The last ten years have seen a shift in how people shop, from perusing racks and purchasing from physical stores to adding items to an online shopping cart and checking out with a press of a button. Indeed, e-commerce has revolutionized the shopping experience of people around the world.
Now, more than ever, e-commerce is seeing tremendous growth—and it does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon. In 2020, consumers spent a whopping $861.12 billion on online U.S. merchants. Even more noteworthy, Statista forecasts a 22% share of total global retail sales in 2023.
That should come as no surprise as there are many benefits to online shopping for consumers. Apart from the convenience of buying from anywhere anytime and having items delivered straight to your doorstep, e-commerce is a safer alternative these days. You can safely purchase products and avail services anytime, without having to leave your home.
E-commerce benefits businesses as well. Thanks to several e-commerce tech solutions, you can get your business off the ground quicker. Additionally, with no need for large upfront investments, such as a physical storefront, you can cut costs. Lastly, being online allows you to reach customers from different corners of the globe. Of course, these advantages also present unique challenges.
Challenges of E-Commerce
As the e-commerce industry continues to grow, with more platforms being created to meet the growing demand from consumers, more obstacles pop up for online sellers and their businesses. Here are the top four e-commerce challenges you may encounter and how you can solve them.
Delivering excellent omnichannel customer support
Stellar omnichannel customer service can set you apart from the competition. Omnichannel customer services allow your customers to reach your brand through multiple integrated touchpoints. By providing omnichannel support, your customers can enjoy a seamless and unified brand experience.
Admittedly, providing prompt customer support from your website live chat, hotline, email, and social media page can be a tall order. But keep in mind that, unlike physical stores, e-commerce requires a little more clarity in product offerings, pricing, and other relevant information. You want to be easily reachable to address your customers’ concerns; otherwise, they will get frustrated and buy elsewhere.
What you can do:
Customer experience is critical in any industry, but even more so in e-commerce. Here are actionable tips you can apply to your online store:
- Identify the channels that are the most important to your customers and prioritize those.
- Ensure that your website and support pages are user-friendly.
- Provide a comprehensive and easily accessible FAQs page to allow customers to solve their concerns themselves whenever possible.
- Improve your social media response times, as many customers expect a response time of 30 minutes after initial contact.
- Don’t brush off SMS—you can send text message reminders for appointments, respond to inquiries, and send alerts for new promos and services.
- Live chats can improve sales, while email is a secure platform that customers trust.
When business is doing well, the next logical step is to expand. However, do you have the capacity to grow? As the company grows, expenses subsequently increase. With expansions, you will need to hire more people, invest in technology, or outsource.
Indeed, scaling a business effectively while still keeping costs low can be a daunting challenge. However, if you want your business to continue succeeding, you need a growth-oriented mindset and scale-up. Otherwise, your competitors will beat you to it.
What you can do:
When scaling your business, you will need to work smart and be strategic. Here are few pointers to help you:
- Invest in IT support systems to automate processes.
- Expand to other relevant online marketplaces to widen your reach.
- Optimize your e-commerce website to improve user experience, search discoverability, and sales.
- Partner with an order fulfillment company to cut costs and increase efficiency.
- Outsource customer support to a virtual assistant. The cost-saving and efficiency-boosting benefits of hiring a VA can also help boost your e-commerce growth.
Addressing shopping cart abandonment
Shopping cart abandonment is a challenge that plagues every e-commerce site. It is common for shoppers to add an item to their shopping cart but not purchase it or finish the transaction.
While most e-commerce retailers face this problem, you shouldn’t be complacent in addressing it. You can bet that your competitors are hard at work enticing their shoppers to revisit their shopping carts and finally check out.
What you can do:
- Nudge shoppers to check out the items in their cart with the tips below:
- Help customers remember what they added to their carts by including images of the items. These can reinforce their desire to get the items and push through with the purchase.
- To avoid shopping cart abandonment, minimize the steps in the checkout process. You want to ensure that the online shopping experience is effortless and seamless.
- Establish and build trust with your transaction forms since your customers trust you with their personal information like credit card and contact details.
- Offer multiple payment options such as credit card or mobile payment.
- Leverage remarketing ads to target and entice shoppers to return to their cart and check out.
- Set up an email or SMS marketing campaign to follow up on shoppers who’ve abandoned their cart.
When it comes to running an e-commerce site, cybersecurity should be one of your top priorities. One cyberattack is enough to cost you your customer’s trust and destroy your reputation.
As an online retailer, you ask your customers for their credit or debit card numbers, home addresses, and other personal information, which, in the wrong hands, can put them at risk. So it is your responsibility to protect you and your customers from malicious attacks.
What you can do:
Since e-commerce requires certain private information from your customers to do business, you need to have a proper cybersecurity framework and technology to keep such information safe and secure. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:
- Choose a trusted and secure e-commerce platform that regularly updates itself and offers top-notch security.
- Employ multi-layer security, such as two-factor authentication, for your customers.
- Ensure antivirus, anti-malware, and firewall software are in place.
- Use Secure sockets layer (SSL) certificates, switch to HTTPS, and secure your servers and admin panels.
- Regularly review all plugins and third-party integrations.
- Refrain from storing credit card information on your servers and use third-party payment processing systems, such as PayPal, to carry out the process off-site instead.
- Have an incident response plan so that your staff knows what to do in the event of a cyberattack. This helps the business reduce downtime in operations and continue providing services to clients through other means.
Outsource for a More Effective E-Commerce Business
Running an e-commerce site can be taxing for any business owner. If you feel overwhelmed with the many tasks of ensuring efficiency and success, it may be time to enlist a virtual assistant’s help.
Coupled with an effective delegation, hiring a VA can help you scale your e-commerce business while keeping costs low. When you outsource a virtual assistant instead of hiring more in-house staff, you can save on hiring, onboarding, and salary and benefits costs.
You can also increase efficiency since you can outsource non-core tasks to them. For instance, a VA can handle your marketing campaigns to take customer support off your plate and effectively boost sales and reduce cart abandonment.
If you’re looking for a virtual assistant for small businesses, look no further than Outsource Access. Outsource Access will help you get top-tier talents with the skills and knowledge to grow your business exponentially. To know more about how Outsource Access can help you, book a call now.