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eCommerce

Discounting drives online purchasing decisions

Two thirds of Britons have made an online shopping decision based purely on a discount that was available, with 80% of 18-31 year olds admitting to the practice.

A study, by global affiliate network Awin, has found that found that 66% of Britons have used a price comparison site in the past six months, whilst 59% have used an online voucher code in the same time frame, with a further 66% admitting to using any form of affiliate service to make an online purchase.

What’s more, almost half of consumers (47%) see the importance of bloggers and specialist websites to help inform their online purchases.

The survey polled 2,250 people over the age of 18.

The report found that more than half of online shoppers have interacted with an affiliate service in the past six months, and the findings were echoed by the results of the survey, which found that as many as 66% of Britons have used an affiliate service in the past six months, predominantly though the use of online voucher codes or price comparison sites, used by 59% and 66% respectively.

Online voucher codes were most popular amongst 18-31 year olds, with 67% using one in the past six months, whilst price comparison sites were most popular for 32-45 year olds, with 75% visiting one in the last half a year.

In terms of the savings made by consumers through an affiliate channel, 90% of those that have used an online voucher code said that they saved money in the process, whilst 88% of those that used a price comparison site admitted to the same.

The importance attached to affiliate sites was also looked at, and it was found that 85% of respondents answered that price comparison sites were ‘somewhat important’, ‘very important’ and ‘extremely important’, whilst 81% answered the same in reference to online discount code sites.

Almost half of respondents (47%) said that they saw the importance of bloggers and specialist websites when buying online, and 52% answered the same in relation to cashback sites.

Consumer online shopping habits were also explored, with it being found that 67% of all respondents had impulsively purchased a product online based on the fact that it was discounted. 18-31 year olds were found to be the most impulsive, with 80% admitting they have made last minute purchasing decisions based on markdowns alone.

It was found that 72% of consumers first use a search engine to begin their online shopping journey, particularly older shoppers, with 80% of 46-59 year olds admitting to this. Conversely, 30% of 18-31 year olds would look on social media to begin with, compared to 10% of all participants. Consumers were found to be more likely to visit a comparison site first (9%) than they were to visit Amazon (8%).

Online voucher codes were most likely to be used when purchasing fashion products online, with one third (33%) saying they were ‘extremely likely’ to use one when buying clothes, whilst comparison sites were most likely used for travel, with 77% revealing they were ‘extremely likely’ to utilise them when booking a holiday.

The report found that 60% of airline sales on desktops are driven by price comparison sites, and users will visit an average of 38 different websites before committing to an online travel purchase.

Commenting on the findings of the study, Kevin Edwards, Group Client Strategy Director at Awin, said: “Whilst consumers might not even realise it, affiliate channels are often a core part of purchasing products online, and are a much more user-friendly way of advertising a product. Whilst those of us in the industry are already aware of its widespread manifestation, this survey shows how important affiliate channels are for online shopping and ecommerce.”

GUEST BLOG: How will Brexit affect eCommerce?

Brexit brings a wave of uncertainty and change to the UK business landscape, and since the day the UK voted to leave the EU, it’s been a whirlwind.

But what will the landscape look like leading up to, and after Brexit? What kind of impact will it have on eCommerce, especially smaller sellers just starting up?

With thousands of startups launching each year, will the looming shadow of Brexit threaten the livelihood of new businesses and discourage people from starting out?

