Content Management System
The big players of online retail appear to have it made. Look at international apparel sites such as netaporter.com or asos.com – they boast a swish product offer, sophisticated websites with impressive images, and hefty turnovers. Think of Australian sites, such as wine e-tailer vinomofo.com, or furniture site milandirect.com.au. They’ve got a distinct product offer, professional customer service, smooth delivery operations and engaged consumer communities. From the outside, the success of these companies may appear daunting to emulate. Even for well-established businesses, e-tail can still trigger challenges for management used to dealing in the bricks-and-mortar world. However, there is no need to lag behind your competitors when it comes to turning clicks into sales. If you set up a quality content management system, a niche product offer and well-oiled delivery operations, you are off to a good start. Ahead of the Fashion Exposed trade fair, launching in Melbourne this Sunday, August 25, SmartCompany spoke to presenters at the event on how to catch up with the leaders in the e-tail sphere. Simon Goodrich, co-founder of e-commerce platform provider Portable, and Jean-Claude Abouchar, chief executive officer of multi-brand fashion e-tail site The Grand Social, offer eight steps to get up and running. 1. Just do it Businesses doing well in traditional bricks-and-mortar retail may have resisted the online push for fear it could stretch their resources. “I think people feel a bit down being behind the boat in online retail,” says Goodrich. “But in the recent period there have been some really exciting methodologies and examples for people to use.” Goodrich says people can be “scared” to shift online, as they don’t know what platforms to employ, or what content to generate. “If you have a (physical) store, and you’re open, and you’ve got salespeople in there, people walk in,” says Goodrich. “You’ve got a lot of other items within that built environment that can assist you to make sales. “People think, my product or what I do might not work online, but I think they should go out there and test…there are lots of things people can be doing, it’s very exciting.” Abouchar says to simply “just get started”, and experiment. “Just get online with whatever you are trying to sell,” he says. “As soon as you learn about your customer and what works and doesn’t, then focus your energy, time and money into what is working rather than spend a year trying to get it perfect. “Just get live, that is the bottom line.” 2. Find the right platform Simple, effective content management systems are now easy to find, meaning you can have an e-tail shopfront up and running quickly. Goodrich says you need a CMS that you can easily update. “A lot of systems have been refined over the past few years to do basic things well,” he says. It shouldn’t be daunting. “There are a lot of out-of-the-box solutions. It comes down to how much people want to invest.” Goodrich says it is a myth that the e-tail shopfront has to be professionally graphic designed and complicated. “It doesn’t have to have a lot to it. It can just be images and an example of the business. “Have a system that captures emails, develops newsletters, and have some form of social media reach out. There is obviously Facebook, there’s Twitter, it just depends on which platform best suits your audience.” 3. Own your audience To generate sales, the best way is to build a loyal community around your business. Goodrich says to draw on the value of the people who engage with your business already – as they shouldn’t be separate to your online customers. “You have to get ownership over your customer base. People in the past might have sent out paper newsletters or even email newsletters, but they may not have been getting statistics on how people are using that information.” He says it is vital to use data collection tools to harness this feedback, so you can better tailor your content. “Define your company voice. You ask what magazines your customers read, what movies do they like, what holidays do they want? Once you can get an idea of who that person is, the content bit becomes a lot easier.” 4. Plan your logistics When Abouchar co-launched The Grand Social back in 2008, experimenting with warehouse and delivery logistics was a core challenge – one which the business continually refines. “No one was doing third-party fulfillment,” he says. “So we had to set it up ourselves.” The Grand Social offers multiple fashion brands on the one site, so initially products were coming in from countless sources. “What we needed to do in terms of the fulfillment and the supply chain solution was really complicated. No one wanted to touch it, it was in the too-hard basket. “For e-tail, there was a lack of options – Australia Post didn’t even have a system running.” He says they initially tried bringing all of the products ordered to a central place, before shipping items to a customer in a single package. They then moved to ‘drop ship model’, where the designers send the products directly to the buyer as the orders are processed. He says experimenting and refining your system can take time, but it is essential to work out the best way for quick and efficient delivery. Story continues on page 2. Please click below. 