Over the course of my time with Digital Next, there has been a lot of talk about Black Friday. It has become apparent just how important it is for businesses to prepare for the event. With Digital Next already discussing the many ways in which businesses can benefit from this, it just goes to show that preparation should be well underway.

– Ella Worthington BA (Hons)

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On 23rd November, Black Friday will hit the stores once again. With preparation for the biggest shopping event of the year in full swing, it is important for your business to have a digital marketing strategy put in place.

 

WHAT IS BLACK FRIDAY?

Over the years, Black Friday has become one of the biggest shopping events of the year. Although it originated in the US, the UK have caught on with most UK retailers now taking part. During this time period, retailers offer huge discounts on a wide variety of products in order to persuade consumers to spend as much money as they can.

Each year this shopping-fest seems to get bigger and bigger with consumers spending incredible amounts of money. After all, everyone loves a bargain.

 
As a consequence of this, the UK event has become increasingly focused around the online, making it easier for consumers to compare prices and products in the comfort of their own home. We can see this as internet sales now account for 17% of the retail sector.

 

WHY YOU NEED TO PREPARE

It’s more important than ever for businesses to prepare themselves as online shopping plays a huge role in Black Friday’s mania, with a whopping £1.4 billion being spent in 2017. Large retailers have admitted to preparing up to 12 months in advance.

Black Friday Preparation

As a consequence of this, Black Friday can leave a lasting effect on a business throughout the rest of the year. When a customer visits an online site and has a positive experience, they are likely to return, increasing a business’s audience. This just goes to show how it’s essential for businesses to approach Black Friday with a well thought-out strategy, which takes months of planning and organising.

Retailers see Black Friday as a critical chance to boost their market share, as we see many shops gaining their biggest profits of the year during Black Friday. This just goes to show that as there is so much online traffic throughout this time period, businesses need to make the most out of it.

Here are a few of the many ways in which we can help you prepare for Black Friday:

 

WEB DESIGN AND EXPERIENCE

Having a site that is reliable and easy to use is a major factor to look at due to the influx of traffic on Black Friday. When it was first popularised, websites crashed under the weight of the traffic as consumers rushed to bag the best deals possible. Having the preparation in place means that your website won’t be crashing, thus not losing any business.

There has been a shift recently as mobile devices were used to make 36% of online sales last year, generating more than a billion pounds. Therefore, mobile user experience is just as important as web user experience.

 

EMAIL MARKETING

Although consumers are constantly bombarded with emails from retailers persuading them to take advantage of their latest promotions, Black Friday is a time where they are paying close attention to the sales being sent directly to their inbox. As email drove 18.1% of online sales last year, email marketing is one of the key components to getting the word out there.

black friday sale

 

SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media is one of the biggest driving forces for Black Friday offers. It is important in building hype leading up to Black Friday, giving social media followers a glimpse of the upcoming sales. This encourages consumers to plan their shopping strategy whilst putting your business at the top of their list.

black friday social media

It is important to utilise all social media platforms when thinking about Black Friday as this allows businesses to reach a larger number of audiences.

 

SUMMARY

Black Friday 2018 is right around the corner, so why not save yourself the stress and start preparing now. If you think our services may be useful for you and your business, get in touch today.

 

Magento 2, the highly popular ecommerce platform, has recently released its latest version, Magento 2.2, which brings forth a number of great new features to improve the overall experiences of webstore owners and their customers.

While Magento 2 was initially released back in 2015 as a beta version, there have been a couple of updates released since that have helped to improve functionality and user experience. Following the latest release, Magento users are being urged to migrate their online stores to the updated platform in order to offer a more stable and secure ecommerce environment to run their business. As such, here we take a look at the transition from Magento 1.X to 2.0 to 2.2 to see what all the fuss is about!

Magento

With over 200,000 online stores live on the Internet, Magento accounts for around 29% of the ecommerce market with WordPress’ WooCommerce plugin following closely behind with around 26% of the marker share. Consequently, it should come as no surprise to find that Magento is hugely popular for business owners that sell products online.

In large part, this is due to the advanced out-of-the-box features and capabilities that Magento possesses, as its powerful platform allows for seamless store management and the ability to house thousands of products without compromising on performance. However, given that the Magento platform is almost 10 years old, there are certain aspects that have become outdated over the years which have been resolved in scheduled updates to the core platform. However, updates can only do so much, and after 7 years Magento released the much-awaited 2.0 to revolutionise the online shopping experience.

Magento 2.0

Magento 2.0 is the latest full version of the leading enterprise-level ecommerce platform that’s been overhauled to offer the most user-friendly and scalable solution available. Having taken years to develop and deploy, the Magento team have stripped down and rebuilt the entire system from scratch in order to develop a more dedicated platform for B2C/B2B online sellers. So what are the main features of Magento 2.0?

  • Open & Flexible Architecture – Easier customisation, extensive API integrations and extensions.
  • Engaging Shopping Experiences – All-new checkout that improves conversion rates and customer experiences.
  • Enhanced Business Agility & Productivity – Seamless management and simple user adoption with its intuitive interface and business tools.
  • Scalability & Performance – 50% faster page load times for better experiences and conversion rates, with support for more concurrent updates.
  • Secure Payments – Improved security with out-of-the-box integrations with PayPal, Braintree, Authorize.net, WorldPay and CyberSource.
  • Easier Maintenance & Upgrades – Upgrades and site maintenance is easier than ever for a more future-proof investment.

In the main, Magento 2’s improved performance and host of new features aim to boost conversion rates and business agility, whilst offering unmatched flexibility and customisation options with its open source setup. However, while Magento 2 is a superb advancement on its predecessor, it’s still far from the finished article and newer versions are being rolled out periodically with further improvements and bug fixes.

Magento 2.2

Since the new functionalities and features of Magento 2.2 were presented in a webinar back in June 2017 before being released the following September, many online storeowners have been busy migrating their websites from Magento 1 to Magento 2 as a natural progression to a newer version. Not only that, but running your online store on the most recent updated version of Magento will ensure system security is at its highest and reduce the susceptibility of cyber attacks via known vulnerability exploits. However, once a website has migrated onto Magento 2, it will need to be updated to the new 2.2 version to benefit from the long list of new features available. Far more weighted towards B2B Commerce, Magento 2.2’s new features include the following:

B2B Functionality

  • Company Account Management – B2B merchants can support clients’ accounts in multiple organisational structures and corporate buyers can use self-service tools for account management without a merchant.
  • Quote Engine – Convert a cart to a quote with consummate ease without the need2 to send an order, so the merchant can respond with prices and comments.
  • Credit Purchases for B2B – Credit purchases are now available as a payment option, with adjustable credit control for merchants working with multiple companies.
  • Customisable Catalogues & Prices – Merchants can customise the products, categories and price lists to show different information for different companies.
  • Updated API for simple ERP integrations – Web APIs are available for all new features with a bulk Tier Price API enabling merchants to update large quantities of product prices quickly.

Development Tools

  • Performance Toolkit – Profiles update, faster generation, support for B2B entities and much more.
  • Minimised Core Around Plugins – Makes debugging plugins on the core far easier since less clicks will go through the various flows.
  • Improved Deployment Flow – Configurations can be exported through different environments, with product environments being upgraded in less than 1 minute.

Security Updates

  • Unserialize() Calls Removed – Unserialize() calls have been removed completely except in critical performance code, in order to prevent security vulnerability issues.
  • Upgraded Hashing Algorithm – To increase security for sensitive values.

Other Features

  • Extended Reports – An advanced reporting module provides comprehensive reports with valuable data stored in graphs to illustrate performance.
  • Advanced Fraud Protection – A new integration with Signifyd will provide the opportunity to identify and reject roguish orders with 100% chargeback protection.
  • Improved Indexing – Customers are able to browse and buy in the store while indexing.
  • Technical Stack Updates – Support for PHP 5.6 and Varnish 3 has been dropped, with PHP 7.1, MySQL 5.7, Redis 3.2 and Varnish 5 support will be added with “Grace” and “Saint” by default.

One of the major challenges faced by B2B businesses is converting visitors into customers online, and this is what Magento 2.2 aims to eliminate. By offering a user-friendly method of transforming traditional (offline) businesses into online businesses, Magento 2.2 is now the perfect platform to house and grow both B2B and B2C websites. With a host of new features and improved all-round performance, there’s never been a better time to make the switch to Magento 2.2.

With Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas all on the horizon, it’s important that both your business and your website are ready for the busiest period of the year. It’s also crucial that your website is functional all year round, as adverts and other seasonal trends can provide spikes in sales and traffic. Your online marketing must be spot on if you want to make a difference to your sales and traffic.

The Bank of England revealed that a typical household spends around £2000 a month. However, in the run up to Christmas the same household will spend £500 more in the month of December, and it’s not just on presents. We eat out more and drink more too; well, it is the season to be merry after all! On top of that, in 2016, the UK spent a huge £1.23bn on Black Friday. Suddenly, the pressure mounts on having a website and an online marketing strategy that performs to its optimum.

As Black Friday has expanded to include Cyber Monday, some retailers are also offering deals in the run-up and aftermath of the huge sale events too. This means your business will experience busier and busier periods each year. So, how do you make sure you can handle the influx of extra customers in your busy periods?

Increasing conversions

It’s no use driving people to your website and increasing traffic if they aren’t converting. The customer journey can sometimes be a long one, and you’ve got to keep them interested until they have made it to their basket and paid. In other words, customers can drop off your site at a number of different points, so it’s in your interest to make sure it’s a seamless and easy path from browsing to buying.

Even the smallest tweaks to your website and online marketing can result in a higher conversion rate, which is perfect if you’re building up to a busy period. One of the key places to start is your mobile website.

Two-thirds of mobile users prefer a website to using an app, so making sure your website is mobile friendly is no longer a recommendation; it’s mandatory. Go a step further than just making sure your website has a responsive design by improving your mobile-specific SEO. This refers to things like localised search and device-specific speed optimisation.

Building trust

The public are becoming more savvy when it comes to online shopping and making a decision on a retailer. With this in mind, you should be doing everything you can to reassure your visitors that you are legitimate and trustworthy; it’s too easy for them to drop off your site and head straight to a competitor if they see something they aren’t sure of.

You can measure so many different metrics on your website to see performance, but trust isn’t one of them. Make sure your website has things like an ‘About Us’ page, links to your social media accounts and customer testimonials. This can prove to your customers that you are what you claim to be.

online marketing

A personalised experience

Personalising your service now goes further than just putting a customers’ name in the subject line of an email. As the capabilities of AI increase, your ecommerce store has a better chance of predicting your customers’ next steps and making it easier for them to take it.

Knowing your shoppers’ habits through online marketing metrics can mean you’re able to predict what they’re thinking of putting in their basket and putting the perfect products right in front of them. A live chat feature can be critical in giving your website a more personal feel, while using analytics to your advantage can help you to win business where you lost it in the past.

Easy-to-navigate UX

If you’re experiencing a high number of people abandoning their baskets, it can be for a number of different reasons. Most of the time it’s because the navigation on your website is too complicated or too long-winded to get to the right page. Customers are more demanding than ever before, and are looking for a smooth, fast process to get the things they want. User experience throughout the whole website should be seamless. You should also take into consideration stages such as registration and the payment process to ensure they are fine-tuned and faultless. The easier the buying process, the less time the customer has to abandon their basket!

This year Black Friday falls on November 25th, close to the end of the month, a month before Christmas and as always, promising to be a day of pure shopping madness. Last year it was estimated that in the UK alone, there was just under £1 billion spent over the Black Friday weekend.

With November 25th fast approaching, you might be running around like a headless chicken, trying to get your E-Commerce business ready for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Instead of losing sleep over the busiest day in the shopper’s calendar, take a look at our checklist and make sure your business is ready!

1. Don’t Look Back In Anger

Take a look at last year’s results (unless you are a new company, then skip this section, listen to the Oasis song and move on to the next step).

Not only will a review of how last year’s Black Friday went help your business, it will let you start keeping regular reviews of the busiest shopping period to show you what progress you are making. Instead of guessing which products sold, which didn’t, which parts of your website worked, or where the consumer journey was failed on your part, keep track with regular reviews.

Take a look at your analytics, talk to your team and really build a clear picture of the progress you made the year before.

2. Start Getting Excited!

If you really want your company to succeed during Black Friday, you don’t want people to be asking what you sell, what you do or where you are, you want them to be saying, “oh yes, I’ve heard about you!”

