2016 has been an interesting year for ecommerce, with a continuing shift towards online shopping rather than visiting the high street, and increasing numbers of companies are turning to technology to aid their sales and appeal. Here are our top 5 ecommerce predictions for 2017.
At PCA Predict, we closely monitor ecommerce traffic and trends via our Ecommerce Trends page. We have already seen a significant increase in mobile usage when it comes to online shopping. It might seem like old news now as it’s been growing for some time, but it is continuing to rise, and Black Friday 2016 showed us that 42% of ecommerce transactions were via mobile; an increase of 26% on the previous year. This is set to continue into 2017 and beyond, and we anticipate that it will soon overtake desktop as the leading device used to make ecommerce purchases. Interestingly, Stuart McMillan, Head of Ecommerce at retailer Schuh, states that by December 2017, 70% of ecommerce traffic will be via mobile.
In 2017 we are likely to see an increase in the use and popularity of chatbots in ecommerce. We are seeing more of them for automating messages, and we predict that the use of bots will be used much more to communicate with potential customers to find out information such as preferences and prices they intend to spend. H&M are leading the way with the use of the chat app, Kik, to help customers find items that reflect their style. Despite the fact that they are machine, not human, chatbots can personalise the customer journey, minimise checkout friction and help retailers discover a lot more about their customers. Though the idea of bringing personalisation into ecommerce is not a new concept, it has proved difficult for many online retailers so far. However, chatbots could be a great way of bringing a personal element to the ecommerce realm.
Artificial Intelligence is beginning to take off as technology continues to improve, and we are sure to see more of it in the coming year. Think Siri, Alexa and Cortana. These have all become part of our daily lives and they are only the start of things to come. Growth in AI seems inevitable, and this is likely due to the fact that it is starting to bridge the gaps between the worlds of online and offline shopping. At the moment we are seeing AI slowly starting to find its position in the world of retail, e.g. Mona, a mobile shopping app powered by artificial intelligence and intended to help customers find what they are looking for. It gives online shopping more of a personalised feel, and this is exactly what online retailers are intending to do. We anticipate that technology will advance even further in the coming year and beyond to make customers’ lives easier.
Delivery is getting quicker and quicker, and customers are no longer prepared to wait around for a week for something that could be delivered the next day, or even the same day. Same day delivery is in demand and will likely be adopted by many more companies in 2017. Amazon have already set the ball rolling, with the possibility of same day evening delivery. It will be interesting to see how this develops and whether it will be successful or if some companies will encounter problems. Valid data will be an absolute must for this to work effectively.
Something that is making much more of an appearance in shops and online, and is bound to be huge in 2017, is Virtual Reality (VR). It is already proving to be a success for forward thinking companies such as door manufacturer Solidor, who use it to improve the shopping experience by allowing potential customers to see how a door would look on their property. Increasingly large numbers of shoppers use their mobile phone during a trip to the shops to help them make decisions, i.e. sending photos to friends. Now we are likely to see 3D cameras built into smartphones, enabling shoppers to picture how themselves and their homes could look before making a purchase. It is a great combination of technology and instore shopping.
Success in 2017 will hinge on retailers ability to offer a seamless and more unique customer journey. Forward-thinking retailers should invest in technology that can improve the online user experience and concentrate their efforts on responding to the needs of the multichannel consumer, integrating the offline and online worlds to provide a more personalised customer experience.
What are your predictions for ecommerce in 2017? Let us know.