Saving Money On Your E-commerce Site

After building and transferring many e-commerce sites it still amazes me that owners of e-commerce businesses are still wasting money in three basic ways. For fear of stating the obvious, saving money is the same as making money $100 saved is $100 added to your profit margin. Here are three basic ways to save money on your e-commerce site and increase your profits. While they may be simple we know they are overlooked time and time again resulting in thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

ABORTED SALES
While most modern shopping carts come with many features, they all involve the collecting of information from clients. Name, address, telephone number, user name, password, email address and so on. Yes we understand that these details are only required for the first order but let’s take a look at the new buyers experience.

They have browsed your site and found a product they wish to buy, they begin the checkout process and input all the details above. Your cart then builds the order and transfers them to paypal 2 checkout or what ever payment gateway you use. What happens next? “Please input your name, address, email, telephone number……” The result? Lost and aborted sales, surfers are lazy creatures we know that. In an ideal world your cart would have passed all those variables to the gateway and the user would not have to input them again, however because there are so many gateways and they all require different variables this is difficult.

So now you log in to the admin section of your cart and see an order only to find there is no matching payment. Thje solution is simple, fire up your email program and send them an email. “We noticed that you placed an order for our xxxxxxx however unfortunately we did not receive payment for that item so were unable to despatch it. Did you have difficulty with our ordering system? Is there anything we can do to help you? If so please contact us in one of the following ways…..”

Taking a few moments to send them an email can recover the sale, or at worst you can find out which part of your ordering system isn’t working for them and have it worked on. If you have your own merchant account you could have them call you and take their order by phone. Customers like to feel like customers not numbers, the fact that you took the time to contact them to find out what was wrong will give them confidence in your store and may recover the sale.

CHARGEBACKS
The curse of any e-commerce store the dreaded chargeback. We are sure you have all experienced it. You take an order, despatch it and a few weeks later get a chargeback. The result you have sent goods and have to refund the price of the product and pay a chargeback fee normally around $15.

Firstly make sure your payment gateway offers some sort of seller protection. aypal for example have a full seller protection policy. This is useful to prevent fraud. It is totally unfair that some dishonest people initiate chargebacks after receiving goods, however as long as your gateway has seller protection and you have saved order details and proof of despatch you can go someway to protecting yourself against that.

Surprisingly most chargebacks are not fraudulent, they are caused by the seller forgetting who they bought from, especially if your registered company name with your gateway is different from that of your site. An example your company is called freds enterprizes but your website is widgetsgalore.com, the client buys a widget and at the end of the month sees a charge to their card from freds enterprizes. They don’t recognize it they contact their card issuer and chargeback.

This is very easy to avoid. Before they get transferred to payment sate clearly in your cart “Please remember you will be billed by freds enterprizes not widgetsgalore.com”. When they are returned to your site thank them for the order then remind them again, “Please remember you will be billed by freds enterprizes not widgetsgalore.com”

When you send them an email telling them their order has been dispatched tell them again “Please remember you will be billed by freds enterprizes not widgetsgalore.com” By now they should be getting the message. However, and this alone has reduced the number of chargebacks to many of our clients, we recommend that you FOLLOW UP YOUR ORDERS and a couple of weeks after the purchase send the client another email. Thank them for their purchase, tell them you hope they are enjoying your product and once again remind them “Please remember you will be billed by freds enterprizes not widgetsgalore.com”

Repetition is the key the more you tell them the more chance they have of recognizing your company name on their credit card statement.

HOSTING
The money being wasted on inflated e-commerce hosting is incredible. Many of our clients have moved to our service due to the limited and very expensive packages of many so called e-commerce hosts. Let us be very clear on this, if you have your own store this is what you should have.

1. Your own design. Your store should not look like everyone elses, or be template built. If you used an online store designer to build your site we guarantee there are 100 other stores that look just like yours only with a different name. Hardly good for your online image.

2. You should have your own hosting. Not a sub folder of some larger site or virtual hosting. You should be able to add things like a links directory, message boards, support forums, guestbooks and what ever else you think would enhance your site. You should be able to have features added or removed from your cart so that it operates as you want it to. To find out if you have your own hosting email your host and ask them if you can add any of the above. It never ceases to amaze us how many store owners do not even have access to simple things like MYSQL or ftp.

3. There should be no fees payable by you other than a monthly hosting fee. Incredible as it sounds we have seen sites charge a monthly fee, plus a per item listing fee, a per item maintenance fee, commission on sales and other such ridiculous charges.

Many e-commerce hosts charge inflated prices for what is nothing more than virtual hosting (a sub folder of someone elses site) It never ceases to amaze us that most online stores are paying upwards of $50 a month for a restricted and sub standard service. E-commerce hosting is no different than regular quality web hosting. It requires only mysql and php capabilities. Of course stores can use up more space than an information site for example, however in our opinion you should not be paying more than $30 a month to host your store. For $30 you can get ample web hosting for a fairly large store. If you are paying $50 plus then change your host, this can be done without interruption to your site by a competent host.

A saving of $20 a month either adds to your profit or gives you $240 extra per year to spend advertising your site.

Just like a major corporation as an online business owner you need to look at your bottom line, it affects profit. You need to monitor and improve the shopping experience of your clients.

Optimizing Your E-Commerce Site For Higher Sales Volume

Handbags, shoes, skirts, dresses and tops; these are just some of the commodities that never seem to stop growing. Shopping malls across the country are teeming with them and they are fueling the growth of the e-commerce scene.

For the past few years, online stores have been popping up into the virtual existence like an endemic virus. It is easy and near zero cost to set up. Opening an account is free. There are readily available templates for site designs. The images and the goods are provided by manufacturers. The amount to stock up and cost are low. As such, it attracted a lot of small timers to begin a journey into e-commerce.

Web designers saw opportunity and latched onto this growing trend by providing online shopping cart solution. This is a crucial next step for these business owners to take. On the other hand, blog shops have tremendous flaws in customer retention. They are difficult to browse; this makes buying in bulk and multiples item non-existent, and payment is manual. In short, the blog shops buying process is slow and inefficient.

So are the online businesses gaining more customers and replacing the offline shops? The answer is no; the business owner do not understand the internet as much as think. There are many examples of mistake due to the lack of understanding the internet by the online retailers. So, how are the successful ones optimizing their e-commerce site to make more sales?

Here are a couple of key items that e-commerce site owners need to know when selling online:

1. The Designs and Content Management Cannot Be Outsourced.
The virtual world is ever changing and constant upgrade need to be done in order to stay competitive. For example, if you are selling a product, make sure you have multiple photos of the product taken at different angle. Since the nature of e-commerce does not allow the customer to touch and feel the product, pictures are the next best thing. So, by optimizing your e-commerce site with more photos on the product, it will give your customer more confidence to buy the product. You may understand your product and have one of the best products in the market but if you do not provide the right content and make it is easy to locate, no one will buy from you.

2. The Search Function More Important Than You Think It Is.
People browse through sites and they browse them quickly. According to usability experts, most users just scan your site and do not read in detail. They will ignore most of the things that are not important to them. That’s why optimizing your e-commerce site navigation will help your visitors to surf with ease.

If they could not find what they are looking for quickly, they are going to use the search function. Let’s face it we have been spoiled by Google. A lot of the sites have the search function but most of them still work with a 20th century algorithm. They churn out inaccurate results. They frustrate customers and frustrated customers are not going to be a paying customer! So investing money and time to have a good internal search engine will help customer to feel good about your site.

3. Don’t Misuse Your Category Navigation.
This relates to what was mentioned; people need to be able to find what they are looking for quickly. The common misuse is listing everything out in one category. Products need to be categorized properly like different sections in a book store. You should try your best to follow what is commonly used by other people and generally accepted terminologies. Sites such as Amazon and eBay will be a good a reference point on how to categorize your own goods.

4. Don’t Try to Sell Everything in One Single Page
Putting too much information and items on one page will make your site look messy and annoy your customers. When everything is important, nothing is. Avoid the kitchen sink approach at all cost. This is not the way to optimize your e-commerce site. Remember, if they are already on your page, they will use your navigation to look for the items that they are interested in. Let them have an easy time browsing your shop.

5. Don’t Force Your Customer to Sign Up
You can’t force people to sign up in order to browse your site unless you are already highly reputable. People don’t have to sign up as members to buy goods at retail stores. Online stores shouldn’t be any different. If ever online stores will replace retail, the process should be as seamless as retail. Many reputable e-commerce site optimize their checkout process by only asking for sign up information at the payment stage, which is where the customer most willing to provide their contact details.

6. Your Shopping Cart Needs to be User Friendly
To be honest, your whole site needs to be user friendly but your shopping cart is one of the most important piece of feature. If people can’t find where it is or work out quickly on how to use it, they will not use it.

If the current online business owners do not learn quickly, they will be knocked out of business by new comers. It is an extremely competitive business and it’s only going to get more competitive. You will need to realize that optimizing your e-commerce site is an on-going process and not a one off mission. This is also because your customers’ preference will change in time, and you will have to optimize your e-commerce site to suit their new preference. One way to get feedback from real users is to do quick usability testing service. There is no need for a lot of user to test your site, usually 3-5 independent users will be good enough to discover the key problems on your site.

Protecting Your E-Commerce Site Against Buyer Fraud

“How do you protect your business against shipping fraud?” I get this question about twice a week. The protection is always the same regardless of how the buyer pays for the item.

First, let us look at the way the buyer commits the fraud.

The buyer looks for tangible goods that they would like to have. A buyer purchases an item from an online merchant. The payment is through credit card or an online payment processor like PayPal. The buyer makes sure that shipment is via regular mail with no insurance. After waiting four weeks, the buyer contacts their payment processor and claims non-receipt of the item. The seller cannot supply proof of shipment so the buyer receives their funds back.

The fraud takes place when the buyer actually gets the item but claims non-receipt, thus either getting the product free or two of the same product. Overall, it is just not honest.

So, how does an E-Commerce site protect itself against this type of fraud? Easily, insure the shipping so that the buyer has to sign for receiving it.

How does this stop the fraud? It is proof that the buyer received the item.

Generally, shipping fraud is running ramped on eBay. Buyers are requesting items and not insuring them. The seller ships the item and then hit with the problem square in the face. On little items, insurance seems to be not worth it. Really, why insure items that are only $2.00? It could be the difference between making a good profit to not making any. If need be, register the item so you have some proof of the buyer receiving it.

Proof of the buyer receiving the item is the only way you can protect yourself against shipping fraud.