Customers service is becoming more and more important. The reason is simple: Customer Care is a growth factor. If you provide outstanding customer service your customers are more likely to stay with you and tell everyone about their experiences. What are ways to talk to your customers in 2017, when the majority of millennials don’t want to pick up the phone anymore? And can bots help to provide efficient and cost saving customer care?
Ways to get in touch with your customers
Even though call centers are becoming less popular they are still there in 2017. However, they are expensive and can be ineffective in helping customers and providing a great experience.
E-Mail or filling out a form is also still a popular - yet dated - solution. Some companies seem to be hiding their contact information deep in their website structure so less customers get in touch. The result is one more strained customer relationship.
Social Media customer care has been proven very popular in the last years. Even though it also takes some time to draft a message, it feels faster. Furthermore, the customer expectation is that their requests are answered much quicker. A same-day-response is definitely expected here. On Twitter it might be an expected response even within two hours.
In 2016, chatbots were all the rage. But while it might seem exciting to outsource customer care to a bot, right now it is also very challenging. Right now there is a great risk to create a frustrating experience for your users. A bot would be able to display some FAQs, but when it comes to answering individual requests it would probably fail, simply because the technology is not there yet.
Talk to your customers inside your product
Instead of having a bot providing customer care you could also have a messenger inside your product. That’s where Alpaca comes in.
This year we will be part of the Expo Berlin and will present Alpaca, a customer care messenger, which lets you talk to your customers inside your product or on your website.
The idea is to provide customer care where your customers already are: on your website.
One reason why customer care is so expensive is that it takes multiple emails to solve a simple problem.
Alpaca lets you communicate with your customers with screenshots so they can show you their problems instead of explaining them.
Why is that important?
Alpaca is a product of Usersnap, a visual communication company. At Usersnap we are proud to have banks and airlines among our customer base.
Now, imagine you are booking a flight and something goes wrong. Instead of sending a lengthy email you could just send a screenshot and help the airline solve your problem.
Get in touch here and meet us at the Expo Berlin!
“The legal instrument of the written warning is widespread in Germany and it is used against merchants when there is a violation of consumer law, competition law, trademark law or copyright law”, says Annegret Mayer from Händlerbund. In the run-up to her talk at the E-commerce Berlin Expo in February, in this interview you will learn about the key legal challenges of the German e-commerce and the steps you should take to sell legally and safely in Germany.
Paulina, E-commerce Berlin Expo: You are the Head of Legal Department at Händlerbund, the largest ecommerce association in Europe. Händlerbund oversees over 50,000 online presences, including small and medium-sized businesses. Händlerbund also cooperates with the umbrella organisation Ecommerce Europe, which enables it to represent the interests of the ecommerce industry across Europe and to provide European legislative procedures. How large is your team? How do you work?
Annegret Mayer, Händlerbund: 14 experienced lawyers work in the legal department at Händlerbund. It’s quite a team giving legal advice via telephone or email towards our members in the field of ecommerce. Each lawyer has a special field of expertise, such as data protection, youth protection, contract law or product labeling. We also provide our members with all relevant legal texts for trading online. The legal department is also responsible for auditing the online shops of our members regarding legal aspects. Defined review criteria cover all the legal requirements that are important for online trading. If the audit of the online shop is successful, our members receive the Käufersiegel Trustmark, as well as the Ecommerce Europe Trustmark, enabling merchants to communicate that they are trustworthy and that they comply with the European consumer law.
Händlerbund supports companies not only from Germany, but also from as diverse markets as Austria, Spain, France, Switzerland, UK, Denmark, Belgium, Greece and the Netherlands.
How did you manage to gather so many (and diverse) e-commerce bodies in one association?
We partly employ own staff in our legal department, but we also cooperate with the legal departments of National Associations that are organized within Ecommerce Europe.
Apart from legal representation and advice, what other support do you offer to the members of your association?
There are many other services we provide for our members. First of all, Händlerbund wants to be the first contact for all the e-commerce aspects for our members and we want to support them to professionalize their online business. Having that in mind, we support our members for instance with customer service for their online business or with the support in SEO or SEA. Händlerbund also organizes workshops on different topics and many networking events. We believe that the exchange between our members is crucial and valuable in the online business.
Companies from other parts of Europe commonly perceive the legal aspects of operating on the German e-commerce market as a challenge. Is this perception a truth or an exaggeration? What, in your opinion, are the roots of this perception?
