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Great Online Shopping Festival

Last week, on 12/12/12, Google had a one day festival called GOSF (Great Online Shopping Festival) – where they promoted some 90 Indian online stores. They were gunning for something similar to Cyber Monday in the US, where there are crazy deals online just for a day.

The response in India for GOSF was fantastic, showing what the consumption capacity is in India.

On an average across retailers, sales increased by a whopping 200%, with apparels and electronics as the lead categories.

On an average 60% of the customers who came in to participating retailers sites were new. So the cost of customer acquisition went down drastically for these retailers thanks to Google’s push.

Not surprisingly, Google kept its branding out of the entire exercise. They’re treating it as an R&D exercise to give them better perspective of the Indian Ecommerce space. [You'd think they'd know it all thanks to Google Analytics and Google Adwords - :)]GOSF

Big Retail: Few Tips for SAP integration with e-commerce

Having done a few SAP integrations for retailers for their online e-commerce store, here are a few pointers to note:

1. Clearly define what information is needed from SAP which is essential for the e-commerce store to operate, and vice-versa. And document it clearly especially for material, price, stock, and customer masters.

2. Select the method of integration carefully. Whether it is through automated export and import of data using CSV / flat files, or using APIs that can transfer data on a real time basis between SAP and your online store. The decision impacts budgets and timelines. So make sure the all stakeholders are clear about both.

3. Infrastructure: Make sure that environments for the data transfers to happen are safe and secure.

4. Last but not the least, test, test and then test some more. :)

Cheers.

 

MicroFormats – Now on 10Commerce

Here is an update on our most recent product feature: 10Commerce now uses Microformats.

WHATWG came up with Microformats, a specification that helps search engines access and process data semantically from web pages. Microformats helps technologies such as search engines and web crawlers better understand what information is contained in a web page. And because it helps the search engines understand the content better, the search engines pass on the benefit to its users. So the users can better understand what the pages contain before they even click on them.Makes for a better web, doesn’t it?

For those who are more technically minded, please read on.

Here is the news release from Google talking about its’ support of Microformats – http://bit.ly/Hmrre2

Microformats can be used to include data on multiple data types. A few relevant ones are included below:

  • Microformats for e-commerce: for products, offers, reviews, etc.
  • Microformats for  people
  • Microformats for events
  • Microformats for local businesses, addresses, etc

Terms used for Microformats in Code part

      • itemscope – Creates the Item and indicates that descendants of this element contain information about it.
      • itemtype – A valid URL of a vocabulary that describes the item and its properties context.
      • itemid – Indicates a unique identifier of the item.
      • itemprop – Indicates that its containing tag holds the value of the specified item property. The properties name and value context are described by the items vocabulary. Properties values usually consist of string values, but can also use using the a element and itshref attribute, the img element and its src attribute, or other elements that link to or embed external resources
      • itemref – Properties that are not descendants of the element with the itemscope attribute can be associated with the item using this attribute. Provides a list of element itemids with additional properties elsewhere in the document.

 

MicroFormats in Ecommerce

Here is an example of Microformats being used in Amazon.com

Reviews , Product Price and Product stock are the microdata. Google analyzes the product detail page that it crawled through using the microformats / microdatas as its guide and shows the result on its search engine as shown above.

Example code:

<div itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/Product”>
<span itemprop=”name”>Sony 24inch TV</span>
<span itemprop=”price”>$2356</span>
<span itemprop=”availability”>In Stock</span>
<span itemprop=”brand”>Sony</span>
<span itemprop=”identifier”>ISBN </span>
<span itemprop=”identifier”>sku</span>
</div>

The above is the code you would need to include in your product detail page.

If you would like to test out how your page / site works using microformats you can test it out using the following tool:

http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets

Some reference sites for further reading:

Rajasekar, is the Web Technologies Developer at Tenovia Solutions, an Ecommerce product and services company. Besides implementing complex customer requirements he loves to constantly be on the lookout for cool web features being introduced across the web.

