What’s the e-commerce landscape like in 2019 and what does it mean for your business?
- Online retail sales are growing annually but consumers still make most of their retail purchases in the real world;
- The online subscription plan economy is growing at a very rapid pace with over 15% of online shoppers having subscribed to such services in 2018 alone;
- Hybrid e-commerce sales models that enable consumers to browse and purchase online AND offline is key for a company’s maximum impact and revenue.
Let’s start with some key data:
According to The CMO Survey, online sales account for 12.2% of all company sales made in 2018. Comparatively, 2017 scored 11.8% and 2016 was 10.3%.
This data shows that more customers are shopping online. We’ve all seen the rapid growth of Amazon from a humble online bookstore into a barely recognizable retail behemoth that claimed 49% of all e-commerce sales in the US in 2018. Trailing behind, eBay, Apple, Walmart and Home Depot split a modest 15.7%. These are the top 5 most popular e-commerce sites on the internet today.
This upward trend for online sales clearly shows growth, but one cannot ignore the power of human interaction. Physical retail just won’t die that easily.
The CMO Survey also reports that companies plan to spend 12% more on digital marketing in 2019 than the previous year. More efforts are put into place to target people like you and me via the internet. Big firms are noticing the change and are taking action in order to leverage it.
Other new(ish) business models that have recently shaken the marketplace include monthly subscription plans for clothing, pre-prepared meals, groceries, pet food, pet toys and more (so, so much more) that once are ordered online get delivered at your doorstep. In the media streaming world, Netflix is leading the way with the most monthly subscribers, followed by Prime Video and Hulu. Monthly subscriptions for software licensing has also become the norm since Adobe launched Adobe Cloud in 2011, forcing business clients to adopt to this new payment model, Adobe being the undefeated leader in the creative software industry.
The subscription economy has been growing at a rate of 100% per year for the last five years, becoming a cornerstone of the e-commerce market. A McKinsey & Company survey reports that 15% of online shoppers in 2018 have subscripted to at least one online subscription last year.
If you’ve managed to escape the only subscription economy frenzy, I admire you. I myself pay monthly for services such as to Netflix, Adobe, SlingTV and Audible (to name only a few). I’m also an Amazon Prime member and shell out $119 annually to renew my member privileges – an all too convenient service that I use more often than I should.
So, a lot of data just got dumped onto your lap. Great.
But what does it mean for your company and its online reach?
Judging by the current hybrid market in which consumers increasingly shop online but still make most of their purchases face to face, it’s important that your products and/or services be both accessible through online AND offline channels. This means products sold online should be readily and easily available for purchase, and services that cannot be purchased online (complex services or custom orders) should still be prominently featured alongside clear calls to action. Simply put, make getting a hold of your sales team an easy and obvious process. This can be by using a user-friendly contact form, a prominent phone number and call tracking, or an invitation for users to join your mailing list – with immediate follow-up.
Your e-commerce and your calls to action should absolutely be optimized for desktop, tablet AND smartphone users. Make sure your website has Google Analytics or a similar tracking service in order to keep count of how many visitors land on your site and which device they use. With this data in hand, you can tailor calls to action (buttons, banners or even obnoxious but surprisingly efficacious pop-ups if that’s your thing) for the most relevant user interfaces.
Keeping a close eye on the data also enables you to test different lead capture methods, eliminating calls to action that produce little results and developing further the ones that actually work.
Lastly, if you offer online monthly subscriptions, you should know that 55% of all subscriptions in 2018 were curation-based, meaning customers value personalized and high-quality experiences. If you can develop a sales model and an e-commerce that enables users to customize their subscription, you’re on the right track and will likely experience higher sales as a result.
The bottom line is, be ready and responsive to today’s online economy. When building an online platform to sell your products or services, think about the consumers that will buy online and those who choose to buy in person (or by email or phone), if applicable. Craft elegant, simple and efficient solutions that allow the user to experience purchasing, paying and getting the item delivered to at their door in as little steps as possible. Be available and keep track of your data – analysis and adaptability can seem daunting but it pays off.