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The 8 most exciting advances in ecommerce

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1. Subscription models

Repeat sales online without additional effort and marketing spend. Easy ROI.

Product subscriptions are convenient and exciting for the customer. They are also great for businesses to build long term relationships, plan stock carefully, reduce wastage and create regular touchpoints to reinforce key brand and marketing messages.

The exciting challenge with this model is to keep users engaged and make the most of the opportunity to up-sell and cross-sell with every subscribed interaction with the customer.

Leading retailers, like Hotel Chocolat, find ways to do this by delivering a regular product variant (Tasting club box of chocolates), that is different every time but within the confines of customer preferences (e.g. no dark chocolates).

*Graze went from zero to 80,000 boxes sold in the first six months. can you afford to miss out on subscription sales?

2. Advanced personalisation

Boost conversions by creating a truly customised user journey.

As technology improves and more data is available to understand customer preferences and activity, this allows considered segmentation and subsequent personalisation to become a reality and an expectation of savvy consumers in 2015.

From personalisation in the form of simple geo-recognition and delivery of relevant localised content, to complex site metrics that allow customer bahviour to define the user experience wherever they go.

Deliver content to your users based on who they are, where they are, what they have in their basket, what keyword they searched for, purchase history etc...There are many parameters from which to achieve effective personalisation.

*93% of companies report an uplift in conversions when implementing website personalisation.

3. Fantastic fulfilment

Exceed customer expectation with fast and convenient delivery options.

The demand to deliver a consistent online and offline customer experience means that 2015 is sure to continue with the popularity of innovative cross-channel fulfilment mechanisms.

  • Click & Collect/Click & Reserve
  • Collect Plus
  • Same-day Rapid Fulfilment (e.g. Shutl)
  • Split deliveries in a single order

No longer will it be appropriate to deliver in 3-5 days if the market leaders, like our customer Hotel Chocolat, can have chocolates in front of you in a few hours.

*45% of UK online consumers used Click & Collect for Christmas shopping in 2014.

4. B2B ecommerce innovation

The number of B2B businesses trading online is rising fast.

More traditional manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers than ever are offering line purchasing to their trade customers. With this demand comes the innovation to offer a full suite of B2B functions in ecommerce sites.

Multiple pricelists to delvier account specific pricing to users, master and sub accounts to allow larger customers with multiple ordering locations to be tracked together, payment on account, pay invoices online, and more.

It has become a great way to stand out against the competition. For businesses it can even tip the balance in winning new accounts if customers can order online.

* Global B2B sales online will reach $6.7 trillion by 2020. Don't fall behind the inevitable trend.

5. CRO through creative promotions

28% of consumers spend more! 25% make purchases they would otherwise not have made!

Replicating the multi-offer experience in high street stores, online retailers should be creative and promote a full range of offers online tailored to customer preferences and constantly changing to maintain excitement.

It is more important now than ever to connect up the experience in-store and online. Here are a few ideas: Buy X get a free gift, multi-buy discounted unit price, Buy X get Y free, Spend £X get free delivery, and many more...

*A recent survey showed 60% of shoppers would change behaviour because of a promotion.

6. Commercialisation of content

It costs to create it so make sure your precious, rich content converts sales.

Whether it is a blog post, white paper, product guide, image gallery, product video or whatever you upload to excite your users, this year we can see retailers making sure it converts by using carefully placed merchandising zones to promote products related to the content subject.

To take it a step further add in advanced personalisation so products shown relate to the user's actions on the site (terms searched, items in basket etc...) and consider the user profile, their preferences and buying history.

*50% of consumers say good content has a positive impact on purchase decisions.

7. User generated content

If content is king then the content creators are gods.

We all know the resource challenge and cost for businesses to continually create rich content for the site, pleasing users and Google alike.

Savvy marketers are realising that the users themselves can become the content creators by ensuring on-site interactions are prominently promoted and supported with user product/content reviews, blog post comments, forum discussions and product Q&A.

Carefully moderated this can add a huge volume of fresh content on an on-going basis for free.

*18-36 year olds say user-generated content is 20% more influential on their purchase decisions than other media.

8. Creating 'pain of disconnect'

Influence users to be loyal with an engaging community experience.

We have seen companies like Naked Wines and our own client, Winsor & Newton, take on the challenge to convince users to return by allowing them to build a profile, follow other users, like and share content (i.e. a mini Facebook).

This keeps interactions within the site rather than constantly referring to external sites such as the social networks.

On-site social commerce can drive sales by building repeat visits and user engagement. It also allows you to capture data (that would otherwise be a mystery to you) ready to be used in segmentation and personalisation at a later date.

*Consumers are no longer brand loyal, but they may be loyal to the engagement experience that a particular brand offers.


Sources
Centre for Retail Research - http://www.retailresearch.org/onlineretailing.php
Office for National Statistics - http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/rsi/retail-sales/january-2015/stb-rsi-january-2015.html
Internet Retailer - https://www.internetretailer.com/2015/02/05/global-b2b-online-sales-are-projected-grow-67-trillion
IMRG - http://www.imrg.org/member-content/global-consumer-shopping-habits/
SmartBlog on Social Media - http://smartblogs.com/social-media/2014/04/11/5-surprising-stats-about-user-generated-content
Nielsen Insights - http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2009/global-advertising-consumers-trust-real-friends-and-virtual-strangers-the-most.html
Forbes - http://www.forbes.com/sites/glennllopis/2014/12/10/consumers-are-no-longer-brand-loyal

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