In an article that appears in our latest e-Info magazine for online sellers, Stuart Rivett says the key challenges for retailers in 2016 will be how to respond adeptly to the barrage of new technology that’s emerging, while keeping up with the rapid changes in consumer behaviour.
Online sellers should have three key issues on their radar going into 2016: omnichannel retailing, delivery options and import duty charges.
Consumers are increasingly using more than one device for online purchases. A recent report by Forrester estimated that 46% of all European online sales will come from mobile by 2018. Retailers need to ensure they provide a seamless experience for their customers across mobile, tablet and PC. Having a consistent interface that is easy to use is paramount as consumers look to browse and purchase online wherever and whenever they please.
Consumers are also busy people and sellers should have solutions in place that facilitate this lifestyle. Online retailers need to ensure they have flexible delivery solutions in place moving into 2016. Lastly, businesses must be aware of import charges. Sellers sending goods outside of the EU need to be aware of import duty thresholds within the countries they sell into. Consumers do not like to receive any unexpected import charges so transparency here is key to maintaining customer loyalty.
There are some big opportunities for online sellers in 2016. Findings from a recent survey conducted across the major European markets suggest that only 13% of consumers are not confident in purchasing products from other EU countries. This suggests massive opportunities for UK online retailers to sell into the European marketplace. The biggest barrier to these consumers, however, is potentially higher delivery costs.
Still untapped by many international ecommerce retailers, Italy is suggesting average ecommerce growth rates between 17 and 20 per cent higher than most established markets. A combination of improving internet penetration (the government is promising a €6bn investment into the country’s broadband services) and consumer confidence means that Italy is a market to watch.
Our own research revealed recently that 62% of Italian shoppers expect to increase their online spending and decrease offline in the next two years. This is compared to the likes of Belgium and Switzerland, where the percentage is only 35% and 31% respectively.