Category Archives: customer experience

Etsy & Kite

How Etsy & Kite Add Social Right Into UX

By | apps, customer experience, digital commerce, digital marketing, ecommerce, interactive marketing, social media | No Comments

Social media marketing is more essential than ever in the growing world of digital marketing. As Small Business Trends reported last year, 7 out of 10 consumers prefer a business with a social media presence, which is why companies are continually trying to find new ways to engage in conversation with their audience.

The recent trend is to integrate social platforms and campaigns right into their services, helping them boost engagement and retention in one fell swoop. Instead of trying to come up with the next hit innovation in the field, these two companies are applying the tried-and-tested techniques that consumers love on other platforms, right into their own service for more effective UX.

Etsy Makes eCommerce Social with Crowdfunding ‘Fund’

Fund on Etsy. Credit: Etsy Inc.

Fund on Etsy. Credit: Etsy Inc.

The company that prides itself in connecting creative entrepreneurs with their target customers is expanding into the profitable and viral sensation world of crowdfunding. Taking the idea behind Kickstarter, Etsy hopes that their Fund service will  ““help…sellers [continue to] grow their businesses and create new products. By funding a campaign, buyers can participate in a new product’s journey from initial concept to their front door, while forging even more meaningful relationships with Etsy sellers they care about.”

It’s a genius natural integration that puts the creative marketing aspect right into the eCommerce marketplace, ensuring a full-service venue for their crafty user demographic to reach their strategic goals in the financing and development process. Right now, Fund is in it’s Pilot Program with limited sellers, but if users respond well Etsy hopes to roll out the service to all sellers soon.

Kite is Differentiating Themselves from the Competition Through Integrated Social Marketing

Kite Interface. Credit: Fast Company

Kite Interface. Credit: Fast Company

In the past month, there has been a slew of announcements about new News apps and platforms: from Apple News to Facebook Instant Articles, and the newly announced BuzzFeed News. Among those is Kite, but the difference between this app and the rest is that Kite plans to change the game of searching for reading material by disguising its full service browser-centric service into a standalone social network similar to that of Instagram.

Instead of using algorithms or having users navigate through an infinite amount of search results, the service plans to embrace both types of effective search curation used by other platforms, “social is one and the other is journalistic curation,” Users can follow trusted friends and personalities for easily-digestible reading suggestions from people with similar tastes and opinions they actually care about. It’s the equivalent of getting music recommendations from your credible friend who knows what they’re talking about. The best thing–the app will not redirect you to read in Safari:  it’s a specific browser designed with user-accessibility in mind, focusing on a minimal look that showcases the actual multimedia content right in app because we all know content is king nowadays. They hope to become their users’ primary browser, by focusing on the interactive social marketing approach in selling their service.

Need help integrating your social media platforms into your marketing strategy? Digital Operative can help you come up with the best method to ignite conversation with your audience. Contact our Marketing Team today.

Black Friday & Cyber Monday were a huge online success….but, some websites Crashed the party

By | customer experience, digital marketing, ecommerce, Uncategorized, user experience | No Comments

Black Friday and Cyber Monday was insane this year – The shopping season started a little bit earlier with stores opening on Thanksgiving. I am a serious Black Friday shopper, all the women in my family start planning our strategy of execution on Thanksgiving. We start shopping the deals once they are available. Meaning, I started my shopping on Wednesday night at 9pm PST. So between myself and many of my family members we contributed to the 17% increase in online sales for Black Friday. And I personally contributed to the Cyber Monday record breaking sales. Although I did have a relatively successful shopping weekend, not all consumers can agree. Some websites did not hold up to the challenge of the increase in traffic and influx in sales that were estimated. Here are a few that were a buzz kill:

Urban Outfitters

By far the biggest tragedy of Cyber Monday. Site was completely down for most of the day – so much that they had to have a Cyber Tuesday to hopefully generate some sales. I will say the Marketing behind it was genius – they owned it and even created a microsite that mocked themselves and admitted the “Broken Internet.”

Amazon

During the last hour of Cyber Monday many people were complaining of their website going down. Those are some last minute sales that Amazon might have lost.

