Since Covid hit, the growth of e-commerce has leaped into full gear, grabbing the attention of shoppers and businesses alike.
In fact, a recent Adobe study found e-commerce accelerated by up to 6 years during the pandemic, reaching $82.5 billion—a whopping 77% year-on-year rise.
Covid has even bolstered notoriously slower months. In January 2021, online UK purchases made up a record-breaking 35.2% of retail sales. While the US experienced a 45.2% hike in online sales over the 2020 holiday period alone.
These figures are exciting for e-commerce sellers—but the pandemic isn’t the only reason for this rapid growth.
E-commerce has made impressive strides in its own right. And thanks to technological advances, changes in consumer expectations, and more sophisticated logistics, the upward trend is here to stay.
But what does the growth of e-commerce mean for your business? And is your business equipped to stand the test of time in this ultra-competitive era of e-commerce?
Let’s find out.
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E-commerce Growth and Demand: Here’s What We’ll Cover
- E-commerce Growth: The Gift That Keeps On Giving
- Why The e-commerce Growth Boom Is Here to Stay
- Ensure Your E-commerce Store Stands the Test of Time
- Optimize for e-commerce growth
- Onboard the right tech stack
- Shorten the steps in your checkout process
- Sell your story
- Invest in a strong social media presence
- The Ultimate Strategy for Enviable E-commerce Growth
E-commerce Growth: The Gift That Keeps On Giving
There’s a lot of speculation on why e-commerce has taken center stage.
Are people bored and just filling their time shopping online? Or maybe it’s a government-backed ploy to reignite the economy?
The answer is neither.
E-commerce has been winning for a while, so when the pandemic struck, e-commerce wasn’t just ready to pick up the slack—it was in a position to hit the gas and thrive.
Let’s look at the reasons why:
1. Online shopping blends seamlessly with social media
E-commerce and social media have a strong mutually beneficial relationship—37% of consumers use social media to research, get inspired, investigate their next purchase, and then click over to an online store to seal the deal.
2. More stores are merging offline and online experiences
E-commerce isn’t just building its future, it also helps physical stores secure theirs by removing in-store shopping annoyances.
For example, thanks to the infrastructure laid by e-commerce, shoppers now benefit from things like:
- Click and collect in store and in lockers.
- Order online in-store for out of stocks or pre-orders.
- Online pre-orders save customers’ time (and now for social distancing purposes).
This arrangement improves customer satisfaction and helps physical stores recover sales that would have otherwise been lost.
3. E-commerce helps entrepreneurs reclaim their time
Every seasoned e-commerce seller knows time is money. Wasting it on tedious admin tasks can lead to burnout, and see you waving goodbye to all the money you could have earned.
But thanks to advancements in e-commerce technology, a new breed of tech-savvy e-commerce sellers are lessening their opportunity cost, and recovering their precious time by automating back-office tasks through apps and software. 💪
The world of e-commerce automation includes everything from sales optimization tools (like cart recovery and upselling apps) to customer service chatbots and third-party logistics integrations.
This setup leaves e-commerce entrepreneurs with more resources to funnel into revenue-producing activities to grow faster, making success a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’.
4. Online selling is flexible
Physical store retailers with no online channels have paid a heavy price by not embracing e-commerce.
For example, UK clothing retailer Primark is set to lose up to a tear-jerking £1 billion because it refused to go online during the pandemic.
In other words, having an e-commerce arm to your business is no longer a ‘nice to have’—it’s essential to stay operational when disaster strikes, and failure to get on board could lead to closing your doors for good.
E-commerce is more agile than physical stores and less likely to be wiped out. With its additional flexibility, online and offline stores can work in unison rather than compete against each other.
5. E-commerce fits into the hectic modern-day lifestyle
We live in a busy, hyper-digital world where we’re continually glued to our mobile phones.
In this tech-heavy world, shopping has shifted from scheduled weekend mall visits to on-the-fly shopping sprints from the comfort of your couch.
