What is bad for your app or online shop? According to Tanja Borzel from the HolidayPirates Group, when the journey of your customer in it becomes more of an odyssey than a straightforward go-get-it. In this interview, Tanja shares spot-on insights on the importance of the right Design, User Interface and User Experience for your business – whether big or small. A must-read for anyone thinking these three are “something we’ll focus on later”.
Paulina, Ecommerce Capitals: You work as Product Manager, UX / Art Director at the HolidayPirates Group. Could tell us a bit more about what your job there entails and how it affects people – your users & customers?
Tanja Borzel, HolidayPirates GmbH: Being a product manager is a very diverse job. That’s why I love it. You get to do a lot of things, develop your skills and always learn something new. There are probably not two PMs that tell you the exact same story about how their work life is.
The UI/UX part in my job comes from me being originally a designer, so the look & feel, proper layout, typography and user flows are very important to me in all my projects. This means I’m going to challenge my team on these aspects and not release a project which doesn’t satisfy my expectations. Users will profit from this clarity to find important things faster and not get lost.
I’m a holiday pirate since the early beginning, when it was a tiny startup of five people. Now there are around 200 employees. While the company grew, processes had to be reviewed and adapted constantly, and new departments with new needs developed, all of which fuelled a feeling that I was basically doing a different job every half year. But of course, while the company itself matured, my main responsibility remained the same: Make sure we have a great product out there.
A very important part of my job are ideas. Without good ones, your product is going to be lifeless, mediocre. Excellent ideas can come from everywhere, but there are always at least ten times more ideas than time and resources. Collecting, curating and promoting the most relevant ideas into features are essential. Only the ones that will achieve key objectives should be promoted. I’m owning the roadmap, so I have to make sure everyone understands the strategy and the business value, in order to build what matters. There is so much more to the job. Basically, the quality of the PM decides if all parts of the product make sense, are useful and innovative, are released in a time- and resource-efficient manner, thus making the company money and not burning it.
What is the most difficult – and undervalued – part of your job?
Getting the needs and expectations of all business units aligned. Obviously nobody is ever truly happy with the amount of time and resources they get... So they try to get projects relevant to their own business area to be prioritized over other ones. It’s completely understandable, but it does take noticeable effort to maintain a strictly functional roadmap. If you don’t stand your ground, soon that roadmap is overcrowded with nice-to-haves and pet projects.
The HolidayPirates Group is a travel company offering flight, hotel, and package deals through 11 travel portals in 7 language versions. In terms of website/app design and UX, are there any stark differences between the markets you are present on? Is this all somewhat uniform – or perhaps there are some local peculiarities that you need to consider?
Design and UX are almost the same for all of our markets. Currently we’re operating only in European countries and the USA. This means the UX in our markets is not as different from each other than if we also had Asian or African markets. Nonetheless, there are differences between all the countries. They are “details”, but if we didn’t care for them, using website and app would constantly feel a bit off to our local users, and we might even face trust issues.
To start with the basics; in order to structure a number like “1000” and improve its readability, some countries will use commas, some periods and some white spaces. In our case we often publish prices in our deals, so the currency symbol comes into play as well. Some countries prefer to put the currency in front of the price, some put it after the numbers. Dates will not only vary in which separating character is used (backslash or full stop), but also if the day and then the month is displayed or vice versa. If you care to show the hour of the day, make sure to check if you’re operating in a 24-hour system or the usage of AM/PM is preferred.
Some market differences are also due to legal requirements, for example the cookie disclaimer that you’ll find on any EU-based website nowadays, which is not needed in the US. Something else that’s especially important for German users are trust badges. It’s much harder to convince a German to buy on an ecommerce platform if its trustworthiness is not vetted by trust badges.
But all those things have nothing on language itself. It might not look like it at first glance, but there are tons of interface texts all over app and website. There are multiple challenges here: During the design process, mocking up the UI in English just doesn’t do. It would only result in either cut-off or overlapping texts on the translated product. A short English text can expand up to 3 times in another language, and if you account for unlucky word wrapping situations, it might even become larger. This ruins the most nifty of designs, and is even more upsetting when discovered after the design phase, so you have to redo the layout completely.
Another challenge with language is how true the translation stays to the original. In our case, words have to convey their meaning concisely, but at the same time we try to give a “pirate” touch to everything! It’s just how our brand is, and the users love it. There is no way around a native speaker (regardless how fluent you are), and a lot of back-and-forth communication about the intention, meaning and feeling of a certain word or sentence.
What exciting projects have you recently worked on at HolidayPirates? And what exciting is yet to come?
We always have several projects in simultaneous development. They are all exciting in their own way, but probably I’m just too biased! I just love how each of them makes its own small or big contribution to the idea of HolidayPirates. Some add new functionalities for our users to enjoy, like the recent revamp of our custom travel alerts. Some enable long-awaited possibilities for our staff, like additional data tracking or new tools for our editors to find good deals and create mouth-watering articles about them.
We have a few very cool projects in the pipeline, that will definitely delight our users once they get a taste of it. But you’ll have to see for yourself – for now I have to keep it under wraps. All I can say is: You’re gonna be amazed!
