Luke Hilton

View all authors posts further down below.

Understanding Seamless Omnichannel Experiences

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

Successful businesses are embracing an omnichannel approach to their cross-channel strategy.

The key distinction between omnichannel and multichannel is that the latter is focused on the product while the former is focused on the customer. Omnichannel strategy creates a consistent and unified customer experience for your brand regardless of where and how customers interact with it.

“Rather than treating channels as independent silos, omnichannel accounts for the spillover between channels and offers customer experiences within and between channels,” Shopify.com explains. “In essence, omnichannel removes the boundaries between different sales and marketing channels to create a unified, integrated whole. The distinctions between channels—onsite, social, mobile, email, physical, and instant messaging—disappear as a single view of the customer as well as a single experience of commerce emerges.”

Omnichannel is powered by technology and reliant on in to coordinate customer interactions with your brand. Previously, where it may have been acceptable for in-store purchases and offline marketing, for example, to occur in isolation, now customers expect each interaction to inform the other – something that has only increased with the acceleration of online adoption during the coronavirus crisis.

The core advantages of an omnichannel strategy are that it provides a clear and consistent vision of the brand, and it gives customers the information and interaction they want and how they want it, which increases customer acquisition and retention, and ultimately leads to an increase in sales. 

The Google report, Omnichannel shoppers: An emerging retail reality, concluded: “Omnichannel shopping presents a dramatic shift in how we think about retail, but it’s a change that comes with huge opportunity. Start your journey by understanding the specific traits of these shoppers. Get to know who they are and what propels them to shop online and in-store by using the tools that will help you measure online and offline purchases effectively across channels. Most important, give your customers what they’re craving: instant, relevant information no matter where they are or what device they’re using. Ultimately, though, it’s your team structure, incentives, and measurement that together support the common goal of attracting more loyal, valuable omnichannel shoppers. By focusing on their wants and needs, you’ll create a seamless shopping experience that’s more likely to drive sales across your organization.”

IDC predicts that half of all retailers have already adopted an omnichannel strategy, resulting in up to a 30% increase in profitability, due to higher revenue, and reduced costs of ownership, inventory, operations and promotions.

The Magento platform is geared to facilitating omnichannel strategy. With Magento Commerce and Magento Order management, you can:

– link in-store and online giving customers the option to buy online and pickup in-store, or to check inventory levels before leaving their homes

– centralise your global inventory and product sourcing, increasing efficiency, reducing costs and providing the best possible shopping experience

– grow your business through flexible order fulfilment, with stores, suppliers and partners effectively becoming mini distribution centres

Get in touch with our team and we can talk to you about this or any eCommerce questions you may have.

Artificial Intelligence and the Development of Chatbots

Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash

Chatbots are an increasingly important part of the online sales experience, enabling automated interactions with potential customers, providing everything from information like marketing videos to sales receipts, to upselling through different or complementary product recommendations. In short, they give a merchant a head start to generating revenue and removing barriers to sale.

Great news for Magento users is that you now receive a free live chat agent as part of the standard out-of-the-box offering. Adobe’s release notes for Magento Commerce 2.3.4 explained: “Live Chat powered by dotdigital enables merchants to increase conversion rates, and keep customers coming back with real-time engagement. All Magento 2.3.x merchants (both Magento Open Source and Magento Commerce) can receive a free live chat agent without the need for a full dotdigital Engagement Cloud license.”

Chatbots carry the advantage of not coming with the human frailties of tiredness, time off and mistakes, and they are able to act based on extensive data analysis. However, they are only as good as they are created to be. This is where Artificial Intelligence (AI) comes in. The object of AI is to effectively engage with potential customers in a way that maximises sales. As customers search for more personalised experiences, the quality of the AI behind the chatbots will have a significant impact on their success. 

What is unique about AI is its ability to make computers seem like they are human. This is done through a combination of machine learning and Natural Language Processing (NLP). Put simply, machine learning gets the chatbot to look at other interactions to determine which responses were most successful, while NLP helps it interpret human input and to provide output that is consistent with human expectations.

