Episode 56: Coronavirus e-commerce insights with Luke Carthy

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What's in this episode?

What e-commerce digital trends are we seeing during Coronavirus? What can e-commerce companies do to adapt? Where are the opportunities to thrive? Mark talks to e-commerce expert Luke Carthy to get his insights into what opportunities there are for brands in an industry that has been shaken to its core.


MC: Welcome to episode 56 of the Search with Candour podcast. Recorded on Thursday the 9th of April 2020, my name is Mark Williams-Cook and today we're going to be talking about e-commerce during coronavirus and I'm very lucky, today I've been joined by Luke Carthy, an independent ecommerce growth consultant. Luke, very very happy to have you, thank you so much for joining us.

LC: Yeah I am chuffed to be here man and I've got my super silky voice on, hayfever is killing me at the moment, it's kind of attacked my throat a little bit.

MC: Oh really?

LC: Yeah, whenever I get a sore throat or a cold it's really kind of Barry White esque and I'm not complaining, definitely perfect podcast, so I'm happy.

MC: But you're okay because obviously at the moment you're making me nervous that you're saying you've got cold symptoms?

LC: Yeah don't worry, don't worry, I'm good. It’s purely hayfever and the reason why I know that is because when I take my tablets, although I haven't today, everything disappears and goes away. I’m cool.

MC: Okay, so how are you getting on in isolation? I saw actually you said you delivered your first remote consultancy at the end of last month, how did that go?

LC: Yeah, I started it and had been super anxious if I'm honest, little sprogs, little kids were going around - I've got a six year old and a two year old and yeah a little bit anxious about that and then the human element, the whole body language and being in the same room together and that's how i’ve always done consultancy, so I kind of felt that something would be missing or taken away from that, the fact that we're doing it online but it actually went really really well. A solid day’s consultancy and a couple of the things that really jumped out that I didn't expect was the benefit of no one really having the pressure to take notes because we could record the whole session, my client could have that as a reference point or they could store it, keep it, but also when we did take some notes and follow-up actions and some beats you wanted to throw down some links and we had a collaborative document, Google docs or a Notion document, just to collaborate on and make sure all our notes are collective, any questions she had she could throw one there and I could respond to those. So it worked out really really well, to the point where I think going forward I'll be offering remote consultancy globally, going forward, so yeah it works really really well and I'm chuffed to pieces.

MC: That's really interesting. It’s actually a similar experience to what we've had agency side so we've done a few bits of remote training before but obviously like you now, we've had to push everything from workshops to training to the in-house stuff we do over video and I've had a few clients initially say, well I think we'd prefer to actually just wait and do it in person and I've managed to talk a few of those, well most of those people around and actually once they've done it they said that was actually way easier than we thought it was gonna be and I think a lot of people still have this, it's gonna be like early 2000s Skype, everything breaking out but with screen share, with collaborative documents, I actually found it really really easy and like you say, we've got the kind of shared experience of families in the background, pets, people coming to the door - I had that during a workshop and everyone's actually okay with it because I think we're all in same same boat at the moment, right?

LC: Yeah exactly that and actually in a weird way, we kind of had more rapport as a result of it because she has a young child at home, I've got two young children at home as I may have already mentioned, so it's like we already put the disclaimers up and said, look you know things might go down, like we might have just kids walking into shot and asking for sandwich or something, but no it worked really really well and I'm super impressed and she’s really happy and long may this kind of thing be continued. Normally my clients are predominantly based in the UK, on a one to one consultancy basis, but going forward it'll definitely be something that I do internationally, so I'm looking forward to seeing how that pans out.

MC: I think that's interesting because we have seen a lot of companies go through this forced evolution of how they do business, so apart from people at new agencies like us doing consultancy remotely, we have seen a lot of companies change their offering, adapt it, so they can move it online very quickly and I think now everyone is obviously at home, I saw you and ran talking about how CloudFlare are reporting huge increases of internet usage like 20, 30, 40 percent in some cases, so I assume this means, among other things, we're getting new customers coming online that maybe haven't been online before and maybe not as confident about buying online? Is that something? What can companies do to get a handle on this? How should they be adapting?

