What eCommerce brands want in 2018 will reflect consumer expectations in 2019.
What were the trends in eCommerce in 2018? What major changes has the industry seen? Here at ReferralCandy, we gathered the expert opinion of eCommerce app CEOs to tap on their expertise. Together, these apps serve close to 100,000 merchants and eCommerce brands, and are closest to the various eCommerce brands that cover every industry of the market.
2018 was a strange year, where Amazon opened brick-and-mortar retail stores and bookstores. Alibaba also partnered heavily with offline mom-and-pop convenience stores for better offline outreach for its Single's Day effort. What other features have ecommerce brands, retailers and merchants clamouring for?
What is the number one feature that merchants have requested in 2018 / what are merchants most excited about in 2019?
Know Your Customer: Granular Data, Better Insights, Clearer Attribution
As the traditional idea of email marketing is not working as efficiently as it used to and regular bulk campaigns alone cannot achieve sustainable results, smart marketers are looking for better ways to engage their customers with personalized messages. So segmentation and personalization are one of the main keywords that we see in the feature requests coming from our customers. Marketers obviously want to have more data about their customer shopping behavior and then have tools to use that data for better personalization.
This year we already have enabled our merchants to send personalised messages not only via email, but also SMS or use Google Customer Match sync for retargeting. So we see that 2019 will definitely be about strengthening our omnichannel approach. Our customers love this opportunity to use all the channels in one tool which ensures them that no data is lost. And as they get more advanced with those new omnichannel features that we provide, they start asking for more specific features tailored for different omnichannel usecases.
Retail and e-commerce has always been competitive. And this competition has always created an urge for gathering fresh competitive intelligence for e-commerce companies of all sizes in any industry. Thanks to its digital nature, gathering competitive intelligence in e-commerce is more a tech challenge rather than a human resource challenge, and this shift causes a paradigm shift in market intelligence space as more and more small and medium-sized businesses are becoming capable of populating meaningful competitive intelligence data from the market to execute their businesses in a more data-driven way.
2018 has seen a tremendous amount of companies following this trend and as a next step, in 2019, we expect these companies to harness this data in a smart way to execute their businesses like Amazon (in terms of more automation) without requiring the tech or financial resource that the retail giant has.
Merchants want features that will give them control and insight into conversion, or lack thereof. The biggest pain point facing eCommerce companies is not understanding why their visitors are not transacting. Deeper analytics, testing and optimization features are the most critical and most requested by serious eCommerce merchants.
Given the increased focus on multi-touch point buyer journeys, most of our communication with customers is around this. Our main request from customers is that they want ways to analyze the whole customer journey. Moving into 2019, customers are looking forward to being able to harness the power of advanced attribution models and detailed visualizations of visitor journeys.
While moving to a more global presence opens up new markets, there are many complexities that arise when trying to communicate with customers who speak different languages and come from different cultures. Merchants need better solutions for cross-border shipping, multi-lingual support, multi-currency, compliance, and support, so they can compete globally.
In 2019, it’s all about helping merchants properly understand their honed-in customer groups so they can ensure their messaging, pricing, shipping,and overall experience is as natural for an international consumer as it is for a local buyer.
We continue to hear that cart abandonment remains a huge issue. Sending emails to those who have gotten far enough along in checkout to include an email is not sufficient. Identifying a larger percentage of those abandoning cart, and the ability to retarget them on-site, via email and off-site represents a huge opportunity for merchants. 72% of merchants consider reducing abandonment a top issue.
Personalization & AI are what merchants have been asking about most often. They want to be able to flip and switch and send/display the right message at the right time (on-site or off-site) to increase conversion rates.
Royalty for Loyalty: Treating Customers to a Premium Experience
With even Amazon opening physical bookstores, it's clear that both the online and offline channels have a part to play in giving customers a premium shopping experience. Merchants understand this, and have been asking for help to design a holistic shopper journey and connect with customers once they've left the store. Providing omni-channel reward programs and a good offline-to-online experience will continue to be growing trends in this space.
Customer support tools! SaaS companies have a knowledge base, live chat, and email ticketing in place on Day 1. For ecommerce, and especially carts like Shopify, customer support is not included.
Most small-to-mid size ecommerce stores manage support through a shared Gmail account, with auto-replies like "go here to check your order status" at best. Frankly, customer support in ecommerce is among the weakest in any industry. This is partly due to customer support still being a cost center for B2C ecommerce, whereas support for a technical solution might lead to up sells and increased retention.
Integrations are king. Shopify merchants benefit from the striving ecosystem, and by creating partnerships and collaborations we are able to give our customers much more value for their buck. This year we released some exciting integrations, for example with PushOwl and AfterShip. We expect to release more highly demanded integrations in 2019. Stay tuned! :)
For Beeketing, the number one request that we received is how our customers [eCommerce retailers] can save their time, automate their daily tasks to spend more effort on things that matter, especially when the holiday season is coming so close. Because running an e-commerce website and keeping up with what you should be measuring or improving can be so difficult and time-consuming. In 2019 or even the next few years, marketing automation will still play its vital role in making entrepreneurs' lives more painless.
We receive a lot of requests regarding marketing automation. Merchants reach out to us suggesting exciting ideas that can potentially convince a customer to come back and shop again.
I think today it is harder to get a customer to repeat a purchase than it was a couple of years ago and this seems like the biggest concern of online store owners. This may also be related to the ongoing millennial market shift and changing culture due to social media.
We are always in the “browsing mode,” and quickly get distracted looking for the next thing, trying the new. Businesses look for creative ways of offering discounts and get the attention of customer after the purchase and make them revisit the store.
AI is quickly becoming a part of eCommerce, and many eCommerce retailers are afraid to be left behind but don’t know where to start.
A great way to cater to them is by offering them intelligent solutions while remaining easy to use and cost-effective. B2B platforms need to keep the fragile balance between a powerful, data-driven solution, and a UI that remains extremely intuitive and friendly.
Creating chatbots, for example, went from extremely complex, time-consuming programming, to inputting text on a screen in a few minutes, with no programming knowledge required.
Make your solutions as powerful and user-friendly as possible because, if your users can’t find that with you, they’ll quickly migrate just to keep up with everyone else.
What the eCommerce brand retailers ask for will follow the trend closely for what consumers are expecting and demanding.
Want more wisdom from these wise CEOs and apps? Check out what they said about what customers most wanted from their online shopping experiences in 2018, and what the impact of marketplaces will be in 2019.