Saturday, March 03, 2012

Comparison of eCommerce Platforms

Below is a matrix which compares the various eCommerce platforms including the hosted ones. It will provide you the comparison of all the features at a glance - Big Commerce, Shopify, Magento, Volusion, CoreCommerce, FastSpring, ECWID and Foxy Cart. The matrix may not be complete. request you to suggest any changes or errors. Thanks.

Click the thumbnail to view the bigger image.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Alternate Online Payment Options to Boost Online Sales



Most of the ecommerce sites provide their customers numerous payment options including PayPal and cash-on-delivery. Most of the payment gateways accept all types of credit cards and debit cards. They also provide secure payment options but...
  • Are we really sure these will help in increasing sales?
  • How will your payment options attract the untapped customers?
  • How can these increase the online sales?
Here, I have done a research for a while and have tried to provide the alternate online payment options which can be provided on the ecommerce website that can help you increase the online sales. As these payment options can attract the untapped customers who do not want to use their credit cards or debit cards over the internet. Many people don't have credit or debit cards, or even bank accounts, and some are simply reluctant to give their financial details online. U.S. consumers used cash to make about $1.2 trillion in purchases last year, according to research firm Aite Group. Still, Americans without bank cards face hassles trying to pay bills, shop online, or make travel reservations.


These alternate payment options thus, open up new markets and customers to which you can sell the products and/or services.

Vouchers

There are a lot of companies which offer vouchers. But, the best and popular ones are UKash and paysafesard.

Ukash is an established international company that provides an alternative way for people to pay for goods and services online. Users enjoy using Ukash because it is easy and there are no age restrictions. No credit or debit cards are needed and you don't even have to share any personal or financial details.

UKash is accepted in almost 33 countries.

paysafecard also works on the same method as UKash. Your customers can get the paysafecard worth $10, $25, $50 or $100 from a local store. paysafecard is available from 300.000 sales outlets worldwide. When one buys a paysafecard they get a 16-digit PIN printout that the customer can enter at the online store which accepts it. No personal data or bank account details are required. To pay for larger amounts, up to $500, you can easily combine up to ten paysafecards.
Please note that Ukash charges 6.5% of sales while paysafecard charges 9.5%. Since people buy them at convenience stores, the cost is high. But, they provide you instant access to people who do not want to use cards as well as people who do not have cards.

Ukash is popular in Britain and they started to expand to South America also recently. paysafecard is very popular in Germany, Austria and the german speaking belt.

Since this is prepaid format, there are no issues of any chargebacks or fraud transactions.
 
eWallets
 
The popular in eWallets are moneybookers.com and Neteller.
 
Since becoming the first emoney issuer to obtain an electronic money licence from the FSA it’s taken Moneybookers less than a decade to change the world of online payments. With their mix of consumer and business focused solutions they have become one of Europe's leading digital money companies operating one of the world's largest independent eWallet platforms on the internet.
 
Moneybookers helps online business web sites accept credit and debit cards. For the most part, when you use Moneybookers, you are only able to accept credit and debit. It's a very basic payment gateway – a simple solution for many small businesses. Moneybookers processes payments in such a way as to help your customers feel secure, since they are not giving personal payment information to the seller.


Moneybookes help online businesses to get access over 100 payment options with one simple integration, all backed with fraud and chargeback protection. One of the main advantages to using a Moneybookers payment gateway is the lack of fees. There are no set up fees, nor are there monthly fees. Social Security Number and address verification checks are available at no cost. Many of these benefits are also available when you sign up for what is known as the "eBay accepted payment option." You can even accept international payments. The only fees charged are transaction fees, and those are based on your monthly sales.

Most of the online gaming and casino websites offers NETeller as alternative payment options. NETeller is an online secure funds transfer service operator. With any action, there has to be a counteraction. That’s why, with the explosion in e-commerce, online purchases and gaming over the last few years, there has also been a major surge in the demand for secure online funds transfer services. NETeller has stayed ahead of its competitors through incredible service offerings, competitive rates and all-round good customer relations. This has led to NETeller becoming the top-of-mind online funds transfer service in a short time since it began operations in 1999. Online consumers can instantly move funds to and from any merchant site that is affiliated with NETeller.

Pay Cash at local store

You can conviniently as your customers to buy online and pay cash near a local store.
PayNearMe follows a simple 3-step process. After selecting an item online to purchase or a payment to make, customers:

PayNearMe intends to make it both cheaper and easier for consumers to pay for everything with cash by visiting a 7-Eleven.

Direct Bank Transfers

There are lot of options for direct bank transfer like www.envoyservices.com. They have already integrated lot of bank transfer gateways so it makes an ecommerce life easy.

