DO YOU RUN AN ONLINE STORE?
If you sell online, you know the online world is more competitive than ever. You need to be smarter than ever to survive and prosper.
In this Concise Webinar, we look at strategies for successful eCommerce in 2020, including some fundamental points a lot of businesses miss.
This Concise Webinar is presented by Malcolm Bull, Gareth Lane and Richard Keeves. It’s a ‘must’ for anyone serious about successfully selling online in 2020 and beyond.
Richard: Welcome to this Concise Webinar.
Smart eCommerce Strategies for 2020. My name is Richard Keeves and I’m joined today by Malcolm Bull and Gareth. Welcome to Concise Webinar. There are lots of people here today and not everybody has been to one of our concise webinars before. Just a quick run through. These are meant to be 100% educational, concise without waffle and we do try to keep them pretty tight on timeframe. Before we begin this is being recorded. You can submit questions. You can ask them through the chat box. You can ask them as we go along. We’ll also have time for live Q and A at the end. This is about Strategies for eCommerce for 2020. The good news is the strategies for 2020 are not such a lot different to what you may or may not have been doing up until now but what we’re focusing on now some of the things that are really important to be doing. The underlying points about this, the long term trends that are driving change and driving ecommerce is the constant need to make things more convenient, the constant need to make things faster for customers and faster for sellers to sell and to deliver and the need to be always available to make sure that what you’re presenting is available anytime, anyhow on any device.
The other point there about prices. Prices continually drive themselves down or being driven down. This makes it look like ecommerce is about having the lowest prices to be successful but that is actually not necessarily the case. The seller with the lowest price doesn’t always win. Why is that because there’s a heck of a lot more to it then just price? It’s about stock availability, the reputation of the seller, your shipping cost, your shipping policies, your return policies, payment options. The growth of Afterpay and Zip Pay like Zip Money and these various options that add in payment facilities that people had available a few years ago show that payment options and the ability to offer different payment options are really important. These things are often more important than price. There are lots of things that are more important than price. When everything is similar then price is the key determining. What is the most important thing of all though really are relationships and trust. The relationship that you have with your customer, the relationship that the customer has with you and of course the level of trust that is in that relationship. That is really the underpinning. Now, I’m going to hand the talking stick to Gareth who is going to take us through the next few points.
Gareth: Thanks Richard. One of the things to remember when you’re looking at your website and your ecommerce strategies for 2020 or any year in that matter is you can read a lot of things on the internet. There’s lot of really useful things that will tell you today but they all need to be considered in the view of your customer. It’s very important to know yourself really well and that means who are you as a business? What does your brand stand for? What are your objectives? What are you trying to achieve online? For example using After Pay. If you are using After Pay you’re going to lose between 5% and 6%. If you’re running a low margin business then perhaps that won’t be for you so while we might say that is a great thing for you to add. You need to consider how that applies to your own business. Remember why you started the business. Why does the business exist? What type of customers you’re trying to look for? Where do you fit in? What is your niche?
You might look at Google Shopping for example and there may only be a certain number of products that you are price competitive for or have stock for or have a competitive advantage in. You don’t want to be all things to all people. You also want to know your unique selling point. That is the USPs and make sure that they’re really obvious on your website. We often see websites that look exactly the same as everybody else. We want to make sure that your unique selling proposition and points of difference and why you do things differently to your competitors. They should be front of mind for your customer when they’re looking at your site.
You also want to know your products. If you’re selling unique products what are their benefits. I often use the analogy of going into a store and having a customer service rep come and talk to you and tell you all about how wonderful the product is. You really need to make sure all of that information is covered on your product descriptions. You’ve got lots of images. There’s lots of information about every product so that a consumer can make a decision there and then.
