Before You Get StartedEven as you plan to set up your very own subscription box website, it is necessary to analyse the factors that make these mega-conglomerates like Birchbox, Dollar Shave Club, Ipsy, Loot Crate, and more tick.Granted, each has its own business model and marketing strategies, however, all of them have a common growth process that becomes the foundation of their success.Here is a brief overview of the best features of some popular subscription box websites:
- Focus on a niche market
- Flexible subscriptions, ranging from low-cost to high-range packages
- A beautiful Display
- Comprehensive product information
- Contact forms for customers to fill up their preferences and add User Profiles
- A specific target audience
- Fast and secure payment gateways
- No mandatory contracts or product purchases
- Distinct Subscription and Shop interfaces
- Attractive offers and discounts to encourage user engagement
Creating a Subscription Box Website on WordPressThe plethora of plugins available for integrating various functionalities into your website make it relatively easy to create a subscription box website using WordPress.Nevertheless, there are two distinct ways for the same:
#1 Opting for a Full-Fledged Subscription Box Setup PluginA complete solution for creating a subscription box website is offered by plugins like Subscription Boxer. Once installed, the plugin creates the basic setup for your boxes, content, subscriptions, payment gateways, and more. Subscription Boxer has additional, responsive themes that can be separately purchased.The main features of the plugin include:
- Customizable Product Boxes
- Creation of Multiple Subscription Tiers
- Three Payment Gateways (PayPal, Authorize.net, and Chargify)
- Integrated Photo Gallery for Image Display
- Customizable Themes
- Lite – $99.99 for a Lifetime license for 1 site (theme not included)
- Startup – $199.99 for a Lifetime license for 1 site (theme included)
- Full – $499.99 for a Lifetime license for 5 sites (theme included)
#2 The WordPress + WooCommerce ApproachThe WordPress and WooCommerce method gives you far more flexibility to design and build your subscription box website. Depending on the niche market you choose, you can create a separate shop for the products you plan to sell on your website and add a link to it on the subscriptions website.With this in mind, we shall segment the website into two parts for convenience’s sake: the Subscriptions website and the Shop.
The Subscriptions websiteThis is the core of your subscription box enterprise. On this part of your website, the people can sign-up for monthly boxes of your product. For example, consider you are planning to start a confectionery subscription box service that will send out boxes on a fortnightly basis. Let us see how such a website can be built.
WordPress + WooCommerceAs we have seen previously, WordPress is the basic CMS platform we are using. As we are planning to sell subscription boxes with physical goods here, we opt for the most popular e-commerce platform, WooCommerce. A robust framework, plenty of extensible add-ons, and a number of options to set up an e-commerce shop make WooCommerce the best fit for our enterprise.
Adding a ThemeWordPress has a vast portfolio of WooCommerce-compatible themes to choose from, both free and paid. However, when you select a theme specifically from the point of view of a subscription box website, there as some specific angles you need to address.Ask yourself these questions while choosing the theme:
- Is the theme responsive?
- Does it highlight my boxes in the best possible light?
- Is the display customizable?
- Can I incorporate additional elements, like a Slider bar, or a picture gallery here?
Adding a Subscription Plugin: WooCommerce SubscriptionsThen follows the most important part for this half of the website; adding a subscriptions plugin. A subscription plugin integrates all the features you require for managing recurring payments from subscribers and setting up flexible billing schemes for them to choose from.Here you can consider the WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin for the job. An advantage of using a popular plugin like WooCommerce Subscriptions, is that you can avail several setup plans offered to get your website ready in no time!The WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin gives you access to a full-fledged set of features that let you create periodic billing schedules, add trial periods for customers, let users manage their subscriptions at the front-end and more. The plugin also incorporates built-in email notifications that can be sent to users reminding them if their payment is due, or informing them of special offers and discounts they are entitled to.Customers can opt to upgrade their plans in the middle of a billing schedule and purchase subscriptions to different boxes in one transaction. This makes tracking of sales extremely easy, as does the detailed sales analysis you receive at the end of every month, informing you about the rise/decrease in your subscriptions. The plugin has 25 integrated payment gateways, so no external payment gateway incorporation is required.WooCommerce Subscriptions is priced at $199 for 1 site, with support and updates for one year. The license can be renewed at a discounted price for the consecutive years.
Adding Coupons and DiscountsWooCommerce has an in-built interface for adding coupons codes, so you need not install a different plugin for that functionality. To add a Coupon Code, all you have to do is go to WooCommerce -> Coupons -> Add Coupon. Here you can specify the discount type and amount (whether it is a percentage discount or a reduction in the price), make any other changes necessary and hit Publish.
Creating Marketing CampaignsMarketing your subscription box store takes place in two stages (pre-launch and post-launch) and via two channels (on-website and off-website). It is a good idea to start creating a buzz about your product before the website is even launched. You know your target audience, you know how your product satisfies their need, start capitalizing on it. If your subscription box pushes all the right buttons, pre-launch marketing can even help you raise some capital before you ship your boxes.Post-launch you can aggressively push your beta subscribers towards more permanent memberships, and of course start targeting a wider audience.Speaking of the channels for marketing, the on-website marketing methods include coupons and discounts which we have already discussed. Off-website marketing is more interesting. There are plenty of avenues that can be used today to capture customers’ interest. Social media, email marketing, newsletters, you name it.To avail of these, you can integrate your website with social media platforms and regularly update posts with information about the developments on your website. For email marketing, consider any one mass email sending and management plugins out of the many available.
Adding a BlogOne of the best ways of showing your expertise in the field to your subscribers is via a blog. Several biggies of the subscription box industry maintain their blogs as much as they do their website, and why not?Your blog gives you an opportunity to expand on the various tips you might want to offer your subscribers, post user experiences, and publish notes about developments and updates. The blog is what adds a personal touch to the otherwise potentially sterile website; and blogs are WordPress’s specialty.
Integrating Contact FormsNo matter how self-explanatory your website is, your customers are going to have queries. To this end, it is necessary to incorporate a contact form into your website, which lets users get in touch with you easily and quickly. It is a good idea to embed these forms in easily accessible locations for ease of use of the customer.WordPress has a multitude of contact form plugins, including Contact Form 7, Gravity Forms, Ninja Forms, WPForms, Pirate Forms, and more. Each of these has varying degrees of customization possible and requires varying degrees of technical expertise.
Adding Surveys and ProfilesSurveys and user profiles come in handy by helping you get to know your customer’s reactions after receiving the subscription boxes and can customize their next box accordingly, so that they won’t ever be disappointed.WordPress has some amazing integrations like BuddyPress, which lets you create social profiles of all your subscribers where they can entire their likes, dislikes, preferences, and more which can then be used to create semi-personalized boxes. To conduct surveys, you can consider survey plugins like FSQM Pro or Modal Surveys.
Adding Vendors and AssociatesNetworking is an integral part of running a subscription box website. You need to constantly interact with vendors, investors, and all related functionaries to keep procuring products for your subscription boxes. This is where a plugin like AffiliateWP is useful. The plugin lets you track all your contacts, referrals, and earning in real-time.This completes the list of features that you require to build a comprehensive subscription box website. As you can see, building the website with WordPress gives you a significant amount of freedom in experimenting with the website.
Setting up ShopThe second part of the website, i.e. the Shop can be built like any other WooCommerce store, adding products and prices to your pages. This is where your subscribers will be coming to purchase full-sized products after they have sampled them in your subscription box. Similar to what we discussed for the subscription website, a few things you need to ensure that your e-store has are:
- A Responsive Display
- A Vibrant Picture Gallery
- Comprehensive Content about your Products
- Mobile App Integration
- Secure Payment Gateways
#1 Artificial IntelligenceIn 2017, machine-generated content will evolve under the label of artificial intelligence. AI could take several avatars as it enters the realm of e-commerce content marketing and extends its reach to include automated translation, perhaps foretelling what to write about and offering personalized content experiences.
#2 Contextual ShoppingHere’s one new trend that can go miles this year. This new trend is all about e-commerce platforms tracking how much of a product you have used already and remind you to place an order for the next pack when the present one’s almost finishing. If you do this on Amazon, for instance, all you would do is to press a button to place an order and it is immediately charged to your card that you have set up with them earlier. This convenience can be taken a little forward with shopping sites being able to send you reminders to refill and offers on products that you use regularly.
