Thursday, 15 March 2012

Online Retailing and eCommerce trends for 2012 and other drivel

Online Retailing and eCommerce trends for 2012 and other drivel

If you just want to see the section on trends, then skip down to the middle of this email entitled My thoughts on what I am seeing already in early 2012 in the online retailing space, otherwise read on.
A wonderful weekend cycling along the rail trails from Mansfield to Yea last weekend (in north east Victoria) and racing down the mountain biking tracks of Mt Buller, gave me ample time while pedalling away in the rain to ponder my last five months and think about what I should consider writing in this update.

To start with, the year has just taken off since everyone returned from holidays towards the end of January.
My plans to launch a separate website dedicated to ecommerce consulting turned to nay as I have had so many requests for help, advice, mentoring and consulting flying in from all angles. Many of them  coming from my last big blog post I sent out last year. Time has deserted me and I shall shelve this plan to launch this site until five spare minutes’ sneaks my way and I can get onto it.

So.. here it is! The last five months since I left Catch of the day feel like five years, did I really ever work there? It seems another life ago!
Jokes aside I have been very fortunate and have been quite busy. I am sitting on advisory boards of a few start ups. The consulting side of things has been busy too; however it has followed a very different path to what I had envisaged. I thought I would see lots of project management, ERP implementation, warehousing, accounting integration, vendor and platform selection, SEO, SEM, social media strategy etc real operational stuff. Instead it has all been about strategically getting online businesses that are already trading online on a path to better success.
After talking with businesses for five months I have come to realise that most of the online and multi channel retailers I have consulted with seem to know what they sell or do, they know how to sell or do what they do, but they don’t know why they are in business or what business they are in, so how should their customers know.
You may be a bit confused but bear with me. Does your business have a soul that stimulates the limbic part of the human’s brain?
Don’t you ever wonder why two restaurants side by side on a busy street are trading very differently? Often you may notice a café bursting at the seams with customers and the café next door empty? Why? They both sell similar things i.e. coffee, cake, light meals etc? More often than not, the one that is full does something that has touched its customers or represents something. It may be that the owner was a famous soprano and the café’ reflects that genre, what ever it is, the one café has got something the other café doesn’t, and its not product. As I said they both offer similar things, the difference is that the one café’ offers an experience while the other just offers food and coffee. Look at Apple or Virgin which are great brands most of us feel strongly about. This rings true for online retail too, some great brands that offer more than just a product are, and Although less known, I really like what offers. I have toyed with the site and enjoyed the experience of designing my own shirt.
So from now on my elevator speech has become: ‘ I find the soul of businesses’.
Do you know what the soul of your business is? Why do people buy from you, are loyal to you and advocate your brand? If you don’t know, drop me a line because you’re in trouble if you are not converting your visitors to solid sales from your current offering.

Onto other things...

My thoughts on what I am seeing already in early 2012 in the online retailing space!

Lets start with Pinterest ( Hardly known by most until January, however it’s rumoured to be the next big thing since Facebook. I’ve toyed with it, and I like the fact I can keep a collection of my favourite images of things I like in one place and follow other people that have interests similar to mine. Will this lead to sales of goods? Probably, but don’t rely on it as a game changer, and I can see how a popular product can get virally pinned. I am sure the new iPad launched a few days ago  will be popping up everywhere on Pinterest. I would speculate that it could be another engagement tool in the marketing and social media arsenal.
There is also another site I really like called That is more business focussed as its buzz line is ‘find unique products and stores you’ve never heard of’… or  The Fancy  which even provides an opportunity to buy what you see. What a great value proposition, check them out. Very interesting sites.
Lets look at the latest buzz words that are coming out do they mean anything? Get used to them, your probably going to see them around a lot:

Buzzword 1     NEW COMMERCE
ecommerce taking place anytime, everywhere, any device.. sounds a bit kinky.

Buzzword 2     OMNI COMMERCE
Not sure I like this really sounds like a play on multi channel.  heard it at the recent Online Retailer,Roadshow and read it in an article last year.
It alludes to  multiple channels throughout the purchasing process. Mobile internet devices, computers, catalogs, and brick–n-mortar stores all playing a vital role.

Buzzword 3     COUCH COMMERCE
I like this one, it refers to those laggards lying on their sofa’s (including me) watching TV and browsing the web, checking email and looking up URL’s from adverts just seen on TV. There is a graph, which I unfortunately don’t have that shows how usage of and purchasing from  these devices increases in the evening.

Trends and chatter
I heard some good stuff at the recent Channel Advisor Insights event in Melbourne as well as the Online Retailer Roadshow here they are:

eBay is still a force to be reckoned with. eBay now has over 6 million visitors a month and  a car part is sold on eBay every 9 seconds.  eBay is adapting their search in Autos to enable vehicle model search (back to the 50’s), not by keyword.

The talk on Facebook is that it is not a game changer but adds credibility to the brand… We already knew that didn’t we!
An Online circle report on Facebook usage in January suggested that out of the millions of Facebook user interactions in January in Australia, around 169,000 converted to a sale of some sort.
Only 7% of customers have made a purchase from a Facebook commerce enabled page. The jury is out on Facebook commerce, as trust is a big issue regarding payment through Facebook. I know John Kamaluddin from  on using Facebook commerce answered “Don’t”.

Amazon is now open to Australian retailers through an arrangement with Channeladvisor (Mark Gray, some credits please)

There has also been quite a lot of chatter about retargeting adverts to users who have previously clicked on a Google adsense advert, You’ve probably noticed Google ads appearing on pages you are browsing to, showing adverts of sites you have previously visited.  I’ll leave this to you to decide what you think? Some people think that it invades their privacy.

Curation of product seems to be getting some attention and mass customisation is being spoken of in many circles. Watch this space as I research this area more.

And finally for a bit of inspiration, watch the interview with  Susan Gregg Kogor, Modcloth’s CEO courtesy of my friends at the Online Retailer’s Roadshow 2012 .


  1. Your blog is really amazing with all the bits and pieces of information I can share with my friends and followers. Thanks and more power!

  2. And there you go.... Harvey Norman used the term Omni Commerce in a rent article

  3. Replies
    1. Hello,

      This is really interesting take on the concept. I never thought of it that way. I came across this site recently which I think it will be a great use of new ideas and informations...