May 27, 2014

E-commerce Research Chart: Barriers to growth

SUMMARY: E-commerce spending in the United States was set to grow 13.4% in 2013, according to Forrester Research.

That's a torrid pace when you consider the overall economy grew at a respectable 2.6% last year.

Of course, that doesn't mean that e-commerce growth for the individual company is a given. In the just-released MarketingSherpa E-commerce Benchmark Study, we asked marketers about their barriers to growth.
by Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content

In the below chart from the recently released MarketingSherpa E-commerce Benchmark Study, you can see the barriers to growth, broken out by e-commerce revenue. In the Benchmark Survey, which informed this study, we asked respondents to:

Please rate the following issues from most to least challenging for your company's e-commerce operation.

Since the most challenging issue would be ranked a 1, while a less challenging issue might be an 8 or 10, the lower bars in this chart represent the more challenging issues.

View Chart Online

Click here to see a printable version of this chart

Technology is the top barrier to growth for e-commerce companies with high revenue

While larger, more established companies tend to have the resources for more shiny tools, they also have the bane of any marketer focused on a consistent, high-quality customer experience — complexity.

As one marketer replied to the Benchmark Survey, "We have legacy databases that do not play well together. Finally starting to get serious about how we must deal with this."

Keeping up with new technology is another challenge. There's always a newer, better, faster, cheaper technology that, if your company isn't using it, your competitors might be. It is a constant arms race to get — and keep — that edge.

Of course, that constant need to keep up with new technology doesn't only come from the enterprise side. The way customers choose to shop and buy changes quickly as well. For example, one marketer replied that her top challenge was "keeping up with mobile design needs."

On top of these technology challenges are the basic nuts and bolts of making sure various systems are tightly integrated (watch out for those conflicting software version updates), a challenge faced by the marketer who replied, "We had a shopping cart that was not user friendly and did not play well with our website software."

Size of marketing budget a top challenge for low revenue e-commerce companies

Not surprisingly, companies with lower revenue have less resources, and budget — a perennial challenge in MarketingSherpa Benchmark Studies — was highly ranked again this year.

Budget can be an asset to overcoming the first barrier to growth discussed in this article, technology, as one marketer pointed out succinctly in this comment: "Antiquated site. Budgeting in process."

While an article about barriers to growth is necessarily somewhat of a downer, let's end this article on a high note.

One of my favorite comments on budget was from an optimistic marketer who replied, "Low budget so we work smarter."

Related Resources

MarketingSherpa E-commerce Benchmark Study — Made possible by a research grant from Magento

Marketing Research Chart: Tactics that are seeing a budget increase (and decrease)

SMB Marketing in 2013: 68% of small businesses to increase marketing budget

8 Challenges Undermining Your Marketing Team

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