Consider these 5 things when you plan your upgrade.
The eCommerce market is growing at a rapid rate, and with new platforms it has become easier than ever to launch a fully functional eCommerce website. In Australia, revenue from the eCommerce market is projected to grow at an annual CAGR of 4.22% till 2025, with a projected market value of US$ 35,045 million by 2025 1. Nevertheless, there are plenty of challenges that eCommerce websites face, making it important to have an upgraded and robust eCommerce site. The level of competition is on the rise, across all niches and regions, as more businesses expand to online selling, and eCommerce leaders and marketplaces enhance their global reach.
Existing eCommerce websites face a unique set of challenges depending upon their existing capabilities and support for growth. Unexpected spikes and fluctuations in traffic and transaction volumes can often lead to low page loading speeds and higher cart abandonment rates. Managing multiple websites and offering customers a unique and engaging experience are other common challenges. In online shopping, as customers are restricted to the online interface, it takes creativity and adequate technical support to offer customers a differentiated experience.
Businesses that expand from offline retail stores to online eCommerce websites have the potential to offer customers an omnichannel shopping experience. They can support features such as curb side pickup, and BOPIS or buy online, pick up in-store. While an omnichannel experience when executed properly has great scope for success, it can be challenging to manage it adequately. The eCommerce website needs to be able to combine multiple sales channels efficiently to provide customers with a uniform shopping experience. A new and improved or upgraded eCommerce website can help you meet all the challenges you face in a cost-effective manner, increasing your brand recognition, customer loyalty, and sales.
Here in this blog are five things you should consider when you plan the next upgrade for your eCommerce website.
1. Does your site sometimes crash or slow down?
As fast internet speeds become the norm, customers have a clear expectation on how quickly your eCommerce website should load. Research has found that as page load times increase from 1 second to 5 seconds, the bounce rate increases by a massive 90% 2. If your eCommerce website faces complete downtime, there are major repercussions. Even eCommerce giant Amazon noted a loss of $220k per minute of downtime 3. Unexpected web store downtime puts a halt on current transactions, and sends negative signals to customers, impacting your revenue.
Rarely occurring site crashes and slow-downs may be excusable, if not desirable. However, if your eCommerce website is frequently facing slow page loading speeds, and unexpected downtime, t is a strong indication that your website infrastructure is not scaling effectively. Sudden fluctuations in traffic and transaction volumes can overburden limited web infrastructural support, resulting in slow performance and even website crashes. When your business is growing, it is imperative to be able to support that growth with adequate infrastructural support. On-premise hosting and infrastructure are particularly challenging to scale. Subscription-based infrastructure does support scaling up, but significant expenses may be involved, and it can take time to move to a more comprehensive infrastructure subscription plan.
If you are expecting growth and want to be prepared with scalability, then consider an eCommerce system with managed cloud services and surge protection SLAs. Cloud-based services offer deployment efficiencies, development tools, monitoring, and regular updates with continuous releases. They deliver on customer expectations for security, fast page loading, interactivity, and engagement, by providing robust infrastructural support. Additional environments can be integrated and front and back-end performance optimised so that you get fast page loading, minimal downtime, and maximum support for uninterrupted service.
2. Do you spend too much time on site management?
With eCommerce websites, there are enormous possibilities for further growth and expansions. New online storefronts can be created for specific product lines, product categories, brands, and different regions. Over 50% of global online shoppers have purchased from an online website 4, and with suitable eCommerce website support, you can expand your reach worldwide. Products available, language, currency, and shipping can be customised for each region, giving you a fighting chance in markets outside of your locality. Within new regions, you can have an all-inclusive storefront, or multiple storefronts for different brands and product lines.
Supporting additional storefronts is an effective way to increase branding and cater to a wider customer group. However, managing multiple storefronts can be tricky if your eCommerce platform requires a separate, standalone system for each website and storefront. Often, even cloned storefronts copied from your existing websites will need a separate management system. If you have multiple storefronts with independent management systems, you will unavoidably end up spending a larger amount of time on site management. This can result in additional operating expenses and take away from time that could be spent on overall business growth.
There is a better option to launch and maintain multiple storefronts without spending too much time on site management. Choose an eCommerce system that has streamlined management of multiple storefronts, with a single administrative framework for multiple eCommerce websites. A single admin panel or dashboard for all your different storefronts and regional websites makes management simple. At a glance you can monitor the progress of the different eCommerce websites, investing the same amount of time that you would for a single storefront. Simplified management allows you to launch more dedicated storefronts targeting different customer groups, thereby increasing your reach, engagement, and sales.
3. Do you sell to businesses and consumers?
The earlier line between B2B and B2C sales is blurring with eCommerce websites. Without restrictions on stocking and product displays, many B2B businesses are supporting D2C or direct to consumer sales models, and B2C companies are offering wholesale options. According to 81% of surveyed consumers, within the next 5 years, they plan to make at least one purchase from a direct-to-consumer brand 5. By catering to businesses and consumers, the size of your target customer group increases substantially, resulting in greater sales. From the merchant’s end, all that is needed are simple adjustments to incoming supply inventory and shipping methodologies.
Apart from preparing inventory and shipping processes for additional B2B or B2C sales, a suitable eCommerce website is also needed. Digital commerce is vastly different for B2B and B2C, with each requiring specialised features. For B2B sales, eCommerce websites come with features such as quotation systems, approval workflows, multiple access business accounts, and credit limits. The staging, layout, and description of products is also different, designed to appeal to businesses and facilitate larger bulk orders. B2C targeted eCommerce sites feature detailed and eye-catching descriptions, fast checkouts, quick deliveries, and varied price points. The purchasing habits and consumer preferences vary between B2B and B2C clients, and the eCommerce site needs to reflect that for optimum success.
