Last December I wrote a post on shopping process. One of the main premises on that post was that e-commerce should be entertaining, it should somehow captivate the customers and drive them through the entire thing while making it an enjoyable experience:
Buying stuff should be fun. Or as close to fun as it can get. It must be a pleasurable experience. Once we understand that our abandonments will invariably go down.
So I click the link and head over to this newly-found reading material. What do I see? The very first post I set my eyes on is talking about e-commerce, and from a perspective that has several contact points with what my personal opinion is.
(...) during my round trip to and from the milk, I munch a free sample, and grab a box of fudgesicles, knowing that my kids’ enthusiasm will counteract my wife’s annoyance.
When we build e-commerce sites, certainly we need to know what the customer wants, and give it to them. But we also need to use our spiffiest analytical tools to optimize two things: profit (dollars, not percent) and Net Promoter Score.
So, what would happen if we combine this thoughts on making the Shopping process entertaining and tempting our customers with extra treats with that other thing that has become a buzzword lately: Targeted ads.
Forget about the “ads” part for the time being. Lets just concentrate just on the Targeted part instead.
Using smart analytics, a powerful CMS and some multivariate wizardry e-commerce sites have the potential to create a unique experience for each customer that arrives to the site.
E-commerce has three main advantages over Grocery stores: 1) you don’t have to physically move products from one side to another, shifting aisles and pushing fridges, 2) you can track every single visitor and see how they behave and 3) you know where the visitors come from and, to a certain extent, in some cases even why.
With that in mind it is quite natural to imagine scenarios where visitor segmentation serves the purpose to profile each visit and build the e-commerce experience accordingly.
Granted, the approach would require massive investment in both Analytics and CMS, but the payoff should be huge. If the analytics team can profile and breakup visitors into smartly differentiated groups (natural search visitors, ad visitors, affiliate program referrals, coupon page referrals, etc.), pass along that information to the publishing / developer / user experience people and they, in turn can create experience that present stuff in ways that maximize the buying potential of each segment you’d have a winning recipe.
Multivariate tests should help determine what works for each segment.
In-site behavior should also be tracked, studied and used to present the visitors with different options according to the path they take.
This can be taken to various levels of complexity, and an investment & experimentation to revenue ratio would be determined. In other words: how much to invest, experiment and segment to obtain the highest return.
Another ingredient comes from a suggestion Mark made in the comments of my December post:
Reading what people write about your site shopping experience can fill in the gaps in analytics. Sites like Bizrate gather customer comments, and of course, blogs and forums are another great place to learn about the barriers to purchase one may have unknowingly created.
So Social Media (monitoring) can also play an active role in enhancing conversion rates and customer spending on e-commerce websites.
The final piece would be a dashboard that "adjusts" the settings under special circumstances. It is not the same to have an e-commerce site during the seasons than in Mid September when nothing happens. Since such events can be planned, they should be planned.
Stir together, cook for 90 minutes and you’ll end up with a “Fluid e-commerce experience”.
We don’t all have the same tastes, why should our shopping experience be dull and unique for all the population? The tools exist, the expertise exists, and some sites already run similar experiments.
Finally I encourage you to go ahead to his site and subscribe to the feed. It looks like we have another very eclectic blog at hand.
I have been thinking about this post for several months now. I even mentioned at a conference I gave some time ago. The final push to actually put my arse in the chair and actually start typing the text came from a post entitled: "deliberately unsustainable business models".
This quote is quite inspiring, in my honest opinion:
The problem arises when the desire to sustain overcomes the desire to be awesome and more resources go to surviving than succeeding. This is abundantly clear in the case of US automakers and banks, whose current arguments for financial support rest on their need to survive, not their ability to succeed.
Although the post is talking about Museums I think the extrapolation to business is an easy to do.
A good example of this is Apple. Yes, I know, I work for Lenovo, but forgive my sacrilege; I'm trying to make a point here.
History tells us that years went by, Apple then became a successful company, with a board of directors and everything. Then Jobs got fired.
That was probably the best thing that ever happened to Apple Inc. Distance from the company he had founded and, doubtlessly, a desire to go medieval on those who turned their backs on him by the sheer weight of success, re-boosted Steve's desire not only for success but for awesomeness. Upon his return in 1998 he reinvented the company and drove it to an unprecedented (and unimaginable) level of success (and awesomeness).
A similar evolutionary arc can be spotted on many companies. The change from cool startup to serious company usually slaughters or silences that desire and need for awesomeness. Need I say "Yahoo!"?
The study of complex systems, on the other hand, demonstrates that a delicate balance between change (innovation) and stagnation is required for such systems to subsist. Furthermore, this balance is leaned towards the stagnation side.
How can we marry this two theoretically opposed concepts?
Imagine a well established complex system, for example the dinosaurs ecosystem reign. Now picture a violent change in that system, a meteorite hitting near Yucatan, for instance. A somewhat stagnated (thus efficient) system is wiped out in a single moment.
Now imagine the world's economy. A pretty well established system. Suddenly a sub-prime mortage crisis hits and creates a credit crunch... You get the picture, aye?
