30 Apr 2015

5 Key Facts about your E-Commerce Customers

1. While product pricing has always been a major influencer when making a potential purchase, shipping has become an increasingly important factor: 59% of consumers say they consider shipping costs when making online purchase decisions, and 53% say low-cost shipping would sway them toward a different retailer. Source: "http://www.internetretailer.com/2013/10/09/free-shipping-more-fast-shipping-draws-consumers-back"

2. If you had any doubt about how savvy online shoppers are, take note of these statistics: Prior to purchasing, 65% of consumers compare goods and 94% compare prices.19
19 ChannelAdvisor Catalyst Europe 2014

3. According to Forrester Research, 71% of consumers expect to view in-store inventory online, and 50% expect a click-and-collect service. While only a third of retailers have made these offerings available at even a basic level, the demand won’t dwindle. The level of ease a customer experiences from search to delivery will act as a big brand differentiator.
2 http://www.accenture.com/us-en/landing-pages/Documents/Seamless/Accenture-hybris-Forrester-new_2014.pdf
3 http://www.accenture.com/us-en/landing-pages/Documents/Seamless/Accenture-hybris-Forrester-new_2014.pdf

4. Marketplaces now account for a huge chunk of global e-commerce activity: 30% in the US and
UK,5 and a staggering 90% of online spending in China.6
5 Public reports from eBay, Amazon, Google, Shopping.com and ChannelAdvisor estimates based on our transactional data.
6 http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/asia-pacific/china_e-tailing

5. 95% of millennials say they want brands to actively court them, especially with coupons sent via email or mailed to their home.14
https://advertising.yahoo.com/blog/INFOGRAPHIC-MILLENNIALS.html

23 Apr 2015

6 Global, Online Shopping Trends that Could Impact Your Business

Taken from Amando Roggio's Article on www.practicalecommerce.com
Personalization, videos on product detail pages, and content marketing are among six important online shopping trends that are impacting ecommerce business practices, according to a new study.
iVentures Consulting, a management and digital business consultancy, released its annual eShopper Index on March 18, 2015. The report looks at the online shopping experience that 111 well-known ecommerce sites provide before, during, and after a sale. For each of the online stores, which included Amazon, Zappos, Macy’s, Target, Nike, and similar, iVentures places several orders, interacts with customer service, and eventually returns the goods it purchased.
For its most recent index, iVentures made purchases from September to December 2014.
At each step for the purchase and return process, iVentures subjectively measures the customer experience and ultimately scores how well it believes each of the 111 sites in view performed.
With the study, the consultancy seeks to identify trends. Given that the companies the survey monitors are among the industry’s leaders, these trends may represent general changes to ecommerce business practices or areas of opportunity wherein merchants can gain a competitive advantage. As such, these trends could eventually impact even small online sellers.

Personalization

Perhaps the greatest opportunity that iVentures identified was personalization. The idea of presenting personalized content or offers is popular. It seems almost obvious that using behavioral data to show shoppers the products they are most likely to buy will boost sales. And some online sellers have reported massive increases in sales thanks to personalization.
As an example, American Apparel, which was included in the iVentures study, reported in 2013 that its on-site personalization had contributed to a 59-percent increase in sales from 2011 to 2012.
In spite of the promise of increasing sales, only 13 percent of the 111 sites studied personalized page content based on customer browsing history or customer purchase history, according to iVentures. Even fewer online sellers used personalization in their email campaigns (just 8 percent) or on mobile (only 4 percent).
In spite of its promise to boost sales, personalization is not yet widely used on ecommerce sites.
In spite of its promise to boost sales, personalization is not yet widely used on ecommerce sites.
The gap between what personalization is capable of and its use may represent an opportunity for small and mid-market retailers.