Based on your Design and UX expertise, what changes in these two domains have you seen throughout your so far professional career? What did Design and UX mean in the past compared to what it means now?
When I started working in the field, skeuomorphism was still a huge thing, at least in the Apple-centric world. Everyone marvelled at the complexity and intense level of detail that went into making app icons. They were literally artwork! At the same time, people became increasingly uneasy about what that meant for asset sizes and the effort that had to go into visuals. With each Apple keynote the default icon sizes doubled, and the industry worried about exponentially growing app sizes.
Then in 2013 Apple finally abandoned their hyper-realistic visual language and produced their own take on flat design, which had been spearheaded by Microsoft and Google already for quite a while. Although it was a huge step into the opposite direction, Apple wouldn’t go all the way. They kept some whimsical things, and their extensive use of neon-colored gradients elicited a lot of criticism and mocking. My personal highlight in that regard was someone submitting a picture of the actual iOS7 “charging” home screen to a blog exclusively dedicated to showing made-up “redesigned” things for people to laugh at the impossible creations. Well played!
After that, it seems to be an almost all-encompassing win for flat design. This trend has continued to thrive and is very much alive and kicking today.
Design and UX have made much bigger leaps a couple of years back than now. Hardly anything groundbreaking has happened in the last few years. As with smartphone manufacturers, who have spent more than a decade refining their products, and now tend to improve them only marginally with every iteration, UI/UX patterns have become solved problems. Every designer has now vast libraries of interaction patterns at their fingertips, which offer an excellent starting point for all kinds of situations. As voice controlled devices enter our living rooms and augmented reality is becoming a recent trend popular once more again, those may present new challenges for the ones working on them. And also, there is the Internet of Things, which is very interesting and opens up a new playing field.
Can you give our readers any examples of best mobile website & app designs? What makes them great in our opinion?
I’m just in love with Duolingo. They push continuously for a better product and it shows. To some, their style is a bit too much on the “childish” side. I like how they combine flat design with cute illustrations. But the more relevant part is that they are constantly experimenting, running hundreds of small and big A/B tests all the time. Whether it’s features, UX, UI, core concepts … they are reinventing themselves every day. I have huge respect for this company, not just because of their great product, but also because they genuinely seem to be amazing people. Check out their blog.
Another all-time favourite of mine is Pocket. I use it every day. Really revolutionized my phone reading habits. What makes it great is the minimalist style that doesn’t get in your way, and how they carefully chose the options to customize that to your liking. If you’re going to read for hours in there, it’s important that you like what you see, after all. Sadly, not fully available in the free version of the app anymore, I was happy to discover the “dark” mode, helping me read through so many nights. To be able to choose a serif or sans serif font style made the typography nerd in me rejoice. Even better, they show mercy with those that have bad eyesight. Reading for hours in bed was made possible only because I could increase the font size enough to read without my glasses.
Putting brand names aside (and keeping them a secret), what is the other side of the pole? What are the worst examples – and the worst mistakes made?
Hard to believe nowadays, but horribly designed apps still exist. Maybe it’s just me digging around obscure topics and coming across niche products that didn’t age well. I can stand neither bad UX nor bad design, and whenever such an app makes it onto my device for whatever reason, it won’t stay long.
Hard to tell where bad design ends and mistakes begin. A no-go without doubt is everything that feels clunky or heavy, is slow and painful to use. You find those annoyances in every category, and they are closely followed by poor interfaces and bad user flows. For example when looking for a thing, which you know has to be in there, becomes more of an odyssey than a straightforward go-get-it.
I must say I don’t mind outdated or old-fashioned design styles very much, as long as the two above problems aren’t present. Not abiding by the latest visual trends is really not a big deal compared to huge usability issues. Old design isn’t necessarily bad design. Of course, I let that slide for old products only! If you have a something alive and kicking now, giving it a slick design is a must!
Looking at ecommerce and SMBs, is the focus on design and UX a must-do even for the smaller players? In your opinion, what type of smaller ecommerce businesses do – and do not – need to have their own designer & UX specialist on board?
In my opinion, nobody can afford subpar design and UX. I’m not saying that each and every business needs to employ a design specialist. This can be financially impossible when you’re only two people and just starting out. Depending on your line of business you might be able to make use of cheap website templates for a good while. But this can’t go on forever. There is the absolute need to get a professional involved, and the time for that is much sooner than owners of small businesses would think. It doesn’t even have to be hiring. There are really good freelance designers and UX consultants around. To answer the question, yes, it’s a must-do even for small players! If the fingers on one hand are not enough anymore to count your employees, it’s time to get a specialist on board.
How much does website/app design and UX affect sales? How can we measure this impact?
Design and UX have a huge impact on sales. Users nowadays are used to fast and smooth experiences, getting to where they want to be quickly, and buying what they want almost effortlessly. Sometimes just with one click. Or a voice command.
If implemented properly, excellent UI/UX removes all obstacles from the customer’s path to purchase, and it instills the trust they need to pull through with it. If they don’t trust that your product delivers what you promise, and they will actually receive it after the payment process, they won’t buy.
