TxMQ Staff Contribution

Project Description: E-Commerce Trends

This paper will help you better understand how your consumers are interacting with E-Commerce and what they expect from your company’s website. It will also teach you what your company needs to do to keep up with emerging E-Commerce trends.

E-Commerce Is Exploding

In the past 10 years, e-commerce has taken on a life of it’s own. You may say, “Well, I bought things online 10 years ago, too.” That’s true, you did. But the online purchasing process is now fundamentally more evolved.

Gone are the days when a website purely offered a good or service which was simply directed to a shopping cart upon checkout, paid for and shipped.

In 2012 the best e-commerce sites will have teams of people to assess pertinent data about their consumers. This data will enhance digital marketing efforts, further supporting what has always been an integral component of a company’s overall strategy. The byproduct of the information collected as a result of online shopping creates a truer insight into important consumer behaviors, footprints, demographics and patterns.

How better to approach marketing than by understanding your audience’s needs?

The best E-Commerce platforms, (i.e., IBM® WebSphere Commerce) allow companies to collect information and record customers’ transactions, preferences and shopping habits.

The importance of this is two-fold. Not only can companies focus their online efforts toward better meeting customer expectations, they can also market across mobile and offline channels as well.

If you haven’t focused any energy on your e-commerce system, we suggest that now is the time to do it. Don’t get left behind as your competitors’ forge ahead using the newest technologies and leveraging the consumer awareness they will gain from upgraded systems and integrated analytics.

According to analyst Brian Walker of Forrester Research, Inc., experts believe that half of all retail transactions will either take place online or be inspired by something consumers see on the web.

Emerging trends show that the website is no longer the main e-commerce touch point. Customer interaction will now include mobile phones, tablets, Internet-enabled store checkout systems and more.

Your company needs to be prepared to manage multi-channel selling and fulfillment.

E-Commerce Trends

There’s constant change happening all around you. It’s your job to keep up with it all. Here are some emerging e-commerce trends to keep your eye on as we dive into the second-half of 2014.

Going Mobile

2014 can be one of the biggest breakout years yet in terms of companies going mobile. The demand for mobile developers is on the rise as more companies begin to develop mobile applications for their services.

RECCOMMENDATION: Don’t just build a mobile app. Instead utilize HTML 5 to ensure your customers can view your site no matter what device they’re working with. HTML 5 is dynamic and it creates the opportunity to operate from a single, catch-all platform without worrying about being device-specific.

Simple Navigation

Make sure your customer can easily search your website and find the products they are looking for. People don’t navigate the way they used to, and since time is precious, one click transfers to a shopping cart will be imperative. You don’t want to lose a customer in the hassle and steps of a long transaction.

Cross Channel Experiences

E-Commerce must be accessible in any form your customer wants it. While e-commerce does play a huge role in customer experience, it is complemented by retail, mobile and social experiences as well.

Availability of Digital Goods

Brick-and-mortar companies are hurting. With options such as site-to-store shipping, goods are more readily available to consumers.

In addition, many traditionally brick-and-mortar shops will begin to offer goods online or even bring the e-commerce experience in-store via terminal transactions.

Video Vs. Images

According to Warren Knight of business2community.com, “2012 will be the year of video commerce.” This year we will begin to see video demos showing real users actually using or modeling a product in motion. One click on the featured product will send consumers right to the final purchase destination.

What Do Consumers Really Want?

If you’re running an E-Commerce business, what is it that your customers really want? Discovering what will make them truly happy is half the battle toward building brand awareness and loyalty.

The other half of the battle is fulfillment. Deliver on your promises, as promised and you will have customers returning again and again to purchase your products.

Pricing

Discounts. Discounts. Discounts. Have you noticed the recent trend toward discounting an item or product when a certain number have been purchased?

Customers want to feel like they’re getting a bargain for a quality item. And with the boom of social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter or Pintrest, where consumers can act as a driver of merchant sales by sharing deals with friends, group discounts are easily promoted and taken advantage of.
One Stop Shopping

Give your consumers a quick and easy exit to their shopping cart and purchase completion. Nobody wants to have to fill out forms and go through several steps to complete an order.

Many sites are allowing consumers to check out as guests and providing them the opportunity to register their accounts at a later time. Keep it quick and easy and your customers will continue to return.

Security

Now is a better time than ever to make sure your website is up to date on security issues. With the increase in apps, cloud platforms and social sharing sites, security threats are an every day reality.

Investing in online security is one of the best ways to invest in your company’s future.

Consistency

We touched on this a bit in the fulfillment section above. Consumers should be able to get efficient, consistent customer service. That means orders are shipped on time and the quality of the product is always top notch.

This is what customer loyalty and brand referral is built upon. Once a customer returns to your site to purchase your product more than once, you’ve created loyalty. Now it’s up to you to hold up your end and grow that trust.

What Can Your Company Do?

More and more, companies are utilizing the information they obtain from online transactions to create full-scale marketing campaigns.

Don’t work against yourself. Investing in a flexible, reliable system will allow you to serve customers across all channels, improve the way your company manages its’ products and information and create a deep understanding of your customers’ needs.

The change in your company needs to start at the top. If your company’s CEO isn’t behind the transition, you will struggle. Your entire company needs to see the benefits of the transformation.

Many times, your company will need to adjust the way it operates from the ground up. That may mean re-training your employees, or changing the way you incent them to meet customers’ expectations.

Photo Credit to Espos