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.

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 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!

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.’

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— Jesse Klein, Comedy Central

http://www.cc.com/jokes/e86j0l/stand-up-jessi-klein–jessi-klein–zales-diamond-outlet

I like to send variations of the word “communicate” to my wife Johanna occasionally. Etacinummoc, municate.com, 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.

canBuyThis

  • “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?”

hazCheez

We beg like grumpyCat on our best days. On my worst days, Johanna and I have gotten into heated text battles over $25 Amazon.com 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.

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

— Jack Johnson, Flake

https://youtu.be/5FnL3pNveM0

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