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.


Customer Experience Optimisation: Pivotal for the Recovery of the Travel Industry

The State of Travel

The world is desperate for some semblance of normality regarding travel. But the travel sector has been one of the hardest hit as a result of Covid-19, and a full recovery is far off. Due to both domestic and international restrictions, mass staff layoffs and sector bankruptcies, the travel sector is far from profitability and peak.

STA Travel and Specialist Leisure Group (running Shearings, and Cruise & Maritime Voyages) are examples of recent administrative closures since the outset of Covid-19. Global travel giant Flight Centre closed hundreds of underperforming high street offices during the pandemic. How then, are the end-users (holidaymakers) impacted? How can an entire sector and workforce bounce back from near obliteration, and do so swiftly? During this climate of hard lessons and even harder bottom lines, a handful of travel sector businesses flourished.

These businesses and their Covid-19 survival strategies offer a unique and valuable insight into how recovery for the wider industry might best be achieved. This article investigates exactly how and why these businesses were able to excel in such a complex and challenging sales environment. It aims to apply their approaches to a broader industry context, for the benefit of the travel sector (and end-users) as a whole.

 

Success Stories

The past two years saw profuse international coverage on Covid-19 cases aboard cruise ships. Often these ships were required to quarantine offshore for long periods, and passengers were restricted to their cabins for the duration of the quarantine period. It is no surprise that because of such coverage, the cruise ship market took a significant hit on current bookings, future sales, and the reimbursement of missed travel plans.

Despite this, however, two key industry players were able to stabilise and improve their market position. P&O Cruises and Cunard Line are Covid-19 success stories. They offer the wider travel industry not just a glimmer of hope for future recovery, but also a methodology to apply to accelerate that recovery. P&O Cruises Australia President Sture Myrmell said the company has “a big reservoir of loyal guests who are keen to cruise again as soon as it is possible to do so. Booking trends for the first part of 2022 are encouraging and compare well with the same period of pre-pandemic 2019”.

Cunard Line boasts their own Covid-19 Hub, which aims to promote ‘sailing with confidence’ amongst their loyal customers. Assurances relating to updated Covid-19 travel restrictions, travel flexibility options, booking guarantees and expectation management of onboard and onshore experiences all play a part in keeping their customers informed, inspired and faithful to the brand (Cunard Line, 2021). But these trust-building experiences are deceptively complex. They are not produced and promoted in a day. They are considered, strategic investments that serve their investors well in both good times and in bad. Such investments can be simple to overlook in times of booming business. But in times of negligible margins, such strategies can mark the difference between success and failure in the fates of many businesses.

 

Customer Experience Optimisation

The encouraging results of P&O Cruises and Cunard Lines in the face of adversity offer a roadmap to others in need of a strategic lifeline. Though each business, market share and audience are unique, broader parallels in learning can be applied for the benefit of other struggling businesses within the travel industry. For example, applying the principles of transparency, assurance, flexibility, and expectation management hold relevance to most other businesses.

Deeper strategic decisions and investments relating to the optimisation of customer experience then become the sticking point for those businesses willing to take survival strategies seriously or not. Much of the resistance comes from a lack of understanding of concepts and values. Decision-makers must empower themselves with knowledge on the concept of customer experience optimisation and learn from the success of others the value that such strategies offer to a business. Customer experience is not simply the services that they encounter during a transaction.

They are an ecosystem that includes attitudes, values, experiences, highs, lows, pleasant surprises, and disappointments. Understanding and valuing this ecosystem for your customers is pivotal. Incorporating this ideology into company culture and infrastructure is vital for the ecosystem to flourish. Investment in digital assets, customer service support, up-to-date information sources and communication lines to users are all part and parcel of this methodology.

 

Summary

Within a scarred industry, two leaders have emerged as front runners during the difficult times of Covid-19. P&O Cruises and Cunard Lines have demonstrated the value of applying a Customer Experience Optimisation strategy within their business. As an investment in growth as well as customer satisfaction, this approach has delivered positive results in the buffering against a perilous market. It has also seen growth within an otherwise bleak industry outlook. The travel industry as a whole ought to take notice of this approach and apply similar learnings within their strategic plans. At a time when the focus is on recovery, it is easy to forget that if the focus remains on the customer, recovery will surely follow.