Content Marketing

While personalization may represent an opportunity to get ahead of competitors, content marketing has become something online sellers must do to keep up.
The eShopper Index found that 65 percent of the sites reviewed used lifestyle photography beyond just product pictures — think lookbooks, as an example; 61 percent had an online magazine or a blog; and 50 percent offered some form of editorial content like useful tips.
Harrods was a leader in its use of content marketing, including using fashion shoots to sell products.
Harrods was a leader in its use of content marketing, including using fashion shoots to sell products.
As an example, Harrods uses fashion shoots or lookbooks to show off new styles and engage shoppers. The site also has several editorial features, including fashion news, fashion show commentary, style trends, interviews, a regular top five feature, and much more, all collected under the site’s Style Insider section.

Video on Product Detail Pages

The sites reviewed for iVentures’ study frequently shared at least five common characteristics on product detail pages:
  • Good photography,
  • A qualitative description,
  • A list of quantitative specifications,
  • Detailed product options,
  • An ability to share on social media.
In addition, product videos appeared frequently. Some 32 percent of the sites now include product demonstration videos on at least some of their product detail pages.
As an example, Saks Fifth Avenue has a play-pause button just below the main product image on many of its product detail pages. Clicking “play” swaps out the main image with a video showing off the product. The video will also play when a shopper first arrives on the product detail page.
Saks Fifth Avenue's site includes product demonstration videos on many product detail pages.
Saks Fifth Avenue’s site includes product demonstration videos on many product detail pages.
Don’t be surprised if even small online retailers pick up on this trend and start to include product demonstration videos on site.

Much Faster Delivery Options

Many online sellers offer fast one- or two-day delivery services. Some even offer these services for free. But still, delivery options are getting faster.
Amazon offers one-hour delivery in New York City and free, two-day delivery elsewhere on the U.S. on tens of thousands of items for Amazon Prime members. Everline, a clothing-seller, offers a similar, one-hour delivery service in San Francisco and New York City for select products.
Everlane will delivery select products in an hour.
Everlane will delivery select products in New York City in an hour.
French seller Herm├Ęs offers three-hour delivery in Paris. And many brick-and-click retailers are offering a click-and-collect service that puts products in a customer’s hands in little more than an hour.
It may not be long before very rapid delivery is the norm.

Mobile

Mobile commerce, according to the iVentures’ findings, may be another area wherein not offering something puts a retailer at a  disadvantage.
For example, 91 percent of the sites reviewed were mobile optimized, meaning that having a mobile version of your site — preferably a responsive one — is essential.
Some 91 percent of the sites surveyed were mobile optimized. In addition, half of the sites offered an iOS app and more than a third offered an Android app.
Some 91 percent of the sites surveyed were mobile optimized. In addition, half of the sites offered an iOS app and more than a third offered an Android app.
Mobile apps were also popular. Half of the online sites iVentures reviewed offered an iOS mobile app and 37 percent offered an Android app.
Often these mobile applications were used to augment in-store shopping experiences, including mobile payments, coupons, and offers for use in physical stores, store maps, and similar information.
Online sellers, it would seem, must be ready to do business on mobile devices, especially if those sellers compete with brick-and-click stores.

Omnichannel Integration

Merchants that sell both from physical stores and online are making something of a comeback. According to iVentures, 65 percent of the top 20 best performing sites are brick-and-click businesses, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Harrods, Macy’s, and Target.
These stores are successfully integrating online and in-store shopping experiences. Often this includes offering click-and-collect or reserve-and-collect options, showing in-store availability online, and offering in-store mobile services or kiosks that allow shoppers to access additional items.
This one may not be a fast growing trend, but omnichannel selling and its related services may lead to some pure-play ecommerce retailers to look at ways of showcasing products in the physical world.

15 Apr 2015

PCI Compliance

Whether you are running a global enterprise or a small business, protecting sensitive data and mitigating risk is a complex responsibility and not something that can be done alone. The process has been becoming more and more complex and advanced every year.
Whilst us with our IT background once attempted to try and help our customers in completing PCI Documents as a good-will gesture, the complexity and the fact that we are not PCI Security Standards Council accredited means we are now no longer able to help.
In order to try and help you know what to do in relation to PCI Compliance we have written this guide.

What is PCI Compliance?


