Multi-channel selling is currently the most effective way for a brand to engage with its consumers. For example, 95% of marketers agree that a multi-channel approach is currently the best approach. Further, a reported 72% of customers say that they prefer to connect with brands who are using a multi-channel approach.
However, the keystone of multi-channel marketing, e-commerce, is rapidly changing, and businesses are having trouble keeping up. The result of this change are outdated and ineffective sales and marketing strategies. Companies need to therefore understand the new and evolving e-commerce trends if they want to remain engaged with their consumers and stay ahead of the competition.
For these reasons and more, we’ve compiled a list of the most important e-commerce trends and how you can integrate these trends into your existing multi-channel approach. But first, what does a successful multi-channel strategy look like?
The Components of a Successful Multi-Channel Strategy
Multi-channel selling or marketing is a strategy that offers customers multiple ways to buy products or services from a specific brand. The benefits of a successful multi-channel approach are numerous. Specifically, a multi-channel sales strategy allows a brand to:
- Engage with customers
- Increase average basket size
- Drive repeat transactions
- Grow customer base
The result is a more successful business with comparatively more revenue and profits. Further, an effective multi-channel approach builds consumer loyalty and increases brand equity.
When creating a multi-channel approach, businesses typically include the following channels in their marketing strategy:
- In-store purchases
- Telemarketing sales
- Mail orders and physical catalog sales
- e-Commerce sales and other digital avenues
These sales channels integrate with each other to provide a seamless customer experience that drives the benefits we mentioned above. A good multi-channel strategy will include many, if not all, of these channels. For example, as many as 52% of marketers used 3 – 4 sales channels in 2017, up from 44% in 2015.
However, while most of these channels have remained static over the near-term, e-commerce is constantly changing. This is a big problem – and potentially a big opportunity – because it’s e-commerce that integrates all these channels together. Digital provides the consumer with extra touch points and helps drive sales across every medium.
So, if e-commerce is that important to a multi-channel strategy, what are the changing trends and how can a brand take advantage of them?
Future e-Commerce Trends to Watch
There are many e-commerce trends. And many of these e-commerce trends change quicker than we can keep track. However, there are seven e-commerce trends that all multi-channel marketers should understand.
1. Real-Time Shopping Customization
One of the many benefits of big data is that brands are now able to customize the shopping experience for each customer. This customization is based on a consumer’s clickstream data and past purchase history.
The main thing that’s customized is the type of products and services marketed. For example, retailers like Amazon have custom catalogs that change their recommendations depending on the customer. You’ll also notice that Amazon links products together, suggesting complimentary items during checkout.
However, customization doesn’t stop there. Based on big data, a brand can change the entire online shopping experience for each and every customer. Colors can change, design options can vary, and almost any other aspect of a customer’s journey can be customized. This helps drive basket size, loyalty, and repeat transactions.
2. Artificially Intelligent Customer Service
Technology is changing the way customers interact with brands. For example, artificially intelligent chatbots are often the first line of customer service. This provides a huge benefit to multi-channel companies while also providing some drawbacks.
As far as the benefits, artificial intelligence allows a brand to offer its customers a fast and seamless service approach that increases loyalty and customer happiness. It can reduce a company’s overhead and lets the business re-allocate the working capital to other needs. Further, it can help drive additional sales and increase brand equity.
However, artificial intelligence also has its downsides. For example, customers might get caught in a never-ending chat loop where their issues aren’t addressed yet they can’t contact anyone else about the matter. It’s important that when you implement artificial intelligence into your multi-channel plan that you integrate it with your existing customer service team, rather than replacing the team completely.
3. Predictive Sales Analysis
Big data, in addition to helping with customization, also helps brands use predictive sales analysis. This analysis uses statistics, machine learning, data mining, and data modeling to predict future sales events. For example, predictive sales analysis is used by brands to forecast seasonality and helps companies meet with volatile customer demand.
