Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Retailconcepts: the integration of on and offline with retail experiences

I visited London the past few days. Only 45 minutes of flying but a totally different retail landscape than here in the Netherlands. Much nicer actually.
Luckily there was at least some Dutch influence that I noticed :)

Some (important) Dutch influence in the London retail and restaurant market, luckily :)
Below just a few pictures from a few shops I visited. Shopping can be nice!

Made.com the interesting and very nice British furniture retailer that started in 2010 and is one of the high growth technology companies in the UK. I follow them online now for a while and I think they are doing a great job. So when I was walking through SoHo in London, I noticed their brick and mortar flagship store and I decided to take a look.

It is always fun to visit shops from companies that started online and now go offline. Interesting to see how they mix on-and offline.
And Made.com did a very nice job!

As you enter the store you will find a desk where you can grab a tablet that you can use to get extra information at the articles displayed. Simply touch the tablet at everywhere were you see the "+" sign and you get extra information. To get the device working, you have to enter your e-mail adress. I did not see they asked for an e-mail opt-in at this stage (I would have done that), but you got to register with e-mail. (why not social sign ons as well?).

And I suggest to write at this desk, where you grab your tablet (see picture below) also that once returned, the device resets automatically, so no personal details are available at the devices and someone else is free to use.

Grab your tablet to connect on and offline in Made.com's shop in SoHo

After the sign on (submitting your e-mail adress) you will see this screen as shown below. The device explains how it works. 
You can e-mail your favorite products to yourself, so you can buy then online at a later stage or further on in the shop (see below). 
I am curious if they also connect my flagship store "touch" behaviour to their website product display.
So meaning that if I login online at a later stage at the made.com webshop, they will show me the products that I "touched" in the shop, but I could not test that correctly. Would be an idea though. Or to use it in e-mail marketing for example or in social marketing.

The made.com tablet you can use to get additional information about the products shown in their brick and mortar store and this is how they connect on and offline.

This is how the spots look like, where you can touch the tablet. Every product that is displayed has such a spot where you can connect with your tablet.

+ Marks the spot for Made.Com's connection between on and offline
And once touched (I had to touch 3 times) but once or twice or three time touch, the device starts with all information about the product displayed.
Additional products are displayed at "virtual walls". You see this everywhere in their shop.

What I really like from made.com is their online "unboxed" section. Customers that have made.com products can display them at a special community. So you can see how the products look like at other customers. Customers can connect to each other via this platform. Perfect!  You can comment and even look for customers with made.com products near your house! They also advertise this in their flagship store and encourage to be social active with made.com in their shop. It builds trust! I did not see it, but maybe nice to display a (live) carroussel of the user generated content from their community in their brick and mortar shop. 

Also in the made.com shop, you can order the products you saw or "touched" , directly via the desktop yourself.

As I walked on in London I suddenly spotted this sign, with "Boxpark Pop up Mall". I saw a popup mall in Las Vegas recently, and I was very enthousiastic about that concept, so I decided to walk on....

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A collection of order confirmation, transactional and order shipment emails

For a project about the customer journey, I am collecting some "order confirmation e-mails, transactional e-mails and order shipment e-mails".
I decided to publish them here as well. Might be convenient for others also do get some inspiration.
These are just email examples I either received myself or found at the internet.
Most of them are quite boring. Still so many possibilities for organisations to improve the customer experience with these high open rate e-mails/contact moments.
I wonder if email stays important as a confirmation medium. We will see in 1 year from now. Social shopping or selling through wechat or whatsapp might change this all. Whatsapp for example does not even has my email adress in their settings.

Blogger (where this blog is hosted) has no advanced image view possibility, so I am sorry about that. Just click at an image and the larger size image will open.

Deal Extreme Shipping Confirmation

Deal Extreme Order confirmation Example

Superdry Order Confirmation

JetStar Pacific Pre-Flight communication

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Crossborder e-commerce reports

Usually I publish the "cross border e-commerce" reports, I run into at the internet at either my twitter account or my slideshare account. But sometimes it is convenient to have a summary of direct downloads. So, some direct downloads, just because it is almost Christmas :)

Forrester released a report (paid by metapack) about the relation between delivery options and e-commerce success in France, UK and Germany. A download via my dropbox here.

