Graphic facilitation: capturing words in the air

Now more than ever before, with a constant flow of inputs, we need to record information that concerns us. Organisations face a tough challenge in the current work environment. And all it takes is an open window (Slack, Zoom, Teams, etc.) to pull our attention in a different direction. One method to address this issue (in addition to filtering and closing parasitic channels) is known as ‘graphic facilitation’, or notes augmented with drawings. It seems suspiciously simple.  

Facilitation 1

 

However, there is no doubting the results: drawings can be memorised three times more rapidly than text. Producing drawings yourself also increases this effect and they do not need to be “well executed” (see Ref. #1). By using the channels that our brains respond to best, you can capture people’s attention.  

 

Graphic facilitation covers several areas  

It can be divided into the following: 

  • Scribing, or visual recording, captures oral content by recording it live through writing and drawings; Facilitation 2

 

 

 

  • Sketchnoting means augmenting text notes with drawings, in an individual manner; Facilitation 3

 

 

 

 

  • Modelling aims to take data that is already known and structure it into a written and drawn document Facilitation 4

 

 

 

  • Talking and drawing involves making an oral presentation and sketchnoting at the same time. 

OK, but what is it for?  

Facilitation 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We already have many tools at our disposal, including meetings, workshops, presentations, conferences and more. 

But using graphic facilitation is something different. The complexity of ideas to be expressed means we need to invent something new, while getting back to basics. We have all endured meetings that seem to go on forever, with too many details provided at the wrong time. Or workshops where, under the guise of encouraging participation, entire pads of post-its are stuck to the walls, or where the tedious reading of painstakingly written reports could have been avoided. None of the people trying to get this information across wanted these results. 

 

Graphic facilitation offers an approach that is both fun and provides structure. It enables us to engage the channels our brains respond to best, capture attention and provoke thought. Participation and the memorisation of information presented will naturally follow. 

 

Facilitation 7The universality of this practice is also its strength: you do not need to be a Da Vinci to do it. The drawing ability of a five-year-old is easily enough. I have met very few facilitators (if none at all!) who are designers as I am. They are agile coaches, project managers, developers or UX designers, for example. Actually doing it can be scary though. For me, as a graphic designer, the main barriers I had to overcome were to let go of my work and avoid being too demanding of myself. The rest is all about training and structure: once you have learnt how to write legibly, draw shapes that are simple and provide structure, and listen actively, the hard work is done.  

 

One of the essential parts of graphic facilitation is the ability to tell stories and, as you do it, you realise that anything can be used to do this: a story has a beginning, a middle and an end. The way in which we structure our words, our speeches and our presentations is no different. Once you identify the underlying hierarchy in any structured speech, applying simple images to it is child’s play. 

 

The resulting physical material becomes valuable, fun, organic and inspiring again (and it can be shared and re-explained).  

 

(Tempted? So why not come and try! A caring community) 

Facilitation 8

 

(And now/Some references/Visual food and entertainment) 

 

(see Ref. #2 #3 #4 #5 #6). 

 

References 

#1 Association for Psychological Science (APS). (2018). For Learning, Drawing a Picture May Really Be Worth a Thousand Words. Found online, on the APS website at www.psychologicalscience.org/publications/observer/obsonline/for-learning-drawing-a-picture-may-really-be-worth-a-thousand-words.html 

#2 @romaincouturier 

#3 @Jan_Gunter 

#4 @UnPictoParJour 

#5 playability_de 

#6 beingvisualwithadam.mystrikingly.com 

[Replay] How to build a winning unified commerce strategy

2020 represented a new decade for the digital world, but this has been a particularly challenging year due to the global pandemic. The world economy is under pressure and at the same time we are witnessing a tremendous acceleration in digital commerce.

Some of our customers in the retail industry have seen their online sales multiplied by 10 since March, a growth level they never experienced before.

For many retailers like JouéClub, Unified Commerce has become the corner stone of a winning digital strategy in a very complex environment for two reasons:

1 – The end customer has become very difficult to capture, convert and retain

2 – The digital ecosystem in Unified Commerce is increasingly hard to master, making the ROI goal an even greater challenge to meet

The key question is: “How can you build your Unified Commerce strategy to ensure business success for the coming years?”

 

Download our unified commerce strategy video

Remote training: feedback from agile coaches

Due to the lockdown, the possibility of organising remote training courses rapidly emerged at SQLI. At first, I was not very keen on the prospect and neither were my agile coach colleagues.  We thought that not being together in a classroom would affect the quality of our training. After two months and more than 25 agile training courses conducted via video-conferences, find out how our adventure in remote training went! 

 

Does remote training work?

Yes! Interaction, discussions, exercises and games are key elements for trainees to understand and learn. With a video-conference, it is possible to have both trainer-trainee and trainee-trainee interaction, and to carry out valuable exercises. 

The feedback from trainees has been very positive. Like us, some of them were reluctant to take part in remote training courses, but they were pleasantly surprised! According to their feedback, some of them even found remote training more effective than classroom training: 

“Even though we were in lockdown, it was possible to do exercises remotely with lots of teams thanks to Teams and Mural. Half-day sessions like this are ideal.”

“Great training, managed by 2 great trainers during lockdown.”

“Well structured and very instructive. This remote experience was most interesting.”

“Very lively training session!”

Based on their questions and the discussions we had with them, we were able to confirm that they had grasped the various concepts covered during training. 

 

Seven adjustments made for effective remote training

Adapting course length and format

While, with classroom training, we had two consecutive days of training to promote immersion, we changed the format to half-day sessions. We did this to reduce screen time and, therefore, avoid visual fatigue, long periods seated and concentration difficulties.  

