The one constant you can count on in eCommerce is that everything changes. Running a successful eCommerce site means staying one step ahead of the next trend that will shake up your business.
Here are 10 eCommerce stats from 2017 to keep an eye on as we head into 2018.
1. ECommerce Sales Growth Remains Strong
By the end of 2017, it’s predicted that eCommerce sales will have increased by 13% over 2016. Research predicts that online sales will continue to gain market share year over year, growing from just under 13% of retail sales in 2017 to 17% by 2022.
Almost everyone in the US who can get onto the internet has made an online purchase at some point in time. Eighty percent of them have made a purchase in the last 30 days, showing that eCommerce has become a part of daily life for the majority of Americans. More than half of those surveyed prefer online shopping to visiting a retail outlet. These trends are even stronger among younger demographics, so the market share of eCommerce is bound to grow.
2. Brick-and-Mortar Retail Continues to Crumble
That brings us to our second trend: the continuing collapse of brick-and-mortar retail. The Atlantic called 2017 a “meltdown” year for traditional US retail, citing nine bankruptcies of major retail brands (on top of another nine in 2016) and hundreds of store closures.
One major driver of this trend is a growing acceptance of eCommerce as a way to purchase in expanded categories of merchandise. Even products that used to seem immune to online competition, such as large furniture and eyeglasses, are feeling the pressure from eCommerce competitors.
3. Online Research Integral to Consumer Decision Making
One of the factors driving more consumers to online purchases may be a new model for shopping. Even when they plan to buy in-store, more than 80% of shoppers conduct online research. This places buyers in an eCommerce setting where savvy online sellers can snag a purchase before the consumer ever gets to the store.
While websites are still king when it comes to research (close to three quarters researched purchases on the web), social media and mobile apps are up-and-coming research venues, used by more than a third of consumers before they buy.
4. Rising Demand for Same-Day Shipping
More than three-quarters of online shoppers would like their orders shipped the same day. Almost two-thirds would like to receive products within hours of ordering. What customers don’t want: to be charged for this extra convenience. Less than a third of consumers surveyed were willing to pay more for faster delivery.
These wishes may provide a competitive advantage for the big players in eCommerce. Amazon now offers same-day delivery on certain items and others, such as Google Express, are scrambling to offer the service as well. Many brick-and-mortar stores are leveraging their physical locations to offer same-day pickup of online orders at a nearby store.
Smaller eCommerce businesses can stay ahead of this trend by partnering with a fulfillment provider that can offer your business the speed and convenience of the big players.
5. The Drones Are Coming
Someday in the near future, your customer could place an order online and receive it within a few hours, courtesy of a drone. While drones won’t be flying cross-country with packages tied to their bellies anytime soon, they are poised to speed up the last-mile delivery of a range of products.
The important number to remember here is 30 minutes. That’s how long it could take a drone to make a last-mile delivery, even at rush hour.
There are expected to be 600,000 commercial drones in use by 2018, and almost half of Americans would be willing to receive deliveries by drone. Drone delivery could help eCommerce companies fulfill their customers’ desire for ever faster delivery.
6. Mobile ECommerce Pays Off
Historically, there has been a big disconnect between the amount of time consumers spend browsing on their mobile devices and their willingness to make purchases on a phone or tablet. A 2015 survey showed customers spending almost 60% of their online shopping time on their mobile devices. That translated to only 15% of purchases made on mobile.
While mobile accounted for less than 12% of eCommerce sales in 2014, Business Insider predicts that it will increase to account for nearly half of dollars spent by 2020, as concerns about security and convenience are addressed.
7. Voice-Controlled Devices Take Over the World
2017 was the year that virtual assistant devices like Amazon’s Echo (aka Alexa) busted out. Amazon reports that Echo sales increased by 700% in 2017 over 2016, and competing devices proliferated.
Add the millions of standalone virtual assistants to apps, like Apple’s Siri, and you can see why it’s predicted that half of all internet searches will be done by voice within a few years. Optimizing your keywords for natural language phrases and even longer long-tail keywords will help your eCommerce site rank in voice searches in coming years.
8. Voice Command Shopping Becomes a Thing
Almost 60% of people who own a virtual assistant have used it to make a purchase through voice command. Despite rumors that Siri would enable online shopping starting in 2012, the most that users can do by voice on an iPhone is create a shopping list.
The Echo has the advantage of existing within Amazon’s ecosystem, so a user can make a request, and Alexa will reorder based on the last order. Voice command shopping could tighten the hold that Amazon has on the online marketplace.
9. Personalization Drive ECommerce Growth
Does your website recognize returning customers? More than half of consumers are more likely to shop with you if you give them a warm greeting. If you recommend products that you think they would like and remember their buying history with you, there’s an even greater chance that they will buy from you.
Adding a personal touch to your eCommerce customer service is a great way to increase sales in 2018.
10. Consumers Love Chatbots
Chatbots — the little boxes that bounce onto your screen when you visit a website — are becoming more widespread. Almost half of consumers list live chat as their preferred way to connect, and about the same number say they would buy from a chatbot.
If you’ve noticed more chatbots recently, it’s because the technology has improved and they have become increasingly easy for even small businesses to install and maintain. Adding a chatbot to provide immediate answers to user questions could be a good investment in the future of your online store.
Jake Rheude is the Director of Business Development for Red Stag Fulfillment, an eCommerce fulfillment warehouse that was born out of eCommerce. He has years of experience in eCommerce and business development. In his free time, Jake enjoys reading about business and sharing his own experience with others.