In 2015, ecommerce in the United Kingdom was worth a whopping £133 billion, with economists predicting an increase of 11%. The rate of growth surpassed this prediction, as 2016 saw an increase in ecommerce of 16% across the year - and intellectuals predict a further 14% increase for 2017.
Whilst it appears that we might be wrong about the rate of growth within the ecommerce industry, we can definitely be sure that ecommerce is here to stay, whether we like it or not.
Ecommerce has reshaped the entire buying process for the consumer - right from enticing the consumer to visit a retail website, to building customer loyalty after a transaction has been made.
We are now inundated with paid advertisements that track our online behaviours, barraged with coupons, discount codes and referral incentives. It's necessary now more than ever, for ecommerce retailers to fight for their space online by remodelling their business platforms according to industry trends.
For example, if companies refused to offer next day delivery, it is inevitable that larger retailers such as Amazon would have snapped up their existing consumer base.
It is safe to say that Amazon has continued to disrupt the consumer industry even more through its Prime Membership package and its recent acquisition of Whole Foods. Consumers are now able to purchase the entire contents of their kitchen cupboards and
This all seems very impressive - but also quite intimidating for up and coming online retailers who must find ways in which to keep up with these retail giants.
Here is a list of ecommerce trends to look out for, and some ways in which to implement them in cost-effective ways:
Visual Search Tools
In 2015, Pinterest released a search tool that allows consumers to search through their platform via images opposed to words. Users can zoom into an object in an image and then search the site for it. Pinterest will offer similar looking items and places where the consumer can purchase the good.
If a user wanted to find a particular chair they saw in an image, Pinterest will offer similar items based on image recognition technology.
A large void in the retail market is making it easy for customers to find the exact item they want - whilst consumers might know what they want, there is trouble in actually finding it.
Therefore, we will definitely see the optimisation of search capabilities, as online retailers will seek to improve the search process for consumers. Instead of trying to guess keywords to find a product, image recognition will speed this process up.
Predicting Customer Behaviour
Many businesses are exploiting the capabilities of retargeting ads on social media platforms. For example, if a customer leaves an empty basket on an online retail website, advertisements for the exact item will appear on the consumer's Instagram or Facebook feeds.
Furthermore, brands such as Amazon suggest items that others have bought based on the product you have placed in your basket. For example, if you were purchasing toothpaste on Amazon, the site will suggest other toiletries such as floss, toothbrushes and mouthwash.
Many businesses are seeking to provide around the clock support through implementing chatbots. Chatbots are especially helpful as they are able to mine through existing data to provide the most efficient shopping experience as possible.
Virtual assistants will be able to store purchase history, receipts, product recommendations and store promotions.
This technology has already played a big part of the ecommerce industry - with predicted growth of up to $58.6 billion by 2020. Companies have created impressive applications that
This has also been a hit for the beauty industries, with technology allowing consumers to test different
Consumers will soon be able to visit virtual stores where they can browse and purchase products. These applications are impressive as the online store is able to store useful amounts of data that can help the consumer make the decision on products to purchase.
Instead of manually calculating their prices, online retailers are investing in pricing software which analyses previous sales history, as well as the prices of competitors, to give accurate and optimal price recommendations.
Amazon is known for using pricing to its limits through its dynamic pricing models. In fact, the company is known to change over 2.5 million prices per day. This way, Amazon is optimising the amount of profit it makes through strong and effective pricing strategies.
How can you keep up?
- Track Customer Behaviour: Where are customers spending most of their time? When do they lose their interest? Use this information to think of ways in which to keep them on your site and make a purchase. Perhaps they leave the site due to a long check-out process? Think of ways to ease this process and see if this improves. If not, go back and try again.
- Install a Chatbot: This sounds like complicated technology, but there are many online services that allow you to create basic chatbots that can help you provide a customer with constant service and support.
- Focus on Pricing: Invest on pricing software that will give you optimised prices for every product. By automatically updating your prices, you can ensure for example, that you're always 50p below your competitor, or earning as much as possible from a customer's spend.
- Search Tools: Try and ease the search process for the customer. Have a user-friendly website that has the capability to recommend similar products.
Alsothink about sending personalised emails to customers based on their information such as their demographics or average spend in your store.
- Be Brave: Ecommerce is incredibly competitive. But this should not be a reason to scare you away. Be brave and bold in your business decisions, and be sure to keep up with the ecommerce industry in every way you can.
What trends will you follow?
So it's clear - ecommerce is here to stay. But how will you make sure your online business is also here to stay?