The new Marks & Spencer website, two years in the making, is a feast for the eyes. As a replatform, it cost a lot of money and accompanies other changes such as an upgraded contact centre and new in-store tech and merchandising.
In this first look at the site, I'll be pointing out the most obvious changes and discussing why it's a step change and effectively gives the impression of 'luxe high street' online.
What stands out is the focus on visuals, a curated experience with magazine-style editorial, and a user experience that’s particularly impressive on tablet. This isn’t a surprising approach given that 44% of Christmas traffic to the website was from tablets and the brand is moving to a ‘lean back’ experience online for those that want it.
I’ll be following this post with more discussion of the new site and its various features that could be set to revitalise the brand across devices (the M&S mobile site and its apps have been updated, too).
When a good idea comes along in retail and digital there are soon many, many start-ups getting in on the action.
Take loyalty apps for example. Loyalty is a big beast. Many types of company may consider it part of their remit, from digital payment solutions, to social-style check-ins, to group buying sites, or indeed a retailer’s own app.
I’ve previously looked at the state of apps in retail and found that using loyalty schemes is pretty much the major rationale for customers using a retail app.
Whether customers will settle on retailers’ own apps or on a generic loyalty scheme provider (perhaps lumped with payment) remains to be seen.
But of those tens of consolidated loyalty apps, which are the best? Here’s the list of five I think are most interesting. Whether mobile wallets such as PayPal and Google Wallet will buy them up remains to be seen but the space seems set to get richer before it gets poorer.
Conversion optimisation is great, but to some extent it works on the premise that customers know what they’re looking for. Ok, checkouts, calls to action, merchandising should always be finessed, but optimisation is a means of squeezing more from specific intent.
But what if moving the customer towards the magpie psyche is the future of selling online?
A new ecommerce model is emerging and it works on the premise that customers can be encouraged to ‘bag at will’. All retailers need to do is surface rarer, quality products that are socially proven and most importantly look great.
Some of Australia’s biggest retailers have recently spoken out at a conference in Melbourne saying that while selling online has the benefit of lower overheads, it is not yet as profitable as traditional bricks-and-mortar retailing.
Australia’s online sporting and physical recreation goods industry is expected to hit a huge $1.04 billion by 2018, thanks in large part to a changing retail landscape and an ageing population.
A new IBISWorld report has forecasted that online stores selling goods such as bicycles, camping equipment, exercise and fitness tools (excluding apparel) will see revenue increase by an annualised 6.3% over the next five years.
And one of the reasons for this expected rise in revenue is Australia’s ageing population, who are focusing more on health and fitness after retirement.
Australian consumers are shying away from international online retailers if the recent NAB Online Retail Sales Index is anything to go by.
Domestic retail accounted for almost three-quarters (73%) of total online sales in Australia in January 2013, and domestic online retail sales saw a higher year-on-year growth than international, rising 28% vs 25%.
It seems China has some of the keenest online shoppers in the Asia-Pacific region, with Chinese consumers more likely purchase online than any other APAC country.
A new Mastercard study measured consumers’ tendencies to shop online between November and December 2012 and found that Chinese internet users shop online the most, registering a score of 102 on Mastercard’s Index for 2012, a figure that is up four points on the year prior.
According to the report, one of the main reasons for this rise in online shopping popularity in China is due to increased consumer confidence. Of those surveyed, only 21.4% felt unsecure when shopping online, down from 32.8% in 2011 and 35.3% in 2010.
Woolworths has been named the top retail brand in Australia for the second year running, beating out supermarket competitor Coles by almost a billion dollars.
Interbrand’s 2013 Best Retail Brands report, which ranks the top retail brands around the world by value, placed Woolworths brand value at $4.57 billion, an increase of 9% on the year prior.
It seems that online catalogues have a long way to go when it comes to engaging customers, as only 11% of Australians currently read catalogues online.
According to research conducted by the Australian Catalogue Association (ACA) in the lead up to Christmas 2012, more than 70% of Australians over the age of 14 prefer to read printed catalogues than online versions.
Australians spent $504m on group buying sites in 2012, a rise of 1.4% on the year prior, leading some industry experts to predict that group buying is here to stay.
According to a new Telsyte study, in Q4 2012 Australians spent more than $130m on group buying sites and the combined revenues of the top five deal sites saw a growth of more than 9% year-on-year.
Groupon and Scoopon showed the strongest performances, seeing a combined 40% year-on-year rise.