Author: Jessica McDonald

How to write a returns policy that converts.

returns

An ecommerce return policy can make or break a sale.

It can be the difference between a visitor and a customer for life. One of the biggest contributors to a sale is how you deal with a potential buyer’s questions, especially regarding what you’ll do if they don’t like what they purchased.

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.

A clear returns, refunds, and exchanges policy shows that you are confident in your product and customer service experience. It is one of the many “wow” factors you can provide shoppers who may be a little concerned about buying online rather than in person.

One study featured in the Journal of Marketing found that customers who received free shipping on returns increased their purchases over the next two years by 58 to 357%.

Your returns policy is an opportunity to build trust, and to differentiate yourself.

Don’t hide your policy.

You customers should never have to search to find delivery and returns information on your store. Keep returns procedure in a prominent position on your main menu. Or, if you’re comfortable, shout it from the rooftops by placing it in places like your promo boxes and banners throughout your store. Be sure to include it in your confirmation emails on purchases. Let those who have already bought know that you are dedicated to them liking their product, and that if they don’t, they can always return it. Being your customers biggest advocate is a great way to foster lifetime loyalty.

Write your own.

This goes for anything on your site (especially product descriptions), but a returns and exchange policy is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. Personalize it to your business and target audience. Make it engaging and reiterate your commitment to your customers. Include, if possible, customer reviews of the experience as well. Use this page as a testimonial spot on your site. Let it prove to potential customers that not only do people love your products, but that even when they don’t, you still treat everyone with respect and fairness.

Keep it simple.

Yes, you want to talk to your target audience, but avoid complicated wording. You don’t want to confuse anyone. Keep wording simple, use bullet points, incorporate real customer feedback. and make it skim read friendly.

Don’t be scary.

Try not to use phrases like “you must” and “you are required” or the worst… “we are not responsible for.” Make your returns process easy. Returns process should be as easy as purchase process.

Set clear expectations.

Do you exchange, offer store credit or refund their money? Every merchant has their own preference, and you shouldn’t feel pressured offer only a full refund. Many customers are very happy with an exchange, but setting clear expectations is the essential thing.

What’s the procedure for a return or exchange? Does the customer need to use your packaging or can they use their own? Do they need to include the order slip? Is there a limited time in which a return or exchange can be completed? Who pays for shipping? You or your customer? Outline the specific process and guidelines. Make your ecommerce shipping policy and returns understandable and straight-forward. By allaying customers’ fears, and encouraging trust, you are encouraging sales.

Make it low effort.

The biggest cause of customer disloyalty is a high effort experience. Easy returns keep customers coming back in the future. Tailor your return experience to the target market of your business. Consider the lifestyle of your customer, and how much they value their time. Also, consider the nature of your product. Generally, the larger an item, or the higher value, the more hesitant a customer will be about purchasing due to worries about potential returns. The clearer you make your policy for these people, the more likely you are to convert and sell to them.

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

Some key points to consider:

  • Who will pay for the return shipping?
  • Who will organise the return?
  • How many steps there are in the process of organising a return for your customer?
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Keeping customers informed on the status of their return is also important to an effortless experience. Let them know (or provide tracking numbers) when their item has made it back to you, when the refund has been processed, or the replacement sent out.

Great refund policies encourage customers to commit to a purchase, and allow them to shop without fear of consequence.

Boden is a great example of a return policy done well. Their willingness to accept refunds and fun way of communicating that policy means they make fans for life.

Bottom line; the easier you make returns, the more you sell.

Mobile commerce and eBay

mobile commerce

Two thirds of people now own a smart phone. Anyone who owns one will know, they are incredibly addictive devices. We check them around 40 times a day on average. The top uses for them are checking social media, banking, and shopping. As the internet landscape is fast changing into a more mobile one, Google now ranks mobile friendly sites above their non-optimised competition.

