E-commerce is currently experiencing growth at an average rate of 20% per year, and its rise is set to continue. As such, the Internet economy can be counted among the fastest-growing sectors. In 2015, worldwide revenues from B2C e-commerce will reach almost 1.5 trillion euro. In the USA and Europe, e-commerce already represents a little over 5% of the GDP. The UK is ahead of the pack with 12.4%, followed by South Korea with 8% and China with 6.9% (Statista.com). Online shopping behavior is evolving simultaneously with the unstoppable growth of e-commerce. This increasing maturity comes with a number of new trends.
Mobile commerce is becoming the norm
The Digital Analytics Benchmark study by IBM shows that the number of mobile purchases increased by 28% in the holiday period of last year compared to that of 2013. This figure establishes m-commerce as the most important trend for 2015. According to recent research by Goldman Sachs, by 2018, the global turnover from m-commerce will represent half of all revenues generated by e-commerce. In other words, mobile commerce is becoming the norm.
Social media as a driver of e-commerce
Since last year, developments in social commerce have been following one after the other in rapid succession. This growth is predicted to continue in 2015, especially now that both Twitter and Facebook are introducing “buy” buttons. The biggest advantage of social commerce is that consumers can be influenced earlier in the purchasing process. Although only a small majority of people are currently purchasing via a social platform, the impact of this opportunity is increasing.
Big data for hyper-personalization and more
Companies are sitting on a mountain of relevant data. Reeling customers in requires optimal use of this data to create a personalized service for website visitors. In addition to the commercial and marketing objectives served by big data, it is also important in determining optimal stock levels within logistics networks—a task that becomes all the more challenging when it comes to cross-border networks. Not surprising, then, that an increasing number of e-commerce businesses are investing in analytical profiling.
Click & Collect necessitates multi-channel integration
Consumers are discovering the benefits of the Click & Collect system and are being catered to with a sharply increasing number of collection points and automated booths for self-service collection. However, with every new collection point comes an increase in pressure on the supply chain. This makes having excellent logistical processes a must. Incorrect orders and returns must be avoided. But to best serve both online and offline customers, stock management holds perhaps the biggest challenge. Legacy systems still struggle to create an integrated overview of stock levels across all channels and locations.
Fast, faster, fastest
For e-tailers, the speed of the service they offer stands to make all the difference. This is true on several fronts. It’s not only the loading speed of webshops that is of crucial importance—visitors on smartphones are guaranteed to be lost after a wait of four seconds, or even less—the expected delivery times are also getting shorter and shorter. In order to make good on such promises, logistical expertise is a must. Late cut-off times and quick picking and packing processes hold the key to success. Leading e-commerce companies are working with a guideline of 30 to 45 minutes from the moment that the online order is placed until the parcel is ready to be dispatched.
Closely related is the factor of precise delivery. This means expanding our services to offer greater transparency and to communicate more precisely when the delivery will take place.
One thing is sure: the growth of e-commerce shows no signs of stopping in 2015. Its potential remains enormous, but companies will have to ensure they avoid the pitfalls. Online consumers are critical, well informed and hold high expectations. It is therefore more important than ever to create a consistent shopping experience across all channels.