What does the future hold for eCommerce? You don’t need to peer into a crystal ball to decipher that the industry is staying put. The convenience of online purchases has led the industry to grow at double-digit rates – however, convenience isn’t the only factor. eCommerce succeeds because it matches the social and technological demands of the buyer, and it needs to evolve with these buyers to maintain its success.
The future of the eCommerce landscape promises exciting innovation — from digitally-supported pop-up shops to branded influencer platforms — with the integration of brand retention strategies that rely on positive sentiment and SEO.
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1. Maximize the Mobile Buying Experience
This Black Friday, over 34% of sales were made on a mobile device. Search queries from mobile outpace those from desktops. Local SEO and a transitional social strategy are integral – users are often browsing social feeds that inspire them to search or follow links for products. The most seamless user experience is one that ensures a smooth purchase without switching devices.
- Branded eCommerce apps are on the rise, and we can expect to see their trend status increase as businesses discover the benefits: specific design, push notifications for promotions, no irrelevant ads, and thorough branding. They’re hyper-convenient hubs for products that also promote brand loyalty.
- Responsive web design is no longer a maybe, but a must – websites must conform to the mobile structure before users can make purchases. We can already see businesses adding transaction opportunities even on initial landing pages, to provide purchase opportunities as soon as possible.
2. Support New-School Brick and Mortar
There’s a looming resurgence of brick-and-mortar marketing in pop-up style — brands open up a physical shop for a month or two, and use an integrated digital marketing campaign to ensure they get the most visitors for their temporary presence. Previously online-only brands like Amazon, Warby Parker, and Birchbox have launched select physical stores. Digital advertising is the key component in driving (physical!) traffic to these locations – plus, collecting and analyzing online shopper data allows retailers to determine the best location to open a pop-up.
- Online presales will become more popular, with customers picking up orders in-store to avoid shipping fees. eCommerce pre-sales will allow customers to research and familiarize themselves with products while also utilizing the hype of a limited-time-only shopping opportunity.
- Apps like Shopkick offer rewards for in-store presence – users have rewarded points when they walk into the physical brick-and-mortar store. Incentive-based mobile marketing will expand the valuable connection points a customer continues to have with a brand.
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3. Incorporate Cutting-Edge Communication Technology
Recent tech developments promise a lightning-quick improvement in both product promotion and purchase speed.
- Near field communication (NFC) is already employed in devices like tap-to-pay credit cards — the purchase is completed instantly, with all consumer information stored within. Once NFC technology is cemented in mobile devices, marketers can utilize it to their advantage, offering convenient points of purchase, related information and promotions all with a “tap”— the possibilities are endless. Similar ideas are already being employed by retail giant Target in the form of in-store beacons that connect with mobile.
- In terms of promotion, programmatic buying is becoming more popular in digital campaigns, and it should be relied on to maximize eCommerce potential. Real-time bidding assures that product ads are placed in the most efficient, timely manner on the web, while programmatic site retargeting is incredibly precise and customized to users based on their browsing behavior — if they’re researching rather than purchasing immediately, the content will be adjusted.
4. Utilize Multi-Language Localization Strategies
Globalization is in full force — most consumers will readily purchase out-of-country products, and respond better to content and ads written in their native language. The forecast for eCommerce indicates wider audience diversity as the industry grows.
- eCommerce sites need to be customized for a wider range of target audiences – pages need to adjust prices, shipping options, and language by detected user location. It’s important for businesses to program multilingual SEO to reach appropriate audiences and receive accurate traffic results.
5. Make Product Purchases Hyper-Social
eCommerce is a more social experience than ever before – in fact, it’s predicted that social selling will dominate the industry’s future. Brands need to match consumer speed, as well as curate and showcase shared content related to purchases.
- Buy buttons on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest (and Instagram’s “Shop Now” button) to move eCommerce into the convenience of a social experience. As buying becomes increasingly social, it’ll be important to boost remarketing to target users who may be close to purchasing.
- Brands are beginning to create their own influencer networks – Refinery29 set the trend with their “Here and Now” social network, and we can expect to see more enterprise brands the following suit to capture the social product conversation.
- User-Generated Content (UGC) continues to play a huge role in brand promotion. Key influencers can inspire brand loyalty, and an inflow of positive social sentiment builds trust and hype while gaining more visibility for products. A rise in UGC management platforms could help manage these increasingly visual mediums though analytics tracking, pinpointing which content is most effective.
The future looks bright for the eCommerce world: while buying behavior may evolve rapidly, consumers are also embracing every opportunity to share and endorse products with their networks. Leveraging customer loyalty with automation, digital strategy, and innovative offline activation will help brands push forward into the new eCommerce frontier.
Article Written by Vickie Hsieh | 6S’s Marketing Manager & Cultural Lead