The e-commerce sector is constantly evolving at a rapid pace. What was an acceptable and standard business practice last year may not be this year. Check our list of what’s hot and what’s not in e-commerce right now to gain an overview of some of the key avenues your business should be exploring in order to remain competitive in 2017.
Real-time, customized consumer experiences
Major advances in the efficiency of big-data analysis allow for a more personalized and interactive online shopping experience that is tailored to each customer’s specific interests and needs. In 2017 e-commerce retailers will increasingly make use of sophisticated tools such as Etilize that can gather information on products in real time, allowing them to propose more appropriate personalized item recommendations to clients. In the case of apparel, data aggregators can even suggest items that are likely to be a good fit for the customer, based on their past purchases and preferences.
Cluttered and clumsy web-stores
In 2017 consumers want a simple and quick shopping experience. Streamline the buying process, or risk losing customers before they complete their order. Analyze your store for choke-points and bottlenecks. Remove all unnecessary steps or obstacles between point A, the customer deciding to purchase one of your items, and point B, payment.
Artificial Intelligence and smart-prediction
As we’ve seen above, in 2017 big-data will assist in providing customers with a more tailored shopping experience. Meanwhile though, at the back-end of e-commerce, AI will be analyzing this data like never before. Expect much more accurate market prediction along with the hyper-targeting of promotions and campaigns.
In 2017 middlemen will increasingly be called upon to justify their existence, as more and more buyers want to be in direct contact with their favorite brands, thus bypassing third-party distributors and merchants. If your e-commerce business is based on a re-sale model you may need to rethink your strategy. Concentrate on pushing the advantages that your business can offer buyers over purchasing directly from brands (for example a much wider range of products, faster shipping, locally-based inventory etc.), otherwise you risk being cut out of the process altogether.
Snap-chat’s much anticipated float on the New York Stock Exchange has been one of the most talked about events in the e-commerce sector since Alibaba Group went public back in 2014. And despite Facebook having implemented several features that many have suggested were ‘inspired’ by Snap-chat, the upstart photo-sharing app evidently now has its sights firmly set on challenging Zuckerberg’s social-media behemoth for pole-position.
As usage of Snap-chat rapidly rises, naturally so does the app’s importance as a marketing tool. While to date Snap-chat’s user-base has largely been millennial, all the signs are that 2017 will be the year in which the app crosses over to a wider demographic. At which point, any serious e-commerce business needs to be leveraging the significant marketing opportunity that Snap-chat offers.
Slow shipping and inconvenient returns policies
In 2017, consumers want what they want, and they want it now. Same-day delivery is increasingly becoming standard and customers frequently list slow shipping as a significant factor that would put them off making an online purchase.
Similarly, an inconvenient or unclear returns policy will discourage many potential buyers. If you want to increase sales then make returns as easy and painless for customers as you possibly can. A customer who has total confidence in your company’s returns process is likely to order more items than they would have done otherwise, secure in the knowledge that if they aren’t satisfied there will be no trouble sending them back. However, assuming that the items were accurately represented by high-quality product photos on your e-store, the customer is just as likely to want to hang on to all that loot once they have it physically in their hands.
Google state that most queries via their search engine are now done from mobile devices. Not only should your e-commerce store be optimized for mobile use, but perhaps even designed from scratch with mobiles in mind.
Although the above is true, when it comes to making a purchase, the majority of people still prefer to do so from a desktop device, using their mobiles only for browsing. So, yes, give mobile users serious consideration, but without ignoring those on a PC.
Recently we’ve seen an increasing trend for high-profile retailers to expand their Cyber Monday and Black Friday offers to an entire month of discounted holiday-season shopping, with the result that many consumers now expect to find a wide range of discounted products on sale throughout all of November.
Poor site security
With many high-profile data-breaches in the last year or two, consumers are rightly concerned about online security. It is down to retailers to reassure customers that transactions are safe and that their vulnerable data will not fall into the wrong hands. HTTPS encryption will play a big part in this.
Multiple, high-resolution images
The days when you could get away with just showing one photo of a product are over. Likewise, small, poor quality images that cannot be zoomed into will no longer cut it in 2017. Consumers expect you to provide them with a comprehensive series of images, showing the product from all angles, in white background and high resolution. Making white background of the product photos is not so expensive and nor time consuming. Clipping Path India‘s 300+ Photoshop specialist is working around the clock and can deliver the edited images within 24 hours. Request a free quote now.
Furthermore, providing multiple images of products will also significantly reduce the rate of returned goods: if your product shots are many, descriptive and accurate, it’s more likely that the product will coincide with the buyer’s expectations, and therefore that they’ll want to keep it.
Instagram-style hipster product shots
You know the formula: products lain out on a wooden table-top, a carefully-placed mug of coffee and Macbook creeping in on the side of the frame, perhaps a nice notepad and pen too. All shot with a shallow depth-of-field and finished off with a warm-toned retro filter. Every mediocre Instagram feed and low-end stock-photography website is full of clichéd images like this now. It’s time to move on.
Technological advances have lead to the creation of increasingly sophisticated chat-bots and their use within the e-commerce sector looks set to expand rapidly in 2017. Chat-bots will help keep customers browsing your store for longer by answering questions and providing information about products and services – what is known as conversational commerce – effectively functioning as an interactive FAQ section tailored to the customer’s requirements. From the retailer’s point of view, chat-bots are a highly economical mode of providing a degree of customer interaction and support.
Chat-bots alone aren’t enough though. Customers also want genuine, interactive engagement from retailers and they still very much value customer service with a human touch. This interaction may take the form of live chat, but can also be instigated by means of social media avenues; quoting or referencing specific customers on your blog; and posting informative, high-quality content to increase engagement.
Asian E-Commerce markets
As the US e-commerce market moves ever closer to saturation point, many retailers will be looking to Asia as the region with most potential for expansion.
Worrying about Amazon
Either choose to sell products not available on Amazon (such as unique niche items, artisanal or handcrafted products etc.); sell products in a different manner to Amazon; or provide services that Amazon can’t provide. But don’t waste your time trying to compete with Amazon.
Clean, simple product images
It’s a fact: high quality product photos sell. If your store isn’t already up to grade, now’s the time to ensure that all your product images are looking their absolute best. It’s 2017 and there’s no longer any excuse for displaying products on your e-commerce store in an unappealing and unprofessional manner. Clean, even lighting and spotless white or gray backgrounds are the order of the day. If you are in a hurry and don’t have enough time to edit your product images, feel free to contact us, our price starts from $.39 USD only.
Static product photos
Old-fashioned and lifeless product pages are well and truly out of favor. Top-end retailers have been adding smart, interactive features to their sites for some time now, and product photos that change to another view (for example, from pack shot to model shot) as you hover over them have become increasingly common. 2017 is the year when these features will become the norm.
What’s clear from this list is that to be successful in e-commerce in 2017 means tackling several fronts with equal determination. Customers are ever more demanding and have come to expect a certain level of service, interaction and assurance from retailers. In a recent study conducted by UPS, the presence of good quality product photography was found to be a major factor in determining whether customers would purchase from an e-commerce store or not. Thus it is imperative that your product images be finished to the highest of standards like these sample images done by our Photoshop professionals. Likewise, clunky old web-stores without security certification will do little to win customer confidence. Furthermore, your data must be top-notch; customer service responsive (and preferably human); and the shopping experience itself fluid and painless.