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HOW OPTIMISED IS YOUR AWS INSTANCE?

Picture the scene. You’re running an eCommerce site on AWS and need to make sure you’ve got environments for Staging, UAT and Production to manage the day-to-day. Alongside that, you’re also working on an upgrade from Magento 1 to Magento 2, so need additional boxes to keep the work separate. To further complicate matters, you are also responsible for several small brand sites that all need to be in your AWS instance.

Before you know it, you’ve lost track. You have spun up servers and slowly forgotten why they were there but you’re too busy to spend the time working it out, so they stay running.

What happens? Your costs creep up and up, and 18 months down the line your bills are high, yet the site still slows down when you run an excellent marketing campaign.

The above scenario is typical of companies who both self-manage or use hosted AWS services. In Sydney recently, the Playhouse Group attended the AWS Summit. Our team spent a couple of days taking part in sessions and talking with attendees to understand how people approach their own instances.

Some key takeaways from the day –

  • Reducing your monthly costs is, in almost all cases, possible
  • Keep your internal documentation for your instances up to date to avoid losing visibility
  • Work with your Marketing Team to understand their promotional calendars to understand whether instances need to be large or just increase on key dates
  • Have Staging and UAT instances turn on/off via scheduling to save cash
  • Invest time into your AWS instance to ensure you’re getting value for money

We have been working with AWS for the past 4 years and as a partner we are kept abreast of their roadmap. There is no company globally that releases as many new products and product updates than AWS so keeping on top of the roadmap and what this means to you and your hosting cost controls can be challenging. Working with a partner with your best interests at heart will give you peace of mind. (Luke H , Online Strategy Consultant)

Click here to read one of our recent case studies for The Thorn Group on how monthly costs were reduced by over half.

If you want a retail solution that is going to propel your business both online and offline, then get in touch and we can help. Contact our team via our contact form below.

In the dynamic world of eCommerce, IT capability can outstrip a retailers’ ability to maximise the effectiveness of the tools they own or are about to select. Playhouse commercialises the eCommerce proposition for its clients and manages their digital journey in four key areas – Strategy, Design, Mentoring, and Implementation.

HELP YOUR WEBSITE TO CONVERT BETTER AND KEEP YOUR CUSTOMERS HAPPY

Do you know exactly how many clicks your customers need to make to locate and get a product through to your cart and checkout? With the rise of mobile eCommerce, making it quick and easy to get your customers through to the point of sale is essential if not imperative for the success of your online business. In this article, we take on the topic and help you to evaluate if too many clicks are actually reducing your online selling capabilities.

The Three-Click Rule
Essentially, this is a rule that all website designers should adhere to when planning out your website navigation. Customer or User Experience is all about making it as easy as possible for visitors and potential customers to your site or store to find and buy what they need. The three-click rule basically means that it should take them no more than three clicks to get to their precise point of interest. This is founded upon the theory that if it takes someone too long to find what they need, they will quickly lose interest, get frustrated, and move onto the next place to try and buy their goods or services.

Why Is This Important?
Typically referred to as the UX or UI, what the customer see’s when they view your website, and the experience they get will ultimately determine whether or not they choose to do business with you. A design review of your website will help you to get to the bottom of any issues and ultimately, it will allow you to reduce barriers to sales that might otherwise be going unnoticed in your business or on your website.

Get More Sales for Your eCommerce Business
Could improving your UX/UI be the key that unlocks more sales for your online store? We certainly believe that it can help you improve your online sales yes. However, you do not need to just take our word for it. Countless organization and studies have proven that by giving your customers what they need, quickly; can actually help improve conversion rates and give your customers a much better customer experience overall. There have been numerous articles, that state the alarming figure attached to abandoned carts. In 2015, this figure was at $5 trillion! By adding the element of simplicity to your website design and getting a design review, you could be one of the savvy e-commerce stores that capitalize on these fallout figures.

One-Step Check-Out
The checkout procedure is a fundamental element of your sales cycle. You have put in so much work and effort to get customers to this point, losing them here, just as they are about to buy, is disappointing, to say the least. However, it is probably just as frustrating for them as it is for you. Whether you are looking at Mobile Vs. Desktop or just one of those independently, reducing barriers to sales is a top priority. Implementing a one-step check-out can significantly heighten your conversion rates and reduce cart abandonment at the same time. The benefits of a one-step checkout on Magento are clearly documented and verified. By taking the time to optimize this process you will be able to secure more sales today, and also secure the future business of these customers by delivering a transparent, easy to use service that delivers to them what they need, without any hassle.

By reducing the number of clicks needed to get to the checkout point, you are giving your customers a quick, hassle-free way to buy your products will help you to convert more and gain more repeat sales as a result of the improved UI/UX.

If you want a retail solution that is going to propel your business both online and offline, then get in touch and we can help. Contact our team via our contact form below.

In the dynamic world of eCommerce, IT capability can outstrip a retailers’ ability to maximise the effectiveness of the tools they own or are about to select. Playhouse commercialises the eCommerce proposition for its clients and manages their digital journey in four key areas – Strategy, Design, Mentoring, and Implementation.

DELIVERING ON THE ENDLESS AISLE

What Exactly is an endless aisle kiosk?

An endless aisle kiosk is an extension of your retail store, but in the digital sense. These are in-store information kiosks that once in place, require very little physical input. They give your customers the ability to look at other products you might stock, which are not currently displayed in store.

  • It combines the convenience and experience of retail shopping, with the additional fulfilment benefits of shopping online. It will give your retail customers a better experience and the ability to choose from a wider range of products that your retail capacity will allow.
  • Endless Aisle allows your customers to order products online which they can later collect instore, at a time that suits them.
  • It gives them the assurance of knowing that a particular product is available at your store before they travel to buy it.
  • It can also provide additional help if there are any transactional issues with making the actual purchase of the product.

What are the benefits of endless aisle?

  • It can improve your retail customer experience
  • It gives your customers more choice and convenience
  • It can help you to sell more, using less retail space
  • Gives both customers and retail staff a resource for extended product information
  • Improve cross-selling results
  • It is a great way to capture leads in store
  • It is a convenient self-serve option that alleviates the pressures put on your retail personnel
  • Customers can get tailored advice and suggestions for products
  • You will maximise lost revenue from not having the right stock in store when it is needed
  • You can reduce physical inventory and reduce floor space while offering a greater choice of products

Hailed as the absolute answer for omnichannel retail solutions, endless aisle gives customers that feeling of instant gratification they expect when shopping today. It is the perfect marriage of online and offline retailing system capabilities.

Retail Giant Debenhams implemented Endless Aisle into their business model and reported that they had managed to ‘save’ more than £10 million in sales which would have otherwise been lost due to stock shortages and store inventory levels.

Our most successful implementations of endless aisle have involved Magento’s multi-site capabilities so your kiosk is just another website managed by your team. You have access to the same products, cms pages and banners which gives you operational efficiencies. Your coupon codes and promotions work online and offline. Your customers have a streamlined experience as they have access to saved credit cards, shipping and billing addresses. With the growth of payment methods like Apple Pay, Google Pay and Android Pay the one click pay (or tap) is regularly more efficient than standing in line. Whats not to LOVE! (Luke H , Online Strategy Consultant)

Investing in endless aisle for your ecommerce or retail business can positively affect your bottom line. We find it enhances the customer experience and alleviates some of the pressures placed on retail staff as customers are self-servicing more. Click here to see a recent project completed with the Thorn Group and their use of Kiosk for Radio Rentals.

If you want a retail solution that is going to propel your business both online and offline, then get in touch and we can help put an endless aisle strategy in place. Contact Barry via our contact form below.

In the dynamic world of eCommerce, IT capability can outstrip a retailers’ ability to maximise the effectiveness of the tools they own or are about to select. Playhouse commercialises the eCommerce proposition for its clients and manages their digital journey in four key areas – Strategy, Design, Mentoring, and Implementation.

AMAZON GO: THE AI-POWERED CHECKOUT-FREE GROCERY STORE

For decades, brick and mortar stores haven’t seen any paradigm shift in how they operate. A few years back, some stores tried introducing beacons that were supposed to provide assistance to shoppers but they were painfully restricted in their functionality and raised more problems than they solved.

With the introduction of Amazon Go, an artificial intelligence powered cashier-free grocery store, the standstill shopping model is about to change. Effectively Amazon Go is a walk-in, shop, walk-out model that enhances convenience by saving shoppers time.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Entrance – You can’t enter without a smartphone. You must have the Amazon Go app installed and decided which payment method you are going to use prior to shopping. Signing up on the app generates a QR code which is then scanned at the physical store’s entrance. After scanning, the system recognizes who you are and lets you in.

