Nowadays buying anything you want is easier than ever before: just go online and order it with a few clicks. It’s difficult to even imagine that just a decade ago physical stores were the only possible place to make purchases. Today, more and more sellers want to reach their customers online. It’s expected that e-commerce businesses will anticipate a 265% growth rate — from $1.3 trillion in 2014 to $4.9 trillion in 2021.
Obviously that rapidly growing market constantly attracts new players. But a common mistake held by most beginners is that e-commerce is an “easy” way to achieve success in business. There are plenty of concerns one should be aware of when starting an e-commerce business, especially an international one. How sales could be increased? What range of products to sell and in what niche? What are the prominent behavior features of modern online buyers? Let’s have a closer look at these and many other questions and current trends.
Recommended For You: Get Free 1000 + Marketing Tools and WP Themes
CUSTOMERS SHOPPING BEHAVIOUR
Another important thing should be considered is a generation gap in online buying. Of course, young consumers buy more online than their parents. They have grown up with digital technologies and have fewer hesitations while making online purchases. In some Eastern European countries, the percentage of young consumers who often buy online has more than doubled in just three years.
It should be taken into account that as they get older this gap will gradually disappear. This means nothing but a further increase in e-commerce customers’ number and consequently growth in demand that should be satisfied. The online commerce sellers who have a strategy to meet these changes will be the winners of tomorrow.
But it’s not relevant to all countries. For example, in such e-commerce giants like UK and Germany growth of new consumers will not be so steep: the majority is already buying online. However, it doesn’t mean that European markets with highly developed e-commerce sectors will not face extension. It will happen mainly because consumers will move more their consumption to the internet: the range of products purchased will expand. The existence of a stable consumer base in some countries means that buyers are prepared to do a great deal of shopping online and it’s also a great opportunity for e-commerce businesses.
According to data provided by Eurostat, biggest growth in EU28 is among individuals aged 20 to 24: the % of individuals having last purchased online in the last 3 months among internet users grew by 25% between 2013 & 2017, going from 51% to 64%, where for all other individuals, this increase was only 14%.
At the same time, the latest research of the USA e-commerce market shows that Gen Z (18–21 years old) spends twice or even triple more on shopping on social channels than any other average consumer(Instagram, Snapchat). Gen Z is moving toward complete comfort with e-commerce — engaging with more ads, buying on newer platforms, spending more discretionary income and ultimately putting their money where a brand’s personality is. Gen X (40–55 years old) has Facebook shopping preferences. Millennials (22–37 years old) have grown accustomed to speed, convenience, and personalized online experience. However, Gen Z has never known shopping without these.
For e-commerce, the most important thing is the consumers’ trust. You should be aware of the main expectations and fears that customers can feel. According to the Eurostat survey the main reasons for not buying online are as follows:
- prefer to shop in person, like to see a product, loyalty to shops or force of habit
- payment security or privacy concerns
- concerns about the return policy, compliant/redress concerns
- delivery of goods is a problem.
Modern shopping expectations and new habits of consumers create new e-commerce trends.
1) Delivery Expectations.
Clearly everyone wants to get parcel as soon as possible. Normally, three to five days from the day of order is treated as an acceptable time of delivery. But delivery expectations extremely vary in European countries. The strictest consumers are in Poland as they wish the shortest possible delivery time, while Scandinavians are less demanding. Numerous research shows that a distinct correlation exists between population density and delivery expectations: a high population density makes it easier to develop logistics network and people in these areas get used to fast delivery, while Nordic, for example, are somehow more distant geographically and consumers here are ready to wait for 1–2 days longer.
Another important point for consumers is the delivery model. In the UK, Italy, Belgium, and Netherlands the most popular way is home delivery. While in France and Scandinavian countries consumers prefer to collect their orders by themselves from a distribution point. The least popular methods are either collecting it from a parcel machine (however this way is widespread in Poland) or delivery to a workplace.
Also, there are some other delivery options that couldn’t be ignored by online stores:
- The ability to change the time of delivery. This option is highly important in such countries as Poland ( for 71% of respondents), Spain (67%), Italy (59%) and France (52%).
- The ability to pay for faster delivery. Mostly in the UK and France consumers are ready to pay extra money in order to get their purchase faster.
Recommended For You: 13 FREE Domain Hosting Providers and Many More
2) The Simplicity of the Return Process
It is important to offer guarantees to the customers: how will you recover your money, who will take care of the recovery of the item, will e-commerce business compensate you in any way? If the company is not able to satisfactorily answer these questions, probably the purchase decision will never occur.
For example, Amazon offers a free and reliable return process for most of its products. The prospect of giving your customers the option to return products totally free of charge can be a scary one. But making this offer immediately builds trust between you and prospective buyers. It shows that you’re confident in your products.
Top 5 most commonly returned product categories:
- Clothing and footwear
- Home electronics
- Car accessories
- Children’s items
- Home furnishing
Nearly 40% of online shoppers today are buying to try, with the intention of keeping their favorite item and returning the rest. This trend, called “bracketing,” is most common among Millennials, high-income and female shoppers. This represents a significant opportunity for retailers to transform returns into an experience catered toward the consumer’s needs. It also signals that returns are not the end of the customer relationship, and can drive both loyalty and new revenue. In 2017, Narvar, a post-purchase experience platform found that of the 60% of online shoppers that make at least one return or exchange per year, 95% will make another purchase if the return experience was easy for them. This is referred to as the “service recovery paradox.” Giving customers hassle when they are trying to return something is more likely to deter them from shopping with you again, rather than deter them from the return.
3) Clarity and Simplicity of the Online Shop
Online shopping doesn’t give you an opportunity to examine the product physically. However, e-commerce businesses should be keen to give to the potential buyer as much detail as possible. Good, clear information and pictures of the product are extra important. Users are more likely to purchase a product if they know how to use it or know that it works for others. This often ends up meaning that e-commerce businesses need to provide additional information beyond product descriptions.
According to BigCommerce, 46% of consumers want product comparisons from e-commerce sites and 42% of customers want more testimonials from e-commerce sites. Along those same lines, 69% of online shoppers want more reviews from e-commerce sites. In fact, 77% of customers read product reviews before making a purchase.
You must have well-defined steps particularly when a sales funnel is involved. Visitors tend to wander and lose track of where they are, so to prevent that, you need to make it perfectly clear where they need to go.
