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Amazon Coming to Australia

By | Announcements, Automotive, Blog | No Comments
Amazon fish

Image by Frits Ahlefeldt

*Since posting this blog, The Age has amended the original article, that the quoted Amazon source was NOT a current Amazon employee and did not speak for the company. Further to this, Amazon made an official announcement on 20th April and the news is now reflected on the Amazon Australia web site. 

The speculation is over with an Amazon executive confirming to Fairfax media that the company plans to be fully operational in Australia by the end of 2018.

“Australians will be able to buy everything from takeaway and groceries to electronics and clothing from Amazon’s greatly expanded online offering by the end of next year.“ Quotes The Age March 29th 2017

The Australian retail community has been abuzz with the news that Amazon is coming to invade Australia with no official confirmation until now. Amazon has been reported as scoping out warehousing sites, and hiring local logistics people needed for a successful local ecommerce operation. But, the smart money backed a minimum of 12 month’s lead time once they broke cover with real estate, logistics and once local agreements were entered in to.

So what does this mean for Australia, retailing and the auto parts market in particular?

In the U.S., Amazon has been accused of “destroying traditional retailers” according to the Financial Review. Steve Odland, a former AutoZone chief executive interviewed for the article said that traditional bricks and mortar retailers were heading for a “slow moving train wreck” with wide ranging knock-on effects to things like commercial real estate as Amazon accelerates the shift to online.

More on that later but first some local history.

Before, Amazon was content sending products direct to Australian consumers through couriers and soft service delivery. In 2016, some analysts predicted Amazon would set up shop here prior to 1st July 2017 and in time for changes to the GST (goods and services tax) being applied to imported goods below a $1000 threshold. By February this year, analysts had set back the rumored invasion to September 2017. The rumor mill gathered pace through early 2017 and we now have a concrete answer but what will the new Amazon Australia service offering entail?

And the stakes are high.

According to the same article, Australia’s retail sector is worth around $222 billion. Based on overseas experience, Amazon can undercut conventional retail prices by as much as 30 percent, enabling it to carve as much as $3.5 to $4 billion out of the Australian retail sector over the next five years according to a Sydney Morning Herald piece. This would equate to 14 percent of all local online spending and 1.1 percent of total Australian retail spending.

Bigger fish in the pond

Most think Australian retailers are still unprepared. In an ABC News interview John McDuling, associate editor at the Australian Financial Review, says local retailers have been operating for years on an “oligopoly economy” business model “in every sort of market segment” – one or two big players with a network of physical retail stores and supply chains around the country and the biggest profit margins in the world. Faced with Amazon’s business model: minimal physical stores, very advanced supply chains, and a focus on keeping prices low – only a few may be able to keep up. Australian online retailer conversion rates are less than 10 percent vs Amazon’s U.S. site converting 49 percent of Australian shoppers to date.

Young Australians welcome Amazon

A recent Neilsen survey shows young Australians are particularly interested in having a wider range of products that are cheaper and delivered faster. According to Neilsen’s January 2017 study:

“75% of Australians aged 18+ saying they are interested in Amazon Australia; while 56% say they are likely to purchase from its Australian site; and 45% saying they would pay to become an Amazon Prime member to receive special deals, discounts and delivery perks.”

Those surveyed showed that they would most likely buy (in decreasing order) electronic goods, books, clothes, shoes, music, and videos from Amazon Australia. Amazon Prime (a free and fast delivery subscription for $US100 per year) tends to make people spend more. Food was of least interest, according to the respondents (only a few were aware of Amazon Now, for delivering groceries under an hour).

No auto parts were mentioned in the study but clearer younger shoppers and consumers are voting with their wallets, driving the change which will pick up pace with Amazon’s arrival regardless of sector.

Will Amazon Australia do auto parts?

We’re not sure but if they do, the US experience provides some clues as to what might happen here.

In January 2017, Amazon US announced it had set its sights on the US$50 billion do-it-yourself after-market auto parts business. As a result, shares of auto parts retailers in the U.S. fell sharply with Autozone Inc, seeing a 5.1 percent slump in one day.

According to one Wall Street analyst, Amazon’s auto parts business could expand by as much as 50% in the first year. A simple, quoted example to illustrate why.

Dorman 902-407 auxiliary water pump currently costs (US)$90.70 on Amazon and the same part costs (US)$124.99 on AutoZone’s website.

