By Lanette Willis
May 6, 2013
Have your online business within reach at all times with a mobile dash board app!
It’s become standard these days for eCommerce platforms to have some kind of dashboard feature. So standard in fact, that it’s easy to assume every dashboard is basically the same, and to overlook the true power and convenience that can be offered by this tool. Not all eCommerce solution dashboards out there are the same. With the right mix of data, a great dashboard should offer you an unparalleled ability to keep an eye on your store’s performance, alert you to trends, identify opportunities for growth, uncover and resolve breaks in your sales funnel, and give you peace of mind – all in an instant.
A dashboard must deliver important statistics quickly and easily. This is not necessarily for heavy reporting, but rather the place for information at a glance. Thus, one critical component is the ability see data instantly when you open the dashboard. You shouldn’t need to click anything, and the data should just be in front of you.
Easy to read graphs are also key. They say a picture speaks a thousand words, and your dashboard also needs to do this! Bar charts, line graphs, and pie charts allow you to see and process the essence of the data in seconds.
Having the ability to see performance over time (month, week, day, etc.) allows for comparison & trending, and should definitely be included. How were your sales last month, versus this month? Are sales increasing steadily across the last 3 months? A dashboard should be able to show you this.
A great dashboard offers the user the ability to change time frame of graphics (year, month, day, etc.). For example, typically you may be interested in seeing your sales data across the last 2 months, but if you’re running a promotion, you might be more interested in studying a day or week’s data to track the success of your promotion.
Sales data and visitor data should be offered in the dashboard, and both should be visible across an adjustable time period. Knowing that you’ve made $x for the year allows you to tell if you’re on target. How is your traffic? Usually, traffic is tied to sales. If you just released a promotion, you should see the spike in visitors, letting you know that your promotion is working. Likewise, if you don’t see this spike, it could alert you to a problem along the line. If you were only tracking sales, and not visitors, you might think there was some other on-site conversion problem.
We’ve already discussed the importance of the dashboard information to be presented quickly and clearly. It’s all about instant information. The ability to have palm-of-your-hand mobile access to your dashboard takes it to a new level.
If you’re in the interested in previewing a topnotch eCommerce dashboard, you may want to check-out, Nexternal, one of ZippyCart’s top reviewed eCommerce solution. This shopping cart software has just released a Dashboard Plus for iPhone and iPad users, so you don’t even need to boot up a computer to check in on your online business. Grab your iPhone, click a button, and there are all your stats, and peace of mind. Dashboard Plus is available for free in Apple’s App Store and can be downloaded here.
Guest author Lanette Willis is a Senior Account Manager at Nexternal. Before joining Nexternal she spent nearly a decade working in market research and professional services marketing, before running her own successful eCommerce apparel business. Lanette is passionate about both marketing and eCommerce.
By Francesca Velazquez
January 28, 2013
Since Apple unveiled the iPad in April 2010, dozens of others, from Samsung to Barnes & Noble, have jumped on the tablet bandwagon. Today, tablets can do virtually everything a desktop computer can do, including shopping. It’s no wonder that retailers have started adapting their marketing strategies to appeal to tablet shoppers.
Tablet ownership has doubled between pre-Christmas 2011 and today (you can probably guess what the big Christmas item was last year). The United States now has 55 million tablet users – that’s close to a fifth of the population, including those too old and too young to use them. That number is projected to grow even more on December 25, 2012.
Business owners have taken note of the tablet trend. Fortunately, the very nature of tablet devices lends itself to impulse buying. Many tablets, like Amazon‘s Kindle Fire and many others, contain permanent links to online music stores, book stores and application stores on their desktop, and purchases can be made with a tap of the screen. Indeed, 80% of purchases from mobile devices in 2011 came from tablet users while 20% came from smartphone users (those numbers were reversed in 2010). Indeed, tablet use is growing at ten times the rate of smart phone use. According to retailers, tablet users also spend more when they shop.
Of course, most people who can afford tablets are solidly middle class, so one could argue that tablets may not be selling more products – people who can afford tablets simply spend more money. Nonetheless, retailers are now specifically catering to the mobile market. Many retailers now have versions of their webpages specifically for mobile use. Mobile websites often have fewer features in favor of faster load times and a cleaner interface, and they are optimized for tablet features like tap-zooming.
