Believe it or not, I’ve worked in the ecommerce sphere since the dial-up days (beep-boop-beep). Suffice it to say, I’ve seen a lot of change in the space…but not as much as you’d think. It actually took quite a while for people to get comfortable with the concept of shopping online. Now, however, they’re bought in–big time–and the industry is frantically scrambling to catch up with consumers’ demands.
I do a lot of reading to remain on the cutting-edge…but it doesn’t do me much good to keep my insights to myself. So, I thought I’d share some of the ecommerce trends I’ve noticed lately. Without further ado, here’s what I see on the near horizon, for large and small retailers alike.
Omnichannel will be omnipresent.
I thought the lines between physical stores, ecommerce, and mobile would have blurred years ago. Shockingly, though, retailers are just now realizing that shoppers have fully functional computers in their pockets all the time.
“As the mobile experience moves from an add-on to a central part of the shopping experience, you can expect more businesses to focus on creating mobile-friendly stores and even hybrid experiences in their physical stores,” notes AddShoppers, a social commerce tool provider.
Likewise, ecommercenews predicts that, “Physical and digital channels will be woven together so that the customer does not have to distinguish between channels.”
Because, as any good slinger will tell you: mo’ channels, mo’ money.
Payments will be painless.
Shoppers have grown weary of entering in credit card information time and time again. And, clearly, that “ingenious” three-digit “security code” has not made our information any more secure.
Thus, we’re starting to see platform-agnostic payments on new kinds of POS terminals. Retailers will need to start accommodating digital wallets, camera-assisted card scanning, chipped cards, and retinal scans. (Okay, maybe not the last one…yet.)
I recently used my iPhone 6’s ApplePay feature to buy groceries at Sprouts. It was quick, painless, and just felt more secure. Trying to do use it again, however, is proving challenging; Starbucks’ LAX location rolled their eyes at me as I tried to pay with my phone. They curbed my enthusiasm by informing me that they don’t take ApplePay–no matter how vigorously I wave my phone over the terminal. Oh, bummer.
Words will matter more than ever before.
Photos and videos are great, but most shoppers still rely on written reviews, user-generated content, social sharing, and rich product descriptions to make purchasing decisions. Shoppers want useful, detailed information, not slick persuasive content.
“Copy will start to seem a little less professional,” says the btrax consulting agency, “and a lot more in-your-face honest. Transparency, or the illusion of transparency, as well as simplicity, will become major facets of major marketing strategies.”
Retailers will get responsive.
This is the year that sellers everywhere are revamping their websites into mobile-optimized and “responsive” formats. When it comes to cell phone browsing, web designers need to take into consideration users’ fat fingers and poor eyesight.
According to software maker Avalara, “small screens are big and companies who optimize the mobile web experience (faster load times, user-friendly, and customized presentation) will be better positioned to capture market share.”
Brands will talk less and listen more.
Today’s shoppers are a vocal bunch. They’re busy telling the world what they love and what could be better. Unfortunately, companies have failed to listen. They’ve spent so much money on pushing out messages that they forgot that their consumers are talking, too.
Avalara insists that “ecommerce merchants will have to ‘socialize’ more if they want to stand out from their competitors and protect their brands. Citizen reviewers, raving fans, and, yes, complainers, take to the blogosphere and Twitterverse to endorse products, share favorites, make or ask for recommendations, and lodge complaints. Now, more than ever, engagement is key, and the customer is always, always right!”
Sellers will suck it up in the shipping department.
We have Amazon and Netflix and Zappos to blame…and we can complain all day long about how they’ve conditioned shoppers into expecting fast, free shipping and returns. But c’est la vie. It is the new normal.
True: it’s still kind of complicated to implement and eats away at profit margins, but providing (almost) instant gratification is an essential part of making today’s online shoppers happy.
Even the shipping behemoths understand the pressures of free shipping and the power of ecommerce. “UPS invested heavily [in Q4 2014] to ensure we would provide excellent service during peak, when deliveries more than double. Though customers enjoyed high quality service, it came at a cost to UPS,” lamented CEO David Abney. “Going forward, we will reduce operating costs and implement new pricing strategies during peak season.”
According to Forbes, “During the holiday season quarter, UPS hired 100,000 temporary workers and delivered 1.3 billion packages, including a 12% increase in Cyber Monday scheduled deliveries and 572 million packages in December alone.”
All commerce is ecommerce.
You may be surprised to find out how simple integration is these days. As a result, you may find that you’re sitting on the sidelines for no real reason. I hate to break it to you: either you’re going digital or you’re going home.
For example, my hairdresser and my dentist (neither of whom “sell” online), have both implemented text notifications and online appointment scheduling. Even service professionals are selling “products” online (as evidenced in Tip 27 of my new book, “Sell Local, Think Global”). Point is: you’re probably closer to ecommerce than you think.
Start small (offering only a few of your most popular products through a third-party seller OR accepting on-the-fly payments through Square) and keep it simple. Ecommerce doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. It’s an evolution.
This is not a “fad” or even a “trend”; this is the future of retail…and it’s already here.
Need someone to teach your team or group about how to capitalize on the changing face of ecommerce? I’m available to speak live, in-person, and also present via customized webinars. Just go to https://www.chunkofchange.com/olga-live/ and schedule your event TODAY!