Monthly Archives: May 2013

  • e-commerce social media credit:

    We’d like to draw your attention to Armando Roggio’s sobering observations on e-commerce social media—in short, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Significant data is rolling in to support the idea that social media isn’t all it’s cracked up to be in terms of driving real traffic to your site. To forestall knee-jerk reactions, let the record show that traffic is by no means the sole parameter for social media success—rather, social media may best be suited to purposes other than traffic attraction.

    According to a recent E-commerce Quarterly report from Monetate, social media contributed about 1.55% of traffic to e-commerce sites and averaged a conversion rate of 0.71%. These figures are disappointing, to put it gently. The questions, then, become: why is this so, and how can social media be considered useful? Monetate’s Jay Baer hit the nail on the head when he identified social media efforts as “inherently additive pieces of the conversion funnel, rather than causative.” They enhance existing content, but they don’t replace it, and social media alone does not a conversion campaign make.

    Last-Click Attribution

    It all becomes clearer in the context of usage trends for major social media hubs—Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, et al. Though you could think of clicks from social media pages to your site as last-click attribution for marketing purposes, it isn’t as simple as that. Firstly, modern users would rightly be suspect of a company whose only form of contact was social media when just about everyone spreads their contact channels out across multiple media. Though that example’s facetious, it gets the point across: social media really isn’t a reliable way to secure lasting customer relationships, and it’s completely overhyped even as a first-contact point.

    So what’s the alternative? Again, think of social media additively. Contests, for example, work well via social media not because they instantly grab long-term consumers, but rather as a means of acquiring a few more email addresses at a time. From there, a well-constructed email campaign can obtain some real conversion results. Social media fits in the support slot, but will disappoint you if it’s asked to take center stage.

    E-Commerce Social Media Relationships

    The whole idea of customer relationships isn’t fundamentally predicated on this sale or that sale or a visit count. The best online customer relationships have more to do with sustained user habits: lingering on your site before purchasing, recommendations, better response to marketing, etc. E-commerce social media recognizes and reinforces these behaviors once the interest is already shown. It creates the fellowship and continuity that define many of the most successful brands, giving personality to your business and incentivizing involvement over time.

    It’s not as if the situation is hopeless. Social media campaigns, subsites, and the like do drive an appreciable number of sales in the bigger picture. Think of this traffic as a bonus! It’s by no means a backbone, though. You certainly wouldn’t turn a customer away if they happened upon your Facebook page via Google, but neither would you pour resources into capturing a sale from them the way you would with a substantial email response or referral.

  • magento e-commerce credit:

    Magento’s marketing team just released some heartening news regarding everyone’s favorite open-source platform: as of February 2013 (and according to Tom Robertshaw’s quarterly e-commerce survey), Magento e-commerce continues to be the leading platform among Alexa’s top one million sites. Not only that, but this is their third consecutive year at the top!

    For the uninitiated, Alexa is a noted web information authority and analytics database used by many sites to gauge their reach and popularity, both nationally and globally. According to platform signature survey results, Magento e-commerce secured an impressive 26% of Alexa’s top one million users. Moreover, this figure represents a 30% increase in market share year-over-year and it nearly triples the number of sites using the platforms in second and third place.

    In greater detail, Magento’s figures are even higher for just the busiest 100K sites, boasting a 28% share, again outstripping second place by a substantial margin. What does Magento have to say about the results?

    “Our business keeps growing for one simple reason,” opines founder Roy Rubin. “Our customers are succeeding.”

    And there you have it! Can’t get any more direct than that—Magento enables users, and through them reinvents customer expectations for global e-commerce. Here’s to next year!

  • In the most recent incarnation of its exclusive ecommerce research project, Ecommerce Quarterly, Monetate, the marketing and website optimization firm, showed definitively that social media marketing is not the powerhouse tool many thought it to be, at least when it comes to last-touch attributions. The bold assertion is based on Q1 2013 data collected for this study which shows that social media outlets were responsible for only 1.55% of website traffic and a measly 0.71% of conversions. Is this a case of hard evidence disproving commonly held beliefs or is social media marketing getting a raw deal fueled by misused statistics?

    Is Social Media Marketing Dead?

