By how much have your day-to-day operations expanded since starting an eCommerce business? You may already have a solid catalogue with your exclusive merchandise or mainstream products, a better-looking website, improved your SEO ranking, gathered thousands of followers on social media and earned some favourable customer reviews. But, even the most reputable brands shouldn’t get stuck in idle mode after their first taste of success.
The retail landscape is a fast and ever-evolving one. Within a decade, we've gone from frustratingly long queues at the mall to checkouts that happen in minutes with an online credit card. As technology continues to get more innovative and consumers more sophisticated, new trends in payment, delivery and loyalty rewards will emerge that will enhance the online shopping experience. We take a look at what the future has in store for eCommerce and why online businesses should always keep their fingers on the pulse of the latest developments.
'Fingerprint credit cards' will be the new norm
Consumers will have more flexible and secure payment options when the PIN-less credit card makes its appearance online. Banks have been issuing PIN-free credit cards for a while now, but in the next few years we'll see more and more online stores adopt this procedure. Rather than key in their private digits when making an online purchase, customers will simply have to press their smartphone's screen upon which it will recognise their personal data which was conventionally stored in a credit card chip.
Apart from safety benefits, the use of biometric systems will speed up transactions for consumers, while the online merchant will enjoy a lower cost per purchase as well as personalised marketing opportunities - as they'll be able to track consumer mobile behaviour.
Online stores will expand to social commerce
You may be active on a variety of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but how often do those posts about new stock or upcoming sales convert social media users into paying customers? Very few eCommerce businesses currently tap into the potential of social media to boost their revenue. According to Statista, more than $30 billion in profit was collected from various social channels last year, while Kiss Metrics reports that 64% of businesses that included social commerce achieved their monthly sales target.
The shopping experience needs to be more unified across a wide range of online channels for social selling to grow. By installing a "Shop Now" call to action on your social media page, consumers will be able to effortlessly browse through your catalogue.
Geo-targeted marketing will be more commonplace
Location-based advertising involves sending messages to existing and potential customers. Specifically those who find themselves at a location relevant to your business or service. For example, if your business is subscribed to a location-based service and you detect that someone frequently "checks in" to a university library you can assume that that person might need books. So, you'll reach out to them with your latest offers related to educational merchandise.
To cite an effective real life example: The Columbus Sandwich company promoted themselves on the mobile app Seven Lunches to target the right customers. The app collects daily specials from restaurants and fast food outlets in specific area and helps consumers find the best deals. The Columbus Sandwich company started to market their specials on the app and also provided in-house training to its staff on how to use the app.
With local mobile ad spend projected to rise from $4.3 billion in 2014 to $18.2 billion in 2019, brands will soon have a wealth of resources to customise their offers. By teaming up with location app providers, online businesses can get access to a wider consumer base who regularly use geo-location technology.
Payment providers will offer refund assurance
Online retailers will become increasingly attentive to the risks of payment reversals. When a customer contests charges to a credit card due to unauthorised purchases, it's the merchant's responsibility to issue a chargeback on behalf the bank. Even though retailers can challenge the refund, it's not worth the time and money, so they just leave it there.
Newer payment providers will, however, be more considerate to online retailers. Many of these payment providers will offer eCommerce stores chargeback assurance that reduces the liability of covering the cost of transactions gone bad. With real-time fraud detection software added into their payment systems, retailers will have the peace of mind that they're protected from the potential losses that arise from chargebacks.
Deliveries will be done by drones
Online retailers of the future may not be able to turn a pumpkin into a golden carriage, but they will certainly be able to deliver a pair of heels in time for a matric ball. In fact, it is expected that deliveries will take about two hours to reach consumers' doorsteps. Last year, Amazon paved the way for instant delivery when they tested a drone delivery service that will supposedly take no more than an hour.
In today's fast lifestyle, consumers are increasingly impatient when it comes to receiving their goods and instant delivery will become the norm. No one wants to wait five days for a package to arrive, especially when it relates to a 'deadline' of some sort. What's more, when their order arrives early, they will have a chance to return it if they're unhappy with the delivery.
Current same day delivery services by some companies seem a luxury, but by the time all of your competitors have jumped on the instant delivery bandwagon, your company should be prepared to dispatch standard and local deliveries free of charge and offer fantastic deals on long-distance shipping.
More online stores will adopt a "no-questions-asked" return policy
Not all customers will be happy with your product, whether it was damaged during shipping or it simply did not meet their taste requirements. In the past, many online stores believed that accepting returned goods without any objections will be at the cost of their business. But, surprisingly, having an updated policy that's in favour of your customers may actually be beneficial to your company.
When a customer approaches your business with a product return, it should ideally be seen as an opportunity to increase your sales. The customer should log out of your website feeling that the issue has been resolved, and chances are you'll be gaining their trust and loyalty in your brand which in turn could result in more future sales and word-of-mouth marketing.
Digital and land-based will merge
While eCommerce remains the future of retail, many online retailers will come to realise that brick and mortar stores are the missing part of their business strategy. When attending to the needs of high-demand customers, online retailers will need to be highly flexible to meet consumer demands and satisfaction. This is especially true for eCommerce websites that need to run tests, modifications, shipment pick-ups, drop-off and displays. Having a flagship, or any brick-and-mortar, store can also help to establish a more personalised relationship with your customers.
Whether you're just starting an eCommerce business or have been in the game for years, it's important that your brand prepares for industry chances by taking advantage of the latest trends in order to secure the best opportunities for growth.