There is no disputing the growth of on-line sales. U.S.-based e-commerce sales are predicted to reach $350 billion by the end of 2015. Global sales are expected to reach $1.5 trillion! Even the holidays are predicted to be bigger than ever, with an estimated $617 billion in sales.
Along with this growth comes a shift in how consumers are perceiving on-line sales. Some people are calling 2015 “The Year of the Consumer” as buyers now have more power than ever and are flexing their muscles in terms of wants and expectations. What do you need to know to keep up with changes in e-commerce?
1) Big buying days are getting bigger and more volatile
You used to know all the big days in your local market (Black Friday, Cyber Monday), which made it easy to plan accordingly. However, with global on-line sales, there are holidays in other markets which may affect you. Alibaba alone reached sales of over $9 billion on China’s Singles Day (November 11) in 2014.
Global B2C sales mean you need to be flexible and ready to operate on demand as you enter new markets.
2) Keeping customers happy
Until recently, free shipping was everything. Now, in addition to free shipping, customers want more choices in packaging and delivery methods. Be sure to know what your customers are looking for and be prepared to offer new options.
Be aware, however, that customers understand the power they have, and that makes them vocal about their experiences. Make sure to keep your promises. Customers track every inch of the buying experience and will let you—and everyone else—know if you don’t meet their expectations. Bad reviews will affect not only your current customers but will put off potential clients as well.
Free returns ranked 6th in a list of 15 reasons why people buy holiday gifts on-line. Free shipping ranked first. Many retailers, including Zappos, have seen success by offering return policies which favor the buyer.
4) 24/7/365 Sales
With on-line sales, you’re always open. Can your supply chain, fulfillment center and customer service departments meet your customers’ needs? Carrier companies are beginning to support this trend by offering seven days per week delivery.
One of the fastest-growing trends in e-commerce is that retailers will provide discounts in exchange for waiting for products. Zulily is the pioneer of this trend. It offers items at a steep discount for a limited time. The buyers’ orders are collected and then sent to the supplier. The buyers gain better pricing in exchange for a longer wait time.
Global e-commerce opportunities are changing the landscape of on-line selling, and giving consumers more power and a bigger voice. Make sure you are ready to be a part of the expanding world of e-commerce.