Category

Fashion

Five E-Commerce Challenges in Retail That Social Proof Can Fix Today

By | Business, E-commerce, Fashion, Fit; Online Shopping, Online optimisation, Online optimization, Retail, Retail; E-Commerce, Social proof

We’re working with a lot of savvy e-commerce brands in online retail that are first to the table when it comes to using software to improve their online sales conversions.  Some have whole teams dedicated to it.

What’s great is that they’re already setup to quickly run experiments proving how our real-time social proof product can increase sales conversion immediately.

For example, to improve conversion rates specifically, social proof messages show real-time recommendations, ratings and sales from other buyers to show the popularity and quality of every item on your site, making shoppers more confident to click ‘Buy Now.’

However, as we talk to senior, board-level directors, there are more strategic areas where social proof product messaging is helping the business to manage some major e-commerce challenges.

Here are five:

  1. Your basket abandonment rates are too high

No e-commerce site has 100% conversion, and retailers are also struggling with consumers who use the basket as a calculator to pick and sort their shopping before they checkout fewer items. This consumer behavior has seen some retail sites top out at abandonment rates running at between 60-80%.  This is far too high, when tools are now available to bring the rate down and conversions up.

We find that when customers have seen social proof product messages when selecting their product shortlist, abandonment rates are lower and final checkout totals are higher.

Depending on the product you’re selling different messaging may techniques work.  If for example, it’s an on-trend fashion item, messages about the quantity left in stock, or how many people have bought it in the last hour are proven to boost consumer confidence measurably. Or if you’re selling a practical four-slice toaster, we know that showing star ratings near the product is an effective way to nudge consumers to complete the sale.

  1. You need to shift longtail products

We know that selling must-have gadgets while they’re trending, or before a negative press article scuppers sales, is important to your financial results.

We’re also aware that you have a wider product catalogue to keep selling, keeping stock management efficient, and making sure out-of-date versions are sold rather than discounted.

We work with retailers who attach social proof messaging to every single item in their portfolio, making the case to buy even the most mundane light bulb.   Equally, we work with these retailers’ marketing teams to tag, merchandize and promote any item, category or campaign that they need to drive.

Social proof is known to be powerful to sell seasonal products, or for technology that’s about to be updated.

  1. Big ticket items aren’t moving

We’re still in times of relative austerity.

Consumers are very careful with their cash, with year-on-year growth in the quantity bought for retail sales at 0.9%. That’s the lowest growth on the year since April 2013 (UK Office of National Statistics, May 2017).

Research shows that while we’re happy to treat ourselves with small luxuries or to buy in times of absolute necessity, people are more reluctant to shell out on expensive items or packaged holidays.

Given that people visit a site, multiple sites or a product details page more often when they’re unsure about an item, the so-called ‘bursty’ nature of online browsing is also bad news for e-tailers.  A recent joint paper called “The Empirical Economics of Online Attention” (University of California, Harvard Business School and Indiana University, 2016), found that people generally go online in small bursts, before dinner, before bed or heading into work. This makes grabbing consumer attention even harder. Attracting customers is no longer as simple as putting on a sale.

Checking a page multiple times is very common when the item is expensive or a holiday, which is why it’s important to give consumers maximum information and incentive to buy when they’re on-site.

Social proof messaging is designed to give the consumer as much product information as possible. It markets big ticket items effectively, gives customers more reasons about why they’re right to choose the big ticket item, and why the price is right (ratings, reviews, product trending information).

Using behavioral trend information like ‘32 people have bought this in the last week’ and ‘51 people give this item 4 stars,’ gives shoppers the extra on-site support and third party reassurance they need to justify buying a major item.  Telling customers that 1,500 people booked in Turkey in the past week for example, tells them they’re choosing a popular destination and that they might get a bargain.

  1. You’re competing for consumer attention

The same 2016 study also found that we devote more or less the same time to online activity each week.  If something new comes along, we don’t extend our online time, but we shift our attention to the new site at the expense of old sites.

