Our Top 7 eCommerce Predictions for Small Biz in 2018
Times they are a changin' and fast! 2018 has already thrown a few curve balls in the world of eCommerce and it's certainly set to be a cracker year for small businesses in Australia. There is opportunity galore, especially for the early adopters who capitalise on the new wave of ‘best practice’ ahead of the pack.
Here's our Top 7 eCommerce predictions for Small Business in 2018:-
1. Re-strategising marketing efforts:
Facebook Zero has some peeps in a tizz, but the truth is that only 1-2% (often even less) of our Facebook pages’ posts were being seen by our followers anyway, so many experts are citing the impact won't be huge for most of us. Of course, we are all planning to be using Facebook live more after Mark Z's comments, but what the overall announcement is doing is encouraging small business owners to take notice of what’s important outside of their social pipes moving forward - we think this is a GREAT thing. Owners are already turning to their own turf (email programs & websites) which is where a business owners 'real estate' really is. We think Web Designers, Email Marketing Gurus, SEO and Google Adwords experts are going to be as busier than a one eyed cat watching 9 rat holes - as business owners flock to leverage the assets they own and in their control.
2. Mobile Optimisation:
According to Email Monday, by the end of 2018 a whopping 80% of email users will access their email accounts exclusively from their mobile devices. Small business owners will need to consider the mobile user experience when building their sales and marketing plans for the year if they don’t want to miss sales opportunities. What this means for you? Make sure that your email management system is optimised for Mobiles, and ALWAYS send a test email to check it first!
3. Consider offering subscriptions:
Small Businesses selling faster moving consumables should consider offering subscriptions. Globally Amazon have been leading this with their e-commerce subscription options offering significant benefits like % off and free shipping for those customers who are prepared to subscribe to a reoccurring shipment of a certain product. As 'Big Commerce' explains this offers great upside to the online retailer in terms of retention and lower costs and great benefits to the consumer. Some small business owners are already doing well with 'mystery subscription boxes' (check some out here) where you can choose a preferred category (babies, weight loss, foodie, health, cosmetics and the list goes on!). Customers are delighted each month with a selection of goodies - big in the gift market.
4. Chat Bots:
And no, we've long been advocates for the 'Ban the Bot!' message when it comes to automated engagement on socials, but there is a place for these bots when it enhances the customer experience.
Click Start Digital says that up to '80% of businesses are set to introduce chat bots to help them control their customer service processes over the next few years’. Bitext predicts chat bots will be huge in retail as "(via Chatbot) businesses can send users personalised discounts based on their preferences, also users can ask quickly for a particular product, without struggling to search on a website, or track their order without looking on their email”. There is also sentiment that smart small business owners will move to Facebook Messenger Chatbots to nurture their leads in the light of their Facebook Business Page posts no longer appearing in the news feeds of their followers.
Chat bot technology is a good segway to chat about personalisation. Harrison Doan, from Saatva states "Marketing is becoming increasingly personal, and this trend will keep going as we move into the new year. No longer will stock images, generic nurturing campaigns, or impersonal calls to action convince consumers. In order to succeed, you’ll have to provide high-value and personalised content every step of the way." We've seen some ripper personalisation examples in the email marketing sphere lately from large brands such as easyJet who transformed the customer data they hold into individual personalised stories for EACH customer receiving the email (check it out here) and we can't wait to see how smaller brands will follow their lead - but in the meantime, think about all of your marketing, both for content and visual - is it time you invested in a little photo shoot? It can make all the difference when someone sees the face behind the brand and authenticity in what you're selling or promoting.
6. Shipping costs and options:
Starshipit says "packaging options (think eco, recyclable) will become more of a concern as the call to reduce plastics grows and ways to improve communication during fulfilment and shipping”. We also think marketplaces such as Amazon, Ebay and Ali Baba are going to 'raise the bar' around what customers expect in terms of free shipping and free returns.
7. Product Based Small Biz will turn to Amazon Marketplace:
'Amazon Australia becomes the ‘fastest-growing’ marketplace’. We suggest small to medium business owners don't view Amazon as competing for the ‘wallet' of your customers, view them as another opportunity to sell. Similar to eBay and Ali Baba its a place to sell and if you haven’t considered it, check it out. Perhaps its a different ‘customer profile’ than your typical niche? One main concern for business owners is the loss of control over customer experience and pricing so this will need to be weighed up against the prospect of additional sales. We recently connected with Judith Treanor of Temples and Markets who sells unique and ethical Accessories, Bags, Jewellery, Home Decor from Artisans in S.E Asia for Men, Women and Kids. She quotes of her experience selling on Amazon Marketplace "One thing I found very interesting was that I had my first order within 30 minutes of Amazon launching and this was for a men's wallet handmade from recycled tyre in Cambodia (i.e an ethical purchase). This totally goes against the image everyone has of Amazon. Something else to note is that Amazon hasn't launched with every category yet. Jewellery is my biggest seller in my store but jewellery isn't part of the Amazon launch. It will be very interesting to see what happens when full scale Amazon hits Australia". Definitely one for small business owners to watch and have on their radar in 2018. Jacqui lived in the UK for 4 years and knows that people search Amazon when they want to buy something as opposed to Google, its literally a search engine!
The beauty of being in small business is that your business is agile. Not having large and cumbersome processes means that you can ‘pivot' and move with the changes. We’d love to hear your thoughts on any of these trends or others you think are in store for 2018!
If reading all this puts you in a tailspin and you feel you need to get 'back to basics’. Perhaps take another look at your business plan in order to work out where is the best area to place your precious time and effort? Book a FREE discovery call with us.