What goes into a successful checkout experience?

I was shopping for my favourite green powder drink the other day (yes I’m a health nut) with an online store that I was unfamiliar with. And when I didn’t get my confirmation email within a nano-second of hitting Place Order, I completely freaked out. You see, I didn’t know whether or not I could trust them yet and I’d taken a risk!

Online shopping is not new, and yet as we all know, not all online shopping experiences are created equal. And with cart abandonment rates which can run as high as 80%, how do you get someone to trust you and complete the checkout when they have never shopped with you before?

Well firstly, you have to remember that the checkout experience happens way before they actually reach the checkout. Just as you wouldn’t walk up to a stranger and ask them to marry you, you need to impress your customer through the entire experience, and then ask for the sale with an easy and fuss free checkout experience.

Let’s break it down.

Things you need to consider before the checkout page

  • Mobile first design – the highest abandonment rates of checkout occur on mobile phones, if they even get that far in to purchasing.  If your website and your checkout page are well designed and easy to navigate then you are further down the road than most.
  • Include a Shipping calculator – so customers don’t get an unexpected surprise in checkout. There’s nothing more frustrating than browsing through a store, choosing what you want, then heading to checkout and finding that shipping costs just as much as the products you want to order. Make it easy for customers to check shipping costs no matter where they are on the site, as well as offering multiple shipping options.  Unexpected costs in checkout is one of the biggest reasons for cart abandonment.
  • Similarly to shipping, make sure any extra fees and taxes are revealed early and before checkout. Your customers need to be able to calculate the total price before they get to the checkout pages. If your customer is shopping around for the best deal and suddenly discovers your price is just as much as everyone elses but you were being tricky about it – then you will lose trust, credibility AND the sale.
  • 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.
  • Reviews – if you have lots of great reviews from previous customers on your product pages or on your website, it shows a level of trust from others that helps ease the customers mind. It shows that you will do what you say you will do. This will translate to the checkout.
  • Provide quick, easy customer service options for when your customers are having difficulties checking out or need advice on an item.  These can be things like Live Chat or an easy to locate customer service number.

Where to next?

A successful checkout experience is as friction-free for your customer as possible.  Like we just talked about, if you have a well designed website with enough of the right content then your customer already knows exactly what they are buying, that they have the right size, has the social proof that you are reliable, knows how much it is going to cost including taxes and shipping and is confident of their purchase. So what else could halt their progress and cause them to abandon the purchase?

The checkout pages

Now, there will be people who are always looking for a discount and a coupon (and you may not be a discounting business), or just doing preliminary browsing research to buy it at some later stage.  But how do we keep the others and get them to feel confident enough to complete their purchase?

Now that we are at the checkout page, here are some things you need to consider:

  • Capture their email address as early as possible.  You may be losing up to 80% at the checkout page, but you can get around 15% back by capturing their email address and engaging an abandoned cart campaign. For those people who were just doing research to purchase it later, these reminders will be invaluable.
  • Take away the header and footer and remove any other distractions that will stop someone from completing the checkout.  Once someone has decided to make their purchase, your job is to make it as easy as possible. If they are distracted by unnecessary information then you are complicating the process.
The Checkout Page for OPSM
  • Make sure you have security and encryption in place so a customer feels comfortable sharing their personal and credit card details. You know that little lock symbol in the URL bar? That’s a clear sign to customers that any information they send across is protected by SSL certificates. And, in this day and age when everyone is so concerned about data reaches, this is definitely a must.
  • 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.

