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5 challenges facing Heads of eCommerce in 2020

January 30 2020

Over the last ten years, eCommerce has witnessed meteoric growth. According to a study from eMarketer, global eCommerce sales will increase to 16% of all sales in 2020. But, as in any industry, the faster the growth, the greater the number of obstacles to success. Here are the five key challenges likely to plague Heads of eCommerce in the year ahead.

1. The continued rise of mobile

Mobile is now one of the most common platforms for consumers to shop online. Four years ago a study by PayPal found almost a third of European online shoppers purchased items on smartphones. And today, 25% of all e-tailer revenue comes from mobile. As new software, security, and purchasing methods continue to break down traditional barriers, mobile eCommerce is expected to steadily grow in 2020.

However, despite the significance of mobile, many retailers are still struggling to optimise their eCommerce website for an m-commerce market. And according to Adobe research, 53% of consumers still aren’t satisfied with retailer mobile sites. To overcome this, businesses should focus on designing a frictionless shopping experience for mobile users that is clear, easy to use, and offers the same quality of experience as a desktop website.

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2. The growth of machine learning

Machine learning (ML) has become a sought-after technology for e-businesses. It provides the opportunity to combine automation, personalisation, and relevance to improve customer experience.

Tech giants such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are all competing to make the technology more accessible. However, many organisations are still unable to utilise the innovative offerings of machine learning. 

This is because machine learning conjures up a variety of challenges. Traditional  ML algorithms require vast data sets to produce tangible insights. Acquiring, using, and hosting big data is not only expensive, but it also take a long time to process and refine.

Additionally, e-tailers often have sparse or frequently changing data, making it difficult to achieve meaningful results from ML algorithms that require big data, creating a significant barrier to innovation.

For the majority of businesses, lack of data, resources, and expertise is still prohibitive to progress. However, machine learning solutions specifically built for the requirements of eCommerce can work with only small amounts of data, and continue understanding even if product attributes change. This helps e-tailers overcome the all-too-common issues with machine learning.  

3. The analysis of data

Since the emergence of the internet age, the growth of data has expanded at an exponential rate. In fact, according to Forbes, more information has been created in recent years than has ever existed before.

This surge in data creation has generated more opportunities to gain meaningful insights into consumer trends through careful analysis, such as analytics. However, gaining this insight is easier said than done.

Many organisations struggle to cut through noisy data and determine what information to gather, how to extrapolate the greatest value, and what decisions to make based on it. In fact, missed metrics and data opportunities are growing concern for eCommerce business leaders. Reports show that in last year, 14% of decision makers expect project waste due to poor planning, and a similar 13% say this is due to poor execution of analytics.

In 2020, e-tailers can't afford to miss out on key customer metrics. Many already use automated customer data analysis to provide personalised and relevant experiences to their shoppers.

Heads of eCommerce should future-proof their IT and technology by identifying and improving the visibility of important metrics using capable and advanced eCommerce technology.

4. Compliance and customer data

GDPR is an acronym that can strike fear into the heart of any organisation. The General Data Protection Regulation came into force in 2018, and redefined the way brands communicate with consumers and their data. If not upheld, businesses can incur significant penalties and sanctions.

In 2020, many e-tailers have adapted to the requirements of GDPR, however an alarming amount of organisations still aren't up to scratch. The European Commission reported that in the first year of GDPR’s implementation, there were approximately 145,000 cases of queries and complaints, and nearly 90,000 notifications of data breaches. This indicates that many businesses still have a long way to go, especially when non-compliance results in costly consequences. 

What's more, growing concern over customer data privacy will become more prominent in 2020. And, this is intensified as demand for new solutions grows. Experts acknowledge that the security and privacy concerns of eCommerce personalisation will slow the time to market of new software, creating a barrier towards innovation for many businesses.

To tackle this challenge, Heads of eCommerce should seek already-available solutions that are built with expert data privacy and security measures, so customer data can be securely managed – while simultaneously providing the high-level personalisation shoppers want. 

5. The choice of technology partnerships

In an ever-evolving, fast-moving, and competitive sector, e-businesses that fail to adapt, fail to survive. Technology has grown to offer organisations more opportunities to market themselves to prospective consumers, and Heads of  eCommerce have been forced to make a greater number of decisions about vendor partnerships. 

During 2020, sustained growth in digital technologies will continue to drive adaptation opportunities, and, more than ever, eCommerce Managers will be forced to make choices that go beyond just email or search platform relationships. Instead, they're looking to adopt more powerful technology.

However, many eCommerce Managers are looking for 'all-in-one' platforms. While comprehensive solutions appear to be powerful and solve a variety problems for e-tailers, the individual features tend to be less advanced, and do not perform like a dedicated solution. The features of the platform aren't built with the same level of dedicated expertise as problem-specific solutions, and ultimately slow down innovation with poor or lacking processes.

Heads of eCommerce should search for eCommerce technology that is compatible with the existing platforms or applications in their business, all while tackling the specific issues they want to overcome.

For example, a dedicated solution that tackles eCommerce data management problems, but is also easy to integrate with current applications or plugins.

In turn, this allows e-tailers gain more from their chosen partnerships thanks to greater, dedicated expertise that helps solve specific problems, all with minimal implementation hassle. 

The future of eCommerce in 2020

The predicted trajectory for the eCommerce market is one of continued growth and prosperity. However, for Heads of eCommerce to ride this wave, successfully navigating the challenges outlined above will be crucial if they want to remain competitive.

To discover a first-hand example of how Loop54 was able to help a global fashion retailer defeat these obstacles and increase on-site conversion rate by 12% and revenue by 97%, read the case study.

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