Why an AWS hosting solution could be the perfect hosting solution for you


Nublue will be exhibiting at eCommerce Show North this year.


One of the most talked about topics of the technology industry in the last few years has been all things to do with the ‘Cloud’, whether that be data storage or utilising virtual IT resources via the internet. Cloud services platforms, for a lot of businesses, can provide them with almost instant access to flexible and cost-effective resources that don’t incur the same upfront costs of purchasing physical hardware. This also applies to hosting solutions such as Amazon’s Web Services (AWS) platform, the global leader in Cloud Infrastructure that boasts to be extremely scalable and high-performance. But what does this really mean for your hosting solution and in turn your ecommerce store?

The Main Benefits of AWS

  • Flexibility
  • Easily scalable for busy periods
  • High-performance infrastructure
  • Remove traditional restraints associated with physical hardware
  • Take on any current or short-term capacity needs

Flexible by Design

While the web development and business world have embraced agile workflows, traditional hosting solutions like dedicated servers offer less agility to match. Physical hardware requires physical changes to amend available resources, so you will need to move to another server or accept lengthy downtime if you want to, for instance, upgrade your disks on a dedicated server.

As a result, merchants and hosting providers are always keen to make sure their dedicated servers have surplus power to allow for growth. This does, however, mean you may be paying for resources you simply don’t need all the time. By hosting on Amazons’ AWS Cloud, you can upgrade your resources, quickly and easily, with only a brief moment of disruption to achieve the upgrade.

“Cloud infrastructure provides Merchants with exceptional performance, unrivalled flexibility, agility and resource availability. In an increasingly agile business world we think that AWS ecommerce hosting is the future.” Tom Ashworth, Technical Director

Clouding Your Judgement: The Unforeseen Costs of Traditional Hosting Platforms

A dedicated server can serve its purpose for ecommerce stores with steady or predictable growth and consistent transaction levels, but merchants experiencing high growth, who operate on a fixed resource server, can incur unforeseen costs due to their inability to quickly respond to traffic demands. You may lose uptime and customers due to downtime for server upgrades or migrations; you may have to pay extra for developer resources during this period; not to mention the knock-on effects of a stressful, difficult period while your store struggles to cope with demand. These can all be unpleasant surprises and can have a knock-on effect on your growth and business.

Cloud platforms such as Amazon’s AWS bring a greater level of agility than is possible with most traditional datacentre hosting options. They can provide rapid server scalability to resource levels previously only available to the largest global enterprises. With Nublue’s new hosting solution, we are making these extensive resources more readily available to the everyday ecommerce professional. Using AWS ecommerce hosting you can be upgraded in a moment, allowing near-immediate access to the additional resources your store needs.

With this simple powerful flexibility, you can quickly upgrade your hosting platform to prepare for or react to increases in growth and client footfall. You can be ready for Black Friday, prepare for the Boxing Day Sales, or respond to that celebrity endorsement with ease. If you expect traffic to reduce at a later date you can simply scale your resources back to a lower level. This means that, unlike with traditional physical hosting, you can pay for what you need with confidence, instead of paying for more than you require.

Surely There’s A Catch?

Of course, every platform has downsides, and hosting an ecommerce site on AWS is no exception.  The downsides range from what most would consider negligible to more significant.

The most significant downside to hosting an ecommerce site on AWS is that doing so requires a great deal of knowledge of Linux, web servers and hosting technologies as well as constant monitoring and updating of these systems. AWS is also a complex and intricate system that is not very user friendly if you don’t know what you are looking for, or what you want to get out of it. There are many qualifications and training courses that are available to make you proficient and confident on all aspects of the AWS platform but they, of course, take time and expertise to complete and utilise effectively.

Merchants trying to run their own hosting platform may find they end up embroiled in hosting issues, perhaps with nowhere to turn depending on their experience and their hosting provider – and this can change your view on platforms and products, regardless of their actual worth if used effectively. If you are looking to manage the hosting of your ecommerce site on a cloud platform it is important that you have inhouse server administration skills, along with a strong knowledge of the relationship between your website and your hosting. If you don’t have this resource, it’s essential that you find a company that can manage your AWS cloud hosting for you and has experience of your ecommerce platform.

“By marrying the advantages of hosting your website on the AWS Cloud with Nublue’s advanced management and excellent customer support, you gain the benefits of hardware redundancy and swift resource upgrades to meet your business needs.” Ewan Macleod, Product and Support Manager.

At Nublue, we have Linux certified hosting experts which have over a decade experience providing optimised and secure ecommerce hosting solutions. This means we can expertly manage your hosting for you; monitoring your solution 24/7, handling your resources up and downgrades, resolving any security problems or compromises daily, all while keeping the server up to date so you don’t have to worry about any of these complex processes. On top of this, we are also an Agile agency with vast experience with ecommerce platforms such as Magento, so we’ll always be able to offer you the expertise required to look after your ecommerce store. Ultimately, this lets you gain the benefits of AWS and Magento without having to manage the platforms yourself – leave us to look after your hosting for you, handling the complex systems on your behalf, so you can focus on the success and growth of your ecommerce store.

Conclusions

When it comes to deciding if cloud hosting is right for your ecommerce store, in our view, you need to decide if there are good reasons to not use cloud hosting. Cloud hosting is particularly well suited to fast growing stores or stores with big seasonal fluctuations as it can be scaled up and down with ease in comparison to a dedicated server, which can’t. If you have relatively steady levels of transactions for most of the year and only moderate fluctuations at times such as Black Friday and Christmas, a dedicated server may be comparable or even slightly more cost effective than managed AWS hosting. However, we feel the benefits of extreme flexibility to scale as required and AWS’s proven infrastructure makes cloud hosting a great proposition for most growing merchants or those prone to big changes in traffic at specific points in the year.

If you want to know which hosting platform your store is best suited to please get in touch and one of our experts will be happy to advise.

OUR CLIENTS’ TOP ECOMMERCE FEATURES


Vaimo will be exhibiting at eCommerce Show North this year.


At Vaimo, our clients are consistently reaching new heights as we work with them to drive success in digital commerce. And with clients across sectors and industries, success can take different forms.

It might be an enhanced customer experience, greater business efficiencies or growth in online sales. Whatever it is, Vaimo works closely with our clients to deliver features and solutions which lead to tangible results. In the first of many more articles, we’re going to explore some of our clients’ top features and functionalities which are helping them to accelerate their online sales and grow their digital footprints.

‘Build Your Own’ with I.Ma.Gi.N. Jewels

I.Ma.Gi.N. Jewels has an eCommerce site fit for the demanding needs of the modern day customer. And a key piece of its enhanced customer experience puzzle is the innovative ‘Build Your Own’ function. This allows customers to build and customise their own necklaces, adding charms to suit their style and personality. Customers can also engrave products with a personal message of their choosing which they can carry around at all times. For a truly personalised experience, the Vaimo-developed functionality allows users to walk through this process in real-time—with an immediate view of how the product will look in real life.

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BAUHAUS Sweden’s end-to-end customer experience

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BAUHAUS Sweden brings customer experience full circle with its pioneering in-house last mile delivery. The pilot project went live in early 2018 and features BAUHAUS’ Sweden own logistics solution with the support of a native internal app for BAUHAUS employees which supports deliveries for both B2B and B2C customers. The native app controls the flow for drivers and distribution centre personnel. There is also an integration with a PTV system for routing deliveries and a modified Magento Commerce order flow. This feature removes all friction from the home delivery experience as customers are able to track and review orders in real time. This has led to increased customer satisfaction and employee engagement.

Selver’s optimised picker journey

Supermarket powerhouse, Selver, operates a distribution centre dedicated to the fulfilment of online orders. Using order management, and through a number of Vaimo-developed configurable elements, the warehouse pickers’ routes are optimised for efficiency. This means that pickers can complete orders in the quickest time possible whilst covering the least amount of ground. Plus, with the help of data, Selver has arranged the distribution centre so that pickers have easy access to the most popular (and most regularly ordered) everyday items. This all provides Selver’s pickers with an easier and more intuitive process which is then passed onto the customer through quicker online order deliveries.

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The Lounge Co’s Product Configurator

Vaimo developed a Product Configurator which allows customers to effortlessly follow steps to select the type of sofa, followed by size, fabric and feet. Built using React, the Configurator completely replaces the standard method of option selection on configurable products. Through the development of the configurator, The Lounge Co. uses visualisation so that customers can truly picture what they are buying without needing to see the product in person.

Leveraging user-generated content with Helly Hansen

As part of Helly Hansen’s Magento 2 build, user-generated content (UGC) was implemented on the site to drive conversions and build trust. Using the Yotpo platform, Helly Hansen draws on the power of social proof by integrating UGC throughout the customer journey. This is particularly powerful in the eCommerce arena where consumers are craving validation and reassurance from their like-minded counterparts prior to purchase. To see how UGC works in practice, check out this case study to see how Vaimo grew Helly Hansen’s online YoY sales by 45% through Yotpo integration.

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Building your dream Jaguar with the Nic. Christiansen Group

In response to the huge demand for the concept of Jaguar’s new I-PACE model, Vaimo delivered a conversion store where customers could register their interest in the vehicle. The solution allows customers to walk through four intuitive steps, inputting details about the car they would like to purchase—this calculates an overall price and leads to a final check-out page. The site commits customers to their choice with full transparency of visual details and pricing, giving them the feeling that they have pre-ordered the car.

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 To hear the latest on our client successes, subscribe to our blog today and discover how we are focused on driving success in digital commerce to our clients!

How to Be a Better eCommerce Leader and Inspire Your Team

The phrase, “Pick a boss, not a job,” has become popular in recent years, as company loyalty has been diluted in a digital world that brings constant change.

So, strong leadership is important for inspiring staff to develop, thrive and embrace the company vision. You can’t do anything well without great people, and for great people to flourish, you need to be a great leader.

Space 48’s Founder and MD, Jon Woodall, offers his advice for Heads of eCommerce on how to become better leaders and inspire their eCommerce teams.

Communicate Effectively and Empower Your Team

Effective communication is crucial. This applies to one-to-one interactions, as well as communications in meetings, workshops and during project planning. Fully understanding your team is vital.

We recommend that you assess the different personality types within your eCommerce team, as this will help you to understand individual traits and enable you to adapt and have better conversations.

Keep developing, improving and be inspired by others

You should always be open to learning, improving your skills and seeking inspiration from other leaders and thinkers. Being a good leader is about listening and learning from others, to make the right decisions more often than not.

Encourage your team to do the same and promote development from within. This will help your team to move out of their comfort zone and expand their skills. No matter what the job role or level of seniority, every team member should have a voice and a platform to create an impact.

Learning is a key part of Space 48’s culture, and in our new office we created a space that would be the perfect environment to take this learning and development culture forward.

