More Australian Retailers Online, But Floundering

Research shows confusion and conflicting expectations.

confused sign postA new research report shows some encouraging signs among Australian retailers but also highlights just how inexperienced and unprepared most of them are for online shopping.

 The Australian Retail Adoption Plans for Online Advertising and E-tailing report released by AIMIA has some interesting stats but its ultimate conclusion is

“The stark reality for the industry is there are precious few senior, experienced “client side” personnel in Australia – meaning most retail organisations are learning as they go. This places Australian retailers at a disadvantage.”

Download the report at the end of this article.

 

More Retailers Online, but Not Many Selling

On the plus side it reports that 78% of Australian retailers have a website, but unfortunately only 43% of them are actually selling online. 

This concurs with other research that notes that Australian shoppers would buy more from local retailers if only they were online - Australian Retail: Where the Money Is

Another worrying stat is that 88% of Australian retailers are advertising on the web, even though some of them don’t have a website.

The report also revealed that retailers regarded advertising as the most important function of their website.

 Australian online retailers focus 2012

Most are Repeating the Same Mistakes

These two stats are worrying as the internet is not an advertising medium. This has been constantly pointed out over the past two decades by leading online experts such as  Jakob Neilsen, Guy Kawasaki, Jared Spool to name a few.

The other fact is that online advertising doesn’t work real well. See Online Advertising Still Impotent, But Size Matters.

The fact that so many businesses believe the web is an advertising medium, and are most likely being told it is by their advisors, just highlights again the lack of expertise in the online business world.

(I’ll have more to say on that in a future post.)

 

Most are Using Outdated Tactics

Another worrying stat is that search engine optimisation and search engine marketing are regarded as two of the most important online marketing techniques.

Unfortunately SEO is pretty much dead as a strategy. Google has gone out of its way to render SEO practitioners impotent and has pretty much succeeded. There may be a few more battles to fight, but that war is over.

SEM is just another name for online advertising, and it is one of the least effective online marketing techniques.

Again this merely highlights the retailers’ lack of knowledge and experience and the outdated advice being given to them by their advisors.

On the plus side, most retailers regard email as the second most important online marketing technique.  Email at least is a proven business and revenue performer.

 

The Best Strategies are Being Ignored

However what are crucially missing from the list of marketing options in the report are conversion rate optimisation, ongoing testing and content marketing.

These are three strategies that are known to make the biggest difference in increasing revenue and marketing effectiveness, but they are missing from the list.

Content marketing, especially, is booming overseas, with many companies allocating a third of their marketing budget to it.

Also missing are proven techniques such as copywriting, performance improvement and cart abandonment reduction.

Whether that’s because the report’s authors didn’t know about them and so forgot to ask about them, or the retailers themselves didn’t know about them is worrying either way.

Again it just reinforces the lack of knowledge and expertise within the industry.

Aussie Online marketing tactics

 

It Can Only be Redeemed by Blood and Fire

Still at least Australian retailers are now engaging with and embracing online retail. This report is encouraging as a previous report showed that almost two thirds of all Australian businesses do not have a website. See Online Business Doesn't Get the Web

Retailers may in fact  be leading the belated move into online shopping, no doubt partly in response to the dire performance of offline retail over the past few years.

They will undoubtedly skin their knees, graze their chins and get burned quite a bit as they try to figure out what works and what doesn’t, but how else are they going to learn?

It’s unfortunate because there are plenty of people in Australia who have been working in the online retail space for several decades, and who could tell them how to avoid most of the booby traps.

But as with seen with David Jones and Harvey Norman, many of them just don’t want to listen to good advice.

Downlod the report: Australian Retail Adoption Plans for Online Advertising and E-tailing

Or watch the Slideshare Presentation.

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