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Over the past few weeks online retailers have begun unveiling tools aimed at inspiring shoppers as they search for Christmas gift ideas.
I’m unconvinced as to whether these features have any impact on sales as they often appear a bit gimmicky, but judging by their popularity among retailers they presumably achieve some kind of ROI.
I’ve already reviewed Argos’ rather quirky Gift Finder which offers a unique browsing experience at the expense of usability, so in the interest of fairness thought it would be interesting to take a look at how other brands are catering to Christmas shoppers.
Here’s what I came up with...
Last week saw the unveiling of the now traditional John Lewis Christmas ad, which this year comes with an added helping of cheese and schmaltz.
Despite the fact it stars a cartoon bear and a hare, it would appear the ad is set to break previous John Lewis ad records, at least in social media terms.
In the 24 hours after it was launched the ad was mentioned in 49,152 tweets, of which only 16% were negative. This is more than double the 21,027 mentions that last year’s ad picked up in the same time frame.
Research shows that stories, anecdotes and metaphors are more memorable than data.
At Searchlove last week, business consultant and author Danny Scheinmann discussed why stories work, the hidden structures behind them and how they can help your business to communicate effectively.
Registration and accounts on ecommerce sites have plenty of pros and cons. On the one hand, they can be handy for retention and easy repeat purchases, but they can be a barrier.
They can present a particular problem on mobile especially if shoppers have forgotten login details from previous purchases.
To illustrate this point, here's an example from the M&S mobile site, one which must be causing a number of abandoned purchases.
Detailed product information is essential for achieving conversions as customers obviously can’t touch the product so retailers need to provide all the relevant details through images, product descriptions, reviews and videos.
This is an easy enough task for simple product such as DVDs, books and some clothing items, but electronics and other technical products require a great deal more information.
The challenge is then to try and present all the relevant information in a clear and concise manner that doesn’t cause the reader to lose interest and go elsewhere.
A case in point is the Samsung 3D 51” plasma TV which retails at around £1,800. It’s not the sort of purchase that most people will make on a whim, so retailers have to provide detailed information to ensure customers are happy to part with their cash.
With this in mind, I browsed a number of ecommerce sites to see how they deal with product descriptions for this particular TV.
The EU e-Privacy Directive was introduced last year as a way of forcing websites to be more open about the type of cookies they used to track visitors.
Initially there was quite a lot of apprehension as site owners were concerned that they’d be forced to add intrusive pop-ups and force visitors to opt-in before they could begin using the site.
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.
All ecommerce sites could benefit from having product recommendations, with research showing that they can potentially increase revenue by up to 300%, improve conversions by 150% and help boost the average order value by 50%.
However, the precise format varies from site to site and should be tested to make sure it’s converting the maximum number of customers.
The copywriting needs to fit with the brand identity and it’s also important to strike an emotive chord and pique the customer’s interest.
This isn’t an easy task considering the fact that you generally only have room for about three or four words, but there is still a great deal you can do with the limited space.
In recent weeks I’ve begun looking at the different ways in which some of the world’s biggest brands use social media.
John Lewis has had an excellent start to the year, announcing a 44% increase in online sales over Christmas. You can read more about it in our Q&A with the company’s head of online delivery and customer experience Sean O'Connor.
Unlike Walmart and Tesco, John Lewis doesn’t publish its own social media guidelines online, however in a previous interview its social community manager said that content is key, “with a tailored approach for each social media channel.”
So here’s a quick look at how it uses four of the main social networks...
A recent survey into the functions that consumers most want to see in smartphone apps found that, aside from money saving offers, people value the ability to locate physical stores and to purchase items directly from the app.
Though the research, commissioned by Adobe, was a closed question so respondents were restricted in what they could answer, it highlights the local intent associated with activities on a smartphone.
To find out whether the UK’s top retailers are catering to this need, I tried out four shopping apps on Android to see how easy it is to find store location and contact details...
You need only take a look at Amazon’s homepage to understand the importance of product recommendations to ecommerce.
One report suggests that 70% of Amazon.com is devoted to recommendations, so it’s obvious that they play a vital role in exposing customers to new products and increasing sales.
In fact, according to an infographic from Monetate recommendations can increase revenue by up to 300%, improve conversions by 150% and help boost the average order value by 50%.
Obviously these figures will vary wildly depending on initial benchmarks and how extensively recommendations are used across the site, but the evidence is still too compelling to be ignored.
The retaier achieved a 44% increase in online sales over Christmas, so what lessons are there for other retailers?
I've been asking John Lewis' Head of Online Delivery and Customer Experience Sean O'Connor abut the secrets behind its success...