Ecommerce management can lead to happier holidays

With the holidays quickly approaching, every U.S. retail company is getting ready for Christmas shopping. MultiChannel Merchant said for retail companies, a well-planned and advance strategy is necessary and this becomes paramount for online businesses. With ecommerce software, companies should be able to make some key moves to maximize seasonal success, such as maximizing customer satisfaction.

"It’s as simple as this: if you don’t measure customer satisfaction, you can’t reliably know what to improve," the news source said. "It’s important to have a baseline – and to measure customer satisfaction after implementing changes as well – so you can gauge the effectiveness of improvements. Steer clear of basing decisions simply on 'opt-in' feedback, which typically elicits responses only from those with extreme opinions. Random and representative surveys will provide the most accurate and actionable data."

Other things that companies must keep in mind around the holidays, MultiChannel Merchant said, include:

- Always know what is important to have on the website for the company's specific list of visitors
- Measure how the business is doing across different channels, remembering to look at social media, email and other areas
- Rather than giving customers more, think about how to manage their expectations to possibly improve how they feel about the business

The website shared some other tips for the holidays in an August article, including that companies should always be testing and making changes for the holiday to make sure customers and potential clients are staying interested with what is on the website. Deals and promotions should also become more frequent in an effort to help the website stand out from others during this busy time of year. With ecommerce software, companies can easily manage what goes on a website and determine how well the content works for customers.

Mobile ecommerce to explode in UK by 2022

The world of ecommerce has been expanding and looming large over businesses over the past few years, but the world may not have even seen the beginning of the ecommerce boom. A new report from the Economist Intelligence Unit shows that buyers in the United Kingdom will really take to mobile ecommerce by 2022. The report, which cites figures from the Centre for Retail Research, shows that U.K. shoppers account for the highest proportion of online spending globally and will make up 13.2 percent in 2013. This shows the importance of up-to-date ecommerce software that will guide retailers into the age of the mobile device.

By 2022, this number should be much greater for the U.K., according to the report, as online purchases will represent one-third or more of sales across the entire country. New shopping-related applications, technologies that allow people to try things before they buy them, and the move to electronic reading materials has helped this trend take off.

"Give social media some credit for moving the needle too," wrote a contributor to Ecommerce Bytes. "The report credited Pinterest with accelerating retail opportunities, driving traffic from 'pinned' items to ecommerce sites associated with them. Mobile technology, something we've mentioned a few times as a rising power in ecommerce, also received mention."

After implementing a mobile ecommerce website, Mashable said, companies should use metrics to make sure everything is working as it should be. This means checking metrics for acquisition of leads from various sources, the behavior of customers and the conversion rate of site visitors.

"Mobile web adoption has a vast trajectory," Mashable said. "Once you start tracking these common metrics, you’ll begin to see how that rapid growth is affecting your website and business. And while technologies and devices may change over time, the underlying drivers do not."

With good ecommerce software, companies should always be able to figure out which direction their website is moving and figure out how to make sales tick ever higher.

Debt collection faces new watchdog in the government

Federal regulation is a big part of most industries, but debt collectors have been largely free of oversight. That will no longer be true starting January 2, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which Bloomberg Businessweek said will start to supervise companies that are collecting at least $10 million per year in consumer debts. While this may provide some peace of mind to companies that have to utilize debt collection services, organizations will likely still want to consider ways to make their own debt collections processes more effective, such as by implementing robust collections software.

"The CFPB says its examiners will try to ensure that debt collectors provide proper disclosure and accurate information, that they have good complaint- and dispute-resolution processes, and that they 'communicate civilly and honestly' with consumers," the news source said.

These plans were announced in July, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, as debt collectors have come under heightened scrutiny in recent years as the troubled economy has led to rising debt across the country.

Funding Gates blog on collecting money said one in four companies have trouble collecting debt and 43 percent of customers are past due. Instead of waiting until it is too late to collect, companies should look into the positive effects collections software can have on accounts receivable.