One of the best ways to get ahead of your competitors on Black Friday is to start building awareness with a campaign. Whether that means a brilliantly designed online campaign or simply sending Bob from sales to stand out in the street shouting about Black Friday, make it work for you.

From humorous email campaigns, “Amy was right, Go back to black, with a Black Friday Sale this year” to bold, bright and sales driven campaigns, you need to make sure that you are standing out from everyone else.

3. Launch Your Social Media Campaign

One of the best ways to get your customers involved is to launch social media adverts, campaigns and improve your presence.  The last thing you want is no one being excited about your product. Even if you sell portable toilets, or cat litter, there are people out there that are bound to be excited about it.

social media

You might be wondering what exactly social media can do for you, the answer is quite alot! You want brand exposure, at a cheaper cost than pay-per-click, and the ability to broadcast your content over as many channels as possible, you need social media!

Investing in a great social media campaign can not only advertise your brand, it can place it in front of the right target audience as well as allow you to build a greater relationship with your customers.

Thrive on Black Friday by thriving across all social media sites.

4. Don’t Abandon Ship, Or Your Shopping Carts

Abandoned shopping carts are a regular occurrence. Customers end up finding a better deal elsewhere, realising their bank card is not their friend, or losing interest in their product.

44% of customers abandoned their carts because of the shipping costs being too high. Obviously, if you are selling priceless arty statues that might take a bit of packing up before shipping, then these costs are hard to avoid. However, if you want to make a good impact on your customers, think about offering a reduced or non-existent shipping cost on top of your Black Friday sale.

On top of this, if your customer’s cart is still abandoned after 24hours you can even send them an email saying simply, “come back” like a lot of other companies have. These email reminders are great at reigning in those buyers on the fence about purchasing, a gentle push in the right direction never did anyone any harm.

Image result for misguided abandoned cart campaign

5. Time for the Test

No, we are not talking about an exam, GCSE’s are long gone and we are not asking you to redo them (Don’t worry!!). But, once everything with your site is up and running, your office elves are ready for the big day and the campaign has been launched, it is time to test, test and then test your site some more.

Try some trial purchases, check your analytics, talk to your website developers, and make everything as perfect as possible before the madness of November 25th begins.

On top of this checklist of last minute must-do’s before Black Friday, there are a couple of things to consider that can improve your E-Commerce site. It might be too late to implement them for this years Black Friday, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook them.

Is Your Site Mobile Friendly?

One of the many reasons that E-Commerce sites fail over the Black Friday period is that their sites are not mobile friendly. When you are on the bus, searching for your new bikini, bike or bath tub, you want to be able to purchase it there and then. You really will lose out if your customers have to get home, turn the computer on and then order from there instead of being to purchase on the go.

Wish Upon A…Website Wish List

According to research, it has been said that 99% of shoppers do not purchase at first glance. That moment of indecisiveness can cost you and your company a lot of money. If you have Mary shopping online for all her Christmas gifts, she isn’t necessarily going to want to spend all her money all at once. She is going to want to shop around a little, have a couple of glasses of wine and THEN make her decision about what to buy the kids for Christmas.

ecommerce wish list
If your website has a wish list feature you can not only save your customers the time and effort of scrolling back through all your products again when they revisit, you can also keep them interested for as long as possible and remind them of the products they were browsing weeks before. Father Christmas was on to something asking all the kids to make lists!

If you are struggling to make your website or campaign work and Black Friday is looming, contact Digital Next and we will get our experts on the case, but be quick – There’s only a few weeks left before the BIG cyber sale weekend!

F-Commerce (or Facebook Commerce) is essentially shopping through Facebook by means of an eCommerce store embedded within the social network. And, just as you’re probably thinking – ‘Who would buy something on Facebook, why not just visit their website?’- I’m going to explain why that’s a logical thought to have made, and why so many others have agreed so ferociously in the past. But, I’m also going to explain why social media marketing platform, F-Commerce, could potentially develop into a capable selling tool for SME’s and local businesses that need to expand their sales network and offer a more personal approach.

