Online Sales – Growth Opportunities and How To Take Advantage Of Them

The first-ever item sold on Amazon in the year 1995 was a book and after 20 years its sales have grown to 2 trillion US dollars worldwide.

Online sales have revolutionized the retail industry. It has been constantly evolving and continuously meeting the changing needs of the people around the world. 

Initially, e-commerce was very basic and provided limited opportunities but now it is highly customized, better return policies, integration, and a lot more. Ecommerce is growing rapidly and it has now become a way of life. In the time of lockdown and COVID-19, digitalization has increased a lot and if you want growth of your business then you should opt for online store and mobile commerce.

Growth Opportunities for ECommerce in 2020: 

1. Growth of online sales is unstoppable: Online sales have grown positively over the years. Sales have increased from 1.3 trillion in the year 2014 to 4.5 trillion to date. The popularity of eCommerce varies depending upon the region. You should check for eCommerce trends and market accordingly to get the maximum benefit of eCommerce. The increase of eCommerce is because it is a lot more convenient and now people are not hesitant to buy things online. Websites are increasingly becoming customer-friendly and advanced, so the growth of eCommerce is inevitable.

2. After COVID-19, there are the biggest impacts on the eCommerce trends in 2020. As the government is shutting down the stores and then implementing the lockdowns for restriction of the social movements for various months for fighting the coronavirus so more and more people are inclining towards online shopping for purchasing various items. The impact of coronavirus will be long term and will stay even after COVID-19. This is because people will get used to the convenience and comfort that eCommerce offers and also will feel the benefits of online payments which will increase inclination towards digital shopping. 

Because of the corona pandemic, the penetration rates are expected to increase to 25 per cent for online stores. But this hurts brick and mortar stores that have not gone digital yet. 

3. Mobile commerce is growing: With the introduction of smartphones, mobile commerce has grown tremendously. Now 73% of online shopping is done via mobile phones. Mobile phones are increasingly used to browse products and do research before online purchases. Mobile shopping is becoming popular amongst the youth who have grown up with advanced mobile phones. Now eCommerce websites are optimized for mobile devices too.

4.The advent of voice commerce: Now internet users are increasingly making use of voice shopping. With smart speakers, people need not type or search they can just speak and buy things digitally. The number of people opting for voice commerce will increase by 55% until the year 2022. With the introduction of Echo and Alexa voice-controlled devices, voice shopping has gained popularity but it is still in its nascent stage. Currently, voice shopping is primarily used for browsing and searching for products. 

5. Contribution of social media in online shopping: Social media marketing has become a major platform for attracting online shoppers. Now it is possible to shop via social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. On social media platforms, people can give realistic reviews and video testimonials too. So, the number of social shoppers has increased to a great extent. So, brands are now improving their social media reputation and even small businesses and startups can compete with big brands on social media. 

Even most eCommerce platforms are integrating social media to update the latest products and discounts from their website directly. Nowadays video sharing has also gained a lot of popularity. Social media are now becoming channels to inspire shopping trends and so brands have to take it seriously. 

6. Buyers are influenced by environmental topics: Brands need to think about green consumerism because consumers are now paying attention to environmental concerns too. Environmentally friendly practices attract more customers as people think that your brand is responsible for the environment.

7. Artificial Intelligence: Retailers spend a lot of money on artificial intelligence and it is estimated to grow further. AI retailers can provide personalized customer experience and this gives them a competitive edge over others. By making use of AI businesses get the benefit of automated marketing and better customer service too. AI also helps in optimizing discounts and pricing and also forecasting. AI also helps in knowing customer behaviour and improving customer loyalty.

8. The online shopping experience is transformed using augmented reality: Many online stores are now making use of augmented reality technology which gives enhanced shopping experience. With AR technology the gap between online and offline shopping is reduced because the products can be visualized before shopping. If you implement AR technology for your brand then you can stay ahead of your competition because it gives better detail of products and the shopping experience is highly personalized. AR shows the quality of products and customers can explore each and every feature of the services and products that you offer.

9. The future of online shopping is personalization: Almost half of the online shoppers want to get a personalized shopping experience. With this customer relationships can be made strong and there is better customer satisfaction. It is important to provide better product recommendations to your customers so that they can trust your brand. Now is the time to improve your personalized shopping experience and give your customers better online shopping facilities and attract more customers too. Personalization can be done in email marketing,

SMS marketing, showing related products based on product search, and browsing data. You can offer relevant discounts to your customer groups with personalization. This makes online shopping a lot more engaging and improved overall shopping experience. It improves customer loyalty too towards your brand.

