By the ZippyCart eCom team
March 13, 2013
Though credit cards are great, they should not be your only online payment options an e-commerce store offers. According to Fred Neff (President, Internet Merchants Association), online payment options can make a huge impact on the number of your online sales. Therefore, it’s vital for e-commerce business owners to break out of the ‘traditional credit card payment’ mold and provide buyers with more options of online payment.
Customers are always looking for more when it comes to making payments… global shoppers, especially. Even today, there are many countries and situations where customers don’t feel comfortable with the use of credit cards online. South Africa is a good example of such an emerging markets. Online shoppers in this region are especially hesitant to reveal their credit card information while buying or purchasing products online. They expect to have more payment options so that they can complete their purchase.
The more payment options you offer on your e-commerce website, the more likely your customers, especially global shoppers, will be to complete the purchasing process.
Regardless of where you are in the world, you’ll find potential buyers who are reluctant to put their credit card information into just any online store. And with good reason… you cannot trust that every eMerchant has built their online store with eCommerce solutions software that provides PCI-compliance.
It’s no wonder a market of alternative payment options has emerged around the world. In the USA, PayPal, Payment by Amazon and a few other powerhouses are the standard. People from different countries, however, prefer using different options of online payment. Many countries would have their own most preferred options. Going back to the growing African market, for example, most of the online buyers prefer making their payments through their mobile devices using a service called M-Pesa. There are many different favorites around the globe, however. You’ll need to put a little research into your possible markets to make sure all your bases are covered.
The number of online buyers is continuously on the rise and experts are projecting eCommerce and mCommerce to become the new norm. By offering a wide variety of online payment options, you are actually helping customers in their buying process. If you check out, you’ll find a number of payment service providers or payment processors, which you can choose according to your website requirements. You can also hire professional services so that your chosen payment systems can be easily integrated with your shopping cart software. If you have an old website, you may need some upgrade before you are ready to embrace modern payment processing tools.
Since e-commerce has a wide presence today, you’ll always find a number of payment processors to use.
Some of the most preferred options include –
- PayPal’s Bill Me Later
- Amazon Checkout
- Google Checkout
- Secure Trading
Of course, there are many more. Depending on the technical capabilities of your shopping cart software, you can choose those tools that suit you best. In any case, you should always remember to provide your customers with several payment options so they can easily convert and complete the purchase. All you need to do is focus on providing your e-commerce website visitors (or customers) with a seamless transaction experience.
Online retail sales are projected to increase by leaps and bounds. When the customer base is ready to buy, your business should also be geared up really well towards providing payment systems that customers want to use. In doing so, you can rest assure you are doing the best to increase your online store’s sales.
Prepare for holidays by strategizing for different global customs and shoppers around the world!
By Liz Elting
October 18, 2012
With the holidays quickly approaching, online businesses are strategizing now to prepare for the influx of shoppers around the world who will flood the Internet looking for the best deals. In fact, many online retailers are putting the final touches on their site codes and will launch holiday-themed landing pages before the end of October. While most retailers understand the need for optimized, consumer-facing initiatives during the holiday season, if these initiatives are in English only, those businesses will miss a huge opportunity to increase holiday revenues and build brand loyalty with consumers who either need or prefer to shop in other languages. For example, a retail site that offers Web content and product information in Spanish but provides an English-only checkout can see as much as a 90 percent drop in conversion rates. A retailer that offers in-language content and checkout options, as well as recognition of Hispanic culture or imagery can expand its conversion rates significantly.
A global message with a localized approach
E-commerce companies are faced with the challenge of reaching a wide scope of consumers with different backgrounds, cultures, and languages. Even the word “holiday” has different connotations in different parts of the world. One message can have a different meaning for different audiences. Online shoppers have choices, and they want to be exposed to content when, where, and how they want it. This is where content localization comes into play; retailers must take into consideration the culture and atmosphere in which the message is distributed in order to drive the accuracy of the message beyond language translation. To perfect localization, marketers are partnering with language service providers to reach global audiences and present relevant messages to targeted customers in key markets. In doing so, online businesses can capitalize on brand engagement and convert shoppers to buyers.
E-commerce beyond the campaign and throughout the sales lifecycle
Content translation and localization is crucial to the effectiveness of a global, online campaign, but that is just the first step. Shoppers will visit retail sites this holiday season with the expectation that they will read messaging in their native languages from the initial browsing stage until the point of checkout and even post-sale with shipping and return instructions. In-language customer support must be available via phone, online chat and email in order to create an environment as interactive and supportive as an in-person sale. Shoppers who invest the time to seek customer support are likely serious buyers, and online businesses must meet their needs in order to guarantee sales.
