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Contactless payments – Added value or an economic recovery mechanism?

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

By Limontek

Because of government imposed lockdowns, the popularity of transactions through digital payment systems has increased steeply, heralding the emergence of QR code and NFC technologies. Given the health restrictions imposed on physical stores, retailers should take advantage of this opportunity to go digital and push for the contactless customer experience…

During the current worldwide health and economic crisis, banks have raised the buying limit on contactless transactions (France, for instance, raised it from EUR 30 to 50 on 11 May, and ABN AMRO announced on 24 March that it is raising the contactless payments to EUR 50). This policy may appear insignificant considering today’s situation; but it nevertheless marks the beginning of a new era: the widespread use of contactless payment.

While the technology was often available for credit and debit cards issued by major retail banks, smartphone-toting consumers are resorting to this new kind of transaction in ever greater numbers. Though new to some, contactless payment has been totally second nature to other consumers for some time now.

Contactless payment through a personal mobile device may be commonplace in many countries such as China and a myriad of Asian and African countries, but consumers elsewhere still favour credit card payment, cash, transfer, or cheques. However, with sanitary measures deterring the use of PIN pads, contactless transactions using NFC and QR code technologies are enjoying unprecedented popularity.

www.limonetik.com

The three main eCommerce business challenges

893 595 Stuart O'Brien

Global commerce is heating up. There’s more competition for merchants than ever before, but also more opportunity – if you can handle its challenges.

In this blog, Igal Rotem, CEO of Credorax, discusses how merchants in the global payments market can overcome the three main ecommerce business challenges of cross-border payments and increased transaction rates.

Facing the trials and tribulations

COVID-19 has exacerbated the global payments challenge. Now more than ever, there is an urgent need for universal, real-time payments across global markets – especially when it comes to cross-border transactions.

International consumers purchasing across borders increasingly expect transactions online to happen in real time, but not all merchants have in place the payments system to provide this.

So, as you make responding to customers’ eCommerce demands a priority, so too must you look out for, and, solve the following three main payment ecommerce business challenges, to succeed:

Challenge #1: Payment acceptance

First and foremost, you will want to make sure the payment cycle is completed successfully and with a valid payment method. This might seem obvious, but the fact is,

some merchant approval rates are as low as 50%!

This is because issuers and acquirers often struggle to identify when cross-border transactions are genuine, triggering all the warning signs for no good reason.

But think of that huge effort you’ve put into marketing. You’ve used a variety of means and valuable budget to bring traffic to your website, and put in an enormous amount of energy to ensure the traffic is of good quality. Yet, when the customer eventually gets to the checkout, instead of a successful transaction, they see a ‘your credit card company has not authorised the transaction’ notification.

This scenario is disastrous. Not only do you lose that transaction, but you will lose the lifetime value of the potential customer – and their connections to even more potential customers as well.

Whether it’s thousands of failed transactions or just one, completing the payment is crucial to your business’ success.

Challenge #2: Foreign exchange

Let’s imagine you are a German merchant whose sales have boomed beyond Europe over the past few months. Now, customers across the world are searching for your products, so you’ve localised your services to allow them to buy in their native currency.

Suddenly, you have customers paying in Taiwanese dollars, Japanese yen and Russian roubles – but you’re based in Europe; your operational expenses are mostly Euro linked. Therefore, you want to be paid in Euros, without losing the FX conversion and associated expenses. What to do?

This is a big challenge. Especially as many companies operate at very thin and compressed margins. If you work at around 5% EBITDA margins, for instance, the fact is that you may sometimes lose that 5% on FX alone, and without even realising that you’re losing it!

The key is to work with a payments provider that will let you settle in your local currency, and one that keeps conversion rates low.

This will enable you to offer multiple currencies for cross-border transactions, without getting stung by unfair FX charges or administrative complications.

Challenge #3: Technology

Many eCommerce providers often run promotions, campaigns and activities to broaden their exposure. When these campaigns go live, the number of transactions per second can suddenly skyrocket – because everybody loves a good deal!

So, you need to make sure that your payments provider can withstand rapid transaction volume increases, and scale to process them on the fly.

