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Jim Agger
 
April 3, 2014 | eCommerce , Fulfillment/Shipping | Jim Agger

How will ecommerce change in 2014?

Several years ago, ecommerce was a practically unheard of phenomenon. Now an online store is all but mandatory to stay competitive. Online wine sales have changed a great deal since their introduction, and there are a number of new trends you need to be aware of to maintain consistent revenue. For example, a large number of consumers are shopping from their mobile devices, which adds to the challenge of creating a high-quality experience for many retailers. 

Citing data from Forrester, Venture Beat said the U.S. ecommerce market reached $230 billion in 2013 and experienced 13 percent year-over-year growth. As more retailers rush to offer customers an online experience, it may become even more difficult to stand out. Many industries are dealing with an oversaturation of brands, especially because ecommerce can eliminate many geographic boundaries. 

Not only are consumer behavior and technology rapidly evolving, but companies need to contend with shifting search engine models. For example, Google and Bing have moved away from the original model of displaying all the products in a certain category and switched to a completely paid model, meaning consumers will only see results from retailers that have paid to promote their goods, Venture Beat said. If customers are looking for niche items - such as specialty wines - it can be difficult for them to find what they want.

What do shoppers expect from retailers?
While ecommerce gives consumers to ability to readily shop for comparisons, price isn't the only factor influencing their decisions. Your online wine store won't necessarily succeed based on costs alone. Customers want to read user reviews, receive discounts, the choice of multiple ways to pay and the ability to get the most convenient, cost-effective options for shipping. Ecommerce fulfillment is a major influence when people order wine online. Retailers that don't offer all these features may be left behind competitors. Plus, it may be even more difficult to impress shoppers on mobile devices because of the limited space.

In particular, free or discounted shipping and accurate orders are becoming more important for retailers to maintain success. A few years ago, consumers had to wait several days for deliveries to arrive. As Amazon and eBay have ramped up their capabilities, patience is increasingly getting lower. This means you need to consider your inventory management and fulfillment operations to ensure demands are being met. 

Highlight wine shipping offerings for a marketplace advantage
Your fulfillment operations are critical for encouraging customers to buy wine online rather than in a store. Shoppers don't want to wait days or even weeks to receive their items. The retail industry as a whole has been under intense pressure to update shipping capabilities, and many are still struggling, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. The 2013 holiday season is a time that will go down in infamy because of many retailers' and carriers' failures to deliver gifts on time through last-minute shopping and severe weather delays. Highlighting data from consultancy Kurt Salmon, the article said that even companies that had a deadline of December 20 for shipping before Christmas only managed an 80 percent success rate.

While some parts of the country were hit by winter storms, many of the issues were the result of employee errors. For example, workers didn't mark packages for rush shipping or didn't send them to FedEx or UPS until the day after they were processed. Another significant problem was single orders being filled from multiple warehouses, which adds to retailers' costs. It may be beneficial to consider your wine warehouse and determine if you're shipping in the most effective way possible. Wineries can learn a lot from the example of the most recent holiday season.

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