Three E-Tailers Talk Online Customisation and UX

Natasha Sholl By Natasha Sholl | 12 Dec 2018

According to Tinyme, FitMyCar and EasyShed, providing the best possible online shopping experience means understanding your consumers’ needs and developing a UX strategy accordingly.

What do customisable kids’ products, made-to-order car accessories and manufacturer-to-consumer sheds have in common? Despite their vastly different product offerings, they all need to tailor their online experience for maximum results.

Tinyme is a design, software development and manufacturing studio solely focussed on mass customisation (making custom made products one at a time at scale). The company was established in 2006 growing from a one-person spare bedroom start-up to a 50+ team with business in three countries (the ultimate e-commerce start-up story!). They sell exclusively through the Tinyme websites in the US, UK and Australia) and everything they sell is designed and made in-house in Melbourne. Their target market is predominantly mums with younger children.

FitMyCar is a made-to-order manufacturer and retailer of customisable car accessories. It launched in 2016, born of a need to give all car owners a quality, convenient alternative to the limited range of vehicle specific accessories available at a dealership or car parts store. Like Tinyme, its products are customisable, it manufacturers in Melbourne and is 100 percent online. Unlike Tinyme, its range is targeted towards car drivers—think floor mats, dash mats and boot liners.

Similarly, EasyShed is a direct-to-customer online store. It was founded six years ago and is currently transitioning rapidly to become a pureplay manufacturer-to-consumer online retailer. Its target market is male and female homeowners, 26- to 54-years old, online savvy, with basic tech skills and some DIY knowledge.

So, if you don’t sell custom-designed lunchboxes, car parts or sheds, what can you learn from these companies? Firstly, know your market.

“As we predominantly make products suitable for children aged zero to six, it was initially obvious who our core target market would be, however, over time by doing customer surveys and analysing data from sources such as Facebook Insights and Google Analytics, we’ve been able to get a better picture of our target customer,” says Michael Wilson, Founder of Tinyme. “For example, we’ve been able to get a more granular detail of the Australians within our Facebook followers (somewhere near the 350,000 mark) based on self-reported data. They are 98 percent female, 77 percent married, almost 70 percent University educated, and not surprisingly have a strong brand affinity overlap with designer kids brands such as Oishi-m, Oobi, Little Styles, Purebaby, Pottery Barn Kids,” Wilson adds.

Similarly, EasyShed uses analytics to understand who its market is and exactly what they want. “They are typically tertiary educated with income close to national average. They engage through clear, concise messaging and expect us to be a helpful, confident authority in the shed industry,” says Sharon Brown-Cikos, Marketing Manager, EasyShed. “This is based on extensive profiling and surveying of our existing customer base, as well as the garden shed market as a whole,” she adds.

Analytics is key for these retailers, not just knowing who their audience is but how they shop. “From our analytics, we get further detail noting the majority of our customers visit us on mobile phones, typically these are late model iPhones. And they have particular days of week and times of days they prefer to shop with us,” Wilson explains.

But when it comes to customer experience, it shouldn’t matter what you sell, what industry you’re in, or who your target market is. “Customers tend to take their very best online experiences and place those expectations on the other places they shop. So in that regard, I think we’re all chasing the same improvements – particularly when it comes to customer experience,” says James Tinsley, Founder and CEO of FitMyCar.

This consumer-led approach is one that shapes retailers across the board. “Our range has been curated over many years to cater to the tastes of our customer and their homes. We review customer feedback as well as requests for customisations and create new ranges to fill any holes in the market. This ‘customer guided’ approach has led to the creation of many new ranges in the last few years to cater to changing living conditions and storage requirements, especially in metro locations,” Brown-Cikos tells us.

What is the EasyShed user experience? “The process of purchasing a shed is completely simplified, down to as few steps as possible in order to make the shopping experience easy. There is little noise distracting from the reason they are on our site, and live support is available to help them through their purchase journey. We are always improving UX, and though our demographic is slower to mobile shopping than others, we built a fully responsive website and continue to improve the mobile experience for our users.”

Simplification is where FitMyCar also focuses its efforts. “Everyday car owners don’t want to run out to the garage just to tell you their VIN or engine type for a car mat purchase. So, we’ve worked hard to remove unnecessary, car-jargon style questions from our site journey to make it as easy as possible to find accessories that fit their exact vehicle,” Tinsley tells us. “We’ve also added intuitive, visual cues throughout the journey to help our ideal customer navigate some of the intricacies involved in finding accessories for their car.”

Tinyme has the same approach, streamlining in accordance with customer needs. “The biggest factor in recent years has been influenced by our customers’ rapid increase to visiting our website via mobiles and an increase in traffic through social media sources,” Wilson explains. “This has meant tailoring experiences explicitly designed with those scenarios in mind. We’ve spent a lot of time trying to make the somewhat complex experience of buying a personalised product with various colour, design and option choices into a fast and frictionless experience on a mobile device.”

Though there is no doubt these three online businesses have vastly different business models, what is consistent is their approach to UX. They know exactly who their audience is, how they shop and what they want. You can’t meet consumer expectations until you know exactly what they are, after all.

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