The future of eCommerce is looking to usher in some exciting new changes that will revolutionize the retail industry. As we discover more ways to integrate technology into our daily lives, it’s no surprise consumer behavior is evolving along with technology. Today, 51% of Americans prefer to shop online rather than in stores, and that number hikes up to 67% for millennials and 56% for Gen Xers.
Some experts even predict that online sales will increase from $335 billion in 2015 to $523 billion in 2020. As these numbers suggest, online sellers need to to embrace digital commerce or risk falling far behind the competition. Digital is the future of online shopping and eCommerce technology and in this post we will take a look into what new trends we can expect to see in eCommerce for 2017 and beyond.
Longer Shopping Seasons
One of the most noteworthy consumer trends online retailers should take advantage of, is the demand for an earlier shopping season during the holidays. Despite the fact that consumers will spend more than $400 billion on holiday purchases, deal days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday will no longer symbolize the start of holiday shopping. Instead, online retailers will be entering an era where the holiday shopping season will begin as early as the first week of November.
According to Google, 40% of Canadian consumers start holiday shopping right before Halloween. Retail industry trends in the United States also indicate that 88% of retailers will begin advertising sales in the first week of November. So if your peak season strategies involve waiting for calendar dates like Cyber Monday before you start offering discounts, you may want to reevaluate your strategy. Online retailers can benefit from this trend by spreading out their holiday promotions over an entire month, instead of anticipating increase in profits from just one weekend.
eCommerce Technology Becomes Hyper-localized
Younger generations are already hooked on instant communication and the unique experiences that mobile technologies offer. Interest in better mobile experiences and opportunities are expected to grow. Retailers are looking to cash in on this trend, as we witness a shift from general online promotions to unique promotions that are focused on the individual based on their location.
With the aid of geolocation merchants are beginning to offer specialized promotions and services for individuals in their local communities. This hyper focus on the individual will use aggregate data and GPS to notify users about local promotions and deals going on around them based on their interest and past purchases.
Merchants can now rely on "smarter" eCommerce technology like sensors that can detect nearby devices and create real-time “happenings” for which the experience, content, or promotion is available only to the people who are there at the time. Retailers across the country are moving away from focusing on products and service, and are now looking towards providing customers with an experience and unique interaction to gain attention.
The Rise of Data Aggregation Companies
In 2017, many online retailers will work closely with data aggregators who hoard data for millions of products. Companies like True Fit & Etilize host information like pictures, reviews, descriptions, specifications, etc. for online retailers. This trend is appealing because it gives merchants the ability to link their site to these databases, where they can automatically update information about their product directly to their website.
92% of consumers regularly read product descriptions and reviews before they make a purchase decision. With the help of these aggregate data companies, instead of manually writing crappy product descriptions, online retailers will have the option of automating this process by simply integrating their websites with these companies. By partnering with aggrigate data companies, retailers eliminate the need to constantly update product spec's, and no longer have to cross their fingers in hopes of getting organic product reviews.
This year many consumers will have their first encounter with artificial intelligence in the form of chatbots. Chatbots are fully automated bots that will answer consumer questions and fulfill orders entirely through messenger services and apps. For example, fast food restaurant, Burger King, will unveil Burger King Bots on Facebook, where customers can order food by simply messaging Burger King Bot. Chatbots ask customers all the right questions, discover exactly what they want and place an order for users to pick up.
Chatbots will soon become a commonplace eCommerce technology leveraged across all social media platforms and provide a much more plesant and interactive experience for consumers. In fact, the buyer conversion rate is 5 to 10 times higher following a chat session. This revolution in online buying, at first glance, sounds like bad news for employees of companies who adopt chatbots, but instead there will be a surprising increase in need for sales staff as they'll be increasingly involved in the online sales experience.
Never Reach For Your Wallet Again
Today, consumers already have the option to make purchases and transactions without ever reaching for their wallets. This is a consumer behavior that is expected to increase in 2017. Upgrades to mobile phones, wearable devices, and RFID scanners continue to encourage consumers to step away from traditional forms of payment, and step into a more digital realm. Merchant’s across different retail fronts will need to begin upgrading point-of-sales systems to accommodate this digital shift in spending.
Growing interest in digital payment can be seen in big name companies, like Amazon, who are using RFID scanners to revolutionize the grocery store shopping experience. By simply using mobile devices, consumers are now able to purchase store items without cash or credit.
MasterCard is another corporate giant who has hopped aboard the digital payment train. In 2016, MasterCard announced the launch of “selfie pay," a service that confirms user’s identity by using biometrics to verify online purchases, in this instance the “selfie." Online and store retailers would be wise to adapt to these more prefered payment methods to stay ahead of the curve.
Smaller Stores, Same Day Delivery, & Drop Points
In 2017, eCommerce and online retail orders are expected to continue to rise. Online sales are predicted to follow the annual trend of 14% increase, which will demand faster more efficient shipping methods. Online retailers need to learn how to master the delivery, pickup and shipping process to keep up with competitors and consumer expectations by keeping up-to-date on eCommerce technology trends.
In response to the dwindling need for brick-and-mortar stores, many stores will now operate out of smaller spaces. These smaller stores will act more as show rooms, fitting rooms, pickup and drop-off points. A typical trip to a clothing store will look more like a viewing and order placement experience, while same day delivery emergencies will become one of the most exciting revolutions in online shopping and eCommerce technology.
Consumers can expect to receive their first same-day shipping and delivery experience in 2017. Consumers will now be able make a purchase online and receive products just hours after purchase. Whether at home, at work or at a drop-off point of their choosing, product delivery is expected to become much faster as shippers increase delivery efforts, and the wonder of drone delivery begins to manifest in real life via drop off locations. MIn 2017 more businesses will need to leverage the use of eCommerce technology, like warehouse software and asset tracking, in order to compete and keep inventory accurate.
A Forrester report states that 29% of consumers would be willing to pay extra for same-day delivery. While product shipping and returns have always been a major pain point for retailers, 2017 promises to offer some pretty unique solutions. Amazon Prime began the trend of flexible delivery options with two day shipping and its experimental drone delivery system, but they are not the only pioneers looking for better solutions. UberRush and Postmates are two brands looking to capitalize on rising consumer trends by offering their services for faster deliveries options. Online retailers should follow these innovative companies by looking for faster shipping and delivery methods to adopt in their sales process.
Within the last few years technology has revolutionized our lives and 2017 is no exception. The future of online shopping and, subsequently, eCommerce technology, is evolving at an ever increasing rate, and if online retailers hope to succeed they will need to get on board. Today's consumers are switching to digital and so should you!