How Online Retailers Can Tackle Common Customer Fears

March 23rd, 2015

It’s no secret that online shopping has become a preferred method for many consumers and businesses wishing to exercise their buying power.

Just to give you an idea of how big eCommerce has become, it’s expected to grow by 20% this year to $1.5 trillion globally (Selz Blog). In addition to this, 71% of shoppers believe they will get a better deal online than in stores (Selz Blog). Overall, almost 80% of the online population has used the internet to purchase something (Selz Blog).

For online retailers, this is a massive opportunity!

However, here’s another crazy number for you…

Did you know that almost $4 trillion worth of online sales will be abandoned in their online carts this year? (Business Insider).

So the question remains: How do online retailers recover those [potentially] lost sales and help consumers overcome their purchasing fears?

We have provided a list of common consumer fears when using shopping online and how online retailers can overcome them.

Fear: ”Is my financial information secure?”

Solution: Although eCommerce has become a trusted shopping method in North America, this is still a common fear for consumers.  As a retailer it’s your job to ease these fears by portraying an image of security and legitimacy.

First, ensure you are using trusted and proven payment gateway such as PayPal, Stripe or Authorize.Net. Display trusted payment method logos so your customer can recognize them.

Second, have it stated that you have and utilize trusted security software. One little logo will go a long way to ease your customer’s fear of giving you their credit card information. McAfee is a common one that a lot of online retailers use.

Fear: “Will I even like this product?”

Solution: One of the challenges an eCommerce store, is that there is no physical product that the customer can see, touch, or test. The customer is taking your word on whether they will benefit from the product or not. Consumers need to know that they are going to benefit from the product they purchase; this is why reviews are crucial. A testimonial goes a long way. They’re an honest, inexpensive and effective method to encourage your customer to complete the transaction.

Another way to overcome this fear is to have a crystal clear return policy. Customer’s like to have a “back button” just in case they start to feel a bit of buyer’s remorse. Have it clearly stated at check out to ensure they see it when this fear might creep up on them.

Fear: “This checkout looks much different than the rest of the site, is it legitimate?”

Solution: Most eCommerce platforms will offer retailers the option to style their checkout so it is consistent with the rest of the site. This is crucial, because your customers don’t want to feel as if they are leaving the site when they go to finalize their purchase. Not only will this feel suspicious, but it looks like a scam.

Take the time, and make the investment to style your store and checkout similarly. This creates a seamless customer path with no red flags and enables consumers to feel comfortable throughout the shopping process.

Fear: “I have questions and need answers!”

Solution: As much as people love the instant nature of online shopping, they still appreciate a personal touch when they have questions. A great way to overcome this fear is to have a way for them get their answers.

One way of doing this is to create an FAQ or Knowledge base section for your customer. Over time, there may be customer questions you hear often. If this is the case, have them available to your customers in a common area on your site. This allows for them to find the answers on their own.

Another option, if you have the resources to sustain it, is an instant chat feature. This allows for a live response for your customers. We live in an instant world where people expect an instant response. Having chat integrated gives your customer peace of mind knowing that they can get their questions answered when they have them.

In the end, it’s all about facing these consumer fears and delivering a transparent and comfortable shopping environment. Customers need to know that you’re on their side and will be through each phase of the purchasing process. It may be a while before these customer fears disappear, thus it’s important that online retailers act now.

kelly eCommerce, eCommerce Integration , , , ,

EDI Integration in Action!

March 20th, 2015

Recently, the eBridge team had an interesting encounter at our headquarters in Burlington, Ontario that we wanted to share with you. This just goes to show how small the world really is.

We decided a couple of weeks ago that we needed to re-carpet the stairs in our office. Having made the decision, we did what many would do in that situation; we called our local Home Depot to price out the work that needed to be done.

After making a purchase, Home Depot then assigned the work to their service partner National Installs who happens to be one of our valued customers!

Meet Mike – our friend over at National Installs who helped us out the other day with our stairs

From this transaction, we were able to see one of our own integrations in action! Using the order number from our Home Depot order we were able to view the first stage of the integration process via the eBridge Connections ePortal (shown below). In this image, you can see that our software has retrieved the specific purchase order document (EDI 850) that Home Depot issued to National Installs. This part of the integration process is fully automated and happens within minutes of the order being processed by Home Depot.

To finalize the process, data from the purchase order was then transformed into a readable format by eBridge Connections and  integrated into National Install’s QuickBooks accounting system. This is also fully automated, resulting in an efficient and accurate order process.

