The distinction between retailer and e-tailer is becoming less defined, as more consumers turn to the web for product information, recommendations and purchasing decisions. This year the line will continue to blur. Omnichannel, m-commerce, brick meets click, and lightning fast checkout are important strategies for e-commerce merchants to embrace. Today’s consumer is not only knowledgeable about which product she wants at what price; she also wants comprehensive reviews and information, inventory availability, and fast (often free and overnight) shipping.People shop online—more than ever before. Knowing how and why they do it is critical to retailers.
Lets have a look at few e-commerce trends to pay attention over the next 12 months:
=> Mobile Commerce and the Omnichannel Advantage: Effective mobile commerce isn’t happening in a vacuum. Mobile shoppers don’t use phones to the exclusion of in-store or full website research and purchasing. Consumers don’t live in one channel today. Flipping between tablet, phone, computer, and store is merely part of today’s shopping experience. Mobile commerce may have been considered an add-on in 2012, but in 2015 it’s simply the way things are done. It’s not hard to imagine a customer researching a product online, comparison shopping while in the store, and later ordering the item from their iPad.
Driven by technological changes that create opportunities to capture more of the market, payment and delivery of goods across channels will become ubiquitous in 2015. Consumers expect retailers to give them what they want, when and where they want it.
Mobile-centric strategies should continue to be top of mind with retailers going this year, with an emphasis on:
- Easy to use and secure mobile payment options
- Optimized mobile web — Small screens are big and companies who optimize the mobile web experience (faster load times, user-friendly, and customized presentation) will be better positioned to capture market share.
- Hybrid shopping — Integration between brick and mortar, online, mobile commerce and other platforms will be the norm rather than a game-changer in 2015.
=>Social Commerce and Personalized Marketing: e-commerce merchants will have to “socialize” more if they want to stand out from their competitors and protect their brands. Reviewers, raving fans, and, yes, complainers, take to the blogosphere and Twitterverse to endorse products, share favorites, make or ask for recommendations and lodge complaints. Now, more than ever, engagement is key, and the customer is always, always right!
In addition to implementing effective mobile and omnichannel strategies, smart retailers will use social networks to customize product and service offerings. As people turn to their peers on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for recommendations, social selling must be part of any e-commerce company strategy in 2015. Responsive web design with functional customized views (based on social as much as data), and personalized rather than corporate content will be a brand differentiator.
=>Shipping, inventory, and same day service: Until now, brick-and-mortar stores have had a strategic advantage over online stores—immediate fulfillment. Purchase now, leave the store with your item has been the name of the game for physical shopping since layaway and delayed gratification became an artifact of bygone days. Leave it to e-commerce to convince consumers that touching, feeling, hauling goods, and rubbing elbows with the throngs isn’t necessary. Thanks to faster, cheaper, and easier shipping, consumers need not sit around pining for the courier man any longer.
Here is why:
- Shipping — It all started with free overnight delivery and returns at the click of a mouse. The window of delivery has since shrunk further, as companies move to same day and 30 minute delivery options.
- Inventory control and availability — You can’t ship nothing, so e-commerce companies have had to get tighter and more accurate when making inventory visible to today’s consumer (only one more item left in stock!)
=>Compliance in the shopping cart:Lightning fast delivery, wearable technology, and market-disrupting deals are only window dressing if the underlying infrastructure isn’t accurate and compliant. Compliance may not be attractive, but it is the only way to succeed in e-commerce these days. It can potentially make the difference between a banner year and going out of business.
Here is how:
- PCI compliance — The news is full of hacked customer financials and fraudulent purchasing. Not even the biggest brands are spared. PCI compliance originally set out to protect consumers from these kinds of breaches, but in-house auditing and assurance systems are often lacking. The costs of lost data to consumers and companies is in the billions. While this won’t scare many consumers away from online shopping, it might slow revenue growth if protocols aren’t followed and strict protections aren’t in place.
- Checkout accuracy — Customers expect to see a final price at checkout that includes accurate shipping rates and estimates, application of coupons, discounts, or incentives, and sales tax. Accuracy throughout the checkout process is critical to maintaining customer satisfaction and loyalty and growing your customer base. These days, checkout accuracy isn’t just about abandoned shopping carts. Unhappy customers can take complaints viral and ignite PR firestorms.
Need of the Hour: 2015 might be a brave new world for e-commerce, but it needn’t be a runaway train. With the right tools for the job, savvy and planful e-commerce retailers will play to win. Staying on top of fast-moving trends like m-commerce, brick meets click, social web, customer loyalty and retention, and compliance are must-haves. Each strategy positions retailers to capitalize on opportunities to capture more market share before all of this becomes old hat. Traditional engagement strategies won’t work anymore. Old ideas are lucky tickets to failure. Seamless paths to shopping experiences and post shopping services offered to customers help a business retain customer relationship. Every business needs a cross-functional workforce to update their space with emerging technologies. Accept changes, welcome new technologies, live up to customers’ needs and expectations; you are going to see your business in smooth waters very soon.
By Boney Moshahary
Solveda Software India Pvt. Ltd
By Anthony Fornabiao, VP of Sales, Solveda LLC
“U.S. MOBILE RETAIL SALES WILL RISE 63% THIS YEAR, PROPELLED INTO ORBIT BY RETAILERS WITH POWERFUL MOBILE STRATEGIES”
This headline from a well-known industry magazine caught my eye recently so I decided to reach out to a mid-sized local retailer. It was pretty clear to me that with a thriving online business they definitely needed a better mobile solution. What was less clear was the ROI on building a specific iPhone or Droid “app”, and who would actually go to the trouble of downloading the “app”, let alone using it for purchases? Turns out that they were thinking exactly the same thing.
At Solveda we think about this as “small device”. Maybe it’s an iPhone, maybe a Droid, maybe an iPad or an iPad mini. If we were to custom build an “app” for each of these devices none of our clients would ever recoup the development costs. And who knows what the next device will be.
Our approach is to design sites for “Responsive Web Design”, or RWD for short.
RWD is a design technique whereby the display will “respond” to the available space it has to work in. Think about an eCommerce page listing products available for purchase. On a desktop there may be 4 products displayed horizontally across the page, on an iPad perhaps there are 3, and on a smartphone in landscape mode only 2 are displayed. The basic premise is to never have a horizontal scroll bar, just keep responding!
There are many design and implementation decisions to be made and it’s can be tricky when you have to consider how an eCommerce solution will be viewed on an array of different devices. With time and experience we’ve shown we’re up to the task and can advise and implement based on the RWD knowledge and best practices that we’ve attained over the last few years.
And one last thought on RWD—discussions are typically around smartphones and other “small devices”. But what about those consumers with very large devices like a big office monitor or TV display? Well our RWD approach is truly responsive, and if more space is available we will display more information. It’s responsive in every way!
At Solveda we would always recommend that your eCommerce site is RWD right from the start. This has become a standard for all of our implementations. For most of your consumers this will provide a perfectly acceptable journey through your catalog and into the check-out process. Once this baseline is in place other more specific “apps” can be considered, based on your customer base and their purchasing habits. For most of our clients, the RWD solution fits the bill without the need for these “apps”. A dollar saved is a dollar earned! Share your comments .