Posted on January 4, 2017 | Written by Sarah Lofgren
ECommerce is an evolving marketplace. As online shoppers become savvier and the marketplace becomes even more competitive, it’s important for merchants to understand what their customers will expect as they shop online.
Getting the right advertisements seen by the right people was a major focal point in 2016. Personalization of the browsing experience will only continue to grow this year. Expect to see content, ads, products, and even full websites that engineer themselves to appeal to different viewers.
Users will grow used to having online experiences that adapt to their interests. Customer data will become one of the most important tools available to marketers, allowing them to refine their messages and offerings.
What you can do
Turn on and Track Upsells and Related Products
- Magento and WooCommerce both offer out-of-the box methods for customizing a user’s shopping experience with options for upsells and related products. While these features are built in, merchants must take action to set them up as well as review the data to make adjustments to improve their effectiveness.
Add a Recommendation Engine
A product recommendation engine will add smart product suggestions based on a customer’s viewing history and the purchase history for other customers buying similar products. This feature is not part of standard WooCommerce and Magento stores, but can be integrated to greatly increase a shopper’s customized experience.
In the past, some online stores debated the demand for mobile, finding that many users were just looking on mobile and not actually purchasing any products. However, the number of online shoppers placing orders on mobile devices keeps going up. In 2017, eCommerce merchants will be building better continuous experiences between desktop and mobile.
In addition, mobile web traffic has now surpassed traffic from other sources. Americans now spend 51% percent of their time browsing on mobile, as opposed to the 42% of time spent on desktop. Having a great mobile shopping from start to finish is more important than ever.
What does this mean for 2017? Stores with better mobile experiences are going to get more customers. Watch for creative conversion strategies to emerge targeted at mobile shoppers, including advanced account saving functionality and streamlined checkout processes, as well as new methods of addressing concerns about security and privacy.
What you can do
Get a User Experience (UX) Review of your Mobile Shopping Experience
- During a UX Review, UX professionals (like the ones at coolblueweb) can provide detailed focus on a merchant’s core customer personas, follow the purchasing funnel with real users and provide specific recommendations to improve the overall experience and online conversions.
Chatbots are programmed to engage in conversation with human users, mimicking the experience of interacting with an associate or assistant. Chatbots can act as personal shoppers, booking agents and even customer service representatives. The predictive power of these bots assist store owners in funneling visitors toward specific goals. As shoppers get more comfortable talking with them, expect to see more bots emerge. Many giants are introducing chatbots, including Facebook, Twitter and Google.
The best way to get online shoppers to buy is to show them exactly what they’re looking for and make the process of acquiring it simple. As chatbots grow more sophisticated they’ll become increasingly helpful. Many people think of spammy robots when they hear the word “chatbots”, but new bots will be sophisticated, helping customers instead of impeding or distracting them.
What you can do
Analyze your FAQ’s and Customer Service Portal Data
- It’s important to consider whether chatbots help bridge the gap between customers and their end goals. Review the kinds of questions your customer service team is receiving. If the majority seem repetitive and could be answered programmatically, a chatbot may be a feature to explore in 2017.
Subscription services were extremely profitable for eCommerce sellers in 2016 and profits are expected to increase. Subscriptions offer a business strategy that is convenient for everyone involved. Customers don’t have to remember to reorder items they use frequently and retailers get to enjoy a source of recurring income.
Merchants can expect increasing options for personalization within subscription models, as opposed to one-size-fits-all solutions. More stores will offer subscription services and customers will have more control over their experiences.
What you can do
Create a Highly-Targeted Subscription Strategy
- Successful subscription services don’t offer every single product available. Make sure your offering is specific and both wanted and needed by your customers.
Focus on Retention
Merchants offering subscription services need to do more than convert new customers. Retention is equally important, which means finding ways to maintain a high standard of quality for the product and services being offered. Research also demonstrates that millennials are most open to signing up for subscription services, so make sure you’re clear on what this demographic looks for.
Everyone has noticed that shipping times are getting much quicker. Many sites offer same-day shipping and some are even offering one-hour shipping. Innovations within this realm are expected to continue and options will expand within more cities.
Quick shipping options gives retailers an edge when selling to customers who are often busy and overcommitted. Expect a shift in customer attitudes and expectations as they get comfortable with shipping times that benefit them. However, customers don’t always want to pay exorbitant fees for expedited services, which will push retailers to find creative solutions to get items into hands quickly and cheaply.
What you can do
Update your Return Policies
- Forgiving return policies and simple return processes encourage visitors to take more risks when shopping online. Complimentary return shipping is also highly valued by customers. Even though you might see more items coming back, sales grow when no-questions-asked policies are implemented.
Improve Fulfillment Efficiency
In order to offer faster shipping and returns, the process for fulfilling orders should be as automatic and effortless as possible. If your store is still using manual shipping processes, identify areas to create a more automatic flow.