Top 7 Ecommerce Trends That Will Impact WordPress in 2017
Many retailers were unsure of what to expect going into the 2016 holiday season, what with a disruptive national election kicking it all off. The onslaught of political news headlines generated a lot of attention throughout Q4, so it may have been difficult to spot the news that mattered most to retailers.
“Data from the National Retail Federation shows that many consumers no longer find it necessary or appealing to shop in physical stores. The trade group’s consumer survey found that 108.5 million people shopped Black Friday deals online while 99 million went to stores.”
While 99 million customers are nothing to scoff at; this is fantastic news for e-commerce companies. As online shopping shows no signs of slowing, it’s fair to assume that 2017 will be a great year for ecommerce businesses looking to increase sales. How exactly they will do that depends on how successfully they can adapt to trends – and this is where WordPress developers should get involved – and capitalize.
As a developer, you understand that the key to a website’s long-term success is in its ability to adapt to trends (even before they become mainstream). But as a developer, how are you to know which ecommerce trends matter most to online retailers and will have the greatest effect on their website’s success?
The following guide will break down the ecommerce trends expected to take off in 2017 and how you can use them to build a better online store.
Ecommerce Trends to Look out for in 2017
According to research conducted by BigCommerce, 80% of people in the U.S. make purchases online at least once a month. While the majority of people shop on large marketplace websites like Amazon, roughly 30 to 40% also make purchases from web stores, independent boutiques, and category-specific e-retailers.
As online shoppers spend more time researching the best online deals, brands, and experiences, this is your opportunity to help clients earn a greater share of the market by optimizing their site accordingly.
Start by looking at the major marketplace websites. When they establish a groundbreaking new way to accomplish something, that’s usually a good tip-off that you’re looking at an e-commerce trend in the making.
For example, Amazon’s Prime Now service offers same-day delivery within major metropolitan areas. By setting higher expectations for quicker deliveries (i.e. greater convenience), Amazon has influenced how quickly shoppers expect to receive their online purchases. Another example of a popular brand that influences consumer expectations is Zappos, the online store that recently set a record with a nearly 11-hour customer service call.
Now, I’m not saying that every online store should offer same-day deliveries or sacrifice hours of their time to a single customer call, but there is a lot to learn from these examples. In other words, you’ve really got to get inside the mind of your audience and use those insights to deliver a better online shopping experience.
As you probably guessed, WordPress enables developers to do just that: to study what your visitors want/like/need, and then to put it into action. If you’re ready to do that, let’s take a look at how to take advantage of this year’s e-commerce trends for your online store:
#1. Mobile First
It’s far too easy these days to create a responsive website, so excuses of high costs or lack of coding knowledge no longer hold weight in the argument over whether websites need to be mobile-friendly.
If you have a responsive e-commerce site, does that mean you’re good to go? Not really. This idea of mobile-first design means going above and beyond simply finding and using a responsive WordPress theme.
Mobile-first implies that your strategy primarily revolves around the experience of mobile users. Even if your site’s statistics tell you that more purchases are made via desktop computers or in-store, don’t be fooled. Mobile plays a big role in search and, eventually, conversions. As more online retailers become savvy to the roadblocks keeping mobile visitors from converting, we’ll see that role expand even further.
- Invest in a high-quality responsive theme that’s well-supported and regularly updated by the developer.
- Check your site’s mobile performance regularly to assess for any issues.
- Add a Google map to the site and be sure that the business’s address is added to Google My Business to optimize for local search.
#2. Conversational Commerce
“Conversational commerce” is a phrase that’s recently entered the business lexicon and it’s one that marketers and business owners need to pay closer attention to.
While mobile push notifications are not a new concept, what with everyone from the local froyo shop to your physician sending them, it’s only a matter of time before this catches on for websites. This is especially important for e-commerce companies that benefit from sending key milestone notifications to their customers. Notifications for:
- An abandoned shopping cart,
- A completed purchase,
- A delivery that’s on its way,
- A special one-day sale,
- And more.
As of right now, these messages are mainly sent from websites to visitors’ emails. WordPress plugins and third-party CRMs have already done a good job of automating this. But, in 2017, conversational commerce is expected to expand into text messaging as well.
To be honest, there aren’t that many WordPress plugins that can accomplish this task. The WooCommerce SendinBlue plugin is the best-rated one we’ve found, but it’s way too new to tell how easy it is to use or even how effective it is in sending well-timed text notifications to your WordPress website’s visitors.
#3. Content Marketing
e-Commerce companies may be in the business of selling merchandise, but those products, goods, or services might not be the initial draw for consumers (especially if those websites are in direct competition with larger retailers).
