E-commerce took a couple big leaps forward in innovation and efficiency in 2015. While it’s easy to examine past success and the trends of the previous year, the most important thing retailers can do now is use that knowledge to stay ahead of the curve. Here are three of the most important trends that online retailers should expect and prepare for in 2016:
The Continued Evolution of User Experience
Today’s consumer is more informed and connected than ever. And now that the millennial generation has come of age, it’s even more important to keep that in mind. Millennial shoppers expect much more from the products they buy and the brands they support. Therefore, you need to offer the best user experience possible to keep their attention. Millennials want shopping experiences that have form and function. Your customer experience must meet both of these needs or buyers will not be returning. Retailers can meet these high expectations by ensuring a seamless and streamlined shopping experience on any device.
Look at Uber’s invisible and automatic payments as a perfect example. Users tap once to choose their pick-up location and then tap again to both schedule and pay for the ride, creating a user-friendly experience where the checkout is virtually invisible.
The Simplification of Mobile Payments
The best thing retailers can do is embrace that mobile payments are the new norm. The average consumer expects the ease and simplicity of mobile payments. One of the best ways merchants can simplify their mobile checkout experience is by offering a mobile-friendly payment option. Mobile wallets and payment methods streamline the checkout process, removing much of the friction involved in paying with a mobile device. Payment options such as these go beyond simply optimizing for screen size and aim to improve conversions by making it faster and easier to check out on a mobile device. They do this by having fewer form fields, allowing for one-click checkouts and separating payment from the user experience.
Contextual Commerce: The New Model of E-Commerce
As a retailer, it’s always important to monitor shoppers’ past behaviors to predict future ones. By combining data from mobile phones, wearables and other network-connected devices, retailers are now able to go beyond just predicting behavior and can provide customers with products and services as they're needed. Contextual commerce is the combination of data from everyday devices and frictionless payments — e.g., a strength training app that knows to purchase a new 10-pack of protein bars every 10th workout. However, contextual commerce is so much more than just collecting data from Apple Watches or FitBits.
Instead of trying to use this data as a crystal ball, businesses should leverage it to provide customers with personalized and relevant promotions. If you can look past all of the numbers, you can customize your outreach to each shopper specifically and build on customer loyalty.
Bobbi Leach is the CEO of FuturePay, an e-commerce payment solution for the omnichannel shopper.