To ensure accuracy and proper sentence structure, make sure your translation service has the help of professionally trained people.
Translation beyond the machine
Machine translation has been a long-standing solution for converting large amounts of content into various languages in order to reach a global consumer base, but it has flaws. To get it right, machine translation needs the help of trained people who can check for context and accuracy. Not all words and phrases mean the same thing across borders. In fact, within one language, take Spanish as an example, a word or phrase can have a different meaning to people in Mexico than it does to people in Puerto Rico. A poor translation can send a negative message about your brand, encouraging online shoppers to abandon ship and shop elsewhere. Marketers need to keep the human element in mind. What message are you trying to convey, and how are members of different cultures going to perceive it? This can be addressed in a number of ways. They can present your team with suggested alternatives that will ensure a positive message in your target market.
Your holiday shopping strategy is crucial to closing your company’s revenue for the year on a strong note. According to a recent report from eMarketer, online holiday sales are expected to account for nearly a quarter of the $224.2 billion in U.S. retail e-commerce sales forecasted for 2012. With the proper strategy, preparation, and resources, e-commerce companies can capitalize on the most prosperous time of year for online retail. With so much riding on your holiday sales, it makes sense to globalize your approach and work with a language service provider to increase your customer base.
Guest author Liz Elting co-founded TransPerfect in 1992. Today, TransPerfect is the world’s largest privately held provider of language and business services with more than $300 million in revenue. The company, which continues to be owned entirely by its co-founders, operates in 70 countries with more than 2,000 employees worldwide. Elting oversees the day-to-day operations of the company, headquartered in New York City. She has earned numerous awards for her outstanding entrepreneurship, including Working Woman’s Entrepreneurial Excellence Award for Customer Service, the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and American Express and Entrepreneur’s Woman of the Year Award.
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,
By Katherine Rivas
June 11, 2012
If you’re reading this website, it’s likely that perhaps you are in the process of starting an online business. Maybe you’ve given it some thought but you’ve haven’t jumped in just yet. If you’re currently a college student, there’s really no better time to start an online business than now. Especially if you’re strapped with loads of student debt, you never have any extra money, and you still don’t know what you’re going to do once you’ve graduated, starting something small now could lead to big returns in the future. I know, because I did it, and so did two acquaintances that I know. While my business is still a side gig, my two friends both have been able to set up a business in college that they now run full-time as adults. Here’s how you get started.
- Come up with a product or service that has a definite market.
You don’t have to come up with an earth-shattering idea to make money online. For example, one of my friends started an online snack delivery service. She set up a modest website that enabled users to order online from a set list of snacks. She allowed the option of users to both call in or text their orders. She lived in a college town, and she attended a university with very few late-night food options, so there was a huge untapped market for this sort of service. As soon as she got the word out about her service, she was getting orders left and right, especially during finals time and on weekends.
- Start with a business that has very low start-up costs.
Of course, many young entrepreneurs set their sights high and would like to begin with a big business that requires funding from private investors. If you are new to entrepreneurship, you should know that most investors only take seriously those who’ve had lots of experience building small businesses. As such, start out small. My friend who started the snack delivery service had very few start-up costs. In total, she spent about four hundred dollars of her own money in the beginning. My other friend started a tutoring service for local high school students. Since he knew how to build and promote websites already, his start-up costs were virtually zero.
- Recruit your friends to help you out.
Young people I’ve found are especially passionate about starting something with their friends. Don’t be afraid to recruit your friends for a joint venture. For example, for the snack delivery service, my friend recruited two of her friends to deliver the snacks using their cars. My tutoring service friend got a few friends to tutor subjects he was not very strong at. Realize from the beginning that you can’t do everything on your own, especially when you can draw from various sources of expertise that your friends may offer. Make it a team project!
- Initially reinvest all profits into making your business better.
If your business starts taking off immediately, you may be tempted to squander all your profits on personal enjoyment. While this is tempting, especially when you are likely a poor college student, try holding off on wasting the profits. A good entrepreneur will reinvest. Try using the profits to beef up your website or offer more services.
One thing all young entrepreneurs should know from the get-go is that almost all small business fail. Those entrepreneurs who have succeeded have likely started something and failed and started another business again. The earlier you start with building a small online business, the better. It’ll give you the experience you need to be more successful later down the road. Good luck!
Guest author Katheryn Rivas is freelance writer and blogger who dedicates her time to discovering the latest online education trends. When she’s not writing, she can be found playing softball or reading a good book. She encourages your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Matt Bramowicz
June 6, 2012
For many years, English has been the predominate language of web content. English speaking viewers made up the majority of the browsing audience, and there was never any need for businesses to extend beyond their native language clientele.
