tag:econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/ecommerce Latest Ecommerce content from Econsultancy 2017-06-22T16:02:26+01:00 tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69193 2017-06-22T16:02:26+01:00 2017-06-22T16:02:26+01:00 Using data to improve your mobile conversion: A simple but effective approach Steve Borges <p>In<a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69160-mobile-conversion-rates-how-does-your-site-compare/"> a recent post</a> here, I described the Biglight Mobile Benchmark - a simple quadrant that allows any retailer to understand their own mobile conversion rate performance compared with the wider retail market. It has proven very useful as a visual and immediate way to answer two important questions: “How big is our mobile optimisation challenge?” and “How urgently do we need to start tackling it?”</p> <p>For many retailers it has also proven a useful way to secure the budget required to invest in their mobile optimisation programmes.</p> <p>In many ways, of course, that is the easy bit. Actually improving conversion rates on mobile can be much more challenging - and, for lots of ecommerce people I have spoken to, the next question is “Where do we start?”.</p> <p>That is where journey mapping and micro-conversion benchmarking are so important - they underpin a focused process that ensures that every penny invested in optimisation is spent where it is most likely to make a difference. What’s more, focusing on the ‘big bets’ enables rapid deployment, so the return on investment is realised quicker too.</p> <p>Here’s how it works - and we know it works, because this is a process we’ve been through with a number of clients this year.</p> <h3>Understand the journey</h3> <p>It is a statement of the obvious to say that it is hard to optimise the mobile experience for your customers if you don’t understand user needs and the user journey.</p> <p>As it happens, shopper behaviour on mobile is quite specific. Shoppers are pretty single minded about getting to the product quickly.</p> <p>Some of the insights from a recent, large-scale study we did at Biglight back that up:</p> <ul> <li>People choose the easiest route - to get to product quickly</li> <li>They bypass or ignore content they consider to be irrelevant</li> <li>Users invest considerable time filtering to refine their selections</li> <li>There is strong interest in interacting with the image gallery</li> <li>Product descriptions are ignored if they are overwhelming</li> <li>Once into the checkout, there is a genuine intent in completion.</li> </ul> <p>That combination of single mindedness and an obvious preference for native device functionality - mobile users want to pinch, swipe and so on - has implications for the way retailers should assess the mobile experience they are delivering.</p> <p>It’s actually quite a simple journey - a journey of two halves, each with its own thread of quite distinct characteristics. We refer to these are the ‘browse to basket’ and ‘basket conversion’ journeys.</p> <h3>Browse-to-basket journey</h3> <p>This part of the journey covers all browsing activity and has as its key success metric the proportion of users who enter the site that go on to view the basket page (with something in it), which we call the “browse-to-basket ratio”.</p> <p>We’ve found this is a reliable indicator of how well the site is performing in its core roles of helping users find products they are interested in, engaging them and motivating them towards purchase.</p> <p>It also represents the total available pool from which overall site conversions are derived. Clearly, if the browse-to-basket ratio is 3%, total site conversion will only ever be a proportion of this, never more.</p> <p>Finally, it’s reasonably simple to track on most websites, so it facilitates comparison from site to site. Right now, 'good' is a ratio of close to 10% and anything below 5% is a worry. But there are other important steps, or micro-conversions, along the way.</p> <p>In simple terms, the journey here is:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/6947/BTB_JOURNEY.png" alt="Browse to Basket Journey" width="964" height="146"></p> <p>The principal challenges in this part of the journey are to focus navigation, merchandising, content and search efforts on getting users to a product listings page (PLP) with a minimum of fuss then, once there, ensuring that filtering is simple, relevant and fast, so that users can progress to product details pages (PDPs).</p> <p>Once users get to the PDPs, they’ll spend time there. They’re keen to interact with images and reviews and will consume other relevant content if it’s brief and easy to engage with - in fact engagement with relevant content increases conversion and average order value (AOV).</p> <p>Overall, in the browse-to-basket journey there is a clear, direct correlation between time on site and micro-conversions. In other words, the challenge is to keep users engaged by getting them to product quickly and then making sure the product pages really deliver.</p> <h3>Basket conversion journey</h3> <p>In the second part of the journey, we’re interested in what proportion of the users who viewed a basket subsequently went on to complete a purchase, we call this the “basket conversion ratio”.</p> <p>Unlike the browse-to-basket journey, which is about engagement and motivation, the basket conversion journey is largely about retention or completion, so success is measured in terms of users who progress from step to step.</p> <p>We measure this part of the journey from the basket, rather than the start of the checkout process to allow us to make meaningful comparisons between sites with different checkout structures and those that provide different experiences for users that are logged-in. Broadly-speaking a typical journey has the following elements though:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/6946/BC_JOURNEY.png" alt="Basket Conversion Journey" width="972" height="145"></p> <p>Typically, there is an initial drop-off between the Basket and Welcome page, as those using the basket for other purposes (such as in preparation for store visit), or who have decided not to buy, leave the site. As you might expect, this can be significant, but it does vary considerably between retailers and does present opportunities for optimisation.</p> <p>Once users enter the checkout process proper though, there is evidence of genuine intent to complete it and extremely high micro-conversions of 95%+ between the individual steps in the journey are possible - provided the flow is intuitive and easy to use.</p> <p>In this part of the journey there is an inverse correlation between time and conversion - at the risk of stating the obvious, make it quick and easy, and you’ll convert more. Indeed, unsuccessful steps - where users do not convert - take up to twice as long as successful ones, which provides clear evidence of user struggle that can be addressed.</p> <p>Even so, high conversion rates are not always realised, as the benchmarking data I’ve included in the next section demonstrates - across the eight retailers included for illustration, the average basket conversion ratio is less than 40%, and individual rates range from 26% to 61%.</p> <p>It may be obvious, then, but retailers still have significant opportunities to improve their mobile checkout experiences.</p> <h3>Benchmarking mobile journey micro-conversions</h3> <p>Understanding how the journey works is one thing, but the crucial thing here is to see clearly how your own site is performing - to see where the micro-conversion issues are and identify the big optimisation opportunities.</p> <p>That’s where the more detailed picture behind the <a title="Biglight Mobile Benchmark" href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69160-mobile-conversion-rates-how-does-your-site-compare">Biglight Mobile Benchmark</a> comes in. As the table below demonstrates, the data enables comparison at pretty much every step of the journey - the overall browse to conversion journey expressed in terms of micro-conversions, or the proportion of users that move from one step to the next.