App review: Amazon Seller App

How do the likes of eBay, Amazon Handcraft, Notonthehighstreet, Rakuten and Etsy go about supporting the small businesses who sell products through their platforms? What are some of the typical data and customer insights that these sellers benefit from and why? Amazon recently launched its Seller App aiming to “help grow and manage your selling business on Amazon.” I had a quick look at the Amazon Seller App and these are my initial thoughts:

  1. How did the app come to my attention? – Since I’ve started working on online marketplaces I tend to keep an eye out for new technology and tools available to the sellers on these marketplaces.
  2. My quick summary of the app (before using it) – I expect a mobile app, which helps sellers to keep a close eye on their sales figures and manage their orders.
  3. How does the app explain itself in the first minute? – The first screen of the app asks me to select my marketplace (see Fig. 1 below). It doesn’t provide any further context but I presume that if you’re an active seller on Amazon you might not need any further info.
  4. Getting started, what’s the process like? – I’m not a seller on Amazon, but looking at some of the screenshots and the data provided, I can imagine that sellers will find it relatively easy to use the app (see Fig. 2 and 3 below). What I’m curious about though is the data syncing between devices, making sure your sales data is as ‘real-time’ as possible. I also couldn’t get a sense of whether (and how well) the Seller App integrates with Amazon’s Mobile Credit Card Reader.
  5. How does the app compare to similar apps?  The Amazon Seller App feels very similar to the Sell on Etsy app and SellerMobile. For example, the Etsy app enables sellers to manage their open orders and revisit completed ones on the go (see Fig. 4 below). The Etsy app also offers sellers the opportunity to check their Etsy shop and product views, but I’m not sure whether this analytics feature is included in Amazon’s Seller App.
  6. Did the app deliver on my expectations?  Yes, based on what I could tell from the screenshots and app description. The app looks the provide the key stats and insights that marketplace sellers tend to be interested in. What I could not tell from the screenshots is how the app facilitates sellers who sell on multiple marketplaces, for example in the UK and the US. I know this is a reality for lots of small businesses and it would be good to find out how the user interface of the Amazon Seller App accommodates for this use case.

Main learning point: The Amazon Seller App looks fit for purpose, providing sellers with key sales information that’s visual and easy to manage on the go. Analytics and multiple marketplaces are two areas where I’m not sure how (well) they are covered by this app. However, if you sell products through Amazon and want to keep a close eye on your orders and sales, then this app should give you the key information to help you manage your activities on Amazon’s marketplace.

Fig. 1 – Screenshot of opening screen on Amazon Seller App (iOS)

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Fig. 2 – Screenshots of Amazon Seller App (iOS) – Taken from: http://www.allmediatalks.com/amazon-in-launches-its-seller-app-in-india-amazon-online-selling/

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Fig. 3 – Screenshot order detail view on Amazon Seller App (iOS) – Taken from: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/amazon-seller/id794141485

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Fig. 4 – Screenshot of the ‘Sell on Etsy’ App – Taken from: https://blog.etsy.com/news/2014/introducing-new-mobile-app-just-for-sellers/

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Related links for further learning:

  1. http://tamebay.com/2015/06/amazon-marketplaces-eu-release-seller-app.html
  2. http://techcrunch.com/2014/03/06/amazon-debuts-an-official-mobile-app-for-amazon-sellers/
  3. http://www.retailwire.com/discussion/18003/its-good-to-be-an-amazon-marketplace-seller
  4. http://www.fiercewireless.com/europe/story/mobile-app-helps-amazon-sellers-shift-2b-items-2014/2015-01-05
  5. http://www.allmediatalks.com/amazon-in-launches-its-seller-app-in-india-amazon-online-selling/
  6. http://www.wired.com/2014/08/amazon-mobile-credit-card-reader/
  7. http://techcrunch.com/2014/10/23/etsy-moves-further-into-the-offline-world-with-launch-of-card-reader-for-in-person-payments/
  8. https://blog.etsy.com/news/2014/introducing-new-mobile-app-just-for-sellers/

How made.com connects online and offline

Made.com has been around for a good few years and has made a name for itself by offering designer furniture online. However, I hadn’t realised that apart from their online platform, Made.com also have 2 showrooms (in London and in Yorkshire respectively). Keen to find out more about how Made.com combine a user’s online and offline experience, I went to their London showroom to see for myself:

  1. CloudTags – When you enter the Made.com showroom, you will see a stand stacked with white tablets (see Fig. 1 below). These devices enable you to scan individual items in the showroom. You can scan visual “Near Field Communication” (‘NFC’) tags on each item. Scanning these tags with your device will get you more information about a specific piece of furniture and create a list of items you’re interested in. Made.com can then email you the list, which enables you to do further research on the items that you’ve looked at (see Fig. 2 below). This also provides Made.com with valuable data on its users .
  2. Product discovery – I really liked the product pages that came up on the handheld device as I was scanning CloudTags on products. For example, when I scanned a “Landsdowne Upholstered Bedside Table”, I got a product page which was clear, visual and which encouraged me to look at similar products (see Fig. 3 below). From this product page, I found it really easy to look at the bedside table in different colours and to explore different products by type and collection respectively. Also, the email that I got from Made.com included both the item that I’d looked at as well as “recommended products” (i.e. other items in the Landsdowne collection).
  3. Don’t forget about the iBeacons – Based on my in-store selections, I expect Made.com to be able to build up a good profile of my furniture preferences. In addition, Made.com uses iBeacon technology in-store which, in combination with the tablets, generate data on e.g. customer dwell time. Made.com can then use this data to personalise its marketing and showroom merchandising strategies.

Main learning point: I really like how Made.com are combining the online and offline user experience. When you go in-store, their combined experience feels intuitive and seamless. I’m curious to see how Made.com will continue to build on this combination of online and offline touchpoints, and how it will use the data which it generates in the process.

 

Fig. 1 – Handheld tablets as used in made.com’s showrooms – Taken from: http://www.essentialretail.com/news/article/53be97c7361cb-in-pictures-madecom-showroom-trials-tablet-shopping-experience

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Fig. 2 – Screenshot of the email confirmation screen of Made’s tablet

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Fig. 3 – Screenshot of the Landsdowne bedside table on Made’s tablet

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Fig. 4 – Screenshot of the email I received from Made.com following my visit to their showroom

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Related links for further learning:

  1. http://www.made.com/about-us
  2. http://www.thedrum.com/news/2014/07/10/madecom-attempts-connect-offline-and-online-store-product-scanning
  3. http://www.essentialretail.com/news/article/53be97c7361cb-in-pictures-madecom-showroom-trials-tablet-shopping-experience
  4. http://www.cloudtags.com/
  5. http://www.rfidjournal.com/articles/view?12024
  6. http://www.cityam.com/214513/intelligent-design

 

CarStory and its ways to enhance your car inventory

The other day I came across CarStory. Since I’ve started with car comparison site carwow I’ll always keep an eye out for similar sites, changing the way in which consumer buy new or used cars. Given that I’m not a US based car dealer, my testing of the CarStory site and app is limited. I did, however, learn quite a lot about CarStory’s service by reading reviews and watching videos.

These are the main things that I learned about CarStory:

  1. Mission statement – “Turn car shoppers into customers” is CarStory’s main tagline. On its homepage, there’s a succinct description of CarStory’s value proposition. The service is aimed at car dealers, providing them with a “CarStory” to their inventories. A CarStory is a market report which “tells a story”, highlighting your cars’ unique features and value in the local market (see an example in Fig. 1 below). CarStory’s goals are to (1) build consumer confidence and (2) accelerate purchase decisions.
  2. Use cases – I guess the main benefit for dealers using CarStory is that they will have a good bit of car specific info at hand, not having to check multiple sources to answer customer questions about e.g. fuel consumption, features or alternative models (see Fig. 2 below). From a customer’s perspective, dealers are likely to be set up well for specific questions e.g. about price comparison or the most popular features on a specific car.
  3. Infographics – Apart from vehicle specific ‘story cards’, dealers can also use CarStory’s infographics to provide their customers with more data and insight about a specific model. For example, I can look at high level supply and demand data for a specific model (see Fig. 3 below).

Main learning point: CarStory offers an interesting way of creating market reports and integrating these reports into a dealer’s daily workflow. It currently only seems to apply to used cars and it would be good to find out from a customer’s perspective how the CarStory data and insights help in making purchasing decisions, whether it’s for a new or a used car.

Fig.1 – Screenshots of a sample CarStory – Taken from: https://www.carstory.com/static/img/market_sample.pdf

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Fig. 2 – CarStory use cases – Adapted from: http://blog.carstory.com/business-development-sell-more-with-carstory/

  • Identify other cars in your inventory to match customer needs – A dealer is on the phone with a customer and can use CarStory to check his inventory to see if there are any cars in the other to meet a customer’s requirements.
  • Provide car specific info on the phone, email or on text – With the data included in a CarStory for a specific vehicle, dealers will be able to answer specific customer questions on the phone, email or on text. The idea is that customers don’t necessarily need to come into the dealership to find out certain details about a car.

