The eCommerce environment is always evolving, and it’s important to keep your finger on the pulse of trends in culture and technology so you can gain or maintain a lead over your competition. However, your company is likely best served by you focusing on your personal zone of genius – that’s where we come in! You can count on us to keep up-to-date with top eCommerce trends, so you can stay in your lane and do whatever it is that you do best. Read on for our advice on how to implement 2017’s top eCommerce trends.
1. Streamlined mobile shopping
What’s the best way to get someone to do something? Make it easy. With more and more consumers using mobile devices to browse, research, and shop for purchases, it’s imperative that eCommerce stores cater to this crowd. Want more conversions from mobile shoppers? Make it easy to buy. In 2017, streamline the online shopping experience for your store by accepting payment via mobile wallets. PayPal, Apple Pay, Android Pay, and many other mobile wallet apps are available and highly popular with shoppers who frequently purchase through the smartphones and mobile devices. Electronic wallets allow shoppers to finish a purchase in a few quick clicks, meaning a faster and easier shopping experience for them (and more sales for your store). Anything you can do to lower the amount of time and effort it takes to purchase your products will increase your sales.
2. Evolved marketing strategies on social media
You may be thinking, “Of course, social media marketing is still going to continue to be a top eCommerce trend in 2017…” – but don’t roll your eyes just yet. How business is using social media to sell their products is changing (always), and it’s an integral tool for your business to keep up with in the ever-evolving and rapidly-growing online space. It’s no longer enough to be posting updates daily or scheduling your social media calendar well in advance. That said, your business also does not necessarily need to be on every social media platform. Here’s what you need to evoke with social media marketing in 2017:
Responsibility & Transparency
In the current economic and social climate, consumers are more sensitive about supporting socially-conscious companies. While your business may not be comfortable taking a political stance, there are many other ways to take a stand on matters that affect your company and your customers. As your business evolves and changes, consider how your company is using new strategies and technologies to become more socially responsible. For example:
Have you switched to eco-friendly materials for product production or shipping and fulfillment?
Have you upgraded to more sustainable practices?
Have you prioritized investing in your human resources by raising pay rates or increasing your standard employee benefits?
Is your staff making waves by volunteering in the community?
Are you donating products, services, or a portion of profits to charity?
These are great opportunities to spread your message to your audience while positioning yourself as a socially-responsible organization. When customers know that buying from your brand means their purchase is used to make the world a slightly better place, they will be lining up to choose your company over the competition.
Real, Live, & Uncut
Sure, it’s important that your company stays on-brand – but consumers are getting tired of overly-produced, perfectly-positioned, unattainable imagery and media. One of the beautiful things about social media is that it’s about what’s happening right this very moment, and most of the content you produce for social channels will be relatively short-lived and disposable. In 2017, aim to mix up your social feed with real, raw, unproduced content and imagery. Think: Live videos, SnapChat Stories, and take a page out of Kim Kardashian’s new Instagram aesthetic. Showing behind-the-scenes, natural, organic, unretouched content is highly appealing to the online audience. It makes your brand more approachable and can invoke a sense of familiarity from consumers, making your brand feel more relatable.
3. Bots for business
It may never be a good idea to replace a live customer service team, yet the use of bots for business is on the rise. In 2017, customers expect faster responses to their questions. Your brand can benefit from the use of chatbots on your social media channels to help respond more quickly to customer inquiries, comments, and complaints. Facebook Messenger is a great place to start, and can help your brand avoid negative customer reviews on such a widely-used social platform.
Bots for Live Chat are a great tool for your website – and many shoppers have come to expect this technology from ecommerce brands. In our fast-paced world, offering immediate customer support can make or break a sale, and many customer inquiries can be anticipated and prepared for. When choosing a bot, keep in mind that Live Chat must be easy to use on mobile (or you may do your brand a disservice).
4. Social selling & influencer marketing
Continuing with the “make it easy” mindset, in 2017, your ecommerce store should be using buy buttons and other shopping features on popular social platforms to make purchasing easier – no matter where a customer finds and interacts with your company. Whether your brand is on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, or YouTube, implementing this strategy is relatively fast and can easily increase your ROI for marketing on these platforms. Integrating these features on the social platforms you’re already using can allow customers to buy your products without ever leaving the platform they’re on.
Influencer marketing is another ever-growing trend that smart ecommerce brands are taking advantage of. Consumers trust the advice and recommendations of social influencers they follow. This is an unparalleled tool for product discovery, especially among millennials.
5. Relevant user-generated content
Help consumers make more informed purchases by utilizing user-generated content (UGC). One way to integrate user-generated content into your website is by adding galleries of product images pulled straight from customers’ Instagram profiles by using brand tags. This method extracts even more juice from strategic social campaigns as you can repurpose content in your marketing, email campaigns, social posts, and blogs. Customers are generally eager to share photos of products they love on their social profiles, and user-generated content serves as rich content for inducing social trust in shoppers who have never purchased from your company. By giving users more relevant information when they need it most, this growing trend can also give your company the added benefit of lowering the amount customer service inquiries.
6. Friendlier service policies & faster shipping
A prevalent consumer concern is that shopping online equates to a more difficult return process, if they are unhappy with their purchase, receive the wrong product, or an item is damaged in transit. An efficient and consumer-friendly return policy is a growing trend – and a huge selling point (especially for shoppers who have never purchased from your store). In 2017, make sure your company’s return policy is streamlined for consumers. In order for your business to benefit from this trust-boosting ecommerce trend, your policy should be well-positioned on your website and easy to understand.
Another top consumer concern when shopping online is: “How quickly will I receive my order?” Major online retailers are instituting methods of faster delivery and options for in-store pick-up. Adding options for upgraded shipping and overnight delivery at checkout can make or break your sales in 2017.
7. Personalized experiences & loyalty programs
If every shopper that visits your website sees the exact same content, you may be leaving massive amounts of money on the table in 2017. With the rise of highly-targeted advertising techniques, consumers have come to expect and appreciate personalized shopping experiences when they browse eCommerce shops. This is the year to implement more personalized user experiences on your website and in your email marketing systems. Using behavioral data from web visitors allows you to create targeted campaigns and deliver more relevant experiences to various customer segments. Understanding what a customer is shopping for and then using this information to position appropriate products in their line of sight will do wonders for your business’ bottom line – and for the overall customer experience of your brand.
Similarly, loyalty programs have become a common trend that customers enjoy and may begin to expect. Loyalty programs encourage new shoppers to purchase and keep existing customers coming back for more. Consider implementing a points-based reward system to encourage shoppers to increase the value of their shopping cart, then use loyalty program data to retarget shoppers via email marketing campaigns.
How does your business stack up?
Are you ahead of the curve, with many of these top eCommerce trends already implemented? Or did this article just give you a 7-point plan to evolving your online store in 2017? While eCommerce is always changing, you can count on us to stay ahead of the trends and keep you in-the-know.