By: Tristan Anwyn
eCommerce is becoming a vital part of many businesses. Consumers appreciate the ability to browse and buy what they want on the go and out of hours, fitting shopping in with their busy lives.
The internet marketing experts at Emarketer estimate that by the end of 2013, eCommerce sales in the U.S. will generate $262.3 worth of sales, an impressive 16.4% higher than last year. 2014 promises to be an exciting year for eCommerce in the U.S.
With that in mind, it is time to take a look at some of the biggest trends on the horizon for the next year in eCommerce.
eCommerce Becomes More Engaging
Consumers no longer want a simple shopping experience when it comes to eCommerce.
These days, there is a growing trend towards making Ecommerce more entertaining and engaging for consumers. The rising popularity of sites like Pinterest shows that consumers want to browse, discuss and admire products rather than simply buying.
Retail giant Walmart have already picked up on this trend and integrated it into their site, with a Trending Now tab that encourages visitors to browse current popular products.
"This creates flexibility for the site to cater to the different types of customers who visit us. Some come to shop online for specific products, others come to browse and discover," said a Walmart spokesperson.
The tactic certainly seems to be working, with conversion rates on the Trending Now tab almost double conversion rates on the site overall.
The future of eCommerce is likely to see a move towards more games, interactive elements and social activities centered on browsing for and discussing products.
This reflects the growing change in consumer behavior, away from simply buying products to searching for an authentic and engaging experience.
Seamless Cross Channel and Mobile Integration
With 81% of Smartphone users accessing the internet on their phones, the ability to adapt to a wide range of devices is going to be a vital part of eCommerce going into 2014.
Many users will research a product on their phones, then buy it through a PC or by visiting a store, while others might see a product in a store, then go home and buy it via their phone.
This means that seamless browsing, saving of favorite products, and shopping across platforms are becoming an important part of any eCommerce presence.
There are growing indications that Smartphone sales may become one of the most profitable avenues for merchants. Wedding ring retailer My Trio Rings reports that the amount spent in a Smartphone transaction tends to be as much 12% more than sales through other mediums.
The trend towards browsing and shopping while mobile has caused some problems for retailers who struggle to compete with online prices while paying bricks and mortar overheads.
Customers are increasingly likely to browse in-store, but buy elsewhere online if the price is better. For retailers who can tap into this growing market and grow their eCommerce division however, things are looking good.
Personalizing the eCommerce Experience
Good customer service and building a trusting relationship with clients are becoming more and more important as customers expect more connections and more personalized shopping experiences.
Re-creating the experience of great customer service online without face to face interactions is a challenge eCommerce traders need to rise to if they are to build brand loyalty among their customers.
Tailoring an eCommerce site to the needs of its users can be relatively simple, such as Domino's "Pizza Profile" which saves a customer's favorites and orders, making the checkout experience smoother.
On the other end of the scale, dedicated sites such as Fab.com and Shoe Dazzle offer a detailed personalized experience, making recommendations based on a customer's shopping and browsing habits.
By the end of 2014, retailers expect to see further growth in the burgeoning eCommerce market.
Merchants who can follow the trends to offer a more interactive, personal and enjoyable shopping experience will reap the rewards in terms of increased sales and customer loyalty.
About the Author: Tristan Anwyn is an author who writes on subjects as diverse as health, marketing, accounting software, and SEO.