Staying ahead of the competition – and on trend – is an important part of running a business. It’s especially important in the digital space, where change and innovation are par for the course.
In this article, we look at some of the emerging trends website owners should be aware of this year.
If these are any indication of what’s to come, your customers certainly have plenty to look forward to.
Immersive or interactive experiences
Without a doubt, Meta was the buzzword of 2022 and online business owners are taking notice. According to a tech trends report by Deloitte, interactive virtual experiences are reshaping business models and billions are being invested in this space.
What is an immersive experience? In a nutshell, it’s a way of using your website and online platforms to create a new way to engage customers – a richer alternative to email and chat bots. WordPress has already released new themes for 2023 that focus on simplicity, intuitive design and customisation that will allow creators to add that immersive element to their websites.
Creating an immersive experience on your website can be as simple as integrating streaming video, e-books and music to your site. It’s worth thinking about. According to one new study, engaged customers are 23% more likely to support you than the average customer.
While the concept of artificial intelligence (AI) may seem complex, the aim is to leverage it to simplify systems and tasks. For the online business owner, it also presents an opportunity to access tools and software previously thought to be expensive or only suitable for enterprises. One example is ChatGPT, a machine learning tool that mimics conversational human dialogue. It shows a lot of potential for handling complicated support queries, whilst providing customers with the quick response time and engagement they expect. It can also be used to create long-form content for blogs.
According to a Zendesk CX Trends 2022 report, 26% of companies surveyed across 21 countries currently offer AI and chatbot-guided self-service, and 25% plan to add this capability. The report also found that 69% of customers are willing to interact with a bot for simple issues — a 23% increase year-over-year.
Getting more serious about security
Customers have had enough of compromised privacy and data breaches. 37% of consumers interviewed for a recent IBM report said they intentionally switched brands to protect their privacy.
As an online business owner, you need a clearly defined strategy in place for data security, privacy, and recovery. On the marketing side, this means allowing customers to opt out of sharing personal information and protecting the personal data in your care.
Taking a more serious approach to security starts with your web hosting. Xneelo, for example, offers a web application firewall, robust DDoS protection, SSL certificate, free backups and email spam filtering on all web hosting packages. You can also add an extra layer of security in the form of Cloudbric WAF, which blocks malicious and suspicious traffic and protects your website from hackers.
According to Deloitte, more and more businesses are creating cloud environments to store data, decentralise operations and assist with development and deployment.
The cloud offers the flexibility and speed businesses need to pivot quickly, and streamline systems. In fact, Gartner predicts that public cloud spending will reach 600 billion dollars in 2023.
Another way to backup your data and create an external development environment is to invest in a managed or self-managed server, which offer similar benefits and advantages to cloud migration, especially for SMEs.
Learn more about xneelo’s self-managed servers here.
E-commerce is still booming
If you haven’t done so already, taking your retail store online or at least diversifying towards a hybrid model is a great goal to have in 2023.
A Shopify e-commerce trends report shows that online shopping jumped 77% just months into the pandemic, accelerating the innovation and adoption of digital commerce by half a decade. And this is not slowing down. According to Statista, the local e-commerce market is projected to reach 19 billion dollars this year, with the amount of online shoppers expected to reach 37.6 million by 2027.
Our friends at the Heavy Chef Foundation report that 62% of SMEs want to design a better brand experience for their customers, and this is one of the most important goals driving website trends this year. Websites that offer new experiences, security and simplicity, and the ability to shop with ease will be on the right track for success.
For an inside look at what makes a successful online business, read some top tips from SA’s most exciting startups.