2017 was some year, huh?
This is the best time of year to look back at the ecommerce highlights and trends of 2017 to see what worked and what didn’t. Some of these trends won’t surprise you, they were predicted to be big. Whether you have heard about them, or they are new to you, these trends will provide valuable insights into what 2018 might bring.
The Growth of Mobile Commerce
Mobile shopping continued to grow in 2017 – rather significantly. The majority of ecommerce website traffic was attributed to smartphones and tablets. In some industries, it’s estimated that as much as 65% of online traffic originated on mobile devices. There were over $2 BILLION worth of purchases made on mobile devices on Cyber Monday!
While the desktop traffic still outperforms mobile for conversions and sales, mobile buying is gaining traction. In 2017, ecommerce purchases made on mobile devices approached the 50% mark.
Many ecommerce business owners already have responsive websites that make it easy for mobile shoppers to buy products. To generate more sales in 2018, add convenient touches like defaulting to the right mobile device keyboard, offering Apple Pay/Google Wallet/PayPal options, and autofill functionality.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
The increase in Artificial Intelligence (AI) use and machine learning to automate merchandising and marketing was a key trend in 2017. Online retailers are savvier than ever and investing more in technology to help streamline their businesses. The ecommerce industry has taken advantage of various AI innovations. One example of this trend is search and merchandising tools. These features provide a more personalized experience for customers searching for products on an online store via predictive learning functionality.
More chatbots, real-time analytics, voice activated devices, and systems that detect payment fraud, made AI one of the biggest trends in 2017, and growth is expected to continue in 2018.
Non-Type Search Function
In 2017, many customers searched for products using their voice. In fact, voice command searches reached nearly 20% of all mobile searches. Products like Amazon’s Echo are now installed in more than 10 million U.S. homes and it performs 12,000 skills. Additionally, Google’s voice recognition software reached the 95% mark for accuracy.
Increased Online Brand Engagement
2017 was a year that saw a huge increase in ecommerce brand engagement. Facebook timelines are now browsable storefronts and emails are used as curated storefront collections.
This increased engagement across social media channels and email has resulted in more transparency, improved product quality, and better customer service. Customer expectations from ecommerce brands increased significantly last year, and many online merchants rose to the occasion by offering simplified access to online channels and more efficient customer service response times.
Increase in Customer-Centric Marketing Strategies
Along with the expectations of improved brand engagement, the focus on customer engagement also rose in 2017. Ecommerce retailers recognized the importance of their shoppers input for the evolution of their products and customer experience.
The year showed a growing number of major ecommerce merchants setting new standards for the customer experience. More retailers than ever before are striving to create customer-centric marketing strategies.
Amazon Set the Bar
How Amazon is viewed in relation to marketing changed in 2017. It is fast becoming the number one product search engine – ahead of Google. That makes the online marketplace a key sales channel, and it means that more marketers are looking for ways to take advantage of it as a marketing platform. Additionally, marketing groups are looking at Amazon’s merchandising technique to make their own companies more profitable.
The end-to-end service that Amazon provides, from how short a time it takes from order to delivery, to its cross-device flexibility, made it the most attractive online marketplace in 2017.
Amazon set the bar high regarding customer expectations, and some online retailers are struggling to keep up.
Be Ready to Increase Customer Engagement in 2018
2017 was an exciting year for the ecommerce industry. We saw huge leaps in brand and customer engagement. Retailers learned the importance of making connections with their shoppers, being consistent with branding across all channels and devices, and improving efficiency with AI.
In 2018, expect these trends to continue, with an emphasis on providing online shoppers value that extends far beyond the quality of products. Tomorrow’s ecommerce buyers will look for a way to connect and become part of a community.