Khaos Control delves into what the future looks like for both new and established eCommerce businesses, with the recent Brexit upheaval…

The recent rejection of the withdrawal deal has left so many (un)expected changes and regulations on the horizon. The public is left wondering what the next steps are, with the chance of a no deal impending. Although nothing can be predicted for sure, knowing what may be in store will allow retailers and businesses alike to prepare and adapt to a post-Brexit reality. Here are a few areas that eCommerce sellers will need to consider now and in the future:

Tariffs

The import of goods due to tariffs is an area predicted to be affected post-Brexit. As an EU member, Britain has always had the luxury of free trade with the EU, and other EU enabled countries such as Norway, Switzerland, South Korea and Africa. However, with Brexit underway, eCommerce sellers currently importing goods from the EU, or selling to customers in the EU, may see tariffs and additional taxes on goods occur. Business for Britain estimates tariffs costing British exporters £7.4 billion a year. SME’s shouldn’t see too much of an impact as fees would likely be the problem for the customer you’re sending goods to, unless you decide to pay these import fees beforehand (which isn’t recommended). If you’re a larger eCommerce enterprise, some consideration and planning will need to occur to ensure you’re ready for the tariffs and fees coming your way.

Increase of sales in Europe

With the value of the British pound dropping to become one of the worst performing currencies worldwide, imports to the UK have become more expensive, whilst  British goods and exports have become cheaper to shoppers in Europe. In the case of eCommerce platform XSellco, their UK clients boosted their sales by 49%, with European customers making up 15.5% of total sales a month, up from 12.8% the year before.

In light of this, UK seller’s, should consider European marketplaces and ensure their eCommerce store has auto-translation features, as well as the ability to support multiple currencies.

Order fulfilment

For UK eCommerce sellers who sell products to consumers outside of the UK, the changes in value-added tax will have an impact. If the UK leaves the EU with no Brexit deal, businesses would no longer have to collect VAT from sales to customers in the EU. No VAT means prices would most likely be lower for products, however, fulfilment and shipping may be slower. This is because of cross-channel trade disruptions like customs and product conformity procedures.

Deal or no deal, putting a solution in place to help with fulfilment is advisable, in order to make the process easier either way. A software system will implement structure and automation into day-to-day business, speeding up the packing and shipping process, as well as ensuring your business delivers to customers as quickly as possible, which is both advantageous in light of Brexit and also favourable by current and future customers.

Searching closer to home

With the overwhelmingly negative press surrounding Brexit, it’s safe to say a lot of UK shoppers may start to feel uncertainty with looking abroad for the best deals. As a UK eCommerce business, you may well see your UK sales increase as a result of Brexit, as customers are looking closer to home for deals in fear of tariffs or hidden costs that they may be forced to pay for themselves.

If you’re a seller located in the UK reevaluating your marketing campaigns to target British customers would be a valuable move. You could use key British holidays to attract customers to your products or use seasonal cues to encourage more of a British audience. Also evaluating your competitors is key, because while UK shoppers may be more inclined to buy products from those close by, they won’t be afraid to find the best deals and shop around.

Lack of skilled workers

Another possible consideration for eCommerce businesses is a shortage of skilled workers. Brexit could introduce new visa requirements and other limitations, which would make it much more difficult for businesses to outsource workers from the EU, with working visa requirements both a challenging and time-consuming process. This could be especially challenging for businesses that require staff to have skills such as speaking in more than one language. In 2016, it was reported that more than 80% of the adult working-age population within the EU, knew one or more foreign languages. With reported stats, it seems some changes may need to be made for those businesses that outsource workers from the Eurozone, as outsourcing multi-lingual customer service will only become more expensive. Increased labour costs will also contribute to the price customers will pay for a product or service, and in turn affect the supply chain.

For eCommerce businesses worried about Brexit, planning for potential pitfalls is key. Despite all we know about Brexit, there are still changes to come that can’t be predicted till they happen, so preparing for potential issues (or gains) is best to ensure when the time comes, Brexit doesn’t rock your business boat too much.

Marks & Spencer launches Style Finder photo search

Marks & Spencer launched Style Finder, a photo search feature on its mobile website, enabling shoppers to discover a desired look in what it says is ‘just a couple of taps’.

Customers can upload an existing photo or take a new one of any outfit to reveal similar-looking products available at M&S, offering a quick and easy way to shop online.

