The Missing Link in Mobile Payments 

missing links in mobile payments

There are so many companies vying for space on the mobile payment court that, even at this early stage, the market is shaping up like a tin of sardines. Tech companies, social media services, payment providers, banks and retailers are battling to claim an early slice of the still-baking pie. However, even with this level of competition, there’s still one industry keeping quiet. And it may hold the ticket to mobile payments arriving in the mainstream.

Who Are the Major Players?
Paypal is set to split with eBay to concentrate on its own business, with offline and in store mobile payments being a big part of its future plans. Although PayPal is rivaling Amazon and Square from a B2B payment handling perspective, it’s also playing a role on the consumer side in encouraging shoppers to pay in store, on mobile, via PayPal.

Phone Manufacturers 
Apple released the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus with Apple Pay, which uses near field communication (NFC), coupled with its fingerprint scanning technology to trigger payments from credit card information stored in Passbook. NFC has featured on Android phones for some time, but it’s Apple’s knack for making things work that has the industry predicting its success.

Rivalling Apple Pay is Google Wallet, which also uses NFC, but has only been adopted by the small group of tech enthusiasts so far. However, the same can be said for all other mobile payment options, given the market’s infancy. 

Social Networks
Twitter announced this week that it has teamed up with the largest bank in France, Group BPCE, to launch mobile payment platform, S-Money. This trial will test the waters and, if all goes swimmingly, S-Money could cause a major upset to the likes of PayPal, Google Wallet and Apple Pay, given the vast user base of Twitter.

Joining the party, Facebook recently leaked photos of alleged mobile payment-enabled code that’s sparked rumors of its messaging app having the capability to transfer money.  

Payment Processors
Mastercard’s MasterPass and Visa’s Checkout are digital representations of customer credit cards and see the two payment middle-manning heavyweights also foray into the mobile payment space. 

Banks
There are also rumors of the banks introducing mobile payments via their apps, so that you could pay straight from your bank, direct to the retailer. This will bypass third party services such as PayPal or Apple Pay and potentially provide the most convenient, secure and trusted payment service on offer. 

The Missing Link
Each of the above companies has the potential to dominate the mobile payment market. But, there’s one industry that could disrupt this and it hasn’t yet reared its head.

Network Providers
I’m sure we’ve all used SMS messaging to donate to charities. You text an amount to a number and the cost is added to your cell phone bill at the end of the month. This is perhaps the most convenient method of payments for users and doesn’t require any other account or registration with a third party payment operator. 

What if you could pay in-store for high-ticket items in the same manner? Just text the retailer with the item number and the amount is added onto your phone bill.

The potential is certainly there for cell phone networks to overtake third party payment providers while the night is still young. After all, network operators already have a captive market, secured into contracts, with people that trust them and are familiar with the payment process.

Standardizing Payments
The difficulty in standardizing mobile payments will be immense and the competition inevitably strong. There won’t be room for everyone and we’ll likely see some fall by the wayside. As with any emerging industry, getting first to market may prove to be imperative. But one thing is for sure, cell phone operators could cause a major upset to these first movers, if they get a move on themselves.

Will mobile payments help your business? We’d love to get your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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Posted by Thursday, October 23, 2014 5:08:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C ecommerce online marketing web trends website security

How Online Chats Can Increase Your Sales 


customer support

Have you got a strategy for helping your customers when they get stuck on your website? For e-commerce, e-tailers and service providers that offer complex products, services and a variety of pricing options, users can struggle to find the right product for them. Through introducing online chat, you can help these customers in real time and increase your sales as a result. 

Even the best websites on the planet don’t convert all users because people have differing wants and needs and each user is at a different stage on the path to purchase. And we know that not all websites convert fantastically, so that’s why we have general enquiry phone lines, contact forms and customer service email addresses. 

The thing about the above methods of contact is that they drive people away from the site, they can be expensive for the company to handle and they don’t always result in sales.

Phone Calls
Phone calls are typically costly for the company, as having to staff, furnish and equip a call center will inevitably eat into your profits. This wouldn’t be as much of a problem if every call that came through led to a sale, but that’s not what happens in reality, especially on general inquiry lines. 

