A year of digital enterprise successes

With the last of our workshops and group training sessions done for the year and only a few mentoring sessions to roll out before Christmas, I thought it might be a good time to reflect on some of the great digital enterprise successes that the Salisbury and Modbury Digital Enterprise Program has been part of this year. Since July 1st, we have worked with over 200 businesses. Here’s a snapshot of six of the digital business success stories for 2013. Please check these businesses out and add other digital success stories in the comment section below. 

Website redevelopments

Website redevelopments are always a testing time for businesses. Here are some examples of digital enterprise successes that have gone through a redevelopment recently.

Marvey Tech

John from Marvey Tech has been installing high end systems in cars for a number of years. After working with us, John decided to redevelop his website through local company Newport Digital.

Dance SA

DanceSa have been growing rapidly since 2010 and with more staff and dance studios coming on board Emma knew it was time to redo the website. With a bit of guidance from us, the new DanceSA site is looking slicker than ever.

HandyCamSA

After building her husband’s site in Wix with an embedded blog on Blogger, Merricc decided it was time to consolidate into one WordPress site.

 

Startups

When you are starting in business, a website should be close to the top of the list for the marketing and communications to do list. Check out these startups who’ve been involved in the program.

David Whiting Energy Solutions

David’s business is all about making people and businesses understand their energy consumption better to save money. He decided to get local business Smeek Media to build a website and incorporate some interactive surveys and Paypal buttons.

Ozlinksocial

Connecting people face to face comes naturally to Michael but he wanted to get more involved in the online side of social and start using social media with his business Ozlinksocial.

The Fabulous Scavenger

Sam (whose picture heads up this blog post) has been picking up stuff from junk shops, garage sales and sometimes hard rubbish then turning it into all sorts of awesomeness, then blogging about it. Now Sam will start selling The Fabulous Scavenger up-cycled products and original photographic artworks at the “Pop Up in Prospect market is on Dec 14 from 9am-2pm in #VineSt Plaza #Prospectpic.twitter.com/0fmkcAvJD0” . We helped move her blog to her own domain and soon she plans to sell online.

 

 

Online retail, the Executive Accessories way

Over the coming year we will be sharing a series of local business stories. This first in the series takes a look at Executive Accessories from the eyes of the owner Wendy Gomersall. Wendy, who is a regular at our Digital Enterprise Program workshops and a recent graduate of our Coaching for Success program, recently moved her online retail store and began using Shopify as her service provider. I asked her to put together this blog post and explain what was involved in her online website move.

Please add your experiences in the comment section below.

Online retail story, by Wendy Gomersall of Executive Accessories

Like many people affected by a serious health issue my hubby Neil and I reassessed our lifestyle and decided that we would like to enjoy life more and have less stress. So we started our own e-commerce business!!!

And that’s when the fun began. Having the website built, finding suppliers who were willing to sell to an online business, sourcing quality products, working out the logistics involved.

www.executiveaccessories.com.au was launched in September 2009 specialising in executive fashion accessories and leather goods. It was November before we got our first order – for a black bow tie – and we both did a happy dance around the house. It was another month before the second order came!

Unfortunately the saying from the Kevin Costner movie Field of Dreams “if you build it he will come” does not apply to websites. We quickly become obsessed with SEO, crawl rates, backlinks and more – all things that we hadn’t heard of just a short time ago. Thankfully our efforts paid off and sales began to build, we were happy to have repeat customers and also some nice corporate orders.

However e-commerce businesses stand and fall by their position (or lack of) in the search engine results. And when Google changes its rules (algorithms) your website can disappear from sight. And when your website is your “store front” that is a disaster.

Earlier this year Google did just that and our visitor numbers and subsequent sales fell by over 50% overnight.

This was made worse by the fact that while we had control of our content management system – we could upload products and information and photos – we had no control or access to the ‘bones’ of our website. What had been more than adequate when we launched was now out-dated and every little change came at a cost.

So after several frustrating communications with our web developer we decided to stop pouring money in to the site and to part company. We made the decision to completely rebuild the site ourselves using what is basically a pay as you go e‑commerce platform. And once again the fun began!

