inSparq*

inSparq

1234567inSparq’s is Social Merchandising Platform that provides online retailers with the easiest tools to connect with their customers with products they will love. inSparq helps retailers improve conversion rates by translating social activity into real-time trending product recommendations.

1234567Key benefits that inSparq provides dynamic merchandising, meaning it enables dynamic merchandising anywhere on the site. This will allow consumers to easily and quickly find the products they wanted and engage live with it via social inputer platforms (like, comments, ..) that automatically links to their Facebook page. In addition those customers that are engaged were proven to have 200% improvement in their conversion rates.Innovative retailers like C. Wonder and Lolly Wolly Doodle conversion rate increased by that 200%+.

1234567Another key benefit inSparq provides is the traffic growth, where it has been proven that with them social traffic increased by 200-300%. The nice thing about inSparq is its ability to customise the look and feel to the client’s specification and the integration of the whole system requires zero IT support! Which is great because the money spent on IT systems in today’s world is 11.6 billion US dollars.

1234567The Sharing & Reward feature enables retailers to grant shoppers for sharing products they love across across social media. In this wy brand lovers tun into ambassadors and increase the % of referrals. In addition, inSparq on web analytics systems lows retailers to easily see what products are trending, most viral, and also know who their most viable/profitable customers are. Also through pixel tagging inSparq are able to look at social and transactional data and leverage that in personalisation.

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The China eCommerce Market

1234567On Thursday November 14, 2013, Professor Rhodes invited a NYU graduate, Mr. David Panitz, to explain to us what his business is and how it works. Mr. Panitz is the Senior Vice President of Bleum Commerce. The company describes itself on their website as an organization “that is committed to delivering highest-quality, mission-critical applications through offshore development centers that become an integral extension of our clients’ IT organizations. Bleum Commerce provides a range of services including application development, support and maintenance, testing and legacy system modernization, and product development to clients in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific”.

1234567Mr. Panitz described the company as “a complete Managed Commerce solution for the China marketplace. We drive e-commerce and multi-channel commerce to connect western brands to the Chinese consumer”

1234567In short, Bleum Commerce helps companies enter the Chinese market, which can be a pretty complicated process that needs assistance and guidance for companies that are expert in it.

1234567There are so many reasons why China is a very exciting opportunity for retailers. By 2016 China will be the biggest eCommerce market in the world! The disposale income will double.

source: Mr. Panitz presentation

source: Mr. Panitz presentation

In addition, the middle-class is growing in China increasing the overall average income, and consumption.

Source: Mr. Panitz presentation

Source: Mr. Panitz presentation

The overall GDP growth outpaces Western Countries, reasons to that is their growing consumption driven growth.

GDP Growth

Source: Mr. Panitz presentation
Source: Mr. Panitz presentation

Source: Mr. Panitz presentation

1234567Also the trend of Multi-Channel is growing. 3/4 of Chinese consumers prefer to shop online. Which equates 511 million Chinese that shop online. imagine that that massive number is only 37.82% of the population (1.351 billion).

Source: Mr. Panitz presentation

Source: Mr. Panitz presentation

1234567Another reason to invest or enter the Chinese market is the the increase in demand for foreign goods.  The Chinese are asking for Made in the USA stamped products. US brands will work for in the Chinese market, because of the  growing consumer base and urbanisation in China. No need to ulter or change the store experience. They want to have the same experience they had when they entered the Paris boutique.

1234567Social media plays a huge effect worldwide on eCommerce, in China specifically. As shown in the bellow chart, Chinese are the most social online shoppers in the world.

Source: Mr. Panitz presentation

Source: Mr. Panitz presentation

1234567In the end, whatever market company decides to enter, it must look at where in the map people are searching the most about it, and where in the map people are talking most about it, and most importantly where in the map people place orders from it.

The New Heavy Zero Weight Wallet

1234567In our eCommerce class we had a guest speaker from Google that introduced us to Google’s new product; Google Wallet. Google Wallet is a free digital wallet that securely stores your credit cards, debit cards, offers and more. At this point of time it is based in the United States only. Google Wallet is similar to existing digital wallets like PayPal and Square in some areas but very unique in others.

