For the eCommerce industry, the most fascinating change that took place in the 2020 pandemic is the shift to digital. When more and more people were forced to stay indoors, the number of Google searches multiplied and many started using online channels to buy products that were previously bought from physical retail stores.
However, the outrageous war in Ukraine, the rising cost of living, and the Brexit influences have resulted in strong inflation, leading to a sharp rise in prices across Europe and the UK. Retail businesses are among the first who feel the squeeze during such times of uncertainties and economic glitches. In the United Kingdom, the Office for National Statistics has reported a 5.1% drop in retail sales due to covid-19 and due to the Ukraine war after effects, and according to a report by S&P Global Market Intelligence, 2023 is on track to have the highest number of retail bankruptcies in a decade.
As per a community survey in the UK in 2022, 78% of people surveyed want to reduce their consumer spending since the price increase due to this inflation. As a result, online retail sales may decline.
However, experts predict 2023 can be a silver lining to the eCommerce retail sector. According to Statista, the market will amount to 75.84 trillion EUR by 2026, which is a 56% increase.
Retailers who will succeed in such times are those who:
- Embrace innovation and try new tactics
- Use technology to connect with people, products, and processes
- Prioritise customer satisfaction and responsiveness
Biggest eCommerce Challenges in 2023 and their solutions
Undoubtedly, the eCommerce industry continues to grow, but it’s fast-paced nature and constantly changing business approach will lead to more challenges in 2023. Consumer behaviour will continue to change, data security threats will endure rising, and the limitations between physical and digital online shopping will continue to blur.
2022 has largely witnessed a return back to normal and saw immense sales opportunities for most companies in this sector. So, as we move into 2023, it is about time that retailers face eCommerce challenges & solutions to tackle them.
1. Data and Cyber Security
Security is definitely one of the biggest challenges faced by eCommerce merchants. A lot of data and information is involved with eCommerce and any security breach or technical issue can cause severe damage to daily operations and also the brand image.
Be alert and always keep data back-up. Install smart security plugins that work best for your eCommerce website to prevent it from any kind of hacking.
2. Customer Identity Verification
An eCommerce site must invest in an accurate online identity verification process so that when a shopper visits the eCommerce website, the retailer knows that the visitor is the one who he claims to be, he is entering accurate information, and he is genuinely interested in the eCommerce products.
Use different ways to incorporate the online identity verification process that include biometrics, AI, single sign-up, one-time password, two-factor authentication, etc.
3. Attracting the Customer on the right platform at the right time
Today, shoppers have multiple options to choose from these days. They do thorough research before finalising their purchase. Thus, finding that perfect customer who wants your product, at your rate and to the places you can ship can be a big challenge.
Right digital marketing can help you target your ideal customer. Partner with companies who have the same audience to target your customers. A/B testing, marketing, AI, and analysis could help showcasing your products to potential customers on different social media platforms.
4. User Experience
Good user experience is key to the success of any eCommerce website. Shoppers expect a nearly similar experience as they would get in a brick-and-mortar store. For this the website layout, the segmentation, product detailing, and the retail personalisation of products based on the user’s preferences should be on point.
There are many ways to improve the user experience. Design a clear and simple website that helps shoppers to navigate easily. Incorporate clear CTAs (call to action) so that the shopper knows exactly what to do, how to find his product, and how to check-out after placing his order.
5. Building Customer Loyalty
Acquiring a new customer can cost up to 5 times more than retaining an existing one. Moreover, the success rate of selling to an existing customer is 60-70% compared to just 5-20% of selling to a new customer.
These stats prove how important customer retention or loyalty is to an eCommerce retailer. When a customer makes a purchase, retailers have to make sure that the customer keeps returning to his online store for the next and every other purchase.
The different methods to retain customers are – Provide excellent customer service which is on point. Keep in touch with the customer and engage with them via email, SMS or blog posts. Update them and let them know about new products, sales promotions and special coupon codes to make them keep returning.
6. Converting visitors into actual paying customers
This is one of the biggest eCommerce challenges that eCommerce brands face in today’s competitive world. is to convert visitors into paying customers. Your eCommerce website may enjoy a lot of traffic, a lot of clicks and impressions but is it making the sales that are anticipated.
Firstly, understand why your visitors are not converting – are you targeting the right people? Is your website mobile friendly? Is your online platform facing any technical challenges? Are you providing the required product choice? Remember that you always must think from a shopper’s perspective and do everything possible to make them pay customers. The repeat customer in general can spend 300% more than the new customer. So, it’s important you offer great customer experiences that will make them keep coming back.
7. Competitor Analysis
These days, most people are fatigued by all the number of options that are available out there. So, how can the retailer’s standpoint stand out from the crowd? What can be done to bring shoppers to their website, instead of competitors’ websites selling similar products?
Do a thorough analysis of your competitors and find out what products they are selling, how they are generating leads and how they engage with their customers. Next, make sure you stand out from your competitors. This can be done with the colours you use, the hi-end functionality of your website, and the amazing user experience with great after sale services. You may also try to offer products and services that are unique and relevant to your customers.
