Author: Jessica McDonald

Rare Wonder Woman Comics (Including Issue #1) To Be Sold On eBay.

Wonder Woman issue 1

Three of the oldest and most historically important Wonder Woman comic books —including issue No. 1- are being auctioned off on eBay.

The comics being auctioned (separately) are Wonder Woman No. 1Sensational Comics No. 1, and All Star Comics No. 8, all featuring some of the earliest representations of Wonder Woman.

For this one of a kind, historic auction, Frooition designed a unique custom listing design. The listing design is inspired by the DC comic’s artwork and their iconic depiction of the progressive heroine.

Wonder Woman eBay

The copy of the first issue of Wonder Woman was originally sent to Harper’s Magazine. The magazine was filed away in a cabinet and forgotten, preserving it in pristine condition. The other two comics in the auction were bought from a collector.

The comics, all of them more than 75 years old, are in exceptionally good condition. The copies featured in this sale are the highest-rated editions ever found according to CGC, a vintage comic assessment organization. (They got ratings of 9.0 or higher out of 10, meaning very fine or near-mint condition.)

Interest in Wonder Woman-related items on eBay has spiked since the character’s recently released feature film. According to a news release, sales of Wonder Woman related items have increased by 50 per cent over the past year and include comics, Lego sets, costumes and even Wonder Woman-branded fidget spinners.

Wonder Woman is one of the most widely known and loved characters of all time, so these extremely rare comics would likely fetch high prices regardless of the timing. The Wonder Woman comics are on sale from comics shop owner Darren Adams. Adams sold a 1338, 9.0 rated copy of the first Superman comic in 2014 for a historic $3.2 million on eBay, and the Wonder Woman comics are expected to achieve a similar price. A portion of the proceeds will go to Trafficking Hope, an organization that works to combat human trafficking.

Watch the video below to hear more about the origins of Wonder Woman, and the story of this incredibly rare find.

 

Why load speed is crucial to your e-commerce – and ten ways to improve it.

load speed

Two-thirds of people now own a smart phone. The average smart phone user checks their phone 40 times a day. As smart phone use spreads and the majority think of the internet as an everyday necessity, our expectation of instant access to information increases, and our patience levels drop. Load speed is only getting more important.

Google evaluates your website landing pages to determine your website’s Quality Score and Ad Rank. If your landing page experience is slow, you get a lower Quality Score from Google. Which means your ads will likely rank lower in paid search results, and you’ll have a harder time climbing rank for organic search terms.

Slower sites have to bid super high to compete with faster, better quality ads and landing pages. That’s because your Quality Score is tied to the cost-per-click (CPC). So, a faster load speed can also indirectly help to drive down your advertising costs.

Google even went on record back in 2010 saying site speed was used as a ranking factor, saying;

“…faster sites don’t just improve user experience; improving site speed also reduces operating costs. Like us, our users place a lot of value in speed — that’s why we’ve decided to take site speed into account in our search rankings”

If you have been struggling to get certain pages to climb the search rankings, or are trying to drive down your advertising costs, you might want to factor in page load speed as part of a great landing page user experience.

People like fast sites. Search engines like fast sites. If your site is slow to load, now is time to do something about it.

For e-commerce sites, load speed can be directly related to sales. Amazon analyzed their ratio of sales to website performance in 2016, and discovered that for every 100ms of page load time there was a 1% decrease in sales. 40% of customers will abandon a website and not return after two seconds of waiting for a page to load. E-commerce designers are dealing with rapidly decreasing margins for load times to not result in cart abandonment.

Clearly, speeding up your website is critical—not just to ranking well with Google, but to keep your conversion rate high. Frooition sites are all created to load in one second or less across all devices, but for those of you who have non Frooition sites, we are sharing 10 things you can do to shave seconds off your site load speed and enjoy higher profits.

1. Use a Content Delivery Network

One benefit of being online is that you can sell to customers around the world. A content delivery network caches the content on servers located in different parts of the world, which reduces load times. This would help, say, a customer in Hong Kong, who could load a page from a server in China, versus hitting the master server in U.S.

2. Optimize Your Images

With images, you need to focus on three things: size, format, and the src attribute.

Image size

Oversized images take longer to load, so it’s important that you keep your images as small as possible. In Photoshop or Fireworks, you can use the “Save for Web” option to drastically reduce image size. Also:

  • Crop your images to the correct size. For instance, if your page is 570px wide, resize the image to that width. Don’t just upload a 2000px-wide image and set the width parameter (width=”570”). This slows your page load time and creates a bad user experience.
  • Reduce colour depth to the lowest acceptable level.
  • Remove image comments.

Image fromat

  • JPEG is your best option.
  • PNG is also good, though older browsers may not fully support it.
  • GIFs should only be used for small or simple graphics (less than 10×10 pixels, or a colour palette of 3 or fewer colours) and for animated images.
  • Do not use BMPs or TIFFs.

SRC attribute

Once you’ve got the size and format right, make sure the code is right too. Avoid empty image src codes.

In HTML, the code for an image includes this:

<img src=””>

When there’s no source in the quotation marks, the browser makes a request to the directory of the page or to the actual page itself. This can add unnecessary traffic to your servers and even corrupt user data.

