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NAVUG is Coming Up! – Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Ecommerce, and Dynamicweb

Summit_2015_NAVUG_SUMMITEvery fall, NAVUG (the big conference for the Microsoft Dynamics NAV User Group) rolls into a city and builds a great learning environment for ERP users everywhere.  NAVUG 2015 is in Reno-Tahoe, Nevada, and Dynamicweb will be there to show the myriad benefits of integrating your Microsoft Dynamics NAV with ecommerce.  The dates are October 12th – 16thRegistration is open now!

NAVUG hosts keynotes, group discussions, roundtables, and more, all designed to give you a comprehensive education on Enterprise Resource Planning solutions.  Microsoft Dynamics NAV, a powerful ERP system from Microsoft, helps you manage your product inventory, prices, orders, supply chain, and more.  And if you sell products online or if you plan to in the future, then an ecommerce solution that seamlessly integrates with your NAV system is essential if you want to deliver the best experience for your customers.

Customers today want self-service, which means they want access to the product, pricing, and order info that’s in your ERP.  The data in your Microsoft Dynamics NAV solution is just as useful for online selling as it is for offline selling.  The first step, of course, is getting that information from your back-end systems to your website.  That’s where integration comes in.

Without an ecommerce solution that “talks” to your Microsoft Dynamics NAV, maintenance and updates for your website would be an arduous, time-consuming, manual process of data reentry.  Integration, on the other hand, instantly updates the data from your ERP to your ecommerce site in realtime.  Customers get the up-to-date product info they demand in order to make purchases online, and you save time, money, and administration.

Self-service means empowering the customer with the ability to learn about your products and place online orders themselves.  Imagine the loss of customer trust if your product data or inventory information is incorrectly displayed on your website when the customer places an order.  As soon as you realize the error, you contact the customer and tell them that they ordered the wrong product or that the item is out of stock.  Do you think the customer is more or less likely to make a second attempt at a purchase?

The ability to store and manage all your data from your Microsoft Dynamics NAV and have your ecommerce site reflect the most recent updates saves you from these situations.  ERP integration further enables customers to perform extensive product searches on your website with advanced filtering options, access their individual order history, and even see personalized discounts and catalogs.  Of course, an ecommerce solution with seamless integration and a rich feature set is also a part of the equation.

All the business logic from your ERP is carried over to your ecommerce site with integration as well.  These rules get very complex (regarding freight, quantity pricing, discounts, etc.,) so it’s best to let your Microsoft Dynamics NAV solution handle the business logic and have your ecommerce site reflect those rules on the frontend.

NAVUG 2015 looks to be a great learning experience for businesses to get the most out of their NAV solutions.  And to really get the most out of your ERP, use this powerful tool to optimize and grow your business online.  If you want to learn more, come say “Hi” to Dynamicweb at NAVUG.  We’ll be at Booth 640.  See you there!

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The Aftermath of Google’s MOBILEGEDDON (and the Future of Your Mobile Website)

mobile geddonAs we wrote about in a previous series of blog posts, Google recently updated their search algorithms.  Traditionally, when Google reforms its algorithms (such as with its Panda and Penguin updates), this radically affects the amount of traffic directed to certain websites.  The latest update to Google’s search rankings specifically targets mobile websites and was dubbed “Mobilegeddon” by onlookers.

Mobile Friendly?

To be more accurate, we should say that the update targets both mobile websites and non-mobile websites.  Google’s search engine now ranks whether or not your website is “mobile friendly,” and if it is not, your website does not show up immediately in searches done on mobile devices.  Mobile websites, those that display properly on mobile devices for an improved customer experience, rank higher.

Mobile websites are very important to Google because more online searches actually take place on mobile devices compared to desktop.  This means that if your website isn’t mobile friendly, you’re losing potential customers by the search term.  But on the whole, was “Mobilegeddon” the catastrophic event its name implies?

The Aftermath

The apocalyptic term looks to be a mixed result.  Research from seoClarity shows that some major sites such as OfficeDepot.com and RottenTomatoes.com lost traffic, but many other sites were unaffected.  Google reports that 4.7% more websites changed to become more mobile-friendly as a result of the update.  Given the amount of total websites in the world, that’s a decent amount.  Overall, many pundits claim, however, that Mobilegeddon wasn’t as significant as its moniker.

The Future

Pundits and bloggers claiming Mobilegeddon to be a minor blip aren’t seeing the forest for the trees.  As with Panda and Penguin before it, Google continuously finds new ways and creates new algorithms to improve its search engine.  And the recent Mobilegeddon update firmly establishes Google’s commitment to mobile websites.

The Mobilegeddon update punishes sites that aren’t “mobile-friendly,” but we at Dynamicweb expect Google to further refine their search algorithms in the future.  Soon it will no longer be enough to be “mobile-friendly.”  Your mobile website will have to be “mobile great” and deliver top-of-the-line user experience.

It’s logical to predict that Google’s future updates will choose the best mobile experiences to deliver to Google’s mobile users.  Google has no interest in delivering poor experiences to its searchers.

Today, the Future

If you have an ecommerce site already, the future is now.  While your search rankings may or may not be affected by Google’s latest update, your prospects still want the best customer experience on mobile devices.  And if they don’t get a great experience, Google is happy to show them many, many other mobile websites.

Beyond your search ranking, mobile optimization results in increased customer loyalty, lower bounce rates, greater engagement, and other benefits associated with improved customer experience.  You want to offer your complete brand experience to all customers, regardless of device.

In addition to responsive design that ensures your site is “mobile-friendly,” ensure your webshop loads quickly with coherent navigation and has important ecommerce features such as personalizationMany vendors neglect to offer features such as personalization on mobile, which results in lower conversion rates.  Depending on the specifics of your site, mobile-specific features such as touchscreen interaction, location tracking, one click calling/ordering, and more also enhance the customer experience.

There’s no exact prediction when the next Google algorithm update comes nor what it entails.  But one thing is certain: Google cares about mobile.  And so do your customers.  As the search engine continues to refine its algorithms, the importance of having a great mobile experience grows even larger and increasingly becomes the difference between a customer finding your website or the site of your competitors.

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Why Product Information Management is a Multichannel Marketer’s Best Friend

Product Info ManagementDo you ever wonder what it feels like to be a juggler at the circus?  First you have to keep three balls in the air.  Next, some clown (literally) throws you a bowling pin.  Before you know it, you’re juggling nine flaming pitchforks while balancing on the back of an elephant.  In the world of ecommerce, a Product Information Management solution (or PIM) does the juggling for you.

When you’re a one or two person marketing team trying to handle a multichannel ecommerce strategy, it might feel like juggling fiery pitchforks.  Small marketing teams are often expected to update multiple channels, including mobile, desktop, brochures, newsletters, print, etc., with great copy and rich imagery as fast as possible.  Those are a lot of balls to keep in the air.  Fortunately, Product Information Management makes marketing across multiple channels much easier.

Product Information Management empowers marketers to create and update their product information in a single system and then distribute that content to each different channel.  Reusing product data saves hours of manual input.  Product descriptions, product attributes (such as color, material, or feature sets,) high-resolution images, and even video are all aspects of product information that no longer have to be duplicated when you have a PIM system.

For marketing on your website, you want to have rich product descriptions that tell a story to your potential customer.  Your online visitors also want to see vivid images that paint a picture for who you are as a brand and how your products represent real solutions.  On the other hand, your logistics systems may only require the barebones physical characteristics of your products.  Product Information Management parses product information from a single source and distributes to the appropriate channels.

Multichannel marketers especially appreciate Product Information Management as an efficient way to share the most up-to-date product data between online and print.  That’s why Dynamicweb integrates with Perfion’s PIM solution.  Perfion even uses built-in plugins for InDesign, a standard for both desktop publishing and print layouts.  Whether you prefer brochures, leaflets, or newsletters, Perfion instantly provides your most up-to-date product info just as it does for your website.

Integration is already a cornerstone of successful ecommerce.  With integration between your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and your ecommerce solutions, you open up many avenues for customer self-service and a greatly improved customer experience.  Adding your Product Information Management to the integrated family further streamlines your business, saving even more time and money.

When using these systems, the objective for your business is to save time and money.  To make tasks easier and faster.  With Product Information Management together with ecommerce, your marketing team is no longer required to become expert jugglers.  And they won’t get the urge to run away and join the circus.

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The Tribe and Visual Content Marketing

The TribeThis past week, we have been covering the lessons that this year’s summer blockbusters have for your e-business.  But if you’re not the blockbuster type, there’s another really interesting film coming to theaters this week.  The Tribe is a highly-anticipated, award-winning Ukrainian film about criminal activity in a boarding school for the deaf.  While every character communicates through sign language (with no subtitles), the film speaks volumes.

This reworking of the idea of the “silent movie” continues to prove the value of images and the primacy of pictures.  Without words, The Tribe captures the imagination and the attention of its audience.  And that’s exactly the benefit that visual content marketing offers your website.

