eCommerce News New Zealand logo
The latest digital commerce news for Kiwi businesses
Story image

Two redesigns, one winner: Tailoring processes to customer preferences

By Sara Barker
Wed 22 Aug 2018
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Go to Take a look back at the beauty of the internet circa 1996. We may reminisce about our past selves, amazed we ever engaged with such primitive digital experiences. Yet we still do in many ways. Most companies hesitate to iterate and bring their digital products to the cutting edge through ongoing improvements and redesign.

For a product redesign to be successful, a meticulous rollout is required, coupled with a thorough understanding of your customer base. A start-from-scratch mindset and the naive thought that a bold change will unlock customer potential can lead to data-poor, untested decisions that end badly. This approach often causes the benefit of the upgrade or redesign to be lost, replaced by confused and frustrated customers.

The aim instead is to assemble a redesign which is thoroughly tested through experimentation and iteration and caters to consumer preferences.

Netflix tries to chill

Netflix experienced backlash in late 2011 when it restructured its offering by splitting its DVD and streaming businesses, while raising the price of its most valuable streaming offering. Angry subscribers abandoned the company in droves, revenue missed estimates and the stock plunged.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings scrambled to reverse the planned split (bar the price increase) once he realised their mistake, and apologised soon after. While Netflix prides itself on its analytical, data-driven approach to making decisions, they made the common mistake of underestimating the unquantifiable emotions of subscribers. Hastings admitted to being guilty of overconfidence and “moving too quickly”, claiming that he was unsure whether the changes had actually been presented to customer focus groups before they were made public.

Despite Hastings’ immediate damage control, the public relations disaster remained ongoing for years following, with thousands of emails pouring in from angry and disappointed customers. Hastings acknowledged that there were “no shortcuts”, and that Netflix would need to earn their customer’s trust back by being steady and disciplined. And so they did - Netflix managed to orchestrate their transformation using their ability to both scale and captivate consumers, along with operational excellence, to bounce back with a slow infusion of their changes.

The storm was rough -  Netflix’s stock price plummeted and erased more than $11 billion in shareholder wealth in a year. Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos was certain however that the company would “bounce back”, and so they did - the proof in the pudding being the rise in Netflix’s share price. By the end of the first quarter of 2012, the subscriber exodus had subsided and began to show slow but steady improvement.

The Google way

Another tech giant to hit the headlines with a major redesign was Google, with its much anticipated redesign of Gmail earlier this year that demonstrated a more tempered approach to changing a digital product experience.

Gmail users waited with anticipation as it launched its brand refresh, which had remained largely unchanged since 2011. With 1.4 billion users, Google prioritised communication, stressing that the roll out was in “draft phase” before anything became finalised. The update was deployed meticulously, eliminating the risk of an outage or a customer insurrection.

Unlike Netflix, Google was cautious not to risk alienating its vast user base, ensuring that the redesign had only the necessary improvements and logical extensions that the Gmail product needed. Jacob Bank, lead product manager for Gmail, said that the changes focused on “making people safer and more productive.” While the redesign will prove itself over time, initial feedback from customers has been one of resounding support.

The measured steps that Google took in upgrading its offering across its services ensured that customers not only benefited from a better version of their product, but prevented mishaps and frustration along the way. This is reflected in Google’s rating on YouGov BrandIndex, which states that 77% of user sentiment is positive.

From “build, launch, pay” to “build, experiment, iterate”

A successful redesign can be attributed to three factors, of which Netflix achieved half, and Google managed to tick all boxes.

First, the company needs to establish a “testing batch” - the portion of consumers that trial a new design, venting their frustrations freely and assessing the usability of the various features. It can start with just 1 percent of users, with the team addressing any problems encountered before proceeding to the next batch, which might consist of 25 percent of users - gradually increasing to 100 percent.

Once you move past focus groups, these test users become so vast and varied that their insights can only be harnessed via experimentation technologies. If you’re trying to assess efficacy across hundreds, thousands, or in the case of Google, billions of users, you need to approach testing with a statistically rigorous methodology and underlying technology.

Secondly, supporting the testing batches is a dedicated, around-the-clock product and engineering team. It is imperative that the team takes on the feedback, rapidly prototypes, iterates, and supports users through new processes. Using techniques like session recordings, product analytics, bug/feature requests, and app performance data to ensure that your team is focusing on the biggest areas of risk and improvement is also hugely effective.

