Imagine the excitement of going travelling, visiting those far-off places that you’ve always dreamed of.

Perhaps you’re finishing university and intending to take a gap year (or two) to travel the world. Maybe you’re taking your family on their first holiday abroad or simply heading off with friends for a well-earned holiday. Whatever the reason, the challenge of storing your travel documents securely, whilst ensuring you have access to everything you need in an emergency is vital. That’s where Mayday comes in.

Mayday is a web portal that can be accessed via a physical QR-coded tag, which can be worn as a bracelet, necklace, or simply as a keychain on a bag. Mayday offers vital support in a range of situations, including:

Mayday Mobile Screenshots

User experience and security were at the forefront of this project. With highly sensitive and personal information, we needed to be sure that everything was stored securely. Therefore we have added varying permission levels which are controlled by the account holder so that only the correct information is displayed upon scanning the QR code.

Our design team worked closely with our technical team to ensure that we developed an intuitive on-boarding process with clear signposting throughout.

“The Mayday team were a delight to work with. They ‘got’ the brief right away, hit the brand position first time, and delivered on time and on budget.”
James Dunford Wood, CEO

Mayday Desktop Screenshot

Mayday provides reassurance to both the traveler and their friends and family and we’re excited to continue to support Mayday as the platform grows.

Head over to mayday.travel to take a look and sign up for yourself.

This limited-edition article is available for a short time only… read it now before it’s too late!

Just kidding. But you get the idea…We only need to look at the speed at which loo roll stocks flew off the shelves at the start of the pandemic, or the difficulty of getting hold of lateral flow tests after the announcement of Omicron, or the hype around queuing for ticketed events (Glastonbury comes to mind, and Adele’s recent tour) to conclude that people respond quickly to news that a product is only available for a short period of time.

Ticket

With everything and anything becoming available to buy online, stock “drops” – the marketing phenomena by which limited-availability products or services are released without much warning – are increasingly being employed by sellers to create new hype, energy and brand loyalties in the market.

Limited stock drops might not be the right strategy for your business, but nonetheless you can learn from the marketing tactics that fuel the phenomenon.

What are limited product “drops” and why are they so successful?

The rise of product “drops” is associated with the rise of “sneaker culture” in the 70’s and 80’s. With cheap, widespread mass-production, street-wear brands found a way to paint their products as rare or luxurious, creating hype and brand loyalty.

But stock drops have come a long way since the rise of e-commerce, and now the powerful business tool has fully entered the mainstream.

Marketing ploys inspired by stock drops take many forms, from limited editions to spontaneous releases. They tap into the same strategy that drives the success of price reduction sales, creating one-off items that ask the customer to make a sudden decision in the face of extreme buying pressure. The urgency and immediacy of stock drops feed into the customer’s Fear Of Missing Out (fomo) and drives decision-making buying actions. They are accompanied by a sense of community – the proximity of waiting in line for a specified product creates both customer-to-brand and customer-to-customer intimacies and engagement.

Not only does dropping stock for a limited time only create a new illusion of a product being special and one-chance-to-buy, but it can actually help a manufacturer save money on overheads, because they don’t have to make more than will be sold.

Queue

Who is acing the limited drop strategy?

The most notable examples are the brands that brought the marketing phenomenon to the attention of the retail industry – the big street-wear names. Street-wear giants Supreme are most notable for being the first brand to make a big name for itself through limited production runs, which they continue to succeed with today, releasing a new product drop on a weekly basis. Other brands such as Nike and Adidas have followed suit by structuring their supply chains around creating buzz and excitement around the next limited-availability product, supported by apps such as Nike’s SNKRS and Adidas’ Confirmed.

Now all types of brands, from luxury fashion to fast-food restaurants and hotel-booking sites are using the marketing tool to bring in revenue. Even Amazon employs the tactic sometimes by giving Prime members a certain window of time to watch a series’ episode in advance, before the whole show airs.

The internet and the rise of the drop

For releases that create even a small amount of buzz, the internet can take it to the next level. Social media, news platforms, and online communities further expand the brand’s marketing. As you would expect, social media contributes to circulation of information around a product drop as users spread excitement about what’s coming up next, allowing micro-communities to flourish and hype to grow. Furthermore, apps such as Shopify’s Frenzy and websites like thedropdate.com keep consumers up-to-date on the latest releases from brands.

warehouse

What you need to know about limited drops for your e-commerce website

By advertising products as, for example, limited-availability! or almost out of stock! your e-commerce website needs to be fast enough to offer a super quick, convenient check out procedure with a secure payment gateway.

The long queues that are characteristic of stock dropping to a brick-and-mortar store can be created online, too. Brits are used to this, supposedly; it’s in our culture to queue for high-demand products (in fact a 2017 study showed that Brit spends 52 days of their life in a queue). So, if you’re predicting high traffic for your website, it’s essential you are prepared to deal with website queues.

Real-time tracking notifications

Even if you don’t want to change your manufacturing plans to ride the dropping trend in a big way, you can increase the must-have appeal of what you’re selling through smaller tactics, even just in the language you use on your website.

For example, many e-commerce websites have real-time notifications that inform consumers of live updates into other buyers’ behaviours. For example, notifications might appear on the screen saying: x number of people bought this item in the last hour, or John just signed up for our newsletter, you can too…

Argos
The Argos site shows how many other people are viewing the same product you are

But drop the idea if it’s not for you

Whether or not to employ limited drop marketing tactics is highly dependent on your target audience and service. You should only target your audience with a limited drop if it will make them feel understood, and closer to your brand. Sometimes, a thoughtful, personal slowed-down shopping experience is still preferred over novelty items, so think about who you’re targeting so that your customer feels understood. The last thing you need is for your audience to feel that your brand is disingenuous or trying to create a product into a high-demand item when it is not.

Nevertheless, it is worth asking how to douse your brand in a certain must-have appeal, even if that appeal is about the experience you offer.

