If you’re a small business owner who has recently launched an online store, or if you are thinking about entering the eCommerce sector, it is important to arm yourself with as much knowledge about this type of business as possible.
The booming industry is expected to generate at least $490 billion in U.S. sales by 2018, and it certainly doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. The growth is attracting more and more entrepreneurs every year. This means that you’ll have increasing numbers of competitors to deal with, from around the world, not just in America.
As a result, you won’t get far with your venture if you don’t find ways to stand out from the crowd and please consumers with the wares you sell, and the shopping experience you provide. Shoppers are incredibly savvy these days, and won’t settle for sub-par customer service, product offerings, or shipping times.
If you want to create an eCommerce site that grows from strength to strength, one thing that can help you is to stay up-to-date on all the latest consumer preferences in online shopping. Read on for some of the most important eCommerce trends you need to be aware of today.
Various Payment OptionsOne of the most important trends to consider is the global consumer’s preference for multiple payment options upon arrival at the checkout. If online stores provide only one, or limited options, it can certainly affect conversion rates, because most shoppers expect to be able to choose from a variety of payment methods according to their needs and wants on the day.
While you might already be using a merchant services firm to finalize transactions on your site, you may currently limit payment options to debit cards and the basic Visa and MasterCard credit cards. If so, it’s time to expand what you offer, and let customers pay with their American Express and Diners Club cards, plus PayPal transactions, direct checks, BPAY, direct debit plans, over-the-phone transactions, mobile wallets, and even Bitcoin payments.
The more payment types you accept, the more likely it is that customers will find a method that suits them, and that will have them spending money with you sooner rather than later (not to mention returning to shop with you again in the future).
Speedy ShippingIn the last couple of years, shipping has also been a significant factor that consumers look at when deciding whether or not to go ahead with online purchases. While years ago shoppers were content to wait for as long as it took for their goods to arrive (often a week or two, or even longer), today people want to receive their orders very quickly. Most expect to have a parcel at their door within a few days, although overnight and same-day shipping has really grown in popularity of late.
If you run an eCommerce store, it is vital that you examine the shipping options you provide. Rather than simply offering standard shipping, it is best to give customers choices about the type of postage they can pick. You should consider including express shipping, as well as courier deliveries that can ensure overnight or even same-day delivery to local areas. Take a look at Amazon, which is the leader in this field, for further inspiration, as the eCommerce behemoth has really set a precedent when it comes to shipping.
Regular ContentWhile you might think that eCommerce success stems a lot from the type of products you sell and the customer service experience you provide (including shipping, payment options, communication and the like), it’s also important to note that you will enjoy quicker and more impressive growth in your business if you spend time concentrating on the content you post online too.
Take a look at any of the top, fastest-growing digital stores around the world, and you’ll see that the majority of them focus significantly on providing engaging content to their current and potential customers. Storytelling — whether done through words, images, videos, infographics, or the like — helps businesses in a number of ways.
Great content can make your venture to stand out from your competitors, and also helps you to showcase, describe, and sell your wares properly to shoppers so they understand the benefits of each item. Posting regular, interesting content for consumers to digest also increases the likelihood that people will interact with your brand and form an emotional connection with your business and/or its products and services.
To achieve greater success with your eCommerce store, you should look for new ways every week to tell stories online. This should not only be on your website, with fresh content, but also on your social media profiles, through your newsletters and blogs, via e-mails, and even on online advertisements.
Try to make all of your content educational, inspirational and/or motivational, not just sales driven and post updates about various things such as your company, the products you sell, your team, upcoming events you’re running or attending, and your industry in general