Dorman-Auto

Amazon has been able to achieve this because other parts retailers are focusing on obtaining deals with foreign, private-label part manufacturers. This makes the parts retailers more profitable, but not the local part manufacturers.

An executive at an auto parts manufacturer even said that this reduced the loyalty of the manufacturers to these chain retailers.

Meanwhile, Amazon is paying US auto parts manufacturers up to 30 per cent more for their products on a direct purchase and supply.

Its claimed that Amazon has already reached the ‘tipping point’ to dislodge U.S. auto parts giants like O’Reilly Auto Parts and Genuine Auto Parts from their hold of the U.S. auto parts market.  The same article quotes that “Amazon has struck supply contracts with some of the largest parts makers including Federal-Mogul Holdings Corp (NASDAQ: FDML), Dorman Products Inc, Robert Bosch GmbH and Cardone Industries Inc, NY Post reported on Sunday, citing sources. (http://nyp.st/2k8Ibhq)”

“The majority of us now are selling directly to Amazon.” Said one auto parts executive.

And the changes aren’t just aimed at retail and e-commerce. By September last year, Amazon started offering same-day auto parts delivery in 40 U.S. cities, at prices averaging 23 percent less than other aftermarket auto parts retailers (according to investment banking firm Jefferies LLC). This makes Amazon more attractive for workshops and trade customers too.

Meanwhile, in November last year, Amazon also started selling select Fiat Chrysler cars in Italy. This could be a clue to further disruption moving in to the new car retailing area as well.

How can sellers compete with Amazon?

“Adapt and adapt quickly”, says retail king Gerry Harvey of retail giant Harvey Norman, in the same ABC News interview previously mentioned. Also in that interview, Brad Stone, Bloomberg correspondent and author of The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon says that, in North America, retailers that have successfully survived Amazon’s onslaught (like Nordstrom) have great customer service, generous return policy, personal shopping guides – something that, by nature, Amazon cannot compete with.

Instead of fighting it out on price and range of selection, “you might get them [Amazon] on convenience, because it still does takes two days, or maybe a day, for something to appear on your doorstep”, Stone says.

With auto parts, some workshops and trade customers are spoilt with virtual “on-demand” deliveries from a variety of providers. But, is it too far-fetched to imagine an Amazon drone delivering a fuel filter on to the workshop forecourt?

Amazon will not go unchallenged

Just earlier this year, Alibaba set up its Australia & New Zealand headquarters in Melbourne. Alibaba’s ANZ director, Maggie Zhou, has been quoted as saying their goal is “to build the entire operating infrastructure needed to enable local businesses to expand globally” – competing with the advantages offered by Amazon to local manufacturers in terms of logistics, cloud computing and more.

Amazon may also be facing a threat from within. McDuling says Amazon has been criticised heavily for the grueling conditions in their warehouses … and, in Australia … we have stricter protections on things like that … we have a different attitude on issues on workplace laws and overtime pay”.

A time of great change nonetheless

The move toward online retail and e-commerce in general is growing at over 10 percent per annum and Amazon’s entrance on the Aussie stage will accelerate that further as it makes it easier for consumers to buy online.

Based on above, DIY auto parts customers are enjoying greater choice of brands and online sellers with evidence that garages and trade customers are using these options more for non-time critical purchases. This is a predictable change happening across all sectors.

However, the biggest disruption in the auto parts space relates to logistics, supply chain and distribution relationships. The U.S. experience suggests there are opportunities for brands to establish strong links with online sellers that might re-energise a more traditional brand focus partnership model.

Value-adding becomes even more important with efficient and streamlined operations having an edge over traditional models.

These changes continue to underline the importance of data and standards. All the major online retailers and channels use ACES/PIES for North America and TecDoc for other markets like Europe and Australia.

Good data also means quality images, rich content, enhanced meta data and meaningful text and materiel that is properly catalogued and presented for display, publishing and search indexing.

Fundamentally, good data increasingly means good visibility for you and your business.

Talk to Enform about our solutions for good data and e-commerce deployment.

 

Six SEO Tips for 2016

By | Blog, SEO, Social Media | No Comments

SEO Tips

With the very fast and frequent changes in Google’s search algorithms doing SEO is not what it used to be. What were cardinal rules for basic SEO a few years ago barely remain effective today for getting your website to the first page of a Google search, much less to the top of the results. Since the rules have changed, how you do SEO should change too.

