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Grow Your eCommerce and Digital Capability At a Fraction Of The Cost

By | Adwords, Blog, BPO, eBay, ecommerce, Outsourcing, SEO, Web Store | No Comments

                       Outsource 1

As more  companies plan to grow their capability in the eCommerce space to satisfy the insatiable demands of their customers for online research and purchase, many small to medium businesses are struggling with the skill-sets and costs required to hire new, or train existing staff, to manage this strategy extension.

In particular, auto parts and fitment stuff can be very tricky but we can help with any complex data sets Read More

Enform Ebay auto parts sales index shows 25% growth on 2014

By | Announcements, Automotive, eBay, ecommerce | No Comments

ebay_australia_policiesEnforms focus on e-commerce and digital marketing has meant a lot of experience with e-tailing and B2C solutions particularly for the auto parts aftermarket. Ebay is one of the largest retail sales channels for auto parts worldwide and the Australian site is one of the largest market places for auto parts in Australia with an estimated TTV (total transactional value) in excess of $600 mil for 2015 calendar year.

This makes it a useful measure for the health and future prospects of this growing area of online selling. So thanks to some handy online tools, Enform has built its Ebay auto parts sales index to track sales growth to provide advice and insights for its customers.

The key criteria used to build and maintain this index are:

  • Filtering for sales under “Car & Truck Parts” category only so we exclude marine, motor cycle, camping and other non-auto parts products
  • Total and individual sales by a selection of 50+ individual Ebay.com.au sellers
  • Total and individual sales by a selection of 20+ key product types or keywords used in listing titles
  • Total and individual sales by a selection of 65+ product brands or brand names used in listing titles

The data has been collated each month for over a year providing an index that can be used to track total growth and changes across a variety of metrics. Enform will aim to provide snapshots of this data from time to time but this resource is also available to customers that would like specific data, product segments or competitor information researched or reported on.
This month, we’d like to summarise some of the key metrics of the last few months to help provide some guidance to online auto parts sellers. Some examples include;

Total October 2015 growth on 2014 exceeds 25%
Regardless of the metric used, sales of Car & Truck Parts category grew between 25-27% in October 2015 when compared with 2014. This shows a consistent pattern for the calender year in general.

  • Stand out growing product types include filters at 74%, towbars at 43%, tyres at 93%
  • Poor performers include coilovers that dropped 32% while performance category filters slumped by 13% year on year

October is a relatively poor month overall with 18.5% lower sales than August
Based on TTV across all metrics, October is a relatively poor sales month with many believing school holidays and Christmas lead up dampening demand. Using our selection of “Sellers”, this equates to 18.5% lower TTV when compared with the August peak which seems to be the top month recently regardless of metric used.

  • 30% of all Sellers went backward in October 2015 compared with October 2014
  • However 52% of all Sellers sales grew by more than 30% compared with 2014

Brands and brand names grow faster than product types but slower than sellers.
Seems confusing but what we’re saying here is that while established brand names are growing faster than simple product names, these brands are not growing as fast as the market place overall as measured by the growth in Sellers TTV. Possible interpretations here inlcude;

  • Brand names are not as relevant when compared with overall demand via the market place and for established sellers
  • Brands are emerging and growing faster than can be measured at the moment
  • Home-brands are growing with Sellers offering their own solutions including kits and bundles

As you can see, there are a lot of potential opportunities to analyse and help understand but there seems little doubt that this channel is the engine room of growth for this important segment of auto parts and accessories sales in Australia and wordlwide.

Feel free to contact myself or the Enform team about how we can help your business perform better in auto parts e-commerce.

 

EBAY PREPS SELLERS FOR NEW MULTI-VARIATION (?)LISTING REQUIREMENTS

By | eBay, ecommerce | No Comments

EBay Identifies new requirements

ebay

In its recent notification to sellers, Ebay advised there are new requirements for Product Identifiers in Multi-variation listings.  When you follow the link this would appear to be a broader requirement http://sellercentre.ebay.com.au/news/product-identifiers  detailing this change as a requirement for ALL new listings of branded items in New and Manufacturer refurbished listings.

