Online retailers will continue to work hard to drive online sales, over building their social media presence or spending on marketing, according to new research from leading parcel delivery service, CouriersPlease (CP).

The independent survey commissioned by CP asked respondents to identify what their main business focus will be after the economy opens completely in 2021, revealing that sales will be the focus for 52% with 28% of respondents prioritising customer acquisition, and 24% driving repeat customers.  

In contrast, marketing will be the primary focus for just one-fifth (20%) of online retailers, while 13% will focus most on differentiating their brand from competitors, and 6% of retailers will increase their online or social media presence as a priority.

A negligible proportion of retailers (2%) will improve their returns or exchange processes as a priority this year and just 1% will mainly focus on opening or expanding their stores.

While many online retailers experienced an increase in sales during the shutdowns, the survey suggests that sales will remain a priority in 2021, according to CP chief commercial officer, Paul Roper.

“Often, the differentiator between retailers is the customer experience – and the last mile component is where brand differentiation makes a difference,” he said.

“Offering multiple flexible options such as express deliveries, parcel collection locations that are open after hours, and parcel redirection, help drive customer acquisition and loyalty, because convenience is key. Keeping preferences like these in mind and determining ways to enhance their online offering can help e-tailers continue to drive growth and sales.

“As bricks and mortar stores continue to face challenges, retailers that do not have an e-commerce strategy in place should consider pivoting online as soon as possible. While we remain optimistic, there is the possibility that micro-lockdowns will occur in 2021 whenever cases spike. More consumers have become comfortable with online and social channels to make purchases, presenting a great opportunity for bricks and mortar retailers to shift to an omnichannel offering.”