Tech Guest Viewpoint: Four Essentials of E-Commerce Holiday Prep
Talk show host Jimmy Kimmel recently interviewed people who had already finished their 2015 Christmas shopping. And while they might seem like “very, very sick people,” as Kimmel put it, in the e-commerce world they would be behind schedule. If you haven’t started prepping your online store for the holidays, it’s beyond time to get rolling. Here are four essentials of ecommerce holiday prep:
1. Have Yourself a Mobile Little Christmas
If you aren’t 100% mobile by the holidays, your stockings are going to be empty this year. Mobile apps and websites are a big factor in the holiday shopping process. According to Custora, 26% of ecommerce sales came from mobile devices between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday 2014. That’s a 20% increase from the previous year.
What does it mean to be ‘mobile’? If you’re regular customers have to fill out a 10-page questionnaire on their smartphone just to buy Aunt Carol a new bathrobe, you failed. ‘Mobile’ means one-tap buying.
2. Don’t Let The Grinch Steal Christmas
Fraudsters are going to make off with quite a few Christmas gifts if your website doesn’t have fraud protections. No, they won’t have a change of heart like the Grinch. In 2014, LexisNexis found that large ecommerce companies lost 0.85% of their revenue to fraud and paid $2.62 per dollar of online fraud and $3.34 per dollar of mobile fraud. In the U.S. alone, Card Not Present (CNP) fraud losses are projected to grow from $3.1 billion this year to $6.4 billion in 2018.
At the very least, question and verify suspicious and large orders, then blacklist buyers who turn out to be fakes. Truthfully, your best option is to use software that automatically identifies and prevents payment fraud, account fraud and account takeovers.
3. Grandma Got Run Over by Black Friday Shoppers
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are proof that holiday shoppers are nutty about deals. Instead of letting Grandmas get trampled, offer them digital coupons they can use online. Nearly one-quarter (23.9%) of smartphone owners planned to use coupons for their holiday shopping in 2014, so do not make coupons codes excessively long and hard to enter on a smartphone.
To make your coupons effective, create a sense of urgency. You can set a redemption deadline or even run a 24-hour sale a la Amazon Prime Day. Don’t be stingy; discount the gifts that people actually want to buy. As Amazon learned the hard way, deals on beard growers, bunion regulators and dishwashing detergent do not make happy customers.
4. Santa Claus is Coming to (Every) Town
When it’s time for Christmas, online shoppers are more than willing to buy cross-border for the right gifts. In fact, 82% of shoppers have made a cross-border purchase online. To accommodate international shoppers, you need to offer local languages, currencies and payment options. Ideally, your website should automatically detect he shopper’s location and localize the experience.
During the holiday season, every online store wants to stand out like Rudolph’s red nose, but the competition is intense. More than two-thirds of online shopper abandon their carts, and the holidays are no exception. The choices and deals are endless.
To crank up holiday revenue, you need to guide Santa’s sleigh to your customers, no matter what device they use or which country they live in. Do that, and maybe you’ll go down in history, too.
Ralph Dangelmaier is CEO at BlueSnap.
Starbucks deal costs Square
There are no sure things in business – not even a partnership with Starbucks.
In paperwork filed for a planned IPO, Square revealed that since launching an agreement to process back-end mobile transactions for Starbucks in October 2012 (the coffee chain did not adopt Square reader hardware), it has recorded $309.8 million in revenue but $380.4 million in processing costs.
That adds up to a $56 million loss. The deal never really worked out the way Square had hoped. Although Starbucks invested $25 million in Square, the retailer did not provide the expected publicity for Square, and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz initially joined the Square board but resigned in October 2013.
The real blow to Square came in December 2014, when Starbucks said it would stop accepting mobile payments via the Square Wallet or Square Order apps for in-store purchases, in favor of the proprietary Starbucks mobile app. Square has still been providing back-end mobile payment processing (and losing money doing so).
Square said it will not renew the Starbucks partnership when it expires in the third quarter of 2016. The company also said that as of November of this year, Starbucks will be allowed to select a new mobile payment processor if it chooses.
Interestingly, the Starbucks deal is not the only potential liability Square mentioned in its IPO. The company also warned investors that the status of CEO Jack Dorsey, who recently accepted the position of CEO at Twitter, could be an issue.
“Jack Dorsey, our co-founder, president, and CEO, also serves as CEO of Twitter,” said the filing. “This may at times adversely affect his ability to devote time, attention, and effort to Square.”
Dorsey is also a co-founder and original CEO of Twitter, but stepped down as CEO to become chairman of the board in 2008. He helped found Square in 2010. Dorsey has reinvested 20% of his Square equity back into the company to demonstrate his commitment to investors.
In the filing, Square said that during the first half of 2015, it had revenue of $560.6 million and a loss of $77.6 million.
Survey: Millennials prefer supportive, fun loyalty programs
A new survey from Colloquy is highlighting some of the differences between millennial consumers and other demographics when it comes to loyalty programs. Some 34% of millennials say the word “fun” is the one that best describes their participation, compared to 26% of the general population.
But from the survey, it would seem that millennials — 63% of whom have joined a new progam in the last year — are really after a loyalty program that rewards them — whether that’s exclusive sales and offers, health and wellness, sustainability efforts or events. Sixty-three percent of the millennials surveyed said that it’s important for their rewards program to support their lifestyle preferences, higher than the 53% of Gen X respondents and 46% of baby boomers who said the same thing.
“Millennials aren’t simply you in a time warp. Yes, you were once their age, but that doesn’t mean you understand their needs,” Colloquy Research Director Jeff Berry said. “Millennials have dramatically different ideas about consumerism and loyalty than other demographics.”
And though millennials require a new approach, that’s not to say they’re interested in being inundated with communications that don’t apply to them, or that they’re interested in backward-looking programs. Almost half (49%) of millennials ended their participation in a loyalty program after receiving irrelevant communication, versus 37% of the total population. But 27% stayed with a program that incorporated a game or social element — something that only 7% of baby boomers care about.
Additionally, if a retailer wants their loyalty program to succeed, it might be beneficial to include a mobile payment option, which is a reason for 42% of millennials respondents to stay the course.
“Prioritize experiences over economic gains, because millennials love to try new things,” Barry said. “And gamify everything.”