What are product identifiers

If you sell on eBay, you’re probably already familiar about the new product identifiers you are required to add to your listings. By the end of January 2016 these are the product identifiers you must include in your listings:

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Designing e-Commerce Pages For Shoppers

By | Announcements, Web Design | No Comments
Image:  E-commerce Website Design by Kip-koech (licensed under CC by 2.0)

Image: E-commerce Website Design by Kip-koech (licensed under CC by 2.0)

According to the Nielsen Norman Group, there are 5 kinds of e-commerce shoppers you should keep in mind when designing your e-commerce pages. These are:

  1. Product focused – know what they want and they want it fast;
  2. Browsers – have time to browse around and need to see what’s new;
  3. Researchers – need easy way to look up and compare product information;
  4. Bargain hunters – look for a great sale; and
  5. One-time shoppers – may also be one of the other four, and hate creating and registering an account with you.

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eBay Changes Listing Rules For Product Identifiers from 1st July

By | Announcements, Automotive, Blog, Comment, ecommerce, Research, SEO | No Comments

ebay_logo

eBay Australia is changing the listing rules for product identifiers in key categories including auto parts. 

As PARts Australia say – “Ignore it and you may pay a penalty in poor ranking. Embrace it and you may leap ahead of your competition.”

Increasing the accuracy of listing information is an important part of eBay ongoing work to improve the marketplace experience for all users.

That’s why, starting 30 June this year, all new listings of branded items in New and Manufacturer refurbished condition will be required to include product identifiers including the item’s brand, manufacturer part number (MPN), and global trade item numbers (GTINs) such as Universal Product Codes (UPCs) and International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs) in select categories.

eBay uses these product identifiers to help buyers quickly find the items they’re looking for. When you’re selling, including these product identifiers not only has the potential to increase your items’ visibility in eBay search results and navigation, it can improve your placement in search engines like Google and Bing, too.

Read more about the eBay new policy and how important it is for eBay sellers and in particular, those selling branded auto parts.

Power Retail Talks to MotoParts About Auto Parts E-tailing

By | Automotive, Blog, ecommerce, Industry, Research, Web Design, Web Store | No Comments
MotoParts-266x266

Selling automotive parts online has proved challenging for MotoParts, but developing a parts-centric approach has helped the company progress. Power Retail chats to MotoParts’ Scott Shillinglaw to find out more.

With a long history in the B2B commerce space supplying wholesale auto parts throughout NSW and Australia, MotoParts decided to launch into a completely new sales channel to leverage their existing business model. As one of the largest online marketplaces, eBay was the obvious choice for MotoParts to start their online presence and drive a whole new section of growth for the business.

This decision was prompted by the rapid growth of the Australian online automotive parts sales industry (estimated to be worth $380.3 million in 2014-2015 and growing annually at a compounded rate of 17 percent) centred on New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland – areas that have the highest number of kilometres driven.

Power Retail magazine caught up with Scott Shillinglaw, Online Director for MotoParts, to see how the transition came about and how they used PARts Australia for data and technology.

Read more about MotoParts’ Parts-Centric Approach using PARts.

MotoParts Dives into eBay with an E-commerce Solution

By | Automotive, Blog, Comment, ecommerce, Research, tools | No Comments

MotoParts on eBayRecognized as one of Australia’s top distributors of automotive parts and car accessories, MotoParts boasts of a colourful history in the B2B segment of the market, offering wholesale auto parts throughout NSW and Australia.

In an effort to leverage their current business model, the company decided to dive into a new sales channel, opening a new section of potential growth for the business. As one of the world’s largest marketplaces on the Internet, it made sense for the company to jumpstart their online presence on eBay, this according to MotoParts online director Scott Shillinglaw.

