It’s no surprise that ecommerce continues to grow and thrive. Ecommerce sales by UK non-financial sector businesses totalled £560 billion in 2017, according to the Office for National Statistics. This marks a sharp rise of 16% since 2016, which is the largest year-on-year growth since 2011.
But why is ecommerce growing from strength to strength? As lifestyles become busier and technology changes and improves, consumers are seeking new, more convenient methods to fulfil their sales needs. 2. However, technology isn’t the only cause of the massive boost in ecommerce. In this post, we’ll explore all of the reasons ecommerce is growing at such an incredible rate.
1. Tailored experiences
Gone are the days of simply being recommended a similar product when you buy something online. The ‘customers who bought this also bought’ option is no longer suitable for modern consumers who want that bit more. They want to see recommendations tailored to their preferences, purchase history and unique style – whether it’s fashion, furniture or even food products.
This is delivered to a T on ecommerce sites, with user data enabling a bespoke customer experience. From the emails they receive to the products they’re offered before checkout, shoppers now get tailored experiences targeted to their unique customer profile. As well as pleasing customers, this allows ecommerce businesses to drive sales.
2. More options
On top of that, shoppers also want more choice. They enjoy having every option available in terms of colour, size, style or spec. And while traditional brick and mortar stores are forced to carry a smaller range of stock, ecommerce makes all of these options possible.
Items are stored in central warehouses, with a much cheaper cost than retail spaces. Customers can see everything that’s available and purchase whatever they want. Why would a shopper wait for their size to be re-stocked in-store, when they can find it online straight away?
3. Social media integration
The huge role that social media now plays in modern life is continuing to grow. With people increasingly turning to their phones for answers to everyday problems, it is easy to see why ecommerce and social media apps are joining forces. One of the biggest social sites to have an influence on ecommerce in Instagram.
According to research conducted for Facebook, 81% of people surveyed said that Instagram helped them research products or services. 83% said it enabled them to discover new products or services. On top of that, 80% also felt it assisted with making a choice on whether to buy something.
Embracing social has other perks too. Customers can be involved with a brand more than ever before. Social media gives consumers the chance to like or share brand content.
They can also have their say on products and deals. People can see whether a brand has a positive reputation and its products are high quality or good value for money. Likewise, if a brand ignores issues, doesn’t deliver on promises or offers poor quality products, customers can avoid it before they make a purchase. This helps reduce the risk for consumers making purchases.
4. User-friendly experiences
A core reason why ecommerce is growing is its user-friendly approach to everyday tasks. Having a website or app makes doing the weekly shopping, buying new clothes or even ordering prescriptions easier. You don’t have to travel, walk among busy crowds or battle the traffic. There aren’t any parking tickets and you can shop in your pyjamas.
The development of voice-activated shopping even takes the issue away of using a website and makes shopping hands-free. With a simple command, you can order a product or find out more information about a store. This can help you to make more informed shopping decisions.
Going online to conduct your shopping habits also makes processes like returns and refunds faster and more convenient. Many large companies offer a free-returns service that can be dropped off at a convenient location and you can keep track of your refund. This feature takes away the need to take things back in person and queue to return products.
Similar to the user-friendly benefits, ecommerce is growing due to its accessibility. Brands that sell online are no longer limited to traditional store hours. Instead, sales can happen around the clock.
Online stores don’t close due to bad weather or struggle with queues of customers when staffing falls short. Likewise, customers can shop at any time of the day, 365 days a year – which also applies to their customer services too. In fact, one in 15 shopping purchases on John Lewis’ website is now made between the hours of midnight and 06:00 – which is a 23% increase from 2017 to 2018.
Being more accessible at any time also opens businesses up to new customers. For some people with disabilities who may struggle with physical accessibility in stores, being able to shop online can be very useful. Having access to a store or customer service team can also benefit those who don’t have the time to get out to the high-street.
Parents and people who work long hours might struggle to find time to browse in-store too, making the accessibility of ecommerce stores all the more helpful. People can shop when it suits them.
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Offline becoming online
Although traditional shops are still standing and continue to open, many know the importance of being omni-channel. This means combining online and offline, with a consistent experience for users. That could be an online shop or just an active social media profile. But it’s not just limited to sales.
Companies that don’t offer shopping online yet can still offer help to their customers via social media. Being able to contact a brand representative or staff member without going to the store may save a customer a trip. Having a responsive social presence can also remove the need to call and be trapped in a phone queue which can put customers off.