The Rise of Ecommerce: Preparing for Increased Online Shopping in 2021
In recent years, ecommerce has experienced significant growth as a preferred method of shopping for consumers. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this trend even further, with 62% of American consumers currently shopping online more frequently than ever before. This presents a unique opportunity for small business owners to boost sales and expand their customer base. In this beginner’s guide, we will explore how small businesses can effectively prepare for the influx of online shoppers, leveraging mobile and new technologies to their advantage.
The Growth of Ecommerce
In the second quarter of 2020, ecommerce witnessed an astounding 75% growth compared to the same period in 2019, surpassing even the peak sales season of 2019. This upward trend is expected to continue in 2021, with over 2.14 billion people worldwide projected to make online purchases. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our lives, businesses should anticipate a surge in website visitors seeking to make online transactions.
Preparing for Increased Website Traffic
To ensure a seamless shopping experience for your customers, it is crucial to prepare your website for the surge in visitors. Slow loading times can significantly impact conversions, with even a one-second delay reducing conversions by 7%. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to optimize your website’s load time. One effective strategy is to compress images, finding the right balance between file size and image quality. Online tools are readily available to assist with image compression. For larger online stores or websites experiencing higher-than-expected traffic, upgrading your web hosting plan to one that offers more bandwidth may be necessary. As visitor numbers increase, so does the amount of data that needs to be transferred, and having sufficient bandwidth is vital.
The Importance of Mobile Optimization
Although desktop devices still dominate in terms of sales, mobile devices generate a significant amount of traffic. The pandemic has further intensified the popularity of mobile browsing, with 45% of consumers reporting increased usage of their phones for shopping since the COVID-19 outbreak. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that your website’s design is responsive on mobile devices. Creating a website that works seamlessly on both desktops and smartphones has become easier than ever, especially with the use of website builders. Mobile purchases are predicted to account for 72.9% of total global ecommerce spend by 2021, amounting to $3.56 trillion. In the first quarter of 2020 alone, ecommerce traffic on mobile devices grew by 25% across all industries. Mobile devices play a vital role in every stage of the customer journey, with 58% of multi-device purchases utilizing mobile as a transitional touchpoint.
The Rise of New Tech in Ecommerce
In addition to mobile optimization, new technology trends are shaping the customer experience and providing merchants with new channels to explore. Voice shopping, facilitated by voice control devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Home, has gained significant popularity. Already, one in five smart speaker owners engage in voice commerce, and the pandemic has further accelerated the adoption of voice assistants. Chatbots are another emerging technology that is transforming the customer experience. Google search volume for “chatbots” has increased 19 times in the last five years. More than half of customers express a preference for businesses that offer chatbot interactions. Implementing chatbots can also yield cost savings, with merchants potentially saving up to 30% on customer service spending. Beyond customer service, chatbots can also benefit areas such as sales, marketing, and order processing.
As ecommerce continues to dominate the retail landscape, small businesses must adapt to meet the demands of online shoppers. By optimizing their websites for increased traffic, ensuring mobile responsiveness, and embracing new technologies like voice shopping and chatbots, small business owners can thrive in the ever-evolving ecommerce landscape. The opportunities for growth are significant, and by staying informed and proactive, businesses can reap the rewards of this digital revolution.