Archive for July, 2014

Visa aims to make online checkout easier in Australia

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014
Photo courtesy of on Flickr

Photo courtesy of on Flickr

Visa has unveiled a new system for using the card during online checkouts that the company hopes will cut down on abandoned online shopping carts.

The new service, called Visa Checkout, allows people to sign up with Visa credit and debit cards, as well as other branded cards, and enter their card information just once. Then they will be able pay for things via Visa by only entering their username and password at participating sites.

The service is currently being offered in Australia, Canada and the U.S.

As more customers shop on smaller screens like smartphones and tablets, the hassle of entering in credit card numbers and billing addresses is becoming a sticking point and payment processors have been working to find ways to simplify the process.

To read more about this story, click here.

Australia ranked as best place to do online business

Monday, July 28th, 2014
Photo credit; Marc Falardeau on Flickr

Photo credit; Marc Falardeau on Flickr

Australia is the best country to do ­business over the internet, the e-Trade Readiness Index shows.

The index, compiled by eBay and The Economist intelligence unit, ranks Group of 20 countries’ internet-enabled trade. Because the European Union is treated as a separate entity, 19 countries are ranked in this particular index and Australia has the highest e-trade ranking out of those 19.

Rounding out the top five are the United States, South Korea, Britain and Japan respectively. The lowest ranked is Argentina.

Australia topped the list because of:

  • affordable internet access,
  • high smartphone penetration,
  • a well- ­developed regulatory framework and
  • high e-payments adoption.

The index comprises more than 40 indicators across five categories:

  • investment climate,
  • internet environment,
  • international trading environment,
  • regulatory and legal framework, and
  • the environment for e-payments.

The categories are weighted based on The Economist intelligence unit’s assumptions of their importance in cross-border trade using the internet.

However, the report also says that customs and regulation restrictions may hinder the growth of small and ­medium-sized businesses.

To read more on this story, click here.

Australian retailers not doing enough online engagement with customers: report

Friday, July 25th, 2014
Photo courtesy of Anna Ulanova on Flickr

Photo courtesy of Anna Ulanova on Flickr

Australian retailers are at risk of losing customers to overseas online competitors if they don’t start engaging customers online more, a report from the University of Sydney said.

The Australian Digital Commerce report, conducted by the University of Sydney’s Business School in conjunction with consulting firm Capgemini Australia shows almost 40% of Aussie retailers are failing to fully engage with customers online despite the fact that online retail sales have soared to $15.25 billion in Australian recently.

The report goes on to say 38% of all Australian retailers are classified as ‘laggards’ who show poor implementation of digital commerce execution and engagement.

Only 26% of Australian retailers fit into the ‘high achiever’ category alongside international market leaders. This means they displayed excellence in both online execution and engagement.

The report defines digital execution as the provision of information and facilities to purchase online while digital engagement is defined as interaction with customers across social media, forums and a retailer’s own digital spaces.

“We found that among Australian retailers, the relational dimension (building of lasting relationships with customers for repeat purchases) is by far the least developed,” said the report’s authors.

“This was also where the largest gap with international market leaders occurred.”

Brian Walker, chief executive and founder of the Retail Doctor Group, said Australian retailers have been slow to take up digital commerce, but this is changing.

“Every retailer in the county has a website now, but in many cases they are static and not used for trading,” said Walker. “But that is changing at a rapid rate.”

Walker said while digital commerce only accounts for 6-8% of the total retail transactions in Australia, some sectors are experiencing growth above 15%.

Aussie SME has dire warning for other small businesses about ‘merchant chargebacks’

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014
Photo courtesy of on Flickr

Photo courtesy of on Flickr

While the old axiom may be Caveat emptor (buyer beware), in this day and age Caveat vendor, (seller beware) is becoming more common.

One Australian businesswoman learned that the hard way. In fact, she ended up calling it quits and selling her business over it.