I discovered that Pitney Bowes often has interesting reports and white papers. This one is a document that helps US retailers to reach consumers around the globe. But it is not only interesting for US retailers. For everybody who wants to understand customer and e-commerce differences around the world this is a useful document. It gives differences per country in purchase behavior and other localisation considerations. A direct download via my dropbox here

Shop the world from DHL is a great 339 (! that must have been lot's of work) page document about cross border e-commerce! A truly global ecommerce document. I hope DHL is just as good as delivering parcel's as in writing clear reports, because this one is truly nice to read and really useful in crossborder e-commerce. See country specific information and needs and see what's important in customer journey's around the world. See if German's still do not like to pay with credit card or if the French still like (a little bit) ordering by catalogue and if the Dutch use marketplaces or prefer local websites. It's all in this document.

Domain names -often forgotten- in global marketing, are an important factor for SEO and credibility. A lot is going on in the domain name industry. New top level domains are being introduced at this moment. This report from Speednames, tells you where to pay attention at in the world of global domain names.

Did you know that in Canada, Italy (?) and the Netherlands and Switzerland the percentage of e-commerce orders placed in the local language is much lower then in other countries? Besides that this presentation (so no report) gives information about global payment methods and what to use in which country. Download the presentation here

Yes, our friens at Pitney Bowes gave another presentation/webinar about global e-commerce. The PDF download itself is not so interesting as I expected. Maybe the presentation itself was. However, download here to see how pitney bowes thinks about making a profitable global e-commerce

This report from Global Web Index, gives a summary (not an extensive reports) at the most used social media networks in the world and it has a special section of social media usage in China.

A video about Global Shopping. Australians buy a lot of autoparts, luxury goods work everywhere because of brand recognition. An interview with Craig Reed (yes, Pitney Bowes again) about global shopping:

According to this report from "Postnord" about e-commerce in Scandinavia, the Norwegians are the most frequent cross border buyers with 54 percent that purchases online from abroad. But only 22 percent of the Swedes purchases from abroad. Norwegians spend 3565 SEK each quarter when buying online, that's about 384 euro's! This and much more in this Nordic e-commerce report.

And here is a 30 mb file about e-commerce in Russia.The Russian post is still underperforming, but alternative delivery providers are coming up. Cross border sales are growing dramaticaly especially from China. Russians are extremely active at the web. A comparisment with other countries is made in this report. A must read for everybody who is interested in Russian e-commerce.

Book review: The Amazon Way

I am reading the book "The Amazon Way, 14 leadership principles behind the wolrd's most disruptive company".
I am not going to write down all 14 principles, just buy the book if you are interested in that. The book is well written and you can read it in a few hours.

I just shortly summarize a few phrases from the book, that I find interesting. 

Reading the book is a bit ambivalent, while when I was visiting Amazon in Germany, earlier this year, I did not recognize the open and innovative culture, the book describes. 

However, the book is a motivator for anybody who is creative, customer centric and e-commerce and trend driven. 

Long before the the complete vision of Amazon was ready, these two principles is where it all started from.

  • When a company makes a customer unhappy, she won't tell a friend, or two, or three....she will tell many, many more and
  • The beste customer service is "no" customer service, because the beste experience happens when the customer never has to ask for help at all.

For Jeff Bazos, the founder of Amazon, it is important not to focus at margin's. Focus at the "free cash flow". This is done because Jeff believes that the internet potential for growth is still enourmous. For him it is 1889.

The Amazon, flywheel effect (by the way also the only "picture"in the book

The Andon cord is a concept , originally invented by a Japanese car manifacturer. So imagine if you work in a busy car plant and you notice that the widget you are installing is broken, you can reach up and pull the "Andon cord". Immediatly the whole assembly line stops. Amazon made a digital version of the Andon cord. When people in the retail group don't provide the right data for the customer or enter a product description that is inaccurate, the customer service department can remove the product from the website. "Fix the defect or you cannot sell this product". This is power to the consumer!
From a my personal experience, I think we could have used this method also a few times. If you think long term and about returning customers, this is a method that works very well.

The book has also many examples of social webcare. Methods that nowadays are used by many companies (but many still do not!!) Amazon was already pioneering with social webcare long before others did so. The book explains a situation where they noticed somewhere at the web, a customer experienced poor video playback, while watching a video via Amazon Video on Demand. Amazon pro-actively contacted the customer and refunded the amount. 