In recent years, however, online trends are shifting to a more diverse global audience. As the internet reaches more and more users overseas and technology costs continue to decline, more varied language users are not only browsing the web, but contributing to it as well.
As an e-commerce business owner, you may be asking, “What effect does this trend have on my business? Can’t I just target English language users?”
The short answer to this is no.
If your goal is to be able to maintain a sustainable and successful business, you must be able to adapt to the internet market trends. Your competitors undoubtedly will adjust their marketing to include a multilingual approach to cater to a broader audience. By doing so, they will be tapping into a significantly larger resource, allowing them to grow as a business and eclipse their competition.
With millions of options online, brand recognition goes a long way in determining which businesses succeed and which ones don’t. Search engine optimization weighs heavily on the number of visitors to a site, and by not catering to other languages, you could end up being buried in the search results while your competition flourishes near the top.
In order to at least stay on the same playing field, you should adapt a globalized, multilingual strategy. While free machine translation tools seem like the most cost-effective solution, in the long run they can hurt your business. Machine translators are inaccurate at best, and showcasing a grammatically incorrect and error-filled website to your foreign customers will only serve to give the impression that your company is unprofessional or even worse, not legitimate.
Although hiring a professional translation company to translate your website content does cost money, it is the only sure-fire way to put your best foot forward in a new market. Translation is an investment. You tend to get what you pay for in terms of quality, but in the long run, it will only serve to benefit your business.
The included info-graphic by Translation Cloud, a professional translation company shows how these emerging trends are affecting businesses on the web and the results they have on the translation community.
Guest author Matt Bramowicz grew up in New Jersey and attended Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, where he received a degree in English and minored in Fine Arts. He now works as the head of PR/Marketing and as a graphic designer for Translation Services USA, a startup translation and technology company located in New York City.
Translation Services USA has developed social networking applications
such as TranslationCloud.net and Ackuna.com.
April 30, 2012
By Matt Bramowicz
Business is not what it used to be.
While in the past it may have been acceptable practice for a small or medium-sized business to cater only to its native language market, it is no longer the case. From the onset, small businesses are already at a disadvantage. Whether the company relies on boot-strapping or bank loans to cover expenses, resources are extremely limited, and profits may not even be seen for years. Add on top of that a bad economy, an over-crowded marketplace, difficulty in finding local clients, rising interest and tax rates, etc., and it seems like there is no way a small business can succeed.
Since big businesses have seemingly unlimited funds, many of the problems affecting small businesses are not a huge concern for them. Besides the already established name recognition, they have the money to spend on advertising campaigns, enticing employment opportunities to hire the best workers, established business connections, investors, lawyers…the list can go on.
As the business-stage continues to expand globally, small and medium-sized businesses can easily be left out of the spotlight since bigger companies with an already established identity tend to have more experience dealing with foreign audiences. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Thanks to the rise of technology and ecommerce, a small business can have the ability to compete, even on the global scale, with their big business counterparts.
The first step to going global, however, is research. Due to the economic downturn, it’s important for businesses to choose which markets to cater to that will benefit them the most. All of the necessary data regarding a country’s Foreign Direct Investment, Gross Domestic Product, and Ease of Doing Business Ranking are available online from the World Bank (http://data.worldbank.org/).
Some countries are safer investments than others.
According to the latest ranking of top countries for overseas investment, China tops the list. As China continues to grow both economically and industrially, foreign investors are eagerly lining up to invest in its internal market. The United States ranks second, up one spot from last year, followed closely by India. India is widely known for its great nonfinancial, financial, and industrial service opportunities, but navigation of the business environment may be a bit tricky to those unfamiliar with their practices. Brazil, Germany, Poland, Australia, Mexico, Canada, and the United Kingdom round out the top ten, respectively.
But success isn’t guaranteed simply because a country is ranked high on the list. Before any company dives headfirst into any new foreign market, they must be certain they are familiar with the business environment. Without proper research, the attempt can be disastrous, as each market has its own share of localized intricacies that must be taken into account.
In China it is customary to be familiar with the country’s five-year plan which helps to understand the current and future business climate. In India, businesspeople do not usually offer their advice or even disagree if they are given instructions. For their input on how a task could be done more effectively, it is advisable to actively ask what their opinions or suggestions may be. In Japan, it is considered impolite to say ‘no’ outright. Refusals are either implied, avoided or someone might simply not reply at all.
