Santa Monica Seafood was officially founded back in 1939 on the Santa Monica Pier. One or two things have changed over the years. They still offer the highest quality and selection of seafood to restaurants and customers at their two Southern California retail locations. However, now customers nationwide can experience their lobster tails, swordfish and more through their Dock Direct online store.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on people worldwide, affecting everything from their jobs and social lives to how they shop and where they eat. Overnight many of the restaurants the seafood brand company supplied were shuttered. At the same time, those restaurants’ former customers were missing the seafood dishes they formerly enjoyed. The direct-to-consumer business exploded as people decided to try cooking their favorites for themselves.
Fishing for the Right Fit
As Santa Monica started to investigate expanding their direct-to-consumer ecommerce business, they knew they needed to continue to prioritize their customers and give them the best possible experience. They also knew, as they were still figuring out how this new customer base was shopping, they would need a flexible site that would let them make changes quickly.
As Alfredo Chavez, Director of Ecommerce at Santa Monica Seafood, explains: “We had a deep relationship with our customers we wanted to continue. The amount of flexibility that was offered by the platform was key to us because we didn’t know exactly what our direct-to-consumer offering was going to look like. We had some broad strokes. But we didn’t know, for example, that it’s very important to customers that they be able to choose the shipping date. And we didn’t know if they would prefer to choose the species or have it pre-selected because buying fish was new to them.”
They considered Magento and Shopify Plus before settling on BigCommerce. Khai Vuong, Director of IT for Santa Monica Seafood, explains: “We wanted to get into a platform that would allow us to grow to thousands, and potentially millions, of transactions per month. So that’s why we started the journey, looking at multiple solutions out there. BigCommerce strikes the perfect middle ground between the large, complex solutions, such as Magento, and a smaller, more agile but restrictive solution, such as Shopify.”
Magento was quickly removed from the options because of the high development costs. “Magento would require more from the IT team to maintain. The security implications, the patching and some of the support on creating content on our web store, maintaining some of the marketing campaign, we considered all of that,” says Vuong.
Chavez explains why BigCommerce ultimately won out over Shopify: “Once we started really digging in and talking to our developers as well, BigCommerce became the easiest choice. It offered the most flexibility, both in terms of programmatically and how easy it was to make adjustments.” Chavez appreciates that his team can easily make adjustments to themes as needed.
A Site That Works for Everyone
The flexibility was incredibly important because it allowed Santa Monica Seafood to make a site that worked both for developers on the backend and the marketing team on the frontend.
“One of the advantages of BigCommerce that really stood out is the Page Builder widget,” says Vuong. “That allows our creative director to not only create the store, but also to maintain the content of the store without involvement from IT. That is absolutely crucial for us, as we go through the pandemic and approach the migration of our entire business over to a new ERP system. The IT team really needs to focus on the ERP side.”
Speaking from the marketing side Chavez adds: “I have all the freedom to do whatever I want to build this up. With a tool like BigCommerce, it’s easy. So, I never worry about, ‘How do I do that? How do I put a banner up? How do I end this promotion or start a promotion? How do I offer a buy-one-get-one-free [offer]?’ All that stuff is just built in. Once you’ve used it once, that’s it. You’ve learned it. It’s like a bicycle, you’re not going to forget how to do it.”
Santa Monica Seafood leverages headless commerce — that is using a separate frontend and BigCommerce for ecommerce on the backend — to provide even greater flexibility. Vuong explains: “The headless commerce aspect allows us to get a store up and running quickly, capitalize on the market that was out there and start broadcasting our presence out to our consumers. But it allows us the flexibility and the power to grow into something vastly larger than what we even had in mind when we started out.”
Giving Customers What They Want
Adaptability has been incredibly important as Santa Monica Seafood has explored new markets and new customer bases. Chavez has been able to experiment to explore ways to improve the conversion rate and give customers what they want.
“When I started running Google ads, I was getting a good amount of traffic, but I was getting very low conversions,” says Chavez. “I went in. I changed some verbiage. I added a first purchase coupon of 10%, all on my own, and my conversion rate went up. The customer needs a little bit of incentive to complete that purchase. We can do that.”
