Top 5 Ecommerce Trend Predictions for 2017
By Blueport Team Nov 15, 2016 7:00:39 PM
Ecommerce is constantly evolving. With shoppers demanding more when it comes to online shopping, we expect to see a few huge trends—like mobile commerce, user-generated content, delivery improvements, VR/AR and omnichannel experiences—to reshape the ecommerce world.
1. Mobile Engagement Will Take Off
Ecommerce-driven mobile revenue will increase by 50% in the year 20171 and act as a catalyst for new ways to do business in a more customer-focused age2. This means that mobile shopping will expand beyond just online shopping and become an activity that’s as much about the context as the device. When consumers shop in-store they will increasingly use their mobile phones to complement their experience. While they stand in the aisles of your store, shoppers will compare prices, take photos and research other products.
This is a different in-store experience for your customers and salespeople, but it’s also an opportunity. Shoppers are using their phones in your competitors’ stores as well as yours and, through smart digital marketing targeting and site optimization for organic search, you can get in front of these shoppers right before they make a purchase decision.
An infographic from Invespcro highlights the differences between mobile shopping in 2014 versus what to expect in 2017.
2. Customer Engagement and UGC are Expected
How you treat your customers is what will differentiate you in the ecommerce world. When companies are selling similar or the same products, the response time and the customer care is what shoppers are going to remember. Customers are depending more and more on social media to connect with brands, and being ignored by a brand can rub shoppers the wrong way. Facebook has even included a feature on their business pages that shows average response time, which immediately tells the shoppers whether the brand is trustworthy or not.
This experience has a direct impact on the health of your user-generated content (UGC). According to SocialAnnex, over 60% of shoppers seek out content like reviews, photos and FAQs before making a purchase. When consumers have a great experience, they are more likely to become brand advocates by posting photos and reviews on social networks. A bad experience posted to Yelp or Google+, however, can have a lasting impact. Brands have to be aware of what is being said about their products and interact with the customers to show them, and their followers, that your brand cares about their experience.
3. Delivery Improvements
With all the different shipping options out there (two-day, next-day, even two-hour) consumers are becoming less and less patient and expecting their deliveries to arrive faster.
Greg Brinkman, the Senior Vice President of supply chain at Mulberry, discussed the challenges that these expectations cause for furniture retailers: “Now there’s the expectation of having it tomorrow, and that puts pressure on the supply chain. And we’re dealing with service constraints like the size of the cube, the durability of furniture (in shipment).”
For furniture specifically, shipping larger items as quickly as consumers expect is becoming a large hurdle. The best thing furniture retailers can do is focus on having items in-stock and showing customers accurate times when they can pick up or expect delivery.
“The bottom line is certainly customers expect quick delivery and vast choice.” says Jackie Brook-Shire, Vice President of Thornton. “Everyone in retail has to recognize the changing paradigm. Our customers appreciate a large in-stock selection that can be picked up the same day or delivered, on average, within 48 hours.”
4. Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality are the Next Frontier
We’ve all heard it at this point, but virtual and augmented reality will become a huge part of ecommerce in the next couple of years. At the HFN Total Home Omnichannel Conference in Houston earlier this month, Pieter Aarts, CEO of Loft and Rooomy, predicted that within the next two years all smartphones will have built-in 3D cameras to allow shoppers to take pictures of their homes for augmented reality shopping experiences.
Aarts also showcased Rooomy’s augmented and virtual reality capabilities, highlighting how important it is to have high resolution, photo-realistic renderings. These realistic renderings help consumers envision the products in their homes, reducing the risk of purchasing online.
Even better, 3D images are well within the grasp of most furniture retailers. All you need are high-quality images and measurements to create 3D images of your furniture that can be used in AR and VR experiences.
5. Complete Omnichannel Experience: Offline to Online and Online to Offline
Consumers want to be able to shop a brand from their computer, tablet, phone and in-store, and have a seamless, consistent experience. While we are all familiar with the idea of brick-and-mortar stores expanding to have an online presence, a new phenomenon is happening: “clicks to bricks.” Traditionally pure-play brands are developing physical locations in order to create a well-rounded omnichannel experience. These locations aren’t necessarily “stores” but a location where shoppers can experience the brand, ask questions, and become familiar with products without being approached by salespeople.
West Elm, for example, is beginning to open boutique hotels. These hotels will be designed and completely furnished by West Elm. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, West Elm President, Jim Brett, doesn’t envision another 100 West Elm stores opening in an already over-saturated market. Rather than staying online and opening traditional stores, West Elm is beginning to create new customer experiences that give customers a complete omnichannel shopping experience.
The moral of the story: ecommerce is evolving because shoppers are evolving. These trends stem from customers’ expectations for fast, consistent, easy shopping experiences across all retail segments. Furniture retailers will need to keep pace in 2017 with these high ecommerce standards.