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Small businesses missing out online

E-commerce concept. Colourful paper striped shopping bags on laptop keyboard.

Location, location, location. While once the buzzword for retailers, today traditional bricks and mortar retailers face increasing pressure from online businesses. Fuelled by consumers reliance on smartphones, tablets and social media, consumers buying and research habits have been driven online with e-commerce sales expected to top $10 billion in Australia in 2015.

Retailers, like their customers have been quick to embrace internet access which is now ubiquitous across Australia, yet retail web presence is absent in a staggering amount of small-medium retail with more than half having no online website. This web presence is even more crucial if we consider that according to Deloitte 65% of Australians now research their purchasing options online before going to a physical store or shopping centres. Businesses need to first and foremost ensure that they have a responsive website and a digital presence in order to make the most of this changing consumer behaviour.

Without this digital presence, not only do these businesses miss out on this dramatic shift in consumer habits, they’re also unable to target and engage potential customers through digital marketing often relying on older, harder to measure and less targeted methods. Digital marketing is a rapidly growing force which is not only faster, but more versatile, targeted and streamlined and accountable. Being able to reach these digitally savvy customers at the beginning of their decision making process, means businesses need to develop and enhance their digital presence to convert today’s ever-growing digital shopper.

Getting started requires businesses to know and understand its customer base in order to tap into and secure new revenue streams. The below three steps are the starting point to success:

1. Know your customers

Knowing who your customers and potential customers are, how they want to engage with your business and how and when they want to hear about the goods/services/promotions you offer is a critical part of any digital marketing strategy. Understand where are they searching for your goods and services, whether it’s online, offline or on mobile. It is important to examine your customer’s buying journey across all your mediums and then build a digital marketing strategy to suit this. A great deal of research is available online and can be broken down by industry, so business owners can easily find out more about their customers than any previous generation.

2. Think mobile-first

Whether it be researching products and deals while in-store, or completing the whole customer journey on mobile, m-commerce is now a vital part of the shopping experience. According to Google, mobile searches has already overtaken desktop in a number of countries. Mobile can no longer be an afterthought or a luxury, it needs to be at the centre of all strategies and decisions. Starting with a mobile responsive website and even a simple app with relevant content can open up the doorway to a whole new customer base and effective engagement strategy.

3. Listen to your customers

The more customers interact with companies through digital means, the more knowledge a business can capture from them. There is a wealth of knowledge available to business decision-makers that hasn’t been available in the past and customers are becoming increasingly used to deals that fit their needs and are specific to them based on their past shopping history. Businesses can gain keen insights into how to personalise data and content to the needs of the customer by analysing the data customer’s create. Being among the first to make the most of these insights will undoubtedly lead to rich rewards for early movers.

While it may sound complicated to analyse your customer’s data, in reality it just involves implementing a simple piece of software or a reporting tool that will show you how your customers are finding your business (offline and online), where they are, what else they search for, what they are looking at, how long they are looking at it – and that’s just for starters. This information can be used to tailor products and offers to suit your specific customers, increasing the conversion rates of your business. Providing relevant and regularly updated content to

It’s time for Australian businesses to embrace the mobile and online revolution with a mobile responsive website and clear digital strategy or they risk falling behind savvy competitors who may not even be in your own backyard. While it may seem like a daunting journey, it is actually easier to do than you might think and there are many providers available to help you along your journey. The online world doesn’t stand still, so moving quickly has never been more important. You may asked, “Can I still catch up and overtake my competition?” Yes you can and for those that do, it has the potential to transform their business and open it up to new revenue streams and markets.

About the author:

This article was written by Steve Traplin, General Manager at Search Optics Australia