Internet retail sales conducted by smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices have increased by as much as 400% and it’s critical that merchants refocus their efforts accordingly. Australia's online retail spending totalled $14.2 billion for the 12 months ending August 2013. This level is equivalent to around 6.3% of Australia's traditional bricks-and-mortar retail sector. What’s more, because of the increased use of social media on smartphones and social media’s involvement in retail sales, “social selling” has become red hot. Anyone hoping to improve their online sales success must take advantage of emerging trends like data-driven selling, personalised marketing efforts and specific product recommendations based on a buyer’s past shopping history. Here are seven quick tips for Internet sales success: 1. Make sure your store is ready for the mobile revolution Mobile usage accounts for more than 50% of your visitors. A recent report by marketing website optimisation company Monetate found the average order value purchased via iPhone was $97.49 and the average order via Android was $97.16. Your store has to be prepared for that type of mobile transactional traffic, so creating a mobile-friendly version of your site is a no-brainer. 2. Optimise your mobile site for SEO It’s now just as important to optimise your mobile store for SEO as it is your normal online store as half of your traffic is coming from mobile devices. Be sure to add unique titles, tags and descriptions. 3. Offer local pick-up Research by CBRE shows when given the option, 41% of Aussie shoppers would prefer to pick up their products locally. What’s more, 27% of in-store pickup shoppers make additional purchases. If you don’t have a physical storefront, offer pick-up at farmers’ markets, craft fairs and other similar locations. 4. Enable “geo-focused” SEO Another way to cash in on consumers’ need for instant gratification and their desire to shop locally is by adding terms and tags to show up in geo-based search results. You should also get listed in location-based price comparison apps like Milo, RedLaser, Shopkick and others. 5. Add real-time product reviews Customer reviews translate to an 18% increase in sales. It’s important, though, to tell both sides of the story. Shoppers who read bad reviews convert 67% more than those who use sites with only positive reviews. Start proactively gathering reviews and set up an email campaign asking buyers to review products. 6. Add product videos By some reports, a video makes a front-page Google result 53 times more likely. Consumers are 64-85% more likely to make a purchase after watching a video. Use pre-produced videos or make your own and add them right to your product pages. 7. Improve your checkout process You can attract more customers and close more sales by simplifying checkout and adding payment. Offering a single-page checkout can boost conversion by up to 21% according to ABtests.com. Provide as many payment options as you can and gateways for credit cards like Google Checkout and PayPal. Finally, increase your average cart value by showing complementary or similar products as an add-on option at checkout. Take a snapshot of your store’s basic analytics today: sales, traffic, etc. Implement the changes I’ve suggested, then compare your snapshot to your numbers three months from now to measure your improvement to determine which suggestions really work for your business and which you may have to tweak for better results. Eddie Machaalani is the co-founder and co-CEO of Bigcommerce, the world's fastest-growing software as a service e-commerce platform that helps power over 30,000 small businesses to sell online.
Online retail sales growth in Australia eased in May following a boost the previous month, but is expected to continue to outpace sales growth at traditional bricks-and-mortar stores for up to another 18 months. The National Australia Bank’s latest online retail sales index found sales growth in May grew 18% compared with May last year, down from 24% year-on-year growth in April. “Despite an easing in the growth rate, it remains stronger than the comparatively soft trends across February and March,” the bank says in a statement. The statement says sales in bricks-and-mortar stores grew by 3.2% in April compared with the previous April on a non-seasonally adjusted basis. Internet sales made up 6.1% of total retail sales in the year to April, excluding cafes, restaurants and takeaway food, with Australians spending around $13.7 billion with online retailers in the year to May. NAB Senior economist Gerard Burg told StartupSmart the growth rate of online sales was likely to continue to outpace traditional stores over the next 12-18 months. He says department and variety stores claimed a large share of online sales as they embraced the internet and multi-channel retailing. Large retailers such as David Jones and Harvey Norman have in the past complained about internet shopping eating into their sales but have since created their own online offerings. Fashion, homewares and electrical appliances were the most popular items sold on the internet, with around 72% of sales made domestically. Paul Greenberg, chief executive of the National Online Retailers Association, told StartupSmart he expects the distinction between online and bricks-and-mortar retail will become less with time. “Where the real growth is coming is where retailers provide multiple points of purchase,” he says, noting that daily deals website OzSale had held warehouse sales and opened pop-up stores in shopping centres. Eddie Machaalani, chief executive and co-founder of online store builder Bigcommerce, told StartupSmart he can’t see online sales growth slowing down for at least four to five years. “There are a lot of industries that are still not online,” he says, “or worked out how to go online.”
Bigcommerce was created after the two founders met in an online chat room. Four years on, the Aussie eCommerce start-up has secured $35 million in venture capital funding, built offices in Sydney and Texas and attracted 30,000 customers. Here, co-founder Eddie Machaalani passes on his top tips on customer profiling. Most marketing plans fail because they don’t focus on anyone and try to attract everyone. As a result, companies are selling products that customers don't want. Sadly, most customers aren't at the centre of the feedback loop. Sadder still, most customers will tell you what they want if you just ask. In the first instalment of this series http://www.startupsmart.com.au/strategy/the-seven-marketing-steps-that-landed-us-with-30000-clients/201303119130.html my colleague and co-CEO Mitchell Harper presented a seven-step marketing plan that can almost certainly double your sales in 12 months and get you on your way to seven figures in revenue. Those steps were: Create your typical customer profile Position your products to appeal to your ideal customer Spread the word to people who fit your typical customer profile Wow them immediately after buying Follow up with lots of free, useful stuff Ask for a (video) testimonial Repeat steps 3-6 infinitely The first step of the plan: Create your typical customer profile Obviously, this works best when you already have a few dozen customers, because you’ll be surveying your existing client base (no matter how small) to understand future buyers better. Understand that this doesn’t have to be a costly process. There are free tools such as Google Docs and MailChimp that let you create a survey and mass email it easily and affordably. Let’s say you sell customised sports apparel. Get into the heads of your customers with a survey that gives you information to help build a typical profile of someone who is likely to buy from you. Useful information includes: Sex Age range Salary Marital status Job Hobbies How did they find you? Why did they buy from you? What problem did your product help them solve? Would they recommend you to a friend? And so on. The results of this survey will let you literally write a profile of your typical customer. I mean really write it out. For example: “John is 29 years old, has brown hair, green eyes, weighs 197 pounds and is 5 foot 11 inches tall. He lives in Melbourne with his wife and works in an office all day. He loves to watch the game with his buddies on weekends and found our website via a referral from a friend at work.” “He bought from us because of our large selection of products, has recommended us to at least one friend and was happy with his purchase so would buy from us again. He also loves video games, playing poker and has a high school education.” That makes your next step easier: Position your products to appeal to your typical customer Put yourself in John's shoes. Ask yourself, "If I were John, what would grab my attention and make me either sign up for information or buy something, instead of closing my web browser?" Some ideas: An email newsletter about his favourite AFL team with little-known facts about players. A free shipping coupon that he can use on his first order. Photos or videos of other customers (who look and sound like John) wearing your product. Remember, your goal is to become relatable to John. Anything and everything you write or display on your website, in your emails — any communication — must feel like it's speaking directly to him. You’re building a personal rapport with John (even though he’s a profile of a typical customer). That’s crucial, because people buy from people they know, like or respect. Next time, we look at how to spread the word to people who fit your customer profile with some proven guerrilla marketing tactics.
From humble beginnings meeting my co-founder in an online chat room, we've grown Bigcommerce to the fastest growing eCommerce platform in the world that helps SMEs get online and sell more.
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