Sephora

Well, it wasn’t down technically…but, they sure did have a waiting room – you had to wait in line to get to shop. You had to wait for up to 15 minutes to shop the Black Friday deals. Some may say this isn’t a big deal – but, who wants to wait in a waiting line to shop on the internet?! Isn’t that one of the perks to doing your shopping online – no lines and no hassles?!

Wal-Mart

Enough Said. I am sure many of us heard about the issues Wal-Mart was having. They had a new deal guaranteed in stock for that hour. You want it, you’ve got it……well kind of. Many people were complaining of not getting the deals promised because the site was so flooded with traffic that they couldn’t check out, or they couldn’t access the site at all the deals being promised you would think the site would have been prepared for all the traffic. But, don’t worry they apologized via twitter

Motorola

Had a big snafu on Cyber Monday. Their site went down and not only had to reschedule one make up shopping day, but TWO! So, they extended their sale through Tuesday and even added Monday, December 9. They acknowledged via Twitter that they had encountered a problem:

The sales were up for mobile ecommerce sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday – But, I don’t feel the “unexpected amount of traffic” excuse is a valid one. We all know that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are going to be some of the busiest shopping days of the year. Yes, sometimes things happen and there is an unexpected error….but, I’m hoping that these websites learn and don’t become repeat offenders next year! I love shopping and love a seamless shopping experience. With record breaking numbers coming in this year for Cyber Monday, $2.2 billion in revenue – let’s hope these retailers can pull it together for the “unexpected influx in traffic” next year!

Round up:

  • 17% increase in online sales for Black Friday
  • $57.4 billion was spent in total over the weekend
  • Cyber Monday $2.2 billion in revenue
  • $602 billion will be spent before January
  • Fashion websites saw a 25% increase over the weekend
  • Tablet revenue was up by 122% on Cyber Monday
  • Holiday sales will grow by 3.9% in 2013

5 eCommerce tips for having a successful Holiday season

By | customer experience, digital marketing, ecommerce, Uncategorized, user experience | One Comment

When eCommerce websites and holiday shopping come together – you have one of the most successful shopping weekends of the year. Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday your eCommerce website might experience a growth in sales this year like never before. Last week we put together a list of the Mistakes eCommerce managers can make during the holidays. This week we wanted to give 5 tips to help eCommerce managers have a successful holiday season.

1). Customizing your store – It’s Christmas!

With 41% of spending being done online this holiday weekend, make sure your eCommerce website is ready for the holiday season. You can increase you SEO just from a holiday themed homepage. Change up your homepage and add some content for the items that are going to be on sale. If you are having a huge Cyber Monday sale – change your titles to include the phrase “Cyber Monday Sale”. You will have a better chance of optimizing your SEO for the holiday season if your eCommerce website reflects what you are promoting. I am not saying to add Christmas trees or lights – but, changing the theme to Winter and changing some colors can make a world of difference to your holiday shoppers…..Get in the season, don’t be a Scrooge.

2). Utilize PPC – big risks will lead to big rewards

Do you have PPC set up for the Holiday season? I know PPC is a scary thing – you may think you are spending extra money that may be wasted. But, the only way to succeed is by taking risks – Big Risks reap big rewards. Spend the time to place Cyber Monday ads in your PPC campaigns, offer special deals through your PPC. Paid search sales were up 29% last year and it’s only going to continue to rise, since digital is making moves like we’ve never seen. Holiday keywords are very competitive and expensive to bid on – but, manage your budget and just know that one conversion can lead to a customer for a lifetime.

3). Embrace the Christmas/Holiday spirit – communication and context are key

Regardless of how you feel about Christmas, you can’t hide from it. It’s happening on December 25th at any rate – so you might as well embrace it. Change your eCommerce website to reflect the holidays and make sure you are blogging about it. Theme a couple of your posts to reflect the upcoming holiday season and how you are giving back or even giving away something free just because it is the holidays. If you host your own toy drive and volunteer at a food kitchen. Blog about it,  tweet it and even send it to Facebook. 84% of consumers will tell friends and family about eCommerce websites that are big on corporate social responsibility.

4). Be honest or clear with pricing, shipping and payment method

There is nothing worse than spending tons of time shopping for the perfect gift…only to find out the perfect gift really isn’t 20% off and shipping is only free if you spend over $175. Damn the small print at the bottom of the page.
Be clear and concise from the customers first click. It’s all about customer retention and by being misleading about free shipping and the price of the item, is not a way to keep customers coming back. If you are direct and save your customers time by answering all the shipping and pricing questions out front – you might have won them over for life. Plus, they might tell others how seamless their shopping experience was, you might gain customers by word of mouth.

5). Get Mobile Now

2 words – RESPONSIVE WEBSITE! This makes it easy for customers to view your website on their mobile device. Did you know 30% of shoppers are anticipated to shop online and more than half will make their shopping purchases via mobile, that’s $41.68 billion dollars…yes, BILLION in mobile sales. You can’t risk an outdated website that takes forever to navigate through. Well, you can….but, don’t expect to make many lifelong customers. People expect to be able to make moves and purchase an item at the drop of a hat – at dinner, at the park, and at work. Since there are fewer shopping days more people will be using their mobiles phones to shop.

At Digital Operative we know SEO, PPC, Web design, UX, strategy, web development and more. We know that the holiday season is very important to eCommerce managers and hope that our list of the top 5 helpful tips can help build better experiences for eCommerce websites and their customers.

5 costly mistakes eCommerce managers can make during the Holiday Season

By | customer experience, Digital Operative, ecommerce, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

This holiday shopping season is going to be the shortest it’s ever been since 2002. Sales are expected to increase this year 3.9% to be well over $600 billion.

With Holiday retailing accounting for anywhere from 20-40% of annual sales, it is important for eCommerce sites to do everything they can to maintain sales and gain consumers. But, every holiday season there are eCommerce managers that make the same mistakes which costs them sales and more importantly a successful holiday season. Here is a list of 5 mistakes some eCommerce managers make during the busiest time of the year.

1). Not collecting data for after the holiday season

You need to think about planning for after the holidays – So you need to keep communication open with consumers who visit your site during the holiday season. Set up mailing lists for your consumers to register for. Offering special deals and promotions to be mailed to them throughout the year. Use the resources you have during the holidays to set yourself up nicely for the new year.  It is important to remember that over 50% of consumers who sign up for mailing lists will be back to use special promo codes.

2). Not being prepared for the influx of traffic

“Tis the Season” – Which means the shopping insanity is among us. Be prepared for an overload of consumers. This year is the shortest shopping season in years which means the 3.9% increase in sales is going to come at a more rapid rate. BE PREPARED! Make sure your platform has the capability to handle all of the potential traffic you may get. Do Research and set yourself up for the worst possible thing to happen. Use companies like Peer1 to help you with an influx of traffic. And Order Monitor, to make sure you are tracking your sales during the Holidays – it is a busy time of year and things can go unnoticed, so receive daily summary emails and monitor your promotions.

3).  Not having a plan for abandoned shopping carts

Know that 9 out of 10 shopping carts will be abandoned during the holidays which is why you need to plan for re-targeting  If you don’t get their email at any point, you can use re-targeted ads. Be strategic with your messaging, you want to convince the visitor to come back and complete the transaction. Make sure you don’t continue serving the same ads over and over. Serve up a few different ads and make sure your ads are converting and make sure you get rid of the ones that aren’t.

4). Not answering the right questions on product descriptions

During the holidays no one wants to have to search a website for what is included with the product or what it is made from. You want to make your consumers feel like they can have a quick and seamless shopping experience. “Time is money” is a valuable slogan during the holidays. If you don’t offer the consumer the information they are looking for, consider that consumer as good as gone. Also make sure your consumers can leave reviews on each product – On average reviews increase sales by about 18%. Reviews will produce product and site credibility.

