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Sales online are up 18% year on year – are you capitalising? Check out our top ten tips.

In our busy lives more and more people find it hard to find the time to go shopping and so they go online. Online sales are up 18% against last year and for once the UK is leading the way. Our online sales amount for nearly double that of our nearest rival Germany*. So how can you make sure you are getting the most out of your ecommerce site? Take a look at our top ten tips to find out how.

  1. Be helpful. Purchase time is really quick now even for larger items. Across 11 retail categories the average purchase time is less than 2.25 days**. So, does your site contain helpful user guides or reviews to help the customer make a quick decision? Think about how you can help that customer choose between you and your competitor.
  2. Don’t assume. Don’t think its just young people who buy online. The silver surfing boom means most 50-65’s are now buying online. In fact research by the Kalixa Group found 58% of 66-88 year olds now shop online***.
  3. Be mobile savvy. Make sure your site works on mobiles and tablets. 4 out of 5 18-48 year olds now own smartphones** and more than a third of all online sales are made on mobiles or tablets****.
  4. Promote your deals. 88% of people look for deals before purchasing**. If you’re running any offers make sure they feature on your homepage, include them in your blog, share pictures and reviews on facebook, twitter or google plus.
  5. Make it easy. Is your site easy to navigate? Are products in easy to find categories? Are those categories your sections or how a customer would categorise them? Do you have a search function?
  6. Add pictures. Make sure you have good pictures of your products. If people can see what they are getting it helps and no matter how good the product if the photo looks unprofessional people will go elsewhere.
  7. Check the small print. Is it clear that delivery is included? This could be an advantage over competitors so make sure you explain delivery terms and don’t hide it in the small print.
  8. Describe your products. Use search terms that people use in your descriptions and titles. Don’t lift content from suppliers. It doesn’t reflect your brand and it duplicates content in the eyes of Google which is bad for SEO.
  9. Don’t slow down. Work with your web designers to assess how fast your site loads and ways that can be improved. If you snooze, you loose. People won’t wait for slow sites. We check all sites as part of our initial proposal as it’s such a key factor.
  10. Get your SEO right. If noone can find your website in the first place they won’t see your products. Most people now won’t search past page one, so it’s important to make sure your website is getting the exposure it should. And track your results. You should know where your sales are coming from.

If you need any help with your e-commerce site or you are thinking about starting an online store, just give us a buzz. We specialise in building online shops and can help you get more from your business.

Notes:
*E-Retail Sales Index, Feb 18 2014 Interactive Media in Retail Group and Capgemini, www.capgemini.com via e-marketer http://www.emarketer.com/Article/UK-Ecommerce-Springs-2014/1010637, 28/2/14.
** Need for speed – Disrupting the omni-channel. Parago 2014
*** Silver surfers show their online confidence: research, http://internetretailing.net/2013/12/silver-surfers-show-their-online-confidence-research/ 17/12/13
**** Quarterly benchmarking, Interactive Media in Retail Group and Capgemini, http://www.uk.capgemini.com/news/uk-news/a-third-of-online-sales-now-made-via-mobile-devices, 27/2/14.

The Origins of MediaCityUK: A Northern innovation renaissance

We are loving our new base at MediaCityUK, so much so that we have decided to write a series of articles on it. Here is the first of a weekly series.

“Our vision is for MediaCityUK to become a leading international hub for the creative and digital sectors – and a vibrant destination to work, live and play,” MediaCityUK

How Manchester has changed in recent years. What was once tagged as ‘Cottonopolis” and “Warehouse City” for being the world’s largest marketplace for cotton goods during the Victorian era, has transpired into a ‘smart city’, a hub for digital innovation to rival the media clusters in the likes of Singapore and Dubai. At the core of this vibrant urban metropolis, brimming with creativity, innovation and sustainability, is Salford’s impressive new development known as MediaCityUK.

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Complete with waterside cafes, bars, restaurants and designed to accommodate more than 6,000 people, a trendy cultural flavour is beginning to flourish in Salford’s newest landmark.

But how exactly did this multi-use development site situated on the banks of Manchester Ship Canal in Salford begin? This blog will explore the fascinating origins of a property development project that effectively progressed Manchester from the seemingly eternal clutches of its industrial past to the forefront of digital innovation, inspiration and impulse.

BBC Manchester influenced vision for MediaCityUK

Much of the history of this shared creative community is owed to the BBC, which played a fundamental role in the origins of MediaCityUK.

Being its home since 1976, Manchester’s Oxford Road became synonymous as being the location of the BBC’s regional headquarters in the North West. When therefore the BBC signalled its intention
to move its site, the city’s well-established broadcasting landscape was rocked.

