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2016 eCommerce Trends

With 2015 coming to a close, it’s already time to start getting your eCommerce site ready for 2016.  Trends have come and gone, but the following are going to reign next year…and likely stay for good.

1. Mobile shopping.  We’ve said it time and time again: mobile shopping is as prevalent as shopping on a desktop or laptop.  Our culture now dictates mobile devices as a must-have item, making it a key component of eCommerce.  It should be noted that we’re not talking about mobile apps.  We’re talking about mobile sites.  A report from Kissmetrics found that 7 in 10 consumers would rather use a mobile website over an app.  The same report concluded that mobile phone users are the most valuable segment of customers because their conversion rate is so high.

2. Marketing automation.  You might be thinking email automation with this one, but it’s so much more!  Ventureburn notes that “customized landing pages, tailor-made discounts and promotions, easily accessible shopping carts, and automatic display of related recommended products for customers” fall in the realm of marketing automation as well.

3. Product customization.  You’ve probably been online recently and seen options to customize or personalize products.  This is a growing trend in B2B and B2C spaces because everyone wants their products tailored.  What’s better than designing exactly what you want?

4. User interface improvements.  No one wants to shop on a clunky eCommerce store.  Simplistic design and an easy check-out process will be king.  Practical Ecommerce also notes that striking photographs and videos will be popular in 2016.

Keep these trends in as we round out 2015.  eCommerce is booming in B2B and B2C spaces, so a look at upcoming trends will help keep your site relevant.  It’s a game to play –getting conversions– but it can be done with the right insight.

eCommerce Lingo: Cross-selling and Upselling

You’ve probably heard the terms cross-sell and upsell in the eCommerce and/or marketing world.  The terms are often used interchangeably, but they could make up a venn diagram.  In eCommerce, it’s especially crucial to utilize these techniques for higher online sales.

Cross-selling is essentially getting the customer to purchase related products.  For example, if you’re purchasing a Fitbit online, the seller might prompt you to purchase a pack of Fitbit bands with different colors.  Or perhaps the online merchant suggests you add Fitbit’s scale to your cart.  These products, in general, are related.

Upselling is motivating the customer to upgrade to a more expensive product or add features to a product.  You’re still shopping for a Fitbit and you’ve been prompted to upgrade from a Fitbit Flex to a Fitbit Surge and you’ll get free shipping if you do so!  What’s happening here is motivation to upgrade to a more expensive product with more features–upselling.

It gets confusing when the two concepts overlap.  You’ve probably seen words like “You may also like” and “Frequently purchased together” on eCommerce sites.  For example, if you’re shopping for a DVD player online, you might see a “Frequently purchased together” on the page, which points to flat screen TVs.  These items are companions, but purchasing a TV is a huge upgrade.  So while the eCommerce site is prompting you with a related product, it’s also prompting you with a more expensive product.

The bottom line is that cross-selling and upselling can gently motivate your customers to purchase more.  However, it should be done properly.  Look carefully at previous orders–what do customers frequently purchase together?  Are customers adding more features like warranties?  Evaluations of past purchases can help you predict future orders and prompt those customers accordingly.

Znode’s Multifront eCommerce platform offers both cross-selling and upselling capabilities for your eCommerce site.  This is an essential feature, so make sure your eCommerce site is with the times!


PCI compliance: why is it important?

One of the biggest concerns for online shoppers is payment security.  Thankfully, there are payment card industry (PCI) requirements that manufacturers, software developers, and merchants have to comply with.  Here’s why PCI compliance is so important and how to determine the difference between PCI DSS and PA DSS.

First, your compliance shows that you are secure and signals to your customers that their data is stored securely.  As a result, you’ll likely increase conversions and see your customers return.  Anything to maintain strong customer relationships will be an asset for your business.

Second, your relationship with other businesses, vendors, and contacts will be strong.  You’re sending positive signals to anyone you do businesses with.  The last thing a customer or a vendor wants to worry about is whether their credit card data is secure.

So, you might be asking yourself if you should be PCI DSS or PA DSS compliant.  The quick and dirty answer is that PCI DSS compliance must be met by any company that deals with credit card information, while vendors need to be PA DSS compliant if they make and sell payment applications, such as Znode’s Multifront software (which is PA DSS compliant, if you were wondering).  However, if your application was written in house and only used in house, you can just PCI DSS compliant.  It’s when you sell the application that prompts a PA DSS compliance.

It might seem confusing if you’re just starting a business, whether online or not.  If you’re just getting started, check out PCI’s comprehensive guides for advice.



Will it be happy holidays for retailers this year?

Five To-Do’s for 2015 that will have you wrapping up the season in the Black (Friday).

Repost from Avalara.com

November and December are no “ho-ho-ho” laughing matter for retailers. Seasonal shopping is serious business. Nearly 20% of total retail sales occur during this period. But shopping trends are a lot like fashion trends; what was hot last year may not be now. Here’s a closer look at some key takeaways from 2014 as well as a “nice list” for what retailers can do this year to keep customers happy and keep them spending.

1.       Get the early birds and the last-minute shoppers

2.       Create a more seamless experience for shoppers

3.      Be mobile-ready

4.       Socialize More Often

5.       Be ready for big data

 Want the detailed data and drivers behind these trends?  Download the full whitepaper “How to Wine at Black Friday and Cyber Monday.”

One last to-do for your holiday checklist: Sales tax. Shoppers can be a real Grinch about incorrect or unexpected costs at checkout. Wrap up their purchases neatly by automating sales tax in your ecommerce system, shopping cart or point of sale system.


The Value of Responsive Design in eCommerce

Responsive design is probably the hottest buzzword in the eCommerce world today, mostly because of Google (we’ll explain).  One of our last blog posts mentioned responsive design as a trending topic.  In this post, we’ll go into more detail about how you can add value to your eCommerce site with responsive web design (RWD).

The topic of RWD started trending earlier this year when Google announced that it will award responsive sites more favorably in search.  Essentially, sites that are mobile-friendly will fare better in search results.  Your SEO department or manager will be thrilled!  It doesn’t stop there, though.  Non-responsive sites lose up to 12% of web traffic, making SEO a nightmare.  If you want to be at the top of search results, you must adjust your site to be responsive.  Few people visit the bottom of the first page of a Google search, much less the second page.

Aesthetics and user experience are another piece in this puzzle.  No one wants to visit a site on a mobile device and struggle will the scroll bars and clicking links.  This is especially true for eCommerce stores because if I can’t easily purchase the product, I’ll likely leave the site.  The site should respond to you, the user.  Most users typically leave a site if they can’t navigate with ease.  In fact, 61% will leave a site if it’s unresponsive.  These numbers can’t be ignored.

Also, don’t use flash.  Google will not be happy with your site if this is the case.  It’s really the icing on the cake.

Moral of the story — listen to Google.  Google is king.  Your marketing or SEO manager probably wants to see your store at the top of a Google search because that means exposure, leads, and sales!

Znode’s Multifront platform is a top .NET eCommerce platform, which is also responsive.  Download our product sheet to learn more and discover what relevant eCommerce can do for your business.