The pandemic has accelerated the worldwide digital transformation. Online businesses have opportunities for massive growth. But it comes with a cost: elevated consumer expectations. Merchants who opt for “business as usual” may find survival difficult.
Now is the time to prepare for ecommerce in a post-Covid world. Here are five essentials every online store must embrace for 2022.
The New Normal for 2022
Mobile now. The world is on smartphones. Thus mobile shopping continues to grow. Depending on the source, U.S. ecommerce sales on smartphones will soon average 40% or more. In less developed countries, it’s nearly 100%. Consumers’ skepticism about mobile payments is slowly fading with the rise of faster and more secure methods.
“Mobile-first” considers everything from native smartphone-friendly user interfaces to streamlined checkouts — not scaled-down desktop experiences. For 2022, develop for mobile devices first and then scale up. It creates a more seamless experience across all device types.
Personalization throughout. Addressing a customer by the first name in marketing emails was once enough. Today, consumers expect both relevant product recommendations and reminders to purchase. By delivering dynamic content — tailored to the shopper — stores can close more sales and increase average order values.
Many platforms offer APIs, allowing businesses access to information that triggers specific actions or injects certain content into messages. A shopper’s geolocation, purchase history, marital status, career changes — all could prompt a personalized offer.
Surveys are an affordable, non-intrusive way to customize products and messaging. Pop culture retailer Hot Topic once ran an email campaign that asked recipients which Harry Potter house they preferred. Subsequent messages focused on the recipient’s preference.
Behavioral triggers a must. Relying on a shopper’s actions to determine what happens next is an excellent way to feed relevant products. While the initial setup takes some time, automated triggers learn more about customers individually and build up an arsenal of probabilities.
Populate recommendations based on each shopper’s session behavior. For example, say a shopper navigates to a category’s clearance area after scrolling through its full-price section because she did not initially find what she was looking for. If she returns to the full-priced section after browsing the clearance area, display mid-priced items, five-star ratings first. She will likely purchase those. An IF > THEN statement could provide the automation.
Just-for-you discount codes. Generating unique coupon codes for each customer is an excellent way to personalize the experience and analyze the success of campaigns. The codes can be pre-assigned or created on the fly based on an action, such as a click in an email or text.
Tying codes to each person can identify who’s engaging and facilitate personalized reminders to the others. And since no two codes are alike, you can worry less about expiration dates and unauthorized access.
Human-like chatbots. Artificial intelligence can be scary, but so is losing sales because customers can’t get answers quickly. Use today’s advanced chatbots to guide shoppers to relevant products, assist with payment issues at checkout, and provide compatibility info. They can also collect vital feedback and inform consumers about upcoming promotions.
AI-driven bots can address routine queries. Non-standard issues require a live agent. If you can’t offer 24/7 real-time support, respond to consumers first thing, every day.
Online shopping will never “return to normal.” The demands retailers have faced over the past two years are now standard heading into 2022. Prepare now by analyzing shoppers’ actions during the next several weeks. Behavior — more than sales alone — reveals consumer expectations.