Pro tip: Never Rely on HTML to Resize Images – HTML (and by extension, WordPress blogs), make it easy to create a smaller version of a larger graphic. But just because you load that smaller size, doesn’t mean it’s taking up any less room on the server. The browser still has to load the full image, then check the width and height you want and then resize it accordingly.

3. Minimize HTTP Requests

According to Yahoo, 80% of a Web page’s load time is spent downloading the different pieces-parts of the page: images, stylesheets, scripts, Flash, etc. An HTTP request is made for each one of these elements, so the more on-page components, the longer it takes for the page to render.
That being the case, the quickest way to improve site speed is to simplify your design.

    • Streamline the number of elements on your page.
    • Use CSS instead of images whenever possible.
    • Combine multiple style sheets into one.
    • Reduce scripts and put them at the bottom of the page.

Always remember, when it comes to your website, leaner is better.

Pro tip: BigCommerce sites made on the new stencil platform and coded in the handlebars language JavaScript and CSS are minified and combined, reducing file size and web requests.

4. Optimize CSS delivery

CSS holds the style requirements for your page. Generally, your website accesses this information in one of two ways: in an external file, which loads before your page renders, and inline, which is inserted in the HTML document itself.

The external CSS is loaded in the head of your HTML with code that looks something like this:

<!—Your styles –>

<link rel=”stylesheet” type=”text/css” media=”all” href=http://yourURL/style.css />

In general, an external style sheet is preferable, because it reduces the size of your code and creates fewer code duplications.

5. Reduce server response time

Your target is a server response time of less than 200ms (milliseconds). Google recommends using a web application monitoring solution and checking for bottlenecks in performance.

Big Commerce runs handlebars on the store’s server, which means there’s less strain on the browser and less Javascript is needed.

6. Enable browser caching

When you visit a website, the elements on the page you visit are stored on your hard drive in a cache or temporary storage, so the next time you visit the site, your browser can load the page without having to send another HTTP request to the server.

So the first time someone comes to your website, they have to download the HTML document, stylesheets, javascript files and images before being able to use your page. That may be as many as 30 components and 2.4 seconds.

Once the page has been loaded and the different components stored in the user’s cache, only a few components needs to be downloaded for subsequent visits. This can take an average of two seconds off load time for returning visitors.

Depending on your individual traffic, around 40-60% of daily visitors to your site will be arriving with an empty cache, so it’s critical that you make your page fast for these first-time visitors. But you also need to enable caching to shave time off subsequent visits.

7. Prioritize above-the-fold content

You can improve user experience by having your above-the-fold (top of the page) load faster—even if the rest of the page takes a few seconds to load.

Pro tip: New BigCommerce sites coded in Handlebars offers lazy-loading, which means product images will only load as the user scrolls down the page, reducing the initial load time.

8. Reduce the number of plugins you use on your site

Too many plugins slow your site, create security issues, and often cause crashes and other technical difficulties.

Pro tip: Deactivate and delete any unnecessary plugins. Then weed out any plugins that slow your load speed.

Try selectively disabling plugins, then measuring server performance. This way you can identify any plugins that harm your site speed.

9. Compress data

Large pages are bulky and slow to download. The best way to improve their load speed is to zip them—a technique called compression. Compression reduces the bandwidth of your pages, reducing HTTP response time.

BigCommerce stencil sites bundle information into a zip file for fast deployment and optimal load speed.

10. Reduce redirects

Redirects create additional HTTP requests and increase load time. So should be kept to a minimum.

If you have a responsive website, it’s more than likely that you have redirects in place to take mobile users from your main website to the responsive version.

Pro tip: Google recommends these two actions to make sure a responsive redirect doesn’t slow your site:

Use a HTTP redirect to send users with mobile user agents directly to the mobile equivalent URL without any intermediate redirects, and include the markup in your desktop pages to identify the mobile equivalent URL so Googlebot can discover your mobile pages.

The Bottom Line

Some of these tips are easy to implement, but a few are advanced tactics that can be difficult if you aren’t the most confident with web development.

If you like the idea of digging in and doing it yourself, Google Developers has useful information that can help you improve site performance.

If you know what you need, but want an expert to create it, speak to one of our e-commerce design experts.

Essential e-commerce email campaigns

e-commerce

According to MailChimp, the average e-commerce email open rate is 16.75% and the average e-commerce email click rate is 2.32% as of February 2017.

According to Campaign Monitor, email marketing generates 174% more conversions than social media does.

Unsurprisingly, email use on mobile is growing rapidly. According to the Campaign Monitor report, 21% opened emails on mobile in 2012. In 2016, just four years later, that number grew to 68%.

And email marketing is profitable. Campaign Monitor claims email marketing generated $44 ROI for every dollar spent in 2016, compared to $38 in 2015.

On top of that, 320% more revenue is generated with automated emails vs. non-automated emails. 39% more automated journeys created in 2016 than in 2015.

Email marketing is thriving. Especially in the e-commerce industry.

There are endless campaign ideas out there, but over contacting your prospects or customers will only get your mail relegated to spam. Over contacting customers with constant offers is most probably the reason for e-commerce’s low average open and average click rates. To keep customers opening your mail and get maximum return from your campaigns, you should change things up and send a variety of informative and engaging mails. At a minimum, you should have one email campaign per stage of the life cycle:

New Customers

Something to encourage or welcome new, first time customers.

