Ecommerce Success Stories / General Ecommerce Tips

Top 8 Ecommerce Challenges Businesses are Facing and How to Overcome Them

Susan Meyer / 6 min read

Global ecommerce sales are expected to grow to $6.4 trillion by 2024. That’s a huge market to potentially capitalize on. 

The events of 2020 and 2021 only added fuel to the fire. Ecommerce share of the retail market increased as much in the first half of 2020 as in the last 5 years. Global ecommerce sales are expected to grow to $6.4 trillion by 2024. That’s a huge market to potentially capitalize on. 

Businesses are responding. Survey data from McKinsey indicates that businesses globally have accelerated the digitization of customer interaction by about three years. Even some offline brands with brick-and-mortar stores are entering the world of online shopping. Thus, there’s also a steady increase in competition.

Ecommerce companies are facing new challenges as they adapt to the latest ecommerce trends and try to create a digital experience that will match customers’ rising expectations. 

Other challenges you may face include maintaining cybersecurity, driving traffic to your site and maintaining customer loyalty. In this article, we’ll look at some of the common challenges faced by new ecommerce businesses and those looking to expand their online presence. 

More importantly, we’ll look at how you can overcome these challenges.

 

8 Ecommerce Challenges + How to Approach Them

 

Before you jump in with both feet and throw your whole budget behind your digital transformation plan, let’s consider some of the challenges facing online businesses today. These are just a few of the challenges to be aware of.

1. Facing increased competition.

You’re not the only one noticing a big uptick in ecommerce sales. Many business owners and aspiring business owners are taking note. But while new stores are cropping up every day, there are still opportunities to have a competitive edge. 

Unless you’re selling something truly unique, chances are you have some competitors out there. The key is to figure out how to differentiate your brand from the competition. What value propositions do your products offer that are different from others on the market? Or if your products are similar to others, how can you make your brand or customer experience superior? Ultimately, you just need to give customers a reason not only to buy from you over other similar offerings, but also to be so satisfied with the products, brand and experience that they both purchase again and also convince others to do the same.

2. Needing to fulfill orders in a timely fashion.

A successful shipping and fulfillment strategy is imperative to an ecommerce business. After all, the experience doesn’t stop after the customer checks out. And in fact, a poor delivery experience can stick in the memories with shoppers. 

In fact, 87% of consumers say the shipping and delivery experience directly impacts their decision to shop with the merchant again. Additionally, when it comes to having a positive experience with shipping, 63% say it needs to be fast and 66% require a free option.

What you sell and your overall business model will inform your fulfillment strategy. If you dropship products, you will likely have a more hands-off approach and shipping will be handled by a third-party. All businesses can potentially leverage a third-party shipping solution to handle fulfillment. This can help them limit the number of shipping zones a product has to travel through by keeping them at multiple warehouse locations, which can shorten shipping times.

3. Needing to deliver a complete omnichannel experience.

Research shows that customers are shopping more omnichannel than ever before. They might first interact with your brand on social, then do price research on a marketplace and finally purchase through your website. The key to a good omnichannel strategy is not only to meet your customers wherever they shop but also to offer them a seamless brand experience across channels. 

According to recent research from BigCommerce and Retail Dive, 46% of retail executives say they’ll increase investment in omnichannel moving forward, compared to their investment plans prior to the COVID pandemic. 

BigCommerce helps you create an omnichannel experience by making your products available in places other than your online storefront — and these sales channels are available no matter which plan you’re on, so you can easily connect to Amazon, Walmart, eBay and Facebook and Instagram to reach audiences there.

4. Avoiding shopping cart abandonment.

If only every shopper who visited your store made a purchase. Or even if every shopper who loaded their cart, completed the transaction. Baymard calculated the average cart abandonment rate (based on 44 reported statistics) to be almost 70%. 

That’s potentially a lot of money left on the table. If you’re seeing a significant number of abandoned carts in your store, you know that 1) you’re not alone, and 2) you should dig deeper into why that might be. Here are a few potential reasons:

  • 18% of cart abandonment is because of slow delivery speeds. 
  • According to the Baymard Institute, shipping costs are one of the top reasons for cart abandonment.
  • 21% of online shoppers in the United States have abandoned their shopping carts due to a long, complicated checkout process

Looking at these, the things you want to look out for are providing shipping options (both in speed and cost) so customers can choose the ones that work best for them. You also want to streamline your checkout process to include fewer points of friction. 

