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Power Retail Talks to MotoParts About Auto Parts E-tailing

By | Automotive, Blog, ecommerce, Industry, Research, Web Design, Web Store | No Comments
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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

Google to Rollout Close Variant Keyword Matching End of September

By | Announcements, Blog, ecommerce, Research, SEO, Web Store | No Comments

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When people go to search engines like Google, it’s not all the time that they key in their queries correctly. According to Google, at least 7 percent of all searches on their search engine contain some sort of misspelling, with longer queries more likely to have a typo. Web users don’t have the time to care about such trivial matters, especially in this time and age of shorter attention spans and a continually growing hunger for information. People expect to connect with products, services, and businesses they’re looking for.

For instance, a person trying to find “kid scooters,” “kids scooters,” or “kid’s scooters,” will want to see the most relevant Google ads regardless of these small differences in the search phrase. This is precisely why Google is turning to close variant keyword matching as a means of intuitively connecting search engine users with the people and businesses they’re looking for. The solution will apply to all exact and phrase match keywords.

Since its introduction in 2012, advertisers on Google’s AdWords program have enjoyed varying degrees of success. The company notes that the majority of advertisers are already matching to close keyword variations, garnering an average of 7 percent more exact and phrase match clicks with similar conversion and clickthrough rates. Besides this growth in keyword coverage, these incremental clicks directly translate to potentially crucial opportunities missed by low search volume keywords, a common occurrence when misspellings and abbreviations are concerned.

Widen your Reach

Beginning late September, Google will be rolling out close variant keyword matching to all phrase match and exact match keywords. It’s worth noting that close variant matching was already “switched on” by default in the campaign settings, so many advertisers won’t even notice any change in their keyword matching activity.

However, advertisers that opted out will notice the option to disable close variants disappear sometime around the last week of September. All exact and phrase match keywords will then connect to close keyword variations, allowing you to broaden your reach towards more potential customers with the most relevant ads, while at the same time, trying to lower your cost per click (CPC) and improve your clickthrough rate (CTR).

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What Does this Mean?

There’s always some level of anxiety present when Google makes changes to its search engine protocols and paid advertising program, as even the smallest changes can have huge effects on a company’s SEO and PPC campaigns, undoing several hours of work.

However, we at Enform actually see this update as helpful to our clients, as it cuts out the complexities of matching several lists with abbreviated, misspelled, and slight variations of your keywords just to get the coverage you want.

This time around, all you need to focus on is adding close variants of keywords that you don’t want to trigger your ads, to your negative keywords list. This is a far quicker way of shaping your traffic and reducing costs per click; it doesn’t hurt that this also offers a better ad experience to your potential customers.

It’s worth pointing out that Google AdWords tends to trigger ads with keywords that are most identical to search queries, so that doesn’t mean misspelled, abbreviated, and other close variations of your keywords are useless. Try to look how these close variants perform, they just might be able to stand independently as separate keywords with their appropriate bids.

A Different Point Of View

This mandatory change may have larger implications that mark a loss of control which is bad news for SEM (search engine marketing) professionals.

With this release we are heading towards a “keywordless” world where Google dictates when your ads appear and for what search terms.

With Google recent release of Shopping Campaigns, ads are generated using Google Merchant Account inventory feeds instead of keywords. Google is gaining more and more control of ads and advertisers may not be able to even control the outcome or put up a fight.

As long as AdWords keeps delivering results advertisers want, there won’t be many people complaining. Product Listing Ads are getting advertisers more results, and generally so will close variant matching, so it can’t be that bad…right.

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However, it’s time for the negative keywords to the rescue, that is for advertisers who feel very strongly about exact match terms, there is still the option to use negative keywords to weed out irrelevant queries.

 

Majority of Email Opens Take Place on Mobile Devices Studies Show

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

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Over the last year we have seen multiple studies from firms like Experian Marketing Services and Yesmail showing an interesting and important trend: the number of people opening their emails on mobile devices continues to rise, with 50 percent or more email opens occurring on the mobile platform.

As the year comes to an end, yet another study by Return Path, yields similar findings. Their research shows that in December 2013, 51 percent of email opens happened on some kind of mobile device. The study also marks the first time ever that Return Path has observed mobile email opens getting a majority of the platform share.

Most notably, the highest percentage (62 percent) of mobile email opens occurred over Christmas, likely caused by the deluge of holiday greetings and shopping transactions made by consumers. Perhaps

Similar Findings by IBM: Online Shopping

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Further supporting this, IBM also reported having 48 percent of all online shopping traffic coming from mobile devices on Christmas day. Results are up by 28.3 percent compared to Christmas Day in 2012, while also surpassing the traffic share of last year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping blitzes. Mobile also accounted for 29 percent of all online sales on Christmas Day for IBM, showing a significant increase of 40 percent compared to last year.

