Modern Retail

E-Commerce in 2021: Shaping your strategy

Strategy

The world has vastly changed this year. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a shift within our daily lives, forging new habits and methods to shop, socialise and work. Now, with a new year fast approaching, online sellers are facing new challenges with keeping up with shoppers using digital channels more than ever. Here are some of the essentials that should be considered in your seller strategy next year.

Embrace digital as the new normal

In 2020, global digital sales surged by 71% in Q2, and 55% in Q3. Further, with Cyber Week sales reaching a record $270 billion, it’s clear that accelerated e-commerce adoption was prevalent across the globe. Salesforce data also reveals that 8 out of 10 customers value experience as much as a brand’s product or services, and the experience that mattered most to customers this year was a digital offering with extensive e-commerce capabilities. 

McKinsey research has shown that over 75% of U.S. consumers have changed shopping behaviour during the pandemic. The situation in the UK is similar, where new reports by Alvarez & Marsal and Retail Economics estimate that 17.2 million British consumers are planning to make permanent changes to the way they shop, even post COVID-19. So as 2020 closes out, the evidence suggests that brands focusing on delivering a positive digital experience to customers are set to be the real winners next year.

Optimise your supply chain

Online merchants have struggled throughout this year to receive goods and fulfil orders undisrupted, as the combination of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit has affected many supply chains. 

The situation is likely to continue to cause uncertainty for businesses next year, as UK retailers have lost access to EU fulfilment networks, leaving brands to create new supply chain processes and deal with VAT complications. Regardless of the chosen method of sourcing stock and storing it, we recommend that businesses use multiple sources to ensure that complications with Brexit or COVID-19 do not cause complete disruption to the supply chain. The same process of diversification should also be applied to fulfilment and delivery systems to prevent delays. A combination of local and international service providers can be key to establishing flexible order management. Failing to fulfil customer orders will mean that more consumers can turn to competitors in a time where customer loyalty will be pivotal to maintaining sales.

To learn more about upcoming VAT changes on goods, visit our recent episode of 8 Minutes with Activ8 where we discuss Brexit implications for online sellers with our partner Simply VAT. 

A fulfilment strategy is pivotal 

Creating an optimised fulfilment strategy should be a top priority for brands heading into 2021. An efficient strategy will focus on addressing two key components: the speed of delivery and variety of options. Merchants offering a sufficient delivery speed will increase the likelihood of customers having a positive experience and will be able to compete with other brands for the final sale. A variety of delivery options such as local pick-up and last mile delivery can enhance the customer experience and keep up with changing consumer demands. 

The key to success in optimising your fulfilment strategy will be to add speed and flexibility. Providing customers with a peace of mind, especially following the Brexit transition, will be pivotal to a customer’s lifetime value. 

The Activ8 specialists recommend identifying where processes can be automated, including order processing, inventory management, and shipping to ensure that daily workflows require minimal input to function with optimal accuracy.

Don’t neglect mobile customers

Providing customers with a reliable mobile experience is becoming more necessary each year as mobile commerce continues to grow. New data is projecting that by the end of 2021, mobile devices will be responsible for almost 73% of total e-commerce sales, therefore, a focus on creating a mobile-friendly experience can go a long way.

Facilitating a fast, smooth experience through the use of Progressive Web Apps (PWA) is recommended for brands looking to scale performance through enhanced functionality. PWAs can facilitate a more streamlined consumer experience, and provide additional functionality such as sending push notifications and appearing as an app on a mobile screen. 

Conclusion

As 2021 is now just around the corner, the accelerated adoption of digital channels means that many businesses will have to look at e-commerce as a necessity rather than another option. New consumer shopping trends are indicating that more opportunities to succeed will be available to e-commerce sellers that are able to optimise their digital offerings. By focusing on the key processes that can help enhance their strategy, businesses will be able to best position themselves to succeed.

Stuart Conroy

Stuart Conroy has run Activ8 for 20 years and has operated across multiple channels in Asia, Europe and North America. With an understanding of the latest technology, logistics and outsourcing opportunities, Activ8 provides strategy consulting and hands-on solutions to brands looking to manage risk and scale opportunity in online commerce.

Activ8 utilise their experience of being on the Fast Track 100 on two occasions to help brands navigate the scaling process and operate a risk-averse multichannel strategy.

Having worked in investment banking before starting an ecommerce business as well as creating and working with a number of start-ups, Stuart has a great understanding of the challenges facing businesses of all sizes in the modern, digitally-influenced arenas.