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sasha-polishchak
Written by
Sasha Polishchak
Partnerships Manager at Gepard
CONTENTS
eCommerce challenges eCommerce trends PIM product data

Top 8 eCommerce Challenges & How To Overcome Them

12 min read
April 22, 2022

eCommerce challenges in today’s dynamic digital world are something that the majority of businesses can relate to. But challenges are there to be solved. In this article, we will cover the top 8 issues that the eCommerce & online shopping industry faces and the path to overcoming them.

Impact Of A Rapidly Changing Global World On eCommerce & Online Shopping

In the last few decades, pop culture combined with Internet technologies has propelled globalization at an unprecedented pace. Today more than ever, relatively minor events that occur in one part of the globe have a major potential at affecting the entire world. This frequently sets serious obstacles for businesses around the world. But the good news is that businesses can leverage consumer trends and use them as a secret weapon to overcome these drawbacks.

Perhaps among some of the biggest recent world-shifting events that happened is the Covid-19 pandemic. Businesses of all types had to find ways to adapt to constantly changing requirements and in a matter of weeks doing things online became the new normal. Any business that didn’t have some sort of online presence either successfully adopted an eCommerce strategy or simply stopped operating. All of this has caused a dramatic rise in global eCommerce sales that hit $4.9 trillion in 2021.

Additionally, among the top emerging tendencies that can be seen as a result of the eCommerce boom in 2020 is the use of personalization in customers’ digital experience. The reason behind this is not just because personalization supports business objectives but because consumers themselves want personalization when shopping online.

Ever since smartphones became a normal part of our lives, machine learning and artificial intelligence technology have significantly advanced. Each year more and more companies tap into the potential of deploying AI technology in eCommerce business operations. As we enter the transformative new era denoted by an exponential growth in data, robotics, and intelligence, it is estimated that the AI market in eCommerce will rise from the current $3 billion to $17 billion by 2028.

Not so long ago social media was a “college kids” thing, today it’s a powerful tool that is used in everything from building a strong PR for corporations to shaping public opinion. Touching every business aspect, in recent years social media became an integral part of eCommerce. With billions of people on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and TikTok it became a new norm to look for products using these platforms. By the end of 2022, the global revenue from social commerce is expected to reach $751 billion.

In the last two years, the eCommerce industry has been experiencing a boom like never before and it became clear that this will be the dominant way people shop in the future. With a long list of advantages that buying online has, there are some downsides to it, one important part is the fact that you can’t see or touch the product before buying it. Every obstacle has a solution and this is exactly what visual commerce sets out to do. User-generated content, 360 degrees product images, videos, and virtual try-on tools are just some components of visual commerce that every online shop owner should consider utilizing.

What Are The eCommerce Challenges That Businesses Face

1. An Increasing Demand For Data Protection And Cybersecurity

Malware and other cyber threats are increasingly becoming an issue both for business and regular Internet users. For example in 2020 alone, malware detections amounted to a total of 678 million times, and 92% of them were delivered via emails.

With high statistics such as these, average online shoppers today are well aware of all cyber threats. Therefore an online store or a marketplace that not only takes its security seriously but also demonstrates it and as a result builds consumer trust.

Additionally, having a strong data privacy protection and cybersecurity policy is extremely vital and can be implemented by taking some practical steps.

  • Security Plugins

Whether it’s Magento, Shopify, or WooCommerce, all eCommerce platforms have advanced third-party security plugins. Exploring the potential of such add-ons can boost your security layer and often are a more budget-friendly option.

  • Scheduled data backup and software updates

When running day-to-day operations such as stock keeping, order processing, product uploading, and so on, some tasks can fall between the cracks and be forgotten. Security-related issues simply can not be neglected, therefore it’s best to automate all relevant firewall, antivirus, and anti-malware software updates along with data backups.