5. Find a service niche Abouchar says once your store is up and running, think about what extra layers of service you can transfer from your bricks-and-mortar world to online. He says the “danger” is that it could become just an arm of your physical store, without the personal service. “You need to have the second layer of service. Anyone can sell stuff online, but think, how are we going to be different?” he says. “Customers will go where they get service and advice.” He says to draw on your customer data, tailor content, and personalise their experience to maximise engagement with the brand. Abouchar is an admirer of stitchfix.com, a US start-up which is taking service to the next level. “It is basically filling in a profile questionnaire about your personal style, and they send you a box of five different products that they’ve picked (based on the survey). “You keep what you want, and send back what you don’t, and over time the platform becomes smarter about what is good for you. It works out outfits for you. It’s a subscription-based model with a service layer, added on to the technology layer.” 6. Progress constantly, but mindfully It is tempting to try and be everything to every customer, and to panic that your competitors are more advanced in e-tail. However, Abouchar says to pick what is vital, do it well, and say no to the rest. He argues that there is “only so much time in the day”, especially juggling both a physical store with a new online enterprise. “It is about focus…about two years ago we decided to stop starting new things, and we said ‘let’s focus on doing a few things well’.” The Grand Social narrowed down its key objectives – a refresh of the homepage, tailoring the customer experience, upgrading warehouse and fulfillment distribution, and perfecting inventory management and barcoding. 8. Have patience Abouchar says people launching online may wonder why they are not getting instant results, but says to remember that just like a physical store, results can take time. “It takes just as long to build a business online as offline. People have expectations that they will open an online business and in a year or two they will be relaxing in the tropics…it is just as tough if not tougher as there are millions of people around the world to compete with. “Online is no different, it brings the same challenges as offline.” Simon Goodrich and Jean-Claude Abouchar will be presenting at Fashion Exposed Trade Fair in Melbourne, which begins Sunday, August 25. For seminar details visit www.fashionexposed.com.
Creating compelling content that builds audiences is an important marketing pillar for anyone starting out in business. Known as content marketing, custom media, custom publishing, branded content and branded media, this style of marketing is particularly important given consumers are increasingly seeking out information they can trust. Content marketing enables businesses to deliver content via tutorials, email newsletters, white papers, custom publications, ebooks, free reports, blogs or social media. Anyone can create relevant content that spruiks their business. If you’re a landscape gardener launching your own business, you could own a niche audience of followers keen to hear your thoughts on drought-resistant gardens, for example. Content marketing is the way of the future, says the chief executive of the Association for Data-Driven Marketing and Advertising, Jodie Sangster. “The future of marketing is content marketing. The convergence of data, technology, new consumer consumption habits and digital distribution mean the business case for content marketing has never been more compelling.” Craig Hodges, chief executive and founder of King Content says content marketing has been around forever. It works best for companies that want to drive leads and sales, working across multiple sectors from banking and finance to fast moving consumer goods, he says. “It’s not something that has developed in the last couple of months, as many people might think. The real game changer has been the transformation in the way consumers find brands and ‘stuff’ in general. “Google has played an integral role in this by determining they wanted a search engine free of keyword-stuffed landing pages, instead ranking quality sites with great content,” Hodges says. This has encouraged brands to begin investing in owned, searchable content assets that are of value to the consumer and share the essence of what the brand stands for through storytelling, he says. “If you couple this with the role of social media, a powerful sharing and amplification tool, it’s easy to see why there has been such a focus on developing quality content marketing strategies.” Content marketing works well for new online homewares/linen store, I Love Linen. Melbourne founder Lauren Roe has had strong results from Facebook despite