Online optimisation

Retail Week Tech.Awards – We Won Silver!

By | Basket abandonment, Business, E-commerce, Fashion, Fit; Online Shopping, Online conversion, Online optimisation, Online optimization, Retail, Retail; E-Commerce, Social proof
Taggstar social proof Jacamo

Taggstar social proof at Jacamo

We’ve not yet come down from cloud nine after being awarded silver, in the ‘Best Online User Experience Initiative’ at the Retail Week Tech.Awards in London last Thursday.

This was a joint award with our fantastic retail partner N Brown Group, (Jacamo, SimplyBe and JD Williams).

We’ve been working together since the middle of 2016, when we added our social proof messaging to the three websites.  Click-through to the SimplyBe product pages for example, and you’ll see our real-time social proof messages in action.

We know (because we can prove it through extensive A/B testing), that products showing Taggstar social proof messaging have better conversion rates, than products that don’t. And we’ve worked hard with the N Brown team to get the messaging and positioning perfect.

You can read the story behind our entry here.

Not every category had a silver award, and competition in our field was fierce, so we feel very special. Congratulations to winners and Hullabalook, plus all the other shortlisted retailers.

What’s more, we’ve been shortlisted (again with N Brown) for two more retail industry awards. They’re both due to be announced before Xmas.

Wish us luck!

Five Challenges in Travel E-Commerce and Hospitality That Social Proof Can Fix Today

By | Business, E-commerce, Fit; Online Shopping, Online conversion, Online optimisation, Online optimization, Online travel agent, Social proof, Travel

In a competitive travel market, it’s important that customers are confident that they’ve made the right decision across every element of their holidays to avoid disappointment and post-holiday complaints. More confident customers are also more likely to buy, and to go for higher-ticket products.

With competition always fierce, we’re delivering social proof product messaging to travel e-tailers who have become more sophisticated in their use of digital tools to optimize website conversions and overall spend.

We’re supporting some huge online brands to use social proof messaging to help their sites with e-commerce challenges that are specific to online travel. Our real-time messages provide detail about the number of purchases and other trend information about a particular hotel, destination or packaged holiday.

Here’s five top challenges:

  1. High abandonment rates on high-end holidays

The dynamics of shopping on an online travel site versus a high street store are a challenge when it comes to convincing travelers to choose an expensive or luxury destination.

Online customers don’t have the third party reassurance of talking to a travel agent face-to-face. If they’re in doubt, they’ll churn and move onto a cheaper location or to an alternative site.

We’re also still in times of relative austerity and exchange rate fluctuations.  Consumers are very careful with their cash and while they’re are happy to shell out on small treats, high-end packaged holidays need more consideration. In these conditions, the travel sites we work with do all they can to inspire confidence while the customer is onsite.

Social proof messaging works by giving the consumer as much information about product popularity as possible. It markets big ticket holidays effectively, to give the traveler more reasons about why they’re right to choose the long-haul destination or luxury villa, and why the price is right (ratings, reviews, trending information).

Using behavioral information like “32 people have chosen Mauritius  in the last 24 hours” and “51 people rate this hotel 5*,” potential buyers have extra on-site support and third party reassurance to justify buying a major item.  By presenting a message that “1,853 people booked the Maldives in the past week” for example, you’re communicating that it’s a popular destination and that (even on more expensive breaks), they might get a bargain.

  1. You need to reduce customer conversion time  

It doesn’t matter whether the customer is buying online or on the high street, taking a long time to buy a holiday is normal. Research shows that customers might visit a holiday site nine or more times, prolonging the window between holiday research and sale.

This browsing is also likely to be spread out. We know that people visit a site or multiple sites when they’re unsure about an item, and that they’ll do this in bursts. The 2016 academic paper, The Empirical Economics of Online Attention” (University of California, Harvard Business School and Indiana University), found that online sessions are typically ‘bitty.’ They’re done before dinner, before bed or heading into work. This makes influencing decision-making even harder for online travel agents.

With small windows of opportunity to effect the sale, social proof messaging gives customers the maximum information and provides an incentive to buy while they’re on-site.  It is also effectively used to create a sense of urgency when inventory levels are shown. We work with one all-inclusive package holiday provider to show popularity and scarcity messages such as “Only 5 rooms left on this date”, “100 people have looked at this hotel in the last hour” and “70+ people booked this destination in the last seven days.”   These nudge the retailer’s customers to buy quickly.

  1. You need to increase confidence in unfamiliar destinations and reduce post-holiday complaints  

Annual holidays are a big ticket item and no one wants to make a mistake with the most important fortnight of the year. Looking over recent cases for the Advertising Standards Authority, customers’ breaks have been spoilt by misinformation about local amenities, about on-site facilities, rooming and the destination itself.

From the point of view of the travel retailer, there is also the task of attracting travelers to new or unfamiliar destinations, or to places historically considered high-risk. Millions book through online travel sites, which become the target for any complaints if things are not as described or as expected.

Social proof messaging can help by giving travelers as much product information as possible while they’re on your site, setting expectations about quality and appropriateness from the start. Taggstar can also integrate with third party review data to summarise important information according to traveler type. A family holiday buyer for example might see a message that “100% of customers rated this destination 5 * for child friendliness,” providing important pre-sales customer support.

Where travel agents have holidays in less popular or marginal destinations, Taggstar provides customers with a real-time view of (for example) how many people booked there in the past month and how it was rated. Using factual information about whether crowd is choosing an unfamiliar destination or that they are starting to return to somewhere that was once considered high-risk, our messages can encourage buyers to consider new places or somewhere that they may have discounted because of safety concerns.

We’re working strategically with online travel agents to plan an experimentation roadmap to test and prove the effectiveness of different messaging types in reducing complaints and increasing satisfaction.

  1. Fierce New Year sales competition

More summer holidays are sold in the first few months of the year – most in January. There’s also been an upswing in last minute holiday bookings in uncertain economic conditions.

In the face of this competition, the digital customer experience has become more important at each stage of the holiday buying process, from inspiration through to experience review.  One early adopter we’re working with already has a number of tools in play to improve conversion rates but specifically asked us to put social proof messaging in place before its January rush.

Our messages are shown throughout the web booking journey to influence sales at each stage. They’re proven to retain people on the site longer so that less people churn to competitors, and we also know that conversion rates in the peak sales month of January increased by 2.6% specifically because customers had seen Taggstar messages.

That’s millions in extra sales revenue during the most critical month of the year.

  1. Customers research on your site but buy elsewhere

The same 2016 academic study found that website browsing has become ‘filler activity.’ We’re online in between more important tasks like cooking, homework or socialising, but it’s not sustained. In these conditions, it’s normal that your customers might research a holiday on one site during one session, then buy on another in a different session.

Of course, you want to be the site that they buy on and, in these short windows of attention, social proof messaging gives travel agents extra power to nudge buyers to complete the sale before they jump offline.

Review data is proven to be most effective for influencing travel sales.  We’ve formed partnerships to pull credible third party evaluation and recommendations from powerful travel review sites. We have partnered with BazaarVoice and are about to add another partner that can deliver personalized e-commerce advice to support customers who’ve wavering about whether a destination or property is right for them and their party.

Read our blog: Five E-Commerce Challenges in Retail That Social Proof Can Fix Today.

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

The leading international travel agents using our SaaS software can’t be wrong.

Taggstar is a Finalist for the Retail Systems Awards ‘Online Solution of the Year’

By | Basket abandonment, Business, E-commerce, Fashion, Fit; Online Shopping, Long tail merchandising, Online conversion, Online optimisation, Online optimization, Retail, Retail; E-Commerce, Social proof

We’ve won our second award shortlisting of the year for our work with N Brown Group.

Our social proof messaging, used on its e-commerce brands Jacamo, JD Williams and SimplyBe, has been nominated as a finalist for the Retail Systems Awards ‘Online Solution of the Year.’  These awards recognise technology excellence and innovation within the retail sector.

The N Brown/Taggstar online solution was also nominated in June, for the Tech.awards powered by Retail Week. We’re over the moon to be recognised twice.

N Brown Group added Taggstar to its Power Brands Simply Be, JD Williams and Jacamo in mid-2016. In just a few months, it reported additional revenues of c.£2 million as a direct result of using our technology.  The messages provide what it needs to help nudge customers to buy, improving the sites’ online conversions.  You can read the whole story here.

We’ll find out who’s won both awards in the Autumn.

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.

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

COMMENT: Amazon Charts Launches – Social Proof for Our Social Proof

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

Last week, online retail colossus Amazon announced a new feature in its book sales called Amazon Charts. In case you missed it, this chart has been billed as a ‘new’ bestseller list, giving users a top 20 list of the ‘most read’ books on Amazon. The data combines both how much these titles are read on Kindle and listened to via Audible.

Amazon Kindle: Data included in social proof chart

Moreover Amazon will now also publish a ‘most sold’ top 20 list, including books sold, pre-ordered and borrowed each week on, Audible and Amazon Books. As time passes we’ll also see other selective stats and data about their sales.

Avid Amazon shoppers will ask what’s changed? Amazon has long-published lists, but this announcement shows a richer reliance on the data that it’s continually collecting as sales are made, and replaying that to add value to the online sales experience. What’s key is that the data wholly-belongs to Amazon by way of the opinions and behaviors of its millions of customers. From a branding point of view, Amazon is reinforcing its position as the leading online book retailer each time these stats are used – and undoubtedly replayed in the media and other sources.

Amazon sells millions of books each day, so as a game of numbers alone, it’s already viewed as a credible source. But what excites us about this announcement is that these charts are using social data first and foremost. Amazon is promoting information about what others are reading as way to encourage more sales. This works by using the wisdom of crowds to influence the behavior of new or returning customers.

Add to this that most of us have shopped on Amazon in the last few months, and probably know other people that have also used the site, so by mining and replaying the preferences of previous customers back to new visitors, we’re being giving recommendations by ‘people like us,’ making us feel more comfortable about the buying decisions we might then make. Amazon is adding value on-site, and therefore also reducing the likelihood that book buyers will go elsewhere.

According to the TechCrunch report, the data points presented will be selective.  This makes sense. We expect that Amazon will use the latest data to support seasonal or other marketing campaigns, but it will also be interesting to see what site’s algorithms show us according to the behavior of real-time customers.

It’s great to see more retailers show a deeper reliance on socially-sourced factual data.  At Taggstar, we work with the principle that the opinion of the crowd is always stronger than an individual, and are rolling out new ways of applying real-time social proof data to some of the web’s largest brands.

We already have a ‘top sellers’ feature available to Taggstar customers, which collects and presents data in the form of real-time messages sourced from the crowd, without the bias of the retailer.  We know from our testing that this is statistically-proven to improve sales.

You can read a recent example how we’re helping retailers and their customers to make better buying decisions using crowd-sourced trends here, as Finn Christo, online optimisation lead at N Brown explains.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on how Amazon develops its social charts.

Want to try Taggstar’s social proof messages yourself?  Drop us a line here.

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.

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.