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Luke Goldsworthy

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Would you Survive a Ransomware Attack?

Once again, we are in lockdown. The coronavirus has thrust many changes upon our lives. The upside has been the accelerated shift in consumer behaviour from bricks and mortar to online for eCommerce businesses. But it’s not just shoppers that have gone digital; it’s also criminals.

During the pandemic, there has been a surge in cybercrime, and particularly ransomware attacks. In May, the Darkside hacker group crippled Colonial Pipeline, which supplies nearly half of the United States east coast fuel supply. Its CEO ended up paying over $5m in ransom to get his company back up and running. A month ago, JBS Foods fell victim to an attack, grinding its meat processing works worldwide – including in Australia – to a halt. It paid $14m to resolve the stoppage.

One of the most prolific threat actors this year, Avaddon, decided to shut down its operations in June. When it did, as an act of good faith, it released the decryption keys to nearly 3,000 of its victims, giving an indication of how widespread ransomware attacks are. And this is just the number of victims who had held out and not paid; many others had already sent money in an effort to protect their businesses, data, and reputation. Among known victims of Avaddon is NSW Labor.

Ransomware works by running software on your computers that encrypts data, making it unusable unless you have a decryption key. Threat actors have become more sophisticated in their attacks over the past year and will often also exfiltrate your data before encrypting it. If you do not pay the ransom, not only will you not receive the decryption key, but your data will also be released on the dark web.

This double extortion makes ransomware attacks particularly harmful. If you do not pay the ransom, which is the government’s recommendation, then you face both the costs of business interruption and the consequences of potentially confidential, sensitive, and private data falling into the hands of criminals.

Like all malware, there are several ways in which ransomware can get on your computers. Some threat actors take advantage of zero-day vulnerabilities, such as were exposed on Microsoft Exchange servers this year. Others rely on unsuspecting employees clicking links or downloading software in a phishing email. Some are so brazen as to ring your business, pretend to be from a reputable company, and tell your staff to download some software to address an urgent security threat.

The Australia Cyber Security Centre has released what it calls The Essential Eight, which are minimum recommendations that your business should implement to reduce the risk of falling victim to a cyber attack. The United States National Institute of Standards and Technology has released a far more exhaustive list of security and privacy controls, called SP 800-53.

Here are some steps that we recommend you take immediately:

  • Educate your staff about cyber threats and how to recognise phishing emails
  • Implement Multi-Factor Authentication for logging on to your systems
  • Do two daily backups of your data, with one offsite and offline
  • Install updates and security patches as soon as they are released
  • Implement the principle of least privilege, giving staff just as much access as they need

These steps will help protect you from falling victim to a ransomware attack. If one does occur, it will help you quickly resume business operations without resorting to paying a ransom and further funding crime.

If you would like to discuss how you can make your business secure or to discuss any eCommerce related matters, please don’t hesitate to contact us to set up an obligation-free chat with a representative of The Playhouse Group.

With decades of experience and as a certified Magento partner, The Playhouse Group can help your business maximise its online sales capabilities. Get in touch with our team and we can talk to you about this or any other eCommerce questions you may have.

Maintaining Your Online Store

Victoria being forced into lockdown 4.0 is another powerful reminder that to survive in business in the age of Covid, you need to be able to flourish online. But it’s not enough to just get online, you’ve got to be great at it – and stay great at it.

So many factors go into making a great online store. You need an engaging and responsive design and user experience. You need the right products, and at the right price. You need to get your checkout practices and fulfilment right too. Browse through our blog archive and you’ll get a sense of just how many things you can focus on and improve.

Once you have achieved all this and created your great online store, your job isn’t done. If you want to maximise your sales, you need to keep working to maintain your store – regularly fine tuning and optimising its performance and your offering. If you think a great online store is created to “set and forget”, then you’ll soon find that you are the one that’s being forgotten.

Maintenance isn’t just about making sure everything is working well on the backend, such as deploying code updates and security patches, but also refreshing the frontend to add new features and content, improving the customer experience and leading to increased conversions.

