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Josh Mehlman

Making fashion work with a business mind

Sitting in their empty store in a newly built, eerily silent shopping centre in Sydney's CBD seven years ago, twin brothers Brian and Vincent Wu may well have wondered if they had made the right decision chucking in their well-paid jobs to start a fashion boutique. "When we opened our first store in the Galleries Victoria, that centre was dead," says Vincent. "We would appreciate it just when a customer walked in – at one stage we hardly had any customers." Even in their most optimistic visions for the future, … more »

Taking your online store into the real world

If you’re running an online business, why would you consider opening a real-world shop? Josh Mehlman speaks to some business owners who successfully made the switch from cyberspace to the real world. Why open an offline store? Many online retailers decide to open a real-world store after requests from customers. Kate Morris launched online cosmetics retailer Adore Beauty in 2000 and opened a bricks-and-mortar shop in Melbourne in 2004. “The main impetus was customers calling and wanting to purchase the products on the same day, or try things out before … more »

From clicks to mortar

What are the benefits of taking your successful online business into an offline store? Many online retailers decide to open a real-world store after requests from customers. Kate Morris launched online cosmetics retailer Adore Beauty (adorebeauty.com.au) in 2000 and opened a bricks-and-mortar shop in Melbourne in 2004. "The main impetus was customers calling and wanting to purchase the products on the same day, or try things out before buying," she says. "There was also the added credibility and trust, both to customers and suppliers, of having a bricks-and-mortar location." Darren … more »

Streamlining your online business

RedBubble was first conceived as a me-too local version of a successful overseas website, but a change in direction made it one of the world's most successful online art communities. Josh Mehlman speaks to co-founder Martin Hosking about the difference between a community and a social network, and the best ways to streamline the e-commerce experience.  Optimising the buying experience Since launching the site, RedBubble has spent a lot of its time and resources on streamlining the online shopping process. This was based around an important understanding of user behaviour: … more »

Augmented reality: geek plaything or small business tool?

For a technology more than 50 years old, augmented reality is currently making a lot of noise as the next big thing. But is the technology a geek plaything, a marketer's wet dream or a practical tool that small businesses might actually use? Augmented reality is a system of mixing a live view of a real-world environment with computer-generated imagery or information in context and in real time. The first augmented reality applications were developed in the 1950s: the head-up displays of fighter aircraft that showed navigation and weapon aiming … more »

Social networks are not communities

RedBubble was first conceived as a me-too local version of a successful overseas website, but a change in direction made it one of the world's most successful online art communities. Nett spoke to co-founder Martin Hosking about the difference between a community and a social network, and the best ways to streamline the e-commerce experience. Social networks are not communities Hosking believes there is an important distinction between a community and a social networking platform – something many social media gurus and marketing agencies have yet to fully understand. "Facebook … more »

Up and at them

The growth and success of online political activist groups like MoveOn, GetUp! and Avaaz present valuable lessons for anyone looking to engage communities using the internet. Tom Dawkins and Josh Mehlman talk to GetUp! and Avaaz co-founder Jeremy Heimans. Australian activists Jeremy Heimans and David Madden started local activists site GetUp! in August 2005. By the November 2007 Federal election, it had signed up more than 230,000 members, and as of February 2010, that number has risen to over 343,000. The changing role of activism Heimans worked at international consulting … more »

Helping small business gain government tenders

Arthur Thompson started TenderSearch to help companies keep track of the impenetrable government tender system. He spoke to Josh Mehlman about helping small businesses crack open government coffers. Starting out In 1983, Thompson was buying and selling second-hand word processing systems. He heard a local council in Melbourne was selling off a batch of word processors. The council advised him to watch the newspapers for a tender. After scouring the Melbourne papers for weeks, Thompson called the council. The tender, it turned out, had been advertised in the Ballarat Courier. … more »

Battlefield sports: dominating an online niche

She might work in a testosterone-soaked industry, but it's fair to say that if Nicole Lander were a character in the 1984 comedy Revenge of the Nerds, she would not be one of the jocks. She played Dungeons and Dragons at school and shifted to multi-user dungeons – text-based precursors to today's online gaming – when the internet came into widespread use. She earned postgraduate qualifications in computer-mediated communications, studying how artificial intelligence computer systems could take on human-like personalities. Online, she goes by the nom de guerre of Zev-va. … more »

What’s wrong with real reality?

