CEO Insight: eCommerce Tips from Ryan Bacher of NetFlorist
NetFlorist is an eCommerce heavyweight here in South Africa, and have been around since the early days of eCommerce. You might remember them for their camp and quirky radio ads a few years back. One look at the NetFlorist website and you can see why they’re SA’s top online florist. Website visitors are met with stunning product imagery, great category navigation and an overall, no frills approach to ecommerce. They’re ranked in the Top 500 websites visited in South Africa and see some impressive traffic.
View the NetFlorist Web Report (338kb) from Similar Web
I chatted to Ryan Bacher: partner and CEO of NetFlorist, to get some insight into this longstanding eCommerce success story – and to also get his view on a few other eCommerce topics.
Here’s the interview;
How did Netflorist come about and what were some of the biggest challenges the company faced back in the early 2000s?
We started out as a test case for ecommerce inside a bigger group – no intention initially to run a floral online business. It was an opportunistic beginning. It was always an online play and our biggest challenge early on was convincing South Africans to order online.
What does a typical day look for you, CEO for a South African eCommerce heavyweight like Netflorist?
I spend most of my time on data, strategy and marketing. I have 2 partners who are very strong in operations and merchandising so I am not as involved in those areas.
What are the biggest obstacles a new and growing eCommerce business will have to overcome?
Probably a combination of tech and getting people to their site would be their 1st hurdles. Thereafter it will be the usual business disciplines of margin, profit, customer service and the like.
Netflorist.co.za is ranked in the Top 500 websites visited in SA. What are the best tips you can give to generate good qualified web traffic to an eCommerce store?
Google is obviously key in anyone’s traffic strategy and will probably account for around 50% of any new website’s traffic (SEO and PPC). Outside of that there are lots of new channels that are driving traffic for us including Facebook and twitter. Above the line has been very successful for us – you can’t measure it but brand building is very crucial in anyone’s traffic strategy but it’s expensive and probably prohibitive for new players unless they are well-funded.
Conversion rates in eCommerce are crucial. What are some tips you can give for eCommerce businesses to improve their conversion rates?
Landing pages are crucial and monitoring bounce rates and conversion rates of landing pages are very key data points in online businesses. The shopping basket process needs to be as easy and intuitive as possible but this may be subjective based on the category you are in. The only way to know any of this is to be able to measure all your pages and be able to test them (ab and variant testing) so that you can learn and iterate.
Netflorist has impressive product imagery. Would you say that product images play an important part of conversion rates?
Huge – it’s the only thing that your customer has to go on – it’s your key selling touch point. I think one can’t spend enough energy on this. Physical retailers know this well which is why they spend so much of their energy on in-store merchandising.
What else in your opinion is pivotal to good conversion rates?
Obviously the right traffic – no point getting the wrong people to your site as your conversion rates will then always be poor. Trust is key – having the right security aspects on your site and also customer testimonials or ratings are important – more and more people are shopping based on what your previous customers have said about their experience.
We talked about 3D secure payments on Twitter, but how has this impacted customer payments and abandoned orders for Netflorist?
So far we’ve seen about a 10% drop in conversions with the transactions we are putting through 3D secure. We thought this would be higher so it does seem like South Africans are getting used to it. This number was higher but is coming down.
Do you think there are negative repercussions for a merchant being forced to implement 3D secure by their online payments provider?
10% is significant so yip, I think there has been an effect on sales for all those forced to implement it.
Netflorist has produced some great sister brands over the years (NetGifts, NetJewel, NetPerfume). Which is proving to be the most successful and what do you attribute that to?
NetGifts so far but the others are fast on its heels.
Netflorist’s tagline is “SA’s largest sameday gift service”. With so many moving parts, how do you ensure service levels are maintained when 3rd party vendors and couriers are used, and could you give some tips around this?
We have very few 3rd party vendors as we fulfil 85% of our orders ourselves (we have our own warehouses and delivery vehicles). For the other 15% we have very long-standing and trusted relationships with our suppliers to achieve our overall customer service benchmarks.
What are the top 3 things an eCommerce business owner absolutely must do for their business after reading this?
Make sure they are looking at and responding to key data in their business (just looking is useless). Make sure they are worrying about normal traditional business things like margin, service, stock (if they hold stock), HR etc. Lastly, make sure that their customer touch points are in line with their brand and offering (photos, website, delivery, packaging etc.)
What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I worked at Club Med for 18 months as a tennis coach.