In this framework, loyalty becomes a sensitive subject.  E-commerce sites are frantically competing for consumer attention as website browsing has become what the researchers call ‘filler activity’ – something that’s done in between offline activities like the kids’ homework or cooking.

In these short windows of attention, social proof messaging equips e-tailers with the ability to deliver information directly to customers to engage them before they jump offline.

It’s very important that the messages are customer-focused, which is why we test hundreds of message combinations to understand what works best for a retailer to reduce buy time and to increase overall conversions.

  1. The cost of returns is killing your margins

Fit-related and quality-related returns cost retailers millions in lost revenue and operational expense every year. People also return items because they’ve bought the wrong version or because it’s incompatible. The list goes on.

We’ve formed partnerships with software provider like BazaarVoice and to draw on powerful credible, crowd-sourced information like quality reviews, fit reviews, ratings and purchase history to convince shoppers who’ve wavering about whether a product is right, to make the right choice, first time.

Find out more how Taggstar could support your E-commerce business, and ask about our free trial.  Contact us here.

The UK and international retailers using our product can’t be wrong!.

N Brown Group & Taggstar Shortlisted for Tech.Awards 2017 Powered by Retail Week

By | Business, E-commerce, Fashion, Fit; Online Shopping, Online optimisation, Online optimization, Retail, Retail; E-Commerce, Social proof

N Brown Group and Taggstar have been shortlisted for Online CX Initiative of the Year in the Tech.Awards 2017 powered by Retail Week.  We’re over the moon!

We’ve been working together since the middle of 2016, and added our social proof messaging to the N Brown Group flagship websites SimplyBe, JD Williams and Jacamo.  You can click through to the product pages to take a look at our real-time messages in action.

N Brown Group conversion rate optimisation manager, Finn Christo said that they wanted to add the messages because “We were interested in what motivates us to buy as shoppers, and specifically the FOMO (fear of missing out) factor.  We saw how effective the Taggstar social proof messages were, and started using them across our entire product catalogue.”

It was the first time N Brown had used real-time urgency messages as part of its online customer journey, and the messages told online customers how many other shoppers were looking at each product at a particular moment, and what they had bought.
All three sites showed impressive conversion rate uplift.  And N Brown was able to specifically track an extra £2m+ of additional revenues in just a few months.  You can read the full press release about our software-in-action here.
Taggstar JD Williams social proof

Taggstar JD Williams social proof

Taggstar JD Williams social proof

N Brown Grows Online Sales by £2m with Taggstar’s Social Proof Messaging

By | Business, E-commerce, Fashion, Fit; Online Shopping, Online optimisation, Online optimization, Retail, Retail; E-Commerce, Social proof

Retailer Signs Contract After Trial Shows Significant Sales Uplift

23 May 2017 – Leading digital fashion retailer N Brown Group, has generated additional revenues of c.£2m in just a few months by adding social proof messaging from e-commerce conversion optimisation specialists, Taggstar.  Messaging was added to the group’s Power Brands Simply Be, JD Williams and Jacamo in mid-2016. The test showed impressive revenue uplift across the three sites that was directly linked to the customers who saw the Taggstar messages, leading the retailer to sign an ongoing contract.

Taggstar social proof

Taggstar social proof messaging at SimplyBe

N Brown began using Taggstar across the brands in mid-2016, testing the social proof messaging software over a 90-day period, and showing more than 12 million unique messages. Customers saw information about how many other people were looking at a product at a particular moment, or what other shoppers had bought. The messages increased customer confidence by providing transparent information about product popularity, and encouraged browsers to move down the purchase funnel.

N Brown Group conversion rate optimisation manager, Finn Christo said: “We were interested in what motivates us to buy as shoppers, and specifically the FOMO factor.  We saw how effective the Taggstar social proof messages were, and started using them across our entire product catalogue.”