Fig. 3 – Example of a CarStory infographic – Taken from: http://blog.carstory.com/market-reports-dodge-caravan-infographic/

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Related links for further learning:

  1. http://www.dealerrefresh.com/carstory-app-interview-with-vast/
  2. http://www.autoremarketing.com/trends/features-info-used-car-buyers-want-most
  3. http://blog.carstory.com/get-to-know-carstory-part-3-vehicle-condition-is-key/
  4. http://blog.carstory.com/business-development-sell-more-with-carstory/
  5. https://www.carstory.com/static/img/market_sample.pdf
  6. http://blog.carstory.com/getting-to-know-carstory-part-1-can-you-trust-the-data/
  7. http://blog.carstory.com/get-to-know-carstory-part-2-good-deal-great-deal/
  8. http://blog.carstory.com/top-10-carstory-market-report-tips-and-tricks/

Site review: ao.com

Looking at eCommerce sites helps me to learn more about effective User Experience design and user journeys. I recently looked at ao.com, a UK website specialised in selling white goods.

  1. How did this site come to my attention? – I recently read a great article by David Kyle titled “What ecommerce managers can learn from AO.com” . David’s article triggered me to have a closer look at this well known website.
  2. My quick summary of the site (before using it) – A site dedicated to selling washing machines, dishwashers, etc. Not the most sexy stuff, but ao.com has been doing particularly well in this segment, resulting in a successful stock listing last year.
  3. How does the site explain itself in the first minute? – By scrolling down the homepage, I get the impression that ao.com is all about getting the best deals for products such as fridges and hoovers (see Fig. 1 below).
  4. Getting started, what is the process like? – Let’s say, I was looking to buy a new fridge, there are number of ways to navigate the site to discover the fridges that ao.com has to offer. I’ve outlined the different ways in Fig. 2 below. However, the “product overview” was the feature on ao.com which I was most impressed with. I believe that product pages are critical to any self-respecting eCommerce site and ao.com does a great job in this respect; well written, easy to understand, practical and a good use of imagery (see Fig. 3 below).
  5. How easy to use was the site? – Very. It’s easy to find out about the service that ao.com offers to its customers. For example, both in the header and the footer of each page you’ll find the key tenets of ao’s service: “Price match promise”, “Pay on finance”, “Free delivery”; “We’ll recycle your old”; “We’ll connect your new” and “14 day returns” (see Fig. 4 below). Using site search on terms like “finance” and “delivery” was also pretty straightforward, I got direct to a finance and delivery page respectively (see Fig. 4 below).
  6. How did I feel while exploring the site? – Again, ao.com did feel very easy to use and to navigate. The page design and structures felt intuitive and not too overwhelming.
  7. How does this site compare to similar sites? – I looked at Currys site, which felt similar to ao.com. However, I felt that the site navigation and use of imagery throughout the Currys site could be improved substantially. From my initial browsing, Currys’ site didn’t feel as intuitive and easy to use as ao.com. However, “Things to consider when buying a …” is a feature that I particularly liked on Currys as it felt very informative and practical (see Fig. 5 below). In comparison, when I shop for fridges on BestBuy the navigation is similar to ao.com. For example, on the fridges landing page, I can choose between “Shop by Type”, “Featured Refrigerator Innovations” and “Shop by Brand”.
  8. Did the site deliver on my expectations? – ao.com definitely did deliver on my expectations as it was easy to find out about good deals and compare products. The site doesn’t feel over-engineered and instead provides a clear and easy to use site structure. The way in which ao.com executes its product pages is great and something which I believe lots of other eCommerce sites can learn from.

Fig. 1 – Screenshots of the homepage of AO.com

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Fig. 2 – Different ways to discover fridges on AO.com

Way 1 – Via top level navigation: I select the “Fridges & Freezers” tab in the top level navigation. This opens up a clean and well presented overlay, which displays five self-explanatory product categories within the “Fridges & Freezers” category. For example, the “Fridges” categories has been broken down into three sub-categories: Freestanding Fridges, Under Counter Fridges and Best Buys.

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When I click on “Best Buys”, I’m directed to landing page for fridges. It becomes clear from looking at the banner at the top of this page, titled “Best Buys Fridges”, that the fridges displayed on this page represent good value for money.

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Way 2 –  Via “Looking for the best appliance” landing page: On the homepage, I click on the call to action in the “Looking for the best appliance” tile. The “shop now” call to action takes me to a landing pages which shows me an overview of the different product categories, with the promise that these are “Our best appliances, handpicked by our experts for: Best quality; Best price and Best features”.The sub-categories under fridges are nearly the same as when I navigate to fridges via the top level navigation (see Way 1 above: Fridges, Under counter fridges and Wine coolers. When I click on “Fridges” I automatically land on the “Best Buy Fridges” landing page (see screenshot above).

