The end of every year is the time when you usually sum up and analyze your activities so far. In every business, including e-commerce, it is a good idea to take a look at trends, events, and success stories that took place during the year that is about to end to better plan your activities for the upcoming year. To make that task easier for all online store owners, we have prepared a 2019 e-commerce round-up.
Homepage less important and more focus on product pages
A homepage, also in online stores, is supposed to represent your business well. But does it drive the most traffic and sales in an e-commerce business? Just think of how customers search for products online, and you will realize that the most important sites, both for users and sellers, are product and category pages, as well as the ones featuring articles relevant for customers.
Not only analysts noticed it but also SEO/SEM specialists who paid more attention to the way product and category pages are optimized. They focused on the so-called “long tail” keywords – phrases users seldom search for or keywords that consist of several words. As for online store owners, they started to spend more time refining product pages, and they allocated part of their budgets to UX audits and SEO.
What vastly contributed to the change in the approach was Google Shopping. It made analysist realize that customers immediately want to get what they are searching for. That is why they are so willing to click the tile-like ads with photos displayed on Google.
Are you wondering if it is the same in your online store? If you have focused your optimization activities on the homepage so far, it is high time you checked if it really drives traffic and sales. If not, pay more attention to pages that bring you more transactions and prospects. How to do it? Check Landing Pages in Google Analytics to find out which pages your customers visit in the first place.
Development of omnichannel
It has been a long time since the omnichannel strategy started to be talked about. Over the years, though, we only heard discussions about it rather than saw any implementations. What are the reasons? High costs you have to cover and the fact you need to reorganize individual departments in your company as well as to analyze and modify procedures and processes. The fear of change and too few data available don’t make the omnichannel implementation any easier. However, as we could see in 2019, it is possible to integrate various customer communication channels and touchpoints step by step, with a well-thought-out strategy.
It is crucial mainly because 73% of customers use many different communication channels while shopping. Those are not only online channels but also brick-and-mortar stores where 82% of consumers use their smartphones as shop assistants. That is why more and more stores help them follow that path, ensuring consistent customer experience both online and offline.
Brands that have been selling goods only online so far start offering their products on the Internet. They open online stores and begin their operations on marketplace platforms. It is the other way round with online stores – their owners open showrooms and traditional businesses. A good example is Amazon. The company decided to open brick-and-mortar stores, similarly to a Polish brand eobuwie.pl that used to be available only online up.
The omnichannel trend was very strong in 2019, and it will stay that way. What you should focus on in particular is the click&collect option (purchase online, collect in a brick-and-mortar store), data synchronization for various selling points, and providing many different communication channels for your brand.
Also, consider using messengers and social platforms popular among your target audience and take into account their characteristic features and the ways their users communicate.
Further mobile optimization of online stores – PWA gains popularity
The changes in m-commerce have been happening for a long time, and year after year, mobile users’ have expectations get higher. They are related not only to the ease of navigating around the store, product search, or the site’s loading speed. Users want to have an opportunity to make a purchase wherever they are and whenever they wish.
A Progressive Web App (PWA), i.e., a mobile version of a website, is the right solution here. It resembles an app, but you don’t have to download it from Google Play or App Store. Large e-commerce platforms like Magento or Shopware want to make it easier for online stores to implement PWA, so they started working on their own solutions. Magento’s PWA Studio which is still developed while a PWA for Shopware 6 will be created based on Vue Storefront.
Online stores that have implemented PWA can expect an increase in conversion rates, traffic on their sites, and a larger number of mobile transactions. An undeniable advantage of PWAs is their speed. They load almost immediately and, what’s important, they don’t need an Internet connection, which eliminates the problem of interruptions caused by a non-stable connection. PWAs enable you to interact with users because, similarly to mobile applications, they let e-sellers send notifications about interesting offers and discounts.
An online store that has observed a substantial increase in the conversion rate (17%) and mobile traffic (53%) after PWA was implemented was Lancome. On Aliexpress, conversion rates increased by 82% on Apple devices, visits per one visitor doubled, and users started to spend 74% more time on the website during a single session.
If you don’t use the PWA technology yet, do consider it as you can expect a quick return on investment. You will strengthen your competitive advantage by giving your customers exactly what they want: speed, mobility, and perfect shopping experience.
Social media shopping continues to grow in popularity. It is due to several factors. The most important ones are the simplification of mobile payments, more money spent on ads in that channel, new e-commerce solutions implemented in social media, and the fact that the youngest generations have more and more purchasing power.
In the Polish market, Facebook and Instagram have been the social commerce leaders, not only due to an extensive ad network but also because they let you tag products, shop within the application, and create product catalogs on your profile. Pinterest also introduced the so-called “buyable pins.” However, for a long time, these have been available only in selected markets, just like pin promotion, i.e., images published on the platform.
In the U.S., it is Facebook that drives the largest traffic from social media channels to online stores. Despite that, according to research by Adobe, traffic from Pinterest drives more conversions. 47% of Pinterest users make their purchases on the platform, compared to 15% of Facebook users buying products there.
People more often use social platforms to search for products and services, to ask friends for their opinions, and to share their buying experiences. Online stores benefit from it to gather more valuable data about their customers’ preferences as well as to better target ads and show consumers products that best suit their needs.
Consumers’ anxiety about the security of transactions and privacy remains a problem. That is why the potential of social commerce has not been fully exploited yet. Most probably, in the upcoming years, we are going to see further growth in that field.
The greater power of marketplaces and increased development of international trade
The popularity of Amazon and local marketplaces, like Allegro in Poland, lets retailers notice the sales potential such platforms offer and join forces with other online stores.
It is predicted that global sales revenues from marketplaces will grow by more than 100% in 2017-2022. No wonder – customers prefer to shop on such platforms because they know them and can use them to compare prices from various suppliers. They can also read other consumers’ reviews, which lets them place more trust in sellers.
According to “The Future of Retail Report 2019”, in 2019, about 32% of American consumers made at least one purchase a week on Amazon. Besides, as many as 66% of Americans start their customer journey on Amazon. They search for products there and learn about their features.
An important advantage of online sales over brick-and-mortar sales is the lack of borders and the opportunity to reach consumers around the world. Of course, some online stores can only operate locally, but for most of them, entering foreign markets is an excellent opportunity to develop their businesses and win new customers.
Cross-border trade develops dynamically, and the percentage of customers buying from foreign stores keeps growing. Accenture estimates that by 2020, international sales will be one-third of all trade.
It is Amazon, eBay, and other marketplace platforms that make it easier for sellers to reach customers from other countries. So, the development of marketplaces we mentioned above entails the development of cross-border e-commerce, and vice versa.
Due to the increased interest in cross-border trade, there is still room for development, and we are going to see this trend in the upcoming years. On the one hand, it is a great opportunity for online sellers to scale their businesses. On the other – their competition will grow.
The trends we have presented in this article are, in our opinion, the most important ones, and we could see them grow in 2019. Of course, there are more, but the ones mentioned above have the highest potential to develop online sales further.