Reasons for an e-Commerce website10-May-2011 Online retailing has come of age, and its serious business. When web-based retailing has been growing at 20% a year or more for the past decade, and other retailing channels are showing modest or no growth, it's no surprise that retailers are focusing more than ever on their multichannel strategy, and are shifting more of their budgets towards enhancing their online channel.
Internet shopping in Australia is expected to top $18 billion* in 2009, and that's not including in-store sales influenced by consumers researching their purchases online. At a time when store sales have declined in Australia, online retailing is bucking the trend and experiencing exceptionally strong growth - one of the few industries to do so in this current economic climate.
Online only Web merchants have long understood the enormous potential of e-retailing, and now with a rise in traffic and sales online, bricks and mortar retailers will be investing more in the one channel where sales and profits are increasing.
*Source: IBISWorld (2008) Online Shopping & Mail Order Houses in Australia
Below are some interesting statistics on the behavior of visitors to Bricks and Mortar websites from Hitwise. http://www.hitwise.com.au
- Bricks and Mortar Retailers are winning the online battle: Visits to Bricks and Mortar Retailers by Australian Internet users attracted year-on-year growth of 19.2% in December 2008; in contrast to a decline in visits of 7.7% to Online Retailers.
- Appliances and Electronics is the fastest growing retail category: Appliances and Electronics websites enjoyed the strongest growth in the retail sector over Christmas, with Australian visits increasing by 27.2% amongst all websites comparing December 2007 and December 2008.
- Top retail brands are increasing their share of the search pie: The top 100 retail brands in December 2008 in Australia grew in search volume by 27.9%, while in New Zealand and Singapore the top brands grew by 21.1% and 10.6% respectively.
- Electronic products are driving the highest rates of paid search: In a Hitwise portfolio of the top 100 product search terms driving traffic to the Shopping and Classifieds industry, electronics-related terms accounted for 63.6% of paid clicks (4 weeks ending 27 December 2008).
- Bricks and Mortar Retailers are attracting affluent shoppers online: Bricks and Mortar Retailers in Australia were 28% more likely than Online Retailers to attract visits from the Mosaic Lifestyle Group, 'Young Ambition'; Educated and high-earning young singles and sharers in the inner suburbs.
If you build it they will comeIf you build a website and you don't have existing online marketing strategy no one's going to find the site let alone buy from it. There are thousands of websites launched every day trying to make a dollar, but if you don't have strong marketing strategies, you won't get any exposure.
For most sites to achieve traffic, they need to plan for at least six months of Search Engine Optimisation, as well as other marketing and PR activities, before traffic flow converts to enough customers to make a profit.
Once you get the visitors to your website the key to keeping them remains providing quality content. Updating the site daily with relevant products and information and communicating these changes via Newsletters or other online or offline marketing strategies will help with the growth of the website.
If you combine this with enabling visitors to contribute product reviews or post messages on the site they are likely to visit the site nine times as often as non-contributors do. Website contributors also make purchases nearly twice as often.
Research International reports that 80% of Australian consumers do research online before making a purchase of products and services. The majority of consumers started with a generic keyword search, with no brand involved.
Customers are people, and people are superficial; it's just that simple. It's up to you to embrace that fact and compensate for it when you present your company to the world. If your website is bulky and hard to use, the visitors are going to think your company is bulky and hard to deal with.
SummaryAn e-commerce website is not just a website, it is another marketing and sales channel and as such need dedicated people to run the online marketing.
Combining your offline marketing with your online marketing by promoting your website on all your brochures, catalogues and other marketing material and maybe supply a card with a promotion code with either free shipping or a % discount on orders over $xx to encouraging your bricks and mortar customers to go to the website to purchase products.
Easy to use well designed website instills confidence in potential customers and reassures them that they can buy from you safe in the knowledge that their goods will be what they wanted and arrive on time. It tells them they are dealing with a professional company whose products are of high quality, who answers correspondence promptly and shop ships goods quickly.
Things to consider:
- Can they find what they re looking for quickly?
- Does the site search return relevant results? Any results?
- Can they easily view enlarged images of the products?
- Are the images of high quality? Do they represent the products well?
- Are they able to easily add items to their shopping cart?
- Prices must be denominated in Australian Dollars (AUD), unless Multi Currency is required, then prices can be in foreign currencies and must display GST
- Is the checkout easy to use and do you have cross sell and upsell?
- Can they find out your business name, ABN and contact details (physical location street address, landlines telephone number, facsimile number and email address (PO Box is optional))
- Describe the measures you have taken to maintain the security of cardholders account data
New release product reviews for products that will hit the website in the next 3 months.
Ability to capture consumers email addresses in order to communicate product specials and new products via newsletters.
Ability for users to comment on the website and write reviews for products and provide testimonials on their experience with your site.
Shipping and return information needs to be clear and displayed prominently on your site. Customers want to easily see whether you ship to their location and what it will cost prior to committing to the sale.
Many a shopping cart has been abandoned near the end of the checkout process due to the shipping rates, try rewarding your customers by offering free shipping if they spend over a certain dollar amount.
Review and improve – Analyse the website statistics, the results of the newsletters and the purchases on the website weekly to find out what is working and what is not in order to constantly improve the results.