The future of e-commerce and your business

Sophisticated e-commerce tools today will be standard business tools for SMEs tomorrow, writes Jen Kirwan from Captivate.

The future of e-commerce is already here with companies adopting new technology and approaches every day, to help sell their products and services online.

These advances are not just for the larger businesses as they will become essential tools of everyday e-commerce.

“Site performance, data, privacy, site speed and security are becoming more important to the customer. The consumer needs to know their data is safe and that they have the confidence to shop with your brand”

The pandemic has also skyrocketed the growth for the online industry with Adobe predicting that global e-commerce sales will reach $4.2 trillion this year. It is anticipated e-commerce is going to continue to grow at a rate of 20pc year on year.

With more than 90pc of consumers conducting their research online before making large purchases, now more than ever, online is an important element to the success of your business.

We have taken eight of the biggest e-commerce trends and have suggested how you can adopt these into your day-to-day online business.

  1. Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality (AR)  is bringing e-commerce to the next level enabling customers to connect with your brand online, increase overall engagement on your website and ultimately it is helping brands sell more. AR to enables brands connect with their customers and allow them to try on or experience the brand in their home.

Ikea use this software to help shoppers visualise what their furniture will look like in their home. Beauty giant L’Oréal and Irish brand “Sculpted by Aimee” use AR to match the foundation with their customers complexion. Providing their customers with the convenience of home shopping and reducing the cost of returns. How could you use AR for your brand?

  1. Mobile-first approach

It is estimated that 73pc of e-commerce sales will be made from mobile by the end of 2021. The benefit of creating a Mobile Optimised Digital Strategy is that you will improve your user experience and engagement. This will result in reaching a larger audience and ultimately more sales.

Consumers use their phones for short periods of time throughout the day such as the commute to work or checking the phone over the morning coffee. Mobile content should be clear and concise to ensure that the user can understand the information quickly and how it can benefit them.

From minimising page load times, optimising the web pages and enhancing the visual appearance, these steps alone can help improve engagement.

  1. Digital trustworthiness

Site performance, data, privacy, site speed and security are becoming more important to the customer. The consumer needs to know their data is safe and that they have the confidence to shop with your brand. The retention of customers and their ongoing sales is based on this trust. It is essential for an online business to create a secure experience for their customer and can be done so by using visible SSL certificates, trust markers, credible payment providers and by having a clear privacy policy to name but a few.

  1. Innovation

“What got you here, won’t get you there,” said Marshall Goldsmith. What has worked for your brand previously online might not continue to work. There are many reasons for this such as Google changing their algorithms approx. 12 times a year. SEO is being impacted by the growing trend of voice search.

Brands can no longer survive on having just one marketing channel. Connecting with customers’ needs to be done through several different channels, with fresh ideas for content marketing, SEO, email marketing, ads and social required. Getting the right combination of channels for your brand will result in the growth of your business. This combination is different for every business but often can be based on where your customer is and what connects with them the best.

  1. Customer First

Creating a customer centric strategy that aligns to your customer values is the foundation of your business growth. Don’t know what your customers values are? Go find them out through a Marketing survey, social media poll, or just simply talk to them! Taking this step will enable you to connect with your customers and provide a solution to their problem. Looking after basic housekeeping online, such as speed, service and support and deliveries will make your business stand out and offer best in class service. Offer your customer more choice, through more ways to pay, or increase your service by adding a chatbot to help them with any queries they might have.

  1. Sustainability

This is one of the key growing trends in e-commerce and is going to continue to become increasingly important in the coming years. One survey reported that 75pc of customers wanted to see less packaging or a more environmentally friendly approach. Many companies have already started going green with eco furniture and clothing with a supporting eco business strategy. Another area that businesses are focusing on is environmentally friendly shipping. Is there anything your business can do to become more eco in these areas, or perhaps do you need to tell your customers the eco measures you have already taken?

  1. AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming e-commerce by using data to personalise shopping experience and predict the consumers shopping patterns. The use of data helps brands personalise the shopping experience for their customers, increasing loyalty and trust. It can also work for the business behind the scenes, analysing website consumption and ordering patterns. What information do you have about your customers that you could use to start personalising their shopping experience?

  1. Video shopping

Video shopping is becoming an effective marketing tool for e-commerce. Bloomberg reported by 2022 20pc of shopping online in China will be by video. Already a massive trend on Instagram, brands use influencer marketing to sell their product or service as it builds trust and loyalty with a wider customer base more effectively as the consumer can see your product being used first-hand.

How could your business use video to sell your products?

Captivate is an e-commerce and marketing consultancy focused on working with businesses to help transform their business digitally, so they can scale online.

Jen Kirwan
Jen is co-founder of Captivate, an e-commerce and marketing consultancy that was set up with her business partner Anna Grant in 2020. Jen has over 20 years’ experience working in financial services and with corporates managing digital marketing, strategy and communications. She is also a qualified executive coach and coaches in her spare time along with her other leading role in life: mum to Caleb, Zoe and Eli.