By now, we’re all familiar with the promise of eCommerce and mCommerce. Today’s busy, multi-tasking, on-the-go consumer can make all kinds of purchases while walking the dog, sitting in a boring meeting, or (gasp!) driving a car. But, despite that promise, global shopping patterns haven’t quite caught up. In fact, the digital retail economy is still very much in its early adoption phase.

According to a recent Javelin study, only 11% of retail purchases in the US were made online last year. Elsewhere, eCommerce sales rates in major economies around the globe range from significantly higher (China, 23%) to much lower (India, 2.2%), with none of them pointing to the overwhelming digital adoption we might expect.

But that’s all about to change. With more consumers poised to jump online, how merchants refine their operations will make all the difference between those who catch the wave and those who get overtaken by it. Are you ready yet?

03 Online Purchases graph

The coming eCommerce tsunami

Whether its Chicago, Chengdu, or Chennai, eCommerce sales are expected to skyrocket by billions — in both eCommerce dollars and eCommerce transactions — in the next few years alone. While analysts project the overall boom in eCommerce will continue, the growth itself will not be even. According to Statista, the annual growth rate between 2017 and 2022 will favor certain industries more than others.

For example, where apps and membership-based portals for online dating seem close to a saturation point—that industry is only expected to grow 5.3% globally in the next few years—we seem to be entering the golden age of eCommerce payments. With peer-to-peer apps like Venmo, Cash, Zelle, and others leading the way, eCommerce remittance is expected to jump, with a whopping compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25%. In perhaps a bad sign for for waistlines, the fitness industry is only expected to see a 6.8% CAGR while food delivery is expected to surge by 23.8% as more and more consumers prefer to go the way of Netflix and chill.

04 growth by industry graph

The risks of the new eCommerce age

These developments bring about new sets of trends and risks. Whether a business sells electronics, relies on gift cards, or has consumer bases in regions with high rates of fraud, fraudsters are getting creative in their schemes and even organized in their ranks. Not even those friendly, first-time shopper promos are safe from scam and abuse.

But even more than the challenge of dealing with the costs of external fraud, as they say in horror movies, the call may be coming from inside the house. In 2018 alone, merchants are expected to lose over $500B in revenue to a combination of false declines ($165B), chargebacks ($42B), and payment declines ($300B). And many of these unforced errors can be drastically reduced with a smarter approach.

Ultimately, as more purchases are made digitally, a merchant’s ability to ride the eCommerce tide to fame and fortune will be determined by whether they are equipped to approve more transactions without sacrificing customer experience and brand reputation. With that in mind, here are 3 critical questions for businesses to ask themselves about the exciting next few years to come:

3 big questions for growing eCommerce merchants

05 three questions

1. Are you ready to scale?

As any merchant familiar with the crazy holiday season knows, a surge in customer volume can easily turn from a revenue dream into a logistical nightmare. Items go out of stock. More shoppers call in with questions, issues, or complaints. With a higher number of transactions moving online, more orders will come under manual review, which is costly, time consuming, and can swamp an already beleaguered staff. Preparing to scale a business doesn’t just mean preparing for new customers, it also means safely and quickly approving more transactions. An efficient fraud-management system can instantly and effortlessly help a business stay ahead of the competition and allow it to re-dedicate fraud-prevention resources to more pressing customer-service and fulfillment needs.

2. Are you optimized for mobile?

The eCommerce expansion will include a big transition to the mobile space, where shoppers are already starting to get comfortable. By 2019, analysts expect that 60% of total global online retail sales will happen through mobile transactions. To ensure a smooth customer experience, merchants would be wise to optimize their operations across channels. Part of this process includes adjusting fraud detection systems, which often interpret normal consumer behavior in the mobile channel as suspicious, causing false declines and declined payments.

3. Who are you declining?

Much like adapting with mobile consumers in mind, a sure-fire way to alienate new customers is by keeping rigid rules that don’t fit how consumers operate in today’s marketplaces. For some merchant that may mean automatically denying shoppers with billing and shipping address mismatches, Other merchants implement restrictive, high-friction policies for customers who buy items online and pick them up in stores. Other businesses act too aggressively in areas with high levels of fraud by blacklisting entire regions. Unfortunately, all of these tactics unnecessarily stunt growth, cede ground to the competition, and drive up the cost of acquisition.

With true, efficient growth in mind, any merchant looking to reach into new markets or capitalize on the coming eCommerce wave has a much better option than keeping the status quo. With a tested, profit-maximizing, end-to-end solution, the bold leap into the prosperous future ahead won’t be so hard to take.

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