E-business: Focusing on a sustained relationship!

In June 2011, France had over 90,000 retail websites, that is, more than 20,000 new websites in one year alone! So, how is it possible to stay ahead when there are so many rival websites? By capturing the attention of the web surfer, making the sale, and then securing their loyalty - this is the threefold objective of any internet window. What is more, the website has to be different right from the home page!


In 2010, France ranked 2nd among European countries in terms of on-line sales (31 billion euro) and their development (up 24%). This sustained growth over the years is testimony to an increasing interest in NICT1 and the continuing inroads of the web channel in everyday practices.

Subscription tunnel

At the end of the first quarter 2011, there were around 38.6 million web surfers in France, including 28 million on-line purchasers2. So, how can you attract more web surfers to your website? “The technical platform is important but content and form also contribute to the success of the website,” according to Hortense Rufenacht, Associate Manager of Wide, Micropole group’s digital communication subsidiary. “The aim is to capture the attention of web surfers, appeal to them, convince them and lead them to make a purchase. This is known as the subscription tunnel.” Once web surfers have become clients they move to the “building loyalty” phase during which they will become regular purchasers as a result of marketing initiatives. These are the three key stages in the business / client relationship cycle.


Capturing the client’s attention

User experience on their first visit is paramount. You only have 3/10ths of a second to win them over. Indeed, more than 70% of web surfers exit a website when they cannot find the information that they are seeking straightaway: on average, almost half spend less than one minute per page. “Rapid location of the information sought by the web surfer is a priority for capturing their attention and securing their loyalty,” explains Jérôme Malzac, e-Business Manager at Micropole. “There is no real boundary between contractualisation and securing loyalty. The methods and tools, as well as the business and graphics language, differ according to the target: general public or BtoB.” With BtoB, the audience is already categorized – with simpler needs to be targeted; with BtoC, the possibilities are much wider. Search tools are vital and you must adapt your contents and the tools proposed to the targeted audience.

“It all depends on the goals of the website. They may involve image, winning clients or business requirements,” explains Hortense Rufenacht. “A lot of ergonomic, editorial and technical work has to be carried out in order to come up with information which is fluid, immediate and can be easily indexed by search engines. This allows more web surfers to be reached and the business referencing to be consolidated. The FranFinance website is a perfect example of this.”

Building customer loyalty:

finding the brand’s DNA!

“Building customer loyalty involves the really “value added” services, which make us stand out from the competition,” according to Jérôme Malzac. Promotions, free services, and additional information combined with push marketing initiatives (predictive segmentation tools according to purchases already made and viewed pages) form the cornerstones of a good marketing policy.

“The keys to success lie in the combination of two elements, technical and marketing,” confirms Hortense Rufenacht:

  • 1. Structure your catalogue: think upstream about how to model your product offer!
  • 2. Anticipate needs: reason the process before thinking about needs in order to anticipate any restrictions.
  • 3. Conduct regular benchmarking studies on your competitors.
  • 4. Validate the need and features utility upstream: anticipate client requirements in order to include them in the website.
  • 5. Master the technical platform:  buy-in on this aspect will facilitate the sales events to be carried out downstream on your website.
  • 6. Establish your site in line with your brand strategy: the identity and marketing plan implemented must be consistent with your brand’s DNA.
  • 7. Set up a communication strategy by discussing the referencing (SEO and SEM): as attractive as your website may be, if it is not visible, it is useless.
  • 8. Define a CRM strategy: it costs a lot more to acquire a client than to secure their loyalty! Analyse their history in order to draft a marketing plan tailored to their expectations. Suggest offers via newsletters and communication efforts on the social networks etc., in order to share the information available on your website.
  • 9. Think mobility: 12% on-line purchasers have already purchased from their mobile phones, that is, more than 3 million French people! Some websites such as net-a-porter.com already make more than 15% of their sales on mobile terminals.
  • 10. Begin a 360° multi-channel client strategy (on and offline) and create consistency between these channels.


1. New Information Communication Technologies
2. Source: Observatoire des Usages Internet (Internet Usage Watchdog)

    April-June 2011 – Copyright Médiamétrie – All rights reserved


The challenges of e-business

  • 1 Capturing a different target via the web channel.
  • 2 Dematerialising all approaches (purchase, payment and customer service etc.).
  • 3 Making the proposed products or services worthwhile.
  • 4 Increase visibility, and consequently its competitive impact.