We all need to be where our customers are. That’s online and offline. It’s at exhibitions and events. It’s selling via ecommerce and persuading, face-to-face. Peak season is coming. Get ready to get busy.
Are you planning any outdoor events this summer? Get maximum exposure for your brand with low-cost outdoor displays. Our 52-page Outdoor Display Ideas Look Book has loads of ideas for this year’s summer season. Get your free copy now!
What is User Experience and why should I care?
UI/UX has become a bit of a buzzword online lately. But user experience doesn’t apply solely to online. Far from it, UI/UX originates from the real world around us.
UX stands for User Experience, another term for customer experience really. Only ‘user’ is broader, as ‘customer’ implies the user has bought something (or is at least there to browse/buy).
“User experience” encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.
It is everything! When making a purchase from a bricks and mortar store, it’s:
- How easy it was to find the store
- Traffic and parking
- The shop
- Friendly, helpful staff
- Product range
- How easy it was to find what you wanted
- Product advice
- Queues at the checkout
- Whether the box fits in the car
- How easy the product was to assemble
- How easy the product was to use
- Aftersales service
We could go on.
In that sense, it’s a lot like branding. Some people think a brand is just a logo. But it’s much more than that.
Redefining online sales
In 1999, Zappos founder Tony Hsieh tackled the seemingly impossible – selling shoes online. After all, 20 years ago the preference was to try shoes on for size. Who is going to buy them online?
But now Zappos are one of the largest online shoe retailers in the world. How? By providing an etail experience that rivalled the traditional retail experience. They already had some advantages:
- A far larger range of footwear then your average store.
- The convenience shopping from home brings vs going into town.
By defining a whole new level of customer service (the stories of just how far they will go to make a customer happy are legendary), and offering a remarkable approach to returns (unlimited free delivery AND returns), they really changed the game.
So there’s a big difference between ‘User Experience’ as a whole and improving someone’s experience while on your website. Having said that, it’s a fundamental part that’s increasingly becoming one of the most important parts of the cycle.
So here is some website advice to help you get some quick UX wins on the board.
Easy peasy lemon squeezy
Everyone will tell you the site needs to be simple, and easy to use. That’s a given.
But this becomes even more important when your customer is using their phone. Mobile commerce now accounts for 36% of UK retail sales. And more people than ever are making bookings and reservations while on the go.
So the first thing to address when tackling ‘is it easy to use?’ is the mobile experience.
If the text is too small to read, the buttons and links too fiddly to click, then this needs to be fixed. If you have to pinch and zoom to find your way around then count yourself out.
A responsive website will reflow and resize the content so your happy shopper can thumb through the steps. No hassle, fuss or bother.
“Did you find everything you were looking for today?”
It should be easy to find what you’re looking for. That applies whether it’s the product you pine for or the data you desire.
Just like a good SEO strategy, your user experience journey starts by focusing on the needs of the user.
Giving the customers what they want is a pretty good idea in business, full stop. But how do you know what they want from your website? You can start in four very simple ways.
- Asking your customers
- Seeing what questions you receive from the website
- Checking user flow in analytics
- Studying search data with search analytics report
Combining this knowledge will give you great insights into user intent.
- Why are people visiting your website?
- What are they hoping to find?
- What are they looking to do?
This will not only enable you to deliver the right kind of content, but will also help you map out the journey through the website. ‘Findability’ isn’t just a search box, it’s about guided exploration.
Like VIP guests arriving on a Hawaiian island, visitors should be gently guided so that they can flow seamlessly through each phase. Flower necklaces, effortless check in, let us take your bags, there’s the watersports guy, cocktails at the bar.
Ecommerce experience tips
Following on from findability, almost equally as important in terms of ecommerce is getting customers over the line. Here are five easy ecommerce tips to help improve this aspect of the online customer experience.
