A recent article from eMarketer revealed that experts are predicting record high online sales in Denmark this holiday season. And apparently not just by a little. Estimates from Dansk E-handelsanalyse predict that the increase compared to 2012 will be 33%, potentially bringing holiday eCommerce sale totals up DKK1.2 billion.
The survey conducted concluded that the more common ’Christmas presents categories’ include children’s toys, jewelry, clothes, cosmetics, and digital entertainment. In fact, one in every four online shoppers said they expect to purchase 60-80% of their Christmas gifts online this year.
Needless to say, this is sure to make it a busy time for many Zmags clients. So what can Zmags clients expect? If the predictions are correct, they can arguably expect more traffic to their digital catalogs and hopefully, a noticeable increase in revenue through their eCommerce enabled publications.
So, are Zmags customers ready to provide a great experience for the consumers and are they ready to benefit from this increase in traffic? We sincerely believe they are, here are a couple reasons why:
Zmags online catalogs have proven to provide a much higher engagement time per reader than a normal eCommerce website and up to 5 times as many page views.
When we are purchasing gifts for family and friends, we are more likely seek inspiration to find that special gift. The nature of Zmags online catalogs gives the reader a curated story and experience that is a perfect environment for this process.
Zmags online catalogs provide a consistent cross-channel experience.
This corresponds very well with the noticeable increase in eCommerce sales from tablet and mobile device. (23%, according to data from IMRG and Capgemini).
It is not hard to imagine that during the busy holiday season many shoppers are likely to do some of their Christmas shopping while commuting or on the couch in the evening using either a tablet or smartphone, or both.
Many Danish retailers have already embraced the holiday season and have put out their holiday catalogs. Companies such as Magasin, Bilka, Imerco and Matas show great examples of digital catalogs that connect with their consumers. It makes their shopping experience inspirational, efficient and, more importantly, joyful.
As was expected, the total online sales on Black Friday once again toppled the $1 billion mark at $1.198 billion. This number represented a 15% increase, according to comScore , from Black Friday online sales in 2012.
Additionally, a new day is emerging in the e-commerce calendar: Thankful Thursday. Thanksgiving Day, the holiday around which Black Friday and Cyber Monday were created, is actually the fastest growing online shopping day in the past five years. Shopping online on Thanksgiving presents none of the logistical problems that in-store shopping does, nor are there any lines. It makes sense that as people are relaxing with their families getting ready for the turkey, they are breaking out the tablets, laptops, and smartphones, and getting a jump on great deals.
For Cyber Monday, USA Today posted an article late Monday night as numbers were being reported. Depending on the time when data was pulled, overall sales were seen to be up between 17 and 20 percent from last year.
The strong numbers posted on both shopping days can be attributed in large part to the rise of mobile. Black Friday saw mobile traffic account for 39.7 percent, which is a 34 percent increase from the same day in 2012. These metrics come from a report from Gigaom aptly titled “Black Friday shopping by the numbers: Mobile-optimized sites win”. All significant metrics related to sales were also up from 2012.
USA Today’s reporting on Cyber Monday stated that 29.4 percent of online traffic came from mobile devices, representing a 61 percent jump from last year. The same data suggested that “shoppers used smartphones to browse but were more likely to make purchases on a tablet.”
Cyber Monday has already stretched into “Cyber Week”, as many deals did not end with Monday. Where will it end? Deal-seeking online shoppers will be active throughout the month of December, preferring sites that are engaging and user-friendly across multiple devices. The increase of online shopping, specifically the use of mobile devices to shop and research, shouldn’t be alarming. Zmags’ solutions are designed to help marketers and retailers engage with deal-seeking shoppers during these high-volume periods.
Automation, and not just marketing automation, has evolved rapidly over the last 5 years, and has changed our way of living. It’s transformed our way of thinking, the way we make decisions, and how we interact with others on a day-to-day basis.
