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Is free shipping a big lie?

Is free shipping a big lie?



One of the first lessons learned about e-commerce is that consumers are not willing at all to pay for receiving the products they buy. Free shipments are one of the reasons why consumers decide to stay with one e-commerce firm and not another one of the causes that explain the success of one company over another. Consumers have begun to demand that the things they receive are received for free and have made shipments one of the key pieces of the e-commerce puzzle.

In part, it has been the fault of the e-commerce companies themselves that, from the beginning, have used the resource of receiving product at the door of the house at no cost as one of the great marketing elements.

Although consumers have taken for granted that shipments should always be free of charge and that brands should not charge them for any reason, the truth is that (and it is actually logical) shipments are never free. Making things come from the company that is selling them to the door of our house has a cost, a cost that someone has to pay and assume at some point. Are e-commerce free shipments one of the big lies or one of the great half-truths of consumption in recent times?

As pointed out in an analysis of FastCompany, free shipments in the e-commerce are, on one hand, one of the great lies that they sell them to the consumers in the times of the network and, on the other, one of the questions that do e-commerce firms of virtually all sizes are living in more than complicated times. Consumers have assumed that shipments have become one of the elements they receive, anyway, as a courtesy of online stores, when the truth is that someone is paying them at some point and often the companies themselves are doing it. Shipments are already included in the price of the products in many occasions or reach the consumer via payment systems at the flat rate (as with Amazon's premium shipping format).

And, when the consumer does not pay, the company and its investors are paying, which has to assume a new operating cost that will weigh their accounts and that will make their strategy have to be much more refined. As one company director tells the magazine, the cost of sending the products to the door of the consumer's home is three times greater than sending them to the store.

A big lost for small firms

The big losers in this race are the small online stores, which have much less muscle than the giants of e-commerce. Its volume of sales is much lower, which makes recovering costs much more difficult, and its weight in establishing logistics strategies is also much smaller.

However, and although they are the big losers, things are not so easy for the big ones, they also have to fine tune and a lot, to reduce the impact of that cost and they have to create formulas to recover them. The fact that signatures like Amazon are always taking out premium formats (such as Amazon Pantry, where you can receive the purchase at home but with an added cost) is just a form to find new ways of financing something which is draining their accounts. Whether these companies are trying to create logistic arms or be much more cost-efficient in deliveries is another of the symptoms that point in this direction.
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Julio Alfonzo
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What is the profile of the users who return their purchases?

What is the profile of the users who return their purchases?



Any user who makes an online purchase is assisted by the right of desist. This right covers, in principle, all consumers of eCommerce and gives them the option to return the purchased product and obtain a refund of the money within 14 days after receiving the product. This deadline can be extended, and in most cases, suppliers give up to 30 days of margin for this. Others even reach 100.

The merchant is not only obligated to offer the money back, but to ensure this right is a very favored point facing the customers. The vast majority of users make good use of this option, but what about those who discard by default and take advantage of this possibility?

So, we have three stereotypes of buyers who "give back too much" and from whom all eCommerce tries to flee:


The wardrobe buyer. Why buy clothes if you can borrow? Clothing or any other object. Let's take the example of an appliance. A major sporting event is coming up as the World Cup and television is too small, what does this type of buyer do? He gets a new television, uses it to watch the competition, and when he finishes, he returns it and recovers the money invested. The type of wardrobe buyer sees online merchants as dispensing machines for items that will never run out of stock. This practice is theoretically not permitted, but generally difficult to prove.


The compulsive buyer. Buying on credit is very comfortable for the customer and can give way for many to buy more than their pocket can really afford. The psychological barrier that inhibits when making returns is much lower than in physical stores, since eCommerce does not have to be justified before any dependent when dozens of articles are returned at a time.


The demanding buyer. In this group we include users who, if they buy a blouse, order on the web at least four different sizes, or buy the same model of shoes in three different colors, and add to the cart, in addition, 20 accessories. This type of customer, uses his own floor as if it were the tester of a physical store. Buy the same in various sizes and colors to try and then change it. This practice, although perfectly legal, harms the merchant as it must shed many items that in reality will not be acquired by anyone.


Is it expensive for eCommerce?

What is sometimes free for the consumer, can be a cost to the merchant since, in many cases, they take care of the shipping costs. Approximately, it is estimated that only a quarter of all products that have been returned can be sold again at the same price. To that we should add the expense of time and personnel.

