The U.S. currently has too many shopping malls. Studies have shown that the country has 24 feet of retail space per capita. However, it seems as if the retail bubble has burst and it’s now time for e-commerce to step forward and fill in the vacuum to satisfy the consumers’ compulsive need to shop.
Below are just some of the e-commerce trends to look out for in 2017:
1. The Rise of the (Chat)Bots
With Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft releasing new updates on their chatbots, other companies are sitting up and taking notice. Chatbots are slowly taking over the customer service aspect of these brands’ technical support. This year will see e-commerce fully embracing this innovation. Complaints, follow-up for orders, as well as real-time engagement, will make the shopping experience better for the consumer. Some chatbots do have avatars, which make them more fun and engaging, and may even take your order in real-time.
2. Death Knell for Brick-and-Mortar Stores?
The number of retail establishments and brick-and-mortar stores that have closed down since last year is staggering. According to a Credit Suisse report, more than 8,000 physical stores will cease operations in 2017 compared to just 2,000 in 2016.
More and more people are shopping online as e-commerce stores slowly perfect their systems. Logistics and shipping costs are declining, which also provide added incentives for consumers to just click away. More often than not, shipping costs are offset by gas and parking costs anyway.
3. Social Media As an Emerging Force
Facebook has been branding itself as the all-in-one platform for e-commerce companies. The use of social media to drive traffic to e-commerce sites is not new, but Facebook is making it even easier for brands to sell their products on social media with the Facebook Shop. Customers can also purchase products directly through Shopify, so they don’t even have to leave Facebook. If you’re looking to show off your products to potential customers, Facebook Live is a good platform to do so.
4. The Mad Scramble for Convenience
The main reason customers shop online is for convenience. They can shop in the comforts of their home, they don’t have to dress up or drive to the mall through heavy traffic. However, as the competition becomes stiffer, convenience takes on even greater importance. This is the reason why e-commerce stores will really have to invest in the architecture of their websites.
Lost revenue caused by incomplete transactions due to freezing websites reportedly amounted to $4 trillion. E-commerce sites need to cut the number of steps for their customers, from choosing the product, purchasing, and even delivery. There are just so many e-commerce stores out there who will gladly fill in the gap for businesses that fail to improve the convenience of their service.
5. Fast Delivery
Speaking of delivery, e-commerce sites now offer same-day shipping of their products as an added incentive to buy. In fact, you can add a surcharge and the customer won’t mind, at least according to this Forrester report, which states that customers are willing to pay more just so you can deliver the product on the same day they order it.
E-commerce stores will really have to step up their game if they don’t want to be left behind by this ever-changing trend. During the early days of e-commerce, you could afford to be complacent due to the monopoly of transactions. Now, it’s the consumers who are dictating the direction of the industry and online stores have no choice but to keep up with the pace.