Why disrupt a simple streamlined checkout?

Why disrupt the streamlined, simplified checkout?

A lot of internet business models suggest finding ways to charge other people for something they can already do for free. PollCart’s value add is in its integration with checkout.

We love to talk about checkout. Get email updates to continue the conversation about  maximizing checkout, increasing sales and solving other common e-commerce dilemmas.

Why involve yourself in checkout?

When your friend or family member polls you on the decision to buy a Google Home voice-activated speaker powered by the Google Assistant, your opinion matters. This purchase rests on your ability to research the brand and product and literally vote on whether or not the sale goes through. You aren’t participating in a meaningless opinion poll, and that’s why you care enough to find out more about Google Home and [gasp] maybe even buy one too!

Why not just send a successful poll recipient a link to buy the item?

Investors and advisors to PollCart have advised us to find ways to charge individuals to text their friends and get their thoughts on something. That’s already free. We charge retailers a reasonable commission so that the impulse buyer can buy NOW and not abandon their cart in favor of free opinion gathering tools already abundant and free.

In a Shopify article about cart abandonment, Shopify recently quoted the Baymard Institute, a web research company in the UK, saying, “67.45% of online shopping carts are abandoned.” PollCart buyers visit and buy during their first visit, and their friends seriously research and consider your product, too.

Because the purchase that wouldn’t have happened otherwise depends on their feedback.

PollCart isn’t bullsmart marketing. It’s not a gimmick. It’s a real connection to the buying process and an invitation to participate coming directly from someone you know and care about. Not spam. Not inconsequential. Legit.

Shopify owners can install our app today with a free 30-day trial. My phone number is 469-387-6294 and I would love to help you install it. We’re e-commerce experts by the way.

That’s why PollCart is integrated into checkout. We call it Checkout 3.0, and you should, too.

Question: Does PollCart add “friction” to the e-commerce checkout process?

We were recently approached by a pioneer of the one-page checkout with the criticism that PollCart adds “friction” to the buying process. Citing numerous studies, the entrepreneur introduced us to the Checkout Conversion Index (CCI) as popularized by bluesnap.com stating that “36% of sales conversion can be lost due to online checkout friction.” So I’d like to present three types of online checkouts:

  • Checkout with minimal friction.
  • Checkout with some friction.
  • Checkout that never begins.

Take a guess at which of these three has the least friction. I would propose a checkout that never begins has the least friction. I would further propose that removing the payment process of your checkout might also considerably improve “friction.” In fact, removing the buyer’s ability to put something in their cart and pay for it would eliminate checkout friction altogether.

PollCart focuses on the checkout that never begins.

Buyers who choose the PollCart option at checkout experience friction in the form of adding their Google contacts, emails and phone numbers for our purchase polls. Those polled also have the opportunity to enter your friction-filled checkout process in the form of a referral. Then they can checkout with some or minimal friction, but regardless, they begin your checkout process with odds of around 13 in 20 of completion (bluesnap.com, 2016). For those of you still smitten with bluesnap’s numbers, 64 is considerably more than zero.

100% of buyers who never enter the checkout process are not converted into sales.

Buyers must enter your checkout to experience checkout friction and become part of bluesnap’s statistic. So if your goal is to reduce checkout friction from a 36% loss rate to around a 10% loss rate, I propose you let PollCart focus on the checkout that never begins. You don’t have to hire a UX expert for that. Just PollCart. And by the way, we are UX experts. Shopify owners can install PollCart with a free 30-day trial and easy installation in the Shopify App Store.

Trademarked Social Commerce Slogan Gains Traction

PollCart Thoughts on Social Commerce

PollCart Trademarked Slogan Gains Traction

A long, long time ago, in a cubicle far, far away, the international band of technologists, business experts and people of mystery known as the PollCart team got together.  They were considering how the PollCart system connected customers to friends during an online transaction.  This was more than a simple survey.  This was recreating the experience of shopping with your friends, even if you are actually alone in your room.

In other words, this was Social Commerce.

We love to talk about Social Commerce and would love for you to join our email list.

A subcommittee of PollCart’s Office of the Deputy Subcommittee of Shopping Arts and Sciences burst into action.  Doing what startups do.  They trademarked “Social Commerce.”  Exhausted, the subcommittee then took a nap.

Months later, the team noticed that the phrase was used in an article on Fortune.com.  The article concerned Buzzfeed’s commerce efforts and how:

“BuzzFeed is chasing the holy grail of “social commerce,” an area that has eluded social platforms like Facebook for years and killed many other startups tackling the category along the way. F-commerce, so to speak, failed because people weren’t ready to shop on Facebook. Retailers have found integration with social platforms to be frustrating as well.”

