client workshop

An introduction to our Creative Director and Creative Services

An introduction to our Creative Services and Q&A with AYKO Creative Director, Daniel.

At AYKO, we understand that innovative design plays a significant role in shaping and moulding engaging customer experiences online. Amongst our cog of front-end developers, back-end developers and marketers, our Creative Director, Daniel offers creative leadership to the team and brand direction on behalf of the customer. Understanding a customer’s current brand and vision from the off, he works as an extension of their team and offers an experienced and creative fresh set of eyes.

Ordinarily, our customers will meet Daniel at the beginning of their project, during the roadmapping stage. However, for customers with more of an emphasis on the creative aspect of the project, Daniel may meet with them sooner to create and define the initial project brief together.

We caught up with Daniel to explore how he’s finding life heading up the Creative services at AYKO and to gather some handy design tips for eCommerce merchants.

AYKO Creative Director
Daniel Thomas-Peter, Creative Director at AYKO

How do you get to grips with a brand’s vision before starting the design process?

Depending on the brand and how established the guidelines are, I like to have a workshop with the client. Allowing me to identify any areas that need to be developed and also allows me to fully immerse myself within the ethos and vision of the company. These workshops can be an hour or two or a full day, this is dependent on who, what and when. It is important to not only focus on the user but also the client you are representing, if balanced correctly these two focal points  bring back significant ROI for the client.

For customers who already have a design brief, at what part do you get involved?

I always like to be involved in the process from the very start; getting to understand how the client thinks and what they want to achieve is a huge part of my job. Any touchpoint with the client is a great way to develop a relationship and influence creative output where applicable. My role is not just about creating a brief and delivering a great looking solution, it is also about advising and steering client choices so they get as much as they possibly can out of every process or project AYKO is involved in. 

What are some of the most common design and UX downfalls you see with projects?

Assumption lead design is always a big red flag, and this can happen from both sides, client and designer. Communication is key for any projects success. The more we talk to each other the fewer assumptions creep into the mix, and the easier it is for all parties to relate to the outcome of the brief. My job is to make sure assumptions are minimal, and communication is maximised. When people are not talking projects take longer, costs escalate, relationships breakdown and briefs are not met. 

Is it important to bear in mind the eCommerce platform and integrations when creating a website design?

It is important to consider every possible element at the start, the fewer variables you have in the equation, the stronger the outcome. There will always be bumps in the road, but knowing where they may come from saves a lot of time and costs to the business and client.

How do you work alongside AYKO’s UX/CRO specialist, Adam?

Adam specialises in user experience (UX), and conversion rate optimisation (CRO) of existing projects and also has input during the roadmapping stage of a new project.  I am around to support and advise on any strategy he may want to implement and heavily involved when it comes to delivering a visually led outcome. 

When you’re not designing websites, what else do you like to do, and where do you find inspiration?

Inspiration can be found around every corner, as truly creative brains never really switch off; they are always on the lookout for something new and exciting. In my free time, I like to go to the gym, swim, cook, walk my dogs, renovate my house, socialise with friends and go snowboarding in the winter. 

What is the most rewarding part of your job, and what do you enjoy about working at AYKO?

I love the diversity of my role and the fact that every client and brief is different. Each presents new challenges daily, and I enjoy making sure these challenges are met and exceed expectations. We have a diverse client offering and heavily invest in Design Services, which allow the client to see an ROI, and is quite rare in the industry. A lot of agencies are specialists in one area whereas AYKO has a 360 offering ,seldom found outside of London. 

In your opinion, what design trends can we expect to see more of in 2020?

It’s hard to predict how the industry will shift as it moves so quickly, but, PWA (Progressive Web Apps) will definitely take more of a front seat. Google is delivering some great services that speed up mobile experiences and with the dawn of 5G, Apps as we know it will start to plato and PWA will start to take more of the market share. From a colour point of view, pastel shades will be more prominent as we see a move away from the bright and flat neons of the past couple of years. Apart from that, it is anyone’s guess as there are some great services and young talent coming into the industry at the moment – anything could catch on.

Alongside fulfilling the creative aspect of our development projects, Daniel also provides creative briefs for retailers who have an internal development team or already work with a dev agency. For smaller projects, Daniel can also create designs for specific elements of your website i.e. the checkout, or can help you utilise A/B testing to discover what your customers find the most inviting.

 

If you would like to discuss your design aspirations and how to take your brand to the next level, get in touch with Daniel.

