3 eCommerce Lessons From LuLaRoe’s Downfall

LuLaRoe was a force to be reckoned with as an eCommerce merchant a few years ago. Riddled with lawsuits and conspiracy, the once-booming clothing retailer has since hit its downfall.

LuLaRoe has an unconventional business model as a clothes retailer. LuLaRoe does not sell their products themselves, they sell through independent retailers worldwide. Through multi-level marketing (MLM), LuLaRoe requires their sellers to make an initial purchase of $5,000, to turn around and sell these products to customers.

LuLaRoe’s sellers price these items at a markup and sell them through their medium of choice. What LuLaRoe coins as, “a social retail model,” these sellers can create “shopping communities” in-person or online. A few years ago, LuLaRoe communities were commonly on Facebook: sellers would set up a group, a time for the sale, and then conduct the transactions themselves.

Now if there are alarm bells ringing in your head already, you have good instincts: this is a sketchy business model. As a company that provides eCommerce web design services, we could not agree more.

This unique way of conducting business has since caught up with LuLaRoe and they have been in many legal altercations: many accusing them of being a pyramid scheme, and violating sales taxes. LuLaRoe also received complaints about their quality and their refund policies.

So where did it all go all ‘LuLaWrong’ for LuLaRoe? What can we learn in the eCommerce industry from their mistakes? Here are three lessons that we can take away from LuLaRoe’s downfall:

  • You should be conducting business through a secure central medium

One of the most glaring issues with LuLaRoe’s business model is that they do not use a central secure medium to conduct their sales. There is no central hub that customers can return to for questions regarding their purchases. LuLaRoe conducts all of their sales through third parties.

Their company site is essentially a front, filled with graphics and photos, with no real substance. Customers can see items but have no way of purchasing them without an independent seller. Furthermore, the return policy detailed for LuLaRoe customers, is that they should, “Get in contact with the independent fashion retailer.”

So what purpose does the company site serve? Besides being aesthetically pleasing, I question its functionality otherwise.

This is one major takeaway from the LuLaRoe business model, you should be conducting your business through a secure central medium, to serve as the nucleus of the organization. With LuLaRoe, there is no core to their eCommerce business. You should be conducting your business through one consistent medium. Which can make an eCommerce business more efficient for you and your customers. As any eCommerce website design and development company will tell you!

This can increase your product and employee satisfaction. With LuLaRoe’s model, it was averaged that 70% of LuLaRoe representatives sold less than $5,000 worth of their retail goods. If business was conducted through their company site, LuLaRoe wouldn’t have inflicted this loss upon their retailers.

You should be conducting your business through a secure central channel, if you don’t want to make the same mistake as our dear friend, LuLaRoe.

  • You need to be prioritizing the safety of your customers

With LuLaRoe’s buying and selling process, as we detailed above— there are third parties involved. LuLaRoe does not have a single, secure channel that customers can complete their transactions and receive customer support.

In conducting their business through their independent sellers, LuLaRoe does not provide a safe channel to protect their customer’s information. LuLaRoe is not strict about which payment provider their independent retailers decide to use. Although they do not encourage their sellers to choose a new payment platform— there are no regulatory measures in place to prevent them from doing so.

As a result, there have been allegations that certain independent sellers have been swindling their customers. And with no secure payment avenue in place, LuLaRoe has made it easy for them to do so.

In the eCommerce industry this is something we can learn from, ‘less is more’ when it comes to outside parties. When it comes to handling sensitive customer data it should all be under one secure company platform.

  • You need to ensure the quality of your products

Aside from a rather blasphemous return policy, LuLaRoe does not provide a solid way to ensure product quality. As an eCommerce merchant, the most important thing you can do is: provide a quality product to ensure customer satisfaction.

LuLaRoe did not comply with this golden rule and has received multiple complaints about their product quality. There was no transparency from the company. LuLaRoe makes their independent retailers purchase their products, without seeing them first. Thus, the independent retailers have no way to ensure quality and sold these products to their customers. With this system: there was no check and balance regarding product quality.

