Image of six graphics representing e-commerce. In the background there are hands typing on a laptop.

The rise of e-commerce is changing the way businesses market and sell their offerings.

If someone told us ten years ago that over 80% of the UK population would purchase products online, it would have been difficult to believe. Yet, here we are in 2022, living side by side with never-ending technological advances. The digital world has fully integrated into our day to day life, changing the way we communicate, shop, run our homes and even work.

Can we imagine life without technology? It almost seems impossible to envision, especially due to recent events. Covid-19 sped up technological advancement in a way we’ve never seen before. According to Forbes, even e-commerce sales grew 50% during the pandemic, reaching $870 billion.

Indeed, lockdowns forced non-essential stores to close their doors to the public, facing an unprecedented struggle. But as humans, we adapt and try to find ways to survive, even in the business world. So, many moved online to cater their products or services to those who wanted them. This wasn’t an unwelcome move. Shoppers got used to this fast and convenient way of purchasing, and even today this buying habit hasn’t lost its power.

Although the world is shifting back to normality, some tendencies that covid has shaped are here to stay. E-commerce is one of them, and its exponential growth suggests that the future of selling will be primarily digital.

Why Is E-commerce Becoming a Necessity?

For centuries companies and consumers have done business face to face, buying and selling in physical spaces. Not to say that this practice will disappear, as we are not 100% certain of what the future holds. However, it is true that the digital landscape is growing by the day, and so is the number of businesses that have an online presence.

But why are so many businesses moving online and what are the benefits of this shift?

Advantages of E-commerce

1. More Abundant Information 

Supplying your customers with detailed information is one of the benefits of having an online store. A physical shop will only display a few bits of information, such as seasonal sales or exclusive offers, but it’s up to the employees to be there to answer any questions a potential customer might have. On the other hand, a website can show information on several pages. It could highlight its offers on the homepage, have a designated ‘about us’ section and even add an FAQ page to help consumers with any questions or issues. If you think something is worth sharing with your customers, you can easily include it within a website. Through this, you will help consumers make more informed purchasing decisions whilst increasing brand awareness.

2. Lower Costs

Having a physical shop is not cheap. You have to think about rent, electricity, employee wages, upfront investments and other costs. On the other hand, with e-commerce, you don’t need a physical store, just a website where you can list and sell your products. Also, you would not need as much staff as with a physical store.

Indeed, you can automate most of the shopping and selling process, including checkout, payments, billing, inventory management and other procedures that would usually require employees if you had a shop.

Finally, no matter if you use organic or paid marketing, you can easily bring more traffic to your website and thus more sales. Whether this is through organic search engine traffic, social media posts or ads, pay-per-click or other advertising channels that are in line with your products or services

3. Eliminate Travel Time

Existing customers might have to travel long distances to visit your store, spending time and money in the process. Due to this, it could negatively impact your customer lifetime value. However, with online stores, this is not the case. Customers can shop with you from the comfort of their home, browsing your products or services whenever they want without commuting every time they want to purchase something.

This leads us to the next advantage of having an e-commerce website: there are no opening and closing hours.

4. Open 24/7

At least in the UK, most stores will be open from 9 am to 5 pm on weekdays. These are the hours most consumers will be working, which means they have to wait until the weekend to visit your store. When the weekend arrives, the shopper might feel overwhelmed by the number of other people in the store, and possibly, the product they are looking for is out of stock. With online stores, this can be avoided as it’s open 24/7. New and existing customers can visit your website and purchase from you at any hour of the day, no matter if you’re at work or not.

Image of a person using a phone to add products to their digital basket. In the background there is a tablet showing various products from that online shop. 5. Promote Deals and Bargains

It’s easy to show deals, bargains and exclusive offers on your online shop. In fact, this can be promoted on every page that could be relevant to the consumer. You could even offer a 24 hour deal and put a countdown with a promotional code to use at checkout. The world is your oyster when it comes to deciding what discounts you want to give your website visitors.

You could also email your existing customers, letting them know about your deals and adding a button that takes them directly to your website. This is much more convenient to the buyer as they don’t have to travel in order to take advantage of the offer. Instead, they just need to click a few links or buttons to get this reward.

6. Search Engine Visibility

Usually, with physical stores it’s all about store location, branding, relationships and word of mouth recommendations. E-commerce also focuses on most of these aspects, but there’s more. It has the benefit of getting search engine visibility. By improving your SEO through organic means, you’ll rank higher on search engines, which can help drive more traffic to your website and increase sales.

If you rank highly for keywords related to your company, potential customers will be more inclined to visit your website even if they have never heard of you before. This is because users trust that search engines will show them the best results based on their queries, so if you pop up in these results, they will think that you are more likely to solve their need or want.