Finally, consider your long term strategy; the aim here is to provide users with an experience tailored to their evolving consumer preferences. Once the initial stages of the rollout have passed and you have successfully provided immediate access to the most important and relevant capabilities, continue to iterate. The lines between product beta and general availability are being continually blurred. Understand that launch day is day zero for your customers.

By reverting to your long term integration strategy and constantly asking if your product is the best version of itself, your redesigns will, in turn, become necessary and targeted. More so, with the right method in place you’ll avoid a Netflix disaster, instead creating a controlled and satisfying Google-like rollout that keeps customers happy and your service at its prime.

Article by Optimizely managing director A/NZ, Dan Ross.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Tablets & laptops
Chromebook and tablet shipments see another rapid decline for the year
According to research from Canalys PC Analysis, Chromebook and tablet shipments have fallen for the fourth quarter in a row for Q2 of 2022.
Story image
Google NZ numbers show strong comprehensive profit increase
The latest financial report from Google New Zealand Limited has revealed an increase in total comprehensive profit of over $NZD 7 million.
Story image
Financial results
Facebook NZ financial report reveals notable revenue increase
Revenue from contracts with customers increased by $NZD 1,089,292 compared to 2020's figures.
Story image
OfficeMax NZ sees significant growth through Seismic partnership
OfficeMax New Zealand has announced it has seen a significant increase in customer and sales confidence as a result of Seismic’s digital enablement software.
Story image
BNZ launches first tap-on-phone point of sale app in NZ
Bank of New Zealand has launched BNZ Pay, an innovative mobile app for retailers that transforms an Android device into a contactless payment terminal. 
Story image
Freshworks integrates with Google's Business Messages
"The integration with Freshworks makes it fast and easy for businesses to have conversations with their customers within the Google apps."
Story image
Tranxactor Group to build customer loyalty with Oracle
Tranxactor has chosen Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) with Enterprise Database Service to allow it to provide brands with immersive customer engagement and loyalty programs.
Story image
Social Media
ActiveCampaign reveals consumers seek trusthworthy content
Consumers will engage with new brands across all channels, including online, in-store and social media, as long as the content is relevant and trustworthy.
Story image
Hands-on review: Jabra Engage 55 wireless headset
We get our hands on a German design professional headset that many knowledge workers could benefit from.
Story image
Digital key for smart investment in public infrastructure for NZ cities
Major public infrastructure projects can better manage risks of cost overruns and delays if they deploy data and digital tools at the earliest planning stages.
Story image
eCommerce fraud increasing pressure on businesses margins
It is vital for businesses to maximise the value of every dollar by turning away as many fraudulent actors as possible without blocking good customers."
Story image
Sitecore caters to modern marketing teams with CMS cloud launch
"Sitecore's move towards a composable SaaS offering for creating and delivering digital experiences is in line with what marketing teams are looking for.”
Story image
Airwallex launches an online payments app on Shopify
Airwallex has launched an online payments app on Shopify, allowing merchants to integrate a gateway plugin on their online store to accept payments from their global customers.
Story image
Robotic Process Automation / RPA
Western Union implements intelligent automation programme from SS&C Blue Prism and ISG
Western Union has successfully implemented a strategic intelligent automation programme from SS&C Blue Prism and its certified partner, ISG.
Story image
FedEx and eBay team up to boost APAC eCommerce options
FedEx Express' new alliance with eBay enables eBay sellers in APAC to sign up for a FedEx account and access the full spectrum of FedEx e-commerce delivery service options at competitive rates.
Story image
How manufacturers can respond to rapid change with technology
Disruption, innovation, and continual refinement of shop floor processes are driving factors in today’s complex market landscape. 
Story image
Marketplacer and Intelligent Reach to help retailers sell online
Intelligent Reach can now support Marketplacer marketplaces that want to sell their products through other places, such as Google and Facebook, eBay and Amazon.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Understanding modern retail through the Gen Z filter
Retailers face the challenge of managing their own digital transformation while also scrambling to serve the needs of a younger and increasingly online-savvy audience.
Story image
InternetNZ appoints new chief executive. Will take over in October
InternetNZ has announced the appointment of its new chief executive, with Vivien Maidaborn taking over the role from interim chief Andrew Cushen in October.
Story image
Commerce Commission