Many customers complained about holes and weak quality of the products— primarily in their leggings. This issue was so significant, that the outraged customers banded together to start the Facebook group, “LuLaRoe Defective/Ripped/Torn Leggings and Clothes,” which boasts thousands of followers. When prompted about their quality control, LuLaRoe’s CEO simply responded, “We weaken the fibers to make them buttery soft. We have done all we can to fix them.”

As an eCommerce merchant, you should be listening to your customer’s complaints and making a product that is high quality. In eCommerce, learn from the mistakes of your fellow fallen retailers: ensure your product quality and listen to your customers.

You live, you learn

LuLaRoe has provided us with an example of what not to do in the eCommerce industry. With their flawed business model, it provides a learning experience for eCommerce providers everywhere.

If you would like to continue learning about what makes an effective eCommerce business, you should get in contact with a professional. Reach out to an eCommerce web development company, to ensure your company will be a success in the industry, rather than a flop.

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3 eCommerce Lessons From LuLaRoe’s Downfall

4 Ways To Make Your Business’ Shoppable Instagram Successful

Say you’re an eCommerce merchant that has been wanting to advertise your products through social media. In a culture dominated and shaped by social media, this can be a great way to reach potential customers and raise awareness about your business.

Now, you have quite a few different options to choose from. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, the list goes on. However, if your product can be showcased visually and it is appropriate for your target demographic, a great choice for social media marketing is Instagram.

Instagram has been on the rise as a photo & video sharing application. Some users have already begun to assert that Instagram is replacing Facebook as their dominant form of social media. The New York Times reports that roughly 700 million users access Instagram each month, with roughly 400 million users logging onto the app daily.

If you are an eCommerce business owner that has been looking to expand your reach, Instagram could be an untapped market for you. Multiple eCommerce stores and social media influencers are already capitalizing by engaging their users through this social media forum.

If you are new to Instagram and are unsure how to sell your products, have no fear! Codal has worked with countless eCommerce merchants to assist them in achieving their goals. As a writer for an eCommerce web development company, I have compiled a basic how-to guide for selling on Instagram.

Providing Humanized Content

So, you have decided to take the plunge into the world of Instagram. Aside from the obvious housekeeping tasks— choosing your username, picking a profile picture, writing a description—your content plays a huge role in your account’s success.

Instagram is a visual app; therefore, you need to be providing material that is visually engaging through your profile. Ritual is a great example of this aesthetically pleasing and intriguing content.

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(Screenshots from Ritual’s Instagram Page)

Although they are a vitamin company, their page seems almost artistic. Thus, it makes it interesting for the user. They are showcasing the vitamin in a new way and it is working— Ritual boasts 63.5k followers with 584 posts.

Ritual is also successful because of how they make their product seem tangible. Due to the fact that their product is intended to be for people, they have people marketing and showcasing their vitamin in their content. Ritual humanizes their page through their product representation.

Aside from this human connection, Ritual makes their product’s intention straightforward in their posts. The average user can understand what the vitamin is for upon first glance at Ritual’s page. For example, their page shows their vitamins being balanced on someone’s lips. If I am a user that knows nothing about their product, I assume that it is meant to be ingested— no caption needed.

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(Screenshots from Ritual’s Instagram Page)

In order to sell your product through Instagram you need to make your content seem tangible and your intention be straightforward.

Ritual is just one great example of a brand using Instagram to sell products well. But follow their lead and you can also see yourself gaining user engagement insta-ntly.

2. Exhibiting Quality Marketing Techniques

The developers at Instagram recognize that their platform is being used to sell products, so they have made it nice and easy for merchants to be able to promote their products through advertisements.

If you fork over a little cash, you can purchase photo ads, video ads, carousel ads, and sponsored Instagram stories. This can assist your business on extending your reach beyond your profile. With these ads, you can customize the particular demographic of users that you would like to target.

These ads might be brief, but with your demographic parameters set- they can be funnelled straight to the users that are the most compatible. Now that’s what I call marketing.

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Although these ads are great, a drawback would be your inability to directly link your product in the caption. If users want to learn more they can, through ‘swipe to learn more’; however, you are still unable to link to your company website.

A way around this minor roadblock would be putting your company site in your business’ Instagram biography. That way, if a customer wants to find out more about your products, they can have a set place to look.