One of the greatest design techniques out there is underutilized in web design, it’s called, white space. White space is basically the space around something in a design that is devoid of anything other than color. It is used to focus the viewer’s attention toward an object on the page. Using white space on your product page helps the visitor focus on what is important and makes the path through the sales funnel much easier.
A complicated checkout process causes anxiety and often results in shopping cart abandonment. Design your checkout process for ultimate simplicity, and conversions will surely increase. Here’s how Amazon does it:
- Prominent add-to-cart buttons
- A one-click shopping process
- Keeping items in the cart so you can resume the transaction anytime you visit the site.
You can also help the process with a checkout progress bar and clear buttons indicating when it’s time to move to the next step.
Keep checkout processes short and more people will complete purchases.
If your e-commerce site has multiple versions for different regions, then you can include language options to let users switch between different languages/regions.
4) Prices & Payment Options
Customers seek not only for the lowest prices but for a clear indication of what the total price will be. The clear understanding of the product price and costs of freight or any other fees are crucial. There’s nothing worse than getting to the checkout cart and realizing that the cost of shipping is higher than the cost of the item. According to research from GetElastic, 41% of online shoppers abandon the shopping cart because of hidden charges. Clarity and honesty are what consumers expect from you.
Offering the lowest price is not always the key to success, as quality might be more important for consumers. Sometimes the cheapest products just don’t sell, because there’s a perception that there must be something wrong with it if the price seems too good to be true. Many consumers are really price-conscious. Insecurity about the value of the purchase is a major sticking point for a lot of people. If you want to keep them on your site, the answer is to provide coupons and discounts or to price-match.
The average rate of shopping cart abandonment — people who expressed a clear intent to buy and then didn’t — is around 70%. If your checkout process puts barriers in the way of making a purchase, the likelihood that you’ll lose sales because of it is high.
E-сommerce businesses have a number of online payment methods to consider, each promising to provide an intuitive and secure checkout experience.
PayPal - It’s one of the most widely-used payment gateways that accepts both credit card or debit card payments. It’s free to use for buyers. However, store owners will have to pay a simple transaction fee of “3.4% + $0.30 USD”, when using PayPal for credit card payments. The best part is that you only need to pay after making a sale. This payment gateway does not require any setup fees, gateway fees, or monthly fees. The service boasts that it’s currently used by over 17 million e-commerce businesses and that customers who use PayPal to check out convert at 82% higher rates than with other payment options.
Amazon Pay - Amazon is undoubtedly one of the most popular sites across the whole web, and one that almost all your customers will have accounts with already. Amazon’s payment method works well on mobile devices, offering a hassle-free experience where it matters the most.
Google Pay - Google now offers its own online payment method, Google Pay. Google says hundreds of millions of their users already have card information saved to their Google accounts, which means providing a Google Pay option offers added convenience for a significant number of people.
American Express - It has one of the highest satisfaction rates in the industry and tends to target a higher-income consumer than other credit card companies. The catch, as you might expect, is that the option costs more than most of your other choices. And they have a setup fee on top of that number which starts at $99. If you think you’ll have enough high-value customers likely to see a benefit in using the AmEx gateway to check out, the cost may be worth it though.
Apple Pay - For people who use Apple devices — and that’s more than 64% of people in the U.S. — Apple Pay works as a mobile wallet and a one-click payment option on websites that accept it. For mobile users, customers can even check out with Apple Pay by using their touch identification — it doesn’t get much easier than that. Like Google, Apple’s payment gateway is completely free for both merchants and customers.
Stripe - Stripe provides a feature-rich payment processing platform that makes it easy to accept payments from a range of sources (credit cards, digital wallets, ACH transfers, and different currencies). They also provide a number of options for the checkout process.
Visa Checkout - Like the payment gateway from American Express, Visa Checkout makes it extra easy for all Visa cardholders to check out on your website without having to fill in all their payment information. There are over 2 million people enrolled in Visa Checkout, so you’d be making the checkout process easier for a significant portion of your audience. Visa’s data shows that offering Visa Checkout can increase conversions by 42%. The payment option includes advanced security features and easy setup options.
Masterpass - Mastercard’s Masterpass payment option is similar to those offered by American Express and Visa. It makes it easy for any Mastercard holders to quickly and easily check out from your website.
Also, you need to take into account how your potential customers pay in various locations. Here is a list of popular payment gateways used by e-commerce locations to show how customers with access to these platforms can pay.
US — Top Payment Gateways
UK — Top Payment Gateways
- Amazon Pay
Canada — Top Payment Gateways
- Chase Paymentech
- Moneris Solutions
Credit cards still dominate as the primary payment method for larger online purchases. However, when breaking down payment options by generation, we see mobile wallets taking off for younger generations. Mobile wallets are used twice as often by Millennials (22–37 years old) and Gen Z (38–53) than Gen X or Baby Boomers. Financing options like Klarna, AfterPay, and PayPal Credit are gaining more and more online steam. Gen Z is increasingly ready to use financing options (buy now, pay later). Baby Boomers are the only generation that has more than 50% report not wanting to use online financing (70.6%).
When it comes to payment methods speed, simplicity and convenience are of prime importance.
Also, the possibility to pay with cryptocurrency has to be taken into account. Every day more and more e-commerce businesses choose to provide an opportunity to pay for goods, services or tickets with cryptocurrencies. But the adoption of this payment method is still quite difficult for most people. The future progression of Blockchain will have to be followed and the true potential of cryptocurrencies will be revealed in the next five years.
The buying process in e-commerce contains only a customer and a computer (or other devices). Some people need the presence of salesperson to help them with choice and their queries. For example, most online shops have live chat-plug in and encourage their online visitors to talk. In addition, a lot of customer queries and problems can be addressed through a comprehensive FAQ and the help guide.
Another trend that is already revolutionizing e-commerce is using chatbots. Сhatbot is a personal way to connect with shoppers by providing an interactive experience.
There are a few different types of chatbots for e-commerce, but most cover the same functions:
- Help customers find the products they are looking for without searching or browsing.
- Guide customers through different products and make recommendations based on customer actions. They will be able to get information on the products, request images, and even prices by sending simple messages on the apps.
- Manage the payment process, as well as capture shipping information, billing, and customer preferences.
