Category Archives: SEO

John Lewis Expands into European Market

More often than not, our clients ask us when working on e-commerce projects about selling to European and International markets. Obviously this seems like an attractive proposition when setting up on line as it expands your market over night from around 60million to 6 billion.

However John Lewis’s delayed response to this, may be a lesson for smaller companies. Immediate expansion into the international markets when opening an online store is not always the most sensible or feasible option. It can be fraught with obstacles to overcome, from an increased risk from fraudulent transactions to the complications surrounding taxation and postage to surrounding areas such as the states. As well as catering for multi-lingual content and having a strategy and budget in place for country specific SEO. Initially, continental consumers will not be able to purchase electrical products or larger items of furniture. Within the next 18 months, John Lewis will also consider launching foreign-language websites

It is also very interesting that they are now using their e-commerce site to test markets and weigh up if they are sizable enough to justify physical stores. Andrea O’Donnell commercial director has said… “To make a more significant investment, we need to be confident that the demand is worth it,”.

Here at Lucid we recommend having a clear and concise strategy from the outset, sticking to the markets you know and understand best. To begin with don’t bite off more than you can chew, for every product sold on line there is the potential for that product to be returned. Can your resources stretch to deal with all of the packaging and requirements, refunds and taxation issues that surround trading internationally. Once you have understood the local market and successfully traded in that market for some time, having created a strong and stable strategy then it might be time to look to international markets. Till then keep working on customer satisfaction and building that all important trust in your brand. If you do that the word will spread and your e-commerce business will grow organically.

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Lucid Team Attend ‘David Chaffey’ Seminar With Manchester Met Fashion Deparment

 

We are attending a Seminar this evening with the Manchester Metropolitan Fashion and Design Department whom we work very closely with in a number of key areas of the business.

This should be a great seminar for the freshest tips on how we can help our rapidly expanding client base within the e-commerce sector.

Over the past 10 years David has delivered Internet marketing training courses and completed Internet marketing consulting assignments for companies large and small in many countries.

He has also written a series of best-selling Internet marketing books and specialist E-consultancy best practice guides on E-marketing tactics like SEO and PPC.

Since 1994, when he was first hooked on the web, he has specialised in building his knowledge of Internet Marketing and business technology applications and sharing this knowledge with marketing professionals and students.

Really looking forward to this one….. should be great.

 

Lucid Design Agency – forges a way forward with a focus on Magento, SEO and Multi Channel

Here at ‘Lucid Design Agency’ we are preparing for a year of change, progression and improvement for 2011. As the ‘Lucid Design Agency’ new year begins we are making the move to the super strong Magento platform the platform behind brands such as Harvey Nichols, Links of London, North Face, Nespresso and many more High Street brands. We are going harder than ever before on SEO and developing our multi-channel offerings even further.

Expect to see some very strong offerings in the e-commerce arena, with Magento at the heart and if your planning on getting your site on the map, we have just added SEO to our list of services, something we don’t do without a lot of thought and consideration. So drop us a line at www.lucid-design.net and we will be more than happy assist your company with all of your SEO requirements.

In terms of multi-channel our Iphone and Android platform development is seeing a lot of interest from clients at the moment and we have some great projects to add to our portfolio in the coming months. We understand here at ‘Lucid’ as much as any other digital design agency should, that the only way forward and to keep up with what the competition is doing is multi-channel. Adding an Iphone click to buy app to your channel portfolio can give your audience the chance to browse and purchase on the move, whilst a cleverly thought out advice based application can drive scores of people to your business for more.

One very interesting project we are working on is a membership application, where by the conventional membership card is done away with and the mobile application takes over the job of displaying membership details. With a bit of thought and research the possibilities of what multi channel can do for your business are endless.

Lucid Design Agency

25 Things To Check Before and During the Holiday Shopping Season

1. Make sure there are no security warnings on checkout

Just one tiny SSL error can scare customers off. Make sure your checkout page is fully secure with no warnings in both Internet Explorer and Firefox.

