Live Commerce: Innovation or Evolution?

You may have heard the buzz around this new channel that is making waves in commerce but for those of us old enough to remember the height of the home shopping networks being broadcast on our TV, it might sound very familiar. Is Live Commerce a remarkable innovation or an evolution of a somewhat tried and tested method?

 

What exactly is Live Commerce?

To put it into its simplest terms, Live Commerce is the blending of live entertainment with instant purchasing broadcast via a digital channel. I know what you’re thinking, this sounds very familiar.

To give the concept a bit of a back story, Alibaba launched Taobao (which translates to ‘searching for treasures’ in Chinese) in 2016. This self-described ‘super app’ is a one-stop-shop for more than 800 million Chinese consumers and is China’s biggest online shopping destination. It boasts listings of over 2 billion products and services from originally designed clothing to branded products and even fresh agricultural produce.

The platform is used for everything, and that is not an overstatement. People are buying products, ordering food, and even booking flights all in this single app and all this data is giving them the power to create hyper-personalised journeys.

Where it moved away from the standard marketplace or eCommerce experience was with the introduction of live streaming. They embedded the purchasing journey right into the live stream so whilst people are watching the product demonstration or show, they can explore and shop without leaving the entertainment behind.

 

Innovation or Evolution?

Those familiar with the home shopping networks of old will see the similarities very quickly. Ok, the tech used is somewhat old hat now, but the concept is the same. People like Joan Rivers built brand empires selling things like jewellery in almost the same way using the latest tech available at the time.  We tuned in to watch the show, asked questions, placed orders over the phone, and felt connected to the hosts and guests.

Where Live Commerce is the evolution is that it is putting it in a place that people use now. The days of spending hours in front of the TV are over. The innovation is the removal of the need to use multiple devices and the almost endless number of streams that people can tune into concurrently.

The old way tied us to a schedule that often-meant spending hours waiting for the show to come around and the hope that we didn’t miss it. eCommerce gave us the ability to buy what we want when we wanted it. Live Commerce is merging the two things and creating an experience that is innovative in its delivery but very much an evolution of an experience we know worked.

 

Does it work?

To put it into a succinct statement, yes it works. In the first 30 minutes of the 2020 Alibaba’s Singles’ Day presale campaign, Taobao Live generated $7.5 billion in total transaction value. And Tommy Hilfiger has extended their live program to Europe and North America after one of their shows in China is reported to have attracted 14 million viewers and sold 1,300 hoodies in two minutes.

But as with all things, it’s not just as easy as whacking up a Livestream and waiting for the money to roll in. Most of the success for those examples is due to the platforms being used and the marketing effort attached to promoting them.

The key to success is putting it into a place where people are already engaging, are open to a shopping experience and the experience that is offered is convenient and easy to accomplish.

 

Should you be doing it?

Based on the information at hand today it is hard to say if it will work for every type of product. The largest success has been in apparel and fashion, beauty, and consumer electronics. Interestingly if you think back to the types of products often sold through the home shopping networks like QVC, the match is almost like for like.

Other things to consider alongside does your product fit are things like, are your customers or those of your buyer personas using the platforms where Live Commerce is the most successful. Starting the process and getting Live Commerce up and running is not a cheap exercise so making sure that it is something your customers are likely to engage with is important.

Are you willing to invest the time and money not only into the technology required to make it a success but, in the marketing, required to drive awareness, engagement and ultimately the purchases? These are things that need to be kept in the mix when considering if it is a channel to use.

If your answer to those questions is yes, you might just have found a new way to deliver not only an increase in sales but also the opportunity to create incredible digital customer experiences.

Keep an eye out for the next Live Commerce blog where we’ll explore a little more about how to go about setting it up, the best format to choose and the steps to take it from small beginnings to a major sales channel.


Visual Commerce: What it is and why it’s important

It’s hard to deny that we live in a visual world where the way a thing looks can and almost always will have a huge impact on how it is perceived. This goes for the front of a store or a house, often referred to as curb appeal, to what we see on social media platforms like Instagram. For an influencer image is everything.

Where the commerce bit comes into play has been hyper-relevant during the pandemic and as habits shift are becoming more and more important for any business that operates at kind of presence online.

It is essential where buyers may not or cannot have a chance to visit a brick-and-mortar store or handle products in person. They become entirely reliant on visuals and the days of just pictures are over.

 

Visual Commerce in a nutshell

It essentially involves using visual content, front and centre, for marketing, branding and sales purposes. It is core to the strategy for helping customers learn about products and create connections with the brand.

It includes way more than just product images. For it to sing, it needs to include high-resolution photography, videos, and augmented reality.

By adopting visual commerce you’re aiming to dramatically enhance the customer experience by offering more than just ‘regular’ visuals they’re either expecting or coming across when dealing with other retailers.

 

Here’s why customers love it

There are a bunch of reasons why customers gravitate toward visual commerce and here are just a few.

 

Drives Engagement & Purchases:

As mentioned before people are drawn toward things that look good or are interactive. Having compelling visuals attracts customers and encourages them to engage.

It only takes 13 milliseconds for the human brain to process an image, which is 60,000 times faster than text and it only takes 50 milliseconds for someone to form an opinion about what they’ve seen, like your website. If you’re trying to get information across images is a great way to do it.

And when we look at how it is shared, images produce 650% higher engagement than text-only, and they achieve an interaction rate of 87% compared to 4% or less for things that are text or links only.