Be passionate about tech trends and changes

eCommerce is a fast-evolving industry and to be a successful Head of eCommerce you need to have a passion for technology and data. You should demonstrate this passion to inspire your team to embrace change and be innovative.

Your team will look to you for inspiration and direction, so providing an energetic and innovative working atmosphere will have a positive impact on your team.

Learn from your mistakes

The key to being a successful leader is to learn from your mistakes and be agile enough to make bold changes where necessary – we fully advocate mistake-driven success.

Don’t fear making big decisions, as you’re not going to get them all right. The more you learn from your mistakes (rather like how boxers often come back stronger from defeats and learn things about themselves through their failures), the easier it will become.

Build the right team around you

We aspire to work with the brightest people and our recruitment and acquisition approach reflects this. It’s important to create a varied dynamic of different personality types, skills and strengths. When it comes to growth, we strive to work with innovative individuals and ambitious organisations.

Surround yourself with amazing people and ensure your team has the right balance. This will make inspiring and leading your team much easier.

Summary

We hope you found these leadership tips and insights useful. A successful ecommerce team needs a good leader, who commands respect by demonstrating the right attitude and building the right working culture for people to develop and improve.

How marketplace technology is changing how we shop for warehouse space


LogistCompare will be exhibiting at eCommerce Show North this year.


The booming of e-commerce has dramatically increased the demand for warehouse space. 

Ecommerce, by its own nature, needs three times more space than brick-and-mortar retailing. More space is required for inventory, automation and labour. In the UK only, we spend over £7 billion per year in returns; 60% of the goods shopped on line are sent back versus only 6% of the goods bought in store. 

Approximately 235 million sq.ft. of warehouse space were bought or leased between 2007 and 2018; this is the equivalent to more than 3000 Wembley stadiums.

Companies are also investing heavily in their warehousing technology, with companies are spending between £30m and £100m to innovate by using a fully autonomous supply chain such as cutting-edge robotics and automated pickers.

It’s a fast-paced market, ever demanding and filled with impatient shoppers. In UK, 30-40% of the warehouse occupiers are ecommerce and analysts predict that while their penetration is currently peaking between 17% and 20% of total UK sales, this could easily reach 22% or higher.

What we are experiencing at the moment, is a “shared economy” that has completely reshaped the estate industry. Warehouses are changing the way their space is utilized and increasing number of occupiers are renting space on-demand or pay-as-you-go basis and booking pallet space by day or week. 

This “agile” way to look for space is the foundation of marketplace technologies that can support retailers to respond to the “want it now” culture. 

LogistCompare, the “Airbnb for warehousing” as per our customers’ statement, offers customers the opportunity to make the transition from the traditional warehouse search – which is not able to match the fast-paced customer demand- to an agile distribution model, which allows retailers to search, compare and book warehouse space instantly.

Currently 19% of customers want deliveries within 30 minutes, 28% in less than 1 hour and 21% in less than 2 hours. However, customers are also reluctant to pay more for faster deliveries with 54% opting out if asked to pay more. 

The demand for faster deliveries is increasing the demand for urban warehouses. When building in dense-populated cities, the only way to expand space is vertically. 

LogistCompare has a network of over 2,000 warehouses scattered across UK, which are easily reachable through our platform. Our typical customer can book space on-demand, for a short or long- term storage with full visibility of any additional logistics services supplied by the provider. 

We are witnessing an increase in customers that want short leases; even when they have invested heavily upfront, it’s hard for them to invest in long term (10 years or so) because of the ever-changing demand for space capacity. Retailers are increasingly adopting the “on-demand” warehouse model that allows them to optimise logistics competencies, to increase speed of deliveries while saving in distribution and fixed costs.

Our customers’ demand for additional space stems from various scenarios including 1) seasonal demands – most of our clients require 25-30% additional capacity between September and December 2) Samples of new orders 3) After-Sale inventory  and 4) Over-flow capacity.

We are also witnessing an increasing number of organizations (often bigger retailers) that have spare capacity (20-40% extra space) during the first two quarters of the year. Companies often do not have plans for this excess capacity other than to accept it as the price to pay to do business. With peaks between October and December, they need to make sure that they can have enough capacity for those months, and therefore absorb the costs for the rest of the year.

LogistCompare helps customers to fully utilize their space during the year and to generate revenue from dead space that is killing their profits daily. 

There is a sea change in the way companies are implementing their distribution model. Marketplace technologies strategically support customers with innovative new solutions to maximise these opportunities. 

This is really a game changer!

WILL OMNICHANNEL MARKETING BOOST YOUR BUSINESS?


Kelkoo Group will be exhibiting at eCommerce Show North this year.


2018 has been a dismal year for the UK high street. According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, almost 3,200 stores have shut since 2014, with much-loved brands such as Debenhams, House of Fraser and John Lewis announcing country-wide cutbacks and poor profits.

Experts have even gone on to suggest that 2082 could be the year the high-street dies, but if you are a retailer looking to break into ecommerce and omnichannel opportunities, worry not – you have 64 years on your side.

Omnichannel marketing has become key to marketing success as customers engage with companies in a variety of ways, including in a physical store, online via websites and mobile apps, through physical and virtual catalogues, and through social media. People also interact with brands and companies using apps on smartphones, tablets, desktop computers, and laptops. The challenge for organisations is to make all of these interactions and experiences as seamless, consistent, and effective as possible for customers.

Looking to improve your omnichannel approach or buoyed on by the success of ASOS? Read on to find out how you can give your business the boost that it needs…

Put the customer first

Just as you would in a bricks and mortar store, put the customer first if you want to turn clicks into conversions in your online shop. Omnichannel is positioned to help you to provide a better user experience for consumers, and better yet, you can use your in-house knowledge and experience accrued from bricks and mortar business to improve your overall digital profile. Begin by using any first-party data that you have and use it – from user profiles to online search behaviour or even stats from SalesForce or your internal CRM, you can shape this information to provide an experience that will keep your customers coming back to your store.

Rethink your digital approach

From Starbucks to Ted Baker, big brands are going digital to improve their shopping experience for customers. It takes more than just an app to improve your omnichannel approach. Research has shown that 47% of shoppers who engage with brands on 10 more channels will make purchases from their favourite companies at least once a week, compared to 21% who just engage on up to four channels. From showcasing your offering on Instagram to rewarding your retailers instore for online purchases, a successful digital strategy is key for the success of your omnichannel campaign.

Consider the bigger picture

The way that we shop is changing on an almost monthly process, with new apps and mobile technology designed to improve user experience, while offering speed and convenience. Do consider the bigger picture and ensure that your omnichannel approach is flexible enough to shape and develop with the times.

Keen to learn more about how ecommerce is shaping the future of the British high-street? Robin Lewis, Strategic Partnerships Manager, will be presenting at Manchester-based trade show Ecommerce North this 6th and 7th November. Contact us to book a meeting with our UK Sales team, at stand 70…

LogistCompare – Key to growth in 2019


LogistCompare will be exhibiting at eCommerce Show North this year.


For any retailer looking to grow in 2019 an efficient supply chain will be the key.  

The steps in your supply lines form your supply chain ecosystems – an intricate interweaving of information and product flows connecting “organisations, industries and economies”. A developed supply chain ecosystem provides a tactical, multifaceted and worldwide competitive advantage. New rivals face great difficulty entering or competing with an already established system of customer-supplier relationships across continents.

Today, in every forward-thinking business, the chief supply chain officer is likely to sit on the corporate board. This shows how vital supply chain functions have become in enabling a business to thrive, driving revenue and differentiating against the competition. 

In this cut-throat arena, companies must continuously strive to enhance their warehousing, transport and inventory management capabilities. This is where LogistCompare sits and helps global companies grow. 

The key to LogistCompare is four parts:

1. Visibility – Use technology to have full visibility of your current warehousing.

2. Collaboration – Assign clear responsibility and accountability among your logistics network partners.

3. Flexibility – Watch for changes in supply and demand, and have an agile, adaptive response prepared.

4. Speed – enabling a “rapid-response mechanism”; act immediately to address threats or needs.

London, Lille, Dubai, Chicago and Atlanta are crucial logistics hubs, but who ensures that these ports and terminals connect to “empower global trade”? 

LogistCompare gives our clients direct access to “freight, transport, warehousing and planning services” which is the glue that binds together various points in your chain and enables your growth. LogistCompare offers our clients innovative solutions to help them cut transportation costs, reduce inventory and make the most effective use of our logistics assets. 

Our clients see that we are key for any company that is looking to strive for greater economies of scale and larger “geographical footprints.”

5 WAYS TO MAXIMISE YOUR ECOMMERCE ROI


Vaimo will be exhibiting at eCommerce Show North this year.


So, your eCommerce store is up and running, orders are flying in and you’re capitalising on all the benefits that an online store has to offer—of which there are many.

But despite the limitless opportunities that eCommerce provides, you might well still be wondering, Am I doing everything I can to maximise the ROI of my online store? and Are there any tweaks I can make to improve this?

These are useful questions to ask.

After all, competition is fierce and customer expectations are growing by the second. It’s crucial, therefore, that you consistently look to improve your site to keep up in this rapidly-changing commerce landscape.

In this article, we’re going to explore 5 methods to help you squeeze every last drop of ROI from your eCommerce site.

Read on to boost your ROI today…

Increase Average Order Value

Do you sometimes get the feeling that your sales are plateauing? Or that your average order value (AOV) is remaining at consistently low levels? One method to address this is to focus on customer acquisition. But a far more valuable method is increasing the average checkout spend of your existing customers.

Here’s how you can do it:

  • Incorporate personalised recommendations on product pages and at checkout. By placing an appropriate product directly on a customer’s lap (rather than them searching for it) you’re more likely to complete a new sale.
  • Offer complementary products on the product page or when checking out. By offering handpicked items, directly related to the original product, you can ramp up AOV. Selling a camera? This is your perfect opportunity to offer a case, batteries, tripod, a photography ‘how to’ book, and more. The majority of products will have at least one complementary item that you can cross-sell. Or instead, upsell to customers by promoting an upgrade or higher value version of the product.

By introducing complementary accessories at checkout, Vaimo client, Blue City, saw sales for the month after launch exceed that of the whole year beforehand. Learn more here!

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Use Email to Nurture Customer Relationships

Email marketing provides you with direct access to your customer and so is a crucial tool in maximising your eCommerce strategy. And whilst your email contact book is a great asset, it also means that you need to treat it with the utmost respect—otherwise your customers will be unsubscribing like there’s no tomorrow. It’s vital that you put the necessary thought and craft into your emails so that it provides real value for your customers.

