At this year’s Super Bowl, fans instantly knew where to go to buy that hot dog or grab a t-shirt, thanks to the NFL’s massive location-based marketing campaign. The league installed wireless transmitters throughout the stadium and Times Square that interacted with fans’ smartphones, so they could find all of the information they needed with the push of a button. This is just one example of how e-commerce is becoming more diverse and high-tech. In order to keep up with a consumer who has access to thousands of brands at their fingertips, small businesses have to change how they reach out to consumers and personalize marketing messages more than ever. Let’s look at five trends driving e-commerce that small businesses and entrepreneurs should be aware of.
Opportunities for location-based marketing are just one reason companies are building their e-commerce presence on mobile. Companies can no longer see their mobile efforts as an afterthought or a nice addition to their website. On Black Friday 2013, 40 percent of online shopping occurred on a mobile device, and those numbers will only continue to grow this year as mobile becomes more consumer-friendly. What can companies do to stay on top of this trend? Start by developing a site that is optimized for any mobile device. Small links, long lists and excessive text should be eliminated, and the buying process should be streamlined to only require a couple of steps with no long forms to fill out.
Businesses are starting to personalize like never before, from the ads they put on Facebook, to the landing pages on their website, to the actual products they create. With 3D printing, companies can efficiently create customized designs en-masse to meet the specific needs of each consumer. Big data analytics also allow companies to collect and utilize extensive information on their customers to create a personalized experience. For example, retailers have started using transaction history and social data to send customized offers and product recommendations to customers based on what they have liked in the past.
The irony of online shopping is that shoppers could spend hours comparing products and browsing options, but most customers shop online because they want to find what they need, order it, and move on to something else. To cater to this need, businesses have started focusing less on browsing and more on helping the customer find what they are looking for quickly without extra clutter.
As computers have become more efficient and the Internet has gotten faster, the consumer’s tolerance for loading bars or a page that is down altogether has dropped dramatically. Businesses recognize this and are adopting infrastructures that can reduce latency and improve the dependability of their site. Creating layers of data that keep the most important data readily available on faster hardware, such as flash storage, and less pertinent data on less expensive hardware, such as hard disks, is becoming a popular way to reduce latency.
Merchants are also focused on providing a more engaging customer experience beyond making the actual purchase. For example, Domino’s created an app that lets customers save their favorite items and track their pizza deliveries. These types of additional perks and services will play a major role in driving customer loyalty and demonstrating value to the consumer.
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