Although the most popular times of the year for e-commerce are around the holidays, online retail is always busy. Business owners need to be attentive at all times, otherwise they will miss out on important opportunities to grow their company. Keeping an eye on market trends is critical in any sector, but that's especially the case for online retailers. Technology is the backbone of their operation, which means the company could always be evolving as digital tech matures.

Keeping that in mind, here are three tech trends e-commerce businesses need to keep any eye out for this year:

  1. Receipt validation: Proof of purchase is a great way to build customer loyalty in that consumers can upload images of their receipt and enter contests to win prizes, discounts or rewards through the company. This is improves both engagement and loyalty for an e-commerce brand because it generates customer excitement and allows marketers to track user behavior. Businesses could even have consumers turn in a manual entry on the website just to boost engagement metrics. These types of campaigns can help boost sales and provide opportunity to build a customer information database. They also improve brand awareness and keep the company's name top of mind for the consumer. 
  2. Improved mobile design: There's little secret about how powerful mobile technology is. It empowers consumers to shop whenever they please and do so from nearly any location, signal permitting. Since more customers are using their phones to shop online, businesses will have to meet these needs and design mobile-friendly, highly responsive websites. Google research found nearly three-quarters of consumer respondents preferred a mobile-friendly website, but 96 percent added they've encountered sites that clearly weren't designed for mobile devices. A responsive design, or one that's tailored for easy mobile usage, is what consumers prefer when they're shopping from a smartphone. Mobile-optimized websites require fewer steps to find and purchase a product, a likely contributor to more online payments.
  3. Integrated wishlists: Wishlists aren't new to the e-commerce world, but the ability to share and integrate with other websites is something online retailers are working on. Online retailers benefit greatly by integrating their wishlist technology because shoppers become brand ambassadors for the company. When people share what they want on these platforms, others see the products and it could lead to a potential conversion from another person in their social network. In fact, Harvard Business School research found that buying behavior is greatly influenced by social networks. More specifically, business revenue increased 5 percent based on social influences. Moderately connected users feel like they need to "keep up with the Joneses" and are much more likely to buy a product if they see a friend or someone in their social network recommend a product or a brand. An e-commerce company's biggest asset is its customer base; businesses just need to empower customers to become brand ambassadors for their business. 

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