According to recent data, nearly one-third of Internet users now own a tablet. By next year, it’s expected to be nearly half. The people who own them tend to purchase more items and tend to be more loyal customers. If you sell online, making sure your eCommerce site is tablet compatible is an absolute must.
Follow this guide to getting your format right for the gadget that is taking over online purchasing.
People who make purchases using tablets tend to buy more things more often.
Responsive Web Design
Responsive web design is a way to design websites that allows them to function properly whether they’re opened on a computer or a mobile device such as a tablet. Although some minor features may be sacrificed, it removes the need to have multiple sites and ensures that no matter which device your site is accessed from, it will appear in the correct dimensions, formatted perfectly for the exact device on which it’s being viewed.
When you hire someone to design your eCommerce site, insist on RWD, and if you have a site that isn’t using RWD, consider an upgrade.
All About the Images
Images that regular website use aren’t always right for tablets. New technology such as Apple’s retina display makes tablet screens far more brilliant than their less mobile cousins. Your photos must be of the highest quality, but also load fast. This means they should generally be built using CSS. Limit the number of HTTP calls the site must make to load a page to speed up load times.
The viewing surface of smartphones and tablets have less real estate than a computer screen. There is no getting around this fact. When it comes to designing for tablets, you must remove some content to account for the smaller screen. This doesn’t mean you have to omit it – it means you have to get creative with tools such as drop-down screens.
Use a single-column layout. All of your eCommerce site’s pertinent information should be stacked on top of each other in a vertical formation. If the user has to scroll from side to side and then zoom in to actually see the content he or she wants, your site, by definition, is not optimized correctly.
The world has gone mobile – nearly a third of Internet users have a tablet.
The world has gone mobile. The amount of web traffic – including making online purchases – gobbled up by the burgeoning smartphone and tablet industries grows more each month and the mobile trend is forecast to continue in the near and distant future.
Optimizing your eCommerce site is doable and absolutely necessary. If a tablet user wants to buy but is annoyed by your layout, you’re missing the point of selling online.
Guest author Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He writes about eCommerce, digital technology, and mobile payments.
By Mary Weinstein
May 13, 2013
Every sales quarter, CPC Strategy conducts a study on the top shopping channels, including Google Shopping on seller metrics such as traffic and revenue. For Q1, Google shopping traffic almost doubled.
CPC Strategy’s 2012 Ecommerce Industry Report compares Google Shopping against rival shopping engine Amazon Product Ads. It analyzes the sales data of more than 200 online retailers with a buying power of more than $5 billion.
- Google Shopping conversion rates dropped for the fourth straight quarter, decreasing from 3.0931% in Q4 2011 to 2.4018% in Q4 2012, a YoY decrease of 22.35%.
- In Q4 2011 Google Shopping was sending merchants 79% of the traffic Amazon Product Ads was sending. In Q4 2012, Google Shopping now sends merchants nearly double the traffic that Amazon Product Ads does, 96.08% more.
- Google Shopping was on average 32.77% more cost-effective for merchants during Q3 and Q4 2012 than Amazon Product Ads.
To read more, feel free to head over to this Q4 CSE Rankings article
Google Shopping is a shopping engine which warrants merchant attention. An increase in traffic such as we seen from Q4 2012 to Q1 2013 is just another reminder of how important the paid campaign is for online marketers.
Guest author Mary Weinstein is Content Manager at CPC Strategy, with extensive experience in all things Ecommerce, comparison shopping (CSE) management, Google Shopping and digital marketing. A NY native, Mary spends her time discussing CSE strategy with online merchants, hiking and drinking copious amounts of coffee.
Offering a variety of image tools and great product images will help boost your sales!
By Ricky Tsao
March 27, 2013
Years ago, I was a Planogram team member for a Target. My whole job was to influence the customer’s purchase decisions by placing and displaying products in a certain way. From signage to posters, display shelves and in-store advertising, Target put the utmost care and attention to how products are shown to customers. This tactic is used in all major brick-and-mortar retailers throughout the world, as well as in the e-commerce market.
Image Manpulation Features and Tools
In the e-commerce world, we use product images to influence our customers. Due to their inability to touch, smell, see, and hold a product like you would at a physical retailer, image is the only way an online customer can interact with your product. Because of this limitation, it’s important to make sure your e-commerce solutions software provides a variety of appropriate features and tools that will make your images standout. eMerchants need to make-up for the absence of the real world purchase by giving them every angle and zoom they could possibly want from a product image.
Quality and Size
The size and quality of the image have a direct correlation to how the buyer sees the product. For example, if you are selling chocolate, a hi-def, crisp image of a chocolate will help give the buyer a feel of freshness, quality ingredients, and value. Small blurry pictures will make the buyer feel the chocolates are stale, untasty, and boring.
Make sure online shoppers can enlarge the product image they’d like to see.
Naturally, a high quality image have a much higher influence to the buyer than smaller low quality images. Therefore, make sure the e-commerce software you are using have options to show large, hi-def quality images. It should provide ways for you to organize your products, display thumbnails, and let your customers see enlarged high resolution images.
Say you have a very simple product, such as a book. Do we put on a gleaming photo of the book and consider it done? No. You want to have different ways for your customers to see your product. Just like in the physical world, you want your e-commerce software to offer options to have multipe image perspective of your product. A good way to show off the many perspectives of your book is to have photos for front cover, back cover, and numerous inside pages. If you are to sell clothing, you should have three or more photos showing the front, back, and side. It will also be helpful to let the customer see different colors. Bottom line: always give your customers multiple perspectives to see the product in order to simulate reality. The e-commerce software you are using should have features to let you display different perspectives of your product.
