Posts Tagged Online shopping

10 million UK consumers have used mobile commerce, problems? Of course!

iPhone & Intel Mobile Device

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When a survey commisioned by Tealef, showed that 10 million UK consumers have used mobile commerce to order products or services through their mobile device I was impressed. I maybe should have been shocked that up 83% of those surveryed had a problem when using their mobile device to order, but I wasn’t.

Even with the speed of adoption of people using mobile devices to purchase items online, many of the platforms or websites simply don’t take into account the usability issues when using a phone to shop. A lot of the larger retailers who have mobile websites have done a good job at presenting the information in an easy to use format, but fall down when it comes to paying or logging into a website.

One pet hate of mine for a lot of mobile websites or apps is the inability to recover a forgotten password. In most cases, the forgot password option isn’t available on the mobile version of the website. This is clearly a security issue in that you could pick up someones for, log on to any site, run the forgot password tool and have the password emailed directly to the phone and volia, you’re in and have the password to probably everything the poor person uses for his life secrets!

But we all know there are simple ways around this. But it seems to be easier for most to ignore this or build in a mechanism for it. That may well be because they’re not sure if mobile is the way of the future. They’re going through a stage of “let’s suck it and see” before putting too much effort into changing how things work.

The problem with that approach is that we are left with a lot of consumers who will end up becoming dillusioned with the whole concept of mobile commerce. If it becomes too labourious to order something through a mobile device, wouldn’t you just prefer to go back to using your PC to order instead?

And that clearly appears to be what’s happening according to this study. A massive 29% of people surveryed abandon the transaction to complete later on their PC! 16% would more likely prefer to use their PC in future and more worryingly, 13% are likely to abandon the transaction altogether and try somewhere else.

I know personally these statistics are not something that are strange to me. As recently as last Saturday I went to put a bet on the Grand National and decided to try out the Paddy Power website. As someone who doesn’t bet very often, in fact once a year, I had completely forgotten the username and password associated with my Paddy Power account that I had used, well last year! Since there was no option to retrieve my password on the mobile device, I had to take out the laptop and retrieve my information from the main website.

In hindsight, maybe I shouldn’t have bothered at all because I certainly didn’t win! :)

I really can’t blame retailers for getting things wrong on this front – it’s a brand new medium that hasn’t been fully tested. We can only use our experience on how people interact with a browser on a laptop and try to second guess what people will want on a mobile device. We need much testing to really see what makes people tick on a mobile device.

There is one key point in all of this, a lot of people using a mobile device to access the Internet or online stores have probably never even used the Internet or shopped online. This is a brand new experience for them and we should all take this into account when developing our mobile websites and apps.

 

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Was 2010 the year for eCommerce? Will Irish retailers begin to smell the coffee?

Supermarket check out, London January 2005 Aut...
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Over the Christmas you probably noticed a lot of retailers out on various news reports complaining about poor sales (as they like to at Christmas) and in most cases with great reason too. I personally still find it hard to believe how many of the retail outlets in Ireland are still in business. The double blow of the recession and the god awful snow that engulfed Ireland and the UK for nearly 3 weeks certainly didn’t do anything to help their falling sales. But, for many reasons, I just can’t bring myself to feeling 100% sorry for these retailers.

It’s not that I am a cynical and bitterly twisted man that makes me feel this way. And I am certainly not a hardcore socialist who would sticks two fingers up at all retailers and say “ha, you should have treated your staff better!”. No, I’m just someone who has worked in the Internet for over 10 years now and have seen so many Irish retailers ignore the great benefits a properly prepared online web strategy.

“Fail to prepare, prepare to fail” is the phrase mentioned by one Irish great that sticks out in my mind when I think of how Irish retailers have ignored such a valuable resource to their business.

In the UK, it’s been reported that 44% of their population upped their online spend this Christmas compared to 2009. The total amount spent online in the UK was £2.8bn !! Another interesting fact is that 86% of UK consumers logged on to the Internet on Christmas and St. Stephens day a 10% increase on the previous year. 62% of those consumers shopped for sale items over those two days!

John Lewis say that their online sales in the 5 weeks to January the first accounted for £500m. And I guess it’s no surprise that the leading retailers online (after Amazon & eBay) were Argos, Next and M&S.

When you see figures like this, it amazes me to think that Irish retail businesses still don’t take their online business serious enough.

