By Lanette Willis
May 6, 2013
Have your online business within reach at all times with a mobile dash board app!
It’s become standard these days for eCommerce platforms to have some kind of dashboard feature. So standard in fact, that it’s easy to assume every dashboard is basically the same, and to overlook the true power and convenience that can be offered by this tool. Not all eCommerce solution dashboards out there are the same. With the right mix of data, a great dashboard should offer you an unparalleled ability to keep an eye on your store’s performance, alert you to trends, identify opportunities for growth, uncover and resolve breaks in your sales funnel, and give you peace of mind – all in an instant.
A dashboard must deliver important statistics quickly and easily. This is not necessarily for heavy reporting, but rather the place for information at a glance. Thus, one critical component is the ability see data instantly when you open the dashboard. You shouldn’t need to click anything, and the data should just be in front of you.
Easy to read graphs are also key. They say a picture speaks a thousand words, and your dashboard also needs to do this! Bar charts, line graphs, and pie charts allow you to see and process the essence of the data in seconds.
Having the ability to see performance over time (month, week, day, etc.) allows for comparison & trending, and should definitely be included. How were your sales last month, versus this month? Are sales increasing steadily across the last 3 months? A dashboard should be able to show you this.
A great dashboard offers the user the ability to change time frame of graphics (year, month, day, etc.). For example, typically you may be interested in seeing your sales data across the last 2 months, but if you’re running a promotion, you might be more interested in studying a day or week’s data to track the success of your promotion.
Sales data and visitor data should be offered in the dashboard, and both should be visible across an adjustable time period. Knowing that you’ve made $x for the year allows you to tell if you’re on target. How is your traffic? Usually, traffic is tied to sales. If you just released a promotion, you should see the spike in visitors, letting you know that your promotion is working. Likewise, if you don’t see this spike, it could alert you to a problem along the line. If you were only tracking sales, and not visitors, you might think there was some other on-site conversion problem.
We’ve already discussed the importance of the dashboard information to be presented quickly and clearly. It’s all about instant information. The ability to have palm-of-your-hand mobile access to your dashboard takes it to a new level.
If you’re in the interested in previewing a topnotch eCommerce dashboard, you may want to check-out, Nexternal, one of ZippyCart’s top reviewed eCommerce solution. This shopping cart software has just released a Dashboard Plus for iPhone and iPad users, so you don’t even need to boot up a computer to check in on your online business. Grab your iPhone, click a button, and there are all your stats, and peace of mind. Dashboard Plus is available for free in Apple’s App Store and can be downloaded here.
Guest author Lanette Willis is a Senior Account Manager at Nexternal. Before joining Nexternal she spent nearly a decade working in market research and professional services marketing, before running her own successful eCommerce apparel business. Lanette is passionate about both marketing and eCommerce.
By Susan Delly
March 8, 2013
One of the things that we love about Shopping Cart software is innovative and fast paced… it’s always improving. This is especially apparent when you look at the shopping cart solutions on ZippyCart’s top carts of 2013 comparison list.
Here are a few recent upgrades and changes that are worth noting.
- Fortune3 – after a recent upgrade, the team at Fortune3 was pleased to announce their integration with Endicia, for all of your shipping needs. It’ll now be easier to print postage and labels online!
- PinnacleCart – as of March 15, 2013, PinnacleCart.com has decided to focus their efforts on their hosted solution and no longer offer their licensed solution. They will still be providing the same quality support to their existing licensed stores and right now, they have a killer offer for those who want to get in on their licensed product last minute. Check them out if you’re interested!
- AmeriCommerce - with the latest upgrade, they added new embedding tools, blog widgets, a customer reward system, additional payment options, a new coupon code generator, a bunch of new apps and 2 new themes. They’ve been busy over at AmeriCommerce!
- Ashop – a company on the rise… AshopCommerce is currently taking on some major upgrades. They have recently put out an amazing new admin design and layout and have disabled some features that were outdated, to make for a smoother, easier navigation. For more information, check out their ZippyCart review and site.
- Shopify – version 3.4 of Shopify mobile was recently released and with it comes some stress reducing goodies. Their new mobile dashboard allows eMerchants to access key orders and products easily, as well as manage batch or multiple orders with one click!
With the whirlwind of changes and improvements, the eMerchant always wins!
Let’s take a closer look at 3 of the top eCommerce solutions on the market!
By Halyna Yefymchuk
Feb 25, 2013
Hosted shopping carts have rapidly gained popularity on the market because of their reasonable price and ease-of use. The most confusing part of them is… which one to pick?! Common questions that merchants ask regard the difference in platforms functionality and pricing, as many of the top ranked carts seem to be pretty much the same. Hosted environment, reasonable monthly pricing, standard set of eCommerce features, free trial periods – this is what you will find in almost all of ZippyCart’s hosted solutions. However, a closer look at the platform will definitely show the difference. To satisfy your interest let’s consider three popular shopping carts and answer all your whys, whats and hows.
What is Pinnacle?
Pinnacle is a shopping platform developed by Desert Dog Software LLC. It comes with both hosted and licensed versions, which is a huge plus when considering scalability, but for now, we will concentrate on hosted Pinnacle cart.
When did it appear on the market?
The exact date of the appearance of hosted shopping cart cannot be followed, however official sources show that the software developers of Pinnacle cart already had 20 years of experience in the Internet industry when they launches the platform in 2003.
How much does it cost?