M&S says whether they are inspired by fashion finds on social media, an outfit in a magazine or a product in-store, the new feature helps them find what they’re looking for in less than 10 seconds.

The tool uses artificial intelligence to display results with the closest-match. Customers can add additional filters to help them find a product based on personal preferences, such as size, price and colour.

The initiative is part of M&S’s ‘digital-first’ strategy, which aims for a third of all Clothing & Home sales to be online by 2022.

The visual search technology has been developed with Syte and is available on M&S.com using mobile devices.

For the initial roll-out, Style Finder is available across womenswear and menswear and customers can easily navigate and filter through thousands of M&S products.

With 75% of all M&S’s online visits coming from mobile and tablet devices, the retailers says Style Finder offers a completely new and enhanced shopping experience for busy customers who seek wardrobe inspiration while on the go.

Jim Cruickshank, Head of Digital Product and UX at M&S, said: “We know our customers are busier than ever and are often most inspired when they’re out and about. Style Finder helps customers instantly find what they’re looking for, without the need to manually search and filter through our products.

“Enhancing the customer experience is central to our digital transformation journey. This is a brilliant example of how we’re becoming more relevant, more often, to our customers who are increasingly shopping online and in particular using mobile devices.”

Brits to spend £25bn shopping on their phones in 2019

Price comparison website uSwitch has found that Brits are likely to spend a whopping £25 billion pounds on their phones and tablets in 2019.

30 million Brits are predicted to use their phones or tablets for shopping over laptops or desktop computers this year – a massive rise of 66% – than in 2018.

Other stats reveal that half of those polled (58%) would buy online using a smart device rather than make a journey to a shopping centre (56%), with two thirds (66%) admitting shopping on smart devices was convenient and 36% saying it saved them money.

Clothes are the most popular item bought online (69%), followed by books (51%) groceries (47%) and theatre/cinema tickets (43%).

Amazon and eBay topped the polls for the most popular website destinations for shoppers at 89% and 63% respectively, followed by Argos (41%), Tesco (35%), M&S (25%), Asda (25%), Sainsbury’s (22%), John Lewis (20%) and Curry/PC World (17%).

Being comfortable is a major factor too, with 78% of those polled admitting to shopping on their phone in the living room. 14% admitted using the phone to shop at work, along with 8% on the daily commute.

Surprisingly, the bathroom is the preferred place of phone shopping for those under the age of 35, with 14% admitting they did so over the kitchen as a location (13%).

Ru Bhikha, mobiles expert at uSwitch.com, said: “For so many of us now, our smartphone is an extension of our hand and we have it with us at all times, meaning that we can shop whenever and wherever we like. Our handsets allow us to window shop all the time, and if we see something we like, it is right there at our fingertips.

“With smartphone and tablet shopping now a £25 billion industry, it’s hardly surprising that major retailers have long adopted a mobile-first approach to their websites and have even introduced their own apps to make the user experience as easy as possible. Cleaner user journeys and the ease of one-click purchasing will only add to the number of people shopping on their phones and tablets.

“Providing your phone has a decent connection to either a good broadband supply or 3G or 4G, you can shop any time and any place – and this year more Brits than ever look set to take advantage of that.”

BrandJump creates Amazon division

Los Angeles-based BrandJump has announced the launch of a new Amazon division as the ecommerce sales and marketing company continues its push into the home furnishings sector.

The company has built a reputation for enhancing the online presence of brands across more than 50+ retail channels, including Wayfair, One Kings Lane, YDesign Group and Overstock, specialising in home furnishings and décor, including furniture, decorative lighting, textiles, outdoor living and accessories.

“When we started BrandJump, we observed that most internet retailers were being fragmentally managed by manufacturer sales representatives and were not being serviced properly,” said Josh Walter, CEO.

“The opportunity for internet retailers to use technology to scale their efforts became apparent early on, and it quickly became clear to us that manufacturers needed to centralize the management of this emerging channel.”