</p> <p>Like any benchmark, it’s a really useful starting point - a way to zero in on where the problems and opportunities are. For instance, in the case of retailer 6 (below), a 10% browse-to-basket ratio is followed up by a disappointing 29% basket conversion ratio. No prizes for guessing where the priority optimisation jobs are…</p> <p>Retailer 5, meanwhile, has the opposite problem.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/6909/Micro-conversion_benchmarks.png" alt="Micro-conversion benchmarks" width="800"></p> <h3>OK, but what next?</h3> <p>This kind of benchmarking may only be the start, but it is a positive one. It offers a really simple, useful answer to the “Where do we start?” question, and ensures that the ‘what next?’ - the optimisation programme - delivers results fast.</p> <p>It does that by ensuring the starting point is a clear focus on big opportunity areas, a focus that can be further honed through usability testing - centred on high priority steps in the journey - to ensure the <em>why</em> behind the data is understood and can be acted on.</p> <p>Crucially, that means that the final stage - A/B testing alternative approaches to each of the priority areas - is sure footed and confident, based on real insight, not guesswork. It also means that bigger, more extensive alternatives in each area (based on best-practice prototypes) can be tested with the confidence they will succeed.</p> <p>That in turn enables rapid deployment - through an experimentation roadmap that links parallel optimisation streams to specific, measureable goals, and moves each from preparation to results in weeks and months, rather than requiring long development cycles. In a market where mobile is taking over, that mix of certainty and pace could make the difference between success or failure.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69186 2017-06-20T11:24:36+01:00 2017-06-20T11:24:36+01:00 Is the Whole Foods acquisition the beginning of Amazon's endgame? Patricio Robles <p>The reason for the violent stock market reaction to the Amazon acquisition of Whole Foods is obvious: while the deal isn't final – it's possible other bidders will emerge – Amazon is clearly willing to make a bold move to get into the offline grocery business and when such a move is officially consumated, it will be highly disruptive.</p> <p>How disruptive?</p> <p>According to analysts at Cowen &amp; Co., Amazon, which is expected to be the ninth largest grocery retailer in the U.S. this year thanks to Amazon Fresh, would become the third largest with the acquisition of Whole Foods. Only Kroger and Wal-Mart would be larger. That's obviously a big deal.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/6885/wf.jpg" alt="wholefoods" width="469" height="217"></p> <h3>Big business</h3> <p>Becoming a bigger player in the grocery space is a logical ambition for Amazon as the market is a $600bn a year business. But for Amazon's to realize significant gains, a sizable bricks and mortar operation looks necessary. That's because while online grocery sales are rapidly growing, according to the Food Marketing Institute and Nielsen, they're still only going to account for 20% of the market by 2025. That's a significant five-fold jump from where sales are today, but to really accelerate the growth of its presence in this market, Amazon needed to make a big move.</p> <p>But Amazon's pending acquisition of Whole Foods isn't just about the grocery market.</p> <p>First, not only will it put pressure on large retailers with exposure to the grocery market, it will put pressure on two of Amazon's biggest competitors, Wal-Mart and Costco. The latter in particular, which is the largest membership-only warehouse club in the U.S., could be hurt considerably by the Amazon-Whole Foods deal.</p> <p>According to Deutsche Bank analyst Paul Trussell, "The Whole Foods Market acquisition represents a game changer with Costco's competitive moat in grocery under greater threat while its digital platform lags peers, putting membership renewal at risk for decline."</p> <p>Exacerbating the threat to Costco is the fact that, according to Cowan &amp; Co., 64% of Costco members now also have an Amazon Prime membership. Cowan &amp; Co.'s data indicates that those Costco-Prime members are visiting Costco less, so once Amazon owns Whole Foods and extends Prime's footprint into Whole Foods, Costco could lose out even more to the Amazon-owned grocery chain.</p> <p>Second, and most importantly, while Whole Foods locations will give Amazon a bricks and mortar grocery platform, Whole Foods stores won't just be a grocery asset. Observers are already pointing out that Whole Foods' 450 stores, which are primarily located in upscale coastal cities that are key Prime markets, can be used as distribution and fulfillment centers for the retail giant, which has been working very hard to reduce the costs of getting products into the hands of customers.</p> <p>And there's no shortage of speculation about the ways the company could innovate and leverage Whole Foods locations to further its interests. These range from introducing greater automation, such as self-serve checkout, to using Whole Foods to distribute more Amazon private label brands.</p> <h3>Amazon's endgame</h3> <p>It appears that the Whole Foods deal is the beginning of the endgame for Amazon. Having used ecommerce and digital technology to thoroughly disrupt retailers, which have already closed approximately 3,000 stores this year, Amazon is now in a prime (no pun intended) position to swoop in and use bricks and mortar to advance its goal of dominating retail.</p> <p>In effect, Amazon, which is soon likely to make founder and CEO Jeff Bezos the richest man in the world, is now going to turn the physical stores that were a liability to the retailers it had to overcome into assets that could cripple those retailers, in many cases fatally.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69131 2017-06-15T11:43:00+01:00 2017-06-15T11:43:00+01:00 How shopping malls are enticing consumers offline Nikki Gilliland <p>More specifically, how retailers are struggling to strike the right balance between online and offline channels.</p> <p>One member prompted the question: Are high street loyalty programs pointless compared to offerings like Amazon Prime – whereby unlimited free content keeps consumers hooked? How can high street or bricks-and-mortar stores possibly compete?</p> <p>On the flip side, when we’re constantly being told that consumers want experiential shopping experiences in physical environments, are we focusing too much online? It amounts to a lot of confusion, especially for multi-channel retailers. </p> <p>So what about targeting consumers in shopping malls? After all, these environments act as a sort of middle-man, with the potential to help bridge the gap between brands and consumers, as well as the online and offline worlds. With this in mind, here’s a bit more on how they're targeting today’s (increasingly digitally-focused) consumers.</p> <h3>Creating destination shopping</h3> <p>From children’s soft play areas to pop-up catwalks – shopping malls have always included more than just the retail stores themselves. </p> <p>However, these services (not including mid-tier entertainment such as cinemas and bowling alleys) are generally geared around basic convenience or blatant PR as opposed to anything truly customer-centric. This appears to be changing, with shopping centres now focusing on how they can use the spaces between shops to create a truly immersive experience for customers, from beginning to end. </p> <p>One way the likes of Westfield and Bluewater are achieving this is by strategically placing champagne bars in the middle of malls.</p> <p>It’s not rocket science of course – giving people a reason to linger (and make them more relaxed) is bound to drive extra footfall to stores. But it’s not just a case of any old alcohol either. Interestingly, locations such as the Intu Victoria Centre in Nottingham UK have deliberately chosen prosecco bars instead of champagne, with the former drawing in a wider demographic and better aligning with high street retail brands. In contrast, you’ll find Searcy’s champagne in Westfield London, located opposite high-end brands like Jimmy Choo and Versace.