With the right eCommerce platform, you can effectively cater to both B2B and B2C audiences by implementing a hybrid commerce model. Separate storefronts can be setup for B2B and B2C customers, each backed with the features suited for the type of customers expected. The B2B site would offer specialised B2B sales features, while the B2C website would have B2C targeted functionalities. The hybrid commerce model enables you to manage both B2B and B2C eCommerce websites from a single system, simplifying the management process. Based on your preferences, you can view sales and performance collectively or individually for the B2B and B2C websites.
4. Do you need omnichannel capabilities like BOPIS or BORIS?
An eCommerce website is a great asset for generating sales, but when combined with omnichannel capabilities and brick-and-mortar stores, the sales potential is dramatically enhanced. With omnichannel capabilities, you can offer customers multiple sales channels that they can use to purchase from your brand. Features such as BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick up In Store) and BORIS (Buy Online, Return in Store) have shown excellent results in increasing sales. In cases when customers want products urgently without lengthy shipping periods, they can opt for BOPIS. If they are dissatisfied with a product, BORIS makes it easy to return items without having to search for shipping providers.
Omnichannel sales capabilities and features like BOPIS and BORIS are only effective if the eCommerce system is integrated with offline stores and other sales channels. The eCommerce website should be able to directly coordinate with existing ERP and POS platforms to support smooth operations and an omnichannel experience. When orders are placed on your eCommerce website, they should be able to instantly verify the availability of products at your offline store location in order to support BOPIS. To coordinate BORIS, the operating hours of your offline store need to be updated on your eCommerce website. Manual coordination is time-consuming, a hassle, and prone to errors that can damage your brand reputation.
To offer your customers an omnichannel sales experience and integrated services with an offline store, it is essential to have a suitable eCommerce platform that can support omnichannel capabilities. With a suitable eCommerce platform, you can integrate it directly with ERP, POS, and other systems. Omnichannel sales can be managed from a single admin system, saving you time and energy, while also reducing mistakes. After integration, your eCommerce website should be able to display options for BOPIS, BORIS, curb side pickup, and other supported functionalities. Customers will have the flexibility of choosing between your online and offline stores, and can enjoy a unified shopping experience with BOPIS and BORIS.
5. Do you also sell on Amazon and other marketplaces?
The single biggest eCommerce marketplace worldwide, Amazon is an online shopping behemoth with an average of 5.2 billion visits per month globally 6. In the first quarter of 2021, Amazon posted record profits with revenue exceeding $100 billion for the second consecutive quarter, reaching $108.518 billion 7. With a colossal presence across the world in numerous niches, as an online marketplace it offers excellent opportunities for smaller sellers. A significant portion of the Amazon offerings comprise of items sold by individual sellers. By selling your products through Amazon, you get access to its sizable audience, and can also create recognition for your brand.
Anyone can sell on Amazon and other similar marketplaces such as eBay, with or without an eCommerce website. However, if you want to offer a large number of products and product variations on Amazon, manually managing your sales can be time-consuming and inefficient. Every product would need an adequate product listing and suitable pricing based on market standards to have a chance at sales. Monitoring Amazon sales and adapting based on revenue trends also requires additional efforts. If you have an eCommerce website but it does not directly support Amazon sales, you would have to manually upload and update products on your Amazon listing.
Selling on Amazon and other marketplaces is an opportunity not to be missed out on. Using an eCommerce platform that directly supports Amazon and other marketplace sales is an effective way to sell on marketplaces in a streamlined manner. From the eCommerce site itself, you can manage your listings on Amazon and other marketplace. All the product listings and pricings on Amazon can be configured to automatically update with change on your eCommerce website. New products can be uploaded in bulk, enabling you to easily offer a wide range of products on Amazon. Order status, sales reports, and revenue trends from Amazon can be monitored and analysed directly from your eCommerce website.
Simply launching an eCommerce website on any platform does not necessarily set your brand up for success. If you are facing issues in operations or scalability, it might be time to consider an upgrade. With a robust and powerful eCommerce website and platform, your chances of success increase dramatically. Your answers to the questions above can guide you in defining the requirements for your next eCommerce upgrade. Although an upgrade may seem unnecessary if you have a functional eCommerce website, the benefits of upgrading are substantial.
If your site crashes or slows down, or if you spend too much time on site maintenance, then it is a clear indication that an upgrade should be considered. If you currently sell B2B or B2C, and wish to expand, or want to expand to support omnichannel capabilities and sales on Amazon and other marketplaces, an adequate eCommerce website can make all that possible. A suitable eCommerce website should be scalable, reliable, versatile, and easy to manage so that you can meet your short-term and long-term goals.
Want to check the status of your eCommerce website and more personalised recommendations? Take this self-assessment and grow faster with the right digital commerce strategy.
- Think with Google: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-resources/data-measurement/mobile-page-speed-new-industry-benchmarks/
- Gremlin: https://www.gremlin.com/ecommerce-cost-of-downtime/
- Research and Markets, 2020: https://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/4997074/global-cross-border-b2c-e-commerce-2020
- Retail Dive: https://www.retaildive.com/news/81-of-consumers-plan-to-shop-direct-to-consumer-brands/539087/