Top 4 e-commerce trends for Summer/Fall 2015
Earlier this year we worked with our partner Demac Media on a webinar and ebook series on 2015 Ecommerce Trends. After returning from IRCE our friends at Queue It are here today to share their insights on this years trends.
You’ve heard it before, and we’ll say it again. Omnichannel is still widely discussed, but focused now on improving the omnichannel experience, as opposed to simply creating it. Previously, it was popular to define the omnichannel boom as providing a seamless experience to customers across channels and devices; however, the focus is now on matching webshop performance across all channels, especially with load times, page response times, branding, and the overall customer journey, etc. Nowadays, with omnichannel retailing becoming the industry standard, customers expect that your full website will work flawlessly on whichever device they choose to access it on.
At IRCE, Jason Goldberger, the President of Target.com, shared how Target had had to learn the hard way on what it takes to be an omnichannel retailer. After trying to bulk up omnichannel presence in preparation for large campaigns, Target experienced a site outage due to a highly anticipated promotion with designer Lilly Pulitzer. Emphasizing the importance of omnichannel retailing, but also noting that Target isn’t “channel obsessed”, he summed up the Lilly Pulitzer incident as follows: “We pressure tested the hell out of our site and picked apart every part of the experience to ensure it worked flawlessly with our apps. Guests had stayed up all night to get their hands on the most coveted sundresses in the world and nothing was working. Guests using our app couldn’t get through to the bottom to make a sale. Any way you cut it, it was a big disappointment”.
Another omnichannel goal is to plan for the ‘Oprah Effect’, or your 15 minutes of fame that results in a massive load of end-users accessing your webshop on every device imaginable. While some webshops can plan for this, i.e. around an upcoming TV feature or spotlight, others don’t get the luxury of any warning. Continuous load testing and preparation is therefore essential to be able to maintain website performance, overall revenue, and consumer satisfaction during peak times. This part of your omnichannel strategy shouldn’t be overlooked, and can be created from extensive planning and calculations based upon the latest consumer statistics you have; or, you should have a good back-up plan. (Might we suggest Queue-it?)
The biggest takeaways are therefore to create your omnichannel strategy around real-time consumer data, and also attempt to accurately anticipate end-user volumes prior to large webshop campaigns or promotions. This way, the sale can be completed smoothly, end-users are happy, and campaign targets are met.
Webshop availability, with seamless integration across channels, is strongly related to the idea of personalization. E-commerce is moving away from mass, “push-based” marketing, and towards more personalized, 1:1 communication with consumers via the multitude of devices they use. During his talk on Winners and Losers in Personalization, Parker Block, VF Corp.’s Director of E-commerce, pointed out how this shift not only changes the behavior within retailing, but also increases the value of getting personalization right. He added that determining whether or not a retailer gets personalization right is strongly related to how data is used and presented to the consumers.
With omnichannel retailing, end-users now expect personalization on every device they access your webshop from. This personalization standard is derived from their original experiences accessing your webshop on a computer. This means higher expectations for tailored shopping and e-mail marketing or advertising on the mobile version of your webshop. Gone are the days when a watered down version of your webshop in mobile form was acceptable; now, shoppers expect the same webshop experience, with full access and personalization.
Big Data and Analytics
In an omnichannel world, Big Data is everywhere—you just need to know how to gather and leverage it. Marketers are now expected to know how to mine and mold it to create the most personalized shopping experiences for end-users. However, many e-retailers still miss opportunities to gather valuable data and analytics, from either skipping data collection entirely, or collecting data without a clear strategy on what to do with it. Even at Queue-it, our customers have always been able to track all of their end-user queue analytics in our customer portal, but it wasn’t until the Big Data boom that we realized how valuable the ability to do this was—and it’s now one of the first things we bring to the attention of our customers when they create their queuing strategies.
As data is everywhere, it has become an important job for marketers to find the best way to leverage this data without becoming invasive. The increasing amount of data combined with the increasing level of personalization makes it important for online retailers to strive to balance the use of customer data. Content relevance based upon consumer insights should convey a sense of discovery and inspiration. According to Parker Block’s research of more than 100 leading retail brands, balancing explicit and implicit data is the best way to getting personalization “just right”.
While many people remember Target.com for the notorious Lilly Pulitzer sale, many others also remember a previous security breach that caused major anxiety in the industry. Symantec noted that “24% of Americans stopped buying online because of recent breaches at Target, eBay and other large companies, according to a Princeton Survey poll last year, and another 56% said they reduced the number of Internet sites they use.”
Webshop security is therefore a huge concern, with many webshops now actively displaying their security protections throughout the entire user journey, while also eagerly awaiting the effects of the security scare on their bottom lines in the future. With consumer anxiety increasing, e-retailers should focus on secruity efforts within their omnichannel strategies, particular as multiple device use can increase risk. Consumer education is a new goal, and webshop protection, particularly from third- and fourth-party content, is a must.
While this is just the tip of the iceberg, the direction of e-commerce seems to be headed towards a more secure, ultra-personalized experience on all devices. ’Omnichannel’ is the buzz word of the moment, with different associations attached to it in the form of either creating or perfecting it. It’s certainly not going away anytime soon, though, so getting it right, especially with balancing security and personalization with Big Data, will mean the difference between a mediocre or fantastic webshop experience.
This post originally appeared on the Queue-it blog here.