4 Winning Strategies to Reinvent Ecommerce in 2021

2021 will no doubt bring many challenges. While the past 18 months have been difficult for retailers and ecommerce, many retailers embraced the new world we were forced into and made the necessary changes to set themselves up for the best chance of success this year and beyond.

Earlier in the year, online sales in the UK boomed. January 2021 recorded the highest online sales since the pandemic began – +74% YoY – and the highest January sales on record since 2008.

The story unfortunately doesn’t continue on a high, however. While the first quarter of 2021 saw solid results, it’s been downhill since then.

Year on Year Total Market Sales Growth (exc Travel)

[IMRG]

But with everything about to change, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. 2021 is looking up! We’ve compiled some strategies for retailers to reinvent their ecommerce and come out of this year on top. If we can get through 2020, we can get through anything!

We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO

#1: Unify Your Commerce

It’s unsuprising that 67% of customers use multiple channels to complete a single transaction. They may start their journey with a search or on social media, switch between ecommerce stores, marketplaces, review sites, and more. Not only do they bounce around online and offline, 85% of customers start a purchase on one device and finish it on another.

40% of consumers say that they won’t do business with companies if they can’t use their preferred channels, and 45% said product availability at a nearby store was one of the most important logistical factors that influenced when and where they shopped – a trend that’s going to continue to rise.

Unified Commerce is the way forward in 2021. While retailers might be providing a great cross channel experience to consumers with an omnichannel strategy, it’s a mess in the backend. Any changes to products, pricing, images, and more need to be made in duplicate and the brand experience is not consistent across the channels.

The next evolution of omnichannel retailing is Unified Commerce.

A unified commerce strategy will see your products and brand placed in front of consumers wherever they shop; your retail stores, website, marketplaces and sales channel. The use of PIM (Product Information Management) software will ensure your products are consistent, enriched with attributes so they can be found, and tailored per sales channel. The result? An exceptional customer experience.

#2: Prioritise the Product Experience.

Product content matters. It gives the customer the best possible product experience without actually touching the product itself. Online shoppers expect compelling and robust product descriptions, high quality imagery and videos, customer reviews and content, content, content.

70% of returns are size and fit related. Product returns cost UK retailers around £60bn / year and can account for up to 10% of your business. By providing the right product content at the point of purchase (ie. product page), your rate of return will decrease.

Top Tips for Exceptional Product Content

  • Structure your data to make it easier to find.

  • Add an abundance of attributes to help with search and product discovery.

  • Ensure your imagery is compelling and vast, displaying the various features of the product and gives the consumer a good idea of what the product will look like or how it will work.

Rich product content is the magic behind ecommerce success. A robust and powerful PIM (product information manager) will manage and automate your product data, ensuring accuracy and completeness. A top solution will also assist tailor product information specifically for external applications, marketplaces and additional sales channels.

Product content that converts

PRO TIP: Reduce your return rate with accurate and comprehensive product information.

#3: Pay Attention to the Delivery Experience.

84% of UK consumers saw that the delivery experience stands out most when thinking about a purchase, and 87% say the delivery experience directly impacts their decision to shop with the merchant again.

Consumers expect delivery options; free shipping, express shipping, click and collect, same day, weekend…. The list goes on! A distributed order management system gives you the flexibility to support multiple channels, fulfilment methods, fulfilment locations and return points. By incorporating inventory, you can ship from the closest location to the customer, offer click and collect and not run the risk of stock outs.

By integrating multiple carriers into your ecommerce platform, you can not only offer delivery options, but also assign the delivery to the right carrier for the job.

#4: Embrace Returns.

Once you’ve accepted that returns are a part of ecommerce and need to be treated as an opportunity and not just a business expense, you’ll see the light. Returns are a part of the post-purchase experience and are an important part of the purchase journey.

What consumers want:

Free Returns.

62% of consumers won’t shop with a retailer that doesn’t offer free returns.

Easy Returns.

Customers expect to return an item in a manner that suits them – via courier, instore, collection box etc.

Instant Refunds.

Don’t keep them waiting!

Get it right, and you will boost customer loyalty and your bottom line. A positive returns experience will instill trust in your brand, reduce barriers to purchase and boost your marketing appeal in the long run.

Learn how Comestri can help enable your Unified Commerce strategy.
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