In many regions of the world, online shopping reigns supreme as the leading purchasing method. In the USA, more than 50% of people would rather buy something online than in store and the trend is picking on in Europe and Asia as well. As experts forecast a massive e-commerce popularity boom around 2020, marketers want to know how they can be ready for when it hits.

A lot of businesses have online stores these days, but only the best ones will be able to stand out. E-commerce trends come and go, but the one thing that stays is the need for a customer-centric approach. No matter what you sell and how large your store is, your one mission should be to stay customer-driven. Manage that, and sales will go up. There are many ways to cater to your customer’s needs and the good news is that technology evolves fast enough for you to implemented cutting-edge features that increase customer retention:

E-Commerce UX & UI Are All About Simplicity

Wanting to stand out and impress customers, many webmasters go overboard and “decorate” their online stores with unnecessary clutter, but instead of drawing them in, it has the opposite effect. A cluttered online store that has way too many elements and uncertain colour palettes confuses visitors and prevents them from having a pleasant browsing experience. Instead, e-commerce experts advise store owners to follow the less is more rule: work on a clean, minimal store design with an intuitive UX and UI. Whether you work with a web design company for a bespoke look or you download Joomla templates, the elements should be the same:

  • A clean site design that showcases products, not overshadows them
  • Intuitive store menu with product categories
  • Search bar for finding products easily
  • Visually appealing colour palette consisting of no more than two main colours
  • Intuitive navigation and product pages.

The ideal WordPress or Joomla template has changed a lot in the past years. Customers no longer like flashy, cluttered designs that slow down their devices. Designers recommend the clever use of blank space, as well as simple, customer-focused interfaces that add value to the user experience.

Faster Delivery & Transparent Shipping Updates

The perfect e-commerce store offers a flawless user experience, not only during browsing and checkout but also afterward. Customers want their purchase to be delivered as quickly as possible and expect regular updates and tracking options. In 2018, having an online store that doesn’t have tracking options is a huge faux-pas and can lead to many customer complaints. As far as delivery times go, they are getting smaller and smaller. The average 5-7 day delivery is more and more frowned upon, as customers would rather pay extra for get same day or next day delivery. Amazon are close to implementing a drone delivery system that will ship orders within 60 minutes and when this happens, it will set a benchmark for online stores everywhere.

Pop-Up Stores Bridge The Gap Between Online & Offline

When it comes to store platforms, online and offline are two complete opposites. There used to be no in-between, but now pop-up stores are slowly reaching that sweet spot that appeals to both traditional and modern customers. For example, if you have an online store that has just launched or that doesn’t get enough recognition, you can set up a temporary pop-up store to introduce customers to your products and allow them to physically interact with your brand. This creates trust and increases your exposure without requiring a large budget. Being temporary, the pop-up show doesn’t have a high maintenance cost and doesn’t overshadow your online business.

Cross-Platform Accessibility

M-commerce, or shopping online from mobile devices, accounts for more than 20% of online purchases and for 2018 expert it to become even more popular. However, online store owners should not expect the figure to reach 100% to go mobile. Even if they don’t end up purchasing a product on their phones, they still access the mobile version of the site to look up a certain product. In 2017, 2 billion people made at least one purchase using their mobile phone. That’s 0.4 billion more than 2016 and the mobile platform is getting more popular and profitable every day. According to a recent study, people who shop online using their smartphones end up spending twice as much than those who use other platforms.

Personalised Shopping Experience

Online stores are fast, intuitive, efficient. And yet, some people don’t use them because they prefer the personalised shopping experience they receive in a physical store. More specifically, they need the store assistant that recommends them a certain product or helps them find the right size. Of course, the online environment has its limitations or at least until virtual reality will become mainstream, but until then you can use different tools to personalise the shopping experience and make it more relevant. For example, you can take advantage of e-commerce tools that suggest products depending on the products your customer has previously viewed, bought or added to favourites. You can extend this personalised experience even after the customer has left the store by sending them e-mails related to their interest. If a customer finds out via email that a product he/she likes is back in stock or is on sale, they are more likely to make a purchase.

Predictive Analysis

Modern e-commerce is all about anticipating the needs of the customer and meeting them before the customer has to ask. By collecting Big Data through customer interactions, brands can get to understand their customer’s preferences and purchasing habits. Many e-commerce platforms have already integrated this technology, which will revolutionise both the B2B and B2C sectors. Through predictive analysis, businesses can increase the retention rata end even re-establish contact with old customers by sending them relevant notifications with the right product at the right time.