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My eCommerce Predictions for 2017

If the world of eCommerce in 2017 progresses as quickly as 2016 we could be living in quite a different world by the time we sing Auld Lang Syne again. The space is flooded with new technology while the millennial customer’s disposable income increases. It’s actually incredibly exciting, while being a little bit scary at the same time. The world as we know it is disappearing, and in its place we’re seeing a blend of George Orwell’s 1984 with Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror replacing it.

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I believe some technologies that just peeked their nose over the parapet will make a great leap into the world of eCommerce this year. Who will triumph, which one will become commonplace, and what may be laid to waste as we dismiss it as a passing phase, let’s find out.

Google Assistant and the Rise of the Synths – Everyone Wants Their Own PA

Google Assistant should be big news this year and not just for Google and it’s users (that’s all of us). The need to have questions answered and delivered through various technologies should highlight what the 2017 really want. We all want our own virtual PA and the more personalised it is the better. Siri started the trend, but Google assistant will make it stay, and it won’t be too long before we see the Google Assistant take the shape of a synth from the popular TV show Humans.

How can you tap into the popularity of Google Assistant in 2017? Make sure your website answers questions and understand the value of providing information.

Same Day delivery and One Click Ordering – They Want it Now

Despite the costs involved, bigger eCommerce stores were willing to offer same day delivery as a service in 2016. We soon became used to Sunday deliveries through Amazon prime and others, while many independent couriers found there were huge profits to be made, B2B, by offering extended hours. In London, I expect same day delivery to become commonplace in 2017, this may also extend to other major cities in the UK too.

I’m not entirely convinced it’ll be profitable enough to work rurally, but then I’ve been surprised in the past and I may eat my words by the end of the year. However it progresses, eCommerce owners must continue to improve and speed up their delivery offers in order to compete with any competition.

Multichannel Retailing and the Internet of Things – They Want it Every Single Way They Can

Multichannel retailing used to refer to offline advertising, the mobile phone and the PC. Not anymore.  To embrace multichannel retailing and to profit from it, eCommerce owners must embrace all of the technologies it involves. This includes those emerging that are set to make quite a splash in 2017, such as virtual reality.

I believe 2017 will see virtual reality become mainstream. I think by the end of the year, customers will use virtual reality for shopping. No longer will it be good enough to browse through items on a single flat screen, shoppers will want the full immersive 360 experience as if they were shopping in store, from their armchairs.

Smart TVs and Buy It Now Buttons – They Want it On Their TV

Smart TVs are now commonplace and are, in my opinion, missing a big opportunity for sales. We can now download any film instantly, we can binge watch series, but still we have to sit through ads. The method of showing an ad, and expecting the customer to remember later is out-dated. Of course, there’s still a place for TV advertising, but there’s also a space for a Buy it now button on the TV remote.

This may seem intrusive but I believe this should be available. As a serial shopper myself, I know I would give into temptation. For the millennial, who doesn’t want to click twice, if they can get away with clicking once, this would be a feature they’d embrace wholeheartedly. It would remove the need for picking up their phone and searching.  I do think we’ll start to see this introduced by the end of 2017, or at least mobile phones more integrated to the TV so it’s just a single click. You heard that one here first.

Contactless and Wallet-less Payments – They Want It Without Effort

Easier ways to buy will make up a lot of 2017 from Apple Pay to wallet-less payments. Retailers will rush to provide quicker ways to pay, as the speedier the payment can be made, the less chance there is for basket abandonment.

Recommendations and Browsing Opportunities -They Want You to Think for Them

With the rise of technology making shopping easier, it’s even more important that you ensure your customer rarely has to think for their selves. Amazon’s recommended lists are popular for a reason, as people love suggestions, it’s akin to browsing in a bricks and mortar store. eCommerce leaders will continue to realise the importance of thinking for the consumer, providing gift guides, recommended lists, suggestions and more, creating incredible opportunities for up-selling and cross selling as a result.

Google assistant will grow, and consumers will expect eCommerce sites to answer any or all of their questions, making information even more important than ever before.

Organic SEO and Google Algorithms – Content will Still be King

Content will still play a huge part in accruing customers and retaining them but it’s set to change for 2017. This shift has been gradual but I believe that 2017 will show great leaps in this arena, and those that keep up to date with the trends will win. It all boils down to the millennial again. The millennials are leaving college, they’re getting jobs and they’re earning good disposable incomes and they know what they want. They want to be engaged and entertained, and so all content should be explored from the written word to video to virtual reality and more.

