Ecommerce Trends 2018
An ecommerce framework or application that is stable and simple could be the difference in improving customer experience. Therefore, driving sales opportunities, increasing organisational agility, overall functionality and services offered to customers will be easier in the future. The ecommerce application you choose should be resilient enough and be able to adapt to changing B2B ecommerce trends.
Companies interested in buying wholesale inventory have previously relied heavily on printed catalogues, telesales teams and sales people who would visit them. Much has changed since then, especially with the rise of B2B ecommerce. B2B ecommerce continues to be a hot topic, and ecommerce applications that serve these growing trends and interests continue to increase.
What’s changed with ecommerce?
According to Forrester Research, in 2015 B2B ecommerce was responsible for $780 million USD in revenue and they predict a continued growth of $1.13 trillion USD. This remarkable growth is may be the result of intense digital transformation and growing reliance on online means of ordering, social sharing, and technological penetration. Interestingly, 74% of B2B buyers research half or more of their work purchases online, and 93% of business buyers prefer to buy online when they’ve decided what to buy, according to Forrester. There are a number of trends that facilitate continued growth, often functionality that is seemingly “irrelevant” for B2B customers somehow find their usefulness to this market. How come? According to Big Commerce, a B2C oriented website nevertheless sparks the same interest from B2B buyers (even if that wasn’t the intention). This may be due to the research conducted by B2B buyers, who encounter B2C sites that may become suppliers. Forrester reports that 79% of companies have set up a dedicated ecommerce website to ensure that B2B buyers have a particular channel available to them, that run in parallel to their B2C ecommerce website. Consequently, Forbes reported that B2B buyers expect relatively the same standard of delivery expediency such as: just-in-time delivery, automated replenishment, partial delivery, multi-warehouse shipping, and returns management. 69% of B2B companies will no longer print catalogues in the next five years, reported Forrester. With the increasing focus on digital commerce, Gartner predicts that by 2020 85% of the relationships with a company will proceed without a single interaction with a human being. Demand for functionality, trends, and their respective expectations are coming at a high cost for those ecommerce webshops that are not able to service the growing demands of B2B buyers. To enable B2B-focused webshops to cater and support
Align your webshop with current ecommerce trends
There are a number of avenues your business can take, to support growing trends and build the ultimate ecommerce experience that actually helps customers make purchases. Some of the most effective and sought-after include: personalisation, customer engagement & CRM, Data-driven optimisations and pricing scales.
If WOW’ing your customers has been a strong motivation for you, and if their loyalty plays a big part in your business model, personalisation should lie at the forefront of your ecommerce roadmap. Personalisation is focused on improving and bettering individual customer experience. Customer experience is the art of providing customers with an assortment of relevant functionality such as efficient shipping, dynamic pricing and a short ways-to-product. Often webshops invest considerably in UX (user experience), UI (user interaction), logistics and shipping, and customer service to empower customers towards actually purchasing.
Personalisation pertains to another assortment of requirements that focus on merchandising. In order for B2B companies to provide a customers with personalised experience, webshops use a variety of means to gather data that is contextually relevant to the person who is interested in it. Webshops use the following information: search queries, purchase history, shopping cart contents/wishlists, commerce behavior (shares, product ratings, likes), geographic location, and customer segments (purchase history, recommended products).
Localisation helps to tailor the content and experience of the webshop to the customer’s specific location (determined by the customer’s IP address). The idea is that the location helps to already segment aspects of the webshop, and whose contents change depending on who is using the webshop.
Other aspects like commerce behavior or purchase history often lead to relevant personalization. A state of the art ecommerce application should become increasingly tailored the more a customer uses it.
Relations with your customers allow you a chance to bridge the gap and get closer to fulfilling their needs. Once you’ve identified customer touchpoints, you can leverage and cross-sell, or recommend products that they have not yet found in your inventory. Your CRM tool (customer relationship management tool), once synchronised with all your channels of customer communication, is able to pinpoint the last email that was sent, when they bought something, when someone spoke to them in chat, and what actually was achieved. This allows you to learn your customers purchase behavior.
Your CRM can be integrated in such a way that you can even get their email correspondence, chat logs and frequency of customer support requests to determine whether this individual is an ideal candidate for loyalty programs, affiliate commission and so on. This lets you further segment customers according to their behavior and identify those who are repeat buyers with greater potential.
Build data-driven optimisations for CRO
CRO means conversion rate optimisation, which is the practise of improving the likelihood (rate) of someone buying from your webshop through the optimisation of various designs, language and texts. The usual manual approach has low effective potential, because it does not consider the intricacies of data-driven applications that collect and assemble data in a meaningful way. Data is simply sitting around and waits to be “activated” so-to-speak.
A CRO-optimised webshop removes the human touch and lets data-driven decisions take effect. There is reliable long-term data that has been collected over time (Google Analytics, ecommerce analytics, CRM, etc..) which lends continued support for data-driven decisions. Next, avoid assumptions to ensure that you are making decisions based on actual facts. Using data sources like heatmaps can provide a big advantage, knowing exactly which parts of the page appear intriguing for customers. Create categories based on what people are actually searching rather than inventing a category you assume people would like. Using Analytics and in-store data information, you can provision a functionality or service that can use this data to generate categories closely linked to your CRM, for example.
Build it Omni-channel
Omni-channel management allows brands to strategically integrate many different data sources such as customer experience, inventory, stock and a variety of APIs to extract relevant data. The collected data can afterwards be aggregated and distributed across multiple communication channels like an ecommerce platform, social media or dedicated mobile apps. Brands are multidimensional, in that they provide customers with many access points through which they can purchase their products. For example, at a warehouse location, social media marketing, through the online shop, calling in, and visiting the store. Knowing the customer journey is critical: while one channel may begin the journey, it could be that another channel is more effective at securing/closing the sale. Question is: what is the most effective channel for my business? How do customers begin their journey?
For example, a B2B buyer first encounters your products through your company’s LinkedIN page, who subsequently clicks one of the products you shared, visits your webshop and browses your selection. The buyer learns that you have a warehouse where he can acquire products you sell in bulk at reduced rates, and calls in. After some time with you he creates an account where his wholesale privileges are given, and proceeds to order from the warehouse. This journey could have lasted two days to two weeks; nevertheless, omnichannel management has allowed you to see this customer’s particular journey and you’ve learned great things about the importance of your company’s LinkedIN page as the catalyst source for that person’s purchases.
The journey is not yet over, because you need recurring purchases to maintain inventory flow and thus you activate remarketing campaigns to target the demographic of which this person belongs. Using omnichannel marketing you can toggle campaigns and their respective channels to determine which is performant. Using your CRM and data-driven optimisations, you will tailor the webshop (as a channel) specifically for this demographic.
Aligning your development initiatives with consumer demand and preferences will be the difference needed to outcompete your competition and secure customer loyalty. The window of opportunity is often small and quick reactions to consumer trends will be essential for the continued success of your business. The decisive moment is upon you right now to fulfill your customer’s needs, are you ready?
We do recommend other trends, that we have not yet spoken in this article! Getting your ecommerce solution to a state that serves customer needs is one of the most critical things you can do to speed up your webshops serviceability.