In the business world, it has allowed us to be more responsive, make quicker and more efficient decisions, as well as personalize each experience for our clients. Businesses are consuming information, analyzing data and acting on that analysis faster and faster than ever before. But with the ability to automate so many things, it’s easy to lose sight of some of the finer details that really enhance the user experience.
Let’s take digital catalogs for example. Some software solutions that allow you to take a print version of your catalog and make it digital – such as Zmags Commerce – make it easy to create one publication for all digital channels. However, how those publications render on certain devices can create inconsistent experiences. With the consistent rise in use of mobile and tablet devices to shop, it’s critical that you tailor your publications to each device accordingly.
Since mobile devices have a much smaller screen area than the majority of desktop and tablet screens, the design and layout of a digital catalog on a mobile device is something many companies need to take into consideration.
Designs and layouts will vary depending on your product/service, your branding guidelines, and the story you are trying to tell within your publication. Regardless of your unique brand story, though, there are three actions anyone in any industry can take to enhance the user experience when creating digital catalogs for mobile.
1. Limit the Number of Products You Display to 3 or 4 Per Page
If your print catalog features 10 to 15 products per page, it is going to be very problematic for the user to see those products and shop. Even when you zoom in, it can still be challenging to see them and get a good feel for what they really look like. By limiting the number of products you place on a page, you allow the user to see them more clearly.
For example, this is especially beneficial in instances where there are a few products on model (shirt, pants, shoes) that when tapped, open up a product window. You will not have to worry about the user tapping on the wrong product bringing up the wrong window time and time again – they will most likely become frustrated and it could leave a sour taste with the overall experience.
2. Remove Small Text From the Page
Reading small text, such as a product description, on a desktop version of your catalog can prove to be difficult for many. Translate that over to a mobile device and it makes it that much more difficult to read. Now we’re not suggesting you remove all text in general – what we are suggesting is to keep the text on the page, but shorten the sentences or descriptions you have to 2-3 word phrases instead.
This will allow you to still tell your brands story, while making it easier for the user to read the words on each page. You could even use this on the desktop and tablet versions of your digital catalog as well. It can give you the ability to create a visual story which (depending on your product) can be more impactful.
3. Create Unique Calls to Action
You’ve changed the layout of your digital catalog by lowering the number of products you have per page and you’ve updated the text in your catalog as well. Now, you need to let your users know what to do. Creating a unique call to action is the best way to let your users know what action they should take within the catalog.
Some Zmags clients use plus signs, others use targets, and some even use smaller versions (or variations) of their logo. It all really depends on your branding guidelines and what fits best on each page. One thing to keep in mind is to be cognizant of how many you are putting on a page – too many, and it can take away from the overall look and feel of the catalog while creating confusion, not clarity, as to what to do.
While having your digital catalogs render a specific way across multiple channels is a nice automation, it is still important to take the design element into consideration. As automation and personalization continue to become more and more of an essential part of your digital catalog strategy, don’t allow the user experience to suffer – create consistent experiences across all channels that will keep your users coming back for more.
Are you an online retailer? Do you have a desire to publish exciting content in conjunction with your product line? If you’re not familiar with the capabilities of a high quality digital catalog, such as those enabled by Zmags, here is a primer of what you can accomplish in today’s e-commerce landscape. Hint: it’s more than a print catalog converted into PDFs…
1. Editorial and eCommerce Are On the Same Page
Traditional e-commerce layouts consist of clickable product thumbnails set against a white or plain background. Such platforms might have an editorial spread or photo gallery, but those would be distinct and separate from the product pages. Digital Catalogs allow for a blend of both: editorial layouts and themed spreads. The individual products placed within are clickable for more information and add-to-cart functionality.
The convergence of content and commerce mentioned above is made possible by plugins and integrations from different platforms. Marketers that have an eCommerce platform don’t need to face the tough decision of overhauling their operation just to create engaging content. Plug-ins allow for publications to be embedded into different sites and channels, and plug-ins allow for publications to be synced with eCommerce infrastructures. This integration makes it easier on the publisher in that:
All tools from different platforms are on one dashboard
Content creators don’t need to manage e-commerce initiatives or infrastructure
Inventory and pricing can feed in automatically
Content can be edited on the fly based on what’s selling and what’s not selling
3. Content Sized to the User’s Liking
An issue that digital retailers often stumble over is “how much information is enough? How much information is too much?” The desire to at once keep it simple but also deliver every selling point can feel irreconcilable.
