron’s hot.
With this in mind, it’s worth noting that Brazillian-based eCommerce activity dropped by 17% immediately once the national team was eliminated from the tournament.
As far as recognizing these opportunities, you’ll want to keep an eye on upcoming events – be it a sports tournament, music festival, fashion show, etc. – that relate, in some way, to your brand’s offerings.
The goal is to “piggyback” off of the hype created by these events and market your products to those who are attending or engaged with the event in some way or another.
There are two main ways to go about this:
You might simply do as the brands mentioned above did, and ramp up your marketing initiatives throughout the timespan of the event, or, if possible, reach out to the host of the event to see if they’d be interested in partnering up in some way. This might mean sponsoring the event (in lieu of upping your ad spend) or even setting up a pop-up shop at the actual event
[eCommerce case study #11] Remove distractions: Underwater Audio bump sales by 41%
Underwater Audio had a problem with visitors who were in the middle of their sales funnel, researching specific products but then dropping off at the comparison page. When they noticed this leak they decided to get to the bottom of it.
Here are the old and new versions of the page. At first glance, they don’t look too different, but the devil is in the detail.
(Underwater Audio website page comparison)
The original one was a bit more cluttered with the table formatting breaking up the flow of information. To test what the problem was, they redesigned the comparison page to make it simpler and more streamlined.
As their CEO said:
“The (rather) unattractive table had information in terse phrases organized in no particular fashion (activity, seal, size, features, warranty, depth). The paragraphs continued below the fold and essentially repeated the table, with only a few unique additions hidden in the text. In short, it was not the most engaging page!”
The new version did away with the data tables, streamlined the text, and put everything above the fold.
The result? The redesigned page had an increase in online sales of 40.81% .
To quote Occam's Razor, “the simplest solution is often the best” and the simpler flow worked wonders for Underwater Audio. Find pages in your pipeline where users are dropping off and see how you can simplify them to focus your customers.
[eCommerce case study #12] Get customers to take the next step: Kettlebell Kings’s takes advantage of user generated content to drive sales
In yet another case of “x isn’t working as well as we thought, let’s try something else,” the owners of fitness equipment startup Kettlebell Kings switched to a more organic approach after realizing their Google Ads campaigns were costing the company way too much money.
The team’s main focus: Instagram.
Their initiative started simply enough, creating instructional content focused on teaching their audience how to get the most out of their workout sessions.
As engagement began to soar, the team also noticed that its customers had also begun creating their own content featuring Kettlebell Kings’ products—which led the company to begin using this UGC to their advantage.
(#kettlebellkings on Instagram | Source )
In addition to the more audience-controlled content featured in the image above (that is, content featuring Kettlebell King’s products but not published directly on the brand’s Instagram page), the team also began re-posting certain UGC on their own page. As Gwynnie Bee did with its influencers, the Kettlebell Kings team developed a list of criteria such content should follow in order to be featured—but also allowed for some creative freedom on the customer’s part, as well.
While the content being created (by both the team and their customers) did lead to an increase in brand awareness and engagement , the team took things a step further by adding calls-to-action to many of their posts. For example, many posts that featured specific products were made shoppable, while others included an option to “swipe up” to learn more, download additional content, or sign up for the company’s mailing list.
(Ketttlebell's Instagram shoppable story | Source )
While the brand’s Instagram presence has directly led to “hundreds of thousands” of dollars in revenue, Buffer reports that Kettlebell King’s social media initiatives have played a major role in the company’s rise well into the 7-figure mark .
There are a few lessons to learn here:
Success on social media requires an intensely strategic approach to content creation and presentation. It’s all about presenting your products in a way that showcases their true value to your customers, and how your customers can get this value from your products in the first place.
While user-generated content is always appreciated, that doesn’t mean you need to feature every piece of UGC that comes your way. Again, you only want to showcase content that paints your product in the best light possible, and that provides value of some kind to your audience.
Finally, while using content to enhance engagement is great and all, your main goal should be to get your audience to take “the next step.” Whether it be signing up for your newsletter, reaching out to your company for more info, or going through with an initial purchase, make sure your content prompts your potential customers to engage further with your brand.
The ultimate guide to growing & scaling an eCommerce business
Everything we've learned throughout our 18+ years journey in a 30,000-word PDF guide.
[eCommerce case study #13] Use comparison data: Paperstone took out their competition with data
Paperstone is a small paper company that competes with large brand big box stores like Staples and Viking. With most people defaulting to the brands they know best, Paperstone needed to find a way to leverage their strengths against the competition; lower prices.
Rather than paying top dollar to compete for advertising attention, they simply included a comparison table on their homepage showing their pricing against that of their competitors.
This simple table increased online sales by 10.67%! Just think about how much revenue that would mean for your business, without running any new promotion or campaign .
Assess your competition and identify your strengths. Then showcase these against your competitors’ weaknesses to make your business look like the obvious choice when compared.
[eCommerce case study #14] Test and measure results: MVMT generated $90M in revenue in five years
As a brand new company looking to disrupt the rather saturated luxury watch market, MVMT certainly had its work cut out for them in terms of generating visibility and brand awareness.
So, the team turned to advertising via Facebook.
As far as creating content, MVMT’s approach was similar to Kettlebell Kings’: They worked within specifically-defined guidelines to ensure consistency, created a variety of content, and included clear CTAs within each post.
However, they didn’t simply begin creating brand new content for these ads. Rather, they took a look at the content that had already seen organic success, and routed ad spend directly to promoting these specific posts .
(Take a guess which one MVMT decided to promote...)
Though they had clearly figured out a way to ensure their ads would generate even more engagement (based on these previous engagement metrics), they also took things a step further by A/B testing various aspects of their ad content, from the images used to the copy of the ad.
While there are a number of lessons to take away from MVMT’s approach, here, the main thing to realize is that creating ads on any platform should never be a gamble.
MVMT could have easily created new ad content targeting its potential customers and simply hoped for the best. Instead, they used data they had already collected to inform their approach to creating Facebook Ads targeting specific audience segments. In turn, these ads were all but
[eCommerce case study #15] Find alternate channels: ECCO Shoes decreased customer acquisition costs by 14%
While creating paid ads is more expensive than going the organic route, some paid options can end up being more (or less) costly than others.
Which is exactly why ECCO Shoes decided to partner with Digital Gearbox while switching from using text-based Google Ads to using image-based Google Shopping Ads.
The first step of the process was to determine which specific products to focus their ad budget on, as well as which audience(s) to target. While the team would end up creating ad campaigns for all of the brand’s products, the initial focus was on getting top-sellers in front of the right potential customers.
The team then developed and optimized their product feed to ensure that any and all necessary information was included within their ads and product pages. This information includes product specs, product images, and any other additional info (such as shipping charges and return policies).
After the ad campaigns went live, the team then shifted into “experimental mode,” where they assessed the performance of each ad and ad campaign, making ongoing adjustments as necessary. In addition to continuous optimization of the product feed and ad content, this also meant adjusting bidding and targeting definitions, as well.
Overall, ECCO’s Google Shopping initiatives proved to be much more cost-effective than text-based ads, as the company’s cost of customer acquisition dropped by an amazing 14% .
The main lesson here is that eCommerce companies with physical products should absolutely look into advertising via Google Shopping.
Google Shopping allows you to showcase much more information in one place than most other forms of advertising (especially text-based Google Ads). In addition to being able to include product specs and service-related info, the inclusion of product imagery alone is enough for Shopping ads to be considered more effective than their text-based relative.
[eCommerce case study #16] Move past the product: Away generated $125M by standing out
As we’ve discussed at length before , Away is the essentially the byproduct of co-founder Jen Rubio’s frustrating experience with an overly-expensive and not-so-durable piece of luggage.
While it would be easy enough for her and partner Steph Korey to simply develop a more sturdy and affordable alternative product to base their new company around, they realized this alone wouldn’t be enough to get their foot in the door in an already saturated market.
Instead, they positioned Away not as just a luggage company, but as a brand focused on all things travel.
Essentially, their reasoning came down to the fact that luggage is more of a means to an end than an end in itself.
As Rubio explains,
"Even before we were like 'let's choose luggage,' we were talking about editorial content and all we can do in the travel space. We see the long-term potential for Away to be much, much more than just selling luggage."
This outlook led to a number of content-related opportunities for the team at Away. Instead of creating content centered around luggage (which, let’s be serious, probably wouldn’t be all that engaging), they created blog posts, podcasts, and even a physical magazine focused on the lifestyle behind luggage and travel.
This enabled the company to stand out in a crowded market, and provide value to their target audience in a way no other luggage brand does. This, in turn, led to massive engagement—and absolutely massive growth for the company, as well.
The take home message here touches on the point we mentioned earlier when discussing Amerisleep’s shift in copywriting strategies:
It’s not about what your product is, so much as what it allows your customers to do, that makes them value your brand.
Rubio and Korey took this idea and ran with it, creating a variety of content to help their audience get more value out of their travel experiences across the board. For them, it’s more important to promote the lifestyle their product is a part of—not just promoting the product itself.
Do you want your target consumers to purchase your products? Of course. But, as Away proves, this can be done in a way so that your promotional materials actually provide value to your audience—and don’t come off as “salesy.”
[eCommerce case study #17] Drive inbound through content marketing: Bavarian Clockworks reached $1m in sales
If you read that headline and your jaw dropped, get ready for another shocker:
With the help of CanIRank’s services , the team at Bavarian Clockworks reached this mark as a brand new company with essentially zero initial following and a very limited marketing budget.
First things first, the team needed to create some high-quality, valuable content for its intended audience. While they, of course, focused on creating instructional and informational content on topics like clock care and repair, they also created content on more tangential topics such as German culture and European travel, as well.
Having a limited marketing budget, they then aimed to promote their content and brand via organic means, such as guest posting and giving interviews to be published on related sites. This enabled the brand to gain some much-needed visibility on established websites with an engaged and relevant following.
The final piece of the puzzle came in the form of technical, on-site SEO. This involved optimizing the organizational structure of the site’s content, creating interlinks between blog posts, and enhancing site loading time.
(Bavarian Clockworks progress graph)
The results speak for themselves: Bavarian Clockworks ended up hitting the 7-figure mark a mere three years from their humble beginnings .
Perhaps the main thing to take away from Bavarian Clockworks’ success story is that generating an enormous following via organic means is absolutely still possible.
While it’s not exactly easy to do so—and definitely won’t happen overnight—startups on a strict budget might want to consider focusing on building an organic following before diving into the world of paid advertising. Not only is it more cost-effective, but it also inherently allows you to build connections with more established brands that can help you grow well into the future.
That being the case, growing an audience via organic means isn’t an “if you build it, they will come” type deal. You’ll need to do a bit of legwork in order to gain traction.
As the team at Bavarian Clockworks did, this means:
- Creating interesting, engaging, and evergreen content that your target audience will find incredibly valuable
- Partnering with established companies and organizations to help promote your content to relevant audiences
- Providing your new audience with numerous opportunities to engage further with your brand
[eCommerce case study #18] Build loyal engaged followers: Frank Body hit $20M in annual sales
We’ve talked about Frank Body’s meteoric rise to success before —and with good reason.
After all, the beauty industry is already saturated as it is. So it’s pretty crazy to think that a newcomer to the niche would be able to crack $20 million in annual revenue in less than four years.
While (as we mention in our full-length case study) the brand has done a number of things to make this happen, it’s worth pointing out that all of their efforts circle around one main premise:
Creating a community of individuals who feel free to let their guard down, have some fun, and just be themselves.
Even their influencers get in on the action:
(Aviva's Instagram promoting Frank Body)
Now, this might not sound like that big of a deal; a lot of companies are falling back on the “be yourself” motif nowadays.
But, remember: Frank Body is a beauty retailer. In that industry, the message behind most brands’ marketing campaigns is “use our product to look like a Hollywood star instead of plain ol’ you.”
Frank Body is all about allowing their customers to look how they want to look—not how they think they’re “supposed” to look.
It’s this fundamental position that has allowed the brand to grow a following of over 600,000 people, and to reach well into the seven-figure mark in a mere four years
The main message to take away from Frank Body’s strategy, here, is to truly understand who your target customers really are before you build your brand around them.
While this piece of advice isn’t exactly some carefully-guarded secret or anything, the reality is that most brands think they’re marketing to their target audience, when really, they’re marketing to a caricature of them .
In many cases, this is because brands simply follow the same path others in their niche have before them. While there’s nothing wrong with doing so if it works for your brand, there are other times where you’d be better off bucking the trend and going your own way.
For Frank Body, this meant building a brand around a community of people who use beauty products to show off their natural selves, not hide them. While there’s no way of knowing for sure, it’s rather safe to say the company probably wouldn’t have experienced the same amount of success had it gone the typical marketing route most beauty companies typically do.
While this piece isn’t exactly some carefully-guarded secret or anything, the reality is that most brands think they’re marketing to their target audience, when really they’re marketing to a caricature of them .
[eCommerce case study #19] Be relevant to your customers: Society Socks improved survey response rate by 200%
We’ve mentioned a few times now the importance of engaging with your audience to gather feedback and make improvements to your products and services.
But the fact is, there’s no guarantee your customers will take it upon themselves to provide this feedback in the first place. Even if you actively reach out to them, the odds of them not responding are still greater than the chances of them getting back to you.
Knowing this, the team at Society Socks worked to develop a collection of user-friendly surveys targeting consumers at various stages of the sales funnel and buyer’s journey. Their goal was to ensure that each recipient received a survey that was 100% relevant to their experiences with the brand, and also that each survey was incredibly easy to complete.
(Society Soda feedback)
As co-founder Filip Pejic explains:
"Our current campaigns are set up at various stages including Post-Purchase, Mid Subscription and at Cancellation. We’ve integrated the solution into our email system to send automated flows depending on our customers’ stage in the buying process. This allows us to gain a ton of feedback at every point in a customer’s journey and control the number of surveys they receive."
Society Socks also took a look at the more logistical aspects of survey delivery, such as delivery method and timing. This ensured that their audience would receive the surveys on the optimal channel (in this case, email) at a time in which they were most likely to respond.