But not all customers were coming through Google Ads, so Chavez made sure to address all touchpoints to leave no customer behind. “We added the 10% to a banner on the landing page and as a coupon when you sign up for the newsletter. At every step of the way, it was easy to communicate to my customers, because BigCommerce has the tools. We also enjoy the seamless integration with Klaviyo to work the offer into our email flows. So every chance I get, we provide a possibility for a customer to know about that first 10% coupon.”
The company is also listening to its customers when it comes to feedback. Some didn’t like that they were using styrofoam packaging, so they shifted to curbside recyclable packaging. Another way they’re addressing their DTC customers’ needs is by adapting the fulfillment process to address all preferences. For example, when customers wanted a curbside pickup option from their two retail locations, they were able to add that easily. They’re also using ReCharge, which integrates with BigCommerce, to create a subscription plan so customers can set up recurring deliveries.
Teach a Man to (Cook) Fish
One more way Santa Monica Seafood supports their new customer base is by providing content in the form of recipes to help shoppers master cooking their favorite dishes and explore new ways to enjoy seafood.
“The BigCommerce blog allows us to very easily create and maintain recipes, which is very important to drive customer engagement and also purchases, by giving customers ideas on what they could make with our products. It was a must-have feature during our product selection phase, and we love the current implementation of it in BigCommerce,” says Vuong.
From the marketing side, Chavez enjoys how easy the process is: “I can throw recipes up there at a moment’s notice, or on a consistent basis, and not have to worry too much about how to build the content out and what I want it to look like.”
Never Stop Experimenting
While Santa Monica Seafood has now built a beautiful site with an exciting new customer base, they can’t rest on their laurels. Things are constantly changing, and so too must the site adapt to keep up.
“Since restaurants started opening back up at the end of February, what was working isn’t working anymore,” says Chavez. “My traffic started to dip. And my ad words budget had to be adjusted. It was a direct correlation from opening up, to losing traffic, to then having to adjust how I sell products. For example, I was selling more crab legs and lobster tails when restaurants were closed. Now that they’re open, I’m more focused on everyday items like wild-caught fish, salmon, wild-caught halibut, things you might prepare on a Tuesday night, instead of something that you miss from a Saturday evening dinner at your favorite restaurant.” Being able to pivot quickly to adapt to changing customer behavior has been an important piece of Santa Monica Seafood’s strategy.
Every business has their unique challenges. Santa Monica Seafood solved theirs by finding an ecommerce platform that supports their need for flexibility so they can continue to adapt as they explore new audiences. On BigCommerce, they can add new fulfillment methods, quickly spin up new content or promotions and not affect their backend development work.
Some of the challenges they experienced mirror the pain points of other enterprise businesses as they seek to adapt to a changing retail landscape. From paying too much for tech to overreliance on developers, you can explore some of the biggest challenges experienced by ecommerce businesses today — and how they’re solving them — in this data-driven report from Digital Commerce 360.
Is your business growth being constrained by these pain points? Get the full report here to find out.
This material does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, or other professional advice and is only for general informational purposes. Readers should consult a qualified professional to obtain advice for their own circumstances and supply chain.
On 1 July 2021, the 27 member states of the European Union (EU) will be making changes to value-added tax (VAT) obligations. The changes will affect businesses that sell goods from one EU country to another (known as distance selling) as well as businesses that sell goods which are imported from a non-EU country and delivered to an EU shopper. There are also changes to the rules for business to consumer services.
The changes aim to simplify tax filing for all merchants selling within and to the EU, as well as assist EU businesses in competing on equal footing with non-EU businesses who may not currently charge VAT. This article provides an overview of the changes coming for EU and non-EU merchants selling to shoppers in the EU.
1. Changes for Intra-EU Distance Selling
These changes are applicable to merchants with existing stock in the EU which are sold cross-border from one EU country to another (for example: selling goods located in France to a shopper in Germany). Specifically, the changes are in relation to:
- 1.1 Withdrawal of distance selling thresholds
- 1.2 Introduction of One Stop Shop (OSS) filing
- 1.3 Introduction of EU-wide threshold for micro-businesses
1.1 Withdrawal of distance selling thresholds
Until 30 June 2021, the EU distance selling thresholds are as follows:
- €100,000 per annum: Germany; the Netherlands; Luxembourg; Northern Ireland which is still in the EU VAT regime (£70,000)
- For other countries of the EU, it is €35,000 per annum or local currency equivalent
From 1 July 2021, the EU distance selling thresholds will be replaced by an EU-wide distance selling of threshold of €10,000. This means from 1 July 2021, merchants selling intra-EU cross-border, must charge VAT at the rate applicable in the shopper’s EU country of residence from the very first sale if their total cross-border sales across the EU exceed €10,000. Merchants will need to report these sales to the appropriate foreign tax authority unless exempt (see section 1.3).
