The world of ecommerce is rapidly changing and evolving, growing in popularity and convenience for everyday shoppers. Over the past decade we have seen online security improve, shipping speeds increase, mobile shopping, and in some cases, little buttons you can place in your home to order more toilet paper.
Staying on top of these trends can be very difficult and intimidating. With everything changing so rapidly it appears that if you blink you’ll miss something. Think about it, coming across a year-old looking storefront isn’t something that gets customers excited to shop there. So, what can you do to stay on top of all the latest trends and advancements in the ecommerce world? First, follow and subscribe to blogs that are experts in the industry (like the Doba blog). Next, incorporate the following ideas into your lifestyle and make them habits; they will help you keep up with trendy and relevant information regarding your the industry and your store.
Watch Your Competitors and Industry Leaders
One of the most important things you can do to follow ecommerce trends is to keep a close eye on your competitors and what they are doing. Subscribe to their blogs, register for their newsletters and other emails, follow them on social networks. Not everything they do will be considered correct or best practice, but by following them you can make sure that they aren’t offering something that you aren’t. If you don’t watch them closely they could pull away quickly by offering a feature/product that you don't have.
While you’re busy stalking your competitors every move, it’s important that you mimic the industry leaders on their best practices. By following the e-giants like Amazon, eBay, Overstock, Walmart, Target, etc. you can pick up on techniques that will help you stay up-to-date. Obviously you probably won’t have the same resources and manpower to compete with them, but there is still plenty to learn from their tactics. Go implement what you learned on your own store and test it to see if you increase sales and customer experience.
Education and Training
Just as a doctor needs to attend medical conferences and seminars to continue their education, you need to stay current on your education as well. There are tons of blogs and sites that offer free webinars and training. By doing a quick google search you can find dozens of companies offering webinars. Another method to find upcoming webinars is by doing an advanced search on Twitter. By using keywords like webinar, ecommerce, free, and other topics you’re interested in you can find upcoming webinars just for you.
There are may websites that will help you increase your overall knowledge on important topics such as social media, email marketing, ad words, and many more. Sites such as skillshare, Khan Academy, and Codecademy can help you learn specific skillsets. Even universities like Stanford, Cal, Wisconsin, and others offer MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) classes for free. These classes are just like a normal online class that will go over extremely valuable cases. Most of the time these classes are free, with the exception of the cost for the final and certification.
Along with free online classes and webinars, there are plenty of conferences you can attend. Typically, national conferences are pretty expensive and will require some budgeting. The classes and lectures given at these conferences are usually top of the line, and taught by the industry's finest. Some webinars that you attend online may use the information from these conferences, just months later. If you cannot attend a national conference, many local companies hold local conferences and user groups. I highly recommend finding a few conferences you would be interested in and plan on attending. The networking and insights at these conferencing events are invaluable.
Don’t let your training or education slip, and never be afraid to learn more. By doing this you’ll be on top of the newest methods which will increase the odds of you beating out your competitors and gaining more customers.
Tools and Resources
On top of competitor analysis and continuous education, you’ll also need to stay on top of new tools in order to follow ecommerce trends successfully. There are sites out there dedicated to bringing you the newest tools for any purpose you need. You can visit places like ProductHunt.com for daily updates on the newest resources. You don’t have to use every tool under the sun, but watching out for new ones could end up saving you a lot of time, and time is money.
Design and Web Development
Top ecommerce sites are constantly changing their website by rolling out new designs, banner ads and product pages. This alone can be enough to keep you busy, and let’s face it, not everyone is a designer or web developer. However, if you want to have eye catching ads and swift layouts for your store, you’ll need to find someone to make these changes for you. As always, I suggest finding a good freelancer until you can hire someone full-time. I recommend checking out Fiverr or Freelancer.com.
Blogs to Follow
I mentioned before that you need to follow blogs from industry experts. Besides being subscribed to the Doba blog, there are plenty of other amazing blogs to follow that will help you get the most out of your store.
Some of the blogs are (but not limited to):
- Kissmetrics- optimization and analytics
- Shopify- ecommerce blog
- A Better Lemonade Stand – ecommerce Blog
- eCommerce Fuel – ecommerce blog
- Hubspot – general marketing blog
- Moz – SEO and Adword blog (checkout Whiteboard Friday)
- Mailchimp – email marketing blog
- Nerd Marketing – growth Blog
What blogs do you follow and recommend?
Testing and Experiments
Who says that you have to wait for someone else to make the first move? There does come a point where you can only do so much watching and mimicking. Once you feel like your ecommerce knowledge is sufficient, you can go out and experiment on your own. By testing out new product pages and checkout processes you can possibly set the new standard. Don’t be scared to run new tests, or pursue that new idea of yours. Testing and optimization is an important part of marketing and ecommerce. Who knows, maybe you will be invited to be the next webinar host or conference speaker.
When you take the time to extend your education and keep an open mind, you can take your store to new heights. Another great idea would be to start a diary of all your ecommerce experiments and ideas. That way you won't forget about any potential game-changing ideas you may have. If one of your ideas take off, become an expert in that area. You can write about it on your own blog, or other sites like Medium. This can also help you gain new followers and increase your social influence.
Best of luck out there and don’t forget to subscribe to the Doba blog for all the latest and greatest on ecommerce and dropshipping.