The emergence of e-commerce has already revolutionized the B2C landscape. It has left the retailers with no choice but to restructure their existing business model. Consumer- goods industries such as grocery, apparel and personal care are being steadily moving towards the online mode of selling.
Retail firms focusing on the youth have turned to the online method of selling to keep pace with the evolving buying habits of their next gen customers. The benefit of saving on huge inventory and being able to optimize their investment based on the current market demands has also attracted the businesses towards e-commerce. Even though e-commerce might be a disruption for them, retailers have already started appreciating its advantages and now perceive it as an opportunity.
On the other hand, the rapidly growing global fixation towards Smartphone has also changed dynamics of online selling. The mobile commerce, earlier considered as the sub domain of e-commerce, has now become synonymous with it. The mobile mania has turned into a worldwide trend and has become an important area of interest for the global retail industry. As the mobile commerce market is expected to become a significant aspect of the selling process in few years, the year 2018 will see many businesses focusing on the portable and online domains.
Let’s check out the major changes that we could see in the e-commerce arena by 2018:
Multi-Device and Cross-platform Experience
The diverse nature of the future browsing devices would need a new strategy wherein sellers could target their customers across the platforms with various form factors. Serious e-commerce players are expected to make their portals adaptable to all screen sizes, resolutions and operating systems, and make them accessible to all types of desktops, laptops, mobiles, and smartphones.
A majority of customers are already changing their purchasing methods and focusing extensively on online research before buying. The trend is bound to get more prevalent by 2018. Moreover, they would do the research on their mobile phones, compare prices and best deals while finally completing the shopping transaction on their laptops or desktops. The practice would become more of a norm for people who are short of time and are always on the move. To cater to these evolving consumer needs most brands would try and make it as seamless as possible for the customers and ensure they have a hassle-free shopping experience.
Maximal Social Media Integration
Social media explosion has been one of the hallmarks of the Internet ever since the rise of the search engines. Social networking channels are the new hangouts of the millennials, and for most of the retail firms, they present a lucrative demographic. Even social sites have taken cognizance of this and have incorporated buying features that ensure the users don’t have to step out of these portals for online shopping. The emerging trend is set to gain huge traction by 2018, and we could see many more brands jump on the social commerce bandwagon.
By integrating e-commerce websites with social media, retailers of all sizes can earn rich dividends. Social channels would turn into the ideal platform to market and grab the attention of the target audience. Also, they could serve as a useful platform to engage with the core customer group and stimulate brand loyalty among them. Redressal of grievances on social media would also become much more common, which could only improve the brand’s image in the e-commerce field.
Absorption of Big Data and Analytics
E-commerce firms will start relying heavily on Big data to make sense of all that petabytes of data generated each day. Applying cognitive computational formulae and advanced analytics Data scientists could come up with insights that pay huge dividends. Integrating real-time data with information on past engagement and buying history, would become paramount when it comes to data-driven initiatives such as providing a personalized experience.
Real-time analytics could play a bigger role in 2018 where customers receive product recommendations depending on what they are doing at the moment. Customers could get used to these quick suggestions, which would assist buying decision with a high probability of converting the particular activity into sales.
Exceptional User Experience
Already, ‘User-friendliness’ ranks high on e-commerce customer’s wish list. Be it customized landing pages, easily accessible relevant links, product information, shopping carts, experts around the globe are relentlessly working to improve each of them. Ecommerce sites of the future would leave no stone unturned to give customers a stellar experience. These features could become highly imperative in creating instant customer delight.
The landing page would move towards much more cleaner and clutter-free design, and there would be an enormous focus on the colors, theme and text fonts. The navigability could go through huge improvements as well, with dynamic sitemaps guiding the users.
Simplified Buying Decision
Customers today are spoilt for choice, is an understatement, but the trend may change, as brands could start focusing on niche markets. However, e-commerce sites would focus on helping the users out to make the right decisions. Having the right content could be critical to this initiative. The future content could be more personalized and could span beyond an interesting video, amusing images or just plain text that is informative and educational. These futuristic aspects would help customers to stay on the websites for longer and to begin trusting you with the upshot of making a sales decision.
Convergence of Online & Offline Experiences
The retailers of tomorrow would like to cast in a holistic approach to let the consumers seamlessly move between the online and offline worlds. Already, many brands are experimenting with different ways to let customers find their way through a physical store and lead them to what they want using beacons and NFCs (Near Field Communication). This works by taking the cue based on what they search in the e-commerce site’s search engine and guiding them likewise in the physical store.
Also, they can be kept updated about the latest offers, trends, new arrivals and discounts on their smartphones depending on what section of the shop they visit, all done in real-time. All this ensures the customer is never lost to a competing business since whatever mode the customer wishes to complete, the brand is always ready to make the sale. There is a lot of potential in ensuring there is continuity when a customer does the switching from one mode to the other, and we could see huge strides in this field by 2018.