Without AI, a chatbot is just a FAQ lookup. But getting it wrong can leave customers feeling unvalued. “I can’t speak for all chatbot deployments in the world – there are some that aren’t done very well,” says Salesforce chief scientist Richard Socher.

“But in our case we’ve heard very positive feedback because when a bot correctly answers questions or fills your requirements it does it very, very fast… In the end, users just want a quick answer, and originally people thought they wanted to talk to a person because the alternative was to go through a ten minute menu or to listen to ten options and then have to press a button – that’s not fun and its not fast and efficient.”

As businesses look to scale, it is essential that their customer engagement can handle volatile volume demands, provide a broad scope of support across products and services, and is able to quickly respond to changes to consumer tastes. AI-powered chatbots assist businesses in meeting these demands.
Specifically in relation to retail and eCommerce chatbot use, the technology: improves the customer experience by quickly and accurately providing requested information such as product details, shipping costs and delivery times; enhances the shopping journey by offering personalised shopping advice to assist customers while on site to ultimately boost conversion and revenue; and personalises marketing communication by collecting and analysing information generated through conversations, to better understand the customer’s needs and preferences and to anticipate user behaviour with customised offers and marketing messages.

Get in touch with our team and we can talk to you about this or any eCommerce questions you may have.

Progressive Web Apps

Photo by Carlos Muza on Unsplash

The use of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) is expected to skyrocket through 2020, to the point where leading research and advisory company Gartner is predicting that come next year they’ll replace 50% of general-purpose, consumer-facing mobile apps.

Forrester Consulting found that last year the majority of worldwide web traffic had shifted to mobile devices. While these interactions have long been supported by existing technologies, PWAs are set to vastly expand this customer interaction, keeping pace with consumer expectations of lightning fast, app-like browsing experiences.

Analyst Jason Wong summarises: “Progressive web apps aim to disrupt the mobile app paradigm by bridging the web experience with native app functionality. Application leaders responsible for mobile app strategies must determine when — not if — they need to factor in PWAs as part of their overall mobile development strategy.”

PWAs are the next step. According to Jason Woosley, VP of Commerce Platform & Product at Adobe, “We have gone from static web pages to desktop web pages, and then to responsive mobile web pages… A PWA is the next evolution of this. It’s basically saying: there is no reason for you to even have a mobile application. You can do it all on the web.” 

Companies like Twitter and Starbucks are using PWAs to offer customers access to their services and things like push notifications, even when offline. “If you go to Starbucks.com, you can actually put their PWA on your home screen as an icon and use it exactly the same way you would the Starbuck’s app. You probably wouldn’t know the difference, and, in my opinion, it’s faster,” Woosley said.

Not only do PWAs ensure high-speed interaction, they also shield service delivery from the hazards of poor or non-existent internet connection, especially in emerging economies such as Africa or India, or importantly to us, in regional areas of Australia where connectivity is an ongoing issue. 

“With full websites or traditional apps,” Woosley adds, “you have to essentially scrunch down all of the information into your phone to send it along. With PWAs, you actually only deliver the assets that you need. This makes PWAs way better in terms of being a good citizen for low-bandwidth countries.”

An additional advantage of PWAs is their universal use across operating systems, like webpages, meaning that specialised iOS or Android code, for example, is not necessary. This is why PWAs are being so widely adopted for all new projects, especially on the commerce side of the house.

To address the growth in PWAs, Magento has created PWA Studio, a suite of tools for building online stores with app-like experiences that help merchants solve the mobile conversion dilemma and delivery highly personalised cross-channel experiences. The latest release of Magento, which dropped last month, has also increased Page Builder and PWA Studio compatibility, allowing content created in Page Builder to be rendered in PWA Studio’s Venia reference storefront.

Adobe explains, “With PWA Studio in Magento Commerce, you can transform the mobile experience and help merchants gain new customers, improve conversion rates, search rankings (SEO) and lower their development costs. PWAs use a variety of performance optimisation and responsive design strategies to load content fast on any network and thereby provide a consistent experience across desktops, tablets and smartphones.”

