Online business is booming
Both online customers and ecommerce sites enjoyed a boom last year and the trend seems to be continuing into 2013. Where we were once scared of shopping online lest our identity or our credit card details were stolen, and against all the odds of a very flat economy, we seem to spending more and more money online. It could be because the days of horridly hard-to-read sites and aggressive pop ups are now gone, giving way to subtler and gentler personalised online marketing. I short, we are experiencing the joys of tailor made, pleasurable online retail therapy. The marketing tools used today are so fine-tuned and scientifically able to interpret buyer behaviour and data, that ecommerce sites have evolved almost beyond recognition.
But as much as ecommerce has evolved since the advent of Amazon in the early nineties, it is obvious as we move from last year into the next, that online trends are evolving at a breakneck speed. As consumers bound from one novelty to another, it is proving to be a tough year for ecommerce sites, because they must keep up. There are now more ways of connecting to the internet than ever before, and today’s consumer is very savvy, fickle and wilful when it comes to web browsing and shopping. There is great hope however, as the technology does seem to be keeping up with the consumers and so 2013 will definitely prove an interesting year, as we see how well online business can dominate their ever shifting markets. The two main trends to watch out for this year are mobile-optimised commerce and personalised online retail.
In 2013, the trends in Smartphone browsing and shopping have surprised even the cleverest of ecommerce bloggers. Ever since mobile shopping sprung up when the first smartphones hit the markets – the iPhone being the most influential – pieces have been written about this trend, but even the most intelligent prediction did not prepare us sufficiently. The online consumer is an ever more demanding animal, and where our home computers had been offering us personalised and tailor made shopping experiences, we now expect the same from our tablet and mobile apps and sites. We want the same offers and discounts specific to our busy lives and our geographical location and we want to view them seamlessly from our mobiles. A forward thinking ecommerce business will now provide for mobile users on all platforms, on top of mobile optimised pages that load quickly and can be navigated with ease.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes
The online consumer is impatient and will not hang about for a site to load if it’s weighed down with heavy graphics or other elements that prevent easy viewing. Mobile screens are small and trying to read a full size website intended for a huge computer screen will have your customers give up in two seconds flat. You need to cater for every possibility and all devices, because your customer will now be logging on from their work computers, their smartphones and their laptops or tablets – all in one day. Your marketing strategy must incorporate this by tracking your customers’ activity and profiles on the different devices they are using, and then bringing the information together for a targeted sale.
When I visit Amazon or eBay and log in with my details, I automatically get shown items that I have recently or previously browsed. I also get sent emails telling me if an item I have been viewing has gone down in price. This kind of personalised marketing is not new, of course, many ecommerce sites have been employing it for years. It has, however, taken until now to grow on people. At first perhaps considered somewhat intrusive, consumers who now have less and less time in their day for shopping, suddenly appreciate direct offers more than they did, say, five year ago. Opinions still vastly differ on personalisation, but the negative voices are giving way to customers who see it as a benefit rather than an invasive or suspect practice. More and more industry sectors, like online gaming, are jumping on the bandwagon, whilst leisure, travel and media have of course been there for some time. The fact remains then, that personalisation is not only here to stay, but will be spreading to other areas like charity organisations or luxury designer brands.
How does personalisation work?
Consumers share personal information online and this is used by retailers for marketing and selling. Your geographical location, your gender, age, educational level, marital status, number of children, whether you have a car or a pension plan, etc. can all be used by an online business to hone their offers to you. Some might use very basic information, relying on two or three factors like age, sex and job description, whilst some companies use extremely complex formulas or algorithms. Either way, the newsletters, offers and the personalised page that opens when you log into a site, will differ from those of your neighbour.
The next big thing will be loyalty points. Think about customer loyalty cards traditionally employed by airlines or large supermarkets chains. Many companies now, for example Salsa Jeans, offer their customers a loyalty account scheme which works both for in-store and online purchases. The data gleaned from the loyalty scheme forms, their high street shop purchases and online browsing is all collected together to allow the companies to further personalise the shopping experiences they offer their customers and make more specific offers that are far likelier to convert into sales.
Author Bio: Quinn Frugal comes to the advantage of those in the lookout for coupon codes and deals which accounts to be money saving. With BehindTheCounter, Quinn has aided to the plight of many who struggle to save money day in and day out.