2010 has been an interesting year for ecommerce and multi-channel. The arrival of tablet devices and emergence of location based social networking have given marketers new playthings.
However, the economic uncertainty of the past few years has also served to increase the focus at Board level on the profitability of the ecommerce channel. Consequently the pressure is increasing on web managers to display commercial acumen alongside a thorough knowledge of digital marketing.
What will the future hold for 2011? This article discusses 4 trends that Webcredible expects to dominate.
Web analytics is still under-valued by many etailers both large and small. Online budget is ploughed into digital marketing and optimisation is bottom of the pile, unloved and under-used.
2011 should herald a mind shift amongst ecommerce managers. 2010 has continued the trend of diminishing traffic, especially for search in markets like Electronics and Computing, and the erosion of margin as consumers spend more time researching price savings online and using price comparison and discount aggregators.
The spending on internal analytics staff has been slowly increasing since 2009 and 41% of companies surveyed stated they would increase their web analytics budget in 2010 [Source: Lynchpin report 2009].
The glory days of rapid online traffic and sales growth are on the decline and a more pragmatic business model is emerging where commercial acumen is important. It always should have been but the scrutiny from the Board is increasing and web managers need to be savvier in the way they control ROI. In 2011 there will be more resource dedicated to website optimisation, using web analytics, voice-of-customer and testing to improve KPI targets.
Smartphone usage increased by 48.7% to 54.3m units in the 1st quarter of 2010 [Source: AOP Digital Landscape Report, June 2010] and is growing faster in the UK than in Europe.
Whilst 2010 has been continued the trend of mobile apps, with large multi-channel retailers like Argos stepping up to the plate, it is likely that more retailers will invest in dedicated mobile platforms in 2011.
The rationale is clear - for brands that are experiencing a shift in customer browsing habits from PC to mobile, it's essential that they provide a robust and scalable ecommerce offering that is cross browser compatible.
The launch of the iPad seems like a distant memory but the Tablet market is the new Everest. The latest addition, Samsung's Android tablet device called the Galaxy Tab, has upped the ante with the ability to make phone calls and send text messages.
As of June 2010, Apple had sold over 2m iPads (quicker uptake than the iPhone in 2007) with the UK reputed to be the 3rd biggest market globally.
Tablets offer users greater usability with a larger screen on which to run apps and browse the Internet on the move. The figures suggest the trend will continue and more and more UK consumers will embrace tablet technology as more vendors enter the market.
The challenge will be for ecommerce teams to ensure the compatibility of their website with tablet technology and to tap into marketing technology that enables them to geo-target customers on the move with location specific offers.
Visionaries like Guy Stephens, previously of Carphone Warehouse, have long advocated the necessity to integrate social media into the Customer Service framework. Social media is essentially just another communication channel; therefore it has the potential to influence customer opinion.
However, social media is not in itself a solution. It needs to be planned and have a structure the same way that any other customer communication channel does. Companies have been dabbling with social media as a customer service tool to varying degrees of success. The damage if done badly is striking – United Airlines is the best example whereby a disgruntled customer used YouTube to broadcast his displeasure, the company didn't respond effectively and the net result was a 10% drop in share price, or a cool $180m. Money talks.
2011 should see an increase in the tie-up between ecommerce marketers and their Customer Service counterparts, with internal SLAs established to ensure customers contacting companies via their social channels are given a high quality service and issues are effectively managed.
The Econsultancy article from way back in 2009 on how Naked Wines handled a customer complaint via social media is worth reading.