Skip to Content Skip to Navigation Skip to Enquiry Skip to Sitemap

The Current State of E-commerce

Article by
20th August 2020 in

As the ongoing global pandemic continues to grip the world, we all have so many questions. Almost every aspect of how we operate our businesses and cater to our customers is being reconsidered.

The main question we’re receiving from our clients is how do we keep up with rapid changes and how can our business be more agile, flexible, and resilient to change? Growing an online presence, prioritising e-commerce, and collecting and utilising data is the answer.

Think about how you present yourself online and consider the data you’re collecting. Obvious advantages include 24-hour trading, the ability to capture valuable data about your customers, as well as the ability to reach more than just the people who visit your physical location.

A lot of companies who have successfully navigated the pandemic and seen growth when many have come to a standstill have direct access to their customers online. We’re talking social media, website, and email.

Your customers appreciate transparency and authenticity. Communicating with them delivers that, so be available online. How great is it to hear from your favourite brands in a crisis and know what they’re doing to make sure service isn’t interrupted?

This makes your customers feel valued and included because they know what they can expect from you. They also know they won’t have to go without while they’re dealing with a pandemic. Good for them, but also good for you. Now you can collect online data and understand how best to serve them, while hitting your targets.

Despite that, 80% of business in Australia is still conducted at bricks and mortar stores according to Kshira Saagar, the Group Director of Data Science for Global Fashion Group, the parent company of The ICONIC.

Recognised as one of the Top 10 Analytics Leaders in Australia for 2020, Kshira strongly believes that every organisation can become truly data-driven, irrespective of their size, domain or systems. “It’s not just e-commerce or online business. Everybody, with the systems we have today, has access to a lot of data. It could be the customers that are buying, the products that are moving, or the marketing that’s working, there is so much available. In terms of availability of data, insights, and ability to make use of the data, everybody has the same edge.”

Lou Simpson, an e-commerce leader for almost 15 years, who has run online stores for big brands including Coles, Bonds and MECCA, agrees we can’t underestimate the power of data and the opportunity it brings to Australian business, “The level and detail of information that you can collect from an online store isn’t really available in a bricks and mortar location now. Our ability to watch customers interact with the site and understand the functions of an online store and the data it produces gives businesses valuable insights they can’t gain otherwise.”

Data can be the difference between being able to pivot with ease when a new challenge rears its head and failing to work out an issue before catastrophe hits. Done well, data collection and interpretation can identify what’s working online and what isn’t and tell you what your customers are not, before it’s too late.

“There’s the famous Lenin quote, ‘There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.’ and I think that’s what COVID-19 has been for a lot of companies. From an efficiency point of view, a lot of people have found what to do better, how to do it better, what other avenues and streams are out there, as well as being able to pivot and cut loses and then step-change into the new thing.” agrees Kshira.

Shopify, the e-commerce platform, recently reported that worldwide e-commerce sales topped 3.5 trillion US dollars in 2019, an 18% increase on the previous year, with a projected increase to 6.5 trillion US dollars by 2023. It’s safe to say e-commerce is advancing rapidly and continuing to gain market share and its data that is helping it bloom.

Customers are also trying to adapt, while having little practical knowledge of how to do that and their behaviour has shifted as a result. While overall e-commerce hasn’t changed dramatically, a recent survey by Engine found people are spending an average of 10 – 30% more online.

Clearly there’s an opportunity now, during this pandemic, for businesses to better serve their customers by improving their online experience.

“E-commerce is just going to keep growing, so get on it! Get your data collection tool set right, invest some time in ensuring you have that configured correctly and, if you’re a bricks and mortar retailer at heart that’s growing your online business, I’d be thinking about the type of investment you’re making. A lot of retailers focus on their bricks and mortar store network and while their online business is growing there might not be too many resources looking after that online element. I’d encourage businesses to think about your online store in the same way as you would a bricks and mortar store and invest in the resources to help it grow. The opportunity you have when an online store team is well resourced is amazing.” advises Lou.

When asked about his top tips for action to take now, Kshira says businesses can leverage data to help them adapt. “I always say from a data point of view, first be aware of what you have. A lot of people are not aware of the data they have access to. Data is like a Ferrari that people buy and then don’t drive because they don’t know how to. Understanding what you have is important. The second thing is, instead of trying to solve the problems that everybody solves, I ask people on the e-commerce side of any company, to just look at the problems that are more important and pressing to them. Not everyone has to address the same problems. People read things, some are amazing things that have worked for someone else, but they might not work for you. Solve the problem that you actually have and not the problem that looks interesting to solve.”

Depending on you and your business or the part you play in one, your reaction to the current circumstances will shift and change. However, you know your customers better than anyone else and the vast majority want to help support you through this challenging time. Listen to them carefully and act accordingly. Use your data to drive and improve your customer’s experience with you online and you’ll see return on your investment.

If you would like to hear more from Lou and Kshira, listen to our recent webinar: Data-Driven Marketing for E-commerce.

Stay up to date with the latest news from the brightest minds.

Close enquiry the form