Two Ways to Keep Shoppers Coming Back

Repeat customers are a valuable commodity. It's seven times more expensive to find a new customer than to retain one, according to Kissmetrics. In addition, the research has found that the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 to 70 percent, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is just five to 20 percent.

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday around the corner, it's the perfect time to re-introduce your brand or store with customers who may not have made a recent purchase. Marketing automation and CRM solutions can generate follow-up emails and trigger behavioral-based campaigns to keep shoppers engaged with your store. And the new holiday shoppers you attract can be made to feel like they, too, are part of a special community well after the initial purchase is made and the holidays are packed up and put away.

Marketing Automation Helps Identify Your Advocates

Returning customers buy more and are more cost-effective than acquiring new ones, but they can also become advocates for your business. They can help you identify and bring in new customers. Marketing automation helps businesses automate repetitive marketing tasks such as emails, social media, and other website actions. It can help identify brand advocates and nurture prospects with highly personalized, useful content that helps convert prospects to customers and turn customers into delighted customers.

Nurturing leads is an important part of marketing automation. If a particular customer has shared a few of your blog posts on social media, for example, encourage this behavior by proactively sharing relevant posts with this person.

[caption id="attachment_1586775" align="alignright" width="150"]Retail marketing isn't just about making the sale - it's about winning loyal customers and establishing a brand. Retail marketing isn't just about making the sale - it's about winning loyal customers and establishing a brand.[/caption]

Never send a generic message. Always personalize content so your audience understands why specifically he or she should visit your store.

CRM Solutions

Compiling information about customer behavior in the aggregate and comparing it with data on individual customers will help discern what products a store should sell and how to market those products. A CRM solution stores every desired piece of customer data, so a business can reach and engage with every customer type. And it'll help with up-selling, too, a critical part of customer retention.

Upselling should make customers feel as though they are winning – not as if they are simply shelling out more money. CRM marketing streamlines and organizes the process: Through analysis and data mining, businesses can determine the optimal time and method to propose an upsell. Upselling is easier than selling to a customer for the first time and can help a store's revenue grow faster.

Grow your bottom line efficiently by reaching out to past and repeat customers. Make it clear why you deserve these customers business, and why you offer a better value proposition than competitors. Most importantly, let them know how they'll profit too, because, after all, everyone wants to be a winner.

Omnichannel Strategies Are a Gift for Retailers



Looks like store traffic is expected to be on the rise this holiday season.

Recent studies from AlixPartners, Deloitte and KPMG are predicting in-store sales will rise approximately 4% this year.

Despite some retail store closures this year, only 6% of those surveyed by AlixPartners said that would cause them to reconsider the purchase.

Rather, 36% of consumers said they’d simply shop competitors.

Retailers can best position themselves to win this holiday by providing customers with integrated omnichannel strategies.

However, not all multi-channel experiences are omnichannel.

Having online ordering, a brick-and-mortar storefront and a social media presence is simply having a multichannel strategy.

To have a true omnichannel experience, the retailer must provide the customer with a seamless experience and consistent messaging across each of channels.

In particular, millennials want to be able to start shopping at any touchpoint — online, mobile or in-store — and end the transaction at any other point in the sales process.

An example of omnichannel success is U.K.-based Oasis.

The retailer's associates are equipped with tablets to provide immediate answers to customer questions on the sales floor.

The handhelds also act as cash registers, and out of stock items can be instantly ordered online for home delivery.

Many retailers have realized the devastating impact poor inventory management can have: Customers are often unwilling to go back to a store that is out of a desired product and that makes no effort to locate it.

As a result, retailers have invested in inventory visibility.

Analytics along with inventory tracking software takes the pressure off retailers because it eliminates the guessing about how to allocate stock.

They can plan more accurately and locate products in other store locations quickly and accurately.

Retailers should take advantage of customers' desire to holiday shop in person by increasing efforts to drive customers into their stores.

Standing apart from the competition is critical.

Some will respond by offering exclusive merchandise, others by providing engaging experiences.

Knowledgeable and helpful sales associates are always a plus.

And there's also price.

For millennials, the fastest growing shopping segment, price has the greatest influence.

Quality, brand, store and availability are important but in the end, price rules, likely because they have the ability instantly to price compare and save on almost anything they buy.