If not…

your system could crash in the middle of a campaign, costing you both advertising money and future customers.

Ready, steady, grow

“With the majority of commerce now taking place online, I cannot underestimate how important it is that you work with a provider who can scale to suit your needs so that you are prepared for any situation.”  “It’s the only way to minimise the risk of payments failing, protect your EBITDA margins, and ensure you continue functioning when operating globally.”

If you’d like to hear how Credorax can help you overcome these ecommerce business challenges, visit our website: www.credorax.com or get in touch at: grow@credorax.com.

Ordo, reshaping payments with Open Banking, enabling low cost, real-time transactions across the UK

960 640 Guest Contributor

By Ordo

In March, the World Health Organisation (WHO) proposed contactless payments as a countermeasure of COVID-19. The effect is the ever-faster rise of digital payments on web platforms and mobile apps. Digital and contactless payments have seen an increase in usage by more than 50%, and experts are claiming that these new forms of payments are here to stay.

Are you ready to switch for the best alternative in the market?

With the further lockdowns becoming more widespread and threatening everyone’s Christmas, we’re offering three tangible reasons to start using Ordo today. 

1. Saving 90% or more on each transaction: it’s true.

If you’re still using card payment processors, you are likely to be paying high fees: around 2-4%. That means that every time you make a sale of £200, you could be paying around £4 – £8 in transaction fees; that’s the cost of a lunch, every time you process a payment. Why not save all these lunches for yourself and your loved ones instead?

Using Open Banking technology (ed. it helps securely and safely move, manage and make more of your money), Ordo can process your payments at a fraction of the cost (20p as a single flat fee, no matter the amount). Learn more 

2. Real-time payments: it’s like cash, but safer.

With widespread concerns about delayed or cancelled orders, businesses are experiencing a high volume of cancelled transactions. Card return and chargeback volumes are starting to see significant jumps which can become a key concern for many companies. Ordo can help your company at no extra cost – when you receive payments through Ordo, they are irrevocable, it’s just like you’ve paid cash into your bank account, nobody can take them back again. Plus, all the Ordo payments will hit your bank account in real-time, as soon as your customer has paid, 24/7, no matter what.  As cashflow becomes tighter, every single payment will count even more, and Ordo could be the partner you were looking for.

3. Reconciling: stop wasting time!

A recent survey showed businesses spend nearly 10 hours per week on payments admin. Now more than ever that is time you need to spend on driving your business. With Ordo you include a reference with your payment request that means something to you and that will always appear on your bank statement with the payment, exactly as you entered it. This reference can also link back the payment to accounts software like Quickbooks, Sage, or Xero. Also with these accounting packages you need to spend even less time doing payments admin, as Ordo will create your payment requests directly from the customer and transaction information you’ve entered into your accounts, including the invoice. Learn more

The change is here: more payments security for you and your customers.

Even if you’ve avoided the costs of card payments, are you exposing yourself and your customers to fraud by just using stand-alone bank transfers?. Common scams emerging include impersonating as relevant authorities and financial institutions to demand payments from unsuspecting consumers, and fraudsters hacking into emails and changing account numbers on invoices to their own. Where you can’t be sure of the owner of the account you’re sending money to, the result is an increase in fraud – to the tune of £451m in 2019 alone, with £114 million of that being invoice frauds.  

With Ordo you are taking positive actions now while there’s still time to avoid the embarrassment, the damaging headlines, the explaining, the compensation and the rebuilding of your business, customer base and reputation you’ll need to do if you just hope that you and your customers will be lucky.  Ordo has been designed and built with privacy and security as part of its DNA. It protects all you and your customer’s data at all times using the latest security techniques and messages go across our own secure channels to and from banks. This means that the whole communication is secure and less vulnerable to hacking and fraud.

What about your customers: are they ready to switch?

We’ve all lost things in 2020, for some it’s been deeply personal, for others it’s been equally as dramatic in other ways finding their jobs gone, the loss of childcare and teaching has meant trying to do two full time jobs at the same time along with the pressure of re-learning algebra; support networks have gone virtual and our freedom has been curtailed with the need to remember your mask if you just want to pop to the shop, or the chore of booking in advance whether you want to go for a quick drink or a swim. 

