The year is in its last leg, and man, has time flown by. You may not have noticed the changes immediately, but ecommerce has been evolving little by little, and this year is certainly no exception. Online shopping sites, from small shops to big retail stores, have been shapeshifting and offering up simpler, more personable, and more streamlined experiences for shoppers, giving each customer a journey uniquely his or her own. Let’s take a look back at some of the top ecommerce trends of 2015.
Targeted personalization is a little like having a personal shopper at a department store pick out items for a customer based on his or her own personal tastes and preferences, except instead of a salesperson pitching to the shopper in a crowded store, an interface is guiding them right from their phone, tablet, or computer, helping them navigate through all the stuff they don’t want and making it easier for them to find the stuff they do want, faster.
Personalized, dynamic content helps make this happen. Sites can now greet customers with personalized messages (eg. “Greetings!” vs. “Welcome back! vs. “Long time no see!”), suggest product recommendations, and provide custom offers, like discounts, depending on the profile of each customer. You can even filter out products that your visitors might not be interested in. Personalization gets richer the more your customer interacts with your shop, similar to a regular at a local bar, so be sure to take notice of your relationships and cater to your customer’s experiences.
Geo-targeting delivers dynamic, localized content to visitors depending on the location of their IP address. Not every online retailer takes advantage of geo-targeting, but it’s on the rise, and increasingly, online retailers are beginning to tailor their product offerings to fit their customers’ regional profiles.
Imagine highlighting a tank top as a featured item for users living in sunny California, where it’s a warm 90 degrees, while those living in New York, where it’s a temperate 60 degrees, are shown a sweater instead. Pretty neat, right? And now that microclimates are becoming markedly more prominent in major regions around the country, it’s a great way to reach people on a really granular level.
Aside from climate, geo-targeting can be used to personalize and engage your audience through any location-based factor. Language preferences, currency, pricing, the type of product offerings, the visuals that accompany those offerings--these are all modifiable variables that you can futz with to personalize the online shopping experiences of a variety of customers, all with different needs and interests, from all over the globe.
The smartest way to glean insight into what’s meaningful and important to your customers is through customer behavior data. Through browsing patterns, such as customer login frequency or the time he or she is most likely to make a purchase, you can take a lot of the guesswork out of how to structure your online shop and market your products. Resource-wise, real-time order tracking can also be a lifesaver when you’re taking stock of your inventory. Gone are the days of making business decisions based on hunches. Now you can turn data into actionable insights!
It’s a bit of a truism now, but yes, content is still king. In a climate where savvy consumers can smell a hard sell from a mile away, genuine value and personality reign supreme, and that’s what you should use content marketing to demonstrate. Providing useful content for your customers raises brand awareness, helps build and engage an audience, and most importantly, it informs your users (and in turn, their customers) on topics that interest and delight. So get to it! Share your insights on social media, start your own magazine, send email newsletters, or record a podcast. Report on trends, keep your followers up to speed, and don’t be afraid to voice your personality.
Free Shipping + Returns
Free shipping and returns are becoming more and more standard in the competitive ecommerce landscape. It’s what customers now expect, and it’ll certainly give you a leg up from competitors who don’t have the offering built into their order process already. This trend is here to stay.
If you’re looking to mix things up, ecommerce solutions now make it easier and easier to throw spur-of-the-moment sales. Flash sales create a sense of urgency in your customers so that they are more compelled to make a purchase. They’re super useful if you’re ever looking to make room in your inventory, acquire new customers, or reward loyal customers that have been following your store.
The online shopping experience is growing more dynamic, interactive, and sensitive to the customer experience, and that’s great news for both vendor and shopper alike. While none of these trends are necessarily new to this year, they continue to evolve and show lasting strength for driving conversions and engagement. In the coming weeks, we’ll be taking a deeper dive into each of these trends. We’ll showcase sites that are using these trends effectively, and demonstrate how to try out these trends yourself using Reaction.