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Category Archives: Web Store

Enform E-Commerce Integration

By | Announcements, Automotive, eBay, ecommerce, Google, Industry, Instagram, SEO, Social Media, tools, Web Store | No Comments

Enform Specialises in eCommerce

 

Enform enable Online Retailers to build and grow marketplaces, audiences and advertising reach. Utilising knowledge and experience we work with you to build a multi-channel, multi-market business that integrates with your systems to provide scalable options.

With each business utilising different systems to deliver pricing, inventory and rich content for their listings – virtually every integration is a bespoke development that needs proper planning and management to ensure economic and efficient delivery. Read More

Grow Your eCommerce and Digital Capability At a Fraction Of The Cost

By | Adwords, Blog, BPO, eBay, ecommerce, Outsourcing, SEO, Web Store | No Comments

                       Outsource 1

As more  companies plan to grow their capability in the eCommerce space to satisfy the insatiable demands of their customers for online research and purchase, many small to medium businesses are struggling with the skill-sets and costs required to hire new, or train existing staff, to manage this strategy extension.

In particular, auto parts and fitment stuff can be very tricky but we can help with any complex data sets Read More

Power Retail Talks to MotoParts About Auto Parts E-tailing

By | Automotive, Blog, ecommerce, Industry, Research, Web Design, Web Store | No Comments
MotoParts-266x266

Selling automotive parts online has proved challenging for MotoParts, but developing a parts-centric approach has helped the company progress. Power Retail chats to MotoParts’ Scott Shillinglaw to find out more.

With a long history in the B2B commerce space supplying wholesale auto parts throughout NSW and Australia, MotoParts decided to launch into a completely new sales channel to leverage their existing business model. As one of the largest online marketplaces, eBay was the obvious choice for MotoParts to start their online presence and drive a whole new section of growth for the business.

This decision was prompted by the rapid growth of the Australian online automotive parts sales industry (estimated to be worth $380.3 million in 2014-2015 and growing annually at a compounded rate of 17 percent) centred on New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland – areas that have the highest number of kilometres driven.

Power Retail magazine caught up with Scott Shillinglaw, Online Director for MotoParts, to see how the transition came about and how they used PARts Australia for data and technology.

Read more about MotoParts’ Parts-Centric Approach using PARts.

Enform, Motor Media and PARts

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SuperPro_Tradeview_hybrid

Enform has always tried to work closely with the best service providers. Two of these are Motor Media and PARts Australia

Enform has expanded these relationships with greater collaboration for the development of specialised auto parts web sites for e-commerce, online parts lookup and sophisticated parts interpretor functionality.

Motor Media have years of experience in auto parts and accessories and have developed a number of web sites for leading aftermarket brands. They are a preferred PARts integrator for CMS based web sites using Joomla or WordPress as well as developing custom solutions including e-commerce. The team at Motor Media offers a one-stop-shop approach to web and graphic design.

PARts Australia provide an e-cosystem of applications and tools that help auto parts brands, suppliers, sellers and workshops manage, distribute and share product and fitment data. Their mission is to make suppliers data available wherever their customers are and in whatever format they need it in using global standards. Most importantly, its your data. You can read more about PARts Web Development services here

With this closer collaboration PARts Australia will be available to provide coding services for back end data integration and related scripting to support Motor Media’s front end expertise.

This combined approach brings together the best of both worlds with cutting edge UI and UX development coupled with some of the best parts and fitment data and code experts for a win-win.

Enform will continue to provide co-ordination and or project management services as required but this approach should speed up development of new services, sites and solutions while delivering solid support for our auto parts customers.

 

B2V2_AFI_Search_1

 

 

Questions To Answer When Designing Website Navigation

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Organising content for a website calls for designers to ask key questions on their planned Information Architecture (IA). Usability experts the Nielsen Norman Group (NN/g) broke down these problems, providing answers to the 3 most persistent questions many designers today struggle with when building sites.

