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Australian eCommerce Trends & Predictions for 2017

Australian eCommerce Trends & Predictions for 2017

Australian eCommerce Trends & Predictions for 2017

2016 was an odd year for eCommerce in Australia.

The shopping year started off slow, and many retailers were predicting a lack lustre year for themselves.

Yet, the NAB Online Retail Sales Index has estimated that Australians spent more than $21 Billion online between November of 2015 and November of 2016.
If you recall, Australian online shoppers spent $17.6 Billion in 2015.

The statistics support both sides of the story though, showing that Australian consumers did ease off their spending habits for the most part of the year, but (seriously) made up for it in November and December.

The good news is the outlook for 2017 is for another year of positive growth for eCommerce in Australia, with the predicted trends suggesting that this will be a year for significant changes in the industry.

Mobile

Mobile eCommerce will continue to grow as it has been.

But the prediction for this year is that the focus will be on improving two keys areas: SEO and Payment Methods.

Mobile & SEO

Last year, Google announced that it will be splitting their current search index into two, one index for mobile search and another index for desktop search, with the mobile index becoming the primary search index.

In response to this, we should see eCommerce websites focus on improving their efforts in local SEO, as well as improvements to take advantage of the shift to Voice Search.

If you haven't heard the term Voice Search before, we suggest you read up on it. We've included a link in the list of resources at the end of this article.

Mobile Payments

New payment methods that aren't as cumbersome as entering Credit Card details every transaction are also predicted to trend this year in Australia.

Last year contained a lot of buzz about mobile wallets and mobile payments, but stalled once Apple and The Big 4 banks started to battle for control of the Australian market.

This caused a very slow uptake of mobile payment technologies by consumers in Australia, and online stores were happy to continue with the options they were providing.

Now that the dust has settled, online retailers should start to incorporate mobile payments into their eStores as they start to see more demand from their customers.

Traditional store owners will also move to align their offline payment method options with their online payment method options (such as PayWave or Apple Pay or ANZ Mobile Pay) as a way to improve their customer shopping experience.

Chat Bots

Chat Bots are predicted to be the next big thing in 2017.

Down here in Australia though, we don't predict that Chat Bots will take off as much as in larger markets, such as the United States or Europe.

The ultimate decider in whether Chat Bots become a useful tool for eStores will be the Australian customer.

If Australian shoppers don't find a Chat Bot to be both a convenience and a delight to their shopping experience, they will ditch them faster than an out-sourced call centre.

Unless they're done very well, Chat Bots may end up in the same vein as Chat Support plug-ins that were touted as the next big thing in Customer Service.

To the Australian customer, Chat Support has turned out to be more of a gimmick than true customer service and resulted in the technology (and the companies that use them) being viewed negatively.

Amazon Invasion

Of course, the big shake-up predicted for eCommerce in Australia this year will be the entry of Amazon Australia into the market.

Amazon announced last year that they were coming to Australia.

At the time of writing, Amazon had not yet officially launched their Australian arm, but no doubt every sharp business owner that sells products will be keeping a tight eye on them.

No one knows how the Australian market will change once Amazon officially open, but predictions are that it will hurt, and hurt badly.

Competition is good for the consumer though, so it will be interesting to see how Australian eStores respond to counter the hit to their business.

iASP Central Tip: The best way to prepare for Amazon is to refocus your business plan to offer something that Amazon cannot. Products, offers, experiences - anything that will differentiate your business from what Amazon can offer.




Resources:




Do you own an eCommerce website? What do you think will be key for eCommerce in 2017? Start a conversation on the iASP Central Facebook Page or Get in Touch.


How to Provide Basic Website Support Like a Legend

How to Provide Basic Website Support Like a Legend

How to Provide Basic Website Support Like a Legend

How many times have you walked out of a retail store after waiting too long for someone to help you?

I don't know about you, but my patience for that type of customer service is extremely low.

So imagine what the experience is like when you need to ask a retail website for help.
Only to receive the reply "Thank you. We've forwarded your enquiry onto our Web Developer. Please wait 2-5 days for a reply."

2 to 5 days! Ain't nobody got time for that!

The time it takes to help your online customers can be make or break for your online business.

Just like in the real world, it can be the difference between keeping customers, or losing them forever.

Don't be powerless in this situation however.
There is something that you and your staff can do to get the ball rolling while before you contact your Web Developer.

You can go through some pre-checks with the customer to see if there isn't a quick fix to the problem they are having.

In the industry, this is known as basic website support or level 1 support.

Providing basic website support is a straight forward process that just about everyone can do.

Let's break the process down into steps.

Step 1: Calm the Customer

Not every customer will need to be calmed, but you will get an angry, demanding customer from time to time.

So the first step is to try to bring the customer back onto your side.

Keep in mind that every website has it's moment. Every customer has their moment too.

But at the same time, you aren't the business, you aren't the website. You are the person trying to help them right now.

Communicate to the customer that this isn't a big deal.

The website could very well be broken, or it could be something else entirely.

But before you call in the Cavalry, you're going to have a look together to see if you can find what's going on.

Calming the customer might not always be possible. Some people will insist on being angry.

In these cases, just proceed to Step 2 as well as you can.

Pro Tip: The best way to disarm an irate customer is to be extra nice in return. Customers like these want to get a reaction from you, they want you to get as angry as they are. As soon as they realise that they won't get that reaction from you, they generally start to calm down.

Step 2: Identify and Reproduce "The Problem"

The second step is to identify the problem, and see if the same thing happens for you.

This will help you to determine where the problem is, and likely what the solution will be.

9 times out of 10*, the problem is from an external cause. User error, or an incompatible web-browser setting, or an up-stream issue with a service provider your website uses, or an issue with the customer's computer or Internet service.
(*Used as an expression, not statistically accurate.)

These are all issues you can't fix, but basic website support is about finding the cause of the problem, solving it if you can (or pointing the customer in the right direction). And if you can't solve it then and there, then you pass it on to the experts.

If the customer hasn't provided enough information for you to start investigating, ask them.
- What is it that you are trying to do?
- What steps are you taking to do it?
- Is any feedback provided, such as an error message?

Once you have this information, follow them step by step to see if you get the same result as the customer.

If you can reproduce the problem, then you know what it is and you can proceed to Step 4.

Maybe it's some bad data that is breaking website functionality. Or perhaps the customer was doing something incorrectly.
Either way, you've identified the problem, and you can communicate this to the customer. Problem solved.

Sometimes you won't be able to reproduce the problem, and everything will work for you as you expect it to.
This is where you need to put yourself in the customer's shoes.

Here you try to identify what else they COULD be doing to produce the problem they're having.
- Are they clicking a button too many times?
- Are they trying to do something on the website that they can't do, or aren't allowed to do?

If at this point, you're still unable to identify what is causing the problem, it's time to move onto Step 3 - basic troubleshooting.

Step 3: Basic Troubleshooting

If the customer is doing something they should be able to do, and the cause of the problem they're experiencing isn't immediately obvious, then it's time to go through basic troubleshooting.

Basic troubleshooting is a list of steps to start ruling out possible external causes for the problem (or hopefully identify and fix it).

