2017 Business Holidays of MercuryMinds Technologies – Customers

2016 is finally here with lots of hopes and expectations. Along with the rest of the world, MercuryMinds too has moved into the new avenues of year 2017, hoping to reach greater heights of success this year.

We have prepared a business holiday list during which our office will remain closed. It is our request to you to download the holiday list in pdf format here to keep track of our business holidays and plan service requests accordingly. But to sort out any urgent technical requests and support our back up team will always be at your service.

LIST OF HOLIDAYS – 2017

S.No Holiday Date Day
1 New Year 1/1/2017 Sunday
2 Pongal 14/1/2017 Saturday
3 Thiruvalluvar Day 15/1/2017 Sunday
4 Republic Day 26/1/2017 Thursday
5 Foundation Day 17/3/2017 Friday
6 Foundation Day 18/3/2017 Saturday
7 Foundation Day 19/3/2017 Sunday
8 Telugu New Year 29/3/2017 Wednesday
9 Annual Account Closing 1/4/2017 Saturday
10 Mahavir Jayanthi 9/4/2017 Sunday
11 Tamil New Year 14/4/2017 Friday
12 Good Friday 14/4/2017 Friday
13 May Day 1/5/2017 Monday
14 Ramzan 26/6/2017 Monday
15 Independence Day 15/8/2017 Tuesday
16 Krishna Jayanthi 25/8/2017 Friday
17 Bakrid 2/9/2017 Saturday
18 Ayutha Pooja 28/9/2017 Thursday
19 Vijaya Dashami 30/9/2017 Saturday
20 Half-Yearly Closing 1/10/2017 Sunday
21 Muharram 1/10/2017 Sunday
22 Gandhi Jayanthi 2/10/2017 Monday
23 Deepavali 18/10/2017 Wednesday
24 Deepavali 19/10/2017 Thursday
25 Deepavali 20/10/2017 Friday
26 Deepavali 21/10/2017 Saturday
27 Christmas 23/12/2017 Saturday
28 Christmas 24/12/2017 Sunday
29 Christmas 25/12/2017 Monday

* 2nd Saturday & Sundays are Holidays.

Tags:

Ecommerce in 2017: What do the experts predict?

With 2017 drawing ever closer, it’s time to do a little star gazing, with help and insight from our experts as to what we’ll all be talking about.

If you’d like to learn more about ecommerce, book yourself into one of the following training courses from Econsultancy:

Seamless customer experience

Matt Curry, Head of Ecommerce at LoveHoney:

I think we’ll be seeing a lot more zero-friction experiences. The recent announcement of Amazon Shop is a good example of this in the real world, but online we’ll be doing everything we can to get out of the way of someone trying to order.

Everything from seamless identification, automated intelligent orders, native payments in the browser and on IoT devices, to sites that customise their UI on the fly.

Amazon_Go

 

Data-driven marketing

James Gurd, Owner of Digital Juggler:

I’m not going to get excited yet by IoT and VR – I know they’re already established in some markets, but I just can’t see mass adoption coming in the UK yet, and especially not in retail ecommerce.

For me, marketing automation based on product lifecycles and user-level behaviour will become more and more apparent.

We’ll see less bucket emails and more targeted communication, which has been happening over the past few years but at a slow rate.

I think ecommerce specialists are growing in maturity and confidence, so data driven decision-making is becoming more of a norm, even though opinions and ‘it’s good practice’ do still influence many decisions.

Mobile rewards

James Gurd:

Mobile payment still threatens to break free but it hinges on successfully integrating loyalty programs and rewards.

So far brands like Starbucks have nailed it, and 2016 has seen some other high profile brands like Kohls push in this area. What’s lacking to make me confident 2017 is the year, is one of the big tech/payment companies resolving loyalty across a wide range of merchants.

Personalisation of shopper bots

Depesh Mandalia, CMO of ToucanBox:

The emergence of bots and apps which provide a convenience shopping play will be a growing trend in 2017. Both Apple and Facebook are investing here with a view to enabling brands to deploy shopper bots that can create personalised recommendations.

Personalisation has lacked an element of context in the past, but a bot could both dig deep into a customer’s history and ask questions in real-time to better tailor products.

While I can order items on my Amazon Echo, it doesn’t yet have awareness of my history to better tailor my requests. Asking Echo “buy some vests for my son”, it should ask contextual questions like ‘how old?’ or ‘what size?’, but should also check my browsing/purchase history to tailor those results.

Having an in-home shopping assistant could be a huge advantage for retailers to connect in a more intimate manner with potential and new customers.

Amazon_Echo

 

Uptake of A/B testing

Paul Rouke, founder & CEO, PRWD:

The free-to-use Google Optimize is going to bring a significant increase in both the awareness (and uptake) of A/B testing amongst retailers.

With this, my word of warning for retailers would be – when a tool is free, there is less value placed on the importance of having the correctly skilled people available to get the most out of the tool.

