A lot happened in the ecommerce industry last year--mobile continued to dominate traffic and sales, Instagram became a go-to for product discovery, Amazon continues to set the bar for rapid shipping with drones and Lockers, to name a few. This year is sure to be just as interesting and exciting as technology, devices and platforms continued to grow more sophisticated and integrated. Here are seven things to look forward to in 2017 for ecommerce merchants.
1. Thinking Outside the Mobile Case
You must know by now that mobile traffic and sales have overtaken desktop. It happened during Black Friday/Cyber Monday in 2015, and continued throughout 2016. But it’s not just about “mobile users” or “desktop users” or “tablet users” or “[insert device] users.” Because they’re all the same users.
An individual may see a Hulu ad watching from their smart TV, research the product from their phone while sitting on the couch, then pick up their laptop from the coffee table to complete the purchase. Or any number of steps using any number of devices in any timeframe. In 2017, businesses will better understand this journey and create cross-channel and cross-device experiences to reach and engage these digital users.
All the Devices
2. [Even] More Subscription Based Businesses
Dollar Shave Club can be credited with starting the subscription-based trend (or at least bringing it to the forefront) and tons of businesses across numerous verticals followed suit--Blue Apron and the innumerable copycats, Amazon Subscriptions, Graze, Barkbox, Birchbox, GrandBox, NatureBox, MemeBox, GlossyBox (so many boxes!), Stitch Fix, Club W and the list goes on and on.
In 2017, we’ll see more subscription-based businesses as consumers seek and come to expect convenience and immediacy. What I can’t be sure of is more creativity with brand names. Expect a lot more boxes.
Basket > Box. Image Source: Sun Basket
3. Chatbots Will Begin to Own Customer Communication
Last year, we learned that consumers have no problems talking to a machine. The rise of chatbots has allowed consumers to find what they need quicker and allowed businesses to increase efficiencies and cut costs. Facebook has invested heavily in chatbots within Messenger.
In 2017, we’ll see even more companies using chatbots in more sophisticated ways to drive purchases and improve customer support and communication.
Zuckerberg announcing Facebook Messenger chatbots at this year’s F8 conference. Image Source: TechCrunch
4. Digital Assistants Will Play A Bigger Role in the Customer Journey
Amazon Alexa and Echo, Google Assistant and Home, Microsoft Cortana and Yet-To-Be-Named-Home Speaker--these digital assistants and their corresponding home speaker devices made a splash in 2016.
In the new year, we’ll see more user adoption of these items. It’s still unclear how or if they will become direct purchases drives for all businesses (Echo is only for Amazon products, Home only pulls up the top, often-informational search result and we don’t have many details on Microsoft’s product yet), but it’s obvious how they can play a role in the interest and research phases.
Ecommerce businesses should keep a close eye on digital assistants and home speakers in 2017 to ensure they’re considering these steps and being first to capture this consumer attention. Get started by reading our blog “What Does Google Home Mean for SEO?”
Google Home and Amazon Echo. Image Source: PCMag
5. Consumers Will Shop From Images and Videos
Shoppable images and videos have been around for years, but I believe it will become commonplace in 2017, and all because of Instagram’s shoppable photo tags.
Announced just two months ago and limited to a small test of major US retailers, Shoppable Tags have the potential to change the way consumers and businesses use Instagram. The social network is already a major driver of product sales--it has the second highest AOV of any social network, according to Shopify. Shoppable Photo Tags will make is easier for consumers to purchase directly from photos. And when this takes off, you can be sure other social networks and tools will follow suite.
6. Same Day Delivery Will Become the New Normal
Amazon made its first drone delivery in the UK early last month. While we don’t expect drones to be buzzing around the skies for every retailer in 2017, we do anticipate an influx in same-day or at least, more rapid delivery of goods. Amazon is again leading the charge here with Lockers, where consumers can pick up orders or placed returns for same-day shipping. We expect to see more of these “lockers” used by more retailers to, again, satisfy consumers’ demand for convenience and immediacy.
Amazon Lock inside a convenience store. Very convenient, indeed. Image Source: Business Insider
7. Social Selling Will Become More Than a Pipe Dream
Will 2017 finally be “The Year of Social Selling”? I don’t know and I don’t care for the label, frankly (I’m really not a millennial, I swear). All I know is that consumers use social media to learn about and research products, and more ecommerce businesses will get on board in the coming year. And the social networks and innumerable tools are making it easier for merchants to do so.
Integrations with ecommerce platforms like Shopify Plus, customer review services like Yotpo and shoppable Instagram photo galleries from folks like Evocative are all ways that merchants will be more efficiently using social media to sell products.
Tools like Evocative allow you to publish a shoppable gallery on your website from Instagram photos. Image Source: Evocative
We have a lot to look forward to this year for ecommerce and digital marketing. These seven trends are sure to stand out in the new year, and we encourage all merchants to focus their attention and resources in these areas.