It's been a big year for online retail, but we're far from reaching perfection just yet. We asked a series of e-commerce experts for the trends they expect to see this year. Are you introducing these to your strategy?
Following the year that stopped the world, online retail is set to continue its upward trajectory and reach new levels of success.
With this in mind, retailers have to stay agile in the event of another unprecedented event and to remain robust for the non-stop consumer behaviour changes coming our way.
1. Create a Full Online Environment
“The big trend I’m seeing in 2021 that all digital retailers need to consider is creating their full online environment. It’s no longer enough to ‘just’ have a website or e-commerce presence. We need to be considering how our online ecosystem comes together,” said Tracy Sheen, an expert in digital marketing and strategy.
What does this entail? According to Sheen:
“- Thinking about your website in terms of speed, mobile responsiveness & user experience
– Considering how it connects and reacts with the social media platforms your audience is hanging out on (Facebook, LinkedIn, Clubhouse? etc)
– How does your SEO strategy fit with your PPC (pay per click) strategy… does it? Do you have a plan for both?
– Other marketing/sales collateral
“It’s time we start thinking about the user journey from all touchpoints,” she explained.
2. A Change in Product Images
It’s no secret that customers want to see product images in far more detail than before. However, in a post-COVID world, the chance of a shopper seeing the items online is far greater than physically in-store. As such, there is a higher need for retailers to provide in-depth and high-quality product images, descriptions and information so the shopper can make an informed decision. but how can retailers take this to the next level?
According to Billie Mcinerney, an SEO Strategist at Concise Digital, there are a couple of ways to expand and enhance product information and keep the customer informed.
“A trend we are implementing in our web projects is the combination of images and videos/GIFs within product pages,” she told Power Retail. “This allows users to see movement in a garment, and what it looks like from multiple angles. We have also used it for activewear where customers want to see things like if tights go see-through during a squat.”
If having videos or GIFs doesn’t align with the product pages on your platform, another way to enhance the product offering for shoppers is by expanding on the existing product descriptions.
“Another beneficial e-commerce strategy is to add extra fields to product reviews,” Mcinerney said. “For example, rather than just leaving a sentence or two on a product, customers are encouraged to add extra details like if the garment is true to size or what size they normally are vs what size they purchased. This allows new customers to be convinced by other customers vs taking the retailers word for it when they claim that a garment runs true to size.”
3. The Year of Loyalty
Power Retail has quickly identified that 2021 is the year of loyalty, and it looks like we’re not alone in this prediction. According to Ralitsa Ivanova, Digital Marketing Expert at ZipCube, increasing or implementing a loyalty program will be one of the hottest trends to expect in 2021.
“Businesses will start working more actively on retaining their existing customers instead of pouring money into campaigns that will attract new clients,” she told Power Retail.
“Membership programmes, newsletters, high-quality customer support, and referral programs are the future of a successful business. Keeping the community engaged will certainly increase the popularity of the company, as well as the word of mouth marketing from their clients.”
4. AI is More than Just Intelligent
We’ve been pushing AI for a long time, but following the expansive growth of digitisation in 2020, businesses have to wake up to the potential that AI has to offer. According to Steve Tan, CEO of Leapvista, marketers need to invest in technology to stay agile and competitive in an increasingly volatile landscape.
“We are now seeing a surge in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in marketing. More and more marketers are using AI to optimize their ads and their email campaigns. For those selling on Facebook and Instagram, using a chatbot is important because it drives conversations forward and moves prospects further along the sales funnel,” he said.
Furthermore, Tan told Power Retail that AI can help benefit shoppers and create an exceptional shopping experience online. “In order to create a great experience for shoppers, digital retailers should provide a frictionless customer experience by allowing your customers to buy your products without leaving the app they’re on,” he explained.
“Explore how your brand can make use of Facebook Shops and Instagram Shoppable posts so you can turn your followers into loyal customers.”
5. Don’t Be Afraid of Online
In news to absolutely no one, online retail has increased dramatically in popularity, and it’s easy to see why. However, even as the world settles into the ‘New Normal’ following the pandemic, it’s not the time to be complacent, especially when it comes to e-commerce.
“Statistics on e-commerce come in many forms, but one trend from each original source is that the world is seeing record-high online e-commerce consumption,” shared Preslav Atanasov, an SEO Specialist at MY POS.
“These changes have largely been driven as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which saw continued lockdowns globally. China, the US, and the UK are dominating in this space, as an increasing number of consumers seek out the safety of shopping from the comfort of their homes.”
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