Mark Cameron Columnist

Mark is CEO and head strategist at Working Three, a strategic digital consultancy that specialises in commercialising social media activity. He works with some of Australia's, and the world's, largest and most innovative companies to create a clear picture of the new market forces, and business model disruption, being driven by social media.

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Become an e-commerce pro, preferably before Christmas

Published 27 August 2013 09:08, Updated 29 August 2013 00:47

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Become an e-commerce pro, preferably before Christmas

A helpful email at the right point in time can shift items from a customer’s wishlist to their shopping cart. Photo: Megan Doherty

For most of us, Christmas feels a long way off. For online retailers, the festive season is approaching like an out-of-control freight train. It’s no secret that retail brands have been hurting in recent years. The global financial crisis quickly changed consumers’ spending habits at the same time as digital communications was changing the marketing and product discovery landscape. The result: brand loyalty has been eroded, and consumers have been flocking to online shopping to quickly and easily compare prices and offers.Many brands realise the world will not return to the way it was and have responded by investing heavily in e-commerce and online marketing. It can be confusing to know the right formula for your customers, so let’s explore three key principles ­e-commerce sites need to master.

Device optimisation. Making your site look great and function well on mobile devices is no longer optional. A recent e-consultancy report said “62 per cent of companies that designed a website specifically for mobile had increased sales”. And a Margin Media report stated, “48 per cent of users say that if they arrive on a business site that isn’t working well on mobile, they take it as an indication of the business simply not caring”. You can go down the responsive design path, meaning your site will adjust to suit the available screen space, or you can build specifically for mobile devices. Either way, your customers will visit your site on their mobile phones so the investment will be worth it.

Communication automation. When it comes to converting potential customer interest to sales, communication is vitally important. When the shopper is in control of how and when they shop, automating the points of communication is essential. Spend time mapping out points where sending a helpful message to the customer could make a difference. For example:if someone signs up to your site; if a customer puts items in a cart but doesn’t complete the purchase; letting a customer know how shipping is progressing; and following up after a customer makes a purchase are all moments that can boost your brand. And it makes a difference. A recent study from Gartner noted that “companies that automate lead management see a 10 per cent or greater increase in revenue in six to nine months”.

Social media integration. According to Nielsen, “approximately 46 per cent of online users count on social media when making a purchase decision”. Social media should be integrated deeply into your e-commerce website and considered an essential tool, not an afterthought. Levi’s increased web referral traffic by 40 per cent after integrating social media to its site. Adding social integration gives your customers a chance to talk about you and refer your brand easily. Who wouldn’t want that?

Getting an e-commerce site to work well takes time and effort, but will produce a great return. And you have time to get it all running before Christmas.

Mark Cameron is the chief executive of customer experience agency Working Three.

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