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Grow Your eCommerce and Digital Capability At a Fraction Of The Cost

By | Adwords, Blog, BPO, eBay, ecommerce, Outsourcing, SEO, Web Store | No Comments

                       Outsource 1

As more  companies plan to grow their capability in the eCommerce space to satisfy the insatiable demands of their customers for online research and purchase, many small to medium businesses are struggling with the skill-sets and costs required to hire new, or train existing staff, to manage this strategy extension.

In particular, auto parts and fitment stuff can be very tricky but we can help with any complex data sets Read More

Content Is Still King

By | Blog, Comment | No Comments

 

Content is king Sep 2015

”The Greatest Picture of a Goat I’ve Ever” by Postmemes.com

 

 

Gone are the days when you could rank in a Google search by just making sure all the relevant keywords in your web pages’ metadata (titles, descriptions, and a certain percentage in your body text) and with average quality content. Now, with Google’s Quality (aka “Phantom”) Update  (in May of this year), websites can no longer get away with ranking in Google just by using basic SEO tricks. Your sites got to have quality content.

 And the criteria are …

Neil Patel, of Quick Sprout fame, lists 5 Ways to Create Content That Google Wants to Rank. As a checklist, these 5 points are:

  1. Is your content long and in-depth?
  2. Is your content clear, simple, and actionable?
  3. Is your content user-friendly and readable?
  4. Is your content backed up with expert opinions and statistics?
  5. Does your content give readers multiple options?

Of course, following this checklist, Patel’s article runs to about 4,180 words and is loaded with lots of easy to understand infographics, screenshots, entertaining and relevant anecdotes and Internet marketing advice – all presented in Neil Patel’s friendly writing style (go to the Quick Sprout page to read it).

These five tips are, of course, the hallmarks of high quality content – except probably the fifth point, which is just needed when your content, no matter how high quality, becomes too huge to handle without the help of simplifying filters – which are just a way to help limit what part of the content a visitor sees so the website becomes more useful.

But these points are easier said than done. What Neil Patel describes with his five points to great content are the characteristics that make content (blog post, webcast, video, tweet, infographic, etc.) viral – massively and rapidly consumed (read, viewed, or listened to) and shared.

These five points are a tough challenge to every content writer. It’s no coincidence that Neil Patel also wrote 9 Habits great content writers should develop in themselves – because you won’t easily be able to write long, in-depth, clear, simple, actionable, user-friendly, fact-and-data-rich articles if you don’t have what it takes to write great content.

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eBay Changes Listing Rules For Product Identifiers from 1st July

By | Announcements, Automotive, Blog, Comment, ecommerce, Research, SEO | No Comments

ebay_logo

eBay Australia is changing the listing rules for product identifiers in key categories including auto parts. 

As PARts Australia say – “Ignore it and you may pay a penalty in poor ranking. Embrace it and you may leap ahead of your competition.”

Increasing the accuracy of listing information is an important part of eBay ongoing work to improve the marketplace experience for all users.

That’s why, starting 30 June this year, all new listings of branded items in New and Manufacturer refurbished condition will be required to include product identifiers including the item’s brand, manufacturer part number (MPN), and global trade item numbers (GTINs) such as Universal Product Codes (UPCs) and International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs) in select categories.

eBay uses these product identifiers to help buyers quickly find the items they’re looking for. When you’re selling, including these product identifiers not only has the potential to increase your items’ visibility in eBay search results and navigation, it can improve your placement in search engines like Google and Bing, too.

Read more about the eBay new policy and how important it is for eBay sellers and in particular, those selling branded auto parts.

Power Retail Talks to MotoParts About Auto Parts E-tailing

By | Automotive, Blog, ecommerce, Industry, Research, Web Design, Web Store | No Comments
MotoParts-266x266

Selling automotive parts online has proved challenging for MotoParts, but developing a parts-centric approach has helped the company progress. Power Retail chats to MotoParts’ Scott Shillinglaw to find out more.

With a long history in the B2B commerce space supplying wholesale auto parts throughout NSW and Australia, MotoParts decided to launch into a completely new sales channel to leverage their existing business model. As one of the largest online marketplaces, eBay was the obvious choice for MotoParts to start their online presence and drive a whole new section of growth for the business.

This decision was prompted by the rapid growth of the Australian online automotive parts sales industry (estimated to be worth $380.3 million in 2014-2015 and growing annually at a compounded rate of 17 percent) centred on New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland – areas that have the highest number of kilometres driven.