  • Partner with trusted affiliates. I always feel better when I see that a company offers payment through PayPal because I know that I am now also protected by PayPal’s rigorous returns policy if anything goes wrong. Partnering with known and verified companies helps bolster the authority of your own business – so bask in that reflected glow!
  • Offer a choice of payment methods. Even how we pay needs to have a variety of options these days because everyone has the method that they like to pay by. These can be things like credit card, Paypal, or Afterpay.
  • Consider where you place, and what you call your coupon code box.  If someone has a coupon code you want then to be able to find it. Also, there are some people who will abandon ship to find a coupon code just because they see a coupon code box and, if they can’t find one, end of sale.  This bargain hunter just may not be your ideal customer anyway (or a loyal one) but it is still worth considering where you put the coupon code box and maybe think of other names for it like “gift code”, so it implies that not everyone gets one.
  • Offer a range of delivery options. Offering same-day or next-day delivery in Metro areas is fast becoming the norm for those companies that truly want to compete.  Offering Express options for a premium and other options at a reduced price or even free can really seal the deal with many customers.
  • Consider offering Click-and-Collect services. Sometimes you just want to secure your items and then pick them up when you are ready. Offering click-and-collect services through stores or Parcelpoint is again becoming the new normal. Remember though, that your customers are expecting immediacy.  If it takes three days for their order to be ready it would have been easier for them to come in and shop for it themselves and takes the convenience and cost saving out of click-and-collect. So make sure before you offer it, you are set up to deliver it.
  • Don’t make your customer create an account. Look, if I don’t know you, and if I haven’t shopped with you before I don’t want to suddenly be your best friend.  The truth is, I may never buy from you again. Having to create an account at checkout is also one of the biggest reasons people abandon their carts. Let people warm up to you, and then give them a reason to create an account like a loyalty program. Once they love and trust you, then creating an account with you makes sense.
  • Keep it simple stu…ahem. If you have a long and complicated checkout process you will lose people. Make the experience as uncomplicated as possible. Ask yourself, for every field you have, if you 100% need to collect that information. That way you can be absolutely sure the information is serving a real purpose and will keep the form as short as possible.  The less fields you have the easier it is to get to the end of the checkout.

Unsure whether or not your checkout is converting well?  Maybe try some A/B testing or contact us at The Playhouse Group, so we can check out your checkout!  See what I did there?

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!


We’ve all heard it and we’ve all done it.  Uttered those words “I just don’t have TIME”.  

“What are we going to buy Jeff for his birthday, I don’t have TIME to go to the shops.”  “Let’s do an online grocery shop darling, I just don’t have TIME to get to the supermarket”.

With the advances in eCommerce, our portable buying machines (your mobile phone), and with time becoming even more of a precious commodity, a dark cloud has loomed over bricks-and-mortar retail stores for a while that has meant those still standing have needed to reinvent themselves and do things smarter.

With the advent of marketplaces like Amazon, fitting in ‘shopping’ with our modern overrun lives just makes the convenience of buying things online so appealing.

But now it seems, that the smartest of retailers are turning the mobile phone into their bricks-and-mortar friend and embracing the benefits it has to offer using in-store apps.

While some are still struggling to embrace the omni-channel approach, those who have done it wisely are really reaping the benefits.

So why do in-store apps work so well?

The simple reason is, in-store apps create a more personalised experience for your customer and the more you know about them the more you can personalise that experience.

Starbucks for example, understood the time poor worker and made an app so you can order and pay online and beat all the queues – then all that is left to do is pop in and pick it up from the counter.

Beacons and geo-tagging are a great way to know when your customer is near or in-store and can be used to provide tantalising discounts or reasons to enter the store.

So perhaps you can imagine your customer walking towards their favourite product in-store and just as they are about to reach it, they get pinged with a special for 10% off!  YES PLEASE!

Customers most commonly use in-store apps to find coupons, redeem digital coupons in-store or even to locate sale items or in-store discounts. They also compare prices and view product ratings and reviews.

Store layouts are also a great opportunity to include on an app.

Similarly, using beacon locaters to know when someone is in store for a click n collect or a return is totally invaluable.  You could be getting things ready before they even reach the counter.

Making your loyalty program a part of the app is a no brainer.  Not only are they pinged sales items that you know interest them, they can then see if they qualify for further discounts or free items based on their loyalty points!

However, all this is just the tip of ice-berg for the opportunity for in-store apps and it is really limited to our imaginations.

Why not have a chat-bot built right into your app so that someone can scan the item they are trying on in a change-room and request a new size be brought to them instead of having to try and call for and track down a sales assistant?  Just one idea.

The thing is an in-store mobile app can create a really personal experience for your customer which in turn promotes loyalty.  So working out how to create a true ‘experience’ for your client is totally worth putting your thinking cap on for and one that your customers will actually venture OUT for.

Apps have the opportunity to totally disrupt the way business is done right now and continue to evolve our shopping experience.

