2020 was a successful year for online retailing. Two-thirds of online retailers are increasing their eCommerce budget this year to drive business further.
The findings come from an independent survey of 145 e-tailers, commissioned by parcel delivery service CouriersPlease.
The survey asked online retailers how they performed last year, whether they made changes to boost sales and if they will increase their eCommerce budgets this year.
Findings of CouriersPlease’s survey on retailers
CP discovered that 66% of online retailers will put more resources and money into enhancing, growing and maintaining their online function this year.
44% will increase their eCommerce budget by more than 20%, and 18% by more than 40%. CP also sought to understand how online retailers performed last year, before the October to December peak retail period.
63% saw an increase in sales between 23rd March when social restrictions were enforced and 4th September 2020. 31% saw an increase of up to 30%, while 21% experienced an increase of more than 50%. 22% said their online sales were the same as before the shutdowns.
CP asked if, and what, retailers tried to increase online sales from a list of 7 action categories. Interestingly, 32% of online retailers did not make changes. This suggests that those retailers experienced an organic increase in online sales or cut costs throughout the business.
Among those that did make changes, 49% increased their sales and promotions, 45% boosted their social media activity, 35% improved their eCommerce sites, 31% communicated more with customers, 30% incentivised customers, and 21% spent on advertising.
The findings also reveal that 60% of online retailers shifted their business focus last year to increase sales. CP presented respondents with a list of factors that influenced this shift and they could choose more than one.
Factors that influenced businesses to shift their focus
- Decline in sales during the shutdowns accounted for 26%
- Potential for a long recession accounts for 25%
- The lack of an online presence was the reason for 10%
- The need for an effective customer acquisition strategy was the reason for 8%
Paul Roper, Chief Commercial Officer at CP, says: “Consumers are becoming more comfortable shopping online and the retail sector is continuing to grow. As such, online competition will grow alongside customer expectations, and retailers are best to refine their eCommerce strategies ongoing to ensure they are performing.”
Key areas for improvement within e-teiler online strategies are the customer experience, from product search on the site right through to the last mile delivery. As part of this, retailers could also review and enhance their returns process, which includes choosing a delivery partner that aligns with their 2021 goals.
“Last year at CP, we continued to support our retailer customers and rapidly increasing delivery volumes by expanding our facilities and franchisee network, and improving our technology.”
“We grew our franchisee network by 50 per cent, hired hundreds of additional drivers and opened six new depots to increase efficiencies throughout the business, which helped retailers get parcels to their customers faster.”