Fastest growing e-commerce segment

The most online shopping in the UK is now done via smart phones and tablets. Ebay Q2 results for 2016 showed that over 50% of eBay sales now involve a mobile device. Mobile commerce is the fastest growing sector of e commerce, with 15% yearly growth.

Retail experts credit the increase in mobile commerce to increasing smart phone screen size, improved mobile internet speeds and more retailers optimizing sites for mobile customers.

Mark Felix, online sales director at John Lewis says: “mobile commerce is undoubtedly our fastest growing sales channel.”

Second screen shopping

Using minute-by-minute data information and by breaking down user activity by device, eBay tracked shopper behaviour at precise TV moments, and gained valuable insights into how mobile devices are used to shop on eBay.

During the season 7 premiere of The Great British Bake Off in August 2016, eBay saw a 67% rise in consumer interest in baking products while the show was on air. This soared to 133% during the hour immediately afterwards. The day after the finale of season six of Game of Thrones aired, eBay UK recorded a sixfold increase in searches for Game of Thrones merchandise. (eBay UK retail report 2016)

71% of these searches were via mobile. People were watching television, picking up their phones and tablets and searching for items associated to what they were watching, as they were watching it. The convenience of mobile devices makes mobile commerce far better for impulse buys.

But many retailers are still missing out on mobile commerce. According to research by Centre for Retail Research (CRR) and VoucherCodes.co.uk, the UK retail industry is sacrificing £6.6bn per year due to lack of investment into its mobile offering.

The same research found that 73% of UK shoppers predict they will spend more on mobile this year, and 15% now use mobile as their primary shopping device. 40% of those consumers said that they feel the mobile experience could be improved.

Data from Walker Sands revealed that while cash use is on the decline and mobile payments are on the rise, eight out of 10 consumers have concerns about mobile payment services, with the most popular concerns being security (57%) and privacy (48%).

e-commerce is becomming m-commerce

EBay know that mobile is the future of online shopping, and are working to make sure that they offer customers the best mobile shopping experience they can. The eBay app now shows an automatically generated summary description of your product, making it easier for customers to browse and buy quickly. Changes are also being made to eBay’s active content policy, so that from June 2017, eBay will be free from potentially risky active content. Addressing customer’s primary fears of security and privacy of mobile transactions is undoubtedly a smart move, and will encourage more to buy from eBay using mobile devices.

So with sales from mobile devices set to account for 45% of all ecommerce by 2020, translating to $248 billion, what can you do to ensure your store doesn’t miss out on mobile sales?

Consider button size

It is no good having a mobile site with buttons so small that they are difficult to read or click without accidently clicking onto something else

Words – less is more

People scroll a product description less on a mobile device than on any other kind of device. Be sure that your product description sells the product benefits without long paragraphs. Consider using bullet points.

Everything in its place

Don’t make the description extra long by tagging on information about postage or returns. EBay have areas for this. Repeating them in the description will only risk boring and disengaging customers.

Test on multiple devices

Check how your store looks on different sized screens, on the ebay app and in a browser. Frooition eBay designs are all fully dynamic, meaning that they work across a range of devices.

Remove active content

If your listings contain active content, this will need to be removed and replaced with active content policy compliant elements. Active content poses security risks and gives a poor experience for mobile customers, and so eBay are banning it.  From June 2017, active elements will not be rendered by eBay as intended. Frooition have been working closely with eBay on active content policy changes. We continue to offer the following great features on listings without any use of Flash, JavaScript, Form Actions or plug-ins:

  • Responsive mobile design
  • Zooming image gallery
  • Product information tabs
  • Dynamic store categories that update across all listings
  • Dynamic, intelligent, cross promotion that offer related items, not random un-related products

We are also offering listing rescue service for sellers with a non Frooition design. We can strip Active Content from their existing listings and applying the new design on behalf of the seller, saving them weeks or months of work.

Confidence in mobile commerce is growing, and eBay are planning for dramatic growth in this area.