At eBridge Connections, we take pride in how effective and reliable our solutions are. It was a great opportunity for us to see it in action and we hope that this example provides a solid case for businesses evaluating an integration solution.

kelly EDI - Our Customers Trading Partner Series, EDI Integration , , , ,

Introducing our Turnkey EDI integration for Sage 300 ERP

March 18th, 2015

Sage 300 ERP (and ACCPAC) users rejoice – integrated EDI with the largest trading partner network is now possible! eBridge Connections is pleased to announce that we have partnered with SPS Commerce to develop and launch an integrated EDI solution for Sage 300.

The aforementioned solution is a cloud-based, turnkey integration product that enables Sage 300-powered businesses to access the over 60,000 EDI trading partners that make up the SPS Commerce Universal Network. Prior to launch, eBridge Connections was required to complete SPS Commerce’s rigorous development, testing and certification process to ensure that the end product is a reusable solution that customers can rely on.

The key benefit of this solution is that it eliminates the need for building individual point-to-point connections with each trading partner. With one connection, businesses running Sage 300 will be able to exchange EDI documents with an almost unlimited number of retailers, manufacturers, suppliers, 3PLs and more. As a result, organizations will save considerable time and financial resources, while achieving full EDI compliance – leading to greater opportunities for business growth.

Some additional benefits of the solution are:
- No complexity (when compared to traditional EDI)
- No EDI software (see bullet above)
- Quick deployment
- Fixed pricing
- Cloud-based – no on premise software required

To learn more about this exciting new product for Sage 300 ERP contact us here.

Matt Train EDI Integration , , , ,

Bringing Universal Accounting Integration to the Shopify Community

March 11th, 2015

Here at eBridge Connections, we aim to make business processes easier. We believe our new Shopify app does just that. The app will allow merchants to get a taste of what we can offer!

With this first generation app, users will get a sneak peak of our universal accounting integration platform for Shopify. It automates the retrieval of orders from any Shopify storefront and brings them into our ePortal data management tool.

Shopify storefront

Retrieve Shopify Orders in Minutes!

After installing the eBridge Connections app, merchants will be able to log into their ePortal account and within 15 minutes, they will be able to view all of their Shopify orders with a Last Updated Date of 5 days or less.


eBridge Shopify App User Interface

eBridge Shopify App User Interface

Connect Shopify to any Accounting or ERP Package

Following the installation of the eBridge Connections app, Shopify merchants choose to connect their storefront with their accounting or ERP package using our integration platform. eBridge Connections powers Shopify integration with the leading ERP and accounting packages such as Microsoft Dynamics AX, GP, NAV & SL, Sage 100, 300 & 500, NetSuite, SAP Business One, Epicor Enterprise and many others.

Streamline Item, Order and Customer Data Processing

With an end-to-end integration solution in place, merchants will be able to eliminate their labour-intensive data entry processes and reduce costly mistakes. The eBridge Connections integration platform facilitates automated, bi-directional data exchange between business platforms, over numerous touch points including:

  • Orders
  • Customer information
  • Inventory
  • Shipment tracking
  • Product information

For further information on the app, see our latest press release, or visit the Shopify app store.

kelly eCommerce Integration , , ,

Meet us at Microsoft Convergence 2015!

March 6th, 2015

Convergence is Microsoft’s annual event for the Dynamics community and we are proud to announce that we will be one of the many exhibitors this year in Atlanta. We’re excited to be among the best of the best in Dynamics business solutions and to have the opportunity to share some of the exciting developments we’ve been working on!

Here’s who you’ll meet!

Dave Malda, VP of Sales

“I’m looking forward to fostering my existing relationships and building new ones at Convergence.”


Steve Morgante, Senior Account Manager

“ I’m excited about the GP 2015 conversations and sharing information on our latest EOTC technology.”

Cedric Coutinho, Account Manager

“Looking forward to developing and educating new business partners on the eBridge integration solution.”

Why you need to visit Booth #7

Dynamics VARs End user
We have some exciting updates to share with you regarding the recent changes to our partner program. Talk to us about the key elements of the program, including

  • Opportunities for revenue sharing
  • On-going technical pre-sales support
  • Inclusion on our e-mail newsletter that reaches a database of 14000
  • Listing in partner directory

We can help you connect Dynamics back office solution with your eCommerce platform, EDI trading partners, CRM application and more. We’ve integrated thousands of data touch points and have over 20 years of integration experience.

Come by our booth and learn about how we can help streamline your item, order and customer processes, and reduce your total cost of Dynamics ownership.

Stop by and talk to any of eBridge reps. Dave, Steve and Cedric are looking forward to meeting you. Even if it is to discuss how bad our beloved Maple Leafs are this year (#leafsnation)!

