COVID-19 and eCommerce: Update 3/27

COVID-19 and eCommerce: Update 3/27

The world’s economy has basically been ground to a halt in the wake of the COVID-19 virus pandemic. While no one yet knows the permanent depth of the damage caused by COVID, more and more information is being released everyday.

We will continue to closely monitor the situation so that we can provide our clients and the rest of the eCommerce community the most accurate and up-to-date information available. Stay tuned for more as the situation progresses.

Here’s the latest:

Listrak has just released the results of their survey of 850 US-based eCommerce domains. Here’s what they had to say:

  • Since the State of Emergency was declared in the United States on March 19th, these eCommerce stores are reporting a 40% increase in revenue.
  • In response to the crisis, eCommerce brands are releasing more promotional content. A 10% increase overall in the number of emails sent has been reported since March 19th.
    • In spite of the increased email output, Customer Engagement with these emails remains consistent with pre-crisis time periods
  • With more and more people quarantined to their couch, ad spend is up in the following verticals: eCommerce (+35%) and Gaming (+24%). Which means that any eCommerce brand that offers a digital product can expect to see an increased competition for ad rankings for the indefinite future.

In our previous COVID-19 report, we discussed the increased online demand for essentials (particularly related to health care and grocery goods) but we’re just now starting to see how the crisis is affecting other eCommerce industries. 

  • In spite of the turmoil, revenue of Housewares/Home Goods and in the Automobile industry remain flat and unchanged for the time being.
  • Apparel revenue is down 14%
  • Groceries aren’t the only companies doing great business online. Revenue is up for Toys & Sporting/Camping Goods (+200%), Industrial (+150%) and Firearms (+200%).

Forbes is reporting in their report released this week that 30% of customers say they plan to increase their eCommerce purchases in the next 12 months.

It’s important to keep in mind that while eCommerce companies and industries that produce what many consider to be a ‘non-essential’ product are seeing a downward trend, that will not last forever. As people become more accustomed to staying at home and if/when the economy stabilizes there will be a renewed interest in non-essential products. Many of which could receive a shot-in-the-arm from the Stimulus Bill which was passed this week.

Check back with us in the coming days for another COVID-19 & eCommerce update. 

Until then, stay safe and stay healthy.

The Best Magento Amazon Integration

The Best Magento Amazon Integration

There is no shortage of Magento marketplace integrations available. In addition to a number of third-party alternatives, Magento has released their own Amazon Sales Channel integration product. Magento  continues to develop new features for their tool, but it’s still a fairly new feature and limited to only Amazon. More popular options are channel integrators, such as Channel Advisor and SellerCloud, but we’ve learned separate integrations like these require more budget and patience than any merchant should have to tolerate.

Avoid Separated Apps

When managing a bidirectional synchronization, it is most efficient to have as few endpoints as possible to avoid multiple potential chokepoints. The biggest drawback for Magento merchants using other SAAS solutions is managing two integrations and two separate catalogs in different interfaces. For example:

  1.  There always ends up being data, content or images in one system that don’t sync across all platforms which lead to  fishing expeditions when making updates and optimizations.
  2. It takes additional time and resources to determine if something failed to sync between Magento and the SAAS software, or the software and Amazon.
    • SAAS solutions and marketplaces have APIs to communicate with each other, and experience downtime or issues with APIs just like any other software.
    • Troubleshooting why an order didn’t import or why inventory is incorrect takes time, which can cause delays in resolving issues, drastically affecting your marketplace seller rating.

A Direct Integration is Easier to Manage

A module sitting within Magento simply has fewer opportunities to fail than a separate SAAS solution. Think about all of the elements that are in-play: inventory, pricing, product names, images, orders, and tracking to name a few. With a 3rd party app, any time you make a change in Magento, those changes have to be synced with the 3rd party software and then again to the marketplace. For example if you update an image within Magento and it’s not appearing on Amazon, you now have to begin troubleshooting two different endpoints.

Our Recommendation

Having our fair share of experience in this field, we recommend M2E Pro over any other Magento-to-marketplace integration. It’s the most mature solution, being the original Magento to eBay integration, and then evolving to other marketplaces including Amazon and Wal-Mart over the years. Other module developers have built Amazon and marketplace integrations as well, such as Mageworx, Webkul and Mag-Manager, but those solutions aren’t as feature rich, easy to use or mature as M2E Pro.

M2E Pro is open source, which means it is customizable to match any functionality you already have set up within Magento. For example, we have worked with a number of auto parts and accessories retailers to import fitment records and data with eBay Motors and Amazon Automotive.

Their customer support is stellar, providing software support and training for all subscribing merchants. Since M2E is a very mature solution, there is a large community forum and knowledge base with up-to-date documentation and training. M2E also provides a managed services option, if you would like to have one of their account managers responsible for listing strategy and optimization. 

Some merchants think they need to go with a 3rd party SAAS solution if they want someone to manage their marketplace account and listings, but that simply isn’t true. While M2EPro does offer managed services for additional fees, you have the option to manage your account directly or use any provider you wish. Please contact us if you would like more information regarding Magento integrations, marketplace on-boarding or listing management.

If you need to know more about marketplace integrations and how to get the most out of your eCommcerce site, contact us today. We’re open and servicing all of our customers during these turbulant times. 

Six MORE Apparel eCommerce Webstore Strategies for 2020

Six MORE Apparel eCommerce Webstore Strategies for 2020

Last week we began sharing  ways you can improve your apparel eCommerce website that are both unique to the needs of that industry, and appeal to the eye of apparel customers. The more we got to thinking about it, the more we realized that there were well over six strategies that you consider implementing. Which is why we’re back with part 2 on this topic. In this blog we’ll be breaking down six MORE apparel-focused eCommerce  strategies you can implement to improve the user experience and ultimately improve your conversion rate. 

And don’t forget to check out Part 1.

Question and Answer

Much in the same way that Customer Reviews add transparency  and authenticity to your brand and products, so does a Question and Answer section. You’ve no doubt seen the Q&A section on Amazon product pages and it’s there for a reason; they work. No matter the product description or reviews on your product page there will always be very specific questions potential customers will have about your apparel or accessories. Their questions could be about fit, material, shipping, user experience, anything at all. The Q&A section gives a platform for these questions to be posed and for yourself as well as customers to answer them. For questions posed to your company, this is a great opportunity to showcase your customer service capabilities, product knowledge and openness. For questions posed to current and former customers about their experiences with your product(s), think of it as another form of Customer Review. Getting a fellow customer’s honest feedback about your product will make potential customers more secure in their purchasing decision and less uncertain about engaging in business with you. Making room on your product pages for a Q&A section is a must.

