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Report: December to be Biggest Online Shopping Quarter on Record. Are you Prepared?

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By Published On: September 15, 20210 Comments

August has recorded the largest week in e-commerce in 2021 to date, and we're just getting started! Are you ready for what's next?

As anyone in online retail knows, the impact of the pandemic is enormous. The latest research in Australia Post and Power Retail Insights, shows that in the eight weeks to 21 August 2021, online shopping purchase volume in NSW grew 48.2% year on year. With extension of lockdowns announced in Victoria, Australia Post saw 14.5% growth of Victorian online shopping purchase volume week-on-week in the seven days to 21 August 2021. This resulted in the largest week in e-commerce in 2021 to date.

While the short-term impacts of rolling lockdowns are huge, we also know that spikes in shopper behaviour don’t exist in a vacuum. Australians don’t just shop online when restrictions are tightened and then return to in-store shopping like nothing ever happened.

As we saw throughout the first half of 2021, the online surge in 2020 has had lasting impacts. Even when Australians were out of lockdown (remember those days?), the restrictions in the previous year had shifted shoppers online in a more permanent way. E-commerce revenue continued to grow (on top of already enormous 2020 lockdown levels). Power Retail is forecasting e-commerce revenue to grow 17% on calendar year 2020. This takes into account the growth we’ve seen so far, as well as modelling based on real-time shopper behaviour and traffic to e-commerce businesses.

Are you prepared for what’s next? What practical steps can you take to ensure you’re getting it right as we approach the holiday season?

The research shows that for many consumers, it’s clear and transparent communication that is key. For example, 86% of consumers will abandon the cart if shipping costs are communicated too late in the experience. Whatever your costs (whether it is a threshold for free delivery, price dependant on location, free delivery or a set pricing) consumers want to know what to expect prior to adding to cart. Ensure this messaging is front and centre.

Another pandemic behaviour change? Shoppers are using Click & Collect more than ever before. While many retailers introduced Click & Collect as a response to lockdowns, we can see it’s here to stay. In fact, 66% of the Top 100 online retailers in Australia offer a Click & Collect service, whereas only 27% outside of the Top 100 offer this service. When it comes to measuring yourself against the benchmark, the results are in. In fact, 31% of online shoppers said they would be likely to abandon cart if Click & Collect was not offered.

We know that retailers are focused on preparing for the holiday season, but are you keeping in mind the post-Christmas season too? On average, 27.5% of shoppers have returned an item in the last 6 months. In November 2020 to January 2021, this peaked at 30%. Record parcel volumes also means record returns. Ensuring a seamless end-to-end customer experience means ensuring that returns are part of your strategy. Australia Post’s top tip? Send parcels in re-usable packaging suitable for return, provide a returns barcode that enables a return label to be printed at a Post Office or drop off point and communicate clearly (including your generous returns window and available drop off points).

With the explosion of online shopping, customer expectations are higher than ever. For many retailers, this doesn’t mean making huge changes overnight, it means focusing on the basics and getting them right. For example, did you know website stock levels are still an issue and 54% of shoppers have had an order cancelled by the retailer after purchase because the product they ordered actually wasn’t available? It’s no surprise that more than three quarters of those shoppers would then either abandon their purchase altogether or shop elsewhere. These are all actionable issues that can be rectified by retailers.

The December 2021 quarter is forecast to be the biggest quarter of online shopping on record. To help prepare retailers, Australia Post and Power Retail have teamed up to give retailers the support they need during this period through targeted insights on the Australian e-commerce sector. Download it here to find out exactly what you need to ensure the coming months are your most successful yet.

The e-commerce landscape is changing. With a Power Retail Switched On membership, you get access to current e-commerce revenue and forecasting, traffic levels, average conversion rate, payment preferences and more! Sign up today and receive an exclusive 10% off an annual membership.

About the Author: Natasha Scholl

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