So who is the average tablet user? Research shows that it’s the 18-34 male demographic that the majority of video game studios cater to. This seems like an obvious target audience, but just as game consoles have gained wider appeal as they have added more features, the same is likely to be true for tablets; tablets specially designed for kids are already topping many children’s Christmas list this year.
infographic provided by Miva Merchant E-Commerce Software
Guest author Francesca Velazquez is a web enthusiast and e-commerce reporter for the blogosphere. She has been developing websites and digital marketing campaigns for local small businesses since 2009. Her favorite internet trend is the development of web apps as tools and gadgets for end users.
By the ZippyCart eCom Team
January 9, 2013
The social media landscape has changed quite a lot over the last one year. While there are many start-ups that have yet to embrace social media, you should gear up, anticipate current trends and include social media into your overall marketing plan as soon as possible. To develop a powerful social strategy, however, you’ll also need to abide by some essential guidelines and best practices.
Given below are thirteen tips that start-ups should use to get the most out of their social media marketing efforts in 2013.
#1. Go Beyond Facebook and Twitter
Most of the startups think that social media is all about Facebook and Twitter, which is not true at all. Though these two online platforms have proven to be big players in the social media arena, they are not all that is needed. As a smart start-up, you should also devote time to other potential social platforms like YouTube, Google+, Linkedin, Pinterest etc. At the same time, you shouldn’t hesitate to experiment with a new platform as it emerges on the social media scene.
#2. Invest in a Blog
While talking about owned media, starting a self-hosted business blog is the best that you can do. If you are really serious about giving your competitors a hard time in 2013 and beyond, you should have a blog up and running before late. It’s also advisable to hire an experienced blog or content writer so that your blog stays fresh, relevant and keeps visitors coming. Blogs are an easy addition to any eCommerce site and if you’re in eCom sales and own an online store, your eCommerce solution should be providing one for you.
#3. Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly
Mobile is today’s buzzword. The number of mobile device users continues to swell with each passing day. If your site is not accessible via mobile devices appropriately, you are in serious trouble. Take action right away. Again, look to your eCommerce solution (aka Shopping Cart Software) as they should be making your transition into mobile an easy one.
#4. Know Your Customers
Understanding the needs of your customers is always at the core of a social marketing strategy. If you want to achieve success with your social media marketing efforts, you must know what an ideal customer for your business looks like. Who is included in your target audience? Focus is important for successful marketing.
#5. Continue to Educate Yourself
Knowledge is the ultimate power. In order to create original and unique content, you need to keep yourself abreast of all the latest changes and developments in a niche you cater to. Devote adequate time reading blogs, books and magazines so that you are always ahead of others. Go ahead… subscribe to our RSS feed. ;-)
#6. Define Your Goals
Before you get started with social media marketing, make sure you know what your business goals are. It’s only when you clearly know your goals that you can efficiently track your progress.
#7. Improve Your Email Marketing
Don’t get surprised. As we enter into 2013, we have an urgent need to integrate social, content and email. Provided you integrate them appropriately, you can gain a huge edge over your competition as far as social media marketing is concerned.
#8. Create Quality Products
No matter how much effort you put into marketing, you won’t be able to make an impact if your product doesn’t have quality. Whether you are offering a product or a service, you should make sure it does an excellent job of solving the day-to-day problems of your target audience.
There’s so much that you can learn only if you listen to your customers.
#10. Skip Blatant Promotion
You’ll need to skip promotional speak immediately, if you want to achieve success with social media marketing in 2013. By doing blatant promotion, you’ll lose the trust of your customers even before you build it.
#11. Use Pictures
While creating social media content, you should focus on using pictures or images more and more. Creating engagement among the audience becomes easier with original, top quality images. Use them to your benefits.
#12. Connect with Influencers
First of all, locate the major influencers in an industry you cater to. Then find good ways to reach out to them and connect. Building relationships with industry experts and top professionals can bring you so many benefits.
#13. Memorize All of the Above.
Do you want to share an opinion? Feel free to comment below!
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 Delly
June 14, 2012
If you own a business with a web presence, you are probably looking for ways attract new customers and make the purchasing process easy for repeat buyers. In years past, eCommerce was easy. There was less web competition, so a company could create a simple web page or storefront and buyers would naturally navigate there. Today, however, nearly every business has a web presence, so you must work a lot harder to reach those customers.
