Are you Confusing Customer Experience with Customer Service?

Customer service and customer experience are two terms that are constantly getting thrown around in business, but do you know exactly what they mean? The phrases are often used interchangeably and, in some cases, thought to be the same thing, but in reality, they are different.

To try and put it simply, customer service is one part of the overall customer experience.

Customer experience is the journey a customer takes with your brand, from gaining initial awareness to post-purchase care and support. Customer service, on the other hand, refers to a single instance when a customer reaches out for help and support during this journey.

What is important to understand is that both are equally as important when it comes to the success of your business. You can’t do one well without the other, which is why it’s so important to understand what they are and how they are different.

 

The Customer Experience

Like we said up above, the customer experience, often abbreviated to CX, is the entire journey a customer takes with your business. It is one of the things that allows you to stand out from your competitors and make you and your brand shine. And for a lot of customers, it can make or break their chances of buying from you again or referring you to their friends, family or extended networks on social media.

It’s so important that from a survey SuperOffice ran with business professionals they discovered that customers spend 140% more and remain loyal for up to 6 years when they rate a company highly for customer experience.

‍Customer experience always involves all the different customer interaction points you have on offer. It covers things like your website and your eCommerce store, your social media channels, any kind of live or video chatyou might offer, and even your in-store experience (if you have storefronts).

The key to creating an awesome customer experience, which is something we should all be trying to do, is to make sure all the different points where a customer interacts with your brand are linked up, easy to use and offer the same level of attentiveness and care. Making things seamless and convenient will pay for itself countless times over.

Offering the ability for customers to jump between channels like from your social media to your website to onto live chat, as part of an omnichannel customer experience is vital.

 

Customer Service

Where it might be hard to come up with an example of customer experience, we can all come up with an example of customer service, be that good or bad, pretty quickly.

Like we mentioned up above, customer service a single instance when a customer reaches out for help and support during their journey, be that at the beginning, middle, end or even post-purchase.

And because customer service makes up one part of the customer experience, providing good customer service is essential to providing a good overall customer experience.

Getting this wrong can be an expensive mistake. Consumers are 2 times more likely to share their bad customer service experiences than their good ones and 82% of customers have ceased business with a company because of poor customer service.

And if you think you have it right, it is always best to triple check that you have. In a survey undertaken by Bain & Company, they found that 80% of companies say they deliver “superior” customer service. When the same question is asked to customers, only 8% of people think these same companies are really delivering.

So, what can you do to get these two right?

Although they’re part of the same journey, the tactics are a little different. The biggest thing to note is that for the most part, customer experience is proactive and customer service is reactive.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared to deliver the best possible customer service at any given time by having processes in place and being timely with responses.

The one thing I can tell you from personal experience is that no communication is way worse than communication that sends the update that there is no update. People hate being left in the dark and letting them know that someone is thinking about or doing something to resolve their issue is worth its weight in that proverbial gold.

We’ve found a few tips that will help you not only develop a great customer experience but tie in customer service and make them both shine.

 

Develop a relationship mindset, not just a transactional one.

You want to be creating relationships with your customers and not look at things as a series of separate interactions that just happen to take place.

This means keeping track of what they’re doing with you and tools like Zendesk and Hootsuite can work well together and bring everything into a single place and when linked with customer purchasing and browsing history you can create a solid profile of who your customers are and the types of experiences that resonate with them.

 

Follow the data and the money will follow.

And following on nicely from that is another great tip. Customer experience is strategic, not tactical, you need to know where the value is coming from, and where you’re throwing good money after bad.

If you know what makes your existing customers both tick and run away, you can optimise to do more of what they like and less of what they hate without the need to just rely on instinct.

Invest in good data with things like user testing, A/B testing and keeping a record as we mentioned above and you’ll for sure get better and what you do.

 

Close the loop between customer service and customer experience and learn from it.

Customer service shouldn’t be a dead-end or an island unto itself. Develop feedback loops between customer service and other key departments. Every single customer service interaction is an opportunity to learn and improve and do better.

If you’re just sticking the information somewhere and patting yourself on the back for a job well done, you’re literally hiding gold. Don’t do that. Share it around and find ways to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

 

Need some help with either?

If you’ve read this and gone ‘that’s great but where do I start?’ you’re bound to not be the only one.

The answer is to come talk to us. We have a team of experts in our Experience team that do this stuff for a living, and they love nothing more than being able to share their wisdom with others.

When you reach out to us, we can have a chat about your goals or frustrations and make a plan to fix them, achieve them or absolutely smash them out of the park. Just know we’re here when you need us.


Tips for Creating Interview Videos for your Business

We’ve been somewhat limited with our ability to interview people in person during the pandemic resulting in many creating videos with Zoom or Microsoft teams which can limit production quality, but as we come out the other side, we’re going to be allowed to get a little more creative.

I’ve had a fair amount of experience doing this and although these tips are angled a little more toward setting up interviews with clients for testimonials or maybe with external thought leaders, they can just as easily be applied to videos you create for internal purposes.

What we’re talking about here is what is referred to as a ‘talking head’ video. These are interview-style videos that traditionally have a focus on the person speaking to the camera and will have a background that is either a plain colour or maybe an office setting that is blurred out a little.

To start with let’s take a look at the equipment you’ll want to get your hands on.

 

 The Tools to Get the Job Done.

 

 The Camera

Things have moved along a lot in this area and to be honest, anyone with a decent smartphone is now equipped with a camera that can produce a great video.

I’ve always been an advocate of the iPhone but what you really want to make sure of is that it has a great lens on it (or maybe a couple if you’re using a newer smartphone) and that it can record in HD. Ideally, it’ll also have a large memory capacity as recording in HD can take up a ton of space.

Alternatively, if you’ve got access to a DSLR, you’ll be able to capture footage with a little more control over the quality of the capture, primarily down to the fact that you can switch out the lenses on them.

The quality of the lens can have a massive change on the output and in most cases is more important than the camera is it being attached to. We could write an entire article just on lenses but what you need to remember is cheap glass could result in cheap results.

You want to try and achieve ‘Bokeh’ in the shot. This is the blurry background we talked about earlier in this piece. Our pick would be to go with a 50mm or an 85mm lens. Once you’re in front of the camera these lenses will bring you closer and push the background out. If you can’t get access to a prime lens, a lens that gives you the ability to move between them can achieve the same thing. Something like a 24-105mm is ideal.

This picture is a great example of bokeh. The background is blurred and you can see it is working by the light appearing a little orbs.

 

Lighting

More important than the camera is the lighting. You could have the best camera in the world but if it is in a poorly lit room, your result will look awful.

If you’re doing a quick shoot and can get into daylight, you can achieve a pretty good result, but you need to remember that natural daylight moves and changes. The longer the shoot takes, the more likely there are to be differences in the footage you shoot, giving you an editing nightmare.

If you can, get into an environment where you have total control of the lighting. This will help to maintain a constant look.

Now, when it comes to picking lights, you’ll want to make an investment in them. My personal setup includes 4 portable lights with tripods that give me the ability to move them around the subject and add light where it is needed.

I have two backlit LCD panels that give me control not only with being able to dim them but also adjust the colour temperature too. This can help add and remove warmth from the footage you shoot. This is what stops people either looking orange from too much warmth or dead from too much cool light.

The other two lights are RGB lights which can again, dim when needed and adjust warmth but they can also change to just about any colour you can think of. This is great for adding a touch of style to the background and can also be used as a fill light when needed.

Positioning the lights and getting the brightness and colour right will take a little time and you’ll want to have the camera set up the entire time you’re doing the setup so you can see what it’ll look like.

Starting with a 3-point light setup is a good way to go. This article gives you a little insight into what that looks like.

This is an example of the 3-point lighting setup

 

Sound

If you’ve got the lighting right and the camera capturing it well it should look awesome but just as important is how it sounds.

The camera and the phone will have a microphone in them, but it can pick up a lot of background noise and echo if the room is busy, big, filled with hard surfaces or is near an area of high traffic like a hallway or a window near a busy road.

Investing in a microphone that can be mounted to the camera is a good start. They tend to be directional and should minimise the sound bleed and instead focus on the person it is being pointed at.

Even better but less useful if you’re interviewing multiple people is a lapel mic. These are close position mics that will shut out background noise and only pick up the person speak. They make a huge difference. They are pretty cheap and worth investing in as it tends to be the one I go for when I am talking to only one person. I also have an on-camera mic for larger groups.

Essentially you need to get a mic. Without it, the sound is going to be pretty bad, and people are not going to stay tuned if the video is hard to listen to.

With these 3 things in place, you’re in a good position to get something put together. The next few tips are on capturing the footage and editing it to look great.

