Whats in store for ecommerce?
Friday December 8 2017
What does the future look like for ecommerce? BrightPearls Derek OCarroll predicts the key trends for 2018
Ecommerce is big business with Ofcom predicting online sales to reach £63 billion a year by 2020 and 67% of Millennials and 56% of Gen Xers preferring to shop online rather than in-store.
Clearly, having an online presence in no longer optional; it’s becoming a necessity for survival. So what are the key four ecommerce trends we’ll likely see in 2018.
1. Mobile takeover
71% of all UK adults now own a smartphone, with this figure rising to 90% among 16 to 34-year-olds. In 2016, smartphones officially became the most popular device for accessing the internet.
Mobile commerce has been an invaluable requirement within the ecommerce marketplace for at least the last three years but this information shows us that its importance is accelerating massively.
For example, in 2016 alone sales through mobile grew 90% with more than half of online purchases being made from smartphones.
As a result, 2018 will see mobile browsing driving ecommerce – and businesses must make sure their websites are mobile-friendly across devices.
Also, keep in mind that millennials are nearly 3 times as likely as Baby Boomers to have made an online purchase from bed, and over 50% of smartphone users grab their smartphone immediately after waking up.
Retailers must look to capitalise on these habits with well-timed offers and content that’s perfected for mobile.
2. Rise of social commerce
Social media is rapidly becoming a viable and vital channel for retailers and 2018 will see a tipping point for social commerce.
A recent global (US) survey of business owners found that 25% sell through Facebook, and 40% sell through social media as a whole.
Platforms such as Instagram are increasingly becoming a shop window for retailers, with more than 30% of Instagram users admitting to buying items after seeing them in photos or videos on the app.
Instagram presents a unique opportunity for brand storytelling and to remain top-of-mind for users who scroll through their Instagram feeds every single day.
Furthermore, more than 38% of 18-34 olds would like to purchase items directly from Instagram - and, though this number falls to less than 10% for older age groups, online retailers should take this into account when considering the social shopping route to sales.
With the significant rise of smartphone and social media usage, online shopping is becoming more social, and social commerce has found its way online -- next year more retailers will have to begin integrating social commerce software with their shopping platform and make sure they have the technology in place that doesn’t punish customers for coming into that channel.
3. Technology transformation
Far too many retailers, of all sizes, have disparate systems in place that simply do not support real-time ecommerce.
This is not a good fit to meet increasing customer demand for immediacy, especially from the millennial generation, whose buying power and influence increases year-on-year.
Next year will be a turning point for many retailers, who will need to innovate to reimagine their customer journey, for example, chatbots and voice search to help buyers research shopping options, and even buy items online.
Alongside this, will be a requirement to put in place technology to bring balance to retailers front and back office -- an essential component to running a competitive, growing ecommerce business.
Application of automation technology will also be a necessity for
meeting rising customer expectations. We’re not talking about robots taking over the workforce,
but rather, automated processes, using clean data, that drive back office efficiencies -- freeing
retailers to focus more time on developing their ecommerce capability and improving their customer
experience. This will mean more businesses automating back office processes like order fulfilment,
carrier integrations, and integrated purchase ordering.
4. Data gets personal
Customer insights are becoming much more widely available and
accessible to businesses of all sizes. This availability means retailers are now able to spot patterns to
segment and engage with their customers on a more personal level. You see this on sites like Amazon that suggest products based on your past purchases.
In 2018, creating unique customer experiences will be at the forefront of retailers’ strategy.
Targeting customers at exactly the right time with relevant communications
and content will ensure online retailers stand out from the competition by offering an experience
that feels tailored and personal.
While the opportunity is clear, challenges will continue to persist.
Siloed data, legacy systems, and the wealth of potential data available to retailers means many will either suffer from information overload, or struggle to properly mine data to connect the dots.
I believe next year will see some retailers rising above others, using end-to-end technology
solutions and accurate and clean data to form the bedrock of their personalisation strategies --
allowing for the development of more meaningful, convenient and relevant experiences for customers.