Active Content and eBay – debunking the myths

ebay active content compliant design

Ebay’s fall seller release in 2016 announced that active content would be taken out of eBay. Seller forums were set alight with questions and speculation. Frooition customers have been supported through the changes, but there has been a wealth of misinformation spread about this topic, and so as eBay official certified partners, we are taking the top myths, and debunking them with the truth.

Myth 1:

Active content ban means a ban on design

Ebay have not said that they want to remove design. Ebay themselves had us create them a listing design for their packaging supplies store. At eBay open in July 2016, Shan Vosseller, eBay’s senior director of product, pointed out that it was still important for sellers to brand and merchandise themselves well. Alternatives to active content can create stunning designs. All of our eBay designs for the past six months have been created active content free. This includes feature rich designs.

active content compliant design   active content  ebay active content compliant design ebaystore

Myth 2:

Listings are ok as long as they don’t have video

Active content is not just videos. In fact, moving images are not necessarily active content. Active content consists of scripts and plugins that add functionality to a page. Sellers who use listing services or custom listing templates may have Active Content. In terms of content, active does not specifically refer to movement on screen.  In eBay’s context, it refers to the ability to change page content after the page has finished loading. Animated GIF images do not fall under that classification and will still be allowed in eBay listings under the current guidelines. While some video formats will no longer function, eBay is currently allowing videos that use the MP4 format and the <video> tag. Moving animation that can be created using pure CSS will still be allowed.

Myth 3:

No active content means a return to hard coded HTML

Many content policy compliant designs are made up of cut and paste html with hard coded categories and cross promotion features. These are time consuming to maintain, unscalable and potentialy harmful to an eBay business. The Frooition development team have put a lot of time in, alongside eBay, to create software that supports dynamic catagories and cross promotions that automaticaly update and can be edited by sellers with just a click of a button.

Myth 4:

Ebay will clear listings for sellers

Ebay worked closely with Frooition, as their their official certified third party design provider, to find active content free solutions for sellers. But it is the responsibility of every seller to make the decision on what is the best course of action for their own business, and to have those changes implemented. Content can be removed either manually, or with the automated listing rescue service, listings can be left plain, an active content free template can be applied, or a full bespoke active content free design can be put into place. There are many options, but it is up to each seller to decide on action for themselves. Ebay will not be fixing listings.

Active content can inhibit mobile purchasing, creating longer load times, increase security vulnerabilities, and have a negative impact on the overall user experience. For these reasons, eBay are stopping its use in listings from June 2017. JavaScript, Flash, Plug-ins and form actions will all be blocked. These changes to active content are to enhance customer experience and encourage people to buy on eBay. Ultimately, these changes will help eBay sellers to make more money from eBay.

If you are unsure about active content and your eBay store, contact us for your free listing review. 

Building trust on your ecommerce website

building trust on your ecommerce website

Building trust on your ecommerce website is essential to its success. Here, we share some key points on creating a website that lets customers know that they can buy from you with confidence.

Contact information

The biggest way to reassure customers that you are a trustworthy business, is to make it immediately clear how they can contact you. Email and phone number should not need to be searched for. Social media and chat functions on the website are also valuable. The more methods you offer customers for contacting you, the better. Making your customer service as easily accessable as your products is a massive part of building trust on your ecommerce website. To be extra customer friendly, put a note of your customer service hours, so that customers are not dissapointed if they have to wait for a response.

Be consistant

Keep what was on your landing page visible on your product pages: contact information, credibility markers, live chat options, etc.

Add a personal touch

Add a blog or an about us page, to tell your story and show your expertize. Write in a consistant tone, so that customers can feel that they know your company and what approach to expect from you. Avoid using stock photos. It’s better to post a real photo of your team and humanize your interaction with your customers.

secure ecommerce

Be open

A major key to building customer trust is the option to exchange or return the product in the event of something being wrong.Make sure that your shipping and returns policies visible and easy to find.

SSL certificates

Having an SSL Certificate confirms that you are who you say you are. This is a key point of gaining customer trust and showing the customer that your site is a trustworthy one.

