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How Retailers Are Adapting This Year!

It has been one of the most bizarre years for the UK and it has certainly had a devastating effect on the retail industry, but how are some shops adapting to the drop in high street sales?

Lots of non essential stores remain closed, and even when they open again there is bound to be a little hesitance from some people, especially after getting used to the convenience of online shopping.

So retailers are having to think outside the box this year and come up with some innovative ideas to get people shopping online whilst making Christmas still feel special. Here are some of our favourite virtual events!

Selfridges are running some fantastic virtual events this year, including a virtual santa meet and greet! Sign me up!

Virtual Meet and Greet Santa with Selfridges

John Lewis have set up a fantastic virtual Christmas Shop where you can view all they have to offer on an online shop floor, you could certainly spend far too long on this!

Virtual Shop with John Lewis!

Harrods are offering a personal shopping online experience, where you can ‘shop the store from home’. A fantastic idea to give people that ‘personal touch.’

Harrods Personal Shopper Experience

Debenhams have opened a virtual Beauty Room, what better way to feel pampered without leaving your home?

Virtual Beauty Room.

And MADE have launched their first ever virtual reality showroom!

MADE’s Virtual Reality Showroom

Have you come across any great online retail ideas? Let us know!

 

Communicate with Your Customers

Communication is Key

 

Communicating with your customers is key to running a successful business. Keeping people as up to date as you can will help them to feel calmer and more at ease. There are a number of tried and tested ways that you can do this.

 

Changes to Your Site

It is fairly easy to make some simple changes to your website that will inform any visitors of changes to your business and circumstances. You can apply pop ups so that when customers land on your page they are instantly told about any recent developments. Banners are also a handy way to let customers know about changes and news.

 

Keeping your blog up to date will also give customers a place to go to see what’s new with your business.

 

Changes to Delivery

This is extremely important. People are less likely to get upset and complain if they have been pre warned about any changes to your delivery times. If there are going to be delays then let your customers know before they order, or as soon as you possibly can to avoid any unnecessary frustration!

Our Top Tips for Working from Home

With the latest issues that the world is facing, working from home where possible has become inevitable for some people.

For some people this will be easier than it is for others as they may already have a home set up or experience of working from home previously. But for others, this isn’t something that they have had to implement before and the change in circumstances can have an impact on how you work

 

Here are our top tips for working from home and how to ensure you stay productive and don’t burn out!

 

Act as if You Were Going Into the Office

The best way to get your head into work mode is by preparing as if you were going into the office anyway. Always get up, shower and get dressed. You may not want to wear smart work wear if you are at home but staying in your pyjamas until 2pm will mean that your focus could slide significantly. Have your breakfast and coffee as if you would normally, walk the dog before ‘leaving for work’, kiss goodbye to your partner and head to your working space. All these small routine actions will help you to stay productive and professional.

 

Plan Out Your Day

Make sure that you have a set calendar for the day. Work can inevitably change as priorities change but starting out with an idea of what you are going to be working on throughout the day will help immensely. Have morning catch ups as a team either via skype or Google Hangouts and discuss what the plan is for the day ahead so everyone knows what they are working on and you don’t drift away from what’s important. Additionally, if you work alone, a calendar will make you feel more at ease and focused on the tasks at hand.

 

Stay Connected

It is vital to ensure you can keep in touch with everyone you need to. Communicating with others will not only keep you sane but it will keep spirits high and allow you to do your job properly. Skype and whatsapp groups will enable you to share not only important information but lighthearted conversation. Work together as a team to build effective channels of communication that work for everyone. And if you work alone then make sure you have some sort of human interaction throughout the day, whether it is a quick catch up call with a friend, or a chat over the fence with a neighbour.

A Month in Search November

Local guide icon

Google Maps has become more ‘social’ with the Local Guides follow feature

 

The Google Local Guides program has over 120 million members globally and although they are mostly invisible, they are an essential part of Google Maps. They provide valuable reviews as well as images and additional content. They also answer critical questions about local businesses and local places making it a fantastic experience for all users.

