Ecommerce is a rapidly shifting and evolving industry. Between ground-shifting changes to major platforms like Shopify and Etsy to the development of brand new technologies and strategies to engage audiences, it's vital for your business to not just be with the times but ahead.
As we put together The 250+ Page Playbook on Supercharging Your Store with Facebook Messenger, SMS, & Conversational Ads with Shopify, Klaviyo, and our 100+ partners, we spoke with many DTC founders, industry thought leaders and innovators about today's most important ecommerce subjects.
We wanted to know what they had to say about a number of topics and we're sure you do too, so we've compiled some of the great responses we received below. Download the playbook in full here:
Question: What trend should ecommerce businesses be paying attention to right now?
"The line between entertainment and consumer brands is blurring further."
- John Cascarano, President, TAME the Beast
"AR/VR! Nothing beats the customer experience of being able to see a product true to size and in your own space before buying."
- Kelly Vaughn, Founder, The Taproom Agency
"The most overlooked strategy in ecommerce right now is personalization. No one likes irrelevant content or marketing, that's why it's called spam. Making your brand as relevant as possible be for your customer will increase conversion rates, average order value, and customer satisfaction. The tools to do this are more accessible than ever, so there's no excuse not to."
- Kurt Elster, Senior Ecommerce Consultant, Ethercycle
"Automation is the trend that is here to stay. Automation is the best foundation for modern businesses because it is the most easy to scale well. And while department- siloed automators have been gaining traction for the past half decade, we're finally seeing integrating automators. That is, systems like Mesa that integrate various siloed systems and automate the flow of data between them. These systems provide eCommerce companies with the ability to automate their company in a 360 manner."
- Cara Wood, Digital Marketing Manager, The Shop Pad
"There are two trends that ecommerce businesses should be paying close attention right now and they are closely related. 1) With channels like Facebook and Instagram becoming more and more expensive, other quality channels like Google and eBay are expanding their capabilities from targeting to checkout to fulfillment. Take advantage of these and their partners before these channels become overly saturated. 2) Related to rising customer acquisition costs, brands should look at ways to bring customers back for repeat purchases (eg. subscription options on related, tangential, or complementary items) and ways to lower or improve their post-purchase costs (eg. shipping, fulfillment, speed to delivery). Customer is king (and queen!), so optimize for them."
- Casey Armstrong, CMO, ShipBob
"Economic nexus! In the past, states could only tax sales by businesses with a physical presence in that state. Now, economic activity (shipping into another state) can trigger a sales tax obligation. This is based on sales revenue, transaction volume, or a combination of both. Each state can have a different date they begin to enforce this law as well as a difference threshold amount that will trigger nexus. The most common threshold is more than $100,000 or 200+ separate transactions."
- Jordan Tobler, Strategic Partner Manager, Avalara
"There’s an increasing desire from consumers to understand the ‘why’ of the brands they’re buying from. This trend is reflected in the success of start-ups like Away (who attract 800,000 monthly views!), Casper and Bonobos. All of these brands share a similar approach in terms of consistently communicating their core business ethos on-site, across social media and through marketing initiatives, which customers report to be as valuable, if not more valuable, in their purchasing decision than actual product features."
- Dan McIvor, Founder & Director, Swanky
"International expansion and cross-border eCommerce. Thanks in part to new technologies the ability to open up additional markets and increase revenue from selling globally has never been easier. Many sites have strong international followings but most merchants are ignoring these markets and making cross-border shopping extremely difficult for their customers. Our advice is to consider opening new markets by allocating a portion of your domestic ad-spend towards different markets and channels and optimizing your site for conversion with the right tech stack to sell internationally."
- Cameron MacQueen, Global Head of Partnerships, Easyship
"Messenger -- although not a new trend...an amazing trend. There are so many ways you can use these messenger tools, that can help drive conversations with your customers and help develop the future of your brand"
-Nikki Johnson, Director of Brand Development, The Basis
"Messenger marketing as a whole. Especially for performance marketing teams. With Messenger campaigns seeing upwards of 80% open rates on broadcasts and +50% CTRs, we're in a new "wild west" scenario where there is abundance of opportunity for teams to capitalize on a highly UN-regulated channel opportunity."
- Ryan Wood, Head of Growth, Stealth Venture Labs
"Businesses should pay attention to creating and nurturing 1:1 relationships with customers to increase LTV. There is a growing trend of personal channels being used for B2C communications like text messaging, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp."