Delivery info

Display a delivery calculator to help your customer understand how much the total purchase will cost. Offer several secured payment and delivery options to give your customers as many choices as possible. Never hide the delivery costs at any point

Be mobile

Trust and security concerns are the main barriers to purchase for customers on mobile. Ensure that your site appears well on mobile, has good load time and has a short check out process, with security badges.

Improving the customer experience and making your site more informative with clear pictures, policies and contact details is a massive part of building trust on your ecommerce website. Following through on these with consistant service, smooth delivery and returns, will secure customer trust and win you their loyalty.

Why cross selling is so important – and how so many eBay sellers are getting it wrong.

According to Marketing Metrics, the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%.

When a customer is making a purchase, they are already in the mind set to buy.  It is the best time to sell them other products. Increasing average sale this way is what successful online entrepreneurs often refer to as “making all the profits on the back-end.”

In 2006, Amazon reported that cross-selling and upselling contributed as much as 35% of their revenue. Both techniques are important to customer experience and maximising sales.

The difference between cross selling and up selling

 

Cross selling a tent to camping gear  up-selling-1

Which is right for your business?

There is no reason not to use both.

McDonald’s ask “would you like fries with that?” as the cross sell, then “would you like to go large?” as the upsell.  Predicting customers’ actual needs is the secret to successful cross and up sales.

Amazon have done particularly well with their cross selling, because they always keep it relevant. The phrase ‘customers who bought this also bought’ cleverly works social proof into the sell too.

Take your time to develop a range of problems and opportunities based on your customers’ priorities. If you’ve done enough analytics-based research, you should have a fairly good idea about what your customers want.

offers should make sense while providing a clear benefit to the customer. The goal is always to create a win-win situation, not to browbeat your customer into buying something they don’t necessarily want or have no interest in.

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Linda’s stuff have used the right hand promotion box within the listing for this sweater to show other sweaters which are the same size and a similar colour. For a customer who is searching for a smalll, gray sweater this is improving their experience and increasing the chances of them buying from Linda’s stuff.

Customization is a huge part of upselling. The price of your product, its uses, and why people commonly buy them should all be factored into when and how you employ it in an upsell.

When cross selling goes wrong

Cross selling features in eBay designs can be dynamic, or hard coded. There is a very non technical reason why it matters which you use.

Dynamic cross promotion scans through your live listings, and automatically shows related products, based on the rules you set. The rules could be size, colour, any relevant feature. It will only connect listings which are relevant and live.

Hard coded cross promotion solutions need to be updated every time a product sells out. A seller would need to go through and update every listing, or they would be cross promoting to a dead listing.

Cross promoting to a dead listing is pointless, and will very likely lose you sales. Frooition have worked with eBay to  develop dynamic cross promotion features which are active content free. The above example of Linda’s stuff is one of our many active content free custom listing designs. For people who have a template rather than a custom design, we have a dynamic cross selling app which is also active content compliant.

Although increased sales are the main focus and average order size, it’s equally important to also consider the customer experience. In fact, these two things are mutually dependant. Offering customers seemingly random products will just leave customers confused, and won’t sell anything. Carefully look at your store, and  the range of products you offer and consider what makes the most sense to offer the customer. Improve their experience, and your revenues will follow.

Writing compelling descriptions – even for boring products.

writing compelling descriptions

It is an easy mistake to make, To simply describe a product in the description.

But why just describe it, when you can sell it?

Talk to your audience

Who is your product for? Is it for mountain climbers, parents of young children, or people who own a car? Writing compelling descriptions depends on you knowing your target audience. When you know your target audience, you will know how they like to be spoken to, what makes them laugh and why your product would benefit them.

Sell the sizzle

Establish what makes your product desirable, then tell people about that. Does it save your customer time or make them look good? Does it solve a problem? Is it faster or more effective than alternatives? Marketing people say “sell the sizzle, not the steak.” and that means, tell the benefits, not just the item specifics.