Failure to maintain your eCommerce website can result in an interruption to your business, stagnation of customer engagement, and ultimately loss of revenue and loss of reputation in the market. You will be more prone to hackers, more likely to fail on future updates, may be considered suspicious by web browsers, may decrease your Google site ranking, and may experience slowed down site traffic. You will also fail to attract new customers, keep existing ones, and grow your business.

TL;DR: Maintenance = Success.

To avoid the pitfall of poor maintenance, create a plan setting out what maintenance needs to be carried out, and at what frequency. Then create a schedule with notifications and responsibilities to ensure that you stick to the plan.

There are three types of maintenance you should focus on:

  • Security maintenance – you should schedule website backups and regularly check for any newly released updates and patches.
  • Marketing maintenance – you should consistently add SEO-driven content, check for broken links, and post social media content consistent with your messaging.
  • Storefront maintenance – you should regularly update your product offering, and offer fresh promotions and price changes.

Big Commerce has written an in-depth guide to maintenance, which you can read here.

When you make any changes to your store, benefit from what made your initial launch successful and repeat those steps. Think about the mission of your business, and your competitive advantage. Maintenance isn’t about arbitrary change, but growth. Apply the passion and perseverance that drove you to your launch when doing your maintenance, and you’ll have an online store that customers want to continue engaging with.

If you would like help implementing any of these recommendations – or for any other eCommerce-related questions – please don’t hesitate to click the button below to set up an obligation-free consultation with The Playhouse Group.

With decades of experience and as a certified Magento partner, The Playhouse Group can help your business maximise its online sales capabilities. Get in touch with our team and we can talk to you about this or any other eCommerce questions you may have.

Our Year with Covid

We’ve now passed a year since we were first forced into lockdown in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The citizens of Brisbane were recently again shut inside. Coronavirus has affected so many aspects of life, bringing both tragedy and opportunity.

One of the most significant changes was accelerating the shift of our lives online, whether that be working from home, streaming entertainment, gaining education, shopping and more. 

For consumers, purchasing online became the default not the exception. According to research from Adobe, eCommerce in the US increased by US$183 billion during the first 12 months of Covid. That represents a 42% increase on 2019 figures. It is forecasting a further 20% growth this year, and for the total eCommerce expenditure in the US in 2022 to pass US$1 trillion for the first time. Other findings include:

  • Buy Now, Pay Later grew by 215% year-on-year
  • Branded shopping days lost significance
  • Shoppers embraced BOPIS (Buy online, pick up in store)
  • Online grocery shopping grew 230% and persisted into 2021

The Australian Bureau of Statistics also recorded a significant increase in online retailing during the pandemic, though this has stabilised in recent months. In its most recent report, the ABS found:

In through-the-year terms, the seasonally adjusted series rose 62.8% compared to January 2020. This is broadly consistent with levels seen throughout 2020 as online sales reached a new level following from April 2020. This coincides with the shift to online purchasing at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. Total online sales have averaged an annual rise of 65.5% from March 2020 to January 2021.

Retailers have responded to this surge, with some embracing digital for the first time while others have seen the benefits of focusing on what their customers really want from an online shopping experience.

Magento, the organisation behind the platform that we at The Playhouse Group utilise and develop, has named the seven best eCommerce lessons learnt from 2020:

  1. Page load times can make or break your sales – click here to read about this and other performance checks to optimise your business.
  2. Curbside and in-store pickup are here to stay – click here to read about the importance of multiple shipping options, as part of our post on best checkout practices.
  3. Mobile shopping trends continue to accelerate – click here to read about the power of mobile experiences during Covid.
  4. B2Bs that don’t sell online will be left behind – click here to learn about how our Rapid Deployment Packages can get you online quickly and affordably.
  5. Direct selling and drop shipping can fill the brick-and-mortar retail gap – click here to read about the importance of adding Direct to Customer capabilities.
  6. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) will power increasingly personalised experiences – click here to read about how AI is powering chatbots.
  7. Everyone wants flexible payments – click here to read about the importance of multiple payment options, as part of our post on best checkout practices.

This list is a good starting place for you to consider if your online store is optimised to take advantage of the shift in consumer behaviour that the coronavirus brought with it. If you would like to discuss this, or for any other eCommerce questions, please don’t hesitate to click the button below to set up an obligation-free consultation with one of the experts from The Playhouse Group.

