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Mobile trends and best practice

Rob Smith, Digital Director at Blueleaf shares his knowledge on mobile optimised websites. The mobile landscape is rapidly changing and maturing into a space where there’s a lot of potential revenue available for a mobile focused site that concentrates on simplicity and getting things done for the customer.

Simplicity

Keeping things simple is one of the keys to a good mobile experience. Not forcing people to zoom or to scroll horizontally makes mobile experiences much more slick, versus normal sites where you do a lot of zooming in and out on devices.

John Lewis do this well, with a very simple front screen to allow easy access to their products. In our opinion they could do a better job of reprioritising their store locator (see below) but the site is very simple and effective. They may be able to do more by using a simpler first level category structure as well.

You can see that search is front and centre so that people can just be directed straight to their need.

Reprioritisation of content

When looking at a site on a mobile, there’s a much higher chance that someone is in the context of being on the move as opposed to just sitting at home (although this is not always true of course). As a result, your content and customer journeys should be adjusted so that the right content is further up.

A good example of this is Argos’s mobile site, where they have put the store locator very high in terms of prominence as well as a stock checker. When on the move it’s much more likely that you’ll be using one of these functions, so wisely they do not make you dig for the information, putting it front and centre.

Super streamlined for speed

Mobile sites are often accessed at best on 3G connections and sometimes even less when you get out of cities or to smaller towns. As a result only the most important imagery and style need to be brought forwards on a mobile site to keep overall site speed and download size as fast and small as possible.

We can see a good example of this on the ASOS site where there is very little in the way of images on the screen other than some small images for navigation, a sale banner and the logo. This keeps speed very quick on mobile devices, even if the connection isn’t very good.

Lots of vertical scrolling is OK

As you can see on the left, an ASOS product listing page defaults to 12 to a screen and so has a lot of vertical scrolling involved to get to the products. This is OK on a mobile site – people expect to use their touch screens (generally) to scroll quickly through content and see things that catch their eye.

Again it should be noted that the page is very very simple with a focus on the product imagery above all else, and not the product information. In this case even the ‘refine by’ functionality is later on in the page to not clutter access to the products.

So, in summary, keep it simple, make sure the salient information is prioritised and don't be afraid to streamline the design. If you need any help with optimisimg your website for mobile devices, then contact Rob Smith at Blueleaf, rob@blue-leaf.co.uk or Adrian Lomas at Blueleaf, adrian@blue-leaf.co.uk on 01829 260 600.

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Are you embracing multichannel?

Bravo for Tesco! They have just launched trials of a new initiative involving augmented reality in store as well as on the web. Whilst sitting in their own homes, customers can hold up catalogues to a webcam which will then show them how a particular product will look in situ. Store-side, customers can scan a product which will then play a trailer on screen or allow them to browse a larger range of products. As margins are eroding and we are all in the endless quest to reduce costs, at Blueleaf, we think this is a fantastic initiative. It will hopefully reduce the number of product returns and reduce floor space whilst engaging the customer more and increasing loyalty. As this shows, multichannel isn't just about being present in the different channels, it is about integrating those channels to drive sales, increase customer engagement and reduce costs. What can you do to embrace multichannel?

If you need help with your multichannel strategy, contact Adrian Lomas adrian@blue-leaf.co.uk or Rob Smith rob@blue-leaf.co.uk at Blueleaf on 01829 260 600.

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Laura Ashley win two awards for their website

We are delighted for our client Laura Ashley, for winning two people's choice awards in Metrixlab's Website of the year Awards. Their chosen category was Housing and Interiors and they were awarded both 'Website of the Year' for the highest average score on content, navigation, design and recommendation likelihood, as well as 'Most Popular Website', given to the website with the highest number of votes. Thank you to everyone who voted for them and well done Laura Ashley!

Read about the other category winners here.

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Have you considered subscription?

Here at Blueleaf, we recently became Wine Angels, which is what you become when you join the Naked Wine subscription service. It's a new take on the wine club model where you pay a monthly fee and receive wine in return. Naked Wine, however, is different in so many ways in that it feels fresh and new. Firstly, your fee not only helps with cashflow but also enables Naked Wine to help small but excellent boutique wine makers, which means you get a high quality product at an amazing price. Secondly, you don't just get a random case of wine once a month. You can choose what you want, when you want, basing your choice on either the recommendations the site makes for you or on the the recommendations of the other 70,000 Wine Angels. Now, imagine if you could buy like this from other retailers. Clearly, this would only work for companies with a smaller customer base, as it requires a degree of man power, but it would be taking personalisation and multi-channel to the next level. Take as an example a fashion retailer, who could provide a personal stylist to recommend outfits via a monthly email based not only on previous sales but also on what they know about the customer. The customer feels special and therefore is much more likely to stay loyal and the retailer has improved cashflow, better stock control, improved customer retention and increased sales. It's a win-win!

If you need help with your ecommerce, then contact Adrian Lomas, adrian@blue-leaf.co.uk or Rob Smith, rob@blue-leaf.co.uk on 01829 260600.

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The Future of Retail - Forrester Report Summary

In June 2011, Demandware commissioned a Forrester report exploring how the modern consumer is evolving and how ready European and North American retailers are to engage with them. The report found that with the advent of mobile technology consumers are accessing brands from multiple touch points; no longer just in-store or via the call centre but also via social media and online. This has had far reaching implications for both the consumer and retailer. One of the key findings of the report showed that one single bad experience for the consumer in one channel has a much wider reach than previously, as not only is the consumer response immediate, but it is also massively amplified by social media and mobile technology across all channels. This as you can imagine has huge implications for the retailer and in response the retailer needs to have visibility across all channels to act quickly.

