Is the Future of Bricks and Mortar ‘Dark’?

I’ve started articles like this for what feels like a lifetime but at the time of writing, the UK is still in lockdown and life as we knew it is locked up behind closed doors.

For those in retail and more importantly those that have traditional storefronts things are for want of a better word unknown. Even when we get out the other side of this who really knows what will happen to bricks and mortar retail. Some analysts are predicting a bounce back and others are saying it is the beginning of the end of what we once knew.

If we take a look at what has been happening over the last couple of weeks this uncertainty is further concerned. Planning applications for new shops have plummeted by 22% across England over the last 12 months and in some areas, it is as much as 94%.

Further to that online retail businesses have been on a buying spree, snapping up big household high street names taking them online and leaving behind empty shops. For Arcadia the number is 500, for Debenhams, it will eventually be 124.

This is going to leave a big hole in the retail footprint, and it could drive a knock-on effect for those stores surrounding the closures. The big question, what do we do with all this space and what could retailers do with the space they currently have. One possibility could be to turn them ‘dark’.

 

What do we mean by ‘dark’ retail?

This might be a new term to many, but it could be one that we all become very familiar with. ‘Dark’ retail or stores are essentially locations in places where traditional retail may have existed, but they’re not open to the public in the usual way.

The reason they exist is to support the online operation of the business, becoming local distribution hubs. By using them in this way you’re putting the product closer to the customer meaning that you can get it to them faster, in a more economical way whilst allowing the customer to shop in the way they choose too, online.

It also means that you can utilise staff converting them from serving customers face to face and dropping them into the fulfilment process. It allows for localisation of service taking the personal touch that one step further than most and in times of lockdown you’re not restricted to the same rules that have plagued retailers.

 

I’m interested, but does it work?

There are numerous examples of this taking place already. Crosstown Doughnuts is trialling it right now. They’re setting up the trials in Cambridge and Walthamstow and if successful they have plans to expand the delivery hub model to other areas within reach of central London, such as Oxford, Brighton, Richmond, Croydon, Chalk Farm and Chiswick.

The business has seen direct-to-consumer (d2c) online ordering revenues increase by 600% compared to 2019 and by creating a network of ‘dark’ retail locations they’re able to expand their 1-hour delivery to a much wider net of customers.

Amazon has a history of using this type of distribution in the USA, having taken over an unused mall in Akron, Ohio turning it into a fulfilment centre and they’re continuing to look at ways of using this model in locations where anchor tenants of malls no longer exist leaving vast retail spaces empty.

The key to making it work is being able to deliver on the promise and that means creating an infrastructure that can support this method of doing business.

 

Getting it to work for your business.

As Cegid Marketing Director of Retail Tania Oakey puts it “rapid acceleration has exposed the retailers across all sectors that were late in terms of the digital adoption and omnichannel strategies.

Capabilities such as click and collect and ‘ship from store’ are key but require sophisticated POS (point of sale) and OMS (retail order management systems) solutions to act as an anchor. Having a unified commerce solution, with a single view of your stock across the whole of the organisation, is key. Having that visibility to decide where best to pull stock from for your consumer is decreasing logistics and sales costs. Retailers can improve margins from three to 10 per cent.”

If you’re going to have the locations closer to the customer, the system needs to be able to figure out which location is closer, send the order to that location and get it out the door quickly. Without this, you’re not using the idea of ‘dark’ retail to its full potential.

 

So, is the future of retail ‘dark’?

It is hard to argue against this. Adoption may take time, but it is easy to see how savvy retailers could take advantage of this idea.

Decreasing sales and logistics cost whilst improving customer service levels and dependability is all good news. The reason services like JustEat and Deliveroo have done so well is that it gets the product to the end customer quickly. This is building a habit for the consumer and if you can do the same with your products, you’ll become an invaluable asset to their lives.

If this is an idea you’d like to explore for your business, Eclipse can help. We’ve got teams of commerce experts that understand the end-to-end process and what it takes to put this type of process in place.

We can help you discover what it could mean for your business and help consult and develop the strategy that will get you there. Just reach out and talk to us. We’re always here to help.


Here’s Why (and how) You Should be Using Shopping on Instagram

Unless you’ve been living in a cabin in the woods for the last 15 years you’ve probably heard of social media and you’ve almost certainly heard of Facebook and Instagram.

They’ve become part of our everyday lives and many have debated the virtues and sins of social media but ultimately people have adopted them and there is little doubt that they’re going anywhere in a hurry.

Instagram has more than 1 billion monthly active users and is now one of the most popular social networks worldwide. They along with the other social networks do everything they can to keep people on the platform and when they do leave, they do what they can to bring them back.

They’re also working harder to innovate all the time by introducing new features and enhancing the ones they have. The one we’re going to be talking about here is Instagram shopping.

 

Why are we talking about Instagram Shopping?

Instagram shopping was built specifically for eCommerce businesses and brands. Currently available to 44 countries across the world, it allows businesses to tag their products in the images they share significantly enhancing a user’s ability to discover new products through the platform.

