How to Use PayHelm to Steer Your Ecommerce Success

Now more than ever, being intelligent about your ecommerce business means getting up close and personal with business intelligence. Business intelligence (BI for short) leverages software and services to transform your data into actionable insights, i.e., the info you need to succeed.

Nobody does that better than PayHelm. Why? Two words: Totally customizable. If you have a BigCommerce, Shopify, and/or WooCommerce store — or stores! — PayHelm provides an unparalleled array of analytics that can be tailored to your business like a bespoke suit, yielding richly detailed reports that will help your ecommerce enterprise grow and thrive.

Getting started with PayHelm could not be easier.

You can be up and running in just five simple steps:

  1. Go to PayHelm.com; sign up via BigCommerce, Google, PayPal, or Shopify; and install the PayHelm app
  2. Agree to PayHelm’s Terms & Conditions
  3. Wait a minute while your store data (transaction history) uploads to PayHelm
  4. While you’re waiting, link additional sales channels
  5. Your new PayHelm Analytics Dashboard is ready to go!

Business intelligence literally makes you more intelligent about your business. That’s where PayHelm comes in: It crunches data about your products, your sales, and your customers across multiple BigCommerce, Shopify, and/or WooCommerce accounts and even across multiple platforms, including eBay and Walmart.

With PayHelm, you’ll really get to know your numbers. PayHelm will tell you which of your products are performing best and who your key customers are. Furthermore, PayHelm will reveal what marketing campaigns are making you the most money.

In addition, you can drill down into any aspect of your data to answer crucial questions and verify assumptions. PayHelm’s reports are so accurate, your finance team may not have to change a thing! And PayHelm covers your business worldwide.

Here are just a few of the sales reports you can create for your BigCommerce, Shopify, or WooCommerce Store:

  • Analyze product lines by
    • Total sales
    • Orders
    • Average price
    • Selling fees
    • Product cost
    • Gross margin
    • Profit
    • And more!
  • Filter sales data by time frames and compare performance
  • Get granular and check all product performance by keyword
  • Parse product sales by variant, SKU, or brand
  • Filter or create reports based on product details such as size, model, mix, etc.

Next, take a look at your customer base:

  • Who purchases the most?
  • Which customers drive the most profits?
  • See trends in a single customer’s purchasing behavior over the past five years

You can do a deeper dive into any aspect of your customers’ data as well.

PayHelm is your new best friend when tax time rolls around, too. See what you’ve paid in taxes by country or state. PayHelm will also reveal which of your products are most profitable given any tax rate.

 Moreover, you can chart tax trends over time for any customer, customer group, marketing campaign, or custom data tag. Shopify storeowners can even compare shipping address/state vs billing address/state.

All of this meticulously dissected data is literally at your fingertips — only a few clicks away — thanks to PayHelm’s intuitive user interface. Like the Time Warp from Rocky Horror Picture Show, it’s just a jump to the left, then a step to the right:

When you “open” (i.e., log into) your Big Commerce, Shopify, or WooCommerce store, scroll down to Apps in the left-hand sidebar, then click on the PayHelm icon to launch the app and display your PayHelm dashboard.

Next, step to the right, into your dashboard. There, the Overview screen gives you a macro, well, overview of your business.

Then jump to the left again, where PayHelm’s vertical navigation bar features expandable menus covering everything from Account to Vendor, including:

  • Account Channel
  • Payment Status
  • Currency
  • Country/Region Bought In
  • State/Province Bought In
  • Country/Region Shipped To
  • Customer
  • Customer Group
  • Processing Method
  • Payment
  • Gateway
  • Source
  • Fulfillment Status
  • Brand
  • SKU
  • Vendor
  • Product Type
  • Category
  • Tax Exempt Category
  • Product Options
  • Size
  • Color

Back to those steps to the right: Navigate from Overview to Orders (a list of your customers) to Products (sales breakdown by item) to Customers (micro-looks at each individual’s purchase history) to Marketing (campaigns) to Map (an actual zoomable map of where you’re selling to along with a table of metrics that even details your fulfillment times!).

Speaking of time, you can quantify that any which way your business heart desires: today or yesterday; this week or last week; this month or last month; this quarter or last quarter; the last 7, 14, 30, 90, or 365 days; or last year.