#3 Increasing Use of Mobile PhonesSearches on mobile phones are more the order of the day than desktops. In 2017, shoppers will prefer to shop online by making just a click to buy. By taking advantage of the fact that people always have their smartphones with them rather than a tablet, the trend to shop more online will grow this year.
#4 Perfect Shopping ExperienceWhen social media networks are used as platforms for e-commerce transactions, the result is social commerce. In 2017, one trend that will become easily apparent is that social commerce will be on the rise because they will help offline shoppers have the same experience as when they shopped at brick and mortar stores. Brands that come with emotional value will have more loyal shoppers and enjoy more revenue earnings. In turn, such consumers will unknowingly become the brand ambassadors of such products.
#5 Easier ReturnsIn 2017, stores’ return policies will be quick, convenient and zero-hassle. This is a trend to look out for because if a store doesn’t offer these conveniences, shoppers will turn away and go to other shopping sites.If you shop on large sites like Amazon with huge options in each category, making a sale here would be easy because the products here are unique and consumer confidence is high. In this context, if such sites make it difficult for people to return products, shoppers will just turn away from here and shop at sites where the return policy is easy and convenient. Besides, by ensuring easy and quick returns, sites increase their revenue because shoppers spend more confidently, knowing that they can return products with ease. This also helps increase customer loyalty.
#6 The Power of Online ReviewsAn indirect manner of garnering popularity for products on e-commerce platforms is to publish online reviews of them by users of these products. Besides, they lead to tons of referral traffic and bring in a constant traffic to the site. This is all set to increase in 2017 as more than 60% of customers regularly read online reviews before buying any product. A prospective buyer will most likely trust a consumer review than a product description. On the other hand, such reviews increase sales on e-commerce sites by about 18%.
ConclusionWith shoppers becoming tech-savvier and wanting to get the best bang for their buck, 2017 will see retailers being forced to adapt to the demands of consumers to buck the competition.Author Bio:Christopher Meloni is a Marketing Manager at Kodematix. Apart from his profession, he also has a passion of blogging and he likes to explore new and innovative methods of marketing within his field. Connect with Christopher on Twitter @tweetmeloni.
So, What Does This all Mean ?If a consumer can make an instant service purchase to dig themselves out of a hole, your business must be on-hand to provide that particular service. It’s not just about online sales anymore, and it’s not enough to just maintain a mobile friendly website. Consumers are increasingly looking for integrated, interactive buying experiences, and all indications point to the fact that the digital experience often precedes the physical one. So, just as you put in the time, money, and other resources into the physical experience of buying from your business- regardless of whether you offer products or services- you need to be investing in your digital experience as well.And if you’re reading this, perhaps, you already realize the importance of mobilising your eCommerce or business. There is no room for hesitation. There is nothing that should stop you from serving your mobile visitors.Here’s how you can cash in on this ever-growing, shifting marketplace :-
1. Get ResponsiveAccording to Google, 67% of people are more likely to buy from a mobile-friendly site, while 61% are eager to leave when they can’t find what they’re looking for. And you definitely don’t want to miss out on hundreds of people accessing your website from their respective mobile phones/tablets.The key, therefore, is to maintain your site’s fluidity, i.e to have your site optimised for devices like smartphones and tablets. Businesses can also take this fluid design concept a step further, by customising content by device to engage with users in ways that match their exact needs of the moment. (Mobile users have different habits than desktop users and even tablet users, after all)
2. Invest in a Mobile AppFlurry finds that 80% of mobile device time is spent in apps, 20% in browser.When mobile is how we are spending our time, and we are ALREADY spending 80% of that mobile time in apps, I believe this demonstrates that consumers indeed want the simplicity and focus that apps provide, rather than the variety and diffusion inherent in websites. Consumers want to be met with a seamless app that makes everything easy, that’s slick and just… works.Moreover with a mobile app, you can achieve results you simply cannot with just a mobile-friendly website. For starters, the app, once downloaded, stays on in the device, while the website doesn’t!Here are the some of the real advantages of creating a mobile app for your business :-
#1 Boosts InterestsWhen you develop an app, it gives you an easy way to showcase your products or services to your customers and prospective customers. Whenever they want, they can just use it as a one-stop point to get all the info they need.And when you update the content, you give them a glimpse of the new products or services you have on offer. This excites and interests customers and prospects to check out your updates regularly.Developing a mobile app and promoting it among your users is hence extremely beneficial to further your business.
#2 Helps Reinforce Brand and Increase EngagementMost shoppers cannot resist the temptation of a good deal or a great discount, especially when one stares at their face. And this is exactly what you can do with your mobile app.You can engage your customers with offers and incentives in real time. You can even use their profile information and location to customize your offers and reward them for their loyalty thus helping you build lasting relationships with your customers.
#3 Aids PromotionSuppose you have an apparel and accessories boutique at a central location. And you know that many prospective customers walk by your store every day. What if you design an app that lures them to your store?Create an offer that is simply too irresistible and notify about it through the app. An easy way to promote your business, apparently, but you will soon reap its benefits. Groupon is an example that does this very well.
#4 Offers SupportWhile it is often a hassle to receive and respond to a customer support request, the same becomes easy when you have an appropriate app to do it. With a mobile app that can offer instructions and how-to’s, you are sure to win approval.Whether you have a small, medium or big business, going mobile is the only way nowadays. It not only increases your exposure but also helps you connect with on-the-go consumers. People, especially the younger crowd, are constantly using their mobile devices to browse the World Wide Web and if you aren’t there, you are missing out on the opportunities.
3. Go Simple on User ExperienceWhen it comes to mobile commerce you should have one motto: go simple or go home. There’s never been a more important time to create a seamless experience for your customers. Your main goal is to remove any barriers to buying on the go.
4. Get SecureOne of the difficulties of getting mobile commerce right is striking the balance between providing both a secure payment process and creating a seamless and speedy checkout (Android Pay, iPhone Pay services) experience. Not only does it allow users to save their card details so they can pay with minimal clicks, it is also facilitates a secure and reliable payment service.Having a secure payment process (and clearly displaying your security settings to potential buyers) is essential to alleviating any concerns your customers might have over buying on the go.Having a safe, secure and simple payment and checkout options, being transparent about your display settings will help you to gain trust among the customers thus increasing the conversion rate in return.
ConclusionmCommerce is sweeping the globe. Mobile shoppers are primed for this moment. In fact, if you do not have a mobile offering, then it would mean hindrance to your growth and success. In this fast-paced, noisy world, it’s the one area where your customers are directing their attention. You’ll have a better chance of being successful if you meet your customers there.Ready to deliver better mobile experience in 2017? WisdmLabs would be happy to help. Contact Us to know more.
The Information Age has also ushered in an era of exceptional and almost lazy convenience when it comes to buying things you’ve always wanted, all from the comfort of your couch.
Any thing. Any brand.
Yes, we’ve all fallen prey to the pleasures of online shopping, known in corporate circles as e-commerce.
Apart from the big players like Amazon, Alibaba, and more recently, Flipkart, we have millions of online stores selling products we all want at the click of a button. And many of these store look just as beautiful as an actual store of a high end designer brand down the corner. (Apple Stores, anyone?)
Web Design is just as tactful as designing a physical product store. There are trends that catch on to the masses imagination, just like there are trends that are forgotten in an era bygone.
Dwelling on the past aside, I came up with a list a eCommerce Design trends that you’ll most likely come across on any of these millions of e-stores in 2016.
First up on the list is..
Masonry design was first conceived by David DeSandro as a jQuery plug-in called Masonry. It owes its massive popularity over the years to Pinterest, the first major website to adopt this form of page layout.
What Masonry does to your website is it optimizes the use of space within a web page by eliminating unnecessary gaps. It styles its elements in a grid based fashion, first by vertically stacking them up and proceeding to do the same horizontally, as opposed to CSS floats which does the exact opposite.
It’s akin to a mason piling up bricks on top of each other to build a wall, and hence the name.
Masonry also takes into consideration the size of every individual element and dynamically calculates an appropriate arrangement without wasting space.
Masonry is being swiftly adopted by online stores all over the internet, and, well, this is just the start.
The main reason for this, apart from its beautiful aesthetics, being that it’s incredibly eye catching. Which is exactly what you would want as a seller with a large catalogue of products: catch the customer’s eye.
Also, given that there’s no fixed size for a element, you can have images of products of varying size on top of each other right on a single page, saving user the trouble of having to navigate to another page.
Apart from WordPress, which already houses several Masonry themes, eCommerce giants like Magento and Shopify are witnessing an ever increasing number of themes adopt this approach.
Combine this with design schemes like minimalism and you have a webstore with a rich and an appealing feel that attracts sales by the dozen.
Mobile First Approach
That smartphones have taken over our lives is old news, but did you know that by 2018, mcommerce will account combined global revenue of over 630 Billion U.S Dollars?
That’s about the total revenue generated by whole of ecommerce, as seen in 2013.
No wonder most retailers are now opting for a mobile first design strategy for their websites.
Let’s be clear on one thing: Mobile-first does NOT equate to Responsive Design. Sure, the two have a lot of things in common, the ultimate goal being a smooth and snappy mobile experience. But mobile-first is an altogether different web design strategy, of which Responsive Design is a part.
The end result, for a user browsing on his smartphone, is a plain and dull website that contains just about enough content and elements for the website to be functional.
Hardly impressive and completely lackluster.
A mobile first approach takes this strategy and turns it on the flipside: you start with basing your designs for an optimal mobile experience, taking full advantage of your platform, and then add elements to make your website more robust and noteworthy as you work your way up towards the desktop.
What you get with a mobile first approach is a fantastic UX for your prospective buyers, regardless of the platform. It’s called progressive enhancement.
And while we’re dealing with the platform that is Mobile, an ever increasing number of users are opting to browse the internet solely via their mobile phones. In fact, global smartphone penetration will rise up to 34%, which is to say that one in three persons in the world will own a smartphone as early as next year!
To sum it all up, if you’re looking to sell online, it’s either go mobile or go home!
Customer Specific Product Listings
Behavioural targeting has been known to double the effectiveness of advertisements; one can only imagine the same will apply to behavioral marketing.
Collecting data pertaining to the browsing habits of an average visitor to your website, and analyzing it, can be a very effective precursor to increasing conversion rates for your site traffic.
One way to do this is implementing a dynamic product listing on your website, one that targets the needs of an individual visitor.
Imagine viewing a product on an online store and seeing a catalogue side listed that specifically interests you, what are your chances of making a successful purchase?
Pretty high, would be my guess.
Another idea that comes into play when you talk about behavioral marketing is the concept of behavioural cross selling.
Let’s break it down for your with an example. Suppose you were browsing for mobile accessories on this website that your friend said offered great deals, but never went through with the purchase. And now, a couple of weeks later you find yourself in dire need of a new smartphone.
You log onto your favourite e-store, and are just about hit ‘Buy Now’ on the smartphone of your choice, when you suddenly spot this this awesome accessory that you never bought being offered to you with the smartphone as a part of a lucrative deal. It’s the best of both worlds!
This, my friend, is no mere co-incidence, but a very sophisticated form of intelligent cross selling by the website. The website analyzes the your behavioural data and clubs together a relevant side product to go with your purchase and offers it you as bundled package at a discounted price.
Major players in the ecommerce space like Amazon are already reaping the benefits of this strategy, and so should you!
Do you know of this little company called Apple? The one that revolutionized the electronics industry as we know it and all.
Of course you do!
Apart from its outstanding range of products, Apple is also known for its ingenious marketing and advertising skills. Their minimalist approach has been lauded by web designers and marketing professionals alike.
If you’ve keenly paid attention to its advertisements and hoardings over the years, you would have noticed how it sticks to ultra-clean minimalism: a high quality image of its product, lots of white space and closely spaced text in black and grey color scheme. It’s clean and it’s elegant. A perfect reflection of everything Apple stands for.
Their website follows the same approach, and is a prime example of how a minimalist approach can work wonders for your online store, while retaining functionality and design.
The advantages of a minimalist web design are numerous: it’s a marked relief on the eyes when compared to websites over stuffed with loud and brazen design schemes, leads to better conversion rates and of course, let’s you lay more emphasis more than ever on your products!
Take a look at this list of 13 great examples of minimal ecommerce stores and notice how they utilize the scheme to best of their advantage.
Minimal design means you can shift your focus on the functionality of your store.
Out of the many possibilities, as listed eloquently on the the above mentioned list, some that stand out are the use of banners to upsell products, optimizing the process of adding products to cart and checking out, innovative use of icons and of course, instant focus on the product range.
Less is clearly more.
Stand Out Product Landing Pages
Every product has a story of it’s own, and it deserves to be told. Move over dull and drab pages for individual products in the catalogue, 2016 is the year where you’ll see more and more full fashioned landing pages focused on marketing individual products.
While most products have a page dedicated to themselves, it’s mostly just a handful of hi-res images of the product along with the specifications and the selling price. Add to that customer reviews and product ratings and you have every average product page on the web ever.
While these pages do serve the purpose of providing the user with all the relevant information about the product, they hardly do anything about the marketability of it all.
And really suck at converting leads.
There’s nothing worse than portraying an appealing product in an unattractive manner, which is why you ought to focus more on the design and the feel of the page.
Well designed landing pages are equally great at up selling high end products from within your product line up and/or launching new products!
They basically do the same three essential things as the afore-mentioned ‘every product page ever’, but with much more elegance, poise and style.They don’t sell you the product, they sell the deal. They don’t sell you the features, they sell you the benefits.
They don’t tell you about customer reviews, they share with you their stories.
See the difference? Not yet?
Take a look at these 8 exceptional product landing pages, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
With that we round up my list of trending and clever designs you’ll encounter on e-stores this year, but here are a few honorable mentions that will also be spotted while shopping online in 2016.
- Less-bulky, Tiled Navigation : For those who can’t find their way amidst a thousand navigation options on most websites. Basically all of us.
- Full-Width Content Design: Full width background images and parallax scrolling with well spaced content. These are (and will remain) evergreen.
- Material Design: Google has been all about this since the past couple of years. Need I say more?
Did I miss anything major or get any of the above details wrong? I’d love to hear from you! Comment away!
B2B Model – How Businesses Profit from Each OtherThere is a general assumption that customers and businesses are poles apart- the customer being the consumer, and the business being the provider. Shattering these assumptions, B2B Business model introduces us to a concept wherein businesses act like customers too.B2B is a type of business model where exchange of goods and services take place between two or more businesses. The consumer, usually isn’t involved in these types of models and come into play only at a later stage.A huge chunk of these transactions take place in the exchange of raw materials. One common scenario is wherein a business sources materials from another business to manufacture a new product.You can see this happening quite often in the Technology industry, a well known example is the Apple iPhone itself. Apple makes iPhones under their trademark but sources various chip boards from Samsung. Although considered rival companies, there exists a B2B relation that profits both.In most B2B business models both the businesses benefit from each other in some way and have comparable negotiating powers. They also employ professional staff and legal counsel who are constantly involved in negotiations with other businesses.The final product that you see being yielded as an outcome of processing and manufacturing is usually rich in quality and goes in the market for several times the initial investment on raw materials.
Diversifications in B2B Business ModelsAs you might have imagined, a model as complex as B2B ought to be divided into several categories. They are divided into 3 types basically.
A) Supplier Centric ModelSupplier centric models form the type of business where a supplier sets up a marketplace and intends to sell his customized solutions to various businesses. Most of them price their solutions according to the needs of the client/buyer.
B) Buyer Centric ModelThis type of business model is most popular among the big corporates who involve in transactions with huge purchasing capacity and high volume purchases. The company here sets up a portal, mostly online to accept quotations from different sellers. The sellers then approach the company with their quotations and the company chooses to go with a seller that they deem profitable after thorough analysis.
C) Intermediary Centric ModelIntermediaries in the marketplace are the ones who provide a common platform for Buyers and Sellers to come together and interact, interactions in this sector can be in the form of transactions or plain communication. They maintain a database of buyers and sellers and their main goal is to profit from these associations.B2B Business Model Example: Apple & SamsungAs we discussed above, Apple and Samsung working together on iPhone is a great example of B2B business model. Samsung is a reliable provider of Processor chips for Apple and these processors are used on the latest Apple iPhones.Even though there is a rivalry among the companies, both of them stuck with this B2B model because Samsung can meet the huge demand of processors for Apple and Apple pays a hefty sum for each processor Samsung delivers.