How Many Categories do you Need?

The general rule of thumb is to have enough categories to show all the information offered on your site or app. However, what’s considered ‘enough’ will greatly depend on the content and intention of a site.

Most simple sites with a small range of content will usually do fine with a few categories. This minimalist approach helps users find the information they want as quickly as possible. Take for instance, Dyson’s website for their Airblade line of products (the Dyson Airblade is the company’s take on the quick hand dryer). The entire website has a solid IA scheme since all variations of the Airblade fit into 5 categories.

Dyson airblade homepage

Dyson Airblade Homepage

At the other end of the spectrum is RestroomDirect, a site that also sells hand dryers as well as a bunch of other fixtures for public bathrooms. Condensing all information on the site down to 5 categories makes it difficult for customers to find information on the company’s full range of products, which is why the site features 7 links in the top horizontal navigation, and 17 product categories in the vertical navigation. This combination allows users to easily access all relevant information on the site as efficiently as possible.

Restroom Direct

www.RestroomDirect.com

Both examples show the basic principle behind determining the appropriate number of categories in a website: go with what makes it easiest for users to access the information they need; don’t box yourself in by trying to hit a predetermined number.

Should you List Categories in Alphabetical Order?

Organising categories by a certain order is another issue frequently tackled by designers, many of whom feel that sorting categories alphabetically makes the most sense.

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to this problem, but what you can do is consider the following factors:

  1. What organising principle would be more meaningful than sorting alphabetically?
  2. Will visitors be familiar with the category names
  3. How many categories do you have?

More Meaningful Organising Principles

One approach that makes more sense than alphabetical organisation is frequency of use, which helps the majority of visitors on a site access the information they’re most likely looking for.

An example of this can be found on RightMove.co.uk, a property listing that has the categories For Sale and To Rent as the first two items in the navigation panel. This setup saves users a tremendous amount of time, since it makes sense to highlight content users are most likely to click on.

Rightmove

If you were to organise categories on this site alphabetically, you would get the unintuitive result below.

Rightmove labels

Standard Labels

However, there are instances when alphabetical organisation is more efficient. If you have categories under just one label (e.g. product names or brand names), users naturally look for information they know, like a particular word—alphabetical organisation is more helpful in this situation.

Do you Need Hover Menus with Touch Devices

With the advent of mobile devices that rely on touch interfaces, UX designers are wondering whether sites should still have hover nav menus.

Hover activated menus are unwieldy for touchscreen users. Even with menus adapted for use with a tap instead of a hover, touchscreens are just too small to display an entire menu. This can result in problems scrolling the menu without deactivating it by touch something else on the page.

However, just because a part of your audience can’t use this feature, doesn’t mean you should withhold it from everyone else. Hover activated menus are still easy to use on conventional desktop interfaces.

The key here is graceful degradation: ensure that customers who can’t use hover activation still have a means of accessing your content. A good example of this setup can be found on the Fedex website, which provides both hover and tap options for all their users, whether on traditional desktop interfaces or touchscreens.

Fedex

The full Fedex website has hover-activated menus

Fedex mobile version

The mobile version of the Fedex site automatically replaces hover menus with a simpler tap interface

As always good website design is about taking in to account your audience and how you can get them to the information they are looking for quickly and easily. It is worth spending time in the initial concept phase on these types of questions to avoid costly redesign and coding later on.  Need help with your site, want an objective review? Contact Enform today.

Tips to Support Users with the E-Commerce Shopping Cart

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e shopping cart

The average e-commerce website flow ultimately leads to one thing: checkout. The site is designed to help shoppers find the items they want, add them to the shopping cart, and proceed to the payment.

If only things were that simple.

A study by usability experts the Nielsen Norman Group (NN/g), involving actual users shopping on websites, says otherwise. The process isn’t as linear, as many shoppers use shopping carts as holding areas where they sift through their selected items, deciding which ones they want, and which ones they don’t.