Furthermore, you can send a customer your company link through a direct message (or a DM, as the kids call it these days). For example, you can post on your Instagram story an advertisement, and tell your users to “DM you for more information.” Now, with that sidestep, you can link the user to your company homepage directly.

3. Providing Shoppable Instagram Posts and Including Instagram Influencers

Recently integrated into Instagram is the ability for users to check out products through ‘shoppable Instagram posts.’ Sephora integrates this ability into their page with ease. If a user likes the way a product looks- a simple click, and they have the information at their fingertips.

A savvy way of selling your products, a user can browse products from your business without ever leaving the app. This feature prioritizes the importance of providing ease for your user.

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In addition to making shoppable posts, it can be great marketing for your business to team up with a social media influencer. As an influencer, these individuals have access to a vast number of users.

If these users agree to work with your company, it can increase the amount of site traffic for you and your social media mogul. A win-win.

4. Your Page’s Cohesiveness

When making a successful Instagram brand, it is important that your brand’s flow be seamless. Anyone who provides solid ui design services would stress that your color, logo, and aesthetic should match on both the website and the Instagram page itself.

Therefore, if a customer clicks on the company site while on the page, the brand seems to extend itself beyond these two forums. A user should never feel like they are looking at two different brands when they are looking at your site and Instagram side by side.

With your website and Instagram page, cohesiveness is key.

Do It For The ‘Gram

As you are developing your business’ Instagram presence, don’t forget about the other parts of your eCommerce business. As an eCommerce web design company in Chicago, Codal is committed to helping you achieve your eCommerce goals.

Contact us today for help in developing your business further!

4 Ways To Make Your Business’ Shoppable Instagram Successful

GDPR: What It Means For Your Business

If you’re a business owner, you have undoubtedly heard of the passing of the GDPR on May 25th, 2018. As a web development agency in Chicago, Codal has been acutely aware of this legislation and its breadth. Yet, this astronomical legislation was a long time coming- the GDPR’s construction started in December 2015.

The General Data Protection Regulation, or most commonly referred to as the “GDPR,” is a European Union privacy and security law. Now, I know what you’re thinking. How does this impact my business if I am in America and my business is based in the U.S.?

Since GDPR involves any personal data that EU citizens provide, its reach is far beyond Europe. Thus, if your business operates in the European Union, offers services/goods to EU citizens, or essentially accesses any part of the EU- you must be in compliance with the GDPR.

The GDPR is the largest cybersecurity update in the past two decades: giving data control back to the user and limiting the extent that businesses can use this information.

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The price for not complying? Lawsuits and fines galore. Now, that’s scary. And for the sake of user cybersecurity, it’s meant to have that fear factor. As a web application development agency in Chicago, that works with a number of companies that are affected by these laws- I understand the unease that you must being experiencing. However, we are going to delve into this cryptic legislation together and determine what it means for your business.

Taking A Bird’s Eye View

If your business falls under the breadth of the GDPR, the first thing to do would be to take a step back and look at the data being collected holistically. What are you collecting this data for, and are your users aware of these uses?

The GDPR emphasizes that users have control over their “personal data.” Forbes simplifies and lays out what this would encompass: personal identifying data (name, address, date of birth, web-based data (location, IP address, cookies), health/genetic data, biometric data, racial/ethnic data, political opinions and sexual orientation. That’s a lot of data.

If your business is using any of this information, it is pertinent that you check your privacy agreements to be in accordance with the GDPR (Article 7 in the legislation). Are users explicitly agreeing to the following ‘terms and conditions,’ that would allow you to use this data? If the answer is no, your privacy agreement may be due for a facelift. No matter what your answer is, GDPR is a reminder that your privacy agreement could probably use an update.

This is why so many users have been receiving emails asking them to review changes in these privacy agreements. I would recommend following suit: once you update the agreements, let users know of these changes and require them to re-agree.

If you’re looking for an example of GDPR compliant privacy agreements, Google has a good example of their user policy here or here.

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Review. And if necessary, be sure to revise promptly.

Hire A Data Protection Officer

In addition to a potential update in privacy agreements, a business should consider hiring a data protection officer, or a “DPO” for short. A data protection officer ensures that a business is adhering to all aspects of the GDPR. DPOs also work on data protection strategy and the implementation of new security protocols.

