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July 2017

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Increase your sales by implementing six steps to improve ecommerce performance

By | Magento

The prime factor in implementing online sales is commissioning an online platform that will attract, engage and trigger sales conversions. That is the aspiration. However platform fulfilment is merely the first step to achieving those online goals of optimum sales. There are many aspects and deliverables that contribute to a business appropriate ecommerce website. Developing the platform from scratch enables Webmasters and SEOs to construct a site that is customised and fully fit for purpose with all the deliverables fully integrated.

In building any business, including the bricks and mortar model, you usually need to do two things – inform people about it and ensure that your sales team are completely skilled up in selling the products. When Companies decide to expand their market reach with the help of an ecommerce site, providing its customers with the options of quickly and intuitively choosing, filtering and paying for products in a secure environment, their expectations of immediate success are usually high. Unfortunately early results can be disappointing especially if the site performance is below par. E Commerce is not necessarily a silver bullet for fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of ecommerce entrepreneurs. There are many reasons for slow response – the front runner usually being poor UX design which users find a real turn off. If they cannot find what they want in as few clicks as possible they will understandably go elsewhere to make that purchase. Once the consumer has left the site a sale is lost with little chance of re-targeting. Therein lies a major stumbling block to progress and growth. Your application must have an intuitive UX design, including easy navigation, for potential customers to stay long enough to click through and fulfil a purchase. Data analysis of customer habits suggests that on average they only have success with their purchases 56% of the time. That percentage could increase with improved usability by a whopping 79%.

If the platform is not properly designed and constructed around a clear set of objectives in the first instance then it is unlikely to meet customer expectations. Consumer search and fulfilment requirements demand instant precise and relevant information from their search query, an intuitive shopping experience and a fast secure pathway to order fulfilment, shipping and payment – all in lightning fast download times.  Anything less and your ecommerce platform is designed to fail.

With a capable platform in place you can then fine tune it to improve its performance, to attract and retain potential customers and to increase online sales. Do remember however that your product must also measure up to customer expectations. Without that all important element of any successful online business your ecommerce platform will certainly be no silver bullet in flogging a dead horse.

With a professional compliant and secure platform in place you can certainly take measures to improve its selling capability.

 

E Commerce performance and success can be improved with 6 steps:

  1.  Do not overload the network unnecessarily

Network overload is the next greatest problem after information overload and requires managing. Social networks seem to remain walled gardens with open source solutions not offering any real integration across social networks. A community dashboard would be really handy across all the social networks but is unavailable at present. Some social bookmarking websites such as “delicious” create more relevance through a straightforward tag. If your network speeds are slow it affects the Development Operations and Business Teams as much as the network engineering side. It is imperative to know what exactly is slowing the system so corrective action can be taken. There are ten elements that could possibly be contributing to the problem of network overload. When addressed you can avert network congestion in future :

  • An over abundance of hosts in the network structure.
  • Too many simultaneous requests on the network such as on Black Friday leading to overload.
  • Congestion through low bandwidth, for example when Netflix is taking up 40% of the internet or during optimal TV streaming hours.
  • Hub connection point is a location for congestion – A suggestion is to consider how best to integrate the hub into the internet to avoid this issue..
  • Multicasting is simultaneous transmission of two packages causing collision and network congestion. Too many computers communicating at the same time can be a prime cause of network overload. It may be worth taking a look at “ Anycast” as a possible solution.
  • Hardware such as switches, routers, servers and Internet exchanges may need updated if they are causing a funnel or bottleneck in the system for data transmission.
  • Poor configuration management where a network is not maintained or an engineer introduces a virus into the system when working on repetitive scripts.
  • Foreign devices on your network. A rogue adapter or hacker accesses the network through an entry point or error. Unwanted devices can slow down the network unexpectedly.
  • Border Gateway Protocol which sends information, directs traffic by the shortest logical route irrespective of how much traffic is currently travelling on that pathway. Network overload in this instance creates slower internet speeds.
  • ISPs can dictate just how fast they send traffic over its networks and can be a cause of artificial congestion again slowing down the internet.

2   Curtail the number of HTTP errors internally

There are many situations that could cause a server to answer a request with an error code. If you know the 5x three digit codes you will have some idea from a system administrator perspective. The first digit will immediately identify the class of a status code for example: 1 = informational, 2= Success, 3=Redirection,4= Client Error, 5= Server Error and point administrators in the right direction when errors are flagged up. A more thorough analysis is necessary to pinpoint the actual cause and to correct it. Always start by checking that your servers are healthy and save yourself time in finding error causes, as this is generally where faults occur.

