Two-thirds of online retailers say they will increase their ecommerce budget this year to drive further business following the acceleration of online shopping in 2020, according to new research from parcel delivery service, CouriersPlease (CP).

The survey asked online retailers how they performed last year, whether they made changes to boost sales and if they will increase their ecommerce budgets this year.

CP discovered that 66% of online retailers will put more resources and money into enhancing, growing and maintaining their online function this year. Among this group, 44% will increase their budget by more than 20%, while 18% by more than 40%.

CP also sought to understand how online retailers performed last year before the October to December peak retail period. Almost two in three (63%) experienced an increase in sales between 23 March (when social restrictions were enforced) and 4 September 2020.

Specifically, almost one-third (31%) saw an increase of up to 30%, while one-fifth (21%) experienced an increase of more than 50%. However, 22% said their online sales were the same as before the shutdowns.

CP also asked if, and what, retailers tried to increase online sales last year from a list of seven action categories. Interestingly, 32% of online retailers did not make changes, suggesting that those retailers experienced an organic increase or cut costs throughout the business.

The changes were led by increased sales and promotions (49%), boosted social media activity (45%), improved ecommerce sites (35%), increased communication with customers (31%), incentivising customers (30%) and increased advertising (21%). 

CP chief commercial officer, Paul Roper said consumers are becoming more comfortable shopping online and the retail sector is continuing to grow.

“As such, online competition will grow alongside customer expectations, and retailers are best to refine their ecommerce strategies ongoing to ensure they are performing. I believe key areas for improvement are the customer experience, from product search on the site right through to the last mile delivery. As part of this, retailers could also review and enhance their returns process, which includes choosing a delivery partner that aligns with their 2021 goals.”