Ecommerce business owners know that ecommerce as a whole is booming, as services continue to improve and more customers get used to ordering things online. Digital Commerce 360 recently reported that ecommerce “will account for 17.0% of retail sales by 2022, up from a projected 12.9% in 2017.”
Such a growing market means that ecommerce is constantly changing, and business owners have to stay on top of the latest trends and know how to adjust. This includes factors such as technology as well as how businesses and customers are changing their spending habits. Instead of reacting to changing tides, look to be proactive by preparing for these three particularly important traits.
- The Fall of Black Friday and the Rise of Cyber November
A major trend in retail sales has been the slow decline of Black Friday as customers prefer shopping online to dealing with the hordes of crazed shoppers. As Reuters reported last year, Black Friday and Thanksgiving net sales in 2016 at brick and mortar stores “fell 5.0 percent over the two days, while the number of transactions fell 7.9 percent.” Meanwhile, online sales rose by double digits, and Cyber Monday has become about as important as Black Friday.
But a major key behind Black Friday’s decline is that businesses have begun offering discounts earlier in November, with major retailers like Amazon showcasing deals for the entire month. Instead of focusing everything on one insane weekend, retailers are spreading out discounts for longer. This approach is superior for online businesses, as the longer timeframe allows more time to handle logistical matters and reduces the risk of running out of inventory.
So what does this mean for ecommerce owners? First, owners should seek to emulate Amazon and start posting discounts not just for the Black Friday weekend, but for much of November. Second, they must ensure that their internal logistics are in working order and that customers can actually get what they want. As Cyber November becomes a reality and ecommerce businesses offer more discounts, the real challenge will be offering the best convenience and customer service as opposed to merely the lowest price.
If your business wants to provide convenience, then you must emphasize mobile shopping. In response to the growing popularity of mobile at the expense of notebooks, businesses have adapted by making their websites more mobile design friendly.
But businesses which are truly committed to mobile have to do more than that. The two most important things to help mobile traffic and dollars to your site, apart from using a service such as YEAH! Local, are setting up a mobile payment system and personalization.
In the best case scenario, your business has the funds needed to set up a custom mobile payment app which will allow users to buy from your business exclusively. Otherwise, businesses should look at integrating their business wallet with Apple Pay or Android Pay which will allow users to make purchases with their smartphones. They can now just tap and buy instead of wasting time typing in their credit card information, address, and other information which delays them from making a purchase and gives them more time to change their minds.
Furthermore, if your business can create a custom app, it becomes easier to personalize and add discounts which appeal to their tastes. Artificial intelligence could become valuable for its ability to analyze where an app user is and what pages they looked at the longest. They can then send relevant discounts and information with the data they have gathered.
But even a basic custom app which ensures that customers can easily pay with their phones will go a long way towards capturing mobile customers, a market which is constantly growing in importance.
3. The Amazon Gorilla
Any ecommerce business has to figure out how to survive in the face of Amazon. According to Fortune, Amazon will account for 50 percent of all U.S. ecommerce by 2021 as it continues to grow and expand everywhere. Given Amazon’s reach, ecommerce businesses cannot just hope to easily find a niche where they do not have to compete with the titan.
Ecommerce businesses which want to survive and compete with Amazon need strong innovation and creative, useful marketing. Content marketing through social media, while not a new phenomenon, can create a loyal customer base by giving them interesting and useful information. And while no other ecommerce business can compete with Amazon on scale, a heavy focus on logistics can help ensure that delivery is on time, orders can be filled, and customers will remain satisfied without having to head to Amazon. At minimum, ecommerce businesses should pay constant attention to what Amazon is doing and what markets it looks to be expanding into next. But no matter how large or small your business is, any marketing strategy must talk about what your online stores do well and better than that hulking gorilla.