1. Transparent Delivery Charges
When you’re in the supermarket with a basket of groceries, you don’t tend to pop it down on the floor and walk out. That would be a bit bonkers. But people do this online. All the time.
And the #1 reason for cart abandonment? Adding extra costs at checkout.
Be as transparent about your delivery charges as possible. If you offer free delivery over £xx then place this message site wide in a prominent position.
Getting this right will encourage people to actually spend more with you, rather than dropping their basket. Learn more about how to set out your online store.
2. Click & Collect
Customers like to know an item is in stock before leaving home. They also don’t like to wait (or pay) for delivery. This explains why Click & Collect has become so popular.
Across all major retailers, over half are already offering Click & Collect, with many more planning to add it this year.
According to Internet Retailing magazine, more than 60% of Click & Collect shoppers go on to purchase further products during item collection.
Life’s not always black and white. The reason someone might remove an item from their basket could be down to a number of things. Often, it’s not a cold hearted change of mind, but instead it’s just not the right time.
By offering the ability to save the item, or add to wishlist, you provide an alternative that’s mutually beneficial.
You make it easier for the customer to return and buy the item at a later date. (This is also an acceptable reason to ask that they make an account). You also create a more casual browsing experience as wishlists subconsciously require less commitment than an ‘add to basket’ action.
4. Easy checkout
As well as appearing credible, it’s essential to make it as easy as possible for your customers to complete their purchase.
Forcing people to fill in boxes with their details in order to buy something is a major conversion killer. Reminiscent of those 80’s department stores that required you to have an account before buying from them. Remember them? No? Exactly!
So one of the most significant improvements you can make is to allow customers to checkout without requiring an account. You can always give them the option to create an account afterwards.
5. Thank you, come again
After the payment has been processed, you should redirect your customers to a page thanking them for their purchase. But don’t stop there, improve the customer experience by providing helpful links such as
- What happens next
- Create an account
- Track my order
- Product recommendations
Or make the most of this opportunity to interact with an engaged customer:
- Make it easy for them to share their recent purchase on social media
- Ask them to review their experience
- Encourage newsletter signup or competition entry
- Offer a limited time voucher on their next purchase
The best websites are never finished
They are living, growing things that need to be continually reviewed, updated and improved. Ask about how our concierge packages can help you to define the ultimate user experiences for your customers.
Foiled stamped flyers create a striking impression – stand out and strengthen your brand credibility.
Nettl.com of Liverpool incorporating printing.com take a thick 400gsm board, apply an ultra smooth luxury matt laminate finish and top it off with metallic gold or silver foil highlights. If you want to make an amazing impression and to stand out with something really special, then our Opuleaf Luxe Foiled Showcards are for you. Contact us today for your free samples.
Local businesses across the country are fighting back against the internet by providing customer experiences that simply cannot be delivered online. Stand out from the crowd and GET OUT there today.
Let office staff get more sunlight to make sure they’re getting enough vitamin D.
The Times recently reported that 91% of indoor workers had insufficient levels. The authors of the study involving 53,000 people suggested sunshine breaks during the working day would help address the issue.
Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones but that’s not all. There’s also a common belief that getting outdoors is beneficial to your overall health and wellbeing.
Ever felt fed up of being stuck indoors? Health experts coined the term ‘nature deficit disorder’ to describe the negative emotions caused by not spending enough time in the great outdoors.
On the flip side, when we do get to enjoy some time outside, feel-good neurons fire our brain that give us little rewards. This reduces stress and helps productivity, focus and creativity.
So what can you do about it?
Outdoor breaks aren’t just for smokers. Encourage staff to use their breaks to get some fresh air. No need to stay put by the percolator. Make drinks to go.
• Dine al fresco
No dinner at the desks please. Create a welcoming and social space for co-workers to catch up over quinoa.
• Work al fresco
Laptops don’t belong on desks. It makes them sad. Set them free. Help them realise their full potential. Shady spots help tackle glare. Sorting the social schedule? Grab a couple of markers and a big sheet of paper and take it outside.
