Emerging E-Commerce Growth Trends You Should Be Taking Advantage of.

At Eclipse we live and breathe digital commerce. It’s what gets us up in the morning and keeps us going, and as such, we keep up with the latest and greatest in the industry.

We have done some research and pulled together what we see as the emerging trends for the rest of 2020 and into 2021 that’ll help lead your business into growth.

Across the world, peoples buying habits are shifting and the continued variations on lockdown have even hit the boomers by forcing them to shop online – some for the very first time. This may not seem like a big deal to most, but it is a daunting task and the fears and potential risks seem insurmountable.

If you’ve had a chance to see any of the news around digital commerce, you’ll have seen that COVID has accelerated the e-commerce industry’s growth, putting it way ahead of any previous projections and forecasts to date. More and more businesses are starting to take advantage of this by joining the e-commerce business revolution than ever before. Companies that previously embraced the e-commerce trend have already experienced expansion, in the midst of ‘traditional’ retail shrinking.

By the end of 2020, global e-commerce sales are expected to reach £3.3 trillion, as reported by the e-commerce big player Shopify. However, creating a website and selling your products isn’t that easy. The money doesn’t always just start flowing in once you hit publish on that new site. The competition is getting steeper and online shopping behaviours and customer expectations are changing continuously and rapidly.

The changing market calls for keeping up with emerging trends to cut through the noise, get noticed, and attract and retain customers. This is where our research comes in. Read on to see what we think you should be looking into taking advantage of.

 

Product Visuals That Go Beyond Just A Picture

We can all absolutely relate to this – you find a product, you think it’s going to be exactly what you want and you’ve started to justify the purchase in your head but you’re not totally sure if what you’re seeing on the site, is what you will actually get when you make the purchase. So long story short, you hesitate from hitting the purchase button and the shop loses a chance to get a new customer.

As it stands today, simply having online reviews in isolation are not enough to convince a customer to buy your product. Today’s consumers need to trust your company, product and experience before stepping in and starting to purchase. High-resolution images matter hugely in the digital world but even those as static images are no longer enough, either. Customers are demanding more, and that more is 360-degree and AR experiences that let potential buyers view all angles of the product, bring them into their own space and experience what it is like to have it in their houses.

Our AR solution, Ares, allows you to offer exactly that to your existing and potential new customers. It brings 360-degree and full AR experiences to them, right in the browser which removes the need to have to download an app to use it. Keeping people on-site and offering them something that your competitors don’t is only a good thing, especially when that thing is super experiential and proven to drive engagement with customers.

 

Hyper Personalised Commerce

The most successful e-commerce companies are already leveraging personalisation technology to give their customers a customised experience.

These customised experiences are achieved by dynamically showing content, product recommendations, and specific offers based on browsing behaviour, previous actions, prior purchase history, customer demographics, and other enriched personal data.

E-commerce doesn’t include a retail salesperson to recommend products based on interest, preferences, or taste. Human touchpoints provide many opportunities to beat out the competition and some brands have built their entire experience based on this principle. This is what hyper-personalisation on eCommerce does – mimicking what a customer's in-store experience would be, through a unique online customer journey.

Data is what makes this operation work. Social media platforms and search engine tracking tools let you extract tons of personal data about your visitors and buyers, such as search queries, page visits, purchase history, and more. However, limitations are beginning to be placed on access to this data and there is a need to shift to independent data collection from those using your website already. Making it easy for customers to log into your site when visiting it allows you to gather data that will support your ability to personalise future shopping ‘trips’.

“Personalization is the missing ingredient to a successful online shopping experience and will be key to 2020 and the future of e-commerce,” says Juha Valvanne, Founder of Nosto.

To truly get this right, the help of experts is for the most part required to make sure that things are set up in the right way. That will allow you to fully maximise every opportunity that may be possible. Our Experience team do exactly that, and the research is telling us it is a smart investment.

Research has found that customers spend 48% more when their shopping experience is personalized. And, 57% of online shoppers are comfortable with sharing their personal information with a brand if it benefits their shopping experience.

When this is all done right, a customer will feel like you’re reading their mind. This emotional response generates a sense of loyalty, but you need to remember to not do too much too soon as it could feel like a breach of privacy. We’ve all thought our phones are listening to our conversations and felt like our personal lives have been somewhat invaded, this is not what you’re trying to achieve. It’s a fine line and our Experience team are experts at walking it.

 

Make it easier for customers to check out and pay

It’s one thing to build an incredible shopping journey with AR and 360-degree products, personalised recommendations and seamless transitions whilst browsing but it needs to be carried through to the cart and the checkout experience.

Customers want to get in, have an amazing experience and checkout. It needs to be easy and seamless and so many businesses fall down at this point. Ask too many questions, make it too hard to check out and don’t offer enough ways to pay.

For example, when shopping from an overseas business your customer may expect to be able to buy using their preferred local payment provider or in their local currency.

Additionally, customers are used to the ease of shopping on big online retailers like Amazon and ASOS. They save their customers’ billing and shipping information to make for a fast and easy checkout experience without a lot of data entry. Ecommerce websites are increasingly using payment options like Apple Pay, Paypal, and other financing options that enable a frictionless checkout.