It is true that most of these practices are perfectly legal and it is difficult to dodge such buyers. As advice, a good way to avoid them, it could be to discount the following order to those buyers who have retained all items without returning any after 5 purchases.

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Julio Alfonzo
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Corporate communication: letting the consumer take control

Corporate communication: letting the consumer take control



Technological democratization has changed the order of factors and, now, that brand that does not attend in a personalized way to its client, is condemned to ostracism. If you want to have a powerful brand, what you need to do is to tell stories and let the consumer take control.

A new dictatorship rules in corporate communication, whose messages has the virtue (or defect) of being preached in 140 characters. Not one more. This is an effect of the great revolution that has taken place in recent years, from broadcasters or traditional media (TV, radio, press) to the broadband empire or the digital environment.

Yes, the world has changed and companies must adapt to a reality where the consumer, today, is the absolute protagonist; which means that if a company wants good numbers, it requires incorporating communication strategies 3.0 (Social Video, E-Commerce, Augmented Reality?), that goes beyond social networks and that revolve around the existence of content as an element of communication and brand generation.

Certainly, for some years now, some marketing departments have begun to implement new practices to assimilate change, but the adoption of a culture in which mass markets no longer exists, and therefore customers have left being seen as a source of income and now have become a power of prescription and a source of information. Message between lines: the construction of brands through traditional marketing has lost effectiveness, so new tools and 360º strategies that incorporates the consumers in the process are needed.

This change, undoubtedly, is based on technological development, and above all, on the "democratization" of access to it. Today, an African child with a smartphone has more information in his his hands than the President of the United States, 15 years ago. The world is facing more advanced technology than NASA had when it put a man on the moon, more than 40 years ago.

Companies, and their marketing areas, face a "perfect storm" that must be overcome through a maxim: to understand that the process of adaptation leads to errors, but the future is to risk and support an entrepreneurial approach. Where to start? To build bridges between the old and the new world.

This is translating into the enrichment of both, and the diversification and specification of supply. Currently, offering variety is key to the online experience, but relevancy could be the priority in the future. Yes, offering a product that is relevant to a particular customer can become the best source of trust and loyalty in a brand.

The new, more competitive, more global reality implies building and maintaining a closer relationship with all customers, to differentiate themselves from competitors by developing strategies in which brand content and giving voice to the consumer are key pieces. So, the future is in the proper management of the interaction with the user.

The future of any brand in the current environment passes through brand content, which serves as a tool for building segmented audiences; as well as a generator of trust, facilitator of interaction and element that influences the purchase decision.

In short, content allows brands to present their identity, values, personality, but also connect with the consumer in a "non-advertising" way to integrate it into the strategy of communication and brand creation.

In a few words, today more than ever, telling stories and be in permanent contact with the consumer it should be prioritized, understanding the consumer as a participant, creator and issuer of communication and brand values.
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Julio Alfonzo
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Ecommerce is completely changing our consumption schedules

Ecommerce is completely changing our consumption schedules




Internet does not have a schedule: everything is open 24 hours a day during all days of the week, whether it is a holiday, or at night or an hour too early in the morning. There is not a moment of rest and there are no moments when you can close for vacations. The Internet is an environment that is always open, always available and where things are done when you feel like it or when you feel you need it. And this has changed the dynamics of access to information, relationships and, of course, consumption. The network has eliminated the opening hours and has made the stores have become an always active and always open element.

Ecommerce does not have schedules and consumers can buy their products at any time. And this has already had an impact on what is done on a recurring basis and the customs of consumers.

Consumers no longer buy with store hours. Shopping has spread throughout the day and, especially, at night. The most salient finding of the study on buying habits and the timing of these transactions is the fact that the purchase has increased at midnight.

During the BlackFriday, in fact, the peak of conversions was at 1 A.M., with a peak traffic at 12 A.M. The explanation may be logical, since consumers want to be the first to access the offers and these appear just at that time.

But, on the other hand, the hours of greater activity for the purchases are between the 8 and the 9 of the morning, demonstrating that the hours of online purchases are mutating and that no longer it is depended on that traditional moment in which the whole world It seemed like he was going to buy. Buyers are more and more early risers and brands will have to learn to serve the products and offers in those first hours if they want to reach the consumer.

Sales moments are changing

Likewise, brands also have to be aware that the shopping moments and the scenario of the same are changing. Consumers no longer put temporary barriers to buying online and no longer limit their buying moments. Until recently, Christmas gifts had a clear agenda.

