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      49 Mins

      The eCommerce Mistakes Costing You Sales: A Business As Unusual Webinar

      The eCommerce Mistakes Costing You Sales: A Business As Unusual Webinar Featured Image
      Published on Mar 22, 2021 by Claire Dibben

      eCommerce marketer? This 50 minute webinar is stuffed with actionable tips to help you ramp up the number of sales on your site and transform visitors into happy customers. Weaving through topics including heat maps, site search, customer experience and custom GA reporting, you'll finish the session with a list of actionable tips to help you gain big financial wins.

       

      Transcript

      Jon Payne:

      Wave.

      Luke Carthy:

      Wave with both hands. We've both got to wave, or just you wave?

      Jon Payne:

      Just I wave. You've absolutely ruined the beginning now, Luke. We may as well-

      Luke Carthy:

      All right, shall we try again next week. See you later.

      Jon Payne:

      Or I think we just start like this. I'll give you another wave Claire, just in case you want to cut us off. Luke, feel free to wave if it makes you happy.

      Luke Carthy:

      I'm not waving. It's not happening [inaudible 00:00:23].

      Jon Payne:

      Hi, and welcome to Business as Unusual. I'm Jon Payne of Noisy Little Monkey, and this week we are joined by Luke Carthy. Hello, Luke.

      Luke Carthy:

      Right on, mate.

      Jon Payne:

      Luke, thank you so much for joining us, he said moving his question, or moving his intro script, which was only three lines and I still had to read it so that I can see you. How are things with you, Luke? How's lockdown?

      Luke Carthy:

      Do you know what? Lockdown's all right. Yeah, it's getting better. I think the kids going back to school has really helped. It's like a new lease of life, if you like. It's stepping into the future. But what I'm most pissed off with, to be frank... I'm not going to turn this into a therapy session. I'll spend literally 60 seconds talking through it. I'm not in my office today. I normally have a really gorgeous blue wall behind me. I'm in a right shithole. It's not my office. It's actually not my house. I'm at a different Regis centre because there's a power-

      Jon Payne:

      Ah. Oh.

      Luke Carthy:

      It's either this or your going to see my daughter licking the camera lens. So this is the best I could come up with.

      Jon Payne:

      You know what? We'd have appreciated your lovely daughter as well. But I really appreciate you moving to another Regis office, particularly one that you have giving the glowing one-star review of, "a right shithole."

      Luke Carthy:

      I'm really hoping they're not listening and my [inaudible 00:01:51] fee is about to double I think.

      Jon Payne:

      So Luke, you've been kind enough to come along and tell us, or you're going to talk about the biggest mistakes people are making in eCommerce that are stopping them selling. I feel actually that we can do it in this kind of confrontational style because you're already having a bit of a shit day, so maybe I'll just poke the bear, and say why the hell do you think you can tell us about that? Why do you know more than the rest of us?

      Luke Carthy:

      Okay. So where do I start? From the top down. I'm just going to throw a couple of big ones out there, I think one of the probably more obviously ones. So first and foremost is delivery, right? The delivery cost, which has always been a bit of big turnoff. So it stems from me basically... So just for a bit of context, when I first got into eCommerce, it started for me on Ebay, selling HDMI cables out my bedroom. And I had three or four listings active at any one time just to do tests and see which one did the best, ultimately the same total price, but just slicing it and dicing it different ways. So it could have been a cheaper delivery fee. So just to keep simple maths, so £10 plus £2.50 delivery, or it could have been 12.50 with free delivery, or a bit of a hybrid of £1 delivery and 11 quid or 11.9 or whatever the maths is, right?

                     So the one that always worked well time and time again was always free delivery. It's definitely more potent on sort of what are they called? I should know this. This is literally my field. Places like Ebay, Amazon, marketplaces. There we go. So it always works better on that because you have to pay delivery per item. It's not like you're buying from... You're buying from lots of sellers, so they have to dispatch from different places or different delivery fees. So it works better there but the world of eCommerce, if you're buying direct from... or you're selling direct to consumers, they're all exactly the same.

                     People would rather have free delivery. So yeah, that's a big one. And I think the worst thing about it is, if you sell big and bulk items and you don't use Royal Mail, so you use couriers like DPD or Parcel Force, delivery can get quite expensive, so I have a client/mate of mine who sells online car care and his delivery fee is flat rate because of just how it works. But it's 9 quid, which is great if you spend £150 which is not difficult to do on car care to be honest, but spending 20 quid, it's quite a turnoff. It's a third of the price. So delivery fee is a really, really interesting one to experiment with and it's almost an immediate turnoff if you get it wrong.

      Jon Payne:

      So that's interesting because you talked about sort of doing this on... It starting out on Ebay and experimenting with that stuff anyway. When you were starting on Ebay, were you thinking I want to be an eCommerce guru, which is obviously what you've become? Guru's the wrong word, but master, king are more effective words, and more truthful words. But were you thinking I want to get really good at eCommerce and sell my skills or were you thinking I just want to sell a load of cables?

      Luke Carthy:

      Do you know what? It was born off the back of Currys. So my first ever job was at Currys at the age of 16, right? So I was working at Currys, to show my age, when the big CRT tellies were still for sale, the big 50 kilo-

      Jon Payne:

      Yes. Oh, yes.

      Luke Carthy:

      So HDTVs, Sky HD was just coming out then and HDMI cables were extortionate.

      Jon Payne:

      Yeah.

      Luke Carthy:

      Because there was so much markup in them. So I thought, right. Hold on a minute. Why are Currys making all this money? I don't work there anymore so I can reveal my secrets about how I robbed them of thousands of pounds, but what I did was went to Alibaba, bought a load of stock and got them selling on Ebay for a heck of a lot cheaper than at Currys, so it wasn't... That was kind of how I fell into it. It was never really kind of like, "Oh, I want to sell online." It was more of a case of, there's an opportunity here. Let's see if I can make it work. And that was where I kind of got a taste for eCommerce, selling online, experimentation. And I thought, "You know what? I quite like this." That's actually how I bought my first car, because I'm a bit of a petrol head as well. So that was my goal was to buy my first car.