 

Putting the Pieces Together

 

Filming the Interview

You’ve got the camera, lighting and sound rocking, now it is time to film the interview. You’re either going to be doing this with a person behind the camera asking questions and the person in front answering them in a pretty natural way or the person in front of the camera has a script and they’re delivering it directly.

If it is the first one, the person answering the questions should try to not look directly down the camera. It can come off as an interrogation video if they do. Ideally, they should forget the camera is even there. The latter should be looking at the camera as essentially the conversation is direct with the person watching the video.

Keep the camera running. Having lead in and out footage is always handy when it comes to editing. You can always scrap the stuff you don’t use but you can’t get back the stuff you didn’t record.

You also want to try and keep the footage as clean as possible. What I mean by this is making sure that you have a long stretch of footage without mistakes. If they make a mistake, stop them and let them breathe and then go back to the start point and try again.

It is not easy to get this right the first time but make sure they at the very least go back to the start of a full sentence. Editing midway through a train of thought is impossible to hide. People move and blink and if you crop cut between two pieces of footage it will create a jump cut. This is where the footage obviously moves in front of the eye.

This style of editing has become more and more popular due to the rise of YouTubers but personally, when it comes to business videos, you want to try and keep them to a minimum.

 

Capture ‘B’ Roll

B roll is the technical term for all the supplementary footage you record. If you’ve spent time watching these styles of video, the B roll tends to be the shots of the office or people working. It could even be stock footage used to move the story forward.

You want to have this because it can be used to fill in space around the interview or could be used to switch out to and leave the voice footage from the interview playing. It comes in very handy when you have a jump cut, you’re trying to hide too.

The trick here is to just record as much as you can. Again, you can never have too much of this type of footage.

 

Editing it all together

This is the final step in the process and really is where it comes together and starts to form the final piece. Our advice here is to work toward some kind of story. If you can create an outline to edit toward it will make it easier.

Any story has a beginning, middle and end so having it laid out allows you to make sure that the video is following a logical path and is moving toward a structured outcome.

Start long-form and get everything you want rather than trying to fit a time limit. This creates your directors cut that can then be cut down into various other formats.

When it comes to editing tools there are a bunch out there but I use either Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere but if you’ve got access to a Mac it’ll have iMovie on it for free and it’ll do a grand job. iMovie also has apps for the iPad and the iPhone so there are plenty of ways to get a good edit done.

 

Final Thoughts

People love video content and there is no better time to give it a go. If this all sounds like a lot of work (and it can be) you could always hire a professional. If you do, this article should work well as a guide to making sure you’re asking the right questions and putting together a brief that gets you the video you want.

And if you do hire a professional take note of what they’re doing. Marketing teams need to be getting too grips with this type of content, it is going to be more and more important in the future.

If you've got any specific questions that you think I might be able to answer for you, you can always drop me a question using the contact form on the website. Just select other as the service and make sure you drop my name into the message and it'll get straight to me.


Building a Business People Trust

Trust is one of those things that often gets forgotten about. Businesses can get carried away with the brand, offer and messaging and just assume that as a result of their first impression or grandiose ambitions trust is implied and everyone just gets it.

The truth of the matter is that trust is something that needs to be built and worked on. It is no different to a relationship that two people have with each other when they’re dating. Trust is not given over lightly, and it can be very easily broken.

If you look back over the years, there are plenty of examples of businesses that have competed with each other and the reason one fell flat is partly down to trust. Leaving it to chance will almost always result in it not developing.

Marcos Aguiar, a Digital Trust Advisor, did a recent Ted Talk on this topic and through the years of his experience and research, he had been able to isolate the 7 things he sees as the tools that will help leaders design a foundation of trust into their business ecosystem to help achieve long term success.

Watch the Ted talk below and see how you stack up against the 7 tools Marcos and the team at BCG discovered. And if you’re looking for a little more insight into the research, you can check out their blog, ‘Building Trust In Business Ecosystems’.

 

7 Tools For Building a Business People Trust

 

 

If you need a little help with working on these elements of building trust into your business strategy, Eclipse is here to help. We have a team of business consultants and strategists that understand how to help you discover what makes your customers tick and can work with you to develop an experience that will help you build trust. Reach out to us and we can have a chat.


Convenience Is Key For Customer Satisfaction.

When it comes to shopping we’re all looking for the quickest, easiest way to get what we want when we want it, however, we want it. In other terms, we are looking for the most convenient way to get the stuff we need.

When it gets a little too hard or barriers are put in the way of what we’re trying to achieve, we go somewhere else.