The minimal pricing plan costs $30 per month. However, the plan is limited allowing 1GB of traffic and disc space of 100 MB. The amount of products however is unlimited, and all of the basic eCommerce features are included. This minimal plan also requires set up fee in the amount of $49. The benefit of pricing system is that you can change your plan whenever you need that.
Who can use the shopping cart?
Newbies and eCommerce experts both love Pinnacle Cart’s shopping cart as it satisfies the needs of large or small business owners. It is especially popular with stores looking to upgrade as their store grows but is suitable for startups also, as it is user friendly and makes store launch easy.
Why choose Pinnacle cart for your business?
Pinnacle shopping platform offers a number of beneficial features among which are daily backups, high quality support, total control of storefront design with “Design Mode” toolbar, digital and physical products, guest checkout and advanced SEO tools. In fact, they offer the one of the most generus feature sets on the market. Pinnacle Cart is a complete eCommerce solution that is extremely secure. They go the extra mile in guaranteeing their online stores have top notch security with their PA-DSS compliance.
Where can I get Pinnacle cart?
Just follow the links on ZippyCart’s comparison carts or review pages!
What is Core Commerce?
CoreCommerce is a hosted SaaS currently used to create over 13 000 web stores. The solution is developed by a company CoreCommerce Inc., based in Franklin, TN.
When did it appear on the market?
The shopping cart was created in 2001. First the company launched a licensed platform digiSHOP, and in 2008 it version was adapted to create hosted solution CoreCommerce.
How much does it cost?
The monthly pricing plan starts from $24.99 and includes all the basic platform functionality. It charges no setup and transaction fees, however limits the number of products you can sell to 150. The bandwidth is also limited to 2GB. All pricing plans include Support that claims to be a “legendary one”.
Who can use the shopping cart?
The shopping cart usability and high quality customer service the shopping cart combined with 0ther scalable offerings make this software a great option for start ups and already experienced store owners.
Why choose CoreCommerce?
First of all, CoreCommerce is extremely customer oriented. The company reacts to customer suggestions and provides updates based on them. As a result, new features or improvements are released often. Also the merchant can benefit from vast possibilities of integration. CoreCommerce can be integrated with Google Checkout, Checkout by Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, eBay, SEO tools, Shopzilla, Google product search, Amazon, etc. Among other great features are Image Zoom, design editing via CSS and HTML, real-time shipping, customer groups.
Where can I get CoreCommerce?
To find CoreCommerce, please follow the links on ZippyCart’s comparison carts or review pages!
What is 3DCart?
3DCart is a Margate, FL-based hosted cart developed by 3Dcart Shopping Carts.
When did it appear on the market?
The company is in eCommerce business since 1997. First it developed custom eCommerce solutions, but in 2001 introduced their own shopping cart software. Currently the platform powers over 5 000 stores.
How much does it cost?
The platform offers a ‘mini’ package for $19.99, which appears to be the cheapest solution out of the three listed in this article, extras not considered. This plan is limited to 100 products and allows low traffic rates. However it offers hundreds of featuress and over 50 marketing tools.
Who can use the shopping cart?
The aim of the developers was to create a shopping cart suitable for merchants with little or no programming knowledge to make their store launch easy and quick. However the set of powerful features will satisfy experienced users and webmasters. Thus the owners of small to large business can use the platform equally beneficially.
Why choose 3DCart?
Having solid experience in the industry, 3DCart is flexible to different business requirements. The advanced features that you will get with 3DCart include mCommerce templates and Social Commerce integration, product reviews, rich set of inventory management features and over 25 SEO tools to get high rankings. Apart from that, 3DCart can boast of exclusive features: image 3dZoom, gift registry, auto follow up and integrated blog.
Where can I get 3DCart?
Just follow the links on ZippyCart’s comparison carts or review pages!
Now that you’ve got the answers on basic questions you may go ahead and make deeper research of features that are included in each hosted shopping cart. Or choose the suitable solution immediately and start developing your business with a new eCommerce solution!
Guest author Halyna Yefymchuk is a Marketing Assistant at MagneticOne, developer of Cart2Cart – an automated shopping cart migration service. Find out more information about migration to/from PinnacleCartSoftware, CoreCommerceSoftware and 3DCartSoftware.
By Jordan Foutz, eCom expert of PinnacleCart.com
October 22, 2012
In the realm of eCommerce software there are two basic options to decide between: lease a hosted solution or purchase the licensed version. For those that don’t know, licensed shopping cart users pay a one-time fee to “license” the software and then install it on a web server so they can run their store. With hosted solutions, the online merchant pays a monthly fee for both the software and the hosting environment it resides in. Every business is unique in its needs so our goal to help you decide which version is better for your online store.
There are positives and negatives to both solutions; today we’re going to look at both to help you better understand what solution works best for you.
First let’s look at the advantages a licensed solution provides.
- You control the hosting environment so you can customize your cart as necessary.
- You can choose when and how to keep updated with current applications and code.
- It is more portable and can be moved to hosting companies of your choice.
- You are responsible for the hosting environment. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your level of technical expertise or the level of expertise of the hosting company you select. But generally speaking, you are responsible for technical aspects of your store.
- Licensed software typically has a higher start-up cost than hosted does. This may not be the best for those just starting out but when you look at the big picture, it has a much better overall value as your only paying for the software once and will continue to use it for year.
Hosted shopping cart packages give you the following benefits:
- Reputable ecommerce solution providers will provide you a PCI compliant hosting environment, free of charge.
DO NOT consider any solution that isn’t PCI compliant.
