Gift Cards That Cause Unhappy Customers

November 21, 2007 by  
Filed under Design & Usability

ecommerce gift cardsI was shopping on the Internet recently at a major online retailer and was dumbfounded to find the assumptions they were making on behalf of their customers.

I had no problems finding the items I needed. I also had no problems adding them to my cart or for that matter. In fact, I liked the way the site was working up to the point of the checkout process.

However, it was there (one of the most critical elements of the purchase process) that I ran into problems.

Problems that should not exist in any e-commerce website. Problems that were present because the company was thinking from the seller’s perspective when it should be thinking from the buyers perspective.

It can be wrapped up into something called the customer experience and their approach was no doubt causing some unhappy and confused customers — myself included.

Say Goodbye to Experience

I have been working on the Internet for over 12 years now and currently spend most of my waking time doing so. I analyze and work with e-commerce sites daily to help them cultivate ways to increase conversion. I’ve built numerous shopping carts, personally written thousands of programs, and worked with many others. Moving through sites has become second nature.

Yet, even with that experience, I found myself completely frustrated and lost during their checkout — specifically with regard to how they handle gift cards.

In fact, I actually called a support number (one more reason why I say you should always include a very visible customer service number on your website) to find out how to complete the checkout!

Now, I am probably one of the few that actually does this (calls customer service when I could simply leave the site and go to my local brick and mortar store). I only did it because I just had to find out why they were doing what they were doing, and clear myself of the thought that I suddenly “forgot” how to shop on the internet.

The Mysterious Gift Card

The sticking point during checkout was a gift card that was purchased at one of the brick and mortar stores for the chain. It could be used online or on the Internet.
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Customer Surveys Reveal Holes in the Dam

November 13, 2007 by  
Filed under Marketing Strategies

DamIn its simplest form, a dam can be seen a structural system that controls water.

It can stop water completely, or it can be opened up to allow water to flow through in a controlled manner.

Although simple in nature, the dam is made up of many different complex systems. All systems work together as a single unit to achieve one task — control the flow of water.

Periodically, as with all complex systems, the dam needs to be inspected for potential risks that may present problems down the road. If found, these “risk areas” should be addressed before they become a real problem.

For example, if not found and corrected, a single hole in the dam could very quickly turn into an out of control emergency.

E-Commerce Websites are a lot Like Dams

Your website can be thought of in much the same way as a dam. It is simple in concept, yet contains an array of complex system that work together as a single unit, controlling the flow of traffic through it to achieve a desired goal — generate sales. A hole in any one system can jeopardize the entire outcome.

Water is the Lifeline to Survival

Remember, a dam controls water. In a website, traffic is your “water”. Your traffic contains both visitors and customers (customers actually buy, visitors just look). Whereas a dam controls water, your website should control traffic. Properly controlling that traffic will become the lifeline to your ultimate success.

How to Find the Holes in Your Website

If you were managing a dam, you would probably send out inspectors to analyze, take notes, gather data, and report on the integrity and stability of the structure.

But you’re not. You’re managing and running an e-commerce website. So, who do you periodically send out to gather and report data back to you? You send out “Inspector Survey.”
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Cyber Monday Marketing Ideas for 2007

We all know the day after Thanksgiving – dubbed Black Friday, is considered one of the busiest shopping days of the year. It marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season in the United States.

Well, back in 2005, Shop.org coined the phrase Cyber Monday as the first Monday following Thanksgiving.

Since that time online retailers have realized the sales potential of this busy e-commerce shopping day when many users are searching the internet looking for the best deals on merchandise to fill their holiday wish lists.

Cyber Monday marks the first major increase in online holiday spending as people go back to work after the Thanksgiving weekend and begin to think about how to get a jump on their holiday shopping. What a better place to do it than online while at their computer.

Cyber Monday Sales Forcast

During 2006, ComScore Networks reported Cyber Monday sales rose 25% versus the previous year to around $608 million. 2007 hopes to see more of the same.

Although there are other days of the holiday shopping season which see traditionally have seen more sales, this internet shopping day gets most of the attention. It provides increased buying power for consumers along with increased sales opportunity for merchants and is a time of the year that shouldn’t be overlooked.

So, with millions being spent online and the holidays quickly approaching, what can you do to help increase sales from your online store during Cyber Monday?

Here are a few Marketing Tips for Cyber Monday

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