Graphic Designer Diane Kennedy is issuing a warning to all small businesses who do business with international customers not to accept payment on credit cards lest they get hit with a ‘merchant chargeback’ like she did.

Kennedy had done work on a website and logo for an American client. She had received a $2,500 deposit from the client, which was paid by Visa, and was to receive an additional $2,500 once the work was completed, plus her third-party web developer was to also receive $2,500 from the American client.

However, just days before the website was to go live, the American client and Kennedy had a minor dispute, causing the client to refuse to pay her for the work and issue a merchant chargeback on the $2,500 deposit.

A ‘chargeback’ describes a bank’s process of debiting a merchant’s bank account with an amount of a transaction that had previously been credited, in this case, the $2,500 deposit.

Originally, chargebacks were created to protect consumers from dishonest merchants, but Kennedy is warning dishonest business customers are exploiting it now because banks and credit card companies seem to always vote in their favour.

For the entire project, Kennedy said, communication between her and the client was great, but that all changed when the contract was coming to a close.

“She said the manner I used was rude and she wouldn’t pay a cent and wanted her money back,” Kennedy said. “There had been no indication before this that she was unhappy. She’d said, ‘I love the concept, you’re doing a great job’.”

After that exchange, the client then issued a merchant chargeback on her Visa via the US PayPal office for the deposit she had given Kennedy.

A few days after that, the website went live with Kennedy’s and her developer’s (unpaid) work appearing on the site.

“She then pulled down the site, locked us out, and then copied the site with an offshore developer in a third world country keeping the code,” Kennedy said. “My developer checked, the entire source code is the same [on the new website].”

Kennedy contacted Visa about undoing the chargeback, but the credit provider decided Kennedy’s client had never received any goods or services from her and therefore they would not be reversing it.

“Visa decides in the cardholder’s favour every time,” said Kennedy. “Merchants have no right with credit card transactions, even if you can show it’s legitimate.”

Kennedy said she thoroughly documented all the work done and all the transactions between her and the client and she’s sent all the documentation to Visa, but is not expecting any help from the credit card company.

She has since sold her business, Blossom Graphic Design, to an unrelated party, saying it was more the emotional stress rather than the debt that made her want to get out of the business.

Kennedy says she has since found online groups of merchants which have experienced similar issues with chargebacks and are petitioning banks to review and reform their practices.

She said she recommends merchants who are selling products or services to overseas customers to only accept bank transfers as payments rather than credit card payments to better protect themselves from this type of scamming.

Australian big businesses increasingly working with startups

Monday, July 21st, 2014
Photo courtesy of Mike on Flickr

Photo courtesy of Mike on Flickr

Business Insider Australia says big businesses are starting to work with startups more and more because they can no longer afford to ignore the new technology and innovation that these small companies bring to the table.

Large corporations, like the big banks and telcos, are realising that the experimental and disruptive technologies startups often utilise can be used to satisfy consumer demands and take market share away from competitors.

Startup accelerators such as Pollenizer are cashing in on managing the changing relationship between startups and big business

“The whole thing is coming full circle,” Pollenizer CEO Phil Morle said, adding startups can grow from their dealings with big business and corporations can learn from the entrepreneurship of startups.

“We can’t be reactive anymore,” Morle said. “You have to almost industrialise the creation of new business without knowing what they are.”

Some of Australia’s biggest corporations including Telstra and Coca-Cola Amatil are working with startups because the risk of ignoring the technology and innovative ideas the small companies produce is too high.

Telstra boss David Thodey recently said if startups aren’t supported Australia will lose talent and good ideas and the telco has backed up Thodey’s words by launching its own tech startup accelerator Muru Digital to harness and develop a group of the country’s startups.

To read more about this story, click here.

Booktopia goes from $10 budget to $40 million business

Friday, July 18th, 2014
Photo courtesy of Alan Levine on Flickr

Photo courtesy of Alan Levine on Flickr

Online book seller Booktopia has been heralded as Australia’s Amazon.