Image tools help increase sales!
In order to push the limit on simulating reality, we use technology to add features such as rotation, zoom and magnification. For example, if you are to sell electronics such as a laptop or camera, an image rotation will be helpful.
Zooming in let’s the customer see product details.
If you are to sell clothing, magnification will be perfect so it can show the fabric in detail. Other options such as side by side comparison would also be ideal in a clothing e-commerce site. The bottom line is to recreate the shopping experience as if the customer is at the retail store physically.
We list below some minimal image manipulation features your e-commerce software should provide:
- Supports image magnify, zoom, lightbox, and enlarge
- Generates thumbnails and catalog page images automatically
- Ability to resize images on the fly
- Control image placement on product and catalog pages
- Create photo galleries
- Display / hide images with a mouse click
Because you have many high quality images and image manipulation features, you need to make sure your e-commerce hosting solution can serve data fast. The options available out there is Virtual hosting vs Dedicated hosting.
Most small to medium-sized sites use virtual hosting, where a number of Web sites reside on the same server. Large and/or busy sites usually can’t share server space because the volume of Web traffic from many sites would quickly overwhelm the server. If your current hosting solution contacts you about your wesite being too busy, look for an e-commerce solution that offers dedicated hosting.
E-commerce is serious business with heavy hitting competitors so you need every advantage in encouraging your customers to purchase. One of the best ways is to provide image features that can help your customers see the product. Make sure the e-commerce software you are using has the appropriate tools and features to show off your specific product line. By using your e-commerce software’s image manipulation tools, you can fully engage your users to see and feel your product, leading to increased revenue and profit for your company.
By Kinjal Adeshara
March 11, 2013
“Ecommerce” will continue to be a buzz word in 2013 and while this comes as no surprise, what needs to be seen is what will be the trends that will power this domain. Ecommerce will definitely evolve as it did in the past years but this evolutionary process is going to accelerate.
- More Personalized Services
No, personalized services may not something that is fresh or unique but, this is going to be a continuing popular trend. The focus, however, will be on offering as personalized a product or service as possible. There are new technologies that will monitor and analyze the buying pattern of consumers to bring forth some startling revelations as far as consumers buying decisions are concerned. This will help you personalize the content to suit the specific needs and requirements of your target audience.
- Ecommerce will align with Mcommerce Again this is a trend that we are witnessing, but this alignment will happen far more seamlessly this year. Your site will need to be mobile compliant, that’s a given, but that’s not something that will have you laughing to the bank. What your future buyers will look forward to is a better, more intuitive and highly engaging shopping experience that makes shopping a largely interactive process. They are looking to form a deep connect with the product or service they want to buy and they will expect this from an integration of web and mobility.
- Augmented Reality The adoption of this technology will come of age this year and the years beyond. The first trend that I mentioned was that Ecommerce will become more personal, well it is this technology that will play an important role in bringing this about. So, the next time you are moving through a particular store, don’t be surprised if you start getting information about the store, the various products it has on offer and the various offers on the same; all this, as you keep moving through the different parts of the store. 2013 will be shopping at its finest yet.
- Cross Channel Targeting of the Same Consumer Right, you have a product and you believe that an SEO campaign is the best fit, as far as its online promotion is concerned. Well, while SEO is important, this kind of thinking will have competition in 2013 as you will be forced to target your consumer through various marketing channels. Yes, it will be the same consumer, but you will be keeping at him, from all directions. So, yes, there will be an SEO campaign that will be launched, but also of importance will be a presence on social media, and you of course wouldn’t want to miss out on targeting him through his mobile device. Integrated marketing campaigns will be the name of the game.
- More focus on Social Network Integration Can’t miss out on this one can we? There will be more and better social network integration than ever before. As we keep using social media for marketing our products and services, we are getting better and better at it. Social media channels like Facebook and Twitter keep getting better and better and new ones like Pinterest allow us to explore new avenues for establishing a social media footprint for business benefit. The integration of social media with an Ecommerce solution will become even more intensive and incisive in 2013. What’s more, with the plethora of options on hand, you will be hard pressed to choose the one that suits your needs and requirements best
- Customization of Products and Services – Consumer in Charge Heard about ‘Web-to-Print’, ‘Design your own T-shirt’ etc.? These are all examples of the kind of solutions that put the consumer in charge of the designing and customization process of the product that he/she wants to buy. Yes, customization was, is and will always be important to sell products and services, but now the merchant will increasingly allow the target consumers to tailor make the product, as per their specifications. Ecommerce as its stands will never be the same again.
- Content What you say, will become even more important this year. As competition increases and the need for accurate information become even more paramount, the significance of content will keep getting bigger and bigger. The presentation of your content in terms of form, style, tone and facts will decide whether the sales of your products and/or services increase or remain stagnant or for that matter go down.
- Think Global but Go Local Even if you are targeting a global market, the focus will still be on thinking ‘local’. Niche oriented Ecommerce will rule as people will keep looking for products and services through local search. So, even an enterprise level organization will need to ensure that its marketing is focused on specific locations/regions; if they want they can target different markets with different campaigns, with each campaign keeping in mind the needs, interests, preferences and buying behavior of the local population.
