5 Must-haves When Choosing a Hosting Provider for eCommerce


Teledata will be exhibiting at this year’s eCommerce Show North. The below blog was written by James Burns and originally appeared on their website.


There are plenty of hosting providers on the market today who offer so-called “eCommerce hosting” services.

In reality, however, there are many different ways you can host a successful online store: any dedicated or cloud server with a high enough spec can be used to run popular eCommerce platforms such as Magento and WooCommerce, and you could also start from scratch and build your website within a more flexible IaaS environment.

However, regardless of whether or not you decide to sign up with a self-proclaimed eCommerce hosting expert, some things should be non-negotiable when choosing a hosting provider for an eCommerce website.

Here are five examples.

1. Security for customer data

It’s impossible to run an online store without handling large amounts of customer data that needs to be kept secure. If your website’s security is compromised, some of the repercussions could include fines under GDPR, loss of customers and lasting reputation damage – all of which could be enough to sink a business in the ultra-competitive world of ecommerce. This is especially true in the current climate where data and privacy concerns are big news and increasingly in the consciousness of your customers.

As such, it pays to compliment your own security measures by working with a PCI DSS-conscious, security-savvy provider that can help you with compliance and won’t expose you to unnecessary risk by failing to keep on top of security patching, for example, or by using low-quality data centre and cloud infrastructure partners.

Another consideration is whether your provider will supply your website’s SSL certificate and keep this up to date, or whether this falls on you.

2. Suitable data centre locations

In a cloud-centric world, it can be tempting to take the view that your provider’s data centre is out of sight and out of mind. However, we wouldn’t recommend that an ecommerce business turns a blind eye to data centre location as it can have a significant impact on the speed of their website for the customers they want to sell to. According to one stat from Google, more than half (57%) of mobile shoppers will abandon a website if a page takes more than three seconds to load.

The takeaway? If you want to sell to customers in the UK, choose a UK data centre – and, if your provider can’t confirm where your website will be hosted, look elsewhere.

For some companies, data centre location could also be a critical compliance factor as it may be considered a compliance risk to let personal data leave UK shores.

3. DR capabilities

In addition to a primary data centre that meets your requirements around latency and data residency, check that your provider can offer some level of protection against prolonged unplanned downtime and data loss. Examples could include offering remote storage as standard for backups, offering automated backups of your entire environment, or more sophisticated disaster recovery (DR) solutions such as DRaaS.

4. Quality support

Nothing can make or break the relationship between an ecommerce business and its hosting provider quite like quality of support. There is, after all, a direct link between the performance and availability of an online store and its ability to make money, and it’s more than a little frustrating to work with providers that don’t understand this and aren’t able to offer fast, outcome-focused support when there’s unplanned downtime or a speed issue to fix.

To get a feel for the quality of support on offer from a particular provider, we recommend you look for references from other customers, find out whether their support is inclusive and check which channels you can use to access support (whether they offer phone support, for example).

It’s also worth talking to their support staff about your requirements upfront, as a decent provider should be able to offer some advice on the best setup for your website and the best way to move from your current provider as smoothly as possible. Indeed, the extent to which you’re granted pre-sales access to support teams and how they perform is a very worthwhile and revealing exercise. It’s a great way of testing the water before you make a decision on your hosting provider – so pick up the phone and see how you get on.

5. Industry track record

Finally, choosing a supplier with a proven track record in the ecommerce world is a good way to ensure your hosting provider understands the common challenges and must-haves for online retailers and ecommerce agencies, and has experience of delivering against them successfully. Again: any provider can offer a commodity server product that has a high enough spec to run Magento or another popular ecommerce platform, but far fewer can offer glowing references from customers who trust them with multiple websites.

Getting Started With Collating and Managing Your Product Information


Pimberly are Event Partners for this year’s eCommerce Show North. The below article was originally published on their website.


You’ve read all about the benefits of rich, well-managed product information for your business and you’re ready to get started. But how do you set yourself up for the challenge of collating all your product data?

And more importantly ­­– where do you start?

The key to integrating product information practices in your organisation comes down to three things: process, people and technology. Taking control of these three factors will create efficiencies and savings within your product information processes, improving the handling of data to create a self-supporting cycle that works both ways.

Process

Your product information goes on a real journey to get to your customers. It’s key to map out and understand all aspects of this journey to best identify how you can improve your processes. You could increase SEO and traffic, improve the customer experience, increase conversions and average order value.

Very often, your product information processes are down to timing. The right people need to see the right information, about the right products, at the right time. While this might sound tricky, this is exactly what a good PIM can help you achieve.

You’ll also need to decide which products or product lines are priorities. For example, it will be vital that some products appear on your eCommerce site on launch day, whereas other ranges may be appropriate for seasonal roll outs.

Equally, some products require much more information to be available to customers than others. If you’re listing kitchen supplies, you’re going to need a lot more technical and sizing information for a cooker than you would for a wooden spoon. Putting time and effort into understanding how your product data should be structured will have endless benefits later on.

When it comes to starting data migration, we’ve taken a layered approach to the process. This way you can quickly identify, diagnose and solve any issues that arise in your data model, and avoid the pitfalls of traditional systems. It also allows everyone to get familiar and confident with the system as the implementation rolls out, benefitting everyone in the long run.

People

It’s imperative to have the key people in all your teams onside when implementing a new system such as PIM. People throughout your organisation must embrace change. Everyone must be open to the possibilities of gaining benefits from doing things a new way.

In order to do this, you must provide everyone with the necessary information and training they will need to do their job effectively. Without the right technology in place, your skilled copywriters and product managers can get stuck wasting time on data collection and entry. A strong PIM system lets them get on with doing what they do best. They can focus on adding value for themselves and ultimately improving the quality of work they produce. This further improves your product information, which improves your employees’ experience and quality of work.

Freeing your creative teams up to produce lifestyle content and link this to your products is the key to creating a rich experience for your customers. This allows you to elevate the online experience beyond what customers can get. Even in brick and mortar stores, giving customers the chance to explore everything a product has to offer can lead to better sales. These cross and up-sell opportunities are uniquely accessible in an eCommerce setting and something not to be missed out on.

Technology

Having the right technology supporting your PIM processes and people is obviously vital. Once that step is working correctly, all the technology throughout your business will harmonise and work more effectively.

When selecting a new piece of technology to help manage your product information, you need a tool that’s going to:

  • Take product data from any upstream systems.
  • Take and share product data with suppliers, distributors, customers, retailers, data aggregator.
  • Manage your enrichment process.
  • Collaborate on product data with parties external to your organization (photographers, translators, copy writers, marketers etc).
  • Send data to websites, Apps, market places, comparison sites, resellers, international sites etc.
  • Hold a single source of all your rich product information in a single, easily accessible location for all parties.

We knew this when we were building Pimberly – so that’s exactly what it does.

There is a two-way support network between product information and the processes, people and technology within your business. Keeping a mutually beneficial relationship between them allows for better SEO and traffic, improved customer experiences, increased upsell, and many more benefits.

3 Ways to Dramatically Reduce Your Return Rate


Kooomo are exhibiting at this year’s eCommerce Show North. The below blog originally appeared on their website.


Returns. They’re the bane of any online brand’s existence. 

We’re talking escalating supply chain costs. Stock that needs to be repackaged in order to be resold. Stock that can’t be resold due to seasonality, damage, or fraud. Oh, and did we mention all of the admin that’s involved?

There’s no doubt about it – returns remain to be one of the biggest challenges that online retailers face on a daily basis. Shopper expectations, partnered with the need to keep up in an outrageously competitive market means that if your returns process isn’t a) free, and b) easy, you’re going to a) miss out on potential sales, and b) lose return customers.

As a result, returns have become such a routine part of the online purchasing process that buyer’s remorse is arguably a thing of the past.

At least 30% of all products that are ordered online are returned, compared to just 8.89% of items purchased in physical stores. So we can’t help but wonder – is providing an excellent customer experience by making the returns process a piece of cake just encouraging your customers to buy more stuff, so they can return more stuff?

Well, as important as it is to create a seamless returns experience for your customers, companies often forget to focus the same attention on decreasing the rate of returns that come through in the first place.

Today we’re going to look at 3 simple ways that you can start to tackle the returns rate for your online store.

Up Your Product Description Game

About 22% of online returns are made as a result of products looking different in reality to what’s displayed on your website.

We’ve all been there. You order an item that seems to ticks all the boxes. Maybe it’s a knee-length dress that, in reality, skims your ankles because the model’s height wasn’t highlighted in the product description. Maybe it’s a watch that appeared to have an oversized face, but in reality is only the size of a 20 cent coin, because the product image didn’t show what it looked like on a wrist.