Set up a meeting with eBridge Connections at Microsoft Convergence.

kelly Events , , ,

Our Unbiased Comparison of Hosted eCommerce Platforms: Shopify, Volusion & Bigcommerce

February 3rd, 2015

There are numerous eCommerce platforms out there that can help merchants create an appealing online storefront, and provide consumers with an outstanding shopping experience. eCommerce platforms are generally fall into 1 of the following groups: hosted or self-hosted solutions. In this post we look at the most popular hosted platforms – Shopify, Volusion, and Bigcommerce.

At eBridge Connections, we believe that all three are great platforms, with each possessing its own unique characteristics. That being said, I will discuss the distinctive features of each platform from an unbiased point of view.

Bigcommerce

Features

Bigcommerce is a fairly easy platform to utilize when setting up an online store. It’s a fully loaded eCommerce platform consisting of a wide variety of features that help you create an attractive storefront. As with many platforms, it provides several search engine optimization (SEO) tools, such as page titles, meta descriptions, search engine friendly URLS, sitemap submission with Google and Bing, to help make your storefront visible and accessible on the web.

This platform provides various built-in marketing tools, such as discount/coupon codes, social media integration, newsletters, automatically generated customer lists and an abandoned cart saver, which can help attract potential customers to your store and drive sales. Additionally, Bigcommerce offers product reviews, product recommendations, wish lists and product comparisons, which aid in increasing conversions by turning store visitors into buyers.

What’s more, you can build your online store however you like! Bigcommerce has a large collection of themes that you can choose from. If you are a beginner, you can utilize the point and click design tool to change the layout and functionality of your store. For those who are more advanced, the eCommerce platform has customizable CSS/HTML that you can use to perfect your webstore to suit your needs.

As well, the platform provides it users with Bigcommerce University, where they have access to tips and step-by-step tutorials for running a successful online store.

Pricing

Bigcommerce charges a monthly fee, depending upon what type of plan – Silver, Gold and Platinum – you invest in. The Silver plan is the cheapest at $29.95 per month and offers all the basic necessities that are required to launch your storefront. The Gold plan – the most popular – charges a monthly fee of $79.95 and offers additional marketing tools, such as loyalty marketing, Omni-channel sales and abandoned cart saver. As well, there are no transaction fees and you get unlimited storage and bandwidth. Last but not least, the platinum plan charges a monthly fee of $199.95 and provides the same features as the gold plan, while adding in Google trusted stores automation,- a certified badge that helps drive traffic, build trust and improve conversion with excellent customer service- data migration, one-on-one expert setup and troubleshooting.

If you wish to try out the eCommerce platform before making the big investment, Bigcommerce also provides a 15-day free trial.

Volusion

Features

Having similar features as Bigcommerce, Volusion is a less expensive yet fully loaded eCommerce platform. It offers over one hundred ready-made templates, free and paid, that help in designing an appealing storefront. If you’re looking for something customizable, Volusion also allows you to create your own storefront design with full access to HTML and CSS files.

The Easy Editor tool is a great feature that allows you to make design or content changes easily without any coding. It’s an easy to use tool if you are creating an eCommerce storefront for the first time or even if you are highly advanced. It saves you time and effort by not having to update your code every time you need to edit content.

A very popular feature offered by Volusion is the Deal of the Day and the Free Slideshow. The Deal of the Day creates a sense of urgency with your customers by offering them daily deals on your website, which immediately increases revenue. The free slideshow highlights the top discounts and best-selling products provided on your website directly on your homepage.

Additionally, Volusion features a one-page checkout tool that has the ability to create custom checkout fields, making it easier to convert shoppers into buyers.

Pricing

Similar to Bigcommerce, Volusion has four monthly plans – Mini, Plus, Pro, and Premium – which you can choose from. The low-priced mini plan charges a fee of $15 per month and includes unlimited storage, no transaction fees, 100 products, and other basic add-ons, such as online supports, social media tools, Facebook store, and many others. On the other side of the spectrum, the premium plan charges a monthly fee of $135 and offers unlimited storage, no transaction fees, unlimited products and additional add-ons, such as priority support, a dedicated account manager and unlimited products.

Just like Bigcommerce, Volusion provides a 14-day free trial to those interested in testing the platform to see if it suits their needs.

Shopify

Features

In addition to Bigcommerce and Volusion, Shopify possesses some of the same characteristics. It has over a hundred different professional themes that you can select for your storefront. Similarly, it allows you to customize every aspect of your website and checkout with full access to HTML and CSS files of your store.