</p> <p>This shows that it’s not as simple as creating an immersive experience for the masses, but one that aligns with the specific commercial environment and target customer.</p> <p>Meanwhile, shopping malls are striving to make leisure and entertainment the primary reason for people to visit - not just an added bonus. This is particularly the case in the US, where shopping malls are massively suffering due to the rise in the ecommerce market, with one in three <a href="http://www.cnbc.com/2016/05/12/1-in-3-american-malls-are-doomed-retail-consultant-jan-kniffen.html" target="_blank">reportedly set to close</a> within the next decade.</p> <p>With the aim of reclaiming the shopping mall as the heart of the community, many are combining fine dining, brand pop-ups, showrooms and even sporting activities to entice consumers. The Mall of America in Minnesota is a rather extreme example, but its aquarium and dinosaur walk museum demonstrates the true potential of destination shopping.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/6446/mall_of_america.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="499"></p> <h3>Utilising space and design</h3> <p>While there is a huge danger of over-generalising when it comes to gender, there’s no denying that men and women typically shop in different ways – meaning that they also want different things from physical retail environments.</p> <p>According to BI Intelligence, 40% of men aged 18 to 34 would ‘ideally buy everything online’, while just 33% of women feel the same. </p> <p>So, what actually drives men into malls?</p> <p>Research suggests that most males are likely to use physical stores to seek out unique products that they can’t find online or, in the case of those at our Digital Advisory Board meeting, if they are accompanying friends or family members. Interestingly, one person cited the difference between a shopping mall that includes relaxation areas (including comfy sofas and water stations) in multiple areas - and one that didn’t. Naturally, they said, you’ll find a greater percentage of males using these areas, often waiting for others while they shop.</p> <p>This is not a revelation, however it does demonstrate how shopping malls can effectively utilise space and design – even if it just means a comfier seat - to enhance the customer experience and increase the chances of return. </p> <p>Many new malls are also being designed with the wider environment in mind, regardless of how urban it might be. Take Cabot Circus in Bristol UK, for instance, which was built with a huge shell-shaped glass roof to create the illusion of being in the open-air. Similarly, the Fornebu S mall in Oslo was voted the most sustainable shopping mall in the world for its green roof and bicycle park, which encourages consumers to cycle to and from.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/6447/cabot_circus.JPG" alt="" width="760" height="474"></p> <h3>Using technology to merge online and offline</h3> <p>Finally, it would be foolish to ignore the growing popularity of online shopping, specifically how consumers are using a combination of the two channels. Whether it’s showrooming (which means visiting stores to buy online later) or webrooming (the other way around) – retailers need to find a way to facilitate and enhance both experiences, instead of convincing customers that one is surperior.</p> <p>One way is to increase the amount of technology in-stores, for example using a tablet to quickly search if a product is in stock. Or even just a slick buy-and-collect service to give consumers greater flexibility and freedom.</p> <p>A few years ago, Kate Spade launched one of the first examples of integrated technology, installing touchscreen storefronts that allowed customers to purchase items based on real-life ‘window shopping’. Now with the introduction of VR and AR, high-tech stores and pop-ups like this are becoming even more innovative, meaning that customers are turning to physical retail for the sole purpose of discovering what brands are doing with it.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/6448/Kate_Spade.JPG" alt="" width="614" height="464"></p> <p>Essentially, whether it is a touchscreen or a prosecco bar, it’s all about giving consumers a greater value proposition. Not just in comparison to ecommerce - but to the standard shopping malls of the past.</p> <p><em><strong>Related reading:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69098-could-ai-revolutionize-high-street-retail-as-well-as-ecommerce/" target="_blank">Could AI revolutionize high street retail as well as ecommerce?</a></em></li> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68023-think-retail-how-brands-are-targeting-the-phygital-generation/" target="_blank">Think retail: How brands are targeting the ‘phygital’ generation</a></em></li> <li><em><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68893-four-digital-priorities-for-retailers-in-2017/" target="_blank">Four digital priorities for retailers in 2017</a></em></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69160 2017-06-13T13:51:55+01:00 2017-06-13T13:51:55+01:00 Mobile conversion rates: How does your site compare? Steve Borges <h3>How does your mobile conversion rate stack up against the Mobile Benchmark?</h3> <p>Finding out how your mobile conversion rates compare with the market average, and with a range of retailers, is the first step towards focused optimisation.</p> <p>It’s no secret that conversion rates amongst customers using mobile devices is a real issue for retailers. The fact that mobile delivers roughly half the conversion rate of desktop is worry enough - but add shoppers’ growing preference for the mobile channel and it’s little wonder so many retailers now see mobile optimisation as a priority.</p> <p>But where to start? That’s been the first question for almost all the retailers with whom we’ve worked on mobile optimisation over the last few months. They’ve known it’s a problem, but not how big a problem or where to begin tackling it.</p> <h3>The Mobile Benchmark</h3> <p>The first step has to be to understand the scale of the problem - to look at mobile conversion not in isolation, but in the kind of meaningful context that provides an answer the question: <em>“How big a problem is mobile conversion for this retailer?”</em></p> <p>The work we’ve done in this area at Biglight has generated a huge amount of data around customer behaviour on mobile - and, as a result, we can benchmark performance in aggregate and in micro-conversions from arrival on the site through to checkout.</p> <p>In this post, I want to look at the top level - the aggregate view. We call it the Mobile Benchmark. It’s a simple, quadrant-style graph that visualises mobile performance, when compared with other retailers and an overall average.</p> <p>It looks like this (below), the two gold lines marking the average positions on each axis - 50% for the mobile traffic mix, and just over 45% for mobile conversion rate, as a percentage of desktop conversion rate:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/6738/mobile_benchmark.png" alt="Mobile Benchmark" width="800"></p> <p>This is real data, based on the UK performance of 15 leading retailers of apparel, footwear, homewares and accessories in March and April this year, but the method can be applied to almost any type of retailer. Just follow this simple formula and then plot the results on the same X and Y axes:</p> <ol> <li>Work out the Mobile Traffic Mix % (the X axis) - Mobile (smartphone) traffic divided by total traffic, multiplied by 100</li> <li>Then work out the Relative Conversion Rate % for mobile (the Y axis) - Mobile Conversion % divided by Desktop Conversion %, multiplied by 100.</li> </ol> <p>By looking at relative conversion performance, we eliminate the variation in conversion between retailers for other reasons (such as overall proposition, availability etc), allowing us to focus on the performance of mobile in a relatively comparable context.</p> <h3>Using the Mobile Benchmark: How big is the opportunity?</h3> <p>In essence, this instantly highlights how big any retailer’s mobile optimisation opportunity is, and how urgently the process should begin.