According to industry experts, online sales will experience a growth from $335 billion in 2015 to a whopping $523 in the year 2020 which comes to a growth of 9.32% per year.
It’s time to start developing a robust e-commerce marketing strategy to sustain in this rapidly growing e-commerce landscape. As a matter of fact, this huge market attracts different kind of brands which will make the competition tougher. As a result, consumers will be more difficult to win, simpler to lose and more finicky on user experience and price. In this post, we’ve outlined 12 e-commerce trends that will probably take the year 2017 by storm and you, as an e-commerce business owner, needs to take these under consideration to ensure your online as well as offline sales growth.
- Mobile Ecommerce
Though most of e-commerce entrepreneurs are aware of the importance of mobile marketing as well as digital media and probably have moved their websites to responsive designs or have considered strategies to reach the users on their mobiles, many still consider mobile e-commerce as an afterthought and something which is ‘good to have’ but not necessary. If you too belong to this league, here’re some insights that may help you to change your mind. In 2016, tablet and mobile traffic surpassed desktop traffic. Almost 12% of people in the US only used mobile devices to access the internet in 2016 – a study by eMarketer reveals. As this number will be continually growing in 2017, more and more number of customers are likely to make procurements and handle other tasks through their mobile devices. With Google’s announcement of ‘mobile-first’ culture and launching of the feature of Accelerated Mobile Pages, e-commerce businesses have to adopt mobile marketing strategy in 2017 to be competitive.
- Customer Experience
Another e-commerce trend that is likely to rock 2017 is the increased significance of customer retention than that of customer acquisition. Most people who can access internet easily already shop online and hence they’re well aware of the selection power they have. As of now, a majority of niches are already saturated which makes customer acquisition more competitive than ever together with high prices. It sends out a signal that e-commerce businesses should concentrate on the consumers they already have. When acquiring new consumers becomes more difficult, you can start with a restricted target group for your niche products at first – concentrating your focus on catering to the existing consumer group instead. The future lies in making your consumers happy repeatedly and expanding your product offering in accordance with their needs.
- Big Data Analytics
Regardless of its size, any business can enjoy the advantages of big data analytics. As the e-commerce landscape is gaining huge momentum in terms of opportunities and potential, online shopping is becoming one of the most preferred options. Ecommerce business owners now need to reach new consumers with tailor-made offers. Big Data acts as a valuable tool that opens up new paths of business development in the e-commerce sector. Like other sectors, e-commerce is also benefitting from Big Data analytics. In e-commerce, Big Data is divided into two categories namely structured and unstructured. Structured data is the general data that e-commerce businesses capture through various means. These include name, address, preferences, age and sex, among others. Conversely, unstructured data provides more value over structured data. Unstructured data comprises of likes, clicks, tweets and videos, among others. The challenge with unstructured data is how to make meaningful insights out of them that help to increase conversion rate. To sustain in this competitive business landscape, e-commerce companies have to be one of the quickest adopters of Big Data analytics. Companies can use Big Data analytics for personalization, predictive analysis, pricing, managing supply chain etc.
- Selling on Social Network
Today, ‘Buy’ buttons can be found on almost every social network sites like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest etc. According to e-commerce trends, consumers want their shopping experiences to be most convenient and fast at the same time. Hence, social network sites make the purchasing process shortened and empower customers to purchase right on their platforms. So this is going to be one of the top e-commerce trends in 2017. Let’s have a look at the top three social media marketplaces.
- Facebook marketplace: Though it’s much similar to Craigslist, it contains more information on the buyers/sellers, thus providing more trustworthiness. The main benefit of using Facebook marketplace is your product/service would be instantaneous reach to a whopping number of 1.71 billion users on a platform familiar to them.
- Pinterest buyable pins: With approximately 100 million active users per month, Pinterest buyable pins are definitely going to be the next big thing when it comes to 2017 ecommerce trends. It comes with two significant advantages: firstly, Pinners tend to place larger orders compared to their counterparts on other social platforms and secondly, consumers can checkout directly simply by using Apple Pay or a card.