We basically tried out two formats:  

  • Four half-days on four consecutive days; 
  • One half-day / one full day / one half-day, on three consecutive days. 

Trainees’ opinions of these two formats were mixed. Some of them liked the full day, which made it possible to focus on the training and not be distracted by their day-to-day work. Others preferred the half-days, which enabled them to maintain a good level of attention. Many of them told us that two full days in a row would have been too much to handle.    

For our SAFe training courses, which are always difficult to complete in two days, it was an opportunity to add a half-day to the training. We of course included a good 15-20 minute break in each of the half-day sessions, to give everyone a chance to take a break from the screen and move around a bit. 

 

Adapting course content

Our agile training courses are generally made up of 50% theory and 50% practice (including exercises and games). While some of the exercises were not possible remotely, we decided that reducing the amount of practice was out of the question! It is an essential element for the trainees to fully understand and take on board the concepts covered.  

We therefore reviewed our courses one by one, in order to adapt the exercises: some were adaptable and could be conducted via a digital collaborative tool, while others were not and had to be replaced. Thanks to the Microsoft Teams video-conferencing tool, we could also divide the group of trainees into sub-groups, in order to carry out exercises in small groups and encourage all to participate. 

 

Reducing the number of trainees

In classroom training, the number of trainees is limited to 12. After several tests, we decided to limit most of our remote training courses to eight trainees, in order to enable everybody to interact and get involved. 

Turning on the webcam 

In order to encourage interaction and participation in our training courses, we asked trainees to turn on their webcams. This presents several advantages:  

  • It breaks down distance, both between the trainees and between the trainer and trainees; 
  • It enables the trainer to pick up on the trainees’ non-verbal language, comprehension problems, dips in attention, and so on. 

 

Retour d'experience 1

Video-conference via Microsoft Teams

 

Using collaborative tools

We experimented with iObeya and Mural for the various games and exercises. Both are relatively easy for trainees to get to grips with. These tools are essential to enable participants to do exercises together. Setting them up and preparing the tables for the first course takes some time, but the advantage is it can all be reused for subsequent courses!

At the beginning of the course, we take a few minutes to explain how to use the tool to trainees and allow them to experiment with it.

Retour d'experience 2

Collaborative workshop using Mural

 

More refresher exercises

We made the most of the half-day sessions to introduce exercises at the beginning of each day to refresh participants’ memories of topics that we had covered the previous day.

 

We used several formats:

  • The standard refresher exercise, where all participants recall what they learnt the previous day, while the trainer assists and takes notes along the way;
  • Little games, such as 40 Seconds and Agile Taboo, which are fun, stimulating and enlightening. The feedback on these games from trainees has been so positive that we will be keeping them for our classroom training courses.

 

Testing and working in pairs

Before the first remote training course, or before beginning a new remote exercise, we carry out dry runs among ourselves. This enables us to check everything is working properly and, very often, adapt the exercises for a better experience! Furthermore, each training course is initially led by two trainers in order to ensure it runs smoothly. It is easier to deal with unexpected problems as a pair: while one person is leading the session, the other can manage any problems that crop up and tweak things as needed. After conducting the course once as a pair, we assess whether subsequent sessions can be led by a single trainer or should continue to be run as a pair.

 

Planning ahead to avoid connection problems

Losing 15 to 30 minutes due to a connection problem is an all too common headache. To try to make sure it doesn’t happen, here are a few precautionary measures:

  • Test the link to the various tools, with a person from the client company, before the training course begins;
  • Ask trainees to log in 15 minutes before the session in order to ensure that their connection works;
  • We give our telephone numbers to trainees so they can contact us in the event of a connection issue.

As it turned out, our remote training sessions actually began far more punctually than our classroom sessions! 🙂

 

So, is it better than classroom training?

No, we wouldn’t go that far! While we are pleased to say that the remote courses work very well, certain aspects cannot be replaced, or are difficult to emulate, remotely. For example, for trainees who are somewhat reticent, withdrawn or lack confidence in the subject, it is more difficult to reach out to them and get them involved. However, by doing exercises in small groups, it is still possible to encourage participation, in the practical part at least.

Elsewhere, in classroom training sessions, discussions can continue during breaks and at lunchtime. With remote training, everybody uses the break to leave the screen and video-conference, so the discussion is ended. As trainers, we do connect before the training begins, and offer to continue after the end of the session, for those who wish to continue to talk, but this does not replace the immersion that classroom training allows.

 

Will we continue the remote training courses once the health risks are over?

We think that most of our courses will switch back to classroom training. However, we see an opportunity for companies and ourselves to provide quality training for people located in other cities or countries, while avoiding long journeys for a couple of days of training. In these cases, continuing with remote training offers real added value.

 

Insights from Asia – Growing customer relations without a physical store

Customers purchase from brands, but they value and trust people more than the brands they buy from. This is why omnichannel marketing efforts are important as they can be used to help provide a consistent experience across all platforms and offer a personalized experience for each individual customer. This improves the overall customer experience (CX) and leads to increased customer loyalty. This article looks at what’s happening in the field of customer interaction in Asia and how this is affecting business strategies for retailers in the region. 

 

INCREASE IN THE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

People are now online much more than before, working from home, attending school from home, catching up with friends via video calls from home and more. The pandemic has changed the way in which we interact. 

An article published in March 2020, by the Victoria Newsconfirmed that: overall Facebook messaging is up more than 50 per cent over the previous month in countries that have been hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. In those same locations, voice and video calls have more than doubled on Messenger and WhatsApp. 

