Did you know that 83% of people are willing to wait an extra two days to receive an online order if they get free delivery?
According to a recent ComScore study, consumers are perfectly happy to forgo instant gratification if they don't have to pay for delivery charges.
That's how important free P&P is to online shoppers. But it's just one element of why free delivery is so important to consumers and why it can actually pay for itself several times over for an online retailer who offers it.
If the products you sell are available in a store, then it doesn't make sense to charge for postage. This is especially true if your product is sold in a department store where the consumer will have more choice for competitive products and you run the risk of them buying something else there.
The last thing an online retailer wants is for a shopper to abandon their shopping cart and head down to their local retailer simply to avoid delivery charges. That's a lost sale that might have been prevented.
When a shopper is making an online purchase, they are, for the most part, already committed to a brand. But they can very easily jump ship when faced with delivery charges.
According to the Wharton School of Business, over half of shopping cart abandonment is due to delivery costs. Wharton’s Professor David Bell reveals that: "A free shipping offer that saves a customer $6.99 is more appealing to many than a discount that cuts the purchase price by $10.”
Here are some of the business benefits of offering free postage:
Short-term gains. Free delivery can immediately boost online sales.
Larger orders. Free postage can lead to larger orders particularly when retailers set minimum purchase thresholds.
Long-term gains. Many online shoppers will only buy from merchants that offer free delivery, so, when it’s offered, merchants should expect to acquire new customers.
Repeat purchases. Free P&P can contribute to the lifetime value of those customers that a merchant might not otherwise have achieved had it not been for free or discounted delivery.
Staying competitive. Customers are more likely to leave a merchant and shop at a competitor site if they are offering free delivery.
Of course, offering free delivery will add to the cost of a merchant doing business. However, you don’t have to offer free P&P on every item at all the times in order to increase sales or become more competitive.
Here’s how to manage your costs:
Offer free P&P with minimum thresholds. Setting minimum order value thresholds encourages larger orders and reduces risk. It's more realistic than free delivery on everything.
Offer free delivery on certain Items. Perhaps on products with higher margins.
Offer free delivery at certain times of the year. Target peak events such as Christmas.
Offer free delivery to certain locations. Setting geographic parameters either within country or on an international basis can help control costs.
Offer free delivery on returns. No-one wants to pay to return something that doesn't fit right or, worse, arrives damaged.
Offer flat-rate postage. While not free, shoppers will immediately come to the conclusion that larger orders are more economical.
Free delivery is something consumers expect and appreciate. When a merchant does something the consumer is happy about, they are building loyalty. So free delivery should be seen as a loyalty deliverable.
In exchange, merchants could consider asking for account registration or some other option to gather more information from the consumer or require the consumer to opt into email lists.
But what it really boils down to is removing a roadblock. The easier it is for the consumer to click the "buy" button, the more likely it is that they will go through with their purchase. And isn't that what we all want?
While the key sales period for a seasonal brand might only span three months of the year, optimising your site, securing advertising and mitigating bounce rate begins long before your customers start shopping.
With the first inklings of Christmas hype only a few weeks away, it’s not too late to implement the following suggestions and increase traffic during your key sales period.
While your customers don’t want to hear about Christmas in June, advertising slots, opportunities for collaborative competitions and potential brand advocates are already primed for the festive period.
Determine your key sales period in Google Analytics and schedule coverage, advertisements and promotions which straddle these dates and overlap by a few weeks either side — it’s surprising how many people will buy a Christmas tree in the January sales.
Custom landing pages are valuable for both organic search and increasing the relevancy of your pay-per-click (PPC) ads.
Optimise your landing page by including keywords and phrases in the title and include popular search terms within your website copy. Once your page is optimised, ensure that users have a pleasant shopping experience by making the purchasing process as simple as possible.
Allow users to sort results and provide an intuitive search function if budget permits. Highlighting your delivery terms (i.e. free delivery/next day delivery) also appeals to shoppers in a rush.
User-testing of your landing pages, your mobile site and your checkout process should be carried out before your sales period really kicks in. If you don’t have the budget for conversion rate optimisation, consider asking your own team to process test orders and highlight anything that could put customers off.
As of 2nd September, Product Listing Ads (PLA) on Google have been replaced by Shopping Campaigns. Google Shopping Campaigns allow you to bulk edit product groups and they offer access to your inventory and product feed information in Adwords.
While Shopping Campaigns are designed to respond to past complexities associated with PLA campaigns, users should familiarise themselves with the new features before increasing their PPC spend.
Brands often make the mistake of posting only when it suits them (i.e. 9-5) and they forget that the majority of their target audience will be active on social media during evenings and weekends. Once you know when your fans are interacting, you can schedule your posts accordingly.
Copyright © 2014 Victoria Browne, copywriter and social campaigns manager, Fluid Creativity.
Have you given much thought to how you communicate with your customers once they have ordered from your online store?
For many businesses, email is the obvious option; it is cheap, everyone else does it and all of your customers have an email address. But that is exactly the problem — because everyone else uses email, your communications get buried.
According to MailChimp, only 17.35% of ecommerce emails get opened. So, if you currently use email for order updates, then these communications are potentially reaching less than one in five customers.
Using SMS texts for customer service is a brilliant way to add customer value post-purchase for seven reasons:
SMS communications have a staggering open rate of 98%. Sending text messages ensures that your customers stay updated at every stage of the ordering and delivery process.
At a time when customers have handed over money and they are eagerly waiting for news on their order, there is no better time to use SMS as a communication tool. 90% of texts get read within five minutes. Your customers will appreciate the instant updates.
Mobile phones are very personal devices. Communicating through SMS to provide order updates shows you care and will build deep trust and loyalty.
With the growth of mcommerce, more and more consumers are buying goods through their smartphones. So communicating with them through a method that is more smartphone-friendly simply makes sense.
Some smartphone users turn their internet off in order to save battery. Others simply don’t have 3G or 4G signal. SMS overcomes these technological issues.
SMS makes your brand stand out from the crowd. With so many ecommerce businesses communicating solely through email, SMS is a great way to reach your customers.
Once your existing customers have received customer service texts from you they are more responsive to future promotional texts that add value. For example, you could send a loyalty coupon with an embedded URL code to your online store.
SMS gives you a greater ability to keep customers informed in a way that’s personal and relevant to them, enabling you to engage with them throughout the order process. This not only leads to increased satisfaction — but also increased sales.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Let’s start strong with some facts and figures:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Find out more on this excellent infographic courtesy of Vouchercloud
Consumer Psychology and the E-Commerce Checkout - An infographic by the team at vouchercloud