COVID-19 has led to travel bans, retail closures, and offline shopping shifted online. According to Shopify, 84% of customers bought online during the pandemic. Also, 42% of consumers say that they will shop online more often once the social distancing end. Thus, brands need to innovate their growth strategy to compete with retail giants and marketplaces better.
Everything in eCommerce is constantly changing, with new trends born every other day. However, we have narrowed it down to the top 5 marketing trends that work in 2021 with recommendations.
Prioritize Mobile Shopping Experience
We cannot deny that the rise of m-commerce has reshaped the way e-store owners approach their customers. More consumers than ever before are using mobile devices to make online transactions. According to PPRO, mobile commerce accounts for 50% of global eCommerce sales. Also, a lightning-fast mobile experience plays a vital role in creating great UX. In fact, 53% of shoppers will abandon a site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load on mobile. Hence, it’s time to dedicate resources to level up your site performance for a mobile-friendly storefront and shopping cart. If you don’t know how, here are some practical recommendations that will benefit your business.
- Make a responsive site by providing consistent experiences across devices. Thus, you can improve user experience, site speed, as well as rankings on SERPs.
- Build an accelerated mobile page (AMP). This is a web component framework that creates mobile-optimized content that loads instantly. AMP is the foundation of Google’s mobile-first index, which prefers mobile optimization in search results. Therefore, higher positions on search result pages will help you boost traffic and potentially increase conversion rates.
- Consider a headless architecture, in other words, an API-first solution. Despite the development complexity and cost, e-merchants are still willing to implement this because of its remarkable advantages. Headless commerce enables deep integrations with tools and services, for example, a separate content management system. Furthermore, store owners will have complete control of both the tech stack and front-end experience. Finally, this solution allows you to extend shopping into any customer experience on any device and platform.
For more practical advice on mobile compatibility, check out this article.
One of the significant challenges that all businesses take on is establishing how to interact with their customers. Over the years, the way we deal with this challenge has rapidly changed. The innovative approach that is spreading eCommerce retailers and startups worldwide is conversational commerce.
So what is conversational commerce? In short, it refers to a technology that allows brands and customers to interact with each other through chatting, messaging, voice assistant, and other language interfaces. This two-way communication aims to provide shoppers with personalized support while nurturing long-term relationships. We recommend e-merchants to consider the following applications to improve customer experience.
Chatbots and Messenger Interactions
Many retailers have used these AI-based bots as this form of conversational UI makes perfect sense on smartphones, where consumers can select their preferred responses.
Chatbots and Messenger interactions are a common form of customer service that contributes to personalized and real-time customer experience. Businesses can send customers customized content, offer exclusive deals and suggest purchases. A recent report indicates that 53% of consumers are more likely to shop with a company they can message, making it worthwhile for firms to consider deploying chatbots and conversational UIs.
Promart is a top retail chain in Peru offering home essentials and building materials. The team uses Facebook Messenger as their conversational channel to increase digital adoption, change how their customers purchase, and seek support. Thanks to this automated assistant, consumers can browse and shop the 23,000 products in the Promart catalog without needing to leave the platform for queries. Besides, they can choose to get notifications from various services, for example, stock availability, price alerts, delivery status, and in-cart reminders. As a result, the digital engagement increases to over 60%, and the conversion rate is five times higher than their website.
When it comes to the future of digital shopping, voice-based commerce is worth mentioning here. The smartphone voice assistants developed by Apple and Google have unlocked the potential of voice commerce. This technology reduces users’ dependence on hardware while searching and purchasing online via voice commands.
If you do not believe that this could be a game-changer for B2B and B2C eCommerce, then take a look at these numbers:
- In the UK, 93% of voice device owners now use it at least once a week.
- Recent research shows that 51% of smart speaker owners use voice search and voice assistants to research a product.
For eCommerce websites that feature thousands of items, it is wise to invest in an AI-driven voice search function. Although deploying this functionality might cost store owners more than they wish, your brand will be in the foreground because textless search keeps growing in popularity. We have compiled four actionable strategies to keep in mind when you employ this technology.
- Offer clear and concise answers. To achieve this, you should target ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’, ‘why’, and ‘how’ queries as they are the most popular words in voice searches. Also, it would be better to use natural language by adding speaking patterns, for example, prepositions.
- Craft good product descriptions. Apart from showing customers product features and benefits, your text should be reasonably lifelike. Try to read aloud to determine whether your copy is casual or not.
- Focus on long-tail keywords. To illustrate, if you target ‘best industrial vacuum cleaners’ instead of ‘vacuum cleaners,’ you would find more success with your customers as the short term will not do much in the voice category. However, don’t overdo long-term keywords on your pages as you still need to maintain the natural-sounding text.
- Speed up loading times because shoppers and search engines like Google see speed as a critical factor in bringing great UX.
Focus on Your Current Customers
Customer retention is significant since encouraging this group to repurchase is far easier and less expensive than acquiring new ones. Did you know that improvement of customer retention might boost your profits by 25% to 95%? Moreover, the cost to acquire new customers continues to surge. In late 2020, paid search charges increased by 17%, and the figure for social advertising spiked by 24%.
Victoria’s Secret sends members an exclusive email about their Summer Scent Event with a great deal. (Souce: Victoria's Secret)
To fight the rising acquisition costs, brands should prioritize existing consumers and stimulate them to spend more. The easiest way is to earn customer loyalty by launching reward programs. To increase the lifetime value of a customer, e-merchants could:
- Create loyalty tiers that offer shoppers valuable rewards for additional purchases.
- Invite them to earn rewards by encouraging them to leave reviews and feedback.
- Make reward points redeemable at checkout.
- Provide exclusivity with VIP access and early access to new items.
- Stress urgency with limited-time discount codes.
More than just a platform to share content, social media has been a powerful tool in converting users into buying customers. During the pandemic, Instagram, Facebook, and Whatsapp experienced a 40% increase in usage. eCommerce brands should consider dedicating resources to social commerce as it's among the leading M-commerce trends.
However, people trust people, not brands. Roughly 90% of consumers say that they count on online recommendations from their family members or friends. What they are looking for is authentic and trustworthy content written by influencers and verified users. Not only does it help you increase brand awareness, but word-of-mouth is also more effective than paid advertising, leading to five times more sales. Therefore, eCommerce marketers should take advantage of this trend by using a tactic like user-generated content (UGC) to influence purchase decisions.
Showing social proof from customers’ peers right under your product is such an effective persuasion technique. (Source: Northern Brewer)
Several ways for you to get UGC are:
- Creating a campaign for a specific product and politely asking customers to take a photo using that item. You could do this via email, a push notification, a Messenger blast, or an insert into packaging.
- Automating the review gathering process by using tools to ask each customer to leave a review.
- Using influencers - you can run a UGC campaign by having a group of influencers promoting your brands on their social media accounts.
- Displaying user photos on the category and product pages.
- Showcasing UGC in your marketing emails.
Fulfillment as a Competitive Advantage
With eCommerce booming, brands might find it tough to keep up with consumers' expectations. Hence, if you want to benefit from an online store, it's time to turn order fulfillment into a competitive edge.
Today, customers are attracted to brands that offer free, fast, sustainable, and branded shipping. About 60% of online shoppers say that free delivery would better their shopping experience, while 64% of global consumers demand same-day shipping cutoff times. Plus, over 70% of them wish brands to use sustainable packaging.
While the cost of order fulfillment is soaring, eCommerce business owners must turn it into a strategic asset, which is automated, more innovative, and closer to consumers’ expectations. Here’s how you can achieve this:
- Outsource fulfillment operations by choosing a third-party logistics provider with a massive network of fulfillment centers. Therefore, you can stock merchandise at the right location, resulting in efficient routing and faster shipping.
- Automate inventory management. Your management system should match placed orders with stock in the warehouses to the customers via an automated order routing. The automation will help hasten fulfillment, save time, and reduce shipping costs.
Turn unused retail space into fulfillment centers. Making use of these dark spaces is an intelligent way for eCommerce brands to offer click-and-collect pickup. In the US, this model is predicted to reach $64 billion in 2021.
As more customers expect eCommerce brands to be socially responsible, you could consider eco-friendly packaging and delivery as a solution.
- Choose recyclable and biodegradable materials. Some cheap and environmental-friendly alternatives for you are biodegradable air peanuts, recycled plastics, cardboard, seaweed, and mushroom packaging.
- Follow a minimalist design. Redesigning your packaging is a better choice to lessen expenses and the impact on the environment while achieving high efficiency at the same time.
- Try soy-based inks if you like to print branding elements on your packaging. Compared to traditional inks, soy-based ones are now more economical and eco-friendly while also bringing you many vibrant colors to work with.
- Evaluate packaging size. It is crucial to choose the correct box size that will reduce extra waste for shipping. Also, boxes that are too large might force you to use filler materials - which are not recyclable- to protect fragile items.
The COVID-19 era has changed the face of retail commerce. From startups to small businesses and large enterprises, eCommerce has been a significant source of revenue and will continue to grow in the coming years. We hope that all the eCommerce marketing trends mentioned in this article will help you define your future strategy to generate leads and conversions.