As social media usage has increased, customers have started to notice a change in what they and others are posting during these uncertain timesPeople aren’t just on social media to share updates and read the news — they’re shopping too.  

Some major brands have allocated a budget to famous bloggers to increase their credibility on Instagram for example. And it’s this change that is making some bloggers in Asia into stars. 

 

KOL MARKETING

Key Opinion Leader (KOL) marketing is now an international phenomenon and highly efficient in China; especially due to the increase in the use of live streaming.  A great example of this was given by the most famous KOL in cosmetics in China, Li Jiaqi, who sold 15,000 lipsticks in just 5 minutes during his live stream 

Sales are now a major part of social media platforms, such as Instagram, where accounts that meet the criteria to add swipe up links to their Instagram Stories have the option to be more versatile. Instagram swipe up is incredibly useful because it allows businesses to promote products, blog posts and sign up pages. These pages open right in the app for users to explore as well. When a swipe up link is added to a Story, viewers can simply tap on the arrow at the bottom of their screen or swipe up on the Story to access the link. 

The use of streaming has been demonstrated by many retailers in China – and an example can be seen on TAOBAO’s e-commerce platform. The idea is that because customers stay longer in the environment that they know, with people that they trust, brands can expect more sales. 

In the travel sector, Layla, a Chinese blogger on Sina Weibo, has created China’s first “Female Private Collection of Independent Travels” with 4.8 million loyal followers. She is helping to shape a new image of Chinese women as travelers with “Independence + Culture + Insight”. Her unique travel model is based around her tagline “In-depth travels by an independent female – do not follow fashion to explore the destination”. She has also created her own successful brand and is highly regarded as a travel KOL.  

 

NO NEED FOR PHYSICAL STORES

One fundamental reason for the Chinese blogger’s success is the prevalent usage of mobile devices among the Chinese population. There is no age barrier for mobile penetration in China, enabling brands to maximize the potential e-commerce market value. Brands can reach everyone from 8 to 80 years old as potential followers and buyers, even though the young generation still has the main purchasing power. This demonstrates how e-commerce businesses can increase sales when a physical store is no more accessible. 

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF CX

With this change in promotional methods, we are now seeing new bloggers creating their own brand and selling it exclusively online. However, it is important to remember that the quality of customer experience is not only related to online business. Some opticians in China for example have reported a sales increase with less customers, by scheduling a dedicated slot due to covid-19. These customers are no longer disturbed by other customers and have a dedicated professional to help them select the right product. Customers who book a slot, come to buy a product but expect a better customer experience. 

 

Following the lockdown experience, people have started to look for different ways to communicate, share ideas and do business. And one media that seems to be opening opportunities is that of video.  High quality and emotive content on video channels encourage people to like, follow, share, and interact.  

 

Such videos are much more likely to have a lasting impact and encourage conversations afterwards. Furthermore, online retailers are realizing that if their video content includes a narrative/subtitles/voiceover, users will be able to get information subconsciously – making it more relevant to each individual viewer. 

Digital workplace: does anybody seriously believe they can do without change management?

The transition to a digital workplace is now unavoidable! By unifying the tools we use every day, it offers benefits that no longer need any introduction: more efficient individual and team working, smoother communication and an enhanced employee experience, which are also key drivers for remote working. While you have certainly considered the required technologies, what about change management?  

 

Change management: crucial for the adoption of your digital workplace  

The promises of the digital workplace have convinced your organisation that it is time to make the leap, or improve what you already have. Never forget the major role played by the human factor in the success of your project! 

A digital workplace can be a major departure from your existing processes and corporate culture. Beyond unifying a set of tools, it involves the introduction of a system that will change the habits and working methods of all departments and employees. Like an organ transplant, there will be a high risk of change being rejected if it is perceived as a threat. So, to get change underway, it needs to be explained and understood.  

Digital workplace 1

A change management policy is therefore essential. It will be determined by your vision of what your new digital workplace will look like and how it will operate. In other words, you must give it direction and governance. For example, you may want to put the focus on strengthening collaboration or boosting innovation. Remember that, in order to guarantee a significant business impact, your digital workplace must be aligned with your strategy and direction.  

 

Bring the right people on board to make change happen 

Once your direction and governance have been defined, it is time to look at the agents of change involved in the introduction or development of a digital workplace. Bear in mind that a lack of internal engagement is one of the main causes of failure. This is why the earlier you bring your employees on board, the easier it will be to manage change. 

Digital workplace 2

According to the size of your company, an ambassador or ambassador community must be defined. Who are they? Supportive key employees who will be continuously informed and trained, in order to make them stakeholders in the design of the system, which they will know like the back of their hands. They will be able to help bring the rest of your employees on board. 

Executive and line managers also have an important role to play in managing change. Without clear instructions from management, new ideas run the risk of being rapidly ignored. For example, by adopting the change themselves, they will demonstrate their adherence to the digital workplace concept, thereby giving it a significant boost. Managers are also best placed to oversee new practices. The idea is not to make the process of bringing people on board top-down, but to get support from management to complete the mission.  

 

Provide training to concretize change management 

Digital workplace 3

It is now time to teach employees how to lastingly and effectively use the tools in your digital workplace. Developing skills will greatly influence your change management policy. This is where the ambassadors come in: once they have fully understood the use and value of these tools, they will be able to promote them to a wider audience. It is also possible to provide short, time-efficient training sessions for this group of ambassadors, in order to strengthen their skills.  

