May was the month for projections, predictions, and the opening up of economies. Though we probably won't entirely understand the "new normal" until the end of this year, that's not stopping many experts in the retail industry from weighing in. With the massive increase of e-commerce sales during the pandemic lockdowns, those in the industry are trying new ways to keep consumers buying online, as brick-and-mortar expand openings and business hours. Though the last month was a bit sleepier than we expected, we are here to let you know what all the experts are saying about what is to come.
Bad Returns Are Bad for Business
As e-commerce continues to grow, so does the need to return purchased goods. Returns, whether through brick-and-mortar or e-commerce, are going to happen no matter what. The problem is when customers have terrible return experiences, causing them never to come back.
The Fintech Times recently reported that "83% of online shoppers admit to getting frustrated by retailers which have an inefficient returns process, while 82% agree that retailers, in general, need to improve their returns capabilities." On top of that, Klarna found that 84% of online shoppers they interviewed would never return to a retailer after a bad return experience.
Though a "bad return experience" might be different for every customer, we can say for sure the following falls on that list:
- The customer feels they have to do all the work;
- The customer is given return instructions different than listed in the company's return policy;
- The company does not accept returns at all;
Understanding that product returns are necessary and listening to customers' feedback are the best ways to ensure they continue purchasing your products.
Google Continues the E-commerce Push
Earlier this year, Google made a big move when it announced that it will no longer be a marketplace and will directly drive traffic to individual e-retailers. Another way that Google is moving forward with helping businesses is their recent partnership with Shopify. Business Insider reported Google will partner with e-commerce platform Shopify to let sellers show their products across Google's platforms.
Though we don't know the exact plan yet, Google announced in April that they would allow e-commerce businesses to post their products on Google for free, so we can assume Google's goals will stay the same. Google is planning on focusing on e-commerce, and according to Forbes, they are playing to win. We are looking forward to learning more about Google's push to helping e-commerce stores.
How to Move Forward with a Cookieless Future
Cookies (no, not the yummy baked goods) are computer text files saved from websites that store personal information for your visiting site. Have you ever looked at a pair of shoes on a website and then received an ad for those exact pair of shoes a few days later? That's made possible by cookies. Cookies are a great way to keep customers online and buying from their favorite brands. They have been essential for consumer-direct marketing efforts, meaning marketers and businesses are trying to find a way to move forward without them.
Companies like Facebook and Google have built their entire business using customer data to target the specific demands to sell ads. Customers are growing increasingly concerned about their shared data, which means companies need to adapt to ensure their shoppers feel comfortable spending money with them. So, how will e-commerce stores adjust marketing strategies in the future?
Cookies will be gone by 2022, so you need to start collecting data from your target market now to use the information in the future. Data collection and analysis from your target market is the best way to move forward. The Search Engine Journal has a great article explaining other tips and tricks on moving forward without cookies.
Though many e-commerce businesses rely heavily on cookies to find new clients and keep existing clients, there are many ways to get customers without cookies. With almost every social media platform investing time and money on their social commerce platform, social commerce is taking off. On top of that, experts say that text message marketing is a great way to engage customers. (Practical commerce has a fantastic piece about how to engage consumers and market using text messages.) If you're not already using social commerce and text message marketing, then you're most likely leaving money on the table.
What's Next for E-commerce
Isn't that just the most loaded question there is right now? Analysts, specialists, and business owners alike are trying to gauge what will happen as the economy continues to open back up. We feel that while e-commerce is still growing, it will most likely slow compared to the pandemic boom. Even with an initial slow down, businesses can, and should, continue to grow their new customer base.
With the amount of time, money, and effort that companies have put into it, e-commerce isn't going anywhere, which means businesses need to continue investing and adjusting their infrastructures. The Harvard Business Review wrote an extensive interview about the future of e-commerce and how delivery is the future to e-commerce success. They reported that "The Index found that only one in five (21%) U.S. consumers say they are forgiving retailers and brands for service disruptions due to Covid-19." Essentially, the pandemic is no longer an excuse to be relaxed on shipping. Consumers lose faith in brands with poor delivery.
To keep up with growth, you will need to find ways to ensure supply chain success. This could mean getting a Warehouse Management System (WMS), Order Management System (OMS), or a Shipping Solution (like DesktopShipper). Though we aren't 100% sure what the future holds, consumers are clear that they want great shipping!
As you can tell, May was the month of "wait and see." At the same time, there was plenty of movement with economies continuing to open and states having goals to be fully open by specific dates. Multiple studies have been done throughout the years that prove that consumers spend more when the weather starts to warm up, causing overall spending to increase this summer. Only time will determine where consumers will be spending money. Don't worry; we'll be ready to report those results when we know!