In short, PWAs deliver faster browsing, instant “app” gratification, push notifications, and rapid re-engagement. They are the future.

Get in touch with our team and we can talk to you about this or any eCommerce questions you may have.

Mastering Personalisation

Photo by Levi Saunders on Unsplash

Personalising products, services, and digital commerce is increasingly a key to creating a rewarding experience for the customer, but requires the right mix of data that goes beyond just demographic and behavioural information to what is genuinely personalised, relevant and in context. At the heart of this is understanding who the customer is and what the customer needs.

Think of how happy you are when you walk into a bar, are acknowledged by the staff, and they already know your favourite drink. It’s good for you, and it’s more efficient for them. Everybody wins. This is what personalisation is seeking to achieve online.

The days of forcing customers down a narrowly defined sales funnel, and expecting results, are over. “Personalisation is compelling for customers,” Vish Ganapathy, Managing Director and Global Retail Technology lead at Accenture said, “because a company has taken a process that can be tedious and simplified it to fit customers’ needs… Not only are customers satisfied with the results, but with each customer interaction, the brand gains insights into how to improve its product and targeted marketing techniques.” 

According to Janrain, over 74% of customers get frustrated with non-personalised promotions. However, it is essential to strike the right balance between being targeted and being invasive. “There’s a clear dividing line between smart, savvy, and cool, on the one hand,” Ganapathy added, “and intrusive and creepy on the other.”

Correctly implemented, personalisation will not only enhance the customer experience but also increase revenue. A report by Segment on personalisation showed that 40 per cent of United States customers bought something more expensive than originally planned, due to personalisation, while 49 per cent of customers bought something other than what they originally intended. Gartner analysts have predicted that by this year personalisation will “enable digital businesses to increase their profits by up to 15%.”

When implementing personalisation, here are six factors to consider:

– Segmentation

You need to know who your customer is. You need data on whether they are new or returning, what’s their location, what are their buying preferences and online behaviour. Tracking this information allows for individual product and pricing offerings. 

– Omni-channel Engagement

You need unified interaction across channels, providing a consistent customer experience regardless of how or where they interact with the brand. By combining offline and online data, where relevant, businesses can create comprehensive customer profiles that deliver better, personalised experiences across all touch points. 

– Machine Learning

Machine learning will increasingly assist retailers in personalisation, learning from customer behaviour to provide a personalised experience. The implementation of machine learning into real-time applications remains a challenge, but is the future and is achieving success with its implementation on platforms such as Spotify.

– Keep Shopping

When a customer is returning to your site, it is important that it lets them continue shopping where they left off. In the same way that Netflix lets you pick up halfway through the movie you were watching last night, eCommerce personalisation allows returning customers to rejoin their previous sessions seamlessly. 

– Personalised Pricing

This is an emerging trend in personalisation. By analysing customer buying behaviour, it is possible to anticipate price sensitivity and buying propensity. Feeding this information into your CRM allows for customised promotions and incentives to increase conversion rates.

– Smarter Recommendations

Social retargeting is a proven method of conversion. However, what is necessary are smarter recommendations. There is nothing worse than being served up countless ads for a product that you’ve already purchased, especially when the ads are coming from the retailer you purchased from. Personalisation avoids this and allows for the presentation of complementary ads.

Get in touch with our team and we can talk to you about this or any eCommerce questions you may have.

Headless Commerce Platforms

Photo by Igor Miske on Unsplash

Expect to hear more about headless commerce platforms in 2020. This isn’t something developed by Marie Antoinette, but rather the separation or decoupling of the front end and back end in the architecture of a platform. Ecommence applications built like this operate independently at either end and can be changed at one end without the need for reciprocal changes on the other.

Competing in today’s market means meeting current customer demands, and with a headless platform the front end can remain nimble to keep pace with emerging touchpoints and experiences without the headaches created by even simple projects in a traditional eCommerce model.

