What happens when you take Simon Barton, the creator of Gameplanet, add a dash of Dylan Bland, the co-creator of Zillion and throw books, DVDs and toys into the mix? You end up with a monkey of a website.
I've always been a big fan of Simon and Dylan's take on online auctions with Zillion. Instead of throwing together a TradeMe clone (as every other site was trying, and failing to), they sat down and worked on improving the auction process, streamlining many of the otherwise mundane tasks sellers were having to do to complete sales. It was interesting to see the incumbent TradeMe implement features that Zillion already had; Zillion had changed from being the followers, to the followed.
Their success online has continued with MightyApe, an online store that sells just about anything your heart desires - books, DVDs, CDs, and other geek electronics.
The site is easy to use, beautifully designed, and from the buzz on Twitter, their delivery processes work like a well-oiled machine. It was only a matter of time before they branched out into other countries, and last Friday they touched down in Australia.
I got in touch with Che Kamariera, the Marketing Gorilla at Mighty Ape and after bribing him with a few bananas, he answered my questions below.
When did you decide to go into Australia, and how will the site differ there?
We've been planning to launch in Australia since the beginning of the year. We offer our customers in NZ a world-class service and we want our Australian customers to have that same experience. The site is very much the same except with Australian branding. The main differences will be the Australian pricing obviously and the product categories currently differ a little - we do not currently offer toys, computers, or electronics in Australia at this stage.
What does Mighty Ape bring to the marketplace, over and above the incumbents?
This may sound cliche but we listen to our customers. Many of our customers like to communicate with us (or about us) on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. We have embraced social networking because of this. We conversate with our customers online and listen to what they are saying about us and our competitors. It provides us with valuable information, and also makes them feel appreciated. We had a one day sale recently called the Mighty Ape Marathon which evolved from a suggestion from one of our Twitter followers.
We also really pride ourselves on our customer service. We deliver on our promises, ie. if we say we are going to do something for our customers, we do it. Like I said these may sound cliche, but they are marketing basics that we feel are often overlooked.
Does the Australian market differ from NZ, and how will you overcome these challenges?
Kiwis have a lot in common with Australians, but we also have our own unique quirks too. Australian tastes will differ in some ways and I imagine we'll notice a bit of that in our DVD and music categories. For example Australia is very rock music oriented, genres such as hip hop and R&B that perform well in NZ aren't as prominent in Australia. And imagine trying to explain Billy T. James's humour to an Australian. Overcoming these challenges is a matter of anticipating and recognising the unique quirks and cultural differences between the two markets. Listening to feedback from our customers will help in this area. In fact we've already had someone comment on Twitter about Kiwi content on the new Australian store. We also have a staff member based in Australia who will help us to ensure that we are catering to Australian consumer tastes.
Does MA have a presence in Australia, or will everything be shipped from NZ?
We have a small office in Australia with one staff member who will look after returns and after-hour calls. All the orders from Mighty Ape Australia will be shipped from NZ. Australian customers will pay a flat-rate of $4.90 (AUD) for shipping anywhere in the country and our shipping times will be comparable to our Australian based competitors. Believe it or not, it is often faster to ship from NZ to Australia than to ship within Australia. We will open a distribution centre in Australia when we can be sure that we can provide faster shipping to our Australian customers than we currently do.
Any plans for launching in other countries?
At present there are no immediate plans to launch stores outside of New Zealand and Australia. If and when the time is right we would love to expand the business further.
Threads of this nature are common on Geekzone, and I'm not picking on Telecom as it happens to all the Internet Service Providers (ISP). What continues to amaze me is the complaints that users will post, while still paying the ISP for service, and how long it takes for them to swap to another provider!
This doesn't seem to apply in any other facet of life: if a cafe gives you bad service, you find an alternative for your next caffeine fix; if a mechanic does a poor job servicing your car, you seek recommendations from friends as to who to use next time; if a rental car company gives you the run around you seek a better one.
The argument of term contracts isn't even valid. Speed issues aren't seen on the other Telecom plans, and you are allowed to change your plan once a month for no charge. Why is it that so many users have stuck with this plan, and not ended their suffering by changing plans/ISPs?
The mind boggles.
Just got back from a media briefing at the Sky City Club Lounge in Auckland - any eagle-eyed PS3 users would've seen that from 7am this morning, a new icon was enabled allowing them to watch TVNZ Ondemand on their TVs. What a perfect way to convince the better half to buy a PS3!
TVNZ are making available 150 series, and 5,000 episodes to the over 105,000 Kiwi PS3 users. Quality can be selected with either high (700kbps) or low (300kbps), with TVNZ hoping to have higher rates (up to 3mbps) available in the future. The quality we saw was comparable to standard definition Freeview with the video running in full screen (all over wireless!).
The menus are clean and easy to use. Content has been split into different categories and is aimed at both users who are catching up on shows they've missed, plus users who are just browsing for new content. For those hoping that ads won't show, you're out of luck - the clever boffins at TVNZ have figured out how to include ads, the first in the world to do so on such a platform.
Above: Chang from The Edge catching up on the midday news.
A great partnership between Sony and TVNZ, and with the ease of use, I can see this as another basic alternative to TiVo, MySky and a customised HTPC. For more info, I spotted Ben Gracewood and Russell Brown at the same event; they will no doubt be blogging about this as well.
Note: To get TVNZ Ondemand on the PS3 simply update the PS3's system software to version 3.10 or above to ensure sign in to PlayStation Network. After a few moments the TVNZ Ondemand icon will appear on the Xross Media Bar (XMB).
... social marketing is blowing up traditional advertising business models. While it may take a while, social marketing has to be a key part of the marketing strategy for any business that wants to grow cost effectively.Social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs, online discussion forums etc can be a lucrative source of new business, however there needs to be a clear understanding that they are a two way street - you are no longer simply pushing your products/service to your audience (as with traditional advertising), you are inviting your audience to interact with you, and you need to be prepared for this.
The best example of social misunderstanding is on Twitter - the best businesses on Twitter respond to questions posted to them by followers - simply pushing offers or information to Twitter isn't enough. If you are seen as actively engaging your followers, not only with their complements/queries, but also with their complaints, you will gain the respect of the online community, and help build a social following and loyalty from them. Having a whole army of people who blog and tweet about how amazing your business is, all at no cost to you, speaks volumes.
Some industries (such as the trades) still use the Yellow Pages to find businesses (hence why we still maintain a very low key presence), however more people are turning to online sources. It's not an overnight money maker; try experimenting with different services and develop a social strategy that works for your business (Google Analytics provides the best way to measure online success).
Blatant self promotion: If you are after Xero integration with a new or legacy system, flick me an email (we are a certified Xero Network Partner).
Download More RAM is an online service which allows you to add more memory to your computer/laptop without having to install more hardware and it's free. It's a quick and easy download, I was amazed at the results I received on my Windows XP laptop - I've included screenshots below to prove my results (click to enlarge):
The download only works on Windows based computers, Linux and Mac users will need to buy a real computer to use this site.
I'm very impressed with the site; I was able to upgrade my memory from 2.91GB to a jaw dropping 32.1GB! My laptop runs like never before, hopefully it will also help you increase the performance of your desktop/laptop.
Update: This blog post had 800 views before lunch, hope it gave you all a laugh! :)