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Top Tips Ecommerce Brands Can Steal from Amazon’s Model

Amazon’s dominance in the ecommerce sphere has become the stuff of legend. It’s both the most consistent innovator and the established industry leader, and often it can feel as if everyone else is just playing catch-up to it.

But to get to the heights they’ve achieved today, Amazon had to make a series of savvy business moves.

From their trailblazing use of machine learning and algorithms to their best-in-class membership program, it’s instituted policies and programs that has made it  the clear leader in it’s field. And you know what? There’s no harm in learning—or, yes, if you want to call it that, stealing—from the best.

Here are six ways that other brands can take a page out of the most successful playbook in ecommerce.

1 Personalize, personalize, personalize

Amazon’s personalized recommendation algorithm is among the best investments the company ever made. By grouping its customers’ interests and using the intersections to provide recommendations for similar items, Amazon creates an automatic, always-on, personalized upsell that makes customers feel more valued. Combined with its expansive Amazon PPC platform, the level of detail Amazon can target through its personalization engines is truly impressive.

Studies show that customers genuinely appreciate personalization and that it makes them more likely to convert. To add personalization to your ecommerce site, you can use a variety of methods and techniques, including:

  • Geotargeting tools to market to customers by their location
  • Weather- and season-based personalization
  • Tailored recommendations based on shopping and browsing data
  • Content recommendation algorithms
  • Retargeting and cart abandonment reminders

Ecommerce businesses have numerous choices for personalization software, including industry leaders like Monetate for retail and Cxense for digital media. But in a market with so many options, take some time to do the research and choose the one that’s right for your business.

2. Make it easy for customers to find what they need

Amazon’s success is built on a chain of conveniences: Its search is fairly easy to use, checkout process is painless and shipping is speedy. Each is important in its own way, but creating an optimized navigation and selection process is particularly foundational to its success.

Of course, Amazon has invested millions in its proprietary search algorithms, but you can improve your site’s navigability with a more modest investment in some key best practices:

  • Create useful, informative and original product descriptions that serve as a trusted guide for shoppers
  • Add autosuggest to your site search feature to allow shoppers to find what they’re looking for more quickly and accurately
  • Provide easy-to-use navigational tools such as category buttons or drop-down menus
  • Use faceted search and product filtering options for customers who want a more browsing-focused experience
  • Create visually rich search results pages that include high-res images of items
  • Use cookie retargeting to remember users’ preferences (there’s personalization again!)

3. Offer A meatier loyalty program

Amazon Prime might be the best deal around as far as premium membership programs go. For just $12.99 per month, you’ll get streaming video, streaming music, Whole Foods discounts and, of course, the legendary two-day free shipping. What’s not to like?

That’s not to say that most businesses will be able to offer the same smorgasbord of benefits that Amazon does. The company’s incredibly wide reach allows them to pack a lot of value into a single service, and its abundant cash flow helps it absorb the high costs of these services. But it is worth asking if your loyalty program can offer more to your customers. Consider some techniques to add variety and value to your loyalty program, including:

  • Reward forms of customer engagement other than buying, such as watching a video or signing up for an email list
  • Look into teaming up with other businesses to offer co-branded rewards
  • Create a referral system that rewards customers for recommending your business to their friends
  • Offer different options for customers to cash in their rewards
  • Create values-based loyalty program incentives such as donations to a cause

4. Make checkout a breeze

Cart abandonment is among the most vexing problems of ecommerce for many retailers. In one study on why customers abandoned their carts, 34 percent cited being asked to create an account and 26 percent said the checkout process was too long and complex. That’s one area in which Amazon excels. Not only does it allow guest checkout, but it breaks the checkout process down to its most essential components and even allows one-click ordering.

