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More Profitable Online Retailing

Tuesday 2nd March was an exciting day for Further as we hosted our first e-com seminar at the Forum in Norwich.



Big Glass building is Big – Credit Gerry balding

We had a great turnout as 80 people managed to get up at an ungodly hour and get themselves to the seminar by 7.30. After a short mingling time with tea, coffee and a morning wake-up bacon roll, Rob and Mark gave their presentations.

For those of you who weren’t there or didn’t take notes (we did provide paper and bio-degradable pencils) here’s a recap of Rob’s brilliant talk.

Rob talked about the usefulness of e-commerce for your business and how the UK has the most active online population in Europe. In fact, e-com sales in the UK alone have grown from £1.8 billion in 2001 to an estimated £56 billion in 2010! (Source: IMRG, 2010)

E-com growth is growing extremely rapidly, with Internet connectivity now becoming more of a necessity than a luxury. While at the moment, for every £10 spent, £1 is spent online, by 2020 it will change to being every £1 in £5. (Source: CRR/Kelkoo, Jan 2010 & Verdict, December 2009)

Going E-com (Effectively)

The emphasis of the talk was that “trying the Internet thing” with your website isn’t enough. What many companies do is create a website but then find out that there’s no traffic so decide to “bolt on” marketing to the site. Once they find that there’s still not much traffic coming into the site, they start to panic and the cycle repeats again. The website needs to be made with marketing in mind, and not as two separate things.

A sound plan before moving online is needed, and Rob illustrated what the acronym S.M.A.R.T:


The plan needs to be well defined and clear to anyone who’s working on the project. So, just saying “I wanna make more money” is vague but planning to grow the business by 30% by the end of the year is much more specific and provides a much more solid outline.


Goals need to be quantifiable. Aiming to capture 10% of the market share is a lot more measurable than just stating you want your company to be the “best in the industry”.


“Aim for the sky, but not too high” – Peter Chu (I made that up just now). While it’s good to aim high, the goal still needs to be achievable. So, if saying you want to sell 30,000 luxury yachts sounds audacious, that’s because it is since there are around that number of luxury yachts in the whole world. Rather, aiming to sell 3000 boat holidays within the next year is more grounded.


The goal needs to be within your company’s capabilities. Doubling your profits in two years is realistic, while aiming to be the next eBay is not.

Time based

The goals need to have the correct time frame laid out. Too short and a rushed project will be inadequate. Too much time and you incur more costs than necessary.

Know your enem.. er customer

In every marketing endeavour, it is important to know your customer. Performing customer surveys is the best way to do this. Survey Monkey is a good platform for providing surveys on your site.

Social Media – People love to talk, and with the Internet making it so easy nowaways, people are talking more than ever now. Platforms like Twitter are a good way to see what people are saying about your brand or even your industry.




Twitter: Find out what others are saying about you

Analytics – Analyze yourself. No, I don’t mean selling all your possessions and commencing tutelage under a religious guru in India. You can use Google Analytics to see what pages are most popular on your site and what navigation paths users take through your site. This can offer a lot of insight into what users are looking for when they visit your site.

Personas – Rob talked about making customer personas. These are profiles of what most of your customers are. You can use these to identify the correct demographics for user testing and customer research and you can see if the design and functionality of your website meets what the customer wants. You can identify any technological constraints your target demographic has (are they tech savvy? Are they desktop or mobile web users?). Also, additional marketing channels and opportunities can be gleaned from this.

For example, if a large proportion of your customers are university students who use the iPhone browser then your website should be a) geared towards students and b) be easy to browse on the iPhone.


A good strategy for launching your website and marketing campaign should start off with defining where you “are now” and comparing that with where you “want to be”. Data from your customer personas should be used to define your target market, then lay out your objectives and KPIs. How your website will meet these objectives needs to be defined. Then, plan out what content the new website will need followed by tailoring the tone/feel of the website to match your customers. For example, a search for “pogo sticks” in the Google keyword tool will yield among other search phrases “pogo sticks for kids”, “pogo sticks for adults” and “extreme pogo sticks”. You now can tailor your website’s content around these keyterms with sections for kids, adults and the “extreme pogoist”.

The words on the site aren’t the only thing you have to think about though. People are visual animals so design plays a big part. Rob explained how the garishly designed Lings Cars actually works because of the target demographic whereas Richardson’s Boating Holidays is designed in that way to reflect what people are looking for.



lingscars – Gaudy but Effective

Mobile web – Mobile web was briefly touched upon with Rob emphasising optimising your site for mobile users. Compact , ordered, formatting designed for mobiles ensures that you do not miss out on a decent chunk of conversions.

Trust – Every shopper wants to know as much about the product he/she is buying before purchasing it. That’s why good images and detailed descriptions on the site are essential to enticing potential customers to buy from you. This increase trust which in turn leads to converisons.

Conversions – Rob finished off the talk with how important conversion rate optimisation (CRO) was. By increasing the rate at which visitors turn into buyers, you increase revenue without the need to drive more traffic to your site. This is useful the more mature your SEO campaign gets and chasing those coveted 1st place rankings get harder.




CRO: The art of getting an upwards arrow without additional marketing spend. Credit:

This is where user testing comes into play which involves experimenting with the design of your website, changing wording or placement of calls to action. While many companies will be apprehensive about the potential revenue while experimenting, if you figure out how to increase revenue by 20% without any additional traffic, you can use this for the lifetime of your site.

Well folks, that’s a summary of Rob’s presentation. Wes will follow on next week with a summary of Mark’s.

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  • Phil Kehoe / 6 years ago

    Lings Cars is a competitor of ours and whilst many criticise their site design it is undeniably effective.

    Anyhow, we're in the process of launching a site 'facelift' ourselves and enjoyed the article, it was thought-provoking.

    Kind regards

    DSG Auto Contracts

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