Updating your payment provider with a company like Adyen makes doing this incredibly easy.  Being able to take payments from Apple Pay and Google Pay will help with those mobile shoppers and having repayment options like Klarna allow people the option to spread payments.

These are all things that help with conversion, could help increase the average cart value and keep customers coming back. To find out more about making this change, Eclipse can help too. We’re an authorised partner of Adyen and can help you make that checkout experience your customers want a reality.

 

Create Re-occurring Revenue Opportunities with Subscriptions

We’ve highlighted this before in an article we wrote recently. Recent research has shown that UK consumers now have on average seven subscriptions per household, spending around £46 a month or £552 a year.

During lockdown retail subscriptions jumped 50% with food boxes, wine and grooming leading the way.

In research conducted by Barclaycard, it was found that 8 in 10, that’s 82%, of retailers believe the popularity of subscription services increased during the lockdown as shoppers saw it as a way to take advantage of a safe and convenient way to receive everything from essential items such as groceries all the way through to entertainment.

By getting customers to sign up to a subscription service you’re allowing your product to become part of their routine. It becomes an expected part of the way they live their lives and for the most part, they stop looking at special offers or being distracted by competition for those products. As long as your product continues to shine through speedy delivery and always awesome quality, you’ve got a pretty good bet that you’re going to have a customer for life.

And if you needed more reason to consider it as a new business opportunity the research went on to find that 75% of retailers believe subscription services offer a more reliable and predictable source of income than a one-time charge model. Around 9 in 10 or 87% think subscription services allow their business to keep up with competitors or other brands that launch similar products and 82% also said that subscription services allow them to build customer relationships through increased contact.

These are some of the biggest emerging trends that we’ve spotted, and we’ll always continue our research and bring you the latest emerging trends as we find them. And if you would like to talk to us about anything you’ve read in this article, we’re here to chat it through and offer advice and as much help as we can.


The Time for Staying on Magento 1 Has Expired

This last weekend the largest hack campaign to date on Magento 1 stores took place. Nearly 2000 stores were targeted in a Magecart attack: injected malicious code would intercept the payment information of unsuspected store customers. Stores inspected by Sansec were found running Magento version 1, which was announced End-Of-Life in June of this year.

The Sansec early breach detection system, which monitors the global eCommerce space for security threats, detected 1904 distinct Magento stores with a unique keylogger (skimmer) on the checkout page. On Friday, 10 stores got infected, then 1058 on Saturday, 603 on Sunday and 233 on Monday.

Sansec has been monitoring this type of activity since 2015 and they’ve described it as the largest they’ve ever seen. The previous record was 962 hacked stores in a single day which happened in July last year.

This weekend’s incident highlights an increased sophistication and profitability of web skimming. Sansec has found that criminals have been increasingly automating their hacking operations to run web skimming schemes on as many stores as possible.

They’ve estimated that tens of thousands of customers had their private information stolen over the weekend via one of the compromised stores.

 

Magento Exploit Sold

Whilst their investigation is still ongoing, it appears that many victimised stores have no prior history of security incidents. It suggests that a new attack method was used to gain server (write) access to all these stores.

They believe this campaign might be related to a recent Magento 1 0day (exploit) that was put up for sale a few weeks ago.

 

What They Found

User z3r0day announced on a hacking forum the sale of a Magento 1 “remote code execution” exploit method, including an instruction video, for $5000.

It was alleged that no prior Magento admin account is required. Seller z3r0day stressed that - because Magento 1 is End-Of-Life - no official patches will be provided by Adobe to fix this bug, which renders this exploit extra damaging to store owners using the legacy platform.

In what was described as a deal sweetener, z3r0day pledged to only sell 10 copies of the dangerous exploit. Translated from Russian.

According to live Sansec data, some 95,000 Magento 1 stores are still operating as of today.

 

What to do now?

Some things can be done to mitigate the risk like using a malware and vulnerability scanner or finding third-party patch support, but there is really only one answer – you need to move to a platform that is ‘living’ and continues to provide security support.

For Magento 1 users, the obvious step is to migrate to Magento 2 Commerce or Magento 2 Open Source. This allows you to continue to work with a platform that feels familiar but benefit from the enhanced features and continued platform support from Adobe.

 

Eclipse is here to help

The good news is that we’re here to help you get secure and protect yourself from potential exploitations like the one that happened over the weekend, through taking advantage of gaps created by being end of life.

We’ve tailored a Magento solution for everyone, no matter where your start point in the market. It’s just about us getting together, discussing the options that will work best for your business and then working to get you accelerated toward success.

We have a history of both developing from new and re-platforming businesses with Magento. By working with us, you’re getting access to this experience and expertise.

Reach out to us and let’s start talking about how we can get your site moved and more secure.


AR and 3D Makes Shoppers More Likely To Buy

We’ve all seen the news; more and more people are shopping online and there seems to be no slowdown in that trend but how do you stand out from the crowd and what is going to give you that competitive advantage?

And beyond that, how do you mitigate other potential risks like an upsurge in returns due to people not getting that they thought they were when they bought it from your site?

The answer is surprisingly simple, and it involves your embracing technology.

In a recent survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Threekit, 60% of adults asked said they’re more likely to buy a product if it is shown in 3D or AR. It also found that many online shoppers felt that it would help them make more confident decisions.