The impact of design and UX changes can be easily measured by tools that let you test your original version against one or several different versions. There is a huge variety of free and paid tools. You can perfectly start with trying what free ones have to offer, and they often enable you to perform simple tests without needing to get a developer involved. Starting split testing will give you unexpected insights. Soon you’ll thirst for more! I recommend getting a tool that offers additional services like crowdsourced testing. They don’t look cheap at first glance, but the quick real-world user feedback will speed up your product cycles immensely, not only saving you big bucks in the long run, but also leading to better sales figures.
What resources would you recommend to those of our readers who would like to better understand this impact?
If you start looking, you’ll find a plethora of research, case studies, benchmarks and articles. While it is notoriously difficult to assign a ROI to UX beforehand, the results of many done projects are out in the open.
My favourite to follow is the Baymard Institute. They conduct a lot of research and publish very detailed articles about their findings, which are also entertaining to read. They give a very good overview, and in-depth research is there to buy as well. I suggest to just go through their articles (a new one is published every two weeks) to get a good picture of what they’re doing. And you’ll learn a lot already by just doing that.
In your opinion, what are the current hottest trends in website/app design and UX that will soon rule the world? Is there anything that will be particularly popular in 2018?
For me, the next big thing is machine learning and AI. Although AI is a topic that has been around for quite a while, we are witnessing its rapid development right now. On a side note, I can’t recommend highly enough Tim Urban’s article on AI on his blog Wait But Why. Also, the complete rest of his posts as well. Thank me later!
Remember what the automobile did to the horse carriage industry? I’m not saying that designer’s jobs will completely vanish into thin air, but they will look very different pretty soon. Not 2018 though, but the transformation will start affecting the industry soon. We already see commercial products that aim to remove the tedious legwork part of the job. And we shouldn’t be afraid of technology taking the boring jobs from us. I’m all for getting rid of repetitive tasks; this frees up our time to focus on the more strategic side of design. As already hinted at earlier, vast libraries of UI components are available to efficiently assemble product interfaces. Design styles have become simple and easy to standardize through flat design. This means a machine can do it. We can be its boss, tell it what we want and correct it to get the best outcome. Split testing is an excellent candidate for being taken over by machines as well. Looking automatically for optimization potential, implementing that change and running the test, analyzing results and updating the design with the best version, and then starting the cycle again.
The biggest chance this whole automated machine learning process opens up is a groundbreakingly thorough personalization for each and every of your users out there. AI will take it to the next level. The user’s experience with digital interfaces will become fluid. The UI layer of a digital product will be able to automatically re-render content to accommodate a user’s unique needs, preferences, personality, etc. Designing for the majority will become obsolete. Although people may still fall into bigger and smaller groups, it’ll no longer be an issue to accommodate everyone. Providing different solutions to different people will become much less of a resource issue.
It’s easy to see that this development radically changes the notion of what a visual and a UX designer does. We might be surprised to discover that the robots that took worker’s jobs in factories are now finally coming for us. There are few examples where the revolution that took countless jobs, gives back the same or a higher amount of similar jobs. Those that were put out of work by the commercial success of cars didn’t all become chauffeurs or mechanics. And while the rise of motorized individual transport was followed eventually by more dire consequences, for example environmental problems, look at today! Technological advancements have overall done so much more good than bad. Completely new, previously unimaginable industries were born, there are types of work only science fiction writers could have thought of, and some more that nobody would have believed to ever exist 15 years ago. We’ll be fine. Unless AI kills us all, which might actually happen, but that’s not a hot trend for 2018. Yay!
“The consumer pressure for more convenience is driving the race to reduce delivery lead times. (…) If everyone continues to want to drive in the ‘fast lane’, this will eventually lead to a traffic jam. And 2018 is predicted to be a particularly acute jam,” says Darko Atijas from Neopost Shipping. In this interview before his talk at the E-commerce Berlin Expo, he shares spot-on remarks on the current state of logistics in ecommerce – and the state-of-the-art solutions developed to meet this demand.
Paulina, Ecommerce Capitals: Since June 2017 you are the Sales Director Europe at Neopost Shipping. What does your position involve, how large is your team, what key responsibilities do you have?
Darko Atijas, Sales Director Europe at Neopost Shipping: The reality is this responsibility started even before the official title change. During the acquisition of Temando by Neopost Shipping, we decided early on to join forces and not duplicate efforts where possible. We subsequently extended our focus to include additional Neopost Shipping product like Packcity, and our carrier technology stack to cater for the full cart to customer proposition.
Today, my main marketing responsibility is as the lead regional representative across all products. At a sales level, it is migrating all of our existing business onto our new technology Software as a Service contracts as well as securing new retail, carrier and channel contracts. I am responsible across the business to ensure our success.
I am proud to say that we have 20 people across sales and regional marketing in Europe. We are focused on developing an inclusive, transparent and results-based culture. Most importantly, we are retaining a learning culture where team members are encouraged to ‘push the envelope’ and learn from failure when it happens. In a fast-moving environment this is hugely important to our success as a business.
