Ecommerce profit booms: why your business is missing out
The UK is the largest B2C ecommerce market in Europe. With 96% of the nation expected to be online this year, why is your business missing out on a bigger slice of the ecommerce pie?
Despite the uncertainty of this past year, the opportunity remains huge for UK businesses wanting to reap ecommerce market rewards. With an increase of almost 11% expected by the end of 2020, the worth of UK ecommerce is set to reach just under £200 billion. The UK is the largest ecommerce market in Europe and the third-largest in the world after America and China.
The pandemic has no doubt drastically affected the profitability of UK businesses this year. So, even a taste of the booms in ecommerce profits could be a ground-breaking opportunity for your business.
To make sure you’re not missing out, here are three areas that could be holding your operations back:
1. You’re not connecting your ‘clicks and bricks’
Technology has expanded its reach into our lives even more with ecommerce. It provides businesses and consumers alike with solutions that reimagine the way we offer products and services. Now, with so many options available, inflexible service means that customers will shop elsewhere.
Tips from top UK retailers
Using the UK’s top multi-channel retailers as examples, Argos, B&Q and Schuh all provide great ‘click and brick’ links. The key benefit here for the customer is the sheer flexibility of the multi-channel offering.
When offering multi-channel services, 80% of retailers also offer click-and-collect services to store, while 30% offer to non-store locations.
Catering for the B2C DIY market, B&Q offers ‘find a store’, free delivery over £50, and one-hour click-and-collect capabilities. You can seamlessly swap between browsing online and in-store. You can choose to collect products instantly in-store or get them delivered straight to your door, with finance payment options.
In essence, the customer chooses how they wish to shop. Plus, with free room planning appointments in-store or online, customers get the ultimate ‘try before you buy’ experience.
Sync your back-end operations with your front-facing business
Connecting your retail store with your online offering is just the tip of the iceberg. Your front-facing business should also ensure full connectivity with your back-end operations to make vital headway against your competition.
An online store isn’t always a direct sale, but it puts your business on the map. Customers can research your brand and products or compile ideas and wish lists before making that final decision. Your business, therefore, needs to provide information like real-time stock availability across all your sales channels. That’s across your stores, warehouses and supply chains too, helping your operations as well as your customer journey. You need to be able to provide ever-accurate images, pricing and descriptions for your products online. These details need to be instantly updatable across every display.
When an order is placed, it has to be managed efficiently, no matter which sales channel it processes through. You need to connect with your couriers, with integration that allows for precise order and returns tracking digitally for you and your customers.
Remember, your online store reflects your customer service
The priority of ecommerce is to provide a user-friendly website where customers can search for a product and place an order to their specifications.
Amazon calculated that a page load slowdown of just one second could cost £1.2 billion in sales each year.
Research suggests that anything disrupting the customer experience can prove incredibly costly to profits. Ensure your online store not only suits your business requirements but, also can support your customers. Hand your browsers easy usability and rapid customer support via chat or phone call.
By simulating the best of both online and in-store worlds, you will connect your clicks and bricks to expand opportunities for you and your customers.
2. Your business takes returns badly
The dream is that every customer is a happy customer. But to achieve this, ensuring you can take returns like a champ is key. The cost of returns can be costly and complex, meaning many companies no longer offer free returns to their customers. In 2020, businesses offering free returns fell by 13% in all when compared to the previous year.
However, placing the onus on the customer to recoup the cost of returns can harm your customer satisfaction. Predictably, a great way to ensure your business can take returns on the chin is to minimise the amount you receive.
Minimising returns the right way
Companies such as Zara and H&M are leading the way with software that suggests sizes for online customers. As a result, they ensure the product is suitable before the order is placed. When you offer more information to customers, like help with sizing, product details, materials and capabilities, you can help to make their purchases better informed. Prompting customers to leave reviews based on product specification can also help. Through these methods, you can reduce your volume of returns. Thereby, limit the number of products stuck in circulation, curb processing tasks for your warehouse team and remove the build-up of extra costs.
Managing returns properly
But, for when a return does happen, avoid turning a simple return into a bad customer experience with a process that’s easy to complete.
Providing a returns policy and clear instructions online can remove customer confusion. Return methods should also be flexible, and businesses with retail stores need to be able to handle returns interchangeably through all channels. So, if a customer buys online, they should be able to receive a refund in store.
For returns by post, offering resealable packaging and scannable barcodes can mean your product makes the return journey smoothly. For your warehouse, having a good method of returns handling with WMS can also help to speed up product circulation, allowing fast item processing for safe resale.
Meanwhile, ask your customers the reason for their return. Here, you can start to build data around your product suitability and make informed adjustments to your offering moving forward. A simple returns process is more likely to create a loyal customer that returns to shop with your business too.
3. Your impersonal approach to data
The ecommerce market is no longer as simple as just offering up your products and hoping a customer will bite. Samsung was right when they coined the term ‘Retailtainment’. You need to make online shopping an enjoyable, personalised experience that will keep the end-consumer coming back for more. Here, making the most of your user-data can help.
‘Rather than sit back and reflect on the glory days when retail was easy, retailers should gear up for battle with a new angle: the superior customer experience.’ Forbes
Making data personal
By connecting your ecommerce offerings to your back-end systems and customer data, you can begin to create personalised communication. User-specific promotions and offers could provide the prompt to click for final checkout. A data-based marketing strategy, driven by real-time reporting on your business operations, keeps your business targeting the right customers in the right areas to boost your sales.
With complete visibility of your stock and customer data, you can offer more personalised bundles to customers, based on their liked products and purchase history. Upselling and cross-selling products become straightforward when you can automate prompts for your sales teams and online. By keeping track of customer accounts, you can reward customer loyalty with extra offers or points to spend with your business.
When you collect data on all your business operations, you can start to shape your business more around your customer base. The right product positioning in the warehouse enables faster picks for popular orders. Meanwhile, data insights can forecast your purchasing decisions months ahead of time to maximise sales.
How to build a complete ecommerce solution for your business
To help UK businesses make the most of rising ecommerce opportunity, OrderWise provides scalable all-in-one business management solutions. We develop our software installations to suit each business’ specific requirements. To learn more about how we can optimise your ecommerce offering, contact our friendly team today or check out our website.
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