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    Payments, E-commerce and Strategy Professional with +25 years experience managing International Expansions and E-Commerce Projects.

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    Tuesday, July 24, 2018

    What is Outsourced Ecommerce?

    We often get asked about what exactly outsourced ecommerce means, and with good reason. It can be challenging to explain, even when you work in it every day, because it encompasses a lot of interconnected pieces.

    In its simplest terms though, outsourced ecommerce is payment processing PLUS a bunch of complementary features (identified below) that can contribute to your success selling online.
    When you outsource to an ecommerce platform, you plug into a comprehensive solution that can be tailored to your business needs to increase conversions, customer lifetime value and total revenue. Once this customization has been completed, you are free to focus more on your business while your external ecommerce team manages every aspect of your ecommerce day-to-day operations, along with scaling and optimizing your online business.
    To break it down even further, here are some of the key features and benefits that make up an outsourced ecommerce solution.

    Payment Processing

    Simple payment processing can make sense for some start-ups that only want to accept credit cards and a single currency. This involves working directly with payment companies and ensuring compliance with their security and other regulations. But the more payment options and currencies you want to offer your customers, the more complicated it gets.
    When companies scale, the complexities of adding and managing more payments methods, staying compliant with updated regulations and protecting against evolving security threats dramatically increases. With an outsourced ecommerce solution, you only deal with your ecommerce provider who, in turn, works with payment gateways and processors to ensure you have no issues continuing to offer your customers their preferred payment methods.

    Plus Security & Fraud Protection

    Outsourced ecommerce includes PCI compliance so you don’t have to worry about meeting evolving requirements. Additionally, many outsourced ecommerce solutions like RevenueWire include fraud protection to lower the risk of costly chargebacks.

    Plus a Customizable, Fully-Hosted Cart

    Every business is unique. So when it comes to ecommerce, one size will never fit all. That’s why outsourced ecommerce solutions offer cart page templates for businesses to choose from which incorporate ecommerce best practices and can subsequently be customised to mirror your website design. You can also offer discounts, coupons, free trials, cross-sells or upsells within your checkout path to increase conversions and boost your revenue.

    Plus Subscription Billing and Optimization

    For subscription services, outsourced ecommerce can automate the recurring payments and subscription management processes, and includes features to ensure subscriber payment information is automatically kept up-to-date. For payments that do fail, dunning management capabilities are built in to automatically retry the transaction which can greatly improve the number of customers and, ultimately, revenue that you are able to retain.

    Plus International Payments and Tax Management

    Selling online has the advantage of being able to access customers all over the world. While the opportunity is vast, it also adds to the challenge. To get overseas shoppers to buy from you is more difficult than many think. For the best results, you need to have a purchase solution that can intelligently detect where in the world your shopper is and localize their purchase experience in terms of language, currency, support options, local payment types and more. In addition, international taxes can be automatically calculated and remitted on your behalf.
    This is one aspect where outsourced ecommerce solutions can have a dramatic effect on conversions and simplifying your ecommerce process.

    Plus Mobile Optimization

    Sales made using mobile devices continue to grow fast. Add to this the importance search engines like Google are placing on being mobile optimized and it’s clear companies need to ensure their entire mobile ecommerceexperience is easy. Outsourced ecommerce solutions have cart pages that are optimized for mobile to ensure that mobile shoppers don’t abandon their purchase.

    Plus Cart Testing Capabilities

    Successful ecommerce means never being static. You need to consistently test what works best when it comes to converting your customers and what tactics may work at increasing lifetime value. That’s where cart testing can be invaluable so you can test changes to your checkout process.

    Plus Robust Reporting

    Good business decisions need insightful and up-to-date information. Outsourced ecommerce platforms come equipped with multiple reporting options so you can stay on top of key performance indicators (KPIs) to be able to make informed, timely decisions, pinpoint what is working well and what is not, and even increase the value of your firm (investors love metrics).

    Plus Customer Billing Support

    Happy customers are vital for ecommerce businesses. Outsourced ecommerce solutions offer built-in customer management tools and a multi-language billing support team available via phone or email. This allows your internal team more time to ensure your customers’ success with your service.