If you want to continue to innovate your business, talk to us at The Playhouse Group.

Bonus material

Here are two fun ways that apps have been used to create a real ‘experience’ for shoppers.


Hointer totally reinvented the shopping experience.  They have one item of each product on display effectively reducing the need for floor shop space and creating mini-warehouses out the back. You shop by scanning the barcode of the item you want to try via an app on your mobile or tablet.

Your items are then picked from the warehouse and delivered (via robot) to your dressing room within 30 seconds. With this kind of experience, people generally try on more items and buy more clothes. Plus it is a very easy experience. No trying to flag down an assistant whilst half-naked because you got the wrong size!  

Whatever you don’t want goes down the shoot and the rest stays in your shopping cart which you pay for with a swipe of your credit card.


The Swiss supermarket, Migros, used a Discover feature on their mobile app. Users can scan any of the 5,000+ products in the store to access product information, real-time ratings and reviews, recipes, and nutritional values.

This creates a range of cross-promotional opportunities that mean consumers leave with more items than they originally intended.


It’s no secret that consumers have come to expect that they can buy products straight from brands with just a simple click these days. According to one market report, eCommerce sales are expected to account for more than $4 trillion in the US by 2020, making up almost 15% of all sales.

Adding a direct-to-consumer digital sales channel isn’t just a boutique marketing strategy anymore – it’s the new normal. However, if you haven’t set up a clear retail eCommerce strategy yet, don’t panic –  it’s not too late! Starting a project like this isn’t just something that can be completed overnight, and there are a number of factors you need to consider first so that you can do what’s best for your brand.

The benefits of a direct-to-consumer channel

One of the biggest advantages of selling straight to shoppers is that it offers better margins. By not having distributors and other middlemen, brands can now claim the entire difference between the cost price and the selling price. Since you’ll be selling your products at a price similar to that of what bricks and mortar shops would, higher sales margins can be expected.

Another potential benefit of going direct is that it can mean better sales overall. Many consumers now prefer the ease of shopping online to going to an actual store, and even those who do go to physical stores tend to do their research online beforehand. Having eCommerce functionality doesn’t just make things easier for your brand; it makes it easier for your customers to purchase exactly what they want, resulting in higher sales.

Of course, an underappreciated aspect of launching a direct-to-consumer channel is the chance to establish a direct relationship with a customer. The firsthand consumer data gathered through this approach can be used to streamline and optimise their shopping experience, potentially improving brand loyalty and their lifetime value. In addition, the ability to give feedback straight to your brand – as opposed to a salesperson in a physical store who may or may not be personally involved in your brand – means that you can easily and quickly address any issues they raise.

The challenges in going direct

It’s crucial to keep in mind that going direct to consumers isn’t an instant, guaranteed success if you don’t invest in the right infrastructure. Building the right technology foundation is necessary for supporting a customer experience that runs smoothly and predictably. A thoughtful operational strategy is key for your backend systems and logistics to be able to handle order placement and fulfilment, payments, shipping, returns, and customer service. In addition, having the capability to ship single items from a warehouse, as opposed to an entire crate, is something that you’ll need to address.

Providing great customer support is an element of going direct that can’t be overlooked. Remember – your competitors have been doing this direct-to-consumer thing a lot longer than you, so you’ll need to go the extra mile. Your call centre staff will need systems to easily check on the status of an order, check if a product is in stock, process refunds and address customer complaints. Customers expect to be able to contact you via phone, email and Live Chat.. and they should be able to. These are all qualities that can ensure the direct-to-consumer experience is a satisfying one.

Despite these challenges, the benefits of going direct-to-consumer are too great to pass up. By instituting the right technology, practices and partners, you can position your brand to take advantage of this growing demographic and succeed into the future.

Want to establish your own direct-to-consumer sales channel but aren’t sure just where to start? Not a problem! Just drop a line at hello@theplayhousegroup.com.


