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.


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


Metrics That Matter // Add To Cart eCommerce podcast #001

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? 

A full transcription can be found at the bottom of this post.


Links from the episode 

This podcast episode was brought to you by…  

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? 

Sign up for free to 12HIGH’s HIGHmail newsletter to receive regular eCommerce news. Highlights include the ‘This Month in eCommerce’ mail which updates you on everything you need to know to keep you up to date in the fast-moving world of eCommerce.

Subscribe to HIGHmail for eCommerce news and insights delivered to your inbox

Add To Cart Episode #001 Transcript: Metrics That Matter

Welcome to Add To Cart. The podcast that express delivers all you need to know in the fast moving world of e-commerce. Every month, Nathan Bush, from 12 High and an e-commerce industry expert would share the news, research and insights that you need to know to keep you at the top of your game. And, of course, keep your customers adding to cart.

Nathan: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the very first episode of Add To Cart. My name is Nathan Bush, founder of e-commerce consultancy 12 High. And I’m really excited to bring in this podcast series where we’re going to dive deeper into the most commonly asked e-commerce questions and explore opportunities that you may be able to implement in your business.

To kick off, we’ve got Josh Newport, who heads up merchant engagement for Shopify Plus in the APAC Region, joining me as a co-host to discuss growth. On that note, we’re really excited to have Shopify Plus on as our inaugural sponsor and we really appreciate their support. So, without any further ado, let’s get into it.

This week, we’re talking about growth. What does a good growth rate look like? What metric should we be using to measure growth? And what are some of the common traps that we fall into around getting hung up on growth?

I have Josh Newport here with me today, who as my co-host, who is the Merchant Engagement Manager for Shopify Plus in the APAC region. Welcome, Josh.

Josh: Hey, Bushy, how are you, mate?

Nathan: Good, mate. I think my voice just broke.

Josh: Oh, wonderful. So, clearly you’re ready. You’ve done your vocal exercises this morning.

Nathan: I’ve done my vocal exercises.

Josh: Yeah.

Nathan: All right, let’s get into it. What we are here today to discuss is growth rates. And I think this is a topic very close to most retailers’ hearts. And most conferences that you go to or meet-ups that you will go to, one of the first questions; if it is not, “What your conversion rate?” it’s, “What your growth rate?” And there’s no magic answer, right?

Josh: No, there is no magic answer. I wish it was as easy as achieve 80 percent growth rate and you are on the way to success.

Nathan: I think we just lost 80 percent of our listeners right then.

Josh: Yeah, probably. Yeah.

Nathan: Okay, great. So, let’s get into it. So, I want to start just by sharing… We’ve just had results season for our larger retailers who are listed on the stock exchange and we’ve seen some really interesting results.

So, if we look at people like JB Hi-Fi, they’re up 23 percent online and we’re starting to see a lot of these retailers really highlighting their online sales growth, whereas two or three years ago, it was kind of hush hush and no one wanted to give anything away.

Josh: Yeah, yeah. Oh, totally.

Nathan: Yeah. So, they’re making a point of it, which in my mind is either one; they’re really proud of it and they’re doing great things and it’s a great way to get shareholder confidence or they’re hiding some other results.

Josh: Yeah, I think it’s a little bit of… like it’s weird to say; online is hot right now. It’s not been here for so long. But I think from a traditional retailer perspective, that maybe hasn’t been as fast on the uptake around online. Maybe things take a little bit longer and sort of a much larger base that is a traditional retailer. And so, hey, if online is going good, investors should be happy and we should be talking about this because everyone’s frothing on online and then growth rates and then all those kinds of things.

Nathan: For sure.

Josh: Yeah.

Nathan: And it could be that it’s not so much the retailers catching up; it could be that the investors are catching up to the value of online as well.

Josh: Certainly.

Nathan: We won’t throw stones yet.

Josh: No.

Nathan: But some of the big results that we have seen is JB Hi-Fi announced 23 percent up online. Super Retail Group, which owns brands such as Super Cheap Auto, BSF and Rebel Sport, were up 25 percent online across the group.

Josh: How does that compare to your growth rate, Bushy, when you’re in charge there, mate? Things picked up or they…?

Nathan: I’m not at liberty to say anything around that, Josh, you know. Paperwork was signed.

