5 ways for your online store to ride the wave of coronavirus

Piranha Designs - Friday, April 03, 2020

No kind of ecommerce business, whatever its sector, can pretend that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is a remotely good thing.

At the time of typing, the virus had already officially infected almost three quarters of a million people around the world, and killed tens of thousands. This is without even accounting for the dire economic and social consequences for those who may never contract the coronavirus.

Online stores, however, have also come into their own lately for many consumers who have found themselves under lockdown. Opportunities do therefore exist for many merchants to do their best during what may be a heightened demand for their services, while also assisting their customers at what is likely to be a trying time for great numbers of them.

Here are just some steps that your own ecommerce store could therefore take.

Re-jig your homepage and navigation

At this time of all times, it is likely that certain products in your store have become especially sought-after, while others might have been rendered almost irrelevant – at least for now.

It’s therefore a good moment to consider reorganising your store’s landing pages and browsing structures, to reflect what your customers are currently looking for. When doing so, you should make sure you especially strongly showcase products that can be quickly packed and delivered.

Keep a close eye on inventory

Customers’ needs for certain items may be particularly pressing right now, which heightens the importance of online stores closely managing their inventory.

It’s crucial to be honest with customers, and to minimise the frequency with which you are forced to cancel orders or deliver incomplete orders as a result of products being out of stock.

Make the most of ‘live chat’

We’ve previously blogged about what ‘live chat’ functionality can do for an ecommerce store. But this increasingly common feature has arguably come even more into its own during this pandemic.

Live chat, after all, makes it easier for e-tailers to handle simultaneous requests, as well as for customer service agents to take over with a particular enquiry where a colleague of theirs may have left off.

Nor can the availability of live chat be easily interrupted, unlike what the situation may be when your store needs to change its customer service email address, phone number or brick-and-mortar address.

Recommend alternative products

Is your store using the analytics that will enable you to monitor the products and pages that are especially popular? If so, this will help you to determine the parts of your site where it may be particularly important to recommend alternative options if the given item is out of stock.

Provide COVID-19-related FAQs

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) pages are routinely a godsend for both merchants and customers. But such a section can be even more useful now, for communicating to your shoppers how your business is dealing with the impacts of COVID-19.

Such FAQs on your own site may address such questions as what the coronavirus means for product availability and fulfilment times, for example. You might also incorporate auto-responses to the most common queries into live chat and Facebook Messenger, even including links where these would further help.

Would you appreciate assistance with carrying out any of the above or other steps for your ecommerce store in 2020? Remember that the Piranha Designs team is available at the other end of the phone in Gibraltar, London or Edinburgh. Alternatively, you could always email us to arrange a free no-obligation discussion of your website design or digital marketing needs.

A few tips for nabbing those late, late Christmas shoppers

Piranha Designs - Monday, December 16, 2019

If you’re not exactly the kind of person who suffers from procrastination, or you’re simply in the habit of always finishing your Christmas gift-buying by the 1st of December, you might find it hard to get your head around how so many other shoppers leave it so late to make their purchases.

Nonetheless, the most important thing to recognise is that these shoppers definitely exist, which means they’re there to be captured by ecommerce stores like yours.

But with the last Saturday before Christmas falling on the 21st this year, you’ll have to act fast to optimise your site if it’s not completely geared to the preferences and needs of these late shoppers. So, here are just a few simple steps you can take to lure such procrastinators.

Offer express delivery

This might seem like some of the most obvious advice we could give. However, you may be surprised by how many online stores prioritise affordability with their delivery offering, to such an extent that the speed and reliability of this service suffers.

Sure, price won’t completely cease to be a priority for most late shoppers – but above all else, they’ll want to know that their order will get to them in time. So, a lot of them won’t mind heightened shipping costs, as long as they aren’t ridiculously inflated compared to those of rival stores.

Highlight gift guides and bestselling items

One reason why a given late shopper may have procrastinated in the first place, is a simple difficulty with choosing a gift. It might therefore only require a well-written guide to gift shopping, and a few highlights of ideal presents for certain categories of customer – dads, mums, brothers and so on – to give them that vital inspiration to go ahead and make a spontaneous purchase.

