Is this the future – High street to iStreet?

By Jon Worley, Director of Customer Interactions at The Logic Group

 

It’s unimaginable to envisage a supermarket with no customers, no check outs – manned or unmanned, gondola ends with tons of offers, and even the smell of freshly baked bread. But actually, Tesco has five and walk-in customers aren’t welcome. They’re not on the high street or even on retail parks. That’s because they are ‘dark stores’. They exist to serve the ever-growing needs for online shopping.

It’s ironic really: Tesco opened its latest ‘dark store’ in January and it created 700 jobs. In contrast, BlockBuster and HMV were slow to respond to the fast moving Internet-enabled business model, leading them into the red. Continue reading

How to build an effective Christmas email marketing campaign

By Abi Jacks, Head of Marketing at Pure360

 

The festive season is upon us and many businesses and consumers alike are getting ready for Christmas. With UK shoppers spending £7bn online over Christmas, 50% of which is spent in the first two weeks of December, now is the time for your business to show off its customer services skills in order to push for those extra sales. Continue reading

Online retailers expect bumper Christmas

By Simon Norris, leading design psychologist and CEO of digital agency Nomensa

 

Mobile is now an established part of the retail experience and it is therefore not surprising that approximately £1 billion of goods will be bought via mobile devices during the first two weeks of December.

People expect a mobile site experience to be a continuation of what they would expect when using traditional desktop channels. The best way to think about design interactions that cross channels and re-cross channels is an ‘experience ecology’, a living system of possible interactions where everything is connected.

Browsing and buying patterns of behaviour are emerging simply because of the different technologies that are available to us and as designers, we need to appreciate that every site experience is different so we can no longer generalise about the interaction experience.

The best experiences need to reflect behaviour and people expect different things from different sites. The idea of a one size fits all approach to e-commerce will not be relevant or leverage commercial value (ROI).

The need for organisations to provide meaningful cross-channel experiences that allow people to easily interchange between channels is becoming and more and more of a necessity.

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In the future we can expect to see behavioural patterns of group shopping emerging online which is a more socially engaging experience and digital experiences will need to reflect this to smoothly blend a total experience regardless of channel or device.

However, there is no point having good user experience if accessibility on the site is not part of it, explains Léonie Watson, director of accessibility at Nomensa.

Léonie says, “Although good user experience is essential to adding credibility to the site andhelps increase sales, online retailers are falling at the first hurdle if the website is not digitally accessible to everyone.”

Although the combined spending power of disabled people in the UK is £80 billion a year, many online retailers are failing to understand the importance of digital accessibility. They are not catering for the widest possible customer base and with an estimated 11 million disabled people in the UK today, they are excluding a huge number of potential online consumers.

Logistically, buying Christmas shopping online is often easier and usually more preferable for people with disabilities due to issues like physical mobility, sight difficulties when battling a very busy mall or shopping centre.

Although it is estimated that internet sales are set to hit more than 4 billion in the first two weeks of December, online retailers can increase their sales and expand their audience demographic further by realising and understanding the importance of making websites accessible to everyone.

9 Great E-Commerce Ideas for Christmas

By Andreas Kopatz, Manager Product Marketing, Intershop

 

Christmas is a busy time, especially for the retail sector. Here are some ideas to attract shoppers and boost sales:

1. Run Promotions

Promotions are the wheel that keeps Christmas shopping going. You may want to make sure you run them consistently across all channels, as you don’t want shoppers to be frustrated because the in-store offer does not align to the e-commerce promotion. The message is, no matter where they buy, the deal is the same.

However, if you want to encourage people to use new channels, say because you have just launched your mobile channel, then use a different approach. Vary promotions between channels to entice shoppers to visit your new mobile store so they get familiar with it. You can push customers to the most cost effective channel to maximize margins, or enable them to shop through the channel that they like best – and then cross promote to other channels from time to time.

2. Introduce A/B Testing

Implement A/B Testing into your website. A/B Testing compares the effectiveness of two versions of a web page, promotion or similar, in order to find out which version has the better response or higher sales conversion rate. It provides an evidence-based means of tweaking marketing strategies until they are as effective as they can be, and is the magic bullet that will help you maximise the success of seasonal promotions.

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3. The ‘Advent Calendar’

Try offering a specific product each day for a special price. Make this advent calendar prominent on your e-commerce site and send a daily ‘open the door’ email.

