Survey shows online retailers will focus on sales in 2021

Research commissioned by CouriersPlease reveals several key trends in e-commerce and last mile delivery.

The parcel delivery service company said e-commerce has proven to be a key driver to maintaining and boosting business in 2020. The majority (84 per cent) of Australian now shop online and a third (33 per cent) prefer to shop online more than before the pandemic.

These findings were derived from an independent survey of 163 online Australian retailers.

Last year, CouriersPlease experienced 80 per cent growth in parcel delivery volumes, compared with 2019.

CouriersPlease presented respondents with nine common business priorities, from sales and marketing, to expansion of their stock and online presence. The survey asked respondents which strategies they focused on before the shutdowns in March last year, and they could choose multiple priorities.

More than half (56 per cent) worked on driving repeat customers, 36 per cent expanded their product range, 27 per cent worked on differentiating their brand from competitors, an equal 33 per cent focused on customer acquisition and increased their online or social media presence, and 20 per cent grew their e-commerce offering.

Respondents were then asked to identify what their main business focus will be after the economy opens completely in 2021. The data reveals that sales will be the focus for 52 per cent: 28 per cent of respondents will prioritise customer acquisition, and 24 per cent driving repeat customers.

In contrast, marketing will be the main focus for just 20 per cent of online retailers. Thirteen (13) per cent will focus most on differentiating their brand from competitors, and 6.0 per cent of retailers will increase their online or social media presence as a priority, even with one quarter (24 per cent) of Aussie shoppers making purchases through social media.

Surprisingly, a negligible proportion of retailers (2.0 per cent) will improve their returns or exchange processes as a priority this year and just one (1.0) per cent will mainly focus on opening or expanding their stores. Just 11 per cent will grow their e-commerce offering this year.

“While many online retailers experienced an increase in sales during the shutdowns, our survey suggests that sales will remain a priority in 2021,” said CouriersPlease CCO, Paul Roper.

“It is important that retailers consider ways to grow sales as the economy recovers and consumer spending increases.

“Often, the differentiator between retailers is the customer experience – and the last mile component is where brand differentiation really makes a difference.

“Offering multiple flexible options such as express deliveries, parcel collection locations that are open after hours, and parcel redirection, help drive customer acquisition and loyalty, because convenience is key throughout the online shopping experience.

“Research indicates that 61 per cent of consumers have said a same-day delivery option would increase their loyalty to a brand. Keeping preferences like these in mind and determining ways to enhance their online offering can help e-tailers continue to drive growth and sales.

“As bricks and mortar stores continue to face challenges, retailers that do not have an e-commerce strategy in place should consider pivoting online as soon as possible.

“While we remain optimistic, there is the possibility that micro-lockdowns will occur in 2021 whenever cases spike.

“More consumers have become comfortable with online and social channels to make purchases, presenting a great opportunity for bricks and mortar retailers to shift to an omnichannel offering.”

CouriersPlease has delivered more than 20 million parcels in 2019 alone. The courier and freight service provider offers a network of pick up and drop off locations comprising more than 3,500 lockers in 45 locations and more than a thousand retail outlets.

The business is owned by Singapore Post.

November last year, CouriersPlease partnered with a Melbourne-based start-up to improve its delivery capabilities.