It’s surprising how often ecommerce retailers don’t follow simple best practices of checkout design. Whether or not cart abandonment is a problem for you, ecommerce websites can always benefit from some checkout streamlining, including:

  • If possible, allow customers to check out without creating an account.
  • Provide clear instructions for filling in all required fields.
  • Don’t ask the customer to fill in unnecessary fields.
  • Show the customer where they are in the checkout process and allow them to navigate freely forward and backward.
  • Set up your site to send automatic follow-up and tracking emails.
  • Make sure that your mobile checkout is just as fast and effective as the desktop site.

5. Create time-sensitive offers

From Prime Day to Cyber Monday and beyond, Amazon knows how to light a fire under the customer to take action. It even offers a rotating selection of daily Lightning Deals, as well as frequent sales on e-books. These limited-time offer strategies help maintain customer engagement by keeping shoppers checking the site more frequently to see what’s new, and it encourages conversions by reminding customers that the deal won’t last.

These are great strategies to borrow, and they’re some of the easiest to implement. You might even be able to do it with the tools you’re already using. Email marketing is a good platform for time-sensitive offers since it allows your brand to speak to the consumer directly. Social media can also be a good platform for this kind of offer since it allows you to situate your offer as part of a timeline and run your ads automatically during certain time periods.

6. Focus your resources on the customer’s experience

For all its many bells and whistles, Amazon’s front end is based around a relatively simple concept: make sure the customer’s experience is easy, fast and logical. When your team is designing a new website UI or UX element for your ecommerce experience, remember to keep these goals in mind. What seems like an easy option for someone with inside knowledge of the products and site might be intimidatingly complex for someone without—so make sure that you’re designing with the customer in mind.

Amazon has created the standard against which all ecommerce experiences are judged—but for an ecommerce entrepreneur, that should be a motivating factor rather than a discouraging one. By making smart choices and taking the elements that make sense for your ecommerce business, you can borrow a little of that Amazon magic and your customers will love you for it.

Author Bio: Ron Dod is the Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer at Visiture.

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6 Steps To Creating An Ecommerce Checkout Page That Converts

The checkout page is the final stage of your customer’s online buying journey, but is arguably the most important one. It is where they will confirm their purchase, meaning another user you can safely say has ‘converted’ into a sale. Although ads, landing pages and everything that comes before the checkout are just as important to moving the customer along the purchase funnel, the checkout is your store’s moment of truth.

At the start of 2019, the Baymard Institute aggregated results from 41 studies to work out an average figure for ecommerce cart abandonment rate. It was stated within the report that the average figure stands at 69.57%. This means that only an approximated 30% of users who add items to their cart and reach your checkout page will end up purchasing.

Considering this figure, there is no need to freak out over a seemingly large proportion of people abandoning your site on the checkout page.

Why do users abandon ship on the checkout page?

According to US consumer research, some of the top reasons for abandoning a cart on the checkout page are as follows:

  • Shipping rates become added on to the total price of the order, and it gets too expensive.
  • Customers want to reach the checkout page to know your final price, before heading to other sites to compare.
  • The order did not qualify for free shipping.

Customers should be expected to shop around for the best deals, so include a feature that will keep yours front of mind, or even prevent them from needing to look elsewhere. They also won’t be best pleased if unexpected costs rear their ugly head during the checkout process. Apart from these more obvious fixes, what else can be done to ensure a well-converting checkout page?

How to design a killer checkout page

There are definitely things you can implement in order to improve your chances of increasing checkout page conversion, however. Let’s take a look at some of the most well-researched tactics.

#1) Test a single-page checkout

Checkout processes that span several pages are more at risk of losing the customer. It is well-known that the more clicks a customer needs to make, the more likely they are to drop off. If you can work product, shipping, and payment information into the one page, you might be onto a winner.

6 Steps To Creating An Ecommerce Checkout Page That Converts

If you must have a multi-page checkout for whatever reason, give your shopper a visual progress indicator to show them what step they’re in. This at least gives them some sense of how many steps they have left in the checkout process, alleviating any frustration over the multi-step interface.

#2) Make sure the checkout is a secure experience

With more people becoming increasingly aware of online fraud, security signals are your best bet for ensuring a potential buyer isn’t thrown off by fears over their data. Some of the security features most people would look for on a product page include the padlock symbol in the HTML bar, or security badges from the likes of McAfee.

