Improving The Usability Of An Ecommerce Solution, Stage 7, Making The Ordering Process Flexible

The money that is now being spent online due to new ecommerce software has significantly increased over recent years, this is down to better ecommerce solutions and accessibility of the internet. This has caught a lot of businesses stuck with their original models to sell their online services and products. New ecommerce software incorporates all of the new marketing techniques required to compete online including ecommerce templates and eBay templates. As new opportunities to sell come up on the internet, an ecommerce solution needs to evolve with them.Many online businesses have had the same website model for many years and are sometimes reluctant to change, this is sometimes because their model is working for them or it is down to cost of building a new ecommerce solution. The integration of, now common, selling techniques and portals such as eBay, Amazon and Facebook should be high priority for any online business. The possibilities of the new ecommerce software solutions will continue to grow as the new social media and buying tools become more common and user-friendly. Making the right decisions at the start of the design process including ecommerce templates, eBay templates and other design features is crucial to the future success. By choosing a user-friendly, integrated solution that covers all selling media, is now a must to give you a competitive advantage in a highly competitive market.Every ecommerce solution has the same fundamentals associated with them but the website developer must have the know-how of how to make their ordering process as user-friendly as possible. In this next step to building an ecommerce site we will look at making the ordering process flexible for customers to create the highest possible conversion rate. By making the ordering process flexible, web users should feel in control and therefore not come across big problems which will make them leave the ordering process. One of the problems that users may come across is finding their home address with a postcode lookup when entering an address. Some web users may have an obscure or new postal address that is not recognised on the present list. This will mean that they cannot enter their address and will leave the ordering process and find somewhere else to buy the product.Being a flexible online business especially in the ordering process is a crucial option for a successful sale. Customers want options when buying, you will rarely find a first-time buyer on the internet so online customers are used to buying with a particular method, whether that be with a credit card, PayPal or Google. Offering as many of these options as possible adds to the flexibility of the ordering process and makes your product easier to purchase. By incorporating high-quality ecommerce templates and eBay templates adds to the user experience and gives confidence to the customer.An ecommerce solution doesn’t require the web user to login, which is known as a ‘quick checkout’, all that is needed is one page with the needed information and process the order. By offering more options to the customer the more chances the customer will convert. By having various payment options and ‘quick’ ordering processes the user will feel in control of their order and you are not forcing them to put in information. Being flexible will allow your online business to grow and learn from what the web users are doing on your ecommerce software.

Television killed Advertising

Ask any advertising person that you know if they have heard of, or read, The Cluetrain Manifesto and most of them will shake their heads with an emphatic no, which is a shame because within this book lies the clue to their demise.Whilst the book is written with the Web in mind, most of what it has to say is true of the communication process itself.So allow us to revisit the Cluetrain Manifesto and apply what they have to say about the world we live in now and the advertising and marketing world as we know it, setting aside the Web for the moment.In the 20th century, the rise of mass communications media enhanced industry’s ability to address even larger markets with no loss of shoe leather and mass marketing truly came into its own.With larger markets came higher rewards and these higher rewards had to be protected. More bureaucracy, more hierarchy and more command and control meant the customer who looked you in the eye, was promptly escorted out of the building by security.The product of mass marketing was the message, delivered in as many forms as there were media and in as many guises as there were marketers to invent them.Delivered locally, shipped globally, repeated inescapably, the business of marketing devoted itself to delivering the message. Unfortunately, what all these gurus of marketing did not realise and still do not today is that the customer never fully took delivery!Why, because there is no demand for these advertising messages. Lets face it, consumers don’t want to hear from business.The message that gets broadcast to you, me and the rest of the population has nothing to do with me in particular. Consequently, it’s worse than noise.It’s an interruption in my life and like most people, I would rather do without it thank you very much. Just leave me to watch/listen to my program without any facile interruptions.And that is the awful truth about marketing and advertising. It broadcasts messages to people who simply don’t want to listen or see it.Every advertisement, press release, publicity stunt and give-away designed by the Marketing Department, or Advertising Agency is coloured by the fact that all their hard work and planning is being presented to a public that doesn’t ask to hear or see it.Recently the Sunday Times, in the UK, had this to say about advertising: “Things have changed a lot since you used to get 20 million people gathered around television sets to watch Coronation Street and one advertisement could reach them all.Marketing budgets are being spent differently, and this means less money is being allotted for advertising. A couple of million pounds can buy you a few hours on television but marketers are realising that it can buy an awful lot more if it is spent elsewhere.”Advertising agencies may be flatfooted in responding to the change, Advertisers cannot find what they need from the big agencies, which tend to be biased towards television advertising.Small agencies are more flexible and open minded to these changes but the likes of WPP can be a bit slow to respond.Nestle, once one of the country’s biggest advertisers has slashed the amount it spends on television advertising.Andrew Harrison, its Marketing Director, says “This is a start of a trend towards more rounded communications. And the big agencies like WPP need to look at offering more than just the traditional services….”