- If you are trying to reduce costs during your first year of business, the overall costs of a hosted solution are less than the one-time fees of licensed software.
- Everything is included in a hosted set-up as the site and shopping cart are bundled together under one server. From email hosting to customer support, you’re covered. That means less troubleshooting for you!
Hosted shopping cart packages give you the following drawbacks:
- You do not have much control over the design of your store front.
- Generally speaking, you are very limited on the amount of customizations you can make to the feature set. Most hosted solutions update the software globally which can wipe out any code changes you make.
- Your business is tied into the offerings of the ecommerce provider you select. As your business grows you will need additional server space, bandwidth and more. You selected provider will control these costs and you’ll have to pay the fees they charge.
- Over time, hosted solutions never stop charging their monthly fees (and transaction fees, where applicable). To get out of monthly fees, you will need to upgrade to a licensed solution.
Both solutions have their advantages and disadvantages. Hosted eCommerce (sometimes called SaaS) are a fantastic way to start an ecommerce store. The cost of start-up is much lower, when compared to licensed solutions, and most of the technical aspects of the store are managed by the provider, allowing you to spend your time on the things that matter most, like making money. Licensed solutions provide greater freedom and flexibility, which you’ll need as business grows.
Choosing between licensed and hosted eCom software will depend on you business needs… but there may be a 3rd option!
So what should you do?
My suggestion is to use an eCommerce solution that can offer you both. Selecting a company that offers both hosted and licensed provides your business the maximum flexibility and allows your business to grow without constraint or limitations. While it’s true that most shopping cart companies fall on only offer one type of solution, either hosted or licensed, if you do your research (or use a site like zippycart.com, which does it for you ) you’ll find a couple of companies that offer both, such as Pinnacle Cart and CoreCommerce.
Remember this is a fundamental decision that could dramatically affect the outcome of your business for years to come. Make sure you plant your business in soil that will allow it to germinate and flourish and help you achieve the success and lifestyle you seek.
By Jessica Sanders
October 15, 2012
There are a number of ways you can go about choosing the shopping cart software that’s right for your business. From cost effectiveness to user friendly credit card processing, the most important aspect is your customer.
When looking for a successful shopping cart for your eTail storefront, you want to keep in mind two things: what you customer needs to make the purchase and what they want from your ecommerce platform in general.
Top Notch Analytics
The first step in finding customer-friendly, shopping cart software is to seek out superb analytics. While this will be great for the customer, it’s also very beneficial to you. Knowing where they come from, where they go upon reaching your site, and why they abandon the cart allows you to modify the process making it better for them.
- Keyword uses: What keywords are your customers using to find you? This gives you an idea of what they want, allowing you to give them that.
- Overall navigation: Where do they travel when on your site? Does it seem like they’re searching for something they can’t find, or clicking away when you ask for too much information?
- Why they dropped off: Many eTailers are dealing with cart abandonment – dropping off the purchasing cycle before making that purchase. Did they need more customer reviews? Were they misguided by your marketing? Find out what they need to make that purchase.
Specific Customer Needs
When it comes down to it, what your customer wants is what you should be giving them. While you can use analytics to improve your site and navigation, there are specific things you know your customers will need. Consider the following:
- Credit card options: Visa, MasterCard, Discover – do you accept all of them or just some? Do you accept payments through PayPal and Amazon Checkout? Your customers are as diverse as their purchasing methods, and your adherence to that should be a priority.
- Gift certificate use: Do you offer gift certificates? Be sure that they can be used online.
- Coupon capability: If you use coupons, customers should be able to use them at your eStore. Whether you use a code or go by customer name, it’s advantageous to you for the technology to be there.
Designed for the Customer
Finally, you want a solution that is not only equipped for your customers, but designed specifically for them. The only person that can do that is someone familiar with your customer and your business. Thus, being able to customize the program post-purchase will be critical to taking a customer-focused approach to finding the right software. Some customization you might want to consider includes:
- Customer reviews: This might be the difference between making a sale or not. Your customer often needs this positive reinforcement before clicking “check out”, and it should be built into the interface.
- Similar products: Upsell and provide that little extra by offering similar products throughout the process.
You wouldn’t need shopping cart software if you didn’t have customers purchasing from you, so why not choose the right one for them? Consider what they need, what they want, and how you can give that to them with the right software options.
Guest author Jessica Sanders is an avid small business writer. As the marketing copyeditor of Resource Nation, she touches on a range of topics such as Credit Card Processing, POS systems and sales software.
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Sept 21, 2012
Choosing the right ecommerce solution can be difficult for any business. There are hundreds of solutions available, each with different features — some of which seem like necessities, and some of which you may never use. So, what do you really need in an ecommerce platform?
Here’s a quick guide to finding the ecommerce features that are absolutely necessary for your business.
Rock-Solid Customer Service
No solution is perfect. Every ecommerce platform will eventually run into some form of problem, ranging from minor annoyances to serious problems that could cost you money if not fixed quickly. Good customer service can mean the difference between a temporary problem and lost revenue.
Look for honest, objective evaluations of the ecommerce provider’s customer service. Is it available when needed? How do your fellow businesses rate the customer service? What problems may you run into and how are they solved?
Questions to ask: How large is your customer support team? Is it in-house, or outsourced? Will I be connected with an employee, or go through an answering service? Is service available during the hours I’ll need it, or better yet, 24/7?
