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5 Ecommerce Technology Trends to Grow Your Retail Business

October 7, 2019
ALEX SLOBOZHAN
It's not enough to create a free eCommerce website to enter the online retail market. It's a growing and evolving industry that opens vast opportunities but requires constant awareness, research, and sometimes even custom eCommerce development to stay ahead of the game.

Whether you are new to eCommerce or a seasoned owner of a B2B eCommerce platform, let me share five trends that can instantly transform your online retail business. Some of them offer expense reduction, others open new revenue streams, and you can choose which one suits your business needs most.

Combine Web and Mobile Experience in a PWA

According to Google, 53% of users leave a website if it takes over three seconds to load. Extended loading time, unresponsive design, and the need to zoom in to handle tiny controls drive customers away from mobile shopping through a browser. However, retail apps are often even worse.

Progressive web apps (PWA) are the answer to your retail business prayers. This hybrid technology combines the benefits of online stores and mobile apps without taking any downsides on board. Consider eCommerce development of a PWA if you want your mobile solution to

  • Load 2 to 10 times faster than a mobile version of your online store
  • Be added to a home screen without the need for app store download
  • Possess offline capabilities for locations with unreliable network access
  • Have push notification functionality to increase customer engagement
Lancome reaped the benefits of transforming their mobile website into a PWA. Mobile sessions went up 51% while the conversion rate increased by 17%. Push notifications helped the company solve the abandoned cart problem.

Embrace Business Automation with AI

With the ever-increasing number of SKUs and customers, the volume of data grows. However, existing eCommerce solutions can rarely handle its analysis and produce actionable conclusions. Machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence systems can provide much-needed assistance to
  • Create product description content for thousands of new SKUs every day (Alibaba uses AI technology to generate 20,000 lines of copy per second).
  • Generate customized shopping recommendations for customers based on their purchase and browsing history (Amazon is the prime example of this technology).
  • Identify best-sellers and laggers in each category to tailor marketing strategies and increase sales (Stokes relied on a similar solution to increase online sales by 26% in under 12 months).
Machine learning Ecommerce development coupled with Big Data opens a treasure trove of business growth opportunities. We've covered some of them in previous posts, including the use of Google OR-Tools and Business Intelligence solutions.

Track and Deal with Serial Returners

Return rates for online shopping vary from 15% to 30%, while they don't go above 8% for offline shopping. As consumers continue to rely on free returns to purchase items online, their returns reached $400 billion in 2017 after seeing a 53% increase over a two-year period. Considering 10% of all holiday purchases are returned, it's no wonder December 26 has become the day of most returns.

If your return rates are getting out of hand, custom eCommerce development can implement automated solutions to track shopping habits, identify serial returners, and set a maximum number of free returns for individual shoppers based on a series of constraints or triggers. Software solutions to deal with returns can free up significant resources, save time, and reduce expenses for shipping and handling.

Amazon devised and implemented a lifetime ban policy for serial returners in 2018. Home Depot, Best Buy, and other retailers monitor each customer's return habits and automatically prevent excessive returns. Other companies rely on brick and mortar locations that allow customers to pick up and return online purchases.

Make Most of Omnichannel Sales

According to Omnichannel Buying Report 2018, Amazon is the most popular shopping channel used by 78% of survey responders within the last six months. It is closely followed by offline shopping (65%) and online stores (45%). However, other channels, such as Facebook (11%), Instagram (6%), and Snapchat (4%) are gaining ground. Even the largest retailers see the benefits of embracing the power of omnichannel sales, and your business can only benefit from making your products available across all media used by your customers.

When dealing with omnichannel sales, many businesses struggle with handling stock inventory and orders across the board. That's where B2B commerce sites and services come in handy. I can't name the best eCommerce platform for omnichannel sales, but you could try BigCommerce or Veeqo. Custom development of an omnichannel selling solution is also an option.

    Go from Online Store to Marketplace

    Amazon is one of the largest online retailers, but half of the products the website sells are from third-party sellers. While only 12% of online retailers are marketplaces, 32% consider transforming their websites into marketplaces. It's no surprise, considering 18 of the biggest global marketplaces sell over $1 trillion worth of products a year, and their market share is set to amount to 40% next year.

    Turning your website into one of the eCommerce platforms open to third-party sellers, you can
    • Attract new customers and increase traffic by offering the new product and service categories.
    • Boost customer experience and retention by becoming a one-stop solution for their online shopping needs.
    • Open new revenue streams by collecting third-party sellers' commission or creating subscription-based services.
    Some examples of successful businesses making most of the marketplace model include Walmart, Best Buy Canada, and Catch Group. Even if you don't plan on beating Amazon, adding marketplace functionality to your existing online store is a great way to increase revenue, especially if you already have solid monthly traffic.

      Stay on Top of Other Ecommerce Development Trends

      I could go on and on, but you get the idea of how electronic commerce is changing before our eyes. I'd like to note a few other retail trends that might suit your business even better than any of the developments I've mentioned. If you want more info on any of these, let me know in the comment section, and I'll be glad to answer your questions!

      The best eCommerce sites these days capitalize on

      1. Consumer ethics and activist positions to influence buying behavior. Additional information on manufacturing, eco-friendly packaging, and locally sourced materials can help you win over activist buyers and make them feel good about the things they purchase.
      2. Augmented reality capabilities of native QR code detection by Android and iOS devices. You can provide in-store customers with a chance to research your products online and make a buying decision right then and there.
      3. GPS technology and voice search features to help drivers solve problems on the go. You can suggest the best route and direct customers to your local outlets without wasting their time.
      4. Automated CMS systems to publish content across all selling channels. Content syndication will uphold your brand image and identity across the online store, marketplaces, social media, and any other channels.
      5. Subscription-based services and product bundles. You can reduce customer churn and improve customer lifetime value by offering long-term subscription options.

      Takeaway

      At Freshcode, we stay on top of eCommerce software trends and best practices and help our partners reap the business benefits of implementing them. To recap, I'd suggest you pay attention to these developments to stay on ahead of the pack:

      1. Improve mobile user experience and increase engagement by transforming your mobile website into a progressive web app.
      2. Implement machine learning or AI solutions to automate product content creation, track customer behavior, and offer customized recommendations.
      3. Automate the returns tracking system to identify serial returners and limit their harmful impact on your bottom line.
      4. Embrace the power of omnichannel sales to tie online and offline shopping experience together and increase revenue.
      5. Add marketplace features to your online store, invite third-party sellers to make most of your traffic, and open new revenue streams.
      6. Stay on top of emerging eCommerce trends to beat the competition and evolve along with the customers' needs.
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