</p> <p>For instance, a retailer that plots in the top left quadrant is in a relatively strong position - that position denotes a relatively low mobile mix, and a relatively high mobile conversion rate. That means, mobile users are a lower proportion of traffic than average and that those who visit the site using mobile deliver a better than average conversion rate, relative to desktop.</p> <p>On the other hand, those that plot in the bottom right quadrant have a serious, and urgent problem (or the biggest potential opportunity). The combination of a high mobile mix with a low relative mobile conversion rate is not good news - lots of people are visiting by mobile, but they are not simply not converting.</p> <p>Of course, those are the extremes. As the example above demonstrates though, most plot somewhere between the two, which shows that, for the vast majority of retailers, there remains a significant opportunity to improve mobile revenue performance.</p> <p>We've noted over time that all data points tend to shift to the right (as mobile continues to displace both desktop and tablet as the users' device of choice), but there is no evidence of any increase in relative conversion performance as this happens. In short, there is no correlation between an increase in the Mobile Traffic Mix and Relative Conversion Rate over time.  </p> <p>Where the Mobile Benchmark has proven most useful for our clients is in offering visual, empirical evidence of the issue, benchmarked against the market - the ability to share that across the business has proven very handy when scaling the opportunity (relative to both the average and maximum performance) and securing budget to get the mobile optimisation process going.</p> <h3>Focused mobile optimisation: What next?</h3> <p>The next step is to understand precisely where the issues are - which aspects of the mobile journey are simply not working and why.</p> <p>That, again, starts with a benchmarking process; one that breaks the journey down into stages. We look at ‘Browse to Basket’ and ‘Basket to Conversion’ as two broad steps in the journey - then in more detail at micro-conversions (for instance the product detail page to product listing page micro-conversion), to identify the specific parts of the journey that present the biggest optimisation opportunities.</p> <p>We then complete structured usability testing, focusing on those parts of the journey, along with other behavioural research, to identify the <em>why</em> behind the opportunities the data has revealed. That discipline, along with prototyping major changes, A/B testing and rapid deployment, are the final steps towards delivering a step-change in mobile revenue performance.</p> <p>I’ll cover those steps in the process in more detail in my next post. In the meantime, why not take the challenge?</p> <p>Plot your own mobile performance on the Mobile Benchmark and let us know how you get on.</p> <p><em><strong>More on this topic:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67174-five-best-practice-tips-to-boost-mobile-conversions/">Five best practice tips to boost mobile conversions</a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69152 2017-06-13T09:43:00+01:00 2017-06-13T09:43:00+01:00 A day in the life of... Product Director at Klarna Ben Davis <h3>Please describe your job: What do you do?</h3> <p>I work as Product Director at <a href="https://www.klarna.com/">Klarna</a>, one of Europe’s leading payment providers. We partner with retailers to help improve the payment process and make it as smooth and frictionless as possible for their customers.</p> <p>Klarna was born out of Sweden in 2005, and we now have almost 1,500 employees worldwide. I manage a team of talented product managers based in London and Amsterdam.</p> <p>Much of my job relies on making sure our products meet the needs of our merchants and consumers, so staying on top of our competition and local regulations is crucial. The UK is one of Klarna’s newest markets, and we’ve been in “start-up mode” building out the product suite and getting more merchants on board. </p> <p>It’s a really exciting time to be working in the company, as it combines the exciting mix of a start-up in our newer markets such as the UK and the US, with the gravitas that comes from a well-established operation in other countries across the Nordics and in Germany.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/6746/Mat_Perkins.jpg" alt="mat perkins" width="300"></p> <p><em>Mat Perkins</em></p> <h3>Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?</h3> <p>I report into Klarna’s Chief Product Officer, David Fock, who is based in our Stockholm headquarters. I’m part of the global product leadership team. Our product organisation is fairly large, with around 60 product managers who work in partnership with our 400-strong engineering group. I also work with the local UK and Dutch leadership teams. </p> <h3>What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role? </h3> <p>Obviously technical, product and ecommerce expertise are essential, but the skills I’ve actually needed to use time and time again have been softer, more interpersonal skills.</p> <p>Working within such a big organisation that’s constantly growing means there’s an enormous list of things the company wants to do. My primary responsibility is to make sure the UK and Dutch businesses gets the product development and support they need to be successful, so I spend a lot of time lobbying for those areas.</p> <h3>Tell us about a typical working day…</h3> <p>I’m currently splitting my time between London, Stockholm and Amsterdam, which means a lot of early morning flights!</p> <p>Assuming it’s a normal day in the London office, I spend a huge amount of time with our merchants who use Klarna on their sites. We’ll either work through new product ideas from our side, gather feedback on improvements, or review recent performance. </p> <p>We also spend a lot of time with prospective clients. We’re there to listen to what merchants who don’t already use Klarna want. We’ll demo our product and showcase how it will benefit their types of customer and we’ll talk about relevant upcoming product releases.</p> <p>All this interaction and feedback is processed and summarised, and then goes into product and feature requests for development. This then feeds into our wider work which looks at exactly how a consumer or merchant problem can be solved and what needs to be built. </p> <p>Given the highly regulated environment we work in, it can be really complex to balance beautiful UX with all the correct legal and compliance control. We work closely with our colleagues in Stockholm on the process, and benefit from the world-class product design and engineering talent we have there.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0008/6747/klarna-blog-flyer.jpg" alt="klarna" width="380"></p> <h3>What do you love about your job? What sucks?</h3> <p>I love launching new products and features, and getting great feedback from the merchants and consumers who use them.</p> <p>A challenging part of the job at the moment is balancing the need to travel frequently with home life. I’ve got three kids who are five, four and three months old, so I try and maximise my time away without spending too many nights apart from my family. That means I often fly out on the first flight out and get the last one back, which can be really exhausting. The Nordics is one of the leading regions in Europe promoting flexible working for parents and I’m lucky the culture filters across into the UK side of the business too.</p> <h3>What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?</h3> <p>The company’s main priority is ensuring our merchants are satisfied, and that our products make a difference to them and their customers. Within the product team, we tend to look at lower level metrics that help us fine-tune our products’ performance. A key one is <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64210-what-is-conversion-rate-optimisation-cro-and-why-do-you-need-it/">conversion rate</a> – so how many people place an order via our checkout compared to how many people started the checkout process in the first place. </p> <p>The business as a whole tends to look at volume and revenue. This includes how much payment volume we’re processing for our merchants and then how much money is left after we take away losses, interchange and a number of other overheads.