If you are an online retailer selling into Washington state, read this!

If you are an online retailer selling into Washington state, read this!

If you're an online retailer selling into Washington state, read this!

Washington's new economic nexus law can impact you!

Beginning October 1, 2018, Washington will enforce a new sales tax economic nexus law. According to RCW 82.08.020 and 82.08.050, a retail seller or marketplace facilitator who has $100,000 of gross retail sales in Washington or 200 retail transactions into the state during the current or prior calendar year is required to collect and remit sales tax on all taxable retail sales.

New Tax Laws for Online Retailers Selling into Mississippi

As a result, the new law significantly affects remote retailers, omnichannel retailers, electronic marketplace or eCommerce operators, and others making and facilitating online sales to Washington state residents. Economic nexus laws have created confusion and doubt for retailers, as many are unsure which laws pertain to them and what to do about it.

What is economic nexus for retail sales tax?

Sales tax nexus is the connection between a seller and a state that requires a seller to collect and remit tax on sales into the state. It’s long been based on physical presence: A state could tax sales by businesses with a physical presence in the state, but not those by businesses without one.

On June 21, 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. that the physical presence rule was “unsound and incorrect.” It determined a seller’s “virtual and economic contacts” with a state could be substantial enough to establish nexus.

Thus, under economic nexus, a tax collection obligation is established by a remote seller’s economic activity in a state. South Dakota set the threshold at $100,000 in gross sales in the state, or 200 or more separate transactions into the state in the current or previous calendar year.

What does economic nexus mean for your remote retail sales into Washington?

Washington modeled its economic nexus thresholds on South Dakota’s. Effective October 1, 2018, a retailer without a physical presence in Washington who has either $100,000 in gross retail sales or 200 retail transactions in Washington during the current or prior calendar year is required to register its business with the state, and collect and submit sales tax on all taxable retail sales in Washington.

What should you do if you are selling this volume into Washington?

If you are a retailer who makes sales for delivery into Washington, you should:

  • Complete a nexus study and identify whether you meet either of Washington’s new economic nexus thresholds
  • If so, register your business with the State of Washington
  • Collect and submit retail sales tax

If you do business in multiple states, you may want to consider participating in a broader nexus study. Approximately 25 states have adopted economic nexus provisions, including Illinois, Maryland, Mississippi, Vermont, and Wisconsin. Some started enforcing economic nexus on July 1, 2018; economic nexus is set to take effect in other states in the coming months on September 1, October 1, November 1, December 1, 2018, and January 1, 2019.

How can you minimize the complications of sales tax?

Sales tax compliance is complicated, and mistakes can be quite costly. Sales tax automation software such as Avalara can help simplify sales tax compliance for businesses in all states, improving efficiency and accuracy. 

 

6 Helpful Steps For Improved SEO & Increased Website Conversions

6 Helpful Steps For Improved SEO & Increased Website Conversions

6 Helpful Steps To Improve SEO & Increase Website Conversions

When you consider your website, basically forget everything you know and try to see your website through your visitor’s eyes. Extensive testing should be done to identify any friction points and make changes enabling your site to offer a fluid user experience. Keep in mind, “Google is watching and counting”. Google’s algorithm has become adept at noticing patterns founds in poor performing sites and the opposite is true as well. By delivering an experience that is pleasing to your user, Google will naturally reward you over the course of time for continued performance.

Conversion are king image

In the long run, how would you consider what a good performing eCommerce site is? Well, the objective is to sell and those websites that sell more often to more people WIN in the long run. Over the course of time, if you can continually optimize your site’s conversions, you will be rewarded with more traffic and more importantly, those conversions will carry over into all channels. Let’s discuss some conversion optimization tactics.

1. Cultivate Relationships- The Right People, The Right Ads, The Right Places

In today’s SaaS marketplace, there are well established options to help you marry and optimize your marketing methods across all channels to your users. From Facebook Ads, Automated Email Marketing, Google AdWords and so on, you should be concentrating on not just looking at your customer’s worth for that one conversion, but think of their overall lifetime values. You may not make money on them the first time, but if you can get them into your funnel and nurture that relationship over the course of a lifetime, the benefits will far outweigh any initial investment you put forward to acquire them.

2. Concentrate On The Basics

From meta titles, meta descriptions, great product images etc., whatever you do, ensure that the basics are always up to par. If you fail to do the basics, you’re pretty much ensuring poor performance moving forward, unless you’re OK with that, then it doesn’t matter. Take any professional athlete, if there is one thing we know, they do the basics and they do them well. The same would be true for your site and its associated basics. All in all, Semantic Markup turns what we visually comprehend about a site into what is known as machine readable markup. Considering Google Brain was built to take things such as Rich Snippets, Open Graph Tags and Twitter Cards into account, I’m sure you can appreciate how important it is.