Click on the little gear icon to change your dashboard’s settings. This is where you get to specify just how far you want to drill down (Report Columns); exactly how granular you need to get (Metrics and Filters); and precisely how you prefer your data to be displayed (Column? Pie chart? Table?).

Finally, you can export the whole shebang to a CSV file at any point along the way.

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We could go into even more detail about PayHelm’s wonderfully nuanced analyses, but that would spoil the fun of letting you click around and discover its analytical superpowers for yourself (and your business). If you get bogged down at any point, or just want to discuss some fine points, PayHelm’s customer support team has got your back — around the clock and around the world.

Here’s the kicker: If you find yourself needing BI beyond what’s currently offered, PayHelm’s savvy and customer-centric developers will listen to your request, then code it into the app for you PDQ.

With PayHelm to guide its journey, your ecommerce business can boldly go as never before.

Smile, You’ve Got Big Data: Why You Need Business Intelligence

When it comes to ecommerce, retail savvy is no longer enough. You also need business intelligence (BI for short). Basically, BI takes all of the raw data generated by your ecommerce enterprise, analyzes and digests it, then spits out the information you need to make better, more informed decisions about marketing, sales, and other aspects of your ecommerce business.

Luckily for you, there’s an app for that. Specifically designed for ecommerce storeowners, PayHelm provides real-time analytics for your online retail business, translating customer info and sales data into reports that enable you to make decisions based on facts, not guesswork. A survey by Helical IT found that decisions made using facts had a 79% greater chance of success than decisions made via intuition

In fact, your ecommerce business is probably already generating, tracking, and aggregating the essential information you need to help it thrive and grow. Nowadays, even small and medium-sized businesses are producing mountains of big data, but there’s gold in them thar hills — if you know how to extract it.

According to a study by Nucleus Research, for every $1 a company spends on BI, it makes $10.66. That’s an ROI of more than 1000%! Furthermore, companies that make extensive use of customer data analytics in their business decisions see 126% profit improvement compared to companies that don’t use BI. So it literally pays to take advantage of the insights gleaned via business intelligence.

Best of all, BI can lead to higher sales and more satisfied repeat customers. Why? Because business intelligence can help you to better understand your customers and the market, highlight trends, and spot potential problems before they turn into pitfalls.

That’s where PayHelm comes in. This multifunctional BI tool crunches data as fast as it comes in. Then it makes analyses of that data available in various forms and formats, including charts and graphics that visually reveal trends and patterns.

A dashboard serves as Information Central, displaying and managing essential metrics such as key performance indicators (KPIs) and other relevant data points that help monitor the overall health of your ecommerce business. From there, you can drill down to the details that matter most.

In addition, ad hoc reporting enables the creation of dynamic, real-time data reports on an as-needed basis. These ad hoc reports are designed to answer a specific business question, usually in response to an event. Want to find out how well your last promotion did (or didn’t)? PayHelm can tell you with just a few clicks.

Speaking of marketing, business intelligence can break down your customer base into groups with similar characteristics. These groups are known as cohorts. BI uses cohort analysis to understand the trends and patterns of customers over time in order to better tailor the products offered to various cohorts along with helping to predict what new product(s) will be most likely to sell well.

Cohort analysis is very helpful in evaluating the results of your marketing efforts. It can also tell you which groups of customers are driving the most revenue.

Another major concern for ecommerce businesses is customer retention and its flip side, churn (a.k.a. customer attrition). Typically, for small and medium-sized businesses, 3%-5% is considered to be a “good” churn rate.

To calculate your business’ churn rate, take the number of customers you lost last quarter and divide it by the number of customers with which you started. To determine the lifespan of your average customer, divide 1 by your churn rate.

BI software like PayHelm can help you predict churn and even suggest ways to combat it.

Here are some more examples of the statistical gold that PayHelm can mine from your motherlode of ecommerce data:

  • Performance metrics reveal your business’ actions, abilities, and overall quality.
    • Product analysis – total sales, orders, and average price
    • Global sales – analyzed by location
    • Product performance – keyword analysis
  • Profitability analysis (e.g., how much your business makes from each $1 in sales)
  • Trend and problem indicators. Ecommerce KPIs include…
    • Average order value
    • Conversion rate
    • Cost of goods sold
    • Gross and net profit

Thinking of adding another sales channel (or channels)? PayHelm can help you there, too; it can analyze various factors across multiple ecommerce platforms, including BigCommerce, Shopify, and PayPal. You can also control user access to data — e.g., who can see what — as well as export, manage, and save your data in CSV format.

