Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthNovember 14, 2018


Online sellers are using e-commerce solutions to gather better data insights, yet many are failing to use it to make better business decisions, new research has found.

Whilst 42 percent are using data to improve customer service, only 24 percent are using data for buying behaviour analysis, and two thirds are not using it to improve the user experience, according to the findings by by Sana Commerce.

The survey of 559 global B2B organisations found that many are still only focused on using e-commerce for sales and improving online shopping for customers – traits associated with e-commerce 1.0 and 2.0. Forty-eight percent identified driving sales as the top priority for their e-commerce solution and 38 percent said it was to improve the user experience.

Despite having data available at their fingertips, online sellers are not using their data to achieve desired business performance outcomes. The main response to tackling competition is competing on price (47 percent) and increasing the online Customer Experience (38 percent) rather than enhancing the proposition. Only a third said they would use data to improve personalisation and 26 percent said they would use data to improve targeting and account-based marketing.

Many online sellers seem to be overlooking the true value of e-commerce 3.0 and improving integration with key business systems such as the ERP to drive broader business benefits. In fact, improving organisational efficiencies, changing technology infrastructure and improving integration and workflow automation with partners and customers all came last in the list of objectives for B2B businesses implementing or operating an e-commerce solution.

Despite appearing slow to adopt e-commerce 3.0, many online sellers are embracing new technologies in a bid to advance their digital transformation, and machine to machine (M2M) ordering is seen as a possibility for 54 percenr of respondents. However, with data seemingly having a minimal impact on operations and decisions for e-commerce businesses, it’s possible that this technology is not being used to the best of its ability.

Michiel Schipperus, CEO and managing partner at Sana Commerce, said: “It’s encouraging to see online sellers building on their digital transformation strategies and considering the implementation of these advanced technologies, but it’s important to first establish how they can be implemented strategically. E-commerce 3.0 has enabled better integration between internal systems as a growth strategy and way to improve businesses agility. M2M and other forms of automation represent a significant investment, so e-commerce businesses need to ensure they’re being used to their full potential and improving key business drivers.”

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthNovember 14, 2018


UK shoppers plan to spend the most money on their child (£144) or their partner (£133), reserving less than £100 for any seasonal treats they might want for themselves, according to new research.

With the average gift shopping budget per person now reaching £365 just for their parent(s), a child and partner, it follows that 36 percent of UK shoppers are using Black Friday and Cyber Monday to buy gifts for others. This is according to Rakuten Marketing’s recent research report, Guess Who…Unwrapping the Global Holiday Gift Shopper.

With Black Friday and Cyber Week fast encroaching, the ubiquity of discounted mobiles, headphones, smart watches, and home appliances around this period means that in 2018 a third (33 percent) of UK consumers will be spending money on home electrical and music systems as gifts.

However, just eight percent of UK consumers want to receive such a product as a gift, pointing to significant disparity in supply and demand caused in a large part by the proliferation of consumer technology deals.

Tech loses ground

Globally, technology remains a staple part of gift shopping. Sure enough, at a global level, the types of gift consumers are most looking to receive this holiday season are home electrical and technology gifts (28 percent).

The UK, however, is one of the first countries to break away from this trend. Locally, cosmetics (16 percent), fashion (25 percent) and travel (17 percent) are what consumers most want to receive as gifts.

This complexity makes buying gifts a far more sensitive process, requiring the buyer to explore avenues truly relevant to the recipient – no surprise that over a fifth said they need ‘all the help they can get’ with making gift-buying decisions.

“Black Friday and Cyber Monday shot to fame offering the latest consumer tech goods at discount prices. However, recent research is now telling us that consumers in the UK are preferring to receive fashion, cosmetics and travel-related gifts. This shows the importance of targeting your shoppers in line with local nuances vs. a one-size-fits-all approach. Consumer behaviour does not fit one mould,” explains Anthony Capano, Managing Director of Europe at Rakuten Marketing.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthNovember 13, 2018


Getting to and from work now takes five minutes longer than a decade ago, according to new analysis published by the TUC to mark the annual Commute Smart Week organised by Work Wise UK.

Rail commuters face the longest journeys, taking an average of two hours and 11 minutes every day – an increase of four minutes on the last decade.

Drivers spend 52 minutes on the road to work and back (up by three minutes), while bus commuters must set aside 79 minutes a day (up by seven minutes). Cyclists (44 minutes) and walkers (29 minutes) have the quickest daily journeys.

Most UK nations and regions have seen increases in commute time in the last decade, with the exception of Northern Ireland. Londoners take the longest to get to and from work, travelling for 1 hour and 21 minutes each day, which is 23 minutes longer than the average across the UK.

