Emerging Trends in eCommerce

eCommerce is a reality of modern day shopping experience. In today’s world, eCommerce is no longer a luxury for retailers but a necessity. It is not a “nice to have” but a “must have”. Well, for most, this is obvious, and for the rest, they’re still in 20th century.

Customer expectations while shopping online are higher than ever. This is both a challenge and an opportunity for savvy retailers to drive competitive advantage. To be a market leader, companies need to adapt emerging trends in eCommerce to ensure a superior online customer experience.

So what are the important steps for retailers to provide an excellent shopping experience to today’s consumers who use multiple devices and visit numerous online sites when shopping?

1. Browsing is Fun

Browsing should be compelling and functional on all browsers and devices. Your consumers are no longer using one device or browser for shopping. Potential growth of mobile/iPad in retail eCommerce is enormous. With the current projections, mobile/iPad will exceed desktop numbers in the next couple of years. Consumers expect the site to work seamlessly whether they are browsing through desktop or an iPad or a mobile. Things to look out for – are there features that will not work on an old browser or the latest iPad? Does the shopping interface work on smartphone screens? Responsive websites is the key.

Test the online customer experience using internal staff and mystery shoppers. These test shoppers should be able to intuitively browse products through your website, transact, checkout and process payments without any help. For some latest platforms, like iOS 6 and Android 4.2 Jellybean, advanced features can be enable like using the camera for barcode scanning to doing a virtual makeover for customers in store.

2. Streamlined Omni-channel shopping experience

Online shoppers have very little patience for inconsistencies between multiple channels. Not only browsers but also multiple channels of shopping need to be integrated. A product added in a basket at home is expected to be found in the basket when you go to the store or if you call up the call center. Similarly, buyers should be able to return goods purchased online to a physical store. It is vital that businesses understand the importance of providing a superior omni-channel experience.

3. Go Social

Your customers are all over on social websites – Facebook has a user base of 1.15 billion and amazing 699 million daily active users. This is a huge opportunity for retailers to take advantage of. Using Facebook Connect, various sets of data can be collected about users’ daily activity and that can be utilized to approach targeted customers, e.g. by offering promotion on most liked or most commented products, or recommending the same products when these consumers your store. Other social networks like Twitter, Pinterest, Groupon etc are fast catching up and offer great insights to savvy retailers.

4. Compelling Marketing Campaign

To effectively reach consumers, retailers need to develop compelling marketing messages that resonate in physical and digital forms. “Pull browsing” where customers ask for the information is rapidly changing to “push browsing”, where customers are shown information relevant to them based on their browsing or purchase history. For example, a consumer interested in toys is shown ads from various toy retailers whenever he is browsing on Internet. Marketing emails, an effective tool will soon turn into relevant SMS notifications when a customer is standing outside the physical store.

5. Content is the King

Keep your website relevant and fresh. Frequent users represent a major share of your sales, and customers will return if they know they are not looking into outdated information. Including blogs and social media and keeping all communication channels active is the key. This will enhance customer engagement and people will be able to identify with you and your products. Building your brand this way will eventually have positive impact on conversion of shopping customers (who are just surfing/comparing) to buying customers (who actually buy from your store).

6. Personalization

Combining online and offline data from various channels whether structured or unstructured provides those hidden consumer patterns which were never thought of. These patterns can be used to present personalized recommendations and content to the online customers. Most online shoppers warmly welcome product suggestions based on their personal preferences, purchases or browsing history. However a few prefer to remain anonymous and do not want their information to be stored. In either case, consumer information needs to be handled with discretion and be sufficiently secured.

Conclusion

There is a definite shift in consumer attitude and satisfaction when it comes to the Internet – online buying has become part of mainstream shopping and is here to stay. The challenge for companies now centers on providing the best customer experience and ensuring that user experience is seamlessly integrated across all channels consumer is exposed to. Consumers want to easily research and compare products, engage in a discussion where required, and have complete clarity when it comes to the total purchase cost as well as flexible delivery and return policies. The challenge is not only to ensure that shopping applications work on each device, but also that they make the best use of the features of each platform.

In the end, you win if the consumer wins.

Is your company ready for these trends in eCommerce that define the present and future of eCommerce?

Using Ecommerce Platforms to Build Your Online Store

What can ecommerce platforms do for your online business? There are actually numerous services like these that will help sellers build online stores in a fast and economical way. Ecommerce platforms allow sellers to setup fully functional online stores quickly and easily so they can focus on more important aspects of running their business. They do all the hard work so you don’t have to learn the ins and outs of how an online store functions, all you have to focus on is selling.