LC: Yeah for sure. So I think there's definitely two very clear trends as you said, so traffic, internet usages of whatever capacity that is whether it's browsing or media, you know as people watching stuff online, or looking on an e-commerce site and looking at different businesses, but I think what certainly we can see is that typically conversion is down - people are more cautious, taking more time to buy or creating wish lists if you like or dream lists of things that they would want. So what I'd probably say most businesses can absolutely do is try and capture an audience via entertainment, so maybe shift the KPI from conversion to getting them to buy, to getting them to buy at some stage in the future.

So to throw in an example idea, I had an epiphany one morning while the kids were probably throwing porridge around the dining room and it just kind of happened where I thought, well hold on a minute, if no one's gonna be buying clothes right now, it doesn't mean that people don't want clothes, it just means that people don't want clothes right now. So why not be in a situation where you can encourage people to use your site to browse, to build styles, to maybe build some dream wardrobes, so I guess one, you've got an entertainment edge if you like, two, you have a bit of a social isolation distraction and three, you're getting bucket loads of data from people who want to combine styles together, frequent items that people are going to buy together when we basically move an entire season. So we're going to go from, in the world of fashion, from spring/summer to autumn/ winter in June, July because of course, fashion brands are typically a quarter ahead of the calendar, so it's very difficult for a brand to not have any real conversion data and then try and work out what people are going to want to buy, what are the trends in fashion and colours people want to wear. So having the ability of allowing ecommerce brands to play with that and almost add gamification if you like to that capacity could really be helpful.

So you've kind of got the okay you'll not spend money right now, but let's make sure that you remember us when this time’s over or when you're more confident in buying stuff online and I think that could be really powerful. So to reiterate, be less focused on the immediate sale if you can, I appreciate not all companies have the financial security to be able to do this but this could certainly help buying from customers in the medium to long term.

MC: If we can break that down because I think you've touched on three points there in terms of e-commerce which is firstly, points we've made to clients is people are literally bored at the moment being at home, even searches on Google just for “bored” and “I am bored” are like 10 times up at the moment. Secondly, we've got a change of behaviour during this period, so I think I saw you talking about how loungewear searches are going right up in terms of fashion, so maybe people are thinking more about comfort and utility while they're at home rather than I will look good in this and other people will look at me and then you've also touched on this post trend, there's lots of people in marketing talking about how a lot of things are gonna come back in a vengeance and people are almost going to celebrate the things that they're missing out on.

So if we start, you've mentioned there about entertaining people and having this social connection at this period, is there any process that companies can apply who should be involved? How do you come up with these ideas when you're talking about building a dream list? And actually, I saw another really great example you have which was for nannies and childcare workers, obviously, you said they're likely to be losing out on income because they’re not going to go around houses and you've recommended they did a series of potty training videos and blogs because it's a great time, you know searches are up. So two great ideas I think that cover those first two points. What would you say to companies because I think many may be in this panic mode and are getting blinkered and we need to stop. How can they think like this?

LC: Yeah sorry, I mean it sounds super cliche but it's getting in the mindset of what your customers are doing if they're not spending money, if they can't spend money. Whether it's a case of that they don't have the cash or they're just not in the mindset of buying anything right now, then what else would they be looking at? So as a parent, first thing, we've got a two-year-old daughter and obviously we're all locked up together, so why not take this opportunity to absolutely go in and capitalise on potty training. But what you typically find is, what you've just got to try and think about is if you were in this mindset, what is it you'd be doing now in the world of isolation, if you couldn't get outside, if you couldn't walk to the shop, to the high street, what would you be doing instead?

