E-commerce trends – matching customer expectations
Rushika Bhatia
10X Technology

E-commerce trends – matching customer expectations

2020 will be another year of extraordinary growth in the e-commerce space and staying on top of the latest trends will be important as your business grows. By understanding how consumers are choosing to shop, what they’re looking for from brands, and figuring out create more personalized experiences to meet their needs, your brand will be set to grow and have a great year ahead. UPS and SME10X round-up the top trends…

1. Mobile first: Fifty percent of all web traffic happens on mobile devices and a large percentage of e-commerce purchases happen on a smartphone. Depending on your audience, this could be higher. If your website isn’t mobile-optimized, you risk losing out on customers. In general, mobile users spend less time on-site, view fewer pages per session, and have higher bounce rates.

2. Seamless experiences: If you have a brick-and-mortar location, it’s essential to create a seamless experience between your e-commerce website and your physical location. Many in-store transactions are actually the results of digital interaction since many people do their research online before even stepping foot into a store to try the product or chat with an associate. Aside from the basics, such as ensuring prices are consistent, you should also consider allowing in-store pickups, free in-store returns (for online orders and physical orders) and ensuring you’re the branding on your website is reflected in your store.

3. Live chat : In today’s instant gratification culture, people don’t want to wait for a reply to their e-mail and many don’t like to talk on the phone. Live chat provides an excellent option for e-commerce stores to provide support and answer questions your visitors may have about your products. Don’t just have it as a fad, make sure that there is a real person behind these that can give better responses to your customers.

4. Using big tech platforms: Consumers are beginning to realize the tremendous impact these large tech conglomerates have on every facet of our lives, as well as the implications on privacy and data protection. Brands are realizing the cost to do business across these platforms is not really yielding the long-term, sustainable business growth they want. So, expect to see a shift occur in business behaviour toward more sustainable growth strategies, like personalized marketing that enable brands to use the marketing channels within their control—e-mail, website, and mobile—to develop better and more personal relationships with their customers that lead to long-term growth.

5. Personalized content: Brands that create personalized experiences will stand out, which is why it’s more important than ever to be utilizing the data you have on your customers to create relevant and engaging personalized experiences for them, every time you communicate with them. This will mean more personalized, spam-free messages using all the communication tools available directly to the company.

6. Payment options : One of the reasons Amazon is so popular is because they save billing and shipping information for their customers, making it easy to checkout, without having to go through a ton of manual data entry (which is even more annoying to do on a smartphone). So, explore options for your customer. Find the right solution that will allow your customers to checkout as quickly and easily as possible, whether that’s through a service like PayPal, Samsung Pay or similar customer financing options that you can offer through your local payment partner.

7. Influencers and reviews: Consumers are shifting away from tuning into traditional advertising and relying more on recommendations and reviews from others. According to a research by Statista, sixty-eight percent of people said trustworthy reviews were the strongest influencing factor on where they decided to shop online, and product reviews are the most popular type of user-generated content submitted by online shoppers. Encourage your customers and users to review both your business (customer service, quality of your products, etc.), as well as reviews of individual products to engage consumers.

8. New technology: AR, or augmented reality, is a great way to allow your customers to envision your product in their own space. These experiences help to increase buying confidence and customer engagement, and they help you differentiate your brand from your competitors since many e-commerce brands aren’t yet taking advantage of this powerful new technology. Some e-commerce platforms, like Shopify have apps with AR capabilities, that come with instructions on how to get your 3D products into your Shopify store.

9. Subscription-based services: Customers love subscription-based businesses. If you don’t currently offer any of your products in the form of a subscription model, now is a great time to begin brainstorming ways you may be able to fit your product into a subscription-based business. Subscription-based businesses also allow you to better manage your inventory, as well as provide additional customization and personalization options to build stronger customer. Subscription services provide recurring, predictable income that can help you better forecast sales goals. This might also help you to offer a “try before you buy” option as part of the subscription package. Popular subscription-box retailers like Stitch Fix send a collection of items they think a shopper might like and allow them to return any items that they don’t like or that don’t fit.

10. Pricing transparency: Unexpected fees and charges are one of the leading reasons customers abandon during the checkout process. In addition to being transparent about your business practices, prices, fees, and charges, be sure not to bury any important information in the fine print, such as return policy exceptions, or data privacy and use.

11. Free shipping: Free shipping is extremely widespread. More customers expect to receive free shipping than those who expect to pay for shipping, especially on orders over a certain amount. If you’re not currently offering a free shipping option, explore ways to do so because it may be costing you sales. Providing multiple shipping options that allow customers to select their own speed is usually the best way to go.

12. Return policies: If you have a brick-and-mortar store as well as an online store, it’s a no-brainer that you should allow in-store returns from online purchases (and vice versa). However, consider taking this one step further and offering free return policies. Easy and free return shipping is one of the best things you can do to build trust with your customers and help get somebody who may be on the fence to make a purchase. You could also link it to your subscription-based model if you opt for one.

13. Sustainability: Environmental sustainability is becoming increasingly important to consumers and they’re showing through their share of wallet. As environmental sustainability continues to be on the top of people’s minds, the importance of building a sustainable brand, and talking about this on your website is more important than ever.

14. Social media: Social media is a lot more than just likes, shares, and cute dog photos these days. Many social channels are turning into mini search engines of their own and a growing number of online shoppers have bought a product directly through a brand’s social post. Lots of platforms are making it super easy for e-commerce stores to sell directly through their social pages these days with built-in embedded links. This means that customers can click on specific products within a post and be led directly to a product page, making it far easier to boost impulse buys through online advertising. While these trends may change and evolve in time, many online stores are seeing incredible returns by capitalizing on them. Be mindful of what works for you and pick the ones that’s right for your customer.