eCommerce Challenges and Opportunities For Online Businesses in 2019

eCommerce Challenges and Opportunities for Online Businesses in 2019

Cart abandonment, customer acquisition, and brand awareness make for some tricky eCommerce challenges faced by online businesses. For your online business to sustain in the long run, you need to figure a way around these eCommerce challenges.

eCommerce challenges

To better understand eCommerce challenges and opportunities for online businesses, we spoke to Greg Zakowicz, Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst, speaker and presenter.

He has been published and quoted by top business publications, including Forbes, MultiChannel Merchant, and Internet Retailer.

Here’s his take on eCommerce challenges and opportunities. Read on!

1. What are some of the biggest eCommerce challenges that new online businesses are facing?

The two eCommerce challenges that immediately come to mind are brand differentiation and a combination of brand awareness and customer acquisition.

Differentiating your new brand from existing ones is tough, and it’s imperative for new eCommerce businesses to create a unique value-prop for their consumers that helps them stand out. Product availability is widespread, which means pricing between retailers is usually comparable.

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This leaves brand differentiation as the major factor in sales. Differentiate your brand by focusing on other elements that matter to consumers: the speed and cost of shipping, the principles your brand values, and customer-first service policies.

The other challenge is brand awareness and customer acquisition. Growing your customer base, and especially your email database is critical once you’ve set up your eCommerce website.

Email marketing continues to be one of the highest-performing digital marketing channels for retailers, and targeted email marketing is an effective way to continue conversations and extend your brand awareness.

Companies need to focus on growth tactics like using a pop-up sign-up, exit intent pop-ups, prominent sign-up boxes on your website, and social media to capture email addresses for marketing.

2. What, according to you, are some of the top reasons for cart abandonment during checkout?

It’s estimated that 83% of consumers abandon carts because of either cost or availability of products elsewhere. This is significant. Being able to close the sale is critical — if you don’t, someone else will.

Look at the cost and speed of shipping. Consumers are increasingly willing to pay a premium for expedited shipping, as long as the product price and delivery time are reasonable.

If your competitor offers a lower price and/or free three-day shipping, the extra cost of expedited two-day shipping may seem too much for the customer to justify the additional cost and speed of delivery.

Return policies also factor into cart abandonment rates. If you charge for return shipping or have a short window for returns, it may prompt customers to take a pause during checkout. This can be more important for retail than other verticals.

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Take a clothing retailer, for example. Proper size and fit are essential for the consumer to be satisfied with their purchase, but until they try the product on, that satisfaction is not a guarantee. If your company charges for returns, the customer is far more likely to explore alternatives before they commit.

And of course, a poor checkout process matters. What does this mean? Not being mobile-friendly is certainly on the top of the list. Consumers increasingly shop on their phones, and they’ll stray if they can’t quickly and easily see the details of their purchase, enter their information, and submit payment details.

Sites have gotten better at this but keeping the number of checkout pages to a minimum is also important. Moving through five checkout pages can be too cumbersome for people. Allowing them to move quickly, regardless of their device, is key to capturing the sale.

3. Is there any way to capture an abandoned cart when a person chooses to shop as a guest?

Yes, there is. The first step is to make sure you actually have a guest checkout option available. I still run into websites where registration is required, which turns many consumers away. Assuming that it’s actually an option, setting an email capture point during the process is all you’ll need to capture that information.

This way, if they abandon and come back, you’ll be able to retain that shopping cart for a continued checkout. This capture point also allows for targeting abandoners through cart abandonment emails.

4. In your experience, how effective is push-type marketing for an eCommerce business?

This depends on your definition of “effective.” For some, “effective” would be closing a sale. For others, it would be to supply information to the consumer. In both cases, the desired goal is met.

Like with any marketing tactic, the value comes through executing a well-thought-out strategy. Sending repetitive messaging will have a short shelf-life and see diminishing returns. Sending push messaging that is relevant, such as with location-based messaging, will have a greater value to the recipient.

Push notifications like shipping updates can be effective for building consumer confidence as it offers a better customer experience. While there may not be an immediate sale associated with the message, it might still be “effective.”

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At the end of the day, the question centers on value. Push notifications are meant to be read in near-real time. The question you need to ask yourself is, “does this message provide value to the recipient at the moment it is sent?”

I think we are still in relative infancy when it comes to push notifications, and I’m skeptical of consumers accepting these messages as a reasonable “batch-and-blast” marketing tool. I think consumer acceptance of push notifications from retailers will center on location-based targeting and transactional-type messaging.

5. Which marketing channels (such as social media, email marketing, content marketing, etc.) help the most in terms of sales?

Email continues to be one of the digital channels with the highest ROI. With a powerful email marketing provider like Oracle Bronto, a retailer can send and automate personalized emails to their customers.

This includes automated messages such as cart and browse-based abandonment and day-to-day emails that include intuitive product recommendations and dynamic content. These messages have a high ROI, but they also provide consumers with a better overall experience, helping build customer engagement and loyalty.

I can’t think of a single successful retailer today who doesn’t do email marketing, but I do see some that don’t have other elements such as social media or content marketing. If everyone uses email, that should tell you something!

That said, while email marketing is an extremely powerful tool, most successful retailers find ways to make different channels work in conjunction with one another.

For instance, a retailer could send a post-purchase email that guides the recent consumer to a related product care video on YouTube, which is then shared by that customer on social media. This combines email marketing, content marketing, and social media.

Just as there are more products available to consumers than ever, they’re interacting with brands in more ways than ever. Successful retailers, especially new ones, need to focus on all channels relevant to their audiences to truly maximize sales.

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