Tag: ecommerce

10 Nov 2016
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How tracking ecommerce metrics makes the holiday season brighter for online merchants

They are the second greatest gift any ecommerce merchant will receive in the holiday season, after the cold, hard holiday cash that can make or break an ecommerce retailer’s entire year, of course. But, surprisingly, in the rush of business that consumes them from Thanksgiving through the New Year, a lot of retailers overlook the valuable ecommerce metrics that flow in along with the cash. And that’s an oversight that can cost heavily in the long-run.

The reason is that every one of those all-important purchases is accompanied by data that can be captured and integrated and analyzed, and then turned into actionable insights that can remake those one-time holiday shoppers into long-term, loyal customers with a lifetime value many times greater than the initial purchase.

The question is which ecommerce metrics to track, and how, in order to foster a high rate of customer retention.

Six essential ecommerce metrics for holidays and every day

If you can think it, you can count it. The reality is that businesses can incorporate a seemingly open-ended range of metrics into their data collection and analysis, especially with the customizable, integrated dashboards now at their disposal. But, if the goal is enhanced customer satisfaction leading to increased customer retention, not all metrics are created equal.

Keeping an eye on the customer retention prize, key ecommerce metrics such as conversion rate, shopping cart abandonment, churn rate, repeat rate, and customer lifetime value can shine a light on what’s right and what’s wrong about the customer experience, and point the way to refining and improving it. And with the assistance of the right tools for the job, tracking key ecommerce metrics no longer has to be the onerous task it was in the manual age.

Conversion Rate

Before a business can take steps to retain customers, it has to acquire them. The conversion rate reveals how well that’s happening. Arrived at simply by dividing the number of site visitors who make a purchase by the number of visitors overall, it’s a metric that undergirds all the rest.

When potential customers enter an ecommerce website, what are the chances they will make a purchase? Across industries, a target rate is three percent, although specific industries will have rates that vary. If it varies significantly in the wrong direction, though, it may be a strong indication that the customer experience is not what it should be. Because conversion rate is a big picture ecommerce metric tracking large numbers of site visitors, it’s one that is often fully monitored and assessed on a monthly basis to review bulk data, but daily checks are also essential because they can pinpoint unusual fluctuations in the rate that may reveal problems with the website itself.

Shopping Cart Abandonment

It’s disconcerting to see a customer get all the way up to the cash register and then change his mind, leaving behind merchandise in which he was clearly interested. But it’s far from an unusual occurrence. Research from the Baynard Institute shows an average abandonment rate of an eye-opening 68.8 percent. Much of that simply reflects the way in which people surf the web, and the propensity most of us have to “window shop.”

But in other instances abandonment points to more serious buyer resistance, perhaps over price or concerns about quality that weren’t laid to rest at earlier touchpoints. Technical issues, too, are common reasons potential buyers leave – too many hurdles to jump in the checkout process, complicated navigation, and concerns about the security of payments among them. For many businesses, an abandoned shopping cart is an opportunity to reach out to would-be customers in the hope of learning why they left and gleaning information that can reduce the rate. Because the metric is closely related to the conversion rate – reducing the abandonment rate will increase the conversion rate- tracking tends to follow the same monthly cycle.

Churn Rate

Like conversion rate, churn rate is expressed as a percentage, in this case the percentage of customers who make a purchase and don’t return, the flip side of customer retention. Given the high cost of acquisition and the acknowledged need for companies to develop long-term, high-value relationships with loyal customers, it’s a must-monitor ecommerce metric.

For ecommerce businesses, knowing what percentage of customers can be expected to churn within a given period becomes both a measure of how successfully it’s giving customers the experience they expect and a powerful predictive tool for balancing acquisition and retention efforts. Churn rate is typically measured in months or quarters, depending on the average time in which the overall customer base will make a repeat purchase.

Repeat Purchase Rate

Repeat purchase rate simply tracks the percentage of customers who make a repeat purchase within a given period. It is one of the strongest indicators of the quality of the customer experience and the success of retention efforts.

As with other important metrics, repeat purchase rate is one piece of the data puzzle that, as the various elements are integrated and analyzed, provides a periodic snapshot of whether targets are being met or missed. It can provide either a bird’s-eye view of how successfully customers are being retained or, thanks to modern, real-time dashboards, home in on specific elements of a marketing campaign by tracking a promotion or other initiative daily or weekly to gauge its success.

Customer Lifetime Value

This is the brass ring, for any business, because the path to business success is lined with loyal customers, as an article in Forbes makes clear. If online retailers manage to retain ten percent of their customers, the author noted, they will double their revenue.

Tracking customer lifetime value (LTV) on a continuing basis provides the ecommerce metric that can put such goals in reach. It’s a projection of the revenue a business can expect from a customer over time, grounded in his or her past behavior as well as the average lifetime spending of the larger customer base.

LTV can guide decisions about budgeting for customer acquisition – how much should a business spend to gain a customer? – and also help calculate ROI. The cost of not knowing LTV can be enormous, as an article on For Entrepreneurs emphasizes. The number one reason startups fail, the author argues, is that it costs them more to acquire a customer than that customer’s LTV will prove to be.

‘Tis the season to begin tracking ecommerce metrics

There’s no better time than the busy holiday season, which sees a large inflow of new and repeat customers alike, to begin tracking these valuable ecommerce metrics. The information gleaned can be a priceless gift for any merchant.