Predictive sales processes help a multi-channel brand connect sales data with effective action that results in the brand staying ahead of the curve. This analysis helps business leaders draw reliable conclusions about current conditions and future events and then devise a sales and marketing strategy around these conclusions.
In fact, Salesforce just reported that 79% of high-performing companies use some sort of predictive sales analysis. Companies like these use their analysis to forecast everything from inventory to the price of their products and services. If you want to implement an effective multi-channel approach, you’ll need to take advantage of predictive analysis.
4. Same-Day Delivery
e-Commerce has changed so much that online brands have to deliver their products and services with increasing speed. For example, Amazon now offers same-day delivery on Prime orders over £40 in 5,000 cities worldwide. Further, companies such as FedEx are following suit. However, FedEx currently only offers same-day delivery to 20 metro areas in the United States.
Regardless, online brands are going to have to keep up with the trends. Customers are coming to expect quick delivery. If not same day, they certainly want it within 48 hours. Lucky for multi-channel companies, technology and supply chain management has reached a point where it’s possible to offer same day or near-same day delivery.
Offering speedy delivery of physical and digital products puts customers in the “buying mood.” Consumers are more likely to impulse buy online if the delivery is quick. Further, it helps increase the value of the customer experience and increases consumer loyalty.
5. Increased e-Commerce Usage
One of the major trends of e-commerce is that e-commerce is now used more than any other sales channel. ComScore recently released a study showing that shoppers now make as much as 51% of their purchases online. This is compared with 48% in 2015 and 47% in 2014.
Further, these online purchases are happening more and more on digital devices. The same ComScore study shows that 44% of smartphone users use their phone to make online purchases, compared with 41% in 2015.
This trend shows that it’s immensely important for a multi-channel strategy to focus on e-commerce sales. Specifically, mobile usage and mobile payments need to be considered if a brand wants to be successful in this changing world.
6. Use of Blockchain
Blockchain is the technology most known for its part in Bitcoin. However, people are now using blockchain to seamlessly integrate their digital assets and even integrate with third-party vendors.
For example, blockchain is making it easier for vendors to accept the loyalty programmes of other businesses. This is because the blockchain code allows a ledger of transactions to be shared across multiple networks at once. No more confusing loyalty programs.
Further, blockchain can integrate platforms in such a way that it limits transaction fees. This helps brands reduce pass-through costs to their customers, providing them with value at a comparatively lower cost. Companies can then expand their vendor network and get the best deals for their business. It’s important to begin using blockchain platform development if you want a seamless multi-channel approach.
Integrating e-Commerce Trends With Existing Multi-Channel Strategies
If you can integrate these changing e-commerce trends with an existing multi-channel marketing strategy, the results can be immediate. In fact, these e-commerce trends, if taken advantage of, can increase marketing ROI and help brands get ahead of their competitors.
For example, a survey conducted by Invesp found that 30% of brands use a multi-channel approach to increase ROI. As much as 13% of respondents use multi-channel marketing specifically to stay in front of the competition. Further, the survey found that multi-channel customers spend as much as 3x more than single-channel consumers.
When integrating these new e-commerce trends into an existing multi-channel strategy, make sure that efforts are spread evenly between:
- Social media marketing
- Email marketing
- Physical and print advertising
- Mobile-based marketing
- Online and traditional video marketing
- Live events marketing
Specifically, brands should seek to implement the following into their multi-channel marketing approach:
- Blockchain when integrating online platforms
- Artificial intelligence as the first customer touchpoint
- Supply chains that allow for the fast physical delivery of products
- Predictive sales analysis that helps management spot trends
- Unique and customizable user journeys
The bottom line is that brands need to become aware of e-commerce trends if they want to have a successful multi-channel marketing strategy. These trends will help companies stay ahead of the curve and increase average basket size, the number of repeat customers, the size of their user base, and increase customer loyalty.
The result is a more effective and efficient business that increase revenue while decreasing working capital, thus increasing bottom line. And all while providing a better customer service experience.