In the beginning

As part of Facebook’s aspiring eCommerce ambitions, they enabled a small selection of brands to display their available stock in a shop section and let the customers check out without having to leave the site. With the first item sold (a flower cake) back in 2009, it seemed like F-Commerce could be the ideal platform for the perfect shopping experience. However, when it was tested with a number of high-profile brands such as Banana Republic, GameStop, Gap and J.C. Penney in 2011, it went down like a lead balloon and they closed their stores within 12 months. For big brands, it seemed that there clearly wasn’t a market for selling products through Facebook because either; consumers feel comfortable in using the payment gateways, or it simply didn’t deliver a worthwhile return on investment (ROI).

Banana Republic F-Commerce store 2011

Via Acadaca

Therefore, it’s hardly a surprise to see why F-Commerce has been so widely criticised over recent years and why you’ve probably never heard of it, with some claiming it’s perhaps Mark Zuckerberg’s biggest failure to date. To coin a popular analogy of the time,

“Facebook felt like a party where you went hang out with your friends to chat and flirt. Now brands wanted to interrupt the party to get you to spend money on clothes, games, or flower cakes? No, thank you.”

But what if it wasn’t necessarily meant for big brands? And what if those ‘brands’ were your friends? Or, friends of friends? Does it still constitute interrupting the party if they’re also a part of it?

F-Commerce for SME’s & Local Businesses

“Optimising your experience on mobile is the number one priority for every retailer on the planet right now,” claims Wade Gerten from 8thBridge, but what if you don’t have the financial manoeuvrability to afford a new website?

FB Commerce

Via Business Insider

For some local businesses and SME’s, the affordability of a new mobile responsive website for their business in the early days would be out of the question. However, F-Commerce provides the ability for the merchant to sell their products through an all-improved Shopify platform, offering a more cost-effective system to grow their local business. In the long term, the natural progression should be on to a more powerful e-commerce platform such as Magento, but in the short-term, it could prove to be a useful tool for SME’s & local businesses.

FB Messenger

Via Business Insider

In addition to this, merchants are able to offer their customers a much more personal approach. Facebook by its very nature serves to connect people and form new relationships, so why can’t that extend to a merchant-buyer scenario?

Pages from R2_2015_speaker PPT Amazon Payments-2

Via PYMNTS

Much of the reason that consumers are sceptical to the idea of purchasing products through Facebook is as a consequence of low trust levels for the merchant they’re buying from (as they’re generally redirected to a third party site). However, if you’re looking to buy a product and you; have been recommended to buy from a particular seller; know the merchant personally; are able to communicate directly with them; then it’s likely that your trust levels of the transaction will be much higher. Not only that but by offering your products through Facebook as a merchant, then you’ll be able to interact and connect with buyers to offer them a great shopping experience with your business and retain their future custom.

F-Commerce for Larger Businesses

As mentioned earlier in this post, I’ve questioned whether F-Commerce is a suitable system for larger businesses given the evidential dislike of some the USA’s biggest brands back in 2011. However, the reason why these top brands didn’t see longevity in this endeavour is simply because it didn’t bring them the ROI that they initially thought they would receive. As such, they canned the idea pretty quickly, but since then many have reignited the F-Commerce flame with Facebook seemingly gearing up to give it another push.

GAP Facebook store

Via @UKGAP

Though the ROIs (in monetary terms) of F-Commerce sales may not be substantial enough for top brands, there is certainly much scope for success in the future as Facebook continues to dominate smartphone users’ time. Despite this, though, there are still many benefits offered to big brands that use F-Commerce now in terms of brand awareness, credibility, social influencers, increased online visibility and exposure, among others. Additionally, the integration of ‘Shop Now’ and ‘Buy’ call-to-action buttons into the ads now serve to direct consumers to their F-Commerce stores, rather than to a third party site, which could have a positive impact on conversion rates.

ASOS F-Commerce store

Moreover, even if their products aren’t being sold through F-Commerce, this doesn’t mean to say that it hasn’t played a part in the purchasing journey of their customers. Social referrals to a brand’s website are abundant for many businesses that have a vast social following, so by creating a store through F-Commerce the chances of attracting new customers even if they don’t convert through Facebook. Even companies with service-based offerings have taken to F-Commerce as a way to greater their reach and attract new customers, such as the example provided below.

Your Parking Space suggested F-commerce ad

The key point of all of this is that, with F-Commerce, you can’t just list your products/services and expect that you’ll automatically get new sales; you’ve still got to market it!

So does all of this mean to you?

