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E-commerce

How to build an online experience that is market resilient

The global pandemic has created some major shifts in online retailing — ones that could play out for years to come. Amid the unprecedented challenges are some potential opportunities for growth. 

Covid-19 has shaken the retail industry in an unprecedented way. Consumer behaviour has radically changed — an acceleration of the shift to online that was already well underway. In the first eight weeks after the pandemic was declared, Australian e-commerce grew by 80 per cent year-on-year. According to the latest forecasts from research firm eMarketer, nearly 150 million consumers worldwide will be first-time e-commerce buyers by year’s end. Throughout Australia, record-high growth is being reported across categories, with the NAB Online Retail Sales Index showing year-on-year e-commerce sales having nearly doubled in some areas.  

To see these trends in action, one needs only to look at the latest Internet Retailing reports on e-commerce marketplaces: 

Hardware giant Bunnings has seen a 74-per-cent increase in year-on-year online traffic growth, while Grays Online has watched the number of first-time online shoppers nearly double in the past several months. Gross profits at Kogan have jumped more than 160 per cent — a record increase driven by first-time customers who are making repeat purchases 40-per-cent faster than ever.

These shopping trends don’t appear to be temporary. 

Almost two-thirds of Australian consumers surveyed by Capterra intend to do more of their shopping online in the future, and many say they’re enjoying online shopping more than in store.

For companies that focus on offering a consistent and reliable online experience, there are opportunities to maintain revenue and boost sales. In fact, recent research from BigCommerce indicates a growing number of consumers are willing to pay more or even switch retailers if it means getting orders faster and having more choice for payments and returns. Something as simple as offering delivery within two to seven business days can help influence buying decisions for 76 per cent of online shoppers.

So, what do all these shifts mean for brands and retailers?

If there’s ever been a time to consider accelerating the online side of retail business, this is it. Brands and retailers have access to a growing array of channels that make it relatively easy to do just that. 

For example, consider Kogan. It burst onto the Australian e-commerce scene in 2006 and has been making waves ever since. With more than 2 million active consumers and 11 million email subscribers, this channel offers a unique opportunity to get your products in front of millions of purchase-ready consumers.

Similar options for third-party retailing are available on Catch, MyDeal and dozens of other marketplaces around the world. As consumers continue to increase online engagement with online sellers, promoting products on these platforms can be highly effective. 

This is where expansion strategies become especially important. Adding new channels isn’t just key to resilience in the midst of lockdowns. It can also be a way to help future-proof business. The better positioned brands and retailers are to adapt to evolving consumer demands, the more likely companies will be to weather future storms.

The answer lies in centralising your e-commerce efforts. This will ensure you can meet the requirements of today’s e-commerce landscape and best position yourselves for growth now and in the future. By turning to e-commerce platforms like ChannelAdvisor to help strengthen their online performance and accelerate sales, brands and retailers can leverage powerful automation tools, enabling them to optimise product content, sync inventory, streamline the flow of orders, and sell across multiple marketplaces — all from a robust, centralised platform. 

It is important to remember that agility is key: Being able to respond quickly to the changing expectations of online shoppers can go a long way in helping to position your business to survive and thrive.

  • About the author: Simon Clarkson is MD APAC at ChannelAdvisor.
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