December 9th, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Facebook commerce, or f-commerce, will undoubtedly be one of the fastest spreading ecommerce trends of 2012. Many mega-retailers have already begun to leverage f-commerce technology and create retail storefronts on the social media website. With more than 800 million active Facebook users globally, f-commerce is a great tool giving retailers exposure to a vast online market.
For retailers looking to engage in the growing world of social shopping, f-commerce solution StoreYa offers useful tools. StoreYa provides easy importing of products, a unique search engine, language customization and the tools for retailers to maintain existing e-commerce platforms for sales, returns and order processing. StoreYa is especially helpful to retailers who don’t have coding or design experience.
Perhaps the most convenient tools StoreYa provides is one-click importing. Using the Magento platform, StoreYa allows retailers to import their entire online store into Facebook. The process is quick and painless, with nothing required of retailers further than directing StoreYa to their existing Magento store. While in beta StoreYa services are free for merchants to use, which is a great opportunity for retailers to test their f-commerce viability.
Facebook commerce was listed in our recent roundup of the top ecommerce trends for 2012 and for good reason. A study released by Reevoo on Monday (12/5) outlined the quickly increasing number of shoppers in the UK who are turning to Facebook to fulfill their ecommerce needs.
Founder and CEO of Reevoo, Richard Anson had this to say about the importance of leveraging social commerce:
“We have said for some time how vital it is that marketers who have so far ignored social commerce need to look at it very seriously, now. Many brands are translating these social changes into revenue, while those that don’t will be left behind – and now we can see just how fast they might be receding into the distance.”
Reevoo’s survey yielded results similar to Performetric’s October survey on social shopping in the US. The data from both surveys show that f-commerce is not only an important channel for retailers in the United States to realize, but European retailers have a large social commerce market too. Reevoo’s survey found the number of shoppers buying products through f-commerce has doubled in just the last 9 months, increasing from 4% to 8%. Both surveys highlighted the importance shoppers place on friends opinions posted on Facebook with Reevoo’s survey showing shoppers are increasingly turning to Facebook for product recommendations. According to the survey, 24% now use it to see track what their friends “like”, 27% look to friends for product recommendations and 21% are influenced by the products friends have bought and recommended.
This year’s Cyber Monday attracted record numbers of online shoppers, making it a huge success for retailers as expected.
According to IBM Benchmark, sales this year were up 33 percent from 2010. Online shoppers also spent more, the average customer order was $198.26 compared to $193.24 last year. In accordance with 2011 holiday shopping season trends, a record number of Cyber Monday shoppers made purchases from smartphones and tablets. 10.8 percent of people visited ecommerce solutions from a mobile device, more than double the amount that did so last year.
IBM’s fourth annual Cyber Monday Benchmark study has not released a figure about total spending yesterday, but all indicators point to spending reaching the predicted $1.2 million. Many holiday shoppers prefer Cyber Monday to Black Friday because they can avoid the crowds, chaos, and pepper spray that has become the day after Thanksgiving. Although many retailers still offer online deals on Black Friday, online sales were 29.3 percent higher on Monday. John Squire, chief strategy officer of IBM’s Smarter Commerce team, said the following in a statement:
“Retailers that adopted a smarter approach to commerce, one that allowed them to swiftly adjust to the shifting shopping habits of their customers, whether in-store, online or via their mobile device, were able to fully benefit from this day and the entire holiday weekend.”
Consumers filled their shopping carts with deals like a 47-inch LG TV from Wal-Mart for $320 less than the regular price, Amazons Kindle DX for $120 off, and a $200 gift certificate from LivingSocial for $100. Online shopping traffic peaked before and after work hours, it appears that getting caught shopping while at the office was a concern for many Americans.
