Australian Retailers Guide to Staying Up to Date with Ecommerce

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speedint shopping cart2012 is already the most frenzied and chaotic time yet for online retailing according to leading research firm the e-tailing group.

In its latest report: Racing on the Technology Treadmill: Confronting the Pace of Change, it says that even experienced online operators are finding the going overwhelming.

(Download the report below.)

The Chicago based research company has been studying online business for 18 years, and for the past 11 has published an annual survey of online merchants’ tactics, practices, strategies and issues.

That bears repeating; they have been doing this for 18 years. Ecommerce and online business is not new, but it is getting more complex

And that’s for the companies that are already online.

For those businesses not yet online it must now seem like they are at the point where the train has almost left the station. If they run like hell they might just make the last train; if they hesitate it will be gone forever.


Key Challenges for All Online Businesses

According to the report these are some of the fundamental issues confronting online retailers:

“Merchants are attempting to grapple with all of these issues simultaneously as the ability to connect via multiple devices when convenient for customers wreaks havoc on standard operating procedures.

Marketing programs must be adjusted to meet consumers where they are and, of course, the only constant is the frenetic pace of change.

At the same time, customer experiences on retail websites continue to evolve and expectations rise where shoppers seek sophisticated processes, swift delivery, and responsive retailer logistics."

No wonder newcomers are confused and hesitant.


The Unrelenting Pace of Change

The report points out that many seasoned operators are constantly grappling with the issues of constantly needing to update and upgrade their platforms to meet ever increasing consumer expectations and demands.

In this environment knowledge and resources are usually scarce and expensive, and waiting eight weeks for IT or a development house to turn around the changes is unacceptable both in time and cost.

Plus there is ongoing conflict between IT staff who want to keep systems stable and marketing and sales staff who want to keep pace with the marketplace.

And this situation is constant from large companies thru to small ones.  Merchants continually have to make tradeoffs between what they know they need and what they can realistically achieve.

For some their CRM, CMS and ecommerce systems are outdated, but upgrading them is a daunting prospect. For others they simply don’t have the time or the staff.

In response more and more merchants are looking to outsource as much of their ecommerce systems as they can to providers that keep up to date with the changes.

But at the same time retailers still need to retain the control and flexibility to make changes to their marketing and selling operations at a moment’s notice.


Customers are Dictating the Market

Online retailing reportThe report concludes that the pace of change will not let up because the customer has taken control and is now dictating how businesses must respond.  

It also points to a situation, to paraphrase Einstein, where the e-tailing systems that got us here are no longer sufficient to take us to the nest level.

It’s a daunting picture for anyone in business. Anyone waiting for things to settle down or get easier may be waiting forever.

On the upside it’s never been easier to set up an online business. New services and technologies are now affordable for even the smallest business.

Ecommerce solutions are range from free to just a few dozen dollars a month for very sophisticated solutions.

Understanding them and running them, however, are another matter.

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