It happens. They’re interested, to the point of putting your product in their shopping cart, then, poof, they’re gone.
PollCart might save some from that abysmal fate. We’re looking for 10 forward-thinking Shopify stores to test and see if the plugin (available in the Shopify App store) helps reduce cart abandonment while increasing the site’s sales and customer base.
Would you be open to test-driving a new Shopify app, developed in Dallas? The mission is to see if the plugin, PollCart, available in the Shopify App Store, will increase sales and referrals while decreasing cart abandonment and returns.
Here are some examples of May 2017 enhancements to PollCart. First, we now offer the New Image Button as well as the Classic HTML Button. The Classic HTML Button has a customizable CSS option for fine tuning.
First, we now offer the New Image Button as well as the Classic HTML Button. The Classic HTML Button has a customizable CSS option for fine tuning. And last, we’re working on a way to choose which products in a store use PollCart.
Social Commerce startups are getting funding and traction on the same principals fueling PollCart’s customer engagement messaging platform.
A friend sent the PollCart team an excellent article about Pinduoduo (PDD) described as a kind of Facebook-Groupon mashup that could revolutionize e-commerce. It has raised over $100 million with a valuation of over $1.5 billion.
With that kind of validation and acceptance, we took a look at how it reflected on PollCart’s innovative customer engagement model.
The article describes PDD with similar language that we use to describe PollCart:
“give shoppers an experience more like spending a day at the mall with friends.”
“get feedback from people you trust.”
The article also noted that Facebook and Twitter discontinued their social commerce experiments because “most users don’t want to be solicited while hanging out with friends online,” which we discussed previously in our article about Twitter’s Buy It Now button.
Same Social Commerce, Different Focus, Use
While PDD and PollCart have a different focus and use, the key to PollCart is that neither PollCart, the retailer nor the platform is soliciting. Customers are engaging their friends: This is a highly important distinction. PollCart is retailer focused with a view towards making a shopping experience on the retailer’s site a social experience much more mall-like.
The article notes that demand for PDD has exploded, demonstrating the impact of Social Commerce and a focus on customer engagement. In fact, PDD is now the largest private e-commerce company in China by sales volume.
The other positive for PollCart is that investors finally see the value of Social Commerce. Investors look to Social Commerce, customer engagement and capturing sales from abandoned shopping carts as a recipe for a high growth, organically growing company innovating into high margin markets.
PollCart loves that a prominent Social Commerce app is emerging as a “Social Commerce” app.
As retailers struggle to find a way to attract more customers and make their online experience a social experience, they will conclude that PollCart helps their customers engage with their products and share them with friends and family, follow through with a sale of a product in an online shopping cart and keep products that buyers might otherwise return.
E-commerce shop owners could find sales and referrals in the strangest places!
Adding a PollCart button option to your e-commerce checkout flow is easy and potentially the best way to increase sales and referrals while decreasing cart abandonment and returns. PollCart’s patent-pending checkout polling platform gives consumers the confidence they need to buy on their first visit to your website.
The PollCart button says, “Ask Your Friends,” but what does it do?
When your customers click PollCart’s “Ask Your Friends” button, they are invited to enter the email addresses and mobile numbers for the friends and family that buyer trusts. PollCart’s platform then texts and emails the customer’s circle with easy opportunities to just click a link in a text message or email to vote yes or no to the purchase. Once a majority of the buyer’s contacts approve the purchase, the payment system captures the charge, and PollCart queues the order for fulfillment.
PollCart’s platform landing page has a link to your brand, store, and product as well as an image of the product and an infographic expressing the most recent votes in the checkout poll. Participants can quickly add comments about the purchase and see what other anonymous users have added to the comments, or how they have voted.
Because the actual purchase depends on their vote, friends and family take these requests seriously. By doing a few minutes of research to cast an educated ballot, the friend or family member invests their goodwill into the buyer certainly, but also the brand and products.