With decades of experience and as a certified Magento partner, The Playhouse Group can help your business maximise its online sales capabilities. Get in touch with our team and we can talk to you about this or any other eCommerce questions you may have.


Using Google Alerts

Now that Google has backed off on its threat to suspend search capabilities in Australia, we’re happy to discuss one of their tools that your business can be using: Google Alerts

Google Alerts sends you a notification email when new content on the web is created that meets the search criteria that you have specified. And it’s free.

It’s a great tool for businesses as it helps them keep track of:

  • When their business is mentioned
  • What is said about their products
  • What their competitors are doing
  • The latest industry and technological developments

Just as with Google search, you can refine your criteria using Boolean expressions and a number of special search operators. Here are the ones you’ll find most useful:

“” Quotation marks allow you to search for specific words or phrases

OR – Expand your search to include one term or another

AND Refine your search to only include results related to both terms

Exclude a search term from the results 

* Works as a wildcard in a search expression, matching any word or phrase

() Use parentheses to group multiple terms or search operators

site: Limits the search results to a specific site

intitle: Limits the search results to pages that include the specified word in the title

related: Search related websites to what is specified after the colon

# Searches a specific hashtag

To get the most out of your search criteria you can combine the above to hone in on exactly what results you are looking for. Here are a couple of search expression examples:

“Playhouse Group” intitle:review -site:theplayhousegroup.com

This will search for the expression Playhouse Group on websites that include review in the title, but will exclude any positive matches from theplayhousegroup.com domain. This is a useful way to find out what others are saying about your business, brand or specific products.

(Magento OR Magento2) site:quora.com intitle:(who OR what OR when OR where OR how) 

This will search the quora.com forum for questions asked about either Magento or Magento2. Monitoring and answering questions on your topics of specialty helps you understand what issues people are experiencing, establishes you as an expert in the field, and may result in new business.

You can make your alerts more effective by:

  • Avoiding generic or common keywords – which will generate too many results, most of which will be irrelevant and of no use to you.
  • Set more than one alert – Google lets you make up to 1,000 per person, so you’ve got plenty of scope to create variations.
  • Make use of specific phrases – included within quotation marks and then combined with other keywords can help you receive the notifications that you really want.
  • Use filters – with the minus (-) symbol you can remove a lot of the noise you would otherwise receive in your alerts, such as in the above example where Playhouse doesn’t want to be informed of reviews on its own domain.

Find out how to optimise your eCommerce business by clicking the button below to set up an obligation-free consultation with a specialist from The Playhouse Group.

With decades of experience and as a certified Magento partner, The Playhouse Group can help your business maximise its online sales capabilities. Get in touch with our team and we can talk to you about this or any other eCommerce questions you may have.


Reviewing 2020 Performance

Last year will live in infamy, but for retailers the one silver lining to that smoke and disease-filled cloud was the unprecedented growth in eCommerce. Now with most staff back from various breaks and many even returning to the office, it’s an opportunity to reflect on your metrics and KPIs from 2020 and to consider how to make this year’s online successes even greater. 

There are four key areas that are important to include in your review, with the aim of identifying potential problems and opportunities.

Infrastructure Performance

Your website needs to be available and fast. When your down, your losing business. Looking at an uptime/downtime report for the year, see when the downtime occurred. If it was during peak selling seasons, you may need to consider scaling up your infrastructure or signing a more robust service-level agreement with your provider.

Slow page load times can be just as damaging, leading to higher bounce rates, cart abandonment, and may even hurt your Google search engine rankings. If there are no obvious problems with your average page load times or transaction processing speed, The Playhouse Group can assist with running a series of other diagnostic tests to help ensure your infrastructure is ready.

Customer Experience

We have never been shy of saying that customer experience needs to be at the centre of eCommerce, such as when we discussed customer journeys last month. Expectations are rising, and if you want to have an advantage over your competitors, your site should be personalised, organised, relevant, and painless. 

In the last twelve months:

  • How often did your site refresh content?
  • Were the content and search recommendations personalised?
  • How easy was the checkout process and order tracking?
  • Did you offer live chat?

Improve in these areas, and you’ll improve your customers’ experiences.

