Ecommerce Systems

eCommerce, in the traditional sense, is dead. Today, retailers, brands, and outlets struggle to compete against each other for potential buyers across the web, mobile, tablets and other forms of media. eCommerce also happens to change at lightning pace, making it possible for existing successes to fade quickly and challengers to succeed.

Traditional ideas surrounding eCommerce – "shopping carts," "wish-lists," "guest checkouts"—are taken for granted today. Customers expect shopping experiences that make it effortless to find, retrieve, and make purchasing decisions. Sites and applications that don't do this will get left by the wayside.

At Icreon, we don't think of eCommerce in terms of "sites" or "apps." eCommerce is a shopping paradigm. Whether you're selling to businesses or consumers, the heart of every eCommerce project Icreon undertakes is about knowing the customer, and creating seamless paths towards completing purchases.

The Basics

  • Recommended Alternatives

    Customers are inundated with options from you, your competitors, and irrelevant vendors. We make the effort to ensure that buyers are intelligently provided alternative products in case what they were looking for doesn't work out.

  • Responsive Web Design

    25% of all browsing is done via mobile. If you're not displaying your products across tablets and smartphones, you're losing your customers as they access you when they're on the go. Building purchase points on mobile in today's landscape is a must.

  • Faceted Searching

    What happens when customers are searching for your product? Do they see gigantic lists of results, or does your site try to make guesses to most relevant products and organic search results by departments, product genres and feature specifications?

The Not So Obvious

  • Dynamic
    Content
    Layouts

    At Icreon, we know products and services have different importance throughout the day, to different people, in different geographies. We focus on ensuring that product layouts are generated dynamically so that customers only see what's relevant to them.

  • Social
    Powered

    Links to social sites aren’t enough. Can users log-in to your services through their existing accounts? Are they able to share their purchases with their network? Do you pursue new accounts by promoting your brand through customer social feeds?

  • Omnichannel-Driven

    eCommerce has completed a full revolution and entered the physical space. Do your brick and mortar strategies translate successfully online? Are you able to leverage your physical real estate to drive eCommerce sales and vice versa?

Dynamic Content Layouts

At Icreon, we know products and services have different importance throughout the day, to different people, in different geographies. We focus on ensuring that product layouts are generated dynamically so that customers only see what's relevant to them.

Social Powered

Links to social sites aren’t enough. Can users log-in to your services through their existing accounts? Are they able to share their purchases with their network? Do you pursue new accounts by promoting your brand through customer social feeds?

Omnichannel-Driven

eCommerce has completed a full revolution and entered the physical space. Do your brick and mortar strategies translate successfully online? Are you able to leverage your physical real estate to drive eCommerce sales and vice versa?

our solutions in action

Marc Ecko
Web App Development
NYRR
Kenya Airways
Mobile App Development

Additional Resources

e-Commerce Platforms: Build vs. Buy. Which one should you choose?

When choosing an e-commerce platform, like choosing most software platforms, as an IT manager, you must weigh the options of buying an off-the-shelf product or building from scratch. e-Commerce retailers are split in half, with 52% opting for a custom built product and 48% buying off the shelf SaaS products. No solution is perfect for anyone and balancing business needs with budgetary restrictions are always difficult.

There are pros and cons to both sides. Building and maintaining a custom platform is more expensive than buying a product off the shelf, which often comes with maintenance, support and updates. However, if your business has nuances that an off-the-shelf product can't handle, then you may opt to build from scratch. Take this quick quiz below to determine your build readiness. Assign a "1" to questions you answer "yes" and a "0" to questions you answer "no."

  • Is your product base complex, broad, have unique market requirements, and have a complicated distribution chain?
  • Do you have a large enough support base to maintain the solution on your own?
  • Is your customer base mostly domestic?
  • Does your current solution use multiple software products, all or most of which you want to replace?
  • Is your business model flexible and/or do you foresee it changing in the future?
  • Are you looking for a feature-rich product?
  • Does your business have the time to wait for development and implementation?

If you scored a four or above, you may want to consider building a custom solution. However, when discussing options with your vendor, be transparent about your budgetary restrictions, if any, so that the most appropriate solution can be found for your business.

Optimizing eCommerce Sites for the Holiday Rush

Cyber Monday is the biggest eCommerce day of the year, with millions of shoppers making purchases in time for the holiday season. Small and midsize businesses across the globe must prepare their eCommerce websites for this peak period. Everything from traffic increases, to landing page design, and holiday centric email campaigns must be prepared and strategically executed in time.

Despite a 2% drop in retail in-store sales on the same day last year, businesses have been able to benefit from a 20% increase of $1.5 billion in transactions on Cyber Monday. Faced with brick and mortar challenges, emerging brands can make up for lost ground by fine tuning their eCommerce efforts in time for the holiday rush.

