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The rise of e-commerce and best practices in 2021

Pre Covid you’d reserve your weekends to hear the clatter and clacking of your shoes on the pavement of a storefront. In fact, the majority of us would refrain from commenting about the extensively long lines, ever full changing rooms, and perhaps even the incessantly droning music.

Today however, the online space is scattered with an amalgamation of websites which curate the e-Commerce market. These platforms come across as functional, effective, and are, most importantly, quite easy to set up. And given the many tribulations posed by the pandemic, the e-commerce market has undoubtedly expanded, and adapted, to cater to our many wants. Within India itself, a survey by Rakuten Insight during the month of May, in 2020, stated that over 29% of shoppers indulged in e-commerce purchases several times than they are otherwise prone to.

Consumers spent $861.12 billion online with U.S. retailers in 2020, up 44.0% from $598.02 billion in 2019.

according to the latest Digital Commerce 360 analysis.

Customers have begun finding the digital hub a more ideal option, in comparison to the physicality of in-person shopping. In fact, in the United States, shares of e-commerce (in the retail industry) had grown by a notable 16%, during the initial stage of the pandemic, in the first half of 2020. Whilst, the United Kingdom foresaw a similar development with figures rising from 20.3% at the start of 2020, to 31.3% by the second quarter. The pandemic has inevitably resulted in the E-commerce industry surpassing levels which were unanticipated until at least 2025.

In fact, in the last four months itself, over 85,000 businesses, across the globe, transferred to the online e-commerce industry, as stated by growth Intelligence. Brands you love, startups, and small business owners crowd the space in a fierce bid for success. The more recent population of the e-commerce market should come as no surprise considering how, approximately, 750,000 businesses were made to close internationally. We’ve all undergone the plights of repeated lockdowns in our own ways; for businesses, it was the need to digitally transform in order to grow accustomed to these new ordeals.

Amongst the large variety of industries adapting to the ‘new normal’, the pharmaceutical world led the pack in discovering fresh ways of navigating sales in the e-commerce spectrum. The industry boasted of 9.3% of businesses undergoing transformation, whilst the Food Production industry trailed not far behind with a 6.9%.

And yet, with regard to specific businesses, it is the Fashion sector which showcased a whooping 8,665 number of clothing companies who’ve transgressed into the utilization of e-commerce technology. This must sound more than familiar considering the many clothing ads blanketing Instagram, and other social media platforms.

One of the most effective platforms, which has aided this transition towards the e-commerce industry, has been Shopify. The company’s online transparency allowed us to gauge the effects of the pandemic on the global giant. Beginning with the total revenue, unlike a large multiplicity of businesses, Shopify witnessed an increase of 47%, in comparison to statistics from 2019. The whopping $470 million was accomplished in just the first quarter of 2020. Diving into its overall growth, the GMV for the first quarter also grew by 46%, an increase of $5.5 billion, drawing stark parallels between figures from 2019 and 2020.

Shopify’s CEO, Tobi Lütke, passionately stated the following,

"The vast majority of people are employed by small businesses, and they struggle the most during a crisis. The spread of COVID-19 is going to be a tough time for all entrepreneurs. We are working as fast as we can to support our merchants by re-tooling our products to help them adapt to this new reality. Our goal is that, because Shopify exists, more entrepreneurs and small businesses will get through this."

While the raging pandemic has subdued the physical nature of commerce, it’s online presence has aided thousands of businesses to accelerate their sales, and remain afloat. Shopfiy, in particular, introduced several incentives to recognise the growing relevance of the e-commerce industry. Amongst many others, some of these were inclusive of ‘An extended 90-day free trial for all new standard plan signups,’ and, ‘Availability of gift card capabilities to merchants on all plans’.

Just as the e-commerce and business worlds have changed, as consumers, we’ve established a few habits ourselves. With ample time to spare, astoundingly quick cellular services, and the blanket of boredom gracing us all, the Indian population is soon to surpass the US$200 billion mark. Interestingly, this projection relating to the e-commerce market space was forecast to be crossed by 2026, and yet, the COVID-19 pandemic has heavily altered consumer tendencies.

This adoption of the e-commerce hub gains momentum each passing day, and is likely to become a new norm post covid-19 as well. Fuelled by a growing fear of infection, the reluctance to be in close proximity to others has more or less guaranteed an increasing propensity to transfer towards the digital spectrum.

 In fact, a recent survey by eMarketer depicts a growing rate of 60% to 85% of Internet users, within South- East Asia and China, who are fearful of crowded places.

China’s Mckinsey study assists the findings of the survey for it too suggests that consumers are more likely to stick with practices adopted during the pandemic, rather than alleviating previous ones.

Undoubtedly, entrepreneurial websites have contributed towards the growing utilization of e-commerce means. However, despite this growth of the industry generically, it takes the implementation of only the very best e-Commerce practices to guarantee optimum success.

As such, some of the most essential qualities of a strong e-commerce website are enlisted below.

