Did you know that 51 percent of Americans prefer to shop online rather than in stores? This figure jumps to 56 percent for Gen Xers and 67 percent for millennials. Some predict that ecommerce sales will top $520 billion annually by 2020. These figures suggest that retailers and marketers need to fully embrace ecommerce to survive. The consumer of today is on several devices – smartphone, tablet, computer – and expects an online shopping experience that’s quick, easy, and user-friendly. Brands that don’t deliver, or that have no online presence at all, will simply die out. Here are several mobile marketing trends that will set the standard for this year.
The use of social media to drive traffic to ecommerce sites is not new. But platforms like Facebook and Instagram are constantly making it easier for brands to sell their products. Shopify through Facebook, for example, allows customers to purchase products without leaving the social platform. There are also the likes of Facebook Live and Instagram influencers.
Often overlooked in the world of mobile marketing, Snapchat is taking ecommerce in its stride. This year saw the launch of video shopping ads with some brands testing a built-in buying option. This involved the user swiping up from the ad to order the product. Even though ads aren’t widely available yet, the use of sponsored geofilters, regular filters, and live stories presents brands with opportunities to leverage the platform. 2017 may be the year that Snapchat grows into the next big thing in social commerce and mobile marketing.
With Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft all releasing new updates on their chatbots, brands are sitting up and taking notice. Chatbots are artificially intelligent agents that help customers while browsing on ecommerce sites through messenger apps. They stimulate intelligent conversations, guide consumer purchases, follow up on orders and help answer any queries. An example of this is Clickatell Touch as it is able to answer customers and field queries for call center agents. A lot of AI systems, including Touch, use machine learning to develop more effective communication the more often they’re used and they can be quite fun and engaging. They can’t respond to every question, of course, and they still have their limits, but they remain an important development in ecommerce and will undoubtedly be further developed in 2017.
Related: The rise of the chatbot
Bridging the gap between physical and online shopping has been a constant challenge for emarketers. Google’s Local Inventory Ads and apps like Glitch from adidas are two examples of how retailers are finding new ways to connect the dots between their brick and mortar stores and ecommerce sites. One way of doing this is through omnichannel marketing. Omnichannel marketing is using multiple consumer touchpoints that all achieve a common goal. What consumers see online, they’ll see in the brand’s brick and mortar stores, physical pop-ups and showrooms. In this way, brands encourage deeper relationships with their customers, instead of constantly interacting with them through a screen.
The online fashion site, Missguided, executed this perfectly when they opened their first brick and mortar store in London earlier this year. Even though the ecommerce market is booming, customers still prefer to have the choice of buying online or buying in-store. While the hype around the opening was huge, the store has become a place where customers can collect online purchases. Founder of Missguided, Nitlin Pass, says of the store, “As a brand, it’s important for us to be present wherever our customer wants to shop with us, be it online or off.” And click and collect is fast becoming a popular method of doing ecommerce retail.
One platform in omnichannel marketing that’s making great strides in ecommerce is SMS. The channel is leveraging the proliferation of smartphones to help brands get the word out on promotions, discounts, and reward programs. To read more about the benefits of using SMS and mobile marketing in ecommerce, read our latest article. It highlights some great benefits of SMS as a business aid.