Personal Finance Interview with José Carlos Cortizo Pérez on eCommerce for Mint.com
When he was a teenager José Carlos Cortizo Pérez loved buying music at a small shop near his house.
"I loved that, as soon as I entered the store, Jose, the store manager, started to choose music and tried in the stereo," he says. "I always spent all my savings in that store, because the shopping experience and the personal touch made me feel comfortable and special."
The chief marketing officer of BrainSINs, a leading provider of ecommerce personalization solutions, says that online retailers need to replicate the kind of unique shopping experiences he enjoyed at that record store, because if customers feel they are special they are more likely to buy from that store.
And in addition to personalizing shopping experiences, Jose says retailers need to make it fast and easy for customers to find what they are looking for and buy it without a lot of hassle.
"If we don't help our customers to find what they are looking for, and they have to navigate through all of our catalog to find what they are looking for, in most cases they would spend more time buying online than going to a near store location," he says.
BrainSINs aims to fix these common problems that small- and medium-sized businesses face online by offering tools to improve the user experience on ecommerce sites.
We recently checked in with Jose to learn more about BrainSINs and find out what all online retailers should be doing to boost traffic and sales.
Can you give us a little background on BrainSINS? What services do you offer?
BrainSINS is a global company offering a 360º Personalization Solution for eCommerce. Our solution helps online retailers boost their conversion and sales by means of personalizing their customers' user experiences in their eCommerce store.
We started BrainSINS because we realized that most online shopping experience were very poor. When you go to a physical store, you receive a personalize attention from their employees. They ask what you are looking for and try to find the products that best fit your interests, or if you are a recurring customer, they know your tastes and preferences and show you new products that may be of your interest.
But when you access an online store, you have to navigate through an extensive catalog with no further help. BrainSINS learns from each user, and automatically generates a user profile for each customer. Then, the solution is able to show each visitor the products that are more suitable according to each user profile. That decreases the time needed to find interesting products, and increases the average conversion.
Who should be using your services?
BrainSINS is designed for small- and medium-sized online retailers that do not have a lot of technical resources. BrainSINS can be integrated within major eCommerce CMS (Magento, Prestashop, Shopify) in minutes, and the configuration of the solution is pretty simple. We know most SMBs do not have enough technical resources to integrate complex solutions, so our main focus has been to design a simple to integrate, yet powerful solution to help online SMBs.
What is your 360 eCommerce Personalization Solution?
BrainSINS' 360º eCommerce Personalization Solution is an all-in-one solution for eCommerce Personalization. It includes four main products that help online stores to personalize different channels and online shopping experiences:
1. Product Recommendations: As BrainSINS learns the tastes and preferences from each user's behavior, it knows what kind of products have a higher probability to be bought. So with product recommendations, you can offer your customers a personalized selection of products in different parts of your online store. For instance, most of our customers offer personalized recommendations in their home page, cross-selling and alternative products in the product page, a selection of personalized products in the category page, and cross-selling in the cart page. You can easily define the recommendation strategy in each page type, and BrainSINS does the hard work.
2. Email Retargeting: BrainSINS is also able to personalize email communications, and all the features related to email personalization are included in our Email Retargeting product. You can automate sending emails to recover abandoned carts, or sending automatic newsletters with personalized products. With this product, the time to create a newsletter drops by 30 to 90 percent, and the revenues generated by the email increases by 46 percent. You can learn more about email personalization by reading: http://blog.hubspot.com/ecommerce/email-marketing-ecommerce-websites-personalization
3. Behavioral Targeting: Behavioral Targeting allows our customers to define segments of users based on their behavior, and interact with those segments by modifying our eCommerce website to fit their interests. For instance, you can define a personalization rule that states that you want to show a discount to every customer that has purchased more than five products in the last month.
4. eCommerce Gamification: We are adding a new product to our all-in-one solution. A gamification platform specifically designed for eCommerce websites, and focused on increasing loyalty. We are testing this new product with a few clients, but in a few weeks it will be available as part of our solution.
What do you think are the biggest mistakes online retailers make when trying to make a sale?
From my point of view, the biggest mistake when starting and online store is to think that the most important part of the business is the technological platform. I've talked to hundreds of entrepreneurs in the eCommerce ecosystem and most of them invest a lot of money in the platform and then they invest a small fraction of the total budget in what is more critical: user experience, marketing, CRO, etc.
There exist amazing tools such as Shopify, Big Commerce, Volusion, etc. that are awesome solutions to test an online business. Using those tools, you only need to invest a small fraction of your total budget in the eCommerce platform, so you can invest more in what is more important for your business: creating a nice user experience oriented to conversion, attract new customers and give awareness to your brand, discover new providers that would allow you to have offer more diversity of products, etc.
What are the smartest things online retailers can do to boost sales?
Provide an awesome customer experience and service. Not only by means of personalization, but also providing communications channels to solve customer's enquiries (chat, email, phone), stating clear your value proposition in your website (refunds policy, shipping information, etc.) and providing the best possible info about the products you sell (photographs, videos, reviews, descriptions...).
You must offer your customers what you want to be offered when you are buying in any other online store. I usually refer to Amazon as a good example of awesome customer experience, because Amazon helps you to discover interesting products, then give you a lot of info about the products, reviews to check if the product fits your interests, and also an awesome customer service, with easy and fast refunds, you always know when the product will arrive your home, etc.
What are features every online store should include?
If you develop your online store using standard CMS such as Magento, Prestashop, Shopify, BigCommerce, etc. your online store will have the basic features needed to sell online, and also would have access to apps/extensions marketplaces to easily add new features as needed.
Most of the additional features you can add to your online store, depends on your specific needs. But there are several interesting features that most online stores should think on, such as integration with their CRM/ERP to automate most internal processes, rich snippets to improve the SEO performance, include different views of the products on their photos to increase customer's confidence on what they are buying, and also any tool that helps their customers to share information about products or you online store in social networks.
How can online retailers improve their customers' experience on any device?
Responsive design is the answer for most online stores. With a good responsive design, you can deliver a good user experience in any device, while not needing to invest in specific designs for each device. The problem with most responsive designs is that they relocate design elements according to the dimensions of the device, but they are delivering the same images and icons than in the web version. It's important that your responsive design is able to deliver different images and icon sizes according to each device, because most mobile users would access your online store through a slow connection, and if you do not adapt the images (that are responsible for most of the information sent to the browser), the user experience from a mobile device would be frustrating.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting innovations within e-commerce right now?
eCommerce is an exciting market because it's still in its early years, so there are a lot of new innovations each month. I really love innovations that are related to cross-channel strategies, and technologies that helps retailers to offer a personalized an integrated experience through all possible devices. Some of the technologies that I'm interested on related to eCommerce: iBeacon and Bluetooth 4.0 that enables retailers to deliver in-store messages, mobile payments and how gamification can help to define more interactive and successful loyalty programs.