Inside the E-Commerce Black Hole or My Abandoned Cart Buyer’s Journey with Bombas.com

This anecdote is how I describe the e-commerce black hole. Here’s what you know, a buyer with a unique IP or email address landed on your homepage after an organic Google search, navigated to a few of your product pages before landing on a particular product, actively spending two minutes browsing the page, adding the item to their cart and ultimately…

VANISHING

We knew so much. Our analytics and inbound marketing software worked as promised, the customer responded to our Call To Action, then, gone. Where did our customer go?

THE E-COMMERCE BLACK HOLE

We can identify them if they return, and we know what they’re interested in, but our information stops there. We don’t know who to associate with that email or IP address. We don’t know what they are saying or thinking about the product. We don’t know when or whether they will return. We don’t know where they will buy the product or which product they’ll buy. We don’t know why they left, good guesses maybe? And we don’t know how they will buy and if our analytics and inbound software will detect a continuance of the buyer journey or count the first contact as an unfulfilled abandoned cart and the new purchase as a short, successful journey.

Now here’s the e-commerce black hole in my personal life

I recently saw an extraordinarily moving Bombas Socks commercial recommended and liked by some my Facebook friends. I immediately embraced their call to action to provide socks for the homeless and headed straight to their website to buy my first eight-pack of Bombas socks.

That’s when I realized that Bombas socks are $12 per pair. Even with a free pair going to a homeless shelter, $6/pair is considerably more than I’ve ever spent on even the nicest pairs of socks, like Under Armor or Nike.

I became a devangelist. I took to Facebook while still in sticker shock and wrote the following:

Rich Williams was feeling skeptical. January 16 · Plano “I’m going to Walmart and donating 100 pairs of socks to Dallas Life Homeless Shelter. It will cost considerably less than six pairs of Bombas socks. Love the ad, though…”

That’s WHAT I was saying.

But I had left bombas.com and dove deep into the e-commerce black hole. Bombas had some insight into my black hole experience on account of my Facebook broadcast, but following the customer journey through the e-commerce black hole is rarely that simple. Bombas took the opportunity to reach out to me in the black hole:

Bombas “Hey Rich, give our socks a try, and if you don’t think they’re worth every penny, it’s your money back. That’s our Happiness Guarantee!” January 19 at 8:38 am

But my consumer journey wouldn’t continue for another two weeks.

A week later, I wore my Hanes socks with my Asics Onitsuka Tiger fencing shoes to work on a day I’ll never forget. Some out-of-town visitors to our office wanted to try a Mexican food restaurant a mile away from our offices, and the group was excited to walk the mile to and from the restaurant. Something about the Tigers and the Hanes combined with my sweaty feet to cause enough friction to create a baseball-sized blister on the bottom of my left foot. I complained to a co-worker the next day who commented that my socks might be to blame for my nuisance injury and my subconscious got busy.

On February 2, 2017, I ordered three pairs of Bombas socks. My consumer journey brought me back to their website where a free shipping offer encouraged me to buy three pairs instead of two, and I couldn’t wait to wear my Bombas socks with my New Balance shoes that fit a little better for the next work-related lunch adventure. Coincidently their largest socks were too tight for my size 14 feet, but I could feel a considerable difference and notice their striking design right up until my circulation slowed and my feet fell asleep.

So what am I now? A dissatisfied user who will probably return the product which is also a brand evangelist for a company I have either loved or hated since I saw the first video. The socks don’t fit me, but they’ll probably fit you, and I get the appeal. They also donate a pair to a homeless shelter for each pair bought. I’m assuming Bombas will accommodate my wife and preschooler.

So do you clearly understand how I feel about Bombas? Probably not. No one ever said what you see when you have insight into the customer’s buying journey through the e-commerce black hole would be clear.

My satisfied purchase came from Under Armour on Amazon.com nine days later once I realized the Bombas weren’t going to work. They had considerably more cotton and reliably come sized to fit large feet.

So let’s break down my buying journey with Bombas so far including my two weeks in the e-commerce black hole.

WHO …is the buyer?

Some pertinent facts about me:

  • I’m a sucker for good marketing
  • I like the Tom’s Shoes’ buy one give one concept
  • I feel strongly about clothing (and feeding/housing) the homeless
  • I like tattoos (see video)
  • I am an entrepreneur
  • I’ve bought socks in the premium athletic range before, not just Walmart or Hanes
  • I like feeling like someone is reading my Facebook comments
  • I’m funny and like to reward brands I like.
  • I’m listening to Sleigh Bells and Lana Del Rey while I write this.

WHAT …was I saying?

