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Universal Laws of E-commerce

Can you name some?

     
3:21 pm on Jul 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I can think of two:

1) With our commerce sites sales plummet for a few days around and especially on every holiday. Christmas is the worst... 70% traffic and sales drop. Thanksgiving and New Years are bad. I'm pretty sure this effect applies to nearly all online shopping.

2) All orders from "certain" African countries are fraudulent.

Can you name some other laws of e-commerce?

5:26 pm on July 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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3) Even if you are the only store on the web selling purple widgets with green spots; a significant percentage of users who find your website using the search query "where can I buy purple widgets with green spots online" will still not buy from you.
5:32 pm on July 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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4) The first order your new e-store gets ends with a chargeback.
6:06 pm on July 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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With our commerce sites sales plummet for a few days around and especially on every holiday. Christmas is the worst... 70% traffic and sales drop. Thanksgiving and New Years are bad. I'm pretty sure this effect applies to nearly all online shopping.

We get the opposite effect - ie our sales rise during public holidays, particularly those in the winter. We're selling an online service; my best guess is that some people go mess with their computer to avoid their relatives. ;)

best, a.

6:24 pm on July 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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IMHO: take credit cards personally
6:34 pm on July 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Orders from anywhere that wasn't part of NATO in the 80's is fraud.
8:55 pm on July 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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If somebody orders 3 sizes/colors/kinds of the same product. Two are coming back.
9:11 pm on July 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Unless thoroughly tested (by others), your checkout procedures
can stop more sales than the competition. -Larry
9:22 pm on July 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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A 1% increase in conversion could double your sales while a 1% increase in traffic is a blip on the radar.
11:55 pm on July 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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In no particular order

i. Beware competitive bidding on keywords during the Holidays as a lot of dumb money pours in.

ii. Not all traffic is created (sourced) equal

iii. The higher the ticket item, the more prone to scams. In other words, verify, verify, verify!

iv. virtual stores are no less complicated and costly to run than brick and mortar establishments

12:02 am on July 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

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How about Pareto's Principle (the famous 80-20 rule)applying to e-commerce as it does to so much else? Its core idea is that a few things are vital; many things are trivial.

For example: 20% of our products account for 80% of our revenue and profits. 20% of our advertising generates 80% of our profits. 20% of our customers cause 80% of our headaches.

Sometimes it seems more like a 5%-95% ratio.

---
<b> and yes, focus on conversion, not traffic</b>

8:22 am on July 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Christmas is the worst... 70% traffic and sales drop.

However, the 8 weeks before Christmas are great. Make sure you have some Christmas marketing tactics available and aim to convert. Off course, make sure you are ready for it.

Other than that:
- Your website is your store; make SURE that everything works properly and that you have everything installed to make a trustworthy company.

- Aim for your niche market; it is no use to aim for visitors searching widgets, if you only sell green widgets with blue dots.

3:51 pm on July 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Be reliable or you will end up having unhappy customers.
10:06 pm on July 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

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The easiest (most profitable) way to generate more sales is to leverage your existing customer base.

Focus on getting people coming back is as much if not more important than aquiring new customers.

Collect emails and EMAIL THEM! It works.

10:25 pm on July 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Speed is good.
10:29 pm on July 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Recommended reading: *Closing the sale*

Google for it, read it, understand it, adjust it to the internet and *giggle* all the way to the bank...

The trick is to UNDERSTAND it!

If you are not a sales person, dont sell! If you are not a cook dont cook! If you are not a sailor dont sail! (hopefully, you get the picture)

Being a webmaster with profound SEO knowledge does not necessarily mean you can sell. You may want to hire a sales person.

12:00 pm on July 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Don't sell anything you wouldn't feel good about buying yourself.

Don't try to compete with Wally Mart. Create a niche for yourself, something that no one else has.

ABE - Always Be Expanding.:)

Give each widget its own page with an in-depth description and picture.

1:35 pm on July 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I used to ring customers with big(ish) orders to confirm that their order was on the way.

Part of my conversation would be to drop that

A: The products we sell are exclusive to the UK

B: So whats selling in Canada/USA etc at this time of year?

More often than not they'd be pleased to chat with a Brit and SOMETIMES give me useful info on products.

6:34 pm on July 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

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1) People on the internet will frequently buy the first item they can find, regardless of price, as long as it is a price they are willing to pay.

2) Pictures are worth much more than words ever will be but only if they have to do with what you are selling.

3) You buy/cart button should be big and a color that pops off the screen. Pretty does not cut it here, people. It doesn't have to be ugly, but if your buy button matches your site colors, you have a 90% chance it is not doing the job it should.

4) People shopping on the web are looking for 3 things, Is this the item I want to buy, Is this the price I am willing to pay, How the heck do I buy this. If your site is not answering these questions within 5 seconds of them landing on the page, they have already left.

5) Ecommerce is not sex (I am borrowing this one from "Web pages that suck"). You do not have to get your customers in the mood to buy. Cutsy themes, letting your graphic designer create her peice de resistance or your marketer try his "brilliant" new branding strategy is a bad idea.

7:31 pm on July 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Your customer parcel will arrive at his/her door, 5 minutes after they phone for a tracking request.