A/B testing carried out intelligently (and even strategically), requires a multidisciplinary team with hypotheses underpinned by user research, data analysis and heuristics.

Ensure that your business doesn’t end up with “all the gear, but no idea” when it comes to A/B testing in 2017.

Wearables

Matt Curry:

Now that Mobile is by far the largest driver of traffic and revenue, we have to presume the next device type will be wearables.

wearables

 

The re-invented HIPPO

Paul Rouke:

An increasing amount of humility being exhibited by retailers, as they evolve to becoming customer-centric.

The re-invented HIPPO characteristics will continue to be harnessed by businesses and individuals as egotism, opinion and “what competitors are doing” are slowly removed from decision making around how we improve our user experience.

HIPPO

The article contents are originally written at and sourced from https://econsultancy.com/blog/68652-ecommerce-in-2017-what-do-the-experts-predict. We don’t express/any claim to the ownership. If you have any concerns, please contact our team.

Optimizing Your Product Pages with Video & User-Generated Content

blog-illustrations

This is a guest post by Kaleigh Moore from BigCommerce.

Kaleigh Moore is a writer at BigCommerce and founder of Lumen Ventures, which helps to educate online sellers on how to grow their businesses across the web. She’s a longtime entrepreneur, who’s run profitable businesses with zero paid advertising. She focuses on influencer marketing strategies and online marketplace diversification to grow sales on a small budget. Kaleigh’s work has been featured in Entrepreneur, Inc. Magazine, Kissmetrics, SumoMe, and more.


Product pages are often overlooked when it comes to conversion optimization, mobile experience and SEO. Sure, you might look at A/B testing the placement of a CTA button or add better product photos, but in large part, product pages remain static and under-utilized.

But what if each product page was optimized for conversions just like a landing page?

Not only would this improve mobile SEO efforts, but it would also help improve the overall customer experience.

With data from Gartner indicating that 89% of businesses will compete mainly on customer experience by as soon as 2017, it’s clear that CX on product pages can no longer be ignored.

By adding videos, user-generated content (like a stream of social media content featuring the product and/or user-submitted product photos or videos), and elements of social proof like customer reviews, you can transform the product pages on your ecommerce site into conversion-driven sales assets.

Here are few ways retailers have already started transforming their product pages into landing pages and the results these efforts have produced.

Incorporating Video & User-Generated Content on Product Pages

When examining areas for optimization on product pages, one of the first areas for improvement that comes to mind is adding more dynamic visuals.

Data shows that customers are 64-85% more likely to buy after watching a product video. And, according to findings from Liveclicker, retailers who added video to most product pages saw a 68% boost in average order value (AOV).

Liveclicker’s findings showed three themes:

  • The more video the better: AOV for retailers with video embedded on 50-75% of their product pages was around $300, while it was only $177 for those with video on only 0-25% of product pages
  • Video raises conversion rates. Retailers that uploaded video to most of their product pages reported conversion rates were nearly 80% higher than those retailers with product videos on less than 25% of their landing pages
  • Customers spend more after watching video content. Customers who watched 10 or more videos spent 119% more than customers who watched just one video

What’s more: Retailers who include videos on their product landing pages see a sales conversion rate of around 9%, and according to WordStream, the average conversion rate is only about 2.35%.

That’s a conversion rate increase of 282%.

Curating User Generated Content, Not Just Advertising Videos

It’s not just ecommerce videos that are helping transform product pages into high conversion landing pages. Online retailers are also incorporating user-generated content (think user submitted photos, reviews, etc.) to make their product pages more effective. MarketingLand reported that more than 90% of customers’ purchase decisions are influenced by online reviews, and according to Forrester research, 70% of consumers consider product and brand recommendations from their social circles trustworthy.

Along with the validation and trust that comes from user-generated content like reviews is the additional positive impact it makes on your SEO efforts. Search engines favor sites with a steady stream of fresh content being generated on its pages –– and user-generated reviews are a perfect way to accomplish that.

OK, at this point you’re probably thinking, “These stats are great, but what about real life examples?” Here are some retailers who have seen actual results from adding video and additional user-generated content to product pages.

Brands Increase Conversions with Product Page Video & User-Generated Content

When outdoor retailer Kelty learned that 40% of its traffic was coming from mobile but that conversion rates for this medium were lower than average, they decided to undertake a re-design to create a more user-friendly experience on mobile.

As part of the re-design, they implemented product videos on all of their product pages, as seen in the example below.

bigcommerce-exchange-1

 

Along with videos, they also implemented customer reviews on each page, which allowed customers to share feedback on their purchases.

The result: After the site re-launched with the contextual product page videos and user-generated reviews, mobile conversions went up an astounding 147%. Not only was the brand able to better accommodate a large portion of its customers on their preferred purchase channel, but they built a mobile experience with easy-to-use features that directly drove sales.

Other brands have taken a step beyond video to produce similar impressive results.

StoreYourBoard Simultaneously Improved UX and SEO

StoreYourBoard incorporated a customer Q&A tool, customer reviews, and user-generated photos to its product pages to create a more robust customer experience –– and to improve SEO at the same time (thanks to the additional content and keywords these assets added on each individual page).

The article contents are originally written at and sourced from https://blog.qualaroo.com/2016/12/08/optimizing-your-product-pages-with-video-user-generated-content/ .We don’t express/any claim to the ownership. If you have any concerns, please contact our team.

Amazon launches Amazon Go, a mind-blowing brick-and-mortar grocery store with no checkouts

Amazon has launched its own grocery store in Seattle, as the commerce giant looks to shine a light on a new “checkout free” shopping experience.

Located at 2131 7th Ave, Amazon Go is limited to a new 1,800 square feet of retail space and is only open to the company’s employees during the beta program, but it is expected to open to the public in early 2017.

To use the service, install the Amazon Go app, log in with your account credentials, and then simply put goods from the shelves in your bag and walk out. It’s not entirely clear how it separates shoplifters from Amazon Go users, but presumably it uses facial-recognition technology to match you with your account, and represents a significant advance in the offline shopping experience. Put a little more simply, this is pretty mind-blowing stuff.

The store and shelves are equipped with “computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning,” according to the official FAQ page, meaning it can detect when products are removed and returned to the shelves. When you leave the store, your account is charged.

Amazon explains why it created Amazon Go:

Four years ago we asked ourselves: what if we could create a shopping experience with no lines and no checkout? Could we push the boundaries of computer vision and machine learning to create a store where customers could simply take what they want and go?

Our answer to those questions is Amazon Go and Just Walk Out Shopping.
Today’s news advances Amazon’s encroachment on the brick-and-mortar world, as it has been pushing further into the physical realm in recent years. Last November, it opened its first real physical bookstore — Amazon Books — at University Village in Seattle, the company’s home city. And it has continued to open staffed pickup points at universities across the U.S.

We’re seeing physical retailers increasingly turning to technology to streamline operations. Pittsburgh-based Bossa Nova offers stores nifty little retail robots that ensure shelves are always stocked, while just last week French startup Exotec raised $3.5 million to help warehouses dispatch goods using mini robots. Elsewhere, Walmart recently introduced its own mobile payments service in the U.S., as it strives to compete with online retailers by making it easier to check out.

But what Amazon is offering here is truly futuristic stuff — and it’s pretty amazing that it has managed to develop these smarts and open a physical store without much in the way of rumors leaking in advance. The future of brick-and-mortar grocery shopping is almost here.

 

The article contents are originally written at and sourced from http://venturebeat.com/2016/12/05/amazon-launches-amazon-go-a-brick-and-mortar-grocery-store-that-does-away-with-checkouts/. We don’t express/any claim to the ownership. If you have any concerns, please contact our team.

 

PM Modi Moves To ‘Amazonize’ $400 Billion Of Government Purchases

pm-modi_650x400_61479906626

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. PM Modi plans to move all government purchases to online marketplace
  2. Purchases could be worth a fifth of the country’s $2 trillion economy
  3. E-market is at the center of PM Modi’s key ‘Digital India’ reform

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi plans to move all government purchases, from paper clips to power plant turbines, to an Amazon-like online marketplace that could eventually be worth a fifth of the country’s $2 trillion economy.
Modi’s government, which on Nov. 8 announced a sudden decision to replace 86 percent of India’s cash in a bid to cut corruption and move to a cashless economy, has much riding on the new online market, which has already traded 390 million rupees ($5.7 million) since it began in August.

“This provides India an opportunity for transformation,” said Rita Teaotia, the top bureaucrat in India’s commerce ministry. “The transparency and competitiveness it has brought is very encouraging and so far we’ve seen that the government’s savings are at least 10 percent on every transaction.”

The portal is expected to support trades worth 20 percent of India’s GDP once all state governments, state-owned companies, utilities, defense and railways come online, said Vishal Singh, additional director at the National e-governance division, which set up the platform.

But with only 20 percent Indians able to access the internet, the government — India’s biggest employer — faces the challenge of training staff across the country to use the digital marketplace. Departments as diverse as finance, municipal corporations, police, hospitals and post offices, some located in villages where regular power failures make internet access difficult, are expected to be involved.

It is designed to leave a digital trail that will allow unprecedented openness in a nation ranked 76th on Transparency International’s 167-nation corruption index. Bureaucratic delays and corruption were cited as among the biggest obstacles to business in India by the World Bank’s 2014 Enterprise survey.

The e-market is at the center of Modi’s key reforms: ‘Digital India,’ aimed at increasing the ease of doing business in the notoriously red tape-heavy country, ‘Make in India,’ which seeks to boost the domestic manufacturing industry, and demonetization, which is attempting to tackle unaccounted cash and corruption. Modi, whose cabinet assigned $16.5 billion in Dec. 2014 for a three-year digital push, needs the plan to sustain India’s 7 percent-plus growth rate.