PCI-Compliance and Fraud Protection
One of the realities of doing business on the Internet is that you have a relatively high exposure to fraud. A lesser known fact is that the cardholder is not liable for the cost in these situations so the burden of handling fraud and loss falls to you, the online business owner who failed to protect against fraud. Ecommerce solutions need to be PCI-Compliant and have tools in place — first, to stop fraud, and second, in the event those tools fail, a policy to make sure that any fraud is properly redressed. If they have higher compliance than PCI-Comliance, such as PA-DSS compliance, even better!
Questions to ask: What is your average chargeback rate? How much will a disputed charge cost me? What security measures are in place to protect fraudulent transactions, such as SSL certifications? Have they been verified secure by a trusted source?
Customization and Website Integration
In ecommerce, there is no “one size fits all.” Every business will have a different need and find a different ‘perfect’ eCommerce solution. Some businesses need to simply accept credit cards securely. Others need to have customers register for accounts. Still others will need more specialized tools, like Intuit integration. Any ecommerce solution you consider should be easily tailored to your needs.
Questions to ask: How easy is it to design (and redesign) page templates? Does the all packages and quoted prices come with all available features, or do some cost extra? What other features might I need in the future?
The moment of truth.
Payment Options and Gateways
Online and mobile payments are a rapidly expanding industry, with new technologies arriving every day. PayPal, Google Wallet, and more exotic options such as Bitcoin sit alongside more common payment methods such as credit cards and electronic checks. While not all payment options will be right for you, you should be able to adapt to new payment methods as they arise. When choosing an eCommerce solution, consider your needs as it’s possible your online shop would benefit from a company that offers many payment gateways.
Questions to ask: What payment gateways and options are currently accepted? Are Amex and Discover included? PayPal? What is the strategy for accepting new forms of payment going forward?
The right eCommerce system will help you grow sales, which presents you with a new challenge: can your ecommerce system keep up with the growth? If you’re hosting your ecommerce platform yourself, you’ll need to hire IT and development employees to support your ecommerce platform as it grows.
The other option is a fully hosted eCommerce solution, such as CoreCommerce, AmazonWebstore or Pinnacle Cart. Not only do these companies have the infrastructure to scale with your business, but details like security and software updates will be taken care of automatically.
Questions to ask: Where are your servers hosted? What’s the largest customer you currently support? What’s your uptime percentage? Can you support my business when I grow to 10x my current size?
Optional, But Useful, Features
Bulk Uploading: If you have a large database of products, being able to add that database all at once can save you a lot of time when building your ecommerce solution.
Template Options: Some solutions come with multiple pre-designed “templates,” which can be useful if you want a tested storefront instead of a custom design.
Domain Transfer: Being able to transfer your entire store can save you a lot of time and work.
Image Support: Being able to tag your images with SEO terms, and allowing customers to manipulate them (for example, by magnifying the image) can be a very useful sales tool.
Cart Abandonment Remarketing: Being able to reconnect with your clients and tempt them back to complete a sale is a powerful marketing tool that helps save lost revenue.
There’s an ecommerce solution for everybody, and at ZippyCart we’ll help you find the one that’s best for you. Be sure to ask about these features when shopping around.
By Susan Delly
June 15th, 2012
Every spring, the world eagerly gathers to watch The Academy Awards, an event that honors the dazzling film industry and is televised live in more than 100 countries annually, with more than 39 million viewers in North America alone. We swoon as film industry elites hypnotize us with gorgeous smiles, clothes and speeches. On the business professional side of life however, another type of annual awards ceremony takes place, The Stevie Awards. This ceremony honors the achievements, outstanding contributions and hard work of the business world across 60 countries and has been referred to as “the business world’s own Oscar awards” by the New York Post. The Stevie trophy is even designed by R.S. Owens, the same company that makes the Oscar and is considered by many to be the world’s most desirable honor.
2012 is celebrating the 10th Annual Stevie Awards and they’ve started with more popularity than ever before! Having originated as a way to recognize good business leaders and “restore public confidence and investor trust”, the Stevie Awards are closely watched by the business community because of their reputation for fair and accurate recognition. Finalists are determined in preliminary judging over a five week period in which more than 140 executives vote on nominated companies. Gold, Silver, and Bronze finalists are then determined in final judging by more than 150 members of 10 specialized final judging committees.
Stevie Awards programs include The American Business Awards, The International Business Awards, For Women in Business, and For Sales & Customer Service. Currently, The American Business Award finalists have been announced but the other 3 categories are still accepting nominations. The final award presentations for The American Business Awards will be split into two award galas for the first time this year. The traditional awards banquet will be held in New York on June 18, and the tech awards gala will be hosted in San Francisco on September 17.
ZippyCart is proud to recognize one of their own Top 10 Best eCommerce Solutions, CoreCommerce, as a finalist in 3 categories; Computer Software, Programming and Design, and E-Commerce Website! They earned this recognition from more than 3000 submitted entries and 2012 marks the 3rd year that CoreCommerce has been a finalist of its award nomination.
Speaking on the nominations Matt DeLong, President and CEO stated, “We are grateful that CoreCommerce is being recognized for its products and services. We have been serving our customers with the best Ecommerce products and legendary services for over ten years. We love helping entrepreneurs and businesses sell their products online and are grateful to be recognized for such prestigious awards.”
CoreCommerce is a leading hosted eCommerce shopping cart software provider. Founded in 2001, the company provides an exceptional online solution for entrepreneurs, and small to medium size businesses allowing them to create a storefront and sell products around the world. CoreCommerce software integrates with a hundred partners offering payment gateways, shipping, product feeds, fulfillment, email marketing and social media. Its Legendary Support is second to none in the industry. For more information about CoreCommerce, please visit ZippyCart’s expert review.
Stay tuned in on the Stevie Awards as the traditional awards banquet in NYC is this Monday, June 18th! Look this fall, Sept 17th, for the tech awards gala in San Francisco,
March 18, 2012
By Susan D
Online sales are taking over. From 2002 to 2011, annual ecommerce spending went from 72 billion to over 256 billion, according to comScore Internet Marketing Research Company. This surge in online consumer activity has brought about millions of virtual stores and some stiff competition amongst retailers. Because of this, online business owners need to make sure they’re doing what they can to attract customers and guide them through to a satisfactory sale completion… and avoid the issue of abandoned shopping carts.
There is so much work that goes into making a successful online business. First, you have to put time and money into building an attractive storefront. Then you work on getting healthy traffic flow and marketing your products in an appealing way. Once these tasks have been completed, nobody wants to have a sale dropped in the final step of checking out! It’s terrible to see potential revenue sitting in an abandoned cart.
How can you avoid this? Choosing the best hosted eCommerce software solution for your store is the first step but there are other areas that we should look at as well. And first, let’s look at what causes a consumer to leave a shopping cart unfulfilled.
What can cause shopping cart abandonment?
There are a number of factors that leave a cart abandoned but here are some of the leading reasons.
- The cost of shipping is too high.
- The shopping cart check-out process is too long or complicated.
- The online store doesn’t seem trustworthy.
- The customer simply gets distracted or changes their mind.
Consumer decisions are made around these factors and in the end, you’re left with an uncompleted sale and lost revenue. Shopping cart abandonment is a serious problem. Depending on whose study you’re reading, it’s reported that anywhere from 30% to 75% of online sales are dropped with items in the cart, before the sale is complete.
How can we combat cart abandonment?
- Snip Shipping Costs: There are several things you can do to cut down on carts being dropped due to shipping costs. Most simply, you could offer an across-the-board lower shipping cost. If shipping costs seem fair and are closer to what the customer would expect to pay if they were shipping the product on their own, the sale is less likely to be dropped. If that isn’t a route you want to take, offer incentives such as free or discounted shipping with orders of more than say… $50. Promotions like this help take your customer to sale completion and boost the total amount of a sale. The important thing here is to figure out which shipping model works best for your company. Options include free shipping, shipping by weight/price/item or flat rate shipping.
- Un-Complicate the Check-out: To avoid confusion or distraction due to a long or complicated check-out, simplify your process! This is an incredibly important step in cart retention. The check-out process should have as few steps as possible and even offer 1-click check-out in certain situations, such as for returning customers. This means your store should not require registration to complete a purchase, should not ask questions that take a lot of time or are too personal, and should take all possible credit cards.
- Address Anxiety Over Site Security: Security is a big concern for many consumers and as an ecommerce merchant, it’s your personal responsibility to keep the customer safe and make them feel comfortable giving you their credit card and personal information over the computer. PCI-compliance is the first step to making sure you’re e-store is protected but in such a competitive market, it’s best to go the extra mile and make sure you’re using one of the few shopping carts that go the extra mile with online security and are PA-DSS compliant. Once you’ve protected your customers, tell them! Let them know you’ve taken care of them with a verification seal on your home page and at the beginning of their check-out process.
- Bring Back Distracted Consumers: There’s a chance your customers are simply getting distracted or changing their minds before they complete a sale. To reduce the chance of this happening, think about what may be causing it to happen. Do you have streamlined, user-friendly navigation to the shopping cart? Is the buying and shopping cart easy to edit and understand? If these types of questions check-out and you’re still looking at lost income from abandoned carts, reach out to your potential customer with emails that offer incentives and discounts to pull them back into the buy. Some shopping carts have this type of feature included in their set-up, which makes it an extremely easy and powerful way to stop shopping cart abandonment.
After managing your site with the above steps, you will see an increase in cart completion and customer retention. Dealing with these factors can help any ecommerce business owner turn ‘window shoppers’ into buyers and bring back customers that have abandoned their cart.
January 3, 2012
By the ZippyCart Content Team
The 2011 holiday shopping season is officially over and retailers have shifted their focus to the heaps of holiday gift returns coming in as we begin the New Year. Holiday returns are up 8% this year from the same time last year, which is due to more confident consumers and a 15% increase in online shopping profits this holiday season. Consumers engaged in more online spending this year than ever before resulting in $35.3 billion in ecommerce sales between Nov. 1 and Dec. 25.
Along with increased confidence in ecommerce spending, this year marked the first time since the financial crisis in 2008 that consumers have been notably less price sensitive during the holiday shopping season. According to a survey released last week by ForeSee, a customer experience analytics firm, free shipping, above competitive pricing, increased consumer satisfaction. The study found that Americans were less price sensitive during the 2011 holiday shopping season. Along with finding shoppers were less price sensitive this past holiday season, the study also highlighted the benefits of increased Customer satisfaction such as increased sales, loyalty, and positive word-of-mouth recommendations.
According to ForeSee, Amazon leads the pack in customer satisfaction, which is likely due to a combination of marketing efforts, customer service, inventory and competitive prices.
Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee, commented on Amazon’s unyielding success:
“E-retailers have consistently upped their game since we first started measuring holiday satisfaction in 2005, but Amazon is still the 800-pound gorilla of retail, and it just keeps getting better. It’s tough for a smaller retailer to compete with this level of dedication to providing an excellent customer experience.”