    • Browse abandonment
    • New subscriber
    • Cart abandonment
    • First purchase welcome

This cart abandonment email from Emma Bridgewater is particularly strong, with an engaging image and clear call to action in the header. It offers a customer support number, which could save any sales which were lost because the customer did not want to email their questions. It also offers a free delivery code, and includes easy links to products that the customer browsed.

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Existing

Something to encourage or reward repeat buyers.

    • Feedback request
    • Cross sell

This feedback request from Boden is short and sweet, written in their brand voice, and uses pictures to encourage engagement. This email works hard to show customers that leaving feedback is easy.

ecommerce-email-guide-img51

Again, Boden keeps it short and sweet, but make use of eye catching images to engage, along with the incentive of both money off, free delivery, and free returns.

contextual-marketing-at-boden

Lapsed

Something to win back customers who haven’t purchased in a while.

    • Replenishment
    • Loyal customer offer
    • Offer notificationWin back

This win back email from Boden offers customers simple options, in a fun and engaging way. They tempt with an offer of a sale, but it’s the friendly tone of this email that secures the user engagement.

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Keeping in regular contact with customers keeps your store and products in their mind. Be sure to use lots of engaging visuals to maximize this. Clear product photos and bold graphic text in exciting colours. Try to create emails that are visually interesting, and ask very little of the customer’s concentration. Ask too much, or too often, and you lose your customers to the unsubscribe button.

The summer will soon be over, and the busiest shopping season of the year will be upon us. Good mail campaigns can drastically improve sales during the competitive holiday season, and now is the perfect time to start planning your campaigns. To help you get started with planning, we have written a list of ten points to help you prepare your e-commerce for the holidays.

Managing multichannel eCommerce delivery – Expert guest post from Parcelhub

e-commerce delivery

Retail is a multi channel business and shoppers now have more choice than ever in terms of goods and services than ever before. At present shoppers can buy your goods through your website, your store, perhaps your app, your mobile website, and a dizzying array of marketplaces, from the mighty Amazon and eBay through to niche ones such as Tophatter and OnBuy.

This is changing how people shop, and how people actually want to get their hands on what they have bought.

According to IMRG, total sales on mobile and tablets now account for 40% of UK e-retail sales – and figures from the IMRG Capgemini Index in 2014 also shows that 25% of e-retail sales are now reserve/buy online and collect in- store, although for some retailers this is already much higher.

This shift to click and collect is just part of a cultural shift in how consumers shop that this multi channel world has brought about. And delivery is becoming the leading differentiator for any retailer, governing everything from its ranking on Google through to how it undertakes its marketing strategy. This is according to various studies, which found that SMEs see delivery as the key to business growth and taking on the majors in 2018.

This places a huge new onus on retailers – and the marketplaces that retailers also use – to be creative with the delivery options they offer. As a result, when it comes to fulfilling orders, retailers face a head-spinning problem of how to keep these channels stocked and deliveries flowing. So how do you do it?

At the ground level, the problem comes down to having an excellent warehouse management system (WMS) in place and understanding where your stock is held. An array of carrier partners also ensures that you can leverage this knowledge to deliver the goods to where they need to go. This works well for your own website and even your store.

But what happens when you start to work with a range of marketplaces and other third parties that sell your goods for you? How do you manage that too?

The B2C conundrum

The problem centres around having to manage the whole process of incoming goods from suppliers and then managing how they are distributed. The wealth of channels through which your customers can buy leads to a bigger inventory, which can also impact the management of incoming goods but is mainly a problem in terms of trying to understand where orders are coming from.

Where eCommerce shipping gets more complicated is if you are also using click and collect, lockers and marketplaces. Marketplaces will often handle inventory management and distribution for you – and if you want to offer click and collect, Amazon does that too – but working all this together in your office, so you know where everything is at any given time, is the real challenge with multi channel selling from a logistics point of view.

Click and collect

The other area where multichannel retailers and marketplace sellers increasingly struggle is in fulfilling the demands from consumers for click and collect. Of course, retailers with a physical store footprint can, of course, use these shops for click and collect fulfilment, but for those that are online only entities, how do they manage this?

Here pure-play retailers need to collaborate with partners that do offer a physical presence to deliver this. In the mainstream retail world we have seen the likes of Sainsbury’s and Argos tie up has given Argos a much bigger physical footprint for click and collect thanks to Sainsbury’s stores. There are also a number of other more odd-couple partnerships, with Amazon working with Transport for London to allow consumers to collect goods at certain tube stations on their way home.

This model is going to be something that even the smallest pure-play retailer is going to have to leverage. Some carriers offer locker services and some locker service companies offer carriage – but between these and a range of physical retailers out there, there is going to be a shift towards retailers, carriers and other working together to fulfill click and collect.

What it means in practice

The key thing to remember across all of this is that you have to make sure that you are offering the consumer what they want. Your whole multi channel strategy will be dictated by how your customers choose to shop. This will, as we have seen, affect how you look to manage your B2C supplies, but it will also impact how you approach logistics management companies and carriers. Talk to your carriers and carrier management companies and see what they can do to help meet the challenges of click and collect and other delivery models that are increasingly prevalent.