7. Makes It Easy to Find Products

E-commerce makes it easy for shoppers to find the product or service they want. Whether it’s through the search box or intuitive navigation, consumers can quickly find what they are looking for and add it to their digital basket. Some websites will even remember a purchase a customer made in the past and suggest it whilst they’re browsing the company’s online store. Through digital shopping, consumers don’t need to aimlessly walk around a store to find what they need as they can simply find it on their phone.

8. Less Invasive Shopping Experience

Shopping experiences can be less invasive when you have an e-commerce website. For instance, at a shop employees might go to a potential customer and ask them if they need help or require any assistance. For some, this might be useful and appreciated. However, for less social shoppers, this could be a drawback. E-commerce allows consumers to navigate a website without having employees interrupt their experience. Also, if they have any questions, they are not forced to ask someone about it, but they can search the FAQ section of the website or message a member of staff through a chatbot. For those who are not comfortable being assisted whilst shopping, e-commerce is the perfect solution to solve this potential issue.

9. Easier to Encourage Impulse Purchases

Online shopping is easy, convenient and time-saving. When you pair it with high-quality, vibrant images, the product or service offered becomes even more appealing to the shopper.

Let’s say your company sells women’s clothing. When a shopper views a garment on a model instead of a mannequin, they might be more likely to purchase it as they can see how well it fits the model and thus how well it could look on them. This desire stemming from human emotion is more likely to drive potential customers to buy impulsively.

Another tactic to incentivise impulse online purchases is to promote limited edition products/services and adding countdowns. The opportunity of being unique and the sense of urgency is the perfect combination when you want to push shoppers to purchase from you.

Finally, you can also target online shoppers, through ads, that are most likely to make a purchase and even create detailed targeting adverts depending on your customer’s interests and demographics.

10. Read Reviews

There are many more advantages to e-commerce, but the last one we would like to mention is online reviews. Customer reviews have become a pivotal part of a consumer’s shopping journey. People don’t trust companies as much as they used to. Traditional marketing is still important within businesses but not as vital as it once was. Instead, user-generated content has gained popularity and trust in recent years.

As with word of mouth recommendations, shoppers trust the feedback and opinions past customers have on a company they purchased from. Indeed, reviews help consumers make informed purchasing decisions and spend their money wisely. For this reason, having this form of social proof is crucial to any business looking to gain customers’ trust and make more online sales.

Unfortunately, companies can’t present their best reviews within their physical stores. As mentioned previously, shops can only display a limited amount of information. On the other hand, e-commerce sites have ample space to showcase their 5-star reviews. You could have a designated section within the homepage and even add product reviews for each specific item you sell.

Websites are vital when it comes to promoting social proof through your customer’s voice.

Image showing a customer reviews summary of all the reviews and star ratings a company has received.

Are There Any Disadvantages to E-commerce? 

Online Visibility 

It’s no surprise that e-commerce is highly competitive. In pre-covid times, e-commerce was already becoming a force to be reckoned with. During covid, this sector has dramatically increased to $26.7 trillion. In the UK alone, online transactions have grown on average from 15.8 to 23.3 per cent. Due to this shift, many companies have moved online, taking advantage of technological advances to sell their products or services to a larger audience.

However, this e-commerce acceleration has led to more competition and ultimately, it has become harder to become visible online.

Customer Service 

Also, customer service can take longer online. If a shopper is at a store and has a question about something, they can immediately ask a salesperson about it. However, with e-commerce, there will usually be a delay in the response. You can’t be expected to be online 24/7, but somehow consumers look for this type of service also when shopping online. Unless you have a designated customer service team for each hour of the day, this won’t be possible.

Although there are many benefits to having an e-commerce business, there are also some drawbacks. Having an online store makes it harder to give your customers the best possible experience and, as we’ve seen, improving your online visibility.

But there are ways to solve these issues.

There Is a Solution!

Solving the Problem of Online Visibility 

When fighting for online visibility, it seems almost impossible to compete with more established competitors. However, there are various things you can do to help rank higher in search engines.

Backlinks

Backlinks are crucial for SEO. Why? Because it shows Google that your website’s content is valuable and worthy of being read. Backlinks occur when a third-party website links your content to their own. In truth, it’s not an easy task to do, but that’s why Google made it one of the most important ranking considerations. For this reason, it will place websites with many high quality links (from other authoritative pages) higher on search engines. It’s a vote of confidence from one site to another, and Google praises it.

Quality Content

Quality content is another vital factor to help improve your SEO as it can help generate backlinks. However, this is not the only reason. Google Quality Rater guidelines state that content is one of the most important ranking considerations, meaning that publishing regular quality content can make you become more visible in the long run. This could include blog posts, case studies, whitepapers and articles. Customer reviews could also help with your SEO as Google values user-generated content by third party individuals. So, make sure to publish new content on a regular basis.

Image showing the editor page “Add new post” within WordPress.

