Breaking News (11/11/08 BBC Radio 4): Figures released yesterday by the British Retailers Consortium show October to be the first month in 3 years where UK retail sales have declined highlighting worsening economic conditions. The positive news is that UK online sales (non-food, non-store) have increased in October by 16.6% over last year. More details: http://www.brc.org.uk/details04.asp?id=1474
We thought we'd share a bit of our thinking with you. After spending a good proportion of 2008 working closely on eCommerce projects including Ministry of Sound, French Connection and Sahara London we have put a lot of effort into understanding what really makes a successful online store.
We soon discovered you could easily spend days debating whereabouts the basket should sit on the page, or how big the Buy button should be, so we tried not to fall into that trap when approaching these projects. As we do with all of our clients, we started by taking a step back and looking at the overall business objectives and brand, then used these to inform the project objectives. Of course the overriding objective is always 'increase sales' and we strongly believe that this is achieved not just by a fully functional eCommerce platform, but also through crafting a rewarding customer experience for the user. It's this experience that forges the crucial relationship with the customer building trust, contributing to satisfaction, and encouraging them to come back.
It's not always easy to suggest a new approach to selling online. Many businesses will generally point you in the direction of the more conventional stores such as Amazon and show you the statistics, believing this is the way to do it. And this is understandable, considering they're turning over billions of dollars every year. We're not suggesting for one minute that a client should be happy to let us run off and employ risky strategies to revolutionise the way people shop online, but instead we go back to basics and look at what else the brand has to offer above the product lines, and use this to engage the customer. For example when we investigated what we could use to drive the sales of Ministry of Sound's vast catalogue of Singles we thought; Why not feature the music video rather than just a packshot? In the case of French Connection we identified a distinct difference in the quality of the products on the website to those featured in the beautiful printed catalogues containing model photography. We proposed to incorporate this content and layout style into the new store and created a much more human feel of the products.
We believe if the content is available then surely a customer should have the chance to experience it, and if this means a transaction occurs as a result then great. If not, then at least that customer has had a richer experience of the product and will be encouraged back for more. Achieving this balance of conventional store functionality and an engaging customer experience is what we strive to deliver and will continue to push in future projects.