Blueport Picks Top E-Commerce Trends for 2017

Improving the online shopping experience will be crucial for retailers
February 16, 2017David Gill

Blueport5trendsFULLBOSTON-Mobile commerce, user-generated content, delivery improvements, augmented and virtual reality, and omnichannel experiences will reshape e-commerce this year, according to Blueport Commerce.

In an online article, Brooke Grief, the company’s senior content marketing specialist, outlined the top five e-commerce trends for 2017. First, Grief said, revenue from mobile commerce will increase by 50 percent this year and will expand beyond just making purchases. When consumers shop in a store they will increasingly use their mobile phones to complement their experience by comparing prices, taking photos and researching other products. This offers stores an opportunity to engage mobile shoppers during a purchase decision through smart digital marketing targeting and site optimization for organic search, Grief said.

Second, user-generated content will become crucial for retailers this year. Citing data from Social Annex, a provider of a marketing and customer loyalty program, Grief said more than 60 percent of shoppers seek out content such as reviews, photos and frequently asked questions before making a purchase.

“When consumers have a great experience, they are more likely to become brand advocates by posting photos and reviews on social networks,” Grief said. “Brands have to be aware of what is being said about their products and interact with the customers to show them, and their followers, that your brand cares about their experience.”

Third, expect retailers to put more resources toward speeding their deliveries. With the multitude of one-, two- and three-day delivery options available from retailers, consumers are becoming increasingly less patient about when their merchandise arrives. This will put added pressure on furniture retailers in particular, Grief said, given the physical size of the merchandise in many cases. “The best thing furniture retailers can do is focus on having items in stock and showing customers accurate times when they can pick up or expect delivery,” Grief said.

Fourth, augmented and virtual reality will increase their influence on e-commerce in 2017. Grief cited a prediction made by Pieter Aarts, CEO of Loft Inc., at the HFN Total Home Omnichannel Summit in November, saying that within the next two years, all smartphones will have built-in three-dimensional cameras to allow shoppers to take pictures of their homes for augmented reality shopping experiences. These images are well within the grasp of most retailers, Grief said. “All you need are high-quality images and measurements to create 3D images of your furniture that can be used in AR and VR experiences.”

Finally, retailers will continue to invest in expanding their omnichannel experiences and making them as convenient and seamless for consumers as possible. Look for pure-play online retailers to develop physical locations in order to create a well-rounded omnichannel experience, Grief said. “These locations aren’t necessarily ‘stores’ but a location where shoppers can experience the brand, ask questions and become familiar with products without being approached by salespeople,” she said.

“The moral of the story: e-commerce is evolving because shoppers are evolving,” Grief said. “These trends stem from customers’ expectations for fast, consistent, easy shopping experiences across all retail segments.”

David GillDavid Gill | Senior Editor
dgill@hfnmag.com

David Gill covers home textiles, small electrics housewares, personal-care products, cleaning products, mattresses, consumer electronics and major appliances. He also reports on retailers and writes about the business and financial side of both vendors and retailers. He has more than 30 years of experience in business journalism, and has worked for other publications and websites that cover consumer products from both the manufacturer and retailer sides. His outside interests include sports (he is a big fan of the New York teams and of British soccer), cooking, movies and theater. He occasionally enjoys a good cigar as well.

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