Don't Forget Marketing

Multiple areas of marketing efforts can be strategically adjusted to increase sales performance during the holidays. To effectively capitalize on the holiday rush, tactics such as enhanced email marketing, seasonal PPC campaigns, and promotional offers should align with the time of year:

1) Segmented Holiday Email Marketing

When preparing your email marketing newsletter strategy for the months of October to January, focus on contextualizing content and newsletter design for the season. A great first step is to create seasonal themed newsletter material via a company blog. Posts should focus on what customers are searching for on search engines during the specific time of the year.

Aesthetics for the newsletter should also be designed with themes for the holiday season. Choose design elements and stock imagery that relate to the time of year as well as the various audience demographic segments you target.

Creating an editorial calendar for each month with topics like 'Top Holiday Gifts for Girls' or 'Popular Gifts for Dads' can attract visitors to your site. Aligning the content within each email newsletter for specific audience segments can increase campaign success as well.

Segmented newsletters with specified content for dads, moms, daughters, or brothers, can boost the likelihood of different customer types clicking through to make a purchase.

2) Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Copy within your email marketing newsletters, product descriptions, text within AdWords and Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns, should reflect the way holiday shoppers are searching for products. One of the first places to start is with PPC campaigns and ad banners.

Such ads should link to relevant landing pages that work to streamline a specified call to action. Designing custom landing pages with holiday themes, a spotlight on specific holiday trending products, as well as varying templates and design for gender, location, and age are highly suggested.

Through smart targeting and remarketing efforts, PPC campaigns optimized for the holiday season can drive transactions and conversions.

Another place to fine tune for the purpose of SEM is product descriptions and microdata within HTML markup. With microdata about page elements throughout your site, search engines will have more information to assess your search relevancy.

Including holiday focused keywords within microdata as well as product descriptions can boost the likelihood of organic search for holiday items leading to your site.

With a predicted 20% increase in eCommerce sales by Volusion, a refined search engine presence can act as a proverbial net to capture an increased share of holiday sales.

Design and Upkeep

Color and imagery are a critical aspect of the holiday shopping season. It's why Macy's continues to invest in their window displays, and why each season and holiday are represented by specific colors and tones. By incorporating commonly associated images, themes, and colors within the design of your main eCommerce site as well as landing pages, newsletters and other marketing collateral, you can increase attractiveness for holiday shoppers.

On top of a site's aesthetic components for layout and positioning, ensuring correct information displayed in functional elements for a site has a direct impact on the customer journey and calls to action.

Including adequate display information regarding item stock, priority shipping, or up-sell and cross-sell recommendations can work wonders. Without easy access to accurate information, customers will become frustrated with the usability of your site.

Unhappy customers in the eCommerce space who feel stonewalled by your site's functionality will head to a competitor within seconds. One of the keys to differentiating your site experience rests with what specific elements you incorporate into your web design for product pages, home pages, and check-out screens.

Communicate Offers, and Emphasize the Right Information

Design of product pages can include information regarding current price discounts, inventory stock numbers, and product images or video. Strategically placing such information and calls to action can directly influence transactions. If such information does not display correctly or if it displays incorrect information, incoming sales can drop.

Customers faced with frustrating online shopping experiences may head to competitors with a more intuitive site experience. Consistent monitoring and maintenance of the site during peak periods of interaction will be necessary for ideal sales performance.

Many sites use A/B testing to optimize the placement of individual buttons. Small tweaks to button placement and site design, in response to analytic reports and mouse tracking, can garner a substantial boost in transactions and conversions.

Where information is placed is valuable, but ensuring the integrity and consistency of website performance is paramount.

From monitoring adequate communication of offers, aligning ads with available inventory and stock, as well as ensuring the web host can handle the holiday’s increase in traffic, website logistics for eCommerce operations are vital to a successful holiday haul.

Chris is the Digital Communications Manager at Icreon Tech.

eCommerce Web Design Trends

The Leading eCommerce Web Design Trends for 2014

Web design trends continue to change from one year to the next. As more and more online retailers seek to provide an optimal mobile shopping experiences for customers, a significant number of website redesigns are expected in 2014.

Here are some of the latest trends in web design that are expected for brands this year:

1. Huge Graphics

Relatively larger graphics that link to products are a major trend for the year 2014. Without the ability to handle the products they are contemplating buying, potential customers can only depend on graphics and HD images to inspect a product. The more attractive the products look to customers, the more confident they will feel about purchasing from the site.

2. Flat Design

Flat design is considered one of the hottest eCommerce design trends around. It has been adopted by Windows 8, Apple's iOS 7, and by dozens of other popular operating systems (OS) and websites. Flat design focuses on "simple, graphic style common UI... that contrasts skeuomorphism", the predominant form of design that attempted to replicate real-world objects (like a zipper or leather stitch).