- Follow-up with customers to see if they enjoyed your product, offer additional products, or ask for product reviews. They will provide more human-like experience by providing answers tailored to the customer’s needs.
Some chatbots are general and focus on performing simple functions rather than have driven conversations. Intelligent bots use natural language processing to respond to user queries. These bots are “smart” and reply to customers with the most reasonable answer. They even recognize patterns in user queries so they can respond with the best answer possible.
Also integrating your online stores with voice search is essential in 2019. Over 20 percent of the people are already using voice search for most of their online searches and queries. This number is predicted to reach 50 percent by 2020. In fact, it is estimated that by 2020, voice commerce will generate a total of $40 billion in sales in the U.S. alone. And Amazon already activated its voice purchasing in 2016.
6) Personalization & Localization
There are a lot of ways to segment in e-commerce (age, interests, gender, and so on) so use that data to only send relevant messages to your audience instead of sending the same message to everyone (as most e-commerce do right now). Personalization is the key to success of online shops. AI-powered software can gather historical data about the purchases and help sales teams drive conclusions for increasing their sales. Artificial intelligence has 3 major elements: Data Mining, NLP (natural language processing), and ML.
Data mining is a form of business intelligence and data analysis. It is the process of analyzing data to draw useful conclusions or predictions from it. It’s a technique frequently adopted by large-scale e-commerce businesses to aid with marketing and product development.
Machine learning can improve e-commerce search results every time a customer shops on the website, taking into account personal preferences and purchase history. For example, Amazon uses machine learning to drive product recommendations. They use a combination of Collaborative Filtering and Next-in-Sequence models to make predictions on goods an individual consumer may need next. Amazon possesses a massive database of consumer purchase behavior to power its predictions.
Instead of using traditional search methods like keyword matching, machine learning can generate a search ranking based on relevance for that particular user.
So personalization is the practice of creating a personal experience for each customer through tailored recommendations based on data such as search queries, browsing behavior, purchase history, and geolocation. One of the major benefits of personalization is that it can help increase e-commerce businesses’ profits by 15%. This is partly because 75% of customers are most likely to buy from a retailer that recognizes them by name and recommends products based on previous purchases. After implementing personalization, 93% of companies see a rise in conversational rates.
Localization is a type of personalization where content is specifically altered to a customer’s IP address. A study by Common Sense Advisory found that 75% of people want to buy products in their native language and 92.2% prefer to shop and make purchases on sites that price in their local currency.
We can make a conclusion that artificial intelligence (AI) tools enable an e-commerce website to recommend products uniquely suited to shoppers and enable people to search for products using conversational language or images, as though they were interacting with a person.
7) Activist consumers: the rise of ethical e-commerce
The new trend that becomes more distinct with time flowing is consumers’ concerns about the environment. More often customers wonder how and where is this product made, how far has this been shipped, did they really need to use such a big box, etc.?
Research has shown people care where their products come from and how they are made. More than half of the shoppers in the UK said they feel better when they buy products that are sustainably produced and 3 out of 5 individuals surveyed would purchase an environmentally conscious product. Customers are going so far as to use apps that rank companies based on sustainability, such as the Good On You app, to help them make better buying choices.
It also refers to digital purchases and the “real or hidden” impacts and cost of e-commerce. Brands and merchants, big and small are using digital to appeal to consumers’ values — and consumers are increasingly guided by their values and ethics when making purchasing decisions.
All the above trends have one thing in common: they make the shopping experience easier for consumers. Online shoppers have high expectations and little patience. They want an experience that’s customized to their needs, they want to know about the product as much as possible before the purchase, and they want to make ethical decisions. They also want the checkout experience to be as easy as possible, and that includes flexible payment options.
Most e-commerce businesses start their stores with one sales channel, setting up an online shop through a website or marketplace. However, consumers are shopping in more locations than ever. These latest market trends force sellers to move beyond their websites and explore channels as marketplaces, social media, and comparison shopping engines. Multi-channel retailers that implement an effective diversification strategy will not only maximize reach but also sales opportunities.
Each channel in a multichannel strategy exists as a separate purchase opportunity.
- Multichannel retailing offers the following benefits:
- Flexibility for consumers when purchasing and paying for goods and services
- More opportunities to build a brand among diverse audiences
- Additional chances to solicit and use consumer testimonials
- 24-hour access to customers to build brand loyalty
- A greater degree of visibility among various demographics
- Improved analytics to help understand consumer behaviors
To grow your e-commerce business as an online merchant, you need to make yourself available across all of the channels that your shoppers use. Consider using popular channels like eBay, Amazon, Google Shopping, and Jet. And don’t forget about popular social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, which also support direct sales.
Social media platforms are looking to become transactional: users will be able to complete purchases without leaving the platform.
The following infographics show how US consumers shop by generation and across multiple channels.
Which of the following places have you purchased from in the last 6 months? (USA)*
Key trend indicators
- 87% of e-commerce shoppers believe social media helps them make a shopping decision
- 1 in 4 e-commerce business owners are selling through Facebook
- 40% of merchants use social media to generate a sale
- 30% of consumers say they would make purchases directly through social media platforms
With these kinds of statistics, you can’t afford to be on social media or not to advertise on social media. And you especially can’t afford to lose the opportunity of selling on social media.
Social buying is already standard in China, where 55% of social app users reported buying goods or services directly on a social app. In emerging markets, such as Southeast Asia, social shopping accounts for 30% of all online sales.
Understanding the buyer’s journey and adopting a multi-channel strategy can give you an edge over the competition. On top of the funnel, consumers might discover your product through social media, perhaps through an influencer, they follow on Instagram or an image on Pinterest. Consumers with an intent to purchase will likely go directly to marketplaces or comparison shopping engines. In fact, more than half of buyers start their product search on Amazon over Google.
Multichannel doesn’t mean being everywhere. Every channel you pick should work for your e-commerce business model, industry, and target audience. Facebook has more registered users than any other social network. However, it might not be as good a fit for your business as LinkedIn or Twitter. B2Cs usually have better success on Facebook, some on Instagram, but B2Bs might not record that same success. In that case, LinkedIn may be the best choice for them.