For most websites, basic troubleshooting involves the following steps:

  1. Empty the cache (& cookies) of the web-browser, close down the web-browser, and try using the website again.
  2. Ensure that the web-browser has the correct settings and plug-ins required to use the website and that they are enabled. For example, check that Cookies are enabled in the browser,and Javascript is enabled, and that the browser security settings aren't set too high.)
  3. Try using the website in a different web-browser.

By now you have hopefully fixed or found the issue while trying the basic troubleshooting steps and you can proceed to the final step.

But if not, you've now ruled out those possible causes as being the cause of this particular problem.

So now it's time to escalate this problem to Level 2 Support, and proceed to Step 4.

Step 4: Inform the Customer of the Outcome

Step 4 is the most important step. Here you inform the customer of your findings and what happens next.

Clear communication is the key to this step.
Not everyone is a whizz on the computer, so try to explain the problem to the customer in a way that they understand.

Your findings will fall into one of the following categories:

  • You have identified the cause of the problem, and it is a problem that the customer must fix at their end.
    (User error, a problem with their computer or Internet, etc)
  • You have identified the cause of the problem, and it is not a problem the customer can fix.
    (Website error/issue, upstream service issue)
  • You have been unable to identify the cause of the problem, and need to escalate the issue to Level 2 Support.

In every case, inform the customer of the cause of the problem if you know what the cause is.
For example, the issue might be have been caused by a corrupt cookie in their web browser. Or it might be caused by a service outage that is affecting your website.

If your findings fall into category one, provide information to the customer that will explain what they must do to fix it.
You can provide links to webpages or forums with instructions that will help the customer. Or you can write up instruction templates or an FAQ for common issues.

If your findings fall into category two, then explain what you need to do to fix the issue for the customer.

And if your findings fall into category three, then explain that the issue looks to be serious, and you have sent it on to Level 2 Support for investigation.

When you can help the customer to understand how the problem came about, and what needs to be done to resolve it, most people will accept the outcome and be thankful for your help.

And There You Have It

Providing basic website support really is that straightforward.

So don't leave your customers waiting days to receive help to use your website.
Get the ball rolling by providing them with basic website support yourself.

Most website support is just a case of helping the customer get back to shopping again.

Sometimes the problem really is a bug. Many times though, it's a small glitch that can be fixed in minutes.

But by providing basic website support to your customers, you can keep the customer on your side, rather than get them walking off to another eStore.




Agree? Disagree? Start a conversation on the iASP Central Facebook Page or Get in Touch.


A Review of eCommerce Predictions for 2016

A Review of eCommerce Predictions for 2016

A Review of eCommerce Predictions for 2016

2015 was an exceptional year for eCommerce.

Australian shoppers smashed the predicted $10 billion in online retail spending.

According to the National Bank of Australia, online retail spending in Australia increased by 10%, up to $17.6 billion1.

Early last year, we reviewed the industry predictions for eCommerce trends in 2015.

We reported that the major focus would be in the areas of mobile shopping, social media selling, and the combination of traditional marketing channels and digital marketing channels to provide a similar shopping experience for the customer.

mCommerce saw the biggest growth in 2015, helped in part by the growth in mobile device usage and the mobilegeddon that unfolded in the middle of the year.

We saw a serious shift in the capability to buy online direct from mobile devices rather than just gather information to support the customer's buying decision.

2016 is well under way now though, and it's time again to review the future predictions.

Here are the eCommerce trends tipped to be big for 2016.


Continued Growth in Online Markets

The good news is most industry leaders are predicting the strong growth seen in 2015 will continue well into 2016.

And like last year, mobile it tipped to generate the largest part of this growth.


It's all about the Customer Experience

Creating and improving the customer experience will be the main area of focus for eCommerce in 2016.

The marketing strategy of eStores will no longer target increasing the number of single transactions.

Instead, marketing strategies will focus on managing customer expectation and satisfaction every step of the way, including post-purchase.

Cheaper prices and free shipping will no longer be the differentiator between competing eStores.

Instead, online shopping will become a journey or an experience akin to shopping at Tiffany's.


Expansion of Marketing Automation

Over the past couple of years, e-Mail marketing has been almost completely automated.

It is not uncommon now for eStores to send a targeted e-Mail to a customer based upon particular activities, such as if the customer added items to their cart, and then left the website without completing the order.

This year, more marketing channels will become automated in a similar fashion.

Elements of a website such as banners, landing pages, even product descriptions will become automated to serve customized content targeted to the individual.

For example, I might return to a website several times to look at a particular product. The next time I return, I am served a banner advertising a promotional discount on that specific item, a discount just for me.

This level of automation is a tool to provide even greater personalized shopping experiences for customers.


More Social Media Selling

Selling on social media last year was been more like marketing and advertising, rather than a point-of-sale.

Several social media platforms tested and partly launched tools in 2015 to allow their users to buy products within the platform itself, without needing to visit the retailer's website.

In 2016, we will see these features become available to more retailers in more countries.

Soon it will become commonplace to see a post or a tweet with a Buy Now button.


A Higher Quality of Content

High-quality content will become a differentiator to attract and engage customers.

Faster Internet speeds have allowed video to become a viable method to deliver content. Product reviews, demonstrations, and instructional videos will become popular forms of content.

Website content strategy itself will become more about storytelling and entertainment.


In Conclusion

Prepare for 2016 to be another significant year for eCommerce.

Barriers that separated online shopping from traditional shopping will dissolve as new technology becomes viable and affordable to traditional retailers.

This will enable traditional retailers to compete in online markets again as the advantages that eRetailers have enjoyed up until now become less of an advantage.

Online shopping has now become just another part of shopping in general.



Resources:


Your 2015 eStore Christmas Promotion Checklist

Your 2015 eStore Christmas Promotion Checklist

Your 2015 eStore Christmas Promotion Checklist

According to this website, there are 119 sleeps until Christmas!!

That's only 17 weeks!

Which means that all you eTailers have even less time to prepare your eStore for the Christmas/Holiday Sale Rush!

The time to start planning is NOW!

There are promotions to decide, marketing campaigns to prepare, and don't even get me started on which wrapping paper to use this year.

We've put together a nice check-list to help you to prepare for your best Christmas Season yet.

#1: Review Last Year

The very first thing you'll want to do is to review the performance of last year's sale.

Undoubtedly, there were some parts that went very well, and other parts that fizzled for one reason or another.

Take this time to identify the positives and the negatives from last year.

Anything you did that was worth repeating, note it down and add it into your 2015 strategy. And the mistakes that you don't want to repeat, create contingency plans to ensure they don't get repeated.

Then after reviewing your own performance, the next step is to review your competitors.

Look at how they approached the silly season sale. Are there any lessons to be learnt from mistakes they made? Or some clever ideas that you can take some inspiration from?

#2: Check Your Sales Data

Have a look at your sales history for the year.

Identify your top customers, because you'll want to specifically target them to boost your sales, as well as offer them a little reward incentive to butter them up as well.

Next, identify your top selling and poorest selling products for the year, and there are two reasons for this.

The first is to help you to select the products to feature in your promotions.

The second is to help identify any possible issues for the performance of your poorest selling products. Is there a stand-out reason why these particular products aren't selling as well?

Maybe the product description isn't informative enough, or the product images need improvement.

Take this opportunity to compare your poorer selling products against your best selling products and improve the content for your poorer sellers.

#3: Review our Twelve Steps to Successful Christmas eTailing

Hopefully you're already up-to-speed with our Twelve Steps to successful Christmas eTailing from last year, and they're already a part of your strategy.

