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Black Friday is nearly upon us, and interest in the annual shopping splurge appears to be taking hold in the UK... sort of.
In the US it makes sense as Black Friday always coincides with the day after Thanksgiving, but on these shores it all feels a bit forced.
Why should we care about a shopping event that coincides with a public holiday that means nothing in the UK?
It occurred to me that amongst the Econsultancy blog team we certainly have our favourite companies as far as digital ambition and execution are concerned.
So I'm simply going to round up some companies that have done good things on this front and see if our readers get annoyed by any omissions or, indeed, inclusions.
So, here are 18 digital trailblazers. A lot of them are involved solely in ecommerce but not all of them.
N.B. I've deliberately excluded agencies and what I think of as tech companies, though that distinction is a little difficult to make in some areas.
Anyone who is familiar with the Econsultancy blog will know that we’ve always been big fans of ASOS.
However its crown has begun to slip in recent months and in September the retailer was forced to issue a third profit warning due to difficult sales conditions and higher investment in technology and infrastructure.
Personally I’m still a semi-regular ASOS customer, but I have started to become a bit tired of its email marketing messages that constantly promote some kind of sale or discount.
Since July 27 I have received 35 emails from ASOS, which roughly averages out at one email every 2-3 days.
19 of those emails advertised a sale or discount, which ultimately chips away at ASOS’s ability to sell anything at full price.
Brands have sub-domains for a variety of reasons - to separate their sites for different audiences, to split their offerings, and so on.
However, this can lead to conflict between the main and sub-domains if this strategy is not applied properly.
Before Google ended clustering in search results, this may well have worked well for brands, allowing them greater visibility in search results.
In this post, I'll show these sub-domain conflicts are affecting Ladbrokes, Coral, Oasis, ASOS and Barclay's.
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.
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.
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.
Way, way back in 2011 we published an article looking at how 26 commerce sites presented their mega menus.
This refers to the drop-down menus that are generally situated within the horizontal navigation at the top of a webpage.
Web trends and UX design have changed in the intervening years, in large part due to increasing consumer adoption of mobile and new technologies such as responsive design, so I thought it would be interesting to revisit those same sites to see how they've evolved.
Here they are...
High street stores are getting their mojo back, so what can ecommerce do to engage the consumer?
Here are just 10 features that help to keep customers engaged on ecommerce websites. If you've seen any innovative new features from ecommerce companies, please let us know below.
For all things engagement and optimisation, why not attend the Festival of Marketing, in London, November 12-13th.
It’s not just about driving footfall to an offline store anymore, when it comes to mobile commerce the big winners are the brands achieving conversions there and then on a mobile device.
Here we’ll be presenting a selection of ecommerce stores excelling at the mobile experience and ensuring a frustration free shopping experience on the small screen.
What will we be looking out for?
As our own Ben Davis discussed in 14 features of great mobile commerce design, here are some of the tools and features that can best aid mobile shoppers:
Continuing my quest to investigate how various industries use email marketing, here’s a look at how some of our favourite fashion retailers use this most effective yet often neglected marketing channel.
Much like my round-up on the travel industry a couple of weeks ago, I’ll be looking at the frequency of emails, the use of subject lines, the email content itself, special offers, editorial voice, personalisation, relevance… All of the many tools that a company can utilise to coerce the recipient to open up an email or even engage with it.
As well as the above criteria, I also filled up a shopping basket and abandoned it without purchase to see if I would receive any reminder emails. I also entered my birthday as a date in between sign-up and writing this article to see if I was offered any discounts or at some birthday wishes. It’s not fraud, it’s science!
These are the 16 sites I chose to register my details with: Urban Outfitters, ASOS, Threadless, H&M, Topshop, Topman, American Apparel, UNIQLO, Gap, River Island, Next, Pull and Bear, Anthropologie, Forever 21, Miss Selfridge and The Kooples.
Now let’s take a look at the ravaged state of my inbox. Thank you Gmail promotions tab…
How a company handles its online returns is one of the trickiest areas of ecommerce customer service.
How helpful, flexible and clear you are about your returns process can mean the difference between encouraging repeat customers and sending them off to a competitor.
There’s an excellent article on the best practice of handling returns written by editor-in-chef Graham Charlton which highlights 14 ways that companies can avoid annoying their customers.
But what if you want to reduce the amount of returns your business deals with, particularly if you’re a fashion retailer that traditionally deals with a higher volume of returns than other businesses?
Are there ways that you can help consumers find the right size product straight away, therefore saving you and the customer unnecessary trial and error?
Let’s take a look at some examples, including some from our own case study database, to see how companies are reducing the amount of returns they receive.