Results from using the messaging were excellent. Sales attributed to the Taggstar messages added additional revenue of c.£2 million across the three sites, with Simply Be alone increasing its conversion rate by up to 2.7%.

N Brown and Taggstar continue to work together and have now signed a new contract to increase use of the messages and to test different combinations. The Group Optimisation team says that it will begin to deliver its social proof message roadmap immediately.

N Brown Group has adapted to drive improved online sales. Its online power brands Simply Be, JD Williams and Jacamo have an aggregated 1.8m active customers every year. It also uses Taggstar partners BizarreVoice and Monetate and is excited to try the two solutions together.

Taggstar social proof Jacamo

Taggstar social proof at Jacamo

Taggstar’s CEO Marjorie Leonidas said: “Our social proof messages give consumers the confidence to make more informed decisions when shopping online. We turn huge amounts of e-commerce trends into useful, actionable information to improve customer engagement and increase sales.”

With overwhelming online choice, Taggstar captures recommendations, ratings and real sales trends from others to guide customers down the purchase funnel. It’s statistically-proven to increase sales conversions of popular selling items and thousands of long-tail products.

Read the Essential Retail Q&A with Finn Christo, N Brown here.

Can Social Proof Messaging Solve The Problem of Fit in Online Fashion?

By | E-commerce, Fashion, Retail, Retail; E-Commerce, Social proof

We work with a number of fast fashion e-tailers, who all agree that one consumer mega trend is causing their businesses a problem – fit.

This isn’t new news, but as fashion and apparel sales have become the fastest-growing e-commerce category – second only to consumer electronics – it’s become more common and pressing. 2014 figures from Forrester said that the online return rate for a retailer is 20 to 30 per cent, and about twice the rate of goods bought in-person, in-store.

Online fashion sales are huge, and it’s a pain point for retailers as much as consumers when ill-fitting clothes bought online are returned. For consumers, the anticipation, optimism and excitement of their new purchase goes sour; and for online retailers, fit-related returns cost millions in terms of lost revenue and the extra operational expense needed to ship and process. Moreover, according to Gartner, fewer than half of returned online goods sell at full price again, dealing retailers a double blow.

Revenues lost from returns are of course only half of the problem. When customers are unsure whether an item will fit in the first place, they’re less likely to convert.

Technology suppliers have of course not been shy in trying to solve the problem. There’s now a range of tools to try and support consumers – everything from manual measurement input, to digital fitting rooms, to complex algorithmic solutions which meld fit data to recommend which size an online fashion shopper should pick. And yet the black-bagged returns are still coming back.

The retailers that we talk to say that this is partly inevitable. There is always going to be a chunk of the market who will buy multiple sizes and send the ill-fitting one back. It’s an unfortunate behaviour that’s evolved with fashion e-commerce.  The introduction of new technology won’t automatically reverse the trend either.  If you’re a shopper who’s habitually returning unwanted items, you’re not going to trust a new widget straight-away. We know that standard sizes and body shapes are all different.

High return rates are also partly to do with limited technology adoption. Once fit technologies are added, a behavioural change is needed to actually get shoppers to engage. Some tools need shoppers to take an extra step in their online purchase journeys, but for fast fashionistas who want to get online, get it and get out, that’s also possibly a step too far.

Where fashion e-commerce has exploded, online returns have followed suit, and retailers are now having to catch up.  It’s tough, but as customer-centric businesses, retailers have to make it work.

It seems that whether a clever, automated tool or one that needs manual input, sales conversions will only go up, and returns go down when shoppers actually trust the information that they’re getting. Which is where crowd-sourced, behavioural information like quality reviews, fit reviews, ratings and purchase information are powerful.

There’s little that we can do about the habitual returners who are likely to carry on buying and returning.  However, for the mass of shoppers in who aren’t sure about fit, and are dropping out of the purchase journey because of it, the more information that we can give them the better, making them more likely to trust in their product choices and therefore more likely to convert.