Emails
Emails break the user journey, disrupt momentum and cost a lot to handle. Go and visit Apple or Amazon right now and try to find a customer service email address. You’ll be just as likely to discover a cure for cancer or a reincarnated dodo. 

At first glance, emails appear to be a perfectly acceptable method of handling contact. At least with emails, you can respond to them at your own convenience. However, responding to emails is more costly than taking phone calls and the potential back and forth exchange as your staff attempt to capture everything they need in order to resolve the customer’s query can rack up the cost into the hundreds of dollars. Plus, by the time the potential customer receives a response to their query, they’re no longer on your website, they’re no longer in the mind state to purchase and they might even have already made the purchase from a competitor. 

Contact Forms
Contact forms are no different to emails. In fact, if you don’t have a CRM, there’s a pretty good chance that your contact forms generate emails! This doesn’t work for your company because it’s costly and it doesn’t work for or your customer because it takes too long to process. 

Introducing Online Chat
Online chat can tackle the pitfalls of all three of the above communication channels and increase sales while the customer is on your website Through introducing online chat, you can increase your customer service and sales through:

  • Explaining product features, terminology, pricing, delivery, returns policies and all other queries in real time
  • Recommending the perfect product according to specific customer needs
  • Directing customers to pages they can’t find or products they weren’t aware of

And, it’s good for the business because:

  • It’s more efficient - chat operatives can chat to 3-4 customers at a time
  • It’s cheaper – no need for heavily staffed call centers or staff spending hours exchanging emails
  • It’s quicker – if you can answer the customer’s query as and when they crop up, you can increase the chances of making a sale through keeping the user on your website and helping them along their journey while they have the intent to buy 

Online Chat Providers
There are a variety of online chat providers including:

  • LivePerson 
  • Comm100
  • BoldChat
  • Kayako Fusion
  • LiveHelpNow
  • Website Alive
  • Velaro

If you’re having any trouble implementing your online chat solution or if you want this feature built into your new website, get in touch with us today and we’ll be happy to help.

 

 

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Posted by Monday, October 20, 2014 10:58:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C ecommerce inbound marketing online marketing sales SMB web trends

How a Cross-Device User Experience Can Increase Sales 


cross-device user experience

Your customers expect your website to function perfectly, no matter what device they’re using. They aren’t all developers or digital marketers and they don’t care about the technical issues you have, they just want to do what they came to your website to do and get on with their lives.

In order to best serve your customers and increase your sales, you should design device-specific websites that embrace and utilize your customer’s device-specific mind state and usage habits. This can sometimes be achieved through responsive design, but in order to truly reap the rewards of a seamless cross-device user experience, you should consider designing a unique site for each device.

So what kind of mood are your customers in when they use desktop, mobile and tablets and how can you optimize your website for each device accordingly?

Desktop Design

81% of Americans own a PC and use them for accessing social media more than on any other device. Therefore, integrating social into your desktop site is crucial in building your relationship with potential customers. Try the following:

  • Embed your Twitter feed. This will bring people closer to your brand by showcasing your activity and increasing engagement.
  • Include your Facebook page like counter. People tend to go with the flow, so showing your Facebook page with many likes and lots of engagement makes users feel comfortable on your site and can increase trust.
  • Include social share buttons on products, articles and pages. Show that you’re truly immersed in the social space and allow users to share the product they’re looking at on their social networks. This helps your social media presence and ultimately drives traffic back to your site.
  • Include Follow, Like, Plus One icons in your header or footer. Make it as easy as possible for your user to interact and follow you on your social channels from your website. 

If you make your desktop website the central hub of social activity, linking both to and from social channels, you’ll be able to better serve the PC user and stimulate the engagement and trust required to convert them.

Move with Mobile  

For the first time, mobile internet usage has surpassed PC usage in America, so mobile is certainly where it’s at. With 76% of smartphone owners using their device to check a store’s location and 66% having used their device to check product prices, mobile optimization is unavoidable for etailers and retailers. Mobile browsers want action. They’re looking for results and expect things to happen quickly. For clicks and mortar businesses and etailers, try the following: 

Mobile users demand more, and quickly. By making your mobile site simple to use and taking advantage of urgency, you’ll give yourself the best chance of making conversions and attracting return users. 