The things that we once did freely have become complicated and everyone has some kind of trouble on their mind.

Ordo makes it easy and convenient for your customers to pay you, within just a few taps from their phones, all secured by their own bank. 

Your clients can tap and pay without the need to register, find paper bills, login to portals with memorable information they instantly forgot, or look up references to ensure payments get credited against their account with you. You make it as easy as possible for them to pay you meaning you are at the top of their to-do list. Learn more

How we could help you

Ordo is the payment solution you cannot afford to be without. We are regulated by the FCA (FRN 836070). Nationwide Building Society is an investor, and along with CGI and AND.Digital partners, it will make your billing and payments easier.

Its free to trial, for smaller businesses can be used independently and with QuickBooks, Sage or Xero. For larger businesses Ordo can be integrated with any systems with our simple suite of APIs and robotic automation tools.

You can learn more, book a demo or signup here.

www.OrdoHQ.com

Getting paid during the post-virus crunch

960 640 Guest Contributor

By Ordo

Many businesses spent lockdown offering a lifeline of payment holidays while customers financially struggled. With cash tight, now is the time businesses need efficient, effective, but polite, payment processes.

The country went into lockdown and businesses were asked to provide financial healthcare for customers. Many businesses rose to the challenge, despite staff working remotely, reduced work forces due to furloughing and accommodating colleagues left with zero childcare. That generosity has come at a cost…

Generosity hits revenue

There were plenty of offers, discounts and payment deferrals, and now that generosity is showing on the bottom line; businesses need to be smarter when collecting payments.

Existing bills may remain unpaid and/or take longer. Cashflow is more important than ever.

How to ensure you get paid

As businesses knuckle down, tricky payment conversations are inevitable. Here Ordo’s top tips for getting paid:

  1. Keep customers happy: make it easy for them to pay, straight from their phone without having to look up amounts and references, give them no reason to delay paying;
  2. Get money instantly and ensure automatic reconciling – new payments regulations mean payments services can be slick and efficient, meaning businesses are paid instantly, with money landing in your bank account immediately, and automatically reconciled;
  3. Cut costs – especially the hidden ones – do you know all that you’re paying to receive payments? Companies often take a percentage of the value of every transaction, 1-4% typically, and on a £2,000 bill that’s £80 – nearly a year’s worth of Netflix you’re giving Visa, Mastercard, PayPal or Stripe on every Make sure you know what you’re being charged, work out what the percentages really cost, including any rental/subscription for card readers or minimum/standing fees, and decide whether you’re happy; and
  4. Stay safe – think holistically: physical, mental, and online. We still need to be physically (not socially) distant from those outside our household, we need to keep active and try to forget the biscuit tin, and connect with people however possible. But the fraudsters are profiteering too – hackers fish for emails attaching invoices, the account details of which they change to their own, meaning when your loyal customer pays, it’s the fraudster that benefits leaving two innocent victims – in 2019 UK fraudsters made >£114m from invoice fraud. Find a secure platform that allows for secure bill sending, giving you and your customers confidence money will end up in the right place.

The post-COVID go-to payment method

Ordo is an end to end encrypted request-for-payment service, and is making getting paid easy. It’s free to trial, and can be API integrated with any system or used independently; with instant payment and reconciliation together with fraud prevention and low costs, it’s the game changer for businesses trying to survive the impact of coronavirus.

Find out more at www.ordohq.com/enterprise or try for free at www.myordo.com.

Lockdown cements UK eCommerce buying habits

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Just 16 per cent UK consumers intend to return to their old shopping habits post-lockdown, signifying the lasting change that COVID-19 will have on the retail industry and the cementing of eCommerce habits.

The COVID, Commerce and the Consumer research conducted by Wunderman Thomson – which surveyed 2,000 UK consumers on their shopping experience during the COVID-19 pandemic – found that the need for safety during lockdown has resulted in a huge shift in shoppers’ habits and traits with a particular trend towards online channels.

