Concise Digital
Concise Digital

True Stories of Survival & Growth for eCommerce & Online Stores during COVID19

True Stories of Survival & Growth for eCommerce & Online Stores during COVID19

Posted in Concise Webinars, COVID-19 News & Tips, E-Commerce by on May 28, 2020
True Stories of Survival & Growth for eCommerce & Online Stores during COVID19

In this Concise Webinar, we share some lessons learnt during the past few months of the COVID19 business era.

These are true stories of survival & growth for eCommerce and Online Stores, and cover 8 important areas.

This Concise Webinar was presented live by Gareth Lane and Richard Keeves on 28 May 2020.

Full Webinar Transcript: Top Tips for eCommerce & Online Stores in 2020 – True Stories of Survival & Growth during COVID19

Richard: Good morning everybody. Thank you very much for joining us for this session which we planned a few months ago Top Tips for eCommerce and Online Stores in 2020. Who would have thought that 2020 was going to turn into such an interesting year? A couple of months ago 2020 was being referred to as the year that got cancelled but what we found is that business continued on. Business did not get cancelled and what we found was some businesses did very well and are doing very well at this time.

So today instead of just Top Tips for eCommerce and Online Stores what we’re looking at here are true stories of survival and growth during the Covid 19 period and also some lessons we learned. Hello everybody my name is Richard, Richard Keeves and I’m a director of Concise Digital and I’d also like to introduce my fellow director Gareth Lane. Gareth?

Gareth: Good morning everyone, the Gareth voice reporting for duty.

Richard: And Gareth brain as well.

Gareth: The brain is turned on and I’ve got a coffee.

Richard: There you go. Okay. For those people who haven’t participated in one of our webinars before these are the Concise Webinars. We are Concise Digital. We try to make these valuable, 100% educational without waffle. If anyone does the waffle it’s normally me so I’m keeping that to a minimum and what we want to make sure is that you walk away with some things that you didn’t know before you came in and that you can use when you leave so that’s the purpose.

These sessions are recorded and the recording will be available later for rewatching or to pass on to anyone you want. It’ll be on YouTube, on our channel and also on the Concise website. We are happy to take questions in chats through the session and we hopefully have time for live Q&A at the end.

What are some of the lessons we learned? One of the first ones was the importance of communication. And communication, the phone is a great way of communicating. As I was saying to someone just the other day walking down the street saying hello to someone if that’s possible is a great way of communicating. Communicating to a mass of customers is a little trickier though and what’s important is to understand how to do it effectively and so email has worked really well over the last few months. Social media, updating your Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, keeping things updated so that people who want to find you can find you relatively easily and also updating your website. Updating your website seems very basic or seems the sort of thing that yes you can do but one of the new things that we learned over the last few months and in fact in the very first week of the big kind of lockdown period was the need for businesses to let people know what was going on in their business.

How to keep your website info current? What we did and other people did as well. It wasn’t just us being clever. That was we developed the easily updatable what we call the Covid banner strip. Gareth you were going to show some examples of that. That’s something that we found was very, very helpful for lots of our clients.

Gareth: I am indeed. I’m just going to do a quick little screen check. Are you seeing my screen alright?

Richard: It’s coming to me. It’s coming to me. There you go. Yes, got you.

Gareth: Okay so this particular one I think the people at Kmart there’s a team of people who I think no longer have jobs anymore because Kmart in their wisdom decided to set up a queue system for website traffic. I have not in the history of using the internet ever being told to wait to go on a website. I don’t know if anyone in this webinar saw the same thing but I wanted to buy something I think it was some Lego because I had nothing else to do during Covid so I wanted to buy some Lego. I Googled the Lego, found an ad, clicked on the ad and then landed at the Kmart website. I was told that I was going to a queue and I had to wait five minutes in order to have my spot to browse their web site.

