How Specialty Grocers Can Increase Customer Engagement with Branded App

For local neighborhood stores, the current economic outlook is driving a desire to increase customer engagement. 

As diners shift their restaurant habits to curbside pickup or forgo eating out altogether and we continue to spend more time in our houses, grocery store spending habits have shifted. Consumers who initially stockpiled dry goods and toilet paper are now buying food they cook at home and spending at the store is up since the beginning of the pandemic. At the same time, prices up and down the aisles are increasing and demand is up as well. Large national grocers are built to handle a level of instability in supply and demand, but for local neighborhood stores, the current economic outlook is driving a desire to increase customer engagement.

Safe In-Store & Online Shopping + Delivery

In addition to providing essentials, neighborhood grocers present a more intimate shopping experience for customers. For anyone concerned about crowds and wanting to decrease their exposure to the coronavirus, being able to shop at a smaller store can help eliminate anxiety. In addition, the owners can provide specialized shopping and delivery service within a radius.

Real-Time Inventory Alerts via Push Notifications

Inventory, especially fresh items or specialty ingredients, can prove a challenge to move. Getting word to customers about availability of items and limited-time specials can drive a sense of urgency that leads to orders or increase the likelihood that someone will make a trip to the store.  Push notifications, a key feature of apps, provide an option for immediate distribution of inventory updates. Plus, push notifications can be used to send updates about orders and delivery in real-time to manage customer experience.

How Grocers Are Using Sandbox Commerce App Builder

Sandbox Commerce has helped RydeOn Groceries and SuperFast NYC deliver a variety of groceries and other items to their customers. These entrepreneurial businesses are using ecommerce platform partners like Shopify or Big Commerce to manage what they have to offer. Sandbox Commerce integrates seamlessly and customers get their on-time delivery with no interruption is experience. SuperFast even has a promise to get orders to their destination in 45 minutes!

We welcome the opportunity to work with local grocers who recognize the need to meet shoppers in this moment through contactless commerce, no-friction shopping and delivery options and providing beyond expectations by keeping the customer informed about opportunities to get what they need when they need it.

For your demo and to discuss options for your store, contact Sandbox Commerce or jump right in and start your free 7-day trial.

Introducing Sandbox Social – Integrating Instagram with Your E-Commerce

Sandbox Social – shop straight from your brand’s beautiful Instagram feed.

“Doing it for the ‘gram” now has one more meaning with the introduction of Sandbox Social on the Sandbox Commerce platform.

This is a feature that the team has been perfecting for the last few weeks, focusing on the importance of visual stimulation in the purchasing process as shoppers interact and engage with brand- and user-generated content. I previously shared my thoughts about the importance of multiple ways to engage customers online, and integrating shoppable content is now on this list.

What is Sandbox Social aka Shoppable Instagram?

If your’e coming to this post and wondering what “shoppable Instagram” is and what it could mean for your brand and sales, I’m glad you’re here. You may already be familiar with Sandbox Commerce for our no-code app solution, which is designed to increase the lifetime value of customers by helping brands engage with customers who have already bought in by encouraging them to download the app for special offers and the latest news.

Sandbox Social is different; we are targeting people who shop with their eyes first. You know: the scrollers, the double-tap and leave a comment, and share-in-Stories buyers. Instagram as a social channel has a specific aesthetic that makes content really pop: clear, colorful imagery laid out thoughtfully not only within the individual image but as a whole grid of pictures. Brands like Revolve and XX not only invest in their own product images but also integrate content from their most loyal followers whose style mirrors the brand. Shoppers are able to see not only the most idealized snaps but also the real life ways that buyers style the products.

How Sandbox Social Works

Now that you’re sold on the concept of using your best Instagram pictures to capture the attention – and buying power- of the scrolling window shoppers, let’s talk about Sandbox Social in action.

How do I integrate Sandbox Social?

Like the Sandbox Commerce app builder, Sandbox Social integrates with the leading e-commerce platforms: Shopify, BigCommerce and 3D Cart for ease of use. Once you sign up for Sandbox Social, the platform makes it simple to tag the content you want to become shoppable. As you post and tag content to your Instagram, Sandbox Social syncs to your e-commerce partner to tag each image as available for purchase.

Not only are you able to feature your best Instagram content on your mobile or desktop website, you can also spotlight the same or different pics for your newsletter or mobile app (which you’ve already built with Sandbox Commerce, right?).

How do I track use of Sandbox Social?

Data is key to understanding how the work you do is bringing in and keeping customers active and engaged. Sandbox Social delivers usage stats to your account’s home page, giving you the ability to see in real-time how shoppers are engaging with both Sandbox Social and your Sandbox Commerce native mobile app.

