And just like that 2016 is behind us! For some, it will be missed, for others, it’s a sweet goodbye. Now that we are a few weeks into 2017 it’s time to ask yourself, what new emerging trends will encompass the eCommerce community this year? Every business nowadays realizes the importance of having a digital presence. So, with that being said, there are important developments that businesses need to take into consideration if they want to stay out amongst the rest. Just because some trends were hot in 2016, does not necessarily mean that they will transfer over into 2017… or will they? The top 8 eCommerce trends that you should look to embrace for 2017 are chatbots, the end of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, faster delivery speeds, top notch mobile experiences, digital payment abilities, data and content aggregators, predictive analysis technologies, and social selling and brand ambassadors. Let’s dive into each trend a little deeper.
The first trend to look out for in 2017 is the introduction of chatbots. Chatbots are Al-led automated messenger systems that allow your customers’ first point of contact with your brand to be with an instant messenger. A trend that is already prevalent in society is our comfort with speaking with machines, so long as we receive the service that we are looking for. Chatbots are available in almost all social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and Google, but can also be implemented directly into a business’s eCommerce store. These bots help customers with anything from shopping or booking needs, to standard customer service and support. The smartest bots, however, detect exactly what the customer is asking for and responds as if it were a real salesperson or customer support worker. For instance, when a user asks a question, a Chatbot can then suggest products that will meet their needs, place the requested order, answer all queries and concerns, and can even accommodate its style of language in order to interact efficiently. This may be not be a feasible trend to implement into your business; but, if it is, we strongly urge you to do your research on these new developments as they can really aid in saving you resources in the future.
The second trend to embrace for 2017 is the end of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Saying that there will be an “end” to the two days of the year that set sales records in 2016 is a little bit dramatic. It is true that these important dates will still be high contenders for mass sales volume in 2017 and many years following, but there is a new trend and date to keep an eye on, and that is “Cyber November.” Black Friday and Cyber Monday will no longer be the reference point to the start of the holiday shopping season. According to Google, 40% of holiday shopping begins before Halloween for Canadian consumers. While, on the other side of things, 88% of retailers in the United States launch their holiday sales advertisements in the first week of November. This isn’t to say that there won’t continue to be an increase of online and in-store shopping on both of these dates, but it is beneficial to think about structuring your promotions to begin earlier and last until the holiday season with minor adjustments along with way instead of placing all of your eggs in one basket by launching your promotions for these specific dates. There will always be those devoted shoppers who live for the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, but you should also attempt to focus your efforts on those consumers that begin their holiday shopping before the “traditional” holiday season even begins.
The third trend to look out for in 2017 is faster delivery speeds. We live in a time that is revolved around not having enough of it. We always look for ways to speeden up a process or make things more convenient in our lives. This way of thinking is present in every aspect of our lives, including online shopping. There are many consumers who will pay that extra fee just to have their purchase delivered to them earlier. In fact, a Forrester report states that 29% of consumers would be willing to pay extra for same-day delivery. Many online retailers are beginning to hop onto this trend as we see the rise of drop-off points for online orders to be able to fulfill same-day deliveries. Some businesses that have implemented a same-day delivery system are ASOS, New Look, and Boohoo and have already seen an increase in sales.
The fourth trend that is predicted to emerge in 2017 is a top notch mobile experience. I’m sure you have read and heard about the importance of the mobile experience dozens of times in the past and are getting bored of being reminded. Well there is a reason that this trend was constantly focused on in 2016 and is being carried over into 2017. As a whole, but particularly with the younger generations, society is fixated on mobile devices, as opposed to laptop or desktop devices (see hp zbook vs elitebook). Whether it be a cell phone or a tablet, more and more consumers are looking to their mobile devices to consume. As mobile devices introduce more modern elements such as larger screens and better search options, consumers are beginning to purchase online rather than in-store in many cases. In order to fully optimize on this opportunity, however, it isn’t enough to simply have a website that is fully-functional on a mobile device. You want to ensure that you utilize the proper developmental techniques to give the mobile user a unique experience. You want to take away the thought of mobile devices having limitations with regards to buying online and give the user the full eCommerce experience through all mediums. We urge you to go into 2017 with the mindset of putting mobile first and you will begin to see the benefits that this emphasis will bring about.