The most obvious takeaway here, of course, is that you need to learn as much as you can about your customers’ expectations and experiences with your brand.
As Feedier explains, this means defining or determining:
- Your various customer personas and segments
- The aspects of your products (and overall service) each persona values most
- The aspects each persona wishes could be improved
As we’ve said before, gleaning this information (and more) from your audience will allow you to make improvements to your products and services that actually matter to the people who keep your company in business.
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A threat to Amazon and a test of the FTC: is this big tech’s antitrust reckoning?
At the core of the case is whether the company used its position to disadvantage rivals and the power of the agency to rein in tech firms
The Federal Trade Commission and attorneys general from 17 states have accused Amazon in a major antitrust lawsuit of illegally shutting out competition to become one of the world’s most powerful companies.
The landmark case presents a significant threat to Amazon’s dominance in the online retail industry, and is a major test of antitrust law and the FTC’s power.
At the core of the case is whether Amazon used its immense power in the online retail industry to illegally disadvantage rivals, leveraging tactics that punished sellers for offering lower prices elsewhere while coercing businesses into paying fees to use its fulfillment services. The FTC is seeking a permanent injunction to prohibit many of Amazon’s business practices.
“The complaint sets forth detailed allegations noting how Amazon is now exploiting its monopoly power to enrich itself while raising prices and degrading service for the tens of millions of American families who shop on its platform and the hundreds of thousands of businesses that rely on Amazon to reach them,” Lina Khan, the FTC chair, said in a statement.
Amazon has denied the allegations, with Amazon’s general counsel David Zapolsky stating that the company’s practices have benefited consumers, spurred competition and led to innovation in retail.
Amazon is accused of illegally monopolizing online retail
In the complaint, the FTC repeatedly presents Amazon as a company that is willfully stifling competition while restricting consumer choice in order to maintain its monopoly. “In a competitive world, Amazon’s decision to raise prices and degrade services would create an opening for rivals and potential rivals to attract business, gain momentum and grow. But Amazon has engaged in an unlawful monopolistic strategy to close off that possibility,” the complaint states.
The FTC and states allege Amazon imposes anti-discounting measures that prohibit merchants who sell products on Amazon from offering lower prices elsewhere; strong-arms third-party sellers to use its expensive fulfillment services; requires merchants to use the company’s delivery and fulfillment system in order to qualify for its popular Prime subscription service; and prioritizes the company’s in-house line of products over others.
Amazon issued a lengthy response to the suit, written by Zapolsky, its general counsel, which alleges the FTC had a “fundamental misunderstanding of retail” and rejects any coercion in making sellers or consumers buy its products.
The FTC is not seeking to break up the company, but instead is asking for a permanent injunction from a federal court that would “prohibit Amazon from engaging in its unlawful conduct and pry loose Amazon’s monopolistic control to restore competition”.
Big tech faces an antitrust reckoning
The suit against Amazon is part of a spate of attempts at regulating big tech , which have included congressional hearings, state attorneys general lawsuits and marquee trials of major companies such as Google.
The FTC and the US justice department started investigations into Google, Facebook , Apple and Amazon during the Trump administration.
Since then, the justice department has sued Google twice, with one case now the subject of a high-profile trial.
The FTC sued Facebook during the Trump administration, and Biden’s FTC has pressed forward with the lawsuit. An FTC request to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Call of Duty maker Activision Blizzard was rejected.
Under Khan, the FTC has taken a more aggressive stance against the power of big tech and intensified the broader government push to loosen the grip a few top companies have over industries such as online retail and internet search engines.
Khan gained attention as a law student in 2017 after writing a much-cited Yale Law Journal paper arguing that Amazon was a predatory monopoly.
Critics of big tech’s monopoly over various industries have long called for regulators to take a stronger stance. As the FTC’s suit against Amazon loomed, a coalition of authors and booksellers issued an open letter last month with an antitrust thinktank urging the government to take action over its impact on the publishing industry.
“Today the free exchange of ideas is impeded and warped by opaque algorithms and sales practices controlled by Amazon and premised on which publisher and/or author is willing and able to pay the highest extortionary tax to get their books promoted on Amazon’s website,” the letter stated.
Several tech reform organizations on Tuesday praised the suit against Amazon as a positive move toward enforcing antitrust regulations and breaking up tech monopolies.
“For far too long, Amazon has manipulated the online marketplace to position itself as the world’s largest digital retailer, and in the process, they jacked up prices, stole competitors’ products, and gate-kept consumers from better products,” Sacha Haworth, the executive director of the non-profit Tech Oversight Project, said in a statement.
But it remains to be seen how Khan and the FTC’s spate of antitrust lawsuits and attempts at increased regulation will fare, with an uneven record so far. Amazon agreed to pay $25m to settle allegations from the DoJ and FTC that it violated child privacy protections by failing to delete children’s data, including voice recordings. But the FTC has also faced several losses in court this year while trying to take on big tech, including attempts to block mergers and acquisitions by Meta and Microsoft. The case against Amazon is expected to take years.
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- Free Resources
Ecommerce: 10 mini case studies of successful marketing for online shopping
This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter .
While ecommerce has been growing rapidly, it still only comprised a small percentage of overall retail sales. For example, in the U.S., on an adjusted basis, ecommerce accounted for 11.8% of all retail sales in the first quarter of 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau .
That was for Q1. Then in Q2, the number jumped to 16.1% – a 44.5% change from the same quarter a year ago. To put that number in perspective, Q2 2019 grew “only” 13.8% over Q2 2018.
What changed? The COVID-19 pandemic, of course. Even with ecommerce’s double-digit growth over the years, brick-and-mortar retail still had many advantages over ecommerce. Some products (like groceries) are hard to ship and easier and less expensive to buy in person. Brick-and-mortar retail has an experiential draw that ecommerce can’t match – from trying on a shirt to being wowed by an in-store (and Instagram-worthy) display. The ability to make a human connection and learn about a product or service.
Suddenly everything changed. That human connection became a detriment. And a no-touch version of goods and even services was preferable if not essential.
And that’s where we are in 2020 folks. A sad statement on human existence, yes. But as marketers, we must answer a practical question. How do we ensure our companies can continue to create value for customers in this changed world? Ecommerce can play a critical role. To help spark ideas for improving your company’s ecommerce efforts, here are specific examples from your peers in a wide range of industries.
Mini Case Study #1: Adding credibility generates a 46% increase in conversion for mattress company
A mid-sized furniture company selling organic latex mattresses engaged with MECLABS Institute to increase the overall number of mattress purchases (MECLABS is the parent organization of MarketingSherpa). It is one of only a few mattresses that is GreenGuard Gold certified.
The team conducted an experiment to determine which credibility approach would produce the highest rate of mattress purchases and ran an A/B split test.
The control landing page mentioned the certification, but it was de-emphasized.
Creative Sample #1: Control landing page for organic latex mattress
The treatment landing page added a section entitled “What is the GreenGuard Gold Seal?”
Creative Sample #2: Treatment landing page for organic latex mattress
The treatment landing page generated a 46% increase in conversion in the A/B test. The tangible value created by the additional copy helped the customer determine that the mattress was worth purchasing.
You can learn more about this experiment, and see other ecommerce experiments, in Optimizing Ecommerce Experiences: 25 valid ecommerce experiments to ideate your next A/B test from MarketingExperiments (MarketingSherpa’s sister publication).
Mini Case Study #2: Dunkin’ increases gift card sales 300% by quickly tapping into changing customer motivations
The way customers perceive your products and service can change over time. The COVID-19 pandemic is a great example. For most companies, if they just treated customers the same way they did before the pandemic, they would have overlooked customers’ changing motivations. And those changing motivations affect how potential customers perceive your offer.
Dunkin’ is an example of a company that moved swiftly to tap into new customer motivations. “As COVID-19 struck, Americans wanted to find ways to help and to show support for the frontline heroes. Dunkin’ wanted to give people a way to do so, even without being able to leave home,” said Justin Unger, Director, Strategic Partnerships, Dunkin'.
Created in just days, the DunkinCoffeeBreak.com ecommerce site gave customers a way to show appreciation by sending a virtual coffee break in the form of a Dunkin’ e-gift card. Dunkin’ donated $1 (up to $100,000) for every card purchased at this site to the Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation emergency funds, specifically for non-profits helping families affected by COVID-19.
“Since the initial launch, Dunkin’ has used the site for multiple moments that matter to people, such as Teacher Appreciation Week, National Nurses Week, and Mother’s Day,” Unger said.
The site is driving incremental digital gift card sales and has generated a 300% increase in year-over-year gift card sales for certain events.
“ I think ecommerce, especially in the gift card space, is a key [you can use to] unlock growth. We saw a tremendous lift in online gift card sales with the addition of DunkinCoffeeBreak.com without any cannibalization to our existing online gift card program. It allowed us to reach new guests and tap into the wealth of information and targeting in the digital world, which you just cannot do with plastic gift cards hanging on pegs ,” Unger said.
“Online and mobile shopping surged when social distancing was introduced…based on Blackhawk Network’s partners’ sales data, gift cards sales made directly from a restaurant’s or merchant’s website since mid-March are up 92% from last year,” said Brett Narlinger, Head of Global Commerce, Blackhawk Network , Dunkin’s gift card program partner.
Mini Case Study #3: Home décor company generates $734.40 in sales from “penny campaigns”
“Throughout my ecommerce career I have successfully implemented what I call ‘penny campaigns’ within numerous Google Ad accounts for a large number of different businesses,” said Patrick Connelly, co-founder, Stellar Villa .
Most businesses focus their ad spend on a select few products or services that account for the majority of the company’s revenue, he says. The idea with a penny campaign is to go deeper into your product set and offer very low bids for the ads.
“Penny campaigns can work with both text ads and Google Product Shopping ads, although I prefer Product ads,” Connelly said. Once you have the products added to a campaign, simply set a very low bid. While this can vary by industry, Connelly typically sets bids between five and twenty cents and uses broad match for a larger reach if targeting keywords.
For example, from May through July the wall art company ran a Shopping campaign with Product Listing Ads) for its “Nursery Wall Art” collection. The team set a maximum cost-per-click of $0.20 with a daily budget of $100. “We knew we wouldn't spend close to that, but I like to let Google know we're willing to pay for as many clicks at $0.20 or less as they can give us,” Connelly said.
Over the course of three months the ad produced 354 clicks at a cost of $60.18. The ad generated $743.40 in sales.
“The penny campaign strategy can be implemented on more platforms than just Google Ads. It also works great with Amazon Advertising,” Connelly said.
Mini Case Study #4: Vegan blog grows traffic to 50,000 monthly visits with more diverse SEO outreach strategy
Thrive Cuisine had more than 25,000 backlinks but was plateauing at about 30,000 monthly unique visits.
The team was building links and publishing content on the same schedule as before and wasn’t sure why they weren’t seeing more traffic and conversions.
George Pitchkhadze, CMO, Thrive Cuisine tried a new approach. Instead of focusing on getting more backlinks he decided the site need a bigger variety of backlinks. Pitchkhadze stopped outreach efforts that were targeting the same kind of website over and over again and spent two months creating a completely new link-building and outreach strategy. This time, the team specifically focused on websites in adjacent niches instead of the vegan blog’s own niche. They started the outreach effort in May after spending two months creating more diverse content to link back to.
The new out outreach targeting more diverse websites increased the number of referring domains by more than 50%. This resulted in traffic going from about 30,000 to more than 50,000 monthly visits from unique visitors and increased “traffic value” by more than $10,000.
“If you’re looking to get ecommerce traffic, focus on backlink variety and quality; not only quantity. This will massively improve your results. Where possible, create new content on your own website to really showcase your own expertise across diverse subjects,” Pitchkhadze said.
Mini Case Study #5: Footwear store increases conversion 21.5% with clearer communication on website
KURU Footwear places a high emphasis on customer service and ease of experience by offering free shipping, free exchanges, and free returns. While this messaging did exist on the footwear brand’s website in various places, the team launched a test exploring four options that inserted those value messages higher in the customer experience.
Creative Sample #3: Control homepage for footwear brand
The top-performing treatment had a black bar with simple white text at the top of nearly all pages outside of the checkout funnel. It increased conversion 21.5%.
Creative Sample #4: Top-performing treatment for footwear website
Other treatments that included the customer service message but added in a message to reassure customers that Kuru was open and operating during COVID-19 did not perform as well. “We found simplicity performed best,” said Kelly Stanze, Manager, Marketing & Communications, Kuru.
Creative Sample #5: Lower-performing treatment for footwear website
“Making sure potential new customers know just how much we prioritize customer satisfaction can be difficult. While the proof is in the shoes, we're constantly seeking ways to elevate just how passionate about our customers we are as a company. This was just one step in that never-ending effort,” Stanze said.
Mini Case Study #6: Facebook Live show quadruples online orders for gourmet deli and marketplace
Big Bottom Market is a gourmet deli and marketplace in the heart of Sonoma Wine Country. In addition to its retail presence, the team also manages an Etsy Shop where they sell Big Bottom Market-branded products and the work of local artisans.
“We've been in the e-commerce game since 2016 when we were designated one of Oprah's Favorite Things and had to use the Amazon platform for national sales,” said Michael Volpatt, owner, Big Bottom Market. “From orders and shipping to returns and everything in between, Amazon was a great partner at the time. That changed when our sales volume slowed down so we crunched the numbers and realized that Etsy would be a better partner as we ramped up our growing product line with items that we created or partnered with someone to create for us…My point in this is that being flexible at all points in your e-commerce journey is important.”
Volpatt would be forced to be flexible once again. On March 18 th , the county of Sonoma locked down due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the in-person retail market closed. All of a sudden, ecommerce became a much more important component of Big Bottom Market’s sales
“As a chef and cookbook author, I decided to continue engaging with our customers and launched a Facebook Live cooking show called Cooking In Place,” Volpatt said.
Volpatt cooked and showcased local wines for fans along with other products that the market sells, encouraging viewers to buy them online.