Get Started with Sandbox Social

Now is as good a time as any to launch your shoppable social feature for e-commerce. Log in if you are an existing Sandbox Commerce customer or create an account to get started on integrating Sandbox Social with your e-commerce platform. Want to see Sandbox Social in action: Book a demo.

The Digital User Data Retailers Need to Track for Success

Almost two months into the shift that is seeing retailers invest more than ever into their digital tools,  now is a great time to start talking about how to assess the customer insights these tools are giving you. Customer data can not only help you understand how your customers are finding and engaging with your products, but also improve how you interact and engage with them once they’re on your platforms. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information available to you, so let’s break this down to the must-know details.

Demographics

Beyond the number of visitors, tracking the demographics of your site and app users reveals helpful info on who you’re reaching and serving. Your database of customer data should include demos like what country – in addition to regions and states – your buyers are coming from, as well as their gender and age range. Once you learn this info, it may help you diversify your offerings in new ways with additional seasonally-based merchandise or expanding into women’s or men’s clothing.

Referral Traffic

Driving people to your site through social media is meaningless if you’re not measuring the results of the campaigns. Your referral traffic helps you understand if you’re getting visitors to your online site through organic traffic (someone typed in your URL) or through outside sources like social media, affiliate traffic or through other marketing or public relations efforts.

Notifications

Notifications are helpful for your mobile app customers, who may download an app once for a purchase but forget about it. Since we want to avoid the app graveyard, make sure you are not only using notifications to bring customers back to the app but also tracking which messages lead to the most engagement. Notifications you should be using: abandoned cart, new items and flash sales.

Sales

One of the most exciting data points to track, in my opinion, is the link between sales and your digital tools. I specifically want to reference the success of Peet’s Coffee and how they used their mobile tools to drive sales. Based on their data, they knew that 40 percent of their customers were visiting the website from mobile devices. In order to take advantage of those on mobile, the Peet’s team used location data and individualized content to target sales for customers. Not only did they increase mobile traffic, they increased revenue by 142 percent.


 

As you grow your online presence, you will be able to use the data to make adjustments in your social media strategy as well as your product and service planning. What user data has proven most helpful for you? Let us know on social: @sandboxcommerce on Twitter.

Two Strategies to Reach Shoppers Online

Considering the options that exist for retailers, I think it’s best to approach the digital landscape as if you’re selecting the sharpest ax and most reliable power tool.

This is a big deal for retailers as Shopify, the ecommerce platform that enabled $135 billion in sales in 2019, just launched a new consumer app, Shop. Shop is a digital marketplace for customers to discover local businesses powered by Shopify through recommendations and location filters. 

Digital Marketplace vs. Native Mobile App

The benefits of a marketplace like Shop and the Shopify platform include alignment with a large, well-known brand with access to data points it has gathered from retailers like you, who give data in exchange for exposure. The challenge lies in your brand’s inability to fully control the user experience, and getting swamped in competition with the number of  retailers listed in the marketplace. 

The value of having a branded, native e-commerce app, is being able to  design the experience you want to deliver — the kind that builds loyalty and increases the lifetime value of your customers. Owning your mobile storefront means you get to control what products you want to sell, how you want to display them, the frequency of outreach to customers and what the messages say. And of course, your data is owned by you, accessible at any moment. 

A Well-Balanced E-commerce Strategy

My recommendation is that you think about a well-balanced e-commerce strategy. One the one hand, how can you maximize the features that come with a digital marketplace? What products can you offer there that will make the most of discovery and recommendation engines?

On the other hand, how can a native mobile app help you deliver a digital-first customer experience that uniquely yours? You will want to ensure that your offers there are designed for your most loyal customers. Also, keep in mind that you’ll need to wrap an engagement strategy around each purchase that reflects who you are and keeps customers coming back for more. 

The digital landscape is varied, and no one single tool will get the job done for every goal you as a retailer will have to grow your business and thrive in the way we do business now. Personally, I’m excited to see how businesses will make use of insights from Shop to strengthen their presence on web, social media and apps. The digital toolbox is only getting stronger, and that’s the only way growing retail will continue to thrive. 

Who Needs a Retail App?

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E-Commerce Evolution

The internet has changed the way we work, the way we socialize, and the explosion of eCommerce has most definitely changed the way we shop.

Over the past decade, the evolution of both tech hardware and data networks has had a direct correlation with eCommerce. 

Powered by tech giants like Amazon, who joined the space in 1995, and later Google and Paypal who launched their eCommerce initiatives in 1998, the overall journey of online shopping is far from finished, and is undoubtably accelerating. 

Mobile Madness

If you’ve gone…well…anywhere, you’ve seen people’s eyeballs glued to their mobile devices. We have a mind-blowing amount of functionality, literally at our fingertips. You can stream digital content, order just about anything, navigate to places near and far, and of course, take selfies. 

