An eCommerce store is the primary retail growth engine for any business. The meteoric growth witnessed by digital commerce over the last decade has also given rise to several eCommerce challenges. eCommerce is expected to claim 17% of the industry by the end of 2022. With this increasing size and demand for online business, riding the digital commerce wave is not easy.
The majority of shoppers, almost 81%, begin their journey with online research, and 71% of the customers say that a fast and highly responsive online marketplace is essential for a pleasant shopping experience.
The Total Transaction Value (TTV) in the digital commerce segment was reported to have a worth of 3.7M USD in 2020, and it is expected to rise, hitting 4.5M USD by 2023. However, to achieve a competitive edge in this crowded marketplace, leaders must first address the core challenges facing the eCommerce businesses.
eCommerce Challenges Faced by Businesses
Leaders across the globe face a lot of eCommerce problems while adapting to the digital commerce business. Here are the ten most common eCommerce challenges and solutions while working towards building a successful platform.
1. Capitalization of Data
The expansion of the digital commerce function to become a part of the holistic brand solution is one of the crucial eCommerce challenges. Quite often eCommerce becomes an autonomous side business. To facilitate this union, businesses are working hard to build efficient data enabled eCommerce solutions that help them right from shipping to store management, omnichannel solutions like BOPIS, and new Key Performance Integrals (KPIs) beyond conversion rates and Average Order Values (AOV).
Rather than experimenting based on assumed market trends, data needs to be systematically captured and applied in innovative ways. A few entrepreneurs realize the impact of data on the day-to-day as well as long term business decisions.
Retail businesses should start by making the eCommerce function an integral part of the business rather than a separate segment of a brand solution. They should find smart ways to capture and measure data related to in-store shopping and customer loyalty. It will help them in the data visualization, targeting the customers better, making a cross-digital impact, and improving monetization methods in local stores.
2. Customers’ Exploding Expectations
Retailers all over the world are continuously trying to build their reputation and a sharp brand image with the promise of a great experience. In an era where experience matters the most and tech giants like Amazon are taking the online buying process to the proverbial ‘next level’ with anticipatory shipping methods, it is very difficult to meet customer expectations. Thus, competing with them and fulfilling the ever-evolving customer demands is a huge challenge for retailers today.
To meet the customer expectation of good user experience, brands should start analyzing their shopping trends and must focus on using it to come up with personalized customer experiences. Your customers must feel acknowledged and valued right from the moment they start using your service. Send them notification alerts or product updates for the same.
3. Agility Challenge
Agility is the capability of a business to introduce advancements, develop and deploy digital content, react to seasonal changes, etc. rapidly. Agility drives immediate digital fulfillment, and it is identified as one of the most important initiatives in the eCommerce business. Agile transformation is at the heart of digital business, and scaling is essential for making it successful.
A large number of companies find it difficult to move or change quickly as per the needs of customers. It is usually because they can’t integrate new technologies efficiently with their existing system, and as a result of which, penetration into the market gets harder.
Being agile in the eCommerce approach helps you deliver an enhanced shopping experience. To be agile, eCommerce businesses need to incorporate quick changes across all platforms and must create personalized collections that inspire consumers. They should keep transporting fresh content and must design it separately for all devices and media channels along with guided selling experiences.
4. Personalization Approach
There is no denying that personalization is the key factor responsible for good customer experience. Retailers are obsessed with providing their customers with a personalized experience that sometimes gets over-personalized without them noticing it. And customers get irked by the excessive amount of targeted online ads.
In this hustle, retailers miss out on developing a one-to-one relationship with the customers, and it turns into a major challenge in front of them. 84% of customers refer to being treated like a person and not just a number as an integral part of winning their business.
eCommerce business leaders must focus on developing the 1:1 relationship with their customers. They need to strengthen their tools and capabilities for a better reach and visibility amongst the consumers. Retailers should use additional customer data strategically to better understand individual customer behavior and curate personalized customer experience.
It can be made possible with the integration of the latest technologies and smart algorithms into the current framework that can help automate the entire customer journey. Additional commerce tools, a new machine learning approach, and cross-application data sharing can also be harnessed to serve the purpose.
5. Being Consistent
Consistency is the most critical element for a successful omnichannel shopping experience. Customers use multiple platforms to search for items before making a decision which bounds businesses to provide seamless purchasing encounters through every product or service offered by them.
But analyzing and understanding customer interactions across all touchpoints and using it to build consistent and seamless customer experience is one of the major eCommerce challenges for retailers.
Brands can go about optimizing their online platforms to deliver complete consistency between search options, various shopping pages, and shipping details. It will help them make the shopping experience seamless for the shoppers. They should work on product quality, fulfillment, and distribution as well.
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6. Facing Competition
The internet offers everyone an equal platform and hence an equal opportunity. This makes the environment extremely competitive, with possibly hundreds of other businesses offering the same products or services as you and to the same target audience. Even the most niche brands have to fight hard to carve a place for themselves. And every segment in the eCommerce space is set to get increasingly congested and competitive over the years.
A homegrown startup has to keep pace with a multinational giant and vice-versa. And every enterprise is continuously experimenting to come up with an innovative eCommerce business solution to gain an edge.
The challenge can be mitigated through thorough research and competitive analysis. It is important to categorize the competitors and closely and frequently observe and assess the components of their websites, be it is pricing, the design, products on display or even the marketing tools and techniques they use. There is ample to learn from the strengths as well as the weaknesses of the competition.
From social media to blogs and websites to emails, a lot of insightful information can be examined, that can be insightful in understanding the eCommerce landscape. Analyzing the competition can guide business in its strategy and help in deciding on the direction to take.
7. Data Security
The uptake of eCommerce also brings along associated eCommerce challenges – security threat being one of the most critical of them. There is a looming threat of hackers and fraudsters attacking the host server and not just stealing confidential data but also infecting with viruses. Breach of credit and debit card details has become common news, and such lapses directly affect the trust of a consumer. Phishing is yet another threat where hackers pose as businesses and ask for sensitive information from their customers. Several users are increasingly concerned about the eCommerce websites’ capability to effectively shield their personal identity as well as the security of the transaction details.
Security first approach has to be a priority for every business operating in the digital space to retain the reputation of the brand and attract frequent customers. Some steps to safeguard the data of the business and its customers include switching to HTTPS protocols, using credible third party payment processing systems as well as obtaining a Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) accreditation. Firewall software and plugins shelter from SQL injections and cross-site scripting and are also an effective solution to evading suspicious networks while allowing only reliable traffic on the website.
8. Technology Partnerships
Technological partnerships are becoming increasingly popular in the eCommerce domain. When businesses join hands with a company to bring their idea to life, there is a lot at stake. The end product can turn out to be a success not by focusing merely on the tech or processes but also giving precedence to trust, transparency, and communication between the partners. There are obvious risks. Many businesses gravitate towards choosing a partner based on costs without setting the right expectations or understanding their work scope. These gaps lead to a disastrous collaboration and eventually, the end product. With access to an enormous pool of talent and technology, outsourcing in itself can prove to be extremely beneficial if done right.
With platforms such as Clutch that offer detailed client reviews of software development companies across the globe, it is relatively simpler to find the right outsourcing partner for an eCommerce business. Business leaders should thoroughly research the company’s works and expertise that they are willing to collaborate with. Discussing project expectations, understanding their past work experience, and ensuring that the eCommerce web development company is aligned to offering modern-day solutions such as agility and digital transformation helps make the right choice.
9. Customer Retention
Even some of the biggest players in the eCommerce segment struggle to retain their customer base. The reason for customer centric eCommerce challenges can be attributed to many factors such as the evolving expectation of the consumer, the presence of several similar options, failure to provide a pleasant shopping experience, and sometimes even the offers and discounts on the other platforms. Customer loyalty is indeed a determining aspect in a business’s success, and even a minor glitch from the retailer can entirely ruin the brand reputation for a consumer. Many businesses fail to understand that trying to retain a user is about investing in building a steady and rewarding relationship with them over time and employing every channel of communication to materialize it.
Building relationships takes time and effort. Businesses ought to engage their customers in different ways beyond the transactional correspondence and make them feel valued. Even while endeavoring to offer superior experience on the website, brands must nurture their customers by focusing on personalized communication. It is important to remember that loyalty stems from an emotional bonding with the brand, and every business should align their marketing effort towards building it. A smart customer retention strategy can work wonders for a brand where its consumers turn into brand advocates and help further spread the brand reach.
10. Relevant Leads
For eCommerce businesses, drawing good traffic may be achievable through promotions and other marketing efforts, but getting the relevant leads remains a huge challenge. No wonder the average eCommerce conversion rates are often minimal. A report points out how only 2.57 percent of eCommerce website visits have been converted into purchases in the US. The efforts invested in qualifying the visitor into a user can be futile if the right audience is not accessing the website. Several times brands fail to communicate the right message about their product or service and hence are unable to engage the interested audience.
A strong Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy in place can help pages rank and reach the potential customers who are actively searching for specific products. Additionally, running Pay Per Click (PPC) advertisements on Google Ads can also communicate the right information about your brands to draw the audience who have a clear intent or interest. For marketers it has to be a continuous process of follow-ups. Email marketing can be effectively used here through automated campaigns and personalized emails to connect with those visitors who may be potential leads over time.
Challenges of eCommerce Business – Final Thoughts
To overcome these eCommerce challenges, businesses should operate as modern omnichannel retailers. They should focus on turning data into insights, knowledge, and ways for market leadership. Inspiring shoppers and driving loyalty with personalization at scale can work in their favor and can help support their brand, business model, and international expansion.
In this highly competitive world, entrepreneurs need to use smart digital retail practices to address the eCommerce challenges facing online businesses with the right set of tools. Finally, all of this must be backed up by strong digital leadership, providing clarity and support with the right resources to help you become a market leader.