5 Upcoming Ecommerce Industry Shifts and How Stores Must Adapt

The world of ecommerce is constantly changing, and online marketers need to make sure that they’re prepared for big industry shifts in 2018.

According to a Forrester report, online sales are projected to reach $460 billion this year. Still, this doesn’t mean that online retailers can continue using the same old marketing strategies and expect to rake in sales.

To drive and capitalize on growing ecommerce sales, there are only two options for online retailers. Either you adapt to the disruptions in the retail industry or you fall behind the competition.

Here is a look at which industry shifts are shaping the digital landscape and how ecommerce stores can adapt to meet the changing needs of their customers.

Improving the In-Store Experience

The retail industry is currently undergoing massive changes. Despite a growing economy, struggling retail stores are closing at record-breaking numbers — exceeding even those of the 2008 financial crisis.

The biggest disruptor to traditional retail has been the rise of ecommerce, which has refined the online shopping experience, making it fast and more convenient for consumers. With more people choosing to shop online, traditional retailers are finding it harder to attract customers to their stores.

Does this signal the end of physical retail stores? Not at all. In fact, most consumers would still rather shop in brick-and-mortar stores than online.

However, it does mean that brick-and-mortar stores must strive to provide a better, more satisfying in-store experience for their customers if they want to compete in 2018.

How Retailers Can Adapt

Thanks to mobile devices, today’s consumer is well-connected. They often know exactly what they want before they step foot inside a store.

To drive sales and revenue in 2018, retailers must provide exceptional in-store customer service. One way to achieve this is by improving the option to buy online and pick up in-store.

Providing same-day shipping is another way to improve customer satisfaction and win customer loyalty. By improving both online and in-store experiences, retailers can drive more revenue in the coming year.

Consumer Preference Toward Smaller Businesses

Despite the increasing number of mergers, Americans still prefer to shop with small businesses. According to a recent Gallup poll, 70% of Americans feel confident when they shop with small businesses, as opposed to 21% of people who trust big brands.

While this is good news for small businesses, customers are still lured by the promise of lower product prices and higher warehouse efficiencies. How can small online retailers compete to retain their loyal customers?

How Retailers Can Adapt

By using consumer confidence to their advantage, small online retailers can drive sales and grow customer loyalty. To do this, they must create a compelling value proposition in their marketing campaigns.

Additionally, small- and medium-sized ecommerce stores must adopt automated marketing solutions to streamline their marketing processes, which will improve their time management and make better use of their resources.

Highly Personalized Experiences

As technology improves, consumers have grown accustomed to personalized shopping experiences. Those who fail to provide this experience in 2018 stand to fall behind their competitors.

A personalized customer experience not only boosts customer loyalty, but research continues to show that customers who receive tailored experiences also tend to spend more than those who don’t. Because so many online retailers fail to add personalization to their marketing, this is a prime opportunity for smaller brands to stand apart from the competition.

How Retailers Can Adapt

Retailers must leverage both historical and real-time data to give shoppers a personalized experience. For example, retailers can segment their email lists to deliver relevant offers to customers based on past purchase history.

Demand for Transparency

In recent years, the demand for brand transparency has grown. Consumers are willing to spend more on brands that feature quality, transparency and sustainability in their business practices.

Big box retailers are largely distrusted by consumers, meaning small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have an opportunity to create a loyal customer base simply by being authentic. To build trust in consumers, e-commerce sites must be willing to invest more in ethical practices to elevate their brand images.

How Retailers Can Adapt

To be transparent, retailers should build trust into their websites. Customer testimonials help with this, along with adding payment logos to reduce buying anxiety. Giving consumers more payment options, such as streamlined mobile payments, can also decrease shopping cart abandonment and drive conversions.

Creating Branded Experiences with Retail-tainment

In 2018, the predictable retail experience isn’t going to win you any fans. These days, shoppers want to be entertained.

That’s where retail-tainment (retail + entertainment) comes into play. To differentiate their brands in a crowded market, some retailers are focusing on making their sites fun and exciting for their customers to create a memorable brand experience.

How to Adapt

To stay relevant in a rapidly changing market, look to your customers for inspiration. What type of community are you building around your brand? Which types of entertainment would your customers enjoy?

Physical stores can host fun weekend events to attract customers, while e-commerce stores can hold social media contests and encourage audiences to share their own user-generated content. By starting small, brands can slowly build their reputations for being places not just to shop but also to hang out and relax with friends.

Things can change quickly in the world of e-commerce, and if you aren’t paying close attention to industry shifts, you might risk falling behind your competitors in 2018.With the right technologies and strategies, SMBs can set themselves up for long-term growth, from 2018 and beyond.

Brooks Robinson is CEO and Co-Founder of Springbot