Without prior knowledge to these different business practices, misunderstandings could ensue, which could lead to some very serious problems. Therefore, as an outsider it is even more important to show respect for a foreign market’s customs for the sake of both parties involved. Information on foreign business etiquette and culture can be found on the World Business Culture website: www.worldbusinessculture.com.
As the business paradigm shifts globally, smaller businesses can utilize new technological resources to help ease them into new markets.
For the majority of foreign business transactions, all documents, business cards, presentations, etc., should be translated into the foreign business associate’s native language, as well as English, even if they can speak it fluently. It is the standard custom, and failure to do so could be interpreted as disrespectful.
While foreign business etiquette rules can be researched and adopted fairly easily with the proper resources, translating necessary documents still require more outside assistance.
In the past, translating was done exclusively by professional translation agencies and freelance translators. In today’s tech-oriented business world, however, there are more options available to help small businesses conquer the language barrier.
In the past few years, significant attention and development has gone into machine translation tools in an effort to make them more accurate and grammatically correct.
As a result, two different systems have evolved:
· Rule-based systems, where rules of grammar and syntax along with individual language vocabulary are manually coded into a computer.
· Statistical machine translation (SMT), where computers analyze millions of existing translated documents from the web to learn vocabulary and look for patterns in language.
Yahoo Babelfish and Bing Translator both employ rule-based systems, which statistically perform better than the SMT system for short texts and Asian languages. However, Google Translate, which is based on the SMT system, outperforms rule-based systems for longer texts and has the ability to easily improve accuracy as more translated documents become available on the web.
As highly developed as machine translations have become since their inception, they still are not foolproof, and therefore are unreliable as a legitimate translation tool when professionalism is a necessity. In business, everything that is put out to the public or to associates reflects on the company as a whole. Grammatically incorrect or mis-translated texts give the impression that a company either does not care about its foreign business associates, or worse, is amateur and lacks the proper skill set to run a business.
Small businesses are seeking alternatives to machine translations and costly professional translators.
A few new companies have developed solutions to help small businesses receive quality translations without breaking the bank.
One method, known as post-editing or hybrid translation, combines machine translation and human translators. Once text initially passes through machine translation, a human translator or a group of translators review the translation, making any necessary changes. This process allows for a faster turn around time as well as lower costs.
Translation Cloud, www.translationcloud.net, is one example of a program that makes use of this method. Translation Cloud utilizes its database of over 10,000 translators who connect to the system via their Facebook accounts. Users of Translation Cloud receive more accurate translations at a much cheaper rate. This method of post-editing also takes advantage of crowdsourcing, another relatively new concept that is gaining popularity.
Websites such as Facebook and Twitter have both relied on crowdsourcing translation and localization of their websites in order to reach a broader foreign market. Crowdsourcing is specifically effective when those who are supplying the crowdsourced translation are familiar with the product or company.
Smartling, www.smartling.com, is an example of a company that relies solely on crowdsourcing for delivering fast and accurate website translations. Their software allows a group of translators who were invited to work on a specific project to easily visit the customer’s website and translate whatever text they wish, directly on the site.
While these programs are more effective than machine translators at supplying accurate translations, they still cost money. A relatively new website called Ackuna, www.ackuna.com, addresses that problem by providing a completely free and open community-based platform, specifically focused on sharing translations.
Those who are in need of translation services, as well as those who wish to volunteer their language aptitude, can create a free account to either post requests or translate other people’s requests. Translations are voted up or down by other users in the community, and translators who provide accurate translations receive badges as rewards. The concept is similar to Quora, www.quora.com, where users post questions or answers on any topic to other users.
As technology advances, solutions will continue to grow. Right now, Duolingo, www.duolingo.com, is working on developing a program where its users can learn a new language for free, while simultaneously helping to translate the web through the language lessons.
For small businesses on a strict budget, any of these solutions could certainly be of great value for tackling the language barrier issue.
In the end, it is up to the business owner to determine what he or she wishes to accomplish, research the methods needed to make it happen, and utilize the appropriate resources. While the business landscape has changed in recent years, as technology continues to grow, opportunities for small businesses to succeed will continue to grow as well. It is just a matter of learning to take advantage of them.
Matt Bramowicz grew up in New Jersey and attended Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, where he received a degree in English and minored in Fine Arts. He now works as the head of PR/Marketing and as a graphic designer for Translation Services USA, a startup translation and technology company located in New York City.
Translation Services USA has developed social networking applications such as Translationcloud.net and Ackuna.com.
November 18, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
We recently got in touch with Thibaud Clement to find out more about his year-long ecommerce focused tour of the world that he has dubbed the DODEQA project.
The DODEQA project is a 12 month, 12 city, 12 objective journey during which Clement will focus on gaining a deeper understanding of innovation, technologies, business models, and best practices in ecommerce around the world. He will spend roughly one month in each of the 12 cities: Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Sydney, Melbourne, San Francisco, New York City, Santiago, Buenos Aires, and Sao Paulo. The name DODEQA is inspired by the Greek Dodekathlon, the mythological 12 labors of Hercules.
As Clement was coming to the end of his MBA program in Ottawa, Canada, and getting ready to head back to his home in France, he wanted to start his own ecommerce business but felt that he needed some more inspiration before he could fully develop a great business model. That’s when he decided to start the DODEQA project in order to learn as much as possible during one year and prepare to build a strong entrepreneurship project. Clement said he hopes to develop a dynamic network by getting in touch with merchants, ecommerce solution providers, consultants, and other professionals from the ecommerce business world. He also plans to capitalize on the experience by opening an online store associated with the DODEQA project to try what he learns in a concrete way.
A main objective of the project is to blog about the experience on DODEQA.com. Clement just recently started his journey but throughout the next year he will be posting regular news and photos from his travels on the blog. He is currently living in Beijing learning about Chinese ecommerce solutions. He had the following to say about his experience so far:
“I only left two weeks ago but I already had the chance to interview 8 professionals from the ecommerce industry and I have to say it is very inspiring. In addition, living in China is a tremendous experience that fosters open-mindedness and gives me creative ideas for the future. However, I truly believe the best is still to happen, since I have 50 more weeks of adventure upcoming.”
One of the 12 objectives of the project is to learn how to program and to understand more about how websites are built which will aid Clement in developing his own ecommerce solution. To complete this objective he will develop a fully functional iPhone app that gets approved by the Apple Store by the end of the project. Another objective is to choose an entrepreneurship project in a developing country to invest in and promote until it becomes a reality, Clement then plans to visit the entrepreneur of the project to check up on how the business is doing.
You can follow the DODEQA project, see a full list of the objectives, and eventually browse the DODEQA store on the blog. ZippyCart wishes Thibaud the best in his travels and we can’t wait to see what he learns!
October 20, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Crowdpark is a Berlin-based company that creates social betting games which allow players to make bets in real time on anything going on in the world around them.
The company’s first game is called Bet Tycoon and has approximately 500,000 players on Facebook. Crowdpark uses a “dynamic betting” system so that each bet by a player influences the overall odds. This isn’t gambling though; players have to buy virtual currency to play with and they can’t cash out of the game for real money. Once a player has added a little virtual currency to their shopping cart they can begin to bet on almost anything, from sports and reality TV to politics and current events.
As players rack up virtual currency for making winning predictions about real-life events they are awarded with status and reward points. Players can also create their own bets to share with friends and compete for social betting dominance. A social betting index shows players’ overall opinions about trending topics based on collective predictions.
Crowdpark’s Bet Tycoon is currently only available on the Web but the company plans to begin releasing mobile games soon for Android and iOS. One such game, in development, is a sports betting game called Fanatical that will implement location-based betting. The mobile app will allow players to check in at any given location and begin interacting and competing with everyone else using the app at that location.
The company announced Wednesday that it has secured $6 million from European investors Target Partners and Earlybird Venture Capital. The new funding brings Crowdpark’s total funding to date up to $8 million. The funding will be used to fuel the company’s cross-platform expansion, further development of mobile ecommerce software, create new games, and hire more employees. Ingo Hinterding, Crowdpark’s co-founder and chief product officer, had the following to say about the funding:
“Crowdpark is defining an entirely new genre of social betting games based on actual events. Two of Europe’s leading VC firms – Target Partners and Earlybird – share our vision. We aim to extend our growth and build amazing games based on our dynamic betting technology, and in other hot growth categories such as casino games.”
Being based in Berlin has its advantages for a social gaming company like Crowdpark. The city is one of Europe’s most active in the gaming industry with more than 130 game developers, service providers, and publishers. Crowdpark also recently opened an office in San Francisco.
Who will be the next president of the United States? How many touchdowns will the Seahawks score this weekend? Who will get kicked off of Dancing with the Stars next week? These are just some examples of the range of topics that Crowdpark’s dynamic betting technology allows players to make social bets on. It’s all perfectly legal and just requires a shopping cart full of virtual currency.
October 13, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
L2 recently released its third annual Digital IQ Index for fashion, which ranks the digital competence of 49 prestigious fashion brands.
