Online Retail… 2012 Essential Learnings

In July the Internet Marketing Magazine team received an Invitation to the Online Retailer Conference & E-Commerce Expo held at Darling Harbour in Sydney.

All in all it was a great event held over 4 days covering everything from mobile to social, marketing, web store optimization, multichannel and SME strategies & tactics.

The Internet Marketing Magazine community is diverse in its global readership from Internet Marketers just starting out to eCommerce Merchants doing 10’s to 100’s of millions online each year. Here is a snapshot of just some of the more noteworthy take-away lessons from the event in key categories that will appeal to our diverse readership.


Customer Focus
• Carol Steinberg of ShopNBC advises their organisation treats the customer as the boss with a very customer centric model. The customers title is CEC – Chief Executive Customer.
• Be everywhere your customer is from mobile, to tablet, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Pinterest etc. Keep a consistent look and feel across all devices and medias. The customers don’t care about the channel, they care about the experience.
• Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and connect with your customers to ask them about their experience and also how you can improve.
• Provide value to ‘make a customer’ not ‘make a sale’.
• Build a ‘SWAT’ team that jumps on problems and fixes them so you keep happy customers and so negative social PR never becomes a problem that gets out of hand for your business.


Bringing Products to Life
• Where ever possible show as many angles of a product as possible.
• Utilise the rich media of video to bring your products to life. The ‘Show and tell’ methodology of inspiring but also explaining and educating can work well to appeal to a wide variety of consumers.
• Humans relate to other humans just like them. With your product images add people similar to your demographic, and in particular eyes and faces.


Product Strategy
• Sell what your customers want to buy, not what you want to sell.
• When building out your product range sell virtual stock where ever possible – meaning dropship from your suppliers while you learn what sells well and then stock those products and services yourself.
• Where possible buy direct from the manufacturer or parent level distributor to reduce additional layers of suppliers management pricing overhead.


• Don’t duplicate products in multiple categories/pages – Google hates it as it’s not unique content.
• Internal links count – make content on your blog and your product pages and build a good internal linking structure.
• Get Press – Do something newsworthy rather than just doing PR for the purpose of building inbound links. Then archive all press features onto your site for social proof an continual new content.
• Social signals will continue to rise in priority. The reason for this is that a social link is the equivalent of someone saying that your page has ‘something worthwhile on it’.


Checkout & Site Optimization
• Make your checkout process as simple and as minimal clicks and pages as possible as the competition is only one click away.
• Your site visitors don’t see words as much as they do see pictures, so include supporting images to match your sales copy where ever possible.
• 8 out of 10 customers as a general rule value free shipping as more important than anything else with your online process.
• Guest checkout is important – As high as 1 in 2 site visitors will leave a checkout process if you force them to become a member without giving them the option to checkout as a guest.
• Personalisation will increase your site visitor time on site and revenues by maximising exposure to relevant products and minimizing exposure to irrelevant products.


• Mobile sites are the top priority for most eCommerce sites in 2012. Tablet optimized sites are a ‘nice to have’ but not a necessity as the browsing experience on a Tablet works fine with a regular site.
• Mobile customer service is on the rise. An example would be an SMS to a customer to advise them that their product has just been shipped.
• The speed of your mobile site is important. Keep the load time less than 5 seconds – ideally less than 3 seconds.
• As much as 20% of email opens now happen from mobile devices, so check your email format look and feel across a wide range of devices and operating systems. Most high-end email marketing packages now have this functionality built into them as a simulator.


A big thanks goes out to the folks at for putting on this amazing event. We hope you get one or good learning’s from this that you can implement in your business.

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