Choosing a platform for your ecommerce website is never easy. Finding the right combination of price, functionality, ease of development, performance and security to meet your unique set of needs can be a real balancing act – especially in a rapidly evolving market, writes Managing Director Ant Agar. 

For more than 20 years, Infotex has been on a journey of discovery: we’ve seen technology change, watched a multitude of platforms come and go and, of course, we’ve built our own as well. It’s safe to say that, over the years, we’ve learned a lot

In the early noughties, we dabbled with a handful of open-source shopping systems but ultimately found them restrictive, both technically and creatively. We much preferred bespoke development, because it enabled us to guarantee our clients that their ecommerce system would work and would do the things they specifically needed of it. 

That commitment to our customers, and desire to work collaboratively to build products that directly answer a need, led to the development of our flagship products: “MozCart,” “SpaceCart,” and “FlexiStore,” as well as, over time, more than 100 more.  They were a huge success for high profile customers including Micro Scooters, Adnams and Nomad Travel. And many of the products are still live today. 

But the age of bespoke, like the age of steam, had to end. Budgets were squeezed and clients increasingly expected generic features and third-party integrations via plugins

Responding to the changes, we developed ecommerce libraries on Symfony and explored Drupal commerce. We also noticed that clients were starting to request Magento sites but, although we looked into the software and supported some clients with their Magento systems, it just was not the right fit for our clients at the time. The majority of whom are small businesses with under £10million of annual sales online.

But Magento remained a name on many people’s lips. In 2017, I attended the Magento conference determined to figure it out, once and for all. And I’m glad I did. I came away with a much clearer understanding of the platform itself, the ecosystem around it, the investment it requires and the businesses it suits. 

So, is Magento a good choice for your business? Here are my key takeaways:

Budget

If the maximum budget for your new website is less than £80,000, you should consider carefully whether you will be able to achieve a good implementation. 

Of course, there will always be plenty of providers out there who will say they can do it for less, but this isn’t the place to skimp. 

We often hear of clients who are struggling to get the Magento platform working well for them, because they’ve under-invested in the build and underestimated its complexity to manage.

Hosting

This is another core area in which we often see businesses underestimate. Magento’s complexity can be its strength, but it does mean that powerful hosting is a must. 

In our experience, businesses need a budget of several hundred pounds per month for the level of hosting required. If that doesn’t sound feasible, it might be wise to consider an alternative platform. There’s absolutely nothing worse than a slow site.

Sales 

Do you have thousands of products to sell, hundreds, or just a handful? 

The volume of product you’re shifting is going to dictate whether or not the Magento system will be a worthwhile investment. 

Ongoing Investment 

Magento isn’t a system that you can leave to run itself. Its complexity means that it does demand ongoing investment in both time and budget. 

From my understanding, the associated monthly running costs are in the thousands, not the hundreds; and the time and effort involved can be a challenge. 

You will need to keep investing if you’re going to continue to deliver reliable performance and the expected user experience. 

The table below is intended to help you think about which platform might suit you best. 

The decision to implement a product like Magento will bring cost and complexity, so it’s important to consider whether your business is the right size and shape.   Our experience has been, for nearly all of our clients, that the less complex platforms can deliver all they need to grow their brands and online sales. In short, the time for Magento is when you are no longer worried about the website cost, as your business is large enough to have plenty of other things to worry about!

If you need support or guidance on what ecommerce website is right for you, we can help. Get in touch today, and we can help make a website that works for you.

With Stripe’s Payment Link system you can quickly create a page for customers to safely provide their contact details and purchase. This could be used for selling tickets to a one-off event (with a fixed value), gift vouchers, or even for recurring subscription payments.  As the name suggests, you provide a specific link to your customer which relates to a certain product. They go to that page, hosted on Stripe’s secure servers, and enter their details.

Customer’s can even pay via Apple Pay or Google Pay, making it a super quick way to checkout. Not only that, Stripe’s clear pricing model of 1.4% + 20p a transaction with no monthly fees makes it very competitive.

We’ve created a demo Stripe Payment Link example here, with the majority of features enabled. Note that the system doesn’t work like a shopping basket, you can only buy the product the link has been created for, so its not a substitute for an e-commerce store.

Demo Screen

Getting Set Up

Firstly, go to stripe.com and register for an account if you haven’t got one already. At this point you can choose to use the ‘test mode’ to see if this solution will work for you, or if you’re happy to dive in select Activate Account.

Go to the Payments section of the Dashboard, and select Payment Links in the left hand navigation.

Select New from the top right to create your first link.

Product Setup

You’ll need to create a new “Product” to sell. This could be for a service or subscription you offer, or for a physical product. Click into the “Find or add a product” box then “Add a Product”.

new Stripe product

In the popup complete the name of the product and the price. You can select either a One Time price, or one that’s recurring. Within the recurring options you can set the frequency of the recurrence, from daily up to yearly. Set up the pricing carefully as once you’ve created it you will be unable to edit it.

Stripe Product Creation

If you wish, upload an optional photo, this will show on the payment page so can be a visual clue to a customer they are purchasing the correct time. Images should be a jpg or PNG file smaller than 2mb.

Select Add Product to create the product.

Payment Page Settings

Once you’ve created your product you’ll see a preview of the payment page on the right hand side.

Stripe-Payment-Link-Setup

There are a variety of settings you can customise for your payment link:

Use of promotion codes – Enabling this allows customers to use discount coupons. Coupons can be created as either a percentage discount, or a fixed value amount, and can be limited to a set period of time or total number of times it can be redeemed. These are created on the main Stripe dashboard under Products : Coupons.

Adjust the quantity they can purchase – This allows a user to purchase multiple of the product you are offering.

Collect customer’s addresses – Allows a customer to provide a billing and shipping address. If you select Shipping you can select which countries you wish to ship to.

Collect tax automatically – You’ll have to do a bit more configuration to get this working, detailing your business details and item origins, but once done it’ll auto calculate tax rates.