• Meet me outside
Make the boardroom table the picnic table. Take the meetings out of ‘the box’ to get more blue sky thinking. Breakout areas on the lawn are way better for brainstorming than the same four walls.
How can we help?
Encourage workers to spend more time outside by creating the right environment. Check out our range of outdoor furniture by speaking to your local partner, downloading the fabric guide or finding ideas in the Summer Look Book.
You can customise the design with your logo, colours or images to help boost your brand and stay looking sharp.
Combine any mix of deckchairs, bean bags, tables, gazebos, flags and parasols to help stay safe when shade is needed.
Get started by talking to your local partner.
Be a great big brand strawberry. We’re all in business to attract attention and get picked. Right? The trick is making sure it’s us that customers want to pick. Find out how to get picked.
Nettl of Liverpool
On a regular basis here at Nettl of Liverpool, we’re still occasionally asked “what happened to Printing.com?” When you think about it, that’s kind of like asking “Where did Nettl of Liverpool come from?” Well, we’ll tell you!
Our business originally started in Liverpool under the aforementioned name of Printing.com, which was back in 2005 and as a two-person operation. At that time, our business focused solely on printing and design, providing professional material with an emphasis on high quality and eye-catching imagery for businesses of all sizes and sectors.
Based on Dale Street, one of the busiest streets within Liverpool’s business district, Printing.com quickly became a success, and was one of the more recognisable offices that people would see travelling in and out of the city centre over the next few years. However, as the world of technology changed with the growing importance of the internet, we had to change too, and so our evolution entered a key stage in 2015.
That year, we changed our name to Nettl, incorporating the Printing.com title since print and design remained a key part of our business strategy. However, these services were joined by website design and web development, ensuring that we could cater to the many SMEs in and around the region who require a first-class functional website at an affordable price. This would also lend itself into similar web options such as ecommerce and online booking. This was a crucial time for us, as it allowed us to expand beyond our previous reach, as well as encountering new, exciting opportunities.
In February 2016, we added another service in the form of exhibition design, in particular fabric exhibition stands, which allows ambitious companies to make a bigger impact at networking events and business conferences. The increased range of services necessitated the growth of our team of experts, which now includes Peter (managing director), Thomas, Emma and Stephanie. We have now been around for twelve years, remaining at our prominent office on Dale Street, and it’s been a remarkable journey thus far.
So, for those who still ask us “What happened to Printing.com?”, the answer is: we evolved, and we became the larger, busier and more prominent Nettl. We still offer print and design, but we offer many other equally-vital services for businesses too. And whilst it’s been a great ride so far, we’re even more excited about what the future brings, as we look towards the next step in the evolution of Nettl!
Last month we explored Merchandising your online store. Important tips to help create the retail space and showcase your swag.
Specifically, we looked at how successful ecommerce websites have taken principles from the high street, and applied them online.
But alas, it’s not always enough to just have a pretty shop with amazing images and decadent descriptions. That helps. But there’s typically only 3 reasons why someone won’t buy.
- They don’t need it right now
- They can’t afford it right now
- Or they don’t trust you.
Today, we’re going to deal with the last point.
Real shop vs web shop
There are lots of indicators in the real world in regards to trust. When you visit a shop, you can see what the place is like. Would you feel different if the luxury watch shop you’re about to visit is a garage at the back of a semi?
You get to meet sales assistants in a real store. If they are friendly and helpful then that alone can help to build trust. But you’ll also feel more confident about making a purchase if you believe you can pop back in, should you get any issues.
What’s more, unless you’re particularly important or your shopping habits are rather niche, chances are you will probably notice other people shopping at the same time as you. It’s human nature to find this reassuring.
But is it really all that different online?
It’s certainly a lot trickier to see this kind of stuff in cyberspace but there is still plenty we can do to send out the same reassuring signals.