Recommended Accessories or Pairings

No eCommerce site should ever miss an opportunity to upsell and the apparel industry is certainly no exception. Whether you’re selling a dress that pairs with a great pair of shoes and earrings or you’re selling a sports jersey with a newly available matching team hat, customers are often searching for a complete look and you should be prepared to give them the option to purchase it. How you present these recommended accessories and pairings is up to you (and perhaps the niche you serve). They can exist on the product page, you can offer them in a pop-up, or they can be presented just prior to checkout. If customers pass up the opportunity to purchase your product’s accessories and pairings then these recommendations would make for a perfect follow-up email offer. 

Customer Reviews

We broke down the benefits of customer reviews and shared our favorites in great detail back in January’s blog but this has become such a hot topic and powerful tool that it’s worth repeating. Customer Reviews will benefit your apparel site in numerous ways. For one, they reaffirm your brand. Even the greatest product description ever written can’t compete with a customer review. A customer review makes your products and your company more authentic and accessible. Shopify has revealed that 63% of customers are more likely to convert after seeing reviews. Reviews give your brand transparency and build trust with your customers.  Good reviews, bad reviews, no problem! Even if you only had exclusively positive customer reviews the modern apparel customer is too savvy (or maybe cynical) to believe they are all legit.

 The Greatest Product Description Writer ever.

So, even negative or average reviews add authenticity to your brand and page, and serve as useful tools to your merchandising and customer service teams (particularly if you have taken the time to thoughtfully respond to negative reviews – which you absolutely should do).. Customer Reviews are shown to increase conversions by as much as 63% and research shows that 70% of customers look at reviews on products and stores before making a final purchase. To take a deeper dive on customer reviews check out our recent blog.

A More Mobile Friendly Website

Is your webstore as responsive and as mobile friendly as it can possibly be? If your answer is anything less than, ‘absolutely’ then now’s the time to upgrade it. Mobile eCommerce accounted for more than 67% of all digital sales in 2019. And improving the mobile capabilities of your site could have a direct impact on your brick and mortar location too. 65% of all US shoppers look up price comparisons on their phone mobile device while in a physical location. So not only could your unresponsive mobile site be costing your sales digitally, it may be costing you sales in-store.

Free Returns

As a merchant it’s your job to remove as much uncertainty about your brand and product as possible. We discuss Transparency in greater detail in Part 1 of this blog and this topic is related to that. The greatest uncertainties associated with purchasing apparel online comes from the worry, ‘will this fit me?’ and, ‘will this look good on me?’. And while no product description or customer review can answer that question for an individual, you can remove doubt as to whether that individual will be stuck with a purchase they are unhappy with. By offering customers a no-hassle, free return policy, you’re showcasing your own belief in your own brand and products and improving their overall experience. Whether the customer ends up keeping your apparel or returning it, either way they will be much more likely to continue doing business with you if you have made this process as easy as possible.

Free Delivery

As a merchant it’s your job to remove as much uncertainty about your brand and product as possible. We discuss Transparency in greater detail in Part 1 of this blog and this topic is related to that. The greatest uncertainties associated with purchasing apparel online comes from the worry, ‘will this fit me?’ and, ‘will this look good on me?’. And while no product description or customer review can answer that question for an individual, you can remove doubt as to whether that individual will be stuck with a purchase they are unhappy with. By offering customers a no-hassle, free return policy, you’re showcasing your own belief in your own brand and products and improving their overall experience. Whether the customer ends up keeping your apparel or returning it, either way they will be much more likely to continue doing business with you if you have made this process as easy as possible.

No matter your kind of apparel and accessories and no matter your target audience, if you’re looking to improve your conversion rates, traffic and your customer’s shopping experience these webstore strategies are a great place to start. 

Check out some of the apparel and accessories work we’ve completed for Medals of America, Fawn Shoppe, and Massif and let us know if you’d like to schedule a conversation.

COVID-19 and eCommerce: What We Know

COVID-19 and eCommerce: What We Know

There is no doubt that the Covid-19 virus is affecting many aspects of our lives. Most non-essential places of business including many traditional brick-and-mortar locations are shut down partially if not completely at this point, and the eCommerce world is bracing for even more uncertainty. There are a lot of pontificators out there offering theories on what’s next for eCommerce but here’s what we know for certain.

Here is what we know

People are leaving their home less.

Whether due to personal fears or because of mandatory “shelter in place” quarantines, fewer and fewer people are leaving their house. In a study released last week by Coresight research, 47% of US internet users said they were avoiding malls and shopping centers. When asked if their behavior would change if the outbreak worsens, 74.6% confirmed they would avoid shopping centers and malls altogether. 

And it’s not just centralized shopping centers that people are avoiding. 32.7% of poll participants said they were avoiding any physical store with 56% of confirming that they would take these same actions if the COVID threat spread.

People are shopping online for the essentials

Adobe analytics monitors the eCommerce trends and transactions of 80 of the US top 100 retailers. And while many retailers are seeing their foot traffic come to a complete halt, others are seeing surges in their online shopping. Grocery chains have seen an increase in online and home delivery orders. Amazon has seen a surge in online shopping, so much so that they have an increased demand for employees and are one of the few companies in American actively hiring at the moment.  The grocery chain Stop & Shop is seeing a surge in demand for its online order and delivery service Peapod. Stop & Shop spokeswoman Jennifer Brogan said Peapod orders during the first week of March were 33% higher compared to the same week last year.

Ecommerce activity, particularly related to health and grocery, is booming in the US in general. According to data from ecommerce ad tech provider Pacvue, there have been spikes in Amazon searches for products like hand sanitizer and antibacterial soap.  Adobe’s analysis of eCommerce transactions found that purchases for cold, cough & flu products have increased 198%, while online purchases for pain relievers increased 152%.U.S. consumers are stocking up on over-the-counter meds, most likely to be prepared in case they do catch the virus and need to self-quarantine.

