12HIGH

12HIGH were engaged by Stone & Wood Brewing Co to audit and develop a strategy for their eCommerce business.

Stone & Wood is Australia’s leading independent brewer based out of Byron Bay. If you haven’t tried their famous Pacific Ale, get onto it. 

“We were asking ourselves what does the future look like for our business. We’ve had an online presence for a few years now with our online store but it was a fairly small presence. It certainly wasn’t fully optimised. This channel is evolving so quickly so we wanted to position ourselves for the future but also optimise what is going on today,” said Ben Summons, Managing Director of Stone & Wood Brewing Co. 

Ben Summons, Managing Director of Stone & Wood Brewing Co shares his experience with the 12HIGH eCommerce Audit & Strategy.

12HIGH worked with Stone & Wood’s founders, management team, marketing, sales, customer service and warehousing teams to deliver the eCommerce audit. This was a full business audit covering eCommerce benchmarking, customer profiling, internal capabilities, competitor mapping, trend identification, marketing analysis, user experience, engagement and conversion funnels.

“The main benefit of having an eCommerce audit is getting everyone on the same page. Understanding how it works today, understanding the potential issues and opportunities and understanding how to build a plan for your business moving forward.” Ben Summons. 

Stone & Wood Homepage

These findings were distilled into a succinct opportunity identification and proposed roadmap. After a team workshop,  eCommerce goals and priorities were confirmed. The result was a clear strategic roadmap and a 90 day action plan for us to collectively activate. 

“When we brought 12HIGH onboard we knew we were buying eCommerce expertise. It created the value in the plans we have created. They are engaged, efficient and effective. ” Ben Summons.

Since the audit and strategy, 12HIGH continue to work with Stone & Wood to activate large projects and capitalise on immediate wins. For 12HIGH, it is an ideal partnership; one of Australia’s most loved brands who have ambitious plans and are looking to move at pace.  And yes, if you are asking, the perks of a partner like Stone & Wood are pretty good too.

Cheers! 🍺

I was recently humbled to be announced as one of Australia’s Top 50 People in eCommerce for the fourth year in a row. This year was extra special to come in at number six and alongside some of the most respected, capable and generous retail professionals such as Jane Cay, Angus McDonald, Sven Lindell, Wayne Baskin and Amanda Green. I have learnt lots from all of them.

My nomination and ranking came on the back of strong eCommerce results for SRG with over 120% increase in revenue, the implementation of new web platform onto Salesforce Commerce Cloud and the establishment of  SRG’s Test & Learn capability.

“It takes more than just access to great technology to be successful online, it also requires the leadership and guidance of talented, motivated and inspiring individuals. Nathan is well known in Australia as a leader in e-Commerce and omnichannel strategy,” Mike Larcher.

However, this list isn’t about the retailers who make the most money or the ones with the biggest budgets, it’s about how much they give back to the community.

The article recognised my personal focus areas of ensuring my team are continually developing, investing in up and coming talent in the Brisbane community, supporting women in digital and introducing new ways of working to traditional structures. I am really lucky to be able to make some impact in these areas and am continually rewarded by having networks wider than the immediate job in front of me.

Well done to everyone who made the Top 50! Australian retail is well placed if we continue to share and challenge each other.

Cheers
Nathan

Nathan is the founder and lead consultant at 12HIGH. 12HIGH specialises in establishing digital strategy including digital transformation, Test & Learn capabilities, eCommerce optimisation and customer connection. Contact 12HIGH now

 

In this episode of Add To Cart podcast, we are joined by Josh Newport from Shopify Plus to discuss the best growth metrics for your eCommerce growth. 

Common questions answered in the podcast include: 

  • What is considered a healthy growth rate for an eCommerce business? 
  • How do you balance profitability along with revenue growth? 
  • What is customer lifetime value and how do you measure it? 
  • How do you decide which metrics are right for your business and how do you report on them? 

PREVIEW

A full transcription of the podcast will be available shortly.

Links from the episode 

This podcast episode was brought to you by…  

Shopify Plus. Our friends at Shopify Plus power some of the world’s fastest-growing brands including JB HiFi, Koala and Kylie Cosmetics. The average growth rate for Shopify Plus customers is 126%. Massive! Shopify Plus has just released a really great Holiday Pre-Season Playbook which is well worth checking out. Visit shopifyplus.holiday/au to download the guide. Massive thanks to Shopify Plus for being the inaugural partner of Add to Cart.

