Andrea has written 37 articles so far, you can find them below.
Andrea is originally from Vancouver (not Canada), Washington (not D.C.) but currently resides in Seattle, WA as she finishes up her last two quarters at Seattle Pacific University. Majoring in communications and minoring in business administration, Andrea has big dreams of a career in public relations. When not writing for Zippycart or studying for class (hah!) she enjoys the chaos of living in a house with 5 other girls. Follow her adventures on Twitter: @andrea_ruge
January 3, 2012
By the ZippyCart Content Team
The 2011 holiday shopping season is officially over and retailers have shifted their focus to the heaps of holiday gift returns coming in as we begin the New Year. Holiday returns are up 8% this year from the same time last year, which is due to more confident consumers and a 15% increase in online shopping profits this holiday season. Consumers engaged in more online spending this year than ever before resulting in $35.3 billion in ecommerce sales between Nov. 1 and Dec. 25.
Along with increased confidence in ecommerce spending, this year marked the first time since the financial crisis in 2008 that consumers have been notably less price sensitive during the holiday shopping season. According to a survey released last week by ForeSee, a customer experience analytics firm, free shipping, above competitive pricing, increased consumer satisfaction. The study found that Americans were less price sensitive during the 2011 holiday shopping season. Along with finding shoppers were less price sensitive this past holiday season, the study also highlighted the benefits of increased Customer satisfaction such as increased sales, loyalty, and positive word-of-mouth recommendations.
According to ForeSee, Amazon leads the pack in customer satisfaction, which is likely due to a combination of marketing efforts, customer service, inventory and competitive prices.
Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee, commented on Amazon’s unyielding success:
“E-retailers have consistently upped their game since we first started measuring holiday satisfaction in 2005, but Amazon is still the 800-pound gorilla of retail, and it just keeps getting better. It’s tough for a smaller retailer to compete with this level of dedication to providing an excellent customer experience.”
Although Amazon is known for competitive prices, retailers should shift their focus from a price-battle to a battle for customer satisfaction through different avenues. Freed also explained, “The aggressive promotions and discounts helped sales, but consumers wanted more from retailers.”
There are several ways (excluding price) e-tailers can ensure customers are highly satisfied with their online shopping experience. There are 4 categories that are particularly prevalent when it comes to customer satisfaction on ecommerce websites. These include:
- Free Shipping. As explored in ForeSee’s study, free shipping attracted many customers to spend their money online this holiday season. Free shipping is great for ecommerce solutions because it not only initially entices shoppers, but also provides and outstanding customer experience. There can be challenges that arise with offering free shipping, but oftentimes it is an explicit expectation of shoppers.
- Experience. Sites that are easy to navigate and provide useful and accurate information provide high customer satisfaction.
- Convenience. In a face-paced and busy culture, shoppers look for ecommerce conveniences like 24/7 availability and one-click checkout. If your shopping cart is not optimized for consumer convenience, satisfaction rates decline.
- Reliability. Do items ship quickly? Are consumers getting what they expect? Website reliability increases consumer confidence in your ecommerce solution and is a primary factor leading to customer satisfaction.
December 27, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Shopify app SumAll has completed an analysis of current Shopify customers providing insight on rising prices, increasing discounts, and decreased shipping costs. The study was conducted over four years (2007-2011) and derived findings from 30 million transactions from stores powered by Shopify.
Overall the data shows retailers are making more net revenue on each unit sold, while charging less on shipping and taxes. The average total revenue per unit has risen 12.3% from 2010 to 2011, and 73.9% from 2007 to 2011. As the graphic below illustrates, consumers spent an average of $19.86 per item purchased online in 2007 compared to and average of $39.37 in 2011.
The research from SumAll suggests the factors contributing to this jump in average spending over the past four years are inflation and a shift in items. The study determined a combination of consumer confidence in purchasing expensive items online and minor price inflation have resulted in increased consumer spending on ecommerce solutions throughout the past four years. Consumers’ enthusiastic adoption of mobile technology, tablets and daily deal sites have also significantly added to the growth of ecommerce spending, particularly in the past year.
The research also included interesting facts regarding discounts and shipping. From 2007 to 2011 the average discount percentage per unit sold has increased from an average of 11% to an average of over 19%. Daily deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial have drawn in the masses by offering deep discounts. Discounts and savings appeal to shoppers who love to feel like they are getting a good deal. In 2012, ecommerce retailers can attract consumers by showing them it’s not how much you spend, it’s how much you save that constitutes a good deal. SumAll offers this advice to e-tailers looking to draw in shoppers:
“Markup, then discount–perception is everything.”
