The Future of eCommerce

We Asked 10 experts, 3 questions regarding what lies ahead for ecommerce.

1 – What lies ahead for eCommerce?
2 – The world is now mobile obsessed, what do you predict for mobile in the next 12 month?
3 – How crucial is platform selection before building an eCommerce website?

Nick Raushenbush
Co-Founder, Shogun
Twitter: @nickraushenbush

What lies ahead for eCommerce?

Personalized shopping experiences, delivered on mobile devices. The abundance of user data on the internet may be scary to some, but it has also created an expectation that websites and applications are “smarter” and should know what they want. From web page content that matches the visitor’s geolocation, age, ethnicity, to product recommendations that take into account other products they have previously viewed or purchased, personalization is becoming a staple for conversion rate optimization.

The world is now mobile obsessed, what do you predict for mobile in the next 12 month?

By 2021, mobile ecommerce sales are expected to account for 54% of total ecommerce sales. Shoppers will expect online experiences built for the mobile screen size and sites to adopt checkout processes that can be conducted without pulling out their purse or wallet (think digital wallets and one-touch payments). They will also expect these experiences to be custom to their personal profile and product interests.

How crucial is platform selection before building an eCommerce website?

The switching costs of moving from one eCommerce platform to another seems to be getting lower as technology improves, and more agencies offer these services, but it’s still a massive undertaking. Choose your platform wisely. Try to forecast where you will be as a business in 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, and choose the platform that you are going to grow into in the midterm and will fit your business for the better part of a decade.

Brian Beck
Ecommerce Expert, Advisor, and Author.
LinkedIn:@ecommerceexpertbeck

What lies ahead for eCommerce?

Ecommerce is dead. It is now just Commerce, enabled digitally. Digital commerce goes far beyond just a selling channel, and is a way buyers of all types – consumers and businesses – research and learn about products and interact with brands. Today’s buyer expects the same personalized service they get in other channels and on industry-leading web sites such as Amazon. Continuously shrinking human attention spans has set the bar for customer expectations even higher, and you have less time than ever to deliver a relevant experience through all channels, whether you are selling in B2C or B2B markets. This means that the foundational elements of digital commerce no longer just include a great transactional web site, with well-functioning site search, navigation, fast checkout, and fantastic web merchandising. Today’s customer expects seamless experiences across all channels – desktop, mobile, sales force, in store, call center, customer support, and other data.

Companies that have the foundation in place are able to look forward, push the boundaries of digital commerce, and create competitive differentiation. These are the drivers of the future of commerce, and they include advanced personalization, Internet of Things (IoT), and virtual and augmented reality. Those sellers that engage their customers and deliver value beyond transactional Ecommerce are ahead of their time, and driving the next generation of commerce.

The world is now mobile obsessed, what do you predict for mobile in the next 12 month?

Mobile commerce is a critical component in meeting the overall customer expectation. Customers have clearly voted in favor of mobile as the center point of how they want to interact with brands, particularly in B2C retail Ecommerce, and increasingly in B2B.

How crucial is platform selection before building an eCommerce website?

Launching an Ecommerce web site for any business is disruptive, time consuming, and expensive. Why would you want to do it more than once? Unfortunately, many companies fail to do the upfront work, and end up in a re-platforming situation just a year or two after launching a new web site.

A careful platform requirements and selection process can avoid these challenges, and is thus a critical step in the Ecommerce website rollout process. The process involves clearly setting your business objectives, carefully documenting web site requirements, and engaging in a thorough vetting of platforms against these criteria. Platform selection also goes well beyond feature comparisons to capabilities. While admittedly self-serving, I always recommend working with an expert when going through this process. There is too much to know and too many subtleties for companies to tackle this on their own. Hiring an experienced consultant to guide you through this process will pay back in spades when you have a stable, well-functioning Ecommerce solution driving revenue for you for 5 to 10 years or more.

Steve Deckert
Co-Founder, Smile.io.
Twitter: @stevedeckert

What lies ahead for eCommerce?

