Author Topic: Customer Follow up and eCommerce  (Read 20102 times)

Offline David M. Graham

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Customer Follow up and eCommerce
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2010, 11:39:05 PM »
Separated by miles and sometimes hours from clients, it can be easy to fall into the trap of believing that orders just appear in a shopping cart by magic and lose track of just how important and beneficial a solid customer relationship can be.  Even when a store owner avoids the trap, it is still hard to achieve and maintain a meaningful connection with their customers.

Some store owners seem to have a knack for it, making it appear easier than it is for others.  It's not.  Even if spending an hour or two a day in a discussion group, forum or chat room comes naturally - its still a serious demand on that rare commodity - time.  So, when you find a good tool that helps facilitate managing relationships its as valuable as gold...

Recently, it was my pleasure to discover one such nugget - Mailbeez.

Mailbeez is an addon for osCommerce, xt-commerce,  Zen Cart and CRE Loaded.  It may also work on osCMax - I have yet to see any mention of it on the authors site.  Mailbeez automates ecommerce email.  It does so in a variety of ways.  The most significant thing about it may not be what it does now, but what contributors may make it do in the future.  Because this is a complete email automation plugin framework - not just a focused single purpose contribution.

I was pretty excited because it meets a serious need in the community - the ability to generate meaningful notification and follow up emails in the post order processing phase of store operations,  and it can do quite a bit more.

We're just getting started working with it.  I've done 3 installations recently, all on CRE Loaded sites, each with the Product Review module.  This is probably one of the 3 most useful plugins released so far from the store owner standpoint.

It checks for orders which have been set to a desired status after a configured period of time (in days) and over a configured interval (in days).   Then, it compiles lists of the products ordered and the customers who ordered them and builds an email that requests product reviews by specific products with direct links in the email.  Did I mention that the emails are TEMPLATED?

Wow.

I was in love with the darn thing before I even started seeing the results.

Well, that may be a bit of an overstatement, especially if my wife is reading this - but still..

The first site I installed it on was a site which has been in operation for at least 8 years, and had only gathered 8 reviews on an inventory about a thousand products with over 20,000 orders.  With  only minor adjustment to the basic email template, we set this up for an interval of 90 days, and a lapse of 5 days - then ran the system manually after previewing the mail to make sure we had our image links working.   This taught me to pay attention when the author suggested waiting a couple of weeks after shipping the order.  The first 2 days after that were not terribly impressive in terms of results.  Nada.

Then, we set the delay out to 15 days, the interval out to 180 and sent them again.  No duplicates were sent - the plugin tracks its mailing and skips previously contacted customers.  But, within 48 hours we had tripled the number of reviews on the cart.   Combine that with an RSS feed of product reviews I'd previously placed on the cart, and we had 90% of those indexed by Google within 72 hours.  Better.

The next cart I installed it on was a smaller site, serving a narrower niche market, operated by an experienced store owner who is a habitual correspondent.  She took a hand in updating the contents of the email template, suggested a bit longer delay and the results were fantastic.  From a base of ZERO reviews (after 6 to 8 years of operations with 1500 or so products), we hit 21 reviews in the first 24 hours.  72 hours out, and we hit 60 reviews.

Not bad at all!

It is a little early to predict the impact on these carts in terms of long term operations - but more content directly from customers is a good thing.  Valuable feedback is being received where none was before, and both the customer and store owner are saving some time.  I rather expect that we've established a nice start on building meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships and long term business growth.....

David

« Last Edit: August 09, 2010, 11:47:17 AM by David M. Graham »