Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Global eCommerce Trends That Retailers Must Leverage in 2016

In today’s hyper-competitive world, success is measured by how customers experience your brand online. The brands who can gauge and address, or even exceed customer expectations are ones who will be stay ahead in the rat race. Being able to actively engage customers online and on their smart devices has become a must have for businesses. Those retailers who stick to the conventional eCommerce model will lost out – both in terms of customers and revenue. 

ecommerce website development services

In such a scenario, what can you do to help your brand remain competitive? Here are three eCommerce trends that you can bank on to improve conversion rates.

1. Personalization to be replaced by contextual shopping:

Personalization involves addressing someone by name and remembering their site preferences (provided they are members or registered users). A number of online retailers use this technique to keep shoppers hooked. While this is a great technique, we can expect to see context replacing personalization during the course of this year.

In a context-focused site experience, a user doesn't need to be logged on or registered with a site in order to receive targeted content or information that can help them in their purchase decision. This is because, due to due to the latest consumer-centric technology, brands are able to virtually map customer journeys and anticipate needs in advance. By doing so, they can provide buyers with the information they require, streamlining the online buying experience further.

2. Brands to actively pursue buyers:
 

Online buying can be a relatively flat and impersonal experience. As opposed to a physical buying experience where you walk into a store and are (at times) greeted by name, the world of online retail can make you feel like a stranger. When you enter a web store, there's no one to welcome you, to guide you when you have a question about a size or color, or come to your assistance when you face a problem (like a discount code) not working. Most buyers only engage with a real person post their sale and that too if something has gone wrong. Consequently, the online conversion rates are lower than their in-store counterparts.

In 2016, we expect brands to proactively engage shoppers instead of waiting for the initial contact. Shoppers will be actively pursued throughout their buying journeys and on their product pages. Retailers and marketers take help of ecommerce website development company to improve their online eCommerce stores. In addition, they can drive up their conversion rates by providing live chat, providing immediate help in case a customer faces any issue and displaying relevant information on specific product pages.

3. Mobile engagement and mobile commerce to continue growing: 

According to Gartner, “By 2017, U.S. customers’ mobile engagement behavior will drive mobile commerce revenue in the US to 50% of North America’s digital commerce revenue.” If a brand doesn't make the necessary effort to interact with or reach its target buyers via phones and tablets, they are not reaching almost 50% of them. Helping customers in getting things done via smartphones is imperative to a retailer's success.

Ultimately, the trends listed above highlight how significant it is to have an omnichannel eCommerce strategy. As the line between physical and online stores continues to blur, the aim of retailers in 2016 should be to ensure that their customers have a hassle free and pleasurable buying journey over multiple channels. 

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

MongoDB vs MySQL – Which Database is Right for your Enterprise?

MySQL has been a common, open-source database in use by developers for more than a decade. It has become a standard to store data for web and mobile apps. But with changing times, businesses using internet have raised demands for multiple servers to share the load, ensure data scalability and high performance.

As data management becomes a growing challenge, established databases may not posses all the functionality to handle or process large amounts of data. This is where new databases like MongoDB come into the picture. Not only is it an excellent database, but also happens to be an important part of MEAN stack development. Before we look into a comparison between MySQL and MongoDB, let us first consider the important aspects of each of these databases.

What is MongoDB? 

MongoDB is an open-source document oriented database system developed by MongoDB Inc. It uses JSON (Java Script Object Notation) like documents to store the data which varies in structure. The related information is stored  together for fast query access using MongoDB query language. The dynamic schema in MongoDB allows you to create records without defining the data structure. With the data model, you can represent hierarchical relationships, store arrays, and other more complex structures with ease.
 What is MySQL? 

MySQL is an open-source, relational database management system (RDBMS) that uses  structured query language to develop and deploy application databases. It was acquired by Oracle in 2010 from Sun Microsystems. MySQL uses a tabular format to store the data that can be accessed using structured query language (SQL).

Developers or programmers have to pre-define the database schema depending on the requirements and create rules to relate the fields in the tables. It allows you to relate stored data  within different tables with the use of joins that reduce data duplication.

