Did you ever imagine a time when you would purchase toilet paper online? The web is now 25 years old, and e-commerce success is now a part of our everyday lives. With purchases like toilet paper being made online, it is no wonder why U.S. e-commerce has experienced double-digit growth in the first quarter of 2014. Forrester Research projects that by the year 2017, e-commerce will comprise 10% of all retail purchases in the nation.
$260 billion in sales is an impressive number. Regardless of your industry, it is a number that you would like your corporation to explore, right? This number represents the amount of money shoppers spent online in 2013, a 13.4% increase from 2012. With so much growth and opportunity, e-commerce is evolving into a highly competitive sector in both the B2C and B2B sector. While growth is great for business, it does not always translate directly to success. In order to leverage the e-commerce success, growth trend and ensure scalable growth for your company, there are four key elements that should be understood and applied.
1.) Understand and Monitor Customer Expectations: E-commerce is one of the most susceptible industries to negative customer reactions based on service and experience. Customers will abandon orders and/or change providers based on price and delivery options. In fact, an Acquity Group survey found that over 85% of purchasers will switch suppliers for a lower cost option. The ability to track and provide the price and delivery options sought by online buyers will position your online enterprise for success.
2.) Multichannel Support: If you are in the e-commerce business, it is a critical to offer multiple support channels for the customer. Just in the last two years, customers have shifted their shopping habits from traditional channels to emerging technologies, and they are expecting companies to do the same. A recent study by Aberdeen, indicates only 12% of customer service requests originated in social media in 2012. However, organizations expect this number to grow to 22% in the next twelve months. According to John R. Rymer at Forrester Research: “Digital touchpoints cannot be islands as customers expect a unified, consistent experience across the several touchpoints used when engaging with your firm.” An experienced 3PL partner who understands the significance of transitioning to the multi-channel approach is a key ingredient to growing your e-commerce business.
3.) Specialize: Focusing your products and services around a specific or specialized industry will allow you to capitalize in that niche. This can enable you to stand out from the competition and be known as a destination for a precise need. Outsourcing services that are not core to your business, like fulfillment and logistics, will free up capital and resources.
4.) Communicate: With a virtual storefront and an atmosphere where you are never face-to-face with your customers, communication takes on a whole new meaning and level of importance. Customer-facing communication needs to focus on the navigation of your site. People should easily be able to find what they are seeking. A fluid and open stream of communication with your 3PL partner is crucial to your e-commerce success. The right 3PL will provide your company with transparency and visibility. This type of 3PL partner provides you with the tools and data needed to adapt to any changes.
Toilet paper may not be your specialty, but undoubtedly your company has products that can contribute to the $260 billion in online sales. A third party logistics partner can be a tremendous resource for an e-commerce company by offering specialized processes, management of infrastructure, and industry expertise.