Your business is booming and you’re seeing loads of sales from new customers. You’re doing well, but could you be doing better? My honest answer is… yes. Now that your business is established, your goal is to turn those new customers into repeat customers. The fact is that most businesses get 80% of their revenue from 20% of their returning customers. Before we continue, let me hit you with some quick stats:

  • Loyal customers buy more often
    The likelihood of purchase increases each visit from 27% to 45% to 54%.
  • Loyalty customers spend more
    A repeat customer will typically spend 3-5 times more than a new customer.
  • Loyal customers refer more business
    A customer who has purchased from you 10 times refers 3 times more people who then convert 7 times higher than traditional paid campaigns.

Do your customers have a reason to be loyal to your business? While you think about it, let me tell you that after years of working in the industry, I know that an exciting and robust loyalty program is the best way to gain and retain customers.

The next question is, what kind of program is best for your business? Look at what you are trying to achieve with the program and set up key benchmarks that align with your goals.

For example, you could measure:

  • Sales revenue
  • Average order value
  • Customer lifetime value
  • Purchase frequency
  • Cart abandon rates
  • Customer retention rates

Once you’re clear on your KPIs, you can look at the type of program that will best achieve your needs.

Types of Loyalty Programs

1. Points Loyalty System

This program suits businesses encouraging frequent short-term purchases like cafes, pharmacies, or massage parlours. It’s great because it encourages repeat spending by working towards a goal. However, be careful of discouraging customers if the number of visits/purchases needed is too high.

2. Loyalty Card Program

If you want to inspire frequent, high-value purchases, then this is the program for you. This type of program is common with larger chains like Coles, Woolworths, and Myer. Members feel special when they get access to exclusive discounts, coupons and points – just make sure they remember to bring their card with them!

3. Cash-Back Loyalty Program

For businesses that want to encourage frequent, high-commitment shoppers, then rebate/cash-back programs are the way to go. A well-known rebate program that you probably know about is FlyBuys. If you use it, you’ll understand that these sorts of programs are easy to understand but expiry dates on points and lack of instant gratification can be off-putting to many.

4. Mobile Loyalty Program

A mobile loyalty program is where all businesses should be heading, in my opinion. A lot of innovative businesses (Sephora Insider, Starbucks and AMEX Plenti Rewards) are adopting this tech – and it’s no surprise when you consider the amount of data and insight it gives you.

It’s time to go mobile

It’s 2019 and although many businesses still use physical loyalty cards (or even those punchcards they used to have at Starbucks), the days of these wallet-stuffers are numbered. At The Playhouse Group, we’re seeing an increasing shift in the market, with companies migrating from printed cards to cloud-hosted system and eWallets.

The cloud-based loyalty space is crowded and is growing rapidly. That’s why it’s crucial that you step up your game with a solution that covers your customers both online AND offline.

We’ve recently run RFI’s for clients like ILR and Camerahouse to help future clients (like yourself) make an informed purchasing decision. So, what are you waiting for? 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.


One thing my clients always tell me is that they worried about choosing the “right agency” to partner with, before meeting The Playhouse Group. Selecting a vendor is an important decision, particularly if your project is likely to last a while, so you want someone who is not only knowledgeable but who you also get along with. The fact is that when you choose the right agency, everything will just seem to “click” and you’ll find your job a lot easier than it used to be.

Evaluating your project

Before even thinking about agencies, it’s crucial to look at the nuts and bolts of your project. Just a few things to consider are:

  1. Your project goals: What are you trying to achieve? What are your KPIs? Do the different stakeholders have varying expectations for the project? What will you use to measure the agency’s success? Will you require ongoing support? How will this scale?

  2. Scope and requirements: Your business should already have data on your customers like their personas, behaviours, likes and dislikes so take the time to map out your user journey. Using all the information you have available, consider what features are necessary and build your scope from there.

  3. Operation mode: Decide whether you’d prefer the 24-hour access of an international business, the benefit of a face-to-face local company, or something in between. Similarly, think about whether you would prefer the project to be delivered in short stages, run different tasks simultaneously, and how much input you wish to have.

  4. Your budget: As much as we’d all like the CFO to approve an unlimited budget, that’s not always possible. Use pricing as a guide for what agencies are including in their scope, but also be aware of the level of service your budget can realistically purchase and adjust your scope if necessary.