So, this means the shopping cart has to do more than act as a collector of information about products. It also needs to help shoppers make final purchase decisions.

Here are some ways to do so.

Offer Access to a Full Shopping Cart

It’s a good idea to offer access to a page in the checkout flow dedicated to showing the full cart, as this helps users make purchase decisions with more ease. Users can turn to the cart to review what they’ve added so far, check product details, make comparisons, and get partial totals to meet budgets or qualify for promotions.

Although offering access to a full shopping cart would seem like common sense (in fact, it was common practice in the old days), many designers need to be told to do so today. Many websites make the mistake of only providing a mini-cart view that shows a partial view of the cart in an overlay—not an entire separate page. The latter is more effective for users who want to take their time making informed decisions on their purchase.

Provide Product Details in List Form, Offer Large and Clear Product Images

With shoppers making purchase decisions using the shopping cart, it’s important to show clearly what items are in it. The cart should list the products added to it, and include clear product images large enough to show details the shopper needs to make comparisons with other items of interest.

Crucial details to show in the cart include the product name, attributes specific to the product selected such as size, colour, quantity of items selected, and of course, price. All these details serve to help shoppers remember their selections and make comparisons between items

Product images are also essential to making product comparisons easier for the shopper. And even for users not comparing items, images serve to remind users what’s in their cart, acting as a quick visual reference.

You’ll find that shopping on sites that offer no product images, or small pictures at the least, are a pain to shop in, leaving you with no visual cues to remember.

Offer a Link to the Product Page for Full Details

It makes perfect usability sense to provide

shoppers with a way to navigate back to the full product page from the shopping cart. Be sure that your site allows users to click on a product in the shopping cart to go back to the product page so as to allow them to read more about the product or review item details.

In addition, make sure it’s easy for shoppers to know that they can quickly go back to the product page of each item on the cart. A simple way of doing this is to indicate product names as links, doing so by using different text colours or presentations. Several sites make the mistake of notifying shoppers that product names can actually be clicked through a hover response. Don’t add this layer of unnecessary guesswork—let shoppers know right away that product names are links.

adidas sampleAdidas.com provided clear links to remove each item. However, users could not set the quantity to zero and update the cart to remove an item.

Supporting Decision-Makers

The shopping cart is not the only part of the e-commerce site that needs to support decision-making, but it is a frequently overlooked one. Every aspect of a site devoted to selling items is important to the overall user experience and success of the site — our 800+ guidelines for better e-commerce sites exemplify the need to pay attention to many details. The shopping cart needs to be more than a list of items, by also supporting shoppers who use this page to make final purchase decisions.

Google to Rollout Close Variant Keyword Matching End of September

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exact-phrase-match

When people go to search engines like Google, it’s not all the time that they key in their queries correctly. According to Google, at least 7 percent of all searches on their search engine contain some sort of misspelling, with longer queries more likely to have a typo. Web users don’t have the time to care about such trivial matters, especially in this time and age of shorter attention spans and a continually growing hunger for information. People expect to connect with products, services, and businesses they’re looking for.

For instance, a person trying to find “kid scooters,” “kids scooters,” or “kid’s scooters,” will want to see the most relevant Google ads regardless of these small differences in the search phrase. This is precisely why Google is turning to close variant keyword matching as a means of intuitively connecting search engine users with the people and businesses they’re looking for. The solution will apply to all exact and phrase match keywords.

Since its introduction in 2012, advertisers on Google’s AdWords program have enjoyed varying degrees of success. The company notes that the majority of advertisers are already matching to close keyword variations, garnering an average of 7 percent more exact and phrase match clicks with similar conversion and clickthrough rates. Besides this growth in keyword coverage, these incremental clicks directly translate to potentially crucial opportunities missed by low search volume keywords, a common occurrence when misspellings and abbreviations are concerned.