Compliance information for Magento merchants selling to EU customers

What is PSD2?

The European Union’s revised Payment Services Directive (PSD) is a directive implemented to regulate payment services and payment providers throughout the EU and EEA. The Second Payment Directive, otherwise known as PSD2, is the latest update to this legislation which tightens regulations and requirements around the handling of online payments and card data.

The new directive, comprising of 90 pages of legislation, includes Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) requirements and updates to 3D Secure. 

 

Strong Customer Authentication (SCA)

Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) reduces fraudulent card usage through the requirement of additional validation steps when making payments by card online. To make this possible, SCA required an update to the existing 3D Secure protocol. In general, the verification flow of 3D Secure 2.0 is similar to the 3DS 1.0 flow, but in most cases, it does not require customer identity verification as the card issueing bank can make this decision. Where a customers’ bank has implemented the functionality, a customer may be required to confirm the online transaction by confirming a notification on their mobile device.

Ultimately, PSD2 and SCA have been implemented to improve the security of card payments online and increase competition amongst payment providers, giving consumers greater choice and security.

 

Who does PSD2 affect?

Banks – PSD2 allows third-party payment providers to access bank accounts of customers, view information and initiate a payment through a bank directly, without the need for merchant accounts.

Consumers – Through direct integration to their bank accounts, consumers will get a greater choice of payment methods. PSD2 also aims to improve consumer rights through the prohibition of surcharges on credit cards, debit cards and prepaid cards within the EU.

Third-party payment providers – Progressive payment providers have an opportunity to capitalise on this new access to financial institutions by creating new payment services and providing merchants with more payment methods.

Online merchants – For merchants selling to EU customers, it is their responsibility to ensure they and their chosen third-party payment providers are compliant with the new legislation.

Impact on merchants

Due to be enforced from 14th September 2019, the FCA has since announced a delay to SCA rollout penalties and have instead agreed on a plan for a phased 18-month implementation of SCA. At the end of the 18 months, the FCA expects all merchants to have made the necessary changes and undertaken the required testing to apply SCA.

It is the responsibility of every merchant selling within the EU to ensure they are compliant with PSD2 and avoid rejection of transactions. Our advice to customers is to continue as if the SCA is still being enforced on the 14th September and make use of the functionality before the banks roll it out. Being prepared will also help merchants to avoid the following when the new requirements come into play:  

  • An increase in failed transactions
  • Increase in declined transactions from the card-issuing banks
  • Being forced to comply by your merchant bank

AYKO Professional Services team have been aware of this change to online payments since early 2019 and have carried out extensive research around this. Firstly, to ensure our partners were aware of this new legislation and compliant, and secondly to enable our customers to be compliant or take the necessary measures to become so.

 

Impacts for Magento Payment Extensions

Magento recently released a statement regarding PSD2 and mentioned the payment providers that have the requirements embedded in their core, including PayPal, Braintree, Authorize.net, CyberSource and eWay. 

To be clear, this does not mean that other third-party payment providers are not supporting the PSD2 SCA requirements. Many other payment providers including our partners at Checkout.com and Adyen have also updated their Magento extensions for Magento 1 and Magento 2 in line with PSD2.

 

 

Next steps to prepare for PSD2 

  1. Audit your website and make a list of your payment gateway providers.
  2. Consult with each payment gateway provider or your agency partner on the steps you need to take.
  3. Speak with your merchant bank to see if you need to take any additional measures.
  4. Work through the implementation process with your eCommerce agency.

 

Like all regulation, PSD2 brings new challenges, but with the right strategies in place, merchants can be compliant, help reduce fraud and offer secure payments. 

While preparing for SCA, we encourage merchants to follow good practice by keeping all extensions up to date and by ensuring they are compliant with their obligations under data security and GDPR.

 

To discuss PSD2 in more detail and get some peace of mind around what actions are required as a merchant, get in touch with our Professional Services team today.

UX and CRO Analyst joins our Professional Services team

An introduction to our Professional Services team and Q&A with UX and CRO Analyst, Adam.

Many agencies that work with clients follow a simple internal structure; you have your Creatives and Developers working their magic and a team of Account Managers and Project Managers managing the project tasks and communicating with the client. Ordinarily, it falls with the Project Managers to recommend optimisations and new opportunities, but while managing the day-to-day and agile sprint plans, this can sometimes prove challenging.

