All posts in eCommerce

Shopping trolley  2Cart abandonment is a staggering problem for every e-retailer. Research shows that 57 percent of online shoppers never intended to make a purchase as they were window shopping, and nearly three-quarters (74 percent) abandoned items because of shipping costs. Just one more statistic: 56 percent of consumers have left items in their carts because they intended to come back later and purchase. That is a substantial figure, and it is one that e-businesses can use to their advantage. Persistent shopping carts enable consumers to come back, find their nice full cart, and complete the transaction.

Ecommerce platforms like Maginus or Magento support persistent shopping carts. While the steps will be different depending on your platform, let’s go through Magento’s process to give you an idea of what it will look like:

  1. Log into your Admin panel. System>Configuration.
  2. On the left, find Customers and select Persistent Shopping Cart.
  3. From there, click on General Options.
  4. Select use when prompted to Enable Persistence.
  5. Next, you will set your preferences for Persistence Lifetime. The maximum is one year (31,536,000 seconds), and that is the default setting. You can shorten this to weeks or months, if you prefer.
  6. Under Enable “Remember Me” you can choose Yes, which will create a Login page checkbox that customers can click on if they want their cart information saved. If you choose No, customers won’t have that option, and their items will be saved by default.
  7. You also have a choice to make for Clear Persistence on Log Out. Yes means the cart information is cleared when registered customers log out. No means it is saved after logout.
  8. One more yes/no. Persist Shopping Cart. Yes means that a guest can log in or create a new account, and their information is there. The session cookie expires, but the persistent cookie does not. No means it is not retained after the session cookie expires.
  9. Save Config, and there you have it.

Persistent shopping carts can help reduce cart abandonment and enhance user experience. If a customer fills his/her cart, goes to another site to check prices, and pops back to your site, it is essential that the items be waiting. If not, they are unlikely to take the time to put them back in – especially if the competing sites retain the items!

 

Twisted directions“Content marketing is the only marketing left.” Seth Godin, author

The sales funnel concept holds that people go through different stages in the buying cycle. At the top, the widest part of the funnel, are those people who might be interested in your product or service. From there, it narrows into “hot” leads and, finally, customers. While the journey from unqualified lead to paying customer is not linear, this is a useful model because prospects have differing needs based on where they are in the sales cycle. Today we’ll talk about mid-funnel content to help you nurture leads.

Quickly, top-funnel content is educational; you are not going for a hard sell. Blog posts, tutorials, infographics, how-to-videos, and other content fits perfectly here because it delivers value to your customer without pitching. Bottom-funnel content is the time to break out the demo, discuss pricing, and, again, offer educational content to keep them interested and engaged.

In between, you have established trust with leads; they see you as a resource. They have completed a call to action, such as filling out a form or signing up for a newsletter. To capitalise on their interest, mid-funnel content focus on even greater value. Perhaps, in your top-funnel content, you discussed the importance of crafting a strong vision statement. In mid-funnel content, you can dive deeper into the subject. Perhaps you offer a case study; maybe you offer a step-by-step process they can follow. If you are in an industry that depends on research, you could offer a report or whitepaper on a specific topic.

Here are some strategies that you can use to optimise and leverage your mid-funnel content:

  • Try a drip email campaign. This delivers pre-developed messages appropriate for the recipients’ stage in the funnel. This, again, keeps you top of mind. Practice the soft sell, offering value to your prospects.
  • Offer a whitepaper to your top prospects. This must have information, data, and insights that they cannot find elsewhere, or which would take significant time for them to compile on their own. Other ideas include offering an exclusive video or access to a webinar or webcast.
  • Categorise your prospects into user personas; these are essentially fictional characters that represent the needs, desires, age, race, ethnic background, professional or career level, and other features of your real prospects. Once you have fleshed out these personas, generate topics specifically for them. Develop content based on persona and stage of the sales funnel.
  • Track your content. Are people reading your emails? Are they clicking on links you provide or downloading content you are sending? Which content seems to be sticking with them most effectively?
  • Make sure that your mid-funnel content does not have risk for the prospect. That is, they are not going to lose money, time, etc. if they take you up on an offer. Here is where  free works; whitepapers, videos, infographics, articles, and other valuable content drives your objectives, pushes them down the funnel, and keeps you top of mind.

Mid-funnel content sets the hook; you want to capitalise on the interest and trust you’ve built by continuing to offer more relevant, interesting content. You need to go deeper, and offer a bit more – not the whole farm; you still want something to sell at the end! At this stage of the game, though, it’s about positioning yourself as the expert, as the answer to questions and concerns, and as the logical next step.

eccommerce concept 3A businessperson’s work is never done. There is always optimising to be done, whether you’re working on your site’s navigation, your keyword strategy, your content offerings, or your ecommerce site. Optimising your product pages is key because it allows potential customers to access the information they want – and be enticed by your products.

