Change occurred slowly over decades, but since the creation of the public internet in the 1990s, change has accelerated to a breath-taking speed. Ecommerce, in anything like the form we know it today is barely 25 years old, but has already undergone many fundamental revolutions. It was not only created by innovation but remains powered by it.
An ecommerce enterprise can’t afford to stand still as innovation changes the landscape in both business practice and technology. The enterprise needs to leverage these considerable advantages. A commitment to innovation doesn’t mean you have to be the pioneer and isn’t always – although it often is – about the customer relationship. What it does mean is recognising the endless opportunities it affords, in marketing, supply chains, inventory, customer engagement, transaction management and after-sales service.
Embracing innovation means being ready to identify inefficient processes and revise or replace them, to pursue new products, services and processes which will strengthen your brand, deliver savings and improve your profitability.
Innovation is not the same for every business. Ecommerce now covers such a vast range of product areas and segmented markets that what works for a fashion retailer, for example, may not be effective for a software as a service (SaaS) subscription provider. Each business must design its own roadmap to innovation according to its scale, its ambitions, its resources and its customer preferences. When you feel as though your business has achieved digital maturity, this is the time NOT to apply the brakes but to look for the next step forward.
Although the direct impact of many of the innovations you implement will be on your internal procedures, ultimately they will determine the quality of the customer experience, which is the single most important differentiator in the digital landscape across both B2B and B2C verticals. Your objective should be the perfectly seamless customer experience, eradicating points of friction, building trust and brand preference and encouraging repeat custom.
If your ecommerce platform is not already optimised for mobile, then you need to address this as a matter of urgency. Nearly 73% of all ecommerce transactions are carried out on mobile devices, which means that websites – not long ago the primary tool – have already fallen to second place. An even more significant figure is the 62% of consumers who state that they are permanently deterred by a poor mobile experience. You should be considering innovations including integrating with digital wallets and messaging services, shortening the transaction process and making content more accessible and readable.
While ecommerce is a fast and convenient way of shopping, the question of returning unwanted or unsuitable purchases has always been significant. Research has discovered that 84% of shoppers will not buy from retailers whose returns process is inadequate. There’s no excuse for this now that pre-printed labels and QR codes are so simple to issue. There are also multiple options for drop-off points for returns and even collection services through several of the main couriers.
Something a simple as the speed of your site can make an enormous difference. For better or worse, the attention span of internet users has shortened and people become impatient with sites that are slow to load or cumbersome to navigate. No physical store would allow anything to impede a customer’s process around the displays so neither should an ecommerce business.
Perhaps most important of all is the moment of purchase. Users are understandably conscious of security issues and if they encounter error messages, payment pages that won’t load properly or any other fault, however minor, it will raise a red flag about the trustworthiness of the site.
Unless you have a dedicated team to look after issues such as these, then the simplest and most cost-effective way of implementing innovative improvements is to engage a company which provides ecommerce as a service (EaaS). Whatever ecommerce platform or software you use, an EaaS partner will have the expertise to provide you with all the benefits of perpetual innovation.