Drive up your sales today using email in the following situations:

  • Post-purchase is an ideal time to engage with your customer. Whether it’s offering extra product information, aftercare, special discounts on the next purchase or relevant complementary products, this email campaign allows you to keep up a dialogue with your customer, build trust and nurture your developing relationship.
  • Research indicates that average cart abandonment is high—almost 70%, but that abandoned cart emails have a relatively high open rate of 44%. Again, there’s a chance here to use email to re-engage with abandoned cart customers and to direct them back to complete that sale!

Generate Social Proof

Social proof is a demonstration that other people have purchased and enjoyed a particular product/service, thereby encouraging you to do the same. This is particularly powerful in the eCommerce arena where consumers are craving validation and reassurance from their like-minded counterparts prior to purchase. Your business can tap into the power of social proof by integrating user-generated content (UGC) throughout the customer journey.

UGC is extremely cost-effective and, as consumer-led text, is valuable to other shoppers and to search engines. Regardless of whether you already have purchase intent, and regardless of whether you know exactly what to buy, you will still look at what others have said. So leverage UGC on your site (through reviews, testimonials or social posts) to build trust, brand loyalty and ultimately sales.

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To see how UGC works in practice, check out this case study to see how Vaimo grew Helly Hansen’s online YoY sales by 45% through integration with our partner Yotpo.

Simple and Secure Checkout

You can have the best looking site, with the smoothest navigation and the most aesthetically pleasing design, but that’s all for nothing if a customer does not or cannot go through with their final purchase with ease. Imagine the scenario where a customer is ready and willing to make a purchase but then as they try to do so, they encounter problems. They get redirected to another site in order to finalise the payment, the store is in another country where the credit card is not accepted, the payment authorisation is not instantaneous and so the customer abandons the shopping cart.

At a time when customers hold all the cards in the merchant/customer relationship, it’s crucial that you offer payment options that are quick (think the tap of a button), easy (no extra logins needed) and secure.

At Vaimo, we integrate a number of payment platforms to drive success for our clients. Download the Vaimo Partners Guide today to learn more about how these platforms boost conversions through quick and easy checkout experiences.

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Be Where your Customers are

If there’s one thing that the modern day customer is not… then it’s static. Your customers’ movements and interactions with your brand are fluid. Not only are customers flipping between devices but they’re also jumping across your channels—be it in one store, another store, your eCommerce site, your Instagram page or your customer support.

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It’s key to keep this in the back of your mind as you plan and develop your eCommerce strategy. After all, customers want a relationship with you at every touchpoint, and they want to know that you care about them (in and amongst the millions of other shoppers out there).

So in terms of eCommerce ROI, the creation of compelling and value-adding digital experiences lies at the heart of all other initiatives. Because this is what will deepen customer relationships, drive brand loyalty and lay the foundations for long-term and secure growth.

9 Tips to Smash Search-led Conversion Rates in 2019


Klevu will be exhibiting at eCommerce Show North this year.


Are you looking to dramatically improve conversion rates for your online store in 2019? This article reveals savvy tips you could be missing out on in order to gain maximum conversion rates for your store.

A brand new year has kicked off, which means it is time to take control of your e-commerce conversion rates and beat 2018’s results. Don’t let your mistakes from last year bog you down, instead, take a deep breath and get excited for rest of the 2019, the year of your success!

This is the year for your e-commerce store to grow, experience a dramatic surge in traffic coming to your store, notice an increase in exposure around your marketing campaigns and a boost in sales as a result. You need to look back over 2018, review it, figure out exactly what went right, what went wrong and how you can best learn from these results.

Modern shoppers want to find what they want, make it easy for them

We’re human and it’s in our nature to aspire for more relevant choices. This is one of the major reasons the e-commerce world is growing at such speed. Relating to the ease and convenience of shopping online, consumers are choosing to shop less on the high street and buy more items online, having items delivered straight to their door via just a few clicks.

As a result, the e-commerce world is growing year on year, meaning the competition for online retail business is immense (and still exciting).

The amount of competition makes the industry saturated and means it is extremely important for e-commerce CEO’s, managers, marketers and so on… to optimise site search and navigation in order to break through the noise.

In our learning, over 20% of the monthly sessions on your site may use search as primary form of navigation; that increases even up to 60% during the holiday season.

Including search optimisation in your new and improved conversion strategy is critical to your success in 2019.

For that reason, we’ve pulled together 9 tips to guide you through optimising your site search and navigation in order to ensure your site will drive more conversions through search and very few (easy), clicks in 2019.

1. The Perfect Search Bar Position

Search can be the fastest route for customers to discover your products if you do it well. And, finding the “sweet spot” for your search bar is a crucial part of starting your consumer’s discovery.

During the first few seconds of landing on your store, your customers will begin their browsing journey and more often than not, they look for the search bar before anything else.

So, in order to meet your customer’s expectations, you must have a search bar on your site and it should be placed so that it is instantly visible and accessible.

In addition, the visibility of your search bar on all devices such as mobile or tablet is not to be neglected. Having an optimised and user-friendly search bar across all mediums provides consumers with a seamless and uninterrupted shopping experience throughout their customer journey.  

Bonus tip: always use a search icon (i.e. magnifying glass) when optimising your search bar for mobile or tablet. This will highlight the search bar when it has shrunk in size and is no longer visible.

By having a fully optimised search bar across all devices, you will be seen as a highly competitive brand and will delight your customers; keeping them coming back for more.

Whereas online retailers that only focus on optimising search on desktops will suffer from a loss in sales as a result, (even the biggest brands).

Examples

In the example below, Bathroom Takeaway use a distinctly large search bar, perfectly placed at the top of the landing page, in centre view for desktops. The size and placing of their search bar makes a big difference to visibility and persuades shoppers to enter a query as soon as they land on the site.

Mobile optimisation

In relation to mobile search, Soak & Sleep have optimised their site to be fully responsive for mobile shoppers by using an elongated search bar. This enhances the user experience for shoppers using their mobiles phones to search for, or filter to specific products they want to find.

Visitors on mobile are on the move and could exist even faster from the store if they don’t get their relevant discovery done real quick. Having very apparent search bar gives them an opportunity to access the entire catalog by just writing a keyword that transmits the shopping intent.

2. Quick Search Overlay

As pictured below, you can make the customer journey more enjoyable by speeding up the search process with a quick search overlay. The search overlay feature allows your customers to dive into your catalogue faster.

As shown below, by searching “sofa” in the search bar on Made.com, the search bar reveals a drop down overlay featuring product images and details within this category. These suggestions kick in after just one keystroke in the search bar, offering the shopper multiple options within search.

This feature reduces the time in which customers are searching for products and filtering through category pages, making it easy and convenient, boosting your sales as a result.

Bonus tip:  FYI even the giants like Amazon do not bring relevant products on single click in search box. This is because of the billions of products in it’s catalogue. So, if you want your e-commerce store to overtake the powers of Amazon, consider utilising a quick search overlay.

3. Placeholder Text

Placeholder text within search is an extremely powerful technique to provoke engagement on your online store. Placeholder text is the copy placed in the search bar for customers to read before they make a search query.

However, many big brands don’t recognise the power of persuasive placeholder text and are still using simple keywords within their search bar, such as a simple command like “search here”.

For example, pre-suggested topics or categories within the search bar will prompt shoppers to navigate where you want them to go and give your customers the confidence to make more detailed search queries.  

You could start by adding popular search suggestions within your placeholder text to drive consumers to products you know historically perform well or sell quickly.

Take a look at ASOS for example. This online store uses the placeholder text to encourage shoppers to search for more than just products using a clever sentence ‘Search for items, brands and inspiration’, letting the shopper know they can search for more than products.

4. Personalised Trending Search

If you want to enhance your customer’s journey even further, you should consider personalising your search according to your customer’s individual shopping behaviours.

With the power of machine learning, Klevu allows online retailers to display “machine learned” recommendations within search. This speeds up the buying process for your customers by giving them more opportunity to quickly and seamlessly navigate to the checkout.

How is this possible? Machines learn your customer’s shopping behaviours and browsing history and utilizes this pre-learned information to build customer profiles. These profiles are then tapped into in order to show returning customers products they will be ready to buy: even before they start searching.

To clarify, based on observations from cookies, visitor sessions, ip-addresses, clicks and checkouts, it is possible for machine learning to build a demographic characteristic of your visitors and optimise search results accordingly.

Not only that but search results become “ultra personalised” as they spend more time on your store.

Bonus tip: consumers using search on your site are very likely to know exactly what they are looking for. This makes them high intent buyers. Consider using personalised search to recommend higher margin products, or more expensive products to profile the items you want to sell first and increase the average order value of that product.

Bulletproof Coffee utilises this method very well by prompting consumers to look at popular searches and trending products in the search bar overlay without shoppers entering a single character in the search bar.

5. Consistent Marketing Strategy

In order to continue building trust and strong, meaningful relationships with your customers, it is critical to make sure that your marketing campaigns across all channels are consistent and aligned. This means you must keep your merchandising marketing team aware of any other marketing campaigns you are running: online and offline.

You can do this by simply sharing an editorial calendar and having regular meetings to discuss marketing strategy.

In relation to searchthe products you promote within the search result need to reflect your overall marketing strategy. For example, if your customers receive an email promoting a sale for backpacks, it would be disappointing for them to find the sale was not visible when visiting your online store via the links in the email.

With smart search tools like Klevu, you can apply “boosting rules” to products to improve visibility within the search bar meaning customers will instantly see promotions.


As you can see from Fjallraven, product listings can be optimised within the dropdown overlay to reflect stock levels, best sellers, what’s trending and promotions. These must be aligned with all of your marketing campaigns on mediums such as social media, email, promotional banners and anything else you’re doing.

6. Promotional Banners

Consumers today are always looking for the best deal online. Shoppers want to get the most value for their money and since the Christmas holiday season has come to an end, your customers are looking to spend their Christmas money now.

This means now is the time to incorporate promotional banners in your online store in order to break through the noise and stand out from competing brands and their promotions.

Even if you have the BEST deal, it isn’t going to be effective without it being visible everywhere. And guess what? Banners are big, they are shiny and they are obvious.

Visually appealing banners showing promotions are eye catching when they are carefully and strategically placed. So, consider featuring a banner for specific search queries on your search overlay and category pages. This will synchronize campaigns and showcase your unmissable deals.

It makes sense: customers searching for a brand, product or item already have high-intent to buy. So, placing a promotional offer in front of them by using a promotional banner will further instill interest, and persuade the shopper to buy, increasing your sales as a result.

In the image below, you can see that Daily Steals display a promotional banner in the search results when shoppers type in “apple” as the search query.

7. Plan for Errors

Humans aren’t only lazy but they are also prone to making mistakes. And, guess what, your shoppers will make mistakes when searching for products. They will misspell product or brand names, for instance, when searching for want they want to find on your online store.

This means “no results found” frequency might be quite high when analysing your data connected to search results. Fear not, by having a third party solution to handle “error tolerance” your store can pick up on simple mistakes so you can offer an uninterrupted customer journey, even when shoppers make mistakes.

