Online shopping and digital services are all the rage now, especially with the unparalleled convenience they offer. Whether you have your own sales website or provide offerings on Amazon, a lot of work goes into eCommerce for the average business. This is why it’s necessary to stay on top of your game.
This article will walk you through the latest trends in eCommerce that you need to watch out for. We’ll cover the latest online shopping trends in apps, platforms, and the market.
Checklist: Features of Fully Integrated eCommerce Platforms
Here’s a handy checklist of what features users have come to expect from a (basic) eCommerce platform:
Now, here are some features that may not be an absolute necessity, but add value to your platform and are becoming increasingly standard (think of them as the icing on the cake that draws customers in or keeps them coming back for more):
- Flash sales and discounts
- Checking item availability in specific locations
- Item availability reminders (email or app integrated)
- Wishlists for future items customers may want (adds a push notification to their email)
- Personalized product recommendations & item feeds
- Membership options
- Loyalty programs
- Easy customer service access
- Product scores and reviews
- Barcode scanning
- Personalized content
- Presenting your products with Augmented Reality
eCommerce App Features for Business Users
Every year there are more and more apps for eCommerce and businesses that cater to sellers. If you’re building your own, you will have steep competition with giants like Shopify and HubSpot Mobile. While the choices can seem daunting, there are certain features that are must-haves if you’re building an app. Alternatively, these may be good things to look out for if you’re choosing an app for your own use.
One of the first factors to consider when you’re designing an eCommerce website or an app is accessibility. Making it easy for businesses to log in, especially on mobile, can go a long way in improving UX. It’s important to balance this with security, so trustworthy (yet effortless) features like fingerprint scans go a long way.
Increasingly, apps are shifting to mobile connectivity, which can be fairly handy if you’re on the go. This is also why eCommerce mobile app testing features are a necessity when picking the appropriate app. HubSpot and Shopify have great features, especially when paired with Google Analytics. These can give you a decent idea of how the mobile side of your store looks and performs.
Similarly, businesses may find a use for these features:
- Analytics dashboard
- A dedicated Customer Management back-end
- Billing and Accounting tools
- Customer service options
- Q&A section, FAQs, or user manuals
eCommerce Trends & Popular Platform Features
The most popular eCommerce platform in the US is Shopify, with the most popular site being Amazon (unsurprisingly). Calculating the top eCommerce platform in Europe is a bit more complicated. Many regions have their own local sites such as Bol in the Netherlands or Allegro in Poland. Similarly, Shopify and Woocommerce are popular but play second fiddle to Magento, Prestashop, etc. in many areas.
The most popular ones in Europe are far more open-source it seems, depending on the region. The most important features can also vary heavily from the American market because European laws like the GDPR can bootstrap a lot of platforms, so it’s advantageous to have a malleable system. Similarly, payment methods in Europe vary wildly, which can lead to a preference for less rigid platforms that can adapt to different countries’ standards.
In terms of technological trends, eCommerce search algorithms are currently implementing a lot more machine learning. This may create an environment where trends shift and react to customer behavior more quickly. The best eCommerce algorithms can also understand semantic search but provide the flexibility for overriding (in case they’re producing undesirable results).
Personalization & Advantages
Personalization in accounts is also a necessary feature these days as users have come to expect it. There are good reasons to implement it as it has advantages for the consumer, the seller, and the platform.
One of the primary benefits of personalization is the ability to better serve the customer. Aside from catering the service to their needs, digital interactions can feel a bit stiff. Thus, the use of things like the customer’s name in an email can be a bit more human and personal (if not taken too far).
Customer data is also handy in building an effective understanding of your audience. This way you can focus your store on the products that most apply to your key consumers. It also helps establish your eCommerce store or platform as an ideal place for certain types of sellers.
The most necessary data points for implementing personalization include:
- Website traffic, bounce, and exit rates.
- On-site interactions (category and product page visits).
- Wishlists or bookmarked products.
- Social media and email accounts.
- Personal data via cookies (or even cookie-less).
- Paid Media Pixels (both social and search).
- Search history.
eCommerce Services & Promotional Tips
Nowadays, an easy way to give yourself a boost is through social media users with an established following. Here are some basic promotional tools you should know about:
Best eCommerce marketing channels are still Search Engines
The primary channel should be Google search as most product hunts start there. Platforms for SEO, such as SEMrush or Ahrefs, can come in handy here.
It’s worth noticing that visual search for eCommerce is becoming increasingly important. We’ve previously covered the importance of image search optimization and how to do it right, but the gist is that Google images and image search, in general, are a great way to redirect traffic into sales.
Additionally, do not underestimate the ability of schema to attract customers using visually impactful Google search entries. This can help with standard search results but also with getting your results to pop up in the product category. Here’s a handy link for inserting the code if you’ll need it.
Another way to make optimize search engine strategies is by entering keywords associated with related products. Here’s an example from when someone searches for some music equipment:
When I search for a specific piece of equipment, semi-related products and different bundles for the same product also show up. This can be a handy way of getting customers interested in what you offer while displaying the prices in a way they can easily compare.
Targeted eCommerce Marketing Channels
Email strategies also harness some of the benefits of personalization in eCommerce. While email is great for sending paid ads, it also has remarketing potential. It’s a great way to remind customers that they have items in their cart or that related products to the ones they purchased are available.
PPC ads can be very effective, especially if you’re advertising a sale. It is particularly effective in targeting certain segments with very specific products. Its main advantage is utilizing a platform like Google to find the best customers.
If you need to put a face to your company, you might need to hire a charismatic personality. That’s where eCommerce influencers come in (you can learn more about the ins and outs of influencer marketing here). Influencers with specific niches might be able to promote your store if it has a specific target. Another less direct alternative is to advertise (with PPC or video ads) on the influencer’s Instagram or YouTube channel.
Consumers are becoming savvier by the day and it shows in the eCommerce packaging trends. The vast increase in demand for platforms that offer environmentally-friendly solutions and sustainable eCommerce packaging bears this out.
While sustainable packaging is all the rage, there are also a growing number of companies that provide packaging solutions. They can give online stores unique, branded packaging designs with custom-printed logos or insignias. These can also serve as promotional tools on their own while providing diverse packaging options.
If you are running your own webstore, you might be looking for new ways to optimize it for maximum engagement. Some subtle tweaks can give you a boost on all major search engines (or if you don’t want to wade into all that, SEO is a service that we offer, incidentally).
Here are a bunch of ways you can optimize your webshop:
- Platforms with SEO Advantages: The best eCommerce platform for SEO is still Shopify. It gives a lot of businesses an edge in rankings but that also means you’ll have more competition on it from similar stores. Choose according to your industry and region.
- Optimize images: We mentioned visual search earlier. Putting meta-tags, appropriately cataloguing files, and using original images does wonders for redirecting visual search traffic right to your store.
- Optimize for mobile: Test your website on tablets and mobile phones. Features for assisting with this can vary on different platforms and CRMs.
- Tagging Strategy: As mentioned earlier, aside from your own product, tag in related keywords so you can net searches for complementary goods as well. Keywords should focus on product descriptions, product categories, prices, discounts, deals, and much more.
- Add Content: Pictures are a great start but videos should go alongside them if possible. Reviews can also be helpful.