Fulfillment Companies Target 3 Ecommerce Trends for Business Expansion

Since 2012 departed with a bang, 2013 is primed to follow right in its footsteps. Ecommerce retailers saw an excellent fourth quarter. According to comScore, holiday sales approached a record $3.6 billion, a roughly 16% increase over the same time last year, so it’s no surprise that the ecommerce industry is expected to continue to grow in 2013.

Here are 3 trends to look for in 2013 that will surely help to keep the ecommerce industry on its path of continued growth.

Personalization will expand as acceptance has cemented
Expect ecommerce retailers to use age, gender, marital status and social media profiles to personalize the shopping experience. Although personalization is nothing new to the ecommerce industry, the technology is becoming more and more prevalent.

Networks such as 4Square and Gowalla (the technology behind Facebook location services) that attracted early adoapters who enjoyed simply sharing where they were, got the ball rolling in 2010. But 2012 saw a tipping point as many more users became comfortable with “check-ins” as long as they were rewarded with discounts or free items for doing so.

Consumers cast aside their initial Orwellian concerns that limited rapid growth at firstadoption. As established social networks like Facebook and Twitter encourage sharing location information, the savviest sites are realizing their data has value, so why not profit from it?

But in the non-virtual world, personalization can build a much deeper relationship between customers and online retailers. Fulfillment companies can add something as simple as personalized thank-you cards with pack-slips and hand-written notes, helping to carry that personalization all the way through the sales process.

“Loyalty Points” increase in value
Expect more ecommerce retailers to offer loyalty points to shoppers as a way to keep them from leaving. Electronics retailer BestBuy and convenience store Speedway synchronize their brick-and-mortar presence with their ecommerce sites to provide easy-to-use store credit or coupons good for free items tied to an easy-to-understand dollar amount. Oftentimes, customers who might shop at their competitors become more “loyal” as a way to approach a free item more rapidly.

Fulfillment companies will often use free samples or coupons that are inserted after the online order but before shipping. This action accomplishes two important objectives: introduces a loyal or new customer to products with which they may be unfamiliar; and strengthens customer loyalty with something tactile after the virtual ordering experience.

Now that companies have captured all these new customers from increased sales over the last few years, the challenge is getting these customers to become repeat shoppers. Look for companies to offer incentives for customers sticking with them by accruing points without buying something. Facebook likes and sharing tweets are valuable to the brand, so why not reward them with points for these activities.

Sales growth will deepen as it spreads
Ecommerce sales continued to grow in 2012, and expect more of the same in 2013. Look for increased web traffic with a focus on capturing as much information as possible from visitors. That may not be a groundbreaking prediction, nor will it happen with never-before-seen technologies, but how the technology and data is used will be important, Jones said.

“Consumers aren’t just spending more time on mobile devices and tablets, they are spending money from them.”

Ecommerce sites such as Fab.com report they are already seeing more than 50% of their traffic from mobile and tablets. Large urban events such as the Olympics in London reported the same.

That’s why fulfillment becomes so important; customers can grow their business through fulfillment. That’s why we really try to ‘wow’ them in that one opportunity where you have that customer’s attention as they open the item they ordered from you. How does it look when it arrives? What kind of first impression do you want to make with a new customer?

More than 23% of all website visits in December 2012 came from mobile devices, according to PR and digital marketing agency Walker Sands. That’s an 84% increase from December 2011 to December 2012. Research firms such as AOTMP and Forrester have been predicting for several years that 50% of all web traffic by 2015-2016 will emanate from mobile devices.

The Internet has been all around us for 10 years – but not literally at our fingertips. The ability to visit websites and spend money there on-line is infinitely quicker and simpler than even 3 years ago. Companies will continue to develop mobile versions of websites, making it easier for consumers to shop on -the -go and may even avoid websites altogether if their e-site doesn’t load a mobile version on the smart device.

Expect 2013 to be a great year for ecommerce, as consumers will continue to utilize all the fun smart phones and tablets they have to spend that hard earned money.

Mike DeFabis is business development manager at IDS Logistics.

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