 

Need a Little Help or got Some Questions?

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.


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.


Is Your Brand Using Short Videos? It Should Be

You’ve all engaged with it, even without realising that you have, and all things considered, the world loves it.

Short-form videos are those that are 60 seconds or less and they’re fundamentally changing the way the world works, communicates and learns.

Vine started it and platforms like Tik Tok picked it up and drove a shift that other platforms have followed. Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook have all made video key to growth and user retention.

 

Why Video?

The reason they’re doing this. It is how people wanted to be communicated to.

60% of internet traffic revolves around video, 72% of people prefer video vs text to learn about a product or service, 68% of people will happily watch a business video if it’s under a minute and 54% of people want to see brands create videos vs any other type of content.

Those numbers speak for themselves but if you needed more, we’ve got them.

93% of marketers have landed a customer via social media video, video content on Instagram receives 49% higher engagement and it also gets 48% more views on social media when compared to other content.

 

The Experts’ Case for Short Video

We’ve found a great Ted Talk by Digital strategist Qiuqing Tai where she explores the explosive rise of bite-sized content and forecasts its promise as an economic and social force.

It really is a must-see and has some incredible examples of how short video has driven real change and offers ways you could do the same.

So, there we have it. Short video could just be the next step in your brand and marketing strategy to support your eCommerce business growth. Now you’ve just got the pick the platform your existing or future customers are using and produce some great content for them to engage with.

 

Need a Little Help with it?

At Eclipse we’ve got digital experts that understand what makes an exceptional customer experience and they can work with you to create and implement a strategy so that you can deliver just that, making short video a lever in the strategy that you can pull on when needed. All you need to do is just reach out.


What is Aspire? (and why you need it)

Making the best-uary, of your estuary

“I have a dream…and that dream evolves based on new data and learnings”

Just to clarify in case my attempt at creating a clever headline has confused anyone. Much like rivers flowing into a single point, I’m referring to aligning multiple workstreams and projects into a single vision.

As businesses increasingly compete and challenge each other to reach the top of their respective markets, one of the challenges faced is throwing things at the fan and seeing what sticks. This type of action can have great results but ultimately results in a completely disjointed experience on their website.

These are some of the reasons why, at Eclipse, we offer a programme we call Aspire.

 

What is Aspire?

We all love to dream. We all have our own interpretations of what ‘great’ or ‘next-level’ looks like. This ultimately creates extensive discussions and debates on who is right and who is wrong (hint: neither answer is correct until proven).

The cause of debate is generally around where time, effort and budget should be spent. But let’s wait a moment…let’s take a step back – what is the objective? Is this aimed at a short-term gain or long-term sustainability of the business? Whatever the answer may be, projects often head off in different directions and create a disjointed experience.

Think about it. I’m sure you can remember multiple times when you’ve been on a website and one part of the site feels significantly better/different than the other. “Meh” you may be thinking…as long as it works. This view, I can absolutely tell you, is short-term thinking and can seriously damage your long-term objectives.

This can lead to a stage when you feel you really need to invest heavily in an unplanned redesign of the whole website, or you turn users away as the journey no longer makes sense. You may not even realise it till late on as visitor numbers have gradually (or sharply) declined and you’re not sure why.

Our Aspire programme is about going beyond the short-term. Aspire is about removing all the barriers of today, be that technology, process, budget or limitations to create the best experience you can envisage for your customers.

Aspire is about making you stand out in the market as being the “best of the best”…the “Top Gun!” (apologies Tony Scott). Most importantly, Aspire is about aligning all experiments, changes or parallel workstreams within teams or organisations to ensure everything and everyone is driving towards achieving the same vision.

Whether you’re a single team running multiple channels of experimentation, or multiple teams operating individually, Aspire is here to help you align your workstreams to create consistency from both a UX (User Experience), UI (User Interface) and CX (Customer Experience) perspective.

 

How often should you run Aspire programme?

This is a really important question to ask. Aspire creates this long-term vision, but this is a constantly evolving thing.

As you learn more about how your customers are interacting with your website, and you as a business, this vision will evolve. This can be due to new technology hitting the market, change of circumstance or even changes in the political and public landscape (particularly relevant over the last year).

We monitor this through behavioural analysis using data and predictive patterns. “X has just been announced – how can we mitigate the impact now, so it doesn’t affect us going forward” is just one example of how that may emerge.

 

Cheesy analogy time…

A post like this wouldn’t be the same without a cheesy analogy, so here we go. Think carefully about how you align business objectives. I’ll compare Aspire to rockets and fireworks.

The short-term way of thinking can be seen as a firework. All these channels shooting off in all directions. All are exciting, all are great and can end up providing a beautiful array of colour and success, however, ultimately fade away and come floating down to earth as ash.

Aspire on the other hand is comparable to a rocket. Aspire is your launchpad, that looks beyond the initial excitement of colour and wonderment, to a longer-term future that shoots you into orbit and allows you to stay there.

The Aspire approach can be run as an individual programme, but we aim to use this thinking in everything we do. We consider the pros and cons based on your individual business objectives and goals.

So, if you’d like to have a chat about how this can work for you, give us a call and we’d be more than happy to see how we can help.


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.


6 Ways to Find Out What Your Customers Think About You

We all want to know what our customers are really thinking about us but sometimes it can feel like an impossible task. To help with this we’ve got a few ways that you can put into action that’ll get you the information you need to make sure they’re having a great time and that you’re delivering on your brand promise to them.

You can absolutely use these one at a time or pick and choose the one that appeals to you most, but the real power comes when you combine them. The real power and insights exist in data and the more of it you have, the better equipped you’ll be.

 

Wait, What Do You Mean by Brand Promise?

Good question. Before we move into the ways you collect the insights let’s talk about why they’re important. Customer Experience!

Ultimately everything we’re doing is to ensure that we offer the best possible customer experience to our customers. In a previous blog, we talked about the difference between customer experience and customer service but here we’re going to touch on the difference between brand and customer experience and how they feed each other.

The first thing to note is that you own the management of the brand and the customer experience, but every customer owns the perception of those things. One of the reasons you want the customer insight is to understand if what you think the brand and customer experience should be, is.

The way to look at these two things are:

Brand – This is the promise you’re making to the world. It is the pillars by which your business operates. It is the things you stand for, the values you bring to the market, the way you talk about and visualise yourself. It is how you’re known.

Customer Experience – This is the delivery of the brand. When you’re putting the brand out into the world, you’re making several promises that people are buying into. Customer Experience is where the rubber hits the road, and the promise is delivered.

As Simon Sinek puts it, ‘People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.’

Your task is to make sure that customer experience is supporting what the brand is saying and the way to do it is by asking the people who own the perception.

 

Getting the Insights, You Need to Make a Change

There are a bunch of ways of doing this and the key is that not all research is equal. You must decide what it is you need to know and pick the best medium to achieve that.

Some of this should be what we call ‘always on’ and others can be more ad-hoc and used when you’re looking for specific information.

Here’s the list, in no real order, for you to consider.

Surveys

If done right, these just work. The real trick to getting them right is to keep them short and make them easy to complete.

Nobody wants to be spending an hour filling in a survey, but they might give you 5 or 10 minutes, 3 or 4 times over an extended period.

NPS or Net Promoter Score is a great survey that can go out every 6 months or so and asks essentially two questions. The first is what is the likelihood that someone is happy to recommend your business or product (on a scale of 1-10) and the second question is why is that your answer.

When done over time, it works as a temperature check to prove that what you’re doing is being well received and is driving sentiment up. We’ll come back to sentiment but just know that the higher it is, the more people care about your brand or products.

Another survey that works well is a post-project / post-purchase / post-delivery survey. It is a way to check that what was promised at the beginning became a reality for the customer. Again, keep them short and easy to complete. Tools like Typeform are easy to use and create great-looking surveys that can be completed on multiple device formats. Getting the results out the other side is easy too.

For the most part, surveys can be used for gathering just about any kind of information you want but keep them specific to an outcome you’re looking for. If they’re too vague you’ll not get the kinds of information out of them, you need.

 

Pro Tip:

Look closer at the text entry fields in the survey. The language people use and the way they write has a lot to say. Are they using CAPITALS in certain places or are they throwing around exclamation marks! These things in some cases are just as important as what it is they’re saying.

 

 

Customer Interviews / Market Research Panels

For all intents and purposes, this is a much more detailed in person or via webcam survey.