Widen your Reach

Beginning late September, Google will be rolling out close variant keyword matching to all phrase match and exact match keywords. It’s worth noting that close variant matching was already “switched on” by default in the campaign settings, so many advertisers won’t even notice any change in their keyword matching activity.

However, advertisers that opted out will notice the option to disable close variants disappear sometime around the last week of September. All exact and phrase match keywords will then connect to close keyword variations, allowing you to broaden your reach towards more potential customers with the most relevant ads, while at the same time, trying to lower your cost per click (CPC) and improve your clickthrough rate (CTR).

widen reach

 

What Does this Mean?

There’s always some level of anxiety present when Google makes changes to its search engine protocols and paid advertising program, as even the smallest changes can have huge effects on a company’s SEO and PPC campaigns, undoing several hours of work.

However, we at Enform actually see this update as helpful to our clients, as it cuts out the complexities of matching several lists with abbreviated, misspelled, and slight variations of your keywords just to get the coverage you want.

This time around, all you need to focus on is adding close variants of keywords that you don’t want to trigger your ads, to your negative keywords list. This is a far quicker way of shaping your traffic and reducing costs per click; it doesn’t hurt that this also offers a better ad experience to your potential customers.

It’s worth pointing out that Google AdWords tends to trigger ads with keywords that are most identical to search queries, so that doesn’t mean misspelled, abbreviated, and other close variations of your keywords are useless. Try to look how these close variants perform, they just might be able to stand independently as separate keywords with their appropriate bids.

A Different Point Of View

This mandatory change may have larger implications that mark a loss of control which is bad news for SEM (search engine marketing) professionals.

With this release we are heading towards a “keywordless” world where Google dictates when your ads appear and for what search terms.

With Google recent release of Shopping Campaigns, ads are generated using Google Merchant Account inventory feeds instead of keywords. Google is gaining more and more control of ads and advertisers may not be able to even control the outcome or put up a fight.

As long as AdWords keeps delivering results advertisers want, there won’t be many people complaining. Product Listing Ads are getting advertisers more results, and generally so will close variant matching, so it can’t be that bad…right.

google_robot

However, it’s time for the negative keywords to the rescue, that is for advertisers who feel very strongly about exact match terms, there is still the option to use negative keywords to weed out irrelevant queries.

 

3 Tips on Getting Website Product Descriptions Right

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product description matters

E-commerce solutions like PARts B2 provide detailed product descriptions and details from the supplier using a database 

The basic tenet of e-commerce: Help the customer find your product and get what they want. If a potential customer can’t find your product, you obviously won’t get a sale.

However, connecting with relevant product pages is just the initial phase of the purchase process. And while it’s true that many sites have made improvements to their navigation and information architectures, many product pages on e-commerce sites are still in need crucial improvements.

Enform’s clients already know that product pages should do more than just have a product image, a generic description, and an option to add to the cart. Instead, the page should sell the product, convincing users that the product on the page is exactly what they’re looking for.

Yet as simple as that sounds, many pages fail to do this.

Product pages are especially important since they fill the gap of the traditional shopping experience, where users are normally able to touch the product, examine its packaging, and test or fit it before the purchase. Online, users can only go by what they see on the product production.

Multiple e-commerce studies by web usability experts the Nielsen Norman Group (NN/g) show that as much 20% of all observed task failures, or times when users abandoned or failed to make a purchase, were caused by poorly written or incomplete product information.

NN/g recommends the following tips for website product pages.

 

  1. Pages Should Answer Customers’ Questions

NN/g’s research specifically indicates that many users simply couldn’t find enough information to make an informed purchase decision. Now, there’s no way to guarantee that your product pages will answer all questions by potential customers, but that doesn’t mean you should settle for the bare minimum either.

answer_question

The J. Peterman Company is a company known for using lengthy, verbose stories for product descriptions, in their print catalogs as well as online.  They also follow their more eloquent prose with standard facts about the item for sale, such as “pointed collar,” “shell buttons at center front,” “1-inch grosgrain ribbon (antique white) at neckline and left front placket,” and “adjustable cuffs.”