With almost half of Americans having fallen victim to credit card fraud over the last five years, you need to make sure that your checkout page is a place where everyone can feel their payment details and personal data are secure.

A secure checkout experience fosters trust, which is one of the pillars of conversion.

#3) Give the option of a guest checkout

By not forcing users to create an account with you, you can eliminate the problem caused by the second largest bar in the chart below.

6 Steps To Creating An Ecommerce Checkout Page That Converts

As tempting as it is to gather as much information about the people who browse your site, you can collect email addresses later. Showing users a sign-up page just before they are about to checkout is a huge disruption, and something which a large portion of people aren’t prepared to go through.

#4) Be flexible with your payment options

It won’t serve you well only to offer payment via one type of card. If a user wants to purchase a product but they cannot see their preferred payment method listed, they likely won’t take their interest any further. Make sure to accommodate alternative payment options like PayPal or Stripe – these are increasingly popular.

#5) Limit form fields to only necessary information

If you do present your shopper with a form to fill, only include the important bits. A customer that catches a scent of unnecessary form fields for advertising metric gain, is only going to repay you by closing their browser. Keep things limited to name, delivery information and email address.

#6) Save your upsells for afterwards

Post-purchase upsells are given that name for a reason. You really don’t want to distract a customer on the brink of purchase with a couple of different offers, before they have even finalized the primary transaction. This could only end up clouding their vision and sending them off to other sites in the name of comparison.

Testing is crucial

None of the tips mentioned throughout this article are guaranteed quick-fixes to your checkout page’s conversion rates. Simply put, they are well-researched ideas which have been proven to raise checkout conversion rates on many ecommerce sites. In order to achieve the same effect on your site, monitoring key statistics while you implement and test changes will be the answer.

To get a clear idea of how your changes perform, ensure that you test mobile performance as well as desktop. Many people now browse ecommerce stores from their mobiles, so you will want to nail down the checkout page on this platform too.

Author Bio: Ellie Batchiyska is a PR Coordinator for Conversion Giant, a digital marketing agency that specializes in conversion rate optimization for a variety of ecommerce clients across the U.S.

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Tips For Launching A Successful Multi-Vendor Ecommerce Marketplace

Today, you can buy and sell anything online. Amazon is one of the best examples of an online platform where you can buy and sell both physical and digital products. Inarguably, digitization is the superpower behind this on-going trend.

According to BrizFeel’s 2018 research report, 57% of people prefer to shop online. There are several reasons why people prefer online shopping over the offline option, some of which include price transparency, better customer service, and convenience of ordering.

For the aspiring entrepreneurs who are still dreaming of becoming a successful entrepreneur in the ecommerce industry, building an online multi-vendor marketplace is a profitable and prominent business idea. The idea is even more lucrative if you don’t manufacture any special and unique goods.

The unprecedented success of multi-vendor marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba isn’t hidden from anyone. According to Internet Retailer’s report, the sales on these multi-vendor marketplaces accounted for 52% of global online retail sales in 2018.

However, starting a multi-vendor ecommerce marketplace is not a walk in the park. Entrepreneurs face two major challenges when building a multi-vendor marketplace—1) when finding a cost-effective platform and 2) when figuring out ways to attract vendors to their marketplace. I will discuss in detail about the two challenges in the later part of this post.

First, let’s understand how a multi-vendor marketplace business model is better than a single-vendor ecommerce store model.

Benefits of A Multi-Vendor Marketplace Over A Single-Vendor Store

What are the benefits to the Marketplace Owner?

  • No inventory management headache
  • Plenty of sellers with different products
  • Large customer base
  • Commission on each product’s sale

What are the benefits to Sellers?

  • Personal dashboard for each seller
  • No web-store setup cost
  • No headache of marketing
  • Wider target audience means more sales

What are the benefits to Customers?

