During the COVID-19 pandemic, eCommerce purchases have increased significantly in Italy. Data from The eCommerce B2C Osservatorio of the School of Management Politecnico di Milano report shows a significant growth in online purchases by Italians in 2020: EUR 4.7 billion, or 26 per cent more than in 2019. This growth has resulted in booming eCommerce performance for many companies while pushing retailers who until now have been “sitting on the fence” to accelerate their development plans for an omnichannel presence. This means not only starting to sell online — with all the complexities that this entails — but managing all marketing & marketplace channels in an integrated manner. This also includes physical points of sale which, more than ever, must be supported with tools to broaden the reach and increase the flow of visitors.
Below is an interview with the founder of Kipcast, Giovanni Guardalben.
The customer is the core of omnichannel paths
Local inventory and eCommerce performance strategies are the core of Kipcast‘s offering. The Italian-Canadian company was founded in 2006 with the aim of aggregating and distributing optimized web content to analysts, publishers and product directories. Over time, data has been replaced by content. Today, Kipcast’s technology helps companies selling online using product-based marketing strategies and for physical retailers to promote local inventory online marketing approaches. These approaches, are the key to engaging consumers, attracting them to local stores and retaining their loyalty.
Campaign management, a boost for sales
Kipcast provides retailers and brands with tools to improve the performance of their marketing campaigns and sales in three ways.
“First of all, with our feed management tool, which allows companies to market their products effectively using options like, Facebook Dynamic Product Ads, Google Shopping, Online Comparison Sites, Affiliate Websites and Retargeting and Remarketing Engines,” explained Giovanni Guardalben, Kipcast’s founder. “Secondly, through the integrated management of orders on third -party online stores and marketplaces, taking care of all integration activities for order processing, logistics and fulfillment. Finally, by offering consultancy and technical support in the creation of marketing campaigns designed for effective local inventory based campaigns.”
Kipcast offers two platforms: Highstreet.io and Clicktobrick.io.
Highstreet.io is a feed management solution used by over 200 retail, fashion, and consumer electronics brands, including Luisaviaroma, Timberland, Prada, Vans, and Unieuro. Clicktobrick.io, on the other hand, is a tool for managing local marketing campaigns on Google Ads, aimed at increasing the number of visitors to stores. Both are cloud-based and usable with a Software as a Service pricing model. The two Kipcast platforms are architecturally similar but designed to perform different tasks and benefit from the company’s expertise in data integration.
eCommerce KPIs, the role of data integration
Integrating an eCommerce platform with advertising platforms and marketplaces requires technical skills that are often lacking in marketing agencies or marketing departments. The biggest obstacles are data collection, data homogenization and the synchronization of data.
This is where Highstreet.io comes in.
“Our platform connects to our client’s backend to manage product feeds on one side and the order cycle, logistics and fulfilment on the other. Highstreet.io simplifies the import of a product catalog by cleaning up the feeds, structuring them and standardizing the feeds in different formats — API, XML, CSV, JSON. As a result, Highstreet.io’s platform and support are essential for marketers dealing with increasingly complex data integration, which jeopardizes their eCommerce performance and campaign management.” explained Guardalben.
Data can be acquired directly from Highstreet.io by using APIs and the native connectivity of the platform with the customer’s eCommerce system. It can also be acquired through a master catalog or through the real-time acquisition of notifications of changes in the offer, which the customer communicates directly to Kipcast. The data is distributed by Highstreet.io to various marketing channels and marketplaces through appropriate format transformations and then updated in real-time, as needed.
The system is designed for the rapid onboarding of new customers, thanks to the increasingly intensive use of artificial intelligence algorithms. “Our Feed Complete approach includes a series of technologies that allow for the generation of rich digital content even in the absence of structured data,” noted Giovanni Guardalben. “This leads to significant time savings when publishing catalogs on the different channels. We take care of everything; acquiring and unifying data from the eCommerce site and the company’s backend. We then integrate the client’s backend into our platform using a direct connection, which requires no additional development effort. The retailer is then able to manage Amazon orders directly with SAP or other major ERPs.”
Kipcast’s services also extend to Automated Product Fulfillment Management. This includes order capture from the marketplace and transfers to the customer, capture of order fulfilment status and shipping information from the customer, and transfer of this information to the online merchant.
One-click product listing campaigns
Companies operating on marketplaces must know how to make the most of product data. Usually, those who start selling online start with an AdWords campaign, which is supported by a campaign budget aimed at appearing at the top of Google search results. These placements are basically ads with paid product cards that show a photo of the reference, a brief description of its main features, an indication of the price and the name of the store. These ads are known as Product Listing Ads (PLA).
PLAs are essential in capturing the attention of someone conducting an online search for that product category and can, therefore, be considered a “quality” click, which offers a good chance to convert.
“To create effective PLAs, we develop data sets that are impeccable from an SEO point of view, with quality data that is always up to date, and with highly engaging and optimized content. It’s a particularly complex job that requires technical skills in data integration, content management and SEO writing that virtually no company or agency has in-house,” says Guardalben. “Further complicating matters are PLA technical specifications and formats that change frequently. The risk, for those who don’t adapt quickly, is to see the efforts and investments committed to the online channel wasted. This is why we have begun to offer our consultation in this area, in particular for Google Shopping.”
The Highstreet.io platform is designed to optimize product data (attributes and variants) so that the offer is highlighted, ensuring the best sales performance. In addition, the use of different templates allows for the rapid modification of feeds, which must be changed often to take into account not only the changes in the availability of products in stock but also new promotions, maximizing the effectiveness of online marketing campaigns.
Click to Brick to facilitate retail rebound
Post-pandemic retail rebound, however, also involves rethinking the role of physical stores. An effective omnichannel strategy not only enhances online sales, but it also creates new experiences and shopping opportunities in physical stores by supporting them with promotions and localized online campaigns.
Kipcast’s Clicktobrick.io campaign management platform optimizes text search and display campaigns in a Google Ads environment. This solution allows you to improve the effectiveness of the local inventory campaigns, which, in turn, increases visits to physical stores.
The efficient synchronization of local product data guarantees that only the products that are available in that store are advertised, with messages visible only to the people who are located around the store. “Kipcast is the Italian partner of reference for the development of Google Local Inventory Ads campaigns, the new way of making campaigns integrated with Google My Business, which aims to generate traffic to the point of sale,” concluded Giovanni Guardalben. “The most evident result is the increase in conversions, accompanied by a reduction in operating costs linked to the more effective management of local stock.” This is a very pressing issue in this re-opening phase [during the pandemic].
The following post has been translated from a previous article located at Digital 4 Biz.