If you customers want same day, find how best to do it; if they want to click and collect, find the sort of locations that they might consider and then look at how to partner to make this happen.

However you do it you also have to constantly test and tweak how you do it and, perhaps the most important thing to remember is to not over promise. This is perhaps the hardest and most important part of the whole multi channel delivery paradigm: you have to meet the expectations of your customers if you are to keep them, while also not over promising what you can do.

The solution

The ideal way to manage the vast array of delivery and stock issues associated with selling across channels is to use a multi-carrier shipping and customer service solution that can integrate with all major e-commerce platforms and all major parcel carriers and associated logistics firms to let the retailer manage their multi channel distribution from one ‘screen’.

Parcelhub does just this. It easily integrates with most multi channel e-commerce platforms and dedicated proactive parcel management comes as standard across a wide range of carriers. Distributing more than 4.5 million parcels on its own carrier contracts every year, Parcelhub’s free multi-carrier shipping software grants hundreds of national and global businesses access to ‘pooled volume’ discounted rates from its carefully selected range of carrier partners.

In essence, it offers a ‘single point of control’ for logistics for multi channel retailers. Simple.

It has already worked well for a number of different clients that have all had very specific multi-channel shipping issues.

The Amazing Chocolate Workshop sells finely crafted items made of chocolate – tools, toys, the works – and typically sold on market stalls and in stores. Increasing custom from the web presented the company with a unique challenge: how to ship very delicate items often for next day delivery and at weekends.

It took advantage of Parcelhub’s recent integration with eCommerce platform WooCommerce to sort it out.

“Parcelhub offered us the opportunity to use one system to select loads of different carriers for next day, early morning and weekend deliveries,” explains company co-founder, Ed Starr. “It gives us the power to utilize the appropriate carrier depending on the level of urgency, dimensions, and destination.”

He continues: “Parcelhub has made the online side of the business a lot easier to manage. The E-commerce Customer Support team is unbelievably helpful and is surely the best thing about Parcelhub. Any parcel tracking queries go straight to the CS team who deal with everything really quickly and professionally; we don’t hear from customers unless they need a refund. It saves us time and makes us a more professional business. Not only does Parcelhub save us time and money, it also adds value to our business offering.”

The advantages of having a ‘single point of control’ for managing complex warehousing and distribution is clear. With the right tools in place, multi-channel retailing should be a boon to companies, not a burden. Managing logistics in a simplified way takes much of the pain out of joining the multichannel revolution. What are you waiting for?

About Parcelhub

Parcelhub is a multi-carrier shipping and customer services solution. Flexible and scalable, it integrates seamlessly with order management systems, providing hundreds of eCommerce and wholesale businesses with one access point to many of the largest UK and international parcel carriers.

Multi-channel eCommerce platforms are easily integrated and dedicated pro-active parcel management comes as standard.

Distributing more than 4.5 million parcels on its own carrier contracts every year, Parcelhub’s free
multi-carrier shipping software grants hundreds of national and global businesses access to ‘pooled volume’ discounted rates from its carefully selected range of carrier partners, including Yodel, Hermes, DPD, UK Mail, DHL, Whistl, UPS, DX, Parcelforce, CollectPlus, SkyNet, Panther Logistics, Direct Link and Palletforce.

10 Points to help you prepare your e-commerce for the holidays.

Prepare e-commerce for Christmas

According to Yes mail Interactive, 38.1% of people start their Christmas shopping before November which jumps up to 69.8% of people starting their Christmas shopping before the 1st December. Merchants must act now to get their inventory, processes, and protocols in place if they hope to see good performance come November.

Here are ten key actions that retailers can action now to prepare for making the 2017 holiday period their most profitable yet:

1. Curate your lists

Clean your marketing lists. Make sure you have the right contact information for all your customers and prospects. Then segment them. Segmenting by gender, location, or category products they purchase from you will help you to target campaigns. Look at ways to market different messages to your lists, based on who they are and how they buy.

2. Re-engage with existing customers

Focus on your loyal customers. Yes, spend time getting new customers. But spend more time on the customers who already buy from you. Create campaigns to get them to become loyal, repeat customers.

3. Learn from the past

Look back at your analytics and sales figures from last year. Look at the offers you ran and the marketing you put out. Remind yourself of what worked and what didn’t work, and use that information to plan for this year.

4. Plan inventory

After looking at peak points in last year’s sales, you will be able to plan your stock ordering. Consider how you will cope with the logistics of increased sales from last year, and look at how a fulfilment partner could work with your business to help you cope with increased inventory and deliveries.

5. Brainstorm

Brainstorm on what marketing campaigns you should do to attract the right prospects to your website. Think about images, themes, and offers for marketing; as well as the design of your website.

6. Have a strict third-party apps policy

The same way retailers decorate heavily their high street store windows, they tend to do the same for their e-commerce site by investing in additional content, such as third-party tags, SEO and videos. Many of these apps and plugins, including marketing analytics tools, are designed to create powerful online experiences. However, they can significantly affect how fast a page loads and contribute to a poor consumer experience that leads to a consumer clicking off a retail site early. Rich media like embedded videos, social media and other interactive features can help retailers to create compelling online experiences but should be placed into a page in the most streamlined way, to ensure optimum load speeds.