Including some obvious unfussy ‘stocking fillers’ in these guides – modest, lightweight items that can be delivered quickly and cheaply – and allowing for easy filtering by price will likely further convince those dithering potential customers of yours to just buy already.

Be razor-sharp with your replies to customers

Whether they get in touch with you via phone, email, social media or even by commenting on your YouTube videos, when these anxious late shoppers ask you a question, they probably won’t be able to afford you only getting back in touch with them in 12 or 24 hours’ time. Always responding within 20 minutes is much more the kind of timeframe you should be aiming for.

Streamline the checkout process

As Christmas Day nears, you’ve got more reason than ever to review your site’s checkout process afresh. This is the ideal time to turn off every single strictly unnecessary element, so that your already-rushed shoppers won’t be left feeling even more stressed by a frivolous pop-up or your store demanding that they register an account with you.

Yes, dealing with procrastinators can be frustrating. But it also represents a key business opportunity for your online store – not just for the festive season, but potentially for months and years’ worth of future purchases – if you make all of the right moves to convenience them.

As for the longer-term ambitions you have for the design of your ecommerce website, why not get in touch with the Piranha Designs team to discuss them in more detail? That way, we, too, could be looking forward to a fruitful long-term relationship that extends through many Christmases to come.

How to retain more of those festive-season customers once Christmas is over

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Of all of the seasons that could be declared a ‘time of plenty’ for e-tailers, the last few months of the calendar year are surely the most obvious candidate. It’s a time when customers are rushing to purchase goods from online stores that they may barely have any contact with at any other time of the year – so all will be well for your own ecommerce site, right?

Well, not necessarily. That’s because even if you do receive a great boost in your customer numbers over the festive period, if those shoppers then disappear for the rest of the year, you might be failing to capitalise on the opportunities the winter months present to keep hold of more of them.

Just look at the statistics

Various studies down the years have, after all, pointed to just modest improvements in customer retention potentially translating into significant increases in profit. One famous study from Bain & Company and Harvard Business School in 2000, for instance, found that upping customer retention by 5% could lead to profits going up by as much as 95%.

So, what steps could you take right now to bolster your own ecommerce store’s chances of keeping more of its festive-season customers coming back in January, February and beyond?

  • Actually measure your customer retention. Even if you do a great job of retaining a decent proportion of your festive-season shoppers long after their Christmas trees have been taken down, will you have any idea what things you did actually helped to bring about that increase? That’s why it’s well worth tracking your customer retention rate over time to identify trends – not just over the next few months, but for many more years to come.
  • Bring in a loyalty scheme. Even if you’re only just reading this in October, it’s not too late to introduce a loyalty programme that your Christmas shoppers will appreciate. Nor are these schemes just about giving your customers an added incentive to keep spending with you right through the year, as they can also serve as a useful means of capturing customer information and permission for marketing communications.
  • Send a personal note and offer. Presumably, if you’re reading this, you’re not a large and impersonal multinational – so why not make a virtue out of the fact that you’re a small business? Including a personal handwritten ‘thank you’ note in the package you send to each new customer will give another positive and heart-warming thing for the shopper to remember you by. That can be especially so if you throw in a discount voucher or the offer of free delivery for any future purchases they make from you.
  • Make the most of ecommerce subscriptions. Ecommerce subscriptions – otherwise known as ‘subscription boxes’ – can be great for boosting customer retention anyway, simply because they represent longer-term commitments from the customer than one-off purchases. But their suitability as Christmas gifts arguably further boosts their potential value and importance to your ecommerce store when you’re trying to capture more customers for the long run during the winter season.


It’s the little touches as much as the big ones that could particularly influence your store’s ability to keep hold of more of its customers for the months and years ahead. So, why not talk in more detail to the Piranha Designs team about what those touches could be?

Browse our range of website design and online marketing services today to get a sense of how we could transform your brand’s ecommerce effectiveness well into the 2020s, before calling or emailing us now at our Gibraltar, London or Edinburgh offices.

