As the year 2017 begins, we took some time to sit back and look at 2016 to see what trends stood out in E-commerce and to discuss what’s up and coming for E-commerce in 2017 and created this post to share our thoughts. There are a few e-commerce trends for 2017 that you’ll be familiar with since they build on existing trends (mobile strategies) and a few that are really new. Enjoy!
- Mobile Impact: We live in a hyper-connected world. According to Google, in many countries, including the U.S., more searches take place on mobile devices than on computers. This is especially important for retailers and advertisers who haven’t given a lot of thought to how their online and offline marketing strategies converge. Of particular interest to marketers this coming year should be that 82% of smartphone users say they consult their phones on purchases they’re about to make in a store (source: Google). If your inventory isn’t presented well or findable online, you could miss a huge opportunity for sales to people who are in a store ready to buy.
- Mobile Payment: According to a PayPal study, nearly 40 percent of Millennials don’t expect to need cash within a decade. They also prefer to use the financial service offerings of tech leaders over those offered by their own bank. Offering an option on your e-commerce site for customers to easily pay via their mobile device will be a critical competitive advantage in 2017 and in coming years.
- Cross-Border Shopping: Countries like China are increasingly cutting out the middleman, marketing directly to customers in the US and Europe. A 2016 Forrester Research study says that cross-border B2C e-commerce will more than double over the next five years to reach $424 billion by 2021. China will drive cross-border growth, and its share of the online cross-border market will grow from 27% in 2015 to 40% in 2021. It’s important for retailers to at least be aware of this increase in competition, as well as to maximize partnerships with these companies who are leading the charge in delivering cutting edge, affordable goods.
- Artificial Intelligence Chat Bots: TechCrunch describes AI chatbots for e-commerce sites as being able to “Unlock the ability to provide personalized, interactive communication akin to talking to a human customer service or sales rep, but at scale for much cheaper than call centers.” Google and Facebook have recently joined Apple, IBM, etc. and released chatbot platforms which developers can leverage in building their own chatbots to help consumers make their buying decisions – an idea that holds the real opportunity for retailers in 2017.
- Potential for Increased Up & Cross Selling Online: The average consumer now spends $1,842.57 a year on shopping online. These are largely self-driven, self-executed purchases. As we get more sophisticated with chatbots/customer support online, online merchandising models and ad targeting, think of the possibilities of increasing customer engagement and nurturing. This is what we think will be the most rapidly growing area of potential for E-commerce in 2017. It’s proven that attracting a first-time customer is much more difficult than retaining existing customers. The data at our fingertips can give us really good, concrete ideas about how customers engage with our content and what we like, so we can offer more of it. By the same token, we can see with website analytics where our content/products fall short of delighting the customer. The potential for super customization is there. Go forth and embrace it!
What do you think will be the top e-commerce trends of 2017? We’d love to hear your opinions in the comments.