Linda Bustos is the Director of Ecommerce Research at Elastic Path, and has been writing the Get Elastic blog since 2007. She works with some of the world’s largest companies to help improve conversion rates and profitability on the Web. Get Elastic is an Ecommerce blog focusing on strategy, best practices, detailed how-to, in-depth analysis and digital commerce research. Heavy Chef chatted to Linda about Ecommerce security, promoting an Ecommerce site and the debate of micro-payments being beneficial.
In South Africa, Ecommerce is not quite as popular as in America and Europe, to some extent – due to lack the of trust with online transactions. What are your thoughts on security with regards to online shopping and the public’s trust?
We’ve all heard horror stories, no matter where on the globe we are, about identity theft and security breaches of personal information. Even highly trusted sites like Zappos have exposed their customers to these problems. Services like PayPal help to increase security, as do SSL and other encryption technologies. But safety of financial information is only one problem. Unfortunately for countries like South Africa, Brazil, Russia, Poland and many others, citizens are concerned not about the merchant being underhanded, or hackers finding their information, but customs and postal workers stealing packages. Unfortunately, it’s a reality outside the control of both merchant and buyer. Courier rates and insurance are often far more expensive than the product itself.
Online shopping carries risk for every transaction. Risk of data compromise, non-delivery, damaged goods or even a product appearing much different on-screen than in real life. Some people will never prefer shopping online given these risks, but a merchant should be aware of customer concerns and communicate well throughout the site what customer service and privacy or security measures are taken to ensure a happy shopping experience.
In your opinion, what would be the most effective way for merchants to promote their Ecommerce site?
If I had to pick just one, I would invest in organic search. Paid search and display advertising can be effective, but also very expensive. SEO is the gift that keeps on giving, but is also an ongoing activity, and carries a large time cost.
Do you think that Ecommerce sites should allow for micro-payments? Would it be beneficial?
Depending on the type of product sold – definitely. Digital products have more recurring billing opportunities such as subscriptions, virtual goods, pre-paid minutes and service credits. This can be quite profitable, even when the product itself is free, like many mobile and social games.
Consumer to consumer marketplaces affect retail business, but I don’t believe it cannibalizes so much that retailers should be threatened. Ecommerce sites often are more trustworthy, offer new products, and offer more variety. There are benefits to buying from a shop versus peer-to-peer. On the flipside, marketplaces can be a venue for retailers to offload clearance merchandise and otherwise promote their businesses as well.
What do you see happening with online shopping trends in the next few years?
I don’t think online shopping will grow as fast as in the past, but there will be growth in site visits and purchases from tablets. And industries that create and sell content to mobile devices, connected TVs and gaming consoles will certainly grow.
What are some examples of your favourite Ecommerce sites, and why?
For user experience, I love sites that do filtered naviagation well, like ASOS.com, Endless.com and Ebay. For innovation, sites that integrate with Facebook Timeline to create new experiences, like Fandango and Ticketmaster. For buying one-of-a-kind items, I like the Etsy marketplace. I’m a seller myself, but I tend to go there first, whether I’m looking for clothing, gifts, cosmetics, housewares and art. I like to buy from small/home business and it’s an easy one-click checkout for me. Ebay is my second favourite, for the same reasons, but there’s a much longer tail of items I can find there, often at very good prices.
Check out the Get Elastic blog, and subscribe for regular Ecommerce tips and information.