- Responsive Ecommerce You have heard of responsive design (it will be huge in 2013), but as an online business owner, what you also need to take note of is responsive Ecommerce. All eMerchants will need to quickly respond to the needs of their target consumers and if they cannot, they will need to adapt to the changing demands of the market to respond as their consumers expect them to.
- Keep it Simple At the end of the day, the lesser the complications, the better you can control a particular process. So, Ecommerce will become more compartmentalized, where merchants and marketers will not try and do a lot of things, but will want to do a few of the things perfectly. As can be imagined, each aspect of Ecommerce is going to be consumer focused and it’s upon the merchants to identify which is that collection of strategies that will help them zero in on a profit generating Ecommerce campaign.
Guest author Kinjal Adeshara is a web enthusiastic and blogger who interested in all things, software, web design especially ecommerce website development. She is also work with Rightway Solution which is offshore Software Development Company. She loved to write articles and shares new, exciting and informative content with users.
The most important factor in the eCommerce path to success – navigation and design:
By Paul Rufus
March 4, 2013
On a regular basis, I’m asked to evaluate a prospective clients’ e-commerce store. Often they are frustrated by lower than expected conversion rates or declining sales.
Question number one tends to be something along the lines of why have you designed and built your e-commerce store? Question two: So, why have you made it so difficult for users to actually buy from your site?
A research reported released by Brand Perfect on online shopping habits and consumer opinion in both the UK and United States revealed the biggest irritations when shopping online and what would make them abandon their purchase.
It makes for interesting reading.
For online shoppers in the UK, 67% of over 1,500 respondents said that pages or product images were slow to load and that was the top reason they’d abandon a purchase. In the US this figure is 51%.
A significant proportion of factors relate specifically to the user experience on the site. Site navigation and difficulty finding products was referred to by 50% of UK respondents. 40% of UK respondents cited too many steps to purchase, with a further 34% saying that having to register caused irritation. Poor design accounted for 29%, while 20% mentioned the site’s payment process.
Brand Perfect says that bricks and mortar retailers should invest more in design expertise when embarking on digital services for their customers, to maintain brand consistency across online and offline activities, and to have the expertise on hand to properly consider user experience.
In the report, Gerry Leonidas, a senior lecturer with the Department of Typography and Graphic Communication at the University of Reading emphasised the importance of designing an effective user experience is essential for developing a successful e-commerce store:
‘Even in well-established brands that enjoy considerable trust by consumers, an online experience that is inconsistent, unintuitive, or off-brand will either turn people off online shopping, or lead to abandoned browsing and purchasing’.
This is further underlined by research from ’I Spy Marketing’ that pointed to a number of key success factors for e-commerce stores. The most important – navigation and design:
‘75% of consumers say they would not continue to shop on a website which was difficult to navigate or poorly designed’
What can retailers (and website designers and developers) do to ensure that the shopping experience is better for customers? In my opinion the feedback from US-based respondents is not difficult to implement (in order):
- Ensure the site is easy to browse and navigate (61%)
- Ensure the site is secure (59%)
- Make sure the site loads quickly and functions properly (52%)
- Fonts should be clearly legible (44%)
- Site should be well designed (43%)
- Mobile and tablet versions should be as easy to use as the main website (42%)
- Site should link to the users account and enable quick shopping (28%)
- Site looks and feels authentic (26% – I believe this links with the well designed observation above)
The price of not taking notice of what consumers are telling us and making it difficult for consumers to make a purchase? They’ll simply go to the next website on Google and buy it from there.
Guest author Paul Rufus is responsible for marketing and business development for Yetti, a cloud-based e-commerce and content management platform.
By the ZippyCart Content Team
January 4, 2013
Mostly, visitors that come to a website have a specific purpose to fulfill. If it’s an e-commerce website, they are looking to buy something and that’s where call-to-action buttons come in. Call-to-actions (CTAs) are buttons that are designed and placed to get your web page visitor to DO something… they elicit an action. Because of this, they should be created and placed in way that they can help the visitor (read: shopper) quickly understand the next step that they need to follow to BUY something, sign-up for something, etc. “BUY NOW”, “Free Trial Here”’, and “Read More” buttons would all be examples of CTAs. By placing call-to-action buttons on a website appropriately, you can increase both lead generation and sales.
You invested a good amount of time and money into developing the website where you plan to promote and sell your products. That’s good. But ignoring the significance of proper call-to-action placement can throw water on all your efforts.
Why not take a closer look at your website?
OK. Your website has attention-grabbing headlines. It has a well-crafted sales copy. The navigation on your website is also very user-friendly. Top quality images and customer testimonials add more value to your website. But where have you placed the call-to-action buttons? Are they good enough to attract the attention of customers as soon as they come to your website?
One thing that I should make quite clear is that the placement of call-to-actions varies from one website to another. What positions or what type of buttons are best to bring more sales are something that you can find out only by testing different versions of call-to-actions. Are you ready to test a few lay-outs?
It’s only testing that will unlock the secrets to successful call-to-action placement. Many times, minor changes alone can make a big difference. While creating the call-to-action buttons for your website, you need to choose the right colors, right wordings and the right size. Above all, you need to put those buttons above-the-fold so that visitors or buyers can find them at the very first glance of your website.
Studies suggest that web users spend most of their time soaking up information that is above the fold (the part of web page visible without scrolling). It’s due to this reason that you need to place your call-to-action buttons above the fold as well.
