Online Retailing – Unfashionable Down Under

About a year ago I first broached the topic of the lack of digital investment by Australian retailers, and 1 year on it seems whilst we have progressed we are still falling further behind the digital 8 ball. This trend seems to ring true – particularly within the fashion sector whereby Australia is hemorrhaging online sales to overseas counterparts.

Online Australian Consumers Wont Wait For Fashion Retailers

Online Retail WebsiteAccording to stats released by the online retailers conference in Australia more than 45 per cent of all online retail sales are currently going offshore from Australia. This compares with just 14 per cent in 2005. And whilst fashion is not the only segment whereby Aussie retailers are missing out to overseas competition, it seems that international fashion retailers are actively pursuing Australian consumer $$$$ and are rubbing their hands together in the process.

According to a recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald, several British and US retailers have exploited the lack of investment in eCommerce fashion in Oz. In April, the British online designer boutique Asos.com listed Australia as its fourth-strongest international market behind the US Denmark and France and Net-a-Porter also lists Australia as ”one of its biggest international markets”. Whilst America’s Revolveclothing.com says Australia is its third biggest market outside the US.
It therefore seems Australian consumers have a healthy appetite for buying fashion online and are going abroad because of the lack of choice in the local market.

Can Clothing Retailers Afford Not To Do It?

Many Australian fashion retailers are still yet to realise the value in online retailing, however there are a select few that have made an investment in the space and are deriving significant value from their online stores. Witchery, for example, lists its online store as its fourth most profitable outlet, out of 80 stores nationally. And Mimco, which is owned by Witchery Holdings, ranks its online store as its 10th most successful, with turnover of about $90,000 a month.

However it is not only profitability and revenue that is delivering value for brands. Online stores have provided brands such as Guess and Sportsgirl with the ability to reach out to consumers in cities and towns that are not close by to bricks and mortar outlets;

Simon Nankervis, Managing Director of busbrands which owns the rights to Guess in Australia said about 80% of the sales within the past week have been from areas where Guess does not operate a retail location, and he wants it to stay that way. “This is being done by consumers where there is no retail location, such as the Northern Territory, or like in other parts of Western Australia as we only have one store in Perth.”

The Threat Of Inaction

online fashion retailForrester Research predicts Australian online spending will grow to $32 billion by 2012, with further evidence to suggest that this could just be the beginning. Figures from IBISWorld show that online sales may eventually reach $75 billion as more retailers increase the efficiency and reliability of their online channels.

Fashion retailers need to realise that getting the right mix for success is not an easy task in the online world and fashion retailers need to be ramping up their online stores now to;

1) Gain a larger slice of the current consumer online fashion spend
2) Ensure that they are well established to capitalise on the future revenue opportunity which is presenting itself.
Inaction is not an option – if eCommerce and digital strategies do not become fashionable for Australian clothing retailers soon, the brands that do not move with the times maybe left behind like last seasons unpopular lines.
What are your thoughts on the lack of eCommerce investment by Australia’s fashion retailers?

Article References
www.smartcompany.com.au/retail/20100217-fashion-brand-guess-opens-web-store-in-bid-to-expand-retail-reach.html+online+fashion+retailing+australia&cd=4&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=au
http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/fashion/new-york-london-paris-prized-labels-just-a-click-away-20100515-v5j7.html
http://www.insideretailing.com.au/Latest/tabid/53/ID/8174/Aussie-retail-dollars-head-overseas.aspx

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SEO Roundtable / Conversation Cafe in Melbourne

SEO Marketing

If you currently working in an SEO role or in the digital space and are interested in joining a discussion about the state of the search market in Australia then this event could be for you. As one of the facilitators at the SEO roundtable in Melbourne being held by Internet Retailing, it would be great to see a range of client side and agency SEO / marketing professionals at the event!

Running for a 2 hour period (from 6 – 8pm), this event aims to bring people together to discuss the latest techniques being used to improve organic search results. If you are interested in coming along please visit the URL below.

Hope to see you there.

http://www.internetretailing.com.au/learn-about-seo.html

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To app or not to app?

When devising a strategy for the mobile space, marketers are faced with many questions but one of the questions on the tip of marketers tongues is should I invest in an iPhone application? With iPhone popularity at all time high in Australia, building an iPhone application seems to be a no brainer however before you jump into the app space here is some food for thought on the app market.

The facts about applications

Mobile appsOver the past few years iPhone developers have been busy developing iPhone applications and as a result more than 140,000 iPhone applications are now available from the Apple apps store and these have been downloaded over 3 billion times. In 2010 the onslaught of iPhone application development is only set to accelerate with more than 300,000 applications to be in the apps store by years end. And whilst application supply is high so is demand. In December 2009, app store users downloaded an average of 4.8 applications – ¼ of which are paid.

