Growth in online shopping in 2012 once again outpaced growth in bricks-and-mortar stores, and 2013 is expected to follow the same pattern. With this is mind, it’s more important than ever for businesses to have an online shopping presence, or they risk missing potential sales. Here are four areas of focus for 2013:
- Given the increasing importance of social media in brand awareness and SEO, integrating your ecommerce with your social media profiles is a good way to drive customers to your site. Offer exclusive daily deals to your followers. Additionally, time deals and coupons to take advantage of holiday season shopping peaks.
- Free shipping is a key driver in a consumer choosing an online retailer. If your business cannot afford to offer free shipping all year long, the lead up to Christmas may be the one time to offer it. Another option is to build the cost of shipping into the price of the product (but be sure you do a good price comparison with your competitors before doing so). Also consider the possibility of a pickup location. The ability to pick up purchases is becoming the preferred option for a segment of consumers. As well, having the customer come to the store to pick up an item may also have the added benefit of exposing them to other items they may wish to purchase.
- Mobile is the key trend in 2013, therefore apps and mobile sites will be integral. In 2012 almost three-quarters of mobile phone owners made a purchase on those devices, and the numbers are only expected to rise. One of the functions on any mobile — or “m-commerce” — service should be integration with the in-store experience. Customers report that they like the visibility of price, customer reviews, and other specifications available on the web, so your app should include the ability to scan a barcode in-store to have options like these available. Further, “showrooming” (when a customer sees a product in-store first, then purchases online) will continue to grow 2013. Retailers with a strong m-commerce presence stand to reap the benefits of showrooming.
- Finally, easy returns are another new trend in online commerce. Online retailers have begun relaxing and clarifying return policies to further compete with brick-and-mortar stores. In fact, many sites now have more liberal return policies than physical store locations. This speaks to the continuing idea of the ecommerce experience being focused on convenience.