    Plus Partner Payout Management

    If you work with performance marketers or channel partners, outsourced ecommerce solutions often include partner management, tracking and the ability to automatically calculate and pay out based on their sales performance.

    Plus Getting Up & Running Quickly

    For new products with robust sales targets, getting to market as quickly as possible is essential. And while setting up your own ecommerce platform is possible, it will take a great deal of time and resources that can be better put to use on building your core business.

    Plus Access to Expert Account Management

    Outsourced ecommerce is done by those who live and breath the industry. Outsourced ecommerce platforms are backed up with teams specialized in all aspects of ecommerce from cart optimization to security and fraud mitigation.  

    Wrapping it Up: Keeping Your Ecommerce (and Revenue) Optimized

    If there’s one constant in ecommerce, it’s that everything is always changing. From technology to consumer preferences, security standards, payment methods, tax considerations, regulations and more, keeping on top of it all can very quickly become complex and time-consuming. If you fall behind, you can quickly see your revenue drop because of lower conversions, more failed payments or the loss of payment methods.
    So the answer to what outsourced ecommerce is: it’s payment processing plus a lot of elements that need to come together to optimize your ecommerce success. By outsourcing your ecommerce platform, you can make sure you keep up with the latest technology and best practices while working with a team of experts to ensure your long-term ecommerce success.
    You are in the business of being the best at what you do. That’s why you should be devoting your time to what you do best instead of spending time on building and maintaining your ecommerce platform.

    Monday, February 05, 2018

    How to Convert International Customers with Price Localization



    In international ecommerce, price localization is key. This has been proven in many studies over time. For instance, Profitwell ran an extensive analysis of 50 SaaS companies, and found that those who localized prices experienced up to 30% more growth.

    However, while the importance of localizing prices is clear, it is not always done correctly or completely. What many companies don’t realize is that there are actually three different levels of price localization:
    1. Localized Currency
    2. Localized Pricing
    3. Localized Presentation
    In order to have a truly localized pricing strategy, it is necessary to optimize all three of these levels.

    Localized Currency

    The most straightforward form of price localization is to convert your prices to the local currency.
    Despite its simplicity, just taking this one step can have a significant positive impact on sales. In fact, according to a study by WorldPay, 13% of online shoppers will abandon a purchase if the price is shown in a foreign currency.
    There are three reasons for this.
    The first reason is trust.
    Making an online purchase can seem like a less tangible experience than buying something at a physical store. Because of this, online customers tend to experience a much higher level of “purchase anxiety” and trust is critical to ensuring a completed order.
    Seeing a price displayed in a foreign currency can easily disrupt that trust as customers perceive that lack of effort as an indication that you don’t care about their specific needs and makes them wonder about your returns policy, support and other critical variables in their decision-making process.
    The second reason is psychological familiarity.
    Your international customers are used to thinking in terms of the local currency, and have an intuitive grasp of its value. So, when the price is displayed in their local currency, it is possible for them to instinctively and intuitively understand and assess the product’s price in terms of value they believe the product holds for them. This, in turn, facilitates the purchase process by making it easier for customers to make and get comfortable with their purchase decision.
    The third reason is predictability.
    Exchange rates can experience large fluctuations over time, influencing the true cost of your product for international customers. Pricing in local currencies eliminates that problem for your customers and benefits your company directly by increasing the consistency of international sales.
    This predictability is especially important for recurring purchases. Customers will be extremely reluctant to sign on to a recurring payment plan if they cannot predict how much they will be paying in 6 months’ time.