In short, F-Commerce could be an efficient and cost-effective solution for many SME’s and local businesses that are looking to make their way in the online world. For larger businesses, the efficacy of F-Commerce doesn’t just rely on securing an ROI because this should come naturally when the store is marketed well, and as credibility and brand awareness is increased. As such, don’t perceive this as the be-all and end-all of social media marketing, it’s simply a cog in a broader digital strategy.

At Digital Next, we understand the importance of multi-channel marketing for businesses, so if you’re looking to market your business using social media marketing then why not give us a call to see how we can help!

Putting together a brief, coming up with initial ideas and actually launching a new eCommerce store is never going to be a simple task for any company. There are a huge number of variables to take into account.

Cost

Recently I have had a lot of people coming to me and asking for ‘cost effective eCommerce solutions’. Most of these companies already have some form of eCommerce presence and are looking to either grow or improve their online store.

The true definition of cost effective is ‘effective or productive in relation to its cost’. That statement could be seen in a number of different lights, but the key word for me is ‘effective’. For a new online store to be effective, it must perform well and for an eCommerce store to perform well, it must be designed, developed and marketed to the highest level.

One thing I will say is, if you are looking to launch a new eCommerce business and you wish to ‘cut cost’, then I strongly recommend keeping that phrase well away from your new website project.

ecommerce websites

Picking the Right Platform

I have seen too many companies cut corners and go ahead with projects that are not only going to lack in longevity, but will eventually force the respective company to redevelop their site within 12 months of having it built.

Most businesses will have different eCommerce requirements. Some will be regional, some national, some international and even global. Payment gateways, shipping requirements, ePos integration and stock management requirements will all vary. Therefore, all of those variables, plus more, need to be taken into account when looking at building an online store.

For an eCommerce based business, your online store is your product. Without a comprehensive online store, you will never sell the volumes of products that you wish to sell, it’s as simple as that. The design and structure of the site must be right to ensure conversions and an enjoyable user experience, not to mention the quality of the site build to ensure it is prepared for a marketing strategy to be plugged in.

There are hundreds of platforms out there to choose from, all with different pros and cons, and with different functionality sets and capabilities.

ecommerce projects

Getting it Right

The only way you can achieve all of the above is by choosing the right agency or developers to work with. They need to understand your goals as a business and have a solid understanding of your industry, to ensure that your website performs optimally once launched. So, before choosing your next eCommerce move, think about the bigger picture; your website needs to be more than just a website. It needs to be the centre of your business and online strategy.

You may think that setting up ecommerce websites is simple – all you have to do is search online for a design and hosting platform, sign up for a free trial, upload a few photos and a description per product, press publish and voila, an ecommerce website live on the web.

Alas an ecommerce website is not as simple as your standard blog website – there are additions and intricacies that need to be considered. Ecommerce means customers buying from you, it means processing payments safely and securely, along with accessing, using and storing customer data.

Before you reach this point, you need to attract attention to your website and entice people to buy. With consistent effort and an understanding of what drives ecommerce websites, you can have a vibrant and successful online business. Below are 4 mistakes commonly made on ecommerce websites:

Not Simple And Clear

It may sound slightly derogatory to think of your customers only needing a simple layout to your ecommerce website but the truth is that simplicity is strongly interlinked with buying psychology.

The customer wants to be able to navigate easily around an ecommerce website and they also want a payment process that is both secure and quick. This does not mean rushing someone into buying something, removing important steps such as reviewing their order and so on, it means offering a range of payment options that are known and trusted such as SagePay, ApplePay and PayPal etc. The process of buying needs to be clear, with defined steps that are not too cumbersome; neither should you have too many steps.

This simplicity and clarity applies to your whole site. There is no bigger turn off on an ecommerce website than a complex design, especially when combined with poor quality, low resolution product photos with minimal product descriptions that do nothing to entice your customer.

Not Optimised For The Customer

Just as the high street is a busy place, the online world of retail and ecommerce is even more competitive. Not only do you have competitors breathing down your neck with flash sales but you have search engines telling you what they do and do not like.

The icing on the cake is that you also need to appeal to your customers and for many failing ecommerce websites this is their big downfall.

First time visitors drive the majority of online conversions but these first time buyers are the most expensive acquisitions and those ecommerce sites that are failing are doing so because they are not encouraging repeat custom.