- Instagram shoppable posts: Instagram now comes with a feature of ‘shoppable posts’ where consumers can view product details for branded photos and click on the ‘Shop Now’ button which will take them to seller’s website for completing the checkout process.
- Chatbots (Virtual Shopping Assistance)
Chatbots use Instant Messaging, which is one of the platforms that people are most comfortable with. While some shoppers may use them just for the fun quotient, serious shoppers too can use them to make a purchase decision. Sale of simple or familiar products can get a boost with chatbots. You may even cross-sell or upsell with chatbots. Some studies have found that the shopping spend of live chat users is on an average 5%-30% more than their counterparts who don’t use it. Interestingly, after a chat session, the buyer conversion rate jumps anywhere between 5 and 10 times, which make it all the more necessary to use chatbots. Since automation of processes is a growing trend in e-commerce, you too should leverage chatbots to optimize your effort and time.
If you are still in a dilemma, consider how businesses benefit from chatbots. By unveiling TacoBot on Slack – the popular messaging platform, Taco Bell – the renowned fast food chain, made it easy for customers to place orders via messaging as TacoBot asks them the right questions.
Customers of Pizza Hut and Burger King too can message the Chabot of the respective restaurants to place food orders directly via Twitter and Facebook.
- Making feel and touch
E-commerce is still fighting the touch-and-feel quotient offered by brick-and-mortar stores. To make up for it, e-commerce trends show a growing tendency to use various modes for giving as many product details as possible to the potential customer. From using multiple HD pictures of your product variants to offering a 360 degree view of the product and close-ups of various features, e-stores are using all of them to woo shoppers. In case your products need to be assembled, you can even use illustrations or animations to make the task easy for shoppers. Listing of accessories, instruments and supplies that one would need for proper use of the product is another trend that’s predicted to catch up fast.
What L’Oréal Paris did with its five diagnostic tools for hair color, hair care, skincare and cosmetics (eyes and face) shows a good way of how e-commerce retailers can offer customers the feel-and-touch factor. These tools of L’Oréal allowed customers to scan their hair colour and test make-up shades on their mobile devices in real time. The data collected during such session was further used to offer tailor-made interactions as well as customized discount coupons, all of which are expected to influence purchasing decisions significantly.
- Real time analysis
Since your online store remains open round-the-clock, you need to be proactive and spot trends and patterns rather than act reactive. That’s why you need analytics that offer real-time updates and help you to catch issues (like a problem during checkout) as they occur, or trigger follow-up emails etc. In other words, your analytics should show you the numbers live (such as sources and number of visitors from a specific geographic region, sales as they happen, see the clicks your website’s internal links are getting, if your marketing campaigns are successful in getting people to participate and if yes, the extent of their participation etc) to help you make important business decisions faster.
- Same day delivery options
As Amazon raises the bar by offering same day delivery with its Prime, businesses are facing a tough task of matching up with customer expectations of getting their ordered products as soon as possible. This is especially so in case of particular products (such as food, baby products, dresses for special events, home and hygiene goods etc) and times of the year (like the holiday season, July 4th etc). One way to meet this demand of customers is to add the option for a limited number of areas with your shipping partner, in case you don’t have a remote warehouse).
It’s interesting to note that “Prime” members of Amazon in 27 US cities get same-day delivery for free if their purchase if more than $35. Those in Vancouver and Toronto too can get their products purchased from Amazon delivered the same day.
Apart from opening smaller stores to extend its reach (and make everyday essentials like perishable foods, paper towers etc available) and working on same-day delivery arrangements with Lyft and Uber, Walmart is even considering the idea of making an in-store purchaser deliver another customer’s order on his/her way home.
Customers of Zoot – the Czech online retailer, can get their orders delivered within a few hours, after which they can try the clothes and keep just the ones they like.
