Category Archives: Strategy

The hypothetical story of a failed retailer – Palm Beach Shoes

cheaper than on-line sign in shop windowI was walking down one of Sydney’s most popular shopping strips yesterday – Oxford Street. In the window of Palm Beach Shoes was this sign (pictured above). At first it surprised me. A well known boutique retailer of pretty decent shoes has resorted to adding a desperate handmade sign to cut through. It reminded me of signs homeless people create that tell their story about how they ended up without a place to live.

The hypothetical story behind Palm Beach’s sign is probably this: A couple rent a tiny shop on Oxford St. With high competition but massive footfall they decide their key points of difference will be range and price. As one Yelp reviewer commented, ‘they’ve got pretty much one of every shoe that’s in fashion right now.’ Another one proclaims, that ‘you get the shoes you desire at a reasonable price. Great value for money.’ High sales result from strong word of mouth marketing and shoppers wanting a bargain in one of Sydney’s most expensive shopping precincts. Meanwhile, owners sip strawberry daiquiris at the Paddington Inn every Friday night.

Then something happens. Sales decline. The owners freak out and put a massive orange ‘SALE’ sign on their front window to reinforce their great prices. They continue to sell the same range of trendy shoes but sales still continue to drop. The GFC doesn’t help but Australia dodged the bullet compared to the rest of the world. What is really happening?

THE INTERNET

‘What’s that?’ the owners of Palm Beach Shoes must have asked. I’m confident that you know what the internet is. You probably also know that online shopping is on the rise and shop shopping is on the decline. A recent Swinburne University study shows Australians shop online more regularly than people in most other countries, spending on average $206 a month.

Palm’s target market (16-40 year old females who want a bargain pair of fashionable shoes) are savvy and online. With online shops like ASOS, Threadless and Next Direct they can get great prices for well made merchandise. Decent return policies and secure transactions reassure the savvy shoppers who, at the end of the day, won’t have to battle the crowds, wait in line or try and find a rockstar park.

There are two versions of the next chapter for shops like Palm Beach Shoes. The first is that they go into liquidation (cue 1990’s Dr. Evil finger to the mouth). The second is that they get a website (cue 2010’s Austin Powers).

In the not too distant future we will buy everything online. Shops will just be collection points or return shoots. They will be judged not on their customer service but on their UX. Shopping around will be done in clicks and not in days. The consumer will win.

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A few ways the AFL can improve its Digital Strategy

Ted Richards marks against Nick Riewoldt

Australia’s most popular football code does a lot of things right online. The AFL recently announced on Twitter that it would be running UX workshops for its website. The workshops will hopefully pick up a bunch of usability issues such as cross browser bugs and confusing IA.

In addition to addressing these issues here are four ways the league can improve it’s digital strategy.

1. Stop using Microsoft Silverlight.

It’s basically Microsoft’s version of Adobe Flash and it doesn’t work on iDevices. This means a whole bunch of people can’t watch any of the AFL videos and highlights. The AFL needs to embrace HTML5 and let everyone in on the action.

User Experience needs to be more heavily integrated into the design of AFL digital properties. People should be enjoying AFL content online not thinking twice.

2. Report the bad stuff as well as the good stuff.

Lets face it, when news breaks in the AFL, people don’t go to AFL.com.au. Why? Because the AFL is so worried about it’s image, bad PR and being number 1 that it can’t be transparent, open and honest with the public. The benefit of coming clean, letting its hair down and been more transparent (especially via social media) is that the league can lead stories rather than go around with a pooper scooper.

3. Engage with Fans

Social media offers so many opportunities for players and the clubs to listen, discuss and feedback. This doesn’t just mean posting photos on Facebook. It means actively engaging with the community online.

The AFL needs to utlilise more platforms more efficiently. That could be an incentivised swarm on FourSquare or even just broadcasting the match hashtags on TV. Strategist Hugh Munro suggests coaches should run Google Hangouts with fans. This could be a great way for the AFL to connect with supporters overseas or in remote areas.

DemandMedia are doing some good things with the AFL by running live chats during football events. Eventually these should be tablet friendly and you’ll be able to engage with live games, view alternate angles, ask Paul Roos questions and turn Bruce off.

The AFL needs a mobile strategy not just an App. Smart phone usage is increasing by the quarter and the AFL needs to work out how and why followers are using their mobile to obtain AFL related content. An improved understanding and strategy can be leveraged for mobile advertising and greater exposure.

4. The Footy Record Online needs an upgrade.

One of the league’s greatest assets – the Footy Record – has a terrible existence online. It’s an embarrassment and it needs to be fixed. Where is the iPad app or HTML5 Football Record website?

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Why brands should offer you a drink

Beer

What if brands put more effort into rewarding their site visitors?

When users go to a website they are either browsing (‘Show me what you got’) or wanting to complete a simple task (‘What time do you close?’). Regardless, consumers are considering a brand in some way. Even if it’s for just a few seconds they are engaged with the brand, in the brand’s house.

What’s the first thing you do when you have a guest? You offer them a drink, you thank them for going out of their way to come to your pad and you reward them. The result is for guests to feel more at home and to feel good.

Hospitality principles translate to UX. Users who are rewarded feel good.

Rewards are scalable and can include anything from tangible gifts to significant discounts, valuable coupons, useful resources, enjoyable games or amazing content. Yes – many sites do this already but it’s not always clear that the brand is rewarding its users. Expectations need to be carefully set and exceeded for rewards to have an optimal effect. So a brand that makes users feel welcome will benefit greatly. As brands scramble for our attention online rewards will be the key factor in winning users trust and dollars.

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Is Facebook Open Graph Doomed?

Facebook Dislike button

Facebook recently announced a raft of take-over-the-internet updates at their yearly conference – F8.

A significant update is an auto-share feature that will mean everything you read on certain sites will be shared with your Facebook buddies. Instead of selecting the Recommend or Like button on every SMH article that you want to share you will just tick once the Add to Timeline button. It will share anything you do on the site like comment, watch videos, listen to music or any other interaction.

This has a few potential issues including the embarrassment of viewing articles you probably shouldn’t. My beef with the feature is that social media isn’t about sharing everything – it’s about sharing the best stuff. Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Last.fm, FourSquare, Yammer, Google+ shine light on what your network likes. This is the underlying strategy behind the Google +1 button and Facebook’s social ads and sponsored stories. Turning Facebook into a stream of people’s entire online activity will dilute it’s value.

Auto-sharing won’t do Facebook any favours in winning over privacy skeptics either. Who wants to be thinking – is this site on my timeline? Have I shared this article already? What if I want to add a comment to a story I’ve already shared automatically?

What do you think? The Like button is possibly the most passive/meaningless way to share content but is auto-sharing going one step too far?

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