On the keys to a good website
People have been talking about speed and accessibility for a long time. Framing it a different way, it’s [about] how to reduce friction from any experience. In e-commerce, we’re seeing a lot of products like Fast and Shoppay, where the ability to go from looking at something, to it being on its way, is down to one or two clicks. To a certain extent, that is happening in bricks-and-mortar with things like Apple Pay and Store IDs. At the moment, there’s huge growth in retailers implementing bits of technology that allow for transactions to happen rapidly.
On AR apps and other gimmicks
You can use augmented reality on your iPhone to see what a new laptop is going to look like on your desk, but what that means for conversions…my gut says it’s more of a gimmick than actually leading to meaningful growth. There’s a lot of experimentation happening with digital experiences and how retailers can leverage new technology, but it’s probably not the main reason people aren’t succeeding. As a general rule of thumb, if you’ve got a traditional retailer that’s struggling online, it’s not because they don’t have a 3D version of their site. In any kind of technology, the boring stuff is often the most fruitful endeavour.
On the biggest pitfalls of investing in digital
Sometimes people want [a digital experience] for the sake of it, rather than business planning. What are they actually measuring their success against? Having some reasoning behind these endeavours helps frame your strategy around acquisition, but sometimes people fall into the trap of following the herd.
The other big risk is using the wrong person, or trying to DIY it, and not knowing when to give up and start again. There are a lot of ways to get burnt [by] offshoring it, or going for the absolute cheapest cost you can find. Another common thing is when you say you need something so unique that nothing off-the-shelf will solve your problem.
That’s where you see platforms like WP Engine building e-commerce stacks where you can pre-select from existing bits, which narrows down the scope of things you can screw up. There’s a bunch of different stacks to go down, but if you’re going to do that, you want to know you’re working with critical pieces to the technology puzzle.
On relaunching the eBay Ads website
They’re a very B2B-driven business — they basically sell the data of eBay to advertisers. We were able to work with them on targeting and tailoring the user experience to different audiences by personalising things like case studies and specific data on the site. We built a whole bunch of custom stuff in the backend for them to tailor [their content] based on whether traffic is coming from Europe or APAC or wherever. If you’re an American visitor and there’s a case study about the success of The Good Guys, it’s not going to have any appeal because it’s a very Australian brand. Likewise, if you have an American brand that you are showing to an Australian audience.
On the blurring of the line between content and commerce
The general trend online is a sort of the blurring of the line between the world of content and traditional commerce, whether that’s bricks-and-mortar retail, e-commerce or any of the iterations in between, from direct-to-consumer to subscriptions.
A lot of people are starting to explore how they can have a deeper relationship with [their customers] other than just pushing sales down their throat where it becomes a very transactional relationship and doesn’t have that sort of tenure. A media company or anyone really who is giving away information, giving away resources, giving away content will own the attention of someone, which ultimately is the valuable bit.
On the next big play online
The direct-to-consumer relationship, that’s where the biggest disruption is happening. One of the greatest pathways [to success] is owning that relationship with an audience. We’re seeing the medium change, from the newspaper once upon a time, to the website, to social, to newsletters at the moment — whatever the secret sauce in the middle is, owning that relationship is a significantly more effective way of driving trust and credibility, which results in people being more likely to buy and also repurchase. That’s the big play.
I think a lot of traditional commerce and media companies haven’t grappled with [the fact that] someone can walk out of a major business, set up something that talks directly to an audience, scale that audience a little bit, and actually be quite a viable threat to a very large brand. Things that are bulletproof can actually be quite easily brought down.