People are far more likely to give more detailed answers and it gives you the ability to apply clarification to answers, in the moment. They require more effort on your part and should ideally not be done regularly with the same people. But if you’re really needing to get to the bottom of something, this is a great way to do it.

Where the research panels help too is that generally once someone opens up about something, others will feel more open to sharing. People by their very nature will keep some things to themselves but when in the company of others that are happy to tell it like it is, they’re more likely to come to the party.

 

Pro Tip:

Some companies specialise in this type of research and if it is the first time, you’re doing it or you don’t have the time to dedicate to getting it done well, source it out. Just like any other customer experience, you want these to feel seamless and well done and asking for help is not a bad thing to do. If you need help with this, come talk to us and we can point you in the right direction.

 

 

Social Listening

This option, for whatever reason, still seems to be one that a lot of businesses are not using.

Essentially it is the act of keeping an ear to the ground when it comes to what people are saying about you all over the internet but more specifically on social media.

We mentioned sentiment before, and this is really where it comes into play. By measuring sentiment, you’re keeping track of how people feel about you, your brand, customer experience and products. Your customers are likely to share how they’re feeling on social platforms with their friends and family – be that good or bad - and social listening allows you to keep up to date with what they’re saying and act accordingly.

It is near on impossible to do this well without the use of a tool but if you get a good one it takes the hard work out of it for you and drops the insights into your lap.

The team at Social Baker have a great social listening tool that will listen to your audience across the entire customer journey and allow you to use the data instantly from every touchpoint. And when you link it up with the rest of the platform, you’re empowered to make truly insight-driven decisions that will shift sentiment towards being positive.

 

Pro Tip:

Even if you’re not using social listening but you’re active on social media, you need to respond to people that are talking about you or are asking for help. Don’t just use it as a channel to blast people with your message. The clue is in the name. Be social and interact with your audience. Be it good, bad or indifferent, you need to thank them or solve their problems. It’s an unwritten agreement between brands and customers who use social media, and you want to hold up your end of the deal.

 

 

User Testing

We’ve written an entire blog on this subject but wanted to bring it up again here.

What we’re talking about for the most part is digital user testing. Be that a website or a sass platform, you’re gathering insight from the users and the way they interact with your site or product.

This is incredibly useful as you’re getting feedback that relates directly to an interaction that is taking place.

You can do it with physical products too but for it to really work well, it needs to be done in person.

The data that you can gather from doing this is highly valuable and can really drive the changes around design, form, function and in some cases the entire way that you’re presenting yourself to the world.

Head over and read the complete blog to find out a little more but just know it is a great way to gather real insights from real users in real-time.

 

Pro Tip:

Much like with market research, you want to do this right the first time and getting the professionals in to take care of it for you is where the smart return on the investment is. At Eclipse we’ve got years of experience doing this with some of the biggest brands in the UK. Come talk to us and we can get you set up with user testing sessions in no time.

 

 

Analytics

You should already have these running in the background across your website and any other tools that you’ve got running that your customers are interacting with.

They are packed with incredibly valuable information. They are telling you what people are interacting with most, how they got there and on the other side of the spectrum, what is sending them running away from you.

Use this information to realign the customer journey, create more of the content people want to see and take the highest performing content and promote it to the world.

It seems like an obvious thing to do but you’ll be surprised how many people forget to consider it when they’re trying to figure out what their customers really think. Don’t let it be one of those things that sit collecting data, for it never to see the light of day.

 

Pro Tip:

If you’re using google analytics but have no idea where to start, go and look at Google Academy. They have helpful information on all aspects of analytics, and it’ll point you in the right direction, answer some of your questions and get you gathering awesome insights in virtually no time at all.

 

 

Front Line Staff

This again seems like an obvious thing to do but it is almost always the most obvious that gets forgotten about.

By talking to the people that talk to your customers the most, you’ll be getting information that you can link back to purchase or interaction and use it to understand how it went.

The people at the coal face will be able to tell you about trends they’re seeing and highlight things that people are asking for without having to trawl through hundreds of surveys or data files.

 

Pro Tip:

If you’ve got a CRM that links customer purchases both in-store and online and through customer service support, you able to make this process even slicker. The more you can keep together the more insight you’ll have but it’ll also turbocharge your ability to offer personalisation to your customers.

