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eCommerce Trends 2017: Predictions From 11 Industry Experts

By January 16, 2017eCommerce, Tips
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The start of a new year signifies change, new business opportunities, new tech gadgets, and new retail and eCommerce trends. Because of this, retailers must find a way to stay ahead of the competition.

To get some insight into what trends we should expect to see this year, we reached out to a number of eCommerce experts and asked them:

“What eCommerce trends can you expect for 2017?”

From personalization to social shopping and delivery speed, big things are expected for 2017.


Tracey Wallace – Editor of BigCommerce

Tracey Wallace eCommerce TrendsTwitter | LinkedIn | BigCommerce | Blog
I talk about this ad nauseam over on the BigCommerce Blog, but I believe it is so incredibly important to any business’s growth in 2017: omnichannel. Now, that’s just a fancy word for being where ever your customers are – i.e. first page of Google search (and Google Shopping), Amazon, eBay, Facebook (social + ads + shop), a brick-and-mortar, etc. Not every single channel will be right for every brand, but a lot of them will be.

We know consumers are shopping in micro-moments. They see an item they like (on Instagram or Facebook), they research it, they find other brands selling something similar, they compare prices, they read reviews and then they finally make a decision. They do these things on a variety of platforms, and they do them at their own convenience. If businesses want to win the sale in 2017, they will need to be where consumers make that final purchase – and that differs for every consumer. No customer journey is identical.
Amazon isn’t your foe. Google isn’t a secret code to crack. These are your most profitable marketing channels in 2017.


Craig Patterson – Founder of Retail Insider

Craig Patterson eCommerce TrendsRetail Insider | Twitter | LinkedIn
I suspect that we’ll see brick-and-mortar retailers expanding their online shopping options to better reach consumers, as well as to compete with companies like Hudson’s Bay Company which is not only offering exceptional e-commerce, but has opened an exceptional fulfillment centre in suburban Toronto (with more to follow). I’d expect new e-commerce sites for retailers currently not online, if only so that they can show consumers what’s in store (I go to Simons’ website, for example, to see what’s there before I go try it on in the actual store).

As well, existing e-commerce sites will be expanded in 2017, including Holt Renfrew which is finally upgrading its site, as well as the likes of Uniqlo and Saks Fifth Avenue, among others. Another interesting trend is pure-play e-commerce retailers opening physical stores. We’re seeing it here with the likes of Indochino, Clearly, Well.ca, Surmesur and a few others, not to mention international retailers like Warby Parker which is now opening physical stores, including in Canada. Retailers tell me that having both physical and online stores create expansive synergies that drive profits for both platforms.


Andrew Youderian – Founder of eCommerce Fuel

Andrew Youderian eCommerce TrendseCommerce Fuel | Twitter | LinkedIn
Independent brands with a uniquely designed product line and a compelling story have done well over the last few years. I only see this trend growing.  In a world where most products have become a mass-produced commodity and quality is often not a priority, companies that focus on providing exceptional goods with a personal, hand-crafted touch will thrive.

 


Chelsea Krost – CEO of Chelsea Productions

Chelsea Krost eCommerce TrendsTwitter | Blog | LinkedIn |Chelsea Krost
2017 is certainly going to be a year of digital evolution. I expect to see commerce trends tend to the, “Insta-Gratification” needs of millennial consumers and brand loyalists. I predict that we will see continuous innovation in digital payment options, delivery turnaround time, customization options, user mobile experience, and a focus on creating a social shopping experience.

 


 James Gurd – Owner of Digital Juggler

James Gurd eCommerce TrendsTwitter | LinkedIn | Digital Juggler
Marketing automation, using the available technology to deliver targeted marketing campaigns based on product lifecycles and user behaviour, will become more of a focus.

We’ll (hopefully!) see less broadcast emails and more personalised, relevant communication. This has been happening over the past few years but at a slow rate but now more people are getting switched on to techniques like order gap analysis and purchase cycle mapping (understanding which touch points align with different user types based on product interest).

Data driven decision-making is becoming more of a norm, although more effort is required to ensure the underlying data is accurate.


 Chad Rubin – Co-Founder & CEO of Skubana

Chad Rubin eCommerce TrendsLinkedIn | Skubana | Twitter
If you can’t beat em, join them. Pure-play online store owners will evolve off their own shopping cart onto new marketplaces.

Amazon is a VERY powerful force and online brands will recognize Amazon’s third-party seller marketplace opportunity as an even larger place to extend their reach and leverage it to their advantage. These sophisticated merchants will take the assets they have and deploy them on many new sales channels such as Walmart’s marketplace, Jet.com, Wayfair, Overstock, etc.

Sellers are looking to beat the e-commerce growth rate average of 15% and to do that, will need new angles to grow. Marketplaces will be essential to creating a sustainable and diversified business for 2017 and the future.


 Matt Thorpe – Owner of Grasshopper Web Consulting

 Matt Thorpe eCommerce TrendsLinkedIn | Twitter | Grasshopper
Personalization, Delivery Speed and Customer Service will be key in 2017. Personalized products are a key differentiator, especially for smaller brands because they are more agile than the larger players. This is what will give them the edge.

Super-fast delivery will also be expected as will around-the-clock Customer Service led by the likes of Amazon. As Jeff Bezos says, focus on the customer is everything. Give them what they want and they will reward you with their business.

