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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
“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.
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.