This, in turn, has led to widespread issues with delivery, communications and returns and an environment in which 42% of shoppers have lessened their trust in online shopping due to poor experiences.
Throughout the next year and beyond, we will see retailers seeking to re-establish trust with customers through investment in every touchpoint of the end-to-end customer experience with an understanding that ownership is the key to building trust - and trust breeds long-term loyalty — a prerequisite for success in this troubled climate.
4. Smaller online retailers are closing the gap
With big players such as Amazon, Walmart and Target expanding their online presence, it would be easy to assume that smaller online retailers are suffering as a result, but that isn’t always the case.
On average U.S. e-commerce businesses are reporting a 15% increase in growth this year. As the data shows, many smaller and mid-sized retailers are doing well online — and the opportunity is there for them to build on this growth, but steps must be taken to compete with bigger players on delivery speed and overall operational efficiency.
In 2021, expect major increases in operational alliances as smaller businesses seek the speed, flexibility and level of productivity needed to carve out their own online niche and challenge the status quo.
5. E-commerce Retailers Will Increase Tech Spend
Investment in technology will beat the forefront of retail strategies for the year ahead, with 68% of retailers planning to increase their technology investment over the next 12 months.
The major technology initiatives online firms are prioritizing in 2021 includes web personalization, social media marketing, and a broadening of online payment options.
What's notable is that merchants are once again prioritizing the pre-purchase journey with regards to their investments. In the race to attract direct sales, few e-commerce brands are addressing the operational complexities that lie beyond the buy button, and this is risky — it can result in customers not receiving items on time, products not being delivered where they should be, or poor communications purchase.
Companies weighing up technology investments for next year should start with making sure they have the right infrastructure in place to deliver an optimal shopping experience at all ends of the buying journey.
Derek O’Carroll is CEO of Brightpearl, a retail operations platform for retailers and wholesalers with a clear mission to automate the back office so merchants can spend their time and money growing the business. Brightpearl’s complete back office solution includes financial management, inventory and sales order management, purchasing and supplier management, CRM, fulfillment, warehouse management and logistics.