B2C – How Businesses Profit from ConsumersNow that you are familiar with the B2B type of business model, let us move on to the next common type of business model. You would be surprised to know that every individual who has ever transacted online or offline has contributed to this model.B2C business model is the type of model where the business sells directly to the consumers. These businesses produce an end product which is appropriately priced and then marketed to the general public.This model is more closer to the end user and consumers are more familiar with B2C models because they interact with and form a part of this model. Recent ones are the online shopping sites like Amazon.
Diversifications in B2C Business ModelsReaching out to consumers and selling products to them is the primary goal of a B2C business model. To accomplish this, B2C has been divided into different categories based on the type of audience and the type of targeting used to reach them.
A) E-Retail or E-TailingE-Retailing has become the latest trend. Most consumers have an online presence these days and reaching them online is the cheapest and fastest mode. Businesses have realized this and have started setting up websites and marketing campaigns to reach and sell products to netizens.
B) Brick & Click RetailYou are all familiar with the typical brick and mortar shops, the kind where you walk in, select your goods, pay at the counter and take your goods.Now these businesses have realized the potential of Internet and have started reaching out to a wider audience by setting up websites for their shops.The best example of Brick and Click retail is TATA owned electronic showroom chain Croma. They began with a brick and mortar shop which spread throughout the country garnering loyal customers for over a decade. Recently they started advertising their products through croma.com website and now even have a dedicated online shopping portal called tatacliq.com
C) Virtual MallsVisiting a mall is an experience in its own, you get overwhelmed with the abundant choices that they portray, always providing a fair level of competition to all businesses. Now imagine an online version of the same, that is the whole concept of Virtual Malls.It is a website hosting several merchants, giving them a space on the web to showcase their products. The website owners charge a nominal fee from sellers to display and sell products.These types of malls are better for businesses who want to market their Books, Music, Movies, Software or something along that line.B2C Business Model Example: AmazonAmazon is consumer centric company that has aced the B2C business model. Their tremendous user base and gigantic inventory makes them the ultimate online store. They have mastered consumer satisfaction with their array of customer support agents and product return policies, these features helped them retain customers.
B2B and B2C Business Models – The ContrastsBusiness to Business and Business to Consumer models differ in many aspects,The galore of raw materials and subcomponents used in manufacture of a product results in a large volume of transactions in the B2B model based companies where as the only transaction in a B2C model is the one between the company and the consumer i.e the sale of final product.From a marketing perspective, B2B campaigns are focused on the value of a product that will entice other businesses to opt for them. These campaigns are more professional in nature rather than casual since they target a more corporate audience.B2C marketing campaigns are geared towards the general public hence there is an emotional appeal to these campaigns. The targeted audience resonate more to a casual approach of advertisement therefore these campaigns contain witty lines, catch phrases or jingles.
Ending NoteSuccessful businesses are based on strong business models, there is no real alternative to those hence they are here to stay. It all depends on how well you utilize them.What do you think would be a better business model for those starting their own e-commerce website? Share your thoughts.
In the wake of the momentous decision of the Indian Government that made high-currency notes of denominations Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 invalid from November 9, 2016, the country has been left reeling. Not surprising, given the fact that nearly 85% of the cash in the market was rendered useless in one stroke.
There has been considerable debate amongst economic and trade gurus about the advantages and drawbacks of demonetization. Despite the varied takes though, one conclusion can be drawn here for sure; the demonetization of high-currency notes is a not-so-subtle move in encouraging India towards becoming a paperless economy.
This is bound to be a difficult idea to digest for the Indian public, as we are way more comfortable with cash transactions as opposed to using plastic money. Consider this: although the number of online shoppers in India has increased exponentially in the last five years, 70% of the shoppers still opt for the Cash on Delivery option (including me!), rather than completing the transaction online. This is probably born from the inherently skeptic mentality of the population, where we have been taught to trust only as far as we can see.
However, on a national scale, these very physical cash transactions make it nigh impossible to keep track of the currency in the market, which then leads to the generation of black money and illegal transactions across the country. Now that this choice has been effectively taken away by the government, for the time being at least, the general public has started viewing plastic money in a favorable light. Not only does this mark a decisive step towards creating a ‘Digital India’, it also has significant implications for businesses all over the nation.
What Does Demonetization Signify for Businesses?
Taking Businesses Online
The very first step that needs to be taken by businesses to survive in the rapidly imminent cashless market is going online. Whether it is small-scale vendors like bakers and confectioners, grocery stores, and independent service chain suppliers, or mega-corporations like Amazon, Snapdeal, Zomato, etc., provision of online services to clients is bound to become imperative.
Though it is true that the shift from a cash-based economy to a cashless economy is going to be slow, and rather difficult to adapt to, as well as the fact that hard currency is never going to be completely replaced by soft currency, it is inevitable that people will turn towards online transactions more and more in the long run. Given this, it is a good idea for businesses to start developing and maintaining a strong online channel right away, instead of having to scramble later.
Building Your Website, or Modifying It
When it comes to developing your business online, it all starts with a website, and an e-commerce website at that. It is obvious why developing a website is a must here; the website becomes your identity, it is a showcase of the products you offer, a place for your customers to go to for making purchases. To build a good website though, is far from an easy task. Considering the thousands of similar websites out there, you need to create one that sets you apart from the crowd and highlights that difference.
Building a website or an e-commerce store can be done using CMS platforms like WordPress with WooCommerce or Easy Digital Downloads (if your store sells digital goods), which let you develop extensive stores with their myriad capabilities. Most of these platforms are extremely user friendly, provided you dedicate time and effort to building your website; if not, you can always avail of professional website building services that discuss your requirements with you and present a full-fledged product, ready and prepped to use.
Don’t get complacent, merely building the website is not going to be enough. Even if you already have your e-store up and running, you need to make sure that it is optimized, maintained, updated, and revamped at regular intervals. This helps enhance your search engine rankings, which in turn drives more customers to your store via organic search.
Determining User Interaction on the Website
There are many criteria of what makes a good website. Quite like a real store, completing a transaction on an online store is dependent on how well the customer can interact with the store, and how well the site responds in turn. One of the best selling points of websites like Amazon is their easy navigability and clear directions. From product availability to the final amount of purchase, Amazon has a well-defined, logical process that ensures that customers know exactly where they are.
Depending on the kind of e-store you are building, the optimization requirements will differ. However, every website needs to be optimized for basics such quick navigation, easy product search, transparent costs, and efficient payment processing (more on that later). These are all the more important if you are aiming for an eventual transition to a completely online store, as the country goes paperless.
As we have seen before, Cash on Delivery is by far the most popular option chosen by online shoppers. Over the last year though, online marketplaces have reported a marginal decrease in the number of customers availing of this option, with more and more customers making payments online. This heralds a positive change for plastic money, as websites beef up their payment processing methods.
As an online store, you need to incorporate several options for your customers to choose from. These include multiple payment platforms, like Paytm, InstaMojo, Mobikwik, etc. You can also choose region-specific gateways, for quicker payment processing. Needless to say, these transactions have to be encrypted and secured appropriately, to ensure client confidentiality and reduce cyber-crime.
Discounts, Cashbacks, Credits, and More
To encourage your customers to shop at store e-store, despite the lack of a Cash on delivery option, you can use perks like discounts, coupons, and cashbacks. Snapdeal has successfully used this strategy to boost sales, following the lack of currency in the aftermath of demonetization, by offering a flat 10% discount on all card transactions. This encourages customers to go cashless, thereby facilitating a more secure payment process.
Another way of alleviating your potential customers’ apprehensions can be offering cashbacks, or store credit. This sets the mind of the customer at ease, as they know that they can demand a cashback in case they are not pleased with the product. On a logistical scale, this can be difficult for you to manage, nevertheless, offering cashbacks goes a long way in building the trust of your patrons. An alternative to cashbacks can be offering store credit. This implies that the customer can opt for a replacement from your store, if they are not satisfied with the original product, instead of a refund. As a store owner, this is a more viable solution for you, as you are assured of a transaction, no matter what the product.
Optimizing your site for mobiles and integrating mobile payment apps is of high import when you develop your online store. There has been a marked increase in payments via mobile phones recently, especially for online food orders, recharges, and online shopping. This indicates the need for mobile app integration on your website, as it lets your customers shop on the go.
Additionally, you can also integrate barcode and card-scanning applications which customers can use to safely complete transactions, email responders that convey all the details of the transaction to the customer, and user accounts/members’ areas where the customers can view and track their orders.
As we slowly, but steadily march towards a completely cashless economy, businesses need to proactively start working on these aspects so that they can establish a firm hold in the industry.
What Does Going Cashless Entail for the Consumer?
The end-user’s reaction to demonetization has been mixed. While most of public welcomes and supports this reform, small businesses, where daily wages are a significant part of payment, and villages with a scarcity of banks and ATM’s have been hit the hardest. In the long run, however, going cashless has myriad advantages from the customers’ point of view as well.
Here is a glimpse of these:
Transparency in Transaction
As the entire transaction takes place online, customers do not have to worry about hidden costs, or cash security. In addition, the processing time is less and customers have no hassles like tendering exact change.
Keeping track of your purchases is easy, as is demanding refunds for the product, if it is found to be unsatisfactory. Customers can order, receive, and request a refund from the convenience of their home, in case the product does not match the specifications provided by the store.
Efficient Management of Accounts and Expenses
Online payments are updated automatically into the customers’ bank accounts, which makes identifying expenses and managing accounts very easy, since the tally is practically already present in the financial statements.
Incentives from Banks
Various banks across the country award points for every card transaction, which customers can redeem alter, as per the policies of the said bank.
Despite all these and many other advantages of a cashless economy, people in India are reluctant to use plastic money to its maximum potential. Part of this resistance stems from the fact that the population has become too used to physical cash and hence finds it difficult to adapt to the paperless concept. The lack of familiarity with the necessary paraphernalia required for making online payments (computers, swipe-machines, and the like) is also one of the major factors of opposition.
This begs the question; does India really need a cashless economy? The simple answer is yes, it does.
Why do we Need a Cashless Economy?
India is a strong market from the business perspective. However, due to the rampant prevalence of black money and illicit currency, the potential of this market is severely diminished. The recent demonetization of high currency notes provides an opportunity for the economy to negate this black money from the equation and paves the way for an eventually paperless system of transaction.
Eliminating cash transactions makes redundant the infrastructure necessary to handle the same. For example, imagine a world where all your bills, taxes, and fines would be handled online, by the government. It would eliminate all the printing, distribution, and management charges that have to be endured in the process.
There is no scope for bribery, when the payment is online. The corruption that is present on a massive scale in the country today can be curbed, if not completely eradicated, if the entire population starts using plastic money on a regular basis.
Another disadvantage of carrying hard money is one most experienced by foreign travellers. Hard cash is susceptible to theft, misplacement, or loss. If on the other hand, you carry credit/debit cards with you, it is far easier to keep track of it as well as the money you spend. Sweden recorded a significant reduction in the rate of petty theft, corresponding to the reduction in the usage of cash in the country.
Several countries across the world have successfully managed to create paperless economies and experienced the benefits of the same. Sweden, Kenya, Norway, Denmark, Somalia, and Canada are some examples where cashless systems are in place today, and are working flawlessly, so much so that even the smallest vendor has a wireless card-swipe machine for making payments.
What Does This Imply for the Future of India?
India needs to come to terms with the fact that cash is soon to be an obsolete method of payment. Young and old, rich, and poor, all of us have to work towards understanding the benefits of a cashless economy and start implementing the same in our day-to-day lives.
The transition is bound to be painful, the GDP is expected to take a severe hit in the short-term, and the economic growth is going to be practically nil for the next quarter, however, the long term macroeconomic benefits of this reform include lower inflation, lesser budget deficits, lower interest rates, and an overall decrease in unaccounted money and crime rates.
From the businesses’ point of view, it will be far easier to tide over this crucial time period and sustain later, if they start working proactively to develop their respective online channels. The recent demonetization signifies a concrete step in taking India towards a Digital Age, which is why there is no time like the present to start building your e-commerce store and preparing for it!
In terms of e-commerce plugins selling digital products, Easy Digital Downloads is right up there with WordPress biggies like WooCommerce and WP e-Commerce.
What sets Easy Digital Downloads (EDD for short) apart from the rest, is that it focuses specifically on easy selling of digital downloads, from e-books, songs and videos to bookings, orders and reservations.
This is perfect for a company selling only non-physical goods, since all the additional features that platforms offer for real products are anyways redundant here.
In fact, if we objectively compare EDD and WooCommerce, EDD does definitely have the upper hand in the selling of digital products. And the reason why we use EDD for our online store too.
EDD was set up by Pippin Williamson, a WordPress enthusiast and the developer of over 75 plugins, including AffiliateWP and Restrict Content Pro.
Over the years, the plugin has developed directionally, with nearly a 100 extensions and integrations for extending its core functionalities.
Let us have a look at the various plugin features.
A Brief Overview of Easy Digital Downloads’ Features
Easy Digital Downloads has a bucketload of features that make it a versatile e-commerce plugin. These include:
Ease of Use
For a full-fledged e-commerce plugin, EDD is extremely light, easy to set up and use. The interface is user friendly and has clear directions, that help you set up your downloads in no time (more on that later)!
The Multi-Purchase Shopping Cart
Easy Digital Downloads has a Shopping Cart functionality used to add multiple, downloadable products from your website. The ‘Add to Cart’ as well as ‘Buy Now’ buttons can be displayed optionally on the download page, the format of both being fully customizable.
Carts can be saved by perceived customers and you get to decide whether the checkout has to be as a registered user or the customer can proceed as a guest.
Integrated Payment Gateways
EDD has in-built payment gateway integrations for PayPal and Amazon, and integrates with PayPal Pro and Express, Stripe, Coinbase, Braintree, 2Checkout, Skrill, PayPlug, Authorise.net and about 30 others; you get the picture.
The checkout process is quick and streamlined which makes for faster transactions and less halfway-customers.
Comprehensive Customer Management
Maintaining customer records at the backend is easy with EDD. Every member and purchaser on your website has a separate profile containing the complete sales and contact details. The customer lifetime value is visible here too, i.e. how much net profit can be obtained from the given customer, in the years to come.
These customer records can be linked with user profiles and are a comprehensive database of the date and time when the download was completed, where the file was downloaded and the payment details of the transaction.
Easy Digital Downloads has a data cruncher as a core feature, that checks your earnings daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly, or for any given period of time really.
Reports can be segregated by product or product category and compared at a glance using line graphs, with the current and forecasted earnings for the specified time period.
These reports can be exported as CSV files for future reference.
Promotional Codes and Discounts
EDD loves discounts, as do we all.
Product sales are proportional to the extent of product marketing and EDD understands this. Which is why, it provides options for you to add discounts using coupons and set limited edition discount codes.
You can even set a minimum purchase limit to avail of the discount or a maximum discount limit that can be availed of!
Easy Digital Downloads is completely flexible in terms of customization.
You can have simple or variable pricing for products, create download widgets and insert them in posts or pages, even customize purchase receipts and the e-mails to be sent, using twelve different templates.
Products can be sold as single downloads or as bundles which can be restricted for specific users, with download limits and link expiration per download. EDD is compatible with most WordPress themes out there, though there might always be a few exceptions.
EDD is cleanly coded and provides several hooks and filters for developers to make use of and extend its core functionality.
So much for the theory, let’s try out some of these features practically and set up a store using EDD!
Getting Started with Easy Digital Downloads
Well, just like any plugin on WordPress, there are two ways in which you can install Easy Digital Downloads.
You can search for it in the plugin repository and add it to your website, or you can download it from wordpress.org, and upload it to your server using an FTP client of your choice.
Let’s walk through the plugin settings.
Once you have activated the plugin, the ‘Downloads’ tab will appear in the admin panel.
Click the Settings sub-heading under it to get to the General Settings page. This page has the options to configure the download Page, Store Location and the Tracking settings.
Page settings include selecting which of your website pages will be the Checkout, Success, Failed Transaction and Purchase History pages.
The Store Location tab allows you to set up your base location and the state or province where your website is located. This is useful for configuring Payment Gateways, which we will come to in a minute.
Tracking settings is merely an option which enables EDD to keep track of your plugin usage for building customer data and analyzing how the plugin is working in real time.