You also want to know your customers better. There’s a lot of information that you can get on customer demographics. You can use Google Analytics to work out what your customers are doing. Who are they? Where are they? What gender? Different colors, different font sizes are going to appeal to different age generations and different genders. For example, if you’re primarily targeting a 60 plus audience then you typically want to choose larger buttons because a lot of that demographic have their screen resolutions zoomed in so you don’t want to be using small fonts. Really consider who your ideal customers are. What are their pain points? What are they currently losing? Are they looking to buy online or are they still looking to bricks and mortars store and an ecommerce website is to assist in that process or are you primarily only an ecommerce store? Where do they go online? If you’re selling caravans then no doubt you’ll find a lot of your customers in the travel forums and so on. Get to know what they’re looking for and what they like. Make sure your website and all the strategies around that speak to them as a customer.
Also know your competitors. Where do you sit in the market? If you’re the most expensive business or you have the most expensive pricing then you need to have the best service. If you’re the cheapest for a certain price, are you able to deliver on that promise if you’ve got the fastest shipping? Is it the fastest shipping? Really make a list of your key competitors. I often find a table format is a really good way of doing it to list three columns with your primary competitors and make a list of all the things that they’re doing really well and then all the things that they’re doing really poorly. If you identify a common theme between all the competitors that they’re all doing something really bad or not very well then you could make that your point of difference. You could also join a competitor’s mailing list, follow them on social media, keeping on with their reviews and really look out for those pain points so that you can maximise your points of difference for your customers. Pass the mic baton back to Richard.
Richard: The next point really that we’ve got is strategy number four is to understand your numbers. Know your numbers better. This is about how you use analytics and this is the source of great numbers. It’s also about how you understand the numbers happening in your store not just coming from Google Analytics for example but understanding the profit margins you’ve got available in your products. That may be common sense but part of it is understanding how much money you’ve got available to spend on customer acquisition before you start making losses on products that you sell. A lot of ecommerce businesses think it’s okay to make a small loss in order to win a customer. That may be okay but in the long term it’s obviously not sustainable.
There’s some great stats that have come from a survey that McKinsey did a while back that shows the power of analytics. The companies that make intensive use of analytics are more likely to be more successful. As we say here winners knows their ratios. Using analytics gives you three times more likely to generate about average turnover growth and 23 times more likely to outperform competitors. Nine times more likely to surpass competitors and customer loyalty. Why is this? Because the companies that focus on and use their analytics actually understand what is going on and they use those analytics to drive more successful marketing and to drive more successful changes on the website. It’s not just about analytics itself. It’s about how you use the information and the insights that you get from it. I’m going to hand over to Malcolm who is going to talk about the next point mobile.
Malcolm: Going five, think mobile first is in title. Obviously if you know your customers and you know your clients and you know your analytics you’ll be well aware of what devices are being used to view your site. Whichever device is being used it’s obviously the first interaction with your website. It’s what is going to get across your message, your brand and your interactions. Everybody thinks that majority of views are on mobile and in most cases that is correct. A lot mobile interaction is actually browsing and viewing. One of the main things is although nowadays you have to optimise your mobile view because most people looking at you for the first time on mobile is not necessarily the platform that the user uses to actually make the conversion, the purchase on your website. One of the interesting things on this slide is that the stats that mobile devices generates 51% of the user traffic but actually only 33% of conversions. This is the case is a lot of situations. People will purchase on either a desktop or a tablet. Both or all interactions are really important in terms of getting across your brand. You have to at all times, you cannot just rely on what you put there. What we tend to do an awful lot of is actually review and tweak using the analytics to find out how we can improve the actual conversion rates. Also you do need to make sure that the speed and the usability for the customer is totally optimized to that customer and your customer base.
Moving quickly on to the next slide if I can click on that. There it is. One of the things just to let you know very quickly is an example where increasing the mobile experience, if you look at those things 81% increase in ecommerce conversions on desktops. That also includes increasing the conversion rate on mobiles by 36%. Increasing the mobile view will increase your click through and your conversion where it is actually targeted.