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Way 3 – Via “Best Sellers” section on homepage: Alternatively, I can select a fridge as featured in the “Best Sellers” section on the homepage. For example, when I click on the Hisense American Fridge Freezer featured in the section, I’m taken to the product page for this make and model (see screenshot below), where I can find out more about this fridge freezer and explore similar products.

 

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Way 4 – Via “Shop by brand” section on homepage: If you already know which brand you want for fridge, the the “Shop by brand” section at the bottom of the AO.com homepage is your place to go. For example, if I know that I want to buy an Indesit fridge, then I simple click on the Indesit logo and I’m taken to a landing page for all Indesit products on AO.com.

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Fig. 3 – Screenshots of the product overview for a Hisense American Fridge Freezer – Taken from: http://ao.com/product/rs731n4ac1-hisense-american-fridge-freezer-stainless-steel-28316-27.aspx

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Fig. 4 – Screenshots of header and footer on AO.com:

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Fig. 5 – Screenshot of a “Things to consider when buying a fridge or freezer” section – Taken from: http://www.currys.co.uk/gbuk/household-appliances/refrigeration-333-c.html

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Related links for further learning:

  1. https://econsultancy.com/blog/66233-what-ecommerce-managers-can-learn-from-ao-com/
  2. https://econsultancy.com/blog/64902-13-ecommerce-best-practice-lessons-from-ao-com/
  3. https://econsultancy.com/blog/64704-25-effective-design-patterns-for-ecommerce-site-search-results

 

The what and why of programmatic marketing

The term “programmatic marketing” is relatively new. Ben Plomion, VP Marketing at Chango, first wrote about programmatic marketing back in 2012. In this article he expands on the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of programmatic marketing. Ben’s piece formed a great starting point for me to learn more about what programmatic marketing means and what its benefits are.

Let’s start with the ‘what’:

Wikipedia provides a nice and concise definition of programmatic marketing: “In digital marketing, programmatic marketing campaigns are automatically triggered by any type of event and deployed according to a set of rules applied by software and algorithms. Human skills are still needed in programmatic campaigns as the campaigns and rules are planned beforehand and established by marketers.”

I’ve broken this down into some specific elements:

  1. Events – Marketers can set rules around specific ‘events’ which they expect to trigger specific marketing activities (e.g. a display ad or an email). An abandoned online shopping cart is a good example of such an event. For instance, I receive an email with a subject line that says “Do you still want to buy a white pair of Converse All Stars” after I’ve abandoned this product in my shopping basket.
  2. Automatic triggers – Once an event has been selected, an automatic trigger can be created. For instance, if I search for “blue cashmere” jumpers, I’ll be presented with display ads for the blue cashmere jumpers on other applications or sites that I visit or browse.
  3. Rules set by marketers – There’s a strong human element to programmatic marketing. Marketers need to fully understand the customer journeys and metrics related to their product or service. This understanding will help you to make sure the right marketing activity is triggered, for the right customer and at the right time.

Why? What are the benefits of programmatic marketing?

  1. It’s automated – By automating buying decisions, marketers remove the friction of the sales process (including humans placing buying orders) and reduce their marketing costs.
  2. Organising data – A programmatic marketing platform allows marketers to better organise their data and create highly targeted marketing campaigns. The goal is to avoid wasted clicks or impressions. Programmatic marketing helps to target those consumers who have (expressed) an intent to buy, and who are likely to covert into the desired behaviour.
  3. Targeting and personalisation – Programmatic marketing helps in targeting specific user types or segments, having a better understanding of user activity and interests. Programmatic marketing increases the likelihood of consumer action by showing each user a personalised message. The goal is to present users with a more customised call-to-action based on their recent browsing behaviour, for example, or other anonymised data that you know about them.
  4. Reaching consumers across channels and devices – Similar to marketing based on user behavioural data (see my previous point), you can use programmatic marketing to understand and tap into which channels and devices customers use as part of their experience.

