Online retailing
Online retailing is set to gather pace. Photo – Canva.
  • Online retail accelerated during the pandemic, and is set to gather pace
  • 66% e-tailers will put more resources and money into their online function
  • 63% experienced an increase in sales between March and September last year

New research reveals that, following a successful 2020 for online retailing, two-thirds of online retailers are increasing their eCommerce budget this year to drive business further.

The findings come from an independent survey of 145 Australian online retailers (e-tailers), commissioned by parcel delivery service CouriersPlease (CP).

E-tailers were asked how they performed from 23 March (when restrictions were first enforced) through to 4 September 2020, before the peak retail period.

66% of online retailers will put more resources and money into enhancing, growing and maintaining their online function this year.

Various e-tailers’ reactions to the pandemic

CP research
Source: E-tailers’ shifting business focus
and strategies, March 2021.

Among this group, 44% will increase their eCommerce budget by more than 20%, and 18% by more than 40%.

Most (63%) said they experienced an increase in sales between March and September last year. Specifically, a third saw an increase of up to 30%, while 21% experienced an increase of more than half. 22% said their online sales were the same as before lockdown.

Interestingly, 32% of e-tailers said they made no changes to their offer, such as increasing promotions or offering easier returns policies. Despite this, most experienced an organic increase in online sales.

Among those that did make changes:

  • 49% increased their sales and promotions,
  • 45% boosted their social media activity,
  • 35% improved their eCommerce sites,
  • 31% communicated more with customers,
  • 30% incentivised customers, and
  • 21% spent on advertising.

60% of online retailers shifted their business focus last year to increase sales. Most explained that as they saw a decline in sales during the early shutdowns, they took steps to raise sales.

Others expressed their early concerns about a prolonged recession. Australia did enter its first “technical recession” in 28 years in mid-2020 (defined as two successive quarters of negative economic growth).

“Consumers are becoming more comfortable shopping online and the retail sector is continuing to grow. As such, online competition will grow alongside customer expectations, and retailers are best to refine their eCommerce strategies ongoing to ensure they are performing.”

“I believe key areas for improvement within e-tailer online strategies are the customer experience, from product search on the site right through to the last mile delivery.”

Paul Roper, Chief Commercial Officer at CP

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