Finding New Customers Still Overwhelmingly the Primary Challenge for eCommerce

Louise Smith
Event Manager - IRX
A laptop and some shopping bags, on a sofa

A survey among those participating in leading eCommerce event IRX reveals important insights into the concerns of retailers and brands - and how their challenges have changed from 2021 to 2022

Brexit, Covid, the rising prominence of sustainability everywhere; there haven’t been so many new forces driving change in business and in our lives for many years.

So what difference are all these catalysts making to the role of those working within retail? How highly do they rate among their concerns and challenges? To delve into their minds, IRX, the UK’s number one digital retail event, asked the thousands of marketing and eCommerce delegates: ‘What is the primary challenge you and your business need to address in the next two years?’ 

When the survey was first carried out in 2021 delegates were given ten choices to consider and now, ahead of IRX 2022 taking place on 11 & 12 May at the NEC, Birmingham, the IRX team has again asked delegates the same question.

While the results are fascinating in themselves, it is particularly interesting to see that there have been changes in priorities from 2021 to 2022, changes that are a clear reflection of these transitional times.

Acquiring new customers comes first

It’s no surprise that ‘acquiring new customers’ is the number one challenge each year, with more than one third of delegates voting for it. The pursuit of new business will always remain the priority of most commercial organisations.

Following on from that, it might have been expected that ‘entering new markets’ would be the second priority. While ten per cent of voters selected it each year, nearly a quarter of the IRX audience actually chose ‘brand awareness’ ahead of it.

Although retailers are facing so many considerations, it is interesting that the top three challenges in the poll - ‘acquiring new customers’, ‘increasing brand awareness’ and ‘entering new markets’ together were the primary issues for more than 75 per cent of voters.

Brexit influence in decline

The changes from year to year begin with Brexit. As an indication that many businesses have got to grips with the issues it presents, Brexit dropped to ninth place in the list of challenges.

There is a similar trend in the matter of helping the business recover from the impact of COVID-19. Organisations also seem to have come to terms with this problem as it received the lowest share of votes. It’s also revealing that Brexit and COVID-19 recovery each attracted less than 5 per cent of votes in the poll in 2022. It suggests that they are causing few people in retail to lose sleep over them now.

Sustainability increasing in importance

By contrast, the increasing prominence of sustainability in business and in our lives was also reflected in its position in the poll. In 2022 it jumped over Brexit and COVID-19 in importance in the poll as it moved up from being the lowest priority to joint seventh position.

However, while it is growing in importance in the industry, again it’s essential to recognise that currently only 4 per cent of retailers say sustainability is their main challenge. It will be fascinating to see how far this will change over the coming years.

Acquiring quantified results not only provides important guidance to us when organising a conference schedule, the findings will be valuable to retail managers, helping them to benchmark their own challenges against those of their peers.

IRX (InternetRetailing Expo) & eDX (eDelivery Expo), the UK’s number one digital retail show is taking place on 11 & 12 May 2022 at NEC Birmingham. Register for free.

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