Dix tendances eCommerce pour 2017
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These days, 51% of Americans prefer to shop online rather than in stores—a figure that jumps to 67% for Millennials and 56% for Gen Xers. According to some experts, online sales will increase from $335 billion in 2015 to $523 billion in 2020, a rise of 9.32% per year, although the current annual growth rate is actually 14%.

As these figures suggest, retailers need to fully embrace digital commerce in order to thrive; stores without an online presence are destined to disappear. Today’s consumer owns several devices—smartphone, tablet, computer—and expects an online shopping experience that’s quick, easy, and, above all, user friendly.

As one of North America’s top eCommerce agencies with numerous clients such as Stokes, DAVIDsTEA, La Vie en Rose, Birks & Mayors, SAIL, Souris Mini, and Structube, to name just a few, Absolunet has a front row seat when it comes to eCommerce innovations. We’ve identified 10 eCommerce trends to watch for in 2017—important developments that companies need to take into consideration to ensure their online and in-store sales growth.

01

The End of Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Hello, Cyber November

Even though consumers will spend more than US$400 billion on retail purchases in November (compared to $363 billion in November 2012), Black Friday and Cyber Monday will no longer signal the start of the holiday shopping season; instead, they’ll now be part of an entire shopping season that will kick off in early November, hence the name “Cyber November.”

01

According to Google, 40% of Canadian consumers start their holiday shopping before Halloween and 88% of retailers in the United States start advertising sales in the first week of November.

Retailers would benefit from spreading their promotions out over an entire month, making adjustments along the way, instead of betting it all on just one weekend. Logistics would be easier to manage, not to mention that they’d avoid the headaches related to the hordes of shoppers that can grind some stores – online or physical - to a halt during Black Friday weekend.

stokes

Canadian housewares retailer Stokes prepares its holiday season well in advance and Cyber November plays a big role in its 2016 strategy: a pre-shopping contest launched in late October will invite users to create a wishlist which they can win. This will enable the retailer to get a better idea of customer interest and intent, which it can then reactivate throughout Cyber November with theme-driven offers that are increasingly attractive. The user will enjoy an evolving experience that will culminate on Cyber Monday.

stokes
stokes
stokes

Canadian housewares retailer Stokes prepares its holiday season well in advance and Cyber November plays a big role in its 2016 strategy: a pre-shopping contest launched in late October will invite users to create a wishlist which they can win. This will enable the retailer to get a better idea of customer interest and intent, which it can then reactivate throughout Cyber November with theme-driven offers that are increasingly attractive. The user will enjoy an evolving experience that will culminate on Cyber Monday.

With 35.7% of Black Friday sales in 2015, Amazon is still the online retail benchmark. In 2016, the market leader officially launched its "Black Friday" sales site on November 1st as a “countdown to Black Friday” angle is used, followed by the online retailer’s “Cyber Monday Deals Week”. Amazon is expected to run increasingly attractive promotions that are available only for a limited time or in limited quantities, or to a specific group (special offers for Prime members, for example), and refresh its eCommerce offering on a daily basis while creating a sense of urgency for the entire period, rather than just two days. By extending the sale period and taking advantage of the wide range of products sold through its platform, Amazon is able to respond quickly to trends and adjust its offer, inventory, and promotions.

amazon
amazon

With 35.7% of Black Friday sales in 2015, Amazon is still the online retail benchmark. In 2016, the market leader officially launched its "Black Friday" sales site on November 1st as a “countdown to Black Friday” angle is used, followed by the online retailer’s “Cyber Monday Deals Week”. Amazon is expected to run increasingly attractive promotions that are available only for a limited time or in limited quantities, or to a specific group (special offers for Prime members, for example), and refresh its eCommerce offering on a daily basis while creating a sense of urgency for the entire period, rather than just two days. By extending the sale period and taking advantage of the wide range of products sold through its platform, Amazon is able to respond quickly to trends and adjust its offer, inventory, and promotions.

amazon
02

Real-Time Customization

A dynamic shopping experience that adapts to the shopper in real-time

Just as search results differ from one person to the next, 2017 will see the emergence of an online shopping experience that is unique to each consumer.

