Australia’s ecommerce landscape is continuing to transform at a rapid rate. The entry of new marketplaces, the proliferation of pay-later services, and a growing range of delivery options are fundamentally conditioning and changing consumer behaviour with the expectation that online transactions of goods and services be quick and easy.
Aussies are continuing to embrace these changes, with research suggesting Australia’s total online sales are predicted to exceed $32 billion AUD in 2017. Combine this with the fact that 4 out of 10 Australians buy products online at least once a month, and it’s clear that there is enormous appetite for ecommerce.
SMB and mid-market Australian retailers now have an unprecedented opportunity to capture market share online. However, the digital economy has forced businesses to adopt new paradigms to attract and retain customers, which have created a customer-centric shopping model where businesses must go above and beyond consumer expectations to break through and provide a differentiated shopping experience. To do this, retailers must embrace new and modern technologies or risk getting left behind in a rapidly changing and progressive landscape in which innovators are awarded.
This might seem daunting, but it doesn’t need to be. There are a number of simple measures e-tailers can take to optimise sales, delight customers, and increase profitability.
Make great first (and last) impressions
A landing page is your first engagement with a potential customer. It’s where consumers will form their initial impressions of your business and potentially decide if they’re going to spend money with you. It’s your chance to share your brand and convince visitors that they should invest in your product.
But it’s no longer sufficient to simply focus on an inviting homepage. Today, almost every page on your site has the potential to be a customer’s first interaction with your brand. This means every corner should make a great first impression, while also demonstrating a clear purpose.
One page often ignored is the checkout. Despite being the most valuable page for any business selling online, brands often fail to optimise the checkout experience, essentially undermining their hard work generating traffic. When buying online, today’s customers expect a streamlined process — one that avoids unnecessary fields and makes them feel safe and secure throughout. Unfortunately, too many brands ignore this, which is part of the reason 7 in 10 online shopping carts are ultimately abandoned. What’s more, research shows cart abandonment is higher in Australia than anywhere else in the world.
Embracing a “sell everywhere” strategy
Many consumers don’t care about where they purchase their goods, focusing instead on the value and convenience of what they’re buying. In their mind, there is little difference between purchasing a new jacket on eBay or on your site — as long as it is priced competitively, arrives quickly and safely, and is in the condition they expect. This isn’t a bad thing, but it does mean your branded site shouldn’t be your only channel of engagement.
Diversifying is absolutely key to adapting in this ever-evolving ecommerce landscape. Let’s take Amazon as an example. The upcoming entry of the retail giant into the Australian market presents other online retailers enormous opportunity to introduce their brands to a bigger audience, and Amazon’s recent partnership with Nike is a great example of this. Making your products available to purchase on Amazon, as well as other marketplaces such as Facebook, Google, and eBay, will help increase sales and market presence. This all said, a solid home base remains critical in developing and maintaining credibility as a trusted retailer — seeing an established presence outside a marketplace helps mitigate any concerns.
Make life easier for your customers with a variety of payment options
An increasing number of big retail players are offering new pay options like payment after delivery, credit, and split payments. Consumers are quickly moving from viewing these choices as a novelty, to expecting them in the online shopping experience.
Adopting alternative payment options through platforms such as AfterPay, PayPal Credit or Klarna Payments means you can offer added benefits such as rapid checkout, credit, and ‘pay-later’ options to your sales channel without much hassle. Digital wallets like Apple Pay and Amazon Pay also tend to be a preferred payment method on mobile devices where manually entering credit card and shipping details is cumbersome, and making it easier to purchase using stored billing and shipping presets.
Sign, seal, and deliver
Big retail marketplaces are setting the bar high when it comes to shipping and delivery by offering lower costs, free returns, and same day or two-hour delivery. Every day merchants stand to lose millions in sales due to shipping-related abandoned carts if they don’t rise to this new standard. In order to compete on exceptional customer experience, online retailers need to strike a balance between offering the lowest shipping rates in even shorter time frames, while still covering costs and making a profit.
The good news is this isn’t as hard as it seems. In the last two years alone, a number of post and delivery startups have burst onto the scene, disrupting the way product distribution takes place. You should consider free, same-day, on-demand and express shipping, flat rate and table rate shipping, and live rates from carriers — or a mix implemented on a case-by-case basis to effectively balance your revenue needs with promotional opportunities.
There’s no doubt that the ecommerce landscape is changing, and will continue to do so as technology advances. If we’ve learned anything from the rise of businesses like Amazon, it’s that customer-centricity defines those who succeed and fail. In other words, those who confidently embrace change, rather than run from it, are the ones who will thrive.
About the author
Jordan Sim is a Group Product Manager at BigCommerce. He enjoys taking merchants along the product design journey and delivering features that are simple to use and meaningful. Jordan also focuses on enabling integrations between BigCommerce and other partner products, to equip merchants with the tools and services they need to operate their entire business within the BigCommerce ecosystem. Jordan is based out of Sydney and has a strong passion for product leadership, and health and fitness.