Insights from the Online Retailing Conference (Part 1)

A few of us at PIndaba HotelayFast recently attended the Online Retailing conference in May this year. It was held in the beautifully serene Indaba Hotel that was nested securely away from the surrounding bustle of the Johannesburg highways.

But enough with the vivid scene setting ;)

There are some interesting learnings that the conference revealed regarding the world of online retailing.
There is simply too much to mention from this conference so I’d like to highlight some points that you might find useful in running an online business.

Part 1 will include insights on eMarketing and the landscape of online retailing
Part 2 will include information on payment solutions and eCommerce laws at play and on their way.

Marketing online

When getting started with marketing your business/product online follow these five steps to take in eMarketing:

  1. Define your customer
  2. Choose your targets (clear goals and aims are paramount)
  3. Budget, budget, budget
  4. Create content (ranks well with search engines and searchers)
  5. Track and monitor your activity

It is also important to take into consideration how customer service could change the face of your business. Your brand and its culture should be synonymous because markets are demanding faster, more legitimate responses forcing businesses to drop their facades. The online climate and social media specifically is immediate, giving customers the opportunity to interact online, creating an extensive platform for word of mouth. Businesses need to create a personal and emotive experience for their customers which can be done through Customer Relationship Management efforts (involving an amalgamated strategy of social media platforms and customer service).

The Golden Steps of Customer Service – Paul Galatis (@paulgalatis), Yuppie Chef:

  1. Make sure the customer is heard and understoodSteps
  2. Apologise with no excuses
  3. Go above and beyond for every customer
  4. Work out what can be done to prevent the same issue from happening in future, and communicate this to the customer.

Landscape of Online Retail

South Africans have started adopting online retail and eCommerce far later than the rest of the world. This late adoption of online shopping is immersed in issues of mistrust and unfamiliarity of online platforms with specific regard to the payment process. Online retailers should be monitoring this and adjusting their business practices accordingly. South Africans are joining the online shopping space but it is a slow process.

Consumers are beginning to use social media (Facebook, Twitter, online forums etc.) to speak to other consumers about your product/service. Consumers trust others over your declarations of excellence. Get involved in this space with a specific goal don’t jump in and start talking without a plan.

The fact of the matter is that online platforms mean customers have more choice (locally and internationally). Be prepared for this.

CommunityMy last finishing thought for you is truly South African in the spirit of Ubuntu. Fred Roed (@Fred_Roed) presented on ‘Lessons from a Rock n Roll Band’ with the main point that marketing endeavours geared around building a community are the most successful and sustainable. The marketing and retail landscape in general is characterised by ‘noise’ with so much information and so many products available that consumers are bombarded. How do we combat this? Add value to your customers’ life. Start with building a community around your businesses offerings.

“According to McKinsey’s research, customers within a community are 9 times more likely to buy their product than a competing product from outside that community.”

CRM is a marketing tactic that needs to become a way of being.