Even if you give tracking numbers to the customer, they will expect you to phone FEDEX or UPS to track the parcel, or to hold their hand for every little shipping glitch, until their parcel arrives.

The smaller the order, the more the customer will complain if anything goes wrong.

8:49 pm on July 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

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1. Displaying related items to products will increase your sales.
2. Some customer won't buy online. They need a warm body to speak with.
10:22 am on July 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

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make navigation easy.
10:32 am on July 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

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>> Speed is good.
Reliability is better
4:11 pm on July 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

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With few exceptions:

1) Site with lowest prices is usually owned by an newbie/idiot.

2) Site waving "free shipping" around is usually owned by a lazy newbie/idiot (that's the only gimmick he can come up with, and its an expensive one)

3) Sites with high prices are usually owned by businessmen with considerable experience, usually going back long before the web.

4) Sites with insane low prices will probably be out of business (or heavily modified) within a year or two.

6:34 pm on July 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

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>>2) Site waving "free shipping" around is usually
>>owned by a lazy newbie/idiot (that's the only
>>gimmick he can come up with, and its an expensive
>>one)

nonsense - it's a good way to boost sales - just add the cost of shipping onto the cost of the products and it doesn't cost a penny

people love it when you give something away as a freebie - almost anything will do ........

10:38 pm on July 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

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If you add the cost of shipping to the cost of your items, you ensure that your per item prices will be higher than many of your competitors who charge shipping. I think it is better just to be fair about the shipping and to tell people exactly what kind of shipping they get for their money.
1:00 am on July 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Shipping is expensive, hard work. Errors occur. Sometimes it is the hardest part of selling online. Bags/boxes/tape etc are expensive, real costs. I want to be paid fairly for shipping. Heck, we're lucky to break even after charging for it.

Free shipping--in my opinion--was a brain-dead gimmick that publicly traded Dot Coms resorted to in the 90s to make their Wall Street figures to shore up their stock price. It had nothing to do with smart retailing; the execs made money dumping shares. Some Dot Coms probably capitalized free shipping rather than properly expensing it. Amounted to borrowing from the future. Customers quickly learned to expect it.

2:23 am on July 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

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>>If you add the cost of shipping to the cost of your
>>items, you ensure that your per item prices will be
>>higher than many of your competitors who charge
>>shipping.

people don't buy purely on lowest price
when something that appears to cost 10 suddenly has shipping and/or tax added, it's a major deterrent - shoppers will often go elsewhere
and when comparing prices, they'll remember the one all-inclusive price more easily than they'll remember the price + the shipping (and possibly + tax)
even if they do remember this, they remember it as 3 amounts, which seems more complex than 1 amount (it's a fact of life that 50% of people are below average intelligence ......)

>>Free shipping--in my opinion--was a brain-dead
>>gimmick ..... It had nothing to do with smart
>>retailing;

gimmick? yes, definitely - but gimmicks work
smart retailing? yes, definitely

IMO, FREE is the most valuable word in sales - people love FREE

1:19 pm on July 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

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"people don't buy purely on lowest price"

I agree absolutely. And that goes for shipping as well.

My theory is that many people (not all) shop as a process rather than as a way of acquiring a particular item (even when they end up buying that particular item). Shopping means having money and being able to make a choice, and people like prolonging that feeling. So I do as much as I can to make their shopping process at my store aesthetically pleasing, generally informative, and reassuring that they have made the right choice of business because they can see I am knowledgeable about what they are buying. I want them to feel like they are actually in some tiny little shop like in the first Harry Potter movie. (At least one writer has theorized that the Harry Potter movies reflect our culture's keen interest in shopping).

In my experience, when people get what they want from the shopping experience they have at your store, they are okay about paying for shipping. The only ones I have had who have complained about shipping prices have been people who come to buy one thing specifically and have no interest in either shopping as a process or buying anything else from me. This has happened a handful of times. Many of these people have been convinced that shipping should cost the amount of a stamp. One actually told me he would buy one item if the shipping was $1.00. I don't want people like this as my customer base.

Now it's true that I am sure I am losing some customers who go around looking for free shipping. But I am not interested in customers who want cheap. My stuff is above average in price because most of it is hard to find or unique. You want a deal, you go elsewhere.

I do give people free samples when they buy more than a certain amount, but I don't promise that in advance. I just do it.

1:40 pm on July 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

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but I don't promise that in advance.

You should. It is a nice way to push up your AOV.

Free shipping isn't nessecerily a bad idea. If it used properly. It is a great gimick for getting a customer to complete a purchase during crunch times, like xmas. It is also a wonderful re-activation tool.

People buy from different sites for many different reasons, almost as many reasons as you have customers. There are plenty of people who will buy from a site soley based on a free shipping promotion. Other will buy based on the quality of the information provided. No one should sneer at anyone who targets any one type of customer There are niches that can all be tapped.

The only stupid thing any ecomm merchant can do in regards to specials/promotions/gimicks is to write off a promotion before they have tested it themselves. If you provide any sort of special service, whether a free shipping promotion or a free gift or whatever, you should test that service against not offering. You may find it helps to offer it, you made find it does nothing, you may even find it hurts your sales. Test, test, test. DO NOT ASSUME, ASSUME, ASSUME.

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