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Enform E-Commerce Integration

By | Announcements, Automotive, eBay, ecommerce, Google, Industry, Instagram, SEO, Social Media, tools, Web Store | No Comments

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

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

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

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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.

Questions To Answer When Designing Website Navigation

By | Blog, ecommerce, Mobile, Research, Web Design, Web Store | No Comments

Organising content for a website calls for designers to ask key questions on their planned Information Architecture (IA). Usability experts the Nielsen Norman Group (NN/g) broke down these problems, providing answers to the 3 most persistent questions many designers today struggle with when building sites.

How Many Categories do you Need?

The general rule of thumb is to have enough categories to show all the information offered on your site or app. However, what’s considered ‘enough’ will greatly depend on the content and intention of a site.

Most simple sites with a small range of content will usually do fine with a few categories. This minimalist approach helps users find the information they want as quickly as possible. Take for instance, Dyson’s website for their Airblade line of products (the Dyson Airblade is the company’s take on the quick hand dryer). The entire website has a solid IA scheme since all variations of the Airblade fit into 5 categories.

Dyson airblade homepage

Dyson Airblade Homepage

At the other end of the spectrum is RestroomDirect, a site that also sells hand dryers as well as a bunch of other fixtures for public bathrooms. Condensing all information on the site down to 5 categories makes it difficult for customers to find information on the company’s full range of products, which is why the site features 7 links in the top horizontal navigation, and 17 product categories in the vertical navigation. This combination allows users to easily access all relevant information on the site as efficiently as possible.

Restroom Direct

www.RestroomDirect.com

Both examples show the basic principle behind determining the appropriate number of categories in a website: go with what makes it easiest for users to access the information they need; don’t box yourself in by trying to hit a predetermined number.

Should you List Categories in Alphabetical Order?

Organising categories by a certain order is another issue frequently tackled by designers, many of whom feel that sorting categories alphabetically makes the most sense.

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to this problem, but what you can do is consider the following factors:

  1. What organising principle would be more meaningful than sorting alphabetically?
  2. Will visitors be familiar with the category names
  3. How many categories do you have?

More Meaningful Organising Principles

One approach that makes more sense than alphabetical organisation is frequency of use, which helps the majority of visitors on a site access the information they’re most likely looking for.

An example of this can be found on RightMove.co.uk, a property listing that has the categories For Sale and To Rent as the first two items in the navigation panel. This setup saves users a tremendous amount of time, since it makes sense to highlight content users are most likely to click on.

Rightmove

If you were to organise categories on this site alphabetically, you would get the unintuitive result below.

Rightmove labels

Standard Labels

However, there are instances when alphabetical organisation is more efficient. If you have categories under just one label (e.g. product names or brand names), users naturally look for information they know, like a particular word—alphabetical organisation is more helpful in this situation.

Do you Need Hover Menus with Touch Devices

With the advent of mobile devices that rely on touch interfaces, UX designers are wondering whether sites should still have hover nav menus.

Hover activated menus are unwieldy for touchscreen users. Even with menus adapted for use with a tap instead of a hover, touchscreens are just too small to display an entire menu. This can result in problems scrolling the menu without deactivating it by touch something else on the page.

However, just because a part of your audience can’t use this feature, doesn’t mean you should withhold it from everyone else. Hover activated menus are still easy to use on conventional desktop interfaces.

The key here is graceful degradation: ensure that customers who can’t use hover activation still have a means of accessing your content. A good example of this setup can be found on the Fedex website, which provides both hover and tap options for all their users, whether on traditional desktop interfaces or touchscreens.

Fedex

The full Fedex website has hover-activated menus

Fedex mobile version

The mobile version of the Fedex site automatically replaces hover menus with a simpler tap interface

As always good website design is about taking in to account your audience and how you can get them to the information they are looking for quickly and easily. It is worth spending time in the initial concept phase on these types of questions to avoid costly redesign and coding later on.  Need help with your site, want an objective review? Contact Enform today.

Web Design – A Humorous Look at Some Potential Pitfalls…

By | Blog, Comment, Mobile, Research, Web Design | No Comments

 

Inspired by Matthew Inman from The Oatmeal with his blog “How a web design goes straight to hell

Web design starts with the best intentions however sometimes personal taste can de-rail the process. At Enform we believe there can be a compromise between what the client wants and what the designer delivers.  But, most importantly focusing on what the user or usomer might want or need.

It is our role to inform our clients on current best practice and provide advice on what will and won’t work  – keeping in mind modern web design needs to:

  • Engage visitors – be visually appealing and easy to navigate
  • Relevance to what the visitor wants – within the first few seconds it should be obvious who you are and what you offer
  • Allow the above irrespective of device they use to access your site – mobile responsive

With all the best intentions in the world the process sometimes goes off track.

Matthew Inman, creator of The Oatmeal, once worked as a web designer. He is now a comic artist with considerable influence, and he compiled his experiences with difficult web design in a comic featured below.

In it, Inman describes the nine steps to the making of a web design disaster, and how clients unwittingly (or wittingly) cause it. We shortened those steps into four for you:

Step 1. All Is Well

Inman writes: “Everything is cool in the beginning.” It’s like the start of many relationships – the clients summarize their needs and the designer tells the client what to expect. If the clients have an existing web site for improvement, they show it to the designer, telling him or her that the previous designer was an idiot.

Toast_original

Step 2. The Initial Design

The designer shows the clients the initial design for comments and approval. Initial designs are expected to be further improved based on the clients’ input. To Inman, this is the high point of the whole process. Then everything goes downhill from there.

