5 Trends That Will Dominate e-Commerce Headlines in 2014

mashup of ecommerce purchases

The internet is constantly changing but what has not changed since the inception of the internet is that people want to make money from the traffic coming to their website. With the rise in mobile internet usage and social media the eCommerce landscape has changed dramatically in the past couple of years.

Here are our predictions for what trends will be driving eCommerce in 2014 and beyond.

Big Data – Customized Shopping Experience For Every User

Leveraging access to large databases of customer transaction and behaviour data is a market that will only continue to grow exponentially in the coming years. There are no shortage of players in the Big Data space all offering ways for eCommerce websites to tweak their customers shopping experience by displaying results that are more “predictive” of their behaviours. These predictions are made based on a customers past interactions on mobile, web or email and also through comparisons with similar customers.

If you are an eCommerce shop that can “predict” what your users want to see and customize your site for each and every user based on this data you escape the “one size fits all” mentality that dominates the brick and mortar shopping experience of today. Just imagine being able to go into a Best Buy and only see the items you are most likely to be interested in purchasing. That’s something the brick and mortar world just can’t offer easily. Personalization and behaviour driven content prediction are fast becoming must haves not nice to haves.

Social Media – Data Mining Driving Inventory Decisions

Companies that have the ability to spend marketing dollars to data mine the large social media networks will be a step ahead of their competitors in the coming years. Being able to see what items are getting “tweeted” or “pinned” can help eCommerce shops better understand what products they should be stocking.

Given the real time nature of trending on these social media sites big dollars will be spent trying to data mine social media channels to understand what products people are talking about. Marrying this data to the demographics who are engaging and talking about it will give companies a very powerful sales and marketing tool. This tool can save online as well as brick and mortar businesses a lot of money by allowing them to tweak their inventories based on what users are actually interested in buying in real time.

As the search engines continue to get better at measuring social engagement online rest assured that they will be including ever more of these signals into their ranking algorithms. Google now has been collecting data from their own social network for quite some time and given their access to the backend of this system it is easier for them to “triangulate” expected signals on other networks and what ratio of signals should be expected compared to their own data split out by industry. Faking signals on other social media channels for any other purpose but cosmetics will be more difficult in the years to come.

Improved Multi Device Support – Harmonized Shopping Experience On All Devices

Smart phones, tablets, phablets; there seems to be no end in site for the number of different devices and screen sizes that are coming on the market. To that end eCommerce websites will have to work harder to provide a seamless transition between mobile, tablet and computer users depending on where the customer is in the purchase cycle. Understanding what customers are doing with each device is key.

Making it easier for customers to buy items using any device they prefer is the way of the future. In its current form typing in full order information into a smart phone or tablet is painful. However, after a customer makes their first order and saves their information then browsing and checking out subsequent orders is a breeze no matter what device the user is on since the most painful part of the order process is already complete. As eCommerce on mobile and tablet devices continues to grow enticing the first time buyer becomes even more important. Getting the first time customer in the door even at a loss to create future “one click” spending on mobile and tablets will be a trend that continues to grow. This “one click” shopping experience has already proven to be popular in the app stores on Apple and Droid devices.

Don’t Be Boring – Customers Want Entertainment

Having a boring interface that simply displays products one after another via simple categorization is a model that is dying. Users have come to expect more from websites in the web x.0 era and they want their shopping experience to be more fun and interactive. Having fun games to play or clever apps to try that dovetail into saving money is a great way to keep a user entertained but also coming back to an eCommerce shop to see what fun or cool thing that will be there next.

Keeping the reward generalized in a format such as a gift card allows the users to visualize winning whatever product appeals to them while at the same time ensuring they will make a purchase to realize the savings. Another trend that will continue to expand this year is the marriage of entertainment to social media where the user can get more chances to win by helping spread exposure for a brand through their social channels.

People are looking for answers to questions, looking to save money and looking for entertainment when they are using the internet. If an eCommerce shop is providing all 3 at the same time they are light years ahead of their competitors.

Same Day Shipping – More Impulse Buying

Amazon predicts drones will be delivering packages door to door within 5 years. That’s great, but right now the buzz in shipping is “same day service”. Many retailers and eCommerce shops have either piloted or are piloting same day shipping programs in select metro areas in the US. As one would expect the companies that have the logistics to make this kind of offering are in a better position to dominate this space by getting in early and picking up market share in a new and expanding market.

Being able to get an item the same day a customer wants it is one of the last advantages that proponents of the brick and mortar shopping experience have left to hold onto. The window on this advantage is closing. Having the ability to get items the same day from an eCommerce shop will also encourage more impulse buying that wouldn’t normally otherwise occur in an online shopping environment.

Look for larger eCommerce sites to continue to tweak their sales approaches offering deals geared towards impulse buying using same day shipping as a prominent part of the sales pitch. Add in the possibility of “free same day shipping” and it is easy to see the plethora of new marketing approaches that are available to eCommerce providers who can afford to be on the cutting edge. At some point this service will be commoditized for all to use but initially look for either local business or large e-commerce shops to be the only ones in this market.

Once Refined Same Delivery Will Be Commonplace
Google Offers Shoppers Same Day Delivery

What trends do you think will be driving e-commerce in 2014 and beyond?