Best industries for Facebook
One feature offered by Facebook that other social media platforms do not have is the Product Catalog. With the feature you can link your inventory in your e-commerce store to your Facebook business profile and begin selling those same products directly on Facebook. The following industries have seen the greatest success with selling via Facebook:
- Clothing & Apparel
- Consumer packaged goods
- Gift products
- Home furnishings
- Beauty products
- Fitness companies
Best industries for Pinterest
Your e-commerce business can take advantage of buyable pins simply by connecting Pinterest to your e-commerce platform. Pinterest links to some of the well-known platforms like Shopify, Magento, or BigCommerce. Every time you add a new product, you just check Pinterest when making the product visible online, and it automatically becomes a buyable pin. The best selling product categories:
- Home Decor or Renovations
- Gardening or Landscaping
- Arts and Crafts
- Food and Drink
- Health and Self-Improvement
Best industries for Snapchat
Selling on Snapchat is still very new but very perspective. The most successful industries would typically include:
- Retail apparel stores
- Tech gadgets
- Travel companies
Another useful tip is using re-marketing across all channels. Every channel is unique. Dynamic re-marketing enables you to show product ads to customers/prospects who have already visited your website. Products they have viewed on your site are marketed again to them with messages tailored for the buyer behavior and the product. Some ad platforms identify each customer based on cookies or by associating each visitor with a unique ID to note the product they viewed. This can lead to higher conversions and a lower cart abandonment rate.
How to Achieve Success by Selling on Multiple Marketplaces?
As a pro-active brand, you want to scale up your e-commerce business. However, in order to be successful, multichannel selling is the key as it enables reach to a much wider customer base. However, achieving measurable growth is not an easy thing to implement. You risk the chance of losing control of your inventory or ineffective in managing orders.
There are a variety of types of sales channels. These include:
- Daily deals sites (Groupon)
- General marketplace (Amazon)
- On-demand production marketplace (Cafepress)
- Handmade and crafts marketplace (Etsy)
- Auction marketplace (eBay)
- Social media (Facebook, Instagram)
- Niche marketplace (Not On The High Street)
- Subscription box service (Cratejoy)
- Classified listings website (Craigslist)
Top 3 channels for e-commerce
1| Online Store Website
The first channel we will look at is your own website. For those of you only selling on third-party sites such as Amazon or eBay, or who have a retail store and want to take your business online, adding your own store enables you to build a stronger brand which in turn makes you more trustworthy.
The more potential shoppers trust you, the higher your chances are of converting them to your online store. Plus you don’t have to give a marketplace a cut of your profits.
Additionally, having your own branded store gives you a space you can connect directly with your customers, gives you more control over your sales as you don’t need to adhere to third-party rules and helps you build customer loyalty.
With the rise of platforms like the new up-and-coming Gearlaunch or Shopify, putting together your own branded store, whether you’re dropshipping or making your own products, has never been easier.
Amazon took over 40% of the e-commerce revenue in 2017. Amazon is a powerhouse of which over 40% of its platform sales are allocated to third-party sellers. If you’re not selling on Amazon, you’re missing out big time on a wide group of potential shoppers.
For those of you who have your own store and are looking to add a selling channel, Amazon should definitely be your point of call.
eBay is well established as a popular channel making billions in yearly revenue. Although traditionally an auction place, its ‘Buy Now’ feature allows e-commerce businesses to use eBay in the same way they would use any other selling platform. eBay is said to have more than 25 million sellers and is ideal for sellers with competitively priced products and can be a profitable channel addition when growing your product reach.
The trick to going from single to multichannel selling is first finding and choosing channels that fit your brand, product, niche, and target shopper.
Tips to Build an Effective MultiChannel e-commerce business
1| Choose Your Channels Based on Profitability
Whether you’re an e-commerce business or a retailer looking to go online, the first step of turning your single-channel business to multichannel is to choose channels you want to add. To do that you will want to check which channel is best for your targeted potential customer, the niche you’re selling in, fulfillment logistics, and ultimately the cost of selling on these platforms.
Expand to one channel at a time. Try to calculate profitability forecasts on all possible channels and then start with the most profitable channel. Once you have mastered the logistics of one channel, then look at expanding to others.
2| Managing Inventory
When it comes to selling on multiple marketplaces, it is very much important that all your sales channels are showing an accurate figure of inventory you are possessing in your warehouses. Failing to do so, you may face overselling and low stock issues which might make your customers displeased. It is very much important that you update your inventory on a real-time basis to give accurate information to your customers. You can use inventory management software to avoid these problems like StoreAutomator’s product data tool, SellerHub tool or any other, which will automatically update inventory and prices across all your channels in real-time.
3| Adjust Strategies to Fit the Channel
As I mentioned previously, you will want to choose the channels best suited for your potential customers, first. It’s also important to adapt your strategy and experience to meet customers on that platform.
For example, on Etsy, you will want to highlight the craft of your own-manufactured product, whereas on eBay you may focus on highlighting the affordability. If you are selling a wide variety of products and can’t adjust every description, at least adapt the descriptions for your most popular products.
By tweaking your approach to match shoppers on each individual platform, you will have a much better chance of making the sale when marketing to that channel.
4| Provide the same high-quality customer service for every channel
Nothing hurts a brand or a seller more than bad customer service. It’s vitally important when extending your e-commerce business across channels, that your support and service doesn’t waver. This can be tedious but very important to ensure you don’t lose brand trust or get booted off a marketplace for poor customer service.
As your e-commerce business grows, dealing with this can cost you a lot of time and eventually you should be either hiring customer service representative to help or at least investing in tools such as Freshdesk that give you one central platform to deal with all your customer service and support issues in one place.
As conclusion we might say that people don’t have to look for their product; the products just need to reach the right people, which can be done through very focused targeted marketing via social media.
B2B (business-to-business) e-commerce is the online selling and marketing of products from one business to another. And when compared to the B2C (business-to-consumer) e-commerce industry, B2B e-commerce is projected to be two times bigger than B2C by 2020.
B2B and B2C e-commerce may look the same, but they are quite different. Business buyers and retail consumers have different purchasing needs. The differences can be:
- Buying Impulsively vs. Buying Rationally — B2C buyers will buy on impulse and make one-off purchases, B2B buyers plan for purchases and make recurring purchases
- Single Decision Maker vs. Multiple Decision Makers — B2C purchases are decided upon by the buyer, B2B purchases often involve several layers of approval and may involve different departments
- Short-term Customer Relationship vs. Long-term Customer Relationship — B2C purchases are often one-off purchases, B2B purchases are based on long-term and on-going relationships.