Traffic and Conversions

Analysing and comparing sources of traffic and their conversion rates helps you identify where your big successes and failures occurred. For example, if your mobile conversion rates were relatively low despite consistently high mobile traffic, you may need to think about redesigning your mobile experience.

When looking at traffic and conversions, consider both overall figures as well as performance during peak periods. It will also be helpful to compare those figures with 2019 to see if there are trends. 

You will want to consider:

  • What traffic sources converted most and least, and when?
  • Which landing pages converted most and least, and when?
  • Which promotions converted most and least, and when?
  • Which products converted most and least, and when?

For more on improving conversion rates in general, you can read our recent post on the topic, or our in-depth examination of the effects of price specifically.

Peak Seasons

Performing well during peak seasons, such as Cyber Weekend and the lead up to Christmas, is crucial, and will be part of the infrastructure performance review conducted as the first step in this recommendation. 

When specifically looking at peak seasons, the first step is to clarify when these are for your business. Which days had exceptionally high traffic and sales? Due to them representing a large portion of overall revenue, they deserve extra scrutiny to determine which strategies worked, and which didn’t. This will guide your 2021 strategy.

Use this analysis to predict 2021 traffic and order volumes, so that you can prepare your site properly for them. This could be through increasing server and/or database capacity, or utilising a content delivery network.

But don’t stop at just analysing technical capabilities, consider the impacts of differing customer experiences, marketing and sales strategies, and the traffic sources and conversion rates discussed above. This will help you identify KPIs to focus on this year. 

Don’t let your business fall into the trap of charging into new goals, budgets and plans for 2021, and postponing your review until it’s too late to inform this year’s strategy.

If you’d like help conducting a review of your 2020 website performance, or for any other eCommerce related questions, please don’t hesitate to click the button below to set up an obligation free consultation with The Playhouse Group.

With decades of experience and as a certified Magento partner, The Playhouse Group can help your business maximise its online sales capabilities. Get in touch with our team and we can talk to you about this or any other eCommerce questions you may have.


AI in eCommerce

Artificial intelligence (AI) will transform eCommerce over the coming years, such as with AI-driven chatbots, as we’ve previously discussed, or in several other ways – some of which the programs themselves will come up with.

AI enables businesses to understand customers better to and better make the right product offering at the right time and in the right way. 

Consulting firm Gartner has predicted that by 2023, businesses using AI in eCommerce will achieve at least a 25% increase in customer satisfaction, revenue, and cost reduction. Customer experience specialists Servion have predicted that by 2025, they will be powered by AI in 95% of customer interactions.

The use of AI falls into two broad categories: business improvement and customer experience. On the business side, it can help improve products and services, complete business functions, and enhance website performance. For customers, it’s all about enhancing their experience.

Business Improvement

Improving Products and Services:

  • Pricing optimisation
  • Image recognition and tagging
  • Auto-generated product descriptions
  • Conversion rate optimisation testing
  • Retail analytics
  • Self-checkout systems

Completing Business Functions

  • Customer service applications
    • Chatbots
    • Voice assistants
  • Supply chain applications
    • Inventory planning
    • Automated warehouses
  • Marketing and sales applications
    • Lead generation
    • B2B lead scoring
    • Automating report generation
    • Campaign analysis
    • Prospective customer identification
  • Cybersecurity applications

Enhancing website performance

  • Review and forum moderation
  • Marketplace moderation 

Customer Experience

Website personalisation

  • Provides a customised experience for each visitor, tailored to their desires and needs, rather than a broad and standardised offering 
  • Converts visitors, engages and nurtures, increases retention
  • Data driven

Recommendation systems

  • Ideally suited to eCommerce, drives additional sales.
  • Improves customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • Requires both the breadth and depth of data to be effective

Personalised search

  • Customers using search usually know the product type they want and have the intention to purchase
  • Failure to provide relevant responses to customer search terms results in them leaving
  • AI-powered search engines combine search with machine learning capabilities to increase accuracy

With all of these areas able to draw on AI, it’s easy to see why it will have such a big impact over the coming years, providing businesses that engage with the technology a significant advantage over competitors that don’t.

If you’d like to discuss implementing AI solutions for your business, or for any other of your eCommerce needs, please don’t hesitate to click the button below to set up an obligation-free solutions consultation with one of The Playhouse Group’s specialists.