  • Variety of products from different sellers
  • Purchases at competitive prices with comparison of products’ pricing at different sellers
  • Better shopping experience
  • Improved customer service

Types of Multi-Vendor Marketplaces

B2B Online Marketplaces

On B2B online marketplaces, businesses sell their products or services to other businesses at wholesale price.  Alibaba is a reputable B2B marketplace.

B2C Online Marketplaces

Amazon, Flipkart, and MakeMyTrip are a few of the well-known examples of B2C online marketplaces. On B2C marketplaces, sellers from different industries or regions sell their products or services across demographics.

C2C Ecommerce Marketplaces

C2C marketplaces are those where customers sell directly to other customers. OLX is one of the best examples in this category.

Horizontal Marketplaces

Horizontal marketplaces can be B2B or B2C. On a horizontal marketplace, you can find products under different categories from different sellers. Amazon is one among the best examples of a horizontal marketplace.

Vertical Marketplaces

Vertical marketplaces can also be B2B or B2C but on these kinds of marketplaces, you will find a specific category of products from a particular seller.  The audience size on vertical marketplaces is narrower as compared to that on horizontal marketplaces. Uber & Airbnb fall under the category of a vertical marketplace.

Revenue Models for Multi-Vendor Marketplaces

One question that every multi-vendor marketplace owner asks is, “How will I earn money?”

Therefore, I’ve listed below the best possible revenue generation channels for a multi-vendor ecommerce marketplace:

Subscription

You can charge a monthly or yearly subscription fee from sellers to sell on your marketplace.

Feature Products

You can charge a certain fee from sellers who are interested in featuring their services or products on the home page of your website.

Commission

Amazon or Flipkart use this revenue model. It helps you earn commission on every product sale from a seller.

Sell Your Own Products

Again as Amazon and Flipkart do, you can start selling your own products at your marketplace.

Advertisement Channels

Apart from the above, you can earn big bucks by adopting different advertising methods such as Affiliate Products, Banner Ads, and Adsense Ads.

How to Start a Multi-Vendor Marketplace?

Once you find your ecommerce business niche, the next step is to build the online marketplace.

There are many tested solutions in the market for starting a multi-vendor marketplace. If you have time, money, & sound technical understanding, you can hire a web design and development company to build your online marketplace.

However, many startups and entrepreneurs prefer to choose a ready-to-launch multi-vendor marketplace platform instead of hiring a custom web development company. Readymade marketplace solutions are a cost-effective, scalable, and easy to use option, especially for those who don’t have time to deal with programming and technical matters.

YoKart is one of the best multi-vendor marketplace platforms that provide a number of built-in features while ensuring great flexibility. Among all the readymade multi-vendor ecommerce platforms, YoKart is the most cost-effective marketplace solution. Before making a final call, you must choose to try a demo.

Basic Features of a Multi-Vendor Marketplace

  • Order tracking
  • Single page checkout
  • Coupons/ discounts
  • Multiple payment options
  • Mobile apps
  • Location-based search
  • Reviews & ratings
  • Import & export (for sellers)
  • Vendor dashboard
  • Product catalog (for sellers & Admin)
  • Analytic & reporting
  • Multiple administrative accesses

Note: The feature list can be expanded as per a business’s requirements.

How to Attract Vendors to Your Multi-Vendor Marketplace:

Once you have launched your ecommerce marketplace successfully, another big challenge is how to attract vendors to your multi-vendor marketplace.  I am sharing a few quick tips that will certainly help you to get more vendors on your marketplace:

  • First, run surveys through online polls or go to the market yourself to understand sellers’ pain points in the traditional market.
  • Share your business idea with sellers. Help them understand how your web platform can solve their problems.
  • Show them the other benefits such as wider audience reach and increased sales.
  • Start running social media or email marketing campaigns to approach sellers who are already associated with other web platforms. Highlight to them the benefits of selling on your ecommerce marketplace.
  • Conduct training sessions to make the sellers aware about your marketplace features.
  • Offer zero subscription or commission charges in early days.
  • Share your sellers’ success stories on different platforms to encourage other sellers to partner with you.
  • Try other offline marketing techniques like distributing pamphlets, investing in hoarding ads, and attending trade fairs to build relations with other merchants.