About your host: Nathan Bush from 12HIGH

Nathan Bush is the founder and lead strategist at eCommerce consultancy, 12HIGH. He has led eCommerce for businesses with revenue $100m+ and has been recognised as one of Australia’s Top 50 People in eCommerce four years in a row. You can contact Nathan on LinkedIn, Twitter or via email.

About your co-host: Josh Newport from Shopify Plus

Josh Newport leads Merchant Engagement for Shopify Plus in the Asia Pacific region, working with some of the largest brands on the platform. Josh has previously led digital strategy in agencies and advised clients across marketing, search and social. You can contact Josh on LinkedIn

Contact Us

Please contact us if you: 

  • Are wanting to come on board as an Add To Cart podcast sponsor 
  • Are interested in joining Add To Cart as a co-host 
  • Have any feedback or suggestions on how to make Add To Cart better

We look forward to hearing from you!

Interested in more eCommerce news and insights? 

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We explore the five eCommerce features you must explore to ensure long term success. Hint: it’s got nothing to do with functional requirements. 

eCommerce platforms have shifted in the last five years. From self built technology mash ups to full stack SAAS platforms, it has never been easier to establish a basic eCommerce presence.

So, as eCommerce platforms start looking and sounding the same from the outside, how do you differentiate between them?

The obvious and most often used path is comparing them on functional requirements. And it makes sense initially. At a granular level, not all platforms are equal. Different platforms will have friendlier checkouts, better search, faster load, better design.

However, one platform won’t win every feature. And what you see today will be different in 12 months. In most cases, critical eCommerce functionality can be met in one or another if it is not delivered out of the box.

The real platform differentiators are in business alignment. That is, ensuring that your business goals align with your potential eCommerce technology partner.

When selecting an eCommerce platform, you’re not just buying a piece of technology. You are most likely buying into a three, five or forever year relationship. This is a relationship which will play a large role in whether your business can scale. You aren’t buying what is there today. You are buying into the value that can be extracted in that lifespan.

Selecting for functionality delivers for today. Selecting for business alignment delivers for the future.

With the in mind, let’s leave functional requirements behind and explore alignment principles which will drive long term success.

1. Platform Community

Ever walked into an eCommerce meet up and the first question you get asked is “What platform are you on?” eCommerce retailers are proud platform nerds. We are so passionate about them… and we LOVE talking about them. The best platforms embrace and empower these communities. They hold events and meetups. They connect retailers within the platform. They hold open training sessions and updates. They create forums where retailers can help each other. We’re a competitive bunch but if we can flex our platform muscle to help others, we generally well. These communities are important for smaller teams who prioritise learning and development. Platforms who do this well are Shopify, Magento and Salesforce. Understand how your platform can harness the power of its community.

2. Tech Ecosystem

We have recently seen popular independent platforms get eaten up by the bigger guys. Salesforce swallowed Demandware. Adobe took on Magento. Outside of acquisition, there are often friction points (see Shopify and Mailchimp’s recent messy breakup). It is crucial important to understand WHAT technology integrates and HOW it integrates. Can your current stack easily integrate? Is it done with apps, API’s or custom built? How do they remain compatible? What are the cost and speed impacts of many integrations? Before jumping in, map what and how you will bring this ecosystem together.

3. Team Usability

A benefit of current eCommerce platforms is that they allow retailers be retailers and technologists to be technologists. It is likely that there will be many hands on and in the platforms within your business. This includes developers to managers to customer service. It is also likely that this team won’t always be stable. If you choose a complex platform, it will impact on boarding and operational costs. Platforms who invest in user friendly back ends, training programs and self help portals set you up to maximise team effectiveness. This is a strong differentiator if you want your team focused on customers rather than code.

4. Team Resources

No matter how much functionality you get out of the box, you will want access to development partners. This could be for new functionality, maintenance or, heaven forbid, emergency moments. There’s not one structure for how you access these resources. They could be in-house, freelance partners or via agencies – whatever suits your business. You just need to be able to access them. Platform popularity and the development language will usually determine their scarcity. In the early days of Salesforce Commerce (aka Demandware) there was only one development agency in Australia. Despite being a great platform, this ruled it out for many at the time. This challenge is still experienced by emerging platforms (e.g Workarea) and legacy platforms (e.g. Magento 1). Even without committing to development partners, understand how you can access them before locking in with a platform.

