Posted on | April 17, 2013 | Comments Off
My name is Axel Hagenauer. I am sixteen years old and I come from Austria. In Austria I am working at Kika/Leiner, which is one of the leading furniture retailers in Europe. As part of a three-year apprenticeship, trainees are exposed to all relevant departments for a period of 2-3 months each. Relevant departments include Purchase, Sales, Merchandising, Accounting and Marketing. By this teaching principle a broad exposure and a general overview of the business is guaranteed.
I decided to do an internship abroad with ICO3 because I wanted to develop myself, especially in the area of marketing. Also I wanted to improve my English skills and learn about the English culture. The company ICO3 has welcomed me warmly and taught me a lot.
My responsibilities were:
- Conducting research about ICO3 and their responsibilities
- Translating product descriptions (English to German)
- Assist with marketing research (Gathering information on products etc.)
I think it was definitely a great experience for me and I would recommend ICO3 to everyone as a great place to work
I wish ICO3 and their partners good luck for the future!
Posted on | April 16, 2013 | Comments Off
- To review and improve our photographic content – in particular our 360 degree offerings
- To look again at fulfilment centre options as many companies now provide very easy in and out terms on fulfilment
- To look at social research methodologies relating to website usability
- To consider the impact on International and Cross Border sales and in particular to look at companies who specialise in shipping and fulfilling to these countries
Posted on | April 3, 2013 | Comments Off
I am a social researcher by background, and I believe in the power of knowledge. I don’t believe there is any point in running an E Commerce store, Ebay operation or Amazon operation unless you know what is going on. This starts with having a good handle on what you are selling, both individually and within categories, sub categories and across brands. You need to know what products, categories and brands are on the up and which ones are fading. Then you need to know about your customers – both the ones you have and the ones you could potentially acquire. You already know something about the ones you have – after all they have bought something. But, in the social research game you cannot make any kind of profile unless you know more about their socio economic status (age, income, education, class) and even more about their social attitudes, and ultimately what drives their boat in terms of buying behaviour.
However, the trouble with online is you never see your customer, so it’s hard to profile them. In the high street you at least know your customers by the way they dress, the way they speak and the direct and indirect feedback on your stock just in the day to day social activity in store; online, it’s all anonymous. Apart from a single keyword, you have no idea what the customer wants, why they might have been disappointed or pleased or how a product fits in with their life.
You also can’t ask your customer too much about their background without running the risk of losing a sale. You could ask them their sex, place of birth, reasons for purchase, income and life aspirations, but you’ll probably lose the sale. You could ask these questions later using a post purchase survey – but after sales questionnaires are notoriously hard to get even moderately decent response rates. We ask all shoppers to review their purchase and offer lucrative prizes, but only a very small percentage bother, and when they do this is normally to complain.
This makes any kind of customer profiling and research online expensive. To make it accurate is difficult. For example, getting a decent response rate above 60% on a randomly selected group of shoppers can only be done with telephone or face to face interviews – email questionnaires will only produce response rates above 5% if you’re lucky. I recently saw a research company at Internet Retailing last month and asked about fees: just to review one E Commerce store and provide feedback from a randomly selected group of potential customers cost in excess of £10,000.
Yet despite being expensive, unreliable and difficult to attain, knowledge is king. We have five key ways of acquiring knowledge at ICO3, and these are:
1) Use Google Analytics to death and use everything it has to offer you on keyword conversions, trends and time series analysis of different dates. If you get a drop in sales, for example, Google will quickly show you what keywords are dropping and increasing
2) Use your own web server statistics more effectively. These provide invaluable information about the customer and the effectiveness of the website . We can, for example, watch a customer land from Google with a keyword and then look at various products, conduct searches and browse categories right to the point of exit. On new sites this can be valuable, not only for testing, but also for getting an idea of how a customer with an idea then interacts with the business proposition. So for example, someone looking for plastic wallets for stamps will land on our plastic wallet website, we will watch them trying out several different quantity/price combinations, check the delivery page, add some products to cart, check out bespoke plastic wallet page and then exit.
3) Use Adwords, Ebay and Amazon to test market new products. To get your own customers can often take several months of painstaking SEO so you need to know whether something is sellable by buying customers either through commission (on Ebay and Amazon) or by paying the the visitors.
4) Use Google Keywords to assess trends in keywords, and browse keyword alternatives to build up a profile of how the customer is thinking. For example, you might type in plastic wallets into Google’s keyword tool and from that you will see that keyword, all the alternative keywords and all the main specific uses of that keyword. In the end you have a really good idea of how that stamp collector group are thinking.
5) Use competitive analysis. Most competitor sites by default tell you about their customers: the branding, the popular products, the blogs, the social media and the related products all give away valuable hints about how they feel the customer is working. We keep an eye on as many competitors as possible and use that information to help build the profile.
Posted on | October 9, 2012 | Comments Off
One of the most valuable aspects of our E Commerce model is the ability to number crunch our own data to discover trends and make improvements to Sales. We use a range of qualitative and quantitative data to do this – some of which can be found in Google Analytics but most of which is gleaned from our E Commerce system.
For example, at ICO3 we have a concept of Gold, Silver and Bronze products for each of our partnerships to help us identify three sorts of products.
GOLD PRODUCTS: These are products with the highest conversion rates in the store and our aim with these are to send as many visitors to them as possible. We do this using home page links, category links and other links such as suggested products. We might also run online marketing campaigns which land visitors directly to these products.
SILVER PRODUCTS: These are products with the highest number of visitors but with a poor conversion rate. The aim with these products are to improve photography, creative writing and to look at how much value for money the product offers to the end consumer.
BRONZE PRODUCTS: These are products coming into season or new niche products which should sell well.
By categorising products in this way we can focus our creative and online marketing efforts in the right areas and therefore maximise the potential of each store inventory.
Posted on | January 18, 2012 | Comments Off
One of the key components we cover during an E Commerce review with our partners is a competitive analysis of other websites, other products, other newsletters, other blogs, SEO activity and even activity on other social media being posted around their store.
There is a whole heap of information that can be gleaned from competitors:
- Home page campaigns give us a great insight into what can be pushed at any moment in time.
- Popular product boxes (if they are true) tell us valuable information about top sellers
- Newsletters give us some great content and therefore help to refine and develop the E Commerce Calendar
- Facebook pages help us understand the way they use their brand
- The way the site is categorised helps us to check if certain popular categories have been missed
But is this information reliable – and is competitive analysis in some way unethical?
In terms of reliability, a lot can be said from the professional appearance of the store. A badly designed, badly executed store is more likely to be showing duff content – Easter campaigns being run at Christmas for example. Integrated campaigns – where the home page matches a newsletter and social media messages on the other hand can be said to be very reliable. For most of our stores we aim to track our competitors newsletters for over a year – so we can see what they were running last year a few months in advance so we can run similar campaigns. In doing this we have noticed two or three that have run EXACTLY the same campaign and newsletter two years on the trot….
So is it unethical? Are we conducting some kind of content or product copyright theft? Well given we would normally look at five or six competitors we think not – as our stores are altered as a result of a proper appraisal of all the competition rather than just nicking someone else’s ideas. And even then what in E Commerce is unique anyway. Can anyone really say they own a BOGOF campaign or a 20% off sale?
Combined with a good analysis of Google Searches and using other product sales and search data competitive analysis is extremely valuable.
Posted on | January 12, 2012 | Comments Off
A wide range of articles about on-line Chistmas Sales in the UK have started to emerge from various sources.
Generally online sales were up 18.5% over Christmas compared to last Christmas (BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor) with the last week before Christmas being particularly “dazzling”. Key growth areas were food and clothing and footwear. The use of deals and voucher coupons in particular seemed to be pretty important. MetaPack reinforce these figures and go further showing a 30% year on year increase with the last week before Christmas going into Frenzy with double the amount of sales to last year in that last crucial week. This perhaps indicates that shoppers now have more faith in delivery services leading up to Christmas – and also perhaps becaue a lot of online stores now operate pre Christmas sales to boost sales once delivery prospects look bleak. Boxing day was the busiest ever according to Experian Hitwise.
Marks and Spencers – already the largest and most successful UK online venture – have announced a 22% increase in direct on-line sales during Christmas 2012 . This was largely through an extension of their next day delivery deadline and the introduction of their Christmas Food to Order service on-line, which contributed to a 12% increase in orders. John Leiws also had a record breaking year with sales close to 600 million pounds.
Food ordering at Christmas is clearly a rapidly growing market – ICO3 partner Simply Cornish Hampers enjoyed a 400% increase in sales from last year and will no doubt continue to grow next Christmas. In similar statistics Sainbury’s announced that its online Grocery store sales were up by a fifth – to reach new record highs. Waitrose, part of John Lewis, also announced large increases in online sales – with wine sales particularly strong.
