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Australian eCommerce Trends & Predictions for 2017

Australian eCommerce Trends & Predictions for 2017

Australian eCommerce Trends & Predictions for 2017

2016 was an odd year for eCommerce in Australia.

The shopping year started off slow, and many retailers were predicting a lack lustre year for themselves.

Yet, the NAB Online Retail Sales Index has estimated that Australians spent more than $21 Billion online between November of 2015 and November of 2016.
If you recall, Australian online shoppers spent $17.6 Billion in 2015.

The statistics support both sides of the story though, showing that Australian consumers did ease off their spending habits for the most part of the year, but (seriously) made up for it in November and December.

The good news is the outlook for 2017 is for another year of positive growth for eCommerce in Australia, with the predicted trends suggesting that this will be a year for significant changes in the industry.

Mobile

Mobile eCommerce will continue to grow as it has been.

But the prediction for this year is that the focus will be on improving two keys areas: SEO and Payment Methods.

Mobile & SEO

Last year, Google announced that it will be splitting their current search index into two, one index for mobile search and another index for desktop search, with the mobile index becoming the primary search index.

In response to this, we should see eCommerce websites focus on improving their efforts in local SEO, as well as improvements to take advantage of the shift to Voice Search.

If you haven't heard the term Voice Search before, we suggest you read up on it. We've included a link in the list of resources at the end of this article.

Mobile Payments

New payment methods that aren't as cumbersome as entering Credit Card details every transaction are also predicted to trend this year in Australia.

Last year contained a lot of buzz about mobile wallets and mobile payments, but stalled once Apple and The Big 4 banks started to battle for control of the Australian market.

This caused a very slow uptake of mobile payment technologies by consumers in Australia, and online stores were happy to continue with the options they were providing.

Now that the dust has settled, online retailers should start to incorporate mobile payments into their eStores as they start to see more demand from their customers.

Traditional store owners will also move to align their offline payment method options with their online payment method options (such as PayWave or Apple Pay or ANZ Mobile Pay) as a way to improve their customer shopping experience.

Chat Bots

Chat Bots are predicted to be the next big thing in 2017.

Down here in Australia though, we don't predict that Chat Bots will take off as much as in larger markets, such as the United States or Europe.

The ultimate decider in whether Chat Bots become a useful tool for eStores will be the Australian customer.

If Australian shoppers don't find a Chat Bot to be both a convenience and a delight to their shopping experience, they will ditch them faster than an out-sourced call centre.

Unless they're done very well, Chat Bots may end up in the same vein as Chat Support plug-ins that were touted as the next big thing in Customer Service.

To the Australian customer, Chat Support has turned out to be more of a gimmick than true customer service and resulted in the technology (and the companies that use them) being viewed negatively.

Amazon Invasion

Of course, the big shake-up predicted for eCommerce in Australia this year will be the entry of Amazon Australia into the market.

Amazon announced last year that they were coming to Australia.

At the time of writing, Amazon had not yet officially launched their Australian arm, but no doubt every sharp business owner that sells products will be keeping a tight eye on them.

No one knows how the Australian market will change once Amazon officially open, but predictions are that it will hurt, and hurt badly.

Competition is good for the consumer though, so it will be interesting to see how Australian eStores respond to counter the hit to their business.

iASP Central Tip: The best way to prepare for Amazon is to refocus your business plan to offer something that Amazon cannot. Products, offers, experiences - anything that will differentiate your business from what Amazon can offer.




Resources:




Do you own an eCommerce website? What do you think will be key for eCommerce in 2017? Start a conversation on the iASP Central Facebook Page or Get in Touch.


How to Provide Basic Website Support Like a Legend

How to Provide Basic Website Support Like a Legend

How to Provide Basic Website Support Like a Legend

How many times have you walked out of a retail store after waiting too long for someone to help you?

I don't know about you, but my patience for that type of customer service is extremely low.

So imagine what the experience is like when you need to ask a retail website for help.
Only to receive the reply "Thank you. We've forwarded your enquiry onto our Web Developer. Please wait 2-5 days for a reply."

2 to 5 days! Ain't nobody got time for that!

The time it takes to help your online customers can be make or break for your online business.

Just like in the real world, it can be the difference between keeping customers, or losing them forever.

Don't be powerless in this situation however.
There is something that you and your staff can do to get the ball rolling while before you contact your Web Developer.

