Why shopping isn't the only thing online retailers should worry about

Panellists at this year's Online Retailer Conference in Sydney look at how retailers can evolve their brands to meet current and future customer behaviour online

The shopping experience is just one facet of what customers will expect from online brands in the future, a panel of retail industry representatives claims.

Speaking on a panel at the Online Retailer Conference and Ecommerce Expo in Sydney on 21 August, country manager of online fashion retailer, ASOS Australia, Sally-Anne Newson, said retailers need to be building teams that are focused on giving customers a more enriched online experience.

With online retail still just 6 per cent of total retail sales in Australia, compared with 13 per cent in the UK, she saw significant opportunity for growth, provided brands were driven by consumer trends. Newson also claimed the Australian retail online space had historically been “reasonably neglected” in terms of ensuring the right infrastructure, skills and training are in place to drive the industry.

“Customers have much higher expectations, and the shopping experience is just one part of what they will expect from a brand tomorrow,” she said. “Customers want to collaborate, get inspiration from all over the globe, access user generated content and have the ability to inspire others.”

This deeper level of engagement with customers won’t be about “selling them a frock”, Newson added.

“Consumers don’t consider channels – it’s about the brand and the customer experience. There is an expectation that the experience should be the same whether it’s in-store or online.”

Former COO and CMO of US-based fashion online retailer ModCloth, Kerry Cooper, agreed inspiration should be the driving force for brands and said she was excited by the opportunity to use technology and digital platforms to help customers discover what they want.

“Customers don’t want to search for a black mohair cardigan, they want to be inspired,” she claimed. “It’s about how we change that discovery piece and how we help customers engage in order to learn what they want to discover.”

Tablets driving more mobile sales
Price and social factors key with rising numbers of mobile retail buyers: Report
Retail Food Group sets up internal digital team and social media command centre

For head of online at alcoholic beverages retailer Dan Murphy, Fay Ilhan, brands operating online also need to recognise what customers are actually using their online properties for. She pointed out two-thirds of customers use the Dan Murphy site to research, check prices and locate a store, but choose to make purchases in person.

“If you look at online primarily as a transactional journey, you could end up on the wrong path,” she said. “Everything in our development pipeline is about serving the needs of our customers.”

As a traditional bricks-and-mortar retailer, Dan Murphy has been working to grow its online presence and has increased online staff from five to 20. The process has come with plenty of challenges, one of which was ensuring all internal teams came on the digital journey, Ilhan said.

“Never underestimate that they are not on the same page as you are,” she advised. “But you need to keep digging at it, as long as the end goal is worth at it, and you can explain why and bring it back to the customer.”

Dan Murphy has also created five pillars to help keep staff constantly evolving the online journey, Ilhan said. These are to be bold; always question everything and ask why; recognise that the work is never over; be ruthless in prioritisation, and don’t be afraid.

UK department brand John Lewis is recognised worldwide as a leader in omni-channel strategy, and its director of retail operations development, Simon Russell, said there is now an expectation at board level that executives have experience both in the physical and virtual retail environment.

This will help the company continue to innovate and refine its customer-led approach even as the global retail space is disrupted by further technology and cultural trends, he said.

“It’s normal now to move in and out of clicks and bricks,” Russell said. “This thinking encourages people to look for innovation and has created a culture that embraces having a go at things. Accept things just won’t work now, but others things will. That approach didn’t exist five or six years ago.”

As an example of just how quickly online retailing is changing, Brands Exclusive Daniel Jarosch pointed out 50 per cent of its sales are now transacted through mobile app on weekends. This mobile phenomenon has already impact how the retailer presents products to online customers.

“We have to continue to be relevant in the context that the customer is in at that point in time,” Jarosch added.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia

Signup to CMO’s new email newsletter to receive your weekly dose of targeted content for the modern marketing chief.

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

The real asset of small data – getting granular unearths opportunities

When most marketers use the word ‘data’, what springs to mind are large sets of numbers, Excel spreadsheets, cloud-based IT systems and complicated algorithms. Big data speak is the mot du jour. There is even a big data Week in London called the Festival of Data.

Pip Stocks

CEO and founder, BrandHook

Digital Transformation challenges for CMOs

New problems are rarely fixed by applying old thinking. In the last decade, a combination of circumstances has evolved that requires new thinking from marketers. This new thinking takes advantage of the digital environment and transforms business as we know it.

Mark Cameron

CEO, Working Three

Why innovation requires less certainty and more ambiguity

According to the Knowledge Doubling Theory, the sum total of human knowledge doubles every 12-13 months. With the full evolution of the Internet of Things, it will eventually double every 12 hours. Faced with such a sea of shifting data and knowledge, how can we make progress if we try to nail everything down to a certainty?

Matt Whale

Managing director, How To Impact

Need to improve your customer journey? We're excited to announce that we are holding that we are holding two more sessions of our sellout...

Proto Partners

Customer journeys: The new differentiation battlefield - Customer insights - CMO Australia

Read more

Thanks Mark. A third of customers leave brands after one negative experience, thats why it is ever so important that we optimise EVERY in...

Proto Partners

Customer journeys: The new differentiation battlefield - Customer insights - CMO Australia

Read more

Hi Kyle -- great piece. I couldn't agree with you more when you say that we as marketers are in the business of choice. I actually wrot...

Matthew Willcox

Tapping behavioural science for consumer influence

Read more

Great points. When it comes to optimizing the app experience, making sure you collect rich usage data is important, but making sure you c...

Dustin Amrhein

Why app engagement must be personalised - Mobile strategy - CMO Australia

Read more

You can also use automation to help keep the contact database nice and tidy. For example, programs that check and fix database values (eg...

automatico

3 brands using marketing automation for more than just email

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in