Across the world, in the midst of the global pandemic, consumers are turning to online shopping to purchase the items they need from food and grocery essentials to healthcare, furniture, homewares, giftware and everything in between. Consequently, online retail is growing at its fastest rate both across Australia and overseas than ever before. One ecommerce industry expert is predicting that many businesses will fail to reach their full potential online during COVID to poor ‘online business’ decision making.
Jam Pathirana, is CEO and founder of ecommerce organisation B dynamic – an industry leader in assisting businesses to drive growth through online sales and fulfilment services. Boasting over 25 years of experience in brand distribution, product sourcing and channel development globally, Pathirana understands ecommerce better than most.
“We are witnessing a revolution in retail at the moment,” Pathirana said.
“Consumers are shopping online in greater numbers and quite a few businesses are stepping up and turning to apps, social media and engaging sales oriented websites to enhance the path to purchase to help shoppers pull out the plastic more often.
“We are seeing businesses that straddle omni-channels such as online and physical stores finding ways to blend the two to augment sales. Others are introducing new technology such as AI and machine learning to provide customers with better online service experiences 24/7 which ultimately supports increased sales.
“At the other end of the spectrum however, there are businesses that are tinkering with their online stores trying to entice customers to buy. Some are doing it well and growing sales, while others are failing miserably.
“What we are seeing is a huge gap between those businesses that are doing well and those that are not, or are simply not going to reach the heights they should. Based on my understanding of the market and my knowledge and view of what is happening, up to 50 percent of businesses will fail to reach their online potential during the pandemic without some type of expert intervention.”
Pathirana is ideally placed to understand the market. His firm works with some of the biggest brands in the world, helping them to manage inventory and order fulfilment for their customers all over the country and across the world. B dynamic has recently helped Aldi to launch its much anticipated online store, helping customers to access Online Exclusives.
“The current COVID climate has not only brought challenges but delivered many opportunities for businesses, especially online, “ Pathirana added.
“Businesses that adapt to these changes will thrive. There is no better time to think about how you can improve your online presence and change your distribution model to capitalise on opportunities. We are helping many of our customers to transform their businesses online.
“For businesses that are already online, but are not doing it very well, we are helping them to introduce new online solutions to ramp up sales, engagement and incorporate better stock management and delivery systems.
“For some, we are completely translating their physical presence into a replicated online presence. This involves developing the ecommerce site, implementing fulfilment systems, setting up delivery mechanisms and taking care of returns.”
Pathirana has three tips for Australian businesses to flourish during the pandemic.
Unless you know how – don’t do it yourself
“Many businesses think that they can manage an increase in online sales and deal with picking, packing and shipping themselves – as well as returns,” Pathirana said.
“It takes a good system and a lot of resources to deliver this kind of operation, especially as orders reach the hundreds or more each week. We deal with tens of thousands.
“Don’t open up your business to failure or issues that lead to loss of sales or even worse, loss of loyal customers. Get the expertise you need to flourish.”
Ensure your online store is as good as it can be
“Online stores are not created equal. Ecommerce systems enable online sales as well as integration with stock management and parcel delivery,” Pathirana added.
“Don’t allow your online store to stifle your growth. Look at what your larger competitors are doing and seek out the same type of capability.”
Beef up customer support
“A key part of being an online business is about being able to respond to customer enquiries and issues in a professional, timely and effective manner,” Pathirana said.
“Well managed ecommerce based businesses have sound systems in place to receive, log and manage enquiries through to resolution. Good systems retain customers and keep them coming back to buy more. Poor systems lose customers and destroy business reputations.
“Third party providers also assist with the management of these issues and ensure customers and issues are treated in a speedy, respectful and solution oriented manner.”
Pathirana believes that with assistance, many Australian businesses will be able to drive growth online through the pandemic as long as they take meaningful steps towards onboarding the right ecommerce systems and fulfilment support.