The index ranks the brands based on the effectiveness of their digital strategies across four categories: site, digital marketing, social media, and mobile. Brands were given digital IQ scores that fall into one of five rankings: genius, gifted, average, challenged, or feeble.
According to the index’s methodology, a brand’s website accounts for 35 percent of its overall digital IQ score. Nine sites of the 49 brands studied did not have an ecommerce solution, which significantly lowered their score. Brands that did have ecommerce-enabled websites averaged 19 percent more visits per user. The U.S. has the most brands selling online, at 79 percent, with the U.K. coming in second at 61 percent, while other European countries came in third at 41 percent.
The top two brands studied, falling into the genius ranking category, were Burberry and Kate Spade. Factors that led to Burberry’s number one spot are its high quality ecommerce-enabled site, Facebook page with more than 8.6 million fans, Twitter handle with 565,790 followers, and Instagram account with more than 86,000 followers. Kate Spade is doing some innovative things with social media and on the brand’s ecommerce solution. For example, an automatic email is sent to customers who abandon their shopping carts, offering them free shipping as an incentive to complete their order.
Social media presence, and the ability for customers to share information about fashion items via social media, are other big contributors to brands’ overall digital IQ scores. Fifty-seven percent of consumers surveyed reported that information they get through social media influences their luxury purchases. Only 57 percent of the brands studied allow users to Tweet products from their product pages, and only 53 percent allow users to share products on Facebook. According to the study, social media accounts for more than 14 percent of traffic going to a fashion brand’s website, and the majority of this traffic is from Facebook.
The mobile category was the least influential of L2’s four digital competence categories, but still accounted for 15 percent of a brand’s overall digital IQ score. Forty percent of consumers likely to buy luxury fashion products access the Internet from a smartphone daily, but only 18 percent of the brands studied provide mobile sites with ecommerce solutions. The majority of the 49 brands’ mobile sites have limited functionality, although some of the brands do offer mobile commerce apps.
Other interesting key findings from the study include that 10 of the top 15 brands are based in the U.S., compared to 6 in 2010. U.S.-based brands have the highest overall digital IQ rankings, followed closely by the U.K., Italy, and France. According to the study, a higher digital IQ translates to a higher shareholder value, so brands should take a close look at what they are doing across the four digital competence categories to see what they can improve on.
September 28, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Taobao Mall, China’s largest virtual shopping mall, has recently decided to allow 38 smaller online retailers to open stores on its website as part of a new strategy to increase scale and revenue.
The Chinese ecommerce solution provides a place for online retailers to set up a virtual storefront, the actual handling of orders is left up to the merchants. Most of Taobao Mall’s revenue comes from commissions paid by retailers who sell goods on the site. Prior to the decision to allow smaller competitors to open stores in the virtual mall, the site mainly sold goods from big brand-names such as Dell Inc, Uniqlo, and Proctor & Gamble Co. Shoppers can now expect to find a bigger variety of goods from smaller online retailers.
Taobao Mall is the business to consumer branch of a three-way split that the Taobao unit of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., China’s largest ecommerce company, underwent back in June. The other two branches are Taobao Marketplace, a consumer to consumer marketplace site, and eTao which provides shopping searches. Taobao Mall competes with 360buy.com, China’s second largest business to consumer ecommerce solution. Taobao Mall held approximately 48.5 percent of China’s online retail market share during the second quarter of 2011, significantly more than 360buy held.
Included in the list of 38 new online retailers that will be added to the site is Yihaodian, an online department store that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. owns a stake in. Also included are clothing retailer Vancl, electronics retailer Newegg, and online retailer Redbaby. Taobao Mall expects to generate 100 billion yuan ($15.7 billion) in revenue by the end of 2011 and to double that number in 2012.
Retailers wishing to sell their products on the virtual mall’s site must comply with the site’s merchant management policies that are designed to protect consumers and ensure quality customer service. Merchants must pay a security deposit that is subject to loss if the merchant is found to be selling fake products through the ecommerce solution. Retailers must also provide a seven-day-no-questions-asked return policy for customers along with official Chinese VAT receipts. There are currently more than 50,000 merchants selling their products through Taobao Mall.
Taobao Mall has no plans to take on its own inventory or become a retailer itself but will continue to encourage other business to consumer merchants to set up shop. Daniel Zhang, president of Taobao Mall, had this to say about the ecommerce solution:
“We are not weighted down by the low gross margin pressures of taking on our own inventory. Our platform business model enables us to re-invest our profits towards better customer experiences and support for merchants.”