  • Strong hosting provider

You can install a hundred firewalls and anti-malware plugins for your online store but they will be worth nothing if your hosting provider is not secure. Of course most providers today have strong built-in security but it’s still important to choose the one that meets your needs best and has strong scalability performance.

  • Choosing payment gateway

Perhaps the most sensitive part of any online store is when the user gets to the shopping cart to begin checking out and handing over credit card information. When choosing a payment gateway you go the extra mile and thoroughly research its security capabilities, level-1 PCI DSS compliance, and chargeback policies.

What Ar Some eCommerce Challenges?

2. Differentiating Yourself From The Competition

Compared to brick and mortar retail, selling online is full of unlimited opportunities with significantly reduced operational costs and global market reach. But with large potential, there is equally fierce competition that makes the eCommerce business a challenging one.

Analyzing competitors that are selling similar product lines that your online store does is a crucial success element. This should be done not to adopt ideas from the competition but on the contrary, to do things differently that will set you apart. An effective competitor analysis can potentially help you set a different sales approach. The analysis can be done with the help of digital tools such as Google Trends and Analytics. These tools can help you understand what product-related keywords customers are searching for and where they shop. Additionally, you can buy from your competitor and even go through the returns process in order to have a complete customer journey picture and understand which points you can improve.

Of course, standing out from your competitors is not the only ingredient in a successful eCommerce strategy. Another key aspect is analyzing your target market. The most basic step in this process is building a buyer persona for your product. All of this can be done through a series of analytical reviews of the product you are selling. Understanding who would buy it, their age, gender, social demographic, and psychographics.

3. Meeting Consumers’ Expectations

Consumers today are well aware of how online shopping functions and more than ever have certain expectations from their online shopping experience. These expectations in fact became the new normal for customers’ digital experience.

  • Free returns and free shipping

The latest market data suggests that 57% of online shoppers want reliable and simple returns when buying online and 80% will simply not buy from an online shop without a returns policy. So simply having a returns policy today is not enough, it also needs to be an easy one for consumers to understand and manage. For an online store owner reducing returns is vital but managing them is equally important. The best way to go about it is by integrating a Returns Management System that handles the full cycle of the returns process with prepaid shipping labels.

Most people want fast shipping and are willing to pay extra for it. However, free shipping still plays a big role in customers’ buying decisions and is an absolute must. When offering free shipping always make sure to specify the carrier and list a notice that this delivery method takes a certain amount of time.

  • Reliable customer service

Just like in any industry customer service plays a significant role in an eCommerce business, so much so that 84% of shoppers report it as a key factor in their purchase decision. To upgrade the shopping experience and ease the workload that customer service produces, consider integrating Help Desk software and developing a detailed FAQ page. Additionally, having live chat support can be a big boost in brand trust.

  • Intuitive and responsive websites

Just a few years ago developing mobile-friendly websites was on the rise, today it is a new norm, and even the term itself transformed into mobile-first. With 73% of all eCommerce being done on mobile devices, the UX design of your online shop should incorporate all of the latest standards that make a well-developed, intuitive, and responsive website.

  • A large variety of payment methods

A major reason behind shopping cart abandonment is the lack of a relevant payment method. Every consumer has their preferences when it comes to paying online, whether it’s PayPal, Amazon Pay, Apple pay, or Google pay, make sure to install as many payment options in your online shop. Most payment gateways don’t cost anything to install and charge a transaction fee with a certain percentage of the total order value.

  • A personalized shopping experience

With 80% of online shoppers more likely to buy from an online store that offers a personalized shopping experience, it’s important to install a recommendation engine. Before selecting the right one for your online store, research all of the types that exist and which one fits your needs and budget. Product data that users interact with helps personalization engines make relevant suggestions. More complex systems use a number of criteria such as previously collected cookies, search history, and so on.

Why Customers Need Personalized Experience

4. Enhancing Customers’ Digital Experience

Today customers distinguish between online and offline shopping less and less as digitalization is happening at lightning speed. This means that online shopping is a constantly evolving field that pushes businesses to always innovate their eCommerce strategy.

