The e-commerce industry is fast-paced, not just because consumers and online shoppers are constantly shifting but also because competing designers and brands are evolving too. The movement of most users to mobile, for instance, has changed the market considerably. We’ve also seen elements like parallax scrolling, scrollbars, navigation menus and much more rise and fall.
It’s a constantly changing space, and that means you need to be ready to adapt and evolve to stay on top of modern trends. But how exactly do online sales trends influence your design process? What strategies and elements should you be most concerned about?
Up first on the list, as you may have expected, is mobile development and mobile user support. This can come in several forms including mobile browser support and mobile application support – native or otherwise.
Mobile overtook desktop traffic some time ago and in 2017 is expected to make up 75% of all Internet use. Clearly, you’ll miss out if your content and design are not optimized for mobile. On-the-go users need to be your core focus.
2. Chatbots and One-to-One Messaging
Go to one of the major retailers’ websites, and you’ll see a chat window somewhere. At first, the system is automated through the use of a tool called chatbots. When the system cannot interact accurately anymore, the conversation is handed over to a customer service rep.
Chatbots and one-to-one messaging tools allow you to be available to your customers 24/7. Theses AI-based platforms can often answer simple queries, help with account info and converse with potential patrons.
If you have the resources, work on deploying a messaging system, whether you staff it with a human or a chatbot.
3. Content and Advice
Even if you feel the goods and services you offer need no explanation, some customers prefer to see a description of what they are. An interesting product description gives you the opportunity to frame your item how you like and inspire your customer about how to use the product.
Whatever the case, content – visual or otherwise – is an excellent way to achieve this. You could produce videos that show off several ways to use a product or provide text content that acts as a guide.
This accomplishes a couple of things. First, it shows your customers and potential clients what they can use your products and services for, providing more inherent value. Second, it keeps them engaged and encourages them to return to your site for your stellar content. It’s a win-win any way you look at it.
4. Social Selling and Crowdsourced Auctions
Recently, Facebook implemented a new feature for brands and merchants that allow them to list and display products in their inventory. But even before that was possible, you could still conduct social selling campaigns. You can do this on other social media sites as well.
On Instagram, for instance, you could post a picture and brief description of a product with a direct link to your store page. You can do the same on Pinterest, Twitter and even Tumblr. If you really want to boost engagement, you can hold a contest, promotion or auction which encourages competition.
Just know that it’s becoming more common to use your social media accounts as sales tools, as opposed to just conventional marketing.
Today’s online shoppers expect fast and reasonably priced or free shipping. You can offset the costs of providing this service by setting limitations. Amazon, for instance, saves two-day shipping for their Prime members and makes only orders over a certain threshold free for regular customers.
This model works well for the retail giant. It’s created something known as the “Amazon Effect,” in which other e-commerce brands strive to keep up with Amazon’s shipping policies or choose to become a seller in the Amazon marketplace. Even though Amazon has a huge influence, you don’t have to mirror its policies exactly. Figure out what works best for your customers and business model.
Accounts are much more useful and exciting for customers if you offer personalization and customization options. By allowing customers to enter preferences such as theme customization options you are providing them with a space that feels more personal.
Even something as simple as allowing customers to choose the background color for your website makes a difference. People who hate browsing sites with bright, vibrant colors can dumb them down and vice versa.
7. Omnichannel Support
In the past, you might have seen traffic from one or two platforms, primarily search engine referrals. Today that is not the case. In fact, you probably have traffic coming from so many different channels and platforms that it’s tough to keep track of at times.
Difficult or not, providing omnichannel support – seamlessly – is necessary. Customers will be coming from a variety of platforms, looking for an experience tailored to them, and you need to deliver. Whether your traffic is mainly coming from search results, Facebook, Twitter, affiliate links or other sources, you need to ensure that everyone has a positive experience.
As the habits of online shoppers change, so do their definitions of a ‘positive experience.’ By keeping up with online sales trends and applying the insights you gain from this to your web design, you’ll end up with happier, more engaged customers – even as things inevitably continue to change.
Lexie Lu is a designer and writer. She loves researching trends in the web and graphic design industry. She writes weekly on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.