Neopost Shipping is a provider of supply chain technology from cart to customer. Your product portfolio includes shipping/tracking software for retail, Magento Shipping, Parcel Lockers, and a range of other hi-tech solutions. Yet, the company started in 1999, in times when everything was different – especially the technologies. How has the company changed since then? Is the team larger – or more specialised? How do you steer the course of your development?
In recent years, Neopost Shipping has made significant investments in delivery management technologies for Commerce, with a strong focus on eCommerce sector, which experiences sustainable growth on all continents. Neopost Shipping has specialised in Supply Chain management software as well as data acquisition technologies and has a strong combination of technology and domain knowledge in Transport, Logistics and Supply Chain processes. In order to develop increasingly innovative offers, we put Research & Development at the heart of our business, and half of our resources are devoted to Product Development and Technology. Our R&D teams are based in France, the Netherlands, the USA, Australia and Vietnam.
What’s the Neopost Shipping’s current position in Europe?
Neopost Shipping currently has over 400 people working for its clients, located in France, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Spain, the United States, Australia, Singapore and Japan. We also distribute our solutions in Europe, Asia and North America via subsidiaries of the Neopost Group, and to the other continents via the Export division.
Our solutions and business expertise have already attracted major players in Europe. In the Express transport and freight forwarding sector, such as Geopost, Geodis, Chronopost, Relais Colis, Parcelforce Worldwide, DHL Express. In the Postal industry there is La Poste or Royal Mail. In the Supply Chain sector we cooperate with DHL Supply Chain. In the Specialized Logistics sector, there is Baudelet aDHL Freight. In the Industrial sector we have Nespresso or Renault. In the traditional Distribution sector there is Metro Cash & Carry, Carrefour, Sephora, Kohl’s, Staples, Galeries Lafayette. And finally, in the eCommerce and Catalog Sell sectors our partners include La Redoute, Asos, Sunny Europe.
And what’s your position in Germany?
Germany is a very unique market. Germany’s consumers have been more guarded in their embrace of digital buying compared with some other European markets. Digital buyers have their own preferences depending on the country. For example, in Germany they are far more likely than those in the UK or France to pick up ecommerce orders from lockers in train stations or other public places. So that could potentially be a market for our parcel locker solution, Packcity.
According to Statista, revenue in the German "eCommerce" market amounts to $69M in 2018. Revenue is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2018-2022) of 6.5 % for us that’s definitely an interesting market to monitor. As a subsidiary of the Neopost Group, we have a presence in Germany and Shipping is developing capabilities in Germany through a partner-led model. One concrete example of this is our Magento Shipping and Order Management partnership. You can actually meet us at the event on the Meet Magento stand if you have any questions.
What competitors do you have – and what do you do to gain or maintain advantage?
Competition exists at each individual stage of the value chain, from cart-to-customer. However, there is not a single competitor able to offer an end-to-end solution as we do. This positioning offers 4 major added-value to our customers:
Delivery is the crucial element of the online customer experience. What are the biggest challenges that you and other companies operating in this niche face?
The biggest challenges we face as a global company is to understand the markets. If all retailers want to offer the best customer experience, this means something different in each market. As I said before, German customers are quite keen to use click and collect. In the UK, in turn, it is still a developing market because the UK digital buyers used to be more interested in getting parcels delivered to their home. For the carriers, the motivation is the same: offering the best customer experience. Amazon has disrupted the market, and customers are now used to ‘better, faster, cheaper’.
Most recently, we are seeing an investment crunch in delivery capacity. The consumer pressure for more convenience is driving the race to reduce delivery lead times. Consumers want this owing to services like Amazon Prime and consumer apps like Uber and Deliveroo. It is an inevitable trend that is exacerbated through age groups. Millenials are far more likely to value speed over cost. The issue with this pressure is that carriers and retailers cannot keep up with the level of investment required to match this demand. Wall Street, Frankfurt + The City of London will simply not allow them to raise money as cheaply as Amazon to keep up with demand and required capital investment. Therefore, if everyone continues to want to drive in the ‘fast lane’, this will eventually lead to a traffic jam. And 2018 is predicted to be a particularly acute jam.
So how are retailers and carriers collaborating to solve this issue? Get the inventory as close as possible to the customer. Through better integrated order management, retailers are better able to offer click and collect and ship from store options. We are focused on this as a differentiator for retailers. In addition to this, offer dynamic cart hourly slot and same day delivery options as a ‘premium’ and paid service offering it is possible for retailers to curate which products (or orders, or customers, or locations) are shipped at a premium service. This allows retailers and carriers to have much healthier commercial relationships.
What happens when click and collect runs out of steam? We are seeing automation through parcel lockers as a key part of this strategy. We have successfully done this with retailers like Auchan and Decathlon and have helped them manage volume of customer collections through automation. Shipping direct from store is also very much at the core of our retailers’ Omnichannel fulfilment capabilities.
