Just like any other sector, ecommerce is under dynamic development. As consumers mature, they start to expect more in terms of usability and functionality of services – and smart ecommerce owners should pick up on these tendencies to deliver the best experience possible. What’s in store for ecommerce industry in 2016? Here are 8 key trends you should incorporate into your strategy for the upcoming year.
1. Mobile isn’t going anywhere
This is something we all know for sure – mcommerce will continue to grow, mostly thanks to improved mobile engagement. According to Gartner, by 2017 consumer mobile engagement behavior will drive mobile revenue to 50% of the general ecommerce revenue in the US. Mobile platforms will also become important in fostering brand communication, allowing consumers to interact and engage with brands. If you sill haven’t optimized your store for mobile, this is the last call.
2. Marketing automation
Marketing automation isn’t anything new, but it will gain a new prominence in ecommerce of the future. When it comes to online stores, the scope of today’s marketing automation usually includes just email marketing. In the future, more ecommerce owners will build customized landing pages, provide easily-accessible shopping carts, personalize discounts and promotions, and automatically show related products for customers.
This of course doesn’t mean that you should forget about emails. Automated marketing will change in this regard as well – helping you to send customized emails to each customer, informing them about promotions and new arrivals on the basis of their shopping or browsing history.
3. Less personalization, more contextual shopping
Personalization was big in 2015. Ecommerce owners know that addressing every customer by name and having a site remembering their preferences is a good idea, but next year they should prepare for something more – context. A context-based website provides a great experience even to users who aren’t logging in or registered to the site. It will still display only relevant information and content which will assist users in their online purchase journey. Consumer-centric technologies are popping up all over the market, and soon brands will be able to track a consumer and anticipate their needs by providing just the information that they need. Shopping will simply become a truly seamless experience.
4. Content marketing on the rise
And it will be especially important for B2B marketers. B2B buyers are generally interested in education – they like to learn more about a product. They want details and specifications, rich images, practical videos, and spot-on product guidelines. In 2016, marketers will understand that all these elements are a must in their campaigns – and that’s where they’ll decide to rely on content marketing.
Content will be used not only for education, but also for notifying users about new products and personalized promotions. Content marketing will ensure a continual communication between the brand and consumers. Personalization plays a prominent role in content marketing – only customized content will engage consumers, foster trust and loyalty, only to finally increase sales.
5. Flash sales
Flash sales aren’t a novelty, bur their impact on ecommerce will be fully acknowledged in 2016. Flash sales are something consumers expect, especially when special occasions are on the way. Even if they don’t always succeed, flash sales are an excellent strategy for mobilizing customers to visit your website and browse your product offer. They can last from a few hours to a few days. Some sales are limited to time-frames like 60 minutes. Before introducing a flash sale, make sure that your website can handle the new traffic and that it’s optimized for mobile – this way more consumers will have access to your store, increasing your sales.
6. Improved shipping services
When it comes to ecommerce, shipping options are only beginning to evolve. Remember that same-day delivery appeared only a couple of years ago – and so did the idea of ‘crowdsourced deliverers’. In 2016, specialized shipping services will remain the most appreciated mode of delivery.
Some people are talking about drone delivery systems, but the regulation approvals haven’t been set up yet. Those will of course vary from country to country. But Amazon is looking into the crowdsource delivery options, so we can expect that ecommerce retailers will do their best to spoil customers with shipping choices and ensure the highest quality of the service. Shipping is, after all, about trust.
7. Online stores will have staff
In 2016, more brands than ever will allocate resources to creating virtual sales staff. Those will be different than customer service representatives who usually provide help once the purchase is completed. Virtual sales people, on the other hand, will guide customers through the purchase tunnel – just like the staff in physical stores who are trained to assist consumers with in-store purchasing decisions.
8. Real-time analytics will boom
Traditional ecommerce analytics are proving to be less efficient these days. If retailers can have a website problem undetected for days or weeks, no wonder they’re on the lookout for more efficient kind of analytics. In real-time analytics, retailers will be able to see what customers are doing – all in real time! If a consumer encounters a problem, they will get immediate help to prevent them from abandoning the site.
This can have a huge impact on abandonment rates. With traditional analytics, retailers can learn that a percentage of people abandon their shopping carts before checkout. And that’s pretty much it. With innovative real-time, actionable ecommerce analytics, they’ll instantly pick up the nature of the problem – for instance a coupon code that makes customers bounce – and address it as soon as possible. Instead of losing that sale, they can instantly provide the shopper with a coupon code which works and successfully save the sale.
Following these trends, you can be sure to rock the ecommerce scene in 2016 and provide a great experience to consumers visiting your estore.
The article was consulted with Kate Bones – an ecommerce expert working for British diectors search platform.