If you’re a retailer who survived Covid-19, you likely focused heavily on boosting your online sales. At the height of the pandemic, consumer behaviour changed drastically, and we witnessed 10 years of eCommerce growth in just 90 days.
But even if you’re no longer in pandemic panic mode, you need to keep improving your digital channels to keep on top of rapidly evolving eCommerce trends. An alarming prediction for businesses still lagging behind digitally is that by 2040, nearly 95% of all purchases worldwide will be online.
So, how can small to medium-sized online retailers navigate this ever-changing eCommerce landscape? Let’s wade through the jargon to explore 5 fundamental problems facing online retailers — and what you can do about it.
Nearly half of shoppers start their journey on search engines, so your store should appear near the top of search engine results pages (SERPs). You need to prioritise search engine optimisation (SEO) as part of your overall content marketing strategy.
ECommerce SEO is the process of generating more organic traffic from search engines to your online store, and ideally page 1 — only 0.63% of shoppers click on the second page.
So how do you optimise your content? Blogs that link to your product pages can be an ideal strategy — offering valuable advice to the consumer while using keywords that your target audience is searching for.
For example, if your store sells audio equipment, that could be, “The best budget noise-cancelling earphones”, or “The best budget bookshelf speakers”.
Use SEO best practices so your blog ranks high on page 1, for example:
For product pages, try not to lift content directly from manufacturers’ own promotional material. Unique, engaging product descriptions add more value to the customer, and also enhance SEO.
The design and layout of UI elements such as navigation bar and tabs has a huge effect on the customers’ overall experience. A successful eCommerce site should be easy to navigate, with a seamless browsing and sales process.
Prioritise functionality over flashy, on-trend design features, which can distract users from converting.
The user experience should be focused on mapping out the sales funnel through an intuitive user journey, with quality information that maintains trust.
The user experience will also be enhanced by keeping the user’s goal in mind throughout all channels, from marketing, through mobile, app and desktop, to develop and maintain a holistic, intuitive conversion funnel.
And offer a good support service — around 45% of users quit the transaction process if their questions aren’t answered properly.
Cyber crime costs the global economy over €6 trillion a year, and security breaches are a huge challenge facing all eCommerce businesses. Customers’ private data is the most valuable asset in eCommerce, and hackers often steal customers’ private data from retail companies through malware, ransomware, e-skimming, and can also attack through distributed denial of services (DDoS) or phishing.
The effect of a cyber attack can be devastating for an eCommerce business — your website can be forced offline, shutting down business, destroying your reputation and trust with clients, while risking a fine from the Data Protection Commission for losing this sensitive data.
Avoid or reduce risks by values cybersecurity — work with an agency that prioritises secure hosting, security maintenance and keeping software, codebase and third-party integrations up to date.
Make sure your development or hosting provider offers a robust service level agreement (SLA) with ongoing support that features the above fundamentals, as well as the ability to perform regular testing such as penetration testing, vulnerability testing and audits and reviews of code.
To keep growing, a business must keep attracting new customers, and the cost of acquiring these new customers is rapidly increasing.
Companies can calculate customer acquisition costs (CAC) by dividing all sales and marketing costs by the number of new customers gained in a given period.
You can reduce CAC by defining your target audience with greater precision, retargeting customers, rigorous A/B testing and improving customer retention.
A multichannel business model gives retailers a dynamic edge in the marketplace — boosting revenue and brand presence by exposing products to different target markets and customer types.
Managing stock across numerous channels such as in-store (click and collect), online marketplaces and a personal online shop can be complex, as each channel has its own unique challenges, a few of which are outlined below:
Your inventory should be optimised for each separate sales channel, and updated in real time, so stock can be tracked.
Underestimating demand can result in order delays, cancellations and a breakdown of customer trust. Overestimating demand can be just as damaging — if a sales channel has too much stock it can seriously affect revenue and cash flow, the stability of the business, and add extra pressure to other channels.
The most common inventory tracking issues arise from human error, especially if staff are adding repetitive data to databases. Simple keystroke errors and mishandled stocks can have a critical knock-on effect on operations.
With cloud-based inventory tracking systems, you’ll have a centralised auto-sync inventory system that will help you monitor performance and warn you with alerts for out-of-stock or in-demand products.
Seamless return policies from companies such as Amazon, Next, IKEA have raised customer expectations in recent years. To guarantee conversions and sales, build trust before a sale with a transparent, jargon-free returns policy that puts the customer first. Ideas include extended return periods, free returns, seamless return label printing, permitting returns in physical stores, or the An Post free collection service.
The latest round of Enterprise Ireland’s Online Retail Scheme is a fantastic opportunity for Irish businesses to secure €25,000 funding, or half the cost of a €50,000 eCommerce project that can transform your online offering and boost revenue and brand presence.
As a full-service agency, Matrix Internet has delivered many dynamic solutions for clients in previous rounds of the ORS, and we’ve previously explored the types of projects that can give you an edge in post-pandemic online retail.
The Online Retail Scheme deadline is May 3, so time is running out — get in touch with our eCommerce team today to discuss your application.
Want us to be your ORS partner? Let us know today!
By Conor McCaffrey
By Ruchi Singh