2017 was a dynamic year for e-commerce, rich in trends and experiments. B2B e-commerce came to the forefront and spearheaded the growth of the retail industry. Mobile e-commerce continued to grow by leaps and bounds and omnichannel e-commerce established a solid foundation to capitalize on the market opportunities. Now, however, it is time to revamp some of the obsolete ideas and gear up for the upcoming year 2018.
Although there are several options you can choose to scale your e-commerce store, today, we shall discuss how can you specifically leverage the projected trends of the e-commerce market in 2018 in the best possible way.
There are some unanticipated trends in 2018’s kitty, which will take e-commerce to a whole new level. Some of these include:
- Increased focus on personalized shopping experiences
- The growth of B2B over B2C
- Uninterrupted dominance of mobile commerce
- The emergence of omnichannel eCommerce
- Exponential increase in traction on social media
Considering the potential direction e-commerce is anticipated to take, e-store modifications can be typically divided into two categories, operational and marketing. The operational changes that can be made to your e-store typically include revamping the look, feel, and organization of the website to make it more search-friendly. The marketing methods comprise of activities like setting up reward systems, loyalty programs a-la-Amazon, and other strategies.
Let us explore these in greater detail.
For eCommerce websites, user-friendliness is a must. Everything on the store needs to be configured to induce the customer to convert and continue the association until the next purchase. These operational methods include the various ways in which the website can be customized to improve the user interface and user experience, in alignment with our goals for 2018.
Changing the Look of the Website
Give your website a completely fresh feel and aspect by introducing a new look on your store. This can include rearrangement of the products displayed, customizing the layout of the product description and other reviews and recommendations, etc. to make the page more reader-friendly.
Although the current trend is a column-wise arrangement with the product images on the left, title and brief description on the right, and the main content below, you can choose to rearrange the flow of the features in a more accessible manner. Running split tests to see what works for you is a good idea too. In case you are planning to completely overhaul your system, try using a completely different theme to redefine your brand. Make sure that the themes you are using are mobile-friendly and responsive across all devices.
Setting up New Product Categories
2018 is shaping up to be a pretty ‘cool’ year. Move away from the typical categories like ‘Food’, ‘Clothing’, ‘Books’, ‘Electronics’, etc. to a more customer-friendly categorizing system. For instance, you could come up with goal-based sub-categories that directly address a requirement of your customers. Product bundling in a specific category-set is another way to ramp up sales.
Suppose somebody lands on your page looking for fitness trackers and sees an entire category that relates to fitness-related items, like diet food, fitness clothing, juices and health drinks, running shoes, wireless headphones, etc.. They’d be delighted, wouldn’t they? All the fun of shopping without any hassle of browsing through multiple categories!
Inducting Resolution-Oriented Search in 2018
An extension of the idea mentioned above, the resolution-oriented search includes configuring your website so that multiple products appear in a customer’s search results based on the keywords they are targeting. I’ll simplify it further; let’s continue with the fitness example.
New Year’s is the time of making resolutions (how long they last is irrelevant :P), so people will be searching for stuff like ‘increase fitness at home’ or ‘increase fitness in a month’. Now, if you have a product category like ‘Fitness bundle for 2018’, which targets the same keywords as your potential customer base, your fitness-related products will show up in the first few search results, increasing the chances of conversions. You can also set up inquiry systems to facilitate easier communication.
Secure Payment Methods and Increased Options
The increase in cybercrime has affected consumer perception in a highly negative manner. 2018 will see the implementation of high-security measures in payment gateways and an increase in the number of available options for secure transactions.
The demands on payment gateways are expected to increase with face detection features being incorporated in many Android and iOS systems. At the moment, none of these systems vouch for transaction security, but the advent of the mobile era will necessitate this evolution.
Breadcrumb navigation is now a part of life for e-commerce. Nevertheless, improving the navigation for better SEO is still important and relevant. Dwell time is going to be a crucial factor in Google’s website ranking algorithm and a website with poor navigation can give you a high bounce rate, which is a big no-no.
Bad navigation is one of the top 10 reasons why people leave your website, says Hubspot. Reorganize Product Pages to have a cleaner flow and connect with other platforms like blogs or social media to add backlinks to your pages.
Increasing the Variety of Products Offered
This can be niche-specific or global, depending on the type of your e-store. The fact is, big players like Amazon and Flipkart are slowly tapping into all avenues of retail e-commerce and literally building a one-stop-solution. It is time for all e-commerce owners to step up their game and explore new areas of interest, not just stay mired in a specific sector. DDB Worldwide mentions that 40% of the US males in the 18-34 age group would prefer to purchase everything online if given enough choice.
This clearly proves that there is a huge demand for holistic shopping solutions that reduce the effort of the customers by offering a variety of products for the given application.
Email List Building to Create Larger Reach
Along with your new goal-oriented categories, you can set up premium content related to the goals people are working towards. Offer this content as a part of your membership program or through your subscription system and you have a source of email list building.