Once we had made the decision – which was not taken lightly as we knew the situation would get worse before it got better – we jumped right in and within 3 weeks we had launched the new look www.executiveaccessories.com.au

What it took:

  • Choosing an e-commerce platform that gave us the features we needed (and which savvy online shoppers expect) but which was easy to use.
  • Selecting a theme for the site that would look great on a desktop but would also be mobile friendly and responsive.
  • Migrating all our products to the new site.
  • Re-focusing our SEO efforts and re-writing much of the content.
  • Re-photographing many of our products to achieve a consistent feel across what was a very different looking site.
  • Setting up new payment gateways and systems.

The “pros”:

  • No set up cost (our original site cost approximately $11k and we have spent at least that amount again since it was launched).
  • 24/7 support.
  • Easy to use.
  • Complete control over every part of our site – with the added benefit of access to a pool of experts if we don’t want to (or can’t) do the work ourselves.
  • A site that will not be left behind as technology changes – the platform will keep up with new technology.
  • Built in SEO.
  • Lots of mobile friendly themes to select from.
  • The ability to add whatever features we like to the store, by either writing the code ourselves, installing apps or a having a developer do the work for us (we have more features we are planning on adding, such as customer reviews, live chat etc)
  • Integration with Mailchimp. Google Shopping etc.
  • Easy to manage redirects from the old site.
  • Downloadable customer/order information, reports and stats.

The “cons”:

  • An ongoing monthly fee which includes webhosting (but depending on how you look at it, this could also be a “pro”)
  • Fluctuating exchange rates – most e-commerce platforms of this type are North American.

We had a seamless relaunch on 6 September – with no down time – and so far so good. We are more than happy with the new site and although there is a still lot to do we know we can do most of it ourselves.

And happily Google and Bing seem to like it too!

 

 

Marketing is everything

Marketing is not just a function of any business big or small – it is a consolidating view of the whole business process. When the question is asked of most business owners –“What is the purpose of your business?” most, if not all, answer – “to make a profit”. I say “NO – the purpose is to attract, make and retain customers” – Making a profit simply becomes a measurement of that function. – Successful or unsuccessful.

Without customers buying your product or service, it is just a museum piece or a sad memory. We do not have to look too far to see an example of this; the local Spring Gully Company is a fine example. Despite being a well known brand, they fell into trouble but were able to trade out of it because of strong brand loyalty  that had not been able to translate into sales (although by default, thanks to local media).

I contend that the lack of marketing, poor marketing, or worse, no marketing, is the most common cause of business failure. I believe this largely occurs because the business owner or manager has a specific skill relative to the manufacture of his or her product or the service that is provided. This is generally the reason they start up a business. Therefore the importance of marketing is often overlooked or even avoided, until it is too late.

Marketing is that appreciation of its consolidated business view and the activities and policies we enact that create for us the opportunity to sell our products or service.
Polaris will soon be conducting a series of workshops showing business owners/managers how to market and sell their products and services. It will dispel the mystique that often surrounds marketing and will offer positive and practical ideas on improving profit measurement through marketing.

For more details about our upcoming workshops, contact us or subscribe to our email updates.

Business Coaching Group Successes Recognised

The achievements made by participants in the Polaris Centre’s two business coaching groups were recognised at the Mawson Lakes Hotel last Friday night.

From the coaching groups, Evan Marker of Evan Marker Stonework, Sailendra Kundrapu of Core Physio Holden Hill, Gary Baker of GB Concepts and Janice Evans of The Engraving Crew spoke about how their businesses had grown during the ten months they were involved in the program. In some cases this involved creating new job opportunities while others had developed new markets or improved their systems and processes.

City of Salisbury Mayor Gillian Aldridge, who presented the business owners with certificates of completion, praised the achievements made by the business owners. Special thanks was extended to the coaches Gordon Kay and Alan Short.

The Polaris Group Coaching Program provides a powerful way for business owners to focus on and achieve their goals. Participants meet as a group once each month over a ten month period and receive monthly one-to-one mentoring support. The Polaris Centre is now seeking participants for the next group coaching program which is anticipated to commence prior to Christmas. To register your interest please contact the Polaris Centre on 8260 8205.

