As the e-commerce industry matures and competition among players increases, new ideas and trends are gaining ground to entice shoppers to spend their money online. For instance, the product video started to gain popularity in 2013, giving online shoppers one more means to obtain complete information about the product and thereby, encouraging them to embark on the checkout process.
According to Econsultancy.com, Zappos was able to increase its sales by between 6% to 30%, for products that included demos. Homeware internet retailer Stacks and Stacks reported that shoppers were 144% more likely to purchase a product after watching its video, as compared to shoppers who did not.
Like product videos, e-tailers are leveraging other practices to help them to boost sales and growth, both in the short term and the long term. Some of these new trends are explained below.
Gartner predicts that 1.9 billion mobile phones and 263 million tablets will be shipped in 2014. As more and more customers begin to adopt mobile devices, mobile commerce or m-commerce sales are also expected to increase. It is expected that mobile commerce will become nearly half of e-commerce by 2018, and more e-commerce companies are likely to leverage this medium. In order to cope with changing customer requirements, many e-commerce companies are providing mobile applications for a seamless customer purchase experience. Other new technologies include Apple’s biometric fingerprint scanner, which could be made available in iOS8. InternetRetailer.com predicts that this technology could change the online shopping behavior of customers, by offering shoppers the flexibility to make mobile payments just with one touch.
More and more e-tailers are offering same-day shipment facilities to customers. Following Amazon’s initiative to deliver goods to customers on the same day, Walmart also started offering the service, piloting it in Denver first. The company gives shoppers the flexibility of ordering the merchandise online and picking up the goods in-store. The purchases will be available in the pharmacy drive-thru and customers can stay in their cars while the items are loaded.
In May 2014, Amazon launched shopping through Twitter, giving consumers the facility to add products to their shopping carts by tweeting a special hashtag #amazoncart (for the US) and #amazonbasket (for the UK). In another example of social commerce, e-commerce vendors are also taking to Facebook to engage potential customers. In one such example, as reported by NYTimes.com, Ashley White’s The Polk adot Alley company sells women’s apparel and accessories primarily through a Facebook page. She is able to sell 95% of her company’s merchandise through the comments section of the Facebook fan page and was on track to generate USD 1.5 million in revenue in 2013 through F-commerce (or Facebook commerce).
With customers becoming more open to shopping via multiple channels, including social media, e-commerce companies will have to use all available channels wisely to attract shoppers to their websites.
The trend of adding gaming elements in shopping is becoming popular with more and more online retailers. Take the example of online floral retailer Teleflora which awards points to users based on customer comments, reviews, and responses on Facebook. Accumulating points earns users higher level badges and titles. The top scores are also listed on the leader board. This gamification reportedly resulted in a 105% increase in Facebook referrals and an increase in picture and video uploads. The website’s conversion also improved by 92%.There are some key points for e-commerce companies to consider while incorporating gamification in their customer engagement initiatives. These are:
As analytics tools become more astute, e-commerce companies can use the insights generated to provide customers with personalized offers, pricing, recommendations, and product pre-selections. The blog cites the example of Caribou Coffee which remembers user preferences and showcases targeted flavors and varieties according to the search parameters. In 2012, Patagonia started utilizing user location data to offer geographic and climate customization to shoppers.
Large e-commerce companies are looking at acquisitions as a means of scaling up their technological knowledge. Over the past two-three years, eBay has acquired technology companies such as Hunch and Supply to give it an edge in personalization and social shopping respectively.
In a multi-channel world, with the increased use of technologies and devices, security concerns around the personal and financial information of customers are also growing. The cyber attacks on eBay and Target this year are a sign that online retailing companies have to focus more on security. According to an article on PCWorld.com, e-commerce companies can improve data security by following stringent authentication rules, creating security certifications, employing address and card verification systems, getting users to create strong passwords, setting up system alerts for suspicious actions, applying layers of security, and providing security training to employees.
An article on Practicalecommerce.com throws light on the alternative payment options that e-tailers are making available to users, to provide them with the convenience of choice in the checkout process. Google Wallet, Dwala, PayPal, Square, Amazon Payments, V.me, Master Pass, and Bill me Later are some of the alternative options available now. It is expected that in the future, more payment gateways could emerge.
Some of the operational aspects of these above-mentioned trends, related to mobile and web application development, and logistics BPO services, can be outsourced to a specialist IT-BPO service provider. An experienced provider with additional expertise in customer care, Finance, Accounting services, and order processing, can enable e-tailers to focus on their core competencies and gain process efficiencies across the board.
In conclusion, as is evident from the above-mentioned eight points, the e-commerce industry will continue to expand and technological innovations will drive this growth to a large extent.