Retailers, therefore, need to offer competitive pricing as well as more value than consumers can obtain on Amazon, Google or other large retail outlets.

Omnichannel experiences are key to retaining customers and perhaps regaining sales previously lost to online.


All Things Retail Webcast: Promotions


When competing for a share of shoppers’ hearts and wallets, promotions are a good way to increase traffic and sales, which in turn can help you become more profitable. Promotions draw in new customers and infrequent shoppers, and all those socially-oblivious laggards who just don’t see the need to shop with you (until now ???? ).

To help make your customer hunt a little easier, this month’s All Things Retail webcast talks about the kinds of promotions you can create with Retail Pro enterprise retail software. Retail Pro is designed to for ultimate flexibility so you can tailor your retail management software to your business operations, and the promotions capabilities in Retail Pro are no exception.

Retail Pro promotions come with 8 types of promotions out of the box:

  1. BOGO
  2. Coupon
  3. Item
  4. Pack
  5. Quantity
  6. Rolling
  7. Tiered
  8. Transaction

These promotions can be used on their own or in any combination of promotions, which means you have total control over creating and testing as many diverse and complex promotions as your marketing team can throw at you.

When you choose the type of promotion you will run, you get to set the activation rules that will trigger your promotion to be automatically applied to a customer’s transaction. You can set the start and end date and determine to which products the promotion will apply. You can also choose to activate the promotion for all or distinct subsidiaries, brands, countries, or business entities within your enterprise.

Next, you set the validation rules. These rules validate whether the customer’s purchases qualify for the promotion. The promotion can be activated by your choice of any of the following criteria:

  • At the sale of a particular item or combination of items
  • When a set threshold amount is met at the sale subtotal
  • If the customer uses a coupon
  • If the customer meets a particular qualification, i.e. if the customer is part of your loyalty program, etc.

These validation rules allow you to cast the promotion for as broad or as targeted a group as you determine is profitable for your business.

Once validation rules are set, you can then set the reward rules, which determine what reward and how much of it the customer would get for meeting the reward rules.

Retail Pro POS tracks the redemption of the reward, helping you get a better report on the promotion’s performance.

Careful planning and solid promotions tactics can play a significant part in converting a shopper from someone who’s only ever walked past your store to a repeat customer who loves the way your products fit their life and will buy from you even when you’re not having a sale.

So how do you create the kind of promotions that encourage good shopping habits?

That may be a question for business psychologists and your marketing team, and definitely will depend on your business’ unique circumstances and brand value in consumers’ eyes – but it’s evident that promotions impact retail operations in critical ways.

Historical data sets tracking sales during and after promotions show that customers resume normal purchase habits once a promotion is complete. Whatever your promotions strategy, it’s best to think long term – creating customer purchase habits rather than simply meeting this quarter’s sales goals.

1. Promotions create buzz; buzz creates customers.

JC Penney abandoned their long-lived coupon strategy in favor of everyday low prices and experienced disheartening sales and earnings. At a time when everything is accessible for less on Amazon, JC Penney’s coupons played a critical role in generating the buzz that would bring shoppers to their stores.

Once that buzz fizzled away, so did discount-trained shoppers, and everyday low prices became everyday low sales.

2. Supply chain and replenishment blunders can cripple promotion performance.

Promotions put pressure on your supply chain operations and retailers are often left with an unprofitable inventory glut or lack in the post-promotion period. Sales exceeding your forecast sounds like a positive problem to face, but stock outs leave mean lost sales both during and after the promotion. Retailers must be responsive and on top of their replenishment game.

Of course, for some retailers, stock outs are part of the strategy to create buzz. Ty in the 1990s stringently controlled the supply of Beanie Babies available to the public, even discontinuing toys rising in popularity to spur frenzied sales over scarce supply.

3. Promotions affect sales for other products, and creative inventory management

Promotions influence sales for other products, and smart inventory management can help you maximize its positive effects. When preparing for the promotions period, order more complementary, non-competing products, since basket analysis often shows a lift in sales of these items due to the halo effect. For example, a promotion on jackets can cause an increase in scarf sales in cooler months.

