Ecommerce website: Shipping & online retail systems in Australia. In this article we are talking about systems and platforms used. As we deal directly with thousands of ecommerce web developers and ecommerce website owners all over Australia we would like to share with you some of the ecommerce landscapes we are seeing in 2012.
There are winners and losers in the ecommerce war & over time we will see many bricks and mortar stores closing up the doors due to higher overheads and the competition from not just the international imports we will see increased competition from the domestic ecommerce website sector. Winners in the ecommerce website game in Australia will be the smart e-retailers who have their act together with a) the right domain name b) the right ERP or inventory system c) the right CMS platforms d) the right distribution network in place e) The right SEO in place to take the all the online systems to the next level.
We work closely with both large and small ecommerce site retailers and help them with their shipping. Take for instance today we met for the fourth time with one of Australia’s top bricks and mortar stores as they plan and get ready for their scaled ecommerce launch. We have already been nominated as the shipping system in the back end however we want to make sure all the ducks are in a row from an ERP or inventory perspective so when the scaled website is launched it is as successful as possible.
Let us talk about the above systems and how they link together. If you have the right mix of ingredients we believe it will make a sturdy ecommerce website business.
a) Find the right domain name: It’s a great idea to shop around for a good ecommerce website domain name. You would not believe how many top Australian domain names are still available. Search for key terms that your buyers would type and take advantage of really good tools out there like google key word tool or Traffic Travis both free tools you can utilise to find out what people are typing when looking for things in Google.
b) ERP systems (Inventory) for your ecommerce website: Depending on what your selling, if you have a store infrastructure in place or if you drop-ship large online stores require some type of inventory measurement tools to help them manage stock levels,build pick lists, create orders, allocate stock. The biggest challenge we find when we ask what inventory system is sometimes the ERP systems are very out dated and do not provide what is known as a web service call. A web service call means that the inventory system can talk to other systems. Many of our large ecommerce customers utilise systems such as SAP, or Navision to help streamline the stock levels. There are no right or wrong inventory systems.There are even industry specific ones especially for the fashion industry. What you should look for in an inventory system is the ability to talk to your other systems such as your Magento or Joomla shopping cart. Navision is a prime example of a system that can talk to Magento to push and pull data to help your store provide right information.
c) Finding the right CMS platform (Shopping cart) for your ecommerce website– Ok this is important. Get on the right CMS platform from the start that way when you build links and promote your business you don’t have to think about a complex change at a later date. We get many enquiries about WP or wordpress – fantastic for blogs and SEO and promoting your ecommerce website however not many Australian ecommerce business utilise the WordPress system for a very good reason….FEAR! It is a well-known fact in the industry that WP is easy to hack. It’s a great idea to use Word press however utilise it as a blog function not as the core shopping cart platform. Without a doubt the best ecommerce platform in Australia in 2012 is Magento. If you were lucky enough to attend the online retailer show in Sydney last Sept you probably noticed that Magento was the direction that most of the good web developers were taking. eBay is now heavily involved with Magento ( own the platform) as well making the pushing of products to and from very exciting “If you manage it correctly”. There are many different options for Magento from their hosted solution called Magento Go , right the way through to the community free edition that many freelancers will build on. The costs to have a magento site built can vary a fair bit. We have seen customers build on magento via places like odesk and freelancer.com for next to nothing. We have seen freelancers in Australia build for a few grand and we have seen proper Australian web agencies build some very nice sites. Our advice is your get what you pay for and depending on your budget it’s a good idea to shop around …then shop around some more. Be sure to look into all the ins and outs of the licencing of Magento. Just so you know we are not just all about Magento we can support all open source technology including Joomla, interspire, opencart, xcart however without a doubt all things are pointing the big Magento engine. There is also some very exciting products out there have a good look at xcommerce and the integration features.
d) Ecommerce Shipping and Distribution for your ecommerce website– That’s our part we specialise in ecommerce and online retail customers. We are a gateway between your website and the shipping systems. We are a multi carrier system that slots in nicely to the back end of your website. It’s not just a quote function that tells your customers what the shipping price is our system performs process improvement functions. Let’s go into a high level summary of our shipping system for ecommerce. It does not matter if you charge customers for shipping or you have a flat rate / free shipping at some time in the process someone has to pay for shipping. Our system makes it user friendly for the ecommerce website owner to log into the back end of their system and easily move between; free shipping, flat rate or charge the exact amount for delivery. We have even built in special fields where you can add either a dollar amount to the shipping or a mark-up as a percentage. The second part of our system is remarkable as when the item sells it will automatically be placed in a queue ready for you to process the order. This helps our ecommerce site sellers as there is no uploading for cutting and pasting information from system to system. All of the information is already sitting there waiting for the seller to simply log in view the sales and hit print and ship. That’s right we even provide you with a track-able shipping label for you to print out and attach ready for shipping. What a great timesaver this is for customers shipping a few things a day, right the way through to shipping thousands per day. When sellers hit ship and print our system will also work with the CMS platform to send an email to the buyer advising of the tracking number. As this is an automatic process it cuts down on any functions that were a human task in the past. Making shipping easy for ecommerce website owners.
e) SEO for ecommerce websites: SEO the boss of the online world. We love SEO and we help our integrated customers where we can. The main key to SEO is consistency and discovering new tools and toys to play with to self-improve. If you have the above five ingredients in your ecommerce business you will be off to a great start. It’s never too late to start an ecommerce business and the earlier you start the more leverage you will have in the marketplace. Old domains and older websites have much better traffic. Day in day out we work with developers building websites, ecommerce owners and we really get the feeling that 2012 will be another fantastic year for Australian ecommerce owners. However the next decade we will see more and more fantastic ideas and websites pop up. Talk to our shipping and ecommerce distribution team about ways we may be able to help integrate our API with your shopping cart.