According to the NAB Online Retail Sales Index, Australians spent approximately $16.7 billion on online retail in the 12 months to February 2015, an increase of 9% year on year. This figure is record-breaking within the Australian online retail space, showing a definite trend towards online spend as opposed to more traditional forms of retail, where sales have had very moderate growth of 4.7%.
With an increasing number of consumers looking to make purchases online, business owners are looking for ways to get involved in online retail and digital marketing. Whether you are selling products or services, utilising the digital space has proven to have many perks, from the obvious sales and marketing benefits all the way through to reducing your carbon footprint.
By going digital, your ‘keeping Australia green’ contribution can be enhanced by minimizing your travel, creating a paperless business and having fewer buildings to power and maintain. You are also reducing your business overhead costs and benefiting from the flexibility to change your marketing message quickly to suit changing market trends.
It has never been more tempting for business owners to have a slice of the online retail pie. There are a few considerations before taking the first steps towards e-commerce and digital marketing that will maximise your results and deliver the most impact in return for your online activity.
The first step in any new venture is always daunting and it is easy to understand why business owners may feel a little apprehensive when considering moving their business towards the digital space. Many questions will arise, but the most important things to keep in mind are: how much of my business do I want to move towards the online space – will it be just the marketing aspect, or do I want to operate a purely digital based business? Who am I trying to communicate with and what method of communication do my audience respond to best? How will I best represent my business’s personality and brand identity online?
Once you have a clear direction for your digital activities, the next step is to put together an online strategy which will help you move towards your goals and objectives and should support your existing business strategy. It is important to remember that you don’t need to try to get everything nailed down and perfect first time; when your online strategy has been implemented and operational for a period, you can then review and refine it to more closely suit your small business or organisation’s needs.
Check out these modules of online business strategies you can try out for your business.
It is also a good idea to consider what suits your business needs best. It is important to ask, would a traditional bricks and mortar space, or an online business provide the best result for your product or service? There are advantages and disadvantages to both and these can include;
When considering the advantages and disadvantages of both bricks and mortar and digital business, it has to be said that one does not have to exclude the other. If possible, you could have physical retail presence which is enhanced by an online store, greatly increasing your market share, return on investment and brand reach.
Check out Digital Ready’s helpful training modules to start growing your business online.
Once an online strategy has been set in place, coinciding with your business strategy, the next step is to implement it. This step requires planning and has its own considerations that need to be understood for successful implementation to occur. For example, business owners need to think about how to get your messages to your audience and how often; what design, development and search engine optimisation you will use and which groups you will follow on social media and why.
You will also need to scope and cost the development of a shopping cart for ecommerce; learn how to set up accounts with PayPal and provide secure payment options so that your customers feel safe when purchasing form your online retail store. It is really important to be proactive in checking that these functions are working well, efficiently and promptly, as customers are quick to move away if they feel that these services are outdated.
It is always important to reflect on, evaluate and refine your online strategy once it has been implemented. What has worked well? What can be improved? How can I do it better? These questions will help you to provide the best possible service for your customers and maximize your results. There are certain ways to know what is working well within your strategy and what isn’t, it is important to listen to what your customers are saying to you. If your main source of communication with your audience is via social media, pay close attention to the feedback you are receiving from your clients as they will be your best guide to what your target audience wants more or less of.
You can also look at the different analytic tools which measure your presence online. For example, you can measure how many people visit your website, how much time they spend on each page and where they click through on your page the most. This information is crucial when making future product or promotional plans and will help you get the most out of your strategies. You should also make sure that, as your business grows and changes, your goals are still relevant and feasible and change as your business strategy changes.
Whether you’re selling products or services, it is evident that the digital space can be a very effective tool to maximize your business by putting you directly in front of your target audience in a convenient and timely manner. You can also improve the day-to-day running of your business; cut costs and time spent on wasteful tasks; contact audiences previously unreachable, such as those with disabilities and reduce your impact on the environment.
Going digital also enables real-time communication with your specific audience, easy collection of feedback and direct engagement with your audience – this is gold dust for most companies as they find out how well their customers are responding to their messaging immediately, allowing them to be nimble and responsive to change. It is also very important to keep up with the latest digital trends and technologies so that you may be your customer’s first choice when making their buying decision.
To take advantage of the digital technology, visit Digital Ready. It is a new training opportunity which equips small business owners, organisations and clubs with the skills to take advantage of digital technology in growing their business.
To assist with this, we have developed six comprehensive Online Learning Modules. For more information and advice on how to use the digital space to maximise your business, increase your marketing reach and gain the most results from your ecommerce site go to digitalready.org.au/kits-digitalready.