In addition, after each show he posted the video replay across all of its social media channels and shared recipes and details about the food he cooked and wine he tasted on the show.” I would broadcast on Facebook Live and save the video feed. Then I would repost a link to the video on my personal page, on Instagram TV, and then also on YouTube,” he said.
Creative Sample #6: Facebook Live cooking show from gourmet deli and marketplace
In addition to customer engagement and increasing social media followers, the goal was to drive ecommerce sales as a way to augment lost revenue from in-store foot traffic.
“We used to see three to five orders per month in our Etsy shop. In the first week of doing the show we saw three to five per week and that increased to five to ten orders per week. To some, those numbers may seem low, but for a small business located in a tourist town, these numbers were great. Our sales ended up paying for our monthly fixed expenses, which was very helpful for a business that relies on foot traffic,” Volpatt said.
Mini Case Study #7: Retail company increases revenue 311% with website redesign
The Barbecues Galore website had a low conversion rate due to technical, usability and value communication issues. For example, when a product was added in different product categories the URL slug of the product itself would change. “This presented us with issues we needed to address immediately, as a product that constantly changes in URL is not SEO friendly and would present with unwanted 301 redirects and in some cases 404s,” said Andres Aguero, Senior SEO Specialist, Barbecues Galore.
The new site fixed those technical issues, and also did a better job of communicating value to the customer. For example, the product listing page on the old website had very few pictures and did not prominently feature reviews.
Creative sample #7: Previous product listing page on retailer’s original website
“We ended up figuring out that when people are making a large purchase online they want to feel safe and secure that their money is being well spent,” Aguero said.
The team invested in adding additional photos to the product listing and reached out to previous customers from both the online and brick-and-mortar locations to request a product review.
Creative sample #8: Product listing page on retailer’s new website
Due to unforeseen circumstances, the team had to push the live date of the website to April 2020. “This was a big risk at the time as we were at the peak of COVID-19 and all of our brick-and-mortar locations had been closed. Our only source of income at that time was our online revenue,” Aguero said.
The redesign paid off. Revenue from April to August 2020 increased 311% compared to the same time frame in the previous year and revenue from organic traffic increased 172%. (Much of that increase likely has to do with the site improvements, however this reporter questions if increased demand for backyard products due to COVID-19 lockdowns may have also played a role in the revenue increase.)
“My advice for other marketers would be to focus on your website’s existing traffic first before you make any other investments. Our PPC specialist was spending a crazy amount of money on a monthly basis only to see low conversion rates. If your conversion rate is low then try to figure out why. Take a look at your competitors and see what they are doing. After you’ve done that, then you can start making investments into PPC or SEO,” Aguero advised.
Mini Case Study #8: 3D models platform increases clickthrough 12% with A/B testing
Sketchfab operate a 3D content marketplace where people can buy and sell 3D models. It features some of these designs on its landing pages. The team decided to test the effect of different background designs for the header block, which contains a search bar and other navigation menus.
The background of the landing pages consisted of colorful, contrasted 3D models of animals and characters.
Creative Sample #9: Control landing page for 3D content models platform
The team tested less prominent backgrounds to provide more emphasis to the search bar and rest of the page’s user interface. Here is the highest-performing treatment, which produced a 5.3% increase in page engagement and 12.4% increase in clickthrough rates when compared to the original version.
Creative Sample #10: Treatment landing page for 3D content models platform
“Backgrounds [with] a low contrast image that blends with the rest of the page tend to perform much better than vivid, more contrasted ones. In our case, rather than wowing customers with a spectacular image or video, having a more modest graphic allowed them to take action and flow to other internal pages,” said Guillermo Sainz, Digital Marketing, Sketchfab.
Mini Case Study #9: Automating organic Pinterest postings generates $56,000 per month for women’s clothing store
This next example may not work for every company, but it was successful for a niche brand with a very visual product.
“We used to post manually on Pinterest every now and then and didn't attract any customers/visitors to our ecommerce portal. A few months ago, we installed a Shopify plugin to automatically push product images to Pinterest,” said Akram Tariq Khan, CTO, YourLibaas .
Creative Sample #11: Automated Pinterest post from women’s clothing store
“The results were unexpected,” Khan said.
The women’s clothing store now has about 930,000 monthly Pinterest viewers with 26,000 followers and average monthly sales directly attributable to Pinterest of $56,000 within the last quarter without spending a penny on Pinterest.
YourLibaas is based in India and offers international shipping. Most of the Pinterest customers are located internationally, primarily within the US, UK and Canada with a sizeable number in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
“The majority of our international orders are customers who discovered our brand through Pinterest. We have a significant presence on Instagram and Facebook too, but the user base at these platforms is primarily located domestically within India,” Khan said.
Mini Case Study #10: Female wellness product overcomes ad ban with SEO-focused content creation and attracts 9,248 organic visitors in latest month
As digital advertising platforms work to improve their image by banning industries and products deemed harmful, some less nefarious brands are getting caught as well.
For example, Chiavaye sells an all-natural, vegan personal moisturizer. Kaylyn Easton started the company because she has endometriosis.
The company was making approximately $14,000 per month in revenue by promoting the product with paid ads. However, about two years ago its ad account was shut down for “adult content.”
“Paid ads was a strategy that worked well for us until it didn’t. Meaning, the moment we got shut down, we lost more than 90% of our monthly revenue,” said Kaylyn Easton, CEO & Founder, Chiavaye.
At the time, organic traffic from Google was only about 20 visitors per month, and 98% of its was branded searches like “Chiavaye lube.”
The company decided to pursue a strategy of SEO-focused content creation. “We wanted to implement a strategy that would build our brand long-term so that after we turn off the investment, it could still bring in value. If we were to stop writing SEO articles today, we’d still get the benefits from what we’ve done for years to come. Versus, if we turn off a paid ads strategy, we immediately see a huge negative impact,” Easton said.
The primary focus of the content is not the promotion of the product, but instead helping the target audience overcome key pain points.
“We've been creating four SEO-focused pieces of content per month targeting endometriosis-related queries. Things like ‘endometriosis diet grocery list.’ We found that women with endo are craving any type of information to help them. And, if the info is good, they'll trust that person – and even buy their products,” said Joey Randazzo, Founder and CEO, Portland SEO Growth .
After 18 months of creating four pieces of content per month, the site went from about 20 visitors per month to, in the most recent month, 9,248 organic visitors.
Every piece of content has two CTAs (calls to action). The first is to buy the product. The second CTA is for a free e-book, which is generating 250 downloads per month – building the email list.
Creative Sample #12: Email signup form for e-book from female wellness product company
“We discovered that [competitors] have salesy email campaigns – every other email is a 30% off coupon. [Chiavaye's] is designed around adding value more than anything,” Randazzo said.
The team discovered the top burning questions the target audience is asking around endometriosis, like “is dairy okay to eat with endo?” Easton answers these questions in text and video in a clear, straightforward way. The email body is succinct in answering the question linking to articles on the company’s website for more information.
“Figure out who your target audience is and then create content that adds value to them and their lives. We’ve discovered that 95% of the content we create should be adding value to the reader. The final 5% should pitch us as a solution. It builds trust and entices them to opt in for our free e-book, which consequently builds a super valuable email list for us,” Easton said.
Research-based Ecommerce Swipe File
Ecommerce Marketing Research: To be truly successful, you must step out of the ecommerce bubble
Ecommerce Research Chart: What makes customers more likely to buy online?
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Case Study: Can Retailers Win Back Shoppers Who Browse then Buy Online?
- Thales S. Teixeira
- Sunil Gupta
A brick-and-mortar retailer searches for a response to “showrooming.”
Bertice Jenson couldn’t believe how shameless they were. Right in front of her in the Benjy’s superstore in Oklahoma City, a young couple pointed a smartphone at a Samsung 50-inch Ultra HD TV and then used an app to find an online price for it. They did the same for a Sony and an LG LED model, as the Munchkins from The Wizard of Oz danced across all three screens.
“Excuse me,” Bertice said. “I see what you’re doing. Don’t you think that’s kind of … unfair?”
The two shoppers looked at each other as though this hadn’t occurred to them. “We’re only comparing prices,” the young woman said, stroking the West Highland terrier nestled in the crook of her arm.
“But the app—it’s Amazon’s, right?” Bertice asked. “Once you figure out which TV you want to buy, you’re going to order it from Amazon.”
“Probably,” the young man said, shrugging.
“But Amazon … ” Bertice couldn’t articulate what she wanted to say. “See, Amazon … What I mean is, this isn’t Amazon’s showroom . Benjy’s doesn’t display these products and staff these stores for the benefit of Amazon. We want you to buy from us .”
They looked at her blankly. “Oh, you work here?” the woman asked.
Bertice wasn’t dressed like the sales staff, and the couple had no way of knowing that she was the daughter of Benjy’s founder or that she’d been recently appointed to chair the board of the $40 billion electronics and appliance retailer. She was now making a routine drop-in visit to one of the chain’s 2,000-some stores. But that wasn’t worth explaining.
“Never mind,” Bertice said. “Just be aware that what you do has consequences. This real-live shopping experience you’re having here at Benjy’s is helping you decide which TV to buy. And if you order from Amazon, you’re basically stealing that experience and cheating us.”
She knew she sounded shrill. The couple looked as though they expected her next words to be, “I’ll get you, my pretties, and your little dog too!”
Caught in the Middle
Bertice wasn’t accustomed to playing the Wicked Witch. Although she prided herself on her financial toughness, she was a natural mediator. Her father, one of America’s most prominent African-American corporate leaders, had always counseled her to be even-tempered and even-handed, and she had been—through four years at a mostly white high school, six years in mostly male undergrad finance and MBA programs, the 15 years she’d spent working her way up the ladder at a top-tier accounting firm, and especially the decade she’d been on the board of Benjy’s.
Bertice was now preparing to mediate between her father and the company’s CEO, who had very different ideas about how to respond to what Bertice had seen in Oklahoma City: “showrooming.” Customers like the couple with the Westie weren’t unusual. More and more people were coming to Benjy’s to look at products but then buying them from online competitors whose lack of a bricks-and-mortar presence enabled them to offer discount prices. Research showed that 83% of people shopping for electronics and appliances were now practicing showrooming. The chain’s sales had nosedived as a result; the most recent quarterly loss was nearly $700 million.
“Baby, baby, baby,” Ben said as he hugged his daughter in the 16th floor hallway.
“I’m 41 years old, Daddy,” she chided him playfully.
“I didn’t hear that,” said a voice behind her. It was the CEO, Stanley, or “Farb,” as everyone called him. Smiling, he shook hands with both Ben and Bertice.
“Why don’t we move into the boardroom?” Bertice said. “I think everyone else is here.”
After the usual pleasantries, Bertice jumped right in: “Showrooming is a serious problem for most retailers, but particularly those of us in electronics. Amazon keeps making it easier for shoppers to search, find, and order a product online. We need to decide on a counterstrategy. Farb, I know you’ve prepared a presentation for us.”
The projector was balky, and Ben took advantage of the pause to put his own views out there. “I think it’s obvious that we need to play both offense and defense. Offense should include providing more-aggressive discounts through the Benjy’s app and matching online prices. We also need to get more suppliers to impose minimum advertised prices on their online retailers, so that there’s a floor price for every product, online or off. We’re already working on that.
There was murmuring around the table. Apparently this was news to some of the directors.
“But there are ways to thwart object-recognition software,” Ben continued. “We create display structures within the stores that confuse the apps while still showing off the products. There are consulting firms that specialize in this. The costs are relatively minor and well worth it. Personally, I think this tactic is a no-brainer.”
Case Study Teaching Notes
Sunil Gupta and Thales S. Teixeira teach cases about showrooming in their digital strategy and executive education classes. Here Gupta shares some thoughts.
What drew you to this story? I teach a case on Amazon and showrooming, but I realized we should cover the topic from the perspective of the brick-and-mortar retailer too.
If technology is disrupting your business, what should you do? What suggestions do students make? Match prices, use anti-showrooming tactics, improve customer service, ask manufacturers to create exclusive SKUs, focus on installation and repairs, emphasize instant gratification. But there are problems with those approaches; this case highlights a few.
What lessons do you hope to teach? When the market changes, companies must reconsider how they create and capture value.
Would consumers miss Best Buy if it disappeared? Yes, because many like to see and touch products. Would manufacturers miss it? Those that don’t have stores would. So Best Buy is creating value. How do you capture it? Ask the manufacturers to pay a fee for showcasing.
“Bertice,” the CEO said.
She realized that she was letting her father dominate the conversation. She asked Ben to hold off, now that the projector was working, and she gave Farb the floor.
“The way they shop is killing us,” Ben interjected.
Bertice spoke up: “Let’s hear him out, Dad.”
Farb gave her a grateful look. “TVs and laptops may seem like commodities that people want to buy only at the lowest possible prices, but so did coffee before Howard Schultz made Starbucks a destination. Why shouldn’t Benjy’s do the same—showcase only the highest-value products and educate customers about them, instead of letting them flounder in an overwhelming, uncurated retail landscape?”
“You’re sounding naïve, Farb,” Ben said. “People will still showroom if they find better deals online.”
“We could still match prices,” the CEO said.
“How could we afford that?” Bertice asked, keen to break up the back-and-forth between the two men.
“There’s no precedent for that in electronics retail,” Ben countered. “It’s a nonstarter. You’ll ruin relationships that we’ve spent decades building. And you’re talking about huge business-model changes that, even if we wanted to make them, would take months—maybe years!—to implement. We need a solution now!”
Several board members nodded in agreement. Bertice could sense that Farb was ready to respond and that her father was up for a fight, but she knew it wouldn’t be a productive one. “Farb, you’re proposing a pretty radical change and it’s a lot for us to digest,” she said quickly. “Dad, it would also be useful to have more detail on those countermeasures you mentioned. So let’s table this discussion for now and get through the other items on our agenda. Farb can send around his deck, with plenty of supporting data, and we can all take some time to review the information. If everyone is amenable, I’d like to arrange a conference call next week to discuss only this and decide on a course of action.”
