As new online sales platforms and Web design tools continue to emerge, becoming an e-commerce entrepreneur is an increasingly attainable dream for many aspiring business owners. While just about anyone can launch an online business, it takes a dedicated salesperson to actually succeed, and that means staying on top of current marketplace trends.
If you're ready to take your e-commerce business to the next level in 2014, Matt Winn, marketing communications manager for e-commerce platform provider Volusion, advised watching these five current trends in online sales:
- The importance of multichannel selling.As customer shopping behaviors become more fragmented, so must the presence of small online businesses owners. Simply having an e-commerce site is no longer enough. Small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) should begin looking for efficient ways to expand their presence, including integrations with various shopping feeds and other outlets that can reach more consumers.[Read Related Article: 12 Online Business Ideas]
- Increased dependence on data. As smaller online businesses continue to expand their presence across channels, the need to turn to performance data from both a channel-specific and holistic standpoint becomes even more important. Google Analytics is a good tool for this, because business owners can measure their site traffic from multiple devices and referral sites.
- Access through smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. Volusion has seen major gains in e-commerce usage of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, especially during the holiday season. The company expects this trend to accelerate as mobile adoption continues to increase and more mobile technologies become available. Small businesses should have a mobile version of their website, with mobile-optimized checkout to help facilitate a better mobile experience. Small retailers should also look at their site across multiple mobile devices and pay attention to new technologies, such as smartwatches.
- Goodbye, traditional SEO. Google is constantly updating its algorithm in an effort to serve the best, most relevant content to its users. This means that traditional SEO tactics are falling by the wayside, and an increased push toward quality, unique content — along with social media signals — will be of huge importance in 2014. To help stay ahead of the SEO curve, small retailers should focus less on "traditional" SEO tenets like keyword usage and density, and, instead, aim efforts toward creating content that is tailored and useful for their target audience. For example, create more lifestyle-oriented content in the form of blog posts, videos and other types of media that encourage sharing by readers.
- Small shops squeezed by larger merchants. As mega-retailers like Amazon continue to steal market share from other big-box retailers (both online and offline), smaller online businesses will need to become more nimble in how they compete, from a price, customer-service and marketing standpoint. This involves identifying true points of difference from larger merchants, showcasing these points in marketing and branding, and delivering personalized experiences.