As consumer spending is set to eclipse last year’s record numbers, retailers are under enormous pressure to deliver a seamless shopping experience amid rising concerns of supply chain disruptions that have and will impact inventory, according to new research from business monitoring firm Anodot.
The firm’s new study, 2021 eCommerce Outlook Report: A Two-Sided View, conducted by survey partner Researchscape, finds that while retailers are bullish about sales this season with 85 percent of survey respondents expecting to see a year-over-year increase in sales, 42 percent of them remained worried about supply chain disruptions having a negative impact on product inventory and timely deliveries.
Nearly half of all respondents said they were concerned about logistics challenges after last year’s bottlenecks created limited inventories and shipping, which negatively impacted revenues. Those concerns have driven retailers to begin offering Black Friday sales promotions even earlier this season.
The stakes are higher than ever this year and retailers must execute a seamless shopping experience to avoid losing customers and sales amidst an increasingly competitive environment. Today, consumers have a range of options when shopping and if small to medium-sized retailers can’t provide that seamless experience, they will not get a second chance.
In fact, 82 percent of consumer respondents say that a negative experience with an online retailer is somewhat, very, or completely likely to turn them away from that merchant, and most likely into the arms of Amazon. Last year, Amazon swallowed 51.2 percent of all online sales. Not surprisingly, 55 percent of consumers named Amazon as their retailer of choice, and 48 percent of retailers surveyed named Amazon as their largest competitor. Amazon’s seemingly limitless inventory, easy-to-navigate website, recommendation engine, and one-click shopping have set the bar for the consumer shopping experience.
“Based on spending projections, there are high hopes for this holiday season, but there are warning signs on the horizon,” said David Drai, CEO and founder of Anodot, in a news release. “Supply chain disruptions have caused inventory issues that have shoppers nervous and retailers feeling unprepared. Providing a seamless experience is critical, and retailers are integrating AI to prevent the customer experience and supply chain issues that can frustrate shoppers.”
One of the key findings from the survey is that retailers have prioritized addressing the issues that consumers have identified as critical factors in their shopping experience. The survey highlights that retailers and consumers are aligned with the most important pieces of the shopping experience where AI can be of great help.
The top four areas include:
Websites that are easy to use
- 81 percent of online retailers
- 53 percent of consumers
- 65 percent of online retailers
- 50 percent of consumers
- 74 percent of online retailers
- 57 percent of consumers
Fast check-out and payment process
- 67 percent of online retailers
- 46 percent of consumers
Retailers have continued to make big investments in AI, and 81 percent of retailers surveyed said they expected to increase their AI budgets in 2021. Beyond anomaly detection, merchants are using AI to drive topline revenues, with nearly one-third of respondents saying they believe AI can drive a 40 percent increase in revenues.
“AI-based anomaly detection isn’t new to the business sphere, but traditionally has been relegated to technical performance,” Drai said. “As companies scale, they’re finding it imperative to automate the way they monitor the entire business, from customer experience to revenue and costs, so they can meet consumer expectations. This survey confirms the expanding role of AI in eCommerce today and the applications that are proving most valuable to the business.”
Retailers are allocating their increased AI budgets to improve bottom-line results:
- Fraud detection – 81 percent
- Improve customer retention – 55 percent
- Enable targeted campaigns – 22 percent
- Create dynamic pricing – 20 percent
- Identify when a server is down – 19 percent
- Marketing automation – 19 percent
- Anticipate sales trends in different geographies – 18 percent
The research firm Researchscape conducted independent surveys of consumers and retailers to understand their concerns and expectations for the 2021 holiday season. The consumer-focused survey was conducted from September 10 to 13, 2021, and 1,057 U.S.-based respondents completed the entire survey. The online retailers’ survey was conducted from September 11 to 17, 2021 with 106 respondents.