The ‘Make an Organic Introduction’ Button
By asking their inner circle to vote “yes” on their item’s PollCart checkout poll, your buyer has made an organic introduction between your brand and product and their most trusted friends and family.
PollCart is currently available as a Shopify plugin for Shopify store owners, and we’re currently working to make it available to any online commerce platform. Please contact us if you believe PollCart could increase your sales and referrals while decreasing cart abandonment and returns.
Twitter is discontinuing development of its Buy Now button. Is it giving up on Social Commerce?
Twitter announced its “Buy” buttons back in 2014 as it worked on developing its e-commerce strategy. In 2015, Twitter announced its partnerships with various retailers on its “Buy Now” initiative. Twitter was dipping its toes into the Social Commerce pool.
About a year later, Twitter announced that it was ending development of the buttons and disbanding its commerce team to focus on customer service and advertising. Buzzfeed suggested that Twitter’s backing away social commerce suggested that it was not the “low-hanging” fruit that they had hoped. People were buying on the mobile web, not social media.
The Context is Wrong
Another commenter suggested that Social Commerce via social media is not dead, it was just that the context is wrong, noting that Pinterest and Instagram as platforms, and Taylor Swift as a personality, generate significant commerce through “shoppable” media. Matthew Knight of Carat, writing for Retail-Week.com believes that:
“The blunt approach of making everything shoppable has passed. Now it’s time to learn from early experimentation and apply it intelligently. Slapping a Buy Now button onto every piece of media and communications is not clever – no one wants to be sold to constantly. But enabling purchase in the most meaningful and relevant moments, and making that experience as effortless as possible? Well, that’s new retail.”
The Social Commerce gurus at PollCart agree that enabling the purchase at the most relevant moment is critical. We also believe that enabling the interaction between a purchaser and their influencers at the time of purchase is what turns e-commerce into Social Commerce. This harvests all of the benefits to the retailer, the product, and the brands.
Directly Engage Family and Friends
PollCart gives retailers the tools to enable their customers to directly engage their family and friends in the online shopping process, providing a communal, interactive experience. It’s much like a shopping trip to the mall.
PollCart Thoughts on List of Powerful Social Commerce Trends: Article on Social Commerce Trends makes us wonder who has been bugging our meetings.
The PollCart Illuminati was sequestered deep in their underground bunker thinking about developments in Social Commerce (trademark pending by PollCart for your convenience). They happened upon an article by a renounced B2B Content Marketer who identified the four most powerful social commerce trends.
A hush went over the room while they called in the black ops guys to check for bugs and listening devices.
It was like she was peering into the PollCart model for Social Commerce that drives customers to buy more and return less when they interact with their friends and family over online purchases. That was a bit windy. We’ll explain further.
Why Social Commerce is so Important
Shayla Price begins her examination with why Social Commerce is so important. It is because shopping is an emotional activity. This is true of the digital world as well as the bricks-and-mortar world. How people feel about what they buy is an extremely important part of why they buy.
This is why PollCart is so effective for online merchants. In the offline world, a group of people can see, feel, touch and discuss a product before purchasing. In the online world, someone can create a wishlist, send a link or discuss an item on Facebook. However, it is a cumbersome process with little interaction and several steps away from actual commerce.
“As online relationships become more personal and shoppers can connect more directly with brands, there’s a big opportunity for smart branding to play a big part in how customers feel about a brand. Whether purchasing physical or digital products, marketers need to realize that shopping is a highly emotional endeavor.”
An Emotional Connection to the Purchase
PollCart lets a consumer create a poll and puts the buying decision into the hands of friends and family who vote. There is now an emotional connection to the purchase tied to the social interaction of the poll. The abandoned shopping cart has itself been abandoned. Returned products are less likely.
That is the power of Social Commerce.
Ms. Price’s article goes into more detail, and we will touch on additional points in a future blog post. Stay tuned. You know you want to.
Online shoppers have such a dizzying array of product choices available to them with just a tap of a screen or click of a mouse that the risk of making an uninformed, impulsive or even financially unsound purchasing decision is greater now than ever before. JSOM alumnus Rich Williams, MBA ’10, has invented a new technology called PollCart that helps solve this by turning online shopping into an opportunity to solicit input from loved ones as well as a fun social experience.
“The target audience for PollCart’s functionality is anybody who is in a relationship and wants to maintain accountability in their purchasing decisions,” Williams said. “Any consumer that needs permission to make a purchase thinks they could get in financial or relational trouble by doing so, or simply would like to solicit feedback from and interact with social peers prior to making a purchase would benefit from using our product.”
Consumers aren’t the only ones trying to avoid the pitfalls of technological convenience. Online retailers have created a dilemma for themselves, too. Technology that makes online shopping convenient also enables consumers to easily abandon their shopping carts. Recent reports estimate that $4 trillion worth of online shopping cart merchandise is being abandoned every year. Williams’ invention solves problems for both consumers and retailers by providing an option within e-commerce platforms for consumers to create approval polls that solicit purchasing advice or even determine whether the online purchase will be made.
The shopper creates a poll as part of the checkout process. After the buyer’s card is validated, the poll is distributed to one or more of the shopper’s trusted contacts. The people being polled have 24 hours to approve or reject a purchase—in part or in whole. Threshold approval levels can differ, depending on whether the shopper is soliciting advice or permission—or simply wants to start a conversation. Once the predetermined threshold for consensus or approval is reached, the online store charges the card, processes the order and ships the item automatically.
If, the result of the shopper’s polling group is unfavorable, then the order is canceled (or pending cancellation, if the buyer prefers to make the ultimate decision) after which PollCart recommends alternate products that are more likely to be approved by the shopper’s circle of trust. The key point is that the critical shopping feedback loop is maintained but no longer has to be solicited in real time. The transaction has already been processed and is simply awaiting social consensus.
The buyer visits the site only once, thus maintaining the convenience of the original shopping experience while adding buffers of accountability and social opinion gathering—along with the benefit of a virtual social shopping experience.
The retailer gains several competitive advantages—first, the cart abandonment problem could be significantly reduced. Second, marketing intelligence is increased dramatically by learning not only what buyers prefer, but what their circle of trust prefers (via the yes/no votes and anonymized comments from those polled). Third, consumer confidence is increased because shoppers perceive the retailer as being “in their corner” by offering a layer of security against bad-impulse shopping decisions. Finally, the problem of rampant returns is reduced because input from the buyer’s circle of trust reduces or even curtails dissatisfaction, buyer’s remorse and conflict associated with the purchasing decision.
PollCart earns a commission based on a percentage of the polled shopping cart total as well as on recommending alternate products if the polling results in a declined purchase.
Williams stated that the idea for his product comes from both a lifetime of participating in e-commerce and his educational path, which has focused both on psychology and marketing.
The PollCart team is currently creating a demonstration environment for the patent-pending technology and business process using the popular Shopify platform. The first version of the plug-in will be available to Shopify e-commerce platform users. Subsequent versions will be available to any e-commerce platform via custom API integration or conceptual license for in-house integration.
The Founder/CEO of a flourishing non-profit organization dedicated to educating and feeding children in rural Kenya recently asked me what I had learned about leading an organization through a re-visioning process. My leadership experience for forty years was primarily in the realm of growth for youth ministries and churches, but the principles that worked in those contexts seem to be transferable to the profit and non-profit world as well. Now, as Director of Customer Engagement for a social e-commerce business, I’m finding that the same principles are very applicable in this world as well.
One of the most helpful/successful tools we employed was the simple, yet profound problem-solving model known as Force Field Analysis. Developed in the 1940’s, by American social psychologist, Kurt Lewin, this tool has made significant contributions to the fields of social science, psychology, social psychology, community psychology, organizational development, process management, and change management. It served to guide us and keep us focused through an excellent and helpful evaluation process, and facilitate prioritization of vital next steps and goals.
