Argos has had a bit of a rough ride with the press recently but it’s not all bad news, that’s for sure. Yes, sales are down by 6% on last year, but that’s not surprising with the prevailing economic conditions. Positively, they are still leading the way when it comes to multi-channel expertise and leadership, with multi-channel sales continuing to grow. News Salmon is pleased to hear, as we’ve been working with them since 2002 to help them deliver and support their website, and most recently, to deliver their mobile optimised site.
The latest figures show that multi-channel sales are now 46% of total sales. Total sales from mobile shopping are now at 4%, (that’s about £2.6m per week), with total internet orders, including Check & Reserve comprising 33% of Argos’ total sales, that’s approximately £21m per week. The remaining 13% of sales classed as multi-channel are for products ordered in-store for home delivery or by telephone.
It’s often said that opposites attract. As far as personal relationships are concerned, I haven’t found this to be the case. However, for people working in the eCommerce and multi channel world, the ability to attract or bring together opposites is becoming increasingly important.
Here are six sets of opposites that come to mind:
Developing strategic IT architectures and embracing rapidly emerging technologies.
Listening to what the customer wants now while anticipating their future needs.
Balancing cost versus capability in solution design.
Delivering personalised customer experiences and super-fast web site performance.
Managing divergent goals of stakeholders from marketing, stores, supply chain, IT and finance.
Building sound return on investment cases in the context of rapidly changing business models and technology.
(I’m sure there are many more than six, so would welcome your thoughts on others.)
So why is the ability to attract opposites important ?
“Internet Retailing” magazine (n.b. takes you to the July/Aug 2011 digital edition) is focused upon serving the UK and Europe’s leading multichannel and pureplay retailers. Inspired by the very best, and commercial to the core, Internet Retailing analyses, stimulates and challenges the etail community with news, analysis, events and insight.
With the impressive returns apparent for those retailers who have optimised their web sites for access by smartphones and the inexorable rise in smartphone adoption, the debate has moved beyond the ‘why’ and ‘when’.** The question now is ‘how to optimise your web site for mobile devices’. Here’s a summary of the pros and cons of the main options to help you navigate your way through this key decision.
Pros: Fancy something (relatively) quick to market and with easy access? Then a mobile store could be just what you are looking for. No snazzy touch screen smart phone needed, even if your customers have a Nokia e71 they can shop on your mobile store, plus with auto detection and re-direction, accessing your store couldn’t be simpler.
Salmon have developed iPhone and Android apps for Halfords, extending their current mobile and multi-channel proposition. The apps allow customers to shop, scan products and find their nearest store.
Mobile phone shoppers will receive a better online experience with the ability to research, locate and purchase products via the apps. The apps combine both web and app capabilities, providing Halfords with a cost effective solution and customers with a better online experience.
Jon Asbury, Halfords Channel Development Manager said: “We aim to give customers an even better online shopping experience through cutting edge technology. The apps are a natural progression from our successful mobile site. Customers will find the apps versatile, functional and easy to navigate.”
Tesco: Homeplus in South Korea offer customers a new way of shopping via their SmartPhone and QR Code technology. It’s proving popular with customers there. I’m not sure we have the same issues in the UK as Korea do to warrant this here, they are quite a unique market, but this does offer customers an alternative shopping method and is a great visual reminder. See for yourself here.
Microcopy might be just a small part of the online experience but it’s vitally important to customer experience and conversion and often overlooked.
So when you are designing for the web, take a minute to stand back and think about the microcopy, as ironically the smallest bits of copy can have the biggest impact on business and be the cause of a great or ghastly online customer experience.
Microcopy refers to the little instructions and phrases used on web pages to guide and reassure customers and can make the difference between someone signing up for something, or entering their credit card details or not.
Deep links into QR (Quick Response) codes are becoming ever more popular. Retailers are beginning to use deep links into their content on another channel using QR codes. A QR code is a specific matrix barcode – or two dimensional code , readable by QR barcode readers and camera phones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background and the information encoded can be text, URL or other data.
DIY retailer B&Q uses it in stores around physical products allowing customers to scan the QR code to watch the “how to video”. At Christmas, supermarket Waitrose used QR codes in TV and magazine adverts allowing customers to deep-link into recipes. Halfords, a Salmon client, has been using QR Codes in press advertising since Christmas with links to its mobile home page. It has also used them in-store to promote specific product ranges.
Neil Stewart, Commercial Director at Salmon said, “To be shortlisted in two categories is an achievement in its own right. Last year Halfords were “Highly Commended” at the awards for their multichannel approach, and this year we hope to go one better. Halfords are continually investing in new technology to improve the online experience for their customers and have demonstrated this over the last year with the launch of two new offerings that make their solution more relevant to the way customers want to shop today.”
Other Salmon clients also hoping to pick up an award include: Argos, Game Group, Pets at Home, Boots and Kiddicare.