4. Promotion Combinability

On any given day an e-commerce site can easily have a handful of promotions underway, such as free shipping, 20% off discounts, half price items, and discounts on specific categories. However, most e-commerce systems will only allow one effective promotion to be applied. This is a short cut for not wanting to analyse how different promotions combine, but it can be a deterrent to sales since most people want to get half price and free shipping. And if they have to make a choice, it might be to go elsewhere. So, give yourself a useful Christmas gift – the ability to combine multiple promotions at the same time.

5. Daily Shopping Period

This is one simple way to help the very busy shoppers. Start a daily shopping period at a set time, lunch time or evenings for example, where people will get the most popular items on your e-commerce site together with a special Christmas gift and/or promotion.

6. Collect Data

Think ahead. Help prepare for Christmas 2013 by collecting as much analytical data as possible now. You’ll be glad you did when planning next year’s promotional campaigns.

7. Think CSR

Consumers get savvier about where their purchases originated and how they were made, so consider Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Sometimes this is more powerful than another special offer.

8. Hold Events

If you are a bricks and mortar retailer, try inviting your customers to a Christmas event at your local store. Celebrate a Christmas party combined with an offer or promotion. Use your e-commerce site to drive attendance by offering special deals to be had at the event.

9. Santa is Coming to Your House!

Let shoppers place orders to be hand-delivered by Santa, gift wrapped to their home. This is a very special delivery method and it might only work in your local area so be mindful not to over promise.

UK online Mega Monday retail sales increase in 2012

IBM analysis of UK online retail traffic and sales during Mega Monday (Dec 3) found that sales and traffic from mobile devices continue to increase significantly year-on-year.

The influence of the iPad continues to rise dramatically, with the Apple tablet accounting for 10.6 percent of online shopping, an increase of 194.4 percent over 2011 on the same day. However, shoppers are spending less on a similar number of items, with online average order value down by £5.

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The analysis is based on findings from the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark, the industry’s only cloud-based Web analytics platform that tracks e-commerce transactions, analysing raw data from 150 retailers in the UK.

The analysis found that the number of consumers using their mobile device to make purchase increase to 14.2 percent, up from 9.7 percent in 2011 on the same day.

Mobile traffic increased as the number of consumers using a mobile device to visit a retailer’s site reached 21.7 percent, up from 12.6 percent in 2011 on the same day.

The iPad generated more traffic than any other tablet or smart phone, accounting for 10.6 percent of online shopping, an increase of 194.4 percent over 2011 on the same day. This was followed by iPhone at 6.9 percent and Android 4 percent

The analysis also found that more people are choosing to shop online. There was a 10.4 percent increase in online sales from shoppers referred from social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube, compared to the previous year.

Shoppers spent £100.16 on average per online transaction this year, compared to £105.10 last year, while the number of items per order remained similar at 3.52 compared to 3.96 per cart last year. Online sales increased by 15.8 percent compared to the same day in 2011.

The statistics show that Mega Monday is continuing to grow popularity and that consumers are becoming tech-savvy as they choose to shop more online than opting to walk the high streets.


Nearly one in five Christmas presents to be bought on Cyber Monday

Nearly one fifth (18 per cent) of all Christmas shopping is expected to take place on Cyber Monday with 65 per cent of people planning on taking part, research revealed today.

Just under 40 per cent of all Christmas shopping will be done online and consumers will spend an average of £102 each on Cyber Monday, found research commissioned by Trusted Shops, Europe’s leader in online accreditation.

The survey of 2,000 consumers, conducted by OnePoll, also revealed that more than a quarter (28 per cent) of shoppers plan on spending in excess of £100, but despite the huge sales many shoppers reported they were unwilling to shop with online retailers that were not familiar or trustworthy.

“Many shoppers are struggling financially this year, but we can see expectations are still at an all time high for Cyber Monday,” said Jean-Marc Noel, co-founder and managing director of Trusted Shops. “It’s vital that retailers ensure their websites and teams are ready for what could be a record breaking day.”

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Despite IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group) estimating that £4.6bn will be spent by online consumers during peak Christmas shopping weeks (Dec 3 & Dec 10) Trusted Shops’ research found that more than 26 per cent of people reported they would be spending less this Christmas compared to last year.

60 per cent said they would be spending the same as last year, and only 11 per cent said they plan on spending more.

It’s also clear that shoppers are not ready to risk what money they do have to spend in the run up to Christmas with 23 per cent of people saying they would never shop with an online store they were not familiar with despite cheap offers. Another 35 per cent said they would only shop with an online retailer that was displaying genuine online accreditation such as a trustmark.

“Good deals are not enough any more.  Consumers might be hurting, but they’re still very savvy and can be suspicious of online retailers offering deals that are too good to be true,” add Mr Noel.

E-tailers prepare for the busiest day of the year

Online retailers are preparing for the busiest day of the year as consumers begin their pre-Christmas shopping sprees, also known as Cyber Monday.

Website performance specialist, NCC Group, monitors the performance of the UK’s leading e-tailers throughout the year.

Bob Dowson, Director at NCC Group, gave us an insight into what e-tailers need to do to ensure that they satisfy their customers at the most busiest time of the year.

“Typically we see e-tail websites demonstrate faster download speeds but greater periods of downtime over the last three months of the year.

Web optimisation is prioritised over the festive period because these sites know they will generate higher visitor numbers and crucial sales, which is why they typically run most quickly during those weeks. However, excessive traffic can force sites offline if they haven’t been adequately load tested and prepared accordingly. As such we tend to see greater periods of downtime over the Christmas period.

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“So-called ‘Mega Monday’ is a useful marker for e-tailers because it opens the Christmas shopping season. But the reality is that online shopping is frenetic throughout December – it’s usually quick and convenient, so people don’t have to plan a particular Christmas shopping day. The performance changes we see within December itself are negligible.

“As e-tailers continue to enhance customers’ options for shopping on mobile devices, ‘anytime, anywhere’ shopping will increase and it will get even harder for companies to predict days of heaviest traffic. The lesson for businesses is clear – prioritise customer experience and load testing well in advance of predicted busy periods, to ensure you can cope with and capitalise on the rise of the mobile, online shopper.”

UK retailers missing millions in lost online sales

By Daniel Hunter

Aspect Software has announced new research that reveals that the UK retail industry could be losing millions of pounds worth of online sales from customers that simply click away from a full basket.

In fact, when asked if they acted on abandoned baskets, 52 per cent of retailers claimed that they currently did not, with 12 per cent saying that they had no plans to introduce a recuperation strategy.

Conducted over the summer of 2012, Aspect’s, who are a leading provider of customer contact and enterprise workforce optimisation, study surveyed 150 UK retailers with annual revenue of over £100m, and looked at what retailers were doing to better engage the next generation of consumers and increase sales.

Despite an overwhelming number of retailers (99 per cent) agreeing that recouping abandoned baskets on online stores would increase their sales, just over a third (37 per cent) are currently employing the use of technology in the contact centre to do so, such as sending a personalised email to the customer.

On average, retailers claimed that sales increased by, or expected them to increase by, 13 per cent a year. And of those that have an abandoned basket recuperation strategy or are planning/considering it, 81 per cent follow up/plan to follow up with customers within 24 hours.

The study, which analysed the current and future customer engagement strategies used by UK retailers, also discovered that multi-channel retailing, better use of automation in the contact centre and home working for agents are all key trends to monitor over the next 18 months.

For customer engagement, the survey also found that mobile applications and SMS prove to be the most popular channels, with 27 per cent of retailers currently using one or both and increasing to 34 per cent and 26 per cent respectively. By the end of 2014, 46 per cent will purchase mobile applications.

“With nine in ten medium to large UK retailers trading through more than one channel by 2014 and eight in ten with an online store, retailers are increasingly investing in online technology and resources to battle the effects of the double-dip recession and the closure of 14 physical outlets per day,” stated Richard Piatkowski, Head of Retail Accounts at Aspect.

“Even for the smaller end of the sample surveyed, the average actual or expected increase in sales represents £13m. The good news is it looks like things are changing — 36 per cent of retailers did say that they were seriously planning abandoned basket recuperation strategy, or considering it long-term.

“There are UK retailers using customer engagement technology in some pretty clever ways. In the past, I think it’s fair to say that retailers weren’t great at making the most of their online presence and using it for engagement and driving loyalty effectively, but today’s consumer just won’t accept bog-standard ‘we will get back to you within 48 hours’-type emails any longer. Those adapting and improving their service through seeking benefits from the progressing market are those surviving.”