Tips to Follow
Once you have made up your mind to experiment with different versions and locations of your call-to-action buttons, you’ll also need to know about the general rules and guidelines. It’s important if you want to get started on the right track. Given below are some important tips that you abide by.
- Place Call-to-Action Buttons on Every Page – You never know which page the visitor is going to enter your website through. No matter what path they follow to come to your website, you need to make sure they can spot the call-to-action without any trouble or effort. So, have the buttons on all pages of your site.
- Keep the Buttons Above the Fold – This is most important as far as the placement of call-to-action buttons is concerned. Therefore, make sure you have placed the buttons in those places that catches the customers’ eyes without scrolling.
- Choose the Right Color, Wordings & Size – The appearance of call-to-action buttons is as much important as their placement. You should always choose those colors (for buttons) that stand out from the background. The wordings on the button should create urgency as well as inform the visitors about what’s up next. At the same time, you should also test the buttons for different sizes.
- Say ‘No’ to Clutter – One of the most important tips while creating call-to-action buttons is that they should be devoid of any kind of clutter. A cluttered page will do a good job of reducing the impact of the button. Therefore, always ensure that these buttons have adequate white space around them.
Are your call-to-action buttons doing well? If you have more tips or questions on how to use call-to-action buttons to improve sales, feel free to share them in the comments below.
By the ZippyCart content team
December 19, 2012
Google Analytics can help you track and improve your online store.
In order to maintain the health of your online store, you need to keep a close watch on the analytics of your e-commerce site. There are several software solutions that you can use to track valuable statistics of your site. One of the best, however, is Google Analytics. This is an enterprise-class web analytics tool that you can use to uncover the inner workings of your customers as they visit your e-commerce website or your online store. Though most of the store owners know about Google analytics quite well, they fail to use this awesome tool to their maximum business benefits.
No matter what kind of online store you own, it’s essential to measure its progress so that you are aware of the causes of profits (or losses). The biggest benefit of using an analytics software program in this regard is that it allows you to identify those critical issues that cause your online store to under-perform.
By using such a powerful measurement tool as Google analytics, you can quickly gain a deep insight into the search intent of your target audience and the shopping behavior of your online customers. You will know what makes your customers tick. Effective tracking via this software ultimately allows you to improve customer retention and reduce customer frustration.
But do you know which metrics carry the most significance when it comes to improving the performance of your online store? Given below are some of the key points that you’ll need to focus on taking your business to the next level.
Setting up goals in Google analytics is something you should not skip. The analytic tool allows you to set up as many as 20 goals. Each of these goals represents an action taken by your customers on your e-commerce site. As the owner or manager of an online store, you can plan to set up goals like ‘view shopping cart’, ‘choose delivery option’, ‘enter payment details’ etc.
In fact, every single step that the visitor to your e-commerce website takes until they finally purchase a product can be made into a goal. After you’ve set up the goals in Google analytics as per your specific business requirements, you can access the Funnel Visualization report. This will be an eye-opener!
Are your customers are able to shop your store and checkout with their mobile devices? In order to review the type of access your website offers for mobile phone users, you can go to Google Analytics – Standard Reporting – Audience – Mobile – Devices. Here, you’ll find valuable stats regarding the mobile phone users of your online store. And then you can take the necessary steps (or fix the problems) to improve the experience of your online customers and increase your product sales.
Online shoppers can sometimes be hit with different types of error messages during the checkout process. They encounter errors when they make mistakes like completing a form field in the wrong way or not ticking a specific box. Sure, there are error messages from which visitors can learn and proceed to the next step. However, stats like these can help you a great deal when you want to improve the performance of your online store. That’s exactly where setting up Google analytics event tracking comes into play.
One of the most important metrics that you can track through Google analytics is landing pages. You can go to Google Analytics – Content – Site Content – Landing Pages. This section of the tool informs you about the performance of different landing pages on your e-commerce website. Here, you will also find options to filter results by clicking ‘advanced’, beside the search box. You can also click on e-commerce to gather revenue and conversion rate details for every single landing page.
What metrics are you tracking in Google Analytics? Are they helping your online store? Please feel free to let us know about your insights and experiences.
By Sarah Brooks
December 17, 2012
Google Shopping, formerly known as Google Product Search, allows sellers to reach more potential buyers by allowing shoppers to quickly and easily find your product listing. The seller is able to control their product information, which helps guarantee the information is accurate and up-to-date. For a fee, the seller creates Product Listing Ads via Google AdWords and can start listing their product right away. Overall, Google Shopping is meant to improve the shopping experience for the customers.
Now that this service is no longer being offered for free, many merchants think this is going to hurt their business unless they fork over money for advertising. Some opponents argue it will even hurt consumers by forcing less competition amongst sellers and, therefore, higher prices on products. Of course, Google doesn’t agree with these statements and believes that Google Shopping is a win-win situation for everyone.
Negative effects on smaller online stores
Essentially, with the launch of Google Shopping, consumers will no longer be able to do extensive searches on products to find the lowest price. Only those retailers that pay to be on Google will appear in the search results, forcing consumers to miss out on deals and smaller online stores to not even be in the running. Smaller online stores, and even some medium-sized ones, may not have the financial resources to be on Google, which will eliminate an enormous amount of potential buyers and possibly cause the store to go under.
