Last year we saw Google Panda & Penguin take some serious action against websites of all flavours. Dropping rankings quicker than you can say “Bing” and lower than you can limbo!
During the SXSW Conference on 8th March, Google’s Matt Cutts has promised 2013 to bring another game changer to the forefront of online merchants minds! With no released update name yet but no doubt another wolf in a cute animals clothing.
Last year I started to tell my clients to make sure their house was in order when it came to customer satisfaction and delivery.
You might have an all signing and dancing web-site that’s got great rankings and traffic so gets you Business. But Google want more. Ok they know you are there, they know your rankings are good, but do they know you’re a good company to deal with? Are they sure they want to place your site in front of their “users”, after all it’s their job to deliver “greatness”!
Whatever this update and subsequent related updates are called, they are going to have a huge impact on some merchants, with people already giving it the nickname “bankrupt update”.
What can you do to prepare for this no doubt ruthless update from Google?
Make sure your house is in good order
Ensure you are not over promising and under delivering.
Answer your customer’s comments and posts on all social media and related sites, not just Facebook & Twitter.
Answer your e-mails quickly and your telephones quicker.
If it’s in stock great, if not make sure it’s clear when it will be.
Get your delivery issues if any sorted out now.
Make sure you have a comprehensive link building strategy in place to prove to Google you are the people that others see your authority and trust by linking to you.
Get ready to be a lot more “customer friendly” as when consumers become savvy about this update (and they will) just think the good and bad impact power of Trip Advisor.
There’s much debate about fake reviews popping up and how will Google deal with these? What’s to stop Merchant A paying for purchases on Merchant B’s site, then leaving complaints? We simply don’t know yet how Google will handle this, but do you really want to wait and see how this update affects you and then take action?
The purpose of this extension is to make the newtab page more useful for those of us who use a lot of bookmarks and dislike the way Chrome™ serves them. It overrides the new tab page and displays a grid of your apps and bookmarks.
It replaces your New Tab page with one that has BIG BUTTONS. It shows your installed apps and the bookmarks as you have organized them. You can also navigate through folders if you have your bookmarks organized in that fashion.
It also gives you quick access to Chrome™’s own History, Downloads and Bookmark manager instead of having to navigate through the wrench menu each time.
CUSTOMIZING YOUR STARTPAGE
Use the Bookmark Manager to organize your bookmarks in a way that you like them to appear on the startpage. If you need to, you can also do some editing of your bookmarks, but you will need the Bookmark Manager for more editing power.
Click on the Options link in order to customize the look and feel of the new tab page so it fits your needs. There is a set of predefined themes, but you can choose to manually adjust almost everything.
The top bar of the startpage shows you a list of the extensions that you installed plus any bookmarks that you put in your ‘Bookmarks Bar’ folder. So just place any bookmarks there that you want to appear in that bar.
The bottom container is a rudimentary bookmark browser that starts off in the ‘Other Bookmarks’ folder. You can even browse subfolders from within it. Arrange and organize your bookmarks any way you want them to appear.
If you use bookmark synching between i.e. your notebook and your home computer, the new page tab will look exactly the same on both devices (except for the installed apps).
Get your shop / service / product online, and do it now.
That is all.
Seriously though, both Ocado and the Co-op have been boosted by online sales; luxury womenswear retailer Hobbs reported a 60% surge in online sales over Christmas; and the high street lost out during the holiday period. Bricks and mortar shops reported a rise of just 1.5% in sales – compared to an average 18% rise online.
Consumers are more comfortable buying products via the internet now; laws have been clarified to ensure returns and vouchers are honoured. It eliminates the stressful elements of high street shopping, particularly for parents or people who work full time (it still bemuses me that high street shops have the same opening hours as people who have the disposable income to buy their products). It also circumvents the poor weather which affects footfall to traditional retail stores, and enables consumers to research where to find the best deals. Sites like eBay, Amazon and Etsy have enabled micro-businesses to sell online, and medium size retailers have found affordable web design solutions helpful.
