The eCommerce market is growing, and this is attracting new players in droves.
This year will be the year that major technology trends change the way customers interact with brands.
In the fiercely competitive online marketplace, businesses that fail to utilize the most innovative technology to smooth the customer journey will quickly find themselves losing out.
But a great online shopping experience isn’t only about technologies. You have to get your messaging right and connect with your customers, too.
Here are the most critical eCommerce trends to be aware of this year.
Mobile conversion rates will likely remain considerably below desktop conversion rates in 2017.
Yet you will hear everyone in the industry declaring everything has to be “mobile-first.”
This is because the key consideration stage of the customer journey often occurs on mobile devices.
As the chart below shows, tablet and mobile traffic made up a combined 58% of all eCommerce traffic in the second half of 2016.
These consumers are browsing products and making purchase decisions on mobile devices, and then converting later on desktop.
When the mobile user goes to a desktop to purchase, it is measured as a desktop conversion — but it was the mobile content that led them to purchase.
The average home now has more than seven devices connected to the internet.
Marketers need to break away from looking at mobile and desktop visitors as separate entities, when they are likely the same people.
In 2017, brands should be making it easier for shoppers to switch seamlessly between devices and pick up their customer journey where they left off.
In terms of total market growth, eCommerce will have a good year in 2017.
The World Bank has revised its growth estimates for 2017 to be higher than 2016, and both emerging and developed markets are expected to grow slightly faster than they did last year.
Add to that continued growth in global internet adoption and shifting consumer habits and you have a cocktail for strong eCommerce growth this year.
But this doesn’t mean eCommerce marketers can rest on their laurels. The buoyant market will tempt a huge range of new players into an already crowded market, suppressing margins and increasing competition.
SEO experts will face the problem of ‘content shock,’ originally coined by Mark Schaefer, whereby content meant to attract views and links will struggle to find an audience.
This is because there will be so many people competing in the market to create compelling content that consumers will be increasingly picky about the content they access.
Content shock will make it far harder to be successful with content marketing and SEO, and thus it will mean more and more brands turn to Google AdWords.
Since AdWords prices are set according to an internal marketplace, this will increase bid rates across the board for eCommerce search terms.
This is great news for Google, but expensive for eCommerce brands.
US consumer confidence is at an 11-year high.
The US small business optimism index recently had its greatest surged since 1980. The FTSE in the UK and the Dow Jones in the US are both setting records for their highest ever valuations.
This customer confidence means people are increasingly willing to open their wallets, whilst businesses will be more willing to invest and banks will be more willing to lend.
This means that rather than focusing relentlessly on price, shoppers will be seeking out luxury.
And when they do so they will want to spread costs out via subscription services, rather than buying one-off big-ticket purchases.
Those in their 20s and 30s today have disposable incomes one-third higher than the same age cohort did twenty years ago, but their wealth (the value of their assets) is lower than their parents’ wealth was when they were the same age.
This means plenty of money for subscriptions to eCommerce providers like SprezzaBox, but little in the way of savings to pay for large items in a single go.
All the key fundamentals are in place for luxury subscription-based eCommerce businesses to be extremely successful in 2017.
Marketers need to successfully build their brand to convey luxury and make sure their pricing models take into account the millennial desire (or need) to spread the cost of purchases.
Chatbots have had so much coverage over the past few months that it feels like overkill to even mention them.
But they are a huge deal for eCommerce marketers because they offer the crucial prospect of transforming how customers purchase items on mobile devices with conversational commerce.
If customers can talk naturally to an online chatbot built into a platform they already have on their mobile device such as Facebook’s Messenger App, then the customer journey will be massively simplified.
The number of marketing technology companies has grown exponentially in recent years.
Since 2011, the number of marketing tools has increased twenty-fold, to more 3,500. There is no sign of this trend subsiding, and it may even accelerate this year.
It is likely that by the end of 2017, there will be more than 5,000 different martech tools at eCommerce companies’ disposal.
If eCommerce marketers do not choose carefully, they can end up wasting their time trying to integrate tools that were never configured to work together.
The answer is to actively plan and manage your marketing stack, ensuring that new tools pass the all-important integration test before being utilized.
Failure to do this will mean already disjointed systems will become even more confusing in 2017.
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