02

Each shopper will have access to unique content: product recommendations and add-ons chosen based on their preferences, geographic location, market trends, demographic group, past purchases, and brand interactions—all completely automatically. Even better, their next visit will be entirely different because it will be based on the previous one and on the merchant’s current promotions.

While this could seem a little intrusive, the opposite is actually true: no more weird recommendations that seem to come out of left field. With platforms like Monetate, Magento 2, or Sitecore, they’ll be replaced with relevant recommendations and search results that are based on the customer’s recent online activity and brand interactions—like walking into a store where the salespeople know your name and what you like.

L'oreal

L’Oréal Paris has designed five diagnostic tools: skincare, cosmetics (face and eyes), haircare, and hair color. These beauty diagnostics, typically operated on a mobile device, allow consumers to “try on” different shades of make-up, “scan” their hair color, etc. Not only can consumers use these tools to play with different looks in real time, but the data collected during each session allows for an unprecedented level of personalization of communications and interactions, not to mention ultra-customized discount coupons, which can have a major influence on purchasing decisions.

03

Data-as-a-Service and eCommerce

Endless aisles and the perfect fit

If 92% of Internet users regularly read product reviews and comments from other buyers, it’s because uncertainty is a huge obstacle to online purchasing. The more information there is available about a product (pictures, reviews, descriptions, specifications, etc.), the less reluctant people will be to buy it online. However, constantly refreshing the information on each individual product on a website is a near-impossible task for any merchant who doesn’t have esque resources.

03

In 2017, many retailers will start working with data aggregators that compile data on millions of products: pictures, descriptions, price comparisons, specifications, UPC codes, reviews, and comments. There are even aggregators that contain data on millions of pieces of clothing that can be used to suggest the perfect size! A merchant will be able to link its site to these databases to automatically update product information. Say goodbye to uncertainty and to poor product descriptions!

In the clothing and footwear industry, several brands and retailers are using the TrueFit data aggregator, which currently works with over 400 clothing and shoe brands to provide shoppers with the perfect-sized garment based on their current wardrobe and measurements.

Etilize is a product information aggregator specialized in home electronics that and provides structured and standardized data on nearly 2 million products. A retailer can synchronize its website with Etilize’s database to almost instantly broaden its service offering and to ensure the validity of the information on each product including product images, owner manuals, specs, dimensions; even the manufacturer’s links to compatible accessories. Product information is available in 20 languages adapted for 30 countries.

04

Hello, Artificial Intelligence

Consumers will interact with artificial intelligence… and they’ll love it!

04

In 2017, many consumers will have their first interaction with a chatbot, a fully automated chat agent that will answer their questions and act as the first point of contact with the brand. A chatbot increases the number of platforms on which a brand can transact by offering guided, interactive browsing at all times.

Chatbots will soon become as commonplace as automated phone systems, only much more interactive and interesting. At the same time, store sales staff will become more important than ever, as they’ll be increasingly involved in the online experience.

What are the potential impacts of a chatbot on eCommerce?
Live chat users spend an average of 5%-30% more.
The buyer conversion rate is 5 to 10 times higher following a chat session.

Fast food chain Taco Bell unveiled its TacoBot on the popular messaging platform Slack, which allows customers to order food by messaging TacoBot, which asks all the right questions.

H&M, Sephora, and Victoria’s Secret have all recently introduced chatbots on the Kik platform.

Burger King and Pizza Hut customers can order food directly through Facebook Messenger and Twitter by messaging the restaurant chains’ bots.

The fun and interactive CELEB STYLE chatbot analyzes celebrity looks and tells consumers where they can purchase each wardrobe item.

L’Oréal Canada has been diligently preparing for automated interactions, including studying potential questions and answers, which has been ongoing for the better part of the past year. Leaving nothing to chance, the beauty giant is monitoring the evolution of messaging platforms and their potential for both commercial and customer service applications, especially when combining chatbots with artificial intelligence.

Platforms to watch: With 300 million downloads, the Kik chat app is used by close to 40% of U.S. teens, who prefer this form of communication. Other major players include Facebook Messenger (1 billion users!), Slack, WhatsApp, ChatFuel, and many others.

05

Bye-Bye Wallet

The beginning of the end for the wallet and cash

Consumers these days can already make many purchases and transactions without ever taking out their wallets.

