ecommerce EXPO – Olympia,London -19-20 October 2010

I attended the ecommerce Expo yesterday (20th Oct) and thoroughly enjoyed myself, having not been able to attend last year. Thought I’d give a quick summary of things I learned and had re-confirmed yesterday.

Here’s some of the better talks I went to:

Bring your Customers into the business via online portals and communities – Derek Eccleston, Research Director, eDigitalResearch

Great overview of what’s happening in the world of reserach and using your customers, existing and potential to help shape your products, services and buisness through surveys, panels and communities.

” Let customers help you create things – they love it ” said Derek, ” and you don’t even have to incentivise people to get involved a lot of the time.”

Derek mentioned work they’d done with Sky Line, Asda and B & Q working with panels and communities to develop ideas so I’ll definetly be checking out some of those microsites when I get chance.

There was one great story about the Daily Mirror and how they use their panel to ensure the position they take on news stories is inline with what their readership think. They asked their panel whether Margaret Thatcher should get a state funeral, thinking possibly people may have dropped some of their vehemence towards the former Prime Minister.

The emphatic answer however was NO, she shouldn’t get one. They then used this to inform their approach when talking about this online and in the News.

Another highlight of the day was the presentation provocatively titled eCommerce v mCommerce – Who is winning the battle, but who will win the war? by Rob Tarrant, Managaing Director of Brandbank.

He shared some great eCommerce and mCommerce research, most of it affirming what we already know. One of the messages for mcommerce was don’t get too carried away by the clamour for smartphine apps ( remember 80% of people don’t own smartphones yet. ) And only 4% of mobile users find buying through a mobile phone hassle free ! So there’s clearly an opportunity to get a basic mobile site right and working well first ! or atlesat at the same time as developing ‘great apps’.

The message of the talk was clearly if you need a mobile site, get that right first – do usability on it, review it and test it again.

The CEO mission request / mantra many of us received  late 90’s early noughties of  ‘We need a  website, build me one !” is again happening for mobile. We do find ourselves in a similar position. The same issues as we know and loathe online will affect mobile users. The top negative gripe they have with mobile sites is 1) Having to zoom in and out for info however the second and third ones certainly ring true with the early days of the web and are still relevant today !

2) Having to wait for images to load

3) Having to click through lots of pages to get anywhere

The really interesting and significant point Rob Tarrant raised was that if browsers have a negative experience on a companies mobile site, it increases churn rates hugely. ie, people go to a competitors website. So not only do they switch channels, they will turn off to your brand and switch to a rival’s website.

The message was, ofcourse it’s not eComm v mComm , it’s a multi channel world we live in and will continue to live in. The real battle is to decide if you are taking mobile seriously, if you are then do it ! Do it well, apply the same learnings we all know and use daily for ecommerce of review and test. If you do mess up mobile, it can ruin your brand, So tread  carefully!

Another good presentation was titled Building a Hybrid eCommerce Platform by Brian O’Donnell, Head of eCommerce, Suttons Seeds and Lee Thompson, Sales Director of Exact Abacus.

I’ll certainly be reviewing Sutton’s Seeds website as it sounds like they are employing some great best practice, supported by the guys at Exact Abacus.

The Suttons Seeds site has some great search functionality now which not only searches for the product but actually produces search results with various tabbed results from product seraches to information pages to Tweets about the particular search keyword.

As most of us well know, visitors who search on a site tend to convert better. Suttons found that their visitors who search their own site had a conversion rate of 1.85 times the  site’s average conversion rate. This however shot up to 2.12 times the sites conversion rate after they’d implemented their smarter search pages.

One final thing to come out of the discussion was that Exact Abacus seem willing and able to work with different software providers. Suttons use Avail Intelligence to do their recommendations area of the website (this includes some automated A/B testing on different recommendations. They also use Feefo an independant customer feedback system to generate service based comments and feedback as well as product reviews.

Finally, the best presentation of the day, in my view was by Portal Tech. I forget the speakers name now as she was a stand-in for Mark Adams, the Sales and Marketing Director but she was an excellent speaker and very insightful.

The title of the presentation was – How to create and implement your mobile search strategy.

Here’s some snippets from the talk

> Browsing via mobile is due to overtake PC browsing by 2014 according to recent resaerch by Morgan Stanley

> It’s really important to talk to customers in-store about what they would use a mobile device for in-store, and also what they would want to see on their mobile at home/ work etc.

> One of the most important concerns for mobile shoppers is security. Paypal checkout is seen as a must have if they are to purchjase via mobile.

> Top features of recent reserach by Portatech are:

Sale and offer notifications, Paypal checkout,  Store locator – with directions, Recommendations to help in-store, Wishlist and saving searches and likes (as many mobile journeys are interupted and returned to at a better time)

> The most influential factors for mobile shoppers are Security closely followed by fast loading images and pages

> Should you build an app or a mobile optimised website? The answer is probably both for most brands.

> Do User testing, modifications, reviews and more testing !

> Mobile is it’s own channel in it’s own right and needs as much care and attention as the web. Make sure you have the resources in place to manage it effectively as a channel.

> If you do an app, it’s important to entice people back so generate a what’s new/ what’s in strategy to get people to return to your app.

> Be clear on what you want your mobile solution to do > is it for brand building, commerce, product info, promo info, store directions, click ‘n’ collect, product/brand interaction or simply fun?

The speaker’s favourite apps were interesting – if I’m honest I can’t get too excited by any of these myself but it’s of course very subjective.

Speaker’s faves

National Trust, Tiffany, iSimples (Compare the Market’s offering), Elmo’s Monster Maker, L.K Bennet – a fashion shop which is good at demonstrating the product very clearly (incidentally this app was deleoped by Portaltech and is the only app in the UK with Paypal checkout integrated into the purchase process),  The Trainline – very useful app which makes life easier – the speaker’s only wish was this app would allow you to buy e-tickets. Great idea if you’re reading ‘the trainline people’!

Well, that’s it really – overall a good show and some good speakers. Well done ecommerce Expo 2010, I’ll be back next yera with any luck.

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About philty

UX professional working for major financial services player in the UK
This entry was posted in Customer experience, Retail, Usability, User experience design. Bookmark the permalink.

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