Amazon does not do things "small", Amazon started by "scanning" the books they sold. This is very convenient for customers, so customers can browse a few pages of a book, before buying it. This was a very costly programm to setup and in that time took up a database of 20 terabytes. Amazon says "if we had tried it in a tentative way or at a small number of books, say 1000 or 2000, it would not have gotten the PR and full customers perception".  

Monday, July 14, 2014

16 ways to prevent returns for ecommerce company's

16 ways to prevent parcel returns in ecommerce

Parcel returns. Every e-commerce company has to deal with returns. In Europe customers have the right to withdraw an order up to 14 days after the parcel arrived at the customer. Returns cost a lot of money for e-tailers. 

Below you find 16 ways to reduce your return percentage.

  • Make use of "product" reviews and user generated content (UGC). Experiences and pictures/video's from others will help meeting expectations from your customers and will reduce returns.
  • Use High Resolution product images. If you have a "living" product (f.e. plants) be clear about the product that people receive and how it looks like when it is mature. This can be done by images but in the case of plants with "time lapse" video's. 
  • It depends at your competition and long term strategy, but you can charge (shipment costs) for returning ordered goods. Especially for Europe, mention this in your terms and conditions. Be clear about it. Otherwise the customer does not have to pay for the return of his parcel.
  • Make sure you offer multiple prepaid payment methods. Offering post paid payment methods causes higher return rates. Especially cost on delivery. People can easily refuse the package when the mailmen arrives.
  • Be clear at your website about your guarantee conditions.
  • Setup an interactive return process at the website. Let people register their returns first. Do this by making a simple process, but do ask some questions about the reason of the returns. Be able to change this process. If you know why they return, depending at the product you sell, you can prevent them from returning, by giving the right advice in this process.
  • Disable/Remove customers who always return and never keep an article. 
  • Be very clear about your delivery and order process both at your website and your after sales communication. Better sent an extra e-mail about the order status then one less.
  • Make sure you deliver fast. People expect fast delivery for most consumer goods. 
  • Make sure you offer multiple postal services. Many countries for example have popular pickup spots (droppoints) that are used for distance selling. Make sure you offer the most popular methods in each country.
  • Make the "unboxing" a surprise and fun. And if you sell a difficult (technical) product, be clear in the parcel about how to set up the product and how to use it. Clear directions for customer service also might help. 
  • Customer Service Agent. The customer service agent is a "gatekeeper" for reducing returns and customer satisfaction. Be sure your customer service instructions/scripts help reducing returns but also keep customer satisfaction. The customer that returns now, must order next time again with you.
  • Use the "internet of things" if possible for the product you sell, to improve customer satisfaction. If the devices you sell can connect to the internet, you can give tailor made advice and help. This also prevents returns.
  • Use Augmented Reality to show how the product looks like in your home, or when you wear it.
  • When a customer returned a parcel and the payment is reimbursed, make sure you have a good after sales communication strategy, so you can keep the customer and prevent the next return.
  • Expand your content and product attributes, you sent to external marketplaces. 
  • Invest in CRM and Personalisation tools. If you know what your customer wants, based at order, click or conversation history for example, you prevent returns because of your tailor made offers.

Remember: Trustworthiness + Expertise = Credibility = E-commerce Success = Less Returns.

A fair, clear and transparent return process helps your trustworthiness and this helps your ecommerce success.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Book review: Webs of influence, the psychology of online persuasion

I decided to travel to Berlin today. Something different for a change. So now I am in an Eurocity train from Hilversum to Berlin. Time to read a book again. This time “webs of influence, the psychology of online persuasion”. An interesting book also in relation to cross border e-commerce because cultural differences in persuasion are described.
The book "webs of influence, the psychology of online persuasion" travels with me today.

There is no “silver bullet” for persuasion. Everybody is different, but the book gives nice case study’s and with some creativity of yourself, you can think of some very interesting tests and possibilities to change your website and marketing. The book has (very convenient) after every chapter a “ make this work for you” section. Perfect for a quick reference.

Well as the book teaches me, blue is the colour that is most preferred by people, regardless of gender and culture.
The blue colour is prefered by almost everybody
So probably that is why the book’s cover is also blue :) However other aspects of persuasion that are described in the book, are not always practiced by the book itself :) I would have expected a picture of the author, or some testimonials at the cover :)

The book consists of three parts.