Additionally, a DPO has to conduct audits of a business’ security, train other employees about data processing, and more. Depending on the amount of data your business processes, GDPR may require you to hire a DPO.

We recommend taking a look at the GDPR legislation to see how your business fits into this requirement. Who knows, your new DPO might become your right-hand man.

Plans And Records

As the GDPR is put into effect, businesses also need to create a Record of Processing Activities (RoPA). The RoPA includes: information about the data controller, purposes of processing, and the security measures put in place. Article 30 details this portion of the GDPR in further detail.

Another important addition to the GDPR is its policy regarding data breaches. The GDPR requires companies to report breaches within 72 hours of the incident occurring. That’s a quick turnaround.

This short timeline means that companies should create policies on how they might handle a data breach. The quicker breach plans can be implemented, the sooner a business can minimize the damage and lay out its next steps – all while fitting in with the GDPR requirements.

However, if a company fails to report a data breach, they will face hefty fines. Better safe than sorry, make sure your business is in line with the GDPR requirements.

What Next?

The bottom line is that you should get your business to be GDPR compliant as soon as possible. Though the full GDPR requirements are much lengthier than this article, it’s a good starting point to refining your business’ data protocols. This includes advertising and the social media realm! Prevent the excessive fines and lawsuits – get on board with the GDPR.

And while you’re in the mindset of updating your business, get in contact with an eCommerce web design company to help your users find your security policies and privacy changes with ease.

GDPR: What It Means For Your Business

How Mobility Can Reduce Healthcare Facility Costs

Having a mobile presence is no longer just a “trend,” it is expected from consumers, and more of a need in today’s digital world. By 2020, it is predicted that the revenue from mobile app’s will be around $44.8 billion.

The evolution of mobility for the healthcare space has invited many mobile app development agencies to jumpstart their processes for healthcare software development solutions.

With almost 100,000 mobile applications related to fitness and healthcare in the mobile app store, it is obvious that there is a very high demand for Chicago app developers, especially one’s proficient in healthcare mobile app development.

The real question comes down to this:

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The GSMA reported that by the end of 2017, mHealth and healthcare software solutions will reduce healthcare facility costs by $400 billion in developed countries.

But how?

Time is Money

mHealth can save countless hours, for both patients, and a healthcare facility, and in today’s era, ‘time is money’.

With the assistance of healthcare mobile app development, patients can fill out forms, schedule appointments, request prescription refills, and view treatment history, all via the internet.

Think about it, you can easily spend 20 minutes every time your at the doctor to fill out paperwork, and it can take hours to get ahold of your medical records via your doctor, and not online.

Less Resources Required

If patients are scheduling appointments through an app, requesting refills online, and asking their doctors a question through a web portal, less human resources will be required to run and maintain a doctors office or any medical facility.

Once an organization onboards a healthcare mobile application, a huge amount of time and money will be saved on human resources. What’s the need to have 4 people at the front desk of an office, if they are not being utilized?

It is also important that once an application is onboarded, that it is marketed to their patients so they use this technology to their full benefits.

Electronic Medical Records and Reports

Having access to your healthcare records, anywhere, anytime, allows less of a back-and-forth between patients and physicians. It allows individuals to access their information faster, and without the help of an office representative or a doctor.

Before technology was around, physicians and office-workers would have to enter a room with a lot of paper medical records:

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Not only is time and money wasted in this, but it is extremely inefficient, as this space can be used for additional things. And if you’re looking at it from an eco-friendly point of view, having this much physical paper isn’t very earth-friendly. 80% of Americans obtain some of the health information online; if your healthcare facility doesn’t have a way for your patients to access their records via the internet, you’re behind the technology schedule!

How Codal Can Help

Codal is a team of high-quality, Chicago app developers and user experience designers.

As a UX design company in the healthcare space, we know what it takes to design around HIPAA compliance and regulations, making Codal a great choice for any project that you want to start around healthcare software development solutions.

