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7 e-commerce trends that worked in 2016

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

Each year there are a whole bunch of articles that come out claiming to predict the future of e-commerce in the year to come. What usually follows is some ideological and impractical buzzword technologies, most of which will not positively influence your revenue.

We’re going to look at a few of the trends that did work, and continue to have a positive impact on the revenues. The great thing is that these are all ‘good practice’ techniques that you can implement now, rather that the short lived ‘trends’ that fade into obscurity.

Ecommerce failed trends

How many of the following trends did you see in 2015 or 2016 articles that are either complete flops, or just never caught on?

  • Beacon Technology merging online and offline shopping
  • Facebook and Twitter Logins for ecommerce sites
  • Buyable Pins in Pinterest
  • Artificial Intelligence Shopping Assistants
  • Virtual Reality Shopping Experiences

The problem with most of these is that customers are not ready for this level of interaction when shopping; although there is some uptake in all these cases, they have not turned into the real world results that people expected. In the most part, brands either underestimated the technical and creative requirements to implement these successfully, or more importantly, they overestimated the need for these features by their customers.

E-commerce trends that work

Responsive design and mobile commerce – the unstoppable force

Everyone knows that you cannot ignore mobile. If you think you can, or that your customers aren’t looking for it, then you’re either in an exceptionally specific industry or you’re wildly behind the times.

Every e-commerce website should be fully responsive – mobile and tablet sales now account for over 51% of all UK Ecommerce sales. If you’re struggling with your mobile E-commerce Conversion Rate (ECR), then start looking into Customer Experience metrics, and look to run a User Testing workshop to find usability problems.

Website speed and performance

Who doesn’t want their website to be faster or perform tasks quicker? You should be looking to set a performance budget (an ideal maximum download size for pages, and maximum download time) for your website. With this in mind, you should be investing over time to improve and meet this target. Services such as New Relic allow you to monitor every aspect of the customer experience, from the browser speed through to the code and server configuration used on the backend of the site.

According to the cyber-secrity service company Radware, mobile users are significantly affected by slow performance. A 500ms connection speed delay results in up to a 26% increase in peak frustration and up to an 8% decrease in engagement.

There are a huge variety of statistics around speed and performance being directly linked to ECR, AOV and Revenue. A great example of this is The Trainline, which is the UK's 5th biggest retailer. Their research showed that by reducing page load times by 0.3 seconds across the site was responsible for £8m in revenue!

Usability testing and customer experience

Usability Testing is the process of getting users to interact with different parts of the website, and monitoring the results. The concept is aimed at finding common usability problems. Frequently, we subconsciously ignore certain things when working on the same website for so long, and this causes new and existing customers to get lost or frustrated. Using services such as User Testing.com and HotJar to monitor customer experiences and adjust based on the results should be an ongoing concentration for your website.

Personalisation and product recommendations

Personalising a customer experience using product recommendations and data driven suggestions is nothing new. However, it has never been easier for small businesses to make use of this technology.

Services such as Nosto and Ometria provide all the data collection and the required tools to make use of the data, to provide a truly personalised email marketing campaign, social advertising program, or on-site product list. This is proven to increase Average Order Value (AOV), E-commerce Conversion Rate (ECR), and number of returning customers, as well as decrease Cart Abandonment and Time to Purchase.

Same Day Delivery

The most well-known Same Day Delivery is probably through Amazon Prime Now. Prime Now is aiming to disrupt retailers even more by offering Same Day Delivery within two hours to key areas in the UK.

Other retailers are following suit, with the majority now offering next day delivery, and some experimenting with the Same Day Delivery options within London.

Customers are starting to expect this service, and as delivery is one of the largest abandonment points in a checkout processes, it is worth giving customers options that are looking for.

Niche products and services

With services, such as Zoey, Shopify and SquareSpare making it extremely easy to launch an Ecommerce business, there has been a growth in websites offering a very niche product range.

These businesses may have previously existed as ideas, or through other services such as NotOnTheHighStreet.com or Etsy.com. However, these products can now exist as their own website, as well as continuing to sell through these other channels.

Another way people are starting their Ecommerce businesses is using KickStarter or IndieGoGo, which gives them the backing to get a product launch off the ground, before then being able to turn that into a full-time business. Over 115,500 businesses have started off the back of Kickstarter, with over $2.7 billion in business capital raised.

See how to launch an ecommerce business in 24 hours for an example of how easy this has become.

Food delivery services

Getting takeout delivered has become hugely accessible through 2015 and 2016, with the rise of the Deliveroo and Henchman services.

Customers pay a fee (Deliveroo charges £2.50) to pick up and deliver your food, dry cleaning or shopping, and deliver to your home. The retailers usually pay a percentage fee for each order to be on the platform.

This means local businesses have a built market place to advertise and grow, without needing to invest in their own ecommerce solutions, or online marketing which can be hugely prohibitive.

Jason Ford is head of web services at digital agency Gravytrain.

JF

Jason Ford

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