I’ve been keeping a close eye on innovation in the ecommerce sector for more than a decade now, and it seems to me that we're living in exciting times. We have hit some kind of purple patch.
Why is this? Well, ecommerce has massively matured. It's big business. Digital teams are smarter, and more agile. Sexy new tech such as HTML5, CSS3 and jQuery allow for sublime user experiences.
As such I wanted to raise a toast to innovation by highlighting a bunch of - hopefully inspiring - examples to you.
But first, a massive caveat: I would severely and mercilessly beat a few of these sites with a big best practice stick. There are product pages with missing information. There are search boxes with tiny fonts. There are usability issues galore.
Secondly, for ecommerce sites, it is all about the data. If you’re not constantly testing, measuring and refining, then you aren’t doing it right. What works for one brand might not work so well for another.
All of that aside, the ecommerce teams that take chances and push the boundaries of are to be applauded. Guidelines are precisely that: guidelines. Rules are there to be broken. And innovation is always to be encouraged, even when it doesn’t work out.
So let's take a look at some ecommerce websites (and one mobile app) that are trying new things, and that are noteworthy for their approach to the user experience. Click on the screenshots to check them out for yourself, and do let me know what you think.
Search advertising has come to dominate performance marketing over the last decade, with advertisers seeing amazing returns from targeting messages at consumers based on their intent.
If a consumer is searching for ‘best golf clubs’ it’s a pretty safe assumption that they’re in purchasing mode and likely to be interested in an advert promoting golf clubs.
But, any search marketer will tell you that one of its weaknesses is that you have to use a degree of guesswork when it comes to audience characteristics.
In the example above, if you knew the consumer was a female then your advertising creative would be far more powerful if it promoted just clubs for ladies. The trouble with search is that unless someone is very specific in their search term, you’re forced to make assumptions.
Ecommerce is simple. That’s the premise of this post, which follows on from ‘finding your best products’. The heart of ecommerce is finding your best products and your best customers, in the pursuit of most profit.
The old mail-order mantra of ‘recency, frequency and monetary value’ (RFM) is still useful here. Categorising your customers based on an RFM matrix is the start of identifying your hero customers, and those that need a little more attention.
These posts have been taken from a talk given by Mike Baxter, Econsultancy long-time friend and consultant (author of the Checkout Optimisation guide, amongst other things), at a recent breakfast briefing with Ometria.
Let’s see what Mike had to say…
I’ve worked with many clients (and on my own sites) where avoidable structural/data problems add unnecessary complexity to website management.
I say avoidable because they’re usually a result of not asking the right questions upfront before the site is built. It’s a tough task to cover all bases for an ecommerce platform because there are so many factors in play that can affect elements like on-site UX, business reporting, data flows and SEO.
In my experience, it’s a continuous learning curve, picking up insight from specialists along the way to build a (hopefully) thorough knowledge base of what information you need to effectively build a website, what format the data needs to be in and what it needs to do e.g. data field X in the CMS drives site search results.
Ecommerce is simple. Don’t let anyone trouble you with thoughts on mobile, social or personalisation. The beating heart of ecommerce is the triangulation of data and uniting your best products with your best customers to make the most profit.
I had the pleasure of listening to Mike Baxter, an Econsultancy long-time friend and consultant (author of the Checkout Optimisation guide, amongst other things), talking about data triangulation at a recent breakfast briefing with Ometria.
Mike detailed his deceptively simple philosophy of selling online and I thought it worthwhile to put his thoughts down in full, over a couple of posts. Everything you read in these posts comes out of Mike’s presentation.
I think it’s worthwhile dwelling on this idea of knowing your products and customers ahead of anything else. Ultimately it’s the nub of your site design but also your marketing efforts including media spend.
As marketers start to join up data sources, they need to be wary of jumping the gun, trying to stitch up remarketing, social CRM, personalization, before they’ve truly looked at optimising product mix and display.
Here’s what Mike had to say…
Third party trust logos are used on most ecommerce sites, with the intention of reassuring potential customers that they can shop safely with the retailer in question.
There are a lot to choose from, and a recent Baynard has looked into which logos are most trusted by US shoppers.
In this post, I'll take a look at the test and the results, as well as whether we need trustmarks on ecommerce sites at all...
Search results pages on travel sites should help customers to find the best deal for them without having to work too hard.
Last year I looked at a range of search tools from travel websites, which highlighted the importance of flexibility when users search for travel.
Time spent searching for flights recently has reminded me of the value of excellent search results pages, and here I look at several examples, good and bad.
For this I'm looking at flight search, but the lessons apply equally to hotel and general holiday search.
One of the best ways to make your visitors convert is by serving them the coolest stuff!
Don’t push them into an overly complicated buying process if you’ve figured out that people who see your style guide are converting at 10x the rate of those who don’t!
Once you’ve controlled for other influences, push your visitors towards your content and watch your revenue fly.
So, how are you going to get them there then?
Everyone knows that cart abandonment is a universal fact for all ecommerce retailers, with 70% of consumers abandoning before a sale.
It’s a big problem and I wanted to see how well the UK’s top ecommerce brands carry out cart recovery.
They all do it really well, right?
Last year Econsultancy published an article claiming that some businesses doubt the value of personalisation.
Although 94% of companies agree that personalisation ‘is critical to current and future success’ less than half of companies are personalising their website experience.
This isn’t because they think personalisation is unimportant, but because they don’t actually know how to make the most of it.
However, even the smallest of companies can target their consumers directly using personalised content.