Other key insights were:

  • 66% said that 3D/AR visuals would increase their confidence that they’re buying the right product.
  • 66% said they would be more interested in shopping on a website if it offered 3D/AR images.
  • 42% say they would pay more for a product if they could see it in 3D/AR.

These insights further confirm what we’ve talked about in our previous posts. In our article How is Augmented Reality Impacting Retail? We found that 71% of shoppers said that they would shop more often if they could use AR, 72% of shoppers that used AR in their shopping journey said they purchased stuff they didn’t plan to buy, simply because of the experience of using AR and 55% admitted that shopping with AR makes the experience more fun and exciting.

“These findings prove that consumers want 3D/AR,” said Ben Houston, Threekit’s founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO). “There is a growing gap between consumer demand and eCommerce technology preparedness. Although 3D and AR imagery has been around for a while, they’re underutilized by retailers due to its perceived complexity”

 

It's Not Complex At All

We’re here to tell you that this complexity that is being perceived does not exist. Adding these options to your shopping experience is easier than ever before and Eclipse can help you take care of it, end-to-end.

We’ve developed Ares, our Augmented Reality E-commerce Solution. It is what makes adding AR and 3D to your website seamless and easy.

Ares allows businesses to display exceptionally high-resolution 3D product models and interactive Augmented Reality replicas of their products for use in their online catalogues, directly in the browser, without the need for apps to be downloaded. This allows potential buyers to “try realistic products” in their own spaces, before committing to purchase.

We believe that better user experiences benefit everyone – from end-users and retailers – to the eCommerce market as a whole. In a world where the reliance on online shopping continues to rise and adapt, it has never been more vital to provide engaging, yet accurate information to potential shoppers.

Find out more about how Eclipse and Ares can lift your eCommerce game, give it a try and then talk to us about getting started.


The Smart Money Is On Offering Retail Subscriptions

We’ve all heard of them and there is a strong probability that you’ve got a few yourself. Subscriptions services are a convenient and safe way to get what you need, and it would appear that a large chunk of the UK agrees with this.

During lockdown retail subscriptions jumped 50% with food boxes, wine and grooming leading the way.

Recent research has shown that UK consumers now have on average seven subscriptions per household, spending around £46 a month or £552 a year.

I can attest to this myself. During the lockdown, I found myself in a situation where I was going to be consuming more coffee at home every day and a search led me to Grind, a coffee house in Shoreditch that offers a Nespresso compatible capsule of their awesome coffee delivered straight to my door as often as I want it. This was followed with a subscription to Gillette and their razor blades, a whole bunch of hygiene products like toothpaste and mouthwash through Amazon’s subscribe and save service and a subscription for clothes with Stitch Fix.

And as you can imagine a bunch of savvy retailers have jumped on this growing trend. Around a fifth of UK retailers have launched a subscription service during the lockdown, adding to the 30% of retailers that already had them in place.

It comes as little surprise that entertainment subscriptions lead the way but food and meal subscription services such as wine tasting kits and meal boxes are the second most adopted while health, wellbeing and grooming are also on the rise.

In research conducted by Barclaycard, it was found that 8 in 10, that’s 82%, of retailers believe the popularity of subscription services increased during the lockdown as shoppers saw it as a way to take advantage of a safe and convenient way to receive everything from essential items such as groceries all the way through to entertainment.

April saw a 50.2% increase year on year on digital content and subscription services showing that consumers are started seeing this as a reliable model during their lockdown period at home. And as mentioned before those savvy retailers jumped on the opportunity. 10% of retailer launched their first subscription service between March and June this year.

 

It’s About Creating Reoccurring Revenue

The research went on to find that 75% of retailers believe subscription services offer a more reliable and predictable source of income than a one-time charge model. Around 9 in 10 or 87% think subscription services allow their business to keep up with competitors or other brands that launch similar products and 82% also said that subscription services allow them to build customer relationships through increased contact.

By getting customers to sign up to a subscription service you’re allowing your product to become part of their routine. It becomes an expected part of the way they live their lives and for the most part, they stop looking at special offers or being distracted by competition for those products. As long as your product continues to shine through speedy delivery and always awesome quality, you’ve got a pretty good bet that you’re going to have a customer for life.

The top 5 reasons why consumers said the sign up for a subscription service are:

  • 52% - Exclusive content
  • 53% - Convenience
  • 48% - A personalised offering
  • 51% - Discovery of new brands or products
  • 44% - They make great presents

Kirsty Morris, the Managing Director for Account Development at BarclayCard payments said “Subscription services provide an exciting opportunity to engage consumers with products and services at home, whether that’s digital content or streaming services, meal kits, or more personalised offerings such as bespoke alcohol kits or on-demand exercise classes. For many retailers, this has meant adapting quickly to offer new products and services to respond to the growing demand.”

Mary Portas, Retail Consultant, Broadcaster and ‘Queen of Shops’ said “Subscriptions were already a vital tool for UK retailers prior to the pandemic, helping businesses to remain nimble and transport their product or experience direct to their customers’ homes. Due to the prolonged period of lockdown, the public has grown accustomed to the range of products on offer, as well as the ease at which they can be regularly surprised and delighted by the brands they care about.”

