Mobile is not the king anymore! This will be the year of personalisation, data analytics tools, and artificial intelligence. Here are the 10 top trends in eCommerce for 2017. It's already become January's tradition! PayU's Research and Development Team analysed for the third time hundreds of worldwide publications and reports on eCommerce. We checked the frequency and situations in which they point to certain issue that will be key for online sales in the upcoming months. This enabled us to compile the list of major trends in eCommerce for 2017. The ranking below is the summary of forecasts and analyses recently published by consulting companies, marketing experts, tech bloggers, SEO specialists, and eStore managers. It's a practical guide for those who run Internet businesses, that will allow you to follow the top trends. Look out while sailing the stormy waters of 2017 - this dynamics of changes in eCommerce and retail business has never been seen before.
This is the most frequent word in forecasts for 2017 and it is inflected for every case.
"Ultimately, personalisation dethroned mobile as the leading trend in the industry. Modern business is increasingly based on personalised offers and marketing messages. The major challenge for online retailer is to make customers feel that they are special. Not like one of the thousands of consumers, but the one, unique recipient who may expect customised products, content, and communication methods, and service", says Aleksandra Lenartowicz from PayU's R&D.
Many experts have a similar view. "One-to-one personalisation will be key to success in eCommerce in 2017. Knowing what your customers want, often before they do, and delivering it to them will build you a growing community of loyal customers" says Kathryn Monkcom, a British blogger.
"In 2017, online shopping will be data-driven more than ever because it is necessary to adjust the offer to the context and circumstances of the customer to become able to sell something to him in the first place", says John Komarek, the founder of effective marketing agency Pixelter.
As for personalization (and other things), Irina Weber, eMarketing Specialist, advises online sellers to follow Amazon and make customer service the priority on each stage of the purchasing process.
2. Delivery and Return
Delivery (preferably same-day delivery) and return (preferably free of charge) are the Holy Grail of commerce. Even though it is a distant horizon for many eSellers, investments in partner network and logistics improvements will result in 2017 in many positive changes in shipments.
However, this will not result from one specific innovation, but many minor improvements:
- The upcoming months will primarily focus on same-day delivery, which is anticipated by more and more consumers.
- We will see an increase number of local pick-up locations (e.g. automatic machines, fuel stations, stands, grocery stores, etc.).
- The online retail will utilize the growing popularity of crowdsourcing (packages can be finally transported not only by couriers, but also "ordinary" drivers, including those who work for taxi apps, such as Uber).
- There is still a lot of hype on drone delivery. Even though this is tested by major eCommerce companies, it is for the time being mostly an attractive marketing vision.
Do these great efforts in logistics make sense? They do! "A Forrester report states that 29% of consumers would be willing to pay extra for same-day delivery", as noticed by Kit Smith, Content Writer at marketing company Brandwatch.
Mobile is the King – this idea has already worn out as it echoed for the last years throughout the entire eCommerce. Even though mobile fell to the third place on our list of trends (it came in second and third in 2015 and 2016, respectively), the topic is still up-to-date. Mobile devices account for more than half of the Internet traffic and continue to increase their domination over desktop computers and laptops. Experts predict that 2017 will witness eCommerce reaching the new heights in terms of popularity and profitability. As for eStores, there is still a lot to be done.
"It may surprise you that a very big chunk of customers still aren't happy with purchasing on a mobile device. Over half prefer purchasing on a PC, and many worry about privacy and security", says Robert Allen, Smart Insights editor.
"According to think tank Gartner, mobile engagement and the mobile behaviour of shoppers will skyrocket ecommerce-driven mobile revenue by at least 50% by the year 2017", as noted by Michael Lazar, an author at Engadget.
4. Analytics & Targeting
This is a trend strongly connected with personalisation, which is described at the beginning of our list.
In sales, reading customers' needs has always played a significant role. For decades, retailers did it intuitively or analyzed the sales books. On the Internet, analytics is used for this purpose. The ability to process large datasets and use them to draw suitable conclusions may come in handy both in creating offers or advertisements and as part of customer communication.
The improved reading of consumers' behaviours and tendencies translates into increased revenue. In the first half of 2016, the sales volume of companies who used analytics was 73% better than that of companies who have never done it.
"As technology evolves, you’ll have more access to more data, from more places. You won’t have to worry about delays in your analytics any more — most platforms are moving to focus on real-time analytics that give you more insight into what your customers are doing now and what you can expect them to do next", says Content Marketing Specialist Michelle Nickolaisen in Oberlo.
5. Social commerce
Social media is still an important trend indicated by specialists from the industry. The reason is that they are no longer only a channel for communication and brand awareness; today, they are also important in terms of sale. According to the experts, social commerce (commerce that involves social media) is a trend that will strengthen its position in the months to follow, which will result from the growing reach of Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, as well as the users habits.
Many say that social media are the future of the entire eCommerce: "They want to shorten the buying process and make it happen right on the platform of discovery. Trends in eCommerce show that customers favour the fastest and most convenient shopping experience so it’s possible we have the answer to what the future of online shopping is", says Dimira Teneva, eCommerce and Marketing Specialist at Metrilo.
The position of the last year's major trend is strong because consumers still expect that it will possible to shop via various channels (traditional brick & mortar, mobile, social media) and switch between them easily. According to Google data, 85% of us begins the purchasing process using one channel and ends it via a different one. The task of commerce business owners is to provide consumers with free and clear (user experience says hi!) flow between particular shopping platforms and methods.
“Many years ago, commerce was limited to bricks & mortar stores, then came catalogue sales, phone ordering, eCommerce, social commerce and even TV commerce. The issue facing many retailers today is channel fragmentation", as noticed by Annabel Paton, Marketing Manager at Purenet.
A similar outburst can be observed in payments. Consumers do not want to be limited by cash (a lot of time will go by before it disappears), credit cards or Internet transfers; they want to use all existing payment methods, all the time and date. This trend will continue to increase in numbers – mobile payments is a form which quickly gains in popularity, which is the reason why operators and the owners of global technological platforms (e.g. Android Pay, ApplePay, and Amazon Pay) want to introduce their payment solutions.
As the world of online payments is fragmented, it would be good if they were serviced in your company by a partner who offers, just like PayU, the largest amount of options and forms, and its trustworthy brand is recognised among customers. "Various payment methods, if made available to customers, give rise to higher conversion rates and higher sales", says John Komarek from Pixelter.
8. Artificial intelligence
When asked about the hottest tech trend, probably every entrepreneur from the Silicon Valley would give the same answer: artificial intelligence (AI). This is also reflected in eCommerce. "Artificial intelligence is now reaching a level where it is useful to many people’s daily lives. The rise of digital assistants, such as Amazon’s Alexa (on the Echo), Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google’s Assistant (in Google Home) have got people used to talking to machines.
But artificial intelligence is not only associated with assistants we can talk to while shopping; it also refer to complex technological solutions which change the shopping reality, such as Amazon's store of the future which is based on application Amazon Go that uses deep learning and artificial intelligence. However, it is a new trend and many experts still have a vague idea as to how AI can change the world of eCommerce. It is only certain that it will have a significant impact, and 2017 will witness many experiments on this area. Such as the next trend...
9. Virtual Shopping Assistance
"Hello, welcome to our store. How can I be of assistance?" We hear these greetings less and less often from sellers, but we tend to see them more and more often on the screens of our computers and mobile phones. According to the experts, estores will be substantially reinforced by virtual shopping assistants (chatbots). Thanks to the dynamic development of artificial intelligence, chatbots will talk with customers in the manner resembling a "normal" human interaction. "Sellers begin to understand that customers expect a personalised shopping experience, which is the reason why more and more brands will develop virtual saleforce", says Michael Lazar. This is also related to the next trend, that is...
10. Real-Time Customer Service
Even though each store should have an excellent customer service, this is still not the case. That is why many experts see it as a change to developing their competitive advantage. The key to success is to ensure real-time customer service, which may be achieved by online stores not only via chatbots, but also via voice calls, video chats, and Facebook conversations. "Excellent customer support will be on top priority and more and more online store owners have started using live chat assistance on their eCommerce websites", says Suvashree Bhattacharya, Internet Marketing Expert at REVE Chat.