Let’s take a list of Irish retailers and see how they compare with their UK counterparts…

Harvey Normanwww.harveynorman.ie
Although it appears to be sitting on an eCommerce system, namingly Magento – there is no option to buy online. Maybe they need the footfall to generate some cross sells – but there are other ways of getting people into the store – and not many people were venturing out in the snow! They don’t seem to have a UK site (if they are even there!)

Curryswww.currys.ie
Much the same as Harvey Norman – display lots of products, but don’t allow you to buy (from what I can see). You can buy online from their websites in the UK.

River Islandwww.riverisland.com
River Island have a nice website and you can purchase online – albeit in sterling and not 100% sure if you can get it delivered to Ireland (or pick up in store!)

Boots www.boots.ie
I don’t know about you, but if I could have bought items online through the Boots website I would have! Anyone who has ever tried to buy perfume through somewhere like Amazon knows that they simply won’t deliver to you. A golden opportunity for someone like Boots to make a few quid online. And can you imagine those great 3 for 2 offers… oh I wish… of course, you can do this online if you live in the UK.

Dunnes Storeswww.dunnesstores.ie
A great Irish brand with, it must be said, a visually appealing website – but no you can’t buy online. A place I would have definitely bought online over the Christmas period as I desperately searched for 2 turkeys for Christmas Dinners!!

I could easily go on and on but I won’t…

There are of course some exceptions to what appears to be the rule. You will find some retailers with decent enough websites, but by on large they just don’t exist.

As usual, it tends to be the smaller, lesser known retailers that appear to take their online presence more serious in Ireland – but even those are far and few between. When we have a country next door to us spending nearly £3bn online at Christmas it seems ridiculous that there aren’t more retailers taking a serious look at trying to grab a piece of this with a proper online marketing strategy.

The Celtic Tiger as we know was really good for Ireland, but the current lack of interest in making a serious online effort to generate business is an indication of how well we actually had it. “Ah sure I don’t need to sell to online, sure there’s plenty of business already….”

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IEDR to give 10 SME’s a €10k Website Grant

.ie: Ireland's official Internet address
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The Irish Domain registry, the IEDR have created a €100,000 fund to help boost SME e-commerce. The idea of the fund will be to identify 10 SME’s who can take advantage of a €10,000 grant to to build an eCommerce website to help grow their business online. In an age where online buying continues to grow significantly, only 21% of Irish companies with websites have the ability to handle transactions online.

I’m personally delighted to see this incentive from the IEDR and it’s something that the government really should take note of. This incentive by the IEDR will help 10 businesses start to trade online and see the true potential that the web can bring their business.

I don’t say it often about the IEDR, but “Well Done” on this one – great idea!

As of now, I’m not sure how one goes about being included in the process for being selected, but when I find out I’ll post it here.

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VAT down (UK) : prices down on play.com, well not really…

I wrote an article on Monday about some online stores not reducing their prices in conjunction with the recent VAT reduction in the UK. Original article here >>

Today it seems Play.com have reduced their price on one of the mentioned items; that is the Playstation bundle. So if you are planning on buying a PlayStation for Christmas – follow this link – and not the one posted on the original article – £10 cheaper today! :)

The other items mentioned in the original article have yet to see a reduction in price. Surely this is illegal?

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VAT down in the UK but prices seem unchanged on Internet stores

Today is the day that Ireland increase their VAT rate from 21% to 21.5%, while the UK decreases from 17.5% to 15%. Already it seems that some of the popular online stores, feel it’s not necessary to pass on the new savings to it’s customers.

In fairness to these stores, most of the items I have been looking at are sale or special offer items. Here’s a few of my observations.

  1. PS3 80GB bundle from Play.com : Last week £299.99 – Today £299.99
  2. Asus Eee PC 901 XP from Play.com : Last week £279.99 – Today £279.99
  3. LG W2234S 22″ TFT Monitor from Tesco Direct : Last week £119 – Today £119

Generally across the Amazon.co.uk site, prices seem slightly cheaper and in-line with the reduction, but I can’t confirm this.

In Ireland, the rip-off culture seems to have shone through again. From a quick glance, it looks as those most Irish sites have passed on the miserly %0.5 VAT increase to it’s customers rather than trying to absorb the tiny increase.

Initially it seems, most online retailers seem to be taking advantage of the decrease or increase.

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