iZest

eCommerce Trends 2019

Creating the ultimate online shopping experience requires every retailer to implement the latest trends in eCommerce technologies in a logical way. We decided to highlight some of these in one piece so you can explore how these trends and technologies can enhance the online shopping experiences of your eCommerce store.

Overview:

As B2C and B2B eCommerce sectors accelerate in growth, CEO’s and Senior eCommerce retail management teams are constantly faced with reviewing their customer journey’s to analyse if they are aligned with company sales targets. Whether looking at your retail operations or eCommerce marketing strategy one element will be common and top of the list: ‘the customer experience’. 

Operating in both online and offline retail has never been more complex. With changes in consumer buying behaviour, the availability of new purchasing technologies and the need for more data collection (consumer and marketplace), the online purchase journey has become more convoluted.

Creating the ultimate online shopping experience requires every retailer to implement the latest eCommerce technologies in the most simplistic way. We decided it would be a good idea to highlight some of these in one piece so you can explore how these technologies and trends can enhance the online shopping experiences for your customers.

We broke them down into the following 6 areas.

  • Creating the Omni-channel experience
  • Dedicate more Personalisation to the customer experience
  • Applying the use of AI and Virtual assistants
  • Add Interactive Product Proofing to your content strategy
  • Enhance your customers retail experiences
  • Review your Digital Strategy touch points

1. Creating the Omni-channel Experience

It’s nothing new to ‘brick and mortar’ retailers that atmospherics and other retail marketing tactics be implemented at every possible touch point within the in-store experience. However, the challenge has always and will continue to be replicating that intuitive in-store experience online. Known as “Omni Channel” retailing this strategy is not to be mistaken with ‘multi-channel’ where a retailer has both a physical store and eCommerce platform that operate separately. Omni channel retailing is dedicated to providing a seamless shopping experience for the customer no matter whether they buy online or in-store.

Key Differences in Omni Channel compared with Single and Multi-Channel experiences

Mini Channel retailing vs Multi Channel -eCommerce Trends 2019

Img src:https://datafloq.com/read/three-steps-overlooking-road-omni-channel/848

The main advantage in adapting this type of strategy is that it won’t silo either of your selling platforms (Physical Store or eCommerce site). It’s architecture allows for both systems to work together and provide real-time data (for example eCommerce stock merged with Physical store and in-store POS system). Omni-channel retailing is made up of individual touch points along the customer journey (mainly with the use of digital technologies) that seamlessly connect allowing customers to pick up where they left off on one channel or device and continue on another.

Omni Channel Retail Model Elements

    • Buy Online or Pick up in-store/click and collect
    • Flexible payment gateways – Use of Debit,Credit, Prepaid Debit cards, Mobile & Contactless Apps
    • Consistent multi-channel pricing – online same as offline price points
    • In-store POS system and eCommerce system linked so stock inventory value is accurate and in real time
    • Search online for a product in-store – using ‘store locator’ & ’in-store availability’ functionality
    • Multi-Channel Loyalty points redemption programme
    • Multi-channel customer service – in-store, by telephone, Live chat and out of hours chatbots & virtual assistants
    • Shipping Trackers – email automation notification  
    • Cross channel returns policy – offering flexibility and reassurance to buyers

 

Applying the Omni-channel process to your existing retail business model

You might be half way there already!

If you’ve looked at the Omni-channel elements above then maybe you can identify which process/es you are already engaged with. There are some other data points to consider that can be used to measure the success in the application of the Omni-Channel experience to your own business.

Social Media – Insights & Analytics reports – changes in audience, increase in traffic and awareness

AI powered site search – Advanced eCommerce Analytics – providing powerful research data from user search trends 

Data Driven Email Marketing – Use of AI, integrated CRM systems and email automation software

Mobile & App platforms – Google Analytics for eCommerce

In-Store – Sales analysis reports – YoY comparisons, store layout VS high performing product ranges 

Virtual Assistant – CRM system tracking, call query data, product availability, returns and social media listening

Digital Kiosk – tracking online store search history, volume of home delivery vs click and collect

2. Add Personalisation to the Customer Experience

Whatever the event or objective: posting on social media, setting up a digital ad or launching an email marketing campaign there will be one common priority.