Over the lunchtime on Black Friday 2016 itself, analysis from IT reseller magazine showed that the websites of two of the UK’s biggest department stores took over 4 seconds to load. Upon investigation, this was attributed to poorly performing 3rd Party elements. When there are traffic surges, this can mean the site slows down to a crawl or there are minor or major outages. All Frooition custom designs and Froo Apps are tested to deliver feature rich eBay designs that load in a second or less.

Retailers should analyze the additional content they invest in and ask themselves the question “What is the value of this service?”

7. Check mobile performance

Looking at total e-commerce traffic from the holiday period of 2016, Mobile traffic volume was very close to that of desktop (41% vs 50%). However, there was a much bigger difference in sales volume. 69% of sales came via desktop but just 21% from mobile (31% if you include tablet devices). This suggests that while people like to browse or compare via mobile, they still prefer to complete transactions via desktop.

Mobile usability has improved a lot over the last few years, but on many sites, it is still much easier to transact on a desktop site than mobile. Both BigCommerce and Shopify designs from Frooition are mobile responsive, with optimized checkout pages to turn more mobile browsers into buyers.

Looking specifically at eBay, 2016 was the first year where sales from mobile devices during the holiday period overtook sales from desktop.  Ebay had made many improvements to mobile user experience, and their increased sales from mobile devices reflected that. Frooition eBay designs are all made to be mobile responsive as standard, with speed, usability, and security being a focus for our designers.

8. Make updates

Update your website and eBay store. Make sure that all of your branding is up to date, and think about holiday graphics. Work with an expert to ensure the navigation of your website is well designed and easy to navigate. Ensure that your eBay listings are active content free and that your eBay listings contain cross-promotion for other related items.  Make sure your website is fast and secure. Customers will not tolerate slow websites, and security concerns are one of the main reasons for sales being abandoned.

9. Tackle cart abandonment

Retailers bring out their strongest offers and biggest discounts during the holiday period, customers are comparison shopping, and cart abandonment rates are at their highest at this time of year. Make sure you save as many of these sales as possible by taking a little time to put together a strong cart abandonment strategy. Here is our advice on creating a cart abandonment strategy.

10. partner up

Partnerships can be important. Do you know complimentary businesses you can consider joint marketing campaigns with? For example; if you sold chocolates, you could create a discount offer for customers of a mail order florist. If they featured that in their newsletter, they would be offering their customers something of value, and you would be reaching their customers for free.

Social Media For Small Businesses

social media for e-commerce

Being a small business in a market dominated by huge brands can at times feel daunting. Big brands have big budgets, and teams of marketing people. But for many small brands, social media has been the marketing weapon capable of bringing down Goliath competition.

Here are five key things that all small brands and retailers who make it big on social media do:

1. Know your Customer

To save you wasting time and money marketing to people who don’t want your product, first you need to identify your target market. Identifying your target market is probably the most important step in marketing any business. People who grow their business out of a personal passion or hobby have a great advantage here.

The better you know your target customer, the easier you will be able to connect with them. Know what they like and don’t like. Know what they dream of. Find out how they speak amongst their peers, hashtags they use and look at any brands they currently interact with.

2. Don’t try to sell

Social media platforms like Facebook and social media management software like Hootsuite have great targeting tools, but we are all so used to seeing adverts and sponsored posts, reading brand’s tweets. It’s just white noise. The only way to stand out, to connect with your customer in an overcrowded environment, is to speak to them about something they are interested in.

If you are selling plant pots, talk about what should be planted at this time of year, post garden inspiration images or tips on growing an indoor kitchen garden. Offer advice and inspiration, link to useful content on your blog. Offer your customers something of value. Although it may sound counter-intuitive to focus on giving when you want to sell, the saying that people buy from people still remains true, and no one wants to buy from a pushy salesman. They want to buy from someone they have a good rapport with. Social media is a great place to build that.

3. Keep it real

Don’t be scared to speak out about trends and topics related to your brand. You will never appeal to all of the people all of the time. Don’t be scared to be controversial. Speak your truth, and that way keeping a consistent approach will be easy. As long as you stay on brand message, your target audience will only love you more. For example, a brand selling feeding covers could speak out in support of mothers nursing babies in public. The brand may attract some negative feedback from these comments, but not from their target market. Their target market (mothers) would appreciate the support and feel more positive towards the brand.

4. Keep it positive

Lots of big companies have been open with their political opinions in recent times. There will undoubtedly have been backlash for them with this, but they are big and can weather it out. For small businesses, neutrality is always best. Personal social media accounts are the place for political tweets, social commentary or criticism of people’s behavior. These things may offend a customer, and even if they don’t, they are negative and non-relevant to your customer’s experience of your store.

Being consistently positive can be difficult at times, especially when dealing with complaints via social media, but a brand should always be positive and professional. For customers, these two things are directly linked; and although passion is good, angry ranting is always bad.