With an objective of maximising brand awareness and revenue in the online space, BrandJump develops and implements customised ecommerce strategies for their clients’ brands and acts as an ecommerce arm for their respective businesses, recommending online channels that are an appropriate fit and works with them to elevate their positioning in the areas of merchandising, creative content, and marketing.

“What makes us most unique is our in-depth knowledge of the ecommerce channel derived from a team of experts who originally came from the likes of Wayfair, Target, Amazon, YDesign Group, and One Kings Lane, to name a few,” said Walter. “Our team has a deep understanding of how to align our clients’ brands and their respective voices with each retailer’s specific go-to-market strategy.”

According to Walter, having successfully created strong partnerships with many of the leading online retailers for the home furnishings space, creating an Amazon-specific channel was a natural progression for BrandJump. Amazon captures 50 percent of total online purchases in the US, and 80 percent of consumers research products on Amazon before buying anywhere else.

“Amazon is a complex and competitive marketplace, and only a thoughtful strategy will drive growth while minimizing conflict in other channels,” said Walter. “While Amazon may not be a fit for all of our clients, our expertise brings a thorough understanding of the channel that helps guide our clients in making the most informed decisions for their brand.”

Multiple retailers ‘out-perform’ over Christmas period

A significant number of retailers are posting upbeat sales figures during the Christmas period, including Selfridges, Next, John Lewis, Aldi and Dunelm.

Selfridges revealed what it called a ‘record-breaking’ Christmas trading period, with sales up by eight per cent in the final week before Christmas and up 10 per cent in its Oxford Street flagship store during the 24 days prior to Christmas, driven it aid by exclusive products.

Meanwhile, supermarket Aldi reported its ‘best-ever Christmas period’, with sales topping £1 billion in December as a whole, fuelled in part by 17 million bottles of wine, champagne and prosecco sold.

Homeware specialist Dunelm reported a 5.7 per cent increase is sales for the 13-week period ended December 29th, with total like-for-like revenue in its second quarter up a 9 per cent and online revenue up 37.9 per cent.

High street fashion retailer Next reported a sales growth of 1.5% for the last two months of 2018, with a spike in sales from the last three weeks of December, helping to save the chain and Christmas blushes.

However, there was a stark contrast between the store’s brick and mortar premises and online operation, with sales down 9.2% in the High Street, compared with a jump in website sales of 15.2%.

Lower profit margins have now been forecast as a result of fulfilling web orders, bringing annual profit down by £4m to £723m, with predictions of profits falling again Christmas 2019.

“Full price sales for the Christmas trading period have been in line with the guidance we gave in September,” the Next chief executive, Simon Wolfson, said. “Strong sales in the three weeks prior to Christmas along with a good half-term holiday week at the end of October made up for disappointing sales in November.”

Department store chain John Lewis also reported a strong finish to retail sales through the Christmas period as customers made late buying decisions, with an 11% rise in sales in the last week of 2018 compared to sales this time last year.

Attention will now focus on competitors Debenhams and Marks and Spencers.

“We think John Lewis and Next will have outperformed, however, so we still wouldn’t rule out some bad news from Debenhams or M&S,” retail analyst Nick Bubb said.

INFOGRAPHIC: How to build a ‘customer-centric’ e-commerce website

By SQLI

60% of purchase decisions are based on buyers’ perceptions and their confidence in a brand. Focusing on the UX design of your e-commerce website is key to attracting consumers and gaining their loyalty.

Check out our infographic for advice from an experienced UX designer and find out how to build a real “customer-centric” e-commerce website.