PayHelm is here to handle your business needs with its user friendly reports. Your marketing team, accounting team and leadership team will all love being on the same page. Try it now for free.

Why Repeat Customers Are the Lifeblood of Your Ecommerce Business (And How to Woo Them)

Smart retailers both online and off value one kind of customer above all others: repeat buyers. Why? Because the most profitable customers are those you already have, so it pays to keep them coming back.

The average ecommerce storeowner spends more than 80% of their marketing budget on customer acquisition. Yet an Adobe Digital Index study that analyzed data from 33 billion visits to 180 retail websites showed that more than 40% of the total revenue generated came from only 8% of the sites’ visitors: namely, returning customers (those who bought once before) and repeat buyers (those who made at least 2 previous purchases).

In fact, 61% of small and medium-size businesses report that more than 50% of their revenue comes from repeat customers. During economic slowdowns and the holiday season, returning and repeat purchasers account for even more revenue

It’s less expensive to retain customers than it is to acquire them. It takes 5-7 new shoppers to bring in the same amount of revenue as a single repeat buyer. In addition, it costs 5 times as much to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. Furthermore, it costs 16 times as much to bring a new customer up to the spending level of repeat purchasers.

It’s also easier to sell to repeat buyers: Whereas the average conversion rate for ecommerce businesses is 1%-3%, a repeat customer has a 60%-70% chance of converting. According to Adobe, repeat buyers are 9 times more likely to convert than a first-time shopper. This especially comes in handy when you’re introducing new products.

Repeat purchasers tend to spend more the longer they stay with you, too. A study by Bain & Co. shows that in the apparel category, a shopper’s 5th  purchase was 40% larger than their first purchase, while their 10th purchase was 80% larger.

But the payoff from repeat buyers doesn’t stop there. Repeat purchasers double as your best brand advocates, telling an average of 4-6 other people (50% more than one-time buyers) about their experience with you. That’s the kind of advertising money can’t buy!

Multiplied by social media, word of mouth from happy customers adds up to a whole lot of free marketing. It works, too: More than 90% of consumers trust and buy from a brand recommended by friends or family. In addition, 43% are more likely to purchase a new product after learning about it via social media.

But here’s the best news of all: A mere 2% increase in customer retention is the equivalent of cutting costs by 10%, while increasing customer retention by just 5% boosts the average company’s profitability by a staggering 75%.

So how difficult is it to get a customer to come back and shop with you again? After his or her initial purchase, there’s a 27% chance of that shopper returning. But if you can get them to come back for a second purchase, the odds of them returning again jump to 45%. After a third purchase, there’s a 54% chance that they’ll continue coming back.

But you don’t have to rely on chance. There are a number of proven strategies for enticing customers to shop with you again and again. And this being the 21st century, there’s an app for that. Smile.io specializes in loyalty programs for small businesses. Their goal is to help you build your repeat customer base into an engaged community, which in turn will enable you to grow your business.

An effective loyalty program helps you to establish and maintain an emotional relationship with every member of your community. It’s not just about discounts; simply offering the customer a discount on their next order may bring them back, but then they’ll expect a discount every time and/or wait until they receive one to make another purchase. Either way, it’s a downward spiral.

Nowadays, a well-designed loyalty program motivates valuable customer actions and increases engagement. It also creates an effective switching barrier: Your customers will be less likely to jump ship to a competitor if future rewards from you are in store for them!

You can reward customers for all kinds of activities in addition to purchases:

  • Account creation
  • Social media follows or shares
  • Birthdays
  • Referrals and reviews
  • Anything else you can think of

Smile.io integrates with BigCommerce, Shopify, Shopify Plus, and Wix, empowering you to create a customized loyalty program especially tailored to your ecommerce business via Points, VIP recognition, Referrals, and more. Their Resource Center features a reference library of ebooks — including industry-specific how-to guides — to help you get started. Finally, Smile-io also offers one-click integration with an impressive array of related tools.

So follow the smart money: Stop spending most of your marketing budget on customer acquisition, and start focusing instead on customer retention. Your bottom line will thank you!

Why Your Ecommerce Store Desperately Needs a Backup Strategy

It’s not a question of if you’re going to lose ecommerce store data. It’s a question of when — and how much!