New Ways to Make Money
The next day, Bertice was in Huntsville, Alabama, to join in the ribbon cutting for a redevelopment project. Several big-box superstores—including a Benjy’s—had been closed and replaced by a mixed-use residential-retail community. Benjy’s still had a presence but a much smaller one.
“Welcome to Benjy’s,” a store employee said when she walked in. “Did you come here today looking for something specific?”
So customers weren’t responding to price-matching, and they were being chased away by excellent service. All this put her in mind of Oz again. This time she didn’t feel like the Wicked Witch; she felt like Dorothy, uprooted by a whirlwind and thrown into a world that made little sense. But no ruby slippers were going to help her get back to the old predictability of retail. She would have to figure out herself how to move forward.
Question: Should Benjy’s fight the showroomers or welcome them?
The Experts Respond
Roberto Leao is a finance executive for a global retail organization.
Based on the environment outlined in the case study, one can see why Ben Jenson wants to shore up the company’s defenses. Without a strategy, he’s probably concerned that showrooming may hurt profits. And some of Farb’s ideas for going on the offense, such as having suppliers provide Benjy’s with exclusive products, seem useful.
You have to do that the right way, though. For a “unique to Benjy’s” initiative to be effective, the products would have to be well differentiated from anything that could be found online. Adding a few bells and whistles wouldn’t be enough. Benjy’s must also keep in mind that many retailers already offer exclusive products—it’s not a novel idea.
One relevant piece that the company is missing is direct feedback from existing and potential customers as to why some visit stores while others shop online and why some of them showroom while others don’t. Ben seems to assume that price is the main factor driving customers to online competitors. But perhaps it’s something else. Maybe availability is the problem; a few ill-timed out-of-stock situations can have a big impact. Or maybe it’s the product assortment or some other aspect of the shopping experience. The answers could help Benjy’s figure out how to win over showroomers and how to better cater to people who like shopping in physical stores.
One relevant piece that the company is missing is direct feedback from existing and potential customers.
Those answers, too, could highlight avenues of opportunity, backed by customer research rather than just Farb’s intuition. Perhaps Benjy’s could indeed build competitive advantage by focusing more on the curation function and increasing its emphasis on service. Consumers do appreciate interacting with informed sales reps, trying out products firsthand, and getting items immediately: You see something, you like it, and you take it home.
That said, all those in-store initiatives would need to be seamlessly integrated with an online strategy so that each experience complements the other. Customers shouldn’t think “Benjy’s online” or “Benjy’s brick-and-mortar,” but just “Benjy’s.” The company should use its website to expand on the in-store assortment and help customers find the best product and the best quality without having to do a lot of independent research. That’s where the opportunity lies.
Steve Conine is the cofounder and chief technology officer of Wayfair, an online retailer of home furnishings and housewares.
I like Farb’s idea of transforming the Benjy’s stores into paid showrooms for manufacturers. I don’t know whether the concept could work financially, but at least he’s thinking outside the box.
The CEO is right when he says that the world of retail has dramatically changed. And like other physical stores that sell branded products, Benjy’s may need to rethink its traditional business model if it wants to survive.
I help lead a company that facilitates online sales of furniture and furnishings—items that many people would have once said they’d never buy online. Who could commit to a multi-thousand-dollar purchase of a sofa, say, without sitting on it and feeling the fabric? Low awareness of manufacturers’ brands is another factor stacked against our business: Few people are going to hunt online for a particular sofa maker’s products the way they’d hunt for a Samsung phone or a Stephen King novel.
It’s true that the vast majority of furniture sales still happen off-line, and Wayfair even experiences a good deal of reverse showrooming, with consumers coming to our site to research products and then going to physical stores (not ours, since we don’t have any) to buy items similar to those they’ve seen online. Yet more and more people do buy sofas—and every other kind of product—online. That’s because we and other online retailers are improving the shopping experience, the prices are compelling, and digital customers don’t have to spend their weekends driving around and visiting showrooms.
If I were an executive of any business stuck in the brick-and-mortar world, I’d be really worried. I wouldn’t be spending my time thinking about how to better defend my rapidly shrinking physical territory, as Ben is. You can go only so far to obfuscate the specific brands and models you’re selling and thwart the price-comparison apps. So instead I’d be trying to create an exciting online business that would meet my customers’ needs and capture their imagination.
If I were an executive of any business stuck in the brick-and-mortar world, I’d be really worried.
An online Benjy’s might not be able to compete with Amazon on certain parameters, such as price and assortment, but it might be able to carve out an advantage by learning to do things differently—for example, by providing a better interface. Most online retailers are good at showing you what they’ve got and filling your orders, but they’re not as good at selling or responding to vague queries; Benjy’s could try to fill those gaps. Doing so isn’t impossible. Wayfair has gotten pretty skilled at online selling—we do our own inspirational photography of our products—as well as fielding unfocused inquiries.
Benjy’s could also explore becoming a resource site for knowledge about electronics or appliances or other items it sells. That’s what Wayfair did: We made ourselves, in effect, the Wikipedia of furniture, so thousands of visitors come to us for information. That’s fine—over time, by providing ever-better consumer education and third-party reviews, we’ve encouraged people to shop our site as well as learn from it. And if you have a huge number of page views, your conversion rate doesn’t have to be very high. You can still make money if even a modest percentage of visitors actually buy.
The past couple of decades have demonstrated that the macro trend is going against the retail chains that depend on physical stores. Those of us in e-commerce, even though we face numerous obstacles, tend to feel that we’re headed in the right direction—that the wind is at our backs. The leaders of Benjy’s can save themselves a lot of wasted energy by turning around and making use of that wind to get out ahead of their competition.
- TT Thales S. Teixeira is the co-founder of Decoupling.co, a digital disruption and transformation consulting firm. He is the author of Unlocking the Customer Value Chain: How Decoupling Drives Consumer Disruption and a panel judge in CNBC’s Disruptor 50 annual startup competition. Previously he was a professor at Harvard Business School for ten years and now teaches at the University of California.
- SG Sunil Gupta is the Edward W. Carter Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.
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US government and 17 states sue Amazon in landmark monopoly case
The US government and 17 states are suing Amazon in a landmark monopoly case reflecting years of allegations that the e-commerce giant abused its economic dominance and harmed fair competition.
The groundbreaking lawsuit by the Federal Trade Commission and 17 attorneys general marks the government’s sharpest attack yet against Amazon, a company that started off selling books on the internet but has since become known as “the everything store,” expanding into selling a vast range of consumer products, creating a globe-spanning logistics network and becoming a powerhouse in other technologies such as cloud computing.
The 172-page complaint alleges Amazon unfairly promotes its own platform and services at the expense of third-party sellers who rely on the company’s e-commerce marketplace for distribution.
For example, according to the FTC, Amazon has harmed competition by requiring sellers on its platform to purchase Amazon’s in-house logistics services in order to secure the best seller benefits, referred to as “Prime” eligibility. It also claims the company anticompetitively forces sellers to list their products on Amazon at the lowest prices anywhere on the web, instead of allowing sellers to offer their products at competing marketplaces for a lower price.
That practice is already the subject of a separate lawsuit targeting Amazon filed by California’s attorney general last year.
Because of Amazon’s dominance in e-commerce, sellers have little option but to accept Amazon’s terms, the FTC alleges, resulting in higher prices for consumers and a worse consumer experience. Amazon also ranks its own products in marketplace search results higher than those sold by third parties, the FTC said.
Amazon is “squarely focused on preventing anyone else from gaining that same critical mass of customers,” FTC Chair Lina Khan told reporters Tuesday. “This complaint reflects the cutting edge and best thinking on how competition occurs in digital markets and, similarly, the tactics that Amazon has used to suffocate rivals, deprive them of oxygen, and really leave a stunted landscape in its wake.”
The states involved in the case are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin.
Next steps in the case
The complaint was filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington, and seeks a court order blocking Amazon from engaging in the allegedly anticompetitive behavior.
The FTC isn’t ruling out a possible breakup of Amazon — nor the potential for individual executives to be named in a landmark antitrust case against the e-commerce giant, according to Khan.
Speaking Tuesday just hours after the lawsuit was filed, Khan declined to say that the FTC would specifically seek a breakup as a remedy to Amazon’s allegedly illegal monopoly.
“At this stage, the complaint is really focused on the issue of liability,” Khan said at the event hosted by Bloomberg News in Washington.
But the agency’s complaint, filed in Seattle federal court, suggests that any court order to address the issue could include “structural relief,” a legal term referring to a potential breakup of Amazon.
Asked about that request, Khan said the FTC is broadly interested in any relief that can effectively stop Amazon’s allegedly anticompetitive behavior.
“Ultimately, you will want to make sure that any remedy is halting the illegal conduct, preventing a recurrence and ensuring that Amazon is not able to profit and benefit from its illegal behavior,” Khan said Tuesday afternoon. “When we get to the issue of remedy, those are going to be the principles we’ll be focused on.”
Khan also left open the possibility that Amazon executives could be held personally liable if there is sufficient evidence of their responsibility for Amazon’s allegedly illegal conduct.
“We want to make sure that we are bringing cases against the right defendants,” Khan said in response to a question from CNN about whether the FTC considered naming specific executives in Tuesday’s case. “If we think that there is a basis for doing so, we won’t hesitate to do that.”
The suit makes Amazon the third tech giant after Google and Meta to be hit with sweeping US government allegations that the company spent years violating federal antitrust laws, reflecting policymakers’ growing worldwide hostility toward Big Tech that intensified after 2016. The litigation could take years to play out. But just as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his spectacular wealth have inspired critics to draw comparisons to America’s Gilded Age, so may the FTC lawsuit come to symbolize a modern repeat of the antitrust crackdown of the early 20th century.
In a release, Khan accused Amazon of using “punitive and coercive tactics” to preserve an illegal monopoly.
“Amazon is now exploiting its monopoly power to enrich itself while raising prices and degrading service for the tens of millions of American families who shop on its platform and the hundreds of thousands of businesses that rely on Amazon to reach them,” Khan said. “Today’s lawsuit seeks to hold Amazon to account for these monopolistic practices and restore the lost promise of free and fair competition.”
Amazon rejects Khan’s logic
“Today’s suit makes clear the FTC’s focus has radically departed from its mission of protecting consumers and competition,”said David Zapolsky, Amazon’s senior vice president of global public policy and general counsel. He said Amazon’s practices have helped spur competition, innovation and selection across the retail industry. He argued that Amazon has fostered lower prices, faster delivery and helped small businesses sell their goods.
“If the FTC gets its way, the result would be fewer products to choose from, higher prices, slower deliveries for consumers, and reduced options for small businesses — the opposite of what antitrust law is designed to do,” he said. “The lawsuit filed by the FTC today is wrong on the facts and the law, and we look forward to making that case in court.”
In a subsequent blog post , Zapolsky warned that the FTC suit could not only force Amazon to list products at a higher price point than on rival marketplaces, but also that it could raise Amazon’s costs of doing business — costs that may then be passed along to consumers in the form of higher Amazon Prime subscription prices or slower shipping times.
“We respect the role the FTC has historically played in protecting consumers and promoting competition,” the blog post said. “Unfortunately, it appears the current FTC is radically departing from that approach, filing a misguided lawsuit against Amazon that would, if successful, force Amazon to engage in practices that actually harm consumers and the many businesses that sell in our store—such as having to feature higher prices, offer slower or less reliable Prime shipping, and make Prime more expensive and less convenient.”
Amazon is bringing ads to Prime Video and will charge you to avoid them
For years, Amazon’s critics including US lawmakers, European regulators, third-party sellers, consumer advocacy groups and more have accused the company of everything from mistreating its workers to forcing its third-party sellers to accept anticompetitive terms. Amazon has unfairly used sellers’ own commercial data against them, opponents have said, so it can figure out what products Amazon should sell itself. And the fact that Amazon competes with sellers on the very same marketplace it controls represents a conflict of interest that should be considered illegal, many of Amazon’s critics have said.
But Tuesday’s FTC suit is more narrowly focused, taking aim at Amazon’s behavior in two specific markets: an “online superstore” market, in which its conduct allegedly harmed shoppers; and an “online marketplace services” market serving independent sellers. Amazon’s deliberate self-preferencing of its own products in search results is an outgrowth of the underlying anticompetitive behavior at issue in the case, said John Newman, deputy director of the FTC’s competition bureau.
A defining moment for Lina Khan
The lawsuit represents a watershed moment in Khan’s career. She is widely credited with kickstarting antitrust scrutiny of Amazon in the United States with a seminal law paper in 2017. She later helped lead a congressional investigation into the tech industry’s alleged competition abuses, detailing in a 450-page report how Amazon — as well as Apple, Google and Meta — enjoy “monopoly power” and that there is “significant evidence” to show that the companies’ anticompetitive conduct has hindered innovation, reduced consumer choice and weakened democracy.
The investigation led to a raft of legislative proposals aimed at reining in the companies, but the most significant ones have stalled under a barrage of industry lobbying and decisions by congressional leaders not to bring the bills up for a final vote.
Lawmakers’ inaction has left it to antitrust enforcers to police the tech industry’s alleged harms to competition. In 2021, President Joe Biden stunned many in Washington when he tapped Khan not only to serve on the FTC but to lead the agency, sending a signal that he supported tough antitrust oversight.
Since then Khan has taken an aggressive enforcement posture, particularly toward the tech industry. Under her watch, the FTC has sued to block numerous tech acquisitions, most notably Microsoft’s $69 billion deal to acquire video game publisher Activision Blizzard. It has moved to restrict how companies may collect and use consumers’ personal information, and warned them of the risks of generative artificial intelligence.
Mounting monopoly scrutiny
Throughout, the FTC has scrutinized Amazon — suing the company in June for allegedly tricking millions of consumers into signing up for Amazon Prime and reaching multimillion-dollar settlements in May with the company over alleged privacy violations linked to Amazon’s smart home devices.
But the latest suit against Amazon may rank as the most significant of all, because it drives at the heart of Amazon’s e-commerce business and focuses on some of the most persistent criticisms of the company.
