Brands Responsive To External Events Win eCommerce Gold

With online brands able to respond quickly to external events, and directly monitor the impact of doing so, it is clear that those who hooked into the Jubilee celebrations and the Olympics fever this summer experienced a welcome boost to sales.

Here at SciVisum we have seen this ourselves with the demand for Load Testing from a number of our clients peaking before the Olympics, particularly those involved with sports retailing, groceries, media and transport. Lots of extra traffic and transactions is great. A site meltdown in front of so many more people would not be!

Over the long weekend a 38% increase in online transactions was reported by Venda across its customer base, with a 34% increase in sales value.

It also noticed that brands strongly associated with “Britishness” saw sales values increase up to six times the amount spent during the royal wedding weekend last year, and brands without that traditional association, but still with campaigns based on it, saw a smaller but significant boost.

Making The Most Of  One Off Event Based Opportunities

Of course although many eCommerce systems enable simple promotions to go live pretty much instantaneously, which is one of the things that makes eCommerce so powerful, those able to take best advantage of these key retail periods, were those who have an event led strategy in place. This kind of planning, along with analysis of previous performance and testing of realistically forecast load, ensures that the optimal results can be delivered from any such promotion.

It’s also been a good opportunity to test out multichannel promotions across in-store, online and mobile channels, and some organisations are experimenting with new kinds of location, or partnerships, such as pop up stores inside partner premises, or even the Olympic villages, and sponsorship opportunities and brand building with in store events linked to online promotions or apps.

While all brands had some opportunity to comment on “Britishness”, whether in a directly patriotic, ironic, or imaginative way, it might seem not so easy to get in the the Olympic Action unless you are a sports retailer or travel provider. However, some organisations have taken the opportunity to build on the local community or international feel of the games, or on the idea of parties and gathering to watch the events.

The Impact On The Bottom Line

The centre for Retail Research predicts a 3.7% rise in sales between June and August, which translates into £3 billion of sales between June and August because of the Olympic “halo effect” with 27% of this coming from online transactions. When talking about these kinds of revenues it is vitally important that any problems can spotted, if not pre-empted, and fixed very quickly. If your brand promotion has worked and this is the first time customers have discovered your site you want them to have the best impression possible.

This will not only be due to the “positive” effects of the Olympics, though. Online retailers are also expecting to benefit as many people, particularly Londoners, are being encouraged to stay at home to work, or want to avoid the crowds on public transport, and this is also expected to drive up online sales.

Planning for delivery will be necessary for retailers, though. Many have put notices and warnings up on their sites that deliveries may be later than normal. If customers are ordering online because they are already stressed about not being able to get into work or through the crowds then this is not going to improve their mood. Any brand that is able to save them time and trouble, though will reap the benefits.

London deliveries represent nearly 20% of all deliveries in the UK, and currently performance in this area is a key battleground for differentiation, as we have mentioned before.

Getting Better Results

Understanding what didn’t work, and why, is as important as understanding what did. Often you cannot really do one without the other. Was it technology that failed you, or people? Hardware or software? Internal issues or external suppliers or partners? A “one off” success, while nice to have, is not really much use in a strategic sense. How can you make sure that you do what you did right again? How can you make it better next time? Could you have done more if you had more technological capacity or different set up?

You can use load testing to test different scenarios, as well as just to test your current set up, so that next time a big event rolls around you will know that you are well placed to make the most of it.

People often hold off new releases til the last minute, but there is often scope for comparison testing on a dev environment to a certain extent. Of course nothing is ever really tested until actual users get their hands on it on a live site, and then it can be very useful to have a direct comparison of your KPIs at regular intervals after the change.

Why Dynamic User Journeys Are Vital

Dynamic User Journeys really come into their own at times like this. With the older style of static URL monitoring the introduction of new products or new site categories for promotions would have involved lots of extra page level monitoring being set up for each of these individual things. With dynamic journeys the engine merely takes all of this in its stride, there are just more options for it to choose from when it journeys through the site. Instantly the new products become part of inventory monitoring, and user experience is being recorded and reported on.

Finally sticking with our Olympic theme we come to the idea of teamwork. Everyone has to understand goals and performance in order to improve and succeed. Once every person and team understands what is happening, and is using a common language, it’s a lot easier to work together. Just being asked to do a task, or fix a bug, in isolation does not make the most of what your team has to offer. Seeing the bigger picture often yields innovative solutions that put you ahead of the competition, working together gives you results greater than the sum of the parts.

SV Monitoring Suite

All products in the Monitoring Suite have been designed with different user needs in mind, but all are delivered through the intuitive Customer Portal, and enjoy the one-on-one managed service support, that our clients value so highly.

To help support all teams, and provide a “single point of truth”, all products in the SV Monitor Suite are designed to ensure that everyone can understand and be proficient in using the wide ranging metrics to deliver ongoing improvements.