5. Engage with individuals

This is where smaller, owner lead businesses have a real advantage over the big boys. Noticing people who are customers, or who have an interest in your product or industry and engaging with them in a friendly way via social media gives a brand real credibility. The smaller the business, the more nimble and responsive. If someone I regularly interact with tweets that they just bought from your online store, you could perhaps add a little handwritten note to their package, or a sample of something else even. That customer would more than likely talk about the good service and be loyal to the brand.

Being different is positive. Being different is your business’ biggest strength.

It is better for your business to be the first choice of some than the second choice of all. Identify what you are really good at, what you offer that other brands can’t, and shout about that. In an online world where it is so easy to be fake, or hide behind polished corporate spiel, going out there being unapologetically small and authentic makes your business a breath of fresh air. People connect with people. So don’t ever be afraid to let people know that there is a human team behind your business.

What to expect from a fulfilment partner – guest post from James & James e-commerce fulfilment.

Whether or not to outsource your order fulfilment can be a difficult decision if you don’t have any knowledge of the services. So to help out, we’ve come up with a beginner’s guide of what to expect from an order fulfilment partner. Below is a basic, easy to understand introduction to each feature they’ll provide and just how your eCommerce business will benefit.

By the end of this article, hopefully you’ll feel confident in your knowledge and ready to decide whether or not outsourced order fulfilment is for you!

Order Fulfilment Services

ECOMMERCE INTEGRATION

eCommerce integration is the first step toward merging your business with your chosen 3PL (third party logistics) partner. An exceptional fulfilment service will offer software that will easily integrate with your chosen shopping cart (Shopify, Magento etc.). This enables online orders to move straight from your online store, to a warehouse. It provides seamless communication between your cart and the warehouse team, allowing your orders to be fulfilled in a timely manner.

STORAGE

As well as integrating with your online store, your eCommerce fulfillment partner will also start taking your stock into storage in their warehouse. Shelving, racking and pallet storage will ensure your stock is safely and securely stored. Products will be organised by SKU (stock keeping unit) and staggered to ensure similar looking stock does not get mixed up. 54% of warehouses expect to expand the number of SKUs over the next five years, allowing more storage for growing businesses.

The best fulfilment services will have control of multiple warehouses, often all over the world, allowing you access to many more customers. No longer will you have to store (and potentially trip over) your own products; this will free up your time and allow you to focus on your eCommerce business.

INVENTORY MANAGEMENT

Now that you’re all set with your chosen partner, you will be able to benefit from their management systems. An IMS ( inventory management system) will be available to you, allowing you to accurately monitor and manage your stock wherever you are. The IMS will also help you to track stock movement, orders, forecasting and other data, such as most popular order.

The best warehouses use Cloud-based, real-time fulfilment software which gives you the power to access your inventory anytime, anywhere and retain up to the minute control of your orders.

PICK AND PACK

Every element of your order fulfilment has been set up. Now your first orders are coming in, they will enter the pick and pack process. Pick and pack is the method of ‘picking’ an item from its place of storage, taking it to a ‘packing station’ and packaging it for shipping. Using a WMS (warehouse management system) staff will be set on the most effective pick route and be able to locate the correct products with ease.

By having a professional, dedicated, and enthusiastic team handling all your operations, you never need to worry about fulfiling orders again. With a 99.998% accuracy rate in the best warehouses, you can place your trust in your order fulfillment service.

DELIVERY

Now that your item has been packed to your requirements, it will be labeled with the customer’s address and using previously set delivery options (which will be chosen by the customer, such as ‘economy’ or ‘urgent’). 72% of customers would spend more if they could be sure of same day delivery and you’ll be able to deliver. You’ll also be able to sell your products all over the world and not have to worry about the logistics of it.

The best fulfilment services will choose the cheapest courier option for your deliveries, but also will ensure that you have the fastest service available for the price.

RETURNS

92% of consumers will buy something again if returns are easy and any successful business needs to properly be able to handle returns. Your eCommerce fulfilment partner will expertly handle any returned goods. They will be taken and assessed for resale, but if they don’t pass inspection, they will communicate with you and decide what should be done. According to your decision, they will resell, destroy or return the products to you, allowing full control over the process and to ensure no stock loss, whilst sending out a replacement product by your wishes.

CUSTOMER SATISFACTION

Your customers will make or break your business and how your fulfilment is handled will decide whether or not they are satisfied with their order. By outsourcing your order fulfilment, it will be handled by an expert team, who will do everything within their power to grant an exceptional customer experience. The orders, in excellent condition, will be sent out as fast as possible to ensure they end up at the correct address at the correct time. This will lead to grateful and satisfied customers.

Happy customers become repeat customers, leading to additional custom that will begin the order fulfilment process all over again.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

We hope that this article has proven both interesting and informative and that you now feel confident that you have a basic knowledge of fulfilment. If this article has helped you decide whether to outsource your fulfilment, even better! Remember to research your 3PL partner and ensure that they provide a service that will suit your needs and requirements so that your business has room to develop and grow.

The author of this article, Hannah, is a Marketer for James and James Fulfilment.

About James and James:

Here at James and James, we’re passionate about technology-driven order fulfilment. We make it easy for eCommerce brands like you to delight customers, service international markets, scale quickly and gain a competitive advantage.