To ensure that your product pages are working their hardest for you:

  1. Use clear, focused images of your products. Make sure they are original or that you have secured permission from their owners. It is best to get high-quality shots of real people using the product and to ensure you have multiple angles. The good news is that if you cannot afford a professional photographer, you can take these pictures with a decent camera.
  2. While you’ve got the camera going, add video. If having video for each product is unfeasible then produce them for your top selling products – or those that are up-and-coming. People want the next big thing, so show it to them. Video content could be a box opening, a quick how-to, a testimonial, or other attention-grabbing format. It doesn’t have to be blockbuster  quality; but clear and professional is a must.
  3. Create clear product descriptions. Include most important features, bullet points, a quick summary, a more detailed description, and links to important information, such as shipping, returns, and FAQs. Don’t try to “sell” the product; just tell about it.
  4. Make sure the price is clearly listed. Price should be readily apparent. But don’t forget the shipping. Often, shipping prices come as a surprise when we’ve gone to our carts to check out. Make sure your customers know this information ahead of time to cut down on abandoned carts. Shipping calculators are always a great idea.
  5. Notify of restocking. If a product is out of stock but you are planning on restocking, let visitors opt in to receive an email when it is back. Then, when you have their email address for this purpose, do not abuse it. If they have signed up to receive updates or newsletters, fine. If they have not, don’t consider this license to send them any other emails.
  6. Encourage reviews. Make it easy to leave a rating or review. This is great user-generated content for search engines, and other customers trust these highly.

Your product pages are just one element of your overall site, but they are crucial to your success. Spend some time making your online store as inviting and helpful as you would a physical location.

 

Sale WebbuttonIt is estimated that UK shoppers will spend £87 ($138 billion) online this year, up from £78 ($123.7 billion) from 2012. It’s no surprise that mobile devices have pushed the trend. We love the convenience, ease, and ability to shop anytime, wearing any sort of pyjamas we like. Consumers hop on their favorite ecommerce sites, but they also frequent comparison shopping engines (CSE) so they can quickly compare product offerings, prices, shipping options, and more. Google Shopping, Nextag, PriceGrabber, Shopping.com, and other engines make it easy for consumers – but do they make it easy for merchants? Being noticed is difficult. These comparison shopping engine optimisation tips can help.

  • Watch the competition. Make sure your pricing and benefits are competitive. Consumers will be looking at them as a group, and you need to show that you are the best choice. That doesn’t necessarily mean lowest price; in fact, many consumers will eschew the lower price for the better shipping and return policies.
  • Be clear, concise, and original. Write detailed descriptions that accurately portray your products and benefits. Don’t just use the manufacturer’s description, and use keywords that your audience is actually looking for.
  • Choose the right CSE. Look for ease of use and cost, of course, but also make sure you’re listing on the engines that are most friendly to your product (and on which your competition is listing!). Also look for reviews and choose CSEs with high conversion rates.
  • Make sure your product information is up-to-date, old products are removed, and new ones added to the mix. Managing your feed is essential, and you can do it manually or with the help of a service.
  • Monitor your performance to get a sense of your ROI, and make adjustments as needed. This is an ongoing process.

About one-third of purchases are initiated with CSEs. It is a huge opportunity for merchants to gain visibility and, of course, profitability!

 

Weather you are planning to start your online shop or you already have one, we’ve selected for you four very helpful web tools that have the potential to increase your online business success.

Shopping Cart

Order eCommerce

OpenCart is a great shopping cart tool for those who host and manage their own eShop. It gives you more control and customization, while it is not quite as complex and resource-hungry as other similar providers. OpenCart has multiple features and is easy to use, search engine friendly and with a visually appealing interface. The costs are quite reasonable and it offers thousands of high-end eCommerce themes. Other relevant features are: multi-currency, multi-language, product reviews, product ratings, unlimited categories, unlimited products, unlimited manufacturers, 20+ payment gateways and 8+ shipping methods.

 

Comprehensive Dropshipping Database

Comprehensive worldwide dropshipping

 

Worldwidebrands.com is a database of 100% genuine Dropshippers and Light Bulk Wholesalers that are willing to work with small online sellers. It represents millions of top-level wholesale products from thousands of certified dropshippers and bulk wholesalers that you can use for your online store or auctions. These are the same suppliers used by some big retail stores around the world. A new online seller won’t have to worry about falling for the countless wholesale scams that are everywhere on the web.

 

Web Chat Software for online shops

Say hello to your customers, ZopimZopim embeds a chatbar on your website, so that any visitor can chat with you directly by clicking on the chatbar. Just like in a real shop, Zopim allows you to have live conversations with visitors on your website. You can engage and satisfy visitors, and by doing so, you convert them into loyal customers before they move on to the next site! It’s reasonable priced (also features a free simple version), and can be easily used by placing a customizable chat widget on your website. You can start having genuine conversations with visitors within minutes.

 

Online Accounting Tool

Easy to use web based accounting toolYou need to count your hard-earned online money and one of the best web solutions is Xero. They pride themselves for being the world’s easiest accounting software. It connects to your bank accounts, and imports and categorizes your latest banking, credit card and PayPal transactions. It also connects with your customers, manages cash flow by scheduling bill payments and sending invoices automatically.

Xero manages all aspects of your business by picking from a range of powerful add-ons for CRM, inventory, timesheets and job management, plus other specialized tools. And then there are payrolls, fixed assets, expense claims, budgets, complete financial reporting – all done when and where you need it: at work, home, or on the go.

 

 

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