Happy New Year! 2015 was a phenomenal year for online retailers with new technologies emerging on what seemed to be a daily basis. As we start the new year, I’d like to share with my network my thoughts on where I believe ecommerce is headed in 2016.
- Omni 2.0: Omni channel shopping is the idea of merging the physical and digital shopping experiences. While this idea has been around for a few years, it continues to develop as new technologies emerge. Whereas in the past the digital component of omni was primarily a retailer’s ecommerce site, in 2016 mobile and digital marketing will become additional components, requiring retailers to be in sync with their messaging in all channels, whether it be in-store signage, online offers, social media messages, television ads and emails. Though simple in concept, this will be a major hurdle for retailers to accomplish as it requires intensive internal cross-collaboration and will even lead to significant changes to the traditional retail organizational structure.
- Mobile Shopping: 2015 was a big year for mobile shopping and this channel will grow exponentially in 2016. With the rise of smart phone usage, there is a shopping experience sitting in the palm of nearly everyone’s hands. In 2016, it won’t be unusual for websites to have more than half of their traffic to come from mobile devices. To stay competitive in this lucrative shopping channel, retailers are expected place a greater share of resources into optimizing the mobile shopping experience. Customers can expect a more intuitive shopping experience and faster checkouts on a mobile device. And to cater to the digitally savvy consumer who still prefers the physical store experience, retailers will provide more digital tools in-stores to encourage product and brand exploration.
- Mobile Wallet: Mobile wallets are digital versions of common wallet items such as credit cards, coupons and loyalty cards that can be housed within a mobile device. Starbucks has been the leader in this area with their app, and its payment function now accounts for over 20% of in-store sales. Apple Pay, Android Pay and Google Wallet are the most prevalent players of in-store mobile payment, though each offers a different experience and acceptance varies by retailer. Eventually a single checkout experience will emerge, leading to rapid customer adoption. For online retailers, a universally recognized mobile payment will drastically speed the checkout process. And because checkout is generally the largest dropoff point in the mobile shopping journey, this feature alone could be the most significant win for ecommerce in 2016.
- Uberfication/Convenience-Tech: Uber paved the way for startups geared on on-demand convenience, such as Handy and Minibar. And though 2015 saw a plethora of companies jumping on the bandwagon, expect even more in 2016. Some will make it, many will not. Considering that nearly every product and service can participate, this still remains an industry in its infancy.
- Beacon Technology: Beacon technology allows for mobile devices to be alerted when in the proximity of a physical location. For example, a retailer can capture the attention of their most loyal customers by pushing offers to their apps when they are in the proximity of a physical store. Since being launched in 2013, beacon technology has gained wide acceptance and is expected to be a game changer in the way we shop. 2016 will be a pivotal year for beacon technology as this will be the year that many customers become familiar and comfortable with the technology. Large retailers, such as department stores, are even using this technology on a micro-level to push deals and information related to which department a customer is in within a physical store.
- Shopping Holidays: As the line between in-store and digital shopping fade, expect 2016 to be the year where the in-store Black Friday and online Cyber Monday shopping holidays will merge into a single shopping weekend. Having gained prominence in 2015, Giving Tuesday will become a stronger event for online retailers as the idea of philanthropy continues to grow. Free Shipping Day will likely fade in 2016 as customers expect free shipping year-round, due in part to the precedent set by Amazon Prime. Expedited shipping offers will gain prominence as online retailers seek to capture last-minute sales. Online retailers, such as Google Express, who offer same-day delivery will have a significant advantage with this segment.
What are your 2016 ecommerce predictions? How would you like to see online shopping evolve?