As you’ve mentioned, globally, the portfolio of brands using your solutions is truly impressive: there’s DHL Express, Royal Mail, Australia Post, Singapore Post, Renault, Carrefour, Sephora, and many more. How different are your solutions depending on the location you sell them to? How much different are the supply chains?
We don’t sell all of our products in all markets. For example, our solution Packcity has been implemented in France for many years while we are piloting it in the UK. It depends on the maturity of the market and the real need of retailers and carriers. In terms of our supply chain software, Temando Enterprise, we make integrations with carriers according to the country we sell the product into. It is very much a tailored solution, designed for the retailer, depending on its goals and existing infrastructure and technology. One of the main drivers for our investment in restructuring is levelling the product offering globally in our key markets in the US, Europe and Australia/NZ.
How do you design new products? How are the ideas for these products born? Are they taken from the business – or perhaps from the perspective of the end customers?
We have developed very innovative products for our retailer’s needs. I’ll give you two examples. The first is CVP-500, an automated system that enables to pack orders in fit-to-size parcels created on the fly in a few seconds. This system optimizes parcel dimensions, automates the packing process, enables to reduce packing materials (cardboard and void fill) and saves storage space of standard packing boxes. A unique automated solution that generates operational and financial savings while reducing the shipper’s carbon footprint. CVP-500 was born from the idea of offering e-commerce players an alternative to shipping their orders in oversized cartons. It needed 18 months of development between the idea and the prototype. The first machine was installed in prototype in September 2013 at the Dutch e-logistician DocData. A phase of continuous improvement followed from 2013 to 2015 thanks to the feedback of various pilots. The machine was officially launched in Benelux at the end of 2015 and then launched in several major markets, including France, UK and Germany. This is now successfully used by European customers like C-Discount.
Another example is Zenda. Zenda is the answer to the increase in international e-commerce, growing at 25% per year. Traditional cargo businesses rely on a slow, offline process and are focused on a small number of large logistics customers. Retailers in the USA have two options to ship internationally: use fast but expensive express delivery, or cheap but slow postal shipping. Zenda saw a gap in the market to meet the needs of small and medium enterprises in the USA. Zenda fills the void between fast but expensive express delivery, and cheap but slow postal shipping. It is a revolutionary logistics platform that delivers packages from the retailer’s warehouse to the customer’s door. Zenda provides door-to-door tracking and delivers packages in just 4 to 7 days. Duties and taxes are also paid upfront, so customers aren't presented with a surprise bill they were not expecting when their package arrives. Zenda is currently shipping parcels with a pilot customer since October 2017. In 2018, we will expand the Zenda proposition to new markets, routes and airline partners.
We are continuing to invest and partner on new products at a steady pace. R+D continues to represent a significant portion of our global revenue.
On the 15th of February 2018 you will appear at the E-commerce Berlin Expo with a talk titled “Progress or Perish: the technology flywheel”. Can you reveal more details? What are you going to talk about?
We will keep some cards close to our chest, but sure! Every aspect of commerce, and Supply Chain is being disrupted through ever increasing technology leaps. The pace of change is increasing exponentially because of automation and Artificial Intelligence, and only businesses willing to take calculated and regular risk will survive in an increasingly competitive landscape. Consumer technology is driving increased consumer expectations. Businesses investing in predictive capabilities will only spur demand further and further squeeze the supply chain. Commerce is becoming more and more fragmented and fuelled by huge investment in ecommerce, supply chain, and in-store technology innovation. Retailers that don’t embrace these changes, invest NOW, and entrench technology at the very core of their being will disappear much more quickly than in the past. I’ll be discussing some strategies businesses can embrace to curb this trend.
Who do you address your talk to the most? Small ecommerce players of big fish?
Our solutions are relevant to any retailers. They share the same pain points and objectives: offering the best customer experience. We’ve done a research in 2017 and we found that consumers, now more than ever, demand choice. Retailers must offer the shipping options consumers expect, within an acceptable price range, or consumers find another retailer that does. When you look at why a consumer abandon the cart, you find shipping as a major reason. For 54%, the cost of shipping was too high. For 39%, free shipping was not offered. For 26%, the shipping was going to be too slow or inconvenient. At the top end of retail, E100M+, we do tend to work and contract with retailers directly. In the expansive mid-market, we tend to offer our solutions via partners like Magento where we underpin their delivery proposition.
Based on your experience with industry events, how should people – not speakers, but exhibitors and visitors in particular – prepare in advance to make the most of such meetings? What advice would you give?
I think the best is to have a look at the list of exhibitors and attendees and create a top list of the people you want to talk to. I would then connect on LinkedIn with them and let them know that I would like to meet them at the event. Also networking is key. You should be visible at every networking event you can find. And again connect on LinkedIn with everybody you have been talking to. I would also be quite vocal on Twitter using the official hashtag, so I make myself visible and I can follow the conversations going on.
And what do you expect from industry events such as the E-commerce Berlin Expo?
I expect to network with retailers, connect with partners, and learn from the industry. Of course, we will have some fun as well! Berlin is a great city worth exploring!
