Ecommerce is one of the greatest products to be developed by the online world. It has shaped the retail industry and has changed the way consumers source their products and services. As an industry, e-commerce is coming to terms with the reality that change is the only constant part of life. Ecommerce is a vital tool for the retail industry and the trends predict that this will increase in the future. This is because it is becoming more accessible and the use of e-commerce websites is increasing all over the world. Some pundits predict that soon the sale volumes generated online will far surpass those of brick and mortar stores. This is not so hard to conceptualize, given the success that online retailers have experienced of late.
In order for e-commerce to achieve this potential, it will be forced to change and innovate to deal with the changing market environment. The innovation that they undertake as an industry is going to define what possibilities arise from the consumer relationship with the online retailers. The idea is to build an efficient and mutually beneficial relationship between the customer and themselves. The popular ecommerce brands are coming to the realization that consumer behavior is not the only essential ingredient of a strong online retail formula. Online retailers, with a long term outlook, can no longer rely on quantity and quality tendencies to fuel their growth.
Here are some of the emerging trends that shape the future of eCommerce:-
1. Personalization of the consumer experience
Online consumers want a personalized shopping experience. The online retailers are providing this by gathering relevant information about their consumers. This allows the online retailers to create a personalized and customized online shopping experience for their consumers. Studies done on ecommerce have shown that the future of this trend is geared towards an increase in personalization.
2. Cross channel integration of the consumer experience
The online consumer should be able to have a shopping experience that integrates different channels. This makes the online interaction far more interactive and appealing to the consumer. The idea behind this trend is to increase the immersion in a brand that the online consumer gets. The consumer will also be able to combine their online shopping experience with a mortar and brick shopping experience if they so desire. A physical store for an online retailer has to keep track of their inventory and looking at logistics companies may be necessary. The integration of multi channel opportunities into the online shopping experience is designed to provide a holistic feel across various channels. This is essential to building consumer loyalty. It has also helped to ensure that logistical issues with inventory are handled in real time quite easily.
3. Mobile commerce
The future of electronic commerce seems to be intertwined with mobile computing. This has led to the creation of a new online retailer buzzword m-commerce. This trend is driven by an increase in mobile devices in the form of Smartphones; these devices have been a boon to the market in two ways.
First, the consumers are able to install useful apps from the online retailers. These apps allow them to do their online shopping with even greater ease and convenience.
Secondly, these mobile devices have led to the creation of responsive web design which has allowed the mobile user to interact in a more effective manner with the ecommerce website. This is because it allows the webpage to respond to the size and capabilities of the screen of the device the consumer is using. This allows the online retailer to deliver a consistent experience across all the range of devices in the market. In order to respond to the needs of the market, ecommerce will need to place a greater focus on the possibilities offered by m-commerce as this is a growth market. Mobile devices have a greater market penetration and, therefore, are set to become a bigger market.
4. Reliable scalability
An online retailer is only as reliable as the backend systems they use to deliver products to the consumer. Online retailers are quickly learning that the inefficiencies and weaknesses on the back end system are limiting their ability to grow. Irrespective of the quality of their products, their ability to give low prices and all other aspects of their online strategy, the retailers will fail if they can’t deliver. This has seen the trend shift focus on the reliability of their back end systems. They need to be able to deal with future growth. Their ability to scale up and meet expectations will be a key factor in their growth.
5. Upgrading the online experience
The online shopping experience has been quite cut and dry. It has primarily been a set of electronic catalogues and a button that initiates a sale. In order to keep the consumer interested, online retailers are going to have to upgrade their shopping experience. This will be done by incorporating the feedback and suggestions that the consumers provide. They will also seek to integrate social media aspects into the overall experience. These schemes are necessary if they are to achieve consumer lock in.
6. Re-marketing approach
This is an approach where the online retailer makes sure that the consumers not only see the product but are made to develop an interest in it. The interest is created through repeated exposure to the marketing strategy the online retailer is using. The idea is that once the consumer has been introduced to the product, repeated exposure to the same will help build their interest in it. This has been seen to be highly effective, especially in cases where the consumer has abandoned their cart after selecting the product. Strategically placed ads and marketing information on the internet is used to get the consumer to buy the product.
7. Interactive product displays
Images, while effective, are not the best way to get the prospective consumer to check out the product. They are not particularly effective where the consumer is interested in the functionality, design elements, and aesthetic appeal of the product. This is why the trend is edging towards giving the consumer a more interactive display of the products. They can use interactive images, showcase videos, and product use demonstration videos. These provide better value to the consumer. They are also more convincing than text and images.
8. Loyalty programs
It is all about locking in the consumer. It costs much less to lock in a consumer than to go looking for one. The cost of advertising and marketing is high, and the results can be good; however, creating brand loyalty is sure fire win for the online retailer. The online retailer must provide the consumer with incentives to make them a regular. The loyalty programs are being used to create a hassle free shopping experience, give consumers rewards, free shipping, and other incentives to lock them in. With a wealth of online retailers out there and most offering similar products, turning a customer to a lifetime member is the best way to stay in business.
9. Customer service
The interaction point for the online retailer and the consumer is the delivery of the products they have purchased. An online retailer needs a good delivery network in order to fulfill the expectations of their clients. Online retailers are now focused on the same day deliveries, delivery programs, and shipping clubs.
10. Addition of a human touch
As previously stated, the online retail business is quite cut and dry. The online retailers will be seeking to give it a human touch using innovative web technologies in order to better the overall experience of interaction with their business.