To adopt and implement a successful strategy it’s critical to perform a lot of touchpoint measuring across your website. See where customers respond better to particular product placement or CTA messages and understand where improvements need to be made.

Analyzing your customers’ behaviors throughout their shopping session will not only allow you to make adjustments but also develop an omnichannel strategy. This means that you will be able to raise your business performance in multiple sales channels.

5. The Struggle of Pricing, Shipping & Order Fulfillment

There are a lot of factors that go into customers’ buying decisions, some of them mentioned earlier. However, when it comes down to buying something or not, the most basic factor is not the returns policy, fast shipping, or advanced personalization feature but the price of the product. And this is exactly the area where a lot of businesses struggle. Implementing the right pricing strategy is what guarantees your success. The best strategy simply does not exist and highly depends on your business needs:

  • Cost-plus – price is specified by adding an exact fixed percentage;
  • Competition-based – price fluctuates according to those of the competitors;
  • Value-based – based on the perceived product value for the customer;
  • Price skimming – start with a high price and gradually decrees;
  • Loss-leader – a lower price than the market average to draw initial buyers;
  • Dynamic – no set price, can be adjusted based on the market situation;
  • Premium – intentionally high price to stimulate artificial product value;
  • Anchor – a demonstrated discounted price from a notably higher one.

Once you are settled on the pricing model to go with the next challenge is shipping and order fulfillment. The main issue with shipping is the loss or damage of packages, delays, and wrong address delivery. If shipping is handled by a third party, there is not a lot that an online shop can do to fix these errors. However, there are some precautions that can be taken.

Make sure that you both insure and use better packaging for high-value products to minimize your losses. Using shipping services from the same provider on a contractual agreement can greatly decrease shipping expenses. Additionally, depending on the scale of your business, using a vendor’s warehouse close to your main clientele area can provide faster and smoother order fulfillment.

6. Increasing Number of Regulations

To add to the already existing numerous hurdles, online retailers need to comply with a growing number of industry standards. Observing any new legal framework is always a struggle but in the long run has its benefits.

The benefits vary from new market opportunities to overall improved product quality. Additionally, they allow for new international partnerships to be formed eliminating any legal obstacles. Some of the main industry standards that most retailers need to comply with are:

  • EPREL – energy labeling regulation body that operates on the EU market. Essentially anyone who wishes to sell energy-labeled products in the EU needs to follow this standard.
  • GDSN – a global synchronized network that allows companies to share product data in a standardized manner with trading partners. Being a part of this network can ease the process of listing certain products on different marketplaces.
  • ETIM – is a universal standard for the industrial sector that is used throughout Europe. Following the standard gives companies access to an ETIM data pool application that can boost operational efficiency.
  • APPLIA – Europe-based systematized product information standard for home appliance manufacturers. As a retailer, you simply can not sell products to the EU market that don’t comply with this standard.

7. Catch Up With Enterprise eСommerce Trends

As we enter the second quarter of 2022 some enterprise eCommerce trends can be seen taking place in the industry.

  • Omnichannel Strategy – today there is no clear line between regular commerce and eCommerce as both become more intertwined. It’s important to understand this and to start leveraging all possible channels to boost sales.
  • Automation & Reshaping Technology Stack – being static will eventually lead to a decline. With rapid advancements in software, always review the latest releases and see where you can implement them.
  • Customizing Product Options – more and more consumers today don’t just want to buy a complete product they want to have an option to customize it. This is especially relevant for clothing products. Adding such options will improve the customers’ digital experience.
  • Voice Search And Virtual Assistants – with 4.2 billion digital voice assistants in use globally, your website’s content should be optimized to appear in search results done via virtual assistants.
  • Customer-Centric Approach – this usually creates an excellent customer experience and builds brand loyalty. With the strong competition that eCommerce has in 2022, reviewing your policies and seeing where they can be adjusted to be more customer-centric is more important than ever.