Another advantage of providing training for ambassadors, rather than for a wider audience, or even all employees, is the time and money saved. In order to support this approach, it is advisable to provide extra training materials via a range of digital tools for those who require additional help. In addition to technical skills, it is a good idea to include the communication skills needed to promote change in the training. Elsewhere, this part of the training can cover management of the change in culture and thinking, as the level of digital maturity will vary among employees. 

 

Various formats are available to conduct this change, such as the production of guidelines using UX Writing, or remote sessions led by coaches. All depends on your organisational environment and DNA. There is, however, one rule that applies to all: avoid the “Big Bang” approach, i.e. using a single launch. It is better to proceed in stages, with small steps, in order to regularly introduce new things. This will help employees involved in designing and promoting your digital workplace keep up with the pace. 

As with any transformation, the introduction or development of a digital workplace is an approach that must be personalised. The uses, cultural changes and aims are specific to your organisation. Establish your change management policy now to make sure your project isn’t a flop! 

Download our Digital Workplace White paper

[White paper] Digital Workplace: Connect, collaborate and grow sustainably

Business success today relies on connectivity, collaboration and the capacity to make decisions in real time. This means that organisations that wish to remain competitive need to transform the way in which they work, in order to allow people
to be productive from anywhere at any time.

The key to success lies in the effective implementation of a digital workplace strategy, capable of driving operational
efficiency and social connections.

This white paper provides insights into the digital workplace and looks at:

  • The definition of a digital workplace
  • Key players in the digital workplace space
  • The benefits of a digital workplace
  • Best practices when implementing a digital workplace
  • A digital workplace case study

 

Download our Digital Workplace White paper

The Modern Workplace: How to create one effectively! 

Today, employees are increasingly required to work from home and some have to learn totally new ways of working and using collaborative tools. In light of this, companies are beginning to become aware of the opportunities and benefits offered by the Modern Workplace. Putting in place such a system will enable employees to work more efficiently, individually, as a team and remotely. 

 

BUILDING THE MODERN WORKPLACE TOGETHER WITH EMPLOYEES 

First and foremost, creating a Modern Workplace means giving your staff the ability to work together in a more flexible and mobile way, from anywhere and on any terminal. Users are at the core of the Modern Workplace and their needs must therefore be identified from the outset of deploying the solution. When setting it up, you need to think about the best possible deployment for team working, as user needs are based on key areas that include communication, coordination and facilitation. The human dimension must be given as much weight as technical aspects. 

 

CHOOSING THE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE RIGHT JOB 

The company must define the specific way each tool will be used, including its features, its functions, its utility for users and how it will facilitate their work on a daily basis. Users must always be the first consideration when making choices. 

Modern Workplace tools are useful for both individual and collective production. For example, employees need to be able to easily communicate between themselves and with people outside their organisation, using the same tools. The portal aspect is also important for community and company-wide communication (e.g. Intranet), as is the social aspect, providing a space where colleagues can interact (e.g. corporate social network). 

Sometimes, the tools chosen by a company do not meet users’ specific needs, which is why the development of usage scenarios is essential in order to ensure the Modern Workplace is effectively deployed. 

 

CREATING A USER GUIDE & GOVERNANCE 

Employees may have many questions about the use of tools: why use Teams more to make calls and not Skype? Where and why should documents be shared to save time? How to improve collaborative projects and save time with them? 

By establishing a governance system, it is possible to define uses and harmonised guidelines, and communicate them to employees.  A user guide sets out the tools’ features and explains what they can be used for. This helps users and new arrivals at the company get to grips with digital tools more rapidly.  

Governance is provided by a committee made up of people from various departments linked to the solution, who will have a vision of the deployment and development of the Modern Workplace. 

 

AN AMBASSADOR TO PROVIDE ASSISTANCE AND ANSWER QUESTIONS 

Users will need to work with these tools on a daily basis and will not always be sure how to use them, how to manage bugs (yes, these are unavoidable!), how often updates should be performed and so on. This is why an employee-ambassador, who is able to answer questions, can play a key role in the smooth adoption of the Modern Workplace. This ambassador can ensure effective management of the changes brought about by the solution. This is why an employee support plan must be introduced as soon as development of the Modern Workplace begins in the company. 

 

COLLABORATION BETWEEN DEPARTMENTS 

Globally, interdepartmental collaboration ensures that the Modern Workplace is set up effectively. Firstly, there is collaboration between the IT and HR departments which play crucial roles. HR has knowledge about employees and knows who to contact and how to contact them, meaning it can rapidly pass on their needs to the right people and help the IS department choose and deploy the right tools. The committee created for governance can therefore include people from these two departments. Other departments are also involved in this approach, such as the Communication Department and General Management.  

The key to effectively setting up a Modern Workplace is to avoid underestimating employees, their desires and their needs to work efficiently and more independently. As we have seen, a Modern Workplace presents many positives for both the company (competitive advantage and increased productivity) and employees (increased independence, more efficient working through the elimination of repetitive tasks, etc.). The Modern Workplace is a significant asset for the growth of a company and its ability to provide a stimulating environment for employees. 

Amazon – death with a shopping cart?

So it has finally happened. What we said would happen for eight Black Fridays in a row: Amazon has launched in Sweden! 

In our industry, this caused a stir comparable to the one you would get using a trampoline to get into your bathtub, and even before Amazon.se went live, the media was brimming with statements from those with an opinion. That is – everyone. And of course, opinions are exactly what this article is made of as well.  

But at least we have tried to stop and listen to others before we join the chorus. There are many wise people out there and many are certainly right, at least to varying degrees. And our opinion is by no means unique. But we do feel that the debate has become a bit too polarized.  

