In 2016E-marketer released a study stating that ecommerce is expected to grow by double digits every year until 2020, with expected sales set to go past four trillion dollars.
1. Massive Rise in Mobile Checkout and Payment Systems
2. Using Augmented Reality to Boost Sales
3. AI is Becoming Mainstream
4. Storefront Apps are Popping Up Everywhere
5. Speedier Shipping has Arrived
6. Research Online, Purchase Offline (ROPO)
7. Ecommerce through Voice Searches
The amount of smart devices continues to rise, as does the amount of sales through these internet enabled devices.
There have been significant changes and new technologies in the area of mobile payment in the last three years. We now have at least ten different options to pay for products and services online. One of the newest isGoogle Pay (a recent merger of Android Pay and Google Wallet) and of course the one that’s been receiving most media attention lately, Bitcoin.
We are inevitably shifting further and further from physical cash and moving towards full digital currencies. Because of this we will no doubt notice an increase in mobile payment systems in 2018 and onwards. Even with such rapid growth and success in the industry,a study completed this January by the University of East Anglia (In the UK), has shown that 46% of all ecommerce sales in 2016 were made through mobile devices. However conversion rates are still falling behind sales from desktop computers because people in general are still not completely convinced about the legitimacy and security of online stores. This is something businesses need to keep in mind, re assuring customers that their site is legitimate and their money will be processed in a very secure way.
There are also new types of smart devices coming from all directions lately, and that is set to continue this year, they call is the Internet of Things (IoT). These are objects like fridges, suitcases, coffee machines, and toys that are connected to the internet. Companies appear to be racing to design ‘smart’ versions of as many things as possible, some of which border on the absurd, such as smart mirrors, sandals and even condoms. You can see some of these weird/wonderful smart (or not so)devices here. It is possible that these smart objects will one day be used as point of sale systems too. You might wake up and go to the fridge to get a drink of cold water or orange juice and be bombarded with ads on the door, or voice ads asking if you wouldn’t rather have something else. Your choice can then be delivered within fifteen minutes if you say yes now.
In the past Augmented Reality has existed primarily in phone games and photo filters. But since last year the uses for it have started really branching out into the sphere of marketing. This year we expect to see AR moving ahead in leaps and strides and being incorporated in more mainstream ways.
Near the end of 2017 IKEA put out a brilliant example of the use of AR for marketing, when they released theirIKEA Place app. The app shows users what pieces of furniture would look like in their houses. This kind of technology could be used for a wide range of things, like trying on clothes or sunglasses, and testing paint or wallpaper schemes to see what looks best on your walls.
Amazon now offers something similar, but went one step further with it’sAR View app. Customers can see a range of different products in augmented reality, like seeing a toaster match your kitchen’s colour scheme, or a vase looking good in your window etc.
We are already seeing some big companies compete in AR ecommerce, and this will no doubt increase as the year goes on.
The demand for AI applications is rising all the time, we anticipate seeing more competition and creativity with AI in marketing throughout 2018.Machine learning technologies are becoming more and more used, in different ways in the marketing industry.
We can see AI being used now within ecommerce for things such as improving searches, recommending products to customers, personalising emails, and of coursechatbots which have received a lot of interest lately and are worth looking into. They enable you to create a personalised experience, without the person. Here are a couple of examples of chatbots in action:
Chatbots allow you to show customers offers, suggest products you think they might like, respond to questions, and even buy products and book services. Facebook currently offers sellars chatbot tools so that the AI can have conversations with their clients for them, they have recently added the option toprocess payments right from within the chat now too, without sellers having to do a thing except ship the goods. Chatbots will only get better, and we are excited to see how they develop in 2018.
As the focus shifts from desktop to mobile, customers will shift with it. There have been shopping apps around for years, however this year we will see more growth, and even small businesses getting on board with mobile shopping apps, as the market expands. Now is the time to take advantage and convert your ecommerce site into an app shop. Big companies like AliExpress, TradeMe and Wish are reaping the benefits of having simple to use, attractive, dynamic mobile stores. Customers can browse and buy from their phone on their lunch break, on the toilet, while waiting for a train, or from the comfort of their couch at home.
Poq Commerce has conducted arecent study which shows that storefront apps, as opposed to just mobile sites, have around 40% higher conversion rates. So investing in a storefront app is likely to return great results. As well as sales being higher for storefront apps, the study also revealed that storefront apps have higher order value and dwell time in general, than mobile versions of sites. Any business big or small, local or international, can benefit from creating a storefront app, and we will definitely see more doing so this year.
One of the last differentiators between ecommerce businesses selling the same or similar items, is the speed at which they can deliver products to your door. At the moment the alpha wolf of the ecommerce pack is Amazon. While AliExpress is able to offer free shipping in 4-6 weeks, Amazon Prime can do free 1-2day deliveries, that’s seriously impressive. In 2017 alone they shipped over five billion products around the world, with 1-2day shipping. They also hold the record for the fastest ever shipping, as shown in the image below.
In 2018 we will see other companies try to compete with that level of speed. The delivery speed of your products could easily be the difference between someone buying a product from your shop or someone elses who can post it faster, people want things as soon as possible. Another interesting development in post comes from Mercedez Benz, who are trialingdriverless freight at the moment, which could have an impact on shipping times and costs this year as well.
ROPO is on the rise this year. This has been a common trend for years but is set to increase in 2018. Consumers often prefer to find the best deals, comparing prices online and then go in store to purchase them to have more financial security and get the product straight away.
ROPO is beneficial for both customers (who find the best prices and are able to learn more about products before deciding to buy them) and for businesses (who’s online marketing efforts convert to in store sales).
Absolunet hasdiscovered that 82% of purchasers research local businesses on their mobile device, with 18% of those searches resulting in them making a purchase the same day. Marketers can use techniques like geological tracking, point of sale systems and social integration, to gain comprehensive buyer profiles of customers doing online research before buying in store. From these profiles they can discover what strategies are most effective in their online advertising and content creation, particularly at bringing in offline sales, and also targetting specific or personalised advertising towards certain people based on what has impacted them in the past. Matalan, a UK clothing company, researched their own brand and found out that each pound spent on Adwords increased their revenue by 46 pounds, and 31 pounds of that was money spent in their physical stores. Online advertising and information, does genuinely impact on peole’s in store choices, and their decisions about which store to go to for the products they want as well.
Voice search is booming, Google is focussing more on it, and devices like Echo by Amazon, Google Home, and apps like SIRI are being bought and used significantly more than in previous years. In fact they are doing so well that according to Walker Sands almost 1 in 4 consumers (24%) now own a voice controlledinternet capable appliance, and on top of that 20% of those surveyed who didn’t yet own one plan to buy one in the next 12 months.
These smart devices are used to complete purchases more as well. The same study also stated that 19% used their devices to complete a purchase, and 33% had plans to make a purchase using it this year too. It is now a large market that we wouldn’t want to miss out on.
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