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Monthly Archives: December 2011

  • The 12 Days of Christmas - Ecommerce Style

    12 Days of Magento Ecommerce Christmas

    Some of these tips are common sense, some will last longer than UK snow but are all as important to ensure you have the best trading time in December and  keep this going through out next year so you are constantly improving.  So here it goes - On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me, A Partridge in a pear tree! A little birdy told me that someone somewhere is talking about your brand. Even if you are a small retailer trading online you should really be engaging with your customers or if you haven'­t took the big step into social media you still need to be listening. I would recommend a couple of ways to make sure your never left as red faced as rudolf. 1.Create a google alert. Creating a google alert is simple. Go into your google account (if you havenít got one I do have to ask why  they are ace!) but go to, my account and create an account. Next click on My account  and look out for products or Try something new­, failing that try the nonfail way of googling 'google alerts'­ and sign in with your id. Once in all you need to do is click ,Create alert­ then type in your search terms (in this case your brand or store name) and select how often you would like it to be delivered and by what method. For quickness I would recommend setting it to once per day and select everything­ and select it to email the next day if someone has mentioned your brand or store name across the data that Google indexes (which is most) you will be able to quickly see it and manage any situations. Next, do it for your URL so you are notified when anybody is putting your link out there. 2.Create a saved search on twitter. To do this simply, log into or create an account and perform a search on your brand or store name and then hit the ëSave this searchí button and perhaps once a day check the search. There are far more comprehensive tools out there but for now the web interface will do. 3.Check Facebook Walls. If you have a facebook business page make sure you regularly check it in case people are leaving things on your wall about current order problems or asking questions about their intended purchase ñ they may have even wrote something on your wall about poor customer service. Going to the nth degree ñ do a quick search on facebook in case someone has created a mass hate group for your brand (unlikely but worth a second of your time). 4.Final Advice. If at all possible ñ try and take the problem offline or make a big deal about solving the problem online to avoid a hairy pr disaster or if people have left negative reviews on sites either take the criticism and learn, respond on the site or get in touch with the web master and request for it to be removed (nicely) and give them a brief explanation of why you would like it removed. Hopefully that will allow you to make the most of the lead up to Christmas with a view to carrying these best practices on throughout the year.

    On the second day of Christmas my true love sent to me, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.

    I'm not talking wholesale changes here but if you can spot some opportunities like your budget runs out before the end of the day try upping it for the run up to Christmas,†if you donít capture buyersÖyour competitors will. Could doubling your budget bring you double the customers? Check with your PPC manager or if you self manage just have a double check for things like -Detailed reports of when your campaign runs. Are you missing out on clicks at certain times of the day. To do this go into your Adwords account ñ click into the ad group you want to check on. On the tool bar there is a button to download, click on this and it will give you the option to build your report using segments ñ choose ëHour of the dayí and then hit the download button. You will then be able to view the impressions your ad group made and at what point on the 24 hour clock ñ this is a quick and easy way to see if your ads are showing at both key times and the budget is lasting throughout the day. If itís not, Iíd suggest giving it a little boost and taking this into ëlessons learnedí for next year. Are the things you advertising actually in stock. At the moment everyone is looking for sledgesÖitís all very well getting 100 click throughís on this niche/ seasonal keyword but if you havenít got any in stock you are wasting your money bringing these customers to the site which will ultimately be eating up your budget. Remember ñ small incremental changes can have a†big impact on your success.

    On the third Day my true love sent to me....

    Testing Testing 1, 2, 3 french hens. For today'­s festive fun in the run up to making your best Ecommerce Christmas I am not saying go out and do some wholesale changes on your website but a little†heeded advice now can do wonders. A couple of things to test out; 1.  Can people add products to the basket? Go onto your site and add a few simple products on and perhaps some of the more complicated if you have them (such as customised or different sizes) and simply place them in the basket. 2. Check if all of the size options showing properly. If you sell things that come in different sizes and the correct stock is assigned to each product. Depending how you have your store set up ñ can you give accurate dates of when stock will return or offer them a reminder service when it is back in stock and invite them back to your store, after all youíve paid for them to come to your site in one way or another you want to have every chance of them becoming your customer. 3.  Can you complete the check out. Possibly the most important out of all of them ñ can a customer actually place and order and become your customer this Christmas. Either check this yourself or ask a friend who has little experience of your site (you can often become blinded by your own site) and see if you receive this order. Itíll put your mind at rest. 4. Does your contact form work. Last but not least ñ make sure your contact form works for any customer queries and if possible give them a time frame of when you are likely to get in touch. The last thing you want to do is getting visitors but not converting them to customers ñ just try putting an order through and see if it gets through. You donít want to be missing out on sales because of a fault.

    On the fourth day of Christmas my true love sent to me†Four Calling birds

    So you might be getting a little bit bored with my paper thin link ups between the 12 days of Christmas and the 12 days of Christmas for ecommerce store owners. Todayís tip relates to calling birds (thinly) and more specifically if your customers are calling are they able to get through? Perhaps you have a couple of peak seasons in the year where you get a very large volume of calls and struggle to process the calls never mind the actual orders? I would suggest a few things to combat this; 1. An excellent customer services area. Make sure you have prominent links to this so that they know key information such as delivery, returns, after sales service and anything else you can think of that relates to them proceeding with their order. 2. Clear timings on emails. If people place orders make sure you set clear and realistic timings on your confirmation email as to when their order is likely to be delivered. If this is a personalised gift that can take a few extra days ñ can you send the rest of the order first? Take a leaf out of amazonís book( pun intended!) and offer single or grouped delivery - this can take a load off people calling you. 3. A detailed frequently asked questions section. Answer as many questions about products if you can. A good way to build your FAQ is note down questions you get throughout the year ñ if the question is asked more than two or three times it can be added to the website FAQ which could just lead to some efficiency in your operation... again throughout the year. 4. And if they still would like to call you. An overflow number that will catch calls. People either want to know something before they order and wont place it until they know or some people just want reassurance that there is a human behind the store and want to talk to someone, often about something trivial, but again they wonít place an order until they do and to† add to this fact that there is nothing worse when wanting to place an order to have to either wait in a queue or get the engaged tone for long periods of time. Your potential customers will simply give up and go to your competitor...we live in an impatient world...

    On the fifth day of Christmas my true love sent to me...5 Gold Rings!

    Analytics is pure gold.†Here are my 5 gold rings for your bumper ecommerce Christmas. 1. Organic visits ñ How many visitors arrived via search engines? Which Search Engines? What keywords have visitors been arriving by? Another great one to monitor which means you will be able to see if all of your hard work has paid off throughout the year but can you spot any opportunities of keywords people are using to find your site and you do not currently stock these products ñ could you easily diversify? These opportunities are there to be found and taken advantage of. 2. The bounce rate ñ another big one. Are people arriving at your site and taking an instant dislike to it? If so you need to find out why this is happening and put in short term fixes. 3. Conversion ñ How many people come to your site and those come to your site and actually convert into a customer? How many are bailing out half way through. Are there any quick fixes that can be made or extra advice you can add to your site. These refer back to the 3rd day with testing and perhaps these visitors want to proceed but canít ñ make sure you check this out. You may even have them set up as Goals. Check your funnel visualisation ñ similar to the conversion but you may have multiple goals set up ñ check these out to make sure your site is as profitable as can be. 4. Go in and see who is viewing on mobile. With mobile you should do it really well or not do it at all. Has your site got a custom mobile offering but doesnít actually work that well? You will be able to see what experiences your potential customers are having in this handy section in analytics ñ just go to Visitors ñ Mobile and delve into the rich information. 5. Possibly the most profitable is checking your top content. Is the top content something that is actually out of stock! Eek your potential customers have arrived and you cannot give them what they want.

    On the sixth day of Christmas my true love sent to me...Six Geese a Laying

    A golden egg if you havenít already got it set up. May have more impact on next Christmas but if you have a niche product it could work this year... shopping feeds. What I am specifically talking about is a Google merchant shopping feed. There are two ways to get your products into Googleís shopping feeds. The first is automatically through a scheduled task...but if you havenít got time to consult your web people or do it yourself then perhaps the second option would provide a short term fix ñ Manual upload. If you use manual upload it will stay fresh for 30 days ñ which means youíll have a free presence on Google shopping (that often come up in the mixed search results pages) all through December and in particular the run up to Christmas and in between Christmas and new year where people will be sick of family time and ready to shop online!

    On the seventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me - Seven Swans a swimming!

    How big is Mcommerce going to be? Iíve seen some facts lately about the impact of shopping online with Mobile and one of them is that 3 in ten British people will be doing their Christmas shopping on their mobile devices. Perhaps they are in a shop and want to compare the best deal ñif they canít access your site easily on their mobiles could you be potentially missing out on a huge source of Christmas revenue. We think mobile ecommerce is going to be huge and have already offering it as part of a standard ecommerce set up so that you can compete online with the heavy weights but without the need for the heavy weight budget. How does a mCommerce store work? A mCommerce store is similar to your main store. It runs from the same database so any orders processed will come to you in the same way as they do now in your order management system. The difference with a mCommerce store is that it is simplified to take into account the lower screen resolution on most mobile smart phones. The visitor still gets the same information but without any clutter making it perfect for checking details on the move or purchasing their shopping on the move.

    On the eighth day of Christmas my true love sent to me 8 maids a milking...