The company is committed to bringing together retailers and customers in the online marketplace for a mutually beneficial shopping experience. Zhang added that the market is big enough for retailers to have a virtual store on the mall’s site in addition to their own websites. Taobao Mall is currently the most visited online retail site in China.
September 23, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Standard Chartered Bank Kenya has partnered with ecommerce software provider Cellulant to grow its mobile ecommerce clients.
The new mobile banking platform, called Release 3.0, will allow the bank to create applications that will allow clients to do their banking and make online bill payments or other transactions from their smartphones. Release 3.0 integrates into various core banking systems and combines ATM and Internet banking channels. The platform is versatile enough that Standard Chartered Bank will be able to custom-design products for different markets throughout Africa.
Standard Chartered Bank has been quick to jump into the mobile commerce market and has launched its own Apple app store for its clients and employees. Mobile commerce is finding a strong foothold in Africa and quickly gaining popularity. The bank has already doubled its number of mobile banking clients and won an award within its global network. Kariuki Ngari, Standard Charter Bank Kenya’s Consumer Banking Director, had this to say:
“The bank’s aim is to more than triple mobile commerce usage as an alternative delivery channel for our range of services as part of our strategic commitment to meet our discerning customers’ needs more conveniently. Cellulant has managed to meet our international demands to provide a technically superior, robust and scalable solution and we are proud to continue this journey with them.”
Cellulant is responsible for providing mobile ecommerce solutions in more than 30 mobile networks throughout Africa. It has a presence in a variety of industries including banking, utilities, insurance, retail, manufacturing, and music. Its presence also extends across twelve countries including Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, Mauritius, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, Botswana, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. Paul Ndichu, Cellulant’s Chief Business Officer, had this to say:
“We have built a mobile commerce network that is connected to different platforms across different value chains in Africa such as MNO wallets, banks, merchant bill payment gateways and content delivery channels to deliver a transformational experience on mobile.”
Cellulant is at the forefront of mobile commerce in developing countries in Africa. Ndichu also stated that the company invests 15 percent of its annual revenue towards research and development to create innovative mobile ecommerce software for its variety of markets.
The partnership between Standard Chartered Bank and Cellulant will allow clients to use ecommerce software created with the Release 3.0 platform in order to do everything from card-less withdrawals to receiving SMS alerts regarding their bank accounts. The platform utilizes encryption and monitoring features for secure online payments and transactions. Ngari stated that the bank is eager to see its clients begin using the new technology as it begins to release a variety of new services.
September 12, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
"His Master's Voice"
HMV, a British entertainment media company whose name stands for “His Master’s Voice” (more about that later) has appointed Mark Hodgkinson to head up its ecommerce solution department and marketing efforts. Late of Asda (a British supermarket chain), Hodgkinson actually served as EMI’s (Electrical & Musical Industries) president of business development and executive vice president of global marketing and digital. This combined background in digital music and global marketing makes him uniquely well-qualified to helm HMV’s ecommerce solution and help the entertainment retailer diversify their revenue sources in this ever-changing digital age.
Hodgkinson fills the space left by Steve Napleton, who previously headed up their online sales department. He left HMV for Penguin, taking his years of ecommerce knowledge with him. Hodgkinson will need to act quickly to help HMV counter their eroding sales, which have been steadily slipping in recent years. The company lost another 15% in “like for like” sales for the 18 week period ending September 3rd. Total retail sales were down almost 22%, however, this was offset somewhat by the significant uptick in sales that their new fleet of stores, called “Fast Forward.”
HMV Fast Forward stores represent a new format-change experiment for the venerable music and entertainment retailer. These stores dedicate about 25% of their floorspace to high tech gadgets like tablet computers, iPods, and smartphones. These products tend to be high-value and convert well, a lesson they can take to heart on their ecommerce solution as well. Position pieces that are likely to sell where customers can see them, collect information, and effortlessly put them in their shopping carts is a proven key to sales.
Even as HMV moves to change their stores to reflect the increased sales at these new-format stores, how Hodgkinson will increase sales on their ecommerce solution has yet to be seen. As previously mentioned – he’ll need to work fast. He doesn’t even take the job for another month, entering his new position on October fifth. He won’t have much time to get the site ready for the busiest shopping period of the entire year. The phrase “Black Friday,” isn’t just a catchy name for the Friday after Thanksgiving, it got that name because so many stores finally went from “in the red” (not making enough money) to “in the black” (clearing a profit) for the year. If HMV isn’t poised for success on Black Friday (still a big shopping day, even at home!) and Cyber Monday (the following Monday where everyone messes around on their computers shopping from work instead of, you know, working…) then HMV could find themselves ending the year in the red.
