Sunday, December 15, 2013

3 Big 2014 Trends in eCommerce

The rise of eCommerce has been nothing short of spectacular over the last few years, and 2013 was no different. Yet 2013 is rapidly drawing to a close and as the world looks forward in anticipation to 2014, those in the online retail market will be keeping a close eye on eCommerce trends.

So what does 2014 hold in store for the eCommerce industry? Can online retailers expect more of the same, or is there perhaps a chance that the eCommerce bubble will finally burst? Let us find out by examining some of the expected trends for 2014.

The Social Revolution

No, not Facebook! Not Twitter either, but indeed an amalgamation of all online social networks. It has increasingly become the norm, and it will continue to do so come next year, for people to post, tweet, and upload information about where they went shopping, what they purchased, and what they could not purchase but really hope to soon. Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, and Youtube are all expected to have a major say in online retail in 2014.

In particular, the use of comment commerce - pioneered by eCommerce startup Soldsie - has proven to be wildly popular. The social commerce platform allows a business to easily sell on Facebook and/or Instagram; all they need to do is upload images of products for sale - users interested in making a purchase then need only to comment ‘Sold’ to complete the transaction. After the user leaves a comment, they will be sent an invoice to the email address that's tied to their Facebook account, allowing them to complete the sale at their own convenience and without having to leave Facebook which dramatically increases conversion rates.

Additionally, the use of comments can help increase business to consumer engagement as Facebook will show this activity to the customer’s friends like it would any other comment that user made. So for example, if a consumer leaves the comment "I can't wait to get my hands on this product... Sold!", the comment will be seen by their friends, who may in turn be influenced to make a purchase. If they make a purchase, once again they will leave a similar comment and that will spread to a new group of friends which can help a business' store go viral and increase their sales as opposed to just dropping a link that leads back to their webstore.  

Big Year, Big Data

2014 is widely expected to be the year of the big data. Online retailers have been accumulating big data for a while now, and it is predicted that the time to put it to good use has finally arrived. Business decisions will be made, or not made, according to this valuable data.

How will it help? Big Data is how successful companies are building more detailed models of consumer behavior.  Instead of relying on the traditional demographic models that marketers used when we were operating in a mass consumption environment and had nothing better, Big Data capitalizes on developing market trends to allow businesses to become far more specific when segmenting their customers.

Big data can also help attain a better perspective of the overall online marketplace, helping retailers understand it better. And that understanding offers the opportunity to engage with customers in new and better ways to ensure that prospects are converted to customers, and that those customers are wholly satisfied.

If It’s Not Mobile, It’s Not Worth It

The very world has gone mobile, and online retailers who do not compete on the mobile, simply do not compete at all. mCommerce grew significantly in 2013 and it will not slow down when the year turns into 2014. In fact, according to numbers reported by IBM, mobile shopping accounted for nearly 32% of eCommerce traffic over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, which is up 45% over 2012. Mobile transactions increased by almost 56 percent year-over-year.  It's in the best interests of businesses to create a seamless online shopping experience for users browsing via smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices.

The options available to consumers have increased manifold, as have their expectations regarding the products and services on offer. Come 2014, retailers who haven’t yet jumped onto eCommerce bandwagon will increasingly find it a necessity to do so, or they risk dooming their business to failure and to obscurity.