New Trend for Shopping on Black Friday

According to comScore (Online behavior measurement), this Thanksgiving, Black Friday online sales topped $1 billion for the first time. Among which Amazon.com was the most-visited retail website, followed by Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target and Apple.

This means that instead of rushing into the store and fighting for the deep discounted goods, more people choose to wear their pajamas and shop comfortably with few clicks online. It is important for companies to follow up with this trend and provide convenient  ways for consumers to shop via internet and mobile platforms. During this Thanksgiving, I notice a few companies that are doing particularly well in this case.

1. L’OCCITANE–Reservation:  

What L’OCCITANE did was sending out emails to customers list, I assume that they are sending to all customers that have  purchased their products online before. Then it provided this “opportunity” for customers to reserve first for their Black Friday deals. The benefit of doing so is that customers not only get a preview of what L’OCCITANE is offering, but also feel valued because they get this “exclusive” email and have the right to shop several hours before regular users of L’OCCITANE’s website for their limited quantities of special goods.

2. Zara: Utilizing both website and mobile platform:

Zara, provided a special section on their website and mobile platform for the consumers to have a preview of what the discounted goods are, this is efficient because statistics has shown that mobile devices had generated 26% of the traffic to the retail websites last Friday. The tricky part is that you don’t get to see the final sale price until midnight, it only sales up to 50% off. Me personally would put the ones that I like in the shopping cart first and wonder what’s the final price, so I would definitely check back after midnight. I think that is the case of most female consumers. Plus there is free shipping and return which further motivate consumers to buy.

3. Combine online deals with social platforms:

There is this commercial blogger  on Sina Micro-blog(Chinese social platform functions like tweeter, and allows the users to upload pictures and videos), which targets at Chinese community in the U.S., mostly students  and white-color workers, now has 679,420 followers worldwide. It consistently post about the deals of almost every kind of consumer goods.  What I feel the companies could do in further promotions is corporate with this kind of blogger and directly speak to the ideal consumers, because the followers are expecting to see deals posted by that particular blogger, which is very likely to result in very high response and conversion rate.

To sum up, how to utilizing this trend and combine multiple ways to promote the products is what the corporations should concentrate on for the future.

ZARA vs. H&M

When we talked about trends of digital marketing in the near future (location service, customization of the products and services, and Socially Generated Content). I think of these two brands, which are the “trends” of fast fashion industry. I wonder how they are doing in terms of keeping up with the trends of digital marketing via mobile platforms.

What I feel is becoming ever important is the simplicity of user interface without losing the basic functions, which yields better user experience. As in the case of Zara and H&M, Zara’s app is better designed, simpler and easier to use. It provides almost the same user experience that you would get from the website because the categories are the same. While in H&M’s case, there is no categorization of the products, it is very poor user experience if you have specific item in mind and are not able to get it easily.

Second, both Zara and H&M use location service, the one on Zara works efficiently, showing all stores near your location fast. Whereas in H&M’s case, the app closed itself for several time while I was trying to locate myself, to me this is another very important trend that H&M are not perform well with even though it has touched on it.

Integrated social platform connections and experience is another important trend in the digital marketing world. While both of them do provide links to share the products with friends. I feel they could have done more. They could set up an official account in instgram and allow the customer to share pictures of their own styling of the cloth, and then after each week/month, Zara or H&M could pick out the ones that received the most likes and create an E-look-book of that and allows the users to share the journal with their friends through various  social platforms.

One feature that only Zara has is Product scanning, I’ve tried it with my own cloth, it works well. After the app picked up the scanning number, it will offer you all the product information and images. However, I feel this is not enough, because having the scanning number at hand meaning I know pretty well of that particular product. What it could further done is providing suggestions for other clothes that goes well with/similar to  this one. If Zara/H&M had the “sending your looks to instagram” project, then it could also suggests other people’s looks using the item the customer scanned. I feel mobile app, should also be available to do some cluster filtering in the near future.

In conclusion, Zara ‘s mobile app is performing much better than the one of H&M in terms of integrated user experience, and it is reflected in their ratings (4 stars vs.3 stars). However, they both have lot of  space to improvement to catch up with the trends in digital marketing, even leading them.

UX optimization for Jurlique.com

We all know how UX could impact the perception of a brand to customers, a bad UX associates with the brand’s website/app would directly impact its brand image, which is exactly what occurred to me  this Saturday when I was trying to place an order on Jurlique.com and became so disappointed to decide that I would not purchase their products online anymore even though Jurlique is one of my favorite skin care brands.