Either one joins the team of “The world is going under” or the people that claim (often in an unconvincing way) that “We’re not afraid, bring it on”. But of course, the reality is more nuanced than that. It is not a just question of e-commerce being fundamentally rewritten as a business concept. Even though there will be cases that belong to one of the two extremes, there will also be a whole bunch landing somewhere “in the middle”. In fact, we would argue that for most businesses, Amazon is a great opportunity, not a threat.  

  

The United States 1994 …

1994 was a great year for Sweden being third in the football world cup. But also for Amazon, which then was in their start-up cradle. In e-commerce terms, 1994 roughly corresponds to the Stone Age. And to address the “threat angle”, we can thus begin to state that Amazon has had 26 years to create the position currently held in the American market. And why this matters is clear.  

The insanely strong position Amazon has conquered on the other side of the Atlantic is largely a result of the time you need to be present in order to change an entire market’s shopping behavior. At the time Amazon was established, it was not just a matter of being the biggest – it was also a matter of being first. Not the first e-commerce as such, but the first with the radical goal to become a complete marketplace for everything the consumer may need, based on (for the time) unique ideas such as drop-shipping and independent subcontractors. 

In the beginning Amazon mainly sold books. But over time, the company developed into a kind of a digital one-stop-shop, where you could buy everything from hair curlers to flat screen TVs in one place and at a reduced price. It was not just a matter of being a few pennies cheaper on a single product category, but also about establishing behavior for the early e-commerce customer stating that “Amazon is the home page when you need something“.  

In the same way you would take the family station wagon to a physical one-stop-shop and fill up the trunk, you would enter “amazon.com” in the address field when you need to buy anything at a really good price. If Google is “where the Internet begins” then Amazon is “where the shopping begins”. At least if you live in the United States.  

  

… vs Sweden 2020

If you take a look at Northern Europe 2020, the situation is very different. Sweden is today a highly digitalized country. Of course, we do not claim that the digital revolution is in any way over, we are hardly the Jetson family in their flying cars (yet). An enormous amount of digital innovation is still to be done. However, we claim that the Swedes by now have acquired solid shopping habits online as well, as 89% of us already shop online according to the Swedish report “The Swedes and the Internet” released last year.  

With that comes not only “starting points” in the customer journey such as “Elgiganten is a good site when you want a TV” or “at revolutionrace.se I’ll find really good outdoor pants”, but there are also completely different options. Popular price-comparison sites such as Prisjakt (Pricespy) and Pricerunner along with Google Shopping are services that have delved deep into Swedish customer behavior, and have probably earned a stronger position on our market than they would on markets that have long lived with dominants such as Amazon and eBay.  

However, if Amazon manages to position themselves at these starting points as well (which is most likely the case with low prices and a high advertising budget), the giant will definitely gain large market shares. To a large extent, they will (at least in the beginning) compete on equal terms with other, already established e-retailers who in turn know their customer and their market.  

We are not saying that Amazon can not change our customer behavior – it has been shown time and time again (examples from other countries later in the article) – only that it is much more difficult when you are a newcomer who has not been involved since the market was established. This is definitely a fact competitors can – and should – take advantage of.  

  

Is the success global or local?  

So, we can establish that Amazon has conquered and are now dominating the American market, this is nothing new to anyone. Worth remembering, however, is that Amazon’s level of dominance differs from market to market internationally.  

It’s been hard for the eCom giant to replicate its success in some markets – while the success has been greater in others. If we, for example, were to look at Germany (which in many ways is a market similar to ours in Sweden), Amazon has entered and gained large market share. Amazon today accounts for a staggering 27% of all purchases in the German e-commerce market. In 2019, Amazon.de had a turnover of 10.25 billion Euros. No matter how you look at it, it’s an incredible market share. But it’s also worth mentioning that, in view of what the market’s expectations were, that Amazon has actually underperformed. In fact, several German e-commerce experts estimated that Amazon’s turnover in the country by 2019 would amount to 18-20 billion Euros, i.e. almost double what has actually been achieved. But sure, the fact is still that Amazon has had an obviously successful trend when it entered many other markets in Western Europe, being especially strong in France, Italy and England (more detailed data can be found here.) 

But there are also examples of markets where things didn’t go as well after launching, primarily in Asia and Oceania. The e-commerce giant decided to launch in China as early as 2004, but nevertheless failed to adapt to the Chinese e-commerce culture and finally gave up in 2019 after fighting for many years against local rivals such as Alibaba and JD.com.  

In fact, in Australia Amazon is yet to be profitable, despite launching there as early as 2017. Pondering these weak results, Amazon has not made any further attempts to launch in other countries in Southeast Asia, where local companies such as Shopee and Gojek dominate the market. The closest exception in the region is India, which is the most prioritized market for Amazon right now. With a rapidly growing e-commerce culture, many experts predict that India in the future may account for as much as 13% of Amazon’s international sales, corresponding to about 30-40% of India’s total e-commerce market.  

  

Who are the losers?

Our belief is that it is the “middlemen” (i.e. retailers, department stores and other marketplaces) in the countries where Amazon makes its entry that suffer the most. If we, again, use Germany as an example, Amazon.de generated 10.25 billion euros in sales in 2019. This is about four times as much as the two largest German chains of department stores, Karstadt and Kaufhof, combined. This is a pattern that is recognizable in many of the markets where Amazon has succeeded in establishing itself, with a few exceptions such as Asos and Zalando.   

One explanation for “the middlemen” suffering the worst from Amazon’s entry can be found in a very interesting market study from Köln-based IFH, which firmly claims that what is happening now in Germany is that the market as a whole is undergoing an “Amazonization of consumption”.  