- Set, Fixed Prices vs. Diverse Prices — B2C prices are generally not negotiable. B2B prices are usually negotiated individually for each client.
- Pre-Delivery Payment vs. Post-Delivery Payment — B2C e-Commerce is generally paid by credit card, debit card or PayPal before the goods are shipped in B2B payment is often on terms and maybe 30 or more days after goods are shipped.
- Deliveries focused on speed vs. Deliveries focused on punctuality— B2C buyers are looking for speed of delivery and B2B buyers want deliveries on a reliable schedule.
B2B customers want to get more personalized service, they want to get more “B2C”-like experience. As we know B2B agreements are unique for each client and because of this customers need access to their personalized account on the company’s e-commerce site. This means providing buyers to view their transaction history, payment methods, and delivery options. You can also go as far as customizing your product catalog for each buyer or organization. Another trend that helps to satisfy customer’s needs is a dynamic content technology. It essentially curates and delivers media created by your brand based on any and all known information about a specific customer. Dynamic content can be delivered onsite in the form of landing pages, product recommendations, and more. Finally, dynamic content ensures your B2B audience is provided with resources that they, specifically, find valuable and informative. In turn, this makes them more likely to continue engaging with your company. B2B e-commerce sites should at least allow your customers to access their account-specific documentation, unique pricing, and preferred payment methods.
What are some determinative features of B2B e-commerce sites?
- Allow customers to quickly purchase, track, and reorder.
- Create custom price catalogs for individual customers or groups.
- Enable fixed-price lists, percentage off, or volume-based discounts.
- Set minimum, maximum per product.
- Allow for multi-level purchase approvals + user authority levels.
- Sync inventory, orders, and customers automatically with your existing admin.
- Provide a B2C site experience for a B2B customer (login required).
There are a variety of things you can allow your customers to do here, such as:
- Schedule and reschedule order delivers
- Set up recurring subscription-type orders
- Modify delivery options on an as-needed basis
In general, B2B customers want to see their B2C conveniences transfer over.
- 72% of B2B customers want self-service access to accounts and orders
- 64% of B2B customers want scheduled deliveries
Allowing your customers to take the initiative on their own will enable both parties to work much more efficiently.
Modern B2B companies have begun providing self-service options to their trusted long-time clientele and as part of their tactics. But anyway there is an area for further development in this direction.
In the US alone, B2B e-commerce sales will hit 1.184 trillion dollars by 2021. The predominance of B2B e-commerce means that B2B businesses must improve and simplify their shopping journey, channeling the B2C ordering experience. The B2B shopping experience is a lot more complicated than that of a B2C buyer. Because of the nature of the transaction, B2B buyers usually need to go through various steps, including sales representative interaction, negotiations, and approvals before they can make a successful purchase. In short, B2B e-commerce businesses must adapt to a more seamless transaction building advanced functionality quote management, price negotiation, easy ordering, order and inventory management for the B2B market.
WHY SHOPPING VIA MOBILE DEVICES MATTER?
By 2021, mobile e-commerce sales are expected to account for 54% of total e-commerce sales.
Smartphones have for the first time overtaken shopping centers as a popular way to shop, figures show. It comes as the popularity of smartphone and tablet shopping is being driven by convenience, created by payment facilities that let shoppers spend money in a single click.
Mobiles are now synonymous with e-commerce and an important factor in the strong advance of the sales channel in recent years. To succeed in e-commerce in Europe, creating a clear and simple buying process via mobiles is of the ultimate importance. For Europe as a whole, six out of ten consumers have used their mobile phone or tablet for shopping in the past year.
Mobile phones enable consumers to shop wherever they are; all they need is an Internet connection. Mobiles also create opportunities for online shops to inspire and inform consumers during their buying journey, for example by the distribution of customized newsletters or push notifications by text message, e-mail or advertisements. Previously, mobile maturity has varied sharply across Europe, but it is increasingly becoming evener. This is partly because Internet penetration and the availability of cheap mobile devices are increasing and because e-commerce in various countries is expanding.
E-commerce mobile statistics USA:
- Over 230 million U.S. consumers own smartphones
- Around 100 million U.S. consumers own tablets
- 79% of smartphone users have made a purchase online using their mobile device in the last 6 months
- Almost 40% of all e-сommerce purchases during the 2018 holiday season were made on a smartphone.
- E-сommerce dollars now comprise 10% of all retail revenue
- 80% of shoppers used a mobile phone inside of a physical store to either look up product reviews, compare prices or find alternative store locations
- An estimated 10 billion mobile-connected devices are currently in use
And now let’s have a look at global e-commerce statistics:
- US e-commerce businesses grew 24 % YoY from 2015 to 2016;
- Asia-based e-commerce businesses 42% growth;
- European e-commerce businesses 18% growth;
- Australia & New Zealand 33 % growth;
- Other — 30% growth.
Mobile as a share of total e-commerce worldwide*
Obviously, e-commerce businesses can’t ignore these trends and must adapt their company to them. If you plan on running a successful online store you absolutely must make it comfortable for mobile users and consider mobile shopping. It must be a major part of your digital marketing strategy. Not doing so is simply overlooking a majority of your potential customers.
Adopting your online store’s website for mobile devices is crucial nowadays. Creating mobile responsive high-speed websites should become a norm if you want to boost revenue. According to the recent Google research, the chance that a customer leaves a site completely increases considerably the longer a site takes to load on a mobile device. For example, if the page loads longer than 5 seconds the probability of bounce increases by 90 %. It’s clear that everyone wants to impress a customer by high-quality images and dynamic content but you shouldn’t sacrifice speed for it.
Your site's user interface should be quick, fluid and simple. Customers should be able to navigate your online shop in a few clicks. You can choose to make a separate mobile site in a subdomain, but this can have several disadvantages: you will now have to update two sites (original and mobile version) and a mobile site might not look great on different screen sizes. Google tends to favor responsive design, which is definitely preferable when it comes to the variety of screen sizes on the current market. You can always check if your site is mobile-friendly with Google (Mobile-Friendly test).
