The ecommerce industry is about to break old records and set some new ones in 2017. As of Q4 2016, online retailers raked in an estimated $1.915 trillion, an increase of 15.6% from the year prior. As it stands now, e-tailing represents about 8.6% of the worldwide retail industry, according to eMarketer. As online retailers reach for new heights, though, many are changing the way that they operate. This is inclusive of testing out new markets, incorporating new marketing strategies and are embracing emerging technologies that can help them get ahead.
What might 2017 hold in store for these online retailers as they prepare for the influx of yet another record-setting year? Here’s a quick look at four ways that the ecommerce model is evolving. Expect these trends to pick up even more stream as the holiday shopping season gets underway.
Shopping Apps & Browser Extensions
At the top of the list are shopping apps and web browser extensions. These span a wide gambit, ranging from personalized shopping assistants like Mona (which helps shoppers find collections, collages, apparel and accessories using recognition engines, comparison shopping and robust AI), to web browser app add-ons like Honey (which finds and applies any available discounts and coupons automatically at checkout to save shoppers money). In order to take advantage of the growing and dedicated user bases of these types of apps and browser extensions, retailers are making sure they’re connected with the developers behind these new technologies so they can attract new customers.
Virtual Shopping Malls
While still a newer technology, virtual shopping cannot be ignored. With online virtual shopping malls like Virtway World boasting more than 100 million users, retailers simply can’t afford to overlook the built-in consumer base that models such as these offer. In fact, the biggest and most respected brands have already hopped on board this money wagon, and many now offer virtual stores, complete with virtual sizing rooms, personal shopping assistants and more. While this technology will take some time to truly catch on, it has the possibility to become the next major shift in ecommerce in the short years ahead.
Most retailers are selling on more than one channel these days. For example, a retailer may host their own webstore, but will also list products on marketplaces like Amazon, Jet or Rakuten while simultaneously cross-selling on eBay. Omni-channel sellers can often struggle to grow the customer relationship because these marketplaces don’t communicate order or user data to each other. But newer cross-channel ecommerce CRM software solutions are helping retailers connect with customers, and offer feature sets like instant customer profiles, task lists, calendars, shipping and returns functions.
Shoppers want to keep it personal, yet retailers have traditionally struggled to offer them this key perk. But newer AI technology is helping retailers better personalize the shopping experience, according to Total Retail. New algorithms, web browser extensions and shopping apps help cater the shopping experience to consumers, and are based upon patterns, trends and personal shopping history that spans across multiple channels to deliver a truly unique shopping experience.
These four trends are but an exciting scratch of the surface that gives us a glimpse of what is yet to come in the ecommerce industry. In the future, you could be whisked away to a virtual shopping mall by putting on a pair of smart glasses, where you’d be able to shop, try on clothing, test out electronics and more – all catered to your every whim. While this may not be good news for brick and mortar, it represents a necessary shift in retail that has been long in the making.