3    Improve backend performance 

Improve site speeds with more and faster servers. Also evaluate how your site loads –  its content, such as photos, text, and prices. A customisable dashboard will give you an overview of various aspects of your website such as: out of stock items, information requests, sales figures and ecommerce performance metrics. With administrative management you can give team members administrative control and restrict the areas they can view or edit. You should have meta data control enabling optimising for certain keywords in the Search Engines. The back end should also allow you to upload a robots.txt  to control site page crawling and indexing for SERPs and a sitemap to ensure all the relevant pages are being indexed for Search Engine page ranking. Tracking Code on each page will compress timelines avoiding the need to deploy a web developer each time work is required. Your store management software should allow editing of categories and sub-categories as well as product colours, sizes and descriptions. Order management is essential to enable tracking and status of sales, shipping orders and customer information.  You can use a profiler tool to analyse how a system is working and identify the congestion bottlenecks so corrective action can be initiated immediately with little down time.

4    Understand your customers

This can be achieved through mapping customer onsite behaviour so you can better meet the needs of both men and women on their purchase journey. Adequate quality product information is a must for the online shopper today who wants to be fully informed before making that all important decision to purchase. Since shoppers are browsing on many different devices and across channels, the majority moving from mobile to desk-top to finish the transaction, it is imperative to adapt a multi screen approach to accommodate these online customer behavioural patterns. Make sure you have an ecommerce hosting plan that performs to optimal standards with websites ranging from small enterprises to large corporate retail and wholesale platforms. Customers now want to literally buy in one click so you have to ensure your site can respond to that demand or risk losing business into the future.

5     Make sure your ecommerce is scalable

Having a scalable ecommerce database your ecommerce website can evolve and grow to meet increasing business demand to expand. Its database will affect its scalability directly so it is essential that the database accommodates relationships expansion without IT intervention to make it happen. Scalability could be improved with a cloud based database as it grows exponentially along with the business. You have to be aware of the maximum load your database can handle based on your system so look at locking and input/output speed. Enabling indexing and intelligent caching  can also help increase scalability especially in handling very frequent transactions. The lesson is – at site construction stage, implement a database that is fit for purpose going forward.

6     Use conversion metrics to analyse and understand sales results through the conversion rate.

Based on this data you can make better informed decisions on content marketing strategies and SEO campaigns to optimise performance and harness sales conversions into the future.

The bottom line is get to know the workings of your ecommerce website so you understand the basic principles behind its development and have some appreciation of requirements for its success from both a digital and business perspective. You will then appreciate that it is a sales tool requiring tweaking, from time to time, to get the most out of it.

If you have any questions or would like to have a chat with our Magento Dublin experts then please get in touch.

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  A sea change in ecommerce payments in 2017

By | Magento

Consumer expectations are realised

According to Andy Barker who joined Magento Commerce in 2016 as the Head of Payment Strategy for Global Payments, online and offline commerce has merged presenting the need to think outside the box in terms of the complex global payments landscape.

The shift in payment from transaction focus to customer experience heralds the new dawn of transaction payments being made invisible. Businesses such as Uber ride sharing have pioneered and heralded the growing possibility if not likelihood of near future invisible payments being implemented across many other businesses, including the ecommerce industry, paving the way for much safer, smoother and easier means of customer payment. The growing trend is aspirational from the customer’s viewpoint, considering the fact that they simply want a process that is seamless, secure and unobtrusive, allowing them to continue with their daily routine unhindered or preoccupied with unnecessary transaction burdens. This change in consumer expectations in one business sector or industry is quickly invading and spreading to others, especially the ecommerce industry, where customers now expect a payment experience that is uninterrupted, velvety smooth, efficient and secure. This can only be a positive development in terms of improving and speeding up online payments so contributing to greater customer engagement and conversion. Easier payment models can only increase consumer satisfaction with smoother pathways and should tip the balance in favour of increased conversions and fewer cart abandonments.

How can you smooth your customer’s payment experience?

  • There are a number of actions you can take to help your customer demographic progress this aspirational payment innovation. Whilst card payments are still popular it is increasingly obvious that the need to embrace online banking as a payment tender is the imperative for faster and easier payment pathways. Changing the consumer payment experience is a stimulating and motivating factor in terms of optimising engagement and compelling sales conversions. A seamless payment experience makes it more likely for a potential customer to complete the ecommerce journey and to even reengage. Like the analogous Uber taxi passenger, no more fumbling for money in their pocket and a resulting pleasant urge to use Uber again and repeat the seamless payment experience.
  • Optimising payment methods is something that should be done in tandem with constant analysis of conversion metrics in order to match demographics with the most appropriate and beneficial means of payment. See which payment pathways are converting  whilst others fail and take remedial action to optimise around those metrics. It is an evolving process that requires continual monitoring and adjustments and not something that is set and forgotten about.

 

  • Gain new customers and retarget abandoned carts through a strategy of providing the smoothest and easiest means of transaction payment. Readjust your payments to meet the everyday reality of omnichannel consumerism where you buy, fulfil and return anywhere. Orders that start on one particular channel very often finish off on a different one, with purchases made online being collected at the physical store and returned online. Payments need to be adapted to allow this process to flourish seamlessly across all channels with no interruptions or process deceleration.