In preparation for Cyber Monday, the feds shut down and seized the domains of 150 websites believed to be selling counterfeit products or copyrighted works. The FBI reportedly made undercover purchases of goods such as counterfeit sports jerseys, DVDs, golf clubs, footwear, and more. The Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Border Control joined the FBI in the operation to seize the 150 domains, bringing the total number of such seizures to 350 since June 2010.
The majority of seized domains were targeted for selling counterfeit clothing but ecommerce solutions selling pirated music and other copyrighted works were also included in the operation. Many of the domain names were registered in the U.S. but operated from abroad from countries like China. The operation was timed to coincide with Cyber Monday in an effort to protect holiday shoppers from getting duped into purchasing counterfeit goods thinking that they are getting a great holiday deal.
November 28, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Holiday shopping season 2011 got off to a great start with retailers reporting record-breaking Black Friday sales in both brick-and-mortar and online storefronts. According to research by comScore released yesterday, online sales in the U.S. surged on Black Friday and generated an estimated $816 million, up from $648 million last Black Friday. Brick-and-mortar retail sales dwarfed that number with a reported $11.4 billion in sales on Black Friday alone.
The report released by comScore showed that ecommerce spending on Black Friday jumped 26% this year, even though researchers thought brick-and-mortar store deals would detract from the amount of consumers opting to shop online. Also reported, overall traffic on ecommerce websites was up 35% from last year. The ecommerce solutions who boasted the most consumer traffic were Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Target and Apple.
Gian Fulgoni, comScore chairman, further explained the research:
“Amazon.com once again led the pack, with 50% more visitors than any other retailer, while also showing the highest growth rate versus last year. However, it is telling that the top multi-channel retailers also showed strong growth in visitors, demonstrating the importance of the online channel to the retail industry as a whole.”
U.S. shoppers have spent $12.7 billion online so far this holiday season, which is up 15% compared in 2010, comScore also reported. Online traffic and consumer spending online are both expected to be surpassed today, Cyber Monday.
Cyber Monday spending has been predicted to reach a record $1.2 billion, which, if Black Friday spending is some indication, will prove to be a low estimate. If profits reach $1.2 billion (and we’re assuming they will) it will mark only the second time ever that a billion dollars in ecommerce sales has occurred in one day. Last year, Cyber Monday was the most profitable day for online spending throughout 2010 and this year has already seen a 15% increase in sales from Cyber Monday 2010.
Ecommerce giant Amazon and competitor Best Buy are making a big Cyber Monday push with outstanding deal offerings. Shoppers looking for electronics, toys and other products can take advantage of deep discounts found on both Amazon and Best Buy in addition to Overstock.com and Barnes and Noble. Overstock and Barnes and Noble shoppers can take advantage of exceptional deals offered today only.
Amazon and mega-retailer Walmart are taking Cyber Monday a step further and transforming the “holiday” into a full week of online shopping. Consumers will find lightning deals on Amazon along with other discounts on Walmart.com for the rest of the week.
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 16, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
A recent survey of retail CEOs revealed that retailers are currently increasing their investments in a variety of multi-channel growth strategies including ecommerce and international expansion.
The study, conducted by PwC Canada Retail Consulting Services, surveyed CEOs of 21 U.S. and Canadian specialty and department national retail chains. The study asked questions regarding five key areas: growth strategies, ecommerce, international sales, industry game changers, and economic environment.
90 percent of CEOs surveyed stated that they will increase their use of ecommerce solutions as part of their multi-channel growth strategies. Online sales are expected to significantly increase during the 2011 holiday shopping season, CEOs expected their ecommerce business to grow 5 to 20 times more than their brick-and-mortar business. 62 percent of CEOs interviewed said that they plan to increase their use of social media as part of their online marketing strategies.
57 percent of respondents also plan to focus on tapping into international markets as a growth strategy. This expansion could take place directly in some cases or through license or franchise partners. 24 percent of respondents expected that within five years more than 15 percent of their sales will be international. Antony Karabus, PnW Canada Retail Consulting Services Leader, said the following:
“Among retailers expanding internationally, there was a shift towards franchise or licensee models rather than employing their own capital internationally.”
