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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.