You get to know the interests of your customers when they sign up for your newsletter and as they browse through the e-store through various product categories. Since you have their email addresses, you can send targeted emails with product recommendations, thereby increasing the rate of conversions.
That covers the organizational modifications you can make to help your e-commerce website rank better in 2018. Let us now see how should you market this new and updated version properly, to get the desired results.
Successful marketing is all about understanding the customer psyche and putting their wants first. Think from a customer’s perspective and you will come up with a dozen ideas that can amplify your customer base. There are a few common strategies though, which are applicable for all e-stores and can be leveraged for better website performance in 2018. These include:
Creating Visual Content
Visual content is rapidly growing to be a strong marketing strategy in 2018. The world is going video-crazy, says Cisco, with online video content expected to make up 80% of all online traffic by 2021! YouTube is currently the second-most popular resource for organic search and is going to continue growing exponentially.
An added advantage of this medium is that it hasn’t been tapped to its full potential yet, which makes it perfect for increasing your customer base. Visual content embedded in Product Pages increases the customer dwell time as well, which is a definite plus!
Using Facebook as a Remarketing Platform
Facebook is no longer limited to being an informal resource for product promotion. Corporations are using the wide reach and popularity of the platform to run remarketing ads regularly. Facebook is the second most-used platform after the Google Display Network, with Instagram a close third.
It is necessary to note that Facebook is expected to start monetizing messaging by the end of 2018, so e-commerce owners need to concentrate their marketing efforts taking the fact into account.
Getting Ready for Google’s Mobile-First Index in 2018
One of the major changes that Google is making to its search engine algorithm is that it is going mobile first. That means all websites will be ranked based on how mobile-ready their pages are, irrespective of where they are being accessed from.
Why is this important for e-commerce store owners? Well, most e-stores function adequately when it comes to mobile browsing, but very few are truly optimized for mobiles. 2018 is the year when mobile optimization and the responsiveness of websites will be under scrutiny so it is time to start making your e-store mobile-friendly now.
Setting up Consumer-centric sections
We saw the advantage of goal-oriented categories above; consumer-centric sections address the psychological aspect. ‘Collections’ have always had a strong customer pull, with people spending hours browsing through seasonal or occasion-specific assortments of clothes and accessories.
Creating dedicated sections is a strong strategy for e-commerce in 2018. E-store owners can set up customized sections with product bundles catering to niche consumer interests for creating customer loyalty.
Developing Your Own Loyalty Program
Customer loyalty is one of the reasons why Amazon Prime is a goldmine. The e-commerce giant has effectively proven the power of having loyal customers, simply by offering them a privilege that sets them apart from the rest of the crowd.
Customer loyalty is going to be an important strategy for e-commerce in 2018 and store owners will need to develop their individual loyalty programs to retain customers using ideas like customer-specific pricing. The rapid increase in competition has already led to turf wars in retail e-commerce, which will escalate further. In such scenarios, coming up with and implementing a unique loyalty module can go a long way in beating the competition.
Driving Customers Towards Social Sharing
Today’s customers have gone global, with geographical boundaries becoming meaningless in the face of modern means of transport and communication. Given the widespread use of social media and the tech-savvy generations, social media platforms can be a great way of product promotion, as Facebook has already proven.
From a marketing perspective, social sharing by customers can be highly beneficial as it gives you an additional resource for your marketing efforts. Make it easy for customers to share their experiences using your products on social platforms is a surefire strategy for product promotion.
Yearly Subscription Offers
Yearly subscription offers imply a membership module offered to your customers at a discounted price. Despite the risk of sounding like a fangirl, I shall be talking about Amazon Prime again here :D. Prime has three plans, the $8.99/month for only video, the 10.99/month for all features other than 25% prepayment discount, and the main Prime plan at $99/year with all the features.
The advantage of having the third, yearly option is that it clearly highlights why investing in a yearly subscription has more value for money.
E-commerce in 2018 is all geared towards increasing customer loyalty and yearly subscriptions can be a big part of doing this successfully.
Completing the Feedback Loop
As a tangent to increasing customer loyalty, completing the feedback loop is going to be important to e-commerce in 2018. Taking consumer reviews into consideration and setting up reward programs for loyal customers will increase engagement on the e-store, which will translate to better ROI.
Over to You
These are some of the trends that will be shaping e-commerce in 2018 and a guide to making the best of them. The truth is, e-commerce is rapidly developing into a dynamic science, requiring extensive foresight and market expertise. Google’s search algorithms are becoming smarter and better and simply relying on the old techniques is not enough to stand in the race.
With the e-commerce market expected to surpass $2 trillion in the near future, it is important to be proactive and get a head start on making your e-store stand out. This is where these hacks come into the picture. What is your opinion about the strategies we have discussed? Any other hacks you would suggest? Let us know in the comments section below!