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What should e-commerce retailers look out for in 2017?

The festive holidays are almost upon us, the last gifts have been wrapped, the kids have decorated the tree and I’m looking forward to some quality time with my family over the holidays. I’m also starting to get really excited about what’s in store for e-commerce in 2017. This is traditionally the time when we start making predictions for the year ahead so here are the top five retail trends I think we’re going to be seeing a lot of in the New Year.

1. The rise of the chatbot: There was a big spike in interest in chatbots in 2016 and we’ll all start to have more and more interactions with them in 2017. These automated chat agents answer your questions and are increasingly becoming our first point of contact with brands. According to a report by Absolunet, 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 5 to 10 times higher following a chat session.

2. Predicting consumers shopping habits: 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 – think toner cartridges, nappies and groceries. According to recent data from the Business2community, companies that use predictive analytics saw 73% higher sales compared to those that didn’t.

3. Real-time customization: This means giving shoppers access to unique content like 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.

4. Virtual shopping experiences: We’re already seeing big leaps in virtual and augmented reality technology. On Singles Day this year Alibaba launched Buy+, a virtual reality shopping experience that transported Chinese shoppers to Macy’s in New York where they could enjoy a virtual spending spree. We’ll 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 can’t wait!

5. 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 isn’t optimized for multiple devices you could be missing out!

Exciting times are ahead in the world of e-commerce. We’ll continue to keep a close eye on the trends ahead and help you jump on board to improve your own customer interactions and gain a stronger foothold in the wonderful world of e-commerce. As well as expertise we’ll also be extending our fulfillment operations across our global network in 2017. Stay tuned for new developments and a Happy New Year to you all!

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