Shopify has an app – Shopify Mobile –  that allows you to manage your inventory and fulfill orders right from your mobile device, making it convenient when you’re on the go. As well, Shopify Mobile includes a built-in mobile commerce shopping cart, allowing your customers to browse and purchase products from any mobile device or tablet from anywhere!

Shopify provides you with a full blogging platform with great features where you can publish and categorize articles, create look books of your products and encourage discussion on your blog. This helps in promoting your storefront through the use of relevant content to your buyers.

Pricing

Shopify offers three different monthly plans – Basic, Professional, and Unlimited. The basic plan charges a monthly fee of $29 and includes features such as 1 GB of file storage, unlimited products, 24/7 support, discount code engine, a free Shopify card reader and many others. The unlimited plan charges a fee of $179/month and includes features offered in the Basic and Professional plans with a few add-ons, such as unlimited storage, advanced report builder, and real-time carrier shipping. If you are looking for a very basic plan, Shopify also offers a starter plan for just $14/month. With this plan, you get limited features that allow you to upload up to 25 products, 1 GB file storage, unlimited bandwidth, no transaction fees, if you use Shopify Payments, chat and email support.

Similar to the other eCommerce platforms, Shopify provides a 14 day free trial to prospective users, allowing them to evaluate the platform before making the purchase.

Integration

The integration capabilities are similar for all three of the eCommerce platforms. They can integrate with several marketing and store management applications, such as Facebook, Help Scout, MailChimp, and others.  Additionally, using an integration provider such as eBridge Connections, you can integrate Bigcommerce, Volusion and Shopify with your accounting/ERP system – for example MS Dynamics, NetSuite, Sage, SAP, and several others.

What type of business should use these platforms?

The eCommerce platforms mentioned are targeted towards small to mid-size businesses that are in search of a simple, easy to use eCommerce platform that helps them through the process of building a storefront for their business from beginning to end.

All three eCommerce platforms – Bigcommerce, Volusion, and Shopify – possess great features that will aid in development of your online store. However, it is the specific features that your company needs to operate a profitable eCommerce property that will ultimately help determine which platform is the right fit for you!

Please let us know your thoughts on these platforms in the comment section below. We would love to hear what you are looking for in a platform.

Anum eCommerce, eCommerce Integration , , ,

Enhanced ASN Label Service for eBridge On The Cloud Customers

January 28th, 2015

At eBridge Connections, we are dedicated to providing our customers with solutions that simplify business processes, saving them time and money. One way we do this is by developing product enhancements. Recently we have enhanced our ASN Label Service for eBridge On The Cloud (EOTC) customers, by adding the option to save labels as a PDF.

Many existing EOTC customers have already benefitted from the repository of label templates that we maintain. The templates are maintained by eBridge to align with EDI trading partner specifications. With the enhancement, customers will now be able to configure the ASN Label Service to print labels directly as an image file or send them to a warehouse as a PDF. A label image file will be sent directly to a locally-accessible printer from your ePortal Account. A label PDF file will be saved to a local directory where you can distribute, print, and archive as needed. Both of these options can be automated, allowing labels to be generated as ASNs are built, or you can choose to release labels as needed.

Below is a sample process flow for automated label pdf creation and label printing is as follows:

If you are interested in adding or reconfiguring the ASN Label Service, please don’t hesitate to contact your eBridge Account Manager for more information.

Amanda EDI Integration, General EDI , , ,

eBridge Connections Shines in the Holiday Spirit

December 23rd, 2014

Employees of eBridge Connections joined in the holiday spirit and organized a food drive for the 5th straight year to bring hope, relief and security to Burlington families struggling with hunger. Nearly 17,000 residents in Burlington are living below or at the poverty line, and approximately 10% of children are at risk of going to bed hungry.

Left: Cam Jackson, Vice Chairman, Board of Directors, Partnership West Family Support Network; Centre: Colin Brown, CEO eBridge Connections; Right: Paul Tammeorg, Operations Manager, Partnership West Family Support Network

Over the course of a week, employees at eBridge collected boxes full of food to help feed the less fortunate. In the end, together we collected an impressive 572 lbs. of food – the highest amount yet in the last 5 years! All of this food was donated to Partnership West Food Bank – a local food bank in Burlington dedicated to acquiring and distributing food to the less privileged. Partnership West Food Bank provides food to over 700 people in the Burlington area, which is made possible through the donations they receive from individuals, corporations, churches, community events and many other means. They distribute packaged, canned, perishable and non-perishable food items that meet all Canada Food Safety Standards.

In lieu of purchasing the weekly fruit groceries for the employees for the past two weeks, eBridge Connections donated the monetary value of $200 to the food bank as well!

