There is a massive opportunity for small online retailers to snap up customers as long as they have a responsive and easy-to-use website, according to research published this week by FedEx Express.
The study, which surveyed around 9000 individuals, found 11% of Australian consumers would choose to purchase from a small independent online retailer before a larger or international brand.
However, of the respondents who expressed a low desire to purchase from a niche e-retailer, around half said their reluctance was due to poor website design.
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Competitive shipping speeds and product tracking were the most influential factors in influencing a customer’s decision – with more than 40% of respondents saying a long delivery period would discourage them from buying from an SME’s website.
Also worrying for SMEs is the 41% of consumers who said their purchasing behaviour is influenced by a lack of recognition or reputation of an SME retailer.
Paul Greenberg, chief executive of the National Online Retailers Association, told SmartCompany there has been “quite a lot of buzz” over the past few years around independent retailers.
“The good news is there’s a good opportunity for Australian niche retailers, locally, domestically as well as globally,” Greenberg says.
“Some would argue that we have almost had a return to a bespoke, artisan-style kind of retail as maybe a pushback against mass consumption. I’m a bit agnostic either way but there are a lot of arguments and data to support the view that there is a lot of interest in those niche retailers – and why wouldn’t Australia lead the charge?”
Greenberg says it is important online retailers have websites that are fast-loading, mobile-optimised and are easy to navigate.
“Not only the product that you sell but the whole user experience needs to honour and reflect that brand,” he says.
“So retail is detail. And the challenge on us as SMEs is – even though it’s a hard road to walk – not to drop the ball on that end-to-end experience. A great design, fast and simple functionality are a part of that.”
Managing director of FedEx Australia, Kim Garner, said in a statement fast shipping and attractive returns policies were also crucial for small, independent e-retailers that want to take on a larger share of their market.
“The research study highlights that consumers’ trust in the overall shipping experience is key to winning online customers from other markets,” he said.
“Customers need to have confidence that they can return items easily and have access to dependable shipping services.”
Around 80% of Australians purchased at least one item online last year.