Is it finally time for your ecommerce business to start taking voice search seriously?

Piranha Designs - Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Whether you personally consider smart assistant devices such as Amazon Echo or Google Home to be the future of online communication or a mere gimmick, the mere fact that more and more of us are becoming owners of them should cause ecommerce store owners to sit up and take notice.

Indeed, it was reported just earlier this year that almost a quarter (22%) of UK households now had a voice-controlled digital home assistant device like those we mentioned above.

This is quite the jump on the 11% figure recorded in 2017 – and with 41% of households having indicated that they plan to own such a device in the next five years, the actual ownership percentage at present may already be a lot higher.

No less crucial, however, is how we are using these devices

As recently as August, it was reported that almost 60% of smart speaker owners in the UK had used their device to shop in the last month. However, nearly half – 45% – felt that they weren’t really getting the most out of their devices, which indicates just how much of a burgeoning opportunity voice ecommerce might well be for many online retailers.

Moreover, Google has predicted that half of all searches will be initiated by voice by next year. So, is now the time to start re-jigging your own ecommerce portal for the emerging era of voice-activated shopping, or is the hype around it still outpacing the reality?

There are very real complexities to shopping by voice

Unfortunately, if there’s any reason for you to not invest a huge amount of time and money into readying your site for voice-initiated shopping just yet, it’s the sheer awkwardness and difficulty of trying to search for and purchase products using voice alone, at least for now.

For one thing, even with simple goods such as T-shirts, there are just so many attributes and variables for shoppers to compare and choose from – think the likes of size, colour, style, fabric, price, brand and so on.

And, while artificial intelligence (AI) is certainly continuing to improve, it’s still got some way to go until shoppers can be assured of a concise and easy path for sorting through the various choices before them as far as product specifications are concerned.

Nonetheless, voice-based shopping is a field to keep an eye on

Even if the AI in today’s voice assistants isn’t quite up to the task just yet of conducting the sophisticated conversations that many customers will expect if they are to start making serious use of this method of online shopping, the seeds of such development have certainly been planted.

As a consequence, voice shopping is creeping up and up on many ecommerce store owners’ priority lists – and it should be doing the same on yours.

As for what you can do right now to boost the relevance and usefulness of your e-tail portal for the current preferences and needs of your customers and those that they are likely to have in 2020 and beyond, get in touch with the Piranha Designs team today for a more in-depth conversation.

You’re welcome to contact us at our Gibraltar, London or Edinburgh offices, and when you do, we’ll be pleased to advise you on the best steps to take with your ecommerce website design to achieve the results that you want.

How can a great user experience go hand in hand with great SEO?

Piranha Designs - Thursday, July 11, 2019

Are you constantly doing seemingly ‘all of the right things’ with the optimisation of your website for the search engines, only to find the high rankings you’ve worked so hard to achieve aren’t even bringing you a noticeable uplift in sales and loyal customers... that is, if your rankings are even climbing at all?

If so, your big problem may be that you’ve overlooked the crucial connection between user experience – or ‘UX’, as it’s frequently referred to in web design and development circles – and SEO.

You see, the two things have a very intimate relationship. Just imagine having two equally renowned high-street stores to choose from for a particular product, with the item being priced the same in both places... except that at one store, the staff are so much nicer, more responsive to your queries and more informative when answering your questions.

In theory, you might still buy the product at the ‘other’ store... but it’s the one that provides an especially great experience that you are especially likely to purchase the item from.

So, how does effect manifest for ecommerce stores?

Let’s continue with the offline analogy for a bit. You go to said brilliant store, you buy the product, you’re satisfied and you go back to that store again and again in the future, consistently benefitting from a brilliant service. You tell your friends and relatives how good this store is, and the store gains such a reputation that it is featured prominently in local directories, newspapers and magazines.

Well, there’s a similar thing going on for online stores that provide a superb user experience.

These sites don’t suffer from such high ‘bounce rates’ – the online store equivalent of someone heading into a shop, and then going straight back out again – while the more pleasurable browsing and buying experience for visitors lends itself to heightened ratings, referrals and inbound links.

