Online retailers urged to invest in content and fill the gap of brick-and-mortar retailers

Tuesday, 24 September 2013 by Sonia Nair

Creative, educational and entertaining content are the vital ways in which businesses can be successful in the online retail sphere, according to a new e-commerce report.

Entitled The E-commerce Report – Australian Online Retail Explosion and conducted by e-commerce solutions provider Ashop, the study outlined the three things online businesses should be looking at:

1. Creative content
Ashop said creative content is the “bread and butter of search engine optimisation”.

“An e-commerce site needs original and compelling content to draw traffic and convert sales. This kind of content flows directly into the other two,” the study said.

“Being creative in the ways of means of marketing can mean the difference between a hackneyed low prices/hard-sell strategy and a meaningful connection between a brand and its customers.”

Ways to create creative content include blogging, YouTube video marketing, and user-generated content – the latter of which was touted as doubly effective because it engages consumers and saves the business money.

2. Educational content
The second way in which businesses can boost their online presence is by publishing helpful or informative content.

“If a brand can present itself as a trusted resource for information about the niche in which it has placed itself, then the consumers will continually engage with it. Consistent engagement is the first step towards sales conversions,” the study said.

It recommended businesses provide how-to style information and anything interesting that falls within a selective niche, and produce newsletters that they can distribute to their consumer database.

3. Entertaining content
If a brand can entertain its customers with its content, the study said customers will be grateful, will make subsequent purchases and will produce a fair amount of word-of-mouth advertising.

“Every major successful advertising or marketing campaign in history has had a decent measure of entertainment value involved.” The study said video advertising is an effective way to create entertaining content.

In an interesting revelation, e-commerce was found to be a valuable resource for 48% of Australians who developed it as a passive or secondary source of income while holding down full or part-time jobs – indicating that there is high earning potential in e-commerce and a significant amount of progress can be made in an entrepreneur’s spare time.

E-commerce’s moneymaking potential was augmented by the study’s discovery of a stubborn refusal among many brick-and-mortar retailers to enter the online market – underlined by the fact that 43% of online marketers said senior officials in their business do not consider online retail an important facet of their business plans. A select few businesses did not set aside any capital to fund e-commerce plans in their budgets whatsoever.

The study said this could be good news however for online retailers. 

“People are looking for goods and services online at an every expanding rate of frequency, and traditional retailers are behind the curve in keeping up with demand for online convenience. This gap in customer demand and traditional supply has created a healthy opening for ambitious online marketers to exploit.”

Other important findings from Ashop’s e-commerce report were:

  • 93% of Australians access the internet daily, and they spend an average of 21 hours and 52 minutes online per week – just two hours shy of a whole day
  • 91% of Australian shoppers will likely go to an Australian retailer before checking out any international sellers
  • Australians spend four minutes of every hour on the web shopping for goods and services, and
  • Australian consumers spent more than $12.6 billion online in 2012.
The study said online businesses should use the statistics as an incentive to re-target loyal customers and convert leads to repeat business.

“Unsurprisingly, all of these numbers are sharp increases from statistics recorded from earlier reports. As connectivity increases, so too does online commerce and Australia is uniquely positioned to take advantage of this fact,” the study said.

“As a growing consumer superpower, Australia has a large contingent of online shoppers that are starting to put more and more confidence in e-commerce retailers.”

Ashop’s study on the rise of e-commerce comes on the back of a Sensis report, which said the number of small to medium-sized enterprises with optimised websites for mobile devices had almost doubled from 2012 to the past year.

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