Building a strong online presence in Australia holds enormous potential for both local and international businesses. Australia is one of the top 10 fastest growing and most robust eRetail markets by the measure of several top eCommerce analysts. Online sales in the country topped $266.8 billion in 2013-14, according to a report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and that number will only grow by double digits as mobile buying habits continue to escalate.
Nearly 80 per cent of Australian internet users will make purchases via a digital channel this year. By any measure, the market is primed for businesses with a smart eRetail strategy to make strong inroads. So, how do companies make the most of these promising trends?
Recent research has shown that Australian customers who shop online have a low tolerance for factors such as slow and unreliable websites – a characteristic that is echoed by users in other strong eRetail markets. Companies with a clear picture into their Internet Performance will be best able to provide consumers with the online experience they expect, and ensure they are a current and future buyer. Internet traffic patterns change frequently depending on the time of day, time of year, the type of device used and the location and ensuring each customer has the same experience is a top priority for businesses that want to be strong players in the space. Just three seconds delay can mean the difference between a loyal customer and a lost customer.
Following are four important factors to consider for entering and thriving in the Australian eCommerce space:
- Australia is a rural landscape – The Australian landscape and population distribution means the reliability and strength of the Internet infrastructure varies depending on your location. Due to the remoteness of many rural and regional residents, online shopping is popular among this demographic. Despite the rollout of the national broadband network and the government’s efforts to address mobile blackspots, complaints about poor mobile phone coverage from rural residents were a recurring theme in the most recent Australian Government Regional Telecommunications Review.
As a result of poor infrastructure, rural residents can spend thousands of dollars on aerials and repeaters whilst paying large amounts of money for internet plans with small usage allowances. This is why it is important for businesses to partner with an internet performance provider with the network and monitoring capabilities to quickly, efficiently and securely deliver data and meet the needs of rural and regional residents.
- Commerce is mobile –. A recent ACMA analysis on mobile transactions in Australia indicates that more than 3.4 million Australians use mCommerce services and according to findings from PayPal, 33 per cent of Australians have recently used a smartphone to make a purchase. This is in line with the global average, suggesting that even when shopping in brick and mortar stores, consumers are using their mobile devices to compare products, access product information and check product availability. At the same time, commerce is becoming more app-based. For example, Google’s recently unveiled ‘buy button’ will connect consumers to retailers’ apps, rather than their websites. The ‘buy button’ is also a key indicator that consumers are spending more time on their smartphones, driving the need for businesses to advance location-based technology.
You therefore need to create a seamless omnichannel experience to be sure all customers can easily browse and purchase goods via mobile or app. Consistency across all channels is vital to maintain customer engagement in the longer term. Browsing, purchasing and customer service needs to be as easy to do and find online as it is on mobile devices and in physical stores.
- Content isn’t local – For global businesses operating online, the ability to monitor, control and optimize the Internet experience to meet the needs of customers in real time is critical for revenue, reputation and customer retention. To ensure users’ experience is fast and uninterrupted, you need to ensure online content is hosted as close to users as possible. For example, Australian-based users don’t want to, nor do they expect to, experience high latencies when attempting to connect to US or European-based businesses.
Keeping performance consistent for online visitors, no matter where they are geographically located, is key to creating the best end-user experience possible. Geolocation load balancing helps ensure data takes the most direct route from cloud to user, based on their location. With a global network, users can expect to receive the same performance from the service whether they’re at home or travelling abroad.
- Doing business internationally – While consumers are willing to shop across international borders, Australia needs to be connected in the same manner as the rest of the world and provide the same level of user experience whether they are reaching local or international customers, in order to compete on a global scale. Driving customer loyalty starts from the first time your customer engages with your website. If your site is slow and inconsistent, you are most likely going to lose customers due to security concerns or outright frustration. Working with a managed DNS provider to specifically address this will help improve website performance and ensure global availability whenever customers want to shop.
About the author:
This article was written by Martin Ryan, VP & Managing Director Asia Pacific at Dyn, a cloud-based Internet Performance company. Dyn helps companies monitor, control, and optimize online infrastructure for an exceptional end-user experience.