Lessons from Online Retailer Sydney

by Jim July 30, 2018

My recent trip to the Online Retailer exhibition in Sydney gave me a great opportunity to catch up with some heavy-hitters in the industry and learn some new e-commerce tricks, especially in light of the new Chrome release.

What I learned

  • Ask yourself: What is your website’s purpose?
  • The importance of keeping a clean homepage
  • Conversion tricks that will boost sales
  • Do you need to be sociable?
  • Be careful where you let Google visit
  • Are you secure?


Hey, welcome back Rankers! The beard is gone. Oh, it’s so nice. Thank you for the all lovely comments last week, but seriously, beards are filthy, disgusting things and I’m glad it’s gone. It’s like having a small rodent attached to your face.

What is the purpose of your website?

I wanted to talk to you this week about the Online Retailer exhibition that I went to last week. I was lucky to speak on a panel with these three blokes; Jason Kencevski, Nathan Huppatz, and Wayne Baskin. Basically, this was a live site review panel. This is the second time I’ve done one of these and they are such fun. Because as a site owner, you get to have about 50 years of experience basically bombarded at your site over a five minute period. And you’re just going to be scribbling, taking notes, right? And I learned a heap from these guys because they’re just so focused on user experience and conversions, right down to little details. They are constantly testing these things, right?

So I’m Slacking back to staff, different ideas, different things to try, but some of the themes that came out of it from these guys … And one of the questions that Wayne Baskin asks, which I really like is, “What is the primary purpose of your website?” And people usually come back with, “Well …” and then he’ll come back with, “No. What is the primary purpose of your website?” And I ask myself that same question sometimes, too. And you might think, “Well, B2B, well it’s to educate to …” No. It’s not. It’s to generate leads. That’s the primary purpose of my website. Sometimes it helps to remind yourself and ask that question. But the sorts of things that, the common threads, were people trying to get too many calls to action on the homepage. Too much clutter on the home page.

Conversion hacks

Some simple hacks that you could use to test and maybe increase conversions are simple things, like labels on stock that says ‘In Stock’. Or gives you some ‘On sale’, all those sorts of things. ‘Ships Today’ is another one, like back when we were doing this same sort of site like review panel at Retail Global, one of the retailers there had a countdown clock to tell you how many hours you had left to meet the ‘Ships today’ deadline. So things like that increase the urgency and help people understand what the site’s about. De-cluttering the home page. You know, one of the things Nathan said was to get those social icons away from the top right-hand side. Get it off the valuable real estate. Put them down on the bottom, people will find them if they need them. And similarly it goes with your disclaimers and all sorts of things, they don’t need to be in the main menus.

So get the user to the thing that they are looking for as fast as they possibly can. From my part I saw a lot of slow sites, which is not uncommon with e-commerce sites. That’s really important now given that we’re in a mobile first world and Google had the mobile speed update earlier this month. So just keep an eye on your speed everyone. The other thing that I saw more than once was bad crawls. So Google’s being pushed into areas where you don’t want it to be going. So things like crawling pages that really shouldn’t be getting crawled. And sometimes this was happening because the website had actually just been set up so that you would have multiple pages for the same product, but searched different ways or configured different ways. You really shouldn’t do that.

You should have one page and that should cover all the products. Like if it is a brown one, you should just change the brown, you don’t to bring out a whole new page. So there was a lot of that going on and the reason that becomes a problem is because Google can start crawling all these other pages and indexing them. They’re just duplicates of a main page. Now there is a way around that and that’s by using a thing called canonical tagging, but what I was seeing last week was a lot of the canonical tagging was wrong. So Google would be ignoring those things. So just be aware of that.

And, of course, last week what also happened is that the new Chrome was released and now we have the ‘Not Secure’ warnings in everyone’s browser for Chrome. So if you’re ASOS I can’t see how that can be helping conversions right now. So we did a story on this last year, around September last year, about all the sites that were going to start getting this. Fortunately, our own government site’s asic.gov.au, they have actually upgraded to HTTPS, which is great. Unfortunately, our Defence Department had not. So that one still is showing ‘Not Secure’ as is our navy. So if you haven’t done that yet, well, there is a few others who haven’t either. But I would strongly advise you, if you’re trying to sell anything through your website, get your HTTPS sorted. That’s it for this week. We’ll see you next week. Thanks very much everyone. Bye.

Jim’s been here for a while, you know who he is.

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