Lewin taught that an organization’s current status is held in balance by the convergence of two opposing sets of forces. One set, driving forces, was comprised of the attitudes, actions, and paradigms that seemed to move the organization toward the desired goal or outcome. The other set, restraining forces, were those obstacles that inhibited forward movement, and, if left unchecked, could cause decline.
He championed the concept that organizations were not static but dynamic, continually influenced by this balance of forces working in opposite directions. In order for the organization to move toward the desired future outcome, the driving forces had to prevail over the restraining forces.
Force Field Analysis Steps
Just to give a brief overview of how we would utilize this concept in seeking to stay on track in our vision toward our desirable outcome, we would typically:
1st, Revisit and re-assert our identity as an organization, represented by the left margin, and reach an agreement on where we were currently in our journey. This present status would be represented by a vertical line somewhere to the right of where we had started, but not all the way to the right margin.
2nd, Describe the desired outcome, situation or vision. This would be a vertical line on the right margin.
3rd, Discuss what could happen to our organization if we continued in the current condition and no changes were made.
4th, Compile a list of all the positive forces driving us toward the desired outcome.
5th, List all of the negative forces holding us back from progressing toward the vision.
6th, Assess the identified positive and negative forces according to validity, flexibility, and significance.
7th, Assign each force a score on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being weakest and 10 being most powerful.
8th, Chart all of the forces, with the driving forces on the left pushing the current state toward the right, and the restraining forces on the right, pushing back against the current state. (We would also indicate the level of strength of each force from the 7th step.
9th, Decide if progress toward the goal is realistic and achievable.
10th, Discuss how progress can be impacted by decreasing the strength of restraining forces and/or bolstering the driving forces.
11th, Prioritize and plan implementation of desired actions.
Lewin would also caution
It is important to remember that Lewin would also caution that fueling the driving forces or diminishing the restraining forces could increase or decrease other forces and even generate new ones.
We’ll go into more details on how to incorporate the Force Field Analysis model into various vision/problem-solving situations in our next blog. If you have questions about how to employ it, don’t hesitate to ask. We at PollCart welcome your inquiries and we’re constantly learning and growing along our own entrepreneurial journey.
If you’re a larger company, it is wise to identify a small visionary group of board members or staff to work together on the vision and strategic planning. We found that most of the time it was far more efficient and effective to work with a representative sub-team who would present their recommendations to the larger leadership team, board, and staff than to try to accomplish strategic planning with the whole gang.
How often should I revision?
How often should a company regroup and re-vision? Though we were constantly evaluating and strategizing, we seemed to go through a major regrouping, refocus, and re-vision every 1 to 3 years. That timing served us well and kept us moving forward with most team members enthusiastically engaged.
One piece of advice on leading successful change is to not call it change, but growth. “Change” can be kind of daunting/intimidating for some folks, but everyone knows it’s important to keep “growing.” Stagnant stuff dies or is dead already. If we’re alive as an organization we must grow, always being green.
It is vital that the growth sub-team do a good job of keeping the greater board or staff apprised of their progress along, and not wait until the final report. Though not everyone wants or needs to be in on the hard work of vision and strategic planning, they do all want and need to be included, engaged, and consulted along the way.
Another thought: be sure to have established and agreed upon core values before you launch any re-visioning. Everyone involved needs to affirm the non-negotiables of the organization.
Vision and strategic planning are vital to the relevance and life of any organization. A very wise man once said “without vision, the people perish.”
Enjoy the Journey!
Chuck Williams is the PollCart Engagement Director and retired pastor of Live Oak Community Church in Lubbock, Texas. His book Eternal Route 66 invites travelers to journey from Chicago to Los Angeles while introducing the Bible’s books. Chuck’s entrepreneurial spirit was inherited by his son Rich, creator of PollCart.
PollCart Social Commerce is the single most effective way to streamline marketing processes to increase productivity, efficiency and ROI.
