With record e-commerce spending of $32.6 billion during the 2010 holiday selling season resulting in a 12-percent increase over 2009, according to comScore, and the first billion-dollar online shopping day behind us, there's no doubt that e-commerce is on a robust growth trajectory for 2011.
Along with thriving online sales, the e-commerce landscape is changing rapidly, bringing new opportunities, technologies and trends every day. In 2011, there are many noteworthy e-commerce trends to keep on your radar. If you sell online, you've likely heard about the massive increase in mobile commerce sales, the continuing trend of using social media marketing to drive traffic to your store and the huge increase in global commerce.
But along with these "big three" are a number of other significant trends in e-commerce that will change the way you do business and market your products this year. Let's look at five that you should take advantage of—right now—to drive your sales this year.
1. Content marketing
When it comes to marketing your e-commerce site, content is still king. The big change for 2011 is the type of content you'll market with and where you'll use it.
In 2011, content is not only written, it's video, audio and visual. Video is a major factor this year, as we'll discuss in a bit. Audio content brings life to your store and your product pages. And visuals, like photos and info-graphics (feature comparison charts, 3-D product renderings, etc.) set the standard when it comes to breaking up text-heavy pages.
Content, as always, must be keyword-rich, relevant and useful for your viewers. When you get it right, it packs a powerful punch! Search engines reward content—and your customers love it. It also keeps visitors engaged and on your site longer, a factor directly linked to sales.
A new twist to this trend is the places you'll use content marketing. Below are just a few examples of where you can use content marketing across the Web:
- Store product pages
- eBay store pages
- Facebook pages
- Article marketing
- E-mail marketing
Search engines reward content. People might not find your store's home page on the first page of Google results, but the article you wrote about the product, a blog post or video review can easily make its way to page one.
Your customers love content as well. It adds value and richness to their experience at your store or site, which keeps them on your site longer, or returning to your store more frequently—both things that lead to increased sales.
It's no longer sufficient to put up a Web store that looks like a product catalog, and call it good
2. Social commerce
It's interesting to hear people talk about social commerce as a "new trend." Ask any serious offline shopper, and they'll tell you that shopping has always been a social activity.
What's changed is where we do our shopping. With more and more people shopping online, it's only natural that e-commerce would eventually evolve into a more social buying experience.
This brings up the importance of differentiating social commerce from social media marketing. Social media marketing is the practice of using social media to drive traffic to your store or site. Social commerce is helping people buy where they connect, or connect where they buy. For online store owners, social commerce must become a way of thinking about transacting business online.
No longer is it sufficient (nor will it convert to sales) to put up a Web store that looks like a product catalog, and call it good. You must continually work to make your sites more people friendly, "sticky" through the use of content, both user-generated content and interactive.
You'll also want to be on the lookout for tools that will help you achieve this in your store as well as help you bring your products to the social sites where people connect.
This brings us to the other part of this trend, and an area where we'll see big advancements in 2011… and that is social commerce technology—the technologies and applications that enable us to make our online stores more social, and help people shop where they connect.
In December, JCPenney brought its entire online catalog to Facebook—an integration that enables people to shop directly from the JCPenney catalog, right on Facebook.
Facebook, itself, also recently started an e-commerce department focused on developing tools to will allow retailers to sell from within their Facebook pages. At the same time, sites like Addoway and Wishpot are making rapid inroads into social commerce integration for online sellers.
3. Video and visual search
With 65 percent of the population being visual learners, and recent statistics cited by Bing revealing that Web visitors are able to process information up to 30 percent more rapidly when it's provided in a combination of video and text, the use of video is one of the hottest trends in e-commerce.
Whether you're using it to demonstrate or review a product, showcase its features, or engage your viewers, integrating video into your sales and marketing strategy is key this year.
And don't think that a professional studio setup is necessary. Two of our clients, Bill and Maida Webster, owners of eBay Store Connectibles, shot a simple video to showcase a great collectible find. They added some music and put together a quick and easy video that has generated over 56,000 views on YouTube.
That's 56,000+ people who know about their store and may not have found it any other way. Even better, it's video marketing on autopilot!
When video is part of the shopping experience, visitors are 64 percent more likely to purchase
But it's not just traffic and visibility that make video such a powerful tool. Another comScore study revealed that when video was part of the shopping experience, visitors were 64 percent more likely to purchase than without it, and found that consumers stayed on a shopping site for an additional two minutes. And it doesn't stop there.
What about the search engines? It's another win/win situation. Keyword-optimized videos get additional visibility in search as well as provide another avenue to boost the SEO rankings of your site.
4. Deals of the day
The original deal-of-the-day site, Woot (recently acquired by Amazon), sparked a huge e-commerce trend that continues to morph and grow in 2011. Deal-of-the-day sites have extended into many niches and daily deals are now offered by big companies such as eBay and Amazon.
Running a daily deal has proven to be a profitable marketing tactic. It can also significantly increase traffic and drive repeat buyers.
Independent online retailers can capitalize on this trend by holding their own deal-of-the-day events. You can do this on your existing site, or even use Twitter or Facebook to run daily specials, by publicizing specific coupon codes or links to discounted product exclusively on these sites.
Deal-of-the-day promotions generate excitement, attract shoppers who are excited to get a good deal, foster user-generated content and reviews, and promote viral, word-of-mouth marketing.
5. E-commerce blogs
Online retailers are just now starting to realize the power of blogs. Your e-commerce blog is the place where your customers go to find out more about the face behind the company, to interact with your brand on a level they can't on a product page.
A blog helps build credibility, provide value to your customers, and create of perception of expertise and authority in your niche. It offers a bigger platform to showcase your products, provides a venue for more information, videos, etc., and creates valuable inbound links to your store.
In 2011, having an e-commerce blog moves front and center. No longer just an add-on, it's now a key part of your online marketing strategy.
The beauty in these five e-commerce trends is that they're effective for every online retailer—no matter what you sell, or where you sell it; big or small operation, big-budget, or bootstrapping business.
But there are more big trends that you need to know about! Get your free video series today on the Top 11 E-commerce Trends for 2011.
When you integrate these e-commerce trends in your business, you'll increase your traffic and conversions. You'll also keep ahead of the game. And in a rapidly changing industry like e-commerce, being a leader in your category is the path to success.