2. Test your website with the 3 major web browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome)

Have you looked at your site in all 3 browsers? If not, make sure you do it now before your customers have a problem.

3. Monitor your internal search queries to improve the results

Keep a close eye on what customers are searching for on your site (you are logging this information, aren’t you?). Review it often, and adjust your search based on what people are finding, and more importantly, what they are not finding.

4. Have a holiday gift guide / page (optionally sorted by price and gender)

Make it easy for last minute (and us lazy) shoppers to find a gift on your site. “Gifts for her/him”, “Gifts under $50″, etc… are great ways to help customers decide on a gift.

5. Have a backup plan for real-time shipping and real-time payment gateway issues

What will you do if FedEx or UPS is down? What about if your payment gateway goes offline? Make sure you have a plan *and* can execute that plan quickly.

6. Make your returns and exchange policies clear and easily findable

7. Make it obvious that registering in order to checkout is optional

Don’t burden the customer by requiring them to check out. And if it’s optional, make sure this is clear as crystal.

8. Order status tracking link should be prominent

Customers shouldn’t have to hunt around to find the status of their order.

9. Clearly define shipping times and options

10. Have a list of shipping options and last date to order to arrive by Christmas

It’s very important to let customers know when they have to order by and which shipping option they must choose to get their gift in time. A late gift means they just became a one time shopper at your store.

11. Tweak your site to make it as fast as possible

Online shoppers are a fickle group. They don’t want to wait around. Ensure your site is blazing fast to avoid losing the sale.

12. Use upsell and cross-sell to push higher profit items

Get ‘em in the door with great deals, and then offer them upsell products that not only compliment their purchase, but pad your bottom line as well.

13. De-clutter your cart and checkout to avoid shopper confusion

Keep your cart process simple and streamlined. The goal is to close the sale, not entertain and distract the shopper.

14. Avoid heavy use of Flash for iPhone / iPad shoppers

This is the year of mobile (or at least the start of it) and those shoppers using an iPhone or iPad probably cannot view your flash only site.

15. Clearly mark out of stock and backordered items

Mark it both on the catalog page, and when the item is added to the cart. Timing is everything around this time of year.

16. Offer a sign up for your mailing list

Get their permission first, but make it enticing to sign up.

17. If you offer free shipping, tell the world!

Put it front and center. If there are restrictions, keep it simple so there’s no confusion.

18. Contact information should be easy to find

19. Top sellers and popular gift items should be prominently featured

20. Monitor Google Webmaster Tools to watch for errors and Malware warnings

Log into Google Webmaster Tools and make sure your settings are set to email you when Google detects malware. Also review your stats to find broken links, errors, etc…

21. Use Google’s ThinkHoliday website to see trends

Great site by Google to see what people are searching for this holiday season.

22. Monitor Twitter trends and use Twitter search to keep up with the latest info

If it’s current and/or important, you can bet it’s being discussed on Twitter.

23. Monitor declined transactions

… and follow up to save the sale.

24. Use social media for your store, but take a balanced approach

Unless you’re getting a large percentage of sales from Facebook, Twitter, and the rest of the social media sites, don’t focus too much of your time and effort here. If you do use these mediums, don’t just blast your promotions over and over. Interact, provide tips, useful links, and mix in your message. People will be more accepting, and may actually pay attention.

and finally:

25. If ain’t broke…

If what you have currently is working well for your store, don’t be tempted to try the latest fad, gimmicky marketing (*cough* Groupon), or chase a mythical dragon. Use solid marketing techniques, measure the results, and keep a watchful eye on the important parts of your online store. The rest will take care of itself.

Lucid focuses on a future in e-commerce


The futures bright, the futures online

As an agency we are getting busier and busier with creating e-commerce platforms, it is a huge growth area still for many businesses and is set to have doubled by 2012.