Josh: Yeah, absolutely. {indistinct 4:03}. It’s all right. I’ll find out one way or another.

Nathan: And WES Pharma is up about 33 percent. So, we’ve seen probably around the 20 to 40 percent average for the retailers that are coming out there and beating their chests a little bit about their online growth.

How does that, from a Shopify Plus perspective, where a lot of your clients are traditionally online natives and you’re getting more omni-channel and more traditional coming over? But how does a growth rate of 20 to 40 percent compare with what you’re seeing in the market?

Josh: Yeah, I mean, that’s exactly right. Most of our customers are digital native brands, right? They’ve grown up online and now they’re starting to dabble in retail. So, they’re looking at pop ups. They’re looking at starting a retail location, but not in the traditional sense of retail; that’s an entirely different conversation.

So, to give you a sense; an average e-commerce growth rate for brands doing a million dollars or more on Plus is 126 percent.

Nathan: Wow.

Josh: And so, I look at that and I go, “What are these other retailers doing to be so happy about 20 to 40 percent?” But I think there’s other things to consider there. Like these retailers we’ve mentioned JB Hi-Fi, WES Pharma, which is K-Mart and Bunnings and a bunch of others, as well as Super Retail Group, they’ve all got a very significant retail footprint, they’ve got really, really strong brands and market, they have been around for a long, long time, and People know them. And therefore, to get that kind of growth rate would be something serious is going on there if they’re kind of getting that level of growth rate; 120 percent plus.

Nathan: And I think it’s important to point out here that we’re just talking about revenue growth. We’re not talking profit. We might touch on profit a little bit later.

Josh: Yeah.

Nathan: But we’re just talking about revenue growth.

Josh: Yep, pure top line revenue. And you know what’s interesting is that, so WES Pharma’s 33 percent growth in online, Bunnings doesn’t even have their e-commerce offering out rolled out yet. What’s going to happen when that rolls out? That’s going to be interesting to sort of see how they…

Nathan: Are they going on Shopify Plus?

Josh: I cannot say anything. But no, they’re not. I cannot say anything. But no. So, yeah, like when they eventually roll that e-com offering out… And that’s kind of to my point earlier around, “How has it taken this long for that to happen?” You know, there are complex business, there’s a lot of, I mean, Jeez, the SKU Count of that business, I don’t even want to know what that is; enormous.

Nathan: All the bulky item count.

Josh: All the… Yeah, exactly. Just that this complexities they’re going to have there to kind of really make that a solid customer experience. And that’s probably why it’s taking this time. They likely wanted to take the time to make sure this is a really solid offering and they’re not just going to show up with something that’s below par and really so never get used. So, I can understand that. But that’s going to be interesting.

What’s even crazier, really quickly; this is something that I only learned about a couple of weeks ago. So, I mentioned average growth rate Shopify Plus; a million dollars or more was 126 percent. This could be a little outdated; I’m just waiting to get some fresh numbers.

But for the top 20 Plus merchants on our platform, their average growth rate is 275 percent.

Nathan: So, now you’re just flexing.

Josh: So, now we’re flexing some crazy muscle. But no, that’s phenomenal, right? This is what we’re kind of calling The New Enterprise. These are these brands that are relatively new. They’ve only been around for five, six sort of max maybe eight or 10 years and they’re just completely obsessed by end-to-end customer experience.

They’ve grown up online. They have all the right teams in place. They understand the value of building a brand. They understand about ruthless performance marketing and creating a genuine community. And these really, really massive online retailers are growing at just a rate that we just haven’t seen before.

Nathan: Do you have any stats around retailers on Shopify Plus that have been around for five plus years? Because it’s pretty easy to get stupid numbers when you’re one or two years in and you coming off a low base?

Josh: Yeah. I mean, it’s not off the top of my head and I can’t really talk to specific retailers growth rates or I’ll be taken out the back and fed up with the end of me.

But, yeah, to your point, if you are a new retailer five years, you’re going to have a higher growth rate. You’re new in the market, you’re exciting, you’re fresh.

And I actually kind of think partly this is kind of one of the reasons why we’re starting to see, again, this sort of like household brands retailer pop up, because they can have the advantage, having multiple brands and they can just let that brand run its lifecycle.

