February 2021

View all on this date written articles further down below.

Reviewing 2020 Performance

Last year will live in infamy, but for retailers the one silver lining to that smoke and disease-filled cloud was the unprecedented growth in eCommerce. Now with most staff back from various breaks and many even returning to the office, it’s an opportunity to reflect on your metrics and KPIs from 2020 and to consider how to make this year’s online successes even greater. 

There are four key areas that are important to include in your review, with the aim of identifying potential problems and opportunities.

Infrastructure Performance

Your website needs to be available and fast. When your down, your losing business. Looking at an uptime/downtime report for the year, see when the downtime occurred. If it was during peak selling seasons, you may need to consider scaling up your infrastructure or signing a more robust service-level agreement with your provider.

Slow page load times can be just as damaging, leading to higher bounce rates, cart abandonment, and may even hurt your Google search engine rankings. If there are no obvious problems with your average page load times or transaction processing speed, The Playhouse Group can assist with running a series of other diagnostic tests to help ensure your infrastructure is ready.

Customer Experience

We have never been shy of saying that customer experience needs to be at the centre of eCommerce, such as when we discussed customer journeys last month. Expectations are rising, and if you want to have an advantage over your competitors, your site should be personalised, organised, relevant, and painless. 

In the last twelve months:

  • How often did your site refresh content?
  • Were the content and search recommendations personalised?
  • How easy was the checkout process and order tracking?
  • Did you offer live chat?

Improve in these areas, and you’ll improve your customers’ experiences.

Traffic and Conversions

Analysing and comparing sources of traffic and their conversion rates helps you identify where your big successes and failures occurred. For example, if your mobile conversion rates were relatively low despite consistently high mobile traffic, you may need to think about redesigning your mobile experience.

When looking at traffic and conversions, consider both overall figures as well as performance during peak periods. It will also be helpful to compare those figures with 2019 to see if there are trends. 

You will want to consider:

  • What traffic sources converted most and least, and when?
  • Which landing pages converted most and least, and when?
  • Which promotions converted most and least, and when?
  • Which products converted most and least, and when?

For more on improving conversion rates in general, you can read our recent post on the topic, or our in-depth examination of the effects of price specifically.

Peak Seasons

Performing well during peak seasons, such as Cyber Weekend and the lead up to Christmas, is crucial, and will be part of the infrastructure performance review conducted as the first step in this recommendation. 

When specifically looking at peak seasons, the first step is to clarify when these are for your business. Which days had exceptionally high traffic and sales? Due to them representing a large portion of overall revenue, they deserve extra scrutiny to determine which strategies worked, and which didn’t. This will guide your 2021 strategy.

Use this analysis to predict 2021 traffic and order volumes, so that you can prepare your site properly for them. This could be through increasing server and/or database capacity, or utilising a content delivery network.

But don’t stop at just analysing technical capabilities, consider the impacts of differing customer experiences, marketing and sales strategies, and the traffic sources and conversion rates discussed above. This will help you identify KPIs to focus on this year. 

Don’t let your business fall into the trap of charging into new goals, budgets and plans for 2021, and postponing your review until it’s too late to inform this year’s strategy.

If you’d like help conducting a review of your 2020 website performance, or for any other eCommerce related questions, please don’t hesitate to click the button below to set up an obligation free consultation with The Playhouse Group.

With decades of experience and as a certified Magento partner, The Playhouse Group can help your business maximise its online sales capabilities. Get in touch with our team and we can talk to you about this or any other eCommerce questions you may have.

AI in eCommerce

Artificial intelligence (AI) will transform eCommerce over the coming years, such as with AI-driven chatbots, as we’ve previously discussed, or in several other ways – some of which the programs themselves will come up with.

AI enables businesses to understand customers better to and better make the right product offering at the right time and in the right way. 

Consulting firm Gartner has predicted that by 2023, businesses using AI in eCommerce will achieve at least a 25% increase in customer satisfaction, revenue, and cost reduction. Customer experience specialists Servion have predicted that by 2025, they will be powered by AI in 95% of customer interactions.

The use of AI falls into two broad categories: business improvement and customer experience. On the business side, it can help improve products and services, complete business functions, and enhance website performance. For customers, it’s all about enhancing their experience.

Business Improvement

Improving Products and Services:

  • Pricing optimisation
  • Image recognition and tagging
  • Auto-generated product descriptions
  • Conversion rate optimisation testing
  • Retail analytics
  • Self-checkout systems

Completing Business Functions

  • Customer service applications
    • Chatbots
    • Voice assistants
  • Supply chain applications
    • Inventory planning
    • Automated warehouses
  • Marketing and sales applications
    • Lead generation
    • B2B lead scoring
    • Automating report generation
    • Campaign analysis
    • Prospective customer identification
  • Cybersecurity applications

Enhancing website performance

  • Review and forum moderation
  • Marketplace moderation 

Customer Experience

Website personalisation

  • Provides a customised experience for each visitor, tailored to their desires and needs, rather than a broad and standardised offering 
  • Converts visitors, engages and nurtures, increases retention
  • Data driven

Recommendation systems

  • Ideally suited to eCommerce, drives additional sales.
  • Improves customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • Requires both the breadth and depth of data to be effective

Personalised search

  • Customers using search usually know the product type they want and have the intention to purchase
  • Failure to provide relevant responses to customer search terms results in them leaving
  • AI-powered search engines combine search with machine learning capabilities to increase accuracy

With all of these areas able to draw on AI, it’s easy to see why it will have such a big impact over the coming years, providing businesses that engage with the technology a significant advantage over competitors that don’t.

If you’d like to discuss implementing AI solutions for your business, or for any other of your eCommerce needs, please don’t hesitate to click the button below to set up an obligation-free solutions consultation with one of The Playhouse Group’s specialists.

With decades of experience and as a certified Magento partner, The Playhouse Group can help your business maximise its online sales capabilities. Get in touch with our team and we can talk to you about this or any other eCommerce questions you may have.