by: Robert Neumann, Tech Editor
The world of e-commerce has grown big. It is quite telling that one of the world’s biggest companies by capitalization is Amazon, an e-commerce giant. This means that e-commerce is the way to go when it comes to buying and selling products.
Unfortunately, a significant majority of e-commerce websites have not upped their game. They are still operating using the traditional concept derived 10 years ago when e-commerce started becoming a shoppers’ norm rather than an exception.
The old IT-driven data warehouse approach and its costs on user experience
Traditionally, the focus for managing e-commerce has been on data warehouses. In this regard, it has been the function of the IT department to manage the product database. This overly focused on the efficient management of data from an IT perspective. However, this approach has often ignored user experience while shopping. The resultant effect has been the increasingly high rate of shopping cart abandonment.
Within the IT department, the old approach has been to employ Master Data Management (MDM). In MDM, data is management is server-driven with little or no effort from the client side – the marketing. As such, a disconnect between the needs of the IT department and the needs of the marketing department resulted in conflict – at a cost to the user experience.
Shopping cart abandonment – the silent monster stealing away your revenues
Due to more emphasis on the server-side data warehouse in the IT department and less emphasis on the client-side marketing department, user experience has traditionally been often ignored. The cost of this has been a high rate of shopping cart abandonment.
Unfortunately, most online shopping cart owners fail to review their shopping cart engagement and are thus unable to appreciate the magnitude and impact of shopping cart abandonment. This is primarily due to a lack of appropriate metrics in their shopping carts that would alert them of this serious issue. While most big e-commerce engines have tools to capture this data, few have an incisive analytics tool to convert this data into information that can help in coming up with an optimal solution.
The Top 5 causes of shopping cart abandonment
- Hidden costs – these are costs that were not apparent to the buyers when they began the ordering process. Such costs include shipping costs, tax costs, and transaction charges such as currency conversion charges, etc. The solution is to provide this information prior to ordering so that buyers are aware of them and get prepared before reaching the checkout stage.
- User account requirements – this is the second-highest cause of shopping cart abandonment. It is not that users don’t want to create accounts. The main problem is the point at which they are required to create an account – in the middle of the shopping process. If indeed buyers must be account holders, then, account opening should be demanded prior to the ordering stage.
- Long and complicated checkout process – this is the third leading cause for shopping cart abandonment. Most users opt for online shopping because they have less time available for them to walk or drive to a brick-and-mortar shop to buy things. Thus, a long process steals away most of the time they wanted to save. This discourages them from completing the process. Apart from the lengthy duration, some shopping carts have a complicated checkout process, even requiring one to fill in a survey questionnaire, provide tons of personal details, and even provide multiple payment options. Not all buyers have all this information at their fingertips. Some feel that the information required is too intrusive. On the other hand, using a language that is rather difficult to understand in the checkout process can also discourage shoppers from going ahead.
- Inability to calculate total cost upfront – shoppers want to know the total cost they are going to incur during the shopping process. They do not want surprises once they have provided their credit card information. These surprises just push them to abandon the checkout process.
- Lots of errors in the shopping cart – when it comes to dealing with money online, trust and confidence are extremely important. Errors in the shopping cart can wear out this trust and confidence quite fast. Even if the errors are not significant such as to obstruct the continuity of the process, some shoppers will simply terminate the process.
Existing Ecommerce ERPs and their shortcomings that may contribute to shopping cart abandonment
The rise of e-commerce ERPs such as Magento, Bigcommerce, Shopify, etc. has come as a relief to many businesses that would like to have an online shop. While these e-commerce ERPs are easy to set up, and most of them extremely affordable, they don’t come customized since they have to be relevant across diverse industries and products. It is up to the individual enterprise to customize them.
While we cannot blame them for being ‘a jack of all trades’, we have to note some of their shortcomings. Due to their highly standardized nature, there is a limit on how much you can describe your product. Managing images could be a challenge that requires a lot of technical expertise to achieve which may end up being too costly. These complications make most e-commerce websites that rely on these engines to have rather scanty product information descriptions, inadequate technical details due to inability to blend and customize the text with multimedia such as videos, infographics, animations, etc. sometimes it may even be hard to navigate links since, in some places, you have to hardcode them.
