Ecommerce Best Practices for the Telco Industry


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Selling wireless and media products online is a complex challenge which often results in a frustrating user experience and falls short of the expectations of seasoned online shoppers. For those telcos who have mastered selling online, the rewards are high—significant reductions in call center operation costs and increased ARPU. In this webinar we will discuss best and worst practices of the top global telco brands and their online stores.

Featuring: Elastic Path's Product Manager Peter Sheldon

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  • - Looked at 3 channels- TV / Cable quadplay operators will be the focus of a future webinar- Looked approx 20 different sites across US, Canada & UK when researching this webinar- Did not look at business channels (SMB, Enterprise, Government). Subject for a future webinar.
  • As I researched this webinar I found 6 common consumers goals across the sites researched. Vodaphone in the UK represented a good example of a homepage that easily allowed the consumer to indentify their objective. Existing customers want to purchase accessories for their mobiles Customers want to shop for all new phones / contracts Existing customers want to explore available phone and plan upgrades Existing customer want to modify their existing plans, add features (minutes, txt bundles etc). Although not a focus point of the page, most sites allow this via a separate ‘customer portal’ View network coverage. Customers in rural areas want to ensure check their network coverage before considering a carrier. Many operators and resellers are selling complimentary services such as mobile broadband or home phone services.
  • Many sites (AT&T, prevent basic browsing of the catalog without providing location information (either state / province or zip code) Use GEO location services to guess customers location (they can always confirm it later during the checkout process). Removes the barrier to entry. Will be 98% accurate
  • Zip codeColorBrandsCarriersStylesReviewsService Type / Condition / FreePriceCamera OptionsMobile Features
  • - Best buy has intuitive compare feature, with thumbnails to show which phones have been selected for comparison- Open comparisons in hovering light box, not a new window. Do not navigate away from results page.
  • Consider filters for contract phones, to show different pricing for different contract periods. Make the contract length clear to the shopper Show the lowest ‘from’ pricing if the phone price depends on the chosen contract or carrier Allow the shopper to compare the same phone without contact and on pay as you go
  • Alternative views (include open and closed views for flip phones) - Amazon 360 spinner – Verizon Video – Sprint Tutorials – Sprint Phone sim – Sony Ericsson Size comparison – various What’s in the box – Amazon Avail colors – AT&T Avail Networks – Carphone W Available Apps - Sprint
  • Features – Specs – Reviews – SprintUGC – Virgin USAAccessories – AT&TCross sells – AT&TUser Guide – SprintEst Delivery Date - Three
  • Almost all the wireless providers use guided selling to ‘guide’ the shopper through the complex process of choosing a handset, plan, features and accessories. Commonly across most of the sites we looked at for this webinar, entry to the guided selling process occurs either from the handset or plan.Popups (or lightboxes) guide the shopper from choosing their phone to their plan or vice versa.
  • Alternatively, both the phone and plan are added in a single step, with the user being forced to pick their plan on the phone details page. Reduces the number of add-to cart steps. Makes the phone product details far more complex, and less real estate for phone specs & features.A/B split test both methods and find out what works for your site.
  • All of the sites I looked at have a way for the consumer to add plan features and phone accessories to their cart. Many of the sites use the same guided selling popup to do this. In the case of AT&T the plan feature and phone accessories step are options (not the add to cart button is enabled) allowing the shopper to skip these steps and proceed directly to the cartVerizon on the other hand make these steps mandatory (although you don’t need to pick anything). This makes the process of getting to the cart harder (4 steps instead of 2).
  • When shopping for a plan first, I found a lack of navigational (search and filtering) tools across almost all the sites I reviewed. The number of plans offered although less than the # of phones, still warrants providing navigational tools.Carphone warehouse were one of the few sites that provided a way of filter plan results by plan type, network, contract length, types of calls, usage etc.
  • Print your cart summary & emailShow the right SKU thumbnailAllow saved cartsClearly show what is due now and what is due later (montly)Disable the checkout process until the minimum required items are added (phone and a plan)
  • The sites whom made the steps of adding plan features and phone accessories to the cart optional, did a good job of offering up sells in the shopping cart. Three showed an offer fro their mobile internet USB modem AT&T have a 1-click up sell for phone insurance Tesco have a 1-click up sell for accessories related to the phone in the cart.
  • The checkout experience varied considerably across the sites I looked at. Unfortunately due to the nature of mobile phone contracts, the experience is considerable more complex than for standard retail ecommerce sites.There are some things you can do to make the process easier four customers.- Consider using address lookup tools to speed address entry forms (heavily used in the UK market)- Consider allowing alternative payment options (paypal, bill me later etc) for pay as you go phones or the phone portion of contract phones. – Virign USA- Show your unique value prop, accepted payment methods and trusted security marks throughout the checkout process.- Try and use a single page checkout. This sets expectations for the customer on the complexity of the process, without surprise steps later and lets the customer collect all the required details in one go (DL #, SSN, Bank details, CC etc)
  • Most of the sites we looked at allow the customer to keep their existing number when taking out a new contract, however in most cases this step occurred during the checkout process. T-Mobile USA allow their customer to check if they can port their existing number directly from the homepage. This is a great confidence builder allowing customer to check this critical step, before the checkout process.
