Online retailers focus on sales in 2021

E-commerce has proven to be a key driver to maintaining and even boosting business in 2020, with the majority (84 per cent) of Australians now shopping online and a third (33 per cent) preferring to shop online more than before the pandemic.

Now, new research reveals that online retailers will continue to work hard to drive online sales over building their social media presence or spending on marketing.

More than half (56 per cent) of respondents worked on driving repeat customers before Covid hit, 36 per cent expanded their product range, 27 per cent worked on differentiating their brand from competitors, an equal 33 per cent focused on customer acquisition and increased their online or social media presence, and 20 per cent grew their e-commerce offering.

Respondents were then asked to identify what their main business focus will be after the economy opens completely in 2021. The data reveals that sales will be the focus for 52 per cent: 28 per cent of respondents will prioritise customer acquisition and 24 per cent driving repeat customers.

In contrast, marketing will be the main focus for just 20 per cent of online retailers. Thirteen per cent will focus most on differentiating their brand from competitors, and six per cent of retailers will increase their online or social media presence as a priority, even with one quarter (24 per cent) of Aussie shoppers making purchases through social media.

Surprisingly, a negligible proportion of retailers (two per cent) will improve their returns or exchange processes as a priority this year and just one per cent will mainly focus on opening or expanding their stores. Just 11 per cent will grow their e-commerce offering this year.

“While many online retailers experienced an increase in sales during the shutdowns, our survey suggests that sales will remain a priority in 2021,” Paul Roper, chief commercial officer at CP, says.

“It is important that retailers consider ways to grow sales as the economy recovers and consumer spending increases. Often, the differentiator between retailers is the customer experience and the last mile component is where brand differentiation really makes a difference. Offering multiple flexible options such as express deliveries, parcel collection locations that are open after hours and parcel redirection, help drive customer acquisition and loyalty, because convenience is key throughout the online shopping experience.

“Research indicates that 61 per cent of consumers have said a same-day delivery option would increase their loyalty to a brand. Keeping preferences like these in mind and determining ways to enhance their online offering can help e-tailers continue to drive growth and sales.

“As bricks and mortar stores continue to face challenges, retailers that do not have an e-commerce strategy in place should consider pivoting online as soon as possible. While we remain optimistic, there is the possibility that micro-lockdowns will occur in 2021 whenever cases spike. More consumers have become comfortable with online and social channels to make purchases, presenting a great opportunity for bricks and mortar retailers to shift to an omnichannel offering.”