 

  • You can help foster a more fluid process by reducing the need for customers having to record their payment information many times during a single transaction. There are technologies available such as, tokenisation and secure vaulting, to smooth sharing payment details across your channels in a safe way. Implementing such changes will hasten the process of making payments invisible.

 

  • It is imperative that you ensure money is received and returned on the same payment pathway and that customers are reimbursed by the same means they initially purchased the product. For example a purchase made online and returned to a physical store should be reimbursed through the same payment method and not refunded with an in house credit, which can be a complete turn off for the customer.

 

  • It is up to you to merge the consumer’s online and offline trading experience with a seamless process that removes any burden from the customer. To achieve invisible payments it is essential to work with payment providers who can support the required seamless and secure process.

 

  • To make the most of technical advancement like autofill, PayPal One Touch and Apple Pay, make sure you optimise your checkout for mobile. With the increasing numbers of mobile initiated commerce transactions you have to ensure that customer needs on mobile are fully catered for with your mobile offering.

Minimise fraud by limiting your vulnerability

With a pronounced increase in the past year of “card-not-present” fraud in spite of the new “chip-and-signature” cards designed to provide better protection to merchants and consumers at the physical point of sales, it behoves ecommerce suppliers to adopt a proactive approach to minimising fraud. The lesson is not to wait until it happens but be proactive, irrespective of your fraud protection being in house or outsourced. Any potential breach can be mitigated by following a few simple procedures.

 

  • Use the software technology at your disposal and deploy strategies with an effective blend of people and software tools. These tools can identify both good and suspect transactions in seconds with solutions that provide detailed information. They detect stolen or suspect cards through a global detection process pinpointing suspect cards deemed risky so payment completion can be instantly averted. Fraud signatures can be detected through IP piercing and device fingerprinting which accurately connect individuals to historical purchases. Fraudsters cards can be tracked to identify previous occasions of the card being used in unusual places or on too many devices, flagging up immediate warnings

 

  • A word of advice which may seem a little odd is to track your good customers. It is too time consuming to concentrate on looking for the bad ones who constitute only .9% of total transactions. Through this process of identifying good customers, their purchase patterns and order history you can compare this information with what you already possess on them. The process of disqualifying good customers from your fraud search will ensure a better customer experience with less interruption through fraud checks. There then is a much smaller number of potential fraud transactions to sift through making the process less difficult and more efficient.
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A thirty day window for retargeting with Dynamic Product Ads

By | Digital Marketing

Selling on social media is recognition of a market that has yet to be fully exploited to release the latent potential within to sell, upsell and retarget. According to Nosto “ The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Dynamic Product Ads,” an online customer will engage five times before committing to a purchase. This signifies and highlights the imperative of captivating your audience, continuing to engage with them wherever they might go and ensuring your offering grabs them sufficiently to stimulate and motivate a sales conversion.

Facebook Dynamic Product Ads provides a vehicle for promoting your products to a captive audience of 1.86 billion and an average of twelve times the “Return on Advertising Spend.”

It is your avenue to greater social selling success and should not be underestimated. Online visitors are reminded of their browsing history and of their product preferences incentivising them to make informed choices and delve further into related items that spark their interest.

A possible scenario is a potential sales situation where the preoccupied shopper has added items to their cart that were not purchased. What started as a browsing purchase signal and developed into a probable conversion with addition to the shopping cart triggered no action to actually purchase. A number of factors such as a customer being over stressed, hurrying the order process due to work constraints or time issues or simply creating an overcrowded cart where many items are forgotten in the maelstrom, can all dictate the outcome of an initial interest in certain items.

Ironically most E Commerce sales are activated through tablets or desktops though most E Commerce traffic is from mobile. This clearly highlights the fractured nature of the online buying process with shopping journeys starting on smartphones and finishing on tablets or PCs. Nosto data informs us that it is more meaningful to retarget through a shopper’s profile rather than cookies so they can carry on from where they left off. Their data suggests that those customers who have abandoned carts and are drawn back to the store through Dynamic Product Ads are fourteen times more valuable than average shoppers.

It is essential to consider lifetime value rather than single purchases to energise potential sales. Existing data claims that 10.6 times ROAS result from retargeting through post-purchase ads, so embracing and deploying Dynamic Product Ads is a no brainer for all website owners. They also attract new customers if your ads reflect current trends and highlight the most up to date items. Of course there are a number of best practices that should be observed to reap optimal  gain from a Dynamic Product Ads campaign. The important point to remember is that there is a cut off time for maximum effectiveness of a retargeting campaign and that is approximately thirty days after customers have revisited the store. Another important element of successful retargeting is ensuring you have a single focal point when creating copy  to accompany the visual product. Text needs to instil passion and create a fear of losing out whilst sticking to one call-to-action. There is the potential to stray from the item originally viewed and related purchases, to other ranges – do not be tempted as this is a retrograde step which can produce inferior ROAS and conversion rates and do not confuse tools to improve profitability and cart value with the objective of expediting customers back to your store.

If you have an questions or would like to discuss the information above our expert Magento Dublin team are here to help.