February is here! + Tips for the Weekend

February is here. (well, kinda)

Put your best foot forward in February by making the most out of this weekend. Start the new month strong by taking part in Groundhog Day and Super Bowl fun.

Saturday, February 1

  • #salesatsunrise – Calling all early bird merchants! Early Saturday morning, create a post targeting early bird OpenSky shoppers using hashtag #salesatsunrise.
  • #samedayshipping – Market your products to shoppers looking for quick-ship peace of mind. Guarantee you’ll get orders out to shoppers the same day they order using #samedayshipping
  • Free Sample Saturday (and Sunday!) – Have sample sizes of your products? Offer to throw them in with any purchase to drive new orders today and repeat purchases in the future. Use #freesample in your post.
  • Image Makeover – Spend time this weekend giving your product images a makeover and reposting them so followers get a fresh look at older favorites. On desktop, try downloading Fotor for Mac. It’s an easy application that allows you to quickly edit, crop and enhance photos. On mobile, give Moldiv (iOS) (Android), PicLab (iOS) (Android) or Aviary a shot. These are great photo editing tools that allow you to enhance photos in a few easy steps. No photo designer required.

Sunday, February 2

Groundhog Day! And the Super Bowl!  Here’s how to participate in the fun.

  • Groundhog Day:  We put our faith in Punxsutawney Phil year in and year out, but interestingly enough he’s only right 39% of the time (crazy, right?!?). So this year, we’re asking Merchants to cast their own vote with a hashtag and a product post. Use #earlyspring or #latewinter and share a product that best reflects your prediction. Make it more fun for shoppers with free shipping or a discount for the day.
  • Super Bowl Flash Free Shipping: From 6pm – 12am ET, OpenSky members will have a reason to shop during the game with flash free shipping.  Suggested Hashtag: #SBFreeShipping

Give Your Marketing Plan a Makeover

If you’re planning an event based promotion – perhaps a new product launch or a sale, it’s important to create a sound marketing plan that covers all phases of the promotion – the before, the during and the after.

Marketing: Before Your Event

What you do in the week leading up to your event will have the greatest impact on its success. During this time, do your best to exercise all channels of communication to raise awareness. The goal is to get as many people to “show up” for your event as possible. Here are some tactics.

  • Create an official hashtag for your event. Get this squared away immediately and choose something that’s short and easy to remember. Try to keep hashtags to one word, and less than 15 characters.
  • Create a bank of posts (aka marketing messages) that you’ll have at your disposal during your event. Create 10 differnet social communications and rotate them throughout the week. This way, aren’t scrambling for content on the fly and can guarantee the language is consistent and thoughtful.
  • Post daily on Social Media to prepare your audience for the event. Try a post early in the day, and a post in the evening.  Do your best to cast a wide net, targeting different times that your network is most likely to engage with your content.
  • Engage users through interactive posts. Ask your network to RT (retweet) or share your post if they’re excited for the event. Engage them. This prompt will help drive awareness to the people they’re connected to—your second degree social connections. Each time your network shares one of your posts, you’re exposed to new group of potential customers.
  • Leverage email. Whether it be via your newsletter or a personal email to your contacts, email is a great tool for driving awareness. However, do keep in mind that email overload can easily turn off users. If you’re creating a week-long plan, try sending one email on Day 1 and another on Day 6 to space things out; and be sure to keep your communication fresh. Sending the same email twice in a week isn’t very fun for the recipient.

Marketing: During Your Event

During your event, it’s all about awesome event kick-off messaging early in the day, and then continuing to engage users throughout the whole period of the event.

  • “The Rule of 3 Hours.” Marketing consistently throughout the day is key. Provide updates and reminders of your event every 3 hours. Mix up your communications with inspiring images or videos.  And share on different platforms. For example, Facebook tends to provide a better click-thru and conversion rate when sharing a link with a compelling image in comparison to other social platforms.  Similarly, Pinterest can be useful for long term marketing since content is accessible for a longer window. On the other hand, twitter —although easy to use— tends to be a better place to provide updates and news, and less of a real-time traffic driver. A lot of the consumption is done on the platform in a flash— it comes and goes; so use Twitter to converse about your event with fans, or deliver reminder messaging.
  • Share Social Proof. If you receive comments from shoppers, share them with your network so others are tuning in to your event and shopping with you! A simple RT (retweet) can accomplish this.

Marketing: After The Event

  • Thank your network. Share a thank you to fans, friends and followers across social media for tuning in to your event and sharing it with their friends.
  • Share Social Proof that your event was a success! Try sharing content that sums up your event and shows your followers how it worked. Perhaps a photo of boxes you’re shipping to happy customers, a note about the bestseller of the day or an update on the status of the giveaway you’re running.