To achieve this always-on, effortless mindset that consumers have, retailers need to adapt to and embrace Total Commerce. This means as you might have guessed from the opening gambit, meeting the customers wherever they want to shop and, on the terms, they want to purchase. This might sound like a huge task but you can go some way to offering this without ‘selling the farm’.

In some latest research by the team at Linnworks, they found how convenience is more important than ever to time-pushed consumers, and how those retailers that get the customer experience right, will win the sale every time.

During the last year and a bit, necessity has meant that consumers needed to switch to online shopping just to keep getting access to the things they needed, and they did this in droves. The pandemic accelerated the shift that was already happening, and some won’t now shift back, with three in four consumers saying they will be shopping online more after the pandemic than before, discovered in the research conducted by Linnworks.

It’s a big change and even though some retailers seem to have taken it in their stride better than others, they all need to understand both what’s caused the behaviour change and what they need to do to keep up with it.

For nearly three-quarters of consumers, the major factor that drives their desire to shop online more is convenience. Although it has been the only solution for a while now, online retail has always offered an easy solution for many consumers that juggle working from home or at the office and that have to deal with schooling and childcare. Customers have appreciated its benefits. Benefits that all consumers dealing with the pandemic discovered when they had their hand forced as a result of lockdown. And, as a result, that desire for convenience still reigns supreme today and will continue to be a key decision factor when it comes to deciding to make a purchase.

 

Convenience is King

Linnworks research, titled ‘The Effortless Economy: A New Age of Retail’, surveyed 1,000 consumers in the UK and US to understand the change in consumer behaviour. It overwhelmingly indicated that effortless experience was what people wanted, with convenience a top priority when choosing a retailer for more than three-quarters of consumers.

What’s important to take note of here is that it is beginning to outweigh other purchasing decision factors too. Nearly half of consumers say they are now more influenced by convenience than price and a similar amount will sacrifice cost savings for convenience. It’s not only appreciated but increasingly expected – it’s become a lever that can be used as a unique selling point.

And it’s been confirmed by other research too. The National Research Federation found that 97% of shoppers have abandoned a purchase over a lack of convenience and 83% say that convenience is more important to them when online shopping than five years ago.

 

That’s all great but what does convenience actually mean?

All the research indicates that consumers may be putting convenience at the top of the list but what does that mean for retailers, and what do they need to do? The research found a few key things, that almost all retailers can do something about, came out on top.

Firstly, the ability for a guest checkout and to shop across different channels and devices, with as little disruption to the customer journey as possible. Then came easy shipping, with the ability for shipping details to be remembered for future purchases.

This all goes back to what we talked about at the beginning. We all want fast, easy, totally seamless shopping experiences, wherever we are in the buyer’s journey. If we don’t get it, guess what. We will go elsewhere.

The Linnworks research uncovered that two in three consumers have abandoned purchases because they found sites too complicated, and more than half have walked away from retailers entirely. These are figures you need to take note of. If you ignore them, they will hit you right where it hurts most, your bank account.

 

Here’s what you need to do

 

  • Understand how customers shop and make it easier for them to do it in multiple ways

Your brand and shopping experience must be delivered on whatever channel the buyer is on. That means making it as easy and pain-free as possible. Different parts of a purchase journey will most likely be completed on different devices. Linnworks research showed that 81% of customers are looking for a frictionless, cross-device eCommerce experience and that more than half (51%) have abandoned a purchase because they were forced to start the process again when they switched devices.

And when it comes to shopping your social, if you get it right, you’re likely to pick up new customers. The research found that 35% of people have already purchased through social and that 27% more are open to the idea.

One of the key numbers in the research around social is that 71% of those who shop on social would rather complete the purchase on social than be sent to the retailers’ website. This fundamentally changes what most are doing when they choose to advertise on social. Integration with Facebook and Instagram shopping is becoming core to your social selling strategy.

 

  • Offer multiple payment options and make them easy to use

Convenience within payment is about seamless and flexible payment options, with nine out of ten shoppers saying it helps speed up their decision making and prompts them to spend more. This means going beyond just accepting credit cards and into options like PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay and as some businesses are starting to offer, accepting cryptocurrency.

A guest checkout option, wanted by 56% of people, allows an even speedier path to purchase. It’s the consumer’s biggest ask.

Consumers are also embracing new, more flexible, convenient payment options, such as buy now pay later. These services are growing 39% a year and nearly four in five shoppers expect brands to offer this as standard, especially on everyday items such as clothing, and around a quarter of consumers have already used it or plan to.

