Expecting your ecommerce business to grow between now and the end of the year? You're not alone: Ninety percent of online small business owners polled in a recent BigCommerce survey anticipate increased revenue in 2017.
But growth doesn't just happen magically or overnight. To make sure you meet or exceed your expectations, you need to plan and strategize based on the latest trends. According to BigCommerce, social media and mobile optimization are two areas small ecommerce businesses should focus on if they want to grow.
Social media advertising
More than 50 percent of business owners surveyed believe that social media advertising will be one of the primary tactics fueling that growth. Nate Stewart, group product manager at BigCommerce, says more online merchants are recognizing and capitalizing on the popularity of social media.
"When on mobile devices, consumers spend more time engaging on social media platforms than any other activity," he noted. "Because of this, retailers are increasingly taking advantage of new opportunities to target these shoppers with advertising and testing ways to promote their products natively on those platforms."
For example, said Stewart, in less than a year, more than 20 percent of BigCommerce merchants have connected their online stores to at least one additional sales channel (Facebook, Pinterest, etc). The company expects that number to increase significantly this year as merchants see the continued success others are having across social media.
Data from the survey also shows that nearly 80 percent of small online business owners consider social media selling to be "a proven strategy for driving top-line revenue." More than three-quarters of those polled said that Facebook and Instagram offer the highest potential for driving business growth. Fewer than 15 percent of ecommerce businesses said their growth has been fueled by Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat.
Ecommerce merchants are increasingly recognizing that a sizable portion of online purchases are made on mobile devices, rather than PCs or laptops. From a sales and marketing standpoint, this means that web stores need to be optimized for mobile devices as well as desktop computers.
BigCommerce reports that small businesses are seeing exponential growth in mobile traffic and sales. In response to that shift, many of its customers have instructed their website designers to design mobile friendly sites first, and then move on to the desktop versions. The company's website notes that "this mobile-first strategy is a total reversal of the way sites have been designed for the past decade."
More than 88 percent of online merchants surveyed said they expect mobile-responsive website design to positively impact business revenue in 2017. The survey also found that merchants are reporting success from the use of digital or "mobile wallets," with as much as 80 percent of online transactions using this streamlined payment method.
"We all spend more time on our phones than ever before, and shopping remains one of the most common activities across all devices," said Stewart. "Today, mobile accounts for 30 percent of all ecommerce sales – a dramatic increase from just a few years ago."
A major shift in consumer buying habits, Stewart noted, is an increase in the number of people choosing to forgo purchasing laptop/desktop devices in favor of tablets and smartphones.
"Amidst this mobile-first landscape, businesses (that) place heavier emphasis on optimizing their sites for mobile shoppers, integrating mobile wallets for streamlined checkout and increased customer choice are the ones (that) will see the biggest transformation in mobile shopping and conversion," he said.