Considerations for app marketing

1. Not all apps are created equal

With this level of interest and activity it would seem at first glance that an iPhone application can be a very lucrative opportunity. Building an iPhone application however can be an expensive exercise therefore brands need to ensure that investment in the channel will deliver results . Similar to video not all applications are created equal, and with over 140,000 applications in the app store how is your branded app going to stand out from the crowd?

The BigOven application is one example of a successful app which received over 2 million downloads globally, however many struggle to get a few hundred downloads. Thus if you are considering to invest in an application there is a lot more to it than simply replicating your website to ensure you gain value from your investment. Consider how your app is going to get people talking, how app functionality can add value / augment the brand experience and how to leverage technology such as GPS to deliver a unique offering.

2. Consumers APPetite

Whilst cut through is difficult for any marketer, it doesn’t mean that application marketing cannot produce value. One of the key reasons organisations should consider investment in an application is that a portion of your audience will prefer to interact with your brand via an app whilst others prefer access via a mobile site. By failing to invest in an application, even if you have a mobile site, you maybe failing to appeal to a portion of your audience and this could be impact your mobile reach. Thus to make an informed decision brands need to understand their audience behaviour and mobile usage before making crucial mobile development decisions.

How new smartphones could revolutionise the application market.

SmartphonesiPhone’s popularity in Australia is hard to ignore but what many marketers may be unaware of is the battle brewing between iPhone and Android. Globally (according to AdMob), Google’s Android operating system has overtaken iPhones share in the smartphone market for the 1st time but will this occur locally? A recent survey I performed indicated users next mobile phone decision is strongly swayed towards iPhone, however there are other factors that could make the outcome of the next handset choice very different.

Android is working with a lot of the major carriers / handset manufacturers in Australia and globally to secure marketshare. Telstra is one that is launching its HTC desire, and to ensure a successful launch they have crowdsourced 26 social reviewers to blog on its launch. Also sitting on the android platform is Sony Ericsson’s Xperia X10, which arrived on the Vodafone and Three networks in May, whilst last month saw the launch of Motorola Dext on the Android platform as well.
So not only do marketers need to toss up the value of iPhone applications, they need to be consider if the application will be accessible via multiple app stores.

Operating System Share in US

 

What are your thoughts on application marketing? Have you had success with an iPhone strategy? If so share it below.

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9 Ways Australian Brands Are Leveraging Twitter In Different Ways

Twitter Campaign

Twitter SearchTwitter, within a few short years, has grown to be one of the leading social sites in Australia and the world. In Australia alone, Twitter receives more than 1.2 million unique visitors a month, providing a solid avenue for organisations to connect, engage and build relationships with new and existing consumers. However having a presence on Twitter is harder than just creating a profile and tweeting about how great your product is. Inspired by Brian Solis, 21 Twitter Tips , this article reviews how Australian organisations are adopting some of the different strategies he covers in his article.

If your brand is yet to have a Twitter profile hopefully this article provides you with some useful food for thought. Or if you have a profile but need to refine the strategy this article may provide clarity on the techniques that you could adopt to create a very useful and engaging Twitter experience in 140 characters.

Special Offers

Globally @DellOutlet has generated over $3 million in revenue through Twitter and Facebook via offers. Locally it seems that special offer strategies are one of the most popular tactics to use for a Twitter profile. @VirginBlue, @JetstarAirways and @tigerairwaysaus have established significant followings through their Twitter accounts. And it seems that it is paying off for at least some of them. In 2009 @JetstarAirways offered 1,000 seats for two cents – and sold out in hours (no wonder why). And in August, Jetstar announced a new route launch using Twitter with a “free seats” offer for its new Sydney-Melbourne services. As a result of its success Jetstar has announced a significant shift of its marketing budget towards social media in 2010.
However it is not just airlines that are leveraging the Twitter opportunity. EB Games currently has also adopted a similar approach by releasing special codes and discounts via their Twitter profile.

Word of Mouth Marketing

@Crust Pizza has been leveraging Twitter to spread the word about its pizza through its tweet promotion. Still running, this competition provides the opportunity for consumers to win free pizza on Friday by Tweeting – #CrustFreePizzaFriday. The competition is only open to Crust followers which I am sure has had a big impact on the growth of their number of followers which now stands at 2,530. Whilst quantifying the direct impact is difficult, the CEO of Crust is confident that the promotion has impacted their bottom line.

