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The Strategy Behind Warby Parker’s New Augmented Reality Ecommerce Tool

warby parker augmented realityConvincing shoppers to buy a product online can be a challenge for any ecommerce business operating in a competitive market—especially when the product you’re selling relies almost exclusively only on personal preferences and your ability to see and try the physical product before you buy.

Changing the Way People Shop for Glasses

Warby Parker has already done it once with their “Home Try-On” model for prescription eyeglasses where shoppers can select 5 frames to test out for 5 days at home with free shipping both ways. Now they’re hoping to transform the way people shop for glasses yet again using Augmented Reality.

The Motivation Behind Augmented Reality

It’s likely the move is designed to 1) control expenses by limiting what has to be massive amounts of money spent on free shipping and handling shipping and returns 2) give shoppers yet another easy and convenient way to shop for glasses as well as 3) continue to be on the leading edge of technology and hipper than their competitors who offer a similar experience and product at a lower price such as Zenni Optical or David Kind.

The Potential Challenge

Warby Parker has built a business and a brand around shipping glasses to your home free-of-charge, giving you a chance to try them on and only pay for what you keep. By doing so, they eliminated the biggest hurdle to buying eyeglasses online—having a chance to actually see what they look like on your face.

The idea is a smart one. Reach today’s connected consumer with some really cool technology. However, trying to persuade current and prospective customers to try something that’s potentially counter to what Warby Parker’s brand was built on, could be difficult. To be successful, you also have to ask your customers to download yet another app.

I don’t wear glasses (at least not yet) so I reached out to people in my social network to see if any Warby Parker buyers were already using the app. Their initial feedback echoed what you’d expect. The technology sounds cool and might be something they would check out, but many still preferred to try on the glasses before making a purchase.

Augmented Reality & The Future of Ecommerce

Will Warby Parker’s virtual try-on tool ultimately replace their home try-on program? Only time will tell. Persuading consumers to change the way they shop for a product (especially when they’ve already grown to like your current model), will likely require a few carrots along the way.

One thing is for certain. As technology continues to get better, shopping online for highly personalized products and experiential products such as clothes, shoes, and eyeglasses, will only get better. Kudos to innovative companies like Warby Parker for trying to figure it out.

Have You Tried Warby Parker's AR Try-On Tool?

Leave a comment below. I'd love to hear how you think it compares. Happy shopping!

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BigCommerce for Wordpress Ecommerce Plugin Review

BigCommerce for Wordpress pluginLooking for an easy and affordable way to add ecommerce shopping cart functionality to your WordPress website? With the BigCommerce WordPress plugin, you can do just that---and a whole lot more.

If you’re like many small businesses, you started out with a WordPress website to get your business online. As you continue to grow, you’re now at a point where you want to add products to your website but you don’t want to have to start completely from scratch or invest thousands of dollars to hire a backend developer.

The BigCommerce for WordPress plugin blends seamlessly with existing WordPress themes although BigCommerce does recommend a cross-browser compatible theme so the theme options sync up better with online store requirements.

To help you save time, we’ve highlighted some of the plugin’s most powerful features based on what we hear working with small business owners every day. Product reviews are conducted independently, but we sometimes make money from link clicks.

Intuitive Ecommerce Dashboard

One of the biggest benefits to the BigCommerce for WordPress plugin is its intuitive dashboard—making it super easy to upload and sync product uploads, manage checkout settings, and more—all from within WordPress.  

BigCommerce for Wordpress plugin dashboard

Customize Product Listings to Match Your Brand

With Customizer, you can quickly change button and text colors to blend with your brand colors—creating a seamless experience for your current and prospective customers.

BigCommerce for Wordpress product customizer

Showcase Product Reviews & Related Products

If there’s one thing Amazon has taught us, it’s that product reviews and social proof are a crucial component to every online shopping experience. Working with small business owners across a number of industries, I’m still surprised by how many still struggle to integrate basic product review and related products functionality into their existing WordPress websites—a huge missed opportunity to capture more conversions and increase average online order value.