The Guides are now about to become more visible. Users of Google Maps will be able to follow local guides to see their reviews etc. But this will only be rolled out to a limited number of cities initially. ‘Top Local Guides’ (which will be chosen on their activity level) will be found under a ‘For You’ tab at the bottom of the Google Maps app. 

This is exciting stuff as previously Google have failed at creating a social platform and this could be the next big thing for the search giant.

Smart search icon

Top Tips for Being a Smart Searcher 

 

Daniel Russell, a Senior Research Scientist, Google Search Team has recently written an article on how to be a smarter searcher. With search having been around for over 20 years and there are billions of queries every day. But how can you ensure that you are getting the right and best answer to your searches?

Here are Daniel Russell’s top tips.

  1. Do more than one search
  2. Check source credibility
  3. Don’t include the answer within your search query
  4. Start the search broad, then start to narrow it down
  5. Mix and match the phrases you use
  6. Explore beyond the web

If you want to know more about the above then follow the link to read Daniel’s article.

Audio news icon

Google’s New Audio News Update

 

Google has seen an opportunity to start focusing more on audio news. Google has stated that they will start listening to what is being said within an audio file, analyse it and pull together what may be of interest to a certain user. Your News Update is an exciting, and smarter way to listen to the latest news, all hosted by the Google Assistant! Why not give it a try by updating your settings!

Slow Loading Due to Poor Coding

If your website has a slow loading speed this could be due to poor coding. Google is soon to start flagging up these websites with a badging system which will inform users that the site is slow. The warnings will most likely be a text indication or a sign.

 

A recent blog written by Google stated that it was going to start helping users recognise a slow loading site, and reward sites for being quick and fast moving, which ultimately give users a better experience.

 

Google stated that it can now spot how a site has been coded a certain way that will make it load slower. Additionally pages can take longer to load because they are waiting for communication from other external sources, such as analytics or social widgets.

 

The text indications could appear along the lines of ‘loads slow’ or the visual sign could be that the colour of a progress bar changes to indicate that the page takes longer than others to load.

 

The blog stated that this new tool will be further improved over time and that ultimately it is being brought into play to help improve the way websites are created giving users a better experience.

 

There have been mixed responses to this new tool, some who have criticised it and labelled it as a ‘badge of shame’ and that they weren’t sure how easy it would be to actually identify what makes a website load slowly. 

 

However, for now we will continue to stay ahead of the game and work hard at ensuring our websites are as speedy as possible! 

The New Two Factor Payment Regulation

There is a new EU regulation coming into action which has been brought about to tackle fraud. It will mean that when purchasing there will be a two factor payment authentication which will in turn increase the use of biometric technology.

 

The new regulation has been named The ‘Strong Customer Authentication’ (SCA) which will come into play this year, September 2019. It will require the payer to use a minimum of two methods of authentication. These methods will be a combination of:

 

1. KNOWLEDGE
something you know – for example a password

 

2. POSSESSION
something you have – for example a phone or physical key

 

3. INHERENCE
something you are – for example your fingerprint or facial recognition

 

Although Mastercard have promised that they will work as closely as possible with merchants to ensure that the transition goes as smoothly as possible there could be some disruption to sales.

 

Therefore it could be wise to keep a closer eye on sales and use different methods of communication to inform your customers of the updates to your payment systems either via mail-out, social media, or email to ensure that you are reaching all your customers, avoiding any loss of sales or disappointment. The new regulations are compulsory for all companies within Europe, the deadline is the 14th September and if payment systems don’t meet the requirements prior to this date then payments won’t be processed.

 

There will be some exemptions to the new SCA regulations such as low value transactions where the spend is under £30, recurring transactions (direct debits that have been previously set up), Apple and Google Pay and merchants that are trusted by shoppers which shoppers can choose to add to a ‘trusted list.’

 

You will need to be fully prepared for the change and ensure that all your payment systems are up to date and meet the regulations to avoid payments being refused. Changes to your website payments systems may need to be made in order to ensure that you comply with the new regulations.  Merchants may need to change their systems to handle 3DS 2.0 or other SCA methods. If you have a payment system that is integrated within your website then you will need to ensure that it is up to date to meet the regulations, get in contact with your web developer to find out how to process this.

