With the busy holiday season long gone, what does 2015 have in store for eCommerce? With online consumers set to spend an eye-watering $1.7 trillion online, retailers around the world have been putting their strategy-hats on in preparation for a busy year ahead.
With advancing technology and changing consumer tastes, the marketplace could look very different in twelve months’ time. And, in the fast-paced world of eCommerce, staying on top of the latest trends is a must – those that don’t risk becoming obsolete.
Today, I want to take a look at five eCommerce trends we should expect to see in 2015.
Mobile commerce is nothing new, with most reputable eCommerce stores also offering a mobile-friendly version of their website. Despite this, mobile sales have lagged behind desktop sales considerably.
However, 2015 should be the year when mobile sales really start to take off.
This is because the mobile market is reaching maturity, and online consumers are starting to feel comfortable enough to make purchases from their mobile devices.
Then there’s the trends in the phones themselves: after years of making phones smaller, manufacturers have done a complete 180 and started making the screens larger.
Shopping on a tiny screen is fiddly and difficult, so online shoppers have preferred to use a desktop computer. However, with phones like the iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy featuring larger screens, online shopping is less problematic than it used to be – this has seen conversion rates on the bigger-screened phones increase noticeably.
Traditional brick-and-mortar stores have always had one significant advantage over eCommerce stores: instant delivery. When you go to your local shopping centre you can pick an item off the shelf, pay, and then walk out with it. It’s instant, and you can begin using that product immediately.
Of course, when shopping online you have to wait a few days for delivery. Shoppers are prepared to accept that wait, though, because online shopping offers a more convenient shopping experience and the lure of competitive online prices.
However, 2015 will see a growing demand for speedy delivery, whether that be a premium next day delivery service, or in-store collections. It seems online consumers will no longer accept the inconvenience of having to wait for their products to arrive.
And, with fulfilment services popping up all over the globe, eCommerce stores are better positioned than ever to be able to deliver on delivery.
But it’s not just the speed of delivery that online shoppers demand: they also want it to be cheap – or better still, free – and for eCommerce stores to offer free returns.
Strong Emphasis on Customer Experience
With so many price comparison websites out there, you could be excused for thinking that online shoppers’ main concern is finding a good bargain.
While consumers will always be price sensitive, they are becoming more and more concerned with a great customer experience – and are prepared to pay a premium for it.
This gives an opportunity for eCommerce stores to differentiate themselves from the crowd through something other than price. Whether it’s an exceptional customer service team, a fantastic product range, or some other unique proposition, those stores that are able to really wow their customers will have a great year in 2015.
Take, for example, the Finch Goods men’s fashion and lifestyle store. Their products are delivered in unique, stylish black coffee bags filled with crinkle paper. It’s hardly life changing, but it certainly beats a plain, boring Amazon box.
It’s the small touches like this that really satisfy your customers and keep them coming back.
Gone are the days where you could throw together a product page in two minutes and expect that product to sell.
Online consumers want to know exactly what it is they’re buying, and the more information you can provide, the more likely they are to buy from you. This means images, detailed sales descriptions, and even sales videos are a must.
2015 could also be the year for live sales support, with large eCommerce stores providing a live chat function for customers to ask their last minute questions and get an instant response – this will make the online experience more like a brick-and-mortar one, with a sales assistant on-hand to help out at a moment’s notice.
Reading reviews left by other customers is an important part of the buying process these days, so all eCommerce stores should be displaying reviews to complement their sales material, too.
One of the biggest challenges facing online stores is turning a one-off sale into a loyal, repeat customer.
Sure, a great customer experience will encourage a shopper to return, but there’s no guarantee they actually will. In uncertain times, eCommerce stores will look for the comfort of a guaranteed revenue stream, and they will do this via subscription services.
This strategy has been around for a while now, with the products sold by some stores naturally lending themselves to a weekly/monthly delivery service – for example, groceries and toiletries.
However, expect to see a big push from stores in other industries, with marketing teams coming up with creative solutions to encourage customers to sign up for a subscription service, and part with their cash on a monthly basis.
A great example of this is a sock and underwear subscription model for men, seen in the UK at least. Most men buy multiple pairs in one go, however underwear subscription services will send you one new pair every month. It’s not how most of us shop, but it’s an innovative idea that has drawn enough people in to make a subscription model viable.
Of course, I don’t have a crystal ball and I have no idea how accurate these predictions will be when looking back at the end of the year – however, looking at consumer behavior over the last twelve months, it does seem that a move in these directions is likely.
The eCommerce industry moves quickly, so it’s well worth staying on top of the latest trends as they develop. This will enable you to deliver the experience consumers want – what they expect in six months’ time could be completely different to what they expect today.
We’ll do our best to keep you up to date with the latest eCommerce trends as they break, so keep checking back!
What do you expect 2015 will hold for eCommerce? Let us know in the comments section below!
Shaun Quarton is a freelance blogger from the UK, with a passion for online entrepreneurship, content marketing, and all things WordPress.