Monthly Archives: July 2012

Google Product Search Data – Do’s and Don’ts

Steve Burns Posted On - July 30, 2012

Google Product Search Data – Do’s and Don’ts
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Getting high visibility on Google product search involves running an obstacle course across the various specifications that Google has laid down for product feeds. Adhering to them is essential for ensuring that your products appear as of the search result in Google. Listed below are the recent Google Specifications changes.

1.    When you have products that have multiple configurations or attributes, you need individual entries for each set of combinations. Earlier it was enough to submit a single entry for a product like a Nike Shoe. Assuming that the Nike shoe had three color variants and three sizes, an online merchant seeking visibility for his products in this category must submit 9 different specifications of data in their product feed.

2.    You must categorize your products using Google’s categorization (Google calls it Taxonomy) under the element “google_product_category”. Just providing your store’s categorization is no longer sufficient. Details of Google’s taxonomy are to be found here: http://www.google.com/support/merchants/bin/answer.py?answer=160081  You can put your own categorization under the “product type” element.

3.    You must include “condition” and “availability” information.

4.    Products that are categorized ( for example) Apparel in Google’s Taxonomy must carry the following attributes – Gender, Age Group, Size, Color and Brand.

5.    Google now places more weight-age on social signals and so you must include your product review average rating. If you are not presently accepting product rating, this is the time to review your stance.

6.    All products must include a picture ( Image_link) as per Google’s new requirements. Google will reject all feeds that use a placeholder ( like your or your manufacturers logo, or a coming soon image.)

7.    When your products have multiple images, Google requires merchants to specify the “additional_image_ link” in your data feed.

8.    It is absolutely imperative that you include “unique identifier information” in your feed. Unique identifiers include UPC, ISBN, and MPN along with a brand name. The moot point is that the more unique identifier you provide, the better it is for your feed. You can find additional information related to this point by accessing the following link: http://www.google.com/support/merchants/bin/answer.py?answer=160161

We recommend that you log on to your Google Merchant Center over the coming days to make sure that your product data are being fed correctly. A comprehensive list of Google’s feed specifications can be found here: http://www.google.com/support/merchants/bin/answer.py?answer=1346661
IF you follow these Google instructions to the “T” your online marketing will benefit from greater visibility and you will better your visibility and achieve your results.

For ChannelSale Customers:

If you are a ChannelSale customer, or intend to become one, these specifications will be met by our internal feed mapping specialized team that optimizes your feed right upto individual field and sku level. Our ChannelSale team regularly updates the requirements and ensures that all our client’s data feed meets these requirements. So you benefit from high visibility without having to do the grunge work. ChannelSale offers a platform that enables you to send your feeds to multiple E commerce websites with the additional benefits of analytics that show where you succeed and where you didn’t. It offers online merchants a managed solution that removes all the technicalities of online marketing. By taking the grunt work off your shoulder, it enables you to focus on the actual selling campaign, special offers and promotions. Click here : www.channelsale.com to visit the website and view its features.

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Ensure better Customer Service online with a To Do list of 25 things

Steve Burns Posted On - July 11, 2012

Ensure better Customer Service online with To Do list of 25 things
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1. Offer discount coupon or small tester product to the customer provided he signs up for your newsletter. Think of it as buying loyalty and getting the customer used to receiving a product from you. Call it a virtual sale for yourself.

2. Encourage people who visit your site to write reviews – reward those who do with a discount coupon or some other freebie.

3. Offer same day shipping for customers who are in a hurry to get their products.

4. Offer promotional coupons in your e mailer campaigns – people always like to get something for less.

5. Offer to gift wrap products for the customer.

6. Offer gift cards to your customers so that they can recommend your site to others

7. Encourage people to become product testers – wherein they get the products free from your site and they go on to write about it and your site in their blog – which link back, to your website.

8. Start a twitter and face book page and promote it on your site so as to share information about deals on your website and get customer feedback.

9. Display testimonials and positive reviews on your homepage

10. Make a special offer – Deal of the week or Deal of the day

11. Create a best seller section and list most popular products there.

12. Offer live chat support to shoppers – it is always better that customers can reach out and speak to your support staff.

13. Display your complete contact information in the contact us page. There is nothing more irritating that reaching the contact us page and facing a form where you have to input information for a query.

14. If you have received any awards or recognition, present it proudly in the home page – let the world know how good you are.

15. Start a forum where customers can speak about your products and services – you will be amazed how much you can learn from them.

16. Offer coupons for reviews – they will serve you well in terms of SEO.

17. Minimize the stages of your shopping cart so that it is seamless and quick

18. Display shipping costs during the early stages of the transaction so that it does not come as a rude surprise during the check out.

19. Plan free shipping days to promote more conversions

20. Invest in good search capabilities on your site – customers who cannot quickly find the product they are searching for will seldom continue to dwell on your site.