Expandable content in digital catalogs addresses that problem. Within a digital catalog, a two-page spread can feature images prominently with little text. But, should the user want to learn more, he/she can click on any product or image within the spread and bring up a lightbox that offers extensive information in addition to shopping features. Expandable content gives power and choice to the user. This feature allows users to shop entire looks, but also explore individual products in vivid detail, therefore experiencing the brand and merchandise in ways that will inspire purchases. Essentially, the retailer gets to paint a pretty picture AND tell a great story.
When you’re delivering content on a channel users are already comfortable on, the users are more likely to linger and shop around. That’s what social integration accomplishes. Digital catalogs can be embedded on social media channels, so that the user never needs to leave Facebook or another network to view that content. Catalogs can even be integrated with social functionality such as commenting, seeing what friends like, and sharing pages and products.
5. Every Device. No Problem.
Today’s online shopper sees each device as only part of the usage matrix – he/she will rotate between laptop, tablet, and mobile with great frequency. As such, the best shopping experiences will address that multi-faceted shopping approach. Digital catalogs can be viewed on any device, addressing the following:
Consistent Brand Experience – when a shopper begins shopping on laptop and later wants to purchase on tablet, there will be no drop-off or disparities in the two shopping experiences.
Expandable content – Mobile users can move through pages at their own pace, instead of being inundated with text that becomes microscopic.
On The Go vs. On the Couch – Mobile users want information and products quickly, while tablet users want a more engaging visit. Catalogs can offer content for both at the same time.
The above points in the Digital Catalog Primer are not five completely separate features, but different factors stemming from the same principle of creating an engaging experience for a savvy user. These capabilities are, in fact, all connected. Integration allows for content and commerce to blend seamlessly, and exist on social channels and multiple devices with a number of engaging features. If you’d like to learn more about digital catalogs and what you can accomplish, send Zmags a note to get started.
Once November hits, there are a few things that we can bank on: the weather gets colder, the days get shorter, and the buzz starts growing around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Maybe that last one is more for retailers and marketers, but the reach of these commerce-fueled holidays is expanding at such a rate that it would be hard for anyone to ignore them in the coming weeks.
More specifically for e-commerce, sales on Cyber Monday (to no one’s surprise) are expected to hit record highs, with one projection from Business 2 Community totaling around $1.675 billion for that day alone. B2C credits the rise of mobile and tablets – and the subsequent push by brands to be accessible on all devices – for this increase in total sales. Everyone is an online shopper now, not just the person sitting at their laptop or desktop at home.
As Business 2 Community simply puts it “So more potential shoppers equals more possible sales. More possible sales means more total dollars spent.”
Is Your Brand Well Positioned for Shopping Season?
Opportunity abounds for online retailers and marketers during this heightened purchasing period, but success will only come to those who take the right steps with their digital content.
Digital content like a catalog or shoppable lookbook can be befitting to the shopper as well as the searcher. Yes, there is a difference. It is so important to cater to both behaviors during this intensified buying time – online customers come in many shapes, sizes, and behavior paths, so the better coverage a site has for a variety of user experiences, the better that site will perform.
Another key step in being best prepared for this short, powerful buying time is switching out content on the fly. If after one day you see a particular product or editorial spread is yielding extraordinary returns, while another page is getting breezed right over, it is important to adjust your content accordingly to better suit your users’ needs and interests. A platform like Zmags lets marketers and retailers make changes that can be live in a few minutes – ensuring that the right content and products get in front of the right eyes.
Multi-channel deployment and rapid content editing are just two ways retailers and marketers will yield the “more possible sales” alluded to by B2C. Will all your e-commerce initiatives be in place by Thanksgiving week? Contact us immediately for some last minute help.
As the Zmags blog has mentioned before, plug-ins are becoming a way of the future. Applications of all kinds are learning to play nice with everything else to ensure seamless experiences. Google has an easy-to-install toolbar in Firefox and WordPress has an easy plugin for Social Media, just to name a few examples. The benefit to having these plugins is to bring together a variety of functions into one environment. This allows for the end user’s experience to be completely optimized and as streamlined as possible.
Zmags recognized this need with their SaaS platform as well. We released our first plugin for Demandware and Magento earlier this year and have just recently rolled out one for Hybris. The Zmags platform lends itself to an ideal shopping experience inside a customer’s digital catalog or lookbook. Instead of reinventing the wheel of eCommerce, the next logical step was to develop plugins that eased the pain points of integration and allowed for a seamless experience between two existing platforms. Customers like Lucky Brand Jeans, Mark Ecko and The North Face have been working with Zmags to provide and immersive shopping experience within their digital publications.
Lucky Brand Jeans is a prime example of a major brand utilizing the Demandware Plugin for ease of use and integration. They recently released their Holiday Gift Guide which showcases some of their most popular items for the upcoming season with a seamless shopping experience that allows a user to shop the items while perusing through the experience. This is done through the help of the Zmags Platform and the Demandware Plugin. The Plugin allows for the already-created shopping experience to be pulled into the Zmag via the use of quickviews. The experience is also optimized on all platforms including web, tablet, mobile and Facebook.
I wanted to start this post with a big thank you for everyone who stopped by at the booth at JUMP this week! All the team at Zmags had a great day meeting with some of the leading marketers, ecommerce, and multi-channel executives who attended the main event at the Festival of Marketing.
This was our 2nd year in attendance, the event continues to grow in popularity, and draw in people from all over the world.
I was also joined on a packed-out panel discussion by executives from Royal Sun Alliance, EE, and Exact Target, another thank you for all those who attended and to Branwell Johnson, Editor at Marketing Week for chairing the panel and keeping us all in check. This was a superb 30 minutes with questions from the audience about the lack of focus on customer retention, the use of gamification in improving CX, and how to get the whole of your business focused on improving CX.
Earlier in the month, Econsultancy published an article on mobile commerce as part of their Mobile Commerce Compendium, and two stats located within were particularly telling:
Stat Number 1, on Growth: 23% of all ecommerce sales were completed through mobile devices in Q2 2013.
Stat Number 2, on Opportunity: 51% of smartphone owners hadn’t made a purchase using their smartphone in the previous six months.
The mobile sales percentage of 23% is up from 11.6% in 2012. Clearly, with better, faster devices and operating systems, consumers are feeling far less tethered to their laptops and tablets when it comes to making purchases. In addition, it’s becoming increasingly easier to purchase from mobile with apps and platforms that link to credit cards directly, avoiding the headache of typing 20 digits of credit card information into a tiny phone keyboard.
As Econsultancy points out, the fact that half of all smartphone users hadn’t made a purchase on their devices indicates that mobile commerce is far from hitting a plateau. Opportunity abounds for marketers and retailers to engage that “other half” and drive that percentage lower and lower.
So mobile commerce is growing rapidly, and there’s opportunity to engage many more consumers…what’s the problem?
Formatting and design for mobile remain tough nuts to crack – but the need is greater than ever to have an effective mobile presence in e-commerce, as the evidence suggests of the present and projects for the near future. Even the initial decision of whether to create an app, a mobile-responsive site, or both, can be difficult. As for the best mobile experience, it would seem that there is no right or wrong answer, but a “sweet spot” of how much content can be compartmentalized into the mobile format in order to be enjoyable and not overwhelming.
Mobile should be part of a greater plan that spans several devices and channels without any drop off in design or user experience. One experience that accomplishes that is the digital catalog, which can exist consistently across all devices, and re-configures automatically for optimal viewing from laptop to tablet to mobile. A digital catalog has a chance to perform better than the sales averages for mobile commerce listed above, because a digital catalog is designed strictly for shopping and e-commerce, as opposed to a mobile version of a site, in which ecommerce is simply one of several components.
