In today’s world, consumers prefer to shop online rather than go to a physical location. More than 80% of the population says they have used the internet to purchase something. You can see the shift toward shopping online through eCommerce sales—they are currently growing around 14% a year.
Why do people prefer to shop online? Well, there are many reasons, but the majority say it’s time-saving, it’s easier to compare prices, and it offers a larger variety. It’s all about convenience. Consumers no longer have to get in their car and drive to a store—they can shop wherever they are. And, with the rise of smartphones, that can be literally anywhere. In order to capitalize on the shift toward online shopping, eCommerce retailers need to be on top of the consumer trends. Here are 5 that we think you will see rise in 2017.
Focus Shifting to Millennials
Whether you think Millennials are the greatest generation yet or a bunch of spoiled children, you need to start catering your business to them. They are slated to become the generation with the most spending power within the next year. So, what should you do? Well, it’s time to starting thinking like a Millennial. Millennials are considered to be those born roughly between the years of 1980 and 1997.
Millennials are very different than any generation that has come before them. They are highly social—you can find them on several social media platforms, which they carry with them constantly on their smartphones. They are also becoming more aware than previous generations—they are more suspicious of marketing efforts than others, and they don’t trust brands very easily.
However, when they do trust a brand, they tend to be very loyal. In fact, they want to give their money to brands with which they identify. 68% of Millennials say that they are more likely to buy from a brand that is mindful of social issues. 58% even say they would be willing to pay a higher price if the company is helping causes they support.
Top Online Consumer Trends to Watch in 2017
1. Social Shopping
Social media has changed every other aspect we knew about life, so it’s no surprise that it’s changing the way we shop online, either. In 2011, social commerce was only around $5 billion. In 2015, it had expanded to over $30 billion. This is part of the omnichannel revolution in eCommerce, and it is part of the mobile revolution.
Online shopping is all about convenience. Consumers want to be able to shop wherever they are, and, now, that is becoming more specific. No longer are consumers okay with going to three or four different sources to buy something. They want to buy from exactly where they are. And, where is that? Social media.
Shopify has released “Buy Now” buttons for Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Instagram is testing direct shopping in their app. Consumers don’t want to be directed to your landing page—they want to be able to shop in their social apps. If eCommerce merchants want to reach consumers where they are in 2017, they need to start looking into social commerce as a real and viable business channel.
2. Reviews and Content
One downfall for eCommerce merchants is that, no matter what you do, potential customers will never be able to see or touch your product before they buy. In order to overcome this, retailers need to provide as much information about the product as possible.
You need to provide unique and compelling content for your products, but don’t expect consumers just to take your word for it. Think about it: 70% of consumers do research online before purchasing. They want to see what others have to say about a product or service. Make sure you include ratings, reviews, and other user-generated content in your product descriptions.
3. Mobile Payments
In 2017, you are going to see the beginning of the end of cash and wallets. Why carry that around when you can just use your smartphone or wearable technology to pay for things? With Apple and Android Pay, more and more consumers are going to be turning to mobile payments. PayPal does more than 14 billion dollars in mobile payments a year.
Sure, at the moment, mobile payment usage is relatively low, but there are several reasons for that. Yes, consumers are still worried about safety and security, and they might not see the big value yet, but another problem is that many retailers don’t accept it.
But that is about to change. 75% of retailers say they plan on incorporating Apple Pay by the end of 2017. With more and more retailers offering mobile payments, you can expect the number of users to increase as well. 81% of the population now says that they are aware of mobile payment, and 46% say they would try it if offered.
4. Artificial Intelligence
While artificial intelligence might seem like something from a scary sci-fi movie, it’s really not all that scary. You probably don’t realize how much artificial intelligence you encounter on a daily basis. It’s been around for a while, and it’s starting to seep into more and more devices. How do you think those assistants in our phones work? That’s right—artificial intelligence.
In 2017, expect to see a higher acceptance of artificial intelligence. With it becoming more mainstream, people are going to expect to see it more. One place you can expect to see AI is in chat bots. These use AI to decipher what customers need and then guide them. They can answer questions, point customers in the right direction, engage with them, and even help with checkout. Take a look at Spring’s Springbot or TacoBell’s Tacobot to see some pretty good examples of chat bots.
5. Instant Gratification
People today have less patience than ever before. That’s probably what happens when you grow up surrounded by technology and social media. That’s something you need to take into consideration. This generation has grown up with instant response as a baseline. They aren’t going to wait around for days; they want what they want now. You have to be able to provide that in today’s market.
One area where you really see this play out is shipping. Younger buyers do not want to wait 4-7 days for something to ship. Even though they don’t want to have to go to a store, they still want their products ASAP. You can thank Amazon Prime for really catapulting shipping with their same-day delivery. I mean, you can order something from Amazon and have it be on your doorstep in 2 hours. It doesn’t get much better than that.
However, that’s not really feasible for most eCommerce merchants, yet you do need to up your shipping game. If your shipping takes over 4 days, you need to rethink that, in 2017, before you start losing sales.
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Ronald Dod is the Chief Marketing Officer and Co-founder of Visiture, an end-to-end eCommerce marketing agency focused on helping online merchants acquire more customers through the use of search engines, social media platforms, marketplaces, and their online storefronts. His passion is helping leading brands use data to make more effective decisions in order to drive new traffic and conversions.
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