Exceptions to this preference for online buying include luxury fabrics, sofas, beds – items that people want to experience or touch. Old fashioned customer service and consumer experience makes a huge difference as well. Basics include quick, efficient service and approachable staff. Done right, you get small boutiques stocking local products, hosting value added events such as networking or previews, proprietors that will source specific products for customers and shops that are almost a tourist attraction in themselves, as well as a retailer.
I used HMV’s ‘Click and Collect’ service recently, as I needed to get a present for someone at short notice. I went along in my lunchbreak. The assistant I spoke to spent 20 minutes to find the wrong DVD, and had to go back – it took him another 10 minutes to find the correct copy. He then didn’t know how to search the system for a CD I also wanted to buy. Instead I could have spent 5 minutes on Amazon, found both items quickly – and more cheaply than HMV’s offering. Another time I went into Timpsons to have a bag repaired. Two of the assistants were practically dry humping, and the third was so unhelpful that I’ve never been back. They also didn’t bother to respond to a complaint I lodged.
India Knight has written about the problem of poor customer service in her witty retail bible The Shops (and the way her usually polite and charming mother would react to them). Mary Portas has made a part of her living revitalising struggling shops and customer service is usually the first component. Shops on the high street can rarely compete with internet retailers when it comes to the ever important price points (bear in mind online shops are *much* cheaper to maintain than a full storefront) but they can provide a better experience, more hands on customer service and the convenience of being able to pick products up on the same day.
Get a website developed.
Open an online shop.
Find a reliable and quick delivery service.
Ensure impeccable customer service in your high street shop.
Respond to complaints quickly and politely.
Add value to the customer’s experience in any way you can.
Ensure your shop floor is attractive, uncluttered and easy to navigate.
Minecraft is an absurdly popular sandbox indie game where you can fight monsters, mine resources and explore. The graphics are basic, blocky, deliberately pixellated. It occasionally glitches out and is extremely complex. There is little instruction on how to play, so gamers have had to learn how it all works via trial and error. Despite this, in January 2011 Minecraft passed 1 million purchases. The game made a profit 24 hours after being released on Xbox, and within a week of being on the Xbox Live Marketplace, Minecraft sold upwards of 1 million copies.
The game has never been advertised except via word of mouth, and indirectly via being picked up by popular online publications like Penny Arcade. One third of Minecraft gamers learned about it via Youtube videos produced by other players. These include walkthroughs, creations and parodies. The game has been referenced in high tech, glossy games like Skyrim, as well as by popular rapper deadmau5. The designer and the company Mojang, have interacted well with the community around their game. They have encouraged players to create mods, they run an annual convention and maintain social media channels.
They have kept the game affordable (around £17) and offer a more basic, free version called Minecraft Classic. They have produced affordable merchandise, without being perceived as ‘cheapening’ the brand; they have turned down lucrative Hollywood offers, whilst working with popular brands like Lego, who have produced a set based on Minecraft, (which at time of writing is sold out) and merchandise retailer Jinx, who sell clothing, foam swords and toys in the archetypal, enlarged pixel style.
The graphics and gameplay tap into a nostalgia still felt by early gamers for when the player character could be represented by an @ key; the game allows you to design, build, fight or hide from monsters, gather resources (which is more efficient with certain tools you can also make), farm animals and explore a vast and almost limitless map, which is uniquely generated for each game. This gives the game a broad appeal for a variety of gamers of both sexes. The tools you can build make jobs easier; e.g. an iron axe cuts down a tree far more quickly than a wooden shovel.
Allow customers to ‘discover’ your product organically.
Doodle 4 Google is an annual program that invites US students K-12 to use their artistic talents to think big and redesign our homepage logo for millions to see. This year, we ask students to exercise their creative imaginations around the theme, “My Best Day Ever…” One talented student artist will see their artwork appear on the Google homepage, receive a $30,000 college scholarship, and a $50,000 technology grant among other cool prizes! Happy doodling!