Each of these databases may have a set of similar sounding features, yet differences do exist in the way they deliver functionality to their users. Let us take a look at the aspects that set them apart from each other.
  • Data Storage & Management: MySQL stores data in a structured tabular form using rows and columns where you have to define rules to relate the fields in your tables. In contrast, MongoDB represents data as collection using JSON documents. Related documents can be linked or embedded as required.
  • Schema Flexibility: MySQL doesn't provide enough flexibility in structuring the data while following normalization standards. While in MongoDB, you can easily embed, link documents or fields instead of using joins and transactions. Basically you can optimize your schema depending on the way your app will use the data. Moreover, MongoDB also offers auto-sharding for MEAN stack application development.
  • Type of Querying Language Used: MySQL uses structured query language (SQL) for querying information to the database. You have to combine string in this language which is parsed by the data system and makes SQL injection attack possible. On the other hand, MongoDB uses object querying which means passing a document to explain what you are querying for.
  • Layout of Data Schema: You are required to pre-define the database to store data in tables, rows and columns before storing your application database in MySQL. With MongoDB, you don't need to define the data schema but add a number of documents within a collection without relating any fields (referred as embedding).
  • Execution of Transactions: MySQL is a good choice to develop apps that require complex, multi-row transactions. It has the ability to perform multiple operations within the same transaction and roll back the whole transaction again. MongoDB, instead of transactions, supports single operations that are atomic in nature.
From the above MongoDB vs MySQL comparison, it is not possible to conclude that either of these databases are a drop-in replacement for each other. While MySQL helps developers to build an app using the relational data models and SQL, MongoDB scales their modern business app building requirements. Pick the one that works best for your enterprise needs!


Monday, 15 February 2016

Why Magento Is the Best Bet for Your Online Store

As the number of online stores continues to rise, the number of eCommerce platforms is also increasing and even the most popular platforms are adding new features and being updated to keep up with emerging technologies and trends. 

As a business owner, you have to make the tough decision of balancing out the pros and cons of every eCommerce platform and choose the one that best meets your requirements. 

That said, Magento, one of the most popular platforms available today, might be your safest bet.

Magento Development

Magento has always been and continues to be a popular and widely used eCommerce platform. It has retained its top position for five consecutive years now, and last year’s eCommerce survey results showed that the number of Magento sites had gone up by 35%. 

This is despite the heavy competition from other platforms such as Shopify, PrestaShop, and BigCommerce. Out of the top 100,000 stores as per Alexa’s site rank survey, about 30% of the sites run on Magento, numbering at about 704. This is just one example of Magento’s popularity. 

Let’s take a look why Magento is so popular.

Cost Effective

Magento comes in both free and premium versions. So, you can choose what works best for your business. 

If you are just a small store trying to test the waters in the eCommerce arena, you can stick to the free version and still have all the necessary features without paying. Most extensions are also available for free and Magento gives you endless opportunities to tweak the code yourself to make customized solutions.

Great Features, Modules, and Plugins

Very few eCommerce platforms have the huge number of features and options that Magento does. If you are planning to run a long-term online store, Magento is really the only choice. It offers unmatched eCommerce functionality and marketing capabilities. 

For example, if you want to add a new coupon code feature to your site, Magento makes it very easy to do so. Magento is written in PHP and if you have some PHP knowledge, you can easily customize the code to suit your needs. It is also relatively easy and inexpensive to hire PHP developers to work on  Magento sites.

SEO Tools

Magento is also popular because its development team understands what good SEO can do for your business. The Magento installation kit has a bundle of default SEO tools and they can help you promote your site effectively. Magento, unlike many other eCommerce platforms provides superb CMS facilities as well.  

Open Source 

Magento is an open source platform and because of that, the community edition is completely free for use. This makes it the most cost effective.

Community Support

Owing to its open source nature, you can find hundreds of support websites and tutorials online. The numerous forums, blogs, and other resources are great, and more experienced Magento users are always glad to help out if needed.

Security 

Security is of utmost importance for any eCommerce platform, and Magento’s developers take it very seriously. They offer secure transactions through PayPal and other extensions that can ensure  better security for credit card payments as well.

Scalability

Magento is a high-performance, scalable solution that can handle almost anything that you throw at it. It has an advanced storage system that makes your site supremely responsive without the need to make large investments in server technologies.

There are several other useful features such as multi-language support, various payment delivery options, integration with third-party plug-ins, and one-step checkouts, at affordable costs.

While you might need some basic PHP knowledge and your own hosting account, Magento is definitely one of the best platforms available. The scalability, performance, and the amazing community support give it its edge.

So, are you deploying Magento for your online store? What platform were you using before? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!

Friday, 12 February 2016

Top 5 Reasons Why CRM Is Important For SMBs

A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is a technological solution for businesses to bring and streamline various business functions like sales, marketing, accounting on a single platform. Handling numerous activities and operations like finance, employee management, etc. separately and keeping a track of all at the same time becomes a hurdle for any business who wants to quickly achieve its goals. That's when the qualities of a CRM system would sound like music to ears of any entrepreneur.