How Mobility Can Reduce Healthcare Facility Costs

An AI, IoT and Healthcare Intermix

Healthcare is an industry in which there is a lot of room for error, but it is one of those industries in which technology can fill in the gaps of error. Workflows and processes may not be organized, patients are being misdiagnosed, and many physicians may not have the level of accuracy that they need. Technology such as AI (Artificial Intelligence) and IoT (the Internet of Things) can trigger a complete digital transformation in healthcare.

Medical Artificial Intelligence

AI (artificial intelligence) has already started ingraining itself in the medical field, and over the years, it will most likely hold more and more importance.

According to Forbes, researchers from Mayo Clinic have already used AI to identify genomic information of a brain tumor, without a biopsy. It also helped discover attributes that are present in an MRI scan, that a physician wasn’t even able to identify. Overall, AI can allow for more accuracy than a physician can.

Soon, every patient will be ”decoded” right in front of us by using this technology. Along with assisting with diagnosis, the array of different healthcare IT solutions are also helping developing and perfecting drugs, and can even assist in the detection of insurance fraud throughout the industry.

It is truly a life-changing, and life-saving technology.

Connected Healthcare Solutions

Taking advantage of connected healthcare solutions can also improve processes, improve patient experience, and even help correctly diagnose patients. While IoT is fairly new in a lot of industries, it has entirely ingrained itself in the healthcare & medical fields, indicating a digital transformation in healthcare.

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Medical IoT is not only innovative hospitals using extremely high-tech equipment, it also includes the FitBit (and any other wearable health device), Life Alerts, and various other healthcare software solutions that are connected to the Internet and a device.

While many clinics and healthcare facilities understand how IoT can help them, and no matter how many clinics and physicians have adopted this technology into their everyday lives, there are still a handful of IoT issues that need to be overcome in order to fully take advantage of what this tech can offer.

Cybersecurity, data integration, and device management are 3 of these issues that need attention. If it is easier for you to access your health data, chances are that it is easier for any hacker as well. Along with the security issue, any facility that takes on IoT, probably will have to alter their IT departments to ensure that this new technology will be properly managed.

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New standards and regulations will be needed in order to integrate all of the data, from all of the connected medical devices being used.

So, What’s Next?

If you’re looking for a custom healthcare IT solution, a healthcare website design, or any software development for the healthcare or medical industry, check out Codal, a Chicago-based agency specializing in these types of solutions.

Companies like Codal that help develop IT solutions can also assist in tackling any of the issues that are related to IoT, or AI.

It is also crucial to hire a UX design agency that understands the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act. Knowing all of the in’s and out’s of HIPAA compliance regulations is incredibly important if you are building any type of healthcare software development solution.

An AI, IoT and Healthcare Intermix

How Color Can Affect UX

Using color at a mobile app design agency is a lot more strategic than many people think. Individuals tend to believe that the designer chooses the color that they think is the most aesthetically pleasing, or would match their industry or brand best. While many designers do have to follow a UI or branding kit, the use and strategy of color should never be overlooked.

Colors have a huge impact on a users behavior, thoughts, emotions, and mood. The success of both a digital or physical product could depend on the choice of color. Common English phrases even sometimes use colors to describe a mood, like the phrase “feeling blue.”

Research that was conducted by Colorcom shows that it does not take very long for someone to make a judgement about a product; only 90 seconds. Within those 90 seconds, majority of the judgement is based on the color. Therefore, using color theory can advance the usability and conversion rates of the product.

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Blue

Blue is an extremely common color when it comes to design. This color gives off an emotion of safety, trust, happiness and friendliness. While different shades of blue can give off different meanings, almost all shades of blue will still give off a feeling of trust. Many large enterprises use this color in their branding, such as Chase, United Airlines, Charles Schwab.

Pink

The color pink gives off a feeling of joy and playfulness. While many people think that this is a feminine color, it may not be as much as you believe. Many times, pink is used for candy, sugar-based products, often associated with innocence and youth.

Black

Black typically represents power, and is used on more serious and formal digital products. However, it is a unique color that should be used with care. Although it is powerful, it can also be used to be perceived as mysterious or frightening, but sometimes sophisticated. As a UX design agency, we know that this is a color that every design teams needs to use with caution.

Check out Chase Bank’s logo below. It includes both black and blue colors, representing power and trust, which is exactly what they want their customers to perceive.