Basic Facebook Strategies for Ecommerce Stores

Here is a list of a few quick, easy to implement, facebook strategies for ecommerce stores to use. While there are many more strategies that Facebook gurus can suggest, we’ve seen our clients really benefit from just taking care of these basic ones.

1. Facebook Coupons
Distributing coupons through facebook. Can be placed in ads / in brand pages, or distributed through emails. We’ve seen the facebook ad campaigns become a lot more effective, with a coupon code added in the text.

2.  Polls and Trivia
People just can’t get enough of Trivia, and facebook marketers are using that fact. When an online brand regularly dolls out trivia it attracts a certain type of customer to the brand on facebook. These customers are easy to engage and contribute with comments and take part in polls. This helps in promoting the brand to their friends as part of the updates. This feature is so much more effective than the “invite-a-friend” option that lots of e-retailers are using.

3. Fangating
Fangating is basically when you give a customer a discount coupon or available for an exclusive offer only on the condition of them liking your brand on facebook. Yes, it does sound a bit too much of a commercial exchange at first. But  we’ve seen that customers are more than okay to do that in exchange for the promotions. The benefits might range from discount coupon codes to store credit to exclusive opening passes, etc.

A note of caution here: Make sure that the customer is happy for what they get in return of that “like”. Otherwise it can get ugly.

4. Contests
A bit along the same lines as Trivia, but with added incentives. Get the customers engaged by asking them questions, or asking them for suggestions on the brand page, and then declaring that the top 10 entries get a prize / reward. Facebook citizens love contests. We’ve seen huge jumps in the number of likes for a brand while a contest was going on. Again the more regularly this is done, the higher the rewards for the brand.

5. Customer Feedback / Comments
Engage with your customers. Reply to their comments, whether they’re thrilled or unsatisfied with your brand. Keep the interactions real, cut out the marketing / sales pitch and keep it genuine. And your brand page will see an increase in the number of likes and visitors.

6. Updates
Keep communicating with your customers about your new products / launches / or anything thats new at your company. You’ll be surprised at how many people will be rooting for your success when you keep them updated about it.

 

 

Manoj Ramesh, is the Business Development Manager at Tenovia Solutions, an Ecommerce product and services company. Besides loving to launch ecommerce stores, he also loves watching movies and loves trying out new restaurants.

Packaging in Ecommerce

Ordered a couple of items yesterday from 2 different sites: Myntra.com and Zovi.com.

Both companies took the exact same amount of time for delivery: a day and a half. Overall the experience with both of them was pretty good. Except that when I got the ordered items, I was a lot happier with the Myntra.com experience. Why? Mostly because their packaging was a lot better than Zovi.com’s.

This is what I got from Myntra.com. As a package it was colourful, and was promising of good quality items inside. It made you want to open it.

Zovi.com’s looked like they had sent me a bunch of documents. This is what it looked like. I’m not sure why, but I felt disappointed the minute I got this small brown paper packet which supposedly had my t-shirt inside.

 

So the point here is not to bicker about something that seems a relatively small issue. But its’ about the fact that a company cares enough that they want every aspect of the customer interaction to meet a particular quality, right down to the packaging.

And packaging is actually the first real interaction that the customer has with the product that they have just bought. It’ll be good for the Indian ecommerce companies to learn a lesson or two from the focus that world leading brands like Apple have put into this.

Yes, packaging costs are important to keep under control, but lets see some good innovation in this area. Looking forward for more exciting deliveries.:)

 

 

Murali Balan is the CEO of Tenovia Solutions, an Ecommerce product and services company. When he’s not discussing Ecommerce stuff with a retailer, he loves to go for long runs. 

Data from the Payment Gateway Industry in India

Here are some stats from the Payment Gateway industry in India.

76% – Is the success rate of all types of transactions attempted while the user entered correct payment details (credit / debit / netbanking / cash cards) and had sufficient balance.