All retail CEOs surveyed agreed that seamless cross-channel integration is the top industry game changer right now and for the future. This includes the integration of all things digital, especially ecommerce solutions and smartphone and tablet mobile commerce. 47 percent of respondents believed that in five years ecommerce could account for up to 10 percent of sales. Karabus had this to say:
“Retailers are increasingly focused on growth strategies that differentiate them and provide new, exclusive and differentiated value, thus providing a more compelling proposition to keep customers coming back.”
In addition to expanding online growth, 76 percent of CEOs said that they plan to introduce new brick-and-mortar stores, undergo major renovations of existing stores, or introduce new store concepts as part of a multi-channel growth strategy. The majority of retailers in the study are growing organically, with only 20 percent stating that they will grow through acquisition. Of those who do plan to grow by acquisition, many plan to do so opportunistically by buying stores out of bankruptcy from other retailers.
Despite continuing economic uncertainty, CEOs are taking note of trends in the changing retail industry and investing accordingly. Major integration of cross-channel platforms will both propel and be propelled by a continued increase in online sales.
November 14, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Online holiday spending, aided by mobile and tablet commerce, is expected to grow 15 percent this year.
Forrester released a report predicting that online sales during the 2011 holiday shopping season will amount to $59.5 billion, compared to $51.7 billion last year. Although consumers are more deal-conscious than ever this year, 12 percent of the 15 percent total growth is projected to come from increased spending by shoppers.
There has been a significant rise in online retail traffic this year, in large part due to consumers accessing ecommerce solutions from their smartphones and tablets. Forrester reported that 30 percent of shoppers who own a smartphone use it to research purchases monthly and 50 percent of people who own a tablet use their device to research purchases. Retailers need to take this into account this holiday season and make sure that their websites are fully ready for mobile commerce.
Some brick-and-mortar stores are even embracing tablets to aid the shopping experience. Sears is apparently beginning to provide tablets in their stores for shoppers to look up products and order items that are out-of-stock. Shoppers may not necessarily be using their smartphones and tablets to actually make purchases but they are using them more than ever to hunt for deals and compare products.
Online deals are more influential than ever this year in determining what items consumers are putting in their shopping carts. Forrester noted that 50 percent of shoppers surveyed stated that they had found the best deals online and 30 percent of those surveyed had used a daily deal site like Groupon at one point. With holiday shopping at brick-and-mortar retailers getting crazier every year on days like Black Friday, many consumers are opting to avoid the mayhem and shop from the comfort of home. Besides finding the best prices and deals, consumers indicate that the perks of online shopping also include better inventory and selection, no lines, and avoiding spending money on gas.
Cyber Monday is the biggest day of the year for online sales, last year online spending on Cyber Monday surpassed $1 billion which was a 16 percent increase from 2009. Thanksgiving day is another huge day for online spending. Online sales on Thanksgiving last year amounted to $407 million, a 28 percent increase from the previous year.
Retailers should be expecting a lot more online traffic this year and keep in mind that a significant portion of visitors will be using a smartphone or tablet browser. If merchants have been paying attention to the trends this holiday season and prepared their ecommerce solutions accordingly it could be the most profitable year ever for online sales.
November 1, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
November is here and if you haven’t started already, now is the time to optimize your ecommerce solution and marketing plan for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This Thanksgiving weekend is predicted to be more profitable than last year, but there will also be more competition for consumer dollars than ever before. The online sphere is particularly competitive with e-tailers trying to compete with ecommerce giants like eBay and Amazon. In order to attract consumers, many businesses have already begun advertising and promotions for the holiday shopping season.