Despite all this rhetoric there is no evidence yet that advertising agencies, or the marketing departments of Clients understand the meaning of the word “communications.”And herein lies the real problem, the complete lack of understanding ofwhat the communication process is all about.Sending a message by itself isn’t sufficient to create an act of communication; there needs to be a response to a message as well. To illustrate this point, think of a radio station broadcasting late at night without a single listener tuned in.You don’t have to argue about trees falling in an empty forest to agree that no communication has occurred here. In the same way, when you have a speaker talking to one or more people who aren’t listening, there is no communication taking place.For communication to take place, you must have a message sender and a message receiver and the two sides must talk to each other to understand what the other is thinking/doing.Advertising occurs when a group becomes too large for all members to contribute. One aspect of advertising is an unequal amount of “speaking”. Advertisers deliver their information to the mass audience, with limited opportunities, if any, for feedback.The audience, therefore, is unable to talk back in a two-way conversation the way they might in a small group setting and as a result, do not feel involved, do not feel that the message has relevance to them as an individual.Advertising views communication as something one person “does” to others. In this linear communication model, communication is like giving an injection: a sender encodes ideas and feeling into some sort of message and then injects them by means of a channel (TV, Newspapers, radio, etc).Despite its simplicity, the linear view of communication isn’t completely accurate. For one thing it makes the questionable assumption that all communication involves encoding.A more obvious problem of the linear model is its suggestion that communication flows in one direction, from sender to receiver.However, most types of communication, especially the interpersonal variety, are two-way exchanges. To put it differently, advertising’s linear view ignores the fact that receivers react to messages by sending messages of their own. And if the message sender is not listening in turn…?Lack of communication competence.Most advertising agencies and clients lack the skills of communication, advertising messages are more carefully prepared than interpersonal communication and yet “message understandability” tends to be lower.Advertisements are more carefully prepared because gatekeepers (those who prepare and send out messages) are more cautious about what they say to large audiences than they are to audiences of one or just a few people. They check their facts more carefully and they prepare their syntax and vocabulary more precisely.And yet, because their audience contributes much less feedback, the source cannot correct any lapse in interest or understanding, so people are more likely to misinterpret what they hear or read over the mass media.It is important to note, of course, that just because mediated messages are more carefully prepared, they are not necessarily more accurate. Gatekeepers have a way of looking at the world based on personal beliefs or motivations. This “world view” sometimes tends to make media messages inaccurate.Advertising ignores communications theory.As the mass media have matured, the behavioural dynamics of perception and interaction, which are not addressed by advertising agencies, have become critical to the re-definition of media and its role in marketing communications. With passive, one way, forms of advertising such as media display or television advertising, there is a certainty of a degree of non-responsiveness.However, with interactive marketing communication techniques, there is a commitment to participate, which, in turn leads to a set of possibilities, which are significantly different in how they affect the communication process itself.All advertising is a form of learning, with the advertiser asking potential customers to change their behaviour once they have understood the benefits of the product or service on offer.The anticipation of response generated through interactive marketing communication, means that the recipients will approach the data with a commitment to read and learn it.In other words interactive marketing communication turns passive advertising into active advertising and actually alters behaviour during the learning process . It also cuts through the psychological barriers, which prevent an individual from changing brands.People tend to filter out information they do not want to hear and this alters the effectiveness of advertising in quite a dramatic way. The purchaser’s decision is invariably a compromise and this leads to a certain amount of anxiety.The worry that perhaps the purchase decision was not the best or right one. In order to minimise this anxiety the purchaser seeks to reinforce their choice and begins to take more notice of their chosen product’s advertising.And, at the same time, the purchaser deliberately suppresses data, which might challenge their personal decision, by ignoring the advertising of competitive brands.People are often loyal to a brand simply because they do not want to
readdress a decision that they have already made. The opportunity to screen out such undesired data always exists when media advertisements have to stand on their own and fight for attention.Despite all this, lets repeat what we suggested at the beginning of this chapter, there is still no evidence yet that advertising agencies, or the marketing departments of Clients really understand the meaning of the word “communications.” They are making progress in some areas but there is clearly a whole lot more to be done.Paul Ashby pioneered interactive communication to the advertising and marketing communities some twenty-five years ago. The communication issues he addresses have been neglected during the explosive grown of advertising in the 60s, 70s and 80s, these are Cognitive Dissonance, Selective Retention and Selective Exposure.Would you like to discover the incredible results to be attained by using interactive communication? Well these are revealed for FREE at or contact Paul directly on [email protected]