</p> <p>Within that figure there a number of levers that can be pulled, including fraud policy rules, risk algorithms, UX design, system performance… the list goes on! </p> <h3>What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done? </h3> <p>The global nature of our business means we’re all big users of collaborative tools at Klarna. Unsurprisingly, Slack tends to be the communication channel of choice.</p> <p>We also use the Google Apps suite all the time - the ability for multiple people to simultaneously edit in real time is key to us being able to pool knowledge and make decisions on complex issues quickly when teams are working from two or more different geographic locations. </p> <p>Our engineering teams work independently and are aligned to various product domains with different timelines and milestones, so we rely on software development software Jira to manage this complexity. In terms of mock-ups and user testing, we use Sketch for the design work, Invision to construct the prototypes and Lookback to record and archive user testing sessions. </p> <h3>How did you get started in the digital payment industry, and where might you go from here? </h3> <p>Klarna’s an exceptional company and we’re only just getting started on our journey in the UK. I’ve still got a lot to achieve here – ultimately, I want to see us becoming a leading POS credit provider and the leading alternative payment method.</p> <p>I came to the digital payments world without a financial services background, which I think can be a real advantage in the world of fintech. Often people from more traditional banking backgrounds can struggle to think creatively and find solutions without being influenced by legacy issues.</p> <p>My background immediately before joining Klarna was in ecommerce and digital marketing at eBay. Prior to that, I spent time in online market research and as a developer.</p> <h3>Which brands do you think are doing UX and payment well? </h3> <p>Not that anyone would believe it’s an unbiased view, but in the online credit and payment space, there’s no one who comes close to where Klarna is. I truly believe we’re a leader in consumer experience in the checkout and in the simplicity, clarity and smoothness of our credit application process.</p> <p>In the wider fintech space, I’ve recently started using <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68756-prudent-ux-for-banking-monzo-designs-positive-friction/search/?only=BlogPost&amp;locale=uk&amp;q=monzo">Monzo</a>, one of the new challenger banks. The app’s UX and how tightly everything works with their beautiful fluorescent coral coloured card is really slick.</p> <h3>Do you have any advice for people who want to work in the fintech industry or digital more broadly?</h3> <p>Don’t be put off by a lack of traditional financial services experience. Klarna has people with deep credit risk, fraud and compliance expertise where needed, but they balance it with employees from other backgrounds outside of the financial services world. That breeds a melting pot of experience where our beautiful customer-centric products are created. </p> <p>It’s a shameless plug, but we’re actively recruiting for our tech integration teams – so if you want to come and work for a really exciting major player in the payments space, then please do get in touch!</p> <p><em><strong>More on fintech:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67693-a-day-in-the-life-of-head-of-marketing-at-a-fintech-startup/">A day in the life of.. Head of Marketing at Clearscore</a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69022-five-fintech-websites-with-crystal-clear-value-propositions/">Five fintech websites with crystal clear brand propositions</a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68159-five-ways-fintech-upstarts-are-disrupting-established-financial-institutions/">Five ways fintech upstarts are disrupting established financial institutions</a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69141 2017-06-11T23:59:00+01:00 2017-06-11T23:59:00+01:00 Amazon scales up in Asia-Pacific: How can local retailers prevent showrooming? Jeff Rajeck <p>For anyone who is unaware at what happens to traditional retail when Amazon enters the market, take a look at this graph.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/6503/Picture1.jpg" alt="" width="615"></p> <p>Ten years ago, Amazon was a blip on the retail landscape, but now most of its competition has seen its market cap evaporate while Amazon has shot through the roof - and even the 800-pound gorilla of US shopping, Walmart, is reeling from the 'Amazon effect'.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/6504/Amazon_versus_walmart_market_value_01.png" alt="" width="615"></p> <p>Asia-Pacific appears to be the ecommerce firm's next target. Recent headlines give some indication of Amazon's strategy for the region: </p> <ul> <li><a href="https://qz.com/701919/amazon-has-just-given-a-3-billion-reason-for-flipkart-and-snapdeal-to-worry/">Amazon has committed to spending $5 billion in India</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.asiaone.com/business/amazon-takes-100000-sq-ft-mapletree-facility-sources">Amazon has rented 100,000 square feet of warehouse space in Singapore</a></li> <li> <a href="http://www.news.com.au/finance/business/retail/amazon-launches-hiring-spree-as-it-prepares-for-australian-launch/news-story/b375c39bf9f08653d17a577d97e9d15b">Amazon advertises for more than 100 roles in Sydney</a> and is now "<a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-06-01/amazon-takes-on-remote-outpost-in-the-land-of-bricks-and-mortar">actively looking or a warehouse</a>" in Australia</li> </ul> <p>So considering the fate US retailers post-Amazon, what can local retailers do to prepare?</p> <h3>New research, new hope</h3> <p>Econsultancy, and <a href="https://risnews.com/how-retailers-can-use-advanced-analytics-combat-amazon-effect">many</a> <a href="https://econsultancy.com/admin/blog_posts/new/%20%20http:/hrcadvisory.com/in_the_news/think-tank-combat-amazon-effect/">other</a> <a href="http://blog.mirakl.com/macys-kohls-and-sears-can-they-battle-the-amazon-effect">publications</a>, have <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66719-17-ways-your-ecommerce-business-can-beat-amazon/">written on this topic extensively</a> and the posts offer many useful tips for how retailers in the region can face the Amazon threat.</p> <p>New research, however, offers some interesting strategies which may offer existing retailers some new ideas about how they can stand up to the ecommerce juggernaut.</p> <p>In the May 2017 edition of the Journal of Interactive Marketing, Gensler, Neslin, and Verhoes published <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1094996817300142">The Showrooming Phenomenon</a> which highlights research from a professionally-managed panel of 800 US consumers.  </p> <p>The topic of the research was whether the participants 'showroomed', that is shopped offline and then bought corresponding items online.  And if they did showroom, why?</p> <p>Showrooming is a key topic when determining how offline retailers can compete with Amazon as if showrooming is popular then consumers may still visit stores but then complete their purchases online. If, however, retailers can determine the causes of showrooming and discourage the practice then they stand a better chance of selling to the consumer when they are in the store.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/6505/showrooming.png" alt="" width="800" height="334"></p> <h3>The data</h3> <p>Unsurprisingly, the authors found that for consumers who showroom the <em>perception</em> that online retailers offered the best price on average was a factor which encouraged showrooming. That is, the more a consumer was convinced that prices were better online, the more likely they were to showroom.</p> <p>This is bad news for retailers.  