21 Jul 2016
12 Things You Must Know About Marketing to Millennial Generation Consumers

12 Things You Must Know About Marketing to Millennial Generation Consumers

The very word strikes fear in the heart of marketing managers and analysts alike. Millennials consumers, ages 21-34, one third of whom hold college degrees, making them the most educated generation in the history of this country and 85 percent of whom own smartphones which they use them at least 45 times a day are poised to wield $1.3 trillion in buying power by 2018. Obviously reaching this group, born hooked on social media, with iPhones in their hands, is critical for the long term survival of most brands.

Yet most marketers fail to reach millennials consumers generation. Why?

Not only are they failing to reach them, they are completely off mark about what motivates and what speaks to this tech-savvy, socially-minded group of consumers. Many a digital marketing manager assumes that by slapping emojis on packaging and displaying a Twitter handle, they’ll come across as understanding what makes Gen Y tick. But they have got it all wrong.

Here is the other thing about this device obsessed group – they can smell empty messages mile away, a natural result of growing up in an over-exposed digital society. To really appeal to millennials, you have to deliver an authentic message, crafted with their interests, rather than your pocket, in mind. Here are some tips, culled from the experts about how to create a message that resonates with this ever-important demographic group.

So how can you win the millennial generation consumer?

  • Millennial consumers love their tech – As we mentioned above, millennials are true digital natives. Many of them don’t remember what life was like before iPhones, let alone the Internet. As such, the fact that they are constantly connected, though it might seem overindulgent to other demographic groups, is totally warranted. And simply put, if you want to reach millennials, you MUST rock your digital marketing to millennials game. Their very lives are a digital experience. This group shops for clothing, gadgets and even groceries online. They communicate via text based apps like whatsapp and Facebook messenger. Know this above all when you think about creating your game plan to reach them.
  • Millennials live to share and inform. Having grown up in a Facebook world, sharing information is simply second nature to millennials. In fact they do it all day, mostly without even thinking about it. They snap pictures to Instagram and Snapchat all day and they share their thoughts constantly via Facebook and Twitter.  This urge to share can have huge ramifications for a brand. Delight them, they’ll tell their friends on all their networks ASAP. Make them angry, and well, their friend will know about it and so will all their friend’s friends… You get the picture. Remember this power of sharing with each interaction.
  • Some love to become brand evangelists – Among this group of sharing-inclined consumers, an elite few are uber-sharers. These are the people with the potential to become brand evangelists. Not only do they sing praises from digital mountain tops for the brands they love, they get others charged as well. This authentic word of mouth marketing is worth it’s weight in gold. There isn’t any good way to sort out who among your customers has the potential to become the one who others will turn to regarding your brand – so treat them all as if they could be that “one” – soon enough that digital mountaintop will start getting pretty crowded.
  • Their experience isn’t linear. As a matter of fact, our society and its values are not the same as they were 20 years ago. As such, today’s millennial isn’t necessarily thinking about settling down or making huge purchases like homes any time soon. Some look to spend their free time giving to causes and others want to spend their free time traveling and experiencing life hands on. The point is that while millennials generation might be all grown up, it’s not the same linear delve into adulthood that other demographic groups once apron a time experienced. Understand their reality when you try to reach them or you’ll be out of touch.
  • They don’t have the same social groups – Speaking of their delve into adulthood, they tend to see themselves through different societal lenses then marketers might expect. Generation millennials dedicated to their own “causes” regardless of how lofty or mundane a cause it might be. They expect that the brands they give their hard-earned money to will also be socially-conscious as they want to be.
  • They love to experience things first hand Millennials are masters of testing the waters. While they love to hear about great experiences their friends have, what they really crave is jumping right into the thick of the action. Giving them an experience they can sink their teeth into speaks to this nuance of their collective personality.
  • They need to control their experiences – Just as this generation love to experience things first hand, they really want to be the ones calling the shots while having their experience. They want to control how and where they find information and how it’s delivered to them. Giving them the self-service tools to control their experiences while they are on your site is exactly what the doctor ordered.
  • Millennial will be paying off loans for a long time – Millennials have the dubious distinction of being one of the worst off demographic groups when it comes to gaining their financial independence. Recent studies show that the average college grad is $40,000 in the red, a full 10,000 bucks worse off than their elders were when they graduated university 10 years ago. Inevitably, this impacts their buying habits. Or at least it should. Though it might seem like Millennials don’t really give much thought to their buying habits, they don’t have the financial freedom to snap up every cool gadget that comes out. Make sure your offering is actually worth it to their limited budgets.
  • They see through marketing, they don’t trust traditional advertising – Chalk it up to the fact that Millennials have been fed a strict diet of social media and blogs their entire lives – it’s really no wonder that traditional marketing tactics are pretty much useless when it comes to influencing Millennials. And very often, these interruptive tactics turn them off. They skip commercials with their TIVOs and block online ads on websites. In fact, studies show that a dwindling 1 percent of Millennials are influenced by TV and print ads. Don’t waste your millennial marketing bucks here.
  • Millennials do trust their friends – While traditional means don’t grab them worth a dime. Millennials trust what they hear from their friends. Word of mouth recommendations from friends and positive reviews from trusted blogs means worlds more to them than banner ads, tv commercials and magazine spreads ever could. What real life messages are your customers passing on about your brand?
  • They love gathering useful content that speaks to them. Another facet of this sharing obsessed culture is that they also love to pass on valuable content to their friends. They love passing on engaging relevant and original content in the form of blogs, articles, videos, games, you name it – as long as it’s something captivating and useful it can be shared. Creating shareable content is a great way to gain exposure in a way that resonates with this group in a real way.
  • Millennials Generation spend more – More time and more money online, that is. On average, Millennials spend about $2000 more on online spending and on IRL spending than other demographic groups do. And just as you would imagine, they use their devices to check prices online as they shop and make purchasing decisions. Sure, hipster girl might love your pale blue vintage dress with the little pink flowers but she can and will look for it on other sites to make sure she is getting the very best deal. Make sure to bake value into each and every product to keep them focused on your brand.