5. Revenue Model

No, not the cheapest. The fairest. There has been a general shift from the license model to the revenue share model. While scalable, it doesn’t make total cost of ownership any easier to forecast – especially for high growth businesses. It is important to understand the ideal model for your business. If you are open to a revenue share model where you pay based on what you sell, a Salesforce or Shopify model might work best for you. If the more traditional tiered license model works better, IBM Websphere or Hybris may appeal. If you want to build your own package, Magento 2 fits the bill. If you don’t want to pay for the platform but are willing to invest in development, WooCommerce may be an option. It won’t be simple but you need to be comfortable with what you are paying. Good relationships are ruined when one party feels they are getting ripped off.

5. BONUS: Omnichannel & International Capabilities

I know we weren’t going to talk about functionality… but… I’m going to skirt around it for two exceptions. Omnichannel and international functionality. These two areas currently differentiate the enterprise players from the entry level. If you want a great experience across countries or connected store formats, you need to dig deep into these platform capabilities. Most platforms can be hacked to achieve outcomes in both areas but it can come at a cost and has limitations. If omnichannel and international are important for your business growth in the next three to five years, make sure you understand the technology roadmap ahead.

In summary, select your eCommerce platform partner by prioritising business alignment over functionality. This approach will set you up for a successful long term relationship and deliver the value you need to hit your growth targets. To bastardise a famous quote… “Functionality fades, alignment is forever”.

Written by Nathan Bush. Nathan is the founder and lead strategist at eCommerce consultancy, 12HIGH.

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12HIGH partnered with Water 3 to perform a digital audit. This resulted in a clear strategy and a new approach to digital marketing technology selection.

Water3 makes quality water easily accessible without the need for disposable plastic bottles. They have distributed hundreds of water dispensing machines all over Australia. From these machines, customers simply tap their RFID connected lids and fill up. All for a fraction of the price of bottled water. Even better, it comes in still and sparkled… and doesn’t kill any turtles!

Water 3 Dispensing Machine

Water3 engaged 12HIGH to perform a digital and eCommerce audit. The team had done an incredible job to establish the product in market. It was now time to set up to scale.

“With 12HIGH, it was kind of like, “Hey, come and see what we’re doing, help us understand what we’re missing. Because we don’t know where we’re at.” Damien Stone, Water3 Co-founder.

12HIGH worked with Water3 to deliver a customer journey review, competitor analysis, on site behaviour audit, technology stack review, marketing and sales analysis and an internal capabilities and process review.

“We’ve integrated a couple of third-party apps and software that we probably were going to try and do ourselves. It enabled us to have some candid conversations about the direction of our technology with an independent team there that’s not trying to sell a piece of software.” Damien Stone, Water3 Co-founder.

After a series of 1:1 interviews and a workshop, 12HIGH were able to deliver Water3 with:

  • A concise summary of strengths and opportunities
  • Prioritised digital and eCommerce focus areas to grow the business
  • Identified quick wins for the Water3 team to immediately action
  • A three month plan to kick start their transformation

A great team. An innovative product. A mission to save the world. 12HIGH are incredibly proud to have worked with Water3 to help them change the way we consume water.

“There’s a real range of businesses that could benefit from 12HIGH. Especially if you don’t have a solid digital strategy or if you’re not integrating technology into your processes. Every business could benefit from that.” Damien Stone, Water3 Co-founder.

Warehouses are filling up, last minute development requests are lodged and annual leave has gone into lockdown… It’s less than three months until Christmas!

As a retailer, you’re excited at the prospect of your most lucrative season or full of dread as you face the unknown. If you are in the latter camp, I have some good news and some bad news.

The good news is that some trends will continue. eCommerce retail share is less than 10% but continues to steal share of the retail pie. Mobile dominates screen time and is almost the dominant transaction device. Australians continue to love their marketplaces. Fulfilment in Australia remains tricky. Plan well.

Now, the bad news for those who haven’t been paying attention. There’s been big changes in the Australian eCommerce landscape over the last year. You may need to adjust your strategy for a successful Christmas. But… the good news is, you still have time to respond.

So what has changed for eCommerce retailers this Christmas?