 

Offering Subscriptions, The Right Way

 The key is finding something that is going to get you noticed and offering something different to what others are already doing.

You know your products and your existing loyal customer base. What keeps them coming back and shouting your praises? Can it be packaged and offered to new customers, as well as those loyal existing customers in a way that is going to surprise and delight them and deliver your brand experience every time?

These are the things that need to be considered but you shouldn’t forget the first experience they’re going to have with you and that is your website.

Have you explained the offer in easy to understand steps and highlighted how the process is going to make your customers lives easier and more convenient? Are you doing a good job of explaining what they’re going to get and how often they’re going to get it and at what cost?

Then you need to consider the sign-up process, the editing of an existing subscription and the ability to find information if they’ve got a question. Is your existing payment provider optimised to be able to take reoccurring payments and deal with situations like credit cards that expire? Some things just get forgotten about when anyone starts to plan for new products coming to the market, but that is where we come in.

At Eclipse we’ve helped retailers take on new markets across the globe and expand their businesses into new areas with things like Market Place Integrations to their existing sites and the development and roll-out of some of the latest technologies including AR.

We know what makes a customer tick and we can help you launch new subscription products to the world. Creating a unique UI, UX and CX for every visitor as well as ensuring the backend is geared up and ready to make the process of buying and maintaining subscriptions, including the reoccurring payments, a breeze for you and your customers.

We’ve got teams of experts that can help in just about every area you can think of when it comes to selling things online and creating truly brilliant digital experiences, and they love talking to people and solving problems.

All you have to do is reach out to us and we can have a chat. We’re positive we can do great things together.


More Good News for Online Retail

It almost goes without saying but Covid-19 has really changed almost all aspects of our lives and one of the things that changed the most is how we shop.

When surveyed as part of the Big Ask Report, almost half of UK shoppers said that they believed the Pandemic would leave behind a lasting impact on their buying habits.

Research conducted by O2 Business in partnership with Retail Economics for the Report revealed that 44% of participants think they will see permanent changes to the way they shop, with many saying they expect to buy online more regularly.

The survey also showed that 47% of people think the number of times they shop online will definitely increase.

 

The Numbers Speak Volumes.

At the peak of the pandemic, around a third of consumers, 34%, said they bought essential and non-essential goods online but that is just the start.

The research also showed that 45% of customers have now purchased a product online that they had only ever purchased in-store before the pandemic.

Jo Bertram, managing director at O2 Business, said: "As a technology partner to the industry, we wanted to find out what the tectonic shifts have been in how people have engaged with each other over the last decade.”

He added, “The effect the lockdown has had to the way we buy has been significant, but they've accentuated these shifts more than redirected them."

49% of consumers now spend more time researching products online even as lockdown eases and when they make a purchase, 83% of consumers will opt for home delivery over click and collect.

Richard Lim, chief executive officer of Retail Economics, said: "The impact of Covid-19 has re-wired the customer journey, leaving many retailers scrambling to assess the impact as they attempt to realign their proposition to meet a new normal.

 

What Does This Mean For Retailers?

For years we've seen a significant shift towards online and some of these behaviours will inevitably become permanent, with digital playing an incredibly important role.

"Many of these consumers are shopping for goods online for the first time, overcoming the barriers of setting up online accounts, entering payment details and gaining trust.” Added Lim.

It is the job of the retailer to enhance these processes and make them as easy and pain-free as possible. The customer is out there wanting to participate but if they’re faced with barriers, they’ll head elsewhere.

"The new normal will involve a step-change in the integration of digital technologies and retailers are assessing what this means for the number of stores, where they should invest and the potential partnerships that could be formed."

Looking for ways to be more easily found, offering truly exceptional shopping experiences and using technology that allows you to stand out from the crowd are all things that retailers should be looking at.

Having a CRO (conversion rate optimisation) plan for your digital store that can continually work on the customer experience is a great place to start. It will give you insights into how customers are currently shopping with you and find opportunities to improve and fine-tune to deliver an uplift in conversion.

And looking into technology like Augmented Reality can help you stand out from the crowd. It offers customers the opportunity to bring your products into their homes and experience it in an ‘as close to the real thing’ as possible without the need to head into a store.

These things will help you prepare and take advantage of this shift change.

 

How Can Eclipse Help

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

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

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

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

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

And when it comes to Augmented Reality, Our Augmented Reality E-commerce Solution, Ares, changes the game and is all about enhancing the online shopping experience for the end-user. It is about lifting product images from standard 2D into something experiential and visually impactful, that truly brings product shopping online to life.

Ares is dedicated to leveraging the power of AR and 3D for so much more than entertainment – it exists as your next step for achieving peak eCommerce performance.

And the reason it is changing the game is that it works straight from the web browser or mobile device, no apps or downloads required. It can be plugged into any website or e-commerce platform and Ares works on the latest Android and iOS devices.

Ares is a full end-to-end AR service for retailers. You don’t need to be an AR expert to get the best out of Ares.

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


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

Covid-19 has disrupted and changed the way we live our lives. In particular, it has disrupted retail massively. In our blog posts, The Wheels of Change Continue to Roll for Retail and Our Shopping Habits Continue to Change, we highlighted the huge shift away from physical retail to online. Lockdown was a major driver for this but even with things starting to open up again, shopping is highly unlikely to return to pre-lockdown experiences. Social distancing and the measures that have come along with it have seen to that.