If price is the consumer's only consideration, then retailers, who incur additional costs like real estate and salaries for salespeople, will struggle to win over customers from Amazon.</p> <p>Fortunately for retailers, though, price is not the only factor which influenced showrooming.<strong>  </strong>The authors also found that other factors were equally as important as price, but actually <em>discouraged </em>showrooming behaviour.</p> <p>These include: </p> <ul> <li>the 'time cost' of spending time searching for items online,</li> <li>the greater availability of salespeople in stores, and</li> <li>time pressure that a consumer feels when they need an item urgently.</li> </ul> <p>So, by downplaying the advantages of shopping online and emphasizing the benefits of shopping offline, traditional retailers stand a chance of keeping consumers when Amazon comes to town.</p> <h3>What should local retailers do?</h3> <p>In the paper, the authors identified four key strategies which offline retailers could use to discourage customers from showrooming.</p> <h3>1) Offer regular and substantial price promotions</h3> <p>Offering real price advantage offline forces the consumer to re-think the belief that online is always cheaper online.</p> <p>And because it is the <em>perception</em> that online shopping offers price advantage which encourages showrooming, regularly pricing goods cheaper than Amazon, even at a loss, should discourage showrooming. </p> <h3>2) Make online search seem like a chore compared to in-store shopping</h3> <p>Offline retailers, the authors suggest, should emphasize convenience of shopping in their marketing campaigns and downplay time advantages of shopping online.</p> <p>As the perception that online shopping is difficult reduces the likelihood of showrooming, offline retailers should also highlight how easy it is to shop in their store.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/6506/showrooming.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="500"></p> <h3>3) Increase the number of sales personnel in the store</h3> <p>Increasing sales staff is the strongest recommendations from the authors as they emphasize that doing so is a simple solution, yet counterintuitive in our era of cost-cutting.</p> <p>Their reasoning is that increasing the number of sales people addresses a well-known frustration of shopping (i.e. not being able to find a salesperson) while significantly decreasing the quality advantage perception of shopping online.</p> <p>Additionally, the authors say that the number of sales staff, not the quality, is what makes the difference for consumers. Contrary to what many think, research indicates that it is this availability of sales personnel which discourages showrooming.</p> <h3>4) Highlight time pressure situations</h3> <p>While the authors admit that their research did not cover consumer time pressures extensively, they did find that consumers who felt time pressure were less likely to showroom.</p> <p>For retailers whose customers may need goods quickly, such as a supermarket, emphasizing this need may help discourage showrooming.</p> <h3>The offline advantage</h3> <p>So, according to the research, traditional retailers do have some options when devising strategies for competing with Amazon.</p> <p>These include emphasizing the positive aspects of offline shopping (simplicity, sales staff, and convenience) and the negative aspects of online shopping, such as the time it takes to find products online.</p> <p>They also encourage offline retailers to challenge the perception that online shopping is always cheaper, though include the warning that they may end up in a price war, unfavorable to both online and offline retailers.</p> <p>Overall, though, the research does offer hope that when Amazon launches in Asia-Pacific, retailers will at least be able to challenge the company and not suffer the fate of their US counterparts.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:RoundtableEvent/880 2017-06-06T16:00:46+01:00 2017-06-06T16:00:46+01:00 Ecommerce User Experience <p>This roundtable discussion will give attendees the chance to share their key challenges, headaches, and success stories around ecommerce and user experience. It provides an opportunity to learn from industry peers, with the aim of providing inspiration for your own UX efforts.</p> <p>Talking points will largely be decided by attendees on the day, but could include:</p> <p>• UX is now a trendy term but how well does the c-suite understand human-centred design? Is there sponsorship at the right level?</p> <p>• Data driven marketing –Google is doing more to tie up online and offline behavior, is this changing your approach to targeting?</p> <p>• What is AI? From chatbots to personalization – where is AI being implemented and where is its future?</p> <p>• Approaches to user research and testing: What is best practice?</p> <p>• Who is getting it right? From content to delivery.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69126 2017-06-06T15:45:00+01:00 2017-06-06T15:45:00+01:00 Why did Amazon's online video shopping channel fail? Patricio Robles <p><a href="http://pagesix.com/2017/05/29/jeff-bezos-live-television-stint-canceled/">On May 26</a>, the online retail giant "abruptly" told staffers that the show – which was hosted by former MTV-er Lyndsey Rodrigues, ABC news correspondent Rachel Smith and reality TV star Frankie Grande – was being canceled.</p> <h3>So what happened?</h3> <p>Amazon posted a message on the Style Code Live Facebook Page telling fans that "all good things must come to an end" and promising that "there is more to come." But it has not revealed any further information about its decision or details like viewership.</p> <p>While most of the Style Code Live social media accounts have been deleted, it appears that the show had accumulated some 69,000 followers on Instagram, 42,000 likes on Facebook and 18,000 followers on Twitter. Interestingly, the show's YouTube channel remains and reveals that the company had generated little activity and engagement on one of the most popular platforms for style and beauty content.</p> <h3>A failed experiment?</h3> <p>Amazon's prowess in using data to inform business decisions is no secret and thus if one was to speculate about the cause of Style Code Live's cancellation one would have to conclude that the most likely reason for it was that the show was not generating sufficient business to make the investment worthwhile.</p> <p>Producing a live broadcast five days a week was likely a costly undertaking, and during its run Style Code featured celebrity guests like Sarah Jessica Parker, Meghan Trainor, Meghan Markle, Nicole Richie, Kourtney Kardashian, Kelly Osbourne and Ariel Winter. Ostensibly, Amazon compensated them for their appearances on the show.</p> <h3>All about influencers?</h3> <p>Celebrity and new media influencers looked to be a prominent part of the Style Code Live value proposition, but it's not clear that Amazon's program was actually able to take advantage of their influence.</p> <p>While the aforementioned Style Code Live social media accounts had tens of thousands of followers, that's a drop in the bucket compared to many of the celebrities that appeared on the show. For instance, Kourtney Kardashian has over 57m followers on Instagram, and Sarah Jessica Parker has over 3.5m.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/2792/stylecode3.jpg" alt="" width="311" height="264"></p> <p>If one assumes that the activity on Style Code Live's social media accounts were indicative of the show's actual viewership, it would appear fairly likely that audience numbers were extremely modest and thus nowhere near high enough to move the needle for Amazon, which generated more than $135bn in revenue last year.</p> <p>As far as bringing the home shopping channel into the 21st century, consider that QVC generates more than $8bn in sales every year. Clearly, if Style Code Live showed any promise of being the digital QVC for millennials, Amazon wouldn't have shuttered it. </p> <p>So if Amazon's plan was to pair original content with a hefty dose of influencer appearances to sell fashion products, it fell short. But that doesn't mean Amazon is giving up on influencers. To the contrary, the company is now trying to tap them through alternative means: <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68961-amazon-tries-its-hand-at-influencer-affiliate-marketing">a special affiliate program</a> that allows influencers to curate their own collections of products on Amazon, which they can promote to their fans.