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Retailers failing at simple eCommerce best practice

Online retailers could be making more in revenues if they applied simple measures, such as appropriate product imagery.

That’s according to research carried out on 1,213 UK adults by agency MarketingSignals, which found a staggering 61 percent of those polled were put off purchasing from a website by insufficient or poor product imagery, followed by 57 percent that found product descriptions inadequate.

The survey also found that more than half (52 percent) of these businesses are failing potential customers with their lack of customer service, while 47 percent have overly intrusive discount pop ups on the home page, which can potentially detract users from making a purchase.

43 percent of those polled were put off by websites that has an over complicated checkout process, while 41 percent would be deterred by an e-commerce business which has little or no social media presence.

A third (34 percent) of those questioned said that a lack of delivery options would deter them from from making an online purchase, whilst a website that wasn’t optimised for mobile devices would put off 27 percent of respondents.

16 percent said they’d be put off from making a purchase if they couldn’t see company information or an ‘about us’ page. Completing the top ten reasons which deter users from making a purchase was customers who prefer to use alternative payment methods, with over one in ten (11 percent) saying that they’d seek to make their purchase elsewhere if a website did not accept the PayPal or Apple Pay.

Gareth Hoyle, managing director at marketingsignals.com, said: “It’s clear from the research that many potential customers are being put off from making a purchase from websites they are not familiar with, which makes it so much more important for e-commerce businesses to make the checkout process as simple as possible in order for them to complete their transaction smoothly.

“In this social media age, it’s perhaps unsurprising that 41 percent of Brits would be put off from making a purchase from a website that is unfamiliar to them and doesn’t have a visible social media presence.

“Internet savvy consumers are always keen to spot a bargain, though can be put off by over complicated or seemingly untrustworthy websites when attempting to make a purchase, instead opting to buy from a site they already know and trust. So what this research demonstrates is that it’s clear that there are simple steps e-commerce businesses can take in order to improve conversion rates from first time visitors to their site.”

The top ten reasons that deter customers from making an e-commerce purchase:

  1. Insufficient or poor quality product imagery – 61 percent
  2. Inadequate product descriptions – 57 percent
  3. Lack of customer service – 52 percent
  4. Distracting/Intrusive pop ups – 47 percent
  5. Over complicated check-out process – 43 percent
  6. Little or no social media presence – 41 percent
  7. Lack of delivery options – 34 percent
  8. Desktop-only site design – 27 percent
  9. Insufficient or lack of company information – 16 percent
  10. Not accepting alternative payment methods including PayPal and Apple Pay – 11 percent

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Retailers urged to embrace digital personalisation

Retails have been urged to extend personalisation at every digital touchpoint and to every individual using AI, in light of more dire warnings on the state of the High Street.

The British Retail Consortium and KPMG have noted the lowest sales figures since 1995 in May, which in a year plagued with closures and CVAs raises the alarm for further decline in the UK high street in the coming months.

According to Raj Badarinath, VP Ecosystems at RichRelevance, brands and retailers are desperately looking for a solution, but stubbornly ignoring the most critical factor: what customers want.

Badarinath asserts that instead of exploring their customers as individuals (not rough marketing-made segments) they keep holding on to outdated personalisation tactics that are clearly not good enough.

“It is disappointing to see retail sales falling year on year in the UK. It’s a tricky time for UK retailers – as they battle on multiple fronts: monopolies like Amazon, ankle biters such as DVNBs (Digitally Native Vertical Brands) and more,” said Badarinath.

“UK consumers today are short on time and inundated with the problem of choice – too much content, product, offers and more. Retailers should reduce decision fatigue by extending personalization at every digital touchpoint and to every individual using AI, which provides the technical ability to do so for the first time. Retailers realize that the UK consumer is fickle and easily wooed, so techniques like hyper-personalization ensure a seamless, memorable customer experience, to increase repeat sales and improve overall lifetime value.”

Retailers ‘neglecting Twitter and Facebook for customer service’

Retailers are neglecting social media when it comes to customer service, and are not listening to consumers to drive customer experience improvements.

That’s according to the 2019 Eptica Digital Trust Study, which found that while retailers successfully answered 59% of routine queries asked via web self service, chat, email, Facebook and Twitter, there were wide variations in performance between channels.

Retailers provided answers to 83% of queries on their websites but only responded correctly to 38% of tweets and 50% of Facebook messages. Performance had worsened on many channels since 2017 – then retailers answered 73% of emails.

