The Internet Retail Expo is a great place to gain a better understanding of the retail and e-commerce world. The event mainly consists of retailers, who offer visitors discussions and learning to help you get the most out of your online store.

As we are an agency that specialises in e-commerce, we like to attend the event every year to keep ourselves updated with the industry trends, as well as some understanding into what the future might hold.

What we learnt

Mobile websites are a must

The biggest thing we took away from the show was the importance of having a mobile-friendly/responsive website, to a business that sells online. All of the talks we attended had something to say about the benefits of being mobile-friendly. Nish Kukadia CEO of secretsales.com, even went as far as letting us know that 60% of their revenue is now generated through mobile devices.

With more and more people using the internet on their mobile for work and at home, it doesn’t matter who you are selling to, you are losing sales by not having a mobile-friendly site.

Journey mapping

This should be one of the first steps you take on when you start with any new website and it should not stop there. If a user has a poor experience on your site, then they are less likely to convert into sales. A good design agency will be able to help you with this before they start the design. We ourselves offer this as a service or as part of our e-commerce solutions.

You may think that you know how users are going to behave on your new website but this is never the case. Once a site goes live it is just as important to monitor how users are interacting with it and act on upon this data as required.

Simplifying the checkout process

Similar to journey mapping, this focused on retaining users.

If a user leaves your site at the checkout stage, due to a bad experience, then they’re also leaving a basket full of goods which could have been adding to your revenue. With people now living busier lives, the easiest way to make someone pull out of a purchase, is to make them fill out an endless amount of forms.

Amazon Payments joined the event, showing us how the “Pay with Amazon” system reduces the time spent at the checkout by using customer details, which are already stored with them. They also told us that one of the merchants that were currently using this system (Allsaints), had increased their conversion rate by 34 percent on AllSaints.com.

With the kind of results that Amazon displayed, we expect to see other payment systems step up and streamline their processes in the near future. This may also lead to you seeing more website with multiple payment options, when you reach the checkout.

New technology is coming

Every few years, new technology changes the way we use the internet and how we shop online. Until recently, this had been smartphones and tablets, which now allow us to buy things on the move. However this doesn’t end here, currently there are new and exciting technologies hitting the production lines, which will soon appear in everyday life.

Smartwatches appear to be that next big thing, or possibly wearable technology as a whole, but until manufactures fix the short battery lives, how useful are they?

Virtual reality; Facebook last year brought Oculus Rift for $2bn and the first headsets are due to be released this year. Will we soon have the experience of going to the shops without leaving the house?

Augmented reality, the ability to show you how your new sofa would look in your room before you buy it, why hasn’t this taken off?