1. Amazon has levelled up

This time last year, the retail world was in meltdown over the imminent invasion of Amazon. But they turned up as a gift carrying aunty rather than a drunk uncle. Don’t get complacent, they are growing rather than invading.

Amazon Prime in Australia

Amazon launched Prime to Australian customers in 2018. Source: amazon.com.au

Since last Christmas, Amazon have quadrupled their product range. They have branched into eight more categories, taking the category count to 26. They launched their Prime membership for Australian customers. They now offer their own fulfilment service. And they found their way into Australian homes via a myriad of Alexa devices. 2018 Amazon is very different to 2017 Amazon. But it’s not all doom and gloom…

2. Internationals have been brought back to the field

 

On July 1 the Australian government introduced GST on imported “low value” goods of less than $1,000. This impacts foreign eCommerce stores, Australian drop shippers and Australian-based international marketplaces. Think eBay, ASOS and Kogan… and Amazon.

International vs Domestic Spend in Australia

20% of Australian eCommerce spend was international in 2017. Source: NAB Online Sales Index – Dec 2017 (PDF)

Most retailers changed their systems to apply GST and comply. Amazon responded by geo-blocking their international site. This forced Australians down the inferior com.au offering. Whether this change has a material impact on Amazon’s local adoption is a guarded secret. Likewise, the GST impact on international eCommerce competition is not yet quantified. But in theory, it is a more level playing field this Christmas for Australian retailers.

3. Afterpay continues to soar

The “buy now, pay later” domination continues by Afterpay. In 2018 Afterpay increased their retail footprint to over 17,000 retailers. The suburban shrieks were deafening for Kmart’s announcement. Afterpay have 2.3m active users. They powered their way into the US and are raising $108m in capital for a UK expansion. It’s not all smooth sailing though. The “start up” operates at a loss and has faced criticism for being ‘predatory’ of young consumers.

Afterpay Customer Growth 2018

Afterpay’s tripled customer growth in eighteen months. Source: Afterpay FY2018 Results Presentation (PDF)

Despite this, the Australian love affair with Afterpay continues. Afterpay has changed the way a segment of the market shops. It is not just a payment option, it is a qualifier. For some, if you can’t Afterpay, you’re not a consideration. While the jury is out on the long term future for Afterpay, you can guarantee that it will be a non-negotiable for many this Christmas.

4.Cyber Week shifts spending

Boxing Day has always been our national shopping day. This tradition has shifted with the explosion of Cyber Week. Cyber week kicks off with Black Friday on November 23 and continues with Cyber Monday on November 26. Many retailers fill in the blanks to make it a week long event. 35% of Australian Christmas shopping will happen during Cyber week according to Salesforce. It represents 40% of holiday shopping in the US where it has been a tradition for decades.

Cyber Week Share per Country

Cyber Week captures 35% of Australian Christmas shopping. Source: Salesforce 2018 Holiday Predictions

Australian customers now expect and plan for participation. Such is the importance of the event, some retailers do a dual Christmas buy. They clear the initial Christmas range during Cyber Week and then launch a new range post. Whatever your strategy, prepare for Christmas to peak early!

5. Purpose has never been more important

2018 has challenged accepted norms through significant social movements. Examples include #metoo, single use plastic and customer data protection. Nike reinforced their purpose by standing behind Colin Kaepernick in their latest campaign. There was uproar. There was also “record engagement” by true fans.

Nike Colin Kaepernick ad

Nike took a position in 2018. What do you stand for?

Retailers in Australian with strong social purpose include Cotton On, Flora & Fauna and World For Pets. Customers want to know where you stand. Do you source local? Empower minority groups? Prioritise sustainable materials? Donate to the disadvantaged? If so, it should be part of your story this Christmas. Your customers want to know. They want it to be part of their story when they gift.

2018 Christmas will be different. Optimise in response to the evolving patterns from last Christmas. Rethink your approach to capitalise on new opportunities. This is not a ‘copy and paste’ Christmas.

The turkey is on the table for those who look at it with fresh eyes. The rest get the scraps.

Seven weeks until Cyber Friday, go get ’em!

Written by Nathan Bush

Nathan Bush is the founder of eCommerce consultancy, 12HIGH. He has managed $100m+ eCommerce businesses and is in the Top 50 People in eCommerce.