Whatever happens in 2017 one thing is for sure, it’s set to be yet another record breaking year for eCommerce. It can be daunting for the smaller business to keep up with these trends, but as long as the owner understands the importance of delivering what the customer wants, with speed, it shouldn’t be a huge problem!

 

A Review of Ecommerce in 2016

2016 may have been a horrendous year for celebrities but it was a defining year for eCommerce. A lot of trends materialised while predictions from as far back as 2012 came true.

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2016 set the pace for the development of ecommerce and the speed was at breakneck level throughout. It seemed that only the best could keep up, while others jumped on the bandwagon, frantically trying to secure a place in the race for the best eCommerce store.

I look back on the predictions and trends of 2016 in eCommerce, and in my next article I’ll share some of my own predictions for 2017.

Multichannel Retailing

We’ve known, for half a decade, about the importance of multichannel retailing. As consumers we love to combine our personal and professional lives and this extends to shopping. It was clear that those stores who offered multichannel options in 2016 were the ones to enjoy big profits. This is because we love to start our shopping with the mail, we then continue on to mobile, before completing the transaction on a PC at work. We now want to shop at any time, anywhere, and only multichannel retailing can feed this hunger.

Intelligent Delivery Options

Amazon are always the one to look to, the benchmark to aim for, the leader to follow and 2016 was no different. Many tried to emulate the Prime Membership, with grocery stores offering a one off fee for all deliveries. Delivery spots opened up and lockers became popular, while the same day delivery service entered the arena and claimed its spot as the must have feature for any discerning eCommerce owner.

It became clear that consumers would pay if it meant they could receive their item quicker, while show-rooming put many bricks and mortar stores out of business as shoppers would browse while ordering items using Amazon prime, leaving the store empty handed.

Pricing Trends

Another sneaky but genius tool for making a profit also derived from Amazon. It became clear that Amazon prices fluctuate depending on the trend and demand. Many eCommerce stores found, through PPC and AdWords, that this real time marketing and pricing strategy had a great impact on sales

Millennial Marketing

The millennial customer was on the minds of every business owner in 2016 as these babies became adults and more importantly, paying customers. The millennials are those born into a world where the internet already existed. They don’t understand the world without eCommerce and so their demands are much higher.

To appeal to the millennial market an eCommerce store must be faster, stronger, hipper and cooler than the rest. Did you manage it? With the millennials came introductions to new technologies that will form a huge part of 2017 such as Beacon Technology.

Beacon Technology

Beacons made it impossible for any shopper to avoid special offers, whether walking around Weybridge, with the likes of BrandStreet or shopping in Covent Garden. Push notifications paled in significance compared to the sophisticated, almost personal nature of beacon notifications, and beacon stickers made it easy for retailers to showcase products in real time.

Find out more about iBeacons on this video…

The Internet of Things

The internet of things (IoT) became a “thing” in 2016. For years, people like me have been waiting with bated breath for this to kick off and become the norm. In 2016 this happened. We expected our TVs to stream live movies, we even expected our kettles to boil with the help of an APP, and some of us even expected the kettle at our grans to tell us when she’d woken up.  Of course, there’s much more to explore and much more room for growth in the world of The Internet of Things, and I, for one, am excited about what the future brings.

The Cloud

The cloud, like the universe, is a never ending space that can seemingly handle almost anything. The cloud made much more possible for ecommerce owners in 2016, from the accounts to order tracking, to gathering data and reselling.  B2C eCommerce obviously grew significantly in 2016 but B2B saw unprecedented growth with the cloud facilitating most.

 

Other introductions included the Google Assistant and Virtual Reality, see how I think these will shape eCommerce in 2017 below:

My eCommerce Predictions for 2017

September – Top 5 Ecommerce News Stories

The top five stories that stood out this month in the world of ecommerce and where you can find out more about these headlines.

August & September were very busy times in the world of eCommerce media as many technology changes were afoot along with adaptations to mobile algorithms by Google, that have sent many online retailers and digital marketers into spin.

We’ve collected the top five stories over the last couple of weeks to give you a look at what has been happening in eCommerce news:

1. Linnworks introduce new price plans to include 24/7 support
http://tamebay.com/2016/09/linnworks-introduce-new-price-plans-to-include-247-support.html

Linnworks say they have listened to consumer demand and worked hard to simplify the pricing structure for customers. Now, only 3 plans are available, Free, Professional and Corporate making it easy to identify the right one for your business. However, there has been a backlash from many of it’s existing customers who have been forced onto higher price bands.