Although Amazon is known for competitive prices, retailers should shift their focus from a price-battle to a battle for customer satisfaction through different avenues. Freed also explained, “The aggressive promotions and discounts helped sales, but consumers wanted more from retailers.”
There are several ways (excluding price) e-tailers can ensure customers are highly satisfied with their online shopping experience. There are 4 categories that are particularly prevalent when it comes to customer satisfaction on ecommerce websites. These include:
- Free Shipping. As explored in ForeSee’s study, free shipping attracted many customers to spend their money online this holiday season. Free shipping is great for ecommerce solutions because it not only initially entices shoppers, but also provides and outstanding customer experience. There can be challenges that arise with offering free shipping, but oftentimes it is an explicit expectation of shoppers.
- Experience. Sites that are easy to navigate and provide useful and accurate information provide high customer satisfaction.
- Convenience. In a face-paced and busy culture, shoppers look for ecommerce conveniences like 24/7 availability and one-click checkout. If your shopping cart is not optimized for consumer convenience, satisfaction rates decline.
- Reliability. Do items ship quickly? Are consumers getting what they expect? Website reliability increases consumer confidence in your ecommerce solution and is a primary factor leading to customer satisfaction.
December 27, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Shopify app SumAll has completed an analysis of current Shopify customers providing insight on rising prices, increasing discounts, and decreased shipping costs. The study was conducted over four years (2007-2011) and derived findings from 30 million transactions from stores powered by Shopify.
Overall the data shows retailers are making more net revenue on each unit sold, while charging less on shipping and taxes. The average total revenue per unit has risen 12.3% from 2010 to 2011, and 73.9% from 2007 to 2011. As the graphic below illustrates, consumers spent an average of $19.86 per item purchased online in 2007 compared to and average of $39.37 in 2011.
The research from SumAll suggests the factors contributing to this jump in average spending over the past four years are inflation and a shift in items. The study determined a combination of consumer confidence in purchasing expensive items online and minor price inflation have resulted in increased consumer spending on ecommerce solutions throughout the past four years. Consumers’ enthusiastic adoption of mobile technology, tablets and daily deal sites have also significantly added to the growth of ecommerce spending, particularly in the past year.
The research also included interesting facts regarding discounts and shipping. From 2007 to 2011 the average discount percentage per unit sold has increased from an average of 11% to an average of over 19%. Daily deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial have drawn in the masses by offering deep discounts. Discounts and savings appeal to shoppers who love to feel like they are getting a good deal. In 2012, ecommerce retailers can attract consumers by showing them it’s not how much you spend, it’s how much you save that constitutes a good deal. SumAll offers this advice to e-tailers looking to draw in shoppers:
“Markup, then discount–perception is everything.”
Cheap or free shipping has been a primary angle retailers have been taking in 2011 to create a perception of discounts. Although SumAll found that shipping fees have actually risen 24.3% from 2007 to 2011, relative shipping rates have fallen. Gross sales have risen significantly faster than shipping costs (73.9% from 2007 to 2011), which has caused shipping relative to the purchase to fall from 11.7% and 8.6%. According to the study, free shipping offers can decrease cart abandonment by 20%.
Below is a graphic from SumAll that represents some of the key findings of this holiday shopping analysis.
Further research on holiday shopping this year shows an increase in the amount of people who continued their online shopping on Christmas Day. Although brick-and-mortar stores may have been closed for the holiday, many people logged onto retailers’ ecommerce solutions. In fact, IBM reported yesterday a 16.4% increase in the amount of shoppers making purchases and the dollar amount of those purchases made on mobile devices was up 179.2% from 2010. We’ll see if this crop of consumer confidence continues to rise or levels out as we ring in the new year.
December 16, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Ecommerce solution eBay coined the term “Green Monday” in 2007 to describe the second Monday in December, which for the past six years has marked the most (or second-most in 2005 and 2007) profitable shopping day of the year for online retailers. “Green Monday” has been exceptionally profitable for the past several years, but this holiday shopping season has blown previous season’s out of the water and merits the more appropriate name of “Manic Mondays.”
According to a study released by ComScore, the past 3 Mondays have all seen ecommerce profits exceeding $1 billion. Cyber Monday saw record breaking sales amounting to $1.25 billion, which, according to ComScore’s report, was followed by $1.17 billion in sales on Monday December 5, and sales of $1.13 billion this past Monday, December 12. This year’s string of “Manic Monday” sales mark the three most profitable online shopping days of 2011 and the continuing holiday success for ecommerce solutions.
In total, holiday shopping (from Nov. 1 to Dec. 12) has so far reached nearly $25 billion, up 15 percent from the same period last year. ComScore also reported a record of $6.1 billion spent in just last week ending December 11.
The most profitable product category this holiday season has been digital content and subscriptions, with a growth rate double that of the online sector as a whole. Jewelry and watches is the second-fastest growing category and consumer electronics led by flat screen TV’s and tablets rounds out the third.
Holiday ecommerce in the U.S. is expected to remain steady and increase 15 percent this year compared to the same time in 2010. The gains in online commerce significantly shadows the 2 to 3 percent gains predicted for overall retail sales this holiday season.
ComScore chairman Gian Fulgoni commented on this year’s holiday spending:
“These highlights represent another very positive sign for the holiday shopping season, as the week following ‘Cyber Week’ often experiences relative softness in spending momentum due to retailers pulling back on their promotional activity. As we enter what will be the heaviest week of the season for online retailers – beginning with ‘Green Monday’ on December 12 – all signs are now pointing to a strong finish to the season.”