Hierarchy of Needs

Non-essential items experience the most sales during stable times and times of growth, as we’ve seen over the last several years. But with the economic downturn and way-of-life uncertainty currently permeating all of western civilization we would expect to see a drop in these industries. While actual sales numbers are yet to be reported a Contentsquare report from March 20th brings light to some interesting statistics. Web traffic has decreased to eCommerce sites dedicated to apparel (-14%) luxury goods (-19%) and jewelry (-25%) compared to the same time period last year. Traffic over the last 4 weeks clearly shows that online shoppers have been most interested in fulfilling products in the most pressing categories among the hierarchy of needs. But as the COVID quarantine continues and people are stuck on their couches for a longer period of time it will be interesting to see if this trend begins to reverse itself. Stay tuned to InteractOne for more updates as the eCommerce marketplace continues to evolve and we adapt.

Expect shipment delays

Many Amazon customers have received notifications stating: “We’re very sorry your delivery is late. Most late packages arrive in a day. If you have not received your package by tomorrow, you can come back here the next day for a refund or a replacement.” What’s more, those hoping to order groceries or essentials from Amazon Prime, Peapod and others can also expect  delays. While chains are currently saying that the problem, ‘is a demand issue, not a supply line problem’ these are all unique stresses being put on systems that have never been tested to this degree before. And if interstate or local commerce is limited even more, then customers can expect shipment delays no matter the location or product of purchase. 

Will any of these trends be long term?

It’s fairly safe to say that once the COVID panic calms down that the public’s purchasing behavior for toilet paper will return to pre-COVID levels. But what other new behaviors and consumption patterns that emerge during this time will have long term staying power? This crisis could cause permanent changes in the way people consume media, shop, as well as overall public perception of brands. People who normally wouldn’t purchase clothes or perishables online will be forced to rethink their approach when the need arises. The more customers are forced to do their shopping online in the coming months, the more likely that it will become a regular part of their routine. Especially if the threat and worry over COVID becomes something long-term. 

We’re already seeing changes in the entertainment industry, with Disney making their recent theater releases available on-demand and other companies following suit. Once the public becomes accustomed to ‘social distancing’ and purchasing habits that are more eCommerce centric, it may be next to impossible to put that horse back in the barn.

Conclusion

There aren’t many certainties about life or the economy right now, but as US consumers increasingly look to digital methods to conduct daily business, order essentials and prepare for an emergency, retailers will be required to ensure positive, frictionless experiences via their websites and mobile apps. 

We here at InteractOne are dedicated to protecting our employees. Thanks to a work-from-home policy that we instituted more than one year ago, we have been able to transition to our new reality with relative ease while continuing to provide support and meet all of our clients’ needs.

Six Apparel eCommerce Webstore Strategies for 2020

Six Apparel eCommerce Webstore Strategies for 2020

Each apparel and accessories brand caters to a unique audience. But no matter who that audience is, there are a number of ways you can always improve your eCommerce store, whether that’s updating images, changing the layout and design or simply changing copy. You can always find a way to make your site better.

If your apparel and accessories site has hit a bit of a lull and you are casting about for ideas  to improve your webstore here are six strategies to boost your site visits and get more conversions.

Urgency

Creating a little urgency in the mind of your customers isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s vitally important. Indecisive shoppers can change their mind and leave their cart abandoned. While that gives you the opportunity to follow up with ‘cart abandonment’ emails you’d much rather they complete the purchase process that they started. That’s where creating urgency can really improve your conversion rate. You want to make customers feel like if they don’t complete a purchase RIGHT NOW then they’re going to miss out. A great way to do this is to add timers to deals and carts. Let your customers know that this deal and/or product won’t be around forever, in fact, it won’t even be available in a few hours. That countdown clock resonates with customers and definitely capitalizes on their FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).

Improving Your Product Page

In the eyes of your customers, there is a lot of guesswork when it comes to apparel shopping online. One way to put a stop to a lot of that guesswork is to make your product pages as detailed as they possibly can be. Include as many high-def product images as you can (from multiple perspectives), give extremely detailed descriptions, prominently display user reviews. These are all great ways to show customers your product is great, real and has real-world advocates without overhauling your entire webstore design or layout.

A/B Testing

Header images, copy, CTAs, color schemes. These are just a few of the elements that can be A/B tested with the goal of improving the customer experience and increasing conversions. There are so many variables that can be tested on an eCommerce website that this is a topic that could be an entire blog all on its own. In fact, we published that blog very recently and you can take a deeper dive into A/B testing by clicking here. It’s definitely worth a read if you are anxious to improve your site and test it with your audience but you don’t know where to start.

Clean up your storefront

Just like a brick-and-mortar store, your digital storefront can use some sprucing up every now and then. Perhaps it’s gotten too cluttered up with links, specials, banners, tabs and copy. If that’s the case then it’s time to do a little spring cleaning. A clean storefront is vital to any apparel ecommerce site. As a merchant, you want to provide a clean storefront, with as little distractions as possible so that you can allow customers to get a clear view of your products and the items you most want to push. Fawn Shoppe is a great example of this. We built them a webstore with a clean storefront with clear CTA’s and featured products. This is the type of storefront you want to emulate.

Transparency and Sustainability

Now, more than ever, customers want to know where their products come from, what they’re made of and who is selling them. Mindful consumerism is the mantra of the modern shopper and these factors could play a deciding role in the customer’s journey. By being honest about where you source materials (bonus points if it’s local), who you employ and your social responsibility you bring customers closer to your brand and increase your trustworthiness in their eyes. In a world where customers are getting bombarded with hundreds of messages and ads per day it is the authentic and the decent that most resonate. Make sure you’re touting these factors prominently on your home page, product pages and promotional material.

Keep Checkout Simple

No matter what your target market is, you’re going to need to remove as many barriers as possible between ‘add to cart’ and completing the purchase. A seamless and streamlined checkout experience must be a priority. Take a serious look at your checkout process, are there any additional, unneeded steps or screens to click through? Look into adding an unobtrusive pop-up, like the one offered by One Step Checkout  that prompts customers with direct, but not distracting CTA’s like ‘edit cart’ and ‘checkout now’. Whether selling apparel to the tech-savy crowd or to retirees,  leave as little opportunity as possible for them to get lost and abandon their cart.

