With the growth of the Internet, the ecommerce sector has seen a major shift in their strategies and developments over the years to tap as much of the consumer base as possible and, of course, to add to the ease of shopping online. Indian ecommerce retail sales constitute 4-5% of the total retail sales and are increasing at a decent rate of 10-15% every year.
It is the second largest market, only behind the US where online sales constitute around 10% of the total retail sales. This shows beyond doubt that it is a large market, still waiting to be exploited, thus making it really important to know what the consumers are looking for in terms of electronics, apparels & footwear, home décor, food services, jewellery etc.
I will straight away jump to the consumer expectations and challenges faced by ecommerce companies as a general trend and how these processes are evolving each day to make consumers happy. Below are the factors related to desktop/laptop online sales and mobile site/app based sales.
Since there are thousands and lacs of product options available on ecommerce websites, it is mandatory to know the buying trend of a user and suggest better options on what they are looking for. Related products, added cart options like suggestions as to what products you can buy with the current cart and personalised e-mails of products relevant to the consumer are important ways to explore and effectively adhering to these trends.
Sales through mobile and tablets including website and apps contribute to more than 70% of total sales. Hence, it is important to be ubiquitous with complete effectiveness in order to tap on more revenues. Page opening speed contributes to the personalisation as well, if the page is taking more than 3 seconds to open there are more than 80% chances that you will lose the user to other platforms.
Search Enhancements And Site navigation
While browsing through websites and apps, search results play a key role in converting a search into a sale. Not only suggesting users with the exact product, but also suggesting them with relevant options for the same is important. Site navigation needs to be simple and easy to make the user a patron and, if within the first 30 seconds a user is not directed to what he is looking for, there are low chances of retention.
This accounts to age, gender, and geography of the consumer browsing through ecommerce platforms which contribute to conversion of sales. Data collected through sign up forms, IP identifications etc., play a vital role for the same and then the factor of relevance of the products that come up as suggestions come into play.
With the enhancement of artificial intelligence and deep learning, bots are playing a major role in analysing data through continuous chats with the users via Facebook’s M or in-house developed chat bots for their websites and apps. Though technology is yet to astound us with perfectly accurate bot replies, but in a not-so-distant future, we can expect it to grow, as all the major giants like FB, Microsoft, Amazon etc are betting their money on the same.
Unlike electronics, apparels, footwear and other domains that sell standard and branded merchandise, home décor and food servicing industry face the real challenge of delivering a quality product. Since most of the home décor products are custom made, it is of key importance to run a stringent quality check at different stages of manufacturing the product and then aggregating trustworthy sellers in case of multi-vendor marketplaces.
Hassle Free Returns/Exchange
Returns and exchanges is a major bottle-neck in the ecommerce business as the same can be experienced for standard as well as custom products. Efficient follow-ups and timely returns/ exchange contribute to a major retention of users. If not tracked properly, this also accounts to a higher logistics cost, loss in revenues and overall loss in reputation.
Multiple Payment Options
Ecommerce platforms need to be open to all kinds of payment options and integrating e-wallets is a must these days for a better and free cash flow. However, this is a challenge for big-ticket items in terms of COD (cash on delivery) and the user must have the options of debit as well as credit cards of all the flourishing banks.
Supply Chain Issues
More often than not, timely delivery is a major issue depending upon the location, infrastructure and unavoidable hassles during transmits which leads to the cancellation of orders by an annoyed user if the products are not delivered on time. This is a time-consuming process that requires much R&D for almost all the e-commerce platforms as to facilitate users with the best supply chain models.
After Sales Support
More than 50% users want personal support before and after the purchase of items.
This is where the brick and mortar retail businesses leave ecommerce behind. The sole option to touch and feel the products before buying makes a big difference in terms of sales as the consumer has the option to ‘try before you buy’, leading to the product delivered being what is expected by the user.
There needs to be descriptive FAQs and rich product specification section along with an efficient customer support mechanism. Easy tap buttons for users to log on with their queries and log out with satisfactory resolutions are imperative.
With the flooding of bulk e-mails and irrelevant product suggestions in the user’s inbox or via conventional methods of phone messages, ecommerce platforms lose a chunk of their user base and reputation. There has to be proper profiling of users and the emails and suggestions being pitched should take into account their choices, preferences, buying trends etc.
These are little factors, but implemented over time, they will contribute to how your ecommerce business grows in a world that is all about discoverability and personalisation.