If not, be sure to read them, as they are all still very relevant.

#4: Map out your marketing strategy

Now you want to plan your strategy - the theme of your campaign, the promotions you will offer, when you will start each promotion, and how long each promotion will run for.

Christmas is about rewards and gifts, and just generally being nice, so integrate this into the theme for your campaign.

Shoppers are always looking for the discounts, but think creatively about how customers can earn them, or earn further discounts.

Create some interaction between your business and your customers.

Perhaps a competition on social media could offer a higher discount on top of a regular discount. Or offer a special discount to your Facebook followers that are the most active in your community.

Stacking promotions to encourage sales at the start of the promotion is another effective strategy, offering multiple discounts/specials at the start of the sale period that drop off as the promotion progresses.

Without a doubt, you will also want to offer Free Shipping at some point during the promotion, if not for the entire sale period. Free Shipping will is always a major part of your customer's buying decisions, and is a common sales tactic by your competitors.

#5: Map out your content strategy

It's never a bad time to review and update your content, but now is a great opportunity to give your website content a good spring clean.

You've already decided on the theme for your marketing campaign, now to plan the areas of your website that will need to be updated to reflect your theme.

You may wish to re-write your product pages to be more appropriate to the occasion/theme, or to provide better descriptions that help the customer to make a purchase.

Fresh product images are always a good idea, and can also be used to add to the feel of your theme.

Then there is the banner images on the homepage that are going to draw and direct your customers to your featured specials. What marketing message will you want to display? Which products will you feature?

If you have a Blog or News section, prepare a plan for the articles that you will publish during the campaign. Plan dates will they be published, and decide on the images that be used in the articles.

#6: Map out your e-Mail campaigns

Now that you have your marketing strategy set out, it's time to plan your e-Mail campaigns.

Following on from Step 2, we recommend making two lists of subscribers - Your best customers, and your regular subscribers.

Plan to send a campaign to each list a week before your campaign starts, another at the start of the sale, then a third campaign a week or two before the sale ends, and lastly, a final days reminder.

List which products you will include, and write the content for each campaign, and again, decide on the images that be used.

Have everything prepared so that all that remains is the create each campaign and send them.

#7: Map out your social media campaigns

As always, you need to plan social media campaigns to support your marketing and e-Mail campaigns.

Plan out the posts for each of your social media accounts, and prepare the content for each post, and brainstorm the style and message of images that will need to be produced for each post.

You may also want to launch competitions especially for your social media channels to attract your followers.

Lastly, look at utilising Facebook Ads to target your followers, or new followers.

#8: Arrange for content to be produced early

Once you have everything planned and decided, the final step is to arrange for the content you aren't able to produce to be produced for you.

You really don't want to leave this until the last minute, the earlier you can get your designer onto your banners or images, the earlier they will be ready to launch your campaign and the less rush everyone will be in later in the year.



Need some Help? If you would like some help to get your Christmas Promotion into gear, Get in Touch. Or if you have some tips of your own that you'd like to share, join us on the iASP Central Facebook Page.



Further Reading:


10 Ways To Satisfy Your Customer's Privacy Concerns

10 Ways To Satisfy Your Customer's Privacy Concerns

10 Ways To Satisfy Your Customer's Privacy Concerns

In case you missed it, last week was Privacy Awareness Week.

With over 700,000 Australians becoming victim to on-line identity theft in just the past year, protecting customers on-line privacy is one of the most critical issues website publishers must consider.

Under Australian Law, the privacy rights of Australians are protected by the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act), which relates to the protection of personal information about an individual that does or could identify them.

According to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, the Privacy Act outlines the "standards, rights and obligations for the handling, holding, accessing and correction of personal information" which privacy law aims to protect.

It may surprise you to know that most Australian small-businesses are not covered by the Privacy Act, meaning they have no responsibility to ensure the privacy of their customer information.

There are however moral and commercial pressures: online privacy is already so important to some customers that it is a determining factor when choosing one eStore over another.

So what can eStores do to allay the fears of increasingly privacy-conscious customers?

We've put together 10 simple but powerful tactics that website owners can use to reduce the fears of customers that are concerned about their on-line privacy:

  1. Ensure that areas of the website that collect personal information (such as the registration form, or the checkout payment page) are secured using HTTPS - Consumers are now learning to "look for the lock" and discriminate if they don't see it. (Pro Tip: Make the whole website HTTPS secure).

  2. Only collect personal details that are absolutely necessary to conduct business - If you don't need it to conduct your business, don't collect it. The more personal information a customer needs to fill into a form, the more wary they become. (Pro Tip: Never collect a customers Date of Birth unless it is a legal requirement for your industry)

  3. Have a clear and easy to understand Privacy Policy, that is easily accessible and visible - Don't just put your Privacy Policy in a small link at the bottom of your website, link to it where ever you are collecting personal information and make it very clear that privacy is important to you.

  4. Clearly state the personal information that you will AND will not collect and what you will do with this information - This allows customers to know exactly what personal information and why they need to provide it. 

  5. Give visitors access to view the information that has been collected about them, and allow them to update it easily. 

  6. Don't use sensitive personal information which could identify a customer in e-Mail or newsletters - e-Mail is an insecure medium. Not only is a bad idea to include sensitive personal information in e-Mail, it also decreases customer confidence when they see their personal details being sent over an insecure medium. (Pro Tip: Never send a clear password in an e-mail: instead send a partially masked password hint or preferably, allow the customer to re-set their password securely)     

  7. Encourage your customers to protect their personal information by using strong passwords, and to change them regularly - Protecting privacy is as much a responsibility of the customer as it is of the business

  8. Where appropriate, allow visitors to interact with your website anonymously - It isn't always necessary to collect personal information to conduct business. This may just be a case of allowing the customer to browse without needing to register first, or allowing them to post comments anonymously.

  9. Opt-In to the Australian Privacy Act, and advertise this fact - Show your commitment to good privacy practice by opting into the Australian Privacy Act. Doing so will have your business name added to the public Opt-In Register, which can increase consumer confidence and trust.

  10. Have a data breach response plan - as some organisations such as eBay have learned, honesty and open communications are the best policies to keep customers informed. A response plan will not only serve to decrease the impact on the affected individuals, having such a plan can also improve customer confidence.


Personal privacy is a very important part of everyday life, and this extends to using the Internet including sending and receiving e-mail, browsing the Web, using social media and especially shopping on-line.

Anything website and eStore operators do to improve customer confidence, including addressing increasingly important privacy concerns, should improve customer experience and satisfaction, and a happy customer is much more likely to be a returning customer.



If you are unsure whether your business needs to comply with the Australian Privacy Act, you can use the OAIC Privacy Checklist for Small Business .



Resources:


Will Social Media Shopping Change the eCommerce Game?

Will Social Media Shopping Change the eCommerce Game?

Will Social Media Shopping Change the eCommerce Game?

Last week we gave you our Review of eCommerce Trends for 2015, which took a snapshot of the predictions from some of the industries' thinkers and influencers.

In our review, we found that improving social commerce is a big part of the plan for this year.


The term "Social Commerce" has been around for the best part of a decade, and refers to the use of social media to support and influence the buying decision of consumers while they are using social media platforms.