Building a headless commerce platform does take upfront commitment to create separate front and back end reliability, making it suited to larger enterprises, but once developed time is saved by the tech team as design and user interface is left to other departments, such as ambitious creative and marketing teams keen to test new and evolving front end ideas. And let’s be honest, most developers are not designers, and most designers are not developers, so the separation of the two tasks can only lead to improved performance on both ends.

The key benefits of a headless commerce platform are:

– Simplicity increases adoption

The front end can be updated without advanced developer skills, meaning more staff are able to easily access and update it, which results in a higher adoption of the technology and ownership by the staff.

– Quicker deployment

A traditional ecommerce model required the dev team prioritising either back end or front end changes depending on business needs.  This split focus slowed down the process. With the front end team now able to work independently, it frees up creative teams to quickly test and implement front end strategies.  Regardless of back end or front end you need to ensure your version control, branching strategies and CI/CD processes are in place for either development type.  Otherwise enjoy the kaos! 

– Saves time

Without having to enlist the IT team, the front end team can make changes to the user interface, freeing up the back end team to focus on more critical development work.

– Time to market

Due to quicker and low-cost deployment, businesses can stay on top of market trends with evolving front-end experiences.

Headless commerce platforms aren’t just good for business, but also enhance customer experiences. Customers want to experience a brand’s latest designs immediately, and with headless commerce platforms as soon as a business introduces new content on its front end, those updates are reflected almost instantly. Also, because businesses are able to control all of the elements that customers interact with, they can be experimental with and responsive to customer behaviour. Part of this is being able to deliver personalised experiences at scale.

Jason Woosley, VP of Commerce Platform & Product at Adobe, summaries: “If you’ve already made an investment in content, and now you need to make that content shoppable, the easiest way to do that is with a headless implementation… Every experience you provide a customer should be transactable so that every aspect of your website and every time you’re showing off this brand-new dress or this terrific new drone or new toys, you have got your shopper’s interest, and you are able to present an opportunity to purchase right then.”

Let them buy cake.

Get in touch with our team and we can talk to you about this or any eCommerce questions you may have.

Magento Commerce update

Photo by Clément H on Unsplash

The Magento Commerce 2.3.4 update has dropped, providing a range of fixes and new attributes to the platform designed to build engaging customer experiences. Here are some of the key highlights:

– Enhancements to Page Builder

Magento is making content a meaningful differentiator for merchants and has built on the capabilities of Page Builder, which it launched last March. Merchants are now able to control how their products are shown, sorted by product position in a category or list of product SKUs, or by predefined measures such as name, price, stock status etc. The products can be showcased either in static grids or in rotating image carousels. 

When using the Venia storefront theme in Page Builder, Magento optimises content in advance for better rendering. Additionally, unstructured content generated by Page Builder that is saved into a database is now converted into structured content. 

– Page Builder and PWA Studio Compatibility

There has been a rapid increase in the use of Progressive Web App (PWA) Studio for building headless storefronts over the past year, and Magento is making managing these PWAs easier for merchants. 

PWA Studio provides a foundation for developers to build, deploy, and maintain Magento-powered PWAs, and now content created with Page Builder can be rendered in the PWA Studio’s Venia reference storefront, bringing the power of Page Builder to PWA Studio-based storefronts.

Jason Woosley, VP Commerce Product & Platform, Adobe, said of the update: “An important step on the journey towards making PWAs a great solution for all of our merchants is the ability to edit content that will be presented in a PWA Studio frontend within Page Builder. We have brought these two powerful features together to enable speed to market across all devices and experiences.”

– Adobe Stock Integration

For merchants that don’t produce their own media assets, Magento has provided integration with its parent company’s Adobe Stock image library. Now images from Adobe Stock can be added to websites from within the Magento admin, streamlining workflow. This is the first integration of Magento with Creative Cloud and no doubt just the first of many to access the powerful Adobe suite of creative tools. 

To coincide with this Magento is offering merchants a free, one-time allocation of Adobe Stock credits in certain circumstances.

– Chat Powered by Dotdigital

Merchants can now get one free agent with the addition of Chat to the Vender Bundled Extension (VBE) from dotdigital, which was integrated into the platform with the 2.2.2 update. Chat agents can manage multiple conversations with customers and prospects, including sending and receiving files such as demo videos, marketing information, and receipts. Additionally, Chat is able to upsell customers by recommending different products or ones complementary to previous purchases.

