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Power Retail and Australia Post report predicts outstanding eCommerce quarter: How businesses can prepare

With 9.1 Million households shopping online in the 2021 financial year, the pandemic has made eCommerce big business.  In preparation for what is forecast to be a record-breaking quarter for online shopping, a new report from Power Retail and Australia Post provides insight on the eCommerce sector. 

Increased online shopping 

Lockdowns are keeping people at home, but not keeping them from shopping. The report found that when in lockdown, people shop more online. In Sydney, comparing year on year data, the report showed a 48.2 per cent increase in online shopping activity compared to 2020. 

Similarly, in Victoria, comparing week on week data when Victoria ended lockdown six, online shopping clicks increased by 14.5 per cent. 

Power retail has forecast that the next four months of 2021 will see record-breaking eCommerce revenues, expecting 17 per cent growth on last year. The report stated that “While lockdowns caused volatility in revenue, the online surge we saw in the calendar year 2020 has had long-term impacts, shifting shopper behaviour online in a more permanent way.” 

As shopper sentiments have shifted to online, businesses can find ways to make the most of this. 

The report highlighted key areas which online businesses need to get right to drive revenues:

Cart abandonment 

Communicating shipping costs  too late in the shopping processes is causing customers to abandon their carts. Power retails data showed that 86 per cent of customers would abandon their cart if shipping costs were withheld too long. 

Additionally, 96 per cent will abandon their cart if shipping costs are too high. The report found that for a small item, i.e. garments, stationery, on average, a delivery cost of more than $8.61 will cause a customer to abandon their cart. On larger items, i.e. furniture, a delivery cost of more than $97.44 is cause to leave their cart. 

Offering alternative pickup or delivery options can encourage customers to complete their purchases. According to data from Australia Post, apart from delivery to the home, the two most popular places to collect a parcel are the post office or a 24/7 smart locker. 

Making sure customers can collect their parcels outside of business housing is vital. Australia Post data shows 40 per cent of customers prefer to collect a package outside of business hours.  

Click and Collect 

The report showed that having a competitive click and collect option may make a big difference in consumers’ choice of online retailers. Power Retail’s data showed that 31 per cent of customers would not purchase from an online store that doesn’t offer a click and collect. 

According to the report, 66 per cent of top 100 eCommerce retailers offer click and collect options to their customers, while 27 per cent outside of the top 100 offer click and collect. 

The report stated, “Retailers need to think creatively when it comes to fulfilment. That means multiple shipping options and ensuring you’re meeting customer expectations.” 

Tracking and customer experience 

Communication is key. With the increase of online shopping, staying in touch with online customers is more important than ever. Having an option for accessible, hassle-free communication helps create a positive shopping experience. 

The report stated, “Consumer behaviour is changing, with a 101% year on year increase in downloads of Australia Post’s app and 235+ million visits to the app in the financial year 2021. It’s also important to consider Live Chat to boost customer experience.”

Customers expect to communicate with a retailer; this is evidenced by the number of online retailers using online customer assistant services. 

According to the report, 63 per cent of the top 100 eCommerce retailers provide an online assistant or customer service software. This is compared to 47 per cent of those outside of the 100 offering a similar service.  

Returns policy 

Finally, a robust returns policy will help customers feel confident and comfortable in their purchases.

According to the report, 47 per cent of shoppers found it difficult to return an item. The top two reasons for finding difficulty in the process were finding an opportunity to drop the item at an appropriate drop off point and having difficulty repackaging the item. Forty-four per cent of shoppers found it challenging to repackage their return. 

According to Australia Post, “Making the return process easier, doesn’t just mean

free returns.” Below are their tips for making sure customers have a hassle-free returns process.

  • Send parcels in re-usable packaging suitable for return.
  • Offer generous return windows, e.g. 30 days.
  • Provide a returns barcode that enables a return label to be printed at a Post Office or drop off point. 
  • Let your customers know about the drop off points that are available, including Australia Post’s red Street Posting Boxes.

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