The clock is winding down on one of the most memorable years ever experienced in retail. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, retailers were forced to make big decisions and swift changes to their annual planning to meet their year-end revenue goals. For most, that meant promoting their ecommerce platforms to make up for the sudden drop in sales at their brick-and-mortar stores.
This unforeseen turn of events worked for those retailers who were ready, with an integrated infrastructure that connected both their sales channels—their point of sale system and ecommerce platform—with their warehouse. They were armed with the ability to quickly switch their marketing focus to their ecommerce business, without upsetting the fulfillment process and disappointing their customers. In fact, this boom to ecommerce business is expected to outpace traditional brick and mortar stores during the holiday season by up to 35%, or $182B – $196B!
How customer satisfaction translates to online retailing
With more purchases than ever before occurring online, consumers have become comfortable shopping, performing transactions, and scheduling shipments to homes and businesses both near and far. It has also forced shoppers to create individual infrastructures for continued online shopping activity, even after the current health mandates conclude.
Looking ahead to 2021, experts agree that this change in shopping habits, to a large extent, is here to stay. While streetside stores will see foot traffic return post pandemic, their online stores will continue to see a higher volume of sales than they did pre-COVID. We’ve put together ten shopping trends and five tips to help you stay ahead of the game in 2021 and beyond.
Trends in Online Retailing
Your 2021 ecommerce online retailing strategies should focus on the customer experience, including customer service that offers the same level of attention they expect at their favorite neighborhood location. While it will be presented differently through an ecommerce platform, this high level of customer service can be achieved online.
“Your 2021 online retailing strategies should focus on the customer experience, including customer service that offers the same level of attention they expect at their favorite neighborhood location.”
1. Mobile shopping
Access to ecommerce platforms is now available through mobile phones and wearable technology. Online retailers who incorporate the technology to easily interact with consumers through those devices, such as through voice search capabilities, will open the door to more sales that can occur anywhere, anytime.
2. Augmented reality technology
When a product is presented online, rather than in person at a store, a certain level of trust must be achieved. Providing them with a virtual imagining feature through augmented reality technology will bring the product into their home virtually. This has already proven successful with home décor retailers.
3. Chatbots for customer engagement
Part of the success of brick-and-mortar stores comes from the focused attention that is given to each customer. Shoppers want that same authentic, personal experience available to them when shopping online. It is the foundation of the relationship consumers have with the business and the start of brand loyalty. Adding a chat box to your ecommerce site can give them the attention they deserve. Consumers can get advice, ask questions, and provide their thoughts to a knowledgeable, attentive person right when visiting your online store.
4. More options for shoppers
Changing shopping habits requires more options for shoppers. This includes offering more payment options and multiple ways to order and receive packages. A “buy online, pick up in store” (BOPUS) option makes it easy for shoppers to receive their products without adding the additional shipping charges they would otherwise incur. Having a customized integration tool, like Retail Dimensions’ RD-Ice connects your business, simplifying the fulfillment process and making the BOPUS option an easy to manage process.
5. Subscription services gain importance
Making the lives of your customers easier by offering subscription services that can be purchased once, then delivered regularly every month is a win for both you and the consumer. Through just one transaction, you have processed twelve sales for the year. And, buyers can be confident that the products they use will be on their doorstep or in their mailbox when they need them.
6. Search engine marketing strategies
Top retailers like Walmart and Amazon have all but abandoned search engine marketing. This led to historically low cost per click rates and provided a rapidly increasing search volume for those retailers who continued their search engine marketing efforts. Take advantage of this with more ads and watch for an uptick in visits to your online store.
7. More information on shoppers
One benefit gained through online retailing is the ability to gather more information about your typical customer. This can be done as groups through statistical data, or individually through the information collected when customers open online accounts. Find out where your items are being sold, how often a customer is purchasing a product, and more with only a few clicks of the keyboard.
8. Marketing strategies
Go where the consumer is with online marketing that is dynamic and engaging. Explainer videos are a great help to consumers and bring them “into” your online store when they are on search engines looking for answers related to the products you sell. These videos can be used as marketing on your website, ecommerce platform, and social media pages, as well as sent to the customer directly through email.
1. Free shipping offers
Ecommerce shoppers have come to expect free shipping mainly due to that benefit being offered through Amazon Prime. A similar policy from your online store will keep you competitive and can sometimes be the tipping point on a customer’s decision to spend their money at your store versus your competitor’s.
2. Resist offering discounts
Offering discounts might seem like a sound marketing strategy for attracting new customers, however, it often only attracts bargain hunters who chase after sales, rather than look for a good price on a new product they want to try before paying full price. A better alternative is to develop a buy one, get one offer or offer unique packages that will provide added value without compromising your pricing model.
3. Flexibility wins the day
Create a marketing strategy that can be swiftly adjusted to increase sales, drive website traffic, and collect relevant customer data. Watch the trends within the data and respond to them with tactics that increase your chances of reaching your goals.
4. Explore other search engines
In this Google dominated world, opportunities on other search engines can be a big missed opportunity. Stay flexible and explore new options, like Bing, Chrome, and Firefox, to name a few. They are often underused and offer better conversion rates than Google.
5. Be aggressive
Capture market share early, with prompt customer engagement, incentives that motivate, and an active presence on social media and search engines. The data that comes through your point of sale system and your ecommerce platform can guide you when you have an effective integration tool that is customized to connect your entire business.
Make 2021 the year of online retailing!
Take your business into the stratosphere next year by capitalizing on these eight ecommerce trends and five tips. Incorporating a customized integration tool that connects your sales channels with your warehouse will empower you with the oversight to spot opportunities early and head off potential problems before they become issues.