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Customer Experience and Choosing Right Technology Top Priorities for Online Businesses in 2019
New research from 2Checkout reveals an increased interest in personalization and chatbots, as well as a growing appetite for international expansion
ATLANTA, GA - November 29, 2018 - 2Checkout, the leading all-in-one monetization platform for global businesses, today announces its report on eCommerce Trends to Consider in 2019, based on a survey of 1,000 companies across the world. Participating companies span a wide spectrum of industries and sizes, yet all report similar priorities and concerns around their online presence.
Customer experience and technology are top concerns for merchants, and many are prioritizing international markets for their next expansion, meaning they need to consider how customers in these new markets search for, choose, and pay for their products and services online.
"Our latest research reveals digital commerce priorities, challenges, and plans of businesses selling online," says Erich Litch, 2Checkout's President and Chief Operating Officer. "We invite all online merchants to view the findings and see how they stack up. At the same time, we recommend that readers corroborate this research with the latest 2Checkout shopper survey, for businesses to make sure their initiatives for 2019 match buyers' expectations and preferences."
The number-one business priority in 2019 is customer experience (CX), with 33% of eCommerce companies putting this first, behind even content marketing at 26%, and brand awareness and launching new products and services, both at 24%. Offering a seamless CX enables companies to differentiate from competitors and grow sales in a world where customers are often overwhelmed by highly similar offers and product choices.
Despite a fragmented ownership of digital commerce, with only 11% of companies having a dedicated eCommerce department, customer experience remains top priority for all. Unsurprisingly, ownership by a dedicated eCommerce team places the highest importance on CX, at 45%. Implementing reviews and recommendation engines has the least priority, which is alarming, given reviews are an influential factor in shoppers' buying decisions. This discrepancy suggests vendors need to seriously analyze customer behavior data before making any investments.
Technology and partners are critical enablers for growth in digital commerce, and this is reflected in the survey results. Choosing the right technology is listed as the main challenge by 29% of respondents and finding the right partners is a close second, with 26% of votes. Digital commerce platforms can make a big difference in how online merchants handle payment processing, order management, local and regional customizations, back-office operations, support for marketing campaigns, and partner sales - to name just a few business-critical operations for any online merchant wanting to stay competitive and relevant.
Targeting and personalization take top spot in spending plans. In line with current eCommerce trends, 53% of surveyed companies are planning to invest in targeting and personalization in 2019. While many have already adopted video marketing (38%), mobile apps and mobile optimization will also benefit from significant investments. Almost a third (35%) of respondents are planning to employ machine learning algorithms and tools such as upselling or cross-selling to increase customer retention and average order value.
When asked about growth, expanding into new markets worldwide is the foremost priority for 66% of respondents, followed by growth in new buyer demographics (34%). Top targeted regions for expansion in 2019 are North America at 49% and Asia Pacific at 46%, with Western Europe holding strong at 44%. Expanding into new markets comes with localization considerations, as shoppers in different locales have widely varying preferences in terms of payment methods, currencies, checkout flows, and support.
This likely explains why 35% of study participants are planning to implement local payment methods in their online stores. 46% of businesses are contemplating accepting mobile payments (such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, Alipay etc.) in the near to medium future, while almost 32% intend to introduce credit and debit card payments in installments, a popular payment method in specific regions, especially in Latin America.
Customer support is mentioned by 21% of respondents as a notable challenge in their new market expansion plans, as merchants need to deal with new channels, support localization, longer operating hours, and raised shopper expectations. As a result, 48% of respondents are planning to implement chatbots and virtual shopping assistants, and a ticketing system for email support. Additionally, 38% of businesses are planning to implement multi-language phone support, compared to the 19% already offering the service. The low numbers here are a reflection of the high costs incurred by this service, which cannot be easily supported, especially by smaller companies.
More information on the survey findings are in the 2Checkout eCommerce Trends to Consider in 2019 Infographic.
Note on methodology and results analysis: Survey deployed by 2Checkout and partners during 2018 at global level via multiple channels. Results are based on almost 1000 respondents. Several questions have weighted answers; insights are based on overall weighted average, with percentages for "most important" option presented for simplification.