So I mean another example I guess is this whole work from home movement, where yet people who have the luxury to work from home can do so, but there's also a lot of people who don't have the tools, if you like, to work from home, so desk sales are going to be up massively and then you can maybe think about content ideas around the world of desks. So just to think of one off the top of my head; for example, it could be something like, how to prevent coffee stains on your brand new desk that you just ordered or best ways to organise in this situation or how to turn something from something lying around the house into a workspace. So not everyone has the cash to go away and buy a brand new desk or has the space to go and fit a new desk but actually what kind of things does a typical homeowner or someone even in a rental property have that they could use to turn into a desk - so I have like a coffee table here and for example, I might just have an idea where I sit on the floor and use that as a desk platform from time to time. So I think, to distil that down as an answer is to just think about how you could communicate and better the lives of your customers, even if they can't necessarily buy from you right now. I think that really helps and there's a lot of brands that won't necessarily be doing that, especially smaller brands, brands that are less fluid in digital and less adaptable to change, I think it's really important to think about how you can help people get through this and then at the other end, think about how you can turn that help into sales, into brand exposure, into conversion at some stage.

MC: So I think you could describe actually is quite a unique situation for brands in terms of, it's very rare that everyone, including brands, has this shared experience which gives you an opportunity to show empathy to your customers because there is always this very fine line in more normal times when brands are trying and even if they're genuinely trying to show empathy, it is always met with skepticism a lot of time or you know, oh they just want our money, and I think it is a unique time to actually be able to offer something and be there for for those people at that time.

LC: Yeah I think so. One final example just to throw in the back of that is, Google Hangouts or Google G Suite; so I don't know if you've seen, but I got an email probably two weeks ago now and what they've done is take the basic package and give users the premium package or the enterprise package features, which means you can now go away and record your Google Hangouts, they save to the cloud and you can share them with your clients or your family or whoever it is you're talking to on Google Hangouts and that's a really nice thing to do. They didn't have to do that, they could have absolutely done a cliche attempt that this cannot enterprise and cleaned up, but I think that's the difference between having a campaign that looks and smells like profiteering versus trying to help people and I think yeah, behind the scenes this is absolutely going to be a commercial benefit there because Google know when you've had a taste of enterprise, there's a lot of people who will want that feature, and are absolutely going to go and spend the extra 15, 20, 30, dollars a month or whatever it is to leverage that. But, it's very much an empathetic move, it helps people out and as a G Suite user myself, hey I'm probably going to be an enterprise user going forward at the end of this because that is a feature that I absolutely can leverage now. But you know using that kind of thing, what is your pain point for your audience in this and find a way to make it easier for them. I think that would really be quite powerful right now.

MC: Yeah absolutely. I mean we're recording this podcast online at moment with Zen caster and they've done exactly the same with their free package, they've given us Pro level service at the moment - it's also a good time to mention again, I mentioned on an earlier episode, there is a website set up by very kind chap who we've interviewed before called Dom Hodgson which is and this lists a whole bunch of software like Dom's Little Warden, Yoast, OnCrawl, DeepCrawl, Majestic, Sitebulb, lots of SEO type tools you can use in digital marketing that have special offers, reduced prices, extended trials during the coronavirus. So if anyone does want to check that out.

So what I wanted to follow up there Luke was the second point, which was about the businesses adapting during this time to changing demand, so I've seen loads of people posting all the different and some quite funny Google Trends graphs for things that are radically shifting from everything - from people wanting shaved heads like mine, to I found a ten times rise in people searching for stuff like ‘DIY tattoos’ which is kind of worrying, but what can companies do apart from looking at Google Trends to get some data on how search behaviour is changing or how customer intent is changing? Where can they start looking at how they can adapt their business if they're still you know doing sales?

