The Most Powerful Upgrades for Your Online Retail Store in 2021 ⋆ Sherpack

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The Most Powerful Upgrades for Your Online Retail Store in 2021

7 min read
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At Sherpack, we work with a variety of e-commerce partners to help enable more efficient shipping and better offers for their online customers. That’s why we wanted to take a moment and go over some of the most effective and exciting upgrades that we’ve seen online stores make this year. Take a look, and see which ambitious change could be the right move for your e-commerce strategy.

Text/SMS Messaging

Text messaging is an unsung advantage for many different e-commerce businesses – and that means it could have untapped potential for you, too.

First, text-based messages work for everyone with a cell phone. It’s an effective way to send short messages and updates to any customers around the world, at very affordable rates. There’s no need to convince anyone to follow a new social media platform, and it’s less likely that texts will get lost in spam folders or dozens of ads like they can with emails. That leads to high open rates for SMS messages.

The type of texts an online business can send will vary: Promotional messages and special discounts for clients are good but don’t underestimate the value of automatic shipping updates so that customers can receive phone alerts when their packages are out and delivered. This means that SMS alerts will need to tie into your shopping cart and shipping data, which needs to be a key goal during setup.

Chatbots and Web Chats

Chatbots are AI-powered chat boxes that open up on websites or platforms like Facebook and encourage visitors to ask questions or look for products. Even a simple chatbot can help online customers find certain products that they’re looking for, or answer questions about prices, etc. More advanced chatbots can answer more complex questions about the company and services as if there was a real person on the other end and may be able to complete full transactions right from the chat window.

If your online store sees a lot of questions or many attempted searches for specific products, consider upgrading your site with a chatbot or similar chat service to improve conversions. There are many options for chatbot development, allowing you to find one that fits your store and budget with a little research.

Live Streamed Content

We have seen the rise of influencers across social media, those incentivized to advertise products to their own personal audience of followers. It can be an effective form of marketing, but only applies to certain industries and doesn’t affect e-commerce stores directly. That’s why we’re starting to see a new evolution – live streaming content about products directly on the online storefront.

Imagine opening an online store and seeing a live stream with influencers discussing a product you are interested in, or unboxing a product bundle live, or going through a how-to on using the product in the most effective ways. Livestreaming is also very versatile – you don’t need a specific platform like Instagram or even a built-in audience to make it work, allowing companies to live stream with everyone from industry experts to local celebrities.

Bundle or Remove Shipping Costs

Did you know that the most common reason cited for abandoning online shopping carts – around 55% – is confronting unexpected costs like shipping fees? Customers shopping online have lots of experience with zero-cost shipping deals that they find on Amazon and similar platforms. When they come across shipping fees from a smaller site, it can be a shock.

We have discussed strategies on how to effectively lower shipping rates even when profit margins are tight, and it’s more important than ever for online stores to consider ways to remove shipping fees altogether for orders over a certain amount. If possible, try to set free shipping levels so that customers are encouraged to purchase additional products without it being a burden on them. Also, consider offering options like free shipping for first-time customers and other deals that will encourage visitors to complete their transactions.

Augmented Reality Web Experiences

At first, AR (Augmented Reality) in online stores sounds a little silly, or like a gimmick that only a few stores in the world could actually use. That used to be largely true, but things are changing quickly, and innovative forms of AR are becoming available to all customers. For example, anyone with an iPhone 12 Pro or a new iPhone with Object Capture can scan a home in their house and superimpose an accurate image of a product anyone in that space, accounting for all three dimensions and various angles.

While that kind of rooming-scanning tech is great for the décor and furniture industries, other versions of AR allow customers to view how clothes could look on their own bodies or cosmetics on their own voices. The possibilities are growing fast!

Voice Commerce Optimization

Voice commerce refers to buying things with voice commands given to something like Alexa or Google Assistant, screen-free. It allows for multitasking and more casual browsing through products, and as buyers experiment with it, online stores are seeing a growing number of sales coming from this sector.

The good news for e-commerce retailers is that they don’t need to do much direct work to enable voice commerce. It’s simply a matter of creating voice-optimized SEO and clear product pages that are easy for voice assistants to navigate. Those interested in this space should also focus on larger platforms that voice assistants are compatible with!

Support for Digital Wallets

Payment support deserves regular inspections to make sure a store’s payment options are keeping up with what buyers prefer. Back in the day, it was important for everyone to include PayPal compatibility for customers checking out (it still is). Today, there’s a lot of focus on enabling the latest digital wallets. That means offering options for people to check out with Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Wallet, and similar methods that make purchasing faster and easier for customers invested in those platforms. When in doubt, consider creating surveys or questionnaires for your customers to get an idea of what kind of digital wallets they are using.

Remember, Sherpack is here to offer consultations on how storage, packaging, and delivery can enable new features on your e-commerce store: Contact us today to learn more!