Tell me if you’ve heard of this story before. You are browsing a shopping website who just happens to greet you with your name and suddenly in the recommended items list, you see the exact pair of yellow underwear with the duck print that you were looking for since last week – and it’s on discount. You quickly whip out your credit card to buy it right away.
It’s personalization at work. You see, all your customers do not come from a single mold. Every one of them has their quirks that make them unique and that’s why you need to personalize to sell better. It’s also a good part of your marketing plan.
In any case, we collected some of the best examples you can use personalization to supercharge your website.
Being on a first name basis with your client
It is nice to get called by your first name. Try this when you are ordering at a restaurant. Speak to your waiter on a first name basis. Call him by his first name. More often than not, you will receive some great service.
You see calling someone by their first name is based on trust. Only people you trust, call you by your first name. It’s a psychological hack that makes your would-be customer feel at home.
Knowing the important dates
Treat your customers like your significant other. Your significant other surely likes it when you remember the important dates – birthdays and anniversaries. Everybody likes being greeted on their birthday. They like it so much that they will open any e-mail greeting them a happy birthday.
It’s a great time to give them an offer. These life events usually make people want to make a purchase, sort of like a birthday present for yourself. You see it working in buffets all over the world.
Selling only what they want
Big stores have huge inventories and they are all trying to sell it to you. That is a huge problem when your customers get overloaded with all the choices. Personalization allows you to put only the items they want in front of them.
Analytics can do this for you by seeing what your customers are looking at and finding possible items that they might want based on their behavior. It may seem a bit Big Brother but at the end of the day, it makes for a good shopping experience as almost always, this leads to another sale.
Ask the right questions
Sometimes it is best to ask your customers outright what they like. It’s less invasive this way. By using filters and questionnaires, you can narrow down the options to what your customer will probably buy.
This allows you to filter a unique basket of goods for your customer. It’s like having your own personal shopper with you.
Make it a group thing
It may sound counter-intuitive, but being part of a group is actually a very personal experience. If you are part of a group, you tend to take on the qualities and behaviors of that group. Call it a version of group-think or herd mentality.
This also makes a great opportunity for “exclusivity” and making your customers feel like they are special, except of course for the fact that your group is essentially open for everyone.
What to do next?
That is a pretty good list of some personalization hacks you can do for your website. Remember that if you make it a personal experience, the more likely it is that your customer will buy from you. Treat it like being a friend to your customer. You would rather buy from a friend, wouldn’t you?
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About the AuthorNera Cruz is a technical writer and a web merchandiser for different online marketplaces around the globe since 2011. Nera gained tons of experience working with several e-commerce platforms. She spends her free time selling her fashion products and gadgets on Facebook (Nera Shoppe). You can also connect with her on Twitter @nera_joy
#1 Make your site fasterVisitors nowadays have very little patience for slow-loading sites. Anything that takes longer than 7 seconds means you’ve just lost another site visitor. They’re even less patient on mobile. This is especially true since the programs they’re using (like OK Google) has to come up with a good answer to their question within a second or two. If you have slow-loading pages, the voice search app won’t be able to get all your information in time. That means you’ll get passed up and ignored. You need to make sure your site is loading within 3 seconds, though optimally under 2 seconds.
#2 Prepare for voice search queriesPeople search very differently when they type and when they speak. For example, if you’re typing a search query into Google search, you’ll probably type in “Black Friday deals Seattle” or something similar. However, when doing a voice search, people tend to speak in fuller phrases and sentences. So it would look something like:
“Siri, what are the best Black Friday deals in Seattle?”or
“OK Google, how do I find the best Black Friday deals in Seattle?”For that reason, when you’re optimizing for voice searches, you need to make a list of long-tail keywords and questions (sentences and phrases) that are related to your business. Then, make sure your content is optimized for that. So, for example, instead of going for keywords like “children’s shoes” you should use long-tail keywords such as “brands with the highest quality children’s shoes.” You can also optimize for questions, such as, “What are the highest quality children’s shoes?”
