Podcast: Developing An E-Commerce Strategy For Your Business on Small Biz Matters

On Tuesday I was humbled, excited and a tad nervous to have been invited on my first radio interview with Alexi Boyd speaking about online retail and the importance of having a digital presence in business.

Alexi runs Small Biz Matters a weekly show on Triple H 100.1FM which is the Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Community Radio Station. Her show is dedicated to helping small businesses work ON their business not just IN them and presents experts, advice, education and current affairs that matter to small business. Guests include local lawyers, accountants, marketing gurus, politicians, and many other experts in their fields who provide listeners with expertise to help them grow their businesses. Alexi is a very knowledgeable woman in business and specialises in Small Business Advocacy, a local Radio Host & small business educator and is passionate about teaching her clients to be empowered and in control of their own admin.

As a small business owner I believe it is important to become as knowledgeable as possible on a range of subjects as running a small business is hard and the more knowledge you have empowers you to make better decisions and to grow your business with confidence.

Listen to podcast here on iTunes or Youtube and read on for more information on items we spoke about.

Small Biz Matters – a half hour program each week where you can work ON your business rather than IN it with Alexi Boyd from Boyd Office Management Services

Date: 11 December 2018

E-Commerce and the dark art of online selling. Not only is it crucial to get your online sales streamlined and working but it actually needs to make sense and integrate with your sales and marketing strategy. Why? Because for all of us selling is your business and if your online selling platform doesn’t make sense to your long term vision the two could be working against one another.

It’s always great to have an expert on the show, but Chana is an expert with serious longevity in the e-commerce world. From the first online selling platforms to the rise of online gods like Amazon, she’s assisted businesses with developing their strategies through this expertise. From wholesalers to little bespoke hand-made products her clients are more knowledgeable with the HOW and the WHY of e-commerce strategy.

Welcome to the show Chana.

Good morning Alexi, Thank you for having me on your show today, I am really excited to be here.

My name is Chana and I run Owl and Monk a small boutique agency in Southern Sydney specialising in helping business get their products online simply and effectively by: Strategically planning, Designing and Maintaining professional, responsive and easy to use e-commerce stores on on ShopifyWooCommerceeBay and Amazon.

Explain your background why you’re passionate about your business & helping others

I started my career as a Graphic Designer over 15 years ago and studied my Masters in Design at UTS and UNSW with interests in branding and user experience. Over the years I learnt a lot by working directly with small businesses, listening to their challenges and hearing first hand how they innovated their processes to solve them. I have worked on range of designs from logo design to professional documentation design for Annual Reports, Display and Exhibition Graphics and designing eBay and eCommerce stores.

I started Owl and Monk after being confronted with some tricky problems that my clients were facing when selling on their eBay and online stores. To overcome these challenges I became as knowledgeable as possible, questioning web developers, designers and other online sellers about store design, coding, customer service, freight and inventory management processes.

The name Owl and Monk represent our two key beliefs in building a successful online brand – wisdom and simplicity. All our work is guided by these two themes.

I am really passionate about helping businesses grow and offer customised services to help retailers and wholesalers sell more effectively online.

My biggest challenge in retail has come from building my own online store. I started Mabel Loves to Play in 2016 – an online women’s golfing apparel store – after noticing that there wasn’t a good range of stylish women’s golf clothing available in the Australia’s market and have learning first-hand what it is like being a retailer from sourcing products, building supplier relationships, fulfilling orders and providing customer service.

Businesses need to be across so many platforms; the change is exponential in Australia

Website & e-commerce – what is that to a business?

9/ 10 people research a business’s services and or products online before they enquire or go in store. I highly recommend that all businesses create a professional website to profile their offerings and to use it as a tool to  market their business. As a business, you are forfeiting a potential sale to the competition by not having a digital presence.

The difference between a website and eCommerce website is the capacity to sell products. Most service operators have a website to profile their business, showcase their client work and to give contact information. eCommerce website’s have the same but also include additional information on FAQ’s, website Terms and Conditions, Shipping and Return policies as well as profiling their products.

A must for all websites is to display a current Privacy Policy (talk to a legal expert) and to create an insightful ‘About Us’ page detailing why you run your business, what your point of difference is and how your products or services are helpful to prospective visitors, this will make your website more personable, help buyers to trust you and will help your website be found on Google search.

