Consumers spent $601.75 billion with online retailers in 2019, up 15% from 2018.
Due to shifting economic and social landscapes, more and more shoppers are headed online to get the things they need. 2020 is shaping up to be the strongest year yet for online sales… and it’s not going to be close. 🚀
With growing demand, it can be a struggle to keep up. But for savvy merchants, this is a golden opportunity to optimize websites, tweak conversion funnels, enhance customer service, and implement processes that inspire brand loyalty.
But stepping up your ecommerce game isn’t a Field of Dreams situation; just because you built it, doesn’t guarantee “they’ll come” (much less buy). Remember, you’re one of ~20 million online stores who have their virtual doors open for business. Standing out and winning in 2020 will come down to how well you adapt, pivot and optimize your strategies to meet market demands.
Below are 4 ecommerce trends that you can take advantage of today to win more customers and keep them coming back time and time again.
Trend #1 – Demand for personalization
Why you should take advantage: 48% of consumers spend more when their experience is personalized. 💰
Personalization in ecommerce refers to creating and curating personal interactions through dynamic content, media and product recommendations based on browsing behavior, purchase history and demographics. That’s a mouthful.
At its most basic, personalization = relevancy.
Beyond simply displaying your most popular products on your home page, personalization is using data to anticipate customer needs and behavior. It’s answering questions before they ask and providing recommendations before they know what they want. It’s the reason why major players like Amazon and Google have completely changed the game.
Two main benefits of personalization:
- Shoppers stay on your site longer.
- Conversion rates increase.
But that’s not all! 91% of consumers are more likely to do business with companies that can provide them with relevant product offerings—they’re even willing to share their personal data (more on that later) to achieve a more personalized experience. Sounds great, right? But where to start?
Search: The lowest hanging fruit
NOTE: Before you pass “GO” on the personalization Monopoly board, take a look at your data collection practices and ensure you’re getting what you need. Our friends at BigCommerce put together an in-depth guide to data here.)
One of the easiest ways to tailor your online store to each customer is to improve your search feature. Few things will frustrate and drive away potential sales more than a search feature that produces irrelevant results. Forrester Research reported that nearly 50% of all online shoppers visit a site searching for a specific product, and are 2 to 3 times more likely to convert if they find it.
Thankfully, you don’t need to be a search giant to help customers find what they’re looking for. Consider the following strategies as you optimize your search feature:
- Celebrate the search bar: prominently displaying your search bar and using tools like intelligent autocomplete and customized landing pages can drastically improve your site’s conversion rate.
- Personalize suggestions: it seems simple, but displaying recent search results or recommendations for related products based on past searches is a really effective way to increase brand connection.
310 Nutrition not only serves up relevant products via search, but they also provide relevant product categories and supplemental pages to keep the user engaged.
Trend #2 – Rise in mobile commerce
Why you should take advantage: By 2021, mobile commerce is expected to account for 54% of total ecommerce sales.
It should come as no surprise that with increased time spent on mobile devices comes increased mobile shopping. Like we mentioned above, mobile ecommerce (or m-commerce for all you insiders 😉) is poised to become the preferred method for online shopping, but shopping with your phone and shopping from your computer are not the same, and neither are the people who prefer one to the other. Any successful m-commerce strategy will navigate some key challenges:
- Smaller screens means less room for key product information.
- Smaller keyboards can be tricky for shoppers with large fingers or vision impairment.
- More scrolling means prioritizing “above the fold” content.
When developing your m-commerce strategy, there are many things you need to take into consideration, but above all else, remember that you need to do more with less. You have less space, less flexibility, less room for error… get rid of anything unnecessary.
If your load times or responsiveness come back sub-par, it’s time to eliminate anything that will slow your site—or your customer—down:
- Clunky image files that haven’t been optimized for mobile.
- Pop-ups, sidebars, or text-heavy pages that can act as time barriers in the conversion path.
- Lengthy purchase paths that ask for too much information or feature too many steps.
Don’t stop at checkout
The experience between browsing, checkout, tracking and delivery should be as seamless as possible. If your customers are starting their purchase journey on their phone, they should finish it on their phone as well.
Route is the only solution that gives your customers a premium post-purchase experience that’s rooted in mobile. Visual Tracking™ brings their package tracking to life, offers quick links to resolve order issues and promotes repeat business by serving up branded promotional content.
Trend #3 – Increased awareness of data security and privacy
Why you should take advantage: 71% of consumers worry about brands’ handling of personal data. 😟
Too many companies don’t worry about security until it’s too late. It seems like a weekly occurrence that we’re hearing about another data faux pas.
Whether it’s deliberate misuse of private data (think Cambridge Analytica), or a corporate data breach that exposes millions of customer records, nothing fuels caution or fear like the thought of private data falling into the wrong hands. This fear is so palpable, that 1 in 4 consumers avoid using smart speakers because they don’t trust their data will be safe.