05

The upgrades to consumers’ mobile devices and merchants’ point-of-sale systems will spell the end of the traditional wallet for many people in 2017, especially since “mobile” payments will be possible using more than just a smart phone—watches, rings, and other devices and “wearables” will now be connected and capable of making payments. Merchants would be wise to set themselves up to accept these new payment methods as soon as possible.

In 2016, through a partnership with BMO, MasterCard announced the launch of “selfie pay,” a service that confirms a user’s identity using biometrics, in particular, using a self-portrait commonly called a “selfie.” While the service is currently used to verify online purchases, its potential uses for cashless transactions are plain to see.

Kit and Ace stores, sellers of minimalist and technical apparel, do not accept cash payments and have no actual cash registers. Each one of their 54 locations, including 23 in the U.S. and 10 in Canada, is equipped to accept mobile and credit card payments, but no actual money.

During the Rio Olympic Games, VISA gave its sponsored athletes a payment ring that allowed them to make purchases at some 4,500 points of sale at the Olympic venues by tapping the NFC-enabled ring on the payment terminals.

06

The Snapchat-ization of Shopping

Real-time commerce in a hyper-localized era

Gen Y and Z consumers are hooked on the instant communication and unique experiences made possible by mobile technologies, RFID, NFC, and geolocation. In parallel, analytics will shift from the Web to the street; from the computer to the individual.

06

Merchants can now rely on sensors—stationary technology that can detect nearby devices and items—to enhance their offer and create real-time “happenings” for which the experience, content, or promotion is available only to the people who are there at the time. Retailers are no longer selling only products and services, they are providing experiences and interactions, a fact that major brands will exploit in increasingly innovative ways.

Sail

Canadian outdoor retailer SAIL decided to test Facebook’s new local features by designing a Drive-to-store campaign which was entirely initiated on digital platforms. Finally able to measure the in-store impact of a digital campaign, SAIL ran an A/B test and by the end of the campaign, noted that nearly 58% of the customers in the store with a Facebook account had seen and/or interacted with the campaign, a big first step towards the hyper-localization of interactions between the brand and its customers.

The Walgreens app allows users to renew their prescriptions by scanning the bottle or box, but more than that, the app changes when customers are NEAR a store and then again when they’re IN the store, offering exclusive features in each situation, leveraging the “context aware” features made possible by mobile. The largest pharmacy chain in the United States is pulling out all the stops and taking full advantage of mobile technology to make life easier and better for its customers.

Walgreen
07

Predictive Analysis

Accurately predicting the customer’s next purchase

Predictive analysis is a technology that’s quickly gaining popularity with merchants. By exploiting the massive amount of data (Big Data) collected through interactions and customer profiles or personas, merchants can use predictive analysis to better understand consumers’ purchasing habits, preferences, and, yes, even their next purchases, based on the behavior of other customers with similar profiles.

07

This technology, available on certain eCommerce platforms (AgilOne, Emcien, Windsor Circle, Rich Relevance, etc.), promises to be very lucrative for retailers, but even more so in the B2B sector, where orders are larger and sales cycles are often more laborious.

Davids tea

AgilOne helped DAVIDsTEA realize that a new customer who didn’t return within 30 days was lost. By segmenting their customers by purchase type and creating a sampling for each group, the company was able to optimize its email communications in order to confirm purchasing trends in advance, in some cases doubling their regular conversions by offering the right customer (1) the right product (2) in the right way (3) and at the right time (4). They are able to predict their consumers’ behavior and adjust their offer seasonally. The analytical approach led to an increase in the number of new customers who make a second purchase within 30 days.

Launched in 2015, the SAQ - Quebec’s liquor store’s Inspire card is a loyalty program that not only gives the government corporation better insight into its customers’ purchasing habits, but also more information about their tastes and preferences; qualitative AND quantitative. Armed with that wealth of information, the SAQ can then determine the probability of a customer purchasing certain products in certain situations, and can ultimately create unique, personalized promotions for each customer. In other words, the Inspire card can not only predict a customer’s next wine purchase but could also, with enough information, recommend the perfect bottle of wine.