I would complete more purchases on my phone if*
E-commerce businesses should be keen to remove all obstacles to the way of buying. Using trusted and secure third party payment options accelerates the process and makes the purchasing process easier without the necessity of adding credit/debit card details. Choosing the right payment solution can result in an immediate increase in sales. Well known mobile wallets include:
- Apple Pay
- Google Pay
- Amazon Pay
- Samsung Pay
At checkout customers simply select the mobile wallet they are registered with and authenticate using ID or PIN. Nothing else. If you still require to type in credit card numbers you’re definitely losing out in sales. Adding a digital wallet to your store is quick and easy, and most work with your existing gateway. With just a few clicks, you can streamline your checkout to improve conversion. Around 75% of all shoppers abandon sites that aren’t mobile optimized.
An e-commerce business should make a choice between using a mobile site or a mobile app. The decision of which is the better option for a retail business depends on a number of factors like the product offerings, target consumer audience, required investment and competition.
Mobile apps allow retailers to engage with customers. Many retailers struggle to strategize how they can communicate with consumers unobtrusively. Ideally, reminders prompt customers to make a purchase without annoying them. Mobile apps allow merchants to send customers to push notifications about discounts, sales, new products, and relevant news.
But using a mobile app may have some disadvantages. First of all developing mobile applications needs more time and has a higher cost. The process is complicated as the mobile app must be compatible with both Android and IOS meaning that you need to hire two separate developer teams.
Using mobile websites instead may attract more online buyers as it has the following advantages:
- it’s accessible to all devices, there is no compatibility problem here. And it will give your e-commerce business a broader grasp among your customers. They don’t need to download anything, they just need a good internet connection.
- cost-effectiveness, mobile web development requires less expenses and efforts giving you more time to concentrate on other important matters of your e-commerce business
- search engine optimization. Creating a website platform for your e-commerce business will allow you to formulate SEO strategies that can increase your traffic significantly, which is currently considered as the best way to promote a brand.
Business Insider’s research showed that customers prefer using mobile sites when compared to e-commerce apps:
- 58% of mobile retail revenue is predicted to come from the Web this year
- 82% of smartphone shoppers use their mobile browser to search for products in-store
- 62% of shoppers say they visit a mobile website directly vs. 21% who say they use a retailer’s app in-store
- The majority of retailers under-utilize their opportunity to sell through a responsive e-commerce website
Mobile apps and mobile-optimized e-commerce sites may seem similar in function on a basic level. However, they operate in different areas of the sales process. Mobile websites best serve consumer searches for products. Conversely, mobile apps are best for inspiring customers to become return clients. Regardless of choice, you have to plan carefully and consider your situation. Gather as much information as possible to formulate the right strategy on how you can increase your sales without spending too much time, money, and effort.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT PRODUCT TO SELL ONLINE
According to the Eurostat data, most purchases, by a third or more of e-shoppers, involved clothes and sports goods (64 %), travel and holiday accommodation (53 %), household goods (45 %), tickets for events (39 %) and books, magazines and newspapers (32 %). Fewer than one in five e-shoppers bought telecommunication services (20 %), computer hardware (17 %), medicines (14 %) and e-learning material (7 %).
And now let’s have a look at the most popular items sold on Amazon and eBay:
eBay Categories by Percent of Items Sold (Feb 1, 2018- Jan 31, 2019)
Amazon Categories by Percent of Items Sold (Feb 1, 2018- Jan 31, 2019)
Physical goods have the biggest part in e-buying: 8 out of 10 people who bought online purchased physical goods. 80 % of European customers bought or ordered physical goods such as electronics, clothes, toys, food, groceries, books, CDs/DVDs. Lower proportions of e-shoppers made online purchases of travel, accommodation or holiday arrangements (34 %) and products downloaded or accessed from websites or apps (25 %). Only 16 % of the e-shoppers bought or ordered from abroad other services, such as e-tickets for events (sports events, concerts or other entertainment events) or telecommunication services.
Here is some advice is given by Steven Chou (successful e-commerce business owner and blogger) on how to choose the right product to sell:
- The product should not be fragile and easy to ship — Because we are going to be shipping products through the mail, you can avoid most headaches if you choose a product to sell that won’t break during shipment.
- The product should not take up much physical space — Certain e-commerce business models require carrying inventory so it’s in your best interest to choose something small to sell and preferably an item that fits in a little box.
- The product’s inherent value should be ambiguous — For example, electronics because there is a set value for your goods that everyone is aware of. On the contrary, keepsakes and informational goods are much harder to place a price tag on.
- The product should be timeless
- Avoid seasonal goods — In general, you don’t want to choose products that are only purchased during a specific time of year.
- Sell goods that sell from $15–200 — This is the best spot for pricing for online purchases.
On the way of choosing the right product for an online shop, you can make independent research by yourself. You can use data collected by Amazon, eBay or Google.
Amazon - is slowly becoming the defacto standard for online shopping in the United States (and in Europe as well) with the greatest e-commerce market share of any individual company. As a result, sales data derived from Amazon is a great representation of overall demand. In fact, more and more people are going straight to Amazon for all of their online shopping needs while bypassing Google and smaller online boutiques altogether. Now at first glance, it’s not obvious that you can derive actual sales numbers from Amazon but I’ll show you how below.
Every item sold on Amazon is assigned a BSR or best seller rank. A product’s Best Sellers Rank can be found on the product’s detail page (see below).
So what does the BSR tell you about a particular product? Amazon calculates a product’s BSR by considering the number of orders for that product compared to other products in the same category. It ranks a product based on sales and historical sales data and fluctuates hourly. Consequently, based on the BSR, you can make an educated guess on how many units are sold per day.
Now using the method above to gauge demand works fine but it’s extremely tedious which is why it’s better to use a tool called Jungle Scout to help with the research. Jungle Scout greatly speeds up the process by nicely collating all of the products on Amazon into a nice table for consumption. In addition, it can also point out specific products on Amazon that match your criteria.
Even if you can find a single product on Amazon that sells reasonably well, it’s important to gauge the size of the overall market for demand.
And the best way to verify demand is to look at the monthly sales estimates for similar products on the front page of Amazon for your product keywords.
eBay -To brainstorm products to sell on eBay, simply type in a product on eBay’s search bar. Then look for the “Sold Listings” link in the sidebar and click on the checkbox.
eBay will now display a listing of products that have sold in the product category of your choice along with the final selling price. With this information, you should be able to get a good idea of the demand and selling price of a wide variety of products.
