E-tailers expect to increase sales in 2016
Royal Mail’s annual tracker study into the expectations and ambitions of UK SME e-retailers has revealed growing business confidence, with eight out of ten SME e-retailers confident they will increase sales in 2016. This is up from seven out of ten e-retailers who expressed confidence in last year’s study.
Royal Mail said that the confident outlook builds on the sales success of 2015. Almost three quarters (74%) of SME e-retailers increased their sales last year. This is the highest level in the last three years: 58% reported increased sales in 2014 and 49 per cent reported sales growth in 2013.
The study indicates that parcel delivery companies have played an import role in this.
“The most common factor in driving customer satisfaction is on-time delivery, voted by two thirds (66%) of SME e-retailers.,” said Royal Mail. “This is more than the number of SME e-retailers who consider the quality of products (62%) and the price of goods (57%) as key drivers of customer satisfaction.
The UK’s SME e-retailers also recognise the importance of a good returns process. They believe it will make consumers more likely to be more satisfied with their service (49%), more likely to order in the first place (45%) and more likely to become repeat customers (40%). As a result, one in four SME e-retailers plan to simplify their returns process in 2016.
The overall increase in confidence among SME e-retailers comes despite 53% claiming that competition is more intense this year and 45 per cent stating that levels of competition remain unchanged.
SME e-retailers have identified new factors for competition this year: the rise of on-the-move smartphone shopping (47%) and price promotions which lead shoppers to seek out the best prices (44%).
However, the main drivers of competition remain the same this year, with SME e-retailers naming consumers’ price sensitivity and an increased number of websites as the main reasons for increased competition (both at 52%).
Nick Landon, Managing Director of Royal Mail Parcels, said: “Royal Mail’s annual tracker study of SME online retailers shows that confidence is continuing to grow this year and that technology is playing an ever more important role in the retail world.
“Technology is influencing how people shop, where they shop and what they define as an excellent shopping experience. Our research shows that SME online retailers are plugged in to the needs of the shopper and they are taking actions to enable them to meet the demands of the discerning online consumer.”