HMV is one of the oldest music retailers in the UK. The name actually stands for “His Master’s Voice,” which is a painting of a dog listening rather, with a rather quizzical expression on its face, to a gramophone, which is apparently playing a recording of his master’s voice. The familiar sound coming from a strange invention is obviously perplexing to the animal, and serves as a poignant reminder of the changes that technology brings about in the world as it marches forward continually. While humans adapt to different technology, paintings like this, showing how animals interact with that same technology, can serve as reminders of a simpler time. Unfortunately for HMV, the gramophone days are over, and now they’ll have to evolve or die in the changing brick and mortar and ecommerce solution marketplaces.
September 8, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Spanish fashion retailer Zara launched its first ecommerce solution in the United States Wednesday.
To celebrate the launch of Zara’s online shop in the U.S. the company enlisted a variety of photographers to create a collection of 50 unique photographs representing each state. The collection is called “Dear America” and features retro-looking images of classic American landscapes and scenes.
The online shop offers the same apparel for men, women, and children that is available in Zara stores, as well as free standard shipping across the U.S. Express shipping, providing delivery within 24-48 hours, will cost $9.95. Another option is for shoppers to have clothing delivered to a store of their choice where they can then pick it up. Returns and exchanges can be made at no cost up to 30 days after purchase either in stores or via FedEx.
The website has an easy to use search functionality that allows users to find items to add to their shopping carts. There is also a store search tool that allows shoppers to locate a store close to them to pick up items or make returns and exchanges. In addition to these functions, the website also features photos and lookbooks displaying the range of fashion collections available to customers from Zara.
Zara’s U.S. online shop is its first outside of Europe, where it launched ecommerce software in 16 countries last year. Total online sales for the company throughout Europe in 2010 amounted to 22.2 million euros, or $33.1 million, according to Internet Retailer. Swedish fashion retailer H&M is Zara’s top European competitor and has announced plans to launch its own online shop in the U.S. in early 2012.
Zara is part of the Inditex group that also includes the fashion concepts Pull&Bear, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Stradivarius, Oysho, Zara Home, and Uterque. The Inditex group has more than 5,150 stores in 78 countries across five continents, making it one of the world’s largest fashion retailers.
Shoppers have been filling their shopping carts at Zara stores since the first one opened in Spain in 1975. The fashion retailer is known for the speed at which its creative team puts out new clothing designs, with fresh items hitting stores every two weeks. By the end of the 1980s the company began to expand internationally, first in Portugal then elsewhere throughout Europe.
Zara opened its first store in the United States in 1989 at 750 Lexington Avenue, New York. The company currently has stores in 30 U.S. cities. In addition to New York it has flagship stores in Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago and Houston. The Chicago store is the biggest in the U.S.
August 23, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
It’s that time of year again when students of all ages are getting ready to head back to school. Of course, what goes hand in hand is the marathon season of back-to-school shopping which includes finding (and being overloaded with) brick and mortar retailers and retailers set up with ecommerce solutions offering up the ‘best’ sales and discounts on clothes, books, and technology. It’s quite the daunting task for both retailers and shoppers, however location-based mobile gaming app SCVNGR, which gives users task challenges when they check-in at a location has recently teamed up with UK-based retailer Topshop to make this season’s shopping more rewarding.
Beginning September 5, SCVNGR users checking-in within 500 meters of a Topshop location can participate in a variety of tasks designed to interact with Topshop’s back-to-school line of products. Topshop will be offering a 20% discount and a chance to win a £500 shopping spree to users who participate in the SCVNGR fashion-themed tasks like spotting out the best season trends and taking snapshots of the best “back to college” outfits, in addition to other on-location challenges that they will have to do in order to receive enough points for the rewards they want.
The SCVNGR partnership serves as a smart strategy for Topshop to test drive before the major holiday shopping season arrives. In the current retail climate, retailers are not only having to compete with their fellow brick and mortar counterparts for foot traffic but also those packing ecommerce solutions. Not to mention with the growing amount of deep discount and coupon sites to choose from, has created in some ways, a form of shopper’s attention deficit disorder; focusing the targeted consumer demographic on a specific brand has always been a challenge but proving to be even more so now than before.
Social networks, ecommerce solutions, and mobile are various channels that are bringing the “discovery shopping” experience to increase brand engagement for businesses, SCVNGR has succesfully leveraged this in the U.S. and will be making its foray into the U.K. market with the Topshop campaign. The mobile-based app has in the past teamed up with Neiman Marcus, Harvard, M.I.T. and the Smithsonian National Zoo.
SCVNGR is available for iPhone and Android devices.
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