    Localized Pricing

    Once you have adjusted your pricing to depict your products in the local currency of your customers, the next step in localizing (and optimizing) your prices is to adjust them by geo.
    Countries vary widely in terms of the purchasing power of their residents and their perception of your products’ value. This can be due to economic factors, consumer demand and the availability of competitive vendors. Given these major differences, it doesn’t make much sense to stick to the same price in every single market.
    A Closer Look at Purchasing Power
    Purchasing power refers to the quantity of goods that can be bought by a given unit of local currency — usually set at the equivalent of a single U.S. dollar. The most well-known way of tracking this is The Economist’s Big Mac Index, which compares the price of the iconic McDonald’s burger across the world. The idea is that a homogenous product like the Big Mac is a useful indicator for how far a dollar can go in each country.
    As of July 2017, the price of a Big Mac in Switzerland is $6.74, while you can get the same burger in Ukraine for $1.70. Clearly, if you were selling in both countries, it is unlikely your Ukrainian customers will purchase at the same price as your Swiss customers. If you were interested in maximizing sales in both regions, you would adjust your prices to a level that local customers can realistically afford, and value.
    A Closer Look at Perceived Value
    Apart from these absolute differences in purchasing power, international customers can also differ in the relative perceived value they place on your products. A great case study can be found in the massive Indian video streaming market, where Netflix and Amazon are currently in a fight for dominance.
    While Netflix has opted to go for the high end of the market, charging over $7.50 a month, Amazon Prime is targeting the mass consumer, at a cost of $1.25 per month. But more importantly, Amazon has aggressively invested in local content creation. According to Mumbai-based entertainment industry analyst Jehil Thakkar, this “is going to be the real differentiator” between the services. In December, Amazon announced 17 shows by local content creators, including eight that are already in production. Meanwhile, Netflix only has one (rumored) local show in the works.
    By understanding the limits of local purchasing power and the high perceived value of local content, Amazon has leapfrogged Netflix in the race for the Indian market. According to Amit Aggarwal of Amazon India, Prime memberships grew more than 100% after the launch of Prime Video. And during the annual Diwali sale — India’s version of Black Friday — Prime membership was the most bought item in Amazon India’s entire history.

    Localized Presentation

    The third level of price localization involves adjusting how you present your prices along with all the added-costs to your different geos.
    While this might sound like a minor point, the psychological impact on customers can be significant. Presenting your prices in an appealing way can often mean the differences between a successful sale and an abandoned cart.
    The most common example of this is “charm pricing”, where prices are ended with a .99 or .97 instead of a round number. In his bestselling book Priceless, William Poundstone analyzed this phenomenon, and found that charm pricing boosted sales by up to 24%. A major advantage of differential global pricing is that it lets you use charm prices everywhere, so be sure to take advantage of that.
    Add-on costs are another important aspect of global price presentation. In the Worldpay study referenced above, 56% of customers abandon purchases when the final price includes unexpected costs. These could include shipping, duties and payment processor fees.
    In North America, ecommerce stores simply include these fees in the price on the product page. However, the issue is more complicated in international sales, since each country is likely to have a different mix of add-on costs.
    In addition, customers in some markets might actually prefer a more detailed breakdown of costs, where specific fees are separated from the base product price. This is especially the case when different shipping and payment options have a large impact on the final price, since the added visibility can help customers save money.
    Because of these important nuances, you should design price presentation differently for each one of your international markets.

    The Right Price for your Global Customers

    When done well, price localization can turbo-charge your growth in international markets. Customers will be more likely to trust your company and follow through on their purchase. By considering all three levels of the price localization puzzle, you will position yourself far ahead of the competition.

    Jason Kiwaluk

    Tuesday, January 09, 2018

    What 2018 Has In Store for Ecommerce Companies

    Every year the evolution of ecommerce seems to gain momentum. 2017 was no exception. More and more buying is moving online and total ecommerce sales are expected to top $2.9 trillion worldwide in 2018 – that’s nearly 90% of the GDP of the continent of Africa.
    In addition to the shift in buying behavior from retail-space to cyber-space, technology is constantly changing and it’s a challenge for businesses to stay current. The ever-present risk is that falling behind can be costly.
    If you’re not quick to adapt to changing consumer preferences and the technologies that meet them, you can quickly lose conversions and revenue to competitors that are able to deliver a more responsive, convenient and personalized online shopping and checkout experience. With this in mind, these will be the top ecommerce trends to track in 2018.

    1. Growth Overseas

    While ecommerce growth in Europe and North America continues to clip along at around 8% and 9% respectively, the fastest growing markets are in Asia. Ecommerce is simply bigger with a higher adoption rate in rising economies like Chinaand South Korea. While Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the biggest online shopping days in the U.S., they are dwarfed by China’s Single’s Day.
    The key takeaway here is that if your payment stack is only equipped to sell to your domestic market, you could be missing out on a huge opportunity. Instead, consider a payments solution that integrates seamlessly with the rest of your revenue stack and that enables global ecommerce by supporting multiple currencies, languages and payment methods delivering localized cart experiences to each of your geo-markets via IP and browser preference detection.

