The world of shopping, including luxury purchases or everyday errands, has dramatically changed with the evolution of ecommerce. Ecommerce is a huge opportunity for retailers around the globe to reach customers and streamline the customer experience. As ecommerce continues to grow and evolve, current trends are starting to heavily influence the customer experience and what users expect when they interact with online retailers. Take advantage of these trends now to get the most out of your ecommerce business.
Buy Now, Pay Later Option
Your ecommerce business should allow for purchases now. Slow loading times, extra steps to create accounts, and other distractions account for some of the top reasons customers abandon their cart. If you want to increase conversion rates, your business should account for all of the reasons a customer may not be able to make an immediate purchase, including payment. Many ecommerce businesses, especially those who sell more expensive products, are benefitting from the ability to make a immediate sale, even if the customer doesn’t pay up front. It’s not uncommon for AfterPay purchases to be more expensive than other options, so businesses are seeing more purchases and higher revenue in the long-term. Experiment with different payment options that give customers the freedom to make a purchase now.
Research Online, Purchase Offline (ROPO)
Online purchases are taking over, and the customers that do make purchases in brick-and-mortar locations have probably been online to conduct research. By the time they have walked into the store, they are more sure of what they want to buy.
Online research offers a unique way for businesses to advertise and market their products, but tracking and monitoring the customer experience can be a complicated task for marketers. How can you determine that a brick-and-mortar purchase was the direct result of online research?
The first way to take advantage of this trend is to acknowledge who is using online research to make offline purchases and how that process works for your industry and your business. Appliances, for example, are researched more heavily than other types of products. Men conduct more online research before offline purchases than women do. Local customers are most likely engaging in the ROPO process; 82% of smartphone users search for local businesses on mobile and 18% of those searches result in a purchase by the end of the next day.
Researchers are still developing a better picture of the ROPO process, but your business can take advantage of this trend and develop strategies to track this process and make it easier for potential customers to find your brick-and-mortar locations and make it known that online research influenced their purchase.
Part of the online research process may concern how the product works and functions. Video demonstrations are a fantastic way to give website visitors an in-depth look at how customers use and enjoy your products. A quick video can keep viewers engaged, answer questions, and secure their decision to make a purchase online or offline.
Video content can be created and distributed on different online platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, or your landing pages. Invest in a high-quality video that puts your products in the best light. Get creative with your video content; include testimonials and be sure to call viewers to action at the end of the video.
Voice and Image Search
Digital marketing is becoming increasingly visual and auditory, including the way that search engines allow users to find products. Text searches are quickly becoming replaced by voice and image search thanks to technologies like Amazon’s Alexa and the simple ability to complete an image search. Experts expect half of all searches in 2020 to be made through voice and image search, so it’s important to optimise your website accordingly. In 2018, 40% of millenials are using voice search. The effort you put in now to set up your ecommerce products to be found through voice and image will certainly pay off in the next few years.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
The ecommerce trends of today are set to become the normal way to search and interact with products tomorrow. This holds true especially for virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) experiences. While video content shows how other customers are using a product, VR and AR technologies can give users a better idea of how they can use your products themselves.
VR and AR are still relatively new to consumers, and this new experience is giving customers a reason to make purchases. Big businesses are bringing the VR and AR experience to their apps and seeing great results; a report from Houzz showed that the in-app AR experience kept users in the app 2.7x longer and made purchases 11x more likely than without the AR experience.
In 2017, mobile purchases increased by 58% and desktop/laptop purchases decreased by 11%. Mobile purchases is just as important to ecommerce purchases as ecommerce is to overall retail sales. Mobile provides a big opportunity to put your products in front of customers where they are spending more and more time conducting research or engaging in social media.
Putting your products online isn’t enough to ensure that mobile customers can make a purchase on mobile. Test your online store for mobile compatibility and ease of use on smartphones. If text is too small or CTA buttons are too hard to find on a mobile screen, customers will click away and may not come back.
Social Media Purchases
Online purchases aren’t limited to a website or landing page. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are starting to add online stores to their websites, giving retailers an extra opportunity to streamline the purchasing process. In-app purchases are already increasing sales for a number of brands around the world.
Explore the opportunity to set up a Facebook or Instagram Store. Instagram has only been around in Australia and New Zealand for a few months, so now is the best time to make purchases even easier and make a sale before consumers even discover your customers. Pinterest also allows for purchasing options, and other social media platforms and websites may follow suit quickly. Take advantage of the opportunity while social channels aren’t charging to put your items up for sale.
Machine Learning and AI
Want to increase the rate of customers who come back to your business? Leave that job to robots. Machine learning and AI are both helpful tools for ecommerce businesses who want to give customers a personalised and enjoyable experience. AI chatbots, for example, can help users throughout their purchase and answer questions 24 hours a day. (Studies show that 83% of consumers report that they consistently need some type of support, usually immediately, in order to make a purchase.) Machine learning can be used to suggest products for customers as they make purchase decisions or after a purchase has been completed. Both of these functions have proven to boost sales and keep customers around for additional purchases.
When customers abandon their cart online, there is no physical salesperson to bring them back and encourage them to complete the purchase. This is where remarketing comes in.
Remarketing is still an underrated trend, but can significantly boost conversion rates with just a few bits of code. In short, remarketing places ads in front of former website visitors and reminds them to revisit your online store or make a purchase that is sitting in an abandoned cart. Former website visitors are more likely to purchase than consumers who are just seeing your ads for the first time; after all, they took the time to learn about your business, visit your website, and possibly put items in a cart in the first place.
Remarketing doesn’t just apply to customers who have abandoned their cart. Don’t forget to remarket to first-time customers who haven’t come back to make a second purchase. It is 7x more expensive to gain a new customer than to keep a former customer; remarketing efforts can significantly increase your ROI.
Optimise Your Ecommerce Experience with Digital Squad
Simply taking advantage of the ecommerce trend is not enough to reach your business’s potential. Ecommerce makes shopping easy, and if your online store doesn’t hand customers what they want quickly, they will click away and make a purchase with your competitors. Hop on the ecommerce trends now, but remember to keep user experience at the top of your priorities when building and maintaining your ecommerce business.
The experts at Digital Squad are here to improve your ecommerce business through search engine optimisation, conversion rate optimisation, and remarketing. We tackle many aspects of digital marketing and are a one-stop shop for online businesses in New Zealand and Australia. Our team has spent thousands of hours researching the Google algorithm to ensure that each of our partners reaches their ranking potential and their products are placed in front of the customers, former website visitors, and new users who are more likely to convert.
Megan Okonsky is a copywriter and content marketing specialist with Digital Squad. She is originally from Philadelphia but has landed in Melbourne after traveling for eight months in Southeast Asia and New Zealand. She also teaches vinyasa yoga online.