  • -Wireless products are complicated to buy and as such operators and resellers experience some of the lowest online conversion rates in the ecommerce industry.-Put your customer care contact numbers clearly visbile in the header of your store to ensure customers can complete their purchase via your call center should they experience difficulties or require further information whilst shopping online.- We strongly recommend using live chat tools. Both consumer initiated like the Sprint offer, but also retailer initiated chat. Using rules you can reach out to your customers when they are experiencing difficulties. In this screen shot I spent more a minute seconds researching plans on sprints site, so they reached out to me with a targeted offer for help. Online chat is more efficient and cost effective than direct calls and can provide online assistance for customers experiencing problems reaching phones and plans or with problems purchasing.
  • Make sure you provide your unique value proposition across you site. Three in the UK The Apple store
  • Although most of the operator have branded physical outlet stores and many thousands of independent resellers, they lack any multi channel tools.Best buy, in contrast allow their online customers to pickup their ‘pay as you go’ phones from their retail outlets, with real time stock inventory checks.Only available for pay as you go (non contract) phones.No reason why contract phones cannot be ‘picked up in store’ also. No reason why the operators do not offer this functionality. Great for shoppers who want their phone the same day, want to avoid shipping costs, or are not at home to sign for the delivery.
  • Phone finder is key (most sites have horrible, manufacturer / model drop down lists). Verizon, Bestbuy & Telus have nice visual phone finder. Use images (helps confirm the right phone model) Consider allowing IMEI codes to find your phone (like carphone warehouse does for trade-ins) Consider ‘this is my phone’ feature. Allows quick identification of compatible accessories, apps, upgrade offers etc for returning customers. Will use cookies Filter accessories out by type (handsfree cases batteries, chargers etc) Virgin Mobile America has special accessory pricing for existing customers (requires login) Some sites (T Mobile UK, Orange UK have separate accessories store. BAD)
  • Most of the wireless operators have intuitive tools to allow the customer to check the coverage of their network. This is important for customers in rural areas to check that the network will work in their local area or that 3G is available.I noticed the resellers lack these tools. It would be great for the resellers to provide overlay maps that show each of the operators coverage in a given area, thus allowing a network agnostic customer to choose the network with the best coverage for them.
  • Most of the sites I looked at, offered a poor experience for upgrade customers inside their store. At worst a ‘Log in’ or ‘my account’ link takes existing customers to a separate portal to fulfill their upgrade needs. Best Buy have a great ‘Upgrade Checker’ that allows customers to check if they are eligible for an upgrade by entering their phone #, zip code and SSN.Sprint did a good job of allowing customers to perform their phone upgrade within the existing store, with a clear navigation flow for customers to identify them self themselves as upgrade customers before adding to the cart. Once logged in Sprint customers see the upgrade pricing rather than the standard retail pricing for the phones and plans.
  • Sites like 02 have a completely separate upgrade workflow / store from the new customer acquisition channel. Enter your mobile number and get txt message with entry code to upgrade tool. The experience for the upgrade is totally different from the experience for buying a new phone / contract.Some operators like Orange in the UK, pass the consumer back and forth from the store to the upgrade site to the store, when performing an upgrade.
  • - Carphone warehouse allow users to register their contract renewal date online. The site will automatically start sending them upgrade offers and deals when their contract expired and they are eligible for an upgrade.- Carphone warehouse also has a innovative trade-in feature, allowing me to find out how much I will get for a trade in for my existing phone. This feature is so easy to use, it tells me how to get my IMEI number. I enter it, and it tells me how much I will get for my phone. This is so much easier than having to try and sell my old handset on craiglists or ebay.
  • - Some carrier provide offers and add-on feature packs via txt message, but have to call to enable feature (traverse the IVR minefield and inevitably wait to speak to an operator.) Many carriers now have embedded apps to view voice, text and data usage and view bills. Iphone apps both from the carriers and 3rd parties AT&T have the ability to add and remove feature on the fly directly from the iPhone app. This is great if you have used all your inclusive minutes / data / txt and need to buy more. We see huge opportunity in allowing consumers to upgrade their plans and feature packages directly from apps on their smart phones. This need not be isolated to the iPhone.
  • All the Telco sites I looked at for this research had serious performance problems (page load times). Follow our next webinar to find out what impact this is having on your online revenues and customer experience.
  • We have time for a few questions, please use the questions section on the Goto-Webinar panel.Also we have a short poll for you to complete that will help us prioritize the next telco related webinar.