BigCommerce for WordPress plugin product reviews

Fast Load Speeds & Gutenberg Ready

Starting in July 2018, Google Starting in July 2018, Google started using mobile page speed as a ranking factor in their mobile search results. With the BigCommerce plugin, your online store can boast the fastest load speeds currently possible with AMP for WordPress enabled on your site.

The plugin was also built to support the class WordPress editor and Gutenberg—a new editing experience built for media rich pages and posts.

Sell Across Multiple Marketplaces

Instead of wasting time uploading your products to various online marketplaces, you can quickly and easily sell across eBay, Amazon, Instagram, Google Shopping, and more. BigCommerce for WordPress plugin features include bulk listing, automatic inventory synching, and fulfillment management.

Adding Ecommerce Software to WordPress

If you’re thinking about adding ecommerce functionality to your WordPress website, the BigCommerce for Wordpress plugin is definitely worth a look. You can experiment with features and get your products online without having to completely redesign your entire website or spend months working with a backend developer to build something custom. Plus, BigCommerce checkouts are PCI compliant—which can limit a huge amount of liability and risk.

Ready to get started? Learn more and try BigCommerce for WordPress

[Image: BigCommerce]

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3 Ways to Increase Average Order Value of Online Stores

3 ways to increase average order value for online store

Congratulations! You’ve successfully launched your new ecommerce store and orders are starting to come in every month.

You feel like you’re finally at a point where want to grow revenue but you’re not sure where to start. That’s when you notice your average order value (the average amount of money each customer spends per transaction with your store) is fairly consistent over time. What’s the best way to entice customers to spend more?

Minimum Order Discounts

For many ecommerce retailers, increasing average order value often starts with offering minimum order discounts. For example, Pump Peelz, makers of personalized insulin pump covers and diabetes accessories, offers free shipping on orders over $30. 

Before you offer any minimum order discounts, make sure you look at any available data to get a sense of average order values over time so you can pinpoint a realistic price target. In other words, if your average order value over the last six months is right around $50, it might be hard to jump to $75 and expect customers to make that big of a jump. This is especially true if you the majority of your items are at lower price points which would require customers to buy multiple products to make up the difference. 

I also spoke with an online store owner this week who is using the Sumo app to increase average order value by engaging customers with strategically-placed incentives. It’s still early, but initial results seem promising. 

Related Products

How many times have you been shopping for one product on a website only to be taken down a rabbit hole by another product you didn’t even know existed? Ecommerce platforms make basic product recommendations fairly simple to incorporate on your product pages and checkout page like this example from Mapamundi Kids--an independent kids lifestyle store based in San Francisco, California.

Once you add related products to your website, click around and make sure the items that are showing up make sense either based on the featured product and/or your business goals. Depending on your ecommerce platform or the app you’re using, you can control the number and types of images that get displayed. Think strategically.

Product Bundles

By packaging multiple products together (often at a slightly discounted price) in a bundle, you’re increase real or perceived value--increasing the likelihood that shoppers will buy more than if the products were only listed separately on your site. 

If your ecommerce platform offers website cart analysis, I highly recommend looking at which products are frequently added together for ideas of which products to bundle. You can also look for complimentary items to add to create a “one-stop shop” for anyone buying a specific product (ex. Audio Advice bundling bookshelf speakers with a turntable).

Next Steps

Once you’re able to establish a clear baseline for your average order value, you can start to experiment with different strategies and tactics to see how far you can move the needle and increase revenue. Even small increases per transaction can add up over the course of the year. 

Make sure you give yourself enough time to identify what’s working and what isn’t. It can be tempting to pull the plug after only a few days, but you want to wait at least two weeks before making another change.

Finally, keep testing. Try different minimum order amounts for free shipping at $50, $60, and $75 and the same with discounts. 

Do you have other strategies you’d add to the list? Leave a comment below!

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How to Increase Brand Awareness for Small Businesses

Prospective customers can’t buy from you when they don’t even know you exist. Increasing brand awareness expands your reach, makes marketing campaigns more effective, and helps you grow your small business.

What’s the best way to increase brand awareness for a small business? Here are 10 smart strategies and tactics.

