“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.
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 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.
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.
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!
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:
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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:
- Customer Engagement
- 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!
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 VWO.com 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!
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!
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