Bombas caught me talking smack about their prices. I tagged them for fun but was not expecting a reply. When they saw the comments on my post, they also noticed my friends agreeing that though my friends had visited bombas.com, they too felt like the socks were too expensive.

WHEN …would I buy?

About 16 days would pass between my first rendezvous with Bombas and my paid checkout of $33.60. The jury is still out on whether or not I will return the socks.

A major factor in my purchase was my ill-fated walk to the Mexican restaurant that I’m pretty certain had nothing to do with Bombas.com. Bombas had done an excellent job of educating me about their superiority to traditional blister-enhancing socks before I suffered the worst blister I had ever experienced.

WHERE …will I buy the product?

“Where” is a major unknown. Though I eventually bought three pairs from Bombas.com for $33.60, I later experienced a satisfied purchase from Amazon of 6 pairs for $15. I also like the XL socks available at Walmart (not Target) and frequent Destination XL Big and Tall Men’s Clothing.

WHY …did I not buy the first time?

In other words, why did I leave the lot? Bombas had me where they wanted me; I had “ugly cried” over their homeless Facebook video and gone straight to their site. They even had socks they claimed would fit my large feet.

BUT

One pair cost as much as six pairs of the competition. I felt so strongly about this BUT that I took to Facebook to make jokes at Bombas’ expense. I haven’t felt so strongly about a BUT since Anna Nicole’s GUESS Jeans campaign.

HOW …will I buy?

I need my laptop with my credit card autofill software and $35 available to make this purchase. I prefer not to enter a credit card on my iPhone, and the purchase date coincides with a payday occurring between discovery and purchase.

Who experiences the e-commerce black hole?

Retailers experience the e-commerce black hole when a prospective customer arrives at their site and spends time with a product, possibly placing the item in a cart or obtaining pricing, then disappears, often without identifying information. The customer may be comparing prices, soliciting feedback, disinterested or low on budget or simply waiting.

Who are your customers asking?

Customers ask co-buyers such as spouses, roommates or coworkers about budget accessibility. Customers ask their friends and family with experience or knowledge of the product.

Customers seek out acquaintances or even strangers who have expertise on the product. Young customers may require permission, as could a boss/worker relationship. Feedback comes in the form of:

Support: Financial, Agreement, Social

  • “Can we afford this right now?”
  • “Is this something we would all use?”
  • “Would you go out in public with me if I had these pants on?”

Permission: Parent, Boss

  • “Mom, can I buy this Arcade Fire t-shirt?”
  • “Boss, does this laptop meet corporate security requirements?”

Advice: Expertise, Experience, Opinion

  • “As a lighting designer, which light bulb would you use?”
  • “Did you like that weed eater you bought at the home improvement store?”
  • “Do you think the black guitar would look better on stage than the red one?”

Who benefits from understanding the e-commerce black hole?

A retailer who knows their customer’s experience in the e-commerce black hole can market more efficiently, price for the opportunity, advertise to a more appropriate target and understand which customers not to focus energy and resources. Retailers can predict their sales cycle more accurately and budget, stock, and market accordingly. Tools that provide insight into the e-commerce black hole give retailers an edge when many unknowns become known or at least more familiar.

What are your customers saying?

Customers have developed an opinion about your product based on their first online impression, and though they have not purchased, they could already be evangelists or “devangelists” for your brand. The evangelists would have already bought your product if it wasn’t for _____* and devangelists think your product is too expensive, poorly designed and useless. Winning over a devangelist is harsh, but allowing an evangelist to capture a buying opportunity before they enter the e-commerce black hole might be possible given the right tools.

*If only we knew that 🙂

When will the customer buy?

Understanding what marketers call the Effective Frequency or “the number of times a person must be exposed to an advertising message before a response is made and before the exposure is considered wasteful” also means understanding the “Rule of Seven” and its associated duration.

“I do not know who created the concept, but “The Rule of Seven” was widely popularized by Dr. Jeffrey Lant.”

“A good starting point is the ‘Rule of Seven,’ formulated by the marketing expert Dr. Jeffrey Lant. It states that to penetrate the buyer’s consciousness and make significant penetration in a given market, you have to contact those people a minimum of seven times within an 18-month period.” 

I must have seen/heard Bombas.com twenty times during my two weeks of Bombas denial.

When will the customer return?

How can we affect the buyer’s return time? One could argue that the ideal time between first contact and paid purchase is none, buying the item immediately.

How can we encourage the user to buy immediately without scammy pricing gimmicks or ransomware threats?

One recent experience I had with a custom watch band company DaLuca Straps sent me some friendly emails offering to help me complete checkout after I had abandoned a cart where I had added a few bands to compare prices.

Would making it easier to compare prices decrease abandoned shopping cart rates? Does it matter?