Context is everything. So your product descriptions need to be, for lack of a better term…descriptive. Detailed sizing guides, product specifications, and additional benefits should be included wherever necessary. And even if you do all of this, there’s a very good chance that your product descriptions are only going to be skimmed by shoppers. So cover all your bases with high quality, true to life product images and videos to ensure that they also tell your customers the story of exactly what the product is, who it’s for, and why they need it.

And while we’re on the topic of context, how could we not mention the mack daddy of bringing context to the purchasing experience – augmented reality.  40% of consumers would be willing to spend extra money on a product if they could experience it through augmented reality. So it might also be time to embrace AR technology to add a more sensory experience to your product pages – Sephora does it with Virtual Artist, IKEA does it with IKEA Place – so what’s it going to be for your brand?

Integrate User Generated Content & Reviews

Decreasing your returns rate is just one of the many benefits of integrating reviews and user generated content into your e-shop. In fact, there are more statistics about the power of UGC and online reviews than you can shake a stick at. 93% of customers find user-generated content to be helpful when making a purchasing decision. 71% of consumers feel more comfortable buying a product after researching user reviews. And 70% of consumers trust online peer reviews and recommendations more than professional content and copy.

So even though your online store needs to have top notch product descriptions, images, and videos, chances are that most shoppers are still going to want to see what other people who bought your product thought about it before they commit to the purchase. They want to see your products in the light of day. If you sell clothing, they want to see how they look on different body types. If you sell furniture, they want to know what kind of wear and tear can be expected. So the best thing that you can possibly do for online shoppers is to plug all of this information into your website, so that it not only adds that layer of social proof to your offering, but further supports the decision-making process, as well as the overall customer experience.
One of the best examples of a brand that has mastered leveraging user-generated content and reviews is Glossier, who attribute an incredible 90% of their revenue to word-of-mouth, free promotion. Reviews feed into every product page, with the most liked positive review and most liked negative review featuring side by side at the top of the feed for all to see. They don’t gloss over (see what we did there…) any negative reviews. All feedback is welcomed.  Meanwhile, over on Instagram, customers are encouraged to use the hashtag #glossier to share their photos and thoughts on the products – often reposted by the brand to their 1 million plus followers.

By empowering your customers with all of the information they need to make an informed decision about whether to buy your products or not, it’s going to have a knock-on effect on your rate of returns.

Get Returns Feedback That’s Relevant

You may already be gathering customer feedback in the form of checkboxes on return slips. And that’s great. But those return slips are only going to be of actual value to you if these two things are happening:

  1. You’re gathering information that’s relevant
  2. You’re actually doing something with it!

It’s all well and good discovering that the top reason for your online returns is down to items not fitting correctly, but what exactly does ‘correctly’ mean? Take it a step further and give customers the option to indicate whether the item was ‘too big’ or ‘too small’. That way, you know that you need to add more information to your product descriptions or change the positioning of the sizing guides on your product pages, for example.

Or maybe you start to notice that you’re getting an influx of returns citing ‘damage’ as the primary reason. And maybe, you just switched to a new form of packaging in a bid to offset shipping costs. Coincidence? Probably not.

You need to understand why customers are returning your products. It’s really as simple as that. Because all of those return slips will undoubtedly spell out for you what you need to do to take action and turn the returns train around.

The reality of running any kind of online store is that returns are always going to be part and parcel of the process. There’s no escaping them. And sure, you can leverage free and easy returns as a way to amplify the customer experience and even boost sales, but at the end of the day, prevention is still better than cure.

And you can bet your bottom dollar that having an online store that’s optimised to limit the rate of returns provides just as powerful a customer experience than one that makes the returns process as smooth as possible.

Retail is Changing: The Toys R Us Effect


Two Jay are a Magento Enterprise Partner and have built a strong reputation as one of the UK’s leading Magento agencies. The article below originally appeared on their website.


When it comes to eCommerce and retail, it’s about more than just a transaction. For the consumer, the decision comes down to a number of different selling points including customer experience (CX) and convenience.

In an increasingly fast-paced industry, consumers now expect more. From sophisticated search, fast checkouts, to next day (if not same day) delivery options, it is this convenience that now guides a shoppers purchasing decisions.

As someone involved in the eCommerce industry, I admire brands such as Amazon and ASOS who’s online stores hold no barriers for consumers and make purchasing super easy. Notably, these are two brands that only operate online and do not have a physical storefront which may perhaps be one of the key reasons they have been able to perfect their offering.

But, what if you fail to offer convenience online? What if you’re a retailer who generates the majority of conversions through a brick and mortar store?

Convenience vs. In-Store Experience

Iconic household name, Toys R Us collapsed into administration at the end of February. This got us thinking about how this could happen to what was once the UK’s most popular toy store. From my perspective the answers are simple, Toys R Us failed to innovate – failing to provide their customers with convenience nor an unordinary experience.

In 2000, Toys R Us didn’t believe in the power of the internet and outsourced their fulfilment to Amazon. As society became increasingly familiar with purchasing toys online and even from the supermarket whilst getting their weekly shop, the brand did not appear to implement any changes that would try to tackle this issue. Too late to the game, the brand finally invested in improving their online offering in May 2017. Streamlining their website browsing and minimising the checkout process from five or more clicks to two, the brand desperately tried to catch up on 10 years of innovation.

As an onlooker, I wonder if their lack of convenience could have been overcompensated by offering a better than average in-store experience? Driving customers to physical stores by offering unique experiences is something other traditional brick and mortar stores have successfully adopted.

A fashion retailer whose experiences are worth swapping the laptop for is Topshop – specifically its flagship store on London’s Oxford Street which uses a combination of pop-up retail and experiential campaigns. Alongside their free personal shopping service, in-store beauty salons and cafés, the store also has interactive VR displays and regular pop-ups such as Lola’s cupcakes.

For a fun brand like Toys R Us, the opportunities to innovate and break the norm could have been endless. Making the experience less about the end goal and more about the customer through simple changes such as employing engaged staff, hosting interactive toy demos or putting on children’s events and activities. Tempting customers with things they might not even realise they wanted whilst their in-store.

Innovate or Deteriorate… Fast

It’s not just Toys R Us that have filed for bankruptcy or have faced financial troubles through lack of innovation. Major brands such as HMV, Borders, Kodak, and Blockbuster have all struggled to cope with meeting the needs of the modern consumer, whilst many other brands are at risk of following suit.

The key message from this is to never live on past glories. Don’t sit still or get complacent. Regularly re-evaluate both your online and offline experience and strive to improve your CX in line, if not ahead of customer’s expectations. Put your customers first, and make sure convenience and experience are at the heart of your strategy.

3 Ways to Reduce Packaging Waste (and the Eco-Friendly Brands to Learn From)


The below article originally appeared on the Kooomo website. Kooomo will be exhibiting at this year’s eCommerce Show North.


Have you ever received a giant box in the post and thought to yourself ‘Hmm, I don’t remember ordering anything this big…have I been shopping in my sleep again?!’

Then you open the box to find that it actually consists of 50% packing peanuts, 30% inflated airbags, 10% tissue paper, and the remaining 10% is the small, non-fragile items that you purchased online (probably also wrapped in a plastic bag for good measure).

In 2017, packaging waste in Ireland grew 27% to over 7,000 tonnes for the year, equivalent to the waste generated by a town of 16,000 residents. Furthermore, a recent study by MacFarlane Packaging found that 41% of online brands are using too much packaging for their items.

With global eCommerce sales due to reach $4 trillion by 2020, there’s never been a more crucial time for brands to do their part to reduce waste and be as environmentally conscious as possible. Because not only does reducing packaging have a substantial effect on the environment, it also has a knock-on effect on overall shipping costs. Win win!

Today, we’re looking at three ways that online retailers can be greener when it comes to utilising packaging and shipping materials as well as the brands that have taken major steps towards making eCommerce a more eco-friendly space.

 Tip #1: Use recyclable and bio-degradable materials wherever possible

It goes without saying (but we’re going to say it anyway) – you should ALWAYS choose recyclable shipping materials (paper, cardboard, bubble wrap, corn-starch items, and biodegradable plastic) over their non-recyclable counterparts. Better yet – try to use 100% recycled material when shipping your products. Polystyrene (aka Styrofoam), though it can technically be recycled, typically can’t be done locally, so either ends up in a landfill, or unknowingly gets tossed in a recycle bin, where it could potentially slow down the entire recycling process by damaging the machines that sort materials. A survey by Dotcom Distribution found that 61% of online shoppers take into account how green the brand’s packaging is before they make a purchase. Therefore it’s vital that you choose your shipping materials wisely – not only for the greater good of the environment, but also to enhance your overall customer experience. One brand who has nailed both is Puma, whose ‘clever little bag’ replaced the traditional shoebox in 2010. The non-woven bag, which holds shoes in place with a single piece of cardboard is responsible for saving 8500 tonnes of paper, 1 million litres of water, and 65% of cardboard material to date.

