There are more than nine million online retailers, and around two million of those retailers are in the US alone. That is enough to tell anyone that there is fierce competition.
In every niche, there are thousands of online stores. It is difficult to create a space for oneself in the crowded market. So, how will e-commerce stores stand out?
A few years ago, when there were very few online stores, simply being able to place an order was enough. However, with everyone stepping up their game and the progress of technology, it is important to keep up and build an overall better experience for the customers.
In toto, you not just need to know your customers but proactively engage them to sell better online. This blog focuses on online shopping trends that small businesses need to know about to have a successful year ahead.
Shopping Behavior Trends in the US
As per the survey conducted by Intuit, more than 50% of the consumers shopped locally, while almost 40% supported local creators. Many respondents also said that they preferred shopping locally or with small-scale businesses as they provide better customer service.
While the popularity of small businesses among US buyers is evident, businesses must stay wary of the three online shopping behavior trends:
Brick and Mortar stores are still relevant
Just because e-commerce stores are gaining traction, it doesn’t mean that offline stores do not have any importance.
In fact, there has been an 85% increase in searches for ‘where to buy’ and ‘where to shop’ on the internet in the past years. That means people are still searching for where they can buy these products in brick-and-mortar stores. They still go to a store when they do not want to wait for days to get the product.
Moreover, these days people prefer an omnichannel experience for shopping. The majority of the people going to the stores like to research the product they want to purchase before actually going to buy the product. A lot of people are also in favor of checking out a store’s website, shortlisting a few items, and then buying them in-store.
They also like to book appointments online before going to the store. It is useful for boutiques, jewelry stores, cafes, bakeries, and so on.
Almost three-quarters of in-store buyers research online before visiting. They also like to check the availability of the product online before visiting the store. So, it is crucial for businesses to have an online presence.
Even if they have an offline store, it is important to have a digital presence. That is how people will be able to gauge whether they want to visit the particular store or not.
So, even if business owners want to have brick-and-mortar shops, it is crucial for them to gain an online presence so that customers can shop with them. Businesses can connect with SmallBusinessWeb to develop a slick website for their offline and online stores.
Customer retention is tough
Jason Finkelstein, the CMO of AdRoll, said in an interview with Forbes that 75% of consumers do not return to the same online store after purchasing once. This data was taken by observing Shopify customers. This goes on to show just how difficult it is to hang on to keep customers.
Even in the coming year, it is going to be just as difficult. There will be many choices for the consumers to choose from in 2023 as well. And there is a very strong possibility that retaining customers is going to become even more difficult. Therefore, e-commerce stores will have to take all possible measures to provide a good experience to their customers.
Customer experience matters
Providing personalized deals and information can go a long way in enhancing the shopping journey for consumers. Consumers appreciate personalized customer service. Almost 50% of consumers are of the opinion that the shopping experience would be better if they got promotions and deals specific to their past purchases.
Moreover, when people want to shop online, they want to understand the product as well as possible. As they won’t be able actually to experience the product, they want the information and images as close to the real product as possible.
85% of consumers want accurate images and information, as they are crucial while making shopping decisions online.
All these things, providing a personalized experience, providing top-notch deals, displaying accurate pictures, etc., are crucial parts of a good customer experience.
How can US Small Businesses Align Themselves with Latest Trends?
70% of the consumers supported local businesses by shopping online as well as offline.
This pretty much sums up the strategy for small businesses to adopt in near future.
Investing for the long term in creating online sales and marketing channels should be the way forward. Businesses can strengthen their reach through online channels and provide top-notch services to grow even in current tough times.
In their pursuit of investing in an online channel, small businesses may take care of the following:
E-Commerce is and will be a big deal
The pandemic came as a boost for the e-commerce industry. Earlier, people preferred in-store shopping over online. However, the lockdown period changed the situation quickly. Now, more than 80% of the American population shops online. That means more than 263 million Americans shop online. And more than half the population now prefers shopping online.
These numbers are expected to only rise in 2023. The comfort of shopping from one’s home is preferred by the majority. Home delivery is the main reason for the rise of online shopping. The past couple of years has shown consumers that it is possible to shop without going through traffic and commotion. They can tirelessly shop from the peace and quiet of their home.
So, for upcoming business owners, making a space in the online niche is crucial. If they want to boost their business, then going online will be the way to go.
Focus on quality features
Nowadays, only having a quality product is not enough. It is just as important to make a quality app and website. Customers want fast websites and mobile apps. They do not want interruptions in their shopping journey. They do not want to wait while the site takes too long to load; they’ll just drop the idea and find a different store.
If the website is not up to the mark, then the consumers may not go as far as experiencing the product. In an offline store, there are sales representatives that can guide the customers in the right direction if they are unable to search for something. However, in online stores, customers have to browse through the store by themselves. Therefore, businesses have to ensure that customers can quickly find what they are looking for.
Almost 50% of consumers prioritize good navigation and search features over others. Therefore, businesses need to have easy-to-navigate pages, search options, etc. SmallBusinessWeb has a dedicated team that can provide clean and sophisticated UI/UX for the website.
Make shopping easy for customers
When customers go online to shop, 9 out of 10 do not have a fixed brand in their mind while shopping. Now, the good thing about people not having a specific brand in mind is that anybody has an opportunity to gain customers. But the downside is that stores will have to put in a lot of effort to maintain a loyal customer base.
Moreover, 80% of smartphone users are likely to buy from a store or app that can help them find answers to their questions. At any given time, 84% of American consumers are shopping for something in six different categories. So, if brands could make it easy for them to make a purchase, they could gain customers.
Providing helpful content via blogs and other channels helps customers in their shopping journey. They want the process of shopping to become easier for them. And if brands can provide them with the right tools to make a decision, then they can increase recurring customers as well. That is why many businesses are focusing on increasing their brand awareness as well. They are providing helpful content related to their product so that their audience can one day become their buyers as well.
SmallBusinessWeb offers premium services to help in this area. It can help small businesses with branding and content marketing so that they can grow in 2023.
Mobile E-Commerce is crucial
Nowadays, people with smartphones want to be able to shop comfortably on their phones. People like the flexibility of using a smartphone anywhere, and they want to be able to complete their shopping on these devices.
Mobile commerce or m-commerce is expected to account for almost 45% of US retail eCommerce sales by 2025. 90% of the consumers are of the opinion that the mobile shopping experience can be improved heaps. And a little above 10% of consumers think that m-commerce is convenient.
Some of the primary issues are security concerns, links being too small to link, interrupting notifications from apps and other programs, and trouble finding what they were looking for.
Therefore, now on the threshold of 2023, it is not just enough to have a functional experience while shopping on phones; it needs to be better.
Something online shopping lacks is the interactive experience people have while shopping in-store. Gamification, like Promotional contests, tiered VIP loyalty programs, or spin-to-win opportunities can amp up the experience by encouraging customer behavior for additional benefits.
The retail industry was one of the early adopters of gamified solutions. It holds a 28.6% market share and is expected to grow further by 2025.
The ‘Gamification’ Market Report’s data suggests that businesses can increase their customer acquisition by 700%. In the coming years, businesses could explore gamification more and see how it is benefitting their online stores.
So, these are some of the trends small businesses can watch out for in 2023.
And that’s where SmallBusinessWeb comes in.
We can help small businesses with various services like branding, website development, designing, content marketing, and digital marketing. Businesses can make their digital presence stronger with SmallBusinessWeb.
We invite you to connect with us anytime to take forward this discussion.