To coincide and assist with the above change, the EU is introducing One Stop Shop (OSS) filing which provides a new way to file VAT returns for ecommerce merchants engaged in intra-EU cross-border sales (see section 1.2).
1.2 Introduction of One Stop Shop (OSS) filing
From 1 July 2021, merchants in the EU will be able to file a simplified EU VAT return, called the One Stop Shop (OSS), to assist with reporting their intra-EU cross-border sales to multiple EU countries. Merchants do not need to be registered for VAT in the EU countries that are included in their OSS filing, so long as those included are not their home EU country or an EU country where they have a physical location or hold inventory.
Merchants will be required to submit an electronic OSS filing using their domestic OSS portal on a quarterly basis, as well as keep a record of all reported sales for at least 10 years.
For the EU countries where the merchant has a physical location or holds inventory, such as in a warehouse, merchants may need to be VAT registered and file a domestic VAT return in each country.
OSS minimizes the overhead of registering for VAT in every EU country where intra-EU cross-border sales occur and simplifies the tax filing process by consolidating all relevant intra-EU sales to one OSS filing.
1.3 Introduction of EU-wide threshold for micro-businesses
Merchants with less than €10,000 per annum in intra-EU cross-border sales of B2C goods and services will be exempt from the obligation of completing an OSS return. Instead, eligible merchants will be allowed to charge their domestic VAT rate and report the sales below this threshold within their domestic VAT return.
2. Changes for Non-EU Merchants Exporting Goods to Shoppers in the EU
These changes are applicable to non-EU merchants that are selling cross-border from a non-EU country to an EU country (for example: selling goods from Australia to a shopper in Italy). Specifically the changes are in relation to:
- 2.1 Withdrawal of VAT exemption threshold for low-value consignment imports
- 2.2 New €150 VAT cap for imports to use new simplified filing
- 2.3 Import One Stop Shop (IOSS) filing
2.1 Withdrawal of VAT exemption threshold for low-value consignment imports
From 1 July 2021, the current VAT exemption for goods in low-value consignments (up to the value of €22) imported for delivery to shoppers in the EU, will be withdrawn. This means, merchants currently taking advantage of this existing VAT exemption will need to understand and prepare for any new schemes that are applicable from 1 July 2021 (see section 2.2).
2.2 New €150 VAT cap for imports to use new simplified filing
From 1 July 2021, VAT on importing goods into the EU can be paid under an optional simplified regime where the goods are part of a consignment of an intrinsic value not exceeding €150 and the goods are imported from non-EU countries for delivery to shoppers in EU countries.
The €150 intrinsic value is essentially the price of the goods excluding VAT, transport and insurance costs if separately itemized, and any other taxes or charges. If the intrinsic value of the goods in the consignment is €150 or less, merchants will still be required to collect VAT on separately itemized transport/insurance costs. For example:
Price of the goods as indicated in the invoice: €140
Transport charges as indicated in the invoice: €20
VAT (20%) as indicated in the invoice: €32
Total invoice amount: €192
Merchants with consignments meeting the above criteria can choose from one of the following approaches:
- 2.2.1 Collect the equivalent import VAT at point-of-sale and report and pay the VAT collected to the EU on a monthly basis through the IOSS filing
- 2.2.2 Merchant pays the import VAT or DDP (Delivery Duty Paid)
- 2.2.3 Shopper pays the import VAT or DDU (Delivery Duty Unpaid)
2.2.1 Collect the equivalent import VAT at point-of-sale and report the VAT collected to the EU on a monthly basis
To assist ecommerce merchants that choose to take this approach, the EU is introducing the Import On Stop Shop (IOSS) filing, a new way to file VAT returns for ecommerce merchants engaged in cross-border sales from non-EU countries to EU countries (see section 2.3).
2.2.2 Merchant pays the import VAT or DDP (Delivery Duty Paid)
Merchants that opt to pay the import VAT at the time of import, which is also known as DDP (Delivery Duty Paid), can work with their shipping provider to have the shipping carrier bill for the import VAT on a per shipment basis.
