In July this year, YouGov released the first ever results of its BrandIndex, which measures consumer perceptions of brands’ quality, value, impression, satisfaction and reputation. Interestingly, while the global version of the rankings were dominated by newer brands, the UK list was predominantly made up of well-established brands that have been around a lot longer, including John Lewis and Marks & Spencer.

Qubit’s research reinforces the fiercely loyal nature of British shoppers; 79% of UK respondents said they were loyal to 1-5 brands, when just 65% of US consumers could say the same.

When long-standing British brands seem to have the monopoly, do newer brands – or those from abroad looking to build a customer base in the UK – even stand a chance?

The value of data-driven personalisation

The answer is yes, and personalisation is how. It lies at the heart of any successful online e-commerce strategy, and is the trump card that brands can use to compete.

Consumer sentiment from Qubit’s report shows that data-driven personalisation is valued. Half of respondents said they liked getting product recommendations that were relevant to their interests, though the research also showed that only half of UK consumers feel their favourite shopping websites are actually making an effort to personalise the experience for them. Clearly – although unwaveringly loyal – there is still an appetite for personalisation from British shoppers.

When you look at the vast differences in consumer behaviour across geographical markets, it’s plain to see that a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t going to cut it. So what e-commerce techniques could brands deploy to capture the attention of hard-to-get shoppers and convert them into buyers?

Moving from cosmetic aesthetics to compelling experiences

Qubit’s report provided a definitive ranking of the 28 most-commonly used e-commerce techniques to assess which were most effective.

The winning techniques were those with the greatest impact on driving up revenue per customer, and included scarcity, social proof and urgency messaging. These provided customers with a compelling motivation for purchase, and also satiated a desire for discovery, presenting relevant products based on their behaviour.

Social proof, which highlights trending or popular items by leveraging the real-time behaviour of similar customers, resulted in a 2.3% revenue uplift for brands. Elsewhere, leveraging scarcity or urgency techniques – such as marking a product which is low in stock or a time limit on an offer – where shown to result in rises of 2.9% and 1.5% respectively.

The losers in the study were techniques focused on functionality and aesthetics, such as redesigning web pages, changing navigation, and moving buttons – these were actually shown to be negatively affecting revenue per customer.

By combining the most effective techniques together to deliver compelling online experiences, brands can expect an uplift in revenue of 6% - which could be worth billions to the wider e-commerce industry. However, it is critical to apply targeted segmentation to ensure that techniques are relevant to customer preference and behaviour in any given demographic. There is a 3x better performance when experiences are targeted to individual preferences or behaviours.

How personalisation revolutionised Thomas Cook Airlines’ customer experience

One industry which has seen rapid change in the way customers are behaving, and from which other sectors could learn, is travel.

Thomas Cook Airlines noticed that 93% of their travellers were either searching for content online, or expressing a preference for booking online and decided to make persuasive personalisation a key strategy for creating compelling customer experiences, and ensure that visitors kept returning to their site to book flights.

Using social proof, and the power of Qubit’s machine learning capabilities, Thomas Cook Airlines is now able to be more persuasive and display what other customers on the route being viewed are purchasing. By using this technique, the company was able to increase urgency and, as a result, conversions throughout the booking process, leading to a 1.6% increase in purchases.

Staying competitive by staying close to customers

E-commerce is changing and – rather than digital marketing techniques being defined and driven by brands themselves – consumers are now in the driving seat. The only way for brands to win over hard-to-get Brits, and prevent the Amazons of the world gobbling up the market, is to get to know their customers now and extend the personal touch.


By Graham Cooke, CEO at Qubit

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