Supreme customer service and the ability to interact on a personal level is another advantage the smaller players have. By letting your customers know you care you will be able to gain a distinct competitive advantage and create loyalty for your brand.

Of course, having a mobile-friendly (not just responsive) website is a vital above everything. Many businesses still don’t have this.


Sarah Lewis – Head of Partner Marketing, Volusion

Sarah Lewis eCommerce TrendsLinkedIn | Volusion | TwitterCustomers are inundated with rapidly-moving tech options in the world of eCommerce. But time and time again we’ve proven that incredible customer service never goes out of style.

The human element of any software service is becoming increasingly more valuable; a trend we’ve noticed while servicing our 40,000 customers. By being experts in eCommerce, we help them be experts in their own companies.

Customers want added value products and upgrades in all software verticals. Our packages have and always will be robust eCommerce products, with a ton of add-ons. We provide more for less — all while maintaining the always-important element of great customer service.


Nicole Leinbach Reyhle – Founder of Retail Minded

 Nicole Leinbach Reyhle eCommerce TrendsLinkedIn | Twitter | Retail Minded
The buyer journey is constantly evolving – and as a result, brands need to keep up. I believe that social media and live stream videos will both begin to direct consumers to purchasing options much faster and much more efficiently than they have in the past, with immediate buy buttons available for customers to click and quicker, more efficient navigation between digital and commerce in general.

While both of these tools have had success in past years, neither have reached their peak. Buy button efficiently integrated into social media and videos is something I think we will see more of in 2017… and beyond.


Catalin Zorzini – Owner, Ecommerce Platforms

atalin Zorzini eCommerce Trends

LinkedIn | Twitter | Ecommerce Platforms
Subscriptions will dominate from Birchbox to Blue Apron, we’re seeing a drastic influx in subscription services. You should expect to see more of these companies come out of the woodwork, especially considering that these days is so easy to find an eCommerce website builder with multiple subscriptions options.

Asia Becomes More and More Prevalent
Most dropshipping you see online is done with Asian manufacturers. Although Americans are clamoring for more jobs in the US, they still seem change their minds when they see low prices. Asia is the only place that can produce such low prices, so it’s not going away.

Social Networks Will Open Up More For Selling
We’ve seen social selling expand on places like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and other social networks. Companies are making big money with these new outlets, so expect to see more features from the networks.

We Might Start Seeing Chatbots
Some large companies are testing Chatbots for customer support. Facebook even has a Chatbot that connects customers with robots that talk to them about products.

Real-time Analytics Will Be Expected
Some eCommerce tools have real-time analytics already. We see this becoming the norm. It’s similar to free shipping, where only a select few merchants were able to do it. Now we see it everywhere.

Shoppable Media
Instagram began integrating shoppable media tags for users to click through on images and buy the items they like in there. Pair that with top notch landing page software and it’s not crazy to think that more platforms will introduce this for images and videos.


Hendrik Laubscher – Head of Product & Content, Price Check

Hendrik Laubscher eCommerce TrendsTwitter | Linkedin | Blog |
1. Voice based commerce is a hot industry that will become more universal as Alexa continues to lead the pack.

2. Plenty of investment into the last mile. Logistics startups, shipping location services and booking services will become acquisition / investment targets for the large investors (alibaba, amazon etc).
 
3. Direct to customer CPG brands will become acquisition targets for proctor and gamble, unilever etc. why? The CPG businesses have a desire to become relevant for millennials.
 
4. Marketplaces will invest into counterfeit recognition systems. Machine learning and artificial intelligence based startups that specialize in image recognition will be investment or acquisition targets.
 
5. Online to offline retail will continue to become more widely seen in the US and Europe as eCommerce startups and larger players look for cheaper customer acquisition channels.

This post has been updated with the following expert: 

Paul Rogers – eCommerce Consultant

Paul Rogers eCommerce ExpertBlog| LinkedIn | Website | Twitter

I think the main trend we’ll see this year will be retailers investing more in technology, with lots of merchants I’ve been speaking to looking at upgrading their eCommerce platform, improving various core functions of their store (such as search, merchandising, product recommendations etc) and investing in new systems to support processes etc.
There’s been a lot of movement as a result of Magento2, with lots of Magento 1.x merchants either starting the migration process to Magento 2, or opting to move to a different platform (due to questions around stability). Shopify Plus and Demandware / Salesforce Commerce Cloud have seen a lot of growth recently, but, equally Magento2 does appear to be on the up and brands like Oliver Sweeney and Helly Hansen have recently launched on the platform.
In terms of on-site improvements, there’s been more emphasis on improving search and product recommendations over the last 12 months and I think personalisation is going to be a continuing trend for 2017. This can be applied via search (boosting products based on user behaviour), product recommendations (displaying items based on what’s being learnt about the user) and email (automation based on the items the user is interacting with).
I think we’ll see more improvements in this area this year and the leading vendors in this space will become more mainstream. Solutions like Klarna are also getting more and more popular (now used by merchants like Overstock, Topshop and lots more) and this growth is making more and more merchants understand the benefit of being more flexible around payment terms and also optimising their checkout.

 

Now it’s your turn to speculate. What do you think some of the eCommerce trends are going to be for 2017?

Tweet us your predictions @Nextopia!

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