the brand only launching a few months ago. “A great Facebook strategy is based on engaging with customers and promoting a certain image around a desired lifestyle and then finding ways to link it back to your products,” Roe says. One of her recent posts was shared by a popular blogger with a huge Facebook following, which resulted in a day of high traffic and sales, she says. “It’s so easy to manage because once you have a good content strategy and you know the themes around how you want to post, then you can pre-source and pre-load all the content. We do this once a week so it’s locked and loaded so we don’t have to think of content ideas on the fly,” Roe says. “I know Facebook works because I track the click-throughs from Google Analytics and can track the purchase journey that way. A great example is a customer that I generated via Facebook has purchased with us three times in just under six weeks,” she says. Content marketing is also a key marketing pillar for Intrepid Travel, with content partnerships forged to develop content that will appeal to potential customers. One of its most successful partnerships has been with sustainable food filmmakers The Perennial Plate. This partnership sent two chefs to 13 countries to create short videos that reflect local food culture, which aligns with Intrepid’s new range of food adventures and commitment to responsible and sustainable travel. “The videos are authentic and compelling and each has its own distribution strategy. The first video that was produced received over 300,000 views and the series so far has been viewed by 2.75 million,” global public relations manager Eliza Anderson says. Many start-ups already embark on a PR campaign, but minor tweaks to existing PR, communications and social media content isn’t the same thing as content marketing, according to a report by technology research firm Gartner. Hiring freelance writers to create your content, create a pipeline of talent via online freelance marketplaces like elance or outsource your newsroom can be great ways to get the content you need, says Gartner analyst Jake Sorofman. Ultimately, businesses need to decide what end result they want to achieve from content marketing from the outset, he says. “Do you want to create blog posts, build a special website or blog, or generate Facebook comments or Tweets? Ensure that whatever content management system you are using can create content forms that match your goals. Also ensure that each asset you generate can be shared socially,” Sorofman says. But creating content is one thing. Making sure it’s reaching an audience is something else altogether. Distribution of content is a major issue, according to a recent roundtable forum held in Sydney. Hosted by ADMA and content marketing firm Edge, it found that many businesses overlook the importance of developing distribution strategies. Care needs to be taken when it comes to distribution as distribution via social media can turn consumers off, according to a recent report by Pitney Bowes Software. It found that 83% of consumers have had a bad social media marketing experience. Simon Bird, general manager Australia, warns that annoying customers can mean lost revenue, with 65% of consumers saying they’d stop using a brand that upset or irritated them through its social media behaviour. “It’s critical for businesses to develop an in-depth understanding of their customers’ communications preferences and what makes them tick. You need to approach customers through the channels they like and with content that is relevant to them and their current situation.” Five tips to help start-ups thrive in the age of content Create brand ambassadors. Use Twitter Advanced Search to find people who are talking about similar offerings to yours. Contact them and get them excited about your brand Understand and track your SEO. Use free Google tools like Adwords, Analytics and Trends to compare keywords, view keyword search traffic demand and find out if your keywords are converting traffic Take advantage of hashtags. Simple and consistent hashtags like #apps help your target market find your start-up. Use social dashboard tools like HootSuite or TweetDeck to find relevant hashtags. Find free publicity. Sign up for free services like SourceBottle and HARO, which connect journalists with sources to easily and cheaply build a reputation in your industry. Protect your reputation before you have one. Use free tools like Google Alerts and watchthatpage.com to find out what is being said about your company, competitors and industry. Source: Ali Berg, head of content, Online Circle Digital
Local retail design firm Red Design Group has unveiled a range of new in-store technologies for retailers, after partnering with AOPEN to launch the Retail Evolution Lab in Melbourne.
Earlier today, I decided it was high time to have a chat with Taskmaster Enterprises’ resident Gen-Y Techmaster.
Melbourne-based business OrdersInbox was built off an existing business, but is fast becoming a success in its own right, under the direction of Robert Reith and Douglas Reith.