Rather than like trying to squeeze everything out of a single brand and force it, they’re able to kind of create a brand, spin it up, let it run its natural lifecycle and grow. And then sort of leverage their other brands and decide to spin up in-house, under their household brands and sort of utilize or take advantage of that growth rate.

So, yeah, I don’t have specific stats on this business has been here for 10 years and this is their growth rate, but you can kind of expect unless you’re doing something pretty phenomenal, that the competition will be heavier for those brands have been around longer and therefore their growth rates are probably starting to level out.

Nathan: So, it’s really interesting and I think the perspective that you’ve put forward is great. But I don’t totally discount those 20 to 40 percent growth rates because Australia Post released some research earlier in the year (it’s probably two or three months ago) and they found the average growth rate for Australian e-commerce is about 13 percent year-on-year growth.

Josh: Yeah.

Nathan: So, much lower than what we saw in some of those results, but minuscule compared to what you are saying. We’ve got a real divide, haven’t we, in Australia around who’s doing really well in e-commerce and who’s just trying to stay afloat?

Josh: Yes, that’s right. I mean, as we kind of said, if the average is 13 percent, you look at those larger retailers that we mentioned, they’re between 20 to 40 percent online growth. And great, that’s good; they’ve clearly beaten the average.

And, as I said, someone like JB, 5.5 percent of their sales are e-com. The average for Australia, in terms of e-com, I think is 10 percent. I think that 10 percent of all retail in Australia is online. So, you tend to have 94.5 percent of your revenue come through stores and stores that have been around for a long time and have really, really a strong branded market, online is also driving growth in store. So, it’s not purely just about, “I’m making more revenue online.”

You know, the rise of click-and-collect and these kinds of initiatives, I might not be seeing my direct revenue online growing, in terms of dollar wise, but you can sure bet that online is helping the entire growth rate for that company rise by driving customers in-store as well.

Nathan: Yeah, absolutely. And I think you touched on a really good point there is that, the online revenue, year-on-year growth is often held up as the benchmark. If not that, then conversion rate, which I really have a problem with.

But online retail this year, there was a really great session by Fiona Moylan, who’s head of e-commerce for Sure Lake, the skincare brand. And she made a really strong point around saying that she just finds it weird that retail is obsessed with year-on-year performance comparisons. And from her point of view, she goes, “Well, who cares? 12 months was a long time ago.”

Josh: Yeah. It’s a good point. A lot’s changed in 12. Yeah.

Nathan: Exactly. And it’s kind of almost a hangover from retail of yesteryear where performance is measured on same store sales and even square foot comparisons between stores.

Josh: Yeah.

Nathan: Is the year-on-year measure actually worth it anymore? Because if you look at the US, they’re quarterly results. And when they release quarterly results on Amazon or Best Buy or anyone releases quarterly results, they are heavily examined. And any shift, whether it’s total retail or online, any shift there sends share prices in different directions. So, they’re not as concerned with the year-on-year. They’re concerned quarter-to-quarter.

Josh: Totally. Yeah, I’d say that’s absolutely right. I mean, you talk about US retailer, I think on the topic of whether growth rates or top line revenue growth maybe not telling the full story; a good example of this is someone like Walmart.

So, Walmart announced this year, a 37 percent growth in online sales. If you’re looking at that purely, you’re going, “Oh, great. You’ve grown 37 percent. That sounds nice.”

What it doesn’t sort of mention or if you don’t look and compare the year before; they grew 40 percent. So, their growth rate has slowed down year-to-year. But sort of more importantly than that, there’s a lot of reports out there saying they’re projecting losses of a billion dollars in their e-com division.

And for a company that is used to printing money and last year, sort of recorded 7 billion dollars in profit, you’ve got some executives there starting to question, “Hey, is this online thing actually working? Cool, top line revenue is going up, but we’re losing a billion; it’s with a B.” So, that said, that’s a lot of money.

And so, these retailers are, you’re right, put under a lot more scrutiny. But you can’t just look at one single metric, like top line revenue, to kind of really get the sense of, “Is this business growing?”

Nathan: Yeah. Okay. So, what else should we be looking at?

Josh: Yeah. So, I mean, looking at things like operating expense, looking at some of that just look at… let’s look at bottom line, let’s look at how much profit is this business making.