Customer Service

The Telco’s seem to be all over this one proactively seeking out unhappy customers and fielding direct client customer service issues. @VirginMobileAus is a great example of a brand monitoring the Twittersphere for unhappy customers and trying to right wrongs – see below.
eg @undisclosed Hiya, saw ur tweet RE: VM =( Is there anything I can do to sway ur impression? Pls DM, Thanks! =)

Crowdsourcing & FeedbackCrowdsourcing & Feedback

When Australia’s biggest realestate site re-launched their new platform they dedicated time to reviewing the feedback and actioning issues. And it seems they are not the only ones. Many Australian brands are reaching out to consumers to gauge feedback on websites including @WorldVisionAus @STATravel. However this is one strategy that I believe Australian brands could be using more of. Reaching out to a Twitter network for feedback on new offerings or crowdsourcing new ideas is a significant untapped resource and is a big opportunity for those in the online media / classifieds space as well as those in the fashion / retail space.

Information Networks

Information networks provide helpful alerts, notices and information to help followers avert problems or get up to the minute information. The obvious applications for such profiles include airlines and transport companies however few have taken advantage of this opportunity, however the AFL has. @AFL provides users with quarter by quarter updates on matches and tribunal results. In addition the AFL aggregates other club related information to keep footy fanatics completely up to date.

Employee Recruitment

Marketing to potential new staff through social media provides recruiters with a new way to seek referrals and applications for open positions at a lower cost and can enable brands to really reach out to brand advocates. Amongst other tweets, one of the core strategies for @WorldVisionAus is to do just that. Access their Twitter page and you will see recruitment is one of the core Twitter focuses.

Dedicated & Brand Channels

For some brands with multiple offerings, it is difficult to develop one dedicated profile and it also makes sense to establish exclusive channels or subchannels to share specific information and tap into a niche. @bigpondmovies & @bigpondmusic are examples of sub-brands adopting this kind of strategy. Although both are yet to build a significantly large following the profiles are tapping into niches to provide relevance and interact with users based on interest categories, which is a sensible strategy.

Aggregated Content & Topic Experts

Whilst this is a bit of a combination of Brian’s categories, it is one that has merit. Most organisations leverage Twitter to promote branded content and despite it being targeted and relevant there is a lot of value in aggregating and repackaging content on a particular topic / category of interest. @ABCnews is a good example of doing just this – it has adopted the branded channels strategy and combined it with aggregating content feeds from Twitter profiles to bring together a culmination of different views on the one topic. One good example of this is their @ABCnews/federal-parliament profile which aggregates content from Kevin Rudd, Joe Hockey, Malcolm Turnbull and a host of other MPs.

Supply Chain Relationships

Not only is Twitter providing ways to develop direct relationships with consumers, however it is also providing brands with the opportunity to connect with their distribution channel to ensure they are kept up to date with product updates as well as to motivate distributors and empower them to spread messages through their individual networks. Amway @amwayausnz is one such company doing just that. Mr Coldwell, Head of Operations stated in an article just yesterday that – the use of social media fitted well with the overall philosophy of the Amway group, which saw itself as a community builder as much as a retailer. Their Twitter strategy aims to reach out and recruit new distributors and communicate with existing ones – and with nearly 150 followers and plenty of interaction it seems that it is already making an impact.

If you are about to embark on a Twitter strategy I would highly recommend Brian Solis article – as it definitely provides a lot of avenues to consider before developing a Twitter strategy

Got any other examples you would like to share that fit into the categories above or Brian’s categories? If so please share them below (no doubt I have missed some great Australian organisations using Twitter in unique ways)

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9 Ways Australian Brands Are Leveraging Twitter In Different Ways

Twitter, within a few short years, has grown to be one of the leading social sites in Australia and the world. In Australia alone, Twitter receives more than 1.2 million unique visitors a month, providing a solid avenue for organisations to connect, engage and build relationships with new and existing consumers. However having a presence on Twitter is harder than just creating a profile and tweeting about how great your product is. Inspired by Brian Solis, 21 Twitter Tips , this article reviews how Australian organisations are adopting some of the different strategies he covers in his article.

If your brand is yet to have a Twitter profile hopefully this article provides you with some useful food for thought. Or if you have a profile but need to refine the strategy this article may provide clarity on the techniques that you could adopt to create a very useful and engaging Twitter experience in 140 characters.

