The last decade saw some major changes in the ecommerce landscape. From expanded delivery services to purchases via apps to social checkout, online retailing is constantly changing to meet the growing demands of consumers and we are likely to see further changes in the coming year.
2015 is almost gone and marketers are preparing for a new year, along with a new set of challenges. Here are 4 online retail predictions to help you get ready for 2016!
1. Ecommerce Sales Will Increase
2015 saw a record rise in online shopping and experts predict that it will increase by up to 45 percent in 2016, reaching a total of $327 billion in revenue. Forester also predicts that ecommerce will account for almost 9 percent of total retail sales in 2016. It is expected that over 192 million shoppers will favor buying from online shops and that the average amount spent per shopper will increase as well, reaching approximately $1,738 per shopper.
This rapid increase in ecommerce sales is due to variety of reasons. Improvements in technology have resulted in a more seamless shopping experience, more targeted marketing campaigns and improved engagement thanks to social media platforms.
So what does it mean for your ecommerce store?
Your ecommerce site needs to be able to compete with and outshine your rivals. You will need to embrace mobile shoppers and get to know your customers better in order to engage with them in their favorite social media hangouts.
It’s vital that you plan for success: your website, fulfillment and customer service procedures should be reviewed and optimized to handle any sudden increase in volume of sales. If you want your business to grow to meet demand it is vital that you are ready to scale.
2. Fourth Quarter Will Win the Race, Yet Again
Those last few months of the year represent the holiday season – the busiest time for the ecommerce and brick-and-mortar stores alike, making up roughly 19% of the year’s turnover.
Power shopping days like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Thanksgiving Day are critical contributors to most retailers’ annual revenue. If you are taking time off on those days make sure that your website and marketing campaigns are still running overtime to bring in the sales.
2014 saw online retail increase it’s share of holiday sales by 15%, and as options increase, more and more shoppers are choosing to buy from the comfort of their living room instead of hopping from one shop to battle crowded stores, chilly weather and stressful parking lots.
How can you use this trend to your advantage?
Get ready for the holiday season well in advance. Keep an eye on trends throughout the year that could help you to predict demand for specific products, and stock accordingly.
Start planning promotions early! 70 percent of online shoppers who buy during the holiday season do so mainly because of special prices and promotions. To take advantage of this buying behavior of online shoppers you need to extend your special deals and offers beyond the holidays. Get early bird offers in before your competitors, and don’t forget to extend special post-holiday promotions to your customers.
The marketplace is flooded with deals at holiday time, so yours need to stand out and be effective. Last minute price slashes and gimmicks won’t yield as many results as a well-planned promotional strategy.
Include personalized content tailored to your buyer profiles, and be sure to capitalize on your audience across multiple platforms, from your website to email to social.
Short, “surprise” promotions are often effective at getting people’s attention, and can be used to drive the growth of your mailing list and social media following. No one wants to miss a bargain!
Also, bear in mind that there is likely to be a surge of heavy traffic to your website during the holiday period. Your ecommerce website should be ready to deal with this increase. A crash during the busiest time of year is the last thing you want.
3. The Growth of Customer Rewards
The value of loyalty programs has experienced a steady rise since 2010 and many leading brands are leveraging it to improve their sales and conversion rates. Starbucks, for example, indicates that their loyalty program was one of the key reasons for “its record second-quarter fiscal results” in 2014, when the company saw a 26 percent boost in their profit and another 11 percent rise in their total revenue.
Best Buy too modified their loyalty program early last year in order to compete with other leading ecommerce brands like eBay and Amazon. This strategy helped the brand to spur sales by simply incentivizing their customers’ incremental spend.
What it means for you?
For an online retailer, nothing is more valuable than your customers’ loyalty. Customer reward, or loyalty, schemes are a win-win. They offer customers a sense of getting a greater deal while being powerful in their flexibility for the retailer – choose to offer exclusive deals, regular promotions such as free gifts with purchase, tiered discounts to reward bigger spenders, or earned bonuses that can be unlocked after a certain number of purchases.
In addition, loyalty schemes also help you build brand awareness. Members are more open to marketing communication, and develop a stronger affinity for your brand.
4. Mobile on Rise
According to a 2014 eMarketers study, mobile market penetration will increase to almost 70 percent between by 2017. In 2014 the number of people accessing the internet via a mobile device was over 900 million.
This fast-paced trajectory of smartphone adoption along with the increased speed and reliability of 3G and 4G networks means that consumers are increasingly likely to carry out online shopping via their mobile device instead of a desktop or laptop.
How can ecommerce retailers prepare?
Online retailers need to acknowledge the significance of mobile, if they haven’t already. 2016 is likely to be the last call for ecommerce brands who are yet to incorporate mobile strategy for generating sales. Google knows it, and it’s algorithm update to rank based on mobile friendliness of a site was only the first in a series of anticipated moves to deliver improved search engine results to mobile user. Making sure your mobile site is slick, fast and intuitive is not only about great customer experience and sales conversions, it is part of a good SEO strategy.
Heed these ecommerce predictions for 2016 to help you prepare a sound marketing strategy that allows you to keep up with the latest online retail trends and future proof your business revenue.
Author Bio: Over the last 8 years Ian has founded two companies and helped thousands of business owners start theirs. He is the Managing Director of Magicdust – a Sydney web design company that has created over 7000 websites for small businesses since 2006. They also specialize in SEO and in 2011 was ranked the 76th fastest growing business in Australia.