As you can see in the image above, when there is no result found, there is nothing offered to the shopper. The word ‘cactus’ has returned no results and there are no alternative products displayed. This is a massive opportunity missed to engage and promote similar products to the customer, running the risk of a loss in sales.

In comparison, O’neills have taken advantage of this functionality to engage with shoppers when they make mistakes. As you can see from the image above, O’neills have displayed alternative products for the error search query “under armourrrrr”. Suggestions include similar products and items that have been viewed by customers who apparently made the same error.

8. Slang Words

Having good quality data in your catalogue does not guarantee customers will necessarily find items they are looking for. Most standard out of the box solutions are keyword matching, meaning your customer will have to type in the exact match to find the product.

However, if you think outside of the box and add extra synonyms to describe your products such as niche abbreviations of a product, or industry specific slang terms, your customers will find more products to buy.

Top tip: keep an eye out for new slang terms, continue to enhance your product catalogue and content pages to make sure they are being found in search.

 9. Review Site Search Data Weekly

You must review and analyse your site search data on a weekly bases in order to pinpoint what’s going right, what’s going wrong and how you can learn from this to improve your site search optimisation.

As pictured below, you can do this from your search Google Analytics dashboard: providing you with invaluable insights that will help you understand your customer’s shopping habits and know exactly what they are looking for on your site.

Core metrics to look out for include:

  • Queries,
  • Clicks,
  • Add to basket
  • Conversions
  • Core behavioural data in Google Analytics.

Use the data to take the lead and drive conversions like never before so that your e-commerce business stays ahead, beats the competition and is successful in 2019.  

Summary

Search experience is of paramount importance to higher conversions for online shops. It not only affects conversion rates but it also impacts the experience shoppers have with your brand post-sale. In this article, we provide 9 important tips to uplift the search performance on store to smash higher conversions in 2019.

The tips in this article cover some of the detailed aspects of search including, (but not limited to) search box placeholder, responsiveness on devices, personalisation, quick search overlay, banners, error tolerance and insights from shopper’s search behaviour.

Get ready for a great year!

FIVE CONSUMER TRENDS THAT ARE SET TO SHAPE 2019


Kelkoo Group will be exhibiting at eCommerce Show North this year.


In an increasingly competitive retail sector, today’s consumers expect more from brands than ever before.

Shoppers needs are shaping the way that retailers and market their business, providing an experience that is more than just clicking and selecting a product on a page. These five trends will help you to grow your online store and continue to grow and expand your business in 2019 and beyond.

Augmented reality

From trying a new item of furniture out before you buy, to tailored ads and individual product recommendations, augmented reality and the power of personalised algorithms are shaping the way that consumers shop. Furniture giants Ikea and Wayfair have even developed their own apps, enabling browsers to place their products in their own homes. While luxury retailers such as Burberry have even developed an app allowing shoppers to browse and shop the latest catwalk trends as they are unveiled during Fashion Week.  Boost your opportunities for brand engagement, and customers will keep coming back to your store

Social shopping

From Instagram Shopping to tagged shopping hauls on Youtube, social channels are speeding up the overall customer experience – a fact that Pureplay retailers are using as an integral part of their campaigns. Speed and convenience are now key for today’s social shopper – so if you have not yet made the most of social media then you could risk getting left behind.

Embracing everybody

According to the “The Trends Shaping 2019,” a new report from credit card company Alliance Data, body positivity and gender neutrality are seeing brands having to rethink the value in each and every shopper. From fashion brand Boohoo embracing un-airbrushed models, to Chanel launching their own makeup line for men, inclusiveness is a key tend for the 2019 retail landscape.

Bot reviews

With businesses and consumers exchanging over 8 billion Facebook messages on a monthly basis, and the retail industry ranking second when it comes to total messages sent, Facebook Messenger is leading the way with the power of Messenger bots. From bots to combat cart abandonment to enabling consumers to place their orders via the Facebook app, chatbots are a must-have if you are looking to create a memorable shopping experience during 2019.

Experiences and interaction

As consumers are looking for speed and convenience, changes are afoot when it comes to the items on which they are willing to spend their hard-earned cash. Experiences, from eyebrow waxing to hot air balloon rides are seeing brands rethink how to position their products during marketing campaigns. Ensuring that your store has a bespoke range of products and services will also boost your online sales.

Kelkoo Group has 20 years’ experience in ecommerce, digital advertising and consumer analytics. We can support your entire campaign, from set up through to tracking sales and conversion data to help you get the results your business needs to succeed.

Keep these consumer trends in mind and you are sure to remain at the forefront of shoppers’ minds.

How technology is aiding efficient execution of the last mile logistics


LogistCompare will be exhibiting at eCommerce Show North this year.


The transportation of the products to the delivery address and customer is typically referred to as ‘The Last Mile’; and is quickly becoming the most innovative and competitive section of the whole supply chain.

The drive to streamlining this section has increased significantly. Why? Namely because customers are becoming increasingly demanding, and this is largely due to the technological developments moulding them this way. Naturally, organisations are driving to meet this increase of demand for fear of losing customer trust and, most importantly, their repeat business. Innovative technology has recently made headway within last mile logistics. But what are these developments, and are they indeed making the last mile more efficient? 

Drones

A great example of innovation within the last mile is drones: for more information on drones and their future within the last mile you can read our blog here. Drones are perhaps the most attention grabbing piece of technology within the last mile. This is largely due to Amazon making significant progress within this area and, as a result, this development is causing both a stir and admiration. Drones are, unhindered by problems which face more traditional methods of transportation – such as traffic. The drone flies above this, both metaphorically and literally. Although a great technological leap towards making the last mile more efficient, drones are not without their critics. For instance, one such criticism is the possibility of drones being hacked, something which concerns enthusiasts and sceptics alike. 

Automation 

Automation is also aiding efficient execution of the last mile. Firstly, by automating both the picking and packing process of the supply chain, companies are able to get the products out much faster to their customers – while not the exactly the last mile, it is still crucial in order to enable a quicker lead time for the customer. Another way innovative automation technology is aiding the last mile is with the current exploration over the possibility of robots becoming delivery professionals. Whilst this, like drone technology, is being met with criticisms, it’s not entirely a new idea, as automation technology is already a key characteristic of most modern vehicles, such as the use of active lane assist, traction control, etc. While automation is appearing, and is ever-increasing in many areas, it is having a truly revolutionary effect in the world of logistics and arguably is the key for future efficiency within the last mile.  

Apps

Apps are a modern technological advancement which are helping the lives of many people, in many different ways, daily. This is also the case when it comes to logistics. The development of certain apps has enabled customers to be able to track their parcel’s delivery, and there are many benefits to this kind of technology. Not only does it help limit the opportunities for parcels to go missing, but also helps keep the delivery companies focused on efficiency, which yet again, aids in the execution of the last mile. 

Portals

With the current technology advancements, it’s becoming more important than ever to be able to give customers a great deal of visibility and control across the Supply Chain. Full visibility of last mile delivery is now crucial to retailers that need to meet demanding customer expectations. Portals can facilitate this operation; their complex algorithms can quickly get information that previously was harder to achieve. In the warehousing sector, LogistCompare is a new portal which links organisations who are looking for warehouse space with warehouse providers, and it’s currently free for retailers to use. Retailers will be able to find their warehouses and costs as well as review warehouses once they have used their services. 

The consistent demand, and strive to reach said demand, is paving the way for technology and innovative methods, ultimately leading to an efficient execution of the last mile. While the game and players may have changed, it seems the goal, to keep customers happy, has remained the same. 

One-hour delivery eCommerce challenge


LogistCompare will be exhibiting at eCommerce Show North this year.


In the UK, online retail sales exceeded £130 billion in 2017.

One fifth of shopping baskets are abandoned due to unsatisfactory delivery options” according to the distribution company Descartes. Basically, companies could substantially improve their sales by implementing the right delivery strategy.

What are the delivery options that can really make a difference to our clients? Customers are more often than ever looking for timed deliveries. Clients are not satisfied anymore with the standard 8-hours’ time waiting window; they want more precise deliveries, for example 1-hour delivery slots.

Retailers able to offer efficient and convenient delivery service can gain significant advantage over the competition. “Three quarters of people are more likely to reuse an online retailer if they are happy with the delivery – the most important factor” – according to E-Marketer.

There are two major factors that retailers need to factor in when managing such a challenge:

1.      Inventory location

2.      Delivery partners capabilities

Inventory location

The traditional model warehouses were often located out in rural areas where real estate was cheap. Hubs were large with big inventories to cover entire regions. Today, all that has changed. Now warehouses are built along transport routes and fitted with new, robotic pick and pack technology. Warehouse are smaller and offer a satellite distribution closer to customers.

Along with this new warehouse option, retailers’ strategies are changing dramatically and becoming a more critical piece of the e-commerce landscape. It’s a customer market that takes decisions from how the geographic location of each warehouse is chosen to how products are documented and loaded into the warehouse inventory. It’s crucial to ensure that inventories location have the enough stock available to satisfy their customers in a timely and efficiently manner.

Use of new technologies offers retailers competitive logistics and the ability to offer shipping options to keep their customers happy. The ability to search for warehouses online and match client expectation, needs to be supported by IT solutions such as LogistCompare, that can enable retailers to find warehouses options efficiently and cost effectively.

Delivery partners’ capability

Your business may have great staff, superb customer service, and an efficient system to get the goods out of the warehouse, but pass your brand to a delivery company to look after and you may risk to face serious delays that may compromise your brand credibility.

This is why some courier services are now seeking solutions to this challenge. New companies are offering retailers a professional workforce of couriers for hire – something they believe caters to the flexible, on-demand delivery service that consumers are growing accustomed to. It’s a customised service to give retailers peace of mind when delivering to their customers.

Last mile delivery is crucial to your customer shopping experience. Mapping technology allows retailers to simulate how much time is required to perform each outbound route and minimize travel time. They can use updated travel information to determine if routes should be changed and keep tabs on the location of drivers to identify issues that may delay arrival times.

Moving forward, customers in both the B2B and B2C world will expect a wide range of choices regarding delivery times. Investment in the right technology solutions will be the key component to ensure that the shipping function can have a competitive advantage and manage to match demanding customer expectations.

ECOMMERCE INTEGRATIONS FOR BUSINESS GROWTH AND SUCCESS


Vaimo will be exhibiting at eCommerce Show North this year.


“IWWIWWIWI”.

If you’re wondering why we’ve started with a jumbled set of ‘I’s and ‘W’s, then look a little closer. Because this acronym defines the modern-day customer that your business needs to connect with.

Yes—“I want what I want when I want it” is the mentality of the average shopper browsing your web store right now.

