E-Commerce Trends for 2017 & BeyondAndrei Klubnikin
In 2017 the global retail e-commerce market will top $ 2.3 trillion. As more companies realize the importance of being online, your customers are getting fussier about prices and extremely hard to engage. Follow these top 5 trends in e-commerce to increase sales and stay ahead of the competition!
Top 5 emerging trends in e-commerce: welcome to the Age of Customer
- E-commerce goes global. Although the US e-commerce market is growing at a steady 10%-per-year speed, it is the developing Asian markets that generate higher revenues. Chinese e-commerce, for example, will double in two years, adding $ 1 trillion to the global online sales. With faster shipping and lower delivery fees, many Western brands are now eyeing the market, too. And there’s a catch. The tools and techniques that help you engage customers in the USA and Europe might not work there. WeChat, the popular Chinese messenger with over 700 million active users, proved you don’t need a mobile app (or even a website!) to win customers. Although in-app purchases (IAP) is the most effective mobile app monetization strategy nowadays, Asian customers prefer buying content on a subscription basis. Chinese users fell in love with the Xiaobing bot long before Facebook and Kik launched their chatbot platforms. If you consider growing to new markets, make sure to conduct proper research and consult an experienced software development company that keeps up with the emerging trends in e-commerce and knows what tech tools will resonate with Asian customers;
- Omnichannel continues to dominate. 75% of users will access the Internet from mobile through 2017, while the average smartphone/tablet session will grow up to 3 hours per day. The change certainly impacts customers’ buying habits. According to the Wolfgang Digital 2016 survey, 59% of ecommerce website traffic was coming from mobile; however, only 38% of purchases were made on smartphones and tablets last year. Complicated purchase process and poor mobile website performance is the reason why 21% and 28% of e-commerce customers (respectively!) still shop from PCs. The increase in smartphone/tablet usage is also expected to fuel mobile payments growth. In 2016 54% of US and UK customers admitted using mobile wallets at least once, citing updates, special offers and digital coupons as the key reasons to download such apps. 22% of Starbucks’ in-store sales are already processed on mobile. The adoption of mobile payment and customer loyalty e-commerce solutions helped the company increase revenue by 12%. If you consider pulling a Starbucks, make sure to deliver value to your customers. While 87% of shoppers would like to use a loyalty app, 62% of customers who actually use one claim the brands they are loyal to don’t do enough to engage them. Employ a simple dollar-to-points bonus system, turn to gamification and improve ad targeting with reliable analytics tools – and success will follow;
- Focus on customer experience. Although the US e-commerce market surpassed $ 355 billion last year, the failure rates among new online stores stagger around 80%. Most e-commerce companies do not engage customers, make wrong pricing decisions, hire freelancers to save on website and mobile app development and underestimate the power of digital marketing. Having a well-defined marketing strategy and continuous optimization are your key success factors for 2017 and beyond. Here’s what you should do. Invest in high-quality content (including shoppable videos, episodic content and informative articles). Don’t neglect user-generated content, too. Successful online stores like ModCloth, for example, place pictures of ordinary customers wearing a clothing item next to its high-quality catalog photo and display customer reviews and ratings on product pages. Quote customers in your blog. Use their questions as a basis for your articles and podcasts. Make sure to craft moving and informative newsletters. Post links to third-party content that might interest your target audience. Product delivery and returns pose a serious problem, too. 81% of customers want an easier and more convenient way to return products they buy online. According to Forrester, 29% of online shoppers are willing to pay extra fees for same-day delivery. The Wall Street Journal claims 33% of shoppers return the goods they’ve bought online (especially clothes!) simply because they did not have an opportunity to try them on before making a purchase. In 2017, more e-retailers will set up local drop-off points for taking online orders and arranging prompt delivery in order to reduce delivery time (and outperform competition). Large e-commerce companies even start to use drones! Some of the early examples include Amazon Prime Air, Google’s Project Wing and JD.com. Although the commercial drone market topped $ 480 million last year (up from $ 261 million in 2015), 48% of drone sales come from the agriculture sector. Prominent tech companies (including Starship Technologies and Google) believe droids (not drones!) are the future of e-commerce delivery. It remains to be seen whether the new tech will reshape the future of e-commerce. What is certain is that 89% of e-commerce executives define customer experience as their top priority. What about you?
- Growing adoption of Artificial Intelligence solutions. According to Econsultancy, 83% of online customers need assistance during the purchase and check out process. It doesn’t mean you have to employ an army of customer support specialists; 2017 is going to be the year of chatbots (and conversational commerce)! These lightweight applications run inside messengers (including Kik, Facebook and Telegram) and use the Artificial Intelligence technology to answer customers’ questions on your behalf. Several tech-savvy retailers including H&M, Sephora and Spring have already built chatbots to interact with their customers, guide them through online catalogs and distribute digital coupons. Companies that combine brick and mortar and online presence install beacons in stores to collect data on customer behavior and leverage it for ad targeting and smart product recommendations. In the first half of 2016 companies that turned to predictive analytics registered a 73% growth in sales. If you want to outperform your rivals in 2017, it’s time you addressed a reliable custom mobile apps development company and made data analysis part of your digital strategy;
- Social commerce on the rise. The term “social commerce” which was coined by Yahoo back in 2005 refers to buying, selling and promoting goods through social media platforms. Ever since, the concept has evolved into a fully functional e-commerce system. Shopping is a social activity. 70% of US customers seek out advice before making a purchase and visit independent review websites. Platforms like Soldsie and Curalate enable e-commerce companies to add links to product pages to Facebook and Instagram posts. Also, users are now able to shop directly from social media (enter credit card data, etc.). Although smartphone owners spend 85% of their mobile time in apps, only five applications (that is, messengers and social media) see heavy use. If you can’t reach out to your target audience through your website and app, you should create a strong online presence through social networks.
In 2016, the average US Internet user spent $ 1.8 thousand on online purchases. We live in the Age of Customer, and e-commerce companies are bound to make use of the tools favored by their target audience. Let’s take mobile, for example. Your customers interact with their smartphones up to 200 times a day. However, only 14% of e-retailers leverage mobile as an engagement platform. Unless you keep up with the latest trends in e-commerce today, you may go out of business tomorrow. Is the message clear?