Toast_design

Step 3. The Client “Helps Out”

The client suggests his or her ideas for improvement. The designer complies. The client suggests more changes. They may even bring in other people to comment. These can happen several times in the web design process and indeed this step is normal in any collaboration. The result can be something both the client and the designer can be proud of. Or as is sometimes the case, the whole thing can turn into a proverbial “dogs breakfast” trying to satisfy too many different tastes, agendas resulting in a loss of clarity on key concept of the initial design.

Web Design - Some Potential Pitfalls

Step 4: The Design Fails

Intial Design VS Final Design

 

At this point, the designer may be having a nervous breakdown. Get another designer and repeat.

 

A mouse cursor controled by speaking

 

Takeaway

A lot of anguish could be avoided if clients, at the outset, treat a designer as an expert with valuable experiences and opinions that can help the clients achieve the needs of their web site. Designers should not be treated as mere helping hands or worse, just tools to do the clients’ bidding:

Too many cooks spoil the broth – especially when the cooks do not know how to cook.

The main point is this: respect designers as experts in their field. They know what works and what doesn’t. Sure, you could collaborate with the designer to create the best site ever but, if you don’t actually possess good design sense (and you must be honest enough to recognize this), do not hobble the designer with requests that are impossible.

Right at the start of the project, communicate your needs for the web site clearly to the designer. Usually, he or she will tell you if what you want is OK or not.

Whatever you do, always have mutual respect between you and the designer. It is a key ingredient to every successful design project.

At Enform we believe in delivering what a client wants but ensuring we advise and understand any implications that may affect our 3 initial key points on what a web design needs to achieve:

  • Engage visitors – be visually appealing and easy to navigate
  • Relevance to what the visitor wants – within the first few seconds it should be obvious who you are and what you offer
  • Allow the above irrespective of device they use to to access your site – mobile responsive

Contact us if you need advice on your design.

Australian Automotive Aftermarket Sign Historic Repair and Service Information Sharing Agreement

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

 

AAAA_New_141216

 

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 Current State of Motor Sport in Australia, Marketing Opportunities

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

Motor Sport in Australia

Motorsport involvement whether as a participant, sponsor or parts supplier can provide some big Brand affiliation benefits for your business or Brand.   These need to be articulated through all your communications both on and offline, and above and below the line. Successful cross promotion and association is an important way of linking your brand to the BIG business that is Motorsport.

A Look at the Current State of Motor Sport

CurrentState

The Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS), the governing organisation in Australia’s motor sport scene, recently published a study highlighting the important role played by the motor sport industry in the country. The study, conducted by multinational professional services firm Ernst & Young, delved into the economic contributions, value add, and employment figures surrounding the industry in 2013.

Also included in the study are figures on the number of participants, car clubs, and motor sport venues across Australia, with data sourced from more than 4300 surveys completed by clubs, category managers, and other participants, as well as financial statements and databases figures from governing bodies.

Some interesting statistics gleaned from the Ernst & Young study include:

Volunteers

Around 17,419 licensed volunteer officials in Australia are to be thanked for running most of the country’s annual motor sport events.

Culture

Motor sport commands a sizeable share of the Australia’s sports industry, being the fourth most watched sport in the country. In addition, more than 80 percent of those surveyed reported ‘being with family and friends’ as an important reason for their involvement with the scene.

Regional Locations

Over 30 percent of participants come from regional areas. Meanwhile, 85 percent of motor sport venues are accessible to those in regional locations.

Competitors

Motor sport competitors reportedly spend anywhere between $12,000 and $15,000 per year on sport-related activities. For those in the aftermarket industry, it’s worth noting that competitors spend $60,000 motor sport vehicle purchases and initial modifications.

Venues

The biggest impediment to continued participation in motor sport events is the current condition of tracks and venues. The majority of those surveyed claimed they would participate more if these were improved.

Participation

Participation

Over 150,000 people participate in motor sport all over Australia, whether through competing, officiating events, or participating in car club activities and events. The country’s motor sport industry consists of the following closely related components.

  • Auto related industries like the aftermarket industry
  • Competitors
  • Officials
  • Car clubs
  • Governing bodies
  • Events and pro teams
  • Tracks and venues
  • Other participants (non-competing car club members)

Motor sport also encompasses a wide range of disciplines, such as:

  • Speed
  • Circuit
  • Speedway
  • Rally
  • Drag racing
  • Off-road
  • Go-kart racing

Both Circuit and Speed take up the largest share in audience and participation, direct output, employment, and valued add among motor sport disciplines in Australia. Together, the two account for more than 60 percent of Australian motor sport industry output.

Industry Output and Value

Australia’s motor sport industry is directly responsible for more than $2.7 billion in direct industry output, $1.2 billion in added direct value, and generating more than 16,300 jobs.

Output&Value

Other Benefits

Australia’s motor sport industry provides other notable benefits, chief among them its positive contribution community development.

Motor sport has deep roots in Australian culture, with an influence encompassing more than just the 76,377 people who compete or officiate in events. For instance:

  • Half of all motor sport participants, or 76,775 of 153,152 participants, may not be competing or officiating in events, but they are active in other club activities related to the industry.
  • In 2013, the 1,391 motor sport car clubs that took part in the survey held around 6,247 events.  The 460 car clubs affiliated with CAMS held 4,311 events, with more than half being non-competitive social events.
  • Family participation is strong in the motor sport industry, with 80 percent of survey participants reporting ‘to be with family and friends’ as being ‘very important’ and ‘somewhat important’ when choosing to participate in motor sport.

Enform can help you capitalise on your association/involvement with Motorsport by working with you to create Marketing strategies that will maximise the exposure of your Brand using the mega Motor Sport Industry Publicity machine. Contact us today to see how we can help.