Today, I’m reviewing a shopping cart called ClearCart. The information was gathered from Emily, Their CEO. The cart was designed for and by women. It is hosted only type of product, meaning it must reside on their servers. It is a little expensive in my opinion, $250 setup and $100 per month. Emily said their biggest strength is their appeal to women directly, attention to the design is used in the admin area, keeping the shopping cart experience simple and offering round the clock support regardless of the client’s size. The downside is they do not provide the source code to the php/mysql information for advanced users. Emily also claims that many merchants switch to them simply because they can not get a hold of their current vendor, take orders and manage the shipping easily. Another great feature is their cart is compatible with most companies and payment gateways like Authorize.net.
Almost all merchants experience shopping cart abandonment. The only thing a merchant can do is minimize it as much as possible. According to a white paper, here are some reasons why consumers abandon their cart. Shipping charges, comparing prices, lack of money, looking for coupons, concerned about data security and item was out of stock. When it comes to shipping charges, make this information readily available as soon as they add something to their cart. Do not require them to register or make anymore clicks of their mouse. Once they add something, the shipping rate should be shown on the following screen without a lot of extra clicks. To help with the security concern, show security icons, such as a SSL certificate being used. Create trust by having contact information readily available. Make your return policy easy to find. Offering discounts & coupons directly on your site can help increase sales as well. Use and encourage customers to post reviews on products they have purchased. This helps consumers feel at ease of a particular product, such as is it of quality, will it last, does it perform well, will I like it, etc. Just think of if this way, would you be more than likely to buy something if 100 other customers have reviewed the product? Amazon for example uses this heavily.
Industry insiders give great ecommerce tips all the time. Here is a list of them for 2009. Product reviews – they can be a very powerful feature. Most consumers will buy a product when it has been reviewed by other users, especially when dealing with online stores vs retail. Information – only ask for the information you must have. People are reluctant to give out personal information, such as data, so only ask what is necessary to sell them your products or services. Market share – now is the time to ramp up your advertising budget to gain market share. The economy isn’t doing well, so your competitors are advertising less making this a great time to take over. PR – always maximize the power of press releases. It can be great exposure for your company. Product descriptions – always use unique content when describing your products. When describing the product, make it sound like a sales presentation, describe the benefits, what will it do for the customers, etc. Look at big online retailers for examples. Trust – earn it by keeping your promises. If you say all orders by 2 PM CST ship same day, be sure to always hold to that as much as possible. Social media – this can be a great way to stay connected to your customers. Consumers like to do business with companies that have a relationship with them and this is a great way to get that on a personal level.
As the Internet and ecommerce has evolved, the success rate for ecommerce merchants has become more challenging. There are six factors that can come into play. Product line – you must have something unique. You will have a very difficult time selling a product that a lot of other retailers like Amazon sell. Mindset – If you are small company, use that to your advantage. Focus on customer service and their experience when they shop with you. Everything you do with your business matters, including the image you portray. Abilities – if you don’t have the skills to do something, hire someone to do it. By utilizing the Internet that feeds your business, you can find someone who can help you for a reasonable fee. Presentation – as mentioned before, the company image your web site portrays is very important. It must be professional and give the customers an impression they can trust you. Technology – be sure to maximize your use of technology. This includes using a great shopping cart and company to handle your online payments.
A retail merchant called Dollhouse Bettie was able to cut her processing fees with her bank, WellsFargo after making a lot of profit and giving poor service. I have seen it countless times, banks like WellsFargo take advantage of the relationship they already have with their banking customers. Would you agree this is fair, $50 a month for two years for a credit card machine that you can buy for around $200? 2.30% for swiped transactions? This may have been ok 10 years ago, but this is 2009.
There has been a lot of news lately about convenience store owners protesting over the fees they are charged for theirservice. 7-eleven recently went to Capital hill with like millions of signatures from consumers contesting to it. The problem with that is most consumers have no idea what they are really signing and what it means. Merchants should consider several things. For starter, it is a cost of doing business. Just like there is a cost to handle cash as the store. Is anyone complaining about all the other bills they have, like utilities, rent, insurance, etc? Secondly, if they are so upset with it, why not stop accepting credit cards? They would tell you they would probably lose too much business. That should be enough right there! I agree credit cards have become almost like a currency.
However, view it as a better currency. You generally have ticket lifts vs cash paying customers, you receive your funds in a day or two and you do not have to worry about all that cash being held in the draw for employees or robbers to steal.
Palm Beach merchant services has been claiming to save merchants on fees and exchange for a cut of the savings. The idea itself sounds really good and that it should work out to the merchant’s advantage. However, there are a few other ways to view this and points to consider. First off, merchants shouldn’t contact someone else to do their negotiating. It would be like using a third party to negotiate for you when talking to your vendors or your phone company about your bill. Yes, they may know this business a little better and know how much they can squeeze, but with a little patience and a some talking, you can very well learn this yourself. Simply call your current processor and see what they are willing to do. Then call some other companies and get some rate quotes from them based on your current processing numbers. Take all the information you have learned and go from there.
The second thing to keep in mind is you wont have to share those savings with a third party. A little bit of your own time and some phone calls could very well save you 100% instead of giving part of those savings to someone else. Remember, your current processor doesn’t want to lose your business!
Heartland recently filed a court briefing expecting all of its merchants using Verifone terminals to contact Verifone directly for support. Verifone has been saying due to the data breaches Heartland has been experiencing, they are eliminating any free continuous support to Heartland directly. Heartland stated that it relies on assistance from Verifone to support its merchant base that use their products. Verifone has stated that it encourages ISO’s to reach out to its merchant base and have the customers registered with Verifone for free support from them directly. Verifone has estimated that about 3/4 of their merchant base relies on their product technology. Verifone has also stated that it will cease support for any system connected to the Heartland network at the end of December 31 of this year.
A recent article raised the question, should transactions be free to process, stating possible ways for this to happen. What Todd failed to understand are some key points in the processing chain. For starters, if they eliminated Interchange, that would highly discourage issuing banks to issue credit cards. Yes, they make a lot of profit off the card holders that carry a balance,but they do incur losses on the consumers that never pay. Interchange helps bring them a very small amount for the customers that never carry a balance. The price for handing the money isn’t a very big price. Banks wouldn’t be offering all these reward programs, which would in turn discourage all the consumers that use their cards solely for the rewards.
The second point he doesn’t understand is the merchant provider that must give that particular merchant an account to accept those credit cards. They assume risk for all transactions that merchant processes. If they go out of business or have too many chargebacks, the merchant provider is liable for all chargebacks and losses. There is a cost associated with this. Just like you can’t expect a bank to take on mortgage debt for free, you can’t expect a merchant provider to do the same.
Ipayment recently released their 3rd qtr profit results. There are a few things I noticed that was interesting. N ot only did their revenues decrease compared to last year, but their revenue net of Interchange went down as well. However, their net income actually stayed the same. Why is this you may ask? Many companies are charging for what the industry calls PCI Compliance. Most of your major players charge some type of fee each year, whether it is a monthly or yearly fee. When Ipayment started charging their merchant bases, they charged $30 a year for the first year. When the next year came around, they increased that to $129 a year. I understand most companies have had a big cost when it comes to implementing PCI compliance and ensuring their own company is in compliance, but the first year at $30 per client should have covered most of that costs. So the next time they charged $129, that was mostly all profit. If you multiple that times their 140,000 customer base, you can see how that possibly played a big role in their net income staying the same.