Top Trends in E-commerce for 2016 & Beyond

Top 5 e-commerce latest tech trends

· Improved shopping experience on mobile. Omni-channel is the new black. 85% of online customers start their shopping journey on one device and complete an online transaction on another. These multi-channel guys spend 3 times more than your average customers; you surely don’t want to miss the opportunity, right? However, it is mobile that drives 50% of US e-commerce revenues. Does your shopping cart software works fine on mobile? If you have a mobile-friendly website, you’re certainly doing better than 32% of US businesses! However, users now spend 85% of their mobile time in apps — but only 5 applications (including Facebook) see heavy use. Customers need a strong incentive to download and use a retail mobile application, and that’s why forward-thinking brands like Starbucks, Sephora and Gilt create stellar customer loyalty programs. There’s another way to reach target audience on mobile; have you ever heard of chatbots? The Artificial Intelligence-powered assistants successfully handle brand-to-consumer communication and are considerably cheaper to develop than native mobile applications. Thanks to Facebook, Kik and WeChat, companies can create chatbots that run inside messaging apps and interact with potential customers through the channel they’re accustomed to (in 2015, messengers were used by 1.4 billion people worldwide);

“E-commerce and mobile commerce have dramatically changed the way brands reach customers, making it faster and easier for consumers to make purchases on the fly while avoiding the hassles of going to the store”
Hil Davis (co-founder of J. Hilburn)

· Personalization. Long gone are the days when marketers built endless email lists and bombarded their existing or potential customers with lifeless robotic letters. And even traditional social media marketing (although 76% of US population have at least one social media account) is less important nowadays. Your customers want the freedom to choose what to read, watch and listen to. That’s one of the reasons why 75% of marketers are using influencer marketing (an influencer is a person your target audience looks up to and eagerly follows on social networks). There are several ways to deliver more personal experience to your customers. You could publish your content directly on Facebook using the Instant Articles service. With the help of abandoned cart alerts (available on Magento, BigCommerce and several other e-commerce platforms), you could contact visitors who left your website amidst an online transaction. Make sure to send thank-you emails to your buying customers — and create personalized product recommendations based on their purchase history. Use cookie and social data to identify shoppers by name when they access your store. Consider building a dedicated mobile app (at least a cross-platform one). Practice non-intrusive ads — after all, over 200 million users employ ad blocking solutions while online. 89% of retailers admit customer experience will be their top priority in 2016 & beyond. Are you game?

“Mobile is now the primary access to online retail for most consumers. As a result, retailers really need to rethink how they deliver their online shopping experience”
Andrew Lipsman (VP of Marketing at comScore)

· Real-time analytics. Forewarned is forearmed, right? Provided you understand customer buying behavior and preferences, you can put your energy in the right place, boost sales and deliver better shopping experience to your clients. Customer loyalty programs, beacons and tools like Advanced Magento Analytics will surely help you collect tons of valuable data. Then you can purchase a SaaS analytics solution — or develop a custom enterprise application & integrate it with your CRM. Retailers who use big data increase business margins and productivity by 60% and 1%, respectively;

· Video-focused content marketing. In 2015 Facebook video viewership doubled, reaching 8 billion views per day. This year 65% of US marketers want to increase their budgets on video content. 73% of B2B organizations that use some form of video marketing report positive impact on their ROI. According to KissMetrics, 85% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase after watching a product video. However, building a successful video marketing strategy is quite a challenge. First, you need to set your business objectives (increase brand awareness, educate customers or drive sales), Second, you should find out what type of video content resonates with your target audience (humorous videos typically get more shares on social media). Finally, decide what platforms you’re going to distribute your content on and create a high-quality video in several formats. After Zappos added videos to product pages, their sales grew by 30%. Video content helped Salesforce Marketing Cloud increase the average time spent on their website by 100%. Why not follow their example?

· The emerging Internet of Things. We’ve briefly told you about real-time analytics and its impact on business growth. In case you wonder where the big data comes from, here’s the answer: the Internet of Things. Within five years retailers are expected to invest $ 2.5 billion in IoT solutions (with beacons & RFID tags taking the lead). In 2016, beacons will directly influence $ 44 billion in sales. 71% of retailers who use beacons (Macy’s, Target and Taylor & Lloyd to name a few) claim IoT-generated data helps them understand customer behavior better. Biometric technology (methods of recognizing a person by physiological or behavioral characteristics) is trending, too. By 2017, 500 million people around the globe will have smartphones equipped with biometric technology. How could your company possibly benefit from using IoT solutions in e-commerce? You might pull a Domino and connect easy order buttons to customers’ smartphones. Or use RFID tags to improve inventory management. Think big — and learn from the best, of course.

“There are so many opportunities on the horizon, from mobile exclusives to geo-located offers to better filtering and searching. We’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible with personalization”
Michelle Peluzo (CEO of Gilt Groupe)

E-commerce is huge, but the industry’s failure rate is impressive, too (around 80%). Startups often lack funding, face too much competition or do not invest in professional photography and website/app development. Provided you have a well-thought-out strategy and address an experienced vendor, your business is doomed to success.