Australian Online Retail Grows – But Did You?

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eWAY-holiday-retail-spendingAn interesting report has been released by eWay – the online payments gateway that powers more than 17,000 Australian online stores. Showing a 20 percent year-on-year growth for the mid-November to mid-January period, the results bode well for the struggling retail industry.

The report reveals that with traditional sales kicking in on Boxing Day (26 December), the industry received a much needed boost. Over $35 million was spent not in-store, but from the comfort of our living rooms. But rather than a “holiday spike”, there was a consistency in spending online. “It was very steady. eWAY recorded higher sales and transactions volumes in October than we did in December”, said Matt Bullock, founder and CEO of eWay.

Processing 1 in every 4 dollars spent locally online, eWay have extrapolated their data to reveal a surge in retail over the Christmas/New Year period. Interestingly, this seems to have been mirrored by the retail growth experienced by Harvey Norman. Fairfax media reports that after a surge in its share price, Harvey Norman explained, “The big sales increase was in the December-January period. It’s only a week, and there are 52 weeks in a year, but it’s a positive sign”. And while sales were strong across the board, sales of the FitBit seem to be riding a #BackToFitness trend associated with new year resolutions and holiday over indulgence (yes, guilty as charged).

Unfortunately, the data from Harvey Norman does not reveal a split between online and offline sales. eMarketer, meanwhile, has released estimates claiming that retail ecommerce will grow 14 percent this year, passing $10 billion. This would seem a safe bet given eWay’s calculation that Q4 2014 sales accounted for close to $4.5 billion.

But what does this all mean?

Without a doubt, the retail industry is being disrupted. Consumers are discovering, debating and deciding on products well ahead of reaching out to retailers or visiting stores (with stores often only used for the convenience of immediate delivery). So if you ONLY have a bricks and mortar store, now is the time to being investing in your digital strategy. And if you already have a digital presence, now is the time to build out your customer experience strategy.

The Surprising Truth about Transforming the Customer Experience with Digital

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Are your employees doing the right thing? Are your teams empowered to make the right decision for your customers? At the Constellation  Research Connected Enterprise conference, moderator, Esteban Kolsky, Board of Advisor, Constellation Research, grilled a panel of customer experience innovators on just how “digital” was transforming the customer experience.

The panel included:

  • Dan Steinman, Chief Customer Officer, Gainsight
  • George Wright, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Thunderhead
  • Howard Tarnoff, Senior Vice President, Ceridian
  • Dave Pennington, Principal, Business Strategy, Microsoft.

It’s a great, short video with a few surprises. Some of my favourite quotes:

  • There’s no such thing as a sales process – there’s only a buying experience
  • It’s time for marketing to shut up
  • What’s the next disruptive thing? It’s engagement
  • The days of the check-in call are over
  • It’s not all about the data
  • Engagement doesn’t mean offer management

The Surprising Truth

But the most interesting thing to me was the focus on culture. We see it over and over again – and it is the most difficult challenge for organisations. While you can buy technology, you can’t buy the hearts, minds and engaged focus of your employees.

And while they may have all the customer data ever needed, without the right focus, support and attitude, you still won’t get the sale.

Need to harmonise your approach? Or bring technology and people together? We can help.

The Brand Behind Your Buttons

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Sometimes the most important aspects of brand experience happen below the level of our consciousness. Think of the sound that is made when you close the door of your car. Manufacturers spend millions researching, designing and engineering that experience. Same with the exhaust note of a Harley Davidson. All of this careful thinking and planning has been crafted to heighten and differentiate your experience of a PARTICULAR brand.

This approach should also be applied to the digital domain.

Over the last dozen years or so, I have built a number of online platforms for clients or employers. Each time, I have focused on designing not just a “user interface” but an on-brand experience. And this process begins, surprisingly, with buttons.

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Marc Hemeon, designer at YouTube, eloquently connects the use of web buttons with brand experience. He proposes “the button test” – and sets a surprisingly easy challenge. Can you pick the brands that use the style and colour of the buttons shown in the image? I bet you can. But more than that … can you pick the call to action, the behaviour and your sense of intention that is connected to that button? That’s the important and interesting part!

When I am thinking through and planning a digital platform, I focus on user behaviour and intention. I plan for interaction and process but I also take a leaf out of Amazon’s books. I plan for trademarking. Imagine coming up with a single button that brands an experience, explains a process and corresponds with an inherent behaviour. It’s the digital equivalent of a “Kleenex” – where the act of using a tissue has become synonymous with the company that produces the product. Amazon’s 1-click purchase button is the prime example.

As Marc’s button test shows, the smallest element on your website delivers brand impact. Maybe we should pay more attention to the digital brand experience rather than just making the logo bigger.