Wondering how you can differentiate your ecommerce business in the future? What updates can be made to your online store? How can you better market your business to potential customers? To get some ideas, here are three ecommerce trends that we bet you’ll be seeing more of in the coming year.
Instantaneous Customer Service
A bad customer service experience could lead a once-loyal customer to stray to competitors. According to an Econsultancy report, 83 percent of customers want live support during the shopping and checkout process at an online store. Consumers expect a fast, personalized response from customer service representatives. More and more retailers will begin implementing live customer service software. Nordstrom, for example, offers customer support chat 24 hours a day:
Can’t pull off around-the-clock live chat support? Be clear with your ecommerce customers when you’re available by chat. REI lists its chat hours on its homepage:
You can also expect more companies to respond to questions on social media within the same day and experimenting with services like Facebook Messenger, which enables businesses to communicate directly with Messenger’s 1 billion users. Want to see how it’s done? Hyatt, Newegg and Everlane are just a few businesses using Facebook Messenger to chat with customers.
Why does customer service through social media work? It’s a more convenient way for your customers to reach out, and a faster alternative to sending an email (and waiting for a response) or sitting on hold when calling in to talk to a representative.
Soaring Subscription-based Business Models
There’s a reason that Dollar Shave Club is now worth $1 billion. All consumers love the convenience of subscription-based ecommerce businesses, and millennials are more likely to spend on subscriptions versus one big ticket purchase. There’s pretty much a subscription box for any interest, and it’s not just subscription-only startups playing the game. Established retailers are getting involved, too, including Adidas, which recently launched Avenue A, “a premium athletic subscription program for women runners. 4 celebrity-curated boxes per year. $150 per quarter.”
Sephora is joining the beauty subscription box game with Play! by Sephora, utilizing a beauty sample model similar to Birchbox (pay $10, get five samples). Existing Sephora customers may be more tempted by Play! because they can earn Beauty Insider (Sephora’s loyalty program) points for each box, and because they also receive a limited-time Play! Pass in each box good for 50 bonus points with a full-size purchase.
Online retailers looking to break into the subscription/membership market should not only ensure that they have an efficient distribution model, but make sure that the products they sell offer real value to consumers’ lives. Also, you’ll need a recurring billing service—check out Zoho.com or Recurly.com for information on how to get started.
As ecommerce return rates continue to grow, any business selling online should be thinking about how they can improve their returns process. Who pays for shipping? How do you get the label to your customer? What does your policy look like and how long does a customer have to return an item? What do you do with returned merchandise? How do you determine whether it goes back into your regular inventory or if you need to discount or dispose of it?
If you want to know what your business can do to manage the returns process in a way that makes it fast and easy for your customers and keeps your costs down, these tips can help.
ShipWorks can help you automate your returns process. With ShipWorks, you can create and send shipping labels to customers. Check out our Processing Returns help page for many returns-related tutorials.
No matter how these trends pan out over the year, we at ShipWorks wish your ecommerce business a prosperous 2017.