How to Decrease Shopping Cart Abandonment

Shopping cart abandonment refers to that phenomenon wherein a customer abandons the buying process while going through the billing/checkout procedure. It is an area of great concern for e-tailers. Shopping cart abandonment can take place due to several different factors ranging from lack of trust to a lengthy check out procedure to simple things such as registration. Having a closer look at such sensitive areas and pondering over why shopping cart abandonment takes place can help you effectively reduce the phenomenon taking place on your eCommerce website.

Make yourself trustworthy

One of the major reasons why most online buyers abandon their shopping carts is because they feel the website is not trustworthy. Trust is a crucial element in the online retail industry thanks to the endless online scams. Making your site trustworthy itself can improve your conversion rates by a large margin. Use SSL security certificates and other security badges to ease any fears from the minds of your buyers. Make sure to place these badges where they are visible and near certain key areas including all the call to actions on your page.

Keep it short and simple

The second most prominent reason for most of the shopping cart abandonment scenarios is a lengthy checkout procedure. Nobody likes to wait or fill tedious forms. One of the methods which can be used to tackle this is to use a step by step procedure. But even step by step checkouts that last several pages are also not encouraged. Always try to keep the number of steps to minimum. It is recommended not to exceed the number of steps by 4. Also using methods such as inline validation can be a major boost to conversions. Inline validation makes sure that your buyers will not have to fill any form over and over again.

Issues with registration

Registration is also another dissuading factor when it comes to online shopping. A compulsory registration can provide various benefits but a guest checkout saves your shopping cart abandonment rate. Trying a guest checkout alongside a registered checkout can prove to be a great idea. Those not wanting to register can still continue shopping through guest checkout. But make sure that you tell them all about the benefits of registration.

Other methods

Other methods include improving site aesthetics. While many consider them to be simply a part of the background, aesthetics do play an important role in reducing shopping cart abandonment. Providing useful information through visual graphics can be a great way of retaining buyers. These graphic explanations vary from providing information about the CCV to simply changing the color or size of the buttons. Also including support options such as live chats and contact information can build trust among your buyers. Small things such as sending reminders about an abandoned cart to simply saving the carts can have a major impact in reducing shopping cart abandonment.

Best Practices When Creating Your Online Shopping Cart

The words “Shopping Cart” within the eCommerce framework, refers to web based software that enables visitors to select certain items on an eCommerce site and later purchase the same. The software enables visitors to select a range of items that they like and on check out, the value of the total order inclusive of miscellaneous expenses such as shipping and handling is furnished to the visitor. The visitor can then add, edit or even delete items from their cart before the final purchase. A shopping cart plays a very important role in any eCommerce website. Quite often many e-tailers lose out on a potential buyer simply due to the malfunctioning of a poorly designed shopping cart. Here are a few things that you should take care of when designing your online shopping cart.

The aesthetics

Aesthetics of your cart play an important role in making crucial conversions. Aesthetics does not only include graphics and other elements of style. While interactive graphics can create a visually appealing experience for your buyers, it might not be enough to get the conversions. It is important to create a user-friendly experience in your shopping cart. While full-page shopping carts are beneficial and provide more options and information when compared to a minicart, the minicart also has its own unique benefits. The minicart can provide quick and easy access to your products, instead of having your users switch back and forth between the cart and your products. Having a minicart that expands to a full-page cart on checkout is probably the best strategy.

Also make sure that you provide sufficient information and important call to actions in the form of buttons describing events such as “add to cart”, “checkout” and “pay now”. Also use bold colors to attract user attention while placing these buttons. This helps the users to quickly identify these buttons and also makes your cart more user friendly. In addition to this, providing a “continue shopping” link in every stage of the check out or billing procedure is important. Finally ask for information that is absolutely necessary. Including unnecessary fields can be a dissuading factor as users don’t like providing a lot of information and also it is time consuming.

The technicalities

The technicalities involved in an online shopping procedure are the next important factor that can either make or break an eCommerce purchase. Using a step-by-step billing procedure has been found to be favorable for many e-tailers. A step-by-step procedure helps the users keep track of what they are doing and breaks the monotony of filling fields on a single page. A table based structure and simple background is also ideal for an online shopping cart. Strong borders and images of products they are purchasing add to the user experience. Also make sure to add help elements at as many places as possible. Using sample text on the input fields can be a great way of doing this. Finally always remember to include a ‘verify’ or ‘confirm’ page as a final step of the check out procedure. This page should include all the details collected over the check out procedure

eCommerce Website Design Trends to Watch Out for in 2013

The eCommerce industry has grown considerably over the past few years. eCommerce sites have been greatly dependent on web designs. This year the eCommerce website design trends focused mainly on providing an enhanced user experience across multiple platforms such as mobiles, tablets, laptops and desktop PCs. The designs involved features such as scrollable layouts, responsive sites and fixed navigation sites. While these trends are here to stay and will surely evolve in 2013, there are also certain new aspects that are changing the world of eCommerce website design. Here’s a brief overview of what could happen in the upcoming year.

