Daniel Hobson is head of ecommerce at internet hosting company Peer 1.
Establishing a brand in a crowded market is no mean feat; doing it without online visibility is virtually impossible. Research from Mintel estimates UK online sales of clothing and footwear will reach £10.7bn this year, or 17% of total spending. However, the challenge facing brands looking to move into ecommerce - particularly in the luxury sector - is that today’s consumers expect a near-perfect experience when shopping online. Brands are under huge pressure to perform all day, every day.
So how do you achieve perfection? Establishing a solid tech infrastructure is a good start. Technology must meet customer expectations while supporting the needs of the business. For example, if a brand launches an ad campaign and gets much more visible online and on TV, traffic to its website will soar. Without a solid infrastructure, the site could crash.
If this happens not only has the ad campaign been wasted, but significant amounts of money will have been lost in that down period; not to mention the damaging impact it could have on the market’s perception of the brand and, ultimately, customer retention.
Along with right infrastructure, businesses should look at their m-commerce strategies. Mobile payments are just around the corner and sales via mobiles are growing 100% year on year, according to Google’s market trends report released in September. Readying your site for this growth is crucial.
Brands must also have a solid online hosting platform, ensure their search engine optimisation is up to scratch, check what security is in place and review their omnichannel capabilities. Consumers are not slowing down and neither will the technology, so it is up to brands to make sure this remains a priority.
In February 2013, 33% of on-schedule London Fashion Week designers had ecommerce sites.
By September 2014, this had risen to 43%. That digital drive will mean nothing if they don’t have the premium customer experience to back it up - and that means taking ecommerce seriously, rather than tacking the latest technologies onto an existing, ageing site.