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Retailers told to optimise sites for mobile ahead of Amazon arrival Featured

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As Australian online retailers brace for the arrival of online giant Amazon, a senior official of a global provider of cloud-based ecommerce solutions and services has advised locals to optimise their site for mobile use as Australians are using smartphones for shopping more than ever.

Joe Thymian (below, right), regional vice-president for APAC at SLI Systems. told iTWire it was clear that optimising a retail website for the latest smart device was central to any successful e-commerce strategy.

"At SLI, we suggest enhancing the quality of smaller screens, improving speed, and not forgetting the holy grail of mobile shopping: the fewer clicks, the better," he said.

Thymian said that embedding a strong search function within one's website should be a priority for any savvy retailer who wanted to hold onto market share in the face of competition from Amazon.

"Sophisticated search features such as autocomplete and product images that appear as you type can act as a secret weapon – cutting time down from search to purchase," he said.

Joe Thymian.He said leading Australian cosmetics retailer Adore Beauty guided its shoppers to the right products from the moment they typed in the search box. "As a result, the 10% of shoppers who use site search yield more than 30% of the site’s revenue," he pointed out.

Once search had been fixed up, Thymian said, "it’s time to get personal".

"Promoting relevant product recommendations, tailoring email campaigns, and curating personalised landing pages can deepen engagement, differentiate your brand and drive repeat sales," he advised.

"While Amazon may have pioneered these approaches, local retailers already have a headstart, with a wealth of data on customers’ needs and buying patterns that can be harnessed to deliver a highly personalised experience."

SLI recently issued a report on ecommerce performance indicators that showed globally online retailer confidence was strong, with 80% forecasting a rise in online revenue this quarter and 46% predicting an increase in in-store revenues.

Thymian said Australia’s isolation was its greatest ecommerce challenge, but this could ultimately prove to be its greatest strength. "Despite Amazon’s arrival on Australian shores, local retailers have built close relationships with their customers who value their brand, expertise and service and Australian retailers should introduce measures to maintain these," he said.

He advised local retailers to become experts in their niche, saying that if a site had a blog, how-to videos, social media posts or other content that its customers consumed, then these features could be used to differentiate the site from Amazon.

"The unique expertise and customer engagement you already have within your industry niche is something Amazon can’t easily match. Think about how great content can improve the shopping experience - give your customers a destination to both purchase a product and learn how to use it."

And finally, Thymian said Australian retailers should bear in mind that 93% of retail still took place in bricks and mortar stores. "A physical store is one asset retailers have which Amazon currently does not have, Australian retailers need to ensure they are leveraging this," he said.

He said one easy tactic was to collect email addresses from in-store customers by offering email receipts. This could be used to market to them, drive them to the online or physical store, and develop data to personalise marketing.

"You can also use your physical store advantage to combat Amazon’s convenient delivery service; there’s nothing more instant than walking in-store and walking out with what you want," he added.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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