Is it easy to set up your website yourself but like all things in business; the setup point is when you really need to do your research both on getting it right but also your product itself and how to describe it online. How to establish the product’s value.

I would strongly recommend that all business owners hire an expert to set up their websites. Websites are important business tools that can be used to market and grow a business and need to be professionally designed, planned and tested with the customer in mind.  Website are like digital ecosystems and should be regularly updated with fresh content helping your business stay relevant and on trend.

For people that are tech savy and like to get their hands dirty they can set-up an online store on Shopify or eBay fairly quickly. But what a lot of people fail to do with their setup is to think like a customer and to organise content in a way that it is intuitive to use, easy to find and profiles the products well.

Shopify is a self hosted ecommerce platform that presents well across mobile, is easy and intuitive to use giving you the freedom to make changes, add content and run your business independently. Their blog is interesting and includes helpful guides on how to sell professionally as well as sharing inspirational merchant stories. They have a variety of solution for startup retailers as well as more established high volume sellers and wholesalers.

eBay is a great place for retailers to get started as they can register for an account and start selling on the same day. eBay has been around since 1999 and has over 40,000 Australian retailers selling their products in Australia with more than 11 Million active visitors each month.

It’s hard for customer to buy online as they are unable to touch, try and experience the product as the would in real life. This is why this it is so import that your website has great content building trust and answering any questions they may have.

It is really important that each product has at least one (preferably 3-4) good quality (high resolution 2000px) photos that display the products details, in various angles and conditions (especially if the product is used or damaged). I recommend that all photos are square aspect (same width and height) as this will display your photos consistently across devices and themes.

Product titles and descriptions need to be written well and to provide helpful information on product specifications, care instructions and warranty details. This content will help people find you on Google search and to make a informed purchase decision.

The best way to stand out amongst your competition is to offer a great customer experience. The small details matter and if you are able to personalise how you send out your parcels your customers will remember and will share their experience with their friends and hopefully will buy from you again (This is the best publicity your business will have).  Adore Beauty has beautiful packaging and special gifts in their deliveries.

Pitfalls – Is it going to be easy once I get online? 

Retailers in the city can spend more than $2k a week on rent and easy $10-50k on a shop fit out.

It is much cheaper to get started selling online but retailers should be prepared to invest at least 10% of their profits on marketing of their website and even more when they start out. It’s a lot harder to sell online as retailers can’t rely on foot traffic to tell people where they are and why they should visit.  Businesses who want to sell online need to be strategic and invest time and money in building their brand online and need to find partners who can support their growth in this space.

Starting an online store is exciting and has the potential to be really successful but to do so I recommend that businesses be strategic and plan their approach. Successful online stores have systems in place to run, test and conduct marketing, review analytics, manage staff, sales, fulfilment, inventory, product sourcing and customer services

There are many different ways to sell your products and to be effective it is important to go where your customers go and strategically choose the best place to to sell your products which may include:

  • Brick and Mortar: Selling in a physical retail store

  • Pureplay: Selling Online only

  • Omnichannel: Selling both in a physical store and online

  • Temporary popups, concept stores, events and markets: This is a great way for customers to learn more about you, try and test products and to build a brand reputation.

  • Online Marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon and Etsy

  • Social media

Preparing your website for Xmas period/ Last minute Christmas Tips!

Wow we only have 14 days till Christmas.. yikes!

The Christmas shopping season has started earlier this year with big sales such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday offering great prices online.

My last minute tips for retailers selling online during this busy time is to…

  • Buy a product from your website and review processes and experience. If something doesn’t work properly make improvements.

  • Talk to your website host and see if they can manage an influx of visitors to your site especially if your running Christmas/ holiday campaigns.

  • Make sure you have enough stock and staff to fulfil orders.

  • Logistics – talk to your shipping providers and see what their cuts off times are for guaranteed delivery. Most provides can guarantee in time for Christmas within the next week or so, no later than 21st Express Post.

  • Make a toast and thank your staff for hard work.. Chocolates are always a great way to say thank you

To find out more about Owl and Monk please visit my website at www.owlandmonk.com.au

Or send me a direct email at [email protected] or Send me a personal message on LinkedIn

I’d love to hear from you so please get in touch and tell me what your biggest challenge has been in business this year and how you used technology to overcome it.

Thank you for inviting me to today Alexi. I hope you have a safe and enjoyable holiday break.