And this presents a number of headaches for businesses. Namely, what areas of eCommerce to focus on, what to prioritise and how exactly to go about delivering what customers want. What’s certain, though, is that businesses must take proactive steps to keep up with this trend.

Consumer expectations are rising. Businesses that are able to adapt, innovate and offer exactly what their customers crave will be rewarded. Those who fail to keep up will simply be left behind.

Luckily, integrations equip merchants with the means to address this challenge head-on. By coordinating your eCommerce store with your ERP, POS, OMS, CRM (and many more backend systems), integrations lead to the automation of processes, increased business efficiencies and enhanced customer experiences.

Let’s take a closer look at how integrations work in action…

Automation, automation, automation

The overriding benefit of integrations is that they automate your processes.

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Just imagine life without integrations. A customer places an order—it then needs to be processed, sorted through inventory, packed and shipped, manually. Data relating to order processing, stock updates and product information then needs to be passed around various teams and individual systems, risking the chance of errors, delays and slow responses.

Integrations, however, allow for the real-time bi-directional flow of information between systems. This instant process reduces the time involved and eliminates the chance of error. This is then passed onto your customers through accurate inventory updates, exact shipping details and a quicker service.

Plus, with the time saved, your staff can focus on adding value in other areas of the business. And without the risk of human error, you’ll also be saving on costs.

Trust and credibility

A big worry for businesses running on legacy systems is the risk of inaccurate inventory.

If a customer makes an order on your site only to be told the next day that the item is not actually in stock, it leaves a bad impression. Or what about the customer who eagerly goes to make a purchase on your site only to find out the item isn’t in stock, without any indication of when it might be?

The problem here is not only the lost sale—it’s the knock-on effect in terms of your reputation. Twenty years ago, a customer may have told a couple of friends about the poor experience on your site. But now, with a global social-media audience at our fingertips, this negative feedback can be broadcast to the world.

To avoid such a scenario being acted out, consider implementing integrations.

Having an integrated, single source of data means that inventory levels are consistent and accurate at all times across channels and locations. This then means that your web store is up-to-date, your customer service employees have a full overview of inventory status and your supply chain has the knowledge to re-stock as needed.

The end result is that you’ll instil trust in your customers.

At Vaimo, we integrate a number of our partner’s platforms to drive success for our clients. Download the Vaimo Partners Guide todayto learn about how these platforms boost conversions and revenue! 

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Order fulfilment

Through integrations, an order placed on your site is transferred directly to your ERP system. As well as minimising manual error, it also means that your fulfilment cycle can start right away, speeding up delivery.

Not only do your customers benefit from quicker and more accurate delivery, but in certain circumstances, they’ll also have the chance to make edits to the order. For example, they may have entered the wrong apartment number on the delivery address. But through self-service, they can update this as it will be automatically adjusted in your ERP system.

Fulfilment is a key part of your overall customer experience. And with deliveries getting speedier (same day is now common) and more accurate, integrations provide you with the tools to offer your customers a better fulfilment experience.

See how Vaimo worked with BAUHAUS Sweden to deliver a native app to support the store’s own logistics and fulfilment solution.

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Insight and strategic decision making

Integration with your customer relationship management (CRM) system opens up a wealth of opportunities to drive business success. By providing an instant overview of your customers’ purchasing behaviour and other data, you’ll have the power to offer optimised and frictionless experiences.

Having one single source of customer data, integrated with your eCommerce store, allows you to identify trends to which you can respond to immediately. And given how rapidly the eCommerce environment is changing, having the agility to quickly respond to customer demands will set you apart from the competition.

You might not be able to read your customers’ minds completely. But with CRM integration, you’ll certainly have a better understanding of their motivations and habits.

In turn, this allows you to finetune the customer experience for increased conversions.

Interested in hearing about the big eCommerce trends for 2019? Get the thoughts of our CEO, David Holender, who looks at the big topics for this year.

news.vaimo.comhubfstrends-2019-1

Scale up and offer more

The possibilities with eCommerce integrations are endless.

Not only can you improve internal efficiencies by integrating your ERP, CRM or OMS, but you can also offer customers new, exciting and useful features through a whole host of other integrations.

Take payment gateways.

When a customer hands over a sizeable chunk of their budget to purchase from you, they want the process to be secure and want to pay through their preferred method. They also want the process to be smooth, safe and without any nasty hidden surprises (don’t we all!).

The integration of intuitive and easy-to-use payment systems gives your customers the confidence to purchase from you. At Vaimo, for example, we work with a number of payment platforms including Klarna, Adyen and Vipps, so that our clients are equipped with the tools to offer seamless payments.

Along with payments, there are countless other platforms which can be integrated to drive user experience. These include such areas as marketing automation, personalisation and search.

With everything they have to offer, integrations are your gateway to creating compelling 360-degree customer experiences for long-term business growth.

Thinking of Migrating from Magento 1 to Magento 2?


Nublue will be exhibiting at eCommerce Show North this year.


Why You Should Migrate to Magento 2 Now.

It has been a few months now since the long-awaited announcement from Magento that support for Magento 1 will be coming to an end in June 2020.  Developers and ecommerce professionals alike have been waiting for the end of life date for Magento Open Source since the Commerce edition end of life was announced as June 2019, earlier last year.

For many, the decision to migrate from Magento 1 to Magento 2 has been hinged on this end of life date announcement.  Now Magento 1 users will need to start making plans to make the move if they want to remain both relevant and secure in the ever-evolving world of ecommerce.

Our certified Developers, Magento Solution Specialists and Magento Hosting experts share their advice on why an imminent move to Magento 2 is crucial for online retailers…

A Brief History:

Having worked with Magento from the beginning, we’ve seen it evolve and flourish into a world leading platform. Magento 2 was announced in 2010, with it’s full release coming 5 years later in November 2015.

The new version was not without its teething issues and following its initial release there were concerns in the industry as to the platform’s future. But with its vast community of developers, the current releases of Magento (2.1, 2.2 and recently 2.3) resolved many of its earlier concerns. This has resulted in the current platform providing a much better experience for developers, clients and end users alike.

When Magento 2.0 launched, Magento 1 was rumoured to have 3 years until support ceased for the platform, taking us to November 2018.  With the date never confirmed, many of us were awaiting an official announcement, which only came at the end of 2018 to confirm end-of-life was June 2020.

Benefits of Magento 2 for your customers, your development and your online team:

Magento 2 is a vastly improved platform, with the Commerce version offering benefits beyond those to the end user.  The new platform allows for cleaner development, meaning updates can be made quicker and more efficiently, as well as coming with a whole host of conversion-focused features and third-party integrations to deliver a great customer experience from click to parcel delivery.

“The features available on Magento 2 all work together to ultimately give your customers a better online experience, resulting in more conversions for your business.” Phil Shepherd – Digital Consultant.

An Enhanced Customer Experience

  • Pre-built integration with enterprise CMS services enables contextual commerce and personalization at scale
  • Enhanced search functionality enables and provides intuitive search
  • Two-step checkout and Paypal integration for faster, easier purchase
  • B2B Capabilities, including multiple buyers, self-service, SKU entry and streamlined order and quote management.
  • Omnichannel servicing provides your customers a rich shopping experience, after checkout, through integrations with Magento Order Manager and Magento Shipping.

Streamlining Your Business Operation.

“Your website needs to work for both your customers, and your business! Magento 2 Commerce pays close attention to admin panel features that empower non-technical teams.” Emily Garnett- Sales Manager

  • Drag and drop content management make it easy to keep your content up to date, without the need of IT specialists or developers
  • Content staging & preview enables forward planning of campaigns to ensure smooth, easy delivery of sales promotions and content, and allows your team to view future states of your site
  • Enhanced Merchandising functionality for categories streamlines work for your digital visual merchandisers, and campaign and trading managers
  • Easy to navigate, intuitive and customisable admin panels streamlines how your team works
  • Magento Business Intelligence informs improvements to conversion and customer journeys

Faster, Cleaner Development

“Magento 2 provides a number of advanced deployment tools to allow us to make deployment more automated- with automated deployment, we can increase success rates, reduce down-times, and ultimately, increase client satisfaction” Sam Butler-Thompson – Lead PHP Developer and Magento 2 Solution Specialist.

Magento 2 offers an easier upgrade path due to less friction caused by heavy reliance on extensions like its Magento 1 counterpart.  This results in quicker time to market, and reduced development costs.

So why the urgency to move now?

We’ve been encouraging our customers for the past year to move to Magento 2, not only because of the pending end of life of Magento 1, or the many benefits the new platform offers, but because this is the first step in remaining competitive and futureproofing their business. Some of the world’s top ecommerce brands have already made the move, including Paul Smith, Monin, Bauhaus and Helly Hansen.

“There is a huge focus from Magento on progressing the platform, with new updates and features being introduced all the time. Our clients who are choosing Magento 2 are remaining at the forefront of ecommerce trends, no longer left behind on an outdated platform.” Andrew Bailey – Production Manager and Magento 2 Solution Specialist.

Common Reasons for not migrating to Magento 2

We hear many reasons why clients are reluctant to move to Magento 2.  Here are some of the most common concerns and the response from our expert team:

“June 2020 is a good 18 months away… do I really need to move now?”

It’s true Magento have given us a good amount of notice for the Magento 1 End of Life date but for those businesses who have yet to make the move, they’re now in the same boat as their competitors who will all be keen to remain relevant and won’t want to be caught out using an unsupported platform. This will no doubt lead to demand for migrations to Magento 2 to increase, which could cause time delays and cost increases across the industry.

In addition, making an efficient move the Magento 2 requires time to ensure your new site is improved in the best way it can be. Make sure your business is in the queue early, allowing yourselves plenty of time to iron out the complexities of your project.  Act now and speak to your Magento agency about migrating your M1 store to ensure you can achieve everything you would like to before the deadline hits.

“We’ve only recently had our website updated on Magento 1”

Due to the fast paced and changeable nature of the technology and ecommerce industries, unfortunately, buying into a ‘new product’ may not actually be that ‘new’ as more up-to-date versions are created. Luckily, this doesn’t necessarily mean your time and money has been wasted as it could give you a good opportunity to review your website and decide what is good, what is bad and what you still need. This will often result in a much more manageable and futureproof website in the long term.

More specifically, moving your recently updated website from Magento 1 to Magento 2 can be possible in parts. For example, custom code used by a Magento 1 store is compatible with Magento 2 in most cases and several types of data can be migrated from Magento 1 to Magento 2. However, an incremental migration plan is advised in cases where significant downtime is not possible or if the data being migrated is large and complex to minimise errors. As with all things technical, not everything will be possible to be migrated to Magento 2, but by having an in-depth discussion with a Magento 2 partnered agency about your needs and goals of your website, it will be possible to see the results you want with the new platform.

