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26 Jun
Shopping cart abandonment is a major problem in the ecommerce industry, consumers add items to their shopping cart, go to the last phase of purchase and then decide not to go through with it. There are many potential reasons for this and it is an issue that ecommerce businesses avoid somewhat. However, simply accepting it as ‘one of those things’ means you are missing out on potential revenue therefore you can’t just sit back and let it happen. With a little work, it is possible to convert shopping cart abandonment into sales. Below are 5 tips on how to do this:
 
1. Email the customer
Find out if the reason why they chose not to go through with their order. Not only does this provide you with vital feedback, it makes the customer feel noticed. It is possible to gain sales from doing this but only if you act quickly, emailing them a week later is no good!
 
2. Offer a live chat service
This helps to make the whole purchasing process much more personal. Perhaps the customer abandoned their order because they had questions that were not answered on your site, a live chat option enables any issues to be resolved immediately and could persuade the customer to make the purchase.
 
3. Consider your shipping options
Shipping costs can have a lot to do with the abandonment of an order. Most consumers are looking for the cheapest deal therefore if shipping is expensive, it could deter people from going through with their order. Try to offer free shipping where possible or, if this just isn’t practical, try offering seasonal discounts on shipping or free shipping for bulk orders.
 
4. Raise customers’ trust
There are still many people who do not feel comfortable purchasing online. There are so many stories on the news about fraudulent activity that this can put customers off. You can gain customers’ trust by using a third party seal of approval to authenticate your store.
 
5. Returns Policy
For many shoppers, they are unsure about making a purchase in case it is not the right productfor them. If they are unsure about your returns policy, this could put them off completing the purchase. Having a link clearly displayed that highlights your policy may give the customer the reassurance needed to complete the purchase.
 
If these are things you haven’t considered, try them out. Get all the statistics for previousmonths so you have something to compare to. Ultimately, working a little on the above could help you gain more sales and maximise your profits in the long run. 
 
Good luck and let us know how you get on! 
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20 Jun

Should You Be Outsourcing?

Posted by Stephanie Clish
There are mixed opinions on the topic of outsourcing but with its popularity growing and the anarray of potential benefits to be gained, it is something 
that every business needs to seriously consider.  The release of Deloitte’s 2012 Global Outsourcing and Insourcing Survey suggests that around 80% of businesses are currently outsourcing, or at least considering it.
 
The Benefits
If you are part of a business that is, at present, not considering the prospect of outsourcing, you may now be wondering how it would benefit you. Set out below are the main benefits companies see when they outsource:
 
Reduced Costs
By outsourcing work that your business is not fully competent in, you are able to save time and money. Your costs will be reduced because you are handing the work over to experts who are able to do the job quicker and at a higher qualit
y. Although this is going to cost you money, you are not wasting money paying your staff to do it at a slower pace. Instead these staff members are able to do the work on areas that are core to driving the business forward.
 
Improved Focus
Outsourcing work that is not a core activity enables all the work that is done in-house to be focused on the decisions that really matter. No time is wasted on work that you aren’t fully competent in. By only focusing on core activities, the business is more likely to be successful and profits can be maximised.

Increased Quality
Generally the people you outsource to are experts in their line of work. This means the work they produce for you will be of high quality and, most likely, a higher quality than it would be if you did it yourself. This allows you to be able to make better decisions because the work you are basing your decisions on is of expert quality.
 
The Disadvantages
If you are not fully ready to outsource, or have not thoroughly researched what to outsource and who to, it could end up hindering your business. Set out below are some of the disadvantages that can be seen when businesses outsource badly:
 
Poor Quality 
Deloitte’s survey stated that 48% of the businesses surveyed had terminated an outsourcing contract due to the work being of a low quality. This is why it is imperative to research the company you are planning to outsource work to, to ensure that they have the capabilities to meet your expectations. Before signing any contract, you should ask as many questions as it takes to give you peace of mind that they are capable of doing the work.
 
Communication Breakdown
Often, when a business has outsourced to many different companies, it can lead to a breakdown in communication. This is because you have so many things to manage in-house, that dealing with lots of outsourcing on top of this can sometimes mean outsourced work is neglected. This, in turn, can lead to work being late, or not done at all. Communication breakdown can have serious effects on the logistics of a business, it is therefore imperative to take the management of outsourcing, and the correspondence with who you are outsourcing to, seriously.
 
Increased Costs
Increased costs can come from a business underestimating the transition cost of transferring work to another company. Also, taking time to chase up companies due to a breakdown in communication, or the redoing of low quality work, ultimately means you end up paying more money than you should be for a piece of work. This then increases your overheads and leads to a lower profit margin, something that no business wants to see.
 
