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ARTICLE Business TipsMarch 17, 2016

Five lessons Australian online retailers can learn from Amazon


While the NAB Online Retail Sales Index reported domestic online retail sales grew by a healthy 1.2 per cent last year, it’s still crucial for Australian online retailers to keep their websites relevant and competitive in the global marketplace. And what better way to do that than by taking inspiration from Amazon – the world’s biggest retailer and poster child of exemplary web strategy and innovation.

Here we share five lessons Australian retailers can learn from Amazon. 

1. Power of personalisation

Three quarters of the top 50 e-commerce retailers in Australia don’t deliver tailored marketing content to existing or potential customers on their websites. They can take a leaf out of Amazon’s book in this area because no other company does personalisation as well as Amazon, according to a whopping 82 per cent of respondents in a survey conducted by BloomReach. The e-commerce giant segments its customer database and offers each individual customer a personalised customer experience through tailored content and relevant product recommendations.

2. Prioritise web functionality over design

For a majority of Australian e-retailers, creating a visually appealing website design is a priority, as revealed in a 2015 survey by CommBank. But a quick look at Amazon shows that a well-optimised website is much more than just pretty design. When it comes to website conversions, things such as easy-to-use interface, intuitive navigation and well-optimised product search, among others, have more impact. Ultimately it is essential that Australian online retailers create a balance between visual design and website usability if they want to improve their online sales.

3. Create relevant content

In the past few years, every possible industry has been impacted by the content revolution, and e-commerce is no exception. Amazon has pioneered the content game and boasts over a billion pages stored in Google’s index, all of which contribute to keyword ranking for search engines. Amazon has been able to achieve this by encouraging its customers to submit product reviews, which increase content on each product page and, in the process, improve page rank. Australian retailers can also incentivise their customers to review their products, share feedback and improve page content. 

4. Innovation

From developing drones for 30-minute delivery to revolutionising the publishing industry with Kindle Direct Publishing, Amazon is leading the charge in innovation. Australian online retailers can observe and learn from Amazon the importance of continuous innovation to stay relevant in today’s fast-changing marketplace. This is especially important because Australian retailers are significantly lagging behind in innovation when compared to their Asia–Pacific counterparts, according to CPA Australia’s Asia–Pacific Small Business Survey 2015.

5. Free shipping

Free shipping is the most effective way to generate customer satisfaction, according to a survey of more than 400 Australian retailers by Australian Retailers Association (ARA). But how can Australian retailers offer free shipping without incurring massive losses? Amazon primarily does this in two ways. First, it offers a minimum purchase threshold, which encourages customers to buy more products to take advantage of free shipping. Second – and the most effective method – is Amazon Prime, an annual subscription service of $99, where customers qualify for free two-day shipping on most purchases and pay no shipping charge when they order small items weighing less than 8 ounces.

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