Richard: Just on that. This particular case study is a case study that is on the Concise website. We’ve got lots of case studies on the website now. One of the things about this was the website was done with a mobile first mindset but what happened as a result of focusing on the user experience is not just going mobile. It increased their mobile conversions but we also got astonishing increase on conversion rates on desktop as well. Mobile first doesn’t mean forgetting desktop. It means improving user experience.
Malcolm: Point six, the customer experience. Obviously this is one of the most important things in terms of engaging the customer is usability and navigation. A lot of these look very obvious points but it’s always worth stating the obvious. If you can’t use it and you can’t navigate you’ll never going to get to what you want to buy. The hosting and your speed, a lot platforms now are self-hosted so that the speed not a big issue. One thing to note is a lot of software out there for measuring speed doesn’t actually cover all angles. Be careful what you use and the results you get. Content, obviously content needs to be engaging. Making bite sizes not rambling, authentic and consistent on brand and just get the message across. Useful FAQs, another way to get content in there and something where the clients will actually search and look for questions on your products. Site search, obviously depending on the number of products, the collections that you’re involved in but site searches can be very important on large sites and improved product information. Again, if you can be concise and use videos for explanation of how to use the product etc. that will engage.
We do use a lot of tools to check out what people do and how they do it. They are all the useful tools. They’re listed there that will help you improve the overall customer experience on your website. Never take it as ‘done’ once you have finished. Just keep checking, keep looking at the data, keep tweaking. You can always improve the number of sales that you’ll get. I’ll hand it back.
Richard: Thanks Malcolm. The next strategy is to actively build more trust and proof. Don’t just leave it up to chance whether people give you reviews. I mean obviously it’s about that they choose whether they’re going to give you a good review or not but it’s a way of actively trying to focus on making sure that there is proof both within Google, within Facebook and on your website that customers like you and trust you. Google reviews are really important but what is also really important is to make sure that you always respond to those reviews and respond nicely to the reviews. Reviews are important. We’ve actually got some new tools and we’re going on review collection and management. There’s going to be a webinar ran next year. That will focus on some of these new things that we’ve got available for managing reviews.
The next strategy is about improving sales processes. With ecommerce sites once people are on the site it’s then really important that you make sure that you take them through a process that the process works for them but it’s also got to work for you. The actions under the strategy of improving sales processes on your website include reviewing the conversion points, the calls to action and not just doing that on a desktop but do it on mobile, tablet and desktop as well. This is about making sure that conversions are easy. When you go through these think about it from the perspective of a customer and maybe one who is not familiar with your website. Rather than you do all of these checks get somebody who is not familiar with your website but somebody who is prepared to tell you the truth to run through and explain what they’re thinking as they run through.
Check your shipping costs. One of the biggest abandonment points within ecommerce platforms and ecommerce shops is the shipping costs. When someone discovers what the shipping costs they can abandon. Make sure your shipping costs are as good as you can get them but also they’re as obvious as you can make them so that people can see them right up front. Returns policies, 80% of shoppers are deterred by inconvenient return policies. If that is the case make them convenient. Make them friendly. Checkout process, 74% of shoppers will seek out a competitor if the site they’re on is too cumbersome. Improve the abandoned cart emails. If you’re not using emails to follow up to people who have abandoned your carts then it’s a massive opportunity. Continue to tweak those so that you can improve the responses and the results you get.
Don’t just sell the products that the customer is wanting. Offer complimentary products. This is about saying if you can add to the basket then you can improve the sale and building that into the sales process can be really important. Buy online, pick up in store. Once you get the people in the store then you can obviously work with them and improvement their experience. There’s a growing trend in buying online, pick up in store. There’s also a growing trend in research online, purchase offline. It’s called ROPO. That’s where people are doing the research but they are actually wanting to buy in store. There are people who want to buy in store allow them to focus on them.
The point there about fraudulent credit cards is actually really important. Most people are on top of this but if a card is going to be fraudulent you want to know that before you start fulfilling the order. Unpacking experience, when somebody gets the product delivered to them and they go through the experience of unpacking it then how can you improve that? That is part of the sales process. It’s part of the fulfilment process.
