5 minute read
Now that the holidays have come to an end and retailers have had time to reflect on the past year, most will recognize that ecommerce had another great year. Retailers need to be ready to start the new year off with a bang since it’s clear that the growth of ecommerce isn’t going to stop.
However, what was trendy one year can be old news in no time at all. The retail landscape is never static and always adapts to new shopping trends and shopper preferences. That’s why it’s important for retailers to keep up with the latest shopping trends.
Curious what ecommerce will be like in 2017? Here are some interesting retail predications to help you prepare for the year to come.
Thanksgiving weekend’s impressive mobile growth wasn’t a one off event, rather another indication that mobile commerce is gaining momentum. That’s because smartphones aren’t just for communication anymore, they’re now multi-use devices that can compete with shopping on a desktop. People use them to compare prices, gain insights, and even pay for products. Each year, more people are using their mobile devices to shop because more retailers are optimizing their mobile sites.
Walmart, Amazon, Target, and Starbucks are just a few of the many businesses that have invested heavily in their mobile experience. These retailers aren’t improving their mobile experiences hoping people will adopt them – they’re refining them because there is demand. For instance, on Thanksgiving, Walmart found that over 70% of their online traffic came from mobile, while Target saw mobile account for 60% of their online sales. Shoppers love options and retailers need to be ready to meet their mobile demands to maximize their potential.
More companies are expected to invest in Artificial Intelligence (AI) to push their shopping experience to a new level. Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google’s Assistant are just a few of the AI available that let tasks be completed by simply speaking to a machine. Customers don’t want to spend too much time shopping, and it’s hard to think of an easier or faster way to shop than by simply speaking.
However, many retailers may still wonder: are shoppers really looking for AI shopping assistance? Yes, they are. Last holiday season gave a glimpse into the potential of AI after Amazon reported their Echo and Echo Dot were their top selling items. AI is developing rapidly and will soon be more commonly used to help customers find products easier, and further improve the overall shopping experience.
AI isn’t just limited to voice commands – it can also be used to power chatbots on websites and social media platforms. Facebook, WhatsApp, and Slack now use chatbots to help people shop, browse, pay, and gain insights into almost anything. This past April, Facebook announced that they now have 30,000 bots and more external developers to expand their chatbot capabilities. It wasn’t long until the benefits for chatbots were seen.
After just two months, 1-800 Flowers reported that 70% of their chatbot orders came from new shoppers and had they not expanded to include AI, they most likely wouldn’t have won over those extra customers. AI is another channel that gives customers control over the experience and can increase retailers’ sales potential.
More shoppers are using multiple channels to complete a purchase, making more retailers opt for omnichannel strategies. Not everyone wants to shop the same way every time. One day, a shopper may want to browse products on their smartphone and purchase on their home computer. And the next day they may want to go into a store to try on clothes before they order them online. The specific experiences offered on each channel are different. Shopping online is convenient and easy, while in-store is interactive and instantaneous.
If you’re an online retailer and focus all your attention on one channel experience, you may want to join the crowd that’s expanding their sales channels to include mobile, desktop, and physical stores. Amazon is the biggest online retailer, but are no longer online-only having recently opened several physical stores. Although the majority of their sales still come from online, they recognized that to adhere to every type of customer they needed to offer a variety of experiences. This year, more online-only retailers will employ creative omnichannel strategies to create an effective shopping experience for everyone.
Waiting one week for products doesn’t cut it for online shoppers anymore. When shoppers buy something they want it as soon as possible. It is predicted that this year there will be more same day deliveries and more express deliveries as retailers attempt to meet shoppers’ growing demand for faster shipping. Although not all retailers offer same-day shipping, almost two-thirds of shoppers are willing to pay more for it.
Once again, Amazon has been setting the pace for retailers since they have increased their available same-day delivery locations and have invested in more sorting centres and distribution stations around the globe. Instant gratification is one area that separates physical retailers from their online counterparts, and as more retailers offer the ability to get products faster, you’ll see more people move online.
Looking forward into 2017
Trends and predictions are great resources to help retailers plan their future strategies. But before you invest more in omnichannel or fulfillment, ensure it is the right fit for your business. Just because it works for one retailer, doesn’t mean it will work for you.
To maximize sales potential and growth, retailers should stay up to date with the latest trends because they reflect what customers currently want. The goal of every retailer is to meet or exceed customer expectations and trends are a great place to start.