It’s that time again: Change your copyright date!

Update your copyright date every year!

It’s a pet peeve of mine: visiting an e-commerce web site and their copyright date is from last year – or even worse, it’s from 4 or 5 years ago. To me, that’s the sign of a web site that is not ‘fresh’ or updated. Certainly Google and the other search engines are paying attention as well.

Some software platforms will automatically update the copyright date on your website for you at the stroke of midnight on 12/31 each year, but there are still many others that it is a manual task. However, just because it’s a manual task doesn’t mean that it should be overlooked. Take a second now and look at the bottom of your web site in the footer. What does it say? If it doesn’t say Copyright 2012 – it’s time to change it.

Written by Pat

Top 6 Reasons for E-Commerce Merchandise Returns

Written by Pat

It’s a cost of doing business and a headache for a lot of online sellers: accepting merchandise returns.

There are valid reasons that we get returned merchandise from our online customers, but there are some times that costly returns can be avoided or prevented.

According to a recent Distribution Center Operations Report from The Supply Chain Consortium and Reverse Logistics: Returns, Refunds and Recalls Hot Topic Report, the top six reasons for customer returns were:

1. The customer ordered incorrect product or size
2. The customer decided the product was not needed or wanted
3. No reason for return given
4. The product did not match the description on the Website or in the catalog
5. The product did not fit the customer’s expectations
6. The company shipped the incorrect product or size

e-commerce shoppers

So, as an e-commerce company, how can you stem the tide of product returns?

At first glance, it would seem that the merchant might be responsible for only #6:

The company shipped the incorrect product or size

This, of course, is generally a clerical error that might be avoided with improved systems and procedures and employee training.

However, there are quite a few steps an e-commerce seller can take to prevent returns based on some of the other reasons that were cited.

How about these reasons?

1. The customer ordered incorrect product or size

4. The product did not match the description on the Website or in the catalog

The number one reason is incorrect product or size and the fourth most popular reason is that the description was not accurate. How can you as an online seller prevent this?

Ask yourself:
How clear and accurate is my description?
How many pictures do I have for each product?
Do the pictures show the product from various angles?
Do the pictures show relative size with a ruler or other measurement of scale?
For clothing items, are there sizing charts available?
Do I link to the sizing charts from the respective product page?
Do I provide measurements?

Another way to avoid having customer returns is to allow customers to leave product reviews.

Besides providing descriptive language that will help the search engines better index your products, reviews left by past customers can help shoppers make the best decision based on their experience. Who better to know that a pair of shoes runs small and to order a half-size up? Or that the orange shown in the picture is just a little bit brighter than the actual color of the purse?

As an e-commerce website, we will always be susceptible to returns, but it is possible to greatly improve your company’s return rate by improvements to your site and product descriptions. These changes will not only lower your merchandise return rate, but provide a boost to your customer satisfaction rate as well.

E-Commerce Shopping Cart Abandonment

written by Cathy, VisibilityUnlimited.com

I was talking to a friend tonight and she mentioned that she had a very high cart abandonment on her website. Experts say that ‘high’ is anything over 20% and if your shopping cart is higher, it would be to your financial interest to figure out why.

So I did a little research and found the reasons for consumer cart abandonment. But the number 1 reason is because of high shipping charges.

Other reasons consumers abandon e-commerce shopping carts are because they want to:

  • compare shopping with other internet shopping sites
  • lack of money to spend
  • research for coupons for your site
  • shop offline
  • you don’t offer their choice of payment
  • out of stock at checkout
  • you do not offer support
  • concern of credit card security
  • Because this is such a wide discussion, today I am only going to talk about high shipping charges. So how do you fix this issue? Well the obvious solution is to adjust your shipping charges. Can you revisit your costs and negotiate a better rate with your shipping company. Crunch your numbers folks, get your shipping charges in line with your competitors. This is a very important step to online selling.

    Another idea is not to surprise your customer with the charges and have an ‘estimate your shipping charges’ program on your main site, so your customer does not go through the troubles of checking out and then realize that the shipping charges are to high. There are programs (or you can have one written), that shows you who left their shopping cart and you can see if you can save the sale with a phone call or email. Check your shopping cart software to see if they offer either option. I have also seen with companies that have pop up boxes that you can offer a % discount after they bail on your site, just to sway the possible customer come back and complete the sale.

    Is FREE shipping expected to consumers? In this economy, it doesnt hurt. Online consumers are not expecting free shipping on every product but they are expecting reasonable shipping charges. You don’t have to offer free shipping for every sale, put a dollar value on it and watch your sales increase.

    Because your e-commerce site is so important to you, have outsiders (family, IMA members, customers) go through your checkout process and let them be brutally honest with what their opinion is, as a consumer, and let them tell you what is wrong. It can only help.

    IMA Announces Feedback Initiative Website

    The Internet Merchants Association recently announced the launch of their new website – LeavingFeedback.com.

    This new website is a Public Service Initiative to give all eBay sellers a one stop link to include in their correspondence with eBay buyers in order to help educate buyers on the effects of eBay’s new feedback system, including DSR’s and neutral feedback.

    From what I can tell, the only education eBay has done to help buyers understand the new feedback system is to include a pop-up when a buyer leaves feedback, that encourages them to leave negative feedback by pointing out the seller can no longer retailiate in kind.  That’s eBay’s kind of buyer education.

    The Internet Merchants Association felt that more education was needed and took the initiative to publish the LeavingFeedback.com site which has been received very positively in the seller community.  IMA is encouraging sellers to include the link in their correspondence with buyers and post it on various sites in order to get it out to the public at large.

    Auctionbytes has picked up on the leavingfeedback.com site and Ina’s blog post can be read here.

    After the site was posted on various eBay boards, IMA was asked permission to have it reposted in Dutch, French and other languages. Several eBay Certified Education Specialists have requested permission to print the site and use it in their classes.   We are pleased to oblige!

    Be Notified When Your Website is Linked To & Indexed

    Wouldn’t it be nice to be automatically notified when your website has a new page indexed in Google, or when someone links to your site? Well this is very easy to do using the Google Alerts Beta! Here are the instructions for setting up a site wide Google index update Alert and a site wide link alert.

    Create an alert for when a page on your site gets indexed:

    1. Go to www.google.com/alerts.
    2. For search terms enter (without quotes) “site:yourdomain.com”.
      1. Make sure you do not use a www or other subdomain.
    3. Select Web as the type.
    4. For “How often” we will select “as-it-happens”. I like this because this tells you exactly when Google is crawling your site!
    5. Enter the email you want the alert sent to.
    6. Click “Create Alert”.
    7. Confirm the alert from the email Google send you and you are set!

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    Advertising – Outside the Box

    There are many ways to advertise a website. The traditional ways are to buy Google Adwords, participate in a link exchange, submit your site to all the search engines, etc. These are all good ways to advertise; however, why not think outside the box?

    We sell swimsuits. We have been brainstorming ways to get the product to the people. Here are some things we have done recently: We had some bling, bling shirts made advertising the site which we give to our favorite people. We bought some tank tops and had this fantastic gal decorate them with rhinestones. We wear them to events where there are sure to be people who will ask about the site.

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