To some extent it is indeed a challenge to enter the German market. The legal instrument of the written warning is widespread in Germany and it is used against merchants when there is a violation of, for example, consumer law, competition law, trademark law or copyright law. There are many reasons for a written warning; surveys prove that every fourth merchant already received a written warning. Having these figures in mind, it is important to be aware of the legal challenges of the German market and to have legal assistance when entering the German market.
What are the biggest or most frequent legal problems that companies willing to enter the German e-commerce market?
Companies are entering a market where German law applies. Even though in some areas we have legal regulations harmonized within the European Union (for example, the information on the right of withdrawal or pre-contractual information), there are still differences in national law that companies have to be aware of.
And what are the most frequent mistakes that such companies make?
Companies fail to inform consumers appropriately for instance concerning their right of withdrawal. Other most common mistakes include incorrect information on the imprint, the use of unfair terms and conditions, missing information about product labeling, pricing, shipping costs and Online Dispute systems. These are mainly basic information and consumers need to decide whether to buy in the online shop or not. Further mistakes by companies are, for example, the violation of copyrights and trademarks.
Making legal mistakes also means consequences – how severe can these be?
The worst case would end in a tremendous financial damage. The range of financial sanctions varies from 1.500,00 € for a violation of competition law to several thousand Euros depending on the case. It’s usually severe when trademark law is infringed. That is why it’s so important to be aware of the legal environment and to have legal expertise in the special field of the e-commerce law. It prevents merchants from making this kind of legal mistakes, so it is worth to invest the money into legal advice and support.
What would you recommend to a company willing to enter the German e-commerce market? What steps should be taken first to ensure compliance with German legal regulations?
I strongly recommend to get legal advice, ideally even before entering the German e-commerce market. The most important thing is to get all legal texts that are relevant and necessary for the online shop or platforms. The legal texts are the first eye-catcher for competitors or associations who file written warnings and about 80-90 % of the mistakes companies usually make are a part of the legal texts. A second important pillar is to get an audit of the online shop as a whole, meaning a check of, for example, product descriptions, product presentations, advertising messages and product labeling.
Big e-commerce companies entering the German e-commerce market usually have their legal departments that ensure compliance with law – or they have budget for the relevant legal advice services. What is the situation in the case of SMBs? Do they often seek professional legal advice? Or maybe they do it too rarely – and fail because of trying to solve everything on their own?
SMBs, respective for the members of Händlerbund, often seek professional legal advice in all kinds of fields concerning the conclusion and the proper fulfillment of a contract. In the majority of cases, SMBs cannot afford their own lawyers or a legal department. That is where we jump in and give all possible advice on our members’ request.
As an expert in this domain, what websites and other resources would you recommend as a knowledge base for companies thinking about entering the German e-commerce market? Where should they look for information?
Companies can have a look at the Händlerbund’s website. We provide many, many fact sheets and valuable information for free that merchants can use for a first overview of the German market. Furthermore, the websites of Chambers of Industry and Commerce provide material on the German markets and offer a good first source.
You are the speaker at the E-commerce Berlin Expo in February 2017 – the topic of your talk is "The German E-Commerce Market - Legal Aspects". This event itself is an exceptional meeting place for, both, the big and the small e-commerce companies with different backgrounds and experiences from different markets. How do you feel before talking to such a diverse audience?
I feel challenged and excited. I’m looking forward to meeting companies with different backgrounds and I also see it as an opportunity to learn more about other markets.
China is the number one ecommerce market in the world, and as such, more and more retailers are looking to sell in this very lucrative market. By 2018, China expects sales of 871 billion euros, accounting for 40% of the total e-commerce market. By 2020, the market is expected to be larger than the USA, Japan, the UK, Germany and France combined.
2016 saw a record-breaking Singles Day from the Alibaba Group on 11/11, the biggest shopping event in the world. A day of mega online sales, it’s become extremely popular in China, especially as it takes place just as the Christmas shopping period begins. This year, over $14 billion was spent online, with over 657 million orders being placed: a new world record.
Potential for European retailers
It’s clear that China is a very profitable market to be selling in, and it offers lots of opportunities to European retailers. Chinese purchasing behaviour is becoming increasingly international, with 40% of consumers now shopping on foreign sites.
China is the largest ecommerce market with nearly 500 million online buyers and 654 billion dollars’ worth of revenue in 2015. It is twice as large as the European e-commerce market and represents 40% of global e-commerce spending. China has undeniably become the new goldmine for online retailers, and it is now commonplace for them to include China in their global strategy. There is also a great potential for brand visibility: selling in China means large scale exposure at the heart of the APAC zone.