About SQLI:

SQLI is a service group dedicated to the digital world. It assists companies and brands in defining, implementing and managing digital systems for a redesigned customer, partner and collaborator experience. Its unique positioning at the crossroads of marketing and technology enables the group to meet the challenges of developing sales and reputation (digital & social marketing, customer experience, cross-channel commerce, mobile, data intelligence, etc.) and the challenges of productivity and internal efficiency (digitalisation of operations, collaborative company, connected objects, CRM, etc.) in a comprehensive way.

www.sqli.co

SQLI, providing digital solutions for businesses (for ecommerce website development and design). Magento, SAP Hybris and Salesforce Developer Agency UK, Platforms used include Magento, SAP Hybris and Salesforce Commerce. See our blog for latest updates and news on digital solutions.

Global m-commerce ‘to take over desktop shopping by 2023’

UK consumers are on an endless mission for convenience as mobile continues its ascent to dominance as the most popular shopping channel.

Growing at a rate of 16 percent annually in the UK, m-commerce is set to be worth £88.1bn by 2022, according to new data from Worldpay.

In its annual Global Payments Report, Worldpay found the total eCommerce market in the UK is set to grow by 40 percent between now and 2022 to £240bn (9 percent CAGR).

E-wallets in particular are favoured when purchasing via mobile, currently making up 23.2 percent of online payments in the UK.

This is set for rapid growth driven by increased smartphone ownership, faster mobile networks and consumers continually looking for a more seamless payment experience. The predicted rise in mobile commerce is a strong vote of confidence for the security and convenience of the UK’s digital payments.

Worldpay’s report, which examines online shopping in 36 countries across five continents, found that m-commerce currently accounts for 38 percent of the £990 billion in global eCommerce sales, and global m-commerce is set to grow a staggering 19 percent over the next five years.

The largest markets in the world for m-commerce are China (£0.57 trillion), U.S. (£0.16 trillion), UK (£48.8 billion), Japan (£26.4 billion) and South Korea (£22 billion).

Motie Bring, general manager for the UK, Global Enterprise eCommerce, at Worldpay Inc. said: “The UK in particular is a highly-developed market, and with 99 percent of the population connected to the internet[1], e-wallets are clearly the future of mobile commerce for shoppers – but this is only the beginning. The latest innovations in device hardware, from voice recognition to facial scanning, are helping make payments more seamless and secure than ever before, prompting consumers to ditch desktop in favour of their smartphone or tablet.

To stay ahead UK merchants should invest in their own apps, building a seamless shopping and checkout experience across every device, and support the most popular payment methods.”

Worldpay has published guidelines for merchants to help capitalise on the global mCommerce opportunity:

  1. Consider developing a branded app. We know that 71 percent of shoppers prefer apps over mobile browsers when shopping on their smartphone, and many say they won’t buy from a business that doesn’t have an app.[2] It’s no longer enough to just have a mobile-optimised website – if you’re not prioritising a transactional app for your brand, you’re not putting your best foot forward.
  1. Make it easy and use biometrics to speed up the journey. Shoppers are becoming increasingly familiar with the concept of fingerprint scanning and facial recognition, so they do not shy away from using these methods as a form of authentication. Biometrics place payments at the back of the user’s mind, giving them a faster and friction-free experience, making the payment seem ‘invisible’.
  1. Identify the most popular payment methods in each territory in which you operate. There are huge differences in payment preferences across the world, and alternative payment methods are gaining share over traditional credit and debit cards. There’s no one-size-fits-all in any region so you’ll need to understand the best options for your company.

Online retailers ‘not using own data to improve performance’

Online sellers are using eCommerce solutions to gather better data insights, yet many are failing to use it to make better business decisions, according to new research.

Whilst 42% are using data to improve customer service, only 24% are using data for buying behaviour analysis and two thirds are not using it to improve the user experience.

The survey of 559 global B2B organisations by Sana Commerce found that many are still only focused on using e-commerce for sales and improving online shopping for customers – traits associated with e-commerce 1.0 and 2.0.

48% identified driving sales as the top priority for their e-commerce solution and 38% said it was to improve the user experience.

Despite having data available at their fingertips, online sellers are not using their data to achieve desired business performance outcomes. The main response to tackling competition is competing on price (47%) and increasing the online customer experience (38%) rather than enhancing the proposition.