Tactile Tablets 

66% of Americans use their tablets to generally surf the web whilst watching TV, with 65% and 55% of people using them for research and review-reading respectively. With more people making a purchase of a physical product or service on tablets than on mobile and with tablets being more popular on a weekend, there’s some unique opportunities to increase sales through including the following on your tablet site: 

  • Make it rich. People have time on tablets, so give them an engaging experience. Use videos, tutorials, images (and plenty of them), advanced product descriptions, reviews and blogs. All of which will increase the time spent on site and take your user closer to converting.
  • Easy checkout. Lots of people convert on tablets, so make sure your checkout is seamless, straightforward and convenient. 
  • Tablet only offers. Try exclusive weekend deals for tablet shoppers who are more active over the weekend.

On your tablet site, it’s all about engagement. Keeping user on your site through providing plenty of information and entertainment will ultimately lead to higher time spent on site, increased trust and sales.

The Future
Having three separate websites inevitably means more work. Many businesses wouldn’t recommend it, as most companies are searching for ways to join up these experiences, rather than fragmenting them. However, there’s no foolproof way of optimizing for device-specific needs until you offer separate, device-specific sites built with these needs at the core. 

Over the coming years, having a separate mobile, tablet and desktop website will be like having a separate ordering, returns and complaints phone number, and you can get well ahead of the game by starting now. Contact us today and let’s talk about how we can serve your customer’s device-specific needs.

 

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Posted by Monday, October 20, 2014 6:27:00 PM Categories: B2C ecommerce online marketing responsive design retail marketing SMB web design web trends

How to Increase Your eCommerce Sales With Social Logins 

Hands up all those who love filling out long registration forms, verifying email addresses, entering credit card information and creating yet another password, just so that you can order something online? 

Anyone? 

No? 

I didn’t think so. And guess what, neither do your customers! So why put them through it? 

There are many barriers that exist in the ecommerce sphere that cause people to abandon their shopping carts and head for the exit cross in their browsers. Among the big hitters: forcing customers to register to your site before checking out.

One way to tackle this is to introduce a Guest checkout facility, which we wrote about previously. Another way to sidestep this hurdle and reduce shopping cart abandonment rates is to offer the facility for your users to log in via their social network of choice. 

Introducing Social Logins
You’ve probably seen this before when you’re shopping online where, instead of having to actually register to a site, you can sign in using Twitter, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and the like.

ecommerce with social logins
So how can something as simple as allowing users to log into your site through the use of their social media credentials lead to an actual increase in sales?

Convenience 
54% of those who currently log in through social logins online do so to avoid registration forms and 58% (which must include some of the same people otherwise these stats don’t make any sense!) do so to prevent having to create yet another username and password. With 50% of consumers being unable to complete a transaction at some point due to forgetting their password, why should we put people through this torture when they would, quite clearly, rather not? 

Through using social logins, users can log in using a username and password that they know and are familiar with, making it easier, safer and far more convenient. 

Trust
Chances are, users trust their social networks more than they trust you. They use their social networking site/s of choice daily and are more familiar with those brands than some of their family members. They’ll be more comfortable signing into websites with their social logins so take advantage of this trust in order to increase the trust levels with your brand. 

Account verification

Having to verify a registration via email breaks the user journey. Even just waiting for the email to come through can be enough to put users off, get distracted and abandon. By using social logins, we can remove the email verification step because the email has already been verified by the social network. This means we can streamline the user journey, remove obstacles and reduce the opportunities to abandon. 

Personalization
Through using social logins, you can access potential customer’s social information such as interests, activities and friends, and use this to improve and personalize the shopping experience

If you can personalize your offering, you’ll increase your sales. It’s as simple as that. Personalized services mean relevant services and relevance is all your users care about. 

Integration
When you design and build your website with Fast Track, we can integrate social login into your website or ecommerce store and help you increase your sales and conversions. Get in touch with us today and we’ll be happy to help.

