Wednesday, March 26, 2008

NO more to Purchase Anxiety for your customers

The ‘new media’ has broken all shackles that traditional mediums laid. From being the information super highway, it is now turning into a dynamic marketplace facilitating people to not just transact but to actively interact as well. However, it has its lapses too.

In my last blog, I addressed the apprehensions that most shoppers confront while buying products online - security, cost and post delivery services being the primary parameters. In an industry which is spreading its wings by the second, there is certainly no space for anomalies like these to impede businesses from growing at the same rate. Or perhaps even higher!

But exist they do. And is also clogging potential buyers to shop online in scores (millions to be precise).

In this blog, I have tried to outline some remedies which, if employed by site owners can considerably help reduce purchase anxiety that online shoppers often undergo now a days. I thought to explain it best with an active example presently employing these measures. I have once again picked Retails Direct because of the following reasons:

Data security:

Telling your customer that you initiate all the stages of the purchase transactions through a secured server is the first step towards winning his heart. Incorporating security seals to protect your site from the hackers is therefore, a mandate.

Include personalized remarks:

Retails Direct has a unique feature of making its consumers rate as well as write their personal comments about any product purchased by them. This feature greatly eases the buying decision of other customers.

Include your source:

Retails Direct (RD) is seen to have a very transparent approach. If a customer seeks to get the details of a desired transaction, it can easily be acquired from the RD help desk. The customer care services are worth mentioning. Prospects should try this.

Contact Information:

Mentioning an e-mail id for contacting your business is not enough. My post purchase queries were very politely put to rest by their customer care executives. Talking to them over the phone was a big relief.

Inclusion of reputed certifications:

Retails Direct, though a newbie in the industry, already has 40 brand tie-ups to its credit. When asked about the authentication of the same, they sent me scanned copies of MOUs, seeing which all my doubts immediately vanished.

Be your consumer's friend:

People whether on net or offline, like to buy from someone i.e. a living entity and not from 'something' which gives them no real experience. Retails Direct has an active blogging site where you get to not only read what others have to say about it, but you also get to read messages from their business head and organization head in their official PRs at regular intervals.

Following –up, a mandate!

Purchase anxiety certainly doesn't end with the purchase. I just bought a Moto Rokr E6 from Retails Direct a week back and the post-purchase follow-up I received is one of the best I've got so far from any site. I was informed about every stage of delivery until it finally reached my hands.

The reason behind incorporating all these elements is not only to let your customer shop with ease but smartly as well. We are dwelling in a world where time is the new currency and if people have to spend more to save this new moolah, they will!

Friday, March 21, 2008

How Do I begin E- branding?

No surprises here- let me jump in: How to build an E- brand?
Let’s start with the basics:

Get your goal right!

The first thing is to decide your reason of choosing the internet as a medium.

If you already have a presence offline i.e. in the 'real market', then having people to identify you makes it easy. In that case you can be called as a brand on the internet.

If you intend to generate sales from your business on the web (for eg. affiliate marketing, e-store, Search engine marketing etc.), then things may take time to shape up. You'll be required to carry out an extensive competitive research about the global market trends in your industry vertical.

Strike the cupid at the first glance!

Visitors dislike scrolling. So even before they see your homepage, which i'm sure may be inviting, relevant and cognate, their eye balls will on the topmost banner on your site. Only if they find something lucrative enough on that banner, will they stay to look around furthermore. That banner should be a snap shot of what your company does and the benefits it offers to the consumers. This will make the consumers wanting to know more.

The list of tools is a long one and I believe that curiosity is a virtue that should often be exercised. So until I put the rest of my experience in words, soak in all that is said and be ready to meet me right here again tomorrow.

Is your portal the next Wal Mart in the making??

Its time to move from continental cuisines of sophisticated 5 Star hotels to street-side 'dhabawalas'. This indeed is the new regimen of the world today. “Go Local!” is the buzz word.

In order to survive in an industry which changes by the second, constant innovation is the only key to breathe easy and perform optimally. Online Retail Industry- this business vertical is meandering in an arena, the population of which is estimated to reach a stupendous 120 million by 2008, says the ASSOCHAM Report. Therefore for entrepreneurs dreaming to become future Wal Marts of the world, reading this is a must.

