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What Does Data Tell Us About the Future of eCommerce?

Last updated April 27, 2022 4 min to read
Future of eCommerce

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Business thrives on data, and none more so than eCommerce businesses. Using tools to collect your own data, like a helpdesk, can provide Transaction Intelligence on a small but actionable scale. You can use that data to make immediate improvements to your business.

But what about the big picture? Never fear, eDesk have crunched the numbers from dozens of sources to give you the facts on what the data suggests for eCommerce’s future.

Long-term eCommerce trends

To begin with, it helps to get a feel for how the eCommerce landscape has shifted over the years. Even if you’re already using an eCommerce helpdesk to capture your own Transaction Intelligence, wider context makes that data more valuable.

Let’s look at raw sales vs market share. According to Statista, global eCommerce retail sales totalled a respectable $1.336 trillion in 2014. In 2019, that figure hit $3.535 trillion. Looking forward, it’s predicted that the 2023 figure could be as much as $6.542 trillion.

An increase of nearly 490% in almost 10 years is impressive, but does it tell us the full story? What is eCommerce’s share of the overall retail market? According to Oberlo, that share was 10.4% in 2017. 2020 saw it rise to 16.1%, with a projected 22% by 2023.

So yes, it does indeed look like eCommerce’s raw growth is (very) roughly keeping pace with its growth in market share. Of course, there’s one glaring reason for that which makes for another interesting discussion.

How did coronavirus affect eCommerce?

The disruption caused by the 2020 pandemic accelerated the natural evolution of how people buy products. Pre-pandemic data from Nasdaq predicted 95% of UK purchases would be made online by 2040. Let’s see if more recent data suggests an even faster rise.

Our own research, conducted in partnership with GDR Creative Intelligence, weighs up the biggest winners in this shift towards online purchasing. Despite the US retail sector seeing a 16.4% drop in sales in April 2020 (19% in the UK, even China saw a 15.8% drop that March), eCommerce has stepped up to fill the gap.

Online sales saw a 26% sales increase between March and May 2020. That figure is nearly 20% in the UK and a massive 66% in the Nordic countries.

Pandemics aren’t a regular event (thankfully) but data seems to suggest that anything which disrupts regular retail is good news for eCommerce. The 2002-2004 SARS epidemic created conditions for Alibaba to dominate Chinese retail.

Given that we live in disruptive times, even relatively small events could open up opportunities for eCommerce to hit that 95% sales figure well ahead of 2040.

How are consumers reacting to new eCommerce trends?

The way in which eCommerce puts power in customers’ hands is unprecedented. As its market share grows and grows, that’s only going to accelerate. Using an eCommerce helpdesk like eDesk is a good start towards making interactions with your brand more positive, but what does that look like in practice?

For one thing, it means more profit for you. 86% of buyers are happy to pay more for a product if the experience is good. 68% will choose a brand they know to be more expensive if that brand has a reputation for good customer service.

Crafting that positive experience is a question of personalisation and being proactive.

Creating a good eCommerce customer experience

It may feel counterintuitive, but 68% of customers actually like it when brands reach out, as long as that communication feels genuine and adds value. To achieve that, personalize your message. Personalized customer experiences can boost online conversion by around 8%.

That builds loyalty. Loyal customers are seven times more likely to test out a new product, five times as likely to keep buying from you, and four times as likely to refer friends to you.

Given that it’s between five and 25 times cheaper to retain an existing customer than it is to get new ones, investment in customer service tools and processes pays off big. How big? Around 8% more revenue per year.

Investing in eDesk’s new Smart Insights tool has proven to be a masterstroke for many eCommerce sellers. It provides one-click multichannel overviews of customer support volumes, orders and sales at speed, uncovering actionable insights for better business decisions. Product insights can identify relationships between events, such as understanding why refunds are being processed at a customer, agent or product level, enabling appropriate action to be taken. These insights can enable retailers to make real improvements to their service and overall profitability, and powerful tools such as this paint a bright future for eCommerce sellers.

What happens if you get it wrong?

Failing to invest in customer service risks reputational and financial damage to your business. A third of customers say just one bad interaction is enough to make them consider switching who they shop with. 91% of those who leave won’t even give you a chance to fix things.

Not only will they leave, they’ll also tell their friends. Men will share a bad customer service experience with 21 people, women will tell 10. Even if you get the opportunity to make things right, it takes as many as 12 good experiences to fix the impact of one bad one.

But don’t view all of this as a daunting risk. Take it as a chance to leapfrog your business over other (sometimes much bigger) brands which are failing to invest in good experiences. The right tools can help you do that.

Final thoughts

The data confirms the intuition of many far-sighted eCommerce experts; customer service will make or break a great many businesses in the 2020s. An eCommerce helpdesk like eDesk can give you the advantage in transaction intelligence, translating into a great head start.

But ultimately, it’s your processes and the training you provide your team which will make all the difference. If you’re not already making customer service a top priority, it’s never too late to start reaping those rewards.

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