Other noteworthy findings by IBM include a clear pattern—and a continuing trend—indicating more purchases happen on tablet devices, with browsing occurring predominantly on smartphones. IBM’s research shows smartphones account for more traffic compared to tablets, at 28.5 percent and 18.1 percent respectively, but account for only half as many sales, at 9.3 percent and 19.4 percent respectively.

More Shopping Traffic on iOS than Android

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Another interesting find by IBM is how iOS devices reportedly drove more than twice as much shopping traffic, compared to Android devices on Christmas Day, at 32.6 percent versus 14.8. Return Path also showed a similar disparity, this time on the email front. The market research firm found that 86 percent of mobile opens happened on an iOS device on Christmas day—58 percent of opens occurred on an iPhone, 28 percent on an iPad.

A similar study by Movable Ink also found a major imbalance between emails opened on Android and iOS mobile devices.

More Findings

It also comes as no big surprise that Return Path found that the majority of email messages on mobile devices were opened on weekends and holidays, while emails opened on traditional desktop computers spiked during Mondays. In other words, mobile opens happened when people were away from work, and desktop opens while at work.

For Internet service providers (ISPs) and email service clients in the United States, vast increases in email opens occurred on Gmail in December, which Return Path correlated to a recent change Google made to display images, which are now enabled by default.

If anything, these findings show what we’ve been telling our clients throughout the previous year, that is, not to forget to design emails for the mobile format. Mobile email opens are no longer just a trend—they’re here to stay, and will only continue to grow.

Why it Pays to Display Product Prices on your B2B Website

By | Automotive, Blog, ecommerce, Industry, Research, tools, Uncategorized, Web Design, Web Store | No Comments

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What’s the one thing a prospective customer wants to know when visiting an e-commerce website?

Prices.

When dealing with displaying pricing, businesses need to ask them selves; Is it better to not be judged, or to be ignored completely?

Yet it’s interesting to note that multiple usability studies by experts like the Nielsen Norman Group (NN/g) show that many websites still haven’t done anything to respond to people’s frustrations on not seeing the prices of products and services.

What’s more, usability experts NN/g  point out that business customers see pricing as the most important piece of information online, yet several B2B sites don’t seem to acknowledge this as they continue to obscure prices.

Adapting to New Shopping Habits

B2B webmasters and developers should adapt to the new ways consumers of the 21st century shop and research information about products and services. Gone are the days when consumers had to interact with sales agents; DIY is the way to go, with consumers now empowered with the information to make decisions on what to buy and not.

Many B2B site owners make the mistake of assuming customers will contact them to ask about pricing—they probably will, but it’ll be an inconvenience. In fact, studies by NN/g found that many participants in their research opted to go to competitor sites when websites failed to show prices. In the end users ended up viewing and purchasing from sites that did show pricing information.

Why Hide Prices?

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For companies, the most common reason behind keeping pricing hidden from consumers is to obscure it from competitors. Other reasons include:

  • Having varying prices for different customers
  • Prices constantly fluctuate, making it difficult to show fixed prices
  • Special services have unique prices

While the reasons above are legitimate excuses, it doesn’t change the fact that they’re still excuses. The simple fact is that failing to be open with pricing works against the needs of customers, creating a poor shopping experience. What’s more, one person’s impression on a brand (e.g. they’re hiding their prices) can ripple out to other consumers. This effect completely negates all of the reasons stated above.

And besides, all of the issues mentioned above are also tackled by brick and mortar establishments, which still openly display their prices.

Here’s an insightful look on why you shouldn’t be bother hiding your prices.

For Those That Really Can’t Show Exact Prices: Sample Prices 

For B2B companies that have unique products and services, it’s true pricing structures can be complex, with rates varying between clients based on their specific situations. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t show pricing, as prospective customers still need something to go on during their initial research.

When providing exact prices becomes impractical, the next best option is to provide estimates in the form of a price range, typical pricing packages for usual situations, or the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP). To avoid running into legal hiccups with displaying prices, it’s best to consult with legal counsel to find the most accurate ways of displaying this information.

 Provide Prices for Typical Scenarios

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For companies that structure their prices according to the unique services different clients need, the most prudent course of action is to provide pricing information for a handful of scenarios your company commonly encounters. You might hear of tools like cost calculators that allow customers to input what they want, and in the end, get the corresponding cost for the service package.

