Finally, Online Shopping With Friends

Don’t you just love shopping with friends? I do. I love getting opinions from them about what items of clothing look good on me, what would be considered a good value, what would
make a great gift and so on. When shopping with friends, I bet I also spend
more.

Don’t you just love shopping with friends? I do. I love getting opinions from them about what items of clothing look good on me, what would be considered a good value, what would
make a great gift and so on. When shopping with friends, I bet I also spend
more.

That’s why I was
interested in a new, free widget called Shoplication
that I received a press release about recently.
Placed in the checkout areas of
online retailers’ websites, the widget — which says, “Shop With Friends”
— enables shoppers who click on it to shop and share products with their
friends in real time. And online retailers can drive more sales.
The widget is the brainchild of Josh Bochner, CEO of Boston-based FriendShopper, a social platform that allows web shoppers to chat with their friends while shopping. The chat function docks to the right side of browsers to create an interactive shopping environment, and the dialogue feature allows users to converse and share with multiple friends simultaneously.

To use the tool, shoppers add the FriendShopper bookmark into their browsers’ toolbars, surf any
online storefronts and click the bookmark button whenever they find items
they’d like to save or share with friends.

The Shoplication widget takes this experience to the e-tailer.

Here’s how the widget
works: After FriendShopper members click on the Shoplication widget, they see a
pop-up featuring that product’s data that can be used to save the item, share
it with friends or both. If they’re currently shopping with a FriendShopper
member, that product data is added to the conversation. Users can also share
the online merchant’s store with FriendShopper friends by clicking the
“Add New Store.”

If consumers who aren’t members click on the widget, they see a co-branded pop-up window that
says the online retailer’s store has partnered with FriendShopper to bring them
a new shopping experience. Consumers can then sign up. Then they’re offered the
option to have the item be discussed in their “My Items” pages so
they can share it with their friends.

There are also some cool search options available for retailers. When they add the
widget to their sites, for example, they’re listed on the FriendShopper portal.

I thought this was a great way to allow friends to shop together and help online retailers expand
their reaches.
What do you think?

What Mom’s Thinking About Back-to-School Shopping

If you’re in online marketing today, you’re probably interested in how moms are shopping online, right?

If you’re in online marketing today, you’re probably interested in how moms are shopping online, right?

Moms have become a force to be reckoned with. More than 34 million are online — participating in social networking, researching products, making purchases and absorbing as much information as possible — according to a June 2009 report from eMarketer. And most marketers realize that mothers are usually the key decision makers for family purchases. The activities they participate in across the web influence household purchases greatly.

As a mother myself, I can tell you that I pull out all the stops when it comes to spending money on my kids, regardless of how tough the times may be. So the back-to-school market in particular can take on even greater value during down times like these.

So, what are moms thinking about back-to-school shopping? Despite the down economy, few plan to spend less than they did last year on back-to-school purchases, according to a survey of 1,400 mothers of school-age children across the country conducted by Mom Central Consulting, a Newton, Mass.-based social media agency that focuses on marketing to moms.

Findings from the study include the following:
* While 91 percent of moms worry about the expense of back-to-school shopping, only 17 percent anticipate spending less than they did in 2008. Nearly 50 percent anticipate spending much more than last year.
* 40 percent of moms doubt they’ll meet their kids’ expectations in order to save money; 38 percent expect to sacrifice by shopping generic over brand names.
* 92 percent of moms plan to save money by looking for special offers, both offline and online; 80 percent will use coupons, and 74 percent will reuse items from previous years.
* 32 percent of moms also expressed concern over how to balance their kids’ expectations and desires with today’s fiscal realities.

As a result, many moms will pursue shopping strategies like buying in bulk (46 percent) and making purchases at discount retailers like Wal-Mart (61 percent) and Target (57 percent).

Are you doing anything special to reach online moms during this back-to-school season? If so, let us know by posting a comment here.

