Shopping trends, in fact online shopping trends, have changed drastically in the last few years. Where online shopping used to be limited to a few big online stores in the past, there are now hundreds of thousands of stores shipping products all over the world at the click of a button. As customer confidence in online shopping, and online security, grows so does the shopping experience.
What are some main changes in online shopping trends in the last few years? We’ve taken a look at the a few studies and stats from here and there. Here are our insights on changing trends, and how you can optimize the shopping experience for your shoppers using them.
1. Consider mobile shopping
According to an iVentures report, not considering the mobile shopping experience puts retailers at a disadvantage. 91% of the websites reviewed by this study were mobile optimized, meaning that having a mobile version of your ecommerce store is now a must-have. Similarly, apps are important, which means you need to have an iOS and Android app for your store for the optimal shopping experience.
Stores that have both retail outlines and online stores took advantage of their apps to improve the in-store shopping experience, by providing options for mobile payments, coupons and providing information on physical store locations to shoppers.
Don’t have an app? That’s fine, but at least make sure your website is mobile-friendly. It doesn’t take much to make your website responsive, and some plugins will even let you do that for free. Consider investing money and time into the mobile shopping experience, but if you can’t afford that then try to provide shoppers with as mobile-friendly an experience as you can.
2. Personalize the experience
Personalization was the biggest opportunity identified by the research. Using behavioral data to present shoppers with related products they might like is one quick way to boost sales. However, this is just one way to personalize the online shopping experience, and many stores aren’t taking advantage of it.
Only 13 of the 111 sites in the iVentures study personalized the shopping experience base on shopping history or browsing history, and even fewer used personalization in email marketing campaigns or on their mobile apps.
This is one big opportunity for online retailers, as even the big stores aren’t fully capitalizing on it yet. Personalize marketing emails and coupons. Consider what your shoppers are buying, and what this might suggest about their shopping habits. Using retargeting advertisement is one way to get a shopper back to your store after they’ve browsed around a bit.
3. Focus on content
Content marketing isn’t just limited to blog posts. Rightly so, a lot of ecommerce stores struggle with identifying topics they can write about on their blogs, and think they may as well give up on content marketing rather than do a shabby job.
But content marketing isn’t just typing out long posts. It’s visual content as well. And for ecommerce, there’s nothing better. 65% of the websites reviewed by iVentures used photography as a way to communicate with their audience, like a lookbook, 50% offered content like useful tips, and 61% had an online magazine or blog. This is a great way to attract customers by showcasing how products can be best used by them, and providing guidance and advice instead of going for the hard sell.
Explore setting up a blog, and look into visual elements you can include in it. Don’t worry too much about posting every day, instead focus on posting once a week but make the content worth the wait. Highlight how fashion accessories can be styled, how products can be used, and for the holidays specifically consider sharing curated lists of gift-worthy items.
4. Include product videos
iVentures revealed the five common characteristics of most product pages they reviewed; photography, qualitative description, quantitative specifications, product options and social media sharing options. Product videos, however, also appeared quite frequently, with 32% of the websites having videos for at last some product pages.
While shooting product videos for all products may be beyond your capability at the moment, it can’t be ignored that customers want more information about products before they buy. With many customers looking at the same product on 2-3 websites before buying, having a video on your product page may just be the boost you need to push sales.
5. Faster delivery
We live in an Amazon Prime world. Online shoppers want their products fast, much faster than ever before. Most stores now offer one or two day shipping options, with some even offering these for free. Amazon has a one-hour delivery in New York City!
Gone are the days when customers were ok waiting one to two weeks for their products to get to them. Even international customers want to explore the faster delivery options. This is a great trend to get on board with, since pretty soon everyone will be delivering items within 2-3 business days if not faster. Provide the full list of shipping options, including options for international shipping, on your website.
6. Focus on social media marketing
One of the biggest internet marketing tools is social media. When used correctly, social media can help boost sales, but as of now it is still a trend many businesses are just starting to explore.
Platforms like Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram can all help marketing efforts. In fact, according to another study, 75% of e-commerce sales are generated from these platforms.
Consider advertising on these platforms, and sharing product images and videos with your audience regularly to drum up interest. With these platforms now integrating purchase buttons, the potential for pushing sales up by using social media is only going to grow.
Online retailers need to be evolving their marketing strategies all the time since trends change so far. Take advantage of these insights to optimize your online store for 2016, and maximize your store’s potential.
Do you think we missed something? Leave a note in the comment with an online shopping trend we should have included but may have forgotten.
Feature image curtsey of Vic Bell