It is incredibly easy to set up and simply requires the business to push their inventory to Facebook. After doing that it’ll take about 2 weeks for you to be able to toggle on Instagram shopping during the usual post creation and sharing process.

Some of the early adopters of the feature are reporting increased traffic and sales from Instagram as a result of the tagging capability. In fact, more than 800,000 shoppers use Instagram every month, and brands around the world are using the platform to share their stories and products with consumers in a visually engaging way.

 

What else you need to know about Instagram Shopping

Instagram is arguably the King of platforms when it comes to visual storytelling and it has held the crown for years.

For some brands, it has replaced what would have been full-page ads in those glossy fashion magazines of old. And now with the addition of Instagram shopping, they have taken it one step further allowing end-users to click straight through to the product on the website and buy it, on the platform.

With shoppable posts, customers have even greater opportunity to connect with the brands they love through the ability to quickly see relevant information — like product descriptions and pricing — with a single click without ever having to leave the Instagram app.

 

Image Credit: Instagram Business

The key to making that experience effortless is by having an eCommerce store that works seamlessly on mobile devices.

 

Mobile First Commerce

The shoppers habits are changing and more people are accessing the internet via a mobile device. Applications like Instagram are helping drive this change. In our webinar The Evolving Customer and their need for Mobile First Commerce we talked about this shift. In the clip below one of our Experience team, Lucy Aitken discusses the shift and offers real world examples that highlight the success possible when a conscious move in design thinking is made and websites start to think about Mobile First Commerce. This is vital to the success of Instagram Shopping. The shift from application to store needs to feel seamless and having a clunky site that struggles in mobile is going to discourage users and send them back in no time at all.

 

Not convinced yet?

When it comes to Instagram, eCommerce businesses for the most part always recommend the platform. Whether you are advertising, building an audience or both – Instagram has fuelled hundreds of thousands in sales.

Just check out some of these numbers that BigCommerce put together.

800M — Number of monthly active Instagram users.

500M — Number of daily active users

Increased from 400M to 500M since March 2017

5X — Instagram growth rate compared to overall social network usage in the U.S. (Source: Inc.)

25 — Percent more likely it is that Instagram users are in the top income quartile than average Internet users. (Source: GlobalWebIndex)

5M —  Number of active Instagram business profiles (Source: Facebook)

60 — Percent of people who say they discover new products on Instagram (Source: Instagram)

70 — Percent of users who follow a business on Instagram (Source: Instagram)

75 — Percent of users who take an action after seeing a business-post (i.e. visit a website, search, shop or tell a friend) (Source: Instagram)

500,000 — Instagram advertisers (Source: Facebook)

150M— Number of daily active Instagram Stories users just 5 months after launch (Source: Instagram)

33 — Percent of the most-viewed Instagram Stories that come from business accounts (Source: Instagram)

36 — Percent of B2C brands that consider Instagram to be “very important” or “critical” to their social media marketing, compared to 13% of B2B brands (Source: Inc.)

 

Ready to take advantage of this incredible feature?

There are a couple of things that you need to do to make sure that you can get the most out of Instagram shopping.

The first thing you need to do is make sure that your website is set up to give the best possible experience on mobile. Eclipse can help with that. Our Experience team are perfectly placed to tell you what will work and what needs fixing, and our development team can step in and help fix what needs to be fixed.

Once you’ve got that right, the next step is to head to this Instagram business page and follow the setup guide, take a look at the tips and then start promoting your products on Instagram. You’ll be glad you did.

And if you need to convince someone in your business this is the right thing to do, take a look at these results and case studies that BigCommerce put together. It should be everything you need to convince key stakeholders it is the right thing to do.


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Ecommerce Statistics You Need To Know In 2021

Last year changed the role of eCommerce in our lives forever and as we move into the second month of 2021, we’re still living in a world where for many, eCommerce is the only way to get what they need for their day to day lives.

Even after things start to return back to ‘normal’ there is little doubt that the role of eCommerce in our every day will be vital and for those who operate in the retail space, in any way, are going to become more dependent on it to remain successful.

We only have to look at the most recent acquisitions of both Debenhams and the hero brands of Arcadia including Top Shop, Top Man and Miss Selfridge by online-only businesses BooHoo and ASOS to see that the future for many is online.

But with most things, there is a need to stay at the leading edge of innovation and eCommerce is no different. Peoples buying habits are changing and the shifts mean that what was once a great digital storefront my start to develop ‘issues’ for shoppers and it is the job of the retailer to know the market and innovate to keep its customers coming back.

Some of these changes might be minor and other might need a little more work but to be able to know which are the areas you should be looking it first you need to know how the habits are shifting.

In that vein, we’ve pulled together some of the insights we’ve discovered that we think you need to know in 2021. These will help you in planning your strategy for this year and once you’ve got a good idea of what you need to do, we’re here to help. Just reach out to us and we can work together to drive continued success for your business.

Click on the image of the eBook below and give it a read.


Are you putting ‘Digital Excellence’ high on your list of priorities?

