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The 12 most important ecommerce trends to follow in 2017

2017 will be an innovator’s market and if you’re not evolving with consumers who are becoming harder to win, easier to lose and fussier on price and user experience you will fall behind.

Consumer expectations and behavior are changing rapidly and in order to stay ahead of your competition you will need to start implementing a few innovative strategies.

Here we cover 12 big trends that will not only shape ecommerce in 2017 but will have a long lasting and immense effect in shaping the future of the ecommerce industry.

Mobile is still on the rise

I’m sure you don’t need to hear it again. As phones grow more powerful and responsive sites become standard to having an online presence, it becomes more important than ever for online retailers to make the mobile experience as good as possible.

Due to higher mobile engagement and mobile-centric behaviour more and more online shoppers are making purchases on their phones, however mobile engagement has been lackluster in catching up to consumer demand. With a large portion of consumers still unhappy with using their mobile phones for purchasing, smartphones still have the lowest conversion rate.

In 2017 retailers will stop looking at ‘mobile users’ and ‘desktop users’ as different people and continue to implement and improve the omnichannel strategy for a seamless experience across all devices.

It’s all about the subscription-based model

In recent years we have seen a rise in the ever attractive subscription-based model. And this comes as no surprise as consumers often opt for smaller purchases rather than larger ones.

Offering a product on a subscription basis rather than for a single purchase gives flexibility to the consumer and allows for recurring revenue — a win-win for both parties.

Artificial Intelligence is looming

Funding for artificial intelligence has increased massively in the past three years and it looks like 2017 will be the year where AI tech really comes into its own.

By combining genuine intelligence with the massive amount of data now available from analytics and tracking software, ad targeting and personalisation will be able to get a whole lot smarter.

Chatbots will work for you

In 2017, many consumers will have their first interaction with a chatbot, a fully automated chat agent that will answer their questions, provide information and act as the first point of contact with the brand.

Smoothing the customer journey, Chatbots will change how customers shop online because, instead of being limited to browsing or searching, they will be able to get personalized recommendations, their shipment details, make hassle-free returns, and eventually even facilitate transactions.

Virtual reality will make up for the missing feel and touch

We will start to see more of a mergence between the in-store experience and online shopping.

For enhanced customer engagement retailers will start fusing the offline and online environment by offering live assistants that deal with questions, concerns and comments in real-time and by giving consumers more of a comprehensive view (360-degree view, product in use, detail close-ups and more) of their products.

Real-time customization

In the age of the customer, customer experience, including personalization, is vital in differentiation between competitors and lowering cart abandonment rate.

New platforms use data to allow for a dynamic shopping experience that adapts to each consumer in real time. Each shopper is given access to unique content such as product recommendations and add-ons chosen based on their preferences, geographic location, market trends, demographic group, past purchases, and brand interactions — and all this is done automatically.

Real-time, signal-driven and predictive analytics

2017 Sees the increase in software that provides deeper insight into the way customers behave and engage. Software now enables the ability to assign tracking signals to all sales channels and possible conversion sources, and follow these from their source to either a conversion, an abandonment or a bounce.

With real-time, signal-driven analytics such as this, retailers now have the power to analyze every possible conversion point. Modifying their strategies based on the most current data.

We will also see the rise of predictive analysis, giving a retailer suggestions on how to accurately predict a customer’s next purchase and reach their next milestones.

Say bye to the wallet

Consumers these days can already make many purchases and transactions without ever taking out their wallets.

The upgrades to consumers mobile devices and retailers point-of-sale systems will spell the end of the traditional wallet for many people in 2017, especially since wearables and other payment-enabled tech will now be connected and capable of making payments.

In the moment customized experiences

Retailers are no longer selling only products and services, they are providing experiences and interactions, a fact that major brands will exploit in increasingly innovative ways.

With Gen Y and Z consumers hooked on instant communication and unique experiences it is now more important than ever to enhance offerings and create real-time experiences. Made possible by mobile technologies, RFID, NFC and geolocation, retailers can make an experience, content, or promotion available to a targeted audience.

The uber-ization of shipping

Flexibility of delivery options will increase in importance as an ecommerce differentiator. The consumer demand for fast fulfillment and convenient delivery is growing and retailers now need to look to local drop-off points, same-day delivery, on-demand delivery, flat-rate shipping and easy returns.

Fret not! — consumers say that they are willing to pay more to have these conveniences.

Merging commerce with ecommerce

With consumers now expecting to be able to search for, interact with, purchase, receive or pick up, and return products wherever and whenever they want. They’ll spend their money with retailers who will let them make purchases whenever and wherever it’s convenient for them, and not the other way around.

The Google rebellion

Online retailers are more dependent on Google than ever before. But with new algorithm releases that can drop a store’s rankings, penalties for certain SEO methods and a monopoly over paid search advertising, it is inevitable that marketers have started looking for ways to reduce their dependency.

In 2017 we will see a rise in brands starting to rebel against Google and put more value on building social advertising into their marketing plans.

As we start 2017 off, many of these trends are already being acknowledged as the new standard to moving ecommerce forward.

Adopt an innovative attitude, and you won’t find yourself lagging behind.

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Paula Gries

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