LC: Yeah so outside of Google Trends, this is one I absolutely love and it fits now perfectly but it's the go-to for me whenever I want to look at any kind of search intel and that is a website, if you have the luxury of having this, is your internal search engine, your site search because this is gold. I mean the bigger the site, the richer the data but to give you a perfect example and something that I wrote about in a post a couple of weeks ago now was, you know Holland and Barrett, they're a big sort of health care / kind of breaking into farmers slightly brand here in the UK and of course, you've then got SuperDrug which is again a renowned health care, fashionable farmer kind of brand; both of those brands must have, I mean I can't prove it, I don't have a data, but they must have a good bunch of people going onto their site and searching for Covid19 or Coronavirus or synonymous of that particular word and of course, that right there is the capital of what it is your customers are coming to you for, what it is they're now searching for, what are the things that they're looking for now that they weren’t searching for say last month or even as close as yesterday or even maybe the last hour, depending on how much traffic and data you have .So leveraging your internal search queries is a really powerful way of understanding what things your user base is looking for that you may or may not be aware of right now.

The reason why I think it's a really big deal is because brands like boots and again Lloyd's pharmacy in the same similar space as Holland and Barrett and Superdrug have done precisely that. So if you search for Coronavirus they give you an experience, they give you information links to NHS, direct links to resources, product categories, you can go and take a look at and so on and so on. Now no one's going to put that effort in if it wasn’t a query worth worth looking at. Chasing is probably the wrong word, but it's definitely a query that someone in the marketing teams thought of, they've got some report or automation somewhere that said, hey this is a query that spikes in the last X number of days, hours - go and check it out and see what's going on but that would be my absolute first port of call is, check out your internal search queries.

MC: That's really interesting. I think as well people might even be looking for you know, they still are probably looking for the same products they always were, it's just changing the words they're using. A good example of that that we've had for decades, many years, is things like ibuprofen, when you buy branded packets that say “targeted back pain” or specific ‘migraine pain’, a lot of time it's actually the same tablets but it's just people are looking you know, ‘I have back pain’ therefore I need this. The same thing I think is being, if I understand what you're saying, is happening now - which is people are still looking for the same things that Boots and Holland & Barrett have always sold, but they're just looking for it in context to what's going on and that's a huge, huge opportunity, if you're actually missing out on that, right?

LC: Yeah big-time, I mean I worked in e-commerce pharmaceutical for a couple of years and there was a series of documentaries/programs that were on Channel four and I forget them the program, but it was about shopping smarter and not necessarily going for big brands because there's other products that are exactly the same, at a lower cost. One of the big ones that they spoke about was drugs over-the-counter drugs so, paracetamol being one, hayfever tablets being a second one, and you know everyone feels that going for brands like Panadol or Nurofen are more effective or better somehow than say the regular supermarket branded paracetamol or Ibrufen or whatever it is and actually the active ingredient is exactly the same, there even sometimes made in the same factory, the same facilities, it's just the packaging you get at the end. And then of course is a huge difference in price, you know, you might be looking at £3 something for a pack of Nurofen versus 30/40p for a pack of the exact same thing that's branded from say Tesco and that made a massive swing in what we found in internal search queries, literally within hours of that programming going live. So rather than people searching for Nurofen or say, what's that massive brand of allergy tablets, Piriton or Piri as it's called now, they'd be searching for neurontin instead which is the active ingredient inside one of the Periton brands. So being able to adapt to that is really quite powerful. I didn't watch the program so I wouldn't have realised that until I went down an internal search rabbit hole and connected it back to that program - ah this is why people have started searching for Piri less or Piriton less but all of a sudden these scientific drug active ingredient names are flying, right what's going on but yeah it's really important to check that out.

MC: I think that’s just a really interesting whole side conversation there, because I've seen the studies actually where they've reported that the pain relief from the branded tablets is reported as higher than the generic ones and obviously there's a placebo effect there but I think especially with something like pain relief, which is a symptomatic, that reported pain relief and pain relief are the same thing essentially. If someone doesn't feel they're experiencing pain then, you know by any measure they're not. So I found that really interesting. I think I've seen similar ones as well when I've spoken to doctors and they say when they've run these trials that big red pills have better reported effects than small white pills and so I think there's a whole interesting kind of placebo psychology/ marketing thing there maybe we need to get a doctor on or someone who’s done one of these studies.