SPEAK TO YOUR CUSTOMERS AS INDIVIDUALS!

  WHY?

“OVER 20% MORE SALES CAN BE GENERATED FROM PERSONALISED WEB EXPERIENCES”

It’s simple, no one wants to receive a message that’s not relevant to them. So personalisation is key to getting the most out of your eCommerce marketing strategies. We have all seen the personalisation on emails sent to us – that’s just a given at this stage!

But what will ‘entice the click through’? Well normally if you can associate the title of the email as something of relevance to you it would generate an interest to find our more…..

1.0 Advanced eCommerce Site Search

Most of these personalised experiences wouldn’t be possible without data. Normally used for information retrieval and decision making, data has an increasing importance in wowing your customers with personalised experiences along the customer journey touchpoints. The trick in using data to make the customer experience more immersive starts with AI – powered search. The goal of this is to increase dramatically the conversion time of the website visitor in deploying technologies that rapidly allow them to find the product they are looking for. 

The main element to drive this from a front-end perspective is the Site Search on your eCommerce site.  

These are some requirements and criteria to consider when developing your Site Search Engine.

  • Make the search box large enough for regular search queries
  • Position it with user experience in mind centre or to the right hand side – do not clutter alongside any other webpage element
  • Add the magnifying glass icon, its universally recognised by web users
  • Add pre-text to guide a search query like – “sample product keyword” OR “what are you looking for?”
  • Include a ‘Search’ button – make it as easy to entice a click
  • Integrate machine learning technologies to allow personalised search suggestions
  • Allow search autocomplete
  • Choose a system that has a comprehensive analytics package
  • Also one that integrates with Google Analytics

 

Remember!!

It’s your job to remove any obstruction that will interrupt the search and buying journey of your customers. Stimulate your site visitors to use the Site Search option to provide a seamless customer journey, collect more search data and drive sales more efficiently

We have listed the Top 5 eCommerce Site Search Technologies for you to explore!

  1. Addsearch
  2. Swiftype
  3. Site Search 360
  4. Relevancy Platform
  5. Elastic

1.1 Product Configurator Technologies

When we talk about personalised web experiences there is no more an effective way to integrate them than allowing your customers control the product page of your eCommerce site. By allowing product customisation you also allow for individualisation and personalisation. Product configurators provide this experience, they are a tool that allows the core product being offered to be altered and customised (within range) to the users taste. This advanced AI Technology works with complex sets of rules and configurations (on the back-end) but delivers the user (on the front-end) with a seamless personalised real-time shopping experience.

This technology was deployed rapidly by the automotive industry, as top car manufacturers saw the competitive advantage in integrating a product configurator tool for their customers online purchase journey. Porsche were the first to develop a product configurator tool in the industry back in 2015 for their range of sports cars. They ‘drove’ (excuse the pun!) the online customer experience and their sales by delivering this technology on multiple platforms opening up 40% more traffic on mobile devices alone!

Take a look at the demo video below which was their first product configurator tool that they launched back in 2015. Although there have been many advances in this type of technology since, it does provide some great insight into it’s functionality, platform capabilities and personalised user experience.

3. Applying the use of AI and Virtual assistants

If we look at virtual assistants first and how they can personalise the shopping experience with your eCommerce store. There are a variety of activities that a virtual assistant can engage with from back-end operational duties like; product page updates – descriptions, imagery and product listings to front-end customer facing responsibilities like processing orders, returns, live chat, direct phone call and email enquiries. Having someone ‘Human’ to talk with can reassure your online customers that you genuinely treat customer care with the utmost importance in your eCommerce operation. Also having fully trained courteous staff available to handle queries with efficiency provides another opportunity to enforce that reassurance. There are obvious operational advantages in using virtual assistants; they are cheaper to employ than a full-time employee, they boost productivity as they are highly skilled at what they do, they also can conduct more intense marketing activities like social media interaction.

