Thursday, 24 May 2012

Compare and contrast: Ted Baker

We’ve said it before; Americans have a love affair with British brands. And Ted Baker knows it too. During the last financial year, the fashion brand opened eight concessions in Bloomingdale’s, where performance to date has been positive, it says. Towards the end of 2011, Ted Baker opened a further store in San Diego and an outlet store in Wrentham, near Boston, and chief executive Ray Kelvin says he’s pleased with their performances at this early stage.

Going forward, 11 more concessions are planned, as well as a store in New York, which opens in July. Overall, US retail sales for the brand were up 69.4 percent to $34.9 million last year, equivalent to £21.8 million. As well as stores, Ted Baker also operates a US website. Here’s how it goes about translating its Britishness to a US market online.

The homepages
Ted Baker’s UK website (above) can be found at Its US counterpart is at, but users can also navigate to it by clicking the “select region” option from the main site. The differences between the homepages are immediately obvious. For starters, the UK site has a static main image, while the US homepage shifts from women’s new arrivals to men’s new arrivals. On the UK site, visitors can click on the main image to shop from the men’s or womenswear collections. Or use the top menu bar to shop men’s, women’s, gifts, holiday shop or SelecTed—items which have a common theme or collection. The main call to action is for a two-day sale, giving customers 20 percent off their Ted Baker purchase. 

The US website (above) has a brighter homepage, using oranges and light blues, rather than the taupe employed by the UK site—depending on your personal taste, it either clashes or complements the male model’s shock of red hair. The options on the main menu are different too. The choices on the US site include men’s, women’s, accessories & shoes and our collections—presumably collections is more obvious than “SelecTed”. The menus are also much shorter. The UK top-level menu opens up into five columns, with the column on the far right displaying a “feature item”. In contrast, the menu on the US site has only one column per category and no images. The search bar and shopping cart appear in the same places on the two websites, as does the special offer banner, which on the US website promotes “Free US ground delivery on all orders over $200”.

The category and product pages
Clicking through the homepage options to new arrivals in womenswear I am presented with two very different category pages. The UK site (above) has no left-navigation bar, instead allowing users to filter options using a collapsible horizontal menu. Users are allowed to select the size of the images and by doing so, adjust the product density on the page—larger images mean fewer products. Confusingly in my opinion, the UK site has a large image inviting customers to shop the maxi dress range. Call me old-fashioned, but I much prefer the US category page (below), which has a conventional left-nav to help filter down options.

To make a fair comparison between the product pages, I selected the “TUNDA - Flared skirt coat”, which is available on both sites (UK price £229, US price $420). In contrast to previous experience, the US site actually has more detail that its UK sister. Once again, the UK site had me confused (below). Instead of conventional dress sizes, Ted Baker lists the sizes from 0 to 4. There is a size conversion chart, but you would have expected the British site to list UK sizes as the master option. 

The US site also uses Ted Baker’s 0 to 5 system but below it includes the corresponding US size, making it easy for American customers to select the right size. The US site also features a selection of items that may go with the coat, making use of a cross-sell tactic. Strangely, the UK site doesn’t. Although the UK site is more streamlined, I find that hiding everything under a collapsible menu works to its detriment. 

Moving to the basket page, Ted Baker UK decides this is the place to cross-sell. While there are different schools of thought on the topic, I would have preferred to see cross-selling on the product page instead. Happily though, Ted Baker’s platform allows me to add items from its suggested list to my basket without leaving the page, so all is not lost. At the checkout I am also reminded of the 20 percent discount and prompted to enter it.

For the most part the US trumps the UK site in terms of user experience, however, where the UK site excels is in the collections element (above). I can select “cool nautical” and shop the look, or click through to “life’s a beach” and be presented with the beachwear collection. This mirrors the layout of a bricks-and-mortar store, where you’d expect similar products to be grouped together to form a display. Trying to shop from the “our collections” tab on the US homepage is a cumbersome experience (below), where some ranges having a link to the products and others just text about the range. 

Whereas the American site understands my need for clear sizing information, logical lists and an all-in-one product page, it lacked the inspiration of the British website’s collections section. Saying that, I was encouraged to note that both use instigated chat to communicate with customers that may be floundering, showing that it despite the differences between the two sites, Ted Baker does share some best practice across the Atlantic.--MT

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Dart’s data: the Smart TV issue

Regular readers will be familiar with our free newsletter DC’s TV Shopping Week, which focuses on the world of online video, connected TVs and DRTV.

This week’s Dart’s Data also pays tribute to the discipline of TV, taking a look at recent reports examining the impact of smart TVs on retailers in the future.

According to an eBay-commissioned study carried out by Conlumino, one in four (25 percent) of people will regularly use interactive TV to shop by the end of 2014, generating direct sales worth an estimated £750 million. Smart devices also ranked as one of the top five predicted influential technologies for retail, alongside augmented reality, smart devices and image recognition.

WorldPay's recently launched its Global Online Shopper Report, a study of 19,000 e-shoppers globally, supports these findings, noting that 5 percent of global shoppers have already purchased online using a next generation interactive TV. The study found that 21 percent of respondents own an internet-ready TV and of those who do, 24 percent have used it to purchase goods and services. The highest users were e-shoppers in India (63 percent), Brazil (39 percent) and China (33 percent). The study also found that smart-device usage is particularly high among “heavy spenders”--those who have spent 30 percent of their disposable income online in the past year. Globally, 55 percent of heavy spenders have used a smartphone and 67 percent a tablet in the last three months to buy online.

Only one third (37 percent) of Britons that are planning to buy a Smart TV said that connecting to the internet through it was a factor in buying one, according to a YouGov survey of the nation’s TV habits. The most common reason for intending to buy a Smart TV is to just have a more up-to-date TV set (50 percent), while the most important feature of Smart TVs amongst respondents who already own one is picture quality (96 percent of owners) followed by the size of the screen (93 percent), then sound quality (89 percent). Highlighting that more consumer education is needed in this area, only half (53 percent) of Smart TV owners correctly identified a Smart TV as one that directly connects to the internet without the need of another device; while one in four (25 percent) of Smart TV owners have never used it to connect to the internet.--JD

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Monday, 7 May 2012

Dart’s data--social media

You might talk the talk, but do you walk the walk? These two reports show that consumers want more interaction with brands via social media, but that businesses aren’t effectively measuring this engagement, potentially losing out on a very lucrative channel.

Global interactive marketing provider ExactTarget found that nearly half of UK consumers interact with brands on Facebook and nearly a quarter of those are more likely to make a purchase from that brand. Based on more than 1,400 consumer interviews and surveys, the report also shows that 7 percent of all UK consumers have followed a brand on Twitter, with 32 percent of those saying they are more likely to buy from the brand after following it on the social network.

Research by EPiServer, a multichannel digital marketing and ecommerce software specialist, revealed that only one in ten UK businesses effectively measure ROI of their social media outreach, despite more than half increasing their investment in social media over the past year. The survey, which asked 250 UK marketing decision makers, also highlighted that 17 percent of respondents said they are planning to set up more social media channels in the coming year, but only 22 percent of firms said they have a social media or community manager in place.

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Friday, 4 May 2012

The good, not so good, and the huh

Last month, 93 catalogues crossed my path. We’re only three days into May and I have already counted 20 more titles being logged into our Catalogue Tracker spread sheet. It stands to reason, therefore, that a catalogue has to be special to catch my eye and stand out from the crowd. 
Here are a few examples of marketing pieces that landed on my desk these past few days, from the good, to the not so good, to the huh?

Mini BodenBoden
Love ‘em or hate ‘em but Boden sure know how to write great catalogue copy. A colleague passed me a Mini Boden reactivation catalogue this week that is so darn adorable it’s really difficult not to place an order. The creative is simple but stellar: the children’s clothing catalogue uses persuasive cartoon animals to offer customers 15 percent off, plus free delivery and free returns. The cover laments: I’m sorry, I must try harder and on page 2 Johnnie Boden goes on to say, Like an elephant, I never forget anyone. But the silence at your end suggests I haven’t been putting a smile on your face. The copy ends with With everything crossed. Page 3 then describes the benefits of shopping with Boden, reiterating the offer, the quality of the clothes and the no-quibble guarantee. How can you say resist?

Formerly known as The Sleep, a Loaf catalogue landed on my doormat this month. As Charlie Marshall, the company’s “head of sleep” put it, the catalogue will help create a place where you can enjoy the horizontal side of life. The relaxed atmosphere is conveyed in the catalogue’s range of furniture and homewares in subtle, natural tones, strategically placed blankets, newspapers and coffee cups in the room sets, and a matt finish to the paper stock. The catalogue took me on a peaceful journey, I felt relaxed flicking through it, imagining a sunny Sunday morning reading the papers.

That is until the catalogue made me work a little harder than I’d have liked. One of the recurring products in the catalogue is a linen bundle, usually comprising pillow cases, duvet cover and a sheet. Page 7, for example, features the Classic Ticking Bundle, from £75, includes two pillow cases, a duvet cover and a fitted sheet. Now I don’t know about you, but before buying bed linen I need to know the size. Does £75 fit a double bed or a king-size bed? How deep is the fitted sheet? What’s the thread count? I searched everywhere for this information in the catalogue, to no avail. A quick search on the website for Ticking Bundle brought up some of the details, but I was still unsure of whether it would actually fit my bed. I’d have like to see a page in the catalogue explaining the bundles on offer and breaking down the prices into single, double and king-size beds. The White Company does a good job of this.

