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Category Archives: Industry

Enform E-Commerce Integration

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Enform Specialises in eCommerce

 

Enform enable Online Retailers to build and grow marketplaces, audiences and advertising reach. Utilising knowledge and experience we work with you to build a multi-channel, multi-market business that integrates with your systems to provide scalable options.

With each business utilising different systems to deliver pricing, inventory and rich content for their listings – virtually every integration is a bespoke development that needs proper planning and management to ensure economic and efficient delivery. Read More

Power Retail Talks to MotoParts About Auto Parts E-tailing

By | Automotive, Blog, ecommerce, Industry, Research, Web Design, Web Store | No Comments
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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.

Australian Automotive Aftermarket Sign Historic Repair and Service Information Sharing Agreement

By | Announcements, Automotive, Blog, Comment, Industry | No Comments

 

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Finally, after five years of intense campaigning by the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA), the heads of the biggest stakeholders in the automotive industry (both from supply and service sectors) have signed a historic Heads of Agreement on December 15 to free the consumers in their choice of vehicle service suppliers and repairers.

The move ensures that vehicle telematics (information gathered by sensors on vehicles for a wide variety of purposes, including tracking, navigation, safety and mobile data) in this case, information very critical to having one’s vehicle repaired and serviced, will be made fully available and not hoarded by just a few players who wish to control the market.

This means even the smallest vehicle service and repair business will have access to critical information in order to fix, service, and fine-tune vehicles – information which was previously only available to manufacturers and their preferred dealers. This levels the playing field for small aftermarket businesses

Bruce Billson, Federal Minister for Small Business, said that the agreement is “a significant achievement for the rights of consumers and all automotive businesses, big and small.”

With the signing of the agreement, aftermarket enthusiasts now have a choice on getting the most affordable and efficient vehicle repair and servicing without fears that work done by small vehicle service businesses will be not up to legal and market standards. This means safe and professional vehicle maintenance everywhere in Australia – a very welcome news indeed for Australian aftermarket enthusiasts.

The agreement includes:

  1. Guidelines and governing bodies in the resolution of disputes;
  2. Safeguards to make repair information fully available (even if for a price) to all stakeholders; and
  3. The use of emerging technologies in collecting, processing, transmitting, and diagnosing vehicle telematics while at the same time providing safeguards to owners of data – often the consumers. A report on the progress of these emerging technologies is to be submitted within a year after signing the agreement.

The agreement’s signatories include representatives from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (the car industry), the Australian Automotive Dealers Association (the new car dealers), the Australian Motor Industry Federation (retail motor trades), the Australian Automobile Association (car owners) and the AAAA.

AAAA Executive Director Stuart Charity was quoted as saying “the agreement is a win-win-win for all parties. It promotes consumer choice for owners of 17 million vehicles – particularly those in regional areas where there are fewer dealerships. It helps 22,000 small workshops remain business. And the vehicle manufacturers will earn a fair price for the data that they share.”

This is a welcome news not only for Australian aftermarket enthusiasts but for the whole Australian aftermarket sector as well.

Even as Australia’s vehicle manufacturing supply sector declined – underscored by Australian car manufacturer Holden’s decision to stop making cars in Australia by 1917 – the automotive aftermarket manufacturing sector surprisingly grew – fueled by Australian boom-time cash and Australians’ passion for vehicle customisation. The aftermarket sector is a $4 billion/year industry in terms of sales, employing 36 percent (16,000 out of 45,000) of Australian auto industry workers. These auto workers, along with aftermarket enthusiasts, all stand to benefit from the historic vehicle repair and service information sharing agreement.

Enform strongly supports the automotive aftermarket and see’s great opportunities for our customers in this area with knowledge share and marketing through information.

The good, bad, and ugly e-commerce web design trends

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Web design trends are a double-edged sword. On one hand, using a trendy but well executed web design gives your visitors a new and better web experience. On the other hand, new designs simply add new features for the sake of having something new, instead of fixing old problems.

In the latest update to their E-Commerce UX report series, usability experts the Nielsen/Norman Group (NN/g) saw new web design improvements, but also spotted some bad design trends and even downright ugly concepts.