The customer was still required to leave the website to complete their purchase however. The platform wasn't the marketplace, just another marketing channel.

This seems set to change in the very near future though, with announcements from the three most popular platforms - Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest - that they will all be introducing shopping services for their users.

Very quickly, social media will transform from a marketing channel, into a marketplace.

Or will it?


There are some major limitations in being able to purchase products on social media platforms.

For example, it will be difficult to convince consumers to purchase a bottle of Coca Cola on Facebook. People buy that product when they are thirsty and want to consume shortly after. Buyers won't wait for it to be delivered.

People won't buy their groceries through social media either.

Woolworths might post an offer for a particular item; but allowing the customer to buy it then and there will result in a loss of the sales they would otherwise gain when the customer shops at one of their stores or on their website; not to mention the delivery nightmare single-item sales will create for them.

Then there is the other end of the spectrum.

Items such as high-end electronics or white goods, where consumers invest a lot of time researching and comparing similar brands and products before purchasing, will also be difficult to offer for sale on social media platforms.

The customer still needs to leave the platform to do their research and comparison, and so you lose the benefit of offering the product for sale on the platform in the first place.


Realistically, the new shopping feature being added to social media platforms will primarily suit one-off, impulse purchases.

Products that businesses are already "selling" on social media such as clothing items or fashion accessories, but who then need to arrange payment and delivery for the goods separately.


For the majority of businesses that are on social media, it is likely that being able to sell directly to their social media audience will not be any more practical or convenient than it is now, and it is not likely to change their social media strategy.


For the most part, eCommerce and social commerce will remain much the same as it is now. In the short-term at least.



Resources:



What do you think about the social media 'Buy' button? Share your thoughts with us on the iASP Central Facebook Page, or Get in Touch.


A Review of eCommerce Trends for 2015

A Review of eCommerce Trends for 2015

A Review of eCommerce Trends for 2015

2014 was a grand year for eCommerce, both globally and locally in Australia. By the end of the 2014 financial year, on-line retail sales in Australia hit AU$15.6 billion, growing 8.6% from the previous year.

On-line stores were no-longer a cheap and tacky looking website with poor product images that left a feeling of uncertainty and doubt in the shopper, but were now professional websites that gave the customer everything they needed and more.

Australian retailers were quick to recognise that eCommerce was no longer a nice-to-have addition to compete with the store up the road, but was now a must-have part of their business if they didn't want to lose their local customers to overseas competitors.

Many industry players have made their predictions for eCommerce trends, and we have reviewed them to distil the most popular predictions for 2015.

An Overview

The overview for eCommerce is that 2015 looks set to maintain the pace gathered in 2014, improving on the lessons learnt from the previous year, and preparing for a big leap coming in the next few years as new technology becomes more widely available and affordable.

Greater Focus on Mobile

Overwhelmingly, a major focus on mobile was the #1 trend prediction.

Mobile shopping habits in Australia are currently shifting from on-line browsing to on-line purchasing, and on-line stores will adapt to this shift.

The focus will be in improving the shopping experience for mobile devices, making it easier and more convenient for customers to shop and purchase on their mobile devices.

Increase in Targeted E-Mail Marketing

Along with the increase in mobile shoppers, e-Mail marketing will also become more important.

It was reported last year that 55% of mobile web users in Australia now use mobile as either their primary or exclusive means of going online.

That means that 55% of mobile web users read their e-Mail on their mobile phone, a very direct channel to communicate to customers.

Like websites, e-Mail will become mobile friendly so as to be easier to read on smaller screens, and will become more targeted.

Personalised Shopping Experiences

With an increase in big data being collected around the Web, tailored shopping experiences will become the next big-thing for eStores.

Individualised prices, product recommendations and sales incentives offered to individual customers, timed perfectly for when that customer is in the market to buy a product.

Some industry figures are also predicting personalised products, allowing the customer to essentially make their own product before purchase, similar to what the eStore Shoes of Prey is already doing.

Social Media Selling

Social Media is always a necessary channel to engage customers, and will always be the second best way to maintain long-standing relationships with them.

Very soon however, social media will become the next marketplace to sell directly to your followers.

With both Twitter and Facebook announcing and testing "Buy" buttons on their platforms, retailers will need to be at-the-ready to jump on board as soon as the feature is officially launched.

Of course, the issues of payment, inventory control and order management will be a huge factor in how fast it will be adopted.

Omni-Channel Integration

As technology advances, stores that have both physical and on-line shops will combine the shopping experience offered at both locations.

The most obvious example will be Click-and-Collect purchases, where the customer purchases on-line, but then picks up their order in-store.

Another example - stores that allow customers to pay for their in-store purchase using their mobile device rather than queuing at a checkout.

NFC payment technology such as ApplePay and the similar solutions now being provided by the larger banks will assist this; as will the growth in popularity of mobile/digital wallets.

Greater Competition

In 2014 it became the "norm" for eStores to offer free shipping for all orders, as well as free returns.

In 2015, we will see more eStores offering these incentives as standard, and more, such as same day delivery and loyalty bonuses.



In summary, e-Commerce will become fiercely more competitive in 2015.

We should see larger, better designed eStores popping up and more imaginative strategies to attract customers being played out by retailers.

We expect to also start to see a blur between in-store shopping and on-line shopping.




Resources:



Do you have your own predictions? Share your thoughts with us on the iASP Central Facebook Page, or Get in Touch.


Twelve Steps to successful Christmas eTailing

Twelve Steps to successful Christmas eTailing

Twelve Steps to successful Christmas eTailing

It's less than a month until Santa fires up the Reindeer and eTailers should be squarely focussed on the annual Christmas shopping frenzy that's about to begin.

Like a bear fresh from hibernation, the Christmas Shopper is browsing, looking to feed their appetite, searching for the best deals on the gifts that give the most.

To help get your eStore ready for the Christmas shopping rush, HCD is pleased to provide our 12 Steps to successful Christmas eTailing.

Skipping the menial "make sure you have a reliable website that can handle the increased traffic load", and the "get your mobile website up and running" advice (because as HCD clients, we know you have already completed those steps, but if not feel free to get in touch and we'll do our best to help)...

So, here's HCD's Twelve Steps to successful Christmas eTailing:


Step 1: Plan to create an experience

One thing the Christmas Shopper loves more than the joy of buying the perfect gift, is being swept up in the moment while they are doing it.

Think about how you can boost that emotional connection with the customer during their shopping experience, leaving them wanting to a). share their experience with others, and b). come back for more.


Step 2: Put up some decorations

Break out the box of decorations and go over your website to give it a fresh feel.
Some simple but effective ideas are to:

  • Create a visual impact - Update or modify images to attract attention and create a new look.
  • Rewrite product descriptions - Change the language in your content to suit the moment.
  • Fix or remove any broken links - Nothing will lose a Christmas Shopper faster than a broken link.
  • Review your Returns Policy - Create reassurance for the Christmas Shopper by highlighting any specific conditions for this time of the year, and make the policy page easy to find.
  • Create a special category - Make browsing easy for the Christmas Shopper by putting the hot items front and center.
  • Create a Gift Purchasing Guide - Not only does a guide help the Christmas Shopper make a decision, it adds to the shopping experience.

Step 3: Offer Gift Wrapping / Gift Cards

Take away some of the stress for the Christmas Shopper by providing the peace-of-mind in knowing that the hard part of gift giving (wrapping it) is taken care of.

