Between 2010 and 2012 the number of online retail stores in Australia increased by over 200 percent, compared with 46 percent in the US and Canada and 79 percent in the UK, Australian Financial Review 28 June, 2013. The 2012 PwC and Frost & Sullivan ‘Australian online shopping market and digital insights’ report has also released a number of interesting findings about the rate of growth in online retail. Most notably this report predicts that by 2016 Australian online shopping expenditure will be worth $26.9 billion ($13.6 billion 2011 and $16.3 billion 2012) with a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 14.1%.
Structurally, retailing is changing across the globe. There are a number of key factors that are contributing to these changes:
- Growth in number of ‘pure play’ online retailers;
- Increasing number of manufacturers going directly to the consumer;
- Continual growth in consumers using mobile devices to browse and purchase products;
- Rapid decline in freight rates and flexibility in freight options. The trend is now rapidly moving towards ‘same day delivery’.
- People are couch shopping via mobile devices (sales from ipads are up 362% in two years, sales from iphones are up 377% and sales from androids are up 345%).
The recent depreciation in the Australian dollar will make it interesting in terms of consumer behaviour. Retail shopping will be impacted for both those purchasing from overseas sites and for Australian retailers importing products, so my prediction is that the decline in the Australian dollar is going to be a relatively neutral experience for most online retailers.
If you are serious about improving sales from your online store then you need to start looking at the experience your users are having at every point of contact with you. Our Neto eCommerce team are constantly reviewing the ‘useability experience’ of our platform for both our Clients and for our Clients Customer’s, that is, the end user shopper. Here are 10 ideas for you to look at implementing to your online store if you have not already done so:
- Have an ‘instant messenger chat facility’ that can assist shoppers as they are searching your site or are the check out?
- How easy is your shopping cart to use for your customers - “Easy writing is hard reading and Easy reading is hard writing!” Sure, some shopping carts are very simple for you as the online retailer to use but do they offer the level of ‘User Experience’ you really want your customers to have or that they are expecting? It is a good idea to mystery shop your own site.
- Have you linked your site to an email marketing platform such as www.netomail.com.au? By doing so you can track what products your customers are purchasing, what products they are browsing and personalise your marketing campaign to exactly reflect their past purchasing patterns and to suggest other products they might be interested in.
- Have you implemented a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) campaign?
- Is your ‘opt in offer’ optimally positioned on your site? Gathering and building your customers and more importantly really, potential customers email addresses is critical to improving your ability to personalise campaigns and to stay in touch with your customers.
- Are you offering ‘repeat customer loyalty’ such as coupons or discount vouchers?
- Find ways to build ‘trust’ in you and your site. Successful online retailing is definitely about building trust with your customers. How does your purchasing behaviour react when buying online? Are you prepared to go with an online retailer you have not heard of before or do you seek out a major brand (maybe a large bricks and mortar retailer who has an online presence)? What additional research do you do about an online retailer you have not heard of before? This is where testimonials, user reviews, options for freight carriers and for example instant messenger all help to build your credibility and trust.
- Ensure you are carrying out some ‘split testing’. Everyone is learning in the online space but those who are learning more about their customers and faster than their competitors are the ones that are splitting their customers into two groups and testing different headlines, different photography styles, different product descriptions and different page placements for example. A good site to start with would be www.optimizely.com.
- ‘Multi-channelling through eBay’ – eBay is the largest online market place in Australia and if you are not selling on it you are missing opportunities. www.listandsend.com.au is software designed to make eBay management and shipping seamless.
- ‘Comparison Shopping Website Feeds’ are a great way to get more customers to your website. The Neto platform already allows you to create inventory feeds in virtually any format from which you can then supply your inventory to any comparison shopping website, http://support.neto.com.au/kb/articles/30-comparison-shopping-website-feeds.
Do not underestimate the growth yet to come in online retail. Getting online is only the first step, the space is getting more crowded and successful online retailing is now about ‘doing 1,000 things 1% better than your competitors, rather than looking for the 1 thing you can do 1,000% better than your competitors.”