Taking a leap into the online world can really push your business to the top in terms of sales and visibility. Nowadays, many businesses have an eCommerce or online sales solution, so how does one stay competitive and relevant in the online arena?
Hunter Drinan, the Managing Director of iSUBSCRiBE, a pure eCommerce business has been selling magazine and newspaper subscriptions online since 2001.
“iSUBSCRiBE started 10 years ago and at that time there weren’t many companies in Australia that made a business from selling products exclusively online. Online is now a much bigger player than it was years ago.
We use online predominately to drive traffic and customers to our website and obviously to transact. But it’s not purely online; we also like to use traditional media to build the business because online only gives you a certain level of presence. Other media like TV, direct mail and radio gives your brand a bit of depth and gives people a better understanding of who you are, what you stand for and what you do.”
Hunter believes that technological advancements in recent years have meant consumers are now more inclined than ever to buy online.
“Around 2006 we saw the introduction of broadband in Australia, and the cost of home and mobile internet access dropped dramatically. More people had faster internet speeds which would enable faster transactions. We saw this massive increase in traffic due to consumer accessibility.
Another significant change last year was the penetration of smartphones into society. Not only are people visiting our site, but they’re actually transacting more often from a mobile device. As a result, we optimised our site for mobile and we’ve seen traffic from mobiles increase 300% over the last 12 months and conversion rates increase by 75%.
Clearly, eCommerce allows businesses to reach more people. If you have three or four bricks and mortar stores in Sydney, you’re only going to be able to physically cater for a limited number of people. If you have an online store, you’re going to be able to increase your number of customers. 97% of iSUBSCRiBE orders are made via our website without any human contact. We also have a call centre, with only 3% of orders coming through it. So in a similar way, the same outcome could happen for bricks and mortar stores.”
How can businesses stay Competitive?
“I think your product has to be relevant, whether you need to innovate, update your product or broaden your range. You’ve got to be visible, so understand how search engines can help your business appear above other businesses when conducting an online search and get involved with social media to help spread electronic word-of-mouth.
Look at what your competitors are doing and if they’ve got a competitive edge, you’ve got to try to remove that advantage as soon as possible. You’ve also got to try and make it simple. We’ve got a three-click policy. That means that when somebody enters your site, they go from searching to taking action as quickly as possible. With three clicks they should search for a product, select the product and then take action by filling out the check out form.”
Hunter’s tips for launching an eCommerce site:
A lot of businesses assume that it’s just about money but there are many other motivators:
Have a clear goal;
Keep it simple – understand what you’re trying to get the customer or visitor to do and get them there as quickly as possible;
Control your own expectations - the site build may take longer than you hope;
Have a great IT manager – someone who not only understands IT, but who has a commercial mind if your site is commercially-focused;
Make your action easy – the user experience should be easy and fast; and
Optimise your site – for mobile, search engines and social media.