Image by: Parker Knight
By Michael Sterling
E-Commerce is ever growing, and in 2014 growth is expected to be higher than it’s ever been. It’s important that we, as business owners, pay attention to this years trends so we can be ready for next years discoveries. Without the knowledge of what your customers are doing in the market, there can be no strategy of growth. It’s time to start thinking ahead for next year’s trends.
#1) Creative Online Promotions
It’s not a secret that consumers decide the future of your business, and right now, the consumers are shopping a lot more via social media. More businesses are creating Facebook pages to promote, sell, and advertise their business than ever before.
The best thing about social media is that it’s free to promote and sell, plus you create wider opportunities to be seen, even if you don’t make a sale. Facebook’s Wish List App is a great way for consumers to create their own lists of products they want to buy. It is shared on their feed and will redirect anyone to your page.
Not to mention, promoting via Facebook can create an incentive for customers. Facebook allows businesses to put out special discounts for potential consumers, which can then be claimed through their email. This can save you buck loads of cash in promotional costs and coupon printing.
The National Retail Federation in the US found that over half of Facebook users have clicked through to a retailer’s website because of a Facebook post, with nearly a quarter having made an actual purchase from their Facebook page. That number has been rising every year.
#2) International Appeal
Thanks to social media, businesses have found easier ways to expand their brand overseas. As the new year comes closer, you should expect the trend to catch on to many more companies. Widening your business to international markets will always bring about solid returns. Going international is not that hard nowadays, but the trick is creating the “appeal.”
One company that has seen success in this venture is TOMS Shoes. Their biggest asset is their promise: with every pair of shoes that’s sold, one pair of shoes will be given to an impoverished child. Having only been established in 2007, already they are worth over $100 million, according to a case study.
TOMS’ Facebook page keeps their customers from around the world connected, and it gives opportunities to share pictures, files, and updates from anywhere on the globe. With the combination of social media, their mission, and a good product, they’ve managed to build a worldwide appeal towards their service.
Here’s a tip: the best way to connect to international markets is by connecting on a human level, beyond the product. Photo contests are always great. If you’re in retail, have people post pics of their favorite outfits. If you’re a cooking business, have them post their favorite meals. Connect with them. When done right, this strategy will build respect, loyalty, and returns.
#3) Increased Personalization
Since the birth of Google search and smart phones, consumers have been gradually getting smarter and smarter – sometimes too smart for business owners to keep up with. The 2014 consumer is expected to be more connected, more vocal, and more demanding than they were in the last two years, which is why we need to up our game in their online experience.
According to Accenture’s Seamless Retail Study, Millennials are 3 times more likely to be influenced by social media and stand a bigger chance at losing interest in a company when they don’t meet their needs the first time. This is a lot of pressure to live up to, but even if you don’t fully meet their needs, an intriguing experience will keep you in the back of their minds.
Here’s a tip: give your consumers a platform. By allowing them to stay connected with your product through forums, video uploads and social interaction, not only will you extend your chance at keeping them on your site longer, but you give them a better reason to come back.
#4) Smart Phone & Tablet Integration
By 2014, the majority of smart phone users will use their phones for browsing, instead of just Facebook, shopping, or video/file sharing. The phone is literally become a handheld computer and the only way to keep up is to join them.
Integration takes more than just a mobile-friendly website. Think about what the phone actually provides their customers: apps, easy travel, I-pod substitute, HQ picture/video, etc. All your online resources can easily be integrated into a mobile-friendly experience by implementing these aspects.
Here’s a tip: create a video or audio podcast that is easily playable on a mobile device. Not only can this increase the chances of more traffic, but it’s a great incentive for customers who like listening to pod casts to listen anywhere, not just at their desk.