There’s other things to be thinking about as well in customer service. How can you improve the way you respond? How can you improve the way that you’re actively supporting customers to have a better experience by providing them with better improve responses. One of the examples that we talked a bit about are businesses that made a difference and made an impact is Iconic where Iconic, obviously they want you to buy from their shop, from their store which is a marketplace. It’s not just Iconic selling stuff. They allow other sellers to come in and sell through Iconic but what they offer is a 110% credit. If you make a purchase through Iconic and you decide to return the product you can either get a refund or you can get a credit and it’s not just that for your money that you spent already. They’ll give you a 110% credit to use next time. That makes a difference and it makes you reassured that you’re not losing money and in fact you can actually make money to a certain extent. Obviously you’ve got to then spend it and that is good for them too.
Strategy number 10, improve how you’re using Google. Get good SEO help. Understand that the Google My Business listing is actually really important. Check it and make sure that it’s as optimized as you can make it. Make sure it’s got the information that people are likely to be looking for. Google’s answer box where people type in questions to Google and Google presents answers. Try to win that. That is one way of really making sure of using Google to the max. If you are a local business Google maps are really important. That is tied in your Google My Business listing. There are lots of things you can do to optimise your maps listing. Google Shopping offers opportunities to sell products. It may or may not work for you but it is certainly working for a lot of businesses. Google Ads can be always tweaked and make more effective. Google advertising is a set and forget thing. Some people think it is and they just let it roll whereas if you finely tune and optimise ads on an ongoing basis you can really make improvements. Part of that goes to quality scores. If you’re not sure what quality scores are we ran a webinar on that a while back. It’s available through our website. To understand the quality scores is really important. It can make a difference not only to the effectiveness of your ad but also to the cost of the ad. Google Remarketing and Google Reviews continue the work. Google sucks enough money and information out of all of us where you’re running a business online you can make better use of Google if you put your mind to it and there’s lots of ways.
Similarly improve how you’re using Facebook. Are you using Facebook? There are lots of ways to improve how you’re using Facebook. Facebook advertising is an obvious one. You don’t have to run the same ads for everybody. Facebook allows you to target different ads to different sorts of users. Different ads for customers, different ads for your prospects, different ads to look alike audience and so you can really start getting out there but with different messages that are targeted to people who may be able to use them.
Instagram, obviously a powerful platform. There’s lots of opportunities to how you use that. Messenger chat, messenger is really becoming in our experience the chat product of choice. If you’ve got a website rather than choosing some of the separate chat systems, a lot of these businesses are going for messenger chat because so many of their customers already using Facebook and using messenger. Messenger chat gets you way of offering sales and making sales but also customer and service support. There’s lots of chatbots for messenger chat. Be really careful of them. Some of them are better than others. You can automate some. Chatbots look like they’re a handy thing but you can automate yourself to actually destroying customer relationships with a chatbot that makes you look like somebody who doesn’t really care.
The next point is moving in to the threats and risks. These are things to be careful of. Be careful of the savvy user. Customers are clever. Customers know how businesses operate and they know if they don’t buy on the first email in a week’s time they may get a voucher or a coupon that says get 5% to 10% discount. Customers are becoming more and more savvy. Think about how you’re using your marketing techniques but understand they may be working against you just as much for you. I mentioned before about chatbots. Bad chatbots or things that haven’t been planned well can actually really destroy or hurt customer relationships.
Marketplaces are a growing area. There is a story just the other day how Bunnings are going to be releasing their new website. They’ve appear to be a bit behind the eight ball when it comes to ecommerce over the last 15 years because a few years ago they’ve had such a terrible inventory management system that they didn’t know what stock was in their warehouse so they couldn’t let people know about that online. What Bunnings apparently are now going to be releasing in the next few months, maybe next year I guess, this is the story, is a marketplace. It won’t just be Bunnings products that will be available. It may well be millions of other products that are available. This is similar to how Walmart operate in the United States. They’ve got a marketplace. Amazon have a marketplace where it’s not just amazon products. It’s sellers, other sellers who join and sell their products through the marketplace. As an example of a marketplace Alibaba in china is a massive marketplace for Chinese marketplace. Be careful of those. You can use marketplaces, never rely on them.
