If you’re a small business owner heading into 2014, congrats on surviving the onslaught of holiday shopping season and resulting returns and exchanges that follow. Unfortunately, this isn’t time for snoozing and putting your feet up now that the chaos is over. You need to refine your ecommerce strategy for 2014, because the landscape is continuing to change with emerging technologies. Success throughout 2014 and beyond depends entirely on your ability to adapt.
Here are some ecommerce tips and trends to consider for this year:
1. Embrace Mobile
According to the Custora High-Growth E-Commerce Index, black Friday in 2013 was more like “mobile Friday. More than 40% of shopping done throughout the world was done online using mobile devices. This trend will continue through 2014 as more consumers gain the ability to rapidly comparison shop and research their purchases using smartphones and tablet devices. To get the most out of this trend you need to update your own ecommerce site so that’s mobile friendly and optimized for viewing on virtually any mobile device. Seamless browsing and simplified checkouts will be crucial if you want to continue to grow your online business this year.
2. Free Shipping, Faster Shipping
For many customers the speed and cost of the deliver is just as important as the product and the price itself. To compete against giants like Amazon, you’ll need to consider offering free shipping programs, and methods to get orders to customers faster. If you’re a small business owner who can’t afford free or upgraded shipping then try to look for creative ways to offset that. A caring note personalized to each customer is a quick and easy way to be more effective than delivering with flying drones via Skynet.
3. Content Marketing is Essential
You might just be pushing products, but you still have to be a publisher. Content marketing is one of the main ways any business can establish authority and gain trust with online shoppers. A recent study showed that 82% of marketers plan to increase their budgets for content marketing in 2014. If you don’t have a big marketing budget then use content curation or consumer generated content to share great information with your customers.
4. Consumer-driver demand and personalization
Your customers are demanding unique and original products, and your business needs to be able to deliver that in creative & profitable ways. More businesses are implementing things like 3D printing tech to enable them to speed up this kind of customization. They’ll also allow consumers to specify ahead of time what they want to buy and when they want it–often before those products are even grown or manufactured. A few successful pre-sale campaigns between China and U.S. agricultural and seafood industries this year have allowed customers to pre-order cherries, king crabs, and other goods while they’re still on the trees or in the water with delivery on specified dates. This technology based approach to ecommerce increases efficiency in your operation and is a benefit to the customer as well as to your business.
5. Alternative Payment Methods
The dollar is important, but there are other ways to get there that let you break away from traditional payment methods. You’re no longer locked into just accepting credit card payments. Consider online bill pay options, or credit services like Paypal Credit that allow your customers to purchase on lines of credit they established with the PayPal organization. More and more business are also accepting Bitcoins as forms of internet currency