It doesn’t matter how good you think your product is – research shows that online shoppers trust other people’s opinions more than any marketing claims. So the ideal way of promoting your goods is to get your customers to do the selling for you – by using a ratings and reviews and customer recommendations engine on your site.
The e-commerce landscape is forever changing. What once seemed like super-whiz-bang functionality is now just table stakes. Two perfect examples of this phenomenon are ratings and reviews and product recommendations. There are some exceptions, undoubtedly, but the vast majority of e-commerce sites will benefit from allowing their customers to review the products they have purchased and dynamically recommend other products for up-sell and cross-sell.
Ratings and reviews
BT Expedite & Fresca’s in-house Ratings & Reviews service lets you show customer comments and ratings on a product details page, while an average star rating shows customers the most popular items in a category or search result. You can restrict reviews to registered customers, and send feedback reminders to people who have bought something from the site. Administration screens let you find all the reviews that have been placed using the same email address and you can require approval for reviews or remove any that are inappropriate.
The FrescaCommerce Platform Recommendations service allows retailers to cross-sell and up-sell by providing dynamic recommendations. It comes with a fully-featured administration console enabling retailers to modify recommendation rules on the fly so that they can achieve the highest possible conversion rate. Rules can be based on product attributes – for example products in the same category or with the same colour– or based on previous sales data – “customer who bought this, also bought that”. The rules engine allows retailers to refine the basic rules so that only products over a certain price or with stock above a certain level are displayed. Rules can be A/B tested against each other on an ongoing basis to ensure that the highest-performing rules are enabled.
Recommendations are typically shown on a product detail page, but the BT Fresca Recommendations service supports recommendations across the website, with the ability to use different rules in different places. Want to cross-sell on your basket page where the recommendations take account of what’s already in your basket? No problem. How about a recommendations spot on your homepage that takes account of the product categories that your visitors looked at on their previous visit. We’ve got that covered too. And much more!
The Ratings & Reviews and Recommendations services are fully hosted by BT Fresca, and share the same administration console. They will work together or independently and, although each integrates fully with websites built on the FrescaCommerce Platform, they can also be used as standalone services on any e-commerce site.
Posted by Jonathan Bowen, Head of Client Services, BT Expedite & Fresca
You’d be forgiven for thinking that a certain Mr S Claus was buying his presents online this Monday, as the number of e-commerce orders broke all records for the busiest shopping day ever! It’s been reported in the media that over £320m was spent online by UK shoppers on 3 December alone; that’s a whopping £3,700 per second. Imagine the amount of carrots and mince pies that could buy!
Our own analytics show that on Monday 3 December – or Mega Monday as it has been coined in the UK – we saw a 24% increase in orders through the FrescaCommerce Platform, compared to the busiest day last Christmas (30 November), and a 25% increase when compared to the first Monday in December last year.
To put it into perspective, between 1 December and 3 December the number of online orders increased by an amazing 70% – making it the largest number of orders ever seen through our platform, which is behind many of the world’s fastest growing and most successful e-commerce web sites – including the Aurora Fashion brands (Coast, Oasis, Warehouse), Get The Label, Karen Millen, Matalan, The Perfume Shop, and Thomas Pink.
Drilling into the shopping habits of Mega Monday shows that most people filled their e-stockings after dinner – as the hour between 21:00-22.00 was the busiest with almost twice the number of orders being placed than the typical lunchtime peak.
It’s also interesting to note just how consumers purchased their presents in 2012. IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark (which analyses e-commerce data from 150 retailers in the UK) shows that the number of people buying through a mobile device almost doubled compared to last year (21.7% vs 12.6%). The most impressive increase in this area was the percentage of online sales made on iPads which saw a monumental 194.4% increase on 2011! So instead of Mega Monday – and to pay homage to what was the most talked about topic by retailers this year – maybe it should be renamed Multichannel Monday?
