Worldwide eCommerce sales broke the $5 trillion mark in 2022 - and are expected to almost double by 2025.
Despite this, running an online store is no easy task, especially for newcomers. Cybercriminals are launching even more sophisticated methods of attack, you’ve got competitors to fend off, and your customers are demanding more than ever.
In this article, we’ll highlight the biggest stumbling blocks eCommerce business owners faced in 2023. We’ll also show how to overcome these problems with practical, easy-to-implement steps.
Cyberattacks occur with striking regularity in the eCommerce world, growing at an unprecedented rate in the last few years. In 2022 alone, almost 40% of incoming eCommercemerce traffic came from non-human sources - many of these had malicious intentions and made enormous financial drains.
As well as posing a financial threat, cyber-attacks are problematic in other areas. Not only do you lose money and crucial data, but you will also lose the trust of your consumers.
As a result, cybersecurity needs to be one of your top priorities. Here are some ways to strengthen:
- Use SSL-certificates. Customers trust online stores that are SSL encrypted. SSL-encrypted websites protect their sensitive data, including banking details.
- Implement firewalls. A firewall is your first line of defense against cyberattacks because it monitors traffic to ensure nothing suspicious is able to get through.
- Keep an eye on the latest trends. You can follow the most trustworthy cyber security experts on social media and attend live conferences and webinars to stay up-to-date.
2.Supply chain setbacks
Supply chain setbacks mean your customers might not get their orders delivered on time. This can lead to negative customer reviews - and even a loss of customers.
Better supply chain management is the easiest solution to a spluttering supply chain. It not only makes it easier for your customers to see what items are currently in stock, but it also ensures that your items are packaged, shipped, and delivered on time.
Each step of the supply chain - from sourcing to delivering to processing returns - needs to be optimized. Here are some tips:
- Perform a supply chain audit. An audit will give you insights into areas of concern in your operations and improvement opportunities. It can also uncover the need for new processes and help you improve your logistics planning. A supply chain audit should include assessing your prices, current risks, and inventory management.
- Invest in inventory management software that helps to prevent an overstock and an understock. When comparing inventory management software, consider the cost, the usability of the software, its integration with other systems, as well as your specific requirements. For example, do you want an on-site system or a web-based system? Would you prefer a highly customizable system or is this not necessary?
- Work with a trusted 3PL that can take care of eCommerce fulfillment for you. They’ll store, distribute and fulfill your orders, helping you figure out key global supply chain costs so that you stay within budget.
In today’s world, customers demand eCommerce personalization. 91% of customers have said they will return to stores that offer preference-based product recommendations.
eCommerce personalization includes product recommendations, “recently viewed products,” personalized offers, and complementary products. You can even personalize landing pages to suit different audiences and offer customized packaging and pop-ups.
In short, there’s a lot you can do.
Amazon’s “books you may like” section that’s based on a customer’s browsing and purchase history:
Implementing personalization is simple enough and it can be done in a few steps:
- Segment your audience. Gather customer data and then use segmentation to target different customer segments with specific offers. You can segment site visitors according to criteria like onsite behavior, demographics, and past purchases. Make sure to use customer segmentation tools designed for eCommerce.
- Use all your channels. Make sure to segment all incoming traffic to your online store. This means utilizing all your marketing channels - both paid and free - including organic traffic, emails, social media, and PPC.
- Ask for permission. 69% of customers have said they appreciate personalization, but only if you take data they have consented to share.
- Offer personalized packaging. Personalized packaging makes each product feel unique to your customers, which is a great way of building a lasting relationship. Not every package has to be unique, but you could create different packages for different experiences. For example, if you sell sweets, you could create different packages for different flavors.
4. Lack of sales
Lack of sales is arguably the number one problem faced by online stores. There could be many reasons why your sales are down - is it the lack of product research or failure to recognize who your audience is? You should figure out the root cause first.
In order to avoid this from happening:
- Know your customers. Sales start with knowing who you’re selling to. Create in-depth customer personas to understand their pain points, buying power, and what would make them buy from you (do they share your values?). Run customer surveys and polls to learn more about your audience.
- Build trust. Create valuable and useful content that introduces people to your brand and products. Be transparent and open about who you are - who founded your store and when? Add SSL certificates to your website, implement chatbots that answer your customer queries, and add a clear returns policy to your website.
- Leverage email marketing. With email marketing, all your customers are in one place. You can segment your email list and send them weekly to keep them in the loop with your latest offers, deals, and discounts.
- Generate traffic. Execute an SEO campaign that makes it easy for customers to find you organically. Also, invest in paid search (PPC) and run ads on social media to drive more traffic.
- Always be testing. Are conversion rates down? Perform A/B tests to find out why. Tweak your product pages, your call-to-action buttons, and your images. Find out what’s working and what isn’t in a bid to boost sales.
5. Awesome competitors
eCommerce is a crowded market. Your customers want what you’re selling … But what happens when your competitors are effectively selling the same things as you?
Well, you need to do whatever it is they’re doing - but better.
It all starts with a competitor analysis. This will show you who you’re up against and what they’re selling. It will also help you to come up with a USP that differentiates your online store from everyone else’s.
Then, highlight any weaknesses your competitors have before doubling down on them. This might include:
- Website optimization
- SEO campaigns
- Customer reviews
- Product photography
- Social media engagement
- And more.
You can set yourself further apart from your competitors by being a bit more creative. For example, you could offer customizable packaging, free shipping, and more payment methods that cater to a wider demographic.
6. Customer loyalty
Lastly, while bringing in more customers is great, loyal customers are key to sustaining your store and scaling your business. Without customer loyalty, you’ll be continually overspending on marketing campaigns to attract new customers.
What’s more, 88% of customers will only stay loyal after at least 3 purchases. This means there’s work to do:
- Showcase your values. 82% of customers want to shop with stores that share their values. If you can communicate your values, you can turn one-time customers into long-term customers.
- Provide awesome customer service. Go above and beyond what customers expect, which could mean 24/7 chatbots and personalized responses via email. It also means making sure your customer service contact details are easy to find.
- Implement a loyalty program. A loyalty program could include gift cards, discount coupons, and free shipping when customers spend X amount in your store.
As the eCommerce world evolves, new challenges arise. We’ve outlined the biggest problems online stores face today and ways to combat them, including personalizing the customer experience and making your supply chain more efficient.
The hard work starts now. New technologies will come, new competitors will emerge and customer preferences will change. To always stay one step ahead of the curve, make sure to monitor trends so that you can spot fresh challenges before they become an issue.