Right next to the General Settings is the Currency Settings mini-tab which lets you define the currency you will be using for product pricing on your website.
There are over 30 currencies available from around the world though not all are always compatible with the existing payment gateways.
On the same page, click the Emails tab to go to the e-mail settings.
Here you select the email template that is to be used while sending Purchase Receipts to your customers. There is a default email template that is used or you can download an additional 12 templates and 10 corresponding Purchase Receipt formats by buying the Email Templates extension.
You can also choose a company logo to be displayed at the top of the customer email, which can be uploaded here.
Product Purchase Settings
Moving to the Payment Gateways and Taxes tabs can help you set up the product purchase settings.
In the Payment Gateways tab, you can decide which of the default Payment Gateways (PayPal Standard, Test Payments and Amazon) are to be displayed. The other gateways can be integrated by installing the respective extensions, available on the extensions page of the EDD website.
In the Taxes tab, you can configure the taxes to be applied based on the country you are from. You can also choose to display the original product prices without taxes, in which case it is calculated separately and added to the total cost on the Checkout Page.
Miscellaneous Settings and Style
Under the Styles tab you can decide the default styling of EDD elements to match with the color scheme on your site. Optionally, if you know a bit of CSS (well, more than a bit), you can disable EDD’s default styling and set your own.
Miscellaneous settings have an array of settings which can be left as is. However, the two important setting options you need to focus on are: Checkout Settings and Terms of Agreement.
- Under Checkout Settings, you have the option to enable/disable guest checkouts
- Under Terms of Agreement, you can add terms related to product purchase which the customer has to agree to before buying a product
Creating Your First Download in EDD
Creating products or ‘Downloads‘ in EDD is exactly like creating a new Post or Page on WordPress.
All you have to do is,
- Click on the ‘Add New‘ sub-heading under the Downloads tab.
- Edit the ‘Name’, ‘Description‘, ‘Price‘, ‘Product Categories’ and ‘Tags’ (for categorisation purposes) of the Download.
- For downloads which do not have a fixed price, or when you want to offer options, you can choose the ‘Variable Pricing‘ option.
- In the right-hand sidebar, you can set a ‘Download Image‘ which will be displayed on the Shop page.
- You can also set up a download size limit for the file and define the Purchase Button behavior. The ‘Product Shortcode‘ link is available here too, which can be inserted anywhere on your site to provide a quick-link to the Product Page.
- The download file can be set under ‘Download Files‘.
- To create a bundle, you need to set the ‘Product Type Options‘ to ‘Bundle‘, and add downloads part of the bundle.
- Once all your settings are finalized, click on ‘Publish‘ and your Download is ready to sell!
Extensions: Must-Haves and Supplementary
Coming to the most awaited chapter; the plugin extensions available for Easy Digital Downloads.
Let me begin by saying right away that there are nearly a hundred different extensions available for functionalities like accounting, licensing, marketing, analytics and more (this excluding the third-party extensions).
Most of these are premium, though some free ones are available too and can be downloaded from the EDD Extensions repository.
To give you an idea of the diversity of the extensions present, here is a short overview of 5 very different add-ons, each providing a new functionality to the core EDD setup.
EDD revolves around digital downloads, so a licensing extension is a must for any company selling softwares, plugins, themes, or even non-WordPress applications.
The Software Licensing extension is used for incorporating license generation, activation and validation for your customers. It also has an API that allows you to enable automatic upgrades for the WordPress plugins and themes that you are selling, for users having active licenses.
A complete licensing plugin, Software Licensing lets customers upgrade or renew their licenses as per the validity.
EDD Product Updates
EDD Product Updates is a simple way of informing users about the updates available and providing them with the download links.
The extension allows for email customization, batch sending of emails, email preview confirmation which lets you check how the mail will look at the front end and even test mail sending.
EDD Product Updates works with Software Licensing to send update emails only to existing license holders.
As the name suggests, the extension generates PDF invoices for you and your customers, which can be downloaded from the Payment History tab in your admin panel.
The invoices and email purchase receipts are available in 12 different formats and can be customized further as required.
Not only are reviews an important part of customer feedback, but they also provide your future customers, a reference point to work with. A four- or five-star rating immediately changes customer perspective and makes them that much more inclined to at least check the product.
The Product Reviews extension lets your customers add reviews and comments which can be edited or modified by you later, if necessary. You can also choose which comments are to be displayed and which are to be hidden, with shortcodes available to embed featured reviews in posts and pages.
This is another popular plugin developed by Pippin Williamson and Andrew Munro which makes connecting with your affiliates easy and fun.
The AffiliateWP plugin extension works seamlessly with Easy Digital Downloads and is used to track your affiliates’ referrals, view their statistics and interact with them dynamically. Built on the concept of making affiliate association easier, the extension works well, with practically all WordPress membership and ecommerce platforms.
Easy Digital Downloads has several other integrations with newsletter plugins like MailChimp, Aweber, Sendy and MailPoet Newsletters, accounting plugins like Recurring Payments, EDD Bookings, Fraud Monitor and Advanced Reports. You can check the full list of extensions here.
EDD also offers a core extension bundle, with 25 different extensions for various functionalities. This is useful for incorporating all the basic features into your website in one go.
Easy Digital Downloads is an out-of-the-box solution that takes care of everything you need, to sell virtual products online. A light, cleanly coded core, extensions to balance individual requirements and provision of tailored options for specific customization make EDD a great choice for digital goods’ marketing.
The plugin is easy to use, is localization ready with translations into 26 languages and has a very strong documentation, with step by step explanations for pretty much every query that could turn up. The support forums are also very active and the developers at EDD revert back to user queries quite quickly.
All said and done, Easy Digital Downloads is a robust plugin and works perfectly with all other WordPress themes and plugins. If you are a company looking to sell digital products on WordPress, Easy Digital Downloads is definitely the way to go!
One of the most successful e-commerce platforms, Shopify has taken the online retail world by storm.
With great functionality, a legion of themes, efficient fiscal management and a user-friendly interface, setting up shop was never this easy! The only glitch in this otherwise well-oiled machine is that it is a purely e-commerce platform with a rather limited scope for content management.
On the other hand, given that WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems, hosting over 25% of the websites around the globe. WooCommerce– the e-commerce plugin for WordPress- has also grown from strength to strength. Speaking statistically, WooCommerce has a greater number of online sellers than Shopify, although the percentage of small-scale retailers here is much higher than that of large-scale companies.
Making a bid for this market is the ‘Shopify eCommerce Plugin – Shopping Cart’ plugin for WordPress. It incorporates the best of both platforms into a single, multi-functional entity.
Is this plugin the WooCommerce challenger? Will it be able to successfully convert WordPress e-commerce users to Shopify?
Let’s find out!
Features of the Shopify Plugin for WordPress
Besides the main purpose of integrating your WordPress website with your Shopify store, the plugin has loads of other features that successfully allow you to run a store on your site, without cramping your blogging style. Some of these are:
- Embedding your entire shop or individual products on WordPress- Embedding a Shop gives the customer a distraction-free shopping experience, without even having to move to the Shopify store.
- The option to add the ‘Buy Now’ button for products directly to posts and pages.
- Access to Shopify’s integration with over 70 payment gateways.
- Flexible shipping rates can be set based on different criteria like weight, location or variable quantity.
- Customizable currency and checkout language options.
- Automatic calculation of country and state taxes based on the currency selected for transaction.
- In-built SSL Certificates and PCI compliance ensure secure shopping.
Users looking to integrate the two platforms, needn’t search for any other option. The plugin handles the task completely. But the introduction of this plugin, provides WordPress users looking to branch out to the e-commerce space- an alternate option.
The question is, is the integration worthwhile? Wouldn’t it be simpler to go with a plugin like WooCommerce instead?
Why Integrate Shopify and WordPress?
Considering both Shopify and WordPress+WooCommerce are all-round e-commerce platforms, there are some distinct advantages that each has over the other, as well as some drawbacks.
Here is a comprehensive look at the pros and cons of each:
- Great number of fully customizable themes and design templates.
- Easy tracking of orders, via e-mail, RSS feeds and mobile phones.
- Systematic and organized interface makes managing the shop very easy.
- Integrated e-mail marketing options like MailChimp and AWeber available.
- Strong customer support and loads of documentation available online for any queries that may arise.
