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E-commerce during the holidays

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We are approaching the busiest online shopping season of the year and whether you run an ecommerce store or sell digital goods / services you are going to want to be on your A game. Maarten Wensveen, CTO at the$2.5 billion company Cimpress (NASDAQ: CMPR, the parent to Vistaprint) shares some advice he learned from running VistaPrint and a dozen more e-commerce mass customization businesses around the world. The company, whose businesses often ship 60% more customer orders per day during the holiday season compared to an ‘average’ day, has lots of experience preparing for the rush. Our learnings over the years include these four steps:

  • Put Customer Experience First
    • Though the holidays are a busy time, shoppers still expect the same customer experience that they receive during any other part of the year. In fact, often, their purchases are even more important to them than at other times of the year. Focusing on efficiency improvements during the offseason is a great way to ensure your e-commerce site delivers during the peak season. For example, Cimpress is continually updating its design process to ensure it’s easy for customers to design products they love (apparel, accessories, etc.). This includes validating that customers’ uploaded images will print well and rendering instant and realistic previews that allow a shopper to review and make changes to their product before purchasing. This also increases customers’ confidence in the product they are ordering, increasing their likelihood to order.
  • Provide Affordable, On-time Delivery
    • Online shoppers have come to expect fast, affordable (if not, free) delivery 365 days a year. Delivering orders on time is therefore essential for earning a lifetime customer. That’s why Cimpress has focused on its logistics network and makes it available to all of its brands through its shipping API. Not only does it ensure faster delivery for orders, but cost savings that can be passed on to the customer. It is also very important to provide very clear information to customers about different shipping options and when customers can expect their products.
  • Don’t Just Buy More Hardware, Consider the Cloud
    • Cimpress’ ecommerce businesses can ship over one hundred thousand orders daily during the holiday season. A majority of these products have personalized images or designs that are uploaded by customers directly to our sites. Given the scale during this busy time, it’s critical that our businesses’ websites are running at top speed. Having storage and services that are cloud-based ensures that we don’t experience any slowness, and don’t need to carry excess storage or physical hardware that is underutilized during the offseason.
  • Be Prepared, Because Bad Things Will Happen
    • All kinds of problems can and will happen that will impact operations like a flood affecting a facility, a supplier experiencing a strike, or a volcanic eruption disrupting transportation and customer deliveries. The effect of these problems can be more acute during the holiday period because there is less slack in the system and customer expectations may be even more exacting. It is important to have very good monitoring to detect when problems are arising and to have built some flexibility into your operations and infrastructure that lets you react to these challenges. For example, leveraging the cloud the right way gives an organization the ability to scale systems fairly easily; building redundancy in your supplier, production, and delivery networks allows for automatic or manual failover as needed.

Be sure to connect with Maarten Wensveen on LinkedIn and Twitter

Anthony Delgado (born February 6, 1986) is an American software developer and internet entrepreneur widely known as a professional hacker in the developer community. Anthony Delgado has won numerous hackathons sponsored by Fortune 500 tech companies like Google, IBM, Intel, Facebook and Microsoft and hosted by organizations including Rutgers University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, the AT&T Developer Summit in New York City.

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Pollination Founders Comment on Overcoming Challenges: How to be Successful on the Internet

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Jagrit Pratap Singh, Pranav Rastogi and Muhammad Ali are the founders of Pollination, a firm which owns and operates some of the hottest digital properties on the internet. Pollination’s portfolio boasts of websites which continue to rank on front-page in Google Searches, Social Media pages with over 15 Million followers, and e-commerce platforms across two countries.

Jagrit Pratap Singh

In an interview with Disrupt Digital, the founders of Pollination talked about how they started off, where they are – and what’s next for them!

The First Taste of Success

We started out with viral marketing during the digg.com days. This was in the early days of this decade. Our stories were getting popular on that platform and hence, we were making it to the front page of search results on Google almost on a weekly basis. Eventually, it progressed into being multiple times in a week. However, this all stopped when Digg  “incinerated their own site to dust”, Jagrit said. He added:

That wasn’t such a big shock on our numbers, yet it was a valuable learning experience. We had viral organic traffic from Facebook and other platforms, and so we scaled that up. And hence began our social media journey.

Scaling it Up with Social Media!

