If you are currently operating an e-commerce site, or plan to launch an online business in the near future, it is a good idea to be aware of as many of the most popular trends in the sector as you can if you want to really establish a foothold in the sector. When you consider the fact that the e-commerce industry is likely to generate more than $490 billion in U.S. sales alone by 2018, you can see that you will have plenty of competition to compete with.
As such, it’s no longer enough to simply create a website with a shopping cart and sell a few interesting items. Today, consumers are more and more savvy about not only what they spend their money on, but also the experience they have as they browse and buy. Customers are keen to enjoy a high level of customer service in all their interactions with a business (including on various platforms, and before, during and after a purchase), and want all transactions to be simple, quick and easy.
If you plan to make headway as an e-commerce entrepreneur over the coming months and years, read on for some of the key online trends in shopping you should consider implementing in your digital store as soon as possible.
Multiple Payment Options
An important trend for all entrepreneurs to be aware of when trading online is the expectation that shoppers be given multiple payment options to choose from. Consumers don’t want to be limited when it comes to making payment, and want to be able to choose from different methods according to the day and the merchant involved.
To satisfy customers in this way then, it is vital that you utilize innovative merchant solutions for your checkout that can handle a variety of payment methods. It is best if options include choices like:
- Debit cards
- A wide array of credit cards (including Diners and American Express)
- Mobile payments (including those transacted through mobile wallets and other similar systems)
- PayPal: direct debit payment plans
- BPAY transactions
- Direct deposits
- Bitcoin payments
- Over-the-phone transactions
Another key factor involved in today’s online sales trends is the idea of super-quick shipping. While consumers were once content to wait up to a week or two (or even longer) for orders to arrive, now they are much more demanding and expect to receive purchases very quickly — even as fast as the same day. Shoppers will often make their decision about who to buy from according to how soon a delivery will be possible.
As a result, to cater to this trend in consumer tastes, many online stores now offer guaranteed overnight deliveries or same-day drop-offs. Amazon, as an example, is one of the leaders in this area, and has been setting a real precedent when it comes to deliveries.
Content Is King
When you analyze the top-growing e-commerce sites around the world these days, you’ll find that they typically have a considerable focus on providing engaging content online. Storytelling — through not just text but also videos and graphics — helps brands to stand out in a crowded marketplace and for products and services to be properly described and “sold” to shoppers. The delivery of regular content also helps current and potential customers to engage with a brand and for an emotional connection to be forged.
If you want to increase your number of conversions as well as your percentage of repeat customers, you should continually look for ways to tell stories through your website, social media pages, newsletters, blogs, online advertisements, and emails. Create and showcase content that is informative, inspirational and/or educational, about not only your company but also your various products and services, and your industry in general.
Personalized and Contextualized Shopping
More shoppers than ever are also keen to enjoy a personalized and contextualized shopping experience. For example, they wish to be greeted personally on websites when they login, and on the newsletters they are sent. Shoppers also wish to receive relevant recommendations for products and services that suit their individual tastes, based on their unique browsing and buying history.
Look around at many of the most successful e-commerce stores over recent years and you’ll find that a large number of them have a commitment to running flash sales. When you consider the fact that shoppers are, generally, impulse buyers who don’t want to miss out on a deal or on an item that everybody else seems to want, you can understand the trend. Sales events such as Black Friday are a good example of online shopping events which work well because they provide consumers with access to cheaper products for a very limited time.