Choose an ecommerce platform that allows you to provide a seamless path to checkout. Some platforms, like BigCommerce, also have native features for abandoned cart recovery. Abandoned cart emails have excellent conversion rates — according to data from Moosend, they have a 10.7% conversion rate.

5. Difficulty driving valuable traffic to the site.

Taking a step back from worrying about carts that are filled but not checked out, how do you actually get potential customers to your site? It’s one thing to drive traffic and get more eyes on your products, but you need specifically to reach those that might be interested in your products. Depending on your industry and products, that could be a very wide or very narrow audience. 

Driving valuable traffic to your ecommerce website is an important challenge to overcome because it directly affects your ability to get sales and make revenue. In order to reach new customers, you first need to understand your audience. Determine who is buying your products now and who might be interested who isn’t aware of them. Research your audience to learn their demographics and where they are spending their time online. Consider what sources will drive traffic to your site and prioritize those that align with your audience research. This could include organic traffic (search engines), social media platforms, email or word of mouth. 

For example, if your target audience is predominantly on Instagram, that’s a great place to both advertise and potentially sell your products. Or if most of your traffic comes from people searching for a need your product solves, you could focus on SEO (search engine optimization) and making sure the algorithms know what problems your ecommerce site is poised to solve.

6. Maintaining customer loyalty.

The best kind of customers are happy customers. Happy customers return to buy more. Particularly happy customers may even spread the word to their friends. However, building and maintaining customer loyalty can be a challenge, especially in an era when so many options are at consumers’ fingertips. 

Of course, some aspect of customer retention will likely be based on your actual products. However, there are also things you can do to improve the customer experience. Providing good customer service helps to build trust in your brand. As much as 95%of consumers say that customer service is important for brand loyalty.

And don’t forget that the positive customer service and experience doesn’t stop after checkout. One survey found that 96% of consumers will go back to companies who made returns and exchanges as seamless as possible. Part of maintaining customer loyalty and building trust in your brand is to provide a simple and straightforward return or refund policy.

7. Combating cyber attacks.

Online stores are treasure troves of customer data. For this reason, online retailers are a high-value target for cybercriminals. In fact, a 2020 Trustwave Global Security Report found that retail was the most compromised sector for cyber attacks. 

The importance of protecting your store from a high-profile data breach or other malicious attacks cannot be overstated. These attacks can have significant financial implications as well as lead to a loss of customer trust in a brand. In fact, one study found that approximately 20% of people who learn about a breach stop shopping at a particular retailer altogether. Additionally, if you fall out of PCI compliance, you are subject to fines until compliance is reinstated. 

There are important steps you can take to mitigate your risk. This is a great primer to walk you through ecommerce security. Additionally, your choice of ecommerce platform can have an impact on how easy cybersecurity is to maintain.  

For example, Magento operates with a Shared Responsibility policy toward security in which “The customer is responsible for the security of their customized instance of the Magento Commerce application running on the Magento Commerce cloud environment.”

And that means you’ll need to:

  • Ensure secure configuration and coding.
  • Conduct proactive security monitoring like penetration testing and regular vulnerability scans.
  • Ensure the security of all customizations, extensions, apps or integrations. 
  • Control all code deployments security patch applications.

By contrast, SaaS platforms like BigCommerce, have automatic updates to address security vulnerabilities, so you don’t have to worry about making those updates yourself. BigCommerce also comes standard with Level 1 PCI Compliance.

8. Support from the right technology.

Many of the above challenges are dependent on the technology you deploy to run your ecommerce store. Can it provide the digital marketing features you want and the shopping cart functionality you need? What additional plugins will you need? Will it allow you to offer the payment options you want? There are a number of questions you need to ask to figure out your right fit. 

Here are a few pain points that ecommerce brands have experienced that can be solved by updating their ecommerce.

 

Conclusion

 

If you’re a new ecommerce brand or just choosing this year to invest more heavily in your online strategy, being aware of some of the challenges in ecommerce is an important first step in solving them. 

To understand more about the challenges and growing pains that B2B and B2C ecommerce merchants are facing, download this report from Digital Commerce 360 that discusses 6 major pain points ecommerce owners cited and how they’re solving them.

 

 

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Susan Meyer

Susan Meyer

Enterprise Content Marketing Manager

Susan Meyer is the Enterprise Content Marketing Manager at BigCommerce, where she researches, analyzes and educates brands making more than $10M in annual online sales on tech stack scalability, flexibility and overall growth strategies that alleviate growing CAC. She lives and works in Austin, Texas and her decade of writing experience spans everything from young adult nonfiction to technical documentation.

View all posts by Susan Meyer

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