E-commerce « Datadial Blog
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On the subject of E-commerce

Martina Martina

July 25th, 2011.

How to create the perfect return-customer!

If you take a look at what you eat, where you shop or even what you wear, you’ll discover that the most effective brands and businesses in your life are successful because of their ability to keep you trapped in their rotating doors. You’ll buy that same beverage maybe twice a week, and go to that same supermarket at the end of each month- all because you’ve convinced yourself you like the design on the plastic bags, and the staff are friendly. Actually, there’s more to it and I’m about to tell you exactly what that is…

Brand evolution…

You frequent a brand because it grows with you and becomes something that understands you. For example, after McDonalds understood the issue the population began to have with societal obesity, they reduced portion size (although I blame inflation) and boosted the nutritional value of the food through the choice of ingredients used. This became acceptable to parents, who then were more inclined eat there with their families.

An example of an industry that arguably did not readily embrace evolution and suffered greatly as a result, is the music industry. After the birth of the digital age of music, illegal downloading and iTunes, the archaic business model of selling CD’s showed a huge decline in sales. Failing to catch on quickly enough meant that some artists suffered (and the customary private jet was downsized to a regular limousine).

Whatever your line of business, you need to understand the importance of evolving with the customer, if you sell tube-socks and make a great profit in winter, introducing a pop-sock range for the warmer months would mean that you have something to offer customers all year round. Alternatively, if your business is to provide SEO services (and you are doing this well) – then perhaps you could suggest Pay Per Click (PPC) services too.

Integrating, and actually wanting customers’ opinions…

When listening to a friend or colleague talk about something they care about, you always feel that little bit of gratification when they ask you your view on the subject and genuinely care about your answer. Imagine this never happened – if people talked at you, telling you their views and never asking about yours…you would get tired of listening to them, and they would eventually emigrate to a world of bias where only their opinion matters.

Feedback is a wonderful thing, and to guarantee any kind of success you need to be engaging the people whom that success relies upon. There are many ways this can be done such as market research, comments sections and incentives.

Personally, I dislike the emails I receive asking me to ‘spend 2 minutes’ of my time filling out a feedback form, but interestingly, when shopping online – the reviews section about the product I am interested in, is the first place I look before pressing the ‘checkout’ button. If you struggle to get feedback, try using incentives in exchange for it, offering a discount or a token for free software after a few important questions are answered, is a ‘quid-pro-quo’ way to dig out helpful information that could help you better your business.

Offering alternatives…

Nestle’s chocolaty awesomeness is far from limited. Nestle offer a range of sweets and treats making them one of the most popular and wealthy brands in the world. If Nestle was limited to just one chocolate bar, sure that bar of chocolate would taste good to those that enjoy it, but after years of just a milk chocolate bar, people would stray – they’d try praline, white chocolate, plain chocolate – and so on. If Nestle weren’t the ones to provide these different types, they’d be losing out on possible revenue and brand awareness.

The power of a brand comes from its ability to churn out good ideas and give people choice. This isn’t limited to types of product or service offered, your business alternatives should extend to forms of payment, methods of contact and more. Yes this is 2011, but believe it or not, some people prefer to send a postal-order or a cheque rather than use their credit or debit card online. Similarly, some people like to mail a letter to you rather than send you an email – and some people like to call you on the phone, instead of using Skype.

Being savvy is important, but it is important to remember that you could alienate a whole market simply by not catering for it. If you sell online, offer WorldPay, PayPal and the ability to pay by card – by doing so, shows customer consideration which is exactly what you need to do!

Avoiding over-saturation…

An unexpected text message from an old friend, is often the perfect segue for reconnecting, because sometimes it’s the subtleties in life that we enjoy the most. However ‘broadcast-message’ after Facebook invite from that annoying person you’d probably cross the street to avoid, will never get the attention they want. This is because there is an important difference between the two – in the first example, you feel as though that person put thought and care into the message and in the second, you feel undervalued, someone just making up the numbers.

Your business works the exact same way, its quality over quantity. Flooding prospective customers with emails about what their missing might cause them to report you as spam, and maybe even tell others to do the same. However, providing them with worthwhile information they may not already have gathered, might prompt them to subscribe to your blog, or enquire about your business.

Acknowledging loyalty…

Many businesses have cottoned onto the positive effects of personalisation, sending out post with only your first name as the title as if they’re your buddy, addressing you with “hi” rather than the traditional “Dear” and sending out seasonal gifts and confectionary. Even if it’s slightly corny and obviously not based on some fantastic rapport you have with them, they do it in hopes that you’ll feel appreciated causing them to stand out.

Even if a thousand others receive the exact same gift, unlike the Facebook invite example above and more like the Google+ invite in its beta stages – it makes you feel all special.  Using this method is an added charm, especially if the customer is new to you; it works almost as a reminder to them of their importance to you. Consistent use of this technique might eventually convince that customer that you are important to them, because you obviously ‘care’ about them enough to remember them personally.

Customers will keep coming back if they are fully catered to. Whilst I am not suggesting that if you are not doing all of the above perfectly, you will fail – including these tips into your already operating mode of business, will help boost ROI and customer satisfaction. A ‘win-win’ outcome! :-)


July 22nd, 2010.

A glimpse into the future of E-tailing over and beyond traditional e-commerce

I recently went to a talk on the different forms that e-tailing is taking over and beyond the traditional e-commerce site.

Below is a distilled version of the talk with just the best bits.  A lot of these examples are only availabe in the US at the moment but by reading this  you are getting ahead of the curve!

(The talk was by the big cheese at Pod1 – Fadi – so credit to him for researching it all)

E-commerce via Apps

Start accepting cash and card payments with Square. No contracts, monthly fees, or hidden costs. Effortlessly manage the money you take with an easy and intuitive interface. US only at the moment and only for payments less than $60 but one to watch for sure.

See corporate video

And a review on how it works

Google shopper (Android only)

This APP allows you to scan barcodes, the co

vers of books and media, and even search by voice – the app will tell you where you can buy the same product and at what price.  Pretty nifty if it works!


It took 12 months for the location-based social network to attract one million users and by stark contrast; the second million only took three months. Ever since February 2010, the site has been registering over one million ‘check-ins’ a week.

See how it works:

New e-commerce software


Vendr create POP-UP shops – They say that you can create your e-commerce site within 15 minutes.   These are basic obviously sites now but I guess they will improve. In any event they will probably do for many home based businesses.

from their site: “Works with your current website:  Add a “store” button to your blog or website, and your store will simply pop-up over your content — no more sending your customers elsewhere to make a purchase. Vendr functions as a part of your existing site. ”


Alvenda software allows you to create e-commerce shops within sites such as Facebook – Alvenda’s first customer, 1-800-Flowers.com, launched during the Mother’s Day holiday in 2009 and recognized a 10.5x lift in shopping activity by making it easier for people to shop.

New E-Tailing concepts

Cutting out the middle man – Harnessing the power of social media to revolutionise product manufacture and pricing.


For furtniture design and manufacture: You choose what makes it into our collection. Vote for your favourites and the most popular will be made available to order.


Buy early, pay less
The earlier you buy an air ticket, the less you pay. Now you can do the same with wine. Save £££!

Car Rental

WhipCar is the first service in the world where a car owner can rent out their vehicle for money, whenever they are not using it. WhipCar pairs sensible drivers with spare car time


January 12th, 2009.

Stop discounting – How to add value instead and build loyalty

We have already seen in my previous blog that online sales are very robust even in the teeth of a recession.  Companies have used a myriad of marketing techniques to entice users to buy usually with excessive discounts.  It’s now the task of keeping those customers and encouraging repeat buys.

It’s well known that discounting does not engender loyalty necessarily and so retailers need to find other ways to add value.

First lets see what customers actually want:

EMEA survey

A recent study by EMEA concluded that the two biggest factors, likely to influence consumer spending during a credit crunch, are competitive prices (79%) and a combination of good prices AND good customer service (72%).

Retailers relying on brand pedigree, product uniqueness or reputation to see them through the downturn in spending may come unstuck as these were listed as the three least influential factors.

In a recent New Media Age survey consumers said:

89% believe internet has better prices
68% said online was cheaper (taking into account ancillary costs of “outside” shopping
81% said Internet offered wider range
89% cited ease of finding items
95% cited ease of comparing prices

Where the Internet could improve
74% said lack of waiting made high street attractive [Personnally I’ve never understood why retailers cant offer next day delivery if items are ordered before a certain time]

70% said customer service was better on the high street [there’s so much to say about this that I will write a separate blog post about this]

So customer service (combined with customer service) and lack of waiting are key elements that customers want.  Lets see what other retailers are doing to respond to this.  I am assuming that if you run and e-commerce site that you have already covered the basics: free delivery, free returns, properly organised website with your telephone number and security in place etc..

We have scoured the Internet to see what successful retailers have come up with in terms of building customer loyalty and service over and beyond the usual discounting:

Customer service – Delivery
It’s always baffled me that retailers still think it’s ok to take 5 days to arrange delivery.  Next day delivery should be standard for most products. ASOS have made a start on this at least by offering Saturday deliveries at no extra cost as well as offering a next day service.  With 74% retailers citing this as making the high street more attractive I would have thought this should be the most pressing thing for most retailers.  Use a branded delivery service that can represent your brand.

Customer service availability
Zappos, an Online retailer that specializes in selling apparel and shoes has been able to grow from $1.6 million in 2000 to $597 million in revenue last year alone. Some of Zappos’ highlight features include their excellent customer service and a free overnight shipping on all orders. Over the past 8 years.  “We`re continuing our focus on service, which includes 24/7 customer service, free overnight shipping and free return shipping with a 365-day return policy.”

Customer service – communication
Letting customers know its coming – If you’re sending something bulk then why not call ahead to let the customers know.  www.naturalcurtaincompany.com do this and it’s very effective as people will tell other people about the great service.

Customer service – Know what your service is.  99% right is not enough
Make sure your Website is 100% accurate. Zappos ran into trouble when it used to have the manufacturers drop-ship orders, because their inventory was often off and created backorders and unhappy customers. Even 99% is not good enough.

Increasing loyalty
Amazon – Amazon Prime  – Amazon Prime is an exclusive membership program that gives you and your family the benefits of unlimited One-Day shipping on eligible Amazon.co.uk purchases for an annual membership fee of £47.97. During your one month trial, you will enjoy all the benefits of being an Amazon Prime member.

Understand FREEMIUM – the concept of making money out of giving things away for FREE.  This is not for eveyone but you need to understand the power of it. What ever you are selling think of what can be given away for free which will add value to your proposition. Give your service away for free, acquire a lot of customers very efficiently through word of mouth, referral networks, organic search marketing, etc., then offer premium priced value added services or an enhanced version of your service to your customer base.” viz google, facebook – read more http://inside.123-reg.co.uk/archives/chris-anderson-free-long-tail

Communication – The ability to communicate with your customer base is now as important as ever. The ability to get your message to your clients quickly and efficiently can translate into large profits. Blogging, mailing lists and participation in social networks can and do make a difference. Again using the example of Zappos over 400 members of staff use the microblogging service Twitter. This gives the company the ability to contact thousands of people in an instant about offers or new products. The CEO of Zappos alone has 35,000 people watching his updates.

Discount vouchers being sent with each delivery. Whilst constant discounting is not the direction to go in, it’s good for encouraging viral sales.

Membership -Sexypantiesandnaughtyknickers.com – get 15% off for life once you reach a minimum spending limit (bronze) then 25% silver etc.

more to follow…as we find them


January 12th, 2009.

Online is a recession free zone

Apparently there is a recession.

The media will have it that the world is in meltdown and that it’s armageddon out there. 

Woolies, MFI and Adams have gone to the wall.  Well honestly, I am not surprised.  Woolworths and MFI were awful businesses stuck in a time warp and deserved to die.  They were slothful and easily out done by more dynamic competitors.  MFI have done nothing in the last 20 years to dispel their brand image of producing low quality, dated furniture.   Woolworths were kidding themselves if they thought that people actually enjoyed entering their shops.  They may have been cheap but even the bargain hunters appreciate clean, well presented shops.  I never went into Adams but they looked pretty dated even though they were relatively new.

Other companies are retracting as well.  Marks and Spencer are closing some food halls but so what.  They had over expanded in the good times.  The fact that they are closing a few poorly performing shops isn’t the death knell.  It’s just a little tightening following a gluttonous expansion.  And maybe it means that the consumer, who is a little more careful these days would prefer not to pay an excessive premium for near identical products being sold next door. 

The care free spending attitude has changed and retailers need to adapt, but it doesn’t mean that people won’t spend money if the product is well priced and well presented.

This all reminds me of a previous hullabaloo in 2000 when the .com bubble burst.  The world’s press then tried to write off the whole Internet as a busted flush, when in fact there were many businesses doing very nicely online thank you.  It was only the news grabbers who had borrowed millions to set up spurious, hubristic .com world beating websites that failed to succeed.  They were poorly thought out businesses and poorly executed.  They too deserved to die.  There were many smaller, prudent businesses making a decent return throughout this period.

