How SMB Retailers Can Leverage Social Media to Increase Sales

How SMB Retailers Can Leverage Social Media to Increase Sales

How SMB Retailers Can Leverage Social Media to Increase Sales

Social Media can help small businesses accelerate growth by building credibility, attracting new customers and improving SEO rankings.

A survey from 2015 indicated that 53% of small businesses said that they actively used social media. This number grew to 71% in 2018 with a further 16% saying that they were planning to. It is evident that business owners of all types will have to learn how to leverage social media to solidify and grow their business or they will risk being left behind.

Social Media to Leverage Your Retail Business

Attract Potential Customers

A social media presence will give your retail business credibility when customers attempt to seek out information about the products they would like to buy. Knowing that they can investigate on their own time will give them peace of mind and further encourage them to consider buying from you. Understanding how geo-tagging on social media sites will give small and medium-sized businesses a way to connect with potential customers in any given location. While having many followers and likes is nice, it is much more important to connect with the right people, the ones seeking you out. An omnichannel retail strategy is incomplete without these features.

Retail business that can identify their true potential customers will also be able to build a demographic profile of the people interested in their products. This will allow businesses to understand current trends and better predict future developments by establishing customers’ pain points and goals. In turn, this knowledge will help businesses tweak their brand identity as needed and, more importantly, modify their overall eCommerce strategy to fit the needs of their customers. The results of a demographic analysis of your clients might end up surprising you.

Advantages Of Being A Small Business

Small to medium-sized companies can make their size work by creating a welcoming and personal shopping environment.

In a survey about buying local, 53% of the respondents said that they wanted to shop at small businesses because they enjoy the service they receive. Use this to your advantage and use your small size as a strength. By creating a presence on social media sites, you can bring attention to your establishment while also highlighting the friendly ambiance your customers can expect if they shop with you. And if you have done your homework by obtaining powerful POS software, you can hope to turn a customer into a long-term one.

Another major advantage of being a small or medium-sized business is that it is possible to maintain a healthy communication channel between the business and the customers. Small businesses can more easily respond to customers because large businesses receive so many comments that the majority are drowned out in the noise. Try to create a system where your business can respond in less than 24 hours as 80% of all customers expect a reply within that time period.

The beauty of social media isn’t just posting, but more importantly engaging with your customers and starting a conversation no the social site, inviting others to then join is and be interactive.

Drive Traffic To Your Website/Blog

Most importantly, a strong social media presence can direct people to your website and blog. Search engines like Google are increasingly placing weight on social trends. By driving customers to your website and delighting them with high-quality content, you will increase the likelihood that they share links to your website which will in turn give you a better ranking on Google, the web’s top referrer.  Social media is very tightly connected to SEO and can help not just improve consumer confidence, but also help improve your keyword placements on search engines for new potential customers.

Using Social Media to Help Sell Your Products

With the right retail technology, you can integrate your eCommerce website with social media outlets such as Facebook and Instagram. 

  1. By displaying your ‘Likes’ from the social channel onto your website, you can show how popular each product is with your social followers.
  2. You can also display ‘Share’ buttons on your products, making it easy for customers to share something they see on your website that they might like, on their social newsfeed.
  3. You can pull your recent social posts and display them on your own eCommerce website.
  4. Most importantly, you can pay to advertise with social channels and sell your products on their newsfeeds.

With the right eCommerce provider, social media integrations are easy and can significantly help your retail shop sell more by building more brand validity in the social world.

Retail software has the potential to give your customers and employees a wonderful experience but if no one can find your business, you will not be operating at full strength. By creating a focused social media presence, your point of sale architecture can begin to perform at its maximum potential.

Learn More About Cumulus Retail

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How To Be Competitive With Your Online Store

How To Be Competitive With Your Online Store

How to be Competitive with your Online Store

Developing an Innovative eCommerce Site, as an Extension of your Brick and Mortar Store

As web technology becomes increasingly sophisticated, more and more consumers are shopping online; the web has now become a competitive “battlefield” for retailers. The fact that anyone can purchase products in the comfort of their own home is one of the greatest assets for any retailer in this new age of technology.