In addition to the food drive, we participated in the Halton Region Children Christmas Sponsorship Program as well. With generous donation contributions from eBridge employees we were able to support a family for Christmas by providing them with warm clothes and gifts.

Left: Bryan Christopher; Centre: Lesley Gibson; Right: Kim Hawley

A special mention to some of our eBridge employees – Bryan Christopher, Lesley Gibson and Kim Hawley – for organizing and running the food drive! And a big thank you to Lesley Gibson again for organizing the Children Christmas Sponsorship! Last but not least, congratulations to everyone at eBridge Connections for a job well done!

Anum Events , , , ,

Top 5 Ways to Enhance eCommerce Store Performance for the Holidays And Beyond

December 18th, 2014

Excitement is in the air as Christmas is just around the corner! The malls are packed with large crowds of shoppers trying to finish – or start – their shopping. However, there are also people who have decided to avoid malls altogether and chosen to shop online from the comfort of their home. What last minute things can you, as an eCommerce retailer, do to attract these shoppers? Fear not, I will be outlining several tactics that can be used in order to enhance your web store’s performance for the holidays…. and beyond!

Let’s get started!

1. Mobile Optimization

This point cannot be stressed enough! In today’s digital age, everyone has a mobile device and uses it for just about everything. If your eCommerce platform is not optimized for mobile performance, you risk losing a considerable amount of traffic to your site. Make sure your website is optimized for mobile and tablet usage, making it easier for shoppers to browse around the site on these devices.

2. Free Shipping and Extended Return Policies

In order to attract shoppers to purchase products from your site, consider offering free shipping as an incentive during peak shopping seasons, such as pre and post-Christmas. Additionally, as consumers purchase gifts, there’s a general fear of defective items or worse, the fear that the recipient won’t like the item. Thus, you may want to simplify and extend return policies as a means of persuading shoppers to choose you over other retailers!

3. Server Performance

Delay in site load time can reduce conversion rates by a significant amount. To accommodate high traffic volume to your site during the holiday season, check to see if your site is fully optimized to handle the changes in traffic. If not, make the necessary changes, such as upgrading your hosting plan or server hardware.

4. Promote Popular Products

Research your sales metrics on the products that are being sold and determine the return you’re generating on each product. Focus on promoting products that are popular amongst shoppers and have a healthy profit margin. This will help drive your bottom line immediately and moving forward!

5. Secure Site

You’ll need your customers trust in your site in order for your eCommerce activities to succeed during the holiday season. Make sure your site is fully secure in terms of customer data not being hacked or breached.

Utilizing some of these approaches will help engage consumers on your site and convert traffic to sales. What other tactics have you implemented to your site that have proven to be successful? Feel free to share them in the comments!

Anum eCommerce , , , , ,

eBridge Business Rules: A Primer on Personalization

December 17th, 2014

eBridge Business Rules are like paint: they personalize your data integration, enabling you to meet your business needs. Like the joists and framing of a house, our Web Connectors and Accounting Application Components, provide the structure for data integration between your systems.

What is data integration personalization? Let’s illustrate with an example of creating a new customer during the sales order creation process.

Suppose your Web Store order data contains the following information about your new customer:

Name: Joe President
Address: 1601 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington DC
Telephone Number: 555-555-5555
Email Address: president@email.gov

Your Accounting Application has the following fields on the Customer Record:

Name
Address
Telephone Number
Customer Comment 1
Customer Comment 2
Customer Class

Our Accounting Application component will handle the obvious: mapping the Name, mapping the Address, and mapping the Telephone Number. However, what about the Email Address? What if you have an accounting practice that requires data in the Customer Comment fields?

Below are 5 ways you can personalize the remaining 4 lines of data to meet your business process needs using eBridge Business Rules:

1. Map the Web Store Email Address to the Customer Comment 1 field
2. Specify the Customer Class ‘WEB’ as configured in your Accounting Application
3. Map ‘New Customer’ or other comments you require to the Customer Comment 2 field
4. Capitalize the Name field
5. Delete the Telephone Number from the data

Keep in mind that the data transferred between systems is primarily determined by your eCommerce and Accounting systems. If your eCommerce store only sends Customer First Name and no Customer Last Name, then that’s all we can work with. Similarly, if your Accounting system has a field for Customer Telephone Number but not Customer Email Address, you will need to determine an alternate field to store the Customer Email Address.

eBridge Business Rules allow you to combine, split, re-arrange, add, and remove data during the data integration process. How would you like your data personalized?

Amanda Education, Integration , , ,