The e-commerce industry is booming. In 2019, Australians spent $28.6 billion on online purchases, which accounts for almost 9% of the total retail sales of that year. Statistics show that 80.8% of Australians have done online shopping; it’s predicted that by 2021, it will reach over 85%, or around 22 million Australians.
But how do we explain why e-commerce is growing so fast? After all, online shopping was actually invented in 1979, so what’s to blame for this sudden change in consumer trends in 2020? Many chalk it up to the current situation in the world creating this “new normal” where it’s much safer to order products online and have it delivered to your doorstep instead of going out to physical stores.
While that can be one reason for the uptick, it’s not the main reason. If that were the main reason, then businesses would only look at online stores as a temporary solution rather than a long-term means to drive revenue. There are, in fact, several reasons why there’s an increase in e-commerce – and these reasons prove why e-commerce is here for the long-run and may take over traditional shopping in the future.
More Online Stores Are Becoming Mobile-Friendly
There are almost 17 million smartphone users in Australia. This means that instead of having to boot up a computer or a laptop, a person’s access to the internet is right at their fingertips. Originally, online shopping was a long process that didn’t really give it an edge over traditional shopping.
Today, however, given that over half of the world’s population uses smartphones to access the internet and that mobile users can be very impatient with slow non-mobile friendly websites, web developers for platforms like Shopify have to make sure that online stores become mobile-friendly. This can mean creating a website layout that can still be convenient when viewed on mobile, or it can mean creating an app for convenience, brand recognition, and customer loyalty.
Thanks to this, consumers can now make purchases with a few taps. Hence the increased number of online shoppers.
Social Media Integration
With the help of social media marketing and SMO, social media has become a very powerful marketing tool in reaching out to your target market. With almost 8 in 10 Australians on social media, you have a large chance of reaching out to potential customers. Social media can reach out to potential and current customers, share products or services, or promote the brand.
Now let’s look at two scenarios. For the first one, let’s say you don’t have an online store but you have a strong social media presence. You announce on social media that your business is having a sale or giving away freebies. Potential customers and loyal customers would have to go out, travel to your store, and purchase your product. There’s a lot of time between your announcement and them paying for your product – time that could allow them to change their mind or decide that it’s not worth the effort traveling.
Now, look at it this way if you have an online store and a social media platform. You announce your sale or giveaway and post a link to your online store. Without leaving their seat, a person can go on your online store, browse, and purchase your product while taking advantage of your discount. It’s convenient for them, which makes it easier to drive revenue from your social media announcements.
Convenience & Accessibility
Gone are the days when people would rush to stores before closing times. With e-commerce, you can shop 24/7 regardless of time, holidays, or whether at the comfort of your own home. And with the state of logistics now improved that you can receive your deliveries as early as the same day you purchased them.
Thanks to online shopping, it’s become easier for customers to compare products, read up on reviews before making a purchase, and avoid large crowds, getting caught in traffic, or facing awkward social interactions when purchasing certain items. It’s also much easier to find a certain item rather than going to a store only to find out they’re sold out or don’t have a specific item you want.
That’s not to say, however, that all online stores become successful because of the large demand. One of the best ways to take advantage of the booming industry is to use a digital marketing strategy for e-commerce
Lower Prices on Products
You might be surprised to know that many online stores provide better prices for most products compared to physical stores. This is because traditional brick-and-mortar stores have certain costs associated with traditional businesses: rent, electricity, employee payroll, fixtures, and other costs of running a physical store.
In comparison, online stores have a smaller operational expense. Instead of paying for a store location, retailers only need a warehouse or space that can allow them to store their products. Communication can be streamlined, and customer service employees used to communicate with customers can be outsourced. Because of these savings, sellers can also reduce the prices of their products because its operating expenses do not require higher prices on products to offset the costs.
More Forms of Mobile Payment
The rise of online shopping can be attributed to the fact that there are now more ways to pay for online shopping purchases. Originally, people could only pay with debit or credit cards (which require a bank account not many are financially capable of opening or an acceptable credit score) or with bank transfers (which were, prior to banking apps, somewhat inconvenient). Aside from the fact that not a lot of people have them, those who do felt wary about giving their credit card information to online stores.
Today, there are plenty of ways people can pay. Aside from the traditional methods of payment mentioned above, consumers can also use digital wallets (e.g. Venmo, PayPal, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Lemon Wallet), QR Code Payments, mobile payments, SMS payments, prepaid cards, and more.
For those who are very wary against putting their credit card information on anything digital, many online stores and couriers now have the option of paying cash on delivery, so that shoppers have the option of paying for their purchase only when they receive their package.
Consumer trends are changing, and it appears technology and the digital revolution is changing the way people make purchases. It’s highly unlikely that we will completely give up traditional brick-and-mortar stores in the near future.
But what is certain is that online shopping is here to stay. If you want to take advantage of this growing trend, however, take note that it’s not enough to just build an online store. Marketing an online shop and making sure your existing and potential customers know about it is different from marketing a physical store – and this is where SEO for e-commerce comes in.