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!

From Cart to Checkout: PollCart Thoughts on Reducing the Abandoned Shopping Cart Phenomenon

Various strategies for reducing abandoned shopping carts

The international band of technologists, business experts and people of mystery known as the PollCart team got together to review how the PollCart system encourages additional customer engagement and additional sales.  As you can imagine, security was deployed as crowds rushed the conference room to hear the insights.  Since we didn’t want you to brave the alligator-filled moats around the vast and palatial PollCart headquarters, we thought we’d share it with you.

We took a look at this article from about reducing shopping cart abandonment.  VWO provided a very scientific and mathy formula for calculating a “cart abandonment rate,” or as we refer to it, CAR.

CAR = 1 – (Number of Orders Placed/Number of Shopping Carts Created)

That looks complicated and official.  And probably peer reviewed and carved into a stone tablet.  But what does this tell us?

Here is what is important and how it impacts online retailers:

  • The abandonment rate in the home retail industry is almost 74%.
  • The abandonment rate in the fashion industry is almost 75%.
  • The abandonment rate in the travel industry is an astounding 81%.

You are a retailer.  You put work into developing or curating your products.  You spend a lot of time and money developing a website.  You spend a lot of time and money on an SEO and marketing strategy.  Customers show up.  Customers choose products.  Customers leave.

How do you get those customers to pull the trigger and buy when they are clearly interested enough in your products to put them in a shopping cart?

Customers abandon shopping carts primarily for encountering unexpected costs.  Often, these costs involve shipping, but there can be tax and service fees.  It may be difficult to get these customers back.

However, the next largest category of lost customers are those who were just browsing.  Can they be tempted into buying?  What if there were a mechanism for them to show their friends?  Perhaps Social Commerce, where individuals online share their shopping experience, could induce additional sales, particularly additional sales that would otherwise be lost because they were just browsing.

PollCart gives these customers the ability to get their friends and family involved in the buying the process.  It creates an event around the buying process and puts the buying decision in the hands of trusted people when the customer was ready to abandon the transaction.

PollCart gives the retailer another chance to sell when the sale was already lost!  These are incremental sales for customers in whom you already have an investment!  In addition, you have just reached one, two, five or more potential customers when one potential customer has already vouched for you and your products.  This is word-of-mouth advertising and customer engagement gone viral!

What is PollCart?

PollCart is a forward-thinking new platform that turns shopping into an authentic Social Commerce® experience. Our users can easily know the consumer opinions of friends and loved ones after they 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 purchases based on the opinions and suggestions of real people they actually trust!

PollCart works with online stores to create an approval poll for an online purchase. The buyer creates the poll as part of the checkout process and validates her card for the item, distributing the poll. When the item is approved by one or more contacts, the online store charges the card and processes the order, shipping the item. Our targets include abandoned shopping cart items; big ticket items a customer might otherwise wait for or never buy and fun items typically bought with a group, similar to taking your friends shopping at the mall.

PollCart makes a percentage of the initial cart polled and sends the contacts links to approve the item with referral information, and affiliate sales billed at a higher percentage of the total purchase. PollCart eases the minds of buyers who may otherwise return the item or simply not make desired purchases. The few steps and short time required to create and complete a poll guarantee faster shipment and receipt than traditional forms of opinion gathering. Because the buyer only has to visit a site once, the question of whether or not she will return and purchase the item is not a concern.

PollCart’s landing pages shows the participants votes and comments, giving the voters opportunities to change their opinion or suggest alternatives with item links on the participating website. PollCart gives the user options to share their results on social media and share anonymized product poll feedback with the retailer. The users can create an account for additional features or maintain anonymity as a guest, communicating with PollCart’s API through encrypted links.

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 our plugin will be available to Shopify ecommerce platform users first and soon thereafter customizable via custom API integration into any ecommerce platform or conceptual license for in-house integration.

