January 26, 2014
As we reflect on the upward and downward trends of 2013, we look forward into the new year for our annual ecommerce predictions. Predicting is fun because you have a tabula rasa at your fingertips; if you hit the spot, you’re a prophet, and if your guess was a little outlandish, well hey, no one can blame you for having a quixotic imagination. And, it allows for reminiscent thoughts on the previous year and analysis for future implications.
Moving into 2014, big ecommerce trends like social, mobile, and local optimization are continuously on the upswing. But certain aspects of these digital revolution criteria are positioned to become even more influential than anticipated. Without further ado, here are our ecommerce predictions for 2014:
- Ecommerce, as a whole, keeps on booming
Overall, ecommerce continues to boom. Over the past few years, moving online has become a quickly rising trend. With companies optimizing their online shops, sales, and layouts, the customer experience has become greatly simplified, which reinforces and encourages further interaction. Numbers were up in the US last year, with the holiday season bringing in a 24% increase in ecommerce sales than the previous year. And this trend doesn’t just apply to the United States. In fact, ecommerce is making an impact all over the globe, with Asia being the anticipated leader for 2014. eMarketer predicts that Asia will become the biggest contributor to B2C ecommerce and will account for nearly a third of ecommerce spending for the entire year, over $502 billion. All in all, online business is and will continue to thrive in 2014 — read on to learn what we think is driving the growth.
- Integrating on-the-go shopping through mobile
Mobile shopping is on the rise and it is here to stay. As businesses optimize their mobile sites and apps, consumers are incentivized to dive in and complete quick transactions on-the-go. Websites are increasingly simple, which serves to coincide with mobile preferences, and users are reacting favorably. In the UK last year, mobile purchases made up approximately a quarter of all sales, a pattern that is just gaining momentum.
Mobile also has the advantage of integrating quietly into the lives of consumers, making it an ever-present element of a person’s day. Because of this, multi-tasking and interacting on mobile and tablet devices while watching TV, sitting in the lobby, waiting at the laundromat, riding the train, and all other passing periods is a norm, and in the world of ecommerce, an opportunity to capture a buyer’s attention to make a sale.
- Mass-customization and individuality
Long gone are the days of the industrial era, where assembly lines mass produced identical items and Henry Ford’s Model T car came in every color, as long as it was black. Post-industrial society has shifted to valuing individuality, mass-customization, and unique products designed for personal expression. From Facebook ads targeting individual users based on previous preferences, to custom designed retail options, to try-before-you-buy business models like Trunk Club and Warby Parker, to sites like True & Co. that collect user data through surveys in order to offer products curated to specific users, consumers are being courted with products that seem like they were made just for them (and sometimes they are).
- Tighter delivery demands
As Willy Wonka’s bold and determined Veruca Salt stated so elegantly, “I want it and I want it now!” Consumers are accustomed to the speed and efficiency that is possible with digital advances. And why shouldn’t they be? Next day delivery service is on it’s way to becoming an expectation, rather than a luxury. Google Shopping Express, which was rolled out in Silicon Valley and San Francisco earlier in 2013, is positioned to expand and make more of an impact on the digital shipping scene. The availability of these conveniences will undoubtedly be followed by an even higher demand for speed and shorter tolerance for wait periods.
- A grander holiday season
Every year, the holiday season sparks new conversation about ecommerce. In 2013, total ecommerce sales were up 10% from the previous year. The conception of Cyber Monday in the holiday season of 2005 changed the game, joining Black Friday as a second specially-named holiday sale. In 2013, Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday alone brought in a total of $940 million in the US, up 63% from 2012. And for four years running, the Monday after Thanksgiving has been ranked the #1 spending day of the year.
We can predict that 2014 will follow suit, and it’s likely that consumers will begin emerging for holiday shopping earlier. Recently, stores have begun their sales on Thanksgiving Thursday, rather than waiting until Black Friday. It’s only a matter of time before the sale dates move up on the calendar, and perhaps 2014 will be the year to coin a new date.
- Wearable tech on the rise
Wearables: the most stylish technology of the future. Introduced to the masses by Google Glass and Samsung’s line of smart watches, the media is buzzing about the possible implications and the future of wearable gadget technology. What does this mean for ecommerce? Hands-free buying, voice activated purchasing, and price searching at the blink of an eye are all within the scope of possibilities. So far, these are just hypothesized uses for new technologies, but it’s certain that these savvy gizmos will make an impact on ecommerce. And if they don’t touch ecommerce directly, wearables will certainly open a new door for interaction through external apps, indirectly driving users to engage in ecommerce through yet another portal.
- Connecting on a social level
As companies are pressured to focus more and more on community and customer relation, social interactions between the producer and the consumer have increased dramatically. Special sales available on Facebook pages and other social media platforms not only increase web traffic and customer engagement, but also create a relationship with the brand. We’ve also seen really smart marketing campaigns run on Instagram, which is a great avenue for brand building in the creative community and among teens. And speaking of teens, social shopping site, Wanelo, released share buttons in 2013 and we expect to see more of them pop up on ecommerce sites this year. The site is an obsession for many young buyers and shows no sign of stopping. The power of social is evident, and, we anticipate seeing businesses try new and creative ways to reach customers this way in 2014.