The path to purchase is no longer as linear as it used to be. Shoppers are now more informed than ever, and research purchases heavily online.
Modern shoppers are more connected than ever before, and brands need to adopt new technologies and trends to stay ahead of competitors, and improve customer satisfaction. This means providing a seamless shopping experience across on and offline channels, that provides personalised experiences that suits your customer.
So how can ecommerce businesses be sure to b provide the best possible shopping experience for customers for Christmas in 2017, and beyond into 2018?
More shoppers do research before buying in-store. Salesforce put this figure at 79%, and 85% of consumers research merchandise before purchasing online.
This highlights just how important online content is, and providing unique product descriptions and demos are.
But it also means that prices must be competitive, as if people are researching specific products, they’re also going to be researching price, and who to buy from. So having a unique reason for someone to buy from you is important.
Before buying online, the most used channels were deemed to be:
- Website – 74%
- Email – 43%
- Social media – 38%
- Mobile apps (retailer) – 36%
This shows just how much the research channels have changed. But it also proves that websites play a pivotal role in providing a place for customers to research potential purchases.
Voice assistants have become more popular than ever. If anyone has a relatively up-to-date smartphone, it’s likely it features a voice assistant of some kind.
More and more people are also adopting standalone voice-activated speakers, such as the Amazon Echo, to make purchases on a daily basis.
According to Salesforce, 40% of millennials have used voice assistants, such as Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri, before making a purchase.
Voice-activated searches also means your site will need to be optimised for voice search. This means your SEO tactics should change from “typed” searches. If you were to ask a voice assistant a query, rather than type it out, it’s almost certainly going to be a different sentence, and much more casual. Long-tail keywords will play a big part of this.
Messenger app ecommerce
One-to-one communication is also on the rise. More businesses are sending information, content or offers via WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or other apps.
Similarly to email, it gives you the unique opportunity to get your message in front of a customer. But while emails will often get clicked quickly, or a quick glance at a subject line, messages that come through messenger apps are often treated with more regard.
A customer who signs up for such a service will most likely be more engaged with your brand. In addition, fewer brands will be messaging them in this way, so it is more of a unique moment in time.
While many ecommerce stores use on-site live chats, messenger apps such as Facebook Messenger or Twitter’s apps are already important customer service tools. If you aren’t already monitoring these, or have a way to deal with queries in these ways, then consider your strategy going forwards.
In a similar fashion to the messaging apps, chatbots are quickly becoming the future of dealing with customer queries.
By being transparent about using a bot, and not pretending to be human, it can be beneficial for customers, too.
They will get answers straightaway, if it can be dealt with, and it also keeps the conversation relevant and straightforward.
Personalisation for Ecommerce
Personalised ecommerce experiences are now becoming more frequent, and many customers are now coming to expect some form of personalisation. Now that Alexa and allows you to ask questions and get immediate feedback, AI will help more ways for ecommerce brands to reach shoppers with targeted messages.
Over a third of millennials said the ability to search merchandise in an online or physical store using an image, and receiving recommendations, would be helpful.
For instance, millennials are far more likely to appreciate personalisation or automation. Retailers who use AI or automation of some form to reach desired shoppers with smart marketing messaging are more likely to succeed with particular audiences.
As we come into the Christmas period, more brands will be making the most of these ecommerce trends and technologies in 2018.
A connected shopping experience is becoming less of a “nice-to-have” feature, but is rather expected by the modern shopper. Whether it’s as simple as click-and-collect, or an AI chatbot helping to answer product queries, ecommerce is developing rapidly, and brands have to adapt to stay competitive online.