3. Stop Customers From Leaving

The first part of the battle is to get customers onto your site, but then the bigger part is to keep them on your site and get them to convert. The worst scenario would be to have a shopper visit your site, browse your items, put them in their cart, but then not complete the sale for whatever the reason! Statistics show that close to 68% of online shopping carts are abandoned. Imagine if even half that volume were left sitting in the middle of your store incomplete- that would be massive sales lost!

shopping cart

Luckily, there are many ways in which you can help reduce abandoned shopping carts. Start by ensuring your check-our process is seamless. Offer multiple payment methods, including fast check-out options such as PayPal or Google Pay, offer competitive shipping rates and options, provide an embedded credit cart check-out process so your customers don’t question security from being linked to other web pages, and have customer service easily accessible in case any of any check-out issues. Another effective way to eliminate abandoned shopping carts is to have integrated abandoned cart email campaigns setup. Through automated emails that you can send out to shoppers who leave their carts incomplete, sometimes even offer incentives such as “Save 15% and check-out now!”, you can bring your customers back and help get those conversions that otherwise might have been lost.

4. Prove To Google That Searches Stop At Your Site

All in all, this really plays into the 2 major factors you should walk away with and concentrate on this year for your digital marketing strategy. Provide users with a great website experience, deliver what they are looking for and most importantly, ensure they do not return to Google to continue their search that your website was unable to satisfy. Google cares about “Search Termination”. If a user is searching for “Red Nike Running Shoes” and they go to your site and buy, BINGO, you’ve ensured your search position. Repeat this success continually and your rank will improve over the course of time. However, if the opposite is true, and you continually fail to terminate a user’s query, you can count on losing rank as well.

5. Make It Mobile First

On Monday March 26, 2018, Google announced that it officially rolled out “Mobile-First Indexing”. Moving forward, you can count on Google judging your site by its mobile performance, and honestly it should. Why? Well, more than likely the majority of your visitors are now visiting on a mobile device and that percentage will continue to grow over the course of time. We have retail clients who are seeing more than 85% of web traffic from mobile devices.

mobile phone

In my opinion, you must have a responsive site (one that automatically responds to any screen size) that is just as engaging as your desktop version, but more importantly, the data that resides on both versions should be exactly the same. These days your mobile layout is becoming even more important than your desktop version, whereas the opposite used to be true.

6. Build Your Social Proof 

Social Proof is pretty much anything that resides outside of your current website. Social crosses all channels and although it may not be your top converting channel, it certainly plays an overall part in the customer’s buying journey. Social Proof is akin to the ‘good old’ person to person referral or ‘word of mouth’, except these days it’s happening on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google My Business, Yelp and so on. Perhaps some of the lowest hanging fruits for digital marketing can be found on platforms we are not so familiar with such as industry related forums, video bloggers and more. Engaging on these related sites, linking back to your website, and being active in your online social community can reap long-term rewards. All in all, do your best to keep your business out in front of your target audience as often as possible. There is no one quick answer- the best digital marketing strategy is one that has multiple layers and is continuously updated and tweaked based on current best practices. Google and other search engines change their algorithms often so what works best today, may not be as valuable next year. Reading blogs like this are a great way to help you keep up and hopefully apply what you have learned to your website. Even if you put only one item from this blog into action, it can help increase the success of your online business.

Request a demo to learn more about how Cumulus Retail can help your digital marketing strategy.

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10 Email Marketing Tips To Help Increase Your Conversions

10 Email Marketing Tips To Help Increase Your Conversions

10 Email Marketing Tips To Help Increase Conversions

At this point, most all retailers send promotional emails to their customers to promote their businesses. But how can you achieve higher open rates, click throughs and conversions? We asked our Digital Marketing expert, Emerson Scherer, for his top tips to send more effective emails.

email marketing examples

1. Keep your emails simple and focused on 1 key offer

There is a lot we want to say to our customers, but the reality is that our customers don’t have the time or patience to consume all of our information. So it’s best to keep your emails short and simple- and to the point. You will see the most traction if you limit your emails to one promotional offer with one ‘call to action’.

2. Send on days and times that statistically perform better for your list

Hopefully you are tracking the success of your emails and have learned which days and times perform the best. It used to be that we would never want to send an email on Monday or Friday or too early or too late in the day… but those ‘rules’ have gone out the window now with consumers all equipped with smartphones and connected all day, every day. So it will depend on your customers and when you know them to be most active.

3. Ensure your email template is mobile optimized

In many cases, our retailer clients are seeing up to 80% of their online traffic and interactions done through mobile devices. It is therefore crucial that your email campaigns are optimized for mobile devices and they should be easily and automatically reformatted properly regardless of the device its opened on.