Power Retail magazine caught up with Scott Shillinglaw, Online Director for MotoParts, to see how the transition came about and how they used PARts Australia for data and technology.

Read more about MotoParts’ Parts-Centric Approach using PARts.

MotoParts Dives into eBay with an E-commerce Solution

By | Automotive, Blog, Comment, ecommerce, Research, tools | No Comments

MotoParts on eBayRecognized as one of Australia’s top distributors of automotive parts and car accessories, MotoParts boasts of a colourful history in the B2B segment of the market, offering wholesale auto parts throughout NSW and Australia.

In an effort to leverage their current business model, the company decided to dive into a new sales channel, opening a new section of potential growth for the business. As one of the world’s largest marketplaces on the Internet, it made sense for the company to jumpstart their online presence on eBay, this according to MotoParts online director Scott Shillinglaw.

The Need for an E-commerce Solution

To launch a new online sales channel on eBay, MotoParts needed a comprehensive e-commerce solution capable of handling hundreds to thousands of product listings—a solution that could keep up with MotoParts surging online business.

According to Shillinglaw, MotoParts required a robust e-commerce solution that could help manage product feeds, with the additional feature of transforming product data and making it ready for eBay listing. Moreover, the solution had to mesh with the company’s ERP system, in particular, product, pricing, and inventory data, together with eBay and MotoParts’s e-commerce website.

The challenge with automotive parts suppliers is that the complexity and sheer volume of product parts information makes it difficult to find a working e-commerce solution—one that could withstand the impending massive increase in automobile models and corresponding parts within the next few years.

Shillinglaw said that MotoParts needed their e-commerce data to be in a coherent format, allowing their e-commerce managers to list products on eBay by part and vehicle compatibility, all in such a way that entices customers to make a purchase. If the product isn’t presented in a compelling manner, it won’t lead to sales, he adds.

A PARts Driven Solution

MotoParts turned to an e-commerce solution recommended by PARts, an online solution Enform is certified to provide.

With the new e-commerce solution, MotoParts was able to automate and integrate all their product data into one easy-to-access database, through a tool specifically designed for automotive parts content.

MotoParts can now manage and access their product data in one centralised solution, with orders placed on eBay extracted and standardized into a singular format—integrated with the company’s own ERP system. And you can read more about how MotoParts went online profitably with PARts.

MotoParts eBay Listing

Benefits

After just a few months of using the PARts-recommended e-commerce solution to open a new sales channel on eBay, MotoParts saw a surge in total revenue by at least 5 percent. The complete MotoParts e-commerce solution was also fully functional in just a few months. The company also saw a drastic reduction in resource time and IT expenditures.

But more importantly, the addition of a solid e-commerce solution into the company’s business foundation means they can now open as many online sales channels as they want, with very little work required.

You can read more about PARts and auto data opportunities here

Enform Automailer Rolls Out Email Automation

By | Announcements, Automailer, Blog, eDM, tools | No Comments
Enform Automailer Rolls Out Email Automation
Enform are excited to unveil a new update to our Automailer program! First things first.
We are officially rolling out Email Automation to all of our Automailer users. We’ve long incorporated Autoresponders into our email direct marketing client, but this time, we’re adding more features and turning it into a core feature of the application.
Automailer’s new Automation feature allows users to build workflows to send their email message to the right person, at exactly the right time. You can now automate emails according to specific factors, such as a user joining your email list, a specific time and date, an anniversary of a particular date (like an annual promotion), updates on your blog or website, and much more.
When logging in to Automailer after the update, you’ll see the new tab for the feature, as well as a welcome message bringing you up to speed on the features and controls to automate your emails. We at Enform are really excited about this new feature since it’s a big step towards answering our customers’ requests for more comprehensive email automaton features.
While waiting for the new Automailer Automation feature, we’ve put together a list of FAQs, paired with their corresponding answers.
Frequently Asked Questions
When will Automation be Available?
The product will be out very soon. We will only release the feature only when it’s completely perfect.
How are Automation and Autoresponders Different?
This update takes the great functionality of RSS-to-email and Autoresponder, combining them under the new Automation. If you’ve built previous workflows on RSS-to-email or autoresponders, you will find all these will still work in Automation—you can continue to make more similar workflows after the update.
What’s unique about the RSS to email functionality?
Although all future RSS-to-email campaigns will be done using the Automation tab, the way users create campaigns will still be the same. We’ve only made it more convenient for you to created automation workflows, bringing them together in one single feature and location.
Not familiar with our Automailer eDM solution and want to find out more call us 02 8999 1900 or click here to contact us.

