2020 Changed Ecommerce

Online shopping has seen massive growth in 2020 as brick-and-mortar stores continue to close temporarily, or for good. According to data from IBM’s US Retail Index, the pandemic has accelerated the move from physical to digital shopping by five years. Let’s look at how you can optimize for how 2020 changed ecommerce.

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This growth contradicts—understandably given the circumstance— a lot of e-commerce predictions published in 2019. Most predicted growth in 2020, but at a slower rate, compared to the previous five years.

Emarketer predicted e-commerce growth in 2020 would drop below 20% compared to a 28% rise in 2017, 22.9% in 2018, and 20.7% in 2019. But recent data from the US Census Bureau reported a 31.8% rise in the first quarter of 2020 and a massive 44.5% year-over-year, totaling sales of $211.5 billion.

What does the growth in e-commerce mean for online retailers?

The seismic events of 2020 present online retailers with both opportunities and challenges. One effect of the sudden shift to e-commerce is that customer’s expectations are changing as fast as the market itself. In a new retail market dominated by online shopping, retailers need to adopt new ways of showcasing and selling their products. Customers now not only want but expect, an enjoyable and sophisticated user experience that mirrors as closely as possible the experience of shopping in-store.

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As the industry gears up for what will undoubtedly be the most online of holiday shopping seasons to date, we’re going to look at three simple but effective ways to optimize your online store to offer your customers the absolute best user experience.

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1. Give your images a second look

It’s easy to take the importance of product images for granted, but customers definitely don’t. 83% of shoppers reported product images as the most influential factor in their purchasing decision. Surprisingly, images were more influential than product reviews from customers (75%) and star ratings (64%). The number of product photos you offer has an impact too: Shoppers in 2019 expected between 5-8 product images, up from just 3 images in 2016. With Shuup, it’s easy to drag and drop unlimited images for each product.

blog brick and mortar to click and mortar 2020 changed ecommerce

If you want to present your products at their best and recreate the in-store experience of browsing and inspect products, it’s worth investing in quality product photos across your store. An individual seller can purchase the equipment needed to take quality shots for under $1,000 (here’s a list of what you might need) or consider outsourcing to a professional—the ROI (Return on Images!) will be well worth it. If you’re not able to invest, a decent smartphone will do the job. Use your phone’s native editing software or check out some of these free editing apps for iOS and Android.

Make sure your images are high-definition and showcase your product from all angles. Placing products in situ, such as in a living room or kitchen setting, will help buyers visualize how they’ll look in their own spaces as well as giving them an idea about size and dimension (this is one reason IKEA “stages” all of its products.)

Images 2.0

The feeling of handling and inspecting products in person can be recreated using 3D product configurator software. Put simply, a configurator presents a product as a 3D photorealistic image that can be interacted with, rotated, and zoomed. 3D configurators are great for both B2B and B2C physical products, especially those with a certain complexity or multiple components.

Giving e-commerce customers the chance to interact with a product has been shown to improve buyer confidence, shorten the sales cycle, and can positively impact return rates, customer satisfaction, and repeat customers.

2. Keep delivery information simple and transparent

Retailers like Amazon have pretty much changed shipping expectations forever and it can be difficult for smaller suppliers to compete with same-day or even next-day delivery. The data shows that delivery times are a crucial consideration in buying decisions.

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40% of 1,888 US online consumers interviewed reported not making a purchase because it wouldn’t arrive on time. 20% of customers in the same study said they didn’t make a purchase because the delivery date wasn’t clear. COVID-19 has made shipping even more difficult because of the pandemic’s impact on the postal service and supplier chains—so what can you do?

  • Provide precise information: Where possible, tell users exactly when their products will arrive and try to avoid using date ranges. If you have long shipping times, tell your customers why. Customers have high expectations but most are reasonable when they’re given the relevant information.
  • Be transparent: If you charge for shipping be transparent early on in the purchase process. If a customer considers your shipping fees too high they’re likely to abandon cart, but you’ll limit disappointment if it’s clear from the beginning.

Offer free shipping: Where your margins allow it, offer free shipping. 68% of 986 US shoppers reported not completing a purchase at least half of the time because the retailer didn’t offer free shipping. When a business offers free shipping it elicits the same response as being offered a free product even if they’re paying the same price—or even more—for their purchase. Shuup campaign modules let you set up rules for offering free shipping based on things like the total basket value.

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3. Optimize your cart

So much effort goes into presenting products in the best possible way, but a crucial component of the buying process is often overlooked: the cart.

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Here’s a surprising statistic: the average cart abandonment rate is 68.8%. This increases to an astonishing 75% if the cart process suffers from low load speed. How can you optimize your cart to keep abandonments down?

  • Keep all your extra costs—taxes, VAT, fulfillment and shipping, credit card fees—transparent and explained. 50% of customers abandoned carts because the extra costs were too high. If you can’t reduce them, being honest about them early on in the checkout process could help reduce cart abandonment.
  • Reduce complexity: 21% of customers abandon carts because they’re too complicated, such as making customers create an account. 28% of customers failed to make a purchase because they had to create an account. Requiring customers to create an account adds additional stages to the checkout process and the more stages there are, the more opportunity your customers have to abandon cart.

The moral of the abandoned cart is to keep things clear and simple. If your customer has reached this point in the purchase journey don’t confuse them with offers, hidden or confusing extra costs, or require them to create accounts. If you can optimize your cart you’ll see the benefits: in one study, conversion rates increased by 35.25% if the seller had a well-designed checkout, such as Shuup one-page checkouts

Optimize your store to adapt to how 2020 changed ecommerce

2020 isn’t over and there’s more data to come, but it looks like it’s going to be the year when online shopping graduates from an often-used convenience to an everyday necessity. Optimizing your store to meet this shift doesn’t have to be difficult and it doesn’t have to be expensive, but it’s essential if you’re going to capitalize on the market changes we’re seeing this year.

If you’re looking to upgrade your marketplace solution get in touch with a Shuup marketplace expert to schedule a short demo.

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