Tip #2: Size matters

If you want to ensure that your shipping materials are as eco-friendly as possible, you MUST start sizing to fit. The average package contains approximately 40% of empty space. Not only does this mean more emissions, but it also means a greater overall costs to merchants. Every inch counts just as much as every kilogram, especially considering the fact that most shipping costs are now based on dimensional weight. What this means is that weight is no longer the dominant factor in calculating shipping rates – how much room a package will take up in a delivery truck is!

Not every brand is going to have the resources available to integrate package design technology that will optimise every last inch of packaging, but every online retailer can absolutely take small steps that will make a big difference. Simply put, there’s no such thing as a one-size fits all box in online retail. So if you’re shipping a small product to a customer, let’s say a wallet for example – does it really need to be in a double wall 305 x 220 x 220mm box? Probably not. ‘But what about products that need to have the protection that only polystyrene blocks can provide?’ you might wonder. Well, look at Dell, who developed bamboo cushioning back in 2009 as an alternative to plastic foam following customer complaints about their shipping boxes. The cushioning, which can be recycled or composted in the same way as paper has played a significant part in reducing box sizes by 10% as well as cutting 20 million pounds of packaging and an 8% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Tip #3: Think inside the box

So assuming you have optimised the sizes of your shipping boxes, there’s another conundrum to consider – should you or shouldn’t you custom brand your shipping boxes? Well, over 40% of online consumers say that branded packaging makes them more likely to recommend products to friends and are more likely to share images on social media, so yes! You should absolutely consider custom branded shipping packaging for your products. However, if you’re going to pump considerable budget into creating custom branded packaging, you should try to ensure that it serves a greater purpose than brand awareness (or even *gasp*, customer experience). If you’re branding your shipping boxes, you should take the opportunity to remove a supplementary piece of material in your shipping box.

Take Farmacy as your source of innovation inspiration. The skincare brand constructed a 6-sided origami style box to hold their jars of ‘honey potion’ face masks. The box can then be unfolded to reveal the brand story and ingredient information, removing the need to include a separate insert into each product box. Try doing something similar with your own shipping boxes. Do you typically include a card containing your brand’s social media handles and official hashtags in each shipment to encourage user-generated content? Try printing this message on the inside of the box instead! And while you’re at it, always include a message asking your customers to get involved in making the world a greener place by recycling the box and/or various ways they can repurpose it!

It’s the responsibility of every online brand to ensure that they are doing their bit to reduce their carbon footprint. At Kooomo, we’re delighted to see so many of our partners and customers making strides towards increased sustainability through shipping and otherwise. La Sportiva recycles 50% of production waste through their adoption of the eco-sustainable ISO 14001 certification. Havaianas donates 7% of the proceeds from their IPE range to the conservation of Brazilian flora and fauna projects. Butlers Chocolates locally source packaging to reduce the amount of product materials used.

As far as shipping goes, who knows – maybe one day brands will somehow be able to get orders to customers without the need for packaging. But until then, every little change can make a big difference. Maybe that is removing a single non-essential piece of packaging from your shipments. Or maybe it means altering the sizes of your shipping boxes. Whatever that change may be, any change really is better than no change at all.

Setting Up Your First AdWords Shopping Campaign


The article below originally appeared on the adaplo website. adaplo will be exhibiting at his year’s eCommerce Show North.


For starters, you are in a great position because you have already decided to start (a good start is half the battle, right?).

You have also probably done your research and found out that Shopping Campaigns are one of the main growth drivers for eCommerce stores. Truth be told, they do get 75% of the search budget of sophisticated retailers (source: Merkle Digital Quarterly report Q2 2017) and have increased their share of total store orders by 160% in the last 2 years. Therefore, they are indeed a traffic source that lives up to the hype.

To help formulate your strategy for starting Google Shopping, there are plenty of resources available online. However, if you want everything you will ever need to start Google Shopping effectively and efficiently in one place, then this short guide is for you.

We did all the research for you and, combined with our experience working with different clients in different industries and countries, we give you a closer look into:

  • The requirements for Shopping Campaigns
  • The main steps involved
  • How to monitor the performance of your ads

Requirements for Shopping Campaigns

Before we get into the details, let’s first make sure that you are eligible to launch Product Listing Ads (the “other name” of Shopping Campaigns). There are some strict requirements to fulfill so that you don’t do all the hard work only to find out that you cannot run your ads.

The most important requirements are:

  • Your product and business must abide by the Google Shopping policies. These policies are different and on top of the standard Google AdWords policies. You can read the full policy but rest assured that you cannot advertise adult products, counterfeit goods or academic cheating goods.
  • You want to sell (and run ads) on a country that supports Shopping Campaigns. Although this product is out there for quite a while, it is not yet available in all Countries. You can find the full list of countries at the bottom of this help article
  • You have the ability to send updated information to Google about your products at least every 30 days. This is really important because data quality is important to Google in order to maintain a good user experience.

Now that you know the requirements to safely launch product listing ads, it’s time to set up your first campaign, which is an easy 4-step process that includes the following:

  1. Create your product feed
  2. Setup your Google Merchant Center account and sync your feed
  3. Create your Google AdWords account, if you do not already have one
  4. Link your Merchant Center account (MCA) with your AdWords account

Are you done with these? Let’s move forward!

How To Setup Google Shopping

Launching a new campaign is a straightforward process. On top of this, Google keeps improving the campaign setup process with a series of steps.

What I would like to share is a high-level approach to the most important decisions and settings you need. As with everything else, if you get the basics right, you are off to a good start.

1. Select a country

If you just sell in one Country, this would be a non-issue. But what if you are selling in multiple countries? Should you advertise in all of these countries or just a few of them? And, how do you choose which ones? I suggest you start with one country – preferably a country you are already getting sales from as it is a validated market – learn from it and then scale to more countries. Shopping will not work for you if you are trying to sell at a market in which you are not competitive, either due to product selection or due to price levels and competition.

A common bad practice that should be avoided:

More than often, I see Campaign Managers investing days of work trying to forecast or predict the results of new campaigns. I have lost count of the times I was asked to give an opinion on how the CPC (cost-per-click) will go per campaign and per country for an account that hasn’t even been launched yet. I suggest you don’t go down that road because:

  • It takes up a lot of your time to do these calculations/predictions (and for no good reason) – and time is money
  • No matter how good you are, your estimations will go really off, because you are not starting with good data but with ballpark assumptions

My recommendation is to just start and wait for a few days to have clean data (not assumptions) that you can base your calculations on.

2. Budget and bidding

Now you need to define your budget and bidding. Although Google first asks for your bidding, I believe that semantically you should first think about your budget and then decide how you are going to spend that money (aka bidding).

Start with a budget that you feel comfortable with, not the max amount you can invest or the amount that you would like to invest (to get to your sales growth targets). Keep in mind that this is a “testing budget”, given that in PPC (pay-per-click) you need to run things for some time so that you can see the real results after the system understands your case and after you have run some optimizations. Typically it takes close to 2 months before you start seeing the real performance. Then, you can decide how to scale the account. This does not mean that you will not be getting conversions for the first 2 months; it is just that you will not be getting the max returns for your budget.

To sum up, determine a short-term budget that you feel comfortable with and divide it by 2 months to get your initial daily budget.

Next comes setting your bidding strategy. These days, Google is offering different ways to bid, which is great. However, it also means that we have to choose. My recommendation would be to either choose “Target ROAS” or “Manual CPC”, depending on how much time you wish to allocate to your campaign management. Let me clarify. If this first campaign is just a start point in a quest to dive even deeper into this channel, then choose “Manual CPC”. You will get tons of data on various dimensions (campaign, ad group, product group, device, etc). Plus, you will be able to optimize the performance as you get more data. This is also the way sophisticated advertisers with proprietary algorithms choose. But if you do not have the time or skill set required to continuously optimize your account, go for “Target ROAS” since this is a machine-learning-based algorithm by Google that does what it says, namely increase your ROAS.

3. What products to advertise

As with countries, it is best to start with the product you are already selling like hot cakes. And, why is that product so popular? Because you have a good combo of product positioning, high-quality, relevant images, hard-to-beat pricing or competitive positioning. So, take what you already know works and start this new ad channel with it. The objective for your first weeks is to see if you can get more sales, not sell new items. Then you can scale your campaigns to other products.

The whole process needs to be agile, meaning that you should start small and then scale based on the data. Refrain from taking the “start small” approach to heart and have just 1 Shopping Campaign with 1 AdGroup which is a mistake many campaign managers make. This is not good practice as it will not deliver the results you expect and also minimises the learnings you can get from this first campaign.

My recommendation is to start with a single Shopping Campaign and break down 7-10 AdGroups based on a column of your feed (preferably category or brand). Then, as you get more data, you can further break down more campaigns into more granular targetings to optimise both the targeting and the bidding.