The New “Conscientious Consumer” – Who They Are and How to Connect With Them

Emerging Cultural Codes – The Foundations of ChangeConsumers are becoming more conscious on many levels. In fact the way in which they are making decisions and expressing preferences within our culture is undergoing a fundamental change. So much so that the business community is overflowing with articles, books and conference discussions about what is happening. Who are these conscientious consumers and how should companies that provide consumer products go about connecting with them?The shift in consumer behavior is being attributed to a variety of factors. These include technology, the desire for engagement, self determination and sustainability to name just a few. All of these factors are most certainly in play but they are the expression of a deeper groundswell of change and the emergence of a new set of cultural codes that define the way people behave across all areas of their lives. The way in which people consume is one of the most visible aspects of this change and the most studied because it is the basis of profitability for so many companies. As such, consumer behavior provides an interesting insight into the dominant and emerging codes that define the very nature of the culture that we live in. These codes can be seen as the foundation on which all trends, fashions and fads are built and will be the starting point for this look into today’s consumers.The Context of Cultural ChangeCultural evolution and its impact on social and hence consumer behavior is a continuum that can be traced back through history to the very inception of our engagement in commerce and trade. Looking back provides interesting insight into the way people consumed in the past but also highlights the dominant codes that determine consumer behavior today. It also allows us to make reasonable predictions about how that behavior will change going forward.Looking BackConsumerism as we know it began to emerge after the conclusion of the Second World War. The manufacturing capability established to support the war effort was redirected towards the production of affordable consumer products for the emerging middle class. At that time the dominant cultural code was conformity, stability and normalcy. An understandable response to the upheaval and social trauma caused by WW2 and the basis of the white picket fence mentality where people tried to look and behave very much alike. Brands that appealed to this core cultural need prospered. This meant a huge demand for mass manufacturing, standardized products and this consumption drove the incredible growth and prosperity of this era. To summarize the next 40 or so years, the 60′s marked somewhat of a return to the notion of individuality but this was not widespread enough to become the dominant cultural code. Recession in the 70′s slowed things down significantly and then the 80′s and 90′s were really all about bigger and better. Very status oriented. The wholesaling of previously luxury brands, supersizing of cars, diamonds, labels and so on.What It MeansWhat is interesting about this perspective on consumer behavior is the consumer has not really changed at all. They continue to consume in a way that expresses the dominant cultural themes that define the era in which they live. They consistently seek to represent the values and display the status markers that garner approval and represent success as it is defined by their culture. So it is times that change and to understand the conscientious consumer we need to understand the social context in which they consume how that impacts their preferences and molds their interpretation of value.Our Life and TimesSo what is the cultural environment that represents the backdrop to this conscientious consumer? The codes are numerous but a few stand out in terms of really driving the way that people consume. Consumers are looking for engagement with the brands that they purchase. They want a sense of self determination and the opportunity to establish an individualized identity. There is growing distrust of large corporations and people are replacing corporate with self representation. There is incredible new access to information through technology so consumers are significantly more informed and sophisticated. Finally, awareness, responsibility and sustainability are the new status markers and people are looking to represent these cultural values in the way that they spend.The Conscientious ConsumerSo why the term Conscientious Consumer? Conscientious means several things in this context. Consumers are smarter and better informed. Their purchasing represents this by being either price wise, as in a bargain, or reflective of the social values outlined above. They use peer to peer formats such as social networking to gather information and don’t take ads and corporate product representations at face value. They rely heavily on word of mouth to steer and then reinforce their choices and spend a considerable amount of time researching options on-line before they buy. They are as focused on the experience of purchasing as they are on the attributes of the product that they buy and they are prepared to spend significantly more if the product allows them to display the status markers defined above. They are also looking for more control in the purchasing process and the opportunity to differentiate themselves and emphasize their individuality. They foster a new interpretation of value that has more to do with what product says about who they are and what is important to them. So they are conscientious in terms of how well informed they are but also in terms of their connectivity with other consumers and the basis of their decision making as it pertains to cultural codes and values.TranslatedSo what does this all mean to companies looking to thrive in this new space? All the debate