- Free shipping
For a majority of shoppers, free shipping is an attractive offer. No wonder many e-commerce retailers are using it to woo their customers. You too can use the same though it would be wiser to weave in the shipping costs with your product price to steer clear of potential losses, if any. You may even test free shipping versus 1/2-day delivery offers to see what your customers prefer. For a cost-effective option, you can use the U.S. Postal Service and schedule pickup from your office or store. Making online returns simpler would also help to expand your customer base. Just make sure to use different offers and wordings (no-hassle returns, free shipping on returns etc to test which ones work the best for your business.
- More payment options
Though internet banking and credit cards are the prevalent payment options for long, many shoppers aren’t comfortable sharing their credit card details with an e-commerce retailer. That’s why the trend is to offer customers diverse payment options like MasterPass by MasterCard, PayPal, V.me by Visa, BitCoin, ApplePay, Google Wallet, and prepaid cards that customers can reload for use. After all, when someone has gotten as far as the shopping cart, it makes no sense to lose them just because your online store doesn’t have the right payment option.
MasterCard’s “selfie pay” in partnership with BMO that was launched in 2016 uses biometrics (a selfie or self-portrait in particular) to confirm a shopper’s identity. Though it verifies online purchases at present, it can be used for cashless purchases in future.
Kit and Ace stores that sell technical and minimalist apparel accept payment just via credit cards and mobile at each of their 54 locations. They have given cash payments and cash registers a complete miss.
Even the Rio Olympic Games championed cashless payments where VISA sponsored athletes were given NFC-enabled payment rings, with which they could buy what they needed at about 4,500 POS payment terminals put up at the Olympic venues.
- Easy returns
An IMRG study showed that the overall satisfaction with returns services took a beating to drop to 61% in 2015 from 68% in 2014. No wonder the quality of return services plays a key role in deciding from which e-commerce stores or retailers customers will buy from. As customers today expect more from their e-commerce stores, a growing emphasis is given on clear returns policies. For retailers, it needs elaborate planning, especially when handling international returns, to maximize trust and convenience of customers while reducing the cost for the business. For example, they can either handle and manage returns with in-house resources or outsource the task to a local partner or central logistics provider depending on the scale of their international business.
- Selection of best e-commerce platform
When choosing a platform for your e-commerce store, you should consider several factors. To begin with, consider your stock size and make sure you are paying the minimum amount for the services that you will require to run your store. Whether you are selling physical products (that would need provisions for shipping cost) or digital products is another factor to consider while choosing a platform as it should meet your specific needs. Since all e-commerce platforms don’t favour 3rd party payment processors, you should check if you can integrate PayPal or other third party payment options with your shortlisted platform. If you feel confident handling your online store on a regular basis, opt for platforms that allow you to run a self-hosted version of your store. A majority of e-commerce platforms offer you the ability to adapt your store within a live environment though. Lastly, consider your budget and see if you can pay a fixed monthly amount to the company hosting your store rather than give away a certain percentage of your sale.
If you are looking for a platform for your e-commerce store, you should consider Shopify. It is the e-commerce platform which covers all that factors which are essential for maximize your profit through the online store. Shopify Plus charges 0% transaction fees. Many e-commerce stores crash when they have to handle an extremely high volume of traffic but with Shopify Plus that built to handle 500,000 hits per minute with ease. Whether you use Paypal or Stripe, Shopify has you covered. Shopify integrates with over 70 payment gateways. As Shopify is secure, all credit card and transaction information are protected by the same level of security used by banks: a 256-bit SSL certificate. If you have a domain name you can use it. If not you can register a new name through Shopify. The Shopify mobile app allows to manage your store from your phone – manage inventory, fulfill orders, and contact a customer.
Since the e-commerce landscape is changing rapidly, it becomes important to spot and respond quickly to the latest trends. If you fall behind and wait to act reactively, you will soon lose out on your client base. What you need is to act proactively and match the forthcoming changes in this field to stay one-up on the competition and continue to give your existing and potential customers a seamless, efficient, hassle-free and safe shopping experience. So, pay close attention to these e-commerce trends for 2017 and develop your strategies accordingly.