Leveraging e-commerce trends to help your business attract more customers and drive increased sales is a smart move for marketers in 2024.
E-commerce has grown swiftly over the past few years, for good reason. Selling online allows businesses to streamline and reduce operating costs while reaching larger audiences of potential customers.
These are tempting advantages for marketers in any business climate. Consumers have also enthusiastically embraced online shopping over the past few years, with staggering sales results. For example, from February 2020 to July 2022, retail e-commerce sales increased by 67.9 per cent in Canada.
Benefits of leveraging e-commerce
Consumers who have eagerly adopted e-commerce now expect to be able to find and order a wide range of items online, and businesses must keep pace with expectations in order to stay competitive.
If you have yet to offer a way for customers to purchase from you online, you could be missing out on potential sales and growth opportunities. Expanding how you serve your customers can help you meet these expectations, strengthen your business and protect future sales growth.
The competitive advantages of e-commerce include:
- Increased reach and potential markets.
- Lower costs when compared to a traditional storefront.
- Valuable customer data insights.
- Better options for scalability.
- Improved customer engagement and support.
- Precise targeting for marketing campaigns.
- Increased customer convenience and satisfaction.
Whether selling online is a new or established practice for your business, you must stay on top of the trends shaping how your customers search for, find and purchase the goods and services they need.
Some 2024 marketing trends will be important to consider for your overall marketing strategy, but others are particularly important to note for e-commerce businesses and those looking to leverage online sales.
Let’s examine each trend and why it matters to your customers – and, by extension, your business.
1. Exploring direct-to-consumer sales
Direct-to-consumer sales, or DTC, involves selling your products directly to consumers through online channels, skipping intermediaries such as larger retailers.
Selling directly to customers lets you connect with them in a way that allows you to control your brand messaging, pricing and customers’ experiences. As a bonus, you’ll gather valuable customer data and insights that can help guide future marketing.
2. Selling subscription packages
A clever approach to turn one sale into many is to offer products or services through subscription models, where customers sign up to receive regular product shipments, services, and program or platform access.
These subscriptions create a regular, ongoing relationship with your customers, who pay a recurring fee for continuous access to what you sell. The benefit for your business is a predictable, steady income and the opportunity to nurture relationships and customer loyalty.
3. Allowing direct message customer service and selling
Embracing direct messaging platforms for customer service and sales enables businesses to engage with customers personally and quickly within platforms the customers may already be comfortable using.
To build solid relationships, it’s critical to engage with customers in a direct and prompt way. This allows you to address concerns quickly and make customer transactions as smooth as possible, helping you earn positive reviews and repeat business.
4. Providing same-day or next-day delivery
If you haven’t already explored a range of possible shipping options, it’s time to figure out how to trim delivery times to meet your customers’ growing demand for convenient shipping options.
Customers expect swift deliveries, creating a demand for fast and convenient shipping options across all product categories, from personal items and clothing to office supplies. Offering upgraded shipping options allows you to compete with brick-and-mortar stores and delight customers with a positive experience.
5. Enabling chatbots and automated communication
Bringing chatbots and automation into customer interactions streamlines your communication processes, providing your customers with instant responses and personalized experiences.
These features can improve customer service by handling routine queries and providing automated support throughout a customer interaction.
6. Getting comfortable with your tech stack
It’s time to explore the capabilities of your tech stack (or collection of digital tools) to ensure all platforms work together smoothly to boost operational efficiency.
Learning how different tools work together and leveraging what each tech platform can do for you can help you make the most of your marketing budget. Integrating software and tools can streamline processes, help you manage data effectively and ensure you’re ready to adapt to new technologies as they evolve.
7. Expanding social commerce to new platforms
Beyond traditional social media channels, businesses are expanding their presence to new platforms for social commerce.
Social commerce isn’t just limited to Facebook and Instagram, and it may be time to explore new social platforms and features to showcase your products. Embracing new platforms can help you connect with your audience, display what you offer and make sales directly on the platforms instead of coaxing customers to your website or online store.
8. Offering eco-friendly or sustainable options
With increased consumer awareness of environmental issues, businesses must incorporate eco-friendly and sustainable practices into their product offerings and shipping options.
Consumers increasingly care about the environment and will be taking notice of your company’s alignment. By offering eco-friendly and sustainable products, you’re tapping into a growing market of socially responsible shoppers. Be sure to communicate these choices on your website.
9. Expanding product lines across categories
E-commerce businesses looking to grow should evaluate diversifying their product portfolios by expanding into new categories, allowing them to increase the average purchase per customer.
Don’t stick to just one type of product. Instead, diversify your offerings by expanding into new categories. It’s about reaching a broader audience, keeping your customers engaged and staying competitive by offering a variety of products that match changing preferences.
10. Exploring research online, purchase or pickup offline
Recognizing the importance of omnichannel experiences, this practice of “research online, purchase offline” (also called ROPO) encourages customers to research products online and then choose the option to purchase or pick up items in physical stores.
Let your customers research products online and choose to buy or pick them up in-store. It’s about blending online and offline experiences to provide flexibility, convenience and a seamless shopping journey.
11. Selling in a cookie-less world
As privacy concerns grow, browsers are increasingly limiting the use of third-party cookies. Cookies are small text sent to users’ browsers when they visit different websites. They’ve been useful in helping businesses understand the behaviour of website visitors.
Exploring alternative technologies like first-party data and contextual targeting is becoming essential. Look for ways to personalize user experiences without relying on traditional tracking methods in a cookie-less online environment.
12. Building on the customer experience beyond purchase
After someone completes a transaction from your online business, ensure they receive communication to check in on their experience and to make them aware of relevant offers or promotions.
Any customer who buys from your business once could become a repeat customer, increasing their lifetime value to your business. Examining and improving what occurs after a customer purchases from your company to create opportunities for another purchase can help maximize your sales and keep your business growing.
What hasn’t changed for marketers looking to make the most of 2024? Focusing on consumer needs, delivering value and leveraging what you know or can learn about your audience of potential customers.
By paying close attention to how consumers spend their money online, you can position your business to meet customer expectations and optimize potential sales growth in the future.
Book a consultation with a Postmedia expert to learn more about what to expect for e-commerce in the year ahead.