The retail industry has been dramatically transformed over the last decade. From small businesses that are run from home to globe-spanning corporations, everyone is selling online. Ecommerce is experiencing faster growth year on year, and more people are launching new online enterprises than ever before. Increased consumer demand has forced brands to adapt quickly, and many are being left behind their competitors simply because they are failing to use the technologies and resources that are available to them. As traffic and demand continue to grow, here are the essential eCommerce technologies that every business with an online presence needs to start using.
The Growth of Social Commerce
It should go without saying that social media is a vital resource for eCommerce ventures, but the rapid delivery of social commerce has changed the focus for online selling. It used to be that social media platforms were more suitable for brand awareness and consumer engagement than actual sales. Now, with the development and launch of shoppable social media posts, eCommerce brands of all sizes need to take the initiative and start implementing social sales into their business growth strategy. The key strategies to adopt are:
- Investing in the Right Channels: Your customer research should have highlighted exactly where your target audience spends the most time online. Those are the channels to focus on. You will usually only have a finite budget, and it’s bad management to spend money optimizing your Instagram shoppable posts when all of your potential customers are on TikTok or LinkedIn.
- Optimize Constantly: You should keep track of which of your posts are gaining the most traction. While vanity metrics are often considered worthless, they do have value when it comes to knowing how effective each shoppable post that you make is. Of course, those vanity metrics should never be the be-all and end-all of your analytics evaluations. Real-world impact is the metric that matters. With your sales figures, the high-value metric will always be of value.
Linking your social media pages to your product pages is now easier than ever. With consumers spending more time browsing social media than ever, it is quickly becoming the selling platform that brands can’t afford to be without.
Live Customer Service
If the only way that potential customers can contact you is via a contact form on your website or an often unattended social media chatbox, then you’re going to be losing customers. The modern consumer wants more than just a positive experience when it comes to buying online. They want improved convenience too. That means that when they have questions, they expect answers quickly. A 24-hour turnaround on communications is simply not good enough for today’s consumer-focused business landscape. There is a wide range of communication resources that eCommerce brands need to be focused on, with options like JivoChat being the key. These kinds of all-in-one messenger software make it a simple process for your team members to communicate immediately across calls, chat boxes, emails, and social media. Failure to prioritize your customer communications technology means that you will lose customers quickly.
Voice Search and Voice Shopping
Being voice-order-friendly is quickly becoming a must-have for eCommerce stores. More people than ever are using voice search to find out information, and it makes sense that the natural step forward from that is voice-based shopping. Already, consumers are using their smart speakers and smartphones to add grocery products to established shopping lists. While this is a small eCommerce segment at the moment, it is seeing steady growth. That means brands that want to stay one step ahead need to be looking at how best to optimize their content and their products for easier voice-based shopping experiences. Optimizing for voice shopping is much the same format as optimizing for voice search (which you should already be doing). The most important steps to take are to:
- Think in terms of conversation on your product pages
- Localize your keywords
- Use long-form content on your product pages
- Break long-form content down into bite-sized chunks that search engines can read more easily
- Answer questions about your products
When consumers are already using voice searches to find out information on an unprecedented scale, brands that fail to recognize the potential of voice shopping are only going to fall behind.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Tools
More accessible than ever, artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are becoming essential requirements for every eCommerce store. Ecommerce businesses have access to a vast amount of information, all of which can be used to improve business processes and increase sales. By rapidly analyzing a customer’s previous purchases, the products that they have searched for, and their online browsing histories, personalized shopping becomes much easier to offer. There are a huge number of technologies available that have AI and ML at their heart. Many of these are already available on dedicated eCommerce platforms, and they couldn’t be easier to set up and start making use of. Most AI resources make use of extremely simplistic user interfaces, meaning that you don’t need to learn to code or how the analysis is done to start making improved use of your data. There is seemingly no end to the value of AI in eCommerce, and business owners that fail to use it are limiting their potential to grow.
Image Search Technology
More people are searching images on Google than ever, and they’re looking for products. That’s because it’s easier to make fast decisions about the potential of a specific product when you can see it. Businesses that use stock images of their products will be swallowed up in a sea of their competitors. That makes bespoke images the key to standing out more, alongside the use of your product-specific keywords. Make sure that you have reverse searches in mind when you add images to your product pages and make use of user-generated content with hashtags and brand searches. This can be a very challenging task to fully implement effectively, and it will take time to yield results. However, fail to appreciate its value and you will begin to make less of an online impact as other brands take the time to develop image search and adopt it into their marketing strategies.
With more technologies and trends affecting eCommerce than ever, it can be hard to know what to prioritize. If your SEO is working hard and you’ve conducted all of your customer and competitor research, the above technologies are where you should be looking next. No matter your business size or sector, using the technologies available to you and your business can only benefit you.
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