Cheap or free shipping has been a primary angle retailers have been taking in 2011 to create a perception of discounts. Although SumAll found that shipping fees have actually risen 24.3% from 2007 to 2011, relative shipping rates have fallen. Gross sales have risen significantly faster than shipping costs (73.9% from 2007 to 2011), which has caused shipping relative to the purchase to fall from 11.7% and 8.6%. According to the study, free shipping offers can decrease cart abandonment by 20%.
Below is a graphic from SumAll that represents some of the key findings of this holiday shopping analysis.
Further research on holiday shopping this year shows an increase in the amount of people who continued their online shopping on Christmas Day. Although brick-and-mortar stores may have been closed for the holiday, many people logged onto retailers’ ecommerce solutions. In fact, IBM reported yesterday a 16.4% increase in the amount of shoppers making purchases and the dollar amount of those purchases made on mobile devices was up 179.2% from 2010. We’ll see if this crop of consumer confidence continues to rise or levels out as we ring in the new year.
December 22, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
The concept of linking sales to non-profits is a swiftly growing phenomenon. Websites like Nonprofitshoppingmall.com and GoodShop.com allow consumers to donate to charities through their ecommerce purchases using a click-through technology. Although these websites have been around for the past decade, their success has been limited and slow-growing. However, new ecommerce solution Sharing Spree has seen large growth in just under a years’ time with their unique twist of combining daily deals with philanthropy.
While, Nonprofitshoppingmall.com and GoodShop.com lead shoppers to external ecommerce solutions and make donations from commission, Sharing Spree takes on the Groupon and LivingSocial daily deal model. Sharing Spree offers daily deal and helps consumers give back by donating 10-15% of every sale to a school or non-profit. Just like Groupon, users find location-specific deals that are only offered for a limited time. The difference, however, is that with every consumer purchase Sharing Spree makes a donation to a charity of the shopper’s choice. The site has contracts with popular large charities like American Cancer Society and Meals of Wheels in addition to many local causes that are often overlooked when it comes to donating.
Officially launched in June 2010, Sharing Spree boasts a motto of “buying, giving and living locally.” Sharing Spree supports local communities by offering daily discounts for restaurants, spas, bars, theaters, sporting events, retails, hotels and more. Since January of this year, Sharing Spree has seen a 500% subscriber base growth, which has generated over $225,000 in donations to various non-profits and schools. consumers can decide which organizations receive their donations by simply choosing from a list on Sharing Spree’s website.
Timothy Moorehead, vice president of marketing for Sharing Spree had this to say in a recent press release about the creative ecommerce solution:
“Great causes are all around us, but the harsh economic climate during the past few years has forced many people—especially those already living on a shoestring budget—to put charitable donations at the bottom of their financial to-do list. We are thrilled to add a charitable twist to the daily deal phenomenon to help non-profits and schools boost donations.”
Although the current state of the economy has caused non-profits to suffer due to a lack of donations, the daily deal market continues to thrive. Sharing Spree has successfully leveraged the prosperous daily deal market in order to boost donations to charities and help out local communities.
Sharing Spree currently offers daily deals in Portland, Ore., Nashville, Tenn., and Birmingham, Ala. The unique ecommerce solution plans to expand their market and begin launching daily deals in other cities across the United States throughout the next year.
December 21, 2011
Guest post By Michael Dolen, founder and CEO of CreditCardForum
How much does your eStore pay for card processing? Unfortunately the answer is rarely clear-cut. There are many factors that go into the calculation of card credit card processing fees:
1. Your Business Type – What are you selling and to whom? Some industries are more prone to fraud and chargebacks from customers and in turn, they tend to pay higher fees. Be careful because come card processing companies are all too anxious to classify your ecommerce business for a higher risk category when in actuality, you might be eligible for a lower risk (and lower cost) classification.
2. Customer Card Types – In a nutshell, the fancier the card, the more it will cost you. When you see processing fees advertised, sometimes they are only referencing the lowest tier (such as a basic Visa card with no rewards program). However these days of course, almost everyone uses cash back and travel credit cards, so make sure you pay attention to how much those will cost. If your ecommerce is mainly selling B2B then you will likely have a lot of customers using business credit cards with rewards. These are usually the #1 most expensive type to process so if you expect a lot of business customers, pay close attention to the processing fees for business credit cards.
3. Transaction Types – According to Paypal, online stores experience fraud 17 times more often than offline stores. I’ve heard other statistics that are lower but regardless, it’s safe to conclude that online fraud is prevalent. For this reason, ecommerce credit card processing companies often charge a bit more for online stores, compared to what a brick and mortar store might pay.
