Online stores have become a major revenue source for many small businesses over the last several years. If you’re already active with e-commerce or thinking about expanding into this space, here are five online retail trends to consider for 2016 from Snap Retail.
#1 Product Research
Customers are more savvy than ever and they’re turning to online research before purchasing practically anything. Even if your business sells multi-channel and the customer completes the transaction in-store, they still want to check reviews, features, and pricing online. Someone may also use search engines to look for online retailers carrying a certain brand or type of product. Small businesses need to have accurate content and site headers to appear appropriately in search results and also grab the customer’s attention with a well-written meta description, specific to each page.
#2 Selling Directly through Email
The easier it is for a customer to complete a purchase, the more likely they will convert. That’s why selling directly through email marketing has become a mainstay for small and large businesses alike.
Have an item that you over-ordered or isn’t moving as quickly as you expected? Develop a deal around the product and promote it through email. By creating a value incentive and lowering the transaction barrier, you’ll jump-start sales. There are Shopify apps that even allow you to add products to an email template without re-entering descriptions, pricing, or images. It’s essential to have a clear “Buy Now” call-to-action button as part of these campaigns.
This fast-growing visual bookmarking tool is also one of the largest product search engines. Create boards that represent your brand and include product Pins that link directly to the buy page on your online store. Not only are customers turning to Pinterest to help plan and organize their lives, they’re making purchase decisions based on those ideas. Pinterest referrals spend 70% more than visitors referred from non-social channels, including search, according to industry reports.
The most successful online retailers today are making themselves available to customers to answer questions, address issues, and create a credibility during the shopping process that reduces abandoned carts and increases brand trust. It’s essential to have a clear Contact page available with phone and email information. List your support hours directly on the page to avoid confusion.
Many retailers are also taking the next step and including a chat feature built directly into their site. This convenient tool is available across pages and can be triggered to ask a visitor if they need help after sitting for a set period of time. It allows a customer to interact with the business without needing to call, write an email, or wait for a response. It is a preferred method of communication for many online patrons and creates a confidence that the business is legitimate and attentive.
#5 Mobile Everything
More website traffic now comes from mobile devices than computers and an online store is no different. It’s crucial to have a responsive website that will appear correctly across various screen sizes and provide customers with a smooth shopping and checkout process.
Having a responsive or mobile-friendly e-commerce presence is also crucial for acquiring new customers online. As of last year, Google has started lowering websites appearing in search results who do not meet their mobile-friendly requirements. Check your site and online store to ensure they pass this critical test.
E-commerce is a rapidly growing and evolving area of retail. Stay ahead of the curve in 2016 by preparing for these five trends and be ready for more to develop over the course of the year. One thing is certain; online retail is here to stay. Savvy small businesses should embrace the change and use it to their advantage to gain new customers and offer existing ones additional opportunities to purchase.