Money makes the world go round, but now the internet is dictating how.
Everyone seems to be whispering that Australian retail is dead, blaming savvy online stores which have sprung up overseas at a time when the Aussie Dollar is at record highs.
But now Australian retailers are being encouraged to improve their e-commerce offerings and beat these offshore competitors at their own game.
According to NAB, Australians spent $10.5 billion online in 2011 and the bank expects online sales will continue to skyrocket (growing by 29% each year). While domestic retailers currently hold the lion’s share of the online market, the bulk of Australia’s future online spend is tipped to go to offshore sellers.
There are many reasons behind this phenomenon.
Some of Australia’s largest retailers have been the most apathetic when it comes to e-commerce, failing to invest in new systems and online shopping experiences but instead relying on superior buying power and the country’s geographical isolation.
But their approach isn’t working.
Ruslan Kogan, the 29 year old whiz kid behind Australia’s largest online electronics retailer, Kogan Technologies, enjoyed a sixfold increase in revenue last year while profits at Harvey Norman, David Jones and Myer have slumped by around 20%, the Age reports.
Kogan’s sleek, uncluttered website offers a twelve month Australian warranty, a myriad of secure online payment options and it makes full use of the company’s 112,000 Facebook fans to promote new products and answer queries from customers.
It proves that retailers need a strong online presence which fosters interactivity with customers in order to capitalise on the benefits of social commerce and peer recommendations offered by websites such as Facebook or Pinterest for example.
Sportsgirl shows how to stay relevant in this new trading environment
Sportsgirl is a prime example of a retailer which has managed to open up new sales channels thanks to technological innovation.
The teen-focussed retailer recently started showing quick response (QR) codes on televisions out the front of its Chapel Street store in Melbourne. If a shopper saw a dress they liked it was a simple case of grabbing out their I-phone, scanning it and voila, a purchase could be made.
Prue Thomas, Sportsgirl’s strategic brand manager says the company’s mobile sales channels are growing thanks to a strong presence on Facebook and feedback from online forums on the Sportsgirl website, she told Smart Company.
The success of the QR campaign was followed by a new mobile feature that allows girls to photograph and share images of themselves trying on Sportsgirl clothing, a sort of e-fitting room perfectly suited to the retailer’s client base.
Spending while on the go
It seems the world’s largest tech companies are desperate to develop new payment options or mobile ‘wallets’ that provide easier ways for anyone who has a smart phone or tablet to spend their money.
Google Wallet is developing new mobile apps and online technologies that store your personal credit card details or specific discounts and offers. The information is stored on your phone or on the Cloud for ease of use next time you shop in a bricks-and-mortar store or online, meaning that your mobile device literally becomes your wallet.
PayPal has also expanded its mobile functionality to offer payments in 24 currencies across 190 markets worldwide.
Locally, Australia’s Securepay and eWay are being used by companies of all sizes to grow their online e-tailing presence with payment gateway solutions starting at $350.
As these technologies develop, businesses should evolve their online activities to engage consumers and compliment emerging modes of integration, consumption and engagement.
As any with investment, you can’t go in blind: tech innovations must be as targeted and relevant to your market as any other business initiative, meaning a digital and online strategy must be carefully constructed.
For more advice on online strategy, contact us.
Further reading on the topic in these publications: