The eCommerce industry is constantly evolving, and as an online retailer it's becoming more and more important that you not only evolve with it, but that you also stay ahead of the curve in order to retain existing customers and attract new buyers.
In our recent webinar with Andy Geldman from Web Retailer, we explored the eCommerce trends that will matter most to you in 2016, and shared our top tips and best practices for leveraging these trends and maximising growth this year.
Here, we have compiled the top eCommerce trends you should be aware of.
Increasing number of channels
In 2015, we saw an increase in new marketplaces, notably the emergence of Jet.com.
The Amazon competitor has already made a significant impact in the US eCommerce space, fuelled by $500m in venture funding, and UK retailers should expect to see more of this platform in 2016, as well as marketplaces such as Sears and Etsy.
Globally, we are expecting to see increased demand for new marketplaces, platforms and shopping feeds, with an increasing number of online retailers looking to integrate with niche selling channels outside of Amazon and eBay.
If you're selling on multiple channels - and plan to sell on even more in the future - it's a good idea to consider the benefits a multi-channel inventory and order management system can bring your business.
24/7 Customer service
eCommerce isn't new, and the ability to purchase goods or services online, 24/7, is no longer a luxury, it's an expectation. What is new (and pretty impressive), however, is the fact that more and more online retailers are beginning to offer 24 hour support to their customers.
While we can expect to see the number of large retailers providing this service grow in the next year, you don't need to panic if this isn't financially viable for your business.
Yes, going forward there will be an increased expectation for 24 hour support, but there are alternatives you can consider, such as Reply Manager, which will enable you to set auto responders that informs both your customers and the channel you are selling on, that you are looking into their question or issue.
Same-day delivery has been around for a while now, particularly in cities such as London and New York, but it is a trend that we will see grow significantly in the next year.
With companies such as Argos already offering same day delivery nationally across the UK, it's highly likely that more and more retailers will follow ship, and couriers will invest in developing their infrastructure to be able to offer this as a service to their sellers.
Despite it seeming as though it's not logistically or financially viable for SMB's to offer this to their customers, with the use of Amazon's Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA), even the smallest of companies can leverage same day delivery services.
What's even better is that FBA can be used by other channels, including eBay and your own website, as opposed to just Amazon.
Mobile commerce may not be a new trend, but it is no longer an option as 2016 is set to be the year that smartphone revenue will overtake desktop. What this means is that as an online retailer, you simply cannot afford not to offer your customers a mobile optimised shopping experience. Bear in mind that while marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay will automatically optimise your listings, if you are selling on your own website, you must ensure that your site is mobile optimised.
Higher customer expectations
With the eCommerce industry rapidly growing, customers have more options than ever before, and subsequently higher expectations for faster delivery, better prices and outstanding customer service.
By failing to meet these expectations, you not only risks losing their business, but more importantly you risk them expressing their frustrations with a far wider audience, through the use of social media, review sites and feedback.
eCommerce has gone beyond selling solely on your website and even through a marketplace, and you now have the means to sell directly through your social channels.
As an example, website platforms such as Magento and Shopify now offer plugins to sell through sites such as Facebook, which is expected to become widely adopted in the next 12 months.
Additionally, customers are purchasing from within Etsy on Pinterest, which is another channel you should consider using.