Monitor performance

As you start getting ad clicks (and hopefully conversions) from your campaigns you will want to monitor the performance of your ads and find optimization ideas. The obvious place would be to check Google AdWords UI daily and see the performance of your Campaign.

The main metrics that you should monitor are:

  • Cost (how much you are spending)
  • Conversions, and
  • Conv value/Cost (aka ROAS, or how many $ you are getting from each $1 on ads)

But wouldn’t it be great if you could periodically run an audit of your Campaign(s) and see if there are optimisations that you could do? In this case, we have some exciting news. We have worked hard and created the first Google Shopping Performance Grader, which allows you to run a free audit of your campaigns in less than 60’’.

Our Grader will analyze your campaigns across 9 dimensions and give you a beautifully designed report with your score, as well as actionable recommendations.

How to Deal With Negative Product Reviews in eCommerce


Space48 are one of our Event Partners this year and will also be exhibiting at the expo. The below article originally appeared on their website and was written by their Head of Insight, Oliver Lees.


Many retailers and online businesses are afraid of negative product reviews, fearing they will damage the reputation of their brand and hinder conversion rate.

These days, customer reviews and user-generated content is important in eCommerce for influencing consumer decision-making.

Space 48’s Head of Insight, Oliver Lees, outlines 7 great ways to deal with negative product reviews, discussing how they can actually help your business improve!

Turn a negative into a positive

Don’t fear negative customer reviews and low products ratings. Perfect reviews on websites don’t look authentic. Seeing a few bad reviews amongst mainly positive reviews is normal and displaying them shows transparency and helps to build trust in brand.

A study by Yotpo, one of our favourite user-generated content (UGC) solutions, revealed that the most common words mentioned in negative product reviews were “disappointed” or “disappointment”. This signifies that issues with products are often about them not meeting consumer expectations, not that they’re necessarily bad products.

These type of negative reviews help the buying decisions of others, encouraging those who do want what other customers found disappointing to purchase, despite the “negative” reviews. You could have a great product, which just wasn’t what someone was expecting. Perhaps the negative review was about the price, which might not be a problem for other consumers viewing the product.

Learn from the feedback

There are lots of different ways to learn from negative reviews. As mentioned above, the low rating could be due to reasons that don’t reflect a fault, but instead are down to personal preference or requirements.

See this customer review below for a pair of gloves. The customer gives the product a low rating, but is helpful enough to explain the reason for the negative rating. The reviewer actually states that they would have given the gloves a good review if they’d wanted them for warmth in dry weather. It’s the lack of waterproofing that lets the product down, in their opinion.

 

Learn from useful reviews like this and consider where you could make this clear to future customers, so the expectations of the buyer are met.

Monitor reviews and respond where necessary

Some customer reviews are short and sweet, some are in-depth and informative, and others can be aggressive and even unreasonable. It’s a good idea to be to monitor your reviews and respond where necessary. If there are clear issues that need to be addressed, a quick response will be appreciated by consumers, whilst answering any common questions that come from negative reviews will help customers to trust your brand.

A numbers game: encourage more reviews

According to Yotpo, only 14% of customer reviews are 3 stars or less. Positive reviews account for the large majority and, therefore, encouraging more reviews will help you to further outweigh your negative products reviews with positive ones.

Encourage customers to review your products by incentivising users, rewarding repeat reviewers and sending post-purchase emails asking customers how they enjoyed their recent purchases. Also, make submitting product reviews easier and forms mobile-friendly, as mobile shopping continues to grow.

Provide more criteria to help the decision-making process

If negative reviews reveal any issues you have with products being difficult to use, you might be wise to curate how-to videos or add unboxing reviews and tutorials, using UGC tools like Videoly. Adding further criteria, visual content and useful information to your product pages assists consumer decision making.

ASOS is a trailblazer for delivering great customer service and UX-friendly product pages. Here’s an example of the tactics the brand uses to help customers make the right product choice. The images below show a clear offer for help with product sizing and then a tool which gives you a recommended size and calculates the percentage of people buying a particular size with a similar profile to you (adding “that didn’t return it”).

 

These tactics lead to a reduction in bad reviews, as customers will more often than not get the products they expected, which helps turn more browsers into buyers and increase your conversions. ASOS’ easy package tracking and returns policy help too!

Address issues and implement changes

If you get recurring negative product reviews that show a pattern of an inherent problem with a particular product or even your customer service, make sure you act quickly to address the problem. Make the required changes either to your product proposition or your customer service and processes, which will help to decrease negative reviews.

Consider chatbots to improve customer service

Chatbots can enable brands to deliver better browsing experiences for shoppers and assist with decision making. Customers who get a quick answer from the brand’s customer support about a product they’re considering buying, or have bought and discovered an issue, are less likely to write a negative review.

Retailers are seeing the benefit of AI assistants and enhanced customer support, whilst consumers are used to instant messenger apps and interacting with people via chat features. Would you rather get a quick answer or be on hold waiting for a support operative.

Buying behaviours are changing fast and chatbots are becoming more relevant to today’s shopper.

Last Mile Delivery: How to Efficiently Deliver to High Expectations


Neopost Shipping will be exhibiting at this year’s expo. The article below originally appeared on the Neopost website.


In today’s world, traffic is faster, food delivery is held to incredibly quick standards and when we order something online – we expect it at our door within two days.

Many companies are struggling to keep up, and their customer service is lacking when they fall short. Indications are that accelerated demands will become normalized. In fact, a recent Logistics Viewpoints report shows that 50 percent of millennials still desire even quicker deliveries.

According to the “State of Shipping in Commerce” report from Temando, many retailers are intent on expanding shipping and delivery options to keep up with how Amazon has revolutionized fulfillment, but the shoppers they are looking to satisfy are expecting more — and sooner.

“We’re noticing a huge push and pressure on the fulfillment side to get orders turned around on a much faster scale and pace than a lot of technology is capable of doing today,” says Michael Armanious, vice president of sales and marketing at Datex Corporation, a third-party logistics (3PL) management and warehouse solutions provider. “What normally would have taken less than an hour, all of the sudden needs to go out within minutes, which poses challenges in terms of planning.”

The truth is that customers want a window of delivery within a few hours, a “hyperlocal” last-mile initiative that companies are finding difficult to deploy. “By the time the order comes in, it has to be processed and ready to go for us to meet that very narrow window,” adds Armanious.

Last mile delivery is defined as ‘the movement of goods from a transportation hub to the final delivery destination’ – typically a personal residence – and is becoming more important than ever due to the surge of online ordering. The focus of last mile logistics is to deliver items to the end user when they expect it – which is as fast as possible. Last mile logistics has become an important area of interest for retailers because of the growing demand for fully integrated omnichannel retailing.

Evolving omnichannel needs have made retailers evaluate their current transportation network capabilities and adjust accordingly.

This year more than 40 percent of all e-commerce purchases will be made on Amazon – according to an eMarketer estimate. They have set the standard for fast shipping with their Amazon Prime subscribers and continue to rank high in customer service satisfaction. The online behemoth announced recently a new Amazon Delivery Service Partner program, which is designed to let entrepreneurs run with their own local delivery networks of up to 40 vans, all proudly displaying the Prime logo.

Amazon currently has 75 stations in the US where Amazon.com packages are sent to and picked up by drivers. Algorithms determine which packages are sent there and which are sent to other delivery partners like FedEx and UPS.

“This is all about scaling cost effectively,” said Dave Clark, senior vice president of Amazon Worldwide Operations. He says that the program is “much more about customer experience and meeting overall growth. We think this is going to be a cost-effective way to do that.”

This program brings more of the costs and customer service under the control of Amazon, and the smaller entrepreneurs get to operate under the giant company’s name. Amazon said that the program is aimed to enable hundreds of small businesses to get started and will hire tens of thousands of new delivery drivers countrywide. Given the current trucker shortage and carrier strikes in the US, transportation costs are on the rise for many businesses, and this solution helps to lower them.

Not only are final mile logistics expensive when it comes to assets and providers, but a poor home delivery experience can also have a negative impact on a brand’s reputation. In many cases, the last mile delivery is the first “personal contact” between the consumer and the product. Was the packaging damaged? Was the delivery driver rude? Did he deliver within the window of time I asked for? Many different situations can turn an otherwise positive perception into a negative. Almost 100% of shoppers also say they would like delivery date estimates, yet more than half of retailers currently don’t offer this feature.

Rightly so, the focus placed on last mile delivery is important because, in many cases, this could be your key differentiator. Organizations like Amazon Prime, Amazon Now, and Wayfair have set precedent. Consumers can choose to shop anywhere they want and easily find product alternatives from other retailers – which is why it is so important to provide exceptional service and gain market share while building brand loyalty.

So what do companies need to think about when creating a successful last mile delivery model?