Ecommerce accounts for less 5 percent of consumer spending, leaving ecommerce solutions like eBay and Amazon to vie for shopper’s business by offering discounts and daily promotions. eBay opened up several pop-up stores for shoppers who want to check out products in-person before making purchase and shoppers have seen more free shipping offers than ever from Amazon this year.
December 14, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
TapBuy is a new technology that aims to simplify the m-commerce checkout process and increase conversion rates. Available now to retailers, developers, and shopping aggregators, TapBuy facilitates a quick and easy sales conversion by storing shopper’s billing and shipping information. TapBuy technology can be integrated into retailer’s mobile apps, which then allows shoppers to make purchases from a series of supported apps and merchants with just a few taps.
Mobile commerce conversions are often prevented due to the inconvenience for shoppers to input all of their information. Typing out usernames, passwords, billing and skipping addresses and credit card information on small mobile devices is meticulous and time consuming. This is a major factor in poor m-commerce conversion rates in comparison to desktop ecommerce. In trials TapBuy’s quick-checkout technology has increased sales conversions for retailers up to 15 times. Conversion rates are increased due to the convenient platform TapBuy provides. Shoppers only have to enter their personal information one time and it is then saved by TapBuy. Once information is stored, mobile shoppers can checkout from any TapBuy-enabled app/merchant by typing their PIN.
TapBuy is a great tool to ensure mobile commerce thrives in 2012. M-commerce is swiftly gaining popularity, which is seen by the 516% increase in global mobile payments this Black Friday in comparison to Black Friday 2010. In addition, more shoppers than ever are browsing ecommerce solutions on mobile devices.
TapBuy also works behind the scenes to group consumers’ items in order to save shipping costs. This technology also helps consumer’s save money by tracking coupon codes and automatically adding them to customer orders.
TheFind Mobile, a shopping aggregator application based in San Francisco, is thus far the first customer to integrate TapBuy technology into their checkout process. TheFind is a popular in-store shopping app for smartphones that features bar code scanning and text search with online and local price comparison creating a helpful shopping companion. TheFind’s integration of TapBuy technology ensures customers will enjoy a secure and simple checkout process.
Ramneek Bhasin, VP & GM Mobile at TheFind, commented on the company’s use of TapBuy technology:
“The primary point of friction in mobile commerce is that entering a credit card number and shipping information onto a tiny screen is very cumbersome. By integrating TapBuy, we remove this point of friction for merchants, and are able to bring new deal discovery elements into our app.”
Currently, TheFind application is available on both iPhone and Android platforms.
December 1, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
The successes of both Black Friday and Cyber Monday are encouraging signs for the ecommerce industry. Merchants worked hard this season to draw shoppers to their online stores and get them to fill their shopping carts. Record numbers of consumers flocked to retailers online storefronts to make purchases making it apparent that consumer confidence in online spending is at an all time high.
Although 2011 greeted merchants with many opportunities in the thriving ecommerce sphere, 2012 is sure to bring them unmatched success. The new technology and tools available in the marketplace in 2011 have helped retailers greatly increase sales and will only become further refined and useful in 2012. With the amount of competition in the ecommerce industry, 2011 brought innovation and diversity among retailers. 2012 will see retailers build upon new revenue streams and refine last year’s innovations.
To ensure success in the upcoming year, merchants should pay close attention to the 6 ecommerce trends for 2012 outlined below.
6 Emerging Ecommerce Trends For 2011
We recently spoke with co-founder and CTO of Baynote, Dr. Scott Brave, regarding the importance of leveraging new forms of personalization on ecommerce solutions. Personalization is moving away from the old-school idea of simply creating personalized greetings on a web page into complex personalization that is behaviorally infused. Brave suggests for success in 2012, retailers will need to focus their personalization efforts on shoppers “real time interest and intent.” We are moving beyond the days of reaching consumers through demographic and other types of segmentation. Retailers must now be in touch with what consumers are thinking and feeling at the specific moment they are shopping. According to Brave, retailers can gain access to this information by collecting consumers behavioral signals. Behavior signals include where shoppers are engaging, where they are spending their time online, what words and phrases they use to find products on search engines, etc. Old methods of personalization do not gather any information on consumer interest and intent and therefore will not efficiently leverage the benefits of personalization as we will see it in 2012.
Online and Offline Integration
Online and offline integration is also a developing trend that will only become more vital to retailer success in 2012. This integration is taking on a completely new meaning than it had in 2011. Throughout the past year, integrating on and offline shopping simply meant offering features such as in-store pick of products purchased online. However, the type of integration ecommerce solutions will see trending in 2012 is bringing the offline shopping experience to the online marketplace. This can take the form of social shopping, extra personalization, one click checkout and more. Websites like sneakpeeq have engaged in this trend by creating online social shopping experiences that match the offline experience. Additionally, PayPal opened a pop-up store in New York City to show users how they plan to integrate on and offline shopping in the new year.
Whether retailers are prepared for it, or not, shoppers are already integrating these two spheres in their own way. Consumers rely on their smartphones almost immediately upon entering brick-and-mortar stores in order to look up online reviews and price comparisons. Retailers should use this integration to their advantage by designing physical storefronts to accommodate interface with ecommerce solutions through consumers use and reliance on smartphones.
