Brisbane Digital Spotlight is a blog series that aims to shine light on the exceptional talent within the city’s digital community. With each post, I uncover a devoted individual within my network who I’ve recognised to be deeply engaged in the digital industry. Whether it be a Digital Marketer, a Developer, a Co-founder, a Project Manager, or even a Recruiter – my goal is to highlight the work these remarkable individuals do; day in, day out.
If you’re working within the Brisbane digital landscape, you’re more than likely familiar with Nathan Bush.
After leading the digital strategy for some of Australias biggest brands under the Super Retail Group, Nathan developed his own venture, 12HIGH – an agency empowering brands to activate an effective eCommerce strategy.
Nathan’s no stranger to sharing his knowledge on panels at local meet-ups, and has even dedicated time to running his own event series, The Digital Social.
I admire Nathan’s passion to continually share as much value as possible within the industry.
I recently caught up with Nathan to uncover more about his background, the journey of scaling his own venture, and his predictions for the eCommerce landscape in 2019.
Tell us about your background. How did you end up in the digital space?
I was booking traditional media – newspapers, TV, radio for a few years for national clients when I saw the social wave coming. Starting with the ability to create your own blog (WordPress), upload your own videos (YouTube) and create friendship networks online (MySpace/Facebook).
I enjoyed playing around with these platforms in my spare time and even started my own blog called Another Advertising Wanker (which is slightly cringe now). One day my agency boss approached me and said “I’m starting Australia’s first social media agency. Do you want to join?” The rest, as they say, is a messy history.
What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen across the industry throughout the course of your career?
Biggest changes I’ve seen are:
- Spending shifts. The shift in $ from traditional to digital marketing. I remember once having to compare the spend on display advertising to print advertising based on the size of the ad.
- Organisational embracement. I’ve been the token digital guy before that gets wheeled out to presentations in order to impress clients (who then go on to buy more TV ads). I think we’re really past that now in that everyone – from the MD, to the creatives, and even the product buyers – are expected to have some level of digital knowledge.
- The next big thing. The shiny objects have come and gone. The best ones (like CRM, analytics, cloud) have made their way into the day to day after their initial splash. Others, not naming names, have disappeared – often without anyone being accountable for investing in them. Core needs don’t change. Good businesses ignore the tinsel and choose technologies which fit their customers.
- One thing I haven’t seen change, and I think it is just trendy now, is that the best marketers have always known and been in touch with their customers. It’s not a new thing, but it’s a ticket to entry for good marketers.
As the Founder of 12High, what does your everyday role entail?
It is a messy and fun mixed bag. Every day is different. It can include; running workshops for clients, researching eCommerce trends and case studies, working on the ground with a client team to deliver a new project, exploring new ideas with eCommerce solutions partners, making sales calls, documenting go to market strategies, speaking at events – but mostly… it’s reconciling Xero.
What were some of the challenges you faced when starting your own venture?
A wife and two young kids! I am very lucky that Sarah – who is naturally risk averse – was very supportive of me taking the leap. This was really important because I can’t just work all weekend and live off noodles.
Family is really important to me, so I had to make sure I could balance pouring lots of my time into making 12HIGH work, all while still spending quality time with my family. There were lots of other challenges, such as getting initial clients, working out company structures and setting up technology – but I’m very lucky to have good people around me to continually offer support.
What’s some valuable advice you’d have for anyone looking to start their own eCommerce store?
Get the basics right. Before you worry about whether you will offer chatbots, intelligent merchandising or dynamic pricing, get the basics right.
If you offer a unique and quality product, seamless transactions, reliable shipping, and outstanding customer service, the rest will come. You can’t skip the basics if you want profitability and longevity.
Any predictions for the eCommerce landscape in 2019?
I think we will see…
- The battle for shipping to heat up. Traditional postal services to be disrupted by offerings such as Shippit and Drive Yello.
- Google changing the rules again. Google My Business and Shopping will be key.
- We will see a CRM strategy where platforms have a focus on omnichannel solutions. Email is still key, but needs to be supported with mobile messaging and social chat.
- We will see nervousness and wariness around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Many publicly listed companies got burnt this year. Profit, not revenue, needs to be the end goal.
- eCommerce retailers will shift closer to being retailers than tech organisations – driven by simpler technology such as Shopify and increasing competition.
- Amazon AU will keep creeping.
What are some of the projects you’re excited to be a part of this year?
I can’t say too much, but… we’re working with a large traditional retailer to replace most of their current technology stack – optimising the platform for an end-to-end omnichannel approach.
We’re also working with one of Australia’s most loved brands to better sell direct to customers, helping some not-for-profits use eCommerce to scale their access to funds, helping launch a few eComm startups who have some exceptionally smart people behind them.
And of course, continuing to grow The Digital Social here in Brisbane with three events throughout the year and some surprises to come along the way!
Finally, what are some of your favourite things to do around sunny Brisbane when not at work?
Of course, hang out with my family. My kids are 4 and 2 so we are getting to the fun age – no nappies!
I love my football – AFL and league mostly – so I try and get to as many games as possible.
We’re also renovating our house, so I like to be involved there with my delicate computer hands. And when the grandparents are in town, Sarah and I will get out to see a movie and head to the latest trendy spot to grab a bite to eat. Unfortunately by the time we get there, it’s usually not as trendy anymore…
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I’m a twenty-three year old Digital Marketing & Conversions Specialist based in Brisbane, Australia. With a passion for all things digital and tech, I aim to connect and learn from as many like-minded digital enthusiasts as possible. If you have a passion for emerging technologies and digital practices, I’d love to connect and hear your story.