Startup Yumm Street Engages Xcelacore to build new marketplace that connects home chefs and small food businesses to buyers in online marketplace built on Magento platform.
Yumm Street is a start-up founded by Gowri Shetty and Shareh Ghani. The two concepted and envisioned a marketplace for the cottage chefs industry, where home chefs and smaller food businesses can promote and sell their products online.
As part of this vision, Ms. Shetty and Mr. Ghani needed a technology solution that would effectively create the marketplace. The founders engaged Xcelacore to help architect the solution.
After an intensive deep dive into the business requirements and user expectations with key stakeholders, Xcelacore proposed a solution based on Magento platform which included a third party plugin that would allow vendors to self manage and market products on the site as well vendor store information and payments within a secure admin panel.
Figure A shows the vision of the Yumm Street marketplace leveraging Magento.
Figure B is another view of the various users within the magento Marketplace.
At its core, Xcelacore’s primary goal is to strategically solve business and marketing challenges with technology solutions. To achieve that, Xcelacore executives invest intensive time into clearly defining problems, expectations, and outcomes with key stakeholders.
After a thorough exploration into user data, stakeholder input, and business requirements, the following feature requirements were created:
Xcelacore worked with the Yumm street team to design, implement and test a fully functional marketplace
As a small business, you have enough challenges keeping your head above water and focusing on how to grow. Navigating the digital world can be complex if you don’t understand the various channels and what you should focus on to get the most bang for your buck. Even if you do understand the technologies, how do you find enough time in the day to do it all? In this paper we will give you a concise list of things you can easily do to boost your business by leveraging the power of digital with web, social, and mobile.
According to the Boston Consulting Group, businesses that make use of the web expect to grow 40% faster than those that don’t. And according to Google, 97% of consumers go online to look for local products, yet only 37% of US small businesses have an online presence. Increasingly, the web is important, but so is making use of social media and mobile technology to engage with your potential customers.
If digital technologies like web, social media and mobile are so important, then why don’t all small businesses make use of them? There are several reasons that include perceived cost associated with doing it, not having enough time, or believing that it’s just too complicated. Lucky for you, there is plenty of help to address the complexities of digital while also managing your time challenges. There are marketing services companies that cater to small business needs. It’s also less expensive than you think, especially if you can pay for it with the increased sales that you can enjoy.
So let’s get to it – here are our top tips for digital success.
Since consumers are going online to search for businesses, unless you have a website you will not be found! Consumers will go to your competitors if they are easier to find. A couple of other things to consider are optimizing your site for relevant keywords that consumers may be searching on and making sure you have a responsive design. By having the right information and content on your website, you will help your company be found when consumers are searching.
A responsive design simply means that your site is optimized for viewing and interaction across different types of devices (computer, tablet, mobile). The site will be easy to navigate, read, and interact with, taking into account the different screen sizes that your web site can be accessed from. Also consider the user experience. They want to be able to access the information in as few clicks as possible. So, put yourself in the user’s shoes when designing your website – easy to navigate equals better engagement for you. Clunky or disorganized websites will result in potentially lost sales opportunities or your user exiting the site.
Getting your business listed on Google is another important step to getting found online. Google My Business helps you get listed on Google and also provides key information such as business overview, hours of operation, phone number, and address. For users using their mobile, they can use Maps to get directions and click to call. Consumers can also leave ratings and reviews of your business.
These days, advertising online has also become important to drive new customers to your business. It’s fairly easy to set up an advertising CPC campaign on Google. With Google Adwords, you can specify whether you want your ad to be local and what specifically you want to advertise. Google provides tools to help you decide which keywords to advertise, setting up budgets, and managing the whole campaign. And the good part is that you only pay if someone clicks on your ad. There can be potentially many more people that see your ad and read it, but you don’t pay unless they click. It’s important to track how much business is resulting from your advertising budget and make regular adjustments as needed to get the most out of it.
The top social media platforms you should consider are Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Youtube, and Pinterest. You don’t have to be on all of the social media channels, but the ones that make the most sense for your audience. It gives you an opportunity to build loyalty with your customers and connect with them outside of your normal business interaction. It also provides an avenue for you to then share what’s new with your business, advertise specials, and foster a loyal customer base that will keep coming back.
We already talked about a responsive design that helps you interact with customers that are on different devices such as tablets. That will also help you for customers using mobile. Increasingly, consumers are using their phones to make purchases, search for local businesses, and using click to contact the businesses directly.
People are also spending more and more time on their mobile compared to other devices. Their mobile is always within reach. If it makes sense for your business, you should also consider mobile advertising, such as SMS, MMS, or banner.
