Fifty (50) per cent of Australians prefer to shop online where possible, according to a report released today by the Australian Digital Transformation Lab, a joint venture between Capgemini Australia and Sydney University.

The report on digital commerce in Australia stated that Australian retailers must be involved in online execution — providing information and allowing purchases online ­­ — but, those that are, let themselves down when it comes to engaging with customers across social media, forums and a retailer’s own digital spaces.

“While digital execution has almost become a strategic necessity, engagement is now where the game is being played,” the report stated.

Why? Because the convenience of buying a product online isn’t enough to build loyalty and customers can be easily lost if purchase decisions are driven solely by the desire to find the lowest price.

The report urged Australian retailers to “stand out from the crowd by drawing on a range of digital commerce features to engage with their customers on a more personalised level.”

Engagement is about building an effective customer base, using customer data effectively and achieving profitability through repeat purchases, cross –selling and up-selling.

Here are some tips from the report for building strong relationships with consumers online:

  • Coordinate a strategy across all channels (website, in-store, social media) as well as collect, store and analyse customer data (capturing user browsing, buying and communication activities).
  • Make sure the online business complements the bricks and mortar store by providing online information on in-store offerings as well as logistical support for product pick-ups and returns.
  • A successful online presence must be more than just product information and enabling online shopping transactions. Create an ‘information rich experience’ with digital commerce platforms that can contain text, images, videos, and sound to provide a compelling user experience.
  • While many retailers use social media to engage with customers, best practice retailers have created avenues for customers to proactively engage with the company and with each other via customer reviews, ratings, and other forms of user-generated content.
  • Customer reviews and ratings encourage customer involvement and increases loyalty, total spend and repeat business. This kind of engagement taps into customers’ enthusiasm to become viral marketers through word of mouth.
  • Tailor online content to address the preferences of individual users. For example, provide product recommendations, based on previous purchase to increase opportunities for cross- and up-selling.