  1. Intuitive brand and clear message. From your logo, to your content, prospective customers need to be able to quickly understand what you do and associate your brand with your products and services. If people are confused and/or don’t understand what you do, look for ways to refine the way you’re packaging your business such as adding the right tagline that complements your logo and name.
  2. Consistent promotion. People won’t know your small business exists unless you put yourself out there. Find ways to consistently get your brand and your business in front of prospective customers so you are top of mind when they’re ready to make a purchasing decision. Even when things get super busy, you can’t go dark for weeks or months on end. Every little bit counts.
  3. Earned and paid media. With the continued popularity of social media and decline of traditional news outlets, small business owners often overlook earned and paid media—two avenues that can be highly effective at increasing brand awareness. Don’t just limit you’re your scope to newspapers—pitch your small business to relevant blogs, industry publications, and influencers that will help you reach your target audience.
  4. Programs and events. For many small businesses, there’s still no substitute for those face-to-face interactions that happen when you throw an event. You get to interact with current and prospective customers in ways that just aren’t possible from your website or on social media. Programs and events also give you a chance to scale your promotional efforts more than trying to reach customers one at a time. Speaking of current and prospective customers, don’t get so focused on reaching new customers that you forget to invite the people who have already bought from you in the past. Current customers need love too.
  5. Strategic partnerships. Identify small businesses that offer complementary products or services and look for ways to combine your audiences to grow your reach. Ideas are almost limitless. You can partner with local restaurants, breweries, wineries, or other businesses. For example, if you sell home audio products you could partner with a landscaping supplier and host an event about outdoor theaters.
  6. Community involvement. One of the things that differentiates small businesses from big box retailers and national franchises are their connections to the community. Get involved with your local Chamber of Commerce, participate on panels, give presentations, or volunteer. Not only are you giving back, but you’re also building brand awareness.
  7. Word of mouth/Referral programs. Empower happy customers to shout about your small business from the rooftops and even consider rewarding them for their efforts. At the very least, encourage customers to tell their friends and thank them when they do. If you want to go one step further, create a formal referral program.
  8. Blogging. Create interesting, relevant, and shareable content that you think people are likely to share with others. Blog content can not only help generate more traffic to your website, but it also gives you something to share via social media—which also can drive people back to your website. Focus more on quality than quantity. If your content doesn’t add value or get people excited enough to share with others, you’re wasting your time.
  9. Social media. Why isn’t social media higher on the list? True it promises the most potential when it comes to reaching your targeted audience. However it can also be a black hole—sucking all of your time and resources away without any obvious way to measure your effectiveness. The key is to not only focus on growing your audience, but also looking for ways to convert those followers into active supporters/buyers.
  10. Email marketing. Growing your email list is only the beginning. Increasing brand awareness requires activating those subscribers to 1) actually open your email 2) click on your links and 3) forward/share with others. Think strategically about what content is going to add the most value for your readers and make them more likely to share and then test different content to see what drives new traffic back to your website. Looking for more ideas, here are some helpful tips on how to grow your email list at events.

Brand awareness doesn’t happen by accident. To get your business noticed, you need to consistently get in front of your target audience. Whether it’s through events, social media, email marketing, or a mix of the tips above, you’ve got to make it immediately clear what your business does and why people should think of you when they need your product or service. Prospective customers have an infinite number of choices—increasing brand awareness will help keep you top of mind when they’re ready to buy.

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10 Ways to Increase Ecommerce Website Conversions

Within seconds, your ecommerce site needs to establish trust, successfully showcase your products, and make it as easy as possible for consumers to make a purchase. From your product pages to your checkout, increasing conversion rates requires an enjoyable and intuitive user experience as well as a clearly defined path to purchase.  

To help you capture more conversions from your ecommerce site, we’ve put together a list of 10 best practices.

1. Security Certificate/SSL

Before most website visitors would even consider making a purchase from your online store, they need to feel absolutely comfortable that their information (passwords, credit card number, etc.) is going to be kept private. Adding a security certificate/SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) marks your website as "secure" in browsers—giving your customers peace of mind and increasing the likelihood they’ll buy something. Best of all, adding a SSL is generally inexpensive at only $29 per year. Some hosting companies will even help you add the SSL to your site so you don’t have to wait on your website designer or pay through the teeth.