Of course, there are more strategies you can begin to implement on your apparel eCommerce site. And we’ll be exploring more of those in Part II of this article in the coming days. Until then, check out the work we’ve done for other eCommerce apparel  and accessories companies Massif, Tafford and Medals of America

To learn more about how to improve your apparel or accessories site today, contact us and a member of our expert team will be in touch with you shortly.

What B2B Customers Want and How to Give It To Them

What B2B Customers Want and How to Give It To Them

B2B businesses currently find themselves in a very unique and sometimes, precarious position. B2B clients are beginning to look more and more like B2C clients. B2B clients love the ease of shopping and researching in the digital world but they also want a personal touch. In the same way that B2C customers want a personalized message and the assurance that they can pick up the phone and speak with someone in customer service, B2B customers are now demanding the same thing. But as a B2B company, how do you provide all of this? In this blog we’ll be exploring what B2B customers want and how to deliver it to them.

What Do B2B Clients Want?

The New York based firm, Accenture Interactive, released a study in 2019 of more than 2,000 B2B buyers and sellers which showed that 80% of frequent B2B buyers have changed suppliers at least once in the previous 24 months. The main reason B2B businesses gave for this switch was the lack of attention to their needs and a ‘failure to connect digital strategies with the human side of the buyer supplier relationship”.  When polled, price remained the most important factor (27%) while coming in a close second was the importance for a wide range of products (25%) and customer service coming in a close third (22%). Simply put, B2B clients are looking more and more like B2C customers. So, how can B2B companies capitalize on this?

How to Satisfy B2B Clients

Technology

Technology is at its best when it is utilized to make brands more human. Not just in their messaging but in the accessibility. By analyzing your potential and target clients you can begin to craft a marketing message that speaks directly to them and their unique needs. There are no doubt unique pain points and uncertainties in whatever industry(s) you’re targeting. Use this data to answer the question, ‘what roadblocks do decision makers have in front of them?” Whatever that may be, begin to craft a message and a story around that. The most important thing to remember about B2B customers is that you must create content that speaks to actual humans, not companies or titles.

Be Authentic

Authenticity goes a long way in a world filled with marketing hype. Modern customers see right through the tried and tired, ‘we’ve been doing this for 30 years,’ kind of messaging. As a brand, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Don’t get in the habit of self-censoring. This will lead to marketing campaigns and messaging that are stale, dull and lacking in the humanity that customers want. Speak honestly about your business or industry. That doesn’t mean you have to be self-denigrating, but being honest about your industry as well as the struggles you share with your target audience will go a long way in connecting with them on a deeper level.

Be Accessible

It takes more than just marketing and messaging to make your B2B brand more accessible. You actually have to BE more accessible. Social media, chat pop-ups, prominently displayed contact info and links are also a great way to make your brand more accessible to customers directly on your eCommerce site. You also must have an actual human behind these digital tools to field these messages and notifications and reply to them. B2B customers want to know that they can get in touch with an actual person if they end up becoming a customer or client of yours and the first step is having people and processes in place to receive and respond to their initial messages. Human interaction and digital tools need to work hand-in-hand if B2B companies want to excel in the modern marketplace. Being available and being human are what B2B customers are looking for.

Conclusion

With the needs and behaviors of the B2B customer shifting, it is up to B2B companies to evolve their processes, messaging and capabilities to meet these needs. Otherwise they will be defeated in the marketplace by B2B companies that  can meet those needs. If you’re interested in improving your B2B eCommerce business and website, then contact us today.

5 Reasons eCommerce Reviews Maximize Revenue Opportunity

5 Reasons eCommerce Reviews Maximize Revenue Opportunity

Visibility leads to Trust, Trust leads to Engagement, Engagement leads to Sales.

Customer Reviews are playing a larger and more impactful role in the success and online presence of eCommerce stores. In recent months we’ve discussed customer reviews and the best extensions for powering reviews, but one topic we haven’t considered is why you need reviews in the first place. In this blog we’ll take a look at why every eCommerce website needs customer reviews and their direct benefits.

  1. Reviews encourage engagement with your site, before and after a sale

Reviews for your products help inform the customer’s decisions. In the decision making process, customers take note of what other people have said about your products and may even change their mind to a different product than they were initially searching  for. Research shows that 70% of customers look at reviews on products and stores before making a final purchase.

Reviews are the ultimate user-generated content. They encourage engagement with your site both before and after the sale. Customer reviews  provide a unique level of insight on a product that a seller can’t provide giving your product and brand true validation if a large enough number of positive reviews are flowing in.

2. Reviews increase revenue and conversion rate

All of this engagement, trust, and visibility built up with genuine customer reviews will lead to increased revenue and traffic. Simply put, customers will become more likely to convert because of review representation on products. 

  • According to Reevoo stats, 50 or more reviews per product can mean a 4.6% increase in conversion rates.
  • 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site which has user reviews. (iPerceptions, 2011).
  • Reviews produce an 18% uplift in sales (Revoo, as shared by Econsultancy)
  • 8.72% of customers won’t take action before they read some reviews.

Reviews serve as a form of social proof, removing some of the friction and uncertainty when visitors are shopping online. Shoppers are much more likely to believe the third party perspective of what their peers are saying about your product than what you wrote about it in your product description. Personal shopper experience trumps a seller’s sales pitch every time.

3. Reviews increase site traffic

Customer reviews can increase site traffic in several key ways. Adding review schema to your website makes sure that your reviews are readable by search engines. This makes your appearance in Search Result pages more appealing to the searcher and can make your business rank higher in the local pack when applicable. More visibility in these areas can equal more traffic.

4. Reviews keep your offerings competitive

Google, Bing, Amazon and other platforms you may use to showcase your business’s offerings all utilize reviews to show potential customers  relevant products based on what they have previously searched for. Reviews are free content, but the trick is getting them from your customers. Usually all it takes is a small reminder, and there are tools out there that will follow up with your customers for you so that you do not let any possible reviews slip through the cracks. Some of the tools include automations from review services like Yotpo to a myriad of other tools like Bazaarvoice and Outreach Frog.

5. Real reviews reaffirm your brand

Shopify has revealed that 63% of customers are more likely to convert after seeing reviews. Good reviews, bad reviews, no problem! Having an overwhelming amount of positive reviews may fill your customer with anxiety that the reviews may not be from actual customers. Make sure to utilize reviews, of any kind, anywhere possible. Best Buy does a great job of this, with reviews on products, suggested products, and services they also sell like AppleCare.