The Sydney-based business started 10 years ago with a $10 per day budget as a side hobby for CEO and founder Tony Nash and now turns over $40 million per year.

Nash, a web marketer, said Booktopia first started in 2004 as an “evening side project” with his brother Simon Nash, sister Elana Traurig and brother-in-law Steve Traurig.

“I started my first internet business 18 years ago and we (the family group) had been running companies together,” he said. “For the first three years, we used another company to manage our website, because we never thought it’d be anything.”

Three years later, Nash said, they bought some shelves on eBay, rented a 60sm m site in North Sydney and started managing Booktopia themselves.

Since that time, it’s grown by leaps and bounds and now has a huge warehouse full of stock and welcomes Australia’s biggest authors in for book signings.

To read more on this story, click here.

WooThemes introduces WooCommerce iPhone app

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

best-WooCommerceplugins-logoWooThemes has released an iPhone App for its merchant users.

WooCommerce iOS is designed to let you see detailed product information, customer orders, specific order details, and a range of statistical data illustrating your store’s sales performance – all from your iOS device.

You can download the app from the App Store for $4.99, connect it to your WooCommerce store by logging in, and your orders and products will be automatically imported and synced.

Features include:

  • See your total revenue, number of new orders/customers, and top sellers
  • Get insight into trends by checking your numbers for Today, the last 7 days, or the current month
  • Get a quick count of your open orders (processing/pending/held)
  • Quickly see a list of all orders with customer name, order number, status, and date
  • Scroll through orders and easily search them by customer name
  • See the summary for an order, with customer info, order status, products, and payment/shipping details
  • View order notes to help you see the history for an order
  • For registered customers, you can see previous orders and their lifetime order total
  • See a complete list of all your products with name and thumbnail
  • Quickly search your products by name
  • See full product details including inventory and variations
  • Add up to 4 separate WooCommerce stores
  • Easily switch between your stores using the side menu
  • Delete shops you’re no longer using

Planned updates include: editing & managing orders, individual customer views, Push Notifications for new orders, and more.

Brisbane Times reveals 11 biggest ecommerce mistakes

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
Photo courtesy of Terrance Heath on Flickr

Photo courtesy of Terrance Heath on Flickr

The Brisbane Times has published a list of the 11 biggest mistakes e-commerce sites make. Heed these warnings:

1. Having Complex Functionality

The best sites should be structured so absolutely no thinking is necessary when navigating through, including minimal steps between product viewing and purchase.

2. Having Poor Site Appearance

A busy, confusing, or ad-strewn site poses functionality issues and isn’t a particularly professional front for a business expecting customers to leave sensitive credit card details. A beautiful website that makes for easy shopping and security will ensure customers are happy.

3. Not Having Compatibility with Mobile and Tablet

Digital retailers must accommodate a range of customers across diverse platforms and employ a website design that is fast loading for mobiles as well as desktop computers.

4. Having Unexpected Fees and Shipping Costs

The number one reason customers abandon their shopping cart is unexpected costs added to their purchase, such as GST, insurance and high shipping fees. Free delivery can be the defining feature that sets a site apart from direct competitors. While free shipping is undoubtedly a huge attraction, shoppers will generally concede to a shipping fee if they feel it is reflective of the product and level of service. A tracking number is also a plus.

5. Overly Long Product and Lack of Customer Reviews

Long-winded product descriptions can turn off shoppers. Pairing concise, keyword-rich descriptions with customer reviews, and even stats on how many times the item has been previously bought, is a good way to reassure customers. A unique product description, rather than that composed by the manufacturer, can also ensure a higher ranking on internet search engines.

6. Having Poor Search Capability

Faceted search — a function that allows users to apply a range of filters to explore information — enhances customer power and control by making it easier for them to home in on the products they are most interested in. Typo-sensitive search also increases the likelihood that a clumsy-fingered user will still see results that best match what they’re looking for.