The 2020 Ecommerce Data Protection Report says one of four online stores have permanently lost vital business data. Think images, product listings, customer information, inventory counts and much more.

All this information helps an ecommerce entrepreneur drive and grow their business. Without it, you are operating blind. And trying to restore it involves more than a few mouse clicks. Without a backup strategy,  if your web store goes down, and its data is lost, then you’re virtually (and maybe literally) out of business.

As an ecommerce entrepreneur, you’re busy sourcing, listing, selling, and shipping.. Your online store is humming along nicely — and even growing. But it could all go away in a nanosecond for way too many reasons. ECybersecurity professionals say that there are two kinds of people: those who have lost data, and those who are about to lose data. The three primary causes of data loss? Human error, software glitches, and malicious attacks.

Ecommerce businesses are particularly vulnerable to the latter. In fact, they’re the target of nearly 1/3 of all cyber attacks. In 2019 alone, 10% of small enterprises hit by cyber-attacks were forced out of business according to a 2019 report from CNBC.

Yet black-hat hackers are actually the least of your worries. It’s far more likely that your data will fall victim to people you know.  If you, an employee or contractor make a typo when tweaking the coding for your store’s theme, or that terrific new third-party app doesn’t play nice, it can wreak havoc with your site’s functionality and finances. In a survey of 300 ecommerce merchants, over 90% said sales would immediately nose dive if they lost business data:


Source: Rewind 2020 Ecommerce Data Protection Report

As you can see, lost sales aren’t the only negative impact. First-time shoppers who come to your store may never come back, while repeat customers may find somewhere else to buy. They may decide that you’re no longer trustworthy.

In addition, you’ve lost all of the hard work, time, and money that went into building your store. Good luck re-creating it all from memory! Downtime also damages your SEO ranking and decimates productivity while all hands are on deck trying to get your store back up and running.  You need a backup strategy — and you need it at the most granular level. To be effective it should be

  • Updated as often as your website changes
  • Stored somewhere other than on your server/website
  • Easy to access and restore when you need it most

Your ecommerce service provider (e.g., Shopify or BigCommerce) unfortunately can’t do this for you. They operate on the basis of “shared responsibility”. That means they are responsible for their own software, infrastructure, and disaster recovery. If a rogue asteroid wipes out one of their data centers, they’ve got a macro-backup ready to use in recovering the platform and restoring it to its previous state.

But they can’t restore your individual account. As a merchant, you’re responsible for password security, permissions given to users and third-party providers, and (most importantly) backing up any data you put into your store.

That’s where a service like Rewind comes in. Recommended by both Shopify and BigCommerce, Rewind offers set-it-and-forget-it peace of mind, automatically backing up all of your cloud-based data every day. You can also run a manual backup any time you need to, such as before you attempt a bulk edit via CSV import. (CSV imports are notorious for causing data losses.)

Better yet, Rewind lets you restore lost data for a single item, multiple items, parts of your store, or your entire store. Think of it as a magic “Undo” button. With Rewind, you can be back in business in minutes instead of hours. You wouldn’t walk a high wire without a safety net — would you? — so don’t try to run your online store without one, either.

While PayHelm enables you to build the future of your business, Rewind empowers you to preserve its past and protect its present.

Taking Care of (Online) Business: eCommerce Workflows

If this is the workflow for your ecommerce business, it’s time to clean up your act!

Whether you’re an accidental entrepreneur whose hobby selling on eBay became a full-time occupation or a purpose-driven e-tailer who deliberately set out to build an ecommerce empire, you’re in business now.

But are you running your business, or is your business running you…ragged? If it’s the latter, then it’s time to review your procedures with an eye towards streamlining and automating whatever you can.

Because when it comes to your ecommerce business, it literally pays to mind your Ps and Qs. Here’s how the workflows boil down, step by step:

  1. Product sourcing
  2. Post items for sale
  3. Promote your listings and store
  4. Quick shipping
  5. Prompt and professional customer service
  6. Quantify your business’ success via key metrics

Let’s take a closer look at each of those workflows.

Product Sourcing = Homework + Legwork

Before you can start selling anything, you’ve got to have something to sell. Time to go product sourcing! But where to start?

