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1 in 4 UK e-retailers plan to start using online marketplaces in 2015

One in four British small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are planning to increase their use of online marketplace sites to increase sales in 2015. And almost two-thirds of SME online retailers are planning to increase the number of channels they trade through as they target growth this year.

These are two of the key results from Royal Mail’s annual tracker study into the expectations and challenges facing British online retailers. These group of companies is in positive mood for 2015, with seventy percent of businesses expecting their sales to increase. This optimism for growth is up 9% on last year.

Last year, 58% of the small and medium-sized enterprises in the UK reported an increase in sales, which is significantly more than the 49% who reported growth in 2013, Royal Mail’s study found.

More intense competition
Despite this positive attitude, there’s 76% of SME online retailers who say competition is more intense than a year ago. It’s mostly the increasing number of websites that was the top reason for rising competition, followed by price sensitivity.

When asked about what they plan to do to drive customer satisfaction, most SMEs answered they will focus more on delivery when expected. The price of goods was ranked the second most important factor, followed by the quality of the products being sold.

Simple returns process key to customer satisfaction
Small and medium-sized enterprises in the UK also acknowledge the importance of providing a good returns process for online shoppers, says Royal Mail. “A third of retailers surveyed said a simple returns process was a key factor to customer satisfaction last year, up from 23% in 2013. Three in ten (27%) UK SME online retailers will be simplifying the returns process in 2015 to increase customer satisfaction. This is up from 11% last year.”

More than half of 300 UK SMEs surveyed said that increasing the range of goods will be their top initiative for increasing customer satisfaction in 2015, while 41% said they will improve the range of delivery options. Pricing is another important initiative to satisfy customers.

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