International sales – newbie or seasoned pro?
While we’re already half way through the year, there’s still time to capitalise on some of the year’s top ecommerce trends, especially with the busiest trading period still to come.
So what are five things all etailers should be looking out for?
While, up until now, most people’s experience with augmented reality has been limited to Pokemon Go or filters on Snapchat, the technology is set to become truly mainstream over the coming year, with most major smartphone companies aggressively pursuing the technology.
But what does the ability to superimpose little creatures into real world situations have to do with online shopping?
Well, many analysts suggest augmented reality is set to revolutionise the way in which consumers are able to visualise products within their home or office before committing to a purchase, by allowing them to overlay the product on a smartphone screen.
This will be especially useful for larger products like furniture, for instance Ikea’s AR app allows customers to see whether a particular sofa would fit in their longue and whether it matches the decor.
Not only might this help drive up sales – with Houzz suggesting the users of its AR app were ‘11 times more likely to purchase’ – but it should also help to cut down on the $260bn worth of returns the ecommerce sector sees each year.
AI development is accelerating at a blistering pace and businesses are already looking at how these advances can be leveraged into making a more customized and streamlined experience for their customers.
Personalising the customer experience through machine learning
Many brands are looking to capitalise on the huge reams of data they hold and how, with the help of machine learning, they can help optimise their marketing down to the individual level.
A basic example of how this may be deployed is using behaviour-based analysis to determine if a customer regularly purchases an item and then emailing them with a corresponding promotion.
AIs may also be used to help compete mundane business processes, freeing up staff to work on more complex tasks or dealing with issues which require the human touch.
While once just an afterthought, mobile responsive sites and apps are increasingly becoming a customer’s first port of call when it comes to shopping online.
The dominance of mobile commerce
And the data speaks for itself, with 65% of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales occurring on mobile devices last year and analysts estimating that up to 40% of all ecommerce revenue will be derived from mobile transactions over the next twelve months.
Mobile is becoming so popular that even brick and mortar businesses are getting in on the action, with Starbucks’ attributing much of its recent sales growth to the popularity of its mobile ordering platform.
An added benefit of focusing on your mobile shopping experience is a reduction in shopping card abandonment, as users storing their card details with apps like Google and Apple Pay can simply authorise payments by scanning their fingerprint or through facial recognition.
Shopping via social media platforms looks set to explode in 2018 as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest evolve to allow users to purchase products directly through the app.
Millions of potential customers log into these apps every day and businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the value of showcasing their products to consumers without them even realizing it.
And with consumers no longer having to fiddle about with swapping between a brand’s Instagram page and their storefront in order to make a purchase, it can help to further streamline the customer journey and bolster impulse purchases.
Another disruptive technology trend likely to shake up online shopping in 2018 centres around how consumers conduct their searches online.
Voice and photo searches to shake up traditional SEO
With the prevalence of voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and new image-based searching apps (some suggest they could make up 50% of all searches by 2020) it looks like traditional SEO could be on the way out.
Optimising your site for spoken keywords is likely to become a major challenge for ecommerce business as most AI’s will only offer the one result for a query, while the ability to place orders by voice, as introduced by Domino’s, could also be crucial in maximising revenue.
At the same time business will also need to be aware that consumers may be searching for a specific product by taking a quick snap of an object, speeding up searches by breaking down the language barrier and boosting the international reach of companies.
From all this it would seem that the overarching trend for 2018 is change, with major technological advances leading to developments in the ways in which consumers interact with online storefronts.
While this is likely to spook many traditional businesses, for those brands able to leverage these new tools effectively the road ahead is filled with opportunity.