Some programmatic marketing techniques to consider:

  1. Dynamic Creative Optimisation – Dynamic Creative Optimisation (‘DCO’)  allows marketers to break an online ad apart into individual pieces, and to create different pieces for different audiences. With these dynamic elements, you can easily rotate the layout of the ad based on user data (see Fig. 1 below). For example, if we know that a user has been looking at cheap flights to Orlando, we can tailor the ad accordingly (see the Travelocity example in Fig. 1 below).
  2. Shopping cart abandonment email campaigns – Every retail or transactional site collects data on users who don’t complete the checkout process. Abandoned shopping cart emails are sent to those customers who added products to their cart but failed to check out. Customers can fail to purchase for a whole a number of reasons, varying from deliberate (e.g. decision not to purchase) to circumstantial (e.g. the website crashed or the session timed out). Sending a users an email to remind them of their abandoned shopping cart is a great way for businesses to act on this data (see some examples in Fig. 2 and 3 below).
  3. Programmatic site retargeting – Programmatic site retargeting (‘PSR’) is designed to increase revenue from someone who has already visited your site or expressed an interest in your product. As the aforementioned Ben Plomion explains here: “PSR crunches all that data and creates a score that determines how much to bid to serve an impression for that user via an ad exchange, allowing marketers to target leads on the cheap”. It’s about using data such as resource pages on your site that a person has visited, or where the user came from, to serve a highly targeted and relevant ad on the favourite site or application of the user.

Main learning point: After having dipped my toe into programmatic marketing, I feel that there’s much more to learn about how programmatic marketing works and about how to do it effectively. Some of the programmatic marketing techniques seem fairly obvious. However, I guess the challenge will in collecting, understanding and selecting the right data to drive your programmatic marketing activity.

Fig. 1 – Good examples of Dynamic Creative Optimisation – Taken from: http://www.adopsinsider.com/ad-ops-basics/dynamic-creative-optimization-where-online-data-meets-advertising-creative/

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Fig 2 – Example of an email to remind people of their abandoned shopping cart – Taken from: http://www.shopify.co.uk/blog/12522201-13-amazing-abandoned-cart-emails-and-what-you-can-learn-from-them

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Fig. 3 – Example of an email to remind people of their abandoned shopping cart – Taken from: http://www.whatcounts.com/wp-content/uploads//Hofstra.png

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Related links for further learning:

  1. https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/intl/en-gb/collection/programmatic-marketing/
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programmatic_marketing
  3. http://www.adopsinsider.com/ad-ops-basics/dynamic-creative-optimization-where-online-data-meets-advertising-creative/
  4. http://digiday.com/platforms/why-programmatic-marketing-is-the-future/
  5. https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/intl/en-gb/interview/moneysupermarketcom-activating-customer-data-with-programmatic-marketing/
  6. http://www.mediaweek.co.uk/article/1227382/programmatic-marketing-trends-watch-2014
  7. http://www.fanatica.co.uk/blog/programmatic-marketing/
  8. http://blog.clickwork7.com/2014/12/11/programmatic-versus-native/
  9. http://www.256media.ie/2014/10/smart-content-marketing/
  10. https://medium.com/@ameet/demystifying-programmatic-marketing-and-rtb-83edb8c9ba0f
  11. http://www.shopify.co.uk/blog/12522201-13-amazing-abandoned-cart-emails-and-what-you-can-learn-from-them
  12. http://www.clickz.com/clickz/column/2302627/how-programmatic-site-retargeting-can-give-marketing-automation-a-superboost
  13. https://retargeter.com/blog/general/real-time-bidding-and-programmatic-progress

Site review: Carwow

“Be a happy car buyer” is what it says on the homepage of http://www.carwow.co.uk/. The promise here is that people will “Experience new car buying without any of the hassle or uncertainty”. Carwow’s proposition is effectively a reverse marketplace; enabling users to specify the car that they would like to buy and attracting offers based on their specifications. Once a user has specified things like a car’s make, model, features, etc. they receive offers directly from dealers.

Users can compare offers by price, location of the dealer, reviews by other users and what’s actually in stock, all done in a very transparent fashion. It’s then up to the buyer to decide whether to contact a dealer based on their offer, either by anonymous messaging through the Carwow platform or by giving the dealer a call. This all sounds very promising, let’s have a closer look at http://www.carwow.co.uk/ :