In one heavily redacted portion of the FTC lawsuit, agency attorneys cryptically described Project Nessie, an “algorithm” and “pricing system” that has allegedly “extracted” an undisclosed amount of value “from American households.” It is unclear what Project Nessie is or how it works, but the FTC alleges in the complaint that the company’s program “belies its public claim that it ‘seek[s] to be Earth’s most customer-centric company.’” Amazon didn’t immediately respond to CNN’s questions about Project Nessie.
In a sign of how threatening Amazon perceived Khan’s ascent to be, the company in 2021 called for her recusal from all cases involving the tech giant.
Khan has resisted those calls. And in remarks to reporters this week, Khan deflected questions about her past work on Amazon, praising the efforts of FTC staff in completing the agency’s investigation. On Tuesday, the FTC said it held a unanimous 3-0 vote authorizing the lawsuit; Khan was among those voting to proceed.
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14 Ecommerce Case Studies to Inspire You
We’ve spent hundreds of hours analyzing the world’s most successful DTC companies, including Sephora, Dollar Shave Club, Casper, Warby Parker, and Allbirds, to create ecommerce case studies you can use as inspiration for your own online store.
Today, we’ll share with you the 14 best ecommerce case studies that you can use to help drive more visitors to your website and convert more customers.
Let’s get right into it!
- The Farmer’s Dog marketing strategy: 6 tactics that you can apply in your own business
- The secret behind the Care/of marketing strategy
- Dollar Shave Club marketing success
- How Casper took the mattress industry by storm and reached a $1.1 billion valuation
- How Glossier became a $1.2 billion company
- How Happy Box 10x-ed their online store revenue during Covid
- How Warby Parker reached a $3 billion valuation and became an ecommerce giant
- 4 steps for growing your brand organically using ColourPop’s marketing strategy
- Replicate Urban Outfitters’ marketing strategy with these 4 tips
- How Gymshark bulked up into a $1 billion+ brand
- How Allbirds went from a small startup to a billion-dollar sneaker brand in 4 years
- How Lunya achieved $25M revenue
- 6+1 tips from Rituals to create meaningful moments online
- 13 solid tips for mastering the art of personalization like Sephora
1. The Farmer’s Dog marketing strategy: 6 tactics that you can apply in your own business
The Farmer’s Dog was founded in 2014 by two dog lovers. 6 years later, they’re delivering millions of meals monthly.
How did they do it?
We analyzed their sales funnel and boiled it down to 6 lessons you can apply in your own business to generate more sales.
Read the full The Farmer’s Dog case study .
2. The secret behind the Care/of marketing strategy
Every small ecommerce site owner dreams about a success story like Care/of’s. They achieved a $225 million valuation and were acquired by Bayer in just 6 years.
In this case study, we analyze the marketing strategies that Care/of used, including:
- Quiz funnel
- Content marketing
- Social media
- Paid advertising
Get inspired by these strategies to grow your own online sales.
Read the full Care/of case study .
3. Dollar Shave Club marketing success
Dollar Shave Club is one of the most talked-about DTC brands, and with good reason. Their famous “our blades are f***ing great” video went viral in just a few days. The video went on to collect 4.75 million views in the first 3 months and has over 27 million views today.
This launch video gave them a killer head start, and their witty brand voice, strong content marketing campaigns, and direct-to-consumer business model enabled them to grow further. They were so successful that Unilever bought the company in a billion-dollar cash acquisition in 2016.
In this case study, we cover everything you need to know about Dollar Shave Club’s marketing game plan to build your own billion-dollar empire.
Read the full Dollar Shave Club case study .
4. How Casper took the mattress industry by storm and reached a $1.1 billion valuation
In this case study, you’ll get a sneak peek into how Casper was able to build unprecedented trust and convince people to purchase mattresses online.
We look at their well-rounded content marketing strategy, which covers topics of interest for visitors at every stage of the buyer’s journey.
We also discuss how they utilize social proof to build trust, their unbeatable guarantee, and their referral marketing strategies . Don’t miss this one!
Read the full Casper case study .
5. How Glossier became a $1.2 billion company
Glossier is one of our favorite ecommerce case studies. If you have a beauty brand, you’ll want to read it.
We’ve studied Glossier’s entire customer experience to find 5 lessons you can use for your own brand:
- Know your target audience and build relationships with them
- Use (micro-) influencer marketing
- Focus on branding
- Publish engaging content
- Provide an amazing user experience
Click the link below for all the juicy details.
Read the full Glossier case study .
6. How Happy Box 10x-ed their online store revenue during Covid
Happy Box is not as well-known as some of the other ecommerce stores on this list, but its growth is bound to inspire you. The company started as a side project and grew into a full-time ecommerce business during the Covid pandemic. In fact, they were able to achieve a 10x growth rate in 2021!
In this case study, we look at the marketing blueprint behind their astounding success.
Read the full Happy Box case study .
7. How Warby Parker reached a $3 billion valuation and became an ecommerce giant
The idea of buying eyeglasses online was uncharted territory for consumers a decade ago. But Warby Parker’s phenomenal marketing helped to overcome that challenge.
Their website crashed just after its official launch, their top 15 most popular styles sold out within 4 weeks, and they collected a waitlist of 20,000 customers during that time.
In this post, we share the key strategy Warby Parker used to reach its target audience so quickly and went on to become the $3-billion giant everyone knows.
Read the full Warby Parker case study .
8. 4 steps for growing your brand organically using ColourPop’s marketing strategy
In this case study, we share 4 key takeaways from ColourPop’s winning social media strategy:
- Give freebies in exchange for authentic reviews
- Build meaningful relationships with your influencers
- Get your hashtag trending
- Host Instagram giveaways
Check out the tips that you can easily copy for your own ecommerce company.
Read the full ColourPop case study .
9. Replicate Urban Outfitters’ marketing strategy with these 4 tips
Urban Outfitters is different from a lot of the ecommerce brands on this list because they didn’t start online and grow into a global retail giant… instead, they started as a brick-and-mortar business (back in 1970) and managed to make the successful transition to online sales.
It’s worth talking about them because they’re fantastic at keeping in touch with their target audience (Millennials and Gen Z). They also succeed in strengthening customer loyalty with a rewards program.
Check out this case study to learn how you can do the same with your business to drive sales.
Read the full Urban Outfitters case study .
10. How Gymshark bulked up into a $1 billion+ brand
Gymshark is well known for its influencer marketing strategy. In fact, the company was one of the early adopters of influencer marketing.
In this case study, we cover how Gymshark managed to build its fan base, and we spill the beans on what they’re still doing today to delight customers. Check out our 6 key takeaways below!
Read the full Gymshark case study .
11. How Allbirds went from a small startup to a billion-dollar sneaker brand in 4 years
Allbirds is among the most popular ecommerce businesses, especially among circles of professionals in Silicon Valley, including Google co-founder Larry Page. The company differentiates itself from competitors by focusing on three important principles:
- Simple design
- Sustainable shoes, made from nature
Check out this case study to learn how they fight with their competitors, how they use PR campaigns and word-of-mouth marketing to get people talking about the brand, and more.
Read the full Allbirds case study .
12. How Lunya achieved $25M revenue
Lunya was able to disrupt the women’s sleepwear industry quickly by creating products that bridge the gap between style and sensibility. According to Lunya co-founder Ashley Merrill, the brand was able to grow by putting customers first and never losing sight of the customer’s perspective.
We analyzed the steps Lunya took to build their brand and create a successful customer-centric strategy.
Read the full Lunya case study .
13. 6+1 tips from Rituals to create meaningful moments online
Rituals, founded in 2000, has an impressive product line including skincare, body care, makeup, and scented candles.
They really care about their customers and focus on creating an engaging customer experience online. We wanted to find out how they do it, so in this case study, we explore 6+1 tips from the marketing masters at Rituals.
Read the full Rituals case study .
14. 13 solid tips for mastering the art of personalization like Sephora
Sephora is a cosmetic behemoth that we can all learn from. What’s the secret behind their worldwide success?
In this case study, we share 13 tips they use to delight customers and create loyalty, including:
- Driving sales through personalization
- Helping customers make informed purchasing decisions
- Using YouTube to drive conversions
- Nurturing long-term customer relationships
Read the full Sephora case study .
Well, that’s it—these are the best ecommerce case studies we’ve found during our extensive research! Hopefully you’ve found plenty of inspiration on this list.
No matter how big (or small) your company is or what industry you’re in, you can use tips and strategies from these case studies in your own store.
Which case study is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!
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Case Study | The Next Wave of Luxury E-Commerce
- Lauren Sherman
Over the past 20 years, the business of luxury has transformed dramatically, as family-run heritage brands became multi-billion dollar fashion powerhouses, expanding the luxury goods customer base far further than Louis Vuitton and his steamer trunks could have ever imagined. In 2019, the market for personal luxury goods was worth €281 billion (about $310 billion at current exchange), according to Bain & Company, up from €116 billion (about $128 billion) in 2000.
That's our new normal. But before the crisis turned the world upside down, luxury goods purveyors, including French conglomerates LVMH and Kering, as well as Swiss group Richemont , had won over a generation of consumers obsessed with newness, exclusivity and glamour. Success came from high-touch retail experiences and endless streams of novel products that ranged in price from prohibitively expensive for most to downright affordable for many. But that love affair has also been kindled by the digital age , which has allowed shoppers to engage with their favourite brands whenever and wherever they want.
In 2010 , €4.3 billion (about $4.7 billion) worth of personal luxury goods were sold online, and Net-a-Porter was the most trusted digital seller of luxury goods, not to mention the hottest fashion start-up in the business. That year, Richemont acquired a majority stake in the business for £350 million (about $434 billion).
Multi-brand retailers are now competing for customers in a fashion market where supply outweighs demand. Discount culture has taken hold, especially in the US, where stores online and off routinely slash their prices (and margins), forcing some retailers into bankruptcy — including world-famous store Barneys New York — and others into unprofitability.
"I really don't see a world in which you're going to have all of these competing multi-brand retailers who are all selling the exact same inventory," said Jennifer Hyman , chief executive of fashion rental service Rent the Runway. "They did not disrupt themselves."
Click below to read the case study now.
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- LVMH Moët Hennessy - Louis Vuitton
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The best ecommerce case studies (63+ success examples).
In this article
One of the best ways to learn how to grow your ecommerce business is to model those who have done it.
Without the right connections, it's hard to get insider information on how these ecommerce sites became so successful.
You may want to know the details about marketing strategy , search engine optimization, conversion rate optimization, and best customer service practices that these ecommerce businesses use to explode their sales.
You can now peer into the minds of these ecommerce businesses, right from the comfort of your own home.
Through detailed case studies of successful ecommerce companies.
That’s why we have done the hard work of sorting out the BEST real-life examples there are, complete with insight on everything from their marketing campaigns to their chosen ecommerce platform .
Take a peek into what these ecommerce stores are doing to succeed and see what you can apply to your online store.
(Oh, before you jump in, perhaps you'd like to hear from some ecommerce experts. If so, check out our post on the best ecommerce podcasts ).
The Best ecommerce Case Studies and Business Success Stories
1. how mellow made $200,000+ in preorder sales in less than a month.
Mellow is a company that makes a magical kitchen robot that syncs with your smartphone to cook for you at your convenience. The founder, Ze Pinto Ferreira was interning at Braun when he realized everything he knew (mechanical engineering, food, product design) could intersect to create impactful work.
He knew the sous-vide he wanted to create should change home cooking dramatically, but he also knew he couldn’t do it alone.
That’s when he set off to find a co-founder, Catarina who was working as a freelance designer.
He managed to convince her to use her talents on a potentially groundbreaking company and the two of them built Mellow together.
What They Did To Succeed
Using Trycelery.com as their pre-order platform, Mellow was launched to great success. They collected a total of $64,000 in pre-orders in ONLY 3 days and eventually made $200,000+ in less than a month.
In the case study, Ferreira mentioned how he marketed Mellow by reaching out directly to 100+ reporters. Given the background of both Ferreira and Catarina, though, PR seemed to be out of their reach.
This is where the classic Paul Graham business strategy comes into play. To get your startup off the ground, you have to do things that don’t scale. Don’t know how to do PR? Teach yourself, reach out to reporters, and get your product or service in publications like TechCrunch and TheNextWeb.
That's exactly what the founders of Mellow did, a process that earned them six figures within the first month of launching.
2. SumoJerky - The Results Of The 24-Hour Business Challenge
Noah Kagan is known for starting multiple companies and growing all of them to 7- and 8-figures in revenue (including the budgeting startup Mint.com). As part of a 24-Hour Business challenge to prove to anyone that they can start a business today, Noah asked his followers which business he should start so he could show he would make $1,000 a day.
The end result?
A beef jerky subscription company that made more than $1,000 in 24 hours.
What He Did To Succeed
Noah made $3,030 in total revenue in 24 hours.
- Made a basic budget so he could work backwards to find out how much he needed to sell to make $1000.
- Created a customer avatar so he knew who he should target
- Started reaching out to people who he thought fit the customer avatar
Not only did he complete the challenge, but he also exceeded it (not after downing 4 cups of coffee though.)
Create a customer avatar to know who your target audience is. It’s astounding how many businesses do not know who their ideal customer is. Find out who is already buying your product or service and then reach out to more people like them. This is at the core of Noah's business process and what makes him such a notable success story.
3. How Two Friends Turned Up The Heat And Sold $170K Worth Of Spicy Honey in 10 Months
Chilli peppers? Yes!
Together? Um.. what?
If you’re confused, don’t be. Spicy honey is the brainchild of MixedMade, a company that makes delicious products by mixing unexpected ingredients together.
Their first ever product – Bees Knees Spicy Honey – combines raw honey with a special blend of chilli peppers to create a balance of sweet mellowness and spicy intensity.
(Yum… Now I want some for myself!)
Their first $1,000 came from emailing their personal contacts and posting to their own personal Facebook pages.
Then, they made a list of potential press targets and aggressively pursued them.
This worked to great success.