We recently overhauled our Home Loan Finder website and, as we were building it, we learned a few golden lessons. By not following them, we could’ve killed the site entirely. Some of these were quite technical but would apply to all websites. With increasing numbers of start-ups realising that their websites are their key sales and marketing tool, it’s important that when you make improvements to your online presence that you don’t sink it in the process. Here are my top six tips for your website revamp: 1. Maintain permalink structure A permalink is the name of a URL to a particular page on your website e.g. http://www.mobilephonefinder.com.au/apple/iphone-4s/, the permalink here is /apple/iphone-4s/. Normally on a website there is a naming convention and a structure which ties all of the pages together e.g. in this case the iPhone 4s lives underneath the Apple category. What you need to make sure of here is that you don’t go and change this structure. If you change it what you will get is a massive list of 404 errors with Google and this will cause your site to appear very broken and rank lower in the search engines. The main causes of the 404s are links from external sites and internal pages on your site pointing to pages that no longer exist. To avoid this problem: Maintain your previous URL permalink structure or set up 301 redirects of the old pages to the new ones so that Google and users can easily follow the links to the new locations. Select your Content Management System (CMS) carefully and ensure it can preserve your permalink URL structure. 2. Test across browsers Most websites still have a huge proportion of Internet Explorer users. This is because it comes default with Windows and most users are very basic in how they use a computer. Most developers use Firefox or Chrome because it supports more features and it allows for faster browsing and more developer plugins. The problem you will face here is that if you hire a web developer, there’s a good chance he or she won’t think to test your site on Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer can be a real pain to develop for as it requires special code to make things work. I’d strongly advise that your developer tries to use your website on an older computer. I would also suggest you try using a lower resolution monitor and see what your website is like with that as well! 3. Check the user flow When you develop your site, you become very close to it and you start to learn how it works. You start to click in advanced and faster places that most first time users would never know to do. The problem here is that you start to skip the basics that first time users will need to operate your website and you create a user flow that breaks. The solution here is to hand your website over to someone who doesn’t know your business and has never seen the website. Get them to complete the main actions on the site. You will be amazed at what you learn and the simple things that you missed. 4. Google Analytics and conversion scripts The last thing developers do before they push a site live is roll out the pieces of code which track your users and conversions. This is because they don't want to pollute the statistics with developer tests and fake user data. This is completely understandable but it also means that a lot of the time you forget to add the scripts back onto the website when you are going live. Always check that all of your scripts are installed after you go live. It will make sure your stats are consistent. 5. References to the old development sites When you are building your site you normally build it on a development or staging site. The problem you want to avoid here is that sometimes references to specific development environment elements are left on the actual live site. Check before and after you go live that there aren’t any leftover elements from the staging or development site. 6. Work out the best time to launch your site Everyone has different views on this, although I would suggest using one of the following: Launch when the site traditionally has the least amount of traffic. This will avoid major interruptions and allow you to make quick changes to the live site. Try and ensure you have as many hands on deck when launching. Usually a Friday launch might want to be avoided as people are winding down. That said, sometimes Friday might be the best time to launch as it may be your lowest traffic day. Fred Schebesta is the founder of comparison website: Finder.com.au. Fred's passion for comparison and helping Australians save money lead him to recently launch Mobile Phone Finder to compare mobile phones, and Life Insurance Finder to compare Life Insurance. You can follow him on Twitter @schebesta.
Community sporting network SportingPulse, which is now majority-owned by News Limited, has acquired content management system BellvueIT.
For the many mumpreneur and micro businesses that outsource the build, Content Management System (CMS) and hosting of their eCommerce websites, the relationship you have with your provider(s) is critical.
The Federal Government has teamed up with the likes of PayPal, eBay and Optus to launch Driving Business Online, a nationwide road show designed to help small businesses achieve success online – and sell them on the benefits of the NBN.
There’s no better time to have a look at your cost base and try to put a bit more bounce in your bottom line.