When it comes to AR, 71% of shoppers said they would shop more often if they could use AR, 61% said they would choose to shop with stores that have AR over those without it and 72% of shoppers that used AR in their shopping journey said they purchased stuff they didn’t plan to buy, simply because of using AR.

 

Discovery and Education

Visual content is key to discovery and education for customers. Video tutorials can help solve problems, answer questions and drive desire whilst AR allows people to get closer to products that ordinarily can’t be picked up or seen in person.

And we’ve all been subject to that moment when we’re scrolling through Instagram and something makes us stop or even scroll back down to take a second look. That is the power of visuals and their ability to create a discovery moment.

70% of B2B buyers watch videos during the purchase process and 4 x as many consumers watch videos about a product rather than read about it. Generally, people are 85% more likely to buy a product after watching a product video and when it comes to AR, 77% of users said they use it to see product differences such as possible variations of colour and style and 65% use it to find out more information about a product.

 

So, what could it look like for you?

There are plenty of ways that it can be implemented using great images, video, and AR and of course, combining multiples into a single experience. This tends to be the case for the companies that are doing it well. Here are just a few examples that show it in action.

 

Configurators

These are becoming more and more popular with companies that offer products that can be ordered in customised configurations. A lot of car manufactures have adopted more advanced versions of these, but they can apply to just about any product where customisation or choice is part of the ordering process.

Tesla has a great example of a configurator at work. They have for the most part encouraged potential new owners to order their new cars online and as such have created a fantastic clean experience.

But they’re amongst great company. Manufacturers like BMW, Mercedes Benz, Porsche and Alfa Romeo all offer some kind of builder on their websites and the best combine it with a 360-product model, matched to the configuration so that people can experience the car from all angles.

 

 

Another company doing it well is Steelcase. Their range of home and office furniture is fantastic, and they offer the ability to match the accessories and finishing to match needs and interiors.

 

 

Again, combining the option of either 2D or 3D gives people the chance to interact further with the product during the ordering process.

 

Augmented Reality or AR

AR is a technology for many that is still somewhat unknown or misunderstood. The result of the pandemic and the popularity of games such as Pokemon Go has really driven interest from consumers and awareness from manufacturers and sellers.

There are plenty of companies already making great use of this technology by taking the 360-product models that others are using and allowing users to bring it into their homes or create try-on solutions.

One of those is Etsy. They rolled out the ability via their app to allow shoppers to try pictures for sale, in their homes, via AR.

 

 

Having this as an option means no more measuring tapes and trying to figure out if the picture will fit in the space you have. You can literally see it on the wall before you buy it. This is a great example of what AR can do to drive interaction and remove doubt from buyers’ minds.

Virtual try-on is another place where AR is really making strides. Be it a watch, shoes or sunglasses giving people the chance to get up close to products without the need to have to deal with shipping and returns is great not only for the customer as it is a lot more convenient, but businesses can save on the logistics and the environment benefits from not having to have extra parcels on the road that are essentially just going to do a great big loop.

One of those offering this service is Monc. They offer several of their sunglasses models as virtual try-ons from their website when using a mobile device. It allows a person to see what the glasses will look like on their face with an incredibly high level of accuracy, adapting to lighting and movement but they also offer the ability to see the glasses in 360 so that you can get up close with the detail of the product.

 

 

Video

When it comes to creating an incredible experience with exceptional video it is hard to beat Apple. It is so well incorporated into the total visual commerce experience that you can be forgiven for not even realising that you’re consuming video whilst navigating their website.

Every element where value can be enhanced using video, it has been implemented. They use it to tell stories and demonstrate features and functions teaching the users how to use their products as part of the product discovery process.

 

 

Another example of great use of video as part of the buying experience is being done by PrettyLittleThings. They use video in the form of catwalk videos. These show the clothes on real people moving and turning around in the items you’re looking at giving them a real sense of what they’ll be like to wear.

 

 

Most people are aware of the tricks of the trade when it comes to photography and by using video you remove any doubt that photoshop has been used to make the clothes look like they fit better than or that they have been size adjusted on the model with pins and clips to make them look better.

During our research, we came across entire threads on the internet where people were sharing links to sites that have this catwalk video option because they refused to shop with people online who did not have that option open to them.

 

360 Images

We have talked about this as part of configurators and within AR but they have a use in their own right. Giving people the option to view products, especially big ones, from all angles helps with decision making.

Heals have implemented this for their furniture and most notably with their sofas. When you load the product page, it is the first image you’re greeted with and it encourages you to drag the product around and take a look at it from all angles.

 

 

So, what are you waiting for?

We hope that we’ve been able to demonstrate the value that visual commerce has when it comes to creating incredible experiences and that more and more businesses will see that the longer, they take to adopt some of these tools and methods, the further behind their more forward-thinking competitors they’ll fall.

These things are not nice to have, they are expectations of the consumer and avoiding them is done at your own peril. It’s not too late to push forward and create memorable experiences people want to share.

And the good news is that if you’re serious about it and need help making it a reality, Eclipse can do just that. Come talk to us and let’s create more personalised experiences for your customers that genuinely make a difference.


Our Top 5 Most Read Posts in 2021

2021 is finally over and the new year has begun bringing with it the hope of normality and a return to life amongst our friends, family and work colleagues but we thought we'd take one last look back at our Top 5 Most Read Posts on our blog during 2021. Some of them date from earlier than last year and this highlights the value of great content.

We wrote a fair amount 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 through design and CRO and these 5 are the posts that our readers shared, engaged with and spent the most time with.

Here are the Top 5.

Convenience is Key for Customer Satisfaction

Read Post


The Good And Bad of Microcopy

The Good and Bad of Microcopy

Read Post


Person shopping on phone

Understanding the Buyers Journey and Why it is Important

Read Post


What will it take to Survive the Future of Retail

Read Post


6 Ways to find out what your Customers think about You.

Read Post

 

We hope you enjoyed all our posts and insights in 2021 and that you'll be joining us again this years as we've got even more great stuff planned.


5 Ways AR Can Improve Customers' Shopping Experience

Thanks to the various innovations in smartphones, laptops, and tablets, augmented reality or AR technology is more accessible nowadays compared to before. Sadly, only a few businesses recognise the benefits of augmented reality in retail. There is still that misconception that only certain industries, such as aviation, military, medical, and video gaming, can truly benefit from AR. As a result, not a lot of retailers are willing to invest in the technology.

Nonetheless, customers’ demands usually change alongside technology. With every innovation, consumers expect that you provide them with the best experience that technology would allow. In fact, 40% of industry leaders believe that immersive technologies such as augmented reality in businesses will become mainstream in the next two years. This is due to the increase in demands for such technology from the consumers.

 

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality is a type of immersive technology that allows people to overlay digital augmentation on real-life environments. A great example of this is the game Pokemon Go! where players can see 3D representations of different Pokemons intermingling with their real-life surroundings through their smartphone or tablet cameras. 

Some marketers also use this type of technology to advertise their brands. This is especially true in countries such as Japan and China who are pioneering consumer augmented reality. In fact, a survey by Worldpay showed that 95% of Chinese consumers have used AR and VR technology in the past months. 

Augmented reality is different from virtual reality. With AR, you can only have a live view of digital elements using your device’s camera. Whereas virtual reality or VR provides you with complete immersion into a digital space. In short, AR brings the digital into a real-life setting while VR brings you to a digital setting. An example of VR is the gaming device called Oculus Rift.

 

Why will Retailers need it?

The COVID-19 pandemic left a lasting impact on retail businesses around the globe. The various quarantine and lockdown protocols forced many stores to shut down temporarily—or even permanently. Others, on the other hand, turned to ecommerce to sustain their operations. As a result, many retail business owners are reevaluating the future of their bricks-and-mortar stores

As AR technology becomes more accessible, the retail sector started recognizing its usefulness. In fact, some big businesses in retail are gradually picking it up. IKEA, for example, has developed an app called The Place App which allows customers to use AR technology to visualize how the furniture would look in their home. Another big brand is Apple, which used augmented reality to bring their physical retail stores to their consumers’ home to showcase their products.

 

How can AR improve Shopping Experience?

 

1. Boosts Customer Engagement

Some think that digital shopping can never truly replace the experience of shopping in physical stores. It lacks the same dynamic and exciting atmosphere often found in brick-and-mortar shops. Instead, it subjects shoppers to just scroll through their screens and click on the items they want to purchase. This can get boring and tedious in the long run. Fortunately, this is where augmented reality in retail and its impact on sales come in.

AR technology can level up your customers’ digital shopping experience by providing them with more ways to interact with your products. This gives them more reason to stay longer on your platform and explore what your brand has to offer.

For example, instead of the usual monotonous scrolling and clicking, AR can add an option, allowing your customers to “try” the item before they buy it. This is especially useful for clothing and accessories retailers since it will allow their customers to see how a specific outfit or accessory would look like on them. 

Not only is it useful in digital shopping, but you can also incorporate augmented reality in your physical stores as well. This creates a unique experience for your shoppers which, in turn, can pipe their interest on your brand.

 

2. Showcases Products Better

Consumers tend to want to get a closer look on an item before they buy it. But with digital shopping, your customers can no longer do that. As a result, they tend to dither longer on their decision. Worse, they would eventually abandon the item in their cart instead. 

Remove any doubts from their minds by allowing them to get a closer look on the product even without needing to go to your physical store. Through AR, your customers can view the product in its actual dimensions, size, and specification. They can even use AR to manipulate the product, turning it sideways or around. 

This technology is also useful for retailers that sell fragile products. Instead of displaying the product itself, you can use augmented reality to allow your customers to interact with the product without the risk of breaking it.  

AR also allows you to think outside the box when it comes to advertising your product.

 

3. Gives Customers a Sense of Ownership

More than showcasing your product, AR can also give your customers a sense of ownership over your product—even if it is only temporarily. With augmented reality, they can “try on” an outfit and see how it would look on them. They can also place an augmentation of a furniture inside their house to see how it would fit into their interior design. Doing so gives your customers the illusion of actually possessing the product. 

This is something that shoppers cannot usually do with an actual product. There are often limits to how much a customer can handle or interact with an object for sale especially when it is something expensive or fragile. But with augmented reality, your customers can temporarily have the product inside their house or in their hands. Such momentary taste of ownership can encourage them to buy the product in the process. Hence, this is one way augmented reality increases sales.

 

4. Provides Convenient Alternative to Consumers

Traveling to a store just to check out a certain product can sometimes be a hassle. Some customers might even decide to push back their plans of purchasing the product just because of the distance between the retail store and their house. Fortunately, augmented reality can provide customers a convenient alternative to shop without having to get out of the house. It brings the store to them instead.

 

5. Improves Self-Service Support

Augmented reality is also a great way to improve self-service support especially when your product has malfunctions or faults. Instead of having to go through customer service staff, your customers can use AR to help them resolve the issue or understand how the product works.

