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 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 shopping cart platforms to have some kind of eCommerce dashboard feature. So standard in fact, that it’s easy to assume every eCommerce dashboard is basically the same, and to overlook the true power and convenience that can be offered by this tool. Not all eCommerce 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.
An eCommerce 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? An eCommerce 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 eCommerce 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 having the eCommerce dashboard information 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 Matt DeLong, CEO of CoreCommerce
Feb 25, 2013
Google prefers responsive design sites because it “crawls” the site more efficiently and helps keep the site’s information up to date.
The use of tablets or smartphones to surf online has been a driving force for a movement in web development called responsive design. Simply put, responsive design is a single web design that adapts itself to multiple screen sizes, no matter which type of device, tablet or smartphone is used. According to ComScore, the number of mobile internet users is expected to grow rapidly over the next few years, to a projected 1.9 billion in 2015. That is a lot of potential customers with a variety of devices for your website to accommodate!
Before responsive design, there were separate, multiple “mobile optimized” versions of your online store for desktop, tablet or smartphone, unlike responsive design which uses the same version of your store for all devices. Most online stores would automatically detect what kind of device you were using to access the site to tell whether to display the mobile or desktop version of an online store. Many websites are still “mobile optimized” but the movement towards responsive design is growing fast.
So why make the transition from mobile optimized stores to responsive design? The main benefit of using responsive web design is that you no longer have to manage multiple versions of your online store. With responsive web design, CSS3 media-selectors can be used to define min-width & max-width rules for handling portrait and landscape views, regardless of how your customers access your online store. Not only that but Google prefers responsive design sites because it “crawls” the site more efficiently and helps keep the site’s information up to date.
Another reason to design responsively is to allow for a site to be be easily adaptable to ever changing phone and tablet sizes now and in the future. Every time a new device is introduced, you won’t need to rethink how your store displays or how that translates on a potential customer’s tablet or smartphone, saving time and money in the long run. Ultimately, the goal of responsive design for a web based business to ensure an enjoyable experience for the customer, no matter what kind of device they’re using.
If you are developing your website, remember that it’s much easier to build a responsive site from the start versus attempting to retrofit a non-responsive or “mobile optimized” store to make it responsive. This year will be an interesting year in e-commerce, as mobile devices are slated to take over PCs as the dominant platform and online sales continue to grow. Good luck as you develop your responsive site!
Guest author Matt DeLong is the CEO and founder of SumEffect Software, Inc., the developers of e-commerce shopping cart, CoreCommerce. He has 15 years of experience with programming and software and started Sum Effect Software in 2001 when he created Digishop. When Matt isn’t working on cool new features or updates for CoreCommerce, he enjoys racing sailing boats and watching movies with his family.
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.
By Susan D
Sept 6th, 2012
QR, QR codes, quick response codes…
Observant consumers across the globe have witnessed a rush of QR codes popping up over the last year or so. Here in the SF Bay area, these 2 dimensional codes are creatively built into products ads and strategically placed around the city. When out with my friends, we often whip out our smart phones so we can scan them. The more random and unique the code is, the more curious we are to see the sale offer or information that may be hiding behind them. The Bay Area is a bit more tech trendy than most areas though so I’ve wondered if QR codes are as popular in the rest of the USA and world? When I travel outside the ‘Bubble of the Bay’, especially to smaller towns, I rarely see people taking advantage of QR codes in the same way that my SF friends do. So what does this mean?
Well, QR codes may not have gained widespread use as quickly as projected but the problems that may have been slowing the trend are easing up. With over 100 million smartphone users now in the USA alone, the market for QR scanning apps and usage has widened considerably. Also, awareness has grown and consumers are more interested in the potential behind the 2-dimensional codes.
There is still a dire need to link the eCommerce world, digital world, and the physical world and QR codes offer the perfect solution. Keep an eye on the communication potential they hold and in the next few years, you’ll undoubtedly see more of the public being educated, sold and swayed by the tiny bits of information that are hidden in the little squares.
In QR news this week alone…
- Students at Rutgers University unveiled a QR Code exhibit in effort to stay current with communication trends.
- Funeral directors in England are launching an effort to include QR codes on gravestones so that a tribute biography of the loved one is easily accessible.
- Give By Cell, a San Francisco company, is partnering with parks to help educate people on scenic views with QR codes and hopefully… generate on-the-spot donations for their conservation efforts!
Obviously, more travels are in order so I can accurately form a verdict on how the rest of the world is handling QR codes right now. I see the future of them, however, and the possibilities with QR codes are endless! I currently work with certain shopping cart solutions that offer QR codes as part of their standard package, and love how, with this and other features, they have their eye on the future of eCommerce communication trends.
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 14, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Online holiday spending, aided by mobile and tablet commerce, is expected to grow 15 percent this year.
Forrester released a report predicting that online sales during the 2011 holiday shopping season will amount to $59.5 billion, compared to $51.7 billion last year. Although consumers are more deal-conscious than ever this year, 12 percent of the 15 percent total growth is projected to come from increased spending by shoppers.