That people in metros divulge in spending more than their sub-urban counterparts is now a cliché. Consumer Insight reports reveal that times are ripe to reach to this new community of consumers because it is this segment which now bears a massive potential to bolster the revenue pay offs targeted by these online entrepreneurs. So what do we do? Well, the need of the hour is to ‘localise’ the businesses to address the buying instincts of this ‘small town shopper’.

For example, there is an upcoming portal whose speculation is catching pace in present times- Retails Direct. This newbie has not only made its presence felt in the leading metros but also smaller towns PAN India. “We’re launching promotions on upbeat as well as local web sites to reach our local customers more effectively. Succeeding locally depends on how effectively you get the word out to your customers, asserts the Co-founder and Director, Rupinder Khurana, .

Consumer, like the advertising gurus say, is the ‘king’. But these kings are no longer confined to the sky scraper laden urban environs. The ones in bucolic pavilions are now as well-heeled and demand ‘personalized’ patronage if at all entrepreneurs seek to exploit their cache. Hope this article would serve fruitful for these businesses who are seeking new interfaces to reach their customers.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

E-branding your way to success!

Which brand do I choose?
“Which brand do I choose?” I have lost count of how many times have I asked this question to myself. Everything time I decide upon a gadget, I visit sites and rumble-tumble goes my head. Every brand has a little extra than the other to offer and a little less than the previous one. Before your consumer gets lost in this frenzy, it’s time to define some e-branding tools.

Well, does that term seem new to you?? If yes, then very soon from now, this is the only term you’ll have marketing professionals talking about.

What is E-branding?

The web is on for a transformation spree. Internet in India is expected to have 120 million users by 2008. So if demand is on a rise, will supply be far behind? Certainly not!! Therefore we see a swarm of e-businesses seeding on this dynamic medium every single day, the largest being the Online Retail Industry. What are these businesses doing to make themselves known? Do they know that if they don’t make their customers ‘STICK AROUND’, their competitors are just a click away. Just a single click!!

Do you have friends? I’m sure you do! Doesn’t it feel great when your friend holds your hand when in trouble? Customers are also just like any of us, they thrive on relationships. In a world characterized by stress and clutter, if you understand their needs, guide them and show them you care, they'll trust you like no other. That is called BRAND LOYALTY. And when your consumer starts identifying you, among millions of similar players with similar faces too, without having to put in any extra efforts, THAT my friends, is called E-BRANDING!

Some examples are as follows:

Coke - Genuine, Family-oriented
Pepsi – Spirited, Young, Outgoing
Wall Street Journal - Accomplished, Competent
Mercedes, Lexus - Sophistication
Nike (versus LA gear) – Ambition

If you able to render this identity to your brand, rest assured, your customer will never and I mean NEVER elude you. Now the question is: How Do We Do it?
Watch out for my next blog as I unravel the mysteries!

What’s Your Brand Personality?

Consumers now view these brands as a ‘living entity’
How would you differentiate Nike's 'Just do it' from Reebok's 'I am what I am'? Both sell the same products, at almost the same prices and hold the same target audience. Still Nike's 'Sweat and Beauty' sells more than Reebok's 'We know you suck'.

Needless to say that in such markets people don’t turn to these brands for their offerings but because of the attitude these brands represent. These brands no longer offer mere products now, they are living experiences and identities in the minds of the consumers. Consumers now view these brands as a ‘living entity’ – an entity that speaks its mind, reflects its attitude and acts as an aide in acknowledging their eccentricities and whims. That is what we call– BRAND PERSONALITY!

The catch for this new generation of consumers is ' Be their friend'. The clutter and pressures of today's lifestyle has left the consumer flustered and beclouded. Loneliness is another hazard. However, the good news is people cling on to where they find value and stay where they find comfort. Therefore without infusing a feeling of security, accountability and ‘liking’ in the mind of the consumer, brand loyalties are difficult to achieve.

How to render a personality to your online brand??