Are you putting ‘Digital Excellence’ high on your list of priorities?

Just so we’re clear, you absolutely should be. Among many things that retailers need to put at the top if their list, digital excellence has very quickly become one of the highest and is certainly non-negotiable.

In an article written by Noel Wurst and published on Total Retail, he says that Digital Excellence “enables your online visitors to be delighted by how easily they were able to accomplish a task or complete a transaction on your website and/or application.” He goes on to explain that “The term is highly subjective due to the endless number of tasks that your customers or potential customers may come to your website expecting to be able to accomplish. Maybe they’re just looking for pricing or sizing information. Maybe they need to track an existing order or chat with support. Maybe you need to make sure they know about a new promotional discount, rewards program, or payment options. Today’s successful retailers are making sure their online properties leave their customers impressed enough to return, and to encourage others in their personal and social networks to do the same.”

At Eclipse we could not agree more. We’ve been talking about this for years and have built a team of experts whose very job it is to make this happen for our clients. It is so important to us that we believe any change, adaption or optimisation made to your website or strategy should be considered from the point of view of the customer first and foremost. If it doesn’t make it an easier and more enjoyable experience for them, why are you doing it?

The importance of getting this stuff right just can’t be overestimated. As we find ourselves still in a national lockdown with retail shuttered and little choice but to head online, customers are doing just that. And as you would imagine, the world is their oyster and the options they have when it comes to spending money are seemingly endless. What makes them spend the money, return to purchase again and even head to social to refer the business, is their experience.

 

Understanding the customer expectation.

We’re a fickle bunch whose patience has gotten shorter and expectations have gotten bigger. Whether we’re retailers or just straight up customers we all buy things and we all have the same standards when it comes down to it.

As Wurst puts it “Every time we interact with a website or application, we expect the world. No matter what browser we’re using, or what tablet or mobile device is in our hands, we expect to be able to find exactly what we’re looking for, that images will render beautifully, that pages will load, payments will process quickly, and that we can quickly get on our way. And, thanks to plenty of companies that are currently delivering digital excellence, we expect every company to do the same.”

And if you think you’re somehow excluded from this requirement, you’re not. “Whether we’re online to purchase nails and screws, adorable cupcakes, or a high-end sports car, our expectations are the same. No retailer is spared from this requirement to delight us, as consumers, in every interaction.” Wurst points out. “The retailers achieving the most success today understand the importance of not just meeting these expectations but exceeding them.”

 

What is the risk of ignoring Digital Excellence?

As you’d probably imagine low conversion rates, lack of return visits, low revenue generation from the website are just as few, but Wurst has an interesting take on the ultimate risk and we tend to agree with his assessment.

“I would argue that it’s the threat of a loss of trust that best summarizes the importance of what we’re talking about here. We don’t tend to befriend, recommend, share our personal data with, or conduct business with organizations we don’t trust.”

He adds “And as much as it might seem like slow-loading pages, crashed websites, missing images, and broken buttons are everyday occurrences, there are innovative technologies out there that eliminate these threats — and the threat of lost market share that comes with them.”

 

Here’s how to mitigate the risk

As we mentioned before, this is an area that Eclipse is an expert in. We’ve been doing it a long time and we’ve worked with some very big names in the world of retail and continue to do so.

We’re using the technologies that Wurst talked about and combining it with our years of experience to offer our clients an unparalleled level of insight, support and optimisation in this space. All you need to do is decide how important it is to you and the future of your business and if you think we’ll be able to help.

Come talk to us, it costs nothing, and we can talk you through what we’ve done for businesses like yours. Together we can develop a plan to get you delivering Digital Excellence every time and then you can decide if you would like some help putting it into action.


Man sitting at laptop

What Does 2021 Have Instore For Retail

In an article released by IGD last week they highlighted key trends they thought would ‘shape global retail in 2021’ and having had a look through them, we tend to agree.

‘Driving online profitability, creating safe shopping spaces, and bringing the out-of-home experience in-home’ were among them and in this post, we’re going to take a closer look at some of them identified as ‘stand out’ for businesses to focus on this year.

 

System upgrade: digitally enhancing operations

The pandemic created an acceleration of the shift toward a digitally focused economy and 2021 is set to continue this shift. As Head of Innovation and Futures at IGD, Toby Pickard put it “The pandemic has accelerated retailers and shoppers’ digital awareness and capabilities. Numerous companies have been testing and learning from new digital initiatives, and in 2021 companies will need to move beyond this to improve and implement at scale. Digital transformation will require new leadership and a fresh cultural mindset as companies create flexible and agile ways of working.”

Embracing this change and adapting to it is what is required of businesses in 2021. IGD broke the 3 areas within this trend down to:

  • Introduction of digital technologies that have a low capital investment and are easy to update
  • Partnerships with third-party technology providers to speed up new tech introduction
  • More use of machine learning and artificial intelligence at store level to drive revenue and increase customer satisfaction

 

Escalating ecommerce: driving online and profitability

Every single person has been in the crosshairs of this during 2020 and now even into 2021. Lockdown followed by lockdown has left retailers and shoppers alike with very little option but to venture into the world of shopping online. Multiple reports have indicated that the shift towards shopping online has been brought forward by at least five years.