Training, Learning

At the National Institute of Financial Management on the outskirts of India’s capital, Ram Niwas Sharma and his fellow students are among the weekly batches of state employees learning to use the Government e-Market.

“It’s a lot like Amazon.com,” says, 54-year-old Sharma employee of a state-run engineering college in New Delhi. “And it’s much easier compared to our current system, more transparent.”

The platform isn’t very different from Amazon or its local rivals Flipkart or Snapdeal in look or design, allowing users to choose from products listed alongside photos and detailed specifications. It even allows them to compare prices offered on the marketplace with those on rival websites. What differs, though, is the scale and scope of change it can bring.

Changing Rules

The Indian government currently uses a tender system to buy everything from paper and cars to defense equipment. This restricts buyers to local suppliers and allows possible price manipulations or cartelization, according to Binoy Kumar, top bureaucrat at the Directorate General of Supplies and Disposal that handles state purchases worth 100 billion rupees in a fiscal year.

The new system allows vendors across India to bid for any government purchase. India’s finance ministry changed rules to allow payments within 10 days of the purchase, a move that will free suppliers from the average wait of about two months for recoveries or harassment from corrupt officials.

“Allegations of petty corruption won’t arise,” Kumar said in an interview. “Especially since you’re not restricting anyone from registering. We’re democratizing the entire process.”

Biometric Data

For 46-year-old Rajesh Kohli, who works for a Delhi state hospital, buying on the website frees up time but raises fears of misuse of his biometric data.

Everyone using the portal is required to register their personal mobile phone numbers and Aadhaar biometric cards. Aadhaar, issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India, captures personal details including fingerprints and iris scans. India’s Supreme Court has prohibited the government from making the unique identity program mandatory and is currently hearing cases challenging its constitutionality.

“The system requires a personal vouch. That scares us,” said Kohli. “Earlier we acted on behalf of the department. Now it’s our personal details for every purchase.”

Scaling Up

But there is concern that the move will not be enough to stamp out the country’s rampant corruption.

“India will have to ensure security of the huge amounts of data this will make available and we’re not sure the government is fully aware of the pitfalls,” said Rama Nath Jha, Delhi-based executive director, Transparency International India. “Also, given the confusions created by demonetization, it would be naive to believe that merely digitizing purchases will cut corruption.”

The market’s user base is expected to eventually rise to about 200,000 buyers making 5,000 concurrent trades. It already has 1,259 vendors selling 2,534 products through to more than 9,108 users across 469 registered government departments, according to Radha Chauhan, chief executive officer at India’s national e-governance division. It is not yet compulsory for departments to join, she said.

India’s biggest state purchasers — its Ministry of Defence and Indian Railways — are yet to become part of the market.

“This experiment will put us on a par with nations like the U.S. and South Korea,” said Harsh Kumar, director National Institute of Financial Management, that trains Sharma and his colleagues. “If it is implemented on the scale it’s being envisaged, no procurement system in the world will be as transparent and efficient as this one.”

The article contents are originally written at and sourced from http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/pm-modi-moves-to-amazonize-400-billion-of-government-purchases/. We don’t express/any claim to the ownership. If you have any concerns, please contact our team.

Brand name ‪”MercuryMinds”‬ & LOGO, the trademark issued by the Government of India

We are proud to announce that MercuryMinds’ brand is officially a registered trademark in India. It took 4 years to get the approval since the date application filed at 2012!

The brand name ‪”MercuryMinds”‬ and LOGO; used for products, services & trade rendered by our company, has been registered at India and the trademark issued by the Government of India with effect from 10/11/2012. We thank you all for your continued support and encouragement. We will continue with our efforts to make the “MercuryMinds” brand a sign of quality and a reason for customers to choose our products.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for more information by writing an email to info@mercuryminds.com

Tags: ,

All You Need to Know about 360 VR Photos

I’ve spent the last several months fully committed to the shooting of 360 VR photos. There’s nothing quite like them. Here’s what you need to know.

Shooting

The best camera is the one you already have — and for most of us that’s our smartphone. Modern smartphones are already equipped with all everything they need to take VR panoramas — namely accelerometer, gyroscope and CCD. The only remaining question is what software to use.

After some trial and error I settled on Google Street View. Intended as a data entry point for Google Maps, it also renders beautiful panoramas to your phone’s Camera Roll in JPEG format. The experience is super simple. Simply point your phone at a series of orange dots and Street View will snap the panorama for you:

0 IOZIquNbTuNa6tEj

If you need better results, Street View is also compatible with the following 360 degree cameras.:
• Ricoh Theta S
• Samsung Gear 360
• NCTech iris360
• LG 360 CAM

If you want more control, you can go old school:

1. Use your camera or DSLR to shoot lots of overlapping photos. Make sure you always shoot from the same point. A tripod helps here.
2. Stitch them in post-processing. Some good free options are Hugin and Microsoft ICE.