Measure performance of debt collection wisely

Collecting money owed to a company is one of the more important things an enterprise can do as far as keeping the budget in line, so businesses must be sure they are measuring how well collections processes are working, according to a collections professional who wrote an article for InsideARM. He said looking at metrics outside of how much money is coming in could be important. Companies can keep track of all relevant metrics through quality collections software purchased from the right vendor. Although the InsideARM article was concerned mainly with ways to assess the performance of professional debt collection agents, the main ideas are relevant for any company that needs to collect payments.

"Sure, most companies looked at metrics such as number of calls and the like, and legal compliance has always been paramount, but at the end of the day those gross or fee dollars were the golden measurement, and the metrics measured in between were done so as a way to drive the dollars," the professional said on the website. "While quality was always an important component to any collections program to most creditors and agencies, more and more we’ve found that creditors are now placing an increased focus on call quality as the key metric, in many cases even over dollars collected."

He said the question should no longer be how much money a collection company brought in but how it got the money as well. Certain collection tactics might be effective for bringing in money, but this payoff might be worthwhile in the long term if the collections practices also place the company in jeopardy from a compliance standpoint or otherwise harm its reputation. Thinking about measuring the success of debt collection in these terms should help businesses determine best practices they could use for collecting more debts from customers and clients.

Credit-to-Cash Advisor said having a plan for collection before any debts even accrue should be an important step for companies. Businesses need to have a process in place that defines when they will contact someone who owes them money, what they will say, escalation plans and additional steps that should give a company a unified response to the situation. Collections software could be a great tool in helping many of these companies figure out what they need to do to get their money owed.

Use ecommerce software to stay competitive as online retail evolves

While surfing via laptops and desktops is still the main way people do their online shopping, mobile phones and tablets are quickly growing in this industry. This means that companies in the market for ecommerce software must keep these devices in mind, as not doing so could end up costing them a large amount of money. Business 2 Community said it's easier than ever to shop remotely and make purchases with these devices, which explains why this has become so popular. Mobile technology is not only making it simpler to complete online transactions, but is transforming the very way that people shop.

"Record numbers of holiday shoppers will be equipped with the absolute cutting edge in tech: smartphones and tablets that are, frankly, nearing the level of true genius," the news source said. "By easily synching various online accounts and granting real-time access to current location data, your gadget can now not only think for you but in reality think much better than you on many levels."

Business 2 Community said the good thing about the future of ecommerce is that no matter where people are or what device they use, they should soon be able to buy products from the locations that are most convenient to them. After this point, some forecasters are predicting that the physical store will likely become more of a sample and display venue, existing for the benefit of the casual mobile shopper.

When looking to design a mobile ecommerce solution, Crazyleaf Design said companies should be paying attention to how quickly the page loads. This means making sure to use the right ecommerce software to ensure there are no elements that would slow down the page load time on a mobile device. Slow loading time could cause people to click off the website and go elsewhere on the internet. Businesses should also keep the website condensed while including all pertinent information and always keep an eye on data analytics to determine how to better engage consumers based on how they interact with the site.

Use ecommerce software to make customer service better

Online businesses are operating in a quickly evolving business landscape. Practical Ecommerce said with social media, texting, mobile marketing and other new trends, consumers are growing far more used to interacting with companies in a variety of virtual environments. Businesses may want to procure ecommerce software to help navigate the complexities of online sales through better customer tracking, automation and other features. This will help an ecommerce business save customers time, according to the website.

"Save your customer time and frustration by understanding the problem or need they are trying to fulfill, and address both early and directly," the website said. "Remember, Domino's Pizza is not just in the pizza business. It's also in the delivery business, where timing is critical."

Online businesses should keep this dictum in mind when it comes to creating an ecommerce site that serves all the customer's needs. Practical Ecommerce said the website should be easy to use, incorporating robust search features and a user-friendly interface.