We seem to be realizing an overall theme when diving into the fifth trend of 2017 that is the increase of digital payment abilities. Many consumers are adopting new methods of payment that don’t involve taking out their wallets. Many mobile payments are conducted through Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, PayPal, or just simply via credit card. New technologies are being introduced, however, to make digital payments expand to even further heights. Not only are companies adopting the idea of contactless payments through mobile apps, such as Starbucks, but consumers will be able to purchase products using other devices outside of their smartphone. For instance, consumers are able to purchase products through various items that are connected and capable of making payments such as watches, rings, fingerprints, or online pin numbers. To some, this may seem a little far-fetched, but as mentioned previously, we live in a time that is centered around convenience. In 2017 it is predicted that almost every customer will expect to be able to purchase an item using their digital wallet in whichever form it may be in; with that said, therefore, it is wise for all merchants to prepare themselves to accept these different forms of payment in order to simplify the buying process for consumers.
The sixth trend to watch out for in 2017 is the increased use of content and data aggregators. Other than convenience and time being a huge influencer in the online buying process, there is another factor that can prevent the consumer from purchasing. This factor is uncertainty. There is uncertainty in all realms of shopping, but it is particularly prevalent within the eCommerce community as consumers are unable to physically see the product, try it on, etc. Though the majority of users have the option to return products if they are unsatisfied, this uncertainty is so severe that is halts the purchase all-together. So where do users go to try and clear up this uncertainty? Product reviews and client testimonials. In fact, 92% of internet users regularly read product reviews from previous buyers. As a merchant, therefore, the more information you can provide on a product or service will result in a smaller obstacle in the way of purchasing. I know I know… this is much easier said than done. The amount of time and upkeep it takes to constantly refresh product descriptions, images, reviews, demonstrations, etc., is tremendous. This amount of upkeep requires resources that not all businesses have available to them. So what is the solution? In 2017, many eCommerce retailers will begin to utilize data aggregators to their advantage. These aggregators compile data on millions of products such as pictures, descriptions, price comparisons, specifications, UPC codes, reviews, and comments. Some examples of databases that companies are currently utilizing are; TrueFit data aggregator, Etilize product information aggregator, and many more! This is yet another way to simplify the buying process for the consumer through making them feel at ease with detailed product information and current comments that you do not have to exhaust multiple resources to provide!
The seventh 2017 trend to embrace is the use of predictive analysis. On a day-to-day basis companies gather a tremendous amount of user data that is derived from multiple interactions, customer personas and avatars, entry points, bounce rates, and many others. Though all of this information is extremely helpful and required when analyzing consumer buying habits and preferences, it is a lot of information to go through. Predictive analysis technologies’ usage is growing more and more prominent with merchants. Not only can these technologies accumulate all of the necessary data to better understand consumer buying habits and preferences a lot quicker, but they can even make predictions on consumers’ next purchases. These technologies take all of the acquired data from each user as well as data from consumers who share similar segmentation attributes and profiles to predict future purchasing trends. Not only will this save you time in analyzing all of the data yourself, but it will also help you when planning your campaigns accordingly. For instance, you will be able to efficiently plan and optimize on your email marketing campaigns to help solidify and confirm purchasing trends by communicating with the right people.
Last but not least, the eighth trend to look out for in 2017 is that of social selling and brand ambassadors. Now, more than ever, brands are seeing the benefit of utilizing social networks for advertising, but doing so in a discrete manner. There of course is the traditional advertising methods for social networks, but what is predicted to be most effective in 2017 is word-of-mouth advertising through social selling. So far we have seen this occur in two main ways. First, companies prompt consumers to be a part of a community by sharing their product or service experiences via social media through pictures or other posts with a designated hashtag. This not only promotes the communal vibe that appeals to other consumers, but it also results in free advertising. Second, companies can be more aggressive with their social selling by hiring a brand ambassador. Brand ambassadors typically make sponsored videos or posts directed at the product or service being advertised that are sometimes paired with incentives for their viewers/followers, such as discount codes. These brand ambassadors are typically individuals that are well-known celebrities or hold some authority in the industry in which the product or service markets to. Though this type of social selling may be more expensive than the first, it may be more effective seeing as the ambassadors are icons or role models whose opinions matter to their followers, thus resulting in a greater impact than that of a viral hashtag. Though this trend may not be feasible or applicable for all businesses to employ, it is one that we will see more of throughout 2017.
This list can go on and on as the amount of eCommerce trends that are introduced into the market grow on a daily basis. The emergence of chatbots, the end of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, faster delivery speeds, top notch mobile experiences, digital payment abilities, data and content aggregators, predictive analysis technologies, and social selling and brand ambassadors, however, seem to be the most prominent in all cases. Whether or not you decide to employ all or any of these trends into your business model, it is beneficial to be aware of what the market has in store for 2017.