Storing

Stay away from the proprietary “walled garden” services out there. You want to store your panoramas in a plain, portable, future-proofed format.

My recommendation: stick with JPEG images in equirectangular (or sometimes, “spherical”) projection:

• Google’s Street View app already exports in this format
• Supported by most photo-stitching software
• Accepted as input by most panorama-sharing sites and apps too

Take these and store them with your preferred photo backup service.

If you spend lots of time in the Windows ecosystem, also consider the .pano file format. The Desktop, Tablet, Phone and OneDrive have built in support — just double click to get panning:

0 _RzUwVHlY8JyEnRK

Viewing

Aside from the Windows support mentioned above, there’s no native OS capability out there. You’ll need custom apps (or “Players”) to tilt and pan through your 360 VR photos.

In addition to the Google Street View app, the free VR Camera app for iOS is worth a look. Most of the other iOS options are either paid, walled gardens or total junk.

For other platforms, check out this comprehensive list.

Sharing

With no convergence around a popular, cross-platform Player, your best option is to share panoramas via the web.

With this in mind, Photosynth and Facebook are great options. Both feature slick viewers in the browser and allow easy sharing with your friends.

The article contents are originally written at and sourced from https://medium.com/vantage/all-you-need-to-know-about-360-vr-photos-d180aa25d8de#.20psd7jdj. We don’t express/any claim to the ownership. If you have any concerns, please contact our team.

Retailers look into the future of shopping with augmented reality

1 ySQAVci6LYokOsql4wFxeA

As the augmented reality brings new opportunities for online shopping, retail brands adopt this technology to enhance the engagement with their customers.

Boston-based home furnishings retailer Wayfair is now offering an augmented reality app that lets shoppers see how products look in their home before making a purchase.

Using the newly released Lenovo Phab 2 Pro smartphone and the company’s augmented reality app WayfairView, shoppers can rotate products to better determine how an item will fit inside their home.

Once a customer selects a product, WayfairView pairs with the company’s shopping application to enable a seamless check-out.

https://youtu.be/2gYwc6nS7qs

“Equipped with a high-definition 3-D scanner, the Lenovo Tango-enabled Phab 2 Pro smartphone adds an enhanced level of sophistication that’s essential to creating realistic 3-D visualizations of Wayfair’s products,” said Steve Conine, co-chairman and co-founder, Wayfair.

“We are thrilled to leverage this innovative technology to introduce a convenient way for our customers to shop for furniture and décor.”

Currently, Lenovo’s Phab 2 Pro is the only smartphone in the market, compatible with Google’s Tango platform.

The Tango technology is designed to enable smartphones or tablets, to determine their position and orientation without using GPS or other external signals.

This allows application developers to create user experiences that include indoor navigation, 3D mapping, physical space measurement, environmental recognition, augmented reality, and windows into a virtual world.*

Earlier this year the company has created about 10,000 3D images of its products, and launched an API that allows app developers to access.

A recent report forecasts augmented Reality market to reach $100 billion by 2024 mainly fueled by smartphones, Internet of Things and the popularity of wearable devices.

Here are some other brands that look into new shopping experiences using augmented reality.

IKEA — In 2013, the Swedish furnishings retailer created an Augmented Reality catalog app to allow customers visualize how certain pieces of furniture would fit and look in their homes or offices.

https://youtu.be/vDNzTasuYEw

SEPHORA — Makeup brand Sephora offers an augmented reality app that enables users to virtually try on different lip shades and purchase directly in the app.

https://youtu.be/5qpuym4-JDE

LOWE’S — The hardware and home improvement store chain, has an app that allows shoppers to fit and position appliances, and lets other virtual tweaks before making a purchase decision.

1 -1XjfxAsZdxSK5-4Kmp53Q

The article contents are originally written at and sourced from https://haptic.al/retailers-look-into-the-future-of-shopping-with-augmented-reality-c3779040b8f0#.a2emug8v7. We don’t express/any claim to the ownership. If you have any concerns, please contact our team.

Time to Bid Farewell to the Great E-Commerce Discount?

The new government rules regulating e-commerce marketplaces will impact Amazon and Flipkart negatively, while Snapdeal and other ‘pure’ marketplaces will come out on top.

The new DIPP guidelines seek to crack down on discounting while bringing clarity to the often confusing definition of what constitutes an e-commerce marketplace

The new DIPP guidelines seek to crack down on discounting while bringing clarity to the often confusing definition of what constitutes an e-commerce marketplace

New Delhi:Consequently, while Department of Industrial Promotion and Policy (DIPP) has allowed 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) in the marketplace model of e-commerce, the new guidelines also come with devastating consequences for two of the foundational pillars of India’s online retail industry.

The first biggest take-away is that the DIPP has effectively outlawed discounts, predatory pricing and those “big-billion sales” that fuelled consumer demand even as it burnt millions of dollars in venture capital money. In a list of conditions for companies that accept FDI and operate an e-commerce marketplace, the new guidelines state: “E-commerce entities providing marketplace will not directly or indirectly influence the sale price of goods or services and shall maintain a level playing field.”