Evaluating the right partner

Once you’ve fully mapped out the requirements of your project (and trust me, the agency that you end up choosing will thank you for doing this), it’s time to pick a partner. You will have some questions which are specific to your project, but generally speaking, we recommend considering the following:

1. The Staff

Find out about the size of their team and the level of experience of the people who will be working on your project. Are the developers officially certified and authorised to work with the software? Are they partners with reputable providers such as Magento, Salesforce or Acquia? If they are partnered with external providers, do they receive regular training? Are they aware of all updates and improvements? In short – are they good at what they do?

For example, at The Playhouse Group, we make sure all members of our team are fully certified on a variety of platforms, and attend monthly training sessions to keep us on our toes.

2. The Quote

I mentioned earlier that it’s important to look at pricing and be realistic. If the proposal you receive seems financially unviable, it’s worth asking them if they have varying rates for projects vs ongoing support. Personally, if I like a client, I’ll work with them to come up with a solution (even if it means working on smaller portions over a longer period of time) because I want them to get great results.

Also, always check the statement of work. I can’t count the number of horror stories I’ve heard about where the quote seemed unrealistically low (it turns out a lot of things were not included in the scope) or astonishingly high (the scope contained all these extra features the client had never asked for).

3. The Experience

How big is the team and how long has the company been in business? If an agency has been around for a while, chances are they will have developed strong relationships with providers and developers, which means a much smoother project for you.

That said, don’t just take their word for it. Ask to see examples of case studies, testimonials and client lists. You wouldn’t give alcohol to a minor without checking their ID, so why would you hire a company without checking their experience? That’s why we publish all of our case studies on our website – so you can see that we know our stuff.

4. The Back-Up Plan

Despite all your planning and research, there’s always the chance that something can (and will) go wrong. How does your agency handle a crisis? Find out how they handle customer data (in terms of security and compliance), and the level of support and response time offered in your SLA. In the worst case scenario (someone hacks your website and takes it down), what is their plan in terms of rolling back the website and data recovery?

The Ultimate Test

When it comes down to it though (and if you’re really struggling to decide between two agencies), I like to conduct the beer test. Basically, you’re looking for a partner you’d be happy to sit down and grab a beer with. If you can’t do that, then how can you expect to work with them for the next year?

On that note, why not test us out? Just get in touch with our team today – the drinks are on us!


Last week, I travelled interstate to meet with a client. I’ve made this journey several times and I always use the same hotel every time. Why? Because from the booking process to check-in, to my stay and check-out (and even when I haven’t been there), they’ve always remembered me. Now, I know the hotel has all this information stored in their internal CRM systems, but when the receptionist asks me what I’ve been up to since my last visit and tells me that they’ve reserved the same room for me, it feels great. I feel valued and appreciated, and that the company sees me as more than just a source of money.

It’s like when my friends remember my birthday!  Okay, Facebook probably reminded them as well; but it still feels great when people know who you are and act on the information that they have about you.

This is the sort of feeling you want to instil in your customers. Everytime your customer has a touchpoint with your company as they decide to purchase a product from you, you want to ‘remember them’.  This is called personalisation in the path to purchase.

The benefits of personalisation

Before we jump in, I want to emphasise that the whole point of personalisation is to make life easier for your customer. Rather than wasting their time starting from scratch each time they interact with your business, we recommend keeping a “Golden Record” so that you have all the customer’s information on hand for easy reference. In fact, a study conducted by Salesforce found that:

  • 57% of consumers are willing to share personal data in exchange for personalised offers or discounts
  • 52% of consumers would share personal data in exchange for product recommendations
  • 53% would do the same for personalised shopping experiences.

I’ll even go a step further and say that personalisation is not only needed – it’s expected. According to a consumer content survey conducted by Adobe:

  • 67% of respondents said it’s important for brands to automatically adjust content based on their current context
  • 42% of respondents said they get annoyed when their content isn’t personalised
  • 66% of consumers said that this would stop them from making a purchase.

So, how do you create a truly personalised experience for your customer?

Examples of personalised content

  1. Email marketing

    All email marketing platforms give you the option to personalise emails and include details like your customer’s first name, last name, birthday, location and more (depending on what information you gathered in the first place). Use this to customise your emails by addressing your customer by name, offering deals based on their location, or recommending new products based on previous purchases.