Earn More Reviews Now

Earning reviews makes a dramatic impact on conversion rate and remains a key to maximizing your revenue-per-visit. 
Plus, customer reviews add a layer of trust and legitimacy to your website and brand that no marketing initiative or campaign can purchase. They are becoming table stakes for any eCommerce brand. To learn more about how to choose and install a product review system on your eCommerce site or how to make the most of your current system, contact us today.

Powering PWAs with the Payment Request API

Powering PWAs with the Payment Request API

PWAs are changing the mobile game but you may be asking yourself, “what are they and how do they work?” Well,  you just came to the right page. In this blog, we’ll bring you up to speed on what exactly PWAs are, how they improve the ‘checkout’ experience and how they can lead to increased revenue and conversions.

To learn more about PWAs check out our dedicated PWA page right here

What exactly is a (PWA) Progressive Web App?

While we briefly covered Progressive Web Apps in a previous blogPWAs are mobile websites that are designed to look and feel more like an app. Customers encounter a PWA while visiting your existing URL, on their mobile browser, like they normally would. But with a PWA powering the visit, the customer experiences the usability and functionality of an app, all without having to download and install an app. PWAs are a truly streamlined, next generation shopping experience that, according to Google, generally drives a 20% boost in overall revenue, with conversion rates on mobile devices doubling in some cases.Two of the most popular and effective PWA’s currently in use are Starbucks and Uber.

Benefits of PWAs

Merchant purchase processes can involve multiple forms and complex workflows that change from webstore to webstore. For customers, navigating these various steps can  be the most confusing and frustrating part of the buying process. And is also the leading cause of ‘cart abandonment’. Simply put, if there are too many steps or barriers between your customers and completing a purchase, many customers will simply ‘leave’. Which is where the Payment Request API comes into play.

Payment Request API

While mobile traffic now makes up 60% of total web traffic, it only accounts for 16% of sales conversions. The Payment Request API was created to bridge the gap between web development and native mobile, bringing the usability and purchasing power of the app to your PWA enhanced mobile webstore. It provides a single, consistent method to collect payment data all without the multiple checkout forms and complex workflows.

The Payment Request API is a cross and open-browser standard that eliminates traditional checkout flows by empowering merchants to request and accept any payment in a single API call. The API removes the need for manual entry by storing the customer’s information securely in to the browser. The browser then passes addresses and payment details directly to the website. And, since the browser is collecting the user’s payment information, your payment process is reduced from multiple steps to a single ‘tap’. Some of the direct benefits of the Payment Request API include:

  • Speed and Ease – Customers can be prompted to enter their payment details once and have it stored in the PWA browser, like it would be in an app, removing the need to fill out multiple forms on mobile
  • Consistency – Merchants are able to provide the same user experience across a wide variety of devices, browsers and platforms.
  • Payment options – With a Payment Request API fully integrated with your PWA, merchants can expand their list of accepted forms of payment; credit, debit and prepaid cards as well as 3rd party digital wallets, (Apple Pay, Google Pay) cryptocurrency and more.
  • Credentials management – Users can manage their credit cards and shipping addresses directly in the browser. A browser can also sync these “credentials” across devices, making it easy for users to jump from desktop to mobile and back again when buying things.

Conclusion

The Progressive Web App may improve the customer’s mobile shopping experience, but it is the Payment Request API that impacts conversions and increases sales. It’s the spark that’s truly lighting the PWA revolution. 

If your mobile sales are slumping and you just don’t see a way out of the endless cycle of cart abandonment then now’s the time to speak to an eCommerce Performance Specialist. Contact us to speak to a member of our team today and bring your mobile game up a level.

Recommended Extensions for Your Email Marketing

Recommended Extensions for Your Email Marketing

Your email marketing strategy  needs to focus on building customer loyalty, increasing your conversion opportunities, boosting customer acquisition and raising brand awareness. With so many vital requirements for your email marketing requirements, it’s important to take time to investigate which email platform not only connects best to your eCommerce store, but which ones are uniquely equipped to handle your needs. In this blog we’re going to take a deeper dive and explore our  recommended solutions for email marketing.

Emarsys

Emarsys is an innovative, plug-and-play marketing platform that virtually eliminates the need for IT overhead and allows for a seamless flow of data between your eCommerce site and the Emarsys platform. This support allows for your Magento data to automatically be put to work creating automated, multi-channel campaigns with trigger responses based on a wide range of customer actions and data metrics.

Benefits

Reduce data management tasks:

Merchants are empowered to manage all their marketing activities from a single platform by unifying shop data with Emersys’ campaign data. This will give merchants a better understanding of their customers and allow them to create more engaging omni-channel campaigns.

Natively triggered mapped events & Intelligent personalization

With Emarsys, the extension’s data collection scripts allow for merchants to monitor every customer interaction with your Magento site to gain a more complete understanding of your customer’s habits over time. Customer’s activities will also trigger external events such as transactional emails or an automated omnichannel campaign. By mapping the interactions customers have with your site, merchants are empowered to connect with them with context-sensitive content and create offers that are truly personalized. This will help you remain top-of-mind for your customers and increase conversions.

Listrak

Listrack for Magento offers a solid range of customizable options, designed to broaden the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. Listrak is able to work beyond your eCommerce site and become fully integrated with your mobile and social channels. It is through this omnichannel connection that Listrak’s robust reporting tool is able to give merchants a wider range of customer data, enabling merchants to produce highly personalized, seamless marketing campaigns that engage buyers across a multitude of touchpoints.

Listrak may be one of the pricier email marketing solutions on the market but it is also much more feature rich and most email marketing tools alone. Listrak is ideal for larger businesses who want to consolidate their marketing channels on to one platform.

Benefits

All-in-one data location

Listrak provides merchants with an all-in-one data portal that pulls from multiple customer and campaign data sources, including social channels.

Automated Recurring & Lifecycle Messages

Automated timed messages are sent to past customers to re-engage them with your store and encourage continued buying. These automated messages can be created from a single template, from which personalized messages are inserted before distribution.

Integrated Product Reminders 

Shares targeted content across all consumer channels to connect with customers via product alerts and recommendations via website, social, mobile, and email marketing. These reminders can be based on a customer’s left pages, or an abandoned shopping cart purchase, with a timed personalized message to remind them of their last interaction with your webstore.

Back in Stock and Inventory Alerts

With Listrack you can automatically reach out to customers when the product they desire is now back in stock and available. Listrak will sync up the customer’s profile with the product and send personalized emails if the product is delayed or discontinued.

Bronto

The Bronto Marketing Platform is another drag-and-drop cloud-based email marketing automation software. Bronto was designed to compile all customer data in one place, allowing merchants to create customized campaigns and send targeted messages through multiple channels, such as email, mobile or social media. The Bronto dashboard provides insights that enable simple monitoring and outreach towards customers in all stages of the selling lifecycle, from acquisition to conversion. The Bronto Marketing Platform is intended for mid-size to-large, multichannel retailers due to its ability to control multiple storefronts from the same account & dashboard. The Bronto email app also easily integrates with Bronto’s pop-up and coupon manager apps to provide even more advanced customization options.

Benefits

RFM Metrics & Importing Information

Recency, Frequency, and Monetary-Value metrics regarding purchase history are used to identify target groups within your customer list. This, along with the ability to import past purchase information, with entire order history and product details,  provides in-depth customer information perfect for creating effective marketing campaigns.

Support for Multiple Stores

Bronto allows you to adjust the map data and configuration settings between each webstore you manage, all from the same account dashboard.

Automated messaging

Bronto will allow merchants to automate the distribution of a wide range of messages, based on each unique customer’s current spot in the life cycle. These include: cart abandonment messages, coupon codes, product recommendations and wish list reminders.

Mailchimp

Mailchimp is one of the most popular email marketing solutions on the market today. It’s another drag-and-drop platform that makes it easy to design and distribute emails, giving merchants complete control over subscriber profiles & campaigns. Mailchimp also boasts an impressive native analytics and reporting feature that is ideal for merchants who want to generate ‘ad hoc’ reports.

Benefits

Segmentation & Automation

When it comes to marketing automation, MailChimp can automatically segment customers based on conditions, including; purchase history, sign-up date, demographic information and much more.  Allowing merchants to target and manage customer groups based on a wide range of factors. With these segments created, merchants can then begin targeting segments with specialized messaging and an automated workflow. For example, Mailchimp can be used to re-engage dormant subscribers or lapsed customers by creating a win-back email series using custom triggers that meet the unique needs of their business.

Personalized Recommendations & Messaging

The automization of Mailchimp extends to the individual personalization of its messages too. Merchants are able to generate unique email messages with product recommendations, based on each customer’s previous purchases and pages visited. Email autoresponders can also be triggered by special events such as a customer’s birthday, lack of activity over time, recommendations after purchases, abandoned cart reminders, and more.

DotDigital

DotDigital (formerly dotmailer) Engagement Cloud is the platform of choice for businesses seeking to engage customers across all touchpoints. Users can connect customer data, surface powerful insights, and automate intelligent messages across email, SMS, social, and more.  This extension enables a seamless integration between your M2 store and your dotdigital Engagement Cloud account. Engagement Cloud for Magento ensures your subscribers stay in sync, and your key customer/retail data is available in Engagement Cloud to empower your email marketing.

Benefits

Marketing Automation

DotDigital’s Omnichannel automation empowers merchants to connect with visitors and customers over a wide range of channels, including Email, SMS, social re-targeting, Google ads, push notifications and web chat. Through these messages merchants can reconnect with visitors and customers to revisit abandoned carts and campaigns.  Welcome, post purchase and birthday messages are just a sample of the automated marketing pieces that can be programmed to connect with clients, leaving merchants free to direct their energies elsewhere.

Commerce Intelligence

RFM-Modeling within DotDigital creates commerce personas for website guests and then empowers merchants to ‘watch’ how contacts move through the customer lifecycle. This way, you can track your most important metrics with customers and crosssell and upsell with best sellers, highlight ‘most viewed’ as well as also-bought product recommendations.

Klaviyo

Klaviyo’s is a favorite amongst the developers and solution specialists at InteractOne. Its power lies in its segmentation and targeting. Klaviyo’s web-tracking system uses specific browsing behavior to segment visitors so they receive tailored ad campaigns and emails based on their on-site activity. Klaviyo will help you identify the visitors to your site: who looked but didn’t buy, who is a frequent visitor, who hasn’t visited recently, who left their cart full without purchasing, etc. Then, you can implement a campaign designed around the visitors’ site-specific actions.

Benefits

Automation

Klaviyo’s automation and interface are pleasant and easy to use. This tool makes setup enjoyable while driving improved results. Automate prospect and customer communications using customer lifetime value, lifecycle stage, and other metrics to make messaging relevant and timely.

One Click Integration

Klaviyo was designed to virtually eliminate the need for traditional marketing tools such as spreadsheets. The software was designed to seamlessly integrate with your existing tools and pulls data from Salesforce, Magento and Shopify. It also offers an Open API, allowing merchants to build custom integrations.

Ease of Use

Klaviyo is built from the ground up to be easy to use. The solution comes with a WYSIWYG editor that enables you to create compelling emails without a struggle. Also, there are multiple responsive email templates that are optimized for all types of devices including mobile devices.

If you would like to discuss your customer and prospect emailing requirements, we would be happy to help you choose the correct platform for your needs. Just drop us a line.

Magento, BigCommerce or Shopify. Which One is Right for You?

Magento, BigCommerce or Shopify. Which One is Right for You?

If you’ve reached the limit of your current eCommerce platform then it’s time to upgrade to a system that is capable of handling your current needs as well as your long term goals. Your next platform is a major commitment and one that will require the investment of your resources and time. And while you may be ready to graduate to another platform there are some key questions you must first answer.

Shopify

Shopify is the easiest platform for users to get a store up and running on in no time at all and with little technical know-how. Shopify is based off of a tiered pricing format, meaning that you can start off small and quickly expand when the need arises. In this segment we will be discussing the companies that use Shopify as well as some of the features that, depending on your needs, make it great.

Mobile Optimization and Responsiveness

Shopify is optimized for mobile and allows your customers to experience a complete shopping experience directly from their hand-held device. Shopify was one of the first eCommerce platforms to fully integrate mobile, meaning their mobile support is tried and tested and ready for your online store. This is vital because the number of mobile shoppers increases by the day and the responsiveness of your site will play a huge role in its ability to convert. The website themes that Shopify offers are mobile responsive. Shopify also offers iPhone and Android apps that can be used to manage your own store from your fingertips.

