There are many digital commerce lessons to be learned from the 2015 holiday season. Here’s a recap of four digital commerce trends and takeaways that marketers across industries can apply to their campaigns and programs to improve digital commerce results in 2016.
Trend #1: Digital commerce was poised to win holiday (and it did), but some retailers were unprepared.
According to Adobe, online shopping grew 25% during the 2015 holiday season. While year-over-year growth is noteworthy, digital commerce has been growing steadily for years. Nevertheless, some retailers were still unprepared for spikes in site traffic, which led to delays and crashes.
Takeaway: If you invite customers to your digital commerce party, be sure you can handle the crowd.
Retailers put a lot of resources into marketing campaigns and offers, successfully driving site traffic. Unfortunately, some experienced slow load times, inconveniencing customers and showing they were unprepared for increased volume. You wouldn’t overspend on party invitations and under-spend on food. Similarly, whether you’re a retailer or an insurance broker, balance spend on digital commerce marketing with investment in infrastructure.
Trend #2: Mobile commerce was a key driver of digital commerce success.
Many shoppers skipped long checkout lines and crowded parking lots, and instead logged on to commerce sites and mobile apps. According to Adobe, 37% of online revenue was from mobile. If you’ll recall:
Takeaway: Double-down on mobile because it will make or break your business.
It goes without saying that your digital commerce strategy needs to be mobile-always. But mobile is more than just a channel, it’s an engagement layer stretching across your customer experience. Treat it as such. Whether you’re a retailer selling shoes or a healthcare provider promoting your services, use mobile analytics to gain audience insight; optimize content (web content, video) and campaigns (email, digital ads) for mobile devices; and build tools (mobile wallet, email receipts or invoices) that use device functionality to engage and empower customers.
Trend #3: Digital commerce doesn’t end with the transaction.
As customers buy more through digital commerce channels, they also expect to be able to use digital technology to engage pre- and post-purchase, such as finding content about your products and services, tracking orders, managing returns and receipts and scheduling services.
Takeaway: Design digital commerce to enable customers to make better, smarter and faster purchase decisions and manage products, services and returns post-purchase.
According to Customer Growth Partners, shoppers are expected to return 30% of clothes and shoes online, which is twice the return rate for in-store purchases. Marketers may not own the end-to-end purchase process, but customers don’t care. Marketers can implement or influence the adoption of tools, like adding size predictors to the digital commerce website to improve the pre-purchase engagement or enabling cross-channel returns to improve the post-purchase experience.
Trend #4: Digital commerce investments drive online and offline revenue growth.
Despite the growth in digital commerce, physical store sales still make up most of the revenue. Digital is often an assist channel where people browse, compare products and prices and plan both online and offline purchases.
Takeaway: Marketers use customer identifiers, targeted advertising and mobile devices to connect digital marketing to online and offline sales.
The issue of tying online marketing to offline results plagues many industries, from automotive to financial services to retail. While these techniques don’t offer 100% accuracy, they can show, directionally, how marketing may be impacting results. Further testing is required to prove a correlation, much less a causal relationship, but these tactics can serve as a starting point.
This week’s headlines offer examples of these trends, such as Amazon, which demonstrates the power of mobile, as well as Target and eBay, which shows the importance of commerce infrastructure. Analyst Picks point to research that provides practical advice to marketers on developing digital commerce strategies that connect online and offline sales channels, leveraging techniques like content marketing and social commerce, and investing in digital commerce marketing technology and innovation.
Whether 2015 digital commerce was a win or loss for your company or brand, it’s important to focus on what you learned, what you can improve upon in the year ahead and where you should place bets to exceed customer expectations in 2016.