And I don’t know about you, but a lot of these brands I see getting acquired and a lot of hype sort of being built up; a lot of them are losing money, but they’re doing some crazy revenue. There are some crazy acquisitions there; like Harry’s being acquired by Edge Well. So, Harry’s is the razor brand acquired by Edge Well, for 1.37 billion, but they are losing money. And you’re talking about stock prices, Edge Well stock price dropped once there was the announcement of the acquisition.

And so, this is sort of like balance between, “Do I just grow my revenue like crazy; like, do I have to think about profit? Does it come at the expense of profit?

And it seems to me that there’s this sort of feeling in the market that, “Okay, these brands don’t necessarily need to be doing profit immediately to be successful. They can grow very, very quickly and start to think about profit later on their pace. As long as they’ve got a clear plan to profitability that investors and VC’s and the like are buying into an understanding.”

Nathan: Yeah. And I think that’s a really great point, because even recently we’ve seen Deejays come out with their results and they were… profit overall fell. 42 percent profit fell, but e-commerce was still up 46 percent, which {crosstalk 14:40}.

Josh: Hey, thumbs up. We’ve grown 46 percent. How’s profit? Don’t worry about it. Well,…

Nathan: Exactly.

Josh: Yeah.

Nathan: Which headline are you going to take?

Josh: Yeah. And same as Big W. Their online sales are actually going fantastic. They’re up 128 percent year-on-year.

Josh: Wow.

Nathan: But the headlines that we saw were about closing stores, right?

Josh: Yeah, exactly.

Nathan: So, I think your point around if e-commerce is growing all by itself and not adding to the overall profit or the overall profitability of the overall retail business, it doesn’t matter how much online retail sales are up.

Josh: Yeah, that’s right. And ultimately, like these retailers are serving customers and customers are going to be deciding how they engage with you. And so, like separating talking about how good online growth is; yes, it’s a nice dimension, but ultimately, this is a retailer and today, a customer will interact with you in whatever way they want. And so, looking at that total revenue or total profitability is important. It’s not just about, “Oh, online did this and in-store did this.” Cool distinction to make, but it’s more than that.

This episode of Add To Cart is brought to you by Shopify Plus. Our friends over at Shopify Plus power some of the world’s fastest growing brands, including brands like JB Hi-Fi, Koala and a brand you may have heard a bit about, Kylie Cosmetics.

The average growth rate for Shopify Plus customers is 126 per cent, which is absolutely massive. In the lead up to Black Friday and Christmas and Peak Trading, Shopify Plus have just released a really awesome holiday pre-season playbook, which is well worth checking out. Visit shopifyplus.holiday/au. That’s shopifyplus.holiday/au to download the guide for free. You can also find the link in our show notes.

A massive thanks to Shopify Plus for being the inaugural partner of Add To Cart. Now, back to the show.

Nathan: There was two things that stood out to me in the reports that I read this year. The first was with Target in the US; I think they’re doing some phenomenal things. And by the way, I actually really like Walmart and I think we’re on different pages here with Walmart.

Josh: I think we might be.

Nathan: That’s okay. I’m a big fan of how they’re taking it to Amazon. But Target in the US was really interesting because they had 34 percent e-commerce growth. So, not phenomenal; solid, but not great.

But what they actually did is that that e-commerce growth contributed three quarters of their overall growth, but their profitability was up total 16 percent for the whole business.

And they put a lot of that down to a 90 percent reduction in costs for fulfilment. So, they moved a lot of their fulfilment to the in-store model. So, ship from store. They really amped up their click-and-collect capabilities and had a less reliance on three peels and warehousing.

Josh: Smart.

Nathan: Yeah.

Josh: Very, very smart. And I think that that’s kind of like a typical… like I’ve seen it with a few retailers, it seems to be kind of a typical model; looks like early years. We’re growing and not just thinking so much about profitability. Obviously, I think every start-up should understand their unit economics like in and out; that’s incredibly important. You don’t just want to be blind without understanding those metrics.

But there’s many retailers out there that you probably think are doing really, really well; they’re not profitable. And then they’re starting a few years in or even many years in it. This never ends; this creating that efficiency, reducing cost of goods, reducing those 3PL’s; like, “How do I get a better deal?” “How do I make this more efficient as a business to then start to go to work towards that profitability?”

So, that’s fantastic that someone like Target has gone and done that. And that that I think is a very, very common theme amongst retailers is in their later years, when they’ve got a decent brand and they’ve got really good basic customers, now it’s, “How do we deliver this experience in a more cost effective way?”