For example, augmented reality can overlay the manual of the product while the customer tries to assemble it. You can also use AR as a virtual assistant, explaining to customers the different functionality of your products.

 

Retail in the future

With the rising popularity of online shopping, the future of AR in retail seems bright. It won’t be long before more retail businesses recognise its benefits and how it can revolutionise the shopping experience for their consumers.

Moreover, AR isn’t the only innovative technology you should look out for. New technologies are always around the corner. So it would be best that you always keep an eye out for what tools you can use to improve your services to your customers. This applies not only to technology but to innovative strategies, models, and principles of business management as well. So if you are thinking, “what degree should I do?”, consider keeping an open mind on taking up a business course.  


Best Practice for eCommerce in Google Search.

There is little doubt that online shopping is growing, and it is becoming the first place to start a shopping journey but one of the biggest challenges is being found by customers.

Growth Intelligence found that in the 4 months between February and June of 2020, 85,000 new businesses launched online either by setting up their own store or by joining a marketplace. That is a lot of new competition.

Growth Intelligence Research Extract

But there are ways to put yourself ahead. About 48% of online shopping journeys start with a search engine and in the UK, over 87% of search is performed with Google. Understanding how eCommerce sites gain visibility on Google search is vital. Thankfully, Google has just released a new set of best practices for exactly that.

 

Best Practices for eCommerce in Google Search

Google Search Central has released new guidelines for developers to help improve search visibility for e-commerce sites. Although aimed at the developers, we advise that if you own or operate an eCommerce store, you should know and understand these new guidelines.

“When you share your e-commerce data and site structure with Google, Google can more easily find and parse your content, which allows your content to show up in Google Search and other Google surfaces. This can help shoppers find your site and products.” We talked a little about this in our previous blog, but these guidelines go further than just the merchant centre.

 

The Guide is Made Up of Seven Sections

There is a ton of great information contained within each of these sections and we can’t recommend spending a little time looking over and understanding them and how they impact your business and what you’re doing right now.

 

Key Thing To Note

One of the things we think you should take note of within these practices is that Google is more than just the traditional SERP (Search Engine Results Page). The way people search for information depends on where they are and what they’re currently looking for. Make sure that you’re doing everything you can to appear within places like Google Images, Google Maps, and Google Shopping. And make sure you’ve claimed your Google My Business Listing.

Another is making sure that you’re sharing your data with Google. The more they have the easier it will be for them to understand who you are, what you sell and how best to put you in front of your potential customers. So, if you aren’t using the Google Merchant Centre, make sure you start.

And one of the handiest sections is on structured data. It explains how Google uses the information to place people into highlighted sections like How To’s. Because it is run with machine learning, it is looking for things to appear on a page. If you add them in and do it in the way the algorithm is looking for them, you have a much higher chance of being picked up and the results appearing more accurately to the user for the search they have performed.

 

Got Questions after Reading the Guide?

We’re sure that having read the guide you’ll have questions that you need a little help answering. The good news is that Eclipse can help.

We have teams of developers and customer experience experts that can consult with you to discover where issue may be and help create a strategy to resolve them.

And we can go far beyond just getting people to the website. Once they’re there you want to make sure they can find what they’re looking for and checkout with ease.

The Experience team can offer site audits and ongoing CRO programmes to test, optimise and develop better shopping experiences for your customers. These things can take a little time but creating a 6- or 12-month strategy, with continued optimising and testing, means you’ll have continuous improvement.

All you need to do is reach out and we can start working on ways to win and keep more customers to your online store.


The Power of User-Generated Content

It should come as little surprise to literally everyone that the pandemic and its continued persistence has significantly shifted the buying habits of all consumers. This has left many brands scratching their heads and scrambling to find ways to get these consumers attention, bring them to their websites and turn these visits from just a casual browse to that of buying stuff.

The big question here is have the effects of 2020, and even a big chunk of 2021, fundamentally shifted and permanently changed how people discover, shop, and engage with businesses?

 

New Research is Helping Provide an Answer

A new research report from the team at Stackla offers insight into this and reveals that not only is the increase in online shopping here to stay but also, that today’s consumers want brands to provide them with a more authentic, personalised shopping experience.

The report, Post-Pandemic Shifts in Consumer Shopping Habits: Authenticity, Personalization and the Power of UGC, surveyed more than 2,000 consumers across the US, UK and Australia. It found that consumers “increasingly seek out and value the social content that real customers are creating about brands. This means that visual social proof—like user-generated content (UGC)— is more important now than ever for brands to leverage as part of their online marketing strategy.”

We’re going to look at some key findings of the report, but we encourage you to head over and download a copy for yourself. It has a ton of great information that will help you develop solid strategies when thinking about how to deal with this huge consumer shift.

 

Creating the Authentic Experience Shoppers are looking for

In the report, Stackla found that 88% of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding which brands, they like and support (with 50% saying it’s very important) and that 83% of consumers believe retailers need to provide more authentic shopping experiences to customers like them.

That’s great we hear you say but how do we do that? Well, the report can help with that too. Let’s start by looking at content.

We know content is incredibly powerful when it comes to marketing and advertising with some of the most successful businesses spending 40% of their entire marketing budget on it but is it being spent on the right kind.

Stackla Report: Post-Pandemic Shifts in Consumer Shopping Habits: Authenticity, Personalization and the Power of UGC

A strong majority of businesses are either already spending large amounts of budget on influencer marketing strategies these days or are looking to include it in their marketing strategy. However, as you can see from the image above, only 10% of consumers say influencer content resonates as authentic with them, and a mere 19% say that brand-created content is the most authentic.