Last night, Shopify merchants, agencies and experts got together for the regular #shopifymeetup. It was a bit special last night as attendance broke the world record for the number of attendees. Over 300 ‘shopifites’ attended. This blew Melbourne’s previous high score out of the water. Go Brisbane! 
 
Shopify meetup world record
Highlights from last night included…
 
Craig Somerville from Reload Media (and our hosts for the night) powered through five digital marketing tips in five minutes . ‘Replicate the in-store experience for differentiation’ stood out for me. Everything old is new again! He emphasised the effort put into making the instore experience attentive and unique. Are you replicating this online?
 
Next up was Ashton Tuckerman from YouFoodz. Despite what appears to be heavy customisation, YouFoodz are a Shopify Plus customer. Ashton spoke about the importance of brand in selling. It is obvious that YouFoodz value the customer, story telling and agility. Ashton stole/borrowed the recommendation to be “good different”. A powerful principle when selling to customers. 
 
Shopify Meetup YouFoods story telling
Direct from Canada, we had Steve Haase who heads up solution engineering for Shopify Plus. Steve demonstrated Shopify’s augmented reality product display features which launched last month. This features takes a 3D model of product and adds it to the product page. Customers to view the product as if it is in their own environment using their phone. A push bike on a table was the example used. It is very innovative but we are still very much in the experimental phase. The functionality is still manual and time consuming to do it well. Very interesting though and one to keep an eye on. 

 

 
Lastly, Sebastian Swaczynski showed how the Facebook network can be used to target eCommerce customers at the right time. He demonstrated product integration and display across Facebook, Instagram and their Audience Network. He showed effective retargeting by tailoring creative to customers last interaction. He explained how Facebook look-alikes can target customers who haven’t visited your site. And how to use Facebook Messenger for targeted and meaningful interactions. The can be no doubt that the Facebook network is a big and complicated. If used to target customers based on their specific journey, rather than a spray and prey, it can be a powerful conversion beast

 

Shopify Meetup Facebook targeted ads
 
And that was a little over an hour packed with content! 
 
If you are a Shopify merchant, get on board for the next one in January 2019. Join the Brisbane Shopify Meetup group to get alerted when it gets to registration. If you want to discuss brand building, augmented reality or customer pathway marketing for your Shopify site, contact us and we’ll be happy to share more.
 
12HIGH is a Shopify partner and eCommerce consultancy agency based in Brisbane. Led by Nathan Bush who has managed eCommerce for ASX listed corporates and is in the Top 50 People in eCommerce for the last four years

I listen to a lot of podcasts. In the car. On the train. While exercising. It keeps me up to date. Along the way, I’ve discovered some amazing digital podcasts with an Australian flavour. These podcasts range from strategy to marketing to business to technology to entrepreneurship. Some aren’t pure digital podcasts but are driven by digital themes.

Recently, a few people have recently asked for my best podcast recommendations. So here they are, my ten favourite Australian digital podcasts…

Download This Show
Download This Show podcast

Probably the most professionally produced show on this list, this ABC production is a weekly discussion around social media, technology, gadgets and politics. Hosted by (formerly that.movie.guy) Marc Fennell, he is joined by journalists and commentators from leading publications such as TechCrunch and Gizmodo. The best way to keep up with digital changes impacting the average person in an entertaining and often random way.
Released: Weekly
Length: 30 minutes
Episode Pick: ‘My Health Record explained (hopefully)’

Executive Stories
Executive Stories podcast

Corporate lawyer, Brad Vinning, opens up his contact book and records in-depth interviews with executive leaders across industry. Most guests are Brisbane based and range from start up founders to well established executives. It’s not a pure digital podcast but often dwells on digital subjects. It covers everything across business and life to understand how the best leaders operate. Very insightful.
Released: Fortnightly (sporadically)
Length: 45 minutes
Episode Pick: ‘Remy Brasaac on growing your business, making the tough calls and choosing your business partners’

Foundr Magazine Podcast
Foundr Magazine Podcast

A simple podcast which interviews successful entrepreneurs. It is now over 200 episodes deep and has had interviews with Tim Ferris, Tony Robbins and Gary Vaynerchuk. If you like these kind of entrepreneurs, you’ll like this podcast. If not, steer clear. Host Nathan Chan is friendly and genuinely inquisitive which encourages guests to open up and give more away than they normally would.
Released: Weekly
Length: 30-60 minutes
Episode Pick: ‘BigCommerce Co-Founder Talks Scaling to $100m While Minimizing Risk and Stress’