IFH’s board member Eva Stüber was, for example, quoted saying that Amazon has become so entrenched in customers’ consciousness and consumption habits that the path to the customer has practically been cut off for other e-retailers. Even in Germany, Amazon is well on its way to becoming “where shopping begins”.   

 

And who are the winners?

So, are we saying that the general theme here is “death to all”? Not at all. Instead, we definitely see an upside for many of the market’s actors with the entry of Amazon, where 1 + 1 could become 3. Because, as we mentioned earlier, Amazon must after all be able to sell everything to everyone – like a digital one-stop-shop. And not all consumers like that way to shop. We believe this to be true for both digital and physical commerce.  

If you are a specialized niche store, with a really solid branding as a foundation, you probably have an ace up your sleeve when the competition begins. And after all, being a marketplace, Amazon can offer an exciting new distribution funnel for your products if you do it right. The old proverb “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” rings true. 

 

Niclas Rudolfsson  

Competence Lead Marketplaces Product Leader Star Republic/SQLI  

Ola Linder  

Competence Lead Content Strategic Project Manager Star Republic/SQLI 

e-Commerce: the growing role of ethics  

Times are changing, and the time when companies did business only for business’ sake will soon be far behind us. In the 2010s, the idea that a company’s ethical values should play a greater role in choices started to take root in the minds of consumers. And e-Commerce is no exception; quite the contrary. 

 

How do we define an ethical value?  

In order to be ethical, a product must meet a set of environmental and social criteria that are inherent in sustainable development and corporate social responsibility. Ethical business therefore involves a production chain that uses responsible work and production methods, including respect for employees and both the socio-economic and natural environment. 

It is not just one more marketing value, like the wave of greenwash in the 2000s. Different time, different morals: consumers have matured and are no longer taken in by this kind of approach.  If a company’s words do not match its actions, the sentence will be swift and its reputation will suffer. Social media has put the focus back on consumers and their influence on products and companies. Bear in mind that consumers are far more volatile when they make their purchases online. Ethical values therefore play a decisive role in acquiring e-consumers and building their loyalty.
 

Are consumers really sensitive to ethical values? 

Yes, because the trend is no longer to consume more in order to own more, but to consume less in order to own better things. A report entitled ‘The Future Shopper 20191‘ revealed that the US pure player Amazon remains the most commonly used tool to compare prices and reviews, but it is no longer such a clear choice. Firstly, from an ethical point of view, but also because lots of products come from far away, which means long delivery times and occasionally questionable quality, which can cause problems when a product has to be returned. So, online buyers tend to be more drawn to local and domestic products, in particular generation Z (16-24 year-olds). This consumer category is also far more concerned by ethical and environmental issues, which is reflected by the movement of Greta Thunberg. 

The study draws our attention to the fact that “consumers’ values will greatly influence both purchasing behaviour and that of sellers.” 55% of respondents stated that brands’ ethical and moral values influence their purchasing decisions, and the proportion increased to 58% among 35-44 year-olds. 45% of respondents choose brands that care for the environment, which means that environmental responsibility is at the heart of concerns in the purchasing decision. Companies’ ethical transitions will clearly be determined by the growing number of consumers who care about ethical values. 

 

Which websites cultivate ethical values and how do they do it? 

The emergence of e-Commerce websites selling organic or ethical clothing, focussed on quality and proximity 

Organic, because the materials used to make fabrics, such as cotton and wool, are sourced from organic or responsible farming. Quality, as the fabrics are selected for their durability and the expertise of artisans, which is handed down from generation to generation. Proximity, because the workshops are located in the same country or a country nearby (such as a European country for a product purchased in France). Such e-commerce websites often only sell a limited range or a single product (e.g. LePantalon, which sells only trousers). They are also very often combined with small shops located in city centres, for further proximity.
 

Another ethical approach: reusability  

Major ready-to-wear chains, often considered to be running against the environmentally responsible trend, are moving into upcycling, either by encouraging their customers to bring back old clothes in exchange for vouchers (such as H&M), or by offering clothing ranges made with recyclable material (such as Uniqlo). Websites that connect users to buy and sell second-hand clothing, such as Vinted, are also growing in popularity, particularly among generation Z. In the space of a decade, these platforms have surpassed fast fashion in terms of market share.  

Websites selling reconditioned products are operating in a fast-growing market (e.g. Backmarket). This global market is estimated to be worth more than 50 bn euros, almost half of which is related to smartphones. In 2017, approximately 140 million smartphones were reconditioned, tested and sold globally. In France, in the same year, reconditioned products represented 10% of mobile phone sales. This popularity is related to the fact that these devices are increasingly sophisticated and, therefore, increasingly expensive, but without there being any revolutionary changes with each new release. Consumers therefore prefer to pay less and also reduce the environmental footprint involved in producing a new smartphone. Reconditioning also involves IT products, such as laptops and household appliances. It is also generating new forms of employment and relocating industry in deserted areas. 

 

How about ethical values in food e-Commerce? 

According to French sociologist Éric Birlouez, ethical values related to food are based on five pillars2: 

  • Body ethics, or how to choose food that does not alter our health and contributes to our well-being;  
  • Animal ethics, or how to treat livestock humanely and limit their environmental footprint with responsible farming practices; 
  • Nature ethics, or how to eat more organic and local food with a view to sustainable development and reducing packaging; 
  • Solidarity ethics, or how to make sure that farmers earn a decent living for their labour; 
  • Transparency ethics, or how to closely track the origins, ingredients and production methods of our food. 