This approach streamlines the sales process and minimizes unexpected costs on the shopper, which can result in negative feedback and returns. BigCommerce is partnered with a number of cross-border solutions which can offer this service, including; Global-E and Zonos.
2.2.3 Shopper pays the import VAT or DDU (Delivery Duty Unpaid)
Merchants can also opt for the shopper to pay the import VAT at the time of import, which is also known as DDU (Delivery Duty Unpaid). In this scenario, the import VAT may be first paid by the shipping carrier or customs agent on behalf of the shopper, in addition to any customs brokerage fees. They will then bill the shopper and release the goods once paid.
If the shopper refuses to pay the bill, then the goods may be returned to the merchant who may then be obligated to pay any import costs and return shipping fees.
Separately, if a merchant is using an OMP (Online Marketplace) or platform, then the OMP or platform will be liable for VAT on those sales. BigCommerce is not a facilitating OMP or platform.
Note: Import VAT as well as import duties will continue to apply, as they do today, to all consignments imported to EU countries above the €150 threshold.
2.3 Import One Stop Shop (IOSS) filing
From 1 July 2021, merchants that choose to collect VAT at the point-of-sale for all consignments not exceeding €150 being imported from non-EU countries to shoppers in EU countries, will be able to file a EU VAT return, through the Import One Stop Shop (IOSS). Merchants only need to register for IOSS in one EU state and they will be issued a unique IOSS identification number which should be listed on all packages sent to EU countries. This will indicate to customs authorities that VAT is being properly declared and help ensure speedy customs clearance.
Unlike the OSS, IOSS will be a monthly filing submitted to a tax authority in one nominated EU country and it will declare import VAT due in all EU countries. It will be particularly useful where the merchant’s shoppers are located in other EU countries and the merchant wants to take care of the import VAT on behalf of the shopper.
Finally, IOSS is not compulsory for consignments of an intrinsic value not exceeding €150. Merchants can instead work with their shipping carrier to pay the import VAT on their behalf before being billed for it by the shipping carrier or alternatively, pass the import VAT onto shoppers to pay (see sections 2.2.2 and 2.2.3).
Note: Non-EU merchants, including from the UK, may need to appoint a VAT Intermediary to act as their agent in a similar way to a Fiscal Representative to support their EU VAT registration under the IOSS (learn more here).
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How can I register for OSS / IOSS?
Each EU country will have a domestic online OSS portal where you can register. This single registration will be valid for all sales to consumers in other EU member states where merchants don’t have a physical location or stock inventory. However, non-EU merchants wanting to register for IOSS in the majority of cases will likely need to apply for IOSS registration through an intermediary.
2. In which EU country should I register for OSS / IOSS?
For OSS registration, EU merchants must register in the EU country in which they are established and non-EU merchants should register in the EU country they hold stock. If there are multiple locations, then the merchant may choose the EU country where they want to register. For IOSS registration non-EU merchants are free to determine which country to register but are likely required to appoint an intermediary.
3. What’s the benefit of registering for OSS as an EU merchant?
Using OSS will simplify the filing process and save merchants time and compliance costs in from registering for VAT in multiple EU countries where they sell to shoppers.
4. Does the €150 import VAT threshold include or exclude tax?
The €150 threshold is exclusive of tax and includes the value of the consignment of goods being shipped. You can also exclude separately itemized shipping and transport costs from this threshold, but you must remember to add VAT on these amounts.
5. I’m still not sure how the upcoming EU VAT changes will impact my business. Where can I go for more information?
If you’re unsure how these changes will impact your business and the changes you need to make to support them, consider contacting a tax consultant or lawyer for more information.
6. Is BigCommerce a marketplace or facilitator?
BigCommerce is not a facilitating OMP / platform.
7. How is Bigcommerce supporting sales tax calculations involving Northern Ireland?
In partnership with Avalara, when AvaTax is the enabled tax provider, BigCommerce will be sending a country code of “XI” when requesting tax quotes involving Northern Ireland to ensure the most accurate sales tax quotes are returned by AvaTax.
8. Are there solutions available on BigCommerce that can assist with addressing these changes?
Avalara AvaTax can assist with VAT registration, collecting the equivalent import VAT at point-of-sale and reporting VAT returns.
Global-E and Zonos can assist with import VAT collection (DDP). Finally, ShipStation can assist with international shipments, commercial invoices and customs declarations.