      Jon Payne:

      Okay. What car did you buy?

      Luke Carthy:

      Volkswagen Polo.

      Jon Payne:

      Oh nice. Every 17-year-old male petrol heads dream initial car. But that's pretty good though. What were you, 17, 18 years old?

      Luke Carthy:

      Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

      Jon Payne:

      Wow, that's really good buying your own car off of money you've made from buying stuff from Alibaba, selling it on Ebay, and optimising your delivery costs. Apparently, it was Andrew's first car too.

      Luke Carthy:

      Oh, brilliant. We should have had a race.

      Jon Payne:

      And did you immediately start making, or after a time, you made enough money to just leave Currys and go into that, or did you stay in the real world for a bit before you came into the world of eCommerce?

      Luke Carthy:

      Yeah. So I stayed on Ebay for a while, a good couple of years. And then I was of the... I was on Ebay where you could actually leave negative feedback for your customers. They changed it years ago where you can't say a bad word about anyone who buys from you, but they can slag you off and curse your family out and everything and it's fine. So the algorithm changed. The feedback thing changed, and I decided to cut my losses. I sold to a competitor actually for a relatively tidy fee, or it was tidy at the time because I was 17, and just wanted to buy some new wheels. So-

      Jon Payne:

      That's brilliant.

      Luke Carthy:

      ... and then I went to uni for a bit, decided that was shit so I didn't bother. And then jumped into marketing, and that's kind of where... So I always knew I wanted to get back to eCommerce, but I was kind of young, naive and just wanted to kind of get to the next thing. But it was where I've always wanted to come back to, and here I am, so.

      Jon Payne:

      Yeah. Well, I'm glad you're here because... And many of us are glad you're here because your talks that we've seen at brightonSEO and this kind of stuff where you just go delivery, that's where you should start. And the fact that you can hear so many people give this sort of really useful information and all of that kind of stuff, and they've not lived it and they've not done that thing where I can't buy lunch if I don't get this right. I definitely can't buy a car if I fuck this up. And I think that gives you... That does give you a different perspective from people... and this isn't the, "Oh, we didn't go to university club." It kind of is a little bit. There's plenty of stuff you can learn from books, but there's much more you can learn by getting it wrong in the first instance and seeing that car drift away for another six weeks. And go, "Oh man. I've bought the stock at entirely the wrong price," or whatever.

                     And I remember you telling that story, but like everyone at brightonSEO, I think I was probably a bit worse for wear just before or just after that story has been told, or even through it. So I'd forgotten a good chunk of it. So delivery is key. So I want to... So how do you... And maybe you started to say this and I cut you off because I was so excited about your first car, but how do you then charge delivery? Are you suggesting that you round it into the price of the sale?

      Luke Carthy:

      Yeah, there's so many memes about it as well. And they're in jest and they're quite comedic in their approach, but really, the sentiment is very much the same. So I think there's a meme somewhere with Oprah, this new Oprah Winfrey meme with Harry and Meghan, right? Exactly. So there's one where it's $15 and $5 shipping, and then it's $20 free shipping, and everyone's just like, "Yeah, give me the 20." Just build it into the price. Now from a Ebay perspective, it actually is better because you don't get charged... When you offer free delivery, you on occasion get discounts on your seller fees. And it also improves your rankings as well in a number of areas. So for all the reasons, it's better to do it.

                     Well, it's [inaudible 00:09:46] on the back of delivery as well which is something I tweeted about and you may have caught, is your delivery times. Now Ebay is an absolute royal pain in the backside. I don't know what the experience is for you personally, but if you want anything quick, Ebay's not the right thing because it can a whole week sometimes to turn up, even from a UK seller. But what I love to do is sort of promise delivery maybe three to five days. And this works for two reasons. One is because you have the opportunity to deliver it faster, so you can deliver it in a couple of days, a single day if you can make it profitable and do that, and delight the customer. And the great thing is, they're happy to leave feedback before they've even tried any products, just because they're happy of how quick things have turned up. So you get positive feedback before they potentially have anything to say about the product, which is great.

                     Secondly is you then have an upsell to your next-day delivery which is of course, more margin. So if you're saying three to five business days for standard delivery, and people are thinking, "Do you know what? Can I be bothered to wait a week?" Especially if you order on a Friday. It's practically close to two weeks. It's an upsell to get next-day delivery which might be another couple of quid, but from a cost perspective, there's not a lot in it, especially for Royal Mail. It's like an extra 20% increment. So there's a number of reasons why it makes so much sense to nail it properly with the delivery. You could have incredible prices, but if your delivery is off, it just kills all of your effort and momentum.

      Jon Payne:

      Yeah. The thing you were saying about under-promising and over-delivering, right, on the delivery as you were saying where you... So it's no secret and probably many people on the call already know, but Luke runs another eCommerce business called Afro Drops. And Luke, tell us about Afro Drops and then let's talk about this delivery thing a bit more.

      Luke Carthy:

      Yeah. So Afro Drops to keep it short and sweet, was a brand borne out of mainly emotion to be honest. So I think I'd had a successful year, first year as an eCommerce consultant. Didn't expect it to kind of really, for things to go as well as they did, but they did and it was massively overwhelming but also really rewarding. So rather than just kind of take that money out the bank and do an Ebay and buy a car, I thought, let me go and reinvest it into something that I really enjoy.

                     Now, long story short, my boy's first day of school was a couple of years ago, and my boy is of mixed race heritage and there's a 25-ish year gap between him and myself, right? So what's really interesting here is my sons first week of school, he came home in floods of tears because he felt... He didn't see anyone that looked like him and he felt alienated for his hair and the texture of his hair and how the kids in his class were all different. There's no representation in the High Street, in his role models on TV. And I'm thinking, "Damn. It's been 25 years and my son's literally talking to me as if he's my best mate." It's the same problem.

                     So I thought, "Do you know what? Let me kind of gel my experience in eCommerce, my success as a consultant and my desire to want to make things even marginally better, and create an Afro Drops brand," which creates... I guess it's sort of here to help fight Afro hair oppression but equally, to make it accessible for people to access the products they need because you can't find them in supermarkets which is a damn shame.

                     And I've wrote a blog post, just got to give you an idea and a sentiment of how big of an issue this is. If you walked into my local Sainsburys, you would find a bigger aisle for vape liquid than you would for any kind of Afro haircare. And there's so many niche products. We're talking gluten free, low fat, tortilla wraps. And there's more space for those on the shelf than there is for Afro basic hair care. I'm not talking about anything really niche and specific.

                     So you go to B&Q for... Or sorry, you go to Tesco, a large Tesco store. You'd expect to see basic things like screws, maybe a hammer, that's sort of stuff, some basic DIY kit. If you want something specialist, of course you've got to go to a dedicated hardware store. My point here is I wouldn't consider shampoo, conditioner and just the basic principles of Afro haircare to be so specialist you can't find them in a supermarket, and that's the point.

                     So this is what Afro Drops is here for. It's to provide accessibility. It's to show my son and my daughter that we're fighting the good fight and Afro haircare is for everyone. But it's also not, it's not gender based either, or it's not based on race. Haircare and race are mutually exclusive. You have people with super curly hair who might be white, who might be mixed heritage. So yeah, it's all about that. It's just a brand that's designed to make a statement and to hopefully, to try and fix something that is wrong in the world of beauty and haircare.

      Jon Payne:

      Brilliant. Thanks. And thanks for giving us the story. I realised probably halfway through it, you like me realised the irony about talking about lack of representation and haircare to a bald, old white guy.

      Luke Carthy:

      You know what mate? Do you know what mate? I saw it. I was looking at your head as I was talking and I just [crosstalk 00:15:06] talking about the fact that-

      Jon Payne:

      Haircare for everyone. I nearly drove to where you are and slapped you.

      Luke Carthy:

      Brilliant.

      Jon Payne:

      And then obviously was on the receiving end of a much bigger slap. And it sounds like... And I remember reading that blog post, and I... I mean, we started... Azeem is clapping you in the chat. I'm so glad Azeem's here because we've got more bald representation in the house. But when I read that blog post, I remember being surprised that there was as you say, it was a lack of haircare for people with Afro type hair or whatever, and obviously I'd never noticed because I... It's that thing about, "Oh, we live in water," said one fish to the other fish.

      Luke Carthy:

      Yeah.

      Jon Payne:

      Of course, I didn't notice. So before we came on the call I'd... Because that story resonated with so much with me, I thought it was from a year or two ago. You reminded me that it's actually not... It's not quite a lockdown project. It's been bubbling away for a while. So do you think... Or how is that changing High Street affected Afro Drops?

      Luke Carthy:

      Yeah. Do you know what? So short and sweet. It's getting better. The High Street is getting better slowly but surely. So if you go online, you look at places like Superdrug, Boots even, Lookfantastic, they will all have a fairly extensive range of Afro haircare product. And that would have never existed probably a handful of years ago. So progress is happening. You walk into maybe a larger Superdrug store. You will find a decent, and I say decent, like a half an aisle of Afro haircare product. But it's getting better, but it's not fixed because you still have to go into specific stores. You still have to go into specific parts of the UK or in your area to go and get that stuff.

                     And I'm fortunate enough to live in a fairly affluent area. The unfortunate side of that is if I want any haircare, I've got to basically spend half a day, before Afro Drops existed, I've got to drive somewhere, queue up to be frankly treated like shit, be watched at every single corner, and be sold products by people who don't know what they're selling but they know it makes a fair amount of money. And the whole industry's a mess to be honest. I won't [inaudible 00:17:26] too much of this but we're now talking about it. But Afro Drops is kind of one of the cogs if you like, in the change of natural hair. I won't pretend I'm the only one. There's lot of people on this good fight, which is brilliant, but yeah, there's a lot of work to do for sure.

      Jon Payne:

      Yeah, yeah. Cool. So back to the delivery and then back to some of your eCommerce things, but I'm really glad we had the opportunity to talk about that because I just, I love it. I love it. And Claire, whose actually a Noisy Little Monkey has put, "The brand built out of love and emotion." That just is, you have that Simon Sinek thing of the tell them the why, and then so many... Oh man, this is turning into really a Jon Payne worships Luke Carthy webinar, but there's so many brands where they're trying to find their why, and if you build it from the why to begin with, if it was genuine... And most brands start out like that, don't they? They start out by someone solving a problem, and yeah. Long may it continue. Long may it continue to grow, and long may you remember and all of your burgeoning staff remember that original story of why it came about.

                     So thinking about that delivery. Horrible segue. Jarring. But thinking about that delivery and the story you were telling there, you were saying that actually you say three to five standard delivery. Everybody typically buys standard delivery apart from on a Friday. You ship it, try and get it to them in one to two days. Get those reviews early on. Again, is that something that was considered or it was a happy accident?

      Luke Carthy:

      No, it was purely considered. Again, number one learning from Ebay for sure, was that. But I think it's one of those things that I know I have a competitive advantage on because it's a thing I can afford to kind of maybe put my prices up by X percent more than everybody else but offer a decent delivery. But you know what? Let me give you one more example of how that can really work. So you know a lot of websites have a delivery threshold. So they'll have free delivery if you spend 50 quid, free delivery if you spend I don't know, depends on what it is you're selling, £25. What works really, really well is if you message, your messaging and marketing all says, say 50 quid, but you set it at £48 in your CMS because what's going to happen is, especially if you... A lot of companies round up things to 99 pence or round down to 99 pence, right? So you'll have a lot of items that are 49.99 or 48.99.

                     You're just going to wind people up. You're just going to be in a situation where they get frustrated and go somewhere else because they're a penny or a pound and a penny away from that threshold. So you kind of... If you sell things that are a quid like batteries and it makes sense, go for it. But let's be honest, a lot of the times you don't. And as a result of that, people would rather walk away from a basket that's a penny under than pay another 3, 4 quid for delivery, or a £10 delivery. So my point here is, your messaging is 50 quid. Knock it down by a couple of quid just to allow those people who are adamant... And its also a pleasant surprise, right? Some people-

      Jon Payne:

      Yeah.

      Luke Carthy:

      ... they've gamed the system and that they're some kind of super hacker and managed to work out where the weak spot is, or they kind of get that you're doing them a favour. And you can even play with it and maybe put a message in saying, "We know you're not quite a 50 quid but as we like you, we're just going to let it slide. It's cool." But these little things, it's all about under-promising something and over-delivering isn't it? It stands for a lot.

      Jon Payne:

      Yeah. Yeah. Man, that's brilliant. Every day's a school day. I'm really old and I've been doing this for ages. That 48 quid thing's an absolute sitter. Beautiful. Beautiful. So obvious because yeah, I know I've been pissed off with the... Oh, I've spent £99.99. Why aren't I getting the free delivery you swines?

      Luke Carthy:

      Yeah.

      Jon Payne:

      That's really cool. What other opportunities do you think that, other than delivery... And I suspect most of this will be off the top of your head, so. Let's just chat about some other opportunities that you see commonly missed by eCommerce brands.

      Luke Carthy:

      Site search. And I know I bang on about it a lot. Anyone that kind of knows me well enough to kind of know my work, site search is my... It's always my go-to. Always. Number one, new client. First thing I want to look at, dive into and find fault in is your site search. Let me give you a really bad example, really, really bad example. I'm not going to mention the brand because they're a client of mine, but to use an example, let's say Clarks who sells shoes, right? Imagine going to Clarks and then searching for Clarks and then finding no results. But then just to make it worse, that particular query of Clarks is their number one search query time and time again. That was how bad of a situation I found with one of these clients. And I'm like, "Are you idiots? What is wrong with you?" It's not even just about search optimization at that point. It's negligent to customers. It's your own brand query and you have no results found.

                     Actually do you know what? Bit of a spoiler, [inaudible 00:22:48] might kick me on this, but it's pre-recorded so technically I've already done it, but if you go to MADE.com, and MADE.com are really famous for sofas and home furnishings, right? If you go to MADE.com and you search for setee with one T, no results found. Right? Who in the search team is doing this shit, right? There's so many examples of where it's just really bad. And I obviously don't have the data as to how often setee is searched for, but site search is so underfunded in terms of resource, in terms of tooling, software, because everyone's always chasing acquisition.

                     Everyone's always chasing traffic, paid search, organic, email, traffic, traffic, traffic. Conversion, conversion, conversion. Checkout, whatever. But no one, well not no one, but what's often neglected is the squidgy stuff in the middle which is site search, navigation, findability, accessories, product recommendations. But site search, to give you some stats, there's a piece on [See Excel 00:23:50]. I'll see if I can find the link for it and I'll get you guys to put it in the show notes. But-

      Jon Payne:

      Thanks.

      Luke Carthy:

      ... a third of people who visit eCommerce sites, and this is quite a broad sentiment here, but a third of people will use site search. I actually thought it was a lot more than that, but okay, we'll stick with it. A third of people who go to eCommerce sites use site search. People are four to six times more likely to convert if they use site search than when they don't. You can literally see up to a 50% increase in conversion rate as a result of optimising site search.

                     And the great thing is, it's all your own shit. It's all your own search engine. You haven't got to wait for an algorithm update. You have got to wait for developers to sort this stuff out. You look at some dashboards. You tweak some synonyms and thesaurus entries and sort some misspellings. You fix that Clark search [inaudible 00:24:39] and setee on MATE, and you see instance returns. So as a consultant, that's my go-to because I'm justifying my fee in a couple of hours. And yeah, site search is just so, so huge. Such a big option, so.

      Jon Payne:

      Brilliant. And I was going to follow up with, and where do we start? How do we fix that? And you already did it. You already did it as part of the answer. Awesome. Awesome. So with delivery and site... Delivery's one of your go-to's, but the big one is site search straight away. What else needs fixing on everybody's eCommerce site?

      Luke Carthy:

      All right. So related in some capacity to site search is kind of findability and taxonomy, so navigation.

      Jon Payne:

      Okay.

      Luke Carthy:

      Because what you typically find is if clients have a really high search threshold, so a lot of people use search, it's either because you have a huge product portfolio that stems many different products, or your taxonomy's really bad. People just can't work out how the hell to shop your brand. So that's normally a couple of red flags that I look for straight away. So if there's a lot of searching going on, it's probably because they can't be bothered to [inaudible 00:25:52].

                     So Amazon is the perfect example. No one really ever... I mean, I don't have the data but as an Amazon user myself, as someone who watches and speaks to a lot of people who of course use Amazon, no one really goes through the taxonomy. You might stumble upon it as a landing page from an organic search or [inaudible 00:26:05] or something like that, but no ones going to go, "Do you know what? I need a toaster. Let me just go to home and garden, and then let me just do-"

      Jon Payne:

      Yeah.

      Luke Carthy:

      You don't do that. You search for toaster, right? So that is a case of where you've got a huge product portfolio and it's going to pain you to go through the whole taxonomy thing. Same with Ebay. No ones every going to go through a [inaudible 00:26:22] in that sense. But to the contrary, if you have a relatively... If you're someone like John Lewis, rest in peace John Lewis, depending on how far forward this... If anyone's watching this, I don't know if they'll be around for much longer, but my point is-

      Jon Payne:

      Well, let's talk about 2020 today. They won't be around then.

      Luke Carthy:

      In 2030, rest in peace John Lewis. It's been bought by Boohoo and yeah, George from ASDA is buying up every motherfucker. He bought Amazon. So where was I?

      Jon Payne:

      John Lewis, taxonomy. Probably not on Ebay.