You can go through some pre-checks with the customer to see if there isn't a quick fix to the problem they are having.

In the industry, this is known as basic website support or level 1 support.

Providing basic website support is a straight forward process that just about everyone can do.

Let's break the process down into steps.

Step 1: Calm the Customer

Not every customer will need to be calmed, but you will get an angry, demanding customer from time to time.

So the first step is to try to bring the customer back onto your side.

Keep in mind that every website has it's moment. Every customer has their moment too.

But at the same time, you aren't the business, you aren't the website. You are the person trying to help them right now.

Communicate to the customer that this isn't a big deal.

The website could very well be broken, or it could be something else entirely.

But before you call in the Cavalry, you're going to have a look together to see if you can find what's going on.

Calming the customer might not always be possible. Some people will insist on being angry.

In these cases, just proceed to Step 2 as well as you can.

Pro Tip: The best way to disarm an irate customer is to be extra nice in return. Customers like these want to get a reaction from you, they want you to get as angry as they are. As soon as they realise that they won't get that reaction from you, they generally start to calm down.

Step 2: Identify and Reproduce "The Problem"

The second step is to identify the problem, and see if the same thing happens for you.

This will help you to determine where the problem is, and likely what the solution will be.

9 times out of 10*, the problem is from an external cause. User error, or an incompatible web-browser setting, or an up-stream issue with a service provider your website uses, or an issue with the customer's computer or Internet service.
(*Used as an expression, not statistically accurate.)

These are all issues you can't fix, but basic website support is about finding the cause of the problem, solving it if you can (or pointing the customer in the right direction). And if you can't solve it then and there, then you pass it on to the experts.

If the customer hasn't provided enough information for you to start investigating, ask them.
- What is it that you are trying to do?
- What steps are you taking to do it?
- Is any feedback provided, such as an error message?

Once you have this information, follow them step by step to see if you get the same result as the customer.

If you can reproduce the problem, then you know what it is and you can proceed to Step 4.

Maybe it's some bad data that is breaking website functionality. Or perhaps the customer was doing something incorrectly.
Either way, you've identified the problem, and you can communicate this to the customer. Problem solved.

Sometimes you won't be able to reproduce the problem, and everything will work for you as you expect it to.
This is where you need to put yourself in the customer's shoes.

Here you try to identify what else they COULD be doing to produce the problem they're having.
- Are they clicking a button too many times?
- Are they trying to do something on the website that they can't do, or aren't allowed to do?

If at this point, you're still unable to identify what is causing the problem, it's time to move onto Step 3 - basic troubleshooting.

Step 3: Basic Troubleshooting

If the customer is doing something they should be able to do, and the cause of the problem they're experiencing isn't immediately obvious, then it's time to go through basic troubleshooting.

Basic troubleshooting is a list of steps to start ruling out possible external causes for the problem (or hopefully identify and fix it).

For most websites, basic troubleshooting involves the following steps:

  1. Empty the cache (& cookies) of the web-browser, close down the web-browser, and try using the website again.
  2. Ensure that the web-browser has the correct settings and plug-ins required to use the website and that they are enabled. For example, check that Cookies are enabled in the browser,and Javascript is enabled, and that the browser security settings aren't set too high.)
  3. Try using the website in a different web-browser.

By now you have hopefully fixed or found the issue while trying the basic troubleshooting steps and you can proceed to the final step.

But if not, you've now ruled out those possible causes as being the cause of this particular problem.

So now it's time to escalate this problem to Level 2 Support, and proceed to Step 4.

Step 4: Inform the Customer of the Outcome

Step 4 is the most important step. Here you inform the customer of your findings and what happens next.

Clear communication is the key to this step.
Not everyone is a whizz on the computer, so try to explain the problem to the customer in a way that they understand.

Your findings will fall into one of the following categories:

  • You have identified the cause of the problem, and it is a problem that the customer must fix at their end.
    (User error, a problem with their computer or Internet, etc)
  • You have identified the cause of the problem, and it is not a problem the customer can fix.
    (Website error/issue, upstream service issue)
  • You have been unable to identify the cause of the problem, and need to escalate the issue to Level 2 Support.

In every case, inform the customer of the cause of the problem if you know what the cause is.
For example, the issue might be have been caused by a corrupt cookie in their web browser. Or it might be caused by a service outage that is affecting your website.

If your findings fall into category one, provide information to the customer that will explain what they must do to fix it.
You can provide links to webpages or forums with instructions that will help the customer. Or you can write up instruction templates or an FAQ for common issues.

If your findings fall into category two, then explain what you need to do to fix the issue for the customer.

And if your findings fall into category three, then explain that the issue looks to be serious, and you have sent it on to Level 2 Support for investigation.

When you can help the customer to understand how the problem came about, and what needs to be done to resolve it, most people will accept the outcome and be thankful for your help.

And There You Have It

Providing basic website support really is that straightforward.

So don't leave your customers waiting days to receive help to use your website.
Get the ball rolling by providing them with basic website support yourself.

Most website support is just a case of helping the customer get back to shopping again.

Sometimes the problem really is a bug. Many times though, it's a small glitch that can be fixed in minutes.

But by providing basic website support to your customers, you can keep the customer on your side, rather than get them walking off to another eStore.




Agree? Disagree? Start a conversation on the iASP Central Facebook Page or Get in Touch.


A Review of eCommerce Predictions for 2016

A Review of eCommerce Predictions for 2016

A Review of eCommerce Predictions for 2016

2015 was an exceptional year for eCommerce.

Australian shoppers smashed the predicted $10 billion in online retail spending.

According to the National Bank of Australia, online retail spending in Australia increased by 10%, up to $17.6 billion1.

Early last year, we reviewed the industry predictions for eCommerce trends in 2015.

We reported that the major focus would be in the areas of mobile shopping, social media selling, and the combination of traditional marketing channels and digital marketing channels to provide a similar shopping experience for the customer.

mCommerce saw the biggest growth in 2015, helped in part by the growth in mobile device usage and the mobilegeddon that unfolded in the middle of the year.

We saw a serious shift in the capability to buy online direct from mobile devices rather than just gather information to support the customer's buying decision.

2016 is well under way now though, and it's time again to review the future predictions.

Here are the eCommerce trends tipped to be big for 2016.


Continued Growth in Online Markets

The good news is most industry leaders are predicting the strong growth seen in 2015 will continue well into 2016.

And like last year, mobile it tipped to generate the largest part of this growth.


It's all about the Customer Experience

Creating and improving the customer experience will be the main area of focus for eCommerce in 2016.

The marketing strategy of eStores will no longer target increasing the number of single transactions.

Instead, marketing strategies will focus on managing customer expectation and satisfaction every step of the way, including post-purchase.

Cheaper prices and free shipping will no longer be the differentiator between competing eStores.

Instead, online shopping will become a journey or an experience akin to shopping at Tiffany's.


Expansion of Marketing Automation

Over the past couple of years, e-Mail marketing has been almost completely automated.

It is not uncommon now for eStores to send a targeted e-Mail to a customer based upon particular activities, such as if the customer added items to their cart, and then left the website without completing the order.

This year, more marketing channels will become automated in a similar fashion.

Elements of a website such as banners, landing pages, even product descriptions will become automated to serve customized content targeted to the individual.

For example, I might return to a website several times to look at a particular product. The next time I return, I am served a banner advertising a promotional discount on that specific item, a discount just for me.

This level of automation is a tool to provide even greater personalized shopping experiences for customers.


More Social Media Selling

Selling on social media last year was been more like marketing and advertising, rather than a point-of-sale.

Several social media platforms tested and partly launched tools in 2015 to allow their users to buy products within the platform itself, without needing to visit the retailer's website.

In 2016, we will see these features become available to more retailers in more countries.

Soon it will become commonplace to see a post or a tweet with a Buy Now button.


A Higher Quality of Content

High-quality content will become a differentiator to attract and engage customers.

Faster Internet speeds have allowed video to become a viable method to deliver content. Product reviews, demonstrations, and instructional videos will become popular forms of content.

Website content strategy itself will become more about storytelling and entertainment.


In Conclusion

Prepare for 2016 to be another significant year for eCommerce.

Barriers that separated online shopping from traditional shopping will dissolve as new technology becomes viable and affordable to traditional retailers.

This will enable traditional retailers to compete in online markets again as the advantages that eRetailers have enjoyed up until now become less of an advantage.

Online shopping has now become just another part of shopping in general.