The TUC blames growing commutes on three main factors: low government spending on transport infrastructure, employers not offering flexible and home working, and real wages falling while house prices have risen, making it harder for people to live close to where they work

For this year’s analysis, the TUC has taken a closer look at BME workers. The average commute for BME workers is one hour and nine minutes, compared to 57 minutes for white workers.

UK census data shows that BME people are more likely to live in urban centres, especially London. BME workers in the capital twice are also twice as likely as white workers to travel by bus.

BME workers have lower average pay and are more likely to work nights. They are therefore more likely to be reliant on night buses. And to save money they may also be more likely to choose long bus journeys instead of faster options.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s great we’re investing in high speed rail between some of our major cities. But people more often use their local buses and trains on their daily commute. These need to be upgraded too.

“Privatisation of trains and buses is a big failure. Journeys are too expensive, too slow and too unreliable. We should bring services back into public ownership. And cuts to public funding for bus routes should be reversed.

“Employers can make a difference too. Home working and flexitime can cut journeys and help avoid the rush hour. And if staff have fewer stressful journeys, they can focus better on their work.”

Work Wise UK Chief Executive Phil Flaxton said: “Long commutes have become a part of the UK’s working culture. But the excessive time spent commuting is one of the main factors contributing to work-life balance problems. Not only is the time spent commuting an issue, the 9-to-5 culture with its peak travel times generates congestion. And the rush-hours on railways, underground and road networks increase stress for commuters.

“The overall message for employers is that job satisfaction can be improved, and stress levels reduced if workers have opportunities to cut their commuting time. That could mean working from home occasionally or staggering their hours.  It could also be good news for employee wellbeing and retention, with lower costs to businesses.”

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthNovember 12, 2018


More than two-thirds (68 percent) of UK workers in the 18-35 age bracket have career wanderlust and want more international travel opportunities, according to new research.

A survey of 1,000 people, carried out by sports retailer Decathlon, found that although 55 percent of 18-35 year-olds have travelled internationally for work at least three times in the past year – some as many as seven times – just 32 percent were satisfied with the amount of air miles clocked up during this time.

What’s more, 63 percent of respondents in the age bracket also said that they would be more likely to accept a job that offered round-the-world opportunities; 21 percent higher than the average figure across all age groups.

When quizzed on why they would like to travel more, 53 percent of 18-35 year olds said they think it would make their job more exciting; 37 percent see work travel as a cost-effective way to see the world; and 23 percent also said that they don’t like to be tied to one place in their career or life.

Perhaps worryingly for some employers, 19 percent of 18-35 year olds say they would be likely or very likely to leave their current job within the next 12 months to go travelling, due to a lack of opportunities to satisfy their wanderlust in their role, highlighting the consequences of not offering (or not being able to offer) international travel to their staff.

Given that experts predict that these age brackets will make up 35 percent of the workforce by 2020, it’s a vital demographic to pay attention to.

Thibault Peeters, CEO at Decathlon UK, said: “The hyper-connected, technology-focused nature of today’s global landscape, coupled with cheaper air fares and the growth of new, developing markets has made international business trips more commonplace than ever before. Clearly, this had led to both an appetite and an expectation amongst younger workers to travel internationally in their chosen career.”

He added: “Career wanderlust is therefore something that employers should recognise, take into consideration and offer to prospective candidates as part of the job package in order to stay competitive. Those that don’t could find themselves lagging behind and will feel the strain of a weakened talent pipeline as a result.”

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthNovember 12, 2018


Almost half of all UK Black Friday customers will be purchasing from Amazon according to new research, that has also found shoppers are becoming cynical about the annual price-slashing event.

Salmon, a Wunderman Commerce company, has found that 48 percent of Brits will buy from the retail giant on Black Friday, with 29 percent of people holding back their spending until products become discounted on the day.

However, while nearly £5 billion is predicted to be spent during the sales this year (and £2.5 bn online), the shine of the shopping event may be wearing off for consumers – the majority (53 percent) say they have become sceptical about whether certain deals are genuine and represent real savings compared to the rest of the year.

James Webster, Head of Managed Services and Peak Trading expert at Salmon said: “Black Friday is one of the biggest chances in the year for brands to capitalise on consumers’ love of a bargain – with 25 million expected to open their purses for the sales bonanza this year. But the selling opportunity is mired in challenges – and the big one is the stranglehold that Amazon has on the sales period.

“Brands need to be thinking about how they can use the retail giant’s power to their advantage, but also ensure they’re not putting all their eggs in one basket and neglecting other channels; having an in-store presence, selling through online retailer sites like John Lewis and Debenhams, or tapping into other marketplaces like eBay are all important in the wider commerce strategy.”

