The eCommerce world has evolved considerably since its earliest days and continues to change in response to consumer demands. Like most technology-related fields, trends change rapidly, and Baltimore business owners need to stay current with these important changes if they want to remain competitive. If you are wondering what the ever-changing eCommerce world has in store for the future, here is a glimpse at some of the most important recent trends.
1. Multi-channel shopping
Consumers are visiting multi-vendor websites in pursuit of the broadest selection, best prices and the convenience of single payments. Therefore, marketers need to address the growing need for multi-channel selling. Multi-vendor platforms such as Shopify and Stitch Labs enable marketers to respond to consumer demand and capture sales from the most popular channels, such as eBay and Amazon, in a single transaction.
2. Social media as a sales venue
Social media is now more than just a platform for connecting with customers and reading their comments. Many of these networks, including Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook, have incorporated their own sales channels. Therefore, an understanding the rapidly changing social eCommerce landscape is becoming more important for eCommerce firms.
3. The combination of online and offline tools
Beacon technology combines online communication with offline shoppers by detecting when a device is within range of a geographic location. Companies use beacon technology to provide greetings and deals to shoppers at brick-and-mortar locations via their mobile devices. Customers need to opt in to receive these notifications, but the possibilities for brand promotion — coupons, discount codes, time-sensitive deals, upgrade offers and other specials — are virtually limitless.
4. The return of the popup ad
In the early days of eCommerce, popup ads were intrusive, annoying and abundant. Nevertheless, they were effective marketing tools, and today’s fresh popups are more about providing value to customers and enhancing their shopping experience. They are less intrusive and provide discounts, freebies or special access in return for an email address or an answer to a simple survey question.
5. Full-screen videos and images
Many eCommerce web designers are capitalizing on the improvements in resolution and faster internet speeds by using full-screen images and videos as backgrounds. These can create spectacular homepages that leave striking impressions on viewers and help create unique brand identities.
6. Virtual sales forces
Virtual sales forces are online employees that help convert visitors into buyers. These salespeople answer questions, provide information and make recommendations via chat modules, popups and other tools to keep visitors on the site and convince them to buy.
7. Mobile-friendly eCommerce sites
With the explosion and growth of mobile technology, it’s never been more important for eCommerce sites to be mobile-friendly. According to comScore, a leading measurement and analytics company, more people now access the internet on mobile devices than on desktop computers. Any eCommerce sites that don’t cater to mobile users will soon be considered outdated and out of touch, and will lose ground to their mobile-friendly competitors.
8. Improved loyalty programs
Customer loyalty programs have improved to make buying easier and to provide more perks for their members. For example, many store loyalty programs are now partnering with major credit card companies to offer incentives to their customers, such as reward points, gift cards and freebies. Customer-friendly programs that make it easier to check point balances and to earn rewards can lure customers away from the competition.
9. Niche flash sales
Flash sales are short-term promotions that offer deep discounts and great deals for a limited (and often very short) time. More than just advertisements for ordinary sales, these promotions are designed to generate immediate sales. Although they are a popular device for unloading excess or slow-moving physical merchandise, flash sales are growing in some niches as a way to attract new customers, reward high-volume customers or generate buzz about a brand.
10. Real-time analytics
Analytics have become quite sophisticated and allow marketers to understand how consumers use their websites. Instead of the usual end-of-the-month analysis that simply illustrated past trends, real-time analytics can look at website traffic as it happens, and identify irregularities such as broken links, non-working pages or other problems. Being able to spot sudden traffic spikes without associated conversions can help site owners fix problems quickly and keep sales flowing.
These are just a few of the trends driving eCommerce, but they are also some of the most important, and keeping up with these trends can help your Baltimore business stay relevant and competitive. While it’s impossible to know everything that the future will bring, the eCommerce world is constantly changing; those who resist rather than embrace these trends will become less competitive.
Of course, some trends will be less effective for certain industries while others will rely on them, but these changes will all play a part in driving the eCommerce industry to the next level.