Chat provides instant replies to inquiries, and when properly integrated with a merchant’s site can give a head start to generating revenue and removing barriers to sales.

Additionally updated with Magento Commerce 2.3.4 include the release of PWA Studio 5.0.0, improved GraphQL coverage for headless storefront development, improved B2B features, and a variety of performance, infrastructure and security enhancements and updates.

Get in touch with our team and we can talk to you about this or any eCommerce questions you may have.

B2B eCommerce Portals

Gone are the days of businesses faxing through stock orders and buying supplies in-store. According to Magento, these days, 93% of B2B buyers prefer to purchase online, with self-serve information, direct from vendors.

They want, and expect, 24-hour on-demand access, and an experience as smooth as that of B2C customers. That’s why an increasing number of manufacturers, providers and distributors are creating B2B ecommerce portals. The fact is that if you don’t give your buyers and clients an intuitive and effortless online purchasing experience, your competitors will.

In today’s crowded B2B marketplace, buyers demand an easy, intuitive online buying and account management experience that’s so good it feels like B2C. Experts agree, predicting B2B eCommerce sales will outgrow B2C eCommerce sales by 2020. According to researchers Frost & Sullivan

“Global business-to-business (B2B) eCommerce sales are expected to grow at an increasing rate and are predicted to reach over $6.6 trillion by 2020, surpassing business-to-consumer (B2C) valued at $3.2 trillion by 2020.”

What exactly is a B2B eCommerce Portal?

Simply put, a B2B portal is a website where B2B buyers can explore your digital catalogue and place orders online. It may be something as simple as a website with a login, or act as part of a larger platform that includes an app and secure portal. In fact, the only real difference between a portal and a website is that the information in the portal is secure and requires login information.

As we mentioned previously, today’s B2B buyer expects the same level of convenience they would get as a B2C customer, so this means mobile-optimised sites are a must. Already, 50% of B2B enquiries are made on smartphones, with the number expected to grow to 70% by 2020.

The same study by Google and BCG, found that “mobile can accelerate time to purchase by 20% by increasing efficiency in decision making and enhancing team collaboration, particularly in more complex purchases.”

What about B2B and B2C eCommerce websites?

As its name suggests, a B2B and B2C eCommerce website is an online site that lets you sell directly to both retail customers and B2B buyers. 

Thanks to the internet, businesses now have the ability to reach customers in every corner of the world. Because of that, you’ll see an increasing number of businesses selling to both customers and companies to increase their sales.

Some of these companies will use two separate channels – one for B2B and one for B2C. Originally, a lot of companies did this because the two markets were so different in nature. Amazon, for example, had two URLs for retail and wholesale customers. However, they found it too confusing and inefficient to manage, which is why you can now login as a business OR customer from the same page.

It’s more than just the URL though. Having an integrated B2B portal and B2C website (even if you aren’t currently selling to consumers right now) boasts an array of advantages over separate systems.

Find new clients and customers

By investing in a dual website that caters to both audiences, you’re accessing double the market size, simply by having an online presence. However, a great B2B portal will go a step further.  

For example, Magento Commerce allows you to nurture your existing customers with self-managed company accounts, the ability to track quotes and order histories, and manage their credit online. In addition it not only optimises your site for mobile but also offers B2C-tested merchandising, content management, and promotional capabilities for sourcing new business.

Full transparency across customers and stock

There’s nothing worse than when your systems don’t talk to each other. Online listings might not accurately reflect the stock availability in-store, while your staff might not be aware of your EDM promotions. It’s a recipe for miscommunication, mismanagement and misunderstandings.

Advanced B2B and B2C eCommerce websites will integrate your operations and orders across all channels, supplying customers and staff with accurate, real-time inventory updates. Some will even provide automated business rules that allow you to optimise your fulfilment costs and delivery times.

