Over the last couple of decades, eCommerce has transformed into an online marketplace for sellers and buyers supported with secure protocols and electronic payment services. And this marketplace is growing at a snapping pace, case in point, ecommerce sales globally are expected to surpass US$4.2 trillion in 2020 and cross US$6.5 trillion by 2023. According to industry experts, more than 2 billion consumers are expected to shop for goods and services online by 2021. The relevance of eCommerce was in focus during the recent COVID-19 pandemic, wherein it was the only means for many to buy essentials for everyday living based on local shut downs.
What is aiding the growth of the eCommerce marketplace? A strong and consistent rise of internet users, convenience, increasing awareness of online shopping, easy access to smartphones for shopping, rise in online product launches and competitive prices are among the many reasons that online shopping is here to stay. It enables B2B and B2C companies to reach their end users directly, and an omnichannel sales and marketing strategy has become a necessity today. Online sales channels also provide a lower cost of distribution in many instances by doing away with requiring a retail infrastructure and layers of distribution that influence the cost. In recent years, online marketplaces that offer different products from many different sellers such as Amazon, eBay, Jet and Walmart, have risen in relevance as a viable way for sellers to reach a large number of buyers.
However, hurdles in eCommerce still exist, such as uncertain consumer demand, cybersecurity, supply chain disruptions, fall in casual shopping, website visibility, website traffic and online marketing costs. To add complexity to this. In today’s rapidly evolving technology infrastructure, online channels need to be compatible with all versions of browsers, apps and systems that customers may be using for an optimal customer experience to build loyalty.
The relevance of eCommerce has never been more visible than during the recent pandemic, with retailers dealing with essential and daily needs goods and businesses offering information and services related to healthcare often being able to reach their customers only through online channels. While certain eCommerce product segments such as electronics, apparels, and beauty and personal care witnessed a significant fall in demand, eCommerce was the only sales channel that customers had access to, and became the only revenue generating channel for many months.
In a recent survey, Digital Commerce 360 found that companies that adopted a wait and watch approach and reduced marketing spend during the initial days of the pandemic are now seeing their online sales struggle, while those that stayed the course saw a slight dip but stabilized, and the companies that undertook aggressive marketing are seeing unprecedented growth.
Businesses that had the foresight to invest in digitization are now cashing in by revamping their existing supply chains and distribution processes, with eCommerce being a fundamental element to keeping the business alive and thriving. In the future, it is these companies that are expected to be better prepared to overcome the economic slowdown.
Is your business prepared to face the future? For companies that are looking to establish an eCommerce presence, one of the most critical decisions is the online platform they select to support online sales, especially for small sellers with limited resources and budgets. The technology options for establishing or streamlining an eCommerce channel for your company can be varied, and often confusing. Companies such as Saberpoint are well positioned to guide our customers in making this decision based on the proposed online portfolio, as well as the required backend integrations to make this a seamless part of the omnichannel sales strategy.
Some of the commonly used today are hosted platforms such as Shopify, which are easy-to-use for anyone looking to build an online store. Magento is an example of a self-hosted, open-source ecommerce platform which, like WordPress, is free to use – but requires you to have some understanding of coding. Even Facebook has recently launched Facebook Shops, which facilitates small businesses in setting up free online storefronts.
As millions of buyers shift to online marketplaces, this shift in consumer buying behaviour has created ideal opportunities to push forward, test, and launch new experience-driven mobile apps, websites, and touchpoints across eCommerce platforms. Companies that never imagined needing an eCommerce presence are finding the need to establish one as consumers today are more comfortable than ever with leveraging online as part of their buying journey. However, sellers need to understand that simply establishing an online channel is not enough, it requires an informed combination of short-term solutions and long-term strategy to succeed in a hyper competitive online channel.