While eCommerce has been a rising force in the retail world for years now, it’s gone through phases on its way to the top. Expect more of the same in 2017, with customers migrating online in new and different ways. Your success or failure this year may hinge on your ability to jump aboard these trends as they crest, which means being aware of the environment and unafraid to give your business model a well-needed refresh.
Top Trends for 2017 – and How to Embrace Them
Whether you’re running a brick-and-mortar outlet that’s finally ready to make the omnichannel leap or a native eCommerce company eager to maximize its audience, the following trends should help you get a feel for the 2017 market. Each of these three movements is followed by suggestions that can help you make the most of current conditions. Keep in mind, though, that these developments are just the tip of the iceberg: eCommerce in 2017 will continue to be a huge, varied sandbox for retailers to play in.
1. The trend: New product categories move online
One of the few remaining barriers to further eCommerce expansion is that there are some items people are just more comfortable buying in person. But that list is shrinking. CIO magazine recently pointed out that lagging categories are making up ground, further fueling eCommerce in general. For instance, grocery stores are expected to have a big 2017 online, as are pet care suppliers and sporting goods companies.
Making it work for you: This one’s simple – if you’ve resisted committing to eCommerce because you think your customers don’t want to shop online, it’s time to take another look. Customers’ willingness to buy everything from clothing to fresh foods online may make 2017 a bold new year for expansion. That said, try to maximize features such as return logistics. Imagine how much more comfortable someone would be buying clothes from an eCommerce site if it’s easy to return products that don’t fit.
2. The trend: More digital wallet adoption
Wallet-style payment services such as Apple Pay, PayPal and Google Pay are on the rise. Tech.Co explained that more customers are flocking to these services on their mobile devices – and are likely to demand eCommerce sites support them, too. Therefore, accepting these forms of payment is a good way to smooth the checkout process and address customer demand.
Making it work for you: It’s time to assess your eCommerce platform. What kinds of payments can you handle? Do your supported methods match the favored methods in the regions you’re targeting? Remember that preferences may vary widely depending on geography, age and industry. Once you know what you need to support, it’s time to implement those checkout options securely.
3. The trend: Omnichannel customer service
A separate CIO magazine overview predicted that eCommerce and brick-and-mortar retail will continue their major convergence in 2017. Sales associates at your physical stores will be expected to have access to customers’ eCommerce shopping history and preferences, as well as inventory and product information. When adopting high-tech trends, the brick-and-mortar world shouldn’t be left out.
Making it work for you: If you operate both eCommerce and brick-and-mortar storefronts but haven’t converged them into an omnichannel environment, 2017 may be your year to make the leap. This means having sturdy backend infrastructure that lets employees from any corner of the company get the big picture of inventory, customer profiles and more.
A Year to Embrace Change
Companies in all segments of the eCommerce world have many different potential paths ahead of them for 2017. Making objectives and taking concrete steps to reach them is a project to start on as quickly as possible. After all, you’ll want to have the heavy lifting done on your 2017 undertakings by the time the holiday shopping season rolls around in the fall.
Whether you want to see revolutionary change in your brand’s presentation or just hope eCommerce operations will run more smoothly under the hood this year, positive change starts with your eCommerce platform. A strategy built on a wobbly framework is bound for trouble. You can make 2017 the year you strengthen your company from the ground up and ensure your backend is ready to handle the exciting new innovations coming down the pipeline throughout the next 12 months.