      Luke Carthy:

      Right. So if you're someone like John Lewis, where you've got lots of products, but they all exist in quite narrow silos, so home and garden. What have you got? Technology, and so on. If you've got a high amount of people searching there, that's normally red flags because that would say to me people can't be bothered or there's a taxonomy navigation issue. My point here is, think about your landing page priority. Think about how people come to your site. So your product page is typically the highest converting because its super granular queries, so people know exactly what they're looking for. Your lower tier categories are normally somewhere in the middle, where its kind of like, it's not super granular but it's probably fairly conversion rich. And then you've kind of got your middle categories which are a little bit towards a lot more traffic but less conversion focus. Then you have your departments.

                     My point here is, if your category structures are off, then the products you show in those categories are going to be wrong and they're not going to be great, and you only get a couple of seconds to make an impression. So the last thing you want to do for example, is to say, "Go to John Lewis. Go to home and garden," and then the first product you see for example is a lawnmower. I imagine in most cases people don't often associate lawnmowers with John Lewis. My point here is that your products and your navigation structure need to be defined in such a way that it really helps people to find what they're looking for, and your landing pages work a lot better.

                     There is one brand that I think has this consistently on point every time, and I worked quite closely with them as they're a competitor where I used to work. Boots. Boots are brilliant. If you ever go to Boots and you know what you want, the category structures are brilliant. Their department pages are brilliant. They know when to show you products and when not to show you products. They make a lot of money from department pages, almost pure margin, so they charge I don't know, Braun or Philips to show their lint remover or fabric shavers or whatever Claire put. You pay a lot of money, or Philips will pay a lot of money to exist in that space.

                     My point here is, I've gone and gone around the whole region here, but my point is your navigation is critical. If it's wrong, it's kind of like walking into a supermarket and then trying to find where the sugar is and getting pissed the hell off because you can't find it. There's nothing more frustrating than that. And of course, walking into the supermarket, you can't just search for some shit. You have to actually go and have a look.

      Jon Payne:

      Yeah. So it's making sure that... And a symptom that people would see if they're running an eCommerce site or if they're working in an eCommerce team is there is more than normal amounts of site search for things that should be fairly obviously found, right? So if you are a garden centre, it's lawnmowers and daffodil bulbs. If you're John Lewis, you can expect people to search for lawnmowers because it's really deep down in one of your categories because it's not as big in home and garden as ironing boards and washing machines kind of thing.

      Luke Carthy:

      Another example actually is a high exit rate or a high bounce rate on category pages.

      Jon Payne:

      Oh, yeah. Of course.

      Luke Carthy:

      ... a good indication that something might be amiss. It could just be a lot of traffic. Could be an email campaign that was maybe not driven too well, but you could typically look at that and say, "Do you know what? Maybe our categories aren't right, and we need to look at that." Kind of straddling between those two things I think is your... What's the opposite of long tail? It's short tail? Just short queries. Right.

      Jon Payne:

      A Manx cat of search queries.

      Luke Carthy:

      Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Exactly. A bunny rabbit query with a really pathetically sized tail. So where the fuck was I going with that? I don't know, but what my point-

      Jon Payne:

      I don't know. I'm enjoying it though.

      Luke Carthy:

      ... is single or two word queries need to be treated differently to the longer, more specific queries. So here's an example again. If you go to let's say, Argos, and you search for desk, I wouldn't expect at that point to be shown a load of products. I'd expect to be taken to a merchandise page that says, "Well, okay. You're looking for a desk. Are you looking for a standing desk, sitting desk, desk for small space?" All the different options of desks available. Maybe Argos is terrible because all their desk are pretty much shit but you get the sentiment here, while longer queries, so like-

      Jon Payne:

      Just burning your potential client list.

      Luke Carthy:

      Honestly mate.

      Jon Payne:

      Regis, Argos.

      Luke Carthy:

      I need to tell you one story real quick. I'll come to this and this about Argos, right? So I got burnt by them as well. But then equally, the more specific queries like say, walnut desk or metal desk or corner desk, you'd go to as products. But the point is short queries, people don't really know what they want. They have an idea, but they need your help. Longer queries are more specific. So yeah, there's a lot of sentiment and strategy around search, but if you get it wrong, it can really, really cost you.

      Jon Payne:

      Yeah, yeah. So what was the story about the Argos desk?

      Luke Carthy:

      The first time I spoke at Searchlove, right, I ended up doing a presentation on how to manage discontinued products.

      Jon Payne:

      Oh, I saw that.

      Luke Carthy:

      Yeah, okay. Good man, maybe that's where... You were thinking in your head where we spoke about it, so that's what it was. Argos were in the room, and they weren't best pleased. But I wasn't slagging them off. I was just telling them that they're missing opportunities here. If you took offence to that then that's fine. That's your problem then.

      Jon Payne:

      Yeah, yeah. If you went home and implemented some of the fixes, then suddenly, you can go to all of the conferences all around the world, because every time you go to one, they make tonnes of money. Yeah.

      Luke Carthy:

      Yeah. Maybe it was just the fact that the SEO manager was a bit sore because I kind of handed it to her in front of her co-workers. I don't know. It's not my problem though. I innocently shared a bit of information, so.

      Jon Payne:

      If you will leave your site as an example of ways it could be improved. So this is really good. This is really good. So that thing about managing end of line products and when your portfolio changes and you're not going to get that stock in again, there must be some stuff that you see there that's an easy win, I presume?

      Luke Carthy:

      Yeah. Do you know what? Discontinued products are a behemoth of opportunity, but they are riddled with politics and technical limitations, right? So it's all well and easy saying after X months, discontinue products. But it depends on what systems you're working with. It depends on what it is you do as a business. So let me give you a perfect example. Ebay. Going back to Ebay again. When you've watched an item, when you've been outbid and you haven't won it, you go to your My Ebay listings and of course, it's still there for quite some time.

                     My point here is, there's some listings on Ebay that are up to 10 years old that are still active because they make... I imagine Ebay make a heck of a lot of money off stuff like that because once an item has ended, if you killed it, there's no opportunity for Ebay to say, "Hey. This item is no longer available. We have an exact identical or a very similar item from these sellers." Then you've got your opportunity to sell these sponsored slots and to get impressions and all that kind of good stuff. But equally, if you're in say, antiques and you have literally one-off examples, then that strategy's probably not going to work. Equally, if you're in fast fashion like Boohoo or even Asos, then that's even worse because the chances are, once that garment is sold and once it's out of season, it probably isn't going to come back, and if it does... So there's many different retirement strategies, but the point I guess I'm trying to make here is, the absolute worst mistake you can do is display a 404. The products gone. Take the product down. 404. Everyone's pissed.

