Enhancing experience for an omnichannel future
E-commerce growth skyrocketed during the pandemic as physical stores were frequently locked down for prolonged periods. According to IMRG, which tracks e-commerce growth in the UK, the rate of growth for the entire online market was 5% pre-pandemic in 2019. A year later as the pandemic reached its peak that growth figure reached 35%, leaving some online retailers unable to cope with demand.
However that rate of growth has slowed dramatically during the pandemic, in 2022, the rate of growth of e-commerce was 17.9%. In fact, if you averaged out the rate of growth over those three years, it represents an average rate of growth of +5.7% per year, which is just a small increase on the pre-pandemic rate.
The one exception however is online clothing, which is now running at +25% of its pre-pandemic value and one of main drivers of this is down to the omnichannel experience. In fashion (and the related market of beauty), online has expanded to include not just online and mobile purchases but social shopping and “live shopping” too with a new generation of shopper being fuelled by the explosion in channels such as TikTok and Youtube. Equally new avenues such as marketplaces are growing in popularity.
Furthermore, a younger generation of consumer, the so-called Gen Z, is rediscovering a love for stores, in particular those with an experiential element, further fuelling the omnichannel movement.
In order to capitalise on this, brands and retailers need to ensure their online experience is second to none, and that it blends seamlessly with their physical presence. It is no surprise, therefore, that a recent survey of retailers by leading e-commerce platform BigCommerce found that 44% were prioritising enhancing their customer experience this year through omnichannel presence, improve shipping and customer service.
Sharon Gee, VP of Revenue Growth and GM of Omnichannel at BigCommerce, explains: “Omnichannel, holistically, has to do with, ‘How do you sell more, wherever your shoppers are?’ That means online to offline, third-party channels, wholesale, marketplace, social commerce, ads driving to D2C, in-store, pop-up shop — it means wherever you hold inventory, wherever you sell, and however you fulfill. How do you sell more everywhere in a consistent experience for the shopper?”
But exactly how should retailers priortise their investments and what does good customer experience look like? In an insightful and practical report, entitled “From Catwalk to Cart: Global Ecommerce Insights for Fashion Retailers”, BigCommerce offers invaluable advice. Here are just five of the insights you will gain from this landmark report.
Boom in BOPIS and BORIS
You may not have heard of these acronyms and they are nothing new but they should be central to any serious omnichannel player’s business. Buy Online and Pick-up in Store (otherwise known as Click & Collect) and Buy Online and Return in Store not only have the benefit of driving footfall to your store but they remove a lot of friction for consumers and drive conversions up.
Social shopping goes mainstream
Some 48% of retailers surveyed by BigCommerce said this shopping trend had the biggest impact on their business in 2022. Prioritising it is key for an omnichannel strategy. The friction of buying via channels such as TikTok and Instagram is all but gone.
Sustainability is non-negotiable
A recent BigCommerce study of 4,000 online shoppers in the UK, US, France and Italy found that the majority of consumers felt that sustainability was very important (32%) or somewhat important (52%) when deciding where to shop. Gen Z are laser focused on this with only 8.5% of them said to be indifferent on the subject. Ensuring sustainable messaging on product, packaging and delivery is front and centre of your online experience is key.
Flexible payments are a must
Some 25% of retailers surveyed by BigCommerce said flexible payments had made a positive impact to their business. In 2021 a survey of consumers carried out by BigCommerce and PayPal found that almost a third of consumers preferred to pay with digital wallets. UK consumers are amongst of the most enthusiastic, with almost 46% preferring a digital wallet. Investigating buy now, pay later and other flexible payments is also a must in order to support consumers during inflation.
Capitalising on new technologies and “Composable” commerce
The technology of the future (AI, AR and the Metaverse) is no longer in the future, it’s here now. It may seem daunting and in the past this might have felt like it necessitated a complete strategy overhaul and a revamp of your tech-stack but no more. Thanks to Composable commerce, this process becomes easier and more flexible. Composable commerce is a modular digital commerce approach — rather than a monolithic one size, fits all approach — that allows businesses to customise their tech stacks by choosing best-in-breed solutions to suit their unique business requirements.
With AI, AR and the Metaverse in their infancy but very much set to dominate the retail landscape, particularly in fashion with customised recommendations, realistic product visualisation, virtual try-ons and more, it is essential for brands and retailers of all shapes and sizes to start on their journey now with a technology approach that fits their needs and budgets.
To find out more about these major trends and to learn how leading brands such as Ted Baker, La Perla and Rent The Runway are facing the future with confidence, along with expert advice from BigCommerce, download your free report.
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