If your goal is to generate sales through your venture then the first step will be to initiate an exhaustive research about your domestic as well the world market, determine SEO strategies, optimize shopping cart and navigation functionalities along with other e-paths.


Your homepage is your first interface with the visitor. Ensure that it makes him to stick to it by giving him what he wants, there itself. Banners displaying your core product or benefits for your consumer will act as a bait to hook him into reading more about it. Colorful pictures, layouts, interactive templates follow suit.


The most important element in building a brand, online as well as offline is 'trust'. The more real your conversations are with your consumers, the more accountable your business becomes in their mind. Internet is still in its nascence as far as this interactivity is concerned. If feasible, allow your consumers to raise requests and receive relevant suggestions based on those requests.


Your site content should be presented to your customers almost immediately. Content segregation in the form of bullets points, captions and brief paragraphs work best. Most importantly, visual presentations of messages are very helpful in creating an impression in the mind of the consumers.


Internet provides you with a flood of information in a no-pressure environment, with reigns solely in the hands of the users. Therefore traditional monotones of creating hype lose their credibility in this medium, where consumer behavior is regulated by product/price comparisons, variety and features.

As mentioned above, people associate a brand with the experience it gives to its customers. In e-commerce environment, there is no space or time for frustration. Information should be easily digested. Ordering should be quick and smooth and loading time almost instantaneous.

The idea is to catch the whim of the consumer and make him feel 'special' and 'cared for'. That's when a brand attains its own personality and becomes the consumer's friend.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Time to say NO to Purchase Anxiety

The other day, a friend of mine wanted to shop for I-mate JASJAM mobile so we browsed through some major online retail outlets, seeking to get the best deal possible. And just when he was about to carry out the financials, what I witnessed still holds my memory like fresh paint. With sweaty palms and shivers all over the body, he just couldn’t get himself to type in a single digit of his credit card number. My friend had an Anxiety Attack.

Since then my only motive has been to gauge the fears confronted by such shoppers and its reasons of course. I am dedicating this blog to specifically address some common apprehensions:

Security: Owing to the growing curve of identity thefts, even avid shoppers get cold feet when they do not see any assured signs of data safety on their favorite online store.

Price: The possibility of there being a cheaper alternate to the same product.

Product Quality: The angst that the product may not be of the highest quality.

Location: The product could have been attained closer to home.
The product was made by an unknown source overseas.

Compatibility: Whether the product will be of the right shape, size or color or not.

Personal Taste: The product may/may not match the individual's exact specifications.

Delivery Service: Most sites do not mention any phone numbers for the customers to confirm the delivery status after the product is dispatched. This leaves no option for the consumer to immediately seek any information in the post-purchase phase.

While most of these apprehensions may seem trivial to an entrepreneur, it has held back a large percentage of potential shoppers, out of the entire online shopping community of 46 million.(According to Indian online retail figures) There are however, some players which have been constantly trying to address the varied needs of the consumers.

I was quite impressed by this online store-, a new player on board perhaps. What helped me to stay (longer than usual) on their site, was the mention of a security feature called '256- BIT Encryption' employed to protect the data information of the visitor.

I just happened to read its press release on India PR wire and thought of giving it a glance. And what I found here did make me 'stick around'. For people who thrive on electronics, this site is a must see. I found some deals to be pretty sparing in other product categories too. And yes! They only speak brands, which is good news.

Wish we could find this store when my friend was hunting for I-mate JASJAM. I found it here at a better bargain.

However, my next blog will entail the solutions that’ll help e-shop owners to dissolve all the apprehensions faced by the customers and make their buying experience devoid of any sweats and shivers. Stay on till then and shop smart!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Time to bid goodbye to ‘Purchase Anxiety’!

Internet today is a home to hundreds of thousands of medium and large online shopping stores. India is already witnessing an active e-consumer base of a stupendous 46 million presently, out of the Indian web population of 120 million. The irony however is, there are still a good 9 million potential buyers who do visit these e-stores but move away without purchasing any products. The simple reason is Purchase Anxiety!

Buying products from virtual shelves of this virtual media is what gives these potential customers cold feet, for every 1 user out of 10 suffers from the fear of the uncertainties involved in transacting online.