Shopping – When you pick things off the shelves, infrared cameras and sensors determine what you have picked up and add it to the cart. The system is smart enough to remove it from the shopping cart if you put any product back on the shelf.

As a result of the AI algorithms in place, Amazon Go is able to flag when a product needs to be restocked and identify where, in store, it belongs.

Exit – You walk out. Just like that. Amazon later sends you the bill and deducts the total amount from your Amazon account. No queues, no credit card swapping and no time wastage.

However, that isn’t to say that this new consumer model is not without its challenges.

The system in place (a mix of computer vision, deep learning and sensor fusion) starts to struggle as the number of people in the store increases. This was one of the reasons why Amazon Go was delayed in 2017 and despite overcoming the technical odds to some extent, the number of people in the store should not exceed 97 at any point for the systems to work properly.

The Amazon Go approach has also been criticized for the lack of direct human interaction. Conventional stores hire employees who offer personalized service and lend a helping hand if the situation demands. An employee-less store, while convenient, lacks human empathy and assistance.

Amazon Go is so far proving to be a successful experiment and this could lead to a revolution in how stores are managed in the future. Many technology pundits from highly acclaimed websites and publications were given early access to the checkout-free grocery store and all of them found it flawless, convenient and trouble free.

If the experiment works out smoothly and the signs are that is where it is heading, then Amazon plans to open up similar stores in other parts of the country. This will ultimately bring progress and convenience but will also put 3.5 million Americans in trouble who work as cashiers.

WHEN AUGMENTED REALITY GAVE VIRTUAL REALITY A BEATDOWN

Putting a qualifier before the word reality is dubious as it is but when we specifically talk about virtual reality, scepticism gets particularly pronounced. Why? This is because virtual reality isn’t reality at all. It is an alternate digital bubble that feels real but isn’t. That doesn’t necessarily mean it is inferior to other visual technologies, it’s just the applications will remain limited to certain consumer niches like gaming, the adult-genre and on-site interactive experiences.

That being said, augmented reality does not create an alternate world. Instead, it enhances the experience of the reality you are already in. This difference provides unique opportunities that virtual reality is not able to provide.

“My own view is that augmented reality is the larger of the two, probably by far, because this gives the capability for both of us to sit and be very present talking to each other, but also have other things visually for both of us to see,” (Tim Cook, CEO Apple)

Manageable/Portable Hardware
Currently, the hardware required to enable a virtual reality experience lacks a practical delivery method and can be quite unwieldy, forcing consumers to use giant and heavy headsets and at times tracking devices and complementing gadgets. In contrast, augmented reality can be experienced with far more portable hardware like Google Glass and to a lesser degree, like your smartphone.

Enhancing the World You Live In
Virtual reality experiences can be extraordinarily interactive and fun but they aren’t really grounded in the real world. On the contrary, augmented reality works in tandem with your existing reality striving to improve upon the overall convenience and quality of your life.

Workspace Advancement
Augmented reality is already shaping up to be a future of productivity with holographic workspace concepts being conceptualized and demoed. This will completely disrupt how we approach our work, since workspaces will become increasingly portable as stereoscopic 3D graphics eliminate the need for physical hardware.

Resume Your Life
One of the most crucial distinguishing features of augmented reality is its ability to keep you in your reality. Instead of creating a parallel universe, it simply augments what is already there. This allows you to stay connected to the world you are in and continue your daily activities without much ado. Having said that, if you are indulged in a virtual reality experience, that is all you can do.

As technology continues to advance the practical application of Artificial Intelligence, Augmented and Virtual realities will most likely blend into a “mixed reality” reducing the need for multiple devices. As it stands today, augmented looks to be the technology we’ll be using to enhance the world around us, and virtual will continue to provide a fun escape.

Consumer adoption is dictated by trends and reducing friction points. VR and AR are definitely trendy, but both have friction points that prevent mass adoption. The reality of VR in 2018 is the barrier to entry is still too high for the average punter. You need a dedicated space, headset, paddles, camera and computer with enough horse power for a reliable 4k VR experience. Whereas AR is available from my iPhone that is in my pocket. Friction points still exist for AR, but are much less of a barrier for the end consumer” (Luke H , Online Strategy Consultant)