Nathan: Yeah, absolutely. The other thing that I saw retailers referring to in results was around the percentage of sales that came from club or loyalty members.

Josh: Right.

Nathan: And I think that’s a really interesting metric that’s starting to become public and starting to become valued. So, if Super Retail Group, which obviously have got some history in, those numbers are now public. And for BCF off the top of my head, I think it was over 60 percent of their sales; total sales, now came from loyal to customers.

Josh: Right. And do you think that’s a result of a better loyalty program or there’s a bit more incentive to become a club member and therefore there’s just more members or what do you think the drive behind that?

Nathan: I think there’s a few things going on there. I think that it’s easy to bring people on as club members and the team in-store are really dedicated and they understand the loyalty program and they can explain the benefits to customers. So, the store acquisition of loyalty customers is, number one, the best way to grow a loyalty database.

And secondly, there are tangible benefits to that loyalty club; a lot of it pricing, but if you actually go to the BCF website, you’ll see a lot of content and a lot of experiences that you can only get by being a member.

So, I think they’re doing a phenomenal job there in loyalty. And it’s really showing that if you can get three out of every five customers, you’ve got their details and you can measure how they’re spending over their lifetime and what they’re interested in and then start giving them that value back. That’s a phenomenal business model.

Josh: Oh, totally. And I think I see sometimes, retailers that kind of forget about that loyalty piece or they’re so focused on top of funnel and just simply getting customers into the machine or acquiring these customers that the next part of that is retaining those customers right over their lifetime and getting more revenue out of them over that lifetime, which is super key to a sustainable business if you got a repeatable purchase product.

And so, it’s like I think I’m starting to see that change a little bit with some of the retailers that I’ve worked with in the past where it’s sort of been so much about acquisition. And now, they’re starting to, as they mature, they’re starting to go, “Okay. We don’t just want to have this tap turned on and running into this funnel that is leaking; leaking customs at the bottom.”

Because you’re paying like the cost to acquire customers only six or seven times more than the cost to keep them. And so, you’ve got to make sure you’ve got a really strong retention program in there to incentivize these customers to keep coming back.

You know, that subscription model, if you can run it, is massive. You know, like we talk about metrics for our business. If you have a repeat purchase product or the products you are selling, you expect the customer to want to keep coming back and buying, if you’re not measuring your customer acquisition costs and your lifetime value and more important, the ratio between those two, you are really, really missing out and that’s something that you should be doing.

Nathan: I think so. And you touched on a really good point there. And we’ve kind of covered it, but it was all about that if you’ve got that race for acquisition, it has knock-on effects, right?

So, if you’re acquiring the right customers at a healthy profit margin versus acquiring customers to achieve growth targets at an unhealthy profit margin; which might be single figures. The knock-on effects are that you’ve obviously got higher marketing spend to get them because they’re not your core customers.

You’ve obviously got then flow-on impacts to your customer service team. You’ve got cash flow problem because you’re trying to shift more stock and making sure that that the timing is right. So, your cash is held up in other ways.

So, it has all these other flow-on effects, if you’re a really high volume, low margin business as opposed to positioning itself as a high profit, lower volume. It just kind of can create a loop of pain.

Josh: Yes, 100 percent. And that’s why I kind of mentioned before that lifetime value to customer acquisition ratio. If you can look at that and if you start to go, “Okay, I’ve just spend one hundred bucks to acquire this customer and they are only going to make me a hundred dollars in their lifetime.” I don’t think your business is going to be around too long. That’s going to plateau out; you’re going to have to have different ways to grow unless you can effectively value add that customer over time.

But that’s where you… like I think a baseline for most return, repeat purchase businesses is looking like a three or four to one ratio. You know, if you’re earning three times the amount in profit from acquiring a customer, I think you’re in a pretty good place.

If you’re earning much more than that, it’s probably saying, “Hey, you might be underinvesting here in customer acquisition. Maybe you can probably grow faster or grow more.”

Then if you’re sort of under that, it’s like, “Are you just pouring too much into bad customer acquisition tactics and channels and should you be trying to maybe cut that spend back and then look at where that leak is broken or post acquisition, what’s not working there?”

Nathan: Yeah.