Respond to market changes quickly

Often, companies will be slow to respond to shifts in the market due to the amount of development involved. When your online customers expect an instant response, this delay can mean the difference between defeat and success.

Invest in an agile system that allows you to tweak your marketing and operations. Magento Commerce, for example, lets you assign custom catalogues and price lists to customers and target content and promotion to specific segments. 

Even if you are only serving B2B buyers right now, you should still  consider getting a platform that also handles B2C should you wish to expand in the future. Get in touch with our team today at hello@theplayhousegroup.com to find out more.

When an eCommerce site is not just an eCommerce site

According to the business coaching gurus, sales are easy!  All you do is just capture a lead, nurture that lead, make the sale and then get a testimonial. Job done!  

But what does it actually mean? Why does one brand have a cult-like following and another brand struggle even to make traction or sales?

How do you capture those leads in the first place to nurture them? And what is nurturing?  Do I invite them around to my house for a meal and a cuddle? I’m just trying to sell (insert product here ie newborn photography, plus size clothing, bridal dresses, pens etc)!!

The truth is, in today’s society, if you build it, they won’t come.  You need to start by building a community because more and more, people want their purchases to have meaning and they want to be part of something.

Aspirational brands help customers to belong

Look at Toms for example, they built their whole brand out of giving back.  So for every pair of shoes you bought someone disadvantaged would get a pair of shoes.  You purchase some shoes AND it made you feel so good about yourself, nice!

But more than that, they detail the stories behind your impact of buying shoes which shows you how you are making a difference and helps you feel like you belong to a community of people who want to create change.

TOMS has expanded into other causes

Harley Davidson have a Harley Owners Group section complete with member benefits and events.  Because people who love to ride are the ultimate in community.

Apart form membership, it provides Harley owners with local events where they can be part of the Harley community and many other tools and tidbits such as mileage recognition. All of this adds to the prestige of owning and riding their Harley amongst those who ‘get it’.

Harley understands its customers need to belong and their love of riding.

Sephora have one of the best communities of an omni-channel brand.  Sephora redefined how women shop for beauty products and created the Beauty Insider Community.  This ensures that their raving fans can join groups to connect with each other and follow topics of interest, they can ask questions of experts, browse the galleries and get inspiration, and score access to exclusive events.  Not to mention all their how-to videos and quizzes.

Sephora keeps its community engaged

So, whether you support a bigger cause like third world poverty or the growing concern of self-body image issues or have just created a brand synonymous with luxury or performance, when your customer feels part of a community there is power and loyalty in that.  So capturing and nurturing leads is about helping people to belong.

And loyalty goes well beyond a loyalty program when you have raving (mad) fans.  These are people who will line up for hours just to be first in line to get your new product and will keep you afloat in the tough times.

Your community and your website

Whether your business is based on helping others or is it about having others aspire to be like your brand, you need to create this reflection on your website where people can get involved.

Before you build your website, think about how you will represent this community experience and get your best customers involved on your website. And your eCommerce platform choice will be important here too because it will need to be flexible to allow you to represent your items for sale as well as your community and informational aspect.

It’s in this way that an eCommerce website is not just an eCommerce website anymore, and the more you can get your customers involved and part of your brand, the more you will have a customer for life.

If you want help discussing how you will reflect your community aspect on your website and help your customers to get involved and feel like they belong – just contact us on hello@theplayhousegroup.com

What good content does for your eCommerce Business

Online shopping is comfortable and incredibly convenient, so you think it’d be an easy sell. But there’s lots that retailers can do to sour the experience and turn potential customers off buying online. One of the most basic issues, is that it’s often harder to sell something when customers can’t access the physical object.

Sure, the convenience of online shipping and ability to compare prices is great, but this simple fact can be a sticking point. Think of it this way – have you ever held off on buying that suit online because you’re not 100% of the fit? Or maybe gone in-store to buy your laptop so you know just how heavy it is?  

Because of this simple point, you need to make your customer’s eCommerce experience more than just one of convenience (although that’s a necessity too).