5). Not offering different Gift options with all the info

Always, always, always use the power of suggestion. Offer outfit options – when a consumer is looking at a shirt, target them with a scarf or pair of jeans that other people have also viewed. Also, a great way to make your eCommerce store a one-stop-shop, is to offer gift wrapping and packaging. So it can be mailed directly to the recipient. Save the consumer the extra step and gain a happy customer. You can also offer a “gift finder” – let the customer search by a specific target audience and find gift ideas that might be suitable for him/her.

Christmas is in T-minus 33 days! Are you ready?! Contact us at Digital Operative and we can help you get ready for all your holiday needs!

Connection, then Clicks

By | customer experience, digital marketing | No Comments

The obsessed with and coveted consumer “click” is not the main objective, it is the result. For digital marketers, this is a provocative and unnerving statement. Bear with me. Any “click”, or behavior of the digital consumer, is the effect of the primary objective; to build a digital experience that creates an emotional connection with consumers and therefore a long-term relationship. When consumers like something or buy it, they may backwards rationalize a logical reason for their actions, but their motivations are emotional. Focusing on their behavior with Pavlovian enthusiasm is not as effective as creating the emotional motivation for the behavior. When a company has created an emotional connection with its customers, the click is a forgone conclusion.

The phrase “emotional connection” in marketing holds with it a connotation of fluffy, heartwarming platitudes that are no longer relevant or effective for consumers who have become cynical and indifferent, after marketers have been wallpapering their lives with it for decades. This is why when I refer to an “emotional connection” I don’t intend to illicit this connotation, but rather I’m referring to any emotion- excitement, understanding, interest- that connects us. I’m not referring to patronizing “emotional” ads but rather an emotional connection with consumers based on differentiated similar core values. When a company stands for something consumers connect with, and they show that consistently through every medium and in every message, they can develop a meaningful relationship with consumers creating a loyal, even cult-like, consumer following. This connection, I argue, is even more imperative within digital, a medium that too often holds a paradox of connecting people together in a distant manner. We are now connected with more of our consumers, in more ways, and faster than ever before, and yet this medium holds within it a detached sort of synthetic connection. This is why it is necessary to alter this illusion of virtual detachment by allowing consumers to become connected to our clients in an authentic way. We’re not just marketing a product, but a differentiated message through a digital experience and a real, not just virtual, connection.

Every part of the marketing mix is shown all at once to the digital consumer; it is not disjointed, separately consumed information. All company related information and content can be consumed in seconds and it all affects the consumers’ emotional connection to the company, and therefore their motivation to buy. This is why it is vital for digital marketers to express a consistent authentic marketing message through multiple channels, and around that message, create a digital experience. Maintaining this unconscious emotional connection, by creating a consistent digital experience through every aspect of your digital presence, is imperative to develop long-term relationships with consumers. These relationships will not only increase ROI and the value of one’s brand equity, but will also drive lasting, long-term results. And many, many clicks.

Need an example of the type of digital experiences and the emotional connections I’m referring to? Take a look at Digital Operative’s work. In the few months I’ve interned at this company I’ve found more examples of this differentiated digital marketing that drives digital consumers’ behavior, than anywhere else. And while this blog entry briefly explains the strategy, if you want to know how to actually DO this, you’re just going to have to work with DO.

Victoria is DO’s current marketing intern.

iOS 6 & The iPhone 5 Will Change The Future Of Mobile Advertising

By | customer experience, mobile marketing | One Comment



Whether you're a gadget junky like me, or just due for a new phone, chances are you've read about the new iPhone 5. While many blogs have been debating form over features, one topic that has been scantly discussed is how the new iPhone 5 and iOS 6 is going to change the future of mobile advertising. For the sake of brevity, I won't list all of the features you'll find in the new operating system, however I will highlight the improvements that are going to change the mobile advertising ecosystem for publishers and consumers.

Let's start with the obvious...

(1) More Space Means More Ad Real Estate

App developers are so desperate to monetize their applications many of them have been cramming an ad unit down our throats even when it's an impediment to the content. With an extra 1/2 inch of screen real estate in the new iPhone 5, this means developers don't need to lay the ad over the content, instead there's a new found space for the mobile ad unit that's less annoying than it's predecessor.