Only a third said they would use data to improve personalisation and 26% said they would use data to improve targeting and account-based marketing.

Sana says many online sellers seem to be overlooking the true value of e-commerce 3.0 and improving integration with key business systems such as the ERP to drive broader business benefits.

Michiel Schipperus, CEO and managing partner at Sana Commerce, said: “It’s encouraging to see online sellers building on their digital transformation strategies and considering the implementation of these advanced technologies, but it’s important to first establish how they can be implemented strategically. E-commerce 3.0 has enabled better integration between internal systems as a growth strategy and way to improve businesses agility. M2M and other forms of automation represent a significant investment, so e-commerce businesses need to ensure they’re being used to their full potential and improving key business drivers.”

The survey of B2B organisations in Europe and the US was undertaken by independent market research company Sapio on behalf on Sana Commerce. You can download the report here.

GUEST BLOG: How retailers can embrace cryptocurrencies to boost business and loyalty

By Raj Agrawal, Founder & Tech Entrepreneur, Dewber

Traditional loyalty schemes are in need of an overhaul – customers are tired of carrying around multiple store cards and retailers are looking for new ways to encourage sales.

This is where cryptocurrency comes in, offering a new platform that retailers can customise and use how they see fit. Any retail business can incorporate cryptocurrency into their business operations, creating new opportunities and advantageous benefits for both the business and the customer.

Loyalty schemes are nothing new. Big retailers have seen loyal customers purchase 90% more regularly than casual customers, and the average spend can be much higher when a customer knows they are collecting points. The problem is, smaller and independent retailers can find it difficult to achieve the same amount of customer retention through their loyalty scheme alone.

Many loyalty points are forgotten about, and too often accounts become inactive. Globally, there is over 100 billion dollars worth of unclaimed loyalty points, leading to the question: How can we innovate our loyalty schemes to keep customers coming back?

Cryptocurrencies may seem complicated, but once on board, it can give retailers the opportunity to attract and keep a new, young customer base. Over 17% of millennials have purchased digital coins, which can be spent and traded freely through a centralised, online system. This cashless system is gaining momentum, and retailers can maximise business by incorporating this into their loyalty schemes. By receiving digital tokens instead of traditional loyalty points, customers are getting something they really want – the ability to earn loyalty from everywhere and choose where to spend thereby creating shared loyalty experience on the high street. The chances are they will keep coming back to you when they know their digital purse is growing.

Once a retailer is signed up to a blockchain-based loyalty scheme, they will become part of a wider, global network of retailers who offer the same digital tokens and business specific rewards. Customers can receive digital tokens with every purchase, which can then be redeemed globally at any participating business. It’s up to you how the tokens are awarded and redeemed. Customers will become magnetised to these businesses who offer a common goal, leaving the individual store cards behind. This innovative system allows a much greater use of loyalty points by the customer, which in turn can only lead to more committed customer base for retailers that may have struggled before.

By introducing cryptocurrency into your loyalty scheme, you can begin to capture the attention of the younger generations, and ultimately improve customer engagement and repeat spends. Companies such as Dewber are gearing up to provide a user-friendly platform for retailers to get involved, and aid with navigating this game-changing way of rewarding customers.

Whether you are a café, bar or independent retailer, offering digital tokens could be the business-savvy way forward.

About the Author

Dewber founder and CEO Raj Agrawal has over 20 years experience in business, technology, senior management experience in operations, IT security, marketing and finance within fortune 50 companies like Deutsche Bank, Prudential (Vitality), Visa Europe and Deloitte UK.

Dewber is a tech start-up which uses blockchain to bring innovation to the loyalty economy with the ability to run global rewards and crypto points schemes. Dewber offers a digital mobile experience, customer engagement, cross channel redemption capabilities and strictly does not perform any data mining by collecting or analysing customer purchase history for marketing or cross product promotion.