A few quick ways to bolster your UX – and with it, your SEO

OK, so you might turn to Piranha Designs to undertake more in-depth optimisation of your site’s user experience – but here are a few quick tips to give you some inspiration and ideas. You might want to try...

  • Ensuring your site’s internal links are to pages that are genuinely relevant and useful for shoppers – there’s little point in linking to the page you’re already on, for example
  • Optimising for faster page loading times, in light of the Google study that showed conversions fell by 12% for every second of load time
  • Giving customers an equally pleasurable experience on mobile and desktop, in recognition of the fact that more than half of Google’s global search results are served from its mobile-first index
  • Going into greater depth with your content. Be careful here – length alone won’t translate into higher rankings, but content that is genuinely more informative and useful for visitors than what your rivals are serving up might well do
  • Targeting keyword themes and words that fit in well with what you’re offering to the customer, instead of being intended purely to drive search volume

Get in touch today with the Piranha Designs team at our Gibraltar, Edinburgh or London offices, and we’d be delighted to talk to you about our website design and SEO services that will help you to maximise your site’s user experience and with it, your brand’s online fortunes.

What could a ‘live chat’ feature do for your ecommerce store?

Piranha Designs - Monday, April 08, 2019

‘Live chat’ functionality has become an increasingly familiar element among the wealth of customer support options offered by ecommerce sites, alongside the likes of social media links, telephone numbers and email addresses.

However, the benefits of incorporating such a feature into your brand’s own online store could be wider-ranging than you initially expect. Below are just a few examples of what we mean.

Customers are comfortable using it

Anything that could help to cultivate a good relationship with a customer from the earliest stages has to be a good thing for your ecommerce store, and there is both formal and more anecdotal evidence to suggest that customers are comfortable with using live chat functionality on a website.

One study last year, for instance, found that 43% of customers have previously used live chat. This shouldn’t be too surprising, given that it’s much like the chat programs, online messengers and text messaging that many of your customers will already be accustomed to using in their personal lives.

It’s quick to use

As they say, time is money. It’s therefore helpful for both the customer and the ecommerce business if visitors can receive swift responses to their queries – whether about the given company’s products, services, delivery costs or something else altogether.

As soon as a visitor initiates a chat using such software, a customer service representative on your business’s side can be notified of this straight away and provide an immediate answer.

This could be especially important if the customer’s query concerns an issue that is preventing them from completing a purchase. In such circumstances, your ecommerce store’s live chat feature could make the difference between a clinched sale and a lost sale.

It helps to replicate the ‘high street’ shopping experience

Sure, your customer service representative can’t pick up a product and present it to the customer for them to touch. If the customer has any questions about a product, though, they can ask them... and perhaps also any secondary questions springing from the answers given to the first ones.

In the process, you will be able to answer questions in relation to such specific matters as product selection and availability, and even any related products that you may recommend to the customer, in light of their specific requirements.

A live chat feature, then, can help to restore some of the ‘humanity’ to the shopping experience that may otherwise seem at risk of being lost when one switches from offline to online retail.

The above aren’t the entirety of the benefits that you could see from embedding a live chat feature into your site, with others including the opportunity to gather invaluable data about your customers, as well as the cost savings that it can offer over other forms of customer service.

Could live chat functionality be central to the customer service offered by your own next ecommerce site? Don’t hesitate to contact our experts in custom website solutions for a more in-depth chat about the requirements that you have for your firm’s online presence.

So you’ve got a long page... how can you encourage users to scroll down it?

Piranha Designs - Thursday, July 26, 2018

While split tests have often shown that it’s better to make a page long than short, there’s one potential downside: you won’t feel the benefit if the reader isn’t aware that the page is long.

You won’t want to put a lot of hard work into creating the perfect long page, only for the visitor to not realise that they can scroll down further, or even wish to scroll down.

Defining the ‘fold’

You might well have come across the term ‘above the fold’ quite a bit when researching all things web design. It refers to the part of the page that a user can see without scrolling.

