6 Most Important Ecommerce Trends for the 2017 Holidays

Holiday Marketing: Week 5

When do you think people start shopping online for their Christmas gifts? Last minute?

Try October, or earlier.

In 2016, 208 million Americans shopped online, and by the end of this year alone, shoppers are expected to spend an estimated $459.07 billion online .

You’ve already got a lot to think about when it comes to holiday marketing, and trying to guess or scratch around for stats on what shoppers want and don’t want, is a real time-suck.

But don’t worry, it’s already been done.

We’ve crunched the numbers so that we can tell you exactly how Americans are shopping online.

What we’ve found could help slingshot engagement and sales, whether you’re an ecommerce business owner, a bricks-and-mortar ‘mom and pop’ store owner, or both.

You can put these statistics into action for your business, right now.

We want to share with you how to capitalize on the six most important — and by that we mean most profitable — ecommerce trends of 2017, so that you can build your best, most effective marketing strategy ever.

Sound good?

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Here’s what you’ll know by the end of this article:

  • How Americans are shopping online in 2017
  • How and why you could be losing money without even realizing
  • The 6 ecommerce trends of 2017 with the most potential to make you money
  • How to start capitalizing on those trends before the 2017 holidays

First…

The Current State of Online Shopper Behavior

It might seem like selling online is becoming more difficult every year.

Competition is increasing, the kind of content people expect is becoming more involved and time-consuming to produce, and ad-blockers have almost completely laid waste to on-site advertising.

But people are still people, and even though a whopping 31% of all online sales in 2017 were done on phones — more than ever before — there are still some fundamentals which hold true when it comes to giving shoppers the confidence to checkout online.

Privacy is one major contributing factor to whether shoppers decide to shop online, with 38% of rural shoppers citing privacy concerns as a main reason for letting a purchase go.

Shoppers still have gripes about shipping costs, too, although some will happily pay extra to have their goods expedited. Getting that balance right can be challenging, but not impossible.

And then there’s average order value, with Americans spending 64% of their budget in-store, compared to 36% online.

So there’s a lot to think about, and you could make yourself crazy trying to fix it all at once.

There’s no magic formula for optimizing the ecommerce experience for each individual shopper, but putting any of the tips in these 6 sections into practice now will almost guarantee you better returns come the new year.

Let’s start with where your customers are…


Optimize the Omnichannel Experience

Shorter attention spans, more competition, greater access to information all-round; whatever the reason, online shoppers are browsing and buying on multiple channels, and being there to create a seamless shopping experience gives you the best chance of converting them, wherever they decide to convert.

What does that mean?

It means that if you have a fantastic store on your website, but little or no presence anywhere else, then you could be losing sales without even realizing it.

A shopper might begin her journey on your website, before exiting and going to browse Facebook and Instagram. Before doing that, however, she signed up for your newsletter, and later on, she went to take a look on Amazon.

If you weren’t there on any (ideally all) of those channels, making relevant product offers to keep your brand front-of-mind, and her moving through this ecosystem you’ve created, then you might lose that sale to a competitor who was there to take the call.

It isn’t that she doesn’t want to buy from you, but that she needs more time, a little more convincing, and a wider range of options regarding when and where she hits the checkout.

Set up Facebook dynamic ads

One of the easiest ways to take advantage of omnichannel selling, is to set up dynamic ads on Facebook .

Dynamic ads retarget those customers who have expressed an interest on your website, by serving them relevant ads right in their feeds.

All you have to do to set up dynamic ads is upload your product catalog to Facebook and create a campaign. Once you’re set, Facebook will pull up-to-date listings and prices through directly from your website.

Folks like Rachel Kawn, the online marketing manager at The Honest Company, and Zach Greenberger, CEO of adMixt, report very positive results from Dynamic ad placements on Facebook.

“Dynamic ads helps us connect our large product catalog to each unique shopper with relevant and timely product ads. We’re seeing strong results, including a 34% increase in click through rate and a 38% reduction in cost per purchase.”

Giving shoppers the opportunity to buy through Instagram is another awesome way of becoming a strong omnichannel seller. It isn’t difficult to do, and with 800 million active users, Instagram is a treasure trove.