  • Ecommerce Best Practices for the Telco Industry

    1. 1. Ecommerce best practices for the Telco industry<br />Presented by Elastic Path Product Manager Peter Sheldon<br />Listen to audio using your computer’s microphone & speakers (VoIP) or dial in:<br />United Kingdom: +44 (0) 161 660 8220<br />United States: +1 516 453 0014<br />Access Code: 466-004-116<br />
    2. 2. Elastic Path Software<br />Leading enterprise ecommerce platform provider<br />For the easiest and most cost-effective way to deliver custom ecommerce solutions<br />#1 subscribed ecommerce blog<br />Over 200 global clients rely on Elastic Path<br />
    3. 3. Agenda<br /> Site navigation<br /> Phone and plan discovery<br />Guided selling<br /> The cart and checkout experience<br /> Upgrades<br />
    4. 4. Channels<br />
    5. 5. Common Consumer Goals<br />Purchase accessories for existing phone<br />Modify <br />existing plan features<br />View network coverage<br />Purchase a <br />new phone<br />Purchase complementary services<br />Upgrade an existing phone or plan<br />
    6. 6. Find the Right Phone<br /> Carriers typically offer 30 – 60 phones<br /> Resellers typically offer 80 – 180 phones<br /> Variety of category classifications<br /> Prepaid (pay as you go) phones<br /> Contract (pay monthly) phones<br /> Features (camera, internet etc)<br /> Free phones<br /> PDAs/Smartphones<br /> Brand (Blackberry, Android, Windows mobile)<br /> Pre-owned/refurbished<br /> Best-selling phones<br />Carrier (for resellers and manufacturers)<br /> Coming soon/pre-order<br /> Deals and offers<br />
    7. 7. Experience Blockers<br /> Network coverage restricts availability of certain plans and phones (3G availability)<br /> Promotions are regional<br /> Pricing is regional<br />
    8. 8. Filtering Phones<br />Poor examples<br />
    9. 9. Common Filters<br />
    10. 10. Search by Feature<br />
    11. 11. Phone Results<br /> Screen resolution<br /> List/grid views<br /> Model variations<br /> Color variations <br /> Feature highlights<br /> Reviews<br /> Slide vs. scroll<br />Quick view<br />980 pixels<br />780 pixels<br />
    12. 12. Phone Comparisons<br />
    13. 13. Contract Phones<br />
    14. 14. Product Discovery<br /> Alternative views<br /> 360 views<br /> Video<br /> Tutorials<br /> Phone simulators<br /> Size comparisons<br /> What‘s in the box<br /> Available colors<br /> Available networks<br /> Available apps<br />
    15. 15. Product Discovery Cont.<br /> Features<br /> Specs<br /> Reviews<br /> UGC<br /> Accessories<br /> Cross sells<br /> User guide<br /> Delivery date<br />
    16. 16. Guided Selling<br />Phone or Plan starting point<br />Guided Selling Popup<br />
    17. 17. Guided Selling<br />Plans are offered directly on phone product page<br />
    18. 18. Guided Selling – Optional Steps<br />Services (features) & accessories are optional steps<br />Services (features) & accessories are mandatory steps<br />
    19. 19. Find the Right Plan<br /> Carriers typically offer 15 – 40 plans<br /> Resellers typically offer 80+ plans<br /> Variety of category classifications<br /> Prepaid (pay as you go) plans<br /> Contract (pay monthly) individual voice plans<br /> Contract (pay monthly) family voice plans<br /> Data plans<br /> Poor plan search and navigation tools<br />
    20. 20. The Shopping Cart<br />
    21. 21. Cart Up-sells<br /> Phone accessories<br /> Mobile<br /> Plan add-ons<br /> Insurance<br />
    22. 22. Checkout<br />
    23. 23. Keep Your Number<br /> Usually offered in the checkout<br /> Some carriers provide eligibility check at any time<br />
    24. 24. Live Chat and Support<br /> Always visible contact info in the header<br /> Use live chat (customer and retailer initiated)<br />
    25. 25. Unique Value Prop<br />
    26. 26. Multichannel<br />
    27. 27. Shopping for Accessories<br />
    28. 28. Coverage<br />
    29. 29. Upgrade Eligibility<br />
    30. 30. Upgrades<br />
    31. 31. Upgrade Incentives<br />
    32. 32. Mobile Upgrades<br />
    33. 33. Top 5 Takeaways<br /> Create a consistent upgrade/new customer experience<br /> Find innovative ways to remove experience blockers<br /> Remove unnecessary steps from the checkout process<br /> Add more product discovery tools<br /> Enable cross channel (phone, pickup in store, click to chat)<br />
    34. 34. Next month’s webinar<br />Every Second Counts: How Website Performance Impacts Shopper Behavior<br />Today's shoppers have high expectations when it comes to buying online. Websites which take too long to load can result in negative brand perception, diminished goodwill and a significant loss in overall sales. Join us on November 4th to learn about the impact of site speed on shopper behavior. <br />Presented by Margaret Rivera of Akamai <br />Date: Wednesday, November 4, 2009<br />Time: 9am Pacific/ 12pm Eastern<br />Register at<br />
    35. 35. Q&A <br />and<br />Live Poll<br /><br />