WHAT DOES A MOBILE APP MEAN FOR YOUR ONLINE STORE?

All, E-Commerce

First came the computer, and then came the mobile. Then there was the internet, then there was the smartphone, and now we have these apps. It’s hard to keep up with technology when every day there’s a new invention. You might think it’s easier not to, but trust me it’s not. Someday, technology’s going to catch up with you, leaving you no choice but to submit to its authority. And whether you’re ready for it or not, you’re going to have to embrace it. The good news is, it’s actually not that bad, and it can do miracles to your online business. Today, the number of mobile users is larger than the number of desktop users. Why do you think that it? People are highly embracing the mobile app trend and offering them a mobile website does not provide the same experience.

What Makes a Mobile App Better Than a Mobile Website?

1- Extra features: Mobile apps have a number of features you can utilize for your app. Such as camera, contact list, GPS, phone calls, compass, etc… These features can make your user experience more interactive and fun. Not to mention, they can significantly shorten the time needed to perform certain tasks.

2- No restrictions on functions: Mobile websites, no matter how advanced, still have some limitations on certain functions. However, this problem doesn’t exist with mobile apps. Simple functions can make a huge difference in your life, like the swipe, or drag, or zoom in functions.

3- Ability to work offline: Perhaps one of the best features about mobile apps is the ability to work offline. This feature alone puts apps way ahead of mobile websites. Even though you might not be able to perform all the tasks without an internet connection. You can still get a lot done using the offline mode.

4- Improved productivity and customer service: Mobile apps allow you to track your customers’ purchases and better understand their shopping trends. This gives you the upper hand as you can stock their favorite items in advance so you’ll never run out-of-stock. You will be able to predict their next shopping cart and meet your delivery schedule. On-time business processes and meeting customer demand mean more sales.

5- Increased profit: Mobile apps are easy to use; this encourages customers to keep browsing your products. The speed factor also results in time saving and more purchases. In addition, for customers to be able to be able to set their preferences is highly important. Simple personalized information such as interests, location, and more can help you customize their recommendations. Ultimately, this will lead to higher conversion rates.

The bottom line is…Mobile apps are crucially important for your online store. People spend most of their time on mobile apps because they hold the power to simplify every single detail of their lives into a mobile app. Not to mention, their shopping behavior and decision making. Mobile apps can offer greater values to your business, all you need to do is convince your customers that your app’s worthy of their time.


A FREE GUIDE TO CHOOSING THE RIGHT SHOPPING CART PLATFORM

All, E-Commerce

A Free Guide to Choosing The Right Shopping Cart Platform

It’s the dreaded question, the one every starting eCommerce tries to avoid and leaves till the last minute. Which is the right shopping cart platform for my business? Lucky for you, we’re here to make your life easier. We’ve decided to make a research on shopping carts to help you make an informed decision. So we’ve gathered as much information as we could find on the most used platforms and created a list of pros and cons. But before getting into that, you need to understand the forms of modern shopping carts.

Shopping Cart Types:

A) Hosted Shopping Carts: Also known as SaaS (Software as a service). Easy-to-use, but limited in functionality because it’s hosted by your vendor. That’s why it’s recommended for eCommerce beginners. You might not be able to customize your site as preferred. Monthly fees include access to the software, hosting, and security.

B) Self-Hosted Shopping Carts: These are Open-Source solutions, they’re free to download and use. But you’ll need to find your own hosting and buy your own SSL certificate each year. On top of that, they’re much more difficult to operate than hosted solutions. Therefore, they’re not highly recommended for beginners. However, your developers can access every line of code in the software which gives you total freedom customizing your site. You can also use pre-paid add-ons and themes.

Top Shopping Cart Platforms…Our Own Views And Comparison

The number one hosted shopping cart with over 100,000 online stores. It’s ideal for small or medium-sized businesses and eCommerce.

Pros: This platform is extremely easy to setup with well-designed templates to choose from. It includes an iOS App for updating your store, managing inventory, orders, and contacting customers. POS system is available allowing you to sync both online and offline inventory and sales.

Cons: It’s not cheap and as you have more sales, your monthly plan becomes more and more expensive. Not to mention that you have limited control over your checkout page design. On top of that, the built-in blog is weak compared to WordPress.

It’s a self-hosted platform owned by eBay. Best for an enterprise-class eCommerce, due to its long experience in the field.

Pros: It offers customer support features to help handle millions of customer queries. It also includes an extension marketplace where users can integrate a number of third-party tools such as WordPress, Zendesk, and others. Another benefit is that its customizing charges vary as per your developer.

Cons: It’s difficult to customize with an unfriendly user interface. But perhaps the biggest issue with Magento is low speed. Even though slow performance is a problem you can fix, you shouldn’t have to. Moreover, you need to install an extension for blogging.

A self-hosted platform owned by WordPress now. Known best for its plug-ins and ideal for average and smaller stores that just need a store to sell a few things right.

Pros: Free and easy to install with an unlimited customizing ability and resources. If you already have a WordPress site, all you need to do is to install the free plug-in. You can access millions of free and prepaid themes. You can also enjoy all WordPress features, like the blog which is very well-organized.

Cons: Security is a huge issue as WordPress is a highly hacked platform. Plugin updates can break other plugins, or the shopping cart altogether. You have limited credit card gateway choices with a very weak support system which may take more than 24 hours to respond. So unless you have a full-time developer to maintain your website, don’t take the risk.

