Before we get started:
In this post I’ll be referring to eCommerce store owners as e-tailers, purely to save repeating myself.
Let’s get on with it!
1. Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) will come out of obscurity
A lot of e-tailers discovered CRO in 2015. Many of us even did some research and started to look into the technology and tactics that make it work.
Most of us though, didn’t make time to get past that stage.
2015 will be the year where most people know what CRO is and the way to differentiate your store, will be to actually start doing it!
2. Instagram will be the next big source of quality social traffic
Brands like Skinny Me Tea opened our eyes to the potential of Instagram as a distribution channel. Seemingly overnight, they grew into a multi-million dollar a year company building their brand in Instagram.
It looks to me like their main strategy was getting heavy Instagram users to review their product. Getting their product in front of their target market with the credibility added by the poster’s reputation.
This is just one of many successful case studies where e-tailers have driven serious traffic and sale through Instagram.
While Instagram marketing is very difficult to scale
given that you can only post from your phone and can’t link from a post to a website it looks set to become as mainstream in 2015 as Pinterest did in 2013/2014.
My Tip: If you’re targeting young people (18-30), create a branded Instagram account, start publishing great content and be sure to leverage the power of hashtags.
3. If you aren’t mobile friendly, you’re in trouble
Mobile sales will become even more common, everywhere around the world.
Mobile purchases have been a staple in United States e-tail for a good while, but the rest of the world has been held back by poor usability and unreliable/slow mobile speeds.
With software and hardware rapidly improving, there’s less and less room for stores with a bad mobile experience.
According to Forrester Research —
In every country that Forrester analyzes, mobile is growing as a percentage of total eCommerce revenues.
My Tip: Make your site mobile friendly. Even if that just means making your buttons bigger and easier to click on your non-responsive site.
Bonus Tip: My personal favourite mobile checkout experience was at Kogan.com
4. Show Your Customers Why They Should Like & Trust You
Times have changed!
Thankfully, modern consumers are much more open to the idea of buying from an unknown retailer.
This doesn’t mean they will buy off your store just because you have the product they want. What it means is that you have a real chance.
As such the need to show prospect you can be trusted is more important than ever.
5 Quick Ways To Demonstrate Trustworthiness:
- Offer Standard Paypal as an option
many people know that if something goes wrong, Paypal will ensure they get refunded.
- Show people you’re a real business, not a scam. Put your phone number, postal address and business registration number front and centre
- Offer a money-back guarantee. If people aren’t happy with your product, I’m sure you wouldn’t want to keep their money anyway!
- Setup a live chat tool on your website so potential customers can speak to a real person
- Make socially-verified testimonials a big part of your site using a service like FeedbackLoop
5. Stop relying on PPC and other paid traffic sources
Customer acquisition costs and traffic generation will be the biggest challenge for most eCommerce stores in 2015.
e-tailers need to focus on growing their owned and earned channels to create more sustainable and cost effective promotional channels.
One way to buck the trend is to focus on using paid traffic sources to grow owned and earned channels rather than purely driving front-end sales.
My Tip: Offer a high-value PDF guide that answers one or more common questions your potential customers have. Simply write the guide like a blog post (using Word, Pages or iBooks Author) and save as a PDF.
6. Social-good companies will dominate more and more industries as the barriers to entry are reduced
2013 saw the rapid growth of a number of social-good companies including Warby Parker and Charity Water.
Both these businesses stand out from their competitors by dedicating their resources to helping others.
Both these companies work on a one-for-one model where for every product you buy (e.g. a bottle of water) they provide the same thing to the developing world (e.g. a clean water supply) as part of the cost of the product.
In 2015, smaller e-tailers will start to tap into this opportunity to make a difference and grow their business.
Myself and a business partner have recently launched a service called Seed The Change that helps e-tailers adopt this model without having to dedicate huge amounts of resources like Warby Parker and Thankyou Water have.
Seed The Change is a for-profit subscription-based business that helps eCommerce stores make more sales while helping the environment.
We allow our customers to plant trees in any of 15 locations around the world every time a product is sold on their store.
Seed The Change customers not only increase the perceived value of their product (and therefore their conversion rates) they also position themselves as a social good company.
Seed The Change operates in partnership with a tree-planting charity which has planted over 53 million trees around the globe since 1984.
7. Expect new competitors and be prepared to defend your market share
The ease of starting an online store will mean increased competition for many niches, pushing up promotional costs and calling for increased innovation.
All of the points above provide a way to stand out against your competition. So there’s 6 ways to get started.
If you’re looking for another, focus on strengthening the single most important asset your business has.
Your customer list.
Focus on building a relationship and having an ongoing conversation with your past clients.
The easiest way to do this is with a customer-only email newsletter.
That’s my top 7 predictions for 2015.
Regardless of how many are right or wrong, I’m looking forward to what is bound to be an exciting year in the world of eCommerce!
Also published on Medium.