You can’t deny that 2012 is quickly coming to an end and it has been another record-breaking year for e-commerce. More businesses than ever before are now Online in one way or another and more and more retail businesses are making the connection to the e-tail arena as a way of further offering their products to a wider more tech savvy audience. As customer trends have changed, over the last few years, businesses have had to change too.
Which brings me on to my predictions for the E-commerce trends of 2013.I could be totally wrong but I think I have been around long enough now to make some pretty accurate predictions around the direction E-commerce in the new year will take. I have compiled a list of my top five predictions with an explanation of each. I would love to hear your thoughts, whether you think I’m right, or wrong or if you think I have missed something out of my top five. Either way I want to hear your thoughts so please leave a message in the comments below.
1. Further Mobile Integration
2012 really has been the year of Mobile (So far). Through both 2010 and 2011 spectators of the e-commerce industry were trying to predict when mobile would boom. iPhones were arguably the only true smartphone and as much as businesses were pushing apps and mobile sites the take up was slower than most had anticipated. 2012 has changed that, mobile is now massive in terms of e-commerce. I just saw a tweet from Michael Hann (@rocamike) at Channel Advisor who has said
“eBay saw $5 Billion of sales through Mobile in 2011. In 2012, it’s predicted to be $10 Billion”
There are two things at play here which are causing this trend. Adaptation of the hardware needed. Since the Samsung Galaxy and HTC counterparts joined the iPhone in the smart phone arena it has enabled more and more people to use the power of mobile. With the Galaxy S4 rumoured for spring 2013 and no doubt an Apple opening usually by Autumn 2013 this trend isn’t going away. More new models means cheaper old models becoming available to more of the market ready to get in on the smart phone action. Bringing an ever-increasing market to mobile commerce.
The second key point for me is marketing, I have just seen an Argos advert on TV advertising their new app where you can buy it on your phone and collect from your nearest store. But most importantly is e-mail marketing. More and more people are picking their emails up on their phones. This info-graphic from Litmus in June 2012 shows that for the first time ever, the iPhone mail client was the most used mail client, outperforming Microsoft Outlook. With a few well placed links in emails taking customers to mobile optimised websites it is now incredibly simple for a customer to buy something on their phone.
My prediction is this growth is going to continue. Be prepared to see the (re-)introduction of text message marketing. Put simply mobile still has a lot of growing room, and as more and more people feel comfortable buying on their phones it wouldn’t surprise me this time next year to see eBay predicting sales on mobile closer to $15 Billion if not more
2. eBay Re-assert Market Place Dominance
I am going to put my neck on the line a bit on this one. Seeing the changes that are coming to the eBay UK site sometime in early 2013, (You can watch the podcast on this here) I think eBay could very well set the new benchmark in terms of marketplace style. They have been accused in recent years of turning into an ‘Amazon’ style marketplace which has led many to class Amazon as the market leader in terms of Marketplace. I predict that all this is about to change. Unless Amazon are keeping a massive site overhaul under wraps (Very unlikely) then I think a lot of online shoppers are going to fall in love with eBay all over again. The concept includes showing customers a totally unique home page (called the feed) which adapts from your buying habits. This is bringing a much more personalised shopping experience to the web. Almost like walking into a department store and having a personal shopper who knows what you like, what you don’t and what budget you have. This is the next evolutionary step for online marketplaces and after seeing it in action I think after some initial uncertainty there will be a lot of love for the new eBay branding as well as look and feel of the site.
3. Increase in websites that Blog
Google are making it harder and harder for SEO companies to use their old techniques to manipulate their way to the top of page 1. Matt Cutts and Google have always stood by the fact that fresh, unique quality content is key to being relevant in Google’s eyes. The obvious way to do this is to blog. It forces fresh content on to the site and encourages fresh unique content. No doubt some will try to rehash other people’s material but largely if you keep to good blogging practices then you shouldn’t go too far wrong.
By businesses utilising blogs it will in turn give them a face or more of a personality for customers to interact with. Coupled with a good social media strategy it is going to make buying online a more personable experience than it has been before. I envisage this to play a large role for a lot of larger sellers in 2013 and this will then filter down to smaller sellers too.
4. Video content will finally boom for websites
I am predicting that 2013 will finally be the year for video content in e-commerce. A few businesses have dabbled in it but I am hoping for a mass uptake in it for 2013. The benefits of video content on your e-commerce website are huge, and there are too many for me to list in this article as it deserves one on its own. The fact is more and more businesses are realising the benefits not just in terms of SEO but also the humanising factor. People have always liked to buy from people especially over faceless brands, and the power of video content allows sellers to utilise that to their advantage. Video isn’t just restricted to product pages but also about us or even home pages can benefit from video content and I think this will become more of the norm in 2013
5. Re-target Marketing and Personalised experiences will take over
This again could really prove to be wishful thinking on my part, I know some businesses do re target marketing well but I am expecting this to become the norm in a much bigger way. It surprises me how much data that e-commerce businesses have access too but they just don’t use it in the most effective way. With the data that most businesses collect un-knowingly they can run very successful re-target marketing campaigns and this is what I believe a lot of businesses will realise in 2013.
This fits in with a larger prediction of a more Personalised shopping experience. I have already mentioned the new eBay which will offer an incredibly personal service, but this could also tie in nicely with mobile. A few years ago customers were incredibly touchy about receiving email marketing and carpeting it all as spam, however these days customers are much more open to receiving offers and deals on their phones. The natural progression for this is text messages. I have an article planned for an interesting Beta feature currently running on Amazon.com which heavily uses text message marketing and although this at first may be seen as phone spam, given time could it be the next step in a Personalised relationship between customer and seller? I think it very well could be.
What are your E-commerce predictions for 2013?
So there are my top 5 predictions for 2013. I look forward to coming back to this post in 12 months time to see how many, if any I got right. Like I said earlier I’d love to hear what you think will be the big trends in 2013, whether you agree or not please let us know what you think.