The last twelve months have seen significant change in the online retail market. The number of people buying online has risen sharply, as has online spending as a percentage of all retail spending. While this growing market provides greater opportunity for online stores, they are having to adapt rapidly to shifts in consumer behaviour and emerging technologies. Here, we’ll look at what the most important trends are for online stores.
1. Personalised shopping
Beyond its speedy delivery and vast range of products, one of the reasons Amazon dominates the eCommerce market is because it delivers highly personalised shopping experiences. With data gathered from browsing histories, wish lists and previous purchases, together with freely given information, such as date of birth, gender and location, they use AI-powered product recommendation engines to create individualised homepages that display highly relevant products. Customers love this experience and reward Amazon for it with increased spending and long-term loyalty.
2. Omnichannel shopping
It is such a popular model with consumers that it has become one of the major trends for eCommerce stores everywhere over the last few years. The difference today, however, is that signed-up shoppers expect every homepage to be personalised when they log in.
To stay competitive and build stronger relationships with customers, online stores need to embrace personalisation, not just in the shopping experiences they offer, but with their communications and marketing too.
With so many different ways to shop available today, customers are expecting stores to make it easy for them to switch seamlessly between one and the other. They may, for example, put a product in the shopping cart on your website, want to check out using your mobile app and then pick it up from a physical store or collection site. Similarly, they may want to communicate via your social media page and then pick up the same conversation later on telephone or online chat.
This is one of the most sought-after customer experiences and companies that offer it benefit enormously from customer loyalty. However, doing it means unifying your inventory, sales and communications systems so that there is a single overview – without this, omnichannel experiences are impossible.
3. Mobile shopping
Smartphones have become the most popular device for browsing the internet and they are being increasingly used to buy online. They account for over 60% of all traffic to online stores and over half of sales. As a result, online retailers are increasingly putting efforts into improving the mobile versions of their websites, helping them to load faster, make finding and viewing products easier and making it simpler to checkout.
Rather than rely on responsive themes, many are developing independent mobile sites that have streamlined content and specially designed layouts that improve the mobile shopping experience.
4. Sustainable shopping
The green revolution is having a major effect on consumers’ choice of who to shop with and which products to buy. According to KMPG, 56% of customers will take a company’s social and environmental credentials into account when choosing a brand, while other research showed that last year, 28% of UK shoppers abandoned a brand because they had concerns about its sustainability.
With climate change and the environment becoming increasingly important subjects that are constantly in the news, expect sustainability to be of growing importance in the marketplace. While regulation pushes companies to make progress, consumer expectancy will pull them, with equal weight, in the same direction. Of course, taking advantage of this in the market means more than just becoming greener – you’ll also need to promote your eco-friendliness to consumers.
5. Trustable shopping
Trust is a critical element of the brand-customer relationship. With the ball firmly in the court of the shopper, brands who want to acquire and retain customers are having to work harder than ever to improve trust.
Trust operates across all strands of an online store’s operations. It begins with delivering on your promises and being upfront, honest and fair when you are unable to keep them – whether that’s delivery times, product quality, customer service or guarantees. Beyond that, it means having transparent (no-hidden extras) pricing, clearly worded and easy to understand terms and conditions, product images and descriptions that are accurate, and genuine product ratings and reviews.
In addition, a trusted company is one that is secure. It uses SSL to encrypt transactions, secures data to protect against data theft, prevents customers’ accounts from being hacked and keeps its website clean so that customers’ devices don’t become infected.
How your web host can help
Meeting the needs and expectations of today’s experience-led shoppers can be challenging. However, underpinning much of it is a reliance on the technology provided by your web host. For example, cloud hosting makes it easier to analyse the data needed for personalisation, while providing the infrastructure required to unify separate systems and deliver omnichannel shopping. Similarly, your host can ensure you have all the resources to improve the loading times of your mobile website and provide a whole range of security tools to protect your systems, data and website. What’s more, at eukhost, we use the latest power-efficient CPUs and SSDs which provide a far more carbon-friendly way to host your website, making your store more sustainable.
For information about our range of eCommerce-friendly hosting solutions, visit our homepage.