There’s a point about customer acquisition costs. One of the things that is really important to monitor is how much it costs to get a customer. Ideally you keep the customer acquisition cost less than the marketing allowance that’s in the initial sale or initial purchase of the customer but there are some businesses that operate with a customer acquisition cost actually greater than the lifetime value of the customer. That’s just a recipe for loss making disaster.
Some other threats and risks, these are relatively minor for most Australian ecommerce merchants but certainly are impacting some in the US but some of our clients who are selling big time into the US need to be aware that the US states with sales tax collections are getting very aggressive about collecting sales tax from sellers who are remote, out of the state, out of the country but if you are selling into the state and selling sufficient volume to trigger the level then they may come chasing you for sales tax. This is real. There are stories. PWC has released some information on this just recently. Typically the thresholds vary with different states but if you’re selling for example a $100,000 a year into a particular state you may well have triggered the threshold that you need to be collecting sales tax. There’s also some triggers based on the number of customers or the number of products that you sell not just the sales value. It’s something to check out.
Another point that has come up recently is about web accessibility. This is in the US more so than Australia but some ecommerce stores are not being sued because they are not accessible for people who for example, may be blind. Web accessibility is really important. As a general rule ecommerce sites and every other website should follow the WWWC, that is the World Wide Web Consortium’s accessibility guidelines. Most websites don’t follow that. Most ecommerce stores don’t follow that. Most don’t even know about it. Even government departments that are kind of relatively legally required to follow these guidelines often don’t. Web accessibility is something that is important. In terms of punishments or threats the fine that was being levied in California to a website just recently was a $4000 fine for not having their website accessible. It would probably cost more than that to make it fully accessible so that is one of the reasons why businesses just put up with it. It’s a great thing to make sure that your website is accessible to anybody who can come along to it. There’s some stories we could tell you more about that.
There are other threats and risks as well. These are threats and risks that are probably more induced by the business as opposed to external threats and risks. There’s paralysis by analysis where you get confused and hesitating too long about decisions so you do nothing. That is a threat. Complacency, where you think things are okay and they stay okay. That is a threat so is arrogance thinking that you’re so successful you’ll stay successful. The arrogance of success. Another point there is spending too much on things that don’t work but also not investing enough on things that does work or things that do work. These are threats and risks both to the business but also the mindset, how you approach things. How you approach things next year will be maybe similar to how you approach things next year but as with everything the world is speeding up. There are new things coming on stream.
That has been a quick run through of strategies for 2020. The key takeaways remember who your customer is, remember what devices they may like to use and do like to use, what channels they like to use and see these strategies that we have gone through the eyes of your customers. Think like a customer not like the store owner. If you are not sure how to do that then talk to your people who are your customers. You can never talk to too many customers. You talk to lots of customers and you’ll get lots of ideas. Look after your customers well. Normally they’ll keep coming back. Not always but normally. Never take customers for granted. You just can’t afford to do that these days.
That is a concise webinar on Strategies for 2020. We’ve got some question. We’re happy to take more questions. First question, I aim this one to Gareth. Can you talk more about USPs? How do I find my USP?