When marketing to millennials, above all keep it real and show this generation who you really are. Get to know them personally and let them know about you and what your brand stands for.

 

And they will come back for more.

14 Jul 2016
Omni-Channel retailing Experience

Why it is necessary to shift from Multi-Channel to Omni-Channel retailing Experience?

What is Multi-channel compared to Omni channel retailing?

Customers reach out to organizations and businesses in a variety of ways today, including text, web, mobile, social media, email, and phone. Businesses that provide customer service on all of these channels in an integrated way, rather than in silos, deliver the consistent experience consumers crave. Multi-channel retail experiences simply imply the use of multiple channels when delivering customer experience. Omni-channel experiences, especially in retail, offer seamless consistency across channels.

Omni-channel experiences are critical, as today’s customers are using mobile devices for internet access more frequently – more frequently, in fact, than they use desktop PCs. These consumers may initiate contact with an organization on one channel and later engage with the same brand through another, often utilizing multiple devices at the same time. Technology is also pushing forth new mediums extending the customer experience beyond simply devices, but also to platforms. For example, messaging applications are now quickly becoming a new channel for customer engagement and considered to be a channel separate from others.

 

Technology and Consumer Expectations Drive the Need for Omni-Channel Retail Solutions

Entrepreneur and Forbes contributor Drew Hendricks explains that customer service has evolved as technology has evolved. The days of people reaching for the yellow pages to contact businesses are over, as customers moved to the Internet at home and then to smartphones and tablets to reach out to businesses.

A recent study shows that 63% of U.S. adults use mobile devices at least several times per month to seek customer support, and 90% have had poor experiences seeking customer support on mobile.

These customers are defining their customer experience by how well companies handle their interactions on their website, through mobile technologies, and across the myriad channels through which they engage with brands. Getting this right, with consistent delivery and relevant content that meets customer needs and demands at the right time and on their preferred channels, is crucial for success. 

Delivering an Omni-Channel Experience and the Benefits of Customer Satisfaction

Top-notch customer experiences affect the bottom line in a number of ways:

  • 45% of consumers in the U.S. abandon online transactions if their questions or concerns are not addressed quickly
  • 89% of consumers stop doing business with companies that deliver poor customer service
  • Consumers are two times more likely to share bad customer service experiences than positive experiences
  • Customers are four times more likely to purchase from competitors when an issue is related to service, versus price or product-related issues
  • 33% of consumers will recommend brands that provide quick, yet ineffective responses
  • 17% of consumers recommend brands that provide slow but effective solutions
  • 12 positive experiences are needed to make up for one negative experience
  • 70% of buying experiences depend on how customers feel they are being treated
  • 83% of consumers require at least some level of support while making an online purchase

That’s why thriving organizations have already shifted their focus to a customer-centric approach with mobile responsiveness being a top priority. So far, the data shows that companies using tools and strategies to improve mobile customer experience are winning. As Hendricks points out, “84% of CIOs at customer-centric companies now focus on the mobile customer experience.” In fact, businesses that have adopted a “mobile-friendly user experience, including responsive websites and location-based search engine optimization,” have gained a competitive edge.

Research also shows that consumers will spend more money with a company that provides a positive experience. It isn’t any wonder, then, that Gartner found that 89% of businesses plan to compete solely on the basis of customer experience.

Customer expectations also affect consumers’ levels of satisfaction, and leading companies have gone above and beyond FAQ pages to provide round-the-clock help with services that monitor social media and the Internet for mentions by customers and social media managers who maintain a consistent presence on social media. By responding to customers quickly and appropriately on social media, organizations often save their reputations and demonstrate a willingness to correct issues to ensure satisfaction.

Omni-channel customer service experience also helps to reduce customer churn, which Accenture found is attributed to poor quality customer service. Similarly, Bain & Co reports that a 10% increase in customer retention levels results in a 30% increase in a company’s value.

 

Making Multi-Channel Retailing Consistent

Companies must take care not to simply offer a multi-channel retailing experiences, though. To deliver a truly omni-channel retail experience, organizations must assume that consumers will begin an interaction in one channel and then move to another when seeking a resolution. But the focus shouldn’t be on the channels, rather on the customer.

Customers are too often segmented by channel – assuming that the company has “Twitter customers,” “Facebook customers,” and “mobile customers,” for example, when in reality companies have a single set of consumers who just happen to engage with the brand on a multitude of channels. Customers’ needs and demands remain consistent across the touchpoints from which they interact with a company.

Consumers must perceive their transitions from one channel to the next as being fluid. Best-in-class retailers are 30% more likely to optimize for omni-channel simplicity to achieve consistency and meet the needs of consumers across channels.

One of the most efficient ways to improve the customer experience is to tap into customer analytics to pinpoint consumer-preferred channels and gain insights into the effectiveness of the company’s content and knowledge base where addressing these concerns in real-time. Analytics also reveal which channels most successfully meet customer expectations, so organizations can tailor their approach for laser-targeted, consistent delivery. Leveraging technologies that reach consumers across channels and using available data to monitor and optimize the experience gives modern organizations a competitive edge.