A few modest mentions on smaller sites like Huckberry later grew into features on Uncrate, The Kitchn, CNBC, the Today Show, Bon Appetite, Esquire and Vanity Fair.
The press coverage exploded their business, making them the ultimate success story.
Everyone loves being featured on national media, but the press begins from the smaller guys.
In Trust Me, I’m Lying, media genius Ryan Holiday discusses the concept of “trading up the chain”, where larger publications often take content from smaller publications.
Start by getting yourself featured on smaller blogs and publications, and slowly “trade up the chain” to bigger features on national media. The return on investment of this particular marketing strategy is tenfold.
4. How Opena Case Hit 189% Of Their $15,000 Kickstarter Target And Built A Million Dollar Business
Pretty iPhone cases are aplenty, but truly useful and practical iPhone cases..?
Meet Opena. Opena is an iPhone case with a slide-out bottle opener.
If you’ve ever fumbled at a party looking for a bottle opener, or wondered if your teeth were strong enough to crack that bottle of Heineken open…
Opena is the solution.
Opena launched on Kickstarter in June 2011 and successfully raised $28,303 (surpassing their initial $15,000 target.)
How did they do it?
They built a tribe of early adopters before they even launched the campaign. When they launched the campaign, they rewarded the early backers with early bird rewards, who then gleefully spread the word for them.
Within half an hour of going live, the early bird backers were all sold out.
The takeaway I want to highlight here has nothing to do with Opena’s excellent customer acquisition tactics. It does, however, have to do with the founder Chris Peters.
Just take a look at his bio:
- Studied Industrial Design right out of high school.
- Spent 4 years working at a large firm that specialized in medical machines. He was involved in industrial design work, prototyping and graphic interfaces.
- Then worked at various design consultancies.
- Took a year off to wakeboard.
- Worked for a much smaller design consultancy, which helped him get a sense of what it’s like to run a small business.
- Sold software for a year to learn how to do sales.
- Ran his own design consultancy for 3 years.
This means that he had at least a decade of experience before even founding the company. This also means that he had deep expertise – both to identify a problem worth solving and developing a solution to fix the problem.
The biggest business problem we see is that most people make the jump to entrepreneurship without understanding that many successful entrepreneurs had built up deep domain expertise in their fields before starting a company. This makes it difficult to identify your strengths and weaknesses as an entrepreneur, which is an essential ability to have when launching a business.
5. #TheGreatBuild Project
Richard Lazazzera was part of Shopify ’s Growth Team, where he helped the platform grow from 60,000 to 200,000 merchants. A Better Lemonade Stand is his blog, where he shares comprehensive guides on how to build and grow eCommerce businesses.
#TheGreatBuild was a project he undertook to inspire others to build their own eCommerce sites. He built an eCommerce company – Finch Goods Co. – and detailed the entire journey on #TheGreatBuild (14 chapters long!)
Although Richard withheld his sales reports (so we don’t know how much he actually made), he did write a case study with an incredibly detailed step-by-step guide on how to start, brand and build your own eCommerce store.
Richard considers these 6 elements crucial to your business strategy for your eCommerce store — and he addressed it by introducing several apps:
- Up-Selling at Checkout
- Email Capture/Newsletter Signup
- Abandon Cart Emails
- Referrals ( Download ReferralCandy for your Shopify store here .)
- Exit Intent Offer
The 6 elements that Richard mentioned in his post are fantastic. There are usually some holes that eCommerce entrepreneurs miss out in their rush to build their store and sell quickly, which Richard has kindly pointed out here.
Fix those areas and you should see your sales soar.
BONUS: How to Setup a Referral Program For Your Shopify Store
6 . Social Media Marketing: How A Small E-Commerce Site Attracted 293,000 Facebook Fans
Diamond Candles is a company that offers scented, soy-based candles that have a ring at the bottom. This has resulted in their customers spreading word-of-mouth about them due to the excitement of potentially winning the prize.
Instead of purchasing ads online to drive sales to their business, their predominant marketing strategy has been to utilize referrals and social media.
The key strategy behind their success has been user-generated content by its customer base.
Without spending a single cent on ads, these photos grew the company’s Facebook Fan Page to 469,661 fans while also boosting their product page conversion rate by 13%.
Knowing that more customer-contributed photos essentially made them more successful, they then created an environment of encouraging their customers to share more photos.
Here’s what they did:
- A call-to-action found on the candle urging customers to take a photo with the ring and share it on social media, exposing their brand to even more potential customers (for free)
- Giveaways that encourage customers to create and share images for a chance to win free products, developing customer loyalty
- Share all the photos gathered on social media, creating an impression that it is normal to share Diamond Candle-related photos
Your customers are your greatest ambassadors. Find a way to incentivize them to spread word-of-mouth for you (or use ReferralCandy ). This not only increases your reach to potential customers but also improves customer loyalty.
7 . How To Create a $4,000 Per Month Muse In 5 Days
It’s Noah again! (Told you he’s famous.)
In this case study, Noah retells how he helped Daniel Bliss, a postal worker, turn his hobby into a real eCommerce business making $4,000 a month. The purpose? Help Daniel quit his day-job.
Daniel started his business by solving his own problem — neck pain while belaying.
Prior to meeting Noah, Daniel had already sourced a manufacturer and set up his own website to sell his shades. He was also off to a good start – having sold 12 pairs of shades to people in his climbing group.
But here’s the best part:
After meeting Noah, he HIT his goal.
Noah taught him the same thing he did for his SumoJerky business (detailed above):
- Reverse-engineer the number of sales you need
- Try different tactics to make it work
The purpose of this was to help Daniel figure out what marketing tactics work… and double down on them. In just 5 days, Daniel and Noah tried at least 10+ tactics and found his most successful channel.
Daniel received a message from a large online site, who placed an order of $4,200!
This marketing case study is less about the specific marketing strategy so much as it's about the entire business process. You will never know what will work for your business. Reverse-engineer the number of sales you need, try different tactics, review them and double down on those that worked for you.
8. How We Built an Ecommerce Business from Scratch and Generated $922.16 in Revenue in 3 Days
Do you need a long time to build an eCommerce business?
Some people believe so. After all, there are a lot of logistics to handle – domain, hosting, website content, pricing, supplier sourcing, launching, branding...
...not to mention the effort of reaching your potential customers with content marketing (and then analyzing it all on Google Analytics).
But WHAT IF you challenged yourself to set something up in 3 days?
Could it be done?
Richard Lazazzera took up the challenge and proceeded to do everything (from determining what to sell to actually making sales)… in only 3 days.
In total, Richard made $922.16 in total revenue from this little experiment.
He went down every single possible marketing channel one-by-one, tried it and see what results it delivered. In fact, in only 3 days, he tested channels like Reddit, Product Hunt, personal outreach, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.
How’s that for fast?
Building an eCommerce store (in fact, any business) is a culmination of multiple small decisions. Make those decisions fast and push forward. You will never discover the results through thinking, only by testing.
9. How To Build A Menswear Brand - An Interview With Owen & Fred
Owen & Fred was a company founded by Mike Arnot after he realised that high-quality yet affordable American-made men’s accessories were not available in the market.
Make your own.
Mike then went on to create an e-commerce business that curates great products and help others like him do the same.
Repeat orders make up 35% of Owen & Fred’s revenue. In their industry, that’s incredible. Almost unbelievable.
That’s because of Owen & Fred values and prizes their customers. They made their products, their marketing campaigns and the entire customer experience amazing.
They even received a compliment from one of their customers: “never purchased from a company that actually delivered a product that amazing.”
Even if you’re an e-commerce store that does drop-shipping or product curation, you still have to ensure that your product(s) is amazing.
An amazing product makes marketing easier (because even great marketing can’t save bad products).
10. E-commerce: Moving beyond shopping cart abandonment nets 65% more checkout conversions
If you thought there were only several kinds of envelopes available, you would be wrong.
(Though I wouldn’t fault you, because I didn’t know myself either.)
Envelopes.com is an eCommerce business that sells almost any type of envelope you can imagine. White, brown, and green are common sights at this online marketplace specifically created for selling envelopes.
Remember what Richard Lazazzera said above in his marketing foundations?
One of them was Abandonment Cart Emails.
Envelopes.com discovered that a significant number of their website visitors visit multiple times before buying. They decided that these groups of visitors were the opportunity to help increase their online sales.
To do this, they sent emails to encourage these visitors to return, which reduced their abandonment rate and improved their conversions.
There are many touchpoints your customers will have with your business. Optimize these touchpoints and improve your sales.
11. How a Small Menswear Brand Utilized Word-of-Mouth to Get Over $420,000 On Kickstarter
Think space tech is cool?
How about something cooler? How about… integrating your clothes with space tech?
That’s what Ministry of Supply did. Ministry of Supply is a menswear apparel brand that infuses fashion with space tech.
Their first-ever product, the Apollo features Phase-Changing Materials adapted from NASA spacesuits that help regulate your body temperature.
Trading up the chain.
Instead of directly approaching massive tech blogs like TechCrunch, Ministry of Supply started small. They pitched 150+ product-relevant blogs with customized emails, and got themselves featured, raising $30,000 in 5 days for their Kickstarter campaign.
Of course, as the above example of MixedMade shows, trading up the chain means bigger publications will follow the trail of smaller publications.
And naturally… that happened for MoS.
TechCrunch and Forbes later featured them — and that skyrocketed their Kickstarter funding to $400,000.
Find a unique angle to your product that everyone can easily remember — which will encourage your customers to “remark” about your product to their friends.
Their first product, Apollo was remarkable because it was clothes infused with space tech.
Their second product, a pressure-mapping sock, was eventually re-positioned to be “coffee socks” because everyone remembered they used coffee beans to remove the odours in the socks.
Make it easy to share, and people will.
12. How I Built an Online T-Shirt Business and Made $1,248.90 in 3 Weeks
Shopify’s core value on their blog is “do something, tell people.” (And of course, promote their own platform.)
That’s why it’s in their interest to show how easy it is to set up an eCommerce store in minutes and get sales in as little as 3 days (as seen in example #8.) But it’s also to our delight that we get to see firsthand how to build something from scratch.
(By the way, it's also as easy to set up ReferralCandy for your Shopify store .)
This time around, Shopify staff Tucker Schreiber took on the challenge of building a T-shirt business in a month.
In less than a month, ThinkPup, the store they set up generated $1,248.90 in revenue. Not fantastic, but a great start for a new store.
Tucker tried a variety of online marketing channels to acquire customers and found that he got the most sales from Reddit and Instagram.
This shows that you don’t have to overthink your marketing channels. Sometimes posting to free places like Reddit (where people already gather) will help you get sales.
Always test new marketing channels for your product. While you may think that [insert your niche’s favourite channel] is the way to go because that’s how people have done it, you will actually never know which channel will be profitable for you.
13. How An Ex-Con Turned His Life Around And Built an $80k per Month Ecommerce Business
As Robert himself mentions in this case study, the odds seemed stacked against him.
He was an ex-felon, he didn’t have a lot of experience in sales and marketing and he wasn’t in a great financial position.
However, something about being an ex-felon drove him to want to be different and stand out. And that’s how he eventually created National Parks Depot, an eCommerce business that sells outdoor adventure gears and apparels.
Starting with a small ad budget of $60, he got a return of nearly $1,000 in sales. He then doubled the ad spend and got back double his ROI. He eventually scaled up his ad spend and hit $80,000 in sales.
Don’t be afraid to spend money to promote your products. Even without much money, Robert was willing to invest to test if Facebook Ads would work for his business.
Invest money to get more sales, so test to see if paid advertising can work for your business.
14. How I Imported Gaming Glasses With Alibaba and Made $2,416.51 In 5 Weeks
This is the another Shopify challenge Shopify employees took on. In Example #8, we saw how they started a matcha green tea company from scratch in ONLY 3 days. In Example #13, we saw how they began selling t-shirts online in LESS than a month.
This time around, another Shopify employee Corey Ferreira took on the challenge and decided to set up an online eCommerce store selling blue-light blocking glasses for gamers.
The result this time?
$2,416.51 in 5 weeks.
Similar to the rest of the guys who took up challenges at Shopify, he ran through multiple marketing channels pretty quickly.
The one that generated the most sales for him was setting up affiliate commissions and getting influencers to help promote his product.
( Pro-Tip: Supercharge your influencer marketing, and get more word-of-mouth sales with ReferralCandy .)
Are there people who command massive audiences in your niche? Reach out to them and propose an affiliate deal, and get them to promote your product to their audience.
15. How One Ecommerce Entrepreneur Explored New Sales Channels – And Took Revenues From $8K to $96K per Month
Eating healthily is kind of a chore.
We all know we need to eat healthier, sleep more and work out, but we do none of that. Because we’re too busy.
Enter Raw Generation.
Raw Generation is a company that makes drinking raw, unpasteurized juice from fresh fruits and vegetables more convenient.
After initially promoting on social media and getting no traction, Jessica, the founder was introduced to Lifebooker, a deal site.
After promoting on Lifebooker, they hit a home run.
Majority of Raw Generation’s sales come from deal sites like Groupon, Gilt and Rue La La. (They are no longer using Gilt or Rue La La.)
Once you discover a marketing channel that is working for you, don’t go seeking new marketing channels. Double down on it and make it work for you over and over again.
16. 80/20 Validation: The Cheap And Fast Way To Prove A Business
[caption id="attachment_22471" align="aligncenter" width="600"]
Image: Kettle and Fire [/caption]
What the bleep is bone broth? Well, It is a broth simmered from bones -- and it has been touted as a superfood by the paleo community.
It’s not easily accessible online.
Well, at least until Kettle & Fire came onto the scene.
Kettle & Fire became the first-ever company to make a unique shelf-stable beef bone broth. This particular bone broth need not be frozen until it is opened.
By making sure the product was something people wanted.
Yes, bone broth was growing in popularity.
But the bigger entrepreneur question is not about popularity, but “will anyone put money down for this product?”
Justin and Nick made sure of that by throwing up a landing page and driving Bing traffic to it (classic Four Hour Work Week-style.) The end result? A simple experiment like this netted them $500 in sales, which confirmed their entire business model.
