The Best Way To Stay On Top? Learn About Ecommerce Trends and Predictions.

2014 is here! We hope that this brave new year has started successfully for you and your store. The stage is set for 2014 to be a rip-roaring twelve months for ecommerce, with the emergence and continuation of many important and fascinating trends.

Here's our run-down of the important trends we think you need to watch this year.

1. Mobile will dominate!

This probably comes as no surprise. Today's customer is increasingly using mobile devices to make purchases online. Did you know that mobile sales grew by more than 40% from Black Friday 2012 to 2013?

We predict that this trend will develop even further in the coming year, so it's never been more important to ensure that your store is optimized to be used easily across all devices.

In anticipation of this trend, our design and production team has custom design services available to build custom responsive sites that work great on desktops, tablets and mobile devices.

2. Customers will buy more personalized, unique products

Customers are increasingly shying away from 'run-of-the-mill' products, in favor of unique, personalized stuff that truly reflects their personality. A growing number of retailers are coming to understand this need, and offering added product customization options; engravings, customizable color, name printing, and more.

This creates a great opportunity for smaller businesses to compete against the big guys. Take some time to consider how you can personalize your product to make it even more personal and capitalize on this trend!

3. Great content marketing will become even more important

Content is a vital cog in your marketing strategy, for several reasons...and this year, it's more important than ever, because we anticipate that more and more people will be making it a priority. According to this study, 82% of marketers plan to increase their content marketing budget in 2014.

Of course, this includes the content that appears on your product pages, each of which is a delicate balance. The challenge is to include all the essential information -- enough to draw in your customer -- without boring them, or making your page so copy-heavy it needs more than one click to read (particularly important given point 1!)

But more than this, we're talking about the creation of additional content, which is becoming mega-important in many industries. Think blogs, infographics, articles and e-books.

By investing a little time into creating these resources, you can unlock some truly great benefits:

  • Develop an authoritative, trustworthy voice
  • Showcase your unique expertise
  • Improve your page's SEO ranking by writing around popular keyword terms
  • Engage your visitor more deeply than ever
  • Grow your e-mail list and generate new leads.
  • This is still an underutilized area by many small businesses, but that's slowly changing. Make sure you get in ahead of your competitors!

4. Design trends will continue to evolve

Design trends are constantly on the move, so this probably comes as no surprise.

Sites will become more responsive in the coming year, with added emphasis on cross-device functionality and finger-friendliness (see point 1!) We also anticipate more use of video and rich content, as mobile video use is on the rise in a huge way. More generally, flat design is in vogue at the moment, shunning the use of drop shadow and concentrating on strong colors, and interesting, brand-supporting fonts.

We'll be blogging about awesome store design in more detail soon!

5. Shipping options will become more of a deal-breaker

Clearly, one of the major reasons a customer might shop locally -- instead of using your store -- is that they want that product now, and they're not crazy about having to pay extra shipping fees for the privilege of waiting. Would free, fast shipping make a difference? You bet!

A recent study revealed that a whopping 80% of users would be more likely to purchase products online if they were offered free shipping...and 66% if they were offered one-day shipping.

Yup, shipping is a prickly issue, and retailers are starting to take action to address it. One report showed that 68% of retailers are currently offering next day delivery, compared to 61% last year. That's why it's critical that you try to find creative ways to make this easier on your customer -- or your competitor will!

Consider shipping offers based on minimum purchase amounts where you might promote "Free shipping on orders over $50".

6. Customers will expect world-class support and assistance

As the old saying goes, there are no traffic jams along the extra mile! As brilliant as your store is, sometimes your customers will need assistance -- it's inevitable. In a bricks-and-mortar store, they can ask sales assistants for help. Increasingly, users are coming to expect that same level of support online.

You're probably already offering help to your customers by phone and email, but why not make it even easier for your visitors and offer a live chat solution? This gives you a great chance to uniquely engage the customer, offer them the help and assistance they need, and ensure their transaction gets nudged over that finish line!

From our experience, live chat converts people with questions into buyers by providing immediate, relevant, and relational support during their buying process.

7. Shopping and Social will become more interconnected than ever!

Gone are the days when just having a site and a way to take credit cards, was a recipe for e-commerce success. These days, it's all about being flexible enough to be exactly where your customers are, engaging them and making the experience easy for them.

Social media offers a huge opportunity for businesses of all shapes and sizes -- not only to reach potential customers, but to allow your fans to market for you, by sharing their favorite products. Here at AmeriCommerce we're embracing this trend -- for example, your customers can see all your products and place an order without even leaving Facebook when you use our Facebook theme, which comes free for every store.

So, that's what we think's gonna be hot in 2014. Check out our range of tools to help you move your store with the times!

And check out this post if you've been thinking about starting a rewards program for your store.

Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments section! And, of course, have a very happy and successful 2014... we'll be with you every step of the way!

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