07 Jul 2016
Multi-Channel Ecommerce – How to Create Your Own Success Story

Multi-Channel Ecommerce – How to Create Your Own Success Story

“Dang! It just doesn’t fit!”

Lea tried again to squeeze the Cherrywood colored bookcase into its designated spot in her newly-appointed living room. The room was small but with the funky furnishings and accessories she had so carefully chosen, it was all coming together. Except for the Cherrywood bookcase. No matter how she turned it, or angled it, it was just too wide for the little alcove she had envisioned it would live in.

Stepping back to assess the situation, she gathered her thoughts. “Okay, now what?” She wondered out loud. “I guess I should get in touch with CoolCases and find out how to get an exchange or refund, because this thing has got to go. “

Lea is about to embark on a journey.

This journey is going to take her down a road that all customer experiences are built from. Every interaction and every touchpoint from here out constitutes her personal story with this particular brand. This sum total of experiences, as with your own customers and their experiences interacting with your brand, make up the customer journey. Positive experiences along the way create a positive story, one in which the customer knows that she matters and is appreciated. Conversely, negative experiences along the way create a story filled with frustration and disappointment.

Creating that story, the one in which your customers feel important and well taken care of is going to take a lot of work. Today, it’s not enough to have great phone support but limited email resources. Likewise, having on site-support in the form of a self-service widget is great, but if your social media channels are unable to provide the correct level of support, you’ll hear about it from your customers – and it won’t be pretty. To reach today’s always connected customers you need to deliver a multi-channel ecommerce experience to be reachable wherever and whenever your customers want to engage you.

The Multi-Channel Ecommerce Journey Begins

 

Social Media: A Good Place to Start

 

“10:47 pm. I’d better check out their hours.” Using her mobile device, Lea logs on to CoolCases.com. “Oh, I can connect with them on social media. I’ll try that.”

As a brand in 2016, social media has to be a big part of your multi-channel ecommerce strategy. It’s a great way to get your message out there and gain followers but more importantly, social media is a great tool to help enrich relationships with your customers, responding to them in real time in a personalized manner, providing fast and accurate information with a human touch.

“How do I return a product?” Lea comments on CoolCases’ Facebook page.

She immediately gets the response:

“Hi Lea! Sorry to hear you need to make a return. We hope we didn’t let you down and we want to make it up to you. Let me know more details and we’d be happy to help. – Sophie M., CoolCases’ Community Manager.”

Lea likes that Sophie was so prompt and eager to help. But she doesn’t feel like explaining the whole story over Facebook. “Ya’ know what, I’m going to check out what I can find on their website.” She goes to CoolCases.com

 

Self-Service: The Channel of Convenience

 

On CoolCases.com Lea notices a friendly-looking widget asking: “Need help?”

“Well, yes I do,” Lea says, smiling to herself.

Web self-service helps customers find information on their own terms, in their own time, keeping them highly engaged and focused on the page they are on. Responses are immediate, accurate, and most importantly, always available. Self service is the only sustainable way to deliver 100 percent accurate information 100 percent of the time, exactly when your customer needs it.

She types into the textbox “I need help with returning or exchanging an item. “

The response: “Sorry to hear you need to make a return. We’d be happy to help with that. Please give us the model number”

After a short polite and detailed conversation, Lea has the information she needs and can decide if she wants to return or exchange her bookcase. Her smartphone dings to let her know that she just got an email to confirm her request. She opens it and is presented with a link showing her different bookcases that might meet her needs better.

 

Email Support: The Backbone of any Customer Service Center

 

“Oh, I like this one,” she thinks, looking at a light brown bookcase with lots of unique detailing to it.  “It’s not as wide, but has really interesting molding.  But I have some questions about the depth of the shelves themselves. I don’t see it listed here”. She hits “reply” to the email.

“I love model #18965091 – Fairelane Tan. My space isn’t all that big and I don’t see the depth listed in the measurements. Can you help me out?” Lea hits “send”.

Email has long been the standard for web-based communication with customers. But, just because it’s older doesn’t make it old-school. Email is still one of the most important tools you have as a brand to create real and meaningful connections with your customers. It builds trust and credibility in a way that social media and other platforms can’t. The next time you hear someone foolishly proclaim “Email is dead!” remember that this person probably doesn’t have customers he is working hard to build relationships with. And if he does, he is going about it all wrong.

“Hi Lea! Sorry to hear that Cheery Cherry didn’t work out with your space requirements. I’d be happy to help you find something fitting your needs. Since Fairelane’s shelves go back pretty deep, at 30×20, I don’t think this is the right choice for you.

“Hmmmm,” Lea looks at that line with consternation. But she continues reading:

“I suggest downloading our mobile app. You can take a picture of the room and input the measurements you need and it will help you assess which case will fit the space and the room best.  Let me know how else I can help – Ginny S”

“Yeah, that’s just what I need!” she thinks and clicks on the link that leads her to download the mobile app from the app store.

 

The Mobile Experience: Essential for Today’s Customers

 

After the app is done installing, she takes a picture of the room and indicates the area where the shelf would go. “Right here,” she says as she moves the slider over a few pixels on her smartphone screen. She types in the dimensions of the space and in a few moments she gets a list of potential bookcases that would fit the space.

