By 2040, the e-commerce landscape is expected to cover 95% of all retail sales, in 2019 alone e-commerce has reached the 7% mark. While tech advancements like IoT, Neural Network and AI are expected to push e-commerce forward, innocuous challenges like customer loyalty, product discovery and price competitiveness are expected to create hurdles that will require e-commerce executives to think out of the box and innovate.
2019 marks the 25th birthday of the first e-commerce sale; in the last 2 and half decades, e-commerce has come a long way and shows the potential of exponential growth. We recently got in touch with E-commerce Heads and Executives from around the world and discussed prevalent challenges from the e-commerce domain. We have compiled the opinions and views of few e-commerce thought leaders for you.
Head-Ecommerce & Consumer
Community Engagement Marketing
CX can be best understood as “the entire experience a customer has from start to finish when interacting with your brand”. In ecommerce parlance, this starts at a probable customer seeing your advertising, finding it engaging/ well timed enough to prompt a CTA leading to the website/ app, browsing the website/ app, adding to cart, checking out to the payment gateway, order confirmation receipt on the website/ in app and via email, order tracking, receiving the product/ service, unboxing experience and finally, the return/ exchange policy. CX therefore, is at every step your customer interacts with your business on and anything less than ideal will most definitely lead to a drop off.
Alisha Hemmingson Runckel
Director of E-commerce and Analytics
The biggest challenge I face – and I think most e-commerce leaders face – is having to pace yourself when it comes to making major changes. When you’re in this space, you’re surrounded by AMAZING things that your peers are doing, and that always sparks some new idea for our site. But you have to be disciplined and methodical. You have to test into the changes so you don’t blow things up. You have to put a project plan in place to make sure you don’t miss a critical step. This groundwork is almost always critical, but can cause things to come to a grinding halt. That’s so frustrating sometimes! But it’s about the journey, and the things you learn along the way.
Head of E-commerce
How do you reach the right customer? : In a brick and mortar set-up, if you want to attract the right audience, you set shop at a geographically precise location. You’re clear of who you’re marketing to. In an online world, you are ‘present everywhere’. While this may sound like a good ‘location’ to be in, it also brings with it a surfeit of traffic which doesn’t convert to potential buyers. Marketing hence becomes a constant and expensive affair since the converting traffic in comparison to your audience reach will be minimal. Online retailers are spending a significant amount of money driving traffic to their online store. With conversion rates ranging from just 1% to 3%, they must put a lot of effort in generating leads in order to get the most out of their marketing efforts. Will we ever be able to reach the right consumer…maybe? But this depends on the quality of data mining and interpretation to find out where and who they are. I believe we will get there one day.
Director of E-commerce &
Digital Marketing Americas
‘Card not present’ fraud is one of the biggest and growing challenges for Ecommerce executives.
Understanding and managing the fraudulent chargebacks hitting your business becomes almost a part-time job of any e-commerce executive. Keeping up with an ever-evolving landscape of online ‘Card not present’ fraud is almost impossible and requires constant attention to ensure your business is not wiped out by a fraud-ring. Today’s executives strive to grow the business with constantly changing technologies, marketing landscape, scaling their business and meeting ever-growing consumer demands. Fraud is always the last thing an executive wants to worry about but yet they all must.
Often businesses manage fraud prevention in-house, little do they know it takes an army to manage it in-house. While it is possible to manage in-house, it’s a constant battle to improve approval rates, reduce the fraud chargeback rate, and reduce false positives that eat away good customer business. To strike a balance between the three without spending way too much time and resources have been one of the top challenges for e-commerce leaders.
Inventory: Maintaining the correct set of inventory at the correct price, located at an ideal location for quickest last mile delivery, is the biggest challenge.
Price Competitiveness: As there are multiple platforms selling the same product, sourcing them at the best price is again a challenge and maintaining that price competitiveness across all brands and all SKUs is challenge on its own.
Customer Loyalty: Presently the customers are not loyal to any portal, they are simply after the best deal possible. This makes retaining customers extremely difficult. Until and unless the portal delivers a service/ experience which is unlike any other, it is almost impossible to retain your customers.
Either you create a cult like brand following (Apple) else keep them engaged with services and memberships like Amazon Prime. As both these options are not practical for any emerging e-com platform, they will simply have to differentiate themselves on the basis product discovery, delivery and post sales customer service.
Funding: For every e-commerce platform, the runway to critical mass is long and most times very expensive. So they need deep pockets to ensure that they survive through this period of development of platform and consumer base. Once achieved, they can be extremely profitable.
Director of E-commerce
Current challenges are legion, as always. Regulatory issues surrounding e-commerce continue to pose significant operational hurdles that slow us down and take our focus off forward progress. From nexus and taxation issues to increasingly complex PII and privacy compliance to accessibility, we face an increasingly complex array of rigid compliance and regulatory issues.
The competitive landscape is also changing rapidly, which is great and pushing it to innovate and improve in order to stay ahead. This includes increasing competition from many competitors including Amazon, other retailers, and brands selling direct to consumer. This means big wins for consumers with rapid innovation, more choice, and ever increasing convenience!
One of the biggest challenges is excessive number of online retailers as compare to consumers due to which there is a price war and very less profit margins. 2nd challenge is the delivery cost. Sometime delivery cost is higher than the product itself. 3rd challenge is online consumer don’t shop the same way as they used to back in day. They use Amazon to search products (not just only Search Engines). They search for recommendation from social media. But overall the e-commerce penetration projection in 2020 is $20 Billion in UAE that’s showing the positive potential in UAE market.