It’s been a busy year for the e-commerce industry, and 2019 looks set to carry on at the same rate of growth. For anyone who sells online, this is good news. Consumers are buying online in increasing numbers, and look set to continue doing so.
With estimates that e-commerce growth will amount to almost $4.8 billion in sales by 2021, the race is on to keep online stores relevant.
To have an all-encompassing e-commerce store, though, you need to look towards the latest trends and apply them to your business model. Technologies and trends are always evolving, and e-commerce stores have to learn how to tell the difference between relevant trends and short-lived fads.
Here are the very best e-commerce trends to watch out for, as well as how to implement them.
Most important e-commerce trends
A fad is a short-lived spike in popularity. A trend is something that will last for a lot longer. Knowing about the emerging trends can help your e-commerce store keep one step ahead of competitors. Adopting fads, on the other hand, will quickly make you look outdated.
This guide is going to explain the following trends:
- Targeted Advertising
- Marketing Automation
Trend One: Contextual and Programmatic Advertising
Contextual and programmatic advertising might sound like a lot of technical jargon, but it merely means targeted advertising. Targeted advertising works by directly aiming your advertising and marketing campaigns at a specific audience.
The benefits of this are many:
- Ad buying becomes automated
- It’s incredibly efficient and cost-effective
- It works to increase your website hits
- No chance of human error
Why is targeting such an important factor to think about?
Consider how much you know about your target audience. If you’ve analyzed your data well, you know their age range, interests, online and offline behavior, as well as the online platforms that they spend the most time on.
In the prehistoric days of pre-internet, advertising was a predefined package that you threw out into the world and hoped the right people would see it.
Now, you can aim your adverts directly at the people that you want. No wonder it’s becoming the most talked about e-commerce trend of 2019.
How do implement programmatic advertising?
Look at the platforms that you sell and advertise on. Whether it’s Amazon or Facebook, you will have the option to determine who sees your adverts.
Step One: Identify the specific audience that you want to target (for instance, dog owners in Washington).
Step Two: Work out your budget. It can be a costly option, and depending on the popularity of your search criteria, the costs can get very high very quickly.
Step Three: Boost your data. While relying on your chosen platform is a good foundation, your actual advert itself should contain your research keywords. The more data you have, the better your results are going to be.
Step Four: Get smaller. If you have a wide range of products, it could be that one line could be targeted even further. The smaller you can make your intended audience, the better your ROI is going to be.
Step Five: Choose your Platform. The bigger the audience that a platform has, the more data it has. The more data it has, the more it can target your advert where you need it to go. That’s why Google and Facebook Ads Manager are going to be your priorities. Of course, by choosing smaller platforms, your costs are going to be lower. Look at platforms like Rocket Fuel and LiveRamp for alternatives that may be more cost-effective.
“There are three levers or pillars to the ad business: the message itself, the right audience, the right place. The industry has focused on the audience. But if you don’t have the first two right, you’re wasting your money.”– Scott Knoll, CEO, Integral Ad Science
For the ultimate in ROI, targeted marketing is going to be hard to beat.
Trend Two: Marketing Automation
Automation has been a big buzzword for a few years. Typically, it brings to mind robot arms building cars and robots zipping around Amazon warehouses with parcels.
For marketers who are stuck in their outdated ways, automation usually comes down to scheduling social media posts at the right times and picking the best time of day to plan that email newsletter. However, it goes far deeper than that.
Do it right, and you could be:
- Sending out personalized emails
- Showing relevant products to returning customers
- Highlighting customers who need retargeting
It’s customization that’s the key. Like targeted adverts, it’s all about having the right data. If you take the time to build the right data collection, then you can start reaping the rewards of marketing automation, such as:
1:Lead Generation– You will need those initial leads (through your social media and website analytics), but once you have them you can start to grow. Email marketing has been an important and effective method of reaching out to customers in the past. Now you can boost its potential power.
2: Time-saving – Automation means that you have more time in the day to focus on other marketing strategies. Getting rid of those laborious and repetitive tasks through automation can free up your marketing diary. Look at some of the most popular tools for marketing automation:
- Customer.io – You’ll be paying a monthly rate, but this is a great tool for breaking down and automating your targeted and personalized emails.
- HubSpot – There is a free version of this, but it’s worth paying for the premium service. HubSpot is a wonderful resource that covers content creation, a wide variety of analytics, as well as social media and email marketing automation and data processing.
There are alternatives to these platforms. Make sure that you look through the pros and cons of each, and tailor the tool that you use to the e-commerce store that you run.
“Business marketing has exploded in scope and complexity making it practically impossible for marketers to efficiently and effectively reach target customers without a fully implemented marketing automation system.” – IDC Group
Trend Three: Augmented Reality
Remember how everyone thought that Google Glass was going to change the world? It turns out that nobody was that keen on walking around in public with a camera strapped to their face. However, consumers are very interested in augmented reality (AR) when it comes to shopping.
E-commerce could be where AR makes its first real impact on society, and it’s no surprise that so many big-name companies are integrating AR into their shopping experience.
Brands are investing a lot of money in AR, and the results are proving that it’s worth it. With dwell rates up to eight times longer when AR is included and estimates that there are going to be a billion people using AR by 2020, e-commerce stores and big brands are racing to implement the technology.
Here’s how they’re doing it:
- Ikea – The Swedish furniture outlet has been leading the charge of AR adoption, and consumers love it. The ability to see what products look like when setting up in your own living room or bedroom isn’t just fun, it’s practical as well.
- Dulux – Consumers no longer have to go and find and apply tester paint or one of those color testing sheets. Now, you can hold up your phone and change the color of your walls by just clicking a new option. This is a huge time-saver, and massively reduces the risk of painting your living room the wrong color. This UK based paint company even have their own AR app.
- Converse – While video has been great for the fashion industry, AR is set to become the next big leap. It’s already being used by Converse to let customers try on virtual shoes, and even has a sharing function so that you can share your Converse designs with friends before buying.
“It will change not only the way the consumer experiences a brand but also change their behavior. You’ll start to see a shift in the way people shop for clothes with AR mirrors and AR apps that facilitate shopping for them.”– AR expert Cathy Hackl.
Steps for AR Integration
If you want to start utilizing AR, then you will need to do some research and some planning. The stronger your AR strategy, the more effective it will be.
Step One: A Business Case – Look at your business model and consider AR as a means of solving problems for your audience. Look at the brands that are already using AR effectively, and emulate their ideas if they are relevant to your own business.
Step Two: Know your goals – Are you hoping to keep visitors on your website for longer, or improve your conversion rates? AR can be used for a variety of reasons, but if it is not helping you reach your goals then it is not something that you need.
Step Three: Finding the right tools – There are a growing number of AR-focused companies that supply all you need for AR integration. For basic AR integration, it’s hard to beat Zapworks, which is the ideal introduction to AR for businesses. For realtors and designers, it’s worth looking at Virtual Tour apps, with Matterportbeing the most popular at the moment.
As with all new business tools, you will need to assess your results on a regular basis. The more that you understand where your AR integration is working (and where it is not), the better you’ll be able to fine-tune your use.
There have been other trends emerging for e-commerce stores. The growth of consumer voice search, the adoption of chatbots, and the sudden impact of social commerce are all vital trends worth investigating. However, they are all additional factors that will benefit from a foundation of the three trends discussed here.
Look at your own e-commerce venture and find ways to make use of these trends. Our e-commerce experts at Blackbelt Commerce can go over the details of each and find the most efficient means of integration. If you want to learn more, get in touch today by contacting our team.
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