Our mobile devices have become an ingrained part of our identities over the last few years. We go everywhere with them and we check them hundreds of times a day. And mobile e-commerce has surpassed web-based e-commerce, which should come as no big surprise considering that people access the internet via mobile devices much more than via laptops and desktops. In order to reach your customers where they want to be reached, mobile has to be at the very top of your multi-channel priority list.

Lea scrolls through the list and finally finds “The One”, a sleek bookcase in oak. “Love it!” she says. It looks great according to the picture she created using the mobile app and the dimensions are just right. Bingo.

 

Phone Support: Putting a Human Touch on an Ecommerce Multi-Channeling Experience

 

“Oohh, I do have one question, regarding the delivery date.” From her mobile she can one-click call them. She clicks “call” and waits for an agent who picks up after a moment.

“Oh Hi, I just placed an order, number 100982 and I have one question regarding the delivery date because I’ll be out of town next week.”

Don’t underestimate the power of a phone call. Sure we have so much tech in our lives that the phone might seem obsolete but the truth is that studies have shown that if you don’t offer proper phone support, your customers will take their business elsewhere. A phone call offers easy human contact in a manner that many people still prefer today and the fact that Mobile is the hot platform of the day is driving the trend back up in a big way.

“Hi Lea, My name is Matt and I see your order here. I also see you are returning the Cheery Cherry bookcase. I’d be happy to help you figure out a delivery date that works best for you.”

After a pleasant conversation, Lea has chosen a date for the delivery of the new case and the return of the old bookcase. With everything sorted out and her goals accomplished, she thinks to herself, “Wow that was so simple, it was almost enjoyable.” Each platform along the way performed brilliantly, creating a seamless story, one that leaves Lea not only a satisfied customer but a really pleased one, one who knows that no matter what, CoolCases will be her first and only choice the next time she remodels or refurnishes her apartment.

An effective multi-channel ecommerce strategy is what creates those positive stories, the ones that bring your customers back for more. When done “right”, the stories they’ll tell about your brand will be more than just positive – They’ll be enthusiastic and empowered, with the knowledge that you’ll be right there, wherever and whenever your customers choose to engage with your brand. Create those stories today with your effective multi-channel ecommerce strategy.

25 Mar 2014
Why Customers Love Self-Service

Why Customers Love Self-Service

Customer service certainly isn’t what it used to be. The traditional methods of interacting with customer support agents have given way to new and improved ways of providing assistance to customers at eCommerce websites. Time is of the essence and nothing is more exasperating than having to wait for customer agents to respond to queries – it’s a customer’s bête noire.  As customers, we get to see things from a different perspective; it’s our time and money and we generally expect things to be tailored to our preferences. From this perspective, customer service that is available in the form of self-service is preferred. And it’s not merely a singular viewpoint; this has been backed up by extensive research into the merits of automated self-service. The trend nowadays is unmistakable: customers want to help themselves and self-service provides that option.

What Do Customers Really Want?

Customers still enjoy phone support services, but times they are a changing and self-service support is fast gaining ground as the most popular option. It’s all about cutting out excessive waiting times in phone queues, doing away with delays between sending emails and waiting for responses. But convenience is just one aspect of the customer service operation. The accuracy of information provided to customers is very important as well.

Enter self-service. Rapid technological advances have made it entirely possible for eCommerce websites to provide the option of self-service, as an adjunct to traditional customer service methods. As a case in point, a Forester analyst – Kate Leggett alluded to the fact that self-service has increased by 12% between 2011 and 2014. Viewed in perspective, it is clear that the manner in which businesses and customers interact is changing to meet the preferences of customers, on their terms. Self-service doesn’t mean that customers have to go digging around through eCommerce websites in search of assistance; Self-service is more than just deflection, it is rapid, accurate, tailored and readily available service that allows a much improved online shopping and customer experience. The use of nanorep intelligent self-service technology facilitates all of these features with complete personalization in a self-aware, automatically populating knowledge base of question/answers.

Traditional Self-Service is Nothing New

It is somewhat ironic that the world’s most cutting-edge trading arena – eCommerce sites are only now awakening to the merits of self-service. In fact, traditional self-service has long since been in operation. Banks for example offer customers myriad self-service options to facilitate convenience, cut down on waiting times, and to allow personalized financial transactions. Would you prefer facing a live bank cashier over going to the nearest available ATM when you need some cash? I assume that the answer would be no. A new generation of customers has emerged and they are interested in self-service more so than traditional customer support. In the world of self-service there are many noticeable trends taking place. One of the most important trends is that of mobile self-service functionality. Mobile apps are an absolute priority with eCommerce websites and their customers. Of equal importance is the desire of customers to use one communication channel and then complete it in another. The goal is to maintain consistency, while providing personalized responses in a contextual framework.

Now Trending in Customer Self-Service

Businesses are now looking at creating knowledge bases that support proactive outbound communications. What this means for customers is that they will be able to use enhanced technology – as smartphones develop – to access more proactive outbound applications with rich multimedia content, links and more. This will allow customers to get in touch with customer support agents even after having received a message. Other trends to look out for include increasing personalization of interaction between customer agents and customers. This is something that is important to customers, because it makes them feel as if their questions and queries have the undivided attention of the customer support agents at the company. While the option still exists for customers to contact live agents in respect of knowledge they wish to acquire, the use of self-service among customers is now the go-to solution. Some 60% of consumers now utilize Web self-service knowledge as their preferred medium. Full integration of customer self-service options into analytics, reports and actionable responses are taking place.

Self-service is a must for any eCommerce website that demands to have a responsive customer service operation that is truly customer-centric and conversion driven.

23 Dec 2013
Social Q&A or Leveraging Expert Answers

Social Q&A or Leveraging Expert Answers

Visitors to websites, particularly sites that offer products and services, enjoy the convenience offered by online shopping. There are typically no queues, no delays and there is instant gratification. Let’s assume you’re shopping for a new pair of cross-trainers. You run a quick search for the item and you navigate to the site that best meets your quality and price requirements. Once on site, you’ll likely have a few questions about the product or similar products. What do you do? This is the point at which eCommerce websites face their biggest challenge. In the presence of an effective ‘information exchange’ customers should easily find the information they are looking for and presented with accurate answers in case they have further questions. In the absence of such an efficient information exchange, there are 2 critical failures:

  • Poor customer experience
  • Website or Shopping cart abandonment

In an effort to reduce these negative effects, and potentially reverse them, eCommerce websites have multiple options available to them. When focusing on improving the availability of information and the speed of response the most popular option is Web self-service, which roughly divides into Q&A solutions relying on user-generated content and other solutions that rely on learning and automating professional agents’ answers. Let’s objectively assess these information exchange mechanisms available to customers. In seeking the best self-service support software it’s important to understand precisely what effect each of them will have on the customer experience. Solutions that rely on an ongoing knowledge base learning process are preferable since they can have greater effect of improving customer service.

Evaluating Social Q&A Solutions

In one form or another, these types of customer support solutions are well known to almost every website visitor. Many folks find themselves scouring through all manner of community-style forums in search of answers. Oftentimes there will be a virtual agent posted on site to assist with product related queries, or other general information. These types of systems are certainly a step in the right direction as they encourage interaction between customers and the website. But a caveat is in order: the engagement process can become detrimental if frustrations begin mounting. This is showcased in terms of the narrow scope available to virtual agents when responding to the unique questions and concerns that customers may have. In much the same way, forums provide a podium for raising issues but the response time may be significant.

Of equal import is the accuracy of the responses from fellow community members. Oftentimes these Q&A solutions may end up doing more harm than good as evidenced by higher abandonment rates, decreasing ROI and dissatisfied customers.  FAQ software is effective only when it is all encompassing, but the personalized nature of individual queries precludes an effective, overarching FAQ base. Examples of social Q&A solutions include the likes of mindquilt, lithium, answerbase and turnto. These systems are quick-fix solutions to providing Q&A interaction on websites. However, as mentioned earlier, they are subject to the same limitations as other Q&A systems.

Alternative Solutions

It is evident that there are indeed many merits in a Q&A system that is community based. Site owners have largely adopted these systems as a one-stop solution to engaging with customers on many different fronts. However, the limitations they are hamstrung by are noteworthy. An alternative approach to creating a customer support solution is one that relies on an exceptionally high degree of accuracy and top-tier quality. Such online customer support software is geared towards intelligent self-learning technology. In other words, a technology that is able to provide the most relevant single answer on cue. This type of software can effectively repeat agents’ answers, thereby enhancing the customer experience.

Intelligent customer support software is always conversion oriented. It simply needs to be – happy customers are repeat customers.  Higher conversion rates are a natural consequence of such customer service software. The time saved by not having to ruffle through countless threads on forums is certainly a boon to customers. nanorep works hard to improve the customer experience, which in turn boosts ROI, decreases shopping cart abandonment and leads to a win-win situation for all. eCommerce website owners enjoy peace of mind with software that ‘understands’ the customer’s language and easily directs them to the information they require to make informed shopping decisions.

20 Nov 2013
How to Boost Average Sale Price by 50%

How to Boost Average Sale Price by 50%

Among the many challenges that online retailers face is the issue of conversion. Regardless of the product or service being offered, the uncertainty inherent in many purchases is an impediment to closing the deal. Typically, customers arrive at a specific website with their curiosity piqued. They have a desire to purchase a product or a service, but the uncertainty they may feel regarding the specifics of the product may serve to dissuade them from completing their purchases. Online retailers pour tremendous resources into gaining virtual shelf space on the Web. This is primarily done through search engine optimization and search engine marketing methods. However, the job is not done when customers arrive at an online retailer’s site; making the sale is paramount. If visitors have any uncertainties during the shopping process, this will invariably reflect in the final purchase decision. It’s vitally important to do everything possible to minimize those uncertainties or even eliminate them entirely. The goal is therefore to boost shoppers’ confidence in order to generate more conversions and increased shopping cart value.

Engaging with Customers

Online retailers are well aware that there is a significant volume of “Lost Trade” – known as the Abandonment Rate – between the time that a customer starts browsing, selects items for purchase, and attempts to check out and pay. It is at this very juncture – the uncertainty stage – that an effective customer experience strategy can decrease this abandonment at each of the different stages, recoup some of the lost sales and boost overall ROI. Of course, the effectiveness of instant accurate web self-service tools in terms of incremental sales is dependent upon the experience and the quality of the support that is offered to customers. nanorep provides online retailers with premium-quality Q&A tools that make information seamlessly available and accessible to boost the overall customer engagement and shopping experience. The immediacy and accuracy of the answers provided goes a long way towards assuaging customer concerns, thus generating a higher conversion rate and a higher average sale price.

The secret to the effectiveness of nanorep rests in the proficiency, accuracy and real-time engagement that are offered. Customers have access to immediate real-time assistance from any page or even social channels whenever they need it. In addition, customers can easily access FAQs on a certain product or service they are interested in without having to dig for information, leave the page they are on or wait for assistance. The web self-service engagement strategy  provided by nanorep works around the clock, so customers everywhere can enjoy service excellence. The result is that incremental sales are boosted.

