As we start 2019, it’s time to start paying attention to the ecommerce trends that are going to be shaping the industry — and your business — this year.
Staying in the loop when it comes to ecommerce trends isn’t just an add-on for your store; it’s a necessity. If you want your small business to survive and thrive, then you need to be considering trending ecommerce patterns when planning for the future.
This will ensure that your customers stay happy and your sales continue to grow. You don’t want to get left behind when all of your competitors start incorporating the latest trends and tactics into their business models.
Here are five small business ecommerce trends that you need to be aware of in 2019.
1. Social buying
Gone are the days when customers used to either buy from your brick-and-mortar store or visit your website. No; in this digital age, consumers want to be able to buy at the click of a button, and anyway that you can accommodate this will increase your sales.
Social media is no longer merely a powerful marketing tool for online businesses, but also a channel through which you can share product pages and include ecommerce functionality.
Social buying allows consumers to order products they want without even having to leave the social media platform they are on — something which is definitely going to increase in 2019.
Each social media channel does it uniquely:
Instagram launched its Shopping feature last year which allows brands to tag up to five products in a post. When clicked on, the post reveals further details such as price and product information, like this:
Facebook has had this ecommerce functionality for a few years, too, and is also the most likely platform to influence purchases, making it the perfect place to market your products and services.
Pinterest business account owners can also leverage the platform to sell products by using “Product Pins” and “Shop the Look” functionality. Pins have recently become much more shoppable with up-to-date pricing, product information, and direct links to retailers’ checkout pages.
- Product Pins
- Shop the Look
Incorporating multi-channel selling into your brand’s strategy means that you can reach many more people in many more ways.
On another level, by being present and interacting with your target audience on multiple platforms, you are giving them more options to engage with your brand and content — thus improving customer satisfaction levels as well as sales numbers.
2. Micro-influencer marketing
We’ve all seen the rise of influencer marketing over the last few years, particularly in 2018.
Influencers can brand awareness and engagement in a hugely successful way: broadcasting your products to a far wider audience than you would ever normally reach on your own. They can also have thousands or millions of followers eagerly waiting to gobble up any opportunity to buy a product that will make them more like their idol.
Unfortunately, an influencer or celebrity endorsement comes with a price tag — not for the faint of heart, especially if you’re a small business owner with a limited marketing budget.
Enter the micro-influencer: a trusted voice within their niche, they have a genuine love and specialist knowledge on a particular topic. They’re experts in their chosen area that have gathered a loyal online following by writing or vlogging about their passion, whether it’s yoga, vegan recipes or fashion or mountain-biking.
The draw of micro-influencers is that they aren’t ridiculously rich, beautiful celebrities leading exotic lives far removed from the average Joe. They’re just regular people blogging about something they love on the internet — which makes their content seem far more authentic and product recommendations much more credible.
Micro-influencers have some strong engagement and conversion rates – 82% of consumers are highly likely to act upon recommendations from micro-influencers – and aren’t usually expensive, giving you a high ROI. And with anything from 1,000 to 100,000 followers, your brand is getting a solid, positive introduction to more prospects.
You can tap into this ecommerce trend by gathering a small group of micro-influencers to work with your business.
Worried about finding the right people?
First, check through your comments, shares (and hashtags) on social media or your blog — some of your customers may be micro-influencers without you even realizing! And if you’re really stuck, there are plenty of influencer marketing tools out there that can help you to find the perfect micro-influencer for your business.
3. Personalization in email marketing
Email marketing is something that has been around for years — we’re not talking about a revolutionary marketing strategy here. It’s a foolproof way of converting leads into sales, and has a well-known and extremely high ROI:
- It’s estimated that for every $1 you put into email marketing, you’ll get approximately $44 back.
But what is interesting is the route that email marketing is going down.
Through the use of email marketing software, this strategy in recent years has been refined to the point where targeting is super-personalized and therefore more likely to convert. And consumers are more than happy to give away personal information if it means they will receive personalized offers or discounts.
- Personalized emails deliver 6x higher transactional rates.
- Segmented, automated, and personalized emails average 46% higher open rates and 112% higher click-through rates than average marketing messages.
Personalization — such as the inclusion of your customer’s name, or product recommendations and offers based on your customer’s buying history — is easy enough to include with a good email marketing tool.