Marketing: For the Future

  • Be sure to take a step back and review the performance of the tactics you used during the event. This will help you optimize your time in the future.  That means spend more time doing the stuff that works, and less time doing the stuff that doesn’t.

Try employing these tactics for any events you have planned this week – especially for those participating in the #WinterBlowout. This is a great opportuntiy to put a marketing plan into action that helps drive awareness and sales.

#WinterBlowout. Don’t miss out.

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January 29th marks the start of OpenSky’s 2014 #WinterBlowout Sales Event. Use this three-day event as an opportunity to move through your seasonal merchandise. Or use it to give your followers a fun way to shop in January. The choice is yours.

The Details
When: Wed, January 29th – Fri, January 31st
Official Hashtag: #winterblowout
How to participate: Schedule a post to go live on Wed Jan 29th using #winterblowout and a discount off MSRP of 40% or more.

How to Participate + Merchandising Tips

Create a post using  #winterblowout

Post about any of the products you’d like to showcase in the sale and include #winterblowout in the comment section. This ensures that you’ll be included in the main hashtag page where most shoppers will trafficking the site. It also increases your chances of being included in emails promoting this sales event via are automated algorithm. Read more about hashtags here.

Start scheduling your #winterblowout posts today to increase your chances for additional exposure. Early bird gets the worm.

Offer a discount of 40%  or more off MSRP

We all know how end-of-season sales work — you buy the end of season goods (that trendy winter jacket you saw back in Oct) because the discounts are so good you can’t ignore them. During the #winterblowout, shoppers will have an eye out for value – so do your best to give it to them. Understandably, this kind of promotion may not apply to all merchants, but if you can swing it, take advantage of the opportunity to drive sales. (there will be more sales events to participate in soon) And remember — try discounting from the MSRP of your product, and not the current sale price. This will give you a little more wiggle room with pricing and margin, while still providing value to the shopper.

Merchant Success Tip: Can’t afford to discount all of your products (and inventory) at 40% off MSRP? No problem. Create a doorbuster so you can participate. Run a sale at 40% off or more and offer limited quantities at the sale price. This way, you can limit the losses and risk, while still ensuring participation, even if at a minimum.

Don’t worry about credits

During the #winterblowout, there won’t be any major credit event that coincides with the sale. Yes, there will be select shoppers who have previously unlocked credits or new members who join and receive credit, but by and large that’s a small subset of OpenSky members. That being said, don’t spend too much time factoring rewards credits into the equation.

Best of luck finishing January strong. And good luck during the #WinterBlowout event!

New & Improved Navigation

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Today, OpenSky launches a new header that gives users an improved way to navigate the site.

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Key upgrades include:

  • Browse is now the central exploration hub for all members
  • Single drop-down gives easy browsing functionality in list format
  • Browse gives more exposure to the wide breadth of shopping categories, along with new and improved icons for category recognition (which all users will begin to see throughout the site experience)
  • Quick access to trending products, stores, or hashtags.
  • Easy access to “Search” for the user looking for specific products or stores.

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new navigation on a desktop
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New navigation on mobile

The navigation also includes improvements for Merchant navigation. With this update, Merchants can access separate user and storefront specific drop-downs. The Storefront specific drop-down includes shortcuts to highly frequented sections of the Merchant Toolkit, along with badge alerts for dashboard notifications and orders.

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The changes to OpenSky’s navigation are the first of few site experience improvements we’ll be rolling out. Stay tuned for more exciting enhancements!

OpenSky, Your Mobile Selling Strategy

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Mobile & Tablet account for 60% of all OpenSky usage. With OpenSky’s Apps & Notification platform, you can engage and sell to the modern mobile shopper.

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More consumers are shopping on mobile devices than ever before, and specifically inside mobile apps optimized for browsing and buying.

As a business owner, we’ve heard you repeatedly describe a problem that bigger brands don’t face: Consumers don’t want to download millions of small brand apps, and they don’t want you to message them on Facebook or Twitter when it comes to products and sales.

This means you’re left without a way to “Push” notifications to engage followers on the device – where they are spending the majority of their time.