The real authenticity winner, with 59% of consumers, is content created by other consumers or in other words user-generated content (UGC). It is by far and away the most authentic type of content — meaning people are 3.1x more likely to say user-generated content is authentic compared to brand-created content and 5.9x more likely to say it's the most authentic compared to influencer content.

 

And it Does More than just Offer Authenticity

UGC is clearly ticking the box for the consumer, but it also has a big impact on their decision to make a purchase.

In the report, it was found that UGC is 8.7x more impactful in influencing purchasing decisions than influencer content. 79% of people say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions, while a very small 9% said influencer content impacts their purchases.

Stackla Report: Post-Pandemic Shifts in Consumer Shopping Habits: Authenticity, Personalization and the Power of UGC

And it doesn’t stop there, UGC just keeps on giving. 72% of consumers say real customer photos and videos are the content they most want to see on eCommerce sites when making purchasing decisions and 80% of consumers say they’d be more likely to purchase a product from an online store if its website had photos and videos from real customers.

It is hard to argue with those numbers. UGC is clearly an area that if you’re not currently thinking about you might want to start, and here is the reason why. 58% of consumers have left an eCommerce store without purchasing because the site didn’t have customer reviews or photos.

 

UGC is Easier than You Might Think

Consumers are happy to engage with brands that want to share their content and they’re eager for the content they create to be seen and used by their favourite brands.


Stackla Report: Post-Pandemic Shifts in Consumer Shopping Habits: Authenticity, Personalization and the Power of UGC

As you can see, consumers would grant a brand permission to use an image or video they posted of clothing or accessories (58%), a home goods product (58%), a beauty/health/wellness product (54%), a sporting goods product (53%) or a recent trip/excursion (52%) throughout their marketing.

And there are rewards for using this content outside of the ones we’ve already talked about.

43% of consumers — and 47% of Gen Z — say they would be more likely to continue engaging with and purchasing from a brand if it shared their photos or videos throughout its marketing.

 

The Full Report has so Much More

We’ve just scratched the surface of the insights in this report and again we’d encourage you to head over and download a copy for yourself. You’ll find a stack of insights on the importance of personalisation within the shopping experience and why it is so important as well as key insights at the industry level.

 

Putting it Into Action

Hopefully, you’ve seen the overwhelming benefits of including UGC into your strategy and now you’re thinking about how to make it a reality.

The Experience team at Eclipse is here to help. We can work with you to define the best way to include it in the user journey and make it part of the personalisation that your site offers. All you need to do is reach out to us and we can start talking options.


CX, UX and UI. What’s the difference?

If you’re in the world of digital commerce or to be honest delivering anything via the medium of digital, you’ve no doubt heard these 3 terms before. These are often used interchangeably and can mean different things to different people.

The news here is that they aren’t but when you look at things from the perspective of someone who doesn’t work with these things every day, it’s easy to see how people get confused with terminologies that have similar meanings yet are fundamentally different.

So, were here to clear up any confusion. We’ll explain these terms individually and show up how they are related.

 

CX or Customer Experience

We’ve talked about Customer experience before in some detail, but we’ll give a quick overview here for context.

Customer experience (CX) is closely linked to user experience (UX), but there is a difference. Unlike UX which focuses solely on a customer’s satisfaction with a product or service, CX is centred on the customer's entire experience. Think of it as a large circle that wraps itself around UX.

It is fundamental to user experiences in different places and at different times. A consumer can have a bunch of different experiences with the same brand. CX is a combination of all these, across all channels where you as a brand engage with your customers.

Because customer experience covers all these different user experiences, it doesn’t just concern your online channels, but in-store ones as well. Great brands often go the extra mile to establish a good CX, aligning different channels such as social media and customer service.

A thing to note here, as we mentioned in a previous blog, customer experience is not customer service. Customer service is a user experience that falls into the customer experience circle.

 

UX or User Experience

The term user experience has an interesting history.

It first appeared when Donald Norman, the acclaimed UX design expert wrote about it in his book, The Design of Everyday Things. It was first published in 1988 and marked a shift from the previous term “user-centred system design” where instead of focusing on the system itself and the aesthetics of the interface, Norman concentrated on the needs of the user.

It wasn’t until the early 90s when Norman joined Apple Computer first as a fellow, and then as a “user experience architect” that the term made its way into a job title.

According to Donald Norman “User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”

Looking at that definition it doesn’t make mention of tech or the internet. It’s not surprising really because the world wasn’t so digitised back when it was defined. While in the original sense of the definition UX could include any engagement of prospects and customers with a brand, its definition has become strictly digital. It is pretty clear to now see how the confusion between UX and CX can come about.

If we take it to the brass tacks, user experience (UX) at its core has the purpose of optimising a product or service to the total satisfaction of the customer. It achieves this goal by enhancing the usability, accessibility, and enjoyment of whatever is being offered.

UX should create a smooth journey for customers. This journey will encompass your customers visiting your website, browsing around, selecting a product, and navigating to the checkout. But it doesn’t end there. It also covers the confirmation of the order, delivery, and customer services. Again, when you look at this you can see how the confusion with CX can happen.

Fundamentally, UX is what helps users accomplish their goals and solve a particular problem they might have.

 

UI or User Interface but also User Interaction

We’re going to need you to stay with us a little here as we’re about to go down a bit of a rabbit hole.