I thought that was absolutely ridiculous and then so I went back to Google found Big W and then went and bought it from Big W. Kmart lost. Don’t ever do that. There’s an expectation that even through Covid your website should be online. If people want to use it they want to use it so instead their latest website now seems to have some little updates and this is to help illustrate the point about what can be done very easily. Kmart’s way of doing it is this little banner strip here to let you know that they’re running low on some stock. It’s very easy. It’s site wide. Able for them to be updated easily and then they also have a site wide banner strip at the top here that they’ve now changed a free delivery on all orders. If you click that it takes you to a page of content.

Some similar examples that we did for a travel agent obviously a travel company was extremely affected I guess is the nicest way of putting it. A simple little strip with an editable page where Mike, who runs this business can give an update to all his customers. Very easy little thing to do and a really nice sort of feature on going. Another example here Dan Murphys. I’m a frequent shopper of Dan Murphy’s at the moment. Again being locked inside the house most of the time. They’ve used it as a way of using their new catalog out now. From a development point of view it’s very, very simple. It’s completely site wide so it’s a really good little strip to have on your website in order to keep people updated or highlight certain things. Back to you.

Richard: Okay whoops. Okay so hang on.

Gareth: Sorry that was me.

Richard: Okay sorry everybody. Okay so the point of lesson number two and the point number two is to really understand your customers. I mean this is it’s one of those lessons in business that we all kind of think of course that kind of goes without saying but in these last few months it’s been really, really important to understand your customers. What they want the most? What do they want to buy and how do they want to buy it? Also which devices do they use and which devices do they want to use? We’ve got some examples now.

We are very, very protective of our clients’ confidentiality so we’re not able to show you the websites that relate to these some of these examples that we’re going to be talking through but there’s a prominent, we got lots of clients. One of them is a prominent retailer. They’ve got five stores or at the start of Covid they did. They don’t have five stores now. We’re very focused with Google Analytics and what Google Analytics show for this client showed that their customers were predominantly trying to access the site on mobile. We had, over the last few months and in fact I last year, reviewed the whole web site and suggested, recommended that they really focus on mobile. They didn’t do that and when the Covid stuff struck they then had to shut down and actually had to close two stores.

What they did do very wisely was focus on their online and the stores that that they wanted to keep and instead of and as part of the focus on online they made the decision to invest in their mobile website which we developed very, very quickly for them. We didn’t like often websites can take weeks or months, we really their boys worked incredibly ridiculous hours to get stuff done very quickly for clients. We developed it very quickly for them and rolled out the new website and they promoted to their existing client base. They had a 3% increase in traffic and it wasn’t like a massive increase in traffic but it was more of their existing customers coming back to the website.

The conversion rate doubled because of the focus on mobiles. People were coming to the site on mobile and suddenly the site worked better on mobile. Their website sales went up by 112%. Yes, that is actually more than double what they were doing previously and so the whole thing really paid for itself brilliantly. this is a big business and it really paid for itself and it taught us a lesson as well to make sure that not only when we make recommendations we also need to point the downside of the client not implementing things but they really did it and they did it well.

Some other things that came through over the last few months is the user experience is really key. When users are, when customers people are at home or mobile wherever they are they want to make sure that the whole process of using website is very, very easy and convenient and simple. Now we talked about that. We talked about that all the time. That’s called the user experience. What is the experience that the users have? Improve the user experience is a general kind of a concept and how do you do that?

Well there are some points on the screen there at the moment. Make sure that your return policy and shipping info is very, very clear. Give people the ability to search really well. Make sure that if they find products that are out of stock that they can do something about ordering them. One of the tips that came through is if a product’s temporarily out of stock you can actually set the delivery times to be a little bit longer for those. There’s some risks of not being other deliver so you’ve got to balance that out. Shipping details, delivery speed.

Some of our clients also used Facebook Live for free. It’s a free thing part of Facebook so they can stream videos from their stores and show themselves in the stores with products they’ve got just to get people on social media thinking about and talking about that business. Also Facebook messenger. Facebook Messenger has really become the de-facto chat product if you want on your website. It’s great if you use Facebook. You can message people but if you’ve got a website you can have Facebook Messenger and lots of people in fact, I would say most people use Facebook at some level. There’s always the exception but most people use Facebook and those who do use Facebook Messenger. Having that as a plug-in on your website is very convenient. Gareth, over to you to talk about this one.