Ease of Use

If you would describe yourself as ’non technical’ then Shopify might be the best fit for you. Shopify’s platform is one that is much more of a ‘drag and drop’ interface, similar to what you would experience building a website in Squarespace or Wix. This user-friendly functionality makes it easier for you to build and customize your store if you or your team lack programming experience and/or you have a do-it-yourself identity. Shopify also features a robust App Store, where plugins can be purchased and installed with ease, extending the functionality of your site. Think the iTunes App Store but for eCommerce. The platform allows for website customization as these apps can be easily integrated. This means that merchants can easily add extra features and functionalities to their  store and enhance its value, offerings and increase the overall user experience. If you’re currently limited with the amount of resources and man-hours you can dedicate to your eCommerce site, then a move to Shopify might be what’s best for you in the long run.

Storefront design

The basic tier of Shopify comes with more than 25 free storefront template designs with additional templates available for purchase. There is a built-in blog template but the platform also fully integrates with WordPress, allowing you to blog on the platform of your preference. The available storefront templates make it easy to get your site started and all templates can be modified, relatively easily, to your liking. There is also a large community of third-party developers available on Shopify’s website that you can tap into as well.

POS

One thing that’s unique about Shopify is that you can also use it as your in-store POS system by adding its Retail Package to your plan, making it a great choice for small businesses that have both online and brick-and-mortar stores.

Fully Hosted

By being a fully hosted site, Shopify allows merchants to not have to worry about finding their own web host, upgrading software or installing security updates. The technical elements and roadblocks that normally cause merchants to hesitate about running their own store are eliminated with Shopify. By being a globally-hosted platform, Shopify has created a reliable infrastructure along with optimized software and hardware. This also results in super-fast loading speeds and an improved user experience.

Customer Support

Shopify also offers 24/7 phone support, live chat and email options to all users experiencing problems. To provide some perspective, to get the same level of Shopify support for your Magento eCommerce site you would need to enlist the services of a certified Magento developer (just like the certified pros right here at InteractOne). With Shopify, experts are available for round-the-clock customer support to ensure your store is running as designed at all times.   

Shopify Pricing Plans

Shopify offers basic plans ranging from $29 to $299 per month. They also have more expensive “enterprise” level plans for larger entities.

What companies use Shopify?

Budweiser, Bulletproof Sunday, Somewhere WaterAid, New York Times Shop, The Economist, Leesa Mattress, Penguin Books

 

Shopify Pros

  • No design experience is needed.
  • There is a consistent cost profile, month to month.
  • Software patches are included in fees.
  • It is easier to administer.

Shopify Cons

  • Apps available for popular customizations like year, make, and model may require customization, which can get expensive, and development options are limited to the module developer.
  • There are ongoing annual or monthly fees – whether or not you are making changes.
  • You don’t own your own website.
  • SAAS platforms do not support large catalogs (500K+ SKUs), and Enterprise-level versions can become very expensive compared to the base-level fees.
  • Some desirable features, such as faceted navigation or additional product attributes, aren’t available out of the box.

Magento

Magento is currently in the middle of permanently shifting versions from Magento 1, which has been active and supported since 2008. But Magento 2 promises to maintain the same features that made Magento 1 so popular, while adding many new features as well. Magento 2 will still offer an Open Source (Community) version of M2 which will allow for custom extensions to be added to native features. The Magento 2 Commerce (Enterprise – paid/licensed) edition will continue on as well. Let’s explore some of the great features that made Magento so popular as well as some of its latest features as well.

Accessibility

Magento 2, both the Community and Enterprise versions, will allow for the management of three separate databases; products, orders, and checkout. This is being done to prevent data overload and reduce incidences of system failure. The result being increased data security, speed, and scalability. By separating these three databases, Magento 2 sites will give visitors a smoother, faster, and more accurate experience as well as improve the ability your certified Magento developer has to make refinements to the platform.

Company Accounts

For B2B online merchants there may be many individuals who need to have access to an individual account. Supervisors, buyers, accountants, and managers may all require individual access. With Magento 2, store administrators will have the ability to moderate accessibility to the account. Buyers will also have the ability to assign full access or limit the access of their team members.

Quick Order

Magento 2 features a new SKU quick order feature, which allows users to add an item directly to their cart by entering the SKU numbers rather than having to navigate the site manually to locate the item and then add it to their cart. This feature extends beyond an individual item as well. M2 allows users to upload a file containing all the matching SKU’s and their desired quantity directly to the platform. Thus, improving the speed and quality of the purchasing experience for those visitors with a long list of items.

Quotes & Price Negotiation

When it comes to dollar amount and in actual product volume, B2B orders are quite often much larger than B2C orders. This dynamic increases the likelihood that your business may need to negotiate or provide terms with a custom quote. Magento 2 will allow customers to request a quote from you, directly from the product page while also allowing the customer to submit their own price request. The administrator on the page then has the opportunity to refuse, accept, or continue negotiating the offer. If the offer is accepted, the customer then has the option to complete the purchase at the negotiated price directly from their cart, just like a normal purchase.

Requisition Lists

The wishlist feature on Magento 1 is pretty standard. It allows customers to move items back and forth between their wishlist and cart, while removing the item from the wishlist upon completing a purchase. With the new Requisition List in Magento 2, customers can set up lists of favorite items and recurring products that will be continually purchased. This streamlines the purchasing process for renewables and other frequently ordered items making it easier and faster.

Speed

The result of many of the aforementioned enhancements will be increased speed. M2 will optimize your webpages for a faster delivery with accelerated server response times, which will ultimately result in an increase in loading time between 30% and 50%. M2 users can also expect to see a 38% decrease in checkout time compared with M1.  These improvements will also be extended to mobile as well with Magento 2’s responsive design structure. Magento 2 has the ability to handle 10 million views per hour, which is 50x the capacity of Magento 1. Magento 2 also can also handle more than 90,000 orders per hour, more than double the ability of Magento 1.

Support

Magento boasts an extensive library of user guides and their Magento Forum is famous for hosting a large database of educational, user generated content.  The guides are easy to find, are usually simple and very comprehensive. Whatever your problem is, there is no doubt that another Magento user has experienced this same issue and has created a how-to for solving it. But while these user-generated guides are readily available, there is one major piece of support that Magento is lacking and that is customer support. There isn’t a phone number to call or an email address to reach out to if you want the guidance of a trained professional. There’s something reassuring about knowing that there’s a trained person you can reach out to with intimate knowledge about your platform.