While useful, studies show these pricing calculators are often too complex, unwieldy, and prone to mistakes. Pricing calculators are not entirely useless; they can still appeal to some highly engaged customers eager to enter the required data to get the information they want.

In any case, it’s best to employ the rule of averages and offer sample prices for typical situations, which are sufficient to provide inquiring customers with a rough idea of what they want and how much it should cost.

Example: Automotive Parts Pricing

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In the context of automotive parts, we believe that showing the price of parts and accessories is crucial for attracting prospective customers who are searching for an item they already know they want or need, but don’t know the price of. Often, these customers are conducting pricing comparisons between vendors, and transparent pricing provides the convenience of seeing the information they need immediately, and hence increases the chances of these customers making a purchase a decision.

Showing prices on your B2B site also boosts consumer trust in your brand. Consumers see vendors that openly display their pricing as being straightforward and honest, and transactions are more likely to occur when people get the information they want right away.

For the average consumer, the fewer the number of steps it takes to make a purchase (e.g. make a phone call to inquire price, make a reservation), the better the shopping experience will be, and the more successful your business will be at gaining and retaining their business.

Defining Web Conversion Rates

By | ecommerce, Research, SEO, Web Design, Web Store, Webpage Monitoring | No Comments

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What are conversion rates, and how do we measure them?

Conversion rate, in a nutshell, refers to the percentage of web users who move on to make a desired action, or a goal. The simplest example of conversion rate is the percentage of visitors to a website who go from browsing through the website, to buying something on it. The act of browsing to buying is where the ‘conversion’ happens.

Another example by usability experts the NN/g group shows  this scenario:

100,000 users log on to an e-commerce site in April. 2000 of these 100,000 users made a purchase; therefore, the site’s conversion rate is 2 percent.

Of course, it’s not as simple as it looks, as there are plenty of questions to ask yourself when thinking of the conversion process. For instance, you may be wondering how to count baseline number of web users who visit your site. Should you only count unique visitors or should you mark down every time one user visits the site during the measurement period? Likewise, how do you count the ‘desired actions’ users make? Do you count a conversion event that’s unique to every person, or count every event regardless of how many times it occurs with a user?

Conversion Events Explained

While conversion rates are strongly correlated to e-commerce sales, it’s a concept that should matter to people concerned with other aspects of a website, even design. Conversion events are a good indicator of a site’s performance. These events can include anything from a purchase on a site, signing up as a registered user, signing up for a newsletter, downloading a mobile app, and repeatedly returning to the site, which means it might be better to count for unique users only.

Why Does this All Matter, Especially for UX?

Simple. Conversion rates are a key performance indicator (KPI) on the success of your user experience. But what about conversion counts, you might ask?

Think of it this way. If you opened a store and marketed it on all platforms (print, radio, TV, web, social media), there’s a good chance people will flock to your establishment. This is where conversion counts come in, thanks to your marketing efforts. What happens in the store, whether a visitor browses through products, signs up for coupons, and makes a purchase, can be attributed to your store’s design—in the context of websites, the web design, and ultimately, the user experience.

For design, conversion counts are unreliable because they count the number of people who visit the website; whereas conversion rates measure the impact of web design since they account for what people do once they’re on the site.

Except…

While it’s often better to track the ratio of users who proceed to make conversions, this is not always the case.

The ratios can be misleading, especially if there’s a sudden surge in variable traffic that’s of varying quality. For instance, if your e-commerce site were to upload content about a rumor of the next iPhone  when the rumor mill is at its busiest, it’s likely to lead to a surge in visits from Apple fans but no actual purchases made. Just people getting hold of a link to that piece of information, probably leading to a share, and ultimately leaving.

A sudden spike in visits such as the above example but no conversion events will cause your conversion rates to plummet, but that shouldn’t be a cause for worry since you can connect the dots to whatever chances you made. In the example scenario, it’s the new content, not a design change.

This means that you should always pay attention to your traffic sources and find out whether new traffic is in line or different from your usual users.

Conversion Against Usability Metrics

A solid conversion rate usually hovers between 1–10%. However, when testing for usability, a good score will be at 80 percent and above. The reason for this disparity is that in a test situation like the ones NN/g regularly conducts, users are urged to perform a task, so the score is based on whether it’s possible for them to do so. It negates important factors like price, and looks purely on the success of pulling off the assigned ask. If a site scores 80 percent, it simply means 20 percent were unable to use the site, not that the 80 percent are good as paying customers.

