Many brands saw 2017 as a difficult year as e-commerce continued to gain traction and sales consistently shifted from stores to e-commerce platforms. 2018 is also predicted to have certain hurdles for e-commerce managers.
Five main concerns summarized by e-commerce managers for 2018
The changing consumer behavior is altering the landscape of retail and brands need to adapt and capitalize on these changes. Even if e-commerce is expanding healthily, many brands are still struggling to overcome hurdles. Following are the main obstacles and concerns that e-commerce managers foresee for this year.
Choosing between brand sites and marketplaces is a dilemma
As an increasing number of consumers are shifting towards e-commerce and ditching in-store purchases, brands are finding it difficult to make a key decision: how to choose between creating or developing their own brand site and opting for an already established marketplace such as Amazon?
To put the maximum level of chance on their side and not to take any unnecessary risk, e-commerce managers are opting for both instead of choosing one in particular. They are simultaneously developing their online presence through their brand site while making products readily available on marketplaces to reach a maximum number of clients and to offer the latter the freedom of choice from choosing any platform they feel comfortable with. Nonetheless, playing safe does not seem to pay off well. According to e-commerce managers, this two-pronged approach is not reflecting positive statistics and that performance needs to be enhanced at all cost.
It is a puzzle to decide the budget allocation for e-commerce
Offering e-commerce services to consumers do not come free of cost. This cost implication poses another main concern for most brands. This year, they say they will still be determining what percentage of their budget they should allocate to keep their e-commerce operations functional and profitable. Up to now, brands have not been able to measure exactly this ‘cost to serve’; most brands are still oscillating, unable to determine exact differences between logistics costs for e-commerce and those for store retail.
Furthermore, a good number of e-commerce managers simply are not in a position to measure the costs of investing in an existing marketplace. As a result, pricing delivery costs and calculating the minimum basket size for free delivery remains a puzzle for them.
Digital channel strategies still pose a problem for e-commerce managers
E-commerce managers still haven’t mastered how to use digital channels effectively. While some feel they should lay emphasis on driving awareness and that consumers should be encouraged to buy through their preferred channel. Others consider that it is equally crucial to driving traffic to the brand site as well to be able to gauge consumer interest in their products. Nonetheless, all agree that influencers have become an indispensable part of their marketing strategy. This year, e-commerce managers should dedicate more time to managing their influencer portfolio and see exactly how influencers can help them in their marketing strategy.
Brands have much difficulty in managing online to offline consumer experience
It is a fact that the lines between digital and physical are blurring. Consumers demand a seamless purchasing experience, and they expect same not only on multiple devices but also from online to offline (O2O). Managing this offline to online seamless experience is not an easy task for brands. The issue starts with the very fact that brands have immense difficulty in identifying online consumers in-store. Next, they find it problematic to offer a similar experience to consumers both online and offline. Another hurdle they wish to erase this year is media spend to offline conversions.
Brands are failing to obtain adequate management support
If brands are investing in e-commerce, they are, however, failing to obtain the necessary management support for their efforts. According to some e-commerce managers, the management on board still needs to be convinced that promotions and loyalty programmes do have the potential to generate Return on Investment (ROI). Others affirm that the management is failing to grasp that brands need to be multipronged to reach the maximum number of consumers, that is, invest in marketplaces, brand sites as well as in O2O.
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