Integration with social media

The impact of social media on eCommerce also has been huge. The massive reach and potential of social media has always been appealing to e-tailers. It also provides an innovative platform to bring together all aspects of an eCommerce site into a center stage, making things easily accessible to potential buyers. Adding sharable wish lists to your site is one of the best methods to publicize your merchandise while reaching out to a greater audience at the same time. Integration with social media can increase your conversion rates and act as an effective platform for publicity at the same time.

Videos and images

Videos and images are going to play an important role in website design in the coming year. We have constantly seen that the borders and padding that was erstwhile used to distinguish between segments of a page are slowly disappearing and designs that spread across the browser are in vogue today. Also videos and images convey a message quicker than anything else. But there is one downside to using videos and images in website design and that is downtime. A higher downtime can not only wreak havoc on your search engine rankings, but also dissuade users from your site. That will be one area of concern but smart tactics such as saving the images as per your requirements instead of editing them every time through a CSS file can save a lot of sweat. You can also use a single image or video to represent a huge chunk of data and reduce your downtime.

Better processing techniques

Processing the design has also been a major area of concern for designers. It is also important as it provides key information about the expected downtime. Two such per-processors LESS and SASS for CSS are quickly gaining popularity. These per-processors help in efficient management of CSS styling. These tools save the website downtime by providing valuable insights during the design process and also save the time consumed during design process. We could possibly see more such tools being used in 2013.

Five Ways to Enhance Consumer Engagement Online

Consumer engagement is one of the crucial components along with brand awareness and customer loyalty, in helping ensure business growth.  Engaging consumers online is a convenient and an economical option at the same time. With everybody wanting to provide the best possible consumer experience, here are 5 ways to enhance your engagement efforts online.

Rating your products

Rating your products can help your prospects choose a product that suits them the most and provides value to the time they’ve spent on your site. Rating your products also creates a feeling that you take the quality of your products seriously. You could do this by simply providing information about past purchases and providing insights about your popular products.

Feedback

Effective consumer engagement involves constantly staying in contact with your audience. One of the most effective ways of doing this is through customer surveys and feedback. The survey could be based on anything ranging from feedback about the site to integrating additional features to any of your products.  You can use several different tactics to engage your customers based on their buying habits. This process not only improves your customer engagement but also helps you make better business and marketing decisions.

Pricing and consumer engagement

The economy and pricing play an important role in the buying habits of your customers. The economy rules the way people spend and dictates certain trends. For example, in a weak economy people tend to spend less and invest in only those products that provide long-term benefits. In such situations, you can engage with your customers and decide to more aggressively target certain products that are suitable for the situation.

Green initiatives

Businesses are jumping on the eco bandwagon to enhance their image. You could also encourage consumers to adopt eco-friendly measures, or make your eco-responsibility known by encouraging paperless initiatives at their workplace, and providing tips on how your company deploys a more green approach.

Measuring consumer engagement

Measuring consumer engagement important to demonstrate as well. Measuring the engagement process can be as simple as summarizing all the data that you had collected from surveys and product purchases. You can then display this data in the form of recommendations from consumers and reflect how you are responding to meet the collective needs of the market.

Importance of Effectively Engaging your Target Market Online

Consumer engagement is a prime ingredient for the success of any business. But due to the large amount of the population spending a significant amount of time online, it is important that you should make the effort to engage with your customers and prospects online as well. Social media and blogging have made consumer engagement an easy and cost-effective process. Rewards gained are also higher compared to traditional marketing methods. One of the most effective methods of engaging your prospects online is through the usage of online marketing strategies.

Online marketing

Online marketing comprises of all the activities that can be conducted to promote your business on the WEB. These tactics and strategies completely revolve around your business website. A business website is the focal point or hub of all your online marketing efforts, it is like your virtual storefront. Your site is used to educate, promote, sell, full fill, track, analyze and much more.  Using online marketing strategies, you direct people to go to your site and make use of all the features that cater to a marketplace that is researching services, evaluating companies, and doing business Online.

Benefits of Online Marketing

Again, Online marketing is your key to more effectively engaging customers. A properly conducted online marketing effort has several benefits that include driving traffic and eventually leading to conversions. It is also the least expensive of all the various types of traditional marketing options available. Online marketing can effectively create brand awareness among your customers for your company or your products. You can also benefit through effective customer engagement, by the loyalty you receive from retaining them year after year. Finally you can use online marketing as an effective tool to receive feedback from your customers to help improve your products and services. But the biggest benefit of using online marketing for consumer engagement is that this technique is not biased and is equally effective not only for major corporations, but for small businesses as well, leveling the playing field.

Best practices for effective customer engagement

  • Conduct a thorough SEO check for your site. A higher rank in the search results will definitely help you get noticed by your customers.
  • Post quality content to your blogs and websites. When it comes to online marketing, content is the king. You need to make sure that you provide your customers with useful information while also pointing them towards your products or services.
  • Sending promotional and auto responder emails is also important. Promotional emails should focus on the sentiments of your audience by telling them that you care about them and auto responders establishes the efficiencies in the campaigns marketing cycle. Both can go a long way when it comes to brand building and customer engagement.

 

 

 

Customer Engagement in a Troubled Economy

A troubled economy is the time when all your customer engagement strategies really get tested. It’s a time when people tend to spend less and defer action. Effective customer engagement in such times can help move your customer to take action and engage in a more normalized sales process with your company. Here are a few customer engagement tips that may help your company thrive despite all the turmoil.

Find new ways

In a bad economy, all the parameters that govern your sales and purchasing trends change. Relying on conventional methods to engage your customers can be expensive and provide little value in return. As a result, it is time to innovate. Using online customer engagement can be an effective strategy. As it is the least expensive, but has a very wide reach. Social media, email campaigns, and effective blogging are inexpensive ways of online customer engagement activities that can be executed, with far less costs that traditional marketing initiatives.

Cutting Back

Businesses often implement cost cutting during troubled economy. This is an effective tactic that can help you survive economic turmoil but it does little to help you capture sales. A reasonable amount of cost cutting is always unavoidable, but you must also think about more effective ways to drive new or maintain customer-based sales. Don’t forget that your existing customers are critical and that your business survives because of them. So plan strategies that concentrate on the continuing support of the needs of your customers, as you move to cut back on internal costs.

Use digital media

Using digital media and other content driven online strategies is an effective means of engaging your customers. These methods are both cost effective and also engage customers with efficiency. While you engage in a dialogue with your customers make sure to cater to their emotional as well as business needs. More frequent communication regarding the support of their account may be in order? Simplifying online access to sales and order data is key in that ongoing online relationship. Updated catalog and general product information, should be addressed and providing added value information through blogging is always a great way to keep your brand and credibility in the forefront of your clients.

Research and test

Introducing new products, or services into the market does not stop or slow necessarily because of an economic conditions. In fact they may be required in order to stay afloat. A lack of market or consumer testing, is another major area where many businesses fail. Many businesses often simply assume certain probable responses from their customers and as a result suffer significant losses. Always conduct an ample amount of research and then test your research before jumping into any conclusions regarding the behavior of your customers. Always remember that there is no such thing as a per-determined outcome. Responses are largely based on the customer sentiments. So you will have to appeal to these sentiments and engage with your customers in order to get effective results.

Writing a brand and marketing plan

No business is immune to planning. All the company plans, activities, and actions, are directed for the sole purpose of achieving a positive ROI and the advancing momentum of broader positive brand recognition. Proper planning should translate into generating brand and customer loyalty, repeat purchases, and spreading awareness.

A perfect plan assists not only with these explicit objectives, but also covers, many implied objectives. The list of benefits for a sound brand and market plan however long, always starts with backing into profitable sales results.  The plan has to be properly thought out with input and recommendations from the entire team. In addition no brand loyalty or market strategy can be developed in isolation from current market conditions. Business strategy and planning should account for the competitor’s strategies, as well.

Market dynamics like mergers, acquisitions, consolidations, trends in consumer behavior, all affect the way the plan is designed and implemented and this is where introspection comes in handy. Where the company stands, where its competitors stand, what are the strengths that it can utilize and what are the shortcomings it needs to work upon, are all elements of the plan.

Commonly known as SWOT analysis, (strength, weakness, opportunity, threats) it can help get a realistic picture of the business.  Based on this factual assessment, one can easily chalk out the marketing, the IT, branding and the financial inputs needed, that will also be incorporated, in developing a proper plan.

No plan can be implemented, without developing concrete strategies and tactics. The plan should answer the what, when, how and why of the service, product, packaging, distribution, and promotion.

All these planning elements should also be aligned being mindful of what type of consumer behavior you are trying to create, with respect to brand and company loyalty. The plan should also be realistic in it’s goal.  A reasonable stretch is a good thing, but raising the bar to high does not do any justice for either those who are responsible for executing it, or the company.

As discussed in the last blog, placing and positioning the brand in the minds of the customers takes place within the attributes of the brand and the category of competition. If a company is able to show that it outshines other competitors, that it is different from its contemporaries, it enjoys a favorable position with the customer base, then the plan should account for these positioning factors, as well.

Obviously without proper metrics such as the tracking and control of the plan, without budgetary adherence and feedback on the plan, no plan can be successful. The company always benefits, with a sound plan in place and with the right kind of branding and the right kind of marketing, it can target the desired audience with more likely results in the company’s favor.