By providing this terrific customer support software, trust is established and uncertainty is eliminated. Many times, customers will go so far as the final checkout stage and then abandon their purchases. This could be the result of not having all the relevant information available or actually discovering new facts about the products or services. The net effect of this lack of knowledge is diminished confidence in completing the purchase.  Fortunately, with nanorep this is being reversed and significant improvements in sales are being seen.

The Convenience of Online Shopping with the Confidence of In-Store

In truth, online retailers lose scores of customers throughout the online shopping process. However, it is entirely possible to decrease the abandonment rates and boost the conversion rates of those customers who go through the process of adding items to the shopping cart. One of the main reasons for abandoning the purchase is lack of information. In other words, shoppers have a lack of confidence when swiping their card and committing to the purchase. So, if it is possible to provide a better service and an improved flow of information, it is entirely possible to significantly raise shoppers’ confidence. This will have the added effect of  dramatically increasing the overall sales figures. By interacting with more visitors and providing them with better service and a more hands-on experience, these numbers can be boosted dramatically.

Numbers suggest that customers who interact with nanorep web self-service tools are 5 times more likely to complete their purchases than those who don’t. In addition, the figures reflect that users, who interact with the nanorep customer support software, receive all the information they need and spend on average 50% more on each purchase. The net effect of this web self-service engagement strategy and superior customer service software is an incredible boost in revenue, compliments of nanorep.

01 Aug 2013
How to Prepare Online Customer Service for the Holidays

How to Prepare Online Customer Service for the Holidays

Did you know that Americans spent $42.3 billion online during the holidays last year – a 14% increase from 2011? And that does not even include the sales from other countries.

Clearly, the holiday season is the most-important time of the year for retailers and B2C businesse in general, but it takes months of preparation to prepare websites – and businesses as a whole – for the rush. To help you to get ready to take advantage of the opportunity, we at nanorep will be holding a free webinar soon to show e-commerce websites the best-practices in customer service and related topics for the holiday season. It’s important to start preparing now!

How to Prepare Customer Service for the Holidays

Date: Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Time: 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT (U.S. time)
With: Eyal Goldfarb, Senior Account Manager, Roy Goffer, Director of Marketing
Duration: One hour
Cost: Free

It is no secret that during the holiday season retailers experience a huge increase in traffic and demand. With online retail sales eclipsing over $1 billion in several individual days alone and the holiday season as a whole bringing around 25%- 40% of annual sales, it is no doubt that online retailers must prepare and adjust their customer service operation in advance.

Learn how you could maximize online sales during the holiday season by sustaining a high level of customer service regardless of the seasonal growth in incoming inquiries or tickets. Learn how nanorep’s smart all-in-one customer service software can help you:

  • Obtain your SLA goals without raising your support costs
  • Provide scalable customer service & support
  • Increase your customer satisfaction
  • Provide personal customer shopping experience with self-service tools
  • Automatically segment visitors based on conversation to increase live agents productivity

Don’t forget to click here to register!
We look forward to seeing you at the webinar.

29 Jul 2013
6 Things Your eCommerce Product Page Must Have

6 Things Your eCommerce Product Page Must Have

As most online business, eCommerce websites seek to convert as many visitors as possible. In order to do that there are two different spaces in which they need to work; the pre-click and the post-click marketing. Pre-click is all the efforts and campaigns to get relevant visitors to your website, whether it is from ads or organic search engine queries while post-click refers to getting those users  on your website to make a certain action. For eCommerce sites this action is usually the purchase which is done from a specific product page.

The product page’s role in this process is getting more and more important due to the changes in online users behavior. The popularity of smartphones for example, got consumers to perform more searches for specific product models in order to compare prices with brick & mortar stores. This means that getting product pages listed high in search engines has become as important as having an eCommerce website’s homepage listed there. But getting traffic is merely enough, the page itself needs to be designed and optimized so users add products to the shopping cart and eventually purchase. Here are six things which every eCommerce product page must incorporate.

Exciting Product Page Content

Quality content is extremely important for SEO but we often neglect our ultimate goal which is selling products for online customers. So, a good original copy and personal touch on the product page will definitely help your product get more attention and increase sales.

The copy could be entertaining but at the same time should clearly deliver the product qualities and value proposition. Here is a good example:

eCommerce Product Page content

Awesome Product Photos

eCommerce product pages must provide customers an easy way to view and examine the product. Therefore, it should incorporate large, high-resolution photos and also allow viewing the product from different angles and colors if needed.

With the increasing popularity of image searches in search engines, a quality and accurate product image is also another great way to draw traffic straight to the relevant product page.

eCommerce Product Page Photos

Accessible On-Page and Per Product FAQ

Providing specific frequently asked questions on your product pages has great value in various ways. It gives your website credibility which helps potential customers trust your website. Easy access to information also improves customer experience as it gives as much needed information as possible in advance so customers don’t even have to ask certain questions. Even more crucial for eCommerce sites is the conversion value of on-page self-service assistance. The fact that potential customers can find answers instantly without leaving the product page and abandoning the purchase funnel maximizes conversion rates.

One of the most-common types of search-engine queries is questions – “How Do I…” or “What is the…” or “Does the….” As a result, websites with well-written FAQ pages with original text for each product will be more likely to rank highly in search results when people ask Google specific questions.

eCommerce Product Page FAQ

Objective User Reviews

The best way to earn your customer trust is by providing product reviews and testimonials from other customers who have purchased the product. 72% of people trust online user reviews as much as they do personal recommendations.

