As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, online shopping and online retail saw a significant boon in this past year. For good reason, as these became the safest shopping options while combating the virus throughout the country. However, online shopping was seeing a significant uptick in popularity long before lockdown restrictions forced consumers out of physical retail locations. Just prior to the virus outbreak, in 2019, online retail sales contributed more than $3.5 trillion dollars globally, as nearly two billion people shopped online for various products and services.
The numbers above may seem staggering but are a result of the largest contributor to the e-commerce space in Amazon. Amazon has completely revitalized the way online retailing operates. Their online marketplace provides customers with millions of products, most of which aren’t even provided by Amazon themselves. Third-party merchants are responsible for a great deal of these products and are a required part of Amazon’s strategy. With nearly 200 million Amazon users visiting the marketplace platform each month, it’s less surprising to think that they’d need third-party merchants to provide additional products. Realizing the scope of Amazon’s reach makes it easier to understand just how much smaller online retailers are struggling. Online shoppers have grown accustom to the many benefits that Amazon has in regards to order fulfillment. In fact, a recent study indicated that nearly 90% of shoppers expect faster shipping and delivery times from other online retailers as a result of their purchases from Amazon.
For many retailers, matching the shipping capabilities of Amazon is impossible. Regardless of this fact, many smaller online retailers have crafted all of the necessary strategies they can in order to adapt to the expectations set forth on them. One of these strategies has been providing shipment tracking updates through a branded tracking page on their website. Perhaps not as effective as Amazon shoppers knowing their product will be delivered in two days or less, but for those concerned with tracking their package and knowing its moving along the delivery process, this is important! A branded tracking page can also improve brand recognition and further fortify the customer’s experience with a business.
If your business is currently battling with Amazon in the online retailing marketplace, you will need to adapt as well. One of the first steps in adapting is analyzing the customer experience of your website. Beginning with ease of use, how easy is it for customers to purchase a product from your website after they first arrive? Must they create an account? Or can they check out as a guest? If users do create an account, can they save their shipping and billing information for subsequent orders? Do registered accounts receive any sort of coupons or special offers? All of these are factors that can improve the online experience for your customers, so be sure to make changes if necessary.
Perhaps one of the most important things to note as an online retailer is the newfound focus on the cost of shipping as well. For a long time, researchers had thought that what truly drove Amazon’s success in the online marketplace was their premier shipping times. However, recent research has indicated that the cost of shipping is also highly influential in whether a customer places an order online. In fact, despite some customers preferring their online orders be delivered quickly, seven in ten customers would prefer waiting longer for their package to arrive if it meant not having to pay for shipping costs. So, regardless if your business in unable to provide prompt shipping times, developing a strategy to mitigate the costs to your customers can be an excellent strategy. One way this is commonly done is through automated storage retrieval systems that simplify the warehousing and transportation of products. For additional information on how to better distinguish yourself as an online retailer, review the featured infographic below.
Author bio: John Hinchey is VP of Sales for Westfalia Technologies, Inc., a leading provider of logistics solutions for plants, warehouses and distribution centers. He has more than 20 years of experience in manufacturing and warehouse automation.