Confirmation Page – You can either show the default Stripe confirmation page with a custom message, or redirect users to a page on your own website. You can toggle the preview of this at the top right.

Once you’re happy with you page click the Create Link button at the top right. You’ll be presented with an overview of what you’ve just set, and the all important link button at the top, so you can view your new page.

Styling Your Page

You will likely want your page styled to match your brand, although the default styling is usable out of the box. To style your page go to the Cog icon at the top right, and select Branding. In here you can assign a logo, and brand and accent colours. These will then be applied to your payment page and email receipts.

stripe-payment-branding

That’s it! Copy the link you created earlier and share it via email or on social media posts.

Taking It Further

It’s great that you’ve been able to take a payment, but most companies will want to do something more with the data once an order has been place. Stripe integrates with Zapier, a hugely flexible system that links different platforms together.

A popular integration is Google Sheets, so any order placed will appear as a new row. This means you can add additional information to them, such as tracking order status or delivery tracking codes.

For further information on linking Zapier to Stripe see their help page.

 

 

 

This year’s Black Friday on 26th November is set to be more notable than ever, as shoppers seek to buy their Christmas gifts early amid fears of shortages. 

Whether you offer discounts and sales or not, the huge increase in online traffic over the Black Friday weekend means there is a heightened opportunity for you to pick up those much-needed target customers. With almost a third of retail sales now occurring online in the UK, the biggest retail event of the year is not an e-commerce opportunity you want to miss…

What is Black Friday?

Black Friday is a US-inspired commercial holiday that falls on the day after Thanksgiving to signify the start of the Christmas shopping period.  Coined in Philadelphia in the 1950s, Black Friday made its way to our shores in 2010 when American giant Amazon offered Black Friday deals here in the UK. Cyber Monday lands on the Monday after Black Friday, 29th November.  An online-only event limited strictly to 24 hours, Cyber Monday is seen as the 21st-century response to Black Friday due to the rising use of e-commerce by consumers. After the online spending boom during the 2020 lockdowns, this year’s Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekend is going to be unavoidable for online retailers looking to embrace changing consumer habits. 

Why is it so popular?

The sale has long been a way for retailers to drive up revenue, so you may be asking yourselves why is this anything different from the norm? Though Black Friday’s popularity initially stemmed from its (perceived) sizable savings and huge discounts, the mainstream media have since been responsible for its growing prominence in the UK retail market.  It became infamous for the much-publicized hysteria and frenzies that grip a bargain-hungry public. The media circus surrounding the event was the perfect marketing tool to advertise the huge discounts on offer, triggering its exponential growth. 

Our top tips to get your e-commerce website ready for the Black Friday & Christmas

1. Mobile optimisation

Mobile and tablet sales already dominate the e-commerce market and are set to increase year on year. You can optimise your site with a user-friendly cross-device design, and even consider creating a mobile app for your business, to encourage mobile users to purchase your products.  

2. Omnichannel presence 

Different demographics search and shop differently online, so it is important to cover all the channels that might be reaching your target audience. This means developing great marketing campaigns for email and social media, and Pay Per Click advertising. 

3. Prioritise delivery options 

Customers are used to being given a range of convenient delivery options, something you must provide if you are to stay ahead of your competitors. Click and Collect services, fast and secure delivery, and ensuring a clear return policy can be game-changing for customers  at checkout. 

4. Provide smooth payment options  

At checkout, customers on any device need to be able to quickly and securely pay for their purchases. Check out our guide to the best payment gateways to make sure you’re offering optimum payment services to keep those conversions coming. 

5. Optimise for SEO

Shoppers using search engines need to be able to find your business if you offer relevant services and products. This can’t happen unless your site is optimised for search engines, meaning your site infrastructure, content, keywords, speed, and user experience, among others, have to be thoroughly thought-through to increase your site’s rankings. Click here for more information on ranking factors for SEO.

6. Maintain a high-speed website 

If your site is slow you risk losing customers to an increased bounce rate and decreased SEO rankings. You can optimise your site speed by caching your web pages and making sure images are properly optimised.

7. Don’t underestimate the power of reviews 

In the online world, reviews are highly valued by customers as verification of your site and services, creating traffic, leads, and making conversions. Make sure you feature on multiple review platforms so that your business can maintain its reputation, exposure, and bring in trusting customers. 

8. Consider live chat and chatbots

Just as in store, your customer experience needs to be the best that it can. As well as providing clear contact information, you might consider implementing customer service chatbots on your website in order to maintain good communication with site visitors. Alternatively, having a live chat service so visitors can directly talk to someone. Live chat is often much more convenient for a user than making a telephone call or a protracted email correspondence.

9. Test that your site can handle extra traffic 

Particularly if you are putting on big sales and offers, your website traffic over the Black Friday weekend could be greater than usual. To ensure your site has the infrastructure to handle surges in traffic, speak to us today for advice.  

10. Secure your site 

It’s vital for you and your customers that you keep your website safe, and that you communicate your site’s security to visitors. Aside from having technically robust site infrastructure, you can also enable SSL so your customer feels secure at checkout, and display safe checkout and trust badges on your site. 

For help and advice on how to optimise your website, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Receiving prompt and secure payment for orders placed via your website is absolutely vital to any e-commerce system, but selecting and setting up the right payment gateway can often be hurried low on the agenda when setting up a new site.

The payment gateway sits as a middleman between your customer’s bank and your bank. During this process the credit or debit card is validated, checks made to ensure funds are available, anti-fraud analysis run, and then (eventually) funds are transferred to your bank. 

Ecommerce Payment Guide

Internet Merchant Account

To take payments online you will probably need an internet merchant account (IMA). Some gateways are an all-in-one solution and don’t require an IMA, such as Stripe. An Internet Merchant Account is different from your business bank account, you can’t pay in or withdraw from it – it’s just an intermediary account. The IMA enables you to start accepting online payments when used in conjunction with a payment gateway.

