We're well into the new year - and if all is going according to plan, that means you’re on your way to rolling out the ecommerce strategy you set at the end of 2018. But no matter how solid your strategy is, it's important to stay on top of broader industry trends and adapt your plan as needed. And there are already several emerging trends that ecommerce merchants big and small should be keeping an eye on:
- Consumers are increasingly expecting a seamless online and offline experience.
- Customers spend more time on mobile than ever before, and optimizing your omnichannel customer lifecycle is critical.
- QR codes are making a comeback to enhance customer experience and provide reams of useful data for increasing customer lifetime value (LTV).
- Every ecommerce enterprise needs to create a consistent brand experience that inspires customer loyalty.
To continue expanding your ecommerce company’s share of an increasingly diverse market, read on to learn how to leverage these trends:
1. Link your online and offline experiences
We’ve discussed the importance of connecting brick and mortar sales with digital. Still, it’s important to note that the customer lifecycle will increasingly merge the two - not only from a data perspective, but also in terms of experience. Whether customers are browsing early in the buying process, price-checking in-store to complete the sale online later on, or just need a little more time to make a decision, you need a frictionless transition from in-store to online (and back). Look to stores like Glossier, Casper and Outdoor Voices - all of which started as online brands and have expanded into unique, innovative retail experiences - as examples of brands doing this right in 2019.
2. Optimize for omnichannel (or else)
Not to scare you or anything, but your customer experience already is across multiple channels - even if you don't realize it. And if you're only focusing your company’s advertising, sales, and customer services on just one channel or device, your prospects and customers are going to be lured away by better experiences elsewhere. For many, 2018 was the tipping point in which consumers moved from still buying primarily on desktop to relying more on mobile. And while we’re still in transition from mobile Internet to app-based, it remains and will become increasingly important for your company to target customers across multiple channels - and optimize your experience for mobile as well as desktop. Dig into your performance analytics to figure out where most of your customers are coming to you from and purchasing through, and see what you may need to do to optimize conversion - if most of your customers are mobile, you may want to rethink your website layout or marketing strategies.
3. Jump on the QR bandwagon (again)
QR codes were here, then gone, and now they're back again - and experts think they're here to stay. Consumers and ecommerce companies in the US and Europe are starting to more widely adopt this trend, that has been prevalent in China for the better part of a decade - QR codes have been used by brands as diverse as Porsche, Amazon, Instagram and Spotify in recent months, and they're a major part of the electric scooter craze that has popped up in cities across the U.S. QR codes let your customers interact with your product in new ways through their mobile devices. A quick scan allows users to engage with your brand both physically and digitally - and continue their engagement over a longer period of time. They can be used for everything from unlocking a physical device to offering a personalized discount or promotion to processing payment. QR isn’t just a fad, though - the codes help you collect useful customer data. And paired with the right analytics software, the insights you glean can help you increase LTV through customer retention and upsells.
4. Create and maintain a consistent brand
It seems obvious: the more brand loyalty a customer has, the more they're likely to come back to your store - and the more money they're likely to spend. In 2019, greater transparency through customer reviews and social media, increased access through a range of platforms both online and offline, and additional competition in nearly every industry has made creating a solid brand more important than ever. If your brand stands out against the competition, you'll be more likely to acquire - and keep - customers. To maximize your customer LTV, create a consistent brand that sticks with customers and keeps them coming back. Consider retailers like Lululemon, IKEA and Dollar Shave Club, who build loyalty through great brands.
Why follow the trends?
Ecommerce is an industry that capitalizes off of trends, and we’ve all seen them come and go. However, paying attention to trends and investing in the ones that make sense for your brand will deliver a return on investment - in 2019 and beyond. Blending digital and physical retail experiences, optimizing your customer lifecycle across as many channels as possible, leveraging customer engagement data through technology like QR codes, and building loyalty through a strong brand are effective tactics your company should deploy in 2019. Need more convincing? Even if you're not, your competitors are already taking action on these trends for 2019.
One thing that never goes out of style? Understanding your ecommerce store's performance. Check out our 2019 guide to ecommerce reporting to learn the 27 metrics you should be reporting on: