Online shopping has never been bigger. It’s also never been easier to sell online and find an ecommerce fulfillment company without having to build and manage a logistics infrastructure yourself. If you’re trying to grow your business, you need to stay one step ahead of your competitors and stand out in the crowded marketplace.
As 2018 gets underway, ecommerce merchants of all sizes must be aware of the top industry trends and prepare now to be successful in the future. Here are the top three trends we’ll see more growing ecommerce merchants adopt in 2018.
What are the trends to watch in 2018?
1. Opening pop-up shops
With online giants dominating the digital space, small to mid-sized ecommerce merchants can stand out by offering customers personalized experiences that are not restricted to staying online. Pop-up shops, or short-term brick and mortar storefronts, offer a unique in-person experience for customers. Increasingly popular in large metro areas, pop-up shops typically last two to three months. Brands that only sell online have the opportunity to connect with customers who seek in-store shopping.
These storefronts let customers see and touch your products in person – often a barrier with online purchases that leads to returns. Many ecommerce merchants will use pop-up shops as showrooms that serve as brand experiences, more so than retail stores.
Brands can feature certain items, without having to store large amounts of inventory. Customers can then place orders online and even get them delivered the same day. Merchants are able to rent space for a couple months rather than signing a long-term lease. This way, capital isn’t restricted and merchants can test out different channels.
2. Connecting data sources for better forecasting
Retailers don’t want to over-invest in manufacturing because they also need to invest in sales and marketing. Yet, stockouts are one of the most commonly occurring events that negatively affect the customer experience. Focusing on inventory forecasting helps improve the lead time between manufacturing and new sales to have the right amount of inventory on hand.
Merchants will achieve more accurate forecasts by integrating all of their data sources to gain combined insights into orders, inventory levels, sales channels, and customers. Using historical data helps predict customer demand, optimize inventory levels, and understand where to strategically distribute inventory. In turn, merchants will have more sales revenue to invest in more inventory.
3. Offering fast and affordable shipping options
Consumers are becoming savvier and will look elsewhere when delivery options don’t meet their standards. According to Statista, 54% of shoppers abandon their cart because of expensive shipping, 39% leave because there isn’t free shipping, and 26% drop off due to slow delivery times.
To meet customer expectations, more retailers will offer free or cheap shipping and fast service. Many merchants find that the investment in quick shipping options is more than made up for in the uptick in sales. In addition to expedited shipping, more merchants will store inventory at fulfillment centers located close to customers. In many cases, the less shipping zones that packages have to travel, the less money retailers have to spend and the quicker they will be delivered to customers.
Overall, this is the most exciting time to be in ecommerce. Never before have small to mid-sized businesses been able to open short-term brick and mortar shops, seamlessly connect their disparate technologies for accurate forecasts, and offer affordable 2-day shipping. By incorporating these trends into your ecommerce strategy, you can get ahead of the game in 2018 and position your online business for success.
Those who focus on the customer experience and optimize their supply chain efficiency with automation will come out on top. If you’re looking for a new fulfillment partner, check out ShipBob. ShipBob’s integrated technology and network of ecommerce fulfillment centers help ecommerce merchants manage inventory and ship products more effectively.
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