By 2019 this had dropped to 68%, despite the continued popularity of the channel with consumers, who use it for over a quarter of their interactions with brands.

As part of the study, 20 fashion and food & drink retailers were evaluated on their digital customer experience, alongside brands from other sectors, by testing their accuracy and speed at answering relevant, routine queries, repeating research conducted since 2012. Questions included asking about ethical sourcing policies (fashion) and allergy labelling (food and drink).

Additionally, 1,000 consumers were asked for their views on customer experience.

Fashion (answering 60% of all queries) and food and drink (59%) were the top sectors surveyed but still failed to respond to 4 in 10 of all routine queries.

The research also demonstrated a direct link between trust, listening and loyalty. 89% of consumers surveyed said they either will stop buying from brands that they don’t trust or will spend less. Building trust begins with delivering on basic promises – 59% ranked giving satisfactory, consistent answers as a top three factor in creating trustworthiness, while 63% rated making processes easy and seamless as key. Just 8% of consumers felt that brands were listening to them all of the time, with 74% believing brands pay attention to their views half the time or less.

“The move to digital has transformed the retail landscape,” said Olivier Njamfa, CEO and Co-Founder, Eptica. “Greater choice means consumers are becoming more demanding and are actively seeking out brands that they can trust and who listen to them. While retail brands have made some improvements since 2017, they have slipped back in others, damaging trust and ultimately customer loyalty and revenues. If they want to succeed they need to listen to customers and use their insight. Only those who do this will thrive and stay ahead of the competition.”

Retail Accuracy 2019
versus 2017
Average speed 2019
versus 2017
Web 83% vs 70% n/a
Email 68% vs 73% 10hr 19m vs 24hr 12m
Facebook 50% vs 28% 43m 24s vs 3hr 34m
Twitter 38% vs 50% 1hr 56m vs 1hr 43m
Chat 35% vs 25% 8m 43s 4m 24s
Total 59% vs 55%

Speed of response also varied widely between channels – and even within sectors and brands. One fashion retailer answered a tweet in 17 minutes, yet another took 50 hours to reply. A food and drink retailer responded on Facebook within one minute but needed nearly 23 hours to provide an answer on email. Overall response times on chat doubled from 4 minutes back in 2017 to 8 minutes this year. Facebook had the fastest average speed of response, at 43 minutes, 24 seconds – over twice as fast as Twitter (1 hour 56 minutes) and nearly 15 times faster than email (10 hours 19 minutes). This is despite exactly the same questions being asked across these channels.

The study evaluated 50 UK brands, split equally between the fashion, food and drink, travel, insurance and banking sectors. Brands were rated on their ability to answer five routine questions via their websites, as well as their speed, accuracy and consistency when responding to email, Twitter, Facebook and chat. Additionally, 1,000 UK consumers were surveyed on their attitude to trust, its relationship with customer experience and on loyalty and brand reputation. All research was completed in H1 2019.

A full report, including the study results, graphics and best practice recommendations for brands to transform customer experience is available at https://www.eptica.com/19cxretail.

An infographic on the results is available at https://www.eptica.com/state-uk-retail-customer-experience-infographic-2019.

Consumers want personalised experiences at retail and shop accordingly

Customers want to shop wherever and whenever they want with the benefits of both the digital and physical retail environments, according to a study by Boston Retail Partners.

The study found that 79% of consumers indicated that personalised service from a sales associate was an important factor in determining at which store they choose to shop.

Consumers understand that receiving personalised service requires retailers to identify them. While this has been the normal standard online or via mobile, identifying the customer in the store is a little more difficult and not as common.

Most retailers who identify customers in the store use the customers’ mobile phone as the identification tool paired with a combination of beacons, WiFi, MAC address, etc.

While 64% of consumers are comfortable with retailers identifying them via their mobile phone when they enter a store, as long as it means they are offered a personalized experience, only 37% of retailers are able to identify their customers prior to checkout.

The Boston Retail Partners report says customer identification is a requirement for any type of personalisation of the shopping experience – if a retailer can’t identify the customer until she is at the checkout then it’s too late to empower the associate to influence the current purchase decision.

Ken Morris, Principal at Boston Retail Partners, said: “Without early identification of the customer, retailers miss critical engagement opportunities to deliver a personalised customer experience and increase sales. And in today’s crowded and highly competitive market, personalization is a critical component for optimizing the customer’s shopping experience.

“The customer has spoken and she wants a personalised shopping experience in the store, how are you going to provide her that experience?”

Christmas

GUEST BLOG: Planning for paid social advertising success at Christmas

By Rob Kabrovski, VP Accounts EMEA, Adaptly

The Christmas season is a wonderful time of year, but it can also be stressful for retail marketers. That pressure is for a good reason: UK sales amounted to almost £43 billion in 2016, with shoppers spending in excess of £805 million on Christmas Day alone.

With consumers facing messages and advertisements from all different directions, it takes careful planning and strategising to execute campaigns that will break through the noise.

It is possible for advertisers to own the Christmas season timeline, making this year’s campaigns the most effective yet.

Dominate the Pre-Season Period

Christmas conversations often start as early September but there’s a huge spike in interest once Halloween has passed.

Almost half of UK shoppers claim to have planned most of their Christmas purchases by early October, but just over 15% will have actually finished their shopping at the end of the following month.

Make sure to get ahead of competitors by carefully creating a content calendar and owning the pre-Christmas planning period. This is a key time for driving awareness and increasing product consideration, as consumers are in a much more relaxed state-of-mind. Christmas season is saturated with ads and it’s important to get a head start to reach your target audience before ad fatigue sets in.

Users increasingly turn to social platforms to plan their Christmas purchases and activities. The sooner you start adding content, the more likely you are to get noticed and stay top-of-mind throughout the entire period.

Test and Learn

Use the October pre-season period to do your testing. Iterate on creative and ad formats to identify what resonates best with your customer – setting you up for success later on. This is a perfect time to identify which products, assets, and messaging your audiences are responding to, in order to optimise top performers closer to the actual date.

Focus this time on driving brand awareness and create excitement in the run-up to major shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Seed your messages to core users – customers, fans, site visitors, and email subscribers – then reach your entire target audience on the actual day of a sale.

But remember that announcing promotions too early can delay consumers from making a purchase. 60% of UK customers say that they have hesitated to buy a Christmas related item in the hope of picking up a bargain later on.

Bid Aggressively

The competition tightens towards the end of November, in particular around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. That means you’ll have to be willing to bid aggressively to get a bigger share of users’ wallets.  This can have an effect on your usual sales targets, so use historical data to determine the best timeline and appropriate budgets for your business.

Even though this period may be slightly pricier than usual, you’re reaching users while they are most receptive to offers and gift ideas, and while purchase intent is at its peak.

Most consumers are actively looking to make purchases, so creative elements should be focused on product demos or inspiring users with gifting ideas. At this point, use ad formats that drive traffic to site and bring customers closer to purchase.

Drive Sales with Retargeting

In the immediate run-up to Christmas, driving sales becomes more important than ever. A total of £25 billion was spent online between Black Friday and Christmas Eve last year, and compared to 2015, ecommerce orders saw a 51% increase for the week leading up to the 25th.

Leverage the audiences you have already driven to your site; and dynamically retarget users based on product pages they have viewed.

Put the right items in front of shoppers at the right time and personalise your content based on users’ previous behaviour.

Don’t forget customers who are likely to purchase your products for their own use; retarget them with items they viewed earlier in the year. Entice these users with the opportunity to buy their own perfect gift – now available through a Black Friday deal or with a special Christmas discount.

Christmas can be a stressful time for marketers, but it also presents ample opportunities to connect with customers while purchase intent is high. As long as you plan your activity well in advance and focus on driving users through the purchase funnel, this is definitely the season to be jolly.

www.adaptly.com

Will Argos ditch its print catalogue?

British retail giant Argos is conducting digital-only trials to test the demand from customers to browsing and shopping online.

The glossy catalogues have been removed from a number of stores around the UK, with the initial response from customers being that they haven’t been missed.

If the trials continue with this, Argos could opt to pull all print catalogues from its stores in the UK.

The retailer publishes two catalogues a year – a spring/summer edition and autumn/winter edition. Stores are equipped with tablets allowing customers to browse and shop digitally in-store, with the print catalogues available to take home for additional browsing – especially popular with parents and children in the run-up to Christmas.

But it’s not all bad news for traditional print, as Argos has launched The Totally Awesome Toy Guide, a 152 page catalogue that focusses on gift inspirations for children and parents.

Speaking about the decision to launch the guide, chief toy buyer, Linzi Walker, said: “It can be hard to pick out the perfect toys for children at Christmas with so many new products to choose from – so the catalogue has a number of handy features all in one place; a user-friendly format, top toys for Christmas predictions and links to our YouTube unboxing videos.”