Create a lasting positive experience by going above and beyond expectations. A little effort can go a long way in this respect.


Step 4: Create a Landing Page

Create a Christmas themed landing page on your website to direct the Christmas Shoppers.

Keep it simple, with a clear call-to-action directives that guide customers onto where they need to go.


Step 5: Install a Live Chat plugin

Unlike real stores, eStores can lack that real-time enquiry and resolution that the Christmas Shopper often relies upon.

Adding a Live Chat feature to your website overcomes this, and allows your staff to answer customer queries while they are at your eStore, ready to buy.


Step 6: Entice the Early Shopper with Promotion Codes

The Early Christmas Shopper is typically calm, but has keener senses to sniff out the best bargains and can afford to be choosy.

Offer an early bird special at the start of the promotion to attract their attention, and reward them for being there at the start.


Step 7: Entice the Late Shopper with Last Minute Offers

The Late Christmas Shopper is usually in a panicked state, franticly searching for any deals that are still available.

Have a refreshing offer on hand to attract them over and satisfy their appetite.


Step 8: Sing your Promotion Loudly

Shout out frequently (but not aggressively) with newsletters to the Christmas Shopper to let them know what you have on offer! Your campaigns should run in parallel with the phases of your promotion:

  • Send a personalised email to loyal customers, with a special incentive just for them.
  • Advise Shoppers of your upcoming promotion start date. Add tips to help in their preparation.
  • Advise Shoppers that the promotion has started.
  • Advise Shoppers that the promotion has reached the middle, offer more incentives.
  • Advise Shoppers that the promotion is about to come to a end (just 1 week to go!!).
  • Advise Shoppers that the promotion ends tomorrow.

Step 9: Create a buzz on Social Media

Support your email campaigns with a social media campaign on your selected channels. You could also run a competition around your promotion to add extra buzz and/or incentive.

Keep your audience in the loop about your promotion's progress, and share the mood and festivities to add that personal touch.


Step 10: Give something back

Help the Christmas Shopper get into the festive spirit with the incentive of receiving something in return for their shopping efforts.

Charitable donations are a good additional incentive to offer during the festive time of the year to create a warm, fuzzy feeling of goodwill.

Small freebie items for the Christmas Shopper also work. And nothing works better than a little, unexpected surprise!


Step 11: Communicate the delivery process

Keep the Christmas Shopper in the loop by letting them know when their order is being processed, when their order is being packed, when it has been shipped, and when they can expect delivery.

The clearer the communication, the happier the Shopper.


Step 12: Follow up with post-Christmas rewards and opportunities

The day after Christmas is, of course, when the Christmas Shopper is ready to buy more. Entice your Christmas Shoppers to return by offering rewards or discounts that can be redeemed after Christmas, or even for a January promotion.


Just have some fun!

Your Christmas Promotion needn't be as stressful as your Christmas shopping.

With a little planning, and well-timed execution, your promotion should run as smoothly as Christmas at Grandma's house.

Spread the joy, share the love, and feed your Christmas Shoppers a feast they'll want to come back for.


Need some Help? If you would like some help to get your Christmas Promotion into gear, Get in Touch. Or if you have some preparation advice of your own that you think we missed, share them with us on the iASP Central Facebook Page.


5 Steps Towards Joining International Social Media

5 Steps Towards Joining International Social Media

5 Steps Towards Joining International Social Media

As the saying goes: business is booming somewhere, you just have to find it.

The Internet has removed many barriers to International business, allowing trade virtually anywhere and at any time and Social media provides business with platforms to communicate and interact with customers like never before.

So it makes sense that if you are going to trade internationally, your business should also socialise internationally.

Global Social Media Communities

In an article published just last year, eMarketer estimates that by 2017, 2.33 billion people will use social media networks around the world.

While Facebook and Twitter are household names in Australia, other countries have developed their own on-line communities.

China, for example, banned websites like Facebook and Twitter, yet nearly half the population are active on their local social media networks. That's over half a billion users that can't be reached through Facebook.

Other countries also have smaller social media networks that are popular amongst niche groups of people, for example Google+ in the United States.

With a little planning and preparation, new business opportunities can be created by branching out into social media communities that would typically be overlooked.

The 5 Steps to Get There

Planning and executing a global Social Media Strategy for an international target audience is very similar to planning and executing a Social Media Strategy for a local audience.

There are 5 steps to follow before joining any international social media network (with a few points to consider along the way):


  1. Select your target country and target audience.

    Points to Consider:

    • What language will you communicate in?

      Targeting countries that speak English will be easier, but don't dismiss countries that speak a foreign language just for that reason. There are many translation services that can be used, such as Google Translate, or see it as an opportunity to learn a new language.

    • What cultural differences should you be aware of?

      The last thing you want to do is offend your audience, so take the time to learn what is acceptable, and what is not. You don't want to get caught out giving the O.K sign when it doesn't mean O.K in a different language.

  2. Identify and join the networks used most frequently by that target audience.

    Points to Consider:

    • How does the audience use a particular social media platform?

      Take the time to learn how your selected audience use and connect on their preferred platform. For example, is it professionals networking, is it a forum style platform, or is it used like Facebook?

    • Individual or combined social media accounts?

      Think about whether you will make one account and post all content from it or make different local accounts for each country you are targeting. It might help to hire a social media manager who will be able to keep track of multiple accounts and respond to queries on all of them.

  3. Create and share content that appeals to that target audience.

    Points to Consider:

    • Individual or shared content?

      Different audiences will respond to different content. You can maintain consistency by sharing the same content across audiences, but ideally, create content that is tailored for your individual audience tastes.

  4. Engage and communicate with the target audience regularly.

    Points to Consider:

    • How will you manage the different time zones?

      Social Media requires interaction - joining conversations, replying to comments, and reacting to situations as they unfold. How will you business manage these events outside of opening hours?

  5. Measure progress. Refine and repeat.

    Points to Consider:

    • How will you measure progress?

      Just as you are tracking and measuring your progress on local social media platforms, how will you manage your key performance indicators on other social platforms?

You could combine several countries into one strategy and target a shared audience; or you could have individual strategies for each country, allowing you to target individual audiences with greater focus.

Get Out There, Be Seen, Say Hello

While creating a presence on social media networks in other countries might not result in direct sales immediately, it will create brand recognition and allow you to build reputation in new markets.

Be seen enough, and before too long, people will start to consider your products and services in their buying decisions.

You might not think that your product will sell in other countries, but it could just as easily become the next must-have craze that your local customers didn't catch on to.



Further Resources:



Are you planning to go social in other countries? Share your strategy tips with us on the iASP Central Facebook Page, or Get in Touch.


6 Good Reasons Why You Should Be Thinking "Mobile First"

6 Good Reasons Why You Should Be Thinking "Mobile First"

6 Good Reasons Why You Should Be Thinking Mobile First

Almost everyone would agree that mobile is the current focus for the Web, even Google holds a "mobile first" mantra for their products and services. Even still, the websites of numerous large companies are not taking advantage of rapidly growing mobile consumer market.

The team at Voucher Cloud have put together a Portrait of a Mobile Consumer; an infographic that highlights the current status of the mobile consumer market, and, once again, it gave some compelling statistics that took even us by surprise.