Recreating the in-store experience

What your customers basically want is all the benefits of going to the shops themselves without actually having to do it. That means baking as much information and guidance into the item description as you possibly can – your customers want to know exactly what it would be like to hold your product in their hands. This means including key info like:

  • Multiple images with ability to zoom
  • 360 animation
  • Video of the product in use
  • Care instructions
  • Non-technical description of product
  • Specifications including weight, material, size, etc.
  • How-to guides and manuals
  • You get the idea…

It might seem like a lot of information to gather, but I promise you that it will make all the difference. What’s more, there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel for this – just communicate with your supplier to get accurate specifications and descriptions.

What type of information you provide will depend on the product category. For example, always make sure that you include a list of ingredients if you’re an online food retailer – after all, in-store, your customers can simply flip the packaging and read them there. If you don’t list the ingredients, people with food allergies or special diets will simply not buy because they don’t want to risk it.

Don’t scare your customers away with poor writing

It’s amazing how much a well-written product description can do for you. For a start, spelling and grammar mistakes make you seem dodgy and untrustworthy. But it’s so much more than that: customers actually rate poorly written and wordy content as the most annoying part of online shopping and the biggest reason for abandoning the products in their shopping cart.

Poor wording can also be a major source of ambiguity, which you want to avoid at all costs. If a customer is unsure about an important detail of your product, they’re either going to abandon the whole purchase, or they will try to contact your customer service, meaning that you will have to put resources into explaining to customers what should have already been clear from the beginning. For example:

  • Make sure that your online shop is easily navigable and separated into logical categories and give your customers the opportunity to customize their searches by including filters. Think of it as giving your customers the best of both worlds: you’re making sure to recreate the in-store experience of physically interacting with a product while at the same time offering all the convenience of being able to quickly search through hundreds of products to arrive at exactly what they want.
  • Provide both imperial and metric measurements: No matter where in the world you are selling, you might have customers who are used to a specific measurement system. This means you need to make sure to include both pounds (lbs) and kilos (kgs), as well as centimetres (cm) and inches (“).

  • Include sizing charts for clothing and accessories: Make sure to include size equivalents from all countries so that your customers have an easy way to assess the size they need to order without too much hassle.

  • I’ve often found that a medium in Store A can be a large in Store B or a small in Store C. If you want to really stand out from the crowd, include the measurements of each size (for example, a Small fits a woman 27” waist). Bonus points if you also have instructions on how customers can correctly measure themselves.

Trust and security

Online purchases can still come with a nagging feeling of distrust on the customer side, so it’s super important to convey a sense of security by incorporating content that makes your customer feel like they can trust you. This includes things like:

  • Clear refund and exchange policies. Let your customers know that if something DOES go wrong – they have options. This also protects your business by ensuring there are strict guidelines for what can be refunded or exchanged, and under what circumstances.
  • Trust badges are also an excellent way to convey trust.  A trust badge or trust seal is a symbol placed on your website that ensures your visitors know that you are legitimate and that all their data is collected securely. A trust badge can significantly increase conversions.
  • Reviews are another way to convey trust, as it provides the social proof that others were willing to trust your business and had a great experience or you can resolve issues quickly.

Create your standards playbook

Thinking through your content will also help inform your website design to ensure you have the best website possible for your products or services.

But once you have that design, it’s tempting sometimes to do things quickly rather than properly.

You may have an extensive set of products and categories, for example, so pimping out your product data may seem an overwhelming task. So break it down.

Some products and categories have higher margin than others. So, build a category matrix for each category and its rank from a sales and margin perspective. Then look at the minimum amount of product information each category needs from a product data perspective.

e.g. In order for a TV to be put live and saleable then it must have…

  • Front photo
  • Back photo
  • Lifestyle photo
  • Marketing spiel
  • Technical Specifications

Set standards for yourself and don’t budge.

Need a hand? At The Playhouse Group, we do this regularly, so don’t be shy and get in touch today!


It’s no surprise businesses love working with Magento. Built in PHP, this open-source eCommerce platform has, for many years, provided elegant and streamlined eCommerce solutions for retailers around the world. If your business is currently using Magento 1, however, you should be aware that as of November 2018, new features for the the program  are no longer being offered. What’s more, from June 2020, Magento 1 will no longer be supported. So, if you want to continue working with the best platform, you should seriously consider moving to Magento 2 now.