To tackle this problem and ensure we are actively exploring and recommending innovations and ways to achieve growth with our customers, we’ve introduced our Professional Services team. This newly formed team is currently made up of a Business Analyst, UX and CRO Analyst and Partner Manager. The Professional Services team are present during the roadmapping phase of a new project and on hand after the project goes live. Bringing their eCommerce knowledge and skillset to every project and working with best-of-breed technology partners, the team is fully dedicated to adding value to our work and achieving next-level growth for our customers. 

We caught up with Adam who recently joined the Professional Services team as UX and CRO Analyst to get all the details on how he’s finding it at AYKO and to give you some handy tips on how to improve your user experience and conversion rate.

Adam Leggott, UX and CRO Analyst at AYKO

What are some of the most common UX and CRO downfalls you see with projects?

I find that while projects are great at focusing on business needs and technical challenges or possibilities, the needs of the customer (user) can often be overlooked. “How will a real person use this?” is a question that is not asked enough, and this is something I hope to continue to help improve.

Does user experience (UX) and conversion rate optimisation (CRO) go hand in hand?

In many ways yes, a primary focus of UX is to help users achieve their goals as easily as possible, and in the case of eCommerce that is often to help users convert. However, that goal may be something else, and as such, UX has a broader responsibility, including considerations such as accessibility.

What is a simple way online retailers can improve their conversion rate?

Always consider the user – before making any design changes or introducing new features, be sure to consider if this is the best move for your user base. If in doubt, ask them!  After all, they are the ones who will ultimately be affected. 

Would you advise retailers to have a UX strategy at the beginning of a new project?

Absolutely! I believe that the user should always be front and centre of any product or service design, and this should be maintained not just at the start of a new project, but throughout the lifetime of any ongoing work.

How necessary is user testing when fine-tuning a customer journey? 

I would say that it is crucial; users will surface key functional issues that may require a rethink of how a page or feature works. The earlier this is caught, the less work will need to go through the design and development stages. 

In our industry, things are continually changing. Does this apply to UX and CRO methods?

To a degree, yes. Don Norman first wrote about user-centred design as a concept back in 1988, and many of those principles still apply today, but how we best service those principles are constantly evolving with emerging technologies. Heatmaps and screen recording feedback are just two examples of modern UX testing tools, and who knows how we will be tracking user behaviour five years from now?

What is the most rewarding part of your job, and what do you enjoy about working at AYKO?

Understanding how people use services and websites, and how we can make that smoother for them is truly fascinating. It involves an interesting mix of technical knowledge, empathy, and psychology. Being able to implement that also requires input and actions from a wide variety of talented individuals, and I am pleased to say that is something we have in abundance at AYKO.

Alongside offering this optimisation service to our current customers, our Professional Services team can also be hired on a consultancy basis to help eCommerce merchants reach their full potential and maximise their ROI. If you would like to chat with Adam or another member of our team, you can get in touch to request an open call back to discuss your next steps.

Want to improve your user experience and conversion rate? Our Professional Services team have a wealth of knowledge and experience and can identify opportunities within your eCommerce strategy and work with you to make these all-important optimisations.

The highlights from Meet Magento UK 2019

We recently attended Meet Magento UK and have brought you some of our content highlights from the day.

Meet Magento UK returned to the Mermaid, London 19th June to connect the Magento community for a day of learning and networking. With two talk tracks to choose from, Merchant Track and Technical Track, there was plenty of content around the latest innovations and trends and lots of practical takeaways for attendees. Unlike other Magento events such as Magento Imagine and MagentoLive Europe, this conference is completely community lead and organised by a Magento Solution Technology partner. 

The speakers include representatives from Magento and Adobe alongside merchants, other SI partners and third-party technologies. Here is a round-up of my talk highlights from the day:

 

Optimising Online Retail Performance

IMRG run a series of data studies analysing participant performance across a range of datasets to help retailers understand how they can optimise various areas of their eCommerce offering. 

Strategy and Insight Director at IMRG, Andy Mulcahy, analysed a set of data gathered from several online retailers and presented his findings to advise SI’s and merchants on how to best optimise the customer funnel and encourage conversions. On average, 56% of users that visit a website view a product page, 19% of these add to basket, and 58% of this number convert. So, based on IMRG findings, how can we reach that large percentage of users who are escaping the customer funnel?

Video – Despite video best practice being ill-defined currently, IMRG predicts that video, including catwalk videos and ‘how-to’ videos, have strong potential to increase customer engagement.

