4 Challenges for Mid-market Ecommerce in 2021

Changes in shopper behaviour, improvements in technology, and pricing policies intended to”protect” small, brick-and-mortar retailers all represent substantial challenges to mid-market ecommerce and mid-market omnichannel retail companies in 2018.

These businesses will want to (a) comprehend voice hunt, (b) evaluate investments in voice applications, (c) evaluate machine-learning consequences, and (d) adjust purchasing and promotion practices to tackle EMAP — digital manufacturer approved pricing policies.

1. Voice Search

The prevalence of voice hunt will significantly change search engine advertising in the upcoming few years.

Mid-market ecommerce and brick-and-click retailers know shoppers are using voice to search the net and applications, but in 2018, those companies may not understand how to optimize for voice market or search to shoppers though virtual assistants or the voice-enabled net of things.

Uncertainty — roughly optimizing for voice hunt or the function that virtual assistants play in that search — could place mid-market ecommerce retailers at a competitive disadvantage relative to large, well-funded, omnichannel retailers which have been investing in and exploring voice hunt for a couple of years.

Consider competing with Amazon to get shopping-related searches on Alexa.

To confront and overcome this challenge, mid-market retailers will need to optimize for voice hunt early in 2018, recognizing the gaps in question length, keyword option, and purchasing intent. Natural language and answering questions will get a great deal more important for search-engine-optimization success.

It might be the case merchants will have to add more information to product detail pages or consider optimized page structures.

2. Voice Applications

Closely linked to voice hunt is the rise in the use of voice-enabled and voice-based applications.

Virtual assistants (including Google Home, Amazon Echo, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Apple’s HomePod) and internet-of-things apparatus (including the Apple Watch or an internet-enabled Samsung fridge ) can do more than simply search the web.

These voice-enabled apparatus can access applications, too, such as those developed for voice and, sometimes, for shopping.

This combination of a digital assistant, a voice application, and an enterprise merchant can be tough to beat for customer loyalty and customer experience.

In 2018, mid-market retailers must make considerable technology investments, building in-house application development teams capable of producing and deploying applications for virtual assistants and the internet of things.

3. Machine-learning

Machine learning has been a hot topic in 2017, and interest in it’ll only grow in 2018. The technology has guarantee for ecommerce and imports, such as:

  • Intelligent, automated client support,
  • Improved site search,
  • Better, personalized onsite merchandising,
  • Data-driven, market-based pricing,
  • Fraud detection,
  • Automated merchandise ordering and replenishment.
  • Improved business intelligence and forecasts.

The challenge with machine learning isn’t the technology itself or some of its possible applications, but simply that big, enterprise-level retail companies will be more suited to use machine learning and, thus, might have the ability to obtain a competitive edge over mid-market businesses.

Here again, these mid-market retail companies can deal with this challenge with an investment in application and software development. Another key is to build on comparatively low-cost open source projects.

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4. EMAP Restrictions

Mid-market retailers tend to be most effective when they serve a particular niche market segment. Effectively, this can make these companies”specialization” retailers.

The issue in 2018 is that the vast majority of”specialty” retailers might not be involved in ecommerce or might not yet be successful at ecommerce.

Rather than enhancing their online sales capabilities, a variety of those brick-and-mortar, specialty retailers have appealed to their own providers, asking them to”protect” their earnings. The end result has been the evolution of so-called EMAP or”electronic manufacturer approved pricing policies.” These policies require retailers to sell products at a higher price on the web than the very same products can be sold for in a physical store.

In the pet food and pet supply business, for instance, several manufacturers have introduced EMAP policies which will take effect in late 2017 or the start of 2018. In one extreme instance, a renowned pet food provider is requiring merchants to market its goods for 30-percent more online than at a physical store.

These policies could create some specialty retailers much less competitive online. To deal with this challenge, mid-market, multichannel sellers have a couple alternatives.

First, push on manufacturers. EMAP policies are bad for consumers and bad for retailers. It’s a step backward.

Second, change providers. Start looking for ecommerce-friendly suppliers instead. There are a lot of good choices.

Third, introduce a membership club for shoppers. Some EMAP policies enable exceptions for purchasing clubs or similar business models that require customers to pay a membership fee, like charging consumers $1 per year to join, then save 30 percent in their pet food orders.

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