How the 2020 Pandemic has pushed for Bigger, Better and Bolder eCommerce Solutions
Even as all external activities were shut off during global lockdowns, retail shopping ceased to stop. If anything, consumers found an easier way to shop, and that is — online shopping. eCommerce has been around for 3 decades, but it was the recent pandemic that pushed online sales to grow like no one could have predicted. Many consumers became completely and solely reliant on buying products via the internet. Inevitably, brands with a weak online presence lost out financially. Ignoring old misgivings, all retail businesses are now compelled to believe in the benefits of eCommerce yet, the surge in eCommerce also necessitates increasing visibility in the competitive market through innovative eCommerce solutions.
Brands with a weak online presence are losing out
As we all know, the pandemic brought the closure of physical stores all around the globe, consequently bringing about a devastating fall in physical sales. Even the big brand’s were not immune to the disastrous financial effects of the virus. For example, Inditex, the retail giant behind Zara, announced the closure of 1,000 to 2,000 stores worldwide¹. In the UK alone, lack of liquid assets necessary to meet short-term obligations² forced some popular native brands, like Oasis, Warehouse, Debenhams and Cath Kidston, to fall into administration, similar to bankruptcy³.
While physical stores are falling prey to financial losses, there has been an inevitable surge in online shopping amid the pandemic. Kantar, a consultancy firm researched that 40% of consumers have now “increased or significantly increased” their online purchasing, “rising to 48% for households with children and millennial households”⁴. Amazon, the eCommerce giant, surpassed all expectations this year, doubling its profit from last year, to collect a whopping USD5.2 billion in profit for the second quarter of 2020, despite spending an additional USD4.0 billion on covid safety precautions⁵. The soaring eCommerce sales leave absolutely no uncertainty that now is the perfect and most urgent time for brands to build an online sales platform.
Benefit of online stores
Other than providing an alternative mode of buying goods, eCommerce platforms have major additional benefits for retailers. Firstly, it allows brands to reach out to a much, much larger range of consumers. Pablo Isla — who is the Chief Executive of Inditex, parent company of popular aforementioned brands like Zara, Bershka and Pull & Bear — is pushing to improve online capabilities of these brands to increase accessibility “even in those markets which do not currently have (our) brick-and-mortar stores”. Having an online store means being able to knock on the doors of consumers in nearly any corner of the world, no matter where, no matter what time of the day. The online shop is always open.
Secondly, selling online has a low barrier to entry, so entrepreneurs will find it tremendously easy to open shop online. With almost no rental cost, it could be a great start to retail business, eliminating the middleman-distributor deals and kicking up lofty profit margins. Additionally, advertising online is much less costly than physical advertising and much of online traffic is organic, relying on social media platforms for targeted wind-catching. When done right, combined with a robust SEO plan, which is one of RPI eSolutions’ expertise, the cost of effective and expansive digital advertising becomes nominal⁶.
With a robust SEO plan, one of RPI eSolutions’ expertise, the cost of effective and expansive digital advertising becomes nominal.
Innovations in eCommerce
Be that as it may, this ease of selling online is drawing high competition in eCommerce. Indeed in 2017, H&M blamed its online retail for lagging behind other fast-fashion brands as “the group’s online share does not yet compensate for the reduced footfall to stores”⁷. Ultimately, retail managers may lack the complete knowledge of crafting a robust attractive online presence. Collabing with a capable & reliable technological partner, like RPI eSolutions, is one way to navigate the competitive online market, simultaneously allowing managers to focus their time on the retail side of business.
RPI eSolutions is pushing borders everyday in developing innovations for eCommerce.
An experienced tech partner would say that — perhaps the most important aspect of an online shop is security. Not only does placing orders online require customers to enter their personal details into a digital database, but also their credit card details. A serious security breach of these confidential particulars will definitely put a major dent in consumer confidence for any brand. Hence, it is wise to invest judiciously in installing the latest security systems to protect e-transactions from such criminal activities⁸.
A serious security breach of confidential customer data can put a major dent in consumer confidence for any brand.
As eCommerce naturally collects information in a digital database, it lends an excellent opportunity to integrate business intelligence. Retailers can collect, measure and act upon the customer data to steer the business in the right direction⁹. For instance, sophisticated reporting tools, such as Google Analytics, provide critical statistics and trends on valuable insights, including reports on how well sales are going, the type of customers, most visited product, rate of transactions and much more¹⁰. Also playing to the strengths of technology, RPI eSolutions sets up a continuous insight loop for the client to uncover the gaps where consumer experience can be improved. Such reporting is always done in accordance with privacy laws and protection of sensitive data.
A signature innovation from RPI eSolutions is the novel integration of Whatsapp as a business platform, named BizUpp. From an online site, customers can be directed to a Whatsapp ‘shop-bot’ that they can interact with and shop from. Automated messaging lets customers directly ask for product lists, menus and other features via Whatsapp chat itself. It is through such timely innovations that RPI strives to redefine the customer experience, reducing the virtual distance between consumers and products for seamless shopping online.
RPI eSolutions redefines the customer experience for its clients’ own customers.
The pandemic has closed store doors for a long time, some even forever, but on the bright side, it has pushed for the global spread of new types of contactless technology. For retail businesses, survival is almost dependent on having a strong online presence, regardless of how popular the brand may be. Other than giving customers a new avenue to purchase products, an online store has many other major benefits and as more and more brands move online, ‘e-Competition’ is undoubtedly increasing. To stay visible and ahead of the rest in the competitive internet market, companies should work with technological partners, like RPI eSolutions, to bring innovative experiences that make online shopping more convenient, more attractive to consumers.