Resources:


Your 2015 eStore Christmas Promotion Checklist

Your 2015 eStore Christmas Promotion Checklist

Your 2015 eStore Christmas Promotion Checklist

According to this website, there are 119 sleeps until Christmas!!

That's only 17 weeks!

Which means that all you eTailers have even less time to prepare your eStore for the Christmas/Holiday Sale Rush!

The time to start planning is NOW!

There are promotions to decide, marketing campaigns to prepare, and don't even get me started on which wrapping paper to use this year.

We've put together a nice check-list to help you to prepare for your best Christmas Season yet.

#1: Review Last Year

The very first thing you'll want to do is to review the performance of last year's sale.

Undoubtedly, there were some parts that went very well, and other parts that fizzled for one reason or another.

Take this time to identify the positives and the negatives from last year.

Anything you did that was worth repeating, note it down and add it into your 2015 strategy. And the mistakes that you don't want to repeat, create contingency plans to ensure they don't get repeated.

Then after reviewing your own performance, the next step is to review your competitors.

Look at how they approached the silly season sale. Are there any lessons to be learnt from mistakes they made? Or some clever ideas that you can take some inspiration from?

#2: Check Your Sales Data

Have a look at your sales history for the year.

Identify your top customers, because you'll want to specifically target them to boost your sales, as well as offer them a little reward incentive to butter them up as well.

Next, identify your top selling and poorest selling products for the year, and there are two reasons for this.

The first is to help you to select the products to feature in your promotions.

The second is to help identify any possible issues for the performance of your poorest selling products. Is there a stand-out reason why these particular products aren't selling as well?

Maybe the product description isn't informative enough, or the product images need improvement.

Take this opportunity to compare your poorer selling products against your best selling products and improve the content for your poorer sellers.

#3: Review our Twelve Steps to Successful Christmas eTailing

Hopefully you're already up-to-speed with our Twelve Steps to successful Christmas eTailing from last year, and they're already a part of your strategy.

If not, be sure to read them, as they are all still very relevant.

#4: Map out your marketing strategy

Now you want to plan your strategy - the theme of your campaign, the promotions you will offer, when you will start each promotion, and how long each promotion will run for.

Christmas is about rewards and gifts, and just generally being nice, so integrate this into the theme for your campaign.

Shoppers are always looking for the discounts, but think creatively about how customers can earn them, or earn further discounts.

Create some interaction between your business and your customers.

Perhaps a competition on social media could offer a higher discount on top of a regular discount. Or offer a special discount to your Facebook followers that are the most active in your community.

Stacking promotions to encourage sales at the start of the promotion is another effective strategy, offering multiple discounts/specials at the start of the sale period that drop off as the promotion progresses.

Without a doubt, you will also want to offer Free Shipping at some point during the promotion, if not for the entire sale period. Free Shipping will is always a major part of your customer's buying decisions, and is a common sales tactic by your competitors.

#5: Map out your content strategy

It's never a bad time to review and update your content, but now is a great opportunity to give your website content a good spring clean.

You've already decided on the theme for your marketing campaign, now to plan the areas of your website that will need to be updated to reflect your theme.

You may wish to re-write your product pages to be more appropriate to the occasion/theme, or to provide better descriptions that help the customer to make a purchase.

Fresh product images are always a good idea, and can also be used to add to the feel of your theme.

Then there is the banner images on the homepage that are going to draw and direct your customers to your featured specials. What marketing message will you want to display? Which products will you feature?

If you have a Blog or News section, prepare a plan for the articles that you will publish during the campaign. Plan dates will they be published, and decide on the images that be used in the articles.

#6: Map out your e-Mail campaigns

Now that you have your marketing strategy set out, it's time to plan your e-Mail campaigns.

Following on from Step 2, we recommend making two lists of subscribers - Your best customers, and your regular subscribers.

Plan to send a campaign to each list a week before your campaign starts, another at the start of the sale, then a third campaign a week or two before the sale ends, and lastly, a final days reminder.

List which products you will include, and write the content for each campaign, and again, decide on the images that be used.

Have everything prepared so that all that remains is the create each campaign and send them.

#7: Map out your social media campaigns

As always, you need to plan social media campaigns to support your marketing and e-Mail campaigns.

Plan out the posts for each of your social media accounts, and prepare the content for each post, and brainstorm the style and message of images that will need to be produced for each post.

