Personalisation and artificial intelligence are going to be vital in differentiating one online retailer from another
In the recent years, the e-commerce sector has been witnessing rapid changes in business practices. This is because e-commerce businesses are constantly updated in accordance with improved discovery, technology, logistics, and customer feedback.
An obvious misconception among new entrepreneurs is that an online store will make millions for them overnight. But, to truly establish a successful online business, you need a solid e-commerce strategy to guide the way. This means that if you are an e-commerce business owner, it’s time to review your current business principles and steer your online business strategy. Once you have this foundation in place, you’ll be way ahead of your competition.
Before venturing into a new terrain, e-commerce businesses need to identify the probable bottlenecks and look for solutions that can promote their brand and grow their audience. Trends in e-commerce emerge from the way customers shop, the items they buy, and their satisfaction with the product/service. As online commerce flourishes, a lot of new trends have emerged that have had a profound influence on online retailers.
Let’s discuss the three most relevant trends that you can implement in your new e-commerce business:
1. Artificial intelligence algorithms
Segmentation of the customer base and identification of their purchasing patterns based on their browsing history are among the biggest challenges that e-commerce businesses may face when introducing automation and store personalisation. With artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, however, online stores can achieve new levels of personalisation. In fact, Forrester predicts that in 2017, all businesses will see a 300 per cent rise in investment in AI.
With the number of purchases made online, increasing steadily, e-commerce businesses are now more keen on gathering detailed data on customer experience. AI helps them generate quantifiable data about what customers look at, in which order, for how long, when they prefer surfing for on online stores, what they eventually buy, and how they review products.
Even with such great reliance on artificial intelligence, e-commerce business practices cannot eliminate human intervention. While AI algorithms can help uncover business insights with the help of cognitive interfaces, analytics and machine learning technology, the actual analysis is done by humans.
The accuracy of the data returned by algorithms is primarily dependent on the quality and size of data that is analyzed. Small e-commerce businesses should be cautious of this fact as they do not have a vast amount of data to be analyzed. In such a scenario, businesses can partner with third-party analysts, who can access large data sets and extract relevant data.
2. Omni-channel marketing
In the era of multi-device user, most hours of the day are spent using a phone, tablet, or a computer. This has impacted the way tech-savvy customers shop online. About 85 per cent of shoppers in the United States have been in situations where they started a purchase on one device and finished it on another.
In simpler words, multichannel or omni-channel marketing is a brand’s ability to interact with potential customers on various platforms. E-commerce businesses need to ensure that the customer experience is consistent across all devices as the number of shoppers hopping from one device to another is only going to grow. So, by using a combination of indirect and direct communication channels, including websites, direct mail, email, and mobile, you will be enabling customers to take action in response (in the form of sales).
Niche marketing is important to multi-channel marketing. For instance, you can streamline your local SEO marketing to all the nurses in Detroit who have liked a certain pharmaceutical brand on social media. Platforms like Houzz, Polyvore, Reddit and YouTube can help you find the right customer base.
Reddit is essentially a collection of “sub-reddits” (or discussion forums) on just about every category and topic one can think of, including brands and businesses. For marketers, the best way to introduce their brands on Reddit is by interacting with Redditors. Redditors appreciate creativity, so make sure you post relevant and engaging content about your brand on the platform. At the same time, the information shouldn’t seem promotional. Ask for suggestions and reviews to make the discussion more interactive.
3. Personalisation and contextual shopping
Using common user interface patterns can work in favour of your e-commerce website, as they will provide customers with a unified experience. At the same time, ensure that your website’s layout does not end up resembling your competitor’s interface.
With personalisation becoming the next big thing in online retail, e-commerce website homepages can now be modified depending on which products a customer viewed on their last visit.
Although it is currently in its nascent stage, contextual marketing has become one of the most sought-after trends. In fact, 89 per cent of e-retailers are marketing “customer experience” as their key point of differentiation.
For the e-commerce sector, the greater the amount of data available to the retailers, the higher their chances of creating relevant content and ads for the right people at the right time across the web and social networks.
Indian online jewellery store, BlueStone is among the key players in the online jewellery segment that is implementing this trend successfully. In the Indian subcontinent, wedding jewellery or diamond jewellery are one of those few categories where buyers are keen on authenticity, design, and quality rather than discounts. This website has been one of the pioneers in this niche market that has successfully established trust among its target audience.
Even the Starbucks app is using the data it collects to offer personalized deals on the products that customers buy.
To sum up
In the modern digital age, customer behaviour is chiefly responsible for the success or the failure of e-commerce businesses. Companies need to up their game and devise their online strategies to enhance the overall shopping experience of customers. Tools like personalisation and artificial intelligence are going to be vital in differentiating one online retailer from another.
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