In the last decade, a major shift in use of a CRM software has been noted among organizations (especially small enterprises). It is expected to surpass the Enterprise Resource Planning as the largest grossing enterprise software sub-segment, and is already the fastest growing 'type' of business software. Capterra also predicted it to be a $36 billion market by 2017.

As CRM systems continue to grow in popularity world over, it is important to understand how it can help small and medium-sized organizations in improving business operations, workplace productivity and lead to better relationship management.

Here are some of the top ways a CRM can benefit SMBs:

  • Acts as a 'One-Stop Shop' to Improve Operational Efficiency: In the absence of a well-defined CRM system, communication and collaboration can be a challenge for employees belonging to different departments. This where a customer relationship management software can help by acting as a single platform where all business functions can work together. One of the biggest benefits of a CRM system is the simplicity and ease of use. A software that is designed well and is user-friendly can  facilitate day to day operational tasks; even  for those employees with limited technical expertise. CRM customization services  that include integration with other accounting or document management solutions can also be opted for. Apart from that, many enterprises are going digital  to utilize cloud-based CRM technology.
  • Provides A Consolidated Database: A CRM can aggregate data and information from various business functions of an enterprise. Having a centralized database helps companies act faster on the information and make informed business decisions quickly. A finance guy can directly view the total number of sales done by the sales team in a  month or a sales team personnel can check the revenue received from the sales made by them. An advanced and adaptive dashboard of the CRM continually displays all the records or activities that have been/to be performed by the employees. Adding to it, CRM also keeps your database secured online as well as on-premise.


  • Simplifies Marketing Operations: SMBs no longer have to deal with customer data that is scattered across Word documents and Excel spreadsheets. A CRM system helps to automate the customer life-cycle process of a business. The sales and marketing team can work collaboratively to acquire new customers, follow-up with their requirements or queries, convert the prospects into sales, maintain customer relationships, resolve the complaints and retain them. Leads, tasks, contacts, reminders and other such  automated features assist the marketing team to keep up with timely customer service and support. However, with the growing social media trends, it is important for every business to create its online presence so the customers can stay updated about them. Many enterprises have also begun to use social media integrated CRM softwares to interact with the customer hub online.
  • Facilitates Team Collaboration: CRM software provides internal chat facility for the employees to communicate internally. In start-ups or those firms with geographically dispersed teams, this functionality is a blessing.As opposed to overusing email for discussion, a quick chat message can resolve basic queries. Some advanced chat features also include the capability to send important information, files or reports and even conduct online meetings to work together on a project. 
  • Ensures Business Growth: CRM software focuses on all the business segments and not just marketing. It automates the work procedures regarding sales, teamwork, customer relationships, payrolls, company accounts and provides operational flexibility to all the employees. With the real-time analytics, the enterprises can focus on right areas to increase profits, customer satisfaction and business growth.
Thus, it is clear that a CRM can help SMBs progress in the right direction and streamline all the business activities and track them in a timely manner. Adopt a CRM software for your organization today to experience increased productivity, profitability and effective use of your organizational resources.

Are you struggling to select the right CRM solution for your business? This article on CRM Systems for Small Businesses can help you decide on one.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Points To Consider Before Hiring an Android App Development Company

Android is an open-source platform for smartphones that has been developed by the internet giant, Google. It offers competitive tools that help achieve robust functionalities and provides various other benefits to businesses and developers. With its growing popularity it has already overtaken iOS as the most used smartphone OS today.

There are many web solution companies that outsource their services in various pre-designed and customized packages for their clients. They offer you packages where you can hire a mobile developer full-time or you can choose part-time developers. You are open to select these experts as per your requirements. However, it is important to choose the development partner carefully. 




There are a few things and questions that you should keep in mind while hiring such mobile apps development professionals or services. They are listed below:
  •  Does the company have experience in Android App Development? 

    You should always run a check on the company or the professionals you are hiring. It is important to know whether they have experience in developing mobile applications and publishing them on the Android Market. Check their portfolios for development history and screen shots. In case they have listed links to their work on their website, it is a good idea to go through them to get a broader overview of their technical and innovation skills.

  • Can the company conceptualize and develop a User friendly App? 

    It is important that the firm  you are planning to hire has the capability to generate an appealing, user-friendly application. The Android app development company should possess the aptitude to visualize the concept for your app, design it in a creative manner and deploy it for your niche / target market. If they are unable to come up with a  fresh concept or are unable to deliver on your given concept, then it’s a waste of time to hire such a company’s service or professionals.