The second blow involves the manner in which most e-commerce marketplaces such as Flipkart and Amazon have structured their seller base. To this, the DIPP has attached a condition that reads “An e-commerce entity should not permit more than 25% of the sales effected through its marketplace from one vendor or their group companies.”

Historical perspective: Corporate structuring

In order to understand why the new 25% rule is potentially game-changing regulation, it’s important to understand what exactly the government has announced. For one, it has reaffirmed the long-standing position of disallowing FDI in business-to-consumer e-commerce (B2C).

This has been the legal position of past Indian governments and was the regulatory position when companies such as Flipkart and Snapdeal started out as small start-ups. No FDI in B2C e-commerce means that foreign-funded players such as Flipkart couldn’t operate under an inventory-led model. An e-commerce company, if funded by foreign venture capital, could not simply buy merchandise from various wholesalers, stock that inventory in their own warehouse and then sell those items on a website to online shoppers.

A number of FEMA and FDI violation inquiries and cases prompted Flipkart and Snapdeal to shift from an inventory-led model to an e-commerce marketplace model. In the marketplace model, companies such as Flipkart and Snapdeal merely became an intermediary for sellers and shoppers. The online retailers themselves don’t own inventory. Anybody from a mom-and-pop shop to a big electronics company like Samsung could earmark some inventory towards an e-commerce company and sell through Flipkart or Snapdeal to its customers.

Though an e-commerce marketplace model may not have been officially allowed, it was seen as a clever work-around that allowed companies to skirt FDI regulations while servicing the Indian market. When Amazon first launched in India, it launched through a marketplace-led, e-commerce model.

Here’s where things get interesting though. The problem with an e-commerce marketplace model is that the quality of service, shopping, delivery and overall customer satisfaction tends to be low. When any seller, regardless of quality, can sign up to be part of the Flipkart or Snapdeal marketplace, faulty delivery orders and fraud are likely to be common occurrences. The famous case of a man ordering a Samsung smartphone off of Snapdeal and receiving a bar of soap instead is a classic example of how marketplace-led models can go wrong.

In order to get around this, what Flipkart and Amazon have done is create a ‘primary seller’; a way of getting around the weaknesses of the marketplace model. For instance, for Amazon, Cloudtail India Pvt Ltd. is the biggest seller on Amazon India and according to some estimates contributes nearly 40% of the company’s sales. Who is behind Cloudtail India though? It’s a joint venture between former Infosys CEO N.R Narayana Murthy’s Catamaran Ventures and Amazon Inc.

On similar lines, Flipkart’s largest seller is WS Retail Services, an organization that can be traced back to Flipkart itself. In this manner, Flipkart and Amazon skirt the FDI regulations on inventory-led e-commerce models while overcoming the weaknesses of a pure marketplace model.

Where the new regulations kick in now is by specifically allowing 100% FDI in e-commerce marketplace, albeit with a rider that “no one vendor on the marketplace should be allowed to contribute more than 25% of the company’s overall sales”. This means that Amazon and Flipkart need to stop passing off a quasi-inventory-led model as a marketplace model. Instruments such as Cloudtail and WS Retail Services will slowly have to wind down and contribute less to the company’s sales, thus ideally resulting in a more level-playing field to India’s traditional retailers.

In a statement, the All India Online Vendors Association, a group of sellers that sell primarily on e-commerce marketplaces, state that the new 25% rule will allow online retail companies to widen their seller base.

“This will curb the malpractices of WS Retail, Vector E-commerce and Cloudtail whose agreements with e-commerce companies are not in public domain,” the statement says.

Amazon and Flipkart have, understandably, not yet officially commented on the new regulations, Snapdeal co-founder Kunal Bahl, on the other hand, has come out enthusiastically in favour of the new guidelines. In a tweet, Bahl said “Always a great feeling when you stick to the course that you believe in, pays off: Focusing on a pure marketplace and not doing inventory.”

Since 2012, Snapdeal preferred a more purer version of the marketplace model, eschewing measures such as propping up a primary seller. While this may have slowed its growth and resulted in quality concerns, it also means it has less overhead and requires less capital to grow. Consequently, the new 25% seller rule will not affect it as much as Flipkart and Amazon.

Discounts disappear!

The second major impact, primarily to consumers, has been the issue of discounts and predatory pricing.

In a strikingly, anti-free market approach, the new guidelines state that online retailers can’t “directly or indirectly” influence the price of goods and services. While this phrasing may sound a little peculiar, it’s been laid out as such in order to deal with the innumerable ways that online retailers fund discounts in the current industry.

