Proven Process: In commercial production with over 1,000,000 amp-hours plated. Service parts in continuous use since 2008.

04 April 2012 Sage Pay

In our most recent issue of Moving Money, we have included a round-up of the results of our 2011 e-business benchmark report as we prepare to survey e-businesses for the 2012 version.

As I was reading the article, I was thinking about how important the first page of your website is.  It really is fundamental in terms of encouraging potential customers to part with their hard-earned cash.  E-commerce is a competitive market with consumers increasingly likely to shop for comparisons before completing their purchase so when a shopper first hits your site, it needs to keep visitors interested, assured and enticed enough to get them to the checkout.

This month, I’ve picked out Sage Pay customer as a great example of a website. Its welcoming, easy to use and exceptionally well thought out.  The business behind the site was set up by Harriet Hastings and her husband Stevie Congdon. They came up with the idea to set up a biscuit gift business online with a difference.  With the tag line “Why send flowers when you can send biscuits”, Biscuiteers craft beautiful hand iced biscuits delivered in gorgeous illustrated keepsake tins.

And as a solely online business, the Biscuiteers team know the importance of providing a rich, interactive shopping experience.  Along the top of the Biscuiteers site, there are clear links to the contact details, account log in and basket.  One of the things we found in our e-business benchmark report is that displaying a shopping basket on your home page and across your site is no longer a differentiator; it’s an absolute must.  Likewise, displaying your contact details clearly helps to reassure your customer that you are easily reachable should you not be happy with your purchase or if you have any queries regarding the service.

Always one for a bargain, I quickly spotted a special offer on the homepage of the Biscuiteers website.  We found in our e-business benchmark report that 76% of top performing businesses are using special offers to entice browsers to convert into browsers.

It’s good practice to display your security policy on your website to show customers that you take their personal data seriously and will use it responsibly.

We found that many top performing sites are differentiating themselves in their use of social media but there’s marginal difference between them and the lower performing sites we looked at.  This point is really important, as it’s not necessarily what you do, but how you do it that will make a difference.  It’s no surprise then to see over three quarters (76%) of our top e-tailers regularly luring visitors to their site through the use of social channels.  Biscuiteers are using Twitter and Facebook to engage in real dialogue with their customers, let them know about new products and when to expect a bargain.  They are also using YouTube to post lessons on baking and icing for anyone who wants to have a go at home!   Biscuiteers display these links as icons to aid navigation.

Top sites are recognising more than ever that customers not only want a good deal, they want it quickly.  Offering next day delivery was the most popular service offering.  If your business is able to offer this, don’t hide it away; it’s a great way to get ahead of the competition.

With a multitude of delicious products available, Biscuiteers have made navigation around the site as easy as possible for their customers by filtering all products, making finding suitable products easier for customers to find.

They keep this up to date with latest events so if you’re looking for some Olympic themed biscuits, then you know where to go - unfortunately they haven’t included the occasion 'I just love biscuits and want to buy some for myself’ which is generally what I would be searching for!

Founder of Biscuiteers, Harriet Hastings told me ‘We're really pleased to have won Sage Pay’s business of the month award.  It is a real tribute to the team at Tom&Co who have worked so hard on our website and the re-launch last September.  As an online retail shop, our website is our real and virtual shop and the heart of our business.  Customer experience  is critical in building sales and improving conversion rate.'

'We didn’t use third party user testers but we did spend a lot of time testing the customer journey and functionality among ourselves before we launched the new website.  The biggest questions we had to answer were around navigation and visibility of our growing product range.  The most important decision we made was to make search by occasion the primary search tool.  We looked at best practice on other sites to make sure our social media strategy was up to date and appropriate to our business model.'

Well done Biscuiteers for being awarded as our Business of the Month.  As websites go, theirs really takes the biscuit and of course, the proof is in the pudding!

Tags: Customer experience, usability, online payments, online shopping, online, conversion rates, payments, online business, Business of the Month, experience, e-tail, ecommerce, Sage Pay's e-business benchmark report, website, Sage Pay's Business of the Month, customer focus, Biscuiteers, e-commerce, Sage Pay

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