Never assume your product is something the market will want. Always test to find out (be it through messaging people, sending paid traffic etc.)
Bonus #1: ReferralCandy Case Studies
We (ReferralCandy) have been accumulating case studies from eCommerce entrepreneurs from multiple industries to show you how they have succeeded.
Here’s the list of case studies we’ve done for you:
- Ecommerce Interviews
- Powder City
- Magical Butter
- 1950 Collective
Bonus #2: BigCommerce Case Studies
Our aim here in this blog post is to create the most comprehensive resource you can refer to when you want to be inspired or simply to understand how successful eCommerce entrepreneurs think.
Caveat: These case studies mostly include promoting BigCommerce’s services… but look past that and you’ll discover gems.
- BombTech Golf
- Spearmint LOVE
- Exxel Outdoors
- Bohemian Traders
- Silk Road Teas
- Bulk Apothecary
- The Pink Lily Boutique
- Di Bruno Bros
- Sportbike Track Gear
- Twirly Girl
- US Patriot Tactical
- Con Olio Oils & Vinegars
- Raven and Lily
- LaQuan Smith
- Flash Tattoos
- Pappy & Company
Bonus #3: Reddit Case Studies
Reddit is an under-utilized resource for learning about successful eCommerce case studies.
In fact, hidden in the subreddit r/entrepreneur are countless “unknown” yet successful entrepreneurs who are more than willing to share their wins and lessons with a larger audience. Here are some of the most popular posts on Reddit that detailed step-by-step of how they succeeded:
- The Inner Workings Of A Subscription Box Company. From A 4K Site Purchase On Reddit to Close To $100,000 In Revenue In Less than 6 months. How We Did It, And What’s Next!
- I created DicksByMail.com, went viral, and sold the company before even shipping out my second round of orders. AMA
- How I literally started an Amazon business in about 1 month for about $1K
- 516 days ago at 20 years old I quit my job, dropped out of school, and founded an online hippie shop. This is how it turned out.
- Beardbrand's guide to building a brand
As previously said, we aim to make this list the most comprehensive eCommerce case studies list found on the Internet.
That being said…
Did we miss out on any? Which case study do you think we should include?
Let us know in the comments!
P.S. If you enjoyed reading this, subscribe to our newsletter where we share our latest articles and helpful resources .
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Si Quan is ReferralCandy's Content Marketing Manager. He is also the co-founder of BreakDance Decoded , an online breakdance training company. He loves standup comedy, and has a dream to visit at least 100 countries in his lifetime.
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- Case Studies
E-commerce and Retail Case Studies
Client: Multiple Clients
Category: E-commerce and Retail
Facebook, Instagram, Google
With the rise of e-commerce, the retail industry underwent some major changes. The biggest being needing to adapt to digital selling and social platforms. Furthermore, social commerce is a growing trend that affects how people buy and consume products and services.
This scenario also brings new opportunities for retailers. Allowing them to reach a broader customer base and increasing their wins. In achieving a high ROI, digital advertising is a key element.
Nanos has shown to be highly effective in advertising retail businesses with a range of different products, as it manages to leverage data from previous campaigns to create a hyper-targeted audience across many different regions. By constantly monitoring and optimizing essential parameters of the campaign, the artificial intelligence ensures that businesses get the best out of their budget.
Many of our clients don’t have extensive digital advertising knowledge, but with Nanos, they are able to create and place a campaign within minutes.
Let’s have a look at some e-commerce and retail case studies:
Case Study #1
Client or Product: Hulya Swim
Platforms: Facebook and Instagram
Why Nanos Likes It: Took advantage of consistency in advertising and effectively showcased their Unique Selling Proposition (USP).
Hulya Swim is a conscious beachwear brand that invested $292 to advertise its brand on Facebook and Instagram for 15 days. By doing so, they were able to take advantage of Nanos’ full potential as the technology unfolds it’s full optimizing potential within 3 days. By collecting enough data, the AI determines the best target audience, making sure that brands get the returns they seek.
Additionally, Hulya Swim clearly showcased their unique selling proposition in the ads, by portraying it as a conscious brand where products are made from recycled materials. Through an appealing ad for potential customers and being powered by Nanos’ technology, they were able to reach exactly those customers interested in conscious shopping.
The campaign managed to be displayed 20.640 times during 2 weeks on Facebook and received 836 clicks, achieving a CTR of 4.05%. That’s a cost-per-click as little as 0.18$, far under the average of 0.70$ for retailers on Facebook.
On Instagram it performed equally well, getting 17.960 impressions and 347 clicks.
Case Study #2
Client or Product: Dunoon Mugs
Why Nanos Likes It: A good example of taking advantage of the right time to advertise
Dunoon Mugs decided to use the holiday season to advertise their mugs. Holidays are usually the period when business is at its peak. Everyone wants the best gift for their loved ones. Taking advantage of digital advertising to create awareness and generate more sales in a period where people are more inclined to spend money is essential.
They offer customizable mugs which are nice and personalized presents. They decided to advertise on Facebook and Instagram by investing $35. The average CTR for the retail industry is already one of the highest, with 1,59%. With Nanos powerful technology for hyper targeting, they managed to attain a CTR of 3.42%!
Case Study #3
Client or Product: La Perfumeria Online
Why Nanos Likes It: Took advantage of Nanos’ hyper-targeting technology and used discounts to make the ad more appealing.
La Perfumaria Online is an online perfume retail from Colombia. They placed an ad on Facebook to promote a discount of 70% on all of their products. They advertised for a total of 5 days and managed to achieve an outstanding CTR of 9.42%!
For their ad, they used Nanos’ ad text generator to find a short but catchy description for their ad. They also chose to let Nanos explore and define the best interests for their campaign, making sure that it targeted the right audience for them.
The ad was displayed 84,630 times and clicked on 7,970 times with a budget of $28.
Furthermore, the ad also generated a high level of engagement with 40 comments and 13 shares.
Case Study #4
Client or Product: Teespring
Location: Multiple / Online
Why Nanos Likes It: Took advantage of Nanos’ hyper-targeting technology.
Sometimes controversial ads can generate a buzz and help to increase sales. In this case, one of our customers used the Coronavirus to sell t-shirts (not so uncommon apparently https://teespring.com/search?q=coronavirus ). The ad sparked up a conversation online that included both positive and negative comments, however, the customer was able to achieve a 5.11% click-through-rate (CTR), and an impressive return on ad spend (ROAS) of 1200% with a single campaign. This underlines one of the core principles of the selling process, give customers something they want, at the right time and at the right price. With only €25 they were able to drive 894 clicks to their t-shirt landing page.
Our e-commerce and retail case studies show how versatile Nanos can be, levering previous data to optimize your campaign in the best way possible. Are you ready to start your campaign? Sign in to our desktop app and create your campaign for free. When you’ve finished, pick your budget and let Nanos do the rest!
Nanos © 2023
- Technical Article
- Published: 27 August 2012
Data mining for the online retail industry: A case study of RFM model-based customer segmentation using data mining
- Daqing Chen 1 ,
- Sai Laing Sain &
Journal of Database Marketing & Customer Strategy Management volume 19 , pages 197–208 ( 2012 ) Cite this article
Many small online retailers and new entrants to the online retail sector are keen to practice data mining and consumer-centric marketing in their businesses yet technically lack the necessary knowledge and expertise to do so. In this article a case study of using data mining techniques in customer-centric business intelligence for an online retailer is presented. The main purpose of this analysis is to help the business better understand its customers and therefore conduct customer-centric marketing more effectively. On the basis of the Recency, Frequency, and Monetary model, customers of the business have been segmented into various meaningful groups using the k -means clustering algorithm and decision tree induction, and the main characteristics of the consumers in each segment have been clearly identified. Accordingly a set of recommendations is further provided to the business on consumer-centric marketing. SAS Enterprise Guide and SAS Enterprise Miner are used in the present study.
Working on a manuscript?
For the past 10 years, we have witnessed a steady and strong increase of online retail sales. According to the Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG), online shoppers in the United Kingdom spent an estimated £50 billion in year 2011, a more than 5000 per cent increase compared with year 2000. 1 This remarkable increase of online sales indicates that the way consumers shop for and use financial services has fundamentally changed.
Compared with traditional shopping in retail stores, online shopping has some unique characteristics: each customer's shopping process and activities can be tracked instantaneously and accurately, each customer's order is usually associated with a delivery address and a billing address, and each customer has an online store account with essential contact and payment information. These desirable, special online shopping characteristics have enabled online retailers to treat each customer as an individual with personalized understanding of each customer and to build upon customer-centric business intelligence.
In relation to customer-centric business intelligence, online retailers are usually concerned with the following common business concerns:
Which items/products’ web pages has a customer visited? How long has a customer stayed with each web page, and in which sequence has a customer visited a set of products’ web pages?
Who are the most/least valuable customers to the business? What are the distinct characteristics of them?
Who are the most/least loyal customers, and how are they characterized?
What are customers’ purchase behaviour patterns? Which products/items have customers purchased together often? In which sequence the products have been purchased?
Which types of customers are more likely to respond to a certain promotion mailing? and
What are the sales patterns in terms of various perspectives such as products/items, regions and time (weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly and seasonally), and so on?
In order to address these business concerns, data mining techniques have been widely adopted across the online retail sector, coupled with a set of well-known business metrics about customers’ profitability and values, for instance, the recency, frequency and monetary (RFM) model, 2 and the customer life value model. 3 For many online retailers in the United Kingdom and internationally alike, especially the leading companies including Amazon, Walmart, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Argos, Marks and Spencer, John Lewis, and EasyJet, data mining has now become a common practice and an integral part of the business processes in creating customer-centric business intelligence and supporting customer-centric marketing. 4 , 5
Although many famous online retail brands are embracing data mining techniques as crucial tools to gain competitive advantages on the market, there are still many smaller ones and new entrants are keen to practise consumer-centric marketing yet technically lack the necessary knowledge and expertise to do so.
In this article a case study of using data mining techniques in customer-centric business intelligence for an online retailer is presented. The online retailer considered here is a typical one: a small business and a relatively new entrant to the online retail sector, knowing the growing importance of being analytical in today's online businesses and data mining techniques, however, lacking technical awareness and recourses. The main purpose of this analysis is to help the business better understand its customers and therefore conduct customer-centric marketing more effectively. On the basis of the RFM model, customers of the business have been segmented into various meaningful groups using the k -means clustering algorithm and decision tree induction, and the main characteristics of the consumers in each segment have been clearly identified. Accordingly, a set of recommendations is provided to the business on customer-centric marketing and further data analysis tasks. The analysis is developed in a step-by-step way. SAS Enterprise Guide and SAS Enterprise Miner 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 have been employed in this study.
The rest of this article is organized as follows. The next section provides the background information about the online retailer studied in the article along with the associated dataset to be explored. The section after that discusses in detail about the main steps and tasks for data pre-processing in order to create an appropriate target dataset for the required further analyses. In the subsequent section the k -means clustering analysis is performed and a set of meaningful clusters and segments of the target dataset has been identified. A detailed discussion on each of the clusters is given, and the segmentation is further refined by using decision tree induction. The penultimate section summarizes the essential consumer-centric business intelligence based on the analysis results, and provides some concrete recommendations to the online retailer aiming at maximizing profits for the business. Finally the concluding remarks are given in the last section.
BUSINESS BACKGROUND AND THE ASSOCIATED DATA
The online retailer under consideration in this article is a UK-based and registered non-store business with some 80 members of staff. The company was established in 1981 mainly selling unique all-occasion gifts. For years in the past, the merchant relied heavily on direct mailing catalogues, and orders were taken over phone calls. It was only 2 years ago that the company launched its own web site and shifted completely to the Web. Since then the company has maintained a steady and healthy number of customers from all parts of the United Kingdom and Europe, and has accumulated a huge amount of data about many customers. The company also uses Amazon.co.uk to market and sell its products.
The customer transaction dataset held by the merchant has 11 variables as shown in Table 1 , and it contains all the transactions occurring in years 2010 and 2011. It should be noted that the variable PostCode is essential for the business as it provides vital information that makes each individual consumer recognizable and trackable, and therefore it makes some in-depth analyses possible in the present study.
As the first ever pilot study for the business to generate sensible customer intelligence, only the transactions created from 1 January 2011 to 31 December 2011 are explored in this article. Over that particular period, there were 22 190 valid transactions in total, associated with 4381 valid distinct postcodes. Corresponding to these transactions, there are 406 830 instances (record rows) in the dataset, each for a particular item contained in a transaction. On average, each postcode is associated with five transactions, that is, each customer has purchased a product from the online retailer about once every 2 months. In addition, only consumers from the United Kingdom are analysed.
It is interesting to notice that the average number of distinct products (items) contained in each transaction occurring in 2011 was 18.3 (=406 830/22 190). This seems to suggest that many of the consumers of the business were organizational customers rather than individual customers.
In order to conduct the required RFM model-based clustering analysis, the original dataset needs to be pre-processed. The main steps and relevant tasks involved in the data preparation are as follows:
Select appropriate variables of interest from the given dataset. In our case the following six variables have been chosen: Invoice, StockCode , Quantity , Price , InvoiceDate and PostCode.
Create an aggregated variable named Amount , by multiplying Quantity with Price , which gives the total amount of money spent per product/item in each transaction.
Separate the variable InvoiceDate into two variables Date and Time . This allows different transactions created by the same consumer on the same day but at different times to be treated separately.
Filter out any transactions that do not have a postcode associated with. This resolves any missing value issues in relation to the variable PostCode . In addition, filter out any transactions that are not associated with a United Kingdom's postcode.
Sort out the dataset by Postcode and create three essential aggregated variables Recency , Frequency and Monetary . Calculate the values of these variables per postcode.