That’s the principle that effective social proof messaging should live and die by for fast fashion e-commerce. Fashion is the one retail niche where consumers are more likely to have a friend or family member to back them up when they’re shopping in-store. The benefit is that if they can’t see how tight the dress is around their thighs, then their friend is sure to tell them.  We lose this third party reassurance when we shop online, which is where social proof messaging fills the gap, providing crowd-sourced support for e-commerce fashion choices.

Social proof messaging can be tagged to every item on a retail site, and shoppers shouldn’t need to look for it. Real-time information should be shown with the product page, helping to build trust and add value with third party reviews about fit, quality (or any other issue that retailers need to address).  If the crowd agrees that an item comes up small, they’re arguably more reliable than a prep-programmed app.

It’s a non-disruptive, information injection that is working for the fashion e-tailers that Taggstar works with. For example, they tell us that by letting customers know on the product page that the item fits tight (and therefore to buy a size larger), customers are less likely to buy two of the same item and to return the ill-fitting one. This stops retailers losing margins on the item that is kept.

Additionally, having information about fit on the product page has also shown to increase sales conversions because these social proof messages actually help build customer confidence to buy rather than abandon.

To find out more about Taggstar for your fashion site, get in touch.

Taggstar’s Black Friday Report: The Impact of Social Proof on Black Friday in 2016

By | Business, E-commerce, Fashion, Fit; Online Shopping, Retail; E-Commerce

Taggstar provides real-time, social proof messaging for e-commerce to drive increased sales conversions and revenue along with better customer engagement and a reduction in basket abandonment.

Each year we look at how our messages performed for e-commerce sites using Taggstar on Black Friday. We love to compare the role social proof messaging plays year-on-year. It’s a fascinating case in shopper behaviour to see how the transparent buying patterns of shoppers improve the sales conversions of others.

In 2016, we delivered close to a staggering 120 million real-time social proof messages for customers on some of the UK’s largest online retailers, which contributed to increasing revenue.

When there are so many bargains to be had, we can see that our messages are helping shoppers to make a quicker, more confident decision to buy. In fact, during Black Friday 2016 we saw sales conversion rate uplifts of up to 3.75 per cent based on A/B testing of all e-commerce sites using Taggstar.

For the full results and extra social proof tips to apply to your site as you prepare for Black Friday 2017, read The Taggstar Black Friday Report 2016

Q&A with Sam Barton, head of user experience at Shop Direct

By | Business, E-commerce, Fashion, Fit; Online Shopping, Retail; E-Commerce

Back in December 2015, Essential E-Commerce printed a Q&A with Taggstar’s customer, Sam Barton, head of user experience, Shop Direct. Today we’re printing the Q&A in full. Thanks Sam!

Why did you choose to work with Taggstar over competitors? Where did you find them?

We have worked with many emerging companies over the last few years, focussing upon innovative technology and methods. Taggstar’s platform was of interest knowing movement within the industry, but when we learned about the science behind the tool, and with their professionalism and support, the decision was an easy one.

What is the Shop Direct policy on using start-up technology? How do you go about finding start-up innovation?

Shop Direct works with a lot of start-up companies, who tend to drive innovation on niche or specific elements of the onsite experience.   We identify them through multiple sources, and discussions typically advance where they can clearly evidence that their technology will solve a business or customer problem.

Tell me about the implementation process of Taggstar? Was the technology easy to integrate with Shop Direct’s existing platforms?

We introduced Taggstar’s persuasive messaging through our world class ‘Experimentation at Scale’ programme enabling us to learn more and faster through A/B experiments. Experiments enable us to make quick and nimble changes to our websites, removing assumptions, to learn which ideas improve key metrics that should be iterated upon, and which ideas need to fail fast.

Why do you think these social proof messages are so effective? Why do customers choose to read/act upon them?

