Thursday, March 24, 2011

When did eCommerce become Multi-Channel retailing?

If you’re working in and amongst the eCommerce industry in the UK, like me you’ve probably noticed the change in language over the last few years, from pure-play Internet retailing to Multi-Channel (with or without the hyphen) retailing.

The move to multi-channel was also helped by a transition phase sometimes called “Bricks & clicks”. This was where retailers with a physical presence created and consequently optimised their online sales presence. But now Multi-Channel is a discipline that encompasses: marketing, technology, operations and merchandising across website, catalogue*, in-store (kiosk anyone?) and mobile platforms. The online shop has now just become another sales and servicing channel for all sorts of companies.
*Yes, I have included catalogue as part of the multi-channel mix, as there is a lot of integration possible between online sales, in-store and even mobile. [But perhaps that’s the topic for another posting].

However, the most important thing that multi-channel retailing is (and needs to maintain) is flexibility. Not just in its understanding of new and changing platforms and processes, but in its adoption and implementation of increasingly fragmented technologies and devices. Furthermore the principle offline and online drivers of customer: (building) confidence, (providing) trust and (maintaining) loyalty now need to be implemented across these channels in an integrated and thought-out way, creating a joined-up brand experience regardless of where the customer is and what device they are using.

So to answer my initial question of when it became multi-channel…. I would have to state that for most retailers the delivery of a successful ecommerce operation was not the end-game, but just another step along the path to multi-channel success. Wasn’t there always going to be a natural evolution to providing numerous sales platforms to the same person regardless of device or location?

Or put another way… if the customer wants to buy something, shouldn’t they be offered this facility wherever and whenever they want?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ealing Tweetup - the Next Generation

For the last year or so I’ve attended the fantastic Ealing Tweetups run by Mark Hillary. However at the beginning of this year Mark took off to be with his new wife Angelica in Brazil and passed the baton for organising future events onto myself and a handful of regulars.

So, the good news is that the event hasn’t come to an end as was feared and the next Ealing Tweetup returns to its regular and rightful home of the Rose and Crown pub on Thursday 21st April 2011.

This time the pub will have just opened the day before following an extensive re-fit . We therefore hope to have a great time, especially as the following day is Good Friday (and therefore a public holiday for a lot of people).

So, if you’re an Ealing resident or worker and fancy coming along to meet fellow local Twitter users in real life, then sign-up and come along for a cheeky beer:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Press pages are for the press

The press pages on your site are typically seen as a basic area of your site where you should send journalists, analysts and bloggers to find out more about your organisation.

On these pages you have the opportunity to control the brand experience you want to create for them. However, this set of people aren't a single audience and will have to treated slightly differently.

  • Journalists need well article structured paragraphs of new information.
  • Analysts typically need data, data and more data... with perhaps the occasional soundbyte.
  • Bloggers look for relevant content and further online sources of information (E.g. Flickr libraries, YouTube channels, etc.)

Oh and did I mention that you should also write each article to help your site's SEO at every opportunity?

So much for a basic area eh?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Large organisations are adopting Social Media

According to Social Media Influence,
more than 65 percent of the largest 100 international companies now have active accounts on Twitter, at least 54 percent have a Facebook fan page, 50 percent have a YouTube channel, and one-third (33 percent) have corporate blogs
These are quite impressive statistics and show that large organisations are now embracing the different social media channels.

This now puts the lions share of companies at least at Phase 2 (The 'Participating' stage) in the Social Media Maturity Matrix.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Communications Blessing, And Curse

Today the article "The Rise and Rise of Social Media: A Communications Blessing, And Curse" was published on, the Middle East and North African equivalent of the Huffington Post. The article authored by my friend and colleague Andrew Mackay (with a little assistance from yours truly), covers the clash between traditional (professional) PR and modern day social platforms that make a PR (amateur) our of every blogger and tweeter.

There is no doubt now that social media has created a modern day revolution... but there's also a lot of meaningless noise generated in the digital echo chamber, where rumour turns to fact and that then turns into action or sentiment (however well-meaning or misguided that may be).

I agree with Andrew's title for his article, in that Social Media is a communication blessing, primarliy by connecting indviduals from anywhere and any background. But is also a curse.... and its therefore up to us to find out how to understand and master that double-edged sword.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Twitter usage - how to be more professional

I've recently written an article giving some top tips for Twitter users. You can view the article here:

Its quite surprising for me to see so many regular users of Twitter still doing some pretty basic or incorrect stuff and not making the most of their precious 140 characters. There's some obvious question to ask, for example:
  • Why don't people shorten their URL's to make the most effective use of their posts (and to measure click throughs)
  • Why are hashtags not used more regularly?
  • Why aren't more posts repeated if they are important?
  • Why do so many postings still have spelling mistakes in them?
Just because Twitter is an informal social media channel, it doesn't have to be used unprofessionally.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

H2H - the real social networks

By now you all should know what Social Media is.
“Why Hayden, it’s Facebook and Twitter of course, right?”.... Wrong!
Social Media is the use of technology (and specifically the Internet) to connect people with people. This creates new and exciting ways for them to meet, interact and engage with each other.
Note: Yes, this does include revolutions!
Specific social networks facilitate this connectivity
  • Facebook : personal
  • Linkedin: business
  • Twitter: short (& trivial)
These networks no longer make it about the technology; they make it about the people, their relationships and their behaviour.
That's why the advertising revenue of Facebook is growing so quickly, is because that's where people are these day.. hanging out, chatting with friends, throwing sheep (BTW: does anyone still do that?), etc. And one reason Facebook is valued so highly (currently $50 billion) is because of that ad revenue.

So next time someone claims that social networks are worth so much is because they have so much great functionality or because brands are there... my suggestion is to tell them its because that's where the humans are. And humans engaging with other humans is what social networks are really about.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Are you a Social Media Rebel (without a cause)?

These days every PR consultant and social media expert is talking about monitoring the different online platforms for brand mentions and advocates (or badvocates).

Yes, every company needs to tune into what their consumers are saying and creating. But more than this.... organizations need to generate actionable insights and act upon these quickly.

I've mentioned in this blog for several years now that companies need to use their ears and listen to what's being said. However they also need to use the grey matter between those ears to process this information to be of use throughout the business.

So in the same way that passion or rebellion is nothing without a purpose or cause... insight is useless unless it creates actions that improve the situation for the customer (and not just the bottom line).
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Are FAQ's necessary?

In this final video, part of the Hit Me series I filmed recently, I explain why Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) content is beneficial to an eCommerce website.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The benefits of building an affiliate network

Here's another video in my series on the basics of eCommerce. I now cover the benefits and possible drawbacks of using affilate marketing for eCommerce.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

How can I build trust in my ecommerce site?

In this clip I explain the ways you can build trust on your website and make customers more confident about purchasing from your ecommerce website.

In short its all about content and imagery to reassure users, plus adequate security.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What are the most common online payment methods?

An obvious part of any eCommerce site is its ability to handle payments. In this video clip for Fresh Business Thinking I describe the most common online payment methods.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What is the key difference between an e-commerce website and an e-market...

In this video interview I explain the main difference between an online marketing site and and ecommerce one.