These values do not all resonate equally and depend on consumers’ lifestyles, however they are progressing as more and more consumers are choosing to do their food shopping online. 

Organic food is accounting for a growing proportion of shopping baskets (with sales in France reaching almost 10 bn euros in 2018). Internet has become the fifth largest distribution channel for organic food, following mass retail, specialised shops, direct sales and artisanal sellers. Major retail players are also getting in on the action: Amazon acquired the organic chain store Whole Food in 2017, and Greenwez, France’s number one organic food website, was acquired by the supermarket Carrefour in 2016.
It is not only the big players, however: the number of organic and fair-trade food websites has grown rapidly in recent years. With producers selling online, either via their own websites or specialised marketplaces (such as Pourdebon.com), consumers are able to access products that meet the criteria of the above-mentioned five pillars.  

 

But packaging and delivery have a huge carbon footprint, don’t they? 

After consuming online in accordance with their ethical values, consumers often risk compromising their efforts due to packaging and delivery. The e-Commerce boom has generated a delivery boom and, as a result, fast growth of the carbon footprint related to packaging and transport: 

  • According to Fevad (Federation of e-commerce and Distance Selling), 505 million packages were sent in France in 20173, and 32% of plastic packaging waste ends up in natural environments. 
  • It is estimated that in Paris, one out of five vehicles is transporting packages to be delivered. Goods transport could represent as much as 25% of urban CO2 emissions. 

55% of people in France say that they are concerned about plastic packaging4, and some of them are even prepared to pay a bit more in order to use environmentally responsible packaging. In order to stand out from the competition, e-Commerce websites are moving towards environmentally responsible packaging. For example, Zalando has recently committed itself to completely replacing its packaging materials with environmentally friendly and 100 % recycled materials between now and the end of 2020.  

There are many solutions available: packaging made with paper or cardboard (85% of these are recycled in Europe5), or even with recycled packaging; packaging optimised to match the product’s dimensions as closely as possible; intelligent and reusable packaging. The Nantes-based startup Living Packets has developed such a type of packaging called “The box”. Cdiscount has tested the packaging with a panel of customers in Bordeaux, in real conditions, as have Orange and Chronopost. 

  (video in French) 

 

Similarly, the Finnish company Repack is offering packaging that can be reused 20 times, by returning packages empty to a postbox, in exchange for which customers receive a voucher that can be used at a partner. Between 2017 and 2018, 50,000 of these packages were used by online shops in more than 10 European countries. 

Very aggressive marketing concerning rapid home deliveries in less than 24 hours gives the impression that buyers want their products as fast as possible, regardless of the methods used. However, 73% of people in France say they would be prepared to wait longer for their order if it is delivered using an environmentally responsible delivery method6. In order to attenuate their carbon footprint, websites are increasingly promoting environmentally responsible delivery methods, or delivery to a pick-up point, which reduces unnecessary trips if the recipient is not at home at the time of delivery. Startups are emerging in the area of clean deliveries over the last mile using 100% electric vehicles, including bikes, cargo bikes and vans. 

Websites are also appearing that enable consumers to compensate greenhouse gases generated by the delivery of their orders by paying a sum to projects certified as environmentally responsible. One of these is Etsy, an American marketplace, which in 2019 decided to purchase carbon compensation credit in order to manage the environmental footprint of sellers who deliver articles presented on its website. This type of indicator, which presents the carbon footprints of different delivery methods, can have a real influence on e-consumers, who may be more inclined to wait or pay a little bit more in order to increase their “ethical credit”. 

Ethics are clearly a significant factor to be taken into account and will be influencing our consumption modes over the coming years. We are only at the beginning, but consumers’ collective consciousness in relation to the social and environmental impacts of their purchases via e-commerce is constantly growing. Companies are beginning to realise that they must base their businesses on these values, at the risk of losing the trust of a section of their consumers, and this trend will grow as the younger generation produces tomorrow’s business leaders. 

Analytics and a data-driven approach: improve your understanding and actions to make better strategic decisions!

All, or almost all interactions can be tracked, deciphered and analysed. However, in the digital ecosystem, I often notice that data gathered using the various analysis tools are poorly used because they are poorly interpreted. And yet, a good understanding of this data will improve strategic and budget decisions within your business model!

The user experience has become an essential factor in the current digital ecosystem. When navigating a website, customers not only want it to meet their expectations in terms of production selections, but above all in terms of experience!
This means that you need to put a lot of effort into analysis and interpretation, so collecting data on consumers’ purchasing journeys on your website is of prime importance. And you also need to be able to decipher the behaviours of current and prospective customers and measure their user experience from a qualitative point of view!

 

What you need to analyse and how to analyse it

There are four key aspects to take into account:

  • Acquisition (how did the user arrive at your website): in addition to the channels used, where exactly are your visitors coming from?
  • Engagement (how does the user respond to your website): which pages are attracting visits?
  • Conversion (what encouraged the user to make the purchase): which elements or factors (Attribution) come into play in the conversion funnel?
  • Loyalty (what made the user return to your website): which products or content are keeping your visitors or customers coming back?

Google has created a user experience (UX) measurement model named ‘HEART’ (Happiness, Engagement, Adoption, Retention, Task success). These essential indicators provide a framework to analyse user experience. Choosing which performance indicators to monitor and which tools to deploy on the website is essential in order to understand your customers’ behaviours. However, collecting data will get you nowhere if you are unable to draw lessons from them and make the right decisions!

There are several analysis methods in Digital Analytics.