Features comparisios between Google Wallet and other existing digital wallets:

  • Google Wallet, like other digital wallets, provides the ability to send and receive money anywhere to/from people who have Google Wallet. It is easy, free, and secure. However they are different with their new feature they added that enables users to actually send/receive money via email. Money are sent via attachment using your gmail account. You can send money to none Gmail users as well. You can now send them money as easily as seeing them a picture!

Following is a simple table that illustrates Google Wallet rates from sending and receiving money.

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 1.31.30 PM

  • Google Wallet Purchase Protection covers 100% of eligible unauthorized Google Wallet transactions. Plus, their advanced monitoring system checks for fraud 24/7, which means, as they label it,  you can shop with confidence. In addition, Google Wallet never shares the full credit and debit card info you store in your Wallet with any merchant, online or offline.
  • Another unique feature that is not implemented by any of the existing digital wallets is the ability to store your loyalty card information using Google Wallet. This is enabled by simply scanning the cards or typing in the numbers and instantly join new programs in the app, and leave the plastic cards behind. You no longer need to have several applications track your loyalty points, Google Wallet is the new one shop stop.

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 1.09.50 PM

  • To me, one of the main reasons I do not redeem offers is because I have them spread around the apartment in different places and forms. Some are in my email, some are on my study desk, others somewhere under the bed, and most of them are in the trash. Google Wallet makes it possible to collect all of your offers and sort them in one simple, clean, and organized platform. This makes it easier to find the offer, remember that you have an offer, and actually use it.

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 1.04.47 PM

  • Similar to Square, Google Wallet allows for faster in-store checkout. With NFC-enabled devices you are able to tap to pay. Purchases can be funded with your Wallet Balance or with your preferred credit or debit card. Unlike Square, Google doesn’t charge any fees when you tap and pay.

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 1.20.21 PM

  • Purchases on mobile apps and sites in as few as two clicks. Similar to PayPal Google Wallet has your information stored, you no longer need to do your favourite process of online purchasing (filling out billing and shipping forms) just click on Buy with Google button and you are good to go.

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 1.19.16 PM

  • Unlike PayPal, when creating an account Google Wallet asks for the social security number in order to increase security measures to avoid any future hazards that may occur.

1234567For the above mentioned features, I am considering looking deeper into Google Wallet, and trying it to see if it is really worth switching from PayPal to it.

Online Advertising-Facebook

1234567The internet has drastically changed the way the world is functioning. It is changing how people, governments, and industries behave. It changed how information is shared, and definitely had its profound effect on marketing.  Businesses are now reaching out to whom they what, with what they want, and how they want.

According to a Forbes‘ article titled “The Top 7 Online Marketing Trends that Will Dominate 2014”. The online marketing trends are as follows:

  1. Content Marketing Will be Bigger Than Ever
  2. Social Media Marketing Will Require More Diversity
  3. Image-Centric Content Will Rule
  4. Less Will be More
  5. Mobile-Friendly Content Will Be Necessary
  6. Ad Retargeting Will Grow in Effectiveness
  7.  SEO and Social Signals Will Become Even More Intertwined

Read details on the following link: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2013/09/17/the-top-7-online-marketing-trends-that-will-dominate-2014/

1234567These trends are almost all in place for any successful industry. Facebook turned from becoming a social media only to a social media platform advertising Guru. There are over 800 million Facebook users. The projected ad spend on Facebook this year is $2.2 billion.

1234567 As I posted earlier, what makes Facebook advertising different than any other social advertising is the amount of powerful data they have on their customer. They have their names, location, gender, martial status, interests, movies, and the list goes on. They basically know everything about the person. And the way they leverage that is; for example, if a Jessica just got engaged and posted it on Facebook, and she lives in Manhattan, a bridal store in Manhattan with 6 blocks radius away from her will choose to advertise wedding dresses to her.