Another negative affect Google Shopping has on small businesses is it forces them to raise their prices and not be as competitive. Larger stores have the advantage of generating millions of dollars more in product than smaller ones, allowing them to pay to advertise on Google without raising their prices. This means smaller business lose no matter what: They pay to advertise, but consumers go with a lower-priced company, or they choose not to advertise and miss out on being seen by potential buyers.
Positive effects on smaller online stores
Proponents of Google Shopping believe this will have a positive effect on smaller businesses by allowing merchants to have control over their products and ads. The free Google Product Search system was never a guarantee – in other words, merchants’ products may or may not show up on the search results page. There were no statistics showing the seller how well their product was doing, and no way to know if and how often their product even showed up. Google Shopping also plans on improving the comparison pages, giving the consumer an even better shopping experience.
Google advises smaller online stores to use smaller bids ($0.01) on Google Shopping. Though they may not be able to compete with larger merchants, small bids allow them to maintain their current listings. Another positive effect is that Amazon has opted not to participate in Google Shopping, meaning any business, small or large, won’t be competing with the biggest merchant of all.
Since Google Shopping was just launched this past October (2012), it’s still too early to tell exactly how it will affect smaller online stores, or even larger online stores for that matter, so stay tuned.
Sarah Brooks is a freelance writer covering a wide variety of topics from personal finance and budgeting to shopping and mobile payments.
Photo credits: lipfirelipfire, myretailmedia
By Terri Williams
November 11, 2012
When shopping online, clients want convenience, value, and quality. However, they also want assurance that your website is secure against cyber attacks.
If potential customers think that their personal and financial information could be compromised, they will be wary of doing business with you. Following are five ways to show your clients that your website is secure:
1. Secure Website Address
Make sure your website address begins with “https” instead of “http.” The “s” is significant because it indicates that the website is using a Secure Socket Layer (SSL), which encrypts the data. As a result, if anyone tries to highjack your customer’s information as it is being transmitted to you, the data won’t be decipherable. And savvy consumers know to look for this website designation.
2. Lock and Key
A yellow padlock or key icon on your website also indicates that you are using SSL encryption protocols to protect your customers’ information. This yellow icon is often placed in the Web address bar or to the right side of it. But, it is sometimes placed at the bottom on the Web page. (Note that an unlocked padlock means the site is not secure.) When customers click on the icon, it provides more information about the security of your website.
3. Certificate Seal
Displaying the VeriSign, GeoTrust, or other type of SSL certificate vendor on your website is another way to show customers that their information is safe. Although clicking on the yellow icon will open up a page that lists VeriSign security information, having the seal prominently displayed instantly informs consumers that they are dealing with a trusted online company.
4. Better Business Bureau Seal
A Better Business Bureau (BBB) seal is the gold standard for instilling confidence in your customers. The seal indicates that your business is accredited by the BBB and follows its code of business practices. In addition, it is only given to companies that have been in business for over a year. These two factors instill confidence in consumers that your company is reputable and trustworthy.
5. Password Protection
When customers log in, require them to create complex passwords. The password should be at least seven or eight characters long and include upper- and lowercase letters, at least one number, and at least one special character. However, discourage the use of passwords like “password123!” that can be easily guessed by cyber criminals. Also, require customers to change passwords at intervals such as every 90 days. These requirements show your customers that you are taking extra precautions to ensure that your website is secure.
Guest author Terri Williams is a business book summary writer and also writes articles on other topics such as SEO optimization and security systems.
Online Shopping can help consumers avoid stress in this 2012 holiday season!
By Susan Delly
November 14, 2012
The holidays are right around the corner which means holiday shopping is revving up for another busy season. OH NO!!! For many people, this type of extreme buying is burdened by stress and indecision (when it should be a fun celebration of friends and family). Because of this stress, consumers are flocking to the internet for their holiday shopping needs. Shopping online is associated with convenience and saving money but there are other tools of the online shopping world that will help to make your 2012 holiday shopping spree as stress-free as possible. (Online store owners take note… your online store should offer some, if not all of these features to your holiday shoppers!)
Here are a few of my favorite things… err, favorite holiday shopping features, I mean.
- Customer Reviews
I <3 customer reviews. They are the best tool for determining the quality and function of a product before we buy it. If you have a smart phone, you can look up reviews while shopping brick-n-mortar stores but they’re especially helpful when shopping online because you do not get the chance to see products in real life before you purchase (and possibly ship) them. Online stores that offer customer reviews not only help their customer base but they also increase content for their site, making it more SEO friendly.
- Product Recommendations
Sometimes you can still be unsure of a product, even when it has glowing reviews. If the site you’re shopping has product recommendations on the side, however, you can quickly and easily move from one similar product to the next instead of leaving that website and going to another. Product recommendations help indecisive buyers by recommending other like items. This either strengthens a positive opinion of the 1st product or helps you move on to the next. Keeping shoppers on your site instead of losing them to another leads to increased sales for eMerchants, far and wide!
- Online Wish Lists
Ahh, wish lists, the virtual dream registry. When I discover a friend has a wish list going on their favorite web shop, I feel like I’ve found the pot’o’gold at the end of the rainbow. Wishlists ensure that I pick something they like and it lets me shop around in their favorites for something that I would like to send them, as well. It’s a win-win situation. Now… how do we get all of our friends and family to make them before the holidays?