Online purchasing accounted for 62% of all shopping during lockdown, compared to 43% before the pandemic. Although online shopping is predicted to account for over half (51%) of all spend moving forward, it will remain higher than it was before the pandemic. Fear of contracting the virus will also play its part in driving online spend with 48% of shoppers scared about shopping in-store.

Shopping habits may have had to change during lockdown, but familiar factors have emerged: 61% of shoppers identified free delivery as a key purchase driver, with availability (57%) and price (53%) coming in as close second and third choices. Yet, when asked what consumers would like to see change most in their online shopping experience, free returns (28%) topped the list.

Amazon’s share in the eCommerce market swelled with over a third (35%) of all online shopping conducted through the marketplace during the lockdown period, reinforcing the company as a big retail winner in the wake of the pandemic. One-in-five (20%) said their net intention to purchase with Amazon post-COVID-19 will increase, despite 21% of people expressing worry about Amazon’s ever-increasing dominance.

Not the sole retail winner, Tesco led the battle of the supermarkets and saw a significant 23% improvement in net perception; while the net intention to purchase post-COVID-19 rose by 9%. Competitors Sainsbury’s and Morrisons both saw a 12% net rise in positive perception respectively.

Other winners include corner shops with a quarter (27%) net increase in positive public perception as they played a pivotal role in providing essential goods. In comparison, the Government’s net change in perception decreased by 30% while the NHS is up during the COVID-19 outbreak by a significant 62%.

Hugh Fletcher, Global Head of Consultancy and Innovation at Wunderman Thompson Commerce, said: “COVID-19 was always going to have a big impact on retail, particularly on high-street brands; in many cases, retailers have had to shift entire operations online. With many consumers looking for assurances on safety and reliability, it’s perhaps unsurprising to see the likes of Amazon and the ‘big four’ supermarkets resonate highly with their ability to provide services to consumers in the way they want. They also all adapted quickly by emphasising stock availability, competitive pricing and customer safety. But corner shops played a vital role too. As consumers look to keep their purse strings relatively tight and as a more digital-first retail future materialises, the brands and retailers that are able to pivot their business models to accommodate this rise in online spend will ultimately get a greater share of shoppers’ wallet.”

On consumers’ desire for digital, one in five (21%) would like more of their products to be digital and instantly downloadable, a noticeable influence of lockdown measures as shoppers have been forced to purchase various goods without leaving home.

The impact of COVID-19 may also be a tipping point for ethical concerns with nearly three-quarters (73%) wishing that retailers and brands would offer better environmental practices. Over half (55%) of consumers say that a company’s ethics and morals play an important part in their purchase decisions, another element that retailers need to contend with as the ‘new normal’ becomes a reality.

Download The COVID, Commerce and the Consumer report

Coronavirus requires increased speed and agility in the retail supply chain

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

A major study from the University of Warwick has provided insights into how retailers have responded to COVID-19 crisis, highlighting a need for human intervention with existing processes unable to keep up with changes in the markets.

The research, conducted by the university in partnership with Blue Yonder, concludes that, going forward, future systems will need to be more robust and responsive, to increase speed and agility in the supply chain.

The pandemic means both online and physical retailers have experienced a combination of unprecedented demand for some particular products, whilst no demand for others. Many stores have been forced to close, or adapt their operations to accommodate social distancing. Where possible, there has been a shift to online shopping, but this is not always possible and presents its own operational challenges.

The study gathered insights from 105 different retailers from Europe, Asia and the Americas who offered a glimpse into their survival and navigation of the COVID-19 crisis. The study found that:

  • The majority (61%) of retailers used inventory to buffer against the disruption of COVID-19. Supply chain processes and systems were effective, but more than half (58%) of retailers said a high degree of manual intervention was required to respond to the fluctuation in demand and supply.
  • Workforce issues were dominant issues for retailers with 59% of warehouse and 48% store operatives being affected by quarantine or illness. This often resulted in the closure of online operations and the need to recruit temporary staff.
  • Retailers were polarised in their treatment of supplier payments, with 37% delaying payments and 30% making early payments.

