With more than 2 million Australians starting to shop online for the first time in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, small business owners must ensure their plans for this year match the way Aussies are searching and shopping in an increasingly digital world, writes Alison O’Brien, Head of Mid-Market & SMB, PayPal Australia.
The PayPal 2020 eCommerce Index revealed nearly two-in-five Australians (38%)1 will continue a higher level of online shopping once the pandemic is over. A preference to buy local is also likely to continue beyond the pandemic, with nearly half (46%) saying they’ll purchase more from local businesses, and two-in-five (39%) saying they’ll purchase fewer products that need to be shipped from overseas post-COVID-19. This means more consumers are online, eager to buy local products and support homegrown businesses and brands, so it’s more important than ever to look for new ways to re-energise your business strategy.
Here are five ideas to help kick off your plans for 2021:
1. Creating a seamless experience
‘Seamless’ has become a buzzword to describe the optimal online experience that customers not only want but expect. While mobile optimisation is important, there are several steps businesses should consider as they plan their entire online strategy in 2021. The cost of friction on the path to purchase can be enormous, with a quarter of consumers saying they have abandoned a purchase or payment because it was too difficult (29%).
Identifying roadblocks in the user journey that risk frustrating your customers is an important first step. The speed of transaction can be just as important, minimising time for consumers to reconsider their purchase. Once reaching the final point of checkout, the number of clicks or taps required to complete payment can be the difference between making the sale or losing a potential new customer forever. Make use of your network and ask friends or employees to test your navigation and purchase process for themselves to identify any areas for improvement.
2. Adopt safe and secure payment options
According to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC), losses to online shopping scams increased by 42% in 2020. So, there’s no surprise Australian consumers are concerned about their online safety, with over half (57%) saying trust and security concerns make them less likely to want to shop from their devices.
As more-and-more transactions move online, the perceived value and importance of safe and secure payment options continues to grow. When customers arrive on your website, they’ll often check the available payment options before committing to browsing your products. They want to see a payment provider they recognise, who they know are legitimate and ideally one they have used before. Placing payment acceptance logos and buttons on your store is a simple but effective way to quickly assure customers that they will be able to pay the way they want to.
3. Recognise the power of social media
The influence of social media on the way we connect with our community and the purchase decisions we make has increased significantly in recent years. During the pandemic, social media was a key vehicle for product discovery, with a quarter of Australians (24%) not only following the businesses and brands they love, but actually making purchases through social media platforms. In fact, the average monthly spend on social media has increased 5-fold from $5 p/month in 2019 to $25 in 2020.
Social channels enable businesses to better engage with their consumers and tell a more compelling brand story. With 37% of shoppers purchasing something after seeing it on social media, it is clearly an evolving sales channel. But some types of content work better with certain platforms and audiences, so it’s essential to consider and research the type of content that will work best for your business. If you’re targeting a B2B audience for lead generation, try LinkedIn. Or, if your goal is to showcase products in a visually exciting way to attract new customers, Instagram could be the best option for you. Remember that most users open Instagram for casual light entertainment, so consider what engaging content your customers might appreciate along with the product on offer.
4. Savvy shoppers are constantly on the hunt to save
Online discount codes and promotions will continue to be a powerful tool for driving sales in 2021. PayPal’s 2020 eCommerce Index revealed Australia is a nation of bargain hunters, with more than half of consumers (54%) admitting they always look for sales or discount codes when shopping online.
Offering a steady stream of sales and promotions that are easily accessible can be an effective promotional strategy to attract new customers, driving sales throughout the year. While retail spending continues to dominate as we navigate travel restrictions during COVID-19, these discounts and exclusive offers are more important than ever. Limited time offers are also a great way to encourage impulse purchases.
2021 is set to bring even more new opportunities for businesses, particularly as the shift to online shopping continues to grow. Taking simple and effective steps to improve your online presence and usability will strengthen the capacity for your business to respond to the new trends that will emerge this year.
5. Mobile commerce is crucial for the customer experience
Aussies have embraced the power of mCommerce in recent years, with increasing hours spent browsing social media channels and making digital purchases on the move. While there has been a spike in desktop traffic due to many of us working from home, leading to almost a quarter of Australians shopping more on laptops and desktops rather than their mobiles at this time, being mobile optimised is still incredibly important for the overall customer experience. In fact, almost half of Australians (49%) shop on their mobiles at least once a week and this figure jumps to two-thirds for young shoppers – Gen Y (66%) and Gen Z (65%).
With convenience and safety front of mind for many Australians, now is a great time to optimise the customer experience across your mobile channels, kickstarting your year by driving greater engagement online. This means creating a secure and seamless user journey on mobile devices and minimising any friction that may cause customers to abandon their purchase altogether.
1 PayPal’s research was conducted with 1022 Australian consumers over 18 years old who own a smartphone. Deloitte 2019 estimates smartphone penetration in Australia at 91% and Statista 2015-2022 estimates smartphone penetration in Australia at 71% For the purposes of extrapolation, this document has taken a mid-point for smartphone penetration in Australia of 81%.
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