If you have not yet begun holiday promotions (or even if you have), ecommerce software provider Volusion has released their “2011 Ecommerce Survival Guide for Black Friday Weekend“. We have outlined 4 of the most notable tips from their guide:
1. Increase Average Order Value
The easiest and most obvious way to boost AOV is to simply increase the price of merchandise. Increasing prices may be a good way to go if your merchandise is already priced lower than competitors or if you are planning on offering deep discounts. However, raising prices is risky business because shoppers will be especially sensitive to prices during Thanksgiving weekend due to the amount of discounts and promotions offered by a wide range of retailers.
Another approach to increasing AOV is by offering free shipping for orders over a certain amount. Consumers are attracted to free shipping and e-tailers can leverage this by offering free shipping on orders that exceed a specified amount such as $50. This will encourage consumers to fill up their shopping carts and increase the value of their order.
An alternative to offering free shipping is giving away gift cards with orders that exceed a specified amount. For example, retailers could offer a $10 gift card with a $100 purchase. This draws in consumers and also benefits merchants because consumers will more than likely spend more than the gift card amount when they decide to redeem it.
2. Decrease Bounce Rates
To decrease bounce rates it is important to make your best holiday deals known. Consumers often move onto the next website because they aren’t finding the right product or a convincing deal. Make your best holiday deals known by prominently displaying them on your homepage. Let consumers know about the promotions you’re running during Thanksgiving weekend by announcing them front and center on your webpage. Another way to decrease bounce rates is highlighting featured deals and/or popular products with banners or icons.
3. Optimize Use of Email
Throughout the holiday season shoppers will be looking for gift ideas and special offers in their email inbox. Last year there was an average of 17.3 retailer emails sent during the months of November and December, in order to increase the chances of your email being seen you may need to up the frequency in which emails are sent. However, you must pay careful attention to avoid sending too many emails and spamming your customers. Another way to optimize the use of email is to start sending promotions out early. Many retailers have already been sending out holiday promotions for the past couple weeks.
4. Employ a Smart Coupon Strategy
70% of consumers expect retailers to offer better prices and promotions this year versus 2010 due to the state of the current economy. In addition, 38% of adult consumers will spend between 1 and 3 hours researching coupons on the Internet. Many ecommerce solutions will be offering great deals this Thanksgiving weekend and in order to compete you will need to employ a unique coupon strategy. When deciding on a coupon strategy, it is important to consider whether you are offering too much or perhaps too little. Whatever coupon or discount strategy you decide to employ, make sure you aren’t stretching your profits too thin. It is important that your business can support whatever deal you choose to promote.
October 27, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Millions of Internet users are members of social websites. In order to access that growing market, more and more retailers are utilizing social shopping platforms in addition to their ecommerce solutions. Just this week, Sociable Labs, a popular social ecommerce software provider, announced the $7 million success of their Series B funding round. There’s no doubt the social shopping sphere is expanding, but how important is it for retailers to invest in social shopping platforms for their ecommerce solution?
A social shopping survey conducted by Performics revealed the necessity of retailers’ acknowledgment of the opportunities to be had through the optimization of social ecommerce. The 2011 Social Shopping Study released by Performics on Thursday examined the usage of shopping sites, social networks, and deal sites in several different aspects of the shopping experience.
Some of the most notable results included those about how many people are using social shopping sites daily and what they are using them for. Between 17% and 19% of respondents use daily deal sites, shopping sites, and social networks every day to find coupons, deals, and specials. Also, 10-12% use these sites every day to read product reviews.
The survey also showed the gaining popularity of people using online networks while shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. A significant amount of respondents said they occasionally or frequently engage in in-store social or search activities. A few interesting figures include:
- 65% responded that they compare prices online while in a retail location
- 45% “check-in” at brick-and-mortar store locations
- 41% look for information using a search engine on their mobile phone
- 30% use a barcode scanner on their mobile phone to shop for prices
In addition, twenty-five percent of those surveyed will take the time while at a physical store location to seek information on a social network prior to finalizing a purchase. Immediately before consumers make a purchase is a vital moment for retailers. The fact that 1 in 4 customers may be conducting last minute research and seeking validation of their purchase through social networks deserves attention from retailers. People are also willing to wait for information longer than you would expect. Results showed 41% of respondents are willing to wait between 5 and 10 minutes to obtain information about products online while physically present in store.
Not only are social sites being used as part of both the online and brick-and-mortar shopping experience, but they are also breaking gender stereotypes. When it comes to social network usage, people assume that women are more active than men. However, as revealed by Performics’ survey, men engage social networks more frequently than women in five of six online shopping activities. Men research product information, read reviews, compare products, find product availability and get store information using social networks, shopping and deal sites more often than women. Women trump men when it comes to how often they look for deals and coupons.
Although “social shopping” is still a fairly new idea, its popularity is undoubtedly increasing. Retailers may want to consider their social presence on the web before the holiday shopping season is upon us to avoid missing precious sales.
October 25, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Ecommerce solutions are the preferred method of shopping for many consumers due to the convenience of 24/7 availability. Some consumers enjoy the one-stop-shop the Internet provides, and others appreciate free shipping and other incentives online retailers offer. Whatever their reasons, more shoppers than previously expected will be turning to ecommerce solutions to complete their holiday shopping this year.
According to new data from the National Retail Federation, the average shopper plans to complete 36% of their holiday gift-buying online this year (up from 32.7% last year). In light of the increase of shoppers planning to use ecommerce solutions this holiday season, e-tailers have become more optimistic than ever before about their holiday sales. Revealed in Shop.org’s eHoliday survey conducted by BIGresearch, 68% of retailers anticipate their online sales to increase by at least 15% or more compared to last holiday season. This expectation is up from 63.8% who felt the same last year.
Shoppers will also be able to take advantage of holiday deals earlier this year. Along with their brick-and-mortar counterparts, some online retailers are planning to begin their 2011 holiday promotions by Halloween. 52.9% of retailers plan to start their Holiday marketing and promotions by next Monday (Halloween), which is up from just 40% who did the same last year. Approximately 37% of retailers are planning to start by mid-November. Thus, shoppers may not have to wait until Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving and Black Friday) to snag the best deals of the season.
Shop.org’s head of research, Fiona Swerdlow, suggested companies are taking steps to prepare for the increase in online shoppers. In her own words:
“There’s no question consumers are eager to hit the Web this holiday season, and online retailers are prepping by optimizing their sites, beginning their marketing and promotions early, and planning plenty of free shipping promotions as they aim to provide value and convenience for their shoppers. Online retailers will also leverage their social media and mobile platforms for savvy shoppers on the go, knowing how important customer reviews and comparison shopping applications are to holiday shoppers.”
Specifically, the survey concluded that 51% of retailers have invested in optimizing their mobile commerce solutions and many have also invested in tablet device apps. Companies have also been working on their Facebook and Twitter pages in preparation for the holiday season.
The survey also outlined the primary reasons why shoppers plan to spend more time shopping online:
- 24-hour availability and convenience are the primary considerations for 43.2% of shoppers surveyed
- 36.3% admitted they will spend more online this year if shipping comes free
- The annoyance of fighting crowds at brick-and-mortar store locations is a factor for 37.2%
- 29.6% of shoppers will turn to ecommerce solutions due to the ease of comparing prices
With this new data, e-tailers are becoming more optimistic about upcoming online sales and re-evaluating their holiday promotions.
October 14, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Domain Name Service (DNS) issues may be more of a concern this holiday shopping season than expected, according to a recent study commissioned by VeriSign, Inc. Ecommerce solutions of all sizes could be at risk of experiencing the devastating effects of DNS failure and website downtime.