  1. How did this site come to my attention? – London-based Carwow recently secured additional funding in a Series A round, led by Balderton Capital. This bit of news drew my attention and I searched for Carwow’s site.
  2. My quick summary of the site (before using it) – I expect to be able to compare prices from different car dealers, and I expect to be able to read reviews of what other people think of a particular car.
  3. How does the site explain itself in the first minute? – I love the uncluttered design of Carwow’s homepage (see Fig. 1 below). Rather than trying to cram as much info as possible into prime real estate, Carwow has gone for a parallax design which works really nicely. The copy used on the first screen could be a tad more self-explanatory in my opinion. It currently says “Be a happy car buyer. Experience new car buying without any of the hassle or uncertainty”. However, it would be good to spell out the user benefits more clearly, outlining why people should be using Carwow over the tons of other car sites out there. I’ve drafted some alternative copy suggestions in Fig. 2 below.
  4. Getting started, what’s the process like (1)? – I start the process by clicking on the “Choose car” button (see Fig. 3 below). I then choose a make. Whilst doing this I was thrown slightly by the fact it also mentions “next choose a model”; I wasn’t sure whether I needed to click on this (it turned out to be non-clickable) or whether this was just a signpost, meant to give an indication of the next step (see Fig. 3 below). Indeed, once I’ve chosen a make (Toyota), I need to choose a model (see Fig. 4 below). I then select an engine (petrol or diesel) and a gearbox (automatic or manual), after which I’m presented with a screen through which I can indicate which models I’d like to receive offers for (see Fig. 5 below).
  5. Getting started, what’s the process like (2)? – After selecting the model that I’d like to receive offers for, I can then choose a colour and any additional features. I’m then presented with a recommended retail price (‘RRP’) (see Fig. 5 below). Perhaps a minor point, but I think it would be good if some of the abbreviations used throughout the process were explained or if there was an easy way for me to find out about things like ‘RRP’ and ‘MPG’. I can imagine that the average user of Carwow is familiar with these terms, but it would nevertheless be good to make the experience as intuitive and self-explanatory as possible. Finally, I enter my post code so that I can start receiving offers from local dealers (see Fig. 7 below).
  6. How easy to use was the site? – Very easy. ‘Assembling’ the car that I wanted to receive offers for was very quick and easy. I felt that the progress bar (showing the steps from model to compare offers) could be a little clearer and appear more consistently throughout the process. Apart from those minor things, I was clear on the process and its outcomes.
  7. How did I feel while exploring the site? – Soon after submitting my request for dealer offers, I got access to my personal Carwow dashboard (see Fig. 8 below). This, I felt, is the best bit of Carwow. With a clear design and just the right amount of information, it’s easy to view and compare the different dealers’ offers (see Fig. 9 below). I always find it very reassuring to see that there’s a customer support chat function, which I promptly used to ask some specific questions in relation to one of the offers (see Fig. 10 below). The only suggestion I’d make is to create a simple comparison table, which outlines and scores the different offers based on: customer feedback, service guarantee, discounts, delivery time, etc. That way, I could compare offers at a glance.
  8. How does this site compare to similar sites? – Most car broker and comparison sites don’t seem to be as user-centric as Carwow. One can see from the examples in Fig. 11-12 below that these sites purely enable to the customer to compare models or prices, but provide limited opportunity for the user to indicate features and other preferences. Dealer information is the other main aspect which seems lacking. Once I’ve compared models or prices, there doesn’t seem to be a way for me to access offers from local dealers or to get a sense of how reliable the different dealers are. In contrast, Carwow’s proposition is all about dealers “giving their best price on the cars you want” and “buying direct from a main UK dealer with reviews from previous buyers”.
  9. Did the site deliver on my expectations? – Yes, no doubt about it. Carwow provided a clear price comparison and useful dealer information. From the signup process to the offer comparison via the Carwow dashboard, it all felt very intuitive and transparent. The product person in me thought of some simple new features or improvements to add, but the site as is already delivers on its key promise: “Experience new car buying without any of the hassle or uncertainty”.

 Fig. 1 – Screenshot of the homepage on http://www.carwow.co.uk/ :

Carwow1

Fig. 2 – Suggestions for alternative copy regarding the key benefits of using Carwow:

“With Carwow, you decide what your dream car looks like (and what it costs)”

“Avoid having to haggle for your new car with the help of Carwow”

“The easiest and most transparent way of comparing car prices and features”

Fig. 3 – Choose a car and a make on Carwow:

Choose a car

Choose makeFig. 4 – Select a model. engine and gearbox on a Carwow:

Choose model

Choose model 2

 

Engine

Fig. 5 – Select a model that I want to receive offers for through Carwow:

Select a modelFig. 6 – Choose a colour and any extra features through Carwow, followed by a recommended retail price:

Colour

Options

Fig. 7 – Entering my post code on Carwow to receive offers from local dealers:

Post code

 

Send email

How it works 1

Fig. 8 – Screenshot of my Carwow dashboard with offers received:

Dashboard

Fig. 9 – Screenshot of “Offer A” received:

Offer A

Fig. 10 – Customer support chat on Carwow:

Customer support

Fig. 11 – Screenshot car comparison on http://www.whatcar.com/:

Whatcar

Fig. 12 – Screenshot of http://www.broker4cars.co.uk/:

Brokers

Fig. 13 – Screenshot of Carwow email:

Email

 

Related links for further learning:

  1. http://techcrunch.com/2014/02/23/carwow/
  2. http://techcrunch.com/2014/12/14/carwow-fuel-injection/
  3. http://www.creativebloq.com/web-design/parallax-scrolling-1131762
  4. http://www.crunchbase.com/organization/carwow
  5. http://www.balderton.com/news/-zoopla-for-cars-carwow-raises-seed-investment-from-balderton-capital-alex-chesterman-598
  6. http://www.smarta.com/blog/2014/9/60-second-start-up-carwowcouk/
  7. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/01/11/young-entrepreneur-carwow-james-hind

Book review: “Web Metrics”

When I asked analytics expert Barry Mann about any good books on analytics, his advice was short and sweet: “simple, read Web Metrics by Jim Sterne“. Even though this book was published back in 2002, Barry recommended this as a great textbook on analytics. And so it proved to be. “Web Analytics – Proven methods for measuring web site” does a great job in distinguishing between the things one wants to measure (and why) and the tools one can use for measuring.

These are the areas of the book that I found most helpful:

  1. Division of analytics tools – Sterne references a useful way of dividing tools into four levels. This breakdown comes from Gartner and offers a handy way of looking at available analytics tools (see Fig. 1 below).
  2. The importance of log files – A great tool to start with is log files. Reading Sterne’s chapter titled “Sawing Logs” really helped me in asking the right questions before starting to look at the log files of a website (see Fig. 2 below).
  3. Understanding your visitor data – The chapter in the book which talks about “valuing visitors” is great in helping you think about different type of visitors and their – expected or desired – behaviours (see Fig. 3 below).
  4. Measuring stickiness – For commercial websites, the question of stickiness is one of branding and persuasion. First, how can we get people to stay longer with our brand? Second, when people engage with our brand, are we leaving the right impression? Sterne provides some useful formulas to calculate stickiness (see Fig. 4 below).
  5. Calculating conversion – Sterne helpfully describes “conversion” as “whatever moment of commitment happens on your site”. He then goes to elaborate on a number of related metrics: navigation and search impact conversion, depth, recency and frequency, abandonment and checkout (see Fig. 5 below).

Main learning point: Web Analytics by Jim Sterne is a great book for anyone who is either new to the world of analytics or wants to build on a basic understanding. Sterne spends a great amount of time talking about the ‘why’ of certain online metrics and how to best measure them, which I found incredibly helpful.

Fig. 1 – The Gartner Levels of Ambition – Taken from “Web Metrics” by Jim Sterne, Chapter 5, pp. 67-68

  • Level 1: Monitoring – The focus is on website optimisation. You look at server logs to figure out how to get people to stick around longer and give them more of what they want.
  • Level 2: Feedback – Here you pay attention to the site visitor and try to improve the user experience. You look at the amount of time people spend on the site, and you use visitor segmentation to alter the content for different types of visitors.
  • Level 3: Leverage – The focus shifts from the visitor to the customer, and the goal is to increase customer profitability. Customer profiling, dynamic up-selling and cross-selling, and customer satisfaction all come into play.
  • Level 4: Strategic – Now the spotlight is turned around to shine on the company itself in order to optimise the business model: channeling low-margin customers to the competition, tracking lifetime value, and getting into some serious business intelligence analytics.

Fig. 2 – Things that one can learn from looking at log files – Taken from “Web Metrics” by Jim Sterne, Chapter 5, pp. 67-88

  • Search terms used – Use referer log files of the search terms that a person has typed into Google. The URL of the page they were on is recorded, and that URL includes the long string of data the search engine used to produce the page, including the search term itself.
  • Most used entry and exit pages on a site – Server logs show the most used entry and exit pages on a site. These are the pages most people use as a door into a website and the last page they looked at just before they left.
  • Number of hits – Log analysis tools like WebTrends provide a good overview of the number of site hits: (1) entire site, (2) average per day and (3) home page.
  • Number of page views – Looking at (1) the number of page views (impressions), (2) average number of page views per day and (3) document views.
  • Visitor sessions – Looking at (1) the number of visitor session, (2) average number of visitors per day, (3) average visitor length, (4) number of unique visitors, (5) international visitor sessions, (5) visitors from the United Kingdom and (6) visitors from unknown origin.
  • Visitors – Looking at (1) number of visitors, (2) visitors who visited once and (3) visitors who visited more than once.