74% of the population uses a smartphone and are shopping more and more on mobile. So much so that today it represents more than 50% of e-commerce sales. One of the biggest buying platforms is in fact a social media app, WeChat, where users are able to make purchases directly from the app. Big name brands like Christian Dior have already got involved with this, and are gaining an increasing following in the Chinese e-commerce market to respond to the growing appeal for Western products.
What are the differences between the Chinese and European markets?
Buying behaviour is one of the biggest differences. Online shoppers spend more time comparing products (+20% more time before buying), and product pages are much more detailed, with longer descriptions and multiple photos.
The expectations of shoppers are different too. When it comes to price positioning, there is strong competition, so you have to know how to play with promotions, gifts and free delivery. Do not be afraid to reduce prices for certain SKUs. For delivery times, Chinese online shoppers are used to receiving their order within 24 hours and having access to customer service up until 10pm.
In terms of social media, there is no Facebook, nor Twitter, nor Youtube, as they are all banned in China. WeChat is the main application in China to use for community management and generate supplementary sales.
The marketplaces are also completely different. In Europe, a lot of countries favour marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay, but in China, Alibaba and JD.com take the top spots.
Alibaba represents 80% of e-commerce in China with its online e-commerce platforms Taobao and Tmall (Taobao Mall). Intended for C2C, Taobao allows customers to buy and sell goods and services between themselves. The Tmall marketplace is reserved for B2C commerce and now counts for more than 70,000 domestic and international online retailers. To encourage foreign retailers to distribute their product catalogue to the Chinese market, in 2014, Tmall opened Tmall Global to meet the growing interest of Chinese people for quality European products. This marketplace allows Chinese consumers access to international products while giving the opportunity to the retailers to internationalise their sales. When it comes to promoting your products on Tmall Global, this one is done on the same principle as Amazon. You have the opportunity to highlight certain products so that they go back to the top of the search results, or you can even set up display campaigns.
With nearly 170 million active users, JD.com (JingDong) has more than 100,000 stores on its marketplace. Like Alibaba, JingDong launched its cross-border international marketplace JD WorldWide in 2015 to help online retailers develop their business in China and compete with its main rival, Alibaba. The platform thus offers a lot of marketing solutions to retailers, as well as placing a priority on logistics. With a delivery system similar to Amazon, JingDong gives the opportunity to offer same day delivery in the biggest cities in China.
The main challenges faced and how to tackle them
There are, however, many challenges when it comes to selling in China - respecting regulations, language, recognising the characteristics of the local market and buying behaviour, and understanding all operational elements such as logistics, customer service, and payment methods.
If you want to embark on the Asian continent, your success will depend on your ability to adapt. So choose a flexible strategy to adapt to everyday life and soak up the buying behaviour of Chinese shoppers to best meet their expectations.
Also, selling your products to marketplaces like Tmall Global or JD Worldwide is a good compromise for a first experience in the Chinese market. This will provide you with a better knowledge of the regulations, understanding the local market and buying habits, language, logistics, customer service, preferred payment methods, and e-commerce events like Singles Day. The key to breaking down these barriers is to establish strong, local partnerships with people you can trust, and work with a middle man who knows the market and speaks the language. Surround yourself with trusted local intermediary partners who have a good knowledge of the market. By 2020, China is set to become the largest cross-border B2C market in the world.
Any online store owner knows very well the frustration of investing a great deal of time and money into marketing campaigns, optimization and design for attracting new customers, but in the end only managing to get only a small portion of buying customers. That‘s why many online retailers like yourself are searching for a way to reduce the rate of cart abandonment and to increase the profitability of their marketing efforts.
The implementation process takes less than 3 minutes due to a large number of plugins already developed for many of the most popular eCommerce platforms out there. To enumerate just a few: Magento, Shopify, Prestashop, Open Cart, Cs.cart.
Below I will present you the example of Yellow Store.
Yellowstore is a dedicated photography and technology store which focuses heavily on Nikon products. The primary target for this store is photography enthusiasts that use Nikon gear and which focus on high quality products and state of the art photography technology.
This store has started working with Retargeting almost 2 years ago and since then, they have experienced incredible results.
Before using Retargeting, Yellowstore had an average clickthrough rate of 3.64% for their email communications. After implementing retargeting and using the personalized email communication integrated in the platform, they have noticed an increase in performance of almost 22%.
The same can be said of the conversion rate from email. Before using Retargeting, the average conversion rate for this store was around 2.5%. After automatizing the email sending, and personalizing the message for some of the key actions tracked directly on the website, they have noticed a 12.5% increase in the number of conversions from email.
