What to expect in 2019 if you're a growing ecommerce business

By Benoit Boudier

It’s now easier than ever for retailers to set up shop online and have their products available for consumers around the world… in theory. But in practice, the world isn’t truly open to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) until they put the right practices in place. It’s all about the right systems, the right products, and being relevant.

So, how do you get (and stay) relevant? Let’s discuss.

The year of opportunities

The internet has become the catalyst for business growth. This year, we will see more small businesses that started with a local footprint use digital for profit and building a new customer base.

Take fitness and supplement company Predator Nutrition, for example. Founder, Reggie Johal, had just £6,000 to get the business off the ground in its early days. With an online presence, Reggie now has a global footprint and sells online in the US, Sweden, Spain, Italy, Denmark, Norway, Australia, France and Germany.

What started off with just a small investment is now able to take a wealthy wedge of the £800m sports nutrition market, and rake in around 40% of its revenue from outside the UK. The digital world has propelled Predator Nutrition to its leading position in its market – and it’s not the only SMB that will be seeing further success in the next year.


Taking on marketplaces with social media

With the internet come the global goliaths. It may seem like an impossible task, but SMBs can compete in an industry dominated by large online marketplaces. Of course, it’s a challenge to stand out among a crowd of household names. But by offering something niche and of value, the world of ecommerce is open to all.

Predator’s Johal told Ingenico: “While Amazon and eBay are still huge obstacles, the technology is now there for SMBs to be successful online and internationally in a way that it wasn’t 5-10 years ago.”

Thanks to the latest technology, SMBs can outperform bigger players with their depth of knowledge and personal service. This year, we expect to see more ecommerce businesses monetising social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for growth.

Social networks

First step: compliance

As a growing retailer, you need to be aware of the rules and regulations that impact your business. Even though bigger organisations may seem to have better resources, when it comes to compliance it’s not easier for them to keep in line. You can shine too, though, by building compliance into your plans right from the start.

Coming up in September, we will see Secure Customer Authentication (SCA) implemented under PSD2. This will require your customers to authenticate themselves with at least two of the three following methods on every electronic transaction within the EU:

  • Something they know (e.g. pin)
  • Something they possess (e.g. mobile)
  • Something they are (e.g. fingerprint)

Understand what these regulations can mean for your business and use them to grow.


Going global: using peak sales days as an ‘in’

With the right tactics, we will see more consumers turning to specialist retailers for this year’s big sales. Our recent pan-European study on peak sales periods like Black Friday found that up to a quarter of online shoppers choose to shop with small or niche retailers during the sales, instead of turning to larger players.

That’s because competing in the ecommerce industry isn’t just about price: less than half of the UK’s respondents cited discounts as their top attraction to the sales. Two thirds were sceptical of the authenticity of discounts, while over a quarter favoured other incentives such as unique products, loyalty and referral bonuses, an extended returns / exchange window period or free next-day shipping.

IMRG’s Strategy and Insight Director, Andy Mulcahy, told Ingenico: “Black Friday is very closely associated with discounting in the minds of UK shoppers, so most retailers tend to keep their message quite simple and focused on that theme. However, it may be difficult for a small retailer to compete in that way with larger retailers, so they could consider trying an alternative approach; perhaps donating a percentage of each sale to a charity for example instead of discounting, or running community-specific events if they have stores. Another option may be to include some degree of free consultation on the products they sell – which might suit beauty, exercise or electronics – for items purchased during their [peak sales] period.”

What’s more, SMBs without an international presence can use sales days to begin promoting themselves in new markets. It’s a big step but it promises success – nearly half of Belgian consumers opt to shop international, while 40% of French consumers are eager to explore foreign retailer stores online.

Summer sale

Understanding millennials

Ecommerce isn’t necessarily a youngster’s game, however we are seeing a high demand coming from this age group. 18-34-year-olds constitute 73% of the UK’s Black Friday retail audience, with similar demographics throughout mainland Europe. This year, SMBs need to be thinking about how to attract and retain young clientele.

Consumers crave a vibrant and varied retail industry that constantly develops and innovates. So, to keep attracting young and modern consumers, SMBs need to offer a shopping revolution.

Reach out for the mobile

IMRG predicts that online retail growth will fall to 9% year-on-year in 2019, the lowest growth rate recorded since it began monitoring in 2000. These less than impressive growth statistics aren’t anything to be afraid of though. Instead, they need to be met with drive to turn those figures around – and to encourage consumer spending, retailers need to understand what they want.

Data from Wunderman reveals that 54% of UK consumers feel more loyal to brands that show a deep understanding of their preferences and priorities. As newer generations of shoppers are turning straight to their mobile devices before any other commerce avenue, SMBs need to be preparing for this mobile-first reality and ensure their online stores fit easily into consumers’ on-the-go lifestyles.

Mobile optimisation is key for mCommerce as a viable sales channel – finding the perfect balance between convenience and security. And it all revolves around payments conversion.


Convert the conversation

Mobile is also driving conversational commerce, with chatbots expected to grow in value and popularity this year. Not just for product advice, but advertising, customer support and payments. By paying through the chatbot environment, consumers are much less likely to abandon their purchase compared to when they’re transferred to external web browsers – something which we’ve seen first-hand, with our retail partners experiencing a six-fold boost in conversion when piloting chatbots, versus a mobile website.

Keep your eyes (and ears) open

In a plot twist that brings back audibly “asking” for your order, we also expect to see the currently small voice commerce market to grow this year. This budding trend isn’t yet a substantial revenue enhancer so doesn’t yet fit naturally as part of the SMB retail sales strategy. But times are changing fast. By jumping on this trend early, businesses can gain competitive advantage and convey a pioneering brand image.

It’s not just a fad either… voice commerce can improve the customer experience in sectors such as food deliveries and recurring purchases, when the customer knows exactly what they want.

Get to the basics

But let’s not get complicated. To truly thrive this year, start with the basics. Since commerce began, consumers just needed the products they wanted, and trust in where they’re buying them from. It’s no different today. Rely on the right trends, partners and technology to help your business function and your customers will start to rely on you for an unbeatable experience in return.

Benoit Boudier, Managing Director, SMB Online Europe, Ingenico ePayments

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