    According to Nielsen’s “State of the Media” report for 2012 year–end, people spend more time on social networks than any other category of websites, and the numbers are trending even further upward for 2013. Furthermore, the Nielson Company’s report shows that as a category social media is still vital with new social networks, communities and forums still being created and embraced by the public. In light of these numbers and other anecdotal and experiential evidence, the EQ’s author contends that perhaps the EQ numbers aren’t telling the whole story, this may be a case of misattribution rather than social media being a poor marketing gateway. To illustrate; if one were to find out about a website on Facebook then, only after leaving the social network enter said website by typing the url directly into a browser that visit would be attributed to “no direct referrer” by Google, but is this truly the case?

    Assist Interaction vs. Last Interaction

    Google, in the analyzing channel contribution section of its analytics suite attempts to break the “path to a purchase” into two component parts: last interactions (defined as the interaction immediately preceding the conversion) and assist interactions (any other interactions). This, Mr. Baer posits, may explain the apparent contradiction: The EQ survey seeks to measure the impact of social media on conversions by measuring monetary impact which as Google’s apt definition shows may just be the wrong way to view social media.

    So… to social media or not to social media?

    The jury may still be out on how exactly to quantify social media as a marketing tool but it seems fairly evident that it does play a major role. In fact, according to Forrester Research, word of mouth advertising, of which social media is but one example, plays a part in over 80% of all purchase funnels. My recommendation is to take the EQ study at face value and move away from direct marketing on social networks, like social referred visits and similar tactics. Instead target your spending on generating buzz through coupons and contests which increase your visibility and make your company a topic of conversation. Until the science behind social marketing progresses and the true value of social marketing is revealed it’s probably best to spend your money on better understood avenues.

    Hara Partners SEO Services: please visit us to unlock the full potential of your website.

  • Getting the best possible hosting solution for your Magento company is vital, perhaps more so than any other single factor, for the success of your business. Did you know that a 1 second increase in page load times can result in

    • 11% fewer page views
    • 16% decrease in customer satisfaction
    • 7% loss in conversions

    Make certain that your Magento hosting solution is the best possible.

    Magento Hosting

    Hara Partners Magento Hosting Solutions.


  • online retail credit:

    Continuing our exploration of the State of Retail in Q1 2013, let’s get right back to the metrics! Be sure to read Part I for a bird’s-eye-view of the situation.


    Multi-Platform Online Retail

    Tablets! You hear about them everywhere. Tablet ownership has now surpassed 60M people, just under half the 130M who own smartphones. Not a fad anymore! The sheer volume of devices, and the jump in devices-per-person, has had some interesting results:
    • Comparing February 2013 with February 2010, total U.S. internet usage has jumped from 63B minutes to 308B minutes for smartphone users.
    • This growth was mirrored, albeit to a lesser extent, in desktop users, jumping from 388B minutes to 467B minutes.
    • Tablet usage is a new category altogether, accounting for 115B minutes in 2013.
    • Altogether, usage nearly doubled from 451B to 890B minutes. Wow!

    Commerce-wise, this rapid growth shows up strongly in engagement with U.S. coupon sites, where minute usage ballooned 530% in that same period, from 782M minutes to 4.93B minutes.

    In a jaw-dropping development, nearly half of all digital time spent on retail properties now occurs via smartphone/tablet! How long will it be until desktops’ slim 52% lead gives way? And what do these retailers’ efforts look like to garner such engagement? Let’s take a look:
    • The average Top 50 retailer extends its desktop audience by 45% via mobile channels.
    • Amazon in particular has some astounding figures; its Unique Visitors in March 2013 nearly doubled (from ~85M to 164M) via mobile engagement.
    • eBay enjoyed 20.68M mobile-only users in that same period.


    eBay makes sure to capitalize on this constituency via multiple mobile-friendly endeavors, including:
    • Ease of payment
    • Barcode scanning
    • Well-integrated platforms
    • Mobile app real estate

    Where does multi-platform commerce matter most? Daily deal sites and drugstores, of course! Groupon, LivingSocial, Walgreens, and CVS all posted amazing figures for the share of users’ time spent on mobile devices. A full 72% of Groupon’s users’ time originated from mobile. Wild!


    More Mobile!

    It goes deeper! Consider this: at $5.9B in Q1 2013, mobile commerce (m-commerce?) accounted for 11% of all U.S. retail e-commerce (this figure was actually reached in Q4 2012 and sustained into the new year). Let’s now compare retail spending growth by channel:
    • Total retail discretionary spending growth increased a measly 1% year-over-year.
    • The e-commerce segment grew a healthy 13%.
    • Just mobile blows them both out of the water with 31% growth.