When you look up UI, you may be faced with either user interface or user interaction as the answer. They are not the same thing, but they’re very very closely related. Essentially you can’t have one without the other, but you can alter one without having to touch the other.

User interface design focuses on the design of the visual interface, user interaction design focuses on the design of the global interaction behaviour of the system.

To add in a further complication some people have started to refer to user interaction as interaction design or IxD. Either way, we will explain what they both are and how they link right now, and we’ll attempt to simplify it as much as possible.

 

Let’s start with User Interaction

As the name suggests, it is concerned with how a user interacts with something. As an example, if you look at a website or an app the user interaction would be things like deciding if the user should swipe, tap, press, or maybe even hold to achieve an outcome.

Think Tinder with the interaction of swiping left, right or up. The user interaction or interaction design here was about being able to achieve a result, quickly and easily without the need to find the button on the screen. At this point, it is not about what it looks like but how the person is going to do what needs to be done to achieve a goal.

 

Now Let’s talk User Interface

This is where the visual aspect comes into play. You may have designed a great interaction but if the design of information on screen does not lend itself to the interaction that has been designed, you’re going to be delivering a poor user experience.

The UI should be putting the relevant information in a place that makes sense and is easy to read and understand. It should be making sure it is accessible and that colours and fonts are not creating issues for users making it unusable.

It’s about layout, imagery and animations coming together in a coherent design formula that when supported with intuitive user interaction make for an exceptional user experience.

If we go back to Tinder as the example, the user interface of having the large image front and centre with the information you need to make a quick decision on the front page make the interaction of swiping left, right or up easy.

The addition of tab indicators across the top of the picture let people know there are more pictures to see and that tapping on the left or right of the image moves the user onto the next.

Without that piece of user interface design, the interaction is dead. There would be nothing to tell a user that the tap is the key to more information. And at the same time, they have added a small icon to indicated that there is other information hidden within the profile.

Giving it a tap opens it up but if the icon was not there and you were a first-time user, you may completely miss that interaction or possibly stumble upon it by accident.

 

Bringing it all together

Hopefully, we’ve managed to offer a clear explanation of each of the elements and how they link together. It is easy to see how they can be confused but when you understand that they all need to coexist in harmony and that they all hold an equal weight of importance you’re able to harness them and create truly special things for your customers.

Just remember that UI is a part of UX, which is a part of CX. All of these are dependent on one another, and you can create an engaging experience when they’re in sync.

Exceptional customer experience needs exceptional user experiences, which requires an exceptional user interface and interactions.

And at Eclipse, this is exactly what we do. We make good things happen by putting data and your customers at the heart of every strategy, design, and experience decision to create more personalised experiences that make a genuine difference.

If you need a hand with any of these elements, we’re here to help. Just reach out to our Experience team and we can get to creating exceptional experiences together.


Tactics to Consider as you Prepare for Christmas 2021

You may be asking why we’re talking about Christmas in September but for a lot of businesses this may be a make or break moment for them and so far, the news has been packed with potential supply issues and price increases as a result.

What we’ve got for you in this post are some things you can do to get customers coming to the site, keep them there and make it as easy as possible for them to find the perfect gift, drop it in their cart and checkout without any worries.

 

Convenience is King

We’ve talked about this a lot, but it is super important. Customers are putting this so high on their list of reasons why they choose to shop with the stores they do, you can’t ignore it.

And when you think about Christmas it is even more important. People have several gifts that they need to buy and if the process is made too difficult for them, they go and look for an easier way somewhere else.

Some of the things we’ll talk about below will have long term benefits that will continue to pay back well after the Holiday period is over.

 

Offer Inspiration

We all know that one person who has everything and when it comes to finding them a gift, we’re left with no place to start.

Helping those customers is easy. Take the time to create curated lists of gifts that filter into different categories. It’s super easy to do and removes a step that the customer must take when looking around what you have to offer.

Think prices. Having options to see gifts under different pricing takes people right to a selection that meets budget restrictions. Create an option for Him and for Her. You could even break it down by activity. Gifts for those who love to cook or love to garden. The options are endless and will differ depending on what it is you sell but customers love it.

By creating these filter options you’re taking people straight to the stuff they’re looking for, removing things that aren’t relevant and offering a level of personalization. It removes frustration and reduces the chances of people bouncing off the website from a perception that you just don’t have what they’re looking for.

I can tell you I am one of these shoppers. There are websites that I will always go back to specifically because they have gift finders. If I don’t know where to start, they become the start. And I do this year-round, not just at Christmas. Birthdays, Easter, you name it. If I must buy a gift and I need a little help, these sites will get a visit and almost always a purchase from me.

 

Create Bundles and Make Related Buys Super Relevant

As a retailer, we’re always looking for ways to increase the average order value. Creating gifting bundles is a great way to do this.

Fashion retailers do some of this by highlighting ‘complete the look’ on a single product where the model is wearing other items. If you can do the same for your product range, do it. Make it easier by giving them the option to click a single button and add it all to the cart without the need for going to multiple pages.

This also works well with gift foods or interior décor. If you’ve gone through the hassle of creating beautiful images that create a lifestyle for people, make it easy to get everything they see in the picture.

And when it comes to related products as add-ons things like batteries, cables, and things that make the first product work are a must. Everybody hates buying something and then not being able to use it because they need to buy something else for that to happen.

Make it clear that they will need this extra item for it to function. However, be smart about this. Make sure that the original item does not have it included.