The Good – Larger Product Images

The jury’s still out on why larger product images are becoming more widespread across e-commerce sites, but whether it’s due to continually increasing screen resolutions and sizes, or visual designs that allow for more space, many sites are featuring large product images.

This of course, has allowed sites to show more product details, which is always a good thing for customers who naturally want to see more and as much of a product they like on a website. NN/g’s usability tests show that several users like to obtain additional details about a product from images, searching for things that may not have been included in the product description.

This also highlights the importance of using photos of the actual products in use or in context, instead of settling for stock images. NN/g’s tests found that based simply on product images, a user was able to tell if a toaster could fit bagels, while another was able to identify the feet on coasters that would protect wooden furniture.

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Coldwater Creek’s large product images give customers more details about their products.

The Ugly – Disorganized Customer Support

Many e-commerce designs exude minimalism, or a sense of space and openness, that is, until you go to the customer service section of the site. Unfortunately, many sites have failed to fix problems with their customer service/support sections, leaving them disorganized and hard to navigate through.

Common sense tells us that when a customer feels compelled to go to the customer support section of a site, it’s because of some problem or unanswered question. Naturally, a customer support page that fails to solve a customer’s problems only creates even more frustration.

You’re going to have problems when the areas of your site where you ask for payment are clean and easy to use, but the areas where customers can go to for help are a mess.

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Foot Locker’s customer service section, an unflattering wall of text.

When implementing design updates to your site, don’t forget to apply the similar changes to your customer service section. Keep things consistent with the rest of your site, and be sure that your FAQs are actually accurate and updated for questions that may accompany a redesigned website.

 The Bad – Shopping Carts

NN/g found that while several sites added small design quirks to their respective shopping cart systems, they still failed to provide enough feedback on whether a product has been added to the shopping car

It’s unfortunate that something so simple is so commonly ignored.

Don’t make your customers jump through hoops by scouring the page to see if they actually flagged an item for purchase or not. Neither do you want them to abandon the shopping process just to check if they added something to the cart. This kind of information needs to be immediately available and easy to find.

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And no, simply adding a short line of text beneath the “Add to cart” like Costco did on its site isn’t enough.

Showing shopping cart feedback on can be done in a variety of ways, whether through an overlay or modal, or an automatic redirect to the shopping cart (with a button to return to previous page). Nothing can spoil a shopping experience more than finding out you just bought multiples of the same product, or wasting 5 minutes navigating your way to the shopping cart.

To summarise, the do’s and don’ts of the current UX Trends:

Do’s:

  • Provide Larger, representative product images
  •  Create richer product information and show the product in its context

Don’ts:

  • Have inconsistent changes across your website. It’s important to update all sections, especially customer support and FAQs
  • Leave the customer hanging at the checkout. Provide solid feedback that an item has been added to their shopping cart, and make this easy to navigate.

PARts DB Launches a New Website

By | Automotive, ecommerce, Industry, tools, Web Store | No Comments

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PARts DB, a TecDoc integrated automotive product and fitment e-cosystem has launched its new website, viewable at www.partsdb.com.au

PARts is a Sydney based venture that has been changing the way Australian automotive suppliers, wholesalers and sellers have been using product data to enhance their business.

TecDoc is the world’s largest automotive product and fitment data aggregator and is owned by the parts suppliers themselves. It was formed in 1998 to create a uniform vehicle and product description standard to allow over 500 suppliers to broadcast and share their product data with their customers. Through PARts, Australian suppliers and brands can now connect to sellers and the market providing their product data to their customer using a global, unified standard.

The PARts data feeds and synchronisation allows manufacturers, wholesalers and dealers alike to access PARts supplier data and TecDoc subscribed supplier data covering over 500 leading global brands and local brands. The system is well suited for retail and workshop performance, 4×4 and accessory markets.

PARts is a permission based system and allows manufacturers and brand owners to manage their data and control its distribution. Parts distributors and sellers can also manage and control the brands and supplier data they see while adding and enhancing the data with custom titles and notation for their own network.