 

Besides the most obvious features of the product, shoppers also want to know the smaller details on products they’re eyeing, and that can be anything from accents on clothes; furniture dimensions; product care information; size of toys; storage recommendations for edibles, to whether or not a hotel has a heated outdoor pool working all year.

Where many sites get it wrong is in their focus on basic information, or sometimes even the wrong information.

 

  1. Go Straight to the Point

Just because we told you not to settle for basic information, doesn’t mean you should input long-winded descriptions of your products. There’s a difference between a complete product description, and a wordy one. Users want information that describes the product, not incessant please to buy. One or two calls to action will suffice, don’t go too overboard with the marketing messages.

to_the_point

Forever21’s brief description covered key details about the product, its construction, and how a customer could wear the item. This was followed by a bulleted list of product details, including fabric, measurements and care which is quite a good example of going straight to the point.

 

Users often skim through text when browsing and reading online, and are more likely to read at the beginning of the text than the end. Given the importance of the first few lines of your product description, don’t waste it on text that doesn’t help the user.

Another great way of conveying the specifics of a product is to use product photos. NN/g’s found out that large and detailed images are a tremendous help to users wanting to know more about a product. Unfortunately, many sites settle for small images that fail to show sufficient product details.

 

  1. Make Comparisons Easy

Several online shoppers view the ability to compare multiple products as a crucial factor in shaping their purchase decisions. It’s imperative that you offer a facility to help users decide which of several products is best for them in a smooth and easy manner.

make_comparisons

Pottery Barn listed information about dressers in a consistent and descriptive way. Two bedside-tables descriptions began with brief overviews, and then bulleted lists that provided comparable details about the products, listed in the same order for each. Each listed dimensions, followed by materials, features, finish information, and hardware details.

 

It also helps if you can reduce the need for comparisons by making your product line simple if your catalogue allows for it. For those that can’t, such as e-commerce sites that carry multiple vendors, some help with tools is needed.

Many e-commerce sites already have tools that enable shoppers to compare products side by side. Some of these are effective, others not so much. According to NN/g, the key here is to offer comparable information in an easy to compare manner between similar products. It also pays to be consistent in the volume of information featured for every product; customers don’t like seeing plenty of information on one product, and hardly any on another.

Overall, remember that many customers are actually looking for a reason or confirmation to buy your product or transact, try not to disappoint.

5 Key Global Online Marketplace Brands

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global online market

The process of global expansion has changed significantly over the last 5 years, so much so that eBusiness decision makers are no longer expanding internationally through the traditional method of building several direct-to-consumer websites. These days, many leaders are creating official accounts that act as online storefronts on various marketplaces to further their reach.

The sheer number of these online marketplaces might make it difficult for you to choose where to create a storefront, which is why we at Enform have narrowed down your choices to 5 leading marketplaces that offer compelling reasons for business owners and brand managers to extend their reach through their sites.

Why Marketplaces?

In several countries, marketplaces offer plentiful options for brand stores across different categories and represent a huge chunk of all online sales in their respective territories—it’s an opportunity just waiting to be exploited.

Although global online marketplaces are home to thousands of small to medium enterprises selling their wares on these platforms, these marketplaces have increased their options specifically for official brand owners.

Marketplaces are highly appealing today because they:

  • Offer instant access to a large audience. These buyers are major hubs for international shoppers. This eliminates the need to build an international customer base from the ground up, as marketplaces already aggregate online shoppers in their territories for you.
  • Streamline entry into their international markets. Entry into new international markets has never been easier with global marketplaces. One of the key obstacles that impede the entry of brands into new markets is the cost of building new direct-to-consumer websites solely for a specific region.