The Fractal Marketing Podcast
Fractal Marketing Podcast

Fractal are a Brisbane based marketing agency focused on servicing start ups. In this podcast, Fractal founder Gerard Doyle, dives deep into marketing concepts and detail to help start ups make progress. Gerard is extremely generous with his knowledge and often gives step by step guides or lists specific tools to make sure your digital marketing is effective. Great for new businesses and those looking for marketing detail.
Released: Weekly
Length: 30 minutes
Episode Pick: ‘SEO for Startups Part 1’

Moonshot
Moonshot podcast

A podcast dedicated to exploring future inventions and technology – often from a moral perspective as much as a technical perspective. Hosts Kristofer Lawson and Andrew Moon bring great guests and well researched topics to have insightful discussions which will leave you thinking and often, dreaming. From robots to space to biomedicine – the future is discussed here.
Released: Fortnightly (sporadically)
Length: 30 minutes
Episode Pick: ‘Designing a Driverless City’

Morgans Financial Limited
Morgans Financial Podcast

A daily podcast from the stockbroking and analyst team at Morgans. It gets really interesting for the digital crew when Chris Titley takes the reigns for his ’40 under 40′ and ‘Startup Series’. Chris explores the stories behind some of the most exciting startups that are on the brink of scale. A recent highlight was Chris’ mile high entrepreneur podcasts aboard Myriad Air from LA to Brisbane.
Released: Fortnightly
Length: 30 minutes
Episode Pick: ‘Jimmy Rees, Presenter Giggle and Hoot’

The Next Billion Seconds
The Next Billion Seconds Podcast

Inventor, writer, entrepreneur, educator and broadcaster, Mark Pesce, explores what the next billion seconds (just over 30 years) holds for humanity. Armed with some highly credentialed special guests (who are often creating the future), Mark deep dives on emerging technologies in a way which gives you tangible information while making you think. Onto his third season, this season is devoted to exploring Cryptonomics.
Released: Fortnightly (sporadically)
Length: 30-60 minutes
Episode Pick: ‘We Shouldn’t Have Made The Internet Free’

QUT Chair in the Economy
Chair in the Digital Economy podcast

A future focused podcast (and extension of the very insightful events), this podcast mixes research with industry to explore new technology and thinking focused on the Australian digital landscape. Hosted by Professor Michael Rosemann and Monica Bradley, I can guarantee that you will get one or two concepts per podcast which will make you think about some of the decisions you are making for the future.
Released: Bi-monthly (sporadically)
Length: 15 minutes
Episode Pick: ‘Digital Strategy of the Future’

The Simon Dell Show
The Simon Dell Show Podcast

A somewhat crazy and quite a lot sweary look at some of the biggest issues in marketing and business. Podcasts are hosted by Simon Dell and split into two halves. The first half is an out of control free for all (and very humorous) conversation with QUT’s Dr Edwina Luck and Channel Seven’s Patrick Condren. The second half is an in-depth interview with business leaders and range from Glenn Cooper (Chairman of Cooper’s Brewery) to Mike Goldman (former Big Brother host) to unknowns such as Nathan Bush.
Released: Weekly (roughtly)
Length: 60-90 minutes
Episode Pick: E7: ‘Justin Dry, joint CEO Vinmofo + the sausage debate, bears + chickens + more exaggersplaining’

Sweathead
Sweathead Podcast

Aussie now living and working in New York, Mark Pollard, interviews leading digital and marketing strategists from all over the world. The conversations dive into the concepts of strategy as well as the business of strategy. Just listening to Mark’s questioning style is a great insight into how Mark gets to real truths to crack the hardest briefs. It’s a great accompanyment to the Sweathead Facebook group (if you are lucky enought to be in it).
Released: Bi-weekly (sporadically)
Length: 45 minutes
Episode Pick: ‘Spend Your Privelege – Sarah Moran’

That’s 10! What have I missed? Help expand this list for others by leaving your favourite Australian digital podcasts in the comments below.

Written by Nathan Bush. Nathan is the founder and lead strategist at eCommerce consultancy, 12HIGH.

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Earlier this week, I was featured in the Which-50 cover story, ‘Change Is Hard. Here’s How To Build A Culture That Delivers Your Digital Transformation‘.