Perception is reality and appearance is everything. You’ll have felt the almost subliminal vibes you get when you approach a shop that’s not quite up to scratch. Hmm, on second thoughts…
Quality design doesn’t have to be expensive. Sure, it might cost more than getting your neighbour’s son’s mate at the rugby club to knock something together. But as the famous saying goes. “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.” Red Adair.
What works on the high street:
Decent area, good signage, nice shop
What works online:
Quality branding, professional design, looks good across multiple screen sizes
You walk up to a cake shop, intending to have a conversation about a pug shaped 60th birthday cake for granny. But there’s something not quite right. There’s rubbish outside and the windows need cleaning. The cakes on display in the window are halloween themed. It’s March.
Inside there are boxes everywhere, empty shelves and faded posters on the wall. The shop owner has popped out. But that’s ok, you can read last November’s copy of Cosmo while you wait. Eek.
You’ll want to avoid this uncertainty online. Regularly maintaining the site and adding fresh content makes our online shop look open and ship shape.
What works on the high street:
Someone available, clean and tidy environment, up-to-date products / literature
What works online:
Up-to-date slides on homepage, fresh content on blog, regular audits to fix any broken links
Ever walked into a shop where there’s a little bell on the counter? ‘Ring for assistance’. No problem. Ding. Nothing. Polite wait because we’re British. Ding, ding. Nothing. There doesn’t appear to be anyone here. Hello??
Sounds a bit off-putting, right. So, on your website, make sure there are ample ways to get in touch. That could be as simple as a prominent phone number, social media links, or live chat.
Live chat can be an incredibly powerful way to convert online browsers into buyers. Just make sure you’ve the resources to power it. Be present, respond quickly. Like Yoda says “Do, or do not. There is no try”.
What works on the high street:
Attentive, friendly but unobtrusive sales assistants
What works online:
UK based landline, responsive social media, active live chat
In the real world, you expect a level of security in a store. Similarly online, you expect a website to be safe. Clearly that means no nasty pop ups or malware. It’s important to keep your website up-to-date to stamp out vulnerabilities.
But more commonly we’re talking about keeping your data safe. That’s personal details and credit card information. Having an SSL certificate installed on your site ensures you keep sensitive data safe. It also stops Google Chrome telling people your site is insecure, which can happen if you do not have SSL. Use recognised payment gateways to gain people’s trust. Talk to us about SSL, we can help.
What works on the high street:
Modern equipment, real people, accept major credit cards
What works online:
5. Social proof
People don’t like making buying decisions. It can stress them out.
So it comes as no surprise that we often prefer to delegate the due diligence to someone else. That’s why we’ll ask our friends and neighbours where they got theirs from.
Sometimes all it takes is a little recommendation from an existing customer and we’re happy to go with the flow.
What works on the high street:
Word of mouth, seeing other shoppers
What works online:
Testimonials, reviews, Trustpilot
Despite a rapid growth in confidence when ordering online, some people just prefer the natural assurances associated with visiting the high street. If you aren’t 100% happy with a product, the perception (although not always accurate) is that you can just take it back.
That’s usually easier to do with a shop purchase compared to online. To mitigate this, you may want to offer some assurances like free returns or a money back guarantee.
Depending on what you sell, distance selling regulations may mean you need to give consumers 14 days to change their mind anyway. But go over and above the minimum requirements to make a feature of your customer service and reduce any perception of risk. A hassle free returns process can alleviate potential worries and supercharge your online sales.
What works on the high street:
Being able to take something back
What works online:
Free returns, money back guarantee, accreditations
Here’s your cheat sheet to building trust and credibility on your online e-commerce store:
- Quality branding
- Professional design
- Looks good on desktop screens, tablets and phones
- Up-to-date slides on homepage
- Fresh content on blog
- Regular audits to fix any broken links
- UK based landline
- Responsive social media
- Active live chat
- Trusted payment gateways
- Using the latest version of software
- Clear policies
- Free returns
- Money back guarantee
Getting the most from selling online
Part one: Merchandising your online store
As more and more people get in the e-commerce action it’s important to remember how it all started. Shops and stores showcased their products, built their reputation, looked after their customer base and spread the word.