Marketplaces solve this problem by offering a smooth, low-cost entry into a foreign market. Furthermore, the top marketplaces have existing relationships with third-party providers that provide customer service or after sales support—something brands no longer have to spend on.

Marketplace Challenges

Of course, marketplaces aren’t without their share of challenges. eBusiness leaders should take note of the following:

  • Marketplaces might demand that you offer your products at discount prices. Marketplaces often revolve around the concept of offering bargains to shoppers. True enough, eBay’s Fashion Galleries are home to several outlet shops, Rakuten likes to wow shoppers with deals right on their home page, while Tmall has several brands offering extended sale periods on certain special holidays. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, but for brands looking to sell their products near their retail price, this can be a problem.
  • Marketplaces can put a dent on creativity. Some marketplaces like to maintain a level of uniformity across all the brands on their sites, so the rigidity of these templates can mean having less wiggle room to stand out with your storefronts.
  • Marketplaces offer limited to no access to customer behavioural data. The top marketplaces share some data with sellers, albeit not as much as you would get if you ran your own e-commerce site. For instance, Tmall shares data on page views for product listings, store traffic, conversions, transaction prices, and more. However, Tmall and other marketplaces fail to offer information on the product paths of customers, which means having no idea on your customers’ browsing behaviour.

The Top 5 Global Marketplaces

Amazon

amazon

Established in 1994, Amazon stands out as the only company featured in this report that handles operates international marketplaces alongside conventional online retail businesses. With the combination of online retail and marketplace offerings, Amazon is easily the dominant online retail player in the United States as well as in a number of international territories.

Outside American and Canada, Amazon drives 85 percent of its revenues from Germany (35% of international revenues), Japan (26%), and the United Kingdom (24%).

Some of the key takeaways from working with Amazon include:

  • Amazon brand store reach extends across several countries, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, China, Japan, and India. With its global reach and uniform technologies, Amazon presents an attractive and easy option for brands to build official stores across multiple markets.
  • Amazon actively reviews brand stores and makes recommendations on improvements. The online retail giant offers brand stores the option to incorporate several features and tools into their systems, which include online video and access to deep product information.
  • Another area where Amazon separates itself from other marketplaces is in the kind of customer information it provides to sellers. Instead of receiving data on customer shopping behaviour, brand stores are provided with an Amazon service where the company automatically evaluates for a brand for performance in key areas. The results of this review are placed in a dashboard that compares the seller against rival stores in the same category.

eBay

ebay_logo

No marketplace discussion is complete without a mention of eBay. Starting out as an online auction site in 1995, eBay has since expanded into one of the largest online marketplaces in the world. At present, the site runs localised customer-to-customer (C2C) marketplaces across 22 countries in North America, Europe, and the Asia Pacific region, with more than half of all its total revenues derived from outside the United States.

Key takeaways to bear in mind entering global markets with eBay include:

  • eBay’s brand stores are primarily targeted towards key markets and categories, for now at least.  Although the company’s international marketplaces have a wide reach, its enhanced offerings for brand stores are significantly concentrated. It wasn’t until 2011 that eBay created a commission-based brand store serviced named Fashion Gallery in Australia and the United Kingdom; eBay’s localised marketplaces in these regions boast of more than 100 brand stores, with offerings ranging from accessories, apparel, and footwear. Fashion Outlet is a brand store offering in the United States that works the same way.
  • eBay provides brands with the option to use its fulfillment options, or to turn to the company’s logistics systems. In addition, brands can also benefit from eBay’s resources when answering inquiries related to Fashion Gallery.
  • Brand stores wanting to make an impression on customers will be happy to know that eBay’s brand store offerings are highly customisable, with Fashion Galleries having their own hub of pages to distinguish them from the rest of the marketplace.
  • Individual brand stores can be customised according to the desires of managers and owners, who may want to build marketing-heavy pages, or a store that focuses on conventional eCommerce layouts.