We knew we were onto something.  After all, it was on Fortune.com.  Buzzfeed is chasing it down as well.

Buzzfeed has created a “Product Lab” to experiment until they find a form of commerce that works.

PollCart’s innovative shopping cart plug-in, perhaps?

“The big prize is, it feels like social commerce is going to be big two years from now, and lets figure out how to be ready.”

We agree.  However, we feel that Social Commerce is here now.  Even as consumer purchases move from bricks-and-mortar to online, people still interact.  Disagree?  Check out the amount and scope of product reviews on retailer sites.

PollCart provides customers a way to directly engage their family and friends in the online shopping process.  In the way it augments the online shopping process, PollCart provides a communal, interactive experience, much like a shopping trip to the mall.

For retailers, PollCart employs Social Commerce to turn your customers into your marketers.  With PollCart, customer acquisition is done by actual customers.  That is the power of Social Commerce.

PollCart—The Holy Grail of Social Commerce—specializes in customer acquisition and online shopping.
PollCart—The Holy Grail of Social Commerce—specializes in customer acquisition and online shopping.

Buzzfeed, PollCart has your Definition of Social Commerce

Social commerce sites like ours that offer e-commerce and shopify social media integration are paying close attention this Thanksgiving and Christmas to holiday online shopping polls where our culture’s tendency to shop with friends at the mall is slowly evolving into a desire to shop with friends online.

We’re announcing soon that our Shopify social media marketing app, PollCart: Social Commerce—where buyers login and use a friend poll at checkout to ask the question, “Should I buy this?”—will be released from Shopify beta into the mainstream Shopify social media app store where we’ll have link integration with Shopify’s newsletters and spotlights.

As a pioneer social commerce company in a fairly new social commerce industry, we’re seeing the definition of social commerce sites change, but our product, which will soon be making its way via API into private shopping cart suite installs for Drupal and lightspeed among others will become the best way to shop with friends. And you’ll be buying the newest Lego Polly Prissy Pants with friends online.

Shopify users, download our app today, and if you use another platform that could connect to our API, please send me a quick note. Check out this article to review what BuzzFeed is saying about Social Commerce. PollCart won’t increase your sales and referrals, your customers will.

Dad says, “Please Mr. PollCart and Thank You!”

“What is PollCart?” you might ask. The best way I know to describe it to you is by writing an imaginary letter from the perspective of a fictitious business owner. (I hope that soon there will be dozens of real letters flowing in.) So please read on, keeping in mind that this is my imagination speaking:

As an online retailer I was continually frustrated by the repeated reality that 3 out of 4 shoppers would take one or more of our products to the Shopping Cart, but never close the deal. I often thought, there’s got to be a way, with the technology available in our day, to give consumers the confidence they need to do the deal. There must be a way to bring in the support or encouragement the shopper needs to go ahead and press the “submit purchase” button.

Thankfully the imaginative people at PollCart have put their skills, wisdom, and understanding of human nature together to give us a chance to greatly improve the ability to make the sell, providing our potential customers with the products we’ve designed and offered to make their lives better.

Here’s how it works. (My own non-technical explanation.) The visitor to our website puts together her/his team of confidants, whom she/he trusts to give good advice on purchases she/he is considering.

Just names and email addresses. Then the shopping experience moves ahead. At check out the purchase is entered because the customer has the full assurance that, according to the parameters he or she has programmed in, their card will not be charged until the safety net of their PollCart team has performed its function. Then, boom. Our products are on the way to another customer!

I’ve considered several “fringe benefits” of PollCart, besides the major reduction in the shopping cart abandonment:

  • Fewer returns because of buyer remorse
  • New prospects for our products. (Those who are in the shopper’s PollCart community may very likely become interested in our products for their own needs.)
  • Huge bottom line upside. The tiny percentage PollCart charges for their services (and that’s only on completed purchases,) is so far outweighed by the increased sales, that it is actually one of those rare welcomed expenses.
  • We don’t have to hire staff or tie up staff to figure all the technology and details out, PollCart takes care of it turn-key. It just works.
  • The feedback we’re getting is indicating that the PollCart experience makes shopping on our site fun! Now that’s way cool!

Okay, so what’s not to like about that? In the grand scheme of things, we’re a smaller retailer, but it looks like the returns will increase exponentially the larger the sales volume. I said, “Please, Mr. PollCart,” and now I just want to say, “thank you!” This thing is going to change online retailing for good, and I’m glad our company had the opportunity to get in on the ground floor.