Following these steps a target dataset for the analysis has been generated. The original dataset was in MS Excel format, and was transformed into the final target dataset in SAS format in SAS Enterprise Guide 4.2. Part of the target dataset is shown in Figure 1 , and the variables in the target dataset and their statistics are described in Tables 2 and 3 . The SAS procedures proc means and proc sql were used to transform the dataset and to calculate the values for the variables Recency , Frequency and Monetary , for each given postcode, respectively. As an example, Table 4 gives the relevant SAS code utilized to calculate the values for Monetary . Finally the target dataset was uploaded into SAS Enterprise Miner 6.2 for analysis.
Samples of the target dataset.
RFM MODEL-BASED CLUSTERING ANALYSIS
With the prepared target dataset we intended to identify whether consumers can be segmented meaningfully in the view of recency, frequency and monetary values. The k -means clustering algorithm was employed for this purpose, and it can be easily performed by using the Cluster node in SAS Enterprise Miner.
As well-known, the k -means clustering algorithm is very sensitive to a dataset that contains outliers (anomalies) or variables that are of incomparable scales or magnitudes. Examining the histograms of the variables Recency , Frequency and Monetary of the target dataset in SAS Enterprise Miner, as illustrated in Figure 2 , it is evident that there are a few instances having quite different monetary and frequency values compared to the majority of the instances in the dataset. These instances are valid from the business point of view as they are genuine transaction records; however, they are outliers from the data analysis point of view. Therefore, these instances should be isolated from the majority and treated separately. In addition, the three variables are not on comparable scales, and the value ranges are quite different: Recency [0,12]; Frequency [1,169] and Monetary [3,88 125], respectively. As such, these variables should be normalized before the clustering analysis.
Distribution of the variables Recency, Frequency and Monetary.
On the basis of the initial insight into the dataset, a project diagram has been set up in SAS Enterprise Miner for the clustering analysis as depicted in Figure 3 . There are four nodes in the diagram. In the Data Sources (Target Dataset) node, the three variables Recency , Frequency and Monetary were chosen as input for the clustering analysis. The Filter node was set to exclude from the analysis any instances having a rare value for any variables involved, and the minimum cutoff value for rare values was set to 1 per cent of the total number of instances under consideration. For example, out of the total 3799 instances, there was only one instance taking a monetary value of more than £87 684, and therefore, that instance was extended from the analysis. Overall there were totally 73 instances were excluded by the Filter node, and the summary of the resultant filtered target dataset is given in Table 5 . In the Cluster node, the standard range transformation for normalization was used with the number of clusters specified as 3, 4 and 5, respectively, and finally, the Segment Profile node was utilized to assists to interpret each cluster found.
Project diagram in SAS Enterprise Miner 6.2.
The clustering and segment results with five clusters are shown in Tables 6 and 7 , and the distribution of the instances within each cluster is detailed in Figures 4 and 5 . This segmentation by five clusters seems to have a clearer interpretation of the target dataset than the ones by three and four clusters.
( a ) Distribution of all instances coloured for different clusters. ( b ) Distribution of the instances in cluster 1. ( c ) Distribution of the instances in cluster 2. ( d ) Distribution of the instances in cluster 3. ( e ) Distribution of the instances in cluster 4. ( f ) Distribution of the instances in cluster 5.
( a ) Distribution of recency by cluster. ( b ) Distribution of frequency by cluster. ( c ) Distribution of monetary by cluster. ( d ) Distribution of first purchase by cluster.
Understanding the clusters
Interpreting and understanding each cluster identified is crucial in generating customer-centric business intelligence.
Examining Table 7 and Figures 4 and 5 , it is interesting to see that each cluster indeed contains a group of consumers that have certain distinct and intrinsic features as detailed below.
Cluster 1 relates to some 527 consumers, composed of 14.4 per cent of the whole population. This group seems to be the least profitable group as none of the customers in this group purchased anything in the second half of the year. Even for the first half of the year, the consumers didn’t shop often, and the average value of frequency was only 1.3.
Contrasted with the customers in cluster 1, the 188 customers in cluster 5 mainly started shopping with the online retailer at the beginning of the year, and continued to the end of the year with an average value of recency 0.7. They purchased quite often and as a result, spent a quite high amount of money. This group of consumers can be categorized as very high recency, very high frequency and very high monetary with a high spending per consumer. In fact, those 188 consumers contributed 25.5 per cent of the total sales in the year. This group, although the smallest (only composed of 5.05 per cent of the whole population), seems to be the most profitable group.
Cluster 4 contains some 627 consumers with a very high value for frequency and monetary, although lower than those of cluster 5. This group seems to be the second high profit group.
There are some 459 consumers in cluster 2. Compared with clusters 4 and 5, this group of customers has a lower frequency throughout the year and a significantly smaller average value of monetary, indicating that a much smaller amount of spending per consumer. This group can be categorized as low recency, high frequency and medium monetary with a medium spending per consumer.
Cluster 3 is the largest-sized group with 1748 consumers. Consumers in this group have a reasonable value of frequency. Compared with clusters 2 and 4, this group has a lower but reasonable value of monetary as the group includes many newly registered consumers starting shopping with the retailer very recently. This group seems to have represented ordinary consumers and therefore has a certain level of uncertainty in terms of profitability. In the long-term view, some of the consumers might be potentially very highly profitable or unprofitable at all.
We use Figure 6 to summarize our analysis made so far: in the whole population of the consumers, 47 per cent of them were ordinary shoppers with reasonable spending and frequency, about 34 per cent were medium to high profit, 5 per cent were extremely highly profit, and the remaining 14 per cent were extremely low profit. About 22 per cent of the consumers contributed roughly 60 per cent of the total sales. Overall the business seems to be quite healthy in terms of profitability.
Customer segmentation (left) and associated sales (right) by cluster.
Enhancing clustering analysis using decision tree
As discussed above, cluster 3 is the most diverse cluster among the five identified clusters in the sense that it contains both newly registered and old customers as well. To refine the segmentation of the instances in this cluster, a decision tree has been used to create some nested segments internally inside the cluster, as shown in Figure 5 . In other words, these nested segments form some sub-clusters inside cluster 3, and make it possible to categorize the consumers concerned into some sensible sub-categories. For example, as shown in Figure 7 , the customers can be divided into such categories as frequency more than 2.5 with an average monetary value of 990.66; and frequency more than 2.5 and less than 3.5 with an average monetary value of 1056.70 and so on. Also, it is interesting to note that the relationship between frequency and monetary seems to be a monotonic linear relationship.
Refined segmentation of the instances in cluster 3 using decision tree induction.
CUSTOMER-CENTRIC BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The most valuable consumers of the business have contributed more than 60 per cent of the total sales in year 2011, whereas the least valuable ones only made up 4 per cent of the total sales. For each of these consumer groups, it is essential to further find out which products the customers in each group have purchased, which products have been purchased together most frequently and in which sequence the products have been purchased.
The business can gain a better understanding of the consumers by exploring the associations among consumer groups and the products they have purchased. The association can be examined on products/items level and on products categories level as well.
Many of the consumers of the business were organizational consumers with a high quantity of a product per transaction. Examining at which specific times (seasons), what products and which types of products they have purchased frequently will be beneficiary to the business. It will be also interesting to see if there are any differences between different types of customers, that is, organizational and individual customers, in terms of their shopping patterns.
Monitoring the diversity of the most diverse customer group and predicting which customer will potentially become affiliated to the most or the least profitable group is very useful for the business in the long term. Identifying appropriate predictors or indictors for such predictions is invaluable.
Another aspect worth further investigation is to link consumer groups to geographical locations. This correlation, if exists, may help the business look into other factors, such as culture, customs, and economics, that may affect a consumer's buying intention and preferences.
A case study has been presented in this article to demonstrate how customer-centric business intelligence for online retailers can be created by means of data mining techniques. The distinct customer groups characterized in the case study can help the business better understand its customers in terms of their profitability, and accordingly, adopt appropriate marketing strategies for different consumers.
It has been shown in this analysis that there are two steps in the whole data mining process that are very crucial and the most time-consuming: data preparation and model interpretation and evaluation.
Further research for the business includes: conducting association analysis to establish customer buying patterns with regard to which products have been purchased together frequently by which customers and which customer groups; enhancing the merchant's web site to enable a consumer's shopping activities to be captured and tracked instantaneously and accurately; and predicting each customer's lifecycle value to quantify the level of diversity of each customer.
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The authors thank the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions to improve the quality of this article.
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Chen, D., Sain, S. & Guo, K. Data mining for the online retail industry: A case study of RFM model-based customer segmentation using data mining. J Database Mark Cust Strategy Manag 19 , 197–208 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1057/dbm.2012.17
Received : 18 July 2012
Revised : 18 July 2012
Published : 27 August 2012
Issue Date : 01 September 2012
DOI : https://doi.org/10.1057/dbm.2012.17
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Amazon stock falls as the US government sues the online retail giant in a landmark monopoly case
- Amazon stock dropped more than 3% Tuesday after the US government sued the retail giant.
- The Federal Trade Commission sued Amazon over anticompetitive business practices.
- "[Amazon] uses a set of interlocking anticompetitive and unfair strategies to illegally maintain its monopoly power," the FTC said.
Amazon stock fell over 3% on Tuesday after the Federal Trade Commission announced it was suing the retail giant for anticompetitive business practices.
Amazon shares were trading at $126.98 just after 1:00 p.m. in New York, down about 3.28%.
Rumors of a potential antitrust lawsuit had been swirling for several years dating back to the Trump administration and come amid the current administration's actions against what it sees as unchecked corporate power, particularly among Big Tech. The move by the FTC is supported by 17 state attorneys general.
Amazon, the FTC said in its statement, is "a monopolist that uses a set of interlocking anticompetitive and unfair strategies to illegally maintain its monopoly power."
The online retail giant does not just violate the law because of its size, but because of specific "exclusionary conduct" that keeps existing competitors from growing and new competitors from emerging, the regulator said. Amazon's actions prevent rivals from lowering prices, it overcharges sellers, and stifles innovation, the FTC added.
Lina M. Khan, the chair of the regulator, said Amazon uses "punitive and coercive" tactics to maintain its dominance.
"The complaint sets forth detailed allegations noting how Amazon is now exploiting its monopoly power to enrich itself while raising prices and degrading service for the tens of millions of American families who shop on its platform and the hundreds of thousands of businesses that rely on Amazon to reach them," Khan said. "Today's lawsuit seeks to hold Amazon to account for these monopolistic practices and restore the lost promise of free and fair competition."
David Zapolsky, Amazon senior vice president of global public policy and general counsel, said the FTC's allegations are not substantiated by facts.
"If the FTC gets its way, the result would be fewer products to choose from, higher prices, slower deliveries for consumers, and reduced options for small businesses — the opposite of what antitrust law is designed to do," Zapolsky said in a statement. "The lawsuit filed by the FTC today is wrong on the facts and the law, and we look forward to making that case in court."
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Create an incentive that is only presented to shoppers who meet specific cart requirements. Emails present beauty brands with the opportunity to deliver personalized recommendations to shoppers’ inboxes. Three industry leading beauty brands put UpSellit’s solutions and strategies to the test in our Beauty Case Study .
What Tinder Can Teach Us About Growth Marketing
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If you look at all the major case studies for growth hacking in recent years, from Airbnb to PayPal , they all have one thing in common: an excellent product. In order to get heterosexual men on the platform, there needed to be heterosexual women already present , and vice versa. Campus Presentations . Conceptual Design.
Magento to BigCommerce Migration Guide: How to Replatform Quickly and Painlessly
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In this BigCommerce SEO case study , we document how we found impactful SEO improvements for a client when they moved to BigCommerce from Magento. BigCommerce has provided several case studies on their website showing increased ROI, conversion rates, and profitability after stores replatformed to BigCommerce from Magento.
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Back to blog
Ensuring Uninterrupted Retail Intelligence at Wiser Solutions: A Client Case Study
Wiser Solutions, Inc., a client of Oxylabs, specializes in delivering unparalleled retail intelligence insights. As a commerce execution software provider, Wiser captures retail data online and in-store to provide its customers with key insights that help drive strategic planning.
Wiser’s Commerce Execution Suite enables clients to gather and take action from data.
The online side of Wiser’s business operations requires robust proxies for successful execution.
Wiser needs a reliable partner with a proven track record of delivering uninterrupted proxy service at a competitive price.
Oxylabs ensures that Wiser gets a consistent flow of high-quality retail data.
- Business needs and challenges
Wiser Solutions, Inc. offers a suite of solutions that meets the needs of international retailers and brands. These solutions are powered by a steady flow of publicly available e-commerce data. The company uses a variety of strategies to gather this data multiple times per day, one of which includes making extraction requests to thousands of domains. Given the scale of Wiser’s operations, cost-effectiveness and high success rates are its top priorities.
This posed a critical question for Wiser: How do we strike a balance between successful data gathering and cost while ensuring exceptional service for our customers?
- How does Oxylabs help?
Oxylabs’ Datacenter Proxies turned out to be instrumental in establishing a rock-solid foundation for Wiser’s workflows.
Spanning a vast network across 188 countries with a 99.9% uptime, our Datacenter Proxies guarantee that clients like Wiser execute crucial data operations wherever and whenever needed. By combining reliable performance with an attractive price point, Oxylabs can offer the most cost-efficient solution. This ensures Wiser consistently delivers exceptional service and the freshest retail industry insights to its clients.
"It's critical that we use proxy vendors who understand our use case and are able to partner with us to find the right balance of cost and success ." – Devon Kelly Walczak, SVP Operations at Wiser
- Final thoughts
The strong working relationship between Wiser and Oxylabs enabled them to effectively leverage Datacenter Proxies and elevate Wiser’s retail intelligence operations.
If you’re also looking for a solution that will give you a competitive edge, be sure to drop us a line . Our team of experts will match you with a solution that perfectly aligns with your unique business requirements.
About the author
Enrika Pavlovskytė is a Junior Copywriter at Oxylabs. With a background in digital heritage research, she became increasingly fascinated with innovative technologies and started transitioning into the tech world. On her days off, you might find her camping in the wilderness and, perhaps, trying to befriend a fox! Even so, she would never pass up a chance to binge-watch old horror movies on the couch.
Learn more about Enrika Pavlovskytė
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