    Turns out that tablets encourage spending more than smartphones, with 37% buyer penetration compared to 20% for smartphones. But smartphone users retaliated in Q1 2013 by spending an average of $139 per buyer, compared to just $91 per buyer for tablet users.

    We can zoom in even further by parsing product categories. Apparel/accessories, home/garden, computers/hardware, and furniture/appliances/equipment all line up pretty close to the total digital commerce mobile share of spending at 5 to 7%. Event tickets, however, consistently see a much higher percentage of buying occur via mobile—around 15%.

    And that’s it for this edition! Tune in next time for a Q2 2013 sneak peek at new development, growing trends, and blossoming technologies.

  • online retail credit:



    A review of key macroeconomic trends sourced from comScore’s global panel of 2 million Internet users via behavioral tracking and custom surveys




    Once again we present the findings from a comprehensive “state of online retail” compiled by the folks at comScore! Thanks to their efforts, some truly interesting figures have come to light from across the e-commerce spectrum. We’ll outline some major trends, then focus on areas of note for U.S. e-tailers. This is Part I in a two-part series—there’s just too much to take in at once.

    For more context, as well as a rich trove of graphic representations, please consult the original study.


    The Big Picture

    E-commerce spending is up 11% vs. Q1 2012 (including 13% gains for Retail and 8% gains for Travel). In general, the differential between e-commerce spending and total discretionary spending continues to widen, with the former’s 13% growth far outstripping the latter’s 1% growth. In other great news, almost 11% of all discretionary dollars were spent online in this quarter, the highest percentage to date. Changes are afoot!


    Consumer Perceptions of the Economy


    • When asked, “How would you rate economic conditions today?”, only four in ten respondents rated the economy as “poor,” the lowers level since January 2009.
    • For the eighth consecutive quarter, rising prices remain the chief concern for consumers, followed by unemployment, financial markets, and home values (at 45%, 33%, 10%, and 7%, respectively).
    • In response to new Fiscal Cliff changes in payroll tax laws, 7 in 10 Americans are changing their spending habits. Among those, 46% are spending less overall, and 32% choose to use coupons more often.


    Retailer and Product Category Overview

    Almost all key e-commerce metrics have shown solid growth compared with Q4 2011:
    • Dollar sales are up 13%.
    • Overall transactions are up 10%.
    • Average order value is up 3%.
    • Transactions per buyer is up 5%.


    By retail category, online sales posted encouraging growth:
    • Mobile phones and plans grew 34%.
    • Portable devices (e.g., tablets) slowed slightly with growth of 25%.
    • Desktop computers continue a downward trend with a loss of 16%.


    Online Retail and Digital Advertising


    The whole idea of a division between these two sectors is breaking down. The large players act symbiotically in a tight feedback loop, feeding advertising with commerce and vice versa. Purchase-based targeting in particular has seen success, driving 38% higher boosts in in-store sales among consumers receiving ads.

    By taking advantage of mobile, leading retailers are beginning to compete with publishing giants. Within the top 15 digital media properties by audience, March 2013 standings are as follows:
    • Google Sites take the lead with a whopping 237M visitors.
    • Amazon is not far behind with 164M. Amazon’s ad impressions display 40% year-over-year growth, an indicator that the company is now a major player in that realm by leveraging reams of browsing/buying data.
    • eBay brings up the rear with 92M.


    In response to Amazon’s initiative, major advertisers are scrambling to drive in-store (not online) purchase behavior. Weight Watchers and Procter & Gamble Co., both driven by offline product sales, nonetheless are among the top advertisers on Amazon by Display Ad Impressions with figures in the hundreds of thousands.


    Taxes and Shipping

    Consumers have spoken: free shipping is by far the most valuable online shopping factor. Compare averages on a 1-5 importance scale, with 1 being the most important:
    • Free shipping = 1.77
    • Exclusive online deals = 2.57
    • No sales tax = 2.86
    • Fast shipping = 3.52
    • In-store pickup = 4.28


    Turns out that with increased frequency of online purchasing comes significantly increased concern with online sales tax! A full 46% of those who shop online at least once a week consider themselves “very concerned,” versus just 31% of those who shop online less than once a week.

    Within the scope of e-commerce, multi-channel retailers account for the majority of retail spending, yet their sales grow slower than pure-plays:
    • Multi-channel retailers comprise 63% of all retail e-commerce sales, but only grew 11% in dollar sales year-over-year.
    • In contrast, pure-play retailers comprise just 37% of retail e-commerce sales, but their year-over-year dollar sale growth totals 17%. Note: this higher growth rate could by diluted by collection of state sales taxes.