Special Offers

Globally @DellOutlet has generated over $3 million in revenue through Twitter and Facebook via offers. Locally it seems that special offer strategies are one of the most popular tactics to use for a Twitter profile. @VirginBlue, @JetstarAirways and @tigerairwaysaus have established significant followings through their Twitter accounts. And it seems that it is paying off for at least some of them. In 2009 @JetstarAirways offered 1,000 seats for two cents – and sold out in hours (no wonder why). And in August, Jetstar announced a new route launch using Twitter with a “free seats” offer for its new Sydney-Melbourne services. As a result of its success Jetstar has announced a significant shift of its marketing budget towards social media in 2010.
However it is not just airlines that are leveraging the Twitter opportunity. EB Games currently has also adopted a similar approach by releasing special codes and discounts via their Twitter profile.

Word of Mouth MarketingWord of Mouth Marketing

@Crust Pizza has been leveraging Twitter to spread the word about its pizza through its tweet promotion. Still running, this competition provides the opportunity for consumers to win free pizza on Friday by Tweeting – #CrustFreePizzaFriday. The competition is only open to Crust followers which I am sure has had a big impact on the growth of their number of followers which now stands at 2,530. Whilst quantifying the direct impact is difficult, the CEO of Crust is confident that the promotion has impacted their bottom line.

Customer Service

The Telco’s seem to be all over this one proactively seeking out unhappy customers and fielding direct client customer service issues. @VirginMobileAus is a great example of a brand monitoring the Twittersphere for unhappy customers and trying to right wrongs – see below.
eg @undisclosed Hiya, saw ur tweet RE: VM =( Is there anything I can do to sway ur impression? Pls DM, Thanks! =)

Crowdsourcing & Feedback

When Australia’s biggest realestate site re-launched their new platform they dedicated time to reviewing the feedback and actioning issues. And it seems they are not the only ones. Many Australian brands are reaching out to consumers to gauge feedback on websites including @WorldVisionAus @STATravel. However this is one strategy that I believe Australian brands could be using more of. Reaching out to a Twitter network for feedback on new offerings or crowdsourcing new ideas is a significant untapped resource and is a big opportunity for those in the online media / classifieds space as well as those in the fashion / retail space.

Information Networks

Information networks provide helpful alerts, notices and information to help followers avert problems or get up to the minute information. The obvious applications for such profiles include airlines and transport companies however few have taken advantage of this opportunity, however the AFL has. @AFL provides users with quarter by quarter updates on matches and tribunal results. In addition the AFL aggregates other club related information to keep footy fanatics completely up to date.

Employee Recruitment

Marketing to potential new staff through social media provides recruiters with a new way to seek referrals and applications for open positions at a lower cost and can enable brands to really reach out to brand advocates. Amongst other tweets, one of the core strategies for @WorldVisionAus is to do just that. Access their Twitter page and you will see recruitment is one of the core Twitter focuses.

Dedicated & Brand Channels

For some brands with multiple offerings, it is difficult to develop one dedicated profile and it also makes sense to establish exclusive channels or subchannels to share specific information and tap into a niche. @bigpondmovies & @bigpondmusic are examples of sub-brands adopting this kind of strategy. Although both are yet to build a significantly large following the profiles are tapping into niches to provide relevance and interact with users based on interest categories, which is a sensible strategy.

Curated ContentAggregated Content & Topic Experts

Whilst this is a bit of a combination of Brian’s categories, it is one that has merit. Most organisations leverage Twitter to promote branded content and despite it being targeted and relevant there is a lot of value in aggregating and repackaging content on a particular topic / category of interest. @ABCnews is a good example of doing just this – it has adopted the branded channels strategy and combined it with aggregating content feeds from Twitter profiles to bring together a culmination of different views on the one topic. One good example of this is their @ABCnews/federal-parliament profile which aggregates content from Kevin Rudd, Joe Hockey, Malcolm Turnbull and a host of other MPs.

Supply Chain Relationships

Not only is Twitter providing ways to develop direct relationships with consumers, however it is also providing brands with the opportunity to connect with their distribution channel to ensure they are kept up to date with product updates as well as to motivate distributors and empower them to spread messages through their individual networks. Amway @amwayausnz is one such company doing just that. Mr Coldwell, Head of Operations stated in an article just yesterday that – the use of social media fitted well with the overall philosophy of the Amway group, which saw itself as a community builder as much as a retailer. Their Twitter strategy aims to reach out and recruit new distributors and communicate with existing ones – and with nearly 150 followers and plenty of interaction it seems that it is already making an impact.

If you are about to embark on a Twitter strategy I would highly recommend Brian Solis article – as it definitely provides a lot of avenues to consider before developing a Twitter strategy

Got any other examples you would like to share that fit into the categories above or Brian’s categories? If so please share them below (no doubt I have missed some great Australian organisations using Twitter in unique ways)

Continue Reading