4.Transaction Times – Another factor which can influence fees is the amount of time between when the purchase is authorized and when it is actually settled. In many instances the purchase is charged at time of authorization, but if there will be an extended delay in shipping or the customer is first signing up for a free trial, the time between authorization and settlement will be greater and might cost more.
There can literally be hundreds – if not thousands – of combinations when you take all the variables into account. This is why you really need to shop around and compare the fine print from each company. The best way to do so (which I have recommended to people on my forum) is to use ZippyCart’s partnership with Fee Fighters where you can see competing card processing offers since by side. Go here to find out how much you can save.
Bundling Card Processing + Shopping Cart?
There are some companies out there which peddle ecommerce credit card processing and a shopping cart bundled together. From my experience this is rarely the way to go. Why? Because they may reel you in with a free or low cost shopping cart but then charge an arm and a leg for your processing fees… so in the end you might not be saving anything.
Worse yet, the bundle may be structured in a way which prevents you from canceling part of it. For example, if you wanted to keep using the shopping cart but switch to a different credit card processor, that might not be an option.
My recommendation? If it’s a free cart you are after, then check out these free shopping cart software reviews (no bundling required). Or compare shopping carts side by side. But whatever you do, don’t just limit your options to those bundled cart + credit card packages.
About the Author:
Michael founded CreditCardForum.com, a site where consumers rank and review the best credit cards for cash back, travel rewards, and every other category under the sun.
December 16, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Ecommerce solution eBay coined the term “Green Monday” in 2007 to describe the second Monday in December, which for the past six years has marked the most (or second-most in 2005 and 2007) profitable shopping day of the year for online retailers. “Green Monday” has been exceptionally profitable for the past several years, but this holiday shopping season has blown previous season’s out of the water and merits the more appropriate name of “Manic Mondays.”
According to a study released by ComScore, the past 3 Mondays have all seen ecommerce profits exceeding $1 billion. Cyber Monday saw record breaking sales amounting to $1.25 billion, which, according to ComScore’s report, was followed by $1.17 billion in sales on Monday December 5, and sales of $1.13 billion this past Monday, December 12. This year’s string of “Manic Monday” sales mark the three most profitable online shopping days of 2011 and the continuing holiday success for ecommerce solutions.
In total, holiday shopping (from Nov. 1 to Dec. 12) has so far reached nearly $25 billion, up 15 percent from the same period last year. ComScore also reported a record of $6.1 billion spent in just last week ending December 11.
The most profitable product category this holiday season has been digital content and subscriptions, with a growth rate double that of the online sector as a whole. Jewelry and watches is the second-fastest growing category and consumer electronics led by flat screen TV’s and tablets rounds out the third.
Holiday ecommerce in the U.S. is expected to remain steady and increase 15 percent this year compared to the same time in 2010. The gains in online commerce significantly shadows the 2 to 3 percent gains predicted for overall retail sales this holiday season.
ComScore chairman Gian Fulgoni commented on this year’s holiday spending:
“These highlights represent another very positive sign for the holiday shopping season, as the week following ‘Cyber Week’ often experiences relative softness in spending momentum due to retailers pulling back on their promotional activity. As we enter what will be the heaviest week of the season for online retailers – beginning with ‘Green Monday’ on December 12 – all signs are now pointing to a strong finish to the season.”
Ecommerce accounts for less 5 percent of consumer spending, leaving ecommerce solutions like eBay and Amazon to vie for shopper’s business by offering discounts and daily promotions. eBay opened up several pop-up stores for shoppers who want to check out products in-person before making purchase and shoppers have seen more free shipping offers than ever from Amazon this year.
December 14, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
TapBuy is a new technology that aims to simplify the m-commerce checkout process and increase conversion rates. Available now to retailers, developers, and shopping aggregators, TapBuy facilitates a quick and easy sales conversion by storing shopper’s billing and shipping information. TapBuy technology can be integrated into retailer’s mobile apps, which then allows shoppers to make purchases from a series of supported apps and merchants with just a few taps.
Mobile commerce conversions are often prevented due to the inconvenience for shoppers to input all of their information. Typing out usernames, passwords, billing and skipping addresses and credit card information on small mobile devices is meticulous and time consuming. This is a major factor in poor m-commerce conversion rates in comparison to desktop ecommerce. In trials TapBuy’s quick-checkout technology has increased sales conversions for retailers up to 15 times. Conversion rates are increased due to the convenient platform TapBuy provides. Shoppers only have to enter their personal information one time and it is then saved by TapBuy. Once information is stored, mobile shoppers can checkout from any TapBuy-enabled app/merchant by typing their PIN.