The Need for an E-commerce Solution

To launch a new online sales channel on eBay, MotoParts needed a comprehensive e-commerce solution capable of handling hundreds to thousands of product listings—a solution that could keep up with MotoParts surging online business.

According to Shillinglaw, MotoParts required a robust e-commerce solution that could help manage product feeds, with the additional feature of transforming product data and making it ready for eBay listing. Moreover, the solution had to mesh with the company’s ERP system, in particular, product, pricing, and inventory data, together with eBay and MotoParts’s e-commerce website.

The challenge with automotive parts suppliers is that the complexity and sheer volume of product parts information makes it difficult to find a working e-commerce solution—one that could withstand the impending massive increase in automobile models and corresponding parts within the next few years.

Shillinglaw said that MotoParts needed their e-commerce data to be in a coherent format, allowing their e-commerce managers to list products on eBay by part and vehicle compatibility, all in such a way that entices customers to make a purchase. If the product isn’t presented in a compelling manner, it won’t lead to sales, he adds.

A PARts Driven Solution

MotoParts turned to an e-commerce solution recommended by PARts, an online solution Enform is certified to provide.

With the new e-commerce solution, MotoParts was able to automate and integrate all their product data into one easy-to-access database, through a tool specifically designed for automotive parts content.

MotoParts can now manage and access their product data in one centralised solution, with orders placed on eBay extracted and standardized into a singular format—integrated with the company’s own ERP system. And you can read more about how MotoParts went online profitably with PARts.

MotoParts eBay Listing

Benefits

After just a few months of using the PARts-recommended e-commerce solution to open a new sales channel on eBay, MotoParts saw a surge in total revenue by at least 5 percent. The complete MotoParts e-commerce solution was also fully functional in just a few months. The company also saw a drastic reduction in resource time and IT expenditures.

But more importantly, the addition of a solid e-commerce solution into the company’s business foundation means they can now open as many online sales channels as they want, with very little work required.

You can read more about PARts and auto data opportunities here

Questions To Answer When Designing Website Navigation

By | Blog, ecommerce, Mobile, Research, Web Design, Web Store | No Comments

Organising content for a website calls for designers to ask key questions on their planned Information Architecture (IA). Usability experts the Nielsen Norman Group (NN/g) broke down these problems, providing answers to the 3 most persistent questions many designers today struggle with when building sites.

How Many Categories do you Need?

The general rule of thumb is to have enough categories to show all the information offered on your site or app. However, what’s considered ‘enough’ will greatly depend on the content and intention of a site.

Most simple sites with a small range of content will usually do fine with a few categories. This minimalist approach helps users find the information they want as quickly as possible. Take for instance, Dyson’s website for their Airblade line of products (the Dyson Airblade is the company’s take on the quick hand dryer). The entire website has a solid IA scheme since all variations of the Airblade fit into 5 categories.

Dyson airblade homepage

Dyson Airblade Homepage

At the other end of the spectrum is RestroomDirect, a site that also sells hand dryers as well as a bunch of other fixtures for public bathrooms. Condensing all information on the site down to 5 categories makes it difficult for customers to find information on the company’s full range of products, which is why the site features 7 links in the top horizontal navigation, and 17 product categories in the vertical navigation. This combination allows users to easily access all relevant information on the site as efficiently as possible.

Restroom Direct

www.RestroomDirect.com

Both examples show the basic principle behind determining the appropriate number of categories in a website: go with what makes it easiest for users to access the information they need; don’t box yourself in by trying to hit a predetermined number.

Should you List Categories in Alphabetical Order?

Organising categories by a certain order is another issue frequently tackled by designers, many of whom feel that sorting categories alphabetically makes the most sense.

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to this problem, but what you can do is consider the following factors:

  1. What organising principle would be more meaningful than sorting alphabetically?
  2. Will visitors be familiar with the category names
  3. How many categories do you have?