 

  • Offer delivery and return options that the consumer wants

The importance of delivery on customer loyalty can’t be overestimated. A massive 95% of consumers say that convenient delivery options are a major factor in their choice of an online retailer.

Offer next day delivery and click and collect options are rated highly for convenience. Customers want similar convenience when it comes to returns, with nearly nine in ten (89%) saying they don’t want customer services involved with returns, with 87% expecting a pre-paid return label and almost half (47%) saying they are more likely to shop with brands that offer self-service returns.

But this could be taken one step further. Offering the ability to arrange exchanges through your site whereupon new items are sent out when the originals are returned and processed removes the need to wait for refunds to be processed and keeps shoppers with you, rather than looking somewhere else.

 

  • Understand the role of the marketplace

Even though cross-device functionality, guest checkouts and easy shipping topped what consumers looked for when it came to convenience, there is a fourth thing retailers must consider as they strive to deliver convenience – that is the role of third-party solutions such as the marketplaces.

The convenience of online marketplaces, where consumers can shop a wide range of products from a variety of retailers on one platform means it’s a popular channel, with 91% starting their purchase journeys on marketplaces.

But it can be a double-edged sword for many. Yes, they’re convenient but they can also be overwhelming. Nearly half of consumers have abandoned marketplaces because there were too many options, and more than three-quarters (76%) say they would prefer to shop on a branded site or directly if such brands were able to match the convenience of online marketplaces.

This presents a huge opportunity for retailers to deliver a customer experience that keeps shoppers coming back to them directly, bringing the benefits of increased margins and customer shopping data.

 

Final Thoughts

Retailers today need to focus on and win at the idea of delivering an effortless experience by providing a seamless omnichannel journey and a second to none customer experience. We can’t afford for any part of our business to work in isolation and to not be easy and convenient for the consumer to shop.

You’ll find more on the research that Linnworks conducted by downloading their whitepaper on their site. It’s a great read and gives valuable insight that will drive your strategy for 2021 and into the future as you strive to offer the convenience that consumers are looking for.

And if you're looking for someone to help you work these ideas into your eCommerce strategy and enhance your customer experience, come talk to us. We have teams of experts that can help you in the the areas that Linnworks highlighted in their research.


Understanding the Ecommerce Life Cycle is Vital to Your Business Strategy

Businesses are not one-size-fits-all. The same cannot be said for the eCommerce strategy life cycle. To succeed, you must understand the importance of adapting your eCommerce strategy to each phase in its life cycle.

In the beginning phases of a business's life, their focus is usually on gaining traction and recognition. Once they have done this, their next goal will be reaching more customers by expanding into new markets or finding innovative ways to increase revenue.

But before we get too far into the life cycle itself, it is important to understand that your eCommerce strategy should evolve throughout its life cycle. The different phases of the life cycle are filled with ups and downs, trying times, and successes. Each phase may require drastic changes to stay afloat and make progress.

It's hard enough running a business but if you do not adapt as necessary during each phase of the eCommerce strategy life cycle, you will find yourself floundering or even worse - out of business altogether. Coming to terms with the fact that change is inevitable and required to continue to grow and adapt is a fundamental starting point and getting used to the idea of change will make the planning easier, allowing you to adapt the strategy to each phase of the eCommerce life cycle.

Now back to the life cycle itself. At Eclipse we've done a bunch of research and distilled it down to three phases, which are an adaption and amalgamation of the lifecycle growth phases for all businesses and align to what we’ve seen for eCommerce companies, as they move along their journeys. These are:

 

Phase 1 – Launch to market & rapid growth

Phase 2 – Slowing growth

Phase 3 – Renewed growth

 

Each phase may take vastly different amounts of time and within each phase, you may have multiple versions of your strategies to align to outward forces such as the economy shifting and unprecedented situations like the Covid-19 pandemic we've all been facing. The goal is to understand where you are and what you need to do to achieve the next phase.

 

Phase 1. Launch to market & rapid growth

Almost all new eCommerce businesses will be subject to an early period of rapid and in some cases unanticipated growth. This is usually due to the popularity of the product being sold or market demand rather than the implementation of their eCommerce platforms.

Many businesses will choose a platform from a group of the most popular for start-ups such as BigCommerce, Shopify or Adobe Magento Commerce. It’s important that your business stays agile and responds quickly to change but also think a little to the future and builds in the ability to grow with the chosen platform and not create a handbrake for yourself.

