Key eCommerce Trends you Need to be Aware of
Over the past few years, retail landscape has witnessed a structural shift…that from the physical to the virtual.
eCommerce has emerged as a USD $341 billion industry which is growing at a steady CAGR of 20% each year.
According to a report by eMarketer, global online sales will expectedly cross $27 trillion in 2020. These figures are quite compelling as it is, and given that the Millennials and Gen Xers spend nearly six hours each week shopping online, one thing becomes quite clear, eTailers have to keep a keen eye on eCommerce trends and stay in step with the market or stand the risk of disappearing into eStore oblivion.
In this blog, we take a look at some key eCommerce trends that are making waves in 2017.
eCommerce has taken the data turn. While in 2016 most eCommerce companies focused on capturing data, 2017 sees the focus shifting to what can be ‘done’ with this data. Contextual personalization and customization gain increased traction as eTailers look towards data to tweak product recommendations based on customer preferences, demographic trends, market trends, purchase history, brand interactions etc. and extend not only to marketing messages but also work towards making the online store smarter by offering customizable designs.
In order to gain a competitive edge, eTailers are going to look increasingly towards Social Integration. Since an increasing number of people look towards social media for product and service recommendations, eTailers have to look at user-generated content (UGC) to increase brand engagement. A survey conducted by Dimensional Research highlights that “90 percent of respondents who recalled reading online reviews claimed that positive online reviews influenced buying decisions, while 86 percent said buying decisions were influenced by negative online reviews.” Customer made videos and photos added to the product page as social proof and increased engagement on social platforms are going to emerge as the new normal in the eCommerce landscape.
We will also witness an increased focus on contactless payments. The unqualified success of the Starbucks loyalty app that allows customers to make payments using the app and deliver more customized experiences is a testament to this growing trend. Along with this, eCommerce retailers also have to provide multiple payment options to cater to different payment preferences of the consumer. Thus, along with credit cards, eTailers need to make payments using debit cards, mobile payments using mobile wallets or e-wallets, direct debit payments, Bitcoin payments etc. a possibility. Apart from these, one-click checkouts, like the Amazon Dash button, will become the ultimate game changer in the eCommerce landscape by delivering strong conversion results leveraging consumer behavior and purchase history and enabling the consumer to complete a purchase with one click.
We’ve been going hoarse emphasizing the importance of mobile commerce. Given that the consumers want a multi-channel experience, mobile has to be a natural extension of the eCommerce experience. eTailers, thus have to ensure that their eCommerce content can be consumed easily over mobile devices. Having exemplary mobile experiences also ensures better search rankings – thanks to Google’s new mobile-first web index. In 2017, eCommerce web design will take a mobile first approach and expect to see an optimized use of visuals to connect with the consumer on the go.
AI for Smart Predictions
eTailers can leverage AI to analyze vast data sets more efficiently than humans, identify clusters and patterns that lie within this information and use this predictive intelligence to engage with the right prospects with the right, contextual messages, at the right time. AI can also help eCommerce companies identify new sales opportunities, identify leaks in the delivery pipeline, and offer customized solutions to their customers. Along with this, AI can use natural language processing capabilities and provide customers with a personal shopping assistant and also enable visual search capabilities and make the shopping experience more interactive and engaging.
We are now familiar with digital assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, to name a few. The rise of AI has given rise to ‘conversational commerce’ which is acting like the real interlocutor by giving the traditional messaging app a complete overhaul. Chatbots powered by AI allow eTailers manage thousands of one-on-one conversations with prospective clients and help them with their shopping, bookings, and customer service. These help eTailers offer a more seamless customer experience that starts from product discovery and extends to payments, status tracking to customer service.
eCommerce web design is also witnessing an overhaul where designers are making the web design with a mobile first form and then made responsive and adaptive. This year, we can expect to see
A wider adoption of the semi-flat design trend and material design including card-like layouts, transitions, animations, increased use of visuals to show products and services
Long scroll page designs instead of pagination for greater performance
Implantation of animations and cinegraphs
Use of hand drawn elements, continued use of the hamburger menu but with a shift of placement to the left for better usability
User-friendly and intuitive forms
Use of larger and flexible typography to send out more assertive messages and greater readability on any device and the explosion of more vibrant and brighter colors.
Videos move from the ‘nice-to-have’ category to the ‘must-have’ category in 2017. Online videos act as the bridge between the product and the virtual store and help the consumer understand how the product looks in real life and enhance customer engagement by 340% and increase add to cart conversion rates by 74%.
There are a few key technology areas that eTailers need to keep their eye on. eCommerce drones have been up in the air with Amazon performing its first successful drone delivery already. Smart buttons like Amazon’s ‘Dash Button’ will soon be on offer from prime retailers such as Walmart, Target etc. for providing an easier shopping experience. eCommerce software will also become more intuitive and cloud computing will gain greater traction with cloud hosting and hybrid cloud solutions becoming an eCommerce mainstay.
The focus of eCommerce in 2017 is clearly to stay in-step, and sometimes ahead, of the extremely digitally-savvy consumer who knows what she wants…right from the product to the customer service. In order to do this, eCommerce companies have to deliver more robust, engaging, intuitive and inclusive shopping experiences. In a marketplace that is getting increasingly crowded with new players joining in each day, it is clear that soon, only the best will survive.