More Meaningful Organising Principles

One approach that makes more sense than alphabetical organisation is frequency of use, which helps the majority of visitors on a site access the information they’re most likely looking for.

An example of this can be found on RightMove.co.uk, a property listing that has the categories For Sale and To Rent as the first two items in the navigation panel. This setup saves users a tremendous amount of time, since it makes sense to highlight content users are most likely to click on.

Rightmove

If you were to organise categories on this site alphabetically, you would get the unintuitive result below.

Rightmove labels

Standard Labels

However, there are instances when alphabetical organisation is more efficient. If you have categories under just one label (e.g. product names or brand names), users naturally look for information they know, like a particular word—alphabetical organisation is more helpful in this situation.

Do you Need Hover Menus with Touch Devices

With the advent of mobile devices that rely on touch interfaces, UX designers are wondering whether sites should still have hover nav menus.

Hover activated menus are unwieldy for touchscreen users. Even with menus adapted for use with a tap instead of a hover, touchscreens are just too small to display an entire menu. This can result in problems scrolling the menu without deactivating it by touch something else on the page.

However, just because a part of your audience can’t use this feature, doesn’t mean you should withhold it from everyone else. Hover activated menus are still easy to use on conventional desktop interfaces.

The key here is graceful degradation: ensure that customers who can’t use hover activation still have a means of accessing your content. A good example of this setup can be found on the Fedex website, which provides both hover and tap options for all their users, whether on traditional desktop interfaces or touchscreens.

Fedex

The full Fedex website has hover-activated menus

Fedex mobile version

The mobile version of the Fedex site automatically replaces hover menus with a simpler tap interface

As always good website design is about taking in to account your audience and how you can get them to the information they are looking for quickly and easily. It is worth spending time in the initial concept phase on these types of questions to avoid costly redesign and coding later on.  Need help with your site, want an objective review? Contact Enform today.

Tips to Support Users with the E-Commerce Shopping Cart

By | Blog, ecommerce, Web Design, Web Store | No Comments

e shopping cart

The average e-commerce website flow ultimately leads to one thing: checkout. The site is designed to help shoppers find the items they want, add them to the shopping cart, and proceed to the payment.

If only things were that simple.

A study by usability experts the Nielsen Norman Group (NN/g), involving actual users shopping on websites, says otherwise. The process isn’t as linear, as many shoppers use shopping carts as holding areas where they sift through their selected items, deciding which ones they want, and which ones they don’t.

So, this means the shopping cart has to do more than act as a collector of information about products. It also needs to help shoppers make final purchase decisions.

Here are some ways to do so.

Offer Access to a Full Shopping Cart

It’s a good idea to offer access to a page in the checkout flow dedicated to showing the full cart, as this helps users make purchase decisions with more ease. Users can turn to the cart to review what they’ve added so far, check product details, make comparisons, and get partial totals to meet budgets or qualify for promotions.

Although offering access to a full shopping cart would seem like common sense (in fact, it was common practice in the old days), many designers need to be told to do so today. Many websites make the mistake of only providing a mini-cart view that shows a partial view of the cart in an overlay—not an entire separate page. The latter is more effective for users who want to take their time making informed decisions on their purchase.

Provide Product Details in List Form, Offer Large and Clear Product Images

With shoppers making purchase decisions using the shopping cart, it’s important to show clearly what items are in it. The cart should list the products added to it, and include clear product images large enough to show details the shopper needs to make comparisons with other items of interest.

Crucial details to show in the cart include the product name, attributes specific to the product selected such as size, colour, quantity of items selected, and of course, price. All these details serve to help shoppers remember their selections and make comparisons between items

Product images are also essential to making product comparisons easier for the shopper. And even for users not comparing items, images serve to remind users what’s in their cart, acting as a quick visual reference.

You’ll find that shopping on sites that offer no product images, or small pictures at the least, are a pain to shop in, leaving you with no visual cues to remember.

