Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The benefits & pitfalls of Scottish companies selling online

As a specialist digital consultant, I speak with a lot of Scottish businesses of all sizes about the opportunities that eCommerce can bring. Most agree that using the Internet to open up new markets and sell a greater amount of products is of commercial interest to them – who wouldn't want more customers and more revenue?

However a lot of businesses have still to venture into eCommerce and time after time the same key reasons for not doing so keep cropping up:

  • Concerns about the cost of setting up and running an online business
  • Concerns that “you need to be technical” 
  • Concerns about online payments and security
  • Concerns about distance selling and the appropriate regulations
  • Concerns about delivery, returns, etc.
  • Concerns about getting & keeping customers
However, help is on-hand from Scottish Enterprise for those organisations who want to learn more about how to go about setting up an online store and grow their business via electronic means. Courses, workshops and dedicated digital and eCommerce expertise via specialist consultants are all available.

Plus it is important to remember is not just about selling to the home Scottish market, eCommerce opportunities also lie abroad. In fact, back in 2013 a report on Scotland’s Digital Future stated that more than 90% of eCommerce in Scotland was already being conducted with other UK or overseas customers. It is therefore unsurprising that in the last few years a Scottish Enterprise workshop on the topic of International eCommerce has been run in many locations across the country. I sometimes help take this popular workshop and it covers topics such as: researching new markets, translating content, global payment methods and international digital marketing techniques.

So what are you waiting for?

What’s in store for digital retailing and Scottish companies?

There’s been a consistent growth in UK one retailing for over a decade now. In fact, the number of UK citizens ordering goods electronically has increased significantly from an already impressive 44% in 2005 to a huge 79% in 2014. This means that nearly everyone with an Internet connection in the UK has now bought something online and actually makes us the biggest adopters of eCommerce in the EU.

This increase also shows no signs of stopping any time soon. All predictions are that more & more products of increasing complexity will be purchased via a browser or app in the future. You only have look back at the types of products bought online just a few years ago… cheap, simple, off-the-shelf, branded and easily packaged- such as books and CD’s (which is how Amazon started off). But now practically everything gets bought online including: complex, expensive, bespoke and considered products – from cruise packages thought to tailored fashion clothing and hand-made furniture if you so wish.

So in my view, the eCommerce future for Scottish companies is very bright and Scottish companies should be no different to any other in the UK when it comes to online selling. There’s still huge opportunities to sell products (and even services) to customers in the UK, Europe, North America and even further afield. Whether you come from the suburbs of London or the shores of Loch Ness, it is possible to sell to the global village of 3.2 Billion online users (which is about 40% of the world’s population).

Unsure what will sell? Well tastes and trends change across the globe, so you shouldn’t necessarily restrict the products that you offer online. There’s also no physical limits on space, so why not put everything online and see what gets bought?

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Wearables in the workplace

Do you wear a fitness band or have a health tracker app running on your smartphone?

If you do, then you probably use it to track your personal activity such as: steps walked, energy spent, stairs climbed or average heart rate.

But could your employer benefit from your use of wearable technology and is this in your best interests?

Perhaps not, and here's why:

  1. Activity monitor company Fitbit is targeting companies with its products http://www.cio.com/article/2969973/fitbit-caters-to-corporations-and-not-just-with-discounted-fitness-trackers.html
  2. Court cases are now using fitness tracker data to back-up or discredit testimonies which rely on human movement 
Yup! And if this trend continues....

Monday, April 4, 2016

How to get 6800% ROI from a single eCommerce marketing campaign

Back in 2014, my consultancy (Ideal Interface) had an eCommerce client who was having a couple
of major issues:

  1. The Return On Investment (ROI) from their Affiliate Marketing efforts using voucher codes was highly variable, having a significant effect on sales margins
  2. Conversions rates were falling at key points in the checkout process, as customers were entering invalid voucher codes collected from across the web

The challenge was to take ownership back of the voucher code arena and develop a
marketing programme which would meet the following objectives:

  • Test and develop a Voucher Code campaign that users would go to directly and increase the ROI from Voucher Code usage
  • Reduce the impact on shopping checkout abandon rates where customers entered a Voucher Code
  • Encourage these voucher code users to join the e-mail marketing programme, to subsequently entice voucher code users to become regular customers
  • Devise and test a specific e-mail marketing programme for this list of customers that would increase the likelihood of purchasing again

So what happened?

  • It was established that users searching on Google for voucher codes were the best group of potential customers to target.
  • The first step was to test and develop a Google AdWords campaign based around keyword searches by potential customer using a range of brand name and voucher code related terms such as “<brand> code” and “<brand>; discount code”.
  • Then several adverts and discount offers were tested and optimised within the Google advert copy. This was done to see which would provide the best rate of return and to evaluate the propensity to sign up to an email marketing programme.
  • The impact on the shopping checkout rate was also monitored.
  • An e-mail marketing programme was subsequently devised for this specific list of customers and tests conducted to see which headings, offers and promotions encouraged them to buy again.

The results?

  • The Google AdWords Voucher Code campaign produced a staggering return on investment of over 6800%.
  • The drop-out rate at the shopping checkout stage for those attempting to use voucher codes halved.
  • Over 30% of customers recruited from the Google AdWords Voucher Code campaign went on to join the e-mail marketing programme.
  • Over 55% of customers joining the e-mail marketing programme purchased again within 2 months.