2. Simple Checkout

You can have the most beautifully designed website but when it comes to buying, an online store’s checkout is far more important than CTA buttons, product pages, etc. To increase conversion rates, it’s absolutely crucial to streamline the checkout process as much as possible—requiring the minimum amount of information you need from the user to successfully complete the purchase.

3. Intuitive Navigation

Shoppers need to be able to find what they’re looking for and fast. If you have too many items in your navigation or you bury your most popular products 10 clicks deep, website visitors will quickly get frustrated and exit your website before buying anything. Click through your website from the eyes of a prospective customer. Where do you want people to go? What do you want them to do on each page? Are navigation items clear and intuitive? Are there any differences good or bad between navigating your website on a laptop versus from a smartphone?

Below, you can see how Stitch Fix has simplified their navigation with three primary options in their main navigation—Women, Men, Kids.

4. Persuasive Product Descriptions

What makes your product truly different? Why should shoppers get excited enough to buy something from you instead of Amazon or another competitor? Ecommerce product descriptions can not only help with online visibility and SEO by incorporating targeted content and keywords for search engines, but they should also get shoppers excited and elicit an emotional response—that’s ultimately what will get them to buy.  

5. Crisp Product Photography

Along with persuasive product descriptions, product photography can make or break your online shopping experience. We’re visual by nature and being able to see products online makes us that much more likely to make a purchase. In fact, according to stats from BigCommerce, 78% of online shoppers want more images from ecommerce sites. However, it’s not enough to just “have” product photos—every picture should serve a specific purpose and capture the most important elements of each item. You should also consider your brand personality and what that means for your image strategy—ex. do you want to be quirky? artistic? minimalist?   

In this example from Rothy’s, the shoe designs and shoe names are clearly the focus. Shoppers can quickly scan different loafers and view additional images when they scroll over/click each item. And while we’re on the topic of descriptions, look at some of those names. They could’ve just called the loafer “Blue” but instead they called it “Bottle Blue”—that slight difference can help shoppers paint a mental image of the color and help it stand out from all of the other “blue loafers” out there.

6. Positive Customer Reviews

Reviews are one of the quickest and most effective ways to increase online conversions. Shoppers want to hear from other buyers both in terms of whether your products are any good but also to see if there were any customer service issues that popped up. When you incorporate product reviews on your website, you’re letting consumers know you are a trustworthy seller. Ecommerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce make it easy to capture reviews. There are also a number of apps you can add on to your website depending desired functionality and budget.  

7. Mobile Optimized

At this point having a mobile-friendly website should go without saying. Unfortunately, that’s still not always the case. To increase conversion rates, every aspect of your mobile website should be designed to make it as quick and easy as possible for people to make a purchase. This includes your mobile website speed and performance which you can test with this free tool from Google and how easy it is to complete the checkout from a phone.

8. Related Products

How many times have you been online shopping for one thing and wound up buying a number of other items that weren’t even on your list? I know it definitely happens to me. Review your related products to see whether there could be an opportunity to make them more relevant and/or incorporate them into different areas of your website (product pages, checkout, etc.)

9. Media Mentions & Recognition

This is especially helpful for new online stores that don’t have an established brand or many customer reviews. Mentions by local, regional, or national media outlets or any awards received by your business can help build credibility with website visitors.

Here, popup childcare provider Flexable does a great job of not only showcasing their media mentions, but also dovetailing the logos with testimonials—creating a powerful one-two punch of credibility.


10. Abandoned Cart Email

You were so close. Someone visited your website, found an item they liked, added to their cart and started to checkout and then—poof. Just like that they left without making a purchase. With an average of 77% of all online retail orders abandoned instead of purchased, if you’re not sending out abandoned cart recovery emails you are literally leaving money on the table. Some online retailers send a friendly reminder an hour or so after the abandoned cart while others incentivize shoppers with a time-sensitive discount. Either way, make sure you include abandoned cart recovery emails in your online marketing strategy to increase ecommerce conversion rates.

Next Steps

Before you spend any more time trying to drive new traffic, don’t forget to look for opportunities to increase conversion rates on your ecommerce website. Even a percentage increase can mean dozens more orders and ultimately that’s what having an online store is all about.

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