A hosted platform with clients like CNN, the Food Network, ABC News, GQ and others.

Pros: It integrates with eBay, Facebook, Shopzilla, and PriceGrabber. It accepts payments from a variety of gateways including PayPal and Google Checkout. It offers a fully-loaded package that includes a secure shopping cart, product catalogs, payment gateway, marketing tools, and a mobile-optimized store. The user interface of the admin panel looks clean and easy to navigate.

Cons: It starts considerably cheap, then increases its fees over time without you noticing. It’s fairly customizable but without total control and has terrible customer service.

A self-hosted platform with a growing community of store owners, developers, and service providers.

Pros: It integrates with a variety of payment processors like Amazon, eBay, and Sagepay. Over 7,000 add-ons that enable you to customize and add new functionalities to your online storefronts. Price varies per developer.

Cons: Difficult to edit with many security issues.

A self-hosted shopping cart.

Pros: Easy one-click upgrades. Always on top of the latest trends and technology. Search-engine friendly and integrates with many of the third-party applications. Multilingual capabilities.

Cons: No built-in POS system. Considered expensive.

This is a self-hosted platform on the rise.

Pros: It has one of the cleanest interfaces of all default themes with a good set of features. In addition, it’s easy to edit and has many integrated payment and shipping options.

Cons: Limited features with no customization. It has SEO issues and it’s not suitable for large scale businesses.

Let’s recap…

No matter what shopping cart you choose, you’ll never start with one that fits all your needs. Narrow down your top priorities and pick the shopping cart that addresses at least 75% of your needs. Consider your budget and take your time before finally making your decision. But most importantly, understand what your business needs out of a shopping cart. Watch demos of your short-listed shopping carts, ask a lot of questions, and test before using.


Critical Factors To Consider Before Making The Final Decision

Why are you creating an online store? Are you looking to sell a few items or are you hoping to build the next eCommerce empire? Is the shopping cart easy to set-up and use? Is it customizable? Does it have a built-in SEO feature? Does it support multi-currencies and multilingual? Is it compatible with third-party applications like my merchant account and payment gateway? Does this shopping cart have a timely support and maintenance service? What payment methods does it support? Are there any transaction limitations? Is it possible to integrate it with a physical store’s data, operations, and resources?

Your success depends on having the right tools at your disposal. This includes a suitable shopping cart and a trustworthy payment gateway. Have you made your decision yet? Which is your favorite shopping cart? Let us know in the comments section. 


HOW TO OVERCOME THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES FACED IN ECOMMERCE

All, E-Commerce

Knowledge in eCommerce is a very powerful weapon that can hold your success hostage indefinitely. Sadly, most people go into business without knowing the first thing about eCommerce. Some of them might know but may not comprehend just how important small issues like content generation, shopping cart, and email marketing can be. Simple things can help your website generate more views and eventually make more sales. So what can you do to ensure having a successful online business? What are the challenges that you may face and how can you fix or avoid them altogether?


The Biggest Challenges Faced in eCommerce and how to overcome them

1- Low website traffic

Lack of visitors can be caused by a number of things. People could be searching for your products but are unable to find your website, or they can be browsing your website but are not making a purchase.

Solution: Google Analytics can be very effective here, it helps you identify your problems, whether they were content related or design related. Social media is also great for exposure, it helps you direct people to your website.

2- Cart abandonment

This happens when customers are persuaded to buy but for some reason, they don’t go through with the purchase. It could be related to a lack of trust, it could also relate to complicated checkout processes or unnecessary requirements.

Solution: Make your checkout process as easy as possible. Clarify everything to your customers from the beginning, like your shipping costs, your refund policy, etc. Think about the details you actually need from your customers, don’t ask for more than you need.

3- Trust issues:

How do you build trust between your customer and your brand when the only type of communication happens behind a screen?

Perhaps this is the biggest challenge of all. Reasons for the lack of trust can vary between content, extra costs, policies, security, etc.

Solution: Starting with honest product descriptions and clear images taken from different angles. Product reviews are very important here, even if they were negative don’t remove them from your website, this shows honesty in your brand. Make your contact information very clear on every page. Customers need to trust that your website is legit and that they have someone to contact if needed. Have a clear return and exchange policy stated on your website along with the costs and your privacy policy. It also helps to list the names of your staff with pictures and bios, this makes customers feel more comfortable. As for the security issue, you need to get fraud-monitoring tools and comply with Level 1 PCI DSS security standard.

4- Verification Measures

When customers sign up to an eCommerce website, they need to enter their information. The problem is, you can’t be sure of the information you get, the credibility of the customers is questionable.

Solution: Validation emails will do the trick. All you have to do is send out email messages to customers to validate their identities. And when a purchase is made, the customer should receive a call to confirm the delivery address.

5– Delay in communication

Customers enjoy assistance before, during, and after they make a purchase. This is where brick and mortar businesses exceed eCommerce. Online shopping makes customer service harder as there’s no instant or direct line of communication.

Solution: Have a clear FAQs page where customers can find all the answers they need. Sizing charts are very important as well, they help your customers choose pieces that fit them perfectly. Offer a proper ticketing system with 24-hour customer support.

Success takes time, in eCommerce it usually takes double the time so you need to be very patient. Setting up your website and maintaining it will consume a lot of your time and effort, so be prepared for that. The good news is we are happy to help you in any way we can.