The Mint, for instance, details out how Amazon funds discounts by its sellers through a method called ’promotional funding’. E-tailers such as Amazon informally recommend a price that sellers on marketplace should quote while selling a certain time, but doesn’t actually ask them to adopt that particular price. When sellers do fix that suggested price, they can send a “debit note” to Amazon that covers the cost of discounts that they give on a specific item. Amazon then quietly refunds its sellers.

It is unclear at this point though whether other methods of discounts such as ‘cashbacks’ — of which online payment service and marketplace Paytm is a big pusher — will also be viewed as indirect methods of influencing the prices of goods and services.

One way of viewing the DIPP’s note is, therefore, to see it as a way of urging the Competition Commission of India into taking a more proactive stance in making sure there is no predatory pricing. While this is certainly a big blow for online Indian shoppers, who have been weaned away from the offline retail model through low prices, it also offers e-tailers a chance to switch off the money spout; though there is very little reason to believe all online retailers will toe the line and not look for creative workarounds instead.

“This will be a nightmare when it comes to compliance. It would be far better to properly and consistently allow FDI into offline, traditional multi-brand retail. That’s a proper way of bring about a level-playing field,” a top executive of an Indian online retailer told The Wire.

Liability and being an intermediary

These new regulations, on the whole, look to correct the shoddy structuring of the e-commerce industry as a whole, while also laying out methods in which e-commerce marketplaces should interact with their customers. While some of these steps, such as the move to ban discounts, are protectionist in nature, other conditions that come attached to FDI approval are contradictory in nature.

Two conditions in the new guidelines, for instance, state that: “Any warranty/guarantee of goods and services sold will be the responsibility of the seller.. Post sales, delivery of goods to the customers and customer satisfaction will be the responsibility of the seller.”

This essentially means that the guidelines view e-commerce marketplaces strictly as a technological mediator and absolve them of legal liability. If a customer receives a bar of soap instead of a smartphone, they will find it difficult to hold Flipkart or Snapdeal liable.

While online retailers are unlikely to take this to heart, considering that quality of service and delivery is a competitive advantage in the e-commerce industry, it does mean that sellers on e-commerce marketplaces will have to step up and take greater responsibility and not hide behind the Flipkart or Snapdeal brand name.

The decision to give greater responsibility to the seller seems odd when considering how various state governments have viewed Ola and Uber as a technological mediator. In these cases, radio-taxi licences are given out to online taxi companies only after they establish strict background checks and institute safety-call centres in each city that can be used to track down erroneous drivers and receive complaints.

The article contents are originally written at and sourced from https://thewire.in/26653/time-to-bid-farewell-to-the-great-e-commerce-discount/. We don’t express/any claim to the ownership. If you have any concerns, please contact our team.

Video Content For Ecommerce Sites = Improved Search Results + Increased Sales

After I mentioned adding videos to ecommerce websites in a recent article, a client asked about specific types of video they might use on their website.

In this article, I’ll outline several types of videos you could add to your ecommerce site to help increase sales. I’ll also cover where to host videos for the best search results and talk about how you can produce your videos.

Benefits Of Video Content On Ecommerce Sites

Here are just some of the benefits of employing video content on ecommerce sites:

• Videos can help shoppers make buying decisions leading to increased sales.
• Your own videos can help convey your added value such as your expertise, high level of service, etc.
• Videos along with their accompanying text can help make website pages more unique; a common issue for ecommerce sites many of which use primarily the descriptions and images provided by manufacturers.
• Videos are ideal content to promote in most social media venues.

Branding Or Testimonial Videos

Company overview or testimonial videos can convey messages that help make shoppers feel more comfortable buying from you.

For example, you might produce a video at a customer’s location demonstrating your professional installation service, showing the customer using the product, talking about how you helped them select the right product or how they saved money.

Take a look at some of the videos Zappos has developed about the company and its culture (Internet retailers: You can learn more from Zappos in this article.)

Videos Help Shoppers Learn About Product Areas

I’ve mentioned Crutchfield Electronics a couple of times in past articles. They include videos and articles that can help people learn about a product area such as this video, What to Look for in Portable GPS.

Crutchfield links to these videos from appropriate product category pages where they may help shoppers narrow down buying decisions. At the same time, these videos (which almost always include Crutchfield’s own employees) help convey their expertise.

Note how they often include a transcript of the video in a search engine friendly tab system. This helps search results and gives people the option to scan the transcript.

Your Own Product Videos

Producing your own product videos can help increase sales in a few ways. They can help shoppers make buying decisions and help convey your expertise, helpfulness, etc., at the same time.

Plus, your own product videos can help make your product pages more unique and useful than the competition, improving the user experience and often improving search results.

You can demonstrate the product, highlight product details, show how to use it, how to assemble or install it, and you can show “what’s in the box”.

If you sell luggage, for example, you could demonstrate key features, highlight the high quality hinges, show how it rolls, have a gorilla jump up and down on it and throw it around. (Oh right; that one’s been done.)