You’ve got plenty of options. Many online sellers swear by thrift shops and garage or estate sales, because they love the thrill of the hunt. But scaling a business based entirely on unique items — “one-offs” —can be brutal; you’ve got to list items as fast as you sell them just to keep your virtual store stocked. Unlisted inventory is your tied-up cash just sitting on the shelf, laughing at you.

Another viable sourcing option is retail arbitrage: buying marked-down, limited edition, and/or hard-to-find merchandise at brick-and-mortar shops or online, then flipping it for a profit. The drawback to this business model is that it’s unpredictable.

Ditto for buying liquidation goods; you can never be sure where your next hot product is coming from or what it may be.So start at the very beginning (a very good place to start!) by doing some market research. Maybe you’ve already got a product category (or categories) in mind; maybe you’re wide open to suggestion; or maybe you just want to find your next hot niche. Or maybe all of the above. Whichever it is, make sure you do your homework!

List More, Sell More

Once you’ve settled on a saleable and sustainable product mix, you’re ready to start listing. That can be the most challenging part of your business to scale, and you can’t do it manually — or singlehandedly.

So start automating whatever you can — the sooner, the better. Eventually, you’ll also need to add somebody else, or even several somebodies, to your payroll. Because even with stock photos, listing takes time. And if you’ve got to do your own product photography to boot, forget going solo. You’re going to need help from third-party tools and/or human employees.

The best third-party ecommerce tools offer multiple plans to accommodate your growing business. Most offer free trials, too, so don’t hesitate to shop around until you figure out what feels right for your business.

Then choose the tools that can best handle what you need them to do, whether it’s importing/exporting listings across platforms, keeping tabs on your inventory, streamlining customer relations management, or shaping up your shipping. Whatever tool(s)’ you use should include some kind of reports or metrics.

Keep Calm and Leave Feedback

Speaking of customers, you’d better be prepared to deal with them — preferably promptly and professionally. One word: Communication. Answer questions ASAP; manage buyer expectations whenever possible; and focus on each customer’s complete satisfaction as your bottom line.

Start each customer on the road to happiness  — and set yourself up for reciprocal feedback — by leaving feedback for buyers as soon as payment is received. The buyer’s job is to purchase and pay; once they’ve done that, show them some feedback love. (Hint: You can automate it.)

Of course, if they don’t pay, you’ll need to have a system in place to deal with that as well. For example, on eBay, you simply open an Unpaid Item case — or let Unpaid Item Assistant do it for you.

But don’t just sit back and wait for shoppers to stumble across your listings and store. Get out there and promote them via social media, Facebook ads, or marketplace tools such as eBay’s Promotions Manager and Promoted Listings. Consider rewarding repeat buyers in some way. Set up volume discounts. The more traffic you can drive your way, the bigger the boost in sales.

Fast Shipping and Happy Returns

Once you do make a sale and receive payment, that’s your cue to ship quickly. Ideally, your shipping solution of choice should allow you to purchase and print shipping labels; generate packing slips and customs labels; upload tracking; and notify buyers that their item has shipped and when they can expect to receive it.

Your job doesn’t end there, though. After-sale customer care is critical to your ongoing success. If they’re happy, great; if not, you’ve got to negotiate an amicable resolution. You might also have to process a return and/or issue a refund. Just don’t ask for feedback! Take care of your buyers, and your feedback will take care of itself.

Know Your Numbers

You can’t manage your business unless you can take its measure via certain key metrics. You’ve got to keep tabs on gross profit versus net profit; cost of goods sold; and overhead expenses.

Drilling down, you need to know how well each product is performing along with what’s selling best on which channel(s). It’s also useful to analyze sales by SKU; by buyer location; by price point; by order size; and more. Quantifying this information enables you to see what’s working versus what’s not working and allows you to gauge your success (or lack thereof).

Each marketplace provides sellers with a certain amount of data and some type of sales reports, but to really keep your fingers on the pulse of your ecommerce business, you’re better off using a third-party analytics tool that you can tailor to suit your needs.

Remember: You can’t manage what you don’t measure. If you don’t know your numbers, sooner or later, your business is going to crash and burn.

So there you have it, the soup to nuts of ecommerce:

  • Source products that will sell and enable you to scale
  • Post listings as quickly as possible
  • Promote your products and store
  • Ship quickly (and cost effectively)
  • Communicate with customers every step of the way
  • Streamline and/or automate as much of the above as you can
  • Monitor your business’ health via key metrics

Now go forth and sell!