Here’s a look at how Natori is using Instagram Shopping, and seeing a 1,416% increase in Instagram traffic to their site.

And speaking of omnichannel selling platforms…


Start Selling on Amazon

Amazon’s websites receive 183 million visits every month . That’s almost double what eBay receives, and almost triple what Apple receives.

But, in a recent survey by BigCommerce and Square, only 16% of small American businesses were selling on Amazon.

Given that some 43% of all product searches begin on Amazon, not selling there is a potentially gigantic lost opportunity.

It’s obvious, then, that selling on Amazon is one of the best ways to increase your omnichannel presence, so let’s get right into with four high-level tips for selling there.

Be unique

There are a lot of merchants on Amazon, all selling the same or very similar items. By selling a unique product, one manufactured by you, you increase the likelihood of shoppers taking notice, and of beating out the copycats.

Do your research

The brands who do well on Amazon are the ones who do their research first, before going in with the products with the most potential. Using Amazon’s A9 algorithm can tell you whether the product you’re thinking of selling on the platform will be competitive.

Based on the data gleaned from entering your product details into the algorithm, you’ll be able to write a more competitive product title and a fuller, more user-friendly description.

Optimize your page for Amazon sales

Your Amazon listings need a lot more detail than product description pages might on your website. This is because unlike your website, where products are backed up and surrounded by a bunch of supporting pages and maybe even a live chat feature, on Amazon, users only have the product page.

That means you need to be ultra-specific about what your product is, what its advantages are, as well as having all of your FAQs answered right there on the page.

Get reviews

Reviews not only encourage more people to buy your product, they also affect where in the search results your product appears on Amazon. Tying a request for reviews into your automated email series follow-ups, is one of the easiest ways to get them.

But what if you’re a B2B brand?


Business People Shop Online, Too!

Traditionally, B2B brands haven’t been so hot on providing the kind of ‘shop online’ experience we’ve all come to expect as consumers.

Instead, they opt for sending out sales people to pitch clients directly — which still works — and if they do have a website, it’s likely to be more of an online brochure, intended to solicit calls or repeat orders.

But, according to research by Forrester, 74% of B2B buyers report researching at least half of their work purchases online.

Once again, if you’re not offering the kind of experience potential customers want, which in this case means making the B2B ecommerce experience as seamless and enjoyable as the B2C experience, you could be leaving money behind.

Allowing business customers to search and buy products online — individually or in bulk — is easier than ever before, and if it saves you the time and effort of tracking potential customers down in person, what is there to stop you from making this a reality?

Plus, tons of B2B brands you know and recognize are already doing this. Let’s look at a few:

Avery Dennison

Dupont

Nelson Education

Jillian Hufford’s recent post on B2B ecommerce goes into the minutia of bringing your business right up to date. It’s a good read to get caught up FAST.

That said, does this mean that the in-store, in-person experience is dead?

Not at all…


Encourage Shoppers to Spend More Online vs. In-Store

Despite our love of shopping online, Americans still spend 64% of their budget in-store, compared to 36% spent online.

The most obvious reason for this is that it’s much easier to get excited about a product you can actually feel with your hands.

Not being able to touch a product before buying can be a real turn-off for some people, which means in that regard, shopping in-store is always going to win out. But there are things you can do to make the online experience more appealing.

Reviews and testimonials, for example, are so important when it comes to giving people the confidence to shop online.

If they can’t touch a product in the flesh because they’re too far away or unable to leave the house for some reason, then the real-world feedback and assurance of people who have bought your product before can make all the difference.

Reviews can be used in the form of media mentions and coverage, which help to instill trust. Here’s how Andie Swim does it:

Or actual customer reviews. Here’s an example from Pangea Organics:

Those are, of course, only 2 ways to use reviews. Here’s about 7 more.

Another reason people tend to spend more in-store is because it’s super easy for retail salespeople to suggest complementary products to go along with the thing they’re buying.

Amazon does a great job of this, by showing other products people bought either after, or along with the item being bought.