Acorn...Here comes the huh. Already tired from searching for fitted sheets that match my new mattress, I should have been prepared for another wild goose chase. Step forward Acorn, a purveyor of DVDs of classic TV shows. The cover promised me a free copy of Foyle’s War: The German Woman and directed me to the back cover for full details.  On the back cover I understood the deal was for one episode of Foyle’s War, for which I would qualify simply by placing an order. So far, so good.

Then I was asked to see the coupon for details. Coupon? I looked back in the bin where I had just discarded the polywrap—no coupon. I shook out the catalogue. No coupon. Huh? It was only by chancing across the order form on page 29 that it was finally made clear how to get my hands on this DVD. I understand that space is tight on the back cover and that the offer could not be explained in full, but why send me to the back page only to come back to page 29? Instead, perhaps the cover could have pointed me in the direction of the order form for full details, and used the back cover to reinforce the message?

With all this hunting around, I need a lie down.--MT

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Dart’s data: the data security issue

This week’s edition takes a look at a study that highlights how half of companies could be open to data security breaches as well as a report that shows IT bosses in the retail sector are worried about the increase in consumerisation of information technology and how it will lead to greater business risks.

• The latest Adestra/Econsultancy’s Email Marketing Industry Census 2012 report highlights that only 56 percent of client-side respondents and 47 percent of supplier-side respondents say they (or their clients) have policies and processes in place to guard against data security breaches. This is the first time the report included responses to questions on data and worryingly found that 16 percent of companies didn’t even know whether data security measures were in place.  Only a quarter of companies are using authenticated login and/or IP restrictions to prevent breaches.

The research, conducted between January and February 2012 among 846 individuals, also reveals that 44 percent of respondents either had no data security policies and processes in place, or were not aware of any, while only 2 percent of respondents ranked data security as one of the three areas they need to focus on most in 2012.

• Results from a study by technology performance firm Compuware Corporation shows that 78 percent of retail sector chief information officers worry that, as consumerisation of IT gathers pace, it will lead to greater business risks. The study of 520 CIOs shows that models such as cloud computing and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), as well as trends like social media and m-commerce,  are driving unrealistic expectations around the role of IT in 74 percent of businesses across the retail sector.--JD

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

April Catalogue Log

Compared with March, it seems cataloguers toned down their reliance on discounting in April. However, a look back at the data shows April was actually more promotional than the previous month and appreciably up on the same period last year.

April Offers Chart

Out of the 93 catalogues that crossed the editorial desk last month, 38, or 40.9 percent, featured a sale or discount on the cover. In March, 45 percent of catalogues did so. The percentage of catalogues promoting free delivery on the cover also dipped, from 26.1 percent in March to 23.7 percent in April. However in total, April just had the edge when it came to overall promotions displayed on the cover. We noted that 63.4 percent of catalogues featured a sale, discount, free shipping or free gift on the front cover in April, compared with 62.4 percent the preceding month.  

Year-on-year we tracked a 12 percent increase in the volume of catalogues received. We tallied 93 catalogues in April 2012, compared with 83 percent in April 2011. And while we didn’t receive a spring edition of William Powell this year, or a sale catalogue from Neat Ideas (Staples Direct), we did get a catalogue from JoJo Maman Bebe, Wall London and Suttons Seeds, which were missing from last year’s roster.

One of the catalogues that stood out last month was Joe Browns, which had undergone a revamp. The new-look catalogue, which I’m told was only mailed to a certain segment of the database, is a 100-page perfect-bound edition. In a really bold move, the refreshed catalogue doesn’t feature a product on the front cover. It’s also slightly larger than previous editions, giving the products inside more room to “breathe”. I rather like it.

Joe Browns

As far as promotional cover lines are concerned, April 2012 was significantly more discount-led. As mentioned earlier, 40.9 percent of covers featured a sales or discount in April 12, compared with 34.9 percent in April 11 and 29.2 percent in April 10. Cotswold Collections, Dwell and Graham & Green were among the 2012 catalogues offering a discount.

April on April

While in April 2010 and 2011 fewer than one in five catalogues offered free delivery, the promotion was much more popular in April 2012 and featured on 23.7 percent of covers. Catalogues offering free shipping included Tulchan, Soar Mill Seeds and Fashion Union, which combined the offer with a hefty 20 percent discount.

Bucking the trend completely, free gifts were more popular in April than in March, but less so than the same period last year. We counted 13 catalogues—14 percent—offering a freebie in April 2012, ranging from a free silk tie from Charles Tyrwhitt, a free MP3 speaker set from Viking and free chocolates in every order from Bibliophile.--MT