Online shopping is here to stay, and if you’re reading this article, then making a profit from an ecommerce store is likely pretty important to you. Staying competitive online is a much different ask than doing so at a physical store, however - you’ll need to offer competitive pricing, unique items, or master the trends to win in 2018.
I took a look at the data - including Mary Meeker’s 2017 Internet Trends Report - and here’s what every entrepreneur needs to know to make 2018 their best year for their Shopify store:
Lessons from 2017
2017 was an important year for online retailers, and was the biggest year for online sales yet. There were a few key trends that really defined the year, and they’re worth reviewing - both to learn from, and because I don’t see any of them fading away anytime soon!
Mobile Compatibility & Apps
More than half of all holiday shopping this year was done on mobile, which is quickly leaving desktop shopping in the dust. According to the Consumer Technology Association, over 41% of consumers used their smartphone to shop during Black Friday week 2017, which beats desktop computers’ 38%, and laptops’ 34%. This means that websites that aren’t mobile friendly are leaving money on the table. The call to action for entrepreneurs? If your site isn’t responsive on all screen sizes, you’re missing out on sales.
Making a mobile responsive website is a great step, but if you really want to get great results, it might be worth considering building a native store app. Emarketer recently found that users spend about 84.9% of their total mobile time in apps vs. their browser. This suggestion comes with a warning, however: your audience is getting increasingly selective of which apps they keep on their phone, so make sure that it’s highly functional, or it will get deleted nearly immediately.
Generation Z Has Arrived
The generation following Millennials, which covers every human born after 2000 (yes, that includes newborns), isn’t one that many brands have spent a lot of time targeting yet, but they should. The oldest of this generation is about to turn 18, and their spending power is already making waves in the online marketplace.
Voice Search Is Growing
While most people have been exposed to voice assistants like the Amazon Echo and Dot, or Google Home, shopping through this new medium is still ramping up. However, it looks quite promising: according to a recent report from Linc and Rakuten, consumers who have bought through the Amazon Echo buy considerably more - around 10% more! While it’s unlikely that your Shopify store is voice-enabled now, it’s time to get the ball rolling.
What’s Coming In 2018
As we ring in the New Year, it’s time to start planning on how to make our Shopify stores more successful this year than ever before. That means considering what trends from 2017 will continue, and new tactics we should implement to keep our customers focused.
Mobile Shopping Continues To Expand
While this is unlikely to surprise anyone, the importance of recognizing that mobile compatibility is now a requirement for ecommerce success cannot be overstated. Of the 3.5 billion global internet users, 2.8 billion are mobile users. Meeker’s report discovered that US consumers alone spend 3.1 hours a day on their phone, though I’m sure younger users spend much more than that average!
Have a great site that you love? You can actually make an iOS mobile app for it pretty quickly with TapCart, which is offered through the Shopify store. The tool converts your existing Shopify store into a native app, including push notifications, auto-population tools for your cart, Apple Cart support, and more.
Not sure about using an external app? Shopify Plus may be the answer you’re looking for. It’s native mobile application builder allows you to create a store app without any technical expertise or coding, entirely through a drag-and-drop interface. While the tool doesn’t require any technical knowledge, that doesn’t mean it sacrifices preciseness or customizability - in fact, you can change virtually every UI element, from fonts and colors to spacing and alignment.
Customers Want Expanded Payment Options
As online selling becomes increasingly global, it’s important that brands offer as many payment options as possible to accommodate consumers from a variety of locations and situations.
A great way to offer a variety of payment options is Klarna, a plugin that will allow your customers to choose to pay immediately with a card, pay later through credit, or do a customized mix that suits them best. Klarna also supports lots of popular local payments, including iDeal in the Netherlands, Swish for Sweden, and more.
We also recommend BlueSnap, a tool that is especially well suited for any business wishing to offer subscriptions, online and mobile checkouts, marketplaces, or invoices. BlueSnap works for most major markets, though it does not accept payments in the Middle East or Africa at this time. This tool also has a built-in fraud checker and chargeback manager, which are especially important in global transactions. Lastly, BlueSnap also has an analytics reporting app that will help you increase your bottom line by tracking historical data on sales, refunds, and chargebacks.
Fast And Free Shipping
There’s no denying that Amazon has had a huge effect on the ecommerce industry, and its Prime feature is probably the one that most entrepreneurs love to hate and hate to love. No matter your feelings on it, it’s played a large role in making two-day shipping that’s offered “free” to members the new normal. This means that many consumers not only look for it, they plan the time between their order and when they need the product assuming that they’ll only have to wait 48 hours to get it!
Keeping up with this trend may seem expensive and daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. UPS recently partnered with Shopify to offer competitive rates, assistance with planning, and expedited options for American deliveries.
Personalization Is No Longer Optional
Everyone wants to feel listened to, and when you’re asking customers to spend their hard earned money on your products, lending them your ear will only work in your favor. According to a recent Hubspot survey, personalized messages and call-to-actions worked 42% more than generic ones - and it’s not hard to understand why.
By using personalization tools, you’re finding what your customers want and showing it to them immediately, instead of expecting them to go digging through your inventory to find it. It’s the difference between going to a luxurious, well-organized store, and digging through an untidy warehouse. Where would you rather shop?
Get started with personalization in your Shopify store without breaking the bank by trying out Nosto. We love that this tool offers a full suite solution, but the kicker is that their pricing model scales with your business, because they work via commission of sales their app generates for your company. You can’t lose.
2018: All About Relationship Building
I believe that all of these trends are sure bets, but you also never know what new trends may pop up mid-year. It’s important, therefore, to keep an eye on the big picture: with each passing day, companies in all industries are improving their customer experience, which means that consumers (including yours) are expecting more from you as a brand. They want a reason to be loyal to your company, to feel connected to your organization on a personal level. Meet and exceed their expectations, and you’ll have them coming back again and again.