You may also want to launch competitions especially for your social media channels to attract your followers.

Lastly, look at utilising Facebook Ads to target your followers, or new followers.

#8: Arrange for content to be produced early

Once you have everything planned and decided, the final step is to arrange for the content you aren't able to produce to be produced for you.

You really don't want to leave this until the last minute, the earlier you can get your designer onto your banners or images, the earlier they will be ready to launch your campaign and the less rush everyone will be in later in the year.



Need some Help? If you would like some help to get your Christmas Promotion into gear, Get in Touch. Or if you have some tips of your own that you'd like to share, join us on the iASP Central Facebook Page.



Further Reading:


10 Ways To Satisfy Your Customer's Privacy Concerns

10 Ways To Satisfy Your Customer's Privacy Concerns

10 Ways To Satisfy Your Customer's Privacy Concerns

In case you missed it, last week was Privacy Awareness Week.

With over 700,000 Australians becoming victim to on-line identity theft in just the past year, protecting customers on-line privacy is one of the most critical issues website publishers must consider.

Under Australian Law, the privacy rights of Australians are protected by the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act), which relates to the protection of personal information about an individual that does or could identify them.

According to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, the Privacy Act outlines the "standards, rights and obligations for the handling, holding, accessing and correction of personal information" which privacy law aims to protect.

It may surprise you to know that most Australian small-businesses are not covered by the Privacy Act, meaning they have no responsibility to ensure the privacy of their customer information.

There are however moral and commercial pressures: online privacy is already so important to some customers that it is a determining factor when choosing one eStore over another.

So what can eStores do to allay the fears of increasingly privacy-conscious customers?

We've put together 10 simple but powerful tactics that website owners can use to reduce the fears of customers that are concerned about their on-line privacy:

  1. Ensure that areas of the website that collect personal information (such as the registration form, or the checkout payment page) are secured using HTTPS - Consumers are now learning to "look for the lock" and discriminate if they don't see it. (Pro Tip: Make the whole website HTTPS secure).

  2. Only collect personal details that are absolutely necessary to conduct business - If you don't need it to conduct your business, don't collect it. The more personal information a customer needs to fill into a form, the more wary they become. (Pro Tip: Never collect a customers Date of Birth unless it is a legal requirement for your industry)

  3. Have a clear and easy to understand Privacy Policy, that is easily accessible and visible - Don't just put your Privacy Policy in a small link at the bottom of your website, link to it where ever you are collecting personal information and make it very clear that privacy is important to you.

  4. Clearly state the personal information that you will AND will not collect and what you will do with this information - This allows customers to know exactly what personal information and why they need to provide it. 

  5. Give visitors access to view the information that has been collected about them, and allow them to update it easily. 

  6. Don't use sensitive personal information which could identify a customer in e-Mail or newsletters - e-Mail is an insecure medium. Not only is a bad idea to include sensitive personal information in e-Mail, it also decreases customer confidence when they see their personal details being sent over an insecure medium. (Pro Tip: Never send a clear password in an e-mail: instead send a partially masked password hint or preferably, allow the customer to re-set their password securely)     

  7. Encourage your customers to protect their personal information by using strong passwords, and to change them regularly - Protecting privacy is as much a responsibility of the customer as it is of the business

  8. Where appropriate, allow visitors to interact with your website anonymously - It isn't always necessary to collect personal information to conduct business. This may just be a case of allowing the customer to browse without needing to register first, or allowing them to post comments anonymously.

  9. Opt-In to the Australian Privacy Act, and advertise this fact - Show your commitment to good privacy practice by opting into the Australian Privacy Act. Doing so will have your business name added to the public Opt-In Register, which can increase consumer confidence and trust.

  10. Have a data breach response plan - as some organisations such as eBay have learned, honesty and open communications are the best policies to keep customers informed. A response plan will not only serve to decrease the impact on the affected individuals, having such a plan can also improve customer confidence.


Personal privacy is a very important part of everyday life, and this extends to using the Internet including sending and receiving e-mail, browsing the Web, using social media and especially shopping on-line.

Anything website and eStore operators do to improve customer confidence, including addressing increasingly important privacy concerns, should improve customer experience and satisfaction, and a happy customer is much more likely to be a returning customer.



If you are unsure whether your business needs to comply with the Australian Privacy Act, you can use the OAIC Privacy Checklist for Small Business .



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