According to crowdtap, people trust user-generated content 50% more than any other kind of media. So, if your client wants to draw traffic away from the competition, content creation may be one way to get a leg up on them.
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If you develop websites for e-retailers looking to expand their business this year, this is an especially important point to be aware of. Sure, you can optimize their product pages for search, but it’s just as important to equip WordPress with tools that will enable them to create content.
If your clients need to know how to create killer content in WordPress, this article will show them how to do it.
#4. Social Engagement
The convergence between social media and websites grows more with each passing day. While marketers will tell businesses to keep their eyes on social and to build a presence within those channels, it’s the developer’s duty to bolster those efforts using WordPress.
Think of your client’s marketing like a well-planned city grid; all roads run parallel or perpendicular to one another. When you need to cut over from one road to another, the connecting pathway needs to be easy to find and without roadblocks. WordPress websites should work the same way. There should be buttons, links, popups, and even social feeds pointing to the outside social channels, but the lines shouldn’t be blurred.
As a developer, this means you shouldn’t forget about social integration. Whether your client is strictly promoting their products or if they decide to delve into content and other marketing strategies, they’re going to need a strong social presence interwoven into their website. You can help them do this by:
- Encouraging content promotions over social.
- Creating social sharing incentives.
- Adding a Pin It button to all product images.
- Integrating Instagram, YouTube, or other social feeds to show off real photos or videos of products.
#5. Trust Builders
Retailers are beginning to notice a shift in how customers develop trust in a brand. According to one study, “55% of consumers trust customer photos more than brand-created photos”. Other studies have noted consumers’ growing reliance on online reviews and customer ratings to tell them whether or not to trust a brand or their product.
What does this mean for e-commerce companies? Well, it might not be enough to claim to have the “best” product anymore. Customers want trust builders that they can verify with their own eyes. In other words, they want social proof.
Here are some ways to ease consumer doubts and gain their trust with your WordPress website:
- Add customer testimonials.
- Create a logo carousel to highlight high-profile customers, partners, etc.
- Showcase trust marks like the one from McAfee.
- Link to your business’s Yelp page.
- Encourage visitors to rate your products.
#6. Convenience Consideration
Smartphones, apps, cloud-based software, social media, even WordPress—there’s no doubt that this technology works to make our lives easier, right? While it would be easy to blame millennials for putting pressure on businesses to make everything more convenient for the consumer, I think it’s more likely that they’re the first generation to have the tools available to make it a reality.
Ideally, it would be great if consumers were satisfied with a website that loads quickly. That would make your job a whole lot easier. But the idea of a “convenient” shopping experience goes much further beyond that. Consumers care about things like easy checkouts, personalized deals, lower (or no) fees, quicker shipping, and so on. This is what convenient online shopping looks like.
In all honesty, all of that stuff you do to optimize a website’s performance is non-negotiable at this point. Visitors already expect that. What they want now is for you to make their shopping experience faster/easier/cheaper for them.
As a developer, you can’t really dictate how your clients run their e-commerce store. All you can do is ensure they have the WordPress tools available for the conveniences their customers expect.
The best thing to do is give them a comprehensive e-commerce solution that covers every angle. This Marketplace ecommerce plugin will:
- Accept payments from a wide variety of payment processors.
- Consolidate checkout into a single page.
- Manage shipping and taxing fees.
- Hide unavailable products.
- Launch targeted offers and coupons.
- And more.
#7. Personalized Experience
In an age where “big data” and “Internet of Things” are commonly known terms, there’s no secret as to how or why we see product ads on Facebook for something we viewed on Amazon an hour ago. In other words: the jig is up. You’re not the only one who knows that WordPress gives you behind-the-scenes access to your visitors’ information. They understand this very well, too, and it’s this understanding that’s led them to expect something in exchange for giving you access to that data.
This is why personalization is an expectation now—and it’s one that e-commerce companies, in particular, have a duty to fulfill.
Conversion-saving tech is one good way to engage with customers by giving them targeted messages or offers before they abandon a website. Live chat is another tool you can use to deliver personalized attention based on real-time data from visitors. And, of course, linking email and/or CRM software with your WordPress site will help your clients deliver personalized messaging to visitors.
There’s something to be said about the e-commerce trends coming to the forefront of our discussions this year. In years past, the focus would have been on actual design trends like “responsive design” and “high-resolution image sliders”.
It’s quite clear now that web design and development has changed a lot, to the point where developers not only work to help their e-commerce clients build beautiful websites, but to now build better businesses.