Jurlique is a beauty brand which aims to provide customers with products that combine nature with aesthetically pleasing. I have always be a fan of their brand because of the whole package of the brand image, which is authentic and beautiful, that is until I use their website to make a purchase.

The website design of Jurlique is fine, providing users with constant perception of the brand. The products were categorized by function and scents which is very easy for users to find products that they intend to purchase.

However, the worst part happens in the shopping cart, which is the most important part for customers to make a purchase.

First is its poor inventory monitoring, the shopping cart wouldn’t be able to tell you that something is out of stock until you click the “make the purchase” bottom and expect the website to proceed to the next step. Then you have to delete it from the cart manually and start all over again, without knowing whether the next product you put into the cart is available or not. Chances are they are not, then you have to do it again. Not everyone would be that patient to continue, but if you are a loyal customer, it’s a different story, but that is only for you to have even worse experience.

This Saturday, I was trying to place an order, and it was the worst UX I have experienced for online shopping. The website wouldn’t proceed my payment and I have to call the customer service every time I tried to order. What worst is that basically you need to make even 10 more calls to be serviced once due to the lack of operates. For just one order, I tried to make the payment for nearly 10 times and call the customer service for up to 20 times! Then I ended up with 5 pending on my bank account, spent more than one hour to make it clear by calling the customer service which 90 percent of time is unavailable.

The reason is that all the functions of customer service were served by only one telephone line. There is no online operators to offer customer help immediately as most of the other shopping website do.

Even I am a loyal customer who really like Jurlique’s products, I wouldn’t make a purchase through their website again with such terrible user experience.  Here is what I feel what they can improve for their website:

1. Improve on inventory control, let the website showing real-time storage so that customers don’t have to waste time anymore trying to figure which one is available.

2. Offer different email address and different 800 numbers refer to different customer needs and increase the number of operators so customers would be better served when they have any problem regards to their purchases.

3. Add online supporters to solve the problems of customers immediately.

Another thing Jurlique can do is find out what its competitors have been doing on their websites so they know what customer expect when they make such purchase online. And then try to meet and exceed those standards  to provide superior UX in the industry and enhance its brand perception.

Donate for Hurricane Sandy

While the city recover from the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, we should not forget that there is a lot of people who lost their homes, even their beloved ones due to this tremendous disaster. A way to help now is donate through American Red Cross, according to which, during Tuesday night, had helped more than 9,000 people to stay in 171 Red Cross shelters across 13 states, and served more than 100,800 meals and snacks have been served. Here is a link to the special section of Hurricane Sandy. 

Here is a screen shot of their their website specifically designed for the donation to hurricane Sandy.

From my prospective, it is clear and simple, and  the picture/story of the victims  is engaging and motivates us to donate. On the right corner, there are the social media platforms that allow the viewers to share the page. For me, what I think can be further done by American Red Across is an email campaign  aims to generate more donation for the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

The email campaign could be exactly alike this website page, however, with more pictures and less words since people who open them might not have that much time to go through lots of words.  Here are some of the examples that might be used in the email:

Also, we need to make people aware that blood  is also needed in the email and encourage them to make appointment to donate.

Instead of offering the volunteers T-Shirts with red cross, this time we could do something digital and different. The people who make a donation would be added to a virtual  picture wall that created on the Facebook page, and later would be made a postcard and sent to them.

 Together we can help these people in need!

“I don’t wanna grow up”

“I don’t wanna grow up” is a campaign designed for “Toys R Us” targeted at people who was born at the 80s‘, aims to bring back their beautiful memory with “Toys R Us” in their childhood to create the unique bond with them. Also, the campaign would be expected to create buzz through social websites among various group of people thus further enhance the brand image.

At the time of the campaign, there will be videos of the 80’s commercial playing in the stores as well as shared through social websites. People who share the videos would be invited with a virtual ticket to visit the exhibition of the “Toys in the 80’s” that are hold in various stores, the first experimental store could be the one in times square where there are a lot of tourist  and is the center of Manhatten so that we are more likely to create a buzz.

The toy exhibition would include vintage dolls, game and puzzles, video games, and toys from other categories that were once popular among the 80’s children. This helps bring back their beautiful memories, and create an emotional bond between them and Toys R Us(they might already have their own kids by now), so that when they want to purchase a toy for anyone they would immediately think of Toys R us.

The influence of this campaign would also be featured online through Facebook page and twitter links, so that the influence would be more wide spread among our target audience.

Another activity that will be hold simultaneously in the store is based on an innovative and fun idea of transforming the shadow of one’s gesture on the screen to a monster/animal based on the shape of it, and it comes with the authentic sounds of that particular monster/animal.  Anyone could participate in this activity since the technology would recognize the gestures and create the shape and sounds of the monster/animal automatically on the screen.

Also, besides this interactive “Gesture Fun” for anyone who visits the store, there could even be shows performed by professional gesture artists in store. The following picture displays how the performance can be displayed on the digital screen of Toys R Us. Not only will it generate more traffic into the store, but also engage people to talk about what has been going on lately with Toys R Us’s new campaign.

I believe there is a part of everyone that is still a child, and never want to grow up.  =)

Advanced App for Whole Foods Market

What is available for the Whole Foods Market fans nowadays is an app that would work on any iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, which aims to provide the customers with recipes with natural and organic foods that include everything from dinner entrees to breakfast and beverages. What we would do is take a step further to modify some of its functions so that the app would be more user-friendly thus attracting more subscribers.

When the customers want to find a recipe, there are basically three ways using the app now, which is filter by categories–for whom you are cooking for, target special diets–function of the diet that you pursue, and reversed search meaning search by the  ingredients you already have.  (Search by target special diets is displayed in the following picture).

Then after you select what recipe you like, the app would allow you to add the ingredients in the shopping list, and use the store locator to find out the nearest store to you.

What we feel that Whole Foods Market could take a step further is cooperate with Nike fuel band, because these two brands have the same target audience–people who cares about physical fitness and a healthy lifestyle. What we could improve on this app is that when the fuel band user updates his/her daily calories burned based on the information generated by the fuel band, the Whole Foods Market app, based on the users’ personal information that they would be required to enter at the very beginning, would give suggestion of the recipes that the user could have to stay fit and enjoy a good meal.

This is how the information could be gathered:

The fuel band keeps track of the exercise information as displayed by the picture, when the special edition comes out, there would be a link in this app to directly connect the user to the Whole Foods Market app. The new modified version of Whole Foods Market app would just add three simple steps to provide a much better integrated user experience!

1. When the fuel band user first enter the app, they would be required to fill in their personal information, including their gender, age group, weight, height, and food preference(high fiber/ low fat/vegan…)

2. The exercise information would be transit into the Whole Foods Market app, and based on the recommendation system, the app would pick the top ones that the user might like in as much as variety as possible.

3. The recipes would pump up, and act like the current version of the Whole Foods Market app, which enables the user to make a shopping list based on it.

After consumers select the recipe they like, they would be lead to the shopping cart directly and add those items to their lists. This new app aims to create a close bond between Whole Foods Market and its users, and expand the customer base  by targeting the Nike Fuel users.

Designing experiences

The video displays a user-experience oriented product–the Samsung GALAXY Note 10.1 in an authentic way, showing that it provides endless possibilities to elevate a user’s creativity and productivity. This brought to us the idea of “Design Experiences”,  the importance of constantly improving user experience with design thinking, especially in the  digital products market, which is extremely competitive and ever-changing.

There are plenty of reasons for companies to engage in designing experiences, Apple, with its superior user experience design, has proven a great success world wide, even set the standard for competition in many ways for the tablets,such as multitasking as it shows in the video.  According to one Wall Street Journal article,Apple by far shares 68% of world market share by operating system the second quarter this year, there is still long way to go for Microsoft to catch up with it, which again calls for the implication of the design thinking through the entire organization. Also, better user experience has proven to yield better ROI, which is the ultimate goal for any business.

But how do we design the “best” user experience? As a marketer, the one most important thing is understand customers. This understanding is not accomplished just by designing questionnaires and coordinating surveys,  but by really thinking about who are the customers and what do they want on their ground.

When we really understand the customer, it is time to imply the design thinking in every aspect of our product/service, what we are able to provide should go beyond what our customers states they want. By defining their needs, we would become the leader in whatever we are doing, just like what Apple has done successfully in the mobile/tablet/personal computer category. Better user experience is the core concept that drives the growth of Apple ultimately.

What we would accomplish with “Design best experiences” in the end is  better ROI. The result could be measured differently, depending on the industry/business the organization is in.

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex… It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. ”  —Albert Einstein