When looking at this trend specifically Toby Pickard said: “With many shoppers using the channel for their large weekly shop, we have seen retailers focus on enhancing the pickup, or click and collect, experience to help improve profitability. This has included adding more collection slots, expanding order staging areas and parking bays and ensuring a contactless experience. While the initial surge is receding, online penetration is expected to remain at a higher level, compared to pre-crisis.”

We see this happening across all of retail, not just the food industry. Having the capability to allow for click and collect my just be the thing that helps bricks and mortar stores survive. People will inevitably continue to lean on online first as a way to discover new products but having an option to either have it delivered or collected in a store may give you what you need to stand out amongst your competitors.

IGD broke the 3 areas within this trend down to:

  • Retailers seeking to reduce their overall operating costs to accommodate online, improving processes and automation
  • Encouraging shoppers towards click and collect
  • Retailers assessing the options for rapid delivery, for example the same day or in a few hours

 

Holistic health: supporting health and wellness

The pandemic has brought home the seriousness of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and it is easy to see why this is going to be a trend that grows in 2021.

Eco-concise retail was a big trend in 2020 and the desire to reduce your impact on the environment was a lifestyle that started to gain traction. 2021 sees this go one step further and consumers are looking inward at what they need to do for themselves, as well as keeping their carbon footprint at the forefront of their decisions.

As Toby Pickard puts it “Health and wellness naturally became more important to everyone in 2020. We saw a wide range of activities from retailers as they aimed to encourage healthier lifestyles. We will see more retailers educating, informing and rewarding shoppers for living healthier lives. Companies will look to champion both their health and sustainability credentials, as the two key trends merge, of their existing and new products. Personal health will increase in importance, but ultimately affordability may take precedence during economic downturns.”

Bringing these credentials to the front of what you do and creating content that talks to the consumers wants and needs will help you build relationships not only with existing customers but will open you up to a new audience.

IGD broke the 3 areas within this trend down to:

  • Greater focus from shoppers on hygiene and sanitation products for individuals and the home
  • Retailers and brands trying to differentiate themselves by helping shoppers and consumers live healthier lives
  • More tailored solutions in-store, either through assistants or using digital tools like apps

 

Recuperative retail: focusing on sustainability

Climate change has been on the radar for years and years and it continues to be at the top of a lot of peoples lists. When commenting on sustainability, Toby Pickard said: “Climate change will remain a top priority in 2021, as it is recognised as the most likely source of major future disruption. While there will be much focus on how sustainability supports the climate change and resilience agendas, we will also see initiatives to build trust and loyalty with shoppers.”

Showing customers how you’re doing your bit as a business to fight climate change will inevitably help you build trust and for customers that have this as a high priority as part of their purchase decision, you’re appealing directly to their core values.

IGD broke the 3 areas within this trend down to:

  • With climate change remaining a top priority, we expect retailers globally to push ahead with initiatives to support goals in this area
  • Continued implementation globally of initiatives to reduce plastic and food waste
  • Initiatives to build trust, loyalty and better relationships with shoppers, staff and communities

 

Knowing how and where you can use these trends as part of your strategy in 2021 will help define what your success may look like during the year.

At Eclipse we have teams of experts that work on Customer Experience and Strategy and we can help you shape these trends for your business. All it takes is for you to reach out to us and we can start looking at how we can help you ensure success in 2021.

If you want to take a closer look at the release from IGD, you can head over here to check it out.


Woman on laptop

Getting Online Will Benefit Your Business For Today And Into The Future.

As we find ourselves staring into another national lockdown, retailers are again throwing their hands in the air with frustration. No one can doubt the need for the lockdown but as a business owner whose livelihood is reliant on being able to open the front door of their store to the high street, it is not good news.

For some, there may on the surface appear to be no answer to the trouble they are facing but although the pandemic has caused disastrous changes to the world of retail, the changes have been a long time coming. Bricks and mortar retail has been facing decline for several years as people have slowly started the shift toward online shopping. The pandemic has brought this forward by about 5 years, leaving many ill-prepared for the change, but it was a change that has been coming for a while.

The good news is that there is still time to do something about it and prepare not only for now but for the coming future of retail that by all accounts is going to be fundamentally shifted toward being online. The benefits are wide-reaching and for many businesses, the sole reason they have been able to survive up till now is a direct result of their being able to continue to sell online and whilst able, to give customers the option to click and collect.

Here are some of the benefits as we see them and we’re sure, you’ll agree that building a digital home for your business will be an important step in securing the future of the business.

 

  1. Lower overall running costs that also won’t add huge dependencies to the bottom line

By comparison and in most cases, running an online store will cost far less to set up and operate than your traditional brick-and-mortar locations.

There are obviously still costs involved. Website hosting, website domain ownership, digital marketing, payment solutions and potential platform fees (if selling through a platform like Shopify, Etsy or Ebay). You’ll also want to outsource things like website development as well as potentially brand creation, marketing strategy, photography, and copywriting, depending on the maturity of your business.