If your website isn't mobile friendly, here are 6 good reasons why you should be thinking "mobile first":

  1. It is estimated that there will be 8.2 billion hand-held mobile devices by 2018. The estimate for the global population in 2018 is only 7.4 billion.
  2. Within the next 3 years, m-Commerce sales are predicted to hit $626 billion, which is just shy of the 2013 e-Commerce sales total of $638 billion.
  3. 90% of consumers are already using their smart-phones for pre-shopping activities, such as to find directions to and the opening hours of a business.
  4. More than 50% of Amazon customers completed a purchase on a mobile device in the last fiscal quarter of 2013.
  5. Near Field Communication ready point-of-sale checkout terminals are expected to increase to 44.6 million within the next 2 years. I.E. Check-out/Pay via your smart-phone.
  6. Retailers are starting to use mobile-devices to create interactive in-store experiences, pairing the smart-phones with contact-less technologies such as Near Field Communication (BlueTooth for example) or QR Codes. So far, real-world examples are offering vouchers or membership benefits, but the possibilities are endless.

If you need to move your business on-line, or you want to make your website mobile friendly, Get in Touch for a FREE demonstration.

View the Infographic: Portrait of a Mobile Consumer

More Information: Portrait of a Mobile Consumer - An infographic by the team at vouchercloud.

Got an opinion? What was your reaction to the statistics put forward in the infographic? Share on the iASP Central Facebook Page, or Get in Touch.


9 Fantastic On-line Promotional Tips

9 Fantastic On-line Promotional Tips

9 Fantastic On-line Promotional Tips

So you have an awesome shipping policy and a killer returns policy ready to go, now it's time to move to the next area of eStore brilliance - On-line Promotions.

There are countless types of promotions...new stock arrivals, VIP benefits, seasonal clearances...promotions are an age-old tool designed to encourage customers to buy.

Promotions can be used to satisfy one of the fundamentals of great sales and marketing: fear of loss, which is arguably even more powerful and important in the fickle e-commerce world.

Great promotions are not just about discounts. Be creative. Promotions could be in the form of a bonus (free shipping), a "buy this get that" or a free sample. The key is to offer real value and incentive for customers to buy and to buy more and to buy NOW.

So, after much careful consideration, here's the 9 fantastic promotional tips that made the list.

HCD's Top 9 Tips for Fantastic On-line Promotions:

  1. Have at least one promotion running at all times. The only time you shouldn't have a promotion, is when you have nothing to sell
  2. Don't be predictable. Alternate the terms, length and other parameters to keep your customers guessing (and find what works best)
  3. Repeat successful promotions regularly and ditch the less successful ones
  4. Have at least one regular annual "Event", a promotion that customers can expect and anticipate. Make it HUGE
  5. Spread your promotions across your entire product range and target all your customer demographics
  6. Target customers who have purchased products with special promotional incentives on related products
  7. Align your physical store promotions with your on-line promotions
  8. Be aware of your competitors promotional activities and where possible out promote them or meet them head on
  9. Include post-sale promotions within orders shipped to customers. A thank you letter with a unique promotion code is a proven sales champion

Join the Conversation - Do you agree with our top 9? Perhaps you have your own tips for on-line promotions that you would like to share? Leave us a comment on the iASP Central Facebook Page, or Get in Touch.


On-line Resources:

The #1 reason in-store-only shoppers refuse to buy online.

The #1 reason in-store-only shoppers refuse to buy online.

The #1 reason in-store-only shoppers refuse to buy online.

The #1 reason* that in-store-only shoppers refuse to buy online is the Returns Process.

If you think that's a powerful statistic, consider this: 89% of customers say they'll shop again at a store after a positive returns experience*.

We recently looked at how shipping policies can be used to improve online sales performance and customer satisfaction in our article 4 Awesome Shipping Tactics. Here we re-visit the randomly selected websites analysed in that article to look at their returns policies.

All policies we reviewed specify that items must be returned in perfect / as new condition, with tags, and in the original packaging; unless mentioned otherwise.

Target customers can return online purchases in-store, or by post, within 28 days of purchase. Returns by post require a returns form to be downloaded, completed and included with the item in a parcel. Target include an eParcel slip with orders which the customer can take to any Australia Post office. It isn't clear, but it appears Target pay the fee associated with returning the item unless they need to send it back again.

HCD Note: Allowing up to 28 days to return an item, and providing an eParcel slip with their orders to allow for easy returns is great, but their returns policy itself still left us puzzled.

Myer recommends customers use the FREE option of in-store returns. If the customer chooses to return the item by post, they must contact Myer for returns details. The customer must cover the cost of postage, and returns must be made within 30 days of purchase.

HCD Note: Myer, did you know the #1 reason in-store-only shoppers refuse to shop online is the returns process? Now you do!. 

The Iconic allows returns within 100 days of purchase, and customers can print off a shipping label for the package. The Iconic pays for the cost of returning the item, plus, customers can choose to receive a refund, an exchange, or 110%(!!!) store credit(!!!).

HCD Note: If you couldn't tell by the (!!!), again we are impressed with The Iconic eStore. Full marks, plus 10 bonus points for a cleverly structured policy page in the form of an FAQ. If this policy doesn't make a customer happy, they never will be.

That Online Shop allow returns within 14 days of purchase. The customer must contact That Online Shop to receive a returns form and instructions.

HCD Note: A stock standard returns policy. We get the no-capitals style the website is going for, but it does make reading the returns policy difficult. Compare this to The Iconic and think which is more likely to capture that 89% of return business following a "positive" returns experience.

PS: Sad to see the shopping cart layout is still broken on That Online Shop. We did contact them last week in case they weren't aware. No thanks was necessary - or forthcoming!

Oxfam Shop clearly states that return postage is free within Australia, and items can be returned 35 days after purchase. There are some items that cannot be returned however, such as food items.

HCD Note: Perfect! Very clear and simply written policy. More than enough time to receive, try and decide to return an item, and free return postage. Items that can't be returned are clearly listed.

The T2 Tea returns policy is a little unclear. The website allows returns to be made within 30 days of purchase, but it is unclear whether the customer can just send the item back, or if they need to contact the website first.

HCD Note: Probably the worst example we reviewed, not only is the returns policy a small paragraph at the bottom of the Terms page, it provides no information other than they will meet their legal obligations. We recommend doing the opposite of this example.

The Results:  The only common trait in the returns policies of the reviewed websites, is that items must be returned in near-new condition, unused and with the original packaging. Beyond that, the policies are very varied. All meet their state and national legal obligations, and it is about 50-50 in regards to whether the store covers the costs of returning the item, or whether the customer does. Even the time period to return an item varies widely between 14 days and 100 days.

HCD Tactics: Be reasonable, and realistic, with the aim of making the majority of returns a positive, hassle-free experience for the customer. Conversion is the main goal, so if your competitors are offering free returns, then you should too, or reduce the costs as much as possible. Make your returns policy clear and concise, and make the returns process as convenient as possible for the customer. Provide a returns label if possible. Lastly, look for ways to eliminate the need for returns through the store-front, by providing more than enough information about the product that the customer will need, such as sizing charts, extra-large images, product reviews and demonstration videos.

For more information about returns policies, we recommend the following reading:

* Statistics from Entrepreneur's infographic What Consumers Want from Returns and Why it Matters.


