2014 has been a year buzzing with progress for online sellers, to the point where it has become difficult to keep track of so many changes happening. We have put together a consolidated list of important changes that may happen next year and how that affects selling products online.
Deep Discounts may not last long
We have been reading time and again about how deep discounts may not last long. This is because online marketplaces are gradually moving towards profitability and deep discounts are only used as bait to attract and retain new customers. In fact, several online marketplaces have also been delaying their point of ‘breaking even’ simply to be able to invest more and more in acquiring customers. This is because ecommerce has just been getting popular in India and needed an impetus to take off. Crazy discount deals are thus only temporary.
Dicey warranty for electronics
For a while now, online brands and their offline stores have been facing a coordination challenge. In one case, an offline retailer wanted to source products from a particular brand online and ended up receiving fraudulent goods instead. This obviously led to bad publicity for the online marketplaces offering these products.
In the same vein, In February 2014, Toshiba and Lenovo declared that they would not offer warranty on products purchased online. Whether this is to discourage ecommerce or simply to regulate the quality of their products sold we may never know, but in any case it affected the way a shopper looks at purchasing electronics online. For online sellers dealing in electronic goods, this should be an important consideration.
Many buyers will be scrutinising electronic or expensive goods sold online to check if there is any valid warranty offered. If the warranty is not valid for online purchase, that may discourage people from shopping online.
Old is gold, new may be on hold!
Many online marketplaces have given smaller or newer brands the opportunity to market themselves well. In fact, several online marketplaces have also started their own range of in-house branded products. This has breathed life into brands that would otherwise probably not have the chance to be quite as popular.
However, customers are going to be more vigilant about smaller brands, starting next year. This is in light of recent occurrences, which have called into question the authenticity of smaller brands. Electronics brands like Xiaomi and Oneplus were temporarily banned in India this December, which left many customers sweating about the purchases they had made.
Shoppers have a tendency to choose brands that are more popular or have been in the market for longer. To resolve this challenge, sellers should ensure excellent customer service for its shoppers and should initially do their best to create a reputation of reliability.
Seller ratings to gain importance
2014 saw a large number of fraud incidents occurring in the world of online shopping. Right from delivering empty packages to customers to selling fake brands, this year has seen it all. Obviously, this would need the online marketplaces to step up and make the seller verification process much more stringent.
Also, more and more shoppers are getting active in giving seller feedback through product reviews and sharing blogs and experiences. All of this has made online marketplaces step up their seller reviewing policies, including the ratings that are given to sellers. It is very important for sellers to ensure that they always keep their ratings high, by effectively managing their online orders. This is important as shoppers will also consider a seller’s rating before investing their money to make a purchase.
Shoppers to research prices thoroughly
With so many discounted or low-priced products on offer, more and more shoppers are choosing to use price comparing websites instead of blindly navigating through any one particular shopping website. This automatically means that shoppers are well aware of the prices of similar products in the market. This means that sellers have to carefully price their items to ensure that they are most competitive.
On the other hand, care should be taken to ensure that the quoted price is not drastically lower than other goods of the same type of brand. This will rouse the suspicion of a shopper, who will then assume that the product with the extremely low price is of poor quality. Needless to say, this will discourage sales instead of improving it.
Stronger shoppers’ community
It has rightly been said that word-of-mouth is the best and strongest form of publicity. Sellers should be aware that as online shopping is on the rise, more and more shoppers are sharing their experiences with one another either through shoppers’ reviews, blogs, and newspapers or simply by sharing things personally with friends.
Often, these good or bad reviews snowball into big issues, which become popular and reach a much larger number of people. Therefore, sellers should not believe that they can get away with poor service or selling bad products. Make sure that every sale is done to the best of your ability and knowledge. This will improve consumer trust and will increase conversions to sale.
As we step into the New Year, it is important to consider these developments in the online retail industry. We hope 2015 is yet another year of tremendous success for online sellers!