Shopify Plus recently published “The Future of E-commerce Report 2021”, which highlighted several major obstacles online retailers are likely to face moving forward.
Four Big Challenges
- Super competitive online environment propelled by the e-commerce boom.
- High acquisition costs on all marketing channels around the world.
- Consumers insisting and expecting convenience and speed.
- Retaining customers in the face of increased online competition.
What Online Retailers Can Do
Create richer mobile shopping experiences.
With almost 50% of global e-commerce transactions taking place via mobile devices, it is important that brands prioritize a lightning-fast, responsive and immersive shopping experience to capitalize on consumers’ desire for ease and immediacy.
For example, Koala, an online furniture retailer, built a headless progressive web app (PWA) that allowed new web pages, products and content to be created and deployed rapidly. This gave different customer segments the best possible experience across any device, which made it more conducive for individuals to make purchases quickly.
Experiment with tech.
Online brands should experiment with and invest more in technologies like augmented reality (AR) and 3D modelling. For instance, retailers who have these technologies can make it possible for customers to see how a piece of furniture might fit in their home or how a new piece of clothing might look on them. By creating interactive and interesting experiences, not only are brands more likely to stand out but they will also be able to convince customers to purchase products they might not necessarily have bought online before.
Convert traditional offline experiences into virtual ones.
Given the shift from offline to online shopping, retail brands should start thinking about how they can recreate offline customer and product experiences online, which could potentially help brands win customers for life. For example, Knix, an intimate apparel brand, launched a ‘virtual fitting room’ where customers scheduled a 20-minute online consultation on how to find the right size and fit online. This experience contributed towards making customers feel more confident about their purchases and increased Knix’s online sales.
Drive efficiency through automation.
Using automation to ensure timeliness and efficiency across all business processes, including inventory management, workflows and marketing, has become very important for online businesses. Many e-commerce brands have started implementing automation to complete tasks faster, which not only boosts business performance but often leaves room for employees to build more human-to-human connections with customers both online and offline.
Gymshark, a fitness apparel brand, streamlined and automated various business processes and freed up their employees to focus on delivering better customer experiences, such as online trainer-led streaming workouts as well as offline in-person expos. Through these efforts the brand was able to further engage their existing audiences and attract new ones, which significantly expanded their online community.
Enable personalization and customization.
Retailers estimate personalization can potentially unlock $2.95 trillion this decade. Ensuring your brand aligns with your customers’ values will keep them coming back for more. A great example of this is the sandwich cookie company, Oreo, which offered customers the ability to customize packaging and cookies with personalized messages and colours. By making it possible for people to express their preferences, values and individuality through the product, Oreo achieved higher customer satisfaction scores, won customer loyalty and boosted sales.