Recently we have been working on a project that was commissioned on behalf of a BBC Worldwide division company and the atmosphere here in the office has been buzzing around its launch set for the Christmas sales run up.

No longer is an e-commerce store a bolt onto to a high street store, that is given a 10p budget and developed over a weekend….Well at least it shouldn’t be. E-commerce sites are a serious component in the overall marketing and sales strategy of most big brands these days and if they aren’t, then companies should be asking themselves why not?

The art of e-commerce design is becoming more and more about creating a seamless transition from the physical to virtual store, giving the customer a real feel for the brand and what it is about.

Ways in which this might be done are to:

Video

Incorporate video into the site, interviews with staff about new products. Really beginning to cross over from physical to virtual. In a store you can ask a store assistant about a product, you cant do this on a website until customers have left reviews. Think about how this could be achieved through video on a site with a call to action click “Click here for one of our assistants to tell you more”.

Panoramic Photography

If a physical store exists, incorporate strong photography, possibly if the budget stretches panoramic photography of the store into the site and give it more depth and 3 dimensional character. So to often do you go on a stores website after visiting the store to find the website not only doesn’t live up to the shear scale and magnitude of this multi-million pound store, but the brand identity, values and follow through just isn’t there either.

Seamless

One example of this is Collette in Paris, having never visited the store, yet having always heard so much about its cult status I was eager to visit this summer when visiting Paris. But this was certainly not because of their website, granted if I wanted to see pictures of the store as I have done today, I could have just Googled it. The point though is that I didn’t and this is an important lesson to learn when thinking about customers and their behavior when visiting a website. If the information they want is not clearly marked out, easy to find and more importantly when they do get that what they want, then inevitably you will loose their interest.

Another example of the lack of seamless transition from physical to virtual is that of retail heavy weight ‘Harvey Nichols’. Their stores are no less than magnificent and the product and brand selection no less than the supreme, so why is it that their website hasn’t been redesigned for at least 5 years? A store group of this size, that must have spent in the £10s of millions on their physical stores must have a budget for a rethink and redesign of their web presence. The design is in the detail and with simple things like no ‘favicon’ (the little logo you see in your browser) added to the site, a page width fit for a screen half the width of today’s standards and thumbnail images of the stores that look like they where taken on a Nokia phone, this site just isn’t there.

It’s well known that Harvey Nichols expansion strategy wasn’t as successful as they had hoped and that coupled with a global recession probably hasn’t helped the development of their virtual presence either, but for a luxury goods retailer of this level none of those should really be an excuse. It’s time to move into the future of online retailing and quite frankly the fact that stores this big still have e-commerce presence like this, well……. it excites us! The opportunity for companies like ours to approach businesses and sit down and talk about how we can revolutionize their online presence is still huge and its exactly what we intend to keep doing.

If you like what you just read, here are some more important tips on what to do and what not to do with an e-commerce store:

1. Your website needs to be updated DAILY

Weekly or monthly updates are not enough if you want your website to reach its full potential. Even if you don’t have new products to add on a daily basis, you need to find a way to keep things happening so that people have a reason to come back time and time again. What about a daily special offer? A blog? Editors picks? Clearance stock? Coming soon products? Pre-orders? Be creative – the more you update your website the more your customers will keep coming back. It’s also worth noting that a by-product of these daily updates will be increased search engine rank. Update daily, and the ecommerce gods will smile on you.

2. Send out regular newsletters

You want to be sending out a customer newsletter at least once a week. What if you don’t have anything new to advertise? Do a mail out on a special offer, coming soon products, or editor’s picks. Sending out a regular newsletter serves two purposes:

  1. It gives you the chance to push special offers and new products, increasing your sales
  2. It raises brand awareness so that customers don’t forget about your website

Also, invest in a good email marketing service and get a high quality, well branded email template designed.