FB Micro-Segmentation

Online  Advertising takes into consideration different factors to place its cost strategy on. It could be:

  • Cost per click/cost per impression
  • Cost per conversion
  • Placement of the ad
  • Duration
  • Placement timing

Continue reading

“Learn the Details…Live The Concept”

halloween1

1234567On Halloween night we were fortunate to have an intelligent guest speaker at our E-commerce class. Her name is So Young Park. She spoke to us on how to optimise job experiences. She started with a statement that really stuck with me. She said that “Details matter, but concepts matter more she elaborated further on that by explaining that if a person knows the concepts, the roots, then that’s all what matters. Reason to that is details always change, whereas concepts remain the same.

1234567Mrs. Park explained optimisation as the iterative, applied process of measuring improving building getting progressively “better” over time. One of the main drivers of optimisation that she mentioned is knowing when to quit. Optimization is not about building and building and building, it is about knowing when to stop, step back, and rebuild again.

OPt chart

 

My key takeaways from Mrs. Park presentation are:

  • Learn the details, live the concepts.
  • Optimize for the right KPIs.
  • Know when to stop.
  • Gain a variety of experiences and build on them.
  • Develop your inner optimizer, your trusted internal guidance system.

Continue reading

Billing Systems And The Buyer’s Behaviours

eMoney

         

1234567Virtual currencies are a very big topic in today’s world, and everyone in the business want to participate and be a part of that conversation.

1234567According to Sara Selldahl‘s article “Virtual Currencies and the Functionality of Money” Traditionally, money is associated with three different functions: as a medium of exchange, a unit of account, and a store of value. These functionalities are applicable for both physical money and virtual currencies as well (12 Nov, 2012). In most cases, virtual currencies are not created to replace the national currencies, but rather as a part of a business strategy.

1234567On Thursday, Oct 24th Craig Alberino joined us in our E-Commerce class as a guest speaker on billing systems. He started his career in the early 1990s as a management consultant. He has helped companies implement innovative strategies that produce transformative business success. Now, Craig is an entrepreneur and an investor in big markets. He is the founding partner of Ingk Labs and a board member at Payz.

1234567Payz is an electronic wallet that enables merchants to easily accept payments of all types, including credit card, ACH, and cash via a Payz account. It is an “electronic wallet” that is preloaded by a consumer with monetary value. Through cross-merchant data analytics & branded loyalty programs, merchants lower shopping cart abandonment and see an increase in transactions.

1234567Craig pointed out some really interesting findings on some of the challenges in today’s challenging E-Commerce ecosystem. One challenge he pointed out is that 80% of revenues come from 20% of your customers, and most companies do not know whom those customers are. This is an issue, I think, can be turned into a big opportunity.

1234567As it has been said thousands of times in marketing articles “the cost of acquiring a new customer is much higher than the cost of retaining an existing one”. Hence, marketing budget allocated to the none-profitable customers should be shifted to those 20%. A no brainer suggestion, I know. But it takes so much effort to go through any dataset and perform data crunching and mining to understand, truly, how much each person has in his/her basket, and how often do they fill it. Understanding these customers’ metrics allows companies to spend their marketing budget in the most efficient and effective manner and leverage their 20%.

1234567Another problem that was addressed in Craig’s presentation is that 88% of online shoppers abandon their carts. Why do we add items in our Amazon cart and not convert immediately? What is the reason? Cart abandonment causes $267 Million in losses daily in the United States, and surprisingly these rates are not improving with time, they are dropping!

1234567Looking at myself as a customer several causes comes into place for shopping cart abandonment. Some of the most basic are whether or not the site is provided with an instant paying method like PayPal. If not, and the credit card information page popped up, I usually postpone the conversion that eventually leads to cart abandonment.

1234567I came across an interesting article written by Tommy Walker titled “Shopping Cart Abandonment: Why it Happens & How To Recover Basket Of Money“. In his article he posted a study conducted by WorldPay that reveals the reasons behind Cart Abandonment, which might be worth sharing in class. Following is a chart that illustrates the reasons:

Image

1234567As shown, the number one reason is unexpected cost. Although costs are placed online on items, the cost meant here are shipping costs. Bigger companies have spoiled those customers that are visiting your site, and if you don’t have some form of “free shipping” offer, the risk of cart abandonment increases.