Here’s an example from Etsy:
As a customer, knowing that you’re getting an experience unique to you is definitely a draw to a brand. Generic “Hello valued customer” emails aren’t appealing, and give the impression that a brand doesn’t value you — they can’t even be bothered to learn your name!
As a business, personalization cuts out a lot of time-wasting: why would you dedicate time advertising a product or service to a customer if you know that they won’t be interested based on previous buyer information?
Automation tools help you to gather data throughout the customer journey and then use this data to target customers with more relevancy.
For small businesses, email marketing is an easy — and relatively cheap — ecommerce trend to jump onboard. Many email marketing automation platforms offer free or cheap pricing plans that are tailored specifically to small or medium-sized businesses, meaning they are also able to take advantage of high-quality email software.
By creating more personalized retail experiences, you can target your customers much more effectively. This keeps your customers happy with your service and saves you time and money as well.
4. Assistants and chatbots
We’ve already seen the rise of robots (i.e. chatbots and AI assistants on websites) over the last couple of years, and the start of 2019 is no different. This is the year of the chatbots, and if your business doesn’t get involved with this ecommerce trend, you’re going to be left behind by your competitors.
Chatbots and assistants are designed to enhance the overall shopping experience, by automating customer support and easily allowing brands to connect to their customers.
There is a range of perks and capabilities that chatbots offer: from proactively popping up to answer any questions, to providing personalized product recommendations, to helping customers to complete purchases.
Chatbots can also greet visitors with a custom welcome message, or send order status updates after purchase — covering a huge range of processes across various stages in the customer journey.
Just take a look at this one from Hoverboard:
This hoverboard company (currently for sale on Exchange Marketplace) built their online store using popular ecommerce platform Shopify, which has various chatbot options.
Integrating AI assistants with your ecommerce store may sound a bit complicated, but it really isn’t — especially if your store was created using a builder store like Shopify, WooCommerce or BigCommerce. There are plenty of chatbots available that can easily integrate into your website or Facebook Messenger.
By investing in a chatbot to assist customers visiting your online store or social media page, you’re not only improving the shopping experience for them but also freeing up your own time to focus on other parts of your business. Bots can take over tasks that you would typically have to do yourself – and can even do them better!
5. Video is stronger than ever — on multiple channels
For the last few years now, prediction posts have been lauding the praises of voice search, telling us that “This year will be the year of voice search,” or that “By 2020, 50% of all searches will be carried out via voice.”
This statistic, in particular, has really done the rounds on the internet — if you’ve been reading any marketing prediction posts recently, you’ve probably already seen it at least once. There’s a great article debunking this mythical “future of voice” stat and explaining why we have yet to see the exponential skyrocketing of voice search each year as predicted.
Meanwhile, while everybody has been distracted by these hyperbolic claims, video has crept up and established itself everywhere.
Whether it’s using live video (such as Facebook Live) to harness the power and relevance of real-time marketing or the use of product videos and tutorials on your online store: video is now a huge part of our online lives.
The popularity of visual social platforms like Youtube, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat stand as evidence for how we as a society now prefer the instant gratification of easily-digestible visual content over long, written content.
Even the more “wordy” social media platforms, Twitter and Facebook, now feature masses of video content. Just look at the use of video on Facebook — average daily video views on Facebook are now over 8 billion, and the social media platform has gone from word-centric to viral video-obsessed.
We’ve already mentioned that multi-channel selling is important, so of course, you need to accompany this with multi-channel marketing. And a great way to do this is to embrace video.
2019 is the year to give video marketing a go if you haven’t already. Consumers don’t want brands to be impersonal or stuffy – they want to engage with your business. So if you can come across as funny, personable or quirky, then all the better.
Don’t be discouraged by thinking it’s too complicated or expensive to achieve as a small ecommerce business. It’s easy enough to do: all you need is a smartphone with a relatively decent camera, a YouTube account, and someone in your team who is good in front of a camera (it could be you or someone else).
These are five of the key small business trends that we’re seeing in ecommerce in 2019.
If you’re a small business, you can definitely take advantage of these trends.
Pair this with a strong email marketing strategy and chatbot apps for your website, and you’ve got a future-proof plan that customers will love.