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Green

For fairly obvious reasons, green is typically related to all things earthy and natural, and related to the environment. Many healthy food companies use their color to grab a person’s attention, white most consumers understand what this color relates to.

Since this color is pretty natural to the eye, many calls-to-actions on websites and mobile applications are green so that the user is directed right to that button. As an app development agency, we always have to strategize where calls-to-actions should be places, and how they should look in order to increase conversion rates.

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Red

Similar to black, Red should also be used for carefully. It typically will represent aggression and importance. While red can represent both love and war, it is a proven color to raise awareness, whether it is good or bad. A little bit of red can go a long way.

Any company that you hire who offer’s UI design services, or even just strictly UX services, will be able to help you strategically choose your brand colors, and choose the best places on your digital product(s) for certain colors.

How Color Can Affect UX

UX Design: How to Develop Empathy Toward Your Audience

Using empathy in design is the ability to understand the emotions, feelings and goals of the target market of any digital product. Most UX design companies will utilize empathy in their user experience design process in order to ensure that their design is going to be what a user wants and needs. Using empathy is all about collecting subjective pieces of information, and analyzing it with an unbiased mindset.

One of the best ways to collect this information, is to completely insert yourself in the context of the target market of users, put yourself in their shoes, and start gaining insights into their everyday experiences.

You can start by simply watching how people interact and behave, asking potential users a series of questions, and experiencing various things first-hand. Empathy isn’t something that would be necessarily listed under ‘user experience design services,’ however, it would be used throughout different stages of the design process.

Why is Empathy Important in UX?

Empathy is important because a user experience designer is not designing just a product, they are designing the experience that a user has while they are using a product. Therefore, a UX designer needs to understand various things about their users, not just what they expect from an app.

Instead of just understanding what a user needs to perform a task, it is crucial to learn what the user’s goals are, what they are aiming for, and how they are feeling when they try to reach those goals. In order to learn these things, getting an empathic thought is critical.

You may have experienced an interaction in your life, that later made you feel more supportive or accommodating for someone else. This is similar to empathy in design; empathic design allows the designer to understand the mindset and positioning of the user.

The risks of any product design and development is on the higher side.The rewards of product design are also very high, which is why it’s so important for a UX UI design company or software development agency to utilize empathic feelings during the design research process.

Getting Started Developing Empathy

Below are four general steps to get you started gathering insights into your users world:
Exploration and Analysis

The first step is to enter the user’s world. If your app development agency is building an iOS app for the workflow of accountants, you may not know what the day-to-day life is like in an accountant’s office. You should then start by checking out the “behind the scenes” in order to get a glimpse of the life of an accountant.

This will get your mind in the zone, and start triggering more curious thoughts.

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Immerse Yourself

The second step is to to start collecting qualitative data while you are understanding what the day-to-day is. Start completely immersing yourself into the user’s work, by talking to an array of employees at the accounting office, taking photos, and diving deeper into what a day in the life of an accounting office is.

As another example, attend a full day of meetings, whether internal, or with clients of the accounting firm to fully immerse yourself in the experiences of an accountant.

This will allow you to empathize with the experience of users, from their point of view

Create Meaning

Now it is time to start resonating with the user, using your own experiences to connect with the user and create a bigger meaning. Sometimes, this will innately happen when you’re collecting the data altogether.

For example, you may discover that the accountants are frustrated with the fact that they all do not have a centralized place to find client documents. This may resonate with an experience you had at a college where Blackboard, or any student portal was non-existent. You begin to remember the feelings this brought you, you are able to recognize the context and have empathic feelings toward the user.

Step Back

Lastly, you need to detach yourself from being a designer and start reflecting on all of your ideas that you have collected. While these empathic insights are extremely valuable, you need to translate these feelings and insights into real ideas.

Being able to empathize with the user, allows you to design a solution experience that will solve the user’s frustrations, as a perfect end-product.

Conclusion

The best way to collect the most relevant information is to completely immerse yourself into the context of the potential users of the project. Getting empathic insights from potential users means that you will be able to design an amazing experience, and overall product. Empathic-based designs will help build a data-driven portfolio for your application development agency.

UX Design: How to Develop Empathy Toward Your Audience