“…we’ve got the data we’ve got the evidence and we’ve kind of got a bit more of an understanding of what these new rules of the game kind of are.”

Add To Cart Podcast
Episode 27


In this episode of Add To Cart, we are re-joined by Kate Collinson, eCommerce consultant & growth marketer and Craig Somerville, Managing Director of digital marketing agency Reload Media.  It has been six months since we first met with these two for an insider’s take on Australian eCommerce in the time of COVID and we are due for an update.  This chat includes tips on how retailers should approach the latter part of 2020, Black Friday included eCommerce growth predictions for 2021 and a discussion of the most innovative Covid-inspired pivots our guests have seen.  If you’re an Aussie retailer struggling to make sense of a COVID-impacted world, this one’s for you.

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Questions answered in this episode include

  • Is the online growth we’ve seen as a result of COVID going to continue?
  • What have been the most innovative responses you’ve seen during this crisis?
  • What three things should eComm departments invest in going forward?

What has changed since March?

Kate shares that there have been lots of changes since March and the impacts of the global crisis remain industry-specific. Businesses have started learning to live with it and some brands will continue to battle with it for a bit more.

Craig says that while it’s been tough responding to everything that’s changing every single day, he feels that businesses including his own are yet to see the worst of the economic crisis. 

The difference since March is that business owners and marketers now understand the rules of the game far better. Depending on the stage of the lockdown implemented in a specific city/state, marketers and businesses already have an idea of how consumers might behave or respond. 

The growth sustainability of the online purchasing trend in Australia

According to Craig, the growth itself is not sustainable, but the behaviour shift probably is. Many businesses have seen a fast-forward in digital adaptation and eCommerce adaptation. Recent studies also suggest that consumers are not going to reverse those behaviours. 

While there has been significant growth in online purchasing, Kate believes that Australian eCommerce will continue to be left behind by the US and the UK, given how spread out the locations are and the price of logistics in these areas. 

Craig agrees that Australia will always trail behind the US and the European markets. He says that it has been the trend for the past 25 years and it will not shift anytime soon because of COVID alone.

Kate added that it’s not a bad thing that eCommerce shopping does not become the preferred way to shop, given that actively going shopping is an experience in itself and that’s never going to go away. People will always want to be able to touch and feel different types of products that they are purchasing. 

The most innovative responses they have seen

For Craig, he has not seen much from the big retail companies. What surprised him was seeing so many rapid innovative responses from the SME segment. He has seen wineries stepping away from weddings/functions and moving to become a genuine online retailer in a short time, as well as venues creating virtual events and traditional retailers launching eCommerce or “click and collect” services.

According to Kate, restaurants have done a good job at pivoting this time when people can’t eat out. These innovations brought joy to people, especially in Melbourne, to be able to experience beautiful food in their homes. While the ideas are good, she can’t see it becoming a trend after the lockdown is lifted in Melbourne.

She discovered one staging company who had an ingenious idea to start building flat-pack office furniture to use for working at home / home-schooling.  She also shared that it might be the advent of “zoom parties” where people can join or listen to product presentations and marketing without feeling uncomfortable.

Both parties also agree that booking appointments for retail might become a thing even after COVID, especially for industries like fashion, automotive, etc. with people starting to realise how valuable their time is. It is also a unique service that provides customers with the comfort of knowing that a spot is booked for them and there will be someone who can cater to their needs.

Top Three eComm investments now:

For Craig

  1. Digital transformation

Brands must look into improving their inventory management, ERP planning, and CRM systems. He says that throughout the crisis, he has seen several brands that have done lots of work in getting their digital infrastructure in place to keep up with the changes.

  1. Virtual and digital customer service experience

New product launches or just new ways to launch particular things will be helpful. Because of the changes, brands need to think of things that used to happen face-to-face and how they can give it a digital version that will work well on mobile devices, tablets, and desktop.

  1. Keep marketing

Rules are going to keep changing and businesses are going to see more economic changes moving forward.  Brands need to start doing a whole range of things and keep trying new things to keep up with the changes in the market.

For Kate

  1. 3rd Party logistics and automation with inventory and communication.

Logistics will continue to change as eCommerce grows in Australia. Brands must ensure that they have reliable 3PL to fulfill the demands of the customers.

  1. Customer Service

As people spend less time buying in stores, they’re going to expect the same level of customer service they get in-store, online. Businesses must look into investing in customer service platforms to make sure that they can respond to customers in a timely and sufficient manner.

  1. Physical stores

There might be opportunities to either acquire a short-term pop-up or something to showcase products in person after the lockdown.

About your co-hosts:

Kate Collinson from Kate Collinson Digital Consulting 

Kate is an eCommerce consultant & growth marketer specialising in Shopify & Shopify Plus with a decade’s experience in eCommerce. She’s often called a “digital Swiss army knife” by clients, with a wide skillset spanning data & analytics, digital and platform strategy, paid media and customer lifecycle marketing.  She works with retailers including Nimble Activewear, The Daily Edited and Steele label.  You can contact Kate on LinkedIn

Craig Somerville from Reload Media

Craig is the Managing Director of digital marketing agency Reload Media, a multi-national agency with offices in London, Brisbane and Manila. Craig’s worked with some of the world’s leading brands on all aspects of their digital marketing, and is a regular industry speaker at events such as Online Retailer and Shopify Unite.  You can contact Craig on LinkedIn

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.

If you missed their first conversation with Nathan, you may revisit the episode on The Impacts of COVID-19 on Australian eCommerce to have a better understanding of today’s episode.

Please contact us if you:

  • Want to come on board as an Add To Cart 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

Email hello@addtocart.com.au. We look forward to hearing from you!

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