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Are Cookies Good or Bad for Your eCommerce Health?

My Post - 2020-03-13T121600.335.pngCookie Monster has gone on a diet and, when it comes to Internet cookies, so has much of your audience. Every site we visit today comes with a notification about cookies and many times we now have to opt-in. It’s a little confusing and is causing some eCommerce stores to think about dropping cookies from their sites.

Don’t do it.

Cookies are a vital and healthy part of a successful online store and a smart path to growing your customer base. Here’s the low-down on the sometimes snack that should be a permanent part of your eCommerce diet.

What Are Cookies, Exactly?

Cookies are small text files that are stored by a visitor’s web browser in their directory or data folders. They store information, which can be encrypted, that is relevant to a website or web service. Sometimes a cookie can contain login credentials, so you don’t need to re-enter your username and password. Other cookies may store an identifier about you for the purpose of showing relevant information.

Today, eCommerce stores often use cookies to help provide customized shopping experiences, from advertising to showing preferred products or even seeking out customers who have abandoned shopping carts.

That range of benefits comes from two major types of cookies:

1. Session Cookies: These cookies stay on a browser and keep information until the browser closes. They don’t persist so that the website would treat this person as a new visitor each time.

2. Persistent Cookies: Cookies with a lifespan that lasts until a predetermined time or until they are cleared, usually with browser cache. These persist after a browser is closed and are often tied to things like login credentials, shopping carts, and more.

When a customer visits your eCommerce store, your site can record their activity and place related information in the cookie and put that in their browser. Based on the cookie type and your website’s information, a variety of information and action can be tied to this cookie.

How Can Cookies Be Important?

For eCommerce, cookies are often about knowing your user and gaining insight into your customers. Cookies can track activity as someone moves between pages and products, see what they click on, check their cart and much more.

Cookies allow you to track a variety of information safely as well. For example, you don’t have to store a customer’s Zip code on your website or in your database but instead can use a cookie. Then, when they visit your site, you can display local information based on the data that is stored in the cookie on the visitor’s machine. Your site is reacting to the data that the cookie provides.

This gives you the ability to personalize content without keeping (and potentially losing or facing theft of) many types of visitor details. It can also power a variety of marketing and social media content.

Which Cookie Uses Make Sense for eCommerce?

There are a few different eCommerce options for cookies that just plain make sense. They’re typically unobtrusive and are built to help users get a better experience. These will impact activities on your website as well as the ads they see on other websites.

Here are a few of the options that you should consider for your site’s cookies:

– Storing log-in information: This allows you to give benefits, coupons, and more to your customers without consistently asking them to log into their accounts. It’s a must-have if you want to use a loyalty program that can give gains.

– Shopping carts: For eCommerce sites, perhaps the earliest and most common use was to generate shopping carts. The cookie stores the information locally, which allows shopping carts to work for everyone. You don’t need to force people to log in to a website or do any other data, as their choices are stored already. This is likely already built into whatever system you’re using for your eCommerce platform and should not cause any concern for you or your customers.

– Retargeting campaigns: You can use a cookie to determine if someone has visited your site but not made a purchase, or if they’ve made a purchase and you would like them to make another. Some tools also support a very important type of retargeting that supports delivering ads to users who have abandoned shopping carts to encourage them to return to your store and finish the process. This is a great way to improve conversions and even land an up-sell, though requires you to work through a platform such as AdWords to reach them.

Those are the three most-common cookie techniques for ecommerce and they’re a smart way to get started. If you’re currently running these efforts or want to start them and more at once, you do have some more advanced options available. Making the most of these will require you to look at your business across the long-term, not just your next sale. – Read more