According to the findings, even though retailers are more prepared than expected, they don't have this visibility; the holy grail of the single customer view. The report explains, "barriers include everything from business models, technology, corporate incentives, and metrics to company culture and service policies." It comments that retailers need to avoid channel conflict by offering cross channel incentives and whilst retailers are investing heavily in multi-channel, they are not effectively integrating online, stores and mobile.

As a result, the report has found that not only are retailers not taking advantage of the huge potential in multi-channel, but they are also not meeting consumers mobile expectations. It suggests that retailers need to invest in an effective, agile multi-channel proposition to engage the modern consumer; retailers must move from channel-centric to consumer-centric commerce. "Businesses that ignore this evolution will be negatively impacted as they move forward'.

You can read the report in full here.

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Could you help us help Laura Ashley?

We are really delighted for one of our clients Laura Ashley who have been nominated for Website of the Year 2011 under the categories of: Best Housing & Interior Site: the voters are asked to judge the content, navigation and design of the website. In order to count the winners an average score of the reviews will be calculated. A minimum of 1000 votes is required to win the award for best website.

Most Popular Housing & Interior Site: the website with the highest amount of votes in a certain category will be elected as the most popular website.

Thank you for your help and support.

You can cast your vote here.

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From Tupperware parties to social commerce

A friend of mine has just set up her own business selling beautiful costume jewellery. The business model is based on social selling; you ask friends, family and those in your network to host soirees at their homes and they invite members of their social network to browse the products. It's not a new concept – Tupperware began it in the 60s – but it's still as popular as ever. If your closest friends tell you how fabulous a product is or how good you look in a piece of jewellery, you are much more likely to buy it. It's this principle that we now see working with social commerce. With the popularity of social networking sites and smartphones, it's easier than ever to recommend products to your friends or have them recommend a product to you. This is much more powerful than a recommendation from "everyman". With the relative ease with which you can attach a shopping portal to your social network page, social commerce is a channel you should be considering.

If you need help with selling through your social media, then contact Adrian Lomas, adrian@blue-leaf.co.uk or Rob Smith, rob@blue-leaf.co.uk on 01829 260600.

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It only takes 5 seconds

Have you ever landed on a web page, taken one look and hit the back button? Of course you have, we all have because we all make decisions and assumptions within 5 seconds of landing on a home page. If there is too much information, for example; if the photographs don't look professional; if it looks out of date, or simply if it isn't obvious what the company actually does. Our brains take all this in and within an incredibly short amount of time, we make the decision to drill deeper or bounce. It seems so obvious, but it stands to reason, therefore, that your landing page needs to be simple, engaging and concise. Make it obvious what you do and make it easy for people to find what they are looking for and you are sure to see an increase in conversion.

If you need help increasing conversions on your site, then call Blueleaf's Adrian Lomas, adrian@blue-leaf.co.uk or Rob Smith rob@blue-leaf.co.uk on 01829 260 600.

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Blueleaf continue to help Laura Ashley

It was fantastic to read in the Retail Week Knowledge Base this week that Laura Ashley's ecommerce offer continues to exceed expectations. The Knowledge Base, for those not au fait with it, is compiled and regularly updated by Retail Week. It is a synopsis of the top 50 UK retailers, detailing performance indicators. What is so brilliant is that it clearly shows the dramatic rise in online sales after Blueleaf's help. The report says, "the management challenge has been for overall home shopping sales to resume growing, with the e-commerce element very much leading the way. This has been effectively achieved, with online sales growing from £10.3m in 2007/08 to £22.1m in 2009/10 and £32.0m in 2010/11- some 12.5% of the group’s UK retail sales in that year. The rapid growth in online sales has continued over the first half of 2011/12 as noted below."

It goes on to say that during 2010/2011, online sales were up 45%. We are delighted for Laura Ashley to be performing so well in these tough times and rather proud of our involvement in helping them to achieve such fantastic results!

If you want equally fantastic returns from your ecommerce offer then call Adrian Lomas or Rob Smith on 01829 260 600 or email adrian@blue-leaf.co.uk or rob@blue-leaf.co.uk

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When online and offline worlds collide

Much excitement in the Jones household last week, as we needed to renew our home insurance. We'd received a renewal in the post from our existing insurer – mentioning no names, ohhh yesss – a quote of about £210, up 30% on last year, saying that it would automatically renew if they didn't hear from us. I have absolutely no brand loyalty when it comes to insurance, so I did the honourable thing and went straight on the excellent moneysupermarket.com.

Once logged in, it brought up last year's details (saving me the time of inputting them all again) and with a single click I had the most competitive quotes at my fingertips. Imagine my surprise when my existing insurer was shown at the top of the list (complete with annoying grinning bulldog) with a quote for exactly the same policy of £159. Even once I clicked through to the insurer's site, the price remained the same.

I called my insurer to query this disparity. The lacklustre 'Brian' at the call-centre tapped a few keys and eventually reported back that the best price he could offer for renewal was £189 and even had the gall to ask me if I wanted to pay for that there and then. I politely pointed out that by cancelling the current policy and buying it again through moneysupermarket.com I'd be saving £30 so why would I buy it from him?

Brian apologised (at least he'd been taught to do that in his call-centre training) and explained that the system wouldn't let him match the moneysupermarket.com price, as though that were a reasonable enough explanation.

And here lies the point. The web is a wonderful thing that is providing huge growth for millions of businesses, but if you really care about what your customers think, you must ensure your online experience matches your offline.

If you'd like help joining up the dots in your business, call Adrian Lomas or Rob Smith on 01829 260 600 or email adrian@blue-leaf.co.uk or rob@blue-leaf.co.uk

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