Specific limitations of Magento
There is no doubt that Magento is the most preferred ecommerce ERP by giant ecommerce websites. This is due to its powerful engine that can easily scale-up to handle thousands of products and multiple shops.
However, there are certain limitations inherent in Magento:
- Limitation on product description characters – Magento by itself does not have a proper Content Management System (CMS). This means that there is a limit as to how much you can manipulate and customize product data. Luckily, Pimcore CMS offers an extensible solution that allows you to easily manage your products’ content.
- A poor API connection to custom data – While Magento offers API, it is not easily customizable to your data source. Poor API connection means that users may not be able to access crucial information that could help them make a buying decision. PIM offered by Pimcore easily sorts this out for you.
- B2C-centric approach – Magento was deliberately designed as a Business-to-Customer (B2C) e-commerce engine. This was the main approach to e-commerce during its creation. However, there has been a significant increase in the Business-to-Business (B2B) e-commerce. Today’s world of e-commerce requires that your business is able to effectively serve both B2B and B2C customers via the same platform. This inevitably calls for re-circuiting Magento to achieve both. The biggest challenge often comes in terms of information targeting. The product information package for B2C customers is quite different from that of B2B customers. Thus, a complete overhaul of the PIM is required for an e-commerce website to be able to serve both types of customers.
What you need to do
To be able to overcome the challenges and limitations of overly standardized e-commerce ERP engines, you need experts who have technical experience in solving these challenges. Pimcore has a PIM DAM system that effectively solves these challenges. It not only enforces completeness rules in as far as product information provision is concerned but also allows A/B Testing of various product information options on the fly.
However, to fully take advantage of the PIM DAM system, you have to first make a paradigm shift in your approach to shopping carts.
The paradigm shift to the modern user-centric approach to shopping carts
The high rate of shopping cart abandonment has led to most e-commerce sites to reconsider the traditional IT-focused internal approach to data management.
To lower the rate of shopping cart abandonment, the new approach is the Market-focused external approach to data management.
While the traditional approach focused on the Master Data Management (MDM) – characteristic of the server-driven management of data, the modern approach focuses on Product Information Management (PIM) which is the client-driven management of data.
Another important paradigm shift to the new approach is the consideration of data, not simply as data, but as a digital asset. This treatment of data as a digital asset puts data as an important critical asset of an e-commerce company which requires attentive, efficient and effective management like any other enterprise asset. This has given rise to the concept of Digital Asset Management (DAM).
PIM vs DAM
The latest trend is to consider both DAM and PIM as serving the purpose of enhancing user’s product experience at the sales level – the shopping cart. This has given rise to the novel concept that is Product Experience Management (PEM).
In the PEM, the main focus is on how both DAM and PIM can be blend to advance user experience of a product on the e-commerce site – especially on the shopping cart. The focus of PEM is on boosting customer satisfaction on the shopping cart.
While DAM is an improvement on MDM, it is still internally focused. It aims to provide an integrated management solution to all varying kinds of data e.g. text (e.g. product description), videos (e.g. product demo), images (e.g. product image), as one seamless package that can be easily accessed.
DAM focuses on organizational data management. Its purpose is to serve as a central point for accessing various forms of data.
PIM is externally focused. It aims to provide dynamic user information about a given product across multiple and diverse channels.
PIM focuses on product data management. Its purpose is to serve a central point from which product-specific information can be accessed – and customized according to different customer needs – such as those of B2B clients as distinct from those of B2C clients.
In the user-centric approach, great user experience is a driving factor when it comes to making the best choice. You let users choose the option that enhances their experience. The easiest way to know which option enhances user experience is to carry out A/B Testing.
A/B Testing is simply about coming up with alternative solutions – such as alternative A, and alternative B. This could be shopping cart A, and shopping cart B. You gauge which of the two shopping carts that users prefer for their checkout.
For this A/B testing to be successful, it has to be accompanied by powerful metrics capturing tools to capture data for analytics. Encouraging customers to give feedback about their experience on each of the options will not only boost their engagement but also make them have a sense of belonging as they will feel being appreciated as important stakeholders.
PIM ensures that you can dynamically customize product information across different channels in a manner that boosts customer’s product experience.