74% – Is the success rate of transactions using credit and debit cards using one of the 5 major payment gateways in India. (ICICI, Citibank, HDFC, Axis, Amex).

71% – The success rate of transactions using netbanking. This number is largely propped up by the private banks performance.

90% – The success rate of transactions using cash cards (ITZ Cash, Oxi Cash, etc).  The cash cards control most components of the transactions, and do not rely on 3rd party infrastructure such as Visa / Mastercard. As a result the number of servers the data has to move per transaction reduces, thereby reducing the chances of data loss, and increasing the success percentage of transactions.

Refunds in 25% lesser time using netbanking  - It takes 3.6 days for refunds to reach the account on credit / debit cards. Its takes 2.8 days for the same using netbanking.

What does this data mean for online businesses?

Online businesses stand to lose 25% of their orders just because the payment gateway lose customer data as they pass the customer data from server to server. And thats a HUGE number.

In an industry where conversions are a small 3% – 5%, 25% of topline makes a lot of difference.

There are a number of steps that ecommerce stores can use to stop this exodus of revenues, like calling customers who drop out at the payment gateway, offering assisted shopping cart over the phone, offering COD, offering a choice of multiple payment gateways to the customer, offering phone banking, among other options.

More on this in the next post. Happy weekend folks!
Murali Balan,

Channel specific strategy vs a Consumer Strategy

In the Ecommerce business you quickly realize that lots of Marketing Managers compartmentalize strategies for TV, radio, print, strategy, print, online, mobile and social. Very often they have different teams working in different ‘silos’ to work on these different channels. I cannot tell you how often the online / etailing division just seems to be out there on its own, with nowhere the same kind of emphasis that say mass media gets, or even social gets.

Whats so often missed is a seamless strategy that just focuses on the consumer irrespective of the medium.

Its nice to say that convergence is the keyword and all that jazz, but very few execute it in a seamless manner which follows a customer
from awareness through mass media,
making it easy to research and review the brand and its products and services online with helpful reviews and videos,
and being present in the relevant search online when customers search for the products and services,
and then making it easy on the mobile to find the products and services closest on a geographical basis or in an online medium
and lastly being able to influence others about your brand on the social medium.

The strategies need not be built around the channels, but all around the consumer and thats easier said than done.

At Tenovia with 10Commerce we’re pushing ourselves and our customers to make things more consumer centric at all touchpoints that we interact with our customer’s customers on: Online, Mobile, Social, and Direct. Okay so thats the self publicity bit. Its our blog after all. :)

Must Watch: Tesco’s Online Grocery Shopping Strategy in South Korea

Came across an awesome youtube post that showcases the strategy used by Tesco to promote its online shopping business in the extremely competitive Koream online grocery market.

 

Any takers for the same in the Indian Grocery chains? Spencer’s Daily / More / Reliance Fresh / anyone? :)

E-Commerce In India – The Second Coming

 

Very interesting article which was Forbes’ cover story for their July issue.

http://business.in.com/article/boardroom/ecommerce-in-india-the-second-coming/27042/1

 

 

 

Buzz in the Investment Community on Ecommerce in India

Just attended a Proto.in event yesterday in Mahabalipuram, which mostly consisted of panel discussions featuring VCs from leading Venture Capital and PE companies, and founders of exciting start-ups.

One point stuck out quite a bit from the event. Rahul Khanna, MD, Canaan Partners (a $3 Billion global fund with a presence in India) shared the following statistics about the deals in the Indian Ecommerce industry:

Jan 07 – Dec 10 => 3 year period => Number of deals: 28; Deal Size: $60  million
Jan 10 – June 11 => 1.5 year period => Number of deals: 32; Deal Size: $102 million

So the last 1.5 years has seen more deals than the previous 3, and the deal sizes have been approximately twice as well. (Maybe the numbers might be off a few million here and there, but basically the point remains).

That statistic should be a boost in the arm for those folks who have started their Ecommerce ventures in India.