1234567Back in 2011, comScore reported nearly half of all online online purchases had some sort of “free shipping” offer. That same 2011 report noted that 61% of consumers said they are “somewhat likely” to cancel their order if free shipping is not offered.

Image

1234567In an extensive study from SeeWhy they analyzed the behaviour of over 600,000 people and a quarter of a million online transactions. The study found out that  99% of first time visitors will not buy on the first visit, but 75% of them had an intent of returning.

Image

1234567The third and the fourth reasons on WorldPay‘s chart were that the customer found a better price, and the price was too expensive.

1234567Comparing prices nowadays is literally seconds away. Merchants must realise that, and offer incentives to their loyal 20% buyers.ex: 5% off your shipping, get fast shipping for the price of standard shipping. Merchants should also send emails to those who abandoned their carts. According to SeeWhy only 16% of online merchants sent shopping cart abandonment emails. This must be leveraged.  Abandoned carts are not abandoned customer, don’t treat customers upon their what-seems-to-be behaviour, treat them on what was the purpose behind that behaviour, and what their true intent when adding those items.

Loving The Cool Converts Traffic

Love The Cool 12  is a start up company found by Michelle McCormack that describes itself on Crunch Base as a shopping site selling one “RAD” item every month for $12. They have a very simple model of selling one unique accessory or fashion item every month for the same price always no matter what the item is. As simple as that.
To read more click on > http://www.crunchbase.com/company/love-the-cool-12#ixzz2iehCB0dM
We all may have ideas in our minds that we think are absolutely genius. But what if an idea was truly proven to be genius and the public are ready for it, how do we reach the wanted audience? How do we make sure they know about us and our existance? This step may be considered one of the most challenging in and startup small company.

Lets look at measures Michelle McCormack took to convert traffic:

  • Michelle started LoveTheCool as a popular fashion/tech blog. She built the brand name and went from there.
  • One of her mistakes that she mentioned on her Thursday Oct 17th, 2013 in-class presentation was that she did not collect email addresses for site visitors. Now, she is doing that by designing a pop-up that appears when first entering Love The Cool 12 website asking to “Join The Party” and entering email information, as shown bellow:

LTC popup

          The pop-up idea of collecting information is great, but the message behind it, to me, is a bit unclear. It says “Join The Party” but does not explain exactly what it means. With the massive amount of advertising people are getting from emails, asking them to give email addresses out is not that easy. So maybe a simple explanation would drive more signups.

  • Michelle is advertising on Facebook to her target audience, which she regrets not using before. It is a tool to keep your brand in front of potential customers. Facebook offers Facebook’s guide to using its advertising tool where you can see the powerful targeting options that lead to a greater ROI.Following is brilliant video that simply explains how Facebook Ads work:

The following link is a good source to answer any questions on Facebook advertising: https://www.facebook.com/about/ads#relevance

  • Michelle targeted some keywords with SEO.

LovetheKool SEO

          On the other hand when googling some of the items offered on Love The Cool 12 website, locating them was a bit challenging. I tried googling both the fake Chanel bag and the iPhone 5 brass knuckles case and the results were pretty interesting.

When googling  ‘brass knuckles iPhone 5 case’ I could not locate the item, as shown in the bellow search image:

LTC Knuckles

But when I tried to search ‘knuckle case’ I was able to locate it.

LTC case

This indicates that one of the Ad Words Michelle is bidding on is “Knuckle Case”(SEM).

I also tried searching for October’s item, the fake Chanel bag, and came across some the interesting results that I referred to earlier. When searching “12 bucks fake Chanel”, I was able to easily locate the item. On the other hand, when I searched  “12 dollar fake Chanel” I was not able to locate it. This is the SEO effect because her description contains the word ‘bucks’ not ‘dollars’.

LTC 12 Bucks LTC 12 USD

I think a good move for Love The Cool 12 would be to bid on ’12 dollars’ and ’12 bucks’. Since this is what the company represents; selling each month an item for $12, bedding on these keywords would be a proper way of reinforcing that idea and getting more conversions.