One of the easiest way to promote your web presence in today’s market is to link the shopping cart on your main web page with a mobile website and a FaceBook page. More people than ever obtain information and make purchases through mobile devices so utilizing social networks gives you a stronger connection with your customers. These simple steps will help you stay ahead of the competition when it comes to staying connected.
A mobile website is a must in today’s competitive marketplace. According to Internet Retailer magazine, over 111 million smart phone users browse the web regularly on their phones. While many normal web pages will display on mobile devices, they do not always load properly. Additionally, the shopping cart software that works on your traditional eCommerce site may fail when a customer attempts to order from a mobile device. To combat these problems, create a separate mobile site and choose a shopping cart solution that works with your traditional web page. Then, place a simple link to the mobile site on your main page, and customers that surf to the normal site can easily access the correct version.
A FaceBook presence is more than just a benefit, its nearly a requirement to remain competitive today. There are over 800 million active users of FaceBook and a huge percentage of these users spend an hour or more on the site each day. You can create a simple FaceBook page with no knowledge of HTML. Using that page, you will be able to communicate with your “fans” through posts and comments. FaceBook makes it easy to reach a targeted audience of customers that want to hear your message. Using a qualified eCommerce program allows you to sell to customers on this growing platform. You can easily share specials or provide links to your main ecommerce page through your FaceBook profile.
If you would like more information about which eCommerce solutions provide the technology required to get your storefront on FaceBook and in a mobile application, please check ZippyCart’s Top Ten Comparison Charts.
May 5th, 2012
By Susan D
Other than being the newest online buzz, what is social gifting?
Social Gifting is an interesting new marketing idea that can be used in 2 ways. It can help a group of friends to get together and give a large gift card for a someone’s upcoming celebration (instead of everyone buying individual gifts) or, it can help an individual shopper find free gift cards to spend on themselves. This process involves a few hot items: mobile commerce, social networking, a gift buyer’s love of gift cards and everyone’s love of free money! Now… what does a small business owner do with this new marketing tactic? Everything may point to hot current trend but, is it a good marketing method for your online store? Some experts think it’s the best new marketing tool while others throw words of caution.
How It Works
Social gifting is a simple concept which uses the same idea that my friends and I have been using for years. (Man, another grand idea we didn’t think to monetize!) It basically organizes for friends who want to throw money into a collection pot so they can purchase a ‘big’ gift for an upcoming birthday / wedding / celebration. The best part is that it social gifting makes giving a gift easy because you can do it through your smartphone’s mobile apps or social media. So if it’s your party, instead of receiving gifts that you don’t need or a bunch of small gift cards that sit around unused, you have one mega gift card worth big money!
The idea is so popular because many stores have started bartering free gift cards in exchange for cheap (and hopefully powerful) marketing. And of course… consumers rush at the opportunity to free gift cards.
Why does it work?
For the retailer, social gifting drives traffic to both online and brick and mortar store. Sure, they’ve given away $5, $10 or $15 dollars but really, the average consumer spends up to 6 times the amount of the gift card during their visit. The store also gets tons of advertising and a way into the exclusive FaceBook social marketing as friends group buy for friends and tell friends…
The consumer… well, most people love a gift card and a good deal. Also, social gifting makes getting a gift simple and fun. It’s a fact that Americans ask for gift cards more than any other gift so it’s a win-win situation. It has so much potential that companies like Wrapp and Dropgifts expanding to the United States to deliver their social gifting services.
The Goods: how social gifting can help your online store
- Marketing directly to consumer through social media
- Being accessible on mobile devices
- Attracting new customers… a group of them in fact!
- Bigger gift cards mean more purchases on higher priced items
- It’s easy to set-up with sites like Wrapp, Dropgifts, FriendFund or SocialGift.
The Bad: how social gifting can possibly hurt your eCommerce business
- It could be just another ill thought out marketing ploy… much like Groupon was last year.
- It takes a percentage of your profit from the free gift cards.
- It can’t promise that customers will return or spend more than the gift card amount.
- It could overwhelm your business with too many new customers at once.
The Verdict: is social gifting a marketing idea worth looking into?
Of course it is! When you sign on, just be careful and manage your finances and resources around realistic expectations.
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 15, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Belly, a Chicago-based startup formerly known as “Bellyflop,” has secured more than $1 million in funding from Lightbank. Lightbank is an investment vehicle owned by Groupon co-founders Brad Keywell and Eric Lefkofsky, that also contributed $1.5 million in seed funding to Benzinga this past May.