Consumers bought on the internet when there was time for deliveries (which made Christmas gifts bought online long before Christmas) and left for the physical stores last-minute purchases. That is no longer the case: consumers have accepted the new online formats and click and collect services and the fact that delivery times are getting shorter (there are next day delivery services) make consumers Buy more and more online at the edge of the day. In fact, the final stretch at Christmas has been one of the busiest periods.

What brands should take into account

This should mark a turning point for brands, who will have to learn how to treat consumers differently and who will have to be able to understand that for them now there are no buying times and there are no schedules. Above all, brands will have to strive to make two of the key elements of ecommerce go hand in hand with this new reality. Customer service and delivery services will have to assume that consumers are less and less limited by schedules.

As far as customer service is concerned, companies have to offer certain minimums. Consumers still understand that brands do have schedules, even if they do not, and that they have to be able to provide clear information about when their workers are available and at what times the complaints and issues will be handled. Even so, and given that consumers are more and more 24 hours, the brands will have to end up working because they are also 24 hours more.

When it comes to deliveries, consumers are increasingly interested in the instant, as evidenced by the fact that they do not wait the next day to buy. They know that the products will not be at midnight at home, but they hope they will not have to wait long for them. The brands will have to be able to reduce even more their margins of delivery.
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Julio Alfonzo
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Capital sins in the information of the online stores and how to solve them

Capital sins in the information of the online stores and how to solve them




The lack of information or provide contradictory documentation on shipping costs or exceptions that are not admissible to the right of withdrawal are just some of the most common faults that can be found when buying online. 

Information not available or contradictory about the shipping costs.

Often online retailers are missing information on shipping options. In many cases users find that the expenses indicated previously do not match the calculated actual expenses of the final shipment. It should be added to this situation that information on shipping costs is often incomplete: not all countries to which the products are supplied are listed, missing details and weights of the product groups and have not been registered possible reimbursement expenses that may arise.

How to solve it?

Before the customer places a product in the shopping list, he must be able to calculate the shipping costs, including additional costs, such as a shipment per carrier. If the shipping costs have been classified by weight, the weight of the shipment must be indicated on all pages with the possibility of direct ordering. In addition, the shipping costs that appear in the overview and the expenses that appear in the final order, must be the same.

Information not available or contradictory about delivery times and methods of payment.

From Trusted Shops we have discovered that in many product pages there is a lack of partial information on delivery times. What's more, different pages, such as product pages, general sales conditions, frequently asked questions, customer information or the ordering process, there is often a lot of information about the supplier that differs.

How to solve it?

To avoid a confusing mix of contradictory information, online merchants should only provide delivery time information on the relevant product pages, but in this case as accurate as possible. It is precisely in the general sales conditions that specific information on deadlines should be avoided. On the one hand, the customer expects in the first place indications about the delivery time of the product itself. On the other hand, the maintenance of the website is minimized when you only have to update once the delivery times.

Keep in mind that the information on payment methods is a potential improvement: PayPal, credit card or purchase on account? The list of final payment methods in online stores does not always match the one shown during the purchase process. If the merchant advertises on the main page of the store the possibility of payment by credit card, you must also offer a credit card section for payment transactions.

Lack of information regarding the use of data in the confidentiality policy

What about customer data that is collected through an online store? In examining the statements on the confidentiality policy, we have found that most of the documentation is incomplete. On a number of occasions, in the declarations about the confidentiality policy, it can be read that the customer data only serve for the processing of the contract of sale. The error comes when you use this data to send, for example, a newsletter. The e-mail address may be used for marketing purposes and for promotional purposes only if the customer has given his express consent, and this should be made clear in the confidentiality statement. To all this must be added other factors, such as information about cookies.

How to implement it?

It is recommended to first check the specific purposes for which personal data are collected in the store and the use made of these. Once they have been verified, they can be transparently informed in the declaration of confidentiality.

Erroneous information on the right of withdrawal

Information that is not updated or incomplete is constantly displayed in online stores on the right of withdrawal, especially regarding the rules on the assumption of shipping costs.

What is there to do?