If you have any other tips to share, write to us in the comments section.

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AOV vs. LTV: Why Customer Lifetime Value Matters More Than You Think

There’s no question that most marketing techniques are focused on making sales larger and more frequent. Offering free shipping increases sales, bundling boosts order size, and ad retargeting brings your eCommerce audience back into the fold.

These are all great marketing tactics, and they work toward the same goal. But there’s one eCommerce metric that often goes unaddressed in marketing and sales: increasing the lifetime value of your customer.

The lifetime value (LTV) of a customer often goes overlooked because it is more complicated to incorporate into eCommerce metrics. But it is well worth your time, since LTV can better account for your long term profitability.

Short Term Boost of Revenue or a Long Term Boost of Profitability?

Average Order Value, or AOV, is the average amount of an individual customer order in your eCommerce store. In contrast, Customer Lifetime Value, or LTV, is a measure of the revenue or profit generated by a single customer over the course of their lifetime with your company. Gross LTV refers to the revenue from a single customer over their lifetime, while net LTV measures the profit earned from during that lifetime.

AOV is important because the higher your AOV is, the less effort you need to spend on finding new customers. You need fewer customers overall to make the same amount of profit. However, focusing solely on AOV can be a mistake since it gives a picture of short term revenue rathre than a long term boost of profitability.

LTV is important for eCommerce brands because it determines the worth of a customer over time rather than the worth of an individual purchase or interaction.

Companies with high customer LTVs need fewer customers to make a profit. This can help determine how much money can be spent on marketing geared towards new customers, as you’ll know how much they’re worth long term.

You’re more than likely already well versed in optimizing your storefront and marketing to boost AOV. But what can you do to maximize LTV?

8 Ways to Maximize LTV for Your eCommerce Brand

Make brand loyalty a primary business goal

If you start with the question “How can we keep customers coming back?” the potential answers will span marketing, sales, customer service and everything in between.

Make marketing channels more efficient

You don’t want your marketing efforts to feel like marketing to current customers. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t efficiently bring customers further down the funnel. Any marketing efforts should add value to customer interactions with your brand — birthday wishes and special offers in a targeted drip campaign comes to mind.

Make customer feedback a closed loop

Even negative reviews can lead to better ratings if they are handled correctly. Take the time to respond to reviews, find ways to make it right with dissatisfied customers, and incorporate feedback into your processes and products.

Make personalization a key part of your martech

Personalization is all about making the customer feel known and understood — by design, this keeps them coming back. If you don’t already have the tools in place to deliver personalized landing pages, drip emails and special offers that’s your first step.

Make customer service a business pillar

According to a recent survey, nearly 90 percent of companies expected to compete primarily on the basis of customer service. Customer experience is the new marketing. Your business with a customer isn’t done once they checkout — you need to continually show them why they should come back.

Make customer transactions easy

An easy checkout process will help increase AOV and an easy account creation process should increase LTV, as it gives you a foot in the door for returning customers. It’s as simple as that.

Make use of your customer data

 From how far down the funnel they make it to demographics, you have customer data at your fingertips. You should bring all of this together on a customer data platform to realize the benefits of acting on data in real time will offer your eCommerce brand. On the other side of the same coin, you should be using data analysis and big data to assess how each tweak you make — from paid campaigns to personalization — affects your profitability.

Make an investment in high quality content

 If you’re paying for SEO content on your website, you’re probably hoping to increase page clicks and views. But if you’re doing SEO writing well, you’re also creating a wealth of high-quality content related to the products and services you provide. If readers are coming to your site for accurate and in-depth information, they’ll also come to your site for products and services that they trust.

AOV and LTV is not necessarily an either/or conversation for eCommerce brands. The real question is which you should be using at any given time or to make any given decision. Both metrics have their time and place in most companies.

 

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