Another suggestion is to make returns easy, which will be especially important with the coming holiday season.

"There’s nothing like an easy return policy to provide peace of mind – and encourage repeat purchases," the website said. "Don't force customers to call in, suffer through a phone maze and be excessively questioned before a return is allowed."

A past story from Practical Ecommerce suggests additional ways to keep customers coming back, including automating ecommerce software to follow up with people after they make their initial purchase, keeping in touch with both new and old shoppers to keep them abreast of new deals, and offering good coupons and other incentives.

e2b teknologies Integrates Anytime Supply Chain with Intacct

CHARDON, Ohio, Oct. 16, 2012 — Today, e2b teknologies is previewing for the first time its forthcoming Anytime Supply Chain product at the Intacct Advantage Customer and Reseller Conference at the Omni Orlando Resort in Orlando, Fla.

Anytime Supply Chain is one of the first cloud-based supply chain management (SCM) solutions available for distributors and manufacturers with integration to Intacct, Intuit QuickBooks, and other accounting systems. Continue reading

Customizing an ecommerce website benefits B2B enterprises

Businesses should be constantly thinking of ways that they can customize their ecommerce website, as LifeHacker said online sellers always have to be on their toes to avoid looking like a "cookie-cutter duplicate" of other websites.

B2B companies may have it harder than B2C, as Lifehacker said not everyone is on the same page about how a B2B ecommerce site should look and function. Customers now expect more than ever from a website, especially with the explosion of ecommerce in recent years.

“Customers in a B2B environment expect a B2C [business-to-consumer] experience,”one ecommerce professional told the news source. “B2B has been harder to solve than B2C because of all the back-end processes.”

One general manager of strategy and marketing at a B2B company said its customers expect different things, posing a challenge when it came to launching an ecommerce website. On the one hand, the company's customers need significant data about different product choices, as they're interested in seeing a more complex set of specs than a customer in a B2C context. However, like a B2C customer, the B2B buyers base their purchasing decisions in part on emotion, so the ecommerce website must appeal to them on this level as well.

A company that works with businesses on their websites said one thing that companies certainly need to be mindful of is avoiding duplicate content. Businesses should have unique images, meta descriptions for every page and product reviews to help set their website apart from other ecommerce pages, and this content strategy can be facilitated by implementing the right ecommerce software solution.

e2b teknologies Integrates Anytime Collect with Microsoft Dynamics GP

October 10, 2012, Chardon, Ohio- Today, e2b teknologies announced the integration of its flagship Anytime Collect software with Microsoft Dynamics GP (formerly Great Plains), a leading ERP business application. Anytime Collect accounts receivable and credit collections management software streamlines a company’s credit and collections activities, simplifies the process, and helps companies get paid faster. Continue reading

Ecommerce must support multiple channels

Selling goods and services online has become more lucrative – and complex – than ever. While ecommerce software can facilitate growth, each business must figure out how it will expand. Practical Ecommerce said it is now a necessity for companies to take a multichannel approach, which can include multiple online stores, mobile websites, comparison shopping apps and more.

"Retailers need to support all the touch points where their customers are browsing and shopping," the news source said. "In short, understand what your prospects are up to. Are they still using search engines to look for products, or do they go to Amazon? Are they using iPhones? Do they seek shopping apps because they are so user friendly, and then forget about shopping on their laptop? Do they research on Facebook, or Bing Shopping?"

Practical Ecommerce said companies need to look at their environment and figure out if they can support the required channels. Companies should be considering how they can expand beyond a general ecommerce website, but they shouldn't create silos by having a mobile website be completely separate from their primary website, the news source said. And this interconnectedness applies across various ecommerce nodes: Companies will need to support social media, have more content and utilize mobile apps to reach those who shop from their phones or tablets.

Ecommerce Times said using technology allows small companies to level the playing field and get a competitive advantage in the economy. Companies that implement a smart strategy that includes multichannel engagement can use affordable solutions, such as ecommerce software, to increase sales, have an easier sales cycle and give customers much better solutions and services.