As ads become more expensive and less effective, leading retailers will increasingly rely on organic social & referrals from their existing customer base to cut through the noise. Direct-to-consumer, digitally-native-vertical-brands will create brand identities that increasingly resonate with Millennials & Gen Z. In order to continue growing these digitally-native brands will begin opening retail stores & using traditional media to reach new consumers

The world is now mobile obsessed, what do you predict for mobile in the next 12 month?

The trend of mobile commerce continues, and mobile phones produce more ecommerce checkouts than desktops & laptops combined. Mobile-first designed experiences increasingly replace responsive design.

How crucial is platform selection before building an eCommerce website?

There is no one-size-fits-all ecommerce platform. Retailers must consider their requirements today – and their future requirements – before selecting a platform. Platforms that enable quick experimentation will enable retailers to test out new strategies & find the winners.

Alexei Alankin
Founder and CEO, Eventige Media Group.
LinkedIn: @alexeialankin

What lies ahead for eCommerce?

The most significant changes coming are the ability to combine AI, machine learning and personalization to create an intensive and responsive shopping experience. The online shopping experience will become more personal and intuitive.
By incorporating Big Data, marketers will be able to segment and target audiences on a one to one level, reducing ad spend while improving ROI.

The world is now mobile obsessed, what do you predict for mobile in the next 12 month?

Mobile continues to grow in all areas of eCommerce. Marketers must ensure that every page loads fast and is easy to navigate on mobile.
Building AMPs, Accelerated Mobile Pages, is the future of responsive mobile pages.

How crucial is platform selection before building an eCommerce website?

Selecting the right platform is critical to building a multi-channel enterprise with sustainable growth. The platform is your foundation upon which everything else in your business originates. It determines whether you end up with a Leaning Tower of Pisa or the Burj Khalifa.

Michael P. Hill
Digital Marketing and Product Management Expert, Out of the Sand Box
Twitter: @michaelphill

What lies ahead for eCommerce?

Right now the e-commerce industry is full of “hot topics” that seem to be competing for every store owner’s attention — ranging from augmented and virtual reality to accessibility to alternative payment methods. While these are all exciting areas, it’s tough to pin down which will ultimately “win out” or lead to more sales, so I always caution against people getting “sold” on a single area that could be nothing more than a passing fad.

It’s almost certain that global triggers will also play a key impact on the economy and business in many locations — likely some positive and some negative for ecommerce. Business owners will need to pay attention to the effects of tax law changes in the U.S., the Brexit (and the EU as a whole) as well as changes to importing and exporting rules could affect their business directly, particularly via Asia.

The world is now mobile obsessed, what do you predict for mobile in the next 12 month?

Mobile will continue to play a huge role in e-commerce and that will continue the classic clash of limited screen real estate vs. content. However, I’m hopeful we may be reaching a point where mobile users are, just like desktop users, realizing that not everything has to fit neatly in that little screen or remain visible at all times — which is good news for online businesses looking to drive engagement and to quell that frustration of trying to “fit” everything on mobile screens.

How crucial is platform selection before building an eCommerce website?

All platforms have pros and cons and different feature sets or approaches to how they do things.
For smaller stores selling a few dozen products and filling a handful orders a week, starting on a platform that ultimately doesn’t work out may not be a huge deal — other than the owner having to invest more time into rebuilding a store. However, stores with large inventories and order volume likely will find the cost of migrating platforms later to be extremely painful.

Even if you’re just a small business starting out, make a note that when you see yourself hitting certain benchmarks, you may want to review any limitations or challenges with your e-commerce platform and evaluate if it’s time to make a switch sooner than later.

Jordi Izsak
Senior IT Ecommerce Project Manager, americaneagle.com
Twitter: @_Americaneagle

What lies ahead for eCommerce?

For eCommerce merchants, mobile commerce is going to continue to grow on a massive scale. However, consumers are still shopping in-store, having a multi-channel presence will increase the merchant’s ability to reach consumers. Marketing to these consumers accordingly, in ways specific to their buying process and needs will be just as important.
Another future change is the normalcy of free or very low-cost delivery. Customers are willing to pay for a guaranteed delivery date. Reigning in the returns process is also essential for merchants moving forward. Return rates are skyrocketing and merchants will see success for finding ways to cut down on returns.

The world is now mobile obsessed, what do you predict for mobile in the next 12 month?