With decades of experience and as a certified Magento partner, The Playhouse Group can help your business maximise its online sales capabilities. Get in touch with our team and we can talk to you about this or any other eCommerce questions you may have.


Interactive eCommerce

Interactive eCommerce integrates elements of community, recommendations, and entertainment in the shopping experience, seeking to bring the pleasurable experience of shopping in the physical world into the online – and ultimately providing better value-for-money to the customer. 

Many online stores are little more than digital catalogues, albeit with advanced features. In contrast, the emerging trend of interactive eCommerce – seen particularly in China with companies such as Pinduoduo – seeks to create an experience closer to traditional shopping, reflecting its recreational and emotional roles.

Pinduoduo pitches itself as an interactive and fun virtual bazaar, recognising that shopping is often about far more than commercial transactions. It shies away from assumptions that shopping is merely a task to be checked off a to-do list.

Tupperware with its parties embraced the importance of community as core to its business strategy. Shops on high streets such as Rodeo Drive know the experience is about much more than buying luxury items, but also about being in an environment of sophistication and prestige. Similarly, shopping centres are places to pass time as often as they are places to make purchases.

Interactive eCommerce seeks to build a bridge between these traditional experiences and what is commonly offered online. It begins with interactions and connections between customers to drive the discovery of new, interesting and value-for-money products, rather than relying on conventional search. 

Online gaming, social media and entertainment platforms have led the way in humanising their interaction with their users, and their approaches are now being applied to shopping. At its core, interactive commerce is where community, recommendations, and entertainment overlap.

Community

Most eCommerce is often a solitary experience, with no interaction, sharing, streaming, or public disclosure. This is very different from traditional shopping with friends or a partner. On interactive eCommerce platforms, interaction is incentivised. Furthermore, users are encouraged to form groups to make purchasing decisions and to use their buying power to drive down prices.

Interactive eCommerce platforms provide a seamless experience across the native app and social media platforms, where users share the purchase decisions with their friends. The platforms also host live-streamed interactions with customers, product reviewers, and manufacturers.

Recommendations

In traditional eCommerce, recommendations are driven by online searches for specific products or services, with the key differentiators often being price or features. The user is intent driven. He or she wants to buy a camera, searches for cameras, and after some research selects the one that best suits their budget and needs.

Interactive eCommerce is curiosity and discovery driven, with users scrolling past an array of content and making decisions guided by emotion and impulse… just like walking down the aisles of a supermarket. This distinction leads to users being serendipitously exposed to products they would not have discovered on an intent-driven, search-based platform.

Entertainment

Entertainment is basically absent from traditional eCommerce. Maybe you’ll get an interesting product video, but that’s about it. Traditional eCommerce is about efficiency. Let’s get you to the product that’s best suited to you in the fewest clicks possible, and then guide you through the checkout process with an equal absence of fuss.

This is good practice, without question, but interactive eCommerce seeks to add entertainment to delight and engage users, encouraging daily usage habits. With constant new features and games, it provides a dynamic and lively user interface and builds a sense of achievement with customers. Entertainment is common in shopping centres or at weekend community markets but is rarely seen online. Interactive eCommerce seeks to address that.

While interactive eCommerce represents a shift in how platforms operate and therefore cannot be integrated into most existing platforms, lessons can be learnt from it to improve your traditional online store’s performance and potentially can become a supplementary sales channel. It’s core elements of community, recommendations, and entertainment can still be embraced by your website.

Here are just a few ideas on how you can make your online store more interactive:

Community

  • Reward customers leaving reviews
  • Allow customer profiles to link with other customers
  • Get customers to share their purchases online
  • Provide forums for customers to interact with each other

Recommendations

  • Display most recently purchased items
  • Display trending items
  • Post recent positive reviews

Entertainment

  • Gamification
  • Live streaming
  • Flash sales
  • Holiday shopping galas
  • Events

What interactive eCommerce has proven is that customers want more from what they are currently experiencing online. To consider ways to apply some of the elements of interactive eCommerce to your existing online store, click the button below to discuss this or any other eCommerce questions that you may have with one of the Playhouse experts.

With decades of experience and as a certified Magento partner, The Playhouse Group can help your business maximise its online sales capabilities. Get in touch with our team and we can talk to you about this or any other eCommerce questions you may have.


Rapid Deployment Packages

At The Playhouse Group, we’ve launched our Magento Accelerator, which you may have seen recently mentioned in some of our blogs. It enables businesses to quickly and affordably go live with an online store, with ready to deploy modular, pre-configured solutions built on industry and leading functional practices. You can activate your site in 4-6 weeks with:

  • Industry-Specific Designs
  • Pre-Coded Functionalities
  • Essential Integration

Our Magento Accelerator is a Rapid Deployment Package, born out of the online retail boom during the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen many businesses that only previously had a bricks and mortar presence rush to set up eCommerce websites.

It is suited to businesses with aggressive growth strategies that need to launch a revenue-generating site fast. It will get you online and in business, able to engage customers, expand your presence, and most importantly transact and maximise revenue.

Ideal for those seeking more than just a SaaS offering, it can grow with a business while still meeting current budgetary requirements. Built on the Magento 2 platform, our Magento Accelerator allows integration with your existing technology as well as the ability to rollout new capabilities as opportunities arise.

To help you make the most of our Magento Accelerator, or any Rapid Deployment Package, here are some key considerations:

Scope

We will work with you to keep your goals clearly defined and focused during the scoping phase, helping you avoid the dreaded “scope creep” that sees both budgets and delivery times blow out. Even subtle and minor changes to the technical requirements for your website can have a significant impact if left unchecked. There are several factors that can cause scope creep, not all of which are avoidable, but to help minimise it, we will work with you to:

  • Complete a Scope of Work Assessment
  • Outline the Scope of Work in your Contract
  • Define a Review Process with you

Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

It can be tempting to try and launch with a full array of functionality, but with this you can say goodbye to the deployment being quick and affordable. What is important is to launch with a MVP that is scalable in the long term and enables the site to develop as the business does – and after you are generating revenue.

Our Magento Accelerator provides this scalable MVP, allowing you to quickly and affordably launch with a website that provides fundamentals such as a landing page, product and category pages, a checkout and payment options.

Rely on Our Experience

At The Playhouse Group we are experts in both traditional and online retail. We are here to help you. This may be your first foray into eCommerce, but it’s a long way from ours. Your business can save significant time and money by learning from our experience, starting from our very first meeting. Don’t hesitate to ask any questions, especially during the scoping phase where we whittle down your goals and the parameters of your MVP for launch.

After the launch we will still be here for you, and ready to help your business and your website grow. The capabilities of Magento are near limitless, but the goal now is to get you online quickly and affordably.

If you’d like to find out more about The Playhouse Group’s Magento Accelerator, just click the button below to set up an obligation free consultation to discuss this or any of your other eCommerce needs.

With decades of experience and as a certified Magento partner, The Playhouse Group can help your business maximise its online sales capabilities. Get in touch with our team and we can talk to you about this or any other eCommerce questions you may have.

Customer Journeys

A customer journey is their interaction with a brand over time. Unlike a buyer lifecycle, it understands the interaction between the customer and the brand from the perspective of the customer rather than the perspective of the business. Analysing the buyer lifecycle helps you target actions to progress a customer through your sales funnel, but analysing the customer journey is about improving their experience.

While each journey is unique to the individual customer, we can divide a journey into stages that are typically common across all customers. These are: awareness, consideration, decision, retention, and advocacy.

Awareness starts when a potential customer has their first interaction with your brand. It can be triggered by the customer’s actions, such as searching for a product online and finding your business in the search results, or generated by your efforts, such as through various types of marketing.

At the consideration stage, a potential customer is assessing the value and suitability of your product offering. Their journey with your brand will likely involve them visiting your website or social media pages, and reading product pages. However, it is also likely they will research outside of your customer journey to consider competitors, and independent reviews of products.

In the decision stage, the customer has chosen to make a purchase. In an ideal world they would simply add a product to their basket and complete the purchase. However, many customers are lost at this stage. To minimise checkout abandonment rate, you want to remove as many barriers to purchase as possible, and re-emphasise your value proposition. Other strategies to boost conversion include offering free delivery, or highlighting that the purchase is a limited offer. For more, you can read our blog posts on best checkout practices or more generally on improving your conversion rate.

