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Are you Mobile for 2014?

In today’s society people are always on the go, but having the technology at hand allows them to access the internet by their mobile device. The ability to access the internet with their mobile device has create a new platform for marketers and retail stores to accustom to. It is crucial for your retail store to have your website become mobile device friendly. Did you know that 46% of all online sales come from a mobile device? If your company is not mobile device friendly in 2014 you, could potentially be missing out on almost half of your online sales.

Customers reaching out to your website through their mobile device want to be able to access and navigate your mobile friendly site with ease. Therefore, it is important for your website to display only the necessary information that you want them to see that they can view on their mobile device. Doing this directs the customers to the products or categories that you want to sell the most. On top of having an easily navigable mobile device site, you must incorporate a simple check out system so your customers can buy their products in a minimal amount of time.

Other than making your website mobile device compatible, you must consider other areas where you solicit your company such as email and newsletters. In 2013 65% of all email and newsletters were opened through a mobile device and has been predicted to increase in 2014. Therefore when sending out company newsletters with your coupons, deals, or anything else you must consider making them mobile friendly as well. This way you can get a higher opening percent rate and potentially drive more customers to your online or into your store.

Following those simple guidelines your company could see an increase in sale during 2014.

Brick and Mortar Tips for Online Stores: Part 5

Next in our series we will go over the ways in which you can merchandise your online store to suit the needs of your customers and get their return business. Generally, retail stores change their visual merchandising once a month – sometimes more if there are specific promotions that they need to do a floor change for. This is helpful advice to online retailers, as your online store should also be re-merchandised on a regular basis.

Think of your brick and mortar store or the last time you visited a retail store. The products in the store are going to be organized and displayed in a manner that provokes the customer to shop and to buy. If it was a pet store, for example, there would be different areas for dogs and cats and fish set up so that customers would know to go to a specific part of the store to find what they are looking for. Your ecommerce site should also accomplish this by categorizing and organizing your products in a way that makes sense to you and your customers. You wouldn’t want someone to click on a link for dogs and end up with aquariums and hamster food.

Aside from organizing your products in a shopable manner, you’re going to want to update this merchandising on a regular basis. You don’t have to change your entire product arrangement every month, but you should be conscious of your featured products and specials. These things need to be updated so that customers get a sense of new and exciting offers and items when they visit your site. If you can keep a customer engaged when they come to your store, you can get their return business instead of a one-time shopper.

Brick and Mortar Tips for Online Stores: Part 2

To continue with our series on applying brick and mortar ideas to your online store, this segment will cover how you can implement tools to make your online shoppers feel as though they have the same customer service that they would at your shop.

When you go to a retail store, one of the first things that will happen is a sales associate will greet you (hopefully in a friendly manner) and ask you what you are looking for or if you need help finding a specific item. The associate might also tell the customer what specials are going on or what products are currently on sale.

You can do several different things to achieve this same effect online, utilizing multiple features to recreate some of the convenience of having a sales associate to reference.

To assume the role of greeter for your web store, you can use bright banner images on your landing page to greet your customers. This will need to be friendly, informative and aesthetically interesting to engage your customers and get them to look further into your shop. Think about what you do when you visit a site for the first time. Do you give the site a chance to load fully and display all of its images? Do you read the full page before deciding to navigate further? Normally, you are going to have less than 10 seconds to get a customer hooked on your page. The landing page will serve as a greeter and hopefully will achieve this for your web store.

In addition to having great content on your landing page, having a chat feature is another wonderful way to engage your customers. A chat feature allows customer to interact with your support staff in an anonymous way (if they choose) that often times gives them a sense of security. It can help your customers who may have anxieties about talking on the phone with a sales rep as it is a digital interface.

Another tip to creating a great service element is having a properly functioning search bar. If a customer can search for a certain product within your site, it is a great tool for them in navigation. It’s almost like having a salesperson there who you can ask what isle you’ll find the product in. This feature should be user-friendly, adapting to misspellings and other factors of human error. Maybe you don’t carry a certain product online but you carry it in store. This tool should be used in the same way a sales person would be. If a customer asks for something that doesn’t exist in your store, can you offer suggestions like a salesperson would?

These simple steps, although they’ll probably take some programming work from your developers, will ensure that you don’t lose sight of customer service on your ecommerce site.

Brick and Mortar Tips for Online Stores: Part 1

In this series, we will be examining the ways in which retail stores can help us to better optimize online stores. For those of you who already have a brick and mortar, these tips might seem familiar and will be easily implemented. Those who don’t have a storefront might have some trouble with a few concepts, but will ultimately see the value in applying these processes to online marketplaces.

First, let’s talk about window space in retail. When you are at a shopping center or walking down a main street, looking at the shops, the first thing that you’re going to notice is the shop’s windows. These windows stand as a snippet of what the store has to offer. The color stories, the placement, the signage – all of these things are designed to peak your curiosity and get you to come inside. Some stores might even place signage out on the sidewalk or have a greeter, handing out coupons or fliers outside the front door.

In correlation to your web store, the front shop windows are your homepage or landing page. This is the first thing that a customer sees of your store and you have less than 10 seconds to impress them and get them to stay on your page.

Thinking of a retail space, shops are consistently redoing their windows to keep current and interesting. If you passed a store several times and the windows were the same, you probably wouldn’t go in because there wouldn’t be anything new or noteworthy. The same is true of your front/landing page. These need to be changed constantly to keep customers returning.

To recap, treat your landing page like storefront windows – change it up, keep it current and make it interesting to draw in traffic and keep customers coming back for more.

eCommerce Fraud: Preparation and Prevention

Fraud is common in retail, regardless of the interface used, but when it comes to the world of e-commerce, there is a greater risk of fraud for three main reasons.

First, and most important, is the fact that you are not handling the payment method. Think about it – if you walked into a gas station with a piece of paper that had all of the right credit card information on it, they still wouldn’t accept that as payment. You would need the physical card in your hand to use it. It’s different in the e-commerce arena. There is no way to be 100% certain that you are dealing with a real person or if they are using real information.

Second, you are not in charge of your merchandise throughout the entire transaction. At the gas station, the cashier decides when it is ok for you to pump the gas, but when someone is shopping online, you ship the order out in good faith, trusting your preventative measures and hoping that you didn’t just ship it out at a loss to your business.

Lastly, there are several different types of fraud that can occur in an e-commerce marketplace. You have to watch out for counterfeit credit cards and gift cards, but also you have to make sure that you aren’t being taken advantage of by chargeback fraud. The internet is a vast space that allows criminals to take unprepared shop owners by surprise.

So how can you take the proper measures and secure your site to the best of your abilities? There are actually quite a few ways that are simple and effective when it comes to preventing e-commerce fraud and fraudulent activities. Make sure that you have a procedure that you follow every time you get an order and keep it consistent. You should be checking the shipping and billing addresses and security codes or CVV2 codes on all orders. If the shipping address and billing address are different, call the customer to verify the order. These are two steps that can go a long way in preventing fraud. You can also check the email that was given with the order to see if it is from a free email site. If an order is large compared to your average dollar sale, you should be calling or emailing that customer to verify the order and be sure it was correct.

In the end, it is better to have called and double checked an order than to be at a loss. No customer who has legitimately placed an order is going to be mad at you for calling. It shows that you are offering the best customer service possible, because your costs go up if you are constantly losing money to fraud.