The new website portal allows potential customers to learn about the functionality of the PARts system and learn about how it integrates with a variety of other services and software products, such as eBay MVL, Autosoft, Peach Business Software, Flow, Channel Advisor and Neto.

The website provides a wide variety of links so customers can find the integrated solution that suits their business including PARts Console for real time data management, PARts B2 for B2B e-commerce and a variety of links and resources for total product management.

Enform is an experienced integration partner for PARts, we can assist in getting your PARts product database to your customers, whether it be through your website, B2B solution, eBay or otherwise. We believe that PARts forms the foundation for an extremely effective product marketing strategy, and with appropriate integration it can dramatically expand the information your customers have about your products and increase sales.

Why it Pays to Display Product Prices on your B2B Website

By | Automotive, Blog, ecommerce, Industry, Research, tools, Uncategorized, Web Design, Web Store | No Comments

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What’s the one thing a prospective customer wants to know when visiting an e-commerce website?

Prices.

When dealing with displaying pricing, businesses need to ask them selves; Is it better to not be judged, or to be ignored completely?

Yet it’s interesting to note that multiple usability studies by experts like the Nielsen Norman Group (NN/g) show that many websites still haven’t done anything to respond to people’s frustrations on not seeing the prices of products and services.

What’s more, usability experts NN/g  point out that business customers see pricing as the most important piece of information online, yet several B2B sites don’t seem to acknowledge this as they continue to obscure prices.

Adapting to New Shopping Habits

B2B webmasters and developers should adapt to the new ways consumers of the 21st century shop and research information about products and services. Gone are the days when consumers had to interact with sales agents; DIY is the way to go, with consumers now empowered with the information to make decisions on what to buy and not.

Many B2B site owners make the mistake of assuming customers will contact them to ask about pricing—they probably will, but it’ll be an inconvenience. In fact, studies by NN/g found that many participants in their research opted to go to competitor sites when websites failed to show prices. In the end users ended up viewing and purchasing from sites that did show pricing information.

Why Hide Prices?

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For companies, the most common reason behind keeping pricing hidden from consumers is to obscure it from competitors. Other reasons include:

  • Having varying prices for different customers
  • Prices constantly fluctuate, making it difficult to show fixed prices
  • Special services have unique prices

While the reasons above are legitimate excuses, it doesn’t change the fact that they’re still excuses. The simple fact is that failing to be open with pricing works against the needs of customers, creating a poor shopping experience. What’s more, one person’s impression on a brand (e.g. they’re hiding their prices) can ripple out to other consumers. This effect completely negates all of the reasons stated above.

And besides, all of the issues mentioned above are also tackled by brick and mortar establishments, which still openly display their prices.

Here’s an insightful look on why you shouldn’t be bother hiding your prices.

For Those That Really Can’t Show Exact Prices: Sample Prices 

For B2B companies that have unique products and services, it’s true pricing structures can be complex, with rates varying between clients based on their specific situations. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t show pricing, as prospective customers still need something to go on during their initial research.

When providing exact prices becomes impractical, the next best option is to provide estimates in the form of a price range, typical pricing packages for usual situations, or the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP). To avoid running into legal hiccups with displaying prices, it’s best to consult with legal counsel to find the most accurate ways of displaying this information.

 Provide Prices for Typical Scenarios

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For companies that structure their prices according to the unique services different clients need, the most prudent course of action is to provide pricing information for a handful of scenarios your company commonly encounters. You might hear of tools like cost calculators that allow customers to input what they want, and in the end, get the corresponding cost for the service package.

While useful, studies show these pricing calculators are often too complex, unwieldy, and prone to mistakes. Pricing calculators are not entirely useless; they can still appeal to some highly engaged customers eager to enter the required data to get the information they want.

In any case, it’s best to employ the rule of averages and offer sample prices for typical situations, which are sufficient to provide inquiring customers with a rough idea of what they want and how much it should cost.

Example: Automotive Parts Pricing

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In the context of automotive parts, we believe that showing the price of parts and accessories is crucial for attracting prospective customers who are searching for an item they already know they want or need, but don’t know the price of. Often, these customers are conducting pricing comparisons between vendors, and transparent pricing provides the convenience of seeing the information they need immediately, and hence increases the chances of these customers making a purchase a decision.

Showing prices on your B2B site also boosts consumer trust in your brand. Consumers see vendors that openly display their pricing as being straightforward and honest, and transactions are more likely to occur when people get the information they want right away.

For the average consumer, the fewer the number of steps it takes to make a purchase (e.g. make a phone call to inquire price, make a reservation), the better the shopping experience will be, and the more successful your business will be at gaining and retaining their business.

Increasing Car Sales with New Methods and Technology

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virtual showroom car sales

Automotive Industry Moving Towards Car Showroom Updates with New Technology

According to a 2013 Australian automotive industry survey, 32 per cent of car showroom operators plan to increase their sales by over 50 per cent through 2020 with the use of new technologies like virtual showrooms, social media, e-commerce, and other online communications tools.

The car salesperson is no doubt a fixture in any car showroom setting scenario around the world, but even he/she will eventually feel the pinch of technology and how it always manages to change the status quo.

The survey, conducted by Australian Automobile Dealers Association (AADA) and commissioned to Moore Stephens Automotive, also found out that well over 60 percent of car dealerships have less than 30 per cent of sales coming from online transactions.

According to Moore Stephens Automotive head, Brett Fowler, the continuous growth in online sales should force the automotive industry to adapt multi-channel online communications to drive online transactions. He adds that the shift is simply in line with the measures other retail sectors are currently utilising.

The survey also found that respondents identified the increase in online retail activity as being a crucial factor that will affect not only existing advertising and marketing campaigns, but also the very concept of investing in a traditional ‘brick and mortar’ showroom. In fact, as much as , 79 per cent of respondents saw the value in having a virtual automobile showroom.

While the survey shows that there is certainly a lot of interest in virtual showrooms and how they can be used to generate sales over the next seven years, the pressure is on dealerships and franchisors to make the virtual store functional and financially viable enough to replace the brick and mortar premises. And then of course, is the prevailing notion that customers, while using the Internet to find product information, still want to do the usual test drive.

Fowler understands this, pointing out that many automotive retailers and customers still see personal interaction as a key factor in the process of purchasing a vehicle. However, he pointed out that online sales and communication can only enhance the relationship and dealer. He adds that customers don’t just use the Internet and the retailer’s website to find more information about their desired automobile, it’s also a way for them to review the retailer’s services, such as parts, servicing, financing, etc.

Ultimately, the purpose of developing an Internet presence is not just to facilitate online transactions, but to deliver a better product experience. With customers getting more information about a product before visiting the retailer, they are more likely than ever to spend less time  negotiating with car salespersons.

These changes should by no means be limited to car showrooms. Automobile parts vendors should take note of the obvious lessons from this trend. As more consumers choose to do their business online, it pays to provide customers with easy and accessible ways to communicate and make transactions with their respective businesses. Failing to do so means missing out on an opportunity to increase revenue.

 

 

Polk Stats: Increase in Vehicle Sales Forecast

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Polk Stats Show Increase in Vehicle Sales—74 Million Vehicles Expected to be Sold

A monthly forecast summary for May by automotive data and marketing solutions leader Polk shows that global demand for passenger vehicles in May remained about the same compared to the same period last year, but that regional differences would lead to a new sales record by the end of the year.

Regional Forecasts

In the Asia-Pacific region, demand for vehicles in 2012 dropped to about 4 percent compared to the previous year according to Polk’s preliminary estimates. The research firm attributes this slight decline to the downward trend in Japan, which is down by 9 percent. This in turn can be traced to inflated year-before comparison figures and lesser number of workdays. However, for 2013, the Asia-Pacific region, also recognised as the largest market for vehicles in the world, is up by around 6 percent compared to last year.

Meanwhile, Eastern Europe is down by 7 percent, a development that’s due to the region suffering from the financial crisis’ impact, with its effects now being felt in Russia as well. New registrations in the country dropped sharply by 12 percent in May for the second straight time. With 5 months already gone by, Eastern Europe slipped down by 1 percent compared to the same period last year.