However, the fold isn’t always in the same place for different users. Instead, its position can be impacted by such factors as the user’s screen resolution, the number of bars – such as toolbars – that they have open in their browser, and whether they have zoomed in on the page.

That’s before you consider the even greater complexity brought to the issue by the ever-increasing variety of mobile and tablet web browsers these days.

But there are ways to get your users to scroll

Given such factors as the variability of the position of the fold, it’s fair to say there’s no single, universal solution to the issue of how you can encourage visitors to your long pages to scroll down.

There are, though, proven strategies that you can try. You could incorporate a distinctive background into the top, left and right-hand corners of your page, for example, so that it’s obvious to the reader when they still need to scroll down further to reach the bottom.

Alternatively, you could be a little less subtle, by actually asking the reader to scroll down in your sales copy – explicitly saying “Please scroll down for...” or words to that effect. Remember that users are more likely to follow such an instruction if they are given a clear incentive to do so – for example, if you have a discount code or a download link for a useful PDF to give to them.

You might even go as far as incorporating a ‘please scroll’ graphic just above the fold. You could simply place it where most of your visitors’ folds lie, or add it to a freestanding object attached to the bottom of the browser window. The latter tactic will ensure the graphic is always seen at the bottom of the reader’s screen, regardless of their screen resolution.

Why not talk to us about website design?

Long pages can certainly deliver great results for your organisation, but it’s vital to ensure your readers are quickly made aware of their length and are encouraged to scroll down them.

If you would appreciate the highest-quality bespoke web design services, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Piranha Designs team, so that we can discuss with you the best route forward.

A few steps you can take to make your site more accessible

Piranha Designs - Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Accessibility can be a tricky subject for many online business owners to get to grips with, what with all of the complexity inherent in how screen readers and voice command applications work.

The good news, though, is that you don’t necessarily need an in-depth appreciation of accessibility principles to tweak your site to be usable by as broad an audience as possible. In fact, the following steps can go a long way towards accomplishing that.

Make your buttons standard HTML

Buttons are vital for triggering actions on your site. Such actions may include sending messages, saving progress and opening panels, among other things, but it’s important to remember that it is buttons that make such actions possible.

It’s therefore also vital that the broadest range of visitors to your site can make use of its buttons. That’s why you should ensure your buttons are always standard HTML buttons. These are the buttons that are natively usable from the keyboard, with the browser and operating system already knowing what to do with such a button element.

Ensure your site’s links are only ever links

Links serve a specific purpose on your site, much like buttons do, although that purpose naturally differs: they take you somewhere. You can also use them natively from the keyboard – again, just like buttons.

Does that mean it’s a good idea to use a link to perform some of your site’s button-like actions? The short answer to that is “no”.

While a sighted user may not be able to differentiate between an actual HTML button and a link that merely resembles a button, the screen reader will tell its user exactly whether the element is a link or a button. The user may therefore expect the element to behave like a link, rather than a button, and if the response they get isn’t what they expected, this can make your site frustrating to use.

Provide labels for everything on the site

Take a look at one of the forms on your site – if there is one. Is there text next to the form fields, to make clear what each of those fields is for? Then, click on the text – by which we do mean the text, rather than the field itself. If your cursor automatically moves into the input field, you can be sure that the field is appropriately labelled.

An unlabelled form creates problems for a screen reader user, who won’t be able to tell what belongs in each field except by exploring the rest of the site for any other helpful text.

Even if you implement all of the above tips, you won’t necessarily have a perfectly accessible website – but such advice should nonetheless serve as useful inspiration for when you do come to design or alter your site specifically with accessibility issues in mind.

Why not ask the Piranha Designs team today about the custom web design solutions that we can provide for you, in accordance with your most demanding requirements?

Your prospective customers will be reassured by a well-sorted ‘About Us’ page

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, April 18, 2018

What’s the first thing that a visitor to your company website will want to know, besides the products or services that you offer? It’s who you are, of course.

By that, we don’t just mean your company name, the sector in which your business is active or even the name of the founder. What we mean, are all of the other things that will actually ease the anxieties and doubts of your potential customers.

What anxieties and doubts are your site visitors likely to have?

