It's that time of the year again — when we ask you to complete our survey of Australian online retail professionals.
What do we want? A few minutes of your time spent completing this survey. It asks a few simple questions about how you're approaching the challenges that face Australian online retail professionals. All information is kept confidential.
What do you get? The warm fuzzy feeling that comes from advancing the state of knowledge. Plus you go into the draw to win two free tickets to the Online Retail Expo & Exhibition. Plus you can have the final anonymous survey results at the end of the research process.
Taking verbal swipes at Gerry Harvey and his Harvey Norman retail chain has almost become a national sport among eBusiness professionals in Australia. And given Harvey's long history of talking down online retail and talking up his own business, this is far from surprising.
But something interesting has happened over the last six months or so. The sleeping giant has woken to the importance of online retail.
At first, one could have been forgiven for underestimating the scale of the transition occurring within this company, as its first public effort — a deals site called Harvey Norman Big Buys — was unremarkable to say the least.
For a moment, allow me to speak as an Australian consumer, rather than as an eBusiness analyst. As a consumer, let me say this: In Australia, in 2011, I am truly surprised when I visit a favorite shopping site using my iPhone, only to find I must zoom, pan, and squint to achieve anything useful. It's not a good experience, and it makes it harder for me to shop. The contrast with the great experience I have with the best mobile shopping apps and sites could not be greater.
It turns out I'm not the only Australian online shopper to use mobile apps and the mobile web, according to my new report, "Mobile Technographics: Australian Online Shoppers." In fact, it turns out that Australian online shoppers tend to be sophisticated mobile users — even more advanced than the wider community of Australian Internet users as a whole. And for Australians who regularly shop online in certain product categories, the average level of sophisticated mobile behavior is even higher. For example:
84% of Australian online adults who have mobile phones use them for more than voice — uses that range from SMS to consuming mobile video.
49% of Australian adult mobile phone owners who regularly shop online for apparel, footwear, or accessories are also in Forrester's Entertainers category, meaning they buy content, apps, or personalized services for entertainment on their mobile phones at least weekly.
38% of Australian adult mobile phone owners who regularly shop online for computer hardware, software, or peripherals are also in Forrester's Connectors category, meaning they use mobile email at least once a month, or they use another efficiency or productivity application like mapping.
"What's that?" I hear you say. "What's emotional?" Well, don't worry — that was the megatrend that stumped most people. But it shouldn't, because everywhere we look, eBusiness professionals are striving to creating more emotionally engaging transactional experiences.
Consider online retail, which is still the most visible form of eBusiness. Creating an eBusiness experience that's less of a chore than traditional shopping is easy. But creating an experience that inspires some of the positive emotions associated with traditional shopping at its best — security, status, even fun — is much, much harder. However, it can be done. For example, the idea to write this blog post came from Mag Nation's "magdentifier," which asks some fun questions before showing you a range of magazines tailored to your interests. For me, playing with the magdentifier was fun. For the first time, it made me consider giving a magazine subscription as a gift.
In April, I published research about the importance of innovation in eBusiness, and how eBusiness professionals can prioritize the many opportunities that lay before them.
To harness these innovation opportunities more effectively, eBusiness leaders must learn how to prototype more quickly, so they can more quickly and cheaply learn what works, and what needs further rapid adaption.
No video showcases these concepts more effectively than this one, from Nordstam Innovation Labs, which I found on Eric Ries' Startup Lessons Learned blog. Enjoy.
eBusiness in Australia is in a period of extraordinary development. On a near-daily basis, we see the launch of determined new retailers — from fashion eyewear vendor Sneaking Duck to subscription pet food provider Paws For Life — as well as new services to support the sector, like Want It Now's same-day delivery system. Yet ample "blue sky" remains for entrepreneurs who are willing to take a crack at this sector. Of these countless opportunities, four come to mind immediately:
A personal finance-management system. Mint still hasn't come to Australia. The Australian Taxation Office's e-Tax is still a painful way to submit tax returns. You still never meet someone who says "I use ANZ Money Manager". Saasu and Xero still support businesses but not individuals. If anyone stepped up to offer in Australia what Mint offers in the US and Canada today, thousands of customers — incuding me — would rush to get onboard, and Australian's finance-sector eBusiness professionals would have a collective heart-attack.
The report is written for marketers, but these days, my main role at Forrester is to serve the eBusiness & Channel Strategy professional. So naturally, I find myself asking what these new numbers might mean for eBusiness in Australia.
The report's top-line message is continued growth. In particular, the report shows that the absolute number of Australians who regularly use social media has increased to an all-time high of 13.4 million people. However, I'd class that nugget as a "nice to know." It's a useful stat to use the next time you get in one of those tedious debates about why social media matters at all, but the Australian eBusiness leaders I speak with have largely passed that point. Their burning question is not whether to use social media at all. Instead, they want to know what tools and tactics to prioritize, so let's address three of the most common social commerce practices.
This led to some very interesting briefings and an enormous amount of thinking and debate. The upshot: It's time to bury the marketing funnel.
The marketing funnel, shown below on the left, is a simple and broad-ranging model, which is part of its appeal. However, it's from an earlier era and does a poor job of summarizing how we think about customers and marketing today. Luckily, the customer life cycle, shown below on the right, is as clear and usable as the funnel but provides a far better fit with marketing in the 21st century.
I could write an entire report about why the customer life cycle should replace the funnel — and in fact, I have — but here are just some of the reasons:
The role of marketing. At its worst, the funnel portrays marketing as a conveyer belt with the job of delivering a continuous supply of customers to the business. On the other hand, the customer life cycle portrays marketing as the function that is responsible for orchestrating the total brand experience.
The value of the customer. In the funnel, a prospect is a prospect, and a sale is a sale. It's a volume-based model. On the other hand, every customer group has its own life cycle, including its own lifetime value, and its own journey.