The point is, humans are seemingly as connected physically to their devices, as the devices themselves are connected to data. Whether that’s a good or bad thing, is certainly debatable. 

Data-driven E-commerce

In 2019, e-commerce sales are expected to account for 13.7 percent of retail sales worldwide.

Digital commerce is rich with customer data that provides valuable insight into the successes and shortcomings of your e-commerce business. Capturing and analyzing this data is key to your ability to be strategically agile. Even a minor change in your tactics can sometimes yield significant positive results. 

Here are just a few of numerous key metrics that e-commerce professionals should track:

  • Revenue by traffic source
  • Average order value
  • Shopping cart abandonment rate
  • Sales conversion rate
  • Percentage of mobile visits
  • Social media engagement metrics

Analyzing such key data points empowers you to create buyer personas, understand where to increase/decrease marketing spend, identify which campaigns are impactful, and much more.

Engagement-driven E-commerce

The number one reason people shop online is that they’re able to shop at all hours of the day. (KPMG report)

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As customers, We’re more likely to spend our money on something we want, but most of us will also pay more if better service comes with it.

This isn’t a small distinction, either. You ignore it at your business’ risk.

86% of consumers will spend more if it involves a better customer experience. By 2020, customer experience is expected to become a bigger brand differentiator than price and even the products themselves.

If you want better retention and more conversions, you want to invest in engaging your customers.

  • Enable Customer Feedback and Allow for Reviews

One easy way to improve your customer engagement in e-commerce is to let your customers give feedback. Provide them with a comments section or let them leave your company ratings.

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  • Provide Easy Access to Information

Across every industry, 81% of consumers will try to help themselves before asking a live representative to do so. 90% of them will go to your site first.

You can use these facts to improve your customer engagement in e-commerce by providing your visitors with a self-service portal that offers as many resources as possible. This could include everything from buyer’s guides to an FAQ.

  • Immediately Engage Unhappy Customers

Customer churn is a serious problem. Lowering this number for your company could increase your profitability by as much as 125%.

Unfortunately, unhappy customers don’t always let you know before deciding to take their business elsewhere. For every 1 customer that complains to you, 26 don’t say a thing.

  • Increase Account Creations

Most people would rather make purchases without opening accounts. So while they give you profits, they don’t help you improve your customer engagement on your e-commerce platform.

The key here is not to look for that account creation right away.

Wait until they make that initial purchase and then offer them the opportunity to start that account. At that point, you’ve earned a bit of trust, and they’ve proven they like what you have to offer.

  • Leverage Technology 

Ikea is using augmented reality to let customers preview how furniture looks on their smartphones before they buy. 

In Ikea Place, customers can view 3-D renderings from different angles of over 2,000 products before reserving the ones they want in the app, which directs to the Ikea site to complete purchases. Currently, large furniture for living rooms such as sofas, armchairs and storage units are available to preview in the app, with more products in the pipeline.

Aside from the ‘cool factor’, empowering customers with the latest retail technology is an impactful way to engage and most importantly, retain them. 

Whether data, engagement, or both, are your focus for leveraging e-commerce and mobile commerce, you need the tools to do it

Take Shoppable Instagram Outside of Instagram

Take Shoppable Instagram Outside of Instagram

What on Earth is Shoppable Instagram?

Before I talk about taking shoppable Instagram outside of Instagram, let’s take a step back to talk about what shoppable Instagram IS, to establish a foundation.

If you’ve never heard of shoppable Instagram, there is enough of a context clue in the name itself that you probably won’t be surprised to learn that it enables your customers to shop directly from your Instagram feed. 

Why is This Important? 

Omni-channel shopping is an increasingly-important strategy for retailers and brands.

Omni-channel is built on multiple methods of promoting and distributing products, such as physical stores, websites and mobile apps, and allowing customers to reach out with problems or concerns by phone, email, web chat and social media, for example.

With mobile commerce overtaking e-commerce, it makes sense to be able to put your products in front of your customers in the easiest way possible.

Shopping on Instagram enables you to tag up to five products per image or up to twenty products per carousel and allow your followers with a simple tap to buy these products from your online shop.

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Taking it a Step Further

The NEW Sandbox Commerce Social tier empowers you take your shoppable Instagram posts and use them on your e-commerce page, in a blog, or wherever you create content. The look and feel of shopping direct from your Instagram page, will be extended to more customers, which ultimately leads to, more revenue

Social Selling Tips

Social Selling Tips

What is Social Selling?

Social selling is the art of using social media to find, connect with, understand, and nurture sales prospects. It’s the modern way to develop meaningful relationships with potential customers so you’re the first person or brand a prospect thinks of when they’re ready to buy.