Online Store eCommerece Strategies

Staying ahead of the competition requires retailers to understand and leverage modern best practices for online retail. While developing an effective strategy may be different for each type of retail business, there are commonalities all retailers should focus on, such as mobile-first, SEO, the customer experience, and innovative technology integrations – all to help drive traffic and sales to your eCommerce website. This article describe some of the best practices for online retail.

Make It Easy For Online Shoppers

One of the most important steps to a successful online business is ease-of-use. Fostering a booming eCommerce business requires designers to reduce the shopper’s effort. In “The Six Perspectives on Retail Innovation,” the author stresses that reducing annoyances in the purchasing process is an important step to innovation, and lists three important steps to achieve this.

  1. Improve the consumers’ quality of life before and after purchase, and make it easy to navigate the storefront.
  2. Make the storefront look appealing and straight to the point to attract and guide consumers to the most relevant areas of your website.
  3. Focus efforts to automate back-end processes (i.e., inventory, fulfillment, emails) to increase efficiency and speed.

With an easy-to-use, effortless storefront, customers will be more inclined to revisit your website.

Develop an Innovative eCommerce Strategy

Now that your site is easy to use, it’s time to develop a digital strategy. Keep in mind that your strategy will vary based on your goals, industry, competition, budget, and other factors- there is no universal plan. Featured in “You Need An Innovation Strategy,” the author provides a blueprint, which lists three key areas an online retail business should focus on when developing a strategy.

  1. Differentiate: How will you differentiate yourself from competitors (i.e., price, product, experience)?
  2. Foundation: What components will you need to run your business (i.e., website, Amazon, drop ship)?
  3. Innovation: How will you continue growing your business in the future (i.e., new products, popup shops, marketing)?

Whether you’re selling innovative products, or merchandise already on the market, developing an online strategy is vital to an effective online business.

Stay Up-To-Date with Emerging Technologies

We all know technology is constantly evolving, and it’s up to you – the online retailer – to keep up with the “latest and greatest”. Not only will it help you compete, it will improve the experience for you, your staff, and most importantly, your customers.

One of the most important retail technologies that’s constantly evolving is Point of Sale (POS) software. A modern POS system consists of CRM, inventory management, accounting, automation, Cloud technology, POS hardware (i.e., computers/tablets, card readers, cash draws, barcode scanners, receipt printers, mobile POS devices), and more. It’s important to choose a retail solution provider that supports all these components, and keeps up with industry changes.

Final Thoughts...

When building an online store, we suggest starting out with an eCommerce website that is easy to use, and can also automate as many internal processes as possible. Next, build a plan, or strategy, that is realistic, actionable and measurable. And finally, choose a retail software provider that can support all your technology needs.

Learn More About Cumulus Retail

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Launching Your Website is Only the First Step

Launching Your Website is Only the First Step

Launching Your Website is Only the First Step

Going live with your website is only the beginning of your eCommerce journey

Some retailers make the mistake of thinking that developing and launching their website is the most important step. They “go-live” with their new site, stop putting in the continued effort, and then expect the sales to start coming in.

If only it were that easy.
SEO Best Practices for eCommerce

While a user-friendly website is a must for every serious retail business, it is just the first step in building a successful presence on the web. To take your integrated eCommerce platform to the next level, you will have to invest time and energy towards mastering the ever-changing field of SEO (search engine optimization). Ongoing SEO and continued efforts within these best practices is the ultimate key to selling online.

Learn how you can boost your online sales with this crucial weapon.

Why is SEO so Important?

The most common way an online business finds new customers is with the help of Google, which is the internet’s number one search engine. As of May 2017, Google accounted for 62.6 percent of all traffic referrals. In comparison, Facebook only accounted for about 6 percent. Trends suggest that Google’s stranglehold is unlikely to weaken.

SEO is constantly evolving and with Google’s commitment to AI (artificial intelligence), its evolution will most likely become more dramatic. A strong omnichannel retail presence will depend on your ability to stay on top of the changing landscape in search engine algorithms. Though Google isn’t the only search engine, it owns nearly 75% of the overall search market which makes following its recommended guidelines essential. And as a tip, if and when you are paying to advertise with Google in a PPC (Pay-Per-Click) marketing campaign, Google is your friend. When you are looking to gain traction in organic (or free) keyword positions, it becomes much more difficult.

SEO Myths and Pitfalls

Backlinks, which are incoming links to a webpage across the internet, have always been critical to high keyword rankings on results pages- but not all backlinks are equal in the eyes of search engines. This is where knowledge of the different types of relevancy could help a company develop a powerful SEO strategy. It was once thought that links from sites that shared the same niche were more valuable than others, but we now know it’s not necessarily the case. If a page is outside your niche links to your website, the effect could still be substantial if that page has useful information on your niche or subject matter.

Business owners should be wary of falling into innocent-looking pitfalls. For example, Google places a lot of weight on the age of a webpage. That means if you begin a strong content-driven online campaign with an emphasis on obtaining quality backlinks, you might not produce results for weeks, or even months. Budgeting resources for such long-term goals will help you maintain realistic expectations.

And to reach the very top of the search results page, other factors besides backlinks will play a role. To deliver the best search results to its users, Google measures how fast pages are, also known as load time. Google also tracks how long users stay on a page, how nice they look on mobile, and how many visitors actually convert on your pages. Learning about how to optimize for the end-user could be just as important as targeting for keywords and creating favorable backlinks.

Poor SEO Strategy

A website equipped with the latest retail technology and lots of beautiful product pages might not be obtaining the backlinks it desires. This is because most links created on the internet will be aimed at helping users discover valuable and relevant information, which many times is also free. That’s where the creation of quality content comes in. The word quality will ring empty if a company has not investigated what kinds of content are considered to be of interest to the users. Keeping up-to-date with SEO news and trends will allow you to understand what kinds of content and pages you need to create so that others link to your business.

SEO Next Steps

In short, if you want your new eCommerce website to succeed, it’s important to understand that going live with a fantastic website is only one part of the puzzle. A truly successful website must be complemented with an ongoing dedication to SEO.

As we have seen, organic search is the primary source of website traffic, and the most commonly-used search engine is Google. SEO builds trust and credibility, and improves the customer experience by allowing searchers (better known as potential shoppers) to compare and contrast.

With the web’s top referrer, Google, constantly changing its algorithm, and eCommerce becoming the most convenient solution for customers, you cannot afford for SEO to be a weak link for your company’s online shopping experience.

There are so many companies out there that specialize in SEO services, and in some cases your own eCommerce provider may offer ongoing SEO services as well. Perhaps there’s someone in your business who has the knowledge and time to dedicate to your SEO goals. Whichever route you choose, as an online retailer, the most important thing is that SEO doesn’t get ignored.

Learn More About Cumulus' eCommerce & SEO

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Promotional Email Best Practices

Promotional Email Best Practices

Promotional Email Best Practices for Retailers

Steps to Help Retailers Send More Successful Emails

We have to face the facts that the world is getting more influenced by the internet and all things digital. You have worked so hard to obtain your customer base, now how do you get them to keep listening? There’s so much content that customers are consuming now between TV commercials, social media posts, online advertisements, and YouTube personality sponsorship’s- it can be overwhelming to figure out how to keep your audience engaged with you. Luckily, we’re here to provide you with the best email practices to get your voice heard. Or in this case, read.
Steps to Help Retailers Send More Successful Emails

Here are the three best practices for your emails to be read and engaged by your audience:

1. ‘Sent From’ Addresses are essential to any email you send. People want to know who is writing them.

  • Most recipients use the From Header to determine whether to open your email. Your goal is to have the email opened, and people only open emails that are written by people or companies they recognize.
  • You want to be recognized quickly, so you are not reported as SPAM, and so your email is opened, increasing your open rate.
  • Ask yourself how your audience is most likely to recognize you and then craft your Sent From line to include that information.

For example:

2. Your Subject Lines need to PREPARE and ENTICE.

A Subject line gives your audience a hint at the content of your email. Over 30% of people use the Subject line to determine whether or not to open an email.

Remember, the goal of a Subject Line is to prompt your audience to open the message to look for specific information. You need to ENTICE your audience. How do you do that?

  • Clearly and accurately describe the content of the email – relevancy is key. If it doesn’t peak their interest, they’ll quickly trash the email to create space for a better one to come.
  • Highlight the immediate benefit of opening the email.
  • Create a sense of urgency with a specific statement.
  • Include personalization – Using a name or username in a subject line will improve open rates as users typically assume that this email has come from a trusted source.
    • To that same effect, using a name or username within the content of the email itself improves conversion rates and has the added benefit of creating brand loyalty with the user.

Beware of Trash-bin” Subject LinesSubject Lines that look like SPAM are trashed! Avoid the following in your subject lines:

  • Excessive punctuation !!#@$??
  • Symbols such as $ or *****
  • Using RE:
  • Vague subject lines:
  • Hey you
  • Check this out!

Test Subject lines with A/B testing to determine the most effective ones (i.e., those resulting in the most opens)

  • Most email programs display only the first 30-50 characters (not words) in the subject space, so keep subject lines to 50 characters or less.
  • For mobile devices, there’s less room. So 20 – 30 characters at the most.

3. An image says a 1000 words, which may be too much.

  • Avoid busy background images that make your text hard to read. An image should only ever facilitate your readers.
  • Use small images and link them to larger images on your website so interested people can view your images in more detail.
  • Make sure your images support the text in your email instead of including generic image.
  • Limit your image use to one image per article or offer
  • Use alternative text for your images.

Important Tip- you should always add Alt Text to your email images

  • Adding Alt Text allows people whose ESP automatically blocks images (i.e., Gmail) to know what images are in an email, so they are more apt to download the images.
  • Reading devices read alt text, so a visually impaired person knows what images are in the email.
  • Some people set their email to render text only, so alt text will allow them to know what images are associated with the text content.

Example HTML code with Alt Text:

example of alt test for email marketing

The retail industry is changing- but not just retail- everything is moving faster and the “noise” can be overwhelming.  It’s important for retailers to find ways to “break through the noise” and have their messages stand out, as opposed to blending in and getting lost or worse yet- getting marked as “unsubscribed”.  These tips can help improve your email marketing; increasing your open rates, click throughs and ultimately- online sales.

How Retailers Can Stay on Top of Digital Marketing Trends

How Retailers Can Stay on Top of Digital Marketing Trends

How Retailers Can Stay on Top of Digital Marketing Trends

There are many instances where a retailer could have had more success than what they actually achieved but used outdated practices that sold their retail business short. There has to be a foundation with a complete understanding of what the customers want and the products you should provide to those customers. The savviest of retailers are staying on top of digital marketing best practices and able to assure their customers that they have their best interest at heart.

How Retailers can Stay on Top of Digital Marketing

Email Best Practice #1: Email List Segmentation

Perhaps the most important step to successful digital marketing is segmenting your email list. It is universally disliked by customers to be spammed the exact same message as everyone else. This is actually the worst kind of digital marketing and is a counter-productive way of digital marketing. The email contact is a customer’s personal way of being available to you the retailer and you must remember it can be revoked at any time. The reaching out to customers is an important aspect of conducting business, but if handled poorly can result in you losing a customer forever. Some customers will go as far as to block your company’s domain so you won’t be able to reach out to them digitally again. The most effective approach is to take the time to determine the different type of customers that you have and craft segments for each of them.

Email Best Practice #2: Unique Messaging

Another great practice for you to use is coming up with the most appropriate message in each of your segments.  Each customer you have needs to be spoken to differently. No matter of your sending the same message, the customer needs to hear it differently or hear it at different frequencies or have different offers and language. Creating creative messages is an essential part of the process and cutting corners can be detrimental. Remember everything you use in your digital marketing is representation of your brand.

Email Best Practice #3: Automated Emails Based on Shoppers’ Behavior

Integrating digital marketing with all of your customer data is another important practice you should be using digital marketing strategies. Email marketing automation platforms will help optimize campaigns by measuring every activity that happens with your message. Whether a link doesn’t have a lot of click results or there was not a lot of engagement after the clicks, this will give you data that will be more beneficial than the number of clicks. It will tell you things like, how long the customer spent on the product page, if the product was purchased, if the product placed in the cart and abandoned, or maybe the customer decided coming in the store physically was better. Being able to track these customer behaviors will help better optimize how to market to each of you customers.  Watch our short video on E-mail Marketing »

Examples of customer behavior can trigger automatic responses:

  • Item is returned > Send automated email asking for feedback
  • Cart is abandoned > Send automated reminder with suggested products
  • Product is purchased > Request an online review
  • Customer hasn’t visited site in 6 months > Send “We Miss You” email
  • It’s your customer’s birthday > Send birthday promotion
  • Customer has a gift card balance > Remind them of their balance

* Understanding your customer’s shopping patterns will undoubtedly make it easier to create the proper email workflows.