Collecting bad debt as a small business

On the Bay View Compass, Milwaukee-area attorney Jan Pierce said that just because collections agencies often make debtors' lives miserable, small businesses trying to collect what they are owed do not have to follow suit. In fact, with collections software, smaller companies can easily keep track of who has bills coming up and who owes money, and have reminders sent to those who do owe money.

"Collection agencies really only make sense, if they do at all, for a business with lots of delinquent accounts," Pierce wrote in the news source. "Their average rate of success is not high. Harassing people over the phone isn’t really all that effective, but it does work some of the time."

A recent article on Wealth Pilgrim provided some advice for collecting personal debts, but small businesses may find the guidance helpful. In particular, the article advised sticking to the facts and reminding debtors that they are not fulfilling a promise that they made to pay. Emotional messages to the debtor may escalate the situation without increasing the likelihood of recouping money owed.

As a worst case scenario, Pierce said, companies can take people to small claims court or large claims court if they do not pay up. Even simply threatening this action for those who have not been paying on time can be an effective method for getting paid back. With collections software, companies can have a running database of who owes money, who has paid back and who is about to owe money. With this information, businesses can send out quick and frequent reminders, a much better route than waiting until the debt has piled up.

Ensuring success in debt collection

Dina Sha’altiel, an industry professional, wrote on InsideARM that collections can be daunting, but doing it the right way is absolutely necessary. This is especially true because comments posted on social media, review websites and other public-facing platforms could end up harming a company that handles collections the wrong way. Collections software can be helpful in this effort to do collections the right way, as Sha’altiel said it is important to take the proper approach before the first call is made or letter is sent.

"For brands looking to recover debts, a compliance-focused experience is a must-have," she wrote on the website. "Without this, not only could you harm the relationship you have worked to build with consumers, but you could ultimately bear the negative reputation, and all of the fallout that goes with it. These contacts are increasingly regulated and driven by protocols to ensure collection programs comply with all applicable laws and regulations."

While maintaining compliance is a must, Sha'altiel reminded reader the most important thing may be to make sure customers have the best possible experience by having a customer-centric approach to collections. This means focusing on communication and trying to find a positive solution for all parties is very important for the best results.

MakeMoneyInLife.com said sending out reminders when payment due dates are close is a great way to make sure that customers know when they need to pay and how they should. This helps reduce a big portion of those who owe debt; the customers who simply forgot. With collections software in place, this process is automated and can become much easier.

Methods to boost ecommerce conversions

There are more ecommerce websites than ever, which means customers now have more choices and retailers have to work harder to remain competitive. Search Engine Watch said there are some conversion boosters that can help set one company apart from the rest. By implementing great ecommerce software and employing these methods, online retailers should be able to drive far more sales than they otherwise would. The first tip from the website is to use an emotion-based approach instead of bland descriptions.

"Don't use generic product descriptions. Really, don’t. Many retailers use general superlatives liberally on all product pages, which could lead to a less exciting experience for the shopper," the news source said. "Think of how search engines reject most ads with unsubstantiated claims and superlatives in them. Drop the exaggeration and keep the description specific to the product."

Other tips for bringing in more conversions, according to Search Engine Watch, include:

- Make sites more visually exciting instead of just letting words tell the story
- Add videos to the website, as the news source said one company saw a 400 percent increase in conversions very quickly after adding videos
- Show the purchase history of an item or service to show potential buyers that other people have been satisfied by the purchase
- Be sure to give shipping options and show the estimated delivery time so people have a window of when they can expect their item

Companies should also keep conversion boosting in mind during the holiday season, improvements to an ecommerce website can help boost the bottom line during this important part of the sales calendar. Two significant contributions that can come from ecommerce software: making the checkout page more customer-friendly, and optimizing the website for mobile devices. Ecommerce Bytes said these are two key factors for making the holidays a great money-making season.