We found that the messages helped in two ways. Firstly, in presenting social proof to people that usually searched for this information, the experience was improved by making the information they needed more easily accessible. Secondly, through presenting this information to people that found it useful but did not normally think to look for it, we were able to inform the decision and provide reassurance where needed.

Do you think the messages will help with big sale events as you approach peak times? E.g. Black Friday?

These messages provide value all year round, but last year’s Black Friday experiment with Taggstar proved that the opportunity during big events is massive. The number of people visiting the site is one factor which cannot be denied. However, by the nature of the sale events we can really harness the power of Taggstar’s algorithms and let people know about our hottest selling items. For this reason, we were confident in the value of the tool and included Taggstar’s messaging on Very’s Black Friday pages at 100% of traffic.

How does it tackle your personalisation efforts?

The tool already has the intelligence to show a message with the right product, but we are working with Taggstar to build on this. We will be creating a more personalised experience for each of our customers by presenting them with the most relevant, useful information, when and how they need it. Our User Experience team is pivotal in working with Taggstar, to use more varied messages, different methods of delivery, while better understanding our customers using data and user centred research.

What is the future of this type of messaging technology? What would you ideally like the technology to do in the next couple of years?

We are continually looking for opportunities where we can integrate this technology into all our platforms, one area which is on our horizon is the integration within the apps.

What are the biggest eCommerce challenges facing Shop Direct at the moment?

We now employ over 4,700 members of staff across the UK, Ireland and Asia. As the business continues to go from strength to strength we need to ensure that we have the right resources to help support this growth. Therefore it’s important for us to attract the best possible talent to our business which means focusing on building the brand and raising the profile of Shop Direct so that we are front of mind when candidates are looking for their next career move.       

Where else do you look for innovation? Do you look outside the retail sector? If so where, please provide examples of industries/companies doing interesting things in your opinion.

We look for innovation in many different places and sectors.  We take part in knowledge shares and spend time with non-competing organisations from outside retail such as the gaming and travel sectors to look for examples of best practice and the use of innovative concepts.  

Crowd Power Alive and Well in Shopping Today

By | E-commerce, Fashion, Fit; Online Shopping, Online optimisation, Online optimization, Retail, Retail; E-Commerce, Social proof

In the 2004 book, The Wisdom of Crowdsauthor James Surowiecki explores the accumulation of information within groups. The results, he argues, are that better decisions are made by groups, than could have been made by any single person.

The proof is alive and kicking in retail. I’ll give you a real-time example.

Last weekend, I needed to buy a new toaster.  I was really specific about what I was after (four slices and red), in case you’re interested.

After spending a fair bit of time researching, I jumped onto Argos where I was blind-sided by no less than 172 choices for four slice toasters.  It was getting late. Things were not looking good.

Then I took a closer look, Argos was sending me messages about one particular product.

It had apparently been bought by 54 other people, liked by 402 others and rated 4.5 stars.  If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me I thought. Mind made up, I clicked, sent to basket and paid.

There’s a few things happening here, which I think move the personalised marketing targeting debate on.

Remember, it was late and I had hundreds of product choices. Back in the day I would have asked friends, had a nose around their kitchens before going to shop. In these digital days, I guess I could have played with the search filter – looked by ratings, by price – but that’s a frustrating and clunky way to make a decision, and I’m time poor.

Instead, the messages that I was seeing drew the old and the new worlds together. Argos tapped into my basic human need for approval. I needed to know that I was making the right choice. It’s no different to the millennials taking ‘chelfies’ (that’s changing room selfies, people…). We’re all looking for a virtual thumbs-up from someone – anyone.

By building a picture based on the behaviour of millions of shoppers, Argos was able to boil the data into a simple message to tell me that other people had bought that toaster too. And that gave me the confidence to click ‘buy.’

Back to James Surowiecki and his crowd power.  I couldn’t agree more. The crowd made the decision for me.