The future of eCommerce in 2018 and beyond
We only need to look at how our shopping habits have evolved over the last few years to learn why consumers often choose an online retail experience over the traditional High Street store. There is no longer an excuse for local businesses to have a lackluster e-commerce presence.
Welcome to the Amazon era, where almost any item can be delivered to our front door or even office within a few hours. A rise in customer expectation levels means that British consumers seem have fallen out of love with queuing or waiting for anything. So why are so many not meeting their customers’ expectations?
Unfortunately, many UK businesses are failing to capitalise on the technology available to them. Functionality, reliability, and speed are the new currency, but this can be a challenging concept to grasp if the idea of implementing yet another technology solution fills you with dread.
Thankfully, there are a large number of digital e-commerce tools, platforms, and services that make it easy to get up and running very quickly. In fact, anybody can have an online trading presence serving an international audience with minimal fuss. But the most effective e-commerce strategy is an efficient website design.
Costly or overcomplicated designs that deliver style over substance are of little use to the average consumer. By contrast, top of their wish list is a seamless and smooth experience for the user across a plethora of devices from browsing to checkout.
SEAMLESS OMNICHANNEL EXPERIENCES
The ability to listen to the same music playlist on our phone, iPad, or laptop and bounce between multiple devices to pick up where we left off on our favorite new Netflix show has upgraded the customer experience. We shouldn’t be too surprised to hear that users have a low tolerance for slow customer service in their quest for a genuine omnichannel experience.
Businesses of all sizes are still coming to grips with the digital landscape. A recent experience at an Adidas store resulted in me highlighting that the same pair of running shoes was much cheaper in their online store, but the staff member was unable to help and advised me to purchase the item online. I’m sure that you can guess my next move.
PHYSICAL AND ONLINE STORES ARE EQUALLY AS IMPORTANT
However, this experience highlighted to me how it’s not just small businesses that are struggling to meet the rise in customer expectations. There is a common misconception that e-commerce sites are destroying traditional stores, but this does not tell the whole story. An onlineonly store will actually struggle to compete with merchants that run both online and physical stores.
Even Amazon is introducing physical retail stores for shoppers who prefer to look, feel, and try a product before committing to the purchase.
OPTIMISE YOUR SITE FOR VOICE SEARCH
Consumers’ search habits are also evolving as we increasingly use voice search on smartphones or digital assistants such as the Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home when searching for products online. If voice search really is the future of web browsing, then early adopting businesses that optimise their sites for voice search could gain an early advantage over their competitors.
GET PERSONAL WITH EMAIL
Most of us reach for our smartphone as soon as we open our eyes and begin deleting emails that are irrelevant or of zero interest. The personalisation of everything means that generic marketing messages of any description seldom get opened and will send your customers straight to the unsubscribe button.
Once again, if Spotify, Netflix, and Amazon know our tastes, why doesn’t everyone else? Whether this is a realistic expectation is a debate for another date, but marketers can ensure that all communications are timely, relevant, and exciting, and provide value to the recipient.
SHOW YOUR BRAND’S HUMAN SIDE THROUGH VIDEO
Nobody likes seeing themselves on camera or hearing their voice, but video marketing is becoming an invaluable tool that helps businesses connect with their audience. By merely showing the human side of your brand, you can dramatically increase engagement and awareness, and boost conversion rates for your e-commerce site.
If we are completely honest, we admit that shopping online can sometimes feel predictable and impersonal. Ultimately, the future of e-commerce is about making it easy for your customers, but also adding human elements to your sales strategy. By treating them as unique individuals with personalised experiences, creating user-specific promotions, and adding a friendly voice and face to your brand, you too can exceed your customers’ expectations.