I was subject to this just after buying my new house. I had to do some renovation work in the cloakroom that required a toilet and taps. When I picked what I wanted I was given a ‘you’ll need this’ list, so I clicked them all and added them to the basket, but something got me to pause, and I went back and looked at the individual items like the taps and the basin.

I had been told you needed to buy the flex pipes for the tap and the waste for the basin, I assume because 99% of them don’t come with these extras, but the ones I had picked did include them so I would have ended up with two of everything if I had just gone with it and then I would have been left with the need to return things and a feeling of having been cheated.

You can’t always shortcut these things with a one size fits all in the back of your website. Triple check and make sure that what you’re telling people they need, they actually need.

 

Remove Doubt as Early as Possible

One of the biggest barriers to a person buying, especially over Christmas, is uncertainty around delivery and returns.

Customers want to make sure that what they’re buying is going to arrive on time and should there be an issue it can be returned or exchanged easily.

By putting this information front and centre on the website, so that it can be found easily, you’re removing this doubt. And if you keep the delivery information updated so that they are aware of the last time that they can order to guarantee delivery before a particular date, you will pick up last-minute shoppers and get those who might be on the fence to a decision point faster.

Put the messages in multiple places and if there are products that have special delivery restrictions or returns guidelines, put that info on the product pages. This kind of information can’t be over-communicated.

And if you’re offering extended return times, tell people. It might just get them to buy from you rather than another retailer.

Another thing that is important here is information about delays, should they arise. Being totally transparent about these kinds of things builds trust and should reduce the amount of inbound contact about these issues.

 

Make it Easy for People to Checkout

This is another frustration for people that are shopping across different sites whilst Christmas shopping. Having to go through a 400 step sign up process sends people in the other direction.

Having a guest checkout with the ability to turn it into an account after the purchase is a much easier way to get people through. The hook to create the account is to keep up to date with the delivery of the items but having to create an account before you can do things like see delivery costs will kill a sale.

As important as the guest checkout is the payment options you offer. Offering options such as Apple or Google Pay and PayPal Express essentially gives people a ‘one click’ checkout. It pulls all the information around delivery and billing details and sticks them right into the checkout.

I use this all the time. I never have to find my wallet to triple check numbers on cards and during the hunt for the wallet rethink my purchase.

If you don’t offer these yet, think about getting them on before Christmas shopping really kicks off. Those who shop via mobile will love you for it.

 

Create a Gifting Experience

If people are buying gifts and sending them directly to the people getting them, having the option to have something gift wrapped is brilliant. Also including the option to include a gift receipt and keep invoices out of the delivery is great too.

Gift wrapping creates a great impression not only for you as the retailer but for the person getting the parcel and for the person that bought it.

A few years back when I was still in New Zealand, I bought some gifts from Harvey Nichols and had them gifted wrapped and sent as Christmas gifts to my sisters. I was blown away by how easy it was and when I got a chance to see what had been delivered, I was amazed. My sisters loved it and whenever I need to send a gift to someone and want them to have an incredible opening experience, they’re my go-to.

Having this as an option can help you stand out in the crowd, and it is also a great upsell opportunity.

 

Together they Create an Exceptional Experience

Having all or some of these will help give your customers a great shopping experience. The easier it is for them to do what it is they want, the more likely they are to do it.

And if you’re not sure where to start with these things, reach out to us. We’re here to help and our Experience team have a bag full of tricks to give you the edge.


Want more people to see what you’ve got to sell? Google can help for free

So, it is almost an unavoidable fact that when people are on the hunt for something the first place they go is the internet. Whether it be on their mobile or via a desktop connection, they’re hitting a search engine to see if they can find what it is they’re looking for.

And in most cases, that search engine is Google.

The challenge for you as a retailer is to make sure that your product can be found when people start looking for it.

Well, we have some good news. Google is making it easier for you to do this and the even better news is that it is free.

 

Welcome to the Google Merchant Center

Google Merchant Center helps you get your shop and product info into Google and make it available to shoppers across Google. That means that everything about your shops and products is available to customers when they search on a Google property.

By adding your products to Google for free you’ll get it in front of shoppers who are using the Shopping tab, Google Search, and Google Image Search. And if you choose to, you’re also able to promote your products with ads later that can boost the traffic to your online store.

 

 

Getting Started is Easy

The team at Google have made it easy for you to get started with a full onboarding guide on the Merchant Center website and by creating this handy infographic that gives you the full breakdown in an easy-to-read format. Click the image below to open a full copy of the infographic that you can also save a copy of, so you've always got it handy.

 

You can also get to the infographic here

 

Making the Most of the Increased Traffic

Now that you’re set up and your products are featuring across Google, you want to make sure that you’re offering the best experience to those that visit your website.

Is it easy for people to find the information they need? Are they able to find answers to any questions they might have through FAQ’s or via live chat? Is the checkout seamless and does it offer all the payment options that people are looking for?

If the answer to those questions is maybe or we’re not sure, then the Experience team at Eclipse are here to help. This team of experts make sure that your website is offering the best possible experience to your customers so that you don’t miss out on any opportunity.

It’s as easy as just reaching out to us and having a chat. We can take a look at what you’re working with and see what can and should be done to enhance the experience for your customers.


Lessons on Customer Experience from Giant Brands

We talk about customer experience a bunch at Eclipse and it is with good reason. It is the thing that makes you stand out from your competitors, and it is the thing that makes the biggest difference to consumers.

