The eCommerce Trends Survey carried out by 2Checkout with almost 1,000 companies across the world has revealed the latest digital commerce priorities, challenges, and plans important to them as we approach the end of 2018. The participating companies span a wide spectrum of industries and sizes, yet they all report similar concerns and approaches around eCommerce.
When asked about their top priorities for eCommerce, a third of respondents (33%) indicated customer experience (CX) as their main focus point. Offering a seamless CX enables companies to stand out from their competitors and grow sales in a world where customers are often overwhelmed by too many similar offers and product choices.
Even with a fragmented ownership of digital commerce by department, with only 11% of companies having a dedicated eCommerce department, and marketing leading the pack with 24%, followed by sales at 16%, customer experience is top priority for all. Unsurprisingly, ownership by a dedicated eCommerce department places the highest importance on CX, at 45%.
Growth in new markets worldwide is the foremost priority for 66% of respondents, followed by growth in new buyer demographics (34%). The surveyed organizations want to expand their online sales in the principal target markets of North America (49%), Asia-Pacific (46%), and Western Europe (44%). Such expansions do not come without significant challenges, however, as shoppers in different locales have widely varying preferences in terms of payment methods, currencies, checkout flows, customer service, and so forth.
That likely explains why 42% of the study participants have already implemented local payment methods in their online stores and another 35% are planning to do so in the future. Furthermore, 46% of them are contemplating accepting mobile payments (such as Apple Pay/Google Pay/Alipay etc.) in the near/medium future, while almost 32% would like to also introduce credit/debit card payments in installments, which are very popular in certain regions, especially in Latin America.
Connected to their new market expansion plans, customer support is mentioned by 21% of respondents as a notable challenge, especially as they need to deal with new channels, support localization, and longer hours and raised expectations on behalf of the shoppers, as reaching live support is the biggest concern of online shoppers. To accommodate the needs of shoppers in other countries, almost 38% of eCommerce merchants are planning to implement multi-language phone support. In addition, the most visible trend in shopper support seems to be chatbots or virtual shopping assistants – 48% of respondents would like to invest in that technology at some stage.
Speaking of investments, 53% of the surveyed companies are planning to invest in targeting and personalization. While many have also already adopted video marketing (38%), mobile apps and mobile optimization will also benefit from significant investments.
Almost a third (35%) of respondents are planning to employ machine learning algorithms and tools such as upselling or cross-selling for increasing customer retention and average order value.
Conversely, the cutting-edge technologies that are most talked about today, such as augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR), do not seem to present much appeal to eCommerce merchants – with more than half of them having no plans to implement such features. The niche adoption of these technologies among customers and businesses (due to price and learning curve constraints) means that their benefits and ROI for eCommerce are considered to be only marginal for the time being.
Other top priorities for companies that sell products or services online through digital commerce are content marketing (chosen by 26% of participants as their focal) as well as brand building and brand awareness (24%).
As far as challenges go, choosing the right technology was listed as the main challenge by 29% of respondents – especially in a world where technology can play a crucial role, not only in achieving operational and cost efficiencies, but also in gaining revenue uplift and scale. Digital commerce platforms can make a big difference in how online merchants handle order management, local/regional customizations, back-office operations, support for marketing campaigns, and partner sales – to name just a few areas where a business needs to stay competitive and be market-nimble.
Finding the right partners is mentioned as the next challenge, by 26% of respondents; in a globalized world, companies cannot grow without partnering with the right providers or networks to implement their go-to-market strategies.
If your business sells online, what are your digital commerce priorities in the upcoming period?