The NZ TCF endorses move by ComCom to promote TDR dispute scheme
The New Zealand Telecommunications Forum has welcomed the move by the Commerce Commission to further promote customers' access to the Telecommunications Dispute Resolution Scheme (TDR).
Story image
Microsoft and Auckland Transport announce new cloud agreement
Auckland Transport (AT) and Microsoft have announced a new cloud agreement aimed at promoting innovation, reducing costs and improving sustainability in transport services.
Story image
Enterprise Resource Planning / ERP
Why the right ERP (and partner) is crucial to an innovative and successful business
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is a foundational step to ensuring a robust business model; here's why choosing the right one could be vital to ensuring long-term success and innovative results.
Story image
Cost of fraud up 10 to 16% in APAC from pre-pandemic levels
LexisNexis Risk Solutions released the latest APAC edition of the True Cost of Fraud Study, which surveyed 387 risk and fraud executives.
Story image
SAS is a leader in anti-money laundering - Forrester
The latest Forrester report revealed that SAS received the highest score in the anti-money laundering category of 15 vendors.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Cyara rolls out comprehensive, automated chatbot feature
Cyara has unveiled new chatbot testing features with the latest release of Cyara Botium, creating a solution for comprehensive, automated chatbot testing and assurance.
Story image
Facial recognition
Māori data specialists not consulted on facial recognition technology - data sovereignty expert
Māori data specialists are accusing the government of ignoring them while going ahead and expanding the reach of facial recognition technology.
Story image
Cisco NZ revenue declines by over $18.5 million - report
Cisco NZ has released its latest financial report, showing the company's total revenue has declined by more than $18.5 million year-over-year.
Story image
Havas Media Group
Havas solution meets critical time as brands shift to online sales
Havas Media Group says its Havas Market solution provides businesses with a strategic full-service eCommerce offering at a time when sales are increasingly moving online.
Story image
KICKS CREW selects Forter to help scale global eCommerce operations
KICKS CREW has selected Forter to help scale its global digital commerce operations.
Story image
Remote Working
Mantel Group continues NZ expansion with Auckland office
"Our desire is to offer real understanding to our New Zealand clients, and help provide solutions that better their business.” 
Story image
UNIQLO operator chooses Adyen for multiple market payments
The operator of UNIQLO, Fast Retailing, has selected Adyen to power payments for its in-store and online checkout in multiple markets.
Story image
IBM NZ sees significant revenue increase in latest report
IBM NZ has posted revenue of $172,449,000 for the financial year, according to its latest report, a year-over-year increase of over $47.5 million compared to $124,904,000 in 2020.
Story image
Forter and ShopBack enhance partnership to further prevent fraud
Forter and ShopBack have enhanced their partnership with the addition of better eCommerce security solutions for customers.
Story image
Digital Journey
NICE unveils new CXone capabilities with latest release
NICE has announced the Summer 2022 release of CXone, which adds new capabilities that enhance journey orchestration and complete performance.
Story image
Comedy legend Jimeoin fronts Epson advertising campaign in NZ and Australia
According to Epson the company’s EcoTank models now account for 74% of all printers sold in the category in New Zealand, alone.
Story image
Customer experience
BillingPlatform introduces new enhancements to revenue management services
Some of the new developments include hosted payment pages, and new and updated connectors to Salesforce, NetSuite, OneSource, Avalara and other enterprise systems.
Story image
Customer experience
Why scalable networks are key to delivering consumer-centric outcomes
To be consumer-centric, an organisation must have IT infrastructure that adopts the strategy of the 'infinite enterprise'. Extreme Networks explains.
Story image
Infobip’s SMS and WhatsApp services are now available through Microsoft
Infobip has integrated its WhatsApp and SMS channels through Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
How to overcome the digital experience dilemma - NICE
While self-service solutions can provide major benefits, live voice and chat interactions are still an important part of customer service that continue to need support and investment.
Story image
New Zealand
Research finds Kiwis prefer real backdrops in video calls
New research from Natural Paint Co. has found that 74% of Kiwis prefer seeing a natural background behind people during video meetings.
Story image
Akamai research finds PayPal security measures utilised in new phishing scam
New research from Akamai has found that a new threat actor is parasitising benign WordPress sites to execute an extensive PayPal phishing scam.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Oracle unveils AI-powered application to automate sales
Oracle has unveiled the next generation of Fusion Sales, an application that automates sales and identifies the opportunities worth pursuing.