Now you can use OpenSky’s apps for iOS and Android to compete in a growing mobile shopping world.  The OpenSky app is your app, and gives you a turnkey mobile selling strategy.  If a follower downloads the app, you can directly engage with them via mobile. And luckily, mobile stats on OpenSky are stronger than industry norms:

  • 60% of OpenSky usage is mobile (vs. 20% – the industry norm)
  • OpenSky members that have downloaded the app are more likely to buy. And when they do, they spend more

In a previous post, we outlined the newly launched notification strategy for shoppers. In order to maximize the potential of these notifications, get to know how they work. Here are all the actions that trigger a push or email notification to a member:

  • Follow a member
  • Comment to a member
  • Mention a member in a post
  • Smile at a member’s post
  • You ship a customer’s order
New Sale Email Notification
Here’s an example of the email notification that’s send to shoppers that follow you when run a new sale

Here are all the actions that trigger a push or email notification to all your followers:

  • Put an item Back in Stock
  • Run a New Sale**
Push Notification New Sale Alert
When a shopper follows you, they receive push notifications alerting them of new sales.

*Important: Each member customizes their own notifications settings, so every member’s experience is unique. 

**New sale emails are sent to users leveraging a proprietary smart algorithm that delivers notifications in the most optimal way possible for each shopper. This helps to ensure the right amount of notifications reach each shopper on the daily.

Right now, 1000+ brands using OpenSky have over 200 members/followers that they can notify through the app. Starting today, use the OpenSky apps to grow your business.  Here’s what to do:

  1. Download the OpenSky App so you can understand how it works and use it more effectively
  2. Start responding to members in real-time from the app so you can capture them while browsing your store or products. The quicker the response time, the better!
  3. Tell your network to download the OpenSky Apps so they’re connected to you in a mobile world. And make sure they’re following you so they’ll be alerted of your new sales the moment they go live!

Meet your New Merchant Help Center

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Meet your new and improved Merchant Help Center.  Your one-stop shop for the help you need, whenever you need it.

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New Features:

Keyword search gives quick access to specific help content

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New help articles for easy troubleshooting

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New How-To articles that help unlock the full potential of your OpenSky

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There are a few ways you can access the new Merchant Help Center:

  1. Click on the Help Center icon in your Merchant Toolkit
  2. Navigate directly to http://www.opensky.com/merchant/help
  3. Click on the Help Center link found at the footer of all merchant email communications

If there are help articles you’d like to see added to the Help Center, please email merchantsuccess@opensky.com to share your ideas!

Jan- 25: Exclusively OpenSky

On January 25th, OpenSky will highlight products that are exclusive to our shopping community.

Exclusive products are incredibly value to the platform. Shoppers are excited to discover products that they can’t find anywhere else, in turn driving new follows, purchases, and repeat visits to your store.

Do you have exclusive items on OpenSky that you would like to ensure receive additional exposure on the 25th? To secure prime placement, include #exclusive on a product post scheduled for January 25th (no later than end of day, Jan 22nd). Remember–the product must be sold exclusively on OpenSky or it must be a bundle that is unique to OpenSky. Check out this blog post post to learn more about bundles, and how you can be sure they qualify as OpenSky exclusives.

Get started now by creating a new product or bundle that is exclusive to OpenSky

*If you need help scheduling your post, read here.

Merchandising Tip: Create Bundles

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“My product costs $10 and I find it very hard to make money with such low-priced products. Do you have any advice on how I can increase my profits?”

We do. In fact, the OpenSky Buying & Merchandising team has years of experience driving higher order value and sales from lower-priced products. The answer is very simple–bundle products together to sell your goods at a higher price point, thus increasing your profit dollars on every order. 

8 Reasons Why Bundling Works

1) Bundles increase your cart size

A bundle is a prepackaged way to upsell a customer, whether they’re buying multiples of the same item or a variety of related items. The more items in the bundle, the larger the cart size. That means more profit dollars for you.

2) Merchandising with the customer in mind

You’re the expert on your products and your fans respect that. Show your personal style and how your products could be used together. Match a pair of earrings to a necklace for a unique look or bundle two different supplements that can be used together. The possibilities are endless. When you do this, you’re helping the customer connect the dots through clever and tactful merchandising.

3) Offer more meaningful discounts

With an increase in the revenue, you will have more profit dollars per order. This will enable you to offer deeper discounts or free shipping.  It’ll also allow you to subsidize shipping so it’s not as costly for the shopper.

4) Gifting

Beautifully packaged baskets are an easy purchase for someone looking to send a gift.  Don’t leave it to the customers to create gift baskers on their own by purchasing products individually–think for them! Create unique bundles and baskets that help narrow in on the product that’s best for their gift recipient.

5) New Bundles = Fresh Merchandise = News to Post

Creating a new product is always newsworthy.  Adding new bundles to your assortment creates fresh merchandise for shoppers to engage with.  It also gives you more news to post your followers both on and off OpenSky.

6) Exclusivity

Exclusive product bundles are highly trafficked and shopped on OpenSky. Naturally, customers tend to gravitate to items they haven’t seen elsewhere.

