Economists predict the U.S. economy will grow at 2.7% in 2018, fueling enthusiasm from business and consumers alike. With ecommerce trends showing an even greater growth rate — 281% in the last decade, there is plenty of reason to expect 2018 will be a record-breaking year for B2B and B2C ecommerce sales.
Even so, we can take nothing for granted. Thanks to changes in American tax rates, businesses and consumers have more cash to spend, but motivating them to spend their new-found loot online takes more than stats, it takes strategy.
Five Trends Transforming Ecommerce
Data shows that five trends will dominate the ecommerce landscape this year. Each will provide greater sales for business, more competitive pricing for consumers, and greater opportunities for developers who can take the ecommerce ecosystem to the next level. Whether your company benefits from these changes depends on how well your business embraces them.
In this post, we examine the trends and technology likely to drive online sales growth this year. Including some of these in your business model is the best way to remain viable and competitive in the ecommerce marketplace.
1. Ecommerce Mobile Apps
Every business that decides to make a foray into ecommerce, or to expand their online sales efforts, must make a decision: focus resources on a traditional ecommerce website, or invest in an ecommerce app. If industry statistics mean anything to you, you will do both — at least for now.
Traditional ecommerce websites have served us well. From online wineries with shopping carts to the mammoth — some would say behemoth — Amazon.com,
companies have relied on various web-based solutions in order to sell their wares online. Consumers have grown accustomed to buying online, and increasingly do so using mobile apps rather than traditional shopping carts. But does the growing popularity of mobile apps mean the death of ecommerce websites?
Hardly. A large percentage of users still prefer making purchases on their desktop or notebook computers, so adopting an app-first ecommerce model would alienate a significant portion of the market.
Although it would be a mistake to expect that mobile apps will replace the ecommerce website model anytime soon, it would be equally unwise to think your retail business does not need an ecommerce app. In 2017, 57% of retail website visits occurred on mobile devices, and the shift toward mobile purchases will only continue. With the consumer market increasingly using mobile devices for online shopping, apps offer some unique marketing and sales advantages websites cannot match.
One only needs to view the unique ways companies such as Walmart, Trivago, and Groupon are using apps to bolster the bottom line. As every marketing professional knows, there is more to marketing than making the sale. You must make the customer happy with their entire experience with your company, before, during, and after their purchase. Apps help you serve your customers better by offering powerful features that can augment your retail website.
Here are just a few of the ways ecommerce apps can help grow online business:
- making targeted product recommendations
- offering and managing loyalty rewards
- providing fast product searches
- enabling quick, easy, and secure checkout options
- suggesting store locations near the user
Mobile ecommerce apps allow you to offer your customers a non-cluttered interface for viewing and purchasing your products. As developers build upon each other’s innovations, we will see even more exciting ways to attract, serve, and retain customers using mobile apps.
2. Cloud-Based Commerce Platforms
“The cloud” is no longer a buzzword. It’s increasingly the way Internet and software-based services are delivered to consumers. You may already know that cloud technology eliminates the need for users to download software onto their computers or mobile devices, but why is the cloud important for ecommerce, when nearly all online selling is facilitated with web-based applications anyway?
The answer lies is necessarily technical, but worth noting.
With traditional ecommerce platforms, the software that runs the shopping cart usually resides on the same web server that hosts the retail website. While this seemed perfectly logical before cloud computing emerged, it is no longer the best way to operate an online store.
Cloud-based ecommerce offers a number of advantages over non-cloud solutions. Here are just a few:
- retail websites and shopping-cart platforms are hosted on multiple servers, increasing uptime and speed, regardless of the visitor’s geographic location
- cloud-based solutions eliminate the need for your customers to download catalogs or coupon programs onto their computers or mobile devices
- device compatibility is not an issue, as cloud-based ecommerce solutions are not platform-dependent
- scalability allows you to increase or decrease your ecommerce processing resources as needed to meet current demand
- cloud communities allow easy integration between ecommerce platforms and relevant resources
- cloud-based ecommerce platforms offer significant cost-savings over on-premises solutions
Cloud-based platforms are rapidly replacing siloed hosting solutions, and are ideally suited for hosting online stores.
3. Predictive Pricing
Big data and artificial intelligence merge to bring intelligent, data-driven automation to the process of setting retail prices online. Rather than deciding how much you should charge based on a loose analysis of your competitors’ prices, weighed against your costs, you now have the power of two of the world’s leading technologies to help you price that peach.
You may not have heard much about predictive pricing, but it reflects an important trend in how online retailers set the prices of their products.
In a nutshell, predictive pricing platforms use the power of machine learning to help retailers set product prices based on scientific analysis. Rather than using cost-plus models to arrive at the price for goods, predictive pricing takes into account a number of factors to suggest the optimum price of for maximizing sales and profitability. Among the factors considered include:
- competitors’ pricing in real time
- projected product demand based on numerous market factors
- customer analytics
- product sales history
In short, predictive pricing utilizes big data and powerful machine learning algorithms to suggest the optimum price for each customer at the time they intend to purchase — similar to how airlines and hotels set prices, but with a wealth more data and intelligence playing into the equation.
4. Dynamic Pricing
Whereas predictive pricing seeks to predict the optimum price for each product based on real-time analysis of the competition, the customer, and market factors, dynamic pricing allows you to set your own rules for when prices change and what they should be. With this model, you can elect to tap some of the same data as used for predictive pricing, but you can also set your own rules for when prices change, and pricing will automatically adjust according to those rules. You can also set predefined limits to alert you when certain conditions occur that would drive prices higher or lower than you want.
A few of the factors that you can use for setting your rules include:
- the financial goals of your company
- supply chain dynamics
- relevant stock trends
- market factors
- competition analysis
Both predictive analysis and dynamic pricing models are offered as Saas platforms through a growing list of vendors.
5. Cryptocurrency for Ecommerce
Retailers are already embracing cryptocurrency, and ecommerce offers an even greater opportunity for you to tap the huge Bitcoin market. But why would you want to?
First, despite what some may say, Bitcoin is here to stay. It is no longer an underground economy, but is now a mainstream currency.
Need proof? Bitcoins are now accepted by such giants as Overstock.com, Newegg, Shopify stores, and Microsoft. From pizza shops to paint sellers, business of all types now welcome bitcoins as payment, expanding their customer base in the process.
Next, blockchain, the backbone technology on which Bitcoin is built, offers numerous advantages for your customers:
- the highest level of data security ever created
- anonymity for those customers who consider it important
- fast payment processing using tokens rather than slow payment gateways
- an unalterable record of purchase
Bitcoin payment providers such as BitPay and CoinBase offer platforms to make it easy for you to accept bitcoins for your online store.
How Ignite Can Help
Ecommerce sales are projected to top $3.38 trillion by 2020. Dominating the ecommerce marketplace, or just getting your fair share, will require more than posting your products or services online. If your business growth depends on remaining competitive in the highly-dynamic ecommerce environment, you must position your company ahead of the technology curve. In other words, you need a technology partner to help pave the way.
Ignite wants to be that partner. We are experts in every aspect of ecommerce technology, from cloud-based platforms to mobile apps. With six R&D labs located across Europe, we are ideally situated to develop your ecommerce solution.
Why not call us today for a no-cost consultation?