Sendlane Survey: The State of eCommerce is Strong

Sales and profits increased for most SMB eCommerce companies in 2021, and yet, many are feeling the pressure to overcome consumer financial struggles, global shipping delays, and persistent issues like cyber fraud

 Sendlane, the SMB eCommerce-focused marketing automation company, announces the results of its 2021 “eCommerce Health” survey. A key takeaway is that 2021 has been a record year for many SMB eCommerce companies, but some are concerned about the economy and the ability of consumers hard-hit by the pandemic to spend money.

Sendlane, whose software has been used by over 1,700 retailers to drive hundreds of millions of dollars in sales, launched its survey this month to gauge the “health” of the SMB eCommerce community. More than 150 sales, marketing, finance and operations professionals in SMB eCommerce companies participated in the study. For the purposes of the survey, Sendlane defined “SMB eCommerce companies” as retailers with less than $50 million in sales.

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SMB eCommerce in 2021: Success and a Few Concerns

Despite the concerns of some SMB eCommerce companies, 92% of survey respondents said their sales grew in 2021, with 21% saying they were up by at least 40%. 91% said their profits grew too, with 24% saying profits increased by 40% or more. Site traffic also spiked for many SMB eCommerce companies in 2021, with 90% reporting an increase of 10% or more.

An increase in eCommerce staff sizes and eCommerce tech investments are other examples of the success of the eCommerce category in 2021. 80% of retailers added new eCommerce employees, led by Sales, Site Development and Marketing staff. Meanwhile, 85% of retailers spent more money on eCommerce tech in 2021, with 46% spending at least 40% more than in 2020. Email Marketing and Marketing Automation systems received the most investment.

Nevertheless, SMB eCommerce companies experienced several, somewhat predictable challenges in 2021. For example, 35% said cyber fraud has been their biggest eCommerce-related concern, followed by whether financial conditions have made it harder for consumers to spend money (18%). Shipping delays (13%) and eCommerce site stability (8%) have also been top concerns.

SMB eCommerce companies also indicated some concern about how consumers are coping with the volume of online marketing messages they are receiving. 67% of survey respondents said they think that consumers are suffering from marketing message “fatigue,” and retailers would be wise to revise their approach next year. For example, 39% of respondents said marketers should send more personalized messages, 23% said they should vary the channels they use and 21% said they should find new ways to engage customers.

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eCommerce Trends and Expectations Heading Into 2022

SMB eCommerce companies generally are very optimistic about 2022. 93% expect sales to grow, with 28% anticipating at least 40% growth. 92% believe their profits also will grow too, with 24% expecting a 40% increase at least. Meanwhile, 84% said their eCommerce teams would grow in size, led by new hires in Sales and Marketing, and 89% said their investments in eCommerce technology would increase in 2022, led by Marketing Automation and Inventory Management systems.

Sendlane’s “eCommerce Health” report identified several potential trends for 2022, too. The top SMB eCommerce trend for next year, which was cited by 24% of survey respondents, is expected to be the willingness of big eCommerce companies like Amazon, Target and Walmart to partner with smaller retailers. The next biggest trend, identified by 16% of respondents, was a tie between an increase in the number of people who will shop using mobile devices and the emergence of new eCommerce-related technologies.

Sendlane also asked eCommerce professionals the extent to which Covid-related concerns will impact whether customers shop online or in-person in 2022. 45% said they believe Covid will impact the online v. in-person decision “a lot.” Looking back at 2021, 59% felt Covid has impacted the shop online v. in-person decision “a lot.”

“The past year has been an exciting and complicated time for eCommerce,” said Jimmy Kim, CEO of Sendlane. “Certainly the pandemic has accelerated the shift to online shopping, but consumer buying habits were moving in this direction well before Covid, too. What really stands out about our 2021 eCommerce Health study is that 53% of respondents believe the state of eCommerce is ‘strong,’ and 39% believe it is ‘very strong.’ This tells me that despite the concerns related to the economy, shipping issues, cyber fraud, etc., eCommerce retailers are in a great position to succeed in 2022.”

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