Linnworks are to change their price plans from Tuesday 13th September, although existing customers will have up until January 16th 2017, before they are required to move over to the new pricing plans. Linnworks tell us that their analysis means around 35%-40% of their customers will see a price decrease. The flip side is that others will see no change or an actual increase in the fees that they pay.

However, this has not been echoed by the comments of many customers responding to the article.

 

2. Amazon Fresh expands to 190 new postcodes
http://tamebay.com/2016/09/amazon-fresh-expands-to-190-new-postcodes.html

Amazon Fresh is growing rapidly, just as we would expect. Amazon never roll out a new service lightly and usually assess the market, along with their own capabilities before investing a lot of money into a venture. Many UK shoppers have enjoyed buying household essentials in bulk such as washing powder and kitchen roll for years on Amazon but now, the Amazon Fresh is making all types of groceries easily accessible and with Amazon’s incredible delivery reputation, it makes sense that they’d corner this market easily.

Since Amazon Fresh launched in June this year it has already doubled its delivery areas. And now it will be expanding into south and south west London into 190 new postcodes including Brixton, Leatherhead, Richmond and Croydon. The Amazon Fresh service is Amazon’s grocery division available to Amazon prime members.
Ajay Kavan, Vice President of AmazonFresh says: “We’ve been delighted with the positive response we’ve had from customers across London with our convenient delivery options, vast selection and low prices regularly cited as reasons for using AmazonFresh. We are excited about bringing the service to even more Prime Members in more parts of London and look forward to hearing their feedback as we continue to further improve AmazonFresh as we rollout to new areas.”

Amazon have said they intend to take two per cent of the groceries market in the UK.

 

3. Google Shares Tips for Mobile eCommerce
http://searchengineland.com/google-shares-tips-using-amp-ecommerce-257291

It’s not breaking news as such but it is essential for all eRetailers as Google have shared the tips we need to build out on eCommerce pages and to use AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) effectively.The faster a page, the higher the online conversions and so this development could be a game changer for those who enjoy the majority of sales through mobile.

Google said, “AMP is a natural fit for e-commerce because AMP makes webpages fast, and fast pages help with purchase conversions.”
Google provided examples of how to build out your e-commerce site using AMP. That means from the home page all the way down to the purchase phase, which technically will take the user off AMP and onto HTML or Progressive Web App (PWA), which would offer a better user experience for the user.

 

4. Google Punishes Pop Up Pundits
http://www.practicalecommerce.com/articles/126976-SEO-Google’s-Mobile-Update-to-Impact-Interstitials-Pop-ups

Another from Google that needs to be noticed in order to keep eCommerce ticking over organically. Of course, PPC will eliminate the problems you have with reaching the top of the search engines but it’s expensive and not as profitable as a good organic ranking.

Keeping abreast of planned changes ensures your company is never penalised for SEO practice by Google, while giving you ample opportunitiy to make changes before the algorithm is rolled out.

This change, again, focuses on mobile search which highlights just how much Google are investing into mobile shopping online. Mobile purchases have just overtaken those on a PC and so it is worth not only optimising your website but the whole mobile consumer journey. Our advice, say no to pop ups and please don’t overdo the advertising. There’s little worse than opening a website on a mobile to be faced with a screen full of a BMW and no obvious way to remove the ad. It’s good that Google are now recognising how frustrating for the consumer this is, but you must make sure you follow the guidelines too in order to keep your organic rankings in tact.

The update planned for January 2017 is being positioned as part two of Google’s “mobile-friendly update,” dubbed “Mobilegeddon” by the search community, that made waves in the spring of 2015. Part two targets intrusive interstitials that make it difficult for users to access the content they expect to see.

 

5. Google Punishes Pop Up Pundits
http://ecommercenews.eu/ecommerce-uk-highest-growth-since-november-2014/

Ending on a high note, this new delighted us! It really doesn’t need any explaining but if you’d like more information here it is:

Online retail sales in the United Kingdom increased by 18.7 percent in July, compared to the same period last year. That’s the strongest performance since November 2014. The month-on-month performance of the British ecommerce industry remained flat from the previous month, the growth decreased by 0.4 percent.

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