- Although a paid platform, Shopify includes automatic hosting and domain registration.
- Creating blogs or promotional pages not as easy as WordPress.
- Apps are available for e-commerce related functionality only.
- Number of apps is significantly less than the number of plugins available on WordPress.
- Theme and template customization becomes cumbersome beyond a point.
- A host of plugins available for every functionality imaginable.
- Seamless integration with WordPress which allows the use of all extensions, add-ons and themes, all of which are completely customizable.
- WordPress+WooCommerce is a completely free platform and excellent for online retailers who have an existing WordPress site.
- Creation of blogs, posts, pages and newsletters is extremely easy and straightforward.
- SSL Certificates, payment gateways and PCI compliances are not integrated but have to be added separately via plugin extensions.
- WooCommerce is itself a plugin for WordPress as opposed to Shopify which is a standalone, native e-commerce platform.
- 9 times out of 10, an exact plugin that matches your requirements can be found in the plugin directory, but if not, one needs to develop it separately or modify an existing one which requires an intimate knowledge of coding or professional help.
- Often, the sheer number of plugins available for the same functionality can be daunting and choosing an appropriate one from the melee even more so.
- Although WooCommerce is free, domain registration is not. Besides, many of the plugins required for the basic e-commerce functions are paid, as are many of the advanced themes.
Looking at these, it is obvious that there is no single option that is a perfect fit satisfying every e-commerce requirement. However, integrating WordPress and Shopify would provide a complete solution and hence the need for a plugin that bridges the two.
Comparing Shopify and WordPress+WooCommerce is like comparing, if not apples and oranges, at least apples and green apples. Of the same family, yet each a different color.
Strictly speaking from the content development, cost and customization point of view, WordPress wins hands down. So much so that people opt for WooCommerce solely because WordPress has such plentiful add-ons for every necessity.
However, building and managing your mega-store would no doubt be easier with Shopify; a robust analytics system, technical soundness, excellent security and ease-of-operation being some of the main reasons.
In conclusion an e-commerce tyro would do well to build his website on WordPress and WooCommerce; but hosting his shop on Shopify and integrating it with WordPress using the Shopify eCommerce Plugin – Shopping Cart would help him get the best of both worlds!
Let’s face it- there are two ways to generate more revenue from your e-commerce store; either by driving more traffic to your store in order to make more sales, or by boosting sales by simply optimizing your website without increasing the traffic.
As acquiring each and every customer is going to cost you, evaluating your store’s sales funnel and thus focusing on your conversion rate is vital to improve your overall return on investment.
That being said, how would you generate more revenue without increasing traffic to your store?
Here are a few ways.
- Convert more visitors into customers
- Increase each customer’s order value
- Entice customers to return, in turn generating more sales.
Focus on the right KPIs
Key Performance Indicators (KPI) is a metric that is vital to the success of your business. It totally depends on company’s objectives and shows whether a business is moving towards these objectives or not. That said, focusing on the right KPIs can help you ensure that you are not going off the track.
There are a lot of tracking tools that can tell you the most accurate KPIs for your store including Google Analytics and RJMetrics.
Let’s take a look at some important e-commerce metrics below.
1. Conversion Rate
Conversion rate tells you how many of your visitors end up reaching your target goal- in our case buying a product from the store.
Here is how conversion rate is calculated:
Conversion rate (%)= (Total number of sales) / (Total number of visits) x 100
In order to get the best results by tracking the conversion rate, make sure you break it down into email conversion rate, checkout page conversion rate, paid ads conversion rate, referral program conversion rate, etc.
2. Average Order Value
When conversion rate reveals how many people actually buy from your site, the average order value reveals how much money each order brings in.
Average order value is calculated as follows:
Average order value = (Sum of Revenue Generated) / (Total number of Orders)
Calculating AOV for all customers can be used as a comparator for all marketing acquisition campaigns. It will even help you evaluate your overall online marketing and pricing strategy.
3. Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate
The metric, shopping cart abandonment rate shows you the percentage of your visitors who added products to the shopping cart but didn’t complete the checkout.
It is calculated as follows…
Shopping cart abandonment rate = (Total visitors who didn’t complete the checkout) / (Total visitors who added products to the cart) x 100
Recommended reading: The 7 Biggest E-commerce Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid
From Monitoring KPIs to Generating more Revenue- Actionable Strategies
In the above section, we’ve seen three important KPIs that can help you increase the revenue of your store without increasing the traffic to your store.
Now with a few real examples let’s look at the next step – what does each indicators mean to your e-commerce business goals and how would you use this metrics to make a real impact on increasing the revenue.
Let’s get started
1. Increasing Conversion Rate
It doesn’t matter how much effort you put into driving traffic. Unless you are making sales your business isn’t going to succeed.
By increasing the conversion rate of your store you’re making more visitors to buy from your e-commerce site and thus generating more revenue. Here are a few ideas to increase conversion rate of your store.
#1: Create a Sense of Urgency
Shoppers often procrastinate. And the worst thing, they often forget to buy those products later.
Creating a sense of urgency will help convincing your buyers to purchase immediately and stop procrastinating. Displaying low stock indicators and time sensitive shipping are some of the common practices in the e-commerce industry to create a sense of urgency.
#2: Improve the user experience of your store
Increasing the user experience of your store can have a big impact in increase in the sales and thereby revenue.
By improving the user experience you’re making it easier for your customers to buy from your store, which can positively impact in increasing the revenue.
Here are a few usability hacks that can make a positive impact in sales.
- Make the site navigation easier.
- Make the search bar prominent on your site
2. Increasing ‘Average Order Value’
Here are a few practical tips to increase the AOV of your store.
#1: Offer Discounts on a Minimum Spend Threshold
Offering discounts for a minimum spend threshold can be a good strategy for convincing your users to spend more while making a purchase.
This is one of the most common tactics to increase the average order value. In fact, a study of Predictive Intent’s e-commerce customer base, upselling drives an average of over 4% of sales. And in terms of driving sales it is 20 times better than cross selling by displaying recommended products.
Here are a few ideas for upselling your products.
- Add-on sales: Sell additional products or services along with the actual sales. For example, when selling electronic products like laptop, you can sell 2 years additional warranty.
- Product bundles: Offer various products altogether as a bundle for a discounted price.
3. Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment
According to Baymard.com, the average documented online shopping cart abandonment rate is about 68.53%.
The reasons for shopping cart abandonment can be many. Some of them are
- Shipping costs
- Lack of discount coupons
- Complicated checkout process
Here are a few methods to reduce the shopping cart abandonment rate.
#1: Display Shipping Fees Prior to Asking Payment Info
One of the main reasons for the shopping cart abandonment is unexpected shipping cost. Displaying shipping fees in the early stage of a sales funnel can reduce the abandonment rate to a great extent.
#2: Reinforce your Privacy Statement on the Payment Page
Even though it’s been many years since people started buying products online, still many are concerned about providing their payment info and personal information online. Adding a security seal like McAfee secure to your payment page offer a sense of security to such buyers and is a good strategy to reduce the cart abandonment rate as well.
KPIs are milestone for the success of your e-commerce stores. Monitoring the right KPIs helps you track the progress of your business goals.
Once you set your business goals and selected KPIs for your store, make sure you monitor those metrics on a regular basis, even daily.
What are the Key Performance Indicators for your store? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section.
Images by freepik
“Approximately $4 trillion worth of merchandise will be abandoned in online shopping carts this year, and about 63% of that is potentially recoverable by savvy online retailers”.
– Business Insider Intelligence
It’s hard work- getting customers to visit your e-store. You have to gain visibility through paid advertising, or target keywords to increase search engine rankings. And mind you! These methods won’t guarantee customers.
They’ll only get you visitors.
The bad news is several visitors might leave your store without making a purchase- the number approximately being 67%. But the good news is that you can recover more than 50% through effective retargeting.
What is Retargeting? How does it Help You?
I’ll explain retargeting using an example.
A week ago I was checking out Vend. It’s a point of sale system. I checked out their tour, blog and pricing. I was merely researching the system for an article I was writing. Once I had the information I needed, I simply left their website. A few days after that, I noticed Vend POS ads, on other sites, I was browsing. The ads were in many places. They made me think about Vend, and I ended up checking out their website again for additional information.
Vend used retargeting to get me back on their site!
