Yesterday, A•STAR and a group of WMBB attendees were lucky enough to experience a private tour of the headquarters of THE ICONIC.
Thanks to our wonderful presenters not only did we get a behind-the-scenes look at one of the largest clothing retailers in Australia, we also scored a unique insight into how large e-commerce companies like THE ICONIC function.
So let’s break down what we discovered, shall we?
What is e-commerce, exactly?
This one isn’t too hard: it’s basically what it says on the tin. E-commerce – or “electronic commerce” – is the trading of goods and services over the Internet.
How does e-commerce work?
This question sounds like it should be easy: after all, isn’t it just a matter of plonking what you want to sell on a website and waiting for the cash to start rolling in?
Of course, you could just do that. But in order to maximise those returns, you need to do some other things first. But what are these things?
Step 1: Assess the market
Do people actually want what you’re selling? If so, great! But how many other people are selling the same things that you want to sell? How are they doing it? Which companies are doing better, and which are doing worse? Why might this be the case?
These are the sorts of questions new online businesses need to ask themselves before they start trading. You want to be similar enough to your competitors that people know what you are and how you operate, but you also need something that differentiates you from them; some kind of killer feature.
For instance, in the case of THE ICONIC, they offer same-day delivery! Something no other company on the Australian east coast offers.
Step 2: Make sure you have nice stuff
You also need to make sure that what you’re selling isn’t a) complete junk and b) embarrassingly out of date. With that in mind, you need to make sure that either you or someone in your staff is responsible for quality control of your inventory.
This is the responsibility of buyers: they decide not only what a brand keeps in stock, but also makes sure that that stock is within the themes and brand guidelines that you’ve established. After that, they then track which items do particularly well or particularly poorly – data which then informs later decisions.
Step 3: Make sure your advertising is on-point
Okay, so you’ve established that people want what you’re selling, and that you have some kind of service that differentiates you from your competition. Great! Now you just need to sell the stuff.
Once upon a time, companies used to advertise in magazines to get the word out, like the utterly inexplicable ad for 7-Up above. However, with social media the whole landscape has changed: instead of magazine ads, things like Facebook and Instagram start to become a whole lot more important.
This is why THE ICONIC has aggressively cultivated followers on social media, with nearly 600,000 Facebook fans and more than 140,000 followers on Instagram. Direct marketing, baby.
Step 4: Develop an app, and make sure it works
This is a big one: given that your goal is to make buying things online as easy as possible, building an app that facilitates the buying of said things is hugely important. This app needs to be able to host images (and maybe video), as well as providing all relevant product details.
Customers don’t want to have to enter in vast amounts of information to buy something; with a dedicated app, one-click shopping becomes a reality. You want to be able to maximise what is called your conversion rate: that is, the number of people looking at the catalogue who end up buying something.
Cool, right? Turns out it’s not quite as easy as plonking it on a website and watching the money roll in, after all.
Massive thanks to Kirsteen Tolentino, Prasad Shringapure, Chris Simpson, and Toni Baston for speaking to us! It was definitely an eye-opening experience.