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So here’s the bad news. It’s no longer enough for your site to be ‘usable’ and ‘intuitive’. Today’s best in breed online retailers mastered the usability thing a while back and have long moved on.
To survive in a competitive market your site must also draw customers in, provide ideas, inspiration and help all without being overly attentive and obtrusive.
Whether your site is selling high fashion or stationery, we can all learn something from the most successful online retailers. We used whatusersdo.com to find out what was working best on two big fashion retail sites: ASOS and H&M.
Here are the five key themes both have hit upon to help them to their success.
Yesterday I wrote a blog looking at the different ways in which fashion retailers handled the process of capturing customer data when they signup to email alerts.
It turns out that the procedure varies quite drastically between sites, with some businesses requiring just your email while others need to know a great deal of personal information.
A day later and the welcome emails have arrived, however not all of the brands could be bothered to roll out the red carpet.
Though I signed up to 16 email newsletters only 11 welcome emails arrived, with ASOS, Schuh, Miss Selfridge, Boohoo and Office failing to get in touch.
Email is a consistently effective method of driving sales, so having a large database of customer addresses is a powerful tool for ecommerce businesses.
In fact our Email Census 2013 found that more than half of responding companies achieve 10% of their sales directly from email marketing.
All ecommerce businesses have a sign up form somewhere on their homepage, though the precise method of subscribing varies between each site.
To find out the most effective way of collecting customer information, I signed up to email newsletters from 16 major online fashion retailers.
Around this time last year I wrote a post looking at which of the top 10 UK retailers use Pinterest.
Back then Pinterest was the new kid on the block with bags of potential for building brand identity and driving sales.
To find out whether those brands have persisted with Pinterest or decided the grass is greener over on Google+, I’ve revisited the same retailers to see whether they still use the network and how their strategies have altered.
Online-only 'department stores' have a big job in terms of SEO, thanks to large product ranges, the size of the sites and the number of brands contained therein.
So how well are they doing? Are they getting the basics right?
With help from 4Ps Marketing SEO Manager Ruth Attwood, I have some insight into the on-site SEO strategies of four major 'department store' websites: ASOS, Boohoo.com, MyWardrobe, and Net A Porter.
As we can see from the example of ASOS, doing the basics well can produce excellent results, and give brands a real advantage over competitors.
For the last month we've been bringing you some exciting campaigns and creative, shortlisted for The Digitals 2013.
Here are five more, from the social media category.
I've included some of the hard results of the work, as so often our readers are interested in the numbers involved. Enjoy!
Which campaigns have you seen recently that are defining the digital marketing landscape?
Genius can recognise genius, right? So, we asked this question of some ingenious folk shortlisted for Econsultancy and NMA's The Digitals Awards (we'll be handing out the awards on June 27th at a swanky swank bash).
Free delivery and returns are a major selling point for online retailers as it negates the problems that are inherent with buying something before you’ve tried it on.
As such if e-tailers offer this service they should make sure it’s prominently displayed on their site so that customers don’t have to double-check, which may cause them to hesitate and rethink their purchase.
But occasionally sites are coy about the fact that they offer free delivery, missing out on a valuable conversion tool.
A study published last year showed that delivery and returns achieve the lowest satisfaction scores when compared to other aspects of the ecommerce experience.
Similarly, when asked what aspect of online shopping retailers wanted to improve, 58% chose free or discounted shipping.
Only a small proportion of shoppers will arrive at an ecommerce site knowing the exact product they’re looking for, while most will prefer to browse and consider different options.
As such sites need to give shoppers tools to search their product range and strip out the items they’re not interested in.
An effective site search function is obviously a key element, but product filters are also necessary if you want to deliver a decent user experience.
In fact kilt retailer buyakilt.com saw a 26% increase in conversions and a whopping 76.1% boost in revenue after implementing a product filter which gave visitors an option to shop by kilt type and kilt pattern.
This time last year I looked at the mobile sites for the UK’s top 20 retailers to see which offered the best checkout process.
I found that there were a number of common flaws, such as forced registration, but in general the standard was quite high.
However I was also surprised to see that eight of the retailers were still relying on desktop sites.
As 12 months has now passed I thought it would be interesting to see whether the situation had changed at all and find out which retailers have made an effort to upgrade their sites.
A month ago, I wrote a post questioniong whether Primark was mad to ignore ecommerce, after it had said it had no plans to sell online.
Strangely, for a post and discussion on an internet marketing blog, the general consensus was that Primark's offline only strategy was a good idea for such a low margin retailer.
Yesterday however, Primark started selling a limited range of clothes via ASOS. So is this a good idea?
Checkout abandonment is inevitable on ecommerce sites as the plain truth is that some people simply aren’t ready to make a purchase.
However there are certain steps that sites can implement to limit the number of customers that dropout during the checkout phase.
The basic aim is to make it as simple as possible for your customers to hand over their cash, which means limiting the amount of form filling and offering shortcuts wherever possible.