Every industry has its avant-garde trendsetters and its endless masses of imitators. And things are no different in the world of e-commerce. We can usually see what’s coming – yet we still wait to make our move. You just never know for sure. And as the saying goes, better safe than sorry.
Yet there are some very clear trends that will continue to intensify – and which will also prevail.
1. “Big Data” is becoming “Huge Data”.
Does the term zettabyte ring a bell? Hard to imagine, but that’s one billion terabytes of data. In the next couple of years, the volume of data on the Internet will reach about 30 zettabytes. Intelligent systems have no problems analyzing this information with precision and putting together exactly the packages of data needed by online marketers or merchants. The customer of the future is no longer simply “see-through”. Rather, the Internet practically knows more about him than he does about himself. And this arouses greediness because everyone wants to exploit this knowledge. Needless to say, this is especially true in business. In other words, those with access to information have everything they need to conduct successful business transactions, whether legal or illegal.
2. Shops are going straight to the customer. But not all are equally welcome.
Remember some time ago, when you typed “buy floral shirt” into Google while shopping for a shirt to wear to a party? Well, floral patterned shirts are now stalking you on every news portal, on Facebook, Amazon, YouTube and PostFinance, and you’re constantly receiving advertising e-mails for floral shirts. Google, Facebook, Zalando and Ricardo will, of course, reassure you that they are merely sending you personalized advertising. That you are only receiving offers for exactly the things that interest you. That all of this is simply in your best interest. In other words, everyone is competing for their audience in the most targeted way possible. And this is only going to continue, whether users like it or not.
3. Providers are getting personal, honest and transparent.
Online shoppers have become more sophisticated and expect more from vendors. They want to know who runs a shop and where the products come from. They have become cautious now that the market has become flooded with so many counterfeit goods. Successful e-commerce vendors are therefore doing everything in their power to build trust – precisely the trust that you once put in the mom-and-pop shop around the corner. In 2015, the big challenge for merchants will be to find a way to communicate with customers in the virtual shopping mall in a personal, reassuring, unobtrusive and coherent way – thereby setting themselves apart from the competition. This is because many customers respond ungraciously to this “customized saturation” and many marketers will focus on creating offers that make a more reputable impression. Their campaigns are packaged with more subtlety – in the form of pleasant little movie clips tailored to your interests, for example. While these may come across as a bit more homespun and ordinary, they also seem more sincere, as if they were sent by a good friend. Their strategy: simplicity. And they do give the illusion of simplicity. Their strategy: transparency. And the communications do at least convey the illusion of transparency.
4. Keywords are becoming professional copy.
Anyone who is already becoming annoyed with catchphrases like “content is king” and “content marketing” will have to accept that these terms aren’t going away anytime soon and that content is becoming increasingly important. This will also impact online business, as there will be a need for professional copywriters who not only offer content as a sort of “gray tone” but, instead, know exactly how to get customers to go from looking at things to actually buying them. Aside from the psychology of persuasion, this requires knowing something about interactive design. And designers will inevitably have to deal with getting the content developers – in other words, the copywriters – on board as early as possible. This is the only way to build shops that turn over more than average sales.
5. Die Registrierkasse geht online.
Retail business is anything but dead, even though online business is growing. A marriage between online shops and brick-and-mortar establishments is now emerging. Apple has shown with Apple Pay where the cashless, web-based path will lead – even if the journey has only just begun. On the other hand, many retailers are showing what they have learned, by operating closely intertwined virtual and physical stores side-by-side. Online/offline POS systems will also become increasingly common. All the salesperson needs is a tablet computer, which provides details about stock, availability, customization options, pricing and so on. Furnished with movies, pictures and information, it is the ideal sales tool. And it also serves as an easy-to-use cash register, as a terminal for entering customer information, as a communication tool…
6. The shop in your pocket.
Experts are predicting that a quarter of all online purchases will soon be made from mobile devices. But apparently there are still some e-shops that have not yet made the transition to responsive design. In other words, some businesses are actually choosing to miss out on 25% of potential sales. After all, anyone who has ever tried to use their mobile phone to make a purchase in a shop designed for a screen at least 21″ in size will be more than happy to skip this frustrating experience in the future. Instead, they’ll go straight to a competitor who has taken their needs into consideration.