To say that the last couple of years has been an incredible challenge for any and all businesses is still quite an understatement. Significant adjustments have been made to ensure the short-term survival of many smaller businesses in these unparalleled times, and large companies have also made altered their plans going forward.
Something that has brought almost all companies together through the global pandemic is the power of e-commerce. Fortunately for everyone, it is not something that is completely alien, we have been using e-commerce for many years to purchase so many of our products. Amazon, eBay, and others have been solely e-commerce for many years and most of us have bought multiple items from both. This makes it the perfect opportunity for businesses to transition to the online world whilst we recover from the pandemic.
In its simplest terms, e-commerce is purchasing and selling products and services online. This applies to everything, from purchasing cutlery on Amazon to plane tickets on British Airways, to selling your artwork on Shopify. Over 2 billion people worldwide purchased something online in 2020, indicating that customers are more than happy to continue buying products online, so long as companies continue to provide a quality service.
The power of e-commerce has transformed the way people shop online too. In 2010, not even 1% of all online retail sales were used on a mobile device in the UK. Within a few years, that figure would be up to 12%, shooting up to 40% in 2015. Now in a world where 84% of UK adults own a smartphone, it’s clear to see that businesses should be putting a clear focus on mobile e-commerce opportunities. Whether that be an easy-to-use app or focused social media advertising, pushing this further will be a huge benefit to all involved parties.
The Last Year In E-commerce
It’s been over a year since the initial lockdown hit the UK, and so many businesses were hit hard with news that non-essential shops would be closing temporarily. This has given e-commerce the chance to thrive, and it did on a record level. Online sales were up 46% through 2020 compared to the previous year, the largest year-on-year increase for over a decade.
Certain sectors really struggled with the brick and mortar closures, clothing being the main area hit. Sales across all channels, physical and online, were down over a quarter compared to 2019. Fuel sales also fell drastically, due to millions having to work from home and having little need to travel.
On the other hand, UK e-commerce sales were projected to add over £5bn to the expected predictions made at the start of the year. It was estimated that £73.6bn would be spent on e-commerce in 2020 but due to the state of the country throughout most of the year, people were forced to shop online for certain products. The estimates nearly tipped the £79bn mark, and although that is nearly £30bn less than that of the previous year, it is still a giant amount considering the number of adults that have been furloughed, laid off, or the unfortunate collapse of many businesses.
Now let’s look past all of the doom and gloom, and focus on e-commerce opportunities, where they can be found, and how you can execute a good plan to ensure your business survives the rear end of the pandemic and thrives in years to come.
Finding a customer’s pain point is going to be a vital part of your e-commerce adventure. One of the biggest reasons why people shop online is because they have encountered a problem, so you need to ensure that you can be the problem solver.
There are a few different pain points, of which targeting all of them is difficult but ideal. A financial pain point could be customers paying too much for certain services and wanting to switch to cheaper alternatives; a support pain point could be insufficient customer service before a customer looks to purchase a product, meaning they don’t get all the information required. Keep an eye out on social media and from reviews on websites of what customers are saying, and look to address these efficiently.
One of the biggest opportunities that have arisen in the last few years is social media growth for your business. Not only have the social media giants made it easier for any page to get content to more people, there are now many more options for faster and more accessible shopping. Facebook Marketplace and Instagram Shopping are two areas that are thriving, due to their simplicity, ease of you and availability to promote any product you are selling.
If you are able to create quality visual content that can quickly entice any and all viewers, you are immediately on the right track. Highlight the top features of your products and services in a post that gets your followers engaging and new people learning.
You could have some incredible products and services that you offer; things that can solve problems put customers at ease and support the growth of your business. However, if you aren’t able to effectively advertise yourself, there won’t be anyone around to admire your amazing work.
That leads to one of the biggest advantages, ensuring that your products and services are effectively advertised across multiple platforms. From covering social media to a clear, interactive website, the way that you advertise your products could be the deciding factor between people seeing them and investing in your company, or not getting eyes on you at all.
Advertising will also help customers clearly understand the benefits of your products and services. Creating instructional videos, infographics, and creative imagery will emphasise the advantages that your ideas possess. Vibrant colours are always good for harboring attention but do not make them too eclectic.
From the number of channels you have access to, to the amount of different media you can create, there is limitless potential for growth with articulate advertising for your e-commerce site.
Make sure you do the research to understand where your audience and the most useful prospects are going to be. It is fair to assume that they will be across most platforms associated with advertising, but deep dive into your data to find habits and trends, and work with this to create the best possible campaigns to grab their attention and ensure they fill their basket on your site.