E-commerce saw double-digit growth in January thanks to the New Year sales, with multi-channel buying and mobile browsing being big growth areas, exceeding traditional browsing, according to the latest retail sales monitor released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) today.
The figures are encouraging, and for many the convenience and increasing sophistication of retailers’ online stores means that shoppers can now get as good an experience online as they can in-store. But with technology developing at such a rapid pace, the report warns that retailers will need to ensure that aren’t left behind by not embracing new consumer trends.
Steve Rivers, CEO of online marketing experts Intelligent Reach, advises how retailers can continute to convert customers into loyal followers beyond just the sales period into the year ahead. He is keen to emphasise that retailers consider not just the desirability, but the accessibility of their online products.
‘This means ensuring that products are everywhere consumers are looking for them online, whether that means marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay, search engines such as Google or across shopping comparison sites such as pricegrabber and pricerunner,’ said Rivers. ‘Products must be presented in a format consumers expect and using a ‘language’ they understand.’
Part of this is monitoring and optimising online performance, just as in a traditional store, so that offers remain competitive. But not neglecting the multi-channel element will be key.
‘Ecommerce will continue to grow at a rapid pace, especially as the multichannel consumer emerges,’ Rivers adds. ‘Mobile browsing, for example, exceeded traditional browsing across retail earlier this year, indicating changing tools for buying online. As such, it’s crucial for retailers to think carefully about their ongoing e-commerce strategies to maximise overall profitability at a product level.’
As James Brooke, CEO of content marketing firm Amplience notes, these latest figures show that retailers need to ensure that they can give shoppers adaptive user experiences, such as through content that automatically adjusts to different consumer devices, where a rapidly growing number of purchases are taking place.
‘This helps retailers give shoppers the consistently good multichannel experience they are expecting in order to claim their market share of buyers,’ says Brooke. ‘When consumers have a wealth of offers to shop from online, a shopping experience that is efficient and seamless can make or break a sale over peak sales times, and convert customers beyond just the discounted period.’
And the ability to incorporate user-generated content is going to be a make-or-break factor for many retailers over the next year, especially with content stemming from social media.
‘Forward thinking brands are already putting social commerce and user generated content sharing at the heart of their online strategy,’ says Brooke, ‘and these retailers will certainly be the ones reaping the rewards over the next year.’