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How e-commerce changed retail

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

The Smarter Team is made up of business and technology journalists who write to offer insights to small and medium businesses about technology, business know-how and emerging trends.

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

The Smarter Team is made up of business and technology journalists who write to offer insights to small and medium businesses about technology, business know-how and emerging trends.

Highlights
  •  Australians are among the biggest online spenders in the world.
  • Consumers are increasingly using smartphones to make purchases, meaning a mobile-friendly website is a must-have.
  • Using a live chat service can give your website the human touch that other digital channels lack.

The introduction of e-commerce has drastically changed the retail landscape. But what does the digitisation of operations mean for Aussie businesses?

E-commerce offers a huge opportunity for Australian businesses. Since the first pilot for an online shopping system in 1979, the act of selling online has continued to develop and expand.

The term 'new retail' is used to describe a fusion of old and new: the combination of traditional retail experiences with digital platforms that creates a dynamic, new shopping experience for customers.

And Australia has been quick to embrace these trends. We’re currently the tenth biggest e-commerce spender in the world, and many businesses are reaping the rewards.

But what are some of the key behaviours having the biggest impact?

woman talking on phone whilst sat at her desk on laptop

Mobile commerce

We use our mobile and tablet devices more and more to organise our lives – including carrying out transactions. Research from Google has shown that more than 60 per cent of people are unlikely to use a website a second time if it isn’t mobile-friendly. And 40 per cent of those people will then go on to visit a competitor’s website instead.

Live chat

These days, customers are likely to expect an immediate answer to a query, and many if not most won’t want to trawl through your FAQs to find it.

Live chat, on desktop or mobile, provides customers with the human touch that is sometimes lacking on digital channels – even if it’s not actually a human they’re chatting to. The data collected through live chat can also help your business understand purchase decisions. 

Micropayments

A micropayment is a very small sum of money paid online that relies on high volumes of purchase at a low price point to stimulate profits. In the same way that the restaurant industry was revolutionised by fast food, businesses are starting to recognise the power of lowering prices to capitalise on the volume of a global marketplace. This is particularly effective for digital assets that don’t have the manufacturing costs associated with physical products.

Dutch software start-up Blendle has even suggested that micropayments could be used effectively within the publishing industry – allowing readers to buy one article at a time rather than an entire subscription.

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Digitisation of operations: Edible Blooms

Founded in 2005, Edible Blooms is a gift delivery service that specialises in edible bouquets, creating bunches of edible bouquets of chocolates and sweets to send to customers all over the world.

A large portion of Edible Blooms’ orders come through its website, which is built on a strong e-commerce platform.

So how did an e-commerce approach benefit the business?

Better for budget

Edible Blooms launched on an e-commerce platform due to a tight start-up budget. Even though she began with a simple website format, founder Kelly Jamieson has since switched to more integrated e-commerce solutions and a shopping-cart software platform.

Using the platform to sell online, process payments and manage inventory across multiple sites, Kelly can manage almost all aspects of her business via one online dashboard. Since going live with its e-commerce platform, Edible Blooms’ conversion rate increased significantly.

Edible Blooms’ online strategy has kept their prices down and made them a viable competitor to traditional florists. This approach has also meant that they haven’t brought in financial partners – meaning they own their business fully.

Doing it for the data

Edible Blooms’ strong online presence and focus on customer service has resulted in a Google review ranking of 4.1 out of 5.

Managing customer experience is very important for Kelly, and careful monitoring of the business’s online Net Promoter Score (NPS) – an index that measures the willingness of customers to recommend a company’s products or services to others – has given Kelly the insight and power to tweak the customer journey where appropriate. 

*Originally published on April 21st 2016. Updated December 4th 2019.

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