  2. Product recommendations

    First done by Amazon but now seen in eCommerce shops everywhere, product recommendations based on your browsing/purchase history. Not only is this great for customers as they now have a curated wardrobe, but also for your company (since Business Insider says this kind of personalisation can increase sales by up to 10%).

  3. Geo-targeting

    Most eCommerce websites will have some element of geo-personalisation when it comes to delivery methods, but you can use geo-targeting for so much more. Make things simple for your customer by giving them the closest option for in-store pick-ups, repairs, and available stock.

  4. Continue the experience in-store

    If your business has a bricks and mortar front, make sure the customer experience bridges both online and offline. This includes everything from customer loyalty programs and dedicated click-and-collect desks to more advanced forms of tech like RFID, branded apps and beacon technology.

A step-by-step example of a customer’s path to purchase and how it can be personalised

Here we will walk you through what could happen in your customer’s path to purchase. We will call our customer Betty – as that is a good name. And then we will illustrate how you can personalise that experience for your client. Each touchpoint builds on the last one. Here we go…

Betty gets an email from your company – you should know your customers purchasing habits. What has Betty purchased from you in the past? For example if she has bought a Nintendo Switch, you might want to send an email upselling a game and an extra controller.

Betty goes to your website but doesn’t complete her purchase – Send an email to Betty to remind her that she hasn’t completed her purchase, and then send a follow-up email 48 hours later with a discount for continuing her purchase OR retarget Betty with those products in banner advertising.

Betty is scrolling through Facebook later that day – you can set up retargeting campaigns to make sure Betty sees an ad, not only for your company, but for the exact product that she was looking at on your website. Maybe you are even offering 10% off!

Betty is back on your website and clicks to chat – Betty has decided to check if she will get the extra controller in time for a party she is having on the weekend. You should know exactly what Betty is looking at and if it is in stock so you can advise her the best option to get her controller in time.

Betty continues her research on mobile – You can see that Betty is no longer on her desktop and is now on her mobile. You have made a seamless transition for Betty with your responsive website, and made sure her intended purchases are still in the basket waiting for her to check out.

Betty is on a product page – Betty decides to look one last time at the product page to make sure she is choosing the right contoller.  She also notices a game that she really wants to try in your Cross-Sell options.

Betty decides to Click & Collect – Based on the advice Betty received on her click to chat conversation, she decides to Click & Collect her items from the store near her work.

Betty picks up the product from store – Betty walks into your store and you immediately know she is there. You have a loyalty program, an app with location sensitivity, and beacons that let floor staff know she has arrived. Betty makes her way to the Click & Collect counter and her products are all bagged up and ready to go. All the common accessories and consumables are available at the Click & Collect desk so upsell upsell upsell!

The product breaks and Betty calls your customer information line – The operator, from one or two questions, knows they are talking to Betty. They know  her purchase history and immediately inform her how she can either get the product fixed, replaced or refunded.

Betty goes into a different store to get it fixed or to get a refund – Your staff greet Betty as they are expecting her. With just a couple of simple questions, Betty is provided with a refund or, a time when she can return to pick up her fixed product.

As you can see, regardless of how you choose to interact with your potential customers, it’s clear that personalisation is necessary to surviving in the digital age.

Personalisation is built into all of our projects and we can talk about this topic at length. But really, all you need to know is that we’ll create a strategy that lets you connect with your customer at every stage of the buying cycle.

Get in touch with our team for a free personalisation health check.

Bonus material

Luke’s Tips to Fast-Track Your Personalisation Success with Magento 2:

Like your iPhone, Magento 2 has an app store and you can easily add a POS module that means you have a completely integrated POS that is tightly integrated with your eCommerce website.

Why is this good you ask?

  1. You can search in your POS and see all your online and instore customers – they become one and the same
  2. Any online or instore purchases are saved in the same location
  3. Your coupon codes work online and instore
  4. It becomes much easier to roll out Click & Collect and Ship-From-Store.

If you have a physical POS and are considering renewing it, then get in touch as my rants are much more personalised in person.


Open 24 Hours Neon Sign
Open 24 Hours Neon Sign

It’s 2019, and if you haven’t upgraded your systems to include a B2B eCommerce site, then now is the time.