 

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Posted by Monday, October 13, 2014 4:14:00 AM Categories: B2C ecommerce online marketing SMB social media web trends

Why Your eCommerce Site Search Is Losing You Sales and How to Fix It 

fixing ecommerce site search

Customers are accustomed to online searching and expect to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily, especially when it comes to shopping. If customers can’t find a product on your website, they’ll search elsewhere and you may loose them forever. Therefore, having an intuitive and functional on-site search facility is imperative for ecommerce websites. However, according to a recent study by the Baymard Institute1, not many businesses are meeting customer expectations when it comes to on-site searching. So how can you improve your on-site search facility and reign in some of those lost sales?

How to Fix On-Site Search

The Baymard report found that the design of the search interface was almost as important as the search algorithm itself1. So putting efforts into the design of the search bar, the suggested search options and search results pages could see you capture lost leads without a great deal of effort.

Search Bar Design

The intuitive design of the search bar itself can help maintain a smooth user journey and allow users to progress without friction. In order to get the best out of your search bar, you can try a few things, including:

  1. Place it in a prominent position. Ideally, the search bar will be in the head2 of the site, so that it’s consistent and visible from every page3.  This makes it easier to find, as most people are accustomed to the search box being in the top-right corner.
  2. Use a different color scheme4. Making the search bar a contrasting color to the rest of your site will help it stand out and make it easier to find. This will help customers who know what they want and just want to find it quickly.
  3. Make it obvious that it’s a search box. This will help make the search facility accessible and easier to use for casual or less frequent users. You can make the search box more obvious by:
  • Including search suggestions, such as ‘enter product name’ or ‘search for a product, catalog no. or keyword’ in the search field3
  • Labeling the search button ‘Search’, as opposed to ‘Go’ or using the magnifying glass icon

Autocomplete

Using Autocomplete in the search field helps users by:

  • Correcting difficult spelling
  • Saving user effort
  • Speeding up the search

This will help create a seamless user journey and shepherd users on their way smoothly.

Plus, you can use your website analytics to make your Autocomplete suggestions more relevant. Simply to track your on-site searches to learn what users are genuinely searching for, then tailor your suggestions to more closely align with popular products and search terms5.

Search Results Page

The search results page can be the difference between helping users progress with their journey and reviewing their search term. There are a few techniques we can use in order to allow users to find what they’re looking for without having to revise their search or try an alternative method, such as:

  1. Using imagery. Showing product images in your search results will help users find what they’re looking for at a glance. And if they can’t find what they’re looking for, then, if they can see your product offering, they’ll have more chance of being enticed by something similar.
  2. Showing social proof6. Including reviews and customer ratings on the items listed in the search results will help users find popular items. Even if your search algorithm isn’t perfect and your results aren’t perfectly matched, you can still help the customer on their journey by dangling a carrot.
  3. Including filters. If your site has masses of content, help users narrow things down post-search, by offering filtering options at the top or the side of the search results. For example, if you’re a retailer and a user searches for ‘smart shoes’, you can help them narrow this search down by offering filtering options such as ‘male or female’, ‘brand [list brands]', 'size [list sizes]’, ‘review ratings' and 'price range’.
  4. Creating a sense of urgency. This can encourage users to intuitively click the closest match from the first list of search results. Amazon uses “order in the next 4 minutes for free delivery”, some airlines use “only 2 seats available at this price” and some hotel booking websites use “22 people looking at this room right now” or “only 1 room left”.

Close the Gap

There may still be some work to do from a backend perspective, in order to display perfectly matched search results. In the meantime, start closing the gap by swaying potential deserters, boosting sales and edging in front of the rest of the ecommerce industry with these tips.

References

1 http://baymard.com/blog/ecommerce-search-report-and-benchmark

2 http://webdesign.about.com/od/beginningtutorials/a/head_web_pages.htm

3 https://econsultancy.com/blog/10407-site-search-for-e-commerce-13-best-practice-tips#i.1dmo0e51c5tdtp

4 https://blog.kissmetrics.com/ecommerce-website-search/

5 http://www.shopify.co.uk/blog/14042629-7-simple-tips-for-improving-ecommerce-site-search

6 https://econsultancy.com/blog/64704-25-effective-design-patterns-for-ecommerce-site-search-results#i.baka8urntfbhpb  

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Posted by Tuesday, September 16, 2014 12:34:00 AM Categories: ecommerce retail marketing