Thanks for working with me on the fictional story deal, but I hope it’s given you the vision of PollCart and that you see unlimited potential in this technology. The potential is here for improving retailer’s bottom line and turning online shopping into a personal connection experience. That’s your basic win – win!

By Chuck Williams

Chuck is a retired pastor, published author, and the father or PollCart founder and CEO, Rich Williams.

Uber of X: Is PollCart the Twitter of shopping?

Laura Entis recently wrote an Entrepreneur magazine article called ‘We’re the Uber of X!’ where she challenged the idea of simply creating a company to be the uber of lawn care or dry cleaning or whatever. It made me think about my “Going to the mall with you friends…” metaphor I frequently use when I describe PollCart’s power to make commerce social. I took it as a challenge to provide content for three new domains—uberofshopping.com, facebookofshopping.com and twitterofshopping.com—and create PollCart elevator pitches that answer the question: How is PollCart the X.com of shopping?

Uber

Uber is a tool used by professional drivers to find riders. The idea of a driver without Uber exists; he could sit at a corner in a black Mazda and approach pedestrians about perhaps climbing into his car. He could perhaps paint his Mazda yellow, get a taxi license and put a sign on his Mazda letting folks know that it would be safe to get in his car, dealing also with cash transactions and manual credit cards. Or, he can join the Uber force, drive to high-traffic areas and wait for Uber to send him the name and location of folks waiting to be picked up with linked accounts for secure payments.

I’m taking a business approach to Uber’s advantages because PollCart is a B2B product primarily. Just like riders ride with the Uber app, but drivers have the biggest opportunity to flourish with the platform. Buyers use PollCart, but the online retailers gain the greatest advantage from utilizing PollCart as a way to help buyers decide to go through with an otherwise-stalled transaction. Running an eCommerce site without PollCart—the Uber of Shopping—is like the Mazda driver hoping to court pedestrians when it comes to social buying dilemmas.

Facebook

The common value that PollCart shares with Facebook is vision. It’s not a question of who uses PollCart, it’s a question of how YOU use PollCart. I like to think they’ll make movies about my cut-throat business skills and creative genius, but for now, I’d like to think there’s a PollCart for everyone, kind of like how pretty much everybody either has a Facebook, shares an account with a partner or hates/avoids it and everyone they wen to high school with thinks they’re dead.

Facebook, like e-commerce is a daily part of most people’s lives and we intend to inject our brand of social commerce into each online purchase a consumer is willing to give us the opportunity to convert. We know not every purchase is a PollCart purchase, but we believe we’re working on a real verb. “Hey Jeff, how’ve you been? Facebook me.” becomes “Hey Jeff, should I buy this? I’ll PollCart you when I check out!” PollCart is the Facebook of Shopping.

Twitter

So why do I like Twitter? It’s instant, a timesaver. My followers can participate at any level they choose. If I share something cool, word gets around. I can share a product with a group of friends without feeling salesy. My friends can communicate with me about pretty much anything. Hmmm… those are many of the reasons I like PollCart.

But Twitter isn’t part of the e-commerce retail checkout, and PollCart is. So lookout out world, the Twitter of Shopping has arrived!

 

From Browse to Buy: PollCart Thoughts on Driving Customer Engagement

Various strategies for driving customer engagement – what’s old is new again

As the international band of technologists, business experts and people of mystery known as the PollCart team drives to the finish line of the development, we continue to discuss our solution with customer engagement experts in the online e-retailer world.  The puzzle is the same as it has ever been:  If a customer shows up, how do you get that customer to stay and purchase.

It is great when people show up and look around, browse, kick the tires and generally check things out.  How do you get from browse to buy?  In the buzzwords of our industry, how do you get the prospective customer to convert?

This brings me to the “6 Strategies to Drive Customer Engagement” article from Forbes by Erika Maguire from last year.  It makes the point that “[I]n order to survive today’s ever-changing landscape, businesses need to provide real-time, personalized experiences that reach customers just as they need them.”  It goes on to provide such examples as mobile push notifications or emails promoting sales.

The article promotes such strategies that we group in this way:

  1. Customer Experience.

The customer experience should be simple, easy to use and provide the customer with useful information to assist and encourage engagement with the company.

  1. Data, Big Data and More and Bigger Data.

Companies should take advantage of the data and analytics tools provided by customer engagement on social media.  This includes identifying trends for product development and for receiving and responding to customer feedback.  Most importantly, this includes using this information to anticipate and act on customer needs.

There was nothing groundbreaking in the article, as it was consistent with the research we had done while developing PollCart.  Our thought was not just how to engage with customers, but how to help customers engage with each other using the retailers products as the basis for the conversion.

