The previous year has seen an unprecedented expansion of online stores, but it also meant ecommerce owners had to rethink how they handled practically every aspect of their business. From fulfillment to shipping and online payment methods to packaging, ecommerce has undergone its fair amount of tribulation.
This year is set to see even further growth that comes with its own set of challenges. Let’s take a look at the six most prominent ones we’re expecting to face.
1. Continued Uncertainty
One of the main challenges set to plague ecommerce is the heightened level of uncertainty that still awaits us. While more and more people are indeed shopping online, the real-world elements of ecommerce are still very much affected by the pandemic.
Shipping difficulties that may cause customer dissatisfaction, social distancing measures may continue to cause fulfillment constraints, and the fact that shoppers’ disposable incomes have shrunk will most likely continue to plague the minds of ecommerce business owners.
2. Increased Expectations
The mere fact that shoppers have moved from in-store to online stores means they’ve honed their tastes and demands like never before. What you could once reasonably get away with is no longer the case.
Crucially, modern-day consumers want:
- free returns and free shipping
- reliable customer service
- intuitive and responsive websites
- a large variety of payment methods
- a personalized shopping experience
Providing all of these elements is costly, demanding, and it can lead to all kinds of disruptions in the ecommerce workflow.
3. Increased Competition
More brands that never before had an online presence have started building their ecommerce stores. New players are descending on the market every day, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep up.
You need to stay sharp, continually keep improving your offer and your marketing assets. To get customers to choose you over your competitors, you’ll also need to improve the level of personalization you offer.
Even the budgets that used to cut it need to be increased at times. That’s especially in the advertising department, as the cost of clicks and impressions goes up.
4. Item Tracking Difficulties
Currently, countries around the world are slackening or tightening their coronavirus measures at different rates. Suppliers are postponing delivery dates due to their own difficulties. As a result, there’s an increased demand for fast and secure shipping. And it has never been more difficult to keep an eye on your stock.
Whether you have your own storage facility or not, tracking your items by serial or lot number can help you ensure the oldest items are being shipped out first. It’s also a great way to stay on top of quality and customer complaints. It can significantly help you improve the quality of the goods you’re selling over time.
5. Data Security Threats
People are spending so much more of their time and money online. Consequently, the rise in cybercrime and cyber threats comes as no surprise.
With the rising threat of data theft and security breaches comes the need to perfect your cybersecurity game. And that’s often a costly and complex process.
Backing up your data is always recommended, but it’s also smart to invest in more secure servers and even safer checkout processes. Above all else, customers want to know their personal and financial information is safe with you.
6. Customer Retention Challenges
Customer retention has always been more valuable than lead generation. However, in a world where the options are practically unlimited, it has become incredibly difficult to ensure a shopper becomes even a repeat customer, let alone a regular one.
Offering special loyalty perks, from discounts and tailor-made offers to the option of shopping a new arrival first, can all go a long way to ensuring a customer remains loyal. However, make sure you are rewarding actual loyalty rather than just a specific number of purchases or a specific amount spent.
Ecommerce is a very lucrative industry to enter into in 2021, but it does come with a unique set of challenges. Don’t write these challenges off lightly.
In order to set the grounds for growth and expansion, ecommerce businesses are advised to conduct thorough market research, invest in the quality of their product, and refine their marketing tactics so as to best appeal to their desired audience.