The phase is filled with experimentation and making adjustments to stay afloat. If you're in this phase, your company is most likely a start-up or experiencing fast growth. However, you may be a long-established 'traditional' business, but that experience won't always equate to eCommerce success. This venture should be treated as a start-up and with that mindset, you'll be prepared for the fluctuating environment and need to adapt quickly.

Often times it's necessary to pivot, completely change your product offering or adopt a new customer experience methodology to stay on top of trends within eCommerce. Sometimes these changes are drastic and take time, but they must be made if you want success later on down the line.

You don’t want to get too deep into creating overly complex processes. You and your business could take advantage of this quick impact in this early phase, before you start to see your growth slow, being restricted by an unseen force. This sees you moving into the second phase of the eCommerce lifecycle, slowing growth.

 

Your Strategy in Phase 1.

When it comes to developing the strategy in this phase it is about building brand profile, experimenting with the way you sell your product, working toward building a unique customer experience, working to build trust with customers developing them into brand ambassadors.

This is the time for experimentation. Mistakes can be easily forgiven at this phase and you need to use them to learn as much as you can.

 

Phase 2. Slowing growth

Many businesses reaching this second phase of the eCommerce lifecycle head straight for panic and look for quick-fix solutions to perceived issues. It's important to understand that it’s natural for there to be a levelling off of growth after the early spike.

All growth has to slow down eventually. You need to figure out how you’re going to stop it from turning into decline and have a conversation with your customers about what you plan on doing next.

Your business will have made inroads in your market space, people are starting to recognise your brand and are hopefully sharing it with others. It’s time to reflect on your progress. Now it is time to go through an evaluate your earned data and gather insights so that you can start to implement well thought out and deliberate enhancements to your eCommerce store and your marketing efforts. This may be through user research, implementation of conversion rate optimisation programmes for your eCommerce store and looking to use the loyalty you have developed from your customers through referral programmes.

It’s important for you as a business owner to assign plentiful time and resources to research. None of this time will be wasted and it is the best way to figure out what is required to reach the next level and start growing again.

 

Your Strategy in Phase 2.

You'll want to maintain the work great work you've done with your original strategy's that have gotten you to this point and it is now time to 'grow up’ and mature the operation.

As we've mentioned above it is about analysis and making measured movements but staying true to what got you to where you are in the first place. It's moving beyond just going by your gut and backing it up with real-world data that can be the difference between luck and deliberate success.

 

Phase 3. Renewed growth

Business owners think that the solution to the issue of slowing growth is a quick fix or a huge swing and change of direction, which could be a new eCommerce platform, the recruitment of an in-house specialist or throwing a huge budget at risky and potentially untested advertising paths. This is not necessarily thinking strategically.

A shift of platform might indeed be the answer – perhaps to a more advanced or modern eCommerce platform, but you need to make a clear business case before deciding to migrate platforms. It is never as quick, easy or perhaps as cheap as you might think it is.

The challenge is how to kick start the renewed growth and come out fighting, which means creating an action plan beforehand and implementing this carefully – considering both product range and marketing strategies, along with customer service or financial decisions.

In this third phase of the eCommerce lifecycle, it is so important that any and all attempts to reinvigorate your company’s momentum and growth should always be strategic.

 

Your Strategy in Phase 3.

A solution to slowing growth will most likely require realigning your business goals with changing customer trends, keeping up to date with new technology and channel strategies. It will need you to double down on the initiatives first started in phase 2.

Research and analysis are required to optimise processes and improve the customer experience. This will steer your strategy. This means more user testing on the customer experience, further optimisation of your conversion mechanics to make sure that you're taking advantage of every visitor and continuing to spread the message of what makes you different and what customers should pick you.

Research may reveal issues and you could find you need to re-platform, but there needs to be comprehensive analysis behind decisions to implement technology and tools.

 

Putting it into action

Getting to know these phases of the eCommerce lifecycle is key for your strategic planning and will help you visualise your brand’s growth as a recurring process, identify critical questions to ask at each phase and understand why an agile approach to eCommerce strategy is so vital to lasting success. This eCommerce process deters you from attempting to solve issues with quick fixes and quick wins, instead focusing on regularly revisiting and refreshing your eCommerce strategy for long-term success.


Conversational Commerce : The Next Big Thing?

Ecommerce is awesome. It is incredibly convenient and during the global pandemic we've been through and in most cases are still living in, it has been our lifeline to the outside world and allowed us to still get access to the products we needed in a safe and secure way. But shopping is about more than just what you buy: it's a treasure hunt to discover something new, a negotiation to get a great deal, a time to catch up with friends and family. This is the one thing that businesses are still trying to solve for ecommerce. It's the customer and 'in-store' experience we want to emulate.