- Megan Terwilliger, Marketing Director, Prestige Pro Media
"While it’s not a trend, the best approach for any business is to invest in building a customer-centric experience for shoppers. In today’s competitive market, this means investing in critical offerings such as convenient returns, low-cost/free shipping, seamless customer service, and Buy-Now-Pay-Later payment options to accommodate millennials and Gen-Z who typically prefer payment options that avoid debt, fees and compounding interest. Customer-centric shopping experiences = loyal and returning customers."
- Ben Pressley, EVP of Sales, Operations & Strategy, Afterpay
"You’re seriously missing out if bot technology isn’t at the top of your sales funnel. The power of using AI to provide a seamless, personalized white-gloved social selling experience through Facebook Messenger bot technology is invaluable. The ability to drive acquisition, retention, and brand loyalty at scale is the future of eCommerce. It’s proven to work in the music vertical and it should be able to work for anyone."
- Peter Hollens, Owner, Creative Director & Creator, One Voice Productions
"Ecomm of all shapes and sizes should be concerned about rising CPMs and acquisition costs on traditional paid channels. There is limited inventory on many of these channels, and we’re reaching a point of saturation that makes things incredibly difficult for new advertisers. Unless you have a dedicated team to campaign, content and placement optimization, you will be playing catch-up."
- Mike Maleszyk, VP of Growth and Marketing, Smile.io
"3D visualization technology is something that is still evolving from a "nice to have" into a "need to have" in e-commerce. It isn't quite where it needs to be yet but those who are not paying attention and trying things to see what works now are going to find themselves way behind as this part of the industry continues to grow. It's not going away, only getting stronger. We're working on some really fun things at Apt2B."
- Alex Back, COO, Apt2B
"Chatbots and progressive web apps are truly delivering on eCommerce everywhere. It’s easy to imagine a world where you buy your socks or groceries through a simple Facebook chat. The bot then opens a progressive web app on your phone, pre-loaded with tracking info, for a seamless experience. It’ll take some time for the tools to catch up, but smart startups like Octane AI are focused on helping merchants get there."
- Shibu Xu, COO, Refersion
"Ecommerce businesses shouldn't ignore their communities, and should embrace community-driven marketing to create brand loyalty. In the era of Amazon, providing the lowest price and utmost convenience isn't enough and can be hard to scale. By marketing with the voice of customers and community, ecommerce brands can create meaningful connections with their audience and stand out from their competition."
- Lexy Wright, Strategic Partnerships, Pixlee
"Personalization trends are taking off. Ecommerce businesses are leveraging the data on their customers to serve them products and content that is relative to their interests. We are also seeing a lot of headless commerce which we believe are at its infancy and will pick up steam quickly."
- Casey Coughlin, Business Development & Partnerships, Blue Switch
"Alternative payments. More so than ever before, Merchants need to simplify the purchase experience and reduce barriers toward purchase. Buy Now Pay Later services like Sezzle are rapidly taking hold across the eCommerce landscape and are proving to be a powerful tool to convert shoppers into buyers. The data is showing that shoppers who choose to pay with Sezzle spend more and shop more frequently."
- Todd Frostad, VP of Business Development, Sezzle
"Today’s most successful eCommerce brands understand that putting their customers at the center of their buyer journey is the key to success. Customer-centric eCommerce experiences are more than just a trend -- they’re the best way to build lifelong relationships with your best shoppers. Brands need to pay close attention to what their customers are saying, from collecting and displaying customer feedback onsite to using it to inform marketing campaigns and product improvements."
- Moran Khoubian, Global Head, Partner Marketing, Yotpo
"Quizzes! Apparel brands that utilize style & size quizzes are truly taking their customization and user engagement to the next level. Whether this is a feature on a brand’s LP, an option on their product pages, or an incentive to opt-into a messenger flow, quizzes are both incredibly effective and a thoughtful, custom touch for any prospect or customer."
- Cassandra Stevenson, Growth Marketing Coordinator, adQuadrant
"Video Selling. The ability to create dynamic relationships through video is vital to the boutique retailer. Giving a product, in particular, fashion products, life through video with demonstrated value in styling, fit or quality is driving conversions for online retailers. A photo on a website just isn't enough, smart boutique owners are creating an in-store experience, online. "
- Ashley Alderson, Founder, The Boutique Hub
"Personalization. E-commerce is all about creating a unique, customized experience for each customer from ads and emails to the product itself. Technology like Octane AI is helping make personalization at scale so much easier. "
- Brittany Gymrek, Marketing Director, Skinny Mixes