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E-commerce technology: hottest trends to watch this year
- M-commerce. Today 78% of US population comfortably access the Web from both desktop and mobile – and it looks like users no longer shy away from mobile payments, too! With 34% of the global payment transactions made on smartphones, building an e-commerce mobile-friendly website or native application is a must. However, simply having an app on the App Store and optimizing your website for mobile doesn’t always translate into actual sales. An average smartphone owner interacts with up to 27 apps monthly (with only 5 apps including Facebook seeing heavy use), so basically no one is waiting for your brand-new app. Should you stick to mobile web then? Hold on a sec! What do your competitors do to reach people on mobile? Prominent US retailers (including Target and Macy’s) use beacons to reward their customers with digital coupons and personal shopping tips; according to Macy’s, beacons boost app usage by 16 times. Smaller brands that cannot afford building a mobile app or simply want to test the waters often distribute digital coupons through third-party services like RetailMeNot or ShopAdvisor. Starbucks turned to gamification and developed a creative customer loyalty program. Now coffee lovers earn stars for every purchase and exchange the virtual currency for free drinks. The company also announced plans to partner with Apple Pay so that customers could pay for coffee by simply tapping an iPhone or Apple Watch at a Starbucks terminal. As a result, 20% of Starbucks’ payment transactions now come from mobile. Smartphone users are the force to reckon with; do you know how to engage them?
- Customer-centered approach. The era of traditional SEO is officially over. With the latest “out-of-the box” e-commerce SEO technologies (including third-party apps, widgets and WordPress plugins), businesses can automate a great share of website optimization processes and…devote more time to their customers. Product pages (lots of pictures and a few lines of text) are on their way out. Users now spend 21% of their Web time in search engines; what are they looking for? Well, it is reviews and high-quality long-form content that helps them make buying decisions. Video content is the next big thing, two. Website users who watch product videos while shopping online are 3.3 times more likely to make a purchase. By the end of 2016, videos will account for 60% of the world’s web traffic. And don’t forget about user experience. An online shopper may start a transaction on mobile and then complete it on a PC or tablet; does your app look (and feel) equally good on all existing platforms? Some brands (including L’Oreal and Converse) use the Augmented Reality technology, enabling customers to virtually try on their products. Once you deliver value to your customers, you’re doomed to success;
- Omnipresent IoT. Gartner claims there will be 6.4 billion connected devices worldwide by the end of this year; it’s no wonder the Internet of Things is one of the latest tech trends in e-commerce right now! In fact, IoT is the very tool that can help retailers bring online and in-store experience together. We’ve already told you about the beacon technology; however, IoT is much bigger than that. Last year Amazon announced its Dash button – a smart gadget connected to a user’s smartphone through Wi-Fi. Once you’re running out of something (washing powder, shaving gel or whatever it is), you simply press the magic button and…order the goods online. What looked like a silly joke at first (Dash was launched one day before April Fools’) resulted in a 75% increase in orders. Similar solution was implemented by Domino. The innovative approach to online shopping helped the famous pizza restaurant chain increase sales by 15% – and that’s not to mention the extensive media coverage the company got for free. Technology helps you win customers – and their wallets, of course. Why not embrace it?
- Chatbots on the rise. A chatbot is a smart computer program designed to handle conversations on a human level. Chatbots provide relevant information to users and guide them through complicated online transactions – and that’s exactly what 44% of online shoppers want. You can create a chatbot while building an e-commerce website or run the smart program inside a messaging app. Popular messengers including Kik, Facebook and WeChat (the Chinese monster app with 700 million active users) have launched chatbot platforms to enable companies build smart voice assistants and use them for business purposes. It is considerably cheaper to develop a chatbot than a high-quality mobile app – and that’s why some IT experts think bots will soon replace mobile applications. If you’re not sure your e-commerce app makes it to the “lucky 27” (that’s how many apps an average user installs on a smartphone, remember?), you can always reach your potential customers through the Facebook Messenger – just like 1-800-Flowers, Shopify and eBay do;