If your product or business is completely new to the market or this is your first foray into retail, starting out online is a great way to do some test trading in a relatively low-pressure environment, but it could also work as a pop-up for an existing business. Nothing is saying that you need to load your entire product set to a website to get started. Look at things that are new to market or are best sellers or even fall into the category of being able to be packed and shipped quickly.

And if you’re thinking that’s great but I can’t sell my products online, we would ask that you rethink that. If you think back not that many years at all, the idea of a butcher selling meat online or even the idea of buying your glasses online was inconceivable but there are many examples of businesses doing that very successfully. Heck, you can even buy a car totally online!

 

  1. You’ll be removing any kind of geographical limitation

Traditional bricks and mortar store that doesn’t sell any products online is extremely limited geographically. Even if the products are highly desirable and have a large marketing budget, they’ll can still only realistically attract customers from within a certain radius to the location of the store itself. By offering the products online, companies will benefit from being able to reach as wide a geographical area as they like – be that nationally or even globally!

And with the changes that Brexit have brought into the fold, several businesses have stopped shipping into the UK from Europe as a result of changes to requirements for VAT. There are likely businesses in the UK that can fill in the gap left by those businesses, people just need to know that you exist and being in the phone book, even in its new digital form, is not good enough.

 

  1. You’ll be able to be open for business when you like and for however long you like

Almost all online stores will involve totally automated order and payment processing, this enables customers to shop when it suits them. This makes online shopping the ultimate in convenience for both sellers and buyers.

Your customers benefit from being able to browse and shop whenever they like, and you as the business owner don’t have to drop everything to process purchases immediately, just like you’d have to do with a customer physically present in your store. Neither you nor the customer are committed to – or more importantly restricted by – set opening hours.

 

  1. The ultimate flexibility for updates, offers and changes

An online store can be updated as and when you like, at little to no expense, in most cases. Things like adding new product lines, reorganising your catalogue, or setting up a flash sale can be implemented straight away. Social and search pay-per-click campaigns can also be switched on and off in real-time with relative ease.

If you compare this type of activity to a physical shop, you’re most likely going to have to plan in advance for new product releases and sales events; sourcing in-store printed materials, making room on the shop floor to present your new or discounted products, and then there is the advertising, possibly using local publications. There’s a lot of moving parts to manage with a bricks-and-mortar shop, but with a lean, online store, you’re totally in control.

When used together, you’re able to get the offers up and running on the site whilst you’re preparing things in-store and when in lockdown, as we currently are, you’re able to be incredibly agile and compete with what competitors might be doing or even react to demand locally or nationally and capture opportunities as they’re happening.

 

  1. You’re getting access to incredible sets of analytics you might not have been able to capture before

Online stores (and indeed most websites) enable you to access a wealth of useful information. Things such as:

  • What times of the day/week/month your website is most popular?
  • How long people are spending on your website and how many pages they're visiting during their visit
  • Where your visits are coming from (e.g, search, social media, paid advertising, etc.)
  • Geographically where your site is most popular
  • Which products and pages are the most popular?
  • What times of the day/week/month you receive the most enquiries/orders
  • The types of device that people are using to visit your site (desktop, mobile or tablet)

You can also setup goals that will give you an indication of how effective elements of the website might be. For instance, creating a goal to see whenever someone clicks on a phone number or completes a contact form lets you know people are getting in touch and where they're doing it from.

This information can be used to enhance your marketing strategy and gives you a real picture of who your customers are. It enables you to target individuals with similar tastes and habits more efficiently, building your customer base and furthering your reach and even gives you information about your product set and open potential gaps you may have. Using tools like Google Analytics are invaluable to any company with a website – e-commerce or otherwise!

 

  1. Like we said before, there are virtually no limitations to what you can sell online

Regardless of what you specialise in, there is almost always a way to offer what you sell online. Whether you sell a physical product, virtual products like ebooks or music, courses, services, or consultancy, chances are there’s a way you can process orders and payments electronically, even if you need to physically deliver the service being sold.

The digital web presence will take the place of the in-store point of sale software, during the transaction phase and can even integrate with it so that it shares the information and stock levels meaning it can be managed in a single location. The type of product you sell should not be a barrier to creating an eCommerce website.

And if you sell something that can be automatically and digitally delivered like an ebook or online course, the added bonus is that you can leave it to work in the background with minimal input. These types of products are great for creating a reoccurring revenue stream for the business.

Another added benefit is the ability to create a subscription service much as Amazon has done with its subscribe and save. There are hundreds of examples where this is their primary business model and others like Gillette and Grind who have offered convenience to their customers by dropping products through their customer's letterboxes regularly and created a stream of revenue which has for all intense and purposes has been sold once via a concerted marketing effort and now continues to deliver revenue into the business, supplementing their other business activity.

In almost all cases, it is more cost-effective to sell to an existing customer than it is to try and acquire new ones. The website makes it easier for customers to manage their subscriptions and you can get on with working on your business.