Not only will developers welcome the space within their applications, search engines like Google and Bing will probably take advantage of this extra room as well. We've seen paid ads dominate the search results on desktops in Google for a while now. First it started as sidebar ads - then one, and then 2 - now a substantial part of the screen above the fold is dedicated to ads.

“Bigger screen translates to more real estate available for ads, making mobile ads more likely,” says Michael Pachter, managing director of equity research at Wedbush Securities.

(2) YouTube Cuts The Cord, The Rise of Mobile Video

If you haven't yet heard, Apple and Google are at war and one of the casualties in that battle has been YouTube. YouTube isn't about to wave their white flag. They've prepared a new app immediately for the release of iOS 6, but they've done so with one major addition. In the past, YouTube was restricted by Apple from including mobile ads in their videos, now that they've broken free from the App store shackles they can open this market. The addition of pre-roll advertising before popular YouTube videos on a mobile devices, is a big win for YouTube. They may walk away from this fight with a smaller installed base, but they will invariably increase their revenue by exercising their freedom.

(3) Facebook, Facebook, and More Facebook

Facebook is moving to prime time billing in iOS 6. They're tightly integrating with major features in iOS 6. This is going to be a big win for Facebook, who in the passed has struggled with their own mobile presence. Now Facebook can rely on the health of the iOS 6 interface to leverage more sharing and more mobile engagement from their users. When Twitter was given the same treatment, their signups increased by 25%.

Assuming Facebook gets the same lift Twitter has, there's going to be a swath of new advertising opportunities made available by this improvement. The social graph will grow, people will be more connected, and Facebook will serve more relevant mobile and desktop ads.

But third party applications will also ride this Facebook wave. TechCrunch reported back in May that third party application developers are leveraging Facebook data to serve more targeted advertising and their stock is bouncing after making that reality more clear. This move hints at Facebook creating a mobile ad network and eager developers want in. While that move might be several months away, Facebook is in fact extending their knowledge about you to developers so the ads you see can have more context and greater click through rates. This could change the mobile advertising industry permanently.

(4) In-App Purchases Became a Developers Gravy Train

In app purchases of iTunes content just got a whole lot easier. Previously, if Pandora wanted to sell you the song you were listening to right now, one would need to leave the application and open the iTunes music store. Thereby interrupting your jam, taking you away from the music, and forcing you into a purchasing flow. Now, developers like Pandora have the ability to keep users within their application to purchase their desired content.

The ability to have a seamless experience within an application and still monetize is likely to be an lucrative opportunity for application developers. I'm excited to see how this gets rolled out in the first wave of unique iOS 6 applications.

(5) Passbook Could Be a Boon for Couponing and Loyalty Programs

Ok, so there's no NFC on the iPhone… boo, hiss! We get it. However, what Apple did have the smarts to do was introduce an alternative and made it available to all of the legacy hardware they have floating out there. It's called Passbook.

Passbook could be a flash in the pan, or it could change couponing and loyalty campaigns permanently. I'm not sure where I stand yet. What I do know is that Apple has lined up a whole host of launch partners and that's a good sign for the platform.

This means Starbucks can now send me a gift certificate or coupon that I can load into Passbook. The next time I walk through the door of Starbucks my phone will buzz and the coupon will pop up. In a single swipe I have the barcode ready for the barista and I'm on my way. No more dealing with gift cards, coupons to print out, or any other arcane method of doing business.

The ability for the coupon code to pop up on your phone even if you merely walk by Starbucks could be great advertising opportunity for businesses. If I'm Starbucks, I'm sending every iOS 6 user a free coupon to put in their Passbook just to test the theory.

(6) New App Store U/X

More than 30 billion applications have been downloaded from the App Store but with recent changes in iOS 6, we can assume the rate of application consumption will rise.

Currently when you purchase or download a free application you're taken out of the App store. With a new change in iOS 6, you'll stay in the App store most likely consumer more content, researching new apps, and making more purchases. This tiny change in user experience and work flow will certainly be a big win for developers and those relying on the mobile app economy to pay their bills.