Things are no better in Western Europe, which is down by at least 5 percent and posting sharp losses once again. The most glaring slumps are happening in France and Germany, where demand for vehicles fell down by 10 percent in each country. The only bright spot in the region is the United Kingdom, which reported an increase of new registrations of 11 percent compared to the previous year. Western Europe, which has been ridden by crises, is down by 7 percent this year.

The NAFTA Region, up by 9 percent, is expected to experience an upward trend thanks to the United States showing signs of strong growth.

3 Percent Global Growth Forecast

Despite this mixed bag of trends, Polk expects global new registrations for vehicles to hit a new record by the end of the year, with their statistics forecasting an increase to 74 million units—a growth of 3 percent over 2012.

By the end of the year, Polk expects new registrations in the Asia-Pacific to hit a high of 4 percent compared to the last year. The forecast sees an increase in sales of 100,000 units in the region. The reason for this? Strong growth in China.

In the NAFTA region, Polk expects vehicle sales to rebound by more than 18 million units.

Polk forecasts Eastern Europe to grow by less than 2 percent this year, this mainly due to the worsening situation in Russia. Low oil prices compounded by a negative economic outlook are expected to reduce new vehicle registrations.

Polk also sees vehicle demand in Western Europe to decline for the fourth straight year in 2013, tying figures not seen since 1993. This record low of new registrations has not been reported since 1985. Despite growth in the UK, the situation in France and Germany are expected to take its toll on the region.

 

Mining Boom Killing Aussie Cars?

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There’s plenty of hype surrounding the Australian mining boom and its effect on the economy, however, its effects go further than what most people think. The boom in the mining industry has also triggered significant changes across other sectors, more specifically, the automotive industry.

During the month of July 2012 there has been a reported 7 per cent growth in car sales compared to July last year, much of these sales is a result of the mining boom. Growth in the mining sector has triggered an increase in demand for SUVs and Utes (utility vehicles), so much so, that models, namely the Toyota Hilux, Nissan Navara, and Ford Ranger, now hold the top 3 spots in the top 10 list of automobile model sales.

Ute sales are especially strong in mining areas like Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory, which are seeing a rise in demand by more than 15 per cent, 11 per cent, and 16 per cent respectively.

On the other hand, small car models like the Toyota Corolla and Mazda 3 occupy second and third place behind Hi-Lux when it comes to sales and popularity, falling behind by just 1000 units since May.

Local Brands See Slump

Sadly, once-popular cars from local brands have seen a decrease in sales by as much as 25 per cent in July compared to last year. The Holden Commodore for instance, is seeing a 25 per cent drop in sales compared to 2011, despite outselling the company’s small car model, Cruze, for the first time since March.

Similarly, the Ford Falcon, a full-size car manufactured locally in Australia, only sold 941 units this year, down by nearly 30 per cent from 2011. After cutting more than 400 local manufacturing jobs, suppliers also announced potentially proceeding without the Falcon in the future.

More Factors in Play Aside from Mining Boom

Another contributing factor to the increased demand for SUVs and light trucks is the enactment of learner and P plate legislation across many high-population states. The effect this legislation has had on the car market and even the automobile aftermarket is significant because states, like NSW, for instance, prohibit P plate drivers to driver high-power 6-cylinder vehicles, let alone a car with a turbocharged 4-cylinder or V8 engine.

Other states in Australia have implanted similar rules, preventing many young car owners from driving vehicles normally popular with their demographic, resulting in a decrease in demand for go-fast and traditional performance bits for turbo 4s and V8s.

Many P-platers are turning to SUVs and light trucks to remain within the state engine guidelines whilst being able to enjoy the pleasure of optimising and customising their rides.

Opportunities Still Abound

Enform’s view is that so long as people continue to search for identity and individuality, the market for perosnalisation and customisation, regardless of vehicle type or platform, will only continue to grow despite shifting trends. This is the ongoing opportunity for the parts and accessories aftermarket as well as small cars like the Corolla and Mazda 3, to capitalise on the growth of larger car models.