July 12, 2021

What we’ve learned writing for eCommerce

BY DOUGLAS ROSS

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There’s no denying we do things at our own pace in Australia. Head to Europe, the UK and the US and you see eCommerce has been adopted much more quickly by consumers, especially in retail. We’ve been a little slower to adopt these trends. This comes despite goliaths like Amazon making tentative steps in the years leading up to 2020 to tap into our market. But 2020 changed everything.

Australia Post’s 2021 eCommerce Industry Report found online retail spending increased 57% YOY in 2020 to a tune of $50.46 billion, or 16.3% share of total retail spend. For Amazon, its Australian sales doubled in 2020, giving it the coin to accelerate its expansion.

As an agency that has worked with various eCommerce platforms over the years, we watched this stark change in consumer patterns in 2020 unfold. And it isn’t just across retail. These changes relate to everything we do in the digital world when it comes to commerce – from currencies themselves (cypto, anyone?) to how those currencies flow as the Internet of Things (IoT) blurs the lines between the digital and the ‘real’.

We recognise the opportunities behavioural shifts present for innovation in so many areas of technology and communications. As a content agency, we’re setting ourselves up to both learn and lead as much as possible over the next decade.

Challenges of content writing for eCommerce

You have two clients when working with an eCommerce platform on content: the platform itself and then that platform’s customers. This creates a range of challenges and opportunities for a content agency.

A challenge we’ve faced is the need to remain compliant with all aspects of content for eCommerce platforms. There’s no room to make a mistake when it comes to the legal responsibilities of a company to its customers. This is especially relevant to a financial services platform. Meeting this challenge as an agency requires us to do three things:

  1. Bringing our clients along with us in the development of an effective content strategy to understand the complexities of a client and a project.
  2. Applying strong editorial skills, from syntactic to structural, to our work as remaining compliant demands attention to detail
  3. Exceeding our client’s expectations when it comes to processes and stakeholder communications, as it facilitates the communication of compliance restrains on any content production.

Beyond the challenge of compliance in eCommerce content production is the challenge of finding balance in communications. That is, a balance of tone and of complexity when talking to customers.

eCommerce platforms sometimes communicate to specific customer types with high-level knowledge of their products and services. Often, however, they’re talking to everyday consumers.

This requires a strategic approach to balancing the technical with the approachable. This is where experience (building on what you learn) and intent (understanding and applying strategic thinking) as an agency comes to play.

Our approach to these challenges

Our approach to these types of challenges as an agency has always been to apply what we’ve learned over the years to both stakeholder management and processes.

Stakeholder management

Stakeholder management is key to ensuring we understand the nuances that are particular to, say, a retail eCommerce platform vs a financial services platform.

High-level communications skills as an agency have been vital in identifying foreseeable hurdles along a project’s lifespan. It also helps us understand how compliance in this sector shapes content. This stakeholder management comes to life in the form of workshops, testing, and research right down to emails and project management processes.

Any agency needs to ask itself regularly how it approaches these communications streams, learning from mistakes and successes equally. For example, are you learning from—and have you developed an approach to—digital workshops?

 A few things to consider when it comes to stakeholder management:

  • Are you learning regularly from your workshops? Seek feedback communications streams like these to form a solid approach to new clients.
  • Build an understanding of what does and doesn’t work for different stakeholder types (e.g. marketing departments vs technical teams).
  • Get to know how your own team members communicate best and work to these strengths. Personality tests can help identify individual approaches and find avenues to channel an individual’s strengths into a strong stakeholder management approach.

Processes

As an agency and as individuals working with clients, good processes help us meet the challenges of developing content for eCommerce.

Processes can include mastering project management tools as a team so we can produce high-quality content while bringing our clients along with us on the journey.

For example, when working with AAMI we used project management tools to communicate all aspects of the project with the client. This improved clarity around the project and reduced potential hiccups. Tools like these are flexible and work in a myriad of ways. It’s up to an agency to learn and then lead on how it wants to apply particular processes for any given client and project.

Opportunities for writing for eCommerce

The opportunities in eCommerce are broad. We’re driven by what this sector has to offer us as an agency driven by a passion for the principles of communications.

There are opportunities to specialise in growing fields of expertise when writing for eCommerce, which we’re continuing to do. This could be understanding the nuances of a voice content strategy or exploring the world of UX writing. UX has opened doors for copywriters and strategists to work more closely with designers and other disciplines. This is due to a growing realisation across industries that ‘the story’ is everything.

As an agency, we specialise in various aspects of digital content that cover longform and shortform production, from content strategy and marketing to UX writing and SEO. Having experts within an agency who cover a wide range of digital content disciplines gives us opportunities to work with a range of exciting projects and people.

Anyone building their knowledge in digital content should look to eCommerce. It’s a digital space ripe for shaping your expertise and can open doors to innovations in digital communications.

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