My interpretation is that during normal times "business as usual" is king. Yet, during crisis things have to shift rapidly.(And yes, Apple was at Crisis when big Steve returned to the company)
The interesting thing about crisis is that once they are over things are never quite the same, thus people and companies should not adapt to the crisi, but rather make the changes needed to survive and be in a good position when things get back in track.
To follow with the Dinosaur extinction analogy: species that were well adapted to live in an environment where the atmosphere was saturated with dust probably boomed for a short while. Yet, the real winners were those that were sturdy enough to make it through the worst times but had the evolutionary weapons to take full advantage of the post-crisis conditions. In the case of the dinosaurs this were Mammals.
Smart companies should not focus too much on the current crisis situation, but rather just enough to ensure survival (even in less-than-ideal situations). What those companies should do instead is to try to understand the changes going on during the downturn, and how those are going to shape the next "normality".
If the interpretation is close enough to what reality will be, and actions are taken to be on a good position under such circumstances not only survival will be ensured but also unprecedented growth.
To put it in just one phrase: don't focus too much on adapting to dire conditions, but rather on adapting to the reality that will follow.
After reading this article on CrunchGear and particularly after gazing this inevitably quoted paragraph:
Still, it seems that MS has changed up the strategy for putting things together, emphasizing smaller teams with less higher-up input. Teams called “Triads” — one developer, one tester, and one program manager — chisel away at problems and work independently. The poster says this leads to a more integrated approach to creating a feature, and more transparency in management means decisions can be made in good time with enough visibility for the teams to accommodate them.
The old Cathedral model might be gone. And it might of took Vista for some companies to realize that Open Source and transparent development cycles are not a dreaded enemy but rather smart ways to tackle complex projects.
Please don't see this post as a "Windoze sucks, linux rulz" kind of thing. I'm keen to Linux, true enough, but I make this point as a mere observation of what could put Microsoft back into track.
My Wishlist for Windows 7:
- Don't make it a process hog.
(end of list)
Its about 9PM and only now I've been able to go online. I decided not to take the PC to WeMedia and write down with pen and paper (so analog!) and pay more attention to the keynotes. I'm not doing it ever again. I felt naked without my reliable T60p in my lap.
Day 2 annotations (Evereything but John Bell's presentation, too tired to finish it today). My conclusions will have to wait for a couple of days I'm afraid.
The first track was entitled "Communicating with the new generations"
Carlos Perez, President BBDO.
"It is the how that changes, the what remains the same". Carlos started by showing a Video from 1976's Olympic Games featuring Nadia Comanechi's Perfect 10, freezing the image on the display that showed a 1.00 score because it was not prepared to show a perfect 10 performance.
He sees the generational clash as massive as the difference between Columbus and the Native Americans when he first reached the continent. (Personally I don't think it is that wide, or even think there is a generational clash, but rather some personality differences)
"New generations multitask by nature"
Marketing for the new generations intertwines things that usually would not be otherwise connected, this marks a new tendency.This can lead to Brandjacking, although people do not consciously hijack brands, they just relate to the message. Unidirectional marketing is gone for good. (Amen!).
"When everything changes one should ask: 'what has remained the same'".
Guillermo Oliveto, CEO, CCR.
Time's "Man of the year" cover for 1997 featuring "you" is an example of what WeMedia is.
"We can do amazing things with technology, but there's always a side B to things".Destructive vs. Constructive technology, quotes Humberto Eco.
"We need to humanize technology". "We're going back to basis": giving new meaning to the future based on giving value to things from the past. Underlines the tendency that brands have on putting emphasis on their heritage.
iPhone is an example of the fascination on the how. There's a lack of truth, we're shaken when we're told the truth.
Second part of 1st track. Several youngsters share their views.
Since there was not a very clear line of thought, bulleted list is in order.
- TV is not their favorite type of media
- Internet is their main means of communication
- "Social Networks are all alike"
- "I don't understand facebook"
- MSN is respectful enough to call people contacts and not friends. (Killer phrase if you ask me)
- Cumbio: "Besides an individual am a product of the internet".
Second track: Online Communities
"Social Networs are the natural evolution of media".
"Users switch from simpler Social Networks to more complex ones".
"Microsites don't make sense"
"We need to find new ways to advertise"
Victor Kong, MySpace.
In Victor's view Social Networks:
- are based on fundamental changes on relationships
- "Enrich real life interactions"
- Have very high penetration and usage rates. (doh!)
- People like to connect with brands. ("They talk to McD's as if it were a person"
Florencia Pettigrew, Linkedin.
Linkedin has diversified its revenue stream. Linkedin groups came as an answer, they allow people to "do stuff". Politicians (Obama) and Media create groups. Linkedin has content agreements with several news sites (CNBC, New York Times).
Lately I've been sunk deep into doing multi-lingual support stuff. I guess that comes with the "World Wide" terrain.
I can, quite easily, work with english and spanish. I can manage to understand French, Portuguese, Italian and German. But make me work with Chinese or Japanese and I'm lost.
At times like this I wish esperanto had took off.
I'd love to have everyone knowing the same secondary language. And I don't mean this because I speak English. If someone decided that some obscure antique form of sanscrit was what everybody should be talking I'd gladly take lessons.
Anyway... Rant Mode is now Off.