Now that you are online, advertising, and getting found by your customers, you need to understand if the money you are spending is giving you a return on your investment. Analytics will help you track and review data that is relevant to your business. Best of all, Google Analytics is free! You can track every click, measure every dollar, and get insights on the type of device that your customers are connecting with (mobile vs. desktop). And by looking at how many conversions you have, the dollars of business that translated into, and how much you spent on advertising, you can tie it all together to ensure it is paying back. You can also tell if your activities on social media are driving traffic to your website.
Now you have the 6 top tips for succeeding in the digital world. Perhaps you were already doing some but not all, now is a chance to dive into the rest of the digital initiatives. Some of these tips are free to implement (Google My Business for example), so it won’t cost you a cent. It will take an investment in time, but increasingly digital is the way to reach your target customers. And if you can’t do it all yourself, there is plenty of help out there without breaking the bank.
UCLA Extension Engages Xcelacore to Improve Site Enrollment Through Search Revamp and Site Optimization
UCLA has one of higher education’s elite brands. For nearly a century, the school has produced some of business’ elite, science’s laureates, music and film’s innovators, and sports elite. The UCLA Extension is the university’s global continuing education arm, and the path for thousands of students to start or explore new careers in some of the most intriguing and high-growth fields.
As UCLA Extension grows, so too does the demand for its online presence. Two areas where they knew they needed focused solutions were in online enrollment conversions and search. To truly grow and improve its online experience, UCLA Extension sought the expertise, strategic planning, and implementation of both crucial projects from Xcelacore.
After an intensive deep dive into the business requirements and user expectations with key stakeholders, Xcelacore proposed a highly reliable, scalable and fault-tolerant search solution utilizing Solr/Apache Lucene. This cloud-based system provides distributed indexing, replication and load-balanced querying, automated failover, and recovery.
At its core, Xcelacore’s primary goal is to strategically solve business and marketing challenges with technology solutions. To achieve that, Xcelacore executives invest intensive time into clearly defining problems, expectations, and outcomes with key stakeholders. In addition, Xcelacore delves into analytics and consumer information to fully inform the requirements and have the greatest impact on performance.
Although Xcelacore works on more than technology solutions, we utilize an Agile Development Process. At its core, this means that the delivery of a project is broken down into specific time periods (typically two weeks), with specific deliverables. In addition, this methodology provides our clients with a clear method of monitoring delivery of projects, finances, and quality against the overall project expectations.
|For this project, Xcelacore used Agile methodology for all phases of the project including requirements gathering, development, performance, usability, and integration testing.|
After a thorough exploration into user data, stakeholder input, and business requirements, the following feature requirements were created:
Xcelacore researched, defined, implemented, and delivered a highly functional, variable search engine that dramatically improved the course discovery process for prospective students.
“Xcelacore does great work with integrity.”
– Radhika Seshan | COO and Associate Dean
“At the project kick-off meeting, Xcelacore partner mentioned the new search will be a game changer for UCLA Extension, I am very excited to say that they have delivered on their promise.”
– Wayne Smutz, Ph.D. | Dean
With a switch from a homegrown platform to a third-party SaaS solution earlier in 2016, UCLA Extension saw a measurable drop in online enrollment during the second quarter. Was it due in part to the platform switch? Or, were there breaks in the user experience that were causing fewer enrollments? Again, UCLA Extension turned to Xcelacore to define the problem and offer solutions.
Xcelacore employed two paths for helping to define the potential problem and offer solutions. One, Xcelacore professionals dove into the site analytics to define breaks in behavior before the platform switch and after. Although the experience between the two platforms wasn’t parallel, a pattern of behavior began to emerge based on the deep-dive into analytics. Second, Xcelacore utilized drew on more than 20 years of e-commerce and online experience to identify breaks in the intuitive UI/UX path which were then underscored by behaviors gleaned from the analytics.
Xcelacore provided a step-by-step page analysis and recommendation for optimizing each step in the enrollment process, with the ultimate objective of increasing conversions.
Based on the recommendations, UCLA Extension was able to positively impact the conversion path by implementing the following:
I meet business owners, marketers and digital folks everyday who try to gain new business, via the digital channel. When I say digital, I mean through their websites, mobile, social media presence, organic and paid search methods. I have to admit, there’s a lot of sophistication that marketers are using to launch their campaigns across various digital channels – and their spending big bucks to do it. But, I am surprised at the adoption rate of some marketers when it comes to measuring analytics correctly across these digital channels. Marketers tend to say, “I love digital because I can measure it”. Allegedly, digital methods conquered the question of where each marketing dollar actually goes. But when you get down into the weeds, you realize the measurement is half baked based on a few statistics – such as clicks, page views or other nonsensical stats.
By itself, your Adwords report is meaningless unless you know how much money those clicks made for your company. Your social media posts are great for perception but not much value if you don’t lead your followers to your business to buy, buy, buy. Your search optimization dollars are great, but do you know what happens when users reach your website? All in all, it doesn’t matter if you are number one in search if you are not making a high return on investment.
So how do you solve this problem? Here are a few key tips:
1. Spend some time ensuring that your analytics platform is installed properly and standardized across your organization.
2. Work with your agencies to define your requirements and goals of your website. Make sure those goals and conversions are correctly implemented on your site. Free and paid analytics products support this turnkey solution and this is an easy and critical component that will give you great data on what’s working.
3. Give dollar value to your goals and conversions. Attribution reports can tell you which channel is giving you the best bang for the buck.
4. When steps 1-2 are done, ensure that every campaign, post and banner follows a standard method to tracking. Use campaign parameters to ensure you can easily find your campaign in your analytics tool.
5. Analyze, analyze, analyze your data over time to see what is working what’s not.
6. Add more dollars to what’s working and ditch what’s not.
7. Make changes to your website and campaigns and then analyze, analyze, analyze some more.
In summary, digital has opened up multiple channels for us to market and attract new customers. But, in order to understand what is working and not working we need to be more sophisticated in how we measure. If you’re going to pay big bucks for a website, Adwords, social media presence, or even a simple banner, then challenge your agencies to confirm and provide data that show which of the strategies are working to meet your marketing goals. While clicks and page views are fine, they are just the tip of the iceberg. Savvy marketers should measure data that shows number of orders, number of sales leads, number of visitor inquiries and number of conversions.
The one constant that we can rely on is change. The marketing world is not an exception – each year, month and day, there is a new marketing trend that is on the horizon. We as marketers should never stop learning (even though some of us said farewell to school many moons ago), because our industry is constantly changing. The material that was learned in textbooks back at school no longer apply, so it is time to re-dedicate ourselves to the world of innovation that brings disruption to entire industries.
Unfortunately, if you do not embrace these trends and learn how to leverage them, your business will get left behind with those yellow taxis. The following are the top 5 marketing and technology trends that we at Xcelacore believe you should embrace and put into your arsenal of business tools for the new year:
1. Marketing Automation: These technology platforms have become a must-have for large enterprises and increasingly important for small and medium enterprises as well. There are plenty of tools available to match the size of company, level of sophistication, and budget. Marketing automation tools will help you manage your marketing across multiple channels (email, social, web). Automation is essential to improving your conversions from leads to sales; automation speeds up the sales cycle and assists in engaging with your prospects in a personal way that matches their buying stage.
2. Analytics: Analytics provides the ability to find out which of your marketing activities are working and which are not. Without analytics, there is no way to understand your targeted reach, website engagement or how many users are converting into customers. Once you have the available data, you can then optimize your customer experience and begin gaining that much needed insight. There are several tools out there that can match your business needs from Google Analytics to Adobe Analytics.
3. Return on Investment (ROI): The ROI is paramount. In the early days of digital, it was all about experimenting with different channels (mobile, social, web) and advertisements to test about how your customers behave and engage. Now it’s time to tie the dollars you are spending on advertisements, and other marketing efforts, to real revenues. The way to do that is to have the right tools in place (such as marketing automation and analytics) to give you a view on your marketing campaigns. For example, if your spending $100/week on Google AdWords, do you know which convert and how much revenue they add? Or, if you are running an email campaign, do you know how many people followed up with a visit to your website, made a purchase or downloaded that Whitepaper?
4. Content is Key: While this was also true in 2015, we think content is important enough that it deserves to be in the top 5. Without quality content, inbound and thought leadership activities won’t get off the ground. You need informative, thought provoking, and educational content that is delivered to the right audience at the right time to be successful!
5. Focus on Mobile: The rise of mobile is increasing. With so many people checking emails, shopping, reading e-books, playing games, etc., it is important to heavily incorporate this new trend into your marketing strategy for 2016. According to mobileSQUARED, 90% of texts are read within 3 minutes of being delivered. An important insight to remember is that we multi-task with mobiles while watching TV, eating and doing other things that shall remain unmentioned – mobiles are always within reach and we feel naked without them.
Keep in mind that the 5 trends provided are only a sample of the trends that will be seen in the upcoming year. Stay tuned to the Xcelacore blog and we will bring you more of the latest throughout next year. Happy New Year!