The same promotion can cause cannibalization of sales for items in the same category, so order less of the competing item for the period of the promotion. The pull-forward effect can also impact post-promotion sales, especially for commodities like laundry detergent, which has a long shelf life. This occurs when shoppers stock up on the sale item, causing a hiccup in their regular purchase frequency and therefore lower sales in the months following the promotion.

Promotions are important elements in the retailer-customer relationship, and how you set expectations today can impact how your business performs for decades to come. In any case, you can count on Retail Pro to give you the flexibility you need to create the promotions strategy that makes most sense for your business.


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Mobile Marketing Must Be In Your Future

DeathtoStock_Creative Community5

Are you marketing your business without acknowledging that a vast majority of your shoppers are mobile-equipped? That means you could be communicating with them far more than simply when they venture into your store. With roughly 80% of internet users owning smartphones, and 40% of users' internet time being spent on mobile devices, retailers need to incorporate mobile into their marketing mix.

Researchers are predicting that smartphones will account for 60 percent of e-commerce visits by the end of 2017. Mobile is disrupting how customers engage with brands. That means retailers shying away from mobile marketing will be left behind as customers increasingly report wanting to interact with their favorite stores on mobile platforms.

Ideally, a mobile strategy connects shoppers with retailers through smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. Mobile customers can ask customer service agents questions, chat with agents, and get personalized information, including recent account statements and in-stock inventory.

Retailers can build loyalty programs into mobile marketing efforts to encourage customer trial and create shopping habits.

There are several ways of integrating mobile into your strategy:

App-based: Retailers don't have to create an app themselves; various services are available to help design mobile ads that appear within third-party mobile apps. And Facebook lets advertisers create ads that are integrated into the social network's mobile app. Promoted Post ads integrate seamlessly with Facebook's news feed, so users often don't realize they're viewing ads.

In-game: These appear within mobile games as banner pop-ups, full-page image ads or sometimes as video ads that are visible between loading screens.

Location-based marketing: Advertisements appear on mobile devices based upon a user's location. If they are in the mall where your business is located, they'll receive a coupon as a text message, for example. Retailers choose specific boundaries on how far these ads can travel.

Mobile ordering: Offering ordering via an app is a great differentiator for a retailer. Customers expect a seamless experience, so building a robust app is crucial. The mobile order experience should include the elements of an in-store order within the app: view full menu, customize items, make a mobile payment, and complete the order.

It's a mobile-first world, with increasing numbers of shoppers using their devices to complete or research purchases. The time is now to start building —or improving — your mobile presence.

3 Tips for Using Your Retail Data to Attract More Customers

Two women shopping


For retailers, much of the work that goes into making a sale is done before your customer ever sets foot in your store. Here are 3 tips for using your retail data to attract more customers.


1. Use outbound marketing as a targeted follow-up to inbound marketing.

Fresh, high-quality content is available to sales prospects 24/7. Whether it's on the web, in stores, or via email, information is out there, waiting to be consumed by eager customers. Savvy retailers are using their content assets to attract customers, and it's working: Interesting, relevant material attracts leads to a business' site, social media presence and/or store. That content must position your company as a market leader. Valuable content that informs the customer is key. The more specific your content, the more focused you can be.

2. Collect data on your customer.

To really provide such highly focused, relevant content, you must understand customers' interests and tastes, as well as their demographic information. Only then can you tailor both your content, which attracts customers, and the message, which will be used to close the sale. Outbound marketing only succeeds when it reaches the appropriate audience. Personalized campaigns can go a long way when you are courting a customer. Let the data you gather help inform the way you engage with customers.

3. Use predictive analytics.

Look back and use past performance to gauge future sales. Predictive analytics examines a variety of data and then systematically offers the makeup of the best leads. Big data crunching can help find those sweet spots invisible to the naked eye. In addition, sales teams knowledgeable in the science of data analytics can gain insight into purchasing triggers. Paying attention to small triggers can get your retail marketing campaigns out ahead of the competition's.




Making the Most of Your Social Media Presence


[caption id="attachment_1674183" align="aligncenter" width="650"] Understanding how social media influences consumers' attitudes, motivations and behaviors is more important than ever.[/caption]

Referrals are the lifeblood of retail. Having a satisfied customer base that will sing your praises is worth more than an ad campaign by the most sought-after advertising firm on Madison Avenue. People are more than five times as likely to buy based on a recommendation from a social peer than they are when they've merely been exposed to traditional forms of marketing, according to research from consumer giant Sony.

