Monday, 23 July 2012

PESA Professional eBay and eCommerce Sellers Association InternetConference - Gold Coast June 2012 


Some notes and statistics over the last few months on eCommerce and Online Retailing in Australia

How time flies. I recently noticed that its over three months since my last update, so here one is. Once again my thoughts, learnings and experiences over the last few months.

I have formed an opinion that the Online Retailing landscape continues to evolve rapidly (duh who doesn’t) and changers every three months.  Factors that appear to affect this are:

A natural increase in online shoppers

The rapid evolution of cloud solutions and drop in costs and barriers to entry in entering the online space are dropping (Shopify, Big Commerce, Volusion, Neto, Epages come to mind amongst others).
More sellers are creating online offerings therefore more competition than ever from local and international online retailers. International competition continues to increase as more retailers abroad vie for Australian dollars from local consumers. The uncertain economic landscape in Australia (and the world for that matter), and more so called experts and "eCommerce consultants" and full service agencies are popping up like wild mushrooms. There is a 12% increase in online spending according to Forrester (not sure if this is Australian or International).                                                                                         


I recently attended the PESA Internet Conference at the Gold Coast. (Click HERE to see photos) This is the first time I have attended a PESA conference, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised, and a big thank you to Phil Leahy (The organsier and founder) for inviting me to attend. PESA (Professional eBay sellers association) has morphed into the Professional eBay and eCommerce sellers association. (SEE VIDEOS OF PRESENTATIONS HERE)

The event was held over two and a half days and included a wonderful charity Gala dinner (funds were raised for the Reach Foundation). There were many networking opportunities as well as many familiar faces and friends. I managed to chat with many eBay sellers attending the conference, most have migrated to some form of Magento, the ecommerce CMS platform that was recently acquired by eBay, and unsurprisingly allows users to integrate their stock via a data feed into the eBay marketplace as well. Magento is apparently used by 25% of the top 500 Internet Retailers in the US and has a large chunk of the CMS market (see slide).

Magento is a hotly debated topic. Some developers complain that it is a cumbersome beast to set up, and it requires powerful servers as it is resource intensive. There are arguments to develop from the ground up (reinvent the wheel) or look at alternatives such as Interspire (Big Commerce's hosted version of their cloud based )software

Some highlights form the conference were as follows:

Deb Sharkey from eBay gave a wonderful overview of changes coming up at eBay. eBay has been a little slow at listening to users, however I believe the ongoing threat of Amazon as a serious alternative marketplace, especially since Amazon is looking at sites to set up distribution in Australia has meant some serious changes at eBay. Simpler fees, starting at a flat rate of 6% on transactions, and I notice that up to 12 photos can be uploaded for free. eBay Australia has around 7million viewers per month now, and mobile transactions continue to rise. They  were $ 2Billion in 2010 ,$5 Billion in 2011 and expected to be $8 Billion in 2012.
eBay has been working on an algorithm of relevance for example vendors who have a combination of  price, service, delivery times, ranking etc will rank higher up in the sales listing .This encourages all eBay sellers to go out of their way to offer an excellent all round offering to customers otherwise risk their products being ranked lower in natural search listings on eBay.
Sharkey went on to say that its All just commerce now and the distinction between ecommerce and traditional retail are starting to blur (we knew that).
Some other interesting stats;
o      The UK, and Australia are the two fastest growing mobile markets.
o      Every 5 minutes on eBay Aust, a pair of ladies shoes and a hand bag are bought via mobile
o      The most expensive item bought on eBay mobile was an 18ct gold watch for $21,500

Australia Post's Ahmed Fahrour also spoke at the conference, Australia Post under his leadership is certainly embracing the future to ensure it stays up to speed with the rapid changes in the logistics and fulfilment space.  I summarised some of his key points :

  1. 70% of parcel transactions within Australia Post now have some ecommerce relationship
  2. Competition is coming from overseas eRetail mainly US UK China and NZ, 67% of international parcels come from
  3. these markets
  4. There is 60% higher conversion if postage is built into price (thats what eBay says)
  5. Australia Post  says 30% increase in sales from sellers who include freight in sales i.e. free shipping ( wonder how
  6. they gather this statistic)
  7. Australia Post is  losing $70 million in delivering items below 2kg upu rules
  8. Prices are linked to mail prices domestically. this is linked to a stamp price not a parcel price
  9. 70% of online purchases in Australia are conducted on domestic sites and around 22-30% on foreign sites
  10. Australia Post is working hard to encourage sales to  overseas markets
  11. Recently launched Pack and Track international for UK, USA and NZ with full tracking, delivery is 3-10 days on
  12. this. This service will soon be available  into China
  13. Convenience and choice is now a reality today in Australia Post. The first 24/7 smart parcel lockers have been
  14. rolled out to cater for workers with less flexible hours. Customers using this service will get a text with a pin code,
  15. which will allow them to receive parcels at designated locations . AP is planning to role this service  out to over 
  16. 200 sites initially.
  17. eParcel and Click and Send users  will soon be able to nominate a delivery timeframe called MY  DELIVERIES
  18. See the video Here

Latest data on mCommerce in Australia:

o      Highest smartphone adoption worldwide 52% ( / IPSOS Apr 2012)
o      Second highest iPhone penetration 48% (IPSOS June 2011)
o      2 out of 3 phones sold are smartphones (OFK July 2011)
o      500,000 unique visitors to mobile web/day 86% YoY growth (Nielsen Jan 2012)
o      Mobile shopping searches increased 22% YoY (Google Jan 2012)

More about me

 I quipped in my last rant that I hadn't had time to build a website promoting my ecommerce consulting services. Anyway, I managed to find some spare time one weekend  and created a page on the website. It ranked on page one of Google under the search term ecommerce consulting within three days, proving that relevant content is recognized by Google’s search algorithm (being an article on the IR website would have also helped) . Anyhow ecommerce consulting sounds pretty boring doesn’t it, so I thought about putting some oomph into some serious rebranding. Geurilla Branding! Read on.

Ruslan Kogan was really impressive when he gave his Keynote at the Internet Conference I mentioned before. I have written a separate article on his presentation. Ruslan's recent 6.8% tax on users that use Internet Explorer 7 is a fantastic example of outside the square thinking and and impressive Guerilla Tactic. Speaking of Guerilla Tactics, I soft launched a separate brand called…. Guerilla Tactics. The motivation for this is that too many people are falling into the trap of either doing nothing or just copying whatever everyone else does. This is a sure way to fail unless you market yourself differently, in cheap, free or very cost effective but smart way, and this is where Guerilla Tactics comes into play. Know anyone looking to do things differently, send them to Guerilla Tactics (or to me) . I’m giving bananas (and other nice things) for referred work, so think of me and my team

 And here is Jim Stewart's take on the conference in June at the Gold Coast:

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