10. There is a rise in visual commerce: The main problem that people face while using e-commerce is that you are selling products to people who are not interacting with your products physically. This is when visual commerce is being used. This is the next generation of technology which provides normal static visuals. This makes marketing a lot more effective because instead of just using product photos you can put visual data for your product. This includes interactive content, consumer-generated media, augmented reality, and engaging videos.

Visual commerce is increasingly being used in e-commerce stores according to research. The image recognition market is continuously growing recently and will further grow considerably. Image recognition feature is most prevalent in the region of North America which shows the demand for visual content in US citizens.

How to take advantage of e-commerce growth?

It is expected that there will be a growth in e-commerce sales of around 8 to 12 per cent this year. These figures are getting higher because of the COVID-19 pandemic and as compared to offline sales, this industry is expected to grow 3 times faster. The revenue that will be generated by online sales is expected to go around $427 to $443 billion this year, according to research done by the national retail federation. This means that if you have an online store then you need to be on your toes to attract customers. With the booming growth of e-commerce now is the time to take advantage of online sales strategy.

The game of online shopping is now a lot more advanced and is more focused on seamless branding, stellar customer service, and efficient automation. If you too want to take advantage of the growth of the e-commerce industry, here are four tips which if implemented can help you take your business to the top. Keep these in mind while you examine the shipping and marketing aspects of your online business in order to ensure that you generate additional revenue with the growth of the e-commerce market.

A. Build your Brand: Make sure to include your branding in all marketing and packaging stuff. In whichever way you are communicating with your customers whether, via free gifts on the purchase, giveaways, heavy discounts, free shipping, etc, you have to make sure that your branding such as social media links, logos, website links, etc are included in it. You should not confine these elements only to email marketing campaigns but do include it in each communication that you send including shipment tracking pages, confirmation emails, delivery emails, return labels, invoices, etc. 

By using your brand labels everywhere you emphasize building your brand recognition and awareness which is necessary to generate new customers and improve the loyalty of existing customers. It is needed to help your customers remember your brand so that they keep on coming back to you. 

B. Use Automation to Save Time and Money: If you are getting orders from numerous marketplaces then you might not be able to stay organized. Also, it can be overwhelming to use different shipping carriers. By making use of automated shipping software for the fulfillment of e-commerce orders, you can simplify the process of shipping and order management. This can drastically reduce the time required for processing and also your shipping costs. Repetitive tasks can be automated and this will improve accuracy and save your precious time too. 

You can reduce shipping fees by comparing rates across various services and carriers in automated software. Smart retailers make use of software to apply shipping methods automatically to international and domestic orders, manage returns efficiently, and insure their orders automatically. If shipping is automated your resources are available to manage other parts of the business. 

C. Improve your Customer Service: Make sure to have your return policy simple and clear and also notify your customers about policy changes. It should also be mentioned on your website. This will make it easy for customers to know and understand your policies and it increases pre-sales trust and improves the quality of interaction with customers. Online shopping is becoming a new trend for retail business and so just like many businesses, you should also focus on answering your customer queries promptly or hire a dedicated resource for customer service. No matter where your customer is trying to contact you, be it social media, your website, or email you should be ready to respond. Also, make your FAQ page clear and easily accessible and updated too so that customers can get their replies quickly via the FAQ section. 

D. Become a Returns Hero: According to research customer loyalty increases when the return process and policies of the brand or website are customer-friendly and simple. Giving fast response to requests for returns can make a difference between retail giants and small sellers. You should supply return labels without doing any kind of resistance, credit refunds promptly, and eliminate restocking fees to build trust and loyalty amongst your customers. If you are able to absorb the costs associated with returns then it can be a big win-win situation for your business. If you are charging your customer a fee for a return then they are likely to go to your competitor’s website. If you want to ensure that your customer comes back to you again and again then make sure that you make the returns process painless. 

For an e-commerce business, customer service and efficiency are key. By improving this you can make happy customers, streamline the fulfilment process, and improve your revenue growth. 

It is quite important to invest in e-commerce and mobile commerce for any business in today’s competitive environment. Now e-commerce is not only about having an online store but one should remain updated regarding the trends and changes that are taking place in the online market. Your e-commerce website should be ready to provide an enhanced shopping experience to your customers and build a strong bond with them to improve brand loyalty. If you want to stay in the competition and build your brand then it is important to monitor and adapt to e-commerce trends. Even if your e-commerce brand is on the top if you do not change according to the changing trends then there will be other brands that will supersede you. So follow these trends and stay on top. 

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