Google - And since Google is the largest search engine in the world, it makes sense to look at what people are searching for to find good products to sell online.
The easiest way to obtain search data is by using the Google Keyword Planner which is a free tool from Google. By looking at the exact keywords that people are typing in, you can get a good idea of what products are in demand and how much revenue you can generate.
To avoid any mistakes when the time comes to choose your industry and then a particular product you should be aware of the top product categories to sell online. Nowadays they are the most popular and still there is an area for further growth of demand. But the competition is also high.
1| Fashion Items, Beauty & Personal Care
Generally, fashion is the top-selling industry all over the world. And nowadays people don’t afraid to buy clothes online anymore. They feel more comfortable about it because of return policy development. Returns are free in almost all shops and you can try something on at home, knowing that you can return it at any time. This factor extremely increased the volume of fashion products that are selling online. Besides technology also makes the process easier: thanks to photos and videos you can show your products to the customers as if they were seeing them in person. Another reason why customers increasingly choose online over offline is a greater assortment, better promotions, and higher convenience.
Print on Demand (POD) is another option that allows you to dropship clothes directly from a supplier who is also able to print custom designs onto the clothes, allowing your customers to create their own styles or work clothes. POD clothing is trending dropshipping products and arguably the best niche for dropshipping because they allow you to offer unique and different products to your competition, something that is rarely possible in the dropshipping realm. It worth noting that dropshipping is a retail fulfillment method where a store doesn’t keep the products it sells in stock. Instead, when a store sells a product, it purchases the item from a third-party supplier and has it shipped directly to the customer. Consequently, merchants never see or handle the product they sell.
However, don’t forget about the main disadvantages: overwhelmed market — there are lots of competitors, technical difficulties — you should be aware of textile design, materials and many other things connected with this industry.
Forrester market research notes that 58% of the global online costumers have made a purchase online this year and that roughly half of those have bought clothing, accessories or footwear. The global online fashion market is predicted to reach $765 billion by the year 2022.
We should also mention the beauty & personal care industry products. Don’t think these markets are influenced only by a woman: research shows that over the third of consumers (37%) are male and this tendency is constantly growing. Web sales in the beauty category outpaced the overall U.S. e-commerce growth rate. Beauty and personal care products are also well suited to be sold online, as they typically have reasonable unit prices and are compact in size. Additionally, consumers’ combined interest in both discovering new products and replenishing the ones they already own make the category ripe for online development. As a result, consumer spending on beauty products has moved online faster than almost every other product category.
2| Tech Products
It may seem that it is probably not a good idea to try and take on mass market, multichannel retailers — i.e., Amazon, Walmart, and Best Buy — by selling the very same tablets, MP3 players, and iPhone cases, new e-commerce businesses may find success focusing on hard-to-find electronics and accessories (that shoppers won’t be able to buy at the local big box stores) or on unique items that are not offered at other retailers. Trending tech products include:
- Wireless phone chargers
- Phone lenses
- Bluetooth speakers
- Magnetic phone accessories
- Screen guards
- Power banks and charges
As long as consumers want to be up-to-date with their gadgets, a category like “technology” will always be on the list of top-selling niches and never go outdated.
3| Food, Health, and Wellness
Important to note that online grocery shopping has room for growth. Grocery shopping online is seen by customers as a convenience and time saver. Average estimated growth in grocery e-commerce sales of 35% y-o-y in 2018, reaching $24 billion. After many years of skepticism and disbelief that the shift to online would never happen for grocery sales, it became clear in 2018 that e-commerce is nowhere.
Regarding food, the most popular are such items as different types of tea, detox products, and vegan food. Veganism isn’t just a trend anymore but instead a lifestyle and cultural choice for a growing number of people. The vegan food industry is booming and it is a market with a large scope as it isn’t mainstream. Be it soy products, vegan meat alternatives, vegan alternatives to household items like furniture and cleaning products, or even chains of vegan restaurants — there is so much potential.
But you should take into account the legal responsibilities you’ll face as an e-commerce business for selling consumable products.
It’s not a secret that lots of customers are extremely interested in goods and services that can be good for their health and are generally associated with a healthy way of life. Every year the awareness level is increasing, consumers are becoming smarter in their choices and give a huge importance to their well-being. Consequently, it affects the market.
4| Hobbies & Toys
Toys and Hobbies involve the sale of any toys, games and hobby products including dolls and children's’ toys, board games, traditional games, and electronic games, as well as arts and craft supplies. Products that go well under this category are:
- Memory games
- Colorful toys
- Card games
- Wooden game kits
- Outdoor kits
- Lego blocks
- Board games
Even today, toys & games are one of the product categories that tend to generate high sales on Amazon. No wonder it frequently tops the list of best sellers. Since kids are one of the most excessive market consumers, this category has broad potential. However, it is vital to keep updated with the current trends, as it turns out to be a dynamic category.
Selling toys online is something that will never run out of demand, and goes through annual surges at Christmas which is always a benefit. Homemade Kids’ toys are consistently some of the best selling homemade products and often have a personal and unique aspect that means they can fetch a higher price than regular mass-produced toys.
5) Second-hand Sales
Second-hand sales remain one of the top sellers online. World of second-hand selling opens up possibilities of finding and selling almost any type of product. There are shops of all types: electronics, clothing, tickets, books, cars, etc. Buying used products is no longer stigmatized as being for those with low economic status, but rather as a love for quality products that fight the “made in China” trend.
The next consideration about it is that being involved in the secondary market also looks good for your brand. It shows that environmental friendliness is a part of the company philosophy and it’s always great when your e-commerce business is associated with green practices. Nowadays some customers especially seek companies that care about the environment and exclusively work with them. No matter what it is — secondhand tickets or even cars — e-commerce plays an important role in getting them back into circulation.
Leading resale sector players are ThreadUp (Secondhand clothes — for all brands), The RealReal (managed marketplace for luxury and designer brands) and Poshmark (peer-to-peer marketplace focused on social commerce). According to the ThreadUp’s own estimates, the resale market will grow to $41 billion by 2022. Clothing accounts for 49 percent of the resale, followed by media and electronics (20 %), books (13 percent), homewares and furniture (11 %) and others (about 8 %). It also said that 44 million U.S. women shopped secondhand in 2017, up from 35 million in 2016. There are more secondhand shoppers than ever before: 64% of women bought or are now willing to buy secondhand products.
