Retail, in the eyes of the everyday customer

new ideas and thoughts about the online retail world

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Within 0.01 seconds of landing on this popup appears:


Like, the page hasn’t even fully loaded and the popup is in my face.  Is that the best tactic?  What do you do when you get startled?  I know what I do: I get out of the way (in this case I click the [x]).  In a world where we can A/B test just about anything why not test the timing of this popup?  I mean, it’s a good offer and I would likely have wanted to signup for a 10% savings.  But give me a second to catch my breath.

What would have happened if the popup appeared once I engaged with the page (defined as time on site or pages seen)?  Would the signup have worked better?  Even if the absolute signup rate might be lower I bet you’d get better quality signups (i.e. people likely to buy your product).  In the end, isn’t that what really matters?

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March 14, 2016 at 5:16 am

Credit Card Field

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For any ecommerce store capturing the credit card number is the most important step.  Therefore, it makes sense to have the most user friendly credit card capture interface.  And Google has nailed this.

When you first click inside their credit card box they show payment icons in background of text box.  Like this–


Then when you type the first digit of credit card they recognize the card type.  For example, if your first digit is 4 you have a VISA–


If your first digit is 5 you have a MasterCard–


Also, as your type your credit card number they add an extra space after every 4 digits to make it more readable (it also matches the way the numbers look on your physical card)–


What’s really crazy is that they seem to have some sort of realtime card validation going on because entering the fake 5555 5555 5555 5555 number threw up the red border error message.  I have no idea how that’s done–


Anyway, the point is that this degree of attention to detail is what separates the campions from the rest.

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March 7, 2016 at 5:25 am

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Subtle Trick

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We marketers scream when we want the user’s attention.  We use comically large fonts and ugly color contrasts; not because they’re beautiful, but because we know the loudest elements capture attention.

But there is another way.

I was on this product page …


… and one of the first elements I noticed was the $ symbol to the left of product name.  How did I notice it when that icon takes only 5% of screen real-estate?  Because the retailer did 4 clever things:

1: They used an icon shoppers are trained to pay attention to, the dollar symbol.

2: They colored the icon green on a white page, making it stand out.

3: They strategically placed it one letter to the left of the product page.  Eye tracking studies show shoppers start scanning pages from top left position.

4: They made the icon non-descriptive.  The visitor senses it has something to do with pricing (because of $ symbol) but beyond that she doesn’t know what message is hidden behind the icon. So she clicks it.  And when I click it I’m shown this powerful urgency message:


There is one other point in favor of subtle tactic.  When you scream and tell shoppers they are receiving an amazing deal they get suspicious (why is this retailer trying so hard?)  But anyone who clicks this icon will believe the “… cancel this sale at any time” message in popup because they’ll think, “if this was just a fake warning they would have made it more prominent.  Why would they have kept it so subtle?” And that thought would confirm for the shopper that the warning isn’t a gimmick.

Written by betterretail

February 29, 2016 at 5:29 am

eCommerce, Meet the Retail Store

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eCommerce is great. But the one thing it lacks is that between discovering an item and touching it is the pesky shipping bit.  Traditional retail mostly sucks but at least we can touch the heck out of anything on a shelf.

Enter b8ta (  b8ta is the first brick-and-mortar retailer architected to help you discover, experience, and buy the latest tech (I’ve ripped this line from their site).  Basically, b8ta is a showroom where gadget manufacturers showcase their hot new products.

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February 15, 2016 at 6:39 am

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Did Not Encrypt This Message

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If you’re using email marketing you need to aware of this new Gmail feature where it notifies email receivers if your email was encrypted.  If it isn’t encrypted a red open padlock icon appears:

Did not encrypt this message

And on mouseover the user is told this message isn’t encrypted:

Did not encrypt this message explanation

Most ISPs should be taking care of this but if your mailing list is seeing the open padlock look into fixing this.  More details–

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February 12, 2016 at 8:15 am

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Even Giants Make Mistakes

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Don’t be too hard on your team if your site has a broken link.  It happens.  Even Google makes mistakes.

Smart Goals is a newish feature in Google Analytics.  I wanted to learn more so I clicked their help file link:


On clicking Learn more about Smart Goals I saw this-


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February 8, 2016 at 5:47 am

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Segment or Die

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Email marketing is a magical thing.  Instead of waiting for a new or past buyer to stumble on your site, with email marketing you can take a product page and literally send it to the subscriber’s inbox.

But because marketers exploit email marketing so much its effectiveness goes down with each passing year.  Shoppers are getting more emails, and they’re receiving these emails more frequently.

Here is the typical story with nearly all email marketing programs: they start with the online retailer sending maybe one email a month.  Then one day you decide to send 2 emails every other week and see a nice bump in sales.  Aha, doubling frequency had a 80% lift in sales (it isn’t as good as 100%, but hey, 80% ain’t too shabby).

A few months pass and you get antsy so you up the frequency to 3 times a month.  This time the bump in sales is even smaller but the overall revenue through your emails is still impressive.  When you were sending an email a month you had time to craft a thoughtful message that had a personality.  Now email marketing is more cookie cutter.

The trouble with this story is that it leads to a bad place because eventually you’ll end up sending emails twice a week.  What you’re experiencing here is the law of diminishing returns; and it sucks.

So what’s the way out?  Send customized emails: messages that have a very specific focus and are addressed to a very specific subset of your mailing list.

Should a person buy Goodyear tires, he or she may be added to Goodyear’s mailing list. When winter rolls around, it stands to reason Goodyear would like to let their customers know about their new snow tires. Do Goodyear customers in Florida need that email? No.  But Michigan customers do.  And if you want to make this email even more effective send it out to Michigan shoppers 24 hours after a major snowstorm.

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February 1, 2016 at 8:03 am

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