Gareth: USPs are unique selling points. I mentioned briefly before about starting off with a bit of a table for us technical people. Pen and paper are fine. It’s the easiest way to do this. Draw a nice little box with three columns and put yourself in one of the boxes and two or three others in the boxes that you think are competitors. You can find those competitors by Googling. You might know them already so on and so on. Then go through their websites and look for key things like do they have free shipping? Is it overnight shipping? Is it express shipping? Do they offer After Pay or Zip Pay or one of those? Do they offer PayPal? Do they offer different pick up in store options? What are their prices like? What are their image like do and a bit of a scoresheet? You can do one to 10. Give them a bit of a score. Look at mobile. Look at a desktop. Then once you’ve got an idea of your competitors and what they’re doing you can then give yourself a score in comparison. You might for example have the best shipping of all of them. If you have the best shipping then you could write a little tagline like Australia’s cheapest freight for example. That is a unique selling point. If you have the best prices you could write a tagline like lowest prices are just the beginning like Bunnings which is lies half the time but they’ve got enough to be able to prove it when they need to.
Say you offer 10 types of payment methods, you could write a unique selling method that could say something like 10 ways to check out. You are trying to find things that you differ. You may be the only people in your country or Australia that have local stock. Someone that I was talking to the other day had four physical warehouses spread around Australia. They’re the only people that have their product in stock and you can get it the same day. Their unique selling point that they should be leading across their website should be that they are the only people in Australia where you can get it today. If you need it today we can get it to you today. That is a good little exercise to do.
Richard: Another question. Can you please elaborate on try to win the Google answer box? Is that through mark-up language?
Gareth: I think that was in response to something that you said Richard. I can elaborate if needed.
Richard: No, that is fine. Trying to win the Google answer box yes through mark-up language. Mark-up language really, rather than call it that let’s call it schema. Google like schema. If you got to schema.org you can a whole bunch of different ways of categorizing things. Google likes things to be categorized including questions and answers. Google also likes people to have questions or Google likes to deliver answers when people type in questions. This kind of also goes to another thing that is a bit of a threat as well that we didn’t talk about. That is called Google zero click. Google wants to be able to deliver information to people without them leaving Google. On a search results page people are within Google. If Google can deliver the answers to someone’s question on the search results page then Google has delivered that information without Google haven’t lost that business or lost that user.
Google likes then to present answers to questions. If you can present your information as questions and answers then Google can pick it up. If you use schema or mark up to specify that then you have a better chance of doing it but you also need to be considered an authority within your area. It needs to be a question that is relevant to what Google is looking at. Google will apply the same sort of rules that it applies normally that it won’t just play rubbish and it won’t just play things that it thinks are coming from websites or businesses that are not authoritative in a particular topic. Try to win the Google answer box is a tactic that helps you make better use of Google to get known and ideally clicked on. Remember that within that it’s Google’s goal for you not to get clicked on. It wants to deliver the answer on its search results page. It’s complicated but there are ways of winning with Google and that is one of them.
Someone answered isn’t the Google Zero approach bad for SEO? It’s not so much bad for SEO. It’s neither good nor bad. Google Zero is about understanding that Google doesn’t want people to leave the search results page but if you present good enough information and present your brand then at least you may will get known and ideally click. It’s an ongoing game.
Do we have any other questions? Someone said, are ecommerce stores being sued in Australia? Not yet except when you tell lies and say things that are incorrect. There are some good stories coming out about that. That may be the subject of another webinar we might run next year possibly in conjunction with a law firm. That is probably about it for this session unless anyone’s got any other questions that are coming through. Please feel free to contact us but we did try to keep these concise.
Let me just quickly mention about upcoming webinars. The next one that is planned is next Thursday, December 5 and this is on Ransomware. We’ve actually got a global security expert who is joining us for that webinar who used to be the Chief Security Architect for Microsoft. He has written 11 books and thousands of magazine articles. He is a total authority and he is joining us for that webinar together with Jason Willison who is the MD of One Technology, a managed IT service provider. That is going to be a really important session for anybody who has people who may introduce ransomware into an organization. That is really all of us. That is on 11 o’clock next Thursday December 5. We have some other topics that you can see on the screen that we’re working on next year about Amazon, content marketing and various other things.
That is a wrap. On behalf of Malcolm and Gareth and myself, thank you very much for participating. We are happy to take any more questions afterwards. Send us an email, call us up. Thanks very much everybody. Thanks for attending and have a great day.
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