“I can’t afford the investment”

If you use an Agile Agency you will be able to work up a Minimum Viable Product (or MVP), which means you don’t have to have the ideal end goal of a website live and paid for straight away. Working in an Agile way, you can talk strategically with your agency about your long term, bigger picture plans, and work together to come up with your own MVP – what you really need to be able to improve on what you currently have.

The new process also allows a much more flexible approach. The order in which sprints are completed can be chopped and changed by the client depending on changing priorities and budget. Each sprint has a predetermined MVP meaning that there is clarity over what each segment of work will achieve and giving you the ability to make informed decisions about the order in which work is completed. This version of your website may not have all the functionality and features that you want straight away – but it will be something you can put live in the interim whilst working in phases on adding all of the additional ‘nice to have’ elements.

“I’m concerned about disruption to my current site during the transition”

Migrating to Magento 2 should be fairly disruption free. If you have a successful trading Magento 1 site, your Magento 2 store can be built in the background. You will just need to ensure SEO basics are right, such as a thorough set of 301 redirects for any URL changes, good onsite optimisation and thorough testing of the Magento 2 build.

Using an agency such as Nublue, who have development and Magento hosting expertise under one roof, will help the transition when your new site is ready to go live.

“Magento 2 integrates and leverages a lot of modern hosting systems and solutions. It’s a more progressive and exciting platform that looks to the future, while Magento 1 reaches its EOL.” Rickie James – Systems Operations Agent.

“I heard it was a sub-par platform”

Following the initial release of Magento 2.0, the ecommerce community voiced concerns about some problems that the new platform brought with it.  This reputation had marred Magento 2’s image with some professionals but Magento 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3 have since eradicated many of these problems. Especially with the improved security features, PHP 7.2 support, introduction of elasticsearch and import/export enhancements in Magento 2.3, these developments have led the platform to result in being the world class platform it is today.

What to look for in an agency to move your Magento store forward

Migrating to Magento 2 is an important investment, so make sure that both the agency and hosting providers you choose are fully skilled and experienced in the platform. Ideally look for agencies who have an official partnership with Magento and certified teams who will have a better understanding of how to get the most out of the platform.

If you want to evolve your online store towards your bigger picture goals, and constantly stay ahead of your industry, you may wish to choose an agency which offer development retainers allowing you to work strategically on your website over time.

At Nublue, we are fortunate to have expertise in both the design, build and hosting of Magento ecommerce stores. So, we are not only able to create conversion focussed inspiring websites, but ensure they are performing as smoothly as possible, at all times – with the added benefit to our clients that they only need to deal with one company.

Whoever you choose to take your Magento website forward, ensure you speak to their expert consultants without delay. The clock is ticking with June 2020 and the end of Magento 1 approaching quicker than you may think.

HOW TO OUTRANK YOUR COMPETITORS THIS 2019 AND BEYOND


Kelkoo Group will be exhibiting at eCommerce Show North this year.


When it comes to outranking your competitors, website optimisation should play a key ongoing part of your business strategy.

If you want your online store to be easily found, then Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), will play a part of your digital upkeep. Just as for brick-and-mortar stores, SEO focuses on keywords, just as location would on the high street, ensuring that your search rankings go up and you continue to attract new customers.

So, if you feel that your business is failing to get the visibility that you deserve, these small changes will help you outrank your competitors this 2019 and beyond.

The power of three

If you are looking to optimise your web presence, then you will need to pay attention to three key factors: content, social media and SEO.

Today’s best SEO practices place focus on connecting brand content with customer journeys. Content is the reason why search engines exist, and engaging and exciting content is more likely to be shared across social channels – driving more traffic to your store and building your online following as a result. Using both search and social media will help drive discovery of your content, influencing transactions and interactions online.

Check your keywords

Choose high quality, relevant keywords to complement the content that you are sharing on your website. Sites with this type of content get ranked higher than sites that don’t. Check the keywords that you use in your blog, posts and web pages to ensure that e-Shoppers will continue to look for your business. Any combination of terms is fine to use, and it is ok to use ‘stop words’ in this instance, words that link keywords to make them coherent.

Optimise your website for mobile

With browser algorithms changing fast, fast loading mobile sites are beginning to rank higher over slower loading competitors. Research shows that 30% of users will click off a page if they have to wait over 6 to 10 seconds for a page to load. Check your website speed, as this could be slowing you down in more ways than one.

If you are looking to outrank your competition this 2019, then search and social networks will act as complementary drivers to your content – helping you to attract more visitors and boost your ecommerce sales.

Kelkoo Group has 20 years’ experience in ecommerce, digital advertising and consumer analytics. We can support your entire campaign, from set up through to tracking sales and conversion data to help you get the results your online store needs to succeed.

eCommerce – The warehouse space challenge


LogistCompare will be exhibiting at eCommerce Show North this year.


As the e-commerce 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 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 on the retailer requirements, warehouses need to be located in the right spot to be able to not only supply the customer but also 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 online, 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. Online 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 for 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.

Running a digital department can be a lonely job.

The brand’s digital future rests on your shoulders. But how do you know if you’re doing it right? How do you know if you’re focusing on the right things?

The brand new Journal of digital commerce has launched to help you hack your way through the digital jungle, with potent case studies and technology insights. In this issue you will hear from technology giant Magento, the resurgence of iconic toy brand Rubik’s Cube and sustainable fashion designer RAEBURN and many more.

Get the inside track on what other clever people in the industry are working on, with volume one of the Journal of digital commerce:

Click here to download your copy today

Magento 2.3 Has Been Released – Here’s What’s New…


Nublue will be exhibiting at eCommerce Show North this year.


28th November marks the first major release for Magento in almost a year with them releasing version 2.3.

This version focuses on packing more features into Magento out of the box, whilst also bringing Magento up to date with performance and security enhancements. Here’s what we can expect to see:

New Features Include:

  • Elasticsearch for all!
  • Multi-Source Inventory (MSI)
  • Improved Security Features
  • PHP 7.2 Support
  • Import/Export Enhancements
  • Asynchronous API
  • Page Builder

Elasticsearch for all!

Elasticsearch is an extremely popular search indexing tool which has been available for Magento Commerce customers for a while, allowing them to utilise more complex search queries and faster result responses to better sell their products.

With the growing popularity of Elasticsearch, Magento has opted to provide this support to everyone, including Open Source Magento stores. Elasticsearch can make your search results faster and has much less overhead than the usual MySQL search.

Multi-Source Inventory (MSI)

The Magento Community Engineering team has been working hard on the introduction of multi-source inventory management – allowing merchants to manage the movement of stock from multiple sources and the reservation of stock amounts for other purposes such as retail stock.

Alongside this also comes a more advanced stock allocation system, which should enable the ability for stock to be properly ring-fenced at the point of order placement. This should help merchants prevent over-ordering.

“Magento 2.3 has major focus on providing new features that’ll pack more punch out-of-the-box. More integral features means less reliance on extensions. With less extensions comes stability.” Sam Butler-Thompson, Lead Deverloper (Back-End)

Improved Security Features

Magento has packed in more security features for merchants to feel safe when selling their products online. Firstly, is the integration of Google reCAPTCHA out-of-the-box, allowing customers to prove they aren’t robots.

The second addition is Two-Factor Authentication on the Magento back-office. When enabled, back-office agents can confirm their identity using an app such as Google Authenticator. This allows merchants to be rest assured that only they can access their Magento admin panel.

PHP 7.2 Support

The latest release of PHP provides, amongst other things, a noticeable boost in performance to applications that use it. We’ve seen response time increases of approximately ~10% with internal tests – so it’s great news to hear that Magento has baked support for the next major PHP release into 2.3.

Note: Patches for 2.1.x and 2.2.x too which provide PHP 7.2 support will also be released, plus an official SUPEE patch for Magento 1 providing PHP 7.x support.

“Magento 2.3 provides new features to allow developers to integrate, extend and run Magento stores with stability and ease.” Siggi Sveinsson, Senior Front-End Developer

Import/Export Enhancements

Improvements in the data import and export tools of Magento should provide faster and more flexible tools to enable easier data management within your store.

Asynchronous API

The introduction of Asynchronous API into Magento’s already powerful API tools will also allow developers to produce integrations that can make requests to process large data without having to wait on the result. This is ideal for merchants that rely on integrations that require the management of a lot of data (such as stock of catalogue information), because it enables the integrations to be leaner and less resource-intrusive on a Magento system.

Page Builder

Earlier in the year, Magento purchased Blue Foot CMS – formerly a powerful CMS extension for the Magento platform. Version 2.3 marks the introduction of that functionality out-of-the-box, now called Magento Page Builder. This will provide out-of-the-box tools to easily and quickly produce stunning CMS and home pages with a reduced need to develop bespoke widgets.

Note: Page Builder is still in development – and will not be fully introduced till later in the year (Q1 2019). You can sign up for the Page Builder preview now if you wish to give it a go ahead of time.

Overall, the 2.3 release of Magento has more focus on enhancing and provide more features, enabling merchants to do more without the need to install add-ons. With the reduction of extension requirements alongside other performance improvements this version provides, merchants can take advantage of a more robust, more stable, and more flexible Magento store.

TOP TIPS FOR INCREASING YOUR AVERAGE ORDER VALUE (AOV)


Kelkoo Group will be exhibiting at eCommerce Show North this year.


Your eCommerce business is up and running, your marketing strategy is reaching your target shopper audience, but you soon notice that nearly all your orders are averaging out to a low overall total.

For online shop owners, plateauing revenue and a drop in sales can be a worry, if this begins to become a monthly trend. However, you may be failing to manage your average order value (AOV), crucial if you are looking to boost your product sales.

Your AOV is the average amount of money that each customer spends during a transaction within your store. To increase this amount, you will need to encourage shoppers to add more items, or to up the number of high-value items that they add to their cart.

There are few easy ways that you can increase your AOV, taking your online store out of the danger zone and seeing your revenue soar.

Add reviews and recommendations

Adding reviews and product recommendations is an easy way to encourage shoppers to browse around your store, rather than simply clicking through to one product or worse, leaving your site. Add product reviews and recommendations to popular items and on the checkout page, a quick way to increase the overall AOV and stop cart abandonment for good.

Do consider the vocabulary that you use for each review that you write. “Customers also bought”, for example, is a great way to drive traffic to other products.

Consider discounts

Who doesn’t love a discount? Incentivise your customers to spend a minimum amount, so that they are rewarded with a coupon, free gifts or free shipping. Pop ups or a promotion bar are a quick an easy way to encourage stubborn shoppers to add more to their carts.

Customer loyalty perks and programmes

A loyalty programme is the ideal way to set up a retention strategy, meaning that you create relationships with your customers – in particular if you stock consumable products, that sees shoppers making weekly or monthly repeat purchases. Incentives such as a points scheme, offering shoppers rewards dependent on the total amount that they spend,

Product bundles

If you are struggling to get customers to purchase more items, then creating product bundles will appeal – by setting the total cost at a lower price than if each item was purchased individually. Bundling products together will help to increase the perceived value of a customer’s purchase. You can also tailor bundles for your target demographic, such as creating beauty boxes or allowing shoppers to pick and choose which fashion items they would like in their own bundle. Creating product bundles will increase your AOV, while improving your customers overall shopping experience.