Belly integrates on and offline commerce by providing digital loyalty programs for small businesses that aims to replace traditional punch cards in favor of a more personalized approach. Personalization is one of the biggest trends ecommerce will see in 2012, putting Belly ahead of the crowd with the startup’s attempt at exchanging regular loyalty card programs with rewards that better fit business’ personalities connecting them to customers on a more personal level.
Belly works by installing an iPad in retailers’ stores to track customers’ visits. The system is designed for customers to use the iPad to scan a bar code on the Belly mobile app available for both iPhone and Android platforms. Customers also have the option to scan a physical loyalty card from Belly called a “Belly Card”. After scanning the bar code/card, a message will immediately pop up on the retailer’s iPad letting the customer know whether or not they have received a reward. The Belly application or physical card can be used at any business signed up with Belly.
Officially launched back in August, Belly not only replaces traditional loyalty cards, but also replaces the traditional rewards that can be earned using them. Belly offers an assortment of rewards, which are not always monetary and sometimes a little off-the-wall. A couple of the most random rewards include:
- A sandwich store will name a sandwich after their most loyal customers
- Punch the AlleyCat Comics owner in the stomach
- EGG the Gaztro Wagon truck – 60 Eggs & Egg the Truck as it Cruises By
- All you can eat at Devil Dawgs for 10 minutes in the store.
Currently, Belly has been installed at 285 businesses in the Chicago area with close to 50 new businesses being added to Belly every week. The application has accumulated over 18,000 users and 50,000 check-ins in the short period of time since its pilot launch and many merchants are seeing more check-ins from Belly users than Facebook, Foursquare and Gowalla combined.
There are several other startups in the loyalty services game with Belly including Womply, Offermatic, Swipely and Five Stars Card. Belly claims they offer services that differ from their competitors because they provide merchant training and a in-store iPad with every subscription. Larger ecommerce players like Google and PayPal also have plans to launch loyalty services.
Although Belly is only offered to Chicago businesses at this time, the startup is planning on launching nationally in upcoming months.
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 12, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Many small brick and mortar retailers around the country were less than pleased with Amazon’s promotion of their new Price Check mobile application this past weekend. On Saturday (12/10), Amazon offered customers a 5% discount up to $5 for using the new application. The application, called Price Check, enables shoppers to compare Amazon prices with product prices in physical stores. The information can be relayed through the app by scanning bar codes, photographing the product, speaking the product name or sending a text message. The promotion was eligible for up to three items, which saved some customers a total of $15.
This promotion caused a big huff among small brick and mortar retailers who felt the promotion was encouraging shoppers to come into their stores but leave without buying anything. Another aspect of Saturday’s deal that irked retailers is that Amazon isn’t required to collect state sales tax from online sales. Because of this, products are always cheaper on the ecommerce solution than at physical stores where sales tax is required.
Retailers selling music, DVD’s, electronics, sporting goods and toys were effected the most on Saturday as those were the products Amazon’s promotion focused on.
Although brick and mortar retailers see the purpose of the Price Check application as predatory towards small businesses, Amazon insists it’s purpose is to save shoppers money. Sam Hall, director of Amazon Mobile, said this about the application:
“Price transparency means that you can save money on the products you want and that’s a great thing for customers. Price Check in-store deals are another incentive to shop smart this holiday season.”
A statement on Amazon’s website stated, “By sharing prices, this helps ensure our prices remain competitive for our customers.”
On main point of contention with protesters of Amazon’s promotion was the unfair advantage Amazon has over pricing because they are not required to collect sales tax. Although the government is working on a bill that will require ecommerce solutions that sell more than $1 million a year in the United States and over $100,000 in a particular state to collect state sales tax. Currently, Amazon is not required to collect any sales tax from shoppers making their prices inherently cheaper.
Retail Industry Leaders Association’s executive vice president for public affairs, Katherine Lugar, had this to say about Amazon’s promotion:
“Retailers compete on price 365 days a year, and at no time is that competition hotter than during the make-or-break holiday shopping season.However, by continuing to evade collecting state sales taxes, Amazon’s exploitation of a pre-Internet tax loophole is resulting in a 6 to 10 percent perceived price advantage over their competitors on Main Street.”
Amazon further defended the promotion, insisting that it was meant for price comparisons in “major” retail stores.
December 6, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
mFoundry, provider of mobile banking solutions to approximately 600 banks nationwide, will be expanding its mobile commerce business to include mobile payments.
The company announced Monday that it has received $18 million in a capital funding round led by MasterCard. Intel Capital, FIS, and Motorola Mobility also contributed to the new round of funding which brings the total raised by mFoundry to $50 million. Drew Sievers, CEO and founder of mFoundry, had this to say:
“The opportunity in mobile financial services is enormous. While our existing mobile banking business is scaling rapidly, there are many other related opportunities that we believe can add significant incremental value to our company. I’m grateful to have such a deep and supportive group of strategic investors behind us.”
mFoundry currently provides mobile ecommerce solutions to banks and credit unions that allow their customers to transfer funds, pay bills, find nearby ATMs, and check account balances from their mobile devices. Additionally, the company powers Starbucks Mobile, the popular app which enables customers to manage their Starbucks card accounts using their iPhone.
The Larkspur, California-based company will use the new round of funding to support expansion of its existing mobile banking business as well as to move into the mobile payments market. mFoundry plans to add support for MasterCard’s PayPass NFC (near-field communications) payments that will allow mobile banking apps to function as digital wallets as well. Mobile banking is the fastest growing banking channel ever, taking only 6 years to hit 50 percent market penetration, compared to ATMs which took 15 years to reach 50 percent adoption. Kelly Rodriques, an independent board member of mFoundry, said the following:
“mFoundry’s pace of growth and strong industry position put the company in an ideal spot to expand their product offering. The continued support of partners like FIS and Motorola Mobility plus the addition of powerful new strategic investors like MasterCard and Intel Capital reinforces the work the company is doing. We are thrilled to work together to make mFoundry even more successful.”
The new investment and partnership with MasterCard is an opportunity for mFoundry to help banks provide their own digital wallets as an alternative to services like Google Wallet. MasterCard’s PayPass technology allows shoppers to swipe their mobile phone on PayPass terminals wherever they are available to complete transactions. Digital wallets have not been quickly adopted by consumers and retailers but with new mobile ecommerce solutions from companies like mFoundry popping up, increasing numbers of retailers will begin to accept digital wallet payments.
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.
This year’s Cyber Monday attracted record numbers of online shoppers, making it a huge success for retailers as expected.
According to IBM Benchmark, sales this year were up 33 percent from 2010. Online shoppers also spent more, the average customer order was $198.26 compared to $193.24 last year. In accordance with 2011 holiday shopping season trends, a record number of Cyber Monday shoppers made purchases from smartphones and tablets. 10.8 percent of people visited ecommerce solutions from a mobile device, more than double the amount that did so last year.
IBM’s fourth annual Cyber Monday Benchmark study has not released a figure about total spending yesterday, but all indicators point to spending reaching the predicted $1.2 million. Many holiday shoppers prefer Cyber Monday to Black Friday because they can avoid the crowds, chaos, and pepper spray that has become the day after Thanksgiving. Although many retailers still offer online deals on Black Friday, online sales were 29.3 percent higher on Monday. John Squire, chief strategy officer of IBM’s Smarter Commerce team, said the following in a statement:
“Retailers that adopted a smarter approach to commerce, one that allowed them to swiftly adjust to the shifting shopping habits of their customers, whether in-store, online or via their mobile device, were able to fully benefit from this day and the entire holiday weekend.”
Consumers filled their shopping carts with deals like a 47-inch LG TV from Wal-Mart for $320 less than the regular price, Amazons Kindle DX for $120 off, and a $200 gift certificate from LivingSocial for $100. Online shopping traffic peaked before and after work hours, it appears that getting caught shopping while at the office was a concern for many Americans.
In preparation for Cyber Monday, the feds shut down and seized the domains of 150 websites believed to be selling counterfeit products or copyrighted works. The FBI reportedly made undercover purchases of goods such as counterfeit sports jerseys, DVDs, golf clubs, footwear, and more. The Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Border Control joined the FBI in the operation to seize the 150 domains, bringing the total number of such seizures to 350 since June 2010.
The majority of seized domains were targeted for selling counterfeit clothing but ecommerce solutions selling pirated music and other copyrighted works were also included in the operation. Many of the domain names were registered in the U.S. but operated from abroad from countries like China. The operation was timed to coincide with Cyber Monday in an effort to protect holiday shoppers from getting duped into purchasing counterfeit goods thinking that they are getting a great holiday deal.
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