Social selling is not just about gaining access to contacts but about building relationships and listening for the right moment to join the conversation so you can present yourself as a solution to a problem. 

Who is Using Social Selling?

These days? Just about everyone, INCLUDING YOUR COMPETITORS.

You would be mistaken to think of social selling as a ‘trend’ that’s likely to disappear anytime soon. It won’t. In fact, given that it’s largely free to use, and extremely simple to reach far and wide, it’s arguable that social selling could be THE best way to reach potential customers.

A Few Social Selling Tips

Helpful Tips
  • BE PERSONABLE – Just because social selling is done online, does not mean there’s no personal touch. Don’t just ‘like’, but also reply to your customer’s comments, Do so, with language that reflects you actually hear them. Avoid using cookie-cutter responses or chat bots. 
  • LISTEN TO WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING – Pay attention to what gets posted and what people are conversing about on your social media pages. This is a valuable opportunity to learn not only about likes/dislikes, but gain an understanding about customer needs/wants, as well as potential problems you may be able to solve with your goods/services.
  • PROVIDE VALUE – As tempting as it may be, Social Selling is not about pitching product. This doesn’t mean you can never mention your goods/services, but if you come across too “sales-y’, it can be a quick way to run people off. Your goal should be to contribute valuable information that can help establish you as an expert in your field. Write posts that share important knowledge, but don’t be afraid to share relevant posts from others as well. 

As a final tip, use multiple social media platforms. You may find that a large segment of your customers gravitates towards a particular platform, but don’t get too narrowly-focused that you miss out on potential new customers. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram (to name a few) can and should be leveraged to engage your customers.

Sandbox Commerce One-on-one Launch Support

Launch Support

We view our customers as strategic partners. We’re mutually connected to your success. This is why we want to make sure you hit the ground running, so to speak, when you’re ready to launch your awesome new app!

Although our drag-and-drop functionality is designed to be very user-friendly, we’re aware that some guidance may be necessary. This is why you have a dedicated Customer Success Manager aligned with you.

Your CSM will build the first version of your app for review, and provide continuous support and guidance along the way. 

  • App Design Assistance
  • App Marketing Strategies
    • Social Media Campaign Ideas
    • Newsletters
    • Promotions and Special Offers
  • Rapid Issue Resolution
  • Dedicated Point of Contact
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Whether you’re a small business, or large enterprise, we offer solutions to fit your mobile commerce business strategy. Let us show you what we can do for you! 

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                                               Schedule a Demo

NEW Sandbox Commerce Social Tier!

NEW Sandbox Commerce Social Tier! (1)

Sandbox Commerce empowers you to leverage omni-channel shopping thru shoppable Instagram content.

Turn your Instagram and user-generated content (UGC) into shoppable galleries for your online store and other channels

Integrate fully customized shoppable Instagram & UGC galleries into any location within you online store. Choose between different gallery styles that can live on your homepage, as dedicated content pages, within product pages, on collections pages, or anywhere else you’d like.

Why use UGC?

Consumers trust online content created by their peers above all other forms of advertising. Your most loyal customers routinely post photos and videos that feature your products. Our platform will help you put that content at the forefront of their shopping experience.

Rest assured, this is not a ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ trend. This is an integral part of the future of digital commerce. By leveraging this powerful form of social shopping, you create a powerful new revenue stream with minimal effort. 

*** Sandbox Social is currently only available for users of Shopify ***

REGISTER TO WIN ‘SANDBOX SOCIAL’ FREE FOR SIX MONTHS!

Simple But Effective Ways to Promote Your Retail App

Simple But Effective Ways to Promote Your Retail App

You’ve launched a cool new app, and now the money starts rolling in! Right?

Not if no one knows about it!

Here are 6 things you can do to let people know about your app:

  • Host a giveaway. With a service like Rafflecopter.com you can create special prizes and raffle them away to those who download your app, and share a post about the raffle on social media.
  • Promote in all your communications. Include links to your app website, blog, and social media channels in your email signature. 
  • Link in your business cards. Add a short code or a scanable code to your business cards so that people can download your app faster.
  • Delivery Inserts. You could include a small card or slip of paper with a customer’s order that gives a discount code for their next purchase if they use the app. 
  • Offer Exclusive Content. Make certain items available ‘In App Only’. 
  • Run an ad campaign on Facebook. Get installs off of people’s newsfeeds.

Remember, an app isn’t a ‘magic wand’ to create new business. It’s merely a value-added extension of your business. The most likely people to download your app will be your most loyal customers. With that in mind, focus on delivering great products, at a fair price, with great customer service, and you’ll build an army of evangelists.

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