Today’s global and local marketplaces change much faster than a decade ago and developing a sound business development strategy has become an increasingly difficult task. Still, marketers looking for pointers in developing their e-commerce strategies will find some facts, figures and trends to guide them. Here are top 7 key e-commerce strategy development trends for 2016.
1. Online sales will increase
A research study from Forrester Research entitled ‘U.S. Online Retail Forecast, 2011-2016’ makes one thing clear – the revenues from online sales will continue to grow from 7% of overall retail sales in 2011, to 9% by 2016. The average number of annual online spending per person will increase from $1,207 (noted in 2011) to $1,738 in 2016. (http://www.forrester.com/US+Online+Retail+Forecast+2011+To+2016/fulltext/-/E-RES60672?docid=60672)
What does it mean for you? With the certainty of consumers being attracted to online shopping, you should make an effort to understand your target audiences – especially their needs, habits and preferences that are connected to finalizing their purchase.
Knowledge on why consumers abandon shopping carts will be crucial – it will help you to formulate strategies for recapturing those customers, boost the conversion rate of your website and increase the average order value.
2. Forth quarter will continue to dominate online sales
Holidays should become your main focus. Already in 2011, e-commerce sales made up for 15% of all holiday sales – and this tendency is likely to increase as consumers get more comfortable with shopping online and choose to buy their holiday and Christmas gifts from the comfort of their homes.
How to take advantage of this knowledge? Prepare special deals and temporary promotions way earlier than your competition. The Forrester study mentioned before demonstrated that 70% of shoppers who made a purchase during the fourth quarter did so mainly due to encountering special prices and promotions.
Make sure to extend your deals beyond specified holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas – some surprise promotions will only help you to hold the attention of your target audience and profit from it once the holiday period begins in earnest.
3. More sales from existing online shoppers
Forrester makes it clear that the growing number of new online shoppers does bring increases in the sector, but really it’s the existing online shoppers that are able to make a real difference. Online retailers should consider the totality of experience on their website and reconsider those elements that might deter existing and experienced shoppers from finalizing their purchases.
What can you do to make sure experienced online shoppers make a purchase at your e-store? Research your target audience – define their demographic data, locations, age, habits, preferences and needs. Only this knowledge will allow you to transform traffic into actual sales.
4. Online loyalty programs are important
The numbers might not be high, but loyalty itself is a value every retailer should aspire to. While in 2010, around 9% of online shoppers belonged to loyalty program, just one year later this figure grew to 12%.
A loyalty program has a lot of potential – you can reward loyal customers with special promotions and unique sales opportunities. Loyalty programs are a great means of building brand awareness – you can reach out to consumers through newsletters, promotion messages or even on social media, creating a strong online community around your brand.
5. Going mobile
This trend is an obvious one. A study by eMarketers suggests that between 2013 and 2017, mobile market penetration will grow from 61.1% to 69.4%. Just to give you an idea – last year, there were 1.75 billion smartphones being used all over the world. (http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Smartphone-Users-Worldwide-Will-Total-175-Billion-2014/1010536)
It’s high time online retailers acknowledged the importance of mobile – in 2016, this will be the last call for all those of you who underestimated mobile platforms for generating sales.
One of the most important factors in retailers lagging behind other businesses who quickly embraced mobile is the following: people like to browse through e-stores on-the-go, but sometimes still switch to desktop computers or laptops in order to finalize the purchase.
What does it mean for you? Make sure your website is optimized for various screen resolutions and devices. Smart mobile optimization is the ultimate step towards the future – m-commerce is predicted to quickly gain stem in the near future.
A recent research study from yStats (http://www.ystats.com/) on the main trends in B2C e-commerce market in the near future revealed that one of the most important factors in increasing sales will be retailers’ willingness to offer a personalized experience by customizing their services and integrating their online channels to any device.
Going forward to meet the needs, desires and preferences of their target audience, retailers will place more emphasis on providing relevant content generated on the basis of previous searches and make every step of the shopping experience way more personalized and focused on one target audience.
Key takeaway: follow this personalization trend, or you’ll risk your target audience choosing a different product provider.
6. Group buying
Collective buying websites like Groupon have grown into huge proportions during the last couple of years and their future is quite certain. The report by yStats (http://www.ystats.com/) showed that one of the strongest markets for this type of retail is Middle East, where daily deals websites and group buying have significantly boosted the B2C e-commerce.
It’s quite certain that in the future we’ll see those websites morph into more personalized and targeted services, designed to meet the requirements of experienced online shoppers.
7. Social media will play a crucial role in traveling business
Another interesting insight – social networks are predicted to play an increasingly important role in the sector of traveling. Helping consumers search information about their trips, hotels, destinations and touristic attractions is something online retailers could use in their branding strategy.
Mobile will play a role in this as well, since more and more travelers are prone to organize their journeys through their smartphones or tablets. They bring mobile devices with them and use them at every moment of their trip, giving a chance to retailers for benefiting from micro-location technologies, such as QR codes to reach their audiences.
The Forrester research study claims that by 2016, consumers will spend $327 billion per year on online shopping. This kind of figure clearly means that the best years for e-commerce are in front of us – retailers should be aware of the fact that it means higher competition and develop e-commerce strategies that address latest industry trends and provide a great online shopping experience.
The article was contributed by Monica Wells of BizDb.co.uk