9. What if I have Manual Tax enabled on BigCommerce?
If Manual Tax is enabled, you will not be able to collect the equivalent import VAT at point-of-sale based on the consignment not exceeding €150. Instead consider DDP (section 2.2.2) or DDU (section 2.2.3).
10. How do I customize my BigCommerce invoices?
There are four editable invoices in BigCommerce, including; email invoice, merchant printable invoice, shopper printable invoice and detailed customer printable invoice. Find out more about how to customize them here.
- European Commission: Modernising VAT for cross-border e-commerce
- European Commission: All you need to know about the One-Stop Shop (OSS)
- European Commission: All you need to know about the Import One-Stop Shop (IOSS)
- EU July 2021 ecommerce VAT Package
- 2021 Guide: ecommerce EU VAT reboot
- Understanding the UK Value-Add Tax: How to Prepare for Brexit as an Ecommerce Business
This material does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, or other professional advice and is only for general informational purposes. Readers should consult a qualified professional to obtain advice for their own circumstances and supply chain.
Data, analytics and business intelligence are common topics in the business world. Businesses across sectors, including ecommerce, are investing heavily in new technologies around data collecting and use of data.
That’s because data-driven decision making is more important than ever for ecommerce businesses as they seek to understand their audience, make tactical business decisions, and stay ahead of competitors.
However, while most businesses are well aware of the importance of leveraging data for the business insights it can provide, many struggle with best practices around using data to inform business outcomes.
In this post, we’re sharing some of the challenges ecommerce businesses face with data, how the right combination of strategies and technology solutions can help provide much-needed insights, and examples of ways BigCommerce merchants are using data solutions and insights to drive their business forward.
The Challenge: Too Much Data, Not Enough Insights
According to a report by Forrester called “Data Literacy Matters,” 90% of global data and analytics decision makers are focusing on prioritizing data insights in business decision making. The same report indicates that 91% of organizations report that they struggle with improving their use of data for business insights.
Businesses are more eager than ever to make investments in data and recognize its importance. Yet, many still struggle to turn their data into insights — and these insights into actions.
In fact, a Forrester states that between 60% and 73% of all data within corporations goes unused. Additionally, data from Statista identifies that 25% of companies are struggling with too much data.
This is where technology solutions can help you build a data-driven business.
Technology Solutions That Can Help You Make Data-Driven Decisions
Utilizing the right combination of data solutions is one way merchants can generate insights that allow them to make data-driven decisions and create customer experiences that help their businesses grow.
1. Data warehouses.
A data warehouse is a central repository or data catalog of integrated data, usually from multiple sources. A strong data warehousing architecture can provide a business with valuable data points.
It isn’t just huge enterprises that can use data warehouses to gather information that is relevant to their businesses. Data warehouse tools can work with businesses of all sizes. While the term “warehouse” brings to mind a physical place, many tools are available on the cloud, making them ideal to scale to the size you need.
Google BigQuery is a great example of a data warehouse that BigCommerce has built a native integration with for merchants on Pro and Enterprise plans.
Google BigQuery works in conjunction with Google Cloud Storage. It’s a fully managed data warehouse on RESTful web service that offers a scalable and cost-effective place to store your data. They also have a generous freemium tier and an easy-to-use UI which makes the tool accessible to a broader group of users.
2. Business intelligence solutions.
Data warehousing is a part of business intelligence. So what’s the difference between a data warehouse and a business intelligence solution? Essentially, data warehouses are tools that help you store the data while business intelligence solutions help you to analyze the data in concrete ways to support data-driven decision making and forecasting.
These tools can help you take the abundance of data you have and view it in dashboards that make sense to your various teams. Here are a few examples of these tools:
Google Data Studio is a data visualization tool that provides your team with some powerful ways of looking at your data. It has the advantage of being free and tightly integrated with Google BigQuery. Additionally, BigCommerce merchants can take advantage of pre-built reports to get started with Google Data Studio.
Tableau describes itself as a data visualization software with the goal of helping anyone to understand their data.
- Microsoft Power BI is an industry leader in the business intelligence solutions field. Run by Microsoft, the solution provides interactive data visualizations with easy-to-understand dashboards.