Many see online shopping as an experience that can be impersonal and somewhat unsatisfactory as an event. Is there a way to bring back the magic?

In this Ted talk we found, Nimisha Jain introduces us to "conversational commerce," a new retail model that combines the convenience of a digital experience with the personalised touch of a real, human interaction. With exciting examples from companies in India, Thailand and China, there are lesson to be learnt that could change the face of ecommerce as we know it and introduce a new era to us all.

 


Influencer Marketing: You need to start thinking Nano.

Influencer marketing has been incredibly successful for a lot of brands and it is often added into the mix when thinking about putting together a marketing strategy.

However, the mistake in the planning comes when brands think too big. We’d all love for a huge Instagram star with millions and millions of followers to work with our brands but let’s get real. The cost can be anything from £10,000 + per post for smaller mega influencers and when it comes to celebrities, you could be looking at £100,000 + and it is not unheard of for it to be up to £1,000,000.

You should be considering the value of those with smaller, but more engaged, communities, who can also help connect you with the people who are increasingly more likely to buy from your brand.

These smaller-scale influencers, referred to as 'micro' & 'nano' influencers, can be highly valuable to your businesses, despite their smaller audience size.

 

Think Local

If you spend a little time looking for a local nano-influencer with give or take around 1,000 followers, but all of them are local business owners & shoppers, it can have a significantly larger impact on your promotion than a broader reaching campaign.

To provide a little context and offer some food for thought, the team from Planoly recently put together this infographic on nano-influencers and the potential benefits of this form of outreach. Give it a look and maybe the time to think small and local is right now.

 


Looking for a little Inspiration? Here you go…

We all need a little inspiration at times, and it is amazing how reading a book or watching a video can spark a drive in us that we thought had either left for good or was on the verge of packing its boxes.

Stopping during the workweek for a moment of reflection or some time for self-development and to learn something new is vital. If we don’t stop and look up every so often, burn out is a real risk. And with working from home still firmly part of our routines, burn out is more common and on the rise.

To help you find that inspiration we’ve dug deep into our go-to webinars, podcasts, YouTube channels and books and pulled out a few of the favourites that we thought would be great to share. Take a look at them below and share them with others you think would benefit from them.

 

Events & Webinars

 Product School

Founded in 2014, Product School is the global leader in Product Management training with a community of over one million product professionals.

Their instructors are senior-level Product Managers working at top Silicon Valley companies including Google, Facebook, Netflix, Airbnb, PayPal, Uber, and Amazon.

With live online courses starting every month, it’s easy to find an option that fits your schedule. Classes are held in the evenings or on weekends to ensure that both instructors and students can maintain their full-time jobs.

What we love is their collection of events advertised on their Eventbrite channel. They’re all free and cover a huge range of topics and have some excellent speakers joining them. The events range between webinars, live chats and fireside chats and there is something for everyone. Go check them out and register for the ones that pique your interest.

 

 Harvard Business Review

Little introduction is required for these guys. If you’ve ever done a Google search looking for something business-related there is a good chance that Harvard Business Review has popped up.

Harvard Business Publishing (HBP) was founded in 1994 as a not-for-profit, wholly-owned subsidiary of Harvard University, reporting to Harvard Business School. Their mission is to improve the practice of management in a changing world. This mission influences how they approach what they do there and what they believe is important.

Along with the great articles on their site they have a section for webinars both upcoming that you’ll be able to register for and a collection of past webinars that you can watch as and when you’d like.

They’ve got content that covers topics on Organisational Culture, Management, Leadership and People and even things like Supply Chains. As you’d expect from the publisher these are well put together and have insights from some of the best thought leaders out there. Head over and give it a look, you’ll never know what you’ll find that might spark that inspiration for you.

 

 

Podcasts

 Business Wars

Ever wondered why one company seems to smash it whilst their nearest rival just can’t make any headway? Well, wonder no more.

As Business Wars puts it “Netflix vs. HBO. Nike vs. Adidas. Business is war. Sometimes the prize is your wallet or your attention. Sometimes, it’s just the fun of beating the other guy. The outcome of these battles shapes what we buy and how we live.”

“Business Wars gives you the unauthorized, real story of what drives these companies and their leaders, inventors, investors and executives to new heights -- or to ruin. Hosted by David Brown, former anchor of Marketplace. From Wondery, the network behind Dirty John and American History Tellers.”

