Ecommerce implementers have an increasing number of marketing options at their disposal—thanks in part to the quickening pace of big-data-driven applications that simplify the ability to successfully engage 1:1 with consumers across multiple channels in real-time. Amid these mounting options, embracing the trends and related strategies that will prove the most profitable are key. Here are some of the most promising ones.

Increased value of user-generated content and rise of video

In 2016, the right content will continue to separate those who use it and those who use it well. What is the right content, right now? Statistics show that consumers—the millennial crowd in particular—are putting a lot of weight on what their peers say online. This includes social media comments regarding product value, customer commitment, and competitive pricing.

According to one social influence study, millennials deem user-generated content (UGC) to be 20% more influential when it comes to purchasing and 35% more memorable than other types of media. And why should the world of e-commerce care? Just two years ago, millennials accounted for 1.3 trillion in direct annual U.S. spending and are set to exceed the baby boomer generation in terms of population and purchasing power by 2030. That said, implementing content strategies that align with millennial thought processes will significantly impact e-commerce profits in the years ahead.

Power of eCommerce video content

Another content trend to consider is the continued rise of video content.

According to Business Insider, online video is growing faster than most other advertising formats and mediums. In fact, they estimate that video ad revenue will increase at a three-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.5% through 2016. Support for such revenue growth lies in many things including the fact that 64% percent of consumers are more likely to buy a product after watching a video about it (according to one comScore study). Additionally, programmatic buying platforms are helping marketers quickly and effortlessly place digital video ads in front of the right demographic at the right place and time in their omni-channel buying journey.

Convergence of the mobile and in-store experience

In 2016, the mobile and in-store experience will increasingly converge as online retailers continue to connect the dots using big data-driven applications. Having as much real-time info as possible about a customer (where they are at any given moment, what platform they are on, what they bought yesterday, where they went after they shopped a site, as an example), will be critical in creating the kind of personalized shopping experience that wins clicks, earns loyalty and captures revenue share.

In 2016, e-commerce achievers will be the ones who recognize that mobile is no longer a mini-website, but an assistant…one that consumers carry in their back pockets to help them make the most efficient purchasing decision across all of the platforms they use. And if you are looking for numbers to prove the point, omnichannel customers tend to shop more frequently and spend 3.5 times more than single-channel shoppers. Therefore, one key to 2016 profitability is doing the kinds of things that not only accommodate—but impress these multi-channel shoppers

The Rise of Social Commerce

While social media has traditionally been embraced as a channel ripe for product discovery, 2016 will usher in an era of social selling, aka “social commerce.” The groundwork has already been laid for social to be a hotspot for profitability for several reasons. First, the millennial population shows a great and growing deference to social channels as a way to sort out what to buy and who to buy from. And, this generation greatly influences the purchasing decisions of those generations both before and after them

This from a ShareThis consumer study on millennials: “Millennials are highly active, influential, cross-device, channel-agnostic sharers. They share more often, and in turn are more likely to be listened to: millennial users are 3.6x more likely to share content on social networks, and 2.3x more likely to click back on content shared by their peers.” From this, it’s easy to see that adopting a strategy that engages deeply with millennials and uses social channels as an avenue for sales in addition to product discovery can prove a profitable, strategic direction to take.

Just as in 2015, e-commerce strategies are set to shift in the coming year. But this time, the pace will be even faster. Those who start the New Year already in the lead will win the race to a profitable 2016.

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