The thing is, your consumers are changing. You may have been in business for 100 years and have a good reputation but if you don’t change with the times your consumers will find easier means to purchase the things that they want.

More and more your consumers are going to be millennial who have grown up with technology and don’t just want it, they expect it. In fact, 89% of B2B research takes place online*.  So, if they can’t find you online and can’t purchase it online, in coming years, then they probably won’t.

Reaching more potential businesses and growing your customer base

One of the biggest advantages of having a B2B website is the ability to be more visible and have greater reach – which essentially means reaching and acquiring new customers more easily and increasing your customer base and bottom line.

The facts remain, B2B eCommerce sites have higher order values and higher conversion rates (10%), than B2C sites (3%)* so your marketing dollar goes a long way online in attracting new customers.

And the biggest advantage is that it is 24/7, 365 days a year, not just at the stands at the local trade show twice a year.

Communication is enhanced with an eCommerce solution

If you set-up your systems right, communicating with your customers will also be much easier.  

With a B2B website, your customers will have clear visuals of exactly what they are purchasing, know what is in stock and potentially, for popular sold out items, when it will be back in stock. They can do this at any time of the day or night. Meaning you could be making money after hours not just from 9am-5pm. Who doesn’t like making money while they sleep?

Your customer will also be inputting all their details and will receive clear instant invoicing, cutting down the need for many manual processes.

You will also be able to easily create campaigns for stock on-sale which encourages stock turnover.  Your product pages also create the opportunity for a cross-sell or up-sell – which a plain spreadsheet ordering form doesn’t.

Faster order fulfilment

A B2B eCommerce website also allows for faster order fulfilment with cloud-based eCommerce systems.

Old complicated purchase order forms make it almost impossible for your customer to know exactly what they are purchasing, let alone what is still in stock. We’ve had a client tell us it is almost a wing and prayer to order stock from some companies and see what turns up that month.

The manual labour involved in then having to decipher the form at the business end, fulfill the order with pick and pack and get it all off to the right address in a timely fashion is next to impossible.

Changing to an online eCommerce system doesn’t have to be daunting – in fact, it can be exciting and change the efficiency with which you do your business and allow you more time to work on your business more effectively.

A change to an B2B eCommerce system can provide a seamless platform from ordering, payment, confirmation, shipping and tracking.

Get ahead of the competition

Not everyone is embracing the change to doing business online, so you have the opportunity to get ahead of the competition, improve your business operations and work through any teething issues well in advance of it becoming a complete necessity.

Some other pros and cons

Not having a B2B eCommerce site
Having a B2B eCommerce site
Difficulty in reaching potential
customers in a timely fashion
losing out on customers and sales
Stay ahead of the competition and
reach more customers all year
round where your customers are
searching for you
Complicated ordering forms that
don’t allow customers to see how
much it is all going to cost

Being able to cater to millenials (aswell as other clients who might
prefer the old-fashioned ordering
No real visual for the customer of
what they are purchasing
Customers know exactly what
products they are purchasing and
how much it costs
More customer and office manual
Ensuring that clients can
self-service at any time of the day
or night
Having to call customers when
items are out of stock
Up-to-date stock levels online so
your customers always know whatyou have on hand
Having to call customers to advicewhen stock will be inClear catalogues so the customer
can actually see what they are
purchasing instead of guessing
Limited knowledge of stock levels
and how they are selling in real
Less manual errors for the business
Separate payment systemsAutomated confirmation emails to
the client of exactly what was
Manual notification of shipping
and tracking or not advising your
customers at all
Transparency of service
No transparency of serviceGreater ability to communicate anddevelop relationships with your
consumer base.
More room for error to creep in
with all the manual processing
Makes business operations more
Lack of communication Up-selling and cross-selling

The benefits of having a B2B eCommerce site are too high to be ignored – in fact, with the way things move it could just mean you start to see a serious downturn in your profits in the coming years.  If you aren’t constantly innovating in the digital space then you are running the risk of being out of business entirely.

If you want to stay ahead of the game and seriously talk about getting your B2B business online then talk to The Playhouse Group.  You can also check out some of the work we have had the pleasure of completing with B2B businesses such as Taylors and ADMA.  Call us on +61 2 8096 3469 today  for a free consultation to discuss your needs.



