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In an age of integrated social media, e-commerce apps for just about everything and 24/7 online customer service, retailers must continually adapt the way they market and sell their products – or be left behind.
2017 is just around the corner and already looks set be a year of ground-breaking developments, designed to improve the online retail experience both for those with something to sell, and those looking to buy.
As new platforms and tools become available, even smaller retailers will be able to introduce increasingly dynamic features for customer interaction. Advanced e-commerce is becoming more and more cost effective, meaning there’s no reason to be afraid of pushing boundaries.
Here are a few of the trends that we predict will be big news in the coming year.
1. The ChatBot
This is not a completely new concept, but it is one that will be far more prominent and commonplace throughout next year than it has been to date. Research has previously shown that shoppers who use live chat functions online spend between 5% and 30% more than those who don’t, with conversion rates 5 to 10 times higher following a chat session.
While many brands have added chat functions to engage users, those that have started to use chatbots rather than staff are proving that it can be a cheaper and more efficient way of communicating with potential customers around the clock and in real-time. Bots are built to establish user preferences and thus make personalised recommendations, and are proving successful so far in US trials by H&M, Sephora and Victoria’s Secret.
The personalised, interactive browsing experience provided by chatbots is far more engaging to users than waiting on hold to a helpline or killing time waiting for an email response. More importantly, it keeps the attention of users who might otherwise have left your website and shopped elsewhere.
2. Say goodbye to Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Black Friday and Cyber Monday swept across the pond to UK shoppers in 2013 and have inspired frantic sales across Britain each year since. But in both the US and UK, 2017 will see a different change in tactics when it comes to this winter shopping mega-event.
Savvy shoppers will have spotted that this year’s Amazon Black Friday deals didn’t wait until the 25th to get going, but were spread out across the month right from 1st November. Other online retailers followed suit, with department stores like Debenhams kicking off a range of daily online offers far prior to Black Friday itself.
Instead of cramming all promotions into just two days – or even across the weekend in between – more retailers plan to make 2017 the year of Cyber November. Extending the sale period will create a sense of urgency throughout the month, with retailers able to respond to shopping trends that appear, and adjust promotions accordingly.
3. The power of prediction
Already a popular tool, predictive analysis uses consumer data to predict what someone will purchase next. Predictive platforms like AgilOne and Windsor Circle promise to be incredibly lucrative for retailers worldwide, with success stories already showing that being able to pitch the right product to the right person at the right time, by using data on previous purchasing trends, will increase the size of a customer base and can even double conversions.
Retailers will use predictive analysis in the coming years to better understand the habits and preferences of different demographics, enabling them to target potential customers with the products and offers that are most likely to convert.
4. Localising online purchases
One of the main reasons that some shoppers choose to spend their money in store rather than online is the immediacy of the purchase. As soon as you’ve paid for an item, it’s in your hands. For several years now, Amazon have offered same-day delivery to customers who sign up for their Prime service, and the pressure has been increasing for other retailers to do the same.
UberRush is making waves stateside by offering as-and-when delivery from stores of all sizes to impatient consumers, and the current gap in the UK and European market has left room for ideas. Many larger stores are planning and trialling local drop-off points, like IKEA’s pick-up and order showrooms, and an increasing number of e-commerce sites now offer next-day delivery services for a fee.
Those in the know are starting to speculate about the next steps, and it seems that 2017 could be the year that many customers outside of Amazon receive their first same-day deliveries.
5. The unification of commerce
Much in line with the thought process behind out-of-store pick-up points for online orders, the next big step for e-commerce is its true and thorough unification with physical commerce. How many times have you taken your phone out in store to do an online price comparison, or to see if something that’s out of stock in the shop you’re standing in is available on the brand’s website?
The new year is lining up a number of new innovations in commerce unification, which will give a new depth to omnichannel services. Rather than offering services online and in store that operate independently of one another, retailers will have both sides of the coin perfectly connected. Mobile applications are enabling customers and staff to access digital information on the ground – meaning staff can make better recommendations when they have customers in front of them, armed with the same knowledge as an online chatbot.
Cloud-based technology gives retailers the opportunity to operate all arms of their business in real-time, with the potential to see to-the-minute stock updates and organise shipping instantly.
Consumers want convenience; to come out on top in 2017, retailers need to harness e-commerce technology and trends, making their brands as convenient and user-friendly as possible.
For more information on how Ad-Rank can help your brand, contact us today.