For any business, a visitor is a potential customer. Now, I had no intention of making a purchase. But the strategy could surely work on an unsure shopper.
Retargeting is a method or a marketing practice wherein you attract visitors- who abandon their shopping cart, or browse products and leave without making a purchase.
Retargeting not only helps you get shoppers back on your site, it helps you build your brand and acquire your competitor’s shoppers as well.
So how does retargeting exactly work?
Essentially the process is tracking a shopper’s activity, from the time a shopper lands on your website. You track the pages browsed, or the products seen. If the shopper leaves your site without making a purchase, you target him/her with offers or ads.
The fact is 70% of your shoppers will leave your store without making a purchase, and ignoring retargeting can be a big e-commerce mistake you can make.
How should a Retargeting WordPress Plugin work?
There are services like AdRoll or Facebook exchange which can help you target unsure shoppers. While they work well, a client of ours asked us if we could build a retargeting plugin on WordPress. Surely the requirements were a bit different. But the idea got us thinking.
How would a Retargeting Plugin Work?
To begin, we had the following requirements to work with:
- Registered shoppers needed to be retargeted using email marketing
- Offers had to be sent dynamically on the basis of browsing activity
- There had to be settings provided to create a custom email template
Emails for Retargeting
Email marketing to target shoppers is a bit different as compared to banner ad targeting. Vend used banner ad targeting. Banner ad retargeting can be used to target visitors using their IP address or a browser cookie. On the other hand email retargeting can be used only for registered customers and logged in shoppers.
Did you know – 54% of shoppers will purchase abandoned products, if they are offered at a lower price?!
Email retargeting involves sending across offer emails to shoppers such as:
- Free shipping offers
- Send discounts
- Send special offers such as coupons
Email Retargeting WordPress Plugin Settings
When we delved a bit into email retargeting, we deduced the plugin would have the following settings:
- As the client stated, the plugin had to provide an option to create an email template. This would’ve worked well if there wasn’t an email marketing service being used. However since the client was using an marketing service, we suggested an integration with the service to handle emails being sent.
- There had to be an option to add discount coupon ids which would be randomly sent based on user activity.
- The plugin needed to provide additional options such as products or product categories which had to be skipped
Email Retargeting WordPress Plugin Behavior
Instead of using cookies, the plugin would track a logged in shoppers behavior and log the user id and products viewed in the database. This would help us track shopper behavior across browsers.
We decided on several rules based on cart abandonment stats, which the plugin would employ. For example:
- If a shopper abandoned the cart at the final step of checkout, a free shipping offer would be sent to the user.
- If a shopper abandoned the cart without proceeding to checkout, a discount for items in the cart would be sent to the user, using a coupon set by the store owner
- If a shopper spent an x amount of time browsing a certain product or category, a discount offer for the product (or category) would be sent to the shopper.
- The plugin would also set follow-up emails if required, or delete saved data after a set amount of time.
This offer email would be sent within 24 hours of cart abandonment or the shopper leaving the website.
Did you know – The click through rates for emails sent within 24 hours of a shopper leaving the website is 40%?!
Now, before I conclude, I’d like to mention that we did not end up building the plugin because the client’s budget fell through. However, the effort we spent investigating and studying email retargeting helped us plan out steps we could automate, to simplify the process for any user.
As an e-commerce store owner, smart retargeting can surely help you gain back shoppers, and increase sales. If you do not have a strategy planned, it’s not too late to employ one. What are your thoughts on this? Do you think the e-commerce retargeting plugin we planned out would be something you’d like on your website? Or are you using a better solution? Do let me know your thoughts and comments on this, and we could discuss the same, using the comment section below.
Consumers are always riddled with a truckload of questions. It’s their habit. It’s their right. The questions are usually centered around meeting certain requirements that they might have. These questions usually translate the distance between the requirements and a solution.
In today’s post, however, we’re going to traverse this distance in the opposite direction. We’ll start from the solution. Along the way if you think the solution makes for a good business proposition then I have earned myself a happy reader and you have earned yourself a potential money-making idea!
The focus of attention for this discussion is Easy Digital Downloads – An eCommerce plugin specifically developed & designed for digital (Read: downloadable) products. Let’s take a look at the different environments the plugin can be employed to make the most of it.
The first and most obvious type of website that can be developed around this plugin is a marketplace for software products. Themeforest is a classic example of this type of a website.
So if setting up an eStore for software products such as plugins, themes, templates etc sounds like a plan to you, then be my guest and continue exploring.
An important feature that is required for a software product marketplace is an option to license the products. This is what makes EDD a coveted e-commerce plugin option to sell software products. Easy Digital Downloads provides a software licensing add-on which allows eCommerce store owners to license every product that is sold on the website.
The plugin has been licensed and sold. What next?
It can often happen that with an increase in sales the volume of support requests will also increase. In order to be able to provide effortless and uninterrupted support to all existing and potential customers, it is important to have a system in place to handle the requests. It makes the process simple and the probability of missing out on any request is close to zilch. Take a look at how support can be made easy.
If by now you have made up your mind regarding a marketplace for software products it might be well worth considering the inclusion of statistic widgets to your website. It’s habitual for buyers to look for statistics while making a purchase and such widgets will reinforce their faith in your product.
Developing an online music website like Spotify can be another promising e-Commerce business possible using the Easy Digital Downloads plugin.
Subscriptions and Social Media Marketing are two paramount features for an online music store. The first feature can be incorporated using the recurring payments extension.
Social media marketing, on the other hand, can make for an entire horizontal in a business and will need a separate post for a detailed explanation. Using the social media plugins for Easy Digital Downloads is a good place to get started with on this front.
An option to play the music before purchasing it makes adds to the overall user experience and makes all the difference between converting a website visitor to a customer. If you want to make this difference then what you’re looking for is the Audio Player extension for Easy Digital Downloads.
A last step in the direction of user experience would be incorporating the Auto-Register plugin which automatically creates a WordPress user account at checkout. And like a told you before include statistic widgets , no information is useless information after all.
No, I don’t mean to say handling the learning part with the Easy Digital Downloads plugin. Here EDD will essentially be used to sell the online courses from the website.
In the online LMS scenario, it is also important to manage all student data which includes their purchase history. Hence, it is important that EDD should be synched with a CRM system to automatically translate the purchase history into the CRM software in use. This can be achieved with Zapier, an extension that seamlessly integrates over 300+ third party web services with EDD.
Did you think Services can be sold online? Not booked, SOLD! Well yes, they can be. Let us assume you provide content creation services and have predefined purchase packages based on the cost. EDD works perfectly in such a situation. You can define the various packages as EDD products which can be purchased by from the website. Similar packages can be defined for services such as a yoga class, prepaid internet services, prepaid traveling services etc. So do away with cash and make way for convenience using the Easy Digital Downloads plugin.
But there’s a small, very small hiccup in fact. The EDD receipt displays a message which reads, “No downloadable files found”. While this message does not affect your service in any way it can often lead to some amount of discontentment on the user’s end. The simple solution to avoid this situation is the Download as a Service extension which allows you to classify certain products as services and thus hides the unnecessary message.
A service based eCommerce website can be taken a step ahead by providing customers with downloadable email attachments. These attachements can consist of an invoice for the service they have subscribed to or gift coupons that can be used at the time of the next purchase.
Lastly, no service business can flourish without good support. So don’t even think of faltering there.
All the websites mentioned above and many other similar ones can be developed with WooCommerce, without a doubt. What sways me towards EDD though is this.
- It was specifically developed keeping in mind digital products. Which means its every aspect has been modeled keeping in mind this concept.
- Also, there is nothing such as an EDD compatible theme. Almost all themes available on the market are compatible with EDD. So while you are on a scavenger hunt for the perfect theme for your website the last thing on your mind will be the theme’s compatibility with EDD.
- Also, it’s vast bank of add-ons related to marketing, payments, website analytics, affiliate system etc makes it an absolutely competent system to use.
Opportunities of growing the business of an online digital products store are endless. You just have to know how to use the system to your advantage. So what are you waiting for? Download the free version of Easy Digital Downloads and start experimenting towards your eCommerce business. And if you are stuck along the way, I am right here along with our in-house Easy Digital Downloads expert always ready with an answer. All you gotta do to reach out to us is use the comments section below.
Images by freepik