The survey was administered on-line by Qualtrics in late April 2020. It was targeted at senior executives in retail supply chains, in Europe, Asia and the Americas. 105 responses were received with relatively equal distribution across the regions.

Jan Godsell, Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Strategy at WMG, University of Warwick, said: “Using inventory to buffer against the disruption of COVID-19 was the most common strategy deployed by retailers. This provides the greatest certainty of supply but comes at a cost. In contrast, only just over a quarter (29%) of retailers relied on suppliers with more agile manufacturing and distribution networks, which is a potentially more resource efficient and resilient response.

“With 75 to 80% of products seeing a demand fluctuation, retailers were slightly better at responding to decreases rather than increases in demand. Whilst retailers found that their supply chain processes and systems to be effective in responding to the demand fluctuations, many were still dependent on the human touch.

“From warehouse and store operatives being affected by quarantine or illness to an over-dependence on human intervention within supply chain planning, COVID-19 has highlighted the human vulnerabilities across retail supply chains.”

Wayne Snyder, Vice President Retail Strategy, EMEA at Blue Yonder, added: “Early indications in Asia show that customers have been most supportive of those retailers they deemed to have responded best to the crisis and we’d expect that pattern to follow across Europe and the US. A critical learning for retailers is the need to invest in creating supply chains with greater flexibility, visibility and automation. Here technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning will play a key role in helping retailers navigate future disruption, whilst still meeting customers’ expectations.”

 

How online shopping has developed during the coronavirus pandemic

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Once you think online shopping couldn’t get any more convenient during the Coronavirus pandemic, many major retailers have provided us with yet more ways to shop more efficiently — after all, 70 per cent of UK sales are placed on smartphones.

These additions could be understood partly as a way to combat the need to return goods once they’ve been received, and a few brands have resorted to using some savvy technology to combat the cost of reimbursing customers, as well as improving their shopping experience.   

By looking at recent research, it seems free shipping is more important to a customer than fast delivery. Because free delivery is a common option for many online retailers, this results in increased sales — and increased returns. Returns, of course, lessen any doubts you might have about potential clothes you’re interested in, ordering more to choose from in different colours and sizes.

However, for retailers, it can cost double the amount for something to be returned than it does for delivery. And if returns are balancing orders, there’s going to be a problem for retailers. 

This piece looks at different ways retailers are mitigating returns rates by helping you find the perfect garments. This is certainly important for retailers during the current Coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing is currently making returns harder for customers and retailers alike, therefore, it is important retailers can cater to customers during these unprecedented times.  

From being able to virtually try your shoes on at Nike, to using a picture on ASOS to determine where that dress you saw online is from, it has become even simpler to get the product we really want. 

Fit

Five months into 2020 and already one retailer in particular has innovated online shopping. Anyone who’s not a smaller size will empathise with the frustration that online shopping can bring. Whether you’re searching for suits or women’s dresses, almost all clothes are modelled on a textbook body type — toned and trim.   

This is perfect, of course, if you have this body shape. However, for those who are considerably taller or a larger size, it’s impossible to envision what it would look like on yourself. Material may bunch or gape in areas you don’t want, for instance. 

ASOS’ ‘See My Fit’ is a new feature which uses augmented reality to digitally map what a piece of clothing would look like on a variety of different body shapes, ranging from four to 18. Pioneering customers’ online experience, this addition is the first of its kind in Europe.  

ASOS has also been instrumental in integrating a feature called style match, where customers can essentially image search for clothing they’ve seen, for example, in real life or on social media, scraping ASOS’ stock for similar clothing they have available. This not only helps customers find products but allows them to find cheaper alternatives.  

DIY Makeup Testing

Renowned makeup retailer, Sephora have fused augmented reality in the beauty industry with Sephora Virtual Artist, which scans your face and lets you digitally apply numerous styles with different lipstick colours, eyeshadows, false eyelashes, and foundation colours to check what looks good on you. With it being difficult to gauge what colours can suit men and women’s skin tone, it’s particularly useful in reducing returns.   