Gareth: Okay so I’m going to use this example now. I’m sure the client won’t mind because it was actually their idea so I can’t take the credit for coming up with this suggestion however I think it’s a wonderful one. They had a very interesting type of product. They found that their customers were often ordering the wrong things because they, the products are all very similar in words but the image of the tub if you like which I think you can see on the screen now can be quite different.

Rather than having a typical sort of menu where you have all your products listed by words they’ve instead made a major focus on their search. If I type in a key term there it loads all of the products with images and pricing in the search. I think that’s really good from a user’s point of view. It’s really clear. It loads quickly. I can scroll up and down. It’s a lot nicer than your typical search not particularly difficult to do. It didn’t cost them millions of dollars to do it. It’s just a simple little third-party plugin that we installed on their website. I think that’s a really nice way of keeping the user happy and improving the user experience. Back to you.

Richard: Thank you sir okay so next point is the difference that a lot of businesses are really nice to attract new customers and they’re very keen to give discounts and free shipping and various benefits for new customers but they kind of forget they’re their long-term customers. They ignore or take for granted their existing long-term customers and what happened in Covid times is long-term customers had a lot more choice because they were at home. They had a lot more time on their hands and what we were finding was they some businesses who had been previously focusing in on just getting new customers we’re starting to lose existing ones.

One retailer did a really smart thing with their existing customers. They used their mailing lists. They made a good offer. They created a special code and they sent this to their existing customers. Now they normally send emails to their existing customers but not as good as what they did. Their traffic from the email to their website increased by 270% as you can see their on-screen conversion rates went up by 89%. The revenue from the email went up by 537% over what they normally got from an email. Like it was a good offer, it was a good offer at the right time. Yes, that makes sense but it wasn’t a ridiculously good offer. It was just a good offer.

What they found for their whole store and their whole group 26% of the revenue that their whole business got in that week came from that one email campaign which was astonishing. Clearly that helped pay the bills that week so it was a smart thing.

The next point is about focus and understanding that in times even now obviously and last year and next year there are products that people want to buy. We need to make sure that you’re getting and targeting them in a way that they can be targeted. What we found over the last few months though it was really even more important to understand what people wanted to buy and to make sure that we were focusing specific products for the specific customers who wanted to buy them and then as we got on the screen there then promote them. Don’t just hope that they’re going to trip across your website.

Now with websites we call those landing pages that are pages that are specifically crafted to provide information on a particular product or service to a particular target audience. We’re going to show you an example of something we did and it was not to brag but we’re actually quite proud of this and the sort of thing like why didn’t we do this before but we actually looked around over the last few months ago in the start of the Covid scenario and said okay who are the people who really need to have a good website at the moment. eCommerce merchants were one but there was another group as well and they were schools. They really needed to have a website that they could look after, maintain and make sure that all of the information they needed to share was being shared effectively. Gareth over to you.

Gareth: Okay thanks. I’m just going to double check that Carol’s mentioned on the chat there that she might not be able to see the screen so can you confirm that this is on the screen now.

Richard: I can see it.

Gareth: Yes so it’s loading okay so Carol it might be something with your browser but we’ll continue on because it should be working as it normally does. Okay so I think…

Richard: If anyone else could put in chat if you’re having problems then please let us know.

Gareth: It is being recorded so the content will be there on YouTube later on today so I think the important thing to understand with this is understanding who the target customer was. We chose this particular example because being a digital agency we have lots of different clients in lots of different industries and schools in particular have no interest in SEO or ads or eCommerce or digital marketing or anything like that. They have a very specific need for a single website that is just for their school. What we wanted to demonstrate with this example is using a landing page with its own layout, its own URL. You don’t have to do it on the home page and we configured our own Google Ads to target school websites particularly for landing on this page. They don’t go to the home page. They don’t go to a services page. They just land on a single web page completely dedicated to schools. We don’t talk about anything to do with eCommerce. We don’t talk about any examples of any other websites that we’ve done. Everything on this page is related to websites for schools.

