The global ecommerce market is currently worth $6.3 trillion, and it’s growing year over year. One fifth (20.8%) of retail sales are expected to take place online in 2023, and these numbers are only set to increase – by 2026, ecommerce sales are expected to account for almost one quarter of all retail purchases.
These numbers indicate consumer demand and vast opportunity for retailers – but that doesn’t mean ecommerce is an easy conquest. With average cart abandonment as high as 88%, there are many things that retailers need to get right in order to deliver an ecommerce experience that satisfies customers and keeps them coming back.
Here, we’ll explore the top issues that retailers face when it comes to ecommerce management, with advice on how to overcome them and create a solid strategy that will drive business growth.
Inventory management challenges
How much are people going to buy, and how do you prepare for it? Demand forecasting and inventory optimization have always been among the biggest challenges that retailers face, and the ecommerce landscape is no different.
How to approach demand forecasting
In order to ship items on time while also growing profits, retailers need to have a clear understanding of what customers are going to want, how much of it, and when.
This information impacts inventory management and informs how much product retailers need to have on hand, and how to structure ordering and production in order to satisfy industry demand.
Demand forecasting is all about data. This includes internal factors, such as your own marketing efforts, pricing strategy, and how much access customers have to your products. It also includes external factors, such as customer referrals, behaviour from your competition, and general marketplace trends.
Successful demand forecasting uses a combination of in-house data and external research to build a model that you can use to project sales.
In-house data includes:
- Sales reports
- Web traffic analysis
- Peak shopping periods
- Customer surveys and focus groups
External research includes:
- News reports
- Cultural trends and predictions
- Social media sentiment
- Market research
- Competitor analysis
Successful ecommerce retailers gather this information and use machine learning technology and artificial intelligence to process it. In doing so, you can generate analytics to support demand forecasting.
From there, it’s a matter of using this information to devise a strategy and feeding the results back into the tools to get even more accurate reports and projections in the future.
How to approach inventory optimisation, warehouse operations, and fulfilment efficiency
Inventory optimization and fulfilment is closely connected to demand forecasting. Once you have a projected demand, it’s time to plan resources accordingly and ensure you have enough products and materials to meet customers’ needs, and enough staff on hand to process and deliver orders.
Of course, inventory management is very specific to the product and business at hand – for example, building and distributing new cars requires a different set of considerations compared to fulfilling orders for homemade soap.
However, the principles at the heart of inventory optimisation and fulfilment efficiency remain the same:
- Create streamlined workflows that have the ability to scale, based on your demand projections
- Use inventory tracking systems to monitor performance and ensure you’re able to react
- Develop strong partnerships with fulfilment operators who can support you in the ways you need, such as delivery drivers or warehouse operatives
- Analyse operations and data at regular intervals to find opportunities to optimise and improve
Customer experience and engagement
Your retail operations are only successful if you have an engaged and active customer base – which means delivering a great customer experience at every step of the journey.
In order to differentiate from competitors and maintain customer loyalty, retailers need to be thinking about every stage of the journey, from marketing efforts all the way to the checkout experience.
How to deliver a personalized customer experience
As the ecommerce world grows and becomes more nuanced, so do the expectations of your customers – 69% of customers say they want an online experience that’s personalized and consistent.
Personalization and targeted marketing are becoming a necessity for retailers who want to remain competitive, and, when executed effectively, it’s an investment that is worthwhile – 90% of businesses believe personalization is a contributor to profitability.
When looking for ways to include personalization as part of your marketing and retention strategy, it’s important to find opportunities that will feel authentic and natural for customers. This requires:
- A data-led approach, so you can build campaigns and create content based on a strong understanding of who your customers are, what they’re looking for, and what they respond to
- Segmenting marketing efforts and building strategies for specific customer demographics and channels – this might include different email marketing campaigns or social media advertising geared towards different audiences
- Delivering personalised product recommendations at key customer moments, such as through email marketing or during the checkout experience
Explore more tips on boosting customer loyalty and revenue.
How to deliver a seamless checkout experience
For many retailers, cart abandonment is the metric that ecommerce success hinges upon – and, in fact, your checkout experience is a crucial moment not only for conversion but also retention and customer loyalty.