Josh: So, that’s the super important thing to figure out.

Nathan: So, it’s just not like customer lifetime value, because it is a scary topic for many people because there is lots of software and lots of programs out there that promise the world around customer lifetime value, about cracking it and being able to send triggers and alert you when people are about to churn or whatever it is. It actually doesn’t have to be that complicated, does it, to get an idea on how your tracking in terms of lifetime value of customer.

Josh: No, like not at all. And there are so many different ways to try and calculate customer lifetime value, as you kind of said, and each is more complex than the other. And it does depend on your business model, but keep it really simple. Just keep it ever really simple metric. And then the key to that is use that same metric over and over again so you can see the trend.

If you start to change that over time, you’re going to change your data. You’re not going to be to see the trend. If you keep the same calculation for customer lifetime value and you can do this really simply, then that will allow you to see a trend and that’s what’s most important. Not so much, “I need to have the most perfect understanding of my customer lifetime value”, that is something that even the biggest retailers are still chasing and still getting wrong.

So, just have a nice simple metric and then keep that consistent and you should start to see the benefits from that.

Nathan: So, at its most basic level, if you did it on a yearly level, you could have all your revenue divided by the total number of unique customers as a starting point.

Josh: Yeah, totally. Or something like, “What’s my average cost per sale or average order value?” times by, “How many times does this customer purchase from me on average per year?”

Nathan: Yeah.

Josh: And obviously, factoring in your margin there. So, you’re looking at it from a profit perspective. That’s going to give you a very basic understanding. And then just simply looking at your acquisition cost to counter that, so you’ll understand like very basically, on average, “How much am I spending across these acquisition channels?”

You might factor in, if you want to get fancy, like, “How much am I paying for staff or for my marketing staff or agency heads, those kind of things?”

But just keep it simple to start. You don’t want overcomplicate it.

Nathan: It’s just turning into a PNL then, right?

Josh: Yeah, I mean, that’s important. You should, I think, yeah. {indistinct 25:46} with the PNL. PNL focus is very important, but if you’re starting out, if you don’t know where to begin, keep it very simple and keep it consistent. And then you can always start to overhaul that aspect a year or so down the track.

And it’s going to take time to get the good data. Like, it depends on your product. It might take a couple of years to get some really, really solid data in there and understand your customers truly. So, that’s also an important consideration to make.

Like I’m only going to buy a bottle of wine much more readily than I’ll buy a mattress or something like that. So, that’s important to consider as well.

Nathan: Yeah. And I think that’s a really good point. So, brands like Koala, even clients like All Birds.

Josh: Yeah.

Nathan: They have phenomenal brands and their customers are truly passionate about them, but they’re not buying product every month or even every year, potentially if you’re koala, right?

So, how do you measure, if you go, “Actually, customer lifetime value might not be that great for us, but we have brand love and we know that as soon as that person is in the market for something that’s in our realm, that we’re going to be top of that list.” How do you measure that?

Josh: Yeah, that’s absolutely right. You know, someone like Koala, initially when they were just doing mattresses, customer lifetime value isn’t super useful for them. I’m going to buy a mattress. I might come back and buy one for a mate, but really, there’s not a lot of repeat purchase there once you’re a single SKU company.

Now, as someone like Koala starts to expand their product range and we’re seeing that with the sofa now, they’re about to drop a whole bunch more products by the end of this year, which is super exciting. And so, now the customer lifetime value metric starts become more interesting and more valuable because now I might have someone coming to buy a sofa and now I can start to cross-sell or upsell and get them to come back and buy the rest of those products to complete the house.

So, that’s an interesting aspect. All birds you touched on, you’d compare All Birds, I could have a couple of pairs of All Birds. Now, All Birds are selling socks. And I find that very side point very interesting because one of the big selling points of All Birds initially was, “The shoes you don’t need socks for.” And now, what are they doing? They’re selling you socks, “Because we need some more. We’re starting to probably level out in terms of our revenue. So, we need to have that product there.”

Nathan: And how many pairs of you bought?

Josh: Yeah, I bought zero, I got one pair of orbits. There’s actually a store just opened up in Auckland, which I haven’t checked out yet, but I plan to next week. But yeah, the socks was an interesting one for me just so to say that; probably not.

