Building user profiles, analyzing click-stream data and matching content to user’s interests can be done in numerous ways. Every site would capture different information about their users. Similar sites catering to the same user pool can still have different user attributes. Every site can choose a different tool for analyzing click stream data. Sites may choose not to analyze click-stream data. Rule-based and filtered content deliveries are two approaches to delivering content. Sites can come up with their own custom approach to delivering content. Broadly speaking, the following are some tips for personalization:
- A simple greeting when the user logs in gives the user some confidence that the site is working towards serving him better.
- Carefully analysis is required for placement of targeted content. Measuring user responses to various strategically placed contents can be measured and used in determining placement of future content.
- Often the look and feel of the targeted content drives users away from the content. Flashy and risqué promotions have a negative effect on users. Of course, the class of audience your site caters to determines it.
- Prompting users to provide information frequently should be avoided whenever possible. For example, when the user checks out of the shopping cart and provides all required credit card, billing and shipping information and completes the transaction and starts afresh, if the user is prompted with the same information during the second check out might lead to some users abandoning their carts.
- Sites usually partner with other sites. Prompting users to login each time they navigate from one partner site to another should be avoided.
- Overwhelming users with promotions can often be seen as badgering by users. The thin line between enhancing the shopping experience and being a pushy sales rep should never be crossed.
- RSS 2.0 specification is the dominant method of RSS distribution via XML. However, it is plagued by many interoperability issues and the specification is considered ambiguous by most developers. ATOM 1.0 which draws from RSS 2.0 is the specification supported by the IETF and is considered the better specification.
- Use of a feed validator service early and often is highly recommended.
- Ensure unique IDs for articles.
- Support autodiscovery; do not use text/XML content type.
- Use atom:summary for summary data, atom:content for full content.
- Embed well formed XHTML.
- An XSL style sheet is the best method for formatting XML output.
- Using an RSS publishing website such as Feedburner is always a good idea.
- Encourage the practice of embedding license metadata in the feeds.
- Use ping services to notify third parties about feed updates.
- For decent interoperability with reasonable security, use HTTP basic authentication over SSL.
- For excellent interoperability with low security, use obscure feed URLs.
The following lists some recommendations for best practices. Please note that the list is by no means exhaustive and specific to any e-commerce installation. It rather provides a general guideline that will be useful in making specific and detail guideline for a particular e-commerce system.
• Make system as intuitive as possible for end users to use and navigate
• Use enhanced two dimensional or possibly three dimensional views with different perspectives for displaying items by which user will have feeling of looking items from different angles
• The page format, positioning of common fields in page should be standard across pages; for example, put common navigation fields and buttons like Back to home page, help, contact us, search etc. in the same position on pages
• The pages navigation should be friendly – make sure user has to make less horizontal navigation and the system displays the pathway and guides user in navigation process
• Create and/ or use various patterns that people can easily remember
• Give detail description to users about products or services and try to make sure user feels that nothing that he or she would need to know has been hidden
• User should have more freedom in terms of what and how he or she can and can’t do with contents with less restriction, less rigidity of flow, and less mandatory requirements
• Provide convenience to user – put user entered data in sessions so that he or she doesn’t have to type in the same information repeatedly in the same session; make user enter as less data as possible and try to capture more data implicitly as user makes actions or selections in navigation or purchase process
• Put content in organized form – hierarchically, geographically, etc.
• Build and portray strong sense of system security and build confidence in users that his or her private data will not be compromised
• The integration between various functional domains and system domains should look as seamless as possible to user
• Make the system expressive; highlight required fields; tell user up-front if there are any issues; display link to security and privacy policies
• Make the system flexible in ordering process, registration, etc. so that user can change the way he or she can mix and match, update the information easily, etc.
• Provide real powerful and friendly search facility with refine search feature
• Be liberal in showing catalogs; user should be able to see catalogs without needing to input much information
• Always get confirmation from user, inform him or her, and communicate (via email) to user about purchase
• People like to see something in scale or grade. So, show comparison between products
• Show in-stock and out-of-stock items very clearly
• Show the price breakdown clearly
• Allow user to change order at any reasonable point in time
• Ask minimum questions to user while registering. Implicitly capture more information on the basis of user’s actions and selections
• Defer asking many questions up-front and ask the questions as and when required; shipping and billing address, for example, may be asked only when user wants to make purchase
• Use the same information as much as possible. If the shipping address and billing address are the same, do not ask user enter the same address twice. Ask the user if the two are same and if the user confirms that, get the system manage populating data from one to another automatically.
• Explain benefits of registration like personalized web experience, access to user’s order history, more expedited future checkouts, etc.
• As much as possible, present multiple choice-type questions for getting user’s answers
• Allow user to easily un-register and re-register at any reasonable point in time
• Provide ample opportunities for user to sign-in but allow him or her to work anonymously
RIA’s are taking a stronghold in the world of Web 2.0. Through technologies like Ajax and Flash, RIAs overcome traditional page-based Web browser constraints to deliver more interactive and responsive Web functionality. RIAs beget rich user experiences when they help users:
Sort large data sets
Enables users to dynamically sort through thousands of information using interactive tools, whereby they can narrow the list by criteria that are most important to them – a task that would take countless attempts if done via traditional forms, which don’t provide insight into how the input parameters affect the results.
Control multi-step process
One of the biggest limitations of page-based HTML functionality is that multi-step processes require linear task flows. But, by replacing traditional HTML forms with a Flash application, users get all of the information and functionality that is required in one screen. Users can select multiple options in any order – all happening without a single-page reload.
Rather than forcing users to download a separate image for each different view, an in-page Flash application gives visitors a 360-degree view of products that they can easily pivot with left and right arrow controls. When they click on a color swatch underneath the product, the image immediately updates with the chosen color without loading an entirely new page. If users want a closer look at the details, they just need to mouse over the image to see a magnified version that temporarily replaces the product description.
Get information that’s hidden or out of view
Traditional online mapping sites require full page refreshes to re-center a map. But with RIAs retailers can present their location maps of their outlets, stores inside layout, whereby users can pore over large expanses of land by dragging the image across the screen as one would slide a map across a table. Clicking on any link within the layout displays the additional information about the section of the store – like square footage, how many products displayed, brand names – in the context of the retailer’s store.
Use familiar controls and features
Many retail sites today offer customers the flexibility of sorting their carts, managing items and previewing them dynamically. RIAs provide features like dynamic sorting of user requested data, drag-and-drop and pane resizing.
Loading time of the website is a critical aspect of every ecommerce business. In the following infographic, by KissMetrics, issues related to loading time of the website is explained in detail.
According to comScore, US retail commerce, for two quarters in a row, surpasses $50 billion in the first quarter of 2013. This means ecommerce have grown 13 % Quarter-on-Quarter and Year-on-Year basis.
“The first quarter of 2013 was fairly strong for online retailers, with total e-commerce sales surpassing $50 billion for only the second time on record,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. “As long as job growth continues and consumer sentiment remains positive, the outlook for e-commerce in 2013 remains bright.”
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