The proof really is in the pudding when we put this live a couple of weeks ago I think, maybe even a month. We’ve already had eight website inquiries for schools and nearly all of them have converted based on this landing page so we didn’t spend hardly any money on it. If we were to do this for a client it wouldn’t cost a great deal to do. It was really just a great demonstration of understanding who the target customer was and directing them to a very specific page of content that was written and designed for them. That’s really the point that we’re trying to illustrate. Back to you.

Richard: Thank you sir. Okay next point is about conversions. Now with eCommerce stores it’s all about conversions. Once you’ve got people coming to your website it’s important to have them convert. Now as a general principle every website leaks. It’s like a leaky bucket and so the game is to plug the leaks, reduce the leaks and make sure you keep people on the site. You can’t physically keep them. You just build the systems and the processes so that they don’t abandon the process as easily.

There’s some key points here and these are things we could in fact I was going to say we could run a whole session on this. We actually did. Two weeks ago we focused a whole webinar on Google Analytics and it’s up on the Concise website at the moment if you want to watch it but understand analytics is the first key. Don’t waste the visitors who come to your website but when you do think about what you’re going to do. Look at the points at which they may abandon, look at the points at which you’re not convenient where maybe what you’re doing is confusing. What’s the process? Anything that you can do to remove confusion and increase convenience, reduce friction and improve streamlining flow is going to be generally good for your conversions. It’s important there. As an example, Gareth you talk about this one.

Gareth: Okay so this particular example that is on the screen at the moment hopefully people can see it. They came to us as a referral and they had really good analytics but not necessarily sure what the analytics were saying. They were having a, their eCommerce conversion rate wasn’t really, it was okay but it wasn’t great. What we sort of found by a bit of digging and yes, there’s a few trained eyes that know what they’re looking for. We noticed that the traffic that wasn’t converting was coming from the US so they had a lot of traffic that wasn’t related to their own business in Australia.

In analytics we were able to tell that and then when we excluded the US traffic the eCommerce conversion rate looked a lot better. We then went digging through the Australian traffic so we’re in Google Analytics we can filter the traffic by country or city or state or however granular you want to go. Then so we installed a new theme for the mobile and the desktop because most of the traffic was mobile and the conversion rate went up almost overnight by 20%. Their sales in Australia because they again focused on Australian customers on their Australian website went up 45%.

It’s a good lesson in understanding what website to show what user in what country. I find that if a US based customer Google’s a product and then the Australian site ranks for example they’re likely to get traffic to that Australian website but when they look at the shipping or the payment options or the currency they might be turned off. Instead a really good way of improving that is to have what’s called a geolocation app which automatically picks up where a user’s from and then suggests to them either in a pop-up or in a banner strip across the top of the website that they look like they’re coming in from the US how about you visit our US website. Once we did that as well then the conversion rate in the US went up and the sales went up as well. It’s really a lesson in understanding where your customers are. Don’t just assume that because you’re in Australian business that all of your traffic is in Australia. Really make sure you focus on having the right landing page and the right website for the right audience.

The lesson in that is use Google Analytics to understand where your customers are. Don’t look at overall summary conversion rates because you might be misled by the data so you really want to sort of filter your views in Google Analytics. If you’re not sure how to do that feel free to send me a quick email. I’ll show you how to do it. It’s very easy and then it’ll help you make better decisions on what you spend money on your website.

Richard: Okay so other point about conversions is understanding that not everybody buys. Some people load things into their cart and then they for whatever reason don’t follow through at the checkout. One thing you can do is send an email to those people who have abandoned their cart. We call that an abandoned cart email and there is a sort of a standard of typical what a lot of people achieve 6% to 8% conversion rate or less than that for abandoned cart email. Six percent, some people think that’s pretty good 6% conversion rate.