But yeah, like in terms of metrics, like if you’re sort of single SKU, I would kind of argue that point; conversion rate is a more important metric. It’s a one-off purchase typically, so you try to maximize it as much as possible.

Things like contribution margin. “How much am I making?” “How much is this product costing me?” “How much is the business making?” That’s an important metric. But yeah, look, that’s why you start to see retailers that start off with a single product, they will either be able to grow through and go into different markets, done untapped customers in different markets, or you’ll start to see them expand that product offering in order to enable their growth because VC’s want to continue to see growth. So, if you find a buyer VC, they want to keep seeing those numbers going up. You’re going to be feeling the pinch and you’ve got to find another way to increase that growth.

Nathan: You touched on conversion right there, and I think that’s a really interesting topic, especially with you coming mainly from an online perspective and my background being more omni-channel perspective.

I used to get really frustrated (and I still do) around people in omni-channel businesses talking or obsessing around conversion rate. Because for me, if I look at the role of the website, absolutely conversion is a key one and we want to get people through that checkout.

But there’s a variety of reasons people can come to a website, especially when you’ve got 100 plus stores. So, for me, if people are coming on to check store opening hours, they don’t put anything in their cart; don’t intend to, but they still get the information they need. That’s a successful visit.

Josh: Oh, totally. Yeah. You have to be building in those other touch points into the website and tracking them. So, you might say, “Okay, a click on ‘Store Hours’ is worth X and then a click on the phone number to call the store is worth a little bit more.” And you can start to get a bit of a model around these valuable touch points on the site that you can then sort of say, “Sure, our conversion rate might be 2 percent, 3 percent, but you’re right, that is not the only thing that you should be obsessing over.” I agree with you; that is a big mistake that some online retailers do make, especially if you do have multiple channels like stores.

Nathan: I once ran an experiment where I go to research company. And I said, “Can you just go and stand outside about 10 of our stores? And I said, “As people come out with their bags, just ask them if they looked at that product online before they came into store.

Josh: I remember you doing this, actually. Yeah.

Nathan: It was the most manual research ever, but it was to get to those assumption numbers that you’re talking about to kind of go, “Click to visit the store or product page review is worth this.”

And it worked out. I can’t the exact numbers off the top of my head, but it was something like six or seven in ten customers that walked out of that store was looking at that product online before coming in and they were visiting our website before.

So, even though our e-commerce numbers may have been single digit percentage to overall sales, the actual value of the website was much higher as the most powerful marketing tool we’ve got across the business to drive people in-store or online, because from my point of view, I didn’t care as long as they were buying.

Josh: Exactly. And that’s early in the day. But as a retailer, it is about sales and how much you’re getting through the door. And I love that you went out and did that very manual research because I don’t think a lot of people would go and do that. And that’s very, very valuable to understand the bigger picture.

So, yeah, massive hats off for you to go and to implement that. Did you ask me a question? This always interest me. So, you asked, “Did you go and view this product on the site?” Did you also ask, “Did you just go and do this product in a search engine like Google? And then how many sites did you go to before deciding to come into our store?”

Nathan: We didn’t go down that far. But I think it’s a really good question and would be really interesting. I think I was just hell-bent on proving a point.

Josh: Yeah, good. Yeah. You’ve got some directives that your guide now and to prove this to you. Yeah, good. Good on you, mate.

Nathan: So, I think we’ve started off here talking about growth, in terms of a revenue perspective and we’ve also talked about profit. We’ve talked about customer lifetime value. We’ve talked around operational efficiency and we’ve talked about giving it to the total retail pie.

If you’re sitting down, if you’re the owner of an e-commerce business and someone said to you, “What’s the one metric that will tell you if your business is going well?” Where would you put your money?

Josh: Jeez. That’s a very nice on the spot question. Thank you.

Nathan: That’s lucky because I’ve spoon-fed you everything else.

Josh: Oh, yeah, totally. Yeah. The telephone has been very helpful. Thank you. Jeez, I don’t know. Again, I’d been looking at things like if you are a big purchase business, I would be looking at lifetime value in acquisition costs and the ratio between those two. I think for me, those are just so central to any e-com business that has that repeat purchase model built in.

But I think, probably, broader than that, touching on, you know, there are so many metrics that a business can keep across and that can be incredibly overwhelming.