Let’s imagine that a person ends up on your site through Google, because you’re selling something that they’ve been looking for. The likelihood is that if you’re reading this, your firm isn’t Amazon or Coca-Cola, so the visitor in question may well have never heard of your brand.

So, it’s the basics that they will want to be reassured about. Is your site a trustworthy one, where they can complete a purchase by entering their credit card or other payment information and be sure that their order will be delivered in good time?

Can they also expect the items that they receive to work properly, and if there are any issues with the product, will you be responsive to their complaints and work hard to resolve their problem?

As much of a habit as online shopping has become for so many of us, the fact remains that online shoppers can’t pick up and feel the merchandise, or try on items of clothing. You will therefore need to do everything possible to quickly establish trust with your audience – and your site’s ‘About Us’ page can be an invaluable tool for this.

A well-crafted page will do much to give you credibility

Given how unlikely it is that the average scammer will go as far as building an intricate ‘About Us’ section complete with detail on company values and original photos, it’s fair to say that original and unique content will go a long way to establishing a sense of reputability among your site visitors.

That might manifest in such details as why and when you started your company, as well as what motivates you to provide the products or services that you do through your site. It might also mean filling the visitor in on your staff, including their full names and own interests.

There’s so much else that you can do beyond this. You could describe exactly how the products or services that you offer are made, or how you manage to keep your prices competitive without compromising quality. What about ‘behind the scenes’ of your company, such as your work culture? You might also want to include details on media coverage that your brand has received.

In summary, when you get your site’s ‘About Us’ page right, it can be such a brilliant part of your site for showcasing and enhancing your company’s identity. It’s all about communicating what makes your brand unique, interesting and relevant, so that your prospective shoppers’ nerves will be calmed and they will feel confident to order products or services from you.

Could Piranha Designs be your crucial partners this year in helping you to get your website to the next level of success? We offer a broad range of up-to-the-minute and proven web design and other services, and would be delighted to hear from you.

The best subjects for your company’s blogs in March

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Building an enduring relationship with your customers through content marketing depends on the creation of content that they find genuinely interesting and useful. So when your company’s writers are composing blog posts for the third month of the year, what subjects should they cover?

Here are a few ideas that could help to cultivate a connection between your store and its target customers that leads to sales.

Success stories

March is a month of optimism – the time of year when the arrival of spring becomes fully apparent and many of your blog’s readers will be looking to put the dreariness of the winter months behind them.

It’s therefore a fine time to publish blog articles outlining success stories related to the industry that your company serves. If you run a health food store, for instance, you may tell your readers about those who have felt reinvigorated by certain products bought from your store.

Essential spring tasks

Spring has long been associated with cleaning and gardening. There are certainly many tasks that your target customers are likely to need to get on with at this time of year, and they’re sure to appreciate informed guidance as to how they can do the best possible job.

Those running a holiday booking site, for example, may wish to use the opportunity that March presents to urge any of their customers still contemplating a summer holiday to book now before their preferred flights and hotels become unavailable for their chosen dates.

Outdoor activities

The brightening days and creeping temperatures of the mid-spring lend themselves well to blog content about projects in the garden, weekend getaways or pretty much anything else embracing the great outdoors.

So, think carefully about what blog posts could motivate your customers to get outside and enjoy the open air. This may mean an online store dedicated to sports supplements suggesting to its blog readers the outdoor workouts that may best suit their get-fit aims this year.

Nutrition ideas

Linked to the aforementioned point, many of your blog readers will be interested to know how they can support their efforts to achieve a ‘beach-ready body’ (if they aspire to such a thing) with the most appropriate nutrition.

Perhaps you could advise your readers on how their kids could eat better during the month, provide ideas for healthy lunchtime meals at work, or indicate what foods could be invaluable when they next go backpacking?

Remember that we offer onsite and offsite blog content writing as part of our Platinum search engine optimisation (SEO) and marketing package here at Piranha Designs, alongside such other key services as keyword research and social set-up. Why not get in touch with us at our Gibraltar, London or Edinburgh offices to learn how our expertise in these areas could benefit your brand?


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