3. Customer data platforms.
Today’s customers seldom just visit one store, make a purchase, and go about their life. They research and shop across multiple sites and platforms before making a decision. Tracking that omnichannel customer journey is where customer data platforms come in.
Customer data platforms, or CDPs, collect data to build customer profiles that can help inform marketing efforts. They work by capturing information as customers move across each touchpoint and aggregate the data so that it can be used by other business intelligence systems.
CDPs can help your business avoid data silos by making sure your teams know who your customers are, how they shop, and what makes them tick. The better you know your customers and their needs, the better you can market to them and solve their issues.
Segment is an example of a CDP that integrates with other business intelligence tools, as well as the BigCommerce platform, and allows you to unify your view of your customers across all products and channels.
Personalization solutions enable businesses to transition from a one-to-many customer marketing strategy to a one-to-one approach. With personalization solutions, you can deliver custom experiences for each shopper through dynamic content, product recommendations, discounts and offers and so much more. Here are some examples of personalization solutions in the BigCommerce partner ecosystem:
Understanding how your customers behave online can give you powerful insights into what’s working and what’s not on your ecommerce site. At its most basic, analytics refers to systematic computational analysis of data, which can be used to measure metrics across web, marketing, search and sales.
Here are some examples of analytics solutions in the BigCommerce partner ecosystem:
BigCommerce Provides an Open Platform for Data
The above types of data solutions have something in common: they rely on each other to work. Business intelligence isn’t something accomplished by one tool, but by a system working together to gather, store, and analyze data into actionable insights. Data-sharing between systems is an important part of this.
The key to taking advantage of the power of data is communication. That is to say: communication between data tools. There is no point in gathering and storing data if you can’t analyze it. And there’s no point in having it analyzed if it’s not viewable in a way that is meaningful for your teams.
That’s why at BigCommerce, we embrace a philosophy of openness, so that you have control over your data and can use the solutions that will have the biggest impact on your business — we like to call this our Big Open Data Solutions.
Big Open Data Solutions is a full product suite featuring both native and best-of-breed partner data solutions that give merchants the ability to aggregate, analyze, understand and use online store data to gain insight into customer behavior to enhance decision-making and improve business performance.
How BigCommerce Customers are Making Data-Driven Decisions
Here are some examples of how BigCommerce merchants are leveraging our Big Open Data Solutions to generate insights and make decisions.
Origin, an apparel and nutrition brand that handcrafts its products in the mountains of Maine, has been optimizing their tech stack to keep up with channel growth. Specifically, the company has leveraged the BigQuery integration and pre-built Data Studio reports to harmonize consumer data from multiple sources as part of their overarching omnichannel strategy.
“BigCommerce’s BigQuery integration allowed us to provide clean, actionable data while avoiding (error prone) manual reporting in order to make better decisions for the business. It’s been key in unifying our data and providing the insights required to make the right investments,” Sid Martin, Systems Analyst at Origin.
For Garrett Wade, a premier provider of fine woodworking tools and hand tools for the garden, the BigCommerce integration with BigQuery has been “game changing” for the company’s analysts.
This integration with BigQuery allowed the business to start looking at actual, accurate data from day one. The company reported spending very little time cleaning and normalizing the data. Plus, they were able to utilize the data to verify the accuracy of the testing environment prior to our launch. This also allowed the company to develop vetted reports right away; thus, creating the space that the development team truly needs to do the more difficult report work.
Being able to analyze how shoppers perform and behave, then churn out detailed reports in Tableau from a single location is not only efficient for the company’s two-person development team, but cost effective.
“When we were evaluating the move to BigCommerce as our platform provider, the integration with Google BigQuery was not high on the decision tree, but after using it for several months now, I can honestly say that this feature confirmed that we made the right choice with BigCommerce. I highly recommend,” stated John Chan, Inventory Planning and Business Intelligence Analyst, Garrett Wade Company.
Fore Ladies Golf
Fore Ladies Golf, a woman-owned business committed to providing women golfers with high-quality golf clothes, launched successfully on BigCommerce in 2018. However, owner Jessica Benzing quickly realized that she needed a solution for reporting and analytics to build a more data-driven strategy for her business.
Turning to Glew, Jessica was able to get a handle on what was working, what wasn’t, and what she needed to do to continue to scale. With Glew, she has a view of her top KPIs to analyze Facebook and Google Ads campaigns; a report on inventory to help manage budgeting and ensure consistent stock levels; and customer segmentation data to run targeted campaigns to her VIP customers, discount shoppers and more.
