eCommerce trends for 2017: where will technology take us?

Lisa Strickland
Lisa Strickland
January 10, 2017

Get ready for some serious competition in the e-commerce industry in 2017.

As consumers continue to embrace the convenience of online shopping and rapidly advancing technology makes that convenience even more accessible, e-commerce is set to have another great year.

Forrester reports that within the next five years, online sales in the U.S. will top $523 billion. Meanwhile, e-commerce growth in Asian markets will virtually explode, with online sales in China alone estimated to actually double between now and 2019, which means an additional $1 trillion dollars for online sales in just three years.

What does all this projected growth mean for your e-commerce business? Simply put, it is time to explore e-commerce trends that will help you net a larger piece of the sales pie in 2017. Here are some of the e-commerce technology trends that will keep your business on top in the New Year:

Mobile is Here to Stay

2016 saw a surge in e-commerce, with mobile coming out the big winner in e-commerce technology. Mobile traffic to e-commerce sites finally surpassed desktop in 2016, and it is no coincidence that Google is signaling a strong preference for mobile-friendly sites in its search ranking algorithm.

In order to remain competitive on mobile, TargetMarketingMag.com provides this advice:

  • Improve the user experience for your mobile site
  • Ensure smooth integration with mobile wallets
  • Offer better privacy
  • Ensure easier checkout processes

 

CRM Enables Greater Personalization

CRM systems designed specifically for e-commerce will likely proliferate in the coming year. By providing a centralized repository for all customer information, including buying habits, communication preferences, and customer history, CRMs will help online retailers capture and nurture leads, build relationships with consumers, and enhance the customer experience through personalization and greater customization.

E-tailers may also profit from using CRMs with SMS functionality to reach consumers when and where they shop. E-commerce text notifications, alerts, and updates for product shipping or tracking will engender greater brand loyalty among satisfied consumers.

 

Chatbots and AI Make Big Waves

Brandwatch reports that consumers are becoming accustomed to talking to machines with the advent of integrated chatbots on Facebook, Google Allo, Twitter, and WhatsApp. These bots are designed to help with shopping and customer service. As more consumers become enamored of chatbots, it seems likely that the e-commerce industry will need to adopt such technologies to remain competitive.

Chatbots and digital assistants using AI tech, such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, and Microsoft’s Cortana, will likely impact the buyer journey for e-commerce consumers, meaning that you must take this potential impact into account when mapping the buyer journey of your own customers.

 

Biometrics Beef Up Security

Another upcoming trend in e-commerce is the steady adoption of biometrics to enhance consumer security on e-commerce sites. Using fingerprint, voice, iris, and facial detection technology, biometrics not only enhance security, but also act as a serious marketing tool. Systematixinfotech.com explains: “Apple experienced an increase in sales when they added the fingerprint scan to iPhone. Many studies suggest that by 2017, more than 500 million people will be using phones installed with biometric technology. Various technology firms like Mastercard and Visa are already working on making biometric technology an essential part of payment systems.”

 

Social Media Enters the E-commerce Space

In previous years, consumers used social media as a resource for research on products and services. Business Insider reports: “A new GlobalWebIndex study suggests that millennial shoppers use Facebook, Twitter, and the like to research products before they buy them. According to the study, 40% of global consumers ages 16 to 24 use social media to research products. And 30 percent of the general population uses these platforms for product research before they buy.”

While Google and Facebook have revenue models based on ad sales, it seems possible that social media platforms will begin to pay more attention to transaction revenue in the future. At least, that is what is happening in China.

Commenting on the meteoric rise of China’s tech giant, Tencent, Venturebeat reports: “Tencent’s WeChat application is revolutionizing e-commerce. It integrates orders, payments, and customer care right into your chat app with tremendous success. Nine out of 10 people in urban areas in China use WeChat already. And by all measures, Tencent’s approach has been a huge success, enabling it to reach more than $10 billion in revenue in the first half of 2016. That’s 48 percent more than a year before. And all that growth happened while maintaining a net margin of 30%. Even very happy Amazon shareholders might feel jealous of these numbers.”

It appears that the lesson of WeChat has been heard loud and clear by other large social media platforms. Both Apple and Facebook have opened up their platforms to external apps that enable direct transactions within a chat, and Facebook goes a step further by enabling companies to sell products directly from their Facebook page.

 

Video Steals the Show

YouTube and comScore recently released a study in which 74 percent of millennials said they like to watch videos that brands, companies, or institutions upload.

E-marketers do well to pay attention to this preference in 2017, as millennials represent an ever increasing percentage of e-commerce buyers. So, look for more video on e-commerce sites in the coming year.

 

Payment Processing Takes Center Stage

Plagued by worries about the security of e-commerce payments, consumers in 2017 will likely turn to alternative methods of payment for goods and services. In order to remain competitive in this uncertain environment, it is best to offer different forms of payment to attract a wider audience.

For instance, Payoneer offers a global payment processing system that seamlessly integrates with your e-commerce business to provide your customers with a secure, global method of payment.

 

The Bottom Line

The future for e-commerce looks bright in the upcoming year. For those who embrace the right technologies, a strong showing in the e-commerce space is likely. To ensure your success as an online seller in 2017:

  • Make your site more mobile-friendly.
  • Consider a strong CRM solution that will enable better relationship management with your customers.
  • Examine how chatbots and AI may impact the buyer journey for your audience.
  • Use enhanced security measures such as biometrics.
  • Beef up your social media presence and make good use of video.
  • Make payment processing easy and convenient.

Need help with that last item? Before you go, check out Payoneer’s payment processing solution for online sellers and get your New Year off to the best possible start.

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