This has ultimately created both an opportunity and a challenge. With fewer people heading out to stores, retailers in all sectors have been forced to focus on their online shop fronts. They’ve had to find new ways of offering ‘in-store’ experiences online.

How do you stand out from the crowd and give customers an experience like no other? Help them understand what it is they’re buying before they buy it and remove any doubt that might come along with not being able to see and touch products before they buy them.

For some, this is less of a concern. Supermarkets have been selling products online for several years and there is less need to see and touch a can of beans before you buy it. You know what you’re getting, and you just throw it into the cart.

But what about those retailers selling big-ticket and physically large products? The good news is that technology is here to help you out. Augmented reality (AR) gives you what you need to be able to stand out from the crowd, let’s your customer experience your products in an as close to the real thing possible in the digital world and helps to relieve doubt and hesitation when it comes to clicking buy now.

For furniture, electronics and household accessories retailers, in particular, AR is a game-changer. Letting customers visualise products in their own space, making sure it’s the right size and fits with the décor of the room is a monumental shift from just having a few pictures, from different angles in a dressed set.

By offering AR you’re making your store more convenient to the customer, offering a truly unique experience that ultimately results in more sales and fewer returns.

 

Some Of The Biggest Players Are Already Doing It

For the longest time, people have been heading online to research products before they headed in-store to size them up. In this new normal, the second step of that process is becoming moot.

For thousands of people, their shopping experience begins and ends with online, but their expectations are for a better shopping experience than many are offering and those offering more, are succeeding.

Ikea heavily invested in Augmented Reality when they launched their Ikea Place app. It allows customers to do all the things we’ve been talking about. You browse the app, find the products and then try them in your space. It has been so successful for them that Digital Silk, a US-based Digital Agency voted them the most successful retailer during the coronavirus lockdown. It was because they were able to roll with the punches and “grow their eCommerce revenue”.

Ikea beat other retail giants including Nike, Lululemon and Steam to the top spot, with its eCommerce sales reaching 10 times their pre-pandemic levels in some markets.

Brabantia, known around the world for their kitchen accessories, has also successfully rolled AR into the shopping experience. I have used it whilst trying to figure out where to put a recycling and refuse bin into my kitchen. I didn’t want it to end up being too big or just the wrong size and shape. The convenience of their AR offering is that it happens directly from the website, without having to download an app I am likely to use once. Because let’s face it, how often are you shopping for a new kitchen bin?

And if you’re still not convinced it might be for your business, here are a few other things to consider. We curated a research paper on how augmented reality is impacting retail and some of the biggest callouts from it are:

 

  • 71% of shoppers said that 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.
  • 55% admitted that shopping with AR makes the experience more fun and exciting.
  • 40% of shoppers said that they are ready to pay more for a product if they were able to test it through AR first.

 

I’m Sold! How Do I Get It

 

The good news is that it’s easier than you think, the great news is you’re reading this on the blog of the creators of Ares, a market-defining AR solution for eCommerce.

What makes Ares so good is that our solution allows your customers to see what products will look true to size, without needing to break out the measuring tape or rearrange the living room, home office or bedroom. Just click the button on the browser from a phone and like magic, a digital version of the product appears before them. Incredibly detailed and lifelike, they can then get to decide where to put it.

And because the AR is embedded directly into the site it helps to remove any barriers for the customer trying to visualise the product and makes it a more seamless experience. No need to head off to an app store, get lost and then forgot what they were doing.

Ares is a total end to end solution for managing your AR models. If you need us to help create them, we can do that and then they’re loaded up ready to be placed wherever you’d like. Ares is totally platform agnostic and is designed to work with every eCommerce platform on the market. You can also place it anywhere on the site, it doesn’t have to just been stuck on the product page.

Writing a blog for a feature for the product? Stick in the AR experience. In fact, you’ll see that we’ve done exactly that below.

ACTIVATE AR

 

AR shouldn’t be seen as a nice-to-have, it’s a necessity. If you’re trying to keep up with the shifting eCommerce landscape and the demands of your customers, AR is the way to do it. Brands that adopt these new technologies now will be better positioned to thrive in the long run.

All that is left to do is take a closer look at Ares, then reach out and talk to us about how we can get it implemented on your digital store.


ICYMI – Magento 1 is EOL and if you’re still using it, you’re at risk

Thousands of online businesses could be opening themselves up to risks of cyberattack due to running an insecure version of Magento right now.

Magento 1 reached its End of Life (EOL) at the end of June this year and eCommerce experts across the board are warning of the risks opening up for online merchants that are now no longer receiving security patches to protect their sales systems.

But beyond just the security risks to the site, online stores still operating on Magento 1 could be at further risk by not being PCI compliant.

“In the run-up to EOL for Magento 1, many sought clarity from payment processors such as Visa, on how they would support merchants past the end date, and ultimately when they would stop taking payments from those on Magento 1," stated James Allen-Lewis, Development Director at Sonassi. He added, “Visa was very bullish in their initial statement, stating customers on Magento 1 needed to migrate across to Magento 2 immediately, in order to remain PCI compliant.”

PCI or Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard is compliance that all online traders need to be in line with. Not complying with your requirement commitment could mean you are banned from accepting cards and/or increased fees to process cards. Moreover, fines that can range from £3,000 to £60,000 depending on your bank's merchant account agreement may also be levied.

An announcement with the decision to shelve Magento 1 was made in September 2018, and Adobe gave websites nearly two years’ notice to migrate from the 12-year-old release line before it reached end-of-life status on June 30, 2020.

However, as at the end of June, there were still more than 200,000 websites operating on Magento 1.

Understandably, the arrival of the pandemic has meant many merchants are yet to migrate and any major platform migration needs to be considered but time is running out even faster than before.

Allen-Lewis highlighted the risk rather succulently “Losing PCI compliance or customers’ personal information is a disaster for online retailers that manage online card payments as it is highly likely they will become liable for the damages caused to their customers, as well as having to pay the costs of a PFI investigation.”

 

We’re Here To Help

Come talk to us and let’s see what we can do together. We’ve tailored a solution for everyone, no matter where the starting point in the market. It’s just about picking the right one for you and then we can get together and get you accelerated toward success.

We’re here to help you make the right choice for you. We unlock your trading potential, creating and supporting beautifully simple sites that are functionally rich and continually perform way above expectations. Our clients enjoy seamless access to the best analysts, experts and technical resources in the sector. We’re proud of what we do and we’re incredibly good at it (and it’s not just us saying that).

Across our UK and Polish offices, we employ certified specialists in operations, project management, analysis, development, user experience, conversion rate optimisation, design, testing and scrum technologies; to mention just the tip of the iceberg. We believe in our people and are committed to supporting our colleagues to be the best they can be. We’re hugely proud of our culture, our values, and the colleagues that make the magic happen. That’s why we talk about ourselves as the Eclipse family.

Come take a look at our Magento Packages as a starting point, we can talk them through and if we need to add a few other options to the mix, we can do that too.


What will it take to survive in the future of retail?

In an article written by Doug Stephens, the founder of Retail Prophet and the author of three books on the future of retail, for businessoffashion.com, he describes a future that any retailer will look at and in almost all cases, result in a shudder and deep pit forming in their stomach.

First, let me paint a picture that we’ll all be familiar with. Anyone who has seen the Disney Pixar masterpiece that is Wall•E may think back to it, and recall the story of overconsumption and disregard for the environment. This leads to the abandonment of the Earth, for life aboard a series of floating ‘paradises’ that further drove those aboard toward unquestioning consumption.

But the somewhat overlooked or underplayed element of that story is that it was driven by a single entity. Scattered across the opening scenes are references to a megacorporation, Buy-N-Large (BnL) that play themselves to be the hero’s having evacuated humanity leaving behind the solution that would clean the mess and make it safe to return.

In his article, he references other examples from the likes of Robocop, Aliens and Blade Runner but the underlying causation and resulting symptoms are the same.

You might be thinking ‘That was just fiction’, but life has a funny way of imitating art and what Doug so clearly points out in the article is that we’re on the verge of megacorporation’s taking over.

As he puts it “In a post-pandemic retail landscape, such corporations will no longer reside solely in novels or films. They will become a reality.”

Described as Apex Predators, the likes of Amazon, Walmart and Alibaba will emerge as “an entirely novel, genetically mutated species of retailer that faces few threats.” These businesses have been marching toward this for years, growing at rates that have bucked any and all trends, and Covid-19 has been the ultimate steroid for these businesses, pushing them toward domination whilst others seem to be falling in their wake.

“While many retailers swooned under revenue declines of up to 80%, these giants posted results deserving of a double-take.”

His article is worthy of a deep dive read and I would encourage you all to venture over and take a look at it, but the key takeaway for me was that this isn’t something that retailers should just lay down and let happen. What is required is evolution and adaption to the world we now have in front of us.

 

Embrace The Digital Age

Long before the pandemic took hold the world was on a steady trajectory toward living digitally. Shopping online has been increasing year on year for as long as it has been around, and the adoption of remoting working isn’t new. What Covid-19 did was push these forward at a rate not many were ready for.

Now, this is not to say that retail should shut up all physical shop fronts and put all their ‘eggs into one basket’ by thinking of their digital shopfront as the saviour but rather that the purpose they once served is over and that their place in the buyer's journey is transforming.

“The value of physical stores [are] as community gathering places, brand culture hubs and experiential playgrounds. It is, however, time to stop considering them an effective means of product distribution. Stores must become more about distributing experiences and less about distributing goods.”

What you consider your ‘store’ and what consumers consider your ‘store’ are two very different things. The consumers buying experience starts with the moment they engage with your content. Be that via Instagram, YouTube or TikTok.

And as Doug illustrates in the article “The apex predators have already accepted this reality by building commerce, finance, entertainment and streamlined logistics into every media experience hosted on their platforms.”

And he is very clear about what this means for businesses that underestimate the importance of this change.

“The moral of the story is that if you can’t serve your customers through every media touchpoint, you’re going to go out of business. If your brick and mortar stores are not creating vastly positive and memorable physical media experiences and brand impressions you’re going to go out of business. And if you can’t effectively weave these two, media and store, together in a way that removes buying friction and adds radical experiential value for customers, you’re going to go out of business.”

