Trends reveal a bright eCommerce landscape for small retailers

In Australia, parcel shipping volumes are growing by double digits, up 13 per cent since 2016, reaching a volume of 794 million parcels. Much of this growth is driven by eCommerce activity and small retailers – there are 45,000 of them in Australia alone – who are looking to remove the complexities of domestic and cross-border shipping.

The increase in parcel volume reveals growth opportunity for small businesses, however, complexities are also on the rise. With each parcel delivery, small businesses must comply with shipping, addressing and postal regulations. Consumers demand free and fast shipping, even same-day shipping.

Australians spent $21.3 billion shopping online last year, according to Australia Post, and fashion is at the top of the wish list. Statistics from a recent Pitney Bowes Global Online Shopping Survey provide a good backdrop as small retailers strive to achieve four critical goals:

1. Build meaningful relationships with customers

Consumers want personalisation, which prompts retailers to invest in: CRM (79 per cent), customer data management (71 per cent), customer analytics (66 per cent), OMS (54 per cent) and call centers (45 per cent). And, it pays off. In fact, retailers are seeing as much as 30 per cent more conversions from successfully executed digital personalisation efforts.

2. Reach more customers, from anywhere to everywhere

That means going global and reaching consumers that have an affiliation with your brand regardless of where they’re located. Today, 56 per cent of retailers already operate cross-border, and see an average order value that is 17 per cent higher from international customers over domestic ones. Cross-border eCommerce as a whole is growing quickly and is expected to rise by 13 per cent between 2017 and 2021.

China and India are spearheading that movement as the world’s fastest-growing marketplaces; at least half of their online purchases are made through eCommerce marketplaces. With cross-border demand rapidly picking up steam, marketing and demand gen is the single biggest challenge facing retailers’ cross-border expansion efforts.

3. Champion the brand in every customer interaction

What matters most to customers regarding fulfillment is that it’s fast and free. And, if they had to pick just one of those, 86 per cent of consumers really just want free. Rising shipping costs make it difficult to deliver on that, though. Difficult, but not impossible. The path to free, faster shipping lies with seamless technology, knowing each carrier’s strengths and how they relate to your business goals, defining clear business rules on carrier selection and, finding a great partner who can deliver on all three of these.

4. Manage the shipping experience with tracking, on-time delivery and easy returns

Consumers want free returns just like they want free shipping. For some retailers, returns can be a profit center (amounting to $2 to $5 per return), but at the same time, 70 per cent of consumers say they will buy from a brand again if their money has been returned within 24 hours.

Consumers check the tracking of each parcel an average of eight times. They are clicking on your brand to see how you’re doing with each shipment. Treat this as another opportunity to engage whether the merchandise is on the way to someone’s home or on the way back to your warehouse.

When you manage your retail business, of any size, on a global platform with services that strengthen your customer relationships and champion your brand, complexities are removed, customers are delighted, and parcel shipping becomes seamless domestically and across borders.

Stephen Darracott, Country Manager and Director, Pitney Bowes Shipping and Mailing