Selling online is a great subject to write about as it is constantly changing and evolving. Each month new start-up businesses bring in new ideas. There are lots of opportunities to improve your online business for B2B or B2C. If you have any questions about eCommerce try our FAQs and Ideas Center or just send us a comment or email.
It was coming up to our end of week team meeting on a quiet afternoon in August 2015. Discussions were about what the weekend would be like with everyone looking forward to winding down and how we would spend our family time. Somewhere thousands of kilometres away someone had a different idea (ominous music plays).
It all started as a blip on the radar with our incoming data charts starting to show excessive activity. That is not necessarily unusual as we often see spikes in activity. However before long we knew the prolonged and aggressive spikes meant a potential attack. Then the phone calls and emails from our customers started to roll in and the rest of the weekend went downhill fast…
What started as a Friday prelude to the week end was an attack that lasted (on and off) for over a week. It impacted most of our customers’ websites, it was a large attack that was relentless. It disrupted customers and cost a great deal in time and money before it was eventually beaten. No one asked for money, there was no vulnerability uncovered, it was done solely as a business disruption.
Starting an online store or business, or extending your bricks and mortar business online can be a real challenge for many people and is much more complex than most new business owners understand. There are lots of forums where the general feedback will tell you how easy it is to build you website and sell online. How often do you see: “Your products will sell because you have a great looking website! Customers will just turn up and buy from you! You can do it all for free!”
Well sorry to tell you, but it is all basically rubbish!
Right now there is a lot of speculation that retail in Australia will be impacted negatively by international eCommerce players like Amazon. The general view seems to be that retail is under threat and there is nothing that we can do!
We aren't convinced that this is true! Retail has undergone several evolutions in the last 50 years and if anything the market has always got bigger and better each time. The retailers who embraced the changes and accessed the new opportunities flourished, while those that resisted missed out (or went bust).
Each stolen record costs retailers USD$172 on average in the event of a data breach, according to the latest Cost of Data Breach Study, the gold-standard benchmark conducted by the Ponemon Institute – and this figure is on the rise. Cyber security should therefore be front-and-centre for any business operating on the Internet, and we are regularly asked to advise on how to manage and mitigate the risks of operating online.
Wanted to share a few of the podcasts that I’m listening to/find interesting at the moment.
I’ve always loved the podcast format, as you can consume information, tips or stories in easily digestible chunks while leaving your hands free for other things. Whether it be your daily commute, an hour at the gym or your daily picking and packing time, I’ve always found a podcast to be a good way to add a layer of additional productivity to your "free" time.
Listed below are a few podcasts that contain interesting information, tips and tricks for online retailers, as well as a few random ones that I’m listening to at the moment in case you are looking for something else to fill some time.
All of these are available via iTunes if you search for the names below (as well as from their own sites as linked).
This is a question that we get asked regularly. Many people are striving for extra income or may have some extra time on their hands to give it a go. We also see people starting multiple businesses and expanding the products and services that they offer.
New customers may call in and ask "what do you suggest that I sell online?" This can be a difficult conversation as starting a business without a product probably means that there is no business plan and the likely outcome will not be good.
Every year we hear of stories about retailers who leave the preparations for the Holiday sales and Christmas to the last minute and then wonder why they don't do well. Christmas is the biggest retail sales time of the year for the vast majority of businesses. Sales increases related to holiday spending start around late September and peak late November to early December. There are heaps of issuses to think about so start early.
This year it is expected that the latest that you will be able to order online and expect delivery before Christmas will be Tuesday 20th December for most Australian deliveries. Australia Post have already advised for the international sea-mail cutoff dates however they have yet to announce the Australian dates.
Our advice to make the most from the opportunity of great retail holiday sales is to plan and prepare now. How long does it take you to pick, pack and ship? That will determine the last date for selling online and delivering by Christmas. Remember there may be backlogs in delivery so check with your shipping agent. What are the peak number of orders that you can handle each day and still get the deliveries out? Maybe you need some temporary staff to help you get through the holiday rush.
Being prepared is as simple as asking a few simple questions about your business.
Every year Christmas is the dominant retail sales period in Australia and New Zealand if not worldwide. Worldwide trends have been favourable for online shopping and the latest can provide some new confidence for online sellers. The trend is for more people to buy online being driven by many factors and this is unlikely to slow.
It might be a good time to review your overall eCommerce strategy and to look at how you can develop a more successful online business.
You can take some time to consider how you will deal with;
Spending a little time developing your plan and strategy can deliver better short and long term sales results and higher margins. It might also be a good time to look at promotional micro-sites to target the Christmas traffic.
Buying online for Christmas starts as early as September but the real peak starts from late-November. This year we will expect to see a busy and a longer buying period. The after Christmas, New Years sales, will still be important to sell off overstocked items at bargain prices.
Simple strategies to improve sales and conversions:
Check you website on your mobile
Over 50% of your potential buyers will come via a mobile this year. That might mean you can get more sales and more profit if those visitors can find and buy a product on a mobile. Don't expect your website to look the same on a mobile as a laptop or tablet. Your website needs to be mobile friendly. eCorner websites are mobile friendly but if you have not checked and optimised your content for mobiles it might need some work.
So what do we mean by structured content and how does it improve how your website or online store appear in search engines?
Search engines like Google look for clues in your content to the meaning of the page and the importance of content in the page. These can often be referred to as "snippets" and Google provide great advice on best practice.