While the research showed that smart assistants will struggle to find their voice on Black Friday, there are encouraging signs that could be set to change; a quarter (25 percent) of consumers would consider using a voice assistant to make a purchase in future.

Opportunities also exist for brands who take the leap into voice commerce, with 22 percent of consumers saying they would be more likely to shop via voice if there were exclusive Black Friday deals available through voice assistants. Entertainment products are the most likely to be bought by shoppers using voice assistants, with 35 percent saying they would buy music, video games and movies via voice.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthNovember 12, 2018

Nearly two-thirds of builders have had to pass skip price increases on to clients and a fifth have had to pass on diesel price rises, making home improvement projects more expensive for home owners, according to new research by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
The research found that three quarters of builders have said the price of skips has risen over the past 12 months, and that the average cost of an eight yard skip has gone up by £24 over the past year, meaning an additional cost of £360 for the average extension.
Nearly two-thirds of builders have had to pass skip price increases on to clients, making home improvement projects more expensive for home owners, while three quarters of builders said that skip price rises have squeezed their margins.
The widely-reported hike in diesel prices is also starting to bite, and nearly half of construction SMEs have made lower margins on projects. Nearly a fifth (17 percent) have been forced to raise the prices they charge clients, while more than one-in-ten have had to turn down jobs they would have normally accepted as they are too far away. Ten percent have taken steps to reduce vehicle use.
Commenting on the research, Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “The increase in the price of skips and diesel is bad news for builders and home owners alike. Nearly two-thirds of builders have had to pass skip price increases on to clients and a fifth have had to pass on diesel price rises.
“This has made home improvement projects more expensive for home owners.”
He added: “We are advising builders to price jobs and draft contracts with this plethora of price rises in mind to avoid a further squeeze on already razor thin margins.”

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthNovember 8, 2018


While online sales continue to grow, people still find the digital shopping experience lacking, with four-in-ten consumers saying they’re unable to differentiate between one online brand and another, research has found.

According to a survey of over 1,500 UK consumers by e-commerce search and discovery firm EmpathyBroker, many believe retailers struggle to build an authentic digital brand identity, with 46 percent of respondents saying retailers still have more of a brand personality in-store than online. What’s more, 48 percent of consumers felt that online shopping experiences are often more impersonal than when they shop in-store.

EmpathyBroker founder Angel Maldonado said: “For online retailers, the pressure is on. Differentiating in the sea of brand websites and marketplaces is more difficult than ever, which is why it’s perhaps unsurprising that 23 percent of the shoppers surveyed said they didn’t have a favourite brand to shop with online.

“Creating a connection with a consumer relies on more than just grabbing their attention with product discounts or special offers. It’s about making each person feel like they’re getting a unique, tailored and joyful shopping experience. Brands that make consumers feel special, that really understand and get their customers are able to create an effortless and memorable online experience that leaves shoppers fulfilled, happy and loyal.”

Black Friday and Christmas are just around the corner, and the survey shows that 65 percent of UK consumers said they were more likely to shop online at Christmas than any other period; 40 percent during the summer sales; and 39 percent while hunting for bargains on Black Friday. Mother’s Day (23 percent) and Valentine’s Day (18 percent) were also special dates that demonstrated a higher volume of people turning online.

The ease of finding the products they were looking for (55 percent) was cited at the most important aspect of an online experience with good product images (52 percent) and a nicely designed and displayed website (34 percent) coming in second and third respectively. Conversely, innovation came in last with only five percent of consumers valuing it.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthNovember 7, 2018


Customer Experience in the UK has shown little sign of improvement in the last year, according to the latest analysis by KPMG Nunwood in their Customer Experience Excellence (CEE) report.

However, whilst consumers generally felt their experiences with British brands were ‘average’ overall, challenger banks first direct and Metro Bank, along with cosmetic retailer Lush, were among the businesses bucking the overall trend, ranking first, second and third respectively.

2018 UK Top-10 Brands by CEE score

Ranking Brand Movement (position in ranking vs. 2017) 2018 CEE Score*
1 first direct +2 8.21
2 Metro Bank NEW 8.09
3 Lush +2 8.02
4 John Lewis Finance -2  7.96
5 John Lewis -1  7.95
6 Ocado +2  7.88
7 Boden +38 7.84
8 M&S +1 7.83
9 M&S Food +5 7.83
10 Emirates -4 7.82

Now in its ninth year, the latest CEE report, Ignite growth: Connecting insight to action, revealed only a minute uptick in the UK’s overall CEE score, moving from 7.08 to 7.13, but remaining below the previous 5-year average of 7.22.