Internet Merchant Accounts can be obtained via your existing bank, or from some payment service providers (PSPs). The bank or the PSP will assess the risk of the business trading online, and for new companies, without a banking history, this can be a drawn-out process.

Choosing how to take payments

For taking payments a customer can either remain on your website to enter their card details (onsite transaction) or be taken to the gateway’s website to pay (offsite transaction). The former has an increased process for PCI compliance (see below). 

Within these, there is a subset of gateways, such as Apple Pay, Google Pay and PayPal, where a user has a payment method (either a card or bank details) and contact information stored in their account with the gateway. This means a customer only needs to authenticate the transaction, such as logging in or using a or login to pay. Having these on your site can increase the conversion rate.

Anti-Fraud

Sadly, as with any financial transaction, taking payments online carries a risk of fraud. All payment providers will have a level of anti-fraud technology, screening cards and customer information and grading the results. Some systems will auto-block transactions with a high risk, others will flag them so you can make a decision. There is a careful balance to find between preventing fraud and not making it difficult for real customers to pay. 

3D Secure transactions, where a customer is prompted to enter a password/code to complete the transaction, are covered by a liability shift. Should a 3D Secure transaction be claimed as fraudulent, the onus moves from you to the card issuer.

PCI-DSS Compliance 

PCI Compliance

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard is a set of worldwide requirements which aim to protect cardholder information from theft and fraud. If you take any sort of credit/debit card data (including card machines) you must comply with the standards and take steps to prove you have done so to your bank.  This is usually done via a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA), companies that will be helping you perform PCI compliance assessments.  Failure to be PCI compliant can result in fines from your bank and the loss of the ability to take card payments.

If you use an offsite payment method then you should be able to complete a yearly Self Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) to achieve compliance. If you take onsite payments this will involve a much more detailed questionnaire and a regular vulnerability security scan of your website and network. Using a virtual terminal (see below) will also increase your PCI requirements as you are directly handling customer’s card data. 

For more information on PCI DSS please visit https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/  

Extra Features

Selecting a gateway shouldn’t just be about transaction fees – also check what additional services and features are available.

Virtual Terminals
A virtual terminal allows you to process card payments over the phone or via their written instructions, typing their details into your computer. You will need to see if you require a Mail Order Telephone Order (MOTO) merchant account to take advantage of a virtual terminal. Note that virtual terminals will affect the requirements of your PCI compliance.

Reporting
Reconciliation of accounts is also vital to any business, so having clear and accurate information on tap in a useful format is a huge benefit. 

Invoicing & Link Payments
Some providers allow you to issue invoices directly from their platform to your customers. The invoices contain a link to pay directly online via card, so often get paid much quicker than traditional paper invoicing.

If you’re not after full invoicing, some platforms have the ability to send a simple link to a customer via email, which takes them to a payment page to enter card information.

Integrations
Maybe they offer direct integration to your accounts software or add-ons that allow for recurring payments, but check out add-ons or plugins that extend the functionality of the gateway. Also be aware of future requirements you may have, such as taking payments in other currencies and check that your chosen gateway can do those.

 

PayPal

PayPal always comes up in discussions about online payments, being one of the most popular ways to receive online payments and very easy to set up. A common misconception is that customers need a PayPal account in order to pay, however, customers can use their credit or debit cards directly. Unfortunately, this isn’t always made clear to customers as they checkout which puts off a lot of merchants from using it as their sole gateway. 

A big positive for existing PayPal customers is they have your details saved – both contact and card information. This means that the customer saves time by simply logging in to their account and accepting the transaction amount they have paid, instead of filling in forms and finding a payment card. Just having the PayPal logo on your site can encourage customers to pick your store.

PayPal has a range of ways to receive payments online, the most basic of which is PayPal buttons. These are super basic Buy Now or Pay with PayPal buttons that you can add to your site with a little bit of code. Customers can then click on them, be taken to PayPal, and then either login and pay by their existing PayPal account, or via credit or debit card.

As a step up from that is PayPal Checkout. This integrates with your ecommerce store so customers can have a basket full of items to checkout with, again being taken to PayPal to complete their purchase.

PayPal has also recently added PayPal Credit, where customers can buy now and pay later, with 0% interest on orders over £99. Customers are pre-approved, and obviously terms and conditions apply. This is all handled on PayPal’s side, so from a merchant point of view doesn’t require you to do anything. 

PayPal isn’t always the most popular with merchants though, with higher than average transaction fees if you’re a low volume merchant, and there have been reports of accounts being suspended with little to no notice.

 

Opayo

Previously known as Sage Pay, Opayo is a very popular payment gateway. This is more of a traditional gateway, where the customer is asked to enter their payment details – so no quick checkout with saved cards as with PayPal. 

Opayo has a range of site integration methods, both on and off-site, and can accept deferred and recurring payments. They have a few pricing plans, with the most basic starting at £25p/m for 350 transactions.

 

Stripe

Stripe may not be a name familiar to everyone, but it’s used on thousands of sites, including deliveroo, Waitrose, and booking.com. They have competitive transaction fees with no setup or monthly costs. It is easily integrated into WooCommerce and allows you to take Apple Pay and Google Pay as well. The admin area is a little busy and takes a while to learn.

 

Worldpay

Another of the big names in online payments, Worldpay offer an onsite or offsite payment gateway integration. Prices start at £19 per month, and minimum contract applies. Outside of that their fee structure is opaque and requires you to contact them. They also offer physical card terminals, for those of you doing face to face payments.

 

Notable Others

 

Google Pay Apple Pay

Like PayPal, Google Pay and Apple Pay are hugely powerful logos to have on your site. People know they will be able to checkout quickly, as their payment and delivery details are already saved on their device. Usually, you would have other payment options alongside Google Pay and Apple Pay, for people to purchase with a debit or credit card. Integration is also usually done via another payment gateway, for example if you use Stripe and WooCommerce you can enable them without having to register for separate accounts.

