After all the bursts of confetti had scattered and the highly anticipated ball had dropped at Times Square, 2015 vanished into our memories. Retailers released a bittersweet sigh, as the end of year peak shopping season came to a close. The year 2016 rolled in with new hopes of continued growth and prosperity, improved marketing strategies, and further advanced technologies.
What’s the e-Commerce buzz for 2016?
This year is predicted to be an amazing one for the e-Commerce industry. Buyers are using multiple devices for convenient online shopping and mobile transactions are aggressively booming in 2016. Internet shopping is projected to increase by 45 percent in the U.S. alone. Online consumers are expected to spend $327 billion in 2016, up 45 percent from $225 billion in 2015.
To remain a top competitor, brands need to build their online businesses, benchmark against current growth rates and implement strategic marketing tactics that will successfully reach business goals. Important changes to look for in 2016 and beyond are as follows:
- Consumers will complete most of their shopping through multiple devices.
- Smartphone buying will continue to increase in momentum.
- Expect to see more large scale online shopping events with bigger sales.
- Retail merchants will experience a higher web influence on their in-house sales.
- Digital marketing will move from a focus on devices to being more people-focused.
- Advertising will become less intrusive and more relevant.
- Fast delivery services will become more common.
Multiple Device Users
About 50 percent of all e-Commerce transactions are currently made via multiple devices. As that figure increases this year, retailers may need to restructure the online shopping experience to accommodate this new way of buying. In addition, consumers who use multiple devices are also 20 percent more likely than the average buyer to complete their purchase.
Online merchants need to redesign their shopping experience to make it user-friendly, regardless of the device being used. Activated campaigns are necessary for all popular devices, and properties need to be fully tagged to leverage both desktop and mobile use.
The majority of consumers view their mobile device screen more than any other. These days, Smartphones are larger, with wider screens, making mobile shopping even easier. Over 40 percent of all e-Commerce transactions in South Korea and Japan are traced to a Smartphone. They are steadily reaching the popularity of tablets in countries such as France, Germany, Russia and the UK.
It is expected that by 2017 mobile engagement practices by U.S. consumers will drive e-Commerce revenue up to 50 percent of all digital commerce revenue in the U.S.
More and more retail transactions are occurring on Smartphones and online merchants need to step up to the plate and make mobile apps a priority to optimize the customer’s buying experience. Consumers can use websites on tablets that are not optimized for mobile use, but this is not the case for Smartphones.
Online Shopping Events
Cyber Monday is the largest annual online shopping day reeling in a whopping $3 billion in sales. In China, November 11 is Singles Day, the biggest online shopping event in the world. Sales worth $14.3 billion have been reported from Alibaba alone, this is a 60 percent growth from 2015. It is anticipated that these huge shopping events will reach monumental proportions in 2016.
It is vital for all internet retailers to rebalance both their in-store and online strategies to account for these major shopping days. Traditional retailers should expect more online traffic than in-store sales on the biggest peak sale days.
Web-Influence on In-House Sales
Since it is so common for shoppers to research products online before even visiting a store, it is crucial for retailers to understand what consumers look for ahead of time. Google has reported that 8 out of 10 consumers who own a Smartphone use it in-store to help them make buying decisions, even though the majority will complete the purchase later online.
Merchants are beginning to grasp this process and gain a better view of how their customers shop by connecting with them through their app, beacons or other technologies that will allow them to link the customer email or loyalty program ID at the POS. Retailers who invest in such technologies need to also have the knowledge and resources available to manage customer interactions in real-time.
What are Beacons and How are They Used?
This year beacons will drive more internet retail sales. These devices are among the most innovative mobile technologies helping today’s merchants gather more sales. Low-cost beacons communicate with Smartphone apps in stores through Bluetooth. In 2015 tons of retailers tested beacons, including large chains like Macy’s and Target. This year, more merchants are gravitating to these important devices and using them to communicate with traditional consumers inside stores:
- By year’s end, 2018 3.5 billion active beacons will be installed
- In 2016, $44 billion in sales beacons will be in operation, this is a $4 billion increase from
- About 82 percent of all customers make purchasing decisions in aisle
Only a smattering of businesses is equipped to leverage customer data effectively across platforms and mobile devices used today. Even with the appropriate matching technology now available, most merchants still find tracking cross-device sales and buyers’ activity across apps to be quite a challenge.
This year, retailers plan to target advertising spending towards understanding how customers move across devices and platforms and making this a top priority. Because of this interest, there will be a rise in people focused marketing.
Since internet buyers don’t separate their media consumption by browsing environment or device, retailers shouldn’t think about it either. B2C organizations will need to train their marketing teams to absorb the many facets of buyer intent completely.
Relevant Ads That are Non-Intrusive
Those irritating pop-up ads, pre-roll ads and overlays are soon to be a thing of the past, particularly on mobile devices. Consumers want non-intrusive advertisements, more personalized content, and brands that deliver what they promise.
There will also be an increase in ad-blocking that will help speed up the move toward non-intrusive ads. Adblock plus has reported that 75 percent of users are not bothered by non-intrusive advertisements.
By shifting to non-intrusive ads that are relevant advertisers will achieve more genuine consumer engagement and potentially higher conversions.
Instant delivery and order fulfillment are primary focuses for retailers in 2016. Many online merchants are attempting to match the immensely popular Amazon Prime Now service.
Traditional in-store retailers and online merchants are using third party instant delivery services like Instacart to help them stay competitive and achieve their customer service goals.
Lower cost, fast delivery will drive business growth across the border as consumers will be more likely to consider buying goods from other countries if it would save them money.
Any merchant who offers same-day delivery, or faster, is going to reign significantly higher than the rest of the competition in 2016. This hot trend will also lead marketers to utilize a more time sensitive, in the moment, method of advertising to help drive conversions.
What Else Should Online Retailers Look for In the Coming Months?
This year is another exciting time for e-Commerce but there are also some major hurdles to maneuver. Both online merchants and marketers should consider the following bullet points to get the most out of their e-Commerce endeavors in 2016 and beyond:
- Online advertisers need to develop their capabilities in order to understand consumer shopping habits across devices, apps, and browsers to ensure the most optimal customer experience.
- Smartphones are the current tide and the wave of the future. This is where mobile shopping is going to flourish the most. It is vital for retailers to invest in mobile apps to remain up-to-date and significantly lift sales.
- The massive growth of mobile shopping is driven by smartphones. Investing in a mobile app is, therefore, worth considering as it can bring a significant uplift in sales.
- Internet retailers need to place their focus mainly on selling during big shopping events such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday or Singles Day.
- During these big shopping events, consumers will continue to buy online more and more to avoid the traditional in-store rush.
- Online advertisers should consider utilizing an ad tech partner to help them optimize their online conversions through non-intrusive and more personalized ads that promote genuine consumer engagement.
- In 2016, for the first time ever, e-Commerce sales are projected to surpass $350 billion.
- Amazon will no longer rely on domestic and international carriers; the e-Commerce powerhouse will launch its international shipping enterprise.
- Many major department stores will be shunned as more people flock to discount outlets and the convenience of online shopping.
- Converting customers through social media e-Commerce will be the leading marketing approach.
- Online ratings and product reviews will nourish sales growth.
- Popular social media networks like Facebook and Twitter will launch new online stores that allow users to make purchases directly from the platform.
There are a lot of changes brewing this year in terms of customer expectations, retail spending, and advertising methods. Advances in mobile payment services will drive e-Commerce growth, and social media will continue to be a driving force when it comes to online shopping in 2016 and in the future.