As you chart your small business ecommerce strategy in the New Year, ecommerce experts advise you to keep your eyes on these growing business marketing trends: improving trust through website design, improving the mobile shopping experience, and social selling.
Understanding current and developing small business ecommerce trends is key to growing a successful online business. Knowing what's important to your online ecommerce customers will help you develop an effective business marketing plan to attract more customers and keep them coming back.
Trends in Small Business Ecommerce
Improving website design to help overcome trust issues is essential for small business ecommerce, as shoppers clamor for a user experience that inspires the confidence necessary to buy goods from someone other than a giant online retailer.
More people research online ecommerce and shop with their mobile devices, and if you hope to attract and retain customers, you need to provide a good mobile website experience. Still, other experts feel that native mobile shopping apps—rather than mobile websites—will hold sway.
And finally social selling, or social commerce, will continue to grow as social media becomes a major small business tool for growing both a loyal customer base and more revenue.
Read on to learn more about how these three trends will affect small business ecommerce.
Small Business Ecommerce Trend: Improved Website Design
David Schwartz, head of ecommerce at Wix, a cloud-based Web-development solution, says one strong trend that may come as a bit of a surprise is a shift in the way online ecommerce stores look. He anticipates a dramatic change as small businesses continue to carve out a competitive niche against bigger companies.
"When you go to a giant online retail store, there's an established level of trust between you and that store," he explains. That isn't always the case for small businesses, where brand recognition may not be as high. And while the democratization of ecommerce makes online selling available to a wider variety of small businesses, the elements that create a rich shopping experience—the nuances in how a website looks and feels—have yet to catch up.
"This year, we're going to see [small business Web] stores that look more beautiful and much more professional in order to confront this crisis of trust," Schwartz says.
Small Business Ecommerce Trend: A Better Mobile Experience
Some small businesses already provide a mobile-friendly buying experience, but consumers are shifting to mobile devices in greater numbers. According to Alison Garrison, director of search marketing at Volusion, a one-stop ecommerce solution, that makes it "imperative for small businesses to build responsive websites that customers can access on any device—desktops, smartphones and tablets."
Getting around to making your website mobile-friendly "soon" may not be soon enough. Shoppers will expect mobile first. Google's 2015 RankBrain algorithm changethat prioritizes mobile-friendly sites in search rankings, coupled with consumers' increased willingness to abandon unresponsive mobile pages, and ecommerce merchants will be pushed to examine how well their sites work for mobile shoppers. "In order to remain competitive, small businesses will have to up their mobile game in 2016," Garrison says.
Small Business Ecommerce Trend: Mobile Shopping Apps
As consumers shift from desktops to mobile devices—for browsing, researching, and buying—the way online retailers support that shift will need to evolve.
"We're going to see a trend of more native mobile apps rather than mobile websites," Schwartz says. The mobile shopping experience is still being fine tuned, and some ecommerce merchants may discover that mobile apps offer more flexibility and control for them, along with easier navigation and improved features for consumers.
"With all the technology advances mobile Web offers, I believe that native mobile applications create a better shopping experience for buyer—definitely better performance," Schwartz explains. Some large retail innovators already offer customers a mobile shopping application, a trend Schwartz says will become far more common across small businesses in the coming year.
Small Business Ecommerce Trend: Social Selling
Developing an active and loyal social media following is an essential business marketing strategy and a priority for entrepreneurs. Small businesses typically engage on multiple social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.
Anjuli Desai, Volusion's marketing specialist, expects those social media efforts to expand in 2016. "Small businesses must also take advantage of the capability to sell across these networks for an added revenue boost." In other words, social commerce matters.
Many of the popular channels already offer some sort of mechanism for selling products, a feature that, Desai says, gives small businesses "the capability to target dedicated followers while they browse social feeds." Small business owners who want to reap the maximum benefit (and revenue) from social media will seriously embrace social selling.
Julie Knudson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in technology magazines including BizTech, Processor, and For The Record. She has covered technology issues for publications in other industries, from foodservice to insurance, and she also writes a recurring column in Integrated Systems Contractor magazine.
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