Guest Column: Cloud commerce fundamentals
By Charlie Born, vice president of marketing at Plimus
The ecommerce landscape is quickly transforming as customer expectations evolve and new forms of digital goods and services grow in market share. Much of this transformation is happening with software-as-a-service (SaaS) and or cloud e-businesses that are taking over from traditional software in venture and equity firm investments. These fast-growth companies need to ‘take charge’ of their business and assume full control of selling digital goods and services online, yet do this in a cost-effective way. By adding the growing market popularity of the social web, it becomes even more important to reach the correct prospects with the correct offers and make the online shopping experience as frictionless as possible. Converting shoppers into paying customers is a big challenge; however, creating repeat buyers is truly a science.
It’s important to note that this monetization technique is not a core skill for many early-stage startups. Nevertheless, selling online is fundamental to long-term growth and success. A common core value of today’s startups is simply to keep costs at a minimum. It’s quite elementary yet advanced thinking all in one. If you can staff minimally, find outside resources to do the work and pay ‘outside’ expense dollars, instead of paying salary and benefits for a larger internal staff, the payoff goes right to your bottom line. All resources are focused on your value. This really gets at core competency issues of an online startup.
Too often, startups spend their marketing dollars on building a great website, full of bells and whistles. However, online commerce is more than just about the aesthetics of your site. Online commerce is about reaching your audiences where they want to be reached, making the shopping experience seamless and personalized for each buyer. Considering that 95 percent of the world’s population resides outside the United States, you need to be ready to sell and attract customers globally.
While this may sound daunting for a startup, there are a few key issues to plan for in advance of deployment:
Language: If you are selling to an English-speaking customer base, then you’re good to go. But, if you’re planning to expand your business internationally, you’re going to have to adopt key native languages.
E-Commerce Platform: If you want success, you need to have an appropriate online ecommerce platform that can automatically detect who your visitors are and where they are located. This ecommerce system will trigger automatic adjustments that are specifically tailored to the visitor concerning the international payment process (including a currency converter), tax, value added tax (VAT) and even preferred payment methods available for that geography.
Recent studies have indicated that up to 75 percent of shopping carts are abandoned and sales never closed. To avoid this, you will need to learn how to design checkout processes and keep them simple and effective. You do not want to lose customers because of a long and complex checkout process. Therefore, by keeping the payment process short and making sure checkout pages load quickly are key components to success.
Website features and functions such as language translation, ecommerce platform and good customer service matter to international shoppers and will help startups turn a profit quickly The ultimate goal is to drive online global sales for your business and at the same time make it easy for shoppers to browse, buy and return to your website often.
Founded in 2001, Plimus is headquartered in California’s Silicon Valley. They have close to a decade’s worth of proven experience in the ecommerce and payment fields and have consistently demonstrated high growth. They are regarded as one of the most innovative and effective business platforms in the world for online sales of digital products and services.
Charlie is responsible for marketing strategy, execution including branding and corporate communications. He brings to Plimus more than 25 years of systems implementation and marketing experience in executive positions with startups and billion-dollar organizations alike, including NICE Systems, Amdocs, Clarify, Nortel and Compaq.