Once upon a time the responsibility for security was solely on the banks. In 2006 the PCI Security Council WebsitePCI Security Standards Council was set up set up by 5 of the main Card issuers to educate and monitor merchants security measures and  thus liability has now been passed back to the Merchants. It is now the Merchants sole responsibility to prove that they are secure and thus meet the security standards outlined by the Security Standards Council known as PCI Compliance. By being PCI Compliant you prove as a merchant that you have taken all steps possible to ensure that fraudulent transactions are not caused by your own insecure measures.

The main basis of PCI Compliance is asking you to check that anywhere cardholder data is stored, collected or processed by you as a company, that this is done with sufficient security measures in place. This is mainly to ensure that cardholders details aren't able to be accessed by anyone other than the banks/financial institutions they are being transmitted to.

Further information can be found online at the PCIS Security Standards Council Website

Nowadays if you are not PCI Compliant, some banks will charge you a fee to try and cover the costs of fraudulent transactions should they ever occur.

I have received a request from my bank to prove I am PCI Compliant. What do I do?


Customers faced with completing PCI Compliance should go to a Qualified Security Assessor for assistance. A list of some service providers can be found at the bottom of this email. 

We may look to qualify as a SQA ourselves one day as an add on service to our business, but in the mean time all customers should go to a Qualified Security Assessor

Qualified Security Assessors will be able to help with the complexities of self assessment forms and also in implementing procedures to ensure you are secure as a business and are able to demonstrate that you are successfully PCI Compliant.

Easitill is my supplier should they not be responsible in helping me with PCI Compliance?


Cardholder data security is solely the responsibility of Merchants and their third party merchant services provider such as YesPay, Worldpay etc.
In the past we have attempted to help out of goodwill, however we have discovered as we are not PCI Security Standards approved we are unable to continue to help due to liabilities and legalities.
Easitill are also not 
involved with the collection, processing or storing of cardholder data within our systems. This is all done through third party payment providers/merchant service providers such as YesPay, Worldpay etc.

Does the Easitill EPoS system collect, process or store Cardholder Data?


No. As your EPoS or website supplier, Easitill do not collect, store, process, or transmit cardholder data (CHD) within the software/ IT systems. This is all handled by the third party payment providers.

Card services are all handled by third party merchant service providers such as your Chip & Pin provider eg. Yespay, Worldpay etc or for ecommerce websites this is your Payment Gateway provider eg. SagePay, Paypoint.

If however you take card holder not present/mail-order card details then there is a certain amount of liability on you to ensure these details are secure, disposed of correctly and cannot get into the wrong hands.


Surely once i've completed PCI Compliance I don't need to do it again?

Attestation and completion of PCI Compliance forms and checks must be carried out annually and provided to your bank annually. It is only valid for 12 months and should be reviewed regularly.

PCI Compliance Qualified Security Assessors:


Security Metrics
Website: www.securitymetrics.com
Tel: 0844 561 1662
Address: Victory House, 400 Pavilion Dr.,
Northampton Business Park, Northampton, NN4 7PA, UK

Ambersail
Website: www.ambersail.com
Tel: 01925 600062
Address: Walton Lodge, Hill Cliffe Road, Warrington. WA4 6NU, UK

TrustWave
Website: www.trustwave.com
Tel: 0845 456 9611
Address: EMEA Headquarters , Westminster Tower, 3 Albert Embankment,
London, SE1 7SP, UK

Others can also be found online.

Easitill's Role in PCI Compliance

Easitill are happy to help answer any questions about EPoS & Website set up with your Qualified Security Assessor in order for them to get you PCI Compliance.
Some questions relating to the Third party payment gateways/merchant service providers (eg. YesPay, WorldPay) may need to be addressed to them directly however. We do however know that each Payment Provider also has their own PCI Certificate which they will provide you with upon request if required for your own attestation.

Please put your SQA in touch with our support team if they have any queries about the nature of the set up on 01604 882030 or by email on support@easitill.co.uk

13 Apr 2015

Why we and other developers don't support old versions of Internet Explorer - Update

In June 2011 Google officially announced that they would no longer support Internet Explorer 7 (IE7). Older browsers like IE7, they said, just don’t have the “chops” to handle today’s modern web browsing needs. Instead, they urge people to update their browsers.


