Happy New Year! Another year has come and gone, and as I promised last time, I’m going to take a look at ecommerce for 2016. I don’t want to bore you with a bunch of boring stats, but let’s zip through a few so we can get some context. The Centre for Retail Research tells us in a survey that online sales in the UK continue to grow. In 2014 online shoppers spent £44.97bn online, which was 15.8% up on the previous year. Over the following 12 months, they spent £52.25bn online, an increase of 16.2% on 2014.
Figures across Europe show similar increases indicating that ecommerce is the fastest growing retail market in Europe. Germany showed a larger growth of 23.1%, but is still playing catch up with the UK with online sales in 2015 of £44.61bn. According to research compiled by OC&C Strategy Consultants, PayPal and Google, Britain is the most popular overseas online destination for German shoppers. The report goes on to state that the UK is also very popular with Chinese customers: “Chinese and German shoppers are more valuable than their British counterparts. They spend on average 2.7 and 1.7 times more in each transaction.”
Anita Balchandani, head of retail at OC&C, said: “The study has shown that UK retailers are some of the world’s most popular and are in a strong position to seize more opportunities abroad. But at the moment, the majority are only doing the basics to adequately serve foreign markets.”
If you are not already exporting your products, ask yourself why. If you have no experience in selling to non-domestic markets, the prospect can seem daunting. In my own local area The Scottish Borders Exporters Association is an ideal way to meet others in the same boat and to gain insights from those who have been exporting for years. Find out what similar organisations are in your area.
Creating an ecommerce strategy isn’t something that can be explained in this short article, but there are some fundamentals that should be addressed. For example, if your website is not mobile-friendly you can more or less forget about making many sales. With so many people (your potential customers) accessing the Internet and web via a mobile device in one form or another, ensuring that your website works well on mobile is an absolute must.
A few other main questions you need to ask yourself include:
- What are you selling and how will it benefit your customers?
- Who are your customers, what are they like, what is important to them?
- How will you communicate with your customers and build your ‘audience’?
Considering these – and the plethora of other things that need answered – is why you need a co-ordinated approach to your project, be it ecommerce or other. It’s not a case of building a little website, doing a bit of Facebook here, making a quick video there, and sending out an email newsletter when the fancy takes you. There has to be a strategy behind it all that gives you a clear understanding of how your marketing channels work with each other, and how you can measure the success of each activity.
Over the coming months we’ll look further into these and how you can implement them yourself or with the help of a professional.