E-commerce now takes up 19.6% of retail sales worldwide and is forecasted to take up a quarter of all global retail sales by 2025. E-commerce emerged as the saving grace to navigate the pandemic as well the key for resilience and sustained growth in the future. Businesses are benefiting tremendously from onboarding the digital market through myriad benefits like access to worldwide trade, ample scope for collaboration and the unparalleled opportunity to build authentic personal relationships with customers. Like all things new, e-commerce has a learning curve. Plugging into digital markets is fraught with challenges of roping in the right infrastructure, upskilling talent, distinguishing from competition, staying profitable, managing stock and inventory loads, ensuring smooth returns, refunds and fulfilment, as well as scaling capacities to fulfil consumers’ omnichannel, 24x7 expectations. Businesses could gain competitive advantage by adapting long-term, scalable strategies from the onset and not lose too much time in trial and error. The four pillars that can hoist your growth in e-commerce are Omnichannel Fulfilment Logistics, Consistent Customer Journey, Demand Generation and of course a robust and agile Technology Stack. Let us explore each in some detail.
Four focus-areas for breakthrough growth in e-commerce
Here are some pertinent strategies to ensure you make the most out of your e-commerce presence.
Fulfilment Logistics for a truly Omnichannel Capability
Customers are increasingly expecting flexible pick-up and delivery along with a hyper-personalized experience all along the customer journey. Enabling a comprehensive logistics engine that amalgamates digital and physical nodes like stores, warehouses, distribution centers as well as 3rd party logistics with a bird’s eye view on inventory is non-negotiable for e-commerce success. Scalable Omnichannel capabilities, robust order fulfilment in addition to seamless customer experience calls for combined expertise in ‘Unified Order Management’ entailing technology & retail business understanding. Effective execution requires robust governance and strong project management, while still allowing flexibility and change management, to deliver on time & ensure efficient implementation.
Flawless Customer Experience that entices and delights
Retaining customers is not just about a one-time selling transaction, but about adding value at every customer touch-point from discovery to decision, purchase, service and afterwards, calling for designing a consistent Customer Journey that delights, intuitively gauges customer preferences and fulfills customer needs. For instance, if the customer discovered your ad on Facebook and then landed on your e-commerce portal – your storefront must further inform and entice, and make sure that customer demands are pro-actively satisfied. Needless to say, the storefront must be designed to be responsive and ensure a flawless mobile-shopping experience. Exhaustive A to B testing is a must. Recreating the in-store experience in the e-commerce storefront can benefit from interactive features like bot-assisted product discovery and live customer service chat. Businesses require a single center of command that offers 360° view and granular control over marketing, storefront, order orchestration, fulfilment, customer support and aftersales service.
Demand Generation: Go where your customer is
Catering to the experience economy and ensuring that customer interactions are empathetic, relevant and personalized calls for integrated CRM and omnichannel capabilities. Digital ads and sponsored content must be strategically placed where potential customers are likely to find them and lead them to your e-commerce store. Automated AI-driven campaigns with predictive metrics ensure that costs are optimized and results assured. Further, ensure that your strategy is holistic and fuses insights from product, operations, marketing and sales teams to distinguish from competition and not get caught up in price-wars.
Agile & robust Technology Stack
Well thought-out technology is the bedrock of all things digital, and ensuring sustainable ROI requires Inventory Visibility across all channels and atomic control on the entire order orchestration lifecycle. Make sure the technology solutions you choose also have provision for seamless third-party integrations and are scalable to accommodate your growth. The ideal solution should be pre-integrated with plug and play e-commerce platforms, logistics providers and ERP Applications, essentially automating the bulk of supply-chain operations. The solution should also support return management, warehouse management, peak-load handling and predictive analytics for anomaly detection, demand forecasting and route optimization. Data security must not be overlooked and financial accounting should be real-time - informing and driving profits. The solutions must work in tandem and allow for easy tweaks and upgrades.
In summary, businesses aiming at unleashing the full potential of large e-commerce must always prioritize the need to stay agile while aiming at continuous growth. This calls for ever-improving customer focus, resilience and readiness towards change and disruption. Game changing technology can be a dead-end unless each technical capacity synergistically communicates and adapts with others. The sheer scale and scope of requisites further call for built-in AI and automation to deliver unstoppable momentum.