Relating Conversion Rate to User Experience

We at Enform agree with NN/g’s recommendation of monitoring conversion rates in lieu of design changes to see whether a UX investment is worth it or not. While it’s true that other factors besides UX can impact conversion, design arguably has the biggest effect.

Increasing Car Sales with New Methods and Technology

By | Announcements, Automotive, Industry, Research | No Comments

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Automotive Industry Moving Towards Car Showroom Updates with New Technology

According to a 2013 Australian automotive industry survey, 32 per cent of car showroom operators plan to increase their sales by over 50 per cent through 2020 with the use of new technologies like virtual showrooms, social media, e-commerce, and other online communications tools.

The car salesperson is no doubt a fixture in any car showroom setting scenario around the world, but even he/she will eventually feel the pinch of technology and how it always manages to change the status quo.

The survey, conducted by Australian Automobile Dealers Association (AADA) and commissioned to Moore Stephens Automotive, also found out that well over 60 percent of car dealerships have less than 30 per cent of sales coming from online transactions.

According to Moore Stephens Automotive head, Brett Fowler, the continuous growth in online sales should force the automotive industry to adapt multi-channel online communications to drive online transactions. He adds that the shift is simply in line with the measures other retail sectors are currently utilising.

The survey also found that respondents identified the increase in online retail activity as being a crucial factor that will affect not only existing advertising and marketing campaigns, but also the very concept of investing in a traditional ‘brick and mortar’ showroom. In fact, as much as , 79 per cent of respondents saw the value in having a virtual automobile showroom.

While the survey shows that there is certainly a lot of interest in virtual showrooms and how they can be used to generate sales over the next seven years, the pressure is on dealerships and franchisors to make the virtual store functional and financially viable enough to replace the brick and mortar premises. And then of course, is the prevailing notion that customers, while using the Internet to find product information, still want to do the usual test drive.

Fowler understands this, pointing out that many automotive retailers and customers still see personal interaction as a key factor in the process of purchasing a vehicle. However, he pointed out that online sales and communication can only enhance the relationship and dealer. He adds that customers don’t just use the Internet and the retailer’s website to find more information about their desired automobile, it’s also a way for them to review the retailer’s services, such as parts, servicing, financing, etc.

Ultimately, the purpose of developing an Internet presence is not just to facilitate online transactions, but to deliver a better product experience. With customers getting more information about a product before visiting the retailer, they are more likely than ever to spend less time  negotiating with car salespersons.

These changes should by no means be limited to car showrooms. Automobile parts vendors should take note of the obvious lessons from this trend. As more consumers choose to do their business online, it pays to provide customers with easy and accessible ways to communicate and make transactions with their respective businesses. Failing to do so means missing out on an opportunity to increase revenue.

 

 

Intelligence Report Highlights Rise of Emerging Markets and Importance of Giving Consumers What They Want

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The intelligence community is used to a bleak view of the world, but a recent report from America’s National Intelligence Council, titled “Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds,” actually paints a pretty picture of the not so distant future.

The usual warnings on rogue nations and nuclear war are still present—that much hasn’t changed—but the most notable bit of information from the report revolves around the rise of the middle class around the world. Whereas Britain took 150 years to double its income per head and America went through 30 years to pull off the same feat, emerging markets India and China have done the same in a fraction of the time, and most notably, on a much greater scale.

As a result, we now see a spike in the number of people who have the means to pay for middle-class luxuries, such as a home and good education for their children.

Catering to the Needs of an Empowered Middle Class

Not surprisingly, many global brands have tried their best to address the surge in demand for consumer goods. Many brands have already raked in the profits from emerging markets, while others, such as Apple, are still in the process of tapping into this growing market—the company plans to shift its priorities to China.

Catering to emerging markets so different from the West necessitates the use of new approaches to sales and marketing.

Michael Silverstein, author of the book, “The $10 Trillion Prize” writes that companies must adapt to local circumstances when dealing with emerging markets China and India. He notes that it’s not just about providing products, but selling it in a way that appeals to the local market.

For instance, PepsiCo has released a spicy snack for the Indian market called Kurkure, a modification to their crisps which the company feels may be too bland for Indians. Apparel and accessories manufacturer Hermès has also e an exclusive line of French-made Saris in india. Likewise, Kraft released new variants to its Oreo cookies specifically blended for the Chinese market, with exotic, more oriental flavours such as green tea.

We at Enform believe that the actions of these companies demonstrate the importance of not just offering products, but actually creating and marketing products according to the wants and needs of your target audience. It all boils down to giving consumers what they want, how they want it.