Ecommerce Predictions for 2016: 7 Experts Weigh in

Seven experts share their eCommerce predictions for the year. Just in case, get a pen ready to take notes!

Ecommerce Predictions for 2016: 7 Experts Weigh in
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How will online shopping change? Should you bother with mobile? How can you make customers buy more?

These questions might keep popping up if you are thinking about your marketing strategy for 2016.

We’ve got you covered. Seven experts share their predictions for the year. Just in case, get a pen ready to take notes!

#1. The buying power of Generation Y will dominate

markus_linderOn Guided Selling Markus Linder from Smartassistant writes: “2016 (as well as 2017) will see Millennials (folks born, generally, between 1978 and 1995) enjoy more spending power than any generation previous.”

Millennials’ growing domination is a trend that we have known for a long time. This is the generation which occupied the online world almost from birth, so it’s not a surprise that their preferences can change online shopping.

But how exactly? Let me name a few of their demands:

  • They want a seamless mobile experience. Last year, eMarketer reported that millennials spend 4 hours on their smartphones daily and this number is growing rapidly. They expect everything to work on mobile. If it doesn’t, they leave.
  • They don’t tolerate hiccups. If they can’t purchase the product they like right away, they leave. Further reasons are listed on this infographic.
  • They are skeptical about traditional advertising. Peers’ opinions matter when millennials decide where to shop and what to shop for. These statistics report that 88% of them trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

In short, millennials want to shop anywhere and anytime. That’s why UX issues (the usability of your webstore) should be resolved, and why you also need to encourage the production of user-generated content such as reviews.

Software like VWO helps to optimize your webstore with A/B testing. It also provides heat mapping to see where customers click.

Gaining trust and sales among millennials starts with a well-functioning webstore on mobile and desktop.
Gaining trust and sales among millennials starts with a well-functioning webstore on mobile and desktop. VWO can help to achieve this.

#2. Customers want to shop omni-channel

pamela-hazeltonOn Practical Ecommerce Pamela Hazelton writes: “Online shopping, especially via a smartphone, is more popular than ever. People who shop in physical stores and on their smartphones – versus those who only shop physical stores – spend 66% more overall.“

The statistics she mentions encourages the importance of an omni-channel presence. The reasons:

  • Customers search for the products online while shopping in the physical store.
  • Customers don’t just want to compare prices; they want to check customer reviews before deciding.
  • Online shoppers still want to touch the products before they purchase.

Each of these three points supports Markus Linder’s prediction for the necessity of building trust. Customers are skeptical ‒ as mentioned in the first point; they want to make sure that they get the best deal.

What’s the difference between multi-channel and omni-channel? This graphic on Guided-selling.org explains it well. Omni-channel means that the same customer should have a seamless experience whether they are on mobile, social, web or desktop.

#3. Mobile payment will be a must

Abhishek-AgarwalOn INC.com Abhishek Agarwal from MobiCommerce and Design’N’Buy writes: “The eCommerce mobile shopper is not only looking to browse products on mobile apps and purchase them on the main e-commerce retail portal. They want mobile check out.”

Even though the mCommerce field is evolving ‒ it has already reached 35% share globally ‒ many stores still lack mobile payment options. However, there are many mobile payments apps out there to easily meet this challenge:

Mobile Share of eCommerce Transactions by Country
Mobile commerce is most advanced in Asian countries and besides the USA, European countries also shows signs of emerging m-commerce use.

#4. Personalization will reach the next level

thomas-saleOn Enterpreneur.com Thomas Smale from FE International writes: “The idea is that if you become a member of an eCommerce site, it will remember your preferences. And the same personalized experiences are now being offered even to those who aren’t even registered or logged in.”

Personalizing your customers’ entire journey from the first time they visit your webstore provides an alluring experience that can motivate them to register an account and then purchase a product.

Personalized product recommendations can be shown for non-registrants based on their search history, browsing history, or geo-location.

Here are some product recommendation tools that can help you with this:

Tools like Monetate can help you to provide a more personalized experience for your online shoppers.
Tools like Monetate can help you to provide a more personalized experience for your online shoppers by showcasing relevant products that they might be interested in.

#5. The power of influencers will increase

jack-simpsonJack Simpson from Econsultancy writes: “Brands are increasingly realising the value in partnering with influencers to amplify their message or promote their products.”

Getting influencers’ attention for your product may seem difficult at first, but there are some workarounds that you can use:

  • Ask them to review your product, after sending them a free product sample.
  • Offer your products as prizes in a giveaway or contests that run on the influencers’ site.
  • Run a loyalty program where you can identify and reward those customers who get paying customers for you through their shares or product recommendations.

You can also pay influencers to promote your product. Most would happily take your money (if you fit their profile) as they make money from sponsorship. For example, Cirqle is a platform that connects brands with influencers.

A stunning example of how an influencer can work with a brand: Michelle Phan.
A stunning example of how an influencer can work with a brand: Michelle Phan is an influencer in the beauty industry, with more than 8 million followers. She started a vlog in 2007, shared makeup tutorials, and then teamed up with L’Oreal in 2013 to launch a new product line under her name.

#6. People expect human behavior in the online environment

tara-sporrerOn Multichannel Merchant Tara Sporrer from Moxie writes: “With traditional ecommerce analytics, it can take days or weeks to spot a trend or problem on your site. However, with real-time actionable analytics, you can see in real time what your customers are doing – where or when they are exiting or encountering problems – and offer assistance before they leave your site.”

A customer mis-types their coupon code? Lands on a page that gives them a 404 error? Wants to purchase a product that is out of stock? These are the moments when you would like to step in and make up for that one bad moment which can make a customer leave.

This is when tools like live chat apps can help you to stop customers as they are about to leave. They can monitor in real time what your customers are doing, and you can open a conversation right away to offer solutions to their problems.

Here are a few live chat apps that know these functions:

Tools like Velaro, can help you increase conversion by getting customers’ questions answered as soon as possible.
Tools like Velaro, can help you increase conversion by getting customers’ questions answered as soon as possible.

#7. Customers will seek loyalty programs

roxana-bilc

On Newsgento Roxana Blic writes: “Online loyalty programs are becoming more of an influence for eCommerce and are trending to hit big in 2016.”

Roxana’s thoughts are supported by the numbers: “85% of customers want to be recognized and rewarded for spending their money at a brand“. What does this really mean? If you have a loyalty program, customers feel:

  • they get something back for their money.
  • they are recognized as valuable customers.
  • they are part of a community.

At first, you may think that loyalty programs only influence customers’ penny-pinching side. But empty discounts are not what makes them loyal; raising positive emotions works in the long run.

Software like Antavo can add a loyalty program to your webstore.

Antavo provides point-based loyalty programs to keep customers by letting them experience positive emotions with your brand.
Antavo provides point-based loyalty programs to keep customers by letting them experience positive emotions with your brand.

What are your thoughts?

Do you agree with these predictions? Which ones would you take into account, and which ones do you feel you need more time to work with?

Share your opinion in the comments section below, or email me here.

I believe that mobile will gain even more importance this year, and it’s best to focus your efforts on mobile compatibility as soon as possible. Providing customers with relevant recommendations, trustworthy reviews, positive experiences, and efficient help all leads to one thing: making customers loyal.

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Timi Garai

Timi is a Senior Loyalty Strategist at Antavo. She has helped numerous eCommerce, physical retailers and B2C brands strengthen customer loyalty, and significantly increase annual revenue. Timi is also the head organizer of one of the largest anime conventions in Europe.

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