One, think beyond geography. Hyperlocal doesn’t only mean coverage of one specific region. The most successful hyperlocal strategies have the capability to scale. A strategy that focuses on a single “locality” will be difficult to scale in other areas. Being able to identify a widespread but local need and having a model that adapts to each new market will be crucial.

Two, identify an abundance of locations to use as “fulfillment centers.” For instance, distribution centers (DC’s) aren’t the only sites you can utilize to ship orders out of. In fact, if you only use DC’s, you’re already behind. Step up your omnichannel strategy and use your suppliers/manufacturers to drop ship, utilize third party logistics companies for additional help and definitely bring your stores into the mix. Did you know that Kohl’s reduced delivery time by ½ day on each delivery by employing their stores as fulfillment centers? (Forrester, 2017)

Three, think about using a variety of carriers, and don’t discount the smaller ones. Together, local, regional and national carriers create a perfect mix of delivery options and capabilities. In fact, smaller local carriers account for almost 60% of the U.S. trucking industry and can typically transport shipments from 80-100 miles within a specified zone. They are great for parcel last mile delivery as they are able to provide personalized, caring service for clients. Regional carriers are great for shippers with multiple distribution centers and a high concentration of customers within a geographical market. They also typically have wider time schedules for pick-up and delivery and often provide next-day deliveries.

Four, don’t just focus on what your competitors are doing, unless you can do it better. It may be easy to replicate a competitor’s strategy, but it’s not always a model that will work for you as well. Each company and each company’s customer base is different. Find a distinguishing angle of your own, because people love niche. Focus on doing what you’re able to do, and do it well.

Five, learn how to say ‘no’. It’s easy to think that you can do this, and this and this too, but you will never be able to please everyone all at once, even with a last mile delivery plan that you think is perfect. Stick to your strategy and tweak it only when necessary.

The opportunities lying ahead are huge. Logistics providers need to position themselves for the upcoming radical change and readjust their existing networks accordingly. The differentiator in this field will be technology. It will be the leading driver as to what companies can do for their customers. Updated technology will manage workflows, direct the customer experience and provides visibility to all parties.

The end consumer will see the difference in the form of a package on their front step, days, even hours, after ordering. You’ll see the difference in the form of increased speed, efficiency and revenue.

Why it’s Time Your eCommerce Business Moved to the Cloud


Teledata will be exhibiting at this year’s eCommerce Show North.  The article below originally appeared on their website and was written by James Burns.


Many hosting providers offer what they describe as eCommerce hosting or eCommerce-optimised hosting. However, these solutions can be built on very different technologies and offer very different levels of performance and reliability.

Examples include shared server hosting and VPS hosting at the lower end, while more high-end providers will sell dedicated servers as an eCommerce hosting solution.

However, in many cases the limitations of these traditional hosting options can hinder the performance of an online store – a significant disadvantage in the ultra-competitive world of online retail.

For instance, in January 2018 Google formally announced their “Speed Update” which will take into account mobile device page speed as another factor in how websites are ranked in the search results. This update will be rolled out in July 2018 and is designed to weed out the slowest sites.

And while your website may not be affected greatly, it’s now more important than ever that your website performs at its best, especially for mobile. Not only could poor performance affect you negatively in the rankings but it could also prevent visitors from getting to your website in the first place, and upset brand reputation for your eCommerce business. According to research done by Google in 2017, the average loading speed for a landing page on a mobile is 22 seconds – however, it was also revealed that 53% people will leave a mobile site if the page takes more than three seconds to load.

Another study showed that a delay in page loading time or poor website performance could contribute to a 7% reduction in conversion rates – meaning every delay would cost your online business.

For our part, we think the advantages of cloud hosting make it a platform that’s well worth considering – whether you’re making your first move into the world of online trading, or you’re looking to overhaul your current eCommerce hosting arrangements. Read on to learn why.

Cloud offers on-demand scalability

One of the causes of poor performance is that a server is overloaded. There are two possible solutions that could help solve this issue:

Invest in a high-spec dedicated server – Some retailers still choose to invest in high-spec dedicated servers on the expectation that this will give them enough resource to meet demands at their highest. However, this “over-spec” strategy is not very cost-effective – you’re playing for resources that may well remain unused for the majority of the hardware’s lifespan. Nor is it particularly flexible in terms of future growth – if your store takes off in a dramatic way, you’re still going to be facing a time-consuming migration (or expensive load-balancing act).

Invest in an agile cloud server – The cloud on the other hand provides increased agility, allowing retailers to provision more server resources at peak times (such as during high-traffic events like Black Friday), and then scale down again when demand returns to normal levels. This unique advantage of cloud hosting allows you to more closely align your monthly costs with your resources usage – much more cost effective in the long-run, especially for a small-to-medium sized eCommerce business.

Speed and consistent performance

In comparison to shared server and VPS hosting, the cloud option wins hands down. When hosted on a cloud platform, your store will be able to draw all the resources it needs from a large reserve of memory, processing power and storage. Gone are the performance limitations of a single machine, with its hard-limits on resources – all of which were shared by other hosting customers, competing for their share of the hardware.

Dedicated servers on the other hand are sometimes considered to offer more consistent performance than cloud, but this isn’t really noticeable in practice and the scalability of cloud makes it much easier to fine-tune performance anyway. For instance, if a lack of CPU or memory hinders your dedicated server’s performance, you can upgrade or replace the hardware, but this comes at a cost, both in terms of purchase price and downtime during implementation. With a cloud server, however, adding or removing resources is easier and won’t incur the significant, permanent costs associated with a hardware upgrade.

Resilience

A less obvious but equally important consideration for an ecommerce business is that most cloud architectures are inherently more resilient than other forms of hosting.

For example, many cloud server hosting providers have some degree of redundancy built into their platforms – helping prevent downtime due to hardware failures.

Compared to relying on a single server, a cloud platform will enlist resources from any number of physical servers, where, if one fails, it will simply restart on another host, causing as little disruption as possible. For any business, this level of redundancy is important, but the 24/7 nature of an eCommerce website – where an outage can result in lost sales and revenue – makes automated fail-over a key advantage.

What is Downtime Costing Your eCommerce Business?


Teledata will be exhibiting at this year’s eCommerce Show North.  The article below originally appeared on their website and was written by James Burns.


Most businesses face an impact to their top or bottom line when their websites go down.

Few, however, are more directly affected by downtime than online retailers, where it causes revenue to grind to a halt and customers to take their business to competing websites.

Here, we take a look at how the costs of eCommerce downtime break down, as well as some of the steps online retailers and their partner agencies can take to combat unplanned outages.

The direct cost of eCommerce downtime

A number of studies have attempted to put a concrete figure on the cost of downtime, both in eCommerce and elsewhere. One of the best-known benchmarks is from the Ponemon Institute, which in 2016 showed the average cost of an outage across all sectors to be around $740,000 (£536,000). In eCommerce, the figure was higher still at $758,000.

For an ecommerce business, perhaps the most obvious starting point for counting the cost of downtime is to look at the direct impact on your revenue for a given period. How much would you lose in straight sales if your site was unavailable for one, two, three hours – maybe even an afternoon? For some of you reading this, the figure will run into the thousands of pounds.

Of course, even at this basic level, the cost of an hour’s disruption will vary. Perhaps the most diligent (and frightening!) exercise here is to look at the cost of downtime to you during peak online shopping hours/seasons and weight it accordingly – particularly if you rely on such key periods for a healthy bottom line.

Once you have a basic hourly figure, it’s possible to get an idea of risk exposure with your current eCommerce hosting provider by looking at their uptime SLA (this calculator may help you to get a clearer picture). However, remember that SLAs can be missed, and that downtime or sluggish store performance can also be caused by other factors such as heavy server load – a common problem for online stores at peak times, when their earning potential is highest.

Indirect costs – lost productivity, recovery and more

An ecommerce business can also incur a wide range of indirect costs from a serious downtime incident. Consider the following, for example:

Lost productivity: For as long as the incident lasts, some staff may be unable to do their jobs and others may have to focus on firefighting (such as answering calls from concerned customers) and other low-value work. If your business is a digital agency that builds and runs eCommerce websites for its own clients, this can be an even more significant cost factor as you pour resources into smoothing things over with your customer base.

Cost of recovery: Downtime can be caused by many different factors, and not all of them are as simple to recover from as others. In some cases, you may need to tap into expert resource to restore from backups, solve complex software problems and so on.

Reputational damage: In the ultra-competitive world of eCommerce, there’s no reason for inconvenienced customers not to flock to other websites and stay there – costing you both in terms of new and repeat business.

Damage to SEO: It’s easy to overlook, but downtime can also impact your search performance and therefore prevent shoppers from getting to your website for a time even after the incident has been resolved.

3 tips to combat eCommerce downtime

So what can an eCommerce business do to protect itself against the potential cost and reputational damage of an outage?