We know that data has power. As consumers demand more personalized experiences from ecommerce, shop in more omnichannel ways, and generally turn to ecommerce more and more for their purchases, the need to collect and understand data is only growing.
Having an ecommerce platform that supports your data-driven strategy is going to be crucial. At BigCommerce, we believe open SaaS is the future — and data is an important part of that. Being able to choose the data solutions from warehousing to analytics that best support your business intelligence goals and having them able to easily communicate with each other will make all the difference in honing a streamlined data strategy.
Effective decision making starts with data. However, before you can start making decisions, you need the right technology solutions in place to translate raw data into actionable insights.
With that in mind, BigCommerce is excited to share more details about how merchants can take advantage of our partnership with Google and their robust data solutions, including Analytics, BigQuery and Data Studio.
While you might already use Google Analytics for measuring website traffic, product sales, conversion rates, and so much more, you may not be familiar with Google’s advanced data offerings and how they work with the BigCommerce platform.
To help explain, we’ve brought in some of our internal experts, Derrek Pearson, Senior Manager, Product Management, and Mindy Regnell, Market Insights Manager, to answer some questions.
First off, what is Google BigQuery and Google Data Studio?
Google BigQuery is an analytical data warehouse that enables you to bring together all your data from various sources. Once you have your data in one place, you can leverage structured query language (SQL) and artificial intelligence (AI) to ask analytical questions and visualize your data so that you can make strategic business decisions.
Google’s Data Studio is a free visualization tool that you can use to build and customize reports that are easy to share with your team.
So what is the advantage of the pre-built Google BigQuery integration with the BigCommerce platform?
While merchants with no developer skills could always sign up for a free Google BigQuery account, the difficult part has always been moving their data. There’s a lot of development work that must take place, either building the connection yourself or going through third-party tools.
Exactly, it’s not as easy as exporting and importing using a CSV file because there’s only so much data that you can export cleanly into a CSV file. Instead, you’re using APIs, and you probably need to involve a developer, which makes the process more resource-intensive.
With the pre-built integration, we’ve done the work for you to get your BigCommerce data into the data warehouse. Now, you can go into your control panel, follow a series of very simple steps that don’t require any development skills, and at the end, you’ll have your data represented in Google BigQuery.
This enables you to leverage the full power of Google BigQuery on your BigCommerce store data — without taking on a big development project.
Not only is the integration good for merchants, it’s also good for developers because they can spend their time doing other things that will have a bigger impact on the business. For instance, they can create custom reports and scripting, find unique ways to slice and dice your data, or visualize data in new ways using business intelligence tools.
One of the things that BigCommerce has done really well is we’ve been investing in sample scripting and reporting, so all you need to do is change the variables and networks for your store. So we’re solving a lot of those most common use cases already.
How can merchants get started using the pre-built Google Data Studio reports?
So far, we’ve published three Google Data Studio reports: product revenue by category, cost of goods sold, and revenue by city. They’re a great solution for getting started using Google Data Studio with Google BigQuery. You can find them here in our Knowledge Base.
What’s particularly cool about the reports is that there’s a set-up instruction section showing how merchants can copy them, and once they do, it’s their report that they own. Then, they can follow a series of steps to swap out the sample data with their data. Now they have full control over the data and the reports.
Using these sample reports is a great first step in taking your BigCommerce data and leveraging it in a business intelligence tool, like Google Data Studio, to gain insights that can help drive your business. And once you have these first reports, you can build out your own reports to suit your particular needs.
How does BigCommerce’s open approach to data benefit merchants?
Our strategy across the board, data included, is to really maintain an open platform — what we like to refer to as Open SaaS. Merchants can use the best tools that meet their needs, and we aim to reduce any friction and make that process as easy and smooth as possible. And that’s the approach we’re bringing with our data solutions, which we’re calling Big Open Data. We believe this is a unique approach that nobody else is really doing.
To elaborate on what Derek said, generally, with other ecommerce platforms, it’s possible to take your data externally, but they don’t make it easy. For instance, some have very strict API terms of service that restrict where you can take your data. While others prefer that you use their intelligence tools, which may seem like a good solution at first, but you may find that you eventually want to build a custom report that isn’t supported. Many larger organizations often use more than one analytics or reporting tool, so being able to easily move your data into another system can make it easier.
