From saturated marketplaces to rapid changes to platforms, growing complexity and rising consumer expectations, the last two years have presented seismic shifts for the world of eCommerce.
Keeping ahead of the curve is harder than ever - so, this week, we asked 3 eCommerce experts to share the latest trends and changes impacting online retailers, and what marketing and eComm leaders alike can execute right now to prepare for a strong performance in 2023.
In this article:
- What's changed in eCommerce in 2022 - trends and challenges
- 5 ways to boost your eComm in 2023
- Where to start with prioritising your next steps
This article is a round-up of all the key learnings from our recent workshop, ‘eCommerce 101: The Latest Trends, Platforms, and Opportunities for your Business’. To join an upcoming virtual session, take a look at our upcoming events calendar.
The run-down: What's changed in eCommerce in 2022?
There’s no denying that there’s a lot going on in eCommerce right now - so, we asked our experts to share the 3 largest trends they’ve seen this year.
Declining customer loyalty, and the importance of retention
“One of the biggest shifts I've seen this year so far is towards that of brand loyalty.
Merchants are now understanding the value of retaining a “high value customer”, but also reactivating lapsed customers, rather than acquiring necessarily a new customer.”
The shift in focus here to customer retention isn’t out of the blue though - for many, it’s a necessity to maintain anything near to the levels of growth seen over the course of the last 2 years.
“The companies that have continued to thrive are those that have nurtured the new business they gained throughout that period.
It’s a focus on personalised retention strategies, rather than constantly chasing more and more new users.”
Saturation of choice in online marketplaces
For Amazon in particular, “It's mainly due to a lot more competition on the platform.
Part of this is because we've seen a lot of new entrants, niche brands launching, be we’re also tracking the amount of product detail pages a consumer looks at before they make a choice - and that's actually increasing too.”
However, this isn’t just a challenge of being seen - it’s also driving up costs.
“To keep up with this, brands are spending more on advertising - so, consumers are receiving more ads, the noise is louder, and the Cost-Per-Click is higher.”
Rapid updates to platforms
“There have been 3 google updates in the last month alone – and they all impact eCommerce. One of the largest updates that came out of that was the way that Google perceives page quality, alongside redefining the way that it ranks websites in the ‘money’ or ‘life’ category - including eCommerce in particular.”
This means a relatively large shift in how eCommerce sites are expected to present themselves to the algorithm in a short amount of time - from content to site structure, but also external brand reputation.
To get an understanding of your reputation, Amanda recommends “conducting an external search for your own brand, but excluding your own website.
This will allow you to see how your reputation is being displayed to Google and to other people. From a user experience perspective, that’s really valuable.”
5 moves you can make right now for a stronger eCommerce performance in the New Year
More competitive, less loyalty, and a host of technical updates to be kept abreast of. There’s a lot to manage - so we asked our experts to share what can be done right now to prepare for a stronger 2023 performance.
Assess your existing eCommerce platforms
Whilst this may seem easier said than done, there’s no time like the present for making sure your platforms are future-proofed.
For Amanda, a non-optimised platform can have major implications for what you’re able to achieve long-term with your eCommerce.
“From an SEO or even from a PPC perspective, one of the largest challenges is platforms that are complicated to update, or hard to access.”
The knock-on effect of legacy systems can be wider than you might think. So, sense-checking your existing platforms sooner rather than later can save a lot of pain down the line.
A few straightforward questions to ask to get a read on the viability of your current platform:
- What level of usability do you need?
- What functionality do you require?
- How are you future-proofing what you currently have?
- What does your resource look like? Do you need to manage things yourself or are you able to outsource?
Get a read on the data you hold for your eCommerce audience
One of the key contributors to strong customer retention is a personalised experience. However, that personalisation is only as good as what you know about your audience.
So, action #2? According to Ian, it’s getting to grips with the quality of your existing data.
“A lot of the time, the biggest challenge is having a good handle on the data that you have on your customers.
You need to be able to organise it in a way that can be easily segmented and utilised for your marketing efforts.”
This opens the door for far more personalised experiences - and ultimately, stronger retention.
When you have a handle on who is a lapsed customer, a high-value customer, a frequent purchaser, and a seasonal purchaser, you can tailor your communications and tailor your strategy to retain them, growing the value from that audience.”
Review and upgrade your on-page content
“Content is a key pillar on Amazon,” says Dan.
“It’s very important to have impactful content, because this is a great way to really communicate your brand story."
However, there are a few more pragmatic reasons that up-to-date content needs to be front of mind for online retailers.
"There's the ability to add custom creatives on different ads, but also the new rollout of Premium A+ now means that content is literally one of the most important levers on the platform.
Now, optimised content increases your relevancy, and is a great way to boost your organic rank on Amazon. This, in turn, decreases your CPC. So, it's really important to have impactful content, and we're seeing that become more and more important on the platform."
A/B testing your eCommerce content
Staying with content, Ian explains that it’s good to A/B test different elements of your content to compare the performance between the two and see where you’re getting a strong conversion.
“One of the largest mistakes I see is the under-use of A/B testing when it comes to making platform changes.
We've seen merchants come to us where they've changed the colour of their baskets from black to white, and seen conversion rates drop by 15% overnight. No matter how small you think the changes, it's always worth testing it first.”
Audit your payments process
Alongside your content, a quick action to take right now is to review your on-site payments experience.
According to Ian, roughly 81% of shopping carts were abandoned during purchase Q4 of 2021.
“Obviously, some of that is just people adding them to the basket and not converting, but the primary reason was non-user friendly payments.
Customers don't want to sit there and add their card details anymore, they'll walk away from the purchase.”
If you’re able to update your process, Ian advises the addition of instant pay options to your site as a major action.
“Both Apple Pay and Google Pay have instant purchase capabilities, but there are also options like Klarna that can help ease that conversion to sale.”
Take time to explore new opportunities for your eCommerce strategy
For marketers and eCommerce leaders alike, the pace of change in the industry requires a huge amount of agility, but it also brings opportunity.
Amanda flags a few of these new opportunities available when it comes to targeting your audience.
“Google, on the PPC side, is launching a lot of new products that are available. Performance Max is a really good example of that - they're changing a lot of the way that they're doing extended text ads.
You've also got products like Google Shopping, putting a lot of different retailers out there and competing them by price.
That's one way to destroy brand loyalty - utilising a lot of these new products that allow you to make a more complete funnel, both from an acquisition and retention perspective, is really important for eCommerce.”
Don’t be afraid to test and continually iterate on these new opportunities to find what works for your business, too.”
Where to start - prioritising actions for your eCommerce strategy
There’s a wealth of opportunity out there for eCommerce in the coming year.
However, you don’t need to be blinded by choice. In fact, taking small steps right now can be enough to start moving the needle.
With all of the above, Dan has two key pieces of closing advice; give yourself space to test and learn, and don’t try to do it all at once.
“Always test and learn. Try things with low budgets - for example, all new ad placements on Amazon are an opportunity to get lower CPC, it could work well for your brand.
Start with low budgets, and then ramp up and optimise going forward.
Alongside this - in terms of trying to keep the pace, don't think you need to back every single product across every single placement. Focus on your best products first, and do that well.”
If you're investing in your eCommerce this year, make sure you're getting the most from your time. GO! offer cost-free agency recommendations, pitch management, and more - get in touch to get started.