Thankfully, there are a few different steps you can take to ensure your website (or, in the digital agency scenario, your clients’ websites) isn’t more exposed to the risk of downtime than it needs to be. Here are three of our top tips:

Look at your hosting platform. Is it a good fit for your website in terms of expected traffic numbers (both now and in the future), hardware redundancy and backup provision? The quick and easy scalability of a cloud platform, for example, lends itself well to eCommerce businesses that experience seasonal demand or forecast rapid growth. We recommend you familiarise yourself on the differences between shared, VPS, cloud server hosting and dedicated server hosting in particular.

What level of uptime can your hosting provider realistically deliver? What’s their SLA – and, more importantly, is it backed up by high-quality infrastructure? (Any provider can say they offer a particular number of nines in their SLA, but only the best ones will be able to talk confidently about the technical controls they use to back this up.)

Can you rely on your hosting provider for fast and high-quality support to solve the problem? It may not be the first thing you think of when sourcing a hosting platform, but no provider is immune to downtime – so it makes sense to look for one that can show you glowing references from happy customers to demonstrate their value at a time of crisis. The ultimate “try before you buy” test? Give your prospective provider’s support team a call and see how easily you can get through to someone that can help. If or when disruption occurs, you need the process of getting authoritative help to be as simple and fast as possible.

Magento Open Source Versus Magento Commerce


Two Jay will be exhibiting at this year’s eCommerce Show North.


Which platform is right for your business?

Magento rebranded its product suite in June 2017, renaming and reconfiguring the three primary Magento platforms into two. Magento Community Edition is now known as Magento Open Source, whilst Magento Enterprise and Magento Cloud Edition become Magento Commerce.

All versions of Magento share the same core code base with Enterprise adding additional licensed features. This provides a secure and scalable solution for your eCommerce business and a potential migration path between versions. Which Magento platform you choose really depends on your business needs and future growth plans. With so much varying advice out there, we appreciate it’s not an easy decision.

So, if you’re looking to migrate to or build on Magento, we’re hoping to provide a bit more clarity on which version is the right one for you.

Magento Open Source for Start-ups and Small Businesses

Magento Open Source provides all the basic performance and features needed to run an eCommerce store. It is the license free version of Magento which makes it more accessible for startup businesses and small businesses who are potentially new to the industry or have a limited budget. Although this version does not have the same capabilities as Magento Commerce, it can be customised through additional extensions or custom development.

Both Open Source and Commerce users can take advantage of Magento 2’s improved capabilities including Varnish caching, browser caching, asynchronous processing, and page minification and merging. Plus, they have the same access to the Magento Marketplace, which enables you to purchase additional Magento 2 extensions to further your website functionality.

Despite this, Open Source will not scale operationally as you grow which may cause issues in terms of offering eCommerce service in the future, and it does not offer Magento’s support (which means you will have no assistance if your platform crashes… even if it’s in the middle of Black Friday!) It’s also important to note that, whilst it is entirely possible to upgrade from Magento Open Source to Magento Commerce, the ease of doing this will be impacted by the amount of customisation which has taken place. For example, not all third party modules are compatible with Enterprise and as a result of this some refactoring may be required.

In summary, we believe this is the ideal platform for startups and smaller businesses and despite its drawbacks, there are a number of well-known retailers who’ve managed to adapt their Open Source website to keep up with their growing requirements and customer expectations.

Magento Commerce for ambitious and Established Businesses

For businesses looking for something more secure and operationally scalable than Magento Open Source, Magento Commerce offers a more robust option with enterprise-level features right out of the box. Depending on the size of your business, Magento Commerce is available in two monthly pricing tiers, the Starter subscription starts at $1,999 per month, whilst the Pro subscription starts at $3,399. Each plan includes support and Cloud-based hosting and infrastructure, which means Magento will handle any hosting challenges such as redundancy, disaster recovery and dynamic scaling.

Whilst marketing tools can be integrated with Open Source, Magento Commerce boasts a range of advanced marketing tools including content scheduling, dynamic customer segmentation, cart abandonment emails and personalisation tools which have seen users increase sales significantly.

The Magento Commerce admin also allows return and exchange rules, and other customer service features such as gift wrap options, wish lists, gift cards and store credit. Vital features for any brand interested in improving their brand loyalty and increasing repeat sales.

Not only this, Magento is constantly improving their platform through ongoing research and development, so if you have an enterprise license you will benefit from this and get immediate access to any new features they implement.

Magento Commerce is designed for larger organisations and is ideal for those who require reliability and availability. It offers one native platform for B2C and B2B with the option to add as many storefronts as you want. For B2B retailers it is the ideal option as it includes everything you need to manage B2B sites for multiple brands, channel partners, or key accounts.

In Summary

When considering what functionality you will need it’s important to consider the next 5 years. For ambitious retailers, Open Source will have some restraints, and it is important to understand what additional extensions would need to be installed and what custom development would need to be undertaken to allow your business to keep up with its potential growth. Extensions are ‘bolted onto the outside’ of the application, which means they will be less integrated to other core features which could potentially cause issues. However, whilst it may not be our preferred option Magento Open Source is a brilliant platform for brands who want to get online quickly and build as they grow.

The platform we recommend to the majority of our customers is Magento Commerce – it’s the most robust and scalable of the two, as well as being a 100% open for customisation. It allows merchants to work on a better basis with supported functionalities and a cleaner code which is more adapted to high demands of traffic and revenue. It’s also good to bear in mind that the extra investment in a higher specification platform is often outweighed by a reduction in maintenance costs, as Magento Commerce merchants will require fewer developers for daily maintenance of the platform.

The Warehouse Space Challenge in eCommerce


LogistCompare will be exhibiting at this year’s eCommerce Show North.


As the eCommerce business continues to increase, retailers need more storage space to grow. With the current demand volatility, faster delivery time and shortage of warehouse space available, being closer to the customer is now becoming essential.

New smaller satellite facilities have been created to facilitate the drive for convenience: faster delivery times is now an integral part of the last mile process.

Whether small sheds or larger hubs, location is of paramount importance. A major factor in identifying suitable warehouse locations is the quality of access to and from the site.

Depending from the retailer requirements, warehouses need to be located in the right spot to be able not only to supply the customer but also to receive goods from suppliers.

For the traditional “brick and mortar” retailers, the implementation of such development, brings a lot of pressure across the supply chain which was originally designed to replenish only a few stores on a regular basis. Accessing volatile space to supply customer demands becomes a real challenge.

We estimate that the UK has over 400m sq ft of warehouse space. It then comes as no surprise that the retail sector occupies 85m sq ft of this space for high street and homewares retailers and 62m sq ft food retailers. It is also important to mention that the online retail sector currently accounts for 8.5m sq ft of space and still continues to grow.

The availability of big hubs has fallen by 75% since 2010 with only 2.6m sq ft of space available across UK, while there is just 17m Sq ft space currently under construction.

The world of warehousing is becoming quite unrecognisable. A vast underground warehouse near Heathrow has received planning permission. Amazon has announced plans to use a 580-acre lake as a submerged warehouse for goods.

As retailers increasingly move their business on-line, warehouse flexibility becomes an essential component in meeting their customers’ requirements. Whether it’s a large or small shed, the warehouse needs to cope with the volatility of the customer demand. Seasonal demand is not limited to online retailers. This inevitably brings serious pressure on warehouse capacity, potentially damaging both the possibility to maximise sales returns during peak times and retailer reputation.

Disruptive technology has given the opportunity to provide customers with easy solutions to better their shopping experience. Visibility allows them to locate their products, buy what and when they want and access their products easily and conveniently.

Online business also brings a high level of flexibility when dealing with returns. On-line customers value a faster return process. This can be facilitated by either the use of a local store or fast return to warehouses. This puts a lot of pressure on hubs to maintain availability of both large vehicles and smaller vans or even motorbikes and scooters.

Finding the right warehouse space to accommodate the current e-commerce client is becoming a challenge especially when lack of space availability is the biggest culprit. Technology is now allowing portals to support customers with this process.

The latest and most advanced portals able to support the “Race for Space” is LogistCompare. This online portal that brings together customers looking for storage space and warehouse providers. The portal is interactive and therefore able to offer a direct communication between providers and customers. The platform provides a selection of warehouse options and costs, allows customers to request customised quotations and provides live visibility of available space in the warehouse. It’s currently free to use to retailers.

For a long time retailers have rightly focused their efforts merely in selling their products to clients. With the change in the shopping behaviour, retailers need to turn their attention to these crucial areas: cost, location, flexibility and immediacy. All these can be addressed by the right warehouse solution.

Benefits of an Effective Warehouse Management System


LogistCompare will be exhibiting at this year’s eCommerce Show North.