TapBuy is a great tool to ensure mobile commerce thrives in 2012. M-commerce is swiftly gaining popularity, which is seen by the 516% increase in global mobile payments this Black Friday in comparison to Black Friday 2010. In addition, more shoppers than ever are browsing ecommerce solutions on mobile devices.
TapBuy also works behind the scenes to group consumers’ items in order to save shipping costs. This technology also helps consumer’s save money by tracking coupon codes and automatically adding them to customer orders.
TheFind Mobile, a shopping aggregator application based in San Francisco, is thus far the first customer to integrate TapBuy technology into their checkout process. TheFind is a popular in-store shopping app for smartphones that features bar code scanning and text search with online and local price comparison creating a helpful shopping companion. TheFind’s integration of TapBuy technology ensures customers will enjoy a secure and simple checkout process.
Ramneek Bhasin, VP & GM Mobile at TheFind, commented on the company’s use of TapBuy technology:
“The primary point of friction in mobile commerce is that entering a credit card number and shipping information onto a tiny screen is very cumbersome. By integrating TapBuy, we remove this point of friction for merchants, and are able to bring new deal discovery elements into our app.”
Currently, TheFind application is available on both iPhone and Android platforms.
December 13, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Ecommerce campaigns are more effective at driving more sales in brick and mortar stores than online store fronts. According to a two year long study recently completed by RevTrax, paid search and display ads generate $6 of offline retail spending for every $1 of ecommerce spending. Although revenue in any channel is great, the results from RevTrax’s study raises the issue of ecommerce campaigns failing to receive compensation for offline revenue generated by online advertising.
Currently ecommerce campaigns are only getting acknowledged for the online spending they generate. Because paid search ads have historically been focused on ecommerce spending, the revenue they are generating offline gets overlooked.
Also, the effectiveness of paid search for local sales is difficult to track. However, with the increasing presence of smartphones online to offline tracking is made more possible.
In order to effectively track cross-channel buying behaviors and their relationship to paid search and display ads, RevTrax conducted a involved study lasting 2 full years. Between August 2009 and August 2011, RevTrax tracked millions of paid search ads and the offline sales they generated for retailers. RevTrax conducted the study by displaying a paid search ad to shoppers, which led to a landing page with either a printable or mobile coupon with a unique bar code. The use of these coupons in brick and mortar retail locations was then tracked and traced back to the online search and specific keyword used. The average transaction size for participants in the report was less than $200. At the conclusion of the study, it is apparent that consumers are comfortable with both ecommerce and brick and mortar shopping, but still indicate a strong preference of shopping in-store.
The most significant finding was that paid search and display ads leads offline sales 6:1 compared to ecommerce sales. Some other interesting results include:
- Paid search campaigns on average generated $15 of in-store revenue
- 40% to 50% of customers were new, indicating it wasn’t preexisting customers simply searching for a deal
- 9% of paid search clicks result in an in-store purchase
Results from this study indicate that retailers with on and offline sales channels must begin include paid search ROI into calculations. Many companies fail to incorporate this data which significantly undervalues the paid search channel’s contribution to revenue.
All in all, this study indicates the cross channel success of ecommerce campaigns for retailers and the need for companies to redesign their business models to fairly compensate marketers for the revenue brought into brick and mortar stores through paid search and display ads.
December 5, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Walmart, one of the highest grossing retailers on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, last week launched a holiday shopping gift-guide application on Facebook called Shopycat. Created by @WalmartLabs, Walmart’s tech shop in the Silicon Valley, the app is designed to help users with often difficult task of Christmas shopping for friends.
The application officially went live on Wednesday evening (11/30) and has already drawn 8,000 users to the platform. Users can download the app directly from Walmart’s Facebook fan page, which has close to 11 million fans. Shopycat is easy to operate, allowing users to scroll through their friends or search by name and providing a selection of gifts that person would enjoy. Users can also check out the gifts suggested for them. Shopycat creates gift suggestions for friends based on data from their Facebook profiles such as interests and likes.
The gift suggestions offered on the app are sometimes creepily accurate and at times hilariously erroneous. Users can personally edit their profile and add interests to ensure Shopycat gives their friends good gift recommendations. Currently Shopycat has more that 600,000 items in its gift database, which is comprised of Walmart products in addition to items from Barnes and Noble, NBC Universal, ThinkGeek and more. @WalmartLabs has partnered with 20 retailers to ensure a wide range of gift offerings. The database includes many special edition products as they are viewed as more “gift worthy”.
