“It’s a jungle out there.” That’s the reality of e-Commerce today. No matter what your industry niche, there are large numbers of competitors trying to capture the same customers as you. This means your website and your outreach to potential customers cannot standstill. You have to stay on top of the latest trends in e-commerce and implement them if you intend to engage potential customers and grow your business.
Here you will find the latest trends that will allow you to stand out in your marketplace and capture more of your target audience.
Consumers are engaged by and attracted to visuals far more than to text. It’s a brain thing. Research shows that we process and remember visuals 60,000X faster and we remember what we see far better than what we read. In today’s market, consumers with short attention spans and pressed for time want to “see,” and videos are the perfect way to provide explainer and how-to information to a customer.
Consider adding product videos on your website pages, even of customers using your product. This does not necessarily replace creative descriptions and photos but will serve to engage your audience more. What’s more, you can run those videos on your social media platforms.
Mobile-Friendly is Not an Option
The use of mobile devices for product/service searches has increased by 80% over the past two years. It only makes sense that e-commerce businesses have to be “available” via mobile. Whether you develop a specific app or simply make your current website responsive, being mobile-friendly is just no longer an option. Get a good developer who can take your site mobile or create an app that you can encourage customers to download and use.
Chatbots and AI
Using chatbots is so commonplace now that consumers think nothing of communicating with a bot as they ask common questions or search for specific products/services on a site. The use of artificial intelligence as related to chatbots is pretty critical, because customers may phrase their questions or issues differently, and a bot embedded with AI means that these different natural language patterns will ultimately be recognized and learned by the bot. It’s all about great consumer experience, and chatbots will contribute to that experience. Welcome your visitors, ask them what they need or are looking for and answer their questions without the need for a live human. If a live human is needed, the query can be directed to an agent.
Chad Moreland, a technology director for the Studyker writing service says this about chatbots: “We were a bit slow to implement this technology. But once we realized that our agents were answering the same questions over and over again, we realized that a chatbot was a better way to go. The big pluses? Our customers get answers quickly and our customer support agents can actually spend their time on more complex customer issues.”
Already a number of eCommerce companies have implemented this technology, and consumers are coming to expect it. Resorts provide virtual tours of their facilities in real-time; eyeglass companies allow consumers to try on frames before going to the facility to have their exams and get new glasses; clothing retailers allow visitors to virtually try on clothing items to “see” how they will look. Consumers can now try furniture pieces and paint colors in their rooms before making purchasing decisions. And even winemakers have labels that can be scanned by a smartphone and give consumers a history of how that particular wine was made and aged.
There are some great tools for implementing augmented reality to achieve an engaging customer experience. It is no longer a hugely expensive technology.
If you have not been living in a cave, you understand the popularity of voice search. Consumers use Alexa, Google, and other home devices, as well as their smartphones, to conduct searches by voice – it’s just so much more convenient than taking the time to type in a search phrase. If you are not optimized for voice search, then you need to do so right away.
The key to good voice search results lies in the keyword phrases you choose to incorporate into all of your content. Searchers are no longer using one or two-word search terms. They are using long-tail keyword phrases. Your job is to research the most popular long-tail phrases that relate to your niche and then to get them into all of your content.
Communicating with Your Customer
We have already covered the value of chatbots, that can answer common questions and resolve common issues. There are other ways to streamline the customer service experience too. Self-service is highly valued by consumers who do not want to spend time on hold waiting, for example, to learn how to return or exchange an item they have purchased. You need to provide this information, along with printable return labels (if you do not include them in your initial packaging), with specific instructions for these activities. The more consumers can engage in a quick process for getting their customer service needs met, the happier they are with your company.
Other conversations with customers can occur on your social media platforms and via discussion threads on your blog. Any means you can use to communicate with your customers at a personal level is an opportunity to build trustful relationships, and these will result in increased sales.
Nothing is more important for customer retention than the attention you pay to them and the ease with which they can access and resolve any problems or issues they have. Customer service is absolutely critical to your business growth.
Developing a Niche Marketplace
More and more, consumers are looking for niche e-commerce sites as opposed to those that offer a large number of products and services in a marketplace environment. That may be fine for Amazon or eBay, but for smaller business owners, trying to cover a large marketplace is difficult indeed. Competing with Amazon is not something that can be done.
As you look at the products/services you are selling, develop a niche market. It might be clothing, interior design products, garden and lawn care supplies, or kitchen tools and implements. You can always expand later, once you have an established customer base. Consider Wayfair, for example. This company began as a furniture niche. Over time, it has graduated to other related products, but only after it had a large trusting customer base.
Narrow your focus and concentrate on great SEO for that. Take a simple example. A consumer is searching for interior recessed lighting. He may be directed to Amazon, of course, because it is a “big boy” in every category. So is Home Depot. But if you can focus on just interior lighting, you will come up in search results. And consumers seem to be more focused on niche marketplaces because looking through products can be a bit easier. Just be certain that if you have categories of interior lighting, you have a search process for that.
Trying to cover lots of unrelated products scatters your marketing efforts, and you may not do anything really well as a result.
Create Your Product Descriptions Well
This cannot be emphasized enough. When you have to use text, it must be amazing if it is to be read. Think about this as you craft the descriptions of your products or services. People will read short, creatively written descriptions, especially those that may involve some humor or inspiration. If you are not a creative writer, find someone who is. There are freelancers at sites such as Freelancer.com, or writing services, such as WriteScout, that have creative writing departments for such copywriting needs.
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