E-commerce is one the fastest-growing markets worldwide and is expected to reach $4.9 trillion in sales by 2021. Throughout its growth, the industry has always been adapting to innovative technologies and ever-changing consumer demands. As a result, every year brings new challenges to the e-commerce marketers and new trends to follow.
The 2019 year is no exception. We’ve collected the ultimate checklist for the e-commerce marketers to consider while planning a strategy for this year. But please keep in mind that every business is unique and thus, demands individual approach towards marketing.
E-commerce challenges in 2019: what to expect
Before getting down to strategy development, we recommend you to learn about the expected challenges that e-commerce businesses may face this year.
Impact of celebrity influencers will drop down
Customers are growing distrustful towards businesses and collaboration with big celebrities can actually make the situation worse.
While many celebrities charge up to $1 million per sponsored post, people start seeing the sponsored brands as fake. Such an attitude affects reputation and sales significantly, preventing businesses from building long-lasting relationships with the customers.
There is a solution to this issue: reach for micro influencers instead. While not having the same number of followers as big celebrities do, micro influencers actually represent your target audience and are much more authentic and trustworthy. If you are a footwear retailer, for example, it would be a good idea to collaborate with an avid traveler or dancer who can test your product and give honest feedback.
The gap between customer’s and brand’s perception
One of the most critical issues that modern companies face is a 20% gap in the perception of paid ads. As a recent study by Adobe Digital Insights revealed, 58% of the brands believe they improved their performance with paid ads while only 38% of the customers agreed with that.
This gap and decrease in paid ads efficiency grow from the fragmented use of technologies and lack of proper organization. Fragmented use of technologies implies that the majority of companies use more than 3 attribution and other marketing platforms, which leads to confusion.
Source: Adobe Digital Insights
At the same time, the cost of digital ads is rising drastically and grew by 12% in the last couple of years. But as companies spend more money in an attempt to retain the customers, they don’t see a high return on investment. So for digital businesses and e-commerce specifically, it’s recommended to look for more natural and harmless ways to advertise.
However, these changes have a positive side too. People expect more personalized, honest and unique service – and modern advertising tools enable companies to follow the lead.
Need for personalization
What the e-commerce industry sees right now is the incredibly high demand for personalized services. Numerous studies prove that customers are more likely to buy if the offer is personalized just for them.
With this in mind, e-commerce marketers have to pay higher attention to personalization tools aka “Recommendations” sections, personalized emails, or website pop-ups. However, the challenge lies in the fact that not all e-commerce platforms offer enough functionality to serve your customers’ needs.
With near to endless Magento customization services, this platform is one of the leaders in the e-commerce industry. It’s a perfect choice for middle-sized or big businesses, while its competitor Shopify is suitable for smaller companies that do not demand such extensive functionality.
Social media platforms
Social media presence is a must for those savvy companies that wish to expand their audience and remain competitive. It grew from an entertainer to a major influencer that affects most of our decisions, including the shopping ones. So one of the biggest things for e-commerce marketers is to double-check the social media presence of a company and tune it to the current marketing trends.
New Instagram features
In 2017, Instagram introduced two brand-new shoppable features that took e-commerce to a new level: an option to tag products in the regular posts and an option to add products to the Stories.
There are a few reasons why these features are awesome:
- Natural advertising. By that we mean the ads seem native and don’t interrupt with the user’s experience. Instead of seeing a “sponsored” and irrelevant post in a feed, a user will see the product-tagged post while browsing the profile of a specific company. Therefore, the product will be seen by potentially interested users only, thus increasing the chance for purchase.
- Available product description. These product tags feature the minimum amount of information: name, price, and a brief description. However, it will be enough for the user to decide whether they want to buy the product or learn more.
- Immediate purchase. Once tapping on “Learn more”, the user will be redirected to an in-app product page that would offer a purchase option. This is incredibly convenient as such option saves user’s time and does not require to leave the app.
As 20% of the Stories, posted by businesses, result in an interaction between the users and the brand, it’s time for your company to deploy these features. A quick note: to enable these features, you will first need to connect your Instagram profile to your Facebook store. Learn how to do it here.
And of course, don’t forget to update your profile regularly with high-quality and consistent content.
Wise marketers know that Facebook is strong and remains one of the best marketplaces for your brand. This year, it had more than 2.27 billion monthly active users and claims to have an average ROI from ads at 152%. With these numbers in mind, it would be a good idea to start actively using Facebook ads if you have not done it yet.
There are several ad options that Facebook offers, with some of them being extremely well-suited for the e-commerce businesses.
These ads free you from creating a separate ad for each product from your catalog. With the help of the templates, Dynamic Product Ads independently generate personalized ads for the users based on their behavior on your website.
What’s awesome about these ads is that they are based on the products that users already saw or showed any interest in. Dynamic Ads can show products that customers viewed on the store website, products that remain in their carts (a good strategy for reducing the abandoned cart rate!), or recommendations of similar or related products.
