Announcing the OpenSky-FedEx Alliance

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The team at OpenSky is excited to announce that we’ve partnered with FedEx® to create an exclusive offer that saves you money.

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Starting today, you can save up to 30% off select FedEx® services whenever you ship an order – – and that’s whether you’re a current customer of FedEx or a newbie that wants to give it a try.

Save Up to 30% off select FedExExpress® U.S. shipping
Save Up to 20% off select FedExGround® and Express international shipping 

Use Promo Code: VJ8HDM on the following link and start saving!

Try Shipping with FedEx via the OpenSky/FedEx Alliance

The Rundown: Black Friday, Small Biz Saturday & Cyber Monday

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We’re in the home stretch.  Only a few more days until the holiday shopping weekend kicks off.  Here’s a rundown of each day on OpenSky- including official hashtags, suggested hashtags and email schedules. We’ve also included a few helpful links that you can reference to make sure the posts you’re creating and broadcasting are effective.

Enjoy!

Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov 28

Suggested Hashtags: #givethanks, #shopforacause, #thanksgiving
Member Email: 12am ET
Member Email: 1pm ET
Rewards Members receive Free Shipping at 11pm ET

Black Friday, Nov 29

Official Hashtag: #blackfriday
Suggested Hashtags: #sale, #doorbuster, #shopforacause, #BOGO, #freeshipping, #limitedquantity
Member Email: 12am ET
Member Email: 12pm ET
Member Email: 8pm ET
Rewards Program Free Shipping expires at 12pm ET
Twitter Small Business Blog: #BlackFriday & #CyberMonday Shoppers on Twitter

Small Business Saturday, Nov 30

Official Hashtag: #shopsmall
Suggested Hashtags: #opensky #community #smallbizsat, #smallbusiness
Member Email: 12am ET
Member Email: 1pm ET
Member Email: 8pm ET
Download Twitter’s Small Business Saturday ToolKit
Get $100 in Ad Credits from Twitter
Download Small Business Saturday Resources provided by American Express
5 Tips for Using Facebook on Small Business Saturday
Tip: Today’s the day to email your contacts and thank them for supporting your business over the year.

Sunday, December 1

Member Email + Rewards members receive credit: 12am ET
Member Email: 1pm ET
Member Email + Rewards members receive Free Shipping: 11 pm ET

Cyber Monday

Official Hashtag: #cybermonday
Suggested Hashtags: #dealoftheday #doorbuster #sale
Member Email + Rewards members receive Credit & Free Shipping: 12AM
Member Email: 12pm ET
Member Email: 8pm: 4 Hours Left to Shop
*Rewards Credits expire: 11:59pm ET
Twitter Small Business Blog: #BlackFriday & #CyberMonday Shoppers on Twitter

And if you have some great advice for selling over the weekend  please share some of your own tips and tricks for the rest of the Community to benefit from!

Sign-up to follow the OpenSky Merchant Blog and get updates delivered to your inbox via email!

10 Ways to Stand Out & Drive Sales During the Biggest Shopping Weekend of the Year

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Black Friday kicks off the busiest shopping weekend of the year.

Shoppers experience ‘sale’ messaging overload between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. They’ll see deals everywhere they look. Stand out with sales that are clear, creative, drive urgency, provide value and most of all, make sense for you. Combine interesting sales opportunities with customer service, showcase your product expertise, and focus on your core competencies as a business.

Here are the 10 tactics you can use to set yourself up for success.

1. Market your sales before they launch

All too often, shoppers learn about a sale once it’s already launched, or even worse, when it’s already over. Why? They weren’t given any time to prepare for what’s on the way by the Seller. Use the time leading up to Black Friday to begin marketing sales you’re planning for the weekend. Big Box retailers have been doing that in newspapers forever. As a shopper, you know the doorbuster for Black Friday before you head to the store, don’t you? Replicate that strategy online. Try to get shoppers to schedule a visit to your shop over the holiday weekend by sharing teasers for what you have planned.

2. Create Doorbusters#doorbuster

The name of the game is getting traffic (or visitors) to your OpenSky page between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Create a few doorbusters that help catch the attention of someone browsing for a great deal. Regularly, doorbusters exceed a 50% discount,  include a GWP (gift with purchase, more on that below), and are available in a very limited quantity.

3. Create Time Sensitive Promotions

Create urgency and drive engagement by creating limited time offers.  Black Friday and Cyber Monday are perfect candidates for 1-Day Sales. But don’t be afraid to push the envelope – how about 4 Hour Sales throughout the course of the day? Or a sale every hour? (if  the size of your catalog permits).  Take shoppers on a journey throughout the weekend – make it fun. Make it a game.

4. Offer Free Shipping

This weekend, you aren’t just vying for sales against online sellers – you’re competing with the brick & mortar stores that don’t any charge shipping whatsoever. Solve this by offering Free Shipping for the weekend. Take this variable off the table completely, making it a non-issue for any prospective buyer.

5. Advertise the price after discount

Don’t make a shopper work to figure out the actual cost of an item after a discount. If you’re offering 30% off, tell shoppers what the cost is as checkout.  An $42 item with a 30% discount ends up costing the shopper $29.40.  Sounds a lot cheaper than $42, doesn’t it?  Use that final price as an asset in your messaging.

6. Create Buy 1, Get 1 Deals#bogo

Commonly referred to as a BOGO offer, buy one, get one sales are a great way to communicate clear savings to a shopper. Buy one and get one for free.  Can’t get much clearer than that.  But be careful – not every item is a candidate for a BOGO sale. Do people really need two navy blue winter jackets?

7. Create Buy 1, Get 1 Half OFF Sales

The cousin of BOGO is the commonly used Buy 1, Get 1 Half OFF sale.  It has a similar effect on the shopper and is a bit kinder to your margin, but remember – this weekend isn’t the time to hold back. If you’re going to drive sales, it’s time to get aggressive.

8. Gifts with Purchase (GWPs)

This is a BOGO deal in disguise, and with more possibilities.  Think for the shopper and give them the opportunity to buy one item, and get a little something extra as an added bonus for buying.  If you sell Pancake Mix, throw in some Syrup for free. If you sell a necklace, throw in an affordable pair of earrings for free.  Give shoppers the nudge they need to buy in the moment.

9. Launch New Products

What better weekend to create some intrigue for your existing customer base?  Add some new products to your store and advertise them. Exclusive launches of new products perk of the ears of your previous customers, driving clicks, traffic and sales.

10. Create Bundles with Savings

Tis the season for gift sets, gift baskets and bundling.  Create an easy way for the shopper looking for the perfect gift.  Think for them by creating bundles that make the shopping experience stress free.

Make sure you’re tuned in over the next 9 days, as we’ll be sharing new features, updates and community wide marketing initiatives that can help land you sales and exposure over the holiday weekend.

Rich Pins & Twitter Cards. Make the most of what you’re sharing, only on OpenSky.

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One of the key benefits of sharing posts via your Merchant Toolkit is the ability to leverage Rich Pins and Twitter Card technology we’ve built into our experience for you.

Both Rich Pins and Twitter Cards provide product information to the viewer wherever you share them. This is the information that’s critical in driving sales conversion from your posts.

Pins vs. Rich Pins; Tweets vs. Twitter Cards

Rich Pins differ from traditional pins in that they automatically include updated details like Product Price, Availability, Ingredients, Comments, etc.

Twitter Cards differ from ordinary tweets in that they showcase an image, and share more specific info on the product, brand and price. It even showcases the number of loves your product has received on OpenSky.

Where can I share Rich Pins and Twitter Cards from on OpenSky?

Pinning directly from your OpenSky Toolkit will enable your Pinterest and Twitter followers to see posts that include the data we’ve reference above – all the stuff you need to drive a sale.  They’ll begin to see all this info in their Pinterest or Twitter feeds. And better yet, everytime your pin or tweet is shared on those platforms, it’ll continue to share the same data with others.

Key takeaway: Use your relationship with OpenSky to improve your Tweets and Pins so you can make your social media help you sell.

Share Rich Pins and Twitter Cards via the Products tab in your Merchant Toolkit. When you go to your products page of your dashboard you will see all the different ways to share that product – Facebook, Twitter, Wanelo, Pinterest (or even grab a bit.ly link from this page to create custom posts of your own)

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Once you click the Pintrest or Twitter icons, you choose the messaging you’d like to post. After that, OpenSky will automatically add in product details that will transform it into a post that sells.

Why did OpenSky build this feature?

Big box brands share Rich Pins and Twitter Cards and have seen real success selling on social networks. Now it’s your turn to join in on the fun, courtesy of the the rockin’ engineering team at OpenSky.   Social media has become the new word of mouth, so make sure your social media is telling potential customers the right information while it’s making the rounds.

Here area few examples of what Rich Pins and Twitter Cards look like:

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Tweeting from storefront gives you brand info:

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Tweeting from product page gives you product info:

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Tweeting from feed gives you general OpenSky info:

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Holiday Press Event Recap

Press Event 1

Hi, merchants!

On behalf of the whole OpenSky team, I’d like to thank you for sending your incredible products for inclusion in the holiday press event we held last Thursday.

It took a whole lot of teamwork, creativity, and coffee to put the event together–and it was well worth it! The buzz in the office on Thursday among members of the press was electric. We already have several pending press opportunities as a result of the event, with more to come as we head into the holiday season.

I’ve included a few snapshots from the event in this post and we’ll be sharing additional images in the OpenSky feed and on our social media channels over the coming days.

Your products were displayed by category, making it easy for editors, bloggers, and contributors to navigate to their areas of focus. Our displays included “Gifts for Her”; “Gifts for Him”; “Gifts for the Beauty Junkie”; “Stocking Stuffers”; “Gifts for Babies, Kids, and Tweens”; “Hostess Gifts”; “Foodie Gifts” and “Gifts for Pets and Pet Lovers.”

Holiday Press Event 2013

A total of 33 attendees came through the doors of OpenSky HQ, from a variety of outlets including Parade, TODAY Show, New York Times, AM New York, People.com, FoodNetwork.com, Glamour.com, iVillage.com, and more.

Upon exiting, all attendees were provided with a gift bag filled with an assortment of products from OpenSky, along with a flash drive containing product look books by vertical. The look books have also been distributed to all members of the press who were unable to attend as well as press around the country.

Below is just a small sampling of the feedback we received from a few of our attendees:

Press Feedback

I will be reaching out to merchants individually as we hear of interest in your items from members of the press. In the meantime, if you have any questions about the event, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at alyse@opensky.com.

Wishing you all a very happy and healthy holiday season!

Alyse

New Feature: Tiered Shipping

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Reward Shoppers with Shipping Discounts

This week, we’re excited to announce a new feature that will help you provide a better shopping experience for Members.  It’s called Tiered Shipping.

What is Tiered Shipping?

Tiered shipping is a way for you to provide shipping discounts for every additional item a shopper adds to their shopping cart. Tiered Shipping is set up when you first create a product, and can be edited at any point via the standard Product > Edit functionality in your Merchant Toolkit. Tiered shipping has two elements that you must enter on all listings – a Primary Shipping Cost and an Additional Item Cost.

  • The Primary Shipping Cost is the amount a buyer pays when the item is shipped on it’s own.
  • The Additional Item Cost is the amount added to the cart of a shopper when items are purchased and shipped together.  Additional Item Costs apply when a buyer purchases multiples of the same product or different products from you at the same time.

Setting up Tiered Shipping

If you don’t want to offer a discounted combined shipping cost, you won’t need to make any changes in your toolkit.  But if you’d like to start extending this discount to your shoppers, head over to your toolkit, choose to edit a product and navigate to the ‘Shipping’ section for that item (review the image below if you’re unfamiliar)

tiered shipping

How does Tiered Shipping work?

Here’s an example of how Tiered Shipping works:

  • Item 1
    • Primary Shipping Cost = $8.00
    • Additional Item Cost = $2.00
  • Item 2:
    • Primary Shipping Cost = $7.00
    • Additional Item Cost = $1.00
  • If Item 1 and Item 2 are purchased together, the total Shipping Cost to the buyer is $10.00. We use the highest primary Shipping Cost and it’s specified Additional Item Cost.
    • Primary Shipping Cost: $8.00 (higher of the two items)
    • Additional Item Cost: $2.00 (specified Additional Item Cost associated with the Primary Item)
  • If three of of Item 2 are purchased together, the total combined shipping cost to the buyer is $9.00. Here’s how it breaks out:
    • Primary Shipping Cost: $7.00
    • Additional Item Cost: $1.00 (2 items ordered) = $2.00
    • Total Shipping Cost: $9.00

Fee-Free Contest: And The Winners Are…

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Well, that was quick.

24 days have passed and the Fee-Free Contest has come to a close. Aside from sharing the list of winners, the OpenSky team wanted to provide some other interesting takeaways from the contest. Before you skip down to the bottom, please take a minute to read.

First off, (and this may sound clichéd) it’s important to note that every Merchant that participated in the Fee-Free Contest is a winner. In fact, the community as a whole is a winner. And here’s why:

OpenSky Merchants have gained 65,000 new follows throughout the Fee-Free Contest. Merchants have collectively marketed this community to contacts EVERYWHERE, and in turn, that has boosted the awareness of OpenSky as a shopping destination for every Seller. In the end, that’s just the type of boost our community needs this time of year. This influx of followers is key to the success of the small business community you’re building, and equally important to the success of each individual Merchant.  

With the contest behind us, you may be asking, “What’s next?”  It’s time to take your new followers on a journey with the posts that you create and share.

OpenSky’s Ripple Effect

As we’ve mentioned in the past, increasing the number of followers is the first step in successfully tapping into the ripple effect that is OpenSky’s social shopping network. Every follower you have is an opportunity to reach even more people – consider it an “IN” with friends of your new followers. It works like this:

infographic

So that makes sense, right? Every person that follows you has a network of friends that they can share your products with. The more you engage with them via posts, the more they’ll share.  The more they share, the more exposure you get.  It’s the OpenSky ripple effect.

Create Posts. Engage your Followers. Watch the Ripple Effect happen.

Now that you have even more followers, it’s time to start posting. Post in your feed everyday – whether it be posts that feature promotions or brand building posts. Broadcast these posts to your followers all over the web – on OpenSky, Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. Keep your fans updated and remind them that they are only a few short clicks away from getting a loved one the perfect gift this holiday season.

And remember — when you broadcast those posts on your other marketing channels you make 100% from every item sold to the people you’ve invited (Not to mention the 10% bonus you make when that member shops from any of the other small businesses on OpenSky). It’s a win-win!

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Even though the Fee-Free Contest has come to an end, don’t let up now – with only 18 days left before Black Friday keep spreading the word about your brand’s page and products.

Without further ado…Congratulations to the 10 Fee Free Contest Winners!!!

Rank Merchant
1 shoplulu
2 crazydogtshirts
3 bottledupdesigns
4 paperscissorsrock
5 pure-impressions
6 funk-and-fabulous
7 soulku
8 baconery
9 whiteplum
10 savor

A Note From John @ 30,000 Feet

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photoThis was written last night from 30k feet in the back of a plane coming home from 2 days of meetings in San Francisco and shared with the OpenSky staff.  I thought it made sense to publish it to our entire merchant community as well.

The most important message is this:  I’m fired the heck up.  I’m proud to work with each and everyone of you.  I feel lucky that we’re building what we’re building together.  Great marketplaces aren’t easy to create and brave and bold teams are even harder to assemble, and I view it as real triumph to be on this team with each of you.  And it feels amazing to say this: our marketplace has never been in a better spot with more clear potential for greatness.

To change the world, we have got some awesome things to do.  And by Change the World, what do I mean?   I envision OpenSky as global — with the world’s most extraordinary goods and the world’s consumers.  A global bazaar that is dynamic, friendly, personal and exciting to sell on and awesome to shop.   The entire friggin world.

Today OpenSky is a Social Commerce Marketplace.  Let me break that down:

Social mean mobile.  75% of Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest usage is on a mobile device.  Our mobile usage is now at approximately 58% and growing.  With the launch of Android in the next couple of weeks, and our critical improvements to iPhone APP we will be in a strong position to continue to capture the way consumers are increasingly spending all of their time — on their devices, discovering.  Our repeat visitors now spend more than 8 minutes per visit, up from 6 minutes in August.  Social also means connections and follows.  The more follows and connections, the more personal and relevant their discovery of goods.

Commerce means transactions.  Merchants thrive when members love, share and buy.  Members are happy when they discover and buy extraordinary goods at fair value that arrive quickly and exceed their expectations.   By connecting buyers and sellers, and ensuring that their is clear value and trust, goods get bought and sold.  This is what it means when we talk about “liquidity” or GMV (gross merchandise value).

Marketplace means we are a platform: the glue that connects sellers and buyers to one another.  Buyers mean that sellers are happy. Happy sellers means more sellers (and the beginnings of a tightly-knit seller community).  More sellers means more buyers for everyone, and so on.  This is why we focus like a laser on growing the number of users and merchants using OpenSky each and every day.  This is the lifeblood of OpenSky.  Marketplaces are notoriously hard to create and even harder scale.  Literally they are the wicked hardest kind of companies to build and not for the faint of heart. Why? Because buyers and sellers need to grow in beautiful and harmonious balance – they need to be loved and needed by each other.  But when marketplaces do scale they are incredibly resilient. So how are we doing? The number of active users (the demand side) on OpenSky has grown more than 20% each of the last couple of months. The number of items for sale (the supply side) on OpenSky has grown from 5k items to more than 40,000 items in the last 6 months. Those numbers are great.  Feel pride in that.  I know that I do.

Now every interaction we have with our merchant community is critical.  We need them to know how much we love them and want to help them.  They have an infinite number of choices for how and where they merchandise, promote, and sell their goods.  If they are empowered and engaged on OpenSky, we can grow. The same is true for consumers. Consumers can shop anywhere.  We need them to love their experience and their discovery on OpenSky.  We want (and need) them sing from the rooftops about their OpenSky experiences.  Every consumer interaction; from the emails we send, to goods merchant sell, the elegance and simplicity of the user experience and our tone when they call us has the potential to convert casual users into passionate advocates and lovers of OpenSky.

Recently I’ve had a few chances to speak with a former President of eBay.  She breaks down the three key success drivers to eBay (and all marketplaces) as the following:

Selection
Value
Trust

Selection is critical because the more spectacular and unique goods available in the marketplace, and the more diverse, dynamic and comprehensive, the more the marketplace becomes a “go to” destination for a member. OpenSky can become the only game in town.  We’re not there yet. This is why we must continue to work closely with our merchants to increase both the number and quality of items on our platform.  Members need more. And then more still after that.

Value is critical for commerce.  Members spend money only when they believe they are getting a real deal, an exclusive item, fast shipping, etc.  They will buy elsewhere if the perceived value is better elsewhere.  Our marketplace needs merchants dedicated to providing Value to members and do so eagerly and with regularity.  This is why we must continue to focus on helping merchants make and distribute posts that sell to broad audiences in order to get the right goods in front of the right people.

Trust is the bedrock of our marketplace.  Merchants must know that we have their backs (because we do).  Consumers must know that they are respected and revered (because they are).  Merchants and Consumers must create trusting relationships directly with one another.  As that happens (which it is) our community is building trust.

Mike is driving the company towards important and significant steps in all of these big areas. Over the next 60 days, we have important milestones ahead: the holiday shopping season, the release of our Android App, International, the improved merchant join flow, simplified and clarified navigation and many more critical elements.  We are bold and brave.

And at our core – let’s be a community.  A team bonded by our commitment to one another and to help merchants grow their businesses and help consumers discover the world’s best goods.  Let this guide us.  Let’s do that with relentless passion, a friendly and open spirit and the unbridled creativity and enthusiasm that has made the last couple of months spectacular and can make the next sprint even better.

I tweeted yesterday that I was at “the corner of hustle and resilience” (@johncaplan).  I’m damn glad that I’m there standing next to you. I hope you have a fun wknd.

-john (founder / ceo)

ps.  Watch this video and share it to Facebook, in an email, on your blog, etc.->  and write something like this:  I’m fired up about OpenSky

New Feature: Customer Messaging

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Customer Messaging

Interacting with members is a key factor in your success as a merchant on OpenSky. By using the new Customer Messaging Tool, you can now email customers after they place an order to ensure a thrilling shopping experience.

This feature allows you to get in touch with Shoppers when you have important information that you need to communicate.  Here are some common instances where the tool could be a big help:

  • If there is a short delay on your shipment (i.e. less than a week), you may want to update your customer on the shipping status of their order.
  • If you run out of stock of a particular item, you may want to offer the customer a different item instead or if they prefer to cancel the order entirely
  • Sometimes a customer incorrectly enters their address; if you notice this, you can quickly message the customer to resolve the problem.
  • If you offer customized products, you may want to ask a customer for more details on the customization they requested.
  • Thank your customer for their order! Use this feature to send a personalized note to a customer thanking them for supporting your business.

How it works

On your orders page, simply expand an order and click the “Email Customer” Button found right underneath the customer’s shipping details.

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Now customize the message you’d like to send to your Customer. You can customize the subject line, message text and sender email address.  When you’re all set, click ‘Send’ and message your customer!   And remember, responses from your Customer will be delivered to the email address you specify in the form.

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The hashtags you should be using to create posts that sell.

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Alleviate posting fatigue. Use these hashtags to create posts that sell.

OpenSky posts are your way to engage members (aka shoppers) on the daily.  A great way to keep followers coming back while alleviating posting fatigue is making sure you’re creating posts that are valuable to the member.  And a KEY part of that is leveraging hashtags to add a healthy dose of energy and excitement into the post.

Not only will these hashtags help to give you more exposure (as all hashtags do) but you’ll help shoppers get on schedule, knowing when they should come back check out your store and shop!

Most already know about #followfriday and #sale (if you’re not up to speed have a look on our previous post that give you the 101 on Hashtags), but here are a bunch of other hashtags you can use to give members a new, fun and exciting way to shop every day of the week.

Monday

#manicmonday – use this when you’re sharing a sale over 40% OFF

Tuesday

#twosday  – have a buy one, get one sale you’d like to promote for the day?  Use #twosday to let shoppers know the product is a buy one, get one deal.

Wednesday

#humpdayhappyhour  – celebrate Hump Day with a Happy Hour sale!  Use #humpdayhappyhour or #hhh starting at 4pm ET on Wed afternoons and run sales that run through the end of the day.

Thursday

#throwbackthursday – roll back your prices, and run a sale that gets people excited to shop!

Friday

#freeshippingfriday – Give shoppers an opportunity to kick the weekend off on the right foot.  Use #freeshippingfriday or #fsf so Merchants know that when Friday rolls around, the product ships for free!

Saturday

#sales@sunrise –  Give all those early risers out there an opportunity to get their shopping started first thing on Saturday or Sunday AM. Run weekend sales created by the early riser, for the early riser.

Sunday

#sundayfunday – Help yourself drive sales through the weekend – on OpenSky, Sundays are known as #sundayfunday, where Merchants share special limited-time-only discounts.  Give a healthy % off or free shipping, or both! Your pick!

General Hashtags

Here are some general hashtags you can use each and everyday!

#postoftheday use this hashtag is you’d think your post is the #postoftheday
#dealoftheday – use this hashtag is you think  your sale is the #dealoftheday
#followback – use this hashtag when you follow someone, and would like to ask them return the favor
#themoreyouknow – use this hashtag with your fellow Merchants.  If you’re helping another Merchant out via a comment, a post, etc. use #themoreyouknow so other Merchants can read up on the helpful hints Merchants are sharing with each other.
#lovemelovemesaythatyoullloveme – use this hashtag if you’re looking to drive up the loves on your product
#shopforacause – use this hashtag if the sales of your products support a charity