This unlimited access to shopping has helped e-commerce’s rise and remarkable growth figures:
- According to Statista, in 2019 e-commerce sales made up almost 14% of all global sales, hitting $3.53 trillion, and is expected to top a staggering $6.54 trillion by 2022.
- Shopify’s cumulative data predicts there will be a 276.9% rise in e-commerce purchases worldwide over the most recently tracked period.
- With 3.8 billion people using smartphones globally and the average American spending 3 hours and 10 minutes on their phones each day, e-commerce offers entrepreneurs the perfect opportunity to get in front of time-poor, scroll-obsessed consumers.
Why the E-commerce Growth Boom Is Here to Stay
Despite the facts, some business owners still aren’t convinced e-commerce will continue to boom, and continue to think of it as a passing fad.
But we know better.
Let’s delve a bit deeper to figure out how we know e-commerce is here to stay:
It’s easier to enter new markets and scale fast
As an e-commerce business owner, you have a whole world of opportunity at your fingertips.
Here are a few benefits of taking your biz online:
- You have the potential to make money in different countries and multiple currencies on one platform.
- You can quickly complete the setup process, meaning you’re open and ready for business in hours or days rather than months or years.
- Scaling is faster and more affordable.
- Sites like Amazon UK allow you to optimize listings in the native language of the country you’re selling to in order to increase conversions globally.
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The opportunities for e-commerce growth are endless
These days owning an e-commerce store isn’t a one-and-done affair. In fact, businesses that sell on more than one marketplace can explode their revenue by a whopping 190%.
There are a million and one other platforms that allow you to expand your store with little fuss while diversifying income streams to reduce business risk, boost conversions, and serve across platforms, generations, and genders.
For example, on top of your e-commerce website, you can now utilize social media storefronts on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. This seamless integration of social media and shopping has gone so well that 87% of customers want a consistent cross-channel shopping experience.
Selling on Behemoth e-tail sites like Amazon, Taobao, and Alibaba is also profitable as they get the lion’s share of online sales. Research by KPMG found they collect a whopping 80% of all online sales in China and India, 69% in Japan, 68% in Italy, and 65% in South Africa—all higher than the global average of 50%.
You can provide an enhanced customer shopping experience
E-commerce isn’t perfect. People often complain about frustrating aspects of online shopping like not being able to touch items, finding time to send back products, and receiving items that don’t match their description.
Yet, there’s one aspect of e-commerce that trumps all the negative: simplicity.
Here’s why e-commerce works:
- It’s fast: When you can jump from ordering an item to holding it in your hands in less than 24 hours, it’s no surprise consumers love this way of shopping.
- It hits the right spots: Before the pandemic, a Neilsen study found the top 4 reasons people buy online were affordable pricing, door-to-door delivery, saving time, and a wider selection.
- Consumers expect it: This is partly down to the ‘Amazon’ effect. Services like Prime, one-click payment options, personalized shopping recommendations, and promotions, have set customer expectations very high. In fact, consumers have been so accustomed to tailored experiences that 74% of customers report feeling frustrated when website content isn’t personalized.
- It’s affordable: E-commerce stores can also make their items more affordable because, unlike physical stores, they don’t have to account for things like rent in their pricing.
- It outcompetes brick-and-mortar stores: E-commerce’s accessibility, convenience, user-friendly CX, and pricing can’t be outdone by brick-and-mortar stores, even with ‘click and collect’ options.
E-commerce stores are global citizens
Thanks to continuous improvements in e-commerce tech, logistics, and payment processing, cross-border orders are no longer a barrier to e-commerce thriving overseas, and it’s on the rise worldwide.
The fact customers aren’t afraid to look further afield to find the things they need helps to fuel the e-commerce growth trends seen today.
For example, a Neilsen study found 57% of online shoppers worldwide buy from sellers overseas. While Shopify anticipates 2.1 trillion people will buy goods and services online, global e-commerce sales will hit a staggering 4.8 trillion by the end of 2021.