                     And then think about it from a email perspective, right? So if you're in a business where... Let me think. Car parts is a perfect example. You ordered some brake pads this time 18 months ago. You've searched in your email for the car parts you ordered last year, and then you click on the order confirmation and then you click on the part that you ordered and you get a 404. I want to just reorder what I had, but if the product's still up and of course, there's now a replacement for that item because it's been replaced by the manufacturer or you've had an update or whatever, perfect. Gold. You've won the sale. I think there's two prongs to this. One is UX and experience, and the other one is SEO. And they constantly bash heads because SEOs kind of want to just clean up, redirect it and move it somewhere else. 301 it. 410 it. And people in the world of CRO, the customer services and user experience are thinking, "No. Let's keep this stuff alive, but let's show people the alternatives."

                     My kind of middle ground, my perspective on this is, keep it live in the index for so many months after it's been discontinued. That so many months is flexible depending on how quick your products shift. Then migrate that status of that page to... keep it active, but remove it from the search engines. So no index. Follow it for a while. And I appreciate that then graduates to knowing [inaudible 00:36:28] certain amount of time, but hear me out. So the beauty of that is the page is still alive. You remove it from your internal search engine because you don't really want to drive people to discontinued products. The point is, if anyone staggers across that URL from a back link somewhere, from an email confirmation, from social media, it's still active and then you have the opportunity to show recommendations or alternatives or direct replacements.

                     Then after a certain amount of time which is completely up to whoever the manufacturer is or the retailer is, shut it down and redirect it somewhere else. But I don't think just immediately redirecting it is the best thing because it's just going to piss people off. If you're looking for something and then you get sent to a category page, no. If you're looking for something, then you get 301 redirected to something else, no because that's not what I'm looking for. But once demand has dropped I think is the point where you can consider that redirect.

      Jon Payne:

      Yeah. That is the best version of that policy that I've heard for a long time, and we were guilty years ago of always 301 redirecting it as soon as we knew it was going to be out of stock for any of our eCommerce clients. At any point, let's 301 redirect it to the nearest thing or to the category level, and that was great until you started to... when you got down to the granular level and you saw how many people clicked the same link in the email and we're clearly going, "Wait, what? Hang on. It's not that. Wait." Again, again, again. What happens then? Oh, they don't check out. Oh, they've gone and searched for it on someone else because they are now pissed off with us. So-

      Luke Carthy:

      Do you know what really gets you as well is lastly on that, is it overinflates your analytics reports for products because if you're driving redirects from let's say, the iPhone whatever. What iPhone are we on now? Like 15 or something like that.

      Jon Payne:

      I'm not on Clubhouse because of iPhones. Damn you.

      Luke Carthy:

      So let's say the old iPhone discontinues next week and the new one comes out for £40,000, right? So my point here is if you discontinue that and redirect it to new one, you get hugely inflated traffic to the new page, but then a massively high bounce rate and then you'll think, "Oh, what's going on? Maybe it's our pricing? Maybe its something else." And actually it's not. It's just because someone redirected a very popular product at the wrong time.

      Jon Payne:

      Yeah, yeah. Brilliant. Brilliant. Oh, what have we got? We've got another five minutes because we've got a couple of questions coming in. Do put more in the chat panel please chaps and chapesses and those who prefer not to identify as either a chap or a chapess. Everybody put your questions in. Five to 10 minutes. Give us your next two other biggies, two other big hits from Mr. C.

      Luke Carthy:

      Two other big hits. All right. FAQ. So when I say FAQs, I don't mean product FAQs. I mean global retailer FAQs. So the questions that everybody has from anyone who's buying from someone for the first time. How long will it take me to get my order? What's your cutoff time for deliveries? How long do I have to return this thing? Are you based in the UK? Yada yada yada yada. Are you still open due to COVID? Although that's becoming less and less of an issue, but still. All of these FAQs belong on an FAQ page, absolutely. But I would also argue that these belong on every single product page on the site. And they should exist on its own independent tab. So that could be an accordion. It could be its own tab. It could be its own section on the page, however your product page looks.

                     But the point is, the beauty of having your global consistent FAQs there is that people haven't got to leave the purchase funnel in order to look at those FAQs to buy, right? So they can just click on the item. They can click on the new iPhone. They can realise that Currys have this in stock, brilliant. Okay Currys, how long is it going to take me to get this order? Well, we dispatch all orders the same working day before 6:00 PM. All right. It's 4:30 PM. I'm going to get it today. How much is delivery? And then it's like, "Well, it's free if you spend over 50 quid," or whatever. Whatever. The point is you're still on the product page. You can add to basket. You can move. You can purchase. You can do what you need, without ever leaving the product page, and I think that's always a biggie.

                     Plus you have the opportunity to inject some real humour. So we've done this. We've injected quite a lot of personality and humour into our Afro Drop page specifically around that. One of the biggest questions in the industry is are you black-owned? Not just for us but anyone that sells Afro haircare products, are you supporting other black businesses basically? And that is the top of our FAQ. And we get in heat maps and all the clicks and everything, it's the number one question that everyone wants to know about, so it's on our product page. It just helps to know.

      Jon Payne:

      Yeah. Yeah. And it is, particularly those ones that are really super emotive questions like that, having that so I that I don't have to go and try and figure it out myself. I love that. Yeah. It's not like Tescos is trying to push you away from the tills when you're trying to check out. That's beautiful. Beautiful. Okay, one more. Oh, Claire's typing in my show notes. Look at that. She's probably saying... Oh no, she's not. She just pressed return. Give us one more and then we'll go to some questions. Love it.