In 2019, mobile eCommerce will focus even more on the user experience. Mobile first design will become even more prominent. Consumers want an easy mobile experience where relevant information is at their fingertips. Consumers want as few clicks as possible when adding to cart/checkout. Optimize, optimize, optimize will be the trend. Bounce rates increase the longer it takes a page to load. Another shift will be more PWAs (progressive web apps), a hybrid of mobile/responsive site and mobile app.

For consumers to prefer mobile to desktop they will need easy ways to pay, including chase pay, Amazon pay, apple pay, etc., simplified checkout, and saved carts or sessions. Barcode scanning and image scanning will also be useful for eCommerce mobile apps.

How crucial is platform selection before building an eCommerce website?

Platform selection is one of the MOST CRUCIAL steps in building an eCommerce website. However, before you can begin platform selection, you need to understand your business needs and goals. Beyond evaluating the current needs and wants, look to the future 12, 24, 36 months. Plan out the ‘wishlist,’ whether it’s featured on the website or company goals. Being able to grow with a platform in the short-term and long-term is just as crucial as making sure it fits the needs for your immediate current state.

It’s critical to always be iterating. Platforms with extension/module add-on communities, regular feature release schedules, and a programming team willing and able to help with you on custom development is important. Beyond this, when evaluating, understand the hosting costs, upgrades, maintenance costs and time, and the release schedules. It isn’t always about the flashy/glitzy features; the platform must deliver the basics as well – tools you might take for granted.

Hal Williams
Marketing Manager, Pixel Union
Twitter: @pixelunion

What lies ahead for eCommerce?

With so many emerging trends in ecommerce, it can be tough to tell passing fads from important trends. One thing we see sticking around is the importance of offering an omnichannel experience. An omnichannel experience not only puts products in front of customers across multiple platforms, it does so in a cohesive, branded way.
Make sure to use a unified voice and tone across product pages, social media posts, and email campaigns. Pair that voice with consistent visual branding and customers will easily recognize your brand wherever they come across it. Then monetize these interactions. Tag your products on Instagram, set up a Facebook Shop, become a respected voice in online communities, and you’ll soon see the benefits.

Investing in an omnichannel experience now will help you prepare for what lies ahead in ecommerce—whether that’s voice search, augmented reality, or something we haven’t even heard of yet!

The world is now mobile obsessed, what do you predict for mobile in the next 12 month?

We already know customers prefer browsing on mobile—now it’s time to convert that traffic to more sales. What’s the most important thing you can do to increase your mobile sales? Provide a seamless mobile experience.

Let’s look at Shopify. Merchants are already seeing the benefits of investing heavily in an enhanced mobile checkout process. Including accelerated payment options like Google Pay, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, and Shopify Pay will boost your mobile conversions. These options allow your customers to save their information and only fill out two lines of information instead of the usual 16 or so. Mobile shoppers are usually on the go, so catering to their lack of time and attention will make you more money in the long run.

How crucial is platform selection before building an eCommerce website?

Platform selection is crucial. You would research neighborhoods before opening a brick-and-mortar shop, right? So why wouldn’t you do the same with ecommerce platforms?

Although there are plenty of options out there, we always recommend Shopify. Its ease of use, scalability, and out-of-the-box integrations are next-level. Whether you’re a new entrepreneur or a big-box retailer moving online, Shopify will provide the foundation for your business to succeed. Want some proof? Take a look at this graph showing search trends for the major ecommerce players over the past five years.

If you’re looking to do some market research, here’s how to find out which ecommerce platform a store is using. Look up stores in your niche and brands you admire to see which platform they’re on, and then decide if it will work for you!

Karthik Chidambaram
Founder, DCKAP
Twitter: @DCKAP

What lies ahead for eCommerce?

The e-commerce landscape is changing every day. One-Click Experience / One-touch experience and product is ordered is not far away.

The world is now mobile obsessed, what do you predict for mobile in the next 12 month?

Mobile experience needs to evolve more. It is hard and not easy on most sites to order online from mobile as opposed to a desktop. Search on mobile is a big challenge. Search, Scroll, trying to navigate, – all this needs to change. We will get one step closer towards a great mobile experience in 2019.