- Online Gift Certificates
The safety of an online gift certificate is appealing to many. It’s easy to buy, you don’t have to wrap it and… most people love getting them. They’ve become so easy that nowadays, you don’t even have to buy a card for one; instead, you can send it by email! Emailed gift certificates make sure that they recipient gets it on time (even if you bought it late), and ensures that they can’t lose it before they spend it (like I did a million times with cards of the past). Other than the fact that they’re a little boring, there’s really no downside to an online gift card.
Donate a goat in someone’s name… it helps a family in poverty feed themselves and charity is perfect for someone who has everything!
What on EARTH do you get for the person who has everything? Or for your crunchy friends who hate consumerism? Or for your friends with ‘causes’? Taking the altruistic approach to holiday cheer is the best way for many and a great way to share the spirit of the holiday in a kind way. My personal favorite site is Kiva but it was pretty awesome when my parents donated a goat to a family in S. America for my last birthday present! Other great charities include our SF local, Help a Mother Out, and Charity Choice, the site that allows you to set an amount and have your giftee pick their own charity out of a list of over 250!
Shopping online for the holidays has definitely opened up a way to avoid the holiday rush, crowds and crazy drivers. Keep these features on the top of your brain so you can utilize them to find the best possible gifts for your friends, loved ones or the local charity Christmas tree! And if you’re an eMerchant as well as a holiday shopper, make sure your eCommerce solution software is optimized with some of these great features.
By Susan Delly
November 8, 2012
In today’s competitive market, it’s important for your brand to be noticed and remembered, as long as it’s in a good way. The proper website can help get the attention you deserve by attracting customers, increasing revenue and putting organic, word of mouth talk out about your company. This type of website building is harder than it may seem, however, as every store will have different needs and different paths to success. Like many other features in eCommerce, everything depends on your target audience as every different set of consumers will have different needs and wants. That being said, after you determine your ideal customer grouping, there are some standard features that will help you make sure your business stands out from the rest!
- A Professional Design– Making sure your website looks good at first glance can turn a browser into a shopper and instill a sense of trust. To do this, you’ll need professionally designed templates or a web designer. One of the worst things to encounter when shopping online is a site that looks sketchy or like it was built in the Miami Vice days. If the web shop owner doesn’t care enough to keep their look and feel up-to-date… how can we trust that they are reliable and keep their security up-to-date?! One of the top reasons for a high bounce rate, shopping cart abandonment and low revenue is an ugly, untrustworthy looking site. This is an easy fix though as most hosted eCommerce solutions software offers free, built-in themes and templates that are professionally designed.
CoreCommerce eCommerce software offers many free, professionally designed themes!
- A Clean, Easy-to-Navigate Page Layout – Enough cannot be said about making sure your page has an uncomplicated layout. Products and relevant information should be easy to search for and the shopping cart check-out process should alwaysbe quick and uncomplicated. Never require registration to complete a purchase. Instead, go for an onsite, 1-page check-out system and make sure you offer many payment options; this includes all major credit cards, PayPal and even possibly, Amazon Checkout! If a shopper has a hard time finding the products they want or finds themselves in a lengthy sales process that asks too many questions, they are likely to leave your site with no sale completion.
Nexternal‘s eCommerce solution offers a unique and extremely user-friendly On-Screen shopping cart. The cart automatically totals a purchase while you shop, reducing cart abandonment.
- Sales and Promo – Who’s guilty of price shopping? And when you find a great deal on a trustworthy site, do you share it with your friends? Most people are more likely to shop and return to sites that offer good pricing and sales events. Yes, almost everyone likes a good deal and luckily, nowadays there are many ways of delivering one. You can promote coupon codes, free shipping, buy-one-get-one-free, and other incentives through outlets such as email, blogs, and social media. If you set your store up with quality and customer needs in mind, you will drive traffic to your site with the sales and promotions you offer. Once the traffic is there, a clear call to action is important to ensure easy navigation. A call to action is usually a clickable button that draws user attention and encourages them to complete an action such as BUY NOW, READ MORE or REGISTER HERE. Be sure to place them well and not overuse call of action buttons as they can make a site appear gimmicky, if used wrong.
- An Interesting Logo – Since the beginning of commerce, kings and merchants alike have used methods such as seals, cattle brands, coins, statues, and other markings, in the same way that we use them today… as name or brand recognition. Logos can provide immediate insight on what a company is about and give impressions of a brand’s style at a glance. Best of all… logos lead to product recognition in a similar way that a catchy advertising song or motto would. Because of this, it’s important to put some time into your logo and take advantage of all the branding opportunities it provides. Think about what works for your target audience and create your logo around them, with an eye on the future. We recommend that you seek professional guidance and even hire a graphic designer to create your logo. After all, it’ll prove to be a major part of your brand recognition.
Top solutions like AShop Commerce can design custom logos for your online shop. Great logos are not cheap but are 100% worth the investment as they provide your company branding.
Pulling together a website is a complicated process that can be simplified with the help of hosted eCommerce solutions software. Following these tips can help you stand out from the competition, be remembered and shared by your audience, and will put you on your way to becoming the next trend.
Get your site ready for holiday spending!
By Kelly Ford
November 5th, 2012
Smart applications of online video foster the highest levels of brand engagement and deliver on key performance marketing objectives, so the holidays are the perfect time for retailers to invest in video and leverage it across all channels, from website, to email communications, to advertising campaigns.