</p> <p>Will that be a more effective and less costly approach? Time will tell.</p> <p><em>For more on influencers, check out these Econsultancy reports:</em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/measuring-roi-on-influencer-marketing/"><em>Measuring ROI on Influencer Marketing</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/the-voice-of-the-influencer/"><em>The Voice of the Influencer</em></a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69134 2017-06-06T13:00:00+01:00 2017-06-06T13:00:00+01:00 Amazon Books: What retail can learn from Amazon's new bookstores Patricio Robles <p>Amazon's victims over the years have also included countless local, independent bookstores. But a funny thing happened. With Borders gone, Barnes &amp; Noble less powerful, and a growing number of consumers developing nostalgia for the bookstore experience, in recent years independent bookstores have seen <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/business/the_edgy_optimist/2014/09/independent_bookstores_rising_they_can_t_compete_with_amazon_and_don_t_have.html">a quiet revival</a>.</p> <p>Perhaps the biggest evidence that there is a not insignificant market for physical bookstores in our digital age: Amazon itself is building physical bookstores.</p> <p>Dubbed simply Amazon Books, the first was opened in November 2015 in Seattle. Six more followed in cities that include Chicago, Portland, San Diego and, last month, the first in New York City. Amazon has announced that another six are coming soon.</p> <p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/b?node=13270229011">According to</a> Amazon:</p> <blockquote> <p>As a physical extension of Amazon.com, Amazon Books integrates the benefits of offline and online shopping to help you find books and devices you’ll love. We select books based on Amazon.com customer ratings, pre-orders, sales, popularity on Goodreads, and our curators’ assessments. We place books face-out on the shelves, so each can communicate its own essence. Under each book is a review card with the Amazon.com customer rating and a review. Most have been rated 4 stars or above and many are award winners.</p> </blockquote> <h3>A different kind of experience</h3> <p>Calling it "a store without walls," Amazon Books is definitely a different kind of bookstore.</p> <p>Perhaps the most noticeable difference: there are no prices listed. To find out how much a book costs, would-be customers have to use the Amazon app or a store price scanner. Two prices are provided: one for Prime members and one for non-Prime members. As with Amazon's online store, prices can change in real-time; the price for a book at 9:00 am might not be the same at 3:00 pm.</p> <p>Another major difference between Amazon Books and traditional bookstores is that all books are displayed face-out. As New York Magazine <a href="http://nymag.com/selectall/2017/06/why-is-amazon-building-bookstores.html">explained</a>, "the store’s decision to display titles face out means it only carries about 3,000 titles, far less than it could if it displayed books more like a traditional bookstore with the same amount of space."</p> <p>Finally, Amazon displays books with review cards containing an actual unmodified user review from Amazon's site. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/6564/1000638_books_landing-page_bookstore-photo-02.jpg" alt="" width="572" height="319"></p> <h3>Data versus heart?</h3> <p>Not surprisingly, Amazon is employing all of the data it collects to help determine what books are featured in its new physical stores. The company says that most of the books are "rated 4 stars or above," and it has created some interesting sections for books. For instance, the New York store has sections like "Books People Finished Within Three Days on Their Kindle" and "Books Rated 4.8 Stars or Above."</p> <p>While data is clearly a big part of the Amazon Books model, Amazon wants everyone to know that Amazon Bookstore isn't a heartless data-driven enterprise. Jennifer Cast, the VP of Amazon Books, pointed out that each store has curators who apply "data with heart."She says there's an "art versus science" process that takes place that ensures Amazon Books locations aren't exclusively stocking best-sellers customers already know about.</p> <h3>But not everyone is impressed.</h3> <p>Doug Garnett, CEO of Atomic Direct, a television ad agency, <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/retailwire/2017/06/01/what-amazons-new-bookstore-can-teach-struggling-retailers/">told</a> Forbes, "While I respect Amazon’s search for smarter retail, I think Amazon is attempting to create a value story where one doesn’t really exist."</p> <p>Others were less kind.</p> <p>In a piece entitled <em>The Amazon Bookstore Isn’t Evil. It’s Just Dumb</em>, New Republic's Alex Shephard <a href="https://newrepublic.com/article/142935/amazon-bookstore-isnt-evil-its-just-dumb">wrote</a>, "Everything in the store feels just a little bit off, and you’re constantly reminded that you’re interacting with the physical manifestation of an internet phenomenon."</p> <p>As Shephard sees it, "at their best, bookstores are community hubs" and Amazon Books falls well short of becoming that. "If Amazon Books’s raison d'etre is 'discoverability' and the blending of online and offline commerce, than its utility breaks down—it doesn’t do either thing particularly well," he concludes. </p> <p>When he visited an Amazon Books location, Shephard says that after spending an hour browsing and reading reviews, he had no idea what book to buy. That changed after a brief conversation with a store employee who made a personal recommendation. </p> <h3>An ironic lesson for struggling retailers?</h3> <p>Despite Amazon's online retail dominance, Amazon Books looks likely to be a limited threat to the independent bookstores because they're offering different experiences to different target markets. There's also the issue of economics; experts say it will be very difficult for Amazon to make much money from these stores given the limited inventory. Amazon obviously has enough money to subsidize losses, but if this is the case, don't expect Amazon Books to become a chain the size of Barnes &amp; Noble or the now-defunct Borders.</p> <p>So what can struggling retailers in other markets learn from Amazon's foray into physical bookstores? Ironically, the biggest lesson might be: don't try to compete with Amazon.</p> <p>That doesn't mean that some of the things Amazon is doing, such as using data to inform decisions, are bad ideas. They're not, and most retailers are already employing data more heavily and wisely. But retailers can also take a page from the independent bookstores that have been thriving despite Amazon's continued rise. Two of the biggest areas worth exploring are:</p> <h4>Personal, expertise-driven experience</h4> <p>The foundation of the independent bookstore experience is expertise, expertise-driven curation and personal interaction. Consumers who patronize independent bookstores aren't looking for the best prices, and they don't need to go there to find out what everyone else is already buying. Instead, they patronize independent bookstores because they know that the operators are passionate and knowledgeable, and can help them find the books they want to read.</p> <p>Retailers in <em>all</em> retail markets should consider experience to be the first axis on which they can establish a competitive differentiator. </p> <h4>Community</h4> <p>As New Republic's Shepard noted, independent bookstores can serve as community hubs. Many, for example, bring communities together around special events like author talks and book groups. These not only bring potential customers into stores, they help build loyalty in ways that incentive-focused loyalty programs often can't.