Available on several different channels including Spotify and Apple Podcasts finding it is easy. Subscribe so you never miss an episode and head into the back catalogue to find some episodes to start with.

 

 How I built this

Started all the way back in 2016, Guy Raz has turned How I built this into one of the most respected and listened to podcasts out there. He has spoken to some of the most influential people behind some of the biggest brands and continues to do so.

If you’d like to know what it took to build brands like Instagram, Patagonia, Warby Parker, Lyft, Toms and WeWork – this is the podcast for you.

As NPR puts it “Guy Raz dives into the stories behind some of the world's best-known companies. How I Built This weaves a narrative journey about innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists—and the movements they built.”

Again, you’ll find How I built this available on a bunch of different channels including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts. Go give it a listen, it really is an excellent way to spend some time away from the job at hand.

 

 

YouTube Channels

 CreativeMorningsHQ

CreativeMornings is the world’s largest face-to-face creative community — a global breakfast lecture series serving local creative communities in over 200 cities.

Started in 2008 by Tina Roth Eisenberg, she wanted an easy way for her New York creative community to come together, regularly. CreativeMornings events are free of charge and always will be. Powered by the generosity of over 200 hosts and 1,500 volunteers, events happen monthly typically featuring an inspiring talk and breakfast. The CreativeMornings team is headquartered in Brooklyn, NY.

Accessed either via their YouTube Channel or on their website directly they have a collection of over 9000 CreativeMorning talks for you to dive into.

And whilst you’re on the site you can take a look at the upcoming virtual events you can attend too. This is one you’ll definitely want to check out. The topics are wide-reaching and you’ll no doubt find inspiration spread across them.

 

 Fast Company

Fast Company is the world's leading progressive business media brand, with a unique editorial focus on innovation in technology, ethonomics (ethical economics), leadership, and design.

Their YouTube channel is packed with Fast Break videos. Short snippets on a vast range of topics that get to the heart of the subject they’re covering. Similar to the types of videos you’ll see on the Vox YouTube channel, Fast Company has a more business slanted outlook to their content and by keeping them short you’re able to fit in some different topics whilst you’re taking a breather or grabbing a cup of coffee.

If you’re looking for more from Fast Company, you can head to their website and check out the video section or even their podcast section. You’ll find more long play content that created to the same high standard.

The one thing you can be assured of is a lot of content covering a ton of different topics in a variety of different formats. This is one you’ll want to add to your weekly catchup list.

 

 

Books

 Good to Great: Why some companies make the leap and others don’t by Jim Collins

Good to Great is one of the best management-related business books written, and it’s a timeless classic. While originally written by world-renowned author, Stanford researcher and consultant, Jim C. Collins back in 2001, his highly actionable advice and fascinating case studies still stand the test of time in this book.

In Good to Great, Collins describes how companies transition from being just good companies into truly great companies that shakeup entire industries for the better—and the reasons behind why most companies fail to ever make that transition happen.

This business book is a mega-bestseller, having sold over four million copies (so far) and goes to great length to break down the factors that are common to the world’s few companies that have been able to sustain remarkable success for a substantial period. Simply put, this is a must-read.

 

 Start with Why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action by Simon Sinek

Start with Why grew out of a TED talk delivered by the author, Simon Sinek, which has become the third most popular TED Talk ever.

It’s built around the question, “Why are some people and organisations more innovative, more influential and more profitable than others?” This business book’s basic premise is that the leaders who have had the greatest influence, act and communicate in the same way—which is the opposite of how most people function.

Sinek calls this idea, “The Golden Circle,” and it all begins with the question, “Why?” Interestingly, the reviews for this business book are very polarizing. Readers either love it or hate it. I love it. The harshest reactions and reviews seem to come from readers who have difficulty viewing themselves objectively, taking in critical feedback and translating it into positive changes in leadership. It’s much easier to blindly continue on down the same path.

I’ve worked with businesses around the world and in my experience, the most successful are those that understand ‘The Golden Circle’ and know what to do with it. One of the businesses I worked with literally lived and breathed the idea and it formed the core principle for why we did everything we did. Needless to say, we were the most successful provider of what we did not only in the cities we were located in but across the country too. Again, this is another must-read, in my opinion.

 

Hopefully, you’ll find some inspiration with one of these suggestions and it’ll help you stop, reflect, self-develop and reduce the risk of burnout.


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.


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.