Anyway for the businesses Luke, that maybe aren't massively affected in this, they're still doing online sales, they’re e-commerce and maybe they're trying to make up for lost revenue in physical stores, for these people conversion is more important than ever, what kind of advice and I know it's a difficult question, but what kind of advice can you give these companies if they haven't looked at conversion rates before? Where should they start? What should their priorities be? What should they be looking at?

LC: Okay one of the big ones or I guess the starting points I'd like to jump into is for sure products that you get a lot of traffic on, but don't necessarily convert very well and I guess everyone can go down rabbit holes and try and find out what it is, whether it's just low demand for that product, is the pricing right, is there something in the description that's inaccurate or ineffective, but those sort of things are a really good point to start because ideally on larger sites you may be able to identify a pattern. Let's say for example you have an e-commerce store that has in upwards of a thousand products and you can identify 150, 200 of them that have high amounts of traffic but low conversion, you could definitely take a look at these and find if there's any things - could it be a lack of reviews, could it be a poor product description and lack of an image, could it be something more technical in terms of that the pounds load speed and the image is too large and therefore is just taken forever, is it in stock? Because you know, I remember when I worked in house, we had a frequent call every single week or a frequent meeting every single week, which is the whole up and down, week on week, month on month stuff - why is this particular product or brand or category selling better or worse than it did before and the absolute first piece of evidence I'd ever bring to that meeting is, is the item or items they're asking about in stock or were they in stock before and they're not now or were they out of stock before and now back in stock; that’s a really big one because it doesn't matter how well and how effective your SEO, your paid search campaign, your landing pages are, if you don't have the stock you cannot sell it. So it's really important to make sure that, of all the data you're looking at, first of all is the price accurate and can they buy the bloody thing? So that's normally a really good point to jump into first.

Second of all, I think one of the big wins I like to jump into again is how you manage your discontinued products. So it's a whole topic in itself we could probably have an entire podcast just talking about this but, if one item is out of stock or if a particular product is never going to come back into stock it's gone, it’s done, there's still huge amounts of opportunity to get people to to look at that stock item that's no longer there and purchase something that's similar and there's a brand that this is particularly well, it's John Lewis. Let's say for example, you go and look at Google for best laptop you come across an article that you really like from say 2019, you go to the link on that page which points to John Lewis as a retailer and then that's a shame the laptops no longer available, it doesn't exist, they aren’t making anymore, however rather than just 301 redirect it to a category or 404, then how about saying well look this Lenovo 13-inch yada yada isn't available but actually they’ve replaced it for 2020 and this is the new model, go and take a look at that. And that can be a really powerful way of turning a product that you can't buy anymore, a dead product if you like, into a potential sales opportunity and when you apply that across potentially thousands or hundreds of different products, that can be a big change in conversion performance across your brand or retail.

MC: Just a very technical, specific question there. That a really interesting strategy that we've talked to clients about, all the different options around redirecting and sort of resteering people over to other products and whether we leave discontinued products like that up, like you say and say here's the nearest or most updated version, do you no index those pages? If you're going to be dealing with a churn where after a few years it might be thousands of pages.

LC: Yeah, do you know what that's a really good question and I'm glad you asked it. So I hate to say these two words together but…

MC: I know what they're gonna be.

LC: depends! The reason why I say that is because eventually all of these things should be no indexed at some point, but it depends on you know - let's say for example you just continue today and item just continue today you may decide to take it out of the index immediately or you may decide to have it in the index for for a month for three months for a year it really depends on on what it is. so to give you a specific example let's say you in the world of sofas for example the churn of a sofa is a heck of a lot slower than say technology or something that's really granular like fashion whereby your index time for fashion maybe say a month but you're no man takes time for a sofa maybe twelve months because a sofa normally stays in the entire calendar year before they replace it for next summer, but it really does depend on your situation. so that I think one thing we can absolutely agree on is at some point they should no index for sure but when that happens is it's entirely up to you, but I think this is kind of where SEO meets CRO and then meets UX just because you've no index the page doesn't mean it's not important anymore, because people can still get to these products.

