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Posts Tagged ‘online sales’

7 Steps to Increase Trust for More Online Sales

Monday, December 21st, 2009

Do shoppers think my store is a safe place to make an online purchase?

Nearly all small businesses face a common challenge.  This challenge is demonstrating to potential customers that your small business is credible, trustworthy and has a track record of success and delivering products and services.  This challenge is typically derived from the fact that when someone gets to a small business website, they often do not have any indication whether they can trust that small business if the shopper wants to buy from that business.

Further complicating matters for small businesses online, is the constant threat of fraud and misuse of personal and financial information that weighs heavily on online users minds.  This fear of shoppers online is real and tangible.  In fact, a  Javelin Strategy & Research study found that the fear of identify theft and online shopping in general cost retailers over $21 billion in lost sales in 2008.

A June 2009 McAfee’s study showed that 92 percent of consumers are concerned about their security when shopping on new or unknown websites. Further, that study found that 63% of shoppers will not purchase from a web site that does not display a  security policy or other indications of trustworthiness.  A 2009 Verisign Security Report also found that nearly 50% of internet users avoid buying online due to concerns that their financial information will be stolen. The report also found that 83% of internet users want assurances that their information will be secure.

These concerns are getting the attention of all types of businesses, including industry giants like Microsoft.  Scott Charney, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of Trustworthy Computing, said at the 2009 RSA Security Conference that  “When [shoppers] visit Web sites, they don’t know if that Web site is to be trusted or not. For all of these reasons we need End-to-End Trust.”

Steps for Small Business to Demonstrate Trust

Shoppers concerns with buying online are well documented and the data supports those concerns. The good news is that there are some simple steps that all small businesses can take to demonstrate trust on their website to shoppers:

1. Management/Owner Information:  Be transparent to your shoppers. Prominently display under a Management tab the names of the owners of your business.   Make sure you add some background information on that manager/owner.  You can even include  it in story form.   This information gives shoppers comfort that there is a real person behind your business and makes it more personal.

2. Use Online Video to Virtually Introduce Yourself: A hot new trend is using online videos, through a YouTube clip, that introduces the management of your small business to shoppers and potential customers.  Here are some good tips in this prior post on using videos to build trust and credibility for your small business on your website.

3. Contact Information: Another way to build trust is to clearly and prominently display contact information including phone number and email addresses for customer service and management contacts.  By showing shoppers that they can contact you in case there are any product or service issues, you give them comfort that your business is accessible.

4. Return, Shipping, Customer Service & Data Policies: It is important that you clearly provide a list of your return, shipping, customer service and data protection policies.  It is important enough that small businesses should consider devoting a whole tab or area of their website where shoppers can visit and see what are the policies for your business.  Again the goal here should be the more information about these policies the better.

5. Trust and Validation Marks/Seals:  The 2009 Verisign Security Report found that 86% of online shoppers feel more confident about entering personal and financial information with sites that have some type of security indicators, such as trustmarks.   A few seals provides much of the information that is covered in this post through just one seal that resides on an online store’s website. Look for those seals.

6. Customer Feedback: Show that you can be trusted and also let people know your track record with customers by publishing comments about your product, service and business.

7. Actively Engage Customers: Use social media sites and tools like Twitter, Facebook and a blog to profile your business, create a tangible brand and personality and also engage customers.  These conversations with your customer and the community give shoppers a more complete, in-depth and intimate look into your business.  These conversations and having them like we have covered in previously posts via Twitter and your blog only make your business more credible.

Also one of our favorites, Inc Magazine has a good article on this same topic of online trust and you should check that out too.

If you start using these tips, your business and your website will go a long way to clearly demonstrating trust to shoppers and thereby helping you increase sales.

Please tell us in the comments section below what you look for before you buy online.

*Image from Bill Mullins Blog.

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Posts Tagged ‘online sales’

Forget the Store, Lets Just Buy That Online!

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Bad Santa

As the picture above from the classic Christmas movie Bad Santa shows, the holiday season is generally a time to flock to the mall.  Many of us try so hard to overcome the crowds, the aggressive shoppers and the mall traffic to make sure we have all of our gifts for friends, families and co-workers.

My wife and I began this season spending a lot of time shopping at various stores.  A lot of the places were actually home improvement, department and electronics stores like Home Depot, Best Buy and Sears.   Much of the shopping focused around our never ending condo renovation.  And I am not the only person shopping from Kikscore. Others spent time shopping for items like coats for their brother!

Throughout much of our shopping, I kept saying to my wife, “Lets go get some Red Lobster because we can buy these items online.  Its easier, we can get more selection and we can pick it out while we are relaxing on our couch.”  One added bonus of not buying in the store is when you purchase online it gets delivered. Therefore I am saved from breaking my back trying to load the purchases into the Black Dragon (our 2000 Black Honda Accord – @157,000 miles).

Buying online is just so much easier than having to fight through the crowds to get what you want.  Its even better because then I do not have to face the challenge of my pregnant wife being able to outwalk me!

This season we are buying online much more because:

1) Buying online is easy;

2) Buying online is convenient;

3) Buying online allows you to shop at multiple sites from the comfort of your home;

4) Buying online allows you to do real time price and product functionality lookups and comparisons;

5) Buying online gets your products delivered to your doorstep; and

6) Buying online allows you to avoid the hyped H1NI germs, frantic shoppers, bad traffic and interesting characters that roam the shopping malls

Now buying online is not without its issues too. For example, we recently ordered a large sink for our bathroom.  Well the supplier of the sink decided to ship it via ground transportation.  What do you think happened when the sink had to make its way from St. Louis to Washington DC in the back of a truck along beautiful and scenic I-70?  Well that sink was delivered 3 separate times and each time there was a large crack in it forcing us to return the sink.  So watch out and make sure you use these 5 tips for safe online shopping when you buy online.

Let us know if you are avoiding the crowds and buying more online.

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Posts Tagged ‘online sales’

To Be Or Not To Be: A Business With A Personality on Twitter?

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Should your business have a personality on Twitter and other social media channels?  Businesses are asking that question.  Heck, we at KikScore are asking that question.  By way of example, I was tweeting on our KikScore Twitter account this weekend, and I got caught up in the excitement of the Ohio State victory over our arch rival University of Michigan and I retweeted:

“makes me happy thinking of all the 6 year-olds in Ohio that are undefeated in LIFE against Michigan =D (via @Sweet_UpAndDown) great thought!”

After I tweeted this from our KikScore account I had a thought that passed through my head that said, “Should I have just done that? Is that really appropriate for Twitter and our company brand?”  Now there are lots of sites out there that have Twitter Rules including a good one from Chris Brogan.  Not many give guidance on whether your Twitter business account should convey a personality and talk about non-company related topics like football etc.

Our Guidance – Personality Wanted

Here is where we at KikScore come down on this questions.  You can always just tweet about your company, your industry, your products etc.  That generally is the traditional approach to business on Twitter.

We say, be different.  Have a personality on Twitter.  Actually have a remarkable personality on Twitter and that can even help your brand and sales.  Yes, you should try to follow as many Twitter rules as possible – don’t be annoying by being spammy, don’t tweet about the bagel you are eating after your conversation with Joe from Marketing etc but be unique.  Being remarkable and unique with your tweets will help you stand out from all of the other businesses on Twitter.

The best example that I think small businesses should try to use is Zappos.   Employees at Zappos help bring the personality of the company to life on Twitter and that is just one way Zappos has such a unique brand and they are recognized for that by many.

So here are some tips to bring out the personality of your business on Twitter:

1. Tweet about items that employees are passionate about – charities, sports, events, accomplishments etc.

2. Tweet about positive customer experiences or if employees are doing something special like having a volunteer day.

3.  Even if someone is criticizing your company on Twitter, you can always respond and tell them that you are sorry that they feel that way.  That allows even the angry tweeps out there to know that you are listening.

4. Share funny stories or funny occurrences that happen in your business.  If you come across a funny pet tricks video, share it.  Now do not be that person that solely tweets out forwarded messages.  That could be annoying.

5.  Be sensitive and remember generally do not tweet on controversial subjects from your business Twitter accounts.  These subjects can include politics, religion, gender etc.  Your rule should be do not tweet about something that you would not want your mom/dad to see that you wrote and was then was posted on the cover of a major national newspaper.

We think having a personality on Twitter and other social media sites can be fun, rewarding and also help you interact with your community of followers at a deeper level.  That interaction can then turn into a more committed and loyal community for your business which is a good thing!

So when you are hanging out on Twitter this holiday season trying to get sales using the tips we covered previously, show the world that you are a little different.  Let us know how you are remarkably unique on Twitter.

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Posts Tagged ‘online sales’

E-Tailers: This Holiday Season Use Facebook and Twitter as Your Online Mall

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Most people can’t stand the malls around the holidays. Too many people and too little parking spaces help keep shoppers away from the malls not only on Black Friday but throughout the holiday season.  Increasingly where have some of these shoppers turned for their holiday shopping instead of going to the mall?  Well with the mass of online shopping that gets going now on Cyber Monday and continues through the holidays, online shopping has created a great alternative to those people who want to avoid the crowds.

So what is different this year than previous years when it comes to online shopping and targeting these shoppers for our online store?  Unlike last year, many of the online shoppers now are on Twitter and Facebook and other social media and networking sites.  This creates a great opportunity for e-retailers and their online stores. But you have to have a strategy and be relentless about executing on that strategy to take advantage of this new trend.  Here are some helpful tips to get you going so you can turn all those shoppers that are using Twitter, Facebook and other sites into paying customers.

1. Join and Listen. If you are not already on Twitter and Facebook, join these sites or the social networking sites where your customers and potential customers are at. Once you join, start actively listening to conversations on these sites. The better you listen the more effective this type of social customer research will be for your small business.

2. Use Search Terms. Based on your research, use Twitter and Facebook to try to set up search terms (especially with Twitter) that relate to both your business and products that you sell. TweetDeck is a tool that you can use for your business to set up and track search terms across all conversations that are on Twitter. It is a really powerful tool. So for example, if you sell rugs at PlazaRugs.com like a former colleague of mine Andy Ketter you would want to set up in TweetDeck search columns related to “rugs” and maybe even certain brand name rugs.  This will help you track the conversations that are going on that may relate to your product or service that your business offers.

3. Quickly Act on Mentions.  The key to using Twitter and Facebook effectively here is that when someone mentions one of your search terms (i.e. products/services) during a conversation that occurs in the greater community on Twitter, Facebook or another site, you act quickly to join the conversation and even make contact with that person inquiring about a product you may carry or service you perform. Once you make contact with that person by sending a tweet to them, you can engage in a conversation with someone in the online mall.  You can even try to recommend your product or service if the shopper is inquiring on Twitter or Facebook about who sells a particular product that is similar to yours.

4. How it plays out. The best way to demonstrate this is through an example.  So if your online store sells  any and all types of T-shirts related to beautiful Cleveland, Ohio, you can try search terms that relate to “Cleveland”, T-Shirts”, and “Funny T-Shirts.”  So when someone in a Twitter conversation tweets, “I am looking for a funny t-shirt.” or when someone on Facebook updates their status and says “Wish I could find a funny t-shirt about my dad’s hometown in Cleveland.”, you can join the conversation and casually (now don’t be too pushy) suggest that they check out your store for a t-shirt that has a picture of the year Cleveland Browns won the Super Bowl…..that is funny because it never happened and will likely never happen in any Cleveland fans’ lifetime. Or maybe you sell them a picture of when the Cuyahoga River caught on fire just outside of Cleveland…

So there you have it. Start using Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites this holiday season so you can be in the right place at the right time in the online mall.  In the end the sheer volume of shoppers who are in the online mall on Twitter and Facebook will present a unique sales opportunity this holiday season for your store that did not exist last year.  You just need to have the tools set up so you can a) know where your potential customers are at; b) quickly act when these leads suggest in their online conversations interest in products or services you offer; and c)  turning your interactions with these leads into holiday sales!

Tell us how you plan to use Twitter and Facebook this holiday season for your business.