Using AI in your eCommerce strategy is coming at things from a different angle with a ‘non human’ approach, it can be simply integrated into your eCommerce store and can offer the following functionality:

  • Use suggestive selling techniques by grouping data on similar products that were bought together as a bundle or separately
  • Use of chatbots to handle customer service queries
  • Send automated engagement marketing emails to registered account holders from their engagement on your eCommerce site
  • Learn how to market better to your customers with real-time data on how they behave on your eCommerce store
  • AI can be very useful in detecting spam emails, fake reviews and recommending content to increase customer and visitor engagement

4. Add Interactive Product Proofing to your content strategy

Hitting the ‘Buy’ button on an eCommerce site can be a hesitant choice for some and that’s understandable especially when wondering…..

“will I get the product that I ordered?” OR “is the quality as real as it is described on the product page?”

To quench this anxiety consumers need proof of intent to purchase – they need to be convinced they have researched the product and are satisfied with feedback from others. Some eCommerce operators will use social proofing to project scarcity or urgency, driving the need for a purchase.

Some examples:

  • Order Now! to get next day delivery!!
  • Book Now! to avail of today’s special offer – booked 20 times today already!!
  • Order Soon! Before Sale Ends!- Limited Time Offer!! | Only 5 Left in Stock!!

Other eCommerce stores leverage social proofing in a different type of way, building more trust and brand advocacy.

Below are some successful ways in building brand trust with social proofing:

  • Customer Success – Integrating engaging customer stories, reviews, case studies or testimonials into your website content strategy
  • Social Proof – leveraging the use of social media to validate your products success, it’s a perfect time to have a virtual assistant to help with your social media platforms and social listening for reviews and comments. 60% of consumers will expect some reply to a review they leave within 24hrs!!
  • Expert Approval – using experts in their own field to review and validate products and services they have tested, adding their reviews to your content and social media strategy
  • Industry Association Endorsement – Industry accreditation or approval of products and services can be a very compelling source to drive interest and demand for a product or service. Having these highlighted on your website will promote reassurance to web visitors
  • Investment Approval – for those purchasing products from a company with the knowledge that they are being crowd sourced or even IPO’d drives reassurance and credibility
  • Influencer endorsement – for certain industry sectors like fashion and cosmetics brands rely heavily on influencer endorsements, normally celebrities who create that WoW! factor about products or services they review. Leveraging these reviews across your social media will win attention from a loyal brand driven audience.

 

 

“Social Media is the No.1 tool used by Irish Consumers

to discover and research a brands product or service”

(PWC Retail & Consumer Report 2018)

5. Enhance your customers retail experiences

If you operate a physical store as well as an eCommerce one try to develop in-store relations, boost testing display areas to allow your customers to become fully immersed with your brand. 

Some of the larger eCommerce retailers have seen this as a vital new part of their brand selling strategy and gone in reverse to open physical stores.

Apple would be a good example in the technology sector as their stores allow the customer to feel the real brand experience by being able to touch and try their product range.

Digital Kiosks

One other element you might want to consider is digital kiosks, they’re a great way of finding out more about your customers shopping behaviour. In-store kiosks will provide useful information on what customers look for on your eCommerce site and also provide an interactive experience with product reviews. Digital kiosks can also drive in-store sales by providing the opportunity for upselling products on a click and collect service from returning footfall.

 

6. Review your Digital Strategy touch points

Finally and not by any means least important, is the review of your digital strategy touchpoints. As mentioned earlier touchpoints like social media, website traffic behaviour, shopping cart abandonment and sales product volume are all indicators on how your eCommerce brand is performing. There are others which need to be consistently analysed as well for shifts or indications of change whether it be positive or negative.

  1. PPC
  2. Website Optimisation
  3. Content Strategy
  4. Social Media Insights
  5. CRM Marketing
  6. 3rd Party Referral Sites
  7. Email Marketing
  8. Offline PR

 

If you are looking for more insight and expert advice on how to leverage these touch-points in order to maximise your customers shopping experience, please get in touch with izest Marketing Group

Summary:

It’s no doubt that retailers have challenging times ahead in transferring a rich in-store experience to their online stores whilst protecting their bottom line. Customers expectations of the purchase journey have increased so immensely that it has caused a constant shift in buyer behaviour. Whilst the integration of new technologies to enhance the user experience has become the main focus for eCommerce providers, just so, as important is the human element to establish and develop trust. Combined they are sure to provide the ultimate online shopping experience.