It’s called bundling, and as anyone who’s ever been offered a package deal knows, bundles are almost impossible to resist.

There are 2 ways you can bundle:

First, as a cross-sell or upsell. Here’s an example from Beeketing and the Muddy Outdoor Retailer.

Or packing a two separate products as a single SKU. This is how BombTech Golf does it.

There’s no way to directly compete with the instant gratification of shopping in-store, but as an ecommerce retailer, you do have the advantage of having your entire stock right there for shoppers to browse at their leisure, all in one place.

Once you realize that it’s easy to bundle products together, the gap between online and in-store starts to rapidly close.

Especially if you can get those items to your customers quickly.


Capitalize on Shipping Costs and Delivery

80% of people cite shipping costs as a major consideration when shopping online.

That doesn’t mean that you have to offer free shipping on everything. It means that you need to treat shipping as an essential part of your business, and not as an annoying add-on.

Ashley Overton gives a great in-depth look at how to make shipping efficient and profitable for your ecommerce business.

Ashley encourages business owners to take control of their shipping, and says there are three main considerations to make, to ensure that you’re getting and giving the most with your delivery system:

Product size and weight

“If your products are relatively uniform, then going with a per-item, zone-based approach, where the shipping price varies by your customer's location and not by product size or weight, works well.”

Ashley also recommends getting shipping quotes directly from the courier, be it UPS, DHL or USPS, so that you’re ensured the most accurate rates.

Explaining to customers exactly how you’ve arrived at your shipping costs can help mitigate some of the tension they might feel about paying those fees.

Shipping destinations

Charging a flat rate for domestic shipping can work just fine, but if you want to encourage more local sales, then setting shipping rates according to zones can be a way of attracting more local customers, without necessarily turning off ones further away.

Shipping options

Giant couriers such as UPS and FedEx work well for most things, but go beyond them to local and independent couriers, and you’ll find, as Ashley says, “a world of opportunity to offer same-day delivery, next-day delivery or timely and cost-effective delivery for even the largest items.”

Not only could you save money, you’ll impress customers with the speed and agility of your service.

Of course, those customers still have to be confident about buying from you first…


Enable the Use of Digital Wallets

As mentioned at the start of this article, 31% of all sales now happen on mobile devices.

Now, historically, people have been reluctant to shop on their phones because of site responsiveness and concerns over the privacy of their information.

But clearly, people are shopping online, and it’s thanks in no small part to the rising popularity of digital wallets.

Digital wallets are all about removing the friction between potential buyers and complicated checkout processes.

They allow shoppers to keep all of their card details and payment methods in one place, secured behind several layers of encryption. By enabling shoppers to purchase from you with their digital wallets — using services such as Apple Pay and Amazon Pay — you’re creating a safer, more welcoming shopping experience.

With BigCommerce, merchants can quickly and safely accept payments from major credit cards, PayPal, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay and others, with a single click or tap.

Plus, they just plain work. Take NatoMounts’ 5% mobile conversion rate as proof.

“By building these integrations with companies like Amazon Pay, PayPal and Apple, BigCommerce provides non-household brands, like me, instant credibility. This equals a clear path to ~5% conversion rates on mobile with over 80% of sales on mobile,” says Brandon Chatham, Founder & CEO of NatoMounts.


That’s a lot to take in, so let’s recap the most important things you need to remember as you take your marketing efforts into 2018:

  • Optimize your omnichannel experience by linking your ecommerce store to Instagram, and setting up dynamic ads on Facebook
  • Start selling on Amazon, using the A9 algorithm to determine which products will perform the best, and how to position them
  • Gather as many reviews as you can, and bundle products to help close the gap between online and in-store purchasing
  • Cater for B2B customers by making the online experience more akin to that of an individual consumer
  • Take control of your shipping by making proper use of local and independent couriers
  • Enable the use of digital wallets in your online store.

Start putting this advice into practice now — setting up dynamic ads on Facebook is a great place to start — and watch your profits soar by year’s end.

12 Weeks of Holiday Marketing

Hosted by Tracey Wallace from BigCommerce on October 30th, 2017

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