During the holiday season, e-commerce companies need to be at the top of their game when it comes to attracting customers and encouraging purchases. Several different approaches are leveraged to achieve this. Organizational leaders often look to the recent trends in the industry to give their company a certain edge.
With this in mind, here are today's top e-commerce trends:
Mobile isn't just a gimmick anymore
One of the biggest trends to take note of, if your business hasn't already, is the large-scale shift toward the mobile platform. Today, many consumers do much – if not all – of their shopping via their smartphone or tablet. In fact, according to Business 2 Community contributor Nilesh Rohra, more than half of all e-commerce traffic originates from mobile devices. What's more, 32 percent of all purchases made are conducted over a wireless gadget. As a result, e-commerce companies are focusing more on their mobile presence – and rightfully so. Firms can take considerable steps toward success in this arena with a mobile-optimized application or website. And as mobile payment applications – including Google Wallet and Apple Pay – become more popular, enterprises should ensure that they are compatible with all the ways their customers want to make purchases.
High-quality, engaging website content
When it comes to mobile e-commerce websites and applications, consumers simply aren't satisfied with the run-of-the-mill content anymore. James Hardy, e-commerce expert and head of Alibaba.com's European branch, told Start Your Business that companies whose websites include dull product descriptions and uninteresting graphics might as well be pushing their customers right toward their competitors. Content that is of a higher quality will not only better engage customers, but can considerably boost traffic levels as well.
Reduced shipping timelines
Today's consumers aren't used to waiting. Let's face it – they can quickly purchase nearly any item they might want within seconds, with the simple click (or tap) of a button. So why should they have to wait days – or weeks even – to receive their items? This is often the only obstacle that prevents shoppers from choosing an e-commerce firm for their purchases over a brick-and-mortar retailer. However, firms like Amazon and eBay have begun leading the way with faster shipping. In some cases, customers can receive their items on the same day. While this might not be possible in every instance, reduced shipping times are taking hold in the e-commerce industry, and are something that companies should strive for.
A personal, positive experience
Rohra pointed out that nearly 90 percent of customers said they began doing business with one company after having a bad experience with a competitor. This is completely understandable, as nearly everyone can relate to switching brands after not being fully satisfied. However, one trend that is emerging is the use of consumer information to create a more personalized experience for shoppers. In fact, 73 percent of customers said they'd rather make purchases with a company that leverages such a strategy.
"By tracking users' behaviors, companies can provide personalized recommendations of products, services and related offers, resulting in increase of engagement with the likelihood of making a purchase," Rohra wrote.
A customized shopping experience can also help brands retain their customers, not to mention attract new ones.
What to consider when implementing a new strategy
These trends all represent relatively new ways of doing things. Whenever companies look to implement a new strategy of this kind, there are a few things they need to consider to ensure its success. According to Jim Sisson of Vantage Associates, a leading strategic planning firm, these factors are summarized thusly:
- A commitment to change: Sisson noted that this commitment should begin with higher-ups, but eventually include all employees. After all, if staff members aren't willing to make the necessary changes, the new initiative will likely not take hold within the business.
- Support for the strategy: The firm must also have the proper structure within their organization to support the new strategy. For example, if the company wants to improve their website, they must have the solutions and resources in place to support the project. This can include a hosting system coupled with e-commerce-specific solutions like shopping cart and other software. This technology will ensure that the company is equipped to optimize its online presence.
- Benchmarks to measure progress: Whenever something new is instituted in a business, administrators need a way to measure the initiative's success. In the case of e-commerce firms, these benchmarks can include an increase in customers, purchases or profit margins.
- Mindfulness of goals: Sisson also recommends not losing sight of the company's overarching priorities: "Resources are always limited and if you don't have clear priorities, you dilute resources chasing the unimportant," Sisson wrote.