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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.