Important: Even if the individual products within a bundle are sold elsewhere, your bundle may still be exclusive to OpenSky. Bundles that are only offered on OpenSky are defined as an exclusive product.

7) No listing fees

Finally, and most importantly, OpenSky doesn’t charge listing fees, so don’t worry about being charged an additional fee for creating new products. Try bundling your product a few different ways and see what works. If you see some are working and others aren’t, you should feel free to remove underperforming items.

Types of bundles

Gift Bundles

It’s important to look at your products through the eyes of the buyer and say “If I were shopping, what would be the most practical and cost effective way to buy the items I want?” In many cases, a gift basket is a great option. Not only do gift baskets allow you to include a variety of products in custom packaging, but the inclusion of a basket allows you to add extra dollars to the retail price without adding too much cost to you. Take JAVA & Co, for example.  Their “Coffee Lovers Artisan Gift Bundle” tells a story, and is an appealing and impressive way to showcase their goods.

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Pack Bundles

If you sell consumable products (items that can be purchased more than once) or lower priced items, bundling multiples of a single item together may be your best bet to drive more profit dollars per order. Buttermilk did this, taking a product that costs $13 and turning it into a two pack with a slight discount. By doing so, Buttermilk is guaranteed a higher checkout price, giving them the ability to offer the product with an additional 11% off, while charging a reduced shipping cost. In the end, this is a win-win for the shopper, and helps Buttermilk drive more profit per order.

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Starter Kits

If it’s a fit for you business, offering a starter kit can be a great way to drive new sales. Oliso created a starter kit in order to attract new customers who don’t currently vacuum seal their food. This is a 10-piece kit that includes everything the shopper needs. The starter kit is merchandising done right–thinking for the shopper and making it easy for them to buy with confidence.

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Curated Bundle

Assembling items by theme is another way to bundle your products. Moody Sisters Organic Skincare created a coffee-themed gift set, bundling beauty products with the same scent as a curated bundle.

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Variety Bundle

Show off all your flavors, scents and colors! If you have products with variations, put them together in a variety or sampler pack so customers can try out a few options and order their favorite next time around. Check out how The Crispery created a variety pack so that customers could try four of their most popular flavors. The variety pack is by far their most popular product.

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Now that you have a good understanding of how bundles work and why they are effective, try creating a few of your own. Include #bundle in your posts whenever you create a new bundle moving forward. These products will begin to show up in member- facing emails more regularly.

Good luck!

Help Us, Help You

Friends,

2013 was an exciting year for the OpenSky community. We accomplished so much together. In fact, many of our most significant features have been built from your input and feedback (merchant promotional tools, customizable products, product import, and more).

In 2014, we plan to keep up the collaboration and momentum we’ve created.

Let’s work together to make OpenSky the best place to sell and buy. Please take a minute to share your thoughts on the OpenSky experience in the survey below–all answers will remain anonymous. Your participation is incredibly important and will inform many of the decisions we make in the coming year.

Share your thoughts

Thank you for being a part of this great community. I wish you and your families a Happy New Year and joyous 2014!

John Caplan
Founder, CEO

New Feature: Schedule Your Posts

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Use the new scheduling feature to plan your promotional posts for the future. It’s your new handy helper, working in the background while you’re actively helping shoppers as they browse, love and comment on your products.

Here are a few ways you can start using the scheduling feature today:

Schedule your promotions for the month.  With the scheduling tool, plan out your promotions for the month.  This leaves more time for you to help customers who are following, loving and shopping your products on the daily.

Schedule thematic posts, by day.  Try posting thematic content by day.  This is a great tactic if you’re looking to get followers to habitually visit your shop on a weekly (or daily) basis.  For example, the scheduling tool makes it easy for you to kick off weekly promotions by day. Perhaps you’d like to kick of #30OFFThursday where you offer one select item for 30% off each Thurs. Or maybe you’re more interested in launching #FreeShippingFriday.  Whatever you choose, it’s helpful to use this new feature to schedule posts and get ahead of the game. Click here to get some additional ideas for your thematic posts, by day.

Schedule Posts to remind followers of sales ending soon.  Remind followers that a sale is ending soon. When you create a promotional post, try scheduling another post to go live when there’s an hour remaining on your sale to create last minute urgency.

Important: Given this is the beta version of the scheduling feature, you won’t be able to schedule posts to broadcast on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. So for now, remember to broadcast your posts separately so followers on other social networks are up to speed on all the happenings in your OpenSky shop.

Here’s how to schedule a post, in 4 easy steps:

1

Create a New Post & Add a Promo.

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2

Select a date for your post to go live.

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3

Choose the start time for your promotional post.

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4

Review your post, and schedule it!

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