26 Sep 2013
At the heart of every business is a competitive spirit, and maintaining your competitive edge is crucial to the success of your business. The world of e-commerce is no different, though it presents a set of challenges unique to the digital world. Four key interconnected trends are emerging at the forefront of retail e-commerce: data analysis, quantified marketing, usability and mobile shopping. If you haven't already begun the adoption of these four trends, you've already begun to lose the edge in your business - so it's time to put on your forward-thinking hat and dig right in.
Probably the biggest game-changer in the history of commerce is the aptly-named 'big data'. We've discussed it a bit before, but as more and more companies adopt it, the benefits are mounting up and those who don't implement it are being left behind in the dust. For most small e-commerce retailers, an implementation of Google Analytics which is properly integrated with your sales data is enough to help you highlight trouble spots in your sales process which can make a huge impact to your bottom line.
As you dig deeper and become more familiar with the terminology that comes along with big data, there is a temptation to split away from traditional marketing efforts and focus purely on usability and user experience impacts, simply because the changes in your design and marketing efforts have immediately quantifiable results. While this is understandable, it's important to ensure that you continue to cultivate traditional brand focused marketing at the same time. As with many new technologies, quantified marketing should not supplant branding efforts, but instead it should complement them.
One of the major benefits that big data provides is also the ability to completely quantify the user experience as they move through your sales pipeline. Now becoming a major focus of design and marketing schools across the world, user-centered and responsive design is undeniably the wave of the future, and big data takes all the guesswork out of it. Thanks to your Analytics implementation, in most cases you'll be able to tell exactly why a customer decided to abandon their shopping cart at a specific point in the sales pipeline, and begin instantly testing various solutions to the problem.
The most problematic channel for user experience is also the one that has the most to gain from careful analysis and improvement: the mobile shopping experience. Until very recently, mobile shopping has had exponentially higher abandonment rates than traditional desktop-based shopping experiences, but thanks to the monitoring and testing of various user-centered and responsive design elements specifically geared for mobile devices, this trend has begun to change. With the mobile sector poised for incredibly rapid growth in coming years, it's time to get in on the ground floor and make sure that your business will be ready to compete.