3. Responsive Web Design (RWD)

RWD has already been a trend in eCommerce site redesigns. It allows online retailers to provide a consistent quality shopping experience for customers regardless of the device being used (tablets, smartphones, and PCs). A website that has been optimized for easy viewing on mobile devices goes a long way in increasing sales. If a smartphone user encounters a clunky web experience, they'll head to Amazon or a better designed competitor site.

4. Finger-Friendly (Touch) Interfaces

Increased mobile adoption by potential customers of is forcing designers to adapt their techniques to finger-friendly interfaces. Mobile users are now interacting with web pages using their finger, which require larger graphics, increased white space between page elements, and touch friendly infinite scroll functionality. Traditional website elements such as a header menu are disappearing in favor of app-like side bar menus that slide out.

5. Interesting and Engaging Fonts

One of the most important components of eCommerce web design is typography. Expect to see sites using more distinctive branded fonts that are customized for a brand. Crisp and sharp fonts are central to mobile users. With smaller screens, mobile versions of websites benefit greatly from increased attention to the readability of written content online.

6. Video and Other Rich Content

Mobile videos provide online retailers with a medium for providing meaningful content and detailed product information. HD video is the closest an online customer will get to holding and inspecting a product in real life. More and more retailers are beginning to include video and other rich media in their product descriptions and even their online advertisements.

The Top Tips for Optimizing eCommerce Websites

It is estimated that online shoppers in the U.S. have spent $252 billion in the year 2013 alone. With eCommerce continuing to pull in impressive numbers, brands must differentiate their eCommerce websites. Some of the main ways to make an eCommerce site stand out rest with design, feature implementation, and the overall integrity and security of a site.

Day in and day out, a consumer's experience with the marketplace is becoming more mobile, visual and social. Although such features and expectations are great for consumers, the latest trends tend to complicate the process for eCommerce brands.

So here are some of the best practices for improving an eCommerce website and exposing a business to new audiences and increased profits.

Ease of Use and Intuitive Navigation

Developing Websites that have easy navigation and are organized strategically, help to ensure that site visitors find what they are looking for. Consumers should easily know where they are on the site. Ideally there should be no impediments to reaching a transaction page and easily browse other options for related products.

Effective eCommerce websites also make sure that visitors are presented with strategic calls-to-action. Placement of landing pages, 'Add to Cart' buttons, and recommended up-sell or cross-sell products, are central to making it easy for customers to buy. The layout of page elements and the hierarchy of pages are also central components to easily navigable eCommerce sites.

Optimizing the sitemap of the existing structure of a website also helps search engines better map out how the site is organized (and thus appear higher in Google's search rank). This is important in terms of visibility, since it is one of the many factors that the major search engines take into consideration when ranking a site in search results for your product (shoes, skirts, watches, etc.).

Adding Product Videos

Until this point photographs have been the primary means to display products on eCommerce sites. But in recent years videos have been playing a major role in eCommerce experiences across the board. This stems from improvements in web design as well as higher performing mobile devices with better screen quality. Studies have shown that people are more likely to share a video on social networks than a site built with text heavy pages.

With such facts in mind, incorporating high quality productions and HD quality videos can boost sales. Promotional videos around a product can also go viral (see Dollar Shave Club’s YouTube sensation). Another example are the product videos for introducing the latest iPhones that almost always make the rounds on social media and even national TV.

Product Zoom

Another example of progression in the realm of presenting products online is the ability to zoom in and survey high quality images of a product. Amazon and JackThreads execute this quite well. Product zoom is a simple way to enlarge showcased products that allows visitors to see the minute details of products featured on the site. One of the biggest weaknesses of eCommerce in general rests with the lack of ability to inspect and touch a product.

With product zoom, the online shopping experience feels much more similar to in-store shopping. This works on the psychology that customers usually prefer to touch and feel the product they are buying – hence this feature, that helps to only replicate this experience.

Social Media Presence

The use of social networks for initiating eCommerce transactions, often called social eCommerce, makes hundreds of shops accessible through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to name a few. Everything within these online shops is accessible through the social network itself. By engaging with customers through social interaction and social sharing, brands are able to increase exposure and communicate directly with customers and target markets.

For Ecko.com, Icreon Tech incorporated several social features that capitalize on the viral product videos throughout the site as well as live Twitter streams from fans and the brand itself. By clicking a specific social applet on the website, customers can instantly catch a glimpse of viral content and social activity related to the brand. Also after making a purchase, the customer can instantly share their purchase with their network.

Some sites go so far as to use these networking sites as customer support systems, often interacting with customers for enquires related to their orders. Twitter is becoming a major way for brands to respond to customer issues such as missing packages, defective products, and any other potential issue.

eCommerce in the Social and Mobile Age

There are various trends that have matured and contributed to the formation of popular eCommerce strategies. But to understand the inherent value of incorporating insightful strategies into an online business, businesses must focus on the expectations of a shopper in today’s social and mobile infused world.

Take a look at Icreon Tech’s work with Ecko.com, and how we incorporated social media into their eCommerce strategy...