Similar product suggestions – Retailers with similar product suggestions, i.e. ‘Complete the look’, ‘Make an outfit of it’ or ‘Frequently bought together’ have higher than the average number of items per order.

Urgency messaging – Urgency messaging such as ‘Quick, selling out fast’ or ‘Only three left’ displayed on the product pages, is proven to be an effective way to increase the add to bag rate. However, IMRG predicts this will be regulated in the future due to a backlash from charities included mental health charities. 

Live Chat – According to IMRG, only 0.3% of total sessions use Live Chat, but for users that do, the conversion rate is considerably higher. Retailers should evaluate whether their product or service requires this functionality. 

Site search box – Customers who choose to use search are proven to be more engaged than an average user. Customers who use the site search box have a conversion rate of 7.4%, compared to the average conversion rate of 3.1%. IMRG found that their intent to purchase was far greater, and even showing them zero results doesn’t put them off!

From Bigamy to Polyamory: Managing Complex Agency Relationships

Meet Magento speaker Dan Coleman explained how eCommerce Managers and business owners often look to change agencies when projects are failing. However, it is often the inter-agency relationships that are failing, and the expense of replacing agencies can sometimes be avoided.

The majority of retailers will work with several agencies or third-parties, including their development agency, creative agency, eCommerce consultants and so on, however, retailers need all agencies to work together to meet their needs. Many companies think that the cure to this is all-agency calls, but Dan believes this is not the solution and went on to offer his recommendations. 

So, what should a retailer do to manage complex agency relationships?

  1. Understand your objectives (SMART objectives that all parties can understand).
  2. Communicate your objectives to all parties
  3. Get a feel for your current agency relationships (are payments sent on time, is there a communication structure or is communications ad hoc, are they offering you good value, do they push back?) and create a RACI chart (Responsibility Assignment Matrix).
  4. Own your reporting – take full responsibility for reporting and communicating it to all parties.

All of these actionable items can be applied almost immediately with little or no change to existing relationships, and in doing so, retailers will be able to use each of their agency’s strengths to ensure the appropriate structures are put in place before they become an issue.

 

Panel – Convert More Mobile Visitors to Buyers: Surprising Findings from a Magento Community Study

Studies completed by Mayborn Group (owners of Tommee Tippee and Gro Company) shown that 82% of their traffic was coming from mobile, while only 3% of these mobile visitors were converting. To target this, they took part in a mobile optimisation initiative with their eCommerce agency and measured their success by calculating the increase in revenue per visitor (RPV).

Running a series of tests, they were able to optimise the mobile experience and increase the revenue per visitor (RPV) by 8.3%. The tests included simple tweaks including collapsing the coupon and promotion fields, removing the wishlist feature, adding the PayPal express checkout shortcut, and removing breadcrumbs. 

To help improve your mobile strategy, and see more live mobile commerce experiments like the ones below, visit http://www.mobileoptimized.org/experiments/.

FLOWERBX – Scaling a Flower Disruptor

The next talk was from Technology Director at FLOWERBX, Kam Chovet, who talked us through the evolution of online flower retailer and Magento merchant, FLOWERBX. Kam discussed the key areas that have helped FLOWERBX scale since its inception in 2015.

‘Last mile’ logistics – It was interesting to hear how flowers are a ‘last-minute business’ and how vital a slimmed-down supply chain is to ensure flowers last longer once they reach the consumer. As flowers are a living product, speed to market plus how the flowers are then transported to their final destination is super important. Focusing on their ‘last mile’ logistics, FLOWERBX tested various handling and packaging methods to identify the best third-party solution. They also wanted to offer excellent communication to customers throughout the process, so worked on an integration with their delivery process.

Subscription models – After seeing the success of some of the product ranges, FLOWERBX introduced a flower subscription model which encourages high customer loyalty at low-cost acquisition. Founder of FLOWERBX, Whitney Bromberg Hawkings wanted to encourage B2C customers to consider flowers as an everyday necessity like groceries, simplifying the ordering process and also offering convenience for her B2B customers including fashion retailers, hotels and VIPs.  

A scalable eCommerce platform – Working as a lean organisation of just 50 people, FLOWERBX wanted a simple and scalable eCommerce solution. Magento 2.3 allows FLOWERBX to create a multi-currency store, rather than multiple stores and enables them to repurpose their strong imagery. 

