INTHEBLACK July 2020 - Page 35

// E - C O M M E R C E
John Rundell FCPA is the
managing director of
Stratica, a business that
undertakes e-commerce
fraud investigations for
the world’s top credit
card companies.
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“Eight out of 10 Australians shop online, and
Australia has the tenth largest e-commerce market in
the world,” she says. “Pre-COVID-19, the prediction
was that in 2021, 10 per cent of Australia’s total retail
sales would be online, and Australia’s e-commerce
market would be valued at A$35.2 billion.”
Chavan forecasts nervous Australian consumers
may buy less overall than predicted, but will
ultimately make many more online purchases
than previously expected.
“Australians have now become accustomed to buying
everything from houses to racehorses online,” Chavan
says. “Likewise, the more innovative SMEs have been
pivoting from real-world to virtual interactions to
serve surging online demand. For example, I consult
with a medispa. It’s gone from selling on-premises
beauty treatments to offering online make-up
technique courses. Things won’t be going back to the
way they used to be after the lockdown is lifted.”
There are few silver bullets when it comes to
online sales. What works for one industry won’t
necessarily work for another. Selling goods online
differs markedly from selling services, and it is not
uncommon for similar businesses using similar
technologies and pursuing similar marketing strategies
to generate divergent results.
That said, it can be useful to examine the following
four areas when seeking to improve a business’s online
sales presence.
40 ITB July 2020
Ernest Stabek FCPA is
chief strategy officer of
PepperStack Global, a
company that builds and
maintains “a precise,
globally scalable software
as a service (SaaS)
platform that transforms
organisations”. Here are
his top two tips for SME
owners looking to pump
up their online sales.
“The jargon around online
sales can seem
impenetrable at first, but it
usually doesn’t take that
much time to get your
head around the basics.
Once you’ve done that,
you’ll need to work out,
through trial and error,
what options are best
suited to your business.
Depending on what you’re
selling, you may wish to
market yourself on
LinkedIn, Facebook,
Instagram, Pinterest or
Twitter. Then, depending
on what platform or
platforms you’re
concentrating on, you may
focus on churning out
podcasts, videos, webinars,
blog posts, e-books, case
studies, white papers,
tweets, infographics,
Pinterest boards, Instagram
images or Facebook ads.”
“SME owners who have
initial success with one
online strategy are
sometimes tempted to
believe they’ve cracked
online sales and can now sit
back and watch the revenue
continue to flow in.
However, the digital world
moves fast. Google can
alter its search algorithm
overnight, significantly
changing the rules of the
SEO game. Business
owners need to watch
how their competitors’
online sales tactics are
evolving and regularly
seek advice about their
own online sales strategy.”
Michael Kava is the director of Little Marketing. He
argues SME owners will get the biggest bang for their
buck by concentrating on the basics. “Most SMEs
now have a website, but often they are suboptimal
websites,” he says. Kava’s advice is to:
• Use a reputable hosting company: “You don’t want
your site to crash or get hacked.”
• Invest in quality copy and images: “Spelling
mistakes and cheap stock images will turn off
potential customers.”
• Harness SEO: “Your potential customers will
almost certainly start their buying journey by doing
online research. You want to make sure your site is
on the first page of Google.”
• Focus on user experience (UX): “It’s a rookie
mistake to create a site that looks beautiful, but is
difficult to navigate. Your potential customers won’t
have the patience to scroll endlessly to find the
information they want.”
While it is possible to renovate an existing website,
Kava suggests SME owners consider starting afresh
with a one-stop-shop e-commerce solution or a
custom-built platform. E-commerce solutions provide
a platform that websites can be built on. They also
facilitate the straightforward integration of payment
gateways, accounting software, marketing software
and social media sites, as well as remarketing and
analytics tools.
“There is plenty to choose from – WordPress and
Shopify are two popular options,” Kava says. “People
should be shopping around to find the solution that has
the right fee structure and features for their business.”
“Most SMEs have a static online presence – a website
with some basic information,” digital economy guru
David Banger observes.
“That’s better than nothing, but to be competitive
nowadays, you need a dynamic presence. You need
to be regularly posting on your own website and
platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter
and LinkedIn.”
Rundell says hacks of SME
sites are common and going
to become even more so as
growing numbers of smaller
businesses seek to join the
online sales gold rush.
“Cybercriminals are looking
to exfiltrate credit card
information,” he warns.
“If hackers can access
someone’s name, credit card
number and CVV [card
verification value] – which
usually happens in between
a customer entering their
payment details on a
business’s site and that
information reaching the
relevant payment gateway –
those payment details can
be sold on the dark web for
about A$50. Typically, the
amount of fraud that will
then occur exceeds A$1000.”
Rundell suggests SME
owners use a fully hosted
e-commerce solution such
as BigCommerce or Shopify.
“SMEs who use third-party
e-commerce platforms, such
as Magento, to develop and
operate their own site are a
softer target,” he says.
Fortunately, those SME
owners using third-party
solutions can still encourage
malicious actors to put their
site in the too-hard basket.
“Get your site scanned
frequently, regularly check
you are using the latest
version of your website’s
software and fully comply
with Payment Card Industry
Data Security Standard (PCI
DSS) 3.2, which is the
mandated security standard
for banks and credit card
companies,” he advises.
“The one thing I always attempt to impress
upon my clients is that they are operating in a
cluttered environment,” Kava says. “Regardless
of the platforms a business is active on, the
key to it generating more online sales lies
in communicating its USP [unique selling
proposition] clearly and consistently.”
Although it long ago ceased to be an SME,
Kava points to Xero’s trajectory to inspire his small
business clients to clarify their brand proposition.
“Granted, Xero has a great product,” he says.
“But the main reason it has been able to compete
so successfully with much larger competitors is,
firstly, it has a strong brand focus and, secondly,
it has marketed that brand online faster and
much more effectively than the other accounting
software providers.”
There are a plethora of payment gateways. All have
their pros and cons in terms of fees, accepted modes
of payment, and the level of cybersecurity they offer.
SME owners should investigate whether they are
using the gateway that best suits their needs.
Even amid the fourth industrial revolution, getting
physical goods from point A to point B remains
time-consuming and expensive. The good news is
that SMEs can now access external infrastructure
to do this. The bad news is that this access does not
come cheap.
“Business owners often find creating an online
shop, and then storing, picking, packing and
transporting products, is a lot more work than
they expect,” Kava says. “On the other hand, many
business owners have found themselves paying
Amazon fixed fees and commissions without
seeing much return on that money. Businesses
usually have to learn through trial and error,
whether it makes more sense to handle
fulfilment themselves or outsource it.”
“If your business is selling a product that is
either the cheapest or best in its category, online
marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay can work
well,” Banger adds. “If that’s not the case, it might
be best to sell it through your own website, as well
as marketplaces. Make sure you explain two things
on your website. First, why your product is better
quality than cheaper competing products. Second,
why your product is of similar quality to more
expensive competing products.” July 2020 41


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