      Luke Carthy:

      Okay. One more. One more. I'm trying to think of one that is completely separate. Oh, I tell you what. Discount codes. So discount codes are an interesting one because you will have people try all sorts of shit. Tell you what, no. I've got a bigger one than that. Create your own discount code page.

      Jon Payne:

      Oh, yes.

      Luke Carthy:

      All right.

      Jon Payne:

      I've been saying this for years and people are like, "What?"

      Luke Carthy:

      Create your own page, mate.

      Jon Payne:

      And now you've said it. People might start doing it.

      Luke Carthy:

      Maybe. Maybe. Pay me first, but do it. So what I mean by this is... You know what its like, right? Again, Argos, why not. You're looking for a shitty desk going to back to that example. And you get to the checkout and you think, "Oh, there's a discount code field." So you try and be hacker man and then go to Google and search for Argos discount code. Then you click on Daily Mail offers because they're wankers, and then you click on their link. It open Argos in a new tab with a huge affiliate link on the back of it and you get no discount code. But then you do that three or four times so then four affiliates are climbing into this revenue, but you still get no discount code.

                     But as Argos as a retailer, they're haemorrhaging margin because they have to now pay an affiliate for doing absolutely zero work. So if you put your own discount code page up, one, you can offer less discount. It could just be free delivery, which they might have got already. Could be free delivery. Could be 5% off. Could be a free gift which is worth nothing. You just need a clearance. Point is, you are not haemorrhaging then margin through affiliates. Two, you can control the discounts you put on there. And three, customers are happy because they feel like hacker man or hacker woman because they have a discount code that they can use. It reduces abandonment. So everyone wins. And it gets linked.

      Jon Payne:

      Yeah. I love it. I love that one. We did it with a retailer, a fashion, probably not quite right, but certainly a clothing retailer and it worked wonders to reduce their affiliate marketing budget, and yeah, and reduce the MDs blood pressure. Right. Brilliant. So we've talked about delivery. We've talked about site search. We've talked about clearing up redundant product. We've talked about navigation and taxonomy. We've talked about discount codes. There was another thing. And we've talked about starting a business with passion and love, and also... Yeah. All sorts of stuff. Wow. This has been brilliant.

                     So I'm going to jump into the questions. Questions. I don't know what a question is but I'm going to ask you a question. And [Marette 00:44:14], I didn't know that I was using the Q&A until you said what an umpty, and then I scrolled up to see that Dibs had said put it in the Q&A. I forgot we had that. But then I am a granddad and I thought we were taping this earlier. So let's move onto the Q&A. So we've got, oh, quite a few. So, well, let's keep the answers reasonably brief, he said, giving a preamble that was at least two minutes long. I'm sorry.

      Luke Carthy:

      [inaudible 00:44:38]. Come on.

      Jon Payne:

      What's the best way you've managed to make these different internal departments who are often at odds, I presume that's CRO and SEO, communicate with each other, Luke? That's from Azeem.

      Luke Carthy:

      Do you know what? This is a really good question. I really enjoyed doing this in my time in-house. It's easier said than done, but if you can get yourself in a situation where you report into someone whether that's the MD or the head of something, it really, really helps. And basically, they just become your team. You take them out. You get them to argue it out. You get them to moan, and just talk to one another. As departments, we don't talk enough. We're all quite egotistical and it's not my job and yada yada, but for me personally, I've always found that pitching a problem as an opportunity really helps.

                     So let me give you an example. If there's an SEO issue where we know we've got say search queries are bleeding out into subs and it's causing us a load of duplicate URLs, that is a ticket to a web developer. It's boring as hell. It's not going to be approached with passion. It's just something to close off. If you say to a developer that actually, there's an opportunity here to improve sales, to make things easier, to potentially reduce load on a server and talk their language, all of a sudden, they have a personal interest. They become invested in that personally. And then they see it from their perspective.

                     So my point here is, talk the language that they talk. It requires you to be quite multifaceted and it may be a little bit two-faced but the reality is it helps. It gets them onboard. So don't pitch an SEO problem to a developer. Don't pitch a developer problem to an SEO. Don't pitch a marketing problem to someone who is not in marketing. But it's the same problem, you just pitch it in a different way. Get them onboard-

      Jon Payne:

      Absolute gold. Absolute gold, Carthy. You're on fire today. I'm like-

      Luke Carthy:

      I'm trying mate. I'm trying.

      Jon Payne:

      Annoyingly I'm going to have to watch this back because I haven't made any fucking notes. And that one's right at the end, you swine. Andrew [inaudible 00:46:46] had a question on LinkedIn today which was what's... I mean, yeah. I mean, ask your question on LinkedIn and then come to us for the answer, Andrew. It's the service we provide. What's the optimal URL structure for categories and products? If I have golf shoes-

      Luke Carthy:

      Oh, I love this. [crosstalk 00:47:04]

      Jon Payne:

      ... and they appear in shoes, sports wear and the golf categories, should I have three product pages and canonicalize them all to one, or should I just have one product page but from multiple category pages. Go.

      Luke Carthy:

      Let's take a sip of water to clear my throat so I can answer [crosstalk 00:47:19].

      Jon Payne:

      I'm going to do Marette kind of getting ready for this is. It's going to be a beaut.

      Luke Carthy:

      I love this question. Right, there is only one answer. Normally in the SEO world, it's it depends. Fuck that. That's not applicable to this particular question. So the way that you structure URLs for products is always the short... Put it in its own subdomain. So slash P, slash pr, slash product. Keep it short and concise. Then just have the product name. You don't want any category data whatsoever in that URL because if you add products to multiple categories, it just creates grief. Canonicals become a pain in the arse. It creates a lot of problems.

                     So that way a product can exist in all or none of the categories, and the URL always remains the same. The great thing is about using the name as well is, providing your CMS allows this, if you rename the product, the URL should not change, right? That's really important because the last thing you want is for someone to rename the product, tweak it, emphasise it, add something on and then the URL changes. So you don't want to do that. Category URLs, now this one is a little bit different. I personally really like the way Shopify do it, I know, shock horror, where they just have the name of the category in... I don't like the collections bit. That shit could die.

      Jon Payne:

      Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

      Luke Carthy:

      But I do think having it in its own group, so slash C, something nice, short and concise for category, but then the category name. You don't need the full path because of course, that could... depending on how many levels of hierarchy you have, that could be [crosstalk 00:48:49] of the URL, but just the last lowest part of that category. So if you've got category one, two and three, then the URL should be slash C for category, slash three and then whatever it is dot HTML. And then use your structured data, your internal links, your breadcrumbs, all that kind of good stuff to let search engines know that it belongs to a taxonomy branch.

                     I really like how Shopify do that so props for that. But that's how I'd always tackle categories. And then lastly on that actually, brand categories are a slight tangent from regular categories because there of course, they don't really have hierarchy as such because it's just brands, but I would actually have in their own independent subfolder, so slash B or slash BR. So separate branch for brands, separate branch for categories and then independently put URLs with that and you [inaudible 00:49:41].

      Jon Payne:

      And then that gets... So treating them all like the canonical product URL that you spoke about at the beginning really. Have I got that the right way round?

      Luke Carthy:

      Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah. Exactly. So your product URL never changes. Your canonical is nice and easy for products. Your categories and products can exist mutually exclusive in regards to URLs. Its happier. Everyone's happier. Products-

      Jon Payne:

      Yeah.

      Luke Carthy:

      ... customers. Just yeah.

      Jon Payne:

      Beautiful. Beautiful. So we've got one less question because Darren is just bigging up Andrea's question. Nice work Darren. We're all about the love here. So I think Darren that we've answered, but let's just check, product paths. Not quite at a root level. There's a domain forward slash P or product forward slash the product name.

      Luke Carthy:

      Let me just explain why I think they belong in a subfolder rather than at root because I see it a lot of times at root. You go into search console, you really want to jus the able to look at all products performance, right? Really easy to do that when you're in a subcategory or a subfolder, sorry. The minute you put them at root, you're going to start pulling your hair out mate. I'm telling you. It's not worth it. Of course, if you've inherited that, if that's just how it is, then that is just how it is. But putting them in their own subfolder just makes it so much easier to segment and dice and slice.

      Jon Payne:

      Yeah. Same in analytics as well.

      Luke Carthy:

      Yeah. Analytics, even doing site commands in Google, just do slash P or whatever it is and then it's beautiful, right? The minute you've got stuff at root, it just... It's hard. It's harder. It takes more time. You're going to be swearing more and you don't want that, so.

      Jon Payne:

      Yeah, cool. Hopefully that answers it Darren. If not, you can find Luke... Luke, where are you on Twitter and places like that? You're @LukeCarthy, right?

      Luke Carthy:

      Yeah. MrLukeCarthy on Twitter because Luke Carthy was taken, not because I'm an asshole, just pointing that out.

      Jon Payne:

      I'm MrJohnPayne. We are brother in so many ways, you've no-

      Luke Carthy:

      Was JohnPayne taken or were you just being an asshole though?

      Jon Payne:

      No, yeah. You're right. Just an asshole. No, JohnPayne was taken. It's an artist who does sculptures of vaginas with teeth, which is really annoying. When people are like that, yeah, I searched for you on Google and this was the image that came up. And I'm like, "Yeah, don't show me. I've seen it." But Marette has our final two questions. First one we've got a minute on. Second one maybe we've got 30 seconds on. First one, what do you think of DTC and how do you think it's different to B2C, FM2C, eCommerce? Can we have more acronyms in there please, Marette? DTC being direct to consumer, is that correct?

      Luke Carthy:

      Yeah. In my opinion, it's not. eCommerce is eCommerce. Like B2B eCommerce and B2C eCommerce, D2C, FMCG, whatever, eCommerce is the same. All the stuff we've spoken about is applicable to all of them. In fact, the one that it applies to the most is B2B because B2B eCommerce is typically the one that's really, really terrible. But if you provide a really good experience typically seen in D2C or B2C and you provide that in a B2B environment, smashed it. So if you can do business to business eCommerce but provide a really slick experience, you are going to be a business that's typically successful, alas the SaaS market. But yeah, it matters more from a positioning maybe and more of a structural in terms of who you sell to, but as far as eCommerce is concerned, it's the same shit. Same CMSs, same framework, same best practise, all the same stuff.

      Jon Payne:

      Brilliant. And I think probably the most important question of the whole time is what's the final decision on the correct spelling of eCommerce? Is it E with the hyphen? Is it all one word? Is it camel Ks? I'll give you a bit of... Now, that's from Marette, but when I started Noisy Little Monkey, I spelled it with the hyphen and then Tash joined and she started to take the piss out of me and go, "Ooo, granddad. E-commerce is it?" And so we changed it and I still... Still hurts me Luke. Still hurts.

      Luke Carthy:

      Okay. Do you know what? I think email and eCommerce fall into the same thing, but I type it all of the time, right? So for me, its just lower case, mate. It's one word. It's just like the word email. The minute you start putting hyphens and uppercasing the E or the M of email, you'd look like an absolute nugget, like you've got an AOL account or something. But for me, I write it just as a normal word without the hyphen, but then saying that, I reckon I'm really going to shoot myself in the foot because my brightonSEO presentation I think has an uppercase C on it.

      Jon Payne:

      Yeah, yeah.

      Luke Carthy:

      I don't know.

      Jon Payne:

      And you and Claire in the show notes, between you have used hyphen and no hyphen. So you give it the charlie large bananas when you're under pressure here on the television, and then it turns out that in secret, you're sowing those seeds of dissent using different spellings. I really like all lower case so if everybody could adopt that, that just makes it easier. Luke, this has been delightful. It's a real pleasure to meet you mate, in such a weird way. I hope we can bump into each other sometime again soon in real life. Thank you everybody for coming along. There'll be a recording of this later. Luke, if you want to hang on and have a debrief, I think that's what they're called... Anyway, no one else can stay for that. That's me and Luke getting our trousers off. Thank you everybody. Goodbye.

       

      Claire Dibben

      Events & Marketing Manager Claire writes about events, and, uh, marketing.

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