You know, there is a new… you might read in a blog article tomorrow about this new little known metric that the biggest brands are tracking now and you should do this and that. You know, as a smaller retailer, that can be quite daunting.

And so, I think you really do need to pick one top line metric and whether that be lifetime value in and the ratio between that and acquisition cost or whether it just be like total number of new customers join this month or whatever that means to you and your business. Keep that as your sort of North Star and your number one goal. And then have maybe two or three, maybe four sub-metrics that you kind of just keep an eye on and keep it simple like that.

There’s always going to be deeper dives you can do. You know, at some point, you’re going to be hopefully hiring someone to actually mine this data for you and actually present that data in a really meaningful way, once you’ve actually got a really good data infrastructure at your company.

This is another side topic, but I hear a lot of, “Should I hire a data scientist?” and I say, “Yeah, do you actually have really good clean data and a good infrastructure for them to work off? Because if you don’t, then there’s no point in hiring a data scientist that is going to be twiddling their thumbs.”

Nathan: Or another question; it’s good when I ask that is go, “Is anyone looking at your Google analytics?”

Josh: Yeah. And then they go, “What’s Google Analytics?” And I sort of like just throw the phone away. But, yeah. So, have one really sort of top level North Star metric that you want to keep track of and that’s sort of everyone in the business is aware of and like report on that. Like have a town hall with your team like every week or every two weeks and sort of share how the whole company is progressing towards the sort of top line metric.

And then maybe sub-teams have their own little metrics, so they follow as well. If you’re a larger org, like that can be a really pretty powerful way to kind of keep focus. But it has to be suited to your particular business model.

Nathan: I really like that advice. I think that’s really great. Have a North Star and then a couple of metrics, three or four metrics, that really give an indication on what might be contributing to that without giving the full story.

And if you set a challenge for yourself, if you use Google Data Studio and obviously that can pull in Google analytics, but all other sources as well. If you give yourself a challenge of, “How do I create a one-pager that can give me a pulse check on how we’re tracking right now?”

It doesn’t have to explain everything, but I can go, “Oh, we are in a good place or a bad place and what may be contributing to it?

If you can create a one-page without squinting, you’ve probably got the right metrics, right?

Josh: Yeah, exactly. And I like that one-pager like I think at Shopify, we have a rule where I think {indistinct 35:53} sort of says, “If there’s a brief that’s more than three pages, I’m not reading it.” Like keep it simple, keep it succinct and to the point and that’s the same sort of with anything really. Like if you want to get some traction internally or keep people interested, keep that succinct, keep it to a one-pager or a single-page in Data Studio for using something like that, which is a great tool. So, yeah, it’s super good advice.

Nathan: Awesome. Well, thank you, mate. I’ve really enjoyed where we’ve gone with this. We’ve started off with revenue and we’ve gone through all these other metrics to talk about the pros and cons. And I think we’ve landed in a good place in that it all comes back to the customer and that it’s got to be long term; we can’t chase sales that are short term because it will come back and bite you in ways that aren’t sustainable.

Josh: Yeah.

Nathan: And if you’re just chasing those numbers to impress other people, you’ve really got to take the moment to go, “Are we doing the right thing in the interests of our customers, our team and our investors as well?”

Josh: Yeah.

Nathan: So, thank you, mate. I really appreciate your insights and some of the examples you’ve given us from a Shopify point of view.

Josh: No worries at all.

Nathan: And hopefully it’s been valuable to everyone.

Josh: Thanks so much, mate. Appreciate it. Always happy to come on.

So, there we go. Episode 1 of Add To Cart done and dusted. Thanks again to Josh Newport for being such a fantastic guest and sharing so much of his knowledge. And thank you to Shopify Plus for getting on board Episode 1 as our very first partner.

We hope you guys learned a lot today. Please give us feedback. We’d really love to hear from you. What do you want to know? What you want to ask our guest? We got some really exciting people coming up.

So, shoot me any feedback or questions to nathan@12high.com.au (1-2-H-I-G-H.com.au). I’d love to hear from you. See you next time.

Oh, and apparently this is the part where I’m meant to ask for a rating or review from you, but we’re Episode 1. So, what I’d really love instead of that is if you can just share it with your friends or colleagues; anyone who might get value from it.

The more feedback we can get, the better we can make it. We’ll be here for a long time. Cheers, guys.

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 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 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,


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