It’s amazing how things can change in one year. In 2013, there were many changes and innovations which became crucial for anyone who aspires to a successful web presence in 2014. While it might not have been possible for everyone to make those changes during the second half of 2013 and the beginning of 2014 – Q1 2014 is the perfect time (if not the only time) to meet your customer’s expectations.
The Global Market
Estimates from Morgan Stanley predict an exponential rise in eCommerce sales in 2014 to equal 9.3% of total of global retail sales (against 6.5% in 2012). Things are getting better for online retailers but only for those who make the effort. While we in our English speaking part of the web are safe and sound there are a lot of customers out there that do not speak or understand English. Approximately 55% of websites are English language but the other 45%? They exist because there is a need for them and the percentage of non-English websites will increase.
If you want to reach the global market and show your customers that you respect and understand them, you need to speak their language. There are many people out there who barely know their way around English, even as a second language. This can cause issues when it comes to making online purchases i.e. if customers can’t understand the website they will feel much less confident in making a purchase.
There has always been talk about the importance of branding in the eCommerce environment but only a small percentage of sellers have been paying attention. However, things are slowly changing as online retailers discover the importance of establishing a web presence that makes customers feel safe along with establishing familiarity with the website, in order to make them feel as if they are talking to a familiar retail seller.
Good branding on the web is something that is not easy to achieve but it’s long been apparent that one of the biggest contributors to a successful brand is good content. Many very successful web brands have been saying this since 2012 which was before Google’s Penguin and Hummingbird updates. Good content, consistency of the visual aspect and good customer service results in regular web shoppers and consequently natural web marketing through shares, tags, likes, tweets etc. It does not get any better than that.
Information equals power, but there has been a change in our understanding of this. Thanks to modern web analytics gathering information is no longer the problem. Now the issue is interpreting the raw data and making timely decisions which are not outdated before they get implemented. While the data gathering process can be automated we may need to analyse several different platforms and sources. This complicates the situation even further, as it is an issue to compile this data into a universal data source before analysis.
In 2014, the eCommerce websites that resolve their data management issues and come to valid conclusions from the mountains of information will be the ones who come out on top. Big Data is not just for large companies – it’s also useful for small businesses. Data analysis will allow for greater eCommerce Website personalisation and “guided discovery” resulting in fewer options but the right ones.
In 2013, we saw the popularity of many new multimedia trends like Vine, Snapchat, Instagram etc. proving the popularity of videos and pictures that are fun, creative and entertaining. What makes this important? the age in which you could get sales from spam and pop-ups is thankfully behind us and invading a potential customer’s personal space is no longer possible thanks to AdBlock and other add-ons for browsers. Even if you manage it, you will still not get the benefits you were hoping for, since the customer will immediately block you and mark you down as just another spammer.
By using multimedia which is becoming more and more popular in creative and interesting ways you will be able to make your customers want to watch your two minute advert. If it’s fun for them to watch it will make them want to share it with their friends. Contrary to popular belief, people don’t mind sharing adverts on their social networks, but they need to find it interesting otherwise they wont be inspired to do it.
In summary – the Four Pillars of a Successful Web Presence in 2014 focus on customers. Whether it is making it easier to find what customers need, making them feel safe, gaining their interest or bridging the language barrier – 2014 will be the year of the customer and the sellers who understand this will find that their revenue and fan base will increase significantly.