    Not one to keep these things to ourselves but in terms of time and return on investment we think Email is the daddy. Here's how you can milk it... Do you have a list of email contacts? An email list of clients past and present? Prospects that once showed interest in you but have never converted? If you could keep in touch with the people on these lists then you are very likely to generate more interest in what you have to offer. The best thing about email marketing is that it is available to people in all markets and within all budgets. With an account such as Mailchimp, you can set up an account (and link it into Magento) and send 500 emails per month for NADA...making it in the reach of all serious businesses. With this you could send up to 1000 emails ñ Could you market to 500 people using any other means for less money than that? Once you start realising the cost effectiveness of email marketing it starts to open up doors. Not only is it inexpensive, it is also measurable and should provide you with plenty of information about your customers as well as driving some immediate sales. People may be thinking of buying your product and they get an email from on a link...and before you know it you made a sale.

    On the ninth day of Christmas my true love sent to me†9 Ladies Dancing!

    How to get all your customers dancing through the checkout... 1. Don'­t offer new promotions in your check out process. Imagine you go into your local gift shop to buy Aunty Mary a nice unique piece. You pick out a purse that you know she will love and hot foot it to the till, on your way a sales assistant stops you and asks if youíd like to see the range of new silk scarves theyíve got in, the range of earrings that are all beautifully handmade (that would me gone) ñ you get distracted and instead of waiting until you had committed to the sale theyíve lost you completely. Now Iím not saying that all of the readers are as flippant and have such a short attention span but you can apply this exact science online ñ offering a free or subsidised gift wrap service for spending over a†threshold†is much better to up sell in the checkout then offering new product lines. 2. Don't make your checkout process too long. A long checkout process is the equivalent to a queue in a shop. Sometimes it canít be helped if run a really busy shop with a set amount of tills but online you canít really blame those types of factors if you have properly planned your website. 3. Provide all the information they may need in easy access places (more on this to come in days 10 and 11.) There may be little or nothing you can do at this time of the year but if at all possible try and keep your checkout as closed as possible. Hope this helps plan out for next year and you are having a bumper ecommerce!

    On the tenth day of Christmas my true love sent to me†10 Lords a Leaping!

    Don't make your customers leap around...try and answer as many questions as possible in your returns policy, ideally cover the following things and you should overcome any objections to visitors not wanting to become your customer. 1. Answer the How - How do they return an item. Do they have to get a returns form? Do they have an address to send it back to and how long does it normally take to process a return. 2. Answer the Why - in what circumstances do you accept a return (distance selling & statutory rights.) 3. Answer the When - How long have they got to return an item? If they bought it do they have 7 days from date of purchase or are you taking into consideration people giving items as gifts 4. Answer about Personalisation - What sort of returns do you offer on personalised items ñ or if you donít unless its faulty spell it out. 5. Answer the What Price - Is there any penalties to returning an item, who pays for the return shipping and if they having an exchange who covers the secondary lot of shipping costs. 6. Answer the Who - Can the receiver of a gift return it or only the original purchaser (for processing refunds to payment cards via online payment gateways). All of these should help you have a bumper festive period or give you food for thought getting your store sorted in the new year.

    On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me eleven pipers piping!

    Pipe up about your shipping ñ inform your customers when the last days are and... 1. Make them visible, Clear and Prominent. If someone canít find your shipping costs, the chances of them proceeding to checkout is minimum. People will want to know before they start the checkout process so make sure when they are on the product page and heading towards the basket you make them available for people to see. This could be by having it displayed in the header of the page, or if you have room to the left or right, but if you donít you should always have a clear and visible link to a page about delivery information 2.  Spell out the dates that you are working to. There'­s nothing worse for a customer anxiously waiting for the postman wondering if their other half'­s Christmas present is going to turn up or if they are off to the late night garage to buy screen wash and flowers... itís not a good look on Christmas day. Find out from your couriers or if you use royal mail check their last dates and build some contingency into these or your customers ultimate lasting memory of you will be when they call up and explain their presents are not going to turn up for the big day. Put it prominent on your site and again on the order confirmation just so that everyoneís clear.


    On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love sent to me 12 drummers drumming and...

    Eleven pipers piping - which was all about Informing customers of delivery Ten lords a leaping -  which was all about having a very clear returns policy Nine ladies dancing -  was a few tips on how to how to avoid cart abandonment Eight maids a milking was advising on using email marketing, Seven swans a swimming was all about mcommerce & mobile commerce, Six geese a laying had some tips on using google base as your golden egg, Five Gold Rings! Was all about Google Analytics being worth its wight in Gold Four Calling birds was all about giving tips contact call and customer service management Three French Hens relating to testing your web store in the festive period, Two turtle doves was all about using Pay Per Click Campaign to drive sales ...and a Partridge in a pear tree€  was finally about social media & reputation management not just at Christmas but all year. Do all 12 throughout the year and your sure to drum up some business!




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