7. Convoluted Checkout Procedures and Customer Accounts

Forcing a buyer to create an account and enter personal details at the checkout has obvious benefits for the retailer, but it is likely to cause frustration among shoppers who want an instant transaction. Features such as single sign-on, automated saving of a customer’s details, and the option for “guest checkout” transactions that don’t require the creation of a password quicken and enhance the shopping experience.

8. Lack of Social Media Integration

If you’re not posting, instagraming, pinning or tweeting, you’re just not competing. But more than posting a photo, social media should be used to generate positive dialogue among customers and aid the transaction process by facilitating direct contact between the company and consumer. All retailers should have an effective communications policy in place, especially for when customers turn to social media to complain.

9. Poor Quality Images and Zoom Function

Grainy photos or poor zoom function are easy ways to lose a sale, as customers can’t see the detail in the craftsmanship. Instead, use clear, high quality photos.

10. Believing the Transaction is Complete After the Order is Placed

Another golden rule of running an online business is realising that the shopping experience isn’t over when the customer clicks “buy”. Don’t neglect functions such as: recommended “buy next” options, live purchase stats (for instance, five people bought this in the last hour), or prompts for low stock in a “watched” item.

11. Having Ineffective Customer Service

One of the cornerstones of face-to-face retail is good customer service, and this still applies online. Ensuring the product over delivers, that delivery service is on time, and that phone, email and live chat service staff are friendly and helpful, will usually ensure a positive customer response even if something goes wrong.

To read more on this story, click here.

Oak Flats woman busted for dodgy online business practices

Monday, July 14th, 2014
Photo courtesy of Widjaya Ivan on Flickr

Photo courtesy of Widjaya Ivan on Flickr

Roselyn Joy Wilson, formerly of Oak Flats, New South Wales, has been fined $6,510 by Fair Trading and ordered to pay a total $11,120 compensation to six customers for scamming them via her fake internet business.

Dozens of customers complained about not receiving generators purchased from Wilson’s online business, Quality Direct Pty Ltd.

The fake online business,, purported to sell generators at a discounted price, provided customers pay for goods upfront.

At least six customers were ripped off between February and June, 2012, after they deposited sums of almost $2000 each into an account but received no generators.

“Consumers were left high and dry by [Wilson], who simply stopped taking calls from frustrated people demanding to know when their generator would be delivered,” Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe said.

“It appears [she] had no intention of supplying the goods she received payment for and she then failed to co-operate with Fair Trading once consumers sought our intervention.

“Failing to provide goods and services in a timely manner is a breach of the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading will take action against any online trader who thinks they will get away with such dishonest behaviour.”

Fair Trading received more than 50 complaints about the business in 2011 and 2012, prompting it to warn the public about dealing with Wilson or Quality Direct.

To read more on this story, click here.

New Australia-only crowdfunding platform launches

Friday, July 11th, 2014
Photo credit; David Pacey on Flickr

Photo credit; David Pacey on Flickr

Australia now has its own crowdfunding platform.

OzCrowd launched recently, starting its first campaign at the beginning of July.

“As well as providing the opportunity for individuals to contribute to fellow Aussies’ causes, OzCrowd will be providing a new way for corporate sponsorship, directly to particular causes as opposed to organisations,” marketing director Marika Karolidis said in a news release.

Founder Nick Karolidis, a lawyer and entrepreneur, states that this “direct funding model should allow for a much more efficient way for funds to flow between big business and individual causes”.

Australians are often hesitant to make donations because many organisations take up to 40% of donations as administration fees, meaning only a fraction of funds donated actually reach the target individual.

But with the low cost of an online platform, Nick Karolidis expects upwards of 90% of funds to be received by individuals.

Individuals with fundraising ideas can sign up at, authenticate their identify through Facebook and post their fundraising campaign within minutes. Organisations seeking to get involved should contact