The main finding of the study was that sites with internally managed DNS had a minimum availability of 95.05%, while sites using DNS managed by a third-party averaged a minimum availability of 97.35%. Although these numbers only differ by 2.3%, that small variance accounts for about 40 more minutes of downtime daily for the internally managed sites. Complete DNS failure, which results in website downtime, is more costly than you can imagine- for every hour of downtime, a business could potentially lose $50,000 to $100,000. This statistic shows how detrimental 40 minutes of downtime can actually become.
If you think only smaller ecommerce solutions should be concerned about DNS failure, think again. Even mega-retailer Target suffered from downtime when their server crashed during the Missoni brand launch. DNS failure significantly affects customer loyalty to a brand and its ecommerce solution. A 2010 study showed that most shoppers will abandon a website if it take 3 seconds or longer to load- 3 seconds! Even if your DNS avoids complete failure, you can still lose potential profits from impatient consumers.
Whether you own a chain of brick-and-mortar stores along with your online store, or you rely solely on an ecommerce solution, the cost of DNS failure and website downtime is unaffordable. Not even the largest e-tailers can reconcile a loss in profits of potentially $100,000, which is why it is vital to evaluate your DNS management tool before the holiday shopping season kicks into gear.
Here are several tips on how to prepare your DNS to avoid downtime during this holiday season:
1. Invest in an alternative DNS management tool, especially if your primary DNS is internal. With an internally managed DNS, an ecommerce solution is significantly more at risk to experience total outages. Sites who took advantage of third-party DNS management services never faced total outages.
2. Avoid self-managed DNS. The study showed that sites with self-managed DNS experience 40 more minutes of downtime than those sites managed by a third-party.
3. Prepare for peak usage. Peter Merelud, VP of Product management at Kemp Technologies, was recently interviewed by InformationWeek and gave this advice:
“Plan for peak usage. [Whenever] online vendors experience their absolute peak usage, that’s what they have to be prepared to support. Otherwise they can experience a crash and will have lost all of this business.”
Identify peak traffic patterns and then prepare for them. Don’t just plan for average usage during this year’s busy season.
4. “Plan for more traffic than you can handle”. Merelud also suggests to not only plan for peak usage, but also plan for more shoppers than you can handle. It would be a shame for any ecommerce solution to lose potential business because they weren’t expecting the amount of traffic. Anticipate an extreme holiday rush, especially if you are planning to offer extra deals during on Cyber Monday or any other big holiday shopping times. Don’t repeat Target’s Missoni launch situation.
5. Consider where your servers are located. Think about having servers in different locations. In case one site becomes slow or unavailable, the traffic from the failed site can be taken on by the other site, which will allow your ecommerce solution to continue functioning.
With all the other competitive factors ecommerce solutions are already going to face during the upcoming holiday season, DNS failures should not be one of them.
September 23, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Offering the right online deals to shoppers will be critical for retailers to attract customers this holiday shopping season.
A recent survey by SteelHouse revealed that 82 percent of respondents will change the way they shop this year. Of those respondents, 62 percent plan to spend less money on holiday shopping in a variety of ways. That number doesn’t bode well for retailers but with the right offers customers may still flock to ecommerce solutions. Almost one third of those surveyed said that they plan to spend more time browsing products online rather than going to the mall and that they will not buy anything without a discount or at least free shipping.
Retailers should consider the option of using daily deal sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial to attract customers who will be using the Internet to do their holiday shopping more than ever this season. 12 percent of survey respondents said that they will use social media such as Twitter to find deals or let their friends know about deals. Word of mouth about discounts and offers may have a big influence on what items customers are putting in their shopping carts throughout the remaining months of 2011.
Coupons will also be a bigger factor this year, 11 percent of respondents said that they will use coupons for the first time. Retailers should consider sending out coupons by email to get an edge over the competition. 50 percent of respondents said that they will comparison shop more than usual in order to find the best price, an e-coupon could determine what ecommerce solution shoppers will turn to for desired items.
