Weekly Roundup #21 – Key Priorities, Returns and Google Shopping

Mobile Optimisation and Experience Key Priorities for eTailers

Nearly 35% of UK based online retailers list customer experience as their highest priority, with mobile optimisation coming in second at 26%. The information comes from SLI Systems, a worldwide eCommerce provider which conducted a survey of 200 participants at the SLI Connect UK eCommerce forum in London. This comes as no surprise considering customer service is becoming a key differentiator to retailers.


The most important site features to retailers according to the study are:

  • – Relevant search results
  • – Ease of navigation
  • – Mobile friendliness
  • – Personalised recommendations


Personalisation and omnichannel feature low on the list as retailers consider improving their overall customer experience, with the mobile customer experience being the most important.

The “Funnel” is Out of Fashion, It’s the “Customer Decision Journey” Now

Back in 2009, McKinsey formulated the idea of the Customer Decision Journey, and stated that the goal of marketing was to “reach consumers at the moments that influence them most”. Now, in 2016 there are more of these than ever before. The reality of the consumer journey these days is that they won’t buy based on having just seen your special offers, or having noticed a celebrity wearing your brand. Now they’ll only become your customer if you infuse yourself right into their consciousness on multiple touch points.
Customers are more empowered now than they ever have been before, which means retailers have spent the last 6 years catering to their needs and interests, whilst developing the tools and rationale to understand their customers better. Research has shown that a customer will visit a brand website on average 9.5 times before making a purchase, as well as chatting to friends and comparing you to your competition. ResponseTap and Econsultancy highlighted that only 12% of marketers rated themselves as ‘advanced’ at comprehending the customer journey, and that 35% of them see multiple touch-points as a hinderance to their understanding.


So what is the good news? Well, with the wealth of complicated tools and sophisticated algorithms we have at our disposal, the growing puzzle that is the CDJ can be de-coded easier. The CDJ is central to the customer’s experience of a brand, and if we can identify and closely study these influential touch points, we still stand a chance.



eCommerce Returns: Try a Lenient Policy

So, no matter what the time limit is on your returns policy, every now and then a customer will forget to send it back in time. But what about those who watch the clocks and calendars just in case? Let us propose hypothetically that you never had a returns time limit at all. “What is this nonsense?” I hear you ask? Well it’s not nonsense. Let us explain.

The Endowment Effect

Imagine there was no deadline at all. Those who normally forget would forget, and even the customers who mark their diaries to remind themselves to return, would instead put it in a back drawer. After all, what’s the rush? There’s no time limit. Eventually, most buyers would become attached to the product. That’s called the “endowment effect” and it’s very real. How many hideous shirts have you collected over the years that you would sooner give to charity 5 years later, than throw them out or sell them on? For whatever ridiculous reason, you’ve grown too fond of it.

The “Meh” Effect

This is exactly what it sounds like. Have you ever bought an item of clothing, that was alright but didn’t fit quite right and you’ve thought “Is it even worth me returning this? It’s not that small I could lose weight at some point.” Or whatever excuse you tell yourself not to take that brisk walk to the post office. That’s what we mean. No one is gonna give up their lunch break to go return a size too small pair of jeans. Without a deadline there’s a good chance that they’ll be “meh” about it forever.


And let’s consider the other benefits. There’s a forecast of higher sales, that’s for sure. When buyers see there aren’t a lot of rules involved with returns they’re far more likely to purchase. How is this a sustainable idea though? Well, you still have to look out for number one. Which means, if you did have a policy that was longer, you could still ask that tags were in tact and there were no worn soles on the shoes. If you’re a service, then make sure all the things gained as a result of your service are also revoked. Simple.


For more on this, head on over to Hubspot.

Categories and Filters: Know the Difference

product category example


Using filters where you should be using categories produces gigantic usability issues. First let’s distinguish between the two:


Categories – These are mutually exclusive and the user can only select one category at a time. For example, “dresses” over “tops”. Each category has it’s own unique page that has a set of filters for you to refine the type of dresses or tops you might want by colour or size for example. This is why they have to be mutually exclusive.


Filters – These are the “narrowing down” categories if you will. Filtering values are not mutually exclusive and therefore the user can combine a few of them to narrow down the product list.


When you mix up the two you create a few problems:


  • – You make users overlook the entire site selection of a broader product type
  • – You prevent users from combining product types to match purchasing preferences
  • – You pigeon hole users into over narrow category scopes


So when should you ‘Categorise’ and when should you ‘Filter’?


The trick is to consider the potential benefits of turning a given product type into a set of categories rather than filters. If product attributes are similar across different product types then the set of product types should be implemented as filters because there are no scoping benefits. That being said, if most of the product types have unique attributes, then you should consider if the product types should be implemented as a category scope in order to segregate unique filtering options within them.

Google Shopping: Recent Changes You Need to Be Aware Of

google shopping


Search Engine Watch has reported on some recent changes to Google Shopping and you need to know about them.


PLAs are getting more third-party traffic.

Google announced in 2014 that it was partnering with a number of retail and eCommerce sites, allowing them to show product listing ads on their web properties. Dubbed ‘Adsense for Shopping’, after a bit of initial buzz it pretty much died out. However, Merkle’s recent Digital Marketing Report has revealed a huge spike to Google’s Search Partners share of PLA traffic in the third quarter of 2015. What does that mean for you? Well, were you a retailer running campaigns in Q3/4 last year? If so then take a look at your metrics and see if you notice an increase in impressions YOY attributable to this.


Ranked PLAs for Key Searches

Since 2014, a new PLA ranking system has been tested on consumers. Now it’s out of beta!

So what’s new? Well, when someone types in a keyword with a modifier such as ‘best’ or ‘top’, they will provide a tiny grey number icon to rank items.

How exactly are they supposed to rank items? Google only displays the top-rated products to compete. As a user, it essentially means you won’t always be getting the top product and will basically be seeing who paid the most in advertising.

What does that mean to you? Check out your ratings and make sure your items are ranking high enough to be considered. Pull a search query report for your shopping campaigns to see how many times your products have turned up when someone has searched for ‘best’ or ‘top. Either way, it’s time to start caring about your reviews way more.

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Sebastian Paszek

Marketing manager

Controlling the chaos of the digital landscape, Sebastian is a multiplatform executive, project manager and photographer.