Today, referrals are made easier due to the proliferation of social media.

Understanding how social media influences consumers' attitudes, motivations and behaviors is more important than ever. Social platforms are uniquely able to broadcast satisfaction from New York to Nepal. Retailers who embrace social media — and use it to interact with customers as well as engage so-called "influencers" - are finding it's a valuable marketing tool.

More than any other age group, millennials use social media to research their potential purchases. In The Monogram Group's August 2014 survey of 21-to-32-year-old internet users in the United States, 52% cited social sites among places where they gathered information about “new products or brands that interest you.” That ranked higher than paid advertising (41%).

Many conversations take place on various social platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snap Chat, etc., prior to any purchase is actually made. It's impossible to overestimate the importance of social media in business: It's critical for getting their brands noticed as well as creating "buzz."

Segments have key influencers -- people that are tastemakers. What they say online sells -- so find them and forge a relationship. Getting on their radar will greatly amplify your marketing message ad enhance your image with customers. Forging a relationship with an influencer, or getting mentioned in their blogs, could build your company's reputation. To find influencers, engage with your customers: Which blogs do they read? Also, search on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for keywords relevant to your segment to learn which of those accounts have the most followers. Social-listening software can also be used to flag certain topics of interest.

Seventy-six percent of retailers are spending more on social media marketing this year than they did a year ago, according to Forrester Research Inc.’s report “The State of Retailing Online 2016: Marketing and Merchandising.” Increasingly, retailers are taking a cue from millennials and rather than selling them products, they are aiming to add value to their consumers’ lives by solving problems. And one of the most focused ways to do that is through a targeted, engaging presence on social media.

Millennials and the Importance of Authenticity


Millennials are coming on strong. Retailers expect Millennials – who were born between 1976 and 1994 -- to spend more than $200 billion annually starting in 2017. Further, they are projected to spend more than $10 trillion during their lifetimes, according to Advertising Age.

Millennials currently account for $1.3 trillion in consumer spending, and with 80 million potential millennial customers, retailers will be rewarded if they can attract this segment.

AdAge estimates these young adults spend 25 hours online weekly. They are gathering information — retaining what is appealing, discarding what is not. To avoid having your content in land in the virtual recycle bin, it must be authentic.

Authentic means more than just being unique or having originated from your store. Rather, authentic means that the content "rings true" to the consumer. It is written in a manner that is familiar to the millennial, and that gives it credibility. Content that is not authentic sounds phony or forced and turns off this age group.

What that means is that most traditional advertising sounds fake to Millennials. According to Forbes research, a mere 1% of millennials surveyed said that a compelling advertisement would make them trust a brand more. One percent. Clearly, advertising budgets for this group need to be rethought.

However, remember all that time spent consuming content on the Web? Much of that is spent doing research on future purchases. Forbes said 33% of millennials rely mostly on blogs before they make a purchase, compared to fewer than 3% for TV news, magazines and books.

If you are looking to invest in TV commercials, you're looking to attract baby boomers, not millennials.

In addition, millennials check sources of material for their authenticity as well. If they trust the content creator, they'll trust the information.

All of that is great information to keep in mind when creating any marketing collateral for your company — and that includes social sites. It's imperative to have a presence on the networks that make sense for your business, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

And millennials expect nearly instant responses to their comments: Getting back to a complaint on Facebook two days later is not acceptable. In addition, those responses must be personal and respectful.

Whole Foods offers a great example (click to enlarge):


Seriously, if Whole Foods can reveal itself as truly caring about a customer's trash bag selection, you can surely create authentic content about your product as well.

Ensuring retail success in the post-peak era

[caption id="attachment_1674143" align="aligncenter" width="700"]shutterstock_122884453 Retailers have been pushing to extend peak seasons like Christmas to gain more sales, but modern consumers shop on their own schedule and retailers must adapt and cater to their off-season needs.[/caption]

By Kerry Lemos, CEO, Retail Pro International


Christmas coming earlier every year might be a cliché for most people, but for the retail industry it’s a simple fact.