If there is not enough information on a friends interests to generate gift ideas, Shopycat provides generic suggestions like a Starbucks gift-pack, a George Foreman Quesadilla Maker, and various other gifts that tend to be Walmart best-sellers. Users may also encounter suggestions of gift cards from Walmart.com, iTunes, and Zynga.
@WalmartLabs Shopycat app may look similar to GiveEmThis.com, a web app launched by Imply Labs in September of this year. The two applications provide strikingly similar services, but do so through different platforms. As a web app, GiveEmThis.com integrates several different social media platforms, while @WalmartLabs only incorporates Facebook. The most notable difference between the two apps is their business models. @WalmartLabs serves Walmart’s technology needs specifically, while Imply Labs provides a universal service to all online retailers.
Shopycat joins several other social gifting apps on the Facebook platform such as Giftiki. Giftiki is a group gift giving platform, launched in October, that allows Facebook friends pool their money together to buy a combined gift for friends’ birthdays, holidays, weddings, and other gift-worthy occasions.
December 1, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
The successes of both Black Friday and Cyber Monday are encouraging signs for the ecommerce industry. Merchants worked hard this season to draw shoppers to their online stores and get them to fill their shopping carts. Record numbers of consumers flocked to retailers online storefronts to make purchases making it apparent that consumer confidence in online spending is at an all time high.
Although 2011 greeted merchants with many opportunities in the thriving ecommerce sphere, 2012 is sure to bring them unmatched success. The new technology and tools available in the marketplace in 2011 have helped retailers greatly increase sales and will only become further refined and useful in 2012. With the amount of competition in the ecommerce industry, 2011 brought innovation and diversity among retailers. 2012 will see retailers build upon new revenue streams and refine last year’s innovations.
To ensure success in the upcoming year, merchants should pay close attention to the 6 ecommerce trends for 2012 outlined below.
6 Emerging Ecommerce Trends For 2011
We recently spoke with co-founder and CTO of Baynote, Dr. Scott Brave, regarding the importance of leveraging new forms of personalization on ecommerce solutions. Personalization is moving away from the old-school idea of simply creating personalized greetings on a web page into complex personalization that is behaviorally infused. Brave suggests for success in 2012, retailers will need to focus their personalization efforts on shoppers “real time interest and intent.” We are moving beyond the days of reaching consumers through demographic and other types of segmentation. Retailers must now be in touch with what consumers are thinking and feeling at the specific moment they are shopping. According to Brave, retailers can gain access to this information by collecting consumers behavioral signals. Behavior signals include where shoppers are engaging, where they are spending their time online, what words and phrases they use to find products on search engines, etc. Old methods of personalization do not gather any information on consumer interest and intent and therefore will not efficiently leverage the benefits of personalization as we will see it in 2012.
Online and Offline Integration
Online and offline integration is also a developing trend that will only become more vital to retailer success in 2012. This integration is taking on a completely new meaning than it had in 2011. Throughout the past year, integrating on and offline shopping simply meant offering features such as in-store pick of products purchased online. However, the type of integration ecommerce solutions will see trending in 2012 is bringing the offline shopping experience to the online marketplace. This can take the form of social shopping, extra personalization, one click checkout and more. Websites like sneakpeeq have engaged in this trend by creating online social shopping experiences that match the offline experience. Additionally, PayPal opened a pop-up store in New York City to show users how they plan to integrate on and offline shopping in the new year.
Whether retailers are prepared for it, or not, shoppers are already integrating these two spheres in their own way. Consumers rely on their smartphones almost immediately upon entering brick-and-mortar stores in order to look up online reviews and price comparisons. Retailers should use this integration to their advantage by designing physical storefronts to accommodate interface with ecommerce solutions through consumers use and reliance on smartphones.
Continuing on from online and offline integration, retailers in 2012 must have a handle on their mobile commerce solutions. Consumers are embracing mobile commerce more than ever and mobile is now strategically important for all retailers. PayPal reported a 516% increase in global mobile payments this Black Friday compared to Black Friday 2010. Furthermore, there was a reported 371% increase in the amount of consumers shopping on mobile devices this Black Friday from the same day in 2010. In addition, mobile commerce solutions could see a shift from apps to m-sites in 2012. It may be time for merchants to ditch apps in favor of m-sites as shoppers are increasing looking to m-sites due to their immediacy.
Marketplace Optimization is a fairly new term coined by Zoovy but has potential to be a big ecommerce trend in 2012. It is an important tool for merchants who depend on business gained through their storefronts on marketplaces like Amazon or eBay. On these marketplaces, merchants aim to be the highest ranked seller when it comes down to consumers deciding on purchases. Competition on marketplaces is stiff and sellers need ways to separate themselves from others who offer identical products. Marketplace optimization is the idea is that merchants can increase their ranking and position on marketplaces, thus close more sales when a competitive price isn’t enough. Zoovy has developed specific techniques to help merchants achieve marketplace optimization and improve performance and plans to announce these techniques in January 2012.
