There’s no beating around the bush: the online store market is busy going through big changes, and with them come shifting eCommerce challenges that you will need to address. Without creating concrete plans to overcome them now, you run the very real risk of being overtaken by your competitors this year. But don’t fear, we have just the solutions for you!
In this post, we count down the most significant eCommerce challenges you will face this year and include our top solutions and suggestions to meet these challenges head-on and get you back on track for business growth.
Challenge #5: Increased Competition
As we highlighted in our eCommerce Trends post, eCommerce experienced ten years’-worth of growth in just three months, and this year we can expect even more brands to join the online shopping market. To put it simply, competition is going to be fierce this year, and brands that don’t take steps now will be left behind.
This increased competition will make it harder for existing online stores to stand out and acquire new customers. Additionally, eCommerce backend expenses such as media, fulfillment, and tech will rise.
Solutions and Fixes
To stand out from your closest competitors, you want to go back to the basics of the KISS principle (Keep it Simple, Stupid). This means ensuring your products are easy to find and buy, and backed by top-notch customer service.
The best place to start is using the free Benchmark Hero Tool to assess how your store measures up to the competition in your niche in terms of store optimization, messaging, and marketing. It will give you a full site audit in minutes, measure your store against 8-figure stores in your niche, and include action items on how you can optimize to stand out.
In a nutshell, you should be aiming to optimize your shopping experience from beginning to end. This includes:
- Optimizing your online store for peak performance.
- Providing high-quality products that match buyers’ expectations.
- Finding a way to make your brand unique, differentiating yourself from your competitors.
- Using strong messaging that addresses pain points.
- Providing unparalleled customer service.
- Optimizing PPC campaigns to drown out the noise.
- Segmenting your messaging and markets and meeting potential customers where they are.
Challenge #4: Meeting Consumers’ Expectations
As more people are forced to shop online for a wider variety of products in the coming year, it’s going to become even more critical to manage expectations. This is vital for increased retention and decreased return rates. If you’re not upfront about price, product details, and expected delivery dates — and following through by meeting those expectations — you run the risk of losing customers to your competitors. And when there are so many new competitors entering the fray, it’s too big of a threat.
Solutions and Fixes
The simplest way to meet customers’ expectations is to provide browsers with full product information and sizes. This will help reduce the risk of returns or negative feedback. You want to make the shopping experience as smooth as possible while ensuring you are upfront about pricing and shipping costs, build trust, optimize your store for conversions, and go above and beyond in terms of customer service.
[Source: Elastic Path]
Challenge #3: Shipping Challenges
The next significant challenge for online stores this year is shipping and returns. One-size-fits-all shipping options are no longer enough if you want to rise above the eCommerce noise. Customers want to get their purchases as fast as possible, and in some cases, are willing to pay more for quicker deliveries. They also want to know that if they are not happy with their purchase, they will be able to return it, no questions asked, and that the return process is easy to navigate.
Solutions and Fixes
The most straightforward solution for this 2021 eCommerce challenge is ensuring that you include shipping prices in the product prices or display prices, or live rates before checkout. You also want to include options for fast shipping, and ensure your return policy is crystal-clear and honest. Some creative strategies for eCommerce shipping include the following combinations:
- Standard, same day (local), and in-store pick-up
- LTL freight and standard shipping
- Standard and fast-frack shipping
- Free, standard, and fast-track shipping
Challenge #2: Brand Loyalty
It shouldn’t surprise you to find brand loyalty on this list. Shopper retention will be one of the biggest challenges you will face this year as you navigate a saturated market. With so many new stores online, customer options have increased. Price isn’t going to get your brand to stand out; your identity is. Customers are looking for brands they can relate to. You will need to invest big in brand equity this year if you want to turn first-time customers into loyal shoppers.
Solutions and Fixes
To build strong brand loyalty, you need to have a clear understanding of who your customers are and what they want, and regularly engage with them. This also means investing in a brand voice, using content marketing storytelling to drive awareness of what your brand stands for, and rewarding loyalty. Here are some top ways you can build buyer loyalty and increase retention:
- Invest in optimized retargeting campaigns across all channels.
- Exceed expectations with surprise gifts and/or after-sale services.
- Go above and beyond in terms of customer service.
- Personalize your customers’ shopping experience.
- Reward loyalty with segmented promotions, offers, and/or loyalty programs.
- Engage with customers and potential shoppers across their preferred channels.
Challenge #1: Increased Acquisition Costs
This year, it’s going to be even harder for eCommerce brands to attract new shoppers through PPC campaigns and media platforms. With the rise in competition, big brands are expected to increase their advertising budgets throughout the year, forcing more online retailers to join the party. Current estimations are talking about as much as a 20%+ increase in acquisition cost — which is huge!
With such a fast influx of businesses entering the online space, all injecting money into digital ads, there is no doubt you will need to deal with increased budgets to ensure you can stay competitive. It’s also now more critical than ever to manage these ads in real-time.
Solutions and Fixes
You will need to implement a system that optimizes your campaigns in real-time, including campaign types, targeting methods, and even customizing creatives to get you the ROAS you are looking for. This means that you absolutely need to invest in a multi-channel advertising strategy powered by AI technology.
If you are still settling for human-managed advertising campaigns, there is no way you will be able to create a multi-channel strategy across all PPC channels (Google, Facebook, and Microsoft) and keep them optimized for peak performance.
There are a lot of companies out there promising PPC automation, but none match the power of Traffic Booster. As a Google Premier Partner, Facebook’s Official Marketing Partner, and exclusive marketing partner to PayPal, Traffic Booster is trusted by big tech companies. In fact, we’re so confident in our technology that we let merchants try us out with budgets as low as $120/month, with no set-up fees, no minimum fees, and no commitment.
Mushon is the Head of Media at StoreYa. He's a PPC expert specializing in Facebook, Google, and Instagram eCommerce campaigns.
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