Continuing on from online and offline integration, retailers in 2012 must have a handle on their mobile commerce solutions. Consumers are embracing mobile commerce more than ever and mobile is now strategically important for all retailers. PayPal reported a 516% increase in global mobile payments this Black Friday compared to Black Friday 2010. Furthermore, there was a reported 371% increase in the amount of consumers shopping on mobile devices this Black Friday from the same day in 2010. In addition, mobile commerce solutions could see a shift from apps to m-sites in 2012. It may be time for merchants to ditch apps in favor of m-sites as shoppers are increasing looking to m-sites due to their immediacy.
Marketplace Optimization is a fairly new term coined by Zoovy but has potential to be a big ecommerce trend in 2012. It is an important tool for merchants who depend on business gained through their storefronts on marketplaces like Amazon or eBay. On these marketplaces, merchants aim to be the highest ranked seller when it comes down to consumers deciding on purchases. Competition on marketplaces is stiff and sellers need ways to separate themselves from others who offer identical products. Marketplace optimization is the idea is that merchants can increase their ranking and position on marketplaces, thus close more sales when a competitive price isn’t enough. Zoovy has developed specific techniques to help merchants achieve marketplace optimization and improve performance and plans to announce these techniques in January 2012.
Facebook commerce thus far has been a lot about experimentation for retailers, but with growing success in the area it is important for retailers to add a sales channel to their social strategy in 2012. Although f-commerce has mostly been in the testing stage, F-commerce will prove to extremely valuable for retailers, especially with the growing amount of users who “liked” and shared products in their news feeds in 2011.
Social shopping through Facebook is also gaining popularity with platforms like Shopcade and sneakpeeq, both of which attempt to recreate the offline shopping experience using an online platform (ahem, online and offline integration). Facebook commerce is beneficial for both these sites due to the amount of likes and shares products receive from shoppers using these apps. Although Facebook has been slower starting in the ecommerce scene than originally expected, consumers are beginning to feel more comfortable making purchases through social media outlets, making F-commerce a trend that will only gain momentum in 2012.
As we’ve seen with Shazam’s new technology, Shazam for TV, the ability to purchase products seen on television or other kinds of video media is gaining momentum. Currently, Shazam for TV has partnered with television shows in order to allow audiences to access products from their mobile devices while watching certain television programs. In 2012, video commerce will continue to be further developed in the ecommerce sphere as follows: Suppose you are on a brand’s online store and there is a video of someone in a particular outfit, you might click on her skirt and move it into your cart. This video commerce is different than what it looked like 2011, as consumers will not only see automated products videos. The video commerce trend of 2012 is moving beyond automated product videos and becoming an interactive process where shoppers can access products they see on TV at the same moment they are watching it. Ecommerce solutions who can leverage this technology will put themselves ahead of the pack in 2012.
There are several trends that were considered for this list such as group buying, private sales sites and push shopping. Push shopping and private sales sites are definitely still relevant, but are not new or emerging trends for 2012. As far as group buying, it’s hard to say if it will continue to be a relevant trend considering the ups and downs Groupon has experienced on the road to their IPO. Although Groupon and competitor Living Social met some success this past weekend on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s difficult to be certain whether they will continue to thrive in 2012.
Opportunities and methods for connecting with customers and making sales are constantly evolving. As merchants prepare for the new year, they should consider trying out a couple of these emerging trends. With the increasing amount of consumers turning to online storefronts to make purchase, there will inevitably be more new trends that pop up in upcoming months.
November 10, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Mobile discovery company Shazam announced Tuesday (11/8) that USA Network’s hit show Covert Affairs will now feature Shazam for TV. Covert Affairs joins several other “Shazamable” shows, which means it will include call-outs during the show for viewers to use the Shazam app to tag music in the show and gain access to special photos and video. This feature will be available beginning with the second season of the popular TV-drama. Shazam for TV is an innovative app that allows users to interact with TV shows and access exclusive content using their mobile devices.
When a user tags the episode, they will be taken to a unique Shazam mobile commerce store powered by Delivery Agent. Delivery Agent manages all commerce for NBC Universal and dozens of other entertainment corporations as well.
Viewers will also be able to use Shazam for TV to download wallpaper on their phone, share content on social media websites, “like” the Covert Affairs Facebook page, in addition to purchasing show merchandise.
One of the most unique features of this application is that users will be able to access and purchase fashion brands seen on the show. For example, if a Shazam user is watching Covert Affairs and they notice the main character is wearing an article of clothing that they want to purchase, they can simply tag the episode on Shazam and choose the option to “Shop Covert Affairs”. Users will then be able to purchase the fashion brands seen in the show directly from the mobile commerce store. As a new feature to the Shazam app, all merchandise will be available to purchase through a single-button buying process.
The Shazam mobile application is accessible using any compatible mobile device and can be found at iTunes App Store, Android Market, BlackBerry App World, Verizon VCast app store, the Ovi Store by Nokia, AT&T’s AppCenter, Windows Phone Marketplace, and GetJar.
Vice President of Digital for USA Network, Jesse Redniss had this to say about incorporating Shazam for TV into Covert Affairs:
“Adding this new feature to our hit show enables fans to immerse themselves in the content and engage with the program, giving them access to exclusive clips, images and fun information such as in depth looks at the international locations where we film and the actors who play their favorite characters.”
Shazam originated as a mobile music recognition application and in June of this year raised $32 billion in funding for its expansion into TV. Shazam’s services are used by 150 million people across 200 countries. Along with the expansion of Shazam for TV the company also recently enabled all users to enjoy unlimited tagging at no extra cost.
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