Facebook commerce thus far has been a lot about experimentation for retailers, but with growing success in the area it is important for retailers to add a sales channel to their social strategy in 2012. Although f-commerce has mostly been in the testing stage, F-commerce will prove to extremely valuable for retailers, especially with the growing amount of users who “liked” and shared products in their news feeds in 2011.
Social shopping through Facebook is also gaining popularity with platforms like Shopcade and sneakpeeq, both of which attempt to recreate the offline shopping experience using an online platform (ahem, online and offline integration). Facebook commerce is beneficial for both these sites due to the amount of likes and shares products receive from shoppers using these apps. Although Facebook has been slower starting in the ecommerce scene than originally expected, consumers are beginning to feel more comfortable making purchases through social media outlets, making F-commerce a trend that will only gain momentum in 2012.
As we’ve seen with Shazam’s new technology, Shazam for TV, the ability to purchase products seen on television or other kinds of video media is gaining momentum. Currently, Shazam for TV has partnered with television shows in order to allow audiences to access products from their mobile devices while watching certain television programs. In 2012, video commerce will continue to be further developed in the ecommerce sphere as follows: Suppose you are on a brand’s online store and there is a video of someone in a particular outfit, you might click on her skirt and move it into your cart. This video commerce is different than what it looked like 2011, as consumers will not only see automated products videos. The video commerce trend of 2012 is moving beyond automated product videos and becoming an interactive process where shoppers can access products they see on TV at the same moment they are watching it. Ecommerce solutions who can leverage this technology will put themselves ahead of the pack in 2012.
There are several trends that were considered for this list such as group buying, private sales sites and push shopping. Push shopping and private sales sites are definitely still relevant, but are not new or emerging trends for 2012. As far as group buying, it’s hard to say if it will continue to be a relevant trend considering the ups and downs Groupon has experienced on the road to their IPO. Although Groupon and competitor Living Social met some success this past weekend on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s difficult to be certain whether they will continue to thrive in 2012.
Opportunities and methods for connecting with customers and making sales are constantly evolving. As merchants prepare for the new year, they should consider trying out a couple of these emerging trends. With the increasing amount of consumers turning to online storefronts to make purchase, there will inevitably be more new trends that pop up in upcoming months.
November 23, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Just in time for the holiday shopping season, Shopcade has introduced a new social shopping application for Facebook users. Launched yesterday, Shopcade attempts to offer the millions of users on Facebook a true social shopping experience. The app allows users to browse, buy, and share products while earning cash rewards.
Shopcade has a catalog of over 40 million products from 20,000 brands in categories like fashion, electronics, books and movies, home decor, beauty and more. Users set up “Shopcades,” or personalized lists of products they want to share with friends through their social network. To assist users in finding desirable products, the application collects product data and displays trending products in real-time. Another unique feature is the product recommendation feed, which provides suggestions of products users may be interested in based on their activity and “likes” on Facebook. Also on the Shopcade home page, shoppers can stay up-to-date with information about what their friends are adding and buying.
Shopcade founder and CEO, Nathalie Gavaeu explained the application:
“Shopcade leverages the power of Facebook to the benefit of consumers and brands alike. It turns the ‘social network’ into the ‘social shopping network,’ allowing 800 million socially-connected people to shop, share and be rewarded all in one place. Rather than brands dictating what people should buy, Shopcade empowers people to share products that actually matter with each other. Now the customers are in control.”
Retailers are increasingly trying their hand at tapping into the growing social media population by creating effective “social” shopping experiences. In a survey conducted by Shopcade and YouGov 60% of social media users in the United States between the ages of 18 and 54 admitted their shopping decisions are, to some extent, influenced by their friends activity on their social networks. However, social media users usually don’t look to social networking websites to satisfy their shopping needs.
Harish Abbott, co-founder of social shopping platform Sneakpeeq had this to say regarding the difficulty of tapping into Facebook commerce:
“People don’t go to Facebook to shop. They never have.”
In order to reach social media users in a way that changes this trend, a social shopping application must be creative. Abbott suggests using “Facebook norms” and making applications game-like to spark user curiosity and interest. Sneakpeeq, which recently moved out of beta, offers an innovative social shopping experience by combining components of flash sales, gaming, and social networking. By leveraging game-like features, Sneakpeeq has captivated users and found success much success in Facebook commerce.
