The world of e-commerce is always changing. By 2021, the global online retail industry is expected to be worth nearly $5 trillion — almost double the 2017 figure.
This growth is driven in large part by a range of exciting marketing and sales innovations. Both B2C and B2B e-commerce are at the forefront of the technological shift toward faster, easier, more personalized customer experiences.
Buyers are spending more money than ever before online. But they’re also developing a broader and more nuanced set of expectations.
By staying ahead of key industry trends, you’ll ensure that you’re one step ahead of your competitors. You’ll be able to consistently adapt your sales and marketing strategies for optimal results, leveraging what works and dropping what doesn’t.
Online retailers are increasingly providing personalized experiences to their customers.
The figures don’t lie when it comes to sales and revenue. Ninety-one percent of customers prefer brands that offer personalization, and marketers have reported a 17% increase in revenue when using personalization in their email campaigns.
A handful of key trends stand out in the e-commerce sector:
When all of the factors above are implemented together, the result is an individual customer journey that caters to specific needs and desires.
When was the last time you ordered a pizza through Facebook Messenger? What about a new pair of shoes on Instagram? Or a taxi through WhatsApp?
AI-driven chatbots, which allow brands to cost-effectively interact with customers at-scale are becoming increasingly popular as shopping channels. It’s possible for customers to open up their favorite messenger app and make first-time or repeat purchases with only a few clicks.
Other features like Instagram shopping enable customers to buy directly from retailers without having to leave the social media app they’re using.
While traditional online storefronts remain the most important e-commerce channel, the convenience that secondary avenues offer has led to a boom in their popularity.
It’s expected that mobile commerce (m-commerce) sales will surpass desktop sales by 2021.
This is a significant shift for retailers. Traditionally, optimization efforts have tended to focus on desktop sites. The prevalence of the dedicated mobile sites we now see is a relatively recent shift.
As mobile sales continue to grow, however, retailers are increasingly seeking to optimize mobile experiences, rather than just cover the basics. Google now uses mobile-first indexing which prioritizes mobile content (as opposed to the desktop content) for ranking.
This commitment to improving mobile user experiences encompasses a wide array of changes, from streamlined checkout forms that integrate with mobile payment options, to page-wide CTAs that can be clicked with either thumb.
Transactional emails are emails that contain information about a transaction. They differ from marketing emails in the sense that they focus on specific details about a purchase.
Transactional emails are central to the customer experience and can boost satisfaction. A solid transactional email strategy is essential to modern e-commerce.
Here are the main types of transactional emails:
Interestingly, transactional emails hold opportunities for marketing. It’s possible, for example, to include upsells or complimentary product suggestions (that can be included in the same delivery) along with an order confirmation.
Visit any popular e-commerce store and you’ll likely see numerous notifications along the lines of, “Free Shipping on Orders Over $50,” “Same-Day Delivery for Orders Placed Before 6 p.m.,” or “10% of All Profit Goes to Charity.”
In the past, it was unusual for retailers to offer additional extras like free shipping or next-day delivery. Customers now expect these “sweeteners.” Equally, it’s becoming more common for customers to opt for stores have an ethical approach.
Fundamentally, retailers are seeking to create value propositions that cater to emerging expectations and go above and beyond the competition.
It’s not enough anymore to offer a great product at a competitive price. Other secondary factors, like delivery, loyalty rewards, customer service, ethical considerations and more, are playing into customers’ buying decisions.
Analyzing and predicting trends is a risky business. Even the most seasoned marketing experts can’t predict the future. The best they can do is make educated and data-backed guesses.
That’s why testing is so crucial. As you adapt your own business to take advantage of the trends above, ensure that you consistently track and measure results. This will enable you to separate effective strategies and tactics from ones that don’t have any real value.
Pawel Ogonowski is the co-founder of Growcode, the first conversion rate optimization System as a Service that guarantees revenue growth for B2C online stores. With 10+ years of e-commerce experience, Pawel has helped companies (e.g. Limango, Virgin Mobile, Eniro, 4F, Showroom, Budapester) leverage data from their online channels to improve user experience that results in higher conversion rates, average order value and customer lifetime value.