 

Not strictly a payment gateway, GoCardless allows you to take recurring payments directly from your customer’s bank accounts. GoCardless are effectively a modern take on Direct Debits, which is the basis of their system is built upon. 

 

Klarna

Klarna allows customers to split their payments across multiple interest-free instalments. Klarna pays the merchant for the product as soon as the customer completes their purchase. Again, it’s another option that isn’t clear on their transaction fees, but it’s somewhere around 2.49%+20p per transaction. This option can be popular with customers, but there are grumblings about being refused payment options and charges being taken when goods had been returned.

 

WooCommerce Payments

WooCommerce Payments is built on the backbone of Stripe, with identical fee structure, it provides an integrated interface directly into your WooCommerce store admin area for managing payments. Customers can pay directly in your website without leaving to go to a separate gateway site, and save their card details for faster payments in the future.

 

Final Thoughts

It’s always best to speak to your web development agency before engaging with any payment gateway, as they will have experience with a wide range of them and can help you navigate the pitfalls. They will also be familiar with what gateways your ecommerce site can work with, as some platforms are harder to integrate than others and while you may save a few pounds on your transaction fees the initial integration fees can offset that. 

Word on the street is… the word’s gone online

You probably like reading reviews before you purchase a product or service, right? They’re our most trusted source of, well, whether to trust something. Reviews are an essential marketing tool – drawing traffic, creating leads, and making conversions.

People sometimes put off signing up to review sites for fear of receiving negative online reviews, or even none at all. However, you need business reputation to drive traffic, and there are ways to cope with negative online reviews should they arise. Indeed, even negative customer reviews are important because they can help you to see where you might need to improve your customer service.

Maybe you want to be on all the review sites to get the most exposure as possible, or maybe you want to start with just one.  Either way, we’ve put together some of the most popular review platforms out there. These cover the biggest B2C and B2B review sites, but of course there are many more out there for particular service and target consumer niches.

B2C review platforms

Amazon Customer Reviews

Feefo

Google Customer Reviews

Influenster

Tripadvisor

Trustpilot

Which?

Yelp

 

For B2B

G2

TrustRadius

 

For B2B and B2C 

GlassDoor

YellowPages

 

Don’t forget about your own website…

Whether you’re business can be found on lots of reviewing platforms or not, don’t forget to include some of those all important testimonials you receive on your own website.  If you don’t wish to use a 3rd party like Feefo or Trustpilot then many website platforms such as WordPress or Shopify have their own on-site review systems you can use to get valuable customer feedback automatically.

Business reviews can appear in search results

Business reviews and ratings are now often included in search results. Google, for instance, will often directly display online business reviews and consumer ratings following a search, as shown below.

How can businesses get more reviews?

It may have killed the radio star, but it can sustain your business

With internet sales accounting for over a third of all retail sales in the UK, we thought we would dig deeper into the trends keeping ecommerce businesses ahead of the game. And first, it is video.

You may know already that the younger generation are the video generation… and they’re only going to continue growing. TikTok, Amazon Live, InstagramTV… it’s hard to ignore that video is the desired content. In fact, data from The State of Video Marketing Survey 2021 suggests that the average person watches 18hrs of video content every week (2.5hrs per day).

No wonder YouTube remains the second largest search engine in the world. Since its first video upload (“Me At The Zoo”) in 2006, it has grown and grown. Easy to upload to, and easy to embed into your site, it can also help you gain additional exposure in search engine result pages. And it’s free.

Me at the zoo

Video is the best virtual option for bringing people closer to a real-life retail experience. ASOS were one of the first to allow users to get a view of how their clothes look on a real person while they walk up and down – not exciting, but video that is certainly well appreciated by their customers. 

Now some stores even have virtual fitting rooms – like Visualook – so that you can make sure you get the perfect size. In our current pandemic situation more than ever, people are looking to live out physical experiences recreated as closely as possible online. 

How does video help you reach customers, and keep them?

You’ve probably heard by now that, as a result of technology, most people online have a shorter attention span than a goldfish (8 seconds compared to their superior 9). This means that there is a small window to catch someone’s attention on your website homepage or in their social media thread. Videos are proving the most effective way to do that. 

Videos get more likes and shares

In case we need confirmation of the attention-grabbing quality of video… it says it all that people are twice as likely to share video content with their contacts than other types of content such as text, images or audio. This has big benefits for social media expansion. 

Video benefits SEO

Video is rankable on search engines, and so it can help increase traffic to your website in the same way as text and keywords can. Videos will not only increase your organic traffic in this way, but are easily shared on social media, which in turn leads users to look up your product in search engines for more information. 

Videos build trust

Having videos on your ecommerce website builds trust between you and your customer. Clients can more clearly and accurately see the product depicted, and are therefore more likely to believe that they will get what they pay for. What’s more, the investment you make in the creation of the video informs your client of how strongly you believe in the value of your product.

Video increases ROI, sales, and reduces returns

When customers feel properly informed about a product, they are more likely to convert to sale. Similarly, knowing what to expect in a product means that customers are less likely to return an item if they’ve seen it on a video.

What kind of ecommerce videos work?

The most commonly-created type of video for ecommerce are explainer videos. Quite simply, they explain your product or service. Often animations, such videos provide the means to concisely and effectively communicate what your business proposition has to offer. Dropbox notoriously found its market through its explainer videos released by founder Drew Houston to communicate his concept. 

One of our clients, Access Garden Products, uprooted some of their archive video guides from the 1990s and recreated them for their current products. Take a look on their website: www.garden-products.co.uk.

Garden Products

Which video types might you have on your ecommerce website?

Product demos

The closer a product looks online to how it really is when a customer receives it, the less likely it is to be returned. Product demos help a client to know what to expect from a product, and this increased trust means increased conversions.

Unboxing videos

Take away that element of dissatisfaction that flashes across a customer’s face when the parcel just isn’t quite what they expected… Are mugs usually so small?

“How-to” videos

By offering a step-by-step guide to how to use your product, your clients will  know what to expect and thus feel more secure in their purchase decision making. 

Story videos

Everyone is drawn to narratives, so having a short story video on your site can be an effective way to get clients interested in your brand or product in a personal way. 

Comparison videos

Online shopping can be overwhelming, even just in terms of choosing from the sheer range of products on offer. A comparison video can help a client decipher between two similar products on the market, and clearly outline the pros and cons of each to take away some of that purchasing reluctance, and help them make an informed choice. 

Testimonial videos   

User-generated videos are on the rise, and, in the same way as written reviews, can do wonders in building a potential client’s trust in your product or service. 

With 2.14 billion people worldwide predicted to buy goods and services online in 2021, it’s no wonder everyone’s talking about the future of ecommerce. We’re dealing with an ‘ecommerce supercycle’, as termed by the major ecommerce platform Shopify, after seeing 10 years of ecommerce growth happen in just 90 days in 2020. 

In the UK, internet sales account for over a third of all retail sales in the UK. Rapid growth, however, is decreasing, and will likely decrease further into 2021 (as global recession is set to reduce total retail spending). Yet it is still important to look at this boom to see what we can expect from consumer habits in the years to follow. M&S’s new mantra from last May, “Never the Same Again”, may have seemed a bit drastic, but it marked what we now know was a necessary transition of the company toward online business, and is one that we might all need to keep in mind in order to make it into the future market. 

So, let’s take a look at online spending trends, and, most importantly, what you can do about them to help your business. 

Technology is personalising the game

The implementation of personal information analysis is set to become a regular eCommerce trait. With the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning, ecommerce relies more and more on collecting user-journey data, including demographics, browsing habits, and buying history. This means that, using consumer data, machines can personalise the shopping experience to each user, uniquely. 

For an example of how you can personalise your website, read more about Smart Content Loading in our blog. 

The age-range of online shoppers is broadening

It only takes a pandemic to drive people to order online, and, once in the habit, you know how easy it is. This goes for all platforms, including social media. Before, social media ads tended to target the 25-54 age range group, but as our parents start to communicate on Instagram and the like (welcome, Boomers), online media advertising is becoming broader, and evermore targeted.

In fact, we are seeing rising numbers of both younger (16-24) and older (55-77) consumers purchasing online. The younger generation of e-shoppers have been shown to purchase high proportions of clothing, shoes and accessories, food deliveries, digital goods and accessories, cosmetics, and sports goods, while the older group tend to buy higher proportions of furniture, home and garden products, medical or dietary supplements, and books, as well as clothes and beauty.

So, get to know your market and who it’s made up of online – they’re all out there. 

There’s growth in omnichannel shopping 

Online, more and more channels are adapting to the rise in ecommerce. Social media platforms are the most significant, transforming from advertising platforms to having their own selling features, such as Instagram’s “shoppable post” feature. 

All this talk of ecommerce is by no means to suggest you have to get rid of your brick-and-mortar store, though. Moreover, businesses are becoming experts at combining physical and online services to provide the best customer-service experience. This might be by introducing an ‘order online and pick-up in store’ feature, or by opening pop-up shops in different locations. 

New space for sustainability? 

The growth of ecommerce means that people now have the space to choose which brands they buy from, no longer being limited to the stores physically nearby them. With environmental concerns ramping up, sustainability and ethical consumption is becoming a game-changer in retail markets, as it is often a top priority for consumers. 

 

How can you keep your business on track?

  1. Omnichannel presence. Make sure you’re advertising and selling your products across multiple channels, and ensuring the availability of suitable customer purchase touchpoints when needed. 
  2. Responsive web design. Your site should be fully functioning across devices, be it mobile, desktop or tablet, so that you don’t miss potential leads.
  3. SEO. It’s always worth investing in Search Engine Optimisation tactics so that your website gets seen by potential customers, whether they find you through Voice Search, Google Ads, or as a result of a relevant keyword search.

Most of all, don’t lose hope. The rapid growth and change in ecommerce might seem daunting, but this is the best time for your business, big or small, to jump on the ride. Take the long view and tap in on the remarkable demand we are seeing for services online.

If you are looking for ecommerce expertise, get in touch.  

 

“Ok. I found this on the web for What is Voice Search Optimisation? Check it out”, says Siri in response to my question. His voice – set to British: Male by default – is familiar to me, after a few years of hearing it. On my screen appears a list of the top results.

Apple’s Siri is one of the big names – along with Google Now and Amazon’s Alexa – in Voice Search Assistants. For some of us, this is all a bit spooky. Talking to our devices is the stuff of sci-fi films and the inter-human connection seemingly gone wrong. But from an SEO perspective, Voice Search is one of the most exciting trends out there.

What is this trend all about? And why is Voice Search Optimisation so important for your business?

Voice Search is the fastest rising ecommerce trend. According to the Global Web Index, over 27% of the worldwide online population was using voice search on mobile before the COVID-19 pandemic. In Great Britain, 49% of 25-34 year-old adults used a virtual assistant speaker or app from January to February 2020.

This number is now significantly higher, with lockdowns driving people to rely on their devices more than ever. This type of search is also coming to be seen as a more hygienic way of using devices: the 2020 Gartner Pandemic and Behaviours study suggests that 32% of consumers are interested in hands-free technology that would limit touching or contamination.

So, how should you Optimise your Website for Voice Search?

1. Conversational content

You might have noticed that when I asked Siri What is VSO?, I naturally asked a full-sentenced question. Unlike when we type in shorthand, when we are speaking aloud we mostly communicate whole sentences to devices, as if talking to a person.