Mercadolibre

Mercadolibre

Founded in 1999, MercadoLibre is the leading online marketplace in Latin America, operating marketplaces across 12 countries in the region. As of 2013, more than 40 percent in the company’s revenues came from Brazil, while 25 percent came from Argentina. Key markets for the company include Mexico and Venezuela.

Key takeaways for brands expanding on MercadoLibre include:

  • While MercadoLibre has operated successful marketplaces in Latin America, the addition of brand stores is a fairly new development. The first brand store emerged in Argentina in June 2013, Brazil the following year, and Mexico earlier this year. The most popular sellers focus on fashion—apparel, footwear, and accessories. Overall, however, MercadoLibre sees a significant percentage of sales coming from computer hardware and electronics.
  • MercadoLibre provides localised features for the Latin America segment. For brand owners, the company labels brand offerings to distinguish them apart from regular marketplace vendors. In addition, shoppers can search for products specifically within the brand site. Other localised features include instalment payment schemes, and local payment options.

MercadoLibre also offers an online wallet called MercadoPago, plus the option for customers to pay via local payment centers such as boletos bancáriosin Brazil or Oxxo convenience stores in Mexico.

Rakuten

Rakuten

Established in 1997, Rakuten has grown to become Japan’s dominant eCommerce company, boasting of more than 85 million registered users, and a market share pegged at 30% in the country.

Over the last decade, Rakuten has bolstered its expansion plans by acquiring several international eCommerce and fulfillment companies from all over the world, allowing the company to offer international shipping from its domestic marketplace, as well as launch multiple marketplaces outside of Japan. The company runs marketplaces in the US, UK, Thailand, Taiwan, Spain, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brazil, Germany, France, and Austria.

Brands interested in expanding through Rakuten should take note of the following:

  • Rakuten is unique due to how it operates different types of marketplaces, depending on the region their based in. The company brands its marketplaces differently around the world; for instance, in countries like Thailand, France, and the UK, Rakuten operates a co-branded site with the Rakuten name alongside a partner marketplace acquired by the company. On the other hand, marketplaces in the US and Brazil only bear the Rakuten name.
  • Offerings for brand stores are available on Rakuten’s flagship site in Japan, as well as other select marketplaces. Still, brand stores are most established in Japan, with Rakuten providing several enhanced brand services such as fulfilment options and customer service solutions—the latter being a major challenge for brands as Japanese customers have some of the world’s highest customer service expectations.
  • Localisation is perhaps the most compelling reason for brands to sign up with Rakuten. Brand stores by Reebok and Toys R Us on its flagship store are heavily tailored for the Japanese consumer in terms of site design. Rakuten describes its brand stores as completely blank canvasses, with only a small header on the top marking the store as being under the Rakuten Marketplace.
  •  Payment options are also localised, with shoppers given the option to pay at convenience stores as well as through a myriad of offline and online options unique to Japan. Other markets see a similar style of localised payment option, such as cash-on-delivery for metropolitan districts in Indonesia, and instalment schemes in Brazil.

Tmall

Tmall

Anyone looking to penetrate the Chinese market should take a hard look at Tmall. Operated by Alibaba, Tmall was first launched in 2008 as a separate site from its C2C counterpart Taobao. Today, Tmall caters to shoppers in China, Taiwan, as well as SAR regions Hong Kong and Macau.

Tmall stands out for providing a marketplace experience that guarantees genuine products to customers, and liberal customisation options for brands wanting to control their store’s shopping experience.

The site is the dominant player in China’s B2C eCommerce segment, with estimates of its market share in the country hovering around 50 percent—far beyond any other marketplace in the region.