and discussion associated with this shifting landscape, while fascinating, becomes academic if it doesn’t translate into usable guidelines and recommendations for companies seeking to connect with these consumers. In order to thrive, companies need to understand what consumers are looking for and create products and experiences that reflect those things.Pick a PolePurchasing is becoming polarized around two somewhat different goals; the hunt for a bargain and the desire to display the new, conscientious and sustainable status markers. This is driving interesting phenomena called the death of the middle class product. Simply put, people will buy products that represent the least expensive or will spend a lot more to buy novel, custom, luxury or eco friendly goods that satisfy the consumers’ ideal representation of themselves. Much of what lies in between is starting to disappear. A good example of this is the demise of the American car industry that has been churning out mid priced, average quality product for decades and has failed to identify the need to be either cleaner, cheaper or more luxury based. Consumer products companies should pick their spot on this map around one of these poles and stay out of the middle.Create SpaceIt is becoming clear that consumers are paying as much attention to the experience of purchasing as they are to the attributes of the products that they buy. Companies are investing heavily in creating both physical and digital environments that conform to new patterns spending. To generalize about these spaces, they are designed to create the sense of a community that is reflective in the growth of social networking. They are a fun and easy place to hang out and allow the consumer to explore in ways that feel inconsequential. In other words the consumer does not feel like they are being sold on something or steered towards a decision. Finally they are operating as an information resource to the consumer in order to develop trust or purporting to represent ideal values such as sustainability. A couple of great examples of this are Anthropology on the retail side where they have set up areas in the store where customers can sit down and socialize. On the web, is a great example because of its use of chat rooms and information resources. The look and feel of the site is light and there is no directive towards a transaction.Create a Customizable ProductConsumers are trying hard to differentiate themselves and demonstrate a level of individuality in the way that they consume. This being true, the more the consumer can manipulate the experience of purchasing the product or the product itself, the more able they are to satisfy this desire. is a web based travel company that allows you to research and plan your trip online. Nothing new there but this company has differentiated itself by allowing the customer to create custom itinerary based travel guides to take with them, collect or share with friends. This is a great example of a company that has tapped into people’s desire for a custom product that allows them to project there individuality to their social sphere.
Engagement and speaking the right languageIt’s not just about having the right product and the right space to sell it from. Consumers want and need to be engaged. Engagement is about establishing a relationship with the consumer over time and creating an emotional connection between them and your brand. Engagement means different things in different consumer environments but always means greater customer loyalty and price desensitization. Engagement today means creating a compelling and authentic message that creates an emotional connection amongst consumers. Method has done an excellent job creating this connection by delivering an strong eco sensitive message in the context of household cleaning products.Keep It CleanConsumers have the information resources to check a companies messaging and brand identity against their corporate practices and values. Companies are required more and more to walk the marketing and PR talk that they have become so expert in delivering. Keeping it clean means conforming to a higher set of values that can be communicated through the brand. Subaru is currently touting a new manufacturing facility with a zero carbon foot print as a way to counter flagging auto sales industry wide. Sustainability has become their mantra and works well with existing perceptions of what Subaru stands for. They are still selling cars.Understand the Viral Marketing OpportunityConsumer products companies must absolutely educate themselves on the ways in which purchasing has been changed by the internet. The importance of viral marketing, social networking, chat rooms, blogs and so on cannot be overstated. Understanding this world and learning how to use it is now more powerful than almost any other form of marketing. Sites like which are basically vehicles for consumer products are increasing popular and well known. They are where consumers congregate to check out what’s new and get peer to peer validation of their choices. Familiarity with these sites and an understanding of how to leverage their influence is a critical factor in today’s marketplace.Summary – Be a Conscientious Consumer ProductThe conscientious consumer is shaping the consumer landscape and should be the subject of a great deal of attention for any company wishing to sell products into this market. Cross referencing your product against the prevailing preferences of these consumers will ensure that you are presenting and projecting your offering in a way that is compelling in the context of today’s consumer culture. Learning how to reach out to consumers by being a presence in the places that we already know they are spending time on-line is critical. Finally designing a distribution strategy that optimized the opportunity for engagement with your customer will give your brand legs that will carry it forward into future opportunities. In brief – be a conscientious consumer product and move with the shifting landscape to create a continuous connection with your customer.