  • E-commerce on the move is booming – more and more people are buying, selling, and accessing things from their cells and tablets. The 40 billion dollar figure is double last year, and based on a new study, the figure is set to hit 50 by the year’s end. Continue reading

  • Magento is an ornery program. To function optimally, a Magento store requires the careful   and measured actions of an experienced tender, and the proper conditions in which to blossom. In this piece I’d like to discuss the external, or environmental, side of the equation, and talk about how to choose the ideal Magento hosting partner.

    Magento Hosting, why is this important?

    As mentioned above, Magento is a particularly large and complex program and can easily become weighted down by the myriad processes it must handle, becoming a lumbering oafish thing, taking far longer than needed to perform tasks it should handle with ease - like an athlete gone to seed. Lowered page load times are a bad thing. In fact, more than a few studies have been performed to try and understand the relationship between page load times and conversions, and from their results it seems pretty clear that the two variables are inexorably and strongly inversely connected. Or, in layman’s terms, – the longer it takes your page to load times the worse your conversions will be.  Choosing an improper Magento hosting partner could send your load times into a downward spiral.

    What to look for in a Magento Hosting Partner.

    This is no time to save a few a bucks by being someone’s guinea pig - find a company that has lots of prior experience with Magento hosting, and ask for references like past clients. Once you are convinced of the company in question’s expertise with Magento, you can begin to look at how they fit your business. Some things to consider: do they have a plan that fits your needs – do you have seasonal merchandise which would heavier traffic at some times? If you do business overseas it may make sense to use a CDN – can this company accommodate?

    In truth, finding the right Magento hosting partner doesn’t require much more than common sense – find a company that has many Magento customers and chances are good that they can handle anything you could throw at them.

    Magento hosting  from Hara Partners – find out more.

  • The Changing Face of Mobile eCommerce.

    Web enabled mobile devices are taking over; these days it seems that everyone, man woman and child, has a phone or a tablet permanently in-hand. The folks at KissMetrics wanted to see just how the pervasiveness and ubiquity of these technological marvels is affecting business and what we can expect for the future of mobile eCommerce.

    • Mobile devices were the source of 20% of total web traffic in 2012.
    • Experts predict mobile web devices will outnumber their traditional counterparts for the first time in 2012

    Black Friday 2012 vs 2011

    • 40% increase in the number of mobile sales
    • 190% increase in payment volume
    • 166% increase in the number of people shopping via mobile web device.

    Changing Face of mobile eCommerce

  • Magento Address VerificationAsk an e-tailer for a list of their business pet peeves and you’re guaranteed to hear about those customers who've entered erroneous or incomplete address information. This peeve has little or nothing to do with fraud or credit card processing, instead the gripe has its root in lost profits.  You see, to an internet retailer once the package has shipped any further costs incurred by the company come straight out of profits, and incorrect or incomplete addresses lead to lots of lost profits.

    In the best case scenario, the customer notices their error and contacts a company representative before much time has passed, leaving sufficient time for a phone call to the shipper for an address change and package rerouting. And despite entering their information erroneously, the customer still gets their package within the original shipping time-frame with no added delays. But the retailer has to pay for this service – generally in excess of $10 – which is more than likely a large chunk of the profits; and that’s the best case scenario! Often times the customer won’t realize their error until such time has passed that they wonder why they haven’t received their package yet, and at that point the package is either sitting in a warehouse somewhere (and more likely than not will end up lost for good) or it’s on the way back to the e-tailer after being marked as undeliverable by the shipper. Now, you’re looking at much higher costs – you’re paying for shipping the same item three times, or replacing it entirely. That’s where Addrexx comes in. Addrexx is a leading provider of Magento address verification solutions, with a robust and full suite of programs and products to protect profits.

    Magento Address Verification by Addrexx

    All of Addrexx's Magento address verification products are specially crafted to fit seamlessly into the Magento UI with little to no disruption to normal workflow, and feature turnkey integration for minimal installation hassles with both the Community Edition and the Enterprise Edition of Magento. The eCommerce offering from Addrexx works by validation address information as your customer enters it, automatically filling data in where appropriate, virtually eliminating errors and reducing keystrokes by 80% all of which result in a savings of 30 seconds per page. The end result is happier customers spending more money and a massive reduction in shipping errors. Choose Addrexx today for your Magento address verification needs.

    Read more about how Addrexx can save you time and money – Hara Partners Blog


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