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#78 [10.11.2006]

Increase sales with eCommerce 2.0

By Nowshade Kabir ©

Increase sales with eCommerce 2.0

In recent years we are seeing a great deal of interest in eCommerce from retailers. An increasing number of retailers are adopting eCommerce tools and getting involved in online business. The influx of large number of new players has intensified the battle for customerís time and pocket book. Gone are the days when you could build a good site and expect a number of visitors to rush in. Today, websites are using every possible promotional method available to attract visitors. As a result, web promotion has become a complex and expensive part of companyís overall online marketing strategy.

However, getting a visitor to your site is just half of the job, even if the visitor is from your targeted segment of the market! One of the primary issues that you have to deal with as an owner of an eCommerce site, is to convert a visitor to a real customer. You have to take a number of measures in order to increase this odd. Unfortunately, a huge number of prospective customers leave a site after even placing items in the shopping cart. Most of the site owners grossly underestimate the number of abandoning customers. When asked, none of the respondent site owners gave a figure for visitors from this category more than 30 percent. But, the reality is quite different! According to various studies, the abandonment rate can be a staggering 67 percent for an average eCommerce site! So, what do you have to do to reduce this number and increase your sales?
Some latest web development ideas combined vaguely under the name of Web 2.0 technology can be used to increase functionalities of a website and reduce shopping cart abandonment rate.

Web 2.0 as a concept has become big in the Internet world, but this phenomenon has yet to make large impact on conservative business segment like eCommerce. Over the coming months this is going to change as more and more online shopping sites are embracing Ajax based technology and other Web 2.0 ideas. The originator of the Web 2.0 describes the term to define new generation websites that use collective contribution, social networking, tagging, open APIs, remix, etc.

Ajax, a short name for a combination of website developing technologies and a key instrument of Web 2.0 concept, is used to create web applications with enhanced usability, interactivity and speediness. Present eCommerce sites are also in a position to reap similar benefits.

Below are listed the primary reasons for visitors to abandon a shopping cart and possible ways of dealing with it.

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  1. Cost of shipping too high and not shown until checkout.
    This seems to be the number one reason for most of the people to abandon a shopping cart. The first step has nothing to do with technology. You have to understand that people are not willing to pay extra on top of the real shipping and handling charge. People are not stupid! They have more or less rough idea, how much shipping might cost. Thatís why keep shipping and handling costs really low or make them free for large orders! The second step which can radically improve your conversion rate is the use of new technology to keep the shopping cart with all itís content visible at the right upper side of the page presently visited. Once a new item is added to the cart, all calculations will take place right away without reloading the page or the cart. If you feel that shipping and handling costs could be crucial in buying decision, once the first item is added the system will ask for visitorís zip code and automatically calculate the final price.

  2. Changed mind and discarded cart content.
    In this case, unfortunately, you canít do much! However, if your site automatically saves the content of the cart, there is a chance that the same buyer might come back and continue shopping. Analysis of the exit page of the visitor might also help you determine the reason why she left.

  3. Comparison shopping or browsing.
    Apart from monitoring your competitorsí sites and keeping your offers aggressive, you should create a site with better functionalities and contents.

  4. Total cost of items is too high.
    Again, if the cart is constantly visible with the final price always calculated automatically, the buyer will be able to take a more informative decision.

  5. Saving items for later purchase.
    The moment an item is added to the cart, it should be saved automatically without reloading the page. If the buyer is not logged in, upon exit request the buyer to register with just login and password, explaining that this way she can come back and continue shopping on your site.

  6. Checkout process is too long.
    If you have a shopping cart as described earlier all the buyer will need to do is click to check out. A simple form with minimum information needed to execute the check out process will appear. The filling out of this form should be the final step the buying process.

  7. Out of stock products at checkout time.
    The functionalities of the cart, as described earlier, will let the buyer immediately know whether the product is available.

  8. Checkout requires too much personal information.
    The Web 1.0 eCommerce sites collect a lot of information about the customer, which presumably help get marketing data. These days, online customers are not willing to reveal more than necessary information for nothing. Avoid the temptation to ask questions unrelated to check out. All you need name, shipping and billing address and credit card information. Thatís it!

  9. Poor site navigation and long download times.
    With the help of above mentioned technologies you will be able to increase interactivity, speed and better navigation experience many folds.

  10. Lack of sufficient product or contact information.
    Your contact telephone numbers should be always visible. A form or wizard based product adding system will help you not to forget crucial information related to an item.

Of course there are other minor reasons why visitors abandon a shopping cart, but if you make over your eCommerce site with the help Web 2.0 technologies many of these issues will also disappear.

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About the author
Nowshade Kabir is the founder, primary developer and present CEO of A Ph. D. in Information Technology, he has wide experience in Business Consulting, International Trade and Web Marketing. Rusbiz is a Global B2B Emarketplace with solutions to start and run online business. Click here to contact him.