Retail is already a fiercely competitive game to get caught up in, but the rise of internet culture has made eCommerce perhaps the most aggressive incarnation of the retail landscape. While it’s invaluable to keep tabs on what works and doesn’t in your own business, such an approach can only take you so far. To truly elevate your eCommerce business to that elusive next level, you need to take stock of the industry at large and keep updated on what your competitors are doing. Here’s a peek into the near future and some of the eCommerce retail trends that are likely to shape the industry in 2017.
- Subscription models: In recent years, the prospect of getting consumers to commit to a subscription-based product has gained steam. The year ahead will see this approach continue to grow in prominence, and it doesn’t have to simply refer to the ever-popular Software as a Service (SaaS) niche either. If your business deals in physical goods, there’s a solid chance that at least some of your inventory needs to be regularly replenished. In that case, a subscription-based model might be a smart way to go.
- Automated chat: Ever visited a website only to have an automated chat window — or chatbot — pop up and ask if you need assistance? Chances are you have encountered this setup quite frequently, especially considering that it’s set to become even more ubiquitous in 2017. By simulating human interaction, chatbots provide a personalized, real-time response to consumers without the cost of having a staff member standing by. More sophisticated versions even facilitate purchases for customers.
- SnapChat marketing: Social media is an essential part of your eCommerce marketing strategy, but while Twitter, Facebook and even LinkedIn are well-known for their distinctive places in your business plan, SnapChat continues to become a breeding ground for marketing opportunities. Advertising through this particular social media site allows you to stay ahead of your competition, all the while shaping the way influencers see your product. Expect to hear a lot more about SnapChat for business in the coming months.
- Mobile payments: We’re used to making payments online nowadays, but using your mobile device to complete purchases is a relatively new phenomenon, with companies like Starbucks leading the way. Whether your eCommerce business has a brick-and-mortar component or not, you’ll likely find an opportunity to give customers a personalized experience that intertwines loyalty and mobile payments into a unique experience.
- Description and reviews: Today’s consumers are thirsty for information. So, before they even consider purchasing your product, they will want to get their hands on as much information as possible. This includes a detailed description of your product and its benefits, as well as reviews from previous customers that can help them make an informed decision regarding how to proceed. With so much competition, you need to really convince consumers why they should invest in your business.
- Cross-platform capability: Sure, your eCommerce business has a sweet new website, but in today’s mobile-friendly times, that isn’t going to be enough. You need to embrace a cross-platform dynamic to truly maximize your product’s potential. This includes compatibility with a variety of mobile devices and operating systems. Don’t leave consumers any excuses for why they can’t (or haven’t) interacted with your business. It’s simply one less obstacle to reaching a purchase decision.
- Niche retailers: In 2017, one of the biggest ways in which eCommerce businesses will get huge is by going small. As brick-and-mortar stores continue to wane, you might wish to hone in on a specific segment of your current inventory going forward. After all, not every eCommerce business can be as versatile as Amazon, which has warehouse after warehouse of inventory. Offer a product the likes of which consumers have never truly seen and focus on that. It’s better to do one thing really well than to be subpar at a million different things.
Forward into the Future
Armed with the knowledge of what lies directly ahead, you now have a somewhat better chance at getting ahead of where eCommerce may soon be heading. But it isn’t enough to simply have a clear idea of what trends are catching on. You need to act on it and begin introducing new initiatives that will expand your business approach and your reach into your target audience.
At the very least, you can take advantage of this opportunity by testing some of the above ideas. They may not all work for your niche, but the only way to know for certain is to give them a fair shot. You can bet that your competitors will be doing the same.