The doors to the E-Commerce Berlin Expo 2018 are opening in two weeks and you can now officially take a look at the agenda! Panel discussions, top-notch speakers and industry leading exhibitors are present for a full day around the talk of the town - E-Commerce!
On February 15, 2018 more than 4000 visitors, 120 exhibitors, speakers and experts from the entire e-commerce spectrum will gather for the Berlin’s most anticipated e-commerce event of the year, the E-Commerce Berlin Expo 2018! Industry giants such as L’Oreal, eBay, Facebook, Google, Zalando, Scout24, DeinDesign and Notebooksbilliger have confirmed their attendance!
Besides panel discussions and speakers, the agenda also includes the E-Commerce Berlin Awards this year. 8 out of 200 companies were selected via public voting and a prestigious jury panel, made out of industry experts, to take home the award. The final awards ceremony will take place at the E-Commerce Berlin Expo.
Across 4000 m2 of exhibition room speakers such as Victoria Chirita, (Founder) DeinDesign, Deniz Macura, (Strategic Partner Lead E-Commerce) Facebook, Tina Nord, (Teamlead Content Marketing Strategy) Zalando, Andrea Monaci, (Marketing Director Cloud EMEA) Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Miro Morczinek, (CEO) Moebel24, Stefan Blumenthal, (Head of Data Advertising) Scout24 Media, Pascal Volz, Fischer Appelt (Ex AirBerlin), Erik Meierhoff, (Head of B2B Business) Idealo or Daniel Kramer, (Client Solutions Manager eCommerce & Sports) Facebook will be leading the 4 stages.
The complete agenda is now live on the E-Commerce Berlin Expo homepage or can be found below.
The entrance to the expo is free of charge. Visitors may register for a ticket.
For further questions, reach out to PR-Manager, Charlene Pham at [email protected]. Find out more about the E-Commerce Berlin Expo 2018.
The E-Commerce Berlin Expo will be taking place for the third time on February 15, 2018 at Station Berlin. Doors will open at 10 AM and is expected to welcome more than 4000 visitors. The annual fair has become a leading e-commerce event in Berlin with representatives from Google, Otto Group and Alibaba Group as past participants. Learn more at: http://ecommerceberlin.com
Since 2000, the price comparison idealo made an impressive way from a startup to an unrivalled platform with unique features extending beyond the mere ‘we’ll compare prices for you’. At the moment, idealo covers pretty much the entire German eCommerce market and knows all its ins and outs. Read this interview with Erik Meierhoff, Head of B2B Business at idealo, and you won’t want to miss his upcoming talk at the E-commerce Berlin Expo!
Paulina, Ecommerce Capitals: idealo is the leading price comparison website in Europe and one of the largest portals in the German e-commerce market, while it originated as a startup. What’s the key to your success? Was it a trend for price comparisons that paved the way to idealo’s success?
Erik Meierhoff, Head of B2B Business, idealo: Customers profit from our neutral perspective as there are no paid rankings on our platform. The best price always wins the ranking. However, it does not always win the race about the customer. We have found out that the best package consisting of price, availability, delivery time and payment method is most appealing to the customer. Consumers also benefit from the manual research and care taken to ensure accurate information on each of our products. Our strong SEO position means that customers come to us regularly through search engines.
PLUS: At €4,04, our partner shops enjoy the best ROI in the market.
idealo is available in Austria, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, UK – and probably some more markets as well? Are your price comparisons in these countries the same of perhaps there are some differences in products or services you compare?
These are our main markets. Despite even more countries where we have comparison websites for flights and hotels. Regarding the product of price comparison websites there are basically no differences. The only real difference is the German market where we have introduced the idealo Direktkauf feature to our customers. idealo Direktkauf enables consumers to buy directly via our website in a very slim and optimized check-out process and also our B2B customers to sell their products directly through idealo and reach long-time idealo customers and fans as a new customer segment.
Was Germany idealo’s first market?
Germany was idealo’s first market and still is the most important one. We are very happy about the performances in the other countries and will continue to invest there
You are based in Berlin, which is strongly a startup city. On the other hand, lots of big IT companies open their headquarters outside Berlin. What made it possible for idealo to grow, flourish and stay in Berlin?
idealo started in 2000 before everyone else. We always had the will to stay in Berlin as our employees live here. Being aware of that, we explicitly looked for an office space in Berlin. We have found our new home with 10000 m2 space in Kreuzberg where we moved in two and a half years ago. It probably did cost more money than simply moving outside of Berlin, but it was no option to disappoint our employees and lengthen their way to work without urgency. Moreover, idealo wanted to keep a start-up spirit and not move into a “clinical” office outside the city. We have got a lot of international talents, high diversity. This is needed for our innovative and multi-country business model.
What competition do you have (in Germany or in Europe) and what’s your current position among your competitors?
In Germany there is no direct competition because of our very unique business model. We evolved over time from a pure price comparison site into a product information service and since the launch of the idealo Direktkauf we added a transactional element as well. This means we now cover nearly the whole user journey: from the initial information about a certain product category (i.e. “What’s trending among Android Smartphones?”), to a concrete comparison between dedicated models and brands (”Should I go for Samsung S8 or a Huawei Mate 10?”), to the actual purchase (“Where do I get the best price in the market now?”). This is pretty much unmatched here especially when you look at the wide range of categories, offers (330+ million in Germany) and merchants (50k+ in Germany). Only Google Shopping might match our volumes, but is lacking our “Best Price” approach as well as a transactional feature we offer with idealo Direktkauf.
Since December 2016 you are the Head of B2B Business at idealo. What tasks do you have? How large is your team?
Due to our B2B2C platform model, idealo is catering a demand side (B2C) and a supply side (B2B). Our team manages the complete supply side of idealo - we are responsible for the onboarding, growth and day-to-day operations of our 50,000+ merchants. The B2B team includes also our extensive partnership program (technical/business) which covers all kind of services, agencies and technology the merchants use in order to run their business with idealo. One of our USP is a very high personal service level for our merchants and partners. Currently, we have 110 FTEs in our team, but we are always looking for talents!
What are the most exciting and successful projects you have worked on at idealo?
Our most exciting and successful project is idealo Direktkauf. 15 million idealo users can now order directly from an online shop through idealo checkout. Merchants participating at idealo checkout receive 42% more orders (in average)
The idealo blog has some really nice, informative content. Do these topic ideas come from your user data insights?
Yes, we get our ideas and content from the results of user research analysis. However, we do not just use them for our UK blog, but also to add value for merchants in the B2B context. This happens amongst others in our B2B Magazine. E-commerce companies benefit from our insights and thus learn to understand the customer better. For our business partners we have shared information on how well idealo performed on Black Friday where we topped our sales via idealo Direktkauf by 441%, meaning that all our merchants profited very well from our reach.
The blog also has some really entertaining pieces of content. I particularly like the “Licence to Wash: Can you pass our laundry quiz?” which mentions that 87% of Brits do laundry incorrectly, and the article titled “27 degrees is the tipping point for pool purchases in the UK”. What other crazy things have you learned from – and about – your users?
We sure do. Did you know that most Germans want to be gifted a holiday trip for Valentines Day, but in reality 76,6% get flowers from their partners? Also in February, every 25 seconds customers click on perfumes. That’s amongst the highest clickrates throughout the year. Pregnancy tests are clicked every 12 minutes.
Do you do similar things for your other, non-English speaking markets such as Germany, Austria or France?
Yes, we do as mentioned above. But besides the fun facts we want consumers to know what they are buying and help them make good decisions. On the B2B site, we focus on sharing relevant information and market insights with our partners to enable them to perform better on idealo.
What do you plan to do in 2018 to ensure your further growth?
We want to understand the needs of our merchants better, provide more features for our B2B idealo Direktkauf customers and let partners participate in the data treasure that we have to enable them to sell more products. Furthermore, we want to make sure we reach even more people and facilitate good decisions when buying products.
On the 15th of February 2018 you will appear at the E-commerce Berlin Expo with a talk titled “Data based overview of the German e-commerce market”. Can you share some more details? What data are you going to reveal?
It will be quite an interesting talk. Probably with some surprises for some people who have not looked at idealo closely in the past. We pretty much cover the German E-Commerce market completely. Therefore, we have lots of insights about the market. Some of them I might share in may talk. On the 15th of February in Station Berlin, I recommend stopping by the Awards Stage at 11:35 am to find out.
What do you want your audience to learn from your talk?
Using data is essential these days to be successful. Merchants mostly look at their own data or relate to customer surveys. But it is very tough for them to get a more holistic overview about the market, the complete category or just the direct competition. This is where my talk will jump in. It might be a good idea to work with somebody who has the knowledge about the market and use it for your purposes. idealo has the knowledge.
Based on your experience with industry events, how should people – not speakers, but exhibitors and visitors in particular – prepare in advance to make the most of such meetings? What advice would you give?
First, I would advise them to look at exhibitors list and make appointments in advance. Only then exhibitors can prepare a more individualized pitch deck for them. Second, I always suggest to be as transparent as possible with a vendor, agency or any other service a merchant starts to talk with. Because having approx. just three minutes for understanding the issue of the other side and coming up with a meaningful first solution (beside a one-size-fits-all) is a tough one. If merchants are spending money to visit an event they should be open to new technologies and the informatory outcome. If they think they know “everything”, they do not want to share any information about their own company, issues etc. they just should not attend.
As discovered in a recent study by Addressy, almost 20% of failed deliveries are due to inaccurate delivery address details provided by customers. In this interview, Chris Boaz, Head of Marketing at Addressy, explains how keeping your data clean not only solves this issue, but also opens up new possibilities for your business. To find out more, you definitely won't want to miss his upcoming talk at this year's E-Commerce Berlin Expo 2018.
Paulina, Ecommerce Capitals: What does Addressy do? What type of problem do you solve?
Chris Boaz, Head of Marketing at Addressy: Addressy overcomes a key frustration in ecommerce checkouts by making it quicker and easier for consumers to enter their address. Our type-ahead technology auto-suggests as the user types, returning accurate delivery addresses that have been verified against official data sources including AZ Direct, Royal Mail and Eircode. This style of address verification works just like a search engine, and ensures every address is complete and accurate at the point of entry.