It was great to hear how FLOWERBX have grown since operating from a single location in London in 2017 to operating in 21 locations in Europe and recently opening a New York base in 2019.

 

Alongside some great talks, the team at JH and the Meet Magento UK sponsors put a lot of effort into making the day run as smoothly as possible. If you didn’t manage to make it to the event or just wanted to recap, I hope you enjoyed my Meet Magento UK highlights and thank you for reading. 

 

With a team of over 80 eCommerce professionals including 32 Magento 2 certified developers, we’re the largest and most experience Magento Solution Partner in the UK.
If you require assistance with a Magento project, get in touch with one of our experts today.

Three leading agencies unite to form full-service digital eCommerce powerhouse, AYKO

Same aspirations. Collectively better. AYKO is a collaboration of two specialist development agencies, Two Jay and Vortex and digital marketing agency, Eralis. Together, as a full-service digital agency, we craft and grow market-leading eCommerce experiences with ingenuity, innovation and imagination.

AYKO: The ingredients to success

Mergers can often be difficult, but we think we’ve found the perfect recipe. Here are the core ingredients and reasons we decided to put our bold plans into motion:

  • AYKO is a collaboration of equals. All three agencies are founder-led, award-winning and have a credible and robust presence in their own right.
  • The three teams compliment each other and have minimal crossover in terms of individual roles. Where one agency was lacking the other overcompensates, which means we can offer the same services plus expand our offering.
  • We have the same ambition and desire to truly serve the whole complexity of customer’s needs and offer an end-to-end seamless eCommerce experience.

Having met within the eCommerce ecosphere several years ago, Jamie Jackson (Founder and former Director at Two Jay) and James Hyett (Co-founder and former Commercial Director at Vortex and Eralis) recently began discussions to take their businesses to the next level. Working together to ensure the companies were a good fit before making the final leap.

When the time came for the idea to be presented company-wide, there was no denying the perfect culture fit and chemistry between the board of Directors, who also include Bruce Mead (AYKO CTO and former co-founder at Vortex and Eralis) and Steven Morris (AYKO CCO and former Director at Two Jay). Behind the scenes, the three teams have been busy working together preparing the brand for launch and have been very much looking forward to sharing the news with customers, partners and friends.

“Whilst the two agencies work in the same industry, we have previously focused our efforts on different sectors. In doing so, we have honed different skills and services, ensuring each is an expert in their field. This has meant the merger and strategic decisions have fallen into place quickly, as there is trust in the counterparts’ understanding and practical application of services in their respective areas. Independently, we saw the next stage of growth and were able to highlight weaknesses. It became clear that their journeys to date could be advanced significantly with cumulative effort in one entity. Seven years on from the formation of Vortex, with many lessons learnt and sacrifices made; I see this as the perfect balance of individuals and skills to help us realise our collective goals both personally and professionally.”

– JAMES HYETT, AYKO CBO

Meet the AYKO Directors


Left to right: Jamie Jackson (CEO), James Hyett (CBO), Colin Tickle (CTO, India), Bruce Mead (CTO) and Steven Morris (CCO)

Benefits for our customers

The benefits for our customers are endless as it gives them wider access to our team of industry experts, including eCommerce consultants, certified developers, UX specialists, digital marketers and performance analysts. Our new team architecture will better serve our customers end-to-end while our pricing will remain competitive.

We currently have six city locations including Manchester, Leeds, London, Sheffield, Dublin and Nagpur, with expansion plans to open further offices worldwide. Connecting with more retailers and partners and maintaining positive face-to-face relationships.

As a company, our vision is more ambitious, but our promise to create excellent eCommerce solutions remains the same; as does our commitment to deliver the highest quality service with passion and integrity.

“Being part of an innovative agency which supports all aspects of eCommerce is very exciting for ourselves and our customers. We’re now the largest Magento Solution Partner in the UK and have big plans to accelerate our global expansion. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what the future holds for AYKO.”
– JAMIE JACKSON, AYKO CEO

AYKO soft launch at eCommerce Show North

Excited to share the announcement with our customers, partners and friends, we launched AYKO at eCommerce Show North ahead of its official launch date of June 1st. We have so far been delighted by the positive response we have received and are very much looking forward to sharing more news and updates as they arise.

Are you feeling inspired? If you like our rebrand and are feeling inspired, we’d love to hear from you. From strategic advice to design, development, and implementation, we offer a complete Branding service to get your idea into motion. Get in touch with a member of our team today to see how we could help kick start your journey.