The BigCommerce difference is that we give you control over your data, so you can get very granular with the types of insights you’re generating. You can also use the solutions that you’re most comfortable with and can provide the biggest impact on your business.
For example, your BigCommerce data can be passed through your instance of Google BigQuery, and then you can use your instance of Segment.com to start identifying your customers and building out their journey. And you own the data every step of the way.
Connect Your Data to Google BigQuery Today
For merchants already on the BigCommerce platform, you can get started with Google BigQuery right now by following these simple setup instructions. One thing to note is that this integration is only available for merchants on Pro or Enterprise plans. For merchants on Standard or Plus, you’ll need to upgrade to access Google BigQuery.
Additionally, you can explore all of our data technology partners to learn more about additional solutions for business intelligence, customer data platforms, personalization and more.
Within the B2B market, there are several metrics you can measure, analyze and compare. If you don’t want to get drowned in the sea of numbers and graphs, you have to know where and what to look for. Understanding which metrics to prioritize can help you refine your approach and increase your likelihood of converting customers and driving growth.
With that in mind, here are a few metrics we recommend tracking in order to make informed business decisions.
B2B Ecommerce Metrics
1. B2B Lead-to-Close Conversion Rate (CVR).
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is the process of improving the shopping experience to drive a specific KPI — usually, sales. This is the best rate to see how successful your marketing tactics are as it measures the percentage of website visitors that convert to buyers.
A healthy conversion rate means you have a highly engaged customer base, and it is a sign of growth and success. If it is low, look to user-journey mapping to see where you’re losing site visitors.
Because B2B sales cycles often take longer to close than B2C sales, calculating your conversion rates and assessing the performance of marketing campaigns is even more crucial. That’s why it is important to keep an eye on these numbers throughout the entire year rather than a month-to-month basis.
2. B2B Initial Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC).
Acquisition metrics are focused on how effective your website and other marketing efforts are at driving people to visit your site. More than just generic traffic volume, acquisition metrics can help you dig into who’s visiting and where they came from — so you can better contextualize traffic numbers.
The customer acquisition cost (CAC) measures how much your company spends to acquire a new customer by looking at your marketing spend and how it breaks down per customer. This helps determine your brand’s total ROI for marketing and advertising. Having an active awareness of your CAC can help prioritize campaigns within your budget.
For some B2B businesses, it’s the only metric that shows how good (or bad) their performance and efficiency is. For others, it’s a clear indicator something is not done right. But these numbers can help you detect where you need to make some changes (program, campaign, initiative, channel, approach) and as a result it clearly highlights the positive and negative effects of those changes.
Marketing percentage of customer acquisition cost
This one is a mouthful and is a bit technical. However, it’s a very telling metric that shows how well your marketing team’s performance and spending is.
Essentially, the marketing percentage of your CAC indicates how much money marketing spends within a time period and how many new customers it generates. It gives you insight into how well your marketing program is functioning and can be used to make better sales and marketing decisions.
Marketing originated customers
The marketing originated customers metric gives you the chance to have a clear insight into how much your customer percentage has been gained through marketing. You might have invested in tools and techniques and therefore, you should expect your audience to grow consequently.
Understanding this metric and it’s calculation helps identify how many individuals found out about your business and helps you know exactly what to do next and how to do it better. This metric plays a role in helping your company grow and acquire new business.
3. Churn rate for B2B ecommerce.
The churn rate is a brutally honest metric that relates whether or not you have a viable business. Churn rate is a business metric that calculates the number of customers who leave a product over a given period of time, divided by total remaining customers.
This helps you determine the stage at which you are losing your customers and from there you can develop a strategy to improve the interaction with your product or service. Knowing the churn rate is important because it can be much easier and cheaper to have more returning customers than trying to attract new ones.
B2B Ecommerce Metrics Key Takeaway
If you are committed to improving your sales approach, you need to be tracking the right metrics. It is impossible to make an effective, informed decision without having the right metrics to guide you.
By tracking the above metrics, you can identify areas where you need to make changes and improve your overall sales approach. Depending on your business and your needs, there are several other metrics that can be measured, calculated, compared and changed to help improve your business.
For more information about B2B ecommerce, Imagination Media has prepared an information-brimming ebook for B2B merchants. You’ll learn more about metrics and the trends affecting them.