The Future of eCommerce in 2019 It’s not just high street stores who are fighting for custom and on-going loyalty; competition between eCommerce outlets is also becoming increasingly intense. The days when simply having an online store or payment facilities put you ahead are long gone. With a growing number of companies gaining greater awareness of the potential of the online market, virtual marketing has become a fast-paced, dynamic sales arena where outdated or inadequate eCommerce facilities can make a significant difference to your bottom line.With 2019 here already, we’ve taken a look at some of the trends which are often attributed to sustainable eCommerce success. If your business hasn’t already incorporated some or all of these, they’re well worth a second look. Taking a little time now to try and position yourself for measurable positive change in the new year could make all the difference. Read on to discover what we think is likely to make the most impact on your eCommerce marketing this year.Customer Experience Remains CrucialIt’s long been recognized that how the customer interacts with your site is critical to their continued engagement. Customers no longer expect to hunt down what they need, suffer a lengthy and inconvenient ordering or payment process, then have to go through the whole procedure again when they next require goods and services. Maximizing the satisfaction customers feel when they turn to you for what they need is a critical part of capturing their continued attention and loyalty. Not only is it vital that your site is easy to find and irresistible to use, aftercare and continuing positive engagement once the sales transaction is complete are vital if you are going to keep retention rates high.The focus of engagement has shifted from simply attracting customers and facilitating a sale towards building more long-term relationships: this is frequently achieved through enabling greater participation and dialogue with your brand. Audiences are increasingly purchasing not just on the basis of price or quality, but also on brand messages. This means that variables such as your values, ethos, commitment, promises, and style now play a crucial part in the decision-making process. We predict that, in 2019, your brand’s “personality” is going to become even more important than it is now when it comes to persuading your customers that you are the right choice for their requirements.Care For Your AudiencePart of showing your customers what type of business you are is the level of care you extend to them: this is where your eCommerce website design becomes critical. Real life stores are able to show their customers care, empathy, communication, and consideration through direct personal service: the challenge for online marketing in the next year or so will be to replicate that experience in the digital environment, providing customers with what they need to capture that elusive “feel-good” factor. A well thought out website can go a long way towards achieving this, providing seamless service that makes purchasing or displaying some other form of desirable behavior the easiest and most pleasurable choice.“Small” Screens Continue to DominateEnhancing the customer experience requires a site that’s specifically designed to meet their needs. With the number of people who use their mobile phones to access the internet continuing to grow, making sure that your online content is easily viewed and interacted with on mobile screens (otherwise known as “responsive”), has never been more important. In fact, depending on your audience, you may want to think about prioritizing the needs of mobile users over desktop users. Keeping a “mobile first” approach in mind to your website design is a marked change from the past when desktops and laptops were the prevalent means of accessing the web.Conversion Rate OptimizationA smooth, swift progression from site entry to sale completion, making an inquiry or leaving contact details is a priority now and will remain so into 2019. Emphasizing the importance of the customer experience further, the best sites are going to be those that are designed and tested with the end user in mind. To achieve this, a significant number of businesses are opting to use CRO (conversion optimization) as part of their site design and marketing. CRO employs a range of techniques, from the placement of calls to action through to tinkering with layout, payment process and similar, in order to find the best fit with customer aspirations and needs. Testing a variety of formats is a key part of CRO, using real customers to discover which layout works best for them. Although CRO isn’t an exact science, if used correctly it can help to fine-tune your online presence so that it is as appealing as it can be to your audience. As we believe the underlying theme for 2019 will be customer experience, CRO, with its direct relationship to the way in which your audience interacts with your site, is likely to be a useful tool to enhance the results you’re looking for. User experience software, such as Hotjar, are key tools when it comes to optimizing your conversion rates.Each Customer MattersIt’s common sense that no two customers are exactly alike. We believe 2019 is the year when ensuring your brand speaks and is customizable to each member of your audience becomes crucial. Providing a unique experience for each user isn’t an easy task, and requires several components to be successful. Make sure that the data you have on your audience as a whole is complete as possible, and that you’re using the right tools to capture as much personalized data as possible. Combining research data with data obtained through each online capture will provide the individualized data required to provide a carefully tailored experience at every stage. The value of a customized approach extends not only to capturing contact data, follow-up emails and similar, it also means collating and storing data on previous contacts and transactions. For example, if a cart was abandoned with items in it, what is your response if and when the customer returns? Do you ensure that each time a customer comes back, there are helpful suggestions and information to further inform their future purchasing choices? Magento, for example, has marketing tools that can build in many of these features, allowing you to provide each customer with their own, special experience when they visit you. Rather like a real life, old-time shopkeeper would have remembered customer names, preferences and habits, to engage with your customers as fully as possible, your site needs to do the same in the virtual world.AR & eCommerceAdvances in technology mean that there are more opportunities than ever before to immerse customers in sophisticated graphics, videos, and imagery. The rise of Augmented Reality (AR) graphics allows customers to more fully experience your products, gaining a better idea of what they look like and how they will fit with their overall needs. AR allows accurate product portrayal that gives the customer valuable information on your products which is harder to convey in written form or even photographs. Product sizing, for example, can be more accurately portrayed through AR. In addition, video clips and animation will continue to be important ways of enhancing customer experience into 2019 and beyond. While good quality content that informs and entertains will remain at the heart of SEO, once customers reach your site, it is often the visual aspects which may be more compelling.2019: The Year of the IndividualWhether you sell to consumers or are a B2B business, customized, obliging service is likely to be what puts you ahead in 2019. Obviously having good quality products at a competitive price matters, but across the board, businesses are waking up to the fact that building a meaningful, long-term relationship with customers is what is going to make the difference when it comes to sustainable profit. Building loyalty requires that your brand resonates with your audience, which means that every aspect of their experience with you needs to be a positive one that puts customer care at its center.Need help with a customer-focused eCommerce design or marketing strategy? Contact Newbird today!