  • Can the company provide support and upgrade services? 

    The most crucial part prior to, while using an app, or releasing it to your niche is the right technical assistance. So, it is essential that you hire a company that can help you fix bugs, offer upgrades, and provide client support services. Organizations that have a large Android  development team including designers, developers, and testers should be preferred over others while hiring, especially if they have eCommerce portal development or software development experience.

  • Is the company capable of porting Apps to other platforms? 

    Expand your scope of earnings by choosing a company or developer that has good experience in porting an Android App to other platforms including iPhone and Windows.  After launching on the Android OS, you might need to reach a broader target market by creating something for the iOS and Windows platform. A firm that has technical know-how across all these platforms will help you achieve better positioning in the market.

Android app development can be a profitable step for your business. With one app, you can interact and reach out to its 100 million plus users. As an SMB, prior to selecting a company for Android development, make sure you have answers to the questions raised above. Careful consideration of credentials is essential when mobile app quality needs to be given utmost importance.


Thursday, 4 February 2016

3 Major Digital Trends for Retailers in 2016

The retail industry is undergoing a transformation. If 2015 can be considered the year of the mobile, 2016 will demand optimization of a mobile strategy. Take a look at the top 3 digital marketing trends for the retail industry for 2016:


  • Location: Beacons are increasingly being used in the retail sector. In the start of 2015, BI Intelligence forecasted that beacons would influence $44 million in retail sales by 2016. A must have for retailers, beacons detect a consumer's location and send push alerts with offers or other useful information to their phones. For instance, a clothing store can send a coupon to a customer near their store or when he/she is close to a competitor's business.
  • Micro-Moments: This is not just another marketing buzzword. Micro-Moments happen every time a user picks up the phone to search for information or to kill time. Most of us check our phones multiple times in a day to check emails, look for eating joints or indulge in price comparisons if we're shopping. Retailers need to bank on these micro-moments by sending appropriate push messages to grab a customer's attention.
  • Personalization: As consumers, most of us prefer to shop from retailers who provide a personalized shopping experience. This is also the key to a successful marketing strategy. Some of the major big box retailers use personalization in their email and re-marketing efforts. eCommerce may do this via product recommendations, style guides, customized site navigation etc.

Do you agree with the prediction? What other trends do you forecast for 2016?

Mobile App Design Best Practices for Better User Experience

Mobile user experience refers to a user’s perception and feelings before, during and after using your mobile app. For any developer, user experience (UX) should be the top priority as it can make or break your app.

enterprise mobile app development


Some of the mobile app design best practices to improve user experience are as follows:

Identify the users
As a mobile app design best practice, you should start with identifying the kind of users you want to target. Generally, there are two kinds of users: 
  1. Hunters – looking for specific information or wanting to do a specific task quickly
  2. Gatherers – wanting to browse around or fill in time, not so concerned with a specific outcome.
The design should be decided according to your target audience, in order to enhance mobile user experience.

Result oriented design
Mobile app design should adopt the bottom-up approach, after deciding what action you want your user to perform. You then move upwards, deciding and enhancing your app with the required elements that can provide the right feel to your users. For users, mobile applications are a tool for completing tasks efficiently and in less time. Hence, your app should be such that it enables the user to do just that. You should try to sense their intent and design it in a way that they are swiftly able to complete their task, resulting in a great user experience.

If you are designing a mobile app which already has a web presence, you should keep in mind that 80% of the users will be using just 20% of its functionality. In order to keep the UX consistent, identify how consumers interact with your website and what functionality is used most. Then, for better mobile UX, you can offer these features and make sure that those vital 20% are easy and intuitive to use.

Clutter-free clean UI
To design a rich app, you should avoid crowding your controls and give breathing room to your control buttons. This helps in reducing the ‘tap error rate’ and inconveniences that the user might face. A clean and simple UI will enable the user to interact better with the app. In this day and age of cut-throat competition, it is important to create a good first impression by delivering a great user experience. Customer reviews, word of mouth marketing and social media are great sources to market your apps. 

Factor in interruptions
With mobile devices, interruptions are unavoidable, be it external or internal, which may affect the user experience. Hence it is important that you factor in such interruptions while designing. The design should be simple with a clean interface, which helps reduce the cognitive load on your user, making it less likely for them to disengage from your app.

    These are some of the basic mobile app design best practices to consider while developing a successful mobile app.