Take time to focus, engage and encourage your customers and those who already know and trust your brand – your shoppers feel like they get more while your AOV gains a boost.

How To Build an eCommerce Brand


Smartebusiness will be exhibiting at eCommerce Show North this year.


Imagine for a second that your ecommerce store is a market stall, and it’s in the middle of a market square with all the other market stalls selling exactly the same stuff as you are. This is what online is like, it’s a really tough world and it’s very competitive. As a customer online, this is what they are faced with, an online market square with a number of retailers selling the same thing. So how can you stand out from the rest?

Imagine you are at the back of the market square, and the guys at the front are offering free delivery, and 365 days return, and if you buy today we’ll give you £20 off your order, and we guarantee to be the best price. And you’re at the back, saying well, we’re more expensive, our delivery is 3-5 days and our returns policy is non existent! Who would you buy from?!

Your value proposition has to be right… so make sure it is. Before you even come to think about building a brand, make sure the value proposition is right as this is the first step to success online.

Don’t compare yourself to the big retailers

The biggest mistake you can make when you’re still a small eCommerce store is comparing yourself to the big retailers, and by big retailers, we mean the brands that have multi-million pound advertising budgets. It’s so common for us to meet a new retailer and all they want to do is be like Made.com (for example.) but what most retailers don’t consider is that Made.com have been in exactly the same position they are. It’s taken them years to build their brand and they have been extremely successful, but everyone starts somewhere! Apple is also a great example. They can get away with just using their Apple logo because everyone knows who they are, but when they first started out, they wouldn’t have been able to do this. People would be questioning who they are.

A really cool trick is to use waybackmachine to look at what the big brands messaging/CTAs and USPs were when the started, its fascinating and really helps when thinking about your value proposition and your strategy for growing the business and your brand.

Are you selling problem solving rational products or emotional lifestyle ones?

Think about what you are selling. Products normally fall in 1 of 2 camps, its either a rational problem solving purchase or an emotional one. And this completely dictates what the ecommerce site says and does. Think about the differences between selling a luxury throw for the sofa or a car battery (these are 2 of our clients!) If I tried to get you to buy a car battery when you didn’t want one I couldn’t even pay you to buy one! But when you need a car battery it’s a life or death situation and you need one NOW! The car battery is such a problem solving rational purchase that you have only 4 hours to get the sale. But the luxury throw is such an emotional one that we might have 30 days to get the sale, and we’re selling the dream here, the lifestyle. You can see here that the brand messages are completely different and so the eCommerce site has to be also.

Are you selling your own products or is it your own brand?

This is a massive one as it will dictate your whole offering. Consider the differences between AO and Boohoo. AO sell other peoples brands, and the value is in the brands they sell, so they have to focus on ‘something else.’ They chose brand values of price, availability and service. We all know that it can be a nightmare when your fridge breaks or your washing machine and you need to get back up and running fast. Their speedy delivery and complete flexibility over timeslots instantly creates a fantastic experience for their customers. And to have them turn up and fit it for you and take away the packing for a small extra cost takes away the need to ring a number of tradesmen getting quotes, finding out when they can come over, and it may be two days after the fridge arrives. AO really have thought about what their customers want and it’s paid off hugely. Boohoo sell their own brands so this is a completely different proposition and focus for them. They focus on fast fashion and playing with the pricing architecture by offering time bound deals. They are fantastic at making you feel like you have to buy that dress right now or you are going to miss out and this works fantastically for converting those customers that may be just browsing.

The KPIs really matter,  and you need to know what they are.

At Smartebusiness, we could talk about this one all day, in fact I actually wrote a book about it! It’s something i’ve always been really passionate about throughout my 15 years at Smartebusiness when after some time working with retailers, I realised the key to their success was really all in the numbers. It’s just basic maths.

I can’t talk about this all day so i’m going to give you a whistle stop tour in 2 minutes!

We all know eCommerce revenue comes from traffic x conversion x average order values. i.e. its very much a mathematical equation, and a very simple one. Stop thinking emotionally about your eCommerce store and focus on the fundamental maths of the revenue. These are the basics, but when you delve a tiny bit deeper you can see where your eCommerce site is strong and weak within about 20 seconds!  The main KPIs you need to know about are:

·       Traffic – average is 50000 per month

·       Average Order Value – average is £50

·       Conversion rate – average is 2.7%

·       Add to basket % – average is 8%

·       Proceed to checkout % – average is 40%

·       Checkout to order – average is 85%

·       Internal search usage of overall visits – average is 9%

·       Internal search conversion is x4 average conversion rate

·       Overall bounce 40%

·       Home page bounce 25%

·       Category page bounce 50%

·       Product page bounce 60%

·       Average items per basket – 1.5

·       Average purchases per customer per year – 1.6

So, how do you compare to the above?

Own these, love these, they are your friends, and don’t stop looking at them, ever. They are the only things that matter in your world. This is why you are in business, and the only way to scale your growth.   

If you want, I can share our ecommerce KPI dashboard which puts all this together in a simple excel sheet and shows how you can grow over the next 3 years, its fascinating to see what the revenue can be if you tweak the kpis. Just email enquiries@smartebusiness.co.uk and we’re happy to share this with you or send over a copy of our book.

Once you have understood your KPIs and value proposition you can start thinking about your brand a bit more… so now you think about…

Why should people buy from you?

It doesn’t matter what your eCommerce site looks like, what ecommerce platform you are on, if people don’t want to buy from you, you can’t scale your revenue. It’s simple, you have to have something people want. Start thinking about all the anxieties people go through when buying your products, what are they worried about, write them down. Here’s some nuggets of wisdom I always tell our clients.

People trust the reviews, questions and answers more than the description you will write.

We can thank Amazon for this, because they really made us look at them, and so we should. People like them because they are real and we trust them. Social proof should be a huge part of any retailers strategy. Especially with the increase in influencers, and the use of video. We heard this week that instagram are moving IGTV to the feed and so video content is going to be used much more. This gives a massive opportunity for retailers to use this to not only tell their story, but to use powerful social proof like video customer reviews or product demonstrations.

Look at your reviews that are middle ratings as this is where the golden information is.

Reviews that are 5 out of 5 tend to say, ‘excellent, great’ and the reviews of 1 out oft 5 tend to say, rubbish, avoid! So we don’t learn much here, but if you look at the 2/5, 3/5, 4/5 you start to get some awesome insights. I always suggest categorizing them into groups e.g. how many were delivery related, or price related, and then monitor them over time.

Now you have all of the above in place, it’s time to start thinking about an emotional connection. You should have a well defined niche.

Do you remember the story of how the yoyo became the coolest product in the playground? It goes something like this…

They asked a child at school, ‘who is the coolest kid you know’ and he told them it was James. So, they asked James the same question, and he said Peter. They ask Peter the same question, and over and over until they found the ‘coolest’ child in the school. They eventually found that the coolest kid was a lad called Kevin, and they gave Kevin the yo yo. They knew that Kevin was the one child that influenced the whole school. This is exactly what Instagram is like. The rules haven’t changed. We are all still influenced by influencers whether we like it or not!

Building an eCommerce brand doesn’t happen overnight. You have to first ensure that the fundamental drivers of your business are in place, the value proposition, the KPI’s and then start to create that emotional connection with your customers. And remember, eCommerce is a process, and so you will always be making tweaks to keep up with your customer needs. The worst thing you can do is think that what is working now will always work forever. You will become stagnant and your customers will start to go elsewhere. Look at the buzz ASOS created when they introduced ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ so people could try on the clothes and send the ones back that they didn’t like, all without having to part with their money. It revolutionised the way people shopped and now a lot of fashion retailers are following in their footsteps. Innovation and new ideas will make you stand out from the rest of the crowd. But make sure you do your research and make sure your innovative ideas are going to delight your customers! After all, your customers are key!

Smartebusiness are eCommerce Growth Specialists that provide Paid Digital Marketing, Magento Development and Growth Consultancy Services. With a team of ex retailers that have worked in house for big eCommerce brands such as Lullabellz, Missguided, Simply Be and many more, Smartebusiness have 15 years eCommerce experience and are well placed to give retailers turning over between 2 and 20 million online some fantastic growth advice at the show this year.

We’re offering a free 1-2-1 KPI Growth Benchmarking session for retailers at Ecommerce Show North and we have limited spaces left at the show. Please email enquiries@smartebusiness.co.uk to reserve your slot.

I will also be on hand delivering an awesome speaking session about scaling from 2 million to 20 million. Be sure to watch the session and pop by to our stand next to the Magento theatre.
Written by Ian Hammersley – CEO of Smartebusiness, eCommerce Growth Specialists. And Author of The Ultimate Guide to Ecommerce Growth.

When Does Online Fraud Prevention Start to Turn Away Real Customers?


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


There’s no way to completely avoid eCommerce fraud. There, we said it.

Sure, there are plenty of measures that retailers can take to ensure that they’re as protected as possible against fraud. Having a world class eCommerce platform with a built in automatic order system and algorithms designed to detect fraud is one that we happen to know a thing or two about!

And sure, there are lots of ways that you can limit the amount of fraudulent transactions coming through your online store. Like using CVV numbers. Making sure that you are fully PCI Compliant. Always checking that billing addresses match IP addresses. Tracking your packages. Honestly, we could go on all day.

Whether we like it or not, fraud is and will probably always be the number one threat to online retailers. Account takeover fraud rose by 45% in Q2 2017 alone, at the monstrous price tag of $3.3 billion. Merchants are up against it in a big way.  Fraudsters are no longer just stealing card details – they’re using local data to ensure that all of the information they provide online stacks up – names, postal addresses, IP addresses, the lot. Throwing even more fuel on the fire is the timeline that brands face when dealing with chargebacks, sometimes up to 180 days of investigation before liability is ultimately determined. Oh, and that liability tends to fall back on merchants more often than not, with an average of 8% of retailers’ revenue being pumped into managing online fraud.

Now on one hand, you can ramp up your security measures in a bid to shift liability and keep chargebacks to a minimum. But on the other hand, by doing that, your customer experience is undoubtedly going to take a hit.

Because what do real-life, legitimate customers want? They want frictionless checkout. And by frictionless, we mean one page wherever possible. They want the option to check out as a guest if they haven’t already registered on your site. They probably don’t want to be taken away from your website to complete 3D Secure authentication, then try to remember their password and possibly have to contact their bank to either set or reset their credentials. And they certainly don’t want to be contacted by a loss prevention manager for further authentication details simply because they decided to have an online shopping spree on payday!