The four main types are behavioural analysis, attitudinal analysis, competition analysis and social analysis:

Analytics data driven1

Above:

Slide 1: Audience report from Google Analytics (in French)

Slide 2: Net Promotor Score for an airline (in French)

Slide 3: Competitive ecosystem (in French)

Slide 4: Social media (in French)

 

 

Define KPIs that make sense and interpret them

There are many analytics tools out there: Adobe Analytics, AT Internet, IBM Digital Analytics… Google Analytics is the world’s most popular, with an estimated market share of more than 85%. They are essential for any company that manages an online business, making it possible to better understand the behaviours of visitors and how they respond to your website.

However, data alone is not enough! Graphical representations (data visualization or dataviz) ensure that you intelligently interpret your data. They make it possible to analyse and visualise (through the representation of raw data) large amounts of data. There are several dataviz solutions available, such as Google Data Studio, Holistics, Qlik Sense, Microsoft Power BI and Salesforce Einstein.

Analytics data driven2.png

Example of a dataviz solution interface

We seek ways to improve our website when we perceive its limitations. It is up to you to define your actions according to the aspects you have analysed, whether it is purchasing frequency, transformation rate, bounce rate, product sharing or a newsletter subscription rate.

Take the example of a form. We can question the design of a page or form when a user interrupts their navigation at a specific point.
Most websites have pages that are longer than the size of our screens and a single person will now use various types of screen (laptop, desktop, tablet, smartphone, etc.) Users therefore have to scroll down to view all of the content and information provided on a page or form.

Analytics data driven3

(Contact form – in French)

It is essential to see how far down the page visitors scroll, particularly if they are browsing a product page or form that contains important information.

 

Why use scroll tracking-based objectives?

Scroll depth

By creating an objective based on scroll tracking, you can monitor how many visitors view the full page. Scroll depth is useful if you are running a blog, for example, and you want visitors to read your articles (particularly if there is a CTA (call-to-action) button at the bottom of the article).

However, it is impossible to create a funnel visualization. You can always create several events (in Google Analytics) to track scrolling, with a specific depth for each event (for example 30%, 60% and 90% of the page). In this way, it is possible to create a funnel-shaped representation of visitor loss on each page. In the case of a form, you will be able to identify at which point, in terms of the fields or information requests, visitors leave the page.

 

(Re)define content and structure

In terms of SEO, scroll tracking can help you develop your content. It would be reasonable to assume that the content your users see last, before leaving a page, is the most interesting content on your website. By observing the most important events in Google Analytics, you will be able to easily identify the destination pages that most attract your visitors.

When a landing page generates traffic, one possible interpretation is that it is popular! However, it may not be effective in terms of engaging your visitors. By determining the scroll depth of your visitors on a given destination page, you can identify which information visitors want to see and adjust your content accordingly. You can also determine which content is the most attractive and works best in terms of general visitor engagement. You can then restructure or rewrite the content so that it contains more useful information.

For example, some blog articles can contain one or two paragraphs that are particularly interesting for your customers, but most of them leave your website after reading them. In this case, you can try changing the structure or content of the message itself, or write another one with more detailed information. Tracking scroll depth also lets you know if a destination page, or any other page including a call-to-action, contains anything that could be a distraction. If you notice that people leave a page having viewed only 50% of it, you can review this part of the page to identify potential issues.

 

Conversion or discovery?

In another example, suppose your website is recording a significant number of visits via the “social media” channel. However, these visits are brief and few pages are consulted. What can we deduce from this?

Is the channel inappropriate for your target or are the visits not sufficiently qualified?

However, in this case, a rational explication could be that we are dealing with a “discovery”, rather than a “conversion”, channel: users are discovering your brand, your products and your online presence thanks to social networks, but they will not convert until later, during a second or third visit.

You can verify this by consulting the Google Analytics reports in the following section: Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels

Analytics data driven4.png.jpg

(Example in French below with 221 organic conversions)

 

Generally speaking, with the creation of an Attribution model project in Google Analytics, you can identify the relevance of different marketing channels and optimise media budgets according to the importance of each channel in the conversion process.

In this example, it is the creation of an Attribution project in Google Analytics. Bear in mind that there are two types of model: predefined and algorithmic.

Analytics data driven5

 

You can visualise the various stages (journeys) leading up to conversion.

(Below: Touchpoints before conversion/Conversions/turnover – table in French)

Analytics data driven6

Analytics data driven7

(Above: 4 types of conversion selected: SEO, Other, Direct, Comparative – table in French)

 

The list of analyses and their interpretations is long, and this article reflects only a tiny part of the possibilities open to advertisers when it comes to taking important decisions for their growth, both on and offline.

Today, we can gather and analyse data from various channels and devices: computers, tablets, smartphones, televisions, screens in stores, websites, interactive terminals, etc. We are able to analyse the impact of TV campaigns on in-store footfall (Holimetrix), and make footfall and audience predictions (Kameleoon, IBM Watson, etc.).

We can no longer content ourselves with reading dashboards without knowing what they really mean and the lessons to be drawn from them. When faced with countless sources of solutions and channels, it is essential to understand first before acting!

 

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Definitions

Data-Driven, or Data-Driven Marketing, is an approach that involves taking strategic decisions on the basis of data analysis and interpretation. The Data-Driven approach makes it possible to examine and organise data in order to better understand your consumers and customers.

Analysis (Analytics) is the discovery, interpretation and communication of significant models within data. … Particularly useful in regions where there is a rich source of recorded information, analysis (Analytics) is based on the simultaneous application of statistics, computer programming and operational research in order to quantify performance.