We’re already seeing retailers prepare for the festive season, identifying the key products that will be this year’s must-haves and gearing up their Christmas campaigns.

This is very much in line with the traditional retail business models built around spikes in activity brought on by peak shopping periods. With stock piled high and temporary recruits boosting numbers on the shop floor, activity can be ramped up for a few weeks before returning to normal levels.

In recent years, however, these peaks have become much less well-defined.

Take Christmas, for instance. The season now covers much more than just a few weeks. It now spans the extended period from the build-up to Thanksgiving through to Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the January sales, where some retailers might hope to do half of their annual business.

This period of retail chaos means retailers are in direct competition for the same limited number of festive shoppers for an increasing amount of time, with both shoppers’ attention and supply chains becoming squeezed.


A new world

At the same time, Christmas is no longer the only peak period retailers need to be aware of.

In the UK, the growth of festivals such as Eid, Diwali and the Chinese New Year has introduced new periods that retailers may need to prepare for. Beyond these major festivals, there are other times of the year that could be seen as a peak period to some, or all, of the population, from the first day of spring to the beginning and end of the summer holidays.

What all of these periods show is that many retailers’ approach to consumers needs to change. Customers cannot be treated as a single mass who all shop at the same time, in the same way, and for the same things.

Focusing attention on a single, defined peak period is a strategy that retailers must move on from: individuals have their own approach to shopping, and as such have developed their own personal peak shopping periods.


Giving the public what they want


The question for retailers then is, how do they support these individual peak periods without losing the ability to maximize the potential of established shopping seasons?

Here are 3 actions retailers can take that will tip the odds in their favor.


Cross channels

We haven’t just seen an evolution in when people shop, but in how they shop. Customers won’t restrict their peak shopping period to simply visiting a select number of brick-and-mortar stores.

On the other hand, few consumers will do a hundred percent of their shopping online, instead welcoming the opportunity to browse for certain items in the flesh. Retailers should ensure these customers have a seamless experience, whether shopping online or in-store, with access to the same information and interactions however they purchase their products.

Ideally, a customer should be able to begin their shop in-store and complete it online, or vice versa, in a consistent, omnichannel exchange.


Map the landscape

With “peak” periods becoming more of a constant presence, it’s important that retailers understand exactly when these periods happen.

For instance, the Christmas period now begins in November and ends in January; but within this, there are individual days which show still-increased activity or relative slowdowns.

Not only this, but retailers must decide how they switch to peak periods; does activity accelerate overnight, or is there a slow build-up and deceleration to ensure they can attract shoppers who are operating on a slightly different timetable?


Build profiles

While predicting and supporting the shopping habits of every single individual is beyond the reach of retailers, they should still ensure they have categorised how their customers behave in peak periods and act accordingly.

For example, what proportion of shoppers do their holiday shopping early, and which wait until the last minute? How many spread their shopping across the whole period, and how many spend everything on one or two occasions? And when exactly do their customers flock to the store?

Using this information, retailers can build profiles of their customers and anticipate their needs throughout the year as appropriate.


By offering an omnichannel experience, mapping out the peak calendar and ensuring they have profiled their customers, retailers can ensure that they are supporting peak shopping for all their customers; whether it happens at Christmas or Candlemas.


Building your omnichannel strategy?

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Do You Offer a ‘Wow’ Shopping Experience?

[caption id="attachment_1674140" align="aligncenter" width="700"]shutterstock_212753965 Much like their marketing strategies, sales procedures and product development efforts, retailers must put time into creating the ideal customer experience.[/caption]

It's one thing for a retailer to announce it wants to create a more experiential experience for customers, and quite another to do it.

Talk of creating a compelling retail experience has been around for several years, driven in large part by the competition to brick and mortars by e-commerce. In a day and age in which shoppers can shop quickly and efficiently online, retailers need to offer customers a compelling reason to step foot inside a real building.

The irony is that experiential shopping isn't new, rather, it harkens back to a golden age. Back in the 1950s and 60s, shopping was an event. Stores provided hair salons and restaurants for "ladies who lunch," for example. While clientele has changed greatly in the past 60+ years, the lesson to be learned is that shoppers enjoy being catered to. Retailers that build memorable experiences will be rewarded with larger shopping carts and loyal customers.