Google Search – Is Your Website Mobilegeddon Ready?

By | Blog, Comment, ecommerce, Mobile, Research, SEO, tools | No Comments

Google Algorithm Update

Come 21st of April, Google will roll out its new “Mobile Friendly” algorithm update which will preference search results for web sites that are mobile friendly.

For your websites, this simply means you’ll get left out in mobile search results unless your website is deemed by Google bots to be mobile friendly.

But wait!

How should you know if my site is ready for mobilegeddon? Fortunately Google, being Google, has already foreseen the outcry of website owners if they opted to bring their algorithm guessing game to such an important update so they’ve actually rolled out more than enough tools to help you prepare for this big day.

Without further delay, here are the tools and information you’ll need to be able to do a self-diagnosis of your site in preparation for mobilegeddon:

  1. Mobile-Friendly Test – just simply put in your website URL and hit analyze and you’ll know within seconds if your site is up to speed. Hopefully you’ll get a result like so:Mobile-Friendly Test
  2. Google Webmaster Tools Mobile Usability Report – This is another tool that will help webmasters identify elements of your website that does not fit Google’s mobile friendly standards, because it could be that some NOT ALL your pages have problems. Errors here should be addressed if you want to keep up on mobile search results.Here’s an example result for good measure:Mobile Usability
  3. Mobile Friendly Guidelines – In the case you’ll find yourself in the undesirable side of this update, after using the previously mentioned tools, fret not as here’s all you need to be able to get back in the good light of Google mobile search results.

Remember, this is not just about penalties but also about rewards. A more mobile friendly web site will be rewarded as much as a non-mobile site is penalised.

And as always, if you need help in keeping up with all these changes, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us any time.

Google Looking to Rank Websites by Facts Instead of Links

By | Blog, Research, SEO | No Comments
google
Photo Credit: Wired.com
It’s no secret that the Internet, while an incredible source of information about pretty much anything, is also filled to the brim with garbage. Anti-vaccination websites making dubious claims backed by anecdotes are on the front page of Google’s search engine results pages, and sites claiming to “news sources” are everywhere, gathering a substantial audience despite citing very few facts.
In response to this problem, Google is considering a new algorithm that grades the trustworthiness of a website or page, considering this factor when ranking it for a particular keyword. In other words, the search giant is looking at grading sites by facts, and not just links.
The Problem with the Status Quo
When you want accurate information about something, you might have read about, or heard of, what do you do? The library used to be the safest choice, as most books that made their way there often had to meet stringent standards for factuality and accuracy.
These days though, people are more likely to Google their questions.
However, just because Google leads you to what it thinks are the answers to your questions, doesn’t mean they’re the right answers. And the problem is more prevalent than you think, as Google currently factors in the number of incoming links a web page has, using it as the basis for quality and ranking on its search results. Simply put, the more sites linking to a webpage, the higher Google ranks it.
But Google’s current search engine is far from perfect, with many websites having little to no facts at all managing to rise up the rankings. After all, just because several people are linking to website, thinking the information found there is valuable, doesn’t mean the information is based on facts. Case in point: gossip websites and their loose definition of facts.
The Solution
To avoid this rampant hijacking of real estate on search engine results, a team of Google researchers has created what it calls a “Knowledge-based Trust” algorithm that uses factual accuracy to rank websites instead of popularity. The challenge to making the algorithm work, is figuring out what information on a website is factual, and what isn’t.
How it Works
The system, which is still in the experimental stage, computes the number of inaccurate facts in a single web page, with a source having few inaccurate facts seen as more trustworthy. This computation results in what the team calls a Knowledge-Based Trust score. To make the algorithm work, the team uses Google’s proprietary Knowledge Vault, a massive vault of facts collected from the Internet.
The Knowledge Vault works by sniffing for information that matches a pattern Google calls “triples,” which meet the following 3 factors:
  • A subject that’s a real-world entity
  • A description of some characteristic of said entity
  • An object that shows the value of said characteristic
Here’s a real world example:
President Obama (the real-world subject entity), is the incumbent president (predicate) of America (object).
Google’s Knowledge Vault houses billions, if not trillions, of triples gathered from the Internet, with the Knowledge-based Trust algorithm using the vault to determine whether facts on a web page are true or not.
This reinforces the value of quality, factual data for website owners about the products and services they are offering.
Need help with content? Contact the team at Enform.