This upcoming holiday season eMarketer predicts online retail sales will account for nearly 25 percent of 2012 revenue, and we predict that online video will be a factor in driving that revenue. So whether you’ve been preparing your site since July or are getting ready now, these five video tips are sure to enhance holiday marketing initiatives to effectively engage customers for maximum financial impact during the most competitive shopping season.
- Ensure on-site videos are mobile/tablet compatible
Not only should all of your videos be mobile and tablet-compatible year round, it is especially crucial this holiday season as tablet-based shopping is expected to boom. Consumers will shop both on the go and from their sofas via smartphones and tablets in the coming months. And not just online – many in-store experiences are including kiosks and sales associates with tablets for consumer browsing and purchasing if items are unavailable on the floor.
- Refresh video creativity to reflect holiday seasonality
This is an opportunity to refresh your brand personality by infusing videos with new, seasonal messages that are light and deliver cheer to your customers. A great example of this is last year’s Overstock.com holiday video ad, which brings the holiday spirit to the viewer while showcasing the brand’s values, namely superior customer service.
This year, West Elm’s on-site product videos will have a seasonal theme for the holiday shopping period. Likewise, a top US family vacation destination applies seasonal creativity, too, in order to refresh their year-round video program that welcomes visitors to their vacation. Treatment includes seasonal themes such as snowfall, Santa hats, Christmas festivities, holiday CTAs “add this gift to your cart,” and the inclusion of key dates such as the last order date for timely delivery, last date for gift returns and exchanges.
- Keep video ads updated to reflect promotions and price changes
Ever-changing promotions, door-busters and time-sensitive sales are great tactics for incentivizing customers, yet can pose a challenge for brands to ensure such communications are always up-to-date. Utilizing smart, real-time video technology ensures communications reflect these changing offers. Timely videos also deliver a better user experience that ultimately increases customer loyalty and retention.
- Create personalized video recommendations for customer’s shopping list
Understand your audience and anticipate their needs this season. Videos that are personally relevant to your shoppers not only support them throughout the ecommerce experience, but also develop loyal customers who will keep coming back long after the New Year. Create your video holiday gift guides with infused personalized content to engage holiday shoppers and make your message more relevant. Smart, real-time videos can include the customer’s recent browsing behavior and products viewed, and recommend related items to recently purchased gifts.
- Create video content that supports your customers through the holidays
Video content that educates consumers during the holiday mayhem is another engaging way to drive brand loyalty. For instance, a few years ago Target partnered with YouTube and created a “Holiday Solutions” video channel that shared recipes, party tips and gift ideas. This type of video content conveys the ability to understand and cater to customer needs and interests. Take this a step further with personalization, presenting tips and ideas that are relevant to purchase history and demographics.
Luxury brands, specialty retailers and mass merchants are all embracing online video as not only a marketing tactic, but also a customer engagement tool, proven to boost sales, brand impact and loyalty. The holiday season is an ideal time to maximize the power of video, and it’s not too late to enhance your marketing initiatives with video today.
A product of both established and emerging organizations, guest author Kelly Ford is a technology marketer and optimist who has built a 18-year career on a passion for breaking new ground. She comes to SundaySky from Operative Media, where, as Senior Vice President of Marketing, she led initiatives to establish and scale the company as the leader in advertising business management, including the acquisition and integration of its primary competitor. Prior to Operative, Kelly headed marketing for LivePerson, leading go-to-market and demand generation initiatives that resulted in 85 percent revenue growth during her tenure. Kelly also previously held senior management roles at Oriel, Groove Networks (now Microsoft) and IBM.
As Vice President of Marketing at SundaySky, Kelly sets and executes strategies that build presence and pipeline, and ensure SmartVideo category leadership. Kelly received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Michigan State University.
By Nicolas Fincher
October 31, 2012
Getting Mobile-Ready – Being Sleek or Being Smart
Only a few years ago, mobile gadgets like smartphones, iDevices and tablet PCs were the signs of eminence – because of their rather high price, only well-off people could afford these technological advancements. However, as a natural matter of progress, today’s mobile devices have lost their value and become standard attributes of our everyday life. Many families even have a device for every member, including children.
These changes reflect the current tendencies in the m-commerce and mobile stores, turning them from fashion trends into urgent necessity. Originally, many online business owners created mobile versions for their web stores in order to stand out from the crowd and be on the cutting edge of the latest trends. Today however, as you’ve probably noticed, clients are getting more and more addicted to their smartphones, iPhones, iPads, etc. They use their mobile devices for the great variety of purposes, including online shopping. This makes m-commerce a necessity.
Many modern shoppers appreciate (and almost expect) the opportunity to visit web stores and make necessary purchases while they are on-the-go, without being tied down to their home or office computers. Most online stores admit that their mobile traffic makes a significant contribution to the overall traffic they get on a daily basis, and this volume is increasing every single day. Moreover, some online ventures confess that before going mobile-ready, they had received many complaints saying that their websites needed mobile versions.
Nowadays, it has become imperative to make your e-commerce website mobile-friendly and provide your visitors with an ultimate shopping experience from their smartphones and iDevices. Otherwise, there may be a high chance for your web store to be viewed as outdated and it will be increasingly difficult to gain and retain a competitive edge on the modern market.
Various media sources report that today’s m-commerce market is progressive commerce and is growing every single day. In other words, we have entered a so-called mobile-tablet era. While getting more powerful and functional, modern mobile devices and tablet PCs provide users with a much more convenient and improved web surfing experience, including online shopping, and thus deliver online business owners new, remarkable opportunities to improve brand awareness and increase sales.
