The downward revenue spiral of brick and mortar means your e-commerce strategy takes on an added urgency. Now is the time to optimize and maximize your e-commerce presence. In fact, it is more important than ever to create a healthy symbiosis between your in-store and online businesses. We are in the midst of an unprecedented growth surge for e-commerce retail: The industry is expected to more than double, from $2.3 trillion in 2017 to $4.88 trillion in 2021.
To capitalize on this major forward momentum for your business and enhance revenue, you need to start thinking of your brand as what’s been called a “click-and-mortar” or “click-and-brick” enterprise, where both online and in-store operations work synergistically to generate greater profits. It’s vital to stay up-to-date on key e-commerce trends that can strengthen your online presence as well as your overall brand.
While nothing can exactly replicate the experience of going into a store and trying on clothes, feeling the fabric, and getting an accurate representation of color and fit, important innovations are bringing this IRL shopping experience closer than ever to computers and mobile phones. What’s most important to keep in mind is that the following e-commerce trends are all aimed at delivering the optimal customer experience—and that’s a worthy goal to have in all facets of your business.
1. Make it personal.
Giving customers what they want in your online store is easier than ever with the right e-commerce tools. This can include using a shopper’s purchasing history to create specific product recommendations, targeted emails, and meaningful coupons and discounts that are all custom curated to the individual. You can do this with the use of data-generating tools that deliver consumer information on a granular scale to better reach customers. Personalizing the e-commerce experience can deliver true results. The research and advisory firm Gartner estimates that this kind of “tailored help” can increase purchases by 20%. Plus, there is the less tangible, but no less important, benefit of developing a trusted relationship between your brand and your customers. When you give shoppers more of what they are looking for, they will come back and make purchases again and again.
2. Deliver the goods—quickly.
Instant gratification used to be the domain of brick-and-mortar stores, where you could buy something and take it home with you. Now we live in a world where two-day, next-day, and even same-day shipping are commonplace. If your delivery service hasn’t gotten up to speed yet, it could be time to review how you can improve performance in this area. There are many third-party options that can help you avoid falling behind the curve in this key aspect of customer service. If drop ship fulfillment and logistics aren’t in your wheelhouse, finding a partner that excels in the field is vital. Don’t wait on this one: By the end of 2019, it is estimated that same-day delivery service will be offered by 65% of online retailers. They know that providing the shortest possible delivery time is one of the surest ways — if not an outright requirement — to build competitive advantage and meet the customer’s demands for convenience. Speedy delivery boosts revenue through driving repeat business, reaching key demographics, and providing a pricing opportunity: 56% of online consumers between ages 18 to 34 expect access to same-day delivery, and 61% of consumers are willing to pay more for it.
3. Get interactive with customers.
It’s one thing to look at a photo of a product. But it’s another thing entirely to see how a shade of lipstick or a pair of glasses looks on you. Augmented reality delivers the technology to make this possible—for instance, snap a photo of your room and use it to see how a new couch or paint color would look there. And consumers are responding: One study found that augmented reality was more than twice as engaging to people than a plain photo. And since engagement drives conversion, the increasing activation of AR in e-commerce is bound to drive sales. A 2016 survey found that 53% of responding adults said they would be more likely to buy from a brand that uses virtual reality (VR) than from a brand that does not. Global retail leaders are climbing on board with VR/AR: early adopters include IKEA (virtual showrooms), Zara (virtual fashion show), CoverGirl (virtual makeovers), and Coca-Cola (virtual merchandising). The trend is taking off in B2B as well: by 2022, “the number of VR experiences in B2B will account for 40% of all experiences.”
4. Find your voice online.
We’re all on a first-name basis with Siri, Cortana, and Alexa. That dynamic is changing the way content is optimized for searches. The focus is now shifting towards writing content that answers questions posed by search users (“Siri, where is the closest shoe store?”) and more closely reflects the way people talk. Some companies are finding that keywords are also changing shape, focusing more on long-tail terms that incorporate words often used as part of a question, such as “where” and “how.” Providing value in your digital content by answering questions, telling stories, and addressing issues in your brand’s unique voice creates a personalized connection that moves buyers through their purchase journey and thus generates more revenue.
Learn more about how Branded Online can help you harness the latest technology to meet your brand’s e-commerce needs. The right partner can help you reverse a drop in revenue, deliver great results and give you the tools you need to invigorate your online presence. That will pay huge dividends—both for your customers and for your bottom line.