 

The Way Forward

To define a path to success and survival, you need to remember this. Your products need to be shoppable, purchasable and shippable every minute of every day. Plus, to stand out from these Apex Predators, you need to establish a vastly more distinct value proposition so that customers have something to buy into.

The type of experience you offer and how you offer it is more important now than ever.

 

The Retail Archetypes

In the article, Doug lays out what he sees as the 10 distinct retail archetypes that offer “a valuable and ownable market position”.

He explains each of them in detail, offering the risk and reward associated with their unique position and their points of difference. They are all worthy of consideration and I encourage time being taken to read and fully understand each of them. The one you pick will ultimately drive the strategy your business takes moving forward. I have listed them below with a very brief outline to give you a taster of each.

 

  1. The Renegade

Renegade retailers challenge incumbents in a market by identifying creative product or operations-related unlocks that radically alter the price-value equation.

 

  1. The Activist

Activist retailers use their businesses to support social, economic or environmental causes.

 

  1. The Storyteller

Storyteller retailers are those that grow so large, ubiquitous and iconic they supersede their own product category and spend the majority of their time creating compelling content.

 

  1. The Artist

Artist retailers very often sell products that are similar or even identical to those of other retailers, but through their sheer creativity and capacity for stagecraft they design experiences around those products that are highly unique

 

  1. The Tastemaker

Tastemaker retailers are those whose products or brands are not necessarily unique but may indeed be more difficult to find.

 

  1. The Oracle

The oracle retailer is one who delivers unparalleled expertise within a specific category.

 

  1. The Concierge

Concierge retailers are those that deliver highly personalised and engaging experiences to their shoppers.

 

  1. The Clairvoyant

The clairvoyant retailer is one that uses both technology and human intuition to actually predict needs, preferences and desires on the part of its customers and proactively present products on that basis.

 

  1. The Engineer

Engineer retailers figure stuff out. They use technology to solve product or service design problems that elude other brands.

 

  1. The Gatekeeper

Gatekeeper retailers are those that maintain a position through regulatory or financial barriers to entry.

 

Whichever you think might be right for your business, the underlying principle will be the experience that is being offered to them and as previously stated your products need to be shoppable, purchasable and shippable every minute of every day.

Creating a truly seamless, utterly unique online shopping experience for your business that your customers can engage with is a really good starting point. Because when push comes to shove, you still need to be able to sell your product to a customer and making that an easy and enjoyable experience will be what helps you succeed.

It is one thing to have engaging content that drives emotional engagement getting people on board with the idea of your brand and your products, but then offering them a purchase journey that throws them into digital experiences that create roadblocks or barriers, is counterintuitive.

Optimising your existing journey through Conversion Rate Optimisation or designing an entirely new one with User Experience Design are investments that can’t be ignored. And the use of the latest advancements in technology like Augmented Reality all cement your place in the market and offer experiences that allow you to stand out from the crowd.

In the same what that you might spend time and money investing in store fit-outs or training of staff to offer a better in-store experience for customers, the same thinking needs to be applied to your digital store. Just sticking a website up with all your stuff on it isn’t going to cut it. And trying to fix it by spending huge money on well-crafted marketing campaigns is a road to nowhere.

Although it isn’t an example of a digital store, the Fyre Festival is the prime example of what happens when you talk an excellent game with marketing and then fail to deliver on the other side.

 

We’re Here To Help You

At Eclipse, this is what we do. We’ve been building digital experiences for a long time and we pride ourselves on making them beautifully simple.

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

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

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


Our Shopping Habits Continue to Change

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the number of goods sold in June increased by 13.9% from May. This meant UK retail sales were near pre-lockdown levels again.

However, the rise isn’t all sunshine and butterflies, behind the numbers were big changes in the world of retail. Food and Online Sales up, whilst clothing is continuing to struggle.

The shining light that can be taken from the report is the continued growth that Online is seeing. It is going from strength to strength, accounting for £3 out of very £10 spent by consumers.

Jonathan Athow, ONS Deputy National Statistician told the BBC “We’ve had record online sales” and the £3 out of £10 was “a really big increase”.

Although the proportion of online spending reduced to 31.8% in June from 33.3% in May, it is still a considerable increase from the 20% in February and presents an opportunity for businesses to help drive their recovery as we move into what has been coined by many as “The New Normal”.

As we’ve mentioned before, 41% of respondents answered that they were “currently shopping online for things they would normally shop for in-store.”, and all things point to this being a continued and sustainable shopping habit taking hold.

This was confirmed in a release by YouGov. They noted that 39% of people say they would use online shopping and/or delivery even though physical retail has opened up again. Online shopping is now a way of life for many, it is going from being a necessity to a preference.

In an interview with the BBC, Hellen Stirling-Baker, owner of Small Stuff, a Sheffield-based independent retailer, spoke about her move to online during the lockdown.

“Driving my store online is how I have been able to survive,” she said. But she took it one step further and tried to create a little of what people might have been missing.

“Offering face-to-face video calling for customers to recreate the in-store experience has been crucial and sales are picking up” she continued “I’ve also added new services such as local delivery by hand, which really boosts engagement.

This is something that all retailers can and absolutely should be doing. Re-opening with social distancing measures in place will start to help physical retail but there are a huge number of people that aren’t able to or are unwilling to return to retail stores. Their option is online, and you need to be there to be part of the action.

