While the popularity of eCommerce was already climbing, the current environment has taken it to new heights., writes Jason Toshack, General Manager ANZ at Oracle NetSuite.
In 2019, online shopping increased by 17.2 per cent year on year in Australia, and this growth looks set to continue as people look to purchase a wider variety of items without having to leave their homes. Shopping ‘events’ such as Black Friday and Click Frenzy have all added to the popularity of shopping online, changing customer behaviour and expectations.
KPMG reports that we are in the ‘first wave’ of an eCommerce boom, where it is critical that businesses act fast to optimise online channels. As businesses navigate this first phase and prepare for the ‘second wave,’ which will bring returned consumer confidence, here are essential strategies business leaders can employ to optimise their online sales strategy.
Make the online experience as frictionless as possible
Customers want an effortless experience when they shop online. If the experience is difficult and fraught with obstacles, chances are they will shop elsewhere. Luckily, there are a few simple strategies you can apply to improve the shopping experience.
- Offer a range of delivery options – the range of delivery options is ever-expanding, with innovative services like Parcelpoint offering opportunities to reach customers who may not have a secure street address or post office box. It’s a good time to take stock of current delivery selections and see how they stack up: do they reach a broad geography? Are they fast and secure? How easy is it for the customer to receive the product?
- Simplify exchanges and returns – it is likely some customers will want to exchange or return their items. Perhaps the product did not match their expectations, or they simply changed their mind. Whatever the case, having a simple and intuitive exchange/return process will not only keep the customer happy, it could actually spark repeat business. For example, many e-tailers include a return address label or satchel with every delivery and even offer a discount for exchanging an item, as opposed to returning it. This simple tactic could be the difference between a return and additional revenue.
- Make payments simple – the customer has added items to their cart and is ready to make a purchase, but they can only pay with a credit card – which they don’t have at hand. By offering a range of payment methods, like PayPal, Apple Pay and even payment scheduling options like AfterPay or ZipPay, you can turn a roadblock into a conversion.
Use technology to provide actionable insights and boost transparency across the business
Business leaders need to focus on the business purpose, rallying the team behind a common goal and addressing immediate priorities. Technology should be an enabler, not an inhibitor to mastering ecommerce.
- Know your customer by using data to form actionable insights – data is one of a business’ greatest assets and should be readily available with your ecommerce solution. Data on everything, from type and average numbers of products/services purchased per customer to most popular delivery option and average fulfilment time, can be used to form actionable insights that boost sales and make the customer experience more seamless. For example, are there products that are commonly purchased together? Perhaps make them available as a pack or offer the upsell as part of a post-sale promotion. Is one payment method significantly preferred? Why not offer a quick-purchase option using this method to streamline the checkout experience. Use data to your benefit – it can tell you everything you need to know!
- Expand to new markets to realise a business opportunity – making products/services available in a new market is usually far easier online than physically expanding to a new territory. However, there are some considerations to ensure a smooth transition. Ensure the platform supports multiple countries or territories, languages, tax rates and currencies that are applicable to the new market. Create a website to support your individual brands and geographies to offer a personalised experience in every market. And don’t forget to factor in any changes to shipment and parcel tracking for every new territory.
- Use a single eCommerce platform to master omnichannel – using a single, cloud-based eCommerce solution can help you eliminate duplication and fragmentation across disparate systems and provide access to real-time data. This creates a ripple effect across the business, driving efficiencies and long-term cost savings.
Implementing and optimising an eCommerce solution should be easy if you follow a few guidelines. Ensure your online experience is as frictionless as possible, giving the customer access to options that are relevant to them. Use technology to your advantage, by delving into trend data to improve the experience, identifying new opportunities to master omnichannel, and expanding into new markets.
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