PollCart aims to shed light on the informational black hole that exists during the time between a user’s first visit and expressed desire for a product and their possible eventual return to purchase the item. We aim to pry the items from sitting in an eCommerce shopping cart or wishlist for often months or years. PollCart is a new platform on a quest to turn shopping into a social experience and let users share their opinions. PollCart: Empowering consumers through opinions they actually trust!


Patent Pending PollCart Poetry Slam

Sixty Second Ad Version

Some companies make announcements via press releases, t.v. commercials or skywriting. At PollCart (coming soon to an e-commerce shopping cart near you), we (or at least Rich Williams) announce the filing of our patent application by reading it at a poetry slam. Let’s get weird! —dougBerman

Lots of people have ideas. Some people get those ideas patented. Only one person reads that patent at a poetry slam.

Say “hello” to PollCart. — jonnyMack (iagreewithjonny)

Jonny, Doug and I spent some time this weekend creating this video, please share if you like the crazy idea we had! I attended the Dallas Poetry Slam to present the PollCart patent through neither press release nor white paper, but SLAM POETRY. —filthyRich

On March 10, 2016, PollCart Social Commerce filed their first patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Most companies announce their patents with a series of press releases and white papers. PollCart found the best way to present their patent to the world. PollCart founder, Rich Williams, attended the Dallas Poetry Slam to present PollCart through neither press release nor white paper, but SLAM POETRY.

Extended PollCart Patent Pending Poetry Slam

I Want $150 Asics and I Want Them Now: The Ecommerce Strategy

During a recent study, Callie* told me a riveting story of wanting to buy $150 shoes and how she communicated with her husband, Tom*. Callie is a distance runner who typically runs 5 miles every morning before 6:00 a.m. and gets to work by eight where she parks at the top of the garage, does five flights of stairs, then goes into her building six flights up where she changes into her designer pumps for her legal job.

Queen: I Want it ALL!

From “After 18 years of innovation, the Nimbus® series continues as one of ASICS’ most recognized high performing footwear. The new GEL® placement offers modernized geometry of cushioning, designed to improve adaptability and mitigate brisk impacts. Improved Guidance Line® technology harmoniously syncs componentry to embrace the motions of the runner’s gait cycle. $150”

$150 Asics

Callie’s active lifestyle has contributed to a number of injuries and turning 40 has not helped with her knee and heel sensitivity that she treats with massage therapy and ice. Shoes designed for an active pronator are a must. Callie picks up new Asics about every three months and typically just asks Tom if there’s money in the bank before she hits up Asics’ frequent shopper ecommerce platform.

If you feel like you can’t relate to Callie or Tom, here’s the thing—neither can I. Let me tell you Tom and Callie’s real story: Callie is actually a busy mom and real estate agent. Callie hasn’t jogged in years and is trying to start a conversation with Tom, but it’s a “hard talk to have” when she wants something that is a “low priority” for her husband. Callie loves the way Asics Nimbus look with her jeans and they’re certainly comfortable, but how do you ask your spouse for $150 shoes when you can’t even give a pair of Chuck Taylors a run for their money?

Callie is overwhelmed because an item she actively wants, but certainly does not need is not an item Tom considers a good purchase. If Callie is lucky she can wait for birthday or Christmas and hope to see those aqua-mint, titanium and turquoise runners under the tree.

Let’s look at some other problems from our study associated with non-purchases or delayed buying and find a theme:

  • I can’t get in touch with anyone with expertise.
  • I struggle to gain approval if it’s expensive.
  • I’m not buying it if it means I can’t pay the bills.
  • I have to remember to buy it before the sale ends.
  • My friends, family and wife’s needs are different than mine.
  • I make her wait 30 days and she normally forgets.
  • I don’t ask or buy if I know he’s just going to say no.