Customer Loyalty Gift Card Email

4. Be sure to A/B test subject lines and content

Sometimes what you expect to perform the best, doesn’t. It’s a great idea to try two varying subject lines (maybe one including the sales promotion and another more personalized, less salesy subject) and use your email platform to run an A/B test. This means the system will send a portion of your emails with subject A and another with subject B, then whichever results with the highest open rate, the system will automatically send that subject to the rest of your email list.

5. Clean your lists often and remove users that do not interact

While it’s sometimes thought, ‘let me send all of my emails to everyone I have’, in hopes that someone will eventually react- that is not the right approach. If you are using a list that you accumulated over many years, we recommend you run a report and remove anyone who has not interacted with your brand in the past 2 years. If you continue to send email promotions to consumers who have not responded in any way, you are wasting your budget and efforts, and ultimately resulting in lower overall performance rates.
  • 6. In your subject lines, “Don’t Sell What’s Inside”, “Tell What’s Inside”

Subject lines that are “saley” typically perform worse than subject lines that are educational/informative. Instead of talking about how great your products, company, or promotion is, explain more about why and what you are showing.

Here’s an example of a good, time-sensitive email subject line: “Tonight Only: A denim lover’s dream”; as opposed to a bad subject line, such as “Your coupons for this week”.

abandoned cart recovery email

7. Send from a recognizable email address to increase open rates

Consumers first look at the subject line, then they look at who is sending the email. If they don’t recognize who the email is coming from, they typically will not open it. If the ‘Sent From’ clearly states your company name, you probably shouldn’t repeat your company name again in the subject line. The goal is to keep it short and sweet, but recognizable.

8. Send from your own domain name to increase open rates

While you might have your own Gmail or Yahoo email account, remember to always send your promotional emails from your own domain name. And if you don’t have one- it might be time to get one.

9. Offer different opt-in list types so users can segment themselves into lists of interest

When sending lots of promotional emails, the goal is always to get more email addresses to send to. A great way to do this is to add an area on your website where customers can opt-in and sign up for your email lists. To even further your email success, allow your customers to choose from a short list of email types- whether it be newsletter updates, special events, sales and promotions, etc. By providing your customers with the flexibility to choose the types of emails you send them, you will ultimately increase the chances that they then open them.

10. Send more emails, to smaller segmented lists more often

We have found that retailers who send more targeted emails that speak to a smaller audience have a much higher monthly ROI. This can be achieved through email personalization. Segment your email lists by customer preferences and/or sales history, so that you can send more targeted emails to smaller groups of customers, based on what they like and the types of products they have purchased in the past.
Upsell Products Email
While there is no one magical answer to achieving increased email marketing success, following these tips can most definitely help you get there. One thing we know for sure, when you send many emails to your entire list with no type of segmentation, you can pretty well guarantee you will see increased opt-outs and low success. By working with so many retailers over the years and helping them segment their lists and target their messages, we have seen open rates jump from 6 or 8% to over 28%!

Download ebook to learn more how to personalize and automate email campaigns.

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How To Increase Holiday Retail Sales

How To Increase Holiday Retail Sales

How To Increase Holiday Retail Sales

No matter how hard retailers prep for the busiest time of year, many overlook some of the most important aspects that can increase sales. We have put together a few quick tips to help you get shoppers to buy from you before and after the holidays.

How To Increase Holiday Retail Sales

Offer incentives to holiday shoppers

  • Deals & Bundles: Offer deals on products in your store and website. You could also create deals if shoppers purchase a bundle of products (i.e., $149 for jacket and matching gloves/scarf).
  • Coupons: Create coupons for any product you are discounting, and add them to your retail software. Make sure shoppers get your coupons, whether it be by mail, local flyers, website, in-store handouts.
  • Discounts: Reduce prices on big ticket items, top sellers and products that have been in-store for too long.
  • Double Rewards: Offer “double rewards” for purchases made throughout holiday season and even mid-January for those “late holiday shoppers.”
  • Refer A Friend & Earn: Inform your customers they qualify for a percentage off (for example 10%) if they refer a new customer that makes a holiday purchase. Create a form on your website to make it easy for your customers to refer their friends and family.
  • Charity Giveaway: Make charitable donations for purchases made during the holidays. For example, donate a pair of socks to a homeless shelter for every pair of socks purchased.

Add To Your Website

Once you’ve created your incentives, it’s time to add them to your website and retail software. Make sure each offer has an action item (i.e., print coupon, purchase online, visit website or a specific landing page). If you add a form to your website, make sure it works (you’d be surprised how many conversions never reach the retailer’s inbox due to a lack of testing).

