E-Commerce is experiencing a fantastic surge today as more people go online to purchase goods and services. In this article, we’ll talk about the factors influencing such customer behavior, and provide some tips on how online stores can get ready for the increased consumer demand and capitalize on it.
Factors Driving the Increased Popularity of Online Shopping
For the past two decades, electronic commerce has matured from an inconspicuous invention to a global multimillion-dollar industry. It has become a common practice for millions of people around the world to buy things online.
According to Statista, there were 1.8 billion digital buyers globally in 2018. The number is predicted to rise to over 2.14 billion by 2021.
There are several important factors facilitating e-Commerce development.
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Digital Transformation Era
With emerging technologies that have been intensively gaining traction over the last decades, digital transformation has become pervasive and has penetrated literally every business, industry, as well as people’s daily routines, bringing significant changes with it.
The trade industry felt the impact of digital transformation in the early days of the internet with evolving web development, when retailers started creating websites for their shops. These were the first steps in moving shopping online and creating the e-Commerce concept. Later, the industry benefited from improved connectivity options and expanded with help from various services based on cloud computing and the Internet of Things. Today, the shopping experience depends on numerous digital technologies to a large extent.
The invention of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices was one of the triggers for e-Commerce evolution. Mobile shopping app development resulted in obvious benefits for customers: they were given an opportunity to search for goods and place orders any time, anywhere.
Currently, m-commerce is on the rise with more than 60 percent of consumers shopping via mobile apps, and the number is forecast to reach 73 percent by 2021.
Such a growth rate can be explained by the fact that users start their buying journey from researching goods online and expect instant results. The most convenient way to begin the journey is to use mobile devices.
Advanced Customer Experience
Another reason why online shopping has grown so much recently is the advanced customer experience that modern companies can offer to their users:
- Unique content personalization
- Omnichannel experiences
- 24/7 customer support
Thanks to new features and services, the digital shopping experience can compare to in-store shopping by many parameters. In some ways, it is becoming even more comfortable as retailers can get as well-acquainted with their online customers as face-to-face.
Convenience and Time-Saving
It’s always important for buyers to feel comfortable in all aspects and waste no time throughout the buying process. Modern online shopping portals offer various opportunities to customize shopping experiences, so they seem more attractive to many users.
Critical needs of today’s online shoppers include:
- Relevant information about products
- Multiple interaction channels
- Checkout and delivery options
- Ongoing support
- Seamless returns policy
If an online e-Commerce store is based on the appropriate software, it is able to fulfill these needs easily. SAP is currently the leading e-Commerce software provider. Its Customer Experience (CX) Suite integrates solutions for digital marketing, sales, data management and customer support, providing a consistent and personalized omnichannel shopping experience.
COVID-2019 Pandemic and Economic Crisis
The year 2020 is marked by the unprecedented global economic crisis unleashed by the coronavirus epidemic. In the tough circumstances of quarantine, self-isolation, and recommended social distancing, the shopping patterns of the majority of people have changed significantly.
Users started turning to online shops either to avoid crowds or because they can’t find the goods they need in brick-and-mortar stores.
For a couple of months, online sales have skyrocketed. And experts predict that this level will not fall, as people have discovered the convenience of new services and liked it.
On the one hand, the situation is devastating for small and medium retail businesses that haven’t had an online presence until now. They can’t quickly react to the situation by offering internet purchasing and delivery options, and in the absence of clients, they are forced to close.
On the other hand, the crisis opens up new opportunities for shops and supermarkets. They should rethink their commerce approach and consider moving their business to the internet. This decision will definitely force a wave of disruption, but it will increase revenue over time.
Win or lose!
Make Your Web Store Benefit from Increased Consumer Demand
Whether you are an online store owner or are interested in selling products online, we want to share some tips on how to accelerate your e-Commerce transition.
1. No Strategy — No Success
A well-thought-out strategy is a very first step to higher revenue. Here are a few points you should remember:
- Thoroughly analyze user preferences and find out which products are your bestsellers
- Focus on promoting goods people want to buy most of all and don’t waste time on unsellable goods
- Categorize your audience and create personalized sales offerings based on consumer profiles
Remember that improvisation is not your ally and, without preliminary planning and preparation, your store will get lost in the sea of lucrative offers from your competitors.
2. Website Performance Optimization
The rise of the online shopping demand is especially challenging for technical specialists supporting websites of retailers. The websites must withstand an increased load on online stores and prevent outages when potential customers start coming in droves at the same time.