Our clients love the game-changing combination of control and visibility we provide, through market-leading technology across a seamless global presence – all expertly supported with dedicated customer care.

That’s why our clients love us, and their customers love them!

Visit us at www.ecommercefulfilment.com

How BigCommerce Stencil has improved e-commerce for merchants

BigCommerce Stencil

BigCommerce Stencil is the latest e-commerce development platform from BigCommerce. It offers greater versatility, speed and convenience for merchants than BigCommerce’s previous development platform, Blueprint.

Stencil uses the “Handlebars” templating language. As a merchant, you may not be using the stencil platform or the handlebars language yourself, but it does improve things for you. Here’s how –

With stencil, JavaScript and CSS is minified and combined, reducing file size and web requests. Streamlining the use of JavaScript and web requests makes super-fast e-commerce sites. BigCommerce sites now also feature lazy-loading, which means product images only load as the user scrolls down the page, reducing the initial load time.

Handlebars also runs on the store’s server, which means there’s less strain on the browser and less Javascript is needed to achieve the same goal compared to the Blueprint platform.

Soon BigCommerce will fully introduce Google AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages). These are streamlined versions of category and product pages for mobile users which allow merchants to display product information to people searching on mobile devices, even in locations that have a poor data signal.

BigCommerce Stencil was developed with mobile responsiveness in mind, allowing mobile devices to see the same page in a display format that is suitable for a mobile device or for smaller screens, this means customers will experience a consistently designed website, with optimum functionality on all devices.

All of these features improve the speed of the load time, which leads to a more favorable ranking on search engines, and lower bills from Google AdWords campaigns. Combined, this leads to more website views, providing a better customer experience, and increased sales.

How to increase sales with user focused e-commerce design

Socrates said, “Know thyself.”

We say, “Know thy customers.”

And guess what? They don’t think like you do. You know your product and your website inside and out. You knew it when it was just a few sketches on a napkin. You have been using it in every form and iteration it has been through in its entire life-cycle. Your actions, decisions and preferences have been imprinted into everything from inventory to imagery and organisation.

However, many of your customers are coming to your site for the very first time. Many of them have a goal in mind and whether that goal is to buy a product, or simply to research, they are using your site because they believe it will help them achieve that goal. Others are cautiously poking around, a little unsure due to previous experiences that left them confused and dissatisfied.

“Knowing how people will use something is essential.”—Donald Norman

It is essential because it is a paradigm that you do not share. It is essential because it forces you to be objective and make decisions based on what the user needs and not a subjective preference. It is also essential because it can reveal fundamental flaws in the users assumptions and give you the insight to create something that both delights and engages the user.

User experience focused design aims to understand the reason a customer would be coming to your site and what they may want from it, then tries to lead them to that goal in as few clicks as possible. Here are a few points that all good user focused e-commerce sites have in common;

Give Answers

The best websites answer a binary question immediately. A binary question is a yes or no, and in e-commerce, the primary question will most often be “Is this of interest to me?”

We take information from pictures and videos faster than from text, and so the imagery on your website should make it instantly clear to a customer what kind of products you sell.

Encourage Trust

If you walked into a store and it was a mess, you would probably decide that it was not very well managed. It is the same in e-commerce. A site with poorly sized images, broken links and inconsistent fonts will immediately give customers the impression of a disorganised business. Customers are less likely to trust a company to protect their details, or deliver their purchases quickly, if they appear to be a disorganised mess. Continuity of images, text and brand colours, all tell a customer that the site they are looking at is professional and trust worthy.

Security is always the number one reason for buyer hesitation. Security logos should be displayed clearly. Customer testimonials are a strong way to increase trust, and should be used throughout an e-commerce website. Use testimonials to highlight how great products are, how quick your delivery is and what great service you provide. Under no circumstances should testimonials be hidden away on their own page.

The second most common cause of customer hesitation is returns. In a survey by comScore and UPS, 63% of American consumers check the return policy before making a purchase and 48% would shop more with retailers that offer hassle-free returns. These policies can have an even greater impact on international consumers, most notably in Germany where 72% of consumers would give more business to stores with hassle-free returns. Make sure that your returns policy, or a link to it, is clearly displayed on your homepage and on product pages too. This BigCommerce homepage designed by Frooition for oemassive.com is a perfect example.

e-commerce design

Be Mobile

Mobile commerce is the fastest growing sector of e-commerce, and there is no excuse for any retailer not having a mobile compatible site anymore. Be sure that your mobile design has adequate white space for finger navigation, with large buttons and fonts that read well on small screens.

Be Omni Channel

With people becoming increasingly confident shopping online, and mobile commerce growing, increasing numbers of customers are searching marketplace websites before using search engines to research items. It makes sense that merchants should be present on major marketplace sites for this exposure, and also have their own e-commerce site for increased control and profit retention. Strong, consistent branding across all platforms allows customers to recognise you instantly, and also increases trust.

This eBay design created by Frooition for Dyson mirrors their own website within the eBay marketplace, keeping brand continuity and ensuring that customers feel confident that they are shopping with the brand, even when they are not on the brand’s own website.dyson-ebay

Make Buying Easy

96% of customers reporting high-effort experiences do not become repeat purchasers, compared with only 9% of those with low-effort experiences.

Survay by Comscore and UPS

Even an item offered at the most perfect price will never sell if customers struggle to checkout. Your entire E-Commerce site should be relatively easy to navigate. A rewarding user experience keeps visitors on your site, and also keeps them coming back.

Think about who your customer is and what they are coming to your website for. Make sure everything is they want easy to find, that their questions are answered easily.

This BigCommerce design for ExpoAv.Rent has a hire now button in the central image, and three step description breakdown of the buying process to make it clear how easy it is. There is even a live chat function box in the footer, incase customers have questions.website navigation

 

The best e-commerce designs consider the customer journey, and present information gradually, at the stages where the customer would want it. Put menus or links to product categories in a prominent place, and make sure categories and the products that are in each category are properly named. The last thing you want is for a customer to go on your website only to not know where they are going and have to search for it. The BigCommerce one page checkout was created because the payment page is where most sales are abandoned. A payment must be fast loading, super secure, and filled with minimal effort to maximise sales.

Consider The Cart

Most cart abandonment happens on the checkout page. Aside from displaying information clearly, a good shopping cart layout should be simple, effectively display company branding (colours, company logo), and include prominent checkout buttons.

A shopping cart page should also include all the important elements your customers need, such as the ability to change quantities, select shipping options (shipping prices should be displayed), enter promo codes, select a payment option, or continue shopping and/or adding more products to the cart. Also important: don’t limit customers to only one or two payment options, such as PayPal only, or only Visa and Mastercard but not American Express. You are only hurting yourself by not making as many payment options as possible available to your customers.

BigCommerce payment pages can be branded with your company logo, but are managed by BigCommerce to ensure premium performance and optimum security.

Contact Frooition to discuss creating an e-commerce store that drives sales through user experience focus for your brand.

5 Lessons Every E-Commerce Merchant Can Learn From Amazon

Lesson 1:  Social Proof Sells

Over half of people in the U.S now search for a product on Amazon before they use a search engine like Google. One of the main reasons for this is the massive success of Amazon’s on page product reviews and customer questions and answers. Clearly displaying product reviews can answer customer questions and overcome buyer hesitation, significantly improving the conversion rate of a product page.

Knowing how precious customer reviews are, Amazon leverages post purchase emails to make sure they get reviews from as many customers as possible. This is something that can also work for other online retailers, building social proof for products and boosting sales.

Lesson 2: Own Your Mistakes

When Amazon removed un authorised copies of books from people’s kindles without notifying them, the internet exploded with furious customers. But when Amazon’s CEO Jeff Benzos publicly apologised online, many applauded his bravery and were very forgiving. A huge PR catastrophe was saved by one man stepping forward to give a heartfelt apology.

It may be on a far smaller scale that Bezo’s press release, but when you make mistakes, honesty and sincere apologies will always be well received.

Amazon apology

 

Lesson 3: Page Speed is Power

The time it takes for a webpage to load can have a large impact on user experience and sales, and so Amazon take page speed very seriously. Amazon analyzed their ratio of sales to website performance in 2016, and discovered that for every 100ms of page load time there was a 1% decrease in sales.

So how fast does your website need to be? Many usability experts propose that the ideal page load time is 2 seconds or less. Frooition websites and eBay designs load in one second or less across all devices. You can easily test the page load time of your own website by using free tools such as WebPageTest.org

Lesson 4: Personalize To Maximise Sales

One thing that Amazon does very well is personalizing the shopping experience to each user. Going to Amazon’s homepage you’ll see different sections such as “Related to Items You’ve Viewed,” “Inspired by Your Shopping Trends,” Recommendations for You in..,” etc. Amazon knows that the more relevant the product is to the user the more likely users will purchase. Online retailers can learn from Amazon and personalize the shopping experience as much as possible. Both BigCommerce and Shopify offer plugins to provide similar functionality. A simple alternative within BigCommerce or Shopify would be showing users recently viewed products, or relevant related products to what they have been viewing. While it might not be as fancy as Amazon’s elaborate personalization strategy, it’s a simple way to personalize the shopping experience that is proven to improve average order value.

Further Reading: How to sell on Amazon: the ultimate list of Amazon articles

Lesson 5: Let Data Drive Your Decisions

“If you double the number of experiments you do per year you’re going to double your inventiveness.”
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

Adopting a culture that allows for continuous testing can have a high payoff in e-commerce. Amazon test Product prices, marketing channels, calls to action, colors, navigation, button styles, messaging, shipping rates, etc. If you can think of it, chances are they’ve already tested it.

Some experiments will yield positive results while others not so much. Don’t be afraid to fail. Even experiments with negative results can provide useful insights. Powerful traffic and visitor analysis platforms such as Google Analytics can help webmasters make data driven decisions when it comes to testing.

A/B testing different versions of mail campaigns, social media adverts or landing pages from your Google ad campaigns is a good way to start establishing what your customers want to interact with.

With online retail, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Massive ecommerce websites such as Amazon have paved the way for online success. They have shaped customer expectations and the way we shop online. By learning from Amazon, online retailers can utilise proven strategies, design, and plug ins within a BigCommerce store to create Amazon style selling success for their own e-commerce.