Shopcade attempts to produce a creative social shopping experience of their own by offering users several unique features including: Top-trending products, top-trending Shopcades, easy browsing and filtering, mutual rewards when a product is purchased from a friend’s Shopcade, personalized recommendations, and a personal URL, which allows users to add their Shopcade to blogs and other social media websites.
Launched just in time for the holiday shopping season, Shopcade is optimistic about the role social media will play in consumer spending.
November 17, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
E-tailers are more optimistic this holiday season, according to a holiday survey conducted by Alibaba.
Alibaba is one of the largest business-to-business online marketplaces and owns Vendio and Auctiva, both of which provide online merchants with ecommerce software solutions. Alibaba recently conducted a survey of over 1200 online merchants to gain an understanding of e-tailer insights about sales and trends this holiday season.
The survey yielded some interesting results such as a majority of e-tailers are feeling upbeat and optimistic about this holiday season, women are likely to spend 4 times as much money as men and word-of-mouth marketing tactics will be the primary focus of most e-tailers.
Optimism is trumping gloom this holiday season and 64% of survey respondents said they plan to use the theme of optimism to market their holiday products. 60% of e-tailers will use an optimistic marketing theme that will employ the use of bright and bold colors and avoid conservative designs with dull color schemes. In addition, 70% said they have altered their products to reflect this trend.
Linda Kozlowski, director of global marketing and customer experience at Alibaba.com, had this to say about e-tailers using optimism as a primary marketing tactic:
“Alibaba.com understands the value of optimism. Our online community is driven by innovation, providing a marketplace for entrepreneurs with a vision of new or improved products. Despite our global economic woes, this spirit of entrepreneurship is not flagging in the U.S. – which is good news for consumers and the market as a whole.”
The survey also confirmed something most of us already know- women are better planners than men. Responses showed men are much more likely to make last-minute expensive purchases, while women will ask more questions before purchases, are more price-conscious, and buy earlier. However, women are expected to spend four times as much as men this holiday shopping season.
Another trend the survey found is that shoppers will spend more on themselves than on gifts for others while holiday shopping this year. Even a majority of e-tailers surveyed admitted they will spend more on themselves; 62% of respondents agreed that they will spend the same amount or less on gifts for others compared to how much they will spend on themselves.
Also, a good portion of online retailers will be offering deals on shipping; 47% will give customers free ground shipping and 43% promise deals of expedited shipping. For those shoppers looking to snag some great deals, you better start shopping today. Most e-tailers responded that deals will begin mid-November and drop-off by mid-December.
Below is an infographic produced by Alibaba that highlights the most notable results:
November 16, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
The Recording Industry Association of America is demanding that ecommerce solution ReDigi entirely shuts down their recently launched website.
ReDigi is an online marketplace for the buying and selling of legally downloaded “used” digital music tracks. The company’s vision is to enable users to sell their legally purchased digital music tracks to others. Just as people could sell their used CDs and cassette tapes in the past, RiDigi wants to provide a platform for the same commerce only with digital music files.
ReDigi currently has 8,500+ digital music files available for purchase at $.79 each, which is up to $.50 cheaper than songs available on iTunes. The company also has plans of creating a similar ecommerce solution for the resale of used e-books.
A cease-and-desist letter was sent to ReDigi from RIAA on behalf of Universal Music, Warner Music Entertainment, Sony Music Entertainment and EMI Music North America. The RIAA claims ReDigi’s practices constitute copyright infringement and must be shut down. However, the RIAA is not stopping there. They are also insisting that ReDigi detain copies of sound recordings and erase all mentions of artists signed to RIAA members. Additionally, RIAA stated they need “an accounting of all sales achieved and revenue generated” from RIAA member digital recordings through the ReDigi platform.
ReDigi maintains that their business practices are perfectly legal and are actually fighting against music piracy and copyright infringement. The company stands by their use of a “patent-pending technology” that makes the verification and transfer of digital tracks possible. This technology has the capacity to ensure digital tracks come from a legitimate source and are erased from users computers once they are sold to the site. However, with no specific explanation of how the “patent-pending technology” does this, the RIAA is not convinced ReDigi’s practices are legal.
The major point of contention is whether ReDigi is operating in compliance with the “first sale doctrine”. Section 109 of the copyright act outlines the “first sale doctrine,” which is what allows the sale of a copyrighted work without permission. The RIAA argues that ReDigi breaks this copyright law because transferring digital files generally requires a copy of the material to be made, something not permissible according to the “first sale doctrine”.
However, ReDigi claims its system does not require copies of copyrighted material to be created. Their process is allegedly an instantaneous transaction from the buyer to the seller and completely adheres to the “first sale doctrine” because no copies are made. But, as previously mentioned, their “system” is still awaiting a patent and has only been described in vague terms.