The article has some great tips on how to change culture as part of your digital transformation. I especially like the tip to give people a physical symbol – a plastic sword! – to indicate that they have permission to try new things.

In this article, I was quoted on what I believe is the underlying key to successfully managing change through transformation:

“I’m a little unsure whether people hate change or if people just hate change happening to them.”

To elaborate further on this, here are four stages (with tangible actions) to help transform culture as part of your digital transformation:

1. Story tell
Leaders need to be story tellers. A lot of people who implement a transformational strategy or who are in those leadership positions have been on that journey for a long time and they’ve seen what’s coming. It’s important that they can sell this vision all the way through the organisation from the start. Transformational stories can be created by answering questions such as; What happens if we do nothing? What are we going to do? What does success look like? These are great jumping off points to create an illustrative and inspiring story to get the team on board. Think about how you can share that story in a personalised but scalable method. This could be in the form of video, organisational wide conferences (physical and virtual) or through relevant media channels.

2. Involve
The story does not need to have all the answers. In fact, it is better if it doesn’t. The rough script should be; “We see the disruption in our industry, we understand it, we are changing and we want you to come along on the journey.” We need to include our teams to create the change we are going to implement.No one likes having change happen to them. While the vision is set, it is important to engage the team through empathy sessions, manager one on ones and direct feedback mechanisms such as surveys. Great organisations may push this one step further and ask their team to design the solution for them through organisational challenges such as shark tanks or innovation days. By ensuring the team are heard and building the change together, there will be less resistance during implementation.

3. Action
Culture is not a fluffy ambition which will happen organically by replacing technology, people or process. Culture is changing the standards we accept and the way achieve them. By understanding the way we are currently working and contrasting it with the desired way of working, we can make decisions and create an action plan. Changing the way of working might incorporate significant actions such as moving to different delivery methods such as agile, setting new behavioural standards through simple rules or a complete organisational restructure. Or it may be much simpler such as introducing new communication channels such as chat, changing the time we open/close the doors or introducing healthy snacks. Whichever  actions we decide to take needs to be carefully planned and communicated with the team to ensure that they can see tangible actions being undertaken. By having clear goals and end-points, we will be able to measure the impact these actions have had on your organisational culture.

4. Celebrate
It is important that the plan is broken down to identify key milestones and achievements. This does not mean the end of a project or, heaven forbid, the end of the transformational programme. After all, a digital transformation may take years! Celebration and recognition needs to be constant throughout the transformation to demonstrate real progress, create momentum and demonstrate a visible shift from where the culture once was. Key celebration points which are often overlooked include the on boarding of new team members or partners, positive shifts in customer feedback and key project milestones such as the end of the development or testing cycle. Celebration can range from a team email to a morning tea to a full blown party but it is public, positive and progressive.

I believe that these elements are key to ensuring that a change of culture is included and successful within your digital transformation. If done successfully, it will have more impact than any technology, capability or process ever could.

Nathan is the founder and lead strategist at 12HIGH. 12HIGH specialises in activating digital, eCommerce and marketing strategy. Contact Nathan

Today marks the inaugural flight for 12HIGH.

In 1903, another first flight took place: the first sustained, controlled flight by man. The first flight lasted only 12 seconds. It wasn’t completed by the modern day Dreamliner, but rather a machine that had been tinkered, altered and improved off the back of numerous failed attempts and prototypes. It took 12 seconds to deem the notion of flight possible. 12 seconds to transform everything about how mankind would go on to live, work and play.

The name 12HIGH has special meaning to me, as it embodies my guiding principle: clear direction with rapid action. The Wright Brothers didn’t write off the hundreds of failed attempts made to achieve flight as time wasted, they learned from them. They had a very clear vision of where they needed to go, and used their learnings and experience to execute significant action.

12HIGH aims to deliver more twelve second moments for our clients by activating strategy rapidly. 

I had an amazing six years as Group Digital Manager at Super Retail Group. In that time I was lucky to work with a talented team to help transform a traditional retail business into a truly omnichannel organisation. We drove huge eCommerce sales growth (120%+ last year). We replatformed our web and eCommerce platform onto Salesforce Commerce Cloud. We used design thinking, lean design and agile methodologies to establish our Test & Learn capability. We were awarded best multichannel retailer on multiple occasions and my personal contribution was recognised by the industry, awarding me a spot in Australia’s Top 50 People in eCommerce for four years running.