</p> <p>While speciality retailers in certain markets will have more of an ability to build community than others, community is an overlooked and underutilized element of retail strategy today.</p> <p><em><strong>More on retail customer experience:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68712-i-beg-you-retailers-don-t-digitize-the-in-store-customer-experience/">I beg you retailers, don't digitize the in-store customere experience</a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69098-could-ai-revolutionize-high-street-retail-as-well-as-ecommerce/">Could AI revolutionize high-street retail as well as ecommerce?</a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69151 2017-06-06T11:15:00+01:00 2017-06-06T11:15:00+01:00 A day in the life of... senior data scientist at ASOS Ben Davis <p>You can <a href="https://twitter.com/b_p_chamberlain">follow him on Twitter here</a>. And if you want to see him speak about his work, he's talking at Econsultancy and Marketing Weeek's AI-focused event <a href="https://goo.gl/ZnKWPP">Supercharged</a> on July 4th.</p> <h3> <em>Econsultancy</em>: Please describe your job.</h3> <p><em>Ben Chamberlain</em>: I am a senior data scientist at ASOS, where I lead the customer understanding team. We build systems that generate customer intelligence from proprietary data.</p> <p>We work with a load of teams inside ASOS to help put everything that we know about our customers into making better products.</p> <h3> <em>E: </em>Whereabouts do you sit in your organisation?</h3> <p><em>BC:</em> At ASOS, data science is part of Digital Product and I report to Andy Berks, our Digital Product Director.</p> <h3> <em>E: </em>What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?</h3> <p><em>BC:</em> There are three classes of skills that data scientists need to have. People have different strengths and weaknesses, but everyone needs to have at least some knowledge in each area.</p> <p>The first is the ability to get things done quickly and effectively with a computer. This might be downloading and testing some new software, fixing a broken program or getting two databases to communicate.</p> <p>The second skill is statistics / machine learning. While a PhD in stats is not a requirement for the job, it is necessary to understand the fundamentals well. Machine learning is unusual because very bad algorithms can often look very good when they are not tested properly. Of course, they don’t work when put into production, but often a lot of money has been spent before you realise. This is what data scientists call the ‘danger zone’.</p> <p>The final skill is business knowledge. This includes things like knowing which <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67745-15-examples-of-artificial-intelligence-in-marketing/">problems data science can help with</a> and which to avoid and choosing the appropriate amount of resource to allocate to projects.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0008/6601/econsultancy_headshot-blog-flyer.jpeg" alt="ben chamberlain" width="470" height="627"></p> <p><em>Ben Chamberlain, senior data scientist at ASOS</em></p> <h3> <em>E: </em>Tell us about a typical working day…</h3> <p><em>BC:</em> My typical day is a nice blend of research, writing code and discussions with stakeholders. As scientists, we have to stay in touch with the latest ideas, so the team spend a good amount of time at the whiteboard talking through new research.</p> <p>I usually have a couple of meetings with the engineering teams and business executives to work on experiments that we would like to run, as well as writing a fair bit of code. There’s also the occasional special ASOS surprise thrown in. Today, for instance, our new tech bar is opening, so the whole office is finishing at three and we have a DJ to help us celebrate.</p> <p>Another good example is last week, Duncan Little, one of our scientists, traded modelling data for modelling clothes and went into the studio to shoot our new ASOS Lookbook. </p> <h3> <em>E: </em>What do you love about your job? What sucks?</h3> <p><em>BC:</em> ASOS is a great place to work. It’s young, energetic and still growing 20-25% year on year. There are only a handful of businesses with global HQs in London that have huge customer bases and great data. This means that as data scientists we work on the company’s most important problems and our work has global reach. The great employee discount keeps my girlfriend happy too.</p> <p>It’s hard to think of things that really suck, but if you pushed me, I’d say that there are no gyms nearby. They recently made all ASOS internal gym classes free, but trying to get a spot before work is like trying to get a ticket for Glastonbury – you sit refreshing your browser every ten seconds from 8:59 the previous day and it’s still a long shot. That said, we’re currently building a new ASOS gym area that should be ready next year. First world problems…</p> <h3> <em>E: </em>What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?</h3> <p><em>BC:</em> Our goals are very much project based. We work with a lot of different teams within ASOS and they all have their own KPIs. The first project that I did at ASOS looked at how we could predict the <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65435-what-is-customer-lifetime-value-clv-and-why-do-you-need-to-measure-it/">customer lifetime value</a> and how we could use that information to improve shopping frequency and average basket value.</p> <p>Our most recent work looks at how customers engage with ASOS communications and how we can use this information to increase email open and click-through rates.</p> <h3> <em>E: </em>What are your favourite tools to help you get the job done?</h3> <p><em>BC:</em> I program a lot in Python. I use Jupyter notebooks for exploratory work and the Pycharm integrated development environment for larger software projects. Google recently open sourced a python library for deep learning called Tensorflow, which we have all found really helpful.</p> <p>Our production code uses Apache Spark, which is great for distributed processing when we need to churn through 10TB of web logs every day.</p> <h3> <em>E: </em>How did you get started in the digital industry? </h3> <p><em>BC:</em> I was working for QinetiQ, which is a British defence and security company, as a signal processing scientist. I didn’t really do any signal processing though and spent most of my time writing graphical user interfaces in C++, which nobody would do any more.</p> <p>I remember at that time reading a New Scientist article, which surveyed scientists and asked them which subject they would choose if they could change specialism. Artificial Intelligence won and shortly after that I met Simon Maskell, now professor Maskell, who was working on AI applications for intelligent systems. I begged him for a place on his team and started working with him on a form of customer understanding for the intelligence services.</p> <p>From there it was not such a long hop to ASOS. </p> <h3> <em>E: </em>Do you have any advice for people who want to work in AI?</h3> <p><em>BC:</em> AI, not for the first time, is really hyped right now. This won’t last and people drawn into the hype are likely to be disappointed. I would say, ask yourself if you have a real passion for this type of work. If you do, then there are now lots of great online resources to help people learn. Two that leap to mind are Geoff Hinton’s Coursera course and Nando De Freitas’ Oxford lecture series, which is available on YouTube.</p> <p>It is quite a competitive area and so doing things like entering Kaggle contests, writing open source projects or doing an internship can help differentiate you from other candidates when it comes to job applications.</p> <p><em><strong>For more on data science, read <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68933-a-day-in-the-life-of-a-data-scientist-in-an-ai-company/">A Day in The Life of.. a data scientist in an AI company</a>.</strong></em></p> <p><em><strong>If you're looking for a new role in digital marketing, why not check out <a href="https://jobs.econsultancy.com/?cmpid=EconBlog">Econsutancy's jobs board</a>.</strong></em></p>