 

The ultimate takeaway here is that gathering this information is super important not only for your business but your customers too. It gives you what you need to ensure that the customer experience is always delivering on your brand promise. And remember, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.


Are You Ready to Meet the Needs of the Post-Pandemic Consumer?

The one thing I am sure we can all agree on is that the pandemic has changed a lot of things, in a lot of ways and by all accounts, a fair chunk of these changes are here to stay.

And we as consumers have been front and centre for most of them. Consumer habits have changed over the years and are always changing with the times, but the pandemic kind of put a rocket behind the shift and moved us all along at a rather rapid pace.

As a result, a whole bunch of us have realised the conveniences that came with some of them and we’ve decided, we’re not going back.

The challenge for retailers is to meet these new habits, which have become expectations, so they’re able to continue to create awesome experiences and grow their business with existing and new customers.

 

What are these new shopping habits?

The team at Shopify commissioned a study with over 1,000 UK shoppers to find out just how much has changed and they put them together in their new report ‘New Shopping Behaviours in Post-Pandemic UK

We’ve taken a look at the report and pulled together the key insights that will give you an idea of the kinds of things you need to take note of.

We’d encourage you to head over and download a copy for yourself. There are stacks of stats in it and it’ll be a great reference as you build your strategy for the rest of 2021 and into 2022.

 

The 3 key things you should know

At the top of the report, Shopify called out 3 key things that you need to really pay attention to. These are what we've put our focus on but the report has lost of information that sits behind them. Make sure you grab yourself a copy.

 

  1. Online shopping is here to stay, but shopping in physical retail locations will return.

It was almost inevitable that as shops started to open again, people would want to get back out and into them but their purpose in the overall buyers’ journey has changed.

For the most part, they’re being seen as ‘distribution hubs’. The concept of heading out and wandering around stores seems to be fading fast. The demand for hybrid fulfilment options like local pickup and delivery is increasing.

Another indicator of this is that consumers are doing more and more research before they visit a physical store. The research found that 47% of consumers plan to check the availability of inventory, at their local store, in advance.

Giving people the ability to do this, much like Ikea has on their site, is going to give you the edge over your competitors. The consumer wants to know that if they’re leaving their house, they’re going to get what they want. If they can’t, they’ll order it from someone who can get it to them with the least amount of effort on their part.

The consumer is willing to exchange an immediate collection of products for convenient, fast, friction-free delivery. This is why so many of us default to Amazon.

 

  1. Shopping local is top of mind for consumers.

This particular stat gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. I have personally been an advocate of the shop local and shop independent movement for years and the pandemic has given us all the same idea.

In the research, 51% of consumers indicated that they expect to shop locally more often post-pandemic than they did before with the top reasons for this change being convenience, supporting local business owners and proximity – which 68% of consumers said is an important factor when making a purchase decision.

If you’re able to combine this sentiment with the ability to check store stock online and offer a hybrid collect in-store and delivery model, you’ll be cooking with gas.

And this doesn’t mean that if you’re a larger retailer you’re going to miss out. For many, shop local means ‘within my area’ (in fact, 59% consider it to mean that) and if you happen to have a store that falls into that category, offering the same conveniences will stand you in good stead.

 

  1. Post-pandemic shopping habits and behaviours are set to change.

As we know, the one constant in life is change and things are set to continue to change beyond those habits mentioned above.

Cash is on the decline, after most places refusing to accept it during the pandemic, and demand for contactless payment options are increasing rapidly. 70% of consumers indicated that this was an important factor to them.

With this is the rise of the mobile wallet and having the ability to accept Apple and Google pay is so important, and not just in-store. People have adopted this way of paying because it is so easy for them. If your online store doesn’t offer it yet, it needs to be on your list of things to implement sooner rather than later.

Another thing that people indicated as high on their list as part of returning to stores was their need for health and safety measure to stay in place. 63% indicated that they’re still in favour of masks being worn and social distancing to remain in place.

 

Next Steps

The first thing we recommend you do is head over and download the report. There is a lot of detail that sits behind this information, and it is packed with nuggets of pure gold that’ll help you make changes where it matters.

Then it is time to start figuring out where and how these changes need to be made. This is where Eclipse comes in. We can help you develop it into a strategy that we can then help you implement. Our team are ready when you are to jump into the challenge. You just need to reach out to us and get the ball rolling.


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.