Like SEO, UX/UI should be in everything you do…..even eBay

UX/UI (user experience/user interface design) is all about approaching what you do on the web from the users point of view. Be it eBay listings or websites, this along with SEO needs to become natural for a professional in this industry.

However, so many companies get this WRONG. Even if they go ahead and hire a UX/UI team or consultant.

Why?

Number One Reason Your UX Investment Isn’t Paying Off

  • You hired the wrong people.
  • You’re not letting the right people do their jobs.
  • UX work is done in a silo.
  • UX team brought in too late.

and the mashable blog post here: http://mashable.com/2013/01/28/user-experience-investment/

Bad layouts hurt your business. I have seen it so many times, and even the most experienced designers and companies can get it completely wrong. You need to make sure the people you work with USE the web, and for e-commerce projects BUY off similar sites on a regular basis. If a designer or employees of a design company have never bought or sold anything on eBay, it is best to find a company with people who HAVE for your eBay design.

Same with companies that prove listing services to eBay! They claim magnificent eBay optimisation that is all kinds of magic and then all they do is fling a few extra keywords on your titles…sometimes more than once for extra policy breakage!

I buy a LOT online, which is why I make great decisions when it comes to your eBay business.

Think on it next time you embark on a design project or listing services. Check WHO is in charge of the layout or optimisation.

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Why we all love John Lewis…

Because they get it RIGHT.

Two key phrases spoke to me in the latest report from the BBC regarding John Lewis

Internet sales growth was especially strong, rising by 44% on last year.

and

Internet sales now account for around 25% of the company’s sales.

I actually bought my first item online with John Lewis (I am sure I have done a wedding list with them but not an actual purchase) – a Samsung Galaxy tablet.

What made me buy from them? I was walking through John Lewis Solihull from a carpark on the 27th and saw a large sign ‘2 Years Free Warranty on all Tablets’ over their electrical section.

Oooh?

I played with the nexus and galaxy tab in their demo space after I booted a child off. They should have RULES for that kinda thing, like signs to say ‘stop playing and shove over so someone who wants to BUY it can get a looksie’

It was super busy in store so the next day I checked online being in the market for a tablet and bought a white Samsung Galaxy tab 2. Checkout was painless, I got an order confirmation email and shipping email……boomph, it came today.

I did think I would be paying more buying from John Lewis as they always have the ‘nicer stuff’ but their electrical items are very competitive.

That’s probably why their electrical goods have sold well, with sales up almost 31%.

John Lewis also said…

That hour when we opened our clearance website, at 5 o’clock on Christmas Eve, was our single busiest day online, ever!

And when we opened our shops for clearance on the 27th, we had the best day of trade ever – so more proof that it’s the two hand-in-glove. It’s not one at the expense of the other.

Thank you John Lewis, smack it to the haters!

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Confidence is higher than expected? No..so far behind…

Intershop have just released a report suggesting that confidence is higher in e-commerce than traditional retail with, quoting UK statistics 52% of UK retailers feel an online presence is key for growth…

ONLY 52%? Is the British retail consortium this far behind? It is better than France and Germany but still, with our weak economy more British retailers should see the advantage of online retailing to expand into a global market!

However, banks are still far to wary about lending to online business. Even business’s that are booming and growing globally struggle to get finance to expand. So with the fast turnover of stock keeping cash flow at a minimum how can retailers expand without a little help from the banks?

In this report 48% of retailers struggle to manage their brand and marketing over many channels and devices.This is where investment is needed but with confidence in the markets still very low (with major retailers struggling doesn’t help) banks won’t lend. Slows down expansion and economic recovery.

Catch 22.

Grrrr….Arrrrgggg..

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10 Questions for Andy from Auction Software Review

I don’t think I have ever done an ‘interview style’ blog post so this is a first!

Auction Software Review has been around for as long as I can remember as a hub for neutral advice and discussion around eBay mostly, the tools, the third party services and industry news.

So I posed 10 questions to Andy and here they are:

1. From a start in Politics what drew you to online marketplaces?

I’ve had a strong interest in computing since childhood – I was programming in BASIC on the Commodore VIC-20 (with 3.5KB of RAM!) in the early 80s. It’s hard to believe we used to wait several minutes to load programs from cassette tapes while watching flickering lines on a portable TV. I graduated through the Commodore 64 and Amiga and finally onto Windows in the mid-90s. My Politics degree feels like it was a diversion from computing, rather than online marketplaces being a diversion from Politics!

Liz – gosh I remember being very proud of myself changing the screen colours on our vic-20, however I was 4 at the time!

2. What was your thinking when you first started Auction Software Review?

I discovered eBay and like many enjoyed selling every bit of halfway-valuable junk around the house. Even selling a few household items at a time is a chore, so I wondered how the big-volume sellers cope. I wanted a new programming project at that time and considered writing a tool for eBay sellers, but on discovering how much was already out there (in 2003!) decided there was more value in building a portal about the software already available, rather than jumping on the bandwagon with yet another tool.

3. The site has been around for a while, what do you think contributes to it’s success and longevity?

Software for online marketplaces can be a really confusing area, and I have seen few other sites try to tackle it. When I started ASR, even eBay didn’t have their own directory of compatible software. A few generalist ecommerce sites have put some effort into the area, but ASR has kept focused on software and I think developed a really rich coverage over the years that has helped it stand out all this time.

4. What are the future plans for Auction Software Review?

I recently updated the site to reflect the focus on all multi-seller marketplaces, not just eBay. I’ll continue to look at technology for selling on all marketplaces, and software for running your own web store where it includes integration features for one or more marketplace. Many sellers nowadays are quick to look beyond a single channel and want tools to bring all their selling together – which has several challenges!

5. What do you hope that users get out of Auction Software Review as a site?

I hope they expand their knowledge of software for online marketplaces, and can make a more informed choice about the right tools for them. Sellers’ needs are really varied, and potential providers numerous, so ASR can’t always make it easy – but I hope it’s a big help.

6. If you had to be an e-commerce avenger who would you be? What is YOUR e-commerce super power?

Um, I’d be Captain e-commerce, a traditional technology soldier happy to fight in the trenches but also able to direct the troops. Yes, I realise that doesn’t make much sense… read into it what you will…

Liz – sorry for sucking you into my current ‘superhero’ e-commerce anecdotes world 🙂

7. What was the strangest thing you ever sold online?

I sold hundreds of CDs of vacuum cleaner noise several years ago. It’s great for getting cranky babies to sleep, and I received some fantastic feedback like “MIRACLE WORKER!” and “hope it works-if not posting the baby to you LOL!!” Someone contacted me very recently and asked if she could get another copy as her daughter still listened to it and was traumatised when the disc got scratched… I sent her an MP3!

Liz – A friend of mine had such a CD and I really thought it was bonkers…till I realised her kids will sleep through the housework and all kinds of random noises with no trouble!

8. Do you have any e-commerce ‘tales’ you tell at parties?

When ASR first started, it was called the “eBay Software Review” but I soon received a not-so-friendly email from eBay’s lawyers telling me to cease and desist!

Liz – unless you have had such a letter you don’t really live in this world…!

9. Who is your biggest influence when it comes to online marketplaces?

I don’t know if I have big influences, but have met some great people over the years (many never in the flesh) and am grateful for their support. For example, Gene Chandler of SpoonFeeder [eBay software that’s no longer around] was my first advertiser and helped me realise the site could generate some income.

10. If you ruled the e-commerce world, what would be the FIRST thing you would change?

I would make it so we don’t have to register to shop at any more websites!

Liz – Ug, yeah…there has to be a magic way this can be phased out!

 

Make sure you get yourself over to Auction Software Review and check out the directory and reviews of third parties. Why not review a company you have used or suggest a new one? If you have e-commerce questions or woes ask your fellow e-comrades as we all know sometimes being an eBay seller or selling online can be a lonely business!

Thank you Andy for this interview!

I would love to incorporate more interviews into this blog so drop me an email if you want to be featured. Normally I have to have known about you for a while, met you in person or used your software and LIKED it to interview you. I ask some sensible questions and some silly.

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Update to An E-commerce Store from Start to SEO

Did a bit more on this page:

Choosing a starting point – Your e-commerce platform.

In general there are three options:

1. A site hosted and created by a company for example Shopify
2. A site created for you but it is hosted on your own server space for example Cubecart
3. An Open Source Shopping Cart such as Oscommerce

Pro’s and Cons:

1. For option one, you don’t have to worry about updates, support is probably available and you never have to worry about complex code, and for most of the time any code. They do have you over a barrel though, so you need to make sure it is a company you can trust and get data out of if you need to leave. They hold your sales information, customer details, design, images etc and they can shut you down. This option is best for the new e-commerce business if you are running it from a non technical point of view.

2. Hosting your own Webstore. Unless you pay said company to do so you will be responsible for security updates and any downtime will be up to your hosting. This option is my favourite for the adventurous. Its all your, the data, the site, but you will come up against it sometimes. There is paid and community support with most systems. You will pay less in subscriptions etc, but all the data is yours and you are in full control.

3. Open source. Its free, usually heavily supported by a community, you have full freedom with your store. The downside is the code editing. Unless you want to pay ( and you might as well choose one of the other options if you are going to do that) you will have to edit the code yourself and learn a lot on the way. It can be a heartache as support is not guaranteed and totally voluntary, but it is also FREE!

Next to consider is the functionality and features you NEED:

Inventory management – Import, export and sort inventory (bulk uploads and updating methods for inventory crucial for large catalogue) You will need to be able to sort, search and filter your inventory.

Image Hosting ( option 1)

Manageable sales data and order processing- Sales and various stages of orders. You will need to also be able to export sales for accounting purposes.

Inventory based shipping AND flat rate shipping – the most basic of shipping methods which can be used to fit a variety of models

Space for Meta Data – somewhere for you to edit your site html title, keywords and description for search engines

Basic statistics – either space for Google Analytics integration or home grown basic statistics

Customer Data – ability to send a newsletter and export customer data

Secure Payments – SSL and a secure payment method for credit cards for example paypal payments pro or cybersource integration.

Paypal – its too big to ignore. make sure you can accept paypal standard transactions with your secure credit card processing.

Multi tier Category Management – you will need sub categories to manage your user experience.

SEF URLs – Text based URLs for your products.

Currency Conversion – a website need to be international so Dollars, Euro’s and Pound Sterling at least.

Inventory Quantity by Attributes – you want drop down attributes on your products for the various options, for example shoes in their various sizes and colour combinations, with quantity attached.

Ability to cname if not hosted on your servers ( option 1) – you need to be able to make sure the site ’seems’ hosted and you have better urls for example http://www.yourdomain.com/redshoes and not http://www.randomcompany.com/yourcompanyname/redshoes or http://yourcompanyname.randomcompany.com/redshoes

Newsletter Function – to send basic marketing emails.

Functions you will WANT but you don’t necessarily need to survive: (next bit coming soon)

This will be updated as the industry changes and I have time to write more. I am not going to list all the available e-commerce solutions as there are plenty of sites to do that. This is the most organised one though:

E-commerce Shopping Cart Solutions Examples

If you need advice on any of these you can contact the authors of the blog (see at the bottom of the page) or myself as I will review any of these systems for you on my blog:

contact kidsontalks

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Certified eBay Consultant and E-commerce Consultant

Well, as well as being a certified ebay consultant ( passed an exam and everything) my job title is now ‘E-commerce Consultant’ so my career journey has gone from being an ‘Information Scientist’ to a ‘Technical Scientist’ to an ‘E-commerce Consultant’ I am also a web master and waitress part time. I am  a certified Jill of all trades!

My new specialisation is going to be ‘Search and Marketing’ and I am currently looking into affiliate marketing.

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