Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The benefits & pitfalls of Scottish companies selling online

As a specialist digital consultant, I speak with a lot of Scottish businesses of all sizes about the opportunities that eCommerce can bring. Most agree that using the Internet to open up new markets and sell a greater amount of products is of commercial interest to them – who wouldn't want more customers and more revenue?

However a lot of businesses have still to venture into eCommerce and time after time the same key reasons for not doing so keep cropping up:

  • Concerns about the cost of setting up and running an online business
  • Concerns that “you need to be technical” 
  • Concerns about online payments and security
  • Concerns about distance selling and the appropriate regulations
  • Concerns about delivery, returns, etc.
  • Concerns about getting & keeping customers
However, help is on-hand from Scottish Enterprise for those organisations who want to learn more about how to go about setting up an online store and grow their business via electronic means. Courses, workshops and dedicated digital and eCommerce expertise via specialist consultants are all available.

Plus it is important to remember is not just about selling to the home Scottish market, eCommerce opportunities also lie abroad. In fact, back in 2013 a report on Scotland’s Digital Future stated that more than 90% of eCommerce in Scotland was already being conducted with other UK or overseas customers. It is therefore unsurprising that in the last few years a Scottish Enterprise workshop on the topic of International eCommerce has been run in many locations across the country. I sometimes help take this popular workshop and it covers topics such as: researching new markets, translating content, global payment methods and international digital marketing techniques.

So what are you waiting for?

What’s in store for digital retailing and Scottish companies?

There’s been a consistent growth in UK one retailing for over a decade now. In fact, the number of UK citizens ordering goods electronically has increased significantly from an already impressive 44% in 2005 to a huge 79% in 2014. This means that nearly everyone with an Internet connection in the UK has now bought something online and actually makes us the biggest adopters of eCommerce in the EU.

This increase also shows no signs of stopping any time soon. All predictions are that more & more products of increasing complexity will be purchased via a browser or app in the future. You only have look back at the types of products bought online just a few years ago… cheap, simple, off-the-shelf, branded and easily packaged- such as books and CD’s (which is how Amazon started off). But now practically everything gets bought online including: complex, expensive, bespoke and considered products – from cruise packages thought to tailored fashion clothing and hand-made furniture if you so wish.

So in my view, the eCommerce future for Scottish companies is very bright and Scottish companies should be no different to any other in the UK when it comes to online selling. There’s still huge opportunities to sell products (and even services) to customers in the UK, Europe, North America and even further afield. Whether you come from the suburbs of London or the shores of Loch Ness, it is possible to sell to the global village of 3.2 Billion online users (which is about 40% of the world’s population).

Unsure what will sell? Well tastes and trends change across the globe, so you shouldn’t necessarily restrict the products that you offer online. There’s also no physical limits on space, so why not put everything online and see what gets bought?

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Wearables in the workplace

Do you wear a fitness band or have a health tracker app running on your smartphone?

If you do, then you probably use it to track your personal activity such as: steps walked, energy spent, stairs climbed or average heart rate.

But could your employer benefit from your use of wearable technology and is this in your best interests?

Perhaps not, and here's why:

  1. Activity monitor company Fitbit is targeting companies with its products http://www.cio.com/article/2969973/fitbit-caters-to-corporations-and-not-just-with-discounted-fitness-trackers.html
  2. Court cases are now using fitness tracker data to back-up or discredit testimonies which rely on human movement 
Yup! And if this trend continues....