(7) Do Not Track - 'nuff said

The mobile advertising industry is very young comparative to the web advertising industry. What that means is historically users have had very little control about what developers know about their usage habits. There was no way to opt out of retargeting, clear your cookies, or otherwise prevent apps from passing along targeting information to their constituents.

The new iOS 6 is forcing developers away from tracking user behavior using the UDID to a new method called identifierForAdvertising (IFA). In short this is a more mature format that makes the mobile environment operate more like the desktop environment–that is, giving the user the ability to opt out of tracking, retargeting, and what amounts to the equivalent to clearing you cookies.

(8) Smarter Notifications Mean More Notifications

With more applications wanting the ability to notify users with an urgent ping, it can be a bit overwhelming. In iOS 6, Apple works to reign in some of the more overzealous apps by putting more control in the users hands. The new operating system allows a user to put time restrictions on when applications can 'bother' them. A byproduct of this feature could mean that more users will be increasingly comfortable with leaving notifications on for applications which could increase engagement, impressions, and ultimately revenue.

(9) Happy Developers

While consumers blogs are debating whether the iPhone lives up to the hype, developer blogs are cheering the new changes in the operating system. Overall, there's been an unprecedented control of the native applications such as the camera. For the first time Apple is letting developers have access to a new set of API calls that will lead to a whole host of new innovations. Imagine Instagram filters being able to adjust the aperture of a picture before it's taken. Now it's possible.

Another thing developers will welcome is smart application banners. Have you ever visited a mobile website only to be presented with a banner asking you to download their ‘iPhone Application’. Now developers can add some code that notifies the user that a mobile site has a registered app in the App store.

These are just 9 of the major improvements in iOS 6 and iPhone 5 that could alter the future of mobile advertising. The changes will be subtle enough that the user will not notice. But just like any good change in design, these changes will make for interactions with less friction, more activity, and in the end more revenue for the mobile advertising industry.

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Need great fashion? Grab it at Collective Habit!

By | client testimonials, customer experience, design, Digital Operative, ecommerce, magento | 5 Comments

Fashion and technology don’t always work hand-in-hand (see Steve Jobs’ turtlenecks, Mark Zuckerbergs’ sweatshirts, and Bill Gates’ Flowbee haircut for the past 3 decades) so when fashion and technology do team up in a meaningful way it is important to take note. With this in mind DO is proud to announce the launch of Collective Habit  – a Magento Go eCommerce online womens fashion boutique that offers fashionable must-have clothes and accessories at prices that won’t leave you broke. Collective Habit is a collaboration of the team at DO (special thanks to Chris and Evan) and Kim Lim. The project came together like this – Kim, the founder of Collective Habit, is an avid shopper who was disappointed with the selection of clothing that San Diego had to offer, especially the price points at which the clothing was sold. She was tired of spending more than she wanted on clothes or being forced to purchase mediocre items at a lower cost. She decided enough was enough and wanted to do something about it. Recognizing that other women may be having similar issues Kim started Collective Habit. Collective Habit is an online store where fashionable women won’t have to go broke and feel guilty for shopping because they get such a great deal on quality items. These items are super fashion-forward, but not overly trendy so that there is something for everyone. Kim came to DO with her vision in mind and wanted DO to translate her vision online.

The goal of Collective Habit is to create an online community where women can visit a trusted fashion source, find that perfect piece to complete their outfit, and know they got a great value for their clothes. With this goal in mind DO went to work, using our vast knowledge of website development and SEO and leaning on Kim almost entirely for our sense of fashion. The plan was to create an eCommerce site that went above and beyond the typical Magento Go Site. Magento Go is an online platform for small businesses to create their online eCommerce store quickly, efficiently, and have their site look professional. With so many tools and functions within the platform, it’s a great way for smaller businesses to get started. DO made the platform work for the project by pushing the limits of the platform. We were able to produce a uniquely branded website that works well on both the desktop as well as in the mobile environment. DO gave the user a high-end feel on both the mobile and the desktop site, with simplicity that Collective Habit required to provide each piece a chance to shine no matter its price. The site was launched November 7th and can be found at http://www.collectivehabit.com/. We hope you take the time to check it out. We think you will be impressed that (finally) technology and fashion have come together.

iPad Light Painting – Dentsu London

By | customer experience, design, geekery, innovation | No Comments

Making Future Magic: iPad light painting from Dentsu London on Vimeo.

