With Christmas fast approaching, Lingerie Insight attended the Internet Retailing Conference in London to find out from digital doyen Google what top online retail tips it could offer lingerie retailers in time for the festive season.
When it comes to ecommerce experts, there are few bigger names in the lucrative sector than that of internet behemoth Google.
And so it made perfect sense for Lingerie Insight to listen in on a keynote speech from Google’s head of retail, Neil Dulake, at the Internet Retailing Conference last month, to see what top tips he could offer lingerie retailers in time for one of the busiest periods of the lingerie trading calendar.
Speaking to delegates, he said that there are three important points that retailers need to consider when they are looking to grow their online sales. These are: showing up; wising up; and speeding up.
Dulake stressed that it’s absolutely essential for retailers to “show up” online at key retail moments. He explained that although there are fewer people going into physical stores now, the value of goods being purchased has increased three fold.
“Why’s that?,” he asked. “Customers are going into store, more researched and more ready to buy than ever before. People are out and about engaging in searches on their mobiles, looking at your brand. We now know that 76% of local mobile searches result in a same-day store visit.”
According to Dulake, many retailers are still not taking full advantage of mobiles as an ecommerce opportunity. Exceptions to this rule are Argos and Debenhams, who were some of the first retailers to adopt Google AdWords, with Argos now spending more than 10% of its search investment on local inventory formats, Dulake said.
A specific example of AdWords working in retail is when Costa Coffee used weather and environment signals to target people within a 25 metre radius of its own and competitors’ sites. The company wanted to increase awareness of its summer drinks range, so it targeted people close to the store, on their mobile phones, with adverts.
Omnichannel consumers are more valuable to retailers than single channel consumers, but Dulake explained that because 90% of people use one device to complete any one task, it makes it difficult to quantify and make sense of what users are doing across all channels. This is why his second ecommerce tip is “wise up”.
Dulake promoted AdWords as a solution to this, which he claims has cross-device data ready for retailers to use.
“Smart retailers are using cross-device data to inform their digital marketing strategy,” he said. “Made.com – they’re pretty smart.
They looked at total conversions using cross-device data and found that the ROAS (return of advert spend) was twice as much.” Dulake went on to reveal that Google’s data shows that every mobile online sale results in four store visits.
He reiterated how useful this data can be to retailers and noted that searches for the phrase ‘near me’ have doubled in the last two years and peak during the festive period. Google’s vast data shows that the week of December 13-19 is when high street retailers see the highest store visit rates, meaning that this period is when businesses see the most people clicking on mobile adverts and then appearing in store.
Google’s final piece of retail advice is to “speed up”. “We’re obsessed with speed and we think you should be too,” said Dulake. “Amazon are obsessed by speed too. They know that for every one, one hundredth millisecond saving of page load time drives revenue by 1%,” he claimed.
The thing Google is most excited about in terms of online retail is progressive web apps, according to Dulake.
He explained: “Essentially, it’s an incredibly light version of the website that has that nice functionality that you’re familiar with on your favourite apps. For every one second delay, the conversion rate goes down 7%, so speed up your assets is the big call.”
And faster internet means more videos. Last Christmas, brands produced twice as much video content as they did the year before, according to Google. Brands spent 60% more on video, driving 70% more views. This sense of speed should be applied by retailers to their teams so that they have permission to move faster.
Dulake said: “We all saw the Aldi spoof of John Lewis. They turned that around in 10 days. Likewise, House of Fraser, they basically turned round and shifted their media budget because they wanted to feature the X Factor Christmas song in their ad. We see that a lot of brands are now setting up war rooms, essentially, ready to react at these key trading times.”
Also speaking at the conference was Andreas Brueckner, a senior search and merchandising consultant at SDL Fredhopper. His number one tip for retailers is to make the most of search of operations.
He urged retailers to make search bars bigger or more prominent, to offer useful search suggestions to help the customer and avoid frustrating them by pretending to know what they’re looking for.
Brueckner believes that too many retailers are trying to over-complicate their online stores and can benefit from simple, cheap changes. On a final note of warning, he pointed out that even if a site has an excellent personalisation algorithm, it should not be forced on the user.
“When it comes to Christmas time, for example, people are often buying for other people rather than themselves. At times like this, personalisation algorithms can be rendered useless and take away from a site,” he said.
It’s clear to see that many retailers are still not capitalising on the online opportunities available to them. What’s more is that many of these opportunities can be taken through small, inexpensive and simple changes to search bars, web pages and digital strategy planning. Luckily, there is still time for retailers to make changes in time for the Christmas trading period.