Callie #1 legitimately needs those $150 Asics, I think we can all agree on that. But who decides if Callie #2’s reasons are important? In some relationships, Callie does. In some relationships, Tom does. In most relationships Tom and Callie strike a delicate balance with how they ask for items like a complicated game of chess.

What is Conversion? Ryan Kettler calls a website conversion “getting your visitors to do what you want them to do: Buy your product. (1) But ecommerce trends don’t just call for our target market, avid runners to buy $150 shoes, but a thoughtful ecommerce manager using an intelligent conversion optimizer is looking at ways to entice Callie #2.

Something I’ve noticed is that when I buy my wife Johanna a new pair of Chucks, she almost always finds time to go pick up a new pair of work shoes. Buying her hip sneakers is fun for me, but buying quality work shoes is important for her confidence. But in this scenario, Johanna picks my time to splurge on a gift as her time to invest in workwear. You can use your imagination when I imply that we have a similar system with “fun” and “functional” underwear. Like I said, complicated. Asics may have the best shopping cart according to the latest ecommerce trends, but if they can’t get Tom, they can’t get Callie, and if they can’t get Johanna, they won’t get Rich.


11378659_994706603907715_1554912690_nfilthyRich is the founder of PollCart: Empowering consumers through opinions they actually trust! PollCart is a forward-thinking new platform that turns shopping into an authentic social experience. 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.

*Real names changed to protect those from who we are grateful for their stories.

(1) What is a Website Conversion? by Ryan Kettler, April 24, 2012$product1$



Friday I’m in Love with my eCommerce Platforms

“…as we’re walking by, I see that there’s a chalkboard…and it literally says, ‘Don’t worry ladies, your husbands called, they said it’s OK to come in and buy something.’…It really made me want to go in and buy the most expensive thing that they have, and then just come back the next day with a giant black eye. And just be like, ‘You lied, Zales. He didn’t call. He wasn’t OK with that.’


— Jesse Klein, Comedy Central–jessi-klein–zales-diamond-outlet

I like to send variations of the word “communicate” to my wife Johanna occasionally. Etacinummoc,, comunicar, etc. “What are you doing?” she writes.

“Communicating.” But why? Usually because I want to drive my best shopping cart into the latest eCommerce trends. We’ve worked out a complicated system of how and when things get bought and with my thirtysomething pairs of shoes in my closet and her four, I end up wanting to buy things more. A lot more.

An eCommerce manager should be constantly working this type of communication into her eCommerce strategy, but even with the best conversion optimizer, she can’t know how couples communicate when they want to buy something.


  • “What do you think of this? All inclusive, decent price, passports are ready.”
  • “Can i get this i will work for it?”
  • “Can i order this purse it’s on sale?”
  • “Can you do me a favor?”
  • “Hey there’s this expensive item i want do you think we can work something out?”
  • “I found something i can’t live without…”
  • “It costs too much but we really need it…”
  • “It’s a little high but what do you think?”
  • “New mattress 500 yes or no?”


We beg like grumpyCat on our best days. On my worst days, Johanna and I have gotten into heated text battles over $25 purchases. Amazon’s inability to predict this kind of struggle proves that even the best online store builder in the world is no help to me when I’ve already ordered two pair of shoes this month.

Couples have a comfort zone for personal shopping, anywhere between $10—$1000 or more that an individual member of a partnership can spend without consulting. But when items are above this comfort zone, what are the rules? What is conversion like for couples who are not immediately onboard with their partner’s purchase?

eCommerce platforms depend on this communication for their website conversion from browser to buyer, but know relatively little about it. These ten snippets might be the closest an eCommerce marketing professional gets to the actual fire, but the fire is hot. Stay tuned as we dig into what your customers are saying to their partners in this black hole. Because if you see it Monday and by Friday you’re not in love, you may just never buy it at all. Conversion thwarted.


“It seems to me that maybe pretty much always means no.”

— Jack Johnson, Flake

PollCart is a new platform on a quest to turn shopping into a social experience and let users share their opinions.