2016 will continue to be an innovator's market, and if you're not adapting and evolving to meet the needs of your customers, then there is a good chance you'll be left behind. This is being seen in almost every facet of our lives, from how we go on vacation (Airbnb) to how we catch a cab (Uber). The same can be said for online shopping. No longer is a simple store with some nice items enough to wrangle in the shopper, online business owner will have to continue to make strides if they are to keep up with online powerhouses like Amazon.
We've compiled a couple of trends emerging in the ecommerce realm below, so make sure to check them out if you're a shop owner or thinking about opening an online boutique.
Robust shopping carts: Gone are the days of simple, one dimensional shopping carts. Instead, business owners are looking for platforms that can adapt and change to fit their needs, ones that allow for additional plugins and options past just "check out" and "view cart." Ecwid, is one such application that allows for complete customization for the web owner.
Featuring a robust set of tools and an ever-expanding app market, Ecwid puts the power in the seller's hands. Unlike Shopify, Ecwid doesn't require a new website, it can easily be integrated into almost any website including Wordpress and Joomla! builds. As an added bonus, and a show in the change in our times, you can even integrate your shop into your Facebook business page and Tumblr accounts.
With different tiers available, including a free one, Ecwid has the perfect plan for your store; it's no wonder they support over 900k online stores, compared to Shopify's 200k shops. The app market, available on all plans but the free one, allows you to fine tune your store to exactly how you want it. Smart recommendations, live chat software, and printed shipping labels are just a few of the integrations that are offered in the app market.
Business is changing and people stay on the go. Having a responsive app like Ecwid that can easily be accessed by customers anywhere, on any device, will be key in attracting and keeping customers.
Rich content and branding to drive sales: Impulse buys are still very much a thing, but shop owners should look to engage their customer base by telling a story through their product. Maybe not every individual piece, but there should be an overarching theme, one that you should talk about and focus on.
Rich, engaging stories and comment descriptions can help sway that on-the-fence buyer. And this doesn't just go for B2C transactions, but B2B, as well. In the business world, clients want to know exactly what they're getting before dropping dough down on what is essentially an investment into their own business. Dynamic blog posts and helpful instructional videos can put to rest any concerns a potential customer may have. If branding is not one of your strong suits, or you simply don't have the time, using a company like Monigle can help you define your business and story.
Payment methods that work for you and the customer: Traditional payment methods like debit and credit are still very relevant, but having payment options that give customers more options should stay in the forefront of your mind. Whether it's using Paypal to accept payments, or even Bitcoin payment options, find out what your customers are using and make sure to include that option during checkout.
In addition, having payment gateways that work for you can help keep costs and time down. Square (which integrates with Ecwid, mentioned earlier) allows you to sell anywhere and lets shop owners to tie in their inventory across multiple outlets, meaning that you do not have to manually manage your inventory when an item sells, saving you time and money.
Faster Shipping: One of the biggest issues with shopping online is that many people are impatient, and having to wait 5-7 days for an item to arrive can seem like an eternity. It is one of the main factors when a customer decides against online shopping, and instead goes to a physical brick and mortar to buy a "similar" product, even if it isn't exactly the one they wanted. That says a lot about customers' shopping habits, and that convenience and timely delivery plays a huge role in the decision making process.
Amazon now offering things like "same day delivery" is setting a precedent for online shopping. Faster shipping will be a key in 2016 to keep your customers coming back to your store for purchases. Having reliable shipping methods that can get the product into your customers' hands in the shortest amount of time will be paramount to keep them coming back to your store.
Flash sales: We're impulse buyers. We like buying things we think we're getting a great deal on, even if it isn't something we actually had planned on purchasing. Which begs the question, "Is it actually a good deal if I had never planned on buying it in the first place?"
While that might be a discussion for another article, the fact of the matter is that impulse buys on cheap products is one of the driving factors behind the success of events like Black Friday. The same can be said for online shopping. Flash sales, sales that seemingly appear out of nowhere with crazy low prices, is a great way to reel in customers and get them interested in your shop. You can do this by using a plugin like WP Popup for Wordpress or by using targeted Facebook Advertising to advertise your limited-time sale. Even if they end up not purchasing something during your flash sale, your store and brand are now in their heads and their history folder, and they might be back later when in need of something you offer.
Ecommerce, like every industry, is currently going through a lot of changes. Contextual marketing and the Internet of Things is changing how we have content delivered to us. Having a great product is truly only step one of the equation now. You'll need to also focus on things like quick shipping, beautiful mobile experiences, and rich content to drive customers to not only your site, but through the purchasing process, as well.
Contextual shopping: contextual shopping becoming the new "personalized shopping experience": Personalized website greetings and item recommendations based on past orders is great, but it can, and will, be so much more. Contextual shopping takes it to the next level thanks to things like customer-centric tech and the Internet of Things.
Relevant items based on past searches or through information from things like wearable tech will be the next step in not only ecommerce stores, but marketing in general. While it may seem almost scary to think that all of your devices and accounts are sharing and remembering this data to target you, there is an obvious convenience factor there that simply can't be overlooked, and one that should be utilized if you're a shop owner.