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By the end of last year, the global eCommerce sales reached $3.5 billion and represented 14 percent of the total share of global retail sales. Those are impressive numbers, but that doesn’t mean you can simply put up an eCommerce store and watch the cash roll in. Competition is steeper than ever, digital advertising rates keep going up, and the way people shop keeps changing.
Online store owners must stay updated on the latest mobile eCommerce trends so you can keep pace with the market and enjoy your share of these tremendous profits. Here are nine trends that you can use to keep your eCommerce business humming along and grow your customer base.
1. International Shipping
With most of the world quarantined or sheltering in place at home, online shopping will grow exponentially this year. Cross-border purchases were already projected to account for a fifth of all worldwide eCommerce by 2022, so not providing international shipping from your eCommerce site could be a serious mistake.
As long as logistics companies continue to function, international shipments could help sustain retailers across all sectors after the global coronavirus crisis kept us out of stores for months. Many eCommerce platforms like Shift4Shop, Shopify allow sites to offer multi-currency shopping functionality, which you can then tie into your shipping services.
2. Custom Subscription Programs
Ecommerce subscriptions have seen a 100 percent year-on-year growth over five years. They’re an excellent opportunity for eCommerce businesses to drive repeat purchases, increase the lifetime value of each customer, and predict fulfillment needs more easily. But, you’ll need to remember that your customers may have multiple subscriptions with multiple retailers, which can be a significant hit to their budgets.
Instead of offering a large subscription service (like the monthly box ones that have popped up), consider switching to an individual shipping subscription for particular products. For example, Amazon lets you add cleaning products to a subscription plan for a discount; your cleaners are shipping automatically every 3, 6, or 9 months, and you enjoy a 5-15 percent discount on it. Create something similar for your online store and see how you do.
3. Augmented Reality
As people stick closer to home these days, whether because they want to or they have to, online shopping will only grow. Many online retailers are turning to advanced technology like augmented reality (AR) to try and replicate the experience.
Gartner predicted that 100 million consumers will shop using AR this year, so it is something that could very well close the gap between retailers and customers. And it’s not just large online retailers that are using it.
Out The Bottle is for winemakers, distillers, craft beer brewers, and anyone else making “adult” beverages. The smartphone app uses label recognition technology to serve up a video or other AR experience to enhance the enjoyment of the product.
Nomatic gives you an AR experience of their travel gear, letting you spin a 3D model in AR to see every zipper, buckle, and compartment. Use your smartphone’s camera to compare it next to real-life objects in your house to see if it’s better than the backpack or suitcase you want to replace.
Pure Cycles is another eCommerce business that lets cycling enthusiasts check out their bikes directly through AR to make sure it meets their exacting requirements. Swipe through the photos on the Urban Commuter listing, and you’ll see the AR icon on it. Tap to open it in your smartphone’s AR app and check it out. Choose to see what it’d look like in your space or spin the bike around on the screen to get a look at all of the components from every angle.
4. Shopping With Voice Search
Over 74 million Americans use smart speakers at home to do everything from check the weather, speak to family in other parts of their homes, and more. For now, it’s mainly used to replenish goods that people are already familiar with. As people become more comfortable with it, eCommerce businesses should investigate how they can integrate with it. It’s an untapped market for eCommerce right now, so it’s perfect to get in ahead of the competition.
To get in on smart speaker shopping:
- Create an Alexa skill people can add to their accounts.
- Advertise on a podcast, since many people use smart speakers to listen to them.
- List your products on Google for Retail to make them available to Google Home users.
- Use natural language on your website, so that voice search technology can find it more easily.
- Update your site’s meta tags, titles, and descriptions with words and phrases people use when searching so search engines can find it.
- Add product reviews and ratings to your site to increase your SEO rank.
- Incorporate questions and answers on your site, since that’s typically the way people use voice search. “Where can I buy an affordable sofa?” or “What Thai restaurants are near me?”
5. AI That Creates a Personalized Shopping Experience
Amazon uses a combination of machine learning and AI to drive product recommendations on their site. They sift through the massive amount of data they’ve gathered from people on their site, such as browsing patterns, purchase history, and the effect of sale prices, to recommend related products people might like. They surface insights to help generate sales for related items similar to ones that are selling out or have low inventory.
That’s why you see the Related to items you’ve viewed and the Inspired by your shopping trends lists on the homepage. Their algorithm has sorted through your personal data, combined it with what other similar people are doing to create a personalized shopping experience.
Twiggle is an AI software company that aids eCommerce search engines to think the way humans do. It uses natural language processing to offer shoppers search results that match what they’re looking for.
6. Chatbots That Mimic On-Site Shopping
When you shop online, you miss out on the personal touch of a sales clerk helping you with your choices and answering any questions you might have. Chatbots let online stores offer that personal touch to customers without adding to their resources. Customers appreciate the chatbots because of faster response times to their questions; over 60 percent of them, according to this study.
Use Hubspot Chatbot Builder or ManyChat to build a basic chatbot for your eCommerce site. With it, you can automatically answer questions, offer coupons, make product suggestions, and send messages to customers who abandon their shopping carts.
7. More Payment Options
Customers also expect to be able to pay for their online purchases in a variety of ways. Much like the options available offline, with tap, credit, cash, and Apple or Google Pay, customers expect the same flexibility online. Many eCommerce sites now offer PayPal and other money transfer options on the checkout page. Sites that sell bigger ticket items may even consider adding point-of-sale financing options like Affirm, Afterpay, and Klarna, to let customers make monthly payments on their purchase.
8. Helpful Videos
Video continues its dominance online, where 62 percent of consumers say they watch product reviews before making a purchase. It gives customers a chance to learn more about your, your brands, or products before they buy. Use How To videos to demonstrate how to use your products and show how they function in real life. Success story videos will help your customers identify more easily with your products and see themselves being just as successful in solving similar issues they have.
9. Mobile Shopping Apps
It’s easier than ever to create your own mobile app, so why not develop one for your eCommerce business? The stats back it up, as conversion rates are 3x higher from mobile apps than their counterpart mobile websites. Platforms like AppyPie, BuildFire, AppMachine, and iBuildApp can help you build an app even if you don’t have any coding experience.
Most use drag-and-drop functionality to help you build the app functions, including automation libraries you can use to power the different aspects of your app, and templates to establish a clean look for it. The amount of customization you’re able to do might be limited, but if you’re just trying to get the first version off the ground, these platforms can definitely help. Once you’ve established your brand and app, you can always hire an app development firm to create a more unique and custom app.
10. Responsive eCommerce Sites
It might seem like a silly thing to include on a mobile trend post, but there are still eCommerce sites out there that aren’t ready for mobile shopping. With an estimated half of all American customers shopping online with their mobile phones and approximately 55 percent in Europe, you could be missing out on a lot of sales if your store isn’t mobile-ready.
Look at how you can reduce the number of clicks and swipes it takes to search and buy from your site. Optimize it for mobile searches, which means including the right keywords and metadata on it. Consider adding click-to-call functionality if you want people to call you with questions, which they can do easily from their smartphones.
Purchases from eCommerce businesses were already on the rise before the coronavirus crisis hit. Now that we’re stuck at home and looking for ways to buy the things we need, eCommerce sites are going to become even more popular. Use these trends to make sure your eCommerce business and site is ready for them.