What Mom’s Thinking About Back-to-School Shopping

If you’re in online marketing today, you’re probably interested in how moms are shopping online, right?

If you’re in online marketing today, you’re probably interested in how moms are shopping online, right?

Moms have become a force to be reckoned with. More than 34 million are online — participating in social networking, researching products, making purchases and absorbing as much information as possible — according to a June 2009 report from eMarketer. And most marketers realize that mothers are usually the key decision makers for family purchases. The activities they participate in across the web influence household purchases greatly.

So, what are moms thinking about back-to-school shopping? Despite the down economy, few plan to spend less than they did last year on back-to-school purchases, according to a survey of 1,400 mothers of school-age children across the country conducted by Mom Central Consulting, a Newton, Mass.-based social media agency that focuses on marketing to moms.

Findings from the study include the following:
* While 91 percent of moms worry about the expense of back-to-school shopping, only 17 percent anticipate spending less than they did in 2008. Nearly 50 percent anticipate spending much more than last year.
* 40 percent of moms doubt they’ll meet their kids’ expectations in order to save money; 38 percent expect to sacrifice by shopping generic over brand names.
* 92 percent of moms plan to save money by looking for special offers, both offline and online; 80 percent will use coupons, and 74 percent will reuse items from previous years.
* 32 percent of moms also expressed concern over how to balance their kids’ expectations and desires with today’s fiscal realities.

As a result, many moms will pursue shopping strategies like buying in bulk (46 percent) and making purchases at discount retailers like Wal-Mart (61 percent) and Target (57 percent).

Are you doing anything special to reach online moms during this back-to-school season? If so, let us know by posting a comment here.

Abandonment Issues

Throughout my 10-plus years covering online marketing and commerce, one nagging issue that’s remained top-of-mind for all in the space has been shopping cart abandonment and how to stop it from happening.

In fact, a survey released by PayPal on June 23 showed that 45 percent of online shoppers abandoned their carts multiple times in the three weeks prior to the survey, which was conducted May 12 to May 15 by comScore. It polled 553 active shoppers who recently had abandoned shopping carts.

Throughout my 10-plus years covering online marketing and commerce, one nagging issue that’s remained top-of-mind for all in the space has been shopping cart abandonment and how to stop it from happening.

In fact, a survey released by PayPal on June 23 showed that 45 percent of online shoppers abandoned their carts multiple times in the three weeks prior to the survey, which was conducted May 12 to May 15 by comScore. It polled 553 active shoppers who recently had abandoned shopping carts.

Another finding: The average value of goods in abandoned shopping carts in the U.S. is $109.

High shipping costs, security concerns and lack of convenience were cited as the main reasons survey respondents abandoned their carts.

Although high shipping costs was cited as the No. 1 reason for cart abandonment, 40 percent of respondents said if they’d known shipping costs up front they might have completed their purchases.

Thirty-seven percent of survey respondents abandoned their carts because they wanted to comparison shop. Another 36 percent didn’t have enough money after shipping and handling charges were added to totals. Twenty-seven percent of respondents who abandoned their carts did so to search for coupons, although a third of those shoppers later returned to the same site to buy. An additional 20 percent purchased the items at brick-and-mortar stores or competitors’ Web sites.

Other reasons shoppers abandon their carts include the following:

  • 26 percent wanted to shop offline;
  • 24 percent couldn’t find preferred pay options;
  • 23 percent said the item was unavailable at checkout;
  • 22 percent couldn’t find customer support; and
  • 21 percent were concerned about the security of credit card data.

While this information may not solve your abandoned shopping cart problems, maybe it will give you some ideas as to how to improve them. If you make customer service easy to find on your site, for example, your abandonment rates may go down.

This is an excellent topic for an open dialogue. Have any of you seen improved shopping cart abandonment rates based on a strategy or technique you’ve implemented? If so, let us know by leaving a comment here. We’d love to hear from you!

Retailers Need to Step Up Online Shopping Experiences for Consumers

The impact of identity theft and a fear of online shopping caused retailers to miss out on $21 billion in online sales in 2008, according to a recently released study by Javelin Strategy & Research, which was co-sponsored by eBillme and First Data.

That’s a whole lot of lost revenue, which could’ve been avoided had retailers paid a little closer attention to online customer service. Check out these other figures:

The impact of identity theft and a fear of online shopping caused retailers to miss out on $21 billion in online sales in 2008, according to a recently released study by Javelin Strategy & Research, which was co-sponsored by eBillme and First Data.

That’s a whole lot of lost revenue, which could’ve been avoided had retailers paid a little closer attention to online customer service. Check out these other figures:

  • 12 percent of fraud victims no longer shop online;
  • 25 percent said the frequency of their online purchases has decreased; and
  • 19 percent said they now spend less money when shopping online.

What’s more, just 45 percent of consumers are satisfied with their online shopping experiences — especially when it comes to on-time arrivals and quality expectations.

Online customer service is tricky stuff, and there’s still plenty to learn and lots of room for improvement. Here are the study’s top five motivating factors that would convince consumers to shop more frequently:

  • assurance that information is being processed securely (83 percent);
  • offering zero liability against identity theft (81 percent);
  • stronger security at the store Web site (80 percent);
  • a guarantee that the purchase will match quality expectations (80 percent); and
  • a guarantee for the best price online (79 percent).

The survey also included the following findings:

  • Of consumers surveyed, 39 percent believed online stores would sell their information, and 50 percent believed they would receive junk mail and spam if they shop online. To address these concerns, retailers need to clearly communicate their data privacy policies.
  • 40 percent of online identity theft victims now only purchase from well-known sites such as Amazon.com. By highlighting security and customer service commitments, smaller retailers can counteract this trend.

So online retailers beware: Consumers are still very concerned about how they’re treated with regards to privacy and security. To keep customers happy — and coming back for more —make sure your practices are up-to-speed in this area.

VeriSign Promotes Internet Video Starring “Cart Whisperer” at AOTA Summit

Saw a clever viral marketing campaign today at the AOTA Summit.

The creative campaign, from VeriSign, a provider of Internet infrastructure for the networked world, is called ‘The Cart Whisperer, and offers a humorous take on abandoned shopping carts.

Saw a clever viral marketing campaign today at the AOTA Summit.

The creative campaign, from VeriSign, a provider of Internet infrastructure for the networked world, is called ‘The Cart Whisperer, and offers a humorous take on abandoned shopping carts.

The campaign centers around a video that chronicles Liberty Fillmore, a man with unusual communication skills that allows him to “rescue” an abandoned shopping cart from a weed-choked parking lot and lead it back home to a shopping center. Filmed with the single-camera look of today’s reality TV shows, the videos plays off the recent popularity of the television programs “Ghost Whisperer” and “Dog Whisperer”. The video can be viewed at www.nomoreabandonedcarts.com. The Web site also includes photos, a fictional bio about Liberty, downloads and poems.

The video way shown at the opening of the Authentication and Online Trust Alliance Summit 2008, which took place June 4 to 5 in Seattle. Flyers promoting the Web site were also available here.

Essentially, the campaign promotes VeriSign’s advanced security technology that provides instantly visible reassurance to consumers using the most popular and latest versions of Web browsers, including Internet Explorer 7 and the latest beta release of Firefox 3.

When consumers using these browsers visit Web sites protected by VeriSign Extended Validation Secure Sockets Layer Certificates, their browser’s address bar turns green, according to a pres release from VeriSign. That green bar signals to consumers they have reached a Web page protected by VeriSign EV SSL Certificates, instead of a convincing impostor page created by identity thieves. Such fraudulent pages are a common tool for e-criminals bent on stealing sensitive personal information, from passwords to Social Security Numbers.

I thought it was effective and fun! Check it out.