All these stats may seem impressive for now, but I think that this next stat will definitely blow the others out of the water. Retargeting has helped Yellowstore recover over 15% of the total number of lost carts. This means that almost 1 in 5 orders were recovered with the help of Retargeting and all that lost revenue was returned to the business.
You may ask what do I need to do to get Retargeting for my online store?
The answer is very simple. Go to retargeting.biz and sign up for a free 14 day free trial. We already have 12+ plugin developed for eCommerce platforms to make the implementation process as easy as possible. And the best part is that if you want to continue your Retargeting journey you will only need to pay only a small commission only for the sales generated/recovered by Retargeting. The commission tiers start at 3.5% and go as low as 1%.
So what are you waiting for? Start your Retargeting journey for free, today!
Author: Andrei Neagu, Retargeting.biz
Apple regularly curates and promotes high quality apps in the App Store. Being featured in the front page or “Shopping” category of the App Store can have tremendous impact on your mobile success. Featured apps receive constant organic traffic and a significant App Store Ranking boost, which also increase your marketing efficiency. There is no magic trick for getting featured, you simply need to have a great app. However, the following points summarize what Apple cares about most, and what you can do to increase your chances of being on top of the App Store all the time.
1. The app (and all parts of it) must simply work.
This point seems self-explanatory, but the standards for a quality app are quite high and achieving them is not straightforward. For example, your app should never crash. On iOS, 100% crash-free user rate can be achieved. On Android, you should aim for higher than 99% crash free users or sessions. Also, all promised functionality should be available and easily usable. Apps that don’t fulfill these criteria are never featured, and sometimes completely rejected / removed from the App Store. Note that Apple has access to your and all your competitors’ apps’ technical performance data, unless the end user has opted out.
You should constantly monitor and improve your app’s stability and usability, test all use case scenarios and improve user flow. Prepare for upcoming devices or iOS updates before they become public.
2. Optimize for new devices and technology
Apple and Google are currently the main drivers of mobile technology, owning the major platforms. They constantly release new design guidelines and hardware / software capabilities to improve user experience. However, both rely on mobile app developers to make use of the new functions in their apps. For example, apps that use iOS widgets, make use of “Force Touch” or have an Apple Watch counterpart are simply favored by Apple, because they make the user happy to own an iDevice and create lock-in effects.
This effect is so strong, that Apple creates dedicated sections or promotion lists for every major release. Make sure that your apps are ready and optimized for new technologies.
3. Improve your ratings & reviews
High ratings and positive comments are not only the main drivers for an app to be featured, but they also affect your App Store Ranking drastically. However, improving app ratings requires a more holistic approach, because users don’t just rate your software quality, they rate their overall satisfaction with the app, including product quality, delivery speed and customer service.
You should always,
4. Make your app listing stand out
Being featured on the main page creates a direct link to your app download page. Users will still check out your app description, screenshots and user reviews before making the decision to download your app. Improving your app listing with beautiful and clear information drives up App Store conversion rates, which Apple closely tracks. A low-converting app listing page will not utilize the power of being featured to its full extent, hence Apple will not prefer to feature the app.
When Apple decides to feature your app, you will receive an e-mail requesting specific promotion assets. Even before that happens, you should spend enough time to create an attractive download page, which will convince all users who made the effort to reach that page to download your app. App Store Conversion Optimization is very important even without being featured, because all your app downloads come through the app listing page at the end.
Try to use Apple products in the promotional material. This is compliant with App Store Guidelines and showcasing the latest beautiful Apple devices in your creatives can improve your chances while Apple is choosing which apps to promote.
5. Support with your own marketing
Don’t just rely on Apple to promote your app. Periods where your app is already getting a lot of organic traffic are the best times to ramp up your inorganic installs as well. With proper marketing support, your app can quickly climb to the top of the shopping category and stay there for longer. If Apple thinks that featuring your app was a success story that satisfied App Store users, your app can be easily featured again or for an indefinite period in its category headlines. Be aware of the immense value generated by getting featured, and be ready to do your part on making the most of it.
About the Author
Murat Ögat is the Managing Partner of Appkunft. Appkunft is a mobile app development agency based in Istanbul and Berlin, which specializes in mobile commerce. Appkunft produces and maintains mobile apps of Turkey’s leading fashion e-commerce brands like Morhipo, Trendyol, 1V1Y.com and more, with over 2M monthly active mobile shoppers. Morhipo iPhone and iPad apps have been selected by Apple Turkey to be installed on all devices in Turkish Apple retail stores, setting the bar for the highest quality possible in Turkish mobile commerce. Apps produced by Appkunft are regularly featured in different sections of the App Store.