So, the use of user reviews will help building customer confidence as well as getting to your product page from search engines which give user reviews more and more weight in the rankings algorithm.

eCommerce Product Page reviews

Various Communications Channels

Offer your customers as many different communicate channels as possible and be sure they are all visible and available from the product page itself. Since not all people prefer to use the same communication channel, you should allow them to choose from contacting your customer service via phone, email, live chat or self-service tools.

eCommerce Product Page communication

An omni-channel approach to customer service is crucial to increasing conversions at a time when peoples’ attention spans are divided between numerous mediums and devices. Quick customer support is one of the most-important factors in e-commerce success. As such, e-commerce product pages need to use widgets that tailor the customer experience for Facebook, mobile devices, live chat, and more.

Clear Call-for-Action

Whether it is an “Add to Cart”, a “Proceed to Checkout” or any other button you must make it highly visible, clear and make sure you are consistent with the message and design and allow easy access to the shopping cart from all pages. Confusion or challenges in finding and proceeding to checking out is a major reason for low conversion rates.

eCommerce Product Page call for action

20 May 2013
Why Your Customers Need to Trust Your Website

Why Your Customers Need to Trust Your Website

What do visitors look for when deciding whether to make a purchase from your website?

According to a new study by Rakuten, the answer seems to be first price and then trust:

…while consumers love nothing better than a bargain (61%), almost half of global shoppers (49%) surveyed consider the reliability of the retailer to be paramount when making purchase decisions online, highlighting the importance of trust.

The interest in the lowest-possible prices is understandable in an economic climate that is still wavering between recession and slow growth. However, having low prices is not the end-all, be-all of increasing sales and revenue. Too many random e-commerce websites advertise deals that are seemingly too good to be true – and, in reality, that is usually the case.

Customers will pay higher prices in exchange for purchasing from sites that are well-known, reputable, and trustworthy – one could call it a “security premium.” After all, would you give your credit-card details to a random, unknown website just to save three dollars? Most people would rather pay a bit more for a known brand and one that provides a consistent customer service and shopping experience. As Rakuten U.S. Division COO and CMO Bernard Luthi said:

This research shows that, while price is important, shoppers are increasingly looking for more than that online, they want brands they can rely on, that deliver entertaining and secure shopping experiences… Retailers need to focus on creating a reliable shopping experience in order to build loyal consumers who are happy to come directly to them for their shopping needs. Competition online is evolving, discerning shoppers will always look for a good deal, but as retailers we need to move away from a model of unsustainable cost cutting towards value creation.

The Rakuten study is not alone. The Yankee Group that states people are now less likely to purchase items online because of trust issues:

…44 percent of consumers say they’re less likely than they were a year ago to trust a Web merchant with personal data. And more than half of consumers (55 percent) have experienced security incidents that caused them to think twice about using an e-commerce Web site.

Clearly, e-commerce websites need to compete not only on price but also on trust. Merely offering the best price to customers will not result in more sales if they do not trust your company with their personal and financial details.

To increase your website’s “trust factor,” there are several actions you can take:

  • Obtain a Better Business Bureau accreditation in the United States (or a similar association in your country)
  • Display badges, icons, seals, and logos that show that your website uses modern encryption technology and is guarded by reputable security software
  • Show proof that credit-card transactions are processed securely

However, presenting security icons and logos on your site alone are not enough to win the customers trust and business. E-commerce websites need to employ a complete strategy to provide trustworthy information and reliable experience through different channels.  Here are a few examples:

  • Be consistent. If your website’s blog published a new post every week, do not skip a week. Make sure that your web host serves your site with minimal downtime.
  • Do not be anonymous. Include photos, biographies, and other real information about the staff of your website so that visitors know that the owners and managers are real, verifiable people.
  • Use testimonials and case studies. Showcase quotes, stories, and more from real, satisfied customers. Do not make up this information.
  • Include guarantees. Incorporate money-back guarantees or 30-day guarantees for your products or services – and do not renege on these items. (A bad experience can be posted on social media and then spread.)
  • Use customer-friendly widgets. Customers place more trust on websites that actually help them and do not merely push them to make a purchase. Items, for example, that provide engagement, customer support, and personal shopping assistance increase trust – and thereby sales revenue over the long-term.

And why is that? Such strategies make e-commerce websites more social. A research paper by Stanford University professors Stephen Guo, Mengqiu Wang, and Jure Leskovec on Taobao, one of the largest e-commerce websites in the world, found that:

Through the study of directed closure rules, we empirically verify that implicit information passing is present in the Taobao network, and show that communication between buyers is a fundamental driver of purchasing activity. We then investigate the directed triadic closure process and explain how link formation is highly dependent upon the distribution of buyer/seller roles for the nodes of a social commerce network. Third, we use Taobao review data to demonstrate how high seller ratings are associated with product price premiums, and thus quantify a price for trust. Finally, we develop a machine learning model to accurately predict consumer choice, and demonstrate that the social network is the most important feature in predicting how consumers choose their transaction partners.

Social signals are some of the most-important factors that determine the trustworthiness of a website – and its overall sales volume. The more e-commerce websites can interact and establish trust via social-media tools, the more that customers will trust the websites and recommend them to their friends via those social networks.

If your website visitors do not trust your company, then having low prices will not matter. They still will not buy from you.