You’ve seen versions of the augmented reality vision in movies, and you might have seen it demonstrated with ads and special offers popping up on an iPhone screen as someone walks around a shopping strip. As Josh Mehlman reports, the technology has much greater potential and a range of practical uses for smaller companies. For a technology more than 50 years old, augmented reality is currently making a lot of noise as the next big thing. Many technology companies, including local ones, are showing off the whizz-bang and potential of … more »

Fabulous, mate!

Chris Cassar and Rick Glenn saw an opportunity to sell men's grooming and skin care products online and wanted their website himage.com.au to give male consumers the ideal experience. Enter the Kick Start panel with some surprising insights on how men feel about shopping. The panel Jonathan Crossfield, NetRegistry, expertise: web presence, online marketing Louise Kelly, Hearts and Minds, expertise: marketing and branding Hollie Turner, Pearl PR, expertise: public relations Josh Mehlman, Nett magazine Men need skincare too! Josh: How did you come up with the idea for the business? … more »

Why people are the best advertising

In just seven years, fashion boutique Incu has grown from a single store in an almost empty shopping centre to a mini-empire and major trendsetter. Their secret? It's not all about fashion… Incu-bation period Before starting up Incu Clothing, the Wu brothers both worked in marketing at different information technology firms. "We would meet up at lunch times and we always felt it wasn't quite the right industry for us; we felt like we could do a lot more, so we started discussing business ideas," says Vincent. "We've always had … more »

Incurable optimists

In just seven years, fashion boutique Incu has grown from a single store in an almost empty shopping centre to a mini-empire and major trendsetter. Having landed the Australian rights to sell UK brand Topshop, founders Brian and Vincent Wu have now set their sights on creating a top-drawer online store, writes Josh Mehlman. Sitting in their empty store in a newly built, eerily silent shopping centre in Sydney’s CBD seven years ago, twin brothers Brian and Vincent Wu may well have wondered if they had made the right decision … more »

Email WIN: how to sell to the inbox

When companies struggle with sales, now they can call in the experts. Josh Mehlman speaks to Strike Force Sales about the art of selling with email: how most companies don't use it as an effective sales tool and how they can fix that. Chances are you sell things every day, even if your only knowledge of salespeople comes from the swear word-laden dialogue of the movie Glengarry Glen Ross. Signing up a new customer is, obviously, a sale. Negotiating a better deal on supplies requires sales skills, as does convincing … more »

Making niche markets blossom

Most Nett readers are probably old enough to remember the late-1980s Channel 7 sketch comedy series ‘Fast Forward' (if not, you can always get the DVDs). One recurring skit featured Steve Vizard as slimy, ponytailed advertising executive Brent Smythe and Peter Moon as his offsider Barry. In one memorable moment, Brent talks about how creative the advertising industry is and asks, "Where do we get ideas from, Barry?" Barry instantly replies, "America." This was definitely the case for Kelly Baker, founder of Edible Blooms. "I was flying from Paris to … more »

How to: design your business to scale

How to: design your business to scale – There's a simple truth about business (and life too): change happens, growth is optional. You might not have absolute control over when and how things change, but your business is more likely to endure if it has a solid foundation – a great business plan. Every element needs to be strong: business idea and focus, products and services, markets, management, people, finances, resources and processes, and a positive attitude towards change. Stuart Ridley and Josh Mehlman look at the benefits of choosing … more »

Strike while the leads are hot

Kickstart – Mackay-based Clare McFadyen wanted a website that listed shared accommodation for regional centres and couldn't find one – so she built her own. Our panel gives her some ideas to build up buzz and momentum. Up for a challenge? Try finding shared accommodation for a 20-something in a regional centre or country town. Clare McFadyen got tired of the struggle, so she decided to launch ziggie.com.au, a shared accommodation directory that covers the whole of Australia, not just Sydney and Melbourne. "I usually advertise through the local newspaper, … more »

When do you need a new website?

Penny Flanders spends a great deal of time doing manual work administering her website, Miss Money Penny. Is this what’s holding her back from growing the business? Our expert panel finds out. Challenge 1: How can you grow a business if you're drowning in admin work? Josh Mehlman: Penny, you mentioned that a lot of people don't like eBay. What's wrong with it? Penny: There is a lot of clutter to get through. My buyers don't want to fossick around for things, they want to have all of the hard … more »

With the number of Australian small businesses growing, NETT provides a one-stop shop of information to get your business working for you. Crammed full of helpful articles, tips and small business advice, NETT gathers expert advice from Australian small business owners, industry experts and online professionals and houses it all in an easy-to-follow format. Reaching across a wealth of topics from technology to search optimisation and resources. NETT focuses on assisting Australian small business and providing better business advice to allow you to build a strong online presence.