For ecommerce in particular, the monster under the data privacy bed is the use of third-party apps and vendors. Partnering with other services to deliver a seamless experience online, while unavoidable, poses risks to your customers’ data if not kept in check.
If given the choice, consumers would want as much control over their own data as possible; the burden is on retailers to give it to them. There are, thankfully, both frontend and backend strategies that will provide a greater sense of security and control for each person that visits your store:
- Tell them what and why: customers are much more likely to share their personal data if there’s a clear upfront benefit (e.g. personalized recommendations, premium tracking etc.). Be transparent with them about what data you’re collecting and how you intend to use it.
- Let them opt out: reassure more cautious customers by giving them a way to opt out of data sharing.
- Make data policies clear: providing brief, simple data privacy policies is an easy way to put customer fears to rest – think bold print, not fine print.
Nike does this extremely well. They keep it simple, straightforward and provide quick links to specific questions. 👏
Consumer data protection standards are leveling up every year, and online retailers need to follow suit. How you anticipate security threats on the backend is a great way to predict customer trust. 64% of customers are unlikely to return to a business that has exposed their personal data. So it’s on you to do all you can to keep their data safe:
- Strong, unique passwords: while you should always be using strong passwords in-house, you should encourage customers who create an account with you to do the same.
- Multi-step authentication: a two-step authentication that verifies user identity is a great way to keep your site secure and make sure you don’t have any unwanted visitors.
- Third-party integrations audit: review your integrations regularly and see what you can do to limit the number of hands passing your customer data back and forth.
Trend #4 – Importance of the post-purchase experience
Why you should take advantage: 73% of shoppers reported that the delivery experience is most important to the overall shopping experience. 🚚
You put a lot of effort into making sure your customers have a great experience. You approve the images, you optimize your store, and you write the emails, all with the goal of leaving your customers happy.
But when it comes to the post-purchase experience, it can feel like you’re handing your business, brand and reputation over to a stranger.
Shipping carriers do a fantastic job for the most part.👏 But while they excel in certain areas they really struggle in others. Primarily, due to the transactional nature of their businesses, they will always prioritize volume and margins over customer experience. This leads to:
- Poor communication.
- Poor-er customer service
- Poor-er-er resolution policies
Here’s the kicker – 94% of consumers blame the retailer after a delivery goes poorly, and 84% say they won’t return. Whether it’s fair or not, shoppers have an extremely hard time separating the shopping experience from the delivery experience, and when something goes wrong they’ll look back at you. So what can you do?
Build trust through transparency
Even though online retail boasts incredible benefits to the consumer, it can also feel risky. Will my product show up? Will I like it? Can I return it? Who pays for the return?
Surfacing shipping and handling fees, promoting product details, building transparent return and claims policies, keeping product availability up-to-date, and providing tools to keep customers in the loop all play a part in increasing conversion and boosting customer loyalty:
- Product transparency: 56% of shoppers agree that more product information inspires more trust in a given brand. Your customers want to know everything they can about you and your products before they buy. Give it to ‘em!
- Shipping and handling: nearly a third of customers will abandon their shopping carts if faced with unexpected shipping costs.
Return policy: According to CNBC, 80% of shoppers will check your return policy before purchasing. While it may seem counter-intuitive, making the returns process as effortless and straightforward as possible is one of the easiest ways to secure customer loyalty, and ensure return customers.
Make tracking a competitive advantage
Consumers have come to expect a lot in terms of tracking (you can thank Amazon for that). They want real-time updates, proactive notifications for delivery exceptions and they want to be able to easily communicate with brands while their packages are in transit.
But unfortunately, most online retailers are still lagging when it comes to tracking. They provide the same tracking emails everyone does, send their customers to the same unresponsive carriers, and in turn none of them are taking advantage of a critical time in the customer journey
If you want to stand out, do something different 👉 Visual Tracking™
Mitigate risk for your customers
Like we mentioned above, there is a lot that can go wrong between checkout and delivery, and while you can’t control everything, you can build processes and implement tools that mitigate risk for yourself and your customers.
Giving your customers the option to proactively protect their purchases is a great way to control risk for yourself, and instill confidence in your customers. Furthermore, when the unfortunate happens, 87% of shoppers are more loyal to a brand that reimburses them for a lost, stolen or damaged package. 🎉
Leveraging your ecommerce platform to build customer confidence while also boosting revenue isn’t easy (otherwise, everyone would be doing it); however, you don’t have to do it alone. With Route, you can transform your customers’ post-purchase experience by tracking their shipments in real time, fielding questions or complaints, and providing them a path to seamless resolutions should any unforeseen circumstances arise.