- Extra costs at the checkout
- Having to create an account
- Pages taking too long to load
- Having to fill out too many steps
- Errors with coupon codes
Many of these problems can be solved by creating a seamless checkout experience. This means:
- Providing customers with transparency about taxes, shipping, and any additional costs as early as possible in their shopping journey
- Giving them the option to checkout as a guest and minimizing the number of steps between the ‘add to cart’ and ‘complete order’ process
- Optimizing your site speed (more on that below) and reducing page load errors, coupon errors, and other disruptive factors that lead to a poor experience
As part of these checkout optimizations, it’s important to consider the payment options you’re offering and how they’re presented – 9% of shoppers say they have failed to complete a transaction because the payment methods at the checkout weren’t satisfactory.
Spitit’s white-label installment payment platform solves many cart abandonment problems at once. Customers are given a flexible and alternative payment solution, with a quick and simple approval process that involves minimal steps. Because it’s a white-label platform, this all exists within your own branding, which means less confusion and distraction for customers at this key moment in their journey.
Learn more about how to optimize payment processing strategies to boost conversion.
Website performance and user experience
As well as providing a great experience within the checkout, it’s key to create a seamless journey across every touchpoint of your ecommerce landscape.
This includes optimizing your website to perform well from a technical perspective, as well as considering customer experience across different devices (especially mobile).
How to optimize site speed and page load
Slow site speed is one of the top reasons for cart abandonment and is key to conversion – 70% of people say that page speed impacts their willingness to buy from an ecommerce retailer.
Web page load time covers how quickly all content on a page loads for a user, including text, images, video, and whatever other elements may be important to the user experience.
A 2019 study found that page speed fluctuations between 0-5 seconds had the highest impact on conversion rates, and conversion was highest on pages with load times between 0-2 seconds.
Improving site speed can involve a variety of technical elements, content choices, and design strategies. Some key ways to optimize web page load times include:
- Investing in a high performance hosting platform
- Decreasing file size by compressing and optimizing image files
- Caching pages, either at the server level or via plugin, and considering a browser caching service
- Minifying your code to decrease file size and encourage faster page loading
How to optimize your site for mobile
As ecommerce grows, so does mcommerce (mobile commerce). There are a reported 6.8 billion smartphone users in the world as of 2022, which is more than 80% of the entire world’s population – and these people are shopping online.
With growing activity on mcommerce, retailers must prioritize their mobile experience. Mobile cart abandonment rate is 84%, which means there’s a clear need to optimize for smartphone shoppers. Considerations that ecommerce retailers should have top of mind include:
- Ensuring their site has a responsive design that shows up flawlessly on desktop and mobile
- Integrating a mobile-first approach to onsite content, and structuring pages for a mobile audience
- Building a streamlined ecommerce flow that is tailored to a mobile audience, with a clean and simple journey all from adding to cart to processing payment
Data security and fraud prevention
With the rise of ecommerce activity comes the need to protect yourself and provide customers with a safe and secure shopping experience. This includes everything from managing customer data and payment information to developing strategies to monitor and prevent fraud.
How to build customer trust surrounding security
Security is something that’s at the forefront of customers’ minds – 87% of people say that they won’t do business with an organization if they have concerns about its security policies.
In order to reassure your customers and show them that you take data protection seriously, it’s important to incorporate security as part of your ecommerce strategy:
- Only partner with payment providers that offer secure payment gateways and encryption protocols
- Include security badges and certifications within the checkout and at pivotal spaces on your website to assure your customers that security has been built into every stage of their journey
How to protect your ecommerce business from fraud
A reported $41 billion was lost to ecommerce fraud in 2022, which is projected to increase if retailers don’t take measures to enhance their security operations.
Fraud prevention should be an active part of your business strategy, with preventative measures implemented upfront and reviewed regularly.
There are many tools and advanced anti-fraud systems that you can incorporate into your ecommerce operations, including AI-based algorithms that detect and deter fraudulent attempts, as well as transaction monitoring systems that quickly react to potential threats.
When considering partners and payment platforms, it’s crucial to consider their security policies and choose providers that meet your high standards. At Splitit, we adhere to the highest standards of security and data protection, to ensure that the privacy of your customers and the security of your business are prioritized at all times.
Ecommerce is an exciting and dynamic space that offers new opportunities and potential for growth. In order to be successful, retailers need a robust strategy that encompasses all aspects of the ecommerce landscape, including marketing activity, the onsite experience, and operations.
When developing this strategy, it’s important to consider customers at every stage and look for opportunities to optimize based on their wants, needs, and demands.
From creating a seamless checkout experience with flexible payment options to helping you build your brand with a secure, white-label solution, we’ve helped leading ecommerce retailers to drive growth and retention. Get in touch to learn how we can support your ecommerce goals.