According to Internet Retailer, eCommerce sales in the U.S. continues to outpace brick-and-mortar stores – as of Q3 2016, digital commerce sales grew by 15.6%.
It won’t be long before we know the final eCommerce growth numbers for 2016. Judging by reported sales from the 2016 holiday shopping season, eCommerce businesses finished strong. (Conservative estimates from Adobe Digital Insights and comScore hover around 11-12% increase in online holiday sales.)
As consumers continue to flock to the convenience of online shopping, brands in this space are under more pressure to deliver engaging and well-designed experiences. Magento recently published a list of top digital commerce initiatives for 2017 after surveying 2,200 brand manufacturers, multi-channel, and web-only merchants from across 15 vertical segments.
I recently interviewed John Ambrose, Senior eCommerce Consultant at Perficient Digital, to get his perspective on key trends that will significantly impact eCommerce this year.
IoT + Omni-channel Accelerate Customer Expectations
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“The proliferation of connected devices (IoT, Amazon Echo, beacons, etc.) has initiated an endless channel opportunity for companies to engage and sell to their customers. The content and user experience of those devices are driving new commerce rules of engagement.
Consequently, the rate, pace, and expectation of companies to adapt to these various channels is getting faster. Processes (such as Agile), software (x-as-a-Service), and virtually limitless cloud infrastructure have evolved to iteratively deliver capabilities faster and more frequently in an attempt to keep up customers’ expectations. Our team has the difficult (but exciting) job of staying ahead of these trends so we are able to strategically guide clients and operationally pivot to different processes, skill sets, and technology to deliver on that strategy,” said Ambrose.
Mobile Sites + Google Search Rankings
“A recent announcement from Google stated that it will place primary ranking emphasis on brands’ mobile versions of their websites. This means companies must accelerate initiatives to build mobile-first, responsive design, and make this a priority for 2017 if they want to maintain and enhance overall organic ranking. Commerce platforms that offer mobile optimized-templates can jump-start this process, and provide clients with a quick way to respond to this change.
On current and future client projects, we plan to adjust the UX/UI and commerce build processes to design, implement, and search engine optimize mobile versions of commerce sites as part of the initial project sprints,” Ambrose continued.
B2B2C Commerce Models
“Another trend we’ve noticed is more manufacturers want to be closer to their end consumer. Currently, we’re working with clients in manufacturing to enable B2B eCommerce for use in their traditional channels, such as fields sales and distributors. However, they also want eCommerce strategies and solutions that will allow them to sell direct-to-consumer. While channel conflict and pricing concerns are among the major challenges to address when adopting this model, manufacturers seem more willing to tackle these challenges head-on. This primarily comes from significant insights gained through direct consumer interaction.
One area where we observed this trend is with manufacturers that also sell spare/replacement parts for end consumers. Spare/replacement parts typically have high margin and offer additional opportunities to engage the distributor channel through buy online and pick-up in store (BOPUS),” Ambrose said.
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