Women and shoppers with families will be the ones making the most changes to their shopping habits and looking harder for deals over the holidays. Women are more likely than men to both spend more time shopping online and to require a discount or free shipping before making a purchase. Interestingly, men are more likely to use coupons for the first time this holiday season, perhaps because women are traditionally more likely to use coupons on a regular basis. Respondents with families also plan to change their shopping habits more drastically and are more likely to comparison shop and browse items online instead of at brick-and-mortar stores.
Although the survey results don’t look good for retailers when it comes to overall holiday spending, ecommerce sales have been going up steadily over the past two years and are expected to at least remain the same and likely to increase further. Retailers just need to keep in mind the types of things that shoppers are on the lookout for and provide the right offers on ecommerce solutions. A little flexibility when it comes to shipping and pricing this holiday shopping season could go a long way.
August 30, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Near Field Communication (NFC) is widely considered the next frontier in the mobile payment world. Multiple tech heavyweights are preparing their NFC solutions, including Google. Eventually, even online purchases may be possible via NFC scanners. Today, the three major US wireless carriers announced their plan to invest $100 million in a joint NFC solution, called ISIS. Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile also say they are willing to invest more money in the technology if it gains momentum in the near future.
ISIS is not the trailblazer in this scenario, however, and will face some stiff competition from companies that have had a bit of a head start. Isis will have to catch up with Google Wallet, an open NFC platform launched by Google, with the backing of MasterCard and Citibank. Google’s payment system was announced in May and is set to enter the public arena very soon. Google Wallet allows consumers to add items to their shopping carts, and pay for them by waving their NFC-enabled Android phone at point-of-sale terminals that are equipped to handle MasterCard Paypass purchases. You’ve likely seen this technology embedded in MasterCard and some Visa credit cards in the past few years. You just wave your card in front of the scanner, and go on with your purchase. However, Google’s NFC offering is limited in supported hardware. Right now, only the Nexus S from Sprint is supported, and Google hasn’t announced new credit card or banking partners apart from MasterCard and Citibank.
ISIS, meanwhile, is backed by credit card companies MasterCard, Visa , American Express and Discover. The fact that Visa is supported gives ISIS a bit of a leg up on the competition. The first trial runs for the new technology won’t begin until next year in Salt Lake City and Austin, Texas. That timing will, however, put it behind Google Wallet. But with few NFC-enabled devices available so far, it may not be that much of a disadvantage.
The question on investors’ minds seems to be just how popular the NFC technology will be amongst the consuming public. The technology has been around for a while, embedded in selected credit cards for years. People could of paid for items in their shopping carts with their NFC enabled MasterCard or Visa. A lack of retailer participation, expensive necessary hardware, new Point of Sale programming, and general consumer apathy limited the success of NFC technology back then. So what’s so different now?
For all NFC suppliers, including Google Wallet and ISIS, the key to attracting consumer attention appears to be in enabling digital offers and discounts via smartphone devices. Google isn’t taking a cut of transactions made through its service, and is looking to instead link up Google Wallet with its recently released Google Offers program. Google will then make money from offers made to consumers. ISIS is looking to make its digital wallet a platform for delivering targeted mobile offers to users based on their preferences and behavior. Both platforms hope that by offering deals to consumers, it will not only get more items and deals into shopping carts but will also promote the use of NFC technology and potentially replace physical purchases altogether.
According to Juniper Research, NFC technology is ramping up for an explosion in popularity. By 2015, 1 in 5 consumers adding a new phone to their shopping cart will be getting an NFC enabled device. Mobile payments are expected to be worth $670 billion dollars by 2015. The market seems to be there, and the investments from major backers are not lacking.
August 18, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
ComScore recently released another report (it’s kind of what they do) discussing the relative visitor numbers of the world’s leading ecommerce solutions. Big surprise, Amazon is leading the pack with an almost unbelievable 282 million unique visitors in June. According to the comScore’s calculations, that’s about 20% of the worldwide internet population. Other competitors in the research study (not that it was a contest, but at the same time, it’s totally a contest) included Chinese ecommerce solution Alibaba, and Apple’s online store.