Providing additional and alternative payment options can help in increasing the online sales by 15-20%. The important think is you are increasing the market and thus, the customer base.

I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback on this alternative payment options.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Customer Management Check List




I have put down few points for customer management in one page. It really needs to have more points and need to refine it. Your feedback and comments will help to improvize it. If it is difficult to read, just click on the image and it will open-up to actual size.


Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Thinking and Meeting Beyond Facebook




Last week I met a person personally who got in touch with me through the social networking site. We exchanged few emails and he got in touch with me when he visited Bangalore on a business trip. It was great meeting him and it not only helped us knowing each other more but, it helped us in expanding our network and also exchange of new ideas.

This made me think that Facebook though called by that name, hardly leads to face-to-face communication. It is of no use of exchanging links, photos and messages. What can’t be communicated in 140 characters will give a more tremendous experience when one meets the other personally. I am not exaggerating anything here, but I feel it would be really great if such networking sites add more features to have regular offline meet-ups and schedule meetings of like-minded people. Networking sites have really helped getting lot of people together. I was able to get in touch with 35 of my school classmates whom I did not talk at all – leave alone meeting. I was unaware of where they were and their contact details. Facebook has really helped us in getting together. I met few of them and talked to most of them. And I am really enjoying meeting each of them personally.

I see, a regional or geographical based Facebook or networking sites to come up which will help people meet offline and share knowledge and ideas. The online meeting needs to extend to offline and vice-versa. Sites like Places, FourSquare and Google Latitudes are there, but it really allows or motivates a person to meet his / her friend. I am seeing a system which motivates and prompts one to such meets. The friends I am talking here are not your present colleagues or the ones who meet personally often, but those you were introduced to you online through these sites and helped you know each other better.

And the irony is, these networking sites may just remain a messaging site and will not make each other meet. People may find fun in updating their status messages and chatting online thus, avoiding the need to meet each other. People may get hooked to these sites to avoid loneliness and may this may lead to more loneliness. So, I guess it is high time to get these meets or provide a system to motivate and move these connections to meet face-to-face.

I would love to know your thoughts as well. Please do put in your thoughts as comments. Happy Facebooking…


Friday, February 25, 2011

The 12 Important Things for a Landing Page to be Successful




As you all are aware that a visitor or a prospect reaching your website will spend at an average less than 8 to 7 seconds before he / she exits or clicks something. We really invest lot of resources, energy, time and money to get prospects to our website. We know and we can calculate which campaigns and which sites direct prospects to the website. But, are we providing or delivering the message which the visitors need in those 7 seconds? Here is a simple checklist which will help if you website and the online business are delivering what you want.
  1. Try to specify in one sentence, what is the key message a visitors takes from the home page and check is that the campaign or website objective. 
  2. What are the three things that tell the visitor on which page or which stage of the shopping cart are they – bread crumbs or shopping cart steps or… This can increase the conversions or reduce the bounce rates.
  3. Provide the content in bullet points and in short paragraphs. It is easier to read with the short span.
  4. Take care that the key action you want the visitor to take is conveyed properly on the page and is clearly above the fold of the page? The visitor may not scroll down the page in those few seconds available.
  5. Have the registration form as short as possible and as easy to fill in as possible. Filling unnecessary information or long forms irritates the prospect.
  6. Be aware of the type and demographics of the audience and set the campaigns accordingly.
  7. Is there any unique available on the web page or landing page which is not available else where? And is it free? People do not give there contact details just like that.
  8. Does your landing page or web page talks the same as what is being conveyed through the text ad, banner, email or any other campaign? If not, it may hamper the conversions.
  9. Can the visitor on the landing page is able to perform any other task apart from what you want him / her to do? If you provide too many links and options then the visitor may get distracted or confused. Always try to stick to one objective one campaign.
  10. If it is a PPC like Adwords let the ads be displayed when you expect more conversions. Schedule your ads / emails accordingly.
  11. Provide your contact numbers (toll free preferably) and email clearly. The prospect may want to call you right away – to track such leads give a specific email and number.
  12. Provide you social media links like Facebook and Twitter. The visitor may find it interesting but, would like to be just associated with you as of now.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Facebook Friends' List Missing? How to get them?



You all must be aware of the way the Friends' list help in reasing the newsfeeds or status messages easily by categorizing them in different lists. These lists will reallyhelp you when you have a long list of friends and it is difficult to read all the messages, lest you categorize them and you will seldom miss the status messages. To know how to create the friends' list then you can read here.
Even I created a list of my friends like Work Friends, School Friends, Party Friends, Relatives... and was feeling it very easy to know what all are doing. But, from past one week, the list went missing. I can only see the Friends link on the left side of the Facebook page and when I click it it gives me nothing.