As the world moves more to the web, these new browsers are more than just a modern convenience, they are a necessity for what the future holds.


A few months later, Facebook also announced that they would no longer support IE7. In fact, Facebook’s new Timeline feature doesn't even visually render in IE7.


Internet Explorer 7 was released as long ago as 2006 (Over 8 years ago!) and Internet Explorer 8 as long ago as 2009 (Over 5 years ago).


With free updates being offered on older versions as soon as you open your browser, and security being an issue, there really is no reason not to update browsers to the latest versions.


As of March 2015, only 0.1% of the entire world’s Internet browsing population uses IE7. With the latest Internet Explorer now being Internet Explorer 11, IE8, 9 & 10 are now declining closely behind IE7. Only 7.7% use IE at all–but those that do have upgraded (for free) to newer versions of the browser. As of March 2015 the most popular IE browsers are versions 11 (4.1%), 10 (1.0%), 9 (1.4%) & 8 (1.1%).


The reasons IE7 is being abandoned by the biggest names on the web is because not only is it incredibly expensive to make websites and web applications work with IE7, but it is vastly flawed, does not follow industry standards, has security flaws and does not encourage the latest web progressions. Web Developers need to make sure that their products work on a myriad of browsers and devices–Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari and mobile browsers, for example. Designing for these browsers takes time. With IE7, there are so many unique quirks to the outdated, 8-year-old browser, that it takes an enormous amount of time to make a website or application support it. Due to these problems, and the very small percentage of people who even use the browser, we chose not to support Internet Explorer 7.


The labour costs to support IE7 are so high that one online store in Australia is actually charging a tax on people who make purchases from their website using IE7.As the BBC reports, CEO of Kogan.com, Ruslan Kogan, said that he decided to charge the tax because his IT team had “become pre-occupied with making adaptations to make pages display properly on IE7″.

I was constantly on the line to my web team. The amount of work and effort involved in making our website look normal on IE7 equaled the combined time of designing for Chrome, Safari and Firefox.
tax-internet-explorer-7-buuteeq
Image Credit: Kogan.com

Starting January 12, 2016, Microsoft is changing its list of supported Windows configurations. Effective that date, the company said in an announcement today, “only the most recent version of Internet Explorer available for a supported operating system will receive technical support and security updates.”

Support for the five-year-old Internet Explorer 8 will be dropped completely for Windows desktop and server releases. On mainstream PCs, Internet Explorer goes into the same bucket as Windows XP, which reached its end-of-support date in April 2014. Microsoft will not release security updates for Internet Explorer 8 on desktop versions of Windows after the first Patch Tuesday of 2016 (security updates for Internet Explorer 8 will continue to be available after the cutoff date for a handful of embedded operating systems).

There is a very simple solution to this problem –update your browser. It’s free, fast and easy. Updating your browser will increase your Internet browsing speed, allow you to use the latest web apps and, most importantly, your browsing experience will be better protected from evil people who seek to do you harm, since updated browsers have updated browsing security.
On Easitill websites we have a browser detection setting enabled, which alerts people of the risks involved in using an outdated browser and gives them links to easily and freely update.

1 Apr 2015

5 Ways Smaller Ecommerce Retailers Can Beat Large Ones

Smaller retailers that compete solely on price against large ones, like Amazon, almost always lose. But there are other ways that small retailers can beat Amazon and other large competitors.
Here are five strategies.

1. Fanatical Focus on Customer Service

Most businesses focus on serving shoppers. But for smaller retailers to be successful, they frequently must be obsessive about it and willing to go the extra mile. This could mean an extensive self-service help section, and easily accessible customer service — chat, phone, and email. Also, smaller retailers can offer value-added services to help shoppers find the items they are looking for and, also, share insights on the product the shoppers have selected. All this must be designed to scale so that shoppers do not feel ignored as the retailer grows.
Zappos, the US foot and apparel retailer, is a good example of fanatical customer service. Even though Zappos is now large and successful, it still continues to have a customer-focused strategy. It is no wonder that Amazon purchased the company.
Zappos is famous for its high level of customer service.
Zappos is famous for its high level of customer service.

