It was 25 years ago in 1994 when the first online purchase was made. Since then, online shopping has changed the way people shop, allowing people to buy everything and anything from the comfort of their own homes. The e-commerce boom has changed shopping habits as we don’t have to wait in queues any longer, walk round multiple shops or talk to sales assistants face-to-face. However, shopping online can come with complications and customers can face certain problems.
E-Commerce Growth in 2020
There has been significant growth in e-commerce in recent years and in 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic, sales have continued to grow. In 2014, sales worldwide reached $1.3 trillion, but that number in 2020 has more than tripled to $4.2 trillion and it is anticipated to keep growing throughout this year. Experts have predicted the annual revenue to rise to $6.5 trillion in 3 years and if this trend maintains, e-commerce sales could potentially reach $8 trillion by 2025.
As of 2020, there are around 7.8 billion people in the world and 26.28% of them are online shoppers, with more and more people buying digitally, meaning e-commerce brands have more chance to reach larger audiences.
People that do shop online do so frequently, 20% of people shop online once a week, 24% shop online every fortnight and 31% shop online once a month. Online shopping is becoming the norm, particularly with lockdowns and shop closures in many countries still in place. Online shoppers making purchases through their mobile phones in 2020, has increased to nearly 50% and with technologies advancing, these figures are likely to rapidly grow and evolve.
Recent data shows, products that are easy to find through simple searches is the most important attribute when shopping online. Product ratings and reviews is the second most important attribute, ensuring the customer is making a well-informed choice. However, there are reasons why people leave certain shopping websites without buying anything; having extra costs is the number one reason, extra costs during checkout, shipping, tax and fees could drive customers away. The number two reason is forcing a shopper to create an account, online shops should always give the option to ‘checkout as guest’.
Product quality is a very important factor considered when making a purchase for goods and services online. However, when buying online you don’t have a guarantee of the products quality. Reviews are not always reliable and there are many fraudulent sellers who intentionally mislead customers. As the volume of e-commerce goods rises, it can be difficult to ensure top-quality checks are taking place on each and every product. Additionally, sizing remains to be a huge issue when buying clothing and shoes online, sizes vary from each brand and as the customer can’t try on the products, selecting a size can be a risk.
A common predicament when shopping online is, when will the item be delivered? Most e-commerce website have tracking systems for customers, but they are not always accurate. Delivery drivers often arrive whilst the customer is at work or they leave the delivery in an exposed place. The same issue also occurs with returning products, as some people may live in rural areas with no local post-offices and some e-commerce sites still don’t provide return services.
Digital payments can be risky, a faltering internet connection may cause your credit/debit card to be declined or the order could go through more than once and retrieving a refunded payment can be a slow process. The e-commerce sector is trying to improve and focus more on cashless transactions. However, additional charges are still common especially, shipping charges and on many shopping sites customers may get added charges on each individual product and not the collective order.
Cyber security, is a major problem on the internet, e-commerce sites have customers important data, name, phone number, address, bank details etc. All sites need to ensure they have top-quality cyber security measures. Online shopping is so convenient and many people still don’t fully understand the need for stringent cyber security.
If e-commerce sites can improve their product quality, delivery, payment and security issues, they will expand their customer base and therefore, generate more sales.
Online Shopping Top Tips
Want to understand how you can you become an online shopping expert? These top tips may help you to ensure you don’t get caught out by scams, find yourself with clothes that don’t fit or products that don’t meet your expectations.
- Don’t rush – find an item you want, add it to your shopping basket and have a few hours or days to think about the item. Retailers can view your shopping activity and may send you an email with a discount code, motivating you to purchase that item you have been thinking about it.
- Second-hand markets – try to introduce eco-shopping into your usual shopping routine; shop in charity shops, use online second-hand websites, vintage clothes sites and browse around, this can help with donations towards organisations that matter and make a difference.
- Vouchers – use voucher codes where you can, you may find yourself getting 20% off your purchase, because you signed up to their website. There are many different voucher sites or newspapers and magazines regularly have discount codes inside.
- Safety – ensure you are browsing on a safe website and using a secure Wi-Fi connection.
- Research – read reviews, look at the company’s social media accounts and try to find other customers wearing that same item of clothing, ensure you are buying a top-quality product before buying.
- Social media – follow fashion blogs or retail social media accounts, sign up to emails and keep up to date with the latest news about certain products, helping you to stay informed of the latest trends.
Your Online Store
For customers, clear approval marks awarded by external companies can help people to be certain the products are top-quality. Therefore, product inspections can help to ensure your online shop is trustworthy.
Building trust with your customers can help your online business to succeed, making deeper connections and helping to gain confidence of your consumers. If a customer begins to associate a face with a company, it creates loyalty and the customer feel more appreciated.
Word of mouth can be a persuasive force when purchasing online, as 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising. The higher quality products, the higher chance of receiving positive reviews, and consumer recommendations.
Product quality can also be improved through customer service, opting for a good online consultation service through online chats with top-service personnel or trained stylists can help advice the customer and may lead to an increase in sales.
Ensuring your prices match with the product quality is very important when running an e-commerce business, customers are willing to pay more if they are convinced that the higher price signals better quality. Set fair prices, monitor the prices and products of your competitors and match to your own products.
Perfecting the quality of your products has many benefits for e-commerce businesses, ensuring your business has trust, credibility and loyalty from customers will gain repeat sales and positive recommendations, helping to gain a wider customer base.
With over 25 years of experience in quality assurance, HQTS is ready to help your online business build a robust quality assurance process. Our many service locations are prepared to be your one-stop-shop for your e-commerce inspection needs, Including, production monitoring, pre-shipment and sorting inspections and everything in between. Contact us today to find out how we can help you navigate current quality control challenges.