Essentially, an online website will work hard to snare a customer but don’t put in the same amount of effort to keep them. By looking at how larger brands do this, you can better understand how to effectively target your customers.

In most cases, it means capturing customer information, with the most basic being an email address so that you can offer discounts, notify them of upcoming sales and pre-sale events. This is a low cost form of advertising, made even better by the fact that you can personalise newsletter and emails to your customer.

Inaccurate Financial Analysis

New ecommerce websites usually trade at a loss initially until they reach economies of scale.

Even when they do have a glut of customers, new and returning ones, the finances are still under strain. There are many factors that nibble at the profit margin – inventories, payment gateway fees, postage and packaging, staff, advertising, fees for technological innovations to name but a few.

Unfortunately, a small business may work out their finances in the beginning and assume that the profit margin remains the same, only to find some weeks or possibly months later that they are making no money and still trading at a loss.

Accurate financial analysis should be something that an ecommerce business is constantly monitoring and calculating simply because the factors mentioned above are variable – they change all the time, sliding up and down the scale.

Unfortunately, coupled with this is the penchant to continually offer discounts and reductions in a misplaced effort to attract more customers. These events are not to be dismissed entirely but an ecommerce website should not be offering any kind of sale or reduction unless it has been accurately costed.

Not Being Transparent

People buy from websites they trust. But even big brands do things that annoy their customers which leads to all kinds of negative feedback and publicity.

Hidden extra costs or massive postage are two factors that will instantly annoy your customers. Take the costs that were, until recently, associated with cheaper airlines for example – buying your £20 air fare was all well and good but once check-in costs were added, along with fines for too-large cabin bags and suddenly your bargain airfare is a hell of a lot costlier. Customers were therefore annoyed and they felt duped. Being honest and fair in pricing policies is essential for any ecommerce website.

Work hard on the smaller details and your ecommerce website should fly!

Though as an industry we are well aware of the important and intrinsic role content plays in search strategy, its role in regard to the buying process and conversion path is a grey area for businesses who often struggle to see the worth of it when it comes to the buying and selling process. (more…)

It doesn’t matter if your business operates online or offline, without the trust and confidence of your customers, you can never hope to truly flourish and achieve your goals. As trust increases, so will your sales, it’s as simple as that!

The internet has given customers access to a wider range of options than ever before when shopping, so if you want customers to keep coming back to your shop, you need to do whatever you can to inspire their loyalty. Well, Google has come to the rescue once again, with its “Google Certified Shops” scheme.

What is the Google Certified Shops scheme?

If you’re shopping online and come across a retailer you haven’t heard of, it’s perfectly natural to be slightly cautious and maybe even sceptical of whether you can trust them. Google introduced the Google Certified Shops programme as a way to shine a light on some of the most reliable, trustworthy e-commerce websites around, making it easier for people to shop with confidence online.

Qualifying e-commerce retailers can display a Google Certified Shops badge on their site, which acts as a badge of honour of sorts, letting any visitors know that they can trust and rely on that store. When hovering over the badge, viewers will also see a range of useful information about the shop, including performance metrics and details about free purchase protection from Google.

Google is a brand name which is well known and trusted by people all around the world. Having their badge of honour on your website will have an instant effect on the opinions of those visiting your site – “Well, if Google trusts them, they must be a trustworthy retailer!”

What benefits does this have for e-commerce retailers?

The Google Certified Shops scheme benefits customers by highlighting trustworthy e-commerce retailers, but what about the retailers themselves, what benefits can they see from this? Why should they be pursuing approval from Google?

As we already mentioned, having a Google Certified Shops badge on your e-commerce site acts as a badge of honour, helping to build a feeling of trust around your brand. This, in turn, can lead to an increase in your conversions and sales, as well as an increase in the size of orders placed.

As well as helping to convert more visitors on your website, being a Google Certified Shop could also help increase the amount of traffic your website receives. The mark of authority given by the certified badge could help improve click-through rates on any paid search listings, as well as attracting customers who use Google Shopping.

The program is free to join, providing your e-commerce site can meet all of the relevant criteria set by Google. And with such an impressive list of potential benefits, why wouldn’t a business want to apply and try to increase their brand confidence?