    2. Rise of Generation Z

    Generation Z, those born after 1995, are fast becoming a demographic with buying clout. With 77% of this cohort saying they spend 5 or more hours a day on their devices, it’s not surprising they’re shopping and buying more online than any other generation. Not only do they have $44 billion in spending power on their own, they are also influential in as much as $600 billion worth of family spending.
    Compared to other demographics, Generation Z has high expectations when it comes to online experiences. They’ve grown up with the Internet and are adept at sifting through large amounts of information fast and, with 97% owning a smartphone, they are most likely to be looking for information on their mobile device.
    With expectations of getting the information they need quickly, fast loading times and seamless shopping experiences on every device are a must. They like social media but tend to prefer Snapchat, Secret and Whisper over Facebook.
    In terms of support, 60% are likely to hang up if their call is not answered in 45 seconds. As Generation Z enters the workforce, they will gain even more buying power and ecommerce businesses are going to have to step it up to compete for and keep their attention.

    3. More Personal, More Flexible and More Mobile

    It’s not just Generation Z that has high expectations of online experiences. People in general are increasingly expecting shopping and checkout experiences to adapt to their behavior and interests, not the other way around.
    Not only do online storefronts need to be fast and easily navigable, they need to adjust to their users’ preferences as well. According to Accenture, over 75% of shoppers say that they are more likely to buy from a website that personalizes their experience, either with their name, or with recommendations based on past purchasing history.
    In addition, offering and supporting their preferred online payment methods, local currency and language is key to keeping them engaged and converting their sale, all while ensuring a fully responsive experience at each touch-point. According to RetailDrive.com, nearly 60% of shoppers look up product information and prices while using their mobile phones in stores, making a mobile strategy critical for retailers.

    4. Honing the Delicate Security/Convenience Balance

    The past year saw many companies big and small fall victim to security breaches and payment fraud.
    There are many proven ways to mitigate risk, but if you incorporate too many authentication steps to protect from data breaches and fraud, you can put off many potential customers. As a result of more and bigger breaches, governments are stepping up regulation requirements for companies handling sensitive customer data.
    The penalties for contravening regulations vary in different jurisdictions and include stiffer fines, criminal liability and even the suspension of business operations. The most prominent example of increased regulation is the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which takes effect in 2018.
    Unfortunately, there is no uniformity in laws between countries which can pose a challenge to companies operating internationally. Added to this challenge, with massive data breaches like Equifax, it is expected that fraud will be an even bigger problem going forward.
    Many are increasingly implementing multi-layer authentication processes with the industry specializing in this service expected to grow 23% annually for the next several years. According to Cyber Source, the top authentication steps that are planned to be added include 3D secure (17%), email verification (12%) and fraud scoring (12%). Other features many are considering include biometrics, geo-location, cryptographic keys, and behavioral analytics.
    With current measures, approximately 2.9% of orders are rejected because of suspected fraud. Unfortunately, 10% of these are suspected false positives which can result in angry customers and lost business.

    5. Longer Online Events for Traditional One Day Holidays

    Online shoppers have a lot of information and a lot of offers at their fingertips. The fight for attention during the lucrative holiday periods when more people are actively shopping online becomes even more fierce. Accordingly, many stores are adapting with longer periods of deals. For example, many Boxing Day sales started as early as Christmas Eve and extend well into January. Black Friday now often starts before Thanksgiving and extends all weekend.

    6. Integrated Revenue Stacks

    With consumer preferences, technology and security threats changing so rapidly, it will be imperative to continue to invest in a revenue stack that can keep up with your chosen strategy. An optimized ecommerce experience is no longer confined to one department or technology solution. It takes an entire company and ecosystem of solutions working together to provide a truly great online experience for your customers.
    Not only do you need basic payment processing, you need top security, a variety of payment methods, chargeback management, fraud mitigation, localization features, conversion optimization, billing support, pricing flexibility, international tax calculations, partner payouts, transaction emails, subscription management, a CRM, analytics tools and more. All of these individual solutions need to be plugged together to provide real-time data to power business decisions and deliver solutions that satisfy increasingly online and expectant customers.