Address verification made easy – that’s Addressy’s motto. When and why did address verification become so important?
Ensuring customer data is complete and accurate has always been important. Address verification, which ensures accurate address data, is a crucial ingredient to successfully on-boarding new customers and maintain relationships with existing customers. It became more important, when executives started making decisions based on their data. Who wants to make a decision based on unreliable data? Today, address verification means more than just clean data bases. Retailers need clean and verified data in order to avoid failed deliveries, increase conversion rates and improve customer experience.
Let’s say I have an online shop with a database of 200,000 registered customers. How can I use Addressy to verify their addresses?
You can verify the 200,000 customer records you already have in your database and ensure all your records are accurate. But Addressy is more than an address cleansing tool. There is a simple rule called the 1-10-100 rule that can be used when considering dirty data. It suggests that it is cheaper to validate an address at the point of capture than it is to try and solve the problem of dirty data further down the line. To reduce the costs of a single record, improve the user experience in your checkout process and make sure deliveries arrive on time, we suggest implementing type-ahead address verification. Addressy's type-ahead address verification tools ensures that users are able to enter their address data quickly and easily, and guarantees that the address data you capture is valid.
What legal implications does it have? All in all, I should not disclose the address data of my customers to any third-party entities. Neither can I decide which of the addresses is the right one in case it turns out that my customer added an address that you’ve verified negatively?
Good question. This is Addressy's main purpose. If your customer has already quit your store and you then notice an incorrect address, you cannot get back to the customer to ask for the correct one. Annoying pop up messages such as “Your address is invalid. Do you mean one of the following?” are not very user-friendly. However, with Addressy, when your customer starts to type their address, they get immediate suggestions based on their input. When the right address pops up in the drop-down suggestion list, they simply click on the right one and the whole form is auto-completed with accurate details. This way you ensure you have captured the right address in the checkout process and there is no manual work left for you to do.
To answer the second part of your question there are no special legal implications for you. Addressy verifies if an address exists through official address databases we have licensed from official data sources. As we don’t check if this person really lives there, it’s not a data record which needs special protection. You don’t give privacy data to us as a third party; we only check data that is publicly available.
You have an impressive and a very diverse portfolio of customers. There’s Durex, Asos, Disney, Virgin, Dow Jones, TripAdvisor, and many others (click here for a list). How do they use your products?
Most of our customers use our service in their checkout process, online forms or booking process. It is seamlessly integrated into their website and gives their users a great user experience.
Photo Credits to Sumall
You are soon going to release a global report on the impact of poor customer data and its costly influence on online retail. Why did you decide to research this topic?
Many retailers still don't understand the true cost of dirty data – both from a financial and a reputational point of view. Retailers often underestimate just how much this affects their business – and their customers.
We often hear from our customers about how much they have improved since implementing Addressy, and this inspired us to find out exactly how much poor data quality really costs businesses.
On your website you mention that this study will comprise data from over 300 retailers and 2,000 online customers across the US, UK and Germany. Why did you choose customers from these three markets? Are they in any way representative of the “online customer” in general? Or perhaps they rather show differences between these three countries?
We have offices in all three of these locations, so it seemed like the obvious choice. However, we were also particularly interested in these areas as each has its own address format and uses address details in different ways. This meant we could combine our local knowledge with customers' and retailers' opinions to get a much broader view.
Also, according to Statista, the US, UK and Germany all rank within the top 5 ecommerce markets in the world. Therefore, a representative example of consumers could be gained from completing the study across these areas.
I’m quite confident this report will have a lot of telling examples and case studies. Can you share something with our readers now? Even one example will definitely stir up a lot of interest in the final report file!
A really surprising result is, that 1 in every 20 online orders is not delivered on the first attempt. With this in mind, it’s alarming for retailers that 78% of consumers expect the retailer to resolve a delivery issue, whether it’s the retailer or the courier that’s at fault. And almost 20% of failed deliveries are due to inaccurate delivery address details proved by customers which can be avoided at all.
Photo Credits to Addressy
On the 15th of February 2018 Addressy will appear on stage at the E-commerce Berlin Expo. What are you going to talk about?
I will discuss our research in more detail and highlight the importance of data quality for retailers. I will also cover user experience, what customers prefer and what retailers can do to make customers happy. All of the results are based on the findings from two Addressy studies.
Why did you choose this specific topic for this specific event?
The E-commerce Berlin Expo event covers many interesting ecommerce-related topics, and we felt that it would be a great place to discuss the impact of dirty data on retail businesses. As the whole event focuses on ecommerce, the audience should have an interest in statistics and facts surrounding data quality, user experience, cost management and customer satisfaction.
What do you want your audience to learn from your talk?
We want to give the audience a much greater insight into the meaning of data quality. Many people know that it is important for their business but perhaps don't really understand why. Retailers often struggle with problems related to data quality and address accuracy but this is not visible at first glance. We want to help retailers discover more about data quality and how it really affects their business.