2017 promises to be an exciting year for e-Commerce companies with developments taking place in many different areas. Technology, as usual, is the key player in driving momentum forward and in this post, we’ll take a look at the key B2C trends we are likely to see happen during the year.
Increased localisation of services
One of the big trends in 2017 will be the move towards localisation by internationally trading businesses. Many enterprises are now opting to create hybrid systems where they will centrally manage their apps on a single, global platform whilst localising their operations to meet the needs of consumers in different parts of the world.
The move towards localisation will go beyond providing content in the right language or enabling sales in local currencies and will begin to cater for local variance in customer preference with regards to how users interact with call centres, email, online chat and social media.
More innovative fulfilment
Customers are increasingly wanting improved fulfilment services from retailers. They want easier ways to pay, quicker and more convenient deliveries, improved packaging and better returns.
In order to meet these demands, companies are coming up with innovative ways to fulfil orders: allowing cash on delivery, using drones to deliver products, increasing the number of local collection points where customers can pick goods up from (post offices, for example), and using a wider range of delivery methods. This has led to many new delivery companies setting up and taking part in what has been called the uberisation of fulfilment, with stiff competition causing businesses to bid for delivery jobs.
It is expected that during 2017, next day delivery will become the norm and businesses wanting to keep up with the competition need to put in measures to ensure they can provide delivery in the same timescale.
The marketplace platform continues to flourish
The marketplace model, where companies sell their products via a third-party website and pay commission to the platform’s owner, will continue to remain popular, especially in Asia where there are constraints on foreign direct investment in e-commerce.
This popularity does not just exist with B2C sites like eBay, Alibaba or Etsy, it can also be found on B2B platforms, for example, Fiverr, where freelancers sell their services to other businesses. Indeed, there are a whole plethora of marketplace sites covering virtually everything that can be sold: physical products, property, utilities, insurance, hotel rooms. 2017 will see even more of these platforms start up, many of them specializing is specific market niches.
However, there is a change in the air. Customers are pushing for disintermediation and would rather deal directly with brands than act through an intermediary. This means we are likely to see big brand names being given their own space and greater prominence on these platforms. eBay already has big retailers, like Argos, doing this.
Global brands head for growing markets
With the development of localisation, improved fulfilment options and the rise of marketplace platforms, it has never been easier for global brands to reach out to new e-Commerce markets, especially those in Asia and the Pacific.
The reputation that global brands enjoy means that there is already a demand for them in many growing markets. The fact that the branded products are scarce there makes them even more desirable to consumers who often see them as status symbols because of their current rarity.
Where economic conditions are right, global brands will continue to seek out these new markets during 2017 using technology as the means to advertise, sell and deliver their products.
Expansion of mobile commerce
There has been a definite shift towards mobile commerce and this is set to boom during 2017 and beyond. More and more people have access to smartphones and the phones themselves are being developed to make mobile shopping easier and more convenient. This applies to both online shopping and shopping in store, where you can now use your phone, watch or other wearable to pay for goods and services.
Indeed, mobile technology is blurring the distinction between online and bricks and mortar shopping. Using GPS, for example, businesses know where customers are (even inside stores) and can send them tweets, SMS or emails offering them deals in real time so they can make a purchase there and then. They can buy and pay for this on their phone and pick it up as they leave.
Online, the use of responsive websites and the development of retail apps means that customers can more easily make purchases wherever they go. This is being aided by the expansion of 4G networks and the increase in wi-fi hotspots. Once 5G arrives in the UK, around 2020, the potential is even greater.
Companies that sell online need to focus on the mobile market even more if they are to stay competitive, with the development of a mobile-friendly website and a retail app top of the list of priorities.
Of course, if you are wanting to take advantage of the things we have mentioned in this post, then it is essential that you have the right e-Commerce hosting in place. Whether you are a global player needing enough resources to run a string of localised services or a small retailer wanting to sell to a wider national market, you will need hosting that provides all the storage, performance, security and guaranteed uptime your business demands. At the same time, you will need a host that understands e-Commerce and which can provide you with 24/7 technical support to make sure your critical apps stay online.
If you are looking for e-Commerce hosting that can provide all this and more, and at affordable prices, check out our dedicated servers and cloud hosting. Alternatively, give us a call on 0800 862 0890 and we’ll be happy to discuss your needs.