So, as before and as now there may be some troubled waters but there is no reason for retailers to panic. (Though for bricks and mortar businesses, they need to renegotiate their exorbitant rents with their landlords).  This is especially true online.  People still have money and they would prefer to spend it online. Anecdotal and personal experience shows that online sales on most websites are growing.  Latest sales figures from those retailers that have reported on Christmas sales also supports this:

John Lewis – online sales up by 27%
House of Fraser – online sales increase of 150%  (1.7 million visitors over Christmas period)
M&S – online sales up by 29% (although down 7.1% overall)
Ocado – up 97%
Sainsburys – online sales up 27%
Thorntons – online sales up 25%
Next Direct – up 1.1% increase since last year
Aldi visitor traffic up 64% year on year
Play.com Sales up 20%

Our own clients at Datadial have also reported record online sales. 

The big question for these retailers is how to return to charging full value for their products and services and to get away from the omni present discounting.  This is the subject of my following blog.


November 10th, 2008.

New E-commerce launch – www.Yapp.co.uk


We took a dogs dinner of an old website and transformed it into a work of art that converts users to buyers. As always the project was delivered on time and on budget.









Yapp Wine Merchants website now has a fresh, modern design, packed with tools to help you find the wine you need.  It is unfrightening and designed to cater to Yapps broad user base.  We’ve made searching for wine fun and easy whilst retaining Yapp’s connoiseur edge.

Everyone has their own ways of looking for wine so we implemented 4 ways to navigate the site:

  • The Easy Wine selector uses dynamic searching
    Watch your search results change dynamically with easy to use search sliders. Have a play.  The great advantage of this is that it all happens on one page with no hopping backwards and forwards to and from search results.
  • The Food and Wine selector allows you to search for wine by Food Type by clicking on images of different food types.  This is not rocket science but is dis-armingly useful.
  • Advanced Search - for those who really know what they are after.
    Search by Regional maps
  • “You recently looked at”
    Isn’t it annoying when you look at lots of different items and then have to re-find them by re-doing the searches.  Well we eliminated this problem with the “You recently looked at section” so you dont have to re-do previous searches.
  • Tell a friend / Bookmark tools
    Not strictly a navigation tool but so simple and effective.  How else can you let your loved one know what you want for Christmas?  Simply post your choices to your Facebook page and invite others to have a look.

Search engine friendly

As always with Datadial, the site is built to be search engine friendly
All pages from the old site have been redirected to the relevant new pages.
The site uses Friendly URLs so http://www.yapp.co.uk/Wine-List/Rhone-South/Chateauneuf-du-Pape/ instead of



Integrated stock control – the site is integrated to draw stock levels from Sage accounts.
The site is fully content managed, giving Yapp control over all aspects of the site including creating offers, mixed case offers and product information.
The site is also integrated with Datadial’s email marketing system.


October 7th, 2008.

4 new site launches demonstrate our design and programming skills

We are pleased to announce the launch of 4 new sites this month.  Each one demonstrates a different skillset that we can provide here at Datadial.

Basically Black

New – e-commerce launch: www.basicallyblack.com

One for the ladies. As usual this site is fully updateable by the client and includes stock control, dispatch notes, customer management, full reporting and is integrated with Datadial’s email marketing system. Perfect site to find that oh so hard to find little black dress. Buy now!

AJAX engineered quote generator – www.flowduplication.com

A site for generating quotes for DVD and CD duplication. The quote generator has been developed in AJAX and provides an easy to use interface for ordering CD’s and uploading artwork.What is AJAX – AJAX speeds up a website by only refreshing the part of a page that needs refreshing. Well that’s the simple explanation. The increased speed hugely improves usability and eases frustration Datadial developed the site from a logo provided and designed all artwork on the site

The client commented “my boss was grinning like a cheshire cat all afternoon when he saw the site, thanks to you and the team

Content management system www.lloydgeorge.com with Fin International

Relaunch of this Fund Management site, following a re-branding exercise by www.FinInternational.com.  The site is fully updateable by Lloyd George staff using Datadial’s content management system.

Originally designed brochure site and blog www.carnabystreetthemusical.com

You haven’t heard of it yet this will be the next BIG West End musical in the New Year. The site is being populated bit by bit as people send in their memories of the sixties. If you were famous in the Sixties and loved Carnaby Street let us know!!

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