Email Best Practice #4: Measuring Success & Making Continuous Changes

Monitoring and measuring is another practice to use in digital marketing to get the most out of your business. The main selling point of using digital marketing is the fact that it is measurable. You can easily and quickly see what is working and what is not working; but it can be a lot more difficult to figure out why. Digital marketing works best when you are looking at the perspective of sales, services, and satisfaction. You will be able to see things like a customers segment doesn’t fit them anymore, as his/her preferences might be changing. Or you have a great offer during one part of the month but the customers don’t receive paychecks until the end of the month. There are so many different possibilities and the great thing about digital marketing is the power it gives to respond to the drivers with efficiency, because you will see the tangible results immediately. Sending the right message to the right customer is the first step, but tracking the success and being able to make changes for increased success- is the most important aspect of your digital marketing.

5 Ways Retailers Can Save Time and Sell More

5 Ways Retailers Can Save Time and Sell More

5 Ways Retailers Can Save Time and Sell More

Automate your retail business & operate more effectively

If you came across this article then, like most retailers, you’re always searching for different ways to automate your retail business and operate more efficiently. Especially if this will help grow the company sales, right? Below are 5 processes that you can simply automate, and you don’t have to be a programmer to do so.

We understand not all retail software offers all the features listed below. Before investing in a 3rd party software, make sure your point of sale provider can integrate.


1) Integrate with distributors and vendors

With this type of integration, you can easily import you vendor’s product catalogs into your retail database, with no manual effort. After that, you will be able to generate and send purchase orders automatically to your suppliers based on predefined minimum and maximum stock levels to replenish your in-store inventory. You can then receive purchases order acknowledgments back from your vendors, and also Advanced Ship Notices (ASN’s) before the shipment arrives, as opposed to having to scan every item that is in the shipment and not knowing what should be included. For your online sales, ask your vendor if they offer drop shipping and if they do ask your eCommerce provider if they can integrate with your vendors. If so, you can pull your vendors available inventory levels from their warehouse onto your website and sell their merchandise as if it were your own. By enabling drop ship, you can sell more products on your website and offload fulfillment to your vendors, speeding up delivery and saving you time.

2) Integrate with accounting software

By integrating your POS and accounting software (i.e., Sage, QuickBooks, Microsoft Dynamics, Great Plains), syncing sales totals can be done automatically, cost of goods sold and payments for easy reconciliation- eliminating manual data entry and human error. Also, you can learn how to create and send smart invoices through QuickBooks.

3) Integrate promotional email campaigns with your customer & sales data

Integrate your email marketing tool with your retail software and use its CRM and sales data, from both your in-store as well online businesses to segment and automate personalized emails to consumers based on their shopping behavior, past purchases, brand preferences and demographics. (Example: send a 10% coupon for a scarf to customers who recently purchased the matching hat/gloves.) 

By creating automated workflows based on specific behaviors, you can continuously market to your customers, based on their specific preferences and actions, without any ongoing effort.  The process will flow automatically once a certain purchase is made or action is taken.  Personalized email marketing has been known to produce up to 6x times more success than sending out generic mass emails to your entire customer list.

4) Automate abandoned cart emails

Don’t allow the shoppers with items in-cart to slip away. Create an automated marketing campaign consisting of emails, popups and chatbots that offer discounts, free shipping, product reviews or links to products that are similar to entice your shoppers to complete their online order and buy from your website; the more web searches which end in conversions, they higher you will ultimately rank on search engines for your applicable keywords.  And, of course, more conversions means more revenue.

5) Sell your products via online marketplaces, integrated with your point of sale

Many retailers now sell on marketplaces such with Amazon, Wal-Mart, eBay, Facebook and other 3rd party marketplaces to expose their products to potential new shoppers, but the savviest retailers now integrate this process through their point of sale software. 


