With consumers moving from catalog sales to brick-and-mortar and today’s omni-channel commerce, it is not hard to predict that their shopping habits will continue to evolve. As the retail world undergoes significant structural changes, merchants are faced with tough choices, whether it’s which merchandise to stock or what new technologies to adopt. Their decisions will not only impact present-day profits, but may even determine their ultimate survival in this rapidly changing landscape. Determining which trends will lead to meaningful improvements and have long-lasting potential is a key factor in an etailer’s decision. Will trends such as chatbots, big data, and social selling firmly establish themselves, or are they more likely to fade? This article discusses the features that merit further investment rather than those which may prove to be a passing fad.
1. Advanced SEO tools
If customers cannot easily find your site, they are likely to visit one that ranks higher in search engines. Investing in an SEO-friendly e-commerce platform will not only provide more online visibility, an important consideration, but can also help to increase revenues significantly. SEO is also critical if you do business overseas, as it ensures that customers can just as easily find your site in New Delhi as they can in New York. Whether you’re a small-to-mid-size retailer or a large multinational, the race is on to outpace the competition, and an SEO-friendly platform is where it all begins. In fact, organic search accounts for as much of 64% of all website visits (Forbes). SEO is more than just a technical endeavor – creating engaging content is equally important. You can also drive customer engagement by encouraging visitors to write reviews, or even by adding social media links on your website.
2. Integrated inventory system
Offering a discount to a customer whose favorite item is out-of-stock can sometimes be more effective in motivating them to purchase than simply notifying them via email. Smarter still is avoiding the unpleasant situation in the first place. By integrating your inventory systems, you can efficiently predict and stock the items your clients want at all times, put an end to lost sales, and ensure that they are receiving the customer experience that they deserve. Real-time inventory visibility – from one trusted central source – enables retailers to keep track of stock and efficiently fulfill orders. Today’s merchants must ensure that an accurate system of stock is available. This way, inventory tracking, order fulfillment, and customer management are all interconnected in one seamless platform. The endless aisle concept is particularly relevant in modern retailing, and may rapidly become the norm. With an integrated inventory system, sales associates have the tools they need to be as efficient as possible, wasting less time wandering the aisles searching for products. Increased loyalty and customer satisfaction will naturally follow from such a smart retail strategy.
3. Mobile-first strategy
Offering omni-channel experiences to customers is arguably one of the most essential characteristics of your platform. Equally important is ensuring that your entire e-commerce platform is optimized for mobile commerce. In fact, the latest research shows that “web traffic is shifting to phones, growing to 52% globally in 2019. Some web traffic — particularly in media and commerce — is already majority-mobile” (Forrester). For all market segments, the migration to mobile-first commerce is inevitable and must be embraced by retailers of all stripes. Customer conversion rates will naturally increase when both consumers and shopkeepers meet in the omni-channel marketplace.
By investing in a solution that adjusts to your ever-changing business needs, your technology spend is more likely to match your current requirements. So, what should your next infrastructure investment be? When searching for a new e-commerce partner, be wary of the additional time and expense that may be incurred when integrating with multiple third-party vendors. Why wrestle with costly, non-scalable, and even conflicting applications when one provider offers an integrated and rapidly adapting solution? All you need is already there on one unified platform, where D2C and B2B e-commerce can be fully supported for retailers of all proportions. The best e-commerce platform offers a solid retail base and flexible customization options with both stability and room for growth – the best of both worlds.