The numbers told some interesting stories that illustrated the differences in adoption across international lines and the allure of a powerful brand. Amazon’s almost 300 million visitors in June were drawn from a variety of countries. The next leading competitor was a little site called eBay (which maybe you’ve heard of), which brought in about 223 million unique visitors, equating to roughly 16.2% of the internet’s global shopping potential. The third place site was Alibaba, which had almost 160 million visitors. Now this comes to about 11% of the global marketplace, but it’s interesting to note that their grouping of sites (Alibaba, Taobao, and others) drew 86% of their business from the Asian marketplace. Amazon got about 35% of its audience from the US (which makes sense) but about 25% of its business came from Asia Pacific.
China is a huge emerging marketplace for commerce of all kinds. It makes sense that Chinese shoppers and the Asian marketplace at large would prefer to buy from an ecommerce solution a little closer to home. One major roadblock holding back the growth of Chinese online retailers is the slow penetration of internet service into the bulk of China. Mobile phones, smartphones, internet access, and broadband internet have been slow to seep into China (and indeed, may never fully integrate into some of the further-flung reaches of rural China).
However, in urban centers, all these tools of electronic commerce are alive and well and thriving. Young, urban Chinese citizens have a hunger for freely-traded goods and services, especially ones from the West that carry a lot of prestige. This has led to a big market for counterfeit goods and the rise of fake Apple stores. However, there are still customers around the world who are willing to pay full price for genuine Apple products through their authentic ecommerce solution, as the Apple store website took in 10% of the global market and is reported to be pretty evenly distributed worldwide.
August 18, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
L2, a think tank dedicated to determining magazine trends online recently released their “Digital IQ” report (check out the sweet video breakdown). The report analyzed the online habits and performance of almost one hundred different magazine and arranged them in categories ranging from “Genius,” “Gifted,” and “Average,” all the way down to “Feeble.” So what can this analysis of magazine performance online teach you about your ecommerce solution and how it performs online? Let’s take a look.
One element of a magazine’s performance that L2 placed a lot of emphasis on was cross-platform saturation. Time magazine was the only magazine rated at “Genius” level for digital IQ. One thing that helped them earn this rating was having great availability and access across a variety of platforms. Now, while most small ecommerce solutions may not have the resources to develop mobile apps for multiple platforms, it’s worth keeping this in mind. There is a whole wide world out there beyond iOS and even Android. Users want mobile optimized sites, Nook Apps, and apps designed specifically for tablets.
Speaking of tablets, the report states that the iPad has “failed to deliver on its hype” when it comes to magazines. We’ve discussed things like this here at Zippycart before. Magazines (and all publications, really) are struggling to find a new revenue model in this digital age. However, another intersection point for print media and ecommerce solutions is social media.
Everybody knows that social media is a big deal. In fact, 49% of the magazines surveyed in L2’s report indicated that Facebook was their second leading source of traffic, right after Google. Just like many ecommerce solutions have latched on to the idea of selling directly on Facebook, magazines are also migrating to this idea. They are doing it significantly more slowly, however.
About half of magazines with a Facebook page provide a subscription link (which directs the user to an off-site page) on any tab, but only about a third of them have a dedicated tab. Putting up a dedicated tab that never changes and can catch a viewer’s eye is a great move at attracting new subscribers, just like a “shop on Facebook!” tab can help an ecommerce solution gain traction within the social space.
The weakest point that many magazines deal with on Facebook is selling directly within the Facebook space. Only eight percent of magazines offer users the ability to complete a subscription transaction without being directed off-site. Whereas ecommerce solutions have adapted this kind of on-page business ability pretty rapidly (though still, not everybody has it). If your ecommerce software system gives you the ability to sell directly on Facebook, all research points to the idea that you should do it!
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