Here is some noteworthy statistics to pay attention at:
- As of 2018, Amazon Kindle is reported to be the most widely owned and used e-reading device in the United States.
- Amazon controls more than 50% of the entire book sales throughout the U.S. and 83% of all the e-book sales. (Source:TheBookSeller)
- About 22% of books that are bought are eBooks and 42% of the total book purchases were done online.
People still prefer reading a physical book than having it read on Kindle, iPod, or iPad. There are more readers in this world than one could think of and no wonder physical books not only generate a good amount of sales but also stay in the list of Amazon’s best-selling products on Amazon based on categories.
In recent years, the book business has been massive and greatly dominant in the global market. More than 675 million books (print) were sold online last year just in the United States.
The Rise of Subscription Box E-commerce
Shoppers prize convenience over everything else — the ability to not only shop and have the product delivered, but also have a convenient ongoing relationship with their favorite brands such as when a store knows that a repeat shopper returns every few months to refill a previous purchase.
A great example is the pet food/products industry and many top brands leverage scheduled ordering so that the customer doesn’t even have to think about what to buy again. It simply shows up at their door, the same time every month or few months.
Subscription e-commerce is a fast-growing new way of buying online. Subscription boxes are a recurring delivery of products as part of a marketing strategy and a method of product distribution. Subscription boxes are used by subscription-based e-commerce businesses, which follow a subscription business model. They target a wide range of customers and cater to a variety of specific needs and interests.
Approximately 15% of all online shoppers have now signed up for one or more subscriptions to receive products on a recurring basis, especially through services such as Amazon Subscribe & Save. Let’s have a look at some statistics (Source: McKinsey analysis):
- About 15% of online shoppers have subscribed to an e-commerce subscription service within the past year.
- Over 50% of e-commerce service subscribers have more than one active subscription.
- Nearly 20% of male subscribers and 7% of females claim to be subscribed to at least 6 e-commerce services.
- Online revenue for large subscription services grew from $57 million in 2011 to over $2.6 billion in 2016.
Here are some examples of successful subscription services to consider:
1| Beauty Box Subscription
As we mentioned above the beauty industry is rapidly growing. Beauty box subscription services like BirchBox, Ipsy, and BoxyCharm give customers access to sample-sized products at an affordable price.
2| Personal Style Box Subscription
Personal style box subscriptions like Trunk Club, Stitch Fix, and Gwynnie Bee provide customers with a customized collection of clothing, shoes, and accessories for a monthly subscription fee. Successful Example: Trunk Club
3| Coffee Box Subscription
Statistics show that more than 50% of Americans over the age of 18 drink coffee every day and, furthermore, the average American drinks about 3 cups of coffee per day. Coffee box subscriptions like Atlas Coffee Club, Counter Culture, and Trade Coffee provide subscribers with the opportunity to try coffees from around the world at a monthly price.
4| Book Box Subscription
Book box subscription services like Book of the Month, OwlCrate, The Bookish Box cater to readers who like to stay up to date on the latest releases.
5| Meal Kit Subscription
A meal kit is a subscription service–food service business model where a company sends customers pre-portioned and sometimes partially-prepared food ingredients and recipes to prepare home-cooked meals.
According to Inc Magazine, as of March 2017, there were over 150 meal kit companies in the United States. As of July 2017, according to Time Magazine, the meal kit business was estimated to be USD$2.2 billion globally, which represents under 1% of the estimated $1.3 trillion food market. The industry is expected to grow tremendously and estimates show that it could make up 1.3% of food and beverage sales by 2020.
Survey data indicates that nearly 20% of US adults have tried a home delivery meal kit service and nearly 4 in 10 are current subscribers. Furthermore, the meal kit delivery service market is currently valued at over $5 billion. Services like Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, and Sun Basket receive as many as 4 million visitors each month with total monthly visits topping over 11 million.
6| Pet Supply Box Subscription
The American pet industry has an estimated value of over $72 billion and many consumers prefer to make online orders on a recurring basis.
And finally while choosing what product to sell online you should be able to get answers to the following questions:
- How can I be innovative in this market?
- How competitive is the market and is there any space for more e-commerce businesses?
- Does my product (service) solve customers’ problems, how could it be valuable desirable for them?
- How soon after starting can I become profitable?
Popular products change over time. It depends on the particular time of the year, trends, and other key factors. One day a product might be the best selling, but the next day it might not be part of the top 10. Consumer preferences may also vary from one place to another. That’s why instead of focusing on what to sell, you need to focus on how you sell them.
E-commerce is a rapidly growing market and new trends constantly arise. To be able to run a successful e-commerce business an online seller should be ready to adapt to them. The main features of modern e-commerce which can’t be ignored:
- New generations of young consumers are entering the market, their shopping requirements, fears, and desires are significantly different from those that older shoppers have. They are more familiar with tech innovations and have more trust in online shopping. But they are less patient and have higher expectations regarding the service quality.
- In order to satisfy the growing needs of modern online shoppers, new methods and tools are spreading in the e-commerce sector. It’s obvious that most e-commerce businesses try to propose the most flexible return policy, diversify delivery options and payment methods to increase their conversion rate. But really a revolutionary trend is using Artificial Intelligence (AI) that helps to complete tasks by computer instead of human involvement. It can not only improve customer service but even forecast future customer’s needs. AI tools include personalization, machine learning, and data mining. And such a tool like a chatbot has already become an essential feature of the majority of online stores.
- To grow your e-commerce business as an online merchant, you need to make yourself available across all of the channels that your shoppers use The importance of selling through different channels like social media and marketplaces (multi-channel e-commerce) are growing.
- Shopping via mobile devices is becoming a prominent part of the market. This trend can’t be ignored that’s why almost all e-commerce businesses develop mobile-friendly sites or mobile apps to satisfy potential customers.
- While choosing what product or service to sell you should consider how saturated the is market and if there is a space for further expanding. Statistics show that some categories of tech products, fashion, beauty & self-care goods, second-hand items, and books are top categories selling online. Another prominent trend in this area is the rising of subscription box e-commerce.
At What a Figure! Accounting we help e-commerce businesses to get their finances in shape.
We are experts in the UK, USA, Canadian and Australian Bookkeeping & Management Accounting as well as have expertise in international sales tax (VAT). We would love to help you!