[HCD Review]: 4 Awesome Shipping Tactics

[HCD Review]: 4 Awesome Shipping Tactics

[HCD Review]: 4 Awesome Shipping Tactics

With 59%* of shoppers saying they consider shipping costs when purchasing on-line, and 44%* abandoning their cart due to high shipping costs, determining what to charge for delivery just might be the second most important decision that an eStore will ever make (after deciding to launch in the first place).


Here's our 4 awesome shipping tactics:

  1. Keep it Simple: Flat fees are best
  2. Offer Incentives: Offering free or discounted shipping based on minimum order totals is a proven tactic
  3. Be competitive: Know your opposition and respect your customers - they'll know if you're gouging them
  4. Use a disclaimer: Reserve the right to re-negotiate shipping costs post-order if necessary

We all know it ACTUALLY COSTS money to ship orders, but with customers voting with their wallets, what is the Goldilocks amount to charge for delivery?

To help you decide, we reviewed some Australian eStores to see what they are doing... (Note: HCD has no affiliation with any of the businesses reviewed. We have chosen websites randomly. All amounts are in Australian Dollars).

Target charges $9.00 for delivery of small orders under $75.00, or free shipping for small orders over $75.00. Their delivery charge for large items is $15.00, or $30.00 for 3 or more large items. Target also offer a "Click and Collect" option, which allows the customer to pick up their order from selected Target stores depending on the items in the order. This option is free for orders over $40.00 or $5.00 for orders under $40.00. 

HCD Note:A $5.00 administration fee to collect a pre-paid order in-store...really?

Myer offers standard delivery for $9.95 for orders under $100, and free delivery on orders $100 and over, except for Goods that require Special Delivery. There is also the option to pick up the order from selected Myer stores dependant upon the items in the order, which doesn't have an additional fee.

HCD Note: 5 Stars from us Myer - Target take notice!

The Iconic offers a few choices. Customers can pick up their order from a Parcel Point for free, which is useful if you are living in a major city. Otherwise, the cost for shipping by Australia Post is $7.95 anywhere in Australia. Free overnight shipping is available for orders over $50.00. For an extra $2.00, delivery is available within 3 hours to metro areas in Sydney or Melbourne.

HCD Note: We love the express options and with a low $50.00 threshold for free delivery, this is about as good as it gets.

That Online Shop offer free delivery for orders over $100.00, otherwise they charge $7.00 per item for standard delivery or $15.00 flat for express delivery. They also provide free gift wrapping with a gift tag. The terms specify that a surcharge may apply if delivery is to a non metropolitan postcode and the item is bulky or fragile, dependant on the excess charges applied by the courier. Delivery is available to international addresses at the rate of $40.00 to NZ, USA, UK or Asia, unless the items are over 2kg, where shipping costs are negotiated personally with the customer.

HCD Note: Full marks for the free gift wrapping and gift tag, and the incentive to make a minimum $100.00 purchase or select express shipping is commendable. Alas, $40.00 for international shipping for orders less than 2Kg may discourage many overseas customers from purchasing, and, as there are no weights included with any product details, customers have no way of knowing whether or not they have exceeded the 2Kg limit.
Sadly, we experienced technical problems on subsequent visits to this site, which we have pointed out to the website operators. This highlights the importance of technology that works.  

Oxfam Shop has a different approach to delivery fees. They have set shipping fees at 15% of the order total, limited to $7.00 minimum and $17.00 maximum, or $25.00 for express delivery. They also specify that large items may incur a delivery surcharge. Oxfam offer international delivery too, which is 15% of the order total, set between $40.00 and $100.00.

HCD Note: At first glance we weren't sure about this approach, however, the actual delivery costs are reasonable. Our recommendations would be to offer free shipping once the order total exceeded a nominal amount.

The T2 Tea on-line store have set delivery fees to $10.00 flat rate for standard delivery, and $20.00 flat for express delivery. Orders over $60.00 are shipped free within Australia. International orders have a different set of fees which change dependant upon the order total.

HCD Note: Full marks - but remember - this website does not need to factor oversize or bulky orders, in which case, a disclaimer would be strongly recommended.


Summary
While there are variations, the current trend for delivery fees is a flat rate ranging between $10.00 and $20.00 with an offer of free shipping for more expensive orders of around $100.00.

Remember, customers shop around to get the lowest price possible, which includes the delivery fees. Customers will justify buying an item that is a few dollars more than on another website, if the total including shipping still ends up being cheaper. Having a flat fee also makes the process a lot easier. Customers know up front what they can expect the shipping costs to be.

HCD Tactic: Review the cost of sending an average order to each of the major cities in Australia through your preferred courier(s).

Set flat fees that cover most bases while remaining in line with your competitors. Aim for a delivery fee of $10.00 - $20.00 for orders within Australia and encourage customers to spend more by setting a free shipping threshold amount.

HCD Tactic: If you find you simply can't compete with shipping costs offered by your competitors, consider investigating out how they do it...do they have a better deal with a courier or lower cost packaging and warehousing costs?  

HCD Tactic: Where necessary, use a disclaimer to reserve the right to adjust shipping costs (after the original order is placed) for oversize or bulky orders, or orders being shipped to remote or otherwise difficult delivery areas.

HCD delivers enterprise e-commerce and mobile commerce solutions to customers serious about maximising return on investment. Our proprietary technology caters for just about any shipping configuration imaginable. For more information please contact us for a confidential discussion.

* Statistics from VoucherCloud's infographic Consumer Psychology and the E-Commerce Checkout.


10 Top Words of Wisdom from Successful e-Commerce Businesses

10 Top Words of Wisdom from Successful e-Commerce Businesses

10 Top Words of Wisdom from Successful e-Commerce Businesses

The phrase e-Commerce was first coined in 1998, but by then conducting commerce on the Web was already well established.

HCD Trivia: In 1998 HCD's founding partners Chris and Tony were Directors in Canberra based Internet Service Provider ACTweb - which was acquired by WebOne, which was then acquired by IINET. The ACTweb domain name www.actweb.net still resolves to the IINET website..

As the Web turns 21 this year, while surprisingly some still consider it a new science, last year e-commerce in Australia grew to almost 40 Billion dollars. 

At HCD, we believe if you are involved in certain industries such as consumer based retail and if e-commerce is not a core part of your competitive strategy your mid to long term survival is in jeopardy.

Successful entry into e-Commerce can be daunting, but the rewards and potential returns are high.

We are proud of the fact that many HCD clients are using the technologies and strategies we provide to deliver a great online experience to their customers and grow their business, but it's also true to say that we see some businesses struggle with their approach to e-Commerce.

HCD Tactic: The same fundamentals of "real-world" retail apply online. You need to attract new customers, give them a great experience and incentive to return.

Leading online shopping cart provider #Shopify put together a list of advice and observations from successful online entrepreneurs. 