Multi channel selling and mobile phone usage in particular continues to increase and become very significant. According to consumer research specialist Intersperience, 30% used their mobiles to carry out price checks and review products, with 1 in 5 consumers doing it there and then in stores to check how much cheaper they could buy the products online. Even more cheekily 20% of them actually bought the goods there and then in store! This Store to Web buying behaviour is increasingly being embraced by more ambitious online stores who offer discounts or incentives to buy online while in store and will I think be a far more prominent feature of high street online selling next year. Already major high street stores are offering free WIFI access to customers to use while they shop and we have heard that the new John Lewis store in Exeter will feature many innovative store to web incentives. A key peak in mobile phone usage came on Christmas day and boxing day according to Adfonic – not surprising perhaps that Happy Christmas shoppers were using their new smart phones for the first time – but I think it is more than this. Other figures, for example, released by John Lewis showed a huge surge in shopping for gadgets on Boxing Day.
Kindles sales were huge over Christmas and were this years must have gadget. 1.2 million Kindles were given as gifts this year according to a YouGov survey. That said more than half a million people received IPADS as a gift
Finally the Logan Tod & Co’s 6th annual Online Future Shopping Index predicts that next Christmas online shoppers will spend 18% to 22% more than they did in 2011.
Ill publish more statistics as and when I find them.
Posted on | June 21, 2011 | Comments Off
It is important that the user can search easily for products and that the returned results are highly successful. Many E Commerce sites now use Google Site Search. We are experimenting with this for some of our partner sites.
Trust and Security
Graphics and Icons which clearly show how trustworthy the site is and what efforts have been made to make the site secure are very important.
The user can clearly see where they are in the category structures and can see a breadcrumb to navigate back down all the various levels.
Previously viewed item.
Highly visible delivery options
Posted on | May 9, 2011 | Comments Off
More than 45 people attended our E Commerce launch event at the Tamar Science Park, Plymouth last Friday.
Amongst the guest list were Geoffrey Cox, MP for Torridge and West Devon, Simon Chamberlain of Ultimate Succession and several other representatives from GAIN, Lloyds Bank, the University of Plymouth and Tamar Science Park.
We were also able to invite all our E Commerce Partners including The Pet Express from Plymouth, Birdkids from Fowey in Cornwall, The Arundell Arms from Lifton in Devon, Coast solutions from Plymouth and Cut Plastic Sheeting from Ivybridge, Devon.
We received a very positive response to all the speakers and about the professionalism of the event. We will
be holding more E Commerce partner events in the near future.
Posted on | April 9, 2011 | Comments Off
Cornwall is one of those counties that from a retail point of view presents many challenges. There are no obvious large retail centres – at least in the way that Plymouth, Exeter and Bristol have large centres – so there is no great shopping “draw” to the county. Also many of the stores suffer from the huge seasonal variation in visitor numbers to Cornwall, with more than 5 million visitor trips to the country in summer substantially adding its permanent population of 500,000. In some towns like Newquay the increase in numbers during the summer months is astonishing – as high as 31 times higher than the normal population (http://db.cornwall.gov.uk/ltp/marchannex2/chapter_57.html)
A good E Commerce Proposition for local Cornish retail stores provides them with an opportunity to compete on an equal footing with any other retail store in the country and provides better stability when the summer visitors have left. With the current national standard of delivery being “Next Day” all retail stores in Cornwall are able to provide this using most Courier companies at very similar prices to outlets in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. E Commerce can also help focus shops on less “short term” wins and more longer term wins: knowing that their Stock does not have to sell by the end of September because they can sell it through their website, Amazon and Ebay is a huge confidence boost to owners who might worry about over investing at the beginning of the season.
Posted on | April 4, 2011 | Comments Off
ICO3 has a business plan to take on 50 E Commerce partners in the next four years – thats one a month. We are plannig to recruit from each sector and pick the best possible entrepreneurs and store from each sector. This sort of vision requires a great deal of planning. If you were to become a partner of ICO3 – or even if you are just planning your own online busines, here are some of the things you will need to think about:
24 MONTH BUSINESS PLAN: If you have a business plan for the online sales it is useful for us to see it. If you don’t have one we can discuss an outline business plan showing key dates such as expected or needed revenue streams, break even point and other things.
PRODUCT ITEMS: We need any CDS, PHOTOS, PICTURES, BROCHURES, WEBSITE LINKS you might have for any of the products you intend to sell – The more the better.
SECURITY INFORMATION: Any user names and passwords you might have – or information about where we might be able to get them from. At the very least we will need your Ebay and PayPal user name and passwords (Ebay to start listing; Paypal to start integration with the website). With Ebay we normally also need to resolve further security checks to confirm our identity.
RELEVANT CONTACTS: Names of people you might need for us to talk to. A brief organogram of the business so we can see who is who in terms of who will be involved in the project.keep looking »