One of our clients who’s also a friend of mine gets a 15% conversion rate and sometimes as high as 20% conversion rate from his abandoned cart emails. Yes he has a special offer on there for free shipping if people wanted to use that but then that’s part of what you can include in abandoned cart emails to have special offers that are not available prior to that. You don’t want to train people to just wait for the abandoned cart email but if they didn’t buy at the point of checkout then you’ve lost them anyway unless they come back. One way to get them to come back is to send them an email.

What this guy has worked out is the best form of email to send is one that actually looks authentic like he wrote it himself to that individual person. One of the lessons is to make your email look persona or look real and not a standard mass-produced thing and then test that. You can test the standard mass-produced abandoned cart email, test the personal email and see which one works better.

Next point is and this is another lesson that was really important is businesses that are doing well now are the ones and that will do better over the next few months as things lighten up even more is those who stay visible online. The smart businesses kept visibility and we talked about that. The concept is they went dark. They went dark online. Google didn’t see them anymore and customers then didn’t see them. Gareth talk about this one.

Gareth: Yes, it’s a really interesting point this and the morning about I remember it vividly about six weeks ago there was that Monday morning where everything kind of shit hit the fan. I think I fielded ten phone calls in the space of an hour of clients ringing up effectively in panic cancelling all sorts of things. I remember having very detailed conversations with people about well look, why don’t you keep going. The market’s going to return. People still going to want to do things and look I understand that it was all a bit uncertain but this particular client sort of saw the long-term view. They were an accommodation business in Regional WA. For those of you in WA like me you’ll know that the borders were restricted and so anyone plans to go away on holiday the plans were cancelled however that was not going to be the case for the next ten years, five years or possibly even a year. They continued on with their SEO and there their ads. Yes, there’s a bit of cost involved in that but it is very much a long term view. It’s not something you can really sort of turn on and off instantly anyway.

The proofs now in the pudding now that the borders were reopened about a week or so ago. They’ve had a 280% increase in traffic and a 1400% increase in bookings in the last month. It really is in the last sort of two weeks so some of their competitors are no longer being found in Google. When people are Googling for their terms this particular business is ranking and they’re getting the results. I guess the lesson in this is marketing is always a long term long term view and you always want to be found when your people are looking. If there is no one in the market then so be it. If you’re running paid ads you wouldn’t be paying for those ads anyway because most of the ad spend is based on paying per click so if there is no one Googling in the first place and no one’s going to be clicking on the ad. You wouldn’t be spending but cancelling everything and turning everything off and just sitting on your hands in my opinion is a really bad idea. I also I’m not suggesting that you should waste money on anything and if it isn’t working then you should stop it. The beauty of having Google Analytics and all of the numbers is you can keep a really tight lid on it by tracking that data.

I say this this is a prime example of it working out very well for them because they kept going and they really understood their customer. They understood their analytics and proofs in the pudding on that one.

Richard: Okay. Next point is about connected like we’ve all felt a little isolated and we’ve been isolated. Yes but one of the things that we found also I think generally all of us, most of us. I can’t speak on your behalf but certainly my friends and my family enjoyed being connected with others and the technology was often the godsend that allowed that to happen. As far as connectivity people need to be connected and so do for successful businesses online so do systems. The systems need to be connected and what we’ve observed over the last few months is that where systems are integrated into the business and the website or where they’re not is actually a success factor on whose website is doing better than someone else’s.

The more you’ve got integrated systems that work in real time to give you real-time information the better off you’re going to be. When we’re talking about systems we’re talking about CRM, social media integration, marketing systems, stock levels and delivery management systems, supply chain management. The more integrated you are in real time the better off your business is going to operate generally as long as you make sure that you use proven systems that are reliable and secure and trustworthy and fast. As long as you don’t move too far on to the bleeding edge and use stuff that is not yet really developed totally well. There’s a lot of stuff out there that pretends to do the job and when you explore it it’s some guy who had a good idea and then build a good website and is now sort of hoping that people are going to start buying his product. If they don’t buy his product then he won’t continue to support the product. If you’ve got if you’re using that as part of a mission critical application that can now be a bad thing if the business goes out of business. Be careful what products you use that you integrate into your website. Make sure that.

