It seems like every time you turn around, there are new e-commerce trends everyone is talking about — a new platform you need to be on, a new marketing tool you need to learn, a confusing new Google algorithm, a shiny new WordPress plug-in.
It’s enough to make your head spin.
The good news is that while it’s good to stay on top of trends in the market, long-term growth is a matter of implementing solid strategies, not jumping from tactic to tactic.
If you’ve been struggling to figure out where to spend your time and energy, just keep these evergreen e-commerce trends front and center.
1. Enhanced Customer Service
Chat bots, artificial intelligence, and other automated customer service options are creating quite the buzz. The’ve even sparked questions about whether humans will continue to have jobs in customer service in the next few years.
But before you run off and install every customer service gimmick you can get your hands on, keep in mind that the most effective customer service solutions are built around the customer’s needs. What customer service automation tools do well is allow customers to take care of smaller problems themselves, so that your customer service team can spend their time dealing with more complicated issues.
Businesses that thrive using automated customer service won’t be completely replacing their own customer service staff — instead, they’ll be using technology to automate the simple tasks, and training their customer service team to deal with the tougher questions in a way only a human can. (For now.)
Take steps now to integrate automated customer service options with live chat WordPress plugins like Zendesk Chat and WP Live Chat Support. But don’t forget that your most important customer service asset is your humans.
2. Mobile! Yeah!
When will mobile stop being a trend? Once we all have virtual reality devices embedded in our brains.
Seriously, though, the market share of mobile is increasing every year — but many e-commerce sites still aren’t optimized for mobile. In the past few years many customers just griped and using the site anyway. But be warned: consumer patience with using non-mobile sites on their smartphones and tablets is dwindling fast.
Even if you have a mobile website, you need to make sure it’s optimized. Use a plug-in like EWWW Image Optimizer to reduce load times, and WP Mobile Edition to serve up your mobile site based on the visitor’s device.
Related reading: Optimizing WordPress to Increase Your Website Speed (Infographic)
Online shoppers increasingly want a more personalized shopping experience. Most of us are becoming comfortable with the idea that stores are using our data to tailor their content and suggestions to us. In fact, 40% of online shoppers actually prefer that kind of experience.
After all, the big brands like Amazon and Netflix are already serving up suggestions based on our browsing history and demographics. What may have once felt creepy now feels like VIP service, where a personal shopper is helping us cull through the myriad options online to find the gems.
We’ve written before about ways to personalized the shopping experience. Make 2017 the year you get on board.
4. Social Selling
Are you one of the 419 million people who have some form of ad blocker installed on your computer? Then you understand the challenge e-commerce retailers are facing when it comes to reaching online customers the traditional way — through intrusive pop-ups and flashy sidebar ads.
Rather than rail about people skirting the “system,” savvy etailers are changing their tactic to meet their customers where they’re actually hanging out. At this point, nearly every social media platform has some sort of advertising engine built into it — powered by incredibly granular data about demographics and preferences.
This allows e-commerce companies to go to where their customers are and serve up ads to them based around things they actually want to buy. After all, if I’m continuously interrupted by a noisy video ad while trying to do research for a client, I’m just to be irritated. If I spot an interesting video about laptop use and posture when I’m bumming around on Facebook in play mode, I’m in a better mindset to click and then spend $80 on a schmancy laptop stand. (Guilty!)
Plus, since I’m already chatting with people, I’m also more likely to share an interesting product with friends.
Related reading: The Key to a Seamless Omnichannel Strategy? Focus on the Humans
The key to weathering e-commerce trends?
Keep an eye on the technology, but don’t lose sight of your customer. If you have a great product, build a great website, and offer a great experience you’ll be set up for success.
Let us know how we can help.