But there was one opportunity which kept standing out; the ability to turn business strategy into rapid action. And it’s not an opportunity limited to one organisation.

I have seen it in previous roles and heard it first hand from other business leaders. We spend huge amounts of time, money and effort to create strategies, often with large consultancy partners, which sit in bottom drawers gathering dust. We constantly prioritise, reprioritise and re-reprioritise what we might do. We spend more time talking and meeting about change than acting on it. We paralyse ourselves and our organisations because we are scared to fail.

If action without strategy is wasted effort, strategy without action is self-destruction. Given the pace at which our customers, technology and competitors are changing; a failure to act quickly is our quickest path to irrelevance. And I don’t know any organisation who is aiming for irrelevance.

So how do we change so that we can activate our strategy quickly?

We need to be able to think big but act small. We need to continually test and learn new ideas. We need to be flexible and respond quickly to change. We need our teams to be empowered and creative for continual innovation. We need our customers to validate our assumptions. We need to co-create for better outcomes. We need clear goals for quick decisions. We need to think of tomorrow and act today. We need to continually progress to remain relevant.

At 12HIGH, we translate strategy into short and long term action plans focused on validated customer insights, rapid action and continual innovation. We specialise in developing and activating digital, customer and eCommerce strategies to meet larger organisational objectives. Our test and learn methodology, the OODA Loop, combines design thinking, lean design and agile practises, to deliver rapid insights, prototyping and customer validation for any business problem.

That’s 12HIGH on day one. We have the vision and the experience to transform business strategy into action. And it starts today.

If you’ve read this far, thank you. I would love to continue the conversation. If 12HIGH’s approach resonates with you and your organisation, please reach out for a free initial consultation. If it doesn’t resonate, I’d love to know why. In true test and learn fashion, your feedback will be invaluable to shaping how 12HIGH continually transforms into the future.

Onwards and upwards,
Nathan

nathan@12high.com.au

12HIGH actively transforms business strategy.

Business strategy is too often passive. It is too rigid. It is too often theoretical. It is too often presumptuous.

We believe business strategy is your greatest weapon. It shouldn’t be treated as a chore. But in order for strategy to be effective, we need to change how we approach it.

Business strategy needs to be focused. It is easy to gravitate towards the shiny things. The loud things. The easy things. We use a mixture of data and empathy, measured against your organisational goals, to identify the biggest gaps and opportunities for your business. We pursue progress of these opportunities at pace.

Business strategy needs to be flexible. As Mike Tyson once said;

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

Your strategy is your guide but it doesn’t mean you follow it blindly. We break your strategy down into what we can do tomorrow, what we will achieve over the next 90 days and larger, long-term projects. By revisiting these tactics regularly we can adjust our actions while remaining true to our strategic approach.

Business strategy needs to be inquisitive. How often do you see a business strategy admitted it that it doesn’t have all the answers? Rarely. Strategy is implicitly self-assured. However, the right questions are often more valuable than  the supposed answers. By using a Test & Learn approach we not only test what we think we know but get some answers on what we don’t know.

Business strategy needs to be tested. Strategy is easy to form if we approach it as a presumptuous and theoretical exercise. At it’s most dangerous, strategy is a collection of well paid opinions. We believe strategy needs to be co-created by a diverse group – including our customers. By getting real validation form customers we set ourselves up for success early and don’t wait until execution to find out the uncomfortable truths.

Business strategy needs to be actionable. Annual strategy papers which are approached as a compliance exercise and stored in bottom drawers are not only useless but wasteful.

We want strategy to be your most valued companion.

It should be front and center in what you measure, where you invest and what you create. By ensuring that your strategy has actions which you can commence today, with a long term view for the future, means you get instant and long term value from the exercise.

This is how 12HIGH approaches business strategy. We specialise in digital strategy but use our test and learn approach (including our OODA methodology) to apply digital thinking to any business problem. We would love the opportunity to transform your strategy as well. And no, we promise we won’t bring Mike Tyson with us.

Nathan is the founder and lead strategist at 12HIGH. 12HIGH specialises in establishing digital strategy including digital transformation, Test & Learn capabilities, eCommerce optimisation and customer connection. Contact 12HIGH now