Let's say, for example, you have this item in last year's Black Friday deal, it’s still a backlink; let's say you sent an email out to someone a year ago and for some reason of stumbled across it and want to go and check it out again, there's still traffic from that particular thing, something you posted on social, again there's still traffic from that so just because it's not in the index, doesn't mean that page can no longer serve a purpose. There's still technical documents that people might want, instruction manuals that people might need, they still might want FAQ's, they might want to buy a used version of that on ebay for example so they're just Googling specific examples. Moving into eBay really briefly, they have absolutely nailed this particular model because we all know eBay listings are relatively short-lived, you can have an auction or you can have a bid now on this thing or a classified ad or whatever, but imagine being in the situation where if you watched an item or you lost that on the item because the bid ended or you didn't want to pay that much for the item, if that item got 404 immediately after the end of the auction, how irritating would that be and also eBay couldn't get in a situation of saying, hey you've missed out on this but there's one that's also about to end the next 24 hours that you can go and check out here. So you know eBay built a business model purely on discontinued products, dead auctions items you can't buy anymore and that is a really good example of how you can build a really strong UX and CRO case with discontinued products and still considering SEO as well.

To give you a very specific example, I found in a presentation I did on this, I think at Brighton SEO a year or two back, I found an eBay of auction item for a VHS tape that was 10 years old but it is still active, it wasn't in the index but there was a page that still existed and it was for a super rare exclusive Popeye something, like a really thought pointing collector's piece and I imagine that still gets some traffic today, but what they're doing with that is sending people from the item that ended ten years ago, to similar items that are available today and I think that's the whole kind of notion on how you can turn discontinued products into a CRO kind of situation.

MC: So while we're talking about platforms like eBay, so I'd go class eBay, places such as Amazon as marketplaces where you can sell your products. If you're in a position where you're a small business or SME, a medium-sized business, you traditionally haven't sold online and I've seen quite a few of these where they've suddenly gone you know, eeeek we need to start actually giving people a way to buy what what we're selling - is it a good time for these people to start looking at marketplaces like eBay stores and Amazon? And there's a second question here, if SMEs do want this pop-up ecommerce presence, you know they're a bit behind the curve, they need to move fast, is there a platform? And I know it does depend but generally one you'd recommend to an SME? You know I've seen people suggesting Shopify, WooCommerce, Wix, Magento, do you have any guidance for small businesses here that are in a situation where they have a product, it's possible to set it online, we need to get it up and running as quick as possible?

LC: Yeah for sure. So just to answer the first part of that question, so you know should small businesses get on a marketplace Amazon, eBay? Absolutely. I essentially started out on eBay, that was where my e-commerce debut really started for me, when actually that was all I sold on, was eBay and I sold HDMI cables right when HDTV first came out. eBay can be really really powerful and I'll absolutely recommend people to go and make a thing of it, I think there's definitely pros and cons for it. Yes, the competition is fierce, yes, the fees can be expensive once you tap in PayPal and your listing fees and all these sort of good stuff, but I guess one thing it absolutely allows you to do is test the water without any real investment except your minute fees. So if you've got a listing you want to go and try out, if you've got some copy you want to work on, if you even want to understand whether you've got an audience for your product, then eBay can be a really quick test I guess, litmus paper if you like, to see whether there's a market there; whether you want to list it or search for it and I think in terms of eBay intel and research, I'd absolutely recommend a tool called Terapeak which is kind of like SEMrush for eBay and it allows you to attach eBay queries, so people who are browsing eBay and what they're searching for, to rankings of products and sellers and power sellers and how they're doing it and the things that they are using to be the best in that particular category.

