The ecommerce world is becoming more and more competitive and it’s important for you, as an entrepreneur, to stay up-to-date with these trends. A big theme of this article is the moves that are being made by large players in the ecommerce space, but which also hold great insights for owners of smaller businesses. So with that, let’s do this!
At first, I was tempted to write a section about mobile commerce, but I just didn’t feel that it would capture the whole story. Indeed, 40% of shoppers in Asia and 30% in North America and Europe buy things via mobile devices. Additionally, mobile commerce is growing by 200% per year in Asia and by 50% per year in North America. However, according to Google, 85% of customers will begin a purchase with one device and then finish it with a different one. This shows just how fluid the ecommerce experience is between different devices. Thus, “omnichannel commerce” is a more appropriate label than just “mobile commerce” on its own. What this means for your business is that you absolutely must provide an optimal experience through all channels in order to maximize your conversion rates. Also, customers expect a consistent experience between devices. What’s more, is that according to a study done by the ICSC, multi-channel shoppers spend 3.5 more than those who only use a single device. As such, this is an opportunity that you will surely not want to miss!
Aside from being great platforms to communicate with your audience and promote your products, social media sites are becoming more significant in terms of actual purchases. Social commerce revenue grew from $5 billion in 2011 to $30 billion in 2015. For a more specific example, 87% of Pinterest users make purchases because of the social network. With the availability of “buy now” buttons on many social platforms, it’s something that you need to be taking advantage of as a business owner! It’s also important to note that shopping via social networks can reduce the friction and frustration that users experience with having to go to a website, then put a product in a cart and check out.
Services such as Soldsie and Curalate can help make your Instagram feeds “shoppable”. This is done by making your photos link to the content that users are trying to find.
Online retailers going back to brick & mortar
Like the fluidity of customer experience between devices, there is a similar flow between online retail and brick & mortar. These are not two entirely separate universes. Customers want the in-person experience of stores with the convenience of online shopping. This has spurred the creation of showrooms, where customers go in to try on/out a product and then make the purchase online, oftentimes with delivery the next day. This allows the customer the convenience of online shopping with the service level of the store experience while at the same time saving stores on stocking and inventory costs.
Additionally, as the online marketplace becomes more competitive, e-tailers are starting see other benefits of opening up physical storefronts. With cost per click advertising becoming so expensive, the offline world starts to make a lot more sense. Additionally, physical presences can help drive brand awareness and online sales.
What does this mean for you as an online store owner? You likely don’t have the resources to set up a large store or showroom in a big city. We get that. However, this does highlight the importance of having a physical presence (given what you may be competing with) and also highlights opportunities you can take advantage of on a smaller scale. For instance, check out this Shopify article on setting up small pop-up stores to take advantage of the Pokemon Go craze.
Acquisitions within ecommerce
Bigger players are starting to pay more attention to the space. As you’ve likely already read, Walmart acquired Jet.com for $3.3 billion this August. Similarly, Unilever acquired Dollar Shave Club for $1 billion in July. This is expected to lead to lower prices within the ecommerce space, making it more important for online store owners to be more nimble and specialized within their respective niches.
Why are large companies doing this? The main reason is competition. Walmart is looking for a way to be competitive with Amazon in the ecommerce space and Unilver needed a way to compete with Proctor & Gamble (makers of Gillette) in terms of razors. The business world is evolving and you can be sure that the best large players will move with it.
Higher level of customer service expected
With a plethora of options available, customers have the power to demand a high level of service. Of course, having a live chat function is of paramount importance, but more and more companies are actually investing in virtual sales forces to lead their customers through the buying process. In fact, according to Forrester, 55% of ecommerce customers are likely to give up on their online purchases if they cannot find a quick answer to their inquiries. Many brands are also using social media channels such as Facebook as a means to respond to customers’ questions. Customers are also expecting orders to be delivered as fast as possible. With more large ecommerce players expanding their offerings and providing next (or even same) day delivery, it means that smaller ecommerce merchants will also have to compete in this arena. Shippo is a great way to stay on top of all of your shipping processes and even offers UberRush, allowing businesses to provide same day shipping in New York, San Francisco and Chicago.
Keeping all of these things in mind will help you stay competitive in 2017. The ecommerce world is becoming increasingly competitive, and it’s important that your business does what is necessary to stay in the race. Be aware of these trends and incorporate them into your business, but always remember to focus on your customers and what makes your business unique in the marketplace.