Brands looking to tap into the Chinese market through Tmall should take note:

  • Tmall is a favourite among many global brands selling online in China and surrounding territories. With more than 100,000 brands, around 2,000 of which are international companies, Tmall boasts of an estimated 500 million registered shoppers.
  • The variety of brands on Tmall is impressive, ranging from consumer electronic brands like Samsung and Apple, apparel brands such as Nike and Levi’s, as well as a variety of brands in surprising categories like food. In fact, ice cream company Haagen-Dazs sells around 2 million RMB or US$ 325,000 of products on the site every month.

Final Thoughts

thoughts on market

Opportunities for brands to sell their products through online marketplaces are growing quickly, all while the marketplaces themselves are trying to meet the specific demands of their growing clientele. For eBusiness leaders of global brands, here are some key takeaways we at Enform have outlined for you.

  • Analyse how marketplaces can match your needs. Some marketplaces allow you to tap into multiple markets, while others enable to really delve deeper in one specific region. Examine your partnership options and see which ones are in line with your global expansion goals and more importantly, your budget.
  • Don’t shy away from giving marketplaces your feedback. Let marketplaces know what features and tools are important to your brand. With marketplace solutions evolving as we speak, now’s the best time to let them know what things should be integrated into their offerings for brand vendors.

How to Tell Web Navigation and Information Architecture Apart

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People in web design and development know that navigation design and information architecture (IA) concepts go hand in hand. In particular, IA is used to feed information towards usable navigation design.

Still, they are not the same. In fact, the reach of information architecture goes far beyond website navigation, which has been described as being only the tip of the iceberg that rests atop the site’s information architecture.

Information Architecture Defined

A site’s information architecture consists of two major components.

  1. The identification and definition of the site’s content and its functionality
  2. The basic organisation, structure, and classifications that define the connections between a site’s content and functionality

When you view a website, you’re not really seeing its information architecture (IA). Instead, IA informs the user interface, the part of the site you interact with. The IA is documented in diagrams and spreadsheets, not in prototypes, comprehensive layouts, or wireframes.

example of an information architecture site map

Here is an example of an information architecture site map by the Nielsen/Norman Group’s (NN/g) website. The blue nodes show tier-one information objects, while green nodes show tier-two objects, and tier-three objects are shown in yellow. 

While IA itself may not be visible to users, it definitely has a crucial impact on the site’s User Experience (UX), defined as the totality of everything the user encounters while on a website. However, users will feel  the structure of the site, depending on how its content is divided and connected in ways that meet their needs.

Website Navigation Defined

A website’s navigation is comprised of several user interface components. Navigation is designed to help users locate information and functionality, hopefully leading them towards favourable actions. Main components of navigation include local navigation, global navigation, utility navigation, facets, filters, footers, related links, and more.

example of navigation components

Examples of navigation components shown above

Some decisions have to be made when thinking of each navigation component. For instance, when usage priority is concerned, you need to ask yourself how much users depend on a particular navigation component. Placement is also another factor, calling for answers on which pages a navigation component should be present in. Lastly, the pattern is a factor that calls for questions on which navigation design patterns best support discoverability, whether it’s carousels, megamenus, or more.

IA and Navigation Relationships

The mistake many designers make when building a site is that they ignore IA and focus only on navigation. Doing so is inefficient, not to mention dangerous. Navigation that fails to address the full scope of content and functionality of a site can be a costly mistake.

For instance, imagine a design team opting to use the common inverted-L style navigation consisting of a top navigation bar and a left navigation rail, because they like how it looks. This template can be used on sites that have no more than 4 tiers, so you can only imagine the headache the design team has when they realise later on during a site inventory that many parts of the site will be more than 4 tiers deep.

IA First Before Designing Navigation

That being said, it’s important for designers to first define or redefine the site’s IA before even thinking of a design project. While it’s true that the IA has to be flexible to accommodate new information, it doesn’t have to be final before wireframing and prototyping—a first pass is enough to get an idea of the volume and complexity of the content.  Making choices on your navigation components based on appearances alone can force you to remodel your IA, or cram too much information in a navigation component, ending up in your website failing to accommodate the needs of users.