[Guest post by Patrick Foster]
What makes for a great ecommerce brand for 2017? What key branding messages and developments should you be focusing on for the coming year? Here are some of the important ecommerce shifts and trends that will be important for your brand.
Personalized & targeted content
Personalization and selling are becoming increasingly intertwined – people want to be sold things in a way that feels friendly and intimate – not automated and generic.
- There is an increased need for sellers to become more involved in people’s purchase habits and embrace online customer data in order to deliver more targeted and personalized sales experiences.
- Retargeting customers with ads and sending out personalized offers and deals via email are a great way to offer value (and pick up on potential sales income).
- Chat bots are becoming more common in online retail as chat bot technology advances and the consumer appetite for conversational commerce grows.
- Need to up your email marketing game? Check out this awesome online seller’s guide from MailChimp that gives you plenty of ideas on how to build personal relationships with customers via email.
Micro-moments on mobile & beyond
Micro-moments embrace the fragmented and complex nature of online selling in 2017.
Focusing on on the user’s micro-moments is a great way to refine your user-experience on mobile and beyond. Thinking about micro-moments is about focusing on the consumer journey – not forgetting about all those little micro-decisions and moments that make up a ‘coherent’ customer journey.
- Be aware that more people than ever are accessing your store on mobile – you need to give them a compelling customer journey within a small space. Be dogmatic in your search for mobile selling excellence – this will be a deciding factor for your store’s future.
- Not sure what your users’ micro-moments are? Read more about micro-moments from Google and see whether you can map them onto your store.
- Use your buyer personas whenever you make any big changes to store layout or content to measure the impact on their buyer journeys.
Video & visual content
An online store in 2017 needs to be thinking about its products and sales strategy from a visual commerce perspective.
- Invest in quality product photography with personality and make sure that you also include some video content in your store. Videos are great for product tutorials or can act as an alternative product user guide.
- Don’t stop with visual commerce on your site – make sure that your social profiles are also filled with compelling visual messages. Try to be consistent with your brand and favor quirky and cool over generic. Encourage your customers to get involved with visuals and video.
- Use a free service like Pablo to quickly and easily design compelling visuals for social media.
The rise of drop-shipping & specialization
Recently, we have seen a veritable explosion of online merchants as supply chain management has become simplified. This has led to an increase in niche stores – we are seeing less and less all-purpose stores and more tightly themed ones that specialize in a specific product. (And in a market where you are competing with the likes of Amazon – being specialist makes sense for smaller stores).
- Embrace the speed of agile ecommerce. Favor small and flexible operations over expansive (and expensive) ones. Challenge yourself to build a niche store as fast as you can using an online store builder and their templates. Use drop shipping if you have to – just make sure the customer experience remains seamless.
- Think about your store within the wider marketplace – is your brand strong enough to compete? Do you need to specialize or downsize in order to increase profit margins and improve customer experience?
Community & social selling
The most successful ecommerce stores are able to create a community around their products.
A great way to get people to become repeat customers is to foster a sense of community by creating a positive brand culture around your products and services.
- Don’t just pay lip service to the idea of community – really embrace communal commerce. Be present on social media and listen to your customers. Give back frequently and share compelling brand stories, not bland product updates.
- Be as focused on post-sales as you are on clinching the deal – get people to talk about your products and services in their own context. ASOS is famous for its “as seen on me” microsite where people can show off how they style ASOS clothes. Learn from social selling successes like these and use them for your own store.
The rise of the savvy user
Your brand is going to be put to the test.
Designing an ecommerce site for 2017 isn’t about hand-holding people anymore– it’s about giving customers compelling and beautiful omnichannel shopping experiences.
- Make sure that you are fulfilling all the ecommerce design basics in your store.
- Don’t just focus on setting up a shop online – realize the importance of good content and the wider context of the online experience. Be ambitious with your customer experience.
- If you do have an offline arm – integrate this seamlessly with your online offering. Create a consistent brand experience across the business – don’t just focus on the online shopping side of things.
So branding in 2017 is all about embracing your users, data and technology – in that order. What do you think makes for a great ecommerce brand in 2017? What new developments do you think we should all be excited about?