  • Love The Cool 12 website is run by Shopify which is a great tool for startups companies. It is affordable, easy to navigate, includes all social and SEO plugins, good Customer Service, and the ability to “Tag & Track”. You can read more about Shopify on my previous post “Merchant Server Software”.

I looked into extra, affordable techniques for start-ups to use in order to transfer traffic into conversion and here are some of the findings I would like to share:

According to an article published by  titled “5 Quality Secrets To Convert Traffic Into Sales”, traffic affects everything. It affects the website rank, sales, page views, etc. If a compay is able to generate  good traffic on their website, ultimately they will be able to overcome all these aspects and succeed. Wadhwa pointed out in a very simplistic illustration that ‘Leads’ are the source of traffic which drive Sales. In order to get those Leads, important, yet obvious features must be in any website:

Visitor Vs Loading Time Chart

  • A well optimized landing page
  • Include a contact number on your website generates trust.
  • Opt-in form on homepage. As the way Love The Cool 12 have it. But make sure your Opt-in form looks attractive with a unique punch line that clearly shows the benefit for the users.
  • About Us page content is very important. As Wadhwa explained “an About US page that contains some great back story about yourself, sharing the motive of starting your business with a great mission statement, not only it will bring interest into the visitors but it will also inspire them”. Wadhwa also suggested to include a sign up page on the About Us page. He justified that by saying when people become more engaged in your story, you will have a higher chance to get the Leads. Smart? Yes.
  • Get leads through Social Media. According to an article posted on MarketingSherpaBlog 61% of marketers admit that they bring more traffic to their website through social media which ultimately converts the traffic into sales.
  • According to an article posted on OnStartups.com titled “The 5 Minute Guide To Cheap Startup Advertising“, written by Rob Walling, offering the visitor something in exchange for their email address (a free trial, a free report, or maybe a free iPhone case) generates more Opt-ins.
  • Gaining the means and permission to contact the customer again is the number one most important rule (double OPT-in). It will increase conversion rates and generate more leads. It enables companies to understand and segment email lists in a more organized manner.
  • Another tactic Walling suggested is niche advertising.  Niche sites tend to be cheaper to advertise on and drive more targeted traffic, which makes a huge difference in conversion rates. Know where your niche hangs out, and target them in that social platform/site.

I would like to conclude this post by an interesting point Walling pointed out in his article: “Unless you have deep pockets think of advertising not as a long-term traffic strategy, but as a testing tool to improve your website and find out more about your ideal visitor. Few bootstrapped startups can withstand the cash outlay required to turn advertising into a marketing activity with a positive ROI, but that shouldn’t keep you from testing the waters to find out for yourself”.

eBay My Love, How Can You Be So Awesome?

According to an article posted by Kathy Totz on Foresee.com, a June 2012 Nielsen study reported by Tech Crunch, eBay and Amazon smartphone apps have the largest unique audience of all shopping apps—at over 13 million and 12 million, respectively.

eBay can be accessed through multiple screens, devices, and platform. You can browse the page through you iPad, iPhone, Android, windows, Blackberry, and of course laptops. Their mobile app that I personally have and love to use, has the same online auction function that the web has, the experience on the mobile app replicates the web’s experience.

After logging into your account it, if I may say, the app simplifies the Web experience. It takes out all that extra noise (daily deals, featured, etc) and delivers what is most relevant to the viewer. On the home screen it shows #items you are watching, buying, selling. It also shows Reminders for items that are ending soon, messages from other members you communicated with, and saved searches.

photo

” Model uses robust regression analysis to quantify cause-and-effect relationships between satisfaction drivers, satisfaction and future behaviours”-Slide 10 on class 5 PPT. eBay’s mobile app in this case fulfilled most, if not all, the Satisfaction Drivers:

Image

The look and feel of the app determines whether or not a user will decide at first to abandon, uninstall, write a bad review, or place a low rating on the app. My opinion, based on the first picture posted, the mobile app’s look and feel is clean, simple,  and straight to the point. When I first open the app the things that I want to see at first are on the home page.

As for the product browsing feature, which must be the most important profit/ satisfaction driver as they have on average 112.3 million listings at any given time, it is smooth and easy. When you first enter a search a listing appears on suggested searches, as shown in the bellow picture:

photo 1

After hitting search the top navigation gives several option. To refine based on Category (men’s clothing, coats & Jackets, Blazers & Sport Coats, etc) , Buying Format (all, action, buy it now, accepts offers), Condition (new, used, not specified), and Price (select a min & max price range).

photo 2

This feature makes the application’s navigation convenient, and enables eBay to collect customer data, a win-win situation.

Product Description & Images are two key Profit and Satisfactory drivers. After conducting a search and reaching your desired item, a description of the product with good quality images to support it, is what determines the “buy it” click. eBay have very strict rules on sellers where they require them to write accurate, true, very clear and specific description about their products. I only once asked a seller to send more images of their product and they would usually do that gladly.

One of my favourite eBay features is ratings & reviews. It really shows you who are you about to deal with before dealing with them, and what’s very helpful is that no one can write a review on a seller or a buyer before a transaction has been made between the two, as oppose to Yelp where a competitor may just login and trash his component’s reviews.

In conclusion, eBay is a world wide known eCommerce company because it truly deserves to be one. It built a name and reputation of trust and convenience that stands before it.

Web Server Softwares

Optimizely:

Optimizely was founded by two former Google product managers, Dan Siroker and Pete Koomen. It a world-class optimization platform that was easy to use in an effort to provide a platform for businesses to be able to conceive and run experiments that helped them make better data-driven decisions.

Features: (based on their website):

  • Acts as your on-demand technical team
  • Instant Testing Capability: after inserting a single line of code generated by Optimizely into the HTML, you never have to touch the code base again. Any variation you create can be live to your visitors within minutes.
  • Custom goal tracking provides an endless range of measurable actions that a company can define
  • Serves all types, size of enterprises
  • Easily create additional user accounts, organize projects and view your experiment inventory in an intuitive and easily navigable dashboard
  • Advanced targeting, allocation, and scheduling features provide maximum flexibility and allow you to run tests on your terms.
  • Integrates with popular existing tools on your website (SiteCatalyst, KISSmetrics, and Google Analytics).
  •  Visual point and click editor: offers a full range of customization, right at your fingertips. Edit text, images, colors, arrangement, and much more with the click of a mouse and instantly launch your new looks
  • Ability to test multiple changes to different sections in parallel, and automatically finds the best combinations to address your goals.
  • Exceptable rates

Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 12.03.57 PMMonetate: 

Based on Best Vendor, “Monetate is a provider of testing, targeting, and personalization solutions for websites. The company’s cloud-based platform empowers marketers to easily test and target product offers and site features then convert successful tests into personalized messaging and promotional campaigns, instantly, anywhere on the website.”

Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 1.23.01 PM

Features:(info gathered from their website)

  • A single system that collects, organizes, and analyzes data—and then acts on it.
  • Instant: real-time insights require real-time responses. Measured in milliseconds.
  • Consistent: delivers consistent customer experiences across every touchpoint.
  • Relevant: Take action that is informed by deep knowledge of every customer.
  • Replace, move, overlay creatives
  • Difficult to read reporting interface and only allows five custom metrics per campaign.

To understand the main differences between the two engines,Optimizely & Monetate, there is a great comparison chart in the following link:  http://vschart.com/compare/monetate/vs/optimizely 

Similarities between the both:

  1. Allow integration with other systems
  2. They grow your business
  3. Increasing the marketing effectiveness
  4. Optimise conversion rates
  5. Multi-channel personslization
  6. Enable companies to know their customers better
  7. Personalise customers experience:
    1. Who should see the experience
    2. What should it be
    3. Where should it run
    4. Why is it running
  8. Target customer segments and optimise what customers see
  9. Modify, insert custom codes
  10. Mash-ups evolving custom data sources
  11. Enhance the internal search navigation (are customers finding what they are looking for? look at the %Search Exit)
  12. Recommendations: recommend the right oviduct to the right visitor
  13. A,B & Multi-variate testing for marketing decisions
  14. Performance analytics
  15. Segments discovery