In 2003 news circulated that the BBC was considering moving whole departments and platforms of production from London to Manchester. Mark Thompson, the BBC Director General, unveiled plans to relocate 1,800 jobs to Manchester in 2004. The move was justified by lower overheads in Manchester compared to London.

One question however remained: Where was the New Broadcasting Headquarters in the North West going to be located?

MediCityUK the concept is born

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In August 2005, four potential sites were shortlisted by the Corporation – Salford Quays, another site in Salford and two in Manchester. By January 2006 four had become two and it was at this stage that the MediaCityUK concept was truly born.

It was decided the location would be an undeveloped site at Salford Quays Docks. The area was undergoing significant investment and was steadily growing as a residential and commercial centre.

According to MediaCity Planning Guidance, the vision of the emerging site was to:

“Create a significant new media city capable of competing on a global scale with developments in Copenhagen and Singapore.”

The same year, Salford City Council approved planning for a multi-use development on the Manchester Docks site. The development would include retail, residential, studio and office space.

A year later the governing body of the BBC consented to moving five of its departments – Learning, Sport, Children’s, Radio Five Live and Future Media and Technology – from London to Manchester.

Since then this stunning canal-side development has never looked back.

A two-phrase development

Construction for MediaCityUK began in 2007. The 81 hectare site is being developed by Peel Media, a private real estate, media transport and infrastructure investment company. The vast and ambitious redevelopment project is being developed in two phrases. The first phrase, the 36-acre site, was completed in 2011.

The second-phrase development is on-going and there is potential to use up to 200 acres of land over the next decade.

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Providing “tangible opportunities” for the local community

From the word go, Salford City Council have been involved with the development of MediaCityUK and its transport infrastructure. As Salford Council admits, from the very beginning it saw the project as being an opportunity to make a real difference to the community and create “tangible opportunities” for residents. Asides creating an accessible tourist, investor and employment destination, Salford City Council views MediaCityUK as a catalyst to “raise the profile of Salford, to raise aspirations and to create job opportunities for local residents.”

MediaCityUK might have transformed Salford Quays’ visionary vista but it is only really the latest reincarnation of a city that has, since the Industrial Revolution, been at the vanguard of innovation and progression.

Manchester propelled itself onto the global stage for being at the forefront of the Victorian era’s industrial boom but now there’s a new business revolution uprising in this northern city. Thanks to MediaCityUK in Salford, Manchester has the chance to shine on the worldwide stage of pioneering commerce once more. Although instead of cotton mills, warehouses and container ships, this time round it is state-of-the-art architecture, chic piazzas and the largest high definition studio in Europe.

It’s safe to say, with the arrival of MediaCityUK, there’s exciting times ahead for Manchester.

Stay poised for next week’s blog in our series of MediaCityUK articles where we will look at ITV’s presence in one of the UK’s biggest urban regeneration projects.

Product List Ad’s Continued Success

40% of people buy on impulse – no wonder Product Listing Ad’s continue to be successful

Recent figures confirm that Product Listing Ad’s are the future and continue to grow in popularity. Data released showed that the total spend on PLA’s had increased by 71% per quarter by the end of 2013 with a year on year growth of 164%*. So what is driving people to divert spend to PLA’s?

Well it’s the growth of mobile searches and shopping really. It was confirmed in a study on mobile banking by ING this week, that one in four people regularly shop on impulse**. So people look for easy ways to do this and browsing online is one of the easiest ways. With phones and tablets now you can browse anywhere at any time of the day. There’s also the demand to know information quicker because we all lead busy lives and PLA’s make this easier. They’re images selected and displayed by Google on a relevant search. So instead of searching and getting a website that you then have to click through, the customer can instantly see a picture of the product, where it is from and how much it is. The customer can see what they want and buy it there and then and an image aids impulse buying much better than just text.

From a business point of view it’s a more targeted way of promoting your best products. It can be better value than an AdWord campaign and bring a higher return on investment. Google has confirmed that businesses have experienced higher click through rates with images. In fact the number of impressions and clicks year on year for PLA’s rose 83%* showing that consumers are really taking to this format.

It still works on a cost per click basis and getting the targeting right is essential as you will be instantly compared with other products, but it’s a great way of attracting quick online sales. Just drop us an email if you want to know more about Product Listing Adverts, we’ll be happy to help.

Notes:
*Data released by The Search Agency January 2014 as reported by e-marketer 7/2/2014, www.e-marketer.com
** One in four Mobile Bankers compared with 28% non mobile bankers. ING International Survey.
Financial Empowerment in the Digital Age 2014. Mobile Banking, Social Media and Financial Behaviour. Conducted by Ipsos on behalf of ING. This survey was conducted by Ipsos between 20
February and 14 March 2014 using internet-based polling and, in Poland, a portion of telephone based polling. Surveyed 12,403 across Europe including the UK. http://www.ezonomics.com May 2014.