Speak to your website developer today and get ahead of the game!

A Month in Search: June 2019

This month we have been working flat out on new website launches and new Google Ad campaigns for various clients, as always it is all hands on deck here at Verve! However, we have still managed to rustle up some snippets from the SEO world so we hope that you enjoy reading the latest from the land of search!

 

Google’s Core Update

So let’s address this first. Google has recently rolled out it’s new Core Update and it took five days to do it. But why should we care? Well.. when Google rolls out these more substantial updates, having the knowledge of when the update started and ended is extremely useful for tracking traffic increases and decreases within analytics. The timeline of the update can help us understand if a certain  website got effected by an algorithm update, a technical issue, or any other issue that might be completely unrelated.

If there are multiple updates being carried out within the same time period then this can make our job harder to analyse any issues that may arise. But it isn’t impossible and as great SEO’s that’s where we welcome the challenge.

Why not read our latest blog? The importance of SEO!

 

Google Changes the Way it Thinks

Google is becoming more and more portal and less and less SEO! This is having a big impact on the user journey for people using google to search and in turn will ultimately have an even bigger impact for pretty much every company. However, there are some plans that you can put into place for your SEOs to jump on!

 

Build Your SEO Team

Ensure you have a competent team of SEO professionals in your team and advise everyone else in the team about the importance of SEO. Educate them! Don’t forget there are always talented agencies that can assist you with your SEO needs (we like to think we are one of them).

 

Ensure that you are Creating Quality Content

Bloggers, social media managers, copywriters and anyone else who is creating content for your website need to be writing authoritative and comprehensive pieces that are good enough to stand a chance organically against the vast amount of content that there is floating around the web.

Authors need to understand that there is a lot they need to become skilled at such as SEO-friendly JavaScript, schema and rich snippets. It is vital to regularly review copy to provide quality for Google.

 

Schema and JavaScript for SEO

Developers need to be adding schema on to your site correctly which will help crawlers understand your content correctly and this will increase the chances that the content gets featured as a snippet.

There are also plenty of other actions which you can take to keep up with Google SERPs but we don’t want to go on! If you want more advice or want to increase your SEO productivity then get in touch to see how we can help!

 

Links and Title Tags STILL Matter to Rankings

Apparently, in 2019, links and title tags still matter to achieving a good place in Google’s search. It is important to let non-seos know that these tags (which they may feel lack real importance) are still vital to good SEO.

 

Google has now announced the new features that are available! Read all about them below:


Seasonality adjustments

If you have a sale or promotion on the horizon you can now use these adjustments to give a signal to Google’s Smart Bidding system to prep more effectively!

 

More in-market audience segments

New segments in categories are now available such as beauty, sports, education and real estate! Exciting stuff!

 

Calls for Local Campaigns

This feature launched last year. It is one of Google’s automated campaign formats which is aimed specifically at increasing traffic to physical locations. Soon we will be able to drive calls to business locations!

 

Group Locations for Local Campaign Messaging

We can now set up location groups, or subsets of locations to tailor budgets and messaging to specific places focused on in-store promotions!

 

Asset reporting for Local Campaigns

This enables you to be able to see how the creative elements of your campaigns (ad headlines, descriptions, images) are performing. But only labeled as ‘Best’ or ‘Good’.

 

Promotions in LIAs

Local Inventory Ads now have promotions available. This is the Shopping ads that show products available in stores located close to the searcher. They can be used to highlight special offers or promotions.

 

The world of search is rapidly changing and we will endeavour to continue to bring you the latest and most interesting updates from the world of search. That’s all for this month! We will catch up in August!

A Month in Search: April 2019

Google Update their GoogleBot

Google have been making changes to update their GoogleBot to improve its efficiency at crawling the web. This created some complaints from SEOs who remarked that they had worked on all the workarounds wasting their time now that GoogleBot will ditch these when the new version is launched.

 

Some companies will be upset at the time taken to work on the workarounds but ultimately this is for the best. Google are correct that they should change GoogleBot so that developers, webmasters and SEOs don’t have to use workarounds for Google to index, crawl and rank the pages.