What Are Some eCommerce Trends?

8. Automation And Product Data Management

With automation and accurate product data management, challenges your sales and marketing team face can be easily solved. Additionally, any automation frees up your staff and allows them to focus on other tasks. In return, this process will aid your eCommerce business with growth.

According to the latest analytical report that was done by Mckinsey, B2Bs with superior digital and automation capabilities generated an 18% total return to shareholders, compared with 10% for the rest of the field.

Choose the Right Technology To Fix Your eCommerce Challenges

A big part of these challenges can be solved with eCommerce product information management software. Thanks to its features Gepard PIM presents a number of solutions and can be used by different companies that have different challenges.

Among the top features that Gepard PIM offers are:

  • Simple Data Syndication

Our solution provides users an option of syndicating their product information to multiple eCommerce channels. These can be platforms such as Amazon, Bol.com marketplace, Shopify-based online store, etc.

  • Automated Data Import

Handling large volumes of data is always a tedious task that is prone to mistakes. Besides reducing the number of mistakes, by automating many data-related processes as a business owner you can free up your resources and allocate them elsewhere.

  • Data Validation

When it comes to managing an online shop it’s important to have the right tools to avoid errors that can arise from complicated procedures of product data handling and reconciling taxonomies. Gepard PIM precisely offers these tools that allow data to be validated and for any potential errors seamlessly be corrected.

  • Seamless Content Creation

Any eCommerce professionals know the hassle of collecting, sorting and keeping track of product data across different marketplaces that you work with. Having an advanced platform that allows delegating tasks and setting up a standardized workflow eliminates the trouble of constantly worrying that the relevant information is syndicated across your sales channels.

  • Automated Data Transformations For Retailers

Coming up with a workflow for distributing your catalog is only one part of the process. Various platforms where the information is being uploaded have different format requirements. This is where our PIM solution comes in and automates the file conversion process.

  • Intuitive Interface

Adding a new tool to your tech stack can be a challenge when it comes to training employees to use it. This is exactly why PIM software needs to be efficient but also easy to use on an intuitive level.

  • User Management

In any process, each team member plays a specific role and it’s no different when it comes to product information workflow. Therefore it’s important to choose a PIM tool that allows you to set individual access permissions.

  • Bulk Operations

Automation is what guarantees the success of any workflow but sometimes whether it’s adding or removing a new product or updating an SKU, you want to have the ability to do some tasks manually. Thus there should always be an option of performing bulk actions when performing manual tasks.

  • Filters

Besides bulk operations, when switching to manual information processing it’s still important to have efficient tools that are time savers. Filtering your data is one of those simple yet effective tools.

  • Product Content Analytics

This feature enables access to detailed insights into your product content. By gaining this information you can draw conclusions on how users will interact with a product page and where potential adjustments need to be made.

eCommerce Challenges FAQ

What are the reasons for the failure of the eCommerce business?

There can be a lot of different reasons such as wrong price strategy, poor product marketing, bad UX/UI design, and bad product presentation.

How to build a successful eCommerce strategy?

Many elements go into a successful strategy, such as accurate goal-setting, correct target audience research, effective product description, etc.

What is PIM in eCommerce?

A PIM software that can be used in the eCommerce field allows the gathering of managing and enriching product information, and assists in product catalog creation and its distribution through different channels.

Product Data Management Is The Key

For an eCommerce business to not just succeed but to solidify itself as a leader in a particular niche, correct product data management is a must. Using Gepard’s unique solution your business can reach the next desired level.

Get in touch with us and book your personalized Gepard demo that will set your eCommerce business on the track to success.

Can Product Data Help To Overcome eCommerce Challenges?

sasha-polishchak
Written by Sasha Polishchak
Partnerships Manager at Gepard
Account and Partnerships manager with extensive experience in sales, business development, and communication. Working with Gepard, the product information management & syndication platform, helping to centralize diverse product data and deliver complying content to sales channels.

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