Essentially, this means that you should include conversational language in your website copy. Of course, your website content should always be concise and highly relevant. But there should also be a large amount of it that inherently consists of natural sounding phrases, so that it will relate to certain voice search queries and be picked up by the search engine. You might have noticed that one way most businesses like to achieve having this sort of content is through the inclusion of extensive FAQ pages. This also enables them to include question words – what, why, who, etc. – in their content, which are frequently included in voice searches.

With the right written content, you are playing by the rules of search engine algorithm techniques, and your website is likely to be higher up on the search engine results. You’ll notice that, in my case with Siri, I am only offered 3 search results. It can be a tough competition then! – make sure you’re giving your business the best chance.

2. Keep your website speed up

Voice Search Assistant technology has been developed in the knowledge that someone who is using voice search as opposed to other typed-based searches is doing so because they have less time, or seek an immediate response.

For this reason it is important to make sure your website can load fast enough and prevent your bounce-rate from increasing (something that Google would detect). Speed is something to bear in mind when writing your website content too, by making it concise and informative.

3. Remember, it’s a mobile world

The majority of people using voice search do so from mobile devices, particularly smartphones. Not surprisingly, then, people are often physically mobile themselves when using voice search. Although it can of course be said that us private Brits are not very likely to speak out loud to our phones in very public places, we are still seeing an opening up of possibilities for local businesses due to a user’s tendency to voice search for a certain shop or amenity ‘near me’. It’s therefore important that you have your address, contact, opening hours, and any other necessary details listed correctly with the main search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yelp), so that people are directed to your business efficiently.

Voice Search is an ecommerce game-changer, and there is very little argument against optimising your business for voice search because, after all, anything you do to optimise for voice searches will also help with other aspects of your SEO business strategies.

To get advice on optimising your website, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

If you have an e-commerce website, or utilize content marketing, Web Push Notifications could be the next step for you to keep re-engaging with your website visitors, allowing you to reach them on any device, without them needing to hand over any personal data. 

What are push notifications?

We’re all familiar with regular push notifications: the banner notifications that come from the apps on your phone, such as a missed call, unread text notification, BBC news update, new match on Tinder.  If you have enabled notifications for any app, that app is able to use the phones operating system to send you messages. Everyone with a smartphone knows how engaging these notifications are, grabbing your attention in real-time, with direct access to your screen no matter what you’re doing. 

It is commonly believed that this type of customer-engagement marketing is limited to those who have a ‘native app’ (that is, an app that customers have to download onto their phone from the app store in order to access it’s features). However, with the efforts being made by Google and Apple to explore and move towards ‘progessive web apps’ (apps that you don’t need to download from a store, more like a website), more and more of the features of smartphone operating systems are available to improve and enhance your website or online marketing… without needing to develop a native app.

 

So how do website push notifications work?

In the same way that when you install a native app on your smartphone your app asks the user for permission to access notifications features, your website can ask new visitors for approval to send them website push notifications. Once this ‘visitor’ has become a ‘subscriber’, you can then send them notifications from the website in the form of customised text, URL links, and images.

 

What is so good about website push notifications? 

Web push notifications instantly offer some big improvements from other forms of notification marketing and native app notifications (e.g. newsletters, SMS).

  1. Your customers only have to click one button, and they don’t have to share with you any personal information. This makes for a super smooth user experience, and the only data that is stored is: ‘a browser has granted a website permission to send notifications’…. No name required!
  2. If a user is committed to one operating system and one browser, you can send the notification to ALL their devices (including desktops), not just the device they sign up on.
  3. It’s far cheaper than developing a native app. If, for example, an ecommerce business is going to adopt push notifications as part of their marketing strategy to let customers know about flash sales,  they can either develop a native app from scratch or invest in their existing ecom website.
    The first involves jumping through the necessary hoops to get a new app approved, working on both the respective Apple and Android app-stores (which isn’t cheap!), and then having to maintain and upkeep the apps to ensure that they work across all new devices and software updates.  The latter – investing in your existing ecom website so that it can send push notifications – is a no brainer.

 

Practical application

You might now be wondering how to use push notifications in your marketing strategy.  While the technology is not that new any more given it’s been used on every smartphone over the past 10 years, it’s introduction into a new medium (website) does mean that we can be a lot much more creative.

E-commerce

Marketing

These are just a few of the more obvious ways to implement push notifications.  But with the wealth of creative minds in our industry it is likely to be used in new and exciting ways.  We have already created a push notification for a green lobbyist client, that allows them to send push notifications on their articles, but also send out real time smog warnings for affected cities or other urgent messages.

If you would like to talk more about push notifications and now it could improve your website marketing, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

YouTube is often overlooked by businesses as a social media tool, and thought of as just a video-sharing platform.

More businesses in 2019 are including YouTube in their digital marketing strategy.  The same marketing trend is occurring on other major social media networks – Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Linkedin.

Video content will account for 80% of all internet traffic by 2020.  Video content gets up to 10x more reach and engagement compared to links and images