 

Redirect or 404?

A new Twitter poll has revealed that SEOs advise to 404 rather than redirect when removing old content if the page itself cannot be updated with more relevant data. But ultimately this really depends. If you can’t create content close enough to the original that was being displayed then it probably is wiser to 404 rather than redirect to something too different to avoid confusion.

 

It wasn’t that long ago that we saw a lot of SEOs say they send 301 pages to their homepage. According to Google this is a bad move.

 

Google and Brackets

Recently google announced the before and after search commands and some SEO’s haven’t realised that google uses brackets. And when google uses these brackets it is a way of quoting a search phrase. This is because people can search using quotes so Google can’t use quotes reliably meaning that brackets are a much better option.

 

If a searcher used “how to wear a headband” Google would say that actually they had searched for (how to wear a headband).

Rowen Barbary work with Verve on a Digital Transformation

Rowen Barbary have been working with Verve for over 10 years and they approached the team with the task of giving their website a complete digital transformation and we were more than happy to oblige.

 

As a company that pride themselves on customer service, Rowen Barbary needed a website to reflect this and to help them to grow as a business. The new website will be built on a Magento 2 platform which is ecommerce. This will allow Rowen Barbary to sell their products online to successfully meet customer demand.

Complying With The New GDPR Regulations

Overview

On May 25th the GDPR comes into force across all EU member states, bringing the biggest changes to data protection laws in a generation. This is going to affect all businesses and particularly those involved in eCommerce and digital marketing. If you’ve not reviewed your website or email policies yet time is running out. With this in mind we have compiled a GDPR guide of must do’s to ensure clients understand the steps they need to take ahead of the new regulations.

Our experts can advise you and recommend necessary amendments to your website, security and digital marketing in accordance with GDPR directives. We can review your online presence and carry out essential alterations in advance of the GDPR deadline.


List of ‘Must do’s’

The new regulations are far-reaching and extend to every aspect of your digital presence, data collection and online strategy. If the answer to any of the following questions is ‘No’, you should contact us in respect of the GDPR and amendments you need to make to your website or online marketing.

 

Data capture – Opt-ins and consent

Strict criteria for opt-ins are stipulated in the GDPR. Users MUST have explicit choice in how they are contacted and what they are contacted about. Most current practices won’t meet the new requirements. If you rely on Consent as your Lawful Basis for handling individuals’ data this must satisfy the new opt-in requirements under the GDPR. If not, you will have to re-obtain opt-ins ahead of the May 25th deadline.


Privacy statements

Privacy Notices are a key component of the GDPR and must include clearly stated requirements. Layout, design and formatting are also important requirements, requiring Privacy Notices to be accessible, engaging and easily navigable.

 

Emails

You are required to clean up your email lists and MOST IMPORTANTLY, update the ‘Lawful Processing Rights’ for every customer.

 

Cookies

More often than not, cookie acceptance notices are standardised and generic. Under GDPR this will no longer be compliant, as it only suggests implied consent rather than demanding a positive, freely given action. Websites will need to gain active opt-in for cookies and ensure privacy notices provide details of cookies used and for what purpose. Consent will need to be an affirmative action, not a preconditioned acceptance of visiting a website.

 

Data security

Websites (indeed, all data collection & storage mechanisms) must review and demonstrate secure and robust data capture and storage. This should involve techniques like encryption, anonymisation and access control. Systems and software packages should be included in Privacy Notices, as should back up procedures.

 

Data quality

The GDPR emphasises the importance of data quality and ‘minimisation’.

Our software licenses were purchased with this in mind to support the data quality of our clients.

 

3rd parties

This includes any additional organisation or individual handling, using or acting on data on behalf of a website. This could be anything from payment mechanisms, delivery companies, through to analytics or data validating services. 3rd parties are classified as ‘Processors’ under the GDP and for each one, contracts, security and Privacy Notices need reviewing, both for GDPR compliance and responsibility mitigation.

We appreciate this change can be a little daunting however our team are here for you to advise and recommend the essential alterations needed to ensure your compliance.  Please feel free to give us a call on 01743 360000 or send an email to info@verve-design.co.uk