3 Businesses using Instagram in northern Adelaide

In case you weren’t aware, Instagram is a photo-sharing social media that was acquired by Facebook in April 2012 for US $1 billion in cash and stock.

As part of the Digital Enterprise Program Mentoring I have often discussed Instagram as a potentially valuable channel for business social media communications. I have personally used Instagram for a couple of years and see it as fantastic creative and social outlet. It has only been in the last few months that I have started to see local businesses coming up with interesting ways to engage their  customers using Instagram. This Slideshare offers some great advice on how to use Instagram in your business:

There are several businesses using Instagram within our network in the Polaris Centre, to promote their business and communicate with their customers. Below is a few that have been doing some interesting things:

Crossfit Northern Adelaide

Sam and Wade, the guys at Crossfit Northern Adelaide, are pretty innovative and have been pushing themselves in the gym but are now building up their online muscles by using Instagram and other social media to engage their users. They will be making even better use in the weeks and months to come with plans to encourage some competitive customer generated content.

Autotransformers

Andrew and the team at Autotransformers have fitted in well with their niche online for a few years now but have revved things to new levels with their use of Instagram and are getting a great level of engagement.

byGabrielle

 byGabrielle have designed their way into a large following on Instagram and recently ran a great hashtag campaign with a load of awesome customer generated content.

Do you know any others?

If you are a business using Instagram in northern Adelaide (or know of one) we’d love to hear about it. Please add a comment below with a link.

 

Northern Adelaide Business Success Stories

Although much recent attention about northern Adelaide’s economy has focused on GM Holden and the automotive sector, there are many examples of northern Adelaide business success stories in the past month or so.

RM Williams has won a contract to provide 45,000 pairs of boots to the Australian Army, a deal which will bolster jobs at its Salisbury South manufacturing facility.

Just down the road from RM Williams, Michell Wool has launched I/O Merino, an international performance clothing brand designed for sports such as endurance running, snow skiing, cycling and water sports.  The majority of sales are to the United States.

Based in Technology Park, Jumbo Vision has developed a new $3 million hub for research and developing new display technologies.  “We want to make it very futuristic to come up with new and innovative ideas,” said company founder Gerhard Kimenkowski.

In the food sector, the popularity of Lucia’s Fine Foods and Mitani Products have seen them included in the top 20 of Food SA’s Consumer Awards.

Flight Training Adelaide has signed a new pilot training partnership with Cathay Pacific.  CEO of Flight Training Adelaide , Pine Pienaar commented “This new contract further builds on the partnership we’ve had with Cathay Pacific since 1998 and we look forward to enhancing this partnership for many more years to come.”

At the Polaris Centre we are privileged to work with businesses, large and small, that are developing new products, entering new markets or improving the way they go about their business.

National Training Program launched at Car Service Salisbury

The Minister for Higher Education and Skills Sharon Bird and the Member for Wakefield, Nick Champion, have announced a $2.8 million automotive training program while visiting the premises of Car Services Salisbury. Care Service Salisbury is a participant in the Polaris Centre’s Mentoring for Success program.

The program, funded through the National Workforce Development Fund, will be rolled out across Australia to almost 600 automotive workers at 140 Repco outlets. Staff will gain new skills in frontline management, health and safety, and customer service.

Car Service Salisbury owners Angelo Digance and Jeff Rositano, who have been strong advocates for improving the skills of workers in the automotive after-sale sector, will form part of the training team for the program.

“This funding has given a local small business the chance to invest in their workers. This training will be a major boost for staff, managers and the company here in Salisbury,” Mr Champion said.

“It’s a great example of what will be achieved across the nation through this investment.”

The Australian Government is contributing more than $1.8 million to the training project through the National Workforce Development Fund, with Repco contributing $920,000.

City of Salisbury Mayor, Gillian Aldridge highlighted the assistance the Polaris Centre has provided to Car Service Salisbury and urged other firms to access the services provided through the Polaris Centre. For Angelo and Jeff, the Mentoring for success program run by the Polaris Centre began at just the right time. It meant they got much-needed guidance on planning and budgeting to give their business a solid foundation right from the start.