21. Conduct a Review Contest with winners getting cash prizes. It is a great way to encourage people to write about your product range.

22. Offer similar or complementary products just below the customer’s choice so that they can decide to buy products that work well together.

23. Stretch the time your call center is operational so as to cater to the very early and late shoppers.

24. Have a clear return policy and display it prominently. If you can increase your return time so that customers can shop with complete confidence that you will accept the product back if not 100% satisfied.

25. Run a promotion, wherein a certain percentage of the taking is earmarked for charity.

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How to minimize Shopping cart abandonment

Steve Burns Posted On - July 1, 2012

How to minimize Shopping cart abandonment
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You have spent hundreds, perhaps thousands of dollars trying to attract the customer to your website – you had it SEO optimized, you ran an ad words campaign, you communicated through direct mail etc. The result – Lo and behold, the paying customer, is on your site and is browsing through the products on offer. Hush! Let’s observe him – there, he has clicked the shopping cart – now his wallet share is almost ours!

The Word is ALMOST.

Statistics show that as many as 50% of the people who reach the shopping cart stage of an online transaction become dropouts and abandon the transaction. That lost sale opportunity makes a serious difference to your bottom-line. It is a situation that you should avoid at all costs.

Attracting customer attention, promoting his interest in your product line, creating desire for your product, is just the beginning – it should end in the customer paying online.

What are the reasons for shopping cart abandonment? Let’s investigate it and find out practical ways to ensure completion of the shopping cart experience. First let us take care of the obvious things – that should be in order. These are almost hygiene factors for an online merchant.

Make sure these are not true for you site:

• Offering products at high prices

• Poor variety

• Poor navigation

• Inability to quickly find what customer seeks

• Long wait for page refresh and display

• Feeling of being in an insecure payment environment

• Inadequate return policy

• High shipping fees

• Additional, hidden charges revealed to the customer at checkout

If your site does not suffer from these lacunae, then investigate other possible reasons for shopping cart abandonment.

Are you serving customers with a sign up page where they have to fill in a lot of details?

That is absolutely the wrong thing to do. When people are in a mood to buy, don’t ask irrelevant questions or present them with long forms to fill. If possible allow your shopping cart process to clock a transaction without making it necessary for the person to sign in. Completing the sale is more important than populating your database.

Is your transaction process multi layered and multi stage?

Reduce the number of steps that a person has to undertake before he completes the purchase. The lower the number of stages, the better it is for the shopper. Once a person is interested in buying, he should quickly be made to part with his money. That is the fundamental rule in online commerce. So analyze your checkout process and reduce or pare down unnecessary stages.

Are you asking a lot of personal questions online?

The devil they say is in the details – are you getting too detail oriented? Are you asking customers for their ZIP code numbers and then asking them to select the country of origin? Analyze your form and eliminate all unnecessary queries. This will help shorten the check out process and speed your click to cash cycle. Is it absolutely mandatory for you to have client birthdays? Do you need to know their titles, middle names etc? Take the minimum required details during the check out process. A shorter process is a sure way to ensure that the customer is not fatigued and prompted to abandon the shopping cart.

Make sure your customer is not lost in the checkout process

Imagine working for hours on a document and then finding that you forgot to save it? There is this feeling of desperate rush when you realize your efforts have come to naught. Customers feel the same way when they have painstakingly filled up your form – only to find that it is lost because they pressed the wrong button. Now that, they have to repeat the process right from the beginning, they might decide to postpone the purchase – result – abandoned shopping cart. Make sure that there is a straight forward process flow and the customer is not led astray during the checkout process. Ensure there are no buttons that lead him astray.

Are you giving customers a sense of security?

Swiping credit cards online is a task that is fraught with risks in the mind of the customer who has read about online frauds. They are unlikely to complete the purchase if they feel something is not right about the environment. Make sure that your branding and logos are prominent on all pages during the transaction. They should feel they are paying you – if customers feel they are lead to a third party environment, they may shy away from revealing their credit card details.

Reassure them about the secure environment you provide by confirming that they are working on a secure server. Use HTTPS and ensure that the check out process notifies the customer of this fact. If your transaction environment is protected by any agency, announce it.

These are all feel good factors that will assuage the customer’s suspiciousness.

If all else fails, then chase the dropouts

Let’s say you have done everything mentioned in this blog, and you still find that customers are dropping out of the shopping cart process. You can rejig your shopping cart to inform you when someone has dropped out during the check out process. It could happen for a variety of reasons – the customer’s computer may have crashed, they might have received an important phone call that distracted them- etc. No problems- send them an e mail reassuring them of the safety and the comfort of the transaction and prompt them back to the check out screen!

Finally, – it is as important to constantly site conversion tactics and actions as it is to add to your product list and make special offers.

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