#3 Make your mobile experience betterLet’s say you’ve taken care of #1 and #2 from above, and your content is optimized for voice queries and your site speed is good. But how does your actual site look when a visitor comes to your site? Remember, SEO (including voice search) isn’t about just getting visitors to your site. It’s also about keeping visitors engaged. If visitors have a terrible mobile experience and have a high bounce rate with a low average time on page, then your rankings will drop in the search results pages. That’s why you’ll need to make sure that your mobile experience is great for all users. This is especially true if you are (and you should be) preparing for the high ecommerce holiday shopping season.
#4 Use schema markupsSchema markups can help search engines like Google quickly find out the keywords and crucial information about your content. You can often see this with all types of content, including recipes: Above you can see not just the eye-catching image, but also the rating, votes, and other important details like cooking time and calories. With ecommerce, you can use rich snippets in the same way. Here’s what we see when typing in “apple ipad with retina display”: Only one result really stands out, and that’s one that is using schema markups, which are known as rich snippets. In this example, we see the average rating and the number of reviews. When search engines like Google can easily pull the information from your content, they can easily pass this along to searches to make your site stand out above your competition.
Wrapping UpWith these 4 tips, you’ll be much more able to stand out from your competition in multiple ways. After all, although voice search is soon set to make up 50% of all searches, not many of your competitors are focusing on it. That gives you the perfect opportunity to boost your rankings, increase your visitors and boost your ecommerce sales. Good luck!
About the AuthorBernard is a content marketer for Omnisend, the ecommerce marketing automation platform dedicated to helping ecommerce stores build strong, lasting relationships with their customers. He also has a passion for good research and helping ecommerce businesses with their multichannel marketing needs.
Why is User Experience Important?User experience is the opinion of consumers. Poor experience of a single customer has the ability to earn you a bad reputation and drive away potential buyers. Thus, more and more online businesses have started focusing on improving the look and feel of their e-stores. For example, when a WordPress designer thinks about bettering the experience of a client, selection of the right theme becomes a priority. Their concern is navigation, page layout and more, to support the website’s purpose. Similarly, when it comes to your WooCommerce store, your concerns should be –
- What can I do to help customers find the product they are looking for?
- How can I make their search and checkout experience smoother?
- How can I provide them personal attention?
When Does the Role of a Payment Gateway Come into Picture?When designing your WooCommerce store to improve user experience, payment gateways might be the last thing on your mind. But, a Woo store should be easy to use right from the homepage to the order completion page- and a payment gateway is one of the steps that fit in between the two extremes. The final step for a customer when making a purchase is- payment. And a payment gateway adds to the whole purchase experience. For a customer, every purchase is an investment. They want to be assured of a secure, trustworthy transaction. At the point of checkout, you don’t want them wondering about losing their money. Your payment gateway can ensure be the difference between a successful transaction and an abandoned cart. In order to give your customers a sense of security while making the payment, the following points should help –
- Usage of familiar logos – Customers with a fair experience of online shopping are well acquainted with the popular logos such as Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, etc.
- Clear messaging – If you are using an off-site payment method (we’ll come to it later), make sure you convey the message as clearly as possible to your customers. Being redirected to a different site to process the payment without prior notice, can worry your customers prompting them to abandon their cart.
- SSL certification – Make sure your payment gateway is SSL certified. It is a good idea to include the security logo as well.
How to Decide the Right Payment Gateway for Your Store?So the next step is deciding the right payment gateway, so as to ensure a flawless customer experience. A payment gateway can be either a hosted one or integrated via API. A hosted payment gateway redirects the customer to the gateway’s site in order to enter the payment information. Now, think of it this way. How would you feel if at a physical store asked you to go next door to make a payment? Would you consider it? Sending customers to another site is kind of the same, and it might have a negative impact on sales. But not always. What if you had to go to a bank to make a payment? You’d trust it, right? Hosted payment gateways work the same way.