“How To” & Expert Advice Videos

You can create videos that provide expert advice on how to use the products you carry. Here’s a video from REI, the outfitter, on “How to Load a Backpack”

These types of video articles often do well in search engine results for the types of questions people ask such as “how to load a backpack”.

Searchers may find your video in the search results, click to view it, and learn more about what you have to offer.

Product Review Videos

You can create your own reviews of products. Showing what’s good and not so good can help convey your credibility and show your expertise.

You may have seen some of these types of videos in your own shopping. Recently, I watched some when I was shopping for a digital camera; for example, I searched on “Nikon d5000 review”. The video reviews I watched helped convinced me to buy it.

Spokesperson Videos

Here’s a video on ebags.com of an apparently known outdoors person talking about how he uses a North Face duffel bag. You could do something similar and it doesn’t have to be an expensive celebrity.

For example, if you sell motorcycle racing products, you may already be sponsoring some racers. How about developing a video using one of them?

The eBags video about the North Face duffel bag appeared in the blended/universal search results in Google.com when I searched on the product name. Some of your videos might too. See the “Where to Host Videos” section below for more about this.

Ask Clients For Videos

Zappos asks its shoppers to submit their own testimonial videos. You could too. Ask your shoppers to tell their story and put their videos up on your YouTube channel. Put the best videos – the ones that convey your great customer service, delivery, etc, on your ecommerce site where shoppers will see them.

Product Videos From Your Manufacturers

Some manufacturers make product videos available to their resellers to use on their websites such as this Timbuk2 luggage video on eBags. This is a reasonable solution if you can’t make your own videos. They’ll likely help sell your products.
However, they aren’t going to help convey your added value as much as your own videos can. Plus, the videos provided by your manufacturers will also be used on other resellers’ websites so your site will not be as unique as with your own videos.

Where To Host Ecommerce Videos For Best Search Results

YouTube

YouTube is a decent choice for video hosting especially for ecommerce sites without a lot of link equity. Websites with strong link equity such as eBags have the best chance of having videos they host themselves or appear to host themselves. (See below for more on this.)

If you host your videos on YouTube and promote them using your social media venues, you might get some of your videos to appear in the blended search results on Google.com and yes, even Bing.com. Plus your videos will be available for searches conducted directly at YouTube.com.

Note that Google currently includes a YouTube link in the top tool bar on Google.com. If someone wants to search specifically for videos not hosted on YouTube while on google.com, they’ll have to click “More” in the top tool bar where they’ll find a Video search in a fly out menu.

google-toolbar

A Sub-domain Dedicated To Hosting Videos

Notice that most of the big players appear to host their videos on their own websites such as within a sub-domain like video.ebags.com.

However, in many cases these sub-domains are actually located on third party video hosting servers such as Wistia or servers provided by video production and hosting companies that specialize in ecommerce video (See Producing E-commerce Videos below for links to some video production and hosting companies that specialize in eCommerce videos.)

There are advantages to hosting your videos using Wistia or other third party services. You’ll have much more control over the page that includes your video than say a video on YouTube.

Notice how this product video page on eBags includes a static product image, a Buy Now link, a product features section with a link to the product page, and some more product images.

Some video production and/or hosting services have their own video players you can use on your site that incorporate features such as “Add to Cart” buttons, conversion tracking, etc. In addition, some automate or semi automate the creation of a video sitemap.

video-player

Best Practices For Video Hosting On Your Own Site

Take a look at some of the videos that appear in the search results on google.com or bing.com for some ecommerce related searches.

Notice how almost all of them, even the ones “privately” hosted on sub-domains of an ecommerce site (like eBags), are laid out so that the video is up high on the page and it’s the most dominant element; similar to the layout on the video hosting sites like YouTube.

You are not likely to see videos that are a relatively small element of a product page appearing within the blended search results or even specific video searches.

So, if you do host your own videos or use a third party video hosting solution, consider developing separate webpages for most of your videos where the video is the main focus, as you’ll see at video.petco.com.

This should give your videos the best chance of appearing within search results. You can then embed the video within other pages on the site.

Producing Ecommerce Videos

In-house Video Production

You could setup your own video production capability. Perhaps you have a videographer working for you just waiting to be born. You may not be able to reach the high production quality of companies that specialize in producing videos, but most ecommerce videos don’t have to be Academy Award quality.

You can produce decent quality videos with a video camera, some lighting, a back drop or two, and perhaps a bench with a solid colored cover.

Ecommerce Video Production & Hosting Services

There are companies that specialize in ecommerce videos. Many of the videos that you’ll see on the big ecommerce sites are produced by service companies that produce and usually host the videos for their clients.

In my research, I found LiveClicker and invodo. I talked to the folks at invodo. They create, develop and host all the types of ecommerce videos outlined in this article and more. A typical engagement with them can start in the low five figures.

The article contents are originally written at and sourced from http://searchengineland.com/video-content-for-ecommerce-sites-improved-search-results-increased-sales-129314. We don’t express/any claim to the ownership. If you have any concerns, please contact our team.