  1. Branding consistently

Aside from maintaining a strong brand identity, it is exceedingly vital to establish branding across all aspects of an e-commerce website, especially customer touchpoints. This is inclusive of factors such as one’s colour scheme, iconography, and logo, amongst several others.

You might question the importance of putting in such effort to present a combined aesthetic; and yet, doing so reinforces the tone of your website, alongside the value proposition. Moreover, it uplifts the marketing efforts loaned to a website, coupled with constructing a valuable brand equity.

A 2019 report by Lucidpress reiterates the same; businesses were able to enjoy a 33% increase in revenue when utilizing consistent presentations.

  1. Distinct CTAs

Calls to action (CTAs) primarily allow the smooth conversion of customers; this could be regarding the purchase of a product, subscription to content, or perhaps even making an appointment.

Interestingly, in 2019, HubSpot discovered that the utilization of anchor text CTAs led to a boost in conversions by upwards of 121%.

Powerful CTAs typically constitute of a few indispensable qualities; if you were to navigate global platforms such as Amazon Prime Video, you would notice a few of these quite clearly:

  • The message is set out in a highly clear fashion. This builds up a strong foundation for an effective CTA.

  • Users are provided with the option of immediate cancellation anytime they wish to do so, thus, enabling the addressing of likely objections almost immediately.

  • The actual physicality of the CTA, though intangible, is glaring. You’ll notice it’s coloured and unavoidable presence driving conversions across the website.

  1. Navigating Intuitively

The way you position your buttons and options must be locatable quite easily, you shouldn’t dwell in posing a treasure hunt. In fact, the most effective e-commerce practices are known to provide users with solutions to intricate problems, alongside access to helpful content, such as FAQs.

Some of the most important factors within this domain are a compilation of the clarity of language, wedding the navigation to the content, utilisation of white space in a lucrative manner, and clean designs. Sensitivity to the cognitive load a user might encounter is another crucial factor.

In fact, a survey by Clutch discovered that 94% of users are more inclined towards a website which allows for ease of navigation.

5. Storytelling

As humans, we’re built up of insatiable appetites for a good story. We want to know, and learn, and understand. In fact, stories are the simplest manner of communicating impactful concepts; the very best of stories would yield an onslaught of emotions, whilst better engagement and allowing users to feel connected with a website.

Therefore, the right combination of narrative techniques and quality storytelling, when integrated into a brand, serves as an added benefit for any e-commerce website. This is because people listen to the ‘who’ and ‘how’, rather than blank statistics serving no personal context.

6. Visuals

When we were kids, we’d look at pictures, and designs, and colours. The words didn’t really make sense to us because the appeal of any content we came across lay in the way it scorched over our eyes. Web users are largely alike; with barely any tolerance for an abundance of text, an affinity to engage judging by the visual elements, and attention spans of a baby, it is the visuals which draw them in.

Several ecommerce websites indulge in ineffective practices by showcasing blocks of text in order to understand the nature of the brand. In stark comparison, websites incorporating visual elements into their designs, that is ones who make use of graphic content, make it far easier for users to digest.

In line with the above pointer, the science supporting visuals, and storytelling, reiterates its advantages; 65% to 80% of the human population retains information better when it is conveyed through the assistance of appealing visuals.

7. Designs which are mobile-first

It is essential for a brand to implement technology which enhances the overall user experience. This would inevitably result in a lucrative e-commerce experience since over 76% of users have made purchases on e-commerce websites through their devices.

As of 2021, mCommerce dominates around 72.9% of the entire e-commerce industry, with this figure estimated to further grow over the next three years.

Interestingly, the utilisation of applications is undoubtedly the future of ecommerce shopping. This has been made evident through a recent e commerce trend centred around shopping via mobile devices.

  • Mobile apps over websites: in the US alone, over 57% of consumers turned to retail applications (and not websites), via their phones, to learn more about a specific product. Moreover, around 85% of American shoppers have a clear preference of mobile applications to websites. The conversion rate for the same is known to be an astounding 157% higher than that of the latter.

  • Conversions from Tablets, and Smartphone: Smartphones continue to heavily dominate all sales, over those made from tablets. The current tablet sales within mCommerce make up only 15.9% of mobiles sales, as of 2021. This is vital to owners of e commerce businesses in order to transform their communications into conversions.

  • Ordering in a single click: Typically, mobile checkouts do not require tedious volumes of information, as websites usually do. The implementation of one-click settings has enhanced convenience for users of mCommerce across the globe. In fact, in comparison to mobile sites, only 20% of shopping carts on mobile applications are abandoned, whilst over 97% of shopping carts of a mobile website are.

  • Implementing social mCommerce: The utilisation of social media marketing in order to gain higher conversions is highly effective. Statistically, a famous study has depicted how brands which make use of Instagram shopping have enjoyed a traffic boost of 1,416%, alongside a revenue boost by 20%.

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