Posted by Richard Vining, Head of FCP Performance, BT Fresca
Last week’s Retail Business Technology Expo 2012 was the ideal setting to show off our latest technology innovations. So we parked our demo showcase “bus” at Earls Court and gave people the chance to get their hands on some of the exciting stuff that’s set to shape retail – while they picked the brains of our experts at the same time.
We’d set up personal tours of the showcase in advance, which was a good move, or we’d have had people queuing for the bus! That’s definitely something we want to avoid, as queuing is the number one gripe among shoppers, according to recent BT research.
Basically, waiting is something you do at the dentist. Shopping’s supposed to be a more pleasurable experience – and with people getting more and more used to instant online ordering, they just don’t want to wait…
That online experience is generating other frustrations in-store. As well as being tired of standing in line at the till, people are also driven up the wall by sales assistants with less knowledge than them. Without doubt the point of sale needs to become a point of service – and bring the best of the web in-store.
Other innovations on show backed this up. We had smart digital signage – including transparent video screens – tons of exciting ways to get more out of mobility and huge innovation in the payments area.
It’s clear that bridging the gap between online and in-store is one of the top priorities for retailers. And achieving that depends very heavily on having the right network infrastructure in place, as this is what’s powering successful multichannel retailing.
You just need to look at the extra IT investment announced by John Lewis to know that, if you want to prosper, you need to nurture the systems that support multichannel retailing. John Lewis is setting the benchmark and others will follow.
The Expo showed that retailers are looking for innovation and the vehicle for change gave everyone a glimpse of the possible.
Update your address book!
St Johns Court
We were bursting at the seams at our old place and we needed a little more space to breathe.
The good news is that our new office isn’t at the top of a hill (hooray!), it’s twice the size and we’ve had it kitted out with absolutely everything we need.
It’s also slap bang in the middle of town - just a short walk from High Wycombe train station. So it is easier to get to, better to work in and gives us room to expand (we’re planning to grow by a third, in terms of people, this year).
We’d love to show you round the new place so give us a call (the number’s still the same – 01494 439700) and we’ll set up a visit.
Hope to see you soon,
Sarah Hughes and Gavin Wilkinson
Joint Managing Directors
The run up to the busiest time of the retail calendar officially started this weekend with the ten week countdown to Christmas! And here at BT Fresca the manic and mayhem has already started, we’ve been going off piste with Snow + Rock and going global with Aurora Fashions.
We constantly strive to help our customers, help their customers, but this week we’ve been especially hard at work playing Santa’s little helper to make the Christmas rush easier for everyone. The new mobile optimised Snow+Rock website has just gone live, making it easier for shoppers to place orders and browse on the go – fantastic if your planning to hit the slopes, or for last minute gift shopping and catching those bargains as soon as they hit the sales.
Around the globe, the Fresca fairies are busy sprinkling their e-commerce magic, already providing websites for Karen Millen, Oasis, Warehouse and Coast for the last five years in the UK and more recently going web optimised. We’ve now pushed them global launching the Karen Millen website in Germany as well as a joint website for Oasis, Warehouse and Coast where customers can shop across the brands all in one site!
Both sites are in local language that support local fulfilment, promotions, payment and customer service tailored for each specific country, and Aurora plan to roll out our platform across even more countries. The web sites will support local payment types such as direct bank transfer and invoice on delivery, and the capacity to manage fulfilment from a local distribution centre.
The Frescacommerce Platform is behind many of the world’s fastest growing and most successful e-commerce web sites. It aims to blend creativity with e-commerce best practice and to integrate back office functions like customer ordering, call centre and fulfilment, to maximise sales while giving customers an engaging online experience.
Hash Ladha, Aurora’s group multichannel director, said: “We are very impressed by the current FrescaCommerce Platform and BT’s development plans for the future. These will help underpin our own plans for growth in Europe, Asia-Pacific and beyond.”
We are very excited about these new sites going live and wish our customers all the best for the Christmas trading period.