At the start of each year, countless reports on the trends retailers should be following in the next 12 months begin to circulate.
There are often far too many trends to wade through (or conflicting viewpoints on which things should be the priority). The result is that many brand owners can easily feel overwhelmed or unsure about the right approach to follow.
So, should we all be trying to implement augmented reality, think sustainably or understand how to drive brand loyalty when many shoppers just want the best deal possible?
While it may be controversial to say… potentially none of these.
Although it can be tempting to jump onto TikTok because it can undercut its rivals for cheap ads, or to explore the seemingly endless potential of the metaverse, it may not always be beneficial to simply look towards ‘the next big thing’.
In order to be successful, brands must focus on prioritisation rather blindly following trends, ensuring their ecommerce strategy aligns with their core business strengths and goals.
With that in mind, here are five ways businesses can navigate the latest trends and get ahead of the competition:
1. Be clear about your strategy (and how you’ll measure success)
There are many new and exciting avenues for businesses to discover when it comes to enhancing, or redefining, their ecommerce plan. However, if you’re going to invest in a certain strategy, you’ll need to convince your C-Suite on your approach, and that means being clear on what metrics you’re using and why.
While you may have the budget to adopt the biggest and most involved strategy in the ‘eCo’sphere, as well as the framework to monitor and measure the results, the important thing to ask yourself is if it makes sense to use it. Your strategy could be centred on growth or entertainment and be dependent on Web search or social commerce – what matters is that it resonates with your customers and with you as a brand.
2. Upskill your team so they can embrace change
Having the right team and capabilities in place is invaluable to any business, and is especially critical in creating an ecommerce strategy that lasts in an ever-changing world. Although shopper behaviour continues to shift and evolve, in the past few years, companies have rarely changed the traditional roles of their teams or applied the right expertise to the right platforms.
Rather than search for new people to fill certain positions, it’s time for businesses to shake up these roles and utilise the talent that already lies in their existing teams.
A third-party agency can also help you upskill your employees in the interim, equipping staff with the relevant insight to drive the customer purchasing journey while you focus on the bigger picture.
3. Make your data actionable (and say “no” to siloes)
Most teams will have access to a wealth of Web analytics and data, but the key to success is being able to create actionable insights from the information you have.
The first step in achieving this is to identify your ideal customer journey profile. Who are the customers making the quickest route through your ecommerce site and making a purchase? And what are they engaging with?
Once you have the answers to these questions, you can share this data with the rest of your marketing team and optimise it into your business. Everyone involved must have access to these insights, eliminating any siloes.
Most importantly, remember that ecommerce is not just an online shop – it’s one area in which your customer engages, and an opportunity to use their interests and interactions to your benefit.
4. Get creative when you have less
With budgets being cut across many brands, implementing the right strategy may feel unachievable. But you can find innovative solutions and do more with less by partnering with an agency that helps you to analyse where in your business you may not be performing well and seeing what can be done to quickly fix it.
A good starting point is to look your website’s content. Is it geared towards Google’s algorithm? How can you use your internal team to make essential tech recommendations and optimise things like your page speed and load time? And what can you learn from post-purchase communications about which content your customers like the most?
Interestingly, organic traffic has increasingly been outpacing paid in the past few years, and those who have invested in the latter have ended up with slower turnaround (and less money!). Working with the right supplier can help you pinpoint where exactly your focus should be placed, ensuring your team invests its time—and finances—wisely.
5. You don’t have to be something to everyone
We’re often told a ‘new year’ calls for a ‘new you’, but there’s no need to change the essence of your brand, or to chase shiny, new objects to appeal to your customers.
However, you can be braver with your strategy and use different channels to reach them—as long as your message is consistent.
Personalised content can help immensely with your business’s success, allowing you to target your ideal customer profile. Don’t be afraid to test what works best, and use humour to engage with your audiences, conveying your brand’s tone of voice and personality in the process.
While customer purchases will be very considered this year, and you may be competing more with businesses offering better prices and discounts, you needn’t spread yourself thin or try to be something to everyone—you just need to resonate with the people that matter to you.
Prepare for success
After a few turbulent years, 2023 certainly won’t be without its challenges. But come prepared and you’ll be able to boost customer engagement, have a stronger team, and ultimately, improve your bottom line.
And that’s not a trend…that’s just good business!