The customer journey does not stop with a purchase, or necessarily follow the above progression all the time. You want to encourage repeat business, so that means regularly increasing knowledge of your brand and products, even if that only sometimes progresses to a purchase. Similarly, just because a customer did not make a purchase when they first become aware of your brand, does not mean that they may not prove to be a valuable customer in the future.

Retention is the fourth stage of the customer journey. It starts with the delivery and use of the purchase. If the product is delivered late or in poor packaging, it will reflect negatively on your brand and limit customer retention. If customer service is poor or non-existent, it will harm you. And above all, if your product does not at the very least meet the customer’s expectations for it, you can forget about retention.

The final stage is advocacy. A retained customer will make repeat purchases forming loyalty to your brand, so long as their experience of both your products and business continues to meet their expectations. Over time, this repeat custom will lead to advocacy, as your customer tells others about your brand and products, through word of mouth, writing reviews, or sharing on social media.

To help your customers progress from those early stages of awareness all the way through to becoming advocates, it is helpful to create a customer journey map. This is a visual representation of all the experiences a customer can have with your brand along this journey. And remember, it is from the customer’s perspective. This will help you improve their experience.

If you would like help with creating a customer journey map, or for any of your eCommerce needs, just click below to set up an obligation-free appointment with a specialist from The Playhouse Group.

With decades of experience and as a certified Magento partner, The Playhouse Group can help your business maximise its online sales capabilities. Get in touch with our team and we can talk to you about this or any other eCommerce questions you may have.

Predictions for 2021

If the last twelve months have taught us anything, it’s that making predictions can be a tricky business. We learnt from 2020 the value of and growth in online retailing, as we discussed here last month. Now it’s time to consider what trends we may see in eCommerce in 2021, as the world slowly comes to grips with Covid-19 and vaccinations are rolled out.

Here are some of the key trends to keep an eye on:

Digital Transformation

Our lives were already shifting online before the coronavirus hit, but now the trend is accelerating at an exponential rate. Working from home, holding zoom meetings, streaming sport and entertainment, and shopping online are the norm. This will continue throughout 2021 as behaviour has changed through the past extraordinary twelve months.

If a business hopes to survive in these times, it must have a digital presence – especially if it’s a retail business. We even see a rise in direct-to-customer transactions, as manufacturers are sidestepping the traditional supply chain to take control of their sales. We recently discussed the direct-to-customer model here.

Growth in Marketplace Shopping

Marketplaces, such as Amazon, provide another channel for your products. For businesses that have just entered the online retail space due to the pandemic, it can be a cheap and effective way to get to market without the upfront expense of developing your own website. 

Marketplaces provide high customer convenience and satisfaction and benefit from high traffic reach. However, marketplaces should ideally be used as a complement to your own eCommerce website. It is important to capture customer data to develop your business, which is restricted in marketplaces. Additionally, it is harder to develop a brand without your own online presence.

As we discussed last April, marketplaces are not just for B2C companies but are increasingly being used to grow B2B sales. Learn how to build your B2B marketplace now.

Sustainability

As the coronavirus subsides, attention will return to the environment and sustainability. This will be accelerated as the US rejoins the Paris Agreement with the incoming administration of President-elect Biden. Even the laggard Australian government looks poised to commit to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Sustainability is no longer something for niche brands to differentiate themselves, but an expectation of most customers.

Last month we discussed here some ways in which you can move your business towards sustainable eCommerce.

2021 will be online. Now is the time to ready.

The Playhouse Group is uniquely positioned to help your business stay on top of eCommerce trends, with a valuable combination of digital and traditional retail experience.

We’re here to discuss any of your business needs. However, we are particularly excited by the Magento Accelerator product we’ve launched. It can get your business online both affordably and  as quickly as 5 weeks, while still including the key features of the Magento 2 platform and the ability to scale and integrate more to your bespoke specifications. Just click the button below to set up an obligation free consultation with a Playhouse Group expert.

With decades of experience and as a certified Magento partner, The Playhouse Group can help your business maximise its online sales capabilities. Get in touch with our team and we can talk to you about this or any other eCommerce questions you may have.