Where will the customer buy the product?

I also add “Has the customer bought this already from somewhere else?” to this question. Will the customer buy the same product or a different product from another retailer? Will the user log on to your website with a different email address from a different IP address and order the product later? You may never know. Can you track that type of behavior?

Pardot claims to be able to track anonymous users on different devices and starts at $1125/mo. for up to five users with SalesforceIQ.

Where is the customer looking?

Walmart has cookies. Walmart has aisles of chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and Oreos. Not the kind of cookies we need, and if the buyer sees your Stainless-Steel Casio Men’s Atomic-Solar G-Shock Watch on your website for $95.92 but goes into Walmart and buys one with cash from the jewelry counter along with some Oreos.

So without “a small piece of data sent from a website and stored on the user’s computer by the user’s web browser while the user is browsing,” we may have lost the buyer’s journey forever, never knowing why.

How can we prevent the (else) WHERE?

  • Don’t let the customer leave the lot
  • Be a price leader compared with brick and mortar
  • Offer quick shipping and get the product in the mail fast
  • Provide superior customer service before and after the sale
  • Educate the customer further and better than a brick and mortar employee can
  • Track the buyers ATM and credit card spending, GPS location and sleep habits
  • Offer both kinds of cookies on your website

Where is the customer looking for advice, expertise, and information?

  • Can you provide more trusted reviews than consumer reports?
  • Can you accumulate more quality reviews than Amazon?
  • Are you the buyer’s brother?
  • Are you the cable guy installing digital at the neighbor’s house?
  • Are you the buyer’s boss’s “guy” in your industry?
  • Are you Richard Karn from TV’s Home Improvement?

No? But what can you do? Get BUILT.

Remember Both, URLs, Information, Links, Time.

  • Appeal to BOTH your customers and those whom your customers seek feedback from, like by providing a simple explanation for your customer and then the technical specifications for his brother that works at Radio Shack.
  • Make your URLs direct and shareable for feedback.
  • Provide honest, accurate INFORMATION.
  • LINK to unbiased external reviews.
  • Treat the buyer’s TIME as if it were yours.

Why is the customer hesitating?

Our CRM HubSpot addresses some of these in their article, “8 Reasons for Shopping Cart Abandonment.”

Can control: Price, Fit, Variety, Trust, Stock

  • Price would include the inability to afford.
  • Fit could be a t-shirt, an auto part or a laptop bag.
  • Variety could be a lack of color or customization options.
  • Trust could mean your website looks insecure on account of spelling or too little information.
  • Customer privacy concerns? Guest checkout.
  • “Stock” would be if you are simply out of the particular product the user wants.
  • Tender, accept different forms of payment, not Tinder.
  • Medium, mobile, responsive, other technical.

Can’t control

  • Window shopping
  • Information gathering for someone else
  • Competitor sale, special pricing, different than everyday price competition
  • 5pm? Battery dead? Red light, green? Dropped phone in the toilet?
  • However fast your shipping is, the buyer needs it sooner.

Why do retailers need insight to the e-commerce black hole?

If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you.

How can I know my customer better?

Last week, my team read that the best way to know who your ideal customer is to look at your current customers.

Before we had any customers.

Bad advice? No, just not timely before you have one single customer.

Here are some things I’ve done to get to know my customers before I had any:

  • I went to a meetup and spent three hours shaking hands with potential customers who use a particular software platform we work integrated.
  • I paid for a booth at a guitar show to show off a guitar sheet music app.
  • I called ten failed customer journey participants and offered them $50 each to tell me why they didn’t buy through a series of questions.
  • I’m writing an article about the E-Commerce Black Hole for customers unfamiliar with the concept.

I also recommend inbound marketing software and analytics packages if you have the time, resources and knowledge to make meaningful interpretations of their data.

How can I keep my customer from “leaving the car lot?”

I’m going to look online now for the actual source of the concept for used car salespeople. Hold, please.

Ok, see, “Salesmen Have Ways to Mess With Your Head” for the car keys trick in WiseBread’s Life Hack, “17 Things Car Salesmen Don’t Want You to Know.”

So, take their keys.

Or do the math.

Customers in the e-commerce black hole are meeting particular needs and lining up ducks that for some reason have to be in a row before they return and purchase your item.

If you can help them line up those ducks during their first visit, might they never leave? What if their ducks were in such a row, they felt comfortable buying on the first contact. What do those ducks look like?

Does your customer even have to enter the E-Commerce Black Hole?

Filthy Rich Williams lives in Dallas, has a four-year-old, watches comedy and rocks shows, and likes socks, Shark Tank and Lana Del Rey.

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.