It’s been said before, but a picture is worth a thousand words.  A thousand words is a lot.  When you have an ecommerce website, your visitors don’t want to read through several thousand words to find out whether or not you understand their pain points and offer a solution.  Buyers doing research on the web are impatient, so use visual content marketing to immediately engage them.

Impatience and short attention spans are hardly your customers’ fault either.  On the web, we’re inundated with information.  We don’t always know which sites to visit and which content to read.  The wide-open web is complete overload.  Visual content marketing instantly conveys information to your potential customer, and this engages them as human beings rather than drones meant to absorb raw data. 

When you have the ability to immediately draw your customers in, visual content marketing keeps you a step ahead of your competitors.  And your website visitors appreciate this because visuals save them time and are simply more entertaining.  Walls of text block out potential customers.  The visuals you choose also establish and humanize your brand as a tangible partner in commerce instead of yet another cold, uncaring online vendor.

A captivating image even works to get people to read the text associated with it, which increases the value of your written content.  That’s why we include images with our blog posts after all.  Of course, your visual content marketing should be relevant and well-organized.  Posting scattershot pictures all around your site won’t prove to your potential customers that you understand their concerns.

For effective ecommerce, you want high-quality product images to accompany descriptions, articles, or posts about these respective products.  And product images are only one type of visual content.  The value of video content has skyrocketed in recent years due to increased broadband and mobile internet speeds.  “How To” videos and instructionals make great visual content marketing that informs and entertains, especially if you add a little humor.

Other ideas for visual content marketing include pictures that show your employees or offices or factories, accompanied by articles that establish who you are, what your brand stands for, and why you’re a trustworthy vendor.  Video testimonials are also a powerful tool to establish your company and prove how you solve customers’ problems.  For getting across raw information, infographics and data visualizations also make excellent content.

Those examples are some common ways successful businesses use visual content marketing.  But those aren’t your only options.  Get creative.  The filmmakers behind The Tribe certainly got creative when making a film entirely in sign language.  And if you want to engage your visitors and inform more potential customers about your company and solutions, then use the same powerful tool – a picture.

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Ant-Man and Mobile Ecommerce

Ant-ManEverything is shrinking.  Even Paul Rudd.  In the upcoming movie Ant-Man, Rudd plays the relatively unknown Marvel superhero with the ability to shrink himself down to size.  But the comedic actor isn’t the only thing getting smaller.  Technology is shrinking, and that drastically changes customer expectations for your e-business.

With the power to do complex computing and networking with merely the phone in your pocket, more and more customers are choosing mobile ecommerce as their preferred way of researching and buying products.   Nielsen reports that 79% of smartphone users in the US have used their phones for shopping-related activities.  And that number only gets larger as the user base grows and technology shrinks.

A strong mobile experience is so important that Google’s search engine punishes websites that aren’t “mobile-friendly.”  This means that if your website doesn’t perform well on mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones, your search ranking goes down.  A low search ranking makes it much harder for potential customers to find you.  Many customers find mobile ecommerce sites through organic search, so this simple decision by Google affects online sellers and their bottom line.

While the bottom line of Ant-Man is the fact that he gets smaller, that’s not his only superpower.  He also retains his normal-sized strength as he becomes insect-sized.  (Of course this is due to a tenuous scientific explanation from comic books.)  Regardless, this is an important lesson for your mobile ecommerce site.  Offer mobile customers the same power that you have in your normal-sized website!  Don’t make mobile users feel like lesser customers with a bare-bones, weak website.

Responsive website design is the best option for delivering your same great website experience to your visitors on mobile.  Responsive design scales down your website to fit on any screen size from desktop to tablets to smartphones while delivering the same content that your visitors have come to expect.  If you neglect to offer customers the full mobile ecommerce experience, you risk losing them to competitors who do.  That’s why Dynamicweb’s CMS delivers responsive design that works with powerful features like personalization.

One important advantage of responsive design is that it maintains your site’s navigation for a better customer experience.  Navigation, or how your visitors find content on your website, is an important part of how customers feel about your site.  If your guests are unable to find what they’re looking for, frustration sets in early.  They might leave and never return.  On the contrary, easy navigation means happier customers.

If Ant-Man follows the lead of other Marvel movies, the eponymous hero will take in a lot of money despite his physical size.  And the same is true of the best mobile ecommerce websites.  Your customers want a powerful mobile site with the same content, features, and coherent navigation as the desktop version.  Screen size doesn’t have to dictate your customer experience.  That’s why mobile is super.

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