Muhammad Ali

Pranav adds that Pollination owes a huge deal of its success to social media. The trio own and manage Facebook pages which have over 15 Million combined followers! Among Pollination’s portfolio today are pages such as Art Studios, Take Moments and Life of a Rider among others. However, their fondest memories are of a project that gave them some of their biggest highs and lows – Hiptoro.

Hiptoro.com, which quickly reached to 191 USA ranking on Alexa, was a huge success for the trio. The website got most of its traffic from social media – resulting in at least 20m users every day. Everything seemed to be going well for them until Facebook decided to shake things up! After almost a year of consistent results, Facebook decided to make viral sites on their platform humble and made a monumental shift in their content distribution strategies resulting in the traffic dropping by almost 70%.

Muhammad Ali commented on what happened next, saying:

This humbling experience gave us the time to introspect our business strategies and come up with mature business strategies, focusing on the consumer or the end-user. We had always viewed retail e-commerce as an industry we wanted to be in one day, and so began our journey into 1336 USD billion dollars industry.

What’s Next for Pollination: E-Commerce!

Pranav Rastogi

Jagrit recalls that the e-Commerce industry was a whole different beast. So far, the trio had operated in social media – but this change in business forced them to learn the ropes of online ad distribution. They tackled this new industry head-on and managed to obtain big results here as well, reaching sales worth $2 Million in just 40 days.

Pranav adds: Multiple failures, delivering sales under time constraints, understanding our customers and regular improvisation, allowed us to reach $2 million dollars in sales within just 40 days on NoahsCave.com through various ad networks. Now, we run 2 e-commerce companies in Dubai and USA, with over 20 employees, and have business expansion plans of developing valuable product brands not only for our own e-commerce companies but also to give the same expertise to our clients who approach us for brand transformation.

Muhammad concluded by stating that innovation is the name of the game. The three will continue innovating and exploring more avenues – ensuring that they remain on top of their game for the years to come!

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Interviews

Interview with Todd Denkin from DigiPath

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We recently had the opportunity to talk to Todd Denkin the CEO and Founder of DigiPath. Since joining Digipath, Inc., in 2014 Todd Denkin has transformed the company from a pure digital pathology solution provider into a leader in the medical and recreational cannabis testing market. Digipath Labs’ Las Vegas cannabis testing facility is the number-one testing lab in Nevada, seeing a steady increase in clients and revenues since opening in May of 2015. While maintaining the highest standard for cannabis testing, Todd also focuses on expanding the business through licensing agreements and partnerships that will bring the reliability, experience, and customer service Digipath Labs is known for to cannabis markets across the country. While doing all of that, Todd also co-founded TNMNews Corp. where he serves as it’s president and on-air host.

Denkin’s career has been defined by foresight––the ability to spot and take advantage of emerging market trends and navigate new companies into lucrative markets. In 2009, Todd identified a trend in grow-your-own hydroponic systems and co-founded the self-contained hydroponic system leader Phototron Holdings, helping take the company public and serving as its president. At the time it was one of the very first publicly traded cannabis companies.

He also founded 10 Mile Farms, a hydroponic vegetable growing company dedicated to sprouting locally grown vertical indoor organic produce farms in communities across the country.

Starting in the television and film production business since attending the University of Florida, Denkin became a 25-year show business veteran making TV shows, commercials, infomercials music videos and films. It was another natural fit for Denkin to shift to the Internet in 2000 with a streaming video dot com startup in Las Vegas, NV. He helped take that company public in 2003 and was instrumental in building it to a $300 million market cap.

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Podcasts

Glenn Parada & Darwin Roman from Latino Wealth Movement on ParadaWorks

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On this episode of ParadaWorks, Glenn Parada sits down to interview Darwin Roman founder of the Latino Wealth Movement to discuss everything from business to leadership. Buckle your seatbelts you are not going to want to miss this episode. Enjoy.

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The Disrupt Podcast tells the stories of the world top entrepreneurs, developers, creators, and digital marketers and help empower them to teach others the skills they used to grow their careers, chase their passions and create financial freedom for themselves, their families, and their lives, all while living out their true purpose. We recognize the fact that most young people are opting to skip college in exchange for entrepreneurship and real life experience. This Podcast is designed to give them a taste of that.

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