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Attention all small firms - the future of ecommerce is mobile

March 31, 2014 by Guest Blogger

Attention all small firms - the future of ecommerce is mobile/Payments over Internet and mobile devices{{}}Last December, the first Small Business Saturday event was held in the UK. The campaign was designed to encourage shoppers to head to British high streets and family-run businesses and to show support by purchasing goods locally.

Small Business Saturday was a great success but there are many more opportunities for small businesses to reach and engage with new and loyal customers using mobile commerce.

The growth of mobile commerce

Online retailing grew by 16% during 2013, according to the IMRG-Capgemini eRetail Sales Index for December. The index noted that this success has mainly been driven by the growing influence of mobile in retail in 2013, with sales via mobile devices increasing 138% from 2012.

Furthermore, a recent survey by Latitude found that more than 75% of shoppers are interested in having digital content, including product recommendations, demo videos and virtual “try on” simulations delivered to their mobile phones while shopping.

Mobile offers

Small businesses can use mobile couponing and offers to bring customer in-store. In fact, the same survey found that 60% of UK smartphone owners are spurred to shop or to make a purchase at least once a week because they’ve received a mobile alert, an email, notification or text message, from a brand or retailer. So the interest and appetite is clear.

The role of mobile in helping small businesses should not be underestimated. Mobile devices have created a huge opportunity for small businesses to engage with their customers through relevant offers, loyalty schemes, store events/updates and ease of payment in-store and online.

More and more small businesses are starting to use loyalty and couponing redemption schemes to attract and retain customers and there is a real opportunity for them to learn more about who their customers are, what their preferences are and eventually what will encourage them to visit the store, all through the use of mobile.

Introducing NFC tags

Furthermore, small businesses can use Near Field Communications (NFC) to help them in day-to-day scenarios. For instance, a small business could use NFC tags to grant employees access to buildings just by tapping their phone on the tag. This also enables small business owners to restrict access to high-value stock rooms and back offices to certain individuals. NFC tags are readily available on Amazon.com and are a good way for small businesses to experiment with mobile technology.

Pierre Combelles is mobile commerce business lead at the GSMA.

Why it's time to get your business online

March 17, 2014 by Guest Blogger

Why it's time to get your business online/3D highway sign next exit to your website{{}}It’s nothing new and it’s not a revelation, so why are so many smaller organisations still shying away from doing business online?

A good website only has positive effects on your customers and your business. But if you’re still not convinced your business needs to get online, here are a few good reasons to change your mind.

Everyone can see you

Let’s start strong with some facts and figures:

  • 87% of the UK population are now online;
  • Approximately 80% of consumers research brands before purchasing;
  • The average desktop or laptop user spends four hours every day online.

Without a good website, you could be missing out on thousands or even millions of new customers. The first step in the buying process for many potential customers is to look you up online. Your website is your online shop and your customers are waiting to walk in.

Open all hours

Your online business is open 24/7. So there’s another advantage to a quality online presence; you’ll be attracting customers, creating buzz, providing information and making money ... literally as you sleep. Selling your products and your brand has never been so flexible, as customers can choose where and when they want to buy.

Getting to know you

Picture the scenario a “few” years back. Mr Smith walks into his favourite local store, the owner knows Mr Smith very well, knows what he usually buys, what he does for a living and what he thinks of the shop overall. Things haven’t actually changed that much.

With some basic online tricks and tools you can also get to know your customers very well indeed. Through your website and social media pages you can get feedback, find out what people usually buy from you, how they use your website and what they think of your business.

All this helps you tailor your online shop window, improve your services and gain and retain customers.

So what are you waiting for?

There are loads more reasons to set up a website. And the best thing? It’s easy to do and it’s not expensive. Use simple web design software and you’ll find out just how easy it is to create a professional website without any training or experience.

Quite simply, a decent website will help improve your business, give your customers greater access to your products, services and location, while helping you build a stronger base, where you can attract more customers every day.

Dale Cook is the technical product manager at Serif.

What makes people buy? Understanding the psychology of the online shopping process

February 17, 2014 by Guest Blogger

Helping shoppers go from browsing to buying is the name of the game in ecommerce. But it’s not as easy as it looks. Did you know?

  • 57% of shoppers abandon a site if they have to wait more than three seconds for something to load. 
  • 85% of shoppers read online reviews before using local businesses.
  • 41% abandon an online shopping cart because of hidden charges.

 Find out more on this excellent infographic courtesy of Vouchercloud

 

Consumer Psychology and the E-Commerce Checkout - An infographic by the team at vouchercloud

How to improve the online shopping experience for your customers

February 13, 2014 by Guest Blogger

How to improve the online shopping experience for your customers/Add to cart button on a keyboard{{}}Thanks to the internet, businesses can find themselves competing against competitors all over the world. As a result of globalisation, customers are getting bombarded every day with brand messages. Even when you have an excellent service or product, simply getting people's attention and having your company stand out is a challenge.

Changing patterns of behaviour

What’s more, people are busier than ever. Customers today know they have alternatives and won't hesitate to turn to them if you don't meet their expectations. All customers have to do if they're not happy is click away from your site, do a quick search for what they need, and then you're out of the picture. With more people shopping online, improving your customers' experience with your website is essential to maintaining a solid client base and getting referrals.

Keeping customers satisfied online

There are many ways to keep your customers satisfied online, depending on your operational constraints and needs. You could try the following options:-

Improve the online shopping experience

Customers want to be able to see what they've picked out from your site, not only to make sure they have everything they need or want, but also because they need to see what everything is going to cost them. Make it easier for your customers to see what they've selected, what each item costs, what the total expense will be and how much you're adding in taxes and/or shipping.