2. Nimbleness

A smaller retailer can be more nimble to adjust the shopping experience based on the feedback from its shoppers. A smaller retailer can quickly change the product assortment on its site and optimize it based on customer inputs, A/B testing, and historical tracking of what works and what does not. Smaller retailers can use this nimbleness as a competitive advantage, especially in the earlier stages of the business. They should keep this in mind before signing a long-term contract with a supplier, even though it might look financially attractive.
An example of a retailer that used nimbleness to its advantage is Bonobos, the clothing site. A couple of years after getting started, Bonobos’ customers requested to try out the clothes before buying them. Bonobos listened and opened a small store in its New York headquarters to allow customers to try on the clothes before buying them online. A larger online retailer would likely have debated and spent more time to assess whether to expand into the physical channel. But Bonobos acted on this feedback quickly. This first store was so successful that Bonobos ended up opening similar stores in Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, and other cities. Bonobos has further expanded by selling its clothes in Nordstrom stores.
Bonobos opened physical locations after listening to feedback from its customers.
Bonobos opened physical locations after listening to feedback from its customers.

3. Better Quality

Traditional retailers have relied on similar or better quality white-label goods to generate more revenue. Costco is a good example. Its Kirkland brand competes with almost everything sold in the stores. Smaller online retailers can use a similar strategy to offer products that are better quality than what is available from larger retailers. “Better quality” can mean several different things: better material, less harmful to the environment, more innovative. The better quality should also come with competitive pricing or unique features and functionality to justify the increased price.
Frank & Oak is a small retailer that has used design and technology to produce high quality garments in the crowded men’s fashion space. Frank & Oak has been successful because it is committed to producing a quality product by procuring the best possible fabric and a close attention to detail. It has quickly grown from a small team to almost a hundred people —demonstrating that quality and attention to detail can make a difference even in a competitive market.
Frank & Oak sells only high-quality clothing items.
Frank & Oak sells only high-quality clothing items.

4. Increased Loyalty

Smaller retailers should know their customers and work on building relationships for greater lifetime value from each one. They should also utilize their customers for word-of-mouth marketing and offer incentives accordingly. Personalized service and a compelling loyalty program with different tiers of incentives can help. The loyalty program can use innovative features, such as accepting points from other programs — airline miles, hotel points — to encourage participants to move to the highest tier. Other innovative strategies could include offering incentives based on the seasons or to shoppers in a specific geographical area. These techniques are often difficult to implement by a large retailer.
Luxury goods retailer Gilt Groupe, no longer a small retailer, has a very effective loyalty program called Gilt Insider. The program has options for members to redeem their points, such as percent discounts, early access to a sale (a big hit), and using points to buy products. This exceptional loyalty program is one of the reasons why Gilt has become such a huge success in a short period of time.
Gilt Groupe's loyalty program a contributed greatly to its success.
Gilt Groupe’s loyalty program a contributed greatly to its success.

5. Relationship with Vendors

The vendors that supply the goods, the packaging, and the shipping for retailers are also running a business. These vendors often get squeezed by large retailers to offer low-margin prices. Thus, vendors are often pleased to work with a smaller retailer that can respect the vendor’s business and can provide healthy margins.
As an example, say a vendor supplying organic cotton fabric sells it at the rate of £8.80 per yard with a margin of £1.40 per yard. A large retailer may demand £7.50 per yard, and get it. The big retailer is selling 10,000 yards a month, netting the vendor £0.10 per yard with a total gross margin of £1,000. Working with a smaller retailer, the vendor can offer a discounted price of £8.50 per yard and can still make £1,000 by selling only 910 yards of the fabric. This gives the smaller retailers a huge competitive edge, as vendors are motivated to work with smaller merchants versus the larger retailers. This strategy will not work, however, if the small retailer is selling commodity products, as it won’t be able to compete on price.