A fine line

Clearly, we’re dealing with a fine line here. So are you damned if you do and damned if you don’t?

Well…yes and no.

Apart from the obvious financial implications around eCommerce fraud, the key cause for concern is really the reputation of your brand, and how it’s being viewed by your potential and existing customers. If, for example Dave randomly checks his bank account and sees transactions from your online store that he never made, he has to go through the rigmarole of contacting his bank and being out of pocket for however long it takes for the charge to be returned to him, through no fault of his own. Sure, chances are that Dave understands how online fraud works and that he’s one of the unlucky ones that unfortunately has to take it on the chin. But from that moment forward, every time Dave sees an ad for your company, or someone mentions the brand in passing, he will always remember the grief that the experience caused him. At some point he has probably questioned the level of security behind your website. And you can bet your bottom dollar that he has told his friends, family and colleagues all of the gory details. Not ideal. Not ideal at all.

Finding the balance

When it comes to detecting, preventing, and managing online fraud, it’s really all about balance. Because it’s just as important for brands to create as seamless a purchasing experience as possible as it is to deter hackers from their online stores. Should brands be implementing one page checkout as much as possible? Absolutely. Should they also be taking the appropriate measure to protect themselves against fraud? Of course they should! But how can you effectively achieve both? Well, we’ve already mentioned how important it is to have an eCommerce solution that will not only safeguard your store against scammers, but that also has data share in place to detect profiles that have performed fraud elsewhere on the platform’s network.

It’s also vital that behind that platform sits a highly qualified loss prevention specialist with the knowledge and experience to be able to 1) quickly take action on potential fraudulent activity, 2) determine which transactions are ok to authorise, and 3) strike a balance between the two.

At Kooomo, we call that person Peter.

But wait, there’s something else you can do to keep the fraud scales balanced and that is to test, report, and optimise. If you’ve decided to add another layer of security to the online checkout process with the likes of 3D secure, that’s all well and good. But while you’re doing that, you may also want to monitor your shopping cart abandonment rate. If it suddenly starts to go through the roof while your conversion rates simultaneously start to plummet, you could actually be putting your brand at a greater risk by losing legitimate customers. If your cart abandonment rate remains largely unchanged on the other hand, you could quickly start to see a fall in the number of chargebacks coming through. The point here is that you shouldn’t be making a judgement call on the security of your online store without testing out various measures, tracking the results, and optimising for customer experience while still limiting the risk of fraud.

There’s always going to be advances in technology to protect merchants, as well as advances in all of the ways that scammers can outsmart that technology. The big question always tends to be ‘who is two steps ahead?’ The answer is debatable. But in terms of what sits at the root of all this chat about security, and the answer is always the same – the customer.

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.

How User Generated Content Creates Engagement For eCommerce Brands


Digital Media Team can build, target and re-target specific audience’s and ensure product placement which in turn generates a fantastic ROI.


There’s a real buzz around User Generated Content at the moment and marketers are only just realising how influential it can be for eCommerce brands.

UGC can be any content created by a company’s audience, which shares the brand through the use of a consumer’s own social media.

Consumers are an incredible source for championing products and are able to show potential customers an unbiased view of your brand.

A whopping 86% of millennials have said that User Generated Content shows the true quality of a company and these campaigns should be the next step for any business looking to promote themselves in a positive way.

Here are a few of our favourite User Generated Content campaigns over the past few years…

Aerie

This time last year we saw American women’s clothing company Aerie launch the #AerieReal Campaign, which encouraged users to post unretouched images of themselves wearing Aerie swim suits.

Not only did they receive thousands of images, they also donated $1 to NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association) with every hashtag, which ended with over $10,000 being sent to the charity.

The campaign was so successful that the hashtag is still frequently used today, with the topical subject matter encouraging users to continue to engage with this body-positive message.

Spotify

This well-known music streaming service is no stranger to UGC campaigns and nobody can forget their immensely popular “Thanks 2016. It’s been weird” project from last year, which saw lighthearted billboards showcasing Spotify users’ play history.

This year they’ve upped their game by targeting individual users and highlighting some of the more bizarre and unique playlists that have been created.

This campaign has been splashed across billboards, as well as quirky videos where artists have commented on a playlist which includes their song.

It’s been a roaring success so far and we can’t wait to see what Spotify comes up with next!

Apple

Apple’s #ShotOnIphone campaign has been going for over two years now and it doesn’t look like it will be losing traction any time soon.

After consumers approached the brand about being less than satisfied with the iPhone’s camera, Apple decided to address this upon release of their new device by encouraging consumers to post images with the #ShotOniPhone hashtag.

 

They even brought in amateur and professional photographers to take images through an iPhone, blowing up the results on billboards across the world.

The campaign continues to be a major success for the brand because Apple not only listened to their consumers concerns, but tackled it by showing that they’d made improvements instead of just saying it.

User Generated Content campaigns are on the rise and we suggest jumping on the bandwagon. It’s a brilliant way to create brand messaging in an enjoyable and engaging way and shows how influential social media can be.

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 Optimise your Google Shopping Ads


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


The Consumer Decision Journey is changing. As such, users’ expectations from search results have evolved, and marketers must adapt their adverts according to users’ new behaviours.

Google is built to recognise intention and, as a result, it can offer smarter personalised search results, based on what Google knows users will like.

In order to capture the best of the potential market, Google Shopping ads are the fastest way to appear at the top of search results. This makes them a vital resource to harness.

For an extensive rundown of how to optimise this high-ranking resource, read our eBook: ‘7 Tips for Running Better Google Shopping Ads’.

New Behaviours

Users are no longer restricted to the information provided only by the brands and people they know. Social media, comparison websites, influencers, and magazines all make the decision more complex.

Users are also relying much more heavily on search results. While previously you may have asked a friend: “How much is my car worth?”, “What do I do with chilli powder?”, or even “What’s the best haircut for me?”, users are now asking Google these personal questions. As such, the number of very generic searches is decreasing and the reliance on long-tail keywords is on the up.

In order to target your Google Shopping adverts to achieve your business goals, you must elect to focus on a specific intention. Decide whether you want to:

  • Woo the Window Shoppers – engage those with little information and low commitment.
  • Sway the Serious Buyers – convince users with informed presentation of specific brands/products.
  • Attract the Abandoners – dominate the market, comparing USPs and coming out on top.
  • Cross-sell to Converters – incentivise a repeat purchase from your recent customers.

What you can do

Optimising ad titles and descriptions, and removing errors to ensure you’re seen in feeds, is standard practice. The stand-out adverts must focus on the user’s intention.

After defining your business goals and focus, there are several simple tasks to optimise your ads for search. Google Shopping ads are one of the best tools to employ when attempting to attract customers and increase conversions.

It’s important to balance visuals with descriptive text, in order to entice users as well as to inform search crawlers of what exactly you’re offering. Descriptive titles, rich with keywords, will help to boost visibility.

Depending on the target point in the consumer funnel, splitting campaigns and bids by specific and generic, branded and non-branded, can prove vital in delivering results most efficiently. Prioritising specific intentions can achieve your business goals specifically within your budget.

Beyond product descriptions and keywords, custom labels can also help to categorise and separate adverts. Ultimately, this is great for you as it provides more flexibility, hopefully saving time and money.

Finally, it’s well-known that repeat customers are the most fertile market for most businesses. Therefore, enhancing remarketing campaigns to target specific audiences and to nurture your pre-existing relationship can pay dividends in terms of conversion rates later on.

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.

Temando, Global Payments, SLI Systems and More

Our ‘eCommerce Matters’ series includes the latest news and insights from our event partners. CTI Digital, explain why software testers are vital, Temando discuss why shipping technology is key to a successful integration, Global Payments take a look back at POS Systems of the past, SLI Systems discuss Amazon’s relationship with online retailers and Digitl want to ensure you’re ready for the christmas rush.

CTI Digital

Why do we need Software testers? This week, CTI Digital explain why software testers are vital for ensuring that the software being delivered meets the specific needs and expectations of the customer. You can read more, here.

Temando

Temando’s State of Shipping in Commerce report for the US Markets stated that 54% of shoppers abandoned their cart due to the cost of shipping solutions and 44% will do the same and head to a competitor when a shipping service of their choice is not available. With shipping being one of the main reasons why shipping is abandoned, Temando say that shipping technology is key to a successful integration. Read more, here.

Global Payments

The cloud has changed point-of-sale (POS) technology. Global Payments take a look back at POS systems of the past and how today’s technologists and developers are providing enhanced capabilities and substational operational benefits in the development of POS solutions. Read more, here.

SLI Systems

Amazon: Friend, Foe or Frenemy. Retailers’ Relationship with Amazon is complicated but SLI Systems set out to discover whether Amazon is a friend or foe to e-commerce merchants. You can read more, here.

Digitl

Are you ready for Christmas yet? Head of Agency at Digitl explains what is expected of online retailers during the festive period and other peak times to ensure they can cope with increased demand. Read more, here.

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.

 

Nosto, Space 48, Bronto and More

The Weekly Round Up is where we share all of the latest news and insights from our exhibition partners. This week, Space 48 discuss Black Friday strategies, Business Growth Hub explain how funding can possibly help you upgrade your ISO certification, Nosto share 6 layers of effective product recommendations, Bronto hosted an event featuring guest speaker Robbie Hardy and Steamhaus explain the importance of Site Reliability Engineering.

Space 48

eCommerce companies will already be working on their eCommerce strategies for Black Friday. Space 48’s Founder Jon Woodall was recently on UKFast’s webinar panel of eCommerce experts discussing Black Friday trends. Here is 5 key Black Friday takeaways from the webinar, including quotes from Jon and the other eCommerce gurus. To read more, click here.

Business Growth Hub

Are you ISO 9001:2008 certified? From September 2018 this certification will not longer be valid and your quality management system will need to be upgraded to retain its ISO certification. Manufacturing businesses can access funding to help them with this migration. Anne Campion, Manufacturing Services Manager at the Business Growth Hub explains everything you need to know. You can read more, here.

Nosto

A 2015 study stated that the majority of online shoppers expect personalised shopping experiences, you can do this by recommending items tailored to their taste. In this article, Nosto explore the anatomy of effective onsite product recommendations to help you leverage the benefits for your website. To read more, click here.

Bronto

Bronto’s OWL Committee hosted an event featuring guest speaker, Robbie Hardy. Robbie is a serial entrepreneur and author focused on mentorship and empowering women in business. Mary Flannigan, Customer Success Manager at Bronto discusses the points that she has learnt from Robbie that has helped her lead and grow in her career. You can read more, here.

Steamhaus

Site reliability engineering is ensuring that a product/platform can scale up, is reliable and does all of that as stress-free as possible. Steamhaus explain the importance of SRE in this article. Read more, here.