What should e-commerce retailers look out for this year?

Screen Shot 2017-02-14 at 3.07.25 PMCharles Brewer, CEO of DHL eCommerce, lists down the top five retail trends to look out for in 2017, including more developments in the fields of augmented and mixed realities, taking online shopping experiences into the realms of science fiction.

The festive season has just passed and I am starting to get really excited about what is in store for e-commerce in 2017. Traditionally, we start making predictions for the year ahead around this time so here are the top five retail trends I think we are going to be seeing a lot of in the new year.

Rise of the chatbot

There was a big spike in interest in chatbots last year and we will all start to have more and more interactions with them this year. These automated chat agents answer your questions and are increasingly becoming our first point of contact with brands.

According to a report by Absolute, more and more big brands are using them, such as McDonald’s, H&M and L’Oreal, to name a few. How will they help e-commerce? Apparently, live chat users spend on average 5%-30% more and the buyer conversion rate is five to 10 times higher following a chat session.

Predicting consumer shopping habitsScreen Shot 2017-02-14 at 3.14.22 PM

Predictive analysis uses big data to understand buyers’ shopping habits and predict their next purchases based on previous behaviour. Sounds very “Big Brother” but there are many situations where it could come in handy — just think toner cartridges, nappies and groceries.

According to recent data from Business2community, companies that use predictive analytics saw 73% higher sales compared to those that did not.

Real-time customisation

This means giving shoppers access to unique content such as product recommendations and add-ons based on their preferences, geographic location, market trends, demographic group, past purchases and brand interactions — automatically. And their next visit could be entirely different based on previous visits and the merchant’s current promotions.

Virtual shopping experiences

We are already seeing big leaps in virtual and augmented reality technology. On Singles’ Day last year, Alibaba launched Buy+, a virtual reality shopping experience that transported shoppers in China to Macy’s in New York, where they could enjoy a virtual spending spree.

We will see even more developments in the fields of augmented and mixed realities, which will take our online shopping experiences into the realms of science fiction. I cannot wait!

Omni-channel shopping

With so many different devices at our fingertips, we can now shop just as easily on the move as we can at home. According to Google, 85% of online shoppers in the US started a purchase on one device and finished on another. These multi-channel shoppers often shop more often and spend over three times more than single-channel  shoppers. So, if your Web shop is not optimised for multiple devices, you could be missing out!

Exciting times are ahead in the world of e-commerce. We will continue to keep a close eye on the trends ahead and help you to jump on board to improve your own customer interactions, and gain a stronger foothold in the wonderful world of e-commerce.

As well as our expertise, DHL will be extending our fulfilment operations across our global network in 2017. Stay tuned for new developments and a Happy New Year to you all

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