Although as technology and behaviour changes, and a whopping £133bn a year is spent online, has the philosophy behind retail success really changed at all? Or have popular e-commerce stores taken the essence of what works on the high street and simply delivered these values online?
It may seem like a whole new ballgame but the principles of our offline shopping experience remain steadfast in our experiences online. Utilising these principles in the online world will help you get the most from your website:
Merchandising your online store
Seeing as your product is the star of the show, today we’re going to start with #1, merchandising your online store. Let’s begin by checking off some important tips to help you showcase your swag.
Real world example of e-commerce merchandising done well
Online fashion retailer asos.com do pretty much everything right. The site is oozing with aspirational lifestyle images, detailed glamorous product images and cat walk videos.
On the one hand they face a significant challenge. After all, traditionally people like to browse a store and try clothes on. But on the other hand, they have the advantage of tapping into an emotive subject, fashion. Or even deeper, public perception and self image.
How important is photography to my webshop?
When you’re in a real shop, you see the item how it is. Not a small blurry version of it. Seeing is believing. So a lot of effort needs to go into reproducing that visual experience.
You’ve been on gumtree or eBay. The items with the best and most photos stand out. The ropey photos make you think twice. So it’s no surprise that e-commerce sites with great product images outperform ones without.
Good photography improves the perceived quality of your product, can communicate lifestyle values and increase how credible and trustworthy your site appears. We suggest you get a professional photographer to help. It’ll be a smart investment long term. You can use the photos in your marketing, as well as on your product pages.
We can arrange professional photography for you or make a local recommendation. However, if you do not have the budget available right now, you can always shoot the images yourself. Just be sure to consider your lighting and backdrop. Whether you’re using your smartphone or a decent camera, set up a mini studio. Use a tripod, lamp and studio tent. Aim for good light, contrast and consistency. No blurry images, kitchens, bathrooms or unrelated objects in sight!
What product descriptions work well?
Paint a picture. Quality product descriptions help get the sale over the line. They are also very useful for search engines. So your goal is to have words that not only describe the product, but go beyond that.
Sure, list the features, but what are the benefits?
What problem does the item solve? How does it make you feel?
The ‘feature’ of a toy product might be ‘batteries included’. The benefit is that the child can start playing with the toy straight away. Avoids the tears from disappointed littl’uns. Avoids frowning parents making an impromptu dash to the shops.
Tell stories about the product and use words that describe how it sounds, smells, feels, looks. These things will all help elicit an emotional response from the reader.
Scattered throughout this explanation should be a few choice keywords, for search reasons. But it’s important this sounds natural, like a real person would actually say it. No broken English or robotic sounding phrases – this will just put your buyer off.
When you walk around a shop, you don’t read every bit of information, it’s impossible. You scan for bitesize info that you can quickly act upon. This applies online too. So Use headlines, subheadings and bullet points within your description to make your text easier to pick out and absorb.
Does my e-commerce site need product reviews?
It helps, yes. Social proof. Just like in the real world, people are way more likely to believe what someone else has said about a product over what you’ve said yourself.
Especially if that someone has already bought and received the item. Did you know, 61% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase decision?
And if people are on the fence between a couple of options, they’re likely to go for the one with the most positive reviews. In fact, 50 or more reviews per product can lead to a 4.6 increase in sales.
What other information will help people buy?
It’s summer, you want to get fit and spend more time with the family. So find yourself meandering round a bicycle shop scouting for bikes for the family. It’s understandable that you might want some advice to help you decide what bikes suit you best.
Online, in the absence of a smiling sales assistant, your web shop needs to compensate by offering useful guides matched to expected customer queries.
In this instance, you’ll want to have content that explains what type of bike suits your usage, and especially a size guide. Content might be articles, illustrations or videos and could cover things like:
- Size guides,
- Performance charts,
- Assembly guides (if it’s simple!)
What type of video drives e-commerce sales?
Have you heard of the term ‘showrooming’? That’s where potential buyers peruse the high street shop to browse before hitting the internet to find the best deal online.
But reverse showrooming, or ‘webrooming’, occurs when customers browse online but head to a bricks and mortar shop to complete their purchase. There is an increased risk of this when your website either fails to provide enough information about the product. Or the consumers desire to see the product in action isn’t met.
There’s no better substitute for actually being there than video. Until AR/VR takes over then it’s the best thing we’ve got to demonstrate what the product looks like and how it’s used. Videos that showcase product dimensions, as well as product functionality tend to be really helpful.
Ultimately, it’s good to have video because tests show product videos help sell more.
- 71% of shoppers think video explains the product better
- 58% think companies with product videos are more trustworthy
It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. The videos on asos.com are simple but effective. They film the model wearing the clothes marching glamorously onto the set, ready to take the photos. Two birds, one stone.
As a guide shorter videos work best. But although reviews are generally a good thing, research has shown that videos of someone reviewing a product, tended to be a flop with the audience.
How can I design my website to upsell more products?
In stores, product placement is important. Items are often grouped together or advertised as a bundle. Coffee pods by the coffee machines, matching bathroom decor, a discount on shaving products with purchase of razor, that sort of thing.
Plus we are bombarded with last minute impulse buys. Whether it’s batteries by the conveyor belt or the friendly sales assistant on the till. How often have you been asked to consider something extra that you hadn’t originally put in your basket? We heard about one petrol station asking their customers if they’d be interested in the chewing gum deal. Possibly a bit rude. Gum, anyone?
But it works and that’s why they do it. Your website can do this even better, because it can offer a never-ending array of products to you, without getting annoying. Imagine someone at the checkout offering you one product after another, how annoying. And yet your website can display dozens of products throughout the customer journey. As you browse the pages, as you add items to your wishlist and basket, it can follow you around saying “Wow, great choice. Why not get this with it? Other customers bought them together you know.”
What makes an effective webshop category page?
Supermarkets and department stores organise their goods into sections, aisles and departments, so shoppers can make better sense of it all. It helps people find what they want quickly, immerses them in a relevant environment, and adds an element of control to the customer journey.
This is where your category pages come in. They add structure, navigation, enjoyment and momentum to the shoppers journey.
Good category pages will introduce shoppers to subcategories, holding their hand through the journey and guiding them effortlessly to the products they are looking for.
Make sure you use enticing images and descriptions. They will be useful and reassuring for your visitors and also a great place to put your key search terms, ready for those googlebots to find.
Include a customer service bar at the top to build trust. This section could feature a phone number, free delivery message and hassle free returns badge. Don’t overload it with too much info, just enough to reassure the buyer and nudge them along.
How can I keep on top of stock control?
High street stores have limited space. Efficient stock control is the key to having the right amount of stock in the right place, maximising the opportunity for sales.
Most ecommerce platforms have systems in place to help you stay in control of stock levels. But what if you have a physical shop too? How can your till, website, and inventory software keep talking to maintain a healthy stress-free relationship?
- We’ll import your products from your system
- Review products, add images and detailed descriptions
- Sync your stock levels automatically
- When you sell an item, the stock on your till is automatically updated
- Get paid into your merchant account and process the order
- Despatch or allow ‘click and collect’ and send email notifications to clients
Contact your local studio to get started.
So you see, the values embedded in successful bricks and mortar retail can be harnessed to great effect online, where the potential for sales is greater.
Hope you found part one useful. Coming next, part two, building trust.
But for now, in the words of retail, ‘Thanks, please come again’.