Friday, 28 June 2013

The Power of eCommerce - Part 3

The final instalment of the ‘Power of eCommerce’ series, will be talking about which features are best for your business. There are a multitude of online stores out there, with varying complexities and features. In some cases, less is more, but in other cases, a small, additional feature can mean the world of difference. Here’s a list of the most common additional features used in online stores, how to use them, and how not to use them.

Wish Lists/Saving Orders

Built to target three types of consumers in the online world that these features are aimed towards:

  1. The ‘Hesitators’: your friends who take 30mins to decide if they want coke or lemonade at Macca’s Drive-thru – they get too emotionally unstable that they just need to take a break and come back to decide later.
  2. The ‘Comparers’: bargain hunters who will judge products with a set list of criteria to ensure they get the best deal – they’ll grab wish lists from as many websites as they can, and assess their options with a fine-toothed comb.
  3. The ‘Regulars’: that guy who orders the same subway sandwich, with the same salads and dressing, with the same bread, from the same subway, every day – sometimes, you just shouldn’t mess with a good thing.

These features are usually used exclusive of each other depending on the business and product line, but can be a huge success if used properly and in the right context.

Be Warned: the ability to save orders might take away some of the revenue created from your impulse buyers. Give them the chance to think, and they may think saving their money is a better option.

Quick Tip: if you’re going to have the ability to create a Wish List, the best way to approach it would be to allow the customer to email their wishlist to themselves or a friend, as this will help remind them of the products, (and if you want to be a little bit naughty, their email address can always be stored for later use in campaign efforts).

Promo Codes

Promo Codes are a great way to start a feeding frenzy, or reward customers for their loyalty. It adds extra incentive for potential customers to finally take that leap and buy the jacket they’ve been eyeing off for the past week, throws a little bit of brand loyalty their way, and it’s a great way to launch a new campaign/brand/product.

The Big Questions: Should it be a fixed price, or a percentage discount? Should it only apply for purchases over $XX? Should it only apply to certain products, or product categories? Simply, there’s no one way to do them. It depends on your business model, your product line and what you’re looking to achieve.

Be Warned: if you’re going to use a Promo Code, run some sort of Campaign to go with it. Your Profit Margins will be smaller, so your sales need to be bigger!

Quick Tip: It might seem pointless, but the actual Promo Code to be entered to receive the discount is a great opportunity for the business. A strategically designed promo code can actually be really effective. People pay attention to the codes that need to be entered, instead of wasting an opportunity using the code to be ‘XH7dsgJ’, make it something relevant, eg. ‘SuperSummerSale’, or even have a bit of humour, and use something like ‘GiveMeFreeStuff’. It all contributes to your brand image, and the message you are trying to send through the campaign efforts.

Members vs Guest Checkout

It’s your old fashioned Catch-22 scenario. If I force them to become members in order to purchase, some may choose to purchase elsewhere. But if they do register as members, I have all the details I need to sell them more stuff!

Members sections are great for products people will purchase regularly as shipping/billing details are saved, consumers are likely have a good relationship with your website, so would want to know about regular sales and promotions, and it generally streamlines the purchasing process.

Guest checkout options are perfect for my rule of thumb: if people are forced to sign up to your mailing list, they probably aren’t going to read your emails anyway, but if people have the option and choose to sign up, then you’ve got the best of both worlds - you keep a good relationship with your customer, and you’ll have a mailing list full of interested contacts.

Remember: 1 willing subscriber is worth 10 unwilling subscribers!