Overcoming the barriers to ecommerce

With the advent of mobile technology, more and more consumers will turn to using their smart phones and tablets to shop online. According to the GSI Center for Connected Commerce research, 48% of all purchases in 2013 will be impacted by the web – either purchased online or researched online prior to buying in-store.

Success stories are plenty. For example,, a popular UK-based ecommerce website has over seven million active mobile shoppers. UK digital retailer Argos has seen 16% of its sales coming from mobile devices, which grew 124% in the last year. On the other hand, brick and mortar retailers also see benefits to their business by going on ecommerce.  For example, UK-based John Lewis saw 35% of online customers using “click and collect,” a method where consumers collect their purchases from the physical store. Customers also tended to spend more inside stores when picking up online orders, even though John Lewis did little to promote its click-and-collect service. These were examples shared by Michael Kliger, managing director eBay Enterprise International, at the company’s ecommerce summit this year.

However, despite most brands recognising the need to come online, here’s what is holding them back.

Overcoming the ecommerce barrier

Omnichannel marketing and omnichannel distribution were some of the challenges faced. Consumers are in multiple channels simultaneously when it comes to purchasing items online, he said.

Hence Kliger suggests that marketers need to be much sharper when it comes to analyzing what works and what doesn’t for consumers. There is a need to build up the analytic capabilities, he added.

Consumers are now more empowered. With greater affluence and access to data, consumers are expecting more from retailers and they are demanding that technology be used to improve their shopping experience, continued Kliger.

How retailers reach out to consumers before they purchase anything is the difference between making a retail transaction and a lost consumer. For example, 64% of consumers have made a purchase from a new retailer over their preferred retailer simply because they offered free shipping. Also, 93% of consumers expect retailers to provide them with a choice between picking-up their order and having it delivered to them.

According to the GSI Center for Connected Commerce research, 81% expect retailers to be utilising technology to improve the in-store shopping experience. Data privacy is also an issue when it comes to providing personal information online to retailers, Kliger added.

Getting started

According to Marcelo Wesseler, SVP, Singpost eCommerce, marketers who wish to get started should take note of several factors.

Firstly, take note of the range of products offered. Secondly, competitive pricing is important as this can affect the sales margins. Thirdly, being reliable and providing fast delivery is important for marketers as consumers are unlikely not to return to the store or brand if they face any issues when purchasing items. Finally, the service needs to offer convenience. Providing a smooth and pleasant experience will ensure that consumers leave the store happy and this will lead to an increase in traffic rates for the site, said Wessler.

Darren Fifield, head of marketing solutions, Asia-Pacific, eBay Enterprise, adds that loyalty is the next factor to consider. Once marketers have acquired and engaged consumers, it is also crucial for them to convert and retain consumers.

And the key to that is engagement. Fifield added that brands must learn to engage in (and profit from) conversations if they want to succeed in the new economy.

“Connected marketing begins with a deeper knowledge of the customer and a more consistent and engaging customer experience across channels. Relevance is ‘key’ for continuous engagement and brand loyalty,” Fifield said.

Charlene Teo

Marketing Magazine Hong Kong

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