eCommerce Blog

eCommerce Blog – Opportunities in US and India (by Darpan Munjal)

35 great eCommerce User Interface Designs

Posted by Darpan Munjal On November - 16 - 2009
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I think most of us would agree that a clean and intuitive user experience goes a long way in maintaining healthy conversion rates for an eCommerce business. Although most online retailers want to build a clean user experience – a lot of times they get influenced by the “complexities” of their business and begin designing the experience for exceptions that only apply to 5-10% of visitors. I think it is extremely important to continue to invest some dollars in the usability testing of the site and keep the experience as simple as possible.

I recently came across a great post that showcases 35 online retailers who have done an outstanding job of keeping the user experience simple and fresh. In the past, I have seen a lot of retailers focusing on adding more and more content to the pages so that they can make use of the very last pixel of white space on their page. Looking at these designs, perhaps the focus should be quite opposite – how to remove all the unnecessary content out of a page and increase the amount of that white space so that the users are presented with crisp and quality content that truly matters.

Here’s the list for your design inspiration: http://vandelaydesign.com/blog/galleries/ecommerce-ui/

Google Analytics: Web Intelligence tips for Online Retailers

Posted by Darpan Munjal On November - 10 - 2009
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If you have read my previous posts, I am a huge fan of leveraging web analytics to gain insights about your customers, campaigns and site usability. However, one of the challenges most online retailers face is how to gain actionable  insights from the analytics tool without getting lost in the sea of data that is being collected by the tool.

Google analytics recently rolled out a new “Intelligence” feature which is a great attempt to solve this very problem. Google analytics now keeps track of “expected” data patterns on your site and can notify you via email or online reporting if there are any significant changes on your site activity. For example, intelligence feature could alert you if there was a 200% surge in visits from Twitter referrals during last 24 hours or let you know that bounce rates of visitors from India jumped by 40% last week. Instead of you having to monitor reports and comb through all the data, Analytics Intelligence alerts you to the most significant information to pay attention to, saving you time and surfacing traffic insights that could affect your online business.

Take a look at the video below to learn more about this awesome new feature:

Read the rest of this entry »

15 reasons why I wouldn’t buy from your online store

Posted by Darpan Munjal On November - 1 - 2009
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Dear Online Retailer,

You can make a safe assumption that the reason I am visiting your online store is because I have an intention to buy something from you. All I need from you is to help me find what I am looking for and then take me from point A (Product Page) to point B (checkout). I am ready to fork over my money if you show me a clear path! So it is up to you to decide how easy or difficult you want my journey to be. Need a few tips? Here are few ideas to consider:

  1. Do not force me to register during the checkout process. If I click on checkout, that is usually a safe assumption that I have made a decision to purchase. Please get out of my way so you can take my money as quickly as possible before I change my mind. Don’t present me with unnecessary registration steps or other information that would slow me down. If you want to give me an option to register after the checkout is complete, sure I will consider it.
  2. Remember that Google is not your target customer – I am. Don’t write your product descriptions or other content containing tons of SEO keywords with a sole purpose to please Google. Read the rest of this entry »

Top 10 Low Cost Ways To Improve Site Usability

Posted by Darpan Munjal On October - 22 - 2009
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Very frequently I get called by online retailers who have done significant work in SEO, are driving quite a bit of traffic to their website but seem to have hit a wall in increasing the revenue. They are baffled that despite all the good work in SEO and online marketing, why are they not able to maintain a healthy conversion rate? The one factor that often results in a low conversion rate is site usability. In other words, once the visitors are on your site, are they able to effectively navigate to find what they are looking for and then finally buy the product.

In the offline world, imagine walking into a store and you see clutter everywhere – the only thing that is clearly visible is an exit sign. However good the pricing is, if the store is not organized in a presentable manner, you are likely to walk straight through that exit door. Similarly in the online world, a lot of online retailers do not focus on getting objective feedback from external users on site usability. This is true especially for the small and medium size retailers who feel that things like usability testing are for the big guys who have a lot of money at their disposal. Not any more – there are several cost effective tools available now that would allow you to test and improve the usability of your site in an objective way, without causing a dent in your wallet. Here are 10 low cost ways to understand and improve the usability of your site: Read the rest of this entry »

The Perfect Storm

Posted by Darpan Munjal On August - 20 - 2007
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The online retail environment in India is eerily quiet. The overall online pie is still very small. Broadly speaking, Indian consumers aren’t shopping online. The distributors or local vendors still look at the online channel as a drop in the bucket. New online retailers are slowly emerging – however Indian ecommerce just can’t seem to hit its stride. What does this all mean? Is online retailing not for the Indian market? Are the cultural preferences of Indian customers so unique that ecommerce will never achieve a mainstream status? Although the current state paints a very somber image for eCommerce in India, it reminds me of the time when we went on a vacation to Florida, only to find out that the area was about to be hit by a category 3 hurricane. Standing in balcony of the hotel room, I could feel an uneasy quiet. Wind was calm however I could feel something big was about to happen. Two years later, I find myself standing on the verge of another perfect storm – a storm that will change the face of online shopping in India.

It is not a mystery anymore that the retail industry is going through a significant organization in India. Some would argue that this opens up more exciting options for consumers to shop in a physical store, which would further impact the adoption of online shopping in a negative way. Fair argument, however, I would like to share some specific reasons why I strongly believe that a reverse phenomenon is inevitable – organization in physical retail will fuel an explosive growth of online ecommerce in India.

 

Why has eCommerce adoption been slow in India?
Before we look at the factors that will drive an explosive growth in eCommerce, it is important to look at why eCommerce hasn’t taken off so far in India. Read the rest of this entry »

Will they come back?

Posted by Darpan Munjal On August - 2 - 2007
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US based online shoes retailer Zappos.com was mentioned in this story that it has reached 6 million paying customers.  Although this is a major accomplishment, what is even more amazing is the fact that three fourth of shoppers who make purchase on Zappos.com are repeat customers. This got me thinking – how many retailers use “repeat customers” as the metric to measure success. Most of the online retailers that I am aware of think of Revenue or Gross Profit or EBITDA or net-profit as a proxy for measuring success. These metrics are certainly better than the dot com days in 2000 when online businesses were happy with just measuring the online visits – primarily because they didn’t have any real sales to report on anyways. However, are these metrics telling anything about how the customer’s purchase experience has been on the site? I would argue that these metrics are lagging indicators of performance. In other words Read the rest of this entry »

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