Certainly not pleasant news for the established as well as budding online entrepreneurs. However, to better the customers’ e-shopping experience, listed below are some guidelines that will reassure your customers that you are a reputable enterprise, valuing their privacy along with the quality of product.

Site Security Seals:
TNS Market Research showcases that identity and credit card thefts are the two greatest qualms that limit e-shoppers from buying online. Therefore every site should distinctly include information talking about various security seals employed to save purchase data from the hackers. This would give more transparency to the site.

Attach Testimonials:
Attaching testimonials to your site are a great way to build the trust factor with your customers. This gives people direct access to what other customers think and feel about their experience with you.

Get your facts right:
Whenever you state facts about a particular transaction, always be very specific. For example: If you want to talk about your sales, never talk about the projected score. Talk real! That's what makes you more credible.

Follows ups are a must:
Purchase anxiety does not end with the purchase itself. It should be in the best interest of the enterprise to keep updating the customers with the post-purchase processes till the product finally reaches in their hands. Informing the shopper about the following can be of great help:

• The order confirmation page
• Confirmation e-mails
• Shipping information and receipts

Incorporating these elements in your website will invariably add immense value to your site as well as your customers shopping experience. Once you value-add your portal with the said features, talk about each of them in the form of press releases or blogs to inform your customers about your initiatives.

Selling to people who actually want to hear from you is more effective than interrupting strangers who don't.

What’s first on your consumer’s wish list this season??

Before I list the products that consumers are aiming for this season, let me share with you something rather astounding: By the end of this year, E-commerce shopping in Indian metros is likely to jump over double! Though I am an avid shop-a-holic myself, this boggles my head as much as acoustics in ‘THE MATRIX’ did. Population of online shoppers is rising in scores. Let’s see what’s driving this new generation of consumers to swarm in such large numbers.

Here’s a list:

Online books sale
• Accessories
• Electronic gadgets
Hotel Bookings
• Railway Transportation
Music and Movies
• Gift Products

Whoa! It’s almost like, you name it, and they have it. Won’t it be an exaggeration to call these businesses a boggart that take shape of anything you desire? For me personally, these stores are the best innovation, technology has come up with.

• Home Delivery saves time
• ’24 * 7’ hours of shopping renders ease
• Brand tie-ups ensure availability
• Product comparison features makes my shopping experience more valuable

What's more interesting to know is the rage for shopping online to amass time, is not only restricted to the metros alone. The 'smaller cities and towns' we often hear with regards to entering the e-commerce phenomena are places like Ranchi, Bareilly, Meerut, Ajmer Rajkot, Tirur...and the list goes on and on. So buddies, with the net turning Web 2.0 and e-business models becoming more consolidated, its time to shed your scruples and zoom into a new world of e-malls and plazas.

The rise and rise of Online Retail!

The globe is finally at your fingertips. Human numbers may be expanding by the second but distances have finally shrunk. Investing money is a tradition. Investing time is the newest wrinkle. People don’t mind spending the almighty rupiyah for a pair of Levi’s Red Loop jeans if buying the same from an online store takes just a few minutes. Else driving an hour to reach the high street to buy it seems nothing less than a sluggish idea. Time and time alone stands as the new age currency today. And taking this as an opportune pedestal to climb higher, entrepreneurs have finally entered the new arena of Online Retail.

Say, you had already seen your favourite digital camera at a store in a mall. What say if you found the same product at a much better price in the comfort of your home- on the web, at half the time you spent shopping offline?? Well, the web is serving all this and more to its online customers. According to the NASSCOM Report, India expects a massive mass of internet users. Even the big brands have already found their space on web. Whether it is the Luxury Retail, Kids Retail, Mobile Telephony or other Consumer Electronics, the high street e-stores are on a roll.

The challenge however is to engage that portion of the mob, which visit the sites but go away without spending any bucks. The reason? Their distrust. This section of online turf is not comfortable transacting on the net because of their fear of e-stores mishandling their precious information. This population is almost half of the total online populace. If online retail portals begin to instill a security factor in the minds of their consumer base, half their battles will be won!