  1. Know who you are targeting
  2. Communicate persuasively
  3. Sell with integrity

Part 1: Know who you are targeting

The book starts with a “brain introduction” and makes a difference between three brain types:

  1. The primal brain: responsible for our basic vital functions
  2. The emotional brain: responsible for relevant stimuli in our surroundings, responsible for emotions such as happiness, sadness
  3. The rational brain: Responsible for rational thinking, problem solving, planning and organization.
To be successful online you have to target all three “brain parts” the book explains.

Luckily the book gives some examples:

Target the primal brain
  • Images of attractive people
  • Include food images (if possible) hunger is targeted by our primal brain
  • Contrast: before/after 
  • Use scarcity
  • Keep it concrete: what’s in it for me
Target the emotional brain
  • Empathy: use photos or video’s that convey the emotional state you want your customers to feel. Be aware of cultural differences!!
  • Storytelling provides an emotional band with your brand
Target the rational brain
  • When customers are emotionally engaged, provide them rational support. 
  • Make use of authority
The following take-away I found interesting;

"One of the best ways to sell a product is to make new things seem familiar and to make familiar things seem new" 

Cultural Quirks

Page 32 is the chapter called “Cultural Quirks”. "The success of any business rests on its ability to engage and respond to it’s target market. Equally if you wish to be influential online, you must research your audience and understand their culture” . A case study from Coca Cola is described. In China the characters for Coca Cola mean ‘delicious and happy’, in Hong Kong, Coca Cola is sometimes served as a remedy for colds and the coke you order in London is physically different from the coke you drink in the sychelles.  As a result Coca Cola's website throughout the world are completely different:

Coca Cola's websites are completely different per country

Well, I am in Germany now, the train passed the border, the train gets crowded now, baby’s start crying, and I am sitting at a reserved seat  for someone else (because this one has a power plug). I just got a cup of coffee and a snack from the train restaurant but because the train is changing tracks or something, half of the coffee went on the ground and my arms. Not the book luckily!! So I can continue reading.

Dangerous cup of coffee in the train that almost went over the book

Monday, June 9, 2014

Model / Template EU wide withdrawal form | Consumer Rights Directive

The new EU wide consumer law, the so called, consumer rights directive in Europe, that will be into force in most countries as from the 13th of june, requires that websites offer a EU wide withdrawal form. Customers are not obliged to use it, but you have to offer it at your website.
Since I could not find an easy working template for this EU wide withdrawal form, I created an interactive PDF file with the minimum required information.

Download the latest ADOBE reader to make the interactive template work.
  1. Download the interactive withdrawal form PDF template here
  2. Upload your company logo (in PDF) (I am sorry, I could not get it programmed to upload JPEG's)
  3. Translate the texts in the PDF (you can start typing over the existing text) or if needed empty just give a space.
  4. Save the file using the "save as" button in the top left corner

For those who can't work with the (beautifully programmed) interactive PDF, the microsoft word template is available here.

Some background information:

Differences in the ways in which the right of withdrawal is exercised in the Member States have caused costs for traders selling cross-border. The introduction of a harmonised model withdrawal form that the consumer may use should simplify the withdrawal process and bring legal certainty. For these reasons, Member States should refrain from adding any presentational requirements to the Union-wide model form relating for example to the font size. However, the consumer should remain free to withdraw in his own words, provided that his statement setting out his decision to withdraw from the contract to the trader is unequivocal. A letter, a telephone call or returning the goods with a clear statement could meet this requirement, but the burden of proof of having withdrawn within the time limits fixed in the Directive should be on the consumer. For this reason, it is in the interest of the consumer to make use of a durable medium when communicating his withdrawal to the trader. Source

There is a lot more you have to know about the consumer rights directive if you do distance selling in Europe. Read more here

Personally I think, it is far better to set minimum requirements more focused in an "electronic consumer friendly way", then the directive there is now.
In this case about withdrawals to make this obligatory:

  • Webshops must have an online form for customers to register their withdrawals.
  • Webshops must confirm via electronic communication the receipt of the registred withdrawals.
  • Webshops must confirm via electronic communication when the withdrawed goods arrived.
  • Webshops must confirm via electronic communication when the money is reimbursed to the customer.
  • Webshops must announce in their electronic order confirmation (most opened and read e-mail) how consumers can withdraw the purchased goods. 
You can learn a lot from your customers when they withdraw their purchases. Make sure you ask information about why they return and make sure you store information about how often they withdraw their purchases.