I guess that brings us to the last point which is which is trust. This is important both within your business and within the people who from whom you get business advice. Make sure you’re giving, you’re dealing with people who tell you the truth especially in tough times. You don’t want someone to tell you stuff that may or may not be right. You don’t want someone to kind of sell you snake oil, what you want to buy or not buy. Stuff that’s going to work. One of the things we would suggest very strongly is to make sure that you are dealing and surrounding yourself with people both in your business and also those for whom you get advice people who tell you the truth.

Okay now we’re running through. We’ve kind of gone a little bit over time. Hopefully it’s okay but we’re very happy to take any questions if anyone’s got any questions on any of this stuff. There’s a lot of things we could have added in. This is a concise webinar and these are some of the key lessons that we’ve had over the last few months.

Gareth: I guess if I could just add to that last point what I really wanted to share in this particular webinar is that all of the examples they were not designed for us to sort of say how good we are or anything like that at all. It was really trying to explain that use the Google Analytics data which we ran a previous webinar on. It is on our website if you want to watch it and there’s no way of arguing with the truth of the data. The data will give you the answers. Yes, it can be a little bit tricky to read but there are plenty of people who know who can make sense it but the data painted the picture of the problem and then we came up with solutions.

Some of the examples we gave, the clients came up with the solutions themselves but the real point that we’re trying to make is Google Analytics is where you should start when you’re making changes with your website look at Google Analytics, understand what the customers are doing. If you keep customers happy on your website and you keep showing them things that they want to find and they want to read. My Kmart example is a wonderful example of how not to do it. Then then you will get a lot more success and hopefully the case studies that we included today demonstrate that proof really is in the pudding.

A question just come in from Nick. Hi Nick. How are you going? How easy is it to add a geo app to a WooCommerce site and does it convert prices to US dollars? Okay two parts to that question. First part of the question yes, it is very easy to add a geo app to a WooCommerce website. WooCommerce is WordPress so there are paid versions and free versions. The free versions are quite good however only the IP address is a cache so it’s not in real time. If say you’re a user that has a dynamic IP address then it won’t necessarily do it in real time. I’d probably say it’s nine tenths of the way there. If you wanted sort of 100% accuracy then the paid live IP traces, they’re not very expensive. Under $100 a year then but it does make it much more accurate for the IP tracking. That’s how they work out the geolocation.

Does it convert prices to US? That’s a quite a difficult question to answer because there’s lots of different ways to do it. You can have a, if your WooCommerce site is configured with Australian dollar pricing then you would need a third party currency conversion to automatically convert the pricing to US dollars however many clients that I’ve worked with have different prices. Let’s say they’re AU$ 100. They make it a $150 US. Oh sorry the other way around AU$150 Australian and making $100 US. It’s not converting it live it but it’s showing a different price so there’s quite a lot of different angles to that question but the first part of the question is very easy to answer.

As soon as you have a geolocation system on your site you can basically code anything to happen. I’ve got a client who has a very particular product for the UAE. Sorry tongue-tied there and when someone from the UAE hits their website it takes them to a specific page and changes the phone number and the address to their local retailer in the UAE. You can basically do anything. You can customize phone numbers, addresses, landing pages once you have an IP tracker installed on the site. Hopefully that answers your question.

Richard: Yes, pretty clever. Okay, if there’s any other questions please feel free to ask or please send us an email to follow up. Very happy to talk and help in any way we can. The next webinar is on June the 11th and that is How to Get Best Results with Google Ads. The focus on that one is about Google advertising and that’s pretty much it from today.

Thank you very much for attending. Hope that’s been good. Love your feedback on it. We’re always looking for ways to improve and also always looking for ideas of webinars on topics that you would like to know more about so please feel free to let us know if there’s any topics of interest that you think you would like to learn more about in a webinar type system.

Okay thanks everybody. We’re going to wrap up now and hope you’ve got some benefit from that. All the best. Have a great day and yes times may be tough but actually we can still get through all this and we are as is everyone who we can help along the way. Thank you very much everybody. See you.

Gareth: Thank you.


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