There has been a significant rise in online retail traffic this year, in large part due to consumers accessing ecommerce solutions from their smartphones and tablets. Forrester reported that 30 percent of shoppers who own a smartphone use it to research purchases monthly and 50 percent of people who own a tablet use their device to research purchases. Retailers need to take this into account this holiday season and make sure that their websites are fully ready for mobile commerce.
Some brick-and-mortar stores are even embracing tablets to aid the shopping experience. Sears is apparently beginning to provide tablets in their stores for shoppers to look up products and order items that are out-of-stock. Shoppers may not necessarily be using their smartphones and tablets to actually make purchases but they are using them more than ever to hunt for deals and compare products.
Online deals are more influential than ever this year in determining what items consumers are putting in their shopping carts. Forrester noted that 50 percent of shoppers surveyed stated that they had found the best deals online and 30 percent of those surveyed had used a daily deal site like Groupon at one point. With holiday shopping at brick-and-mortar retailers getting crazier every year on days like Black Friday, many consumers are opting to avoid the mayhem and shop from the comfort of home. Besides finding the best prices and deals, consumers indicate that the perks of online shopping also include better inventory and selection, no lines, and avoiding spending money on gas.
Cyber Monday is the biggest day of the year for online sales, last year online spending on Cyber Monday surpassed $1 billion which was a 16 percent increase from 2009. Thanksgiving day is another huge day for online spending. Online sales on Thanksgiving last year amounted to $407 million, a 28 percent increase from the previous year.
Retailers should be expecting a lot more online traffic this year and keep in mind that a significant portion of visitors will be using a smartphone or tablet browser. If merchants have been paying attention to the trends this holiday season and prepared their ecommerce solutions accordingly it could be the most profitable year ever for online sales.
November 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.
November 10, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Japanese ecommerce solution giant Rakuten will be acquiring the Canadian ereading service Kobo from majority shareholder and founder of the service Indigo.
Indigo is Canada’s largest book retailer and founded Kobo in 2009 to compete with Amazon’s and Barnes & Noble’s ereaders. The Kobo ereading platform has a catalog of more than two million ebooks, magazines, and newspapers. The company also currently has two ereaders on the market, the Kobo Touch and Kobo Vox, and Kobo apps are available for a wide variety of iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows devices.
Tokyo-based Rakuten will acquire Kobo for a total of $315 million, the ereading service will continue to operate out of its Canadian headquarters in Toronto and will retain its current management team and employees. Indigo expects to receive approximately $150 million from the sale of its stake in Kobo. The company hopes that Rakuten will provide the necessary investment boost to strengthen Kobo’s standing in the ereader market and expand its customer base. Heather Reisman, CEO of Indigo, had this to say:
“Rakuten will allow Kobo to meet the demands of competing with the very best players in the world. Notwithstanding the sale, Indigo will maintain a very strong relationship with Kobo, supporting the products and the services both in store and online and directly benefiting from the growth of the Canadian ereading market. The success of Kobo confirms that Indigo is a great brand and a strong platform on which we can continue to innovate and grow.”
Rakuten is one of the world’s leading ecommerce solution platforms with more than 10,000 employees throughout Asia, the Americas, and Western Europe. The company has made a series of acquisitions of diverse ecommerce companies over the past two years including Buy.com, the UK’s Play.com, Brazilian company Ikeda, and European PriceMinister. Michael Serbinis, CEO of Kobo, said the following about Rakuten’s acquisition of the ereading service:
“Kobo will continue its aggressive growth trajectory with Rakuten’s support. We look forward to continuing to innovate, provide the best eReading experience for customers, and expand internationally to solidify Kobo’s leadership position in the global eReading market.”
Indigo’s decision to sell its majority share in Kobo comes after they announced a loss of $40.4 million in the second quarter. Sales in Indigo stores were going down while Kobo sales were going up as more people make the transition from hardcovers and paperbacks to ebooks. Indigo still plans to support Kobo after the sale and carry Kobo devices in its stores. The sale to Rakuten is set to close in early 2012.
November 9, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
We recently got a chance to sit down with Jim Wehmann, Senior Vice President of Global Marketing for Digital River, to chat about some strategies that businesses are using to market their ecommerce solutions this holiday season.
Businesses are increasingly turning to multi-channel marketing techniques to establish and reinforce online offers. We are seeing much higher levels of coordination this holiday season across a variety of online marketing channels such as email campaigns, flash deal sites, social media, and search campaigns. Companies are using combinations of these channels to keep customers checking back for new offers.
The days of social media sites being a strictly “social” experience are over, embedded commerce is now a large part of the experience on sites like Facebook. Marketers are using these channels to engage target audiences and promote offers more than ever. The main challenge that marketers face with social media sites is how to most effectively leverage the millions of fans or users in a way that makes it a better user experience for them as well.