 

  1. Do you sell a niche product? You should already be online.

If your product is in any way unconventional or niche, selling online may be the most effective way to do business and it will definitely support your existing bricks and mortar business. When people are looking for something unusual or specific, and to be perfectly honest nowadays almost anything at all, they look online first rather than by walking up and down a high street.

There is a strong possibility that certain niche products could overlap well with the needs of specialist communities which are already highly active online. Engaging with these groups in the place they ‘hang out’, pointing them in the right direction toward your digital shopfront, may prove beneficial when done correctly.

Hopefully, you can now see the overwhelming benefits that taking your business online can bring for you. It won’t be a silver bullet with a guarantee for success but ignoring it and choosing to ‘bury your head in the sand’ may just be a death nail.

 

We’re here to help

We’ve been building digital experiences for a long time and we pride ourselves on making them beautifully simple.

We unlock your trading potential, creating and supporting beautifully simple sites that are functionally rich and continually perform way above expectations.

Our clients enjoy seamless access to the best analysts, experts and technical resources in the sector. We’re proud of what we do and we’re incredibly good at it (and it’s not just us saying that).

Our Experience team works with clients every day to test their sites and work to create a better conversion rate for them.

We’ve got specialist teams that advise and then action Design, UX & UI for your digital storefront. We’ve also got geniuses to work with you on how to drive brand engagement, solicit positive sentiment, strengthen your content marketing, SEO & PPC.

Reach out to us and we can discuss how we can help you move with the shift change, maximise the opportunity and support you and help make sure that your business lives long into the future. No matter your size or specific industry vertical, our mission is to see you succeed.


2020 fridge magnets

Our Top 5 Posts from 2020

2020 is behind us and the new year has begun but we thought we'd take one last look back at our Top 5 posts from our blog. We wrote a lot of different kinds of articles over the year from opinion pieces on the industry to guides on how to get the most out of your digital store front with design and CRO and these 5 are the posts that users were drawn to and spent the most time with.

Here is our Top 5.

 

AR & Furniture Retail | A match made in heaven? We Think So.

Read Post

 

 

Is Magento a good choice to launch your first online store?

Read Post

 

 

 

The ROI of UX & why not investing in it is a huge problem for you.

Read Post 

 

 

What it a User Journey Map?

Read Post

 

 

 

Testing in testing times

Read Post

 

 

 

We hope you enjoyed our posts and insights in 2020 and that you'll be joining us again this years as we've got even more great stuff planned.


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2020 eCommerce Trends and Statistics

As we draw closer toward the end of 2020, I think we can all agree it was a year that could not be predicated and although it’s changed how we live, there is no doubt that we’d all like it to be left in the past as we move forward into 2021.

Without a doubt, eCommerce has been the winner of 2020 and has seen a massive rise in and according to some estimates, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated our shift away from physical stores to digital shopping by around five years.

For the last few years, we’ve been seeing more and more people shopping online anyway, but for a lot of businesses they saw a fundamental shift as a far-off future, something that didn’t necessarily need to be factored in right away. Now however, they're being forced to re-assess, and analyse their own approach to the eCommerce shift.

We’ve seen in the news what can happen when you underestimate or underdeliver in this space and the collapse of retail empires that were once the envy of everyone in retail is a startling reminder that the only constant is change, and that not heeding to the warning signs early is tantamount to signing your own death warrant.

The trick is learning from the past, looking into the future and ensuring that you’re as prepared as you can be. Another lesson is to never take success for granted.

In that vein, we’ve found this fantastic infographic put together by WebsiteBuilderExpert that looks at eCommerce trends and statistics from across 2020. Give it a read and use what you’ve read as a marker for your 2021 planning. The infographic has the highlights but they've also put together a full detail Ecommerce Guide that has even more awesome and incredibly useful information in it. If you're looking for a little more, head over and give it a read.

And if you need any help with your eCommerce strategy for 2021, Eclipse is here to help. We unlock your trading potential, creating and supporting beautifully simple sites that are functionally rich and continually perform way above expectations.

Our clients enjoy seamless access to the best analysts, experts and technical resources in the sector. We’re proud of what we do and we’re incredibly good at it (and it’s not just us saying that).

We’re here to support you and help make sure that your business lives long into the future. No matter your size or specific industry vertical, our mission is to see you succeed.


Inputting card details on keyboard

Are You Losing 44% of Your Customers Because You’re Offering the Wrong Payment Method?

There has been lots of talk this year about how e-commerce is booming as a result of Covid-19 and lockdown but having an online store is not a guarantee that you’ll keep making money. A focus on customer experience is needed and in particular online retailers are still falling short when it comes to the final stage of the online customer journey.

In recent findings by PPRO, 44% of UK consumers stop a purchase if their favourite payment method isn’t available. 58% of respondents agree they would stop a purchase if the checkout process is too complicated and 37% of UK consumers avoid using merchants that require repeat entry of payment credentials.

These report findings highlight the increasing and immediate need for online retailers to adapt to consumers’ payment preferences.

Here are some of the key insights from the research:

• Millennials we’re the least tolerant of complicated checkout processes, with 67% agreeing they would be quick to abandon their purchases.

• 51% of Generation Z respondents agreed they would avoid using retailers that require entering payment credentials every time.

• 30% of Baby Boomers and 25% of the Silent Generation expressed a preference to use merchants that offer one-click payments.

Although the older preferences seem to have more tolerance, it does not remove the need to seriously look at the payment methods and process that your online store is offering. You need to make sure it is quick, seamless and incredibly convenient.

Having said that and while convenience is clearly essential to consumers; retailers also need to accommodate the growing consumer awareness of information security. 59% of shoppers view the security of their data and money as most important when choosing a payment method.

When considering trust, 30% of UK consumers asked as part of the research admitted that they rarely adopt new payment methods and prefer to stay with the payment methods they know.

This is a considerable amount of UK consumers that aren’t prepared to veer away from their preferred payment methods when shopping online. As a retailer, you need to realise the importance of allowing your customers to make a purchase with their preferred payment methods.

If you’re not thinking about this now you run the risk of not only missing out on that single transaction but also losing a potentially loyal customer.

“With over 450 significant local payment methods in use across the globe, it can be a challenge for retailers to understand which ones to offer their customers. However, this research shows how crucial it is to offer the payment methods the customer prefers. It proves that the payment methods you offer can make a break or a sale. Currently, 91% of UK consumers have used debit and credit cards for online purchases. 89% also confidently use PayPal or have used it in the past. 31% are confident in using mobile wallets, such as Apple Pay and Google Pay, and the use of bank transfers has doubled in the last 3 years. There’s a surprising range merchants must consider at the payment page to improve conversion rates,” comments James Booth, VP Head of Partnerships, EMEA at PPRO.

“Retailers need to be aware that a slick user experience must extend to the point of purchase. A shop may have a personalised and easy-to-navigate website, but a shopper who isn’t satisfied with the payment methods available at the final stage will quickly move on to a competitor,” he added.

 

So, What Can You Do?

The first thing you need to do is talk to the experts. Those in the industry will have insights that can help you make the right decision. You might have your own customer feedback that gives you an idea of the types of payment options that are missing, but the experts will have access to information that can make the process easier.

It might seem like the best idea to just jump onto all the latest payment options available but understanding the cost of implementation, ownership and the potential use by your customers will give you an idea of ROI.

Striking the balance between offering preferred payment options for your customers and offering everything because you’re trying to cover all the bases is not as easy to figure out as you might think.

 

How Eclipse Can Help.

At Eclipse we’ve been building sites for and working with some of the biggest retailers in the UK for years. Our experts in customer experience work alongside businesses to enhance and optimise all the elements that customers come into contact with including the checkout process.

We can work with you to make sure your checkout process is performing seamlessly and designed to optimise conversion and then advise and potentially implement the payment options you need to be offering.

And as a partner of Adyen, the payment platform built for growth, we’re best placed to connect you with the right people in the industry.

Come talk to us and together we can help you optimise your checkout, offer the right payment options for your customers and get you access to that 44% of customers you might be losing.


Black Friday image

Preparing for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas

The last two months of the year tend to be the busiest for retail and this year should be no exception. The temptation of Black Friday and Cyber Monday bring out the bargain hunters and Christmas brings people together as we all lookout for the perfect gift for our significant others and our families.

This year things are going to be a little different what with being in the middle of the second lockdown and Black Friday and Cyber Monday falling right in it, people are turning to online, much like they have over the last few years but this time, there is no choice for alternatives.

Christmas might have the benefit of stores re-opening, assuming there are no adjustments to the lockdown, and with many people making it their highlight for 2020 the opportunity for online is huge. People have gotten used to the convenience of it and those wanting to avoid potential crowds after stores reopen will embrace it.

With this huge opportunity coming down the line there are things you need to do to ensure the most success and things that you could do to make the absolute most of every chance you get. It’s about being prepared and not leaving things to fate. We’ve pulled together a few areas for you to look at so that you can call yourself prepared.

 

Double and Triple Check Your Site Speed, Checkout Process and Scalability

When we’re talking about anything websites or the internet, a lack of speed will turn customers off. In fact, it has been found that 46% of shoppers have said they’ll never return to a slow website. You want to make sure that doesn’t happen to yours. You’ve done all that work to get them there, the last thing you want to do is send them packing because things don’t load or take too long. Using Google Developer PageSpeed Insights tool will give you a good idea of how things are loading and what you might need to do to fix it, if there is an issue.

You’ll also want to make sure your checkout process is as good as it can be. Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas shoppers are fickle. They have thousands of stores to select from and a limited amount of time. They will leave your store if your checkout isn’t running smoothly. This is an area often overlooked by site owners but when it comes to CRO or conversion rate optimisation it is an area that can offer a great uplift. Our Experience team have helped plenty of our clients do just this by analysing the checkout process and implementing changes that have driven huge revenue increases. Taking time to improve your checkout process will pay off for you with every customer post the changes taking place. For a quick win, you may consider adding extra payment options like Paypal. We have a partnership with Adyen who's payment services can allow a business to add things like Apple Pay and Google Pay incredibly easily. If this is something you'd like to look at in more detail, speak to us and we can give you an idea of how to build it into your development plans.

