All small, medium and large businesses have one thing in common: they require customers and sales to remain in business. With consumer buying behaviours changing so rapidly, it’s no surprise that eCommerce makes news headlines on a regular basis and how it is shaping the Australian Retail and business landscape. You need go no further than look at the current impact that the launch of Amazon Online Shopping in Australia is having on both Woolworth and Coles’ share price.
So what are the facts that we know so far about consumers and their habits online? According to a report by eMarketer:
- Projected growth of online sales has been estimated to reach 32.56Bn by 2017, a YOY growth of 21.62%
- According to Nielsen, 82% of Australians were online at least once a day at the end of 2013
- 50.3% of Australians shop online, and 32% spent more time shopping online than in-store
- Google’s Consumer Barometer have Australians at one of the highest connected levels in the world with an average of 3.1 devices per person
- The social commerce market in Australia had an estimated value of AU $ 300M, with 57.4% of the population utilising Facebook
If you are a business selling directly to consumers then questions that should come to mind are, “What is your online sales strategy?” “What is your social strategy?” and “How are you connecting the two together with technology to automate and simplify?”
Connecting Social and eCommerce
To answer these questions, I have taken the opportunity to interview a newly established brick and mortar business in the fitness industry. My aim was to understand how they made an immediate mark by utilising social media to grow branding and exposure on online, and how they successfully connected their social media to eCommerce and converted potential prospects into paying customers without any human interaction.
In 2000, CrossFit was launched by founder Greg Glassman growing from the 1st CrossFit Affiliate to now over 13,000 globally, according to LA Weekly. Cobi Head, a Non-Comissioned Officer in the Australian Army and a Personal Training Instructor, joined this community in 2009, driven by a passion to work in something that he felt could change lives for the better. Cobi and his partner, De-Anna, moved up to Darwin, Northern Territory 18 months ago and since that time, Cobi decided to start his own CrossFit gym called CrossFit Abode which officially opened in July of this year.
Cobi’s primary concern, like any small business start-up owner, was how to build a client base which ultimately builds revenue for its business. Through previous experiences in the CrossFit community, Cobi had developed a knowledge of how to create a successful online following. The ultimate goal, however, was to create a following that could be turned into new customers.
Turning to Automation and Customisation
The first step for Cobi was to create an online platform that linked social media to eCommerce automatically so that no human interaction was required in this process. Cobi worked with Zenplanner to build an integration of his online social, eCommerce and website platforms so they could automatically link with each other for seamless Point of Sale from end to end. With this integration he begun targeting specific demographics with social campaigns, which link in directly with the eCommerce. Cobi gave the example:
“We can run a posted post or ad campaign on social media, which links into our integrated website and straight to signing up, filling out electronic waivers and booking appointments and even sales.”
None of this sales process requires any human interaction whatsoever.
Tracking Spend and Conversions
For Cobi, measurement of what works and what does not is critical. When it comes to marketing, many small businesses spend $1,000’s per year on marketing advertisements such as the yellow or white pages, radio or TV, but have no fundamental understanding of how those marketing dollars were converted, if at all. When asked on how much Abode spent in boosting, or adding budget to, Facebook posts and if he saw it as a successful tactic, Cobi said:
“At the moment we are spending approximately $100 a week boosting posts. Posts that highlight our niche, such as the facility, the community, the programming, I will generally boost.”
Cobi has social media leads tracked via the analytical tool integrated between Facebook and ZenPlanner. This then gives the power of reporting detailed information on where the prospect found out about Abode.
“Facebook also have their own analytics, where at the end of the campaign, a report is sent out detailing click throughs, reach etc. From these two pieces of data, I make a determination whether to run again, alter the ad to make it more successful, or stop it and try something new.”
Seeing the Benefits of This Strategy
Since launching the Abode Facebook Page and eCommerce integration on April 28th, two months prior to the opening of the gym, Abode has turned nearly 15% of of its page likes in 142 prospects, of which 101 are now current members. 16 have completed a free trial and are in the process of booking in their first session, 18 have their free trial session booked in over the next seven days and the remainder are prospects that do not fit into the above categories (drop ins, holidays, nil returns).
“The Social and eCommerce integration has saved countless hours of trying to ‘sell’ memberships to people over the phone, and in this day and age, people would rather just search for the information on a website, and make their own decision without feeling ‘pushed’ into it.”
For Cobi’s business, eCommerce has become the primary generator of new customers. From this story we can see how important planning and thinking through systems and process can be, and that if performed and measured correctly can yield great results over and over again.
Some Final Thoughts
The eCommerce market is growing rapidly, and customers buying behaviours are changing rapidly along with it. All businesses today, if not doing so already, must start including social and online eCommerce as part of their strategy for today and the future. As I was thinking upon my last story around the demise of Blockbuster and their failings to acknowledge and adjust to a changing landscape, one of Cobi’s statements came to mind and reinforced why innovation and adjusting to the market is always required:
Today’s status quo does not guarantee you will be in business tomorrow.