A real-life example of how a business might leverage Facebook users to promote an offer would be to have a “hidden” offer on the business’s Facebook page. Let’s say the offer is 50 percent off on a downloadable PC game but users can’t see the offer until they “like” the page. Once a customer has signed up for the offer they have to wait until 1000 people have also “liked” the page and signed up for the offer before the download is released. This type of promotion keeps people coming back to check on the offer and also encourages them to spread the word to their friends.
Mobile and Tablet Commerce
The rapid expansion of mobile commerce is in effect multiplying the workload that marketers have to tackle. Merchants have to reformat and adapt their ecommerce solutions to function on a variety of devices in order to provide a convenient and easy shopping experience for customers. Most aspects of a promotional strategy need to be restructured for mobile because there is not as much “real estate” on small devices. For example banner ads that would be large and prominent on a computer screen don’t fit well into a tiny mobile display.
U.S. Market vs. Global Market
When it comes to marketing ecommerce solutions globally, companies have to take into account a lot of local factors for the country or region that they are promoting in. It is important to understand what a culturally appropriate user experience looks like and how different groups of people want to browse, shop, and buy. There are some universal commonalities in how people shop online but there are also lots of differences.
In the U.S., marketing strategies tend to be more promotional and harder hitting direct marketing strategies are used frequently. Customers respond well to things like discounts and free shipping when deciding what they want in their shopping carts. Comparatively, customers in Europe tend to be less spontaneous and want to see more research about a product so marketers might be more personal and use more of a letter format to promote offers.
About Digital River, Inc.
Digital River, Inc., a leading provider of global ecommerce solutions, builds and manages online businesses for software and game publishers, consumer electronics manufacturers, distributors, online retailers and affiliates. Its multi-channel ecommerce solution, which supports both direct and indirect sales, is designed to help companies of all sizes maximize online revenues as well as reduce the costs and risks of running an ecommerce operation. The company’s comprehensive platform offers site development and hosting, order management, fraud management, export controls, tax management, physical and digital product fulfillment, multi-lingual customer service, advanced reporting and strategic marketing services. Founded in 1994, Digital River is headquartered in Minneapolis with offices across the U.S., Asia, Europe and South America. For more details about Digital River, visit the corporate website, call +1 952-253-1234, or follow the company on Twitter.
About Jim Wehmann
In addition to leading Digital River’s corporate marketing activities as the Senior Vice President of Global Marketing, Jim Wehmann manages a group of skilled direct marketing experts who impact the success of some of the biggest and most recognizable brands on the Internet. Jim’s team specializes in marketing online programs, merchandising stores and implementing proven best practices that drive website traffic, increase close rates, multiply average order values and raise overall sales for many of Digital River’s largest clients.
November 3, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
It is now officially the 2011 holiday shopping season and a number of recent studies have forecast some interesting trends that will be taking place this season.
Holiday sales in the U.S. are projected to reach $466 billion this year, a nearly three percent rise from last year. Although sales are still rising this year, it is a significantly smaller rise than last years five percent.
Shoppers will be looking to ecommerce solutions more than ever during the 2011 holiday shopping season as they hunt for deals and comparison shop. The majority of online readers surveyed by Shop.org said that they expected their sales to grow at least 15 percent through the holidays. According to NRF’s holiday survey the average person plans to do at least one third of their holiday shopping online. Shoppers will be using the Internet in greater numbers than ever for making actual purchases as well as to research and compare products and prices.
The overarching trend this season is that shoppers are looking for the most bang for their buck and any kind of deal or perk offered by retailers has major potential to influence where, when, and what consumers are putting in their shopping carts. A major factor for shoppers this season is free shipping. 92.5 percent of online retailers say that they will provide free shipping offers through the holidays and 56 percent say that they have a much higher budget for free shipping this year.
Customers are looking for the best deals on purchases, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are going to spend less. Shoppers are trying to get the most out of their money this season and will be looking for items that can be used or worn frequently rather than spending on something that will only get used once in a while. NRF’s holiday survey also found that people will be spending more on themselves this year. The average person who wants to take advantage of holiday deals will be spending about $130 on themselves compared to $112 last year.
For brick-and-mortar stores Thanksgiving weekend is the time to rack up sales and this year many retailers will be opening their doors earlier than ever. This week Macy’s, Kohl’s, and Target announced that they will be opening their doors at midnight on Thanksgiving night.
Another trend this year is an increase in the amount of shopping done via smartphones and tablets. 70 percent of people who own tablets will use their devices to make purchases through ecommerce solutions. Smartphones will also play a larger role than ever in holiday shopping this season as consumers use them to find products, read reviews, redeem coupons, or find store locations and hours.
The takeaway from all this is that during the 2011 holiday shopping season, customers will be spending more than last year but will be more choosy about what they are spending it on. They will be increasingly turning to ecommerce solutions to find the deals that they are looking for. Retailers can expect their online traffic to increase over the next two months and should make sure to offer customers things like free shipping on their shopping cart orders to increase sales.