“PollCart Social Commerce activation ranges from a Shopify plugin to custom API integration. Marketers get focused, specific customer-suggested improvements on products they offer and checkout peer-polling that helps convert uncertain customers who organically refer friends and family. Minimal upfront investment accompanies simple commissions for successful sales and referrals.”
— Rich Williams, Founder
“My business partner, Rich Williams, and I are preparing to launch a new shopping cart plug-in that we believe will be disruptive to customer engagement marketing. We’d love to share it with you and your audience. Please let us know if we can help.”
— Doug Berman, Co-Founder
We are changing our industry by making shopping social again. And with good reason. Buyers have an option to poll their friends and family as part of checkout to decide whether or not they should buy the item, and on a positive return, checkout automatically completes, the card is charged and the item shipped. PollCart disrupts the industry by adding an optional step to checkout to get purchase feedback that determines the purchase.
It’s innovative because typical mindset is to streamline checkout as much as possible, but we’re adding an additional step to purchase that would have otherwise never happened or been postponed, often indefinitely. The friends and family polled become powerful referrals, all because they legitimately participated in a friend’s purchase.
How do Shopify owners boost sales and increase referrals in a Shopify e-commerce online store? Here are some PollCart thoughts on improving cart abandonment rate and shortening the sales cycle from window shopping to viral customer grassroots online marketing.
Boost Sales. Give your customers the ability to ask their friends and family AFTER they check out. At PollCart Social Commerce, our bottom-line commitment is to INCREASE SALES. Sales from keeping your customers out of the e-commerce black hole, sales from referrals with a new interest in your site or sales from customers who enjoy the novelty to social commerce, we’re not picky, so join our email list to participate in the conversation.
Increase Referrals. Your customers may not want to “market” to their friends and family, but they’re glad to involve their opinions in their consumer journey.
Cart Abandonment. Potential buyers need feedback from family members about the budget, product reviews from experts, and general opinions from friends. These are three great reasons to leave your site, even with good intentions, and possibly never return.
Shortening the Sales Cycle. Everything from Initial Contact to Closing and Referral can potentially happen in one visit. Listrak averages the current abandonment rate at 77% and no one knows for sure how many of those customers will return.
Avoid the E-Commerce Black Hole. The E-Commerce Black Hole is where a customer that leaves your site goes for an hour, a week, a month or a year before they may or may not return to buy.
Viral Customer Grass Roots Marketing. PollCart uses texts and emails from your customers to their friends and family to spark interest in your product. Potential buyers can block ads and ignore spam marketing, but welcome the opportunity to participate in a friend or loved one’s online purchase.
Install PollCart for Shopify. If you own a Shopify store, the PollCart Social Commerce gives you the ability to make these improvements to your store by adding our patented “Ask Some Friends” button to checkout.
One way to prevent the E-Commerce Black Hole is to provide a medium for buyers to communicate with experts, friends, family and coworkers as part of your checkout. Making this channel available nurtures Social Commerce, user contributions to assist online buying and selling of products and services. Users who can complete checkout, pending approval from those they would otherwise leave your site to seek out, beforehand, check out the first time and never enter the E-Commerce Black Hole.
Users who can complete checkout with a Social Commerce option avoid the Black Hole. Their purchase is approved afterward by the ones they would otherwise have to leave your site to ask. They can buy the first time they visit your site. They will be confident that if their social or expert circle doesn’t approve the purchase, they won’t have to return the item or cancel the purchase.
Social Commerce prevents the E-Commerce Black Hole by not only preventing your customer from ending up there, but the right Social Commerce platform can provide insight into many of the questions asked in the E-Commerce Black Hole and answers to other issues previously addressed outside of your retailer range. Social Commerce gives us the ability to respond to questions like this:
Who are they talking to?
What are they saying?
When will they buy?
Where will they buy it?
Why are they waiting?
Social Commerce lets us dig deeper, too, learning:
Who are my future customers?
What will future customers buy?
When will these referrals return?
Where will these references look when they have a similar need?
Why didn’t I embrace Social Commerce sooner?
I like that last one best. Why don’t you embrace Social Commerce?