The dawn of a new year brings a whole host of new opportunities for marketers in eCommerce, which means that the end of the year is the time when everyone is coming up with their predictions for which new trends will represent the future of eCommerce. Last year we picked out five trends that we believed would become key factors in the market for 2016 and you can see what our tips were here and decide for yourself how prophetic we were.
The digital world moves on so quickly that trends can come and go in a matter of months, and 2016 has seen Pokemon Go’s use of AR seemingly take over the world and then disappear almost as quickly, for example, so any predictions are fraught with the potential to look hopelessly out of date almost immediately. With that in mind, here are our top eCommerce trends for 2017.
1 – Mobile First
The idea that being mobile responsive is important has been around for many years now, but we finally seem to be getting to the point where even smaller retailers have made sure this is the case, rather than expecting customers to navigate around a desktop website by zooming in and out on their phones. But 2016 has seen this trend go even further, to the point where it is now becoming clear that ‘mobile first’ isn’t just a design methodology that can help you create a simple and effective website for all platforms, but is a response to mobile coming first in priority order too.
This isn’t necessarily the case for all retailers and audiences need to be taken into consideration along with whatever Analytics shows in terms of the split between mobile and desktop, but as a general trend, it’s clear that many of us would use our phones to do transactions that used to be done on a laptop. So 2017 will see more and more eCommerce sites being built for mobiles, with desktop not quite an afterthought, but being given secondary consideration nonetheless.
2 – Personalisation and Customisation
The last year has shown how some retailers are starting to offer customers more personalised and customised experiences to entice them into completing their purchases, from personalised advertising to curated online shopping. With the right data about their customers and the right concepts and execution, there will be plenty of great examples of retailers creating unique experiences for their customers to help them decide if a sofa will look good in their living room, or whether a line of make-up will look good on their faces.
This type of real-time customisation serves many purposes in terms of bringing people to your site, keeping them there and helping them make the decision to purchase with extra information. With personalisation now very much a part of an average eCommerce marketing plan, 2017 will be all about taking it to the next level when it comes to user experience.
3 – Chatbots
As eCommerce marketers, keeping up to date with the latest digital developments is essential and your challenge is to find the way to use these developments to the benefit of your customers and therefore your business. The dawn of the chatbots offers great rewards for marketers who can use them right, and while chatbots are so far generally being used in customer service, 2017 could see more innovative and pro-active usage to act as a virtual sales assistant.
The appeal of chatbots for retailers is obvious, in that it cuts down the amount of human resource required and therefore the related costs. Implementing bots in messenger apps on Facebook and Twitter also allows users easy access to make orders within apps they use everyday, and the likes of Burger King and Pizza Hut have already taken advantage of this technology, with others certain to follow suit.
4 – Voice Control Takes Control
Voice recognition is already starting to be used on mCommerce sites like Domino’s Pizza, offering customers an easier way to place their orders using their mobiles, while sites need to be optimised to meet the requirements of people searching using Siri, Google Now, Alexa and the other voice assistants on the market. This means taking questions and answers into consideration and structuring content to take into account how people search using these tools.
Amazon has started using Alexa to drive sales during the key build-up to Black Friday this year, with exclusive deals only available for customers who ask ‘Alexa, what are your deals?’ This was trialled in July on Prime Day and seems set to be an increasingly prominent part of Amazon’s bid to get more customers both using Alexa and signing up to Prime to get the best deals, with items like TVs, Lego, etc all on special prices for these customers.
5 – Gig Economy Continues To Grow
The rise of companies like Uber and Deliveroo in recent years has led to the creation of the term ‘gig economy’ which refers to the industry wherein workers are employed on a non-contract basis and can be alerted to jobs when they are requested by customers. The overwhelming success that Uber has enjoyed so far has demonstrated that this model fits in well with the way consumers are using mobiles for so many of their transactions, and this will continue to grow in 2017.
That means we can expect to see the gig economy approach grow next year too, but as with any emerging market, the only companies that will thrive will be the ones that find the right service or product and the best way to meet customers’ needs at a competitive price. It will certainly be interesting to see which major brands dip their toes into the water to try and benefit from the opportunities available, though companies will need to be wary of using the gig economy as a way to exploit staff.
What are your thoughts on the key eCommerce trends for 2017? Get in touch with us via social media and share your opinions.