  • There is 1shoppingcart, an ecommerce platform that offers extensive services to ecommerce websites such as supersizing customer orders through upsells, and automated email marketing that allow online sellers to build customer loyalty by sending emails for promotions and discounts to customers with excellent purchase history.
  • There is Volusion which claims to provide an easy and affordable way for people to sell products online. They are proud to have launched thousands of online businesses with the help of ecommerce experts while giving back to the community through charities and organizations.
  • There is Shopify, an ecommerce platform composed of a team of experts that have helped countless online retailers such as General Electric, Amnesty International, CrossFit, Tesla Motors, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Foo Fighters, GitHub, and more. Its platform allows users to easily and quickly create online stores without all the technical work involved and for much less than other companies. Shopify helps online sellers manage all aspects of their shops such as uploading products, changing the design, accepting credit card orders, and viewing incoming orders as well as completed transactions.
  • There is Bigcommerce, a well-known platform which focuses on a number of features including building the website, marketing your products and services, securing transactions, etc. They also strive for excellence and provide their customers with all kinds of support.
  • There is Magento, another ecommerce platform that is trusted by the World’s leading brands such as The North Face, Nike, Lindt, Lenovo, Olympus, and Kipling, to name a few. They are known for having world-class support and flexibility, at a fraction of the price charged by competitors.

There are more ecommerce platforms that guarantee full support in setting up online ecommerce businesses. Choose the one that will accommodate all your ecommerce needs and one that truly fits your budget. Most of the ecommerce platforms provide consultation which you will definitely need in order to identify which one is the right fit for your business. They also offer free trials that last from 2 weeks to a whole month. Test a few out before you make your decision.

Key Milestones in the History of Ecommerce

The history of e commerce is nothing else but captivating. It is true that e commerce has come a long way and is unthinkable without the internet and the search engines. No wonder history of e commerce has gone through an interesting metamorphosis, from an unheard of entity in the ’70s’ to the booming multibillion-dollar enterprise it is today. It has come well in handy especially in assisting today’s tech savvy businessman/woman who wants to work from the comfort of home. The term ‘e commerce’ is coined from Electronic Data Transfer (EDT) and Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), the then only forms of electronic transactions in the 1970s.

In 1982 and throughout the 1980s, several online market places were started. Websites were designed and hosted and there was an increased proliferation of credit cards, ATMs, and telephone banking services. All these marked a major milestone in the evolution of the history of e commerce. Used computer parts were advertised and sold through e commerce from places as far as the Boston computer exchange market, to other parts of the world.

Come the mid-nineties and this marked a key point in the history of e commerce as the technology exploded. This period saw the designing and hosting of the first static web page. This was a website that linked individuals, organizations, and even governments to the global online market that the economic world had started to evolve into. This was the turning point of the history of e commerce where, in hindsight, electronic transactions went past the point of no return since then. E commerce was giving other manual and cumbersome marketing initiatives a wide berth and they had no choice other than to bow out. With the turning of the millennium in early 200, simplistic e commerce websites were designed by the then major computer software manufacturers.

This, by far, eased the sale of their software, music and videos could be uploaded and downloaded by anyone who met the subscription criteria. The financial industry analysts called it the economical boom of all time. Internet use exploded and the world was turned into one global e-market. Services and products sales grew by the hour. People in developed countries quit going to work daily and started working from home. Since e commerce minted money by the hour, affluent households increased and thus increased the demand for expensive products and services to cater for the whims of the affluent.

Within duration of one year (2000-2001) sales from e commerce soared with the developed countries in the lead, from a paltry figure of tens of billions to over seven hundred billion US dollars worth of total sales from e commerce recorded. The net worth of the affluent households rose, jobs were created, and the whole global economy improved. Almost ten years later (2000-2009), e commerce is today virtually indispensable. Services and products have to be promoted through e commerce.

The health of the world economic giants and the economical pathfinders heavily rests on e commerce. Companies continue to post profit returns that are beyond any CEO’s wildest dreams. E commerce sales have continued to grow and today, they account for close to 5% of total sales, globally and this figure seems to be rising almost by the hour. Thanks to the history of e commerce, it is now the stress-free electronic transaction choice of all time and the global economy heavily depends on e commerce that is only a click of a button away and so user and consumer friendly.