A closer look at KPMG Nunwood’s Six Pillars of Customer Experience revealed that unlike last year, consumers did feel that brands were getting marginally better at meeting expectations and building better relationships with them. However, there was little movement in terms of personalisation, perceptions of brand integrity, or of minimising a customer’s effort by creating more frictionless interactions.

The report’s author David Conway, Director at KPMG Nunwood, said: “Many British brands have focused intensely on customer experience, but it would appear that the majority of their efforts have yet to be recognised. Of the brands that are bucking the overall trend in this year’s analysis, one key commonality stands out: these businesses are customer insight driven.

“Improving customer experience is about far more than investment alone. Customer insight must be fully embedded into business strategy. That increasingly requires looking beyond mere surveys and focus groups, and instead fully utilising the breadth of digital, social, operational, financial and behavioural signals firms have access to. Decisions on improving customer experience need to be based on facts, not intuition.”

While retail (especially grocery) remained the leading sector in this year’s analysis, financial services firms secured three of the top-five places in the rankings. Jon Holt, Head of Financial Services at KPMG added: “Whilst pretty much all firms still have a way to go when it comes to customer experience, it’s promising to see two banks take the top spots. Banks and wider financial services providers are waking up to the fact that consumers want hyper personalisation and convenience.

“People want a car, a house, a holiday, not a savings account or an insurance policy. Financial services as a whole has to adjust to a world where the end customer is front and centre of their products, distribution channels and business models. Customers want instant, digital services and they know the value of their custom.”

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthNovember 7, 2018


While over three quarters (78 percent) of brands now measure customer satisfaction, most admit to failing to get real business insight from listening to the Voice of the Customer (VoC), according to new research.

The findings from AI chat firm Eptica show that just 24 percent of brands feel that existing measurements such as NPS, CSAT, and CES give them the deep insight they need to transform their business, and the experience they provide to customers.

The research revealed that despite brands analysing the growing number of interactions they have with their customers, they struggle to get real value from them. For example, 83 percent analyse email conversations, and 75 percent study customer reviews and comments, yet only 12 percent and 11 percent respectively see this currently providing actionable customer intelligence.

Existing VoC systems are unable to measure factors that directly impact loyalty, revenue, churn, or to share insight across the business. Sixty-two percent of survey respondents wanted to identify pain points through VoC programmes, while over half were looking to measure emotions. The same number (53 percent) needed to be able to identify detractors and explain why they acted as they did in order to protect revenues and minimise churn.

Customer insight data is still stored in silos – while 79 percent shared information with marketing, 82 percent with customer service, 74 percent with sales, and 71 percent with operations, just 38 percent shared with e-commerce and 21 percent with teams running physical shops.

“Brands know that to truly engage with their customers and build long-term relationships they need to understand their wants and needs, and be able to use this insight to drive an improved customer experience,” said Olivier Njamfa, CEO and Co-Founder of Eptica.

“However, our research shows that they are being held back by existing systems and approaches – they are struggling with a partial picture that they find difficult to turn into actionable insights that can transform their business.”

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthNovember 6, 2018


New research has revealed that targeted discounting (otherwise known as personalised pricing) that offers regular discounts on a proportion of products that a shopper regularly buys, can have a substantial effect on where people focus their supermarket shopping.

The findings from Go Inspire Group reveal that around one-in-four shoppers say that they would seriously consider moving the main volume of their supermarket shopping to a competitor brand if they were offered targeted discounting.

Around one-in-ten said they would seriously consider moving their main volume of shopping, even if the competitor brand did not have a store near them and they would have to do this shopping online.

Crawford Davidson, MD of Go Inspire Limited, said: “Smart retail marketers are re-appraising the return on investment from targeted discounts (whether for customer acquisition, retention or development). Unlike blanket discounts or period offers, targeted discounting is tailored to the individual and offers personalised discounts on products the customer already buys. They allow the supermarket to delight the customer for one of their regular purchases – a sort of ‘thank you for being a customer’ – before trying to get them interested in additional products.

“The great advantage of this kind of personalised pricing is that is completely invisible to the competition, does not waste discounts on people who are unlikely to be incentivised, and allows the supermarket to closely measure return on investment.

“The big money is to be made by appealing to the one in four who might be persuaded to move the larger part of the grocery spend to a rival store. Yet we find the one in ten who might move to an online-only alternative in their area to be particularly interesting – indicative of the growing minority for whom physical location is irrelevant. It will be a minority for years to come, but ever so gradually the balance is shifting, and it is the retail marketers who are keeping a really close eye on (and understanding) these shifting behaviours that will come out on top.”

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