RIP 2015, Now What?

Written by Gerald Wilhite

Now that the final numbers are in we know that retail sales for December 2015 were a disappointment. The much anticipated late year sales boost did not occur. Consumers did not take all the money they saved as a result of lower gas prices and spend it online, at the mall or anywhere else. For the year the overall trend was positive, but holiday shopping did not deliver on what may have been over-hyped expectations.

With December results in mind, here are eight predictions for 2016 that are essential for continued sales growth:

1. Flat, responsive and parallax design.
Websites either update or fade. Fresh looking new ecommerce sites pull in more business than site that have been around for a few years. The future prediction is that design is quickly going flat, responsive and parallax. Interfaces such as Apple's use flat design, making it mobile friendly. Responsive design makes your site receptive to a wide range of devices. Parallax is a single page design layout using JavaScript and css to navigate to different content. The battle of aesthetics will wage on throughout 2016 and beyond. CLI can help freshen your site, contact us.

2. Video will rise again, and AGAIN and AGAIN.
Product representation using video and 3D photography will increase because it works. Good videos that effectively illustrate product benefits will continue to driving sales like nothing else. Widespread availability of WI-FI makes it possible, increased mobile device access makes it necessary, and the natural human preference for pictures rather than printed words makes it work. Are you sold on video, but the cost is too high? CLI can provide motion photography in which we add zoom and fade to standard still photos while adding text annotation. Contact us for more information and a free set up with one of your photos.

3. Content rules.
Video usage will increase, but deep content plus video will rule. Consumers appreciate video, but they want to read some serious content before they load their carts. The Google search algorithms Panda 4.0 and Pay Day 2.0 work together to boost SEO placement for sites with high quality content, while reducing search results for sites with thin content.

4. Personalization pays off.
Micro-targeting and personalization through focus automated emails, dynamically generated landing pages and product recommendations, along with personal interest connected emails have a payoff. Consumers will open more emails, they will spend more time on your site, your costs will be reduced and your bottom line will receive a noticeable boost.

5. Deep analytics.
RFM and RFM bolstered by a few other behavioral attributes worked great, while they lasted. But that was years ago. From this point forward it takes a myriad of additional stats gleaned from a robust data base to zero in on the marketing behaviors that need to be at your fingertips to offer the kind of personalized marketing experience that will keep consumers responding in 2016. The challenge is to capture and access the operative additional data points without getting buried in the chaos of big data. CLI can help you make sense of collecting and using big data. Contact us.

6. New methods of payment.
E-commerce merchants will need some time to digest the implications of Amazon Payments. We do not see a rush to turn over your customers' purchase histories to a competitor for the benefit of a universal check-out system. Bitcoin payments are also on the horizon but not gaining serious momentum as yet, but neither payment option is going away soon.

7. The assent of King Mobile.
Your desktop computer is in your office cubicle, your laptop is for business trips, and your mobile devices are in your pocket or at your fingertips all day, every day. 2016 could be the year that mobile online usage exceeds all other. Push notifications, mobile focused ads and all other mobile marketing will grow. The challenge to marketers is to effectively follow consumers as they continue changing their daily use of online resources.

8. Black Friday will come again.
Big retailers and their sites are starting their Black Friday offering in early November and ending them around December 1. Is this the year when Black Friday became a season and not just a day. The same with Cyber Monday. In 2013 Cyber Tuesday gained ground on Cyber Monday as the highest volume online day, and this year turned into more of a Cyber Week with online deals offered all week. Be ready for The Black Friday/Cyber Monday season to last from early November to the end of the first week of December in 2016.

CLI cannot provide all the solutions needed to keep your multi-channel business at the front edge of the best practices race. But we can provide direct help in many areas and consultative services in others. May you have a prosperous 2016.