The Warehouse Management System (or, WMS) is a software specifically designed to support your warehouse operations, helping with core operational aspects such as tracking stock, picking, shipping and despatching goods.

WMS has been around for a relatively long time, as a tool to improve the performance. Nevertheless, not every software system is the same.

For a WMS to be considered effective it should do more than simply keeping track of stock within your warehouse operations. Thus, before selecting an appropriate system, you should ensure that you choose one that fits your business model, for ultimate efficiency. There are many benefits to an effective warehouse management system, but then this is no wonder as it incorporates many factors; for instance, storage equipment, computer systems, and people, etc., into one system.

WMS should work seamlessly with various automated features integrated by the warehouse control system, including the conveyor, label formatting and content, automatic label application, fixed overheads and scanning.

1. Improved Customer Service

A WMS can streamline overall your warehouses operations and, let’s be honest, your warehouse is essential to your customers’ buying experience. Being streamlined has in itself many benefits, leading to a positive effect on your customers who’ll be impressed with a quick and accurate delivery of an order in an age where speed is expected. This, in turn, will help with your company’s competitivity which will lead to repeat orders in the long term. Put simply, if a warehouse is efficient, order and delivery times will be both accurate and reduced, which will equal happy and repeat customers.

2. Labour Productivity

A WMS doesn’t just focus on products and your warehouses inventory but also improve the efficiency of your workforce and their tasks too. A WMS can also manage and organise essential tasks as well as prioritise from a list of pending activities, resulting in an improvement in productivity.

3. Stock Visibility

A WMS solution can help with stock visibility as well as traceability within your warehouse. By tracking stock, picking accuracy improves which helps prevent losses through non- deliveries, returns, or even mis-deliveries. This, in turn, leads us back to our original point about improved customer service and repeat business. Stock visibility allows warehouses to accurately evaluate the space availability to customers. This is “gold sand” especially during peak times for retailers needing to increase their local inventories for the peak sales season. Real-time visibility of space availability and fast cost comparison are critical when trying to cope with a surge of orders to be fulfilled.

4. Continuous Improvement

Another benefit of opting for a WMS, and incorporating one into your business, is continuous process improvement. This means that you should expect your WMS vendor to keep abreast of the latest industry trends and to champion new ideas. These new innovative solutions can lead to reduced costs, improved operational efficiency and process optimisation.

The Top 100 eCommerce Companies in the North Has Been Released

To complement the launch of this year’s Top 100 eCommerce Companies in the North, Prolific North has approached some of the companies within the list to learn more about what makes them stand out in the industry.

The official eBook launches the eCommerce Matters series. A series which will continue to explore eCommerce in the months leading up to this year’s eCommerce Show North in November.

The 2018 edition has been put together with the support of lead sponsor Adyen as well as sponsor Smoking Gun PR, with research compiled in association with Knight Corporate Finance.

In addition to the full top 100 list, the eBook also offers interviews with:

  • Becki Smith, Director of Marketing & eCommerce at N Brown
  • Tim Marriott, Principal Product Owner at RentalCars.com
  • Dave Lawson, Managing Director at AO Retail UK
  • Paul Kendrick, Managing Director at Express Gifts
  • Caoimha Keogan, Chief People Officer at MoneySupermarket
  • Lesley Gregory, Head of eCommerce & Digital Marketing at Ryman
  • Antony Eden, eCommerce & Marketing Director at Tyres on the Drive

Hit this link to get your free copy of the official Top 100 eCommerce Companies in the North eBook.

Top eCommerce Companies in the North

Lead Sponsor and Event Partners Confirmed for eCommerce Show North 2018

We’re delighted to announce the innovative companies who will be the lead sponsor and event partners for eCommerce Show North (eCSN), which returns for a second year in November.

Over 2,400 attendees, 106 exhibitors and sponsors and 71 speakers attended the inaugural running of the expo in October, making it the biggest gathering of eCommerce companies, vendors and suppliers held outside London last year.

And we’re expecting an even more impressive and well-attended event when eCSN returns to EventCity in Manchester on November 6th and 7th 2018.

We can confirm that hosting company UKFast is once again the lead sponsor for the event.

And CRO specialists Endless Gain, eCommerce website experts Space48, email marketing automation business dotmailer, Product Information Management (PIM) system Pimberly and open-source e-commerce platform Magento are all on board as event partners.

eCSN will feature leading exponents of eCommerce with businesses specialising in the full range of available services and solutions.

Partner Pavilions will promote key themes such as Platforms, Payments, Analytics, Security, Marketing, Hosting, Backbone, Logistics, Mobile, Hardware and Innovation.

Want to learn how to get involved? Get in touch for more info.

Meet Magento UK is Coming to London Next Month

Join merchants and developers at the UK’s largest Magento conference for a day of eCommerce insights.

Meet Magento UK is the perfect opportunity to connect with eCommerce experts from across the globe. A chance to share expertise, create opportunities, and take a look at what’s coming next.

The future of your eCommerce starts here.

Merchants

Get ahead of the curve with a dedicated track covering topics like growth, innovation, and optimisation. You’ll leave armed with strategies for tomorrow and beyond.

Developers

Learn about Magento’s cutting-edge technologies from leading thinkers and doers. The technical track will be bursting with practical knowledge to take back to your projects.

Head to the Booking Page and claim a 25% discount using the code ECMLOVESMMUK

XSellco, Klarna, Pure Clarity and More

This week, our eCommerce Matters series shares the latest tips and insights from our exhibition partners including XSellco, Cheetah Digital, Klarna and Pure Clarity. XSellco chat to our expo director, Martyn Collins about the importance of having an eCommerce expo in the North, Cheetah Digital aim to help you prepare for your Christmas marketing, Klarna share 5 tips for making your website checkout mobile friendly and Pure Clarity explain eCommerce personalisation.

XSellco
eCommerce Show North is expected to attract 4,000 attendees with more than 120 exhibitors. This week, expo director, Martyn Collins explained to XSellco why it’s high time England’s North-West had it’s own eCommerce expo. You can find the full interview, here.

Cheetah Digital
The end of summer for marketers means that the countdown for the busy holiday season is on. Cheetah Digital have shared 9 Ways to help you prepare for success and increase sales too. You can find out more, here.

Klarna
A growing amount of shoppers are beginning to purchase with their smartphone or tablet. However, many businesses still lack a mobile friendly website and checkout, failing to address new customer expectations of a smooth buying experience. Klarna have shared 5 tips to make your website checkout more mobile friendly. You can read more, here.

Pure Clarity
What is eCommerce personalisation? Pure Clarity explain the benefits of segmenting customers into multiple profiles, in order to show real-time personalised recommendations and relevant products. You can learn more, here.

Superb lineup of Global payment providers at eCSN

A number of global payment providers will be attending eCommerce Show North to offer advice, support and services to eCommerce businesses engaged in national and international markets, different currencies and changing exchange rates.

They are:

  • WorldFirst – Showing you new ways to save time and money for online sellers who do business in different currencies
  • Barclaycard – Making it easy for you to sell and your customers to buy.
  • GlobalPay – Specialists in card payments processing and technology services
  • Payoneer – Get paid, manage your money, pay your vendors and expand your business
  • Worldpay – Technology platforms that enable merchants to accept a vast array of payment types, across multiple channels, anywhere in the world
  • Klarna – A hassle-free online buying experience, whichever way you wish to pay

In recent days we’ve also been confirming some of the speakers for the event – including senior representatives of Google, Microsoft, AO.com, Rentalcars.com, Kellogg’s, Icelolly.com and the Park Group.

Registration is open and you can secure your place here – we are expecting around 4,000 attendees alongside the 120 exhibiting businesses.

Find out more

eCommerce Show North will be an unmissable event for all those with a connection to the eCommerce sector, from CEOs, CMOs and MDs to heads of digital, developers and technical managers.

There’s still time to get involved as an exhibitor, sponsor or partner – please contact Martyn Collins on 07764 406873 or by emailing martyn@prolificnorth.co.uk.

Nublue Launch Extensions for Magento

Magento eCommerce specialists Nublue have launched two new extensions for use with the
Magento platform to kick start their new service offering of custom built, bespoke extensions to
help eCommerce websites improve their user experience and functionality.

The extensions – which can be found on Magento Marketplace, come in the form of a shipping
deadline countdown and an invisible ReCAPTCHA for newsletters, with more extensions being
developed for future release.

The Shipping Deadline Countdown is used on product pages and gives users an onscreen
countdown timer, notifying them of the expected delivery date if a purchase is made before the
timer reaches zero – giving potential customers confidence in delivery speed and an extra
incentive to buy before leaving the site.

The Invisible ReCAPTCHA for Newsletters utilises Google’s invisible ReCAPTCHA technology
to prevent spam sign ups to newsletter subscription forms. The Invisible ReCAPTCHA is tied to
the submit button, meaning only suspicious traffic is made to actively perform an action in order
to pass the ReCAPTCHA. Use of this extension stops mail lists filling up with spam, reducing
server load and administrative time.