Case in point: Ulta, a purveyor of beauty products, has found it very profitable to provide customers an entire spectrum of items, some costing pocket change and others the price of a fancy dinner for two. The reason Ulta has become a destination, explained a Wall Street Journal reporter to NPR recently, is that it took the bold step of including such a wide array of products. Typically, manufacturers are loath to share floor space with brands that are elsewhere on the value chain, i.e., luxury and bargain brands don't mix. But at Ulta, they do. And customers are thrilled.

Ulta management theorized that women who use a $8 mascara might want to come in and buy that product — and perhaps also indulge in something new or "special." Combining that idea with free services such as mini-makeovers, and they had a winning formula. As a result, revenue rose nearly 24-percent last quarter, and a total of 970 stores are planned by the end of the year.

The strategy not only exemplifies how destination shopping can improve the bottom line, but it also speaks to the importance of promoting complementary purchases. In essence, Ulta counted on customers making at least one "impulse" buy while they were at the store: that mascara could use eyeliner; this foundation might benefit from concealer, etc.

In addition, the personal touch is not forced, rather, it is sought after by the customer. Associates greet each guest, and they offer to apply products and make suggestions -- all at the request of the shopper. The customer is enjoying herself, doesn't feel harassed and feels in control.

And that is a beautiful retail experience.



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The Critical Issue of Out-Of-Stocks


One of the top complaints retailers hear from customers is the lack of product, or “out of stocks.” Few things are more aggravating for a shopper than arriving at a store and finding that the desired product is unavailable. In response to sagging sales as a result of empty shelves, mega-retailer Target is aiming to take control of the supply-chain problems and shore up its customer satisfaction as well as sales.

[caption id="attachment_1667521" align="alignright" width="150"]Online retailers and brick-and-mortar shops alike depend on good inventory management to run an efficient business. Online retailers and brick-and-mortar shops alike depend on good inventory management to run an efficient business.[/caption]

A study from IHL Group last year reported that overstocks and out-of-stocks cost retailers $1.1 trillion globally in lost revenue. Inventory management systems can help, because they inform managers what products are hot sellers. However, some products are must-haves for retailers to carry: For grocers, it might be ketchup, for an office supply store it could be reams of paper. Those are staples that have to be there no matter what. Barren shelves are an issue that, for instance, Wal-mart is criticized for frequently, and that Target has been under fire for recently as well.

But while Walmart’s woes seem to be related to being short-staffed and, therefore, unable to move inventory from the stockroom to the sales floor, Target’s stem from inventory management. There simply isn’t product in the stockroom to display. Last summer, during a conference call with investors, CEO Brian Cornell blamed the inventory problem on an antiquated supply chain strategy that didn’t account for a multi-channel approach to selling. The ability to buy online and pickup in store (BOPIS) had successfully depleted brick and mortar supplies. As a result, Cornell has since launched a strategy designed to take control of the supply chain — which previously had largely been outsourced — to get products onto shelves and into customer’s baskets.

The importance of customer satisfaction in this realm was not lost on the newly minted Chief Operating Officer John Mulligan, who was promoted from the role of Chief Financial Officer. ”Given the breadth and complexity of the business, it will always be a challenge to be in stock on every item in every store... but our guests need us to be consistent in delivering everyday essentials," Mulligan told Business Advisor.

What Target is learning is that while those products need to be available, not every permutation of the product has to be stocked. For example, how many types of bottled water are needed to satisfy customers? How many bottles does each “case” have to have? Will a shopper walk out if the 16.9 oz. bottles are only available in a 24 pack?

Target is betting that narrowing those types of selections will be acceptable to customers and easier for the stores to manage. It seems to be working: Fortune reported that out-of-stocks were down a whopping 40% during the holiday shopping period. In addition, e-commerce sales rose 34% during the holiday shopping season, according to Some of the resulting profit will likely fund Target’s expanding use of RFID for inventory, which will enable the retailer to wirelessly track products in stores, warehouses and en route to customers.

All of which shows just how interconnected multichannel commerce truly is: Keeping the shelves stocked on Main Street will keep shopping carts filled on the ground, as well as online.