- The biggest gain of hosted payment gateways is that the offsite provider is responsible for all PCI compliance and data security. Thus, you have one thing less to worry about and can start selling sooner.
- When the off-site payment gateways are popular, customers can trust them better (like PayPal, Stripe).
- Hosted payment gateways work well when you cater to different countries or currencies and can’t integrate all possible payment options on your site.
Going Modern or Classic?Then comes the decision to choose between “Modern” and “Classic” payment gateways. A modern payment gateway would enable you to start your store without much hassle as it doesn’t come with the requirement of setting up a merchant account. But, the downside is that they usually charge a larger per-transaction fee which might become a burden as your store grows bigger. Also, you should note that most of the Modern payment gateways send customers offsite to make the payments. Another criteria to be considered is the support for recurring payments. If you’re planning on selling subscription-based products, modern gateways are a wiser option, as they support automatic billing. Now, the good part is that there’s a wide number of popular WooCommerce payment gateway extensions for you to choose from. And you can view their features to choose between a “Classic” or “Modern” approach.
LastlyNow, based on your audience, your location, popular payment options as per trend, you have to make a choice between picking the right payment gateways to appease your customers. As a rule of thumb, multiple options are better than one. Also, it goes without mentioning that switching between payment gateways is not as painful as switching between eCommerce platforms. So, even if you change your mind, there’re always services available to help you along the way. 🙂 The most important point to remember is to provide your customers a seamless shopping experience to ensure more sales! Happy selling!
About the AuthorXAdapter is a company of problem-solvers actively seeking out innovative solutions to handle varied challenges in the eCommerce industry, with their primary focus being WooCommerce! Get to know all about them via their website or connect with them on twitter @XAdapter
Keep the Emphasis on Customer ServicePerhaps the most common myth about ecommerce is that personalized customer service becomes practically non-existent. True, there is something to be said about the lack of a physically present humans to answer questions or help choose a product. For one, just the notion of having to call a support line and wait on hold is enough to frustrate any customer these days. However, this does not mean a customer should be lost every time they are unsure or have a query. In fact, there are plenty of methods and channels online stores can use to actually improve customer service while selling online. The key to providing stellar ecommerce customer service is simply being timely in responding. One of the best ways to achieve this is with live chat. A Zendesk study found that this medium led to 92% customer satisfaction and is the most preferred approach to customer support. Aside from instantaneous responses, the biggest advantage of using live chat is agents are able to assist multiple customers at once, as opposed to just one at a time with voice. Velaro is a fantastic live chat tool with features designed specifically for ecommerce. Using the software, you are given reports on engagement levels, workflows, routing, and security. If you run multiple websites, you can manage all of your live chat functions in one centralized platform. Keep in mind, customer service can expand beyond the actual website. The Sprout Social Index recently found that social media has emerged as the second most important channel for consumer complaints now: As a result, many businesses are putting social media to good use as a vehicle for communicating with their customers. For example, if you go to Finish Line’s Facebook page, you easily notice the option to start a chat with them: Ultimately, for ecommerce brands to be successful in customer service, they must be easy to reach. Impatience is a common trait in today’s consumers and they are quick to move on if needs aren’t being met.
Adapt your Supply Chain StrategyThe supply chain is the foundation of both online and offline retail. In any form of this concept, the need and susceptibility to adapt will always be a critical part of the process. Ecommerce has brought gargantuan change to this area of business operations. In today’s highly competitive landscape, any lapse in judgement can result in huge problems and harm the bottom line. Therefore, having a flawless supply chain strategy is imperative. There are many components that make up this entity. For ecommerce, there are six major factors to consider.
- Inventory cost – The total cost of storing everything you sell
- Valuation – How much the items in your inventory are worth and puts a value on your major assets
- Quality control – Finds potential inefficiencies throughout the manufacturing stage
- Sales channels – The primary outlets via which goods are sold to consumers
- Warehousing – The entire process of how your inventory is packed, stored, and shipped
- Fulfillment – How well demand is being met and orders are being closed
Personalize the ExperienceAnother major misconception about ecommerce businesses is they aren’t able to provide personalized shopping experiences. In reality, personalization has just taken on a different meaning and is absolutely vital for success. In fact, an Infosys report revealed that 86% of shoppers admitted that personalization plays a major role in their purchase decisions. Businesses can switch out the friendly smiles in a physical store with things like targeted product recommendations and relevant promo codes. Amazon has been doing this successfully for years, with the help of machine learning and automation. Essentially, ecommerce brands can gather data on shoppers’ browsing behavior by analyzing their interactions with the site, and use algorithms to provide suggestions tailored to individual interests. If you do it right, you can isolate buying habits and alter your messaging to provide a unique brand experience to each customer. A tool that can help in this area is Windsor Circle, a lifecycle automation software designed for the likes of predictive marketing and customer retention. It can be integrated with a wide range of ecommerce and email marketing platforms to provide personalized shopping interactions through the use of detailed analytics. The trick to creating authentic, individualized experiences comes down to the ability to put the right content in front of the most interested eyes. Businesses now have the means to do so automatically. That being said, ecommerce businesses are actually in a better positon to provide a more meaningful retail environment that accurately points customers in the right direction.
Final ThoughtsWhile ecommerce may not exactly be ramrodding retail, it’s constantly changing the status quo and finding new ways to achieve success. However, the foundational tactics practiced throughout centuries of brick-and-mortar business operations will always hold merit, and it’s important to keep them close. Advancements in tech only find ways to re-define the core processes. Retailers need to stay on top of what their customers want and do more of what works for them!
About the AuthorTracy Vides is a digital strategist who works with startups and ecommerce retailers on building their brands. Tracy is also a prolific blogger – her insights are regularly featured on Digitalist Mag, Business 2 Community and Usability Geek. Connect with her on Twitter @TracyVides for a chat anytime!
A Brief Overview of the Enterprise e-Commerce PlatformsThe enterprise e-commerce platform, or the enterprise e-commerce software caters to the many different aspects of a large business. It supports all the functionalities required by the store to set up, sell, and market all products and product variations. Unlike small stores, enterprise plans do not have limited bandwidths or a fixed number of visitors; they can have unlimited traction fluctuations without causing any server issues. The most popular enterprise e-commerce platforms used today are Shopify Plus, Magento Enterprise, and BigCommerce Enterprise. There are two predominant methods of setting up e-commerce enterprise solutions. The first is a ‘paid hosting + open source e-commerce platform + external, third-party plugins’ approach, while the other is the ‘self-hosted e-commerce platform + integrated plugins’ approach.
Paid Hosting + Open Source e-Commerce PlatformMore specifically, in the first approach, you need to choose a hosting plan, a domain name, and then build your e-commerce store with the open source platform you have chosen. Here you are responsible for the security and maintenance of your website and have complete backend access to the core website. Consequently, using this method requires a certain degree of familiarity with web development and coding, for better website customization. Magento’s Enterprise Edition falls under this category.
Self Hosted e-Commerce PlatformIn the second method, the self-hosted e-commerce solution allows you complete freedom to build your store without necessitating separate hosting plans. It ensures that you become free from the site maintenance and security hassles of the website, making operations easy and user-friendly. On the downside, however, you have no access to your databases or the back-end of the website and have to rely completely on the software’s development team for the upkeep of your store. BigCommerce Enterprise and Shopify Plus work with this module of business development. Each of the individual enterprise e-commerce solutions has its own advantages and drawbacks, in terms of scalability, ease of use, operational features, and other, peripheral functionalities. The platform can be selected based on your technical expertise, budget, and the potential customization you require. Despite choosing your e-commerce platform wisely and as per your store’s ever-increasing needs, every store is confronted with various issues. Whether it is a matter of scalability or maintaining your website’s SEO ranking, there are six challenges every large-scale e-commerce website owner faces. These include:
The 6 Challenges of Enterprise e-Commerce
#1 Inadequacy in ScalingMega-e-commerce companies often have trouble scaling their e-commerce platform with the increase in their product portfolios. Enterprise-level e-commerce includes organization of thousands of SKU’s, considering multiple products, product variations, and variable costs, which need to be updated regularly. In addition, the company has to incorporate separate methods of scaling to be able to cater to B2B and B2C businesses equally successfully. Quite a lot of the industries in the market tank due to the inability of their website to keep up with the exponential increase in sales.