Flag up offers and benefits

Discounts need to be clear, too. They help customers feel like they're getting a good deal. Mention promotions and offers one last time, such as a reduced rate for spending more than a certain amount. This way, customers get a second chance and won't feel cheated if they find out about them after buying. In general, keep the shopping cart near the top of your page, because people tend not to scroll down far. It should be easy to spot and identify.

Track customer behavior

Customer service software, such as CRM applications, allow you to determine things like how long it has been since a customer visited your site or what they bought. This enables you to suggest other items or services, send reminders or even automate sales. Your customers often get a streamlined experience and at the same time, they feel as though you're treating them as an individual.

Follow up regularly

If you don't follow up with clients, they can get the impression that you are lukewarm about them — and that’s when competitors can easily attract their attention. Email is a decent way to follow up, but more and more companies are also using text. Remember, your customers don't just want confirmation of their purchases. They want to be involved, and they need a helping hand once in a while.

Ask for feedback and touch base just to see if their needs have changed. Offer more information, support or access, and send reminders about events, maintenance or other options. As Forbes suggests, testimonials and customer reviews work well because they build trust and inspire customers to take action.

Jack Bishop is an eCommerce guru, writing for Shopify customer service software solutions. He has a passion for helping small businesses run well with modern technology.

 

Are you driving the right sort of traffic to your website?

November 12, 2013 by Chloë Thomas

Are you driving the right sort of traffic to your website?/cars in a traffic jam{{}}If you want a successful ecommerce website, then there is a formula you must apply. It is:

Traffic x AOV (average order value) x conversion rate = sales

Traffic is the most powerful of the three items before the equals sign because the traffic influences both the AOV and the conversion rate. However, simply driving a lot of traffic will never be enough.

You also need to be driving the right kind of traffic. Here’s how:

1. Understand the traffic mix that’s hitting your website and how it is performing. Almost always this will show that one traffic source is performing particularly badly — so that’s the one you need to deal with.

2. When analysing your traffic, you need to consider what sort of marketing activity drove that traffic to your website in the first place. There are nine key marketing methods in ecommerce: content, email, social media, brand awareness, offline marketing, search, Pay Per Click (PPC), remarketing and partnerships.

These methods are either free or paid-for and what they achieve is either brand building or conversion driving.

3. Think about each of your marketing activities and consider how they should be performing:

  • If it’s brand building activity, then you want a low bounce rate, but you shouldn’t be too worried about the conversion rate;
  • If it’s conversion driving, then you care about the conversion rate and the AOV;
  • With paid-for traffic, you want to have a low bounce rate (a high bounce rate shows your marketing is badly targeted), and enough engagement (be it page-views or conversions) to make it worthwhile;
  • It’s less important to have the stats on free traffic but if you’re putting in a lot of work to get it then analyse it just as you would be paid-for traffic.

When you start looking at your marketing this way, you’ll quickly find some activity you really want to stop, some you want to do more of and some you need to test.

4. Once you have your existing traffic sources optimised, you will be ready to start looking for more traffic.

An ecommerce business can’t afford to rely on one traffic source — you never know when it’s going to dry up or change, or when the Return on Investment (ROI) is going to deteriorate too much for it to be useful. As a minimum you should be using four at any one time and test others.

Recent changes to Google Adwords means “simple” PPC has become a labyrinth of different testing opportunities which, when combined together in the right way, could bring you some very cost effective traffic.

Looking at and reviewing the performance of your traffic, and making sure you’re using the right marketing methods, and enough marketing methods really is essential for your success.

Chloë Thomas is author of eCommerce MasterPlan and owns and runs indiumonline, an online marketing agency.

A seasonal reminder - why it's not too soon to plan your ecommerce Christmas

September 19, 2013 by Chloë Thomas

A seasonal reminder - why it's not too soon to plan your ecommerce Christmas/calendar displaying christmas{{}}It may seem a long way away, but if you run an ecommerce business then you should already be planning your marketing campaigns for a really successful Christmas season.

Planning for Christmas has the advantage of a defined end date — you should know the last date you can take orders and still get them delivered. So that’s the first thing you need to work out — when is your last order date for Christmas?

Once you’ve got your end date, you can start planning in the relevant promotions and create a plan.

Plan your stories

The strongest marketing plans are those that are built on strong stories. Stories are the subjects and themes that hold together a set of activities over a number of weeks and across your marketing channels.

What should your stories for Christmas be? And just saying “Christmas” for three months is copping out. Here’s some ideas get you started: 

  • Last order dates
  • Stock up on stocking fillers
  • Christmas cards
  • Last minute gifts
  • Personalised gifts (usually with an earlier last order date)
  • Order early discount weekend

None of those is particularly creative, but building on your brand and events around Christmas can give you some great stories. From 1st October to Christmas Day you should aim to have four to six different stories.

Schedule your story-telling

Once you’ve got your stories, pencil them into your calendar. Next, start filling in the big marketing activities. The big ones are those that get seen by lots of people; your emails, what’s on the homepage, social media competitions, blogs, videos and other content.

While you’re working out the content of these emails and blogs, you’ll probably find you want to jig around some of the stories because you’ve got more ideas under some than others — that’s fine, that’s why we’re planning all this now, so you have time to make those changes.

Mini-marketing

The next part is to fill in the mini-marketing activity, those areas that don’t require a whole blog post or a whole email to be created but which are no less essential to a successful season. These include: remarketing, pay per click advertising and social media posts. You need to note when key changes need to be made, such as when ad text needs to be rewritten and the important things you should be tweeting about.

If you get your Christmas marketing plan together now, it’s going to make your season both more successful and easier to manage. But, don’t forget a good marketing plan is flexible — so monitor the results and if you need to change it, change it.

Chloe Thomas is an eCommerce expert and the author of eCommerce Masterplan.

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