Inform Your Shoppers

Send personalized emails to inform shoppers of the deals you are offering. Start by segmenting your customers based on their brand preferences, prior purchases, brand preferences and demographics. Here are a few sample segments:
  1. Customers that made a purchase online in past 12 months
  2. Customers that have purchased a gift card in-store in past 12 months
  3. Customers that haven’t spent anything in past 12 months
  4. Customers that purchased Nike products
  5. Shoppers that never purchased from you (but you have their email)
Once you’ve segmented your lists, set up 4 or 5 emails that include text, images, action items, videos and more. You should begin creating these emails NOW, so shoppers have plenty of time to see what you’re offering. These emails should be reused on all of your social media platforms. Below are a few of ideas for personalized emails:
  • Our gift cards make the perfect holiday gift
  • 10% off everything in store (for first-time customers)
  • [Deal] $149 for Sweater & Matching Gloves
  • Free shipping for ALL eCommerce orders
  • Big discounts on holiday leftovers
Tip: In all of the emails, let shoppers know why they should shop with you. For example, you may offer validated parking with any purchase, offer free in-store babysitting while parents shop, free coffee and cookies (or mention the coffee shop next door), allow pets in-store.
NOTE: If you have integrated email marketing software, you can easily set up personalized and automated emails. Otherwise you can export your email segments to a 3rd party email marketing tool (there are some free ones).

Stocking For the Holidays

You can’t bake a cake without eggs, just like you can’t run a retail business without supplies. Stock up on gift cards, receipt paper and barcode labels to ensure you have the resources necessary to have a successful holiday season.

A Seamless Checkout Process

Our final best practice will help you sell more in a shorter period of time, while keeping your shoppers (and cashiers) happy. Purchase temporary licenses from your POS provider for any temp staff you hire so they can ring up sales. Use tablets as an extra POS instead of full cash registers (this saves money and enables you to assist shoppers from anywhere in your store). Also, it’s always a good idea to have an extra EMV device to prevent any downtime if one of your devices malfunctions.

For CAM Commerce Clients

We are offering CAM Commerce clients additional incentives. These include EMV devices, temporary licenses, gift cards and other resources our retailer clients need. Please contact us as soon as possible at sales@cumulusretail.com for additional information.

5 Tips for Retailers for a Successful Black Friday & Cyber Monday

5 Tips for Retailers for a Successful Black Friday & Cyber Monday

5 Tips for Retailers for a Successful Black Friday & Cyber Monday

Black Friday Retail TipsBlack Friday and Cyber Monday are quickly approaching. To help retailers prepare and be more successful during this time, below are 5 tips to seriously consider.

Do you have any tips? Send them in!

If you have any good tips, please share them with us by emailing marketingteam@celerant.com. We will select the best one and include as a bonus tip (along with your name and company).

Tip #1: Offer Incentives so Shoppers Purchase From YOU

  • Deals and Coupons: Shoppers love deals! You can leverage deal sites, such as Groupon, or offer deals directly to your customers. Offer larger deals for first-time shoppers.
  • Double Rewards: Offer “double rewards” for purchases made on Black Friday/Cyber Monday.
  • Charity Giveaways: Make charitable donations for purchases made on Black Friday/Cyber Monday. For example, donate a pair of socks to a homeless shelter for every pair of socks purchased.

Tip #2: Add Incentives Online

Add all your Black Friday/Cyber Monday offers to your website’s homepage. That includes items you want to sell quickly, big-ticket items, best-sellers and items with the best deals. And make sure each offer has an action item, even if it’s just a link to the product on your website.

Also, ensure your eCommerce functions properly before Black Friday/Cyber Monday begins. Set up a “fake” product and purchase it; make sure everything works (check out, email notifications, etc.)

Tip #3: Create Personalized Email Marketing Campaigns

We recommend personalizing your email campaigns instead of sending the usual “blind holiday promo emails.”

With an integrated email marketing tool, you can send personalized (and automated) emails to your entire list based on their shopping behavior, past purchases, brand preferences and demographics. This ensures consumers receive emails that are actually meant for them, increasing the chances they will click and convert into a sale.

If you don’t have integrated email automation, you can still email your shoppers. Simply export ALL contacts into a marketing tool (there are some free ones), and set up a few emails.

Tip #4: Stock Up On Supplies

Stock up on the supplies you need to run your business, such as gift cards, receipt paper and barcode labels. There is nothing worse than running out of supplies during the busiest time of year.

Tip #5: Guarantee Fast Check-Out

Finally, ensure your checkout lines run as fast and smooth as possible. Purchase temporary licenses from your POS provider for any temp staff you hire so they can ring up sales. Use tablets as an extra POS instead of full cash registers (this saves money and enables you to assist shoppers from anywhere in your store). Also, it’s always a good idea to have an extra EMV device to prevent any downtime, if one of your devices malfunctions.

We wish every retailer a successful (and smooth) Black Friday/Cyber Monday!