#2 Cart AbandonmentOne of the major problems that enterprise e-commerce faces today is cart abandonment. The average cart abandonment rate today is nearly 70%, due to a multitude of reasons such as high shipping costs, complicated checkout processes, insufficient payment methods, and more. One of the strongest sources of revenue for enterprise-level businesses is the millennial population. However, this age group has increasingly started using e-commerce websites to search for and compare products only for ‘window shopping’ and buying the actual product from a brick-and-mortar store. To mitigate the losses due to cart abandonment, enterprises will have to deploy new, creative solutions to retain consumer interest and convince customers to complete the purchase, thereby increasing the conversion rates.
#3 Increasing CompetitionA very real challenge for large-scale enterprises is the increasing competition in e-commerce. The sheer number of websites providing similar products at competitive rates requires the conglomerates to keep on their toes and devise radical marketing strategies to maintain their market share. The increase in the number of local players further drives the competition, as each of the players tries to gauge the market and improve their presence in the market.
#4 Cross-platform integrationMobile shopping has become an integral part of e-commerce, with a large chunk of the younger generation browsing for products on their smartphones. Due to this rapidly rising demand for mobile integration, e-commerce giants have started taking mobile optimization and app customization seriously. However, there is more to mobile optimization than just selecting a responsive theme for the website. The problem with enterprise-level businesses is that their efforts for mobile optimization seem half-hearted at best, too little too late. The need of the hour for enterprise e-commerce companies is to actively develop responsive sites with cross-platform integration to see a significant increase in their conversion rates.
#5 LocalizationLocalization indicates tweaking the website to suit the requirements of the area it is functioning in. The local connect is extremely important as it persuades the customer to trust the seller enough to complete the purchase. Insufficient localization was one of the challenges that e-commerce giant Amazon faced when it tapped into the Asian markets. Nevertheless, the lack of payment methods necessitated Amazon to introduce the ‘Cash on Delivery’ option for the Asian and South-Asian markets, to become a significant shareholder. Quite a lot of the independent enterprise-level e-commerce businesses suffer due to lack of localization, as it limits the scope of expansion for the company within the market. Companies are faced with the challenge to identify the shortcomings of their local stores and utilize the local resources to their benefit to maximize profits.
#6 Shipping and Delivery IssuesShipping and delivery can be a logistical nightmare for enterprise-level businesses if handled incompetently. As seen with the hurdle of localization above, shipping and delivery methods need to be adjusted as per the ways and means available to a specific area. Organizing infrastructure and manpower for timely delivery across an entire continent is no mean feat. Conglomerates have a tendency to over-promise ETA’s for product delivery, which can result in dissatisfied customers and reduced sales. Recruiting the local population as a support mechanism can ensure a smooth supply chain and efficient deliveries in optimum time.
Winding UpThe success story of every enterprise-level e-commerce business is its own. Here we have listed only a few of the common trials and tribulations that practically every company has to go through. Nevertheless, each of these challenges can be overcome with proper planning and a strong marketing and operational strategy. Facing the said challenges is a learning curve for the company and can be a stepping stone to greater success if an appropriate solution is devised to overcome these hurdles! Have an experience you would like to share? Let us know in the comments section below! Are you searching for an Enterprise eCommerce solution? Get in touch with our Enterprise Experts today!
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 & Samsung As 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: Amazon Amazon 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!