So moving on to, I guess the CMS of choice, the e-commerce platform of choice, then I have two favorites for a number reasons. One is absolutely WooCommerce, I think WooCommerce is brilliant and the other one is Shopify, I'll jump into both reasons in a second. So Shopify is kind of like a quick low barrier to entry way of building a site and getting something out into the market space and that can help you out, but as many SEOs know it's got a glass ceiling and I don't really like the retainer model, I don't like the fact that you have to pay each month for a front-end, so you know Shopify is great, it looks good, is the easy checkout, again it's really easy to set up, you can you can customise the design, but your checkout always looked the same, your SEO has a glass ceiling, your CRO opportunities and how you integrate Google Analytics with things like a data layer and bits and pieces like that is a challenge. But saying that, if you're a small business and you're not necessarily tech savvy and you don't necessarily want to go and consult the help of a web designer or something like that then Shopify absolutely has its place in the market, of course it's a big deal.

I think if you're a little bit more tech savvy and have a little bit more time, I would always recommend people go with WooCommerce and the reason why is it gives you all the benefits of what Shopify would, with a slightly higher technical entry point, but it's a heck of a lot more flexible, from an SEO point of view, from a design point of view, from customisation and I think to give you one really good example when it comes to e-commerce your internal search engine is literally the single most important part of any e-commerce site, in my opinion. So with WooCommerce you can use plugins, and I don't mean plugins as in like the WordPress repository, I mean there's some really powerful search engine providers like Doofinder, like SLI, loads of different search providers where they bolt straight into WordPress and you can have an enterprise esque search engine, with prediction and AI and all sorts of cool stuff for a low cost, versus Shopify which you have to use their native internal search which isn't particularly great.

So I'm guessing with that information it then depends on, once I've relayed that to a potential client, it's then a case of allowing them to think, right they all want something really quick, do I want something with technical payload or am I okay to go and spend a little bit more money and get on to WooCommerce. So I’d normally say they’re the absolute two pivotal start up CMS e-commerce platforms to go with.

MC: Luke, that's really really great advice. We're running now, we've done about just over 30 minutes, so I just say, are there any last tips you want to share for businesses? Maybe I think something really interesting we haven't covered is, how should businesses approach messaging around coronavirus? Is it important they talk about it? Have people heard enough about it? What would your recommendations be on that?

LC: Yeah again, a really solid question. So I think one big anxiety that people have got at the moment if somebody wants to buy from you, one of their first questions they have right now is are they still trading? And if they are still trading can they get the goods out to me in a reasonable amount of time? There are two questions that I guess are more important than ever at the moment, so things like live chat on the site will really help because it adds a bit of humanity to a very technical, digital front end and I think being very clear with it and saying, look okay you know we’ve been impacted by coronavirus and as a result, all this may take a couple of days, a week longer to process than normal, and yes although you may lose some sales as a result of being transparent, I think you have to also think about your reputation. The last thing you want to do is for someone to pump money into your business, expecting it to happen in next day because that's what your latest copy says, that you haven’t changed since 2019, to then expecting the next day delivery and it not happening. It'd be a heck of a lot better for you to have maybe like a top banner or something where you know it's on your site that says, hey look we're all working here, we're all trying our best, there's going to be some delays.

Again, that live chat to be able if anyone's got any immediate questions, you can answer them quite quickly and I think off the back of that if you have some really powerful FAQs that potential customers keep asking you, then build a page for it, build a page that tells them; ‘are still open during the coronavirus?’ could be one major FAQ, you might even be in a situation where you decide to extend your returns policies because people can't get to the post office fast or they're not collecting your orders as fast, these little things here can maybe make it easier for someone to buy from you, then say buying from Amazon or another competing retailer, but I'd say absolutely be as transparent as you can.

MC: Thank you Luke, that's a brilliant answer and thank you so much for giving up your time to speak to me, so really appreciate it.

LC: It's been fun to speak to another adult to be honest, I've enjoyed it, thank you very much.

MC: If you want to find out any more about Luke, you can check out his website at We will be back on Monday the 20th of April, as usual you can find the show notes or the links to everything we've spoken about today and a whole transcription of this podcast at - if you are listening online, remember you can subscribe to Search with Candour on basically any podcast app you can find, so please do that. Stay safe and I will speak to you all next week.

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