These are just some of the hundreds, or thousands, of messages that you will receive offering dodgy SEO services. Today was a record for spam emails offering SEO. They come in different styles and from different places but they are all SPAM and all SCAMS.
"Guaranteed 1st place on Google"
"Your website will rank higher than your competitors"
"1st place results for your top ten keywords"
"Affordable SEO proposal"
Digital Marketing can best be described as using online channels, social media and mobile devices to get your promotions and message to the internet based audience. Every business needs to market products, services and offers in order to get the message to the consumers and other businesses that will engage with them. Marketing has taken many forms and been around for a long time.
Lots of people see the world of marketing as exposed by ACM hit television series, Mad Men. A classic quote from that show was;
"Make it simple, but significant.",
attributed to Don Draper aka Donald Francis
Marketing has expended its boundaries into the digital world and a whole new set of opportunities and pitfalls has resulted. The ability to understand and to utilise the vast array of digital properties and venues has become incredibly competitive and also expensive. So it is important to get the most out of the digital marketing budget. Just throwing money at a single channel without having a planned promotion may mean the costs are far greater than the returns.
Engaging your digital audience is essential if you want your digital promotions to succeed. Make it simple but significant!
Engagement using games has long been understood as a great learning tool. There have been 10,000's of pages written on the subject and I am sure that you remember learning games at school.
As early as kindergarten children are introduced to new subjects through games. It is a combination of engagement, opportunity, challenge, competition and reward that makes games work. There is a good article on this at Common Sense Media by Kathleen Costanza.
In recent years we have been hearing a lot about Gamification.
In Wikipedia it is described as:
The use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems and increase users' self contributions.
Gamification can be applied to all types of areas where we want to get better user engagement. You can find a great case study about how Deloitte made learning a game in the Harvard Business Review.
In a recent report that was published in Europe it was found how promotions engage today’s consumers and how they can be used to best effect in marketing campaigns. It draws on the views of 2,000 consumers in the UK on what they look for in online retailer promotions, and compares what they say they respond to versus what they actually respond to.
Consumers expect and appreciate online promotions – interesting data points:
From a customer perspective, one of the benefits of shopping online is that you can research to your heart’s desire, whenever you want to and wherever you happen to be. Whatever you are looking for, the internet offers a broad array of choice and an easy way to find the best deal out there.
What this means for retailers is that customers are increasingly accustomed to expecting to find some kind of offer when shopping. This is to the point where many will typically only make a purchase when an offer or promotion is involved. Research found this is the case for as many as 50% of consumers. In fact, this number rises to 60% for anyone under the age of 45, with those aged 25 to 34 being the most likely age group to look for an offer.
So how can we engage more effectively with consumers using our digital marketing?
The answer might be "Gamification" or Smart Promotions from Rapid Campaign.
eCorner has partnered with Rapid Campaign to bring Smart Promotions to eCorner's customers. Rapid Campaign began in 2010 and are leaders in the use of gamification in digtal marketing. They focus on creating engaging digital marketing campaigns quickly and easily.
By enabling game theory and using it in your marketing you can get a greater engagement with consumers visiting your offers. This can be accomplished through competitions that challenge and reward the consumer and lead them to use the promotion that you offer. The promotion might be a unique coupon code or a special incentive as a prize. This approach has been referred to as Smart Promotions.
What we know is that games mean better engagement and faster adoption of offers and ideas.
There was a recent blog published on LemonStand that explored how Smart Promotions helped to improve conversion rates.
Do Promotions Really Increase Your eCommerce Conversion Rates? - by Rob Brooks (March 4th 2015).
His summary was simple.
Don’t think of promotions as a quick gimmick to garner attention around a specific product; they are so much more than that. Think of promotions as enticing and encouraging your customers all the way...
Smart Promotions are digital marketing offers that use a game to engage the audience. The game might vary depending on the type of promption for example a Digital Scratch Card promotion where the person receiving the promotion might win a prize or offer. But there are many others like Wheel of Fortune, Image Voting and Prize Draws to name a few.
Smart promotions are enabled on all types of devices and can be sent via email in a Newsletter or can be added to Facebook or as a mobile app. If you are running a website or an online store then you can embed Smart Promotions in to a page in the website.
Embeding Smart Promotions is done simply using an iFrame. This is a small snippet of code that is put into the HTML code in the page where you want the Smart Promotion to appear. You use the HTML edit mode in ePages to add the iFrame.
You can also add your Smart Promotions to your ePages Newsletter simply by embedding the iFrame in your newsletter code using HTML edit mode.
eCorner will be hosting a Webinar at GoTo Webinar on Tuesday 28th April at 4:00 PM (AEST).
Laura Laamanen, CMO of RapidCampaign, is an expert in the use of gamification and smart promotions. She will show how gamification and smart promotions drive sales by reducing drop-offs in your purchase funnel and convert your visitors to customers. She will discuss some of the finding from the UK survey of over 2,000 consumers.
RapidCampaign have quickly become the market leaders in the development and use of smart promotions for digital marketing.
In a multi-channel world with a huge online retail marketplace, consumers are totally spoiled for choice.
Your best chance of reaching them is by:
Using smart promotions and gamification in your marketing campaigns will result in better consumer engagement and higher conversion rates.
Are you ready to play - get started with our special offer valid until End of Financial Year 2015
Get a free coaching call to build highly impact promotions (value $399.00)
The special offer includes a one-to-one coaching call on smart promotion types, winning settings and best practices along with implementation support.