Fig. 3 – Different visitor types and behaviours – Taken from Web Metrics” by Jim Sterne, Chapter 7, pp. 141-146

  • Unique visitor – The easiest way to track unique visitors is to look at their IP addresses. However, what do you do when your server logs show that two visitors came from two IP addresses, but if they come from the same online gateway or corporate firewall, how do you distinguish between them? Cookies are the best way to work out unique visitors in this scenario.
  • Return visitor – Placing a cookie on a visitor’s computer is the best way so far of telling one visitor from another and knowing if the visitor has been to your site before. Two big drawbacks to this approach though: (1) lots of people are annoyed by cookies and will disable them and (2) many corporate firewalls won’t allow cookies to go through the corporate firewall.
  • Qualified visitor – A suspect is somebody who shares characteristics with your current customers. A prospect is somebody who has expressed interest in your products – perhaps by responding to a promotion. A qualified prospect is one who has the need, the desire, and the means to make the buy. WebTrends defines a qualified visit this way: “Visits by customers who are considered qualified as revenue generators. To qualify, a visitor must access specific pages on a web site that are specified by the system administrator.”
  • Stale visitor – Qualified visitors eventually lose their qualifications when they don’t come back for a spell. The length of this spell is likely to depend on the type of product or service that one is selling.
  • User – A visitor is visitor. They come, they look, they may event become qualified if they stay long enough and dig deep enough. But a user comes to your site repeatedly and for a reason.
  • Churn – Churn measures how much of your customer base rolls over during a given period of time. Divide the number of users who fail to return in a given time period by the total number of users at the end of the time period and you’ve got your baseline.

Fig. 4 – Ways to calculate stickiness – Taken from “Web Metrics” by Jim Sterne, Chapter 9, pp. 169-171

  • You can easily calculate stickiness by multiplying frequency (F) by duration (D) and reach (R) and come up with a benchmark for your content. You choose whether frequency is measured per day, per week, or per month. Duration can either be calculated in minutes or pages. Reach is a percentage of your total potentially interested universe.
  • For example, Your site has acquired a total of 200,000 unique users. Over the past month, 50,000 unique users went to your site. These 50,000 users accounted  for a total of 250,000 visits (average frequency of 5 visits per unique user for the month), and during these visits the users spent a total of 1,000,000 minutes viewing pages on your site. Therefore:
  • Monthly Stickiness = (250,000 visits/50,000 active users) x (1,000,000 minutes/250,000 visits) x (50,000 active users/200,000 total users)
  • Stickiness = Total Amount of Time Spent Viewing All Pages / Total Number of Unique Users

Fig. 5 – Relevant conversion to consider – Taken from “Web Metrics” by Jim Sterne, Chapter 11, pp. 214-248

  • With navigation and search impact conversion, it’s useful to look at the “first purchase momentum”. This will provide you with insights into the clarity of your navigation; what us the actual number of clicks-to-purchase and how does this compare to the minimum required clicks to first purchase?
  • First purchase momentum = Required clicks to first purchase / Actual clicks to first purchase
  • It can be helpful to look at depth – How many pages of your website did people look at? And at what level of detail? Did people look at any specific product detail?
  • Recency and frequency are about looking at the relationship between visits and purchases. As Sterne points out, “Not all buyers are first-time visitors, and not all first-time visitors are buyers. What’s the relationship? What is the pattern of visits for an individual user.” Marketing professors Wendy Moe and Peter Fader wrote a paper in 2001, which looks at the ability to predict purchasing probabilities for a given visit.
  • Abandonment – Sterne provides some very useful metrics in relation to shopping cart abandonment: (1) the ratio of abandoned carts to completed purchases per day (2) the number of items per abandoned cart versus completed transactions (3) the profile of items abandoned versus purchased and (4) the profile of a shopper versus a buyer. The overall abandonment rate is the number of people who commence but do not complete the buying process.
  • Apart from talking about the aforementioned shop-to-purchase ratio, Sterns also look at yield which determines the effectiveness of a multi-step process where incremental costs aren’t available, such as creative / banner testing or the comparison of two paths leading to the same path.
  • Net yield = Total Promotion Cost / Total Promotion Result
  • Cost per conversion = Advertising and Promotional Costs / Number of Sales

Related links for further learning:

  1. http://www.webtrends.com/products-solutions/analytics/
  2. http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/excellent-analytics-tip6-measure-days-visits-to-purchase/ 
  3. http://www.brucehardie.com/talks/ho_cba_tut_art_09.pdf
  4. http://www.moblized.com/blog/simple-ways-to-fix-cart-abandonment

 

Web Metrics