Survey reveals online retailers will focus on sales in 2021

E-commerce has proven to be a key driver to maintaining and even boosting business in 2020, with the majority (84 per cent) of Australians now shopping online and a third (33 per cent) preferring to shop online more than before the pandemic.

Now, new research from a leading parcel delivery service reveals that online retailers will continue to work hard to drive online sales, over building their social media presence or spending on marketing.

The findings were derived from an independent survey of 163 online Australian retailers, commissioned by CouriersPlease (CP). Last year, CP experienced 80 per cent growth in parcel delivery volumes, compared with 2019.

CP presented respondents with nine common business priorities, from sales and marketing, to expansion of their stock and online presence. The survey asked respondents which strategies they focused on before the shutdowns in March last year, and they could choose multiple priorities.

More than half (56 per cent) worked on driving repeat customers, 36 per cent expanded their product range, 27 per cent worked on differentiating their brand from competitors, an equal 33 per cent focused on customer acquisition and increased their online or social media presence, and 20 per cent grew their e-commerce offering.

Respondents were then asked to identify what their main business focus will be after the economy opens completely in 2021. The data reveals that sales will be the focus for 52 per cent: 28 per cent of respondents will prioritise customer acquisition, and 24 per cent driving repeat customers.

In contrast, marketing will be the main focus for just 20 per cent of online retailers. Thirteen (13) per cent will focus most on differentiating their brand from competitors, and 6 per cent of retailers will increase their online or social media presence as a priority, even with one quarter (24 per cent) of Aussie shoppers making purchases through social media.

Surprisingly, a negligible proportion of retailers (2 per cent) will improve their returns or exchange processes as a priority this year and just one (1) per cent will mainly focus on opening or expanding their stores. Just 11 per cent will grow their e-commerce offering this year.

“While many online retailers experienced an increase in sales during the shutdowns, our survey suggests that sales will remain a priority in 2021. It is important that retailers consider ways to grow sales as the economy recovers and consumer spending increases," said Paul Roper, Chief Commercial Officer. “As bricks and mortar stores continue to face challenges, retailers that do not have an e-commerce strategy in place should consider pivoting online as soon as possible. More consumers have become comfortable with online and social channels to make purchases, presenting a great opportunity for bricks and mortar retailers to shift to an omnichannel offering.”

The full survey results, including breakdowns across organisation size and industries, can be found here: couriersplease.com.au/Portals/0/etailerfocus_whitepaper_feb21.pdf

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