How crucial is platform selection before building an eCommerce website?

Oftentimes, merchants / digital marketing managers think that once they choose a platform all their problems will be solved. The converse is true. They do not even have to do a platform change (depends on what platform they are in). Improving basic things like search on the website will have a huge impact on conversions and ROI. While platform selection is important, the work actually starts after you are live with your platform, It does not end…

Ben Oren
Founder of PineTree Marketing
LinkedIn: @benoren

What lies ahead for eCommerce?

Despite the major leaps eCommerce has made in recent years, I believe we’ll be seeing even more developments in personalization and payment methods. One of the biggest gaps that remains is the way to know who the customer is, despite him or her choosing to complete a purchase as a guest. Nowadays, there’s even more emphasis placed on personalization, and all signs point to it being very effective – with one caveat, the user has to be logged in. Unfortunately, we’re still seeing a large number of guest checkouts, hindering personalization efforts.

The world is now mobile obsessed, what do you predict for mobile in the next 12 month?

I believe that more and more eCommerce sites will switch to mobile first sites, in oppose to a responsive site which is quite popular. This switch will guarantee an elevated mobile shopping experience for users who are choosing to shop on mobile in greater numbers every year. In order to see more mobile transactions and revenue, greater emphasis needs to be placed on the mobile checkout process which remains less friendly than desktop despite considerable improvements. As long as mobile checkout lags behind in-app checkout, I don’t see a massive mobile wave approaching.

How crucial is platform selection before building an eCommerce website?

The importance of choosing a platform varies depending on the business’ size and type. Some businesses can swap platform without major impact. However, for larger eCommerce sites it’s always a pivotal step.

I recommend heavily weighing any platform switch to ensure it meets your business’ demands both today and in five years’ time – minimum. Don’t let yourself get sidetracked by flashy features that your business can’t enjoy in the near term, or even realistically in the mid-term – because you’ll be paying for them from the get-go, damaging your margin.

Corinne Watson
Partner Content Manager, BigCommerce
LinkedIn: @corinnewatson1

What lies ahead for eCommerce?

From a brand standpoint, I predict that a lot of upcoming growth in ecommerce is going to be dependent on two things, both on two sides of a spectrum: One will be the hyperactivity in using data and AI to inform marketing decisions, and the other will be a focus on relationship-building and marketing initiatives that are performed offline.

Creating a storefront, loading in your products, and setting up some standard marketing campaigns (content, email, paid) isn’t going to cut it in this age of extreme competition. Brands that will come out on top will be the ones that dug deep into uncharted, innovative, and risky marketing informed by data and analytics.

Additionally, taking things offline with in-person activations, pop-ups, and brick-and-mortar partnerships will quickly become the new norm. Ecommerce is somewhat cyclical — in the past few years, brands moved online, and now they’re adding brick-and-mortar back into their strategy to capitalize on the popularity of experience-driven, in-person commerce.
It’s not about building an influencer anymore — it’s about creating a product that people love enough to tell their friends about it.

The world is now mobile obsessed, what do you predict for mobile in the next 12 month?

Instagram checkout is a huge indicator of where I see mobile ecommerce moving. Now, the experiences that were solely reserved for social media browsing are now becoming intertwined with shopping functionality, which all informs a tidal push towards molding experiences together. The quicker someone can purchase an item, the better. I see improvements in mobile ecommerce following that sentiment, with an emphasis on in-app purchases, one-click checkout, and other fusions between social media and shopping.

Aside from the marriage of those two experiences, I predict that mobile ecommerce will remain somewhat stagnant in 2019, with the majority of focus being on innovating other channels like in-person and voice shopping.

How crucial is platform selection before building an eCommerce website?

Choosing your ecommerce platform is one of the most important decisions you can make about your online business, and should absolutely take place before the creation of your website.

Though many platforms today have overlapping functionality, the interface and infrastructure, specific integrations, and design templates are often unique to each platform.
Your platform will inform other decisions about the design and development of your ecommerce website, so it’s crucial that you lay that foundation before taking other steps; otherwise, you’ll likely find yourself making time-consuming and costly renovations later.