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Author: Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher was the Deputy Editor at Econsultancy. He runs pop culture site Methods Unsound and you can hound him on Twitter @Christophe_Rock.

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How 20 top UK retailers handle social customer service

Last week I took to Twitter posing as an 'innocent' customer and asked 20 of the UK’s top retail brands a variety of questions.

They were all pretty simple: “what time does my local branch shut?” “Can I return online purchased items to a high street branch?” “When will this item be back in stock?” Theoretically nothing any social media team couldn’t easily answer.

The purpose of this was to test the speed, responsive and helpfulness of these brands’ social customer service.

I also looked at whether each brand stated clearly that it was available for customer service, if it operated a separate customer service account from the main Twitter channel and whether it published its operating hours within its profile.

Before we get on with the ranking though, a little on the importance of social customer service…


Things we found on the internet, ranked in an order only understood by the writer

Oh hi, I didn't see you there. Have you been waiting long?

Welcome! Come in! Make your self at home. Please excuse the mess, it's been a hectic week what with all the goings on and happenings and such. 

So tell me, how's everything with you?... Uh-huh... Uh-huh... Okay shut up now. Here's some stuff I found on the internet to amuse you while I go in the other room and pretend I'm busy. 

1 comment
overlook hotel

Guest checkout test: which of these 25 US retailers force users to register?

One of the biggest barriers for customers about to use a checkout is forcing them to register their details first.

Presenting them with page after page of forms in which they need to fill out the most unnecessary of personal details is a quick way to send your customers to the exit, leaving many abandoned baskets and lowering your conversion.

Earlier today I looked at 30 UK retailers and which ones force their customers to register, now it's time to turn our attention to the USA.


Guest checkout test: which of these 30 UK retailers force users to register?

Forcing users to register their details before they checkout is one of the quickest ways to lower your conversion rate. 

Once a customer is ready to buy something from your store, presenting them with page after page of forms in which they need to fill out the most unnecessary of personal details is a sure fire way to litter your site with abandoned baskets and disgruntled customers.

That’s why guest checkout is a must-have feature for almost every online retail experience.

As I mentioned in my best practice guide to guest checkouts having a guest checkout doesn’t necessarily mean losing out on valuable customer data, it means adopting practices that put the customer experience first. 

Using guest checkout as the default option, then offering to ‘save the customer details’ after purchase can help lower cart abandonment.

Saving customer details implies convenience, it puts customer experience as the primary focus. ‘Registering’ implies future marketing spam.

Also, if your site automatically fills in any details that the customer has already given you, such as name, address and email, all your customer needs to do is choose a password.

Boom! Conversion achieved. Customer satisfaction achieved. Data achieved. Easy.


Can you beat last year's winners of The Digitals?

Entries for The Digitals 2014 continue to roll-in as the deadline looms ever closer. The best submissions feature inspiring and innovative case studies from the digital world.

It’s not too late to enter though. You have until 24 September 2014 for your chance to showcase your team's finest work to the global digital and ecommerce community. Just click here for the entry form.

Perhaps you need some extra encouragement? A challenge, if you will. 

Here I’ll be taking a look at last year’s winners, highlighting their triumphant victories and throwing down the gauntlet in order to see you puff up your chest, roll up your sleeves, remove your spectacles and say, “Oh yeah! Well we'll see who’s the best!”

Here are last year's most impressive victors. Now show them who's boss.


What is marketing attribution and why do you need it?

In this post I take a term that you’re all probably well aware of and try to enlighten myself, and hopefully the few of you who are just as baffled as me, on its actual meaning.

As I dive deeper and deeper into the world of digital marketing even more words and phrases float up to reveal themselves, particularly ones that perhaps are more on the business end of the spectrum.

Last week I shot my investigative glare towards Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) and Single Customer View (SCV). This week: attribution.


Be our guest: a guide to ecommerce guest checkout best practice

Welcome to this guide to gues… Oh wait hang on… You haven’t entered your email address….

Done? Great, now we can carry on. Welcome to this guide to guest checkouts, where we’ll take a look at best pract… hang on, your password isn’t valid, please try again.

Okay, great, let’s carry on… Hang on, have you already registered that email with us before? I’m sorry you can’t use that address if you’ve already registered it.

Guest checkouts! I love them. If it was at all possible I would carry out every transaction super quickly and utterly anonymously.

Last week our esteemed editor Graham Charlton compiled a list of the 11 best ecommerce checkouts in the world and in doing so came up with seven key features he felt were common to good practice.

These include speed, no forced registration and easy form filling. As far as I’m concerned having a guest checkout can cover all these things and more.

However, am I wrong about the glory of guest checkouts? Are there any drawbacks I’m not thinking of? Are there any best practice tips that can help ecommerce websites improve their guest checkouts?

Lets take a look. Wait, hang on, before we go any further, can you just enter your delivery address please…


Q&A: Andy Budd on the current state of UX design

Traditional thinking dictates that designers create the products and marketers sell them.

Then along came Apple and its beautifully designed products that practically sold themselves with almost zero marketing effort.

What came next was a huge amount of mediocre products needing ever-increasing budgets in order to highlight differences and features that may not have existed in the first place.

User experience designer and CEO of Clearleft Andy Budd believes that product and marketing teams need to work closer together and that the relatively new field of User Experience Design is the glue to achieve that.

I spoke to Andy Budd about all matters relating to UX last week. 

Andy Budd is also one of the speakers at Econsultancy's Festival of Marketing in November. Our two day celebration of the modern marketing industry also featuring speakers from LEGO, Tesco, Barclays, FT.com and more.


Three key trends from our new Digital Marketing in the Telecom Sector report

Digital marketing is a strategic priority for the telecom sector, with an average of 46% of total marketing budgets being assigned to digital.

This statistic comes from our brand new Digital Marketing in the Telecom Sector report, produced by Econsultancy in partnership with Adobe.

The report explores how companies operating in the telecom sector approach digital marketing, as well as the key trends, opportunities and sector-specific issues shaping their digital strategies.

The insight is based on a global survey of more than 200 telecom executives based mainly in North America and EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) and inside the downloadable report you’ll discover data around key business priorities in telecom, where companies are focusing digital marketing and technology, opportunities and budget plans for the next 12 months and obstacles to integrated marketing.

In the meantime, here’s a summary of three key trends identified in the report:


Life after The Digitals: five winners, one year later

It’s not too late to enter The Digitals with your own successful case study, which definitely deserves a wider audience and could also help inspire a new generation of digital innovators.

The Digitals 2014 are designed to showcase the finest work from the global digital and ecommerce community, but not just from individuals, we want to put the whole team centre stage in order to celebrate and truly reflect the collaborative culture of our industry.

You have till 24 September 2014 to enter, and in order to give you inspiration for your own entry I’m going to take a look at some of the past winners and see how they’ve been fairing since their award win.


Six incredibly effective retail case studies from The Digitals

It’s awards season here at Econsultancy as the entries detailing inspirational case studies from a huge range of companies continue to roll in, and it's still not too late for your team to enter.

The Digitals 2014 are designed to showcase the finest work from the global digital and ecommerce community, but not just from individuals, we want to put the whole team centre stage in order to celebrate and truly reflect the collaborative culture of our industry.

You have till 24 September 2014 to enter, and in order to give you inspiration for your own entry we’ve rounded up some of the best retail case studies we received in 2013.

For more advice on how to write your entry, read David Moth’s 10 tips for writing a stand out awards entry for The Digitals.


Break in case of boredom: 16 terrific new things on the internet

You've caught me and the internet at a very busy time. 

At 3pm today, when you fire up your iTunes you'll find a little gift from us. 

Yes, it's our new album 'Maximum Hard Drive', and it's currently being surreptitiously loaded on to your computer for completely free!

No need to thank us. Your silence is all the gratitude we need. That and the £50 and a Toffee Crisp we got from Econsultancy. 

While you're waiting for this momentous occasion please enjoy this collection of internet amusements...