Challenges for Charities Part three: Catching up with commerce

The inexorable growth of online commerce has brought with it a tangle of issues. The most notorious GDPR, the squeezing of the high street, the birth of consumer monopolies among many many more. However, the world of online shopping doesn’t just deliver legislation and elevated anxiety levels. Online spending has led to e-commerce sites delivering unparalleled personal experiences the likes we have never seen before. Gartner, the UK based research and advisory company have stated that Visual commerce, Personalisation, trust and privacy are right at the top of the list of the 10 hot trends that will impact the future of digital commerce; Visual commerce is what enables users to interact with a brand’s products in a visual, immersive manner. Video, animations, items you’d expect from almost every modern website.

Sandy Shen, Senior Director Analyst at Gartner, says digital commerce is getting more intelligent and personal.

“Now, organisations focus on more strategic initiatives that will give them competitive advantage in the future, such as providing a unified experience throughout the customer’s journey and establishing a trusted relationship with the customer.”

So what bearing does all this have on the charity sector? Successful commercial organisations are those that have adapted quickly to consumer demands through digital innovation. For many not-for-profits this fast-moving, agile approach is a long way out of reach. Their organisational and financial structure was not built to take on risk, and long held internal attitudes can be a slow ship to turn. These restrictions place them at the mercy of consumers.

Think of an average interaction that a user might have with ASOS. One of their standout UX features is the video catwalk, so visitors can actually see what an outfit looks like. It gives customers the best possible view of the items, and gives them confidence to buy. They also have an excellent feature called ‘quick view’. On their product page, you hit ‘quick view’ and a small pop-up appears with extra images and all the info you need. It saves the customer clicking back and forth to different pages. Simple, intuitive design. Another example is the behemoth of Amazon, the biggest e-commerce website in the world, and quite frankly one of the best. It receives more than 197 million visits from people around the world, each month, more than the entire population of Russia. You could pick any one of their features as an example of good UX design. From their clever bundles to their customer recommendations, they anticipate their users’ needs.

Asos shopping experience

For users of a charity website compared to an e-commerce juggernaut it can be like comparing a Classic Gameboy with a Playstation 4. Charities have had to think outside the box in order to help drive their digital donations with clever social media driven campaigns such as breast cancer awareness ‘#KnowYourLemons’ campaign and Save the Children’s, Second a Day videos. As the importance of digital marketing increases, charities are starting to play a better game of catch up. We’ve just released the new Secret Santa campaign for Action for Children and we placed a large focus on delivering great UX and UI that delivered a seamless user journey. The UI and UX then helping to support site functionality that engages users and builds a digital community. We incorporated elements such as animated letters for users to read, totalisers, heatmaps, personalised certificates and more. All elevating the site to level of experience that aligns with user expectations and creating a platform that can continue to grow year on year.

Action for Children Secret Santa campaign elements

How then to adopt an approach that can ensure engagement within the charity sector from digital users and compete with other site experiences? There is a need for agencies to have a much broader understanding of the client’s wider business goals, ultimately having to advise on approach and delivery to give the best solution at the best value. Clever ideas and clever agency partnerships should deliver successes regardless of the man power.

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