Growing an eCommerce business is becoming more challenging as the market is saturated with more online stores and even more products.
Even though online orders increased by 8.9% in Q3 2016, average order value (AOV) increased only by 0.2% -- indicating that transactional growth is outpacing total revenue.
For many online retailers, their focus needs to be on driving revenue by catering to the fast-evolving market trends and consumer expectations.
Here are 9 eCommerce trends and how you can apply them to increase revenue:
1. Global Marketplace
While eCommerce sales in the United States are predicted to plateau, those in other parts of the world, such as Asia, are expected to continue their rapid growth. In fact, the global eCommerce market is predicted to reach $4 trillion by 2020.
Even though eCommerce makes it much easier to do business overseas, you can't just keep doing what you're doing for the US market and hope for the best.
To capitalize on the international market, brands need to localize their online presence by implementing well-translated websites, content sensitive to local cultures, and strategies in-tune with local expectations.
Pricing should be shown in local currencies, and checkout needs to accurately display taxes and shipping costs.
2. Omnichannel Experience
Don't be fooled by your "mobile conversion rate." Even though it may not be high, it doesn't mean you can ignore the mobile user experience.
"Desktop users" and "mobile users" aren't different people. Google has found that 90% of consumers use multiple screens sequentially to accomplish a task over time.
Consumers switch devices during the course of the day, so it's very likely that a customer will start browsing on a mobile device and make a purchase on the desktop later (thumb-typing at checkout isn't fun!)
What does it mean for you?
Instead of treating different customer touch points as separate entities, you have to consider how they work together in creating a seamless customer experience.
The ability to deliver an omnichannel customer experience that allows shoppers to interact with your brand across different channels and devices is the key to boosting conversion.
3. Secure Payment Options
Consumers are wary of data breaches. 34% of respondents in a survey said they hesitated to buy online because of data thefts.
Your eCommerce website should be compliant with the latest security standards. Make sure the security measures are clearly communicated to your customers -- e.g., by adding trust seals to your checkout page and checking that the "secure" icon is displayed on the browser address bar to indicate your SSL certificate is up to date.
In addition, use an Address Verification System (AVS) and CVV2 verification to further enhance your site's security. Asking for such information signals to customers that you're serious about protecting their information.
Online shoppers also want to use a payment option that they find to be the safest and most convenient.
Besides credit and debit card, consider accepting PayPal, Amazon Pay, and Google Wallet. A survey has found that many consumers prefer to use Amazon Pay and PayPal when they shop online.
4. Exceptional Customer-Centric Content
While content marketing can still help drive traffic, generate leads, and nurture relationships, it's becoming harder to get consumer's attention in this age of "content shock."
That means you need to invest in creating and promoting exceptional content to cut through the clutter and get noticed.
Experiment with innovative content by following the 70:20:10 model: spend 70% of your time and resources on content that has been proven to be effective, 20%
Your content also has to be customer-centric, personalized to your customers' needs. It's found that 61% of customers are more likely to make recurring purchases from companies that deliver custom and individualized content.
Since you're investing more in the creation and promotion of content, make sure you have a solid lead nurturing strategy to optimize the ROI of your content marketing.
5. Personalized Marketing Automation
Personalized eCommerce user experience is proven to increase conversion rate.
Marketing automation has been found to help businesses generate a 451% increase in qualified leads and a 53% boost in conversion rates.
To fully leverage the power of personalized marketing automation, you need to deliver a consistent customer experience built upon a centralized 360-degree customer profile, which is updated in real-time to reflect a customer's interaction with your brand across all channels.
Using the data from this single customer view, you can:
- Send personalized email campaigns with targeted content and offers to specific segments.
- Provide product recommendations on your website based on a customer's preferences, habits, and purchase history.
- Improve customer care by allowing shoppers to seamlessly switch channels while interacting with your brand.
- Deliver targeted online ads that are timely and relevant for each customer.
6. Curation And Subscription
A subscription model offers convenience and savings for consumers while giving businesses the advantage of generating recurring revenue.
Many subscription services also have a curation component that delivers thoughtfully selected products based on customers' preferences in a certain product category.
Pioneered by SaaS companies, the subscription model has been successfully adopted by retailers offering physical products. For example, the Dollar Shave Club (founded in 2011) is now worth $615 million.
For many subscription-based business models, a 2.5% change in churn rate can make a 30% difference in recurring revenue.
To make a subscription model sustainable and profitable, you need to focus on customer retention:
- Invest in improving your products and communicate the upgrades to your customers.
- Offer outstanding customer services.
- Make it easy for customers to manage their accounts and adjust their subscriptions.
- Reward loyal customers with discounts, offers, and gifts.
7. Artificial Intelligence and Predictive Analytics
"Big data," now available to eCommerce businesses, requires the ability to analyze and apply the information.
More and more companies are leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive analytics to help understand market demands and consumer trends so they can manage their inventories and supply chain more efficiently.
In addition, these technologies are applied to support interactive shopping:
- Offer customized product recommendations based on a customer's preferences, order history, and real-time browsing behaviors.
- Deliver targeted promotional offers to increase conversion and engagement.
- Optimize pricing to maximize profit.
- Improve customer service while reducing cost, e.g., using chatbot to automate repetitive tasks.
- Facilitate purchase, e.g., analyzing browsing behaviors and using chatbot to invite customers who seem to have trouble making a purchasing decision to start a live chat with a representative.
8. Personalized Shoppable Video
Videos with calls-to-action that link to an online store may not be new. However, combining shoppable videos with personalization technologies means you can deliver targeted messaging for each stage in a customer's journey:
- Awareness: an interactive video is a great way to capture an audience's attention. It's found that custom interactive video drives nearly 39% more awareness than standard pre-roll campaigns through interactive features.
- Interest: hotspots on interactive videos allow consumers to click on a video to get more information about a product. In addition, brands can engage consumers on multiple screens, using QR codes to deliver additional content.
- Consideration: demo video can show a product in action then ends with an additional video gallery with more how-to videos or product information.
- Purchase: streamline the buying experience by showing a "buy now" button next to a featured item on a video, encouraging consumers to take action in the moment.
9. Facebook Messenger
Facebook Messenger has 70 million daily users and reaches 1.3 billion people every month.
This is a platform you can't afford to ignore.
A survey found that more than 50% of consumers are more likely to shop with a business that they can message with throughout the entire customer journey.
Also, 63% said being able to make payment through the messaging app matters.
Facebook has implemented a chatbot technology in its Messenger app, which you can use to build relationships with your customers while driving sales.
In addition to delivering a seamless user experience that allows your customers to complete purchases within the platform, you can also use Facebook Messenger to drive sales by:
- Delivering your content or help customers discover content to build trust and increase conversion.
- Generating leads and increase engagement through click-to-Messenger ads.
- Re-engaging potential customers who have visited your site or asked questions via Messenger but haven't made a purchase.
- Reaching your target audience one-on-one with Messenger ads.
- Providing timely customer support.
Many of these eCommerce trends point to the need for creating a seamless customer-centric omnichannel shopping experience, whether it's through the use of technologies or more thoughtful UX design.