Mobile-Friendliness

Optimising your website for mobile usage can also help you become more visible online. Nowadays, users will spend most of their online time on their phones. Since this device can be taken anywhere, people can use it throughout their day, searching, shopping, messaging and even watching their favourite TV shows. In fact, last year, around 79% of the UK’s population was using a smartphone, bringing it to a total of 53.5 million users. Not to mention that the average time spent on these devices is 4.8 hours per day.

Due to these statistics, one of the best ways to improve your SEO is to make your website mobile-friendly. Search engines want to give the best user experience, that’s why it will rank pages that are mobile-friendly higher than those that are not.

Have Multiple Listings  

Having various listings can increase your chances of outranking competitors on search engines.

An online listing is any website that will have information about your company. This can be your website, your social media pages or any other website you have your information on. Therefore, if you’re an e-commerce company, it could also be third-party marketplaces or websites where you’re listing your products or services. Having multiple listings on search engines will help you promote your brand and attract more customers, so make sure to take advantage of it.

If you’re looking for a third party website to sell your products, make sure to find one that is affordable to your company. For instance, one where it’s free to join and has no listing fees like Psydro Marketplace.

Improving Online Customer Service Through Digital Tools 

Automations

Technological advances have allowed businesses to make the customer’s shopping journey as seamless and enjoyable as possible. Through automation and chatbots you can help your customers with the most frequently asked questions without needing an employee 24/7. If the customer has a specific question or issue, you could always send an automated message stating that a member of the team will be in contact as soon as possible or that you will usually reply within 1 or 2 working days. With this digital help, you can focus on other vital aspects of your business, knowing that your customers have been notified about how your customer service works.

Likewise, replying to reviews is extremely important as you’re not only thanking and acknowledging your customer’s feedback, but you’re also showing potential buyers that you care about those who do business with you and want to give them an unforgettable shopping experience. However, doing this task may not be your biggest priority, but it doesn’t have to be. You can always automate the process and create different responses for each star rating. This way you can give your customers a truly personal experience without detracting from your work.

Jelly Fashion

Image of Jelly Fashion’s profile page on Psydro showing two 5 star reviews.

For instance, Jelly Fashion, one of Psydro’s verified businesses, uses our automation tool to reply to its customers. As you can see, both reviews from the image above are five stars but have different replies. This is because the company has added various responses per star rating to make it look more personal and authentic.

The image below shows Jelly Fashion’s automated reply section within their Psydro business dashboard. Here they have added three responses per star rating. Within it, a company can add, delete and edit their replies whenever they choose. Perhaps during the holiday season, they might add ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Easter’ to make it more relevant. Or, if it gets a bit repetitive, they might change their answers to make it more genuine. Automated replies is one of the many tools Psydro offers to help businesses boost sales through their customers’ voices.

Image of Jelly Fashion’s Psydro dashboard showing the automated reviews section.

Psydro Marketplace

We have recently launched Psydro Marketplace, the UK’s newest online marketplace. It’s a user-friendly space where businesses can easily sell their products online.

As opposed to some of the other marketplaces, we are not a retailer and thus, won’t compete against companies selling on our platform. Instead, we act as a messenger, a middleman between businesses and their customers.

With over 22 categories and 350+ subcategories, Psydro Marketplace is a versatile platform that can be enjoyed by any e-commerce business looking to make more sales online.

Benefits of Psydro Marketplace

If you’re an e-commerce business looking for another place to sell your products online, let us mention a few benefits of joining our platform.

Firstly and most importantly, it’s free to join, with no listing fees and no monthly subscription fees, which means that you can sign up and list your products without having to use your card once.

Also, we offer one of the lowest commissions in the UK. Indeed, as mentioned above, everything is free; you will only have to pay a 12% commission (which includes VAT and processing fees) for products sold.

Psydro Marketplace even offers all products at discounted prices. We will pass part of our commission to the consumer at the point of sale, enabling the discount but not impacting the business. So, customers will be more inclined to purchase from our marketplace as the prices will always be lower.

To make your journey with us as efficient as possible, we offer onboarding support to help you get started and if you have any questions or issues, we are here to help however we can.

If you are interested in Psydro Marketplace or would like to learn more, please email us at business@psydro.com or book a demo with a member of our team.

Alternatively, you can fill out our onboarding form so we can manually sign you up to Psydro Marketplace.

Global E-commerce Is Booming

E-commerce has changed the way consumers purchase goods and services.

As we’ve seen, there are many benefits that come with having an online store, so it’s no surprise that companies are changing the way they sell to customers. However, every positive does come with a few negatives. Indeed, the more businesses move online, the more difficult it is to gain visibility on search engines. Also, e-commerce can negatively impact a customer’s purchasing journey if one doesn’t implement the tools to improve their experiences.

For this reason, it’s important to actively find ways to rise above your competitors and show your existing and potential customers that doing business with you is worth their precious time and money.

After all, e-commerce will most likely be the future of consumerism if we follow what the global statistics are saying. With numerous benefits and constant technological advances, companies need to adapt fast to these new digital trends to stay in the business game.

 

Recent Posts