To be clear, we’re not talking about customer service. That is a different thing that plays into the customer experience. We talked about this more in a previous blog 'Are you confusing Customer Experience with Customer Service?'. What we’re talking about is the end-to-end customer journey and all the things that you and your brand do that make you stand out, build loyalty, and make people come back time and time again.

 

Learning from Others

We’ve covered customer experience from the angle of what the customer wants but today we’re taking a slightly different angle. One of the best ways to get better at what you do is to look at what others are doing for inspiration.

So, we’ve looked at some of the giant brands out there that people praise for their customer experience and brought you the best of what they’re doing to help inspire you when it comes to creating your customer experience strategy.

 

Tesla

These guys have built a customer base of fans and they have an incredible reputation. Their NPS is 96 and if you’ve ever talked to anyone who owns one, they have very probably tried to convince you to buy one yourself.

So, what have they done that we can learn from? The very first thing they did was start a movement for their brand. It was something that people could believe in and as I have often quoted in the past ‘People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe’

They set their mission to ‘accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.’ It underpins what they do and how they talk about themselves and if you share that as a value, you’re drawn to get involved.

You might be thinking that this isn’t an ‘experience’ but the reason it is important is that it talks to the brand. Brand and customer experience are intrinsically linked. Most often the first time someone engages with you is through brand discovery, which is the very start of the customer journey. And as we mentioned before, customer experience is about the entire journey end-to-end.

This was a big move that drew in a lot of love from people but the biggest impact they’ve had on customer experience is around how they’re selling the cars to start with. They totally removed friction and turned the way that cars are sold on its head.

Had you told someone 15 years ago that you’d be buying your car online without having to go anywhere near a dealership you’d have been told you’re dreaming but guess what, that is exactly what Tesla did.

The “traditional” sales experience is one of the biggest frictions or annoyances in the car buying journey for customers, so they removed it. You can apply the same lesson to almost any other industry– if you want to differentiate your offering, look for the typical frictions that customers face in your industry and find a way to solve them.

 

Ralph Lauren

If you’ve ever had any exposure to their brand, you know that it creates a lifestyle for their customer base and much like Tesla, their customers are strong advocates for them.

The lessons we can learn here is around what they’ve done to shift and create a digital evolution of their customer experience. Much like everyone else in the fashion industry, the pandemic changed what they did and forced them to have to step up and step up they did.

They have done such a great job with this that Gartner Digital IQ Index recently recognised Ralph Lauren as the No. 5 luxury brand in digital, citing its robust mobile features and connected retail programs.

One of the driving principles of their reinvention was the willingness to learn and evolve. For anyone who wants to step up their customer experience game and genuinely build something that people are going to gravitate to, they need to be open to doing the same.

Ralph Lauren evaluated the brand’s digital presence to identify potential friction points in the customer journey and to find new ways to improve the experience.

Those insights inspired several performance-boosting user experience (UX) enhancements. They included more detailed category filters, a simplified checkout flow and important app updates, including improved navigation and clearer presentation of product details. These changes, which put more focus on product discovery, helped the company grow mobile orders by 34%.

It might sound obvious but if you really want to build that customer experience that customers are going to love, you should probably ask them what they want.

Another thing we can take from them is how they’ve adapted the way they tell their story.

For a brand that has prioritised cinematic lifestyle storytelling across every aspect of commerce and marketing, beginning with in-store experiences and print advertising, they have been faced with the challenge of how can you do the same thing in a way that the new consumer cares about?

In the age of digital, they quickly adapted and expanded this vision to its online experiences. This approach guided Ralph Lauren to build an elevated mobile storefront that mirrors how the company tells its story on other channels.

Because the customer experience covers the buyers’ journey, beginning to end, you must make sure you’re covering all the bases. You need to be where the customers are, offering that seamless experience, to the same level, whatever the delivery method.

 

Amazon

Surely, it’s no surprise that Amazon is being talked about when it comes to customer experience. The shopping experience they offer is pretty much unrivalled and is central to their enormous success.

One of the biggest customer experience levers they’ve firmly got in their grasp is convenience but that isn’t what we’re going to be talking about here.

The lesson we’re taking from them is a surprisingly simple one: Amazon excels at making it crystal clear what will happen when you click that button.

One of the biggest inhibitors to driving conversion is leaving customers with doubts or questions. Any chance to stop and think or creation of the need to go on the hunt for information is the opportunity for a change of mind or a quick duck out of the process.

As a result, you can go about cutting down friction in a consumer’s decision-making process by giving them all the information they need, at a glance, easing them towards conversion.

When you fail to explain things like delivery times, cost of shipping, how to track orders and what to do if you need to return something, you are putting blockers in the way of conversion.

 

The Lessons Learnt

So, to summarise the key learnings from those giant brands:

  • Create something that people can believe in and want to be a part of
  • Look for friction in the ‘normal’ way of doing things and remove it
  • Open yourself up and be willing to learn and evolve
  • Adapt the way you tell your story for a new audience
  • Give consumers the information they need and want in the easiest way possible
  • Remove doubt and make the customer experience seamless

 

Putting these Lessons into Action

Now that you’ve got some inspiration, you’ve got to decide how important these things are to you and how you can work them into your strategy.

That is where we come in. At Eclipse we’ve got an incredibly talented, multi-award-winning bunch of people ready to help you and your business. Our Experience team are experts at this stuff and can guide you or offer advice and answer questions that you might have. All you need to do is reach out and talk to us.

There’s not much that can’t be solved with a few cups of tea, some bright people and a (currently virtual) whiteboard.