In the same release by YouGov, it was indicated that 64% of people want to support local businesses and buy local products, this doesn’t only mean by walking into physical stores, it extends to online shopping.

Think Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams and this now attributed to history misquote – “If you build it, they will come” (the original being ‘If you build it, he will come’). Either way, local people want to support local people and by giving current and future customers more ways to interact with you, it can only be a good thing.

And if you’re now thinking, “Great, I’m sold. But how am I going to get my store online?” Well, we can help with that too.

At Eclipse we’ve been building digital experiences for a long time and we pride ourselves on making them beautifully simple. We unlock your trading potential, creating and supporting beautifully simple sites that are functionally rich and continually perform way above expectations. Our clients enjoy seamless access to the best analysts, experts and technical resources in the sector. We’re proud of what we do and we’re incredibly good at it (and it’s not just us saying that).

We’ve tailored a solution for everyone, no matter where the start point in the market is. Take a look at what we have on offer and reach out so we can help you launch your new digital shop front.


The Wheels of Change Continue to Roll for Retail.

Heraclitus, the pre-Socratic Ionian Greek philosopher noted that “The only constant in life is change” and I’m sure we can all agree that he absolutely knew what he was talking about.

As we look at the climate and situation we find ourselves in right now, social distancing is becoming part of the ‘new normal’ and everyone has to change the way they work, shop and generally live their lives. There are bound to be knock-on effects and these are becoming more and more evident every day in the world of retail.

Just this morning T.M.Lewin announced that they are to close all 66 of their shops across the UK, moving their entire focus online after not reopening any of their stores when restrictions were lifted earlier this June. And they follow in the footsteps of other major household names that have done the same. This January Bose announced that they were to close its entire retail store footprint in North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia.

In March this year, Oasis and Warehouse closed their operations in the UK, 92 stores and 437 concessions were terminated with the business falling into administration before their online business was rescued by BooHoo, the online-only fashion retailer.

But this trend of closing stores is happening for businesses that are slimming down their footprint too. Debenhams, Aldo, Monsoon, Accessorize, Harveys Furniture and Laura Ashely are amongst the many retailers realigning their business model by closing a number of their outlets.

The Centre for Retail Research has indicated that “More retailers operating from physical stores have closed stores so far (to June 2020) this year and made employees redundant than in the whole of 2019, which was 'the worst year for 25 years'.”

But it is not all doom and gloom out there. In our blog, E-Commerce Statistics That Are More Relevant Now Than Ever Before, there was a 21% increase in online orders in March 2020 vs March 2019, and in a survey, they conducted with over 3,000 members of the Influenster community, 41% of respondents answered that they were “currently shopping online for things they would normally shop for in-store.”

Shopping habits have been changing for a while and the shift to online is something we have been seeing grow year on year, but COVID sped this adoption up a lot and as people had no other choice but to reach out into the online world to stay connected and fulfil their shopping needs, a lot of consumers are not looking back.

As an early adopter myself, I remember purchasing electronics from the website letsbuyit.com where products were put to market and once a minimum number of orders were hit, products were purchased, and orders completed.

This was all the way back in the late ’90s when very few people bought anything on the internet, let alone big-ticket items.

And I’m such an early adopter, that I remember what ASOS was set up to sell, and what those 4 letters stand for. In fact, I still have things in my wardrobe that I purchased from them in their original form. Here’s hoping early 2000 fashion makes a comeback.

This year alone, I have purchased a high-end Canon DSLR, a TV, a 3-piece suit, a large format printer and Apple products all online, without ever having seen them in a store. What people are calling the ‘new normal’ is just my normal.

In fact, since the lockdown started in the UK until today, I have not stepped foot into a retail store. Everything that I have bought has been done online.

If a business has not moved toward creating a digital shopping experience for their existing and future customers, now is the time to do it. All attention is focused online, and you’ve got to be there to be seen.

And although it might seem like the lockdown is easing and things are starting to open up again, we only have to look at Leicester and Melbourne in Australia to see that things are not going to be that black and white. At any point, areas of the UK could see localised lockdowns.

If you think you might have products that won't sell online, you’re missing a trick. Advances in technology are making it easier for people to have truly unique and in some cases better than instore experiences. Ares, our Augmented Reality E-commerce Solution allows sellers to add full AR models of their products to their website to help consumers experience products in their own homes. You can try on sunglasses, hang a picture on the wall or place furniture onto your homes with nothing more than a mobile phone.

At Eclipse we’ve been building digital experiences for a long time and we pride ourselves on making them beautifully simple. We unlock your trading potential, creating and supporting beautifully simple sites that are functionally rich and continually perform way above expectations. Our clients enjoy seamless access to the best analysts, experts and technical resources in the sector. We’re proud of what we do and we’re incredibly good at it (and it’s not just us saying that).

We’ve tailored a solution for everyone, no matter where the start point in the market is. Take a look at what we have on offer and reach out so we can help you launch your new digital shop front.


For those of you wondering, ASOS originally stood for AsSeenOnScreen with the tagline "Buy what you see on film and TV" because it exclusively sold imitations of clothing from those mediums (for example, Brad Pitt's red leather jacket from the 1999 movie Fight Club).