Despite Economic Downturn, Outlook for ECommerce in 2009 Still Bright

By | March 10, 2009

shopping cart on the rise
Although nothing is certain in today’s economy, ecommerce remains a beacon of possibility and profit. Your customers don’t have to leave home to buy your products, and it’s often more cost-effective to host a virtual storefront than a brick-and-mortar one. Ecommerce sites are well positioned in this turbulent time. However, with the economy in flux and competition intensifying now is certainly not the time to become complacent.

Although analysts have cut estimates in almost every sector, including Ecommerce, they agree that ECommerce will continue to see growth in 2009. While expected to be slower than 2008, nonetheless, analysts believe there will be growth.

“While the overall retail pie shrinks as consumers cut back their overall spend, consumers will still continue to shift their wallet share to the web channel”.

Forrester then adds:

“According to projections from Forrester Research, U.S. online retail sales are expected to rise 11 percent to $156 billion this year, excluding revenue from travel. However, that will mark a slowdown in the overall growth rate, which was 13 percent in 2008, when online retail sales totaled $141 billion, Forrester says. Report: Online retail could reach $156B in 2009

So should online retailers just be happy they’ve picked the right industry? Well, despite the overall growth in ecommerce revenue, online shoppers now have many more options to choose from than they did just a few years ago. As a result, the competition is tougher, the market more fragmented, and even small differences between shopping sites can substantially impact purchase decisions. The ecommerce businesses that will thrive going forward are those that analyze their current strategy and position, and take every step possible to stand above the crowd and improve their customers’ experience.

We have entered an era of open competition, where fierce competitors and accumulation of best-practices have had a significant impact on the way we all do business. You can compete and win in this crowded and sophisticated market, but it takes a well-thought-out ecommerce strategy. Working with an experienced partner to continuously improve usability and visibility is what allows ecommerce sites to maintain an edge in this environment. The right partner in this case is one that continuously works with a large number of ecommerce sites and can get much faster and more in-depth insights on improving conversion rates, attracting traffic, and adopting other best practices. This type of data-mining and insight that we have at Ecommerce Partners isn’t otherwise available when you manage only one ecommerce site, or even a handful.

Improving your customer’s experience and increasing your online visibility can yield significant results. For example, you can tremendously boost your website revenue by making your website more user-friendly; making sure it shows up in relevant searches (SEO), optimizing your products for Google’s shopping engine (Google Product Search);  getting your business to show up in local search results (Local Search), optimizing your products for image and video search, and more. We’ll discuss these in more detail in upcoming blog posts.

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