ECommerce was born a few years after the invention of the Internet in 1989. It remained a fledgling initially, as web technology was limited. But over the past decade or so, it has grown exponentially, transforming the way businesses work and taking the fight to the next level. And along the way, it has been changing, evolving into what it is now. Today, in North America, 83% of the people have made online purchases at some point. Compare that to the total number of online users, and you can see where this is going. In 2012 in the U.S alone, eCommerce sales are projected to reach $226 Billion. Hence, this is one industry that’s not just here to stay, but also to grow, which it is, rapidly, for the past few years.
Ecommerce has evolved over the course of time, and it will continue doing so since it is subject to the evolution of technology, among other things. Here are some emerging eCommerce trends businesses should take note of, as they might help them better reach out to their customers.
1. Multiple channel interaction with customers
Gone are the days when the only channel customers for communicating with businesses the customer service. Now, with the advent of social media and web technologies, customers want to connect on all levels. Brands need to communicate with their customers on all levels, because customers will no longer just call up a customer service. It is a fact that around 70% of customers use social media to find more about a product before buying it. They also like to get tech support through Facebook. They want to find your products easily and buy them. They want to use their mobiles to access your website and more. Hence, multi-channel integration with social media, retail, and mobile aspects is all important now, which brings us to our next point.
2. Everything is mobile!
Smartphones and tablets are mobile. They can be taken anywhere, which is why more and more customers are using their mobile devices to find out more about a business, locate local businesses, make purchases, and so on. It would perhaps be best for a business to provide mobile functionality to make it easier for mobile-using customers. They can make mobile versions of their sites, create apps, provide mobile services such as SMS-based alerts, and so on. It is estimated that smartphones drive around 5.35% traffic to eCommerce sites, while tablets drive 6.52% of the traffic.
3. Shopping experience
Talking about mobile devices, it is important to note that customers are now looking for a great user-experience. They need a personalized shopping experience, which refers to things like location-based deals and services, product reviews, price comparisons, social media sharing, and more. Google has gone to great lengths to achieve this. Google Places for Businesses provides listings for location-based services, and reviews for local businesses. Google also provides a price comparison in Google Product search. These are things customers are looking for, so that can easily make up their minds.
4. Retailing digital goods
Perhaps this should have been on the top of our list, but anyways. These days, more and more businesses are making use of eCommerce. Forget the large businesses, they have to do so in order to survive. But small local businesses can make use of this opportunity too. More and more retail stores are selling digital goods, such as bookstores selling eBooks, music stores selling digital versions of CDs and DVDs, and so on. If you own a local business, it isn’t that hard to create an online store for your business. Here’s a tutorial on how to do so.
5. Utilizing large marketplaces
People are always looking for large, common marketplaces that they find reliable. When someone needs to buy a product, the most common used phrases are “Buy on Amazon”, “Search on Google” or if it’s an old product they want to sell or buy, “trade on eBay”. These are the largest online marketplaces. If you could create something like them, that’d be great. They too, must have started from scratch at one point after all. But seeing as this is an almost impossible task (for most businesses), what they can do is, utilize these services to serve for their gain. You can list your products on Amazon or the Google Merchant Center, which will increase your chances of making sales manifolds.
6. The importance of games
Some companies have discovered that games can be put to good, branding work, whether they be social media or mobile based games. Take a look at Zynga, for example. Their popular games such as Farmville and Cityville have made a mark on social media. These games are social, which means they travel like a virus (literally :P) among people. Following their success, I wouldn’t be surprised if more companies and game developers jump into the fray. For course, this is not a business strategy for every business, but still. It is a great idea to start anew.
7. Video marketing
Video marketing could perhaps prove to be the arrow-head in your drive to penetrate through the competition and bring out your own products for all to see. Customers mostly look for videos about a product and some video reviews before buying it. That way, they can get a feel of the product beforehand, something which images simply won’t do.
These were some of the most notable trends that might well shape the future of eCommerce. Success in business, after all, is subject to how well you anticipate future trends, and how well you adopt to the recent ones.
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