Instead of setting their own rules, shop owners should use the current model of the General Consumer and Refund Policy, including the withdrawal form template.
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Julio Alfonzo
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Essential keys to creating an online store where consumers want to buy (part 2)

Essential keys to creating an online store where consumers want to buy (part 2)




Make buying online a differential experience to buy in store

A few years ago, all that mattered when buying online was that the price offered by the products was lower than that of the physical stores. Consumers based their interest in the online market in the fact that what they were going to find would be cheaper than what they found in stores as always. The price continues to be a differential element to buy on the internet, but it is not the only one that matters and is not the only one that pushes the consumer to the arms of the network. Online stores have to create a unique, quality experience that sets them apart from physical stores to attract consumers' attention.

Let's follow the example of online furniture stores. How can you create a completely differentiating experience that makes consumers come to the network to get the products? Brands can draw on many elements that can create a potential for purchases that is even superior to that of physical stores. Online platforms often allow more precise and concrete searches of what can allow a physical store, allowing filtering by materials or shapes and direct the purchase to products much closer to what the consumer has in mind. In addition, they can play with all the elements that the internet contributes, such as offering a layer of information through content marketing or allowing play with the latest technological innovations to find the desired furniture, which become a bonus that an offline store Can not offer at the time of purchase.

In short, online stores have to study their consumers, get to know them and analyze what they need and what they expect to offer a shopping experience that fits these realities and allows them to match their expectations. Buying on the internet should not be simply something that is done fast or for economic reasons. It should be something that is done, as it is also done outside the network, to enjoy the purchase.

Provide good customer service

And finally, and very much in line with creating a unique and differential shopping experience, online stores should be concerned with caring for and pampering customer service. If in a physical store offering a quality customer service experience is fundamental, more is a virtual store. The consumer does not see any interlocutor and is alone during the whole process. For much information offered by the web, however simple things may be, the buyer will not cross at any time with a human interlocutor.

Therefore, brands must take care of all the elements in which the consumer can contact the store or store that connects with them in a tangible way. From the packaging of product delivery, which will become a letter of introduction, to interactions in case of problems in the process of purchase or delivery, brands must monitor the whole process and pamper the relationship they can establish with their consumers.
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Julio Alfonzo
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Clear and detailed product information, crucial for consumers when it comes to buying online

Clear and detailed product information, crucial for consumers when it comes to buying online




When a consumer is looking for a particular product over the Internet, what is it that takes you to click on the "buy" button? Is it a low price? Very positive ratings? Product images and videos? Detailed information about it?

In a context in which the buyer is increasingly demanding, and actively seeks to compare different items to find the one that offers the best value for money, all these factors are decisive. But according to a new Salsify report, detailed and correct information outweighs all others.

It is specified that 90% of consumers already buy online and that almost all (88%) expect the information they find about the product to be rigorous, complete and varied before making a decision about the purchase. Specifically, and as we said before, a good description is the most important when deciding whether to buy or not, over other issues - also key - as the reviews or the price that are second and third place.

As Salsify explains, "Consumers are very naturally aware of the price. But when it comes to making a decision, research shows that powerful quality information is a critical factor that can lead to the purchase."

The information should not only be rigorous and complete, but also, for 66% of the respondents, must include at least three photos of the product. Eighty-two percent of consumers also claim to be able to read at least three reviews.

On the other hand, among the millennials - who buy the most online - detailed information was even more important and this group was 40% more likely to ensure that the content on the article was essential. On the other hand, and of course, if we take into account that young people are the most involved in social networks, it is also these consumers that most often (up to 60% more than other groups) bought a product based on the update On social platforms of a friend and were also more likely to buy an article based on photos uploaded by other consumers. Millennials also rated the reviews and opinions of other customers as the most important factor in 50% more chances.

Articles with good descriptions get up to 30% more conversions

This study corroborates the results of another previous report by Shotfarm, which also emphasized the importance of detailed and complete information possible when buying online. It was shown that 42% of the respondents had returned some product because it did not correspond to what they expected - or what seemed to be described on the web - something that represents a cost for the brand itself and, above all, a major disappointment and annoyance for the customer.

And since all consumers want to save that from having to do all the management to return a product, priority is given to articles with complete information, which achieve a conversion rate 30% higher than the average. In fact, 78% of these respondents asserted that content quality is key when making purchasing decisions.

In addition, while product information is always important, consumers find it even more relevant when making purchasing decisions on certain sectors, such as electronics, decoration, fashion or food. On the other hand, in office, sports or pet articles, users are not as demanding about the level of information (although a complete content is always advantageous regardless of the item to be sold).
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Julio Alfonzo
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