Nublue’s new extensions are purpose built for simplicity and ease of use and the eCommerce
specialists offer installation and support services when required.

Developed and built by the company’s own Magento certified developers to solve real world
problems or create better user experiences, extensions are not only thoroughly tested for quality
and functionality but also engineered to increase conversion and add maximum value for
eCommerce businesses. With the added benefit that the extensions are easily updated and any
bugs are fixed quickly and efficiently by the development team.

The extensions add to Nublue’s existing development, retainer and hosting services and add to
a growing list of services on offer including SEO, UX and CRO audits and assistance.

 

eCommerce in the North is Thriving

Research from eBay revealed that the North of England is overtaking the rest of the country in online retailing.

Manchester is followed in the UK digital density rankings by Lancashire and West Yorkshire, revealing a new ‘Northern Powerhouse’ of eCommerce.

Come along and learn from industry leaders at eCommerce Show North, October 11 & 12, EventCity in Manchester. eCSN will be the biggest ever gathering of eCommerce companies, vendors and suppliers held outside London. Find out more, here.

If you want to create market awareness for your brand, find new customers and learn from the North’s top eCommerce business leaders then get involved with eCommerce Show North.

 

 

Magento Welcomes PureNet as Solution Partner.

UK Ecommerce Agency, PureNet has today announced its partnership with Magento, the largest commerce ecosystem in the world.

Magento relies on its ecosystem of solution, consulting and technology partners to deliver its solution suite to global customers. Acceptance onto the Solution Partner Program is awarded to companies who are focussed on delivering the highest quality of service to new and existing Magento clients. PureNet is now one of just a handful of ecommerce agencies in the UK announced as a trusted Magento Business Partner.

The new partnership signifies the aligning of both companies’ core values and goals – to help merchants grow their business, and to create engaging customer experiences with the Magento Platform. Magento Enterprise Edition, trusted by millions of retailers, boasts an impressive list of out-of-the-box functionality and provides even more options to customise, adapt and scale. As represented by PureNet’s new partnership, the company places a clear focus on the delivery of innovative Magento Enterprise solutions for retailers and brands looking to rapidly grow their businesses.

To ensure its Solution Partner Program is representative of the industry’s finest, requirements for acceptance include Magento Certified Developers, expert Magento Specialists and a number of successful Magento implementations – all of which have been demonstrated by PureNet. The company, with offices in York, London, Manchester and Birmingham, has delivered Magento Enterprise and Community ecommerce solutions for clients including The Royal British Legion, LighterLife and Travelopia.

PureNet Chief Executive, Dr Paul M Gibson, said: “We are delighted to be accepted into the Magento Solution Partner Program. Our focus always has and will be on delivering innovative and effective ecommerce solutions. Working with Magento, the most flexible commerce solution in the world, our team is able to consistently develop solutions that deliver real competitive advantage for PureNet clients. Our new partnership with Magento enables us to remain at the forefront of our industry and our development expertise in Magento Enterprise Edition showcases our ability to deliver unique and engaging shopping experiences. We are very much looking forward to being part of the ecosystem and working alongside Magento!”

For more information visit www.purenet.co.uk.

Nublue Kick Off New Clubline Football Website

Lancaster based eCommerce agency Nublue have kicked off a brand new website for football brand, clublinefootball.com. This is following a full redesign using the open source ecommerce platform, Magento.

Clubline offers a wide selection of the leading brands in football such as Nike, Adidas, Prostar and many more. The sports eCommerce site were looking for a site that was modern with a conversion focused layout/design using Magento Enterprise.

The new website is mobile optimised and features impressive new features that allow customers to personalise kits and other clothing items/sports accessories with ease. They can add names and numbers to kits whilst being able to visualise any changes pre-purchase.

Matt Hutchinson – agency head at Nublue, explained more:
“A vital aspect of the rebuild and incredibly important to the client was to make improvements in user experience and make the customer’s path to purchase a smoother and easier route to take. A lot of research went into ensuring that well-informed decisions were made at every stage of the design and layout process. Everything from the site’s navigation to the placement of ‘call to actions’ help a customer easily progress from landing page to checkout.”

The sports eCommerce business have experienced positive results since the launch of the website with impressive improvement statistics. Conversion is up 63.58 per cent and transactions by 41.72 per cent. John Leonard – web manager for the brand seemed to be extremely happy with the outcome. “Nublue are professional in approach and rigorous in application. They’re proving to be a pleasure to work with an excellent partner in our eCommerce related activities”.

Another exciting and successful website launch for Nublue continuing on from their positive start to the year. Nublue will also be exhibiting at eCommerce Show North in October 2017.

UKFast, NuBlue, Mabo and More

Our Weekly Round Up shares insights and news from our exhibition partners at eCommerce Show North. This week we’re featuring Mabo’s insights into PPC, UKFast’s reasons to be cheerful, NuBlue explain how to grab a viewer’s attention, dotmailer discuss how to bounce back after a blunder and Digitl announce the return of the Manchester Multichannel Conference.

NuBlue – 8 Seconds Away
In this post, Nublue explain how video content creators have 8 seconds to grab a viewers attention and if you have not gained their attention in that time they will move on to something else. They also explain how the perfect video placed on an eCommerce website can really help to increase sales. You can read more, here.

UKFast – Reasons to be Cheerful
This week, UKFast celebrated Internaional Day of Happiness by posting four reasons to be cheerful. You can check them out, here.

Mabo – WHAT IS PPC MANAGEMENT AND WHY DO YOU NEED IT?
In this blog, Mabo discuss Pay Per Click management and why it is so important. They also explain what you should be looking for in a PPC management agency so you can get the most out of your paid ads. You can read more, here.

dotmailer – How to bounce back after a mistake
Everyone makes mistakes now and then, the most important thing is learning how to recover. In this post, dotmailer explain how to bounce back after making an email marketing blunder. You can read all about it, here.

Digitl – The Manchester Multichannel Conference 2017
This week Digitl announced the return of the Manchester Multichannel Conference 2017. If you would like to register or find out more about the event, click here.

Endless Gain, Finch and Nosto

This week we’re featuring Endless Gain’s research into the Pain of Paying, advice from Finch about Adwords Attribution and Nosto share 3 brands with fantastic blogs and what you can learn from them.

Endless Gain – The Pain of Paying
In this post, Endless Gain explain the psychology behind the ‘Pain of Paying’. This is where consumers factor in how much they want to purchase whatever is on offer and the pain they feel as a result of spending the money. To read more, click here.

Finch – How Adwords Attribution leads to more Successful Campaigns
This week, Finch explain Adwords Attribution and how it can be used to influence customers earlier in the clickstream and how it can better manipulate the allocation of your spend based on what adverts and keywords the user engages with before purchasing. To read more, click here.

Nosto- 3 Brands with Great Blogs and What you can learn from them
In this blog, Nosto shares three brands who are using their blogs to build relationships with their customers, show brand personality and also to position their stock in an ‘aspirational and inspiring way’. To read more, click here.

New Exhibitor Update

We are thrilled to announce that some of the world’s best eCommerce talent is being drawn to eCommerce Show North. Here are some of the fantastic companies that are already involved:
UKFast
Endless Gain
Space 48
dotmailer
NuBlue
2Jcommerce
Digitl
Blueclaw.co.uk
Bronto
Business Growth Hub
Click Consult
CTI Digital
Digital People
Dream Agility
eCommerce Club
Fat Media
Finch.com
Fluid Digital
Mabo
Nosto
Pinpoint
PushOn
Steamhaus
Temando
Worldpay

 

Welcome to eCommerce Show North

Brought to you by Prolific North and Don’t Panic Events, eCommerce Show North is the only exhibition outside of London dedicated to eCommerce and reflects the huge commercial marketplace that is the North.

Taking place over two days in October 2017 at EventCity, Manchester, eCSN will be the biggest ever gathering of eCommerce companies, vendors and suppliers held outside London.

eCSN will feature leading exponents of eCommerce with businesses specialising in the full range of available services and solutions. Partner Pavilions will promote and market key themes such as Platforms, Payments, Analytics, Security, Marketing, Hosting, Backbone, Logistics, Mobile, Hardware and Innovation.

Theatre spaces will host industry leader presentations and specialist businesses talks, conference sessions and seminars.

eCSN is dedicated to eCommerce and reflects the huge commercial marketplace that exists beyond the capital and the large number of businesses successfully growing and looking for new suppliers in the north.

With over 120 businesses exhibiting and the capacity for thousands of attendees, this event will become a key eCommerce expo for years to come.

To find out how your business can get involved in eCommerce Show North, please contact Martyn Collins on 07764 406873 or by emailing martyn@prolificnorth.co.uk