8. Product Price & Shipping
Customers prefer to purchase products from places that give a competitive pricing and have free shipping. Thus, eCommerce giants like Amazon always provide attractive shipping deals that customers seldom don’t move to other places. Hence, bringing down product cost and shipping cost is a challenge.
While it may not be easy to zero the shipping cost, try to look for options that work for your customer base. Do thorough research and find the best possible solution. This could include _ a subscription to reduce the cost of shipping, giving lower shipping costs on a certain time of the month/year, bundling of goods or making total purchase cost up to a defined limit to avail free shipping, etc
9. Product Return & Refund Policies
As per ComScore, above 60% of online shoppers look at a retailer’s return policy before making a purchase. A shopper hesitates and is less likely to trust a retailer that has a “no returns or refunds” policy. While shopping online, customers want the flexibility of making a purchase mistake that could be rectified and won’t cost them.
Customer satisfaction is very vital for any retailer. So, follow a flexible return and refund policy that helps with customer satisfaction, helps with making purchases without hesitation, and builds loyalty towards the brand.
10. Choosing the right technology to resolve eCommerce challenges
Choosing the right technology or partner is another challenge that needs to be addressed as it can make or break your business. If you are lacking a good technology foundation or your technology is limited and if you have hired the wrong agency to manage your projects, your growth might be stunted.
Partner with a unified Visual AI platform to fix all your eCommerce challenges. AI is redesigning the future of retail commerce using image recognition and data science, that helps retailers generate product and customer intelligence, and along with market insights, it powers growth.
11. Cross border / multiple channels eCommerce
An eCommerce site tends to stagnate when there is lack of interaction with customers outside their geographical, linguistic, or local range. Users who don’t understand the primary language used on the site will prefer shopping from other retailers for a better user experience. Additionally, the differences in pricing, tax rates, shipping costs etc., discourage users from purchasing across cross borders.
Implementing a multi-lingual site that is translated for customers who do not understand the primary language of your site can make a huge difference in attracting customers, improving your conversion rates, and providing better brand experiences. Also, use technology to enable quick and easy currency conversions and tax the products appropriately to enhance cross border sales.
12. Go Omnichannel
Today customers don’t want to shop anonymously in-store but also have a completely personalised experience of shopping online.
A customer is likely to spend three-times more than the average customer when he shops on multiple channels. Moreover, selling your products through multiple channels will increase your overall revenue and the Average Order Value (AOV).
Use the reliable data from the different channels you operate on. Identify the best ones and optimize them for your customers and cut down spending on the platforms that do not attract the right customer.
13. Supply Chain Logistics
Almost all brands across the world get affected by the supply chain issues and errors that occur at multiple steps during the process, leading to added expenses and delays.
Gain visibility of your entire supply chain as it enables you to track your inventory accurately. Establish a clear communication system that will help you stay up-to-date at all levels of the supply chain process. This eCommerce challenge requires time and effort, but is extremely essential.
14. Clear and easy navigation
Since user-interface contributes to user experience, the design and placement of important elements on your website such as the navigation bar, tabs can drastically impact your conversions and sales. Users tend to leave the sites that they cannot easily navigate through.
Work towards constantly improving your User Interface design. Employ A/B tests to understand what navigation your customers respond well to and remove the hindrances that hamper your users from fully engaging with your site.
15. Payment Flexibility
According to the recent Black Friday news from the US, the Black Friday sales in 2022 were up 2.3% compared to 2021, but most notable was the buy now pay later option that saw 78% increase in use.
Many customers want to use the trending services like BNPL and not just cards, UPI, or COD payment options. To attract the millennials and Gen Z audience, incorporate multiple payment options to your site.
Retailers need to create a new shopping environment Marketplaces with thousands of products where everything is available instantly using buy-now-pay-later service. This is an important trend and challenge, but the underlying goal is to connect the shopping experience across all the various channels.
Today customers can buy from social media apps, marketplaces, online from a retailer’s app, and also in-store. Retail brands thus need to learn more about how and when their customers like to buy – and use different channels like eCommerce marketplaces as an additional source of selling platform for their products.
Change is coming for retail eCommerce business in 2023 and consumer expectations are higher than ever, but almost all the above-mentioned technical and economic challenges of eCommerce can become opportunities. It all depends on your approach and ability to plan ahead and think strategically about what your customers really need. Partner now with Adobe Commerce and boost your eCommerce business in 2023.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Team Vue.ai, & Vue.ai, T. (2023, January 6). 20 biggest ecommerce challenges in 2023 + Simple Solutions. Vue.ai Blog. Retrieved January 11, 2023, from https://vue.ai/blog/ai-in-retail/ecommerce-challenges-in-2021/
Overall, P. (2023, January 9). Retail challenges and opportunities for 2023: Retail bulletin. Retail Bulletin | Daily UK Retail News. Retrieved January 11, 2023, from https://www.theretailbulletin.com/retail-solutions/retail-challenges-and-opportunities-for-2023-19-12-2022/
The impact of Russia War against Ukraine on eCommerce: Tradedoubler – Connect and Grow. Tradedoubler. (2022, July 5). Retrieved January 17, 2023, from https://www.tradedoubler.com/en/blog/impact-ukraine-war/