Scalability might be something that you’ve not heard of or it might be something you’ve never thought about, but it relates to your sites ability to handle increases of traffic during these busy times. Plenty of companies have been caught out during past Black Fridays, and when the first lockdown was put in place a lot of websites fell over and put people into queues or even served errors because they just couldn’t deal with the influx. To combat this, it all comes down to hosting. Being on a cloud platform allows you to leverage scalability and open and close gates as needed. Our DevOps team at Eclipse know all about this and have helped a lot of clients build-in backstops to ensure uptime when it counts. They’re happy to talk to anyone who needs a little more information on why this is important and how to use it to stay competitive.

 

Think About Enhancing the Experience For Your Customers

As we mentioned before, shoppers have the option of thousands of stores and when they’ve chosen you, you’ll want to make the experience for them as easy and enjoyable as possible.

Keep offers clear and highlight the reasons why customers should stay and shop with you. Extended returns periods, seasonal discounts, free delivery and exclusive products all give you something to shout about. So, do it.

But beyond that, think about how the products are sorted on the website. Do you have a sale section or gift finders? Is everything in a place that is easy to find and then filter by price or amount of discount? Does the site search work well so that when people use it they’re being shown an accurate reflection of what they’re looking for and what you have on offer? All these things make a massive difference to the shopping experience.

You’ll also want to put some thought into your upsell and cross-sell opportunities. These are great ways to highlight other products that may be of interest to your customers and also lift the average order value of your checkout basket. Do you sell products that have bundles of accessories that make them better or a range of products that offer more functionality the further up the price ladder you climb? Tell people! Things can be easily missed and if a customer looks at something and assumes it doesn’t do what they need it to, they may leave to look elsewhere but if you have an alternative that might fit their need, you need to highlight it. And when it comes to cross-selling, the old problem of batteries not included on Christmas morning come to mind. Don’t let people fall into a trap of missing an important add on purchase that could take their experience from great to troublesome.

If you really want to take your customer experience to the next level adding functionality like AR (Augmented Reality) to your website really steps you apart and gives customers an experience like never before. It gives them the ability to bring your products into their home, try them in their space or even on themselves. It reduces your return rate and gives people assurance that what they’re looking at online will be what they receive. Our AR solution, Ares, is a total end to end solution for adding AR to your website and we can help you implement it with ease.

 

Getting People to Your Site

Having your site up and fully optimised is vital but just as important is going to be letting people know what you’ve got on offer, so they’ll head over and visit you.

Using Social Media is a great way to do this. If you’ve built up a loyal following they’ll be keeping an eye out to see what you have on offer but using paid social promotion and ads on platforms like Facebook and Instagram will help you reach out to a target market that you may not have been in front of before. The audience-building options in these platforms are great when you have a set of buyer personas in mind. The trick is to widen it enough to reach a good amount of people but not to have it so broad that you’re putting offers in front of people that are likely to be uninterested.

Make sure you use good imagery to highlight products in their best light and add well-written descriptions including details about discounts, features and any other information that you think gets you to stand out from the competition. Video works incredibly well too, and it gives you a chance to highlight products from different angles or even show products being used. One of the most effective formats when it comes to ads on Facebook and Instagram are carousel. These give you a chance to add 4 or 5 different products or even features of a single product in a single location that is easily scrollable.

To help drive more engagement on your organic posts, especially those on Instagram look for hashtags that are getting high levels of use. Adding these to your posts can help it be seen. People will be following hashtags such as #blackfriday or #offers. In our own experience, we’ve seen high levels of engagement on Twitter and Instagram when the right hashtags have been used. Getting these right can give your posts a turbo boost.

To further support this kind of activity, look at creating blog posts that pull together lists. List posts get high levels of engagement and things like ‘Our Top 10 Black Friday Deals’ or ’20 Gifts for the Man Who Has Everything’ will get people clicking. Just make sure that the blogs are backed up with great contact that clicks out to the individual products you’ve highlighted.

Another powerful tactic here is the use of reviews and word of mouth. People buy from people and having real honest reviews that can be shared on social media will give buyer confidence in you and your products, but the key here is that they’re REAL and not paid for reviews. There has been a lot in the news recently about fake paid for reviews and people are being told to look out for them. It is an unethical practice and something that you should not engage in any way but having real customer reviews or testimonials in the forms of images, videos, quotes or third party reviews like from TrustPilot or Google Reviews helps build trust.

 

Come Talk to Us

Hopefully, you’ve found these tips helpful and you’ll be able to use them to drive an increase in business over this sale and holiday period. If you’ve got questions about anything you’ve read, or you’d like to take advantage of any of these tips and you’re not sure where to start Eclipse is here to help. Reach out to us and we can work with you to make sure you can maximise every opportunity that lays ahead of you.