This is Social Commerce!  This is customer engagement on steroids.  It is a truism in marketing that word of mouth advertising is the most effective advertising.  Would a push notice from OnlineStuff be more effective than a customer polling their friends about the awesome product form OnlineStuff that it is considering?  In this respect, PollCart’s Social Commerce strategy flips the paradigm, and the customer becomes the marketer.

Word of Mouth: What if Your Customers Are Your Customer Engagement Agents?

PollCart Thoughts on Driving Customer Engagement: Word of mouth is the ultimate advertising.  How do you get your customers to do your customer engagement bidding?

As the international band of technologists, business experts and people of mystery known as the PollCart team continues to read through its backlog of expert opinion articles, we come to the hospitality industry, where customer engagement and customer service are central to the business.

You may ask yourself, “as an online retailer (for example), how could this possibly apply to me?  After all, I typically do not engage with customers on a one-on-one, eye-to-eye basis.  It is all clicks and form-filling.  On occasion, someone may call for assistance.  But generally, customer nirvana means racking up sales without ever dealing with customers.”

Well, there are two flaws in this argument.  First, providing value for customers is generally how businesses make money.  However, this is not a General Biz 101 college-y course.

Second, customer experience is usually the difference between success and failure, even for online businesses.

According to a bigwig for a big-time hotel and resort, “Anyone who wants to get to the top 1% of customer satisfaction and loyalty needs to go beyond ‘service’ to the heart of creating a superior customer experience. And the way you get there is through customer engagement.”

He continues to say:  “But what we’re discussing, really, is engagement with the guests…did you find out how your guest was feeling and work on making a connection with them?”

What if you combine the customer engagement standards of The Ritz-Carlton with word-of-mouth advertising?  Sounds like a powerful combination.  This is Social Commerce!

At PollCart, we take the customer engagement and put it in the hands of actual customers!  These customers then engage with other potential customers, particularly friends and family.  This is in the form of a poll, but it is in the context of an actual customer asking about the purchase of an actual product with actual people providing actual guidance.

As we have discussed before, it is a truism in marketing that word of mouth advertising is the most effective advertising.  In this respect, PollCart’s Social Commerce strategy flips the paradigm, and the customer becomes your customer engagement director.

PollCart Users Buy, Share and Keep More Than Traditional E-Commerce Buyers

Investors, marketers and salesmen we’ve interviewed for PollCart have an important question for me: What problem does PollCart solve? We’ve identified a few, abandoned carts, customer referrals and purchase accountability, but my favorite part of PollCart is it’s novelty of surprise and delight.

So the question that follows is typically, “What problem does surprise and delight solve?”

Which is a difficult question to answer. Our last app, 12Bar took a musical task typically performed with a sharpie and paper onto the iPad, allowing organization, searchability and on-the-fly capabilities unavailable to the Sharpiest. But it was primarily a solution to the age old issue: Musicians just want to have fun.

Which was not a business problem.

So I started asking questions. I know what problem clothing solves, but what problem does height-of-fashion designer clothing solve?

I realize people need something to do, but what problem do the Dallas Cowboys, Mavericks, Stars and Texas Rangers solve? What problem do The Old 97’s, Toadies and Reverend Horton Heat solve? Folks need sports. Folks need to rock. Are these business problems?

In his article, “Building customer loyalty with surprise-and-delight marketing,” Ernan Ronan answers the surprise and delight question quite simply.

“Brands can build a greater connection to customers on an emotional level…If implemented successfully, brands can realize increased customer engagement, reduced churn, and greater ROI.”

Simplified, the problem is that customers don’t feel connected to brands on an emotional level and the solution is providing a surprising and delightfully fun experience. The business problems listed include:

  1. Customer Engagement
  2. Churn
  3. Return on Investment

PollCart surprises and delights its users bringing a sense of danger and adventure to shopping, involving their favorite people. And our favorite people love to decide our luxury retail fate. PollCart users buy, share and keep more than traditional e-commerce buyers and that my friend is both surprising and delightful.

We didn’t invent PollCart to solve the intense business problems it solves, but we fell in love with it because it does solve those problems and is fun as a slip and slide on one of those days where it’s sunny and rainy at the same time. Apparently being that fun solves a business problem. Or 3.

Rich Williams, MBA is the CEO of PollCart, a forward-thinking new platform that turns shopping into an authentic social experience. Our users can easily get to know the consumer opinions of friends and loved ones, even before they actually decide to make a purchase. With PollCart, you can share your shopping experience in the same way you share your status updates, moods and feelings through your favorite social media platforms. We ultimately aim to empower consumers and help them make informed purchased based on the opinions and suggestions of real people they actually trust!