Ensure Your E-commerce Store Stands the Test of Time
Top-notch copy, photos, and branding are vital for success—but as e-commerce growth trends continue to rise, you may be leaving money on the table by missing out on other crucial branding must-haves.
Let’s jump into the detail to figure out some simple ways to stand-out fast:
Optimize for e-commerce growth
- Videos: Adding short videos to your website can drastically improve your conversion rate—in fact, 73% of site visitors will purchase after watching a product how-to video. Since customers can’t feel the items, videos bring them to life by highlighting specific details, offering scales of reference, and explaining product benefits.
- Mobile optimization: Make sure you optimize different devices like mobile and tablets. Here’s why:
- Researchers expect mobile e-commerce sales to reach 72.8% of global retail sales (up from 52.4% in 2016).
- 60% of shoppers begin product research on a mobile device.
- Two-thirds of the global population uses a smartphone, and two-thirds do shopping on their mobile via apps.
- Languages and currencies: To help shoppers feel at ease on your site, you’ll need to invest in localization. Localization involves tweaking your site to give international visitors a shopping experience no different from their typical native shopping experience. This includes things like currency and language(s). Just be sure to find a fair payment solution like our Digital Wallet.
- Pro tips: Don’t rely on automated translation services. Hire reputable translators who can weave in regional language nuances that software might miss. Also, try to find payment processors with great currency conversion fees so you can pass it on to your overseas customers. If you need a hand, check out Google’s localization guide.
- Free returns: Returns are painful enough for customers, without having to pay for them. With 56% of consumers saying free returns are important in their purchasing decision, make sure to build returns into your e-commerce pricing, and account for around 10% of returns when working out business liquidity.
Use the right tech stack
If you want to scale, optimizing your business technology is a game-changer. It can drive leads and sales while providing a superior, immersive customer shopping experience.
For example, if you own a clothing store, you could use AI to help customers find the right fit and style. You could also implement cross-selling apps to suggest current promotions, and even implement chatbots to help with customer service queries.
Shorten the steps in your checkout process
To improve your conversions, remove any bloat in your store’s shopping process and track every step of your customer journey. Remember, you’re competing with stores like Amazon and its ultra-quick shopping flow.
Start by checking whether your site:
- Is intuitive: Does your e-commerce store have buttons and information where customers universally expect them? For example, when a visitor clicks on your logo, it should return them to your home page.
- Forces visitors to create an account before checking out: This issue could annoy some customers and cause an abandoned cart.
- Has quick payment options: No one likes filling in card details, so if you don’t already, it’s time to start offering an express checkout.
Sell your story
In a laser-focused attempt to grow, some online store owners forget about the more human storytelling elements that sell.
Distinguish yourself by sharing your brand’s story, mission, and what makes you get up every day, to build an affinity and community around your products.
Remember, in e-commerce, it costs 5X more to acquire new customers than to sell to existing ones, so gaining customer loyalty is key to outdoing the competition.
Invest in a strong social media presence
Social media and e-commerce go hand in hand.
Without a solid social media presence, it can be challenging to build a reputation as a reliable e-commerce store.
Engage consistently with your audience, add value to gain their trust, and be sure to work with influencers on a range of social channels to boost your brand awareness, increase traffic, and improve conversions.
Note: A Google study found collaborations with YouTubers are 4X more successful at increasing brand familiarity than celebrities, so reach out to influencers in your network for maximum reach.
The Ultimate Strategy for Enviable E-commerce Growth
There will always be a debate on whether e-commerce is here to stay—but there’s no denying why e-commerce growth has been so aggressive: it simply does it better. 😉
From selection to delivery, e-commerce makes the customer experience easy, fun, and personal. This magic formula is hard to beat and keeps customers coming back again and again.
If you’re keen to set your e-commerce growth on fire, personalize everything from product recommendations to tailored promotions to make customers feel right at home when they land on your site. Show you care about your customers and they’ll soon become advocates and help build a group of devoted fans that keep returning for more.
The options are endless as the industry continues to grow, so sit back, relax, and watch the dough from your stellar e-commerce growth roll in.
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