By Anthony Sills
If you’re serious about making money online, it’s important to stay current with emerging market conditions and electronic commerce trends. The way consumers buy products is changing as the Internet matures, and e-commerce is exploding — far faster than brick-and-mortar retail.
Here are five trends affecting e-commerce merchants and how you can take advantage of them.
1. Linking e-commerce strategy with social initiatives. Social e-commerce — where Web 2.0 principles meet web-based online commerce — is the wave of the future, as businesses expand their customer engagement strategies to include social media. Use social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook to connect with your customers, monitor reaction to your brand and resolve customer service issues.
2. Mobile is on the move. Spending on location-based mobile advertising is predicted to hit $4 billion in 2015, up from $34 million in 2009. Increasingly, people are accessing the Internet from their smartphones. Businesses need to optimize their websites so that customers can easily access them from their mobile devices. This offers savvy businesses an additional opportunity to make a sale.
3. It’s all about the customer. Today’s shoppers insist on a premium customer experience. They want user-centric information, and they expect their experience on a mobile device, online or in a store to be consistent — and on their terms. Keep in mind that your approach may vary depending on whether your customers are consumers or other businesses, and be sure to do your research as to which facets of the e-commerce experience are most important to them.
4. An online presence is not enough. More businesses are optimizing their customers’ web experience with features like enhanced search, navigation and relevant product content. According to the MCM Outlook 2012-2013 survey, which focuses on electronic commerce trends in the U.S., 37.8% of respondents offer a live chat option, up 20.3% from last year. 70.5% offer their customers the ability to refine search results, up from 52%. Make your customer’s overall ease of use your top priority.
5. Cart abandonment remarketing. In a recent Apparel magazine article, editor in chief Jordan Speer states that “80% of retail website visitors abandon their shopping carts instead of completing the purchase.” More merchants are marketing to consumers who have abandoned shopping carts. This can be done via personalized offers, e-mail contact, etc. Converting a fraction of the buyers who are currently abandoning carts can boost your bottom line dramatically.
Forbes magazine has reported that online retail in the U.S. is experiencing double-digit growth and is projected to be a nearly $300 billion market by 2015. By keeping abreast of today’s trends and considering how they can benefit your business, you’ll be positioning yourself to take advantage of this growth.