Depending on the retail POS software you use, you will be able to automatically upload your products from your POS database, synchronize your stock levels and pricing, offload fulfillment to Amazon, and track sales from each marketplace in one place. Your incoming orders can flow directly into your point of sale software as if they were coming in from your own eCommerce website.  If you are to use multiple marketplaces, your retail system might integrate with Channel Advisor, allowing you to easily manage all marketplaces centrally through one platform. 

10 Steps for SMB Retailers to More Effectively Compete in the Changing Retail Environment

10 Steps for SMB Retailers to More Effectively Compete in the Changing Retail Environment

10 Steps to Effectively Compete in the Changing Retail Environment

How Small-To-Mid Size (SMB) Retailers can in a constantly evolving Retail Environment

As the retail industry evolves, it becomes more and more challenging for SMB retailers to compete. Differentiating against big box retailers who are rapidly expanding into the mom-and-pop shop markets, as well as keeping loyal customers purchasing from your business as opposed to shopping online elsewhere, is not an easy task.  To better compete in-store and online, omnichannel SMB need to maximize their access to current technologies and retail management systems. 

Ten Steps for SMB Retailers to more Effectively Compete in the Changing Retail Enviornment

Celerants retail technology experts compiled a Top Ten list of ways retailers boost sales, lower overhead costs, and increase customer flow and satisfaction.

1. Integrate With and Encourage Social Media Interactions

Social media channels are the backbone to any company, whether online or not. Retailers utilize social media influencers, tagged, posts, and ads on every social media network to expand their reach to new markets through their own consumers. Letting the customers promote your product increases outreach and product credibility.

2. Incorporate Videos to Sell Your Brand

Videos are a full-picture and increasing in popularity branding tool, especially among millennials; showcasing the product, allowing for reviews, and a full/real picture of the product. This especially helps for the omnichannel approach for people to come into your store or visit online.

3. Enable and Invite Your Customers to Post Online Reviews


Another opportunity for the consumer to sell your product for you, is having online customer reviews available for all potential consumers to view and judge. Online reviews also increase content on your websites and all social media channels, which positively impacts your SEO. The easiest way to manage this is through automated emails sent to the customer immediately after purchase or delivery, to get a full picture of the experience immediately.

4. Empower Your Customers to be Truly Mobile

 Consumers are always aware of retail benchmarks; they compare prices to other retailers; they read reviews before even entering the store; and can, now, pay using mobile devices. Companies should use a mobile retail POS for their retail management system in order to interact with these customers and immediately generate “good reviews”.

5. Don’t Just Send out Mass Emails; Personalize Them

Shoppers generally have a spam filter full of automated emails, so personalizing these emails to their preferences will keep your company’s emails out of spam. This retail POS is more difficult to leverage, but personalizing likes, dislikes, and preferences will increase traffic to your website efficiently.

6. Offer Your Customers Loyalty Programs

Almost all retailers have developed some kind of awards program that not only provides incentive to customers to shop at their store, but allows for them to track important metrics and data of flow into and out of their website. When a customer signs up for these loyalty programs, the company will get their age, demographic, location, and other important information to targeting brand outreach and products.

7. Invest in Your Website’s SEO


As the competition between retailers increases online, a companies’ SEO must be sustainable- regardless of intended outreach or audience. Effective SEO strategy allows for, you to increase web traffic, get more “clicks”, and sell more products.

8. Offer More Products on Your Website without Stocking Inventory

Leveraging your vendors/distributors products and offering a wider variety of goods to your customers on your website eliminates the need to stock vendor merchandise by taking advantage of their live inventory on your site and sending directly to the consumer.

9. Optimize & Automate Online Ordering Fulfillment

In today’s eCommerce climate, it is difficult to compete with the instant gratification some online retail stores can provide. Leveraging all your stores to reach the most customers as a fulfillment center, considering: Location, supply, promotional surpluses, specific shipment options, staff, and pickup/delivery frequency; optimizing how fast your customers receive their products, while minimizing cost, labor, and time.

10. Sell Your Products through 3rd Party Marketplaces

Utilizing retail management system giants such as Amazon and EBay, means that your company is missing out on thousands of sales. Selling your product through this point of sale exponentially increases outreach. It also optimizes retail POS platforms because you will no longer directly deal with fulfillment requirements, payment, or customer service, especially with Amazon Prime, a wildly popular option among online consumers.