Magento Pricing Plans

Magento Open Source is free to use, though you will need to choose and pay a site hosting provider. Magento Commerce edition has an annual license fee of $30,000 or more depending on your site’s revenue.

What companies use Magento?

Nike, Jaguar, Canon, Jack Daniels, HP

Magento Pros:

  • The ongoing cost of ownership is higher than it would be on SaaS or auto-specific platforms so merchants who plan to achieve at least $2 to $3 million in sales may want to consider other paths.
  • Concerns and costs go hand in hand with managing site security, hosting, and ownership of your website code.

BigCommerce 

BigCommerce is a hosted SaaS solution for small to medium sized merchants who are still growing. It’s a feature-rich solution with built-in selling for third party marketing places like Amazon and eBay that is great for medium-sized and larger merchants. BigCommerce also offers educational resources to assist merchants. BigCommerce offers two levels of eCommerce solutions including BigCommerce and BigCommerce Enterprise.

Hosting

Like Shopify, BigCommerce takes care of hosting for its merchants. And since it is a Software as a Service (Saas) product, you don’t own the software, but pay a monthly fee to use it.

Training and Support

BigCommerce puts a ton of focus on helping you learn how to build a successful online store. They offer access to BigCommerce University; in-depth videos, how-to guides built right into your store’s dashboard. Also available is a setup wizard, an autoresponder email series at signup, and a consultant assigned to your account to answer any questions right off the bat. 

Knowledge is power (and money), and BigCommerce puts a huge focus on it.

Customer Service

BigCommerce not only assigns you a dedicated “consultant,” they also have active forums, a huge learning knowledge-base, and support via Facebook, Twitter, chat, email, and phone. And this level of support is a huge pro for BigCommerce – especially in comparison to non-platform options or DIY options. If you go the build-it-yourself open source route (ie, building your eCommerce site with Magento), you and your team are going to be on your own to sort out any bugs or problems, unless you’re working with a trained developer. If you don’t have the development resources or talent and don’t want to spend your time actually dealing with a checkout page errors, then BigCommerce with their strong customer support is worth a look.

Abandoned Cart Saver

Another BigCommerce feature worth singling out for praise is its abandoned cart feature – it’s arguably one of the best out there. The tool allows you to create and automate up to three emails to site visitors who go part of the way through the buying process only to leave your store without completing a purchase. This has the potential to dramatically increase your revenue with little effort – other than the ‘one-off’ time investment in setting up the automated messages – being involved. Ultimately, if you are confident of receiving a large number of visits to your site, or are already experiencing high traffic levels, then purchasing the Pro or Enterprise plan featuring the abandoned cart saver makes a lot of sense.

Store Design

BigCommerce has recently released a new visual merchandising tool called Store Design that allows merchants to immediately see the effects of your edits. This new feature makes BigCommerce much more customizable.  The product comes with a range of customizable templates to help you design your online store; you can use it to sell either physical or digital goods; and there are also some tools provided to help you market your store. BigCommerce has the best in-house features of any ecommerce builder. These provide a high level of quality and reduce the reliance you may have on third party apps. You effectively have everything you need right at your fingertips, and for no extra cost.

Product Types

BigCommerce is the only ecommerce builder on the market which lets you sell physical, digital, and service-based products without having to use an app. All of these sales types are already built into the editor. This means less hassle and less cost, because you don’t have to worry about using third party apps.

Payment Options

Unlike some other ecommerce builders, BigCommerce doesn’t lock you into its own payment gateway. It also doesn’t impose transaction fees on any of its plans. Instead, it lets you choose your own payment gateway without imposing any extra charges or transaction fees. There are over 65 integrated payment gateways to choose from. With one-click setup, mobile payments, and multiple currencies supported, BigCommerce does its best to get you paid fast. Payment providers include PayPal, Stripe, Square, Apple Pay and Amazon Pay.

Pricing Plans

Bigcommerce offers four month-to-month pricing plans, which are as follows:

Bigcommerce Standard: $29.95 per month

Bigcommerce Plus: $79.95 per month

Bigcommerce Pro: $249.95 per month

Bigcommerce Enterprise: pricing varies, depending on your business requirements. The Enterprise version includes marketing tools, real-time analytics, reporting, and 24/7 support.

What companies use BigCommerce?

Sony, Toyota, Ben & Jerry’s & Paul Mitchel

BigCommerce Pros:

  • All-in-one solution
  • Hosted platform
  • User-friendly interface
  • Comes with many out-of-the-box features
  • Customizable with add-ons

BigCommerce Cons

  • Lacks scalability and customization
  • Has limited add-on availability
  • Hosted platform has been subject to outage issues
  • Security

Magento, BigCommerce, Shopify: Finding the right fit

Magento, BigCommerce, and Shopify all have their pros and cons. The critical decision is choosing a platform that you can live with, and perhaps as importantly, can afford. Magento is a market leader for a reason. It is scalable, customizable and ready for global eCommerce. Magento is typically an excellent option for medium to large businesses with high-volume stores that value customization. Although potentially pricey for small merchants, Magento is a smart investment for merchants with large inventories and whose growth is dependent on a flexible and powerful platform.

BigCommerce offers a strong option for mid-sized merchants who may need something more scalable than Shopify, but maybe not up for the robustness of Magento. BigCommerce provides all-inclusive pricing for hosting and support. However, some reports indicate that the support for BigCommerce isn’t as advanced as the Magento support community or of the Shopify customer service team. Mid-sized merchants on an upward trajectory could outgrow the platform and need to migrate to a more scalable platform.

Shopify provides real benefits for smaller companies with all-inclusive pricing for hosting, support and set up. Shopify is considered user-friendly and a smart choice for the busy or less tech-savvy merchant.  However, some users report running into a “Shopify Ceiling” noting that the platform can be very limiting for growing merchants. Flourishing merchants could quickly outgrow the platform and need to migrate to a more scalable platform.

Shopify and BigCommerce take care of site hosting for merchants. These platforms target merchants who lack design experience and need an easy-to-use website builder. Smaller or niche merchants can find great success on these platforms.

If you would like to talk about your specific needs to determine which platform is right for you, please connect with us using our contact form.