There are lots of predictions being made for the year ahead so I've pulled together my suggestions for the future of e-commerce in 2013.
1. Site traffic will continue to increase
As more and more people use internet connected devices, the number of visits to online stores will grow in 2013. Consequently (based on the assumption that conversion rates remain the same or improve) the overall amount of money taken online over the year should increase too.
2. The number and range of online retailers will grow
Getting a site set-up and running has become increasingly easier… the number of smaller / niche retailers selling their products online will continue to grow. Nowadays you don’t need a huge technology budget to get started with e-commerce and barriers are diminishing.
3. Mobile e-commerce will continue to bloom
The impact of increased usage of mobile devices will be evident in where retailers choose to spend their development budgets with more choosing to focus on mobile and tablet specific sites. Nearly every website has seen traffic from smart phones and tablets in 2012 and this is set to increase therefore retailers will respond to accommodate.
I don’t see that the concept of responsive design (a single site that automatically resizes and realigns itself to the specific screen resolution) will take off in 2013 for e-commerce sites, but we may see this in the more innovative ‘brochure-ware’ sites.
4. Regional e-commerce will mature
Although online transactions supposedly don’t have any geographical restrictions, it is still typical to see companies in & around major cities more readily adopting e-commerce. A number of retailers in the more remote regions have yet to take advantage of online
opportunity. So… as the general level of e-commerce increases, this will have a sweeping effect across all geographic regions with confidence in the online arena growing.
5. Average order value drops
Perhaps a bit of a strange thing to predict, but it’s my belief that even though the amount of online transactions will increase in 2013, the average order value (AOV) will decrease by the end of the year.
Why? Well, there are two angles.
Firstly, as mobile usage increases… more transactions will be done via mobile/tablet but with a smaller number of items per order. Users are increasingly comfortable making mobile transactions but by the nature of mobile, it will be for convenience and therefore a shorter interaction. Comparing it to bricks and mortar stores, shoppers are less likely to do a large weekly shopping at a late night convenience store.
Secondly, as the use of mobile devices increase they will be used by a wider range of shoppers from varying income brackets. This will change the profile of your average shopper and move away from the early adopters who tend to be higher income/higher spend.
6. Multi-channel focus on the customer
Rather than just being another way to sell more stuff quicker, larger retailers with both e-commerce functionality and physical locations will look at the overall customer experience again in 2013. They will try to understand and improve the multi-channel customer journey to eventually deliver a truly joined-up and complete process that doesn’t just convert more customers, but retains them for longer as well.
7. Attribution becomes more than a concept
In 2013 we will see more e-commerce sites measuring the influence of each online marketing channel and an increased adoption of more complex attribution models. A recent study found that 74% of client-side digital marketers said they either carry out last click attribution only or don’t do any at all. This means that just over a quarter are starting to understand the value that certain in-direct acquisition efforts give (e.g. the effect that Social Media has in shaping purchase consideration, but not necessarily in delivering the final online transaction) and therefore that they could use their digital marketing spend in a more effective way.
Whatever your e-commerce plans are for 2013, I hope they turn out to be successful and profitable for you.