Roger Swannell

Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 96)

Charities need to apply an ecommerce mentality

Ecommerce is the ‘digital and physical exchange of value between an organisation and an individual’. The customer gives the organisation something they value (money) in return for for something the customer values (goods (although it isn’t really the  goods that hold the value it’s the emotional reward that comes with them)).

When a charity asks for a donation without providing any value in return they force the individual to derive their own value. This reliance on the individual to maintain the one-way relationship leads eventually to reduced loyalty as the individual realises that they don’t need a particular charity to get that emotional reward and that any good cause will do.

Traditionally, charities have considered and referred to the individuals they interact with as ‘supporters’, which implies a one-way process of the individual supporting the charity. Increasingly, there is a shift to considering these individuals as ‘customers’, which conveys the idea that there needs to be a value exchange between the organisation and the individual in order to develop the relationship and maintain loyalty. It’s a good shift.

How Hallmark UK does ecommerce for cards

Cards are a difficult thing to sell online. The average basket value is likely to be very low and customer expect low delivery costs and fast delivery, not only because that’s what most customer expect from online retailers but also because people only buy cards when they need them. Very few people buy cards in plenty of time, more people and more likely to think about buying cards just a few days before they need it. All of these things make selling cards online a challenge.

Hallmark UK website

Back in 2014, if you visited the Hallmark UK website you could buy all kinds of cards and gifts.
Hallmark Website 2015


Since 2015, and if you visit today in 2017, the Shop page is just a big link to Amazon.

Hallmark UK Website


The website banner links to a Greetings Card Shop page on

Hallmark Amazon

The page on Amazon is called ‘Greeting Card Shop’, so Hallmark doesn’t even link to it’s brand page on Amazon, which suggests that perhaps they have found it more profitable to supply Amazon with greetings cards rather than sell them themselves.

If a retailer like Hallmark finds supplying Amazon more profitable than running their own ecommerce site, then it lends more weight to the opinion that Amazon is taking over ecommerce.

Ecommerce pricing: ending with .99 or .00? 

The story goes that back in the days when everyone paid cash shop keepers would price all of their products with 99p on the end. They did this knowing that most customers would pay with a higher amount and expect their 1p change. This meant that shop staff would have to ring up the sale on the shops till in order to get that 1p change for the customer making the transaction recordable on the till roll and reducing stealing from staff pocketing the money the customer paid.

However true or not this old story is, it’s interesting to think about how products are priced on websites; whether prices ending in 99p have any psychological effect on customers, and whether prices ending in 00 offer a better customer experience.

Pricing products with 99p on the end can have the effect of making customers think they are getting a better deal as it keeps a product below certain thresholds. 19.99 seems a lot less than 20.00. This comes from the denominations of our notes and even though it is only 1p different, pricing something at 20.01 would seem disportionately higher than being below that threshold.

Pricing products with .00 seems like it would be better for customers as it would make adding up their order total easier. But of course the basket page on the site does this for them, so are there any advantages to pricing with .00? It could reduce the number of characters in a price as if a product is 39.00 then 39 might be just as good, but John Lewis prices most of its products with .00 on the end. I wonder if it’s something they’ve tested.

What about pricing ending in 47p or 28p or any other number? Pricing on marketplaces like Ebay and Amazon often uses other numbers as it can affect the ranking of the product and make or break a sale for price sensitive customers. But retailers websites don’t do this. More often than not their pricing reflects the pricing in store which usually ends in .99 or .00.

Ecommerce Product Development: Beware of robbing Peter to pay Paul

So, you have a product that is performing well, and following customer feedback you think you can make some changes and develop a new improved product.

The new improved version is a bit more complex so it costs a bit more to produce but customers like it and it starts to out-perform the original product. Overall, sales are up, but of course they are now spread over two products. That’s twice the storage costs, twice the merchandising time, etc.

Customer feedback suggests further improvements and so version three of the product gets developed with increased complexity and consequently reduced margin. Again, sales increase a bit as the product better meets customer needs but margin and costs make the new products less profitable than the original.

Are you crazy busy? 

Why do we use words associated with mental illness to describe how busy we are?

“It’s been a crazy day”, “His calendar is bonkers”, “I’m insanely busy next week”.

Is it because on some level we all recognise that being too busy leads to stress and poor mental health?


Copyright © 2017 Roger Swannell

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