Desktop-driven ecommerce sales may be plateauing, but data from comScore shows that as a whole, online sales are booming. Sales from mobile devices are now leading the charge, with an annual growth rate (59%) that eclipses desktop (17%).
Ecommerce as a whole still seems to have plenty of space to grow before it hits a ceiling. Online retail still only makes up approximately 12% of total retail sales. This percentage continues to creep up year after year, though, with record-shattering shopping figures and new mobile trends providing shoppers with more accessibility, flexibility and security when it comes to purchasing products.
As we approach 2018 and what the future holds for digital merchants, it’s crucial to reflect and assess the ecommerce trends that have defined 2017 so far. More and more merchants are boasting omni-channel presences to reach buyers online, offline and on-the-go. Meanwhile, the importance of speedy shipping, social engagement and a lack of hidden fees remain paramount for high-performing retailers online.
But what will define digital merchants after the New Year? Let’s take a look at three current trends that will continue to transform the ecommerce landscape in 2018 and beyond.
A Rising Influx of Mobile Shoppers
Just as smartphone usage and sales continue to tick upward, mobile shopping is likewise expected to rise. Mobile devices currently account for 19% of all ecommerce sales in the United States; however, the figure is projected to rise to 27% by the end of 2018, according to an Invesp report.
This influx of mobile shoppers also presents new challenges to merchants, though. Considering that traditional desktops still outperform mobile devices when it comes to conversion rates, ecommerce brands are clearly need all the help they can get to close sales with mobile users.
The Boom of B2B Ecommerce
Although ecommerce is often discussed under the B2C lens, let’s not neglect the steady growth within the B2B space.
Projected to surpass $1 trillion in total sales by 2020, there’s no denying that B2B ecommerce still represents rocky territory for many brands. As merchants continue to iron out the finer details of pricing schemes, bulk shipping and quoting customers, streamlining the purchasing process remains a top priority for B2B ecommerce brands moving forward.
Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) platform FPX, for example, helps to take the complexities of the B2B buyer’s journey and turn proposal request processes into a self-service endeavor. Instead of expecting sales prospects to leave their information for a custom quote or to receive follow up by phone, this tool allows site visitors to answer a series of questions that then feed into an algorithm to generate a personalized, instant proposal, so they can place orders on the spot.
More Prevalent Storefront Apps
In a response to the aforementioned challenge of appealing to mobile buyers, expect to see a new wave of mobile “storefront apps” to reach buyers on-the-go. This trend goes hand in hand with the need for merchants to have omnichannel presences, as well. Given that mobile users spend 86% of their time within apps versus mobile sites, perhaps branded native smartphone shopping apps are the key to converting those once-fickle customers.
After all, if a customer is willing to go through the effort of downloading a mobile app, chances are they’re loyal and trusting enough to make ongoing purchases. “App commerce” platform Poq recently found that storefront apps outperform mobile web conversion rates by 40%, support longer browsing sessions than even desktop web browsers and are twice as likely to drive repeat visits. This all makes sense given the game-changing functionalities that storefront apps offer, which include superior content personalization opportunities, push notifications and geolocation-integrated brick-and-mortar shopping recommendations.
Poq’s compelling solution, for one, offers a centralized content management system that merchants and marketers can use as a unified data hub that uses an API to automatically sync with analytics platforms, payment gateways, customer review platforms and more.
Defining Ecommerce for 2018 and Beyond
Nobody can truly predict the future in regard to ecommerce. However, these current trends will continue to heavily influence the space for the time being.
Regardless of what merchants might be selling, it’s clear that no shopping brand can afford to rest on its laurels. Just as ecommerce is constantly evolving to keep up with the demands and desires of consumers, so should merchants.
Rotem Gal is VP of Marketing at Inbound Junction