Virtual Fitting Room 

An expected popular trend in ecommerce in the coming years is the ability to virtually try products on with artificial intelligence (AI). Nike is eradicating customer’s confusion around what size they should order certain types of shoes in — you might be a size nine at one retailer or a 9.5 at another, resulting in purchasing several sizes for the perfect fit. 

Well the need to do this is being removed. By standing in front of a wall and pointing your phone camera at your feet, the Nike app will scan your feet and use AI to determine what size and shape your feet are and the correct size in a specific shoe. The feature takes less than a minute of your time and has precision within two millimetres. 

Customised Shirts 

Charles Tyrwhitt Shirts is a men’s clothing brand that offer a range of choice of shirts and tuxedos on their online website to make sure they’re perfect for you. With the ability to modify website filters, you can select your style, fit, collar size and style, sleeve length, colour, pattern, weave, and fabric weight — you can purchase the shirt that meets your exact requirements. You can also customise your shirts by selecting the cuff type, adding pockets and monograms. 

The diverse selection makes it less likely you’ll return it when you’ve crafted it to meet your exact specifications. Many of us return clothes that come in one style or shape, perhaps the neck is too tight or the sleeves too short — so when you’re offered a variety of filters to craft the perfect shirt, you’re highly likely to keep it. 

Over in the States, the value of returns is forecasted to increase from $350 billion in 2017 to $550 billion in 2020. Hopefully more and more online retailers will introduce innovative features to make purchases so much easier. 

Sources 

https://www.theverge.com/2018/3/9/17092834/asos-style-match-visual-search 

https://elkfox.com/blogs/articles/how-to-reduce-your-return-rate 

https://www.theverge.com/2017/3/16/14946086/sephora-virtual-assistant-ios-app-update-ar-makeup 

https://www.ctshirts.com/uk/mens-shirts/ 

Coronavirus and the eCommerce evolution

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

As the government starts lifting lockdown measures within the UK to enable people to go back to work and the economy to click back into gear, online retailers, brands and ecommerce businesses will continue to see a huge surge in demand.

So, what factors do businesses need to consider now in order to cope with the rise in ecommerce and home delivery? And how can they remain competitive within an increasingly crowded online marketplace? Jonathan Bellwood, VP at Descartes, explains…

An irreversible shift

The imposed lockdown restrictions initiated an irreversible shift towards ecommerce as high street stores shut and people had no choice but to turn to online ordering. Online retail was booming before the crisis, but the impact of Coronavirus has caused many to change their shopping habits – probably for good.

Online grocery shopping is expected to increase by 33% during 2020. The uptake may have started with Coronavirus, but one reason it will continue is that even once lockdown ends, people will still remain risk-averse and want to continue social distancing to remain as safe as possible. They will see going to stores as an unnecessary risk, especially when they could easily have the items they need delivered to their home.

In addition, with some businesses unable to survive the fallout of Coronavirus, once lockdown ends, the high street may no longer be bustling with stores and shoppers. The experience of the high street is no longer what it once was, and is certainly not what consumers are looking for anymore. Retail has become more transactional, with consumers only buying what they need rather than spending time browsing.

There’s also the added cost and inconvenience for consumers buying on the high street: travel, parking etc.. But with consumers becoming increasingly more cost-conscious – especially those that may be furloughed or made redundant – they will try to save money any way they can. And if they can purchase the same products online, at a lower cost and get them delivered cost effectively when and where they want – why wouldn’t they shop online?

Human and automation collaboration

So how can online retailers become more efficient to cope with the potential surges in demand? One crucial element will be boosting workforce numbers. The impact from Coronavirus has meant that huge numbers of staff from the travel, hospitality and retail industries have been left without employment and will be willing and needing to work once they are permitted. There will, therefore, be a large talent pool of potential recruits available to fill up warehouses to support ecommerce companies with peaks in demand.

Some large retailers, particularly in the groceries industry, rely on automation and robotics to meet demand. But the reality is that automation is programmed to produce a consistent output and has a threshold of how much it can push out; it’s not as simple as telling the machines to produce or pick more products, faster. Automation certainly has its place, but not for processes that need to scale on a regular basis.

For warehouses that have adopted a semi-automated process, the collaboration with human workers means that in times of peak demand, they can quickly employ more staff that can be trained up to accurately pick customer orders and send them out. Those businesses that have an optimised Warehouse Management System (WMS) can rapidly increase usage on the system and bring in employees to operate it – humans can upscale and downscale very quickly to adapt to changing demands and economic conditions. But you can’t just bring in more staff without a WMS in place.

Those without a WMS that are clinging on to paper pick lists, manual processes and other unscalable warehouse practices will not have benefitted from the surge in online orders so far because they weren’t in a position to cope. In the hyper competitive online retail ecosystem, failing to meet customer expectations with slow or inaccurate order fulfilment means losing a customer for life. But despite the volume of information an e-commerce WMS handles, both in set-up and use, implementation is far from complex. With rapid turnaround remote solutions, warehouse management software can be deployed without having to physically visit a site to get up and running. If warehouse facilities are available, a logistics platform can be rolled out in a matter of weeks, not months.

Death of the high street

The decline of the high street has been well publicised for many years, with footfall decreasing and retailers shutting down increasingly year on year. The Covid-19 crisis has now accelerated that decline, so with stores having no option but to close their doors and consumer habits changing for good, we could be witnessing the death of the high street sooner than we thought.

Consumer preference and priorities have now dramatically shifted and companies like Amazon have set the standard for the ecommerce experience. Consumers don’t want or need to visit the high street for their shopping needs – people are time poor and will pay for the convenience of having what they need, delivered where and when they want it. Customer experience still reigns supreme, but the emphasis has changed to convenience.

This is why in the modern retail landscape, fulfilment delivery is now a key differentiator for ecommerce businesses – especially for those that rely on third party logistics providers. Loyalty is vital for all businesses and the impact of a poor delivery experience can significantly alter consumer perception of the brand, potentially causing them to shop elsewhere in the future. The use of technology to optimise delivery efficiency has never been more important.

Catalyst for change

One of the few positives to come out of the crisis is that it will be the undeniable catalyst for businesses to embrace adoption to the new vision of retail. Any businesses holding on to old ways of working and more traditional systems are unlikely to survive through the pandemic. We may still be living in an economic climate that is changing day by day, but there is a clear trajectory for retail that is well underway – businesses need to adapt now or risk failure.

Online shopping behavior: What COVID-19 changed and how to test it

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

When it comes to e-commerce, the current pandemic fortified the already booming position of online shopping in the daily life of an average consumer. The past few weeks have seen a change in behavior, with 45% of consumers opting for online shopping. But how lasting will these new habits be? What is different now, in comparison to how adopters of online shopping used to behave and experience it before the crisis?

Check out the full webinar here to learn more about the entire study and get all the insights!

The replicated study included 500 respondents split into 2 cells, with each cell exposed to one retailer (Amazon or Walmart) and 4 categories, both food ones (coffee, chocolate, and cereals) and one non-food category (cleaning products). They completed 2 eye-tracking & click tasks (which served to determine which products participants considered and what elements of product pages they found useful).

The first wave of the study was conducted in June 2019, and the second in April 2020.

Here’s what we found that could help brands gain competitive advantage:

Shoppers saw 36% more products compared to purchases before COVID-19!

Both prior and during the COVID-19 crisis, positioning is crucial for product noticeability, as our study showed that items placed in one of the top 10 positions on a PLP have a 34% higher chance to be noticed. Also, as a rule of thumb, the middle columns of the PLP perform better in terms of visibility than the lateral ones in a grid layout. Overall, a simpler PLP layout that is showcasing fewer products per page, with clear organization, ensures that a greater portion of content will be seen and explored.

The most significant change in the way respondents behaved was in the time shoppers spend on the retailer’s product list. It is substantially longer – from half a minute on average to almost 50 seconds! Not only is the exploration of product lists prolonged, but the average time spent per product is also higher – 0.17s more, or 11% longer. With an extended browsing time, comes higher visibility of PLPs – there’s a significant increase in the number of noticed products.

Purchase interest stays on a more or less same level – with a slight decrease in some categories (chocolate, cereals), but with leading brands remaining the same among the tested categories.