Share knowledge

As with everything else in marketing, writing compelling descriptions involves sharing knowledge. Use your description to share knowledge about the product. Tell stories to bring it to life. Stories about how the product was invented, the people who make it and where it comes from. Tell stories that exemplify the benefits of your product. Delight your customers with seductive descriptions. Show your enthusiasm for your product, because that is what is contagious.

Write for people in a rush

The internet has made us expect everything quicker, including information. Make sure that you have plenty of good clear product photos, and if the product is something small enough to be held, have an image of it in someone’s hand for scale. Product descriptions that are clear and scan readable are easier and more appealing for customers.

Here are some areas to focus on:

  • Lead your web visitor with headings and sub headings;
  • Use easy-to-scan bullet points
  • Include plenty of white space
  • Increase your font size to promote readability

Keep practicing writing your product stories, and play with formats that make it clearer to view. Try writing an engaging story for your product description, and a shorter version for mobile. Test them out and see what works for you. Writing new descriptions costs you nothing, but could potentially make you lots.

Frooition eBay Design For Universal Gadgets

Frooition eBay design for universal gadgets

In 2008, Ken Emchebe started selling mobile phone covers on eBay with the username Universal Gadgets. In under four years he managed to build Universal Gadgets to be the first million feedback seller. In 2014, Universal Gadgets had Frooition create them an eBay design. A year later, they topped the UK eBay rich list with monthly sales of £1.5 million.

Universal Gadgets have just had their second Frooition design, and we have asked them to share a bit about why they have chosen to return to us for their store design.

“We have worked previously with Frooition and from start to finish, the whole experience was fast and friendly. Their online platform can be used to keep track of progress of the design and build at every stage, on here you can ask questions and be kept updated at all times.” – Universal Gadgets

Frooition eBay design

 

Rather than just remove elements of active content, Universal Gadgets have chosen to take the opportunity to re design their store. Their new Frooition eBay design includes product and brand categories, as well as intelligently synced, active content compliant cross promotion features.

Frooition eBay design

 

“We chose to use Frooition again to redesign our store for two reasons; the first being eBay’s new active content policy. We know we can rely on Frooition’s vast knowledge of the platform and rules. Also, we felt that a redesign was in order, to keep our shop up to date and exciting. Last time we used Frooition, the final design was very bold and eye catching, which is what is needed on an online selling platform, it is easy to look like everyone else selling on eBay, what is hard is creating your own style with the limited layout functionality available and Frooition pulled this off no problem. I would recommend Frooition to any business that wants to take selling on eBay seriously.” – Universal Gadgets

Universal gadgets chose Frooition eBay design topseller package for their business.  Wanting  their store and listings to be active content compliant, with strong personal branding and a whole host of cross selling features. We have a range of packages, with different features for different business needs.

Things all eBay businesses should do at the start of the year.

Plan marketing

Planning your promotions and marketing is probably the single best thing you can do for your business. To help you, here are some free printable planning sheets to help guide you on planning your promotions and marketing for the year ahead.

planner-1 copy-of-daily-planner daily-planner-1

Address active content issues

Active content inhibits purchases on mobile devices and poses security risks.

From June 2017 eBay will not allow active content in listings. Active content includes Java script, Flash, form actions and plug-ins.

Every eBay business will need to update their listings to be compliant with eBay’s new rules. Frooition can help with this.

Look at where you can be more cost efficient

Reducing your costs automatically makes you more profitable. If you haven’t recently, look at core costs such as postage and packaging supplies and delivery. A less expensive option may be available than when you last looked. Some options may have been right for your business at the time that you chose them, but they may not be best for the business you are now, or plan to be at the end of the year.

Perhaps you have had a designer add banners and promotional graphics to your eBay store, but plan to run more regular promotions this year, and upgrading to a solution like Signature, which would allow you to quickly add these things yourself. Saving time and designers fees.