With such level of personalization, no wonder Dynamic Ads show the highest ROI. As well, due to the fact they are automatically generated, they are a true time-saver for the stores with hundreds or thousands of products that require promotion.
Multi-product, or carousel, ads are also great for e-commerce as they show a range of products and help identify which one of them causes the most interest among the users.
If you have any doubts about the efficiency of these ads, check out the findings by Adobe. They reveal that multi-product ads bring up to 300% increase in CTR and reduce cost-per-click significantly.
A tip for using the carousel ads: place the most “clicked on” image first to increase users’ engagement and interest.
In addition to the abovementioned ads, Facebook offers other ways to promote your e-commerce business. You can learn about them on the official Facebook page.
Pinterest is one of the most profitable platforms for e-commerce that helps to boost conversion rates and contributes to user engagement. Due to the great amount of visual content, Pinterest profiles serve as stunning inspiration galleries for the users that promote not only the products but related lifestyle too.
However, as new technologies pop up, social media platforms are eagerly adopting them in an attempt to both delight the users and bring more profit to the businesses. That led to the introduction of Pinterest Lens – “a Shazam for objects”, as creators call it.
Pinterest Lens allows users to “scan” the objects and suggests similar ones according to the recognized objects. For example, a pair of red shoes can be scanned with such hashtags as “red”, “shoes”, “sneakers”, “style”. While Lens feature opens new opportunities for the marketers by expanding the brand visibility and audience reach, Pinterest went further and introduced “Shop the Look” feature.
Similar to Instagram product tags, Pinterest “Shop the Look” enables native advertising. Such shoppable pins will have white dots that, upon tapping, will provide product description and a link to follow to make a purchase. This new feature turns Pinterest into a promising marketplace that, in addition to product display, also motivates users to make a purchase and discover the brand.
Embrace the technology
In recent years, e-commerce has been adopting the emerging technologies eagerly. This leads to brand-new customer experience and positively impacts sales and conversions.
This technology became widespread among e-commerce marketers as it brings the digital store experience to the same level as the one from brick-and-mortar stores. Customers can visit a footwear store and try the shoes on or stop by a beauty shop and see how a certain color of lipstick would look on the lips. For a long time, the e-commerce stores had nothing to set against but now they have AR.
In e-commerce, AR can be used in multiple ways. The most popular one is for “trying” virtual objects in real life. Take Ikea mobile app as an example. It allows users to see how a piece of furniture will look in their apartment and helps in taking more careful and precise buying decisions.
Such use of AR became popular with beauty and footwear brands as well. Lacoste, Converse, and Sephora – all these companies let users “try” their products via a mobile app.
Another way to use AR in the sphere of e-commerce is smart stores. IBM recently introduced an app that lets users scan the products in the store and receive detailed information about them, including recommendations of similar products and customer reviews.
Augmented reality solves one of the most critical needs of a modern user – a need to immediately receive the required information to help in decision-making. By saving the customers’ time and allowing them to make a decision from any place and at any time, brands show their understanding of the customers’ needs and readiness to adapt to the changing business environment.
Chatbots are based on machine learning and have proved to be incredible business helpers. The chatbot implementation brings the following benefits:
- Saves time for the user
- Offers personalized approach
- Provides informative and relevant information for the user
- Boosts customer’s loyalty
- Results in increased revenue for the brand
One of the most popular uses of chatbots is their implementation in Facebook Messenger. Since many companies communicate with the clients via the Messenger, the use of chatbots adds value to this communication and increases the chances to make the customer take action, like product purchase or adding to the cart.
Chatbots in e-commerce can perform such functions as receiving orders, placing them in a cart, confirming the order, and send updates on the order status. All these actions require a minimum amount of time if performed by a machine and transform the shopping process into an automated and interactive experience.
The topic of voice shopping is a rather controversial yet promising one. Voice shopping is estimated to grow to $40 billion in 2020 and 50% of all searches will probably be done by voice. So for e-commerce marketers, voice-powered services are a topic of consideration for further implementation.
Curious customers can already try voice shopping with Amazon’s Alexa Shopping. The company added new features to its virtual assistant Alexa and enabled it to take and confirm orders, put them in the cart and track the order status. The only flaw Alexa Shopping has is the inability to put a bunch of items in a single order. So you’ll have to say “Alexa, order orange juice” and “Alexa, order beef patties” instead of “Alexa, order orange juice and beef patties”.
While the service seems convenient, there are several issues that restrain the customers to adopt it. They are a low level of trust and lack of visual confirmation. However, customers can adapt to them with time, if voice shopping proves to bring more benefit than concerns.
The e-commerce industry is seeing immense growth today. To remain competitive and provide high-quality services to the customers, companies not only have to listen to their demands but come up with new and unexpected ways of delivering unique customer experience. This way, the company will prove its readiness to embrace the latest trends that are dictated by the modern business environment.
Irina Linnik is an e-commerce and digital marketing observer, currently contributing to Onilab. Her goal is to create informative and compelling content to help her readers navigate through the vast and ever-changing business environment. With over 5 years of experience in writing, she has helped numerous companies communicate their message across various channels.