Australian retailers, small to large, are embracing the digital space as quickly as consumers are changing their shopping habits. Traditional brick retailers are moving to digital, digital moving to physical and plenty of innovation is occurring whilst the online marketplace heats up.
Surveys are showing that Australian consumers are continually embracing online as a retail platform, and there’s no sign of this slowing down. According to National Australia Bank’s (NAB) latest Online Retail Sales Index, Australian consumers spent a record $16.6 billion online in the year to January 2015, up 9 per cent year-on-year.
National retailers, such as Dick Smith, who reported a 55% increase in online sales in 2014, to a reported $693 million, are finding competition in pure online retailers, such as The Iconic, with $31 million in 2013 sales, or the Kogan empire, which has cemented itself as a price driven destination.
Whilst this is all taking place, with traditional brick based retailers making a splash into the digital space, the reverse is also true. Online retailers such as Shoes of Prey are moving from clicks to bricks, opening stores in Australia (David Jones Sydney and Westfield Bondi Junction) and 6 stores in the United States, under Nordstrom.
So how do you stand apart from your competitors in the digital space in 2015? Here are five areas that smart retailers are embracing to ensure they grow their customer base.
Retail in the pocket
Mobile based commerce (mCommerce) is soaring in Australia; the proliferation of smart phones means that consumers are reaching into their pockets, not just to price compare whilst in physical shopping centres, but also from their couches or on the bus; tens of millions of dollars are being spent each month by Australians, straight from their pockets.
If your digital storefront isn’t mobile optimised, you will be missing out on sales; add Google’s recent ranking changes to favour mobile websites, and you’ll be crazy not to be working on making the mobile experience as great as possible, and right now.
Whilst retailers are busy gaining an audience in social media, the smartest ones are utilising the advertising platforms within Twitter, Facebook and other social media to reach out to consumers. According to hosted ecommerce provider, Shopify, in 2014 alone, ecommerce orders coming from social media grew a whopping 202%. The advertising platforms are allowing retailers to target consumers by city, state and interests, meaning that it is easier than ever to find consumers in your segment and market directly to them.
Online advertising budgets don’t need to be massive either; some campaigns are literally just in the hundreds of dollars per month, and seeing great results for a small outlay.
Once you have a consumer on your website, how do you convert them into a customer? The rise of conversion optimisation techniques, such as testing small design or content variations, means that it’s not enough to just publish a store; now you need to constantly look at improvements to turn traffic to customers.
We’ve run tests and found that even the smallest of changes, such as button colours or product titles, can have a positive effect, upwards of 10% or more in sales.
Offer fulfilment options
Large supermarkets are finding that customers want an option to collect and not wait for deliveries, which can lead to wasted hours at home. It’s now simple to order your groceries online and then drive past a physical store to pick up their orders, saving the retailer delivery costs and the consumer wasted time.
Couple that with the rise in faster delivery options, with a number of pure digital retailers now setting the pace of delivery, offering same day delivery or next day as the default. Gone are the days of waiting patiently for days for products to arrive.
Look at your current methods of fulfilment; do you have the ability to offer multiple options without negatively impacting current fulfilment strategies?
The power of email
It’s easy to forget that email is still a favoured medium. Smart retailers are using personalisation and segmentation to ensure they send regular emails to their customers, and making them highly effective by being personal and relevant.
Ensure you segment your customers into product lines and buying patterns, and make your emails a joy to read; even receipts and delivery tracking emails can convert to more sales, if done correctly.
Couple these fives strategies above with your current digital retail plans and you’ll be ensuring success in the year ahead. I wish you the best of luck as we move into the second half of the year!
Miles Burke is an accomplished entrepreneur and has been involved in digital marketing since 1995. Miles is Managing Director of award-winning digital agency Bam Creative, a regular speaker at conferences and events, and the founder of tech start-up, 6Q. Previously, Miles was the National Chairperson of the Australian Web Industry Association, and once upon a time worked a decade in retail management.