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Posts Tagged ‘online sales’

Sell Online? Signup for KikScore 's Free Beta Service

Friday, November 6th, 2009

Try KikScore Free

We here at KikScore want to help small e-tailers and online merchants succeed by selling more.  So we launched a new product late last month that allows small online businesses the ability to demonstrate to online shoppers that their business is trustworthy, reliable and has a trackrecord of success.

How does demonstrating trust help your store out?  Shoppers often look for signs of trust before they buy from an online store. (We discussed this issue here and here previously)  So why not give those shoppers information that directly relates to how trustworthy your business is.

The KikScore service allows you to take both publicly available information and verified information about your business and directly display it to online shoppers on your website.   The information is displayed through a dynamic KikScore seal that is continually being updated.  And even better, all of that information then gets scored and you can display your trust score to your shoppers.  Its like presenting shoppers a continually updated report card about your business. Now, just like in the 6th grade, you can get cash from more customers, in return for your good report card!

Sign Up Information

Please try us out. The service is free for a limited time.  Don’t worry, we will give you at least 60 days notice before we start to to charge for the product and you can cancel at any time.  You can sign up your business here.

Its a no lose situation for you business.  Try out our FREE service that allows your store to demonstrate trust so you can increase sales.

Examples of Some Merchants Using KikScore Seals

If you are wondering how the KikScore seal looks.  Here are three sites that are using the seal:

Interactive Security Group (KikScore’s parent company)



Click here for a free sign ups for the KikScore service.  And come back and tell us what you think in the comments. Also check out the new KikScore video!

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Posts Tagged ‘online sales’

Black Friday Is Coming

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

No Black Friday is not every Friday during the NFL Football season before yet another Cleveland Browns loss. If you are an online retailer, you really know what Black Friday is and what it means for your business.  We at KikScore wanted to pass along this very good article on dealing with shopping cart abandonment before Black Friday.  Some interesting statistics from the article are:

  • Shopping cart abandonment can result in a loss of 70% of a merchant’s potential sales.
  • Merchants that take steps to proactively address shopping cart abandonment by re-marketing to shoppers who abandon their shopping cart can recoup up to 50 percent of the losses from those abandonments
  • SeeWhy’s Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Charles Nicholls says that if you re-market through email within hours of the shopper’s abandonment,  merchants can get up to a fifty percent checkout rate on those abandonments

With Black Friday coming, the lesson learned is if you can take proactive steps to address those shopping cart abandonments through re-marketing, you can turn those abandonments into conversions.  That will make Black Monday much better than Orange and Brown Sundays after another Cleveland Browns loss!!!!

Tell us if you have any ideas or suggestions for addressing shopping cart adandonment in the comments.

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Posts Tagged ‘online sales’

Algorithms — They're Not Just For Big Businesses Anymore

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Thanks to the internet, online buyers and sellers have access to a lot of data to help guide their buying and selling decisions.  Finding the average price of a 1984 Chevy Citation (my first car) is a couple of clicks away.  But the problem with data is that it is everywhere and nowhere at the same time.  As I mentioned in a previous post, online reviews often suffer from grade inflation, and determining a reliable trend really requires thousands of transactions — not really possible for individual buyers and sellers.  So though it is easier than ever to gather information, that has just resulted in information overload.  This isn’t really a unique problem.  Big businesses have faced this issue for quite some time.  What’s their answer?  Scoring models with sophisticated algorithms.  Or stated more simply, math.

Though our interest in math prevented us from being very popular in high school, it has allowed us to create complex risk models for many types of decisions that big businesses face.  So why not use our nerdy interests to help small businesses sell online and provide comfort to shoppers that would like to buy from a small business, but isn’t sure of the shopping experience he/she will face?  That’s exactly what we did.  I can’t get into the details of the scoring m0del, or others (much like the popular kids in highschool) will just steal our homework.  But in general terms, KikScore takes public information about the online business (e.g. site security, traffic, links, domain registration, privacy policies, consumer reviews) and joins it with permitted information about the business owner (e.g. financial stability, public records)  — ultimately creating a tailored recommendation of the shopping experience to be expected.  This helps potential customers feel more comfortable doing business with a lesser-known small business.  Math…leveling the playing field for online sellers and bolstering trust for online shoppers.  Take that, Geography!

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