3. Make life easy for your customers

I could talk for hours about user experience, usability and clarity – but the bottom line is this: make life easy for your customers! Understand why they are visiting your ecommerce website – to find and buy products – and make sure they don’t have to think too much in order to do this. The top ecommerce websites all have simple, consistent navigation and excellent customer account facilities (to make repeat ordering simple). You might think that flash animation with music is cool, but trust me; it will only annoy your visitors. Also, have a telephone number in clear view at all times so that if someone does get stuck, they can pick up the phone and speak to a real person.

4. Stay ahead of the competition

Your website should always be evolving, adopting new technologies and moving with the times. This could involve reworking your site slightly over time, or every now and again giving the whole thing a complete redesign. Factor in these costs as part of your overall business strategy – they should not be seen as an unnecessary, unwelcome cost, but as necessity to running your online business. And be proactive as opposed to being reactive. What I mean by that is don’t wait until you’re left behind to start thinking about keeping ahead. Always be on the lookout for fresh ideas and always strive to be the best in your marketplace.

5. Get someone in to manage your site full time

If you run your website as a “sideline” to your main business then the revenue it generates will always be a “sideline” to your main stream of revenue. Successful ecommerce sites have dedicated staff to run them, on a full time basis. A lot of smaller businesses expect their websites to be run by an existing member of staff, on top of their usual duties. Investing in a new member of staff to manage your web strategy on a full time basis may seem like a substantial cost but if they get it right, it won’t take long for you to see the return on investment.

6. Image is everything

It’s cliché, I know. But if you’re serious about reaping the rewards of the global ecommerce market (which is set to double in sales by 2012) then you need to look the part. A homemade site with a cheap logo probably isn’t going to cut it. If you’re currently running a homemade or low-cost ecommerce solution, now might be the time to invest in a professional solution. Remember, a professional web designer understands how your visitors interact with your website and can be a wealth of knowledge when it comes to growing your online business. Choose a web design company carefully, make sure they have the skills to deliver, have a proven track record, and give good honest, genuine advice.

7. PR, PR, and more PR…

Remember that full time member of staff you hired to manage your website? Well, part of their job needs to be PR. In a world that seems to be consumed by SEO, the real value of some good PR seems to be overlooked. Get your site featured on blogs, news sites, take out select ad space with news sites (often taking out advertising space will be more likely to get you featured editorially), and don’t forget about off-line promotion too. Try to build a good rapport with blogs or news sites in your marketplace as these people can be very powerful allies. Finally, get your staff member trained up on pay-per-click advertising – it can be a very effective tool when used correctly.

8. Web analytics are your friend

If you don’t have Google Analytics installed on your site, head over there and get it installed now. You should constantly be monitoring your stats, where your visitors are coming from, and tracking conversions on sales. If you examine these things in depth on a regular basis you will quickly get an idea of what works and what doesn’t. If most people are exiting your site on a particular page (say the cart page) then ask yourself why? If your average page views are down or your bounce rate is up, have a think about what could be behind this. Also be sure to note when you send out newsletters or update your site, as you will be able to tie this information into your analytics trends.

9. SEO is not the answer to everything

It’s amazing how many small businesses think that “tricking” a search engine into ranking them on page 1 is the only way to generate a lot of business. The truth is that if you are relying on SEO to bring in the bulk of your business you are in a very bad position indeed. What happens if Google decides to drop you for some reason? It is not as uncommon as you might think. Putting the fate of your business in the hands of the Google overlords isn’t a viable business strategy. Good quality SEO can be very effective, but don’t rely on it entirely. Also, the good news is that if you’re doing all of the other things discussed in this article, you’re probably well on your way to achieving a good search engine position naturally.

10. Make sure your customer service is second to none

All of the above points deal with having a good website and marketing strategy, but your customer service needs to back these things up. Make sure you get your orders posted out promptly, and that you deal with any complaints or issues quickly and cheerfully. We may live in a world of pay-per-click and SEO but word of mouth is still the most effective kind of advertising there is. As the saying goes, “a happy customer will tell their friends; an unhappy customer will tell anyone who will listen.” Wise words…