Here's our top 10 from that list:

  1. Define your desired customers by what their interests are, what motivates them to purchase, what they like and who they want to be. If you design your storefront and products to meet all of their needs and stay true to that brand, your company will be the first thing they think of when they are ready to make a purchase. - Caydi and Alex Zerega, Fit Little Bride.
  2. When engaging with customers, do things early on that don't scale. Write little personal notes on packages. Say hi to them on Twitter. Invite local customers to come check out your shop. - Bill Trammel, Catan Boards.
  3. As a general rule, we only work with nice people. We try to treat our customers the way we want to be treated and make every interaction a positive one. - Mariquel Waingarten, Hickies.
  4. It's not an essential key to a successful business but it does help that you are immersed in the lifestyle of it. - Steve Watts, Slyde Handboards.
  5. Find a way to be genuine. There is so much noise out there and consumers are savvier than ever - you have to really believe in your product and have an honest commitment to your customers to find a message that resonates. - Kishore Hiranand, Lookmatic Eyeware.
  6. If you try to make everything as perfect as you can it's really going to show in your end product. - Chris Tsang, Mindzai.
  7. Make sure you have something awesome that your friends want. If your friends don't want it, then somebody else better want it, otherwise, it's not worth doing. - Mike Krilivsky, Rage On.
  8. We have found that an online store is not so different from our physical boutiques and that there is now a blending of service. - Gail Elliott, Little Joe Women.
  9. By using high-class photography, we are able to evoke the color and texture of our fudge so that we can invite online shoppers into our kitchen, the heart of our business. - Giancarlo Di Sotto, The Fudge House.
  10. People hate to wait for their purchases and they want to know where their items are, all the time. Pay a little more for a good shipping partner, because it will pay off in the future. - Diogo Cruz, Vertty.
If you're publishing an e-commerce website and have anything to add, please let us know or to discuss getting your business online  or improving your current e-commerce performance Get in Touch.

QR Codes Explained - 8 Do's and Don'ts

QR Codes Explained - 8 Do's and Don'ts

QR Codes Explained - 8 Do's and Don'ts

There have been many articles recently that suggest the only time to use a QR Code is Never. 

When used correctly (read appropriately), QR Codes can be an highly effective method of linking offline with on-line.

QR Codes (Quick Response Codes), are a 2-D barcode invented in Japan in 1994 to provide a means of storing more information in barcodes than the standard 1-D vertical lined barcode. Originally used in vehicle manufacturing plants as a method of tracking parts from delivery to installation, thanks to the fact SmartPhones can be used to scan QR Codes, they quickly spread into other industries, particularly marketing and advertising.

A fantastic example of QR Codes being used effectively is by a wildlife refuge in the US displaying QR Codes on posts along a walking trail to instantly direct visitors to a website with information about local flora and fauna along the trail. Perfect! The codes deliver convenience and something of value.

HCD Tactic: Be selective about where you place a QR Code, and what the destination will deliver.

So here's our 8 Do's and Don'ts for using QR Codes:

  1. Placement : Don't put a QR Code on a billboard. It's way too hard scan!
  2. Placement : Do put a QR Code on a poster in a bus shelter. You have a captive audience in easy reach.
  3. Content : Don't put a QR Code on a poster relating to personal or sensitive issues such as health disorders. No one wants to be seen accessing that information in public. In this case it's much better to include a website address or phone number that can be actioned without having to scan the message for all the world to see.
  4. Content : Do use QR Codes on a poster advertising your non personal or sensitive products and services. Customer sees product, likes product, gets taken directly to buying the product.
  5. Placement : Don't put a QR Code on a poster in a toilet. Hands are too busy with other things (or they should be!)
  6. Placement : Do put a QR Code in a press advertisement linking directly to the page on your website where customers can buy the product you are advertising. Customer gets an instant result. Their original activity (reading the paper) isn't interrupted.
  7. Incentive : Don't just link a QR Code to the same information they can already see alongside the Code. Give the visitor a reward for their effort - like a "QR Code Discount or Bonus". 
  8. Incentive : Do use a QR Code to enter visitors into your latest competition.  

Remember, QR Codes have practically unlimited uses, but the majority of them just don't fit with audience's habits and expectations. Use them wisely, and you can create positive associations with your audience and build positive results.

You can find several free and subscription (which provide tracking services) based QR Code creation tools on the Internet with a simple search for 'QR Code generator'. Free generators allow you to create static QR Codes quickly, while the subscription based providers include additional features such as customisation and dynamic QR Codes (allowing you to change the information in the code without needing to update/reprint the code) and code tracking data.

For more information about the QR Code, visit the Denso Wave QR Code website.


4 Essentials for Planning Videos

4 Essentials for Planning Videos

4 Essentials for Planning Videos

Last month we explained that half of all online customers had more confidence in products after watching a video, and a third bought the product after being influenced by the video. Pretty good reasons to incorporate video into your online shop!

Everyone with a Smartphone or Tablet has a video camera, but like all online content, if it isn't engaging it will just be ignored.

Here's our 4 essential tips to plan videos that will engage and inform your customers effectively...
  1. Know your purpose - Why are you making this video? Are you showcasing your products? Providing instructions to help customers? Maybe something more creative?
  2. Know your audience - Tailor your language and content to your audience. Will they understand technical terms? Do they expect/need to see a full product demonstration? Do they want to hear about the manufacturing process?
  3. Where will you publish? - Youtube is King, but there are other video platforms. Will you publish your videos exclusively on your website? Will you broadcast over many different websites?
  4. Measuring your Results - How will you measure success? The total number of views? How many times your video is shared? Sales generated by your video? What tools will you use?

Consider our 4 essentials when planning videos to enhance your online store...and who knows, you just might create the next viral video sensation!

(Image by NewsbiePix.)


33 Things We All HATE About Carts

33 Things We All HATE About Carts

33 Things We All HATE About Carts

A group called VoucherCloud sent us an infographic of statistics about US consumers and their online habits. While some points came as no surprise, there were still things that made us go 'Hmm'.

Like did you know that a judgement to buy your product (or not) is made in just 90 seconds! That's faster than your Aunty Denise on Boxing Day!!

Tell us what you think about the stats in this infographic. Does it change the way you look at your online customers?

View the Infographic: Consumer Psychology and the E-Commerce Checkout

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




Personalising the e-commerce Experience

Personalising the e-commerce Experience

Personalising the e-commerce Experience
As a leading provider of e-commerce solutions for more than a decade, we're always striving to meet demands for new functionality that satisfies the current and future requirements of the hundreds of clients using our iASP shopping cart and the hundreds of thousands of customers who in turn purchase goods and services via desktop and mobile devices using our technology.

To that end we are pleased to announce the release of new advanced adjustment and shipping rules that now allow for practically any adjustment imaginable at the checkout based on any combination of individual customer attributes, product attributes or transaction attributes.

For example, a vendor can now offer 50% off shipping to customers named Paul who purchase XXL Blue T-shirts on Tuesdays between 4:00pm and 5:00pm!

In the lead up to Christmas we're releasing more exciting new e-commerce functions, so please watch this space!

Why do customers leave without saying goodbye?

Why do customers leave without saying goodbye?

Why do customers leave without saying goodbye?

It was fun while it lasted...

I talk to businesses worrying about customers posting negative feedback, but a customer can do something far worse: Leave, without even saying goodbye!

Don't rely on customer feedback to highlight problems...in reality customers are more likely to just move on if they encounter barriers to your offerings.

Case in point: A client recently created a promotion-code based offer on Facebook.

Plenty of followers claimed the offer, but no sales resulted...on investigation the code wasn't set-up properly, but nobody complained...they just didn't buy anything!

Tactic: There is a second powerful lesson here...many online systems behave differently according to login status: be sure to test everything is functioning properly from your customers perspective... on this later...