Technical issues may cost retailers billions in lost revenue because today’s online shoppers are quite impatient. Quick page loading speed is definitely important for increasing site user loyalty. Look at the way every second counts, according to Forrester Consulting:
- 47 percent of users expect a web page to load in two seconds or less
- 40 percent of users abandon a site if pages load more than three seconds
- 79 percent of shoppers will not return to the online store if they experienced performance issues
- A one-second delay can result in seven percent fewer conversions
Fast and reliable resource performance contributes to higher user satisfaction and encourages customer loyalty. Traffic increase should not affect response time and customer satisfaction.
To explore and estimate the website’s operation specificity, which is its traffic, speed, scalability and stability, a team conducts performance tests. The role of performance testing is to examine the following criteria:
- A page’s download speed under the normal conditions
- The necessity to optimize server hardware
- The ability to optimize the performance without changing particular server hardware (scalability) or lack thereof
- The influence that a heavy request increase has on the page retrieval time
- The number of requests when the server stops processing them or reduces the response number drastically
Depending on the purpose of the performance examination, it falls into the following types:
- Traditional load testing. This method examines how the website behaves under standard and expected peak traffic.
- Stress testing. It allows identifying how the website performs under abnormal conditions, whether it does not respond or responds with a significant delay. Also, it helps measure peak operating capability.
- Capacity testing. This method estimates how many users and transactions the website can handle, under the condition that the performance meets the declared level.
So, performance testing allows you to examine the website’s behavior patterns under various traffic volumes and conditions. Also, it helps find vulnerable spots.
To increase the stability of your store, you can also improve storage capacity by using cloud solutions.
The fact is that if you don’t ensure the smooth operations of your website under challenging conditions, your rivals will end up with your potential clients.
Read also: SaM Solutions’ Test Automation Platform
3. Mobile Optimization
It’s the new normal that a website, however good and smooth, is no longer enough for a successful business. Consumers prefer being mobile in any situation, and shopping is not an exception; hence a mobile solution for an e-Commerce company is a must.
If you haven’t jumped on the mobile bandwagon yet, we suggest you hurry. There are two options:
- Optimize your website for mobile, i.e. make it look and function on mobile device screens of all sizes as well as it does on desktops
- Develop a mobile app for your store
For instance, fifty-four percent of online transactions on Cyber Monday in 2017 came from mobile devices, which was the first time ever when mobile orders outpaced desktop orders. By 2021, mobile shopping is predicted to comprise 75 percent of all online sales.
4. Omnichannel Sales
The approach of omnichannel commerce puts the focus on providing a comprehensive customer experience regardless of the channel a customer uses to engage with a brand. A website, a mobile app, social networks, a physical store, or a self-pickup point — these are the touchpoints you should make available for your users to engage with your company.
Why is it important? More than 54 percent of shoppers use several channels on their journey to purchase; for instance, they can research a product via an app, then order it on the website and pick it up at the store. Certainly, every user appreciates the option of being able to choose the most convenient logistics, and if you provide this freedom of choice, you can greatly increase customer loyalty.
Some more tips for improving customer experience across various channels:
- Add a chatbot, a live chat, and a messenger for instant reaction to user requests
- Allow multiple payment options
- Consider the presence of your goods on popular online marketplaces, e.g. Amazon or Etsy, as such cooperation can be mutually beneficial
5. Digital Advertising
A very prudent approach to promoting your online store is to create advertising campaigns across various digital channels. These are:
- Social media
- E-mail and text message notifications
- Digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising — info kiosks, digital signage
These activities heighten customer interest and significantly increase the percentage of clients you will see for the days of sales in advance.
6. Stock Status and Delivery Time
Well, you might be set as far as attracting clients, and they might be ready to order from you. But it’s not over yet.
The final stage is order processing and delivery, and it also needs thorough planning. Just imagine that you can’t fulfill an order because you’ve run out of goods or can’t deliver them on time. That would be an epic fail!
So, check your stock status and fill your warehouse with sufficient goods. Additionally, arrange a seamless delivery service with accurate delivery time, and provide an option of contactless delivery — quite relevant today.
You can easily perform this job by implementing a good enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.
7. Cyber Security
On top of all, successful digital relationships between brands and customers should be based on trust. If you want to earn your customers’ trust, you should offer them transparency and security concerning their personal data.
- Collect and process personal data upon user consent
- Provide GDPR compliance
- Provide secure registration and login
- Use identity management software
In this way, you’ll demonstrate respect to your clients and will be able to attract a loyal audience.
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Are You Ready for E-Commerce?
With our best tips on how to get ready for the rise of online shopping, you can now assess the state of your existing web store and make some improvements, or create a comprehensive plan for your future e-Commerce business.
Make the most out of the situation with SaM Solutions. We offer help in developing e-Commerce solutions both for small retailers and large businesses. Years of expertise with SAP, Magento and Sitecore projects make our company a reliable provider of software services. Don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss.