1. Social commerce – merchants will become more in-tune with consumer social media activity and harness this to target customers with special offers, rewarding them for loyalty.
For example, if a customer ‘likes’ a page on Facebook, merchants can identify a new set of customers that may not have interacted with the brand before outside of the social space. It also helps merchants to become more targeted in the delivery of special offers. Facebook and other social media platforms will become the first step on the e-commerce ladder for merchants that don’t want to build a whole website but want to start selling online quickly; it’s cheaper and easier for merchants to become more targeted in their approach.
2. Flash sales – in 2012, more merchants will launch time-limited offers. Customers that interact with the brand online or in social media platforms such as Facebook will get first or priority access to these offers. It will lead to a new way for consumers to engage and purchase from their favourite brands, and merchants can reward loyal customers.
3. Voucher codes – the popularity of voucher codes for consumers will continue to rise in 2012 but merchants will need to identify ways to use them to drive loyalty rather than one-off opportunistic purchases. Merchants are also increasingly using QR codes, but to prove their worth they’ll need to become more sophisticated and offer real value to entice late technology adopters. For those that don’t like the QR concept, the codes definitely shouldn’t be used at the expense of a good old fashioned URL.
4. Mobile optimisation – m-commerce is set to hit the mainstream next year and merchants will be looking at ways to optimise their websites to create mobile versions, which include payment pages or develop specific apps that have payment pages embedded. Until now, apps have re-routed consumers to a website to pay but this is set to become integrated as the technology develops to support the payment process.
5. International buying – e-ommerce offers consumers more choice and merchants more opportunities to widen the customer net beyond the high street, particularly for e-tailers in the UK where the e-commerce market is more mature than across the rest of Europe. Merchants are becoming savvier to the opportunities overseas trading presents and are adapting their sites to offer preferred local methods of payment. All size businesses are benefiting from this wider customer base, including smaller businesses – that might have traditionally been restricted to selling within their own territory – to find additional revenue opportunities from consumers abroad.
Gabriel Hopkins, head of e-commerce products, WorldPay, said: “E-commerce and associated channels are developing rapidly. We expect to see a number of different developments in 2012 that will completely transform the way consumers purchase and interact with brands.
“Technology, coupled with consumer appetite, provides a perfect catalyst for these new trends to enter the mainstream. WorldPay’s global reach and understanding of the complexities behind payment being accepted on these various channels means we can guide merchants to capitalise on these opportunities and meet the evolving consumer expectation.”