When I searched over the internet, I found I was not alone and there are quite a few other folks who are also facing the same problem. I even contacted Facebook and posted it on Twitter as well. But, no response from these guys. As it is my habit not to keep quiet... I investigated more to find the solution. And here is the very simple solution to get you list back, rather to see it.
  1. On your 'News Feed' page you have the links - 'Top News' and 'Most Recent'. Click the downward arrow adjacent to 'Most Recent' link.
  2. You can see your friends' list here. Select the list you want to view.
  3. In case you have many lists then click 'Choose another'
Hope this helps. It helped me.

In case you are facing a different problem with Facebook, please do let me know and let us resolve it. And if it helped you, then let me know. It will make me happy :). Also, it would be wonderful if you tweet this using the Tweetme.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

9 Tips to Know When You Should be Using Facebook / LinkedIn Direct Ads




After efficiently using Adwords, I just thought how could Facebook and LinkedIn direct ads be different or how could these be more effective. Like Adwords, I did not get any free ad money to experiment my campaigns. I usually get free credit for Adwords but, I have to prepare myself to spend on Facebook and LinkedIn.

  1. As matter of fact, Facebook and LinkedIn use almost the same algorithm of relevance and CTR to show the ads. The daily budget mechanism or setting of time to show your ads or the frequency is same. One major advantage of these networking sites is that you can target the exact age group, industry type, job function, title…based on the demographic profile you want to target. Google uses the ‘search’ mechanism while Facebook and LinkedIn use the ‘profile’ of the user to show the ads.
  2. Unlike Google or Adwords, Facebook and LinkedIn target the profiles that are on Facebook and LinkedIn respectively. If your target audience are not on Facebook or LinkedIn then it is of no use of using these channels for your campaigns.
  3. In Facebook you have to upload only a banner of standard size 110 x 80 pixels. Where as LinkedIn has 50 x 50 pixel image with the title and text. These banner sizes are pretty small and they are pretty strict with the image approval process for the banners. I really do not find major advantage of having such small images associated with the ad as the advertiser can hardly convey anything through these images.
  4. Unlike Adwords, here you have an option to pay either as per CPC or CPM. And they really have a reason to have the CPM model as well. These sites are particularly for sharing knowledge or connect with your friends. Hardly, folks come here to see the banners and click them or in search of something as people do in Google. So, to start with you better go with CPC model as you pay only for clicks and do shell out money for unnecessary impressions.
  5. If you are really looking at building a brand in particular country or segment or age group then you can do it on Facebook and LinkedIn and use the CPC model as it will really cost you very less. If you are not getting the required impressions then you can switch to CPM. Facebook has crossed Google in terms of traffic and you can really build lot of impressions in a short time.
  6. Though Facebook and LinkedIn target as per the profiles, these sites also provide very limited amount of keywords to use to target. In Facebook this is called as tag filtering. But, one cannot estimate the amount of traffic these keywords can generate and the cost it will incur. Adwords clearly provides you with the estimates and it really helps in setting the daily budget. Still you can try using the filtering tags in Facebook for your audience hobbies, interests and tastes.
  7. I found out that these sites really give you a poor CTR. Thus, you can use it for directing traffic to your blog or fan page or other social networking account. It is always better to use CPC model as it will not burn your budget unnecessarily. If you ads are not generating the required CTR, then expand the demographic scope slowly and find the optimum level that is really converting for you. Start with very specific target audience and slowly increase the scope depending on the required CTR and conversions.
  8. The reporting system of clicks and costs is not as great as Adwords. The direct ads system is still new and in nascent stage and we may see improvements in the reporting and tracking mechanisms.
     
  9. We can use content targeting for Adwords where we can show our ads on other sites which are in Google’s content network. While in Facebook and LinkedIn it is limited to the sites.
Bottom-line is there is nothing like Adwords. Facebook and LinkedIn do provide specific audience to your landing page, but it is difficult to get those clicks and to convert them. Unlike Adwords, visitors are looking / searching for the required info and it is easy to convert them. Adwords identifies the users’ instant needs and has the mechanism to show the relevant ads to them.

I would like to suggest that you need to decide where your target audience is and act accordingly. You may have your target audience on Facebook and it may help you in tapping the missing traffic from these channels. For example if you have a dating or matrimonial website, then social networking sites may work well for you as you can target as per the gender, age, marital status and interest. To add more if you have gaming sites similar to Farmville or the Mafia then Facebook can be the better choice as compared to Adwords not only in targeting the right interest group but you may get economical CPC as well.




Do let me know your experiences as well and would like to read your comments.