In times like these, it can be comforting to focus on things that never change like taxes, the undying love of your labrador, or the breakneck rate of change in eCommerce trends. 

Don’t look at these developments as things you should have been doing yesterday. Instead, get excited about the possibilities and get curious about how you could leverage them for even better results. 

Omnichannel shopping

One of the most written about trends of the past couple of months (pre COVID, at least) is that of online eCommerce retailers striking out into the bricks and mortar business. 

The buzzword is omnichannel retail offerings and what it boils down to is giving your customers lots of different ways to shop with you. 

The big but, though, is that it needs to be seen as an investment. It’s about activating your brand in an interesting way. Perhaps it’s a showroom, or an exclusive atelier of your high-end product. Maybe it’s a member’s only website for VIP customers, or a social media channel devoted to the interesting ways your product can be used. 

The point is that the more you can extend your brand offering beyond a single snazzy webpage, the more you can capture attention, sales and loyalty. 

Yes, it is still possible to operate an omnichannel strategy in a socially distant world.

The principles are the same. You drill down on your unique selling proposition and brainstorm ways to extend it into online destinations that complement your current channel. 

Tools at your disposal:

  • Your current customer base (too many brands are afraid to straight-up ask their customers what they want),
  • Social Media (you can create distinct offerings on different platforms),
  • Breakout websites, 
  • Your staff (too many brands are also scared of asking their workers what they really think), 
  • Video, 
  • Partnerships with other brands. 

The possibilities are close to endless if you think strategically and use what’s in front of you. 

Frictionless payment

When Facebook published their most important trends for 2020, this got top billing. 

By now customers are really used to shopping online. That’s good news in terms of intent, but bad news if your buying journey isn’t seamless.

And we mean seamless. Think about how easy it is to order off UberEats or purchase something using ApplePay. While it’s not fair to compare either of those things with traditional eCommerce, the reality is that your customer is doing exactly that. 

So that’s your standard. Make it as easy for the customer to buy from your store as it is for them to order on UberEats. 

Not convinced? On average, 70% of customers abandon their carts and 28% of them do so because the check-out process is too long. 

The easier you make it for the customer to go from intent to purchase, the more money you make. It should be as easy as a sneeze. 

Here are some top hints: 

  • The checkout should involve a maximum of two steps, one if possible, 
  • If possible, get them to make the purchase before adding their delivery details, 
  • For the love of god, do not make them create an account to purchase something,
  • Yes, we know UberEats does that, but not at the point of purchase and that’s the key distinction. 

Chatbots

People love chatbots and you should, too. They’re incredibly powerful tools for a few reasons but here’s an illustration of our favourite. 

The very first chatbot was called ELIZA and was made in an MIT lab in the 1960s. The guy who created it, Joseph Weizenbaum, got his secretary to test it out and she quickly forged a strong emotional connection with the program. 

Now, ELIZA was a very basic bot. All it did was mirror the language of humans in a similar way to very simple talk therapy. 

“I’m feeling sad today.” You’d type.

“You’re feeling sad today. Tell me about that.” ELIZA would reply.

When Weizenbaum first asked his secretary to test the bot, she began sceptically. Very soon, though, she turned to the professor and asked him to leave the room. She wanted to talk to ELIZA privately. 

By today’s standards, ELIZA was very primitive, but this story demonstrates that humans will forge very strong relationships with even the simplest chatbots. 

Here are some ideas for chatbots:

  • Make a bot rather than an FAQs page, 
  • Make your bot available on every page on your site,
  • We created a WIFI router naming bot for Dodo, 
  • Use Facebook’s native chatbot. Yes, it’s simple, but so was ELIZA, 
  • Keep it consistent and genuinely useful (fancy is a bonus not a barrier to entry). 

Personalised product visualisation

One of the key objections to an online purchase is that you can’t be really sure that the product will suit your needs unless you see it on your body or in your space. 

Product visualisation is another powerful tool that helps the customer feel confident enough to press the purchase button. 

This can seem like a tricky thing to implement unless you’re Ikea, but in reality you don’t have to spend half your yearly turnover to do it well.  

Speaking of Ikea, they have a function on their website that allows you to furnish a room as if it were The Sims but with things you don’t want to burn down. To be honest, it’s not even that shmick. It just gives the customer a tool to decide whether a particular product is right for them. 

Some other possibilities are trying on glasses using AR. Again, sounds fancy. But really it’s not that much different to creating an AR filter on Snapchat. Or it doesn’t have to be. 

Of course, if you’re going to invest in this then you really need to invest. But, if you focus on utility and your USP rather than technological whizzbangery, you don’t need to sell your soul for it. 

So there you have it, our top trends for eCommerce. Do you have anything to add? Have we missed something? Get in touch!