YouTube Facts and Statistics– 2018

  1. Website: https://youtube.com
  2. YouTube is an American video-sharing website headquartered in San Bruno, California
  3. Founded: 14 February 2005
  4. Acquisition date: 13 November 2006
  5. Founders: Jawed Karim, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen
  6. Parent organization: Google
  7. Google + : https://plus.google.com/+youtube
  8. Facebook handle: https://www.facebook.com/youtube
  9. Twitter handle: https://twitter.com/YouTube
  10. Instagram handle: https://www.instagram.com/youtube
  11. Tumblr handle: http://youtube.tumblr.com
  12. Press enquiries contact press@google.com
  13. In 2018 YouTube is now recognized as the world’s second largest search engine
  14. Almost 5 billion videos are watched on YouTube every single day and growing
  15. One billion hours watched daily
  16. YouTube has over a billion users – almost one-third of all people on the Internet – and each day those users watch a billion hours of video, generating billions of views.
  17. In an average month, eight out of ten 18-49-year-olds watch YouTube
  18. YouTube overall on mobile alone reaches more 18–34 and 18–49-year-olds than any cable network in the US
  19. More than half of YouTube views come from mobile devices.
  20. YouTube is localised in 88 countries.
  21. You can navigate YouTube in a total of 76 different languages (covering 95% of the Internet population)
  22. The YouTube Spaces team is focused on helping creators to make great content through strategic programmes and workshops largely administered at the YouTube Space production facilities in Los Angeles, New York, London, Tokyo, Sao Paulo and Berlin.
  23. As of March 2015, creators filming in YouTube Spaces have produced over 10,000 videos, which have generated over 1 billion views and 70+ million hours of watch time.
  24. As of July 2016, YouTube had paid out two billion dollars to rights-holders who have chosen to monetise claims since Content ID first launched in 2007.
  25. As of July 2015, there were 8,000+ partners using Content ID – including many major network broadcasters, movie studios and record labels. They have claimed over 400 million videos, helping them to control their content on YouTube and make money on videos containing copyrighted material.
  26. YouTube have more than 50 million active reference files in their content ID database, making it the most comprehensive in the world. It’s even won a Primetime Emmy!
  27. The first YouTube video was uploaded on April 23, 2005

Online Video Trends

  1. By 2025 half of viewers under the age of 32 will not subscribe to a pay TV service
  2. 6 out of 10 people prefer online video platforms to live TV
  3. In 2015, 18- to 49-year olds spent 4% less time watching TV while time on YouTube went up 74%
  4. On mobile alone YouTube reaches more 18- to 49-year olds than any broadcast or cable TV network.
  5. Among millennials YouTube accounts for two-thirds of premium online video watched across devices.

YouTube is increasing its international reach with a healthy audience due to the increased access to the internet for a number of reasons.  Year on year first and developing world countries are spending billions of dollars in updating and building their national telecommunications infrastructure to increase broadband speed and reach.

The truth is that YouTube is the second largest social media platform after Facebook and it has broadly all the same generic features as other social media platforms and more:

Monthly active users:

YouTube Features

YouTube like all social media platforms can be used to link back to your site in numerous ways, helping to boost the traffic coming to your site as well as helping your SEO.  YouTube videos are also indexed in the google search results

Content

Let’s start with content. As with social media, you will need content for an audience to engage with.  You have to create a “hook” at the start of the video.  Your average viewer will decide to watch the video within the first 3-5 seconds due to the high volume of people watching video online and their short attention span.

70% of a videos performance will depend on how creative and authentic the content is.

Let’s start with content. As with social media, you will need something for an audience to engage with.

Where most people go wrong with YouTube content is that they try to make something that will go ‘viral’.  In reality the chances of this happening are extremely slim.  It is important to remember that just because you don’t have the biggest worldwide trending content doesn’t mean it isn’t attracting a new audience to your company.

Tweet: Where most people go wrong with YouTube content is that they try to make something that will go ‘viral’. Where most people go wrong with YouTube content is that they try to make something that will go ‘viral’.

Instead make something relevant.  Whether it is a simple ‘how-to’ video, tutorials, unboxing, live streaming Q&A’s with your subscribers or something explaining your product or service, make sure that your brand comes across in a natural (and not too salesy) way.

Here are a few factors to consider when making your content:

Be Creative

YouTube can be a great place to advertise a product or service, it can persuade potential customers into buying your service over your competitors.  So, make it something that stands out and get people engaged.  Bring in you and your teams creativity or hire someone to help if you are not the creative type.  Come up with something that will look great and get a relevant message across.

Put some money into it

Like all of your content, your YouTube videos should reflect your business.  So make sure that it has a clean professional look to it.  It is worth investing some money and time into getting it right – you will still be spending a lot less than on a TV advert.

What Next?

Once you have your content, there is more that you can do than just uploading it to YouTube.  Here are few tips to get people to see the content you have created and use it to increase the traffic to your site.

Titles and Tagging

Make sure that your videos are tagged to the right categories.  YouTube does a great job of keeping its audience engaged, you will have probably noticed that you will be offered ‘related videos’ on the right-hand side of the page – take advantage of this.  By making sure that your video is titled correctly and tagged to the right category your content can reach your target audience from similar videos they are already watching via related videos.

Favourites

‘Favouriting’ other videos that align with your brand or product will mean that they show up on your channel, giving you a wider range of content on your channel homepage. Curating videos can be just as important as creating them so don’t be scared to share content from other brands that you align with.

Linking videos back to your site

The key objectives of creating content are to get people interested in your brand and onto your site.  Your channel homepage can be linked back to the homepage of our site and the videos themselves.

Make sure that you have links in the description to lead potential customers back to site.

Annotations can also be added on top of the video at the end, again leading back to the site.

Make sure that if your video links to the relevant area of the site and not just the homepage.  If the video is in reference to a certain product or service, make sure that it takes them directly to that page.

Share, share, share

Your video shouldn’t just stay within YouTube. Post it on your website, share in on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, medium.com, Snapchat and Twitter, link to it from a newsletter – the more exposure it gets the more return you will get from it.

YouTube adverts and analytics

Now that you have content and few ideas for setting up your videos correctly we can move onto the bigger services that YouTube can offer your business.

YouTube offer a wide variety of advertising options including adverts after searches (similar to pay per click) and adverts before videos are played (pre-rolls). You can bid for YouTube keywords in the same way that you would bid on Google Adwords search network.

It is very easy to set up.  All you will need is a video uploaded to YouTube, a Google Adwords account and then you are ready to launch your ad campaign.

Once you have everything set up you will be able to track your campaign with Adwords and the YouTube free analytics service, which lets you track the traffic your video gets as well as traffic generated from annotations.

If you want to learn more about getting started both YouTube and Google have produced fantastic guides for setting up your YouTube channel to help your business.  If you would like to learn more about increasing your web presences don’t hesitate to give us a call on 01394 615 615 or email enquiries@infotex.co.uk

Source https://www.youtube.com/intl/en-GB/yt/about/press/

 

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