What is Magento 2?

Magento 2 was released in 2015 and, in my opinion, is a much sleeker and higher-performing platform than its older sibling. A common misconception many people have, however, is that this is a simple upgrade. Don’t get me wrong, Magento 2 will feel very familiar to administer but if you look under the hood, you’ll find a completely different engine. So, it’s not a case of pushing the “upgrade” button and bingo-bango-bongo!

Your design can be migrated, but it will need to be recoded as a Magento 2-compliant theme. Your team will need to rebuild any custom modules and re-purchase Magento 2 compatible versions of any commercial modules. If you’ve previously added any customisations, you’ll need to migrate those too. Now, I know this sounds like an immense amount of hassle but trust me, it’s worth it.

The benefits of Magento 2

Improved performance

One of my favourite things about Magento 2 is its improved page load times. The Magento team have installed a number of enhancements including:

  • Pre-integrated page caching (Varnish) and Ajax Cart for faster out-of-the-box performance with minimal tuning
  • Extensive backend improvements, including optimisation for PHP 7, for faster admin performance and support for more concurrent product and order updates
  • Master databases for key subsystems – including order management, product management, and checkout

What does this mean in plain English? Basically, your system will be able to handle more traffic and pages will load 30-50% faster, which means your site will be able to process more orders per hour, improve user interaction, and increase add-to-cart times.

Boosted conversions and sales

Everything about Magento 2 is geared towards creating a seamless path-to-purchase for your customer. And, considering mobile commerce continues to grow at a rapid rate, this improved usability is crucial. You can expect:

  • Responsive design reference themes for seamless multi-device shopping
  • New features including content staging and preview for promotion-testing  
  • “Elasticsearch” which supports 33 languages out-of-the-box, and is easier
  • Enriched product merchandising with the ability to add HD video content from YouTube and Vimeo
  • PayPal in-context checkout and saved credit cards, resulting in faster checkouts and easier PCI compliance

Streamlined backend for business users

Another feature I love about Magento 2 is their improved data views and filtering functionality. Always needing to refer to your developer can be a time-consuming process, but the new Magento Admin Navigation is perfect for just about anyone on your team. It includes:

  • Drag-and-drop tools to customise and save admin panel views of crucial product, customer, and order data
  • Step-by-step product creation tools, making it easier to manage new and existing product information
  • Improved product importing and exporting to support upsell and cross-sell products
  • Data safeguards that now allow multiple users to work on product data simultaneously

It’s time to make the switch

It might seem intimidating to make the switch to Magento 2 but the effort is well worth it. Furthermore, I encourage you to take this as a chance to overhaul your site and improve its overall business functions. In fact, this is exactly what we at The Playhouse Group did for our clients King Living and Taylors, resulting in significant traffic and sales increases for both!

Another factor to keep in mind is that a project of this sizes typically takes 4-6 months depending on the complexity of the site. In fact, it could take up to 8 months if you’re using this as an opportunity to completely overhaul your site, optimise your content, and add new features and functionality. When we account for the funding and planning stages, the time for you to look into moving to Magento 2 is now – I’ll even go so far as to say that if you haven’t started planning by mid-2019, then you’re falling behind the rest of your competitors.

I mentioned customisations earlier and I know you might be hesitant to move to Magento 2 because of the hassle of migrating these across. What I can tell you is you’re not alone. To quote a wise old sage (alright fine, I’m quoting An American Werewolf in London), “Stay on the path”. The upgrade path, that is. Look at using out-of-the-box functionality and commercially available modules before considering a customised or bespoke solution. I can all but guarantee that anything you are considering has already been globally rolled out in some way, shape or form. We can help you navigate these functions and reduce your customisations, so you won’t have to worry about expensive and time-consuming development updates in the future.

So, are you ready to take the leap to Magento 2? Get in touch with the team at The Playhouse Group and find out how we can help you improve your sales.