Are You Ready To Outsource?
Given the significance of the potential disadvantages, it is crucial to make sure you are fully prepared before you outsource. To get the optimum performance from your business, you should look to balance what you do in-house with what you outsource. Outsourcing is not only about saving money, it is a strategic decision as well. Therefore it is important not to simply look for the cheapest offer because this could lead to poor quality work that ends up costing you more. Some other factors worth considering before committing to outsourcing are set out below:
 
Is it a core business function?
Generally, so long as the work you are outsourcing is not a core business function it is viable for outsourcing. However work related to a core activity can also, in appropriate circumstances, be outsourced. For example, at Competitor Monitor, our clients outsource to us for pricing intelligence. Being experts in our field, we are able to provide them with vital information that helps them to make a decision on pricing. As this is the only work we do and because we have lots of clients, we are able to do the work at a lower cost than if our clients were to do the work themselves. Also, because we use the latest technology, the work we do is of the highest quality, so our clients have accurate information to base their decisions on.
 
Is it something you are competent at doing?
If you don’t have the competencies to carry out the work, it should definitely be something you outsource. 
 
Can it be done quicker and cheaper by someone else?
There will be many areas of work that you are capable of doing in-house. However if these can be done by another firm for less money than it would cost you, or at a faster rate, it may be something that you should consider outsourcing.
 
Is Outsourcing For You?
Outsourcing, if done correctly, can really add value to a business. It enables a business to remain focused on the core activities, with peace of mind that the work being outsourced is getting done quickly and at a high quality. This saves time and money, giving the business a better chance of gaining a competitive advantage and maximising profits.
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08 Jun
 There are five essential capabilities your business must have in order to get your pricing right, and therefore maximise on profit. 
 
1 Pricing Strategy
Whether you are a sole-trader or a global brand, a pricing strategy is at the core of all activities relating to the prices of a company’s products. It lays out the foundations of how you price your goods, therefore providing a framework of control.  It also helps you to remain focused when deciding what activities to carry out to gain pricing intelligence.  An example of a statement that you may add to your pricing strategy would be: “Our electronic products will 
always be the cheapest amongst our four main competitors.”
 
Before determining your strategy you should ask yourself lots of questions.  For example: What type of company are we?; Who are our customers?; Where do our products rank in terms of quality?
 
2. Organisational Management
This competency involves everything that influences pricing.  It is how a company arranges its people, structure, and culture.  Included in organisational management would be sales policies and staff training.  An example of this would be training all sales employees on the organisation’s sales policies, such as a policy that dictates the maximum discount an employee can give a customer. This training helps to ensure that with each individual transaction, the product is priced in an acceptable range.
 
 
3. Pricing Execution
This involves all activities that lead to a product price.  If organisational management is the training of the sales employees on the sales policies, the execution is the actual creation of these policies. Using the same example as above, this could be the decision to provide sales employees with the ability to discount a customer up to 10% before they have to seek approval from a manager.
 
Without the creation of a sales policy there is no guidance on what the price of the product can be to allow the organisation to still make a profit; and without the training there is no way of making sure your product is always correctly priced.  If neither were enforced, there could be the potential for the sales employees to be offering customers with a 70% discount, which could leave the organisation making a loss.  Obviously this is a situation every company wants to avoid!
 
4. Pricing Analytics
Analysing data is incredibly important in order to understand your profitability.  Past data should be scrutinised over to identify trends as well as any issues, such as unprofitable products.  Information gathered from data analysis can then be fed back into the other capabilities already discussed.  Analysis will also help to identify price optimisation, which i
s the price for a particular product that gives you the most profit.
 
5. Technology
Obviously the amount of technology you want to use is dependent on how big a business you are and how much you can afford.  But basic technology that enables all pricing information to be in one place can be affordable and it helps a lot with the pricing analytics.
 
Technology can also go beyond a database where you can create graphs and statistics on your pricing details.  You can also use technology to gain vital pricing intelligence from your competitors. For example, the product Competitor Monitor provides alerts to our customers as and when their competitors’ prices change. So if their pricing strategy involves being the cheapest retailer of a particular range of products, this alert then gives them the opportunity to change their prices accordingly in a matter of seconds. By outsourcing this sort of work, organisations are able to save money, which has a direct influence on the prices they are able to charge for their products, as well as positively influencing profit.
 
It is no secret that pricing is a crucial aspect in business and it must be considered in depth. This list is not in any sort of order, as each competency is equally important.  In fact, they all interlink and work with each other to help a company make the best pricing decisions possible. It should convey that pricing decisions are not a one-off, behind the scenes decision. Pricing decisions must use all relevant information gathered on a daily basis in order to maximise an organisation’s profit.
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