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[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.


3 Hassle Free Tactics To Keep Your Website Content Fresh

3 Hassle Free Tactics To Keep Your Website Content Fresh

3 Hassle Free Tactics To Keep Your Website Content Fresh

In our recent article - Google Panda Goes Kung Fu On Your Website - we pointed out that Google is giving website owners a nudge to update and refresh their published content. With that in mind here's our top 3 hassle free tactics for keeping your content fresher for longer.

1: Regularly update the key message on your homepage.
It does not have to be a major re-write every time, but regularly (at least once a month) edit the primary message on your home page.
Remember, it's all about engagement, so consider including a topical or seasonal message of relevance to your audience. You might mention the season and how it relates to your business e.g. "Winter is a great time for one of our famous Irish Coffees sitting by the fire" or "With Easter fast approaching it's the perfect time to book our free vehicle safety check" or "Don't forget, your next BAS Statement is due on June 21st".

HCD Tactic: If your website allows inclusion of some sort of main image such as a banner on your homepage it is highly recommended you invest in updating this image regularly - at least several times each year. If you have a scrolling banner function you will get away with the same images in rotation for longer, and you might further extend the shelf life by swapping around the default starting image and the rotation order of the images.

2: Should you include the Date Published / Updated in your website content?
When it comes to newspapers, topical content that was news yesterday is old news today. When it comes to some areas of corporate website content there's a longer shelf life - for example your "About Us" page might only change when you have staff or other significant organisational changes and your "Product Descriptions" may also remain relevant indefinitely. In these cases you should never include the date published. Alternatively, if you publish news or a blog and write regular articles (at least one per month), then you should always include the publish date. 


HCD Tactic:
If you are not writing at least one news / blog article per month you should consider removing the news / blog altogether or at least removing the date published from articles (which is not ideal) - better still, increase the frequency you publish articles to at least one per month.

3: Recycle your content.
You can save time by publishing / archiving / re-publishing content. Be sure to give the content the once over before re-publishing to be certain it is still relevant and accurate. Re-writing the headline and the opening lines will be enough to attract a new audience.

HCD Tactic: Publishing a new image with recycled content is a great way to refresh it.

If you've got anything further to add we welcome your comments, or if you are struggling with your website content, HCD may be able to help. Please feel free to get in touch.


Google Panda Goes Kung-Fu On Your Website

Google Panda Goes Kung-Fu On Your Website

Google Panda Goes Kung-Fu On Your Website

The big news in the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) world is the recent release of Google Panda 4.0. If you're looking for this new app in your Google+ account, don't bother, Google Panda is one of Google's many algorithms that determine their search result rankings.

While done in the name of fairness, Panda 4.0, like many of Google's modifications, has resulted in wide-ranging change to positioning within Google search results. It even caught some of our clients in the net.

For the uninitiated, Google is now targeting websites publishing copied content or poor quality content more aggressively than ever. Panda 4.0 encourages publication of fresh, unique, user-friendly content.

The primary target: websites that 'scrape' content from other websites for publication on their own. 

This will challenge operators engaging in questionable content practices, however, it seems at the same time legitimate operators are also being penalised.

For example, consider accommodation portals such as Wotif and Expedia. Individual Accommodation providers using these platforms provide the content themselves, which in our experience is typically fed directly from their own website.

Should parties engaging in this type of practice be penalised by Google? Does Google expect the Accommodation provider to write a unique description for every Accommodation portal it advertises with?  

Only Google can answer these questions.

So what do the new changes mean for your website, and what can you do if you've been "hit"?

Google's own suggestion is "If you believe you've been impacted by this change you should evaluate all the content on your site and do your best to improve the overall quality of the pages on your domain. Removing low quality pages or moving them to a different domain could help your rankings for the higher quality content."

HCD Tactic: Go through your content and give it a good spring clean. Rewrite your old content, remove duplicate content, and add new content that brings life back to your website.

Considering that SEO tactics at the moment consider the entire user experience, such as website navigation and having an intuitive website structure, mobile optimisation, and user-friendly content and metadata, it might also be time for a redesign or rebuild of your website.

No doubt, Google is being inundated with enquiries from businesses and website owners who have been penalised over the last fortnight, asking why they have dropped down the search results and what they can do to fix it.

If you think your website has been penalised unfairly, you can contact Google and ask them to restore your rankings.

We've compiled 5 useful sources for more information about the latest Google Panda release, and advice about what you can do to recover:

  1. Google Panda Update
  2. Google Panda Tips
  3. Google Panda Update Survival Guide
  4. High Quality Web Sites - The New Google Ranking Factor
  5. How to run blogs that inspire

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.

To e-Mail or not to e-Mail?

To e-Mail or not to e-Mail?

To e-Mail or not to e-Mail?

There's no solid formula for how often to send e-mail marketing campaigns, but here's our guide for optimum message frequency:

  • e-Mail Daily

    Generally speaking a "marketing no no" unless of course your audience explicitly understands they are subscribing to "Daily Deals" or "Daily Tips" etc.

  • e-Mail Weekly

    Weekly e-mail is great for promoting "weekly specials" from high volume retailers and "what's on" from hospitality providers.
    But remember - this is more than 50 direct intrusions into your subscribers lives each year so be very sure you have something new and worthwhile to say each time.

  • e-Mail Monthly to Quarterly

    This is where most professional service providers, business to business providers and the majority of businesses should probably lie.
    Sending marketing messages with this lower frequency keeps your brand in your subscribers minds without over-stepping and should allow you enough time to generate content that sparks real interest from your audience.

  • e-Mail Infrequently

    If you haven't got anything interesting to say - say nothing.
    Send marketing messages only when you've got something of real interest to pass on - a new product launch, a change of key staff, your Christmas trading...sending messages for the sake of sending messages is probably the worst thing you can do.

  • Hub Communications Tactic

    You might consider allowing your Subscribers more control over the messages they receive by offering multiple "areas" or "topics of interest".
    Indicate how regularly messages relating to each area or topic are typically sent i.e. "weekly specials" or "monthly industry news" and let subscribers opt-in (and opt-out) as they wish.

In summary, every business is different, finding the right balance requires testing and measuring... but getting it right can be well worth the effort!