Consumers are scrolling further and noticing more on a PDP

The difference in product detail pages exploration is notable – they were explored for almost 20 seconds longer during the COVID-19 crisis. Respondents also scroll through the page much deeper, ensuring that a more significant portion of the page is seen – nearly 60% of shoppers reach the page end compared to usual ~5% who did in our other tests. This results in twice as many areas seen on a PDP, compared to the usual, pre-COVID browsing.

The areas above the fold – product image, product name, price, short description & add to cart – remain most visible and among most useful in reaching a purchase decision. However, some other areas are gaining in importance for shoppers, primarily – suggested products and customer reviews.

Basket size is the same, but its contents have changed

Pages for the four categories included in the study were all browsed longer, with coffee and cleaning products keeping the same purchase intent, and chocolates and cereals having a somewhat decreased number of considered products. Lesser-known brands that provide value at a lower price were taken into consideration for both cereal and coffee categories, while the interest for healthy cereal products and ‘greener’ packaging options for coffee increased.

In contrast, sanitizing properties and convenience of use rule our choices when it comes to cleaning products, while value packs, family, and variety packs that offer a bigger assortment of products at a competitive price in the chocolate category are two tendencies clearly influenced by the ongoing crisis.

Previous research has shown that, when unaffected by a crisis, consumers notice only a fraction of the products during normal browsing. So what are the ways you can optimize your website to gain a competitive advantage? From an online shopping strategy, or testing shopper behavior on specific websites, to tactical impact studies, know how to choose the right type of study to up your e-commerce game!

Here are the key takeaways – make sure to listen to the full webinar for more insights:

  • Shoppers spend more time browsing during COVID-19, on the lookout for new info and best value
  • This might be the right time to optimize your e-commerce strategy and assets
  • Consumer behavior is changing, so change with it!

Interested in learning more about e-commerce testing? Reach out to us at info@eyesee-research.com.

B2B leaders in eCommerce ‘bullish about digital experience budgets’ despite COVID-19

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Despite the economic downturn, 85% of B2B organisations still expect their digital experience budget to increase next year, which will help 71% of B2B leaders who agree that the digital experience their company offers does not meet the needs and expectations of its customers.

However, facing market uncertainty brought on by the global pandemic, B2B organisations must adapt to changes in how they connect with customers as 54% of leaders in IT, marketing and ecommerce roles define their company’s customer relationships as strained, developing or non-existent.

That’s According to data from Episerver’s B2B Digital Experience Report, which says that delivering relevant, personalised digital experiences has emerged as a top priority and direct selling as the most significant opportunity for B2B leaders navigating a new reality.

The March 2020 survey of 600 global decision-makers in IT, e-commerce and marketing roles at B2B organisations indicates 41% of respondents believe selling directly to customers online is the most significant opportunity for their business in the next year, followed by expanding into new geographies (37%) and providing their salesforce with digital selling tools (36%).

“It is clear from our data and conversations with customers that digital transformation is being accelerated to address immediate needs due to COVID-19,” said Alex Atzberger, CEO of Episerver. “Direct-to-consumer sales, for example, have been discussed for years, but now the time is there to rethink your go-to-market channel. Getting in touch with customers directly and in a hyper-relevant way is business critical when in-person tactics are impossible to execute. You can’t not be digital anymore; you can’t not create content to create engaging experiences; you can’t not sell directly.”

The survey also discovered that many B2B organisations are struggling to meet customer expectations and are faced with an arduous competitor. Fifty-two percent of B2B leaders believe their company is losing revenue to Amazon, but despite those perceived losses, 52% of B2B leaders also say Amazon is seen more as an opportunity than a threat.

While technologies offer a potential solution to today’s challenges, anxieties remain around the impact of AI and automation on future job security:

  • 61% of B2B leaders fear that AI will replace the need for a human worker in their current position in the next five years.
  • 82% of B2B leaders say, however, that AI will make them better at their job in the next two years.
  • 82% of B2B leaders say better data quality is how AI will make them better at their job in the next two years.

Click here to download the full report.

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