The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the growth of eCommerce. 2020 saw online shopping move from mere convenience to a necessity. The number of online shoppers grew by 30% in the US, a figure not expected before 2022, while globally, eCommerce sales rose by 19%. The shift to online shopping has forced brick-and-mortar stores to venture into the online market too.
Flourishing eCommerce has not only brought massive opportunities but challenges too. Businesses that want to continue to thrive must prepare to overcome these challenges and most importantly, learn from them. What are the most significant eCommerce challenges facing businesses today and how can you overcome them? Our 3PL order fulfillment experts explain.
1. Expanded Customer Options
Today, consumers have more options on where and how to shop than ever before. The main challenge for expanded customer options is increased competition online. You face intense competition from local and international eCommerce businesses and social shops. Let's explore some of the options customers have.
- Local eCommerce Hubs: Local eCommerce hubs have sprung up to add convenience to hometown online shopping. Sites such as Shop Where I Live in the US and Angers Shopping in France increase the range of options consumers have. Shop Where I Live, for example, allows customers to shop local, online in their communities.
- Social Shops: Nowadays, it is possible to make purchases on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, thanks to social selling. You don't need to exit social media to visit a merchant's website.
- Cross-Border Selling: In 2021, new competition will not only come from local online sellers and brick-and-mortar stores but also foreign online businesses. Cross-border selling has increased by 21% YoY, with the US cross-border eCommerce growth hitting 10.2% from January to June 2020.
A good way to address this challenge is to devise ways to differentiate your business from the rest. Also, you can leverage these options to increase sales and attain competitiveness. For instance, if you are a local vendor, consider selling on a local eCommerce hub. For large national and international retailers, cross-border online selling could be a great option. Also, using an established eCommerce platform, such as Amazon, Shopify or eBay, can help streamline your online business and build visibility.
2. High Customer Expectations
Customer expectations are growing by the day. In 2021, these expectations will continue to surge. As such, online retailers must develop ways to meet the challenge of high customer expectations. Here are a few things customers will expect in 2021.
- Free Shipping: 79% of consumers contend that free shipping is the number one incentive to shop online.
- 24/7 Customer Support: 43% of shoppers expect online retailers to provide 24/7 customer service.
- Personalization: 80% of consumers will buy from a company that offers personalized experiences.
- Excellent User Experience on Websites: A user is 88% less likely to return to a website after a poor experience.
- Consistency: Consumers expect a consistent experience across desktops, phones, and tablets.
- Convenient Payment Options: Provide digital payment options such as Google Pay, PayPal, Apple Pay, Masterpass, and Payoneer.
As an online merchant, you should strive to meet your customers' expectations. Ensure you know your customers and what they expect from you, and deliver it consistently. Don’t forget to offer excellent customer service, provide free shipping if you can, audit your site for usability, and provide at least one digital payment option. If you don't meet customer expectations, your customers will shop elsewhere.
3. Increased Demand in Specific Niches
With the insistence on social distancing and staying at home due to the pandemic, there has been a looming demand in specific niches that historically had low traction. Other niches like travel, apparel, and luxury products have witnessed a decline in demand. Some of the niches that have seen an increase in demand include online groceries, home workout equipment, and home office.
While 81% of consumers report having never shopped for groceries online, almost 79% of shoppers were doing so during the pandemic. The US online grocery sales grew to a record-breaking $7.2 billion in June 2020 from 1.2 billion in August 2019.
As for home workout equipment, research shows that fitness equipment sales increased by 170% during the pandemic, especially during lockdowns. While most gyms and fitness centers remained closed, a massive demand for home fitness equipment, such as treadmills, bikes, and rowing machines, emerged.
Finally, a home needs to be more comfortable for relaxing, working, and studying, resulting in the increased demand for home office equipment. Desks, stationary, chairs and lamps continue to be in high demand.
The increased demand in various niches calls for entrepreneurs to embrace change and venture into them. The proactive online sellers will seize the day. eCommerce subscription box services are an excellent way to do this.
4. Continuing Uncertainty
In 2021, continued uncertainty will be a considerable eCommerce challenge. The uncertainty will emanate from Covid-19 and the everyday uncertainty of a swiftly changing industry. You can position yourself for this uncertainty by expecting the unexpected and being agile and innovative. You should also be flexible to adjust to the changes and leverage opportunities that come your way.
eCommerce Challenge Takeaways
As eCommerce continues to surge, it presents numerous challenges for online businesses. You may have already experienced these challenges while others are around the corner. The secret is to anticipate them and be prepared to overcome them with the actionable tips provided above.
Getting past these roadblocks is the only way to succeed in the changing eCommerce landscape. Are you struggling with eCommerce fulfillment? Contact Rakuten Super Logistics for reliable eCommerce fulfillment services that empower online retailers. We can help you grow and scale your business the right way.
Rakuten Super Logistics is a leading eCommerce order fulfillment company that provides the scalability, flexibility, and cost savings retailers demand.
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