Offer a Link to the Product Page for Full Details

It makes perfect usability sense to provide

shoppers with a way to navigate back to the full product page from the shopping cart. Be sure that your site allows users to click on a product in the shopping cart to go back to the product page so as to allow them to read more about the product or review item details.

In addition, make sure it’s easy for shoppers to know that they can quickly go back to the product page of each item on the cart. A simple way of doing this is to indicate product names as links, doing so by using different text colours or presentations. Several sites make the mistake of notifying shoppers that product names can actually be clicked through a hover response. Don’t add this layer of unnecessary guesswork—let shoppers know right away that product names are links.

adidas sampleAdidas.com provided clear links to remove each item. However, users could not set the quantity to zero and update the cart to remove an item.

Supporting Decision-Makers

The shopping cart is not the only part of the e-commerce site that needs to support decision-making, but it is a frequently overlooked one. Every aspect of a site devoted to selling items is important to the overall user experience and success of the site — our 800+ guidelines for better e-commerce sites exemplify the need to pay attention to many details. The shopping cart needs to be more than a list of items, by also supporting shoppers who use this page to make final purchase decisions.

HTTPS and Website Encryption Will Now Influence Google Search Rankings

By | Announcements, Blog, Comment, ecommerce, Research, SEO, Web Design | No Comments

 

google-https

In an effort to promote a more secure web and better reflect relevant search results, Google recently announced that it would now take into consideration website encryption, also known as HTTPS, when ranking sites on their search engine results pages (SERPs).

It’s a move that should wake up web developers who have procrastinated over their implementation of security measures, or site owners who may have wondered if their sites were “important enough” to need encryption.

According to Google, HTTPS will initially be a minor search rank signal, affecting less than 1 percent of all queries around the world.  So, that means it won’t immediately have as immediate an impact as other ranking factors—like the quality of content in a web page for instance—as Google wants to give webmasters enough time to switch over to HTTPS.

google-secutiry

Still, that doesn’t mean you can drag your feet with your site’s security, as encryption is bound to have a major effect on search ranking, what with Google being a staunch advocate of website security. It’s best to start as early as possible, and with the potential bonus of higher search rankings, there’s no better time than now.

Best Practices

To facilitate the switch to a more secure web, the company is looking to publish a series of guidelines around HTTPS, helping website developers better understand what needs to be done in properly encrypting their websites, as well as how to avoid common mistakes. Google adds that these tips will include best practices on things ranging from the type of certification needed, the proper use of relative URLs for resources under the same secure domain, allowing site indexing, and many more.

Furthermore, Google recommends website developers to test their HTTPS-encrypted websites through the Qualys Lab tool, while further questions on encryption and its relation to search ranking can be sent to Google’s Webmaster Help Forums where the company actively interacts with a larger community of site owners and developers.

Search Engine Result Pages

Reactions

Like most Google announcements involving its search ranking algorithms, it has drawn plenty of feedback from website owners and developers, as well as those in the SEO industry. Google’s blog post on the subject has more than 1,500 comments as of this writing. Reactions are mostly in favour of the change, with many seemingly expecting that such a development was going to happen sooner or later. One commenter opined, “So, it’s not often that you’ll get SEO tips directly from Google — but here’s one that I’m proud to be associated with: HTTPS is now being used as a ranking signal.”

Google’s announcement is consistent with its efforts to better secure its own traffic, which included encrypting traffic between its servers. Gmail now uses an encrypted HTTPS connection by default, preventing mail from being snooped when moving between users and Google’s servers.

In a time when paranoia over government cyber spying is at a frenzy, tech companies are scrambling to beef up their own security measures. In November last year, Yahoo! also announced plans to encrypt its own data centre traffic.

Posicionamiento-web

At Enform, we’ve long seen encryption and HTTPS as fundamental measures for improving a site’s security, no matter how small it may be. This time around, Google’s efforts only provide another incentive for webmasters to make the switch.