You’ve finally received approval from your CEO to start building the new eCommerce website your company so desperately needs. After months of discussion and proposals, it’s time to start looking at vendors to build (or rebuild) the new site.

Here at The Playhouse Group, the most common complaint we hear from our clients is that their previous agency “didn’t meet the brief” or “didn’t deliver on expectations”. As a manager, it’s probably something you hear quite often as well. The fact is that the most common reason projects fail, don’t deliver as envisioned, or take longer than expected is because of poor briefs.

The entire purpose of a brief is to give your agency as much information as possible. However, it’s important to give the right information in the right way, so you get the results you want. After a decade in the industry we have honed in on the most important things to consider when writing a good brief.

1. Know your objective

In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a supercomputer revealed that “the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42.” The problem is, nobody knew what the question was.

The same concept applies to your brief. If you want a meaningful solution, you need to be clear on the problem you’re trying to solve. Sit down and define your business objectives and what you want to achieve, taking the time to ensure they’re measurable (so you also have benchmarks to judge the success of your project). Some common objectives we see are:

  • Offer a better Customer Experience
  • To increase ecommerce sales from x to y
  • To increase ecommerce conversion rate % from x to y
  • To increase average order value from x to y
  • Increase Click and Collect orders from x to y
  • Grow email subscribers from x to y

2. Get granular

As the person driving this website project and the person with the most valuable insights about your business, it’s important that you outline your expectations. It can be tempting to make excuses like “they are the experts they should know what we want” or “I’m too busy” but doing so is just going to cause delays and frustration in the long run.

What’s more, the more detailed you can be in your brief, the easier it will be to compare proposals from different agencies, letting you make a more informed decision. So, what sort of details should you include in your brief? Ask yourself questions like:

  • What support model do I need from my digital agency?  E.g. Full service (I do nothing), partial service (I do the day to day and agency does the heavy lifting), self service (I do everything)
  • Who is my target audience and what are their personas?
  • How much website traffic do I expect?
  • How many categories and products will I have?
  • How many orders will I have?
  • How many breakpoints? e.g. Mobile, Tablet and Desktop
  • What features will it have?
  • What are the integrations?
    • ERP
    • Email Marketing
    • Search
    • Payment
    • Social
  • What data do I need to be migrated?
  • What are my Must-Have’s, Nice-To-Have’s and items that can be deferred to a later phase?
  • What is my timeline and budget?

3. Take it in stages

If you expect to have a large or complex website, it’s worth considering breaking your project up into different stages. This is especially the case if you have multiple goals or audiences for your website, and need it to serve a variety of purposes. Generally speaking, the website development process involves eight stages:

  1. Research and discovery
  2. User Interface Design
  3. Website development
  4. Website integration
  5. Testing and review
  6. Content migration
  7. Launch
  8. Maintenance

If you’re unsure about what your exact needs are, it’s best to consult with an agency and scope out the project before putting it to tender. This can save you time and money in the long run, and also give you a better understanding of what to expect from your chosen vendor.

4. Know your ‘must haves’ and ‘nice to haves’

As touched on above, once you have established exactly what you want you need be clear on your ‘must haves’ and ‘nice to haves’ for your project.

At The Playhouse Group we always walk our clients through a detailed process to ensure that we are clear and our client is clear on their ‘must haves’ and the ‘nice to haves’ and divide them in order of importance.

In our experience, it is rare that a client can achieve all their wants in one project with their allocated budget and timeframes. Which leads us into…

5. Budget and timeframes

If you have an unlimited bank balance and timeframe for completing your project then ignore this section. Otherwise, be 100% clear on your budget and timeline and communicate this. At the very least indicate a ballpark figure and timeframe to your agency.  If your agency knows your budget and timeline they are in a far better position to tailor a solution to meet your needs and budget or tell you if it is even possible.

If you think revealing your budget will cause someone to overcharge you then, you don’t trust them and, you shouldn’t be hiring them in the first place! Make sure you have an agency that isn’t afraid to tell you the truth and not just what you want to hear.

Here at The Playhouse Group, we know what goes into creating a website that works and we provide the best solutions for our clients. Have a look at our brief template and get in touch with our team today for advice on your next project.