No doubt, getting a mobile-optimized web store version is no longer a fashion tribute, but rather an urgent need for every online venture aimed to grow, expand and succeed on the modern highly-competitive Web market. Let’s sum up the most crucial advantages of having a mobile presence:
- Be more available to modern, on-the-go markets.
- Stay on top of the latest e-commerce trends.
- Increase your overall traffic rates.
- Attract more prospects with additional accessibility.
- Show your visitors that you’re a customer-oriented business.
Mobile Applications vs. Mobile Websites
Do you wonder what the best way to go mobile is? There are two basic concepts for establishing a mobile presence; you can download and install a mobile application for web store browsing or you can make sure your e-commerce website is optimized for a full-fledged mobile experience.
At first glance, the download and installation requirements for mobile applications may impose a sort of barrier between your visitors and your website. However, there are certain market niches and cases where this necessity really makes sense. For example, interactive e-commerce projects (e.g. web gaming portals), complicated sets of data that need manipulation, and anything that would like to function without internet connections are best through mobile apps.
Mobile websites may not be best for the specific markets above but they’re perfect if you want a website that is instantly available, without any download requirement. They are also easier to maintain, update, share and… they cost less. Any website can eventually be turned into an application so, in many cases, it may be best to start here.
Luckily, today there are plenty of powerful and efficient programs and applications you can take advantage of to make your online store mobile-ready for viewing and shopping. Take your time to choose the optimal solution for your business and establish an ultimate, multifunctional mobile presence for your web store
Guest author Nicolas Fincher is a community and marketing manager at CS-Cart, an established company specializing in online shopping cart systems.
Prepare for holidays by strategizing for different global customs and shoppers around the world!
By Liz Elting
October 18, 2012
With the holidays quickly approaching, online businesses are strategizing now to prepare for the influx of shoppers around the world who will flood the Internet looking for the best deals. In fact, many online retailers are putting the final touches on their site codes and will launch holiday-themed landing pages before the end of October. While most retailers understand the need for optimized, consumer-facing initiatives during the holiday season, if these initiatives are in English only, those businesses will miss a huge opportunity to increase holiday revenues and build brand loyalty with consumers who either need or prefer to shop in other languages. For example, a retail site that offers Web content and product information in Spanish but provides an English-only checkout can see as much as a 90 percent drop in conversion rates. A retailer that offers in-language content and checkout options, as well as recognition of Hispanic culture or imagery can expand its conversion rates significantly.
A global message with a localized approach
E-commerce companies are faced with the challenge of reaching a wide scope of consumers with different backgrounds, cultures, and languages. Even the word “holiday” has different connotations in different parts of the world. One message can have a different meaning for different audiences. Online shoppers have choices, and they want to be exposed to content when, where, and how they want it. This is where content localization comes into play; retailers must take into consideration the culture and atmosphere in which the message is distributed in order to drive the accuracy of the message beyond language translation. To perfect localization, marketers are partnering with language service providers to reach global audiences and present relevant messages to targeted customers in key markets. In doing so, online businesses can capitalize on brand engagement and convert shoppers to buyers.
E-commerce beyond the campaign and throughout the sales lifecycle
Content translation and localization is crucial to the effectiveness of a global, online campaign, but that is just the first step. Shoppers will visit retail sites this holiday season with the expectation that they will read messaging in their native languages from the initial browsing stage until the point of checkout and even post-sale with shipping and return instructions. In-language customer support must be available via phone, online chat and email in order to create an environment as interactive and supportive as an in-person sale. Shoppers who invest the time to seek customer support are likely serious buyers, and online businesses must meet their needs in order to guarantee sales.
To ensure accuracy and proper sentence structure, make sure your translation service has the help of professionally trained people.
Translation beyond the machine
Machine translation has been a long-standing solution for converting large amounts of content into various languages in order to reach a global consumer base, but it has flaws. To get it right, machine translation needs the help of trained people who can check for context and accuracy. Not all words and phrases mean the same thing across borders. In fact, within one language, take Spanish as an example, a word or phrase can have a different meaning to people in Mexico than it does to people in Puerto Rico. A poor translation can send a negative message about your brand, encouraging online shoppers to abandon ship and shop elsewhere. Marketers need to keep the human element in mind. What message are you trying to convey, and how are members of different cultures going to perceive it? This can be addressed in a number of ways. They can present your team with suggested alternatives that will ensure a positive message in your target market.
Your holiday shopping strategy is crucial to closing your company’s revenue for the year on a strong note. According to a recent report from eMarketer, online holiday sales are expected to account for nearly a quarter of the $224.2 billion in U.S. retail e-commerce sales forecasted for 2012. With the proper strategy, preparation, and resources, e-commerce companies can capitalize on the most prosperous time of year for online retail. With so much riding on your holiday sales, it makes sense to globalize your approach and work with a language service provider to increase your customer base.
Guest author Liz Elting co-founded TransPerfect in 1992. Today, TransPerfect is the world’s largest privately held provider of language and business services with more than $300 million in revenue. The company, which continues to be owned entirely by its co-founders, operates in 70 countries with more than 2,000 employees worldwide. Elting oversees the day-to-day operations of the company, headquartered in New York City. She has earned numerous awards for her outstanding entrepreneurship, including Working Woman’s Entrepreneurial Excellence Award for Customer Service, the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and American Express and Entrepreneur’s Woman of the Year Award.
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