    A Year Full of Opportunity

    While the challenges this year promise to be formidable, the ways to connect with customers and earn their loyalty is also increasing. The technology is available. If you can capitalize on the trends affecting ecommerce now, you will see your conversions, customer base and revenue continue to grow into and beyond 2018.

    If you liked this article, check out our Ebook, “The Ultimate Guide to Ecommerce KPIs”.

    The Curious Case of Ecommerce Buttons: A Best Practices Guide

    Ideally, all aspects of your ecommerce experience drive shoppers towards a conversion. Depending on your business and the point in the sales funnel your prospect is, your conversion goal could be to get individuals to enter contact information, finalize a sale or share a promotion.
    Whatever your goal is, the final hurdle to get a conversion is getting a user to hit a button to actually take some sort of action. And when it comes to helping nudge your customers to finally click that button, I’ve put together a few best practices to follow.

    Find the Right Call-To-Action

    Your call-to-action needs to clearly state the action that customers are about to take. Use unambiguous, active language on and around your button that reinforces the value to expect. If you leave anything open to interpretation or use words that imply extra work or more commitment on the part of the shopper, they’ll have more hesitation and are less likely to convert.
    So, do use words like “see”, “give”, “get” or “reserve” as they demonstrate momentum and will encourage individuals to continue. A study from HubSpot showed that from a list of action words, “Click here” and “Go” actually had the highest conversion rates. Alternatively, words that can have the opposite effect include “download”, “submit” or “register.”
    Additionally, shifting from second person to first person can also have a considerable effect. A study by Michael Aagaard, Unbounce’s Senior Conversion Optimizer, demonstrated how changing a call-to-action button from “Get your free template” to “Get my free template” resulted in a 90% increase in conversions.

    Colors Matter

    With online shopping being so visual, it makes sense that color can have a huge impact on conversions. For starters, certain colors can have drastically different connotations from country to country. For example, while yellow signifies jealously in France, it can mean bravery or wealth in Japan. Purple is considered a color of mourning in Thailand, while the Western cultures tend to view it as a symbol of royalty. So, it’s important to pick colors that carries positive sentiments, keeping in mind that you may have to use different colors for different countries. It’s also important to keep colors consistent in your ecommerce experience and on brand.
    Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to button color. Every customer segment is different so experiment to see which colors create the highest conversion rates for your business. As UX Dilemma points out, the best way to bypass the different associations that can occur with each color and each culture is to emphasize the button with a color that contrasts the other colors on your page.
    color-wheel
    Image source: Bright Hub

    Pay Attention to Your Fonts and Button Shape

    In addition to being a contrasting color to the rest of your page, UserTesting Blog says that buy buttons should appear large enough on your page so that customers can easily pick it out, but not so large that it appears obnoxious on the webpage.
    You also need to avoid hard-to-read fonts and all-caps. The lack of letter variation in all-caps actually makes reading it more difficult. Follow these simple guidelines of formatting a call-to-action button by using a rectangle shape, having clear boundaries and borders and using white space around the buy button. Vitally, make sure all of your spelling and grammar is correct! These can cause a great deal of hesitation in shoppers and cause them to not hit that button.

    Create Urgency

    Creating a sense of urgency can have a huge impact on the effectiveness of your ecommerce buttons. One case studyfound that creating a sense of urgency helped increase sales by 332%.
    There are lots of ways to create a sense of urgency including limited-time discounts, communicating that only a limited amount of stock is available or adding countdown clocks to the end of a sale. Use words such as “now” and “today” to reinforce this sense of urgency.

    Find What Works for Your Ecommerce Store

    There’s obviously a lot more that goes into optimizing your checkout than just the button. But it is the final barrier, so you need to do everything you can to eliminate any risk of hesitation. Be mindful of the particular needs and desires of your target market to help your buttons convert. And be prepared to test different combinations to see what works best for your ecommerce business.

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