Are you ready for the other most wonderful time of the year? For retailers, Back-to-School is the second-busiest season, only to be outdone by Black Friday-Cyber Monday and holiday shopping. An annual survey released by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights and Analytics states that Back to school is an event where families plan to spend more than ever on supplies ranging from pencils and backpacks to computers and dorm refrigerators.
Parents aren’t the only targets for shopping: Young shoppers (K-12) are spending more of their own money on BTS items, with 13-18-year-olds spending an average of $36.71 (up from $30.88 in 2009) and pre-teens spending an average of $26.40 (up from $11.94 in 2009).Source: NRF.
Here’s a round-up of the main areas that are at the forefront of the E-commerce industry and the most effective E-commerce trends that’ll help retailers capitalize on back to school& for maximizing their sales during the season.
Artificial Intelligence & Predictive Analytics: Predictive Analytics in retail can provide a great deal of power when it comes to automation and predicting a customer's actions. A good example here is an email campaign. By leveraging the power of Predictive Analytics, retailers can predict the most effective time to send certain emails to their customers by crunching important data such as conversion rates, opening rates and engagement rates. By crunching the customer's data, they can essentially learn what customers want and when!
AI applies advanced analysisto interpret events, automate decisions, and take actions. By 2020 we will see a lot more E-commerce retailers decode the value of AI and leverage AI-powered solutions.For example, a retailer had created a website that generates its content, based entirely on what the visitor first searches for on the homepage, whether by voice search or text entry via keyboard. Everything the user sees is chosen and displayed by Artificial Intelligence technology. This is where the term ‘dynamic content’ comes into play. Instead of the company making an educated guess on what every user should see on the site's homepage, the content is changeable, or ‘dynamic’. What’s great here is the level of personalization it provides!
Subscription e-commerce: Subscription-based E-commerce businesses have gained a lot of attention in recent years. Everything from groceries to video games can be now sold on a recurring and automatically renewing basis. Organizations can benefit from subscription commerce with repeatable and predictable revenue; customers like the convenience cost savings and personalized curation. According to Gartner, by 2023, 75% of organizations selling direct to consumers will offer subscription services, but only 20% will succeed in increasing customer retention. A subscription-based health and beauty service could also leverage the power of predictive analytics to make product recommendations to the next level by providing a fully curated shopping experience. The service model could create a customized package for a person that anticipates his or her individual needs. Such a service could provide genuine convenience and delight.
API Commerce: Businesses are building modular platforms instead of relying on a single monolithic commerce solution to improve their flexibility and agility in supporting new customer experiences, business models and ecosystem partners. API-based commerce enables organizations to decouple the front end from the back-end and allows you to make rapid changes without disturbing the back-end, and vice versa. It also means new functionalities and integrations can be applied with much less time, because of the openness of the architecture. Retailers can now look forward to a powerful and engaging e-commerce site.
Unified Commerce: Unified commerce is one step beyond the Omni Channel. Customers use an increasing number of channels throughout the buying and owning stages. Unified retail commerce not only offers consistency across channels but also a continuous experience throughout the customer journey. It is essentially a single platform or Solution that connects all the dots within your business. It offers a single view of your inventory and all the channels you sell on.
On the flip side, it also offers a single view of your customer—their purchasing history and personal details, no matter which channel they choose to interact with you through. In fact, in a survey of 500 top North American retailers, Boston Retail Partners identified that 81% of retailers will deploy a unified platform by 2020.
Visual commerce: Visual commerce enables users to interact with a brand’s products in a visual, immersive manner. Visual commerce technology spans 360-degree video, 2D and 3D configuration, visual search, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). One of the biggest issues when it comes to basket abandonment online is the doubt of purchase. This doubt comes from only being able to view a standard image of the product.
Having an option to view the entire product, however, will reduce the number of abandoned baskets exponentially. The process involves a 3D image of the product or a 360 video which is a slider control system that enables the customer to view almost every nook and cranny.
Social shopping is on the rise: More and more people are doing their shopping on social media platforms. This e-commerce trend cuts the time and effort for shoppers to make their purchase on social media, making them shop more productively. All the big social media players are trying to make it easy for brands and keep the trend alive. Instagram added a “shop now” button; Facebook allows brands to use a “buy” button, and even talks of Snapchat building its own e-commerce platform.If you have an E-commerce site, it’s worth putting in the effort to connect your sales to your social media account. Allowing users to swipe or click on your product straight from their social media feed, and then pay instantly through the likes of Apple Pay facilitates impulse buying.
To conclude, Back-to-School season is a great time to market your business, increase revenue, and build loyalty among both customers and employees. Retailers thus will have to be able to recognize rapidly changing trends and have the ability to evolve accordingly to ensure a competitive edge in the long run.
The article has been authored by Finny Chellakumar, Practice Head - Digital Commerce at Aspire Systems.