Look at where you could save time

The most common mistake entrepreneurs make when trying to take their businesses to the next level is thinking that they simply have to work harder, or work longer hours.
But the problem with that is, as Michael Gerber points out in his seminal book The E Myth, it’s not scalable. You have natural limitations on your time and energy.

If your business relies entirely on the amount of work you can put in then it will inevitably hit a wall that you will not be able to get past, regardless of how hard you work.

The beginning of the year is the perfect time to review your own role in your business, and see where you would be best directing your time to grow your business. Virtual assistants can take some more menial tasks off your hands so that you can focus on the things that only you can do. Make sure that as much of your eBay process is automated as possible. Look at time saving options like listing rescue to stop changes in eBay policy disrupting your usual schedule.

Proper preparation is always the first step to success. Set out plans now to make this coming year be your most successful yet.

Books to read for better business in 2017

An entrepreneur needs to be a jack of all trades. Sourcing stock; marketing, handling finances, and dealing with customers. Staying sharp on such a wide range of skills, means constantly building on your own knowledge.

Bill Gates may have Warren Buffet on speed dial, but we can’t all have our own personal billionaire business guru. But fortunately for us, any of the world’s top business people do write books to share their knowledge though, and so we have put a list together of a few we consider pretty essential, to help you improve your business in 2017.

1. Why sell tacos in Africa

Author: Paul Oberschneider – started with $400 and over 18 years built a portfolio of business worth over 200 million dollars across five countries.

Oberschneider debunks any idea that there’s a secret path or code you need to crack in order to follow in his footsteps. He sets out the simple and logical steps he took (and still takes now) to create the success that he did. It’s an easy read masterclass in success, written by the guy that did it.

why sell tacos in africa

2. The Willpower Instinct

Author: Jane McGonigal

Willpower presents a great challenge for all of us. It’s not an unlimited resource and when we’re tired, we make bad decisions, or feel unable to make decisions at all. Jane’s book recommendation, The Willpower Instinct, uses the latest research to help readers optimize their willpower for maximum output.

the willpower instinct book cover

3. Ogilvy on Advertising

Author: David Ogilvy. – One of the world’s most sought after advertisers.

This candid primer on all aspects of advertising is a must-read for anyone who wants to write more persuasive ads.

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4. Tools of the Titans

Tim has interviewed tons successful people from a huge variety of fields on his podcast, the Tim Ferriss Show. Whether he’s speaking with a retired US Army general, a stand-up comedian, a tech company founder, or an Olympic coach, Tim delves into the secrets of their success that anyone can apply to their own lives and work.

Tim has distilled all the key points from those interviews into a book you can easily reference any time. Want to know how Seth Godin thinks about money? Flip to page 238. Want Tracy DiNunzio’s advice on how to complain less? Flip to page 314.

tools of the titans

 

5. Delivering Happiness

Subtitle: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

Author: Tony Hsieh

 The CEO of Zappos explains how he created a corporate culture based upon the concept that there is value to happiness, both for employees and customers.

200px-deliveringhappiness

6. Judo Strategy

Subtitle: Turning Your Competitors’ Strength to Your Advantage

Authors: David B. Yoffie and Mary Kwak

This book applies martial arts strategy to business situations, building the case that, rather than oppose strength to strength, successful challengers use their opponents’ size and power to bring them down.

judo strategy book cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have any suggestions of essential reading for e commerce entrepreneurs, please comment below.

eBay active content policy changes – June 2017

ebay active content policy changes

We have had eBay sellers contacting us, concerned that eBay active content policy changes in 2017, and their listings still contain active content.

We want to reassure sellers that their is no need to panic.

From spring, active elements will stop working, but listings will remain active and customers will still be able to purchase.

Active content changes come into full effect in June. So there is still time to organize an active content free design solution for your listings.

Frooition can create listing designs, complete with dynamic cross promotion features, completely active content free. For sellers who don’t have a Frooition design,  listing rescue is the fastest way to clear active content from listings.