Smartphone users are constantly on-the-go, but mobile commerce is not going anywhere. It will grow and change and adapt, much like the digital landscape continues to on a much greater scale. It is important to take trends like this to heart and act fast on them, in order to connect with consumers over a format and device that they are relying on at an increasing rate.
Perfect fall evening, perfect roof deck view of the Boston skyline, and the best group of Zmags customers and prospects that an expert forum could ask for. On September 19th, 2013 Zmags hosted it’s first Expert Forum – and it was a huge hit! So much so that the plan will be to continue these forums in other locations for customers everywhere to be able to participate in.
We invited our New England area customers and prospects to join us for a part strategic working session / part cocktail hour with our agency partner Kreber. Turnout was fantastic and about 40 attendees gathered to learn more from Kreber and socialize with other Zmags customers. Attendees learned some of the do’s and don’ts when it comes to a digital campaign and saw many inspirational examples like Dicks Sporting Goods, Lenovo and The North Face.
Jeremy Gustafson, SVP-Retail & Digital Strategy at Kreber, led the strategy session with a presentation focused on the shift to digital from print and the important best practices for all types of brands to follow. Some of the key things touched upon in the session:
Importance of Omni Channel - understanding that consumers are visiting brands from all different devices today. Materials need to be optimized for all screen sizes
Take Advantage of the Depth – in the print world its so important to get as much content on the page as possible to give a user everything they need. With digital, its important to offer an experience that allows for deeper exploration, such as lightbox use, internal/external links, interaction and animation
After the session, which lasted a little over an hour, the group headed up to the OpenView Venture Partners roof deck for cocktails and appetizers to continue the discussion. We all enjoyed snacks and drinks into the evening while mingling and discussing different digital approaches and uses of the Zmags platform.
The purpose of the Expert Forum was to get customers together and offer them insight and strategy for their digital plans. Instead of just listening to ourselves talk, we thought bringing in the experts would make the most sense. Kreber has been working with the Zmags Platform for over five years while executing robust marketing plans for major brands. The content was intended to help customers and prospects enhance and improve their digital campaigns. Everyone left a little more knowledgeable on the ever-growing digital space and with a few great Instagram shots of the Boston skyline.
Now in its fourth successful year, JUMP helps marketers like you embrace and profit from today’s multi-channel, multi-screen, multi-faceted world. It’s all about delivering more creative, more intimate and more consistent campaigns based on data and insight from every channel and touchpoint.
Naturally, this focus on the joined up customer experience makes the event a great fit for Zmags. In addition to our sponsorship, we will have a booth, and I personally will be taking part in a panel discussion called “Show me the money – the business case for better customer experience”. This will take place on the ‘ENGAGE’ track at 14.20-14.50 and involves other executives from EE, ExactTarget, and the RSA, and should leave those attending with inspiration based around the following key points:
• Why it is more important than ever before to forge a connection between ROI and customer experience
• Understanding the risk of failing to forge the connection
• Key benchmarks and strategies for forming a robust strategy
• Case study examples
Here at Zmags we carefully select the events that focus on educating marketers, and JUMP provided the right platform last year to have quality discussions and demonstrations at the booth detailing how Zmags is able to increase conversion and engagement online through the creation of linear content experiences. We will work to take visitors past what the website can show by helping to visualise what your brand could use our platform for right now.
We look forward to seeing you at JUMP this October. If you can make it you will be joining 1,200 senior marketers on the day and have access to over 60 sessions across 8 different streams. If you are serious about competing in today’s multi-channel world, you and your team need to be here, and to further guarantee your success please find the time to visit the Zmags booth and pick up some great information about what we can do to enhance your digital content strategy right now.
Please feel free to proactively arrange a meeting with myself or the Zmags team at JUMP by calling the office on 0207 420 4100, or by sending me an email at email@example.com – look forward to seeing you there!