SAQ
08

The Uber-ization of Shipping

Smaller stores, local drop-off points and same-day delivery

08

While the “big box” model continues to lose ground, eCommerce, and especially online retail orders, continues to grow, bringing with it both challenges and opportunities related to logistics and delivery. In 2017, many consumers will receive their first same-day delivery, whether at home, at work, or at a drop-off point of their choosing.

Many stores will now operate out of smaller spaces, which will serve as showrooms, fitting rooms, or drop-off points. Customers will be able to order the product they want after having seen it and touched it.

Amazon offers free same-day delivery with any purchase over $35 to its “Prime” members in 27 cities across the United States. In Canada, same-day delivery is now available in Toronto and Vancouver.

In addition to working on same-day delivery agreements with Uber and Lyft, Walmart is even exploring the idea of having a customer who makes an in-store purchase drop off another customer’s order on his way home.

Walmart is also investing in smaller stores in order to expand its reach. It would make sense for these stores to become delivery points for online purchases where customers could also pick up everyday essentials like paper towels, dish soap, perishable foods, etc.

IKEA opened six drop-off points in Canada this year in order to serve new markets. Customers make their purchases online and then pick up their order at one of the drop-off points.

Czech online retailer Zoot delivers items purchased online to a physical location within a few hours. Consumers can try on clothes and keep only the pieces they like.

Macy’s, a leading omni-channel retailer, plans to give Amazon a run for its money. The “ship from store” option will transform any Macy’s store into an order processing center, giving them 775 locations to ship from, compared to Amazon’s 66.

09

Unified Commerce

Merging commerce with eCommerce

Unified commerce is the next logical step in the omni-channel strategy (see last year’s eCommerce trends): the centralization of IT infrastructures. Instead of adding a digital storefront to the in-store infrastructure, merchants will instead integrate their stores (physical or digital) into a centralized infrastructure.

09

With platforms such as Magento’s Commerce Order Management (MCOM), which centralizes all systems and gives access to them in real time, retailers can now offer consumers an unprecedented amount of freedom. The timing of this development couldn’t be better, with consumers now expecting to be able to search for, interact with, purchase, receive or pick up, and return products wherever and whenever they want. They’ll spend their money with merchants who will let them make purchases whenever it’s convenient for them, and not the other way around.

“The consumer doesn’t see a difference between an online store, a physical store, and interacting with a company on Facebook; he’s dealing with a whole brand and not just its parts.”
Charles Desjardins, Absolunet associate
Structube

Canadian furniture retailer Structube tripled its online sales after adding the “ship to the store of your choice” feature, an additional delivery option that helped to seal the deal for many customers. Strongly inspired by the physical stores, the online store blends in seamlessly with company operations and logistics—as well as the spirit of the brand—to offer a unified omni-channel experience.

Frankfurt Airport, which sees 61 million passengers every year, introduced a technological infrastructure that unifies all of its merchants into a centralized shopping experience. This allows the customer to pre-order from any duty-free store or combination of stores and/or airport restaurant while still in the air, on site, in a taxi on the way to the airport - even the day before travelling. More impressive still is that the new infrastructure is compatible with the many technological platforms and ERP systems that were already place.

Francfort
10

Disintermediation

Buyers want to deal directly with brands

Millennials want to deal directly with the brands, so it’s only natural that the relationship between end users and brands is becoming less circuitous. These same brands and manufacturers will pull out all the stops to make the sale with the end user (Direct-to-consumer or D2C), to the detriment of their traditional distribution channels, the distributors and merchants.

10

Conversely, distributors and merchants will attempt to cement their relationship with the customer by becoming indispensable and by offering added value: warranties, complementary services and, of course, independence from the brands. This trend, called disintermediation, will take hold in both B2C and B2B commerce, where automated processes and CRM systems are being used more than ever to maintain relationships and to simplify the ordering process.

Canada Goose, the iconic Arctic luxury brand, opened two stores in fall 2016 in order to control the customer experience and brand interactions from beginning to end.

AliExpress, the B2C marketplace of Chinese giant Alibaba, allows manufacturers to deal directly with end buyers all over the world thanks to a standardized eCommerce and logistics platform.

Absolunet’s

10 eCommerce trends for 2017

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