The statutory minimum for willful music copyright infringement is $150,000 per infringement and could be a devastating blow to ReDigi which is still in beta.
November 15, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Groupo the Bargain Bird is back and that can only mean one thing: It’s Grouponicus time!
For those of you who missed it last year, Grouponicus is a holiday created by daily deal site Groupon in 2010. It is symbolized by Groupo the Bargain Bird (nothing says “great holiday deals” like a dapper bird with the tail of a snake) and is described as a “brand-new, ancient wintertime holiday that’s celebrated all over the world.”
The special Grouponicus deals were only available in 15 cities in its first year, but this year the holiday deals are spreading cheer to 41 cities throughout the U.S. and Canada. Grouponicus officially began yesterday (11/14) and will last 7 weeks. Featured deals will focus on encouraging consumers to give the gift of experience. The Grouponicus holiday differs from regular Groupon deals by offering specials that last 3 to 5 days instead of the usual single-day deals.
There will be a variety of deals for a range of consumer budgets. Grouponicus will also launch “Epic Deals,” which will be exclusive deals that become available at unannounced times and have very limited quantities. Some of the upcoming “Epic Deals” include:
- A 3-day trip to the taping of The Ellen DeGeneres Show’s Twelve Days of Giveaways episodes with a a behind-the-scenes tour
- A package deal that includes a cooking lesson with Todd English in the kitchen of one of his New York City restaurants, a private dinner with English and your friends, and a signed copy of his book, “Cooking in Everyday English”
- Trips to various destinations across the United States, Asia and Europe with exclusive activities curated by Groupon
Other large-scale Grouponicus offerings this year include great deals on the best “local gems” such as cooking classes, concert tickets, and museum memberships and “Giftable Getaways,” which are vacations sponsored by Groupon and Expedia.
Even though this is the second annual Grouponicus promotion, Groupon’s main competitor LivingSocial has not attempted to create any type of special holiday promotion to compete. LivingSocial recently expanded into several new markets, but has not shifted its focus towards the holiday shopping season hype.
Groupon continues to hold the top-spot in daily deal ecommerce and launched an initial public offering on November 4th. Although the ecommerce solution has faced much criticism this past year, things seems to be looking up. Since the launch of its IPO, Groupon has raised around $700 million and is valued at $15 billion. The company also recently launched a high-end deals service called Groupon Reserve.
November 14, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Some businesses will go to unusual lengths in order to make a profit. Several southern-based websites have taken their ecommerce solutions to a dark and twisted place by collecting and selling “murderabilia”.
There are currently six different ecommerce solutions focused on the selling of memorabilia from some of the most notorious murderers in the United States. Items for sale include a signed Christmas card from Charles Manson, handwritten letters from the Green River Killer, Gary Ridgeway, and a sketch of the Charlotte Strangler Henry Wallace’s hands. This seems to be a pretty sick and twisted business to be in, but apparently is highly profitable. The Christmas card from Manson was sold for $170 and a lock of his hair is currently being auctioned off with the starting bid at $2,500.
The owners of these macabre ecommerce solutions don’t see any problem with what they are doing because it is perfectly legal. Although the Son of Sam law prevents inmates from making any profits from their crimes, only a handful of states have laws preventing a third party from profiting from the sale of memorabilia. The 8 states that have laws against this kind of commerce include California, Texas, Alaska, Montana, Utah, and New Jersey.
Popular ecommerce solution eBay banned the selling this unusual and perverse “murderabilia” in 2001, but the market forged on with the 2005 launch of Murder Auction. Murder Action was the first site of its kind and since its launch even more sites have sprung up including SerialKillerInk.com and several others.
The owners of these sites do not show concern about being viewed insensitive and immoral businessmen. However, on one popular “murderabilia” ecommerce solution, this message is posted:
“We do sympathize with the families of victims. We’re sure they have a tremendous amount of pain to bare, but we make no apologies for our business. We do not solicit anyone. People seek us out with an interest in purchasing true crime memorabilia. If you are offended by what this website has to offer, you simply do not have to visit.”
Owners of the “murderabilia” websites discuss how they build relationships with incarcerated murderers in order to get items from them to sell. Eric Gein, owner of Serial Killers Ink spoke about how he writes letters to serial killers and befriends them. He said the relationships take time and rely on trust. Gein believes that most killers send him items to sell because they thrive on the attention.
As far as the target market for this macabre material, Gein said customers come from both the United States and Europe. Some customers are collectors, while others are military personnel and university professors who use the items as lecture material.