I discovered the following project on Beeker Northam’s blog. She and her team at DentsuLondon partnered up with design consultancy BERGlondon to create a mini-series about capturing light from iPads and extruding 3D ainmations. This is the REAL stuff when it comes to the potential for consumer engagement in the future with so many devices gaining global penetration. magic rules.

Top 5 eCommerce Best Practices

By | customer experience, design, ecommerce | 2 Comments

Top 5 eCommerce best practices

A frequent question among our web development clients is “what are your favorite eCommerce sites and why?”. To best answer this question I regularly spend time with various eCommerce best practices articles, read the latest blogs by thought leaders and most importantly, I visit actual eCommerce stores, analyzing what I do and don’t like about their user experience. This list of 5 eCommerce best practices are must haves!

1) Transparent Policies: Shipping / Returns / About / Privacy

Don’t hide your policies! Don’t make people guess! Let people know who you are! Ample contact and “about us” information will help to build consumer trust. During the web design phase, be sure links to this information are included in the header and the footer – don’t hide it, be proud of your story and how open you are to communicating with potential and existing customers.

One example of this best practice is SmartPac. They really go out of their way to explain who they are and what they are about.

2) Unique Copy

Retailers who use manufacturer’s suggested copy are shooting themselves in both feet: The SEO foot because the copy is not original – hundreds of other retailers will be using the same copy and you cannot differentiate yourself. The branding foot because well written, unique copy will inspire confidence in your brand and therefore the products you sell.

I recently bought a pair of SSG brand gloves from “Bit of Britain”. This US retailer has an interesting story as depicted in their “about us” section and  uses very custom product description copy, positioning themselves as industry experts and going as far as to describe when and why the company began carrying the SSG Eventer Gloves. This type of copy makes for a more trustworthy place to purchase from and sure beats the borring manufacturer’s description.

3) First Class Checkout Process & Error Handling

Don’t force your users to register! Do you have to register at the brick and mortar to buy soap? If you want to have users register, make it an option at the end of the checkout process in the form of a check box – and let them know the benefits such as the ability to track their order and if you have it, a rewards system. Keep the checkout process simple and clutter free, avoid the temptation to include up sells or cross sells within the checkout process – keep it linear and allow the customer to pay you without distraction. When your customers make mistakes throughout this process, handle those errors gracefully. Error 25 doesn’t mean anything to a customer, put error messages in red and be sure they show up where the error occurred.

Straight from Nielsen Online is a top ten converting eCommerce site, ProFlowers. This site breezes you through the checkout process while handling any errors  accurately and clearly.

4) Lots of Product Information

You can’t feel, play with or try on eComm products, so how does an eMerchant capture those priceless product interactions? With gobs of information!

Zappos.com owns this eCommerce best practice! Videos, user generated content including reviews and ratings, detailed product information, a sizing chart, multiple high quality product pictures and even an “about the (manufacturing) company” section. When buying from Zappos, I really feel Zappos has done its homework on the product and is offering it through their channel because they truly believe its of high quality and value.

5) Site Search

Its pretty simple, allow customers to quickly find exactly what they are looking